A Facebook experiment, news from America and OMG my novel’s nearly finished

Belated Beltane greetings!

Lots of things to write about but first things first, I’m pleased to share the news that my paranormal romance short story ‘Made To Be Broken’ has been chosen for publication in an upcoming anthology from Smoking Pen Press, to be entitled ‘A Kiss and a Promise’. It’s my first publication outside of the UK and I look forwards to seeing it in print and begging you all to buy it. But just to show it’s not all acceptances and jazz hands, I failed to place either of my stories submitted to the Leicester Writes Short Story competition, and I haven’t heard a sausage from Writing Magazine on my submission to their Dialogue Only competition, so I ‘m guessing that’s a no. I entered a story to their Other Worlds competition for speculative fiction which closes this month, so I’ll have to wait a month or two to hear back (or not) on that one. On the bright side I have at least three new short stories which I can now look to improve and market elsewhere, so fingers crossed I can find them a home (it took me two attempts before ‘Made To Be Broken’ was accepted: moral of the story, never give up).

Since releasing ‘The Case of Blue Ben‘ a few months ago and witnessing a steady if modest stream of downloads, I was tempted by the evil blue ‘Book to sign up to an ad campaign to promote my Riley Pope stuff.

If you’ve never used Facebook adverts before, it goes like this: you plug in your target audience demographic and then you tell Facebook what reach you’d like to see, and the price goes up in increments. Poor indie author that I am, I chose the cheapest option which was £14.00 ex VAT for a 24 hour campaign which would reach about 1,500 people. This is what I got for my 1,400 pennies:

2,003 people reached.

80 post likes / loves / wows.

13 shares.

11 new followers on my Facebook page.

1 helpful pedant correcting my grammar.

Which translated into a total of 37 downloads across the four titles. Bearing in mind that the Pope books are free, the whole thing cost me about 45p per download. However, I have no new reviews so I still don’t know what people think of them, good, bad or otherwise.

In summary, I have 11 new followers and got my work under the noses of 2,000 people, so that ain’t so bad. Oh, and I learned that writing ‘part-eaten corpses’ in an intentionally short and punchy advertorial should be the far wordier ‘partially eaten corpses’.

I hope that as he took the time to comment on my advert, he also took a minute to support an indie author and download my books. I look forwards to reading his 1 star reviews!

In other news, I’ve been binge-watching lots of great TV, so here are some recommendations: Travellers Season 1 and 2 (Netflix), River (Netflix), Line of Duty Seasons 1 -3 (Netflix), American Horror Story Seasons 1 – 6 (Netflix). I’ve never been a tele snob – TV is story and stories are escapism, something we all need more of in a world that gets scarier by the day.

Bookwise I’ve also been bingeing. First on my old Bill Bryson books, since I felt like I needed a giggle, and also on the brilliant Ben Garston books by James Bennett (if you like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden and Mike Carey’s Felix Castor then you’re going to love Ben Garston). I’m about to start Fated, the first Alex Verus novel by Benedict Jacka. I know I’m quite late to this particular party but every time I read a new urban fantasy novel, I can’t help comparing my own work to theirs, and then I decide that my WIP is atrocious and will never be published when it has to compete with all these other amazing authors and I might as well quit. Hence I’ve (wrongly) been avoiding them, and thus missing out on all these wonderful stories.

Speaking of the WIP it is ohmygodohmygodohmygod so close to being finished that it’s making me feel a little sick every time I sit down to do some editing. I’m currently 14,000 words from the end. The novel I have written and rewritten six or seven times over almost ten years is about to be completed and sent out into the world for inspection. It’s not so much the fear of rejection making me ill, it’s the idea of spending ten years of my life on a thing that might never be published. On the flipside, I am sooooooooooo looking forwards to starting something new. It’s the second installment in the series, provisionally titled ‘Open Wounds’ and it’s all planned out and waiting to be written. The only nagging doubt I have is whether I should be writing the second in a series if there’s no guarantee of the first being published? Honestly, I don’t know, but it’s there in my head and is screaming to be written, so either way it’s going down on paper. Or on screen. Whatever.

So here ends my update. I’m off to write a story where the lead hunts pedants and chokes them on pages from her dictionary.

Ta-ra!

Download books 1 – 4 in the Riley Pope Case Files from Smashwords today (and don’t forget to leave me a review!)

Full of something but definitely not stories

Greetings, fellow blog folk.

I’m writing this post from my sick bed (ie. duvet on the sofa in front of the footie). Once again, I’ve gone and contracted the winter lurgy (in spring), and I’m currently drowning in tissues full of…

Anyway.

What I am not currently full of is stories, which is seriously frustrating because I need to write three in the next two weeks to meet a competition deadline.

No pressure.

Which is probably the issue.

But anyway, to get things moving I’ve been up to the study and grabbed this little beauty:

(Yes, that’s Welford curled up in the background, keeping me company / pinching all the leg room, and oh look! A tissue!)

I opened the book at random and came to the following exercise (easier to photograph than explain since I’m typing this on my phone – I’m not being lazy, honest!):

So I’m going to give it a go and see what I end up with, and if I’m feeling brave then I’ll post the results – whatever they may be 🤣

Just a quick shameless plug for The Case of Blue Ben, the 4th instalment in the Riley Pope Case Files, which came out last week and can be downloaded for free (along with the first three books in brand new revised editions) from Smashwords in epub or mobi format now.

Later 🤘

The story behind Walutahanga…

Where did the idea for the story come from?

I’m not exactly sure – where do story ideas come from??? The original suggestion to set the story in a pub was – unsurprisingly – made in my local, inspired by a bottle with a snake inside that lives on a shelf behind the bar.

Where is the story set?

In my home town of Coalville, Leicestershire (well they do say write what you know). The pub in the story is based on my local, the Vic Biker’s Pub.

So it’s a real pub?

Yes! And you can go and look for Walutahanga if you like, she’s still behind the bar! There’s nothing supernatural about the bar staff, though (as far as I’m aware!)

What about the cat in the story?

Helen is real, known to the locals as Helen, Queen of the Vic. She turned up as a stray many moons ago and is now part of the Vic family. I didn’t intend to include her in the story but there’s tons of intriguing feline mythology to draw from so I thought, why not?

Who is Riley Pope?

Riley is a Remnant – a being possessed of magical ability. She uses her talents to seek out cryptids who are trapped in the human world – referred to as the New World – in order to relocate them to the world beyond The Rift, and safety. The magical powers of cryptids can be, and often are, abused by humans and Remnants alike, so this is why the work that Riley does is important.

And who is Bastien Cort?

Bastien Cort is the human vessel of the fallen angel better known as Azazel. Many, many years ago, Azazel was sent to Earth to watch over the humans, but soon began to lust after human females. He and a number of Watchers became the Fallen, and were banished to Earth for their sins. As for how Bastien and Riley became lovers, and how it all went wrong for them, well, you’ll just have to read the books to find out!

Download ‘The Case of Walutahanga’ now!

Available NOW! Books 1 – 3 of The Riley Pope Case Files!

Woohoo! I’m officially a published (indie) author!

Books 1 – 3 of The Riley Pope Case Files are now available to download exclusively from Amazon, or if you’re subscribed to Kindle Unlimited you can read them all for FREE! I’ll be running a free book promotion on ‘The Case of Walutahanga’ from tomorrow which lasts for five days, so please spread the word and drop me a review, good, bad or indifferent. Here’s a little overview…

The Case of Walutahanga

Riley Pope inherited her talent for cryptozoology from her father. As for her penchant for vice and a weakness for dangerous men, well, she can’t blame that on him. Now that Riley is young, free and single, she’s determined to clean up her life and make amends for the sins of her past; if her past will let her.

When a small English town is beset by unusual weather, Riley’s employers, the enigmatic Firm, despatch her to investigate. She soon discovers that a cryptid is involved, but the creatures holding it hostage won’t give it up without a fight, and thanks to a charming but deadly fallen angel, Riley isn’t sure how much fight she has left…

 

The Case of Ahuizotl

Riley Pope has seen some strange things in her life – as a cryptozoologist, it comes with the territory – but this could be her strangest case yet.

When the bodies of two naked men wash ashore on the sands of Whitby harbour – both missing parts of their anatomies – Riley is despatched to investigate. The only scrap of evidence of cryptid involvement is the drunken account of a local trawlerman – who quickly disappears.

Riley finds herself in a race against time to identify the cryptid and save it from the murderous intentions of The Firm’s hired kill squad, but Agent Mulhoon, commander of Alpha team, has other ideas, putting Riley in the kind of danger she’s been trying to avoid since escaping from her fallen angel lover. Bastien Cort is never far from Riley’s thoughts; but this time he might be even closer than she fears…

The Case of the Brollachan

Cryptozoologist Riley Pope is used to tracking down otherworldly creatures: from serpents to shapeshifters, boggarts to Bigfoot, she’s pretty much dealt with them all. But this time, it isn’t a cryptid she’s hunting…

Riley’s employers, the clandestine Firm, have received reports of terrifying creatures frightening the children of Castlebay, Scotland. Sent to investigate, Riley confirms the presence of a malevolent spirit of the otherkind that preys on its victim’s worst fears… and Riley has a lot to be scared of.

Out of her depth and in fear of what’s lurking in the hills beyond Castlebay, Riley does her best to contain the situation – only to draw the attention of Mulhoon, commander of Alpha team, who ends up putting his life and that of his team in mortal danger. Faced with leaving the reckless Mulhoon to his fate, or confronting her own private fears, Riley must make a decision… whatever the consequence.

Expanding my genres – I found a new favourite!

So I started reading Tenderness of Wolves on Sunday. I chose it because of an article in last month’s Writing Magazine on the author, Stef Penney. It’s not my usual fare and I wasn’t sure what to expect from a novel that was set in 1860’s Canada without a wizard or vampire in sight.

350 pages later on Sunday evening…

Wow, what a novel! I only stopped reading when I did because my eyes refused to work anymore. I finished the rest in two sittings and now I’m off to go and buy her other two books, because sod buying Christmas presents, I need more fiction by this lady.

Tenderness of Wolves is filled with characters you probably shouldn’t like but can’t help falling in love with. The lead, Mrs Ross (you never learn her first name), is a complicated woman who you end up rooting for. Her son, who disappears the same night that a murder takes place, has a secret that is slowly uncovered as the search for the murderer unfolds. The harsh, remote setting just leaps off the page – I feel like I just spent the last four days in a remote, snowy wilderness, living amongst trappers, voyageurs and Indians – but still found the prose to be pleasantly uncomplicated: the author uses every word to maximum effect.

Long story short, gush, gush, gush, go and buy the book!

So now this little experiment is over. I’ve discovered a new favourite author and reaffirmed the suspicion that crime fiction isn’t for me, and if I took nothing else from reading One Day then at least I now know which date St Swithin’s Day falls on. I’m sure it will be useful for something.

So back to writing. It’s December, the month in which the first three Riley Pope stories (technically novelettes but I bloody hate that word) will be released on Amazon. I’ll be sending out an update (or ten) just as soon as they’re available.

Have a happy ‘Chocolate for Breakfast’ day folks

X

 

A Kate of many hats!

I was talking with a friend the other week. She’d seen a couple of posts on social media that I’d made of some Riley Pope cover art and asked me when the books were out (December, if you’re interested). I won’t go into detail, but long story short she was surprised that I had to get involved in the editing, proofreading, cover art creation, etc etc. “I thought all you had to do was write and someone else did all the other stuff.”

I chose to self-publish my Riley Pope series for a number of reasons:

  1. They’re coming in around 9,000 words each and I wouldn’t know where to try and get that length of work published (outside of competitions and magazines where there are no guarantees of publication)
  2. I’ve been messing around with comps and the never-ending novel long enough now and just want to get my work out into the public domain.
  3. I’d quite like to make a little cash, no matter how small an amount, from the hours and the effort I’ve invested.

I don’t think there’s quite as much stigma around self-publishing these days as there used to be. There’s a lot of work out there of equal quality to that of the traditional publishers, and I’m betting that the authors are all the more better off for it. There’s also a large pile of poorly written, unproofed, badly designed dross that’s the fuel for the stigma that I mentioned, and whilst it’s no excuse for publishing substandard products I can sort of understand why there are people that do it.

Hats that I have worn in the last two months:

  1. Author hat
  2. Editor hat
  3. Proofreader hat
  4. Cover art designer hat
  5. Blurb writer hat
  6. KDP manuscript converter hat
  7. Website design hat
  8. Twitter hat
  9. Facebook hat
  10. Curl up in a corner and cry hat

Some of these hats are easy to wear; they fit me and suit me and I’m happy to wear them. Author hat needs no explanation. Editor hat, ditto. I’m a recently qualified proofreader, and whilst it isn’t easy to proof your own work, I’m confident enough in the process to feel like I did a good job. I don’t very much like Twitter hat; probably because I don’t much like Twitter. My Facebook page is brand new and shiny (and just waiting for your shares and likes, hint hint) but I’m on there all the time so it wasn’t so difficult to set up a page. Website design hat? I’ll leave that up to your interpretation (please be nice!).

Cover art design hat was a learning curve. I’m not a designer and I’ve no skill at all in programs like Photoshop. Where, then, could I create my ebook covers? Which option should I choose? What size did it need to be? And graphics. Where did I get those from?

I ended up on Canva, which is free, and found they had a ready made template for Kindle ebook covers. They offer free graphics and images but none were what I wanted so I headed over to Shutterstock and spent whole days browsing graphics for my covers. I eventually settled on a theme for the series and sought out suitable artwork. I then bought a licence that allowed me to download five images. If I use one image per book then I think it works out about £7 a book. It took me some time to get my cover art just how I wanted, especially when I realised how unreadable the font was when shrunk down to icon size.

Blurb writer hat – I imagine its about as painful as wearing synopsis writer hat. I haven’t had to wear that one yet, and I am not looking forwards to it either. Blurb? Bleugh! Enough said.

I’m still getting over my stint wearing KDP manuscript converter hat. If you’ve never had to do it, I envy you. If you have then I sympathise. I’ve gotten used to writing my drafts in 12 pt Calibri, l.5 line spacing, tabbing to indent paragraphs and holding down the enter key to start a new page.

But KDP doesn’t like that. You must entirely strip your poor MS of all formatting and start again from scratch, inserting page breaks, removing any white space longer than three lines, and changing all the thousands of paragraph indents from tabbed to first line indents. There’s probably a simple way to do it, but I was learning, so I did it step-by-step. By step. By torturous step. I now have a Kindle template saved for just such a job, so wearing my KDP hat in the future shouldn’t be such an issue.

I had no intention of wearing my curl up in the corner and cry hat, until I realised just how close I was to having published work available for purchase. Assuming there are people out there good enough to buy my work, then self-assessment tax hat is looming in the distance.

“I thought all you had to do was write,” said my friend.

If only!

Later! xXx

Day 1 of editing – not the best start!

Well it’s Monday, it’s 11.53am and it’s the first day of the two week holiday I booked in order to edit my now-completed novel.

I had intended to be up and at my desk around 9am. Not very early for some, but I’m a night owl and I didn’t want to set myself up for a fall, especially considering I didn’t get to bed until around 2am.

At 5.15am I was rudely awoken by Cat Number 1 who required me to service his food bowl, which was empty. This is nothing out of the ordinary so I got up and fed him and went back to sleep.

At 7.30am I was rudely awoken by Cat Number 1 who required me to service his food bowl – again. I carried out my duties to He Who Must Be Served and shuffled back to bed. This was my error. I should’ve just made myself a cuppa and gone to the study until I was awake enough to work.

I eventually crawled out of bed around 10.15. I made myself a cuppa and put the TV on, just to check the news. I did check the news, but I also caught the end of Jeremy Kyle, and the start of the cricket. I did the washing up and then decided that the lounge required hoovering. Then I moved my car, which was parked quite a way from the house, to a spot a little closer. Then I had another cup of tea. The hubby went to work and I thought, Right! This is it! I am going to start editing that novel if it kills me! Then I got ambushed by He Who Must Be Served, whose food bowl was empty – again.

11.45am – I made it to my desk. But did I open Word up? Nope. I went on Facebook, just to check what the world was up to, and then I decided I’d write a new blog post. It’s now 12.07pm and I haven’t done a single bit of editing.

I think I know the problem. But more on that tomorrow when I’ve actually done some work.

But just before I start I think I’ll have another cuppa…

welford and mummy
He Who Must Be Served and his ever-faithful servant

A bit about me

Hello again, Treasured Visitor!

So who is Kate Lowe and what is she about?

I completed my first novel at the age of 24. I didn’t set out to write it with any commercial success in mind, which is good because the bloody thing is awful. 160,000 words of awful. One day, when I’m feeling particularly masochistic, I may share an excerpt for you all to point and laugh at. When it was finished I got all excited, bought myself a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and started submitting my novel to agents without a single clue what I was doing. I received two generic rejections, and a whole lot of nothing from everybody else. I hadn’t even formatted the manuscript correctly. My query letter said very little about the novel, but a lot about how much I believed in it.

Ha. Hahahaha.

At some point I came to my senses. Realised I knew squat about writing a novel, so sat down and wrote myself another one. That was also very bad, but not quite as bad as the previous attempt. That one came in at over 100,000 words. I rewrote it twice. Then I enrolled on a distance learning course with Writer’s News and began a new novel.

Meanwhile I devoured all the books on writing I could lay my sticky mitts on. Absorbed the advice in Writing Magazine and began to submit short stories. The first one I ever wrote, Lucinda, made the shortlist. I kept on writing novels, learning as I went. Rewrote, rehashed, discarded whole chapters.

I read somewhere once that a writer has to write for at least ten years, or above a million words, before they really know their craft. Well I’ve certainly smashed through the word count and I turned 34 back in April, so I qualify for both. Whether I became any good at what I do is up to you to decide.

I completed (what I call) my first novel in May. Technically it’s probably my eighth, or, if you consider that I used the same characters, the fifth rehashing of my second. (I also wrote another novel, apparently. I found it on a thumb drive a couple of months ago and don’t remember very much about it. It’s 80,000 words though, and with a little polishing I think it’s a keeper).

I’ve blocked out the next two weeks for solid editing, so maybe this year will be the year I get an agent and a deal. Or maybe it won’t be. Most likely it won’t be. I’m under no illusions about how tough this writing lark is to make it BIG. And if I can’t catch an agent’s eye then there’s always self-publishing. Either way, my novel will be out there eventually.

And then there’s Riley Pope, of course. Riley is the lead in an urban fantasy series I began a few years ago, but then put on hold so I could concentrate solely on my novel. Now that its finished I’ve had the time to revisit The Case of Walutahanga, complete it, and write the second story in the series, The Case of Ahuizotl. As soon as I finish the third I intend to self-publish all three, with the aim of completing a Riley Pope story every couple of months.

I’m probably biased, but I think you might like her.

So that’s a little bit about me. A couple of other things you might like to know: my favourite authors are Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, Mike Carey and Stephen King. I’ve recently tried to broaden my genres and very much enjoy Gillian Flynn and Lee Child. Bill Bryson is another of my favourites. I like genre fiction, and humour. If a book can make me laugh out loud, great! We all need a lot more laughter in our lives. Dara O’Briain’s Tickling the English is highly recommended if laughter of the side-splitting, tears-rolling-down-your-face variety is sought.

So that’s a little bit about me. Thanks for reading, and I hope you come back soon, Treasured Visitor.

black cats

 

About Kate

Kate Lowe is the author of the urban fantasy series The Riley Pope Case Files. 20181224_1237121589252742.jpgA member of the British Fantasy Society, her short fiction has appeared in various zines, magazines and anthologies. Her story ‘The Wolf Runs In The Barley’ received an Honourable Mention in The Best Horror of the Year Volume 4, edited by Ellen Datlow. She lives in Leicestershire, England with her husband, two demanding cats and an army of bears that have far too much to say for themselves. You can find her online at www.kateloweauthor.co.uk

Kate is also a qualified proofreader actively seeking commissions. You can find her website at http://adeptproofreading.wixsite.com/…