Thursday, 31 May 2012

Happy Anniversary to me! My indie author journey is one year old today!

Exactly one year ago today I took those first tentative steps into the world of the independent author as my debut novel - the 800+ page epic Hollywood romance, No Matter What, went live on Amazon.  And how did I mark that very special occasion?  By standing in a queue outside Sunderland's Stadium of Light, that's how.

My debut novel - one year on & a sequel is on the way. More sexy Hollywood romance, more hot, handsome men...
Yes, I chose (not deliberately, I just wasn't thinking) the day I was to go see Take That on their Progress Live Tour to launch my debut novel.  So, instead of telling the world that I had a book out there that was just dying to be read, I was sat on the ground outside a football stadium with thousands of other boy band fans discussing the merits of Robbie Williams reappearence and re-living the days when we could do this kind of thing and not feel like we needed three days in bed to get over it!

Sexy rock stars & handsome politicians... yes, in one book! My second crack at edgy, sexy romance.
Anyway, so, one year ago today I became an indie author.  Twelve whole months and four books later, what have I learnt?  Well, you got a few hours?  Because I have learnt so much on a journey that has been both exhausting and enjoyable, stressful yet fun.  A journey that has had more ups and downs than a Blackpool rollercoaster, and that's an understatement!

But, despite the bad days - and there have been a few - I wouldn't change it for the world.  Because every single experience I've encountered has, hopefully, made me a better author, a more rounded person, and somebody who is learning to deal with everything this crazy industry can throw at you.
My first foray into the world of romcom - a story of sun, sea, romance - & darts?!?

So, what exactly have I learnt then?  Well - first and foremost, I've learnt that being an indie author is hard work.  It's extremely hard work.  And it's only now, one year on, that I can look back and see just how naiive I really was when I first started out.  You just don't realise how much work is involved.  Writing the books is such a small part of it all, when you think about it.  As an indie author you have to do all your own marketing, all your own publicity, and for someone like me, someone who finds it very hard to blow my own trumpet, to big myself up, it's not something that comes easy.  I am painfully shy, with not a great deal of self-confidence, so this has been one hell of a learning curve for me.

I've learnt that things take time.  This is most definitely a marathon, not a sprint.  It took months - and I mean, months - for me to start selling books in any kind of significant numbers, and even now I don't think I'll be giving JK Rowling any sleepless nights, but things have certainly picked up a bit over the past couple of months.  But another thing I've learnt is that this is one long haul.  You can never sit back and think, yeah, this is it.  Things are going okay now.  You have to keep yourself out there, keep yourself "seen" because, as an indie author, I suspect we can be forgotten very quickly.  Very quickly indeed.

What would YOU do if you met your pop idol? My second comedy romance, set aboard a cruise ship sailing the Med.

I've learnt not to let bad reviews get to me - actually, okay, I'm still learning on that score.  Bad reviews are all part and parcel of being a writer and, although I've had days when I've read a bad review and just want to hide in a corner, eat countless packets of chocolate HobNobs and give up completely, I'm starting to realise that you just can't avoid it. For the first few months of my indie author journey I got no bad reviews.  Well, to be fair, I hardly got any reviews at all, but as soon as I started selling more, the negative reviews - as well as the good ones - started rolling in!  But, as someone said, the more books you sell, the more negative reviews you're going to receive, it's just the way it is.  So, I'm learning to deal with it.  You can't please everybody but you have to not let people's opinions get to you too much, otherwise it will affect you.  Take it from someone who knows what she's talking about.

I've learnt that you need to get to know others who are going through the same things as you are, people who are on the same journey - other indie authors.  You need to get used to the world of social networking.  You can do this on your own, but it will drive you mad if you try!  Writing can be a lonely experience at the best of times, but just knowing that there are people out there who will give you a kick up the backside if you're feeling down or give you that little bit of encouragement when you need it the most, that's really important.  Believe me.

But, probably the most important thing I've learnt - and I've only really learnt this in the past couple of months - is that, as a writer, you need to write.  Simple as that.  It's why I started this journey in the first place, and it's why I'll continue on this journey, no matter what.  Because, there is no better feeling in the world than when someone tells you they've enjoyed one (or all) of your books.  And I've had so many lovely, lovely people tweet me or message me on Facebook telling me how they enjoyed my books, and how they can't wait for my next one.  And that means the world.  That makes all the down days, all the days when you feel low and don't think it's worth it, that makes it all worthwhile. Those are the people that make me realise I can do this.  I can.  There are some who will hate my books, but there are others who will quite like them, so, as long as those people continue to exist, I shall continue writing.  You have been warned... ;-)

So, here's to another year, more books, more lessons to be learnt, more experiences to, well, experience!  And I'm entering this second year as an indie author with both trepidation and excitement.  I've got a new book coming out soon - a sequel to my debut, No Matter What, a Christmas romance due out at (obviously!) Christmas, and three more books in the planning stages. So, I've got a lot to be getting on with.  A lot of writing is on the horizon, so, if you're one of those people who's been brave enough to sample my books, and you're actually looking forward to more, there's a lot more to come!

Finally, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who's supported me this past year.  To everyone who's given me those proverbial kicks up the backside when I've needed them, to those who've encouraged me and spurred me on, given me the confidence I needed not to give up and carry on with this.  And, of course, a very, very big thank you to those who have bought, read and enjoyed my books.  Thanks, guys.  Thank you so, so much...


Monday, 28 May 2012

"Trash" is always someone's treasure... and today we're talking "trashy" books...

I was thinking this weekend, which wasn't an easy task, let me tell you, considering the heat the United Kingdom has been blessed with recently.  Anyway, yes, I was thinking this weekend.  About the kind of books I write, and the kind of author I am.  I suppose that old matter of genre keeps rearing it's ugly and irritating head every now and again, but it was really something I saw on Facebook that got me thinking - something somebody posted regarding E.L James' writing (the author who wrote 'Fifty Shades of Grey').  What they were basically saying was that her writing was crap - that's what the post inferred.  And it just got me thinking.  I mean, when all is said and done the woman has written a worldwide bestseller so, quite frankly, who's having the last laugh?  And, in all honesty, they could call my writing whatever they liked as long as people were buying my books and enjoying them - as people are with 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.  I've yet to read it myself but I certainly will be doing.  Soon.  So, what's this all got to do with me, then?

Well, the thing is, some people probably put the books of E.L. James in the same category as those of Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper, etc. - "trash" novels, isn't that what they call them?  Books that do nothing but give people an escape from real life and thrust them into somebody else's.  Books that epitomise fantasy and escape - a break from reality.  And, in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  At all.  Because, to be quite frank, those are the kind of books I love writing too.  The kind of books I love reading.

You see, the one thing I hate more than anything is snobbery - of any kind.  For example, on Saturday night I spent a fabulous three hours or so in front of the Eurovision Song Contest and had a bloody good night, a bit of a laugh (thanks to Graham Norton's commentary!), and an evening of just forgetting everything else and immersing myself in the ridiculousness of the whole event.  Felt a bit sorry for old Engelbert though.  He wasn't the best on the night but he didn't deserve second bottom!  However, well done Sweden - cracking song there, a deserved winner!  Anyway, my point here is that some people turn their noses up and look down on people like me, people who actually admit to enjoying something like the Eurovision.  It's not, I dunno, "trendy", or whatever word they use these days.  But I couldn't care what anyone else thinks, I enjoy it.

But book snobbery especially is something I really detest.  Personally, before the days of the Kindle I couldn't have given two hoots if people saw me reading a Jackie Collins on the train home from work.  So what?  I'm never going to be one of these people who's afraid to show the world her reading tastes by hiding 'Hollywood Wives' behind a copy of the latest Booker Prize winner.  Stuff that!  Does it make me less of a person because I read that kind of thing?  Of course it doesn't.  And anyway, anyone who judges someone on the basis of what books they read really needs to take a long hard look at themselves in my opinion.
And another thing - when it comes to choosing a book to read I take absolutely no notice of what critics of reviewers say.  I'll read the blurb of a book, maybe check out a sample, and if I like what I read I'll buy it, regardless of whether it has one star or five from those that have already read it.  And, if I'm looking for something to really entertain me, then I'll be hunting out the latest "trashy" novel, looking forward to a new Jackie Collins to lose myself in.  That's me, that's who I am, that's who I'll always be.  And I know that there are people out there who love all that too, otherwise those authors wouldn't be bestsellers, would they?  So, hello my target audience!  I've found you at last!

And I will stand here and admit to the world (well, to those few that may read this post, but you know what I mean) that I also write "trashy" novels.  My first two, 'No Matter What'  and 'See You At The Show', especially fall into that bracket. ('Too Much Trouble in Paradise' and 'Bon Voyage' are more on the humourous, lighter side of the romance genre.) But my first two books, they're absolute fantasy, total escapism, nothing "intelligent" in there whatsoever; no hidden meaning, no point to make.  Just stories to get lost in.  A little break from the real world.  Books with larger than life characters and situations that won't and don't always mirror reality, but they're not meant to.  That's not what "trashy" novels do, is it?  They don't have any real meaning, they're not meant to send out any messages.  They're probably not going to make anyone sit up and think about their life any differently, but that's not the kind of writer I am.  I set out to entertain, hopefully!  I write books for the beach - books people may consider a "guilty pleasure".  That's it, that's me.  In a nutshell.

So, am I ashamed to call myself a "trashy" novelist?  Absolutely not!  And anyone who thinks I'm selling out or don't deserve to be called a real writer, well, they can think what they like.  I care not a jot.  I love reading that kind of thing (as well as a barrage of chick lit, a lot of horror, in fact, anything with what I consider to be a good story, I'll read it) and I love writing it even more.  I've struggled quite a bit over this past year - my first year as an indie author - with the worry of acceptance, of whether people will take me seriously because of the kind of books I write and that has held me back, I can't lie about that.  I've maybe even written books in genres I'm not entirely happy with because I've wondered if that's what people want more than what I actually feel comfortable with.  But, do you know what?  Sod it!  I'm a "trashy" kind of girl and that's the way it's always going to be.  I adore writing the kind of love stories and romances that err more on the side of the sexy and edgy; I love creating those larger-than-life characters; those hot, handsome men and those insanely beautiful women.  That's when I really lose myself in the writing.  When I'm writing those kind of books, that's when I wake up in the mornings and can't wait to get sat down at my desk.  So, I guess those are the kind of books you'll be seeing a lot more of from me from now on.  And if you like that kind of thing, then I hope you'll check them out.  And if you don't - steer clear!  Michelle Betham, Romance Author, is finally finding her feet in the writing world... Do I have aspirations to become the Jackie Collins of south west Durham?  Hell, yeah!  Of course I do!  *Please note, tongue was firmly in cheek there, but I wouldn't say no to being compared to Ms. Collins... I wouldn't say no at all! It's always good to have ambition, don't you think? ;-)*
Oh, and if you're in the mood for a bit of "trash" yourself, then watch out for my new book, coming in June.  'Illusions of Love' is the follow-up book to my epic 800+ page debut novel, 'No Matter What'.  Hotter and sexier than 'No Matter What' it promises more escapism, more Hollywood romance, more hot men, oh, and, of course - more "trash"! ;-)  All for under a couple of quid!

So, like the title of this post says, "trash" is always someones treasure - there are people out there who are always going to love these kind of books, me included!  And, if you're looking for a little bit of "guilty pleasure" yourself, well... you know where to come... ;-)


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

So, how's that sequel coming along then...?

Well, if I'm completely honest, it hasn't really been coming along all that much over the past couple of days, thanks to the weather.  It's too hot to even think straight here in the north east of England right now, never mind try and edit a book in a stuffy office with the sun beating in through the windows.  It's like sitting in an oven with the heat turned up, and I usually only feel that hot after a Bradley Cooper movie...  It's no fun, I tell you.

Anyway, for those of you who don't know what I'm working on right now, the sequel in question is a follow-up to my debut novel, 'No Matter What'.  At the minute, this sequel is still called 'Illusions of Love' and I have no immediate plans to change that, but, seeing as I'm the kind of person who can't actually make a decision  to save her life, (you should see me trying to choose cereal in the supermarket - it's painful!) that could still change at the last minute.  We'll see.

Now, I didn't actually write 'No Matter What' with a sequel in mind, y'know.  No,  it was never actually my intention to carry the characters from that novel on into another book, but sometimes when you start writing things can turn out completely different to the way you'd originally intended them to.  And by the time I got to the end of  'No Matter What' I just knew that there was more mileage in those characters.  There was room for another book, room to take stories further, to introduce new characters.  There was room to move things on.  And so 'Illusions of Love' was conceived.  But, in my mind, it isn't technically a sequel, because the books aren't really part of a series.  It's more of a continuation of the story, and whilst I tried to write 'Illusions of Love' as a book that could stand alone, meaning that the reader didn't necessarily have to have read 'No Matter What', I still think it's a book that will work best if somebody has read 'No Matter What'.  Just because it'll give people a much better sense of the characters and the situations in which they find themselves in at the beginning of 'Illusions of Love'.

If you have actually read, and enjoyed, 'No Matter What' then you'll be pleased to know that 'Illusions of Love' is written pretty much in the same vein, but, it's mercifully shorter! Whereas 'No Matter What' was an 800+ page epic of a romance, spanning two decades in the lives of these characters, 'Illusions of Love' is running at around 390 pages, subject to editing, of course.  But it's going to end up half the size of 'No Matter What' because this book covers just a couple of months, rather than decades.

Las Vegas - the main setting for 'Illusions of Love'

For the most part, 'Illusions of Love' is set in Las Vegas, but also partly in Los Angeles, and the story takes place over the course of a movie being shot on location there in "Sin City". So, it isn't quite the epic that 'No Matter What' turned out to be, but it is a continuation of the story. And I hope that those who enjoyed 'No Matter What' will enjoy seeing how some of the characters from that book might have changed, how others are still coping with what went on in 'No Mattter What', and I hope people enjoy the new character of Dominic MacDonald - you have no idea how many hours of tireless "research" I had to endure to get him just right but, needless to say, Bradley Cooper was a huge help... a HUGE help... ;-)

Bradley Cooper - helped me, albeit unwittingly, a great deal in the creation of new character Dominic MacDonald.

So, in a few weeks' time, 'Illusions of Love' will be ready to release, and I'm quite nervous about it, to be honest.  On the whole, so far, I've had a lot of positive feedback about 'No Matter What', despite its somewhat epic length, but the character of India was someone who caused a bit of a reaction from some people, and I can understand why - now.  But, when I was writing her, and when I was writing the book, I certainly didn't set out to write her as a selfish, self-absorbed person, but that's how some people saw her.  That's, apparently, how she came across.  So, it's strange how characters change and evolve in the writing process, sometimes without you, the writer, even noticing.  They kind of take on a life of their own.  But that's good, in a way.  You let them take their own paths, make their own decisions, and India certainly made a lot of questionable decisions in 'No Matter What', no doubt about that, but, has she learnt any lessons when we join her in 'Illusions of Love'?  Well, you'll just have to wait and see.

Let the countdown to the follow-up begin!

So, if I can try and ignore the fact that I'd much rather be sat outside, down by the river in the beautiful city of Durham, sipping a glass of cold white wine and watching the world go by, and get my "I've got work to do" head on instead, I should have 'Illusions of Love' ready within a matter of weeks.  The editing process is well under way and I, personally, am happy with the way the book's turned out.  I'm happy with the direction these characters have taken.  But I'm sad to say goodbye to them, all the same.  For good?  Who knows.  Maybe there's still room for more continuation, more stories, more new characters and a whole new set of complications!  We'll see. :-)

Anyway, if you haven't yet read 'No Matter What', and you fancy checking it out, why not read an excerpt from the book here?  No Matter What - excerpt.

And I also did a post a little while back, which was a lot of fun to do, where I imagined - should 'No Matter What' ever be made into a movie, pure fantasy here you understand - who I'd love to have playing the various characters in the book.  See who I think would be perfect for the roles of India, Kenny, Michael, etc. here - No Matter What - My Ultimate Fantasy Cast List.

OK.  I'm off to grab a bit of fresh air out in the sunshine (while we've got it - this is Britain, it won't last!), but I promise that, when I get back, I will focus, start concentrating, and get back to that editing!


Friday, 18 May 2012

I'm no longer blond, and I'm writing more than ever now - time for another catch-up...

I've gone quiet again, haven't I?  Conspicuous by my absence from Facebook/Twitter etc.  Why?  Have I suddenly decided that parking myself on the sofa with a cup of tea and a packet of ginger snaps in front of 'Cash in the Attic' is a far better way of spending my time than banging away at a keyboard day after day creating stories of fun, romance and heartache?  Well, actually, sometimes, yes.  That thought has actually crossed my mind, but only on those days (that I'm sure all writers get) when it feels as though nothing is going right, the words aren't coming and the mind is blank.

But, no.  That's not the reason.  And, anyway, I can't do day time TV.  Five minutes of Jeremy Kyle and I'm running to the office with indecent haste.  I've been quiet for the past couple of days because I actually managed to escape the confines of the office and go and mingle in the real world for a little while, resulting in a trip to my sister's salon where, for the time being, anyway, I ditched the blond to go a bit darker.  And I actually quite like it.
My new hair colour - should've sorted out that shiny forehead though...
It was a little experiment by my hairdresser sister (see, I do live on the edge sometimes!)  to see if colour would take over the remains of the bleach that was left in my hair, and it worked!  But it's only a semi-permanent colour, so it will fade pretty quickly, however, I'm thinking of going permanently darker.  I get bored with the same old look, and a change is as good as a rest, as they say.  Anyway, I've gone off the subject again, haven't I?

So, why have I gone all quiet on the social networking front again then?  It's not like I haven't got a book to plug or anything - Bon Voyage, cruise the Mediterranean in a light-hearted Rom Com with two northern girls, a boy band, and a romance novelist who makes Barbara Cartland look subtle - there we go, shameless self-plug over for today!! ;-) - but, the thing is, as I head closer and closer towards my one year anniversay as an indie author, I seem to have moved into a time in my writing career when all I want to do is, well, write!  That may sound strange to some people, who'll probably read that and think, well, isn't that what she does all day anyway?  Write?  But, surprisingly, no.  In fact, there are days when I'm lucky if I get anything written at all because I've spent so long promoting, publicising, trying to get my name out there and my books known. That takes up more time than you can even begin to imagine.

The follow-up to this is imminent!
So, over the past few months I've taken a step back from all that and decided that, for now, I just want to write.  That's all.  Just write.  I have so many ideas for future books, so many works in progress, and I want to spend some time giving them the attention they need.  I'm up to my eyes trying to finish the final edit of 'Illusions of Love',  the follow-up book to my debut novel, the epic Hollywood romance No Matter What, which I hope to release some time in June, and I'm also working on a Christmas romance to be released at, well, Christmas!  And after that, there's a time-travel romance on the cards, and possibly a romantic thriller, although I'm still thinking hard about that one, as I've never written a thriller before, but my husband came up with such a good idea last night that it's playing on my mind this morning... There could be something there that I can build on.

I'm very busy, basically.  Doing what I love.  Writing.  So, if it seems as though I'm lying a little low on the social networking front over the next few weeks, it's for no reason other than the fact I'm quite happily sat in front of my keyboard creating more characters and more stories for more books.  Nothing more than that.  And I think those that know me well know how easily distracted I can get, so sometimes I've got to enforce that self-discipline on myself and make sure I don't stray.  So, it's iPod on, eyes down, and back to work on 'Illusions of Love' for now.  Just what has happened to India, Kenny, Reece and the others since we last met them in No Matter What?  Watch this space.  Because it won't be all that long before you find out...



 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Meet the Author - Rose McClelland

It's time  for another of my Meet the Author interviews, and today I've been talking to Rose McClelland, author of The Break-Up Test.

Want to find out more about Rose?  Then check out this fabulous interview with the lady herself!  


BIOGRAPHY:

Rose McClelland lives in Belfast and writes women’s fiction.
After six years of taking her writing seriously (camping out in coffee shops and scribbling away in the corner), she is delighted to see her first book ‘The Break-Up Test’ on Kindle.
Rose wrote a short play which was directed by Rawlife Theatre Company and performed in The Black Box Theatre, Belfast. She writes book reviews for website ‘Judging Covers’, and writes a mixture of film reviews, theatre reviews and articles for her blog.
Rose loves reading, dancing, yoga, cinema, theatre and rummaging around charity shops. She has discovered a new-found love of cooking and would love to take part on ‘Come Dine With Me’.
Rose is currently writing her fourth novel.


So, Rose, when did you first realise that writing was what you wanted to do?

I remember announcing to my mum at the grand old age of ten that I wanted to be a writer.  I also remember announcing at GCSE level that I wanted to be a journalist. Whilst living in London I attempted various creative writing courses, started a manuscript and then let it hide in a bottom drawer. Finally I sat down, started writing and kept going. 

Tell us a little bit about your debut novel, The Break-Up Test.

The Break-up Test is a ten-point list that Jamie devises together with Amy, Sarah and Beth to try to give them success in their love lives. It’s a story of breaking up, bouncing back and possibly finding new love.

How do you create your characters? Do you base them on people you know or have maybe met along the way somewhere, or do they just come from out of nowhere? From your own imagination?

I tend to sit down with lots of magazines first of all and play with images.  Somehow that triggers my imagination.  I have a theme first and I know what subject I want to write about before I think about the characters.  Then I usually draw from personal experiences and use some traits I have and turn them up to the max.  I suppose I just let the ideas come and go – I play around until something clicks.

How do you get your inspiration to create the stories you write? For example, for me, I can hear a record on the radio or just be out walking somewhere and something will trigger off an idea that eventually grows into a story. Does that happen to you? What inspires you to keep on writing?

I will have a theme I want to investigate first.  For example, for my second novel I wanted to look at jealousy between females. I also wanted to look at the idea that how we view ourselves is usually very different to how other people view us.  I need a good hefty theme to look at and learn from – it has to be something I can get my teeth into for the length of time I’ll be spending with the novel.


What books do you yourself enjoy reading? Any favourite authors?

I am a chick-lit fan through and through. I also love contemporary novels that lean towards chick-lit.  My favourite authors are Michela O’Brien, Paige Toon, Lisa Jewell, Mike Gayle, David Nicholls, Marian Keyes… the list goes on.

I myself love listening to music when I write - I just can't write in silence! Do you have any habits or quirks linked to your writing?

Oh I am the opposite! I’d love to have nice soothing tunes in the background but I need total silence when I write! I find that when I’m writing, there is too much going on in my head as it is, so I need complete quiet otherwise I get distracted.  Other quirks – I need to set out my table with lap-top, water, coffee, nail polish, hand-cream and nail file. Once I’ve done my nails, I feel relaxed enough to start typing. 

Okay, let's find out a little bit more about Rose McClelland - favourite bands/singers/music, favourite TV programmes, favourite food... tell us some of your favourite things.

Favourite music – I love really chilled out stuff like Corinne Bailey Rae, Lene Marlin and Zero 7. 
However, I do love blaring the dance tunes now and again and having a good bop!

I’m not a massive TV watcher but I do love sticking on a DVD/film now and again. Chick flicks of course!

Favourite food – now this is a tricky one, because I’m prone to a few strange concoctions now and again. I am going through a ‘chocolate and apple’ stage – ie. chocolate and apple at the same time.  I dread to think what cravings I would ever have if I got pregnant! 

When you're not writing, what do you like to do? How do you like to relax?

Cooking is a great way to relax! All that repetitive chopping calms the head I think! Watching a film helps me to totally zone out.  Reading is my preferred chill-out time though.  There’s nothing quite as brilliant as finding a book you love and becoming totally engrossed.

Can you tell us anything about what you're working on right now? Any future projects in the pipeline?

Yes, I am writing my fourth novel at the moment. It’s set in the theatre world and is all about the sizzling chemistry that goes on behind the scenes.

My second novel ‘How to Look Like You’ is due out on 5th July. It’s about ‘frenemies’ – two girls who are jealous of each other. They look at the other girl and think she has the perfect life, but they don’t know what’s actually going on behind closed doors.



Rose, it's been an absolute pleasure to have you here on my blog.  That was a great interview, and I wish you all the luck in the world with 'The Break-Up Test', and with 'How to Look Like You', and, of course, with all your future novels!

You can grab yourself a copy of The Break-Up Test from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

And you can also contact Rose over on her Facebook page - Rose McClelland - Facebook

On Twitter - @RoseMcclelland

And over on Goodreads - Rose McClelland - Goodreads

You can also check out her blog - http://www.rosiesrag.blogspot.co.uk/


Once again, Rose, thank you so much for a fabulous interview!

 

Friday, 11 May 2012

One man's meat is another man's poison...

And that idiom certainly applies to books, as I've well and truly found out over this past year as an indie author.  What one person finds interesting and unable to put down, others find boring and unreadable.  And, as I watch the reviews for my latest novel, Bon Voyage, roll in, (okay, trickle in, but it's still early days!) I'm beginning to realise that this can apply to books more than anything.  But the strangest thing with Bon Voyage is - and this may just be completely coincidental, I don't know - is that the slightly negative reviews (all 2 of them - so far!), have come from US readers, whilst all the positive reviews and comments have come from UK readers.  And I have no idea why, apart from the fact that one of the US reviews was left by somebody who only appears to read and review free books, most of which they've given 2 stars to, but I have to thank them (with my tongue very firmly in my cheek) for commenting on the fact that the grammatical errors and typos in Bon Voyage weren't as bad - and I quote here -  "as they usually are in free books".  Well, thanks and all that, but I'd just like to point something out here; it isn't actually a free book, it was on a free promotion for 3 days, and the insinuation that these books are just banged out without a second thought for grammar and spelling is actually quite insulting, be they free books or not.  We indie authors (especially the poverty-stricken ones like me who can't afford editors, etc.) work extremely hard to try and get everything as perfect as it possibly can be and if one or two things are missed, it would actually be more helpful if people pointed them out so that we could then put them right.  But, hey.  Everyone's entitled to their opinon.

A story of boy bands, romance, friendship, & fun!
Anyway, I'm getting off the subject here.  So, I've had positive feedback from the UK, with people telling me they loved the book, would even like a follow-up, and they loved the characters, whilst in the US, well, not quite so positive.  Not damning or anything, just not jumping through hoops with joy.
On the other side of the pond it's been described as "lacking in tension" (it wasn't meant to be a thriller, therefore the tension was always going to be limited, wasn't it?), whilst over here in the UK it's getting praise for the character interactions and the pure escapism it gives.  So, just goes to show, doesn't it?  That what one person loves, another will not rate all that highly at all.  It seems to be a big hit with those people who love/have loved boy bands, though... ;-)

But, is the fact the more negative reviews are coming from the US and the positive ones from the UK relevant in any way?  I doubt it.  One reviewer on Amazon.com said that they were a fan of cruises but found my book "boring", but maybe that's because the cruise in Bon Voyage may just be so unrelated to any cruise they've been on, I don't know.  Maybe the humour wasn't to their taste, they didn't really say.  I really don't know what people are expecting, it's just playing on my mind a bit that British people seem to enjoy the book for what it is - a light, fun romance in the sun - whilst those in the US are finding it, well, less so.  Just a tad confusing.  Because I know people say you should look at negative reviews and take on board what people say, but when you're getting some people loving it and others saying it's "blah!", what can you do?  You  really cannot please everybody. 

However, not for one minute am I saying that everyone who bought or downloaded Bon Voyage in the UK is going to love it, bloody hell, I'd have to be seriously delusional to think that!  So I'm bracing myself for negative reviews to appear from this country too, same as there'll be - hopefully! - some fabulous people over there in the US who will love Bon Voyage, finger's crossed, because I had over 25,000 downloads in America during its free promotion, and I'd hate to think 25,000 negative reviews are going to roll in as the days go on!!!  Anyone from across the pond got anything nice to say about it? ;-)

I just hope that people realise that Bon Voyage isn't going to be a gripping, tension-filled read. It's light-hearted, fun and frothy; a cute little romance story set aboard a no-frills cruise ship as it sails around the Mediterranean carrying it's array of British characters with it - characters that, I swear to God, are based on people I met during my various cruise holidays.  Not all of the characters, obviously, but some of them.  Honest.  I kid you not... Bon Voyage is escapism, pure and simple.  A holiday read, something to keep you company on that sunlounger or take you away from rubbish weather for a little while.  It isn't going to change the world or win awards because I'm not that kind of writer.  I write escapism.  That's what I do.  Check out the 'Look Inside' feature on Amazon, read a little bit of the book, see what you think.  It's what I do before I buy a book, and usually there's enough of the book there to enable you to make an informed decision as to whether it's your kind of thing or not.

Anyway, I'm not complaining about the negative reviews, I'm just trying to point out that the "one man's meat..." idiom is something all us authors should hold onto and remember.  Some people are going to love our books, whilst others, well, won't.  Simple as that.  So, I'll continue to monitor the review situation - without getting obsessed about it, because sometimes you've just got to let things go - and see how they progress.  See what other comments come in because, like I said before, it's early days in this book's release.  There's a long way to go yet.  But, the thing is, I have a particular style of writing, and quite obviously some people are going to like that style, and others won't be fans of it at all.  I mean, I for one have read some books that people have raved about while I, personally, found them dull.  So I can't really complain when others feel the same way about mine, can I? :-)

One man's meat is another man's poison... and never a truer saying was uttered when it comes to the world of books. 


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Switching off - I just can't do it...

Okay.  I haven't really got anything earth shattering or mind-blowing to say today, in fact, I'm only really blogging because most of the day has been taken up with faffing about (and, no, that doesn't mean I've been Googling Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling or Keanu Reeves... actually, why haven't I been doing that, that could've counted as research...?) and now that it's late afternoon I'm not really in the right frame of mind to work on Illusions of Love, (the follow up to my epic Hollywood romance, No Matter What, and that's the shameless plug for today overwith, I promise), not when I know I've got two incredibly creased shirts upstairs waiting to be ironed...

So, I thought I might as well pop over to my blog and share some random musings with everyone. You lucky people!! ;-)  And something I've been wondering about all day today (for some reason) is whether or not there are other writers out there like me - those that never, ever switch off.  I mean, surely I can't be the only one out there with an inability to relax?  Because, no matter how hard I try, I just cannot chill out.  And I do try - and, I have to say, Britain's Got Talent semi-final week is doing a sterling job of trying to take my mind off all things literary this week, (would be better if there weren't adverts every five minutes, but I do love Ant & Dec...) by giving me something to whinge about, mainly, (not Ant & Dec though) but, that aside, I just can't switch off.  I can't.  Can't do it.

Ant & Dec... lovely Geordie boys...
I've often been accused of trying to do far too many things at once, of being someone who thinks far too much and in turn lets myself get way too distracted because of that.  And I can't say that isn't true, because, now that I've started to write full-time, it's only getting worse.  It feels like every second of every day there are plotlines or stories going round in my head, or ideas for new characters, and I'm not just talking about the next book I'm due to start writing, oh no, I'm talking about the next 3 or 4 books.  I've got ideas for that many new books that I'm not altogether sure there's going to be enough time to write them all!  It can take just one song that happens to be playing at the time, or something I'm watching on TV, something in a movie, anything random, and it can spark off an idea in my head... for example, a Foo Fighter's song has just come on the radio as we speak, and that's already got me thinking... or I might just be having one of those fantasies about Dave Grohl again... okay, moving swiftly on...

I guess what I'm trying to say is, even though I would sometimes love to just push the writing to one side for a few hours, I can't do it.  It's always with me now, and I can't really complain because I love it.  I love the fact I have the opportunity to do this every day, to follow my dream (my writing dream, that is, not the one that involves Keanu Reeves and a plate of chocolate cupcakes...).  I just wondered if I was the only one out there who's found themselves putting the kettle in the fridge because my mind's been trying to put together a plot for my Christmas romance when I should have been making two cups of tea...

Anyway, maybe I'm just one of those people who thinks too much, obsesses about things (and I don't mean Bradley Cooper!), and refuses to let myself take a step back and relax.  Can I change that?  I doubt it.  It's the way I am, and I've been like this all my life so I can't see it changing anytime soon.  But it comes to something when Coronation Street gives you an idea for a future book... Maybe it is time to try harder and make the effort to switch off after all, huh?  Even if it's just to watch the soaps...  ;-)

Right, I'm off to iron those shirts and watch Man V Food... I just love that programme...


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Where have I been lately? Googling Bradley Cooper, mainly...

Ok, now, contrary to what people may be thinking, my lack of visability on Facebook/Twitter/blogs this week does not mean I've done a Stephen Fry and flounced off to Paris in a stroppy, artistic huff because I got one slightly dodgy review.

All I've been doing is taking a little break from the social networking side of things for a few days to give me some time to get stuff done that should have been done a long time ago - I've been doing a touch of re-formatting on a couple of my books, and I've been working really hard on Illusions of Love, the follow-up to No Matter What, and yes, loosely translated, that does mean I've been pulling out the old Bradley Cooper "research" material, but only because I want to get the character of Dominic MacDonald in Illusions... absolutely perfect.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...  ;-)

Bradley Cooper - perfect inspiration...
So, I haven't been ignoring anyone, I haven't been sitting on the sofa for days on end wrapped up in me dressing gown watching Homes Under The Hammer, shovelling packets of HobNobs down me neck as I contemplate packing in this writing lark and taking up crochet.  Quite the opposite.  I just wanted to take a bit of time to remember why I love doing what I do so much; a bit of time to get things absolutely how I want them, to make things as good as they can be, and to get to work on putting the finishing touches to this follow-up book without the self-inflicted distractions that social networking can give me.  Because I'm easily led, believe me.  It doesn't take much to distract me, so I've had to be really strict with myself this week.  And it ain't been easy.  But I think it's been the right thing to do at the right time, personally.  It's coming up to my one year anniversary as an indie author at the end of this month and I suppose that's as good a time as any to sit down, take stock and think about where to go from here.  And the answer to that is, forwards!  I've just released my fourth book, the cruise-themed comedy romance Bon Voyage, and in just a month or so the follow-up to No Matter What will also be ready to release - and, no.  I haven't written that book in record-quick time, it was actually written and finished before I even started writing Bon Voyage, I just didn't feel ready to unleash it on the world at that time.  But I'm ready now, so, if you were a fan of No Matter What, then get ready to re-visit India, Kenny, Charley, etc, and, of course, the enigmatic new movie star on the block, the rather nice-looking Dominic MacDonald!  You might like him.  I know I do...

Waiting for the follow-up? It's almost here!
Anyway, I'm veering off track a little here, but I just wanted to let people know that I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth, I'm not fed-up or miserable or in the middle of some creative "throw-my-pens-out-of-the-pencil-case" strop, I'm just beavering away in my little office getting things done.  And it's been quite nice, if not a little lonely, but I'm hopefully going to end the week feeling that everything I wanted to get done has been finished, sorted, and then next week I can concentrate on getting back on track with some promotion work for Bon Voyage and get everyone in the mood for some more Hollywood glamour and complicated love-lives as Illusions of Love gets ready to hit the virtual bookstands.  And I'm quite excited about it, now I've gone back and re-read it all, altered certain bits...

So, that's what I've been doing. Nothing exciting, just working.  Writing, writing, and more writing.  Inbetween Googling Bradley Cooper, that is... it's such a hard life... ;-)

Anyway, normal service will be resumed very soon, but until then, I'd better get me head back down and get back to work... still got lots to do...