An October Update!

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Hello! It’s been such a long time with no update, I thought it was time I posted something! It’s autumn, it’s my favourite season, and it’s the perfect time to step back and assess how the year is going.

> Writing/publishing.
You may have noticed that I haven’t had a new book out for a while now, and although that wasn’t the original plan for this year, it’s how things have ended up. I am still writing – writing quite a lot, actually! I’ve completed two novels this year, one of which I think is the best thing I’ve ever written, and one of which I think is probably the second best thing I’ve ever written. I’ve also completed three novellas, and have made a couple of starts on new novels.

When it comes to publishing, I came very close to being traditionally published this year, unfortunately it fell through at the last minute, but it did make me realise that it’s still my dream. It’s why I’m going to take the novel mentioned above – the one I think is the best thing I’ve ever written – and attempt to go the traditional publishing route. Once I’ve had a bit of space from it and edited it to within an inch of it’s life, I’m going to send it out to agents. Yes, I know how hard it is to be noticed in the slush piles, I know it’s a long process, but I feel this book deserves a chance. It was one of those rare (really, really rare!) stories that quite literally wrote itself – you know the kind where you sit down at the laptop and look up two hours later to discover you’ve written six thousand words and the characters have done things that were completely unplanned by you? This book was the easiest thing I’ve ever written, but also the longest, and the one written in the shortest amount of time – from idea to finished 127k word draft in under two months. I spent every spare second writing it and loved every moment. That doesn’t happen very often, and I think when it does, it means you’ve got something special.

So, yes, all the writing has meant that actually releasing any books has fallen by the wayside. The sequel to Not Pretty Enough was supposed to be out this summer but I haven’t had time to work on editing it, and I’d also planned to release a Christmas novella, but upon re-reading it, I’ve decided that it’s just not good enough. I intend to re-write it during the festive season this year, along with another festive novella, and hopefully have it up to scratch by next year.

So that’s about it from me! Happy autumn/winter season, everyone! (Let’s ignore the fact it’s been winter in the UK since July!) How is your year going? Tell me in the comments! Have you met any goals or got any still to meet?

My Writing Process Blog Tour!

Today I’ve been invited to participate in My Writing Process blog tour, thanks to the lovely Jennifer Joyce for inviting me! Jennifer is the author of A Beginners Guide To Salad, which I’ve just started reading and think it’s fab so far! You can find her on jenniferjoycewrites.co.uk.

The idea of this is that you answer four questions about your writing process, and then nominate three authors to follow you on the tour, so without further ado…

1) What am I working on?
I’m not allowed to mention what I’m actually working on right at this second, but I hope to have some exciting news to share very soon! I’ll have to talk about another WIP that I can’t wait to carry on with instead – it’s a new YA, untitled as of yet (my ideal title would be protected by copyright so I have to think of something else that fits!) and it’s really different for me. It’s dark and gritty, probably a bit controversial, exploring human nature at it’s darkest. I haven’t planned it out at all, I was so excited about the idea that I wanted to start writing it straight away. It’s a different approach as I usually start with at least some kind of plan, but I’m hoping the different approach and the different style will complement each other!

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
It’s probably a bit weirder than most! People have started to expect quirky from me, you know, vampire pumpkins or zombies at the North Pole, so I’m getting a bit of a reputation as the quirky, weirdo writer. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not!

3) Why do I write what I do?
Because I love it! That’s the answer you’ll probably find from most participants on this blog tour! I write chick-lit and YA because that’s what I love, it’s what I read, it’s what I get excited about, and I love both genres equally, so I write in both.

4) How does my writing process work?
I’m not a huge planner, but I’m not a pantser either. Generally I start by writing an extra-long blurb, the kind of thing you’d see on the back of a book, but more in-depth and with spoilers. After that I jot or type pages of notes, just the flashes of inspiration or ideas that pop up when I’m thinking about the book, and more often that not when I’m washing my hair and have no access to a pen and paper or laptop! I write down everything, every little idea for each book, because I know how often I think of something brilliant only to forget it moments later! The next step is a vague chapter-by-chapter outline – this is mostly to make sure I have enough material to write an entire book out of the idea, and an attempt to keep track of the storyline and how it gets from beginning to end. It’s nothing more than a list of scenes really – who’s in them, why, what they’re doing, what they want, etc. Each chapter has maybe one or two sentences about what will be happening in it, because I like to keep things vague so the characters can still take over if they want to. Things do change a lot from this outline when the actual writing starts, characters take the lead, sometimes they go places or do things that aren’t planned, and that’s okay because it’s only a shitty first draft. That’s how I think of the first draft – for me, the purpose of it is to write the story, to get the words down on paper, to go off on tangents if need be, to tell the story and not worry about something not working or not fitting in. It’s going with the flow and writing random ideas as they come to you. If it doesn’t work later then it will be edited out or drastically altered in the second draft. In first draft mode, I don’t go back or edit anything, I just write until the end, then put it away for as long as possible – ideally a few months but it can’t always be done. After time has passed, I re-read it and re-work it into a second draft, then edit, edit, edit it through two or three more drafts until it’s ready for a professional editor.

And that’s it from me!
I’m nominating three wonderful authors to post next week, and they are:

tilly Tilly Tennant
Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing, graduating in 2009 with first class honours. She wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

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Dan Thompson Dan Thompson Author Pic 2
Dan lives in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire (England) with his young daughter and his shabby dog, Skye.

He is the Author of the charity poetry book Life is all but a vast array of Colours and phobia Novella The Caseworker’s Memoirs. His first full length novel, A YA Fantasy entitled The Black Petal will be available soon. Also in 2014, a dark new adult novel entitled Here Lies Love will be released.

A lover of YA and fantasy fiction, you can often find him writing on his blog, writing book reviews and connecting online with other writer-type people and interviewing authors. Dan grew up reading Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, secretly coming up with his own inventive adventures, and R.L Stine’s The Goosebump series, before turning to the works of Philip Pullman, Eoin Colfer and Marcus Sedgwick and slipping away into alternate realities. He also loves a good Historical Thriller too.

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Jack Croxall Photo Jack Croxall
Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. He tweets via @JackCroxall and blogs at http://www.jackcroxall.co.uk

My first experience with Amazon KDP Select and free promo days…

Having recently enrolled a book – Creepy Christmas – in Amazon’s KDP Select program for the first time and ran my first free promotion for a few days last week, I thought I would write a bit about my experience.

I think the promo went very well. Much better than I expected anyway! My numbers were not huge, nothing compared to what some better-known authors would pull in on a free promo day of their own, but as I had never done KDP Select before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. (I’m sure most of you already know this, but in case anyone doesn’t – when you sign up to Select, your book has to be available exclusively on Amazon for a period of three months, and in that three month period they allow you to offer your book for free for up to five days.)

I don’t think I went into the promo best prepared. For a start, I used my free promo days in conjunction with the book’s release day, which meant that the book had no reviews (it does have a couple now – thank you, lovely people!) I was advised against doing it, and friends suggested I wait until people had bought it and left reviews, and then run the free promo. Obviously good reviews help buyers decide whether to download the book or not, and also increase your chances of getting picked up by the free Kindle book promotional websites (who mention your free book to thousands of their followers) and almost all of which require your book to have a high rating before they will consider promoting you.
I didn’t want to wait, mainly because I felt it would be unfair to expect my friends, family, and other readers to buy the book only for it to be free a couple of weeks later. It’s only 77p anyway, so not a huge amount of money, but it just felt wrong to ask people to buy it, knowing it would soon be free.

Another thing I’ve heard about Select is that it is much better suited to authors who have a series of books out – you use the promo days to give away the first book in a series, hoping that customers will come back and buy the other books from that series.
I can safely say that not only is Creepy Christmas not part of a series, but I don’t have any other books out in the same genre. In fact, I only have one other book out, and it is most definitely not children’s fiction!

So, overall, I could have gone into it better prepared. I should have given myself more time to submit my book details to the freebie promo sites – I gave them about a week’s notice, when I should have pulled my socks up and done it two or three weeks earlier.

I didn’t know how many downloads I expected, but it was definitely far less than I got! My final download numbers after a four day free promo looked like this:

Amazon US: 2565 downloads.
Amazon UK: 315 downloads.
12 from Amazon Germany, 1 from France, and 7 from Japan.

Chart wise, in the UK I reached #242 overall in the free chart, and #28 in children’s books.
In the US it was #142 overall and #2 in children’s books > Christmas.

It also led to my first borrows from the Kindle Owners Lending Library, both here and in the US – which I admit that I got ridiculously excited about!

The free days kicked off on a Thursday and were scheduled to run for three days. By the end of Saturday, the downloads were still coming in, and I was so close to getting 2000 in the US that I decided to add another day to the promo, so it ended up being free on Sunday as well. I also conveniently forgot to mention this to anyone! The downloads still came in though, and I was very glad that I did extend it, as the number was well over 2000 by the time I got up on Sunday morning!

It’s now been a week since my free promo ended, and sales have been slow and steady this week. I have sold a few copies every day, and had an equal number of borrows in the US (less borrows here, but the lending library is still very new to the UK!)

I worked hard to promote it, but I could have done better. I should have been more organised and not ran around like a headless chicken on release day.
Promotion wise, I got mentioned on a couple of the free ebook sites – none of the big ones, but I’m sure the ones I did get a mention on led to some downloads in the US if nowhere else! I also posted links on a couple of Kindle forums that allow authors to promote their free books, and I mentioned the hell out of it on Twitter (Sorry, lovely followers! I do try not to use Twitter for advertising purposes, honest!)

I was also really lucky to have some amazing support on Twitter and Facebook, with friends, family, and even people I’d never met before sharing or retweeting the links.
I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped. I know you all must’ve been sick of hearing about Creepy Christmas by the end of the promo, but I really appreciate the support so much!

 

In other news: I am coming to the end of NaNoWriMo – one half-novel is now turned into a full novel, and I’ve made a start on the next half-finished manuscript. 46,000 words written so far this month – almost there!

On Friday I was on the lovely Trashionista website talking about Kismetology here: http://www.trashionista.com/2012/11/author-interview-jaimie-admans.html

And speaking of Kismetology, it’s currently on special offer and reduced to 99p / $1.60 for a limited time only!
Amazon UK || Amazon US

Creepy Christmas is out now! And it’s free!

It’s release day! My second novel – Creepy Christmas – is out today! It’s available to download from Amazon, and for the first three days only – it’s free! Yay!

Of course, the point of the post is to tell you where to buy the book…
You can read a sample or buy the book on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
Amazon: FR, DE, ES, IT.

You do not need a Kindle to read it. Amazon do a lovely little free Kindle app, which you can download to your computer, phone or tablet-thingy, and read any Kindle book you wish on it.

The book is a fun, festive, family read. It’s aimed at children/middle-grade readers over the age of 8, but of course can be enjoyed by anyone! It won’t cost you a thing to download if you get it in the next three days, and you might just like it! Please pass the link on to anyone else who might be interested too!

PS: You can add Creepy Christmas to your books on Goodreads: Here!

PPS: There’s still a chance to win a copy of Kismetology on the lovely I Heart Books!

Creepy Christmas: Cover, Blurb, Release Date and Free Promo!

I seem to have been talking about this for months, but the release date is finally here!
Creepy Christmas will be out on November 15th – otherwise known as this week! Thursday to be precise! It’s all very exciting!

Cover:

Blurb:
Strange things are occurring in the neighbourhood. A mysterious snowfall, one Santa too many, and eyes of coal that watch you wherever you go.

Ten-year-old Kaity is busy trying to get rid of her mum’s creepy new boyfriend and reunite her divorced parents, but her curiosity gets the better of her when she meets the new mall Santa and his enchanting daughter Blizzard. Can Kaity help them save Christmas from being destroyed by Anti-Claus – a pretend Santa who is a permanent member of the naughty list?

It’s Christmas in the village of Chelferry, but this year the snowmen can move, the fairy won’t stay on top of the Christmas tree, and if you listen closely to the musical Christmas cards, you can hear the faint sound of screaming over the Jingle Bells…

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Creepy Christmas is a 50,000 word (approx 200 pages) novel suitable for ages 8 and upwards.

And another bit of exciting news:
Creepy Christmas will be FREE for the first three days of its life! It’s available on Amazon, and will be free to download on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday! Please download it if you have a chance, and please share the link if you know anyone else who might like it, I would really, really appreciate it.

NaNoWriMo, Writing Fears, Interviews, and Everything Else!

Good news: I finished the final edit on Creepy Christmas yesterday! It will be out on November 15th – stay tuned for a proper post and more info about it coming soon!

I’ve also been promoting Kismetology and have had a couple of interviews with lovely websites recently!
Firstly, I was chatting to Novelicious over the weekend here: Novelicious Chats To… Jaimie Admans
And yesterday I was talking to the lovely Isabella at Chick Lit Goddess: Here and there’s a lovely little post about Kismetology here too!

So, it’s NaNoWriMo time of year. It’s the month when thousands (many, many thousands judging by how glitchy the site is as usual!) gather together online and attempt to write a novel in a month.
Not counting the Camp NaNos that run in the summer months, this is my seventh year of participating, and (hopefully) sixth year of winning.
I’m actually doing things a little differently this year, in as much as usually I write 3-4K words a day and finish by the fifteenth of the month. I don’t have time to do nothing but write this year, so I’m doing it the ‘proper’ way and only aiming for 1,667 words a day. This is quite unusual for me, and every day when I finish my writing, I get the feeling of “is that it?”
I’ve currently written 15,000 words of the required 50,000 words, which isn’t too bad for a week, although I know there will be some days missed due to other book commitments!

I actually work a lot like NaNoWriMo, even when it’s not November. I don’t write every day of the year. I spend a couple of months planning the novel – researching, outlining, character building, picturing scenes. I have to be sure that my premise will stretch into an 80,000+ word novel. When I am sure, I then set a month or so where I am going to WRITE THE NOVEL. When it’s novel writing time, that’s it. No more research, no more procrastinating (that one doesn’t always work…) If something needs researching more then I stick in a mark to look it up later. If a character or place doesn’t have a name, they become Character1, Town2, BastardA and BastardB, etc. until the editing stage when I have a chance to sort them out and name them properly.

And every time that I sit down to write, the overwhelming fear is “What if I can’t do it again?” Because I don’t write every single day of the year. Because I can often go months without writing anything ‘new’ (only re-writing and editing) when it comes to sitting down to write another novel, I always think that I won’t be able to do it again. Sure, last time it went well. Sure, last time the characters practically wrote it for me. Plot lines appeared out of nowhere and told themselves. I have written seven complete novels, and four half-novels that are works in progress. Hopefully by the end of NaNo, that will be eight complete novels. Hopefully by the end of December that will nine complete novels with only two WIPs left. And yes, some of them will never, ever see the light of day. Some of them are so bad I’m embarrassed to read over them. My first novel was a tense-jumping nightmare and the only thing that it will ever be useful for is lighting a fire.

So despite having written a lot, I still don’t think I can do it. I still don’t think the words will come easily and the story will tell itself. It has been a pleasant surprise to be working on my NaNo novel this year and find it relatively easy to write. I have not lost ‘it’ in the months since I last wrote something new.

After NaNo, my plan is to finish the Christmas novel that I started last year. I find it incredibly hard to write Christmas stories when it isn’t Christmas, although I have had to do it this year when I spent August re-writing Creepy Christmas. If I ignore this one now, I probably won’t work on it again until next winter, so I do want to spend December trying to get it finished – only another 50k or so to go… Er, yeah. That should be easy. Not.

Of course, there’s also the small matter of releasing Creepy Christmas and promoting that and Kismetology!

I know a lot of you reading this are writers too. Do you ever feel like this? Am I the only one who constantly believes that their last novel will be the last novel?

Talking about writing… And other things!

Today I’m doing an interview with the lovely Tracie Banister on her blog Books By Banister – We’re talking writing, Kismetology, Creepy Christmas, and lots of other fun questions that I’ve never been asked before! You can read it here, and even better, you can enter to win a copy of Kismetology!

It’s so much fun doing interviews – it makes me feel like a proper author! A huge thanks to Tracie for having me. If you like chick-lit, you should check out her books too!

Secondly, thank you to everyone who voted in the Creepy Christmas cover poll. The cover that has been chosen is — [drum roll] — Cover 2! It was actually three votes behind in the poll, but a few people pointed out that cover 1 was too young. The book is aimed at ages 8 and up, but cover 1 made it look like a much younger children’s book. I’m still putting the finishing touches to the cover, but stay tuned for a reveal soon!

What else? Hmm. I entered the Kismetology cover into The Book Designer’s Ebook Cover Design Awards, and got some lovely comments for it! Have a look here. Well happy with that!

I’ve also signed up for NaNoWriMo again – my seventh year now! God knows how I’m going to find time for it this year, but I will try my hardest! Writing a novel in a month is never easy, especially when you’ve got another book to promote and yet another book to release! If anyone else is doing NaNo and wants to add me as a buddy, my ID is ChickLitWriterGirl on the site – profile here!