Do we give readers what marketers say they want, or what we want to write?

Over the past year or so I have paid for a number of marketing courses to help me sell my books. Unfortunately, when I signed up I didn’t realise that when they promised that I would sell tons of books if I followed their plan, that the books they were talking about wouldn’t be mine.

What do you mean? I hear you say.

Well, I mean, that these courses are designed to help you sell books that sell, which may not necessarily be your books. They cater for genre pulp fiction or non-fiction self-help type books. If you don’t write stuff like that, then from my experience, you won’t sell that many books. If you  follow the training in all of these authorpreneurral type courses where a few writers make millions out of selling novella style crime/mystery/whodunnit stories, then you will succeed. Especially if you are prepared to give most of your books away. Literature in general is suffering because of this influx of junk food style prose, in my opinion.

Readers don’t always want safe, they want different. Give it to them – please!

I don’t want to write like everyone else.

My motivation for writing does not come from the desire to make money, it comes from the desire to write for the thrill, the fun, the wonder of the written word. I am passionate about my writing. I laugh, cry, hurt when I write. I feel exhausted sometimes after I have spent a few hours struggling with sentences that won’t work, or characters that say things like, ‘Paul, we’ve done it!’ Ah! Done what? Now I have to figure out what they’ve done. It’s called imagination and you won’t find that in any course.

So, writers, not authors, writers – write from the heart, the gut, the soul – not from the bank account.

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Here is a wonderful poem by Charles Bukowski which sums up my rant beautifully.

So You Want To Be A Writer

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

 

If you would like to know more about my work, please visit my website  Oddly Books:

http://www.oddlybooks.com

 

Dare to be Different

Today I would like to show you the new covers for my sci-fi/dystopian action adventure series – The Song of Forgetfulness.

It has been a challenge to find the right design and I have gone through many covers none of which made me happy. These ones do. I’ve had some excellent feedback from people and have taken on board their comments to tweak my design.

But – it would seem there are some sci-fi writers out there who think my fonts aren’t suitable and should be more like the ones that they use. I took a look at their covers and thought, ‘No, thank you. My books aren’t anything like your books. So why would I want them to look like yours?’

Yes, I understand that I need to make the covers suggest my genre, but I will not create a book cover that does not reflect the content. The Song of Forgetfulness series of novels is a little bit different. I think that is a good thing.

I do dare to be different.

Will readers like that?

Yes, judging by the positive reviews I get.

So, I will continue to write the way I want to and be true to my art, instead of churning out generic narratives that could be written by anybody.

Rant over.

Will I sell a load of books?

Perhaps, if I get the marketing right.

Learn more about the series here:

http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com

Or go to:

http://www.oddlybooks.com

Author Spotlight – Bonnie Milani

Greetings everyone and a very Happy New Year!

I thought I’d start 2017 with some author interviews. I love getting to know new writers and hearing about their work, so to start off, please welcome Sci-fi author Bonnie Milani. 

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 Who are you and what do you do? 

I’m the walking definition of a masochist:  a benefits broker specializing in micro-businesses under ObamaCare who is trying to build a professional reputation as a sci fi author.

What is your book about?

Which book?  Sorry, couldn’t resist.  My latest is ‘Cherry Pickers’, a teen girl’s light-hearted coming-of-age story – with spiders.  Very large, hopelessly romantic spiders.

 Why did you choose to write your book?

Y’know, I don’t think we choose our stories; I think our stories choose us.  In the case of ‘Cherry Pickers’ I’ve had one of the main characters, Sam, nested in a corner of my mind for more years than I’m willing to count.  Finally decided to let the poor guy out.  So, of course, now I’ve got another whole set of stories growing out of this one.

Cherry Pickers is only $0.99! You can grab a copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/Cherry-Pickers-Bonnie-Milani-ebook/dp/B01LZU1XK1

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You can read my review of Cherry Pickers at the end of this post.

What kind of research did you do?

I’ve sold other stories set on Sisyphus, the world-setting for ‘Cherry Pickers’, so I’d already done the research on the basics of the world itself: size, gravity, atmosphere, chemical composition, etc. I’d also researched arachnid characteristics & behaviors – which was a challenge, considering I’m a total arachnophobe. But the research led me to peacock spiders, & with that I had the ammunition I needed to work out how the Sissy culture would operate.  To give you an idea, here’s a link to the peacock spider’s mating dance: https://www.cnet.com/news/two-adorable-new-spiders-found-meet-sparklemuffin-and-skeletorus/  Just TRY not to think of John Travolta!

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

Time is always my challenge.  I have at best 1 hour a day, so progress tends to be slow.  Drives me up the creative wall. But it’s proof that determination & plain ol’ stick-to-it-ness eventually wins the day.

What was the best part of writing your book?

FINALLY getting it to where I felt it was right.  I THOUGHT I had it right on maybe the 4th rewrite, so I sent it off to my editor.  Oy, was I wrong.  Oh, OUCH was I wrong!  She sent back four single-spaced pages of just where & how severely wrong I was, along with commentary in the MS itself.  Exceedingly painful experience – but very, very necessary.  The story just would not have fulfilled itself otherwise.  I realized that after I finished reworking it.

Thought I’d slip in Bonnie’s award. Wow!

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Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to self-publish?

Oy, do I!  Perhaps the most important advice I can offer at all is to realize that posting your doc to Amazon does NOT equate to genuine self-publication, not if you want anyone to take you seriously as a writer.  Agreed, simply getting a MS up on Amazon is quite enough of a chore on its own, but it’s far & away the least, last, & most malleable item in the production chain.

If you’re serious about becoming a professional writer then you simply must learn the craft and write to a professional standard.  And that’s HARD, believe me.  I can tell you from experience that fiction writing is a thousand times more difficult than non-fiction.  I was writing NON-fiction for publication back in high school.  Waaay back in my twenties I was writing feature pieces for Science Digest, Peninsula, Mankind, The Atlantic City Press, as well as  various other newspapers.  In college I wrote an early environmental fairy tale that was picked up and used by the NJ Dept. of Education for grammar school children.  All exciting, professional work – and none of it even a fraction as challenging or just plain HARD as one fiction story.

Long story short: if you’re an aspiring author, then invest the time and money in yourself and your talent to learn how to make your stories WORK.  Learn three-act structure.  Learn character development, world-building, throughlines, the works.  Have your work edited by a professional in your chosen field.  Then swallow your tears (maybe with a glass of scotch or two) when your best efforts come back bruised and beaten.  REWRITE.  Cry or swear some more.  Then send it back to be edited again.  It’s hard, and it’s not cheap, but you’ll feel it when your story is ready to stand on its own and face the world.  Mind, then you have all the mechanical posting & proofing & such to face – but by then you’ve got something you KNOW is good enough to justify the effort.

Wow, that answer kinda got away from me!  Hope your followers find it helps!

 I’m sure they will, Bonnie, thanks.

Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?

In sci fi, it’s C.J. Cherryh, hands down.  Her tightly-plotted, women-oriented sci fi is what drew me back into writing after I’d given up for far too many years to help my husband build his business as well as starting my own insurance agency.

Outside of sci-fi, my favorites are the classic women authors: Jane Austen (‘Pride & Prejudice’ RULES!), Charlotte Bronte (‘Jane Eyre’), and of course, Harper Lee (‘To Kill a Mockingbird’)

What are your future writing plans?

I have another novella started.  After that, I plan on returning to the ‘Home World’ universe and completing the rest of the series.  Considering that universe has churned out about two generations worth of tales so far I figure that’s going to keep me busy for a lot of years to come!

Thank you Bonnie.

For more information about Bonnie and her books go to her Amazon Author page:

https://www.amazon.com/Bonnie-Milani/e/B00IPYW4HK/

 

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My review of Cherry Pickers:

Starship Troopers meets Arachnophobia

 I enjoyed this book a lot. I loved the idea of giant spiders being the main characters alongside their human counterparts. Bonnie Milani successfully makes you care about these large arachnids just as much as the human ones, as all her characters are utterly believable.

It was a fast paced read full of suspense, humour and wonderful descriptions of the alien world that made the narrative come alive.

The alien arachnids are both lovable and horrid. I hated the Sissies, but I adored Sam, the spider, he was funny and sensitive. I did feel sorry for Tsk, who’s fate was to become Kekh’s next mate. A thing he dreads, for obvious reasons.

The heroine Nikki is feisty and fun and she relates the story in a jaunty manner as she tries to sort out her role in the complex mating rituals and sinister schemes she has been drawn into. I shan’t spoil the plot, but I was hooked from the beginning to the unexpected end.

This is a great read for anyone who enjoys sci-fi with a difference.

 

New Release!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Just in time for the festive season, I have managed to finish and publish The Chronicles of Mayer – parts one and two. They are prequel stories for The Song of Forgetfulness Dystopian/Sci-fi series and give insight into how the world of NotSoGreatBritAlbion came to exist as it does in the books.

There are more stories to follow so I will be releasing them as and when I complete the manuscripts. I takes time as I have to do a lot of research into global warming, diseases, ice cap melting etc in order to get the facts right. I tell you, writing Sci-fi isn’t as easy as you might think. Creating future worlds is so creative, but I do need to male sure it is credible, hence the research.

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Here is the link and blurb for The Chronicles of Mayer:

 An Apocalyptic tale in The Song of Forgetfulness series.

A story of survival and courage in a devastated world.

When mother nature turns against mankind in the latter stages of the 21st century sending hurricanes, earthquakes, and deadly viruses to wipe out the human race, a small community of Buddhist monks and scientists are forced to evacuate Mahabharata House on the disused Lakenheath airbase, as rising waters engulf their home.

With many humans and animals drowned it is up to devotees Gopi Jnanamaya Kosha and Gopala Arjuna Bhutapanchaka, cow herds at Mahabharata, to protect the sacred bovines and take them to a safe haven in the highlands of Scotland.

During their arduous journey on foot and hoof, they meet other refugees of the catastrophic flood who join them on their mission to survive and build a sanctuary for themselves and the cows on the mountains of the Trossachs.

Tension mounts as dwindling food supplies cause friction and distrust amongst the disparate group. Their trek north becomes fraught with danger as hungry survivors clash and rogue soldiers try to butcher the holy herd.

As dangerous lightning storms, traitors and disease threaten to wreck their pilgrimage, Mayer and Arjuna must do battle not only with the elements but those who would kill to get their hands on the last remaining cattle in the ever diminishing island of Great Britain.

This is an accompaniment to The Song of Forgetfulness Sci-fi/Dystopian/Action Adventure series.

 

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful New Year!

Do you have a special place to write?

As I was typing away on my new project yesterday, it occurred to me that I need certain requirements to enable me to think, create and write. Not much to be honest, but I do have  my special place to help me channel my inspiration. I have a comfy chair with cushions, gentle lighting from the beautiful leaded light windows my husband, Martin made and my shelf of reference books ready to hand. When all that is in place I can happily delve into my fantasy world for hours.

Here is a photo of my ‘workstation’.

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Do any other authors out there have their special writing places? If so, I’d love to hear from you. If you have a picture, that would be even better.

I am currently working on a series of stories to complement my Sci-fi/Dystopian/Action Adventure books The Song of Forgetfulness.

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The idea came from several readers who contacted me after reading the books wanting to know more about the history of the world I have created. So, I thought, okay, why not?

Can of worms!

I needed to do a lot of research to make my history credible. So it has taken longer than I anticipated to write this prequel of sorts. In fact, I’m nowhere near done, but I have finished the first part, so that’s something.

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Here is a snippet from part two of The Chronicles of Mayer – out soon!

One weatherless night when quietness surrounded us and I lay snuggled against Paul, a sound awoke me. I thought at first it was just more thunder. But the thumping, rumbling noise was not coming from the sky. It was not the air echoing off a lightning bolt, but the thudding of many feet in unison. I rolled away from Paul’s sleep-twitching body and sat up. Glancing at the wet earth I noticed a puddle ripple. The cows called out. Paul stirred and Arjuna knelt beside me.

‘I was foraging for mushrooms and saw tiny lights. I climbed the branches of a tree and as the dark sky brightened to herald a new day, I saw them. Soldiers.’

‘How many.’ Fully awake, Paul stood. ‘Do they carry weapons?’

‘Guns. Some drag carts. They are coming this way.’

I rubbed my sleep-encrusted eyes. ‘That does not make sense. To travel towards the flooding? Why?

A single gunshot ricocheted through the forest. All that were in slumber jumped to their feet. Cries of puzzlement were met with a loud honking as if a nest of geese had been disturbed. Then a voice, deep and full of authority boomed out. ‘Stay perfectly still and you will not be harmed.’

If you would like more information about my books please do visit my website – Oddly Books.

www.oddlybooks.com

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Would you buy this book?

I have been working on my second short story collection for over a year now. I was going to publish it last Christmas, but like I said in my previous post, I got cold feet.

I have now finished it and will be publishing it on November 5th – Bonfire Night in the UK. May as well start with a bang!

Anyway, here is the blurb and cover. Would you buy this book?

Crow Bones:

Revenge, desire, elusive muses, incest, cannibalism, alien infanticide and a very angry goat.

Inspired by artists such as Chagall, Munch, and Banksy, these curious, darkly humorous and sometimes surreal stories explore human nature in all its disparate colours. From finding love against the odds on Blackpool Beach to surviving abandonment on a dying planet, each tale takes you to another time and place where reality is blurred and dreams mingle with the paint mist from a spray can.

 If you like authors such as Philip K Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Annie Proulx and Franz Kafka, then Crow Bones is the anthology for you.

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I will also be launching my new venture – Oddly Books  where I will be publishing my own weird novels and stories as well as getting together other like-minded authors to produce quality fiction that strays beyond the edge of reality.

So, if you are an author who writes quality, speculative, strange stories, please do get in touch.

Here is a short extract form one of the stories in the new anthology

 Soft Boiled.

“The hiss and babble of a pot brewing up bones and gristle gave the kitchen a sense of bustle despite the stillness of the sole occupant.

Alice, fixed to her seat, did not waft her flushed cheeks, scratch the itch that made her thigh twitch or wipe off the sticky fluid on her fingers. She just sat, stared at the pan and let the blood drip.”

My first short story anthology – Glimmer and other stories – the ebook is on offer at the moment for only $0.99 £0.99. You can purchase it on Amazon:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

Or from a variety of sites such as Kobo, itunes and Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below:
Any author interested in the Oddly Book anthology, please do get in touch. My email is: nikki@nicolamcdonagh.com. Or leave a comment with a contact for me to get in touch with you.
Thanks for reading!!

What stops you from publishing your work?

There are many reasons an author doesn’t get around to publishing their work. I know from my own experience how scary it is to actually get your stories/novels into the real world. The dread of waiting for that first review, the agonising over the cover, blurb, and oh, the list goes on. I wonder sometimes how any of us manage to do it at all.

I have been wanting to publish my second anthology of short stories for nearly a year now. They have been sitting  in Scrivener for ten months. I have edited, re-edited, edited again, tweaked, cut, added and edited the stories until I hate the very sight of them. Then I wake up and realise there is a plot flaw, or a character’s reaction to something isn’t quite right, and I go back to the story and re-write it. Then when I’m satisfied – ish – I start looking at the contents order, change it around, change it back and when I’m sick of that,  I go onto another project.

Why?

Because I want my work to be perfect. Until I think it is, I know that I will never publish.

Then a friend told me to stop being so precious and ‘anal and just publish the thing!’ She was right, of course. My writing is never going to be perfect. Even if I think the stories are as near perfect as I can get them, I guarantee that I will want to change something at some point.

So I have decided to go ahead and finally publish my second anthology of short stories.

Crow Bones.

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Due for release 5th November 2016 via my new publishing company – Oddly Books.

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Now that it’s official, I will have to do the deed.

Are there any authors out there who share my dithering when it comes to publishing? If so, what are the reasons you don’t do it? I’d love to hear from you, just so I know that I’m not alone.

My first collection of short stories – Glimmer – is on offer at the moment. Only $0.99 £0.99 on a variety of sites. Just click on this link to take you to where you can purchase your copy:  https://books2read.com/u/4AgOLA

Or go to Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H89AN1M

 Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/
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