2015 – the year that was

As I read other people’s 2015 reflections, I struggle to put mine together. Writing wise, it was pretty slow. I sold Unspoken (which was later renamed to Her Sweetest Downfall) and was published by Blue Tulip Publishing in April 2015. It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

As for the rest of the year, there was the usual family and work stuff, but I vowed to dedicate some time in promoting my works. I improved my website and worked hard on adding followers to my Facebook page.

For the later half of 2015, I spent a lot of time and money (Ssshh!) into promotion. While others failed, some succeeded.

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Her Sweetest Downfall saw its lowest Amazon rank of #27,811 and #47 in 20th century historical romance. I was very excited in seeing those results.

I started new projects and began working on a WIP called Grey Dawn. I was keen to write another historical fiction but after poor responses and sales, I decided to turn it into a speculative fiction, drawing some ideas from previous works into one.

2015 also marks the year I finished and sold my next release Rogue Agent to Limitless Publishing. I am excited to work with this new publisher and see where our new relationship takes us. Rogue Agent is scheduled for release on March 15 2016. I’m yet to receive my cover, but when I do, I’ll post it.

It appears 2015 was a better year than 2014 (You can read my 2014 reflection here), and I look forward to seeing what 2016 brings. I’ve never been one for new years resolutions but I have a few for this year:

  • Finish Grey Dawn
  • Obtain an agent
  • Make Rogue Agent a success
  • Work harder in promotion
  • Connect with readers
  • Network with other authors

I want to thank everyone for their support and friendship during the year. I’ve definitely increased my writer friends tenfold and I am very grateful to have met them. I joined a street team (S.A.S.S) who has helped me so much and I owe them everything.

What are your new years resolutions? Comment below.

 

 

 

 

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Character Highlight: Viola Craft

As a writer, nothing beats the immersion your work and characters instills in a reader. Upon the release of my WW2 romance Her Sweetest Downfall, I had a lot conflicting feedback about my heroine Viola Craft.

Viola lives in war torn London during one of the worst events in World War Two: The London Blitz. She’s trapped in a loveless and violent marriage. She wants only one thing: happiness. Yet does she ultimately achieve it?

I stripped Viola of everything that was family, love, safety and warmth. A reader once said to me that Viola never gets what she truly, deeply wants, she never fully grasps what peace and love really feels like. It’s always taken away from her and that’s what I wanted from the very beginning. I wanted her to represent and be a metaphor for war. She’s fragile, scared, vulnerable yet has a strength she does not know about.

A lot of readers have said to me that my book stayed with them long after reading. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. The choices the characters make and ultimately where Viola finds herself at the end of the book makes people question the whole story.

I love creating her but at the same time I wanted her to be a character women and people could relate to. She is the epitome of wartime women: strong, hardy, yet fragile. All she wanted was to have a loyal husband who loved and respected her and to be with him until they  their last breath. But she never achieved it, not even when she met Kristoff, and he was lost to her. It was hard to write moments like that because as a writer I want my creations to be happy. Originally I didn’t want Kristoff’s arc to end the way it did. I loved his relationship with Viola and what he represented. It was hard to end that connection but it was necessary to Viola’s story.

I knew as soon as I wrote the climax, I knew my readers would be conflicted. Why should I continue when Viola never gets what she wants?

After a long, hard think, I decided to give Viola the much needed peace she needed: a chance to move on. I created a life for her over the channel, away from the painful memories and heartbreak. Did it work out in the end? You’ll have to read and find out….

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Year End Splash Update

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Romance Review’s Year End Splash has started today. I’m scheduled on 23rd November with a Q an A and giveaway of my dystopian Edge of Tomorrow.

There will be more than 300 participating authors and publishers, and 300 prizes up for grabs during the whole month of November. Grand prize is an Amazon Kindle Fire HD7 (sponsored by Blushing Books)!

To enter my giveaway/game, please register and be logged in at TRR before the game starts. Registration is free and easy.

Here is a list off all giveaways from the other authors.

To participate in the Year End Splash, click here and don’t forget to log in and create an account!

The Three Walls

6a017d3e74d693970c01901e4f6719970b-320wiGetting an agent these days is a tough achievement and if you do manage to score one, it doesn’t mean instant success. I had an agent a few years ago, and while we had a great relationship, she struggled to sell my book. In the end, we parted ways and I sold the title to my current publisher.

In the world of agents, plucking a winner from the slush pile seems like a mean feat. They are extremely picky with who and what they choose. From what I’ve experienced over the years, I find there are three walls to break down before securing an agent:

  • The Query – This step manages to befall even the best of writers. Your query letter must be like a resume – professional, quick and relatable. What I mean by that is, you have to edit each query to every agent you query to. Like a job application, you wouldn’t send a CV with experience of retail to a doctor’s surgery. Every agent has different specifications you must adhere to and if you don’t, you’ve screwed your first impression. Always read the agent’s requests and follow them. Most of the time, they don’t accept unsolicited mail, so always copy and paste your sample into the body of an email. 99% of agents will ask this.

If you’re successful in your query, the agent will ask for sample chapters.

  • The sample chapters – Sample chapters will usually involve the first 1-3 chapters or the first 50 pages – whichever comes first. Always ensure your work is tip top shape before sending it over. Remember, the agent is keen to see more of your work so make sure it’s edited and formatted as per their site (if they request this). If they don’t, I usually submit in Times New Roman, font size 12 and line space of 1.5 or 2.

It will take time for them to get back to you, so BE PATIENT! The agent will usually specify how long it will take to come back with an answer on their website. 6-8 weeks is pretty standard for samples. Some agents might even take more. If you get itchy feet and its hitting the 9-10 week mark, send the agent a polite email chasing up your work. If they don’t reply within a normal time frame, don’t keep sending emails. Just assume your work wasn’t successful.

  • The Full MS – By this point, you have secured the agent’s interest. Well done! It’s an exciting and hellish time. The agent can take up to 3 months to read your work and get back to you. This wall is the hardest to break. The smallest thing can alter their decision – the main character ticked them off or the book’s ending didn’t satisfy them. It’s important to invest in good beta readers to ensure your work is covered by different types of readers. Each person is unique in what they like and spot in your work.

It’s okay to send a reminder to the agent if they haven’t gotten back to you within their time frame. It’s during this time, you should do some background on the agency in case they offer representation. This should be done from the query side, but it doesn’t hurt to look now. Contact their authors and politely ask what they are like etc.  If you are happy with what you’ve found out, sit back and wait for their response.

While the rate of authors being picked up isn’t rare, the numbers are small. Some agencies only sign 5-10% of their slush pile. If an agent likes your work and sees potential, they will offer representation. Congratulations!  The next step is world domination!