August Miscellany

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and for that I apologise! I’d hoped to make better progress on Julianna’s story and be close to announcing a release date, but regrettably I’m not. The summer has just been too busy!

Part of that has been the garden. =) This is both a good and bad thing. I’m really looking forward to harvesting more, (already have some zucchini and peas), and weeding is a battle that is never won, just regularly fought. It’s been quite hot here off and on and I lack air conditioning, so I sometimes am writing in my skivvies. 😉 I’m excited about the eclipse coming up and finishing some obligations, and expect to be able to devote a lot more time to writing at the beginning of September. The Sisters are about to make another appearance, and what they divulge will put things in a whole new light. I hope you’ll stick around for that!

Warm regards,

Holly

Julianna!

I’ve been getting a fair amount of email about The Void Chronicles. To be honest, I don’t want to end the series but am excited for the last book; you get to find out how Julianna got to Galea and learn a bit more about the lore.

Well, I am bowing to pressure – my own, (I am REALLY excited about the story!), and my readers, and am working on “The Void Wept”, which is book four.

Let me know in the comments what you enjoyed about the series so far, or what you would like to know more about! =)

Holly

 

Writing Dialogue

I  met someone new at a friend’s house and when she found out I was an author, we chatted a great deal about writing.

It seems a lot of people have a book in them or something they need to get out and onto paper and I want to encourage that. We all have a unique experience to share and if nothing else, I think a lot of our loved ones would like to know more about us, how we see things.

I’m digressing a bit; she made the comment that although she has most of a story draft, she finds dialogue difficult to write. I thought that was funny, because I think it’s some of the easiest bits to get down. 😉

I think one of the first things to remember is that people seldom speak off the cuff in grammatically perfect sentences. I do my best to keep non-dialogue as grammatically correct as a non-English professor can, but think more ‘authentic’ sounding dialogue shouldn’t have that precision. People use ‘um’ or ‘you know’ or any number of imperfect things in their speech and depending on whether they are rushed, thoughtful, surprised or whatever, the cadence and construction of their sentences will be different.

So think of an imaginary scene where your heroine is surprised. “Oh! Well, I mean…” sounds like the beginning of a sentence that shows that emotion.

What if she was annoyed? “Hmm. I’m not sure…” implies thoughtfulness, frustration.

So if you’re writing a particularly difficult scene, try to think of what the first thing out of your mouth would be, and then tailor it the character.

People speaking extemporaneously about a subject they are passionate about will have emotional and cohesive thoughts because they’ve mulled over the subject a bit, so I tend to notice their speeches are less fragmented. Someone lying or caught out and trying to conjure up a story might be evasive or try to deflect attention, so how can you express that in words and a few short descriptive clauses? After a while it becomes fun, especially if you know there is a meta there – that not only is the character surprised but she’s trying to not show it, or perhaps she is charmed by the gesture that surprised her.

Another key thing is developing an idea of how your main characters speak. Everyone – even people in the same family – have speech patterns, preferred words and unique ways they express themselves. If you have any Brit friends you might have heard colourful phrases like “Bob’s your uncle” or “Taking the piss”, so do your characters have a background you can draw from? I don’t mean just a bunch of apostrophes and butchered words that are supposed to pass for some sort of accent and end up being a distraction if there’s a wall of dialogue; based on their background, hobbies, profession and where they grew up, can you pull in little words or turns of phrase that make that character feel a bit different? Pick a few  that you think fit your H/h and sprinkle them in. You can even do this with an ordinary word, like ‘Terrific!’ or ‘Right!’; it doesn’t need to be much deeper than that, although it is nice.

Also, think about the way men and women use words, how their speech is tailored. Women often intersperse supportive or emotion-laden words and phrases, whereas men tend in similar circumstances to see something as a problem solving opportunity, or feel the desire to express strength and confidence. I’ve listened to many girlfriends moan that their boyfriends aren’t great listeners and offer advice to solve problems, when sometimes they just want support or understanding. I think that sums up the differences simply. =)

Probably the last thing I would suggest is to write the dialogue and go back and reread it, but only after you’ve moved well past that scene. See how the lead up, exchange, and subsequent story feel with the dialogue you’ve written. Sometimes in context of the larger scene or narrative it feels appropriate, other times you realise that it’s not as emphatic, (or it’s too strong!), for what you had in mind.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post a comment. =) I’m not always quick in responding, but I do reply eventually. Happy writing! =)

All the best,

Holly

 

 

Yoga and Habits

So I started up with yoga again. I wish it wasn’t quite so expensive, especially since I found a studio I really like with an amazing instructor on Wednesdays, but they are a little pricier than other places. =(

Exercise is difficult for me for a number of reasons. My parents really encouraged academic excellence, so aside from riding a bike with my brother and throwing a baseball around with him too, I didn’t develop any athletic-inclined habits.

I also have several injuries, including being born with flat feet. I have arches but they’re not that great, so running or long walks aren’t very comfortable and can hurt. Add on a broken leg and shoulder and some neck sprains, and it seems I get sore really easily. I am intrigued by weightlifting, but worry about doing it wrong and triggering an old injury.

I also get bored; I need something to engage my mind too, so when I do exercise I try to read, if possible. Luckily yoga engages me on that level, so I am really grateful for that.

But probably the biggest impediment I struggle with is myself. I was brought up with a mentality of ‘number one is expected’, and I am very critical if I don’t do well. So I can’t run very well because of the aforementioned issues? Let the self-recrimination and lectures begin! Other people have it worse, after all! Can’t do an arm bind because bad shoulder doesn’t really work that well? I should be able to loosen it up and at least do better than where I am at! I’m so weak!

I know I shouldn’t think this way about exercise – because part of it is actually NOT doing well, because you need to challenge your body – but it is a difficult adjustment for me. I’m the type of person who can have a perfectly lovely conversation with someone, but ten minutes later I am second-guessing a phrase I used, or whether I lingered too long. I always want to improve, and think everything about me CAN be improved, that I am a very fallible person.

So when I go into yoga classes, see twenty-somethings, (unfortunately no longer me), with great bodies who move more easily then me, I think ‘I will never get there’ and therefore I have failed before beginning, why bother? Luckily in yoga most teachers are very supportive and remind you that every day with your body is different, and it’s important to be there and do something for yourself. This helps me break through my personality flaw of analyzing to a fault and sabotaging something that is potentially good for me.

If I can get to class, it is definitely a reset. I focus on slowing down, watching my breath, and the time goes by pretty quickly. I also end up feeling a little sore but also more flexible and I move more easily and feel a little confident. So why is it still so difficult to break through those bad habits? It’s something I continue to struggle with.

 

 

Exciting News

I was recently contacted by a small Australian publisher, and I have just entered into an agreement with them!

They will have the right to publish Lily and Stuart’s story on iBookstore, in every country that iBookstore has a presence.

This is great for me, because I always had mixed feelings about what I would do if I was contacted by a publisher. The fact that this publisher focuses on iBookstore and I retain all other rights makes me feel a lot more comfortable than I would otherwise. I was also put at ease by the answers to my (rather numerous) questions.

It’s not a vanity imprint (where the author pays a fee), and the publisher has set a tentative date of the end of March to have the books re-released with a new cover.

I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to release. I hope this will be a good experience for my readers (and also for me!).

Warm regards,

Holly

 

Website

So I really dislike my website design.

Although WordPress has a lot of ‘free’ templates, it’s tedious to troll through them. Many don’t offer a lot of customisation unless you purchase them, and I would really like to know that I can customise it the way I want to before I needlessly spend money on a theme only to have to switch to another.

I’ve been trying to find a web designers, with little luck. I don’t know HTML; when I I had a Moveable Type site ages ago I was able to figure out how to change things after a spell, but then they had several updates I didn’t like and I moved to WordPress after having it recommended by other people and seeing it used by blogs I like.

I don’t really want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out pretty web design; I’d prefer to write. So if you come around and see a bunch of change on the site it’s probably me just dinking around trying to make it prettier. =)

Sine Qua Non Cycle

Right now I am writing book two of the Sine Qua Non Cycle and doing a little revision of book one, “And Laugh at Digital Butterflies”. (Taking out the archaic to-day, fixing some formatting).

I really enjoy the sexual awakening aspects of this tale and others – the excitement of trying something new with an adventurous partner, the anticipation, the curiosity, even the apprehension. I really enjoy the powerful CEO (Stuart and Dyson), or warrior, (Tristan), as the hero, I love that archetype of the powerful man.

It’s also fun building new worlds; as much as I love the Pacific Northwest and enjoyed writing Lily and Stuart’s story in my contemporary setting, moving forward, creating a futuristic world where virtual reality and space stations exist was amazing. Trying to make a ‘history’ when there’s no history there, (like the crash of the Splendor, the Indentured Servitude Act, etc), is a challenge. Thirty years ago, who could have imagined cell phones and the net as they are today? Trying to come up with something that is futuristic but not too off the hook lends the story a more authentic feel I believe, and I’ve tried to do that with this series.

If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll give it a try!

Warm wishes,

Holly

 

Christmastime

This is usually a difficult time of year for me. My birthday is Christmas Eve and it always makes me think of my mom and the fact she used to send me cards, and we had talked about her visiting for Christmas once she got better (she used to come around Thanksgiving).

This year it’s also difficult because I have a damn sinus infection that has been plaguing me for about ten days and the doctor was reluctant to give me any antibiotics, saying they are so overused, (yep, I know, but not by me), they can cause digestive issues by killing good bacteria, and not every sinus infection is caused by bacteria. So I am on another day of rinsing my sinuses, using sprays and Sudafed hoping my body can shake it off – if I am not showing progress, he will probably call something in, he said.

But it has made getting excited for Christmas – and ready for it – difficult. (Then there’s also the neighbourhood association that has decided now is the best time of year to get on people about their yard. Sigh). That being said I did make cookies last night, much to the boyfriend’s delight, and I only have a few more presents to wrap – so I’m not a total slouch.

To make it even more interesting… the boyfriend was born on Christmas DAY, so it is a bit crazy. =) We’ve been together a while, and have had to merge our traditions and find the right balance. On Christmas Eve I make Chinese food, (what his family used to do), and on Christmas Day I make a rib roast, which is a nod to the roast beef and scallop potatoes for Christmas Eve my mom would splurge on. We also have a friendly argument of who was REALLY born on God’s birthday – it’s a silly, meaningless fake argument we have every year. Each time we try to think of a new point to prove our side – it’s actually pretty funny!

Even though the double birthdays on a holiday are chaotic, he’s the only one who understands what it’s like to never have a birthday party, what getting shafted on birthday gifts at Christmas means, how you can never get that ‘free birthday meal’ from your favourite restaurant and all the other weird things associated with a Christmas birthday. And you know what else it means? We both try very hard every year to give each other a special day – thoughtful gifts or a little surprise. I do ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’  for him by getting an inexpensive present (usually $5 or less per day), putting them in festive bags and for the twelve days prior to his birthday, he gets to open one every night. They’re sometimes silly, like a plastic dinosaur – he loves dinosaurs – or a mini grow your own Venus flytrap kit. He opened the bag with the dinosaur in it the other day and when he saw what was inside his face lit up – it made the extra planning worth it, and the velociraptor has joined Gwar, (our first plastic dinosaur), and his family on the kitchen table next to the boyfriend’s place setting.

Whatever traditions you have – I would love to read about them – I hope you have a lovely Christmas and if you don’t have any traditions, it’s never to late to start one! Donate food to a pet shelter or vow to hand write your Christmas cards, (when I send them off that’s what I do), or bake a spice cake for Christmas Day dessert. It’s lovely to have something to come back to year after year, to remember fondly, to make the holidays seem more intimate and well, yours.

I wish you all the best for the remainder of this year, and hope 2017 is a banner year for you and yours.

Love,

Holly

Reviews and Reviewers; Pricing

I’ve been really fortunate to have many of my books rated highly by readers, and although I’ve made friends with some of my readers, I have never paid, coerced, traded favours, etc to get positive reviews.

I know that negative reviews are inevitable – no matter how good a book, there will be someone who doesn’t like it. The novel may not be their cup of tea, be written in a style they don’t like, have content that upsets them or any number of other things.

I appreciate it when someone takes time out to rate and review my books, even if they have an issue with them. I think, (and if you look at Amazon you can see for yourself), even when the rating isn’t perfect I have often thanked reviewers or explained why I did something, and in a few cases, I’ve altered my books to make things a little clearer.

So it’s frustrating when I get a review that is one star and slags my book and mention incorrect things. (In the case I’m thinking of, my book is written in present tense but they say it’s written in past tense.)

I don’t know why it bothers me so much – maybe it was the parting shot that, ‘there’s a reason it’s free’ that stung and I thought was unnecessary, especially since the reviewer got their fact wrong. With over seventy ratings on Amazon, I have a 4.2 average rating, which I think is great! I know it is inevitable that some readers won’t like it, and I think constructive criticism benefits me as a writer. When one reviewer thought I let Stuart off a little lightly in book five, I added some extra bits to flesh things out and hopefully give more context. It is easy to be myopic, especially when you have spent a lot of time around a set of characters, because after a while you know them intimately and understand so clearly who they are, you forget the reader doesn’t have that same experience.

There is a lot of talk among authors whether you should respond to people reviewing your book. I think if a person has a point they have made or a concern, it is perfectly reasonable to open a dialogue. I like people, am generally a friendly person in real life, and am humbled readers are interested in my books and have taken time to think about them and consider what I’ve presented; I want to honour that time. I was also brought up to show appreciation when someone does you a kindness – to display gratitude, humility and return compliments, so I have an urge to respond when people post a generous review. Some authors are horrified their fellow writers respond and think it’s poor form because it invites difficulties, but others see things similarly to the way I do.

It’s difficult to tread that line. For example, some readers have grumbled about pricing for example, for my five book series that it cost $14, (it’s less than that now). There is a huge disparity in pricing of books, particularly erotica. I’ve seen 25 page ‘books’ that sell for the same price as my 250+ page Lily books, and I recently came across a 170 page Indie erotica book for $7, whilst my 1300+ page compendium of Lily and Stuart is $8.99, discounted a dollar. Some authors argue that selling around the $2.99 price point further reinforces the notion that Indie authors suck, because no self respecting ‘big’ author like Rowling would EVER sell anything that low. I think you need to know your audience a bit, and I hope the audience understand that Indie doesn’t mean you get almost the whole cost of the book.

I tried to price more according to the length of the book, but that caused pricing differences in the same series, so I ended up just pricing all the Lily books $2.99 after the first one, which is free. Unfortunately it is difficult to sell directly to B&N, iBookstore and some other places so I use Lulu for that, and whilst Lulu takes a small cut – usually no more than thirty-five cents – B&N and Kobo in particular take a flat percentage which means that for the $8.99 compendium, I receive less than HALF of that price as revenue. It’s crazy, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Big publishers have this system figured out, and readers expect mainstream to cost more, so I think they are more comfortable with paying extra. They price in marketing and labour, and have infrastructure in place that grinds into motion when a book is released, so their overhead goes to somewhere. The overhead for publishing through Kobo for instance, is basically a vig for the right to be listed on their site, and that’s it.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining – I am trying to give a little insight into what is behind the curtain, some of the moving parts and thoughts that affect an Indie writer, in this case me. I am grateful I am selling books, that most readers seem to like what I write, and I fervently hope to be able to make enough so this is my job, full time. There is a lot a to manage, and a learning curve no doubt, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and I’m already several steps down the road… and excited to see where it all leads.

 

 

Book Blitz!

The book blitz is on and in honour of it, the Compendium is on sale for $8.99. For some reason Amazon has discounted several books in the series so the anthology wasn’t as good of a ‘deal’ as I meant it to be, so I will keep it at $8.99 until I sort out this with Amazon, unless they have decided to permanently discount the books.

Links:

Amazon

Lulu

ITunes

Kobo

Barnes & Noble (waiting for update to pricing, still at $9.99)

Holly