Sunday, 6 April 2014

A bit about Rosie, by Rosie.

I wish I could write this so that if anyone else ever picked it up it would self-destruct. I can’t do that, so let’s just hope I can hide it well enough until I decide to destroy it myself.
So–why am I writing about this if it’s so personal? Well, my therapist has been on my back for ages to do it.  He said that this would be a good way of getting things off my chest, a good way of talking about things–without talking. It sounded a bit dicky to me, but I finally tried it and you know what? He was right.
I like my therapist. I call him the dark side of Santa, DSS for short. He’s big and fat and miserable. He has thick shoulder length wavy hair and the biggest, bushiest black beard I have ever seen. So you see why I call him the dark side of Santa, but besides that, he’s kinda cool. I promised him I’d write about “The event” as we refer to it, one day, and today is that day. This is for you DSS.

Mum had been freaking out big time; the Mulligans were due to arrive in half an hour and she had only just realised that dad had forgotten to buy the wine. Mum met Jenny Mulligan about four months before “The event” when she walked into the shop where mum worked. Jenny was beautiful, successful, funny and really, really nice. Her and mum had hit it off instantly and when Jenny invited mum for a cup of coffee in her lunch break, their fate was sealed. If there is such a thing in this world as soul-friends, then mum and Jenny Mulligan were it.
After a few dinners over at Jenny’s place it was finally our turn to play host, and as I said… mum had been freaking out. She had been planning this night for weeks, and had spent the two days prior to the “Royal visit” cleaning and preparing a sumptuous feast for Jenny and her husband Brad. Everything had been going to plan until mum realised that dad had forgotten to buy the wine.
Robby, my little brother, sat down on the sofa next to me and we waited for mum to go ballistic. The conversation went something like this.
‘How could you forget the wine?’ mum shouted.
Robby poked me in the ribs and whispered, ‘this is gonna be a good one.’  Watching mum and dad fight was one of our favourite sports, as long as they weren't fighting about us.
Dad tried to defend himself, ‘give me a break luv, I've been running around all day for you.’
You've bee…you've been running around all day. That’s rich that is!’
‘Oh for God’s sake Beth, I’ll go back out now and get your bloody wine. What do you want?’
‘It’s on the list!’ mum yelled at the top of her voice, ‘or are you too stupid to read now?’
Whoa, Robby and I looked at each other; we’d never heard her call dad stupid before. At this point we thought it was time for us to slip out of the room; we didn't make it.
‘Where do you two think you’re going?’ Mum immobilised us with her glare.
We looked at dad for help but didn't get any. We were on our own.
‘Rosie, go and finish setting the table then go and get changed. Robby–you go with your dad; he might need your help with his list.’ The implication of that last comment wasn't lost on anyone.
‘Do I have to?’ Robby whined.
Dad spoke up for him, ‘Let the boy stay at home Elizabeth. I’ll go and get your wine.’
I remember thinking to myself; you shouldn't have said that dad.
‘My wine!’ Mum was off again. ‘It’s not my wine. It’s the wine I asked you to get for our guests, and no. He can’t stay at home. He’ll just end up making a mess again.’
Mum turned and stomped out of the room, shouting over her shoulder, ‘they’ll be here in twenty minutes!’
I looked at dad and said, ‘she really went off the deep end this time.’
He just smiled and said, ‘She’ll get over it Rose-Bud. Tonight’s important to your mum and you know how she gets sometimes. So– I’ll take Robby, we’ll get the damn wine and then everything will be back to normal.’ He turned to Robby, ‘come on son, grab your coat and we’ll be back before you know it.’
As he walked past me, dad placed his hand on my unruly red curls and ruffled my hair. As usual I pretended that I didn't like it with a drawn out, ‘Daaad, stop it.’
But I loved it, and he knew it, he was my dad.

***

The Mulligans had arrived and been there for more than fifteen minutes, but there was still no sign of dad and Robby. Mum was livid. I could tell, but she hid it well from our guests. Thirty minutes after the arrival of the Mulligans mum’s anger was fading and the first traces of worry were beginning to show on her already frayed nerves.
She moved constantly from the dining room to the kitchen and back again, tweaking this or straightening that, and apologising profusely for her husband’s tardiness. Her perfectly coiffed hair was beginning to look worse for wear as she kept pulling strands down and twirling them in her fingers, a nervous habit of hers. I remembered I giggled to myself because I thought  she looked like Medusa, with thin, red squiggly snakes sticking out from her head.
Ten minutes later the doorbell rang and mum froze. Dad never rang the doorbell. Even if he had forgotten his keys, he never, ever rang the doorbell. He would walk around to the back door, which was rarely locked, and before he came in he would knock his familiar knock on the back door. Knock, knock–kncokknockknock–knock, knock.

I still had no idea what was going on, but I’ll never forget the atmosphere in the house that night. It’s really hard to explain; the best I can do is this. Imagine the anxiety you feel before you open an exam paper for your worst subject. As you open the paper, you still cling on to the weak hope that the questions will be based on the one lesson you actually paid attention to but, after scanning through the questions you realise you are doomed.  All you can do now is to try not to step on your hope, which is now lying shattered on the floor underneath your chair.

Then mum opened the front door and our lives changed forever.
Two police officers were standing on the door-step looking professional, sympathetic and serious all at the same time. When they asked to come in mum’s knees buckled. Luckily for her Jenny and Brad had walked up behind mum and Brad caught her before she hit the floor.
I still didn’t know what was going on, a bit naive I know, but other than the police asking, Mrs Gardener, can we come in? No one had said a word. Besides, when you have a near-perfect life, you don’t expect it to come crashing down at the ring of a doorbell.
Jenny helped mum onto the sofa and sat next to her, holding her hand tightly while the police officers talked.
I stood in the doorway, apparently forgotten, as my brain tried to make sense of the words that my ears were pushing into my head.
I am so sorry…the man ran a red light….nothing that Mr Gardener could do…the driver of the other vehicle was drunk… your husband and your son….they were both killed instantly…killed instantly…killed!
I let out a stifled sob and Jenny's husband came over to me and wrapped his strong arms around me. It felt nice. Then he lifted his hand and placed it on my head.
‘NO!’ I screamed as I slapped his hand away and ran upstairs nearly blinded by the tears that were pouring down my face.

***

There was a knock on my bedroom door. I didn't reply; I couldn't. I just wanted my mum to come in and wrap me in her arms and tell me that it was all going to be alright, that there had been a terrible mistake and it was somebody else’s dad and brother who had been killed.
But it wasn't mum who came into the room it was Jenny. She sat on my bed, placed her hand on my shoulder and began to stroke my arm slowly. I found the contact comforting. We sat like that in silence for a long time before she spoke.
‘Are you okay sweetie?’
I just looked at her thinking; Am I okay? What kind of a stupid question is that? I’ll never be okay, ever again.
‘Oh Rosie, I am so sorry. I know that there is nothing I can do or say to make this better, to make it go away. Believe me…I wish there was.’ I noticed that there was a tear running down Jenny’s soft, pink cheek. I knew she had more to say, but she didn't know how to say it and I didn't want her to say anything.
‘Where’s my mum?’
‘Your mum–Rosie your mum wants to be here with you but…’
‘But what?’ Why isn't mum here with me? I need her. Why is Jenny Mulligan the one sitting with me?
‘Rosie, your mum’s in shock. She’s blaming herself for this and...’
‘That’s because it’s her fault!’ I spat the words out.
Jenny’s hand stopped its soothing motion and gripped my upper arm–hard.
‘Don’t say that! Don’t you even think it; you know it’s not true.’
I tried to wipe the tears and snot away with the back of my hand, but it was a losing battle. In between sobs I said,
‘Dad didn’t want to go out, but she made him. She called him stupid and she made him go out and she made him take Robby as well. And do you know why?’ I paused for breath and then yelled, ‘because, she wanted him to buy some wine…for you!’
Jenny let go of my arm and I rubbed it to ease the pain. Watching the tears rolling down my cheeks was too much for her. She grabbed me, pulled me to her and crushed me against her chest, her tears flowing into my hair as she whispered, ‘oh sweetie, I am sorry. I know this must be incredibly hard for you, but you’re going to have to be strong to help your mum. I know you know that this is not your mum’s fault, it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s a horrible, tragic accident that should never have happened.’
My body seemed to melt away from me and my head began to spin, deep down I knew she was right. With Jenny’s arms wrapped around me I cried like I had never cried before, and never have since.

***

Jenny was a great support to me over the next year or so, which was a good thing because mum might as well have not been living under the same roof. I think it is true to say that Jenny became my surrogate mum, for a while at least. She taught me how to cook, helped me with my homework and was there to listen to me when I wanted to talk.
Mum was unresponsive and depressed, and, unlike my hysterical accusation that dad’s and Robby’s deaths were her fault; mum truly believed that she was to blame and for that she could never forgive herself. She bore the weight of their deaths every single day and it was destroying her.

Then Jenny fell pregnant. It wasn't a planned pregnancy and it turned out to be a very difficult one, eventually she had to stop coming over. I didn't blame her. How could I? She had to look after herself and her unborn child.
Soon after the baby was born I invited her, Brad and their new son, to come over for dinner–my treat. I was never one of those girls who get clucky and gush over babies, but I was secretly excited at the prospect of meeting baby Ryan. Jenny had spent so much time with me I guess I felt I could claim the title of honorary big sister, on top of that, we both thought that a new life in the house would lift mum’s spirits.
I had bought mum a new outfit, and managed to get her into it, but she refused to wear any makeup and new outfit or not, she was still just a shell of the woman she used to be. I had done all of the housework, had cooked a passable meal and even had a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge.
This was going to be good, a normal evening with friends, and a new baby to talk about. What could possibly go wrong?

Jenny and her family arrived on time and I ushered them into the living room where mum was waiting. I prattled on and on about the baby, and in my desperation to have just one normal night, I didn't sense the atmosphere in the room plummeting towards the black hole that had become our reality.
Mum asked Jenny if she could hold the baby. I could tell Jenny was a bit nervous and I didn't know why, but she agreed, walked over to mum and gently handed over her baby.
‘What’s its name?’ mum was staring at the baby.
I answered, ‘he’s a boy mum; I told you that. His name is Ryan.’
‘He looks like Robby.’
‘No way mum,’ I laughed, ‘Robby had red hair like yours and mine and hazel eyes like dad’s. This little fella is as blonde as they get.’ I looked up at Jenny, ‘I bet he’ll have the most beautiful blue eyes, just like yours.’ Jenny smiled a moved to collect her son.
‘No–he looks like Robby; I think I’d know my own son when I see him.’ Mum looked up at me her eyes dull and asked, ‘When will he be home? That boy’s always late for dinner.’
Anxious to change the subject I asked, ‘does anyone want a glass of wine?’
Mum went limp and Ryan began to slip from her arms, but Jenny was there to catch him.
‘Wine…’ mum mumbled. ‘He didn't buy the wine.’ She looked at me and my heart broke all over again, what had I done?
Mum looked up at me with such sadness in her eyes and I hated myself for being so stupid. Then she said, ‘they’re not coming home are they Rosie?’
‘No mum, they’re not coming home.’ It took everything I had not to turn and run out of the room, leaving all of this sorrow behind.

The evening was uncomfortable beyond imagination and we were all happy when Ryan began to cry at the top of his voice. Jenny was quick to use this as an excuse to go home and within five minutes mum and I were alone again.
I didn't see Jenny for another seven months after that night; even then it was by accident. I bumped into her at the shops but she seemed embarrassed to see me and was very eager to leave, not once asking about mum. I knew then that any chance I might have had of being Ryan’s honorary big sister, had been thrown out with the bath water.

Mum never really came to terms with the deaths of dad and Robby. She went through the day to day rituals, made me breakfast and got me off to school; though she wouldn't have cared had I not gone, washed and cleaned and pretended to smile at the appropriate times. In short, she went through the motions but she wasn't really there.
On her really bad days, I found myself living with the fear of coming home from school, to find her lying on the sofa, an empty bottle of pills dropped carelessly on the floor. That never happened, thank God, and I’d like to believe that I was the reason why.

***

You’d think that seeing a therapist would be something you’d want to hide from your fellow students, and I did for a while. Then I found out that seeing a therapist gives a girl a certain kind of dark reputation. I’d had a lot of stick from the other kids at school. At first they were all nice and pitying–I hated that. I found I had a lot of “new” friends, who all wanted to “talk”. I hated that too. Still–they gave me more attention than my mum ever did. Anyway, they soon got tired of me and my problems, and that’s when I started acting out.
I became a model rebellious teenager, skipping classes, giving cheek to the teachers and not doing my homework. All of this, of course, led to many, many afternoons of detention. The teachers cut me a lot of slack, because of my circumstances, but I didn't want that.
I then spent an eventful year wearing my punk persona. More attitude, more trouble, more detention–more slack, and no reprimand at all from mum. Her response to all of the letters and calls from school was, ‘it’s just a phase, she lost her dad and brother you know. Give her time she’ll change.’

Change–now there’s an interesting word. Have you noticed it gets used a lot, change your clothes, change lanes, change your attitude, change the way you think, don’t let him change you, change is good, change is bad, yada, yada, yada. Well I have decided I like change, I feel at home with change. This was, I found out, a good thing because change was coming at me like a raging bull.
Puberty led me down the dark path of depression where I battled with all kinds of emotions that I am sure a girl of my age is not supposed to battle.
Guilt - Why wasn't it me?
Anger – Why the fuck did mum have to be so fucking desperate for the fucking wine?
Despair – I can’t live without my daddy and Robby.
Remorse – How could I have blamed mum?
Mourning – Oh God I miss them.
Selfishness – What about me? I’m still here you know mum.
Rejection – Why did Jenny stop coming to see me?
Anxiety – Will I come home one day to find mum will be–gone?
Of course there was more than one topic under each heading, but I don’t want to bring you down, besides you’re smart enough to get my meaning. I was one screwed up teenager.

About three years after their death, I was about as low as I could get. Mum didn’t care; I mean I was the mother in our house. I comforted her, helped her, held her when she cried, but who was there for me? I needed to escape, and the only way I could do that, I thought, was by using drugs. To simply get high or to kill myself–well–your guess would be as good as mine. Luckily, I never got the chance to find out.
I was trying to find a source, and I happened to ask some Goth dude if he knew where I could buy some stuff, I didn't even know what to ask for. Anyway, he looked like the sort of person who’d know how to get some. Boy was I wrong. Not only did he not do drugs, he tore strips off me for wanting to try them! To be honest I didn't understand half of what he was saying, come to think of it maybe he was stoned, whatever. The point is–he cared enough about me to try to stop me. He didn't know me, but he knew I was heading down a dark path that would lead to nothing but misery.
Twenty minutes with him in a dark alley, and I happily said goodbye to Rosie the punk and hello to Rosie the Goth.

Through all of this DSS was great, he questioned my decisions but never, ever judged. While the kids at school viewed me as some kind of oddity and watched with fading interest as I morphed from poor Rosie, the girl whose dad and brother got killed by a drunk, to the girl who sees a therapist because her dad and brother are dead. Next was poor Rosie the punk kid who sees a therapist, then quite simply–Rosie the crazy goth, I have to say–it was my favourite tag, still is in fact.


So DSS, not that you’ll ever read this, but let me tell you why I've decided to write about it now. Quite simply, it’s time for me to get over myself. I had just turned thirteen when Dad and Robby died, and that was nearly 5 years ago and I want, no–I need to get this off my chest. You see in a few short months I’ll be finished school, and as soon as I am free, I've decided–it’s time to get my life back on track, it’s time for me to start living and that is precisely what I’m going to do. 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Do FREE book promotions work?

A little while ago I posted, "Do FREE book promotions work? I'm about to find out" on LinkedIn.
Well, I have the answer for you, at least a partial answer. You see, this really requires a two part answer.
Firstly, did people actually download the book?
Secondly, have I generated any long term sales or interest from the free downloads?
The free promo only ended on the 28th March so I can’t answer the second part yet, but I can answer the first. And the short answer is yes.

The promo ran for three days, with the free download through Amazon.  I pounded the information super-highway for days leading up to the promo, and all through the promo, selling my wares, so to speak. However, I wasn't seeing any results through KDP and was getting a little worried so I decided to try a “Boost your post” on Facebook for two days. The post simply advised that the book was free and provided the link direct to Amazon.
I won’t bore you with all the stats, but I was very specific in my targeting parameters, playing around with the variables until I found the best fit; then hit the “Boost your post” button with fingers crossed.

I have to say, the results were impressive. My average “People who saw your post”  on Facebook is 30. By the end of the two day “Boost” period, my post had been seen by 20,880 people. I kid you not. Now obviously not everyone acted on my post and out of that huge number a scant 75 clicked on my link to the book. I have no idea how many of those 75 actually downloaded the book, holding in mind that they were interested enough to follow the link, maybe a quarter of that number would have downloaded, but that’s pure conjecture on my part.


Okay, so far there are some high numbers that don’t seem to account for much, but the combination of the Facebook post, and my peddling, have created an impact. I checked my KDP reports this morning and the total number of free downloaded copies is –172. Not earth shattering I know, but I am very happy with that.

Time will tell if I this will have a run off effect on my actual sales; I think it will. Remember, 20,880 people saw my post, my cover and my title. That’s not a bad bit of marketing by anyone’s account, let alone an Indie Author trying to push her first book.  Maybe a few of those 20,880 (I just like saying it) people will hear through the grapevine that the book is, “a good read” or my favorite, “awesome!”  and will decided to download it for themselves.

I believe that this is a step closer to success, and the ever elusive book deal. Here’s hoping.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

I'm published!

Okay, so I haven't been picked up by a publisher, but I have self-published.  I have joined the proud ranks of the Indies, and this morning my first Book, A Taste of Reality, became available through Amazon.

It has been a long time coming, and I'll be the first to admit that there is a lot more to writing and getting published than I first thought. Now, almost two years to the day when I first started this project, I have learnt more than I can remember, luckily I took notes. My second book will come together more quickly and smoothly, (I hope) and it is my plan to have it published sometime this year.

But back my newly published book. Sadly, writing and publishing is still only the tip of the iceberg, now I have to sell it. And for that I need your help! I know I haven't been the most consistent blogger, to be honest I just can't find the time, but here I am now, asking for your help.

This link, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I0UXA7C will take you directly to my book, if you think it is something you might enjoy, I encourage you to buy it, read it and leave a review/comment. If it is not to your taste, but you know someone who likes this genre, then please, share this link with them.

Yes I admit, this is a blatant attempt to sell my book, but please don't think badly of me. I have no other means of advertising or promoting my work.  The following link is to my Facebook page,  https://www.facebook.com/JoanneMcDonnellAuthor?ref=hl
again feel free to share, like and leave comments on this page.

Now to pique your interest, her is the blurb on my book.

When Rosie and her friends discover that Melbourne’s nights are ruled by a secret society of vampires, their lives are changed forever.
The death of a single vampire ignites the fanatical wrath of a pure-blood, who actively hunts the teenagers. Faced with the fight of their lives, they discover that one of their friends is “not quite human” and Sorin, an enigmatic man who demands their trust, is clearly obsessed with Rosie.
Battles are fought and lives are lost, but the final explosive conflict leaves the teenagers distraught and confused. Only one thing is clear–life will never be the same. For some, neither will death…


I do hope you have the opportunity to purchase A Taste of Reality, but more importantly, I hope that you enjoy it! 




Sunday, 14 July 2013

Goodness! Has it been that long?

Wow, I just logged onto my blog, and even though I know it’s been a while since I have updated it, I must say – I was shocked at how long it has actually been.

I hang my head in shame and apologise to my followers, all five of you. (If I haven’t already thanked you, let me do it now: thank you for not leaving me all alone out here.)
So where have I been and what have I been doing? Some of my time has been taken up with life in general, you know, family, friends, dogs, etc. However, the rest of my time has been spent following my Manuscript Assessors directions as I reworked my book.    

My MA made it painfully obvious to me just how much I did not know about the art of writing, and as a result it was a major rework.  I tidied up my characters to make them more consistent and/or believable. I was made aware of things such as Head Hopping, View Point, Info Dump and World Building, amongst others.   Things that, in all honesty, I should have known about before I even started to write.  I didn’t know about them then, but I do now, and my storytelling is much the better for it.  Mind you, my editing still leaves a lot to be desired - but that’s what the professional editors are for, and who am I to do them out of a job.
So I started in January and finished my rework by the end of March, I then sat back to read my book cover to cover.  Guess what?  I was still making changes (sigh).  Bring on rework number two.  This one was not so drastic, I tightened up the story, got rid of some more Padding, and some duplication. Now the story flows nicely, the pace is fast, the twist and turns are less complicated to follow, but just as exciting, the characters are real - and I still love the ending. 

So, all of that work brought me to June, and another round of publishers. To be honest, I don’t know if I will find a publisher who is willing to take a leap of faith in my work, (but if you are out there and are reading this – you won’t be disappointed).   For a start, out of all of the Australian publishers that I have come across, I could only find 6 that are taking unsolicited manuscripts. I cannot stress enough that it is extremely difficult to get your work published, no matter how good it is. Let me know if you agree or not, but I would guestimate that writing a book is about 30% inspiration 70% hard work, but finding a publisher is 10% hard work 90% luck. You have to find a publisher who is taking unsolicited works, who is looking for work in your genre, and who likes what he/she reads in your 1 -3 chapters, plus synopsis and cover letter, more than the other thousands, yes thousands, of sample chapters that he/she has to sift through a month.
But I will not give up. If no publisher is willing to give me a go, then I will go down the Indie path, but before I do that - I have to build my online presence, and that’s a topic for another blog.

I will try to blog on a more regular basis, if not on my attempts to get published, (there’s not a lot to write about when you are playing the waiting game).  Still, I can update you on the antics of my beautiful girls, Willow and Alba, or our impending trip to Alaska.  I can’t wait for that.
In the meantime, to all of my fellow writers; may your imaginations roam wild through the landscapes of your mind, and your fingers fly free over your keyboards.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Just call me Mrs Talented

I know this blog is a long time coming, but I have come to discover that my written communication skills are much the same as my verbal, that is…if I have nothing to say I say nothing.  However, now I have something to say about my journey towards getting my first YA book published.

You may recall that I had sent my manuscript off to a Manuscript Assessor (MA) and was preparing for a long, anxious and as it turns out unproductive wait.  Long – two months. Unproductive – well let’s just say I found it very hard to concentrate on anything while my first born was in the hands of a professional. Anyway, my time is up and my manuscript appraisal has been delivered to me as promised and on time.
When I sent my manuscript off I was a bit concerned about whether or not I would be getting value for my money; well I did, and then some. My MA sent me an extensive 15 page assessment of my work and detailed comments, instructions and suggestions notated throughout my entire manuscript; and not just froth and bubble, what I received from my MA was solid, substantial feedback.  
So, I guess you’re wondering what the verdict was?  OK, here I go.  Let me start offering a quote from the email sent to me from my MA. "This book has the young, edgy YA appeal that many of the big publishers are looking for.  Don’t get too excited. She also wrote that I should not be daunted by the inordinate amount of editing I have in front of me in order to get my manuscript to a point where it is ready to be presented to the publishers.  

I have to say that my determination to see my work through to publication has not faltered since my journey began; but encouraging feedback from a professional is so motivating, it’s like music to my ears.
My MA made comments such as;

“…you’ve created a vivid, exciting story that’s well worth editing.” and

“…it was a solid action-packed chapter, well done.” and my personal favourite,

“…and of course the most important thing is you’ve got talent.”



 

Perhaps boosting my motivation is not what has really happened here; perhaps it’s my confidence that has been bolstered and the hounds of doubt, which had been snapping at my heels, have been sent packing.
 Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of negatives in my manuscript assessment as well as the many reassurances, I need to spruce up a couple of my characters, and tidy up my editing issues of which there are many, but…I have a way forward and am eager to get back to work. One thing is certain though…if you are into instant gratification, then writing is not the game for you so give it up now, because if you are serious you have to be in it for the long haul.

So this part of my journey has all been about using a professional manuscript assessor and I must say that in this case I have taken steps in the right direction. My MA has proven to be highly professional, highly valuable and a source of genuine encouragement. I have no qualms in saying that my money was well spent and I can now see a glimmer of light at the end of this very long tunnel.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

E Book versus Tree Book


E Book versus Tree Book - This was a catchy phrase I heard on the radio and I think it asks a good question.  Which do you prefer? Which do I prefer for that matter? After all it is my blog.

I have to say that I love books. I love the soft rustle of the page as it turns to reveal more of the book’s mystery. I love that unique smell of ink on paper and I love to study the front cover. I like to try to relate the cover picture to a particular scene within the book, not always possible I know, because some covers are abstract to the extreme and others seem to have no relation what-so-ever to the story.  Still…I like to look. That sounds creepy doesn’t it?  The point is…the paperback has a distinct physicality that just isn’t present with an e book.

Then you have to consider the process involved in purchasing a book.  I have spent many hours roaming the shelves in the bookstores, (now it seems to take me hours just to find a bookstore) I’d scan the colourful, exciting and sometimes misleading covers, until I found one in my ‘genre of the day’ that caught my eye. Phase two; pick it up and read the blurb on the back, if it sounded good I had one more test to run before it left the store with me.  Flicking through a few pages I’d check out the style of the author, that’s my thing…no matter how good the story sounds, I won’t buy it if I don’t like the way it was written.

Yes, buying and reading the good old paperback is undoubtedly good for the senses. Whether curling up on the sofa, soaking in the bath or killing time on public transport. Even licking your fingers to turn the page, and then wondering what that god-awful taste was, only adds to the experience of enjoying a good book. Except…since I bought an e reader (shock horror) none of those things seem important anymore.

What made me put aside all of the emotional and pleasurable experiences of purchasing and reading a Tree Book, for the more clinical practice of reading an E Book?  Well to be honest I only did it to help me get published.  Huh?  Most of you know that I have written a Young Adult (YA) novel.  Now, I probably shouldn’t make this public knowledge, but I did promise to keep you updated with my efforts towards getting my book published, so here I go.

When I started sending my manuscript out, a lot of publishers wanted to know what YA novels I had read recently, and who my favourite authors were.  It shames me to say that I hadn’t read any. (Sorry publishers)  To be totally honest I hadn’t read much of anything over the past 9 months as I had been totally focused on writing. So what’s a girl to do?  I immediately ordered and e reader then started to look at the YA e books available online, there are millions.  As soon as my e reader arrived, I got to buying.  I now have a small library of YA novels, and a few other things as well, so I don’t have to make things up next time I send my manuscript to a publisher. (Again I am sorry.)

I have to say that I didn’t like the e reader at first.  It just didn’t feel or smell the same, and there was no licking of the finger required, just a simple tap on the screen.  But it serves its purpose well. The stories are the same, the pages still turn and when you open it, it always takes you back to where you left off.  I’m sure we’ve all lost our bookmarks and spent the first couple of valuable reading minutes searching for our place, well…never again.

I’ll admit that I am a true convert and I make no apologies for it. I can take my books; notice the plurality, everywhere with me. I no longer have to fit a door stop of a book into my already crowded handbag; this is a big bonus for me because as well as the other bits and pieces in my bag I now have to carry reading glasses.  Does anyone know why they give us such big, bulky cases for our reading glasses?  Do they think we are too blind to find them otherwise? I digress. If I want a book I can download it in minutes, it can be read in the sunlight or shade, indoors or out and it is small, light and portable. I do miss browsing the book stores, although I know I could still browse, I would feel guilty when I went home to buy online.

There is one big drawback for me in using an e Book; you see I have a bad memory, a really bad memory.  I even bought a book years ago about how to improve my memory and I forgot where I put it…I kid you not. Okay, so when I pick up a paperback I would always look at the cover while I got settled. In doing this I read the book title and the name of the author.  Now over the days or weeks of reading the book those two bits of information tended to stick in my memory.  I can still list dozens of book titles and authors that I have read, even as far back as my school days (and that’s a very long time ago).  But when I pick up my e reader and switch it on, all I see is the pretty cover I bought for it, then it opens to the last page I read, so if you were to ask me to give the titles and authors of the books that I have read on my e reader, I’d have to say…none.  

For me it’s a bit of a conversation killer,

“Yeah, I just finished this great book. No sorry can’t for the life of me remember the title. Nope don’t know who wrote it either.” See what I mean?

For the authors it’s not so good either, they need to be remembered and to be talked about, especially in this techno age where word of mouth and social media rules, though I think I have found a solution to my problem. I will try printing a copy of the book cover and stick it onto the inside cover of my e reader.
Does that mean I’ll have the world’s first             e tree reader?


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Back on Track

Ok here I am again to update you on my progress along the publishing path.  Now if I was a woman of few words and of weak character I would simply say, No one is interested…I’m giving up! Luckily for you, or unluckily whichever way you want to see it, I am neither of those.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog I submitted my manuscript to four publishers and one agency, all of whom have elected to pass me by…their loss. Again I remind myself of JK Rowling and as it turns out many more successful authors, who received multiple rejections before their ultimate success. Follow this link, http://www.onlinecollege.org/2010/05/17/50-iconic-writers-who-were-repeatedly-rejected/ for an extensive list including some of my favourites, William Golding, Ursula Le Guin, James Patterson and Frank Herbert, check it out.  Believe me it’s worth looking at if only for the reassurance to keep on going.
So…what’s next for me now?  Well I am up for another round of submissions but I am also looking at joining the “indies” and self-publishing an e-book. If I do that I want my work to be flawless, and for that I need help. So…I have just sent my manuscript off to a Manuscript Assessor (MA). Yes I know I should have done that before I sent it off to the publishers, just remember…my blog is about the journey I am taking and that includes all of the stuff ups, of which I am sure there will be many - so learn from them. The MA will appraise the plot, structure, characterisation and dialog, amongst other things, and will hopefully reassure me that I am on the right track, and provide pointers to get me to where I want to be.
I have to tell you, sending my manuscript off to the MA was hard; maybe even harder than sending it off to the publishers. Why? I think because I had toughened myself mentally against the possible rejections. Now the publishers only saw a single page synopsis and a chapter at most, while the MA has the full manuscript, and her job is to objectively critique it. So for the very first time a professional will be reading my manuscript, and she will provide an unbiased, honest report on its quality.  Now tell me that doesn’t send a shiver up your spine!
The bad news is I have a very nervous wait ahead of me, nothing happens quickly in this industry and it will be a couple of months before I hear anything. I will let you know what my MA thought about my work; if I thought it was worth the wait and the money, and whether I thought it was beneficial to me as a budding writer. I am sure it will be.
On the upside, now that I don’t have any distractions relating to the first book, I can continue to work on the second book in my trilogy and I will be able to update my blog on a more regular basis.
I hope you enjoy the photos I post on my blogs, photography is another passion of mine. If you like these little snippets that represent spring, the season for new beginnings, feel free to check out more of the same on my Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/#!/joanne.pick.1238