Month: August 2012

Interview with Eoin Colfer on The Last Guardian & what comes after Artemis Fowl

Eoin Colfer from Wexford has been a worldwide hit with the Artemis Fowl series. (He also wrote a follow up And Another Thing in the Douglas Adam’s  Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy  series)

The Artemis series, for young teens, follows the adventures of teenage technical mastermind Artemis Fowl and his adventures in saving his family fortune, and the world, alongside Fairies and Pixies, friends and foe. Eoin Colfer has just released the final book The Last Guardian. These are brilliantly written books with wit and technical wizardry. Eoin has described them as ‘Die Hard with Fairies’. This bestselling series has been hugely popular with my eldest boy so I was delighted to interview Eoin for writing.ie

Catching up with Eoin Colfer amid his travels, I ask him to cast his mind back and tell us how the idea for Artemis Fowl originated. His answer is both surprising and wry: “I got the idea for a young, super criminal from a photo I saw of my little brother making his Confirmation. It occurred to me that he looked like a James Bond villain and I thought it would be funny if that was the main character in a series.” Did he know how many Artemis books he would go on to write? “I actually had planned for only three books, but ideas kept coming so I kept on writing more. Eight is enough, I think, time for Artemis to retire.”

Writers hope for success but it’s never a given. I ask Eoin what the huge popularity of Artemis Fowl has meant to him. “The Artemis series has been hugely important for me and my family. It brought us security for one thing. Another thing Artemis did for me was allow me to be a full time writer,” Eoin says “and even more than that I could indulge myself in writing projects that I felt pretty sure would not be blockbusters, including a musical and a few one-act plays.”

For the full article: Click here

Childlike thinking makes for creative writing

The transition from childhood to adulthood involves a mental development that allows for more abstract reasoning, logical complexity, a greater awareness of consequence and an understanding of the nuanced dynamics of human relationships. However there are ways that childlike thinking can get us back to the basics of life and enhance our creative endeavours.

Mindfulness

Babies and very young children are absorbed in the moment to moment awareness of their surroundings and the stimuli around them. The parents of young children often bemoan the snails pace at which a walk somewhere has to be undertaken but a key memory for me is when my youngest son was eighteen months and on one of his first walks in the big outside world. He became absolutely fascinated with a pebbledash wall, he looked at it, touched it, ran his fingers along it, went right up close. The other day I helped my daughter make daisy chains. To do so, we sat right down on the grass, feeling it under our fingers, surrounded by a galaxy of daisies, some fully open, some pink tipped. We selected the correct stems, just thick enough, made the delicate slice in the stem, threaded them through. There was a light breeze, bird sounds, occasional traffic, the concentration of the threading action. This slowing down and careful examination of things can bring us into the heart of a story or emotion. When describing a scene we can open it up around the mind of the reader by including the smallest of details, a cigarette butt, a shiny bottle top, a half-open fushia bud, the angle of a business man’s tie. 

Key characteristics

Children take things at face value; they make broad comparisons based on ‘similar’ or ‘different’. Only as they grow do they learn to make more nuanced distinctions. While the nuance is what differentiates a truly great writer from an adequate one, when we first introduce a character in a book, we need to use the broader brushstrokes, to give us a handle on the person, a hook. While it may not be politically correct; as humans we always make an initial judgement based on looks, similarity to ourselves, race, colour or accent. In our books our characters will make assumptions about one another based on initial impressions. These might later turn out to be incorrect. In writing, we can use the transition from the broad strokes to nuance to explore a developing relationship or an increasing or decreasing understanding between characters.

Fearlessness and Free thinking

Small babies have no depth perception and no sense of the danger of falling. Terrifyingly young children will run out onto a busy road with no sense of danger. Even older children, teenagers and even young adults carry with them a sense of invincibility. While many children invent rules for their games, there is a greater sense of freedom, where ‘let’s pretend’ means a car can fly or a giraffe can talk. As writers we need fearlessness to write at all and to take chances with our writing. We need to ‘run into the road’ into topics or subject areas that we find difficult to deal with in order to exercise our skill as writers. We also need to stretch our imaginations while making sure that our stories have their own internal logic.

Curiosity and Interest

Is a crane bigger than a whale?

Being party to my children’s homework, I realise how many facts they become aware of in a short space of time about history, mythology, geography, music, art, science. Browsing through their books I discover quirky interesting facts that are absolutely gripping. One of my favourite short stories ever is A Stone Woman  by AS.Byatt. She writes about a woman who literally turns to stone, but what stone! She is made up of so many different types that characterize the veins, the skins, the face, the limbs. The manifestations of stone also become more intricate over time. Stone happens to be one of my favourite things. In this story it was intrinsically fascinating, due to the level of detail employed but it also worked as a powerful descriptive device and metaphor. One of my sons knows everything there is to know about astronomy and I have used his knowledge in my work to provide an extra layer of interest in my stories. Facts are hooks that if used appropriately can inject life into writing.

Fundamental questions, fundamental themes

Why are we alive? Are you going to die? 

The parents of young children hear these sorts of questions every day, and often at bedtime when the impending darkness and separation may whirl up anxieties in the children. It is poignant to hear these existential questions from the mouths of babes and very often we don’t have the answers. But these questions can remind us of the archetypal themes that underpin all literary endeavours. It is commonly known that so called ‘children’s’ fairytales deal with dark themes. But these are the themes that are eminently and poignantly human. Whatever the style or genre of a book, whether its tone is light and fluffy or serious, the undercurrent of the archetypal concerns and themes will still be there. Often as adults we bury the fundamental fears and concerns under the flurry of everyday life. As writers we have to expose and deal with these raw terrors. These concerns translate into our characters’ complex motivations, make people take

The child I was

unusual decisions and do extraordinary things.

The child that you were and in some ways still are has special access to both wonder and fear. This child makes judgements and takes risks and sees things with fresh eyes. Use those qualities to create writing that has an extra edginess and magic. 

Note: I wrote this article originally in 2010 as a guest post for children’s author Olive O’ Brien.

#fridayflash Finding the bog body

This is a short incident from my novel in revision The Book of Remembered Possibilities. A driver finds what turns out to be a bog body. This piece is one of three juxtaposed ‘moments’.

The bulldozer judders, throwing sound across the bog’s wide valley back to the jagged hills.

In the broad sweep of a valley, the heron’s wings beat determined across the fretful sky, the crickets sing. Over the ground moves the breath of dragonflies and moths, ticks and red ants. Small birds scratch among the lichen, tracking beetles.  A hawk hangs in the ether.

The driver takes slices off the skin of the bog.  He peels back the carpet of woven sedge, heather, moss, the wings of insects, feathers of bog cotton, leaves of clover. The blade of the bucket cuts into it, making a scar through the tapestry of green. It opens up the seeping interior, accesses the bog’s bitter ale…

The driver sees something in the ground. He throws the machine into neutral. He powers down the roar.  He jumps out of the cab onto the springy turf, the mud going into the grooves in his soles. The spring adds a lightness to his mood. This is a man who gets up before his wife and teenage children, puts his sensible sandwich and a flask of tea in the car and drives to the site as the light fills in around the edges of the landscape’s developing photograph. He plays Springsteen and Cohen and the Blades and Thin Lizzy. He has a good voice. It attracted his wife’s attention before she was his wife when he was just one more rugby head watching the match with his lager aloft. Later someone gave him a guitar and he sang Sarah and it happened to be her name. He thinks of his wife, leaning against the breakfast bar that sly wry smile on her face. He bloody fancies her still, the curve of her in those black jeans, she keeps herself well, no messing.

It’s a bitch of a day, devious. It started out calm and then those monsoon showers hit. The lads legged it back to the vans for a bit of a warm sup. He was going to follow them. The rain machine-gunned the window. He bent his head against it before he figured he was in the cab. He said he might as well continue while it poured. Then he spotted whatever it was. He goes to investigate. The sun comes out to make a fool of him and the drips are speed-bombing off the door as he reaches the ground. The rain slides into the run of his wrist, his hair is splattered.

The bog still stretches for miles, blends into the hills, runs up the face of it until the crags split it, solid heather hewn hunks hurtling off the rock face, clinging to the crag underside.

He almost trips on it, this coagulation of leaves, this what, this shrivelled thing, rag and bones. Above his head a hawk cries, dips his wing. The roar of lorries on the arterial is silenced. The hawk halts at this present moment. Waits for what has been found.

The business of self-publishing: Bookshop launches

Self-publishing is becoming a viable and accepted method for writers to either bring out a book that is hard for publishers to define, for traditionally published writers to relaunch old out of print titles electronically or through print on demand, for writers to supplement their traditional titles or fund their writing on the path to traditional publication, to write and publish creative, experimental and artistic work that may have a more niche following. To be commended and recommended, self-published work needs to be of high quality and the self-publisher needs to apply the principles of professionalism and good business.

In this weeks article on writing.ie The Business of Self-Publishing, I talk about how to make self-publishing work, through strong products, marketing savvy, funding initatives and more. Take a look at the full article here.

I recently launched the paperback of Housewife with a Half-Life in a bookshop. There are pros and cons for the self-publisher in taking on a Bookshop launch but overall I feel that it’s benefits outweighed any drawbacks. I recently wrote an article exploring the merits of a bookshop launch.

To Launch or Not to Launch: A second opinion

When invited to hold a bookshop launch for my debut self-published book Housewife with a Half-Life in a local store, I thought about the pros and cons. I’m here to say why, on balance, that while there are many arguments against a bookshop launch for the self-publisher, I’m glad that I went ahead.

First, the facts in black and white:

Having a bookshop launch is exhausting.

These are some of the tasks that need to be done ahead of time:

Organise books: While CreateSpace, the POD company I used, have many distribution channels, the Irish ones are not included in this. So it was necessary to send off (and pay for) a consignment of books upfront and then organise to get them to the bookshop.

Arrange publicity: I created a press release and emailed as many of the local papers, radio stations etc as I could. I also sent a copy of the book out to selected media people. I invited people through text, email and social media. This was a big job. I also organised a speaker, some refreshments etc.

These activities were all done in tandem with an online launch and blog tour marketing and publicity were all encompassing.

This article is guest posted on Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog. For the rest of the article, click here.

I’d appreciate your thoughts and experiences on your self-publishing journey and if you’ve done a ‘real-life’ book launch whether or not you found it useful.

In the meantime I’m bringing out several mini-collections of my short stories, some of which were shortlisted in prizes such as the Bridport, Fish and Hennessy New Irish Writing XO awards. Here’s what I’ve released so far. I’ll let you know how this venture goes.

New short story collection, #Fridayflash and Smashwords news

Self-published in a library

Smashwords have just announced an exciting new library initiative for their bestselling titles. Read more about it here.

Publishing is in a state

Here’s a very very interesting article about the state of publishing today and the role of ‘indie’ publishers in that.

Today’s #Fridayflash

Today my #fridayflash short fiction is on the amwriting website which features daily blogposts from authors and fiction on Fridays. My story this week is called Brown and Blue, you can read it here.

Mini short story collections

Many of you who’ve read the blog would have read my #fridayflashes and other fiction. I have many many longer short stories, some published in various magazines and some that have never been read. I’ve decided to release a few mini collections for Kindle ebook and app. Other formats will follow. The first one is called ‘Stories to make you go ‘ah’. There are three stories about love, life and desire. One of the stories in the collection was longlisted in the Sean O’ Faolain prize.

Stories to make you to ‘ah’ UK

Stories to make you go ‘ah’ US/IRELAND

How to write a novel when you don’t have the time

You may have your hands full but you can still find time to write.

Most people’s lives are busy. For me it’s juggling the demands of four children under the age of twelve, and it’s true to say that there’s little time for quiet contemplation or courting the writing muse. But all would be writers are juggling,  whether it’s college, full time work, caring for children, sick or the elderly there are very few that can dedicate full days to the endeavor of writing, especially when starting out.

So how is it possible to fit in writing around our lives? I started writing again when my youngest child was a newborn, I wrote around his naps. Then followed a period when all the children were tiny so I wrote when friends and family offered a babysitting hour. In the last few years in particular though, I’ve been more methodical in how I create writing time and since 2009 I’ve managed to complete a shot story collection, and 2.5 novels as well as many standalone flash fiction pieces.
These are some of the ways you can create opportunities for writing.
1)      Create a quiet, dedicated writing space/time:. Whether it’s in a spare room or shed, the library or a coffee shop, it helps to move away from your normal space and its distractions. In my case I also need to find a time when it’s quiet and I don’t have interruptions from family. I’m an early bird so I choose to get up at 5am and write for 1 or 2 hours then, others prefer to write into the night.
2)      Take part in writing challenges: The bulk of Housewife with a Half-Life was written during Nanowrimo, the 50,000 words in a month writing challenge. It a) allowed me to state my aim to my friends and family and b) claim writing time for this special challenge. They were happy to rally round to help me achieve the word count. I also discovered that by making myself write 1667 words per day no matter what, some of the material (if not all!) was very useable and even on a very busy day I could squeeze in writing time, either with early starts, while waiting for the kids at an activity for example, or even in ten minute bursts through the day.
3)      Join an online or real world writing group. I joined a weekly peer review flash fiction writing hashtag on Twitter called #fridayflash. This is a group who post regular flash fiction and link to it on Fridays. While there’s no obligation to post every week, being part of a community makes me want to participate and keep involved and I’ve produced many pieces that would never otherwise exist, some of which can be developed further. I even won a short story competition by joining up some of the pieces I wrote for this meme. I’m also a member of a Dublin writing group, the feedback on pieces I write is invaluable.
4)      Integrate musing time into your regular schedule. Walking is wonderful. John Boyne discovered the plot to The Absolutionist during a 1 hour walk. Bestselling author Murakami runs every day. Each time I go for a walk I find phrases and ideas arrive naturally without having to search for them. Spending time on other activities  such as reading (of course), movies, art galleries and so on is feeding the imagination & helping make interesting associations that you can use in your writing. The late Ray Bradbury suggested that reading a short story every night and reading an interesting article was a great way of feeding passion and imagination necessary for writing well about the thing you love.
5)      Get away from it all. After I had built up some short story publications and successes I applied to a writing retreat centre and was successful. I had my first uninterrupted week of writing ever in July. The arts council in Ireland and local authorities provide grants for people to go to retreat centres such as the Tyrone Gutherie Centre and Anam Cara once you can show evidence of your writing development.
Finding the time to write is not about finding great swathes of time (although it’s great when it happens). It’s about creating opportunities for inspiration and building up your wordcount consistently and incrementally. A daily wordcount challenge of even 500 words can help you accomplish that. The kind of writing that will come from these endeavours will be more considered and of higher quality.
Related to this article and talking about whether it’s the quantity of time or how you use it that’s important is this one on writing retreats.
Note: my article here originally appeared on Paul Carroll’s blog

Dear Agent for writers and last free day

The wonderful Nicola Morgan, of the great writing and publishing site Help, I need a publisher! author of 90 books including Write to be Published has just brought out Dear Agent: Write the Letter that Sells your Book. As readers of her blog will know, the advice she gives is always realistic, practical and sprinkled with her wonderful dry wit. Read the full article with her at writing.ie to get some tips and a flavour of the book.The book is on special offer this weekend and can be downloaded for Kindle or for reading on your laptop (you can download a free Kindle app. Well worth it for every novelist about to submit work!

On a personal note, I know you’re probably tired of hearing about Housewife with a Half-Life and personally I’m uncomfortable with relentless self-promotion. I know that if you’re interested you will read the book at some point and if it’s not your thing then no problem. However the reality for self-publishers is that somehow we need to become visible to the general public and the way of doing that is to gain higher rankings on Amazon in order to be seen.

This August 10th is the last day that the book is on a special free promotion, so if it could get a big push today that would be great. So if you’re interested and haven’t read it, get your free copy today. Thanks a million.

Susan Strong is a suburban housewife who is literally disintegrating. When Fairly Dave, a kilt-sporting spaceman arrives through the shower head to warn her, she knows things are serious. When she and her precocious four year old twins, Pluto and Rufus, get sucked through Chilled Foods into another universe it gets even messier. Where household appliances are more alive and dangerous than they seem, Geezers have Entropy Hoovers and the Spinner’s Cataclysmic convertor could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together.

Through this madcap, feel-good adventure, Susan and Fairly Dave travel alternate universes to find Susan’s many selves, dodge the Geezers and defeat the evil memory bankers. From dystopian landscapes and chicken dinners, to the surreal world of Las Vegas and bubble universes, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?

Amazon UK

Amazon US/Ireland

Free Kindle Apps for laptop, phone etc

#Fridayflash From the hospital

This is a segment from my literary novel The Book of Remembered Possibilities which I’m revising for submission. This is a stand alone episode where Freya comes out of the hospital after a coma.

The way she placed her feet seemed to have many possibilities, the way this oriented her body in the surrounding space. It was the wrong body, in the wrong space, the wrong skin. The children ran about, random molecules in a heating liquid. Daniel was taller, Ben more talkative, Grace thinner, Aidan greyer in the skin. There was birdsong, a constant, chirrup, but no identifiable source, heard through the sirens arriving at the A&E.

Into the car in the multi-storey car park, the dimness made the children dozy. There were things that she may or may not have noticed before; the resistance of the seat fabric against the body, the precarious nature of small negotiated spaces, the arcing trajectory on the exit descent, so sudden she might be flung into orbit.  She gripped the seat with her fingers, discovered the regular pattern of embossed squares like Braille. Then out into the irregular world, the cars in the opposite lane approaching violently. She mentally steered to her own kerb like a learner driver, leaned back against the headrest.

In the hospital leaned against the pillows, trying to remember.“It’s common,” said the consultant, “that the memory can be lost in spots.” She’d thought, suddenly, starkly of a colander, had a vision of herself in the kitchen, water pouring through the holes.

Of the accident, freeze frames, a sudden backwards rush, the sound of glass smashing.

She began to recognise her family but with a stranger’s detachment. Now she sidles up to points in the past, recovering particular events.  But when she tries to zoom in they slip.

Back in the hospital bed: her chin on her chest, the suck of the blood pressure monitors, other patients’ hidden snufflings, the sound of a far off infant.

Freya turned her head. In the car, Ben – fastened into his baby seat – had fallen asleep, his head lolling against the insert, his cheeks made round, the corner of his mouth moist. Grace examined the sky. Daniel stared at nothing. Aidan looked straight forward, driving back.

Everything is strange.

They came to a stretch of dual carriageway where they picked up speed and skimmed along the sleek tarmac. Wheels always look like they are going backwards when they spin. In the sky, she saw clouds that defied possibility, improbable birds aloft. On the ground she saw long concrete barriers fencing in the relentless route, lone figures at the side of the dual carriageway, ahead, then suddenly left behind. All along the road the signs were blanked out. They were going nowhere.

But going home. On the last descent before their exit, an alien spaceship cloud hovering above the Devil’s Glen, the rest of the sky vacant. Freya stared. Altocumulus lenticularis.  Minutes to go before they were home.

Walking into the house she felt the airlock close, eyes on the back of her head. The lead player in this story of her homecoming, the audience holding its breath.

“Where is everything?”

“What do you mean?” Aidan asked, close, proprietorial.

“I don’t know. It’s all just different.”

“Granny came and cleaned up,” Daniel announced triumphantly. He tapped against the floorboards with his study shoes.

“Yeah,” said Aidan.

“We wanted it to be a nice surprise,” Grace was eager to intervene.

This was the cue for her lines, her play at pleasure.

She said nothing. She sat down among her things, things chosen once, things she’d gathered to tell herself and others of her tastes; not that vase, but this one, not that book, but this one.

But everything was not the same. The bookshelves were lighter, the ornaments rearranged, foreign bedclothes had infiltrated the bedrooms, her children had lost something –  naivety was it? They were leaner, more wary. They followed her round the house. Ben held onto her leg until she lifted him up. Then he put his hand down the neck of her loose clothes and fell asleep on her shoulder.

“Good to be home?” Aidan asked. She nodded, swallowing. On any day you might wake up to the feeling, of a dream gone wrong; that you were living the wrong life or perhaps you were just the wrong person for this.

Aidan’s face in the hospital. The quick turn of his head, the restlessness of his gaze. Ben held firmly on his knee, the children chided for noise. The staccato beat of his flight at the end of visiting hours. Now it was Ben who held her face, looked directly into her eyes.  It was Ben, not Aidan who made her realise that she was really there.

She got into the wrong bed. Now texture was a language. And through the scent of the bed she recollected Aidan. Although he was right there, she experienced it as an old impression travelling back to her along an interminable pathway to when she had loved him.

Later, in the months to come he will say; “You are not the same. I don’t know you anymore.” I cannot help it if in reality he speaks clichéd lines. I could have told you it differently and perhaps I will.

Later, he will say, “you are not yourself, you are not making sense, you are…”

”Unhinged?” Freya will say, looking at the door, wondering if one day he will go out of it and not come back.

That night, the night she returned to her life, Aidan reaching for her, in this changed body. She saw herself in the mirror, this other woman in this other life, this strange intimacy.

Why I used my Kindle free days when I had decided not to

The Background

I originally signed up for the Kindle free days to be part of the promotion for the launch of the wonderful Jawbreakers anthology in May. I had only launched Housewife with a Half-Life a few days before so perhaps it wasn’t the best time to give it away for free but being part of a British nationwide launch perhaps gave me a wider audience/exposure that I would not have had otherwise.

What are Kindle Free Days good for?

Since Housewife was my debut novel as A.B.Wells I was interested to read how Kindle free days had helped some self-publishers gain extra readers and sales subsequent to the promotion. But there seemed to be some caveats. This strategy seemed to have worked best for those who were a) releasing books in the earlier ebook days before the deluge of ebooks and free offerings b) for authors who already had a following from traditional publication or earlier books c) for authors who were trying to promote a series or later books (they would give an earlier one away free.

But that wasn’t me

As the end of my Kindle free period approached, I realised that I did not fit any of these criteria. My comedy in the universe was a new departure, both from my literary work as Alison Wells (published in anthologies and known on the blog) and was the first book I had to offer. So what could possibly be gained by using the FREE DAYS.

All that work for FREE?

Another issue that has been much discussed is the concept of FREE itself. Some self-publishers enjoy the idea of the work being the thing, making it available in a democratic way and being read is the most important thing. FREE is part of the FREEDOM of being Indie. Other self-publishers, while applauding these sentiments are also concerned about whether a constant supply of free books engenders the expectation of never having to pay,  particularly for ebooks. While people would be happy to pay €10 euro (about $11 £8) for a paperback, an electronic version may not seem as valuable (and is easier for both the writer and the reader to discount in both senses of the word).

I’ve sold about 80 books in real world transactions (in bookshops or direct) and made a reasonable return, especially of course on the direct sales. My initial price of $2.99 dollars and its equivalent allowed me to be on the 70% royalty on many sales for the ebook. Again a reasonable amount. As a first time author without a track record, realistically, breaking even might be a goal, much as the accounts of bestsellers are thrilling and are always hoped for. I had costs, for sure, several hundred pounds/euros for a designer and editor, marketing materials for my real world launch and initial outlays on purchasing 160 books to sell to bookshops and direct. I personally don’t have an outside income (at the moment I’m at home with my four children). We live on my husbands wages. I need to cover costs at least. The book took months to write and a year to edit and bring to publication. All writers know how much work goes into producing something of quality. Again, why give it away for free?

So why did you change your mind?

Ideally I would have used the free days when the sequel The Meaning of Life is Monday was out. But Kindle free days are to be used within three months. It’s now or never. So what made me change my mind?

1: The possibility of widening my reader base

I’m in this for the longer term. I may need to get my skates on and release further material that people can click on when they finish Housewife but I will still reach new people who might visit my blog (there is a hyperlink in the ebook!) and find out what else I write and when it will be out. I might reach a particular person who will enjoy my book, become an advocate, write a review (make the movie – okay one can dream. Matthew McConaghy as Fairly Dave (the kilted spaceman with luminescent emotions would be interesting 🙂 )

As a marketing hotspot

Running Kindle free days gives me an event around which to talk about my book and blog about things like Kindle free days and to link to my new publications of short collections of short stories (under the name Alison Wells) that will be out in the next few days.

I might just go up the Amazon charts

While like Nicola Morgan I’m not a fan of tricks and games used to push books, such as constant self-promotion on Twitter, online, befriending just to sell, garnering reviews that aren’t authentic, the free day option is a legitimate tool to try to make your book stand out from the crowd. I believe in Housewife with a Half-Life. I have other books in drawers that I didn’t believe in so much. I engaged and editor and designer and did everything I could to make the book as good as I could. Other people believe in the book. I think it’s a heartwarming and uplifting read and I want to give it the best chance I can.

Last time Housewife with a Half-Life was free for one day, was downloaded 500 times but I didn’t see many follow on sales. I don’t know what will happen this time. Maybe I’ll come back and tell you later. But despite my reservations, I hope that Housewife with a Half-Life can benefit from this little boost and that if you read it you’ll enjoy and come back and tell me.

Update: August 2012

As a matter of interest, at the end of my 4 kindle free days I had a total of 3000 downloads and have seen consistent sales since then, not in huge numbers (tens) but beyond what was happening before the free days. While on Kindle free Housewife with a Half-Life went to number 3 in sci-fi free and close to (tantalisingly close to) the top 100 kindle reads in .com and .uk. From talking to other authors I can attribute the continuing extra sales to Housewife with a Half-Life having become visible in the “also bought” lists. So in terms of gaining visibility, the Kindle free days were successful.

Let me know what you’ve decided to do with your Kindle free days and how it’s worked out for you or any of your thoughts on the concept of FREE.

A last little marketing plug. Note: Housewife with a Half-Life is no longer free but it’s just 99c/77p until the end of August.

Here are some of the things people have said in the reviews:

“this book was recommended to me and really didn’t know what to expect but wasn’t able to put it down, fantastic, funny and pure comedy from start to finish 10/10”

“A brilliantly humorous book which had me laughing from the start!”

Amazon UK

US/Ireland

My self-publishing experience

Today I’ve visited the blog of Debz Hobbs Wyatt who works as small publisher Bridgehouse to share my self-publishing experience, the areas where I had costs and how I found the whole process.

Speaking to an editor and other writing professionals we decided that it might be a good contender for self-publishing as it’s more a genre work than my other writing.Publishing is in a huge state of flux right now and I was interested to learn about self-publishing, to try to connect directly with my readers (I already have a very established blog) and I liked the freedom of being able to get my work out there. The skills and attention to detail I’m learning through self-publishing can be applied to traditional publishing as well.

Please click here to read the whole interview.

I’d also like to share with you news of the release of The New Big Book of Hope.

“This book will save lives. To live without hope is the ultimate deprivation. The Hope Foundation reaches out to the street children of Kolkata, India, on a daily basis: rescuing sick and abandoned children; delivering food and clean water to the slums; providing crèches where destitute and slum-dwelling mothers can safely leave their children while they do what they can to earn money; running its health-care programme, including its new hospital; fighting child labour and child-trafficking; breaking the cycle of poverty through education in its many coaching centres.
This extraordinary collection celebrates The Hope Foundation and – hopefully – will play a significant role in publicizing and supporting its courageous work. A potent blend of fiction, poetry, memoir and non-fiction, the contributions explore the theme of ‘hope’ and its vital presence in all our lives.
With its astonishing range of bestselling authors, political figures, business people and media celebrities, The New Big Book of Hope eBook has something for everyone. Claudia Carroll, Don Conroy, Brian Crowley, Brian Keenan, Sinead Moriarty, Kate Kerrigan and over forty other unlikely bedfellows rub shoulders – the only common denominator being their considerable talent. And in this special eBook edition, four new writers – Alison Wells, David Fairclough, Fr. David Keating and Orla Coffey – have been selected for their contributions in making this book a truly unique collection.

This book is for such a good cause. It also contains my prizewinning story Flashes of Entropy and Hope, a flash fiction medley which is part of a longer work.

The book is available as an ebook here

Different versions are available as follows.

Here’s Hoping (Fiction Collection)

Hope Works (Non Fiction and Poetry Collection)

There’ll be more posts here on writer’s block, writing focus and further self-publishing experiences such as getting books into a bookshop and awareness building efforts.