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Proud Member Of The Sale-A-Day Club, Chrome Is Quite Good, Kindle In Japan (potential?)

Three sales today, which means I have eight for May, which means I have a sale-a-day! Hurrah! Very happy about this. They’re all US sales so far, hoping to catch a DE sale before the end of the month. Maybe I should do another giveaway … next I think I’d do Miya Black, since the third book is coming out soon (didn’t quite achieve all my goals yesterday but got the first three chapters edited).

Chrome continues to impress. The translation feature is kind of magic, I’ve been spending some time on Amazon.de for promotional purposes and it’s amazing to just click a button and suddenly be able to understand everything on the page.

Interesting discussion with Super-Wife today about Kindle in Japan–we both agreed that it would be a huge success there, Japan has, I believe (but may be wrong), the biggest publishing industry in the world, and Japanese people generally read a lot, especially those who commute, and we all know of Japan’s love of gadgets and technology. So why hasn’t Amazon targeted it yet? I think it might be because of the way Japanese books are printed, up-to-down rather than left-to-right. Huge hassle to implement in HTML so it’d have to be some kind of custom interpreter–what I mean is that the book itself would be generated from HTML, but with a “This is a Japanese book” tag included so the Kindle would know to display each paragraph up-to-down. It could be done, it wouldn’t be TOO difficult, but it would require changes in the Kindle itself. I’m not sure if this could be handled with an update, or if new hardware/hardcoding would be necessary. Actually, I’m not even sure if the Kindle can display Japanese characters at the moment, I’ll have to do some experiments.

Anyway, the iPhone is apparently reasonably popular in Japan, so I think maybe I’ll try to get a headstart on things by just tentatively doing a teeny bit of promotion on Japanese sites. This is one area in which writing YA gives me a bit of an advantage, since it’s quite popular with ESLstudents looking to practise their language skills. I could even write some short stories aimed at language students, in English and Japanese with study notes–at 99 cents a pop and readable on an iPhone, I could see those being quite popular.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Lovely Feedback, Beautiful Plumage

Goodness, if you want to attract traffic to your bjournal, talk about Game of Thrones. Seriously.

Some lovely, lovely feedback about Imogen Shroud lately, I’m just so grateful for it all. For all of it. I’m grateful for … oh, I give up. I’m a writer, you know!

My favourite bit from the latest review: “I did notice a little odd punctuation in the first chapter…” Maybe I’m just a huge self-deprecation fan (and also a bit weird) (“A bit?”), but from now on whenever I talk about Imogen Shroud I’m going to preface everything with, “Well, the punctuation is a little odd in the first chapter, but…”

Seriously though, a lovely, thoughtful review. That’s what matters to me, I’d rather get a one star review where the reviewer has taken the time to write why they disliked the book, than a five star review that’s just “Great book!”–although with that said, I’d also greatly appreciate that “Great book!” review. I certainly don’t want to sound like I wouldn’t, because I would, but to see that someone’s taken a little of their valuable time to write about something I’ve created, it’s just wonderful. Writing is a lonely sort of thing, even when you’ve got the support of a great community of indie authors, external validation is so important and so very appreciated. As a writer, self-doubt is my constant companion. Sometimes the little snot’s useful, but most of the time he just makes life difficult.

Actually, my favourite comment/compliment about Imogen Shroud so far was, “Are you sure you’re not a secret smoker?”. I’ve never had a cigarette in my life, so I worked hard to figure out what it’s like to be a smoker, and I’m glad that I managed to convey how difficult it is to be chained to that particular habit. When I decided to make Imogen a smoker (not much of a decision actually, at least not on my part, she just took out a pack during outlining and I went with it) I knew I couldn’t be half-arsed about it–if I was going to have a character smoke, then it absolutely had to feel true. Although I’ve never smoked and can’t say I’ve ever been addicted to anything (for example, as much as I joke about tea, I don’t actually need it), I’ve seen how very, very difficult it is to quit (more difficult, I imagine, than anything I’ve ever had to do) and how much the habit can dominate a person’s life. And so even during a zombie apocalypse, Imogen is constantly (even when I don’t state it explicitly) thinking about when and how and where she can have her next smoke. There are dozens of little notes all through the outline–“Imogen would quite like a cigarette” “Imogen would really like a cigarette now please” “IMOGEN NEEDS TO SMOKE NOW DAMN IT NOW”–which, of course, aren’t in the novel itself, but represented by Imogen’s mood getting worse and her getting snappier and twitchier. Another thing about smoking that came up again and again in my research was how when you actually had your cigarette (or fix, I researched general addiction as well) everything else kind of faded away and became unimportant, and so in part this became Imogen’s coping mechanism with everything that was going on, her little bastion of sanity and comfort in this terrifying new reality she finds herself in. And I know this marks me as pedantic and obsessive (ie as a writer), but I had a seperate text file just for ‘cigarettes left in the pack’, and marked them off whenever she had one. It would bug me if, in a novel, a character smoked twenty-two cigarettes from a pack of twenty. It matters! It might seem like such a small, insignificant thing, but it matters to me that I got it right.

(Cue realisation that Imogen smoked twenty-two cigarettes from a pack of twenty. I checked three times but even so…)

Oh, yes! Someone rated Miya Black I & II on Goodreads! I don’t know why but I found that rather exciting. Three stars for each, I think that’s great! I don’t understand people who consider a three star rating ‘bad’, to me that means “I liked it but it wasn’t amazing/had some flaws/didn’t have enough romance” (seriously I should’ve put more romance in those books, it’s the number one complaint about them) (later volumes have more in the way of romantic subplots, I promise, book four has a really dishy pirate captain Miya refuses to think of as ‘gorgeous’) (although it could be said that ALL of the Miya Black books are the story of the love between a girl and her home … no? Worth a try). In any case, I’m perfectly happy with that reaction, and gratified that the reader took the time to rate my books (also to read them both).

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Hands Up Who Likes Me!

Two more lovely-jubbly sales today, both UK, one Miya Black and one Miya Black II, YAY. It’s odd that reviews don’t carry over between sites, the books are exactly the same, after all. But anyway who cares, sales! (It’s probably getting old, me getting excited about every single little sale. But it’s always so exciting, every time.)

With these two sales, I’m close to a sale a day for April, if you add them all up and spread them out through the month. Granted, a lot of that is to do with releasing ImoShrou, but still, I’ll take whatever I can get. I wonder now if part of the reason Miya Black is doing better than anything else is that it’s part of a series, and that the second book has already been released. I know I’m more likely to try a book if there are others after it. Maybe I’ll see a bump in sales for my other books once I finish the sequels.

Speaking of that, more outlining for Against Darker Days yesterday. I’m about halfway through the second and third storylines–these two have more interaction than the first storyline, so at certain points I have to stop and check what the other characters are doing. Lining everything up is going to be hard work, but I’m marking all the points where an extra day or two could be added or subtracted easily. I’ve also downloaded a program called Text Block Writer which seems good–you make little blocky notes and can then move them around as you like, I imagine this could be useful when the time comes to organise all of these storylines.

In any case, although it’s hard work, I’m really happy with how things are going. Structurally, at the least, this book is going to be pretty solid.

Also, wow! 106 people requesting The Boy & Little Witch, 38 requesting Birds of Passage! It’s kind of validating to see this kind of interest, if only for my poor fragile writer’s ego it’s been good to do these giveaways. Like some kind of genius I’ve managed to get both giveaways to end within a day of each other (some kind of genius as in, “Nice going, genius“), but still. I only have to write 25 emails a day for two subsequent days, that’s not too taxing. Really kind of glad I set the limit at 25 now. Writing 100 emails is not my idea of a good time.

It’s hard to pick a favourite Big Train sketch, since there are so many great ones. But I think this is up there:

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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New Cover, New Sales, #8 Pirate Book IN THE WORLD (of Amazon)

Two sales today! One of Charlotte Powers, one of Miya Black. Hopefully with the new cover for Birds of Passage I might start seeing some sales for that, too. In any case, once it goes live I’ll start a LibraryThing giveaway. Here’s the final cover, just a few tiny tweaks and changes and tidyings:

Very happy with the way it turned out. It also has the Super-Wife seal of approval, which counts for a lot.

Also also, Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns is now #8 in the overall Action & Adventure / Pirates section. I don’t mean just the Kindle category (still #1 there, yay), but even including physical books. Pretty fun, right?

Also, wow, in the time it’s taken me to write this bjournal post the new cover for Birds Of Passage is already live:

Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage

And looking fairly snazzy, if I do say so myself. Let’s see if this doesn’t attract a few sales.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Doing Just Fine

I sold three copies of Imogen Shroud overnight! Yay! YAY! I know this is the honeymoon period, new release and all that, but still, yay! Oh, so exciting. Releasing a new book is great. I’m getting lots of great feedback about ImoShrou’s cover and title, which is lovely–I just had such a good feeling about them, the title especially, and it’s always nice to have your feelings validated. And the idea for the cover came to me pretty much instantly, fully-formed, black-on-white, Imogen standing there with the zombies behind her–it went through several variations but the final cover is close to my original digital sketch. In fact:

Same concept, improved execution. Also, it seems like some people are a bit sick of gory zombie covers–there was a thread about it on Amazon’s ‘Zombie’ community, and a lot of the indie zombie books I’ve seen have used the same photos (which aren’t particularly good to begin with) (but then I don’t really like photo covers for books). I think the non-gory, more abstract, non-photographic cover is a nice point of difference. Hopefully in six months when it (also hopefully) starts showing up on the ‘also-bought’ lists of other zombie books, it’ll stand out as interesting and encourage people to take a look.

Today, more outlining for Against Darker Days, and probably some family activities. It’s a crisp, clear early Autumn day, so maybe a drive to see the changing colours, that’d be fun.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Best Sales I Ever Had, Taking A Break, Autumn’s Comin’, Where I Live

Today is my best sales day ever, and it’s still only ten o’clock! Of course, that’s got a lot to do with releasing Imogen Shroud yesterday, but still. I’ve sold six books today! That’s amazing! Especially since one of them is Miya Black II, gosh I love it when that one sells. Probably I should work on getting Miya Black III out.

But I think instead I’m going to have a day off, a proper day off. I’m going to take my family to the museum, there’s an exhibit about the early settling of Nelson that I’m interested in–I LOVE that stuff, it makes me excited just to think about it, the thought of people coming to a wild place and building from nothing. Also, it’s sunny today! Finally some nice weather. I know it’s Autumn but the weather’s been just miserable lately, I’m so happy to see blue skies and hear birds singing. And I can see the hills! Autumn’s creeping over them, slowly but surely. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a good rainy day, or the way the hills get shrouded in mist, but it does start to wear after a couple of days.

Video for this happy cheery not-really-writing-related post? Here’s a little look at where I live, narrated by a guy with an Australian accent (“It’s like the evil version of our accent” – Jemaine, FotC). It took me far too long to find this, there’s a shocking paucity of Nelson, NZ videos on YouTube. Anyway:

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Review: Get!

Today, I got my first real (ie not from my dad) review, for Resonance: Birds Of Passage. I’m going to reproduce it here, because I’m happy and excited and happy (I know I said that already but I’m double-happy):

“Birds of Passage is one of the most unusual books I’ve ever read. It starts off with a series of `vignettes’ introducing a quite daunting number of characters, all with one common thread. Normally, I might have seen this vast array of characters and put the book down as `too confusing’. But it was never confusing, simply because each and every character is carefully and uniquely drawn so that they stay individuals, easy to distinguish throughout the book.

The threads of the vignettes are then drawn together into one story, a story that twists and turns and grows ever more exciting. Under the watchful eye of Fin, the young characters come together to a common purpose, to find a statue lost by Fin long ago. Or is that the real purpose? Fin is kept tantalisingly mysterious, so that the reader is never really sure what it is that he’s aiming for. Meanwhile others with similar powers are also being gathered by another, their motives more sinister.

I can’t say I `liked’ the ending, but I did like the fact that the temptation to let the `goodies’ win and the `baddies’ lose wasn’t taken. It’s an ending that leaves the reader thinking and in my case, very much looking forward to the sequel.

While the premise of the book – people with super powers being drawn together for whatever purpose – may not be entirely original, the execution of it in Birds of Passage is creative. It’s well written, interesting, and thought-provoking. All in all, a very good read.”

PERFECT REVIEW. Not because of the five stars (did I mention this wonderful person gave it five stars? This wonderful person gave it five stars) but because of the understanding. Isn’t this what all artists strive for? To entertain, and to have their work be understood. It’s just … it’s just so nice when someone gets what you were trying to do. Honestly, it made me cry.

Very, very happy.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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One Sale A Day Is Fine (Actually It’s Great), Fairytale-X, Kay Nielsen, Zane Grey

Sold, another, book today. Sold another, book today. (That was my attempt at type-singing, by the way, not a Shatner impression.) (Although actually that could be fun, let’s try that.)

Today I sold … another book. Didn’t expect to. But when I … checked … the report. Well. There … it was.

You know what that means? One a day for three days in a row! That’s fantastic! Moving forward, slowly but surely, always moving forward.

Today I’m seriously considering putting out an older book that I’d previously labelled ‘not quite good enough for public consumption’. Why? Because I had a look at it and it made me laugh. It’s basically a bunch of fairy tales told through the confused-but-enthusiastic voice of a teenage guy–a little like MST3K but for the weirdness of old stories (and seriously, some of them are really, really weird). Tentatively titled “Fairytale-X”. Here’s a snippet of a cover test:

Instantly you can see some problems with it–so obvious I need not even point them out–but this is kind of the idea I’m going for, except I’d also put some more modern images over the ‘classic’ picture, possibly sellotaped on with torn edges, to represent a modern perspective on an old story. It’s not like I’ve shoved fighter jets and machineguns into the stories, just … hmm. Actually that might misrepresent things a little. I’ll have to think about this more.

The background image I’m using is by my absolute favourite illustrator of classic tales, Kay Nielsen, probably most famous for his (amazing) work on East Of The Sun and West Of The Moon. This image in particular I’ve always loved:

Flowing, lonely, otherworldly, and I mean just look at the composition, just LOOK at it. Every element perfectly balanced, the colours, the shapes, it’s perfect, is what it is. Just perfect.

I’ve wanted to get into westerns for a while now, but it was my father who finally connected me with a writer I could really get into–Zane Grey. Incredible writing. I’m reading Desert Gold at the moment and on almost every page I’m highlighting passages, I actually find it difficult not to read it aloud (in, of course, a weary, dusty, gravelly voice). You can find a lot of his books at Project Gutenburg, if you’ve any interest at all in good solid writing go take a look. Hard to believe they were written a hundred years ago.

“The desert surrounded him, silver-streaked and black-mantled, a chaos of rock and sand, silent, austere, ancient, always waiting. It spoke to Cameron. It was a naked corpse, but it had a soul.”
-Desert Gold, Zane Grey

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Happiness, Gleedancing (totally a thing) (but nothing to do with Glee), Miya Black (nothing to do with Rebecca Black), Muffins

Ask me if I’m happy today. Ask ME if I am HAPPY today. Go on. Do it. Do it. Ask me. Do it.

Oh, you’re asking if I’m happy today? No, of course I’m not. Don’t insult me with your questions. “Happy” is far too weak a word, I am gleedancing today. Why? Because someone bought a copy of Miya Black II. Someone bought Miya Black and read it and liked it enough to want to read the next in the series. Do you know how amazing that is? How wonderful? It … it … it can’t be expressed. And I call myself a writer.

Every time this happens I want to just rush out Miya Black III, but I know it needs at last one more proofing run before I do that. There’s no sense in putting something out that’s not ready. These books marked as ‘first edition (unedited)’ irritate me beyond irritation, to me it’s wrong to do that. It’d be like selling muffins that you’re not sure are cooked, then expecting your customers to tell you about the gooey bits in the middle and the little bits of eggshell all through them. And then you don’t even give them a new muffin! Why? Oh, it’s because of Amazon’s weird system, you’d think they’d send everyone an updated copy of the .mobi file if the publisher changed it, but apparently they don’t even if you delete the old one from your Kindle and download it again. Baffling, I know, but oh well. All the more reason to get it right the first time. Which is not to say that I haven’t updated my .mobi files, I’ve caught a couple of minor errors (‘my’ instead of ‘me’, for example), but nothing gamebreaking.

Well, anyway. Still happy. See? This is my ‘happy’ face. And I have a fun-filled day of proofing-and-editing ahead of me, the sun is shining, weather is sweet, yeah. Make you want to move, your dancing feet, now.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Proofing, Suspicious Lack Of Errors, Followers, Fun Panic, Crisis Of Genre, I Love Being An Indie Author

I’m just about finished with the first proofing run on Imogen Shroud–I don’t want to jinx anything but there have been far less errors and clumsy sentences and so forth in this than in other things I’ve written. No major story changes needed, either–not even minor ones actually. Could it be that I’ve produced a near-perfect first draft? But that NEVER happens! Although I did spend a lot more time outlining this one … well, anyway, I’m paranoid about typos and things so I’m going to do at least two more runs through it, but it could be that I’m ready to release it in just a week or two. I’m already getting the pre-release jitters. Note: Have to work on the cover sometime.

Also, as of writing this, I have exactly 100 followers on Twitter. How on earth did that happen? I’ve only been using it a week! This isn’t false modesty or anything, I’m genuinely baffled at this. I am following quite a few people myself, but that’s because … well, people are interesting. Anyway, I’m having fun with it and that’s the main thing. I still think the 140 character limit is about three dozen too short, though.

Had a fun little panic today, a crisis of genre. “Nobody reads young adult fiction! People only want romances with naked torsos on the cover and thrillers and mysteries, even fantasy sells better! There’s no one like me who wants young adult fiction for adults who read young adult fiction, that genre doesn’t even exist! What am I doing?”

Fortunately it passed quickly. I love writing young adult fiction, I don’t care if there’s not much of a market for it. (Well, for non-vampire non-paranormal-romance non-whiny-teenager-complains-about-her-life YA fiction, anyway.) I could force myself to write romances or thrillers or whatever if all I wanted was success, but I know I’d be miserable doing it. Well not MISERABLE, but less happy than I am now, less satisfied with what I produce. I was looking over my novels–the print editions–today, and I couldn’t help thinking, “Six novels in one year, and I’m proud of all of them. This is great, I love what I’m doing, there is no better life than the one I’m leading”. I love being an indie author, I love the indie community, this is all like a fantastic dream. Why yes, I DID sell a book today, how could you tell? In the UK, I have always said that the British have excellent taste. Selling a book is always great.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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