29 January 2017

Author Interview: My Heritage Books

Today I’m in conversation with Rhoda Baxter on her website HERE. We’re talking Heritage Books: which book gifted to me in my early years made such an impression it stayed with me for life, and which I’d like to pass on and why.

Guess which I chose... the clue isn't necessarily in this image.

Discussing which books make an impression in our early years is an interesting concept for an interview, and when a website offers interview spots something out of the norm is needed to draw in readers. It is part of a writer’s marketing strategy and comes under the umbrella of author cross-promotion. It’s the reason Hornsea Writers set up a group website.

Do you read author interviews? What sort of questions do you prefer to see answered? Have you, in fact, a Heritage Book?

If you’re interested, I’ve also been interviewed at Library of Erana and quizzed on a very different set of questions.

21 January 2017

Writing: Back to Basics – Structure

A right taffle
There’s nothing like getting into a taffle while writing a novel. It’s easy to misstep, I’ll grant, even to take a wrong turn, but a true taffle is something I never thought I’d encounter, because in all the short stories and novels I've published it’s not previously occurred. 

I knew something was amiss, but as with that other type of yarn, pictured, I just kept pulling to free the length until it became impossible to pull any longer. That’s when I went back to release the knot, to be faced with a true WTF taffle.

Of course, other writers reading this blog will be rolling their eyes and muttering less pantsing and more planning. And I agree, which is why these past days I’ve been going back to basics: how best to structure a novel?

I know of novelists who brood over a story for months, then hide away hitting 12-14 hour days as they write the entire novel in note form. They sort out the outstanding niggles, then do the research, then calmly start writing the novel with only the barest nod to their previously written skeleton.

I know of novelists who write the plot and the dialogue in omniscient-cum-authorial viewpoint, leave it to fester, then go back in to choose dedicated viewpoints, add in description and tone, and the 101 other technical details that make up a fully-functioning novel, before going through it again with an eye to bolstering an identified theme.

And there’ll be a score or more other systems all serving their authors well. How it is worked matters little. It’s how it works for the individual author – in this case me – that matters. And my chosen method of knowing my destination and driving within the length of my headlights has, on this occasion, failed me.

At its most basic, a story is fuelled by conflict, and the momentum of that conflict can be separated into a structure of five major elements:
  • inciting incident
  • complication
  • crisis
  • climax
  • resolution
This basic structure alone may serve a short story, but for a novel-length project the structure will need interlacing by clones of itself, several clones, with individual elements not necessarily in that order. Each sub-plot will be carried on multiple clones of this basic structure, echoing or reflecting facets of the lead character’s or characters’ joys and woes, all deftly meshing into the main structure as well as into each other.

And this is my taffle. So I am following the cable of my multi-strand novel back to each of its structural elements to discover which has, or have, a mismatched clone that’s not reflecting in the direction it should. Wish me luck.

Next time I may opt for more planning and less pantsing. Once bitten, and all that.

[image courtesy of Vickisdesigns, Pixabay.com]

14 January 2017

Discounted Historicals - Final Weekend

There's nothing like stocking up your e-reader with titles from authors new-to-you, and discounted promotions are a simple way to widen your reading horizon in the genre or genres you prefer. Last weekend it was Science Fiction & Fantasy - see HERE.

This weekend the chosen genre is Historical Fiction, the promotion being run by Ryn Shell, and my offered novel is Beneath The Shining Mountains

The book has an interesting history. It's an indie-published re-issue of a novel that was never meant to be written. You know how it goes, the given wisdom is "write at least three books in a given world". 

My writing world at the time was Medieval Historical. I'd won a minor national award for my sweet romance Hostage of the Heart, the sales had been very reasonable, and my publishers invited me down to London to discuss my follow-up over lunch. Oh, the heady days of being taken out to lunch by a London publisher!

I travelled prepared, with a synopsis and what I thought was a good line in chat to enthuse the editor. We ate lunch, wine flowed, the small-talk moved to business, I proposed my coming project. 'We've enough Medieval,' she said. 'Write me a Regency.' 

I couldn't have been more taken aback if I'd been slapped across the face with a wet haddock. How did writing Medieval equate to writing Regency? Had the editor no concept of the amount of research I'd undertaken, would have to undertake to move into a new time period? Besides, I'd been force-fed "Mr Darcy" et al when a teenager at school. I didn't like the period, or the strata of society it focused on.

'So what can you write?' she asked, and the look I was given left me in no doubt that my writing career hung in the balance. And what period could I write that wasn't Medieval? '19th century Native North American,' I said. 'I belong to a living history group. We make costume and holiday in a tipi and I've over 200 research--'

It was the sneer and the dismissive wave of the hand that did it, that and too much wine. I can recall leaning across the table and the editor backing off as my voice shot across the space between us stating rather forcefully If I can't make a six foot, sun-tanned man with raven-black hair sexy...

The upshot was that I could write it and they'd see. I did write it. The publisher took it, and it sold over 30,000 copies. When my rights to it reverted I ditched the crass title it had been hobbled with and reverted to my original. It might not have sold another 30,000 copies, yet, but it is still my best-seller. Enjoy.

7 January 2017

Discounted eBooks Extravaganza!

Readers of this blog will realise that I'm dipping my toes into the world of author cross-promotions. I won't say that it is highly lucrative, at least for me, but it is an exceptionally worthwhile learning curve where marketing my books is concerned. This month I am engaged in two: 7-8th and 14-15th.

The first, with 100+ SciFi & Fantasy titles, kicks off today at http://pattyjansen.com/promo

My offered ebook is The Bull At The Gate being offered for 99p / 99c on all major e-retailers. Click the above link, choose your preferred e-retailer, and a host of ebook covers opens itching to be checked out.

It will seem strange that the second in a trilogy is offered at 99p/c when the first is full price - well it did to me - so I'm discounting Torc of Moonlight by a third from its normal price to £1.99 / $2.99 or equivalent. Direct links are below:

Amazon  ¦  iBooks  ¦  Kobo  ¦  Nook  ¦  Smashwords

More to the point, these discounted prices will be held until Sunday 15th.
Out of the blue I was offered a place on a Historical cross-promotion that runs 14-15th January, and I decided to enter Beneath The Shining Mountains into the Histfiction.com 99p / 99c promotion alongside other authors' titles

However, how many emails and notifications do I want to send? It seemed far simpler to put these three novels on promotion at the same time. So here are the direct links for Beneath The Shining Mountains:

Amazon  ¦  iBooks  ¦  Kobo  ¦  Nook  ¦  Smashwords

Enjoy! Me? I think I need to lie down in a darkened room. Or perhaps just get on with the final in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy. Now there's a novel idea...