My First E-Book Experience

All being well, His Brand Of Beautiful will be published as an e-book in the new year, so I figured it was time I owned a Kindle and thanks to hubby Santa, my wish came true.

I’ve just finished my first e-book. Ex and The Single Girl, by Lani Diane Rich. This was a freebie plugged on Jennifer Crusie’s website some time ago that I’ve had sitting in my Amazon store, just a-waitin’ the Kindle.

So, some first impressions of e-books v print books.

It is SO light. Amazingly so. No RSI in the wrists reading anymore. And when I put it on my bedside table, or the kitchen bench or any handy horizontal surface, well, I feel rather stylish. (Hey, I don’t feel stylish very often – work with me). It’s so very pretty in its little leather satchel!

Now if I had my choice again, I think I’d like a ‘touch screen’ option, rather than press buttons to turn pages. But that’s being picky. Sorry Santa.

The viewing quality is great. I was reading it outside yesterday and there wasn’t any glare from the overhead sun, and I’ve discovered how to make the font bigger… useful given the champagne downed in this house Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Without making any comment on the book itself, it had a few formatting errors that were annoying. The scene breaks were non-existent, which meant every now and then I was completely thrown by paragraphs that continued a new scene from the ending of an old one. No paragraph space. No ****. Nothing. (My blog wants to throw in a line of white space below – but imagine if it was closed up and you’ll see what I mean.)

Here’s an example:

“Bastard.” I swiped an empty bottle of chardonnay off the coffee table and into the trash can, trying to work up some anger. It didn’t come. I put the trash by the door and wandered into my bedroom, falling asleep to thoughts of old flames and British Flyers.

“How’s that eggplant?” Peter asked. I looked down at my plate. I’d had one small bite and was still chewing.

See?

And hunting for that scene just told me a downfall of e-books. How do you quickly skim through to find a specific page/scene?

Aha! She says all-knowing, after five minutes of faffing about because my Kindle doesn’t have touch screen (sorry Santa for being ungrateful) pressing buttons… You can search the book for ‘eggplant’…

As a marketing module, this Kindle is amazing. Every time I close it, when I come back they are promoting a new title. I imagine they have a way of checking my profile on things such as Goodreads or books I’ve browsed at Amazon and they think, right, this girl’s a good fit for the latest Patricia Cornwell Scarpetta book, let’s see if we can sell it to her. Come in sucker…

After I’ve got rid of the marketing page about Patricia Cornwell’s new book, I’m at the same page where I left off. I don’t need bookmarks (proper ones that the kids giggle as they steal) or dog-eared pages that my husband grizzles at me about. I can lay this Kindle down whichever way I like and I don’t get nagged for ‘breaking that book’s back’.

The real test will be: will I read my Kindle in the loo? I have books that only ever get read in the loo. Right now I’m on Lord Of The Rings, so my loo-reading basket is well and truly full for at least another month. That’s a dang big book! If my Kindle makes it to the toilet, it will be my best booky friend forever.

Happy Christmas, thanks for visiting

On June 11 I started my blog, quietly, without fanfare. No one blew trumpets. The world didn’t suddenly rush to read my words in absorbed hush. But in its own way, that was all okay. The anonymity of my blog helped me grow brave (braver), as the months rolled on, and I’d like to think that silence helped me find and grow my ‘blogging’ voice.

What a year it’s been. I made the finals in the RWA First Kiss competition in April; I finished His Brand Of Beautiful at least four ‘official’ times between August and October. I gave the book to a reader friend for feedback, the first time anyone outside an agent/publisher/contest judge had seen it. I joined RWA’s Critique Partners and found Kathy and Kylie; and about mid-November (after the STALI results) I deleted the first scene of the book and began it in an entirely new spot, in November.

Somewhere in there I joined Facebook too, after much deliberation, and I’m loving it. I have the sum total of 15 friends. I started with one (my sister – who never gets on Facebook anyway but at least let me try out my ‘find a friend’ abilities).

And then a wonderful thing happened.

A publisher wrote to me with magic words: “I really enjoyed your book and I want it for our line.”

And the next day: a second publisher emailed me too. And this is the one I’m going to go with because I think we can make a great fit.

But until yesterday I couldn’t help thinking that any moment the world would slap me across the face with its big fishy tail. I was sure the morning would come when I’d check my email and there’d be a note there: “I’m really sorry. I sent you the wrong email. We don’t want your book at all but Merry Christmas… good luck in the future. Keep trying…remember JK Rowling was rejected too…”

The Publishing Contract arrived in my email inbox yesterday, filled with legalese that scares the pants off a pantster like me. So now I have about 19 pages of legal stuff to wade through, but I don’t have as many Negative Nelly doubts. (Just heart palpitations about signing it.)

I wrote on Facebook a few months back that all I wanted for Christmas was: The Call. I didn’t get The Call. I got the email. But my care factor on that isn’t high.

It’s the best Christmas present I could get.

The second best Christmas present is the friends I’ve made this year, and anyone, at anytime (except the Spanish spammers!) who has visited my blog and shared a few minutes of their time with me. Kerrie Paterson (bless her cotton socks) was my 50th commenter on the blog two days ago… My all-time views busted 1000 yesterday. They now sit on 1002. Now I know this is little, but I get a huge kick out of every comment, every visitor, every view. I love reading other blogs and visiting other sites and finding new people who have such fresh ways of saying different (and sometimes the same) things.

I’m so grateful for 2012 and what it’s brought into my life, I couldn’t begin to explain. So I won’t.

Here’s big Christmas wishes to everyone, for peace and happiness and fun with family and friends.

I’ll drink to that! (Not quite yet, though. I haven’t had breakfast…)

So not, The Next Big Thing

Many writers will already know of the ‘blog interview tour’ going the rounds called The Next Big Thing. I’ve read some great Q&As, one of which you’ll find right now at Come Home To The Country. It’s like an online literary chain letter. I don’t know where it started and I don’t know where it will end, and at some stage soon thanks to Jenn J McLeod, I, and three other lady writers, will become part of The Next Big Thing. (Yes – there is even a badge). If I find it, I’ll post it.

But what I want to write about today, is how VERY close I came to being something else entirely. Yes, although Allison Tait, Cate Ellink and Kerrie Patterson (tagged by Jenn) may never know it… Ladies, last night, we nearly became part of THE NEXT BOG THING.

All evidence is now removed. Jenn J’s typo (if typo it was – I’m tempted to think she was being sneaky to see if anyone was really listening!) is now removed. At midnight last night on Jenn’s blog, we were about to be part of The Next Bog Thing. Two minutes after midnight, we were back to being in The Next Big Thing… but I have spent some time in the small hours thinking about what might have been…

Let’s be honest. Have you seen the Q&A for The Next Big Thing? It’s not very exciting. It’s (dare I say) a bit boring. Like, child’s toy-left-out-in-the-sun-all-summer kind of dull. Jenn J’s Author Harvest questions have far more scope!

The Questions in The Next Bog Thing would be far more exciting! Just think of how you might answer this!

  1. At what point did you decide your first draft was complete and utter crap?
  2. Assuming you send your protagonist rowing up Shit Creek, how did you take away his/her paddle?
  3. How many times did you rewrite Chapter 4, before realising that you simply cannot polish a turd?
  4. Tell the truth. Have you ever taken your laptop into the toilet to work on your WIP?
  5. If you ever manage to outsell the Bible… will you think your shit doesn’t stink?

You get the point? Much more interesting!

Alas. Thanks to the wonders of blogs and their edit and ‘update’ buttons… I am not in The Next Bog Thing anymore, (how I wanted to see that badge), I am in only, The Next Big Thing and so, I shall start honing my answers!

But I do invite anyone out there who is interested in The Next Bog Thing, to leave any new questions they might think of in the comments below (I might even have to come up with a prize!)… or by all means, please join The Next Bog Thing and write your answers if you like and tag someone else… Maybe we can start a whole new BIG BOGGY THING (which one day, someone might make a scary movie about.)

In the meantime Jenn J, I love your work! Thanks for tagging me! And I look forward to reading about Kerrie, Allison and Cate! 🙂

Some days are diamonds

Have you ever been driving around, and you see the car bumper sticker: Magic Happens?

Half of us probably think: “Yes, it does!”… I have no doubt the other half think: “Yeah. So does shit.”

Well. I had a diamond of a day yesterday where magic happened.

During the week something (I’m not sure what) motivated me to check out the RWA Contest info and particularly, the Little Gems contest for short stories. I’ve never written a short story, unless you want to count something about Dick and Dora and them finding a long-lost cat. Little Gems stories are max 3000 words and this year’s theme is Sapphires. So a sapphire has to feature somewhere.

I sat down to watch the start of the Hobart cricket test (yes, procrastinating again from my WIP and blaming cricket). It was raining and the start was delayed and so I wandered into the computer room.

This whisper of an idea for Little Gems had been swirling in my mind. The kids were being beautifully behaved and happy drawing (and playing Sharp Tooth – which is my youngest son’s version of Dinosaur games), and I just sat down at the computer and everything flowed. By 11am, I was already half-way to my 3000 words and I’d reread them a few times.

About that time, my eldest son started asking about a trip to the playground. Because the muse was flowing, I was tempted to say, “later mate”… but then I changed my mind and we all traipsed down to the playground. It was a fast traipse because my three-year-old took off on me and my five-year-old (appropriately dressed in his Superman suit) and I had to catch him before the road. (And the little bugger is getting fast!) We had a great hour down at the local school playground and oval.

Then it was back for lunch and I sat down again to write and by about 2 or 3pm, I’d finished 3000 words, with another couple of read-throughs. By 4 o’clock. I was calling it finished. I even flagged it on Facebook.

Cate Ellink wrote back that if: “everyone had days like that, everyone would be a writer.” She’s right. I told my husband about my day this morning (he works Saturdays). I even let him read the story – which is the first time he’s read anything I’ve written. Getting 3000 words in a day and feeling like they’re good – it’s gold. There are days I write nothing, and days I do worse than nothing (write crap that gets deleted).

One of the things I struggle with is balancing being a mum with my writing. Sometimes I have these magic days, like yesterday, when I feel like I’ve achieved what I want to achieve, and my kids have had a good day too. We finished the day by picking zucchinis (I have a bumper crop) and delivering them up the road to friends where the kids had a play.

It was only much later, when I switched on the Channel 7 news and saw the dramas of another mass shooting in America, that the rest of the world broke in upon my dreamy little bubble. I don’t know the answers. I don’t begin to understand the politics of their problem. But I so hope they can find a way.

Blogs, Books and DANG BIG THINGS…

I’ve had some big days in recent weeks, but today just takes the cake. I can only imagine how I might feel the day my book actually hits the shelves, err… cyberspace.

Jenn J Mcleod, who is about to release her debut book House For All Seasons in March, and is also now an official radio and television megastar in the mould of Dame Edna, who by the way I am going to see in Adelaide on her farewell tour in January – but I digress. (I do that). Where was I?

Yes! Jenn J Mcleod has invited me to be part of a blog hop tour called The Next Big Thing. Jenn plus four author friends Allison Tait, Kerrie Patterson and Cate Ellink and yours truly have ten questions each to answer about our book(s). And we also have an official group called the DIGRITS (as to how we got our name, my lips are sealed.)

Plus: Jenn has invited me to be on her Author Harvest blog, which is a series I love reading, and I’ve found out so much about chickens and gnomes from all the talented people who’ve been on her site this year, I am thrilled to be part of it. I had to share just a taste, this was one of my favorite responses to Jenn’s big: “Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road” question, by Kylie Ladd:

JJM: Now for the big question… Why did the chicken cross the road?

KL: Our chickens are so very stupid I have no idea why they do anything. Yesterday a dragonfly buzzed near them while they were sitting together on the lawn. They jumped up in a panic and ran straight into each other. Crossing an entire road would be well beyond them.  

Where was I? (Laughing again at the idea of Kylie’s crazy chickens).

Yes! Thrilled to be part of Author Harvest. Thanks for asking me Jenn!

And so, I went off to my email inbox hunting all these blog questionnaires and also looking for notice from OzSales about my Christmas outfit that has YET to arrive and I bought it online WEEKS ago!! (Yep, digressing again…) And there I found this one:

Ping!

“I have just assigned an editor to work with you on His Brand of Beautiful. Her name is [blanked out – oh this confidentiality until the contract is signed is killing me], and she is really enthusiastic about getting your work ready for publication. She will be working with you directly, which will allow you both more freedom to work to your own schedule.

[Blanked out] has been informed of the final and only due date of February 1 2013, which is when she will need to send us the final edited copy so we can release your title in March 2013. [SQQUUUUEEEEEE] I will be sending [blanked out] your manuscript today, so you should hear from her in the near future.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries along the way, and in the meantime I hope you find the editing process rewarding!”

SQUEEEEEEEEE! Now I think I’m gonna go do twenty cartwheels on the lawn. (ahem-in my dreams).

So excited! Thank you world.

But I wanted a signed copy

Oops…

In our family the news is out. My two lovely Aunts have heard from my mother that I have a book contract in the wings and one Aunt said to mum… “I want a copy of Lily’s book and I want it personally signed…”

My mother dutifully passed on this message yesterday and the conversation went like this:

“That’s great, Mum. But it’s going to be an e-book.”

Cue silent pause, which I fill. “It’s an electronic book, Mum. You need a thing called a Kindle to read it.”

“Oh. It’s not a book then?”

“It’s a book. It’s just not printed out.”

“Oh,” more pause. “How much does a Kindle thing cost?” Her voice goes a little squeaky at the end.

“You can get all types, mum, with a zillion bells and whistles, but the one I want for Christmas is about $120.”

“Oh.” Brightens. “It’s not thousands then.”

“No. Not thousands, mum.”

But I can’t imagine either of my Aunts rushing out to buy a Kindle. And my mother has yet to master the sending of a text. She is certain if she touches a computer she will break it, and the idea of using a mouse makes her look for the highest place to leap.

Make no mistake. My mother is still thrilled, but I don’t think the idea of there being an electronic book ever occurred to her, much less that her daughter might write one.

I shall have to sign my Kindle and let my Aunt read it there… 😉

Lost: writing willpower. I blame Warnie

I have the first draft of the first book I started in late 2010, just after we moved into our new house (yes the house we’ve now just sold – I get itchy feet easy). That draft needs a lot of work, but I thought that I’d find it easy to move into new versions of that book after I’d finished His Brand Of Beautiful.

Oh I wish it had all proved that simple.

I have really struggled to get invested again in this first book, called Fringe Benefits and I don’t know what the problem is. Everything I’ve read talks about starting your next book while the first one is in whatever stage it’s in, e.g. finished, on the query train, on a shelf (or computer folder), or in that hoped-for state called publication

I’m lucky that His Brand Of Beautiful has now been accepted by a publisher, but since I finished the book I’ve found myself in this dreadful limbo. I’m procrastinating my butt off when I feel like I should be working. Either writing the new story, or promoting HBOB (or myself, somehow).

I’m checking Facebook a zillion times a day. Every time I think I’ll just sit down to write… I make a coffee instead (Nespresso makes good coffee way too easy). I’m reading blogs. I watched just about every ball bowled in the South African/Australian cricket test series. I’m watching movies, including one piece of idiocy last night called “Kill List” that if you ever see in a store, do yourself a favor and pass it by. I didn’t get to the end but hubby did out of sheer bloody-mindedness because he was the one who picked it out. See – case in point – I’m even procrastinating and digressing within my own darn blog. Movie reviewer!? Please!

When the stories broke about Warnie returning to test cricket… I read every word, every comment. I’m stalking Warnie on Twitter. It would be SO great if he came out of retirement… for the rest of my life I will think he left the game too early.

Wise heads who I’ve met recently had this to say:

“The one thing I always say to ‘newbie’ authors and some ‘oldies’ that just don’t get it is the best promo you can do for your book is release the next one. Backlist is gold. The more books you have the more money you’ll earn.”

She is so very right and I’m trying. I want to keep writing…

There’s been a lot going on, (cue the excuses) we sold our house, we’re moving interstate etc. My youngest son is now 3. When I first started writing he used to have two-hour naps during the day, which he’s since thrown and so I’ve lost what used to be my most productive writing time. I don’t feel like waiting until the kids are in bed to write. I feel freshest during the day.

Still, I think there’s light at the end of my procrastination tunnel. In the end, I found that light by getting out the laptop, pulling up the old story, and making myself read it and write, even though I didn’t really feel in the mood. Wednesday night. Thursday (day and night) and this morning, I’ve been at it. And gradually the muse is returning along with the words.

I think part of my reason for procrastination, if I’m honest, is a return of that mother guilt I struggled (and struggle) so much with. I know now how much of my time His Brand Of Beautiful consumed for 18 months.

I know what that meant for my family, and I’ve been reluctant to ‘go there’ again, because that means a return to the feeling that I’m not giving enough or doing enough with the kids (and school holidays are coming up…)

Writing is such a selfish thing to choose to do. I think a psychologist would say I need to give myself permission to be selfish again… (but Freud, I ain’t. I’m not even Freud’s toe-nail.)

In the meantime, when I was procrastinating, I found these great quotes on the Goodreads site about procrastination and I thought I’d share.

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Mark Twain.

“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” Bill Watterson. (I like this one – I identify with it!)

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Pablo Picasso. (Now that’s a little intense!)