My Bibliography

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Self Publicity - Hard Work and No Room for Shyness

The hardest thing I find about being a writer is the business side of it.  And while it’s an exciting revolutionary time for us authors, change happening all over the place, it does involve a great deal more work than just writing stories these days.

The only kind of research I enjoy is when it’s for one of my books, and while I’ve long since known that when it comes to being your own publicist and that I need to take advantage of all subject matter on that available, I have largely ignored it, but it’s there niggling at me all the time; telling me that I can’t expect people to find my work in an ocean of Indy authors without knowing what I’m doing.

For me though, it’s like doing my taxes every year, the business side of anything completely tedious; working myself up about it always.  I don’t want to have to sit and read tutorials, search for all the places that I’m supposed to list and sell myself, all that boring stuff.  But it’s completely necessary. 

If I had a resolution this year, or as I prefer to call them, goals, then it’s that, for a sense of panic has set in making me think that I might get left behind if I don’t, for damn sure no one else is going to do it for me.  But when I do sit down and do my taxes (usually on the deadline) I think, ‘well that was quite easy, what was all the fuss about?’  So far it’s been the same with ingratiating myself all over the place – something I’ve been working on trying to overcome my erstwhile shyness about thinking I’m bugging people as someone who’d rather largely stay in the background.  But that ain’t gonna work.  No, for the last few weeks I’ve at least been paying attention to what other people do, listening to what they have to say, or at least sitting there and actually reading it and not skimming over it; in one eye and out the other, or as I used to say, 'one at the shop and the other coming back with the change' (or was that how I described cross-eyed people?).  I notice some outrageous claims people make too, sensationalising.  The proverbial padding of the resume perhaps, but I guess it works.  I might have to get on board with that too.

No, I’m on it now, getting the hang of it, but what I said initially about that whole self-promotion process - about where does one find the time to actually write when there’s so many social media aspects to maintain, so many places to have to list yourself, build yourself a package and constantly maintaining it - is proving to be true; I can’t believe how much time I’ve spent on self promotion, searching for everywhere and anywhere to make myself seen, contributing to discussions on various platforms, listing and linking all of my connections all over the place, building an author’s website, and yes, with yet another blog in there, author's Facebook page, Twitter, nothing new has been written at all – save for little things that I created and joined onto community forums to showcase my skill with a subtly added link to my Amazon author's page, but which are always fun to do. (See what I did there?)

So I’m hoping when its largely done, that it will pay off, and certainly, already I’m being found, especially in the UK, I’ve noticed, with sales of my books increasing there which I enjoy as a British writer.  But I’m also hoping that it’ll be less time-consuming when I feel I’ve flooded the internet with who I am and what I offer, for I think I realise it will never end.  Not really.

Organisation is the key though; I’ve created a subfolder for my bookmarks of all sites I’ve joined and will dedicate myself at least once a week to making sure that it all gets updated.  The interesting thing for me though is how easily I get sidetracked still; joining all kinds of sites and not really getting to the important ones that I started out looking for.  But I’m getting there. 

So, if anyone knows of any free places that I should be listing my titles, please feel free to leave a link.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Message from the Universe?

People say that things happen for a reason.  Sometimes we don’t know exactly what and sometimes they take a while to become obvious - or maybe sometimes its just coincidence. 

In one of my writing classes a while back I found myself sitting next to an old roommate of mine that I hadn’t seen since I first moved to Vancouver twenty years ago, one of a set of twins (the other sister who’d changed her name from Shannon to Shaman, insisting she was a witch back then and now a single mom).  Back in those days she (the good twin) was fun and light-hearted, a bit new age, delightfully quirky, but in her relative maturity you could just tell that she was still in search of herself; not wanting to share anything with the class, having read every self-help book under the sun and saying things like, “I choose not to,” the only thing shared and emphasised was of her European heritage (as did the instructor incidentally, who didn’t have a clue about anything outside of the formulaic aspects of writing, but that’s another story) but of course her heritage was like five generations removed and I happen to know that she came from a small backwater back east, but never had she told me that she was Swiss before in all the time that I lived with her... oh yeah, and they were romany gypsies, apparently... very exotic.

At the end of that class I offered her a ride to her car, during which there was a very awkward monosyllabic response to everything I asked (I’ve had more out of complete strangers in the line up at Safeway actually, and I don’t talk to nobody).  Turns out she had parked near the skytrain station, but down a dark, desolate maze of streets that despite being in the centre of the city I didn’t even know existed, the kind of place you see in movies where there are old abandoned warehouses and suspicious freshly dug holes, the kind of bleak place encompassed by unpromising fences where even the water beyond, normally a delight, looks ominous, and with no way out ‘cept the way ya came in.  And, surprisingly, a place where she’d forfeited her safety to save a couple of bucks extra for parking costs in town to take her life in her hands by walking half a mile through to go get the skytrain to college (one stop away).

But serendipitous, I thought; here's someone that wants to be a writer, something we never knew about the other way back when, and that I could perhaps now enjoy the company of during my writing journey instead of just having online connections; enthusiastically telling her of the various writing sites I belong to, the cafĂ©’s that accommodate strange folks like us writers that might be nice to go to.  But no, she never did come to another class, despite telling me that she would see me next time, never did call.

I’ve spent all this time wondering why we should have encountered each other after two decades only to go our separate ways yet again.  Now I think I know; like me back then, she was shy and awkward, but probably never changed.  It made me realise though that I have; becoming completely open; private as I was most of my life; quiet, shy, a thinker, unable to emote, something it took an elderly dog to elicit from me.  No, I’ve moved on, found a place for my strange introspective by putting it into the characters in my books, but I can only think that she regressed, still searching and perhaps realising that writing wasn’t her saviour after all, yet another waste of money... going through life with declarations of choosing not to? 

Of course it could just be that when I got a call the other day from someone I call my Chinese Mom, to say that she’d been towed (a deliciously eccentric and complete control freak that insists she knows everything, even to general contractors and the like) and could I come and get her?  And when I did, she had no idea, except a general indication, as to where the impound lot was, yet trying to direct me into a land of new expensive condos that a small country would swap their asses for.  And so I was driving blind in rush hour in the centre of the city, but the name of the street was Industrial Road, no way, thought I, would people spend millions on condos in this city and be next door to an impound lot let alone allow their street to be called something like that.

“No,” I said, for once insisting, “I think I know where it will be.”

And sure enough....

Incidentally, the street looked just as desolate in the daylight.  But funny how things turn out: coincidence or not, I know there’s a message from the universe in there somewhere.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Glutton for Punishment? Nah... it's a pleasure to write a sequel now that I've kicked my amateur self to the curb!

Okay, since finishing Prickly Scots Pt II, sitting around wondering what to do next; thinking 'what do I want to write?' and feeling a tad lost, actually, has resulted in me realising that I should be riding the momentum of having been so intensely involved in the Prickly Scots world recently.  And so I have come up with a new concept for a brand new book; the first chapter now already written to fuel where it might soar to ( I write as I go, no plans, it just comes and ends up writing itself; one word leading to the next).

This book however, will be easier to write; not having to edit my amateur self from years ago like I had to with Pts I and II, and not having to feel the kind of pressure I felt to have to get those done.  No, I'm very much looking forward to this one; excited in a way that I haven't been with Pricklys for the longest time because its all going to be brand new stuff; the biggest thing not having to correct all of my work like I had to do with the other two - although - I rather think that without having gone through all of that, any skill I might currently have, might not be quite as evolved.

Also, the sequel won't be as lengthy.  No, I look at Pts I & II (over 403,000 words) as the pilot if you like, any sequels (as were always planned right from the start) will be more conducive to a normal sized novel, maybe around 100,000 - 150,000 words or so, still long, for it wouldn't be Pricklys without the richness.

Lots of new elements in this from the get go; you might be surprised!  Write on!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Two halves = one whole

Prickly Scots is now available as one book, Pts I & II both under this new cover. Almost 700 pages and each needs one of those mountain pass road signs on them: twists and turns right to the summit.  Also, you may borrow this (and all my other titles for free if you are a Kindle Select Member).  It is also now of Facebook: Prickly Scots - come and like it, for special promos and updates on the story. 
Product Description
Talking flowers, an invisible castle, new breeds of aliens and an array of finely nuanced characters living in a normal world in three time periods, each with their own agenda as they get caught up in the time travelling, inter-dimensional adventure of one family's ancient curse.

Set within the realistic context of everyday life in Scotland, Prickly Scots is a rich descriptive epic written in two parts. First and foremost, this story is a comedy, but sprinkled with fantastical and psychological elements, it delivers, with rich detail and clever nuance, the personal journeys of a motley crew of main characters.

Cursed, herself, with a beautiful mind and looks like the south end of a northbound horse, Sadie Wallace has lived a long, lonely and bitter life since, as a teenager in 1934, she'd whacked her parents with an oar on Loch Ness. But over seven decades later, with the arrival of an unexplained phenomenon that was shortly followed by an abandoned baby and a peculiar young family coming to live on her family's estate turned orphanage, it's not just her memories of her parent's disappearance that changes beyond all recognition as Archiebald MacGregor grows up. And just what is the nature of the connection that exists between her and her working class housekeeper Meg Hume - a woman that the children love but whom Sadie only loves to demean at every turn?

The ones actually cursed back in the 16th century by an iniquitous being, and with very real consequence, Angus and Morag MacGregor, together with an alien they call C-Throo, are doomed to watch Archie die over and over again as he fails to complete a series of tasks that must be completed to put an end to their own immortal existence once and for all. While integrating into whatever culture the Blue Phenomenon has chosen for them, they must closely guard the secret of their true existence and the ancestral, now souped up with alien technology, castle run by a sentient and scathing plant life, this time hidden on a small isle.

Shona Clancy, a bumbling but ambitious news reporter out to prove a point to a public who once ridiculed her, is cursed with having to leave her glamorous lifestyle behind to come home to look after her ailing and acerbic mother who puts her down and embarrasses her at every turn. But in more ways than one, this might just turn out to be a blessing in disguise as an old flame, and her erstwhile obsession with the Blue Phenomenon becomes reignited.

Dolores 'Dizzy D' Dingle, cursed by everything under the sun, is a disaster area; everybody and everything she comes into contact with kind of cursed themselves for simply having encountered this walking typhoon. A stoner from Canada, Dolores saunters aimlessly and obliviously through life, trying, unsuccessfully, to reclaim her Englishness. But like her great aunt Sadie, the events that take place in 1934, long before Dolores was even born, might just change everything about her reality too.

The entire village of Murkentilloch is sorely cursed for having a terrible hairdresser - Jennyfer 'Crocodile Teeth' LeClair. Did the ex-prostitute really do away with her eccentric, over talkative husband Herr Katz, or did he hitch up his lederhosen and do a runner on the night of the Blue Phenomenon when he finally sobered up and realised just what a reptile his second wife was?

Book II sees the cast lost in time and others popping up in different centuries all over the place as parallels intermingle, affecting everything you thought you knew. Everything.

Largely set in Inverness in 1587, this part of the story sees a biblical artefact being sought out, the object of Archie’s task, but with being hunted down and accused of being a warlock, it isn’t an easy one. But whom does he meet along the way? You might be surprised. And who gets to live, and where, when, even? And who dies or should never exist at all?