Friday, 27 July 2012

Do I really need a publisher to become a "proper" writer?

I've now written five books, and am almost halfway through the first draft of my sixth, yet, I'm still uncomfortable calling myself a writer.  Why?  Well, I'm cursed with a constant lack of self-confidence for one, but that's not actually the reason why.  The reason why I feel a little uncomfortable is, I guess, because of the ever-present stigma that still surrounds the indie author.  I know that self-publishing and indie authors themselves have come a long way, and there truly are some amazing writers out there who come under the "indie" banner, but there's still - and I don't know whether this is just paranoia on my part - that worry, that feeling that people look at the indie author and think that we're just "playing" at this, that writing is nothing but a nice little hobby and we can't really be any good otherwise an agent or publisher would have snapped us up, wouldn't they?  Wrong.  Very, very wrong.

I never set out to be an indie author.  Like many other writers out there I spent more time than I care to think about contacting agents and publishers, only to be met with the usual rejection email, or ignored altogether.  I could've let that get to me; given my lack of self-confidence it could've led me to give up my writitng dream altogether, but it didn't.  Instead I took the indie route.

However, when you read about fellow indie authors who've been signed up by publishers and then claim that they now feel like a "proper" writer, how is that supposed to make those of us still trundling along that road of self-publishing feel?  So, having a publisher makes some people feel like a "proper" writer - as opposed to what, then?  What does that make the rest of us unsigned authors?  Kind of rankles me a bit that, or maybe I'm just bitter because no publisher wants to sign me. (Tongue was very firmly in cheek there, by the way.)

One thing I do know for certain is that we indies don't sit on our arses doing sod all, there's no chance of that.  Being an indie means you have to do everything yourself and I refer you to a great blog post from a fellow indie and lovely friend of mine Amanda Egan as an example of just how hard an indie author has to work.  So it's not a nice little hobby, okay?

The big question is, then, would I - despite the rejections I've recieved in the past - still like to be signed by a publisher?  If I'd asked myself that question a few months ago I quite possibly would've said yes, mainly because, for a time, I'd started to believe the notion that having a publisher suddenly makes you a "proper" writer.  But I suppose the real major perk of having a publisher is that they can take the edge off the workload in terms of fine-tuning and editing your work, helping with cover design, etc.  All things that take up a great deal of time for the indie author going it alone, so of course I wouldn't be averse to that kind of help, would I?

Me and books...
But I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few months (ever since my last rejection, actually) and I guess that, well, my quest to find a publisher is coming to an end.  It's done.  It's over.  From the feedback I've received in those rejections, I just don't write what people are, apparently, looking for, (or was that just a nice-ish way of saying I'm crap?)  But I write what I write, and I can't change that.  Sorry.  And, to be honest, preparing letters and chapters and synopsis after synopsis to send off to publishers is a long, long process - and it can be more than a little soul-destroying too.  It takes up so much time, time I could be using to write.  Which is what I want to do.  I want to write, not spend my days composing covering letters in the faint hope that some publisher will eventually snap me up.  I'm probably coming across as quite bitter again now, aren't I?  But I'm not.  Honestly.  Yes, I can totally understand how exciting it must be to be told that a publisher wants your book because, for as long as I can remember, that has been my dream.  And up until a few months ago I'd thought it was something I still really wanted.  But, realistically, it's probably never going to happen for me but that's fine.  I'm really happy for those fabulous indie authors who've managed to achieve that dream of having a publisher recognise their work, it must be a fantastic feeling.  And I wish them all the best for their publishing future.

But indie authors should never be dismissed just because they're not signed to any publisher.  It's something I feel so strongly about, having read some quite brilliant books by indie authors that have been just as good as, and sometimes surpassed, anything I've read by a traditionally-published author.  People shouldn't dumb us down or class us as second best, or assume that just because we're going it alone and self-publishing that our books are inferior to anything that's traditionally published.  Do that, and you're going to miss out on some great reads, believe me.

As an indie author there are perks - apart from the fact that I get to keep 70% of the profit I make from selling my books (which doesn't actually add up to a great deal by any means so its just as well I never came into this for the money, but it's a higher percentage than I'd get if I was going through a publisher - although they might sell more, I don't know, that's a whole other blog post there!), it also means that I can carry on at my own pace, writing the books I want to write, in the way I want to write them.

Yes, that means I'll continue to constantly have that shed-load of work that goes way beyond just creating characters and writing stories, and no, I'll never have that publisher behind me backing my work and giving me that extra little boost.  But, does all of that mean I'm not a "proper" writer?  No.  It certainly doesn't.  In fact, at the beginning of this post I claimed I was uncomfortable calling myself a writer whereas now, do you know what?  I'm proud to call myself a writer.  Because that's exactly what I am, and I don't need a publisher behind me to reinforce that.

So, long may us indies go from strength to strength, showing everyone that we don't need a publisher to make us feel as though we've achieved our writing dreams.  Let's just get on with writing the best books we can, and together maybe we can show those publishers just what they're missing.

And if you want to check out some fabulous indie authors for yourself, there's no better place to start than a great site called Famous Five Plus.   Discover some great authors, a huge range of books and read all about the varying experiences of each of the very different authors this site showcases.  Give it a go!  You never know, you might just discover something really great to read!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Christmas in July??? I'd better get writing, then...

Two things happened last night that upped my stress levels slightly - firstly, I've gone right off Andrew Lloyd Webber after his treatment of Nathan James on Superstar on Monday night.  Now, maybe Nathan wasn't the right man to play Jesus in Lloyd Webber's new arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, but whether that was the case or not, and no matter what else he was supposed to have done, for Lloyd Webber to say what he did to Nathan on live television was completely out of order, not to mention unprofessional.  It made for uncomfortable viewing and it was totally uneccesary.  The entire panel might as well have come on TV wearing t-shirts emblazoned with 'Please don't vote for Nathan because WE don't want him as our Jesus!',  because the bias emanting from all of them was so bloody obvious.  I'd started off really enjoying this show, but that bias from the judges towards certain contestants is becoming quite agitating now.  And considering that Lloyd Webber has constantly told those contestants in the bottom two each night that his decision as to who he's going to send home will depend on their performance of the sing-off song kind of became a joke last night because Nathan sang Roger right off that stage, yet he was the one who got sent home.  To be honest, though, Nathan is an out and out rock singer, and I'm not sure playing the role of Jesus would have helped him too much in a career that I think he deserves.  He's got an amazing voice and I hope it isn't the last we see of him.

And the other thing that upped my stress levels last night (apart from having to endure Gary Barlow on Superstar where, quite frankly, those contetants sang Greatest Day just as well - if not better - than Take That themselves), was finding out that we've reached that time of year again when QVC like to remind us that it really isn't all that long until we're hauling those decorations out of the loft and digging out that Michael Buble album - yes, last night it was that annual QVC event, Christmas in July!  Now, normally I love seeing all that Christmassy stuff, because I love Christmas, and it's a time of year I always look forward to.  It's just that, this year, I'm planning on releasing a book at Christmas.  And it's a Christmas romance so, really, it's got to be released then.  But last night, Christmas in July was not a lovely reminder of a wonderful time of year, it was a monumental kick up the backside for me because it basically reminded me that I need to get my arse in gear, stop faffing about, and get bloody writing!  They did have some particularly lovely tea-lights on offer though...

My home made focaccia - not bad, for a first attempt...
Right, and on that note I'd better start thinking about getting back to that writing, now that my agitation over last nights Superstar and my panic that Christmas in July was the start of a rapid countdown to my new book has eased slightly.  I have spent the morning making some home made focaccia though, as a bit of a stress reliever.  All that kneading really can be a fabulous outlet, and I don't think it's turned out too bad, do you?  A little on the rustic side, maybe, but let's just hope it tastes good...

Monday, 23 July 2012

It's a new week, so what are my plans?

So, it's Monday and I'm easing myself into a new week after a particularly restful weekend with very little stress but far too many calories, but that's what not being able to afford a holiday does for you - I need that incentive to put down the chocolate and get exercising, and without that urgent need to acquire a bikini body I'm afraid I ate that Chinese take-away last night without an ounce of guilt.  However, I did wake up this morning and switched on the Wii Fit machine for the first time in what seems like an eternity because I can't carry on like this.  I need to drop a few pounds before Christmas so's I can put them all back on again without feeling guilty!

Blimey, where was I?  See how easy it is for me to run off at a tangent?  Anyway, I was talking about a new week beginning, the week where Britain counts down to the Olympics but, quite frankly, all I'm bothered about is getting some serious work done on this new book of mine.  So, because Christmas will, no doubt, come hurtling towards us like some out-of-control meteorite before we know it, I've got to really knuckle down and get this Christmas romance of mine done, but quite a bit of research is needed, as I've found out the more I get into writing the story.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I'm having to catch up with a lot of how the resort of Levi in Lapland has changed since I was last there, but I'm also having to research a little bit about the Sami culture too.  I'm sure most people will have heard of Samis - the indigenous people inhabiting the Arctic regions of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, and even certain areas of Russia - and I have a character in my book who is Sami, so, I just want to make sure that I try to get everything as accurate as I can.  There isn't a need to go into anything too deep or intricate, but sometimes even the smallest reference to something needs to be researched, just to make sure it's correct.

Sami culture - a fascinating subject to research...
So, that's my plan for this week - countdown to the Olympics?  Not really.  As far as I'm concerned that's just something that's going to muck up the scheduling of some of my favourite programmes from now until the middle of August when there really isn't a need, I mean, come on - we're getting 24 dedicated Olympic channels, does BBC1 really have to be non-stop sport?  Sorry, I'm going off on one again, but that's what a few weeks without the prospect of any Casualty or Holby City does for me.  No, my plan for this week is to get as much initial background research done as I can, then it's full steam ahead to get a first draft of this book done - because I know that it's going to be a book that will definitely need going over quite a few times before I'm happy with it.  I can tell, it's just a feeling I've got.  I want it to be right, therefore I suspect a great deal of fannying about will ensue once this first draft's out of the way.

Oooh, and Superstar's back tonight!  A reality talent show I'm actually enjoying, mainly because of the absence of Gary Barlow, so, you can imagine how disturbed - not to mention slightly annoyed - I was to find out that said Mr Barlow is in fact dueting with the Superstar guys on tonights show.  He's playing the piano while they sing Greatest Day, apparently.  Now, as you may know, I'm a Take That fan (just not a Gary Barlow fan - can't stomach him without the rest of them) but I really don't want to hear five guys who are supposed to be "auditioning" for a rock opera belting out a Take That song.  It just isn't right.  But, who am I to argue with the decision?  I'll just use that portion of the programme to go chop up some fruit for my new healthy diet or something...

Okay, enough of the rambling.  If I carry on in this vein I'll be ranting about Justin Bieber and One Direction next and you really don't want to get me started on those subjects... Sometimes I think Take That have a lot to answer for...

It's time to get back to the writing, although, I think I'll trim me fingernails a bit first.  They're playing havoc with me typing now they've got a bit longer... I have no idea how people with beautiful long nails cope with keyboards, it's just a mystery to me...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Holiday memories and book research... A lovely day of remembering...

So, what's been happening today, then?  Well, writing!  That's what's been happening today.  Yes, I'm pleased to say that I've finally turned the corner with this new book of mine, stopped fannying about with this editing-as-I-go lark and actually started concentrating on the story and the characters.  The faffing about can wait until the editing/rewriting process begins.

It's been a funny week so far but, after a couple of days of knuckling down and concentrating on what's really important, I think I've got my focus back.  And I'm not intending to let it go quite so easily again.

Levi town centre
So, as I continue work on my new book, I've started doing a lot of research into the resort of Levi in Finnish Lapland, where my new book is set because, although I have visited Levi in the past, it was a while ago now and the resort has changed dramatically since I was last there.  When we visited, the resort consisted of a few hotels, a Spar shop and, as far as I can remember, a bar near the bottom of the ski slopes where we spent most of New Year's Eve, 1998 - when we weren't sledging down the ski slopes like a load of overgrown kids.  That was so much fun!  But now a whole town has sprung up with shops, bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels and apartments.  And it looks amazing!

The Hotel Levitunturi, where I stayed on my own visit to Levi, Lapland.
So, it's proving to be a wonderfully calming and extremely enjoyable task, all this research, bringing back memories of an absolutely amazing holiday.  And yes, I did try ski-ing, and failed miserably.  Although, to be fair, I didn't actually fall over until day 3 of ski school, so I'm classing that as quite an achievement.

Lapland truly is a beautiful place, especially at Christmas, and I have to say, after doing all this research and seeing how much the resort of Levi has changed, I really, really want to go back there!  But, at the minute, I shall have to make do with making sure my characters enjoy what Levi has to offer - from the strange hours of daylight at that time of year (three, on average!), to the wonderfully different array of food to the incredible excursions on offer from snow-mobiling over frozen lakes to reindeer-sleigh driving (I did that! Actually, I did both of those excursions...) and, of course, surely Lapland wouldn't be the same without a trip to see Santa Claus? 

The Levi ski-slopes in early afternoon.
Anyway, I thought I'd post a couple of images of Levi to give you just a small idea of where my next book is going to be set - a beautiful place where, I hope, beautiful things happen for my characters.  And I only hope they enjoy this wonderful place as much as I did, but then, that's really up to me to make sure of that, isn't it? ;-)

Speaking of which, I think it's about time I got back to that research... I just love that feeling you get when you know a story is finally coming together, thanks to some incredible inspiration...

Oh, before I go, though, speaking of inspiration, no romance would be complete without a rather hot and handsome male character, would it?  So, watch this space to find out just who's provided the inspiration for the character of Zac, a ski instructor and laid-back rocker who I'm certainly enjoying creating!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Distractions, distractions - but at least the dining table's been built!

So, how's my day gone so far?  Well, I got out of bed this morning with every intention of carrying on with work on my new novel but instead I found myself sat on the sofa with a mug of tea watching repeats of Masterchef: The Professionals on the Good Food satellite channel, despite having already seen that particular episode when it was on BBC 2, but I've got a very small crush on Michel Roux Jr. so a second viewing wasn't too much like hard work.
After that I loaded the washing machine, vacuumed, dusted, stripped the bed, fed the dog, and faffed around on the internet for a while before indulging in a lovely phone chat with my fellow indie author and friend Amanda Egan.  After lunch I took Archie for his walk, saw a single magpie and subsequently became convinced that something crap was now going to happen.  And now I'm back in front of the computer, desperately trying to summon up the energy to get back to the writing and, for some stange reason, listening to Iron Maiden!  But it's been a funny few days, and it's taking a while to get the enthusiasm back.  Which is why I'm doing this, telling you all about my rather uninteresting and uneventful day.  Any distraction is a good one right now, even though I know I've got so much work to be getting on with.

So, if it's distractions I'm looking for, what else is on my mind today that I can ramble aimlessly on about?  Okay.  here's something - I am thoroughly enjoying Andrew Llyod Webber's search for Jesus in ITV1's Superstar.  Mind you, having just read a few reviews of the show I may actually be in the minority there, but sticking a show like this on the channel that gives us The X Factor was never really a good idea in my opinion.  And even though I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with these kind of shows, this one has a major postive for me - there's no Gary Barlow on the judging panel!  Still trying to work out why Dawn French is there though, and Amanda Holden is quite possibly the worst presenter I've ever seen but you can't have everything.
Anyway, my favourite "Jesus" is Nathan James, a guy with a fantastic rock voice and, after all, surely that's what's required in this particualr role?  Which still makes me wonder why they have these lads singing God-awful pop songs or boring ballads night after night.  But, I'm still enjoying it, even if I do question the song choices, although Nathan and a few of the other guys (Rory, Ben and David spring to mind) are doing a cracking job of doing their best with whatever song they're given.  Any one of them could get the role of Jesus for me (although Nathan's still my favourite - he has an incredible voice I could listen to all day!) and I'd be quite happy to part with money to see the show.

It's giving me whole heap of escapism, is a nightly dose of reality TV.  And I won't apologise for my love of escapist telly, because I'm one of those people that needs to have something to take her mind off things otherwise I'll just sit and dwell on stuff that eventually leads me to the vodka bottle and that shelf full of chocolate in the fridge!  Which isn't good, in the long run.  I mean, yesterday I spent many unecessary hours over-analysing a review left on for No Matter What that pointed out a couple of apostrophe errors and the fact that the reviewer thought I should have used more "Americanisms" in the book, seeing as it was set mainly in Los Angeles, which it was.  However, it was a book written by an English person, and the main character is also English, so she would obvioulsy use the odd English term for things, wouldn't she?  But, in answer to one question asked in that review, I'd like said reviewer to click here to see what baseball boots look like. This particular reviewer had no clue what they were, you see.  Are they called something different in America?  Maybe some kind American can help me with that one because when I Google the request, it still just brings up baseball boots!!!  I'm stumped, quite frankly...  Having said all of this though, and the fact that this person didn't really seem to enjoy the book, they still gave it 3 stars, so not all bad then!

You see, I'm finding a lot of stuff to talk about today although, granted, none of it is particularly interesting.  But I appear to just be looking for any diversion I can find to stop me from writing.  Why?  Because I've acquired that horrible habit of editing as I go, and I really need to knock it on the head because it's meant that, in over a week, I haven't moved past chapter 3 because every day I obsessively go back over everything I've written and re-edit it all!  And that means moving forward is proving very difficult, but I'm determined that the beginning of this book will be right!  Mind you, the rational part of my brain tells me what I already know - I can always come back to all of that later when the real editing begins, because I'm sensible enough to realise that I should just be knocking out this first draft in order to get my story, characters and dialogue down; to give me some kind of framework to work with.  So, if I know all of that, why am I still fannying about with the first 3 chapters?  Good question.  I'm off to get another mug of tea then I might just try to answer that.  And if I manage to do that, then maybe I can actually get back to doing some constructive work on that new book...

My new dining table.
Oh, before I go though, a little update on yesterdays dining table situation -  it's now assembled, although hubby did inform me that it had to be taken apart twice after realising legs had been put on back to front.  And it's ridiculous how excited one person can get over the fact they now have a new dining table, with two extendable pull-out leaves, no less... I really need to get out more...

Monday, 16 July 2012

Things are changing, just a bit...

Okay.  For the forseeable future things are changing a little bit on this humble blog of mine.  How?  And why?  I'll explain...

I've been writing for years now, and have been a self-published eBook indie author for just under fourteen months.  To date, I've released five books - three contemporary romances on the more sexy and edgy side of things, and two romantic comedies - all of which have been both loved and ripped apart, almost in equal measures.  I've spoken to, and indeed become friends with a lot of very talented authors over these past few months, and I've learnt more about writing, publishing, promoting, etc. than I ever thought possible.

But, at this precise moment in time, I think I've hit a bit of a wall - I've come to a point where things seem to be at a bit of a stand still and I can't seem to get my head around just what it is I need to be doing right now.

For the past year or so I've worked hard - in the best way I can, and the only way I know how - to promote my books, get my name out there, let people know who I am and what I do and I think, in some respects, I tried too hard.  There were times when that promotion may have turned into slight overkill because there were times when even I realised that all I seemed to be doing was talking about my books, talking about writing, talking about selling and promoting and reviews.  That's all I did, from getting up in the morning until early evening, and even when I'd shut the computer down and tried to switch off for the night, I couldn't do it.  My mind was still racing, thinking about what I had to do the next day, worrying about promoting, fretting over and over-analysing a bad review.  And, if I'm being completely honest about this, I haven't been enjoying writing for a few months now.  And I haven't enjoyed it because, as I've been writing I've been worrying - about the promotion that's to come, about whether I've missed any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors; worrying about the bad reviews I may receive, whether anyone's going to like the book or not in fact, right now, I've just checked my reviews and found a review on about apostrophe errors in  No Matter What that I'll probably obsess about for the next week.  Because that's what I do.  But I shouldn't.  I have to face facts - I'm a self-published author, and I do everything myself, including the editing, even though I would, if I could afford it, hire an editor.  But I can't, so, despite re-editing that book countless times, it seems a few errors have still slipped through the net, but I'm just going to have to let them go because if I continue to obsessively re-edit one single book, I'm never going to move forward.  And if the mistakes were that bad then surely a few more people would have mentioned them?  I re-edited Bon Voyage after a review pointed out errors, but I can't continue to keep on doing that, so what I need to do is concentrate on getting things right before my books are sent out to join the virtual bookshelves.

So, I'm taking a step back.  Oh, not from writing, no.  Definitely not from writing.  That's what I'm going to be concentrating on.  That's what I'm going to be giving my full attention to.  It's things like social networking that will see me fade into the background.  My presence there will be somewhat diluted over the next few months as I try to give my attention solely to my new book.  The other five are out there now, I've promoted them all as best I can so I think it's time to just let them go and see how they get on all by themselves whilst I try to concentrate on some new work, try to decide just where it is I want this writing journey of mine to take me; try not to get bogged down by worrying about the grammar police or reviews or wondering whether I should be promoting books instead of writing them.

The happiest I've ever felt was when I was writing No Matter What, and I know the reason why - my journey had only just begun.  I was writing a book I'd wanted to write for so long, and I had nothing else there to distract me from doing that.  I hadn't yet become fully involved in the world of social networking so my distractions were few and my concentration was high.  I was fully connected to those characters and that book and I woke up every day longing to get to my desk so I could continue that story.  I want to get back to feeling that way again.

I'm not going to cut myself off from everything else altogether - that would just be stupid.  But I think another phase of my writing journey is about to begin.  But it's a journey I'd like to share, so you have been warned! ;-)

So, this blog is going to turn into a kind of diary, if you like, with regular (but not always daily) posts charting my day, what's going on in my life, whether that new Ikea dining table and chairs hubby's currently building downstairs is completed before dinner tonight otherwise it's dinner on our knees in front of Look North...  You get my drift?  For the next few months, join me in my not-so-secret-diary as I embark on my sixth novel - a Christmas romance; join me as I create those new characters, build that new story; listen to my ramblings about TV, movies, the fact Celebrity Big Brother's almost here...  I can't promise every post will be earth-shattering, or even remotely interesting, but I'm trying this out to see if it helps me on this crazy journey of mine... and I'll try anything once... well, almost anything...

Anyway, I'm not going to ramble on anymore, because there's going to be enough of that over the coming months, but I hope you get the idea of what shape this blog is going to take from now on.  It's just me, my new novel, and a journey that sees my writing adventure continue... in whatever shape that may take...

Has any of this made any sense whatsoever... ???

Right, I'd better go see how that dining table's coming along... it's gone awfully quiet downstairs...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Reviews - do they REALLY drive our book sales?

Last week I started watching 'Blackout', a new drama on BBC1 starring Christopher Eccleston.  Now, as far as I'm concerned, Christopher Eccleston can do very little wrong in my eyes.  He's a great actor, and I've been a fan for a long time now.  He first came to my attention in the utterly brilliant 'Our Friends in the North' back in 1996 (which also featured Daniel Craig, with a Geordie accent!), and he made an extremely good Doctor Who too, but he'll never overtake David Tennant as the best Doctor EVER, oh no... nobody will ever manage to do that in my eyes... Anyway, I digress...

Christopher Eccleston in BBC drama 'Blackout'
So, I watched this new drama, mainly because Christopher Eccleston was in it and he's never made anything I didn't like before, but also because the story sounded interesting.  However, about half an hour into the first episode and I was having problems.  Yes, the story was good, and yes, Christopher Eccleston was his usual brilliant self, but I was distracted.  And I was distracted because I absolutely hate the way it's been filmed.  I'd read in an interview with Eccleston before the programme aired that the director had filmed this drama to make Manchester look very Gotham City-esque, so everything was very dark, with some shots (especially those on the steps of the City Hall) coming straight out of a Batman movie.  And, for me, all it did was distract me from a very good storyline and some great acting.  I'm sticking with it, because I want to know what happens but, if I'm being honest, I did find episode two this week a bit of a chore to get through and I'm actually glad it's only got one more episode to go.  I'm not fully enjoying it as much as I would have done if they'd just filmed it without the dark and eerie feel.  It didn't need it, in my opinion.  But, that's just my opinion.  Because reviews are just one person's opinion, when all is said and done, aren't they?  But - and this brings me onto the real subject of todays post - as far as the indie author, especially, is concerned, there's a growing consensus out there that reviews are something that can make or break sales and, if that's true, then that's a worrying thing for me as I have a range of reviews for all of my books, from 1 to 5 stars for almost all of them. 

But, as I mentioned before in my very short "review" of 'Blackout', the style of filming just wasn't for me, but that's not to say it won't be for everyone else, it's just how I feel, personally.  And when someone leaves a review of your books, they're leaving a reflection of how they feel too.  However, whilst some reviews can make a writer's day - even those that leave a little bit of constructive criticism, because that can actually be quite useful - others can just be downright hurtful and rude.  And we as writers can't do a thing to stop unecessarily nasty reviews being left, we can only sit there and watch as they lower our rating and, possibly, damage our sales.

But, do these type of reviews really damage sales?  And do a bucket-load of excellent reviews really drive sales forward?  Do people - when looking for books to read - really place a lot of importance on the star rating of a book or the amount of reviews it's received? I've had some amazing comments and feedback on my books from people on Twitter and Facebook, all positive, all telling me they really enjoyed my books, but not all of those people have left reviews on Amazon, and that doesn't bother me.  Somebody telling me they enjoyed my books is more than enough for me, I don't need to see it written down in review form.  But, do other readers choosing a new book to read need to see that evidence?  I don't know.  I can only assume that the majority of readers are intelligent people who may well check out reviews - postive and negative - but then be sensible enough to make their own minds up by making use of Amazon's 'Look Inside' feature, reading a sample of the  book, and then deciding for themselves whether they'd like to buy the book or not. Because, if they go purely on what other people may have written then that can only be damaging for those of us who may have fallen victim to the odd really negative or unecessarily nasty review.

I've read a lot in the past few weeks about how a lot of indie authors think it's reviews that drive sales, and whilst they do help, of course they do, because a handful of reviews - both positive and negative - at least give potential readers some idea of the book they're looking at, don't they?  But surely reviews should only be taken at face value, because, after all, they're only one person's opinion, aren't they?  And you can't please all of the people... if only... ;-)

I mean, let's look at movie reviews for a second - they, as with book reviews, are just one person's opinion.  I've watched movies that have been given 1 or 2 stars by a reviewer and yet I've thoroughly enjoyed those films.  And the same can be said for the other way around - movies that have had 4 or 5 star reviews have left me cold.

So, I'm hoping, just incase I get a run of really tragic reviews (I am so pessimistic sometimes, I really must learn how to shake that...) that the majority of readers do actually take reviews at face value, check them out but then make their own minds up. 

So, are there any readers out there who'd care to share how they feel about reviews?  Do you take a lot of notice of them when looking for books to buy?  How much importance do you place on reviews when searching for something to read?  I'd be really interested to hear your opinions on this.

Anyway, that's enough from me for one day, I think.  After all, I've just begun work on book number 6 this week and I really need to knuckle down and get cracking with that... but, watch this space to see who's become the inspiration for Zac - a hot American ski instructor who's going to be the main man in my Lapland-themed winter romance... ;-)

Right - I'm off for a cup of tea...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Return of the "Bonkbuster"...

Yes, thanks to 'Fifty Shades of Grey', the "Bonkbuster" is back! Actually, it never really went away in my eyes, because I've always loved a good Jackie Collins, but over the years people seemed to be less keen to be seen with books such as this.  It wasn't the done thing to be spotted on the bus with a Jilly Cooper, although God knows why.   It never bothered me.  However, thanks to the advent of the Kindle - and E-Readers in general - it now doesn't matter what the hell you're reading, because nobody can tell!  And that's partly the reason why the 'Fifty Shades...' books are proving so popular.  The other reason seems to be because sex sells, and I've already covered that subject in this earlier post Sex sells, doesn't it?  What I'm doing in this post is celebrating the fact that, all of a sudden, it's now actually the done thing to be seen with a "bonkbuster" in your handbag!  And, for a writer like me, that's really good news.  I know I've written a couple of light-hearted romantic comedies, but three of my books - No Matter What, Illusions of Love and See You At The Show all lean towards the more sexy side of romance.  Oh, I'm not talking anywhere near 'Fifty Shades...', but they all have their moments.  Actually, a couple of reviews I've received for No Matter What actually accused it of having too much sex in it so, if you like that kind of thing, you know where to look...  No whips or chains or anything like that, though... ;-)

Sex, Love & rock'n'roll...
So, are we now going to have a deluge of writers all jumping on the 'Fifty Shades...' bandwagon, knocking out erotic fiction like it was going out of fashion?  Which it probably will do, in time.  The answer to that is, more than likely, yes.  It's what (some) women seemingly want to read right now, and who are we, as writers, to disappoint?  Of course, we all have to wait until the entire universe has finished reading the 'Fifty Shades...' trilogy first before the rest of us get a look in...

A an epic, sexy Hollywood romance...

Actually, I'm beginning to think I'm one of the few women in existence who hasn't read these books yet, and I'm not really in any kind of hurry to do so - for a number of reasons.  Firstly, major hype usually has the opposite effect with me.  Having said that, though, I wish to God someone would hype my books the way 'Fifty Shades...' is being hyped.  That's a writers dream, that is.  And secondly, if I read those books, and people know I've read those books, there's a chance that - should my next book contain anything even slightly steamy, and I'm not talking about an overheated oven here - then I run the risk of people accusing me of just jumping on the 'Fifty Shades...' bandwagon.  Which I would never do.  I've always wanted to write books that are on the slightly sexier side of things.  And my novels No Matter What and See You At The Show were both written way before 'Fifty Shades...' came on the scene.

My latest sexy "bonkbuster"...
So, I will just continue to write the way I write; I'll continue to knock out those slightly sexy beach-reads, those books that provide an escape to lives most of us will never, ever lead but quite like to fantasise about... and I shall continue to celebrate the return of the "bonkbuster", because I think we all need a little escape from real-life now and again, don't we? 

If you'd like to check out any of my own little "bonkbusters", they're all available to download from Amazon.  They might not be in the same league as 'Fifty Shades...', but they do have their somewhat, racier shall we say, moments... they also have more than their fair share of rather hot men... What more could a woman want?  Oh, yeah... chocolate... and wine... and a Bradley Cooper look-a-like to come and do the gardening...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Illusions of Love - It's finally published!

So, I finally got there!  Illusions of Love, the follow-up to my debut novel No Matter What, is finally published!  And I'm sitting here with that same nervous, churning feeling in the pit of my stomach, that same feeling I get every time I launch a new book; that feeling that never goes away, because you never know how people are going to react to your books (you only have to look at the reviews for my cruise-themed rom com Bon Voyage to see that - and they're particularly vocal about that book over on!)

Anyway, Illusions of Love has been available to download for a couple of days now and, so far, the feedback has been very postive with two lovely 5* reviews on Amazon already, that I'm extremely grateful for.  But this is very early days for this book, and because it's a follow-up novel, it's really important to me that the book works, that I did those characters from No Matter What justice, that I delivered a story good enough to engage readers and hold their interest.  I know for a fact that there were people out there waiting for this book (and that is such a lovely feeling, believe me) and I really didn't want to disappoint them.  So I hope they enjoy it.

How have things changed since 'No Matter What'...?
So, today I'm celebrating the release of this follow-up novel.  A novel that takes us, once again, into the world of India Walsh, the Hollywood actress with the complicated love-life.  How have things changed as we pick up the story a year or so on from the end of No Matter What?  Well, you'll just have to download the book and find out for yourself.  But what we do have is more twists and turns, a brand new character in the shape of gorgeous movie star, Dominic MacDonald, and more sex.  Of course.  Oh, I'm not talking 'Fifty Shades of Grey' or anything, but there are definitely some hot scenes in there, so, if that's not your thing then this won't be the book for you, but, if you like that kind of sexy escapism then you might just want to check it out. ;-)

I love writing these kind of books - and thanks to the emergence of books such as 'Fifty Shades of Grey', there seems to be a welcome return to the "Bonkbuster", which is good news for me, I suppose.  I do love writing the slightly more light-hearted and humorous chick lit too, but I think there are people out there who do that so much better than me (check out fellow indie author Amanda Egan's books - she's a fabulous writer!), so I think my books are now definitely leaning more towards the sexier side of things.  You have been warned! ;-)  I guess I just want to create that fantasy world, that escapism, and if I can do that for just a few people, I'll be very, very happy.

So, if you like your books in the Jackie Collins/Jilly Cooper mould, (although I'm not pretending for one minute that I'm anywhere near as talented as those two in writing books like this), then you might want to check out No Matter What and Illusions of Love, and grab yourself some of that sexy escapism.  

Find out where the story began...
I tried to make Illusions of Love a stand-alone book in its own right, in that it wasn't really necessary to read No Matter What first, but I do think that it would be more enjoyable if that book was read first, although, like I said, it isn't totally necessary.  I've tried to do small catch-up paragraphs within the book that would give any reader who hadn't read No Matter What at least some idea of how the characters are where they are, and how they've found themselves in the situations they're in, hopefully without boring those who already know the story.  But Illusions of Love is a continuation of that two-decade-spanning journey, and would more likely make more sense to the reader if they had read No Matter What first.  So, why not grab a copy of that first, and then see if you want to continue the story on...


No Matter What and Illusions of Love are both available to download from and for just £1.90/ $2.96.

And if you'd like to try before you buy, you can check out a sample chapters from Illusions of Love and No Matter What here in these blog posts... No Matter What - excerpt and  Illusions of Love - sample chapter