Interview with Sue Tingey, Author of the Soulseer Chronicles

After having reviewed the Soulseer Chronicles trilogy (if you missed them, the links for the reviews are Marked https://wp.me/p1UhOl-1Tt , Cursed https://wp.me/p1UhOl-1TB , and Bound https://wp.me/p1UhOl-1TE), I thought it would be great to finish things off with an interview. Luckily for us, Sue had a day free and came over.

Before we start, let’s just have a reminder of those great covers:

Okay, now here’s the interview:

Hello Sue, and welcome to chez-moi. It’s great to have you here.

Thank you Carlie, it was lovely of you to invite me.

Now you’ve got a coffee, shall we make a start?

Fire away!

This first question is one that I know always interests readers. Where did the idea for the Soulseer Chronicles come from?

This is, I’m afraid, a rather long story! I have always been interested in the supernatural, messages from beyond the grave, ghostly experiences and psychic phenomena, but I’d never attempted to write a ghost story. That was until one morning I saw a piece on breakfast TV about a chap who exposed fake psychics. This gave me the first germ of an idea of perhaps writing something about a woman who was not only a ghost hunter but also exposed fraudsters trying to con the bereaved out of money.

And this was what the novel that eventually became Marked was supposed to be about; a couple of psychic investigators. The main protagonist Lucky de Salle was to be a true psychic who really could see the dead. Of course her gift, or some might say curse, has left her alone and considered a weird freak by her peers with her only real friend being a ghost – until she meets Jamie; a fellow damaged soul. He too can see the dead following a tragic and terrifying event when he lost the young woman he loved. From this point the story was to be about Lucky helping Jamie to come to terms with his own psychic abilities and their adventures as they tracked down and exposed frauds and investigated supernatural occurrences.

That was the novel I was supposed to write, but I had barely managed to get the first thousand or so words typed out when I had a seriously scary nightmare, and when I say scary I mean screaming in my sleep and waking my husband up scary.

In my dream it was dark and I was walking towards the narrow passageway that led to the front of the house where I had lived as a child. Out of the shadows a man dressed like an eighteenth century fop appeared and came walking towards me. He didn’t actually say or do anything that was in the least bit frightening, he didn’t have to, he exuded menace and I just knew if he got close enough he was going to do something terrible to me. Then he smiled showing incredibly white, pointed teeth. In my dream I tried to turn and run, but as is often the way in nightmares I couldn’t move and I think that was probably when the screaming that woke my poor husband started. The next day I wrote probably one of the most important scenes in the book using the man from my nightmare and the character of Henri le Dent, assassin to the daemon court of Lord Baltheza, was born and suddenly my ghost hunter story had become something entirely different.

At first I wasn’t at all sure where it was going, but then as the words poured out it went in a direction neither I nor my poor heroine were expecting. Suddenly Lucky’s world was turned upside down, everyone was lying to her; including Jamie and her best friend Kayla, and everyone wanted something from her, but she had no idea what.

Poor Lucky; she wasn’t having much fun. But guess what? I was having a thoroughly brilliant time. I was getting to create a whole new daemon world, with Guardians, Deathbringers and drakons; a world with two suns and two moons; with scarlet trees and rust coloured grass and home to a violent and cruel court ruled by an equally cruel tyrant.

Yep, I was having a great time and I guess you could say that my nightmare changed my life. If I hadn’t dreamed of a an eighteenth century dandy straight out of A Tale of Two Cities I would never have created the character Henri le Dent, Lucky de Salle would never have visited the Underlands, I wouldn’t have written the novel that became Marked and I would probably still be struggling to get published.

What a great story. It just goes to show that we can get inspiration from so many different things. And I know what you mean about a story idea dramatically changing – it happened to me when I wrote Heart Search: Lost.

Next one. Do you have a favourite character from the trilogy? If so, who is it and why?

That is a difficult one. I love all my characters. My favourites are Pyrites, the drakon, and Kerfuffle and Shenanigans and obviously Lucky herself, but I guess Jamie and Jinx are the ones I adore and if you really pushed me I’d have to say Jinx. I guess because although he is the bringer of death and destruction he’s probably the most vulnerable. He’s funny and witty, but it’s a cover to mask how deep he really is and how doing his job causes him immeasurable heartbreak.

I love Jinx too, especially when he’s being a bit naughty! And I’d love a drakon like Pyrites.

How did you get your book deal with Jo Fletcher Publishing?

I guess if you ask an aspiring author who has been persevering for some time what one of the best feelings in the world is, they would probably say getting any interest at all in one of their works. So when on 31st January 2014 I received an email headed up ‘Submission’ from Jo Fletcher Books, I hardened my heart for a ‘thanks, but no thanks’, and thought well, at least they replied.

It started off in the usual way ‘thanks for your submission. Sorry it’s taken so long’ and I thought here we go. Then to my complete and utter surprise, they asked to see the rest of the book. There was much punching of the air and later that evening the popping of corks. I had jumped the first hurdle – and I am a firm believer in celebrating life’s small victories.

Of course I was excited, but I tried not to get too much so. I had got this far and this was good, but I didn’t want to build up my hopes only to have them dashed. So when an email arrived about three weeks later headed up with my novel’s previous title I was ready for rejection. What I didn’t expect was to be asked if I’d like to come up to meet with the Jo Fletcher of Jo Fletcher Books and editor, Nicola Budd.

I got very excited then – publishers are busy people – they don’t ask you to meetings if they’re not at all interested. So I phoned up, made the appointment and popped another bottle of fizz. Then I got an email from Nicola saying ‘by the way if you can bring any material you might have for the rest of the trilogy or series we’d love to see it’. Trilogy? Series? Gulp!

What followed was ten days of frenzied activity where I wrote the first 8000 words of the second book and a mini synopsis of where I saw books two and three going. The period of ten days that I thought was going to be an unbearable wait now seemed far too short.

So on 3rd April 2014 I travelled up to London a complete bundle of nerves. I was met upstairs by Nicola and it didn’t take long for us to be chatting away about everything but the book. Then Jo arrived and we got down to business. Jo and Nicola had five pages of notes. It started with a paragraph telling me what they liked about my novel. Then four and a half pages of things that they didn’t exactly not like, but felt needed changing.

‘Okay,’ I said and at that point thought they’d say, ‘well, off you trot. Come back when you’ve made the changes and we’ll see what we can do.’ What Jo actually said was, ‘I’d like to offer you a three book deal’.

Oh blimey! A three book deal!!!! I think my mouth must have dropped right open and I’m actually surprised I didn’t fall off the chair.

What a wonderful surprise for you. Something like that is what every writer dreams of!

What are the chances of you writing another book in the Soulseer Chronicles, especially bearing in mind the news imparted in the last chapter of Bound?

As much as I’d like to write another chapter in Lucky’s story I think it’s very unlikely that even if I did it would get published. Being a debut author today is difficult. If no one knows the book is out it won’t get sales and if the people who do read it and like it don’t post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads it won’t get sales. Sadly, although Marked made back it’s advance so far the rest of the series haven’t. I did get good reviews for Marked including a starred review on the Booklist in the States. However, I haven’t given up all hope. Last time I saw Jo she said that you can never tell what will happen – a book can be a really slow burner and then suddenly start selling terribly well, so fingers crossed! Perhaps you’ll get me some new readers!

Actually, I think I already have judging by a couple of comments I’ve received. I really hope you will get some new readers as a result of my reviews. As you said — fingers crossed!

What sort of reaction have you had from other writers since Marked was first published?

Writers on the whole are a friendly lot and most want other authors to succeed; it’s not a competition. I’ve made some good author friends at the conferences. The JFB authors are lovely and very supportive. It’s a bit like one big happy family when we all get together.

I’ve found other authors to be really friendly and supportive too, especially at FantasyCon. That’s one of the reasons I love going there – I meet up with friends that I don’t see between conferences and make new ones too. There’s always someone who’s prepared to offer useful advice too.

So, carrying on, what’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you since Marked was published?

It must have been my launch party. Quercus had just merged with Hachette and my party was on the roof terrace overlooking the Thames. They used the location in the TV series based on JK Rowling’s Robert Galbraith books in one episode which featured – a book launch party!

That’s an unusual place for a launch party. It must have been amazing!

Yes, it was. Totally unforgettable!

I love the artwork on the three book covers. Did you have any input into the designs?

Not really. I was asked whether I liked them and when I made a comment on the colours used on the cover of Bound they did change it. To be honest I don’t think authors have much of a say, unless they’re a really big name, and to be fair publishers do know what works and what doesn’t. I guess if I had hated one we would have had a “discussion” – fortunately I was very pleased with them all.

That’s good. Now, I was told by one of my author friends that when he first got published, he lost some personal friends, which he found devastating as he never found out why (although he made a couple of guesses). Did anything like that happen to you?

That’s awful to hear. No, it didn’t. I know sometimes people can’t bear someone else to have success, but my friends were all thrilled for me. The way I see it, if a friend isn’t pleased by another friend’s success they’re not really a true friend.

I totally agree with you there.

So, let’s move on to a happier subject.  We first met at FantasyCon four or five-years ago. I know what it means to me, but what’s so special about FantasyCon for you?

I love FantasyCon. I went to my first one just for a day in 2011. I’d never been to a conference before, but at a seminar on writing I’d attended I met the lovely Stephen Jones and he said that authors really needed to network. I took him at his word. Believe it or not I am quite shy so in 2012 I volunteered to help out at FantasyCon – my reasoning being that talking to people would be a necessity, and found myself meeting up with Stephen again. I also met Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane as well as Allan Davis and Di Lewis. The following year Di and I manned Newbie Corner at World Fantasy Con in Brighton and that was lovely. I met loads of people. That was also where I had my first conversation with Jo Fletcher. I had already sent her my submission of Marked, but didn’t mention it as I didn’t think it was the time or the place. Little did I know that this first conversation would be one of many!

I never dreamed you were shy — you don’t come across that way. It just goes to show how one can overcome obstacles like that. It takes guts to do what you did. You should be proud of yourself!

I think sometimes you have to push yourself to go outside your comfort zone if you really want to ever succeed.

Yes, you’re right there. It’s something I need to do more of. Anyway, moving on…

I’ve found that the vast majority of fantasy authors prefer to read the same genre — is that also true of you? If so, do you remember which book or series got you hooked on fantasy?

I actually read lots of different genres. Lee Child, Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwall, Jonathan Kellerman, which are all mystery, crime or thrillers. I love JK Rowling’s Robert Galbraith novels. In fantasy my favourites are Stephen King and the late great James Herbert, who I got to meet, which was a thrill, he was such a charming man. I am currently reading Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, which is a great novel. The books that got me hooked on fantasy were the Narnian novels by CS Lewis and actually got me reading.

I must admit I haven’t read all the Narnia books yet, although I keep promising myself that I will, but my TBR (to be read) pile is so big already, I honestly don’t know when I would have time to fit them in.

Apart from me [chuckles], do you have a favourite author or was there one who inspired you to write?

When I met James Herbert I told him, “You are the gentleman who made me want to write horror”. I have a book signed by him wishing me luck in my writing. I bet you weren’t expecting to find out I’m a horror fan/writer.

Nope, definitely not!

So, what are you working on now, Sue? Can you give the readers a bit more than a vague hint?

I have two novels with my agent. Both are totally different from my first series. One is the first of a sword and sorcery series. The second is a supernatural, ghost/psychological novel. I won’t say horror, but it is very dark.

Ooo, both sound like something I’d want on my bookcase. You’ll have to let me know when they’re published, Sue.

I certainly will!

Now, there’s a huge amount of discussion between writers on the pros and cons of self-publishing. Is this something you would consider doing? If so, why? If not, why not?

This is a difficult one. Having been published by a publishing house I would say I have learned a lot I wouldn’t have otherwise and I would still be making really obvious rookie mistakes that no one ever tells you about until you’re edited. If you can’t get a publisher interested in your novel, but are getting positive feedback, and are convinced the only way to go is to self publish then – pay for a professional editor who knows what they’re doing. If you’re self publishing properly it is expensive and there is no way around that unless you know someone who is a professional editor and will do it for free or on the cheap and the same goes for the artwork for your cover. If you really want people to read your work you have to market it. This is very time consuming. I for one haven’t the time. I want to write I don’t want to have to be a salesperson and I know nothing about marketing.

That’s great advice, Sue, and something I always tell new authors who are looking to self-publish. I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to be a salesperson and marketer — it takes so much time out of your day and if you do it properly, there’s little to no time to write. Unless you can afford to pay someone to do the marketing for you, or you have a bunch of friends who will post about your books regularly on social media, you’re basically stuffed! You could split your day between the two, but then you’re only doing half a job on both. Or you ignore the marketing and stick to writing or vice versa. Personally, I’d rather write, but at the same time I want to keep in touch with my followers and I do this by writing my blog.

Precisely my point! I think it’s lovely that you make time for your followers.

Thank you. My followers are very important to me.

So, do you have any rituals before starting to write?

No. I wrote my series while I was still working full-time and I had an hour and a half after my husband left for work and me having to get ready and during that time I wrote. I didn’t have time for rituals. The only thing I would do, and still do, is to read the previous day’s work to get me back into the swing.

I wrote my first book while I was working full-time too!

Right, we’ve spent quite some time getting to know Sue Tingey, the author. Let’s find out a little about Sue Tingey, the woman. I’ll start with an easy one. What gets you up and running in the mornings — tea or coffee?

Coffee – no doubt.

I can’t stand coffee – I’m definitely a tea person!

Do you have any pets? If so, what and how many?

I have twenty-one Koi carp and four Shubunkins. I would dearly love another German Shepherd dog or a cat, but the jury is out on that possibility for the moment. We are shortly moving back to my family home in Torquay (the Koi have already moved) and once we’re settled I guess we’ll make a decision about a dog or cat.

What do you think you’d prefer to get?

We would love another GSD (German Shepherd dog) and I keep watching out on the GSD Elite Rescue page. There are so many beautiful dogs looking for homes and I’d really like to take one off their hands.

I think it’s great that you’d go for a rescue dog. So would I, if I could persuade my other half!

Next one. Do you have any children? If so, what and how many?

No. I’d be a terrible mother.

I doubt that very much. You’re such a warm-hearted, gentle, and caring person — I think you’d make a great mum

Aww, thank you, Carlie.

Carrying on so you can get your blushing under control [laughs]. What is your favourite tipple?

White wine.

Ah! I know what to get you at FantasyCon now! [chuckles]

What’s your favourite colour?

Purple.

What a coincidence – that’s mine too!

What star sign are you?

Aries.

Ah, the same as my daughter, and the sister sign to mine!

So, where’s the best place you’ve been on holiday, and why?

Costa Rica. It is such a beautiful country with amazing wildlife. Sloths, hummingbirds, macaws. The Costa Ricans are also totally committed to the environment and are (I think) the first country to be totally energy self-sufficient.

Wow! I’d heard it was beautiful there, but I didn’t know about Costa Rica being self-sufficient energy-wise.

What car do you drive?

Ah! We are a family of petrol heads. My everyday car is a Smart, not that I drive that much now I’m not having to drive to work. My high days and holidays car is a Ford Focus RS in Ultimate Green. Our main car is my husband’s Ford Tourneo, which is a people carrier and with the seats out is great for our trips back and forth to Torquay carrying all our furniture and books; there are so many books! Then we come to our real baby, which is a blue series 3 E-Type Jaguar. Special provision is being made for the E-Type and Focus for when we move to Torquay.

A complete change of direction here. Do you believe in the ‘spirit world’?

I am slightly conflicted. My sensible head says no, but my heart and experience says yes. Psychic abilities run in my mother’s side of the family and I’ve seen and experienced too many weird things not to believe, but I am very cynical about so-called psychics and I think I’m pretty good at spotting frauds.

Okay. Just for fun, who is your favourite cartoon character and why?

Scooby Do if we’re talking about TV cartoons. If we’re talking about comic books, I used to love Superman and Supergirl.

I was actually talking about TV cartoons — sorry, I should have been clearer. So why is Scooby Do your favourite?

I suppose because it’s so ridiculously funny and it’s always the butler who’s done it! I didn’t like the films so much even though I adored Sarah Michelle Geller in Buffy. What works as silly but funny in a cartoon somehow just becomes silly when real actors are involved.

Finally, [thank goodness for that, says Sue] if you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

If I could have a superpower I would like the power of mischief making. You know – magically making something mischievous happen to people when they’re getting too serious. Like the shows when they set up jokes on people, but I could just click my fingers and make it happen.

I sensed there was a mischievous side to you and you’ve just confirmed it! [chuckles]

Anyway, thank you for an interesting and fun interview, Sue. You’ve been a fabulous guest.

Not at all, and thank you again for inviting me over for this chat.

You’re very welcome. Now what cake did you want with your coffee?

Chocolate muffin please!

You’re my kind of woman!! [laughs]

Here’s a photo of Sue and a short bio.

Sue Tingey is the author of the fantasy romance series The Soulseer Chronicles and lives with her husband in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

She spent twenty-eight years working for a major bank and, after taking voluntary redundancy in 2001, spent another fourteen or so years working as a practice manager for an arboricultural consultancy. She has now given up the day job to allegedly spend more time with her husband; he however has noticed that an awful lot more writing appears to be going on.

Sue admits that storytelling is her obsession and was thrilled when she was offered a three book deal by Jo Fletcher Books in 2014.

You can learn more about Sue on her website www.suetingey.co.uk or contact on Twitter @SueTingey

For the buy links of the books, just click on the name:

Marked

Cursed

Bound

I really hope you’ve enjoyed the reviews and particularly this interview with the fabulous Sue Tingey. If you have any comments or questions for her, please leave them below and she’ll answer them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: War of the Flowers by Tad Williams / The Power of Reviews

As an author, I love seeing reviews written about my books. When a reader takes the time to write what they thought of my work, it’s very gratifying (especially if the review is good) to know my words have touched someone and made an impression on them. However, I did wonder how much of a part reviews played in promoting books and whether they actually had an impact on people other than the author.

I’ve come to the conclusion that reviews are very powerful. Some positive words written about a book CAN influence readers to buy and is one of an author’s most powerful marketing streams. Let me explain how I came to this conclusion:

I follow the Best in Fantasy blog written by Connie J Jasperson. She only reviews books she loves and will never allow herself to be coerced into writing anything but the truth. In April this year, she wrote a review about War of the Flowers by Tad Williams (click here to read her review). By the time I reached the end, I knew I had to buy it. There have been others by Connie that have influenced parting with my hard-earned cash as have some reviews written by Laura Thomas. Friends have also been persuaded to buy books based on reviews they’ve read.

So if it’s having this effect on me and my friends, it would be fairly safe to assume it’s doing the same to other book lovers. Something to think about the next time you read a good book (you don’t have to be an author to write one and it doesn’t have to be long either)!

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Like I said above, I bought War of the Flowers, and here is what I thought of it:

WOTF2

Click on cover to go to Amazon

The Blurb (from Amazon)

In the great city, in the dimly lit office of an impossibly tall building, two creatures meet. Gold changes hands, and the master of the House of Hellebore gives an order: ‘War is coming. The child must die.’

 In our own world, a young man discovers a manuscript written by his great uncle. It seems to be a novel – a strange fairytale of fantastic creatures and magical realms. But it is written as a diary … as if the events were real … as if his uncle had journeyed to another world. For the young man, the fantasy is about to become reality.

My Review

When I first started reading this book, I had to wonder where it was taking me and what the significance of it was. There was nothing ‘fantasy’ related to it and it made me wonder. Then, as the author wove in the first threads of fantasy and the story progressed, I began to see the relevance.

The story is about a (sometimes naïve)  30-year-old man (Theo), a musician who never reached stardom but still dreams of getting his big break, who finds a manuscript written by his great-uncle. Theo reads it, believing it to be an unfinished fiction novel . . . until he finds himself thrust into the world his uncle described.

As the story unfolds, you see Theo struggle to accept this new world and its culture. He’s surrounded by fairies, goblins and other creatures and he’s really not sure who to trust – and with good reason. There’s a war brewing; Theo finds himself slap bang in the middle of it and certain parties want him dead – he just doesn’t know why.

Williams has created an interesting lead character with Theo. He’s not without his faults, and although at times you might want to give him a shake and tell him to grow up, I found he grew on me. As the story progressed I began rooting for him, wanting him to prevail against all the odds. Theo was given real depth, and his emotions and dialogue were realistic and relatable.

Other key characters were also superbly crafted. I loved Applecore – the tiny fairy who befriends Theo. She’s sassy, sarcastic and forthright to the nth degree yet you also see a softer side emerge. She’s also fiercely loyal and courageous. Cumber, a Ferisher, was also interesting to learn about, especially when he began to shake off his subservient mentality. Poppy, the spoilt ‘rich kid’ from one of the leading Flower families, became less of a brat and more humane as the book progressed, and Lord Hellebore was deliciously evil and tyrannical.

The plot was brilliantly conceived; forget about fantasy fiction you’ve read before – this is something unique and totally different. Whilst having some of the classic elements – like fairies, goblins etc, – the ‘alternative world’ of Faerie was far removed from the norm. The hierarchy of flower ‘houses’, who ruled the land since the death of the king and queen, was well thought out, as was the technology employed in Faerie. I particularly liked how Williams likened it to our world, with shops, houses, skyscraper-type buildings and even cars of sorts. If you think Faerie is going to be a sweet place, think again. It’s urban, dirty, shady, and sometimes corrupt.

This is a thick book, but very worth the time investment. The story had me gripped (once the fantasy portion really began) and I found myself losing hours when I thought it was mere minutes. This was the first book I’d read by Tad Williams and it definitely won’t be my last. A great fantasy tale – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it! 5/5 STARS

#BlogFlash2013 Day 21 – Success

Another #Blogflash comes to an end. This is the final prompt. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts on the various subjects we were given. I’d like to say a big thank you to Terri Guiliano Long for hosting the event – I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and have made some great new friends!

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Success. How do you quantify it? Society defines success differently to ‘ordinary’ people; if you haven’t got millions in the bank, a high-profile career, your face on the cover of magazines, or a title, you haven’t ‘made it’. That, to me, is superficial crap. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

Success

Everyone has their own yardstick for measuring success. For some it’s having enough money to do as they please. For others it’s gaining a promotion, winning a competition, passing an exam, or having a long and happy marriage.

I measure my success differently, and on two fronts:

The most important to me is having raised a daughter who is beautiful, talented, and clever, but above all kind, generous, honest, loving and giving.

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My secondary success, but still important, is my writing. When I look at reviews written by readers about my book, and I see how much they enjoyed it, I feel successful.

” 5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down, 10 Oct 2012

By Pat JonesSee all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)

This review is from: HEART SEARCH – book one: Lost (Kindle Edition)

I started to read this in a waiting room at the hospital – nurse had to call my name three times before it registered – I was so deeply engrossed in the book. I found I was hooked, wanting to kick Remy and say “dont waste your time looking up the M6″. To me a sign of a good book is one where you are in there with them and in this case I was right in there.
Totally enjoyable and addictive – cannot wait for book 2 – hope its soon!”

Heart Search Test Cover 1 (2)

My 5 Top Tips for New Authors

Getting back to the posts from the Heart Search Blog Tour, Elaine Hillson was my next fabulous host. She asked me for my 5 top tips for new authors. I could have written more than five to be honest, but I think these are the most pertinent and important.

Writing, like any skill, needs to be honed. You need to study the craft and never stop learning. I could spend ages giving you the benefit of my experiences, and it’s all useful stuff, but I’m going to pass that by and talk about things you need to ponder once you’ve finished your manuscript.

Editing and Beta Reading:

It’s incredibly difficult to see our own mistakes in our manuscripts. We see how we want it to read and not how it actually does. It takes a fresh pair of eyes to take our work and turn it into a polished gem. Editors don’t come cheap yet good ones are worth their weight in gold. There are two levels of editing; copy/line editing and full editing.

A copy/line editor will look at grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. They will also look at overused words and repeated sentences beginning with the same word which are too close together. In addition, they check for inconsistencies within your manuscript. They won’t make the changes for you, but will point out where the problems exist and leave you to correct the mistakes.

A full edit will encompass all the above plus a developmental and structural edit. This is where the editor will look at redundant phrases and paragraphs, timelines and the story as a whole. They will suggest changes based on experience and the way the story reads. Ultimately they want to make your manuscript the best it can be for you.

A good editor will gently guide you in bringing your work to ‘submission ready’ status. You may not agree with all the changes an editor suggests, and that’s okay because it’s your right as the author to take or discard their recommendations. But don’t dismiss them out of hand – never forget the editor has the experience you lack, so consider each comment carefully and be prepared to compromise on occasions.

After all the editing, I would always recommend getting a Beta Reader to go through the novel. Pick wisely. This should be someone you trust to give you good honest feedback and criticism, preferably not a family member as they will feel obliged to tell you how wonderful it is because of your relationship with them. It needs to be someone impartial. Take their critique on board. They are, in a way, representative of all the readers who could potentially buy your book. If they find something confusing, lacking in substance or explanation, you can bet other readers will too, so be prepared to rewrite in places and once again, get your editor to check the changes.

The important thing to remember here is by self-publishing a book (if you decide to take that route) which is full of typos, mistakes and bad grammar, you are setting yourself up for bad reviews and a tarnished reputation. Mud sticks!

ISBN’s:

If you plan to publish your novel as an e-book through Kindle only, you don’t need an ISBN. If you decide to go through one of the ‘print on demand’ companies like CreateSpace or Lulu you can get a cheap or free ISBN. However, you are quite limited by where you can make your book available for sale.

Let’s take CreateSpace as an example. You can obtain a free ISBN when you upload your book, but you are limited to their sales channels. Sure you can pay for ‘Extended Distribution’ which would open up further outlets in which your book can be bought, but you cannot go outside of their network and sell your book wherever you want.

By purchasing your own ISBN (please note: you need one for each medium your book is published so if you decide on e-book and paperback, you will need separate ISBN’s for each), you are in control. You own the legal rights to your book which gives you the freedom to select your own sales channels anywhere.

ISBN’s aren’t cheap, but well worth the investment in my humble opinion. I have bought a block of ten through my publishing group, which has worked out very cost effective.

If you are one of the lucky ones who get picked up by a traditional publisher, this is all done for you, but the publisher owns the ISBN not you!

Social Media Platforms:

If you’re not very social media savvy, you better start practicing before your book comes out. Don’t try and spread yourself too thin – just pick a couple which are manageable and start building a following/friends list. These people are the first ones who will be exposed to news of your book and if they like the sound of it, they’ll keep watching you closely. Feed snippets of news of your progress to keep them interested, make and cultivate new online friendships as you never know where it might lead. You can also pick up useful information from other authors recommending editors or beta readers, plus hints, tricks and tips which you can utilise to your advantage.

Blog:

Start your own blog. This is, by far, your most useful platform and what’s more, the vast majority are free! You can utilise this space to allow your potential readers to get to know you and your writing. The more you engage them, the more they will talk about it to their friends and the wider your reach and potential readership becomes.

You don’t have to blog every single day – I don’t. Some authors do, but that is their choice. Set yourself a goal of blogging, say once a fortnight, to begin with (and don’t forget to publicise each post on your social media platforms). If you begin to feel you can increase it to once a week, then do so. You’re the one in control – just make sure you leave enough time for writing outside of this and the previous activities mentioned for Social Media.

And finally . . .

Marketing:

Whichever route you take to publishing, you are still going to have to market yourself. And if you haven’t done it before, it’s quite a daunting task. Look on social media to see what other authors are doing, read blog posts devoted to the subject, research what is available, what is free and what you can afford.

I have an advantage. I’ve had quite a bit of experience in marketing in my ‘day jobs’, so already have the ethos entrenched in the old grey matter. I’ve followed the advice and tips given to you above and orchestrated a marketing plan leading up to and following on from the launch of my novel. I’m told I’ve created a bit of a ‘buzz’ about it on the internet/social media platforms which is what I set out to do. I know my plans aren’t going to generate humungous sales overnight (although it would be nice), but each person who buys my book and enjoys it is likely to recommend it to their friends. Each reader who posts a good review on Amazon or Goodreads is showing the world that they think my novel is a worthwhile buy. All this adds to my credibility as an author and little by little the network expands.

I hope you find these tips useful and I wish you all the very best of luck in your published career!

Self-Marketing My Way

The third post to appear on the Heart Search Blog Tour was hosted by the lovely Maree Ward-Russell in New Zealand, home to the film sets of the fantastic Lord of the Rings films (among others, of course, but this series is probably the most famous one filmed in that lovely part of the world). Maree asked me to write about marketing tips and this is what I came up with.

Being an Indie published author means you have to do all your own marketing, right from day one and it’s a daunting task if you’ve never done anything like it before. Although I’ve done a great deal of marketing in my day jobs, marketing yourself online is a whole different story. However, some of the same general rules apply, which are:

1.         Word of mouth / recommendations are the best form of advertising

2.         All consumers (and books/e-books are no different) consciously or subconsciously have one thing in their minds when they see advertising – “what’s in it for me?”

3.         You need to create demand for your product

I’m going to start off with number three first (just to be different) as it’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last couple of months.

I’ve been talking about Heart Search a great deal on Twitter, Facebook and my blog. I’ve also had some really cheap but good quality postcards printed with the book cover on one side and on the reverse are the book blurb and my contact details. These have been handed to people during conversations – as soon as I find out they like to read they get the card shoved in their hands. Even during a recent trip to the hospital, I got chatting to some of the staff and ended up handing out about six cards and one said they would pin it on the staff notice board.

Secondly, I’ve been leaking teasers in advance of the book launch. About three or four weeks prior I revealed the cover and blurb and publicized it and two weeks before I revealed the book trailer, making sure I created anticipation with teasing blog posts leading up to it. But I haven’t done this alone. I decided, the best way to get a buzz going and get people to know about and talk about my book was to run a Blog Tour. I did this well in advance so the people who signed up could also participate in the pre-launch unveilings too.

Obviously, the more people who sign up, the more the word spreads and the more people get to hear about it. The majority of those who signed up for the tour, have also revealed the cover and trailer on their sites/blogs, and publicised it through social media channels. Now if we stop for a moment and think of reach, just from Twitter, let’s assume for a moment that every person who is on the blog tour has 1,000+ followers and there are twenty people of the tour, straight away you’ve reached twenty thousand people. Now if ten per cent of those twenty thousand retweeted the post(s), that has reached the followers of another two thousand people and so the cobweb or network grows of people who now know my book exists.

During the blog tour which is running from 8-31 October, there will be a minimum of two and a maximum of four different blog posts appearing every single day throughout the tour; reviews (which will be posted to Amazon and Goodreads as well), interviews, excerpts and guest posts like this one, plus a giveaway (and everyone loves to get something for nothing! Yes I’ve had to spend some money to put the giveaway together, but I believe it’s money well spent, especially if it has the desired effect of bringing my book to the attention of more people). Each posted blog item will be publicised and so the cobweb/network grows again.

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Okay, let’s now look at number one – Word of Mouth/Recommendations. This is something I have little control over. If people love my book, they will tweet about it or share it on Facebook/other social media platforms and they will tell their friends. Hopefully, this will result in more sales. What I can do is use social media platforms to publicise good reviews. If someone gives me a five star review, you can bet I’ll be sharing it on all my social media sites and the more I get the more I’m going to share it. I’ll be taking a key phrase from a review which showcases the book at its best and tell everyone what this reviewer said – after all, a five star review is a recommendation and I have to capitalise on it!

If I get messages from people saying how much they enjoyed my book, I’m going to ask them politely if they would recommend it to their friends and maybe even write a review. A review doesn’t have to be 200 words long; it can be one or two sentences just saying something like “I loved this book and would recommend it to everyone” and ask them to give me a star rating. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?

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Right, now let’s look at number two, which in some ways is the hardest. Everyone has different expectations from a book; some like lots of suspense, others like twists and turns, and some like lots of description so they can connect with the characters and scene. I have no way of knowing what people’s expectations are, what drives them toward a particular book so again reviews play a part in this. A well-written review is worth its weight in gold as it will usually say whether they loved the suspense/twists and turns/description, so by taking those phrases and publicising them, I’m going to be meeting the needs of those people who look for that particular characteristic.

The rest of this one is guesswork. I’m going to be picking out key sentences or phrases from the book which will address the main needs of the consumer and publicising them. I’ll be mixing them up so one day I’ll pick something descriptive, another day a little suspense and so on. One of those is going to strike a chord with someone who’ll be interested enough to want to look at the book blurb and then you have a potential sale.

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I think networking plays a large part in getting your name and your book out to a wider audience. I have joined groups who are only interested in Fantasy and Paranormal. I’m making friends within those groups and publicising my book with them. Lo and behold, I begin to create another set of cobwebs within each group, just like with the Blog Tour.

I also think making myself accessible to my readership is very important. I will never turn away or ignore a reader who takes the time to contact me. If they’ve had enough faith in me to spend their hard-earned cash buying my book, the very least I can do is give them some of my time in return. In fact I’m seriously considering setting up a page on my website for that very purpose.

Finally, I will be running a few special offers and doing a little bit of advertising on those sites where I feel I’m going to get maximum exposure without it breaking the bank!

This ‘list’ is not exhaustive and I’m sure I’ll learn more as I progress, but I happen to think it’s a damn good place to start.

What are your thoughts on marketing? Have you got any marketing tips you’d like to share?

The Crown Phoenix Reviews

When I learned my dear friend, Alison DeLuca, was running a blog tour to celebrate the re-launch of her Crown Phoenix series I just had to sign up. Having read the books in their original form, I was curious to see what changes Alison had made. I obtained the three books and devoured them, noting with glee the improvements she’d made. Here is what I think of them.

The Crown Phoenix is a quantum typewriter whose inner workings make it a magical object capable of moving things and people through time and space. It belonged to the father of the main protagonist, Miriam, and when her father dies the item becomes a highly sought after prize by some unscrupulous people who are only interested in power and money. And so the saga begins . . .

I’d never read a Steampunk novel until Night Watchman Express crossed my path and I wasn’t sure if it would be ‘my thing’, but I’d read a few of the 5-star reviews on Amazon and decided to give it a try.

By the end of the first chapter I was hooked! The characters are larger than life: Miriam, Simon and Neil are loveable and you find yourself really caring about them and the twists and turns in their young lives. Mana is enigmatic yet extremely likeable and the Marchpanes are foul creatures that you take an instant dislike to.

The story is fast-paced; the plot and subplots have so many cliffhangers and hooks, you just have to keep reading. The world-building is superior with superb description – you can so easily picture the places in your mind, and that, to me, is the mark of a very skilled writer.

This book would appeal to adults as well as children. It is entertaining, suspenseful and is so well written, it draws you in. I just HAD to buy the sequel, The Devil’s Kitchen, just to find out what happens next. That again is the mark of a consummate author if they leave you breathlessly needing to buy the next book in the series!

 

The Devil’s Kitchen is more involved than Night Watchman Express yet the story flows from one book to the next seamlessly. There is more drama, greater subplots and increased intrigue in book 2 of this series and is so well written, I found myself completely immersed in it.

This booker is a little darker than book 1; all the main characters experience trauma of varying degrees and I found myself sympathising with their predicaments and willing them on in their attempts to escape them. They each have great morals, genuinely care about others and still have the backbone to stand up for themselves.

The author demonstrates great skill crafting her characters; they have real depth. The antagonists are manipulative, cruel and remorseless and these traits jump off the page.

The Devil’s Kitchen itself is depicted as a wicked place run by nasty people. Again Ms DeLuca’s superior world-building and descriptive flair creates believable settings that are tangible and interesting.

The gripping story keeps you hooked to the very end and I, for one, eagerly awaited publication of the next book in the series, The Lamplighter’s Special.

 

The Lamplighter’s Special centres primarily around Ninna and Lizzie and how they become embroiled in the magic surrounding the Crown Phoenix.

This story starts a little slower as the author sets the scene for what ultimately culminates in an unexpected and somewhat explosive ending.

Despite the slower pace at the beginning, Ms DeLuca intricately weaves an amazing tale which connects to the previous two books in unforeseen ways, making it all the more exciting.

Once again, she has given her characters great depth and the reader can truly relate to them. I found myself connecting with Lizzie and Ninna on many levels; some of the more emotional scenes tugged on my heartstrings, especially their concern and worry about their parents and younger sister.

Her fantastic world-building is as believable as it is imaginable, and that to me is one of her great strengths. She describes her settings with such skill that you can picture yourself there whilst still leaving enough to the imagination to make it enchanting.

The fantastical and magical elements are totally unique and have been devised with great ingenuity. What’s more, they have been written with great skill whilst still not revealing all the secrets. She definitely leaves you with unanswered questions, but not to the extent where it spoils the unfolding tale.

The gripping twists in the story are fabulous tie-ins with book 2 of the series and I’m already chomping at the bit for book 4!

Alison DeLuca is a master storyteller who deserves much more recognition than she gets. I would not hesitate to recommend not only this book, but the entire series, which is suitable for kids and adults alike. This is Steampunk adventure at its best! So, the ten-million pound question: would I recommend them? YOU BET YOUR SWEET PATOUCHI I WOULD!! 5-stars across the board!

Alison DeLuca

Alison DeLuca grew up on an organic farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Her parents were British, so in the summers she went to stay with her grandparents near Dublin.

 There was no stereo or TV there, so Alison, her sister, and her cousins spent the summer inventing stories and plays for each other.  “This gave me the ability to entertain myself with my own imagination in any situation,” she says. “We used to be taken to tea with great-aunts, and we were expected to sit on an uncomfortable couch and not move or say a word.  It was possible to endure it because I was watching my own little stories play out in my mind.”

 After graduating from West Chester University, Alison became a teacher of English and Spanish, teaching students from kindergarten up to college level. She loved teaching, and it was with reluctance that she left the classroom to be a fulltime mom when her daughter was born.

 While she was teaching and raising her daughter, Alison took every free minute she had to write.  The Night Watchman Express and The Crown Phoenix Series were the result.

 She is currently working on the final book in the series, as well as several other projects.

Click on the titles to go to the relevant Amazon page:

Crown Phoenix: Night Watchman Express

Crown Phoenix: The Devil’s Kitchen

Crown Phoenix: Lamplighter’s Special

Heart Search Blog Tour – week 2

Hi Everyone,

Wow! What an amazing first week on the Blog Tour. Not only has everyone involved been posting and promoting (thank you all so much), but Heart Search: Lost has received 5-star reviews on both sides of the pond.

As we’ve now moved into week 2, there’s plenty more to feast the eyes on; more excerpts, interviews, reviews and guest posts written by yours truly. All cast members are doing a fantastic job of showcasing each item for your enjoyment. And don’t forget, every excerpt, interview and guest post is totally unique and has been written or picked solely for the Tour.

We’re also getting entries into the Giveaway, which is fabulous. I’m excited at the prospect of sending swag out to deserving winners and with that in mind, I’m re-posting the Heart Search; Lost Prologue below to make it even easier to answer the question. So without further ado, here it is:

His hiding place was perfect; darkness surrounded and comforted him and he became one with it. He had chosen well. The ancient ruins were totally hidden by overgrown shrubs and trees. From this place, he could venture out before dusk, completely obscured by the dense canopy of the primordial trees; the sun struggled to break through even at midday.

He was close, closer than ever before; so close the flavour of the human’s essence coated his sensitive tongue. The one sought was nearby – he could sense him. He had searched for a very long time to find someone this special. Sure he’d found talent along the way, but this one, this human was something else entirely.

The excitement was building inside like a volcano preparing to erupt. His tongue ran over his teeth; venom pooled in his mouth and he savoured the flavour. There would be a new flavour to add to it soon. Very soon.

He first detected the scent two days ago. Unfortunately, an opportunity had not presented itself and he had become frustrated to the point of anger as strategy after strategy was thwarted by the most stupid and pointless of reasons. He was tenacious when there was something he desired and right now there was nothing he desired more than this human. There was a plentiful supply around to quench his thirst – that was not his aim.

His reverie was interrupted – a familiar scent wafted on the air that permeated the shelter. It was the human – the one he sought – and so near, too near to be allowed to escape again. Once more venom collected in his mouth.

He moved swiftly through the darkness with perfect vision towards the exit hidden amongst the foliage. The closer he got to the outside, the stronger the scent, and the more eager he became.

It was time.

Okay, so click the link of the Rafflecopter Giveaway on the sidebar to enter. To buy a copy of Heart Search: Lost, click on the cover to be taken straight to Amazon.

Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy so far – I really hope you like it! I hope you enjoy all the tasty titbits we have in store for you this week. There’s definitely plenty to sink your teeth into!