Tag Archives: finished novel

And the novella is live!

Bazinga!

Never Grow Up - High Resolution

Never Grow up is available now on Amazon. Remember I told you ’bout it the other day?

“It’s a funny, upbeat coming of age story about Jude, a tomboy who never wants to grow up. She just wants to live. It’s a quirky little read, filled with letters and texts and lamenting teen rants with an optimistic little sister, a swiftly changing best friend, a despairing dad, a jet-setting older sister and a band called The Manic Flamingos.

This sweet tale is told in just over 21,000 words.”

I also told you it’d be up for 99p, and it is. Alternatively, ask me for a copy! I’ll happily oblige. ❤

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My decision to self-publish

This is a hard blog post to write.

Years ago, when I was about 17, I decided that I was going to follow my original dream of becoming an author – or at least a part-time author while I pursued the ever-elusive “career”. There weren’t many “careers” for girls like me, who hate long office hours, databases, spreadsheets and, worst of all, people. I didn’t want to play bullshit-bingo all my life with someone who took their middle-management job far too seriously.

And it wasn’t until about March of this year that I discovered I didn’t have to. It took months to build up trust with the company and get my invoices up to graduate wages, but all that hard work was worth it. So the career thing looks like it won’t be so bad after all.

The writing was always going to be a problem. I desperately wanted to  be traditionally published. My first published story – and a few after – was some wannabe-horror tripe that was picked up by a small press who have since gone right out of business. Later, I wrote “romance” (eerr…actually begins with an E) under a pen-name and sold my first story for £50. A while later, I sold another to Harper Collins for £75.

By that point, though, I’d spent three years getting my degree (an arts degree, of course) which I achieved highly in, but I still hadn’t got that publishing deal.

“Why not ME?” I thought. “There are women my age selling books. What’s up with that?”

Unfortunately, it took a long time to realise that the recession had put a LOT of companies in the red. Or is it in the black? Red? Black? Oh, I don’t know. I told you I was crap with spreadsheety stuff. They were firmly up shit creek, anyway, so the good old days of Stephen King getting hundreds of dollars for short stories, and the days when publishers built-up writers over the course of years, finally pooffed out all together. Today, you have to be an instant best-seller, and if you’re not, you’ll never get another book deal unless you’re very, very lucky.

To discover this was devastating. It took a lot of wishful thinking and a ton of rejections to realise that none of this was my fault. My novels are fine. They aren’t crap. The quality of a concept or the writing itself matters less and less in today’s world, and unless you’re already famous, you need to have SOMETHING to pull out the hat to make yourself a desirable writer for publishers.

I don’t know what some of these people do; I really don’t. I don’t know what gets them the golden ticket. But I do know that their rights are restricted more than they were in the good old days, the advances small if not non-existent, and that feeling of a freshly printed novel in their hands wiped away by “ebook-first”. Sales, too, aren’t always guaranteed. Many massive publishing companies – appearing successful – have been bought out.

So even for those brilliant Charlie Buckets, the golden ticket wasn’t a promise. It was just a chance, and if you don’t make it, then your golden ticket won’t even get you a Snickers at the vending machine.

Self-publishing, for a long time, was considered vanity-press – the last attempts of the failures and the terrible writers and the arrogant sods who think everyone should understand their genius. Some people today still think that, because even when ebooks became big, it took  a long time for authors to see it as a viable option.

But then they did. We saw people like Jackie Collins deciding to self-publish. We saw people making  great, steady sales of their work. We saw people become millionaires. We saw people getting picked up by great publishing houses for good deals like the old days.

We’re still seeing that. Even weirder, people are reading self-published work. They aren’t just assuming that the stories must be terrible. Why? Because things have changed.

I used to think very, very negatively about self-publishing. I vowed never to let myself make that “last attempt of the failure”, and I was always terrified that one day, I would. Except I’m not terrified any more.

If the only benefit of getting a publishing deal, today – assuming you’re publishing Joe Bloggs’ debut – is a thorough editing, a pretty cover and…that’s it, then what do self-publishers have to lose?

“You lose first publishing rights. It becomes a re-print that no agent or publisher will touch,’ says the Literary Agent.

Well, they would say that. Self-publishers cut out the middle man. But the fact remains that self-published authors who make great sales are probably around the same ratio as traditionally-published people who make great sales. JUST  because you get a “book deal” doesn’t mean you’re going to sell well.

And as we’ve seen with both smaller presses and the big 5, that BIG BREAK won’t stop them from kicking you to the curb when their funds run out, or your book sells poorly. Some of those authors will get better deals; some will use the platform to further themselves. Many will go traditional AND self-publish. Most will just go back to being “un-published”.

Un-published, after all that?
Back in the day, authors always sold badly. They were unknown. It took time to build them up. Today, it appears, there is no time. It’s make or break, as they say.

So it’s taken a lot of thought, and a lot of observation, to realise that nothing is crystal clear any more, and as much as people insist that you must “choose your path”, there still is no straight path. It doesn’t exist. However much the “experts” protests, we, the writers, are in the driving seat. We are allowed to go exploring. Why wait at the bus stop for a bus that went out of service yonks ago?

Many, many traditionally published authors are weighing up their options today. Many of them like to do both the traditional thing and the self-publishing thing. Why shouldn’t they? It’s their work. Writers needn’t be so f-ing grateful all the time. We’re not slaves.

What’s interesting, too, is that the writing industry is the only creative industry where it’s still frowned upon to go it alone. How much sense does that make?! Do musicians wait for the big break with their guitars locked in their bedrooms, or do they get out there, do some gigs, hand out flyers, and publish their own tapes?

What about artists? Do they only give their art to family and friends, or do they get on Facebook and Deviantart, hand out flyers, and show the world their art? Do they hide away or do they start selling? In fact, I think artists accepted indie writers way before most writers did. Self-publishing is a platform for artists too. “Indie” is no longer a dirty word for writers.

How else would anybody see what you can do?

Writers have always had to let their novels die on their hard drives, because if the BIG DEAL doesn’t come, then they’re worse than pond scum. Well, I think we all know that things are different now. Self-publishing is a viable option.

I think it was Amanda Hocking that changed my mind. NOT her sales – I’m aware that was a phenomenon, and I think she is too. But she did say something about the guy from Blink182 – she posted a video of it – and how their band started out. His advice was to never wait for the magic hand to come down, pluck you out, and make it all happen for you.

You have to show people what you can do. A handful of agents glancing over your cover letter just won’t cut it.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve thought over it long and hard, and I am no longer going to do the self-pitying thing. I won’t do it. I won’t spend my life pining over the magic hand.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still like traditional publishing. That doesn’t mean I don’t want an agent. I’m still waiting for my turn. But that turn will never come unless I get my work out there. At the end of the day, I’d rather people were reading my work – even if only a couple ever pick up my books – than let them die on the hard drive.

The negative-thinking-pitfall is not one I’ll go tumbling into again. It’s unproductive and it only damages me. Do I deserve to be damaged? No.

Getting my work out there will at least showcase what I can do. Maybe it’ll get me that agent on day, or that traditional deal. I sincerely hope so. I’m just not pining any more. I am awarding myself some respect. If people can do start-up magazines and artists can showcase their art, and musicians can busk and sell their CDs and do their gigs, then writers can show off their books. Simple as.

I am an artist like any other, and I’m going to make my  little corner of the world shine.

So, folks – watch this space. I have one ebook just about ready to go, and the other three to follow. My plan is to get them all up at once, because multiple books, I believe – from my research – makes people take a second glance.

I’ll be documenting my journey here and explaining my various reasons for doing this, or that, or the other.

I’ll be doing it my way after all. Yippee!

New WIP completed!!

YAY!

 

Yesterday, I finished my romantic ghost story at 78,000 words. I’m hoping by the time I’ve gone through the first draft and started my first go of edits, it’ll end up at a round 80k – just because. If the story doesn’t demand it, then I won’t worry about it so much.

My working title was originally “Prom Spirit”, because it’s about a girl who dies on prom night and ends up in limbo, where she meets Zachary, a boy who died on his prom night in the 80s. So, those two words just kinda made sense.

I’m now working with the title “Beyond”, because that’s what these guys are searching for – the path to whatever is beyond limbo, the bleak, grey world between life and death.

 

So here’s loosely what it’s about. I’ve only just completed the first draft, so forgive me if this seems a bit rusty (and it will!):

About our characters:

Our main gal, 16 year old Jamie, is battling with the loss of her own life, and dealing with the betrayal of her best friend, all from beyond the grave. When she glimpses her loved ones’ future, she is terrified that her death will set them all on the wrong paths; will her sister give up ballet and become a shrinking violet? Will her best friend end up in an unhappy relationship with Jamie’s ex, Ted? Will her parents ruin their marriage? Jamie decides she can’t let that happen – not if she has the power to set things right. Jamie must tread the fine line between ‘just visiting’…and haunting.

Zachary, a moody yet sentimental dancer, is hiding a dark secret about his death and the circumstances surrounding it. With nobody to confide in and all his resentment bottled up inside, he has lived alone in limbo for 29 years, refusing to make peace with his past and all the memories that haunt him. Zachary doesn’t do haunting; he lives in the now, and that’s how he likes it. Until Jamie comes along, that is, and turns all his stubborn ways and everything he’d grown to understand on its head.

Jamie knows they need to work together, because – duh! – she’s see the film Ghost and knows how these afterlife deals work. It’s Zachary that’s the problem – all he wants is somebody to dance with, and she wants to crack on with the haunting. They can’t faff around with flying mopeds and dancing ghosts; joy amongst death is impossible. Besides, Zachary is keeping something from her, and falling for somebody you can’t trust is dangerous…even if he’s the last ghost on earth.

 

About their world:

Limbo, the world Jamie and Zachary inhabit as ghosts, is their own town – but it’s cold, isolated and deserted. The sun shines, but there is no warmth; the flowers bloom, but their petals hold no colour. Their world is a cool shade of grey, surrounded by an eerie, mysterious green aura. If they ever hope to see the world in all its beauty again, they must make peace with their life on earth.

That is, if they can dodge the lightning. With every visit made to a loved one, a storm brews. If Jamie can’t keep herself from the land of the living, then she might just get stuck there; separating her from Zachary and whatever lies beyond for good.

It’s a fine line they’re treading. On one hand they’ve got a whole world to themselves; a world where their imaginations rule and almost anything is possible. On the other, they have a duty to discover what their unfinished business is to earn their passage to the afterlife – if there even is one!

Jamie discovers that it isn’t so easy to let go and forget, and while she’s doing unimaginable things in Limbo, her loved ones in The Living are falling apart.

——————————————

So that’s the premise, in a nut shell. I always find it incredibly difficult to condense the story into some kind of blurb or teaser that people just read and instantly understand. I tend to over-think things, start rambling, and lose sight of the key facts. /sigh

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to start editing soon, get this thing beta read, and then work towards getting the manuscript as polished as I can. Not bad for my  seventh completed book! That’s right, seven – of which only about three or four are any good for publishing, in my opinion. Actually, probably everybody’s opinion. D:

So if you’re reading this and you’d like to be a beta reader for my contemporary/spooky tale, please contact me! I need you! 🙂