Suddenly Hybrid—Mixing Trad with Indie

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After eighteen years of writing, eight of those as an Indie author publishing my own books, I have just signed a two-book deal with a publisher called Bookouture—recently cited by Publisher’s Weekly as ‘Britain’s hottest digital publisher.’

Bookouture has been in my radar for a while. The name is so me, I thought. It sounded so chic, somehow, as if the editors were all wearing designer clothes, carried the manuscripts in Prada handbags and walked around in Jimmy Choo shoes. The office would have Chanel no 5 wafting through the air conditioning and they’d only ever drink vintage champagne and eat caviar and croissants for breakfast. Heaven.

Joking aside, when I looked at their website and saw the great books they publish and the lovely covers they design, I thought they might be the right fit for me. I also read some of their books in my genre and loved them. So… why not jump in and have a go? Feeling I had nothing to lose, I submitted The Road Trip, my just completed book, in early December. They made me an offer in early January and the rest, as they say, is history. I signed a two-book contract last week.

It feels like a whole new chapter is opening in my writing life and I’m both excited and nervous. I hope I can live up to the expectations, but with the help of my terrific new editor Christina Demosthenous , I’m sure I will.

Some of my author colleagues might wonder though… Why sign with a publisher when I have been happily (and quite successfully) self-publishing for over eight years? This might look like I am now contradicting all the glowing things I’ve said about self-publishing, all the cheering and being proud to be an Indie and how I’d never give my work away to one of ‘them’ ever again, like a mantra. Was it a case of ‘the lady doth protest too much?’ Or sour grapes about not being traditionally published?

Not at all.  I meant what I said and I still do. But I feel Bookouture is a new kind of publisher—the kind that really ‘get’ e-publishing and the ever changing market. I also think that this new kind of publishing has happened because of what we as Indies have done. We made the market what it is today, and I’m very proud of what we have all achieved.

I will probably mix self-publishing with trad publishing along the way, like a lot of so-called hybrid authors. Exciting times ahead, indeed.

The Road Trip, My first Bookouture book will be published in June. You can read all about it on the Bookouture blog.

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FULL IRISH- A Political Suspense Like No Other

Full Irish Cover MEDIUM WEB

 

I was going to be lazy- as it’s Saturday night- and just reblog Pete’s’ post  But then I thought I should really give my own take on our collaboration of this quirky, fun political suspense, full of twists and turns and dark humour.  I owe it to Pete, as he put such hard work and effort into it. We both did. I’m very driven as a writer but, to my surprise, so is he, which I didn’t expect at the start. The fact that we’re both impatient and a little pedantic caused a tiny bit of friction at the beginning of our collaboration, as the frustration of trying to match our styles and ideas grew. It was little bit like the push-me-pull-you animal in Doctor Dolittle, pulling in different directions. But with time, we adapted and found a good way to write together. I think, as the project took shape, we parked our egos at the door, so to speak, and started to care about the story and how to make it the best we could. Any collaboration has its teething problems, of course, but it didn’t take us long to find a smooth path and then we were rolling and enjoying the journey.

I have known Pete a number of years, ever since the good-ol’ Authonomy days and we have been great Internet friends since then. I have enjoyed his honesty and wry humour on many occasions. But one especially comes to mind. I few years ago, I was invited to take part in a chat show on national radio here in Ireland. Eamon Delaney and I were going to talk about our different experiences of life in the Irish diplomatic service. This was toward the end of the Celtic Tiger era and RTE still had money to spend on tiny ‘celebs’ such as me. I was put up at a swanky hotel in Dublin at their expense the night before the show. Finding myself all alone in this hotel room, I thought I’d message a friend to show off. Nobody was available, expect Pete who, to my e-mail of ‘woohoo, guess where I am, etc’ just replied: ‘stay away from the minibar’. Which made me laugh and also put me firmly in my place.

We started exchanging ideas at the beginning of May, outlining plot and characters, and got stuck into the real work about a week later. Since then, we have worked at a steady pace all through the summer months and into autumn, and here we are-with  a finished, polished, edited novel ready to go in just under six months.

What is it about? The story in a nutshell:

A Dublin reporter is on a mission to find the murderer of an honest politician and close friend. A Boston lawyer is hired to dig up dirt on a conniving Irish competitor.

When the two collide at a famous County Kerry castle and discover their mutual interests, the ensuing game plan is more Pink Panther than Hercule Poirot.

Full Irish marks the return of Paul Forté and his wife, Shannon, and the introduction of Finola McGee. In a sometimes madcap, sometimes dark adventure, Shannon lands a blow against lecherous politicians, McGee shows off her pole dancing prowess, an Anglo-Irish butler turns double-agent, and the zygomatic bone takes disproportionate abuse. But can the trio unravel the web of conspiracy stretching from the back corridors of Leinster House to the polished inner sanctum of the Massachusetts Senate?

Against the backdrop of the windswept west coast of Ireland and the watering holes of Dublin and Boston, Full Irish exposes a rivalry that goes to the very heart of politics.

 

We loved writing it. We hope readers will love it even more.

FULL IRISH will be published at the end of November.

 

http://petemorin.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/a-full-irish-holiday/

 

Summer is the Season for Shorts

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 Who reads short stories? I do. I love well written short stories. I don’t attempt them because they are notoriously difficult to write. Only a really gifted author can write a good short story. And, to quote some famous authors:

A short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger. ~Stephen King

Women want love to be a novel, men a short story. ~Daphne du Maurier

A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it. ~Edgar Allan Poe

The short story is still like the novel’s wayward younger brother, we know that it’s not respectable – but I think that can also add to the glory of it. ~Neil Gaiman

When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you. ~George Saunders

My friend, fellow writer Pete Morin, with whom I have the pleasure and privilege to work on a detective story, writes brilliantly crafted short stories. He is giving one of them away on his blog. This one, with the title Just Desserts is about an author who hunted down a reviewer and harassed her. Brilliant idea for a short story, which will amuse many writers. I have just read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. And when I had finished it, I wondered why on earth more people don’t read such stories; amusing, interesting and in short (pardon the pun) , true gems.

So do go and be ‘kissed in the dark’ by a stranger, enjoy this’ younger brother of a novel’ and come out of it ‘a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you’.

It’ won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time. And it will make a summer’s day all the better for having read it.

 

That empty feeling-when you have published your book…

 

 

I have just published my thirteenth novel, Hot Pursuit , the third and last book in my popular Kerry series. (or ‘Hot’ series, if you prefer). It took me about five months to write, including editing, proofreading, proofreading and more—proofreading. You might think I feel relieved the work is done, that the book is out there in cyberspace to be enjoyed by, hopefully, a lot of readers.

Yes, I’m happy. And also very relieved and proud of my achievement. Writing a novel takes a lot of hard work, soul searching and brain bashing. So having finished a novel that is as good as I can make it is very satisfying.

But then… I miss it. I miss all the characters that became my friends during this time. I miss the fun, the heartache, the wrestling with all their problems. Letting go of that world I created and so enjoyed spending time in was a huge wrench. For five months or so, I lived in Rita’s skin for part of the day, created her problems and tried to solve them. She was me, in a way, and I was her. With her, I fell in love with the hero and tried to make their story as romantic but also as believable as I could. I did my best to describe the setting and truly felt I was there as I wrote. I wore the clothes, drank the wine, danced and made love along with Rita. I was sad for her and laughed at her jokes, and got very, very annoyed with anyone who wasn’t nice to her. I loved her little flat in the outskirts of Dublin, furnished just the way I’d like it myself. I enjoyed the long walks she took on the pier and ‘saw’ the beautiful scenery. The peripheral characters were also fun to write and they were as vivid to me as the people I meet in real life. It all became such a fascinating world and I loved spending time in it.

My baby that has just left the nest

My baby that has just left the nest

I often wonder why writers actually write. What makes them put those first words together for their very first book? I know what made me do it. It all happened during a time when I had a lot of sadness. I started writing a story that was full of light and laughter, where nobody was sad or died or suffered from an illness. My escape, in turn, became that of others who, perhaps, read that story in order to get a break from their own hardships. It helped me. I hope it helped someone else too.

As I went on writing, I drew on my experiences and my stories became more serious, hopefully deeper and more realistic. I feel I have grown so much as a writer since that bright, fun debut novel I wrote nearly fifteen years ago. But every time I’m finished, there is that huge feeling of separation—of having had to leave people I love.

Writing a book is like having a baby. Like carrying this person for nine months and actually feeling you know this small creature. While you’re keeping it inside you, it’s yours alone to nurture and love. But when it’s born, you throw it out there, into the big bad world for all to see. Your baby is the most beautiful thing in the world to you. But not to other people. When the ‘baby’ comes out, you have to stand back and wait for the reactions of others, of readers and reviewers who might not like this new creation of yours. Worst of all—they might even ignore it.

I miss my ‘baby’ and the time when it was only mine. But toward the end it was hard and painful, when I had to do all that proofreading and editing and formatting and reading over and over again.

But then… as with having a baby, you forget the pain and say: ah, why not? I’ll have another one…

As my stories are very character driven, it doesn’t take long before another heroine pops into my head and starts having problems I have to solve for her. Right now, there’s Flora, who has just arrived in Antibes in the south of France to take up employment in a real estate agency with a very dodgy staff. She bumps into this dishy Frenchman and then, well, the rest is still in my head.

But parallel to that, in a kind of twilight zone existence, there is also the heroine of ‘Full Irish’, the crime novel I’m co-writing with fellow crime author Pete Morin. Finola McGee, political reporter for the Irish Herald who, with Boston lawyer Paul Forté of Diary of a Small Fish fame, cracks the case of political corruption across the Atlantic,  is a feisty heroine I’m also beginning to bond with.

Two ‘babies’ this time. I’m sure I’ll miss them both when the stories have reached their conclusion. But the remedy is, as always, starting the next one.

A new (ad)venture- or just a comeback.

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I have just set up an author page on Facebook. I have resisted this move for a long time but now I feel I’m ready. The reason for this is that I recently went back to writing romantic fiction after a long time. I took a little break while I wrote two historical novels, A Woman’s Place and Sonja’s Place and my two virtual detective/romantic suspense novels, Virtual Strangers and Virtual Suspects.

The historical novels are based on the lives of my great-aunt and her daughter, whose life stories were so moving, I just had to write about them. The detective stories were such fun and such a great adventure, co-writing with the amazing Ola Saltin, a well-known Swedish script writer. Those experiences helped me grow as a writer and I believe my writing is now so much better and deeper because I had to really work hard to write in other genres.

I discussed my writing recently with a friend. She told me I my writing should be more ‘commercial’, more ‘popular’ in order to sell. She said the ‘zeitgiest’ out there is what I have to plug into.

But no, I can’t. Because that’s not why I write. I feel I have to be true to myself and not glance sideways or upwards and then write to suit the market, whatever that is. I have to stay true to those who read my books and like them. If that is a very small circle, so be it. I write from my heart and my experiences. My observations of people and my surroundings. Little things fire off ideas. Landscapes, light, nature, sounds, smells, fun dialogue, great one-liners and quirky characters. All of that make up the fabric of my stories.

I’m happy if anyone likes to read what I write.

(and if you ‘like’ my author page, you will find out what all of this is about)

My e-book Experience

I published three of my books as e-books on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle in the beginning of February. Two of those books were from my previously published backlist (‘Fresh Powder’ and ‘Finding Margo’), the third, ‘Swedish for Beginners’, my soon to be published fifth novel. All the books had been professionally edited and proofread, which, to me, is  a must when uploading a novel that you offer for sale. In any case, e-book readers are extremely discerning and expect books they buy online to meet a certain standard. And if they find the book wanting in any way, they will post a bad review on the book’s page for all to see (not happened to me yet).

I priced all my books at $2.99, which seems to hit the right middle ground between not too expensive and and high enough to earn the hard-working author a little bit of money. Priced any higher, the sales slow down and earnings are less. Imagine 10 books @, say, $5.99, compared to several hundred @$2.99. I’m no good at maths but the sales figures and the ‘grand total’ at the bottom of my sales report each day speak for themselves.

It wasn’t the earnings that delighted me the most, however, it was the direct contact with readers. I have been able to reach people right across the globe; in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and all over the US with the e-book versions of my novels. They have sent me e-mails and ‘talked’ to me on various forums, telling me they enjoyed my stories. They also put some wonderful reviews on all my books. The added advantage with e-books is also that they never go out of date. Nobody takes them off the shelves to make space for new releases. They are there for as long as I want them to be and will keep selling (I hope) without going out of date or coming to the end of their shelf-life.

So, in all a very positive move. I am planning to upload more e-books in the future. It appears that if readers like a book, they will look for others by the same author.

A few points to remember:

1) Make sure your book is properly edited, proofread and formatted (I had mine formatted by a professional, which cost me around $50 per book).

2) Have a nice cover. It’s important to spend a little time to do this, whether you do it yourself or get a cover designer do it for you.

3) Promote your book on Face book, Twitter and readers’ and writers’ forums. I like Amazon’s Kindle Authors Forum and Kindle Boards.

The e-book market is already growing very fast in the US and it won’t be long before it picks up in the rest of the world. I don’t think ‘real’ books will ever disappear and e-books will probably not ever be THE market. But it’s going to be a big part of it.

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