Saturday 22 March 2014

Oh dear!  It has been far too long since I have posted anything.  With a new baby in the house, it's far too easy to let my hobbies slip to the wayside.  Mind you, admittedly, blogging disappeared long before the arrival of my newest addition.

Anyways, I'm excited that the A-Z blogging challenge is soon upon us, for I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things, at least for the month of April.

I have yet to pick a topic for the challenge, but I've been toying with a few ideas.

Have you picked a theme yet?  You still have some time to sign up.

Here's a link to the site, if you want to check it out. 

Sunday 11 August 2013

celebration:The action of marking one's pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social activity.

Well today I have a bit of a funny story for you all... Today is August 11, 2013.  For many years growing up we celebrated my Dad's birthday on August 11th.  At least I'm nearly 100% certain that we did.

Now, as sometimes happens in life, actually it seems to be more common than not, when I was about thirteen, my parents split up.  My Dad was not part of my biological creation, but to me he always has been and always will be my Dad.  Unfortunately, break-ups can be just as hard on the kids, and things became a little bumpy between my Dad and I.  We would go through periods of not talking for years at a time.  However, I always realized how much I loved him and wanted him in my life and he always forgave me.

As I got older and started travelling, we no longer lived in the same place so I always made a point of calling him on his birthday, as most people do for loved ones in times of celebration.  One year in particular, I can remember it so vividly... I was living in Canmore, Alberta.  I was standing outside the Sobeys, using a calling card on a pay phone.  Thinking I'm doing good calling my Dad to wish him a Happy Birthday, I certainly wasn't expecting the conversation we ended up having.

'Happy Birthday Dad' I said.

'Well that's nice Jessie,' (he always called me Jessie) 'but it's not my birthday'.

'Yes it is!  It's August 11th,' I said smiling at what I thought was his crazy French humour.

'Well yes it's the 11th, but my birthday is on the 12th.'

'No it's not.'  I know it's silly to be arguing with someone about the actual date of their birthday.  I mean they should know better than you, but I was sure we'd always celebrated it on the same day every year and that day hadn't been the 12th.

'Yes it is.'  By now I'm still laughing because that's always been my nervous reaction, but I'm beginning to think this isn't just a joke.

As you can imagine this exchange went back and forth a bit.

'Well, why did we always celebrate your birthday on the 11th then?'

'I don't know, because my birthday is on the 12th.  Always has been.  Always will be.'

Done with arguing, especially with my Dad on his... birthday?  We agreed to disagree.  Naturally, I called my mother up as soon as I hung up from my Dad and she agreed that as far as she knew, his birthday had always been on the 11th of August.

Every year after that, I was terrified of calling him on the 11th or 12th.  Therefore, I always made a point to call him either a few days before or a few days after, using the foreign countries I lived in, lack of pay phones, and temperamental calling cards as an excuse.

One year, I was filling in some paperwork for him that required his birth certificate and of course, this argument had never left my mind, so I stole a quick glimpse at his birth date.  Well you know what... it actually said August, 12th!  I was completely surprised.  At least the argument was finally over, not that I'd ever brought it up again, and it was safe to call him on his... birthday? once again. :)

Now, today is the 11th, and tomorrow my Dad would have been 76.  Last year I tried to plan a surprise party for him but it didn't really happen.  Nonetheless, we had a pleasant celebration with just him, me, and my two girls, a birthday cake, and some presents.  Sadly, he told me he couldn't remember the last time he'd had a birthday cake.  He was always the type of person doing for others but not easily accepting others doing for him, so I was even more glad that I'd decided to give him a little mini party.

In celebration of my Dad's birthday, I'm offering free copies of my book The Key to Life.  I'd love to offer 76 copies, however I don't know if I'll have that much interest.  So... for now I'll offer 12 free copies (via coupon to smashwords) to the first 12 people who respond to this post saying they'd like one.  (Just make sure you leave an email address I can send the coupon to). 

If there is a larger response, there will be more free copies to be handed out.  The only thing I ask in return is that you leave a review.

I'll end this by saying, Happy Birthday Dad :) (well for tomorrow anyways) and I hope all of you have a fabulous day!

Tuesday 16 July 2013

The exciting, fantastic, terrifying road of self-publishing

Having finally taken the plunge into self-publishing, I'm slowly beginning to realize the challenges that come along with self-promotion.  For that reason, I hope to help other indie authors get themselves out there and possibly find new readers. 

With that being said, I'd like to introduce you to J.P. Rambling, author of A Different Class-Boyhood.

What made you decide to self publish? 

The question as to what made me decide to self-publish could be 'what made me decide to publish at all'. Quite simply it is due to a handful of blog readers. A Different Class - Boyhood began life as a series of self-analytical blog posts but feedback from a variety of sources indicated it was of some interest to a wide range of people. Encouraged by kind words I embarked on a journey into the unknown. I am still a novice and have no expertise save that which experience has taught me.

How great to know you already have interest from readers before even embarking on the terrifying journey of baring your soul to the world.

Did you seek agent representation before self-publishing?  Or do you have an agent now?
The first thing I was told was that unless you are a known author most publishers wouldn't touch a manuscript unless it came through an agent. I didn't like the idea of having an agent without knowing how good / bad my manuscript was but nevertheless made some fruitless enquiries. Publishers were easier to find so I sent my manuscript off to the first I came across. I was asked for the first three chapters and the last one. This was hardly music to my ears because the early chapters gave just background details that whilst relevant later on gave no indication of the underlying theme. To my surprise the publisher asked for the full manuscript.
It took some time for the rejection to come through. When it did I was actually very pleased. The publisher was very complimentary on the whole and kindly pointed out where the problems were in the story. Taking on board the criticism I understood and set about revising the manuscript. Several months later I was ready. In reality I wasn't and I knew it. Even now I can still think of ways of improving the manuscript but I always will and the risk was it would never get to print. In addition I was getting impatient. I was in the process of writing the second book and didn't want more distractions. Self-publishing seemed the only solution. I had already considered self-publishing but minimal research left me in doubt to the actual mechanics.
For this reason I chose a self-publishing company which involved paying a fee. I took this route for three reasons. Oddly enough the main reason would seem the most trivial, I love books! If I read a book I like to touch it, be part of it almost, not stare at an LCD screen for hours on end. The second reason may seem equally banal - to some - because the company I chose had a package on offer at a 33% reduction. This brought the fee within amount I had allowed for this 'extravagance'. The third reason I perhaps a little naively considered the least important, was the package on offer and the back-up and support that went with it.
I agree about the preference of holding a book in my hands as opposed to staring at a computer screen, however I'm all for Eco-friendly too.  As for self-publishing companies... I remember looking into AuthorHouse, before I had even completed my manuscript.  They called and left me messages daily, to the point where it was kind of harassment and for that reason I'd probably never consider a self-publishing company again.  Not to mention, they can be quite costly and there are always a few scammers amongst the good ones.  But I'm glad not everyone's experience is quite so awful.
It seems like a bit of a daunting task, did you have any difficulties? Or was it easier than one would think?
I wouldn't say it was difficult because the process was structured in easy steps, but as a novice I hadn't previously been aware of the procedure which caused some delay.
Have you done anything to promote your book?
The publishers have sent out press releases and have ties to other interested parties. I have three signings booked which I arranged personally. I have also been contacted by a party who wish to create a short for the TIFF and a friend who is a playwright asking me for a short fifteen minute scripting. To be honest I simply don't have the time.
At least the publishers help a bit with promotion.  For me, this is the least fun part of a writing career.
Would you take on an agent if they offered representation now, or is it something that even interests you?
I would only consider an agent for my second and final(?) book if the first sold reasonably well. My ambitions are limited (which is frustrating the hell out of the publishers) and I am not writing for monetary gain, it is more a case of having something to say. The first book is subtitled 'Boyhood' and is concerned primarily with bullying although other sensitive issues are touched on. The second is subtitled 'Parenthood' and is more a statement on social deprivation.
I think this is a great approach, that way one doesn't set oneself up for disappointment.
What was your first manuscript? How long did it take you to write it?  Did you have it professionally edited?
A Different Class - Boyhood is my first manuscript. It took just a month or two to write but another seven months to revise the manuscript several times. I didn't have it professionally edited because I felt it wouldn't be my story anymore which may seem foolish to some but hey aren't authors supposed to have quirks? Besides which I budgeted a certain amount and am not prepared to spend further on what is basically speculation.
I love it!  A writer knowing and accepting his quirks. :) 
Did you have any critique partners?  If so, how many?
This is possibly my main failing. I would have liked three or four critique partners but was too far down the line by the time I knew of such. It is nice getting comments on the blog about posts but they are coming from people who follow the blog and ergo already like what I write. Their encouragement and support was crucial in prompting me to publish. I am perhaps my own worst critic.
I find critique partners hard to find, but when you do, it's like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
If you could change the way things have gone with your writing career, is there anything you would change?
The first thing would be to get critique partners (3 or 4), I've never had one but can see the benefits. That is for me though. Criticism makes me more determined to do better and get it right. Others do not handle criticism so well and it may discourage. The other thing I would change is the way I set about the first book. I would write it as a book from the onset instead of a series of events.
I definitely agree that criticism can either make or break a writer's vulnerable heart but once we learn how to take it, it can most certainly be that momentous force pushing us onward.
This is my most touchy question and a lot of authors choose not to answer, but how many copies have you sold?
I have no idea whatsoever. The book was published on 30th May and I will get the first quarterly report at the end of August.
The book is available from a variety of sources as an e-book from Kindle, and from Amazon as hard and paperbacks. I would warn anybody who is interested in the book that it doesn't make for bedtime reading. The book isn't recommended for under 15's and contains contextual profanity, domestic violence and abuse. I don't wish to issue spoilers but the subject matter is not all dark and the message is 'things DO get better'. My blog has a page for the book with extracts and 'deleted scenes' at The attachment is the manuscript prior to the final revision and you will need Adobe or another pdf file reader. There are still one or two typos early on in this version.
I haven't had a chance to check this out yet but despite the warning that it's not 'bedtime reading', it has piqued my interest.  Wishing another friendly author the greatest success on their writing journey.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Perseverance: 1.Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. 2.Continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.

Well as of late, I've found myself a bit uninspired.  I've been wanting to write a blog post but having no interesting thoughts to write about, blogging has been pushed to the side.  This in itself has finally given me something to write about... perseverance.

Having recently self-published my first book, I find myself a bit discouraged at times with my lack of sales.  I know there are millions of books and authors out there and to stand out amongst the crowd is a tall feat in itself.  Self-promotion seems exhausting when it feels so pointless.  But... I know that if this is something I really want to do, I must persevere.

Silly me, before I published my book, I had all these great ideas about how many copies I would sell.  I reasoned with myself that because I had so many different groups of friends, they would tell their friends and word would spread like wildfire... not so.  I know most authors don't like to share how many copies they've sold but I'm not embarrassed, I've sold 13.  However, probably half of those have been gifted in exchange for honest reviews, which I haven't received yet.  Now if only I could sell 1988 more, then I might be able to get an agent's attention.  Yes I just laughed aloud at myself, it's okay you can too. :)

When I first self-published, I was so excited by the response and I had such high hopes.  It seemed like quite a few people said they would purchase a copy, now I don't know if they forgot... but it didn't happen.  As for my facebook page, I must say, that was a bit disappointing at first too.  Again, I depended on my friends 'liking' my page and actually found myself a bit insulted by those who didn't.  However, after joining some groups on facebook, with one little request, other authors showed me so much support and seriously spiked my number of likes.  Authors really are supportive of one another!

On top of all of this, the one review I have received was so disheartening, as I mentioned in another post.  All the reviewer did was summarize my book, which bothered me because she basically gave away the story, and responded with the same three stars I'd given her.  With that, I'd rather have no review at all, instead of a false, ego-based one.

So, my whole point of my little rant is that self-publishing is easy, self-promotion seems to be the tough hurdle, but perseverance must be the key.  I keep hoping that the more I persevere, the more I will get the word out about my book and once more people are talking about it, perhaps more sales will be generated.  One can hope at least.  Right?

Anyways, on a side note, in celebration of Canada Day, since I am Canadian, my book will be free on Smashwords from today June 29th, 2013 - July 1st, 2013.  I hope you'll stop by and grab a copy. :)  Here's the link.

And to all you other self-published authors, keep pushing on, I have faith we'll all get there some day. :)

Monday 17 June 2013

The exciting, fantastic, terrifying road of self-publishing

Having finally taken the plunge into self-publishing, I'm slowly beginning to realize the challenges that come along with self-promotion.  For that reason, I hope to help other indie authors get themselves out there and possibly find new readers. 

With that being said, I'd like to introduce you to Ella Medler, author of Blood is Heavier, a really exciting and captivating read.

Blood Is Heavier

Did you seek agent representation before self publishing?  Or do you have an agent now?
Back in the days when I believed in doing everything by the book I did look for agents. I began querying one agent a week and kept going for twelve weeks. Not all even bothered to answer, but of those who did only one saw the potential in my book being contract-worthy. Unfortunately, they didn’t ‘do’ my genre. I lost patience and began querying publishers directly. It took a year, but in the end I had three contracts to choose from.
I've heard of a lot of writers who began querying publishers when querying agents wasn't going so well, most of them seem to have been successful.

What made you decide to self publish?
I’m an impatient person who needs to see the results of my hard work pretty much right away. Traditional publishing tends to work at a very slow pace. To give you an idea, I was offered a contract for my second book end of 2011, and I wouldn’t have seen a pay check from it until sometime in 2014. The contract option was kept open for me throughout 2012, but I never exercised that option. Instead, I re-wrote the book so it developed into a trilogy, published book one, and I’m about to publish book two.
Wow that is a long wait!  Self-publishing seems to have so many positives. 

It seems like a bit of a daunting task, did you have any difficulties? Or was it easier than one would think?
It is a really straight-forward process, much easier than I expected. If you can read a booklet of instructions, you can self-publish. By far the most problems were caused by IRS requests for foreign authors. Jumping through hoops doesn’t even come near! For an American, it should be easy as making a cup of tea.
I agree the IRS forms were somewhat scary to me, I felt so lost I haven't even bothered with them yet.  I'm sure minus these pesky forms the self-publishing process must feel a lot less stressful.

Have you done anything to promote your book?
Nope. I only had a facebook account at the time my first book was scheduled for publishing. I set up a twitter account and I think I had about 20 followers by the time the book became available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. I bought a domain name and a software package and learned how to make a website from scratch. It went live about a month after the book’s release. Later on, I expanded into wordpress, LinkedIn, and a few others, but promo-wise, I still do nothing. Occasionally I post excerpts from my books on my blog. That’s it. Does that count? Some of my fans offered to do interviews, but I could probably count them on the fingers of one hand. Thank you for having me around on your blog, by the way. I appreciate it.
Always happy to help. :)

Would you take on an agent if they offered representation now, or is it something that even interests you?
I am not interested in an agent by their old job description. However, there is space in the market for an agent of sorts, someone who has the author’s interests at heart, and if someone like that came around, and was able to prove their worth to me, show me exactly how they could improve my writing business, so to speak, I would like to talk to them. Just a word of warning: I can smell a fraud a mile away!
It's nice to see that so many authors are completely comfortable with taking charge of their own career and recognizing they have a right to choose a perfect agent if they want.  I like to think that authors are winning the control a bit.

What was your first manuscript?
The first is an un-named teen spy story and it’s gathering virtual dust in a folder on my laptop. If you’re referring to the first published one, it’s Martin Little, Resurrected. It’s a light-hearted fantasy satire which mocks our current way of life. One of my readers described it as complete escapism. I’m ten thousand words into its sequel, Martin Little Takes Epic Action.

How long did it take you to write it?
Oh, I played around with the first three chapters, writing and re-writing to makes sure agents – see the conditioning? – liked the beginning. All the way through the summer holidays, I’d take the children to the beach and keep writing whilst watching over them. Then the new school year started and I completed the rest of it in about a month. I had to! I had sent the first chapters to agents and the book wasn’t finished yet! What if they had asked for the whole manuscript? That was a hell of an incentive!

Did you have it professionally edited? 
Yes, I did.

Did you have any critique partners?  If so, how many?
I gave the manuscript to all and sundry – people I knew and people I’d met only once. Never kept track of them all. Not all the copies I gave away returned to me. I take that as a good sign. I took all the comments seriously and, indeed, I found them all helpful. I’m sure the book is so much better because of all these people’s input.

If you could change the way things have gone with your writing career, is there anything you would change?
Maybe... I remember feeling so high for having written a book, so happy I’d signed a contract... And then I submerged myself deep inside the writers’ community and realised one book is nothing. Promotion takes time and skill. Or a lot of money. Time to write books two, three and so on is limited as soon as you begin to promote book one. If I could turn back time, I’d write ten books, and hit the market with all at once.
That's an interesting thought... makes sense though.  I've seen this so much, the more you have out there, the more likely you are to get noticed.

This is my most touchy question and a lot of authors choose not to answer, but how many copies have you sold?
Enough to pay some bills with the money raised, but not enough to retire. And even when I do retire, I’ll still be writing! My definition of success doesn’t involve figures.
I think it's very important that the definition of success doesn't involve figures.  I personally, and I think most writers would agree, just want to move someone with my writing, I want people to fall in love with my characters and got lost in my world.

If you want to find more information on Ella Medler and her books, you can check out her blog or Facebook page.  The sequel to Blood is Heavier is coming out soon.  I'd be interested in reading it and seeing where the story goes and I hope you'll take a look too.  All the best to a great author on her exciting writing journey.

On a side note, IndieAuthorland is helping me do some promoting by featuring me in an interview on their blog tomorrow June 18, 2013.  Here's the link: I hope you'll check it out. :)

Monday 3 June 2013

Ineffable: 1. too great or intense to be expressed in words; unutterable 2. too sacred to be uttered 3. indescribable; indefinable

Having finally published my first book, beyond the excitement is the exhausting exercise of self-promotion.  Knowing that a lot of readers rely on reviews when making their purchases of choice, I have been bothering a multitude of reviewers.  Not having much luck, I was excited to be offered the chance at a review exchange.

I went in with a completely open mind, a bit of excitement and a purely positive outlook on the whole thing.  By the end of it however, my experience is something that I would consider completely ineffable.

Reading through the book of my 'review partner', I was a bit disappointed.  There most certainly were some good parts to it but there was also a lot I didn't like.  And the amount of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes was somewhat appalling.  As I read through, I became more and more concerned with the review I would have to give.  The last thing I wanted was to hurt another author.  So... I focused on the positive as much as I could, assigned the book a three star rating, and gave my explanation.  Knowing how sensitive authors are about their work, I mean come on now, it's like another child to us, I was a little worried about the other reviewer giving me a low rating simply to get me back.  Therefore, I waited until she had posted my review first.

I was astounded, disgusted, and disheartened to discover what came next.  This lady sent me an email telling me that it is customary to simply give each other five stars and focus only on the positive.  Well what's the point of that?  What's the point of even reading the book then?  Man was I bothered.  If that's the case, then all those reviews that readers look to are worthless.  And on top of all that, why would any author want to just be handed an undeserved five star rating?  I certainly don't.  It would just feel so empty.  I want to earn those five stars.

Anyways, once this woman realized what I'd done, you know told the truth and all, she said she would 'adjust her review to a more honest one'.  Oddly enough, a few minutes later I found myself with a three star review instead of the original five.  I just had to laugh.  Honestly, I really did laugh out loud.  Okay it was more of an irritated snicker of disbelief over the lack of maturity from what I expected would be a mature lady.

The worst part was, the write up in her review was nothing but praise and simply didn't match the three star rating she gave me.  Which led me to the obvious... she'd simply reciprocated out of hurt.  The ol' tit for tat.  The thing I had been fearful of from the very beginning had come to fruition.  I guess there had been no point in me waiting to post my review then.

I am curious to hear what your thoughts on this matter are though.  The whole thing just left me with such a sick feeling.  It's just so dishonest.  Would you gladly exchange five stars for a sub-par book to receive five stars yourself?

On a side note, at least being let in on this little secret of 'protocol' made things a lot clearer.  Having read the book, I was quite shocked to find that it had received mostly four or five stars.  But now, after being alerted to the falsity of it all, I see it's all empty anyways.  I am open to the idea that this was strictly my opinion and perhaps others truly did see this writing as exceptional, but with such a thing as false reviews, how will I ever know?

Thursday 16 May 2013

Liebster Award :)

Well since I've received four nominations for a Liebster award in the last little bit, I figured I'd finally follow through with this.  First off I'd like to link back to those who nominated me: MV from A New Year...A New blog, Dawn Marie, Sharon Bradshaw and Brandy from Brandy's Bustlings.  Thanks :)

The Liebster award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  What is a Liebster?  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

Here are the rules for receiving this award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

Here are the 5 questions from Brandy:
1. If you have published a book (most of these nominees have, some more than one), describe in three words how it felt that first time? If you have not published a book, how do you think it would feel?
Exciting, terrifying, fantastic.

2. Have you taken part in Blog Blitz before or is this your first time?
I've been a part of the Blog Blitz from the beginning.  I love the idea and am so grateful for DL Hammon's beautiful idea.

 3. Have you ever run a contest/blog hop from your blog?
I tried to run a blog hop for other authors to promote their book.  I had six sign up, but only one participated in the first week so I had to cancel.

 4. What is your favorite genre to read?
I love classics!  Always have.  Always will.

 5. Where is your favorite place to write?
Well I don't know that it's my favourite... but it's my only.  I always write while sitting on my couch.

Here are the 11 random facts about myself:
1. I can't stand tomatoes yet I love spaghetti sauce and tomato soup.
2. I'm so terrified of cockroaches that when I lived in Singapore I couldn't use our garbage shoot and took a small bag of garbage downstairs to the public garbage can every day.
3. My favourite animal is a hippo.
4. I'm not a very good swimmer and almost drowned once. Well... maybe more than once.
5. Despite #4 I LOVE the water!
6. When I was younger I wanted to be a marine mammal trainer.
7. I believe in LOA
8. I love flowers and get super excited every spring when they start to come out.
9. Everywhere I've lived I've always had a place to escape to when I needed to clear my mind, this place has always been somewhere near water.  Ironically however, I have no such place like that at the moment.
10. I lived in the Rocky Mountains in one of my favourite towns; Canmore, Alberta.
11. I have a bad habit of eating something sweet after every meal, except breakfast.

Here are my 11 questions for those I'm tagging:
1. What is your favourite day of the week?
2. What is your favourite TV show?
3. Out of all your family members, who are you closest to?
4. What is one thing you are grateful for today?
5. Who is the one person you've lost contact with over the years and wish you could get in touch with.
6. Do you believe in marriage?
7. Salty or Sweet?
8. What is one of the most beautiful/amazing things you've ever been a witness to.
9. What is one thing you've done to help make a stranger's day better? 
10. If you had one wish for the world, what would it be?
11. What made you start blogging?

Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments, I asked them because I'm truly interested in learning the answers. :)

And here are the 11 bloggers I'm tagging, I don't know if it's cheating but I'm choosing from my list of friends, all people I've met through the A-Z challenge:
1. Amanda Dollak: Parenting from Aaah! to Zzz
2. Amanda Trought- Mixed Media Artist
3.CJ: Ramblings of a Homeschooled Escapee 
4. Rebecka Vigus: Ramblings by Rebecka
5. Masked Mom
6. Rowena
7. Barbara in Caneyhead: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
8. Jen Forbes: We're living a full life
9. Michelle: Ardour of a Dreamer
10. Lorena: My life with phtographs
11. Dennis & Roberta