Friday, December 31, 2010

End of Year Wrap Up

New Year's Eve is upon us again. I know most of us will say this, and I have said it many times myself, but I really can't believe how fast this year flew by. I can clearly remember last New Year ticking over and telling myself that this year would be the year. I would get published and move onto the next phase of my career. It might not have happened exactly how I'd planned - I always thought I'd end up with an agent and had never considered e-book publishing as an option simply because I didn't know enough about it. But as is the way of life, I learnt a lot this past twelve months and I can say with all certainty that, at least career-wise, I am no longer the same person. I accomplished many things this year that I'd always wanted to do and getting published was only one of them.
So here we are on the verge of another New Year. Once again, I am facing the change in year with determination and a number of goals. I plan for 2011 to be the year I get an agent. I've had another crit partner/friend/RWAus member read Atrophy (possibly to be re-titled. I haven't made up my mind yet. More than one person has told me it might be too intellectual for a romance novel title) and she, like others who've read it, was very excited about it. I feel like Atrophy does have something that my other manuscripts don't, some special spark that has really raised the bar for me personally. So, I have to believe there is an agent out there somewhere who will read it and see what I, and other's who've read it, feel when discovering this story.
Aside from getting an agent and publishing contract for Atrophy, I have a set plan of at least five books I want to write for Noble, some which will fit into the Sanctuary series, and some that are stand-alone romantic suspense. I have a 'project planner' whiteboard up on the wall above my computer and its all set to see me through the first few months of the new year.
And what better way to kick off the new year than with a book release? Dead Reality will be coming out on the 10th of January and hopefully I'll get a release date for Severance in the next couple of weeks.
In sales news, I checked on Amazon this morning to see Sanctuary is about 31,000 on their best-sellers list. This might seem like a ridiculous number, but since last week it was up around the 106,000 mark, I'm happy that I'm going up the list, not down. And I suppose that's what it comes down to now. Releasing a book and seeing how high up the best-sellers list it goes before its popularity wanes or my next book comes out. I'm not interested because I want to be a number one best-selling author over night (although, I would like to be a best-selling author at some point in the future) but because it means people are actually buying my book. And I wonder what they might be thinking about it. Did they love it and are excited about Severance coming out? Did they only think it was so-so. Or did they think angels and demons in spaceships was the most stupid idea they'd ever read?
I haven't gotten any 'fan mail' yet, so I guess I'll just have to use my imagination for now.
And speaking of now, I should be off writing Nick and Madi's book.
Oh, but one last thing, I've got an interview up on the Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem blog today. Go check it out!
I hope 2011 brings you all great things. Happy and safe New Year to you all, and I'll catch you on the flip side.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Self Review

Now that my book is up on places like Amazon and Goodreads, people have been telling me I need to go put up some reviews to start the ball rolling. And I keep thinking "yeah, I'll go do that." But then I find something else to do.
I can't bring myself to do it, because I have no idea what to say about it. I'm suspect about my reviewing abilities when I'm reviewing other people's books, so I have no idea how I'm supposed to do my own. It'd be easy to say "I love this book, its great! You should too." But obviously not everyone's going to love it and I probably need to be more diplomatic than that.
I've been thinking about asking my crit partners/friends to go do some for me instead, seems to be the easier option and is less likely to give me a headache.
Since its Christmas eve, I'm not rushing to do anything now. I want to get a couple of thousand words written today. So I'll consider my position on self-reviews in another couple of days.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Round Up Before Christmas

I'm very excited to say my book is now available places like allromance.com and on kindle. Its the weirdest feeling to see my little ol' book up there next to the likes of Cheryl Brooks (I checked out allromance.com and apparently customers who bought my book also bought some of her Catstar Chronicles. I was stoked about that, love that series).
In writing news, I'm just about to start chapter three of a new rom sus I've started working on. It's untitled at the moment, so I should probably do something about that before I finish it!
I find myself in new territory, because these characters have 'history'. They haven't seen each other for years and the last time they did, the hero had been involved in a life-changing accident. When they meet up again, they are both different people, but have a shared past. So its been an interesting challenge trying to balance a good mix of past and present without going over board on info-dumping. I think initially I did put too much past info in there, so I've had to go back and chop some out. But hopefully once its written and edited, I'll get the mix right and end up with a good story.
Instead of hanging around here talking about it, I should get writing. I left my hero, Nick, standing around in a towel and nothing else!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sci-Fi Romance and the Erotic Appeal

I've joined Love Romance Cafe, a yahoo group for romance readers and authors. Today they're having a free-for-all where you can post excerpts from your books. I've been keeping an eye on the genres coming through, unfortunately I don't have time to read them all. But, one thing I have noticed is that there are quite a few erotic sci-fi romances being posted.
So, it makes me wonder, what is it about sci-fi that also attracts an erotic element? I'm not an erotic author, I never will be and won't even try. I have enough trouble writing the one or two love scenes I might include in my books, without trying to do an entire book's worth.
In the last few years, erotic authors tend to lead the trends, particularly when it comes to e-books. So, does the surge of erotic sci-fi romances mean that the popularity of more mainstream sci-fi romances will follow?
Being a sci-fi romance author, I obviously hope so. But, my hope also comes from being a reader. My favorite sci-fi romance author is Linnea Sinclair. Her books are quite brilliant, there's no other way to put it, and I've loved every single one I've read.
Plus, I devoured Sherrilyn Kenyon's sci-fi series and wished there were more!
There is something totally unique about a good sci-fi romance. Like paranormal, the 'verses can be varied and filled with just about anything an author can imagine. The possibilities are endless, the restrictions minimal. I think that's what I love so much about the genre.
Now, if only I could find an agent to take Atrophy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Very Noble Christmas

My publisher, Noble Romance Publishing, will be having an online Christmas party this Saturday 18th December from 12pm to 9pm (American EST time.). I'll be chatting for an hour from 6pm onwards, which will make it 10am Sunday morning here in Australia. You'll need to join the Noble Romance Publishing group on yahoo to participate, but I think it'll be well worth it - there's going to be prizes and all sorts of fun things.
And now I have editing to do... *groan*.
By the way, I've now got excepts from my books up on my website, so go check that out too!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Right Moves To Make

There's a lot of stuff out there on the net talking about what an author can do in terms of promo as well as reader's opinions of what does and doesn't work. I never paid too much attention before. I figured there was plenty of time to learn about that stuff once I'd gotten published. Well, it seems that day has come and now I need to start making the right moves in terms of promo, as well as working on my books.
The problem is, just like there's no set path to publication, there's no set type of promo that's going to work for every author. And I am quite aware that I'm a tiny speck of algae in a huge sea of fish, sharks and whales.
I read on a blog in the past couple of days (can't remember where it was now) which had been pointed out by both the RWAus loop and the Noble authors loop, because it talked about the kinds of promo an author can do. But the REAL gold in this piece came from the comments left by readers, who are readers, or my intended audience. And many of them seem to be of the same opinion when it came to what they liked. This is what I gleaned, and what I'm going to go with for the time being.
1) Most couldn't give a crap about book trailers. Thank god. Because while I know they're all the rage at the moment, I don't have the tech-savvy skills or time to make a passable effort on one.
2) They don't like flashy websites or gimmicks - they just want somewhere they can go which is simple to navigate, lists all the author's previous titles, including series order and if possible, in an easily printable list. They also like to see good long excepts from the author's books, not just the blurb.
3) They like free stuff! Well, who doesn't like free stuff? This could be in the form of an entire free e-book or free short stories connected to an existing series. And if they can get their hands on some free promo stuff like bookmarks, pens, mugs, etc, etc, then they'll take whatever they can get.
4) They want to know what the author is up to, what the author is working on and if possible, an excerpt from the author's WIP.
5) They want to connect with the author through things like twitter and know the author is an everyday sort of person like them. Now, I can understand this point, but I have some reservations. I'm happy to connect to readers through a shared interests like TV shows, other books and music, but I'm not going to go talking about my family and personal life, as some people suggested. I know on this blog I often only talk about publishing related matters and not much else, but it comes from a simple fact of wanting to keep my personal life personal, separate from my published-author life. Some people might say that will be next to impossible, but I'm going to try and maintain those boundaries.
So here's what I'm thinking. I've already put excerpts from Sanctuary and Dead Reality on my website. I plan on adding an excerpt from Severance as soon as I've done some more editing on it. I'll probably also post an excerpt from my next wip, a rom sus, once I get going on that too. I was also considering putting up a note to say I'll send out bookmarks to the first 50 people who send me their address, and have that as a regular thing, some months having books, or pens or other fun stuff that I'll randomly give away.
One issue with all of this is that its time consuming and I don't want promo to take over my life and impact on my writing time and quality. Plus, obviously giving stuff away costs me money, so I also have to balance cost with benefit.
I can honestly say these are the somewhat complicated facets of being published I never considered. In fact, I never considered much beyond the moment I would get my 'yes'.
But, as with all things, I'll just look at this as one more sharp learning curve in my journey... kind of like one you'd find on a roller coaster.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Naughty Novelists

Just a quick post to say I'm over at the Naughty Novelists blog this week, giving away an e-book copy of Sanctuary. At the moment, only one person has left a comment (coz apparently I'm a no-friends Nelly... thanks for being my ONLY friend, Tam.) so the competition isn't very tight. I'm not even making you answer a question, you just have to leave a comment!
In other news, I'm so close to finishing Severance its ridiculous! I'm looking forward to getting it submitted and starting on a new idea I have for a romantic suspense.
And now I'm off to finish Alastor and Nakita's story.
Seriously, go leave a comment... Naughty Novelists. Go!

Friday, December 3, 2010

No Luck

Well, the results for round 2 of the Knight Agency comp were posted over night (my time) last night and I'm sorry to say I didn't make it any further. It is a bit disappointing, as I said, I had hoped to at least get through a couple of rounds.
I know that my opening pages are not my strong point, which makes it harder on me because obviously the opening pages are the ones that first have to attract the interest of an agent/editor, and then later on, the readers. I'm not really sure what I can do about my sucky opening pages. I guess I'll wait to hear back from the rest of the agents I've got queries out with and then re-evaluate in the new year as to whether I need to consider doing some re-writing before I query my next round of agents. For now, I've got more than enough to keep me busy with Noble.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chocolaty Cover Goodness

Yes, I have discovered that seeing your cover for the first time is a lot like eating chocolate after deciding your diet's not working and gorging yourself on the creamy smoothness for the first time in weeks... or months, depending on how determined you were!

Right, enough with the blabbing... and take a look at the cover for my second book, Dead Reality. Once again, the artist, CH Scarlett, has outdone herself. If these covers don't help boost up sales, I don't know what would! This lady has some serious talent. Somehow, though I'm sure the descriptions I send to her are vague, she manages to come up with exactly what I want, only better and with more oomph! So, if she does all my covers for me for the rest of forever, I think I'd be one happy author.

And with the end of Severance in sight, hopefully it'll only be another few weeks before I'll be showing off the cover for that as well. You know, I really like being with Noble, where things happen so quickly. Its like immediate gratification. I know that if I was with one of the mainstream publishers, these sorts of things could take up to a year.

I've had an idea for another stand-alone romantic suspense and I'm feeling like I might like to write that before I get into the third Sanctuary book. Anyway, whichever one I write, I'd like to step up my game and see if I can get it down in 6 weeks, that way by the time Severance comes out, I should have yet another book ready to go. If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm planning on spending the next 12 to 18 months working my butt off to get myself solidly established.

Anyhoo, let's go enjoy some cover drooling...


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Contest News!

Last night I sat up until midnight for a chance to get myself into the Speed Dating With Deidre competition being held over at The Knight Agency blog. The contest opened at 8am US EST time and my comment went up at 8:01. And I only just made it! I got in at 121 (the winners had to be the first 125 people to leave a comment). So I sent the first three pages of Atrophy with the assumption that, yes, I had made it, and went to bed. This morning I got up and checked their blog to find a post confirming that I was listed in the top 125... WOO!
So I should find out on Friday as to whether I've made it into the second round. Ms Knight will be whittling down the entrants to a top 25 and those people will then have to send the first 10 pages of their manuscript. The following round after that, entrants will have to send the first three chapters and the final round is a full manuscript submission.
In other news, I've got a release date for Dead Reality, it'll be coming out on the 10th of January 2011 and this morning I saw some very fabulous cover art, so hopefully I'll get the final proofs and be able to share that sometime soon.
For now, I have just over 8000 words of Severance left to write, better get to it!