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 🤘

New release: The Case of Blue Ben (Riley Pope Book 4)

Just a quick update on the next Riley Pope installment…… (drum roll please)…..

DA DAAAAAAA!!!

4-blue-ben
Click me to download for free!

Here it is, available to download for free from Smashwords (or if you’re feeling extra generous and want to pay for it, 99p from Amazon), The Case of Blue Ben.

Mercators are solitary creatures, as a rule: the trading of cryptids is a competitive business – not to mention illegal – and single-minded ruthlessness doesn’t translate to a healthy social circle. So when a group of mercators convene in a London hotel, it sets off alarm bells, especially for cryptozoologist Riley Pope, who’d like nothing more than to put the mercators out of business for good… and settle an old score into the bargain.

But Riley’s employers seem reluctant to act, and it’s only with the unexpected help of Mo Liffey, the Firm’s resident sorceress, that Riley convinces them they need her on the case. Mo’s help doesn’t come for free though… 

Zealous in her quest to discover what the band of mercators are up to, Riley targets a face from her past with disastrous – and possibly life-changing – consequences. Faced with the option of admitting her failure or swallowing her pride, Riley asks for help from an unlikely source, and together they close in on the mercator’s prized purchase… only for Mo to call her debt in. And you don’t say no to the Queen of the Fae.

Peter Kay, Jack Reacher and why my local’s on the TV this week

Last week, there were only two kinds of people: those who’d managed to purchase Peter Kay tickets, and those who had not. I am sadly in the latter category – not for want of trying, but hey ho, I still have Dara O’Briain and Dave Gorman tickets for 2018 so I’ll be getting plenty of comedy in my life, and we all need more of that, don’t we?

If you follow me on Goodreads (and if not, why not? Come say hello!), then you’ll see I’ve been having a bit of a Jack Reacher fest. One of the things I like about the Reacher novels is that you can pretty much pick them up and read them in whichever order you like and they’ll still make sense. However, I’ve just read three in succession (61 Hours, The Affair, A Wanted Man) and they do sort of tie together in that Jack is desperately trying to get to Virginia to meet Susan, but the situations he finds himself in keep delaying him.

So now I want him to get to Virginia, and I want to find out what happens when he gets there. But then I find out that the book that will reveal all is Never Go Back. And then I realise that I already know how this goes, insofar as I’ve seen the bloody film! (Don’t get me started on Tom Cruise playing 6 foot 5, 250-pound Jack Reacher). Thankfully, it’s so long since I’ve seen it that I can’t really remember it, and I doubt it would’ve spoiled the book anyway since the books are always better than the films, and not always the same in terms of plot or outcome (my only exception to this rule being Stephen King’s The Green Mile which is excellent in either form).

But I’m going to have to wait anyway as I don’t yet own a copy of Never Go Back, and I have plenty more in my ‘to read’ pile before then (I’ve just started Echo Burning – yes, another Jack Reacher!)

In other news, who remembers Helen the Cat from The Case of Walutahanga? For those who don’t know, Helen is a real cat who lives (runs, owns, rules over) my local watering hole, the Vic Bikers Pub, and this week, my good friend and landlord John Commons and his sister Joy are starring on Channel 4’s Four In A Bed. It’s on in the UK at 5pm all this week and the episode filmed at the Vic is on tomorrow, 28th November, so keep your eyes peeled for Helen, and possibly me in a background shot somewhere.

Finally, I’m off to that London on Saturday for the Bridge House celebration event. I’ve never been to an author-y gathering before so I’m a bit daunted, especially since I’ve been asked to bring a copy of one of my books to swap, and I don’t have anything to take since my stand-alone work is all e-book only (and the idea of author ‘speed-dating’, ie. networking and promotion and being generally sociable is making me want to find a large hole and jump in it). I’m also a bit stressed since I have to be back in the evening for my Nan’s 90th birthday party, and I’m sure I’ll be the worst granddaughter ever if for some reason I don’t make it, or arrive late. This anxiety-wracked introvert is going to have one tough day.

But what doesn’t kill me….

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Am I on a train or in the Tri Cities?

I’ve just had a pretty mad weekend of reading – it’s rare that I have (or find) the time to spend an entire day reading, but yesterday, apart from a bit of housework, I essentially sat on my arse and power read.

First, I finished the second half of the Mercy Thompson book, Blood Bound. Then I started The Girl on the Train… and by midnight I’d finished it.

Like I say, it’s rare for me to spend so long immersed in a book, so I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did this morning, which was weirdly disconnected and just not ‘with it’.

I can’t put it down to anything obvious. I don’t feel ill and there’s nothing beyond the usual on my mind, I’m not drunk and I’ve never taken anything stronger than a paracetamol in my life, so I can only put this weird disconnected feeling down to the fact that I spent a good eight hours emersed in the worlds of Patricia Briggs’ Tri Cities werewolves and then Paula Hawkins’ screwed-up trio of Rachel, Megs and Anna.

Does anyone else suffer this or is it just me? What can we call it? A book hangover?

Anyway, I did something unusual and reviewed both books on Goodreads (check out my feed to see what I thought, and don’t forget to follow me!). I don’t normally leave reviews because I tend to forget half the good stuff but always remember the bad, so for my next book I’ve decided to make notes as I go along and see what I end up with, because I’m sad like that.

Writing-wise, I’ve just written a 7500 word paranormal romance (it wasn’t meant to be a PR but the story just took me in that direction) so I’ll get it polished then see if I can place it somewhere. The WIP is still being pulled into shape and I’m picking up the 4th Riley Pope tomorrow. I have 9 days to go in the day job before I have a fortnight off and two blissful weeks of solid writing, which can’t come soon enough. I’ve also swallowed my nerves and booked the tickets for the Bridge House author event. I’ve no idea what to expect but I guess I’ll worry (excessively) about that in December!

(And don’t forget, my urban fantasy series The Riley Pope Case Files is free to download from Smashwords and ebook stockists everywhere!)

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Walking to Whitby, submission success and an urban fantasy series that I really should’ve read a long time ago

I did it!

I completed my Walk to Whitby! Well actually, I did it a month ago but thought I should mention it here since the last update I provided stopped at Day 12 and you may or may not have been wondering if I’d been figuratively mown down somewhere on the M1 motorway. Final total raised was £205 which is far more than I ever expected to raise for this very worthwhile cause. It’s time we kicked cancer’s arse for good, don’t you think?

In other news, I received a lovely email the other day. ‘Your submission has been successful’ said the title. Woo hoo! My short story A Very Unseelie Act will be included in Gliterary Tales and published by Bridge House Publishing this November. It’s been a few years since my last published story (Night Shift – you can read it online here) so it was very nice to be able to jump up from my chair and do the happy dance again (writers, you know the one I’m talking about). The story is in epistolary format and is written as an email exchange between a disgruntled fairy and a totally inept customer service department, of which we’ve all had experience at some time or other.  I wrote the story about four years ago and initially submitted it to a Writing Magazine competition, for which it was shortlisted. It then sat around on my hard drive until I saw the call for submissions from Bridge House Publishing for stories with glitter or sparkle. I’ve since had an email inviting me and a plus one to Bridge House’s annual celebration event in December, which I’m umming and ahing over but probably shouldn’t be because I know authors should never turn down an opportunity to network.

Buuuuuut…

Firstly, I’ve never been to one of these events before so I’m not really sure what to expect. I’m a total introvert and not very sociable, so the mention of ‘author speed dating’ had me coming out in a cold sweat. That alone is not a reason to avoid it though, and nor would the hubster (or my inner writer) let me. Secondly and more importantly, the event is in London (why does EVERYTHING have to be in London?) and it also falls on the day of my Nan’s 90th birthday party. The train isn’t an option as I don’t live anywhere near a station, so a simple train journey for most would actually be a taxi-train-tube-tube-train-taxi journey. So how much is this going to cost me three weeks before Christmas, when money will already be tight??? It means we’re going to have to drive from Leicester to London and back, on a Saturday a few weeks before Christmas. The event is 2pm-5pm, and the birthday party starts at 7pm. Even if I leave early, I’m still not guaranteed to get back on time. In light of my first point I feel like I’m making excuses, but I only have one Nan and she’s only going to be 90 once so there’s no competition. I’m still not sure what to do, so I might reserve the tickets and then just figure it out nearer the time.

Gah. There are worse problems to have, right?

And finally, on the book front, I’ve just read Lee Child’s Persuader (his seventh – I think – Jack Reacher) and also Patricia Briggs’ Moon Called, her first book in the Mercy Thompson series. Lee Child aside (Persuader, I felt, was probably the best Jack Reacher I’ve read in terms of plot and overall writing), I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get round to reading Patricia Briggs considering my love of urban fantasy and all things vampire, witch and werewolf. Saying that, I can’t help but compare it to Bitten, Kelley Armstrong’s first book in the Otherworld series, and in terms of the plot I found it a bit thin and a whole lot confusing when it all came to a head. Otherwise, I really enjoyed her style and I like the character of Mercy – she’s not some cliched femme fatale kick-ass in leather (which is what put me off Kim Harrison’s books) but an average girl who lives in a trailer, works as a mechanic and just happens to possess the ability to shift into a coyote. I like the coyote twist and how Briggs has woven it into the general werewolf pack concept, and I’m looking forward to reading more Mercy Thompson (which I intend to do when I get home with book two in the series.) Oh, and Cainsville #4 has just come out in paperback in the UK this week, so that will no doubt be winging its way to me from Amazon some time in the not-too-distant future.

As for the WIP, I’m still plugging away at it and pleased with how it’s going. It’s still following the general plotline but with lots of new or revised scenes. I’m also working on the fourth Riley Pope and another long-short story about a vampire hunter on a mission to flush out a strigoi-trafficking dhampir. Also in the pipeline is a short story in the form of a memoir that I intend to submit to Writing Magazine for an upcoming comp. I imagine that’s going to take me about 5 minutes to write, and 5 days to get over, but then there’s always chocolate!

Have a blessed Lammas all

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lammas