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How NaNoWriMo has helped me get to hell with my hand basket.

Hi everyone, so that was week 3 of NaNoWriMo, everything running along smoothly for you? Still enjoying it or over it by now and waiting for December first to crack open the advent calendar door and eat the crappy choc inside?

I actually had a good week at NaNoWriMo this week, despite not making it to 5,000 words on any of the days. I managed around 3,600 words last Sunday, and 2,000 words on Thursday… but that’s it. The rest of the week was just bits and pieces, some blogging and a lot more research for There’s no place like Hell. All the same I’m proud of what I achieved as it got me to a point in the story I’ve had stuck in my head for a long time, and it was such a fantastic feeling to finally get it down on paper. Those who follow me on social media may have heard me go on about ‘meeting a headless man, driving a white van, named Karen’. Well, it finally happened! And we’re now on our way to hell! We’ve even made it onto Charon’s (not Karen’s) ferry to pass through the veil to the other side. Yes, penguin high fives all round as that seriously is awesome news. 🙂

The thing I like the most about this week’s writing is how enjoyable it has been. It’s taken me into areas I knew I was going to touch on, but I never realised how in depth I was going to go into the Other World afterlife. There’s no place like Hell had always been about my protagonist Stephanie going to hell to save the soul of someone she didn’t particularly like, but had to help as part of her new role as ‘Protector of souls’. The basic premise was she felt the deal he’d made with a soul collector, Wroth, was null and void as he’d done it when drunk. That took me into an interesting part of research into contract law and exactly where you stand if signing contracts or making deals while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Yeah, don’t do it, in most cases you’re still legally obliged to stay committed to that deal.

I also had fun looking into the different portals or gateways to hell that are reported to being around the world. My favourite one being a giant sinkhole in Japan filled with boiling hot, red mud. What tickles me so much about it is the newly created visitor centre, heath spa and gift shop. What every gateway to hell needs… don’t you think?

When I then started doing more of the actual writing of the story, I loved how it took me off on a tangent I’d not even considered. The whole mix of faiths, beliefs and interpretations of what happens after death intermingling together, wow! The dullahan and Ankou reapers and soul collectors going about their tasks, the journey through the veil in the white van that has seen better days and onto a huge passenger ferry big enough to take vehicles. The interactions with the deities of the dead, how they’ve moved with the times, the population and the global spread. Originally the whole travelling through the afterlife, and the afterlife part of it itself was just this small thing in my mind. I was so focussed on getting to hell and the whole demon interaction I have planned there I’d not even realised this was going to take place. And I love it. I just hope my readers do too.

So this week has been a good NaNoWriMo week for me. I’ve not just enjoyed the discovery through research; I’ve also enjoyed the discovery through my own writing. I know that sounds lame, but I quite honestly don’t often know what is going on in my own stories until it happens… until I’ve written it down. Mr Vontant is a classic example of this. I never planned on him, never expected him to turn into one of my favourites, never thought of having him be what he is… which would be a spoiler so I’m not about to give that away. I’m pretty sure it isn’t explained until at least book four or five. But, see, if it wasn’t for him now there wouldn’t be a book four or five. He is part of my Other World weaving. I knew hell was going to influence my protagonist quite a bit (more spoilers if I mention what I mean) but I’m amazed and simply love how much the Other World’s afterlife has influenced me. I’m very much pro belief. It doesn’t matter what your belief is as it’s personal and should only mean what it does to you. Heck, as long as you intentionally harm none with your beliefs and don’t go around cramming them down other people’s throats, you’re fabulous. Even if that belief is to not believe. Yes, there are no atheists in my afterlife. As my afterlife is very strongly belief driven and if your belief is there is nothing… you won’t be part of it. I think I’ve got a good support system set up for the agnostics too, pamphlets and interviews with the different deities and all. 😉

I hope your NaNoWriMo has been as fruitful and fun. One more week to go before we can all start patting each other on the back for a job well done. Even if you don’t make that glorious 50,000 words the original NaNoWriMo was created for, even if you don’t make your own personal goals… as long as you’ve done some writing, loved and enjoyed that writing – and any interaction with other writers as you do it – then you’ve done well and had a successful time. Being a Writer is awesome, but like anything in this world – don’t compare yourself and your skill to others. You’re you, so just be you. Yes I say my writing is in a similar style as… insert names here. But my writing is still my writing and it’s all me.

To those publishers who don’t want a distinctly Australian voice as it doesn’t sell – I don’t care, don’t sell my work.

To those people who look at commercial fiction and urban fantasy in distain as around here we only accept you into our social circles if you write poetry, literary fiction or historical romance – I don’t care, your loss not mine. I’m an anti-social cow as it is and wouldn’t turn up even if you did invite me. 😉

To those who look down their nose at me as I am ‘merely’ an eBook author while their books are on paper in print – take a look at your royalties. If you’re happy with your 5% of royalties for a paper book compared to my 45%, good on you. Well done.

To those of you who just write for yourselves and for your friends to read. Who only publish on blogs and fanfic sites and the like – bravo! You are Writers with the capital letter and be proud of your work too as you’re writing is just as important.

Not meaning to sound too Yoda like, but write or don’t write. But when you do write, be yourself, write the way you want to, not the way you think you need to to make money, be famous or get published. If you take nothing else away from NaNoWriMo, take this: As in everything we do in life, be yourself. It makes the job a lot more fun and show people just how amazing you are. If they can’t see it their loss, not yours.

Wow! I hadn’t meant to end with a bit of a bitch and then a pep rally, but there you go. I’ve had a stressful few weeks out in reality and so writing has really helped me relax and find myself again. That and the nut milk cacao lattes I’ve been making. 😉 And did you see the chocolate biscuit recipe I created on my Foodie blog? Oops, shameless plug.

Summing it up – write for yourself, enjoy what you write. If you’re lucky enough to find others who like reading it as much as you do, that’s a bonus. But the fact you’ve written it and enjoyed the journey, then you’ve already ‘made it’.

After recent feedback on Bonnie’s Story: A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematic asking if there will be a sequel… I suddenly had a desire to read it again. And despite spotting areas I felt could do with an edit, I really enjoyed reading it as a book. The fact I’d written it meant nothing. I fell in love with Rogan and Bonnie all over again and can’t wait to learn what else they get up to… Once I finish with Stephanie in another four books time. Yes, I may have written about them all, but that honestly doesn’t mean I know what they will do. I love that about writing… I’m merely the tool these people use to appear on paper. 😉

So NaNoWriMo companions – keep writing when December hits, keep enjoying the journey and keep being yourself as you do it. It’s the best person you can be and you’re awesome at it!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in Writing

 

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Trying to get my NaNoWriMo groove back.

Week two of NaNoWriMo done and dusted, how did you do?

Me? Well, I transferred some old articles from an old blog to a new one, plus I worked on my new Foodie blog (amazed how popular it’s getting already). Oh, and I managed a few penpal letters, but am still behind on those. Sadly, that’s about it writing wise. Mind you, this is not for the lack of trying.

This week just happened to be a week I had to take my well-worn Author badge off and get back into my Parent uniform. Some of you know I have a quirky and rather special son, Horde#3. Well, this week we started the assessments to help us figure out the level of his special quirkiness. He is still who he is and this official label will just help us ensure he gets the right sort of support to help him cope with life and a world that he’s not quite wired for. But by god the amount of bloody paperwork that you have to go through to do it is annoying! And so that is how I spent a lot of my week. In waiting rooms, filling out forms, emptying our near depleted bank account into someone else’s due to the lack of funding and support for this sort of thing… but it’s all been worth it. It has just meant next to no writing.

No, this is not an excuse or me fishing for sympathy, I don’t want or need sympathy. This is me explaining why I didn’t get my NaNoWriMo on this week. There is nothing wrong with my son, he’s just wired differently to ‘the norm’. And as I generally despise ‘the norm’ for being so dull, boring and restrictive, I don’t care. I just want to ensure he is surrounded by caring people who understand his different outlook on life and support him rather than stop him enjoying it. Heck, being born with a sodding great big hole in his heart and having open heart surgery at the age of nine months old never slowed him down, so I doubt this will too! 🙂

Oh, and I did win the latest round of Mother of the Year with him on Thursday by combining his all-time favourite thing with his all-time favourite food… by taking him to a sushi train. 😉 And yes, I have now set a new precedent and it will be demanded each time we go visit his new Psychologist. Oops!

Adding to my already busy week, my only ‘free’ day wasn’t so free as my eldest child, Eldest Horde, had a student free day on the Wednesday. And I would much rather go do something with her than sit and write – sorry fans, my kids come first – and that day was a write off (ha ha) too. So we went to a local Wildlife park we have annual passes for as she is our animal lover and wannabe zoologist.

Side note – All my kids are all above average in the intelligence department… I think I’ve mentioned this before? And Eldest Horde has wanted to be the world’s leading expert in Sifaka since she was roughly five years old. She turns ten in January and simply absorbs information on animals. When she runs out of work in her class at school and has to wait for everyone else to catch up (near daily) she works on research projects about animals. The Amur Leopard had been given a mention in the past and she wants to start raising funds and awareness for them. Right now she is working on a report about the Inland Taipan. Yes, the world’s most venomous snake and a near neighbour to our Adelaide Hills. She’s found a picture of one with a Santa hat photo shopped onto its head and wants to use that as this year’s Christmas card… Yeah, no.

So! She and I went off to Cleland Wildlife Park and our first stop was to go visit the Inland Taipans they have there as, still being a child, she wanted to tell them all about her project. As you do. It was a lovely morning there; the native plants were all in bloom and absolutely filled with bees. Such a happy thing to see when bees are having such a hard time in our over polluted world right now. It was a warm day so there were skinks skittering about everywhere too. The little splendid wrens and local finches were dipping and diving to catch bugs mid-flight all around us. So you can see there was a lot to fuel my Writer’s mind even if my hands were still.

I even got to feed one of my favourite water fowls, the Magpie Goose. Still being a Darwin girl at heart, I miss these prehistoric looking critters that roost in trees at night. So was happy to get to feed one, and take a snap shot. Yes, I am going Instagram crazy these days. I blame this whole author branding thing. But I have also noticed a blog with pictures gets a better response than one without. Go figure.

Me feeding a Magpie Goose at the Cleland Wildlife Park.

Me feeding a Magpie Goose at the Cleland Wildlife Park.

Wednesday afternoon met with a new ‘dilemma’. My middle child, Middle Horde, had left her glasses at home that morning and so when I was picking Horde#3 up from pre-school at lunch time (half days on Wednesday) I took her her glasses. She immediately asked to come home too as Horde#3 was coming home, Eldest Horde was at home, she felt left out. Sucker that I am, I gave in and off we all went. Eldest Horde and Horde#3 had a pre-arranged afternoon at my folks, so Middle Horde and I came home and played computer games and board games together. No writing. I did mention my kids come first, right?

Then more appointments and more paperwork and here I am today with next to no actual writing done, but some decent blogging, penpalling and baking done – I made monkey bread. Seriously, you need to follow me in Instagram to see this stuff!

Monkey bread. Foodie fans, so sorry... but it did indeed contain wheat and dairy. Eeep!

Monkey bread. Foodie fans, so sorry… but it did indeed contain wheat and dairy. Eeep!

Next week, despite the desperate need to catch up on all that housework I also seem to have not done during my busy week, I plan on catching up on some real writing. And now that the working bee we had pencilled in for today has been postponed, I’m starting right now! I’m back in that cross legged position on my bed, got my tunes plugged into my ears, got my cuppa and got all my reference materials. Writing Gods, bring it baby! 🙂

My bed, laptop, note pade, glasses and a few of my beloeved books currently helping me in my research for 'There's no place like hell. I may be broke, but still love my Writing job. ;-)

My bed, laptop, note pad, glasses and a few of my beloved books currently helping me in my research.

Until next time,

 

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2014 in Writing

 

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Week One of NaNoWriMo over, how did you do?

So that’s week one done and dusted, how did you do? Did you make your goal or pledged amount of words? Did you start out well, plough on come hump day and then end the week playing solitaire with the “I’ll get back to my manuscript as soon as I win this game…” mantra?

Most importantly – Did you have fun? As quite honestly I really don’t care about the rest as long as you nailed this last one. 🙂

Me? Well, I started out shaky as I got back into the mindset to write as Stephanie in There’s no place like Hell, and then I had to push through the mental blocks that have been stopping me from writing all these months. I averaged around 1,500 words on the first few days. Not the desired 5,000 words but better than the 0 I had been managing for so long.

I then had an epiphany around Wednesday and got past the final mental block! The Ankou was working with a tribe of Impa Shilup – of course! And all the words just poured out. I was up until just after 1AM getting the Ankou and a demon out of my house before I could go to bed. I only managed 3,600 words or so – but I achieved so much I didn’t care I didn’t make my goal.

NaNoWriMo moment - finally getting to bed at 1AM.

NaNoWriMo moment – finally getting to bed at 1AM.

 

I was then stuck at home with a sick child for the rest of the week and, quite frankly, I could not write more than a few hundred words a day. If he wasn’t sick and needed cuddles, he was talking the legs of a donkey through wet cement. Not the ideal writing environment. :-/

And by the end of the week, as I’d been working hard on Haus Frauing as well as Authoring, I was at my wits end this morning. So escaped for some ME time at one of my favourite chocolatier cafes – Red Cacao.

I spent my quarterly royalties on the following – spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with natural yoghurt. Plus the all-important MUG of salted caramel hot chocolate. Inner peace gained, pat on the back for selling ten copies of my books last quarter and some much needed ME time taken to remind myself of the good things that come from writing.

 

Red Cacao spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with fresh strawberries and natural yoghurt.

Red Cacao spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with fresh strawberries and natural yoghurt.

 

Now that I’m home again I am rejuvenated and plan on ignoring my family for the rest of the day and just writing as that’s what it’s all about.

Yes I’m not that famous (I’m famous in my own backyard as I put it) and I don’t earn buckets of money… but you know what? I’m averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars for my reviews, people who are buying my books are loving them and I got a bloody good hot chocolate and scrummy cake out of it. I am a winner. This is what NaNoWriMo is all about – being a Writer, being an Author and simply enjoying it for what it is and celebrating every small achievement.

My well earned royalties payments spent the best way I know how. Thank you for buying my books - this is thanks to you. :-)

My well earned royalties payments spent the best way I know how. Thank you for buying my books – this is thanks to you. 🙂

 

So in week two of NaNoWriMo, keep this in mind. Are you writing to keep up with everyone else? Are you in a race to write the most words no matter what the quality? Are you, like me, using it to inspire yourself into finishing a manuscript? Or are you just jumping in and enjoying being part of this big, wide world of Authors and Writers celebrating our love of the written word this November?

Although you can write for a competition, the writing itself is not a competition. Don’t just be filling up the page if you’re not feeling the story. Don’t feel pressured by NaNoWroMo, it doesn’t own you, it’s not going to hunt you down and rip your arms off if you don’t follow the rules or pledges you’ve made. It’s there to inspire you, not stress you. And if there are people out there making it stress you, go find new people as they’re not worth it. Easier said than done by a loner who can interact with others but is simply fine singing her own praises. 😉

Okay, here comes week two of NaNoWriMo – let’s jump on board, write our hearts out, laugh at our outrageously silly typos, encourage others no matter how much or how little they write and just high five all the other Writers out there. We may not all be Authors, and if we are we may not even be successful ones. But we’re having a good time doing what we love best – writing.

And some of us are making the most of it with spiced carrot and date loaf with a salted caramel hot chocolate. 😉

 

Red Cacao salted caramel hot chocolate. You add the hot caramel yourself - yum!

Red Cacao salted caramel hot chocolate. You add the hot caramel yourself – yum!

 

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Writing

 

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This isn’t the droid, I mean NaNoWriMo you’re looking for…

Hello everyone, yes I’m whipping that Halloween story off the top of the list pretty damned quickly as today is the first of November and so the rustlings of the infamous NaNoWriMo can be heard around the globe as Writers and Authors alike prepare themselves for a bit of a writing knees-up.

What is NaNoWriMo I hear a non-Writer ask? Well, the basic premise is:

This illustrious event is held annually throughout the month of November where Authors and Writers alike are encouraged to write at least 50,000 words of a new story. Starting November first and heading out from there. There are blogs, groups, pages, hashtags, all sorts of things to allow Authors and Writers to gather and boast about their work, to brain dump, to share ideas and so on. It’s an international gathering of Authors and Writers and is pretty amazing and overwhelming all at once. The goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t so much to flood publishers with thousands of freshly finished and hastily written manuscripts come December (no matter what some people may think). It’s really just meant to be a supportive, interactive and fun event where Authors and Writers can come together and discuss their passion, be motivated to write and all in all have a good time with the thing we love best – Writing.

Okay, so now you’re up to speed on the basics of NaNoWriMo. The rules and ideals may vary from place to place, site to site and group to group… but! That is the general idea all the same.

As for me, I’ve been invited to attend various things and participate in various groups for NaNoWriMo for a few years now. And, as flattered as I always am, I always seem to be in the middle of either finishing a manuscript or working on its edits for publication. Heck, I’m an emerging Author, I need to be adding books to my name if I ever want to really get out there and get more attention. So, never wanting to start a new project when so engrossed in an existing one, I decline all these lovely invites.

It happened again this year and I felt like such a dirty stop out. I mean, I’m an anti-social cow at the best of times and my real life friends know not to expect me to interact or participate that often in social gatherings… As it’s just not me. See my post on mental health! But I still feel guilty when I don’t attend, just in the same way I feel guilty now for declining another NaNoWriMo.

And so I’m making a stand and deciding to be with my fellow Writer’s and Authors, if only in spirit. I feel I’m not really breaking the rules, merely moulding them around my reality so it looks like I’m fitting in. I do that so well in real life so I thought why not. 😉

As some of my friends and followers of my Facebook page know, I’ve been struggling with working on my current manuscript There’s no place like Hell for some months. My supernatural creatures don’t quite gel, I keep writing scenes I love and want to keep… that just aren’t sitting well with me for now and causing me to baulk at continuing to write. Normally when I hit these patches I just press on and clean up the mess afterwards or, more often than not, realise it does all actually work when I look at the entire story. So far this year, bumpkis. I do admit other things in my life have been helping me run away from writing as they needed my attention more… but I’m now embracing what I can of NaNoWriMo and using its creative energy to finish my manuscript. Ta da!

Yes I know you’re meant to write a whole new story during November, but see my previous comments about being mid manuscript and moulding the rules around me. I had set myself a goal to have There’s no place like Hell finished by August. I missed that. Now I’m aiming for the end of November and hoping the good will, momentum and energy of a month long international Writing festival will give me the strength, ability and will power to make it happen.

Wish me luck; my aim is at least 5,000 words a day. It’s time to ignore the house and garden (as neglected as they already both look), pull up my often mentioned big girl’s panties and get on with it. On top of my 5,000 words a day will be my blogs (I’m hoping to launch three new ones soon and have regular posts to them), my penpals (yes I do have some) and the usual day to day writing I do for various things. Yes, you can tell why I want some luck on my side. 😉

To all Writers, Authors and people wanting to start out on the road to writing by jumping into this year’s NaNoWriMo – Good luck to you. Let your desire to write, your passion to create and your love to communicate guide you through a successful month ahead. And even if you don’t make it to 50,000, true Writers and Authors aren’t judging you for it. We’re applauding you for doing your best and just having a go and celebrating this fantastic month with us.

So, grab your pen, pencil, crayon, paper, notebook, laptop, whatever and get out there and Write!

May your creative mind mingle with others and make the most beautiful literary music.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

PS: May your first few weeks be fuelled with left-over Halloween goodies like this. 😉

halloween4

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Writing

 

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I’m on tour with Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!

So it’s been a week since Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! was let loose into the world and so far so good. In the mean time I’ve not been sitting there waiting for the money to roll in as, well, that’s not how it works for an emerging Author and not what I set out to achieve. I write as I enjoy it and I share my stories in the hopes others will enjoy it too. And, so far so good! 🙂

What I have been doing this week is a virtual book tour with Bewitching Book Tours, and I’m loving it! I highly recommend any emerging Author wanting to get their books noticed (whether paper or an eBook) to invest in a virtual book tour. And I highly recommend Roxanne at Bewitching Book Tours if you’re writing in the paranormal or urban fantasy genre.

Yes I know a virtual book tour doesn’t physically take you anywhere and it’s not as glamorous as being able to swan in and out of a book store smiling for pics and signing autographs… but let’s face it fellow emerging Authors – that isn’t going to happen for the majority of us, no matter how good our books are.

Don’t poo poo the virtual book tour as it is a fantastic way to get exposure to your work. Throw in a give-away to entice the readers and you can double your following of fans on social media. Now you have their attention though, it is up to you to keep it. The tour has done its magic and it’s now time to do your own.

A virtual book tour is definitely a worthy investment – if you find the right one that best matches your work – and shows your book off to far more people interested in that genre than an ad on say Facebook ever could. Go the virtual book tour! 🙂

As for me, what am I doing on my tour? Well, below you will find my schedule. I technically should have blogged about this last Monday when it started but my sharing and caring hordes have passed on a couple of different winter bugs to me and so I’m a little behind in my asset shaking. Still, the links to where I’ve already been are still valid so please feel free to go check them out. Not just for my work but for the other awesome Authors out there shaking their assets just as hard.

My tour schedule:

September 1 Guest blog
Mythical Books
http://www.mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/

September 2 Spotlight
Cassandra M’s Place
http://www.cassandramsplace.com/

September 3 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.  
http://www.pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/isis-vampires-and-ghosts-oh-my-by-janis.html

September 4 Spotlight
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy,Sissy. Too!  
http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com/

September 5 Spotlight
Deal Sharing Aunt
www.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com

September 8 Spotlight
Lisa’s World of Books
http://www.lisasworldofbooks.net/

September 9 Spotlight
Jodie Pierce’s Ink Slinger’s Blog
http://www.jodiepierceauthor.blogspot.com/

September 10 Interview
Roxanne’s Realm 
http://www.roxannerhoads.com/

September 11 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books
http://www.fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com/

September 12 Guest blog
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
http://www.creativelygreen.blogspot.com/

September 15 Interview 
Bewitching Book Tours Magazine
www.issuu.com/bewitchingbooktours

September 16 Top Ten List
Darkest Cravings
www.darkestcravings.blogspot.com

September 17 Spotlight
Deal Sharing Aunt
http://www.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/

September 18 Spotlight
Soaring Eagle Publicity 
http://www.soaringeaglepublicity.com/

September 19 Interview
Eclipse Reviews
http://www.totaleclipsereviews.blogspot.com/

September 20 Spotlight
Cover Reveals 
http://coverreveals.blogspot.com/

September 22 Character Interview
Author Karen Swart
http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/

September 23 Spotlight
Sapphyria’s Book Reviews 
http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

September 24 Top Ten Comfort Foods
Review
Cabin Goddess
http://www.cabingoddess.com/

September 25 Spotlight
Share My Destiny
http://sharemydestiny.blogspot.com/

September 25 Review
Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
http://www.pratr.wordpress.com/

September 26 Spotlight
CBY Book Club
http://cbybookclub.blogspot.co.uk/

September 29 Guest blog
VampChix
http://www.vampchix.blogspot.com/

September 30 Interview and review
happy tails and tales 
http://magluvsya03.wordpress.com/

**Please note: I have been having difficulties with WordPress actually REMEMBERING the links in the list. I have added them repeatedly and they work… and then they stop working. It is a WordPress fault. So if a link is not working, please just copy it and paste it into a new browsing window. Sorry about this, but as said – this is a WordPress fault.

There you have it, my virtual book tour. I hope to see you around the sites and there is always the option for you to come and say hi to me on my Author page on Facebook or to tweet me on Twitter.

I’ve really enjoyed the interviews and blog posts I’ve done so far and I send out a big thanks to Roxanne and all the people who opted in to host me on this tour. You are all awesome and emerging Authors appreciate your help… well, this one does anyway. Thank You!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Should I be a thin skinned Writer or a thick skinned Author?

In this post I want to touch on how I approach the wide world out there now I’ve been published.

Basically do I let all the snubs and rejections and cold shoulders get to me and be a thin skinned Writer… or put my big girl’s pants on, toughen up and just keep going and shaking my assets and trying to get my work some attention no matter what people say, as a thick skinned Author?

It’s one of the most common problems placed in anyone’s life. Do I take all the hardships and criticisms personally and crumble and sit there feeling sorry for myself and go nowhere in life? Or accept these negatives as well as positives and keep going? It’s not just something a Writer/Author faces, we all have moments like this in our lives and how we handle them decides not how the world then looks at us, but how we then look at what else the world has to throw at us.

Recently I’ve not only received a lot of new rejections to things from story submissions to Writing Societies feeling I fail to meet the grade as to what they’re looking for. I’ve also discovered (by Googling it) that my book Bonnie’s Story is being used by spammy  Malware sites to try and trick people into downloading whatever evil crap it is they are trying to push on people. So, do I fall to pieces as no one wants me and people are abusing my name and work by using it to spread malice?

I sort of wanted to at first as it was just so frustrating to not be acknowledged for being good at anything… except to use my work to spam people. And then I thought about it and went, hang on, I’m better than that. I chose to be an Author, to be out there in the public eye with my work. I need to toughen up, take this all head on and do something about it!

I couldn’t do much about the rejections, or the fact that these people couldn’t even be bothered informing me I was rejected, simply went with the ‘no reply means rejection’ approach. Now, I can understand this from a Literary Agent or Publisher as time is money to them and they will therefore not waste their precious time bothering with rejections… but when this approach comes from people who have been in my situation and who always prose on about how they can relate to the struggling emerging Author and all that. It may just be my near twenty years in Customer Service and therefore high standards for customer service… but if I was them, I would take the time to at least send a form letter advising of said rejection. Don’t say you sympathise if you’re then going to act just like the people you yourself have just posted a massive whinge on. I may be a nobody Writer, but I always take the time to reply to any questions, comments or emails sent to me. It is manners people!

Oops, that rant came from nowhere! 😉 Anyhow, what I was trying to say was I couldn’t do anything about the rejections… except obviously have a rant… but I could do something about the spam. I reported them to Google, to the website hosts, to whoever I could. Most of them are now gone and dealt with. So what I say to Writers/ Authors in the same position is don’t just sit and have a cry about it… do something. Our lives are what we make of them so do your best to make it better.

Similar to this is last week I had a heck of a lot of web traffic to my blog from people in the USA via Facebook. All traffic was to my Media and Reviews page and I had no idea why as it’s not directly linked to any of my Facebook pages. Being the cynical and mildly paranoid cow I can sometimes be I started to wonder what it was all about. Had someone shared the link to this page and people were going to check it out to be amazed? Or, more likely, have a laugh at my expense? Thin skinned Writer me thought the most negative from it and allowed it to get to me. I mean, surely these people could have the guts to at least say to my face what was so fascinating about that page… it even has the ability to leave a comment, but did they? No twenty something folks in the USA visited, not one of them said a damned thing to me.

Thick skinned Author me then stepped in and thought, hang on: This is my public image they’re looking at, my professional persona as an Author. Is there something there that deserves any ridicule I may be getting? I looked at the page in question, realised it was quite out of date and rather shabby and so I updated it and made it more professional. Weeded out what I felt were all the crappy bits. Coincidence or not, the traffic stopped. Either it was all in my head or I had removed what everyone felt was so funny to go read on and then laugh about behind my back. Heck, I took something that may have been a negative (may have just been in my head) and turned it into a positive. Took my whingey, paranoid, thin skinned Writer self, told it to toughen up and made it all better.

When I get a review, good or bad, I take from it what I can. Most of the reviews I’ve received have been good ones, I take from it that people liked my book. Yay! And yes I’ve had some bad reviews too, so what? Have you seen some of the bad reviews top sellers have gotten simply because the reader didn’t get the book? Sometimes I’ve wondered if the reviewer actually read the entire book and didn’t just base their review on the free sample… but hey! Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I thank them for having had the time and decency to actually leave a review. See, thick skinned Author. 😉

So, how do you handle the big wide world out there as it runs over your work, your public image and your blog with a fine tooth comb? Do you take every rejections, snub and criticism with an emotional breakdown and swear to never write again!? Or do you go ‘fair enough’ and do your best to make it better?

Me, I’m a no one, my work and talents are rejected and snubbed all the time. I fail to make shortlists in competitions, I’m not deemed interesting enough to appear at emerging writer festivals and talks and my last quarter sales consisted of four copies – two of which were bought by family members.

What am I doing about it? I’m looking at new competitions, I’m trying to get myself out there more to get more experience under my belt from the festivals that rejected me, I keep writing no matter what and, you know what? One of my whopping four sales was made by either a school or library in New Zealand via Wheelers. So what if I’m a no one, I’m a no one who is out there as an Author (no matter how small scale it is) and needs to keep at it if I want the world to notice me. I am, and always will be, a Writer and nothing will ever stop me writing. Who cares if no one else reads my work, writing it is such fun all the same.

Being in the public eye, no matter how small you are, is a harsh place to be. It is up to you to choose whether you face it as a thin skinned Writer or hold your head up high, square your shoulders and mutter ‘bring it on!’ like a thick skinned Author.

Until next time,

Janis XXOO.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Writing

 

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Why the world needs to stop looking down its nose at eBook Authors.

Yes this sounds like I’m about to launch into one of my froth at the mouth rants usually saved up to annoy friends and family on Facebook, but it’s not.

I will admit that the attitude towards eBook Authors is a pet peeve of mine as it’s usually as derogatory and demeaning as those ‘well-meaning souls’ who ask a House Wife/ Hubby why they can’t go out and get a real job. As I am also a self-committed Haus Frau, perhaps there is a biased to both these opinions… but I’m not here to turn them into chips on my shoulders or, as said, rant… merely try and point out that eBook Authors are real authors too. We won’t go into House Wife’s as all I can say to those dear souls is the next time you’re accused of just sitting around on your bum all day and not actually doing any work – do it. Trust me, the results are fun. 😉

So, yes, eBook Authors… are you sick of people not taking you seriously as an eBook isn’t a real book and any man and his dog can get published? Well, I know I am! No, I don’t need my little soap box to stand on for this, honest. I just wanted to start by saying it does still take a lot to be published, no matter how you do it, and it doesn’t just end with writing a story.

Okay, so yes there are a lot of eBooks out there flooding the market, but they’re not all of the same quality… or lack thereof. To start with, there are the big names in publishing houses cottoning on to the new technology of eBooks and converting works of their contracted  – big names I may add – Authors to eBooks. Quite a few of my favourite Authors have been converted to eBooks after being worldwide sensations in paper form.

Then there are Authors who have made a name for themselves in paper book that are now out of publication contract and so have the rights to their work again. What do they do? Self-publish to cut out the middle man and keep all the royalties themselves. Some of these Authors have massive fan followings that have happily moved over to reading their work as eBooks and good on them. But I think that is where the fear and negativity is setting in throughout the publishing world… as if an Author doesn’t need a publisher or a literary agent and*gasp* keeps all the sales money for themselves… Oh the horror! And up springs the nasty remarks about self-publishing and eBooks are for those who aren’t ‘real’ Authors. If publishers can’t make money out of the situation… it can’t be good and honest work. Right? Please note, this is a theory.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is some absolute drivel out there thanks to how easy it is to self-publish and I won’t deny it. Yes, but have you seen some of the drivel you get in paper books too? I’m not just looking at the Vanity Press stuff either… Though they did get a long, hard look to start with. 😉

Self-publishing does indeed have the down side that every man and his dog – and from some evidence the dog was the editor (that’s how bad it is) – can now be an Author. And because of the profusion of work now out there – good, bad and downright ug-lee – we all get tarred with the same brush. ‘Oh you’re an Author!’ says a stranger and their eyes light up… Only to go dull and uninterested when you go on to say your work is in eBook format. Please, have you even bothered to read an eBook by anyone before you make this judgement? Or is it okay to just make it on something you don’t know or haven’t tried because that’s what ‘real book’ types do? Seriously, weren’t you taught as kids to at least try something before making a judgement? Oops, starting to rant, will do my best to pull up before I nose dive.

Okay, so I will freely admit here and now that I’m not saying my work is award winningly brilliant and that the stigma of it being an eBook is why it’s not a world famous title… no, my books are good but I am an emerging Writer who has a lot of exposure and experience still to gather. I may get acclaim one day… I may just continue on as I am making enough for my chocolatier hits. But the fact that the writing societies that I now belong to still look down their noses at eBook Authors, I’m embarrassed… and not for myself, but for them.

So what if I’m an eBook Author? For my second book I was offered the opportunity to be published in paper… and I chose a publishing contract with my current eBook publisher over this other deal. Why? Well, I like my current publisher and have faith in their ability to help me achieve my dream of Brownie money from my royalties. 🙂

In this day and age how is a publisher of eBooks any different than that of a paper book publisher? Well, for one thing the royalties given to the Author are higher for an eBook. For another, the publisher’s running costs are lower and therefore their eBooks are more affordable to the general public. It still costs to get something published, even an eBook. For me there is the artist for the cover design, the proof reader and editor to go over my work and hopefully remove the majority of the stuff ups and typos through to the advertising and ‘asset shaking’ once it’s published. And I admit I’ve not paid a cent… as it’s all covered in my publishing contract. Just because I am a published eBook Author, this does not mean my publisher a modern day vanity press or a self-publishing sight that accepts anything that comes with a cheque attached. My publisher is a real publisher who certainly doesn’t accept any old thing but does happen to focus on eBooks. And, surprise! My books are real books too. They still get registered with an ISBN and deemed a ‘published work’ by the literary world (whether they look down their nose or not). The only difference with my work is it just isn’t printed out on paper. And in the paperless society we’re trying to become, isn’t that a good thing?

Let’s all remember that just because someone has written a book that can only be found in eformat doesn’t mean it’s not a real book, it’s not a good story and that they are not a good Writer… Or even deserve their own ‘I’m an Author’ badge – homemade or otherwise. The world’s attitude needs to change as we eBook Authors are here to stay and looking down your nose at us just makes you look kind of funny. 😉

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Writing

 

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How did I become published? Really? You really want to know?

Now, I know for a fact that this is a subject I researched a lot when trying to become an Author. I read blogs, FAQ, publishing sites and googled my little fingers off trying to glean just that little bit of extra magical info out as to how to make it happen.

And since becoming an Author I’ve had people asking me to pass on the sage advice I obviously found in my research. Unfortunately all this does is cause a hunted look to appear on my face and for me to think (occasionally, possibly even say aloud): “Oh God! They’re actually asking me as if I know! What do I say? If I say the wrong thing it’ll all be my fault!” and similar panicked thoughts along that line.

Yes I am a published Author, but no I don’t know if I have any good advice to give you. But I will give it a go and allow you to make of it what you will… as long as what you make of it isn’t to steal it as your own work and put it up elsewhere. Yes, I’ve had it happen. Aint being an online Writer grand?

The basic advice I would give is research the subject for yourself (heaven help you if reading my blog is part of your research 😉 ) and never be afraid to ask questions. I will also add that if you really want to become an author, don’t take the rejections personally and just keep trying. Then again I’m a terrible example as, despite being ignored by all the major publishing houses and all literary agents I approached, I got offered my first publishing contract within four months of starting to pitch my first book. And I got my second offer within four days of pitching my second book. Seasoned, clever and well known authors I sometimes chat with tell me this is a sign I’m a good Writer. I, personally, see it as a sign of being very bloody lucky! 😉

I fear I am maybe glossing over this all a bit too much, I tend to when I really don’t feel I should be seen as an expert. So will try and break it down to the following:

 

  • Look at your work
  • Consider your audience
  • Research – other people’s work, publisher’s and/or literary agents, the lot
  • Use common sense
  • Never be afraid to ask or try
  • Realise only the very lucky make it big with their first book

What do I mean? Here’s the waffle version of these points:

Look at your work

Now I don’t mean painstakingly read and edit it every single time you work on it. I honestly feel if you do that you’ll never get it finished and the most important thing to know, when seeking to be published, is to approach publishers with a finished manuscript! This isn’t a ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ moment. This is a ‘look at me, here is my complete work, love me’ moment. Keep the overall formatting simple (most places seem to like double spaced Times New Roman in twelve point font size – but do check their preference first). Don’t go for super duper fonts hardly anyone has heard of, intricately curved chapter headings or over the top page layouts. From my time as a technical document writer I can tell you that it doesn’t matter if it is a one hundred thousand word masterpiece or a one page instruction on how to change a password – keep the formatting simple! And finish your work before running over the words with a fine tooth comb.

That’s right, once the manuscript is finished, that is the moment you take to edit and proof it. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes as well as consistency and flow. If you’re using something like Word all those red, green and blue squiggly lines under your work can be annoying, but they have a function too. I will always investigate why Word seems to feel the need to add squiggles. Sometimes they are incorrect as it just isn’t used to you using it to write a story… but I’ve found eighty percent of the squiggles were saving me from looking an idiot. Oh for that last twenty percent! *sigh*

If you can, find a friend who is an avid reader and ask them to critique your work. This catches a lot of issues the squiggles didn’t. And please don’t be a diva to their feedback. Constructive criticism is your friend and there to help you become a better Writer.

Consider your audience

When you go to pitch your work, you really need to consider who it actually is you’re writing for. Is it a Young Adult audience? If so, are you sure the work is at a level suitable for them? Do you really know what Young Adult is or do you just have a vague idea? If you pitch your work but aim it at the wrong audience, you will fail as the publishers do actually know what that audience is and what they would like. Just like with feedback from your friend, don’t let your ego get in the road here.

Research – other people’s work, publishers and/or literary agents, the lot

This is a little like considering your audience. You really need to set out at being an author with your eyes open and research what it is to become one. Look out for the pit traps such as ‘vanity press’ sites. These are places that pretend to be a publishing house and will eagerly look at your work, accept it and then list the thousands of dollars you must pay them to make it happen. I believe vanity press sites are slowly fading out as self-publishing grows… but sadly some are just changing their spots to now appear to be a friendly eager group happy to help you self-publish… and then list the thousands of dollars this will cost you.

So, thinking along the ‘buyer beware’ line of things – Writer’s beware! If it looks too good to be true, as with pretty much everything on the internet – it is!

Other things to research are other already published Writers. See how they write, how they lay out the story, how it is formatted and so on. No, not saying attempt to write just like them, hell no! Be yourself at all times is my biggest motto. But do look at how it is done in published books to ensure your writing style is true to the saleable format. Because when it all comes down to it, becoming an author means becoming a seller of your wares. The best part about this line of research is all you really need to do is read. How good is that? And, yes, if you don’t already know this… the best way to be a good Writer is to be an avid Reader.

Why do you need to research all this? So you know how to sell yourself and your work… which is what being an Author is all about. You don’t want to sell, stick to being a Writer. Want to be an Author? Time to sell, sell sell! And to do this you need to know what publishers are looking for, what types of things they publish, how they want your work submitted to them, and so on. Some publishers only accept pitches on certain days of the week or month, you need to know when this is to ensure your pitch is at least seen and not rejected as you obviously didn’t research their prerequisites.

The thing to remember is that publishers, like literary agents, have to be very strict with what they ask for. This is because there are millions of us Writers out there, we outnumber the publishers – just like we do the literary agents – and they are there to make money… not help us achieve our dreams. Sometimes they do help us, but that’s only when we’ve learnt to sell ourselves juuuust right and they can make money from us too.

Use common sense

Yes I know the saying common sense is not so common anymore, but do your best. Using common sense is basically required to sift through all the information you’ve gathered via the other points I’ve made. Research it all, look over it all and use common sense as to what you will then do with this information. I mean, if you’re like me, you will have read a lot of conflicting information… Sort through it and take from it what best suits your needs. Remember – there are millions of people out there trying to get published and seeking advice on how to make it happen. Therefore, in typical human nature, there are nearly just as many out there who will try and make money from those wanting to get published.  Common sense is, if you have to pay for advice… is it really worth it? I wouldn’t pay to learn how to write or get published unless I was interested in one of those university degrees, or what not, in creative writing… I’m not, I am self-taught instead. And I’ve gotten a lot of good free advice from Writers and Authors alike, so just think before you do anything. Find what fits you as you’re the person who knows you best of all.

Never be afraid to ask or try

I know a lot of people don’t like my cynical attitude when I say ‘How will I know I’ve failed if I don’t at least try’ but it’s the truth. If you don’t try, and aren’t prepared for the possible rejection, you will never know and never learn how to do it better the next time. They’re not wrong when they say we learn from our mistakes.

This goes for competitions, pitches to publishers, enquiries to literary agents – try your best, and don’t take their rejection as the end of it all.

A perfect example of this is when I first started pitching my first book. After all my studious research I decided to pitch to a literary agent before I went to the publishers. First person I sent an enquiry to replied to me within a day. Asked for a bio, synopsis and sample of my work.

Now, I thought I had studied it all and you know what? I had no clue as to what a synopsis should look like. How green was I? In a mad panic I googled and got conflicting answers. As I had to get this information back to the literary agent ASAP I turned to twitter for help. And a twitter friend (who I had just discovered was also a Writer) Ann Cleeves stepped up to the plate and coached me through it all. With her prompting I gathered more information from the agent as to the length and detail of the synopsis. Ann also talked me through the dos and don’ts of synopsis and away I went…

I was rejected at the second hurdle by the literary agent as, despite my skill at writing, my work was not in a tone that they felt they wanted to represent. Their words, not mine.

So yes I was disappointed as I had such a quick flurry of interest… only to be turned down as quickly as I was picked up. This has happened to me several times now by publishers, newspapers, Writing groups, the lot. To me, it’s all part of the dance. And I have learnt so much from these experiences simply because I wasn’t afraid to ask or try.

Heck, another example is with my second book. From what I had learnt pitching my first, I sought out independent publishers more than the major publishers and what an ego boost it was to not only get two offers, but one within four days of starting my pitch. If you don’t know, you’re lucky if you even get a rejection within a month of pitching, let alone being accepted so quickly. I tried; I succeeded and actually didn’t go with that publisher after all. Not because there was anything wrong with them, but because I decided to go with the offer from Hague Publishing as I was already signed to them with my first book. But I wouldn’t have had this good experience if I’d been too afraid to try after all the bad moments.

Realise only the very lucky make it big with their first book

Although I never expected to make a lot of money out of my first book, I was arrogant enough to think it should have been snapped up by one of the major publishing houses for being so good. Yes, I do cringe over that now as yes it’s a good story… but come on! It got the attention it deserved and earns me the brownie money I crave. I do wish it would sell more often as I do believe it’s a great story… but I’m happy with the attention I’m getting from it so far. It’s a first book, it’s an eBook of commercial fiction and I’m a no name who’s a Writer and not a Salesperson. Realise this could pretty much be me summing you up when you get published.

I’m not saying don’t be afraid to dream and aim high – I still pitched to the major publishers. But don’t go all diva and angry when you get rejected. And never turn down considering a legitimate offer from a smaller publisher. A break is a break! Don’t pout  when your work makes a pittance. You just need to try harder, work harder on your next book and keep at it.

One thing to remember if you’re becoming an e-published author is this: You’re earning more from your royalties than paper authors do on their first book. Seriously, author friends of mine (mostly via twitter) like Ann Cleeves, Cath Staincliffe and Michael Jecks all became authors in the age of only paper. An era where an author got between three and five percent of the sale of a book as their royalties. Me, as an e-published author, I currently get about forty five percent. No, that doesn’t make me a gazillionaire as my book is only sold for five dollars or under and I’ve maybe sold forty of them… do the maths. Per quarter I have been able to just scrape together enough for my brownie and hot chocolate but now all my friends and family own several copies I’m sure that amount is going to drop. 🙂

Becoming an Author isn’t instant fame and fortune for the majority of us. Some very, very lucky writers win the literary lottery and make it big first time… but that is a minority. The rest of us just get the privilege of being able to call ourselves an Author and then get on with our normal lives.

But don’t be disheartened by this, oh no… A very sage Writer (yes one I’ve mentioned a few times in this post) sat with me over coffee one day and said it’s better when you start small, keep at it, keep adding the books to your name and slowly get there. You learn the ins and outs of being an Author, of publishers, the lot. We absorb it over time and grow and get better. Those who do get lucky and get the major book deals for their first books start at the top end of the scale and then must work their bums off to stay there. The rest of us just keep plugging away at it to climb to the same rank.

And what happens to these Author starlets who make it rich, spend all their royalties and advancements on houses and cars and things but then fail to make their next book do so well? They are dropped like hot cakes and next to no one in the publishing world wants to meet their eye from that point on. They plummet well below where we struggling brownie seeking Authors are and then need to relearn everything and start all over again while carrying the weight of their instant success and sudden failure around with them.

This is why I am happy just aiming for brownie. 😉

Okay, so there it is! All my wise and sage advice on how it was I became an Author. Someone with a published book, who still struggles to pay the bills, is rarely ever recognised in the street and has only ever been asked for my autograph by a well-meaning friend. Hey, as long as those who read my book (soon to be books plural!) and enjoy them as much as I want them to… and I get my brownie money – I am honestly happy. I did it, I achieved my dream, I learnt it is an awesome thing to be… While really not making me any different than how I was before. I highly recommend anyone who wants to be an Author to become an Author. And I do hope my advice helps… even if it is once more the type of advice to take and do the total opposite of for success. 😀

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Writing

 

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Letter to a Literary Agent – (and possibly how NOT to do it).

Now the title of this blog post may seem odd or even a desperate cry for attention. It’s not really and, as serious as the letter is, posting here is done with a mixture of sincerity and humour.

Basically, I will be posting my standard letter that is sent to literary agents… or, to be more precise, the type of letter I want to be able to send to a literary agent, if such people would give me the opportunity, ability too or even the time of day. As most places seem to need you to have been published, never been published, about to be published, never have looked a publisher in the eye, wear pink socks today, purple tomorrow and so many other requirements that, quite frankly, I’ve found it near impossible to find one to let me send this letter to them.

Not that it’s their fault they must be so restrictive, I fully understand why they must be extremely strict on what they look at and spend time on. Look, literary agents are running a business and are trained to glance at submissions and make snap decisions as to whether something will make them money or not. It’s business and I’d like to think it’s nothing personal.

We mere Writers will of course tend to take it personally and see it as another slight to our fantabulous work. But dear writers remember there are millions of us who do fantabulous work… and we out-number the Literary Agents by a great deal. This means only a very few lucky of us Writers, those who know how to pitch said work in such a way as to make it glitter like gold in the eyes of a literary agent, actually make it through the glance inspection. I am, obviously, not one of these. My work is either not to their style, in the genre they seek but not the right mood of that genre, that I am geographically challenged, that no one has heard of me or would want to… Oh, I don’t know, I made half of those excuses up as Literary Agents are even less likely to provide feedback with their rejection than a publisher is. It’s not their fault; they have a lot of us to wade through and only so many hours in the day to do it. I get that and wish them luck. 🙂

Do I expect literary agents to read my letter posted here and start emailing me, begging me to let them represent me? Pfffft, no! I mean, it would be nice, but I really don’t see it happening as I may be cynical, but I’m being a realist too.

So if I don’t expect a literary agent to read it, why post it? Well, basically as I want to. I want to have the opportunity to put my letter out there to show I tried. Yes I won’t reach the audience I originally wrote the letter for, but I hope those who do read if find it of some help. Even if that help is to teach them how not to write to a literary agent. 😉

Why do I have such a desperate need to get myself signed to a literary agent? Well, I wouldn’t say the need was desperate… but being signed would be nice. Why? Well it would mean I could truly get back to being a Writer and not have step into those shiny Author shoes and shake my assets all the time. I would have someone paid to do the shaking to let me get on with the writing.

And if I had a professional out there shaking my assets for me, I hope it would mean I could not only pay back my Publisher in kindness for taking a risk on me, but in the money they have risked on me too. And, although I’m not so much after the money as I am after people buying, reading and enjoying my work… it would be nice to ensure I’d be getting enough to pay the literary agent, the publisher and still have enough left each quarter for my brownie fix. 🙂

Plus, I want my books read, I want them enjoyed, I want to be the type of Author who ends a book on a suspenseful one line and makes the Reader desperate to get their hands on the next book in the series come hell or high water. The money would be nice too… but I really just want my work to be wanted, to be loved. Doesn’t every mother want that of their children?

Saying that however, I do feel I probably don’t really need to be signed to one right now as I’ve only got two eBooks to show as my Author portfolio. One published, the other to be published this year… and only about forty sales to my name (who knows how many actually count and how many were kind friends and family?) And this is probably the prime reason no literary agent would look at me right now. That and, as you’re about to see, my letter probably isn’t grabbing them in just the right place to glitter like the gold they need to make the risk on me worth it.

I also need to learn to write a decent synopsis as I am pretty sure I fail at those too. Mine either sound like a technical document talking you through the steps of the story, or the blurb you read on the back. I tried doing a workshop on it once, but well… I won’t be negative but not a lot of teaching happened while a lot of self-promotion of teacher’s work did. Ho hum.

And so here it is, in all its glory, my letter. Mock it if you will, I write fiction and always seem terrible when attempting to write fact. Just don’t mention this to the Companies I’ve written technical documents for as yes, they are factual, but it is a fictional belief that the staff will use them. 😉 I do ask you don’t steal it and use it as your own letter. Be a Writer and not a Thief.

You will notice I have added my own feedback to parts of it. They are, of course, absent from the real letter.

***

Dear [insert name of person or agency here],

My name is Janis Littleton, although I write under my maiden name of Janis Hill.

I’m writing to you to in regards to submitting a completed manuscript of… [insert word length, title and quick blurb of manuscript here… check out My Books to see my two current works].

I will admit now to having already starting to pitch the manuscripts to other literary agents and publishers, but am yet to receive a rejection. In fact two independent publishers have shown an interest in publishing it, which is why I am seeking the assistance of a literary agent. [This is really true for my most recent manuscript Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! Not that it helped get me an agent.]

A little about me: I’m an emerging author who lives in the Adelaide Hills in Australia, I write commercial fiction under the wide umbrella known as speculative fiction. My first book (Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics) has been bought by fans of Young Adult/ New Adult, light sci-fi fantasy and Chick lit and in reviews my writing style has been likened to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. My second book (Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!) is a supernatural adventure and is part of a series. I am already working on the next book There’s no place like Hell and plan on at least one more after that titled We represent the Demon Guild. Yes, I have a whole Wizard of Oz quotes thing going on.

I have been writing all my life and, besides these two eBooks, have had minor success with articles and prose submitted to online ezines and competitions. Besides fiction writing, I am an ICT technical document writer/ User manual writer on a contractual basis – as the need takes us. I have also been a guest blogger to other sites, and have had my own blog reference by various sites too. Most recently I appeared as a guest blogger at The Book Geek Wear Pajamas (http://www.thebookgeekwearspajamas.co.uk/#!janis-hill/cutl).

Without current representation by a literary agent, I am very actively promoting my work and this has included holding a book launch for Bonnie’s Story during the Adelaide Writer’s Week in March 2013 as well as having my local library host a book launch for the same book on its release day in June that same year.  I have also arranged interviews/ articles in two local papers and have an internationally known local Magazine show an interest in also promoting me. My current publisher has had business cards created for my current book and I hand them out where I can to promote my work further. I shamelessly plug where I can to whomever I can.

I actively promote myself through a WordPress blog here: https://janishill-author.com/

Plus I have an author’s page on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/JanisHillAuthor

And a Facebook fan page for Bonnie’s Story, where I ‘blog like Bonnie’ on a weekly basis, here: http://www.facebook.com/BonniesStoryABlondesGuideToMathematics

Am also active as an author on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

While being a member of ASA (Australian Society of Authors).

If you require further information, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Kind regards,

Janis Littleton

 ***

And there it is, my pitch. Probably explains why I am a no name little fish still swimming solo in the literary ocean but hey. As I tell people: You can’t say you’ve failed at something if you don’t at least try first.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2014 in Writing

 

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So, am I a Writer or am I an Author?

Those who actually read my blog posts may notice that I often chop and change between calling myself a Writer or an Author. So, which am I?

Well, both actually. I have been writing stories since I was taught how to construct a sentence, and I’ve been a published author since 2013. And for a time I basically went about as proud as punch telling people I was an Author – note the capital A. I made myself that glittery badge and all… well, at least I told people on here I did. 😉

Now, although I said I did go around telling people I was an Author (and I still sometimes do if there is the hope of drumming up a sale – a shaking my assets moment) I don’t anymore. No, I’ve reverted to being a Writer – yes with a capital W – and am rather proud of it too.

You see, not all Writers are Authors, but I would like to think all Authors are indeed Writers. Though, does this include those who write just to make sales and money? No, I don’t think they really are Writers with a capital W… merely someone who writes. As we Writers are people who have to write to get the stories out of our heads. Getting published and having people (who aren’t friends of family) actually buy and enjoy our books is just an added bonus. Those Authors who just churn out cookie cutter style stories simply to make money aren’t Writers; they’re Business People, as they are doing it as a business rather than as a way to keep the voices happy. 🙂 Now, I’m not saying all Writers are loopy and have voices in their heads that need silencing with a good few hours of typing madly away at a computer. I just know there is a good whack of us who are like this, and I get along with such Writer’s quite well.

In plainer terms, I am a Writer as I live and love to write. I am only an Author when I am trying to sell what it is I have written. So, on this blog I am still ‘an Author’ as, you see, I am still trying to sell myself to you and encourage you to like me and my books. Another shaking my assets moment, but one done in such a way I was kind of hoping you wouldn’t notice. I’ve ruined that now, haven’t I? 😉

Isn’t it better to be an Author than a Writer? I suppose so, in a way. It was my dream to become an Author and now that I’m living in the anti-climactic limbo of it all, I wonder what else I could dream to achieve. Yes, the blatantly obvious answer is to become an even better Author, perhaps even one people have actually heard of? One who has sold more than forty odd books? Maybe I’ll get there, maybe shaking my assets – now getting a little sore from all this shaking – will help? But that takes time, effort and a lot more blogging, shaking and writing. And so I am officially returning to the title of just being a Writer.

Being a Writer is far more fun. You don’t have to do book launches, smile cheesily at photographers to appear in the paper, shake a damned thing (unless you want to) and all you actually get to do is – write! Yippee! As that’s all I really want to do – and leave all the shaking and what not to someone else – I am far happier as a Writer.

Would I still be a Writer if I’d never been offered a publishing contract and made into an Author? Oh hell yes. But I would have also still tried to be an Author too. I may possibly have gone down the path of being self-published to become an Author, but I would not have learnt as much nor had as many experiences as an Author as I’ve had by doing it via a Publisher… Experience that has made me satisfied to be just a Writer. Had I not been offered the contract, I would have still been a Writer and will be one forever. But I would have been one wanting to be an Author… and now I am one, I may only be an Author for the next five years that my work is under said contract. See, being a Writer is the far better choice. If only I’d known. 😉

What, if anything, would I do differently as an Author now I know more about what it is to be one? Not a thing, as I wouldn’t have known half the stuff I do now, or be able to be happy with my ‘Writer’ badge if I changed my past experiences. What we do and how we react is what makes us what we are and makes our lives what they become. I needed the rejections, the snubs, the encouragements, all of it. That is what makes a good Writer into any sort of Author.

Will I keep starting every paragraph with a question? Sure, why not, it’s amusing me and that’s one of the main reasons I am a Writer. I enjoy it, it amuses me and it stops those damned voices in my head. So why not?

So, remembering to use the all important capitals, are you an Author or a Writer?

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2014 in Writing

 

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