Category Archives: General

A little bit of marketing…

Well, this weekend I’ve done some editing (the good stuff, when you re-read your own writing and it feels like you’re reading something new to yourself, as if it’s not your own stuff) and re-jigged a whole lot of social media, marketing blog stuff. It’s surprising how long that takes! Let’s face it, I hadn’t posted on Facebook since February (!)

What can I say? I’m more of a Twitter person…

Anyway, I saw a really interesting post from someone who uses Pinterest a lot to market her blog (creating interesting visual pins for each of her posts and then linking them on to her blog). I spent quite a while juggling my boards and content around to be more ‘author’ and when I get a little more time I think I’ll do some test runs of this idea. In the past, I have created Pins of quotes from my books, which have circulated pretty well.

I had some good news on Saturday too, when I did the usual Amazon check of my book rankings, it was a nice surprise to see Faris and Jack at No. 4 in the Top 100 Horse books list!

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It was the sequel to this book that I had been editing and I am hoping from a ‘marketing’ perspective that when I get the second book out there that a number of the people who have picked up book one will try the follow-up. I remember reading a post about publishing books in series and how a body of work was generally better and easier to market, as if one reader likes what you do they are likely to read more than just your one book – you only need convince them once! 🙂

I think most independent authors (and lots of traditionally published ones too) would agree that marketing and PR-ing your work is hard – it’s a whole other skill set than writing and not always easy to pick up once you’ve finished your book. In the past I have spent a lot of time on trying to push the books and bring readers in – now, my focus is more on the actual writing. If it’s a hobby, then I’m happy to put it out there and see what happens, with whatever nudges I can do with marketing to help it along. Faris and Jack has had the least amount of push and is the most successful book I’ve published so far (in terms of both volume and ratings). I think continuing this experiment and seeing what happens to Faris and the Monoceros when that comes out will be interesting.

Anyway, enough of my weekend, it’s nearly bedtime here in the UK, but if you’d like some ideas for refreshing your own book marketing, check out the article below. It tells us that marketing is not a one-time effort, that you need to rearrange your thinking and find ways to reinvigorate your book marketing to keep the momentum for this – and other books – going. Good luck! 🙂

http://blog.bookbaby.com/2017/08/reinvigorate-book-marketing/

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June… Read something you wouldn’t normally

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I picked Monsters up in the library because of the quirky cover. Reading the very brief blurb on the back it reminded me of a film from years ago with Kate Winslet (I think), where two odd friends have an unsavoury interest in murder.
The actual story was a bit of a surprise and didn’t unfold as I thought it might.

I’m not actually convinced that I ever read the name of the narrator of the story – if I did it was so infrequent that I missed it – and so it is odd to share such intimate knowledge of her strange and rather unhappy life without giving her the label of a name. Perhaps that is part of what the author was looking for, that as the reader there is an uncomfortable voyeurism to reading about this person and their experiences.

The story is well-written, from the point of view of a 12-13 year old, which sees her drifting through points of immature misunderstanding of an adult world to moments of real clarity, seeing the truth of people that maybe sits between being a child and an adult. The way she looks at her friendships and others feels very black and white, more childlike, as do the tempers she has.

Overall, this is an interesting read with well-rounded characters and a view into the painful and odd world of the narrator. Often the murder mystery element of the book drifts into the background whilst trivial seeming things take the centre. It’s not comfortable or fun to read, you feel pity for the narrator in many ways, but also can’t say that she is ever likely to become someone you would want to meet. She’s already pretty broken. 4*

(In terms of the reading challenge, I actually started off reading a political biography on Barack Obama, I still have it but am only about 50 pages into and it has about 800 to go… I’m not overly convinced that I’ll make it to the end of that one, perhaps it’s too far out of my comfort zone!)

 

 

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Reading Challenge for May – Read a book recommended by a friend…

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Several friends have recommended If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, to me and it has sat languishing in my bedside table for a while now – this cover is for the version of the book I have and so must have been bought around the time of the film release. I can’t remember now if I bought this copy or if it was given to me to read – I have a feeling it’s the latter, but definitely can’t think who it came from. My author buddy Tony Talbot read and reviewed this on the Aside from Writing blog ages ago, so you can check out his thoughts there (spoiler alert!) if you like (also, it’s evidence of the recommendation!)

My thoughts… 

Before you are 20 pages in to this book, you are shocked into experiencing the same trauma as Mia. There’s so little pre-amble to the crash that it is shocking, even though you know that is what the book centres on before you start. You just don’t want this kind of thing to happen to characters like them – you feel how unfair and sad it is, when this type of tragedy strikes.

I found the comments and interviews (from the film actors) with Gayle Forman really interesting at the end, putting the story into context with her own experience of grief. There are so many facets of grief considered through the story: parental love for a child/younger sibling; romantic loss and that of losing your parents. Mia – sitting outside herself – is a very human, emotive vehicle for considering all these things, whilst reflecting back on the life she has lived and the relationships that have been built around her at that point.

This is, as you would expect, a difficult read in places. I think Gayle does a great job of managing the hard emotional parts of the present, with the backstory of the past. It has the mix in the book, just as you do with grief itself, of being overwhelmed by emotion and loss in one instant, then reminiscing and feeling the warmth of love, family and friends the next. I teared up a few times whilst reading, especially in the sections on Teddy, which Mia felt almost with a parental love for her much younger brother.

I think this is a story that will linger with you for a long time, whether it’s because of shared experiences of grief and how poignantly this is told within the story, or because of the emotion you feel for Mia’s fictional family and those of anyone in real life you experiences these similar freak tragedies.

This is a relatively short book and without formal chapters, you tend to read on through the scenes. Whilst very sad, I enjoyed this book, in so much as it has lingered with me the last few days since finishing and I’d like to read more about the characters I met.

5*

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Life Quotes…

Quote The local radio station I listen to on the way to work has a feature where one of the presenters shares a cheesy ‘life quote’  each day, usually for the others to mock. You know the kind of ones…that if you said them out loud, rather than in your head, you’d probably feel a bit silly. (A bit like this one).

I can understand people liking quotes like these, maybe even finding some strength in the words that they relate to themselves…they’re just not for me really. But, I doubt you’d find a writer who doesn’t like quotes at all: they’re like little pieces of word art that you can hang inside your head 🙂 And with pinterest and the amount of ‘word art’ you see in shops these days, it’s easy to see that words as art is more popular than ever.

I have to admit, I am quite partial to quotes about creativity, inspiration and the weirdness of life… Several of my favourites – like this from Einstein – are on the walls around my little desk (my writing cave/corner), mixed in with ones that are aimed at getting me writing and not procrastinating.

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You know the type: “What are you waiting for?” “Do more of what makes you happy” Sometimes you have to be tough with yourself to get anything done!

To stop me collecting quotes on my wall, like the books on my shelves, I’ve taken to popping them on to a Pinterest board whenever I come across them (if you’re interested, you can see the type of thing that makes it here); or the little quote feature in Goodreads is pretty nifty for collecting any of the writerly ones you come across there.

 

 

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2016, a year gone by

Over new year there are always lots of reflection posts and ‘what I’m going to do next’ ones floating around everyone’s blogs. I’ve not done one so far this year – I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s posts, sometimes been saddened to see what they’ve struggled with in 2016, other times I’ve been impressed with what they have achieved. Now that we’re nearing the end of January, I suppose I’m finished procrastinating…

For me, 2016 was a bit of a mix – my new job kicked into high-gear and never really stopped, which meant alot of my mental space was dedicated elsewhere. I wrote sporadically – Cirque de la Nuit moved on a bit, but not as far as I would have liked… my ‘new adult’ project got a few scenes expanded, nothing major. I did release a book (surprisingly) – Faris and Jack – but it was something I had written a long while ago (nearly ten years!) and I got the chance to re-edit and polish it up whilst on holiday in Scotland.

So far, Faris and Jack has proved to be the most popular of my books, in terms of downloads. I’ve not pushed it hugely, opting rather to release it free electronically for all the major e-readers forever. I’ve already written the sequel and the outlines for the final couple of books that go with the series, so I’ll be aiming to get the second one out in 2017, then hopefully (!) finish Cirque de la Nuit because it feels like it deserves to be finished. I’m actually enjoying writing that story more than any I’ve done so far – little pieces clicking into place more easily, more naturally than the books before. Perhaps that’s just practice helping me along?

So that’s about it really, from a writing point of view. I’d like to blog more than I did last year – it was a bit of a bust across the four blogs I work on, with only bits and pieces being posted… I’m not doing too badly so far this year and I’d like to post about the 2017 reading plan if nothing else, I think there’s going to be some interesting reading this year.

For anyone reading this, I hope that you write well in 2017 and that the year is good to you… I hope that readers amongst you find some fantastic books to enjoy and embrace the new writers that you find… For everyone, I hope that 2017 takes you closer to achieving your dreams and that you have a happy year.

Mel x

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2017…I plan to read

I saw this today on Pinterest and thought it might be worth giving it a try. It’s still a pretty loose guide to what you’ll read and I’ve got my own ongoing ’empty the bedside table’ challenge and ‘clear the kindle’, which would fit around this.

I quite like the idea of something that nudges me to read something a bit different, without being too prescriptive. Some of the books in my own challenges will fit into this plan (I think) so I’m going to give it a go. The pin is saved below for you, to see if you fancy trying it too.

For January’s book, I’ll need to have a quick trawl through my shelves and see what I fancy re-reading. It’s been a long time since I looked at some of those books…

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A little challenge…

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My 2016 TBR list 🙂

A while ago I did a challenge where you had to blog about different book things every day for a month – the 30-day challenge. Although I didn’t make it 100% through the month, I did answer all the posts by the end, with some creative mergers!

One of the questions in that challenge asked you what book had been on your ‘to read’ shelf for the longest and I realised that The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series remained uncompleted from my late teens and so had been carted around university halls and a couple of house moves in the last twenty years or so… And no, I’ve still not finished the series :/

Anyway, I’ve been ‘Autumn cleaning’ this weekend and took in the sorry stack of books stashed in my bedside table… They are a motley bunch and seem to follow no rhyme or reason as to why they are there. The only thing I can find to link them is that, at some point in the last few years, the books have appeared there with me thinking ‘I’ll put that here so I read it next’… Research books for my own writing, autobiographies passed on by friends, novels from family (some bought for my birthday, others loaned when they had finished with them), and my spontaneous ASDA purchases that appealed more than broccoli…

There’s an impressive twenty-four books stuffed into that small space and so I’ve decided to give myself a little push with a challenge to clear the decks of these books. So, this weekend I’m starting the ‘clear the bedside table challenge’ – sounds exciting, I know 😉

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7198950?shelf=bedside-table-challenge-2016

I’ve set up my Goodreads shelf (for motivation) and now I’ve posted about it here, I’ll have to carry this through – I just need to decide where to start Game of Thrones, James Bond, Antigone or Essential Bushcraft…? Decisions, decisions…

 

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