It’s not my first interview, but it’s the first ever interview of me as a writer. You can read it here. The interview was done by Amanda J Evans for her blog where she does a series of weekly interviews of Irish indie authors, and this week it was my turn.
Reading through it, I can’t help but feel there are things I should have answered differently, or things I forgot to mention that are more important than what I did say. Then again, I guess that’s normal.
Most of all, I’m a bit embarrassed about the question about who my favourite Irish author is. I’ve lived here for eleven years, and I’ve called myself a writer for almost half that time, but I know next to nothing about current local writers. I also don’t know much about current Swedish authors either, so I guess that evens it out a little.
I probably should try and read more Irish writers though. There seems to be plenty of them around, and I’m sure I’ll find something to suit me. It’s more a question of taking the time to pick out a book really – once that’s done, the rest will come easily, I’m sure.
The first book in the Lost Dogs series is now available for pre-order. It’s called Last Fight of the Old Hound, and you can pre-order it here (US) or here (UK). The cover image is a temporary one, and the real cover will be revealed once it’s done – in about two weeks.
Also, if you’re interested in checking out a sample of the story, you can download the first four chapters for free, here.
I’m going to try and not rant too much about this release, but rather focus my energy on making sure the next few parts come out in time. I’m still excited to publish a book, but all the advice I’ve heard about advertising suggests that the best way to promote a book is to write a sequel.
Once I have a few books out I’ll start looking into promoting the first one more carefully, and then I’ll have to start figuring advertising and suchlike.
For now though, there’s just the one book. Next one to be released Soon<tm>.
This weekend the e-book version of Emma’s Story will be available for free on Amazon.
The book will be free on the 2nd and 3rd of June, Pacific Time. Over here in Europe that’s from 8am in Ireland and the UK, and from 9am in Western Europe. Similarly, the promotion will end at 8/9am on Monday morning over here.
This is one of the promotional options that Amazon provides, and after a friend of mine tried it out I decided to give it a go as well. The theory is that if you’re releasing a new part in a series, you make the first part available for free to try and encourage new readers to check it out.
Emma’s Story is a standalone novella, so there’s no sequel to it, and in that regard there’s not much point in making it free. It’ll be interesting for myself though – to see what it’s like, and perhaps get some interest in the story.
Alos, there will be more books released, and they’ll more than likely be in a series.
If you’re curious to learn more about my story, you can check it out here.
It’s not quite time yet, but it’s also not far off. The deadline I set myself for my next book is June first. By then I want it to be ready enough that I can start the publishing process.
I’m pretty sure I’ll make it.
I have a few test readers still reading the story and they’ve promised to have it done by June 1. If they’re not done, it’s not the end of the world. I’m confident the story is in a good enough shape I can publish it without making any major changes, and I should be able to iron out the majority of the spelling mistakes myself.
Sure, I’ll miss some, but for now I can live with that. The goal isn’t perfect – it’s good enough.
Also, June first isn’t when I’m publishing. The paperback will be out in mid-June, and the ebook in early July. Even then, I still have time to fix things. This book is the first part of a longer series, and I won’t start advertising it until the third part is out, which will be in September some time if all goes to plan. By then, I expect to have tracked down and located all of the spelling errors I missed on my own.
After that, further errors will have to be fixed as they are discovered. That’s part of the beauty with ebooks. If there’s a spelling error I can correct it and upload a new version of the book. Supposedly, everyone who’ve bought it will get the new version pushed to them, but I’m not sure how well that really works in practice. Perhaps they need to request it – or there may some other requirement before it gets done.
Anyway – it’s not much further, and soon Lost Dogs #1 will be available. I’m starting to get excited.
Good morning, it’s Monday once more. Time for some questionable writing advice:
A story, or a book, is a promise. The book promises to tell an entertaining story, and the reader promises to stick with it until the end.
If the book breaks its promise, the reader is okay to do the same. If the book isn’t what it promised to be, why continue reading it – and why read anything else by the writer? Time is, by and far, the most valuable thing we have, so why give it to an inanimate object, like a book, that doesn’t keep its promises? (thanks for reading btw).
However, a book, in and of itself, can’t make any promises of its own.
The promises are understood by the reader based on their impression of the book. The cover image, the title, the blurb on the back, and whatever they see inside when they open it up for a look. In other words, you as the writer are responsible for making the book give the right kind of promise.
Pick a cover image that gives the right impression. Write a blurb that’s relevant to the story.
Write a story that lives up to the expectations it creates.
The promises don’t stop outside the book, but keep being made within. Whatever happens throughout the story sets an expectation in the reader’s mind for something that will happen later. It’s a promise of what’s to come.
Did I go on about this last week too?
Yes, I’m pretty sure I did, but I’m doing it again, because I think this is important. If you make someone a promise you have to keep it – even if it’s to a person you’ve never met and who only knows you from picking up your book.
So how do you know what kind of promise you make to the reader?
Simple answer: you don’t know.
You’ll just have to guess. You have to figure it out yourself based on the story you’re writing. With some parts of it it’s easy, and with other parts it’s not. This is one of the reason it’s a good idea to ask someone else to test read your stories and give you feedback before you release them into the wild.
Since you already know what’s going to happen, it’ll be hard for you to expect anything else.
Monday again. Time for another little commentary on writing:
This is about expectations and about how they affect our impressions.
The picture above is of a cup of coffee. Except, it’s in a mug made of glass, and there’s a candle behind the mug, so the light plays around in the shapes in the bottom of the mug.
It’s a black coffee, because there’s no milk and no sugar in it. But it’s also not super strong, so the light from the candle comes through on the sides and tints the coffee red. It could also be the coffee isn’t actually black, but really a very dark red.
When you read the phrase a cup of black coffee, you probably won’t picture anything like what you see in the image above. Right? You already have an expectation of what a cup of black coffee looks like.
Black coffee comes in white porcelain cups, and it’s proper black – perhaps with a few bubbles from the pour on top. Put the term into a google image search. You know what you’ll see – or, well, you won’t be surprised at least.
What does this mean for us as writers?
I get two things.
The first is that readers already know what a lot of things look like, so there’s no need to describe them. It’s enough just to mention what they are.
Time for examples. Picture the following:
A woman hurrying to work on Monday morning with a cup of coffee in her hand.
A woman looking out her window on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee in her hand.
The two sentences are quite similar, but they paint very different pictures. There’s no information at all about what the woman looks like, and nothing at all about her cup of coffee, or how she’s dressed, but still we get an image.
Sure, the image might be vague and indistinct, but there’s something there, and there’s a vibe to it too.
We all have expectations of what things look like, and if you play to that, you can use it to great effect in your writing.
The second thing I’m getting is that things aren’t always what they seem. We all know that coffee is black, and we all know that snow is white and the sky is blue and the good guys always win in the end – right?
Except maybe that’s not always how it is. Sometimes black coffee is red, and sometimes white snow is blue, and sometimes the sky is all kinds of weird colours when the sun is setting and the clouds are on fire.
As for the good guys, well, life’s tough sometimes.
Keep this in mind when you’re creating your stories. Your readers will have expectations, and you can choose to live up to them, or to try and circumvent them. Either is fine, just try and make sure to pay attention to what expectations you’re setting for your reader.
TLDR: My book Emma’s Story is included in P.D. Workman’s list of new releases – here. Please check it out. :)
Up until about an hour ago I’d had a pretty bad day.
I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather lately, and this morning was no different – gloomy and miserable. Not a good start, but I was well enough to work so off I went.
Then, once I got to the office, the left side of my neck and the shoulder began acting up – aching real bad, and stabbing pains as soon as I moved carelessly. I managed to get hold of my physiotherapist, and I got an appointment for lunch. I would have made it back in time for work after, but I decided to take the rest of the day off to recover.
I got myself squeezed and pinched and needled, and I might have been hurting worse after the therapist was done with me. They’ve done good work in the past though, and I trust them. I’ll be fine.
Then, I opened my e-mail…That doesn’t mean I wasn’t grumpy and annoyed to having to go through the pain and not being able to write, or work, or anything really. I went home and watched a movie.
An acquaintance of mine, author P.D. Workman, had included my book Emma’s Story in her list of interesting new releases – here. I’d asked her about it months ago, before my book was even released, and in all the excitement of the release it had slipped my mind and I’d completely forgotten about it.
This was not a paid promotion. I’m on the list because I asked, and because P.D. was kind enough to include me. That kind of thing means a lot to me, so please do check her page out.
The mail, and my book’s appearance on the list, completely turned my miserable day around. Sure, my shoulder still aches, but I’m smiling as I’m typing this.
What’s more, I feel like my book is in good company. I went through the list, and I got the impression the majority of the books are pretty “serious” in nature – stories that deal with difficult questions about the hows and whys of life and of growing up.
I’m happy to be a part of it.
Emma’s Story may be fantasy with a bit of a fairy tale feel to it, but it’s also a story about expectations, trust, and the difficult decisions we all have to make now and then.
P.D.’s new release Two Teardrops is about a young woman dealing with some pretty serious issues in her life. I haven’t read it, but I’m inclined to give it a try. The book seems harder and darker than mine, but I get the feeling the themes run along similar lines. If you already read and enjoyed Emma’s Story, I have a hunch you may enjoy Two Teardrops too.
Well, start with the first part in the series: Tattooed Teardrops.
I added it to my reading list on Goodreads (here), and hopefully I’ll get to it before too long. I’ve got the feeling it might give me some good insights for my character Alene in the Lost Dogs series.