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On local communities

I’ve talked, lots of times, about the importance of online support and communities. It’s an important, and valid, subject. Gone are the days of needing a UK publisher and a US one (unless you’re traditionally published and with an agent, where that model still applies). For self publishers, and many of those with small and medium presses, the book is available throughout the world. (I felt like doing a He-Man: “By the power of Kindle!” right about here. I almost desisted.)
What I’ve talked about less is building local networks.
Once, they were the mainstay of any author. Getting a book out meant gaining the support of local booksellers, of visiting reading groups, of having your local press do a little bit of coverage about you. There was no internet, no kindle – your name had to build slowly and surely, like tentacles on an octopus, reaching and reaching.
Then, in the rush to be on facebook and twitter, to have sales in America (and, to make a living as an indie author, you do nee…
Recent posts

Cover - Waters and the Wild

This week I finally (! I'm not a patient person and sitting on this one has been killing me !) revealed the  cover to my next book, Waters and the Wild (out in July from Inspired Quill)

So, let me preen for just a moment before I go on.

Preen, preen, preen, lovely, lovely, lovely.

Okay. Done.

You'll have picked up I really love this cover. Why? Well, firstly, it captures the place and setting so well. It would have been easy, in a book about fairy glens, to have the fairy cliches dominate. But that would have missed the subtleties of the place (and story). Yes, we're in fairyland. But that fairyland isn't just the scenic glens - it's muddy lanes, under dark skies, with shadows all around. It's on bleak hillsides, next to burial cairns. It's in sea caves and gardens. In this story, the fairies are everywhere.

So, I love that we have a laneway, in the glens, with encroaching shadows. And I love that it has Amy on the front cover.

I don't open the st…

Inish Carraig - a self publishing journey

About 2 years ago, I took a decision. I decided to ask my then agent (although we were going through the motions, having already decided to part company) to pull Inish Carraig from the remaining editors looking at it. We'd been on submission over 6 months and the comments coming back patently indicated it wasn't hitting the market it was subbed to (which it wasn't - it had been a crossover novel turned into a YA novel and subbed as a crossover....)

I decided to publish the book myself. I thought it was too good to sit in a trunk somewhere. I wrote Inish on a whim, had fun with it and was surprised by how solid the final book felt. I wanted to share it.

How did it go?

Well, firstly - by the time Inish Carraig came out I knew it was a book to be proud of. My beta readers loved it, my editor advised me it was solid, many of the publishers had nice things to say about it. One editor - at a big 5 house - liked it a lot and mused on it for months before rejecting as they didn…

On giving up

Last week, in a national newspaper an author dared to set out the reasons they had decided to give up after their second book on the market didn't achieve what they hoped it might. I won't link to the original article, partly because it's all over the place, anyway, and partly because the sentiments within it aren't what I wanted to write about (I could blog about stickability and bemoan the lack of it, but not this week)

No, what I wanted to talk about was, partly, the reactions I've seen all over the internet about it - few of them generous. They've ranged from (and I'm paraphrasing)

the writer had it lucky, they had an agent, they were already doing better than most
How dare the writer think they were going to make it in two books, this takes years
They're a quitter, and we're not
Their expectations were so high, they set themselves up to fail.

I'm not saying there mightn't be a grain of truth in some of this. I don't know to be hone…

Carolyn Hill, Beneath the Skin - interview

I'm joined this week by Carolyn Hill, author of the sf-romance, Beneath the Skin. I found it a really interesting take on the sf genre, leading with the characters, and jumped at the chance to ask Carolyn a few questions.  

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 Both leads are challenging characters in their own right – did you have a preference writing either, or did any present difficult challenges?
The novel is told mostly from Aleta’s point of view, with occasional scenes told from Riven’s viewpoint.In the initial draft, there wasn’t much of Riven’s view, because his shapeshifting was a secret that I was keeping from the reader as well as from Aleta, but as I revised the drafts, I decided that I wanted to let the reader know his secret long before Aleta figures it out.
Aleta doesn’t know who she is at first; she has been robbed of the adolescence during which most of us begin sorting out who we are and who …

On finding your themes

I'm off to a meeting later today, and for that meeting I've been musing on my writing and where it's taking me and how it has changed over time - and I think that's something that rarely gets mentioned, as if, once we start producing writing and putting it out there, we're somehow the completed article - that, that style, is ours forever.

My first books were zippy Space Opera, and very much of the genre. I love them very much and definitely plan to revisit the Abendau universe at some stage - but they're very different from what I'm mostly writing: stories set in the real world that combine our world with hidden worlds.

All of which started me thinking about what makes a writer go from one type of book to another. By that, I don't just mean the external trappings of genre, but something deeper - in my Irish books (primarily Northern Irish) I write a lot of description, of places especially. In Abendau my description is lighter, with much of it pared dow…

On pitching

This week I entered Pitmad (a twitter contest which lets you put up a pitch and see if any agents go for it.) Now, this was risky since I haven't finished the book (but it's not that far out).

So, why do it? If it's not to win an agent, why bother?

Well, basically we need to learn to pitch - and we need to work out which ones work and engage, because, when it comes to selling our books, we need to be able to talk about them and make them sound interesting without boring people before we get to the point.

My easiest book to pitch is Inish Carraig. Any sort of combination of 'the aliens invade Belfast; the locals aren't happy' seems to work in the sense people either like the sound of it or they don't. My hardest is Abendau - there's just so much nuance to it and so many layers it is harder to identify the themes. ('A grimdark Star Wars' vaguely works but doesn't do justice to the body of work.)

I find having a pitch in mind also helps me with…