Sunday, 20 December 2015

Getting a CPAP machine to improve my sleeping has made a world of difference and I am back to writing for much longer periods than I have been managing for some time,
I am still working on "Why'd They Kill Grandma?" which is the sequel to "Murder For A Grandmother" which is on offer to a traditional publisher. I am also working on "The Man Who Didn't Like People" as a follow up to "A New Era For Manny Youngman" and I am re-vamping "The Man Behind The Mask" which is a romance I wrote several years ago.
I know some people say they can only work on one project at a time but I find my mind tends to think in scenes. I write a scene of one book and then take a break before coming back and tidying it up before going on to the next scene. It is more productive to use those breaks to work on one of my other projects.
My aim is to have at least three books published in 2016 - either by a traditional publisher or I will self-publish them.
I am developing an extensive mailing list of people who liked "A New Era For Manny Youngman" and I am also embarked on an extensive programme of author talks, It makes much more sense to be promoting several titles instead of one.

Monday, 7 December 2015

I am back to writing Why'd they murder Grandma?, the second in the Grey Nomad series because I want to have a substantial part of it written if Fremantle Press do take up the first, Murder For A Grandmother.
For this book I've chosen Joan and Tom as my pov characters. It created some difficulties at first as I didn't have them as clearly in my head as Athol and Debby, though whose eyes the first book was told. However, I've got over that and the story is moving ahead. I haven't done an outline as such but I have a list of scenes and events that will be included as it goes along, I find this is essential in a murder mystery as there have to be red herrings and hidden clues built into the story and unless I know in advance what these are going to be it would be too easy to go off down a culdesac.
I still have to deal with the romance that was developing between Athol and Debby in the first book but I can do this by having Joan acting as cupid and trying to push them together when Athol in particular is hesitant.
The good thing at the moment is that I feel I know exactly how the book will develop and I'm looking forward to each stage of writing it.
I'm doing it in scenes in Scrivener so I can decide later where the chapter breaks will fall, I probably won't use as many short scenes as I did in the first book but they may change. Today I rewrote the first scene where Joan meets a new character, Sissy Wildflower, and we get the basics of who's who and what's what. Next I will be rewriting the scene with Tom at the woodwork shop.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

I'm coming to the conclusion that most of what is written about author marketing is fiction and is written by people trying to sell the author a service. I have set up a web page and a Facebook page, posted to Facebook to encourage people to my page, obtained good reviews from on-line reviewers, posted details of the book on numerous web sites, built up a big list of Facebook friends and Linked-in colleagues, taken part in on-line group discussions. persuaded book shops to take copies on consignment, had articles about me published in local newspapers and took part in a Book Fair which included an author talk. From all of this the only e-book sales have been my son and a friend and the only book shop sales have been friends. I have sold most by direct contact with people who know me with the exception of the Book Fair where a small number were purchased by people I did not know.
Talking to other authors I suspect that the strategy that works is to build up a list of followers, but this requires the author to have several books. It does not work for the first. Authors give away their first book to accumulate the first names on their list, adding the names of friends and others they are able to sell the book to. When the second book is published it is offered to the people on the list. Hopefully they will purchase it and also tell their friends about it. Gradually the list can be built up until by the third or fourth book sales are starting to be significant. That is hardly an attractive strategy for a first-time or one-book author.
I am concentrating for the moment on author talks because these generally result in a number of sales, even if it is small. Libraries and service clubs like Rotary and Probus are usually happy to have me give them a talk.
All of this results in small numbers of sales but getting onto the best-seller lists is highly unlikely.
What I need is a reviewer in a national newspaper or on TV to urge people to buy my book, but all the free books I have sent out to reporters and presenters have disappeared without a response. The only feedback I have had is that they are not interested in self-published books. Those reviews that do appear are largely the result of a lot of persuasion by agents or publishers' media relations teams.
This is all a little depressing but I will keep going. Ever the optimist I hope I will hit upon some magic trick that will propel my book into the sales stratosphere. It's really only an extension of the optimism and self-belief that got me started writing a novel in the first place.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Spending too much time marketing Manny. Two days spent visiting bookshops gave me something to put on my website but it was all on consignment so nothing I can call a sale. Now I have to get people to go to those bookshops. At least I am now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and most of the other book sites. Have to hope all the other things I am doing produce sales. I feel like I'm firing a shot gun in the hope something will hit somewhere. The advice I have read all seems to say the same things but none of it offers evidence of any one strategy that produces confirmable sales. I'm know why other authors have said they gave up and just went back to their writing, leaving the rest to luck. But then I also understand why so many of them ended up with low sales and boxes of unsold books.
It's our local Book Fair this weekend so maybe that will give sales a boost.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

My new novel is going well. I am working more slowly than usual and editing and polishing as I go instead of rushing along to a first draft. My theory is that I have wasted a lot of time on previous novels because they have required so much revising. If I can get it closer to the finished product from the start I can hope to finish a novel in months rather than years.
I still haven't heard back from Fremantle Press concerning Murder For a Grandmother, Other writers who have dealt with them say this a good sign but I am not optimistic,
Marketing Manny is taking up a lot of my time. Good news is that the twelve copies I sent down to Walpole have all sold and the response from readers has been good, That's what it is all about at the end of the day. If nothing else, my family and a growing number of friends have read my book and liked it.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Haven't been posting here because so much is happening, New Edition Bookshop in Fremantle has taken copies of A New Era For Manny Youngman, which I see as a major step forward. Now I have to get it into the other indie bookshops around Perth. It doesn't guarantee sales, of course, but at least I can tell people where to get a copy when they ask, I've set up a Facebook page for the book and I'm working on directing people to the page. It's all a big learning curve.
And while all this is happening, I've started on the outline of a new book, provisionally titled The Family Fortune although that may well change. The premises is a mysanthropist learns he is about to die and faces the problem of what to with the large amount of money he has accumulated. He revisits his long-abandoned family to see if any of them are worth leaving the money to. The ensuing story is about ugliness being only skin deep, not judging a book by its cover and the importance of family. It is not a sequel to Manny but in the same vein, which is why I want to write this now instead of continuing with the Granny series, As another local writer, Heidi Kneale, put it, I have established a brand with Manny and I should continue to develop that brand. I feel it is also more "me" in that it answers my original question to myself when I was 17 - writers have a meaning - what meaning have I? Like Manny this book can tell a good, readable story while conveying something of my personal values and thoughts about life generally.
I also have my story Under The Rotunda coming out in the Rocky Romance anthology, I'm taking part in a coupe of panel discussions for the Rockingham Writers Centre and I'll be giving my first author talk at the Book Fair in November and another at a local library in December.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Starting to get more feedback from people who have or are reading the book and it is all positive. Most comment that they agree with the sentiments Manny expresses and know others feel the same. If only I can get a reviewer on The Australian or one of the major TV programmes to see that the book is relevant to a social issue that is worth discussing, Still, it's early days and I am plugging away. My local bookstore has taken six copies with a promise to take more if they sell and a local newsagent has done the same. Going to see a second newsagent tomorrow, having left a copy for the manager to look at, I've been interviewed by a reporter from a local newspaper and when that article appears I'm hoping it will generate some demand, It would be nice of course if some big publishing company was doing all this for me.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

My first feedback from someone who is reading my book came from my grandson Bradley who is five chapters into it. His comments were that he and his partner, Danielle, agree with Manny's views on male/female relationships and that he particularly likes the way I show Manny's inner thoughts. This is very reassuring and particularly when it comes from a young man. I had imagined my readers mainly to be older women. If I can find a strong readership in Bad and Danielle's age group that would be excellent, I have now sold nine copies and more than twenty have been sent to family, potential reviewers and libraries. Hopefully that will produce some reviews on the Kobo website and Amazon, when the book is uploaded there. There is no sign of it so far but I'm told it can take a while. If I can get ten favourable reviews other web sites will take it up and promote it. Meanwhile I'm going back to Why Murder A Grandmother? I've got some ideas on how the story is going to develop in a way which will make using Tom and Joan as the povs work better.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Holding the first copy of A New Era for Manny Youngman in my hand was one of the greatest feelings I have experienced. At last I have done it. I have a book with my name on it to show for all my years of writing and being rejected. OK so I had to publish it myself but that didn't diminish the feeling.
The first sale came as soon as I posted the news on the Rockingham Writers Centre Facebook page. Then Bec's friend Leslie came round to buy a copy and yesterday I sold four more at the ukulele group, with orders for at least two more. I also have two invitations to talk about the book - one to the local Probus group and another to the Donnybrook Writers Group.
AND the book is on Kobo as an e-book selling at $4.99. I haven't found it anywhere else, particularly on Amazon which I am told has the most sales, but I assume it is just taking its time.
I have also sent lots of copies to friends, so the first box of 25 is severely depleted. It will empty even more today when the family arrive for a lunch-time launch.
I have a marketing plan but had to hold off until it was somewhere as an e-book. I certainly don't want to be spending a lot of time mailing copies to people as direct sales. Also, an e-book is much more accessible to potential reviewers. Now I can get out there and start promoting it,
As far as I know, no-one has actually read it yet, so I can't tell what the reaction is. I dread the thought that people won't say anything - which will probably mean they hated it and don't want to tell me.
Too late now. It's out there.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Moving in several new directions,. I have downloaded Scrivener to put together the second novel in the Grey Nomads series and also to take a second look at some of my earlier novels to see whether they are worth resurrecting.
I can see some immediate advantages in having all the files in one place where it is easy to change from one to another but I am not sure about some of the other features. I guess tome and practice with it will tell.
At this stage I am developing the various threads of the Nomads story - the main investigation of the murder - sub-plots for each of the main characters. At the same time I am writing character sketches. Trying to stick to the KISS principle - I don't want to bog down on this preparation, just use it as a framework to start writing around.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

After some fiddling to get the technology sorted out I have finally been able to access my old floppy disks on which most of my earlier writing is stored, It has been a fascinating experience.
I found a story called Dear Girl, written in 1992, which turns out to be the earliest version of what eventually became A New Era For Manny Youngman, It contains none of the male/female relationship theorising I later included and started with Manny, a plumber, not an architect, arriving home to find the pink car parked outside his flat, A lot of the events survived but I later used them in different ways. I guess if I kept a writer's journal I would have a record of how the final novel evolved from those beginnings.
I also found "Capricorn" - 12,000 words of a proposed novel about a man who wakes up from unconsciousness to find he has been dumped in a desert by the husband of a woman he has been having an affair with. Attempting to walk to safety he comes across the woman, who has also been dumped out in the middle of nowhere, and the two of them find a way to survive together, plotting to get back and take their revenge on her husband, I remember the genesis of that story. We were driving north along the coast on our way to Exmouth and there is a stretch where there are huge areas of craggy limestone desert. I imagined being stranded in it and the story grew from there, Not sure why I stopped writing it. It still sounds like a good plot.
I also found the beginnings of a novel that was originally titled "Rebecca" and was about a young woman who had been sacked from her job but was reinstated when the ownership of the company changed hands. I'm not sure now where it was headed because I obviously launched into it without a plan. Again, the premise sounds good, She could rise through the ranks, take revenge on whoever sacked her, etc etc. It could become a romance or a story about the difficulties of being a modern woman in a world that still largely male dominated, Maybe I should take another look at it.
The trouble is there have been so many ideas over the years. Perhaps I should leave them as that - old ideas - and concentrate my efforts in new directions.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Past 3,000 words on the first draft of the second Grey Nomad novel, The second chapter starts with Joan's feelings about herself and about the caravan park. Working from her pov is fascinating as I have to imagine myself as an elderly, gossipy woman without having someone else physical describe her. How to show my reader that she is short, has frizzy white hair and her shirt always falling out of her jeans without having someone else saying it. I think I have found a way by having her thinking about herself and about how other people see her. It's been an interesting exercise but I need to move on with the story now, introduce some of the other characters and some tension to hold the reader's interest.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

It's funny how things combine to give you a new idea, In the first Grey Nomads book I had a character named Sissy Wildflower who was meant to be a willowy hippy type who drove a chartreuse mini-bus with flowers painted on the side, She dropped out of the story mainly because I had too many other characters who were more important to the plot. Now I'm on the second book I was thinking of bring her back, Then I watched a video on Stevie Nicks and saw her gypsy/fairy like images floating around, and I was watching a Black List DVD which mentioned gypsies and the idea started to take shape. I make Sissy one of a band of gypsies or gypsy-like people. It would be natural for the Grey Nomads to meet them. travelling on the road. The way it would fit into the story is that the gypsies could have been travelling this route for years and some of them could have been around at the time the murder was committed, They would't have spoken to the police or may have been suspected at the time, but they could supply the Grey Nomads with information that helps solve the murder, It makes a good thread to try out in the outline I am working on.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Have started on the self-publishing process for A New Era For Manny Youngman. It isn't simple, not for someone who hasn't a lot of computer skills outside straight word processing and desktop publishing, There is a lot of software and online sites around but knowing which is the right one is not easy, Started off in something called Canva but discovered when it said design a book cover it meant a kindle cover, not a full back and sides with spine book cover. However, they did have a good picture I was able to purchase for only $1. Finally found Adobe Cloud In-design which allows for the full cover design and the internal text design. Being helped by my daughter who is more tech savvy and by Karen McDermott of Serenity Press who has been down this road many times for herself and others and has given valuable advice like the fact that I need an ISBN number. Seems we have to decide the inside first before we can see how many pages there will be, which will decide the width of the spine.
This afternoon I wrote the dedication and the blurb about myself and the book to go on the inside and back cover. Also re-edited the final draft to single spacing and deleted the title page I sued for submissions. Somehow I always thought someone else would be doing all this but if this is they way I have to go to see myself in print, then so be it.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The first 1800 words of Why Kill A Grandmother are down on paper. The two main characters for this book are Joan and Tom Burton, very different to Debby and Athol and able to give a new slant on what it means being a Grey Nomad Detective, on their friends, and on life in general.
I've set it in Rockingham, which I know well, but I may shift it later because Rockingham is rather a large town and it will be hard to create the "tight community effected by murder" which was one of the basic concepts I had for the series, I didn't have it in the first book so perhaps it won't prove so basic after all.
I've started with Joan in the caravan park laundry where she meets a tall woman with long silver hair and a pale lilac kaftan, This is actually a character I created and then dropped from the first book. She'll be a mysterious hippy type with something going on in her life which will intrigue Joan and become one of the sub-plots,
Tom is in the the woodwork shed at the local autumn centre helping with one of their projects and finding out what he can about the murder of Sylvia Marchant, a very ordinary, much loved grandmother who was found bludgeoned to death for no obvious reason.
I know the reason - but not much else about is going to happen in the next 80,000 words,

Monday, 3 August 2015

Back on track
For a short period there, after receiving no feedback from a submission to Allen & Unwin with Murder For A Grandmother, I almost gave up writing. I told me dear friend and critiquer Paula Boer and she told me I was being silly.
She's right, of course. This morning I started preparing a submission to Fremantle Press and I have re-visited a cover design I had previously started for A New Era For Manny Youngman which I now intend to self-publish, Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press has offered to help me with that,
I have an idea it's necessary to set up your own publishing company so I'm toying with possible names for one, Deep End Publishing, New Era Publishing and Never Too Old Publishing are some of the ideas I've had,
I have also, obviously come back to this Blog page and I will be doing more work on my webpage at The theory is the web-page will be a fairly static promotion of what I have done and what I am doing while this page will be where I run my thoughts and theories,
Time will tell if it is going to work,
Of course, I'm not getting much response from either page, but I am going to work on that too. I'll try to attract people to them and, hopefully, get into some conversations,
All part of the way forward, which is the only way I can go.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

After many years of saying I would never self-publish I am about to succumb. My latest novel has received its first rejection and while I have been down this path many times before I know at my age the chances of eventually finding a publisher are diminishing exponentially.
I am going to self publish "A New Era For Manny Youngman" because, of all my novels, it is the one which contains something I want to say and is not just a story for the sake of telling a story.
I am also going to put my short stories into a book and self-publish that.
Meanwhile, however. I am going to perservere with Murder For A Grandmother and will submit it to Fremantle Press to see if it can find a home there,
If it it doesn't I will probably give up trying to continue the Grey Nomads series, Instead I will try a one-off novel so that I am not locking myself into an on-going commitment, My idea of a man returning to find and anonymously review the family he left behind is a possibility.
Another meanwhile is that I still have the next in the Grey Nomad series.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Draft completed

I have completed the first draft - 87,000 words - of Murder For A Grandmother. Two people have seen it and their view is that it is good but still needs work. Now I have to decide where the work has to be done. Some of it is obvious but other areas are subjective matters of judgment and at the end of the day I am the one who has to decide. I plan to work in scenes with a checklist of what that scene has to achieve and what has to be done within it. Along the way I hope some of the broader issues will make themselves clear and I will work through them. Hope to start on it tomorrow or maybe Monday.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

So much has changed - but not my writing

A lot has happened to me in the  past eighteen months. My wife died and I moved from my home on a remote property on the south coast, where I was becoming increasingly lonely and depressed, to a suburban lifestyle sharing a house with my daughter.
So much has changed, but one thing is constant - my writing. I have completed the first draft of my latest novel and I'm two thirds of the way through the first major edit. It will be ready soon to go to a writer friend to be critiqued. In some ways my writing was my salvation. By making myself sit down at the keyboard every morning (well, most mornings), I gave myself goals to work towards and an intellectual exercise to keep my mind what was causing me to be depressed.
There were days when I had to force myself to write and, in the rewriting process, it is very clear where that happened. The important thing is that there is a framework there, an on-going story line within which I can now improve the writing.
I have had to close the writers retreat but it was pleasant on those occasions where I did have writers in residence. Now I am working on the creation of a writers centre near my new home. An invitation to local writers to attend the launch later this month produced more than 30 responses so I am very hopeful it will be a success.