Archive for May, 2017


 

In-Love-with-a-Fictional-Character.pngThis is something I have done since I first began to devour books. When I was younger I wanted to be George from the Famous Five.

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When I was about twelve I had a huge crush on Atreyu from The Never Ending Story, I balled my eyes out when Artax died in the Swamp of Sorrows.

0133735_42657_MC_Tx360.jpgLater various characters from Feist’s Midkemia filled my imagination. And who wouldn’t want Reilly’s Scarecrow to be their significant other or at least friend. I was never the sort to be swept off my feet by Mr Darcy and the love I felt for characters was mostly familial. I wanted them to be my friends. When I lacked friends in the real world I never lacked for them in my imagination. I would retreat from the teasing and hurt by venturing into other worlds;

Narnia, Crabapple Farm, River Heights, Kirrin Island, Ancient Egypt and the list goes on. I went on adventures with Pug and Thomas, Reepicheep, Tasslehoff Burfoot, solved mysteries with Nancy and Trixie.

Nancy-Drew-vintage-image.jpgAs I got older my tastes changed, but how I read and why I read didn’t. Mother would be a great laugh to hang with, in fact an afternoon spent with Eve and Roarke, Mother, Mercy, Adam and various surrounding players would be my idea of wonderful. On another day, Beka Cooper, Keladry, Annabeth, Caroline and I could all sit down over a civilised cheesecake and chocolate and right all the wrongs in the world, what a glorious day that would be.

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It’s okay if you don’t know a lot of these names that’s your loss, but then you may have a list of names I wouldn’t recognise and that is fine too. Just like in real life we all like different people, so we are all drawn to different characters and stories.

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Characters fill my head, mine and others. I often find them easier to relate to, less likely to cause me grief in any way. It was in these characters that I found acceptance to be me, as silly as it may sound. If girls, and women, such as these, who don’t comfortably fit into a mould, can have friends, family and success, then maybe I could as well. I never felt I fit, not really, but I did with my fictional friends.

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Writing my own stories in some ways has been an extension of this love affair. I never set out to write Evayn as she is now, as the character she is becoming (see what I did there?) She started in fact as what my husband lovingly, or laughingly, referred to as, my naked amnesia chick. Holy heck she has come a long way. (There may be spoilers ahead but only little ones.) Now I know her so well I know when she will roll her eyes, bite her lip or bottle up all that is bothering her. I know that holding steel in her hand calms her and helps her think. I know the dragon in her confuses her and she struggles to embrace that fully, in a way she never struggled with that she inherited from her father. I know her dark places. I’ve been there with her and want nothing more than to be with her at the end of this adventure we are going on.

There are many characters in this world I’ve created whom I’ve become attached to. Some I’ve shed tears over and others I want to slap, I hope that means I’ve done a good job with them because those are the feelings I get when I deal with real people.

Reading led me to writing. Reading has always been a central part of who I am. For me it is something that provides a break to life and all the crap that can be found in it. I willingly say I rarely read non-fiction or literary work. I read to escape not to be reminded of that which actually surround me. Reading has given me people to love and despise without the need to actually interact with people, (and I am a person that a sometimes struggles with being around people). It is also a refuge and that is part of the end result of falling in love with a world and its characters. I have read some books over and over and yes even over (sometimes to the point of the book falling apart). Those books are my safe place to go. There are times when I want to close out the rest of the world and curl up with an old friend, it is like a safety blanket, warm, cuddly and comfortable. Safe.

As a writer I want to write a story people like, a character people love and if I can create a world that people want to return to then that would be my idea of success.

Though lots of book sales would also be an acceptable definition.

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Social Media and Writers

OMG I can’t believe that happened.

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No this isn’t about Deadpool, by I needed a pic to show how some things make me feel.

Social media has made some amazing things possible. I was feeling frustrated and angry one day so I went to a writer whose work I love and asked for advice. Part of me didn’t expect a response but they got back to me, I may have squee’d. Today I thanked a writer for the gift their books gave me and they got back to me with thanks.

This post isn’t going to be about how to use social media to promote your author platform, this is about using it for interaction with others and how some authors do it right.

When I was growing up you could join fan clubs for popular kids books, you could even try to write to writers through publishers, there was no guarantee that your letter would get to them, though many did get responses.

Times have changed. Some say social media is bad, it causes isolation and negatively impacts people’s ability to interact one on one. Yes it can certainly do that. It can give you the feeling of interacting when in fact you are building a wall around the real you, a false persona to project to the world at large. It can also be a very useful tool.

When I was still involved in children’s bookselling, I used social media to connect to people in the publishing industry and authors. I built a network, and it is a network that still serves me well even though my career trajectory is very different and books (writing and reading) no longer provide my primary income.

Authors, or at least some, are quite willing to interact with readers.

With all the rigmarole that went on regarding my publisher I reached out one day to a favourite author. Now I was down and desperate, I just wanted to get it out of my system to someone who I thought would understand my frustration. Sure I hoped for a response but there was a part of me who realistically believed that would never happen. She did, and Tamora Pierce you have no idea what a boost it was to me to read your considered response of advice and encouragement.

I have favourite books, yes that is plural and I cannot nor would I want to, make that list down to one. One of these books is Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi. I love this book so much I have an image from it inked onto my skin.

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I shared the above pic with Tony and he liked it. That wasn’t the only interaction I’ve had with him. One day I messaged saying I knew he sold prints of some of his work and I wondered if he could tell me where I might be able to buy one from Kenny. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what would happen next. He asked me my address and sent me this ink sketch. It holds pride of place in my office. It to offers incredible inspiration, on those dark days I can look of it and hold onto the thought ‘never abandon imagination.’

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These are not my only interactions. Marianne DePierres had a small afternoon tea with some fans one afternoon that I was invited to, and I went out for a catch up with Michael Pryor when he was in town doing signings and school talks. Both of these authors were more than willing to listen and offer snippets of advice and encouragement.

Today I felt the need to thank Raymond E Feist. I was thinking of doing something really silly, and even as I thought of it I knew it was silly. Authors don’t really want you hitting them up on social media to read your book or promote your work. Think about it. What an imposition. It puts them in an awkward position. How do they let you down without in some way coming across as a dick? So I talked myself out of such a stupid action and instead thanked him for his influence on my life. He responded, immediately. I was kind of gobsmacked.

Here is the thing though. Here is where social media gets tricky. These people you look up to, do not know you. For the most part any way. Sometimes you get lucky and actually strike up a relationship, friendship or mentorship. Mostly though they are just words sent in response to something. Oh I wish I was friends with any number of these people but they have their lives and I have mine. I’d like to think though that knowing they have done something that has helped or been memorable to an aspiring author and fan, would be a positive thing.

 

After The Fact

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So what now?

It’s a big thing. You don’t realise just how much energy you expend just before hitting that submit button. I mean you know it’s your main focus but you don’t realise just what that will mean once you’ve done the deed.

And once you’ve done that deed you can feel a bit flat, at somewhat of a loose end.

The thing about writing is it is very personal. You pour so much of your time and in some respects yourself, into what you write. You want to have a good product, but the thought of putting it out there into the world can be quite terrifying. Once your book is live the terror doesn’t go away. In some ways it increases. What if no one buys it? What if people don’t like it? It can be a dark place to find yourself and for a creative person, who may be prone to moments of depression that can be a rough thing.

If you are lucky enough to have gone the traditional route then there is not a lot you can do once it is out there. You just have to trust in your work and your publisher to get that work out there.

If you have self published electronically then it is all really on you. Which means on some level you put some of that pressure on your friends. That is a difficult thing to work through. Friends and aquaintances want to support you and so they say all the right things. It makes you feel good to read or hear that support, until you go to your author log in and realise of the 100 people who said ‘awesome’ and other mutterings of support, only 20 people have actually put their hands in their pockets to support you.

So where does that leave you as an author who has perhaps spent years working towards this goal?

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Well you get over it. You get over yourself.

If you haven’t figured out by now that you need to have a thick skin to be in this industry, then you are either naive or not been in or around the industry for very long.

It isn’t your friends fault they don’t read, don’t like the genre you’ve written in, or that they prefer a paper copy. When it comes right down to it you can’t make someone read. You also can’t expect others to actually pay for something they have no interest in. The numbers are hard to deal with. That’s all they are though and realistically selling twenty copies to people who genuinely like the story you’ve put out there, makes it all worth it. It just doesn’t pay your bills.

Sure I won’t say no if someone buys it and doesn’t read it. And I’m more than willing to remind people that for an amount similar to a large coffee you can support a writer. I also like to let people know that for such a meagre amount the writer gets more money from the electronic sale, than they would if you had spent 4 times that amount to purchase their book.

A story that sells thousands is all author’s dream, or at least I guess it is, but it is just that, a dream, and dreams like that are usually ones you work towards, they rarely happen overnight. Reality is a lot harsher but we need to take hope from the few who put their money into your pocket and embrace your characters the same way you did when you formed them from your own precious time, (and sometimes your blood as well).

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The dream may happen in the future, but it is going to take forward action for that to happen, so you can’t let the funk post publication get to you. You need to just pick up your pen, or your keyboard and just keep writing.

If someone knows how to make my story of a kick arse girl who works hard and becomes a kick arse woman with a drive to seek justice and an ability to fight for it, get out there and become an overnight sensation, then please feel free to make that happen. (I’m also fine with movie or tv series offers as well.)

Otherwise if you’ve just swung by here to read my musings in this moment, then welcome, and if you’d like to check Becoming out, then please follow the link.