Tag Archives: novel

Happy belated birthday to Shizzle, Inc!

With all the recent health drama going on, I completely forgot that on 4 September was the one-year anniversary of Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1) hitting the Kindle “shelves.” My brain is slowly returning to its usual programming after I finally heard the three sweetest words in the English language – “it was benign.” While I’m facing several more weeks of tough recovery – I still can’t stand up straight or walk for more than a few minutes at a time – it’s nothing compared to the agony of anticipation and anxiety.

I’ve been a published author for just over a year. How crazy. I have a bottle of champagne in my fridge, which will pop as soon as I’m off the cocktail of painkillers. Too bad I can’t have a sip right now, because I do have quite a few reasons to celebrate. I transitioned from a decade of dreaming about being a published author to having two books self-published. I took a massive five months off work to pursue this writing dream. I started #ComedyBookWeek and saw the inaugural event soar with 117 participating titles. I have made lots and lots of connections with other authors, have learned from them, and shared my experiences in turn.

Speaking of experiences, few things compare to the joy ride of getting your first book published. The high of seeing it on Amazon. The low of pathetic sales. The high of doing something about the low sales, be that paid advertising or trick after marketing trick. The low of realizing this is one of the worst ROIs you’ve ever had. The high of the first 5-star review. The low of the first (and second, and third) 1-star review. It doesn’t end, and it doesn’t get old, and eventually you learn to accept it for what it is. The learning curve is very steep in that first year, and I have learned lots, namely:

  1. I have improved as a writer as I continued to work on the second novel, so it’s been difficult (but necessary) to let go of the first book and stop trying to fix it. I did hire the fourth (!) editor to clean out Australianisms, but will not worry about it again. I will move on and write more, because Ana’s opus is yet unwritten.
  2. I have learned A TON about marketing a book. From cover design to launching, to which paid advertising sites work, and which don’t. If you haven’t seen my Super-Duper List of Book Advertising Sites, check it now. It may save you a few bucks. I haven’t hit NY Times list yet, but while Shizzle, Inc sold 12 copies in it’s first week, Indiot sold over 100 in the same amount of time.
  3. Speaking of sales, Shizzle, Inc sold a total of about 800 copies in its first 8 months, at $3.99, then $2.99, and finally $0.99. Its permafree now and thousands of free copies have been downloaded (I wish I kept a better eye on the numbers, as I can only look back at the last 90 days). It was hard work to push these sales along – I have not made my money back on all of my paid advertising experiments, and even the free downloads have withered down to nothing over the last few weeks, without ads. Just for fun, here are the last month’s charts: Shizzle, Inc free downloads shizzle-on-12-sept …and Indiot paid sales indiot-on-12-sept
  4. Going permafree was a difficult, but exciting decision, and one I still stand by. No, it’s not helping to pay back the investment, but Shizzle, Inc now has 73 reviews, and I am inching my way towards that elusive BookBub promo. Indiot is not doing too shabby, either, with 12 reviews in its first two months of existence.
  5. Speaking of reviews, I’ve learned to accept them as they are. At first, the 1-star reviews hurt so much that I’d even written A Simple Guide to Overcoming 1-star Review Grief. Now I just make sure that I read those bad reviews only once. The 5-star reviews, however, I read again and again. Kid you not, some of the early positive reviews I’ve read at least twenty times, and will undoubtedly read again. They have been a healing balm and a fuel to keep me going.
  6. I’ve learned that moving a book in a brick-and-mortar store is practically impossible. It was a thrill to see my book on a bookstore shelf and then into the bookstore’s front window, but I sold just two copies that way. From now on, I will concentrate on electronic book sales, until one of the big publishing houses offers to take this chore off my hands.
  7. Social media. Oh, boy, what have I not tried with social media? I went wide, and now there are dead accounts on just about every platform. My main lesson there was not to spread myself thin and to concentrate on just a couple of venues, which are this blog and Twitter for me. I did learn a lot about Goodreads, but Found Instagram and Facebook to be too much of a chore with little return.

This was an intense year, and I could probably go indefinitely with the dot-points, but I think the most important thing is that I’m still here and still kicking, despite now being well aware of the realities of self-publishing. It’s difficult, it’s often discouraging, expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. Good thing that it’s also liberating, empowering, educating, and inspiring. I’ve been a self-published author for one year, which is both a long time and not nearly long enough to count any chickens yet. I like to play this game sometimes, where the future me has something to say in terms of advice or encouragement. I’d like to think that Ana 2020 would thank me for not giving up on this dream the way I gave up on sculpture or breeding rare fish (okay, that one was a doozy).

Happy Birthday, Shizzle, Inc. I’m so glad to have you in my life.

 

 

 

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Whatever you do, keep going

So, life has served me a curve ball, followed by an uppercut, and then a short left. I will explain later when I’m able to put it in words, but for now, I’d like to share a personal blast from a past with you:

IMG_3250

This is a 12-year old relic of my attempt to become a professional sculptor – note the date in the upper-right corner. The numbers refer to the two miniature sculptures pictured, the one on the left is “-4” because I numbered #1 the first miniature I’d sold on eBay. The one on the right is #22 and once I finished it, it had won an honorable mention in an international doll competition:

22goodfull

The reason I wanted to show you the first photo, was to remind you (and myself) that the most important thing we, creatives, can do is to keep going. With each sculpture or draft, we are getting better and closer to that all-important goal of producing something beautiful, something of value, and something that can make us proud. When I made that “-4”, I thought I was pretty darn clever and good to make something that cute. My sister loved it. I now laugh at that memory. Nobody saw it, thank God, and I continued making more and more miniatures until I became a self-taught pro at making realistic faces that are no larger than your thumbnail. If you don’t believe it, have a look at my Purelines website, which somehow is still up. Yes, those dolls have real eyelashes, and yes, that’s my hand in the photos.

I went on to make more sculptures, with a burning desire to become a portrait sculptor. One of my favourites is of a famous actress I hope you can recognise:

Angelina in clay

I finally gave up when it became too obvious that people did not want to pay for sculptures, or rather to pay for the hundreds of hours it takes to make one. I hope to pick it up again one day when I have more time and less pressure to make a living. Until then, I will write books that don’t sell with the hope of one day becoming so damn good at this writing thing, my new release will become an instant success.

Even if it has to be a #22.

 

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#ComedyBookWeek review – Beaver vs. Beaver by Portia Porter, Esq.

I couldn’t help myself – despite going nuts with trying to figure out HTML and keep track of all the updates, I’ve read another book from the 117 funny books on offer at #ComedyBookWeek. This is not an ordinary event, and it features some not-so-ordinary books. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that Beaver vs, Beaver came out at me from the left field. It’s a humorous memoir of a divorce lawyer, striking out on her own for the first time, and landing her very first client – a multi-millionaire, no less. I don’t know what I expected, although it was probably something along the lines of Ally McBeal. It promised an insider look into the family law court, and I settled in, looking forward to some light reading and maybe relieving my dreams of being an attorney. ‘Cause I could totally do that. I work hard, and I can look adorable when in the right mood and viewed from the right angle.

Oh. My. God. This was so not Ally McBeal.

Yes, it’s an insight into the law practice, alright. And yes – it’s funny when Portia Porter pulls down the pants of the legal practice and reveals all of its warts. It’s like she’s the Julian Assange of family law, but without that rapey vibe. There’s the part towards the end of the book, where the narrative steps away from the main story and details some of the ways the lawyers go about screwing each other, the judge, vice versa, the client and vice versa, and various combinations of the above. Because of that, I see this book as a short course for potential clients, told in a humorous way. Portia is also a Malcolm Gladwell of sorts – educating you about something as painful and dry as divorce proceedings through storytelling and humor.

The story is told from the first person, but you get to understand what Portia in the story doesn’t yet know. It’s gut-wrenching in the way that makes people in movie theaters yell “Don’t open that door!” I actually had to stop in the middle of the book and take a walk when she did open that door – the pain of anticipating the ultimate swindle was excruciating. I don’t want to reveal too much, sufficient to say that I found the resolution of the story very satisfying.

The voice of the book is both intelligent and lighthearted:

“Lawyers on TV—at least the ones who play the good sort—never have the smallest problems with their memory and organization. All the exhibits are always at their fingertips, they never forget a date, they have the statutory Codes memorized cold, even when they must quote what is a five sub-paragraph deep citation.”

“8:55 A.M. Judge’s bench still empty. It’s just me, Ms. “Human Coil” Boom and the sheriff.
9:10 A.M. No change.
9:20 A.M. No change.
9:25 A.M. Starting to lose hope. The judge forgot about us probably.
10:10 A.M. The back door opens . . . false alarm! It’s the Judge’s Secretary Tonya, the author of the cryptic email.”

Expertly written, flowing prose has been just as expertly edited, something that is too often overlooked. I’ve learned quite a few things from reading this book – for starters, that I’m not cut out for the court. That if I ever do have to hire a lawyer, I’ll make sure I won’t have to fire him or her. Oh, and that I will have to read her other books: Can You Stiff Your Divorce Lawyer? and Alienation of Affections.

Buy Beaver vs. Beaver to read just for kicks, and then to keep on your bookshelf, you know, just in case. Buy it if you or anyone you know is considering a divorce. And, for the love of God, buy it for that bright-eyed daughter or niece of yours that is nurturing dreams of being the next Ally McBeal.

You can thank me later.

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#ComedyBookWeek review – There’s been a Change of Plans by Amy Koko

Hey, it’s Day 7 of 8-day-long #ComedyBookWeek! It has been a surreal experience, and a hectic one, with emails pouring into my inbox every day, asking to add even more books to the participating list. Good thing I’ve been on leave, because all my energy went into making sure all the links work and all the emails are answered.

This has been going on for the last month or so, and to tell you the truth, I did not plan to review any of the participating books – simply no time. Still, one of the blurbs attracted my attention. The next thing I knew, I was reading “Look Inside” excerpt of There’s Been A Change Of Plans: A Memoir about Divorce, Dating and Delinquents in Mid-Life, and once I finished that, I had to know what happens next.

The author pretty much had me at the opening scene, in which she is admiring her brand-spanking-new washer and dryer and expecting an announcement about the overseas trip from her husband. Instead, she gets some unexpected news – there’s been a change of plans. No trip to Italy – Amy is about to embark on a rollecoaster ride through mid-life crisis.

I finished this book in two days. I would have read it in one setting, if not for the constantly dinging email notifications. It’s a true story, but told in such a funny, engaging voice, that I had to remind myself that this has actually happened to a real person and not to some fictional character. I was cheering along and face-palming with every twist and turn of the plot…I mean, the real story! I caught myself anticipating the reveal of the Other Woman’s hair style and body type; getting angry at The Husband; cringing at The Dates; and getting frustrated with The Job Search.

This is officially my very first review, so I am probably not following the Best Practice of Book Reviews. All I can say is that I loved it, and that the protagonist reminded me of Isa Maxwell, so I can confidently recommend this book to anyone who liked one of my own books. As mentioned, I found the voice of the author to be the best part of the whole experience, so I’d like to share a few of my favourite quotes with you:

“I pictured myself in the Pinellas County jail, my orange jumpsuit stained with sweat and maybe a little pee, eating beans from a tray with a spork and all bloated from not pooping in months.”

“No more drunk e-mails that now, for sure, had killed any chance I ever had at running for governor.”

“Think! I tell myself, think back to that day roughly thirty years ago when you made that brilliant decision to drop out of college. What was your career goal?”

“…for a moment I was temporarily blinded by a vision of me drinking champagne at gallery openings and exhibits, where the artist would probably approach
me and ask if he could paint me and I would have to politely decline and walk away leaving him standing there breathless and disappointed.”

“Yes, I went into divorce kicking and screaming and drunk texting with some slight stalking thrown in. But on a positive note, I came out stronger and with some great new underwear.”

All I can say is, give the “Look Inside” excerpt a go – I’m willing to bet you won’t be able to put it down.

After reading the book, I just had to learn more about the author, and luckily she was willing to answer my questions. Everyone, please put your hands together for Amy Koko!

amy cover photo

Hi, Amy, and thank you for your time to answer the questions that I’m sure will be on the mind of other readers. For starters, your book is hilarious, especially the comedic voice, which I’m sure took years to develop. When and how did you come to be a comedian? Is it genetic or learned? Can you recall the first time you’ve made an audience of at least one laugh?

I will be honest Ana, I never really tried to be funny, I just started writing and this is what came out, so I am going to say it is genetic. That being said, I definitely have my comedic idols that I turn to for inspiration, such as Nora Ephron, Helen Fielding and I adore Mindy Kaling and Amy Schumer. Jenny Lawson is another favorite.

Do you have other outlets for your comedy, such as acting or stand up?

Oh my gosh no! I am horrible at telling jokes, I start speeding up as I get closer to the punch line and find people staring at me, mouths open, like, “What? I don’t get it,” as they head back to the humus dip.

Is your book mixing fact with fiction, or is it autobiographical? If it is close to the truth, how did you feel about a tell-all story – did you have fears or backlash from anyone?

Ana, this story is 100% true. Names have been changed such as my husband’s and my children and I also had to change Doritos to “chips” but it is all true. I did fear some backlash and long lasting effects on my kids, after all it does go into some very personal details of my intimate life with my husband, their father. Still, I felt like my story could help and hopefully inspire other women out there going through this gut wrenching experience so I had to get it out there, and I believe my kids are proud.

How long did it take you to create this book, from the first idea to publishing? How long did each stage take, for example, the concept, the first draft, and then preparing for publishing?

The book took me roughly a year of devoted writing. This includes formulating the book proposal which is actually harder than writing the book! It has to include your marketing strategy, stats and analytics, and WHO is going to actually buy your book and a completed table of contents. This 50 page document complete with the first three chapters, is what my agent was able to sell to the publisher. I met with my writing coach every two weeks which helped keep me on track and accountable.

How did you find the experience of selling your book to a traditional publisher?

The first step for me was finding an agent which is no easy task as any writer will tell you. Talk about low self esteem…wow! It’s not for the faint of heart that’s for sure. It was my agent who actually sold this book to a large publisher and I was thrilled beyond words. Imagine how devastated I was months later, when they told me that they had lost several editors and were no longer doing memoirs. I was able to keep my advance but they would not be publishing the book. My agent then sold it to a small independent publisher, Martin-Brown who published it in October.

What is next for you? Will we see more autobiographical stories, or will it be fiction? Have you thought of turning your book into a screenplay?

I am currently working on a fiction novel, although isn’t everything we write really based on things we know? I am excited about the concept and plan to have it finished in late September. It is a hysterical tale of a midlife woman who moves from a small town in Florida to New York City and becomes a…oops…you’re going to have to read it!

I would love to turn my book into a screenplay and as a matter of fact I have been looking for courses in screenplay writing as I have never attempted one before. I do think that Change of Plans, and my new book as well would do great as screenplays.

What do you wish you’ve done differently – or what were your biggest lessons learned?

As far as my book goes, my biggest wish is that I had paid for a professional editor. I now know I cannot edit my own work, it’s like trying to find imperfections in your children’s faces which we all know is impossible because they are totally perfect. So that is a BIG lesson learned for going forward. The other lesson I learned is to stop doubting and start doing. Life is short and based on the rate that my eyebrows seem to be disappearing, I don’t think I’m getting any younger.

Once again, please put your hands together for Amy Koko…I mean, put them on the keyboard and download her book:

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Save $150 and a week – quick how-to format a CreateSpace book interior yourself

When I published Shizzle, Inc last year, I paid somebody to format the PDF interior layout. It cost me about $150 and a week of back-and-forth with a reputable company, that did a good job. Eventually. The problem is, now I have to pay them again because I have had the book re-edited by an American editor. And again if I want to change a single comma – they did it on a Mac, and even though they were nice enough to provide the Word file, it looks like garbage when I open it on my PC.

In case you’ve never had to deal with an interior file and don’t know what it is – it’s a PDF of your book, laid out exactly the way your book will look, from the first page to the last. It includes the title page, page numbers, book name and your name at the top of each page, drop-caps (the first letter of the chapter being ten times bigger than other letters), the exact font, and all that. It sounds easy, but it takes time to make your book look beautiful, and that’s why the pros charge you for it.

So anyway, this time around, I was determined to tackle the formatting of Indiot myself. I mean, there are templates for this kind of thing, so how difficult could it be?

Try two days of pulling hair, yelling at your computer, and yelling “I’m busy!” at the phone when it dings just as you’ve discovered an odd blank page in your document. When you (I mean, I) do anything the first time around, it takes five times longer and hurts ten times worse than it should. I spent two days working on the file but, after an emergency nap, I can assure you that it could have been done in two hours if one (I mean, I) knew what they were doing.

The following is not intended to be a complete guide, it’s more of the step-by-step blueprint of what I will do next time to complete the file formatting process. Just so that I don’t forget how I did it or what lessons I’ve learned. It assumes that you’re using Word, and none of them fancy-shmancy designer thingamajigs.

  1. Download an interior template from CreateSpace. I chose a 6×9 preformatted template. I did try to use a blank template at first, but that would require more Word skills that I currently possess. The preformatted template already looks like a book, so you can understand what it is you’re supposed to do.
  2. On the title page, type in the title and author name, changing the fonts to match the book cover.
  3. Copy and paste the copyright page and the dedication. Make sure the ISBN numbers match that of the paperback edition, not the ebook format!
  4. Type in your name and book name in the header. Title font in header should match the font used for the body of text, for a clean look. I’ve tried doing the same title font as the cover, but it’s distracting.
  5. If you have few chapters, copy and paste each chapter in place of the “placeholder chapters” text using “merge formatting” option. DO NOT use “text only” – I realised only later that it meant ALL my italicised text became un-italicised and had to re-do it ALL.
  6. If you have lots of short chapters (Lord, Indiot has 44 of those), delete all chapters except for one, the copy and paste your entire book into one chapter. You now have to manually find each chapter heading, highlight it and apply appropriate style. If that’s a pain, just do each chapter manually.
  7. When adding more chapters, make sure to include section breaks at the end of each chapter – they keep the header from appearing above your chapter title. Go to Page Layout-Page Set Up-Breaks-Next Page. DO NOT USE “Odd Page” option. It’s supposed to ensure all your chapters start on the right-hand-side of the book, but it was giving my layout seizures – the pages kept changing places as I scrolled up and down, and even made the first page disappear, giving me repetitive heart attacks. I had to painstakingly go back and re-insert all those breaks to stop the nightmare. And in any case, I have now decided not to start all chapters on the right, as I’ve previously done – a quick scan of a few professionally published titles showed that only the first chapter has to start on the right.
  8. SAVE VERSIONS AS YOU GO. You’ll thank me later.
  9. Change font to a desired one, using Styles. DO NOT highlight the text and change any attributes of it from the menu, use Styles for ALL changes.
  10. I chose Minion Pro at 11pt for the body, as it’s a bit heavier and easier to read, plus I think italics look better in it. This font, along with the template’s original Garamond is one of the most common fonts used in print books. By all means, Google more about what fonts to use, but don’t use anything too quirky – you don’t want the reader to be distracted by the actual text, you want them to be lost in the story.
  11. Change paragraph settings. With Minion Pro, I chose to make spacing 1.1 instead of single at 1.0. Again, I think it’s just a touch easier to read. I made all first lines indent at 0.2.
  12. Make sure you’ve hit “Enter” enough times after the last sentence of the previous chapter, otherwise it will center on the page. Make sure that on all pages the first sentence starts at the very top of the page.
  13. Chapter titles – if you pasted each one separately, you should be okay, but if you did the whole book as one dump, highlight the chapter name text and apply the Chapter Heading style. Hit “Enter” 6 times to move the title down (or whatever number is appropriate for your font size). The idea is that each chapter starts a bit down the page – have a look at a professionally published book to see what I mean, or here is what mine looks like: Fist page of paperback
  14. Insert drop cap at the beginning of each chapter (you can opt for other ways to highlight the beginning, but I love the classic “big fat letter” look, as in the snapshot above.) Do it ONLY after you’ve done all paragraph editing, such as spacing, otherwise you’ll end up doing it all over again.
  15. Insert table of contents: the template used “chapters” instead of headings, so I could not do it automatically. I had to highlight each chapter title and click on “Add text” in the table of contents menu, then update the table. This also meant careful checking afterwards, to make sure all chapters made it into the table.
  16. DO NOT use automatic orphan/window control, instead adjust pages manually. Orphans and widows are the lonely, single lines of text either at the bottom or the top of pages. Well-formatted books don’t have those, but I allowed a few, when I thought separating a line made more of an impact with a punchline of a joke.
  17. Turn on the pilcrows and check through the whole document, making sure the section breaks are where they are supposed to be, and there are the same number of pilcrows before each new chapter, and that they are the same size and font (to make them start at the same spot on each page).
  18. Finally, READ THROUGH the entire PDF before uploading it – for some reason, italicising was dropped here and there anyway, and I managed to find even more tiny fixes. It took about eight hours, including all the fussin’ and fixin’, but was so worth it.

This is all. I will update this page if something else comes to mind, but I’ve been able to upload the final product and it looks fine in CreateSpace preview.

Now I have to order a proof copy. Wish me luck!

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ARCs and the new cover of Indiot

Another milestone ticked – I’ve sent ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) of Indiot to everyone on my “Permanent ARC List.” I was using MailChimp for the first time, so if you believe you should be on the list, but did not get an email from me, please let me know (email me on the address mentioned on the About Ana page). I will send a copy to you directly.

What is the Permanent ARC List? It’s the list of all people who have read and posted a review of Shizzle, Inc on Amazon. As a “thank you,” I will send ARCs of all Isa Maxwell Escapades to those awesome people – so if you’ve posted a review of Shizzle, Inc and would like to be on the list, please let me know.

Another milestone is that the cover and blurb on Amazon have been updated:

I wavered for so long with the cover design, it was a relief to just make the decision and move on. I may decide in the future to revamp the covers again, but I’m happy for now, so I can concentrate on writing and marketing.

And speaking of marketing, #ComedyBookWeek is blowing up – already 48 authors and over 60 books participating! If you have not yet seen it, visit www.comedybookweek.com. There’s still time to add your book or review of one of the participating books. I’m doing one myself, a review of There’s Been a Change of Plans by Amy Koko, and I can’t be happier about discovering a new favorite author.

Thank you all, and as always – please let me know what you think.

Ana

 

 

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Goodreads checklist for #ComedyBookWeek

Just over three weeks left till #ComedyBookWeek goes live on 16 July. I’ve made the following checklist for myself, but if you’re participating as an author, a blogger, or supporter, you may find it useful. This could also help you develop a greater presence on Goodreads by gathering followers and friends.

Things I’ve already done:

  1. Claimed author status and added my books to Goodreads (easy to do from the Author Dashboard). If you’re completely new to Goodreads, start with this how-to guide. If you’re a blogger or supporter, you can help by adding participating books to your library shelves.
  2. Connected my blog to my Goodreads author profile, so that every WordPress post is automatically posted there. Sometimes there’s a delay, but they do come through.
  3. Created Comedy Book Week event and invited my Goodreads and Facebook friends. If you’d like to add your own event go to Upcoming Events, and click on “add an event” on the upper right page.
  4. Held seven Shizzle, Inc giveways, which have helped me gather several hundred followers and friends, and have resulted in 1,800 adds to “read” shelves. I didn’t know why that would matter until I created an event and saw that I could invite my friends. Plus, every time I post an update or a blog post is published, they all get notifications.

Things I’m going to do:

  1. List a Goodreads giveaway for Shizzle, Inc, starting on 16 July and finishing on 23 July. The ad text will begin with “As part of #ComedyBookWeek, you can win…”. If you want to list a giveaway that’s longer than a week, make sure it either starts or ends during 16-23 July, as that’s when you get the most exposure. Don’t forget to mention #ComedyBo0kWeek.
  2. Update my “General status” daily with that day’s Calendar of Events. To post a general update, go to “Home” tab, it’s on the right-hand menu, under the “currently reading” book stats.
  3. Add #CBW event to the couple of humor book groups where I’m a member.
  4. Add Goodreads tab to Facebook. Directions are at the bottom of Goodreads author page.

If anyone has other ideas on how to get the most out of Goodreads during #ComedyBookWeek, please let me know and thank you!

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New Indiot blurb – please help me choose!

We all know the importance of a good blurb – after the cover, it’s the single most powerful marketing tool for your book. So I don’t have an excuse for the current vague Indiot blurb. The good news, I’ve done some research and work on revising it. I’d love your help in choosing the final version. You can either vote:

or let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you like some bits of both, please let me know as well.

NOTE: the final blurb will undergo copy-editing by a professional editor, who will fix all my grammar and spelling issues. I am looking more for feedback on structure, content, and voice. Does either one make you want to read the book? Do they convey the genre and style of the funny, fast-paced, action-packed actual book?

VERSION 1.

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but bad decisions will get you there even faster. Isa Maxwell has both in equal measure when she arrives in Delhi. Driven by the desire to help a mysterious prince and share her newfound wealth, she braves her first plane ride, and even makes two new friends—jewelry-draped Vivien and a bottle of Valium. Too bad she loses Vivien in the airport, and her passport somewhere on the way to the hotel.

Determined to find her way out of this predicament, Isa tries harder and harder to get help, only digging herself a bigger hole in the process. Things go from bad to worse, then worst, and finally to dire, as she encounters one wacky character after another, including a blast from the past.

Will Isa survive this mess with no passport or money or will it be the last chapter in this Indiot’s story?

 

VERSION 2.

What would you do if overnight, you found the wealth and notoriety you’ve been craving your whole life? Well, maybe not the whole life, but at least the first twenty years?

Isa Maxwell decided to jump on the plane to Delhi, to find a mysterious prince and help him win back his fortune from scheming uncles. Not to spend it, mind you—Isa is overcome with fantasies of helping the orphans, or poor, or whoever may need her in India. With Harden gone and everyone else nauseatingly loved up, she is also dreaming of making new friends. She finds two of those in first class—jewelry-draped Vivien and a bottle of Valium. Sadly, her drug-induced euphoria is short-lived, as she loses Vivien in the airport and her passport somewhere on the way to the hotel.

Not that big of a deal, right? The police can help. Or if not, the Embassy? Okay, the bank? Somebody? Isa hits the rock bottom, only to discover that it’s the beginning of a slide into the abyss.

Full of humor and action in equal measure, Indiot is a page-turning wild ride. Hold onto your valuables, as you meet a whole new cast of wacky characters and discover what can happen if you mix enough adrenaline with lunacy and enthusiasm.

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I wrote 2.8Kwords today. And 2.6K yesterday. What’s changed, you ask?

Well, Josh has been asking that. Every time I’ve bragged about kicking my goals the last few days, or that I’ve written almost 20K words in less than two weeks, he inevitably asks what’s changed. That’s because I’ve struggled to deliver on my ambitious long service leave writing plan, averaging only about 500 words per day, with occasional bursts of 2-3 thousand per day. Those were usually followed by days of writer’s block.

So what has changed? I decided to examine the last few months, and these are my thoughts:

1. TOOLS.

I credit Scrivener with helping me get my third novel off the ground quickly. I wrote Shizzle, Inc and Indiot in Word, which is fine, but I can only now appreciate how difficult it was to plot a full-length novel with subplots, multiple characters, and several plot twists, in a linear document. Scrivener, if you’re not familiar with the tool, allows you to chunk and organise your novel, so you have a clear “skeleton” of acts, chapters, and even scenes onto which to add finer strokes of your prose. I’m not sure why I’ve never tried it before, especially because it’s free to try for 30 days, and only costs $40 to purchase outright.

(Note: I googled and found a 20% coupon, so it only cost me $32. The coupon is WORDSWITHJAM and only works on the full version, but it may stop working soon. If that’s the case, just Google another one.)

I have also purchased a much more expensive Dragon Naturally Speaking narration software, but I’m finding that it’s difficult for me to use it at the moment. Some of it is my accent, so I will have to invest some time into training my Dragon. The other problem comes from twenty-plus years of “thinking through my fingertips.” I’m not giving up on it, though, and hey – just used it to type out this sentence!

2.  MOOD.

I had a personal drama unfold earlier this year, which meant that I spent my February crying, and March elated when it finally resolved. Try writing comedy when the world is dark and tears are literally streaming down your cheeks almost constantly. Try writing anything at all when you’re so happy, you don’t care about anything, including your goals and aspirations. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have pressing issues of any kind, concentrating on something else is difficult. All you get are fight-or-flight, not sit-down-and-write response.

Also, while I’ve managed to write about 30K words of Indiot in November-January, I had to eventually conclude that those particular words were garbage, and I was continuously rewriting/editing/deleting as I progressed further with the first draft. So even if I wrote 2-3K on a good day and then deleted as much of the old stuff, the resulting word count was insignificant. And that’s just the nature of writing. I’m thinking what I wrote today is pretty good, but I’m not sure how I will feel about it in another month or two.

3. ATTITUDE.

This is a weird one. Some credit is due to bad reviews and people on KBoards advising me to scrap my cover, scrap my series, and write in a different genre, because chicklit is dead. Those comments hurt, but then they give me some kind of angry energy and desire to prove those people wrong. It also helped that a few days ago I’ve downloaded DMX’s X Goin’ To Give It To Ya and I jump up and down to it whenever I’m starting to feel low. To paraphrase DMX, “Ana’s gonna give it to ya” and “First we gonna write, and then we’ll write more!” DMX is not for everyone, but damn! Listen to it enough, and next thing you know, you just want to drag race and smash things, and maybe challenge strangers to a dance off…like I said, not for everyone.

4.PRIORITIES.

I’ve let my social media stagnate a bit. What can I say, I was an addict. I still reply to messages, but only once a day, and only after I’ve done my daily writing quota. It’s great to have an active following, and I’m not going to let it stagnate into a deadpool, especially not with #ComedyBookWeek coming up, but I think I now have my priorities straight. Writing comes first. Everything else is after.

5. ROUTINE.

Ah, I left the seemingly boring, but very important thing to the last. It’s also related to setting priorities – now I get up early, have my coffee, walk the dog, and sit down to write. Today, I had my first thousand words by 9am. The feeling of accomplishment is like a drug – I had the 2.8K done by 1pm, and then decided to quit for the day, out of fear that I may burn out.  I still had the energy to burn – you should see my sparkling kitchen.

Tomorrow the goal is 3K. Ana’s goin’ to give it to ya!

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#ComedyBookWeek Calendar of Events

UPDATE: THIS PAGE HAS BEEN SUPERCEEDED by the official page. Please visit http://www.comedybookweek.com to view the up-to-date list of events.

 

 

 

 

So wonderful to see everyone excited about the big event! I have started the list of links to what will be happening each day – if you have a post/review/interview happening during 16-23 July, please let me know in the comments below, and I will add it to the Calendar.

Dear book bloggers – please make sure your review is posted on the scheduled date, or advise me if you want the date moved. Once you have a dedicated URL for the post, please advise, and I will update the link (the links are currently generic to your blog).

16 JULY

C (the happy meerkat) review of Shizzle, Inc by Ana Spoke.

Matthew Drzymala’s interview with Ana Spoke.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Russ Colchamiro.

Kirsty McManus review of Mind if I Come In? by  K.L. Phelps and interview with the author.

17 JULY
Barb Taub’s review of Must Love Ghosts by Ani Gonzalez.

Jam (Leaves et Livres) review of Do Not Wash Hands in Plates by Barb Taub.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with J.J. Green

Matthew Drzymala’s interview with Abby Vegas.

18 JULY

Rosa Temple’s interview with Ana Spoke, author of Shizzle, Inc.

C (the happy meerkat) review of Space Adventurer #1 by Carrie Hatchett.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with M.T. McGuire.

Matt Drzymala’s interview with MTM McGuire.

19 JULY

Rosa Temple’s review of How To Cook Up A Disaster by Rachel Elizabeth Cole.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Frankie Bow.

Matt Drzymala’s interview with Portia Porter.

20 JULY

C (the happy meerkat) review of Do Not Wash Hands in Plates by Barb Taub.

Rosa Temple’s blog – guest post by Bernadette Maycock, author of It Started with a Snub.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Scott Burtness.

Kirsty McManus review of Shizzle, Inc by  Ana Spoke and interview with the author.

21 JULY

Jam (Leaves et Livres) review of Can You stiff Your Divorce Lawyer by Portia Porter.

Guest Post by Susan Daffron on Rosa Temple’s blog.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Jackson Lear.

22 JULY

C (the happy meerkat) review of Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper.

FB group ‘Books and Everything’ interview with Isa-Lee Wolf.

23 JULY

BRMaycock’s Book Blog review of Maid for Love by Victoria Van Tiem

PLANNED BUT NOT YET SCHEDULED:

Ani Gonzalez will be reviewing KL Phelps(Mind if I come in), Leigh Selfman (Haunt Flashes),  Barb Taub (Null City #1), and Shizzle, Inc.

Ingenious Cat will review Kelpie Dreams.

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