Review: Megan Jacobson – the build-up season

the build-up season
Megan Jacobson

Iliad is named for a war, and she has a war going on inside her. Growing up in a home suffering from domestic violence, Iliad has been kicked out of five boarding schools and is now on her last leg of year 12 – successfully failing most of her units against art. Getting a dreamy boyfriend will solve all her problems… or will it?

Oh Ily, you are so clueless sometimes! And it’s not all about you. But I think her mother and nan made the wrong decision sending her away. Clearly she has PTSD, and although it might help to get away from triggering scenarios, it’s not going to heal her – therapy would have been the right thing to do. Domestic violence is currently coming under a lot of scrutiny in Australia, so at least we can hope this improves, even in the remote community that Ily seems to live in.

By the author of the breathtaking yellow comes another breathtaking novel that almost made me cry… Oh ok, I did actually shed at least one tear. And it wasn’t even at the end! It was right in the middle when I didn’t know what would happen. I honestly would have been ok with any ending, because I wanted the author to just keep writing.

I can’t think of anything I didn’t enjoy about the novel. I connected with Ily, I didn’t see everything coming and there was the right amount of emotional jerking. Oh, only one minor complaint. Ily should have blocked the mobile number, not just deleted it from her phone. Also, the blurb is inaccurate and gives away the last 3/4 of the novel.

As a young adult novel, this included tasteful sex scenes that should highlight to young readers the difference between a thoughtful lover and an asshole. Also, safe sex even when it is spontaneous. Ahh. A well written novel. A very happy reader. Just what I needed.

Why are you still reading this review? Go buy a copy.

Penguin Random House | 31st July 2017 | AU $19.99 | paperback

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Review: Adam Silvera – They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End
Adam Silvera

Mateo doesn’t leave his house for fear of death – the Death Call could come any time between 12am and 3am. But when the Call finally comes, he realises that there are worse things than death – like not actually living the life you have been given. Rufus on the other hand has been living the hard hand that life has given him and isn’t ready to die lying down.

I’m not really sure why there were so many perspectives included. I didn’t really need to know anything about the actual people who make the Death Calls. It’s just a job like any other. And actually, so maybe the book lied a little bit. And for a while, I was really irritated by why the book kept jumping perspectives for other people who have gotten the Death Call. But now I realise that the author was setting up for the ending, where we have faith that the author will do what he says he will.

I’d actually like having a death call. It’d be awesome to know that you have a last day! And I certainly wouldn’t be able to live in regret beforehand. The premise here is hard because both of the boys have so much potential ahead of them and it’s ‘unfair’ that they will die. But it’s not like the Call makes it happen!

Nit picking here, but there is a slight discrepancy in time left near the end – they only have 2 hours not 3! As a side note to make this a bit more of a paragraph, I don’t understand potentially going to jail for something that is already inevitably going to happen. Ah well. It’s not up to me, and Peck was a bit crazy really. That’s the power of not getting a Death Call, but I’d say that they could lead to a lot of quadriplegics from things you could die from, but know you won’t.

I’ve tagged this novel as queer fiction, but it is very gentle queer fiction. The main thing is that Adam Silvera has a strong history of writing gay fiction, particularly in his other novel ‘History is All You Left Me’. I actually have that novel sitting on my shelf, but didn’t get past the first page, which I realise now may just have been due to an inability to concentrate, not a reflection of the quality of the novel.

I quivered between giving this novel 3 or 4 stars. I hated the ending, because it lied to me! But then, the more I wrote this review and reflected on the novel, the more I realised it was actually pretty good! So 4 stars.

Simon & Schuster | September 2017 | AU $17.99 | paperback

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Review: Orlagh Collins – No Filter

No Filter
Orlagh Collins

Em’s been exiled to her grandmother’s house after her mother goes too far. Liam feels like he’s been exiled from his family and that he doesn’t fit in. A chance meeting on the beach, bonding over a run-in with the law, and the stage is set for two teens to fall in love. Although they aren’t supposed to…

Hmm, not sure how I feel about the title of this one. Seemed to me that more could have been made of the ‘Instagram’ idea. Once Em was away from the social media, she hardly seemed to think about it. The same with the lies. Oh no, she lied about babysitting! Let’s be honest, a large proportion of teenagers have lied to go to a crazy party. Em, you aren’t special.

Maybe the author tried for too many twists in this novel. I felt like Emerald’s home situation wasn’t all that special, and by the time anything more was revealed I had basically tuned out. There are plenty of other novels that are more hard hitting than this – think Caramel Hearts or the breaktaking yellow (expect a review of Megan Jacobson’s new novel soon).

‘But nobody told them they weren’t supposed to fall in love’ – why not? Are they going to be incestual? That’s about the only real reason I could think of for why they shouldn’t fall in love. I think the novel’s ‘punchline’ came too late for me to care about it.

Kudos to Liam for being a sensible sort of bloke, despite the what I would call ‘excessive’ drinking. Safe sex scene alert. That makes this novel fit firmly into the Young Adult category, as do the drugs and alcohol. Em is an idiot. There, I said it. I thought she was an unlovable main character for her idiocracy.

This was an unsolicited novel from Bloomsbury as far as I can see from my records, but as it’s YA I probably would have picked it for myself to read anyway. Honestly though? I’m getting a bit sick of YA romance. 3 stars from me. I hovered between a 3 and 4, but now I’ve written the review, I’m thinking it was 3 stars. Plus I was able to put it down and read it across two nights.

Bloomsbury | August 2017 | AU $14.99 | Paperback

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Interview with Emi Louise Croucher (Part 2)

An Interview with Emi Louise Croucher (Part 2), author of The Butterfly on Fire

Did you miss Part 1, where Emi introduces herself? If so, you’d better go back HERE now!

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

The Butterfly on Fire is definitely linked, in some ways, to a draft I started a couple of years ago for what would have been called Serendipity. It was similar in its narrative structure; in that it followed the stories of a few different lives and linked them all up together at the end. I think what stopped me from completing that old draft was the fact that I was trying too hard and ended up making it all too complicated. That, and of course the fact that I hadn’t progressed through my own personal story, and therein didn’t have the same motivation at that point. Once I realised exactly what I wanted to write about and cleared up in my head what message I wanted to send out into the world, it all fell effortlessly into place. I used the older draft as a kind of reference, and some characters are in their in one way or another, but The Butterfly on Fire sort of grew its own pair of wings and really took off by itself (pun instead!). 

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

As above, I am someone who needs to let the idea percolate and I cannot write without motivation. Some of the readers of this debut novel have asked “when is book two coming out? I need to know what happens!?” Unfortunately, I just have no idea. I know I will write a sequel, but until the ideas and the emotions start to flow in the right directions, I don’t feel as comfortable writing. I think a large part of that comes from my protagonist and main characters channelling my inner voice, depending on what different aspect of that character matches my personality.

I admire those who can just start writing without years of pretext, and hope to one day be able to do the same!

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I wrote a large proportion of The Butterfly on Fire at my ex-boyfriend’s house, so I can imagine how problematic it would be to not be able to write anywhere else! Ouch! Sunday mornings would be filled with cups of tea, comedy programmes in the background and the sound of my keyboard clattering away.

The other main location that I found inspiration (and time) to write was on my two hour commute to and from work. That train and bus journey was great for getting out the thoughts and feelings that I had gathered through the day into the book.

Yes, as mentioned above my medium of writing was my small laptop. But that’s not to say I didn’t have tons and tons of paper notes, drawings and hand-drawn maps! In fact, by the time I started editing the novel with E Goulding I had to carry around a full blown A4 folder with all my notes as well.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

In my case I was particularly lucky. I started The Butterfly on Fire whilst I was working at a legal translation company in central London. Within that company there was a proofreading department, and so I approached the lovely E Goulding with my novel when it was about three quarters of the way done. I asked her to give it a read, and if she liked it then would she mind editing it? She ended up becoming a virtual business partner! We then worked together to send specific sections to certain people; friends and friends of friends, when it was ready to be read by the world. One of the main goals we had was to send specific parts to random people (that don’t know me or my story) to see at what point they “worked out” the main part of the narrative. It was great to get feedback from a range of people, as it really brought the book to life. Overall, having a true friend help me edit The Butterfly on Fire will be one of my fondest memories in this entire process.

 I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

My heart is truly torn with this question. On the one hand, I am a millennial. We breathe technology, and I cannot deny the convenience of having a book I want to read on any device, instantly. It’s just so easy! Life should be easy, right?

But then again, nothing beats the smell of a good book. As an indie writer who is self-published, it is a huge honour to have a physical copy of my very own novel. Every time I see it, I just smile! Technology will overtake and outdate many things, but I think the paperback will be on this planet for as long as the human race is.

So I will have to answer this very carefully! I do buy ebooks, and enjoy the ease of reading on my commute. However, nothing will ever get me to digitalise that old copy of Harry Potter that I use to sleep with under my pillow when I was a child.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

  1. childhood? J. K. Rowling
  2. adolescence? Cate Tiernan
  3. young adult? George R. R. Martin
  4. adult? Still George R. R. Martin (It’s a long series!)

Judging from the above I guess you could surmise that I too only buy fantasy novels. As much as that’s not my intention, the evidence says otherwise! I guess for me, a large part of why I love reading and writer is the escapology. More specifically the ability to be something other than myself and almost pretend to “be” the character I’m reading about. I would be Hermione Granger, or I would be Daenerys Targaryen.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. The more I think about it, the more I hate it! What do you do?

Again, as a millennial, social media is a necessary evil that we are all brought up with. I admire those people who actively choose against things like Facebook. It must be annoying every time someone asks for your Facebook details!

For me, I have a wordpress blog, and use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@thebutterflyonfire) to try and promote it. I’m now also on Goodreads, but I’m keeping that in its own bubble for now. I manage them myself and do what I can to keep the pages alive. As a self-published author it’s fully up to me to market the novel, so I have to use social media for that. Whilst this can take a lot of time, I like that I get to keep control of the marketing of this book by doing it myself; as it’s such a personal story that I wouldn’t want to give the work over to someone else.

I spend a good two to three hours a day on checking notifications, coming up with new content and sharing the process of my novel out into the world. Sometimes I spend money on advertising and sometimes I just use word of mouth to get the novel out there as well.

I hope that my social networking is helping towards getting The Butterfly on Fire known in the world, and if not then I need to re-think what to do going forward!

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

I personally try to answer every question in the state of mind and emotions that I’m feeling at that time. I’m a true believer in the notion that everything happens for a reason. So, things that happen may change how we feel, and I see within myself very frequently that I feel differently about things as I get older. This is all coming from the 25 year old me though, and as time goes on I may just rely on the copy and paste buttons when I have toddlers running around and dinner to cook!

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Interview with Emi Louise Croucher (Part 1)

An Interview with Emi Louise Croucher (Part 1), author of The Butterfly on Fire

Don’t forget to look out for Part 2, where Emi answers some of the interview questions you’ve known to come and love on my blog.

Tell us a little bit about the book to start with.

 

I describe it as a fantasy / fiction novel, because there is a clearly defined fantasy narrative, whilst the others are a modern-day, fiction narrative. It follows three lives through certain challenges, like most novels, but it all comes together in a twist that (hopefully) the reader won’t expect.

Now tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 25 year old woman working in London. I grew up in here, but also worked and studied in Japan for a while. I’m actually a Japanese translator by day, indie novelist by night. I started writing The Butterfly on Fire because I had something important to say, and I wanted to write about it. I am a part of the LGBT community, and so the main theme of the novel is about that, basically. At first I never even imagined I would finish a complete draft, but step by step I kept at it, and here I am.

So, is the book basically just about you?

Yes and no. Certain scenes and parts of the storyline are based on what has happened in my life. Even some characters are based on real people. But it is no way just an auto-biographical novel. Thanks also to my editor, it’s developed into its very own little world. Literally in the fantasy chapters. Each character has been developed to how I wanted them, so it’s not as simple as it being ‘about me’.

What made you think of the three narrative based structure?

Without giving too much away, it kind of developed itself. I had three ‘voices’ that I wanted to represent. Each one of those affiliates to a part of a person. One being the body, one about the mind and the fantasy chapters are the soul. It all just grew from there, really.

Who is your favourite character within the novel?

Really? Am I allowed to even choose as the author? Although, I can imagine most authors would choose their protagonist, but for me that would be slightly strange as it’s based on me. So in fact, I would go with the love interest of the fantasy chapters. Prince Hikaru. Hikaru means light in Japanese, so he’s a real stereotypical, male ‘hero’ character. What I’ve also tried to do though, is modernise the out-dated hero / heroine narrative, and play with what it means to be a ‘hero’ when your lover is a powerful, magical Queen.

Would you have done anything differently, now it’s all finished?

I think anyone would. But generally in life I try and live in the moment and not look back on what I could have done. Sure, some chapters are probably more exciting than others. Some characters could have been developed more. All I am confident in is that the novel tells the message that I want to tell extremely clearly. You wouldn’t be able to read it fully and not see what I’m trying to bring to the table. For me, that is the most important thing. I’m happy with that.

What was the most difficult part of creating the novel?

I think finishing the first draft is where most people give up. Once I had a full blown draft with chapters and everything I felt like half the battle was done. Going into editing with E Goulding was such an exciting step, and it made it all so much more real. It began to come alive with each chapter we went through together. It was so worth completing the first draft to get to that stage.

Who do you feel the book is meant for?

It’s an LGBT novel, so the community and all of its lovely people. As an extension to that, I think the parents and siblings of an LGBT person would be able to relate to it as well. To be honest, any person that loves an empowering story and a bit of a tear jerky would love The Butterfly on Fire. That is parallel to a wonderfully different fantasy narrative that really bounces off of the modern fiction element. Anyone that likes LGBT stories and fantasy then, perhaps?

What other influences helped towards writing TBOF?

Japan was a huge one. There are elements of the Japanese culture and language scattered neatly throughout The Butterfly on Fire. Queen Fubuki does some of her spells in Japanese. The main characters of the modern-day, fictional narrative go for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Japan has been a powerful and consistent part of my life, so it would naturally be the same in a novel that I create.

Wiccanism is another one. I have always been a spiritual person, since I was young. I have tried to stay faithful to the lore and add a sense of realism to the fantasy side of things by having real Wiccan terminology and acts.

Lastly, I would be a liar if I said my previous boyfriends and fiancés didn’t play their part as well! Lol

How is the publishing process going so far?

So far it’s been a whirlwind of excitement! We are getting some fantastic reviews on our Amazon page, as people are starting to naturally finish the book now. It’s early days because its only been two months since self-publishing The Butterfly on Fire, but we are off to a great start! I couldn’t be happier!

Tell us in 10 words why you think people should read this novel?

It will change how you view a certain minority (hopefully).

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Reviews: Unfinished Novels Released to Book Crossing #3

I have a series of novels that I have never finished reading and in some cases, couldn’t face reading at all. In the interests of freeing up space on my bookshelves, and letting other people have a chance to read them, I have released these novels on Book Crossing. To see other books I have previously released, see here.

Jorie and the Magic Stones
A.H. Richardson

I think that I will no longer accept middle grade fiction anymore. This novel, despite sounding super promising, didn’t hit any of the notes it needed to in the first chapter for me to try keep reading. The writing style didn’t get me, and I felt like I was drowning. Even the dragon on the cover couldn’t keep me in it.

 

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold
Iain Reading

This is another middle grade novel which I couldn’t get through. I tried really hard because I loved Iain’s other novel, the Dragon of the Month Club. There was too much detailed stuff on history and background and everything! It sells itself as one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure – but it’s more like six parts history, one part travel and no adventure! At least for the section I got through.

 

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Interview with E. A. Barker

An Interview with E. A. Barker, author of Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

 

E. A. Barker believes he is an average guy in mid-life who has led a mostly average life. His readers may not agree with his assessment. The single biggest difference between him and most other people is his pursuit of knowledge. Throughout his life he never stopped asking the simplest question: Why? E. A. describes himself as a collector of ideas and a purveyor of dot connections. He attempts to present his findings in an entertaining fashion in an effort to encourage people to read—especially men who are reading far too little these days. E. A is an advocate of education for its ability to affect social reform and actively promotes the idea that a global conscience is possible.

COZY DRAGON INTERVIEW

 Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard-drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

(E. A. laughs.) It’s crap! I write narrative non-fiction partially because my ability to write quality dialog is so lacking in my opinion. I am reasonably certain I am at least decent at what I do. Ms. Creant ‘s mission was to challenge the beliefs of the reader so that we might change and grow as humans. This is a niche which I believe best suits my abilities.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to produce a quality book? 

I admire prolific writers who can produce quality works time and time again. For me, it does not come so easily. I suppose my percolation happens during the extensive research phase, which in the case of this book, represented a one year period.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Wow. Your first sentence supports my working theory that we writers are merely scribes channeling the thoughts of some other entity. This is probably not the place to get all weirdly metaphysical so I will move on to the question at hand. I can write wherever I can make my body comfortable and where there is little distraction or noise. Paper notes always litter my workspace, if not the entire room, until such time as they are compiled by section into my trusty old HP laptop.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have never been clear on how the literary world uses some terminology. My scientific background tells me to speak of alpha readers first. To me, the process is as follows: 1) I produce a very rough draft which is then read by alpha readers whose sole job it is to blow sunshine up my butt so that I can find the courage to continue. In my case, it was my hairdresser. 2) I then read, revised, re-read, revised . . .  until I realized I was stuck in an endless loop and had to seek professional help. 3) Enter my editor—who I picture in my head as Ilsa of the SS—she is what I believe to be my beta-reader. Laura had no trouble telling me how I had gone off course (content editing); nor did she lose any sleep over pointing out my embarrassing grammatical errors; and I believe she rejoiced in highlighting the literally thousands of typos and punctuation errors. This is what makes her good. Her ability to completely devastate any ego the writer in you had developed, will either force you to be better, or quit. Badly shaken, I chose the former. I made massive revisions which fleshed out ideas, supplied answers, and ultimately resulted in three additional chapters. The most observant of readers might see where I ended the book on three separate occasions. She was recruited by writing a cheque. 4) The gamma reader was my proof-reader who line edited (a.k.a. copy edited) the manuscript prior to publication. She only found another five hundred or so mistakes in punctuation as well as missing words I just could not see when I read those sentences. She was recruited through a negotiated exchange of services and the promise of a signed hardcover.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I LOVE PAPER BOOKS! It is easy to understand people who like digital books though; they can buy books for far less money and could carry their entire library with them at all times. There is a danger that we should be discussing in the digital revolution we are in the midst of. I USE LIBRARIES to source most information. Libraries have always been the keepers and conservators of knowledge. Budget cutbacks combined with limited shelf space are leading many libraries into e-book information technology systems where the librarian will no longer be the curator. Whosoever controls “the cloud” will then control all knowledge. We must continue to encourage a balance between paper and digital books or we risk quickening our fall into a dystopian nightmare.

Oh my! Asking an author if they have a favorite bookstore is leading them to potential career suicide. ANY bookstore that carries or recommends Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers! is a favorite of mine. I do however frequent a local used bookshop in the Beaches area of Toronto near my home.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

  1. childhood? Jules Verne
  2. adolescence? Frank Herbert
  3. young adult? Robert Heinlein
  4. adult? Hemingway? I am now trying to read the greats across previously unexplored genres including poetry—something I would never have done when I was younger.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do? 

Social media is a massive time suck that keeps us from writing. I would like a PA to take it over but I have yet to have a quality unpaid one offer to do so.

This is my approach:

  • Facebook is number one in terms of users. If you are willing to track people down and stay engaged with them, it can be powerful. Therein lies the time suck factor—engagement. Facebook goes out of their way to minimize your reach. Only 3 to 7% of your friends and followers will see some of your posts regularly.
  • Twitter is second in terms of users; limited in terms of post length, but UNLIMITED in terms of reach—all your followers and all selected hash-tags receive your posts, you can tweet @ anyone on twitter and they do not put you in jail for over engagement.
  • I tweet daily and send the tweet to both my facebook profile and my author page. In theory you could do this in 30 minutes per day but you would not have the all important needed engagement with other people.
  • Not long ago, I found statistics which clearly showed you really only need to be engaging on Fridays and Saturdays. This opens the door to time suck savings by posting (a.k.a. updating status) each day, but engaging just on those two days.

Understanding the value of any marketing effort is often difficult to measure in immediate sales—social media is epitome of this. After two years of working social media an average of three hours per day, seven days a week, 360ish days per year, I will tell you its value cannot be measured monetarily. When I attempt to do this, the numbers make me feel foolish.

  • $0.03 is what I have been paid per hour.
  • 30 minutes is invested in each follower.
  • Followers rarely buy your book but about 1% will.
  • You will get 0.1% response from a twitter campaign.

My RATIONALIZATION for continuing at all is I committed to this for two years–one year leading up to this release (the building phase), and one year of promoting the book after release. I assure you there will be a massive scaling down of social media work once the book has its first birthday.

So what are the positives?

  • You gain a handful of digital pen pals from around the world—priceless.
  • A good percentage of initial sales and reviews will come from people you meet on facebook.
  • It is the digital equivalent of flyer distribution and it is free, if you do not count your time.
  • About 50% of blogger interest came through social media channels.

The best alternative to social media marketing is REAL WORLD marketing but you must be an extroverted salesperson to do this, and many writers are not. Some will have costs which can quickly add up.

  • E-mail campaigns have netted the greatest amount of interest thus far with about a 10% response rate. This is literally 100 times better than social media and introverts can do it.
  • Direct mail promotion to independent bookshops and libraries seems to generate interest.
  • Attend book fairs and sell signed copies.
  • Public speaking is always an opportunity to sell books.
  • Pitch indie bookstores and other merchants on buying or displaying consignment copies of your book.
  • Send out review copies to literary critics. Most will not give you the time of day, but just one published positive review from these people can make a career.

Links to: Twitter Facebook

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next? 

Your questions were thought provoking and multifaceted so I could not cheat. We are faced with some stock questions which cause us to reiterate answers. I have yet to copy and paste an answer, but who knows what the future may bring.

😀

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

This book was created for everyone from young adults to seniors. It was written from a male’s point of view, speaking to men who are endlessly struggling to understand the opposite sex. For women, this is a fascinating journey inside the male psyche. The book gives a young reader a glimpse of the future, with a recommended time-line for key life events. Mature readers, who have already experienced much of what is discussed in the book, should come away with a new found understanding and perhaps even closure. Ms. Creant is a controversial, entertaining, yet informative look at everything which influences human behaviour including: relationships, life, health, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, politics, genetics—even physics. E. A. Barker shares twenty-four “inappropriate” stories of life with women. The author based these stories of women behaving badly on his real life experiences, spanning four decades of his search for an ideal partner. The lessons taken away from the book will serve to help readers make better choices, become more aware, grow and change—at any stage of life.

Get this novel from a range of places:

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Review: Lauren Berry – Living the Dream

Living the Dream
Lauren Berry

Emma is a personal assistant to a slightly crazy boss, but would rather be a writer. She spends her days sending unsolicited written pieces to potential magazines and posting feminist blog rants. She spends her nights drinkin’ it up with her best mate Clem, because Clem has problems of her own. Instead of the film making life Clem envisaged from distant New York, Clem is drowning in debt and bartending for a living. Can they change their ways?

I read this novel for a bit of light hearted reading. Am I not a professional woman? Oh wait, I am, but I love my job(s)! Most of this novel is about not ‘Living the Dream’ and actually ‘Living the Grind’ until certain events take place to tip Emma over into doing something with her life!

Honestly, I’m not sure what Clem is complaining about. Yes, it’s hard to find a job with no experience, yes, I know you don’t want to work a boring job for your stepfather again, but seriously! Get a grip girl and get a job! Bartending and not drinking the profits might be a bright idea. Or perhaps not doing cocaine with your boss on the job…

Also, I have issues with the amount of money they waste on booze! Haven’t these millennials ever thought about planning ahead? You could easily quit your job and not rake in the money, and build a blog following to support your writing habit – if you actually saved money instead of spending it. Oh dear, that might have been my underlying problem with this novel that made me not love it, or even appreciate it much.

Honestly, I think that I’ll Eat When I’m Dead was a better novel than this, and I only gave that one 3 stars! Perhaps they are on par because I’m giving this one 3 stars as well. No no, it was the regulars that I liked more perhaps… Women’s Fiction is just not my thing – in my defense, I didn’t request this one (to my knowledge), but I DID make the decision to use some of my precious reading time on it.

Hachette Australia | 11th July 2017 | AU $29.99 | paperback

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Interview with Mita Balani

An Interview with Mita Balani

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I have a few relegated short stories, but not a full length novel. Breaking Norms is my first. After finishing the first draft in 2013, four years was too long to take it to the finish line. But I am glad, I did it.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Writing fills my heart with joy. I always have one or two story ideas running in my head. But with my primary job that pays the bills and mother/wife duty, writing takes the third priority in the list. So I am not sure if a novel a year be possible for me. But for sure more will come out.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I am sure those writers must be beyond devastated if the café closed down. I have written in different places based on circumstances the Public Library, one specific Starbucks near my home and even while waiting in line for something. But I find my creative juices working better when I write using one particular desktop in my office/study room. I use digital medium the desktop or the phone to write.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

Yes, I consider myself very lucky to have a husband who played a role of the first reader and the critique both. I also have other 3 amazing family and friends who read the first rough draft. Their feedback helped to polish the story.

Regarding editor, I chose one online editing service based on online reviews. Paid a hefty amount, but was not happy with the results. So I ended up editing it myself all over again. For my next one, one of my good friends has volunteered to help with editing. I am grateful to have amazing family and friends around.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I love the smell of the new paper books. But in last seven years, I have become fan of e-books just because I can read the e-book on my phone anywhere, anytime. I buy all my e-books on Amazon and paper books for major parts on Amazon as well. I also enjoy listening audio books while driving. I get all my audio CDs from local public library.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

I grew up reading the books in regional language (Marathi in India), then transitioned to reading in Indian National language (Hindi) before I read English novels. So my favorite authors till young adults are from that region of India where I grew up. As a child I hardly read for fun. So I can’t really say who my favorite author from Childhood is.
Adolescence: P. L. Deshpande
Young Adult: Gulzar (love his poetry)
Adult: Khaled Hosseini
Favorite genre: My reading liking changed after my young adult time. Since then I enjoy reading soulful and emotional tales with a hint of romance.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job.

Have you chosen someone to manage your profile?
I thought about it initially, but then dropped the idea considering the financial aspect of it.

I am still in the phase of exploring different options. I haven’t spent much time promoting my debut fiction yet due to so much going on in my personal life at the moment. I hope to promote more in near future.
So far, my favorite platform has been Facebook. Before book launch, for about two months, I spent two hours every alternate day, learning/implementing what I learned, making mistakes on the way and learning from those mistakes as well.

I use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and blog once in a while.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Even though I have been running 103 fever for last couple of days, I answered these questions from scratch. But I am thinking about your question….hmm…I will not be tempted to recycle the answers or will I? 😉

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Review: Kathleen Duey – Sacred Scars

Sacred Scars
Kathleen Duey

Sadima is desperate to escape from life in a cave, and she longs to have a better relationship to Franklin, one more like when they first met. It’s not to be though as Franklin becomes more enamoured with Somiss and his students. Many generations later, Haph is trying to survive learning dangerous magic with dangerous teachers – with only one student to come out on top… Unless Haph can make some changes to the trust issues running rampart in the school.

I left this novel impossibly long to review… But I have a very good reason/excuse! This is a trilogy, and I’ve owned the first two books (Skin Hunger) for at least 5 years I think. I picked them up from the op-shop as a steal, assuming that the third book must have been published. But no! The author seems to have dropped off the end of the earth for the last couple of years, despite apparently there being a release date for the last book. I emailed the publishers and lo and behold, it’s a mistake. No release date in sight.

Once that third novel is finally published, I’m going to reread these from the beginning, they are that good! So I’ve giving it 5 stars but I wouldn’t suggest you read it until the third one is finally published! Get your hands on a cheap second hand copy, but don’t read it! For goodness sake, don’t read it! But absolutely chase up the publishers (Simon and Schuster) to make sure that it eventually happens. For your reference: ISBN 9780689840982.

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