Tag Archives: Goodreads

Should writers also be readers?

30 Jun

 

Image courtesy of Marin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The last book I read was Gone Girl, which was just fantastic. Great style, great twists, really did it for me. Trouble was, I stole a few hours from my writing schedule to read it. I know I shouldn’t have, but it was so good, I just couldn’t put it down. And it made me want to reach for my next read straight away. I am already halfway through Killing Me Softly by Nicci French, another book I can’t put down.

I used to read all the time. I spent far more time reading than writing. But that was partly because I was commuting to work every day, and what better to do on the tube than read? Since I had my children, I’ve read a lot less. In fact, it took me a couple of years to finish reading The Thread by Victoria Hislop. Not because I didn’t love it, but because I find it hard to commit to a chunky book the way I used to, knowing that I don’t have hours at a time to devote to it.

I’m making a reading comeback though. Last year, I set myself a modest goal on reader’s website Goodreads. I decided that I would read 10 books by the end of 2013. As someone who likes to tick things off lists, I felt strangely pleased when I met that goal. This year, I’ve set a goal of 15 books and I’m already 8 wonderful, delicious reads down. The more I read, the more I want to read. And the more I want to write too, because reading good books is so inspiring. Reading bad books can be useful too. When something about the book doesn’t quite click, I like to try and work out what it is, so that I can avoid making similar mistakes in my own writing. Luckily I have excellent taste (or just plain luck), and all the books I’ve read so far this year have been corkers.

I’ve heard writers who say they are too busy to read, and if I’m honest, I was one of them for a while, but I think I’m past that now. As I work on making writing my career, I know that reading needs to be an important, yet enjoyable part of my work.  A good story haunts you. It forces you to think about it, long after you’ve put the book down. Without reading, I think it would be hard to grow as a writer.

How much do you read? Do you find that reading interferes with your writing schedule, or does it enhance it?

 

Self Publish Bible’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

2 Jan

Happy New Year!

Self Publish Bible is one year old today (ahh!)

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It’s a good job I’m not the superstitious type because the rain is lashing against the windows and the river is rising (again.) We spent much of Christmas in darkness, so I’m just hoping the power will hold out while I write this. I have always loved making New Year’s Resolutions. Not sure why really, except I really, really love to plan. After a good long think, I’ve boiled it down to the following, (besides keeping dry of course. That goes without saying.)

Read more

My Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2013 was a paltry 10 books. I met my target, but I’m sure I could read more. (And no, I’m not counting all those bedtime stories about farmyard animals that my daughter makes me read every night.) Before I had my children, I probably read a book a week, but as a full-time mum, I just don’t have much free time, especially as I need time to write. This year, I’ve set a goal of 15 books, with the intention that it will keep going up. I am including audiobooks in my total, as I hope this help me to access books I otherwise wouldn’t get to.

Write faster

In 2014, I hope to get quicker and more efficient at writing. I want to make a better use of my time by banning the internet, and perhaps even using a timer to keep me tied to my desk while I write. I am also hoping to find more time to write once my son starts school in September, and my daughter goes part-time at nursery. The real trick will be not to use too much of that time up on household tasks. It’s amazing how much time you can fritter away on a few chores. The good news is that I do seem to be getting quicker. I took years to write FRY. My second book, May Queen Killers is due to come out in May and should take 14 months total.I just hope that my speed will continue to improve with experience.

Write better

I intend to read at least one on book on writing/editing skills this year. If possible, I’d love to attend a writing workshop. It’s great fun to get together with other writers and you always pick up something new.

Don’t waste too much time on social media

This is not to say that I’m giving it up altogether, but now that I’ve been at it a little while, I’m starting to see what works for me. I like to blog, but not too often. Really only when I’ve got something to say, or an occasional book review or author interview. I update my Facebook author page whenever I blog, but probably not more than that. The same goes for LinkedIn and Google plus. My favourite place is definitely Twitter. In addition to meeting other authors, I have found readers through Twitter and more importantly, reviewers. At first, I was a bit retweet happy, but these days, I am careful not to bombard my followers with too many messages and I just pop on for a few minutes here and there. Of course, I am a bit more active when I’m running a promotion.

Have you made any resolutions for 2014?

I’d love to hear what they are! Until next time, stay dry, folks!

Book Review: Blue Coyote Motel by Dianne Harman

23 Jul

Apologies for my absence from the blogosphere for the past few weeks, but something amazing has happened. The sun has been shining! No, I couldn’t believe it either, but my face broke out in freckles so rapidly I could almost hear them ping!

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Anyway, this week I wanted to review Diane Harmon’s Blue Coyote Motel, an unusual debut novel which I found impossible to put down.

What is it about?

A disparate group of people visit the Blue Coyote Motel, situated in the Nevada desert, miles away from civilisation. Each of the visitors enter the motel, consumed by their own troubles, but leave feeling care-free and resolved to change their lives for the better. Is this dramatic change a result of quiet contemplation, or is there something else in the air? The answer lies with the beautiful Maria, the motel owner, and her genius scientist husband Jeffrey.

Blue Coyote Motel is different to any other book I’ve read, and I’m not even entirely sure how I’d categorise it, although it is listed as a psychological thriller. The book contains some unique elements. It has a very unlikely hero in the form of Sean a troubled ex-priest, and some startling narrative descriptions. I don’t think I will ever get the scene with the rats out of my head. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys an exciting fast-paced read, interwoven with intrigue and mystery.

Blue Coyote Motel was a quarter finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and a Goodreads Psychological Thriller of the month. Dianne’s has recently published her second book, Tea Party Teddy  – a California political tell-all, set in a world which, as the wife of a former Senator, she knows all about.

 

 

Guest post: Thoughts on Modern Publishing – by Awake In the Mad World Author, Damon Ferrell Marbut

30 Jan

 

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The truth I’ve come to understand about self-publishing goes beyond the excitement of what is possible for an author beginning to develop in the current market. The self-publishing industry is still, but was a tremendous change for the literary world at first. It’s levelling out a bit, and earning respect in some regards, but I detested the notion of self-publishing for a considerable amount of time. I’ll get to why soon. But because it’s a real and thriving business enterprise now, for publishers and authors alike, who more often assume both roles, to make sense of strategy (which I don’t like discussing so much in that I only ever wanted to simply write) one should consider what they’re up against when entering this field and this market.

First off, I disagree with those who say it can all be done for free. Or scratch that. It largely can be done for free, but I don’t believe it’s done well. Some writers are great on the keys, naturally or academically trained to write stories that change how people view genres or read about certain subject matter. But then, they may not be so gifted at marketing and self-promotion. Or it can be the other way around. They can be terrific at marketing, establishing Self as a brand, but their writing can be unpolished and substandard. Many people argue, unfairly I think, that self-published authors can’t get book deals because they aren’t good enough. What motivates a person to publish a book on their own should be based on how they understand the relevance and importance of the work they have initially produced. Writing a book doesn’t mean as much these days. Yes, it’s an accomplishment that speaks to the investment of mental and emotional and financial resources, but a writer must understand two things before positioning him/herself to publish in any capacity: why he or she is writing to begin with, and what they wish to do or become once the book is “out there.” And then own it all.

So yes, it does require money. Not necessarily exorbitant amounts, but some money. I’ve seen plenty of people spend unfortunately large amounts of money on terrible, typical book covers, and some spend little to no money on fine cover images that leap from the shelves, online or physical. Or they have the ability to do it themselves, achieving a great or not so great end. And time, when you self-publish a book, redefines itself if you are serious about the legacy and impact of your book. So many books are being published daily that understanding where it belongs, and being comfortable with being wrong as you go along and discover audiences you didn’t anticipate loving your work actually responding to it more, or that the audience you pursued doesn’t care for it at all. Much of being a self-published author is surprise. There is luck in there, too.

Then there’s sacrifice. I’ve written about this recently in an article I was asked to produce on the writing process. The people in your life need to be prepared ahead of time to see less of you, as you write and as you market. You will, if you stick with it, get busier as you promote and as you simultaneously begin a new book. I’m at the point now that I almost need an assistant. And my partner is patient, my friends understand, but there exists that pull from them that occurs (in my head at least) when you know all that laughter and storytelling and coffee shop visits and dinners out have to be minimized so you can work. And it is real work.

I read a couple of books on self-publishing when I was starting with it last year at this time. I was encouraged by former professors from graduate school, and an editor who published my short fiction in New York, to go ahead and produce my own unique book and develop it in the market and then, after it was taking on a reputable life of its own, approach an agent and then a publisher to take on the book so I could relax from the effort enough to write more. I’m at that point now in talking to agents. A year ago I said I wouldn’t want to let go of the control once I committed to it, but now I’m happy to let it become its own creation in the market. I worked a great deal on telling my stories well, or to the best of my abilities, and even scratched a novel or two to get to the voice I want as my own in modern publishing.

I think most would agree that authors must determine what social media works best for them. In the beginning, I joined every group and community I found, just to learn the language of the new industry. A lot of it is disappointing and sometimes infuriating. For example, I wrote a fairly incendiary post on Goodreads after I saw an “author” asking people to give her plot lines for her book. Back story for it, actually, because she was too lazy or incapable of giving it time to come to her. And people lined up to throw in their two cents. I was horrified. Plainly spoken, many authors in the online communities aren’t realistic about their work, and can be selfish, aggressive and shameless in how they pursue the exposure of their books. Some organizations let you down, some are fantastic, some try incredibly hard but cannot handle the workloads the multitudes overwhelm them with. But it must be understood that without the good and bad I’ve experienced, the near-misses and the successes, without the fantastic enthusiasm of those who do love to write, who do wish to learn how to cultivate an online presence and, maybe one day, a career in writing if not something that leads to teaching it, without those I admire for their constant fight through the noise and nonsense that complicates the self-publishing world and earns it a bad name, I would not be as proud of myself as I am today, for working as hard as I’ve worked to be able to discuss the industry with confidence. It is business, but it is improving by the minute, and so there is no shame in producing one’s own book and elevating it to its highest potential through the online communities that are now aware of what they’ve created and work so diligently to construct an industry image worth preserving and which they can proudly claim to join.

To finish, let me go back to why I first despised the idea of self-publishing. I didn’t know anything about it. It’s that simple. I was still in love with the old, traditional publishing model of finding people to support your work. But it isn’t completely like that anymore. In self-publishing, we must make our mark first, we must earn our ways into that delicate, hopeful space before the eyes of agents, editors and publishers. They aren’t absolutely necessary anymore. But the romance of that traditional era can still be had by authors who want it, if they know why they are writing, are kind and patient, and simply continue to do the work.

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Damon Ferrell Marbut was born in Mobile, Alabama. A Southern novelist and poet, Marbut’s “Awake in the Mad World” is a contemporary fiction novel and is currently an entrant for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana. His collection of poems, The Difference Between Young Gods, is under review with several publishing houses, as are two short fiction titles. His follow-up novel to Awake in the Mad World, which is based in New Orleans, is in progress.

You can contact Damon through his blog, like his Facebook Author Page and message him at http://www.facebook.com/DamonFMarbut, or follow him on Twitter @dfmnola.

What are your views on traditional publishing? Would you seek a traditional publishing contract once you’ve self-published your book?

Next week, I’ll be gearing up for publication!

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