I don’t often post about the technicalities behind writing. I am not a master of my craft, I don’t pretend to know one grammatical rule from another, nor do I have profound, life-changing advice to give aspiring authors. But the one truth I have taken from writing, is that there is very little “self” in self-publishing.
It takes a village.
I’m writing this on the tail end of a book release. Red Dirt Heart 4 came out last week, and has been a true success. In the first 48 hours of release, it was #1 on Amazon (gay romance) in SIX different countries. At once. That’s a HUGE feat, and I am in awe of the readers and reviewers who made that happen. <3
So how does someone get a book to #1??
I have no clue. If someone asks me how I got to have so many books ranked #1, I can only shrug. There isn’t one definitive answer. A good story? Characters people can relate to? A HELLUVA lot of luck? All three? I just don’t know.
But I can tell you what I do know. And that’s behind every book I’ve written is a village of people who have helped, toned, fixed, contributed, added, and enriched, to make each book what the reader reads. And I’d like you all to meet them.
Okay, so that’s a little Disney for me…
So, let me introduce you to them:
My Beta-readers / Pre-readers
I have some very trusted people I send my manuscripts to before anyone else. I finish the first draft and send it along for some fresh eyes to tell me, 1) if it sucks, 2) plot holes, 3) general suckness. LOL I need honest critique, and what they, as readers, see in my work. And they tell me.
Yes, I might write the words but believe me, if you saw them before Erika got hold of them, you’d probably throw your Kindle. Yep, not even kidding. Every page is a rainbow of correction colours to fix grammatical rules I just can’t seem to learn.
And this is a gross understatement, but I truly can’t put a value on the work she does to make me look good.
My Cover Artist
We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but damn, we all do. And I have been truly blessed to have Sara’s stamp on my books. I send some links to Sara of royalty-free pictures which I think suit the characters/setting, and she makes magic happen when she puts them all together. I can’t even draw stick figures, so how she does graphic design is beyond me. She is also a fabulous author! You can find more on Sara at her website HERE
My Support Crew (aka My Saving Grace)
Wow. The most invaluable part of my village, and the biggest. This is where I can rant and rave about my latest WIP, through the “OMG I can’t wait to start this awesome story” stage, right through to the “WTF am I doing?” stage and finally the “YAY! I did it!” stage. I can talk through plot problems, discuss relative issues and ideas, and gripe about the daily trials and tribulations of being a writer/wife/mother. We bitch, we whinge, and we laugh. We network, we help, and we encourage. And believe me, these people are the reason I haven’t had a major public meltdown yet.
If “my village” were an actual village, this is the house where there would be wine and chocolate on tap, comfy writing/reading couches, and a punching bag in the back room.
My Proof readers
Think of proof readers as the polishers. They tidy up any tiny little blemishes and make it all shiny and pretty, ready for consumption, and they are fab!
I am no marketing/advertising guru, believe me. I hate it, to be honest. I hate talking about myself, so taking a public stage to self-promote is difficult for me. Add in the fact that I’m super busy and incredibly lazy, and that’s where Will comes in. Pride Promotions runs blog tours, cover reveals, book blasts etc and have been a Godsend for me. I tell him what I want, and he makes it happen. 🙂
And all of this happens before the first ARC has been sent, before the first reader sees a cover on their ereader, before the first review goes live. Because that’s a whole other village of people who make my books what they are 🙂
So, as you can see, there are literally up to 15 people that make my books what you see. When you read one of my books, it might have just one name on the cover but believe me, there is a village behind it.
** SPOILERS AHEAD**
If you don’t want spoilers, then don’t read this post, k?
But I really need to talk about something…
As you may know, the very talented Sara York graciously does my cover art work 🙂 And when I had written the epilogue for my Red Dirt Heart series, I knew it needed its own special cover.
I searched the interwebs for the right pictures, sent them to Sara and WHAM! She created a masterpiece. It is my favourite cover from her to date, and with all the beautifulness she’s given me, that’s a pretty big call.
I cried when I saw it. Literal tears. It was so perfect.
But it was also a HUGE spoiler. And that meant I couldn’t show it off to the world until after the book had been released. 🙁 But now I can… RDH4 has been out for 5 days, (and has been a huge success! Thank you everyone who bought, read and reviewed!) But I really need to do a special post for the Epilogue cover. I NEED to show people! I have literally sat on this for months prior to release, when all I wanted to do was to show EVERYONE 🙂
So here it is…
The sunrise is perfect, because that’s what this epilogue is. It’s a new beginning for Sutton Station. And of course, the little pink boots… (And no, before anyone asks, there will be no continuation of Milly’s story, sorry.)
I say it all the time that I’ve been truly blessed with cover art, especially from Sara, and this one is the icing on the cake.
I just needed to brag about this amazing cover, that truly summed up the epilogue with pictures, better than I could with words. <3 <3
Thanks again to all who read and reviewed my Red Dirt Heart series, and took a year long journey to the Outback with me.
Much, much love… <3
It’s perfect timing that Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review blog is running a Down Under month to showcase Aussie and NZ authors with Red Dirt Heart 4 being released!
I have answered some FUN questions today! Which you can find HERE! There is also a word-hunt giveaway! Including an e-copy of Red Dirt Heart 4!
And you can check out the full list of AWESOME AUTHOR names at this link, and read some fabulous interviews, and of course there are giveaways…
Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for running such a FAB month-long showcase! The amount of time and effort you’ve put into this is staggering, so a HUGE thank you to you!
You can pre-order RDH4 on Amazon HERE
You can pre-order RDH4 on ARe HERE
Moving from a Texas ranch to an Australian Outback station was a life changing decision for Travis Craig. Though it wasn’t really a decision at all. Something in his bones told him to go, though he had no clue as to why.
Until he met Sutton Station’s owner, Charlie.
Loving Charlie shouldn’t have been easy. The man was stubborn, and riddled with crippling self-doubt. No, it shouldn’t have been easy at all. Yet somehow, falling in love with Charlie was the easiest thing in the world.
Loving him was easy. Living with him, teaching him how to love in return and, more importantly, how to love himself, was not.
But Travis knew all along it’d be worth it. He knew the man with the red dirt heart was destined to be his. Just like he knew the red dirt that surrounded him was where he was supposed to be.
In the final instalment of the Red Dirt Series, we see Charlie through Travis’ eyes. We see how much he’s grown and how much he loves. We go back to Texas with them, and we see Charlie get everything he truly thought he never deserved.
Red Dirt Heart 4 is Travis’ story.
And this is the story of not just one red dirt heart, but two.
Excerpt ~ This is from Chapter 18
Charlie on a plane for long periods of time was never going to end well. He just couldn’t sit still for that long in such a confined space. He was fine for the first few hours, but then boredom set in, and a bored Charlie is the worst.
He started to fidget and fuss. The seat was uncomfortable, then there was nothing worth watching, he didn’t want to read, he wasn’t tired enough to sleep, he wasn’t hungry, he was sick of sitting down, and no, Travis, he didn’t want to walk up and down the aisle looking at people like some sicko perv.
I laughed at him. “I told you it was boring.”
“You didn’t say it was this boring.”
“Have you got some paperwork to do or some data collating on sales to read through? Or some stats for Greg and Allan? I told you to bring something.”
“I thought you were joking.”
I riffled through my carry-on and pulled out one of Ma’s crossword books. “Here. Do one of those.”
“Did you steal Ma’s book?”
“She told me to take it.”
He frowned but took the puzzle book like a petulant child. And he was quiet for all of two minutes. “What’s a seven-letter word for escarpment?” He tapped the pen on the page. “Or a five-letter word for review? No, wait, what the hell is kwinn-oh-a?”
“Kwinn oh a, with a q. What the hell kind of word is that?” Charlie made a face that was part confused and part peeved-off. He looked at the front of the crossword booklet. “Is this one of those stupid cryptic crossword books?”
Oh dear Lord.
“Let me have a look,” I said, leaning over to read the word. “You mean quinoa?”
“It’s not spelled keen-wa, Travis,” he said, like it was my fault for inventing a stupid word.
I took a deep so-help-me-God breath. “It’s a seed or a grain. How many letters?”
“Try grain. Though that’s not technically correct. It’s a grain crop, but the edible part is the seed. But we won’t begrudge the crossword people for not having a degree in agronomy.”
Charlie chuckled. “No. No we won’t.” He tapped his pen again. “Hey, what’s a one-two—” He started counting in his head. “—eleven-letter word for photogenic?”
Charlie stared at me. “Are you like some closet crossword guru or something?”
I snorted. “Yep, that’s me. I’m a crossword fanatic. I get up when everyone else is sleeping and do them. I can’t get enough of them.”
Charlie made a snooty face. “Oh look. A six-letter word for smartarse. Starts with a T and ends with ravis.”
I laughed, and the lady in front of us turned around and smiled. At least someone else was amused.
“We should have gone out last night,” I told him. “At least you’d be hung-over and sleeping right now.”
“I wanted to go out,” he said. “You were the one who kept saying no.”
“Yeah, because I didn’t want to go to all your old stomping grounds in Sydney so you could gloat about your conquests and what you did and where.”
“I wouldn’t do that to you,” he said softly. “And anyway, we’re heading to your old stomping ground.” He seemed to think about that for a second. “Any exes I should know about? Do I need to defend your honour?”
“If by defending my honour, you mean punching in the face, then no.”
He snorted. “I wouldn’t punch them in the face. Well,” he amended, “not without good reason. If someone tries to woo you back—”
“Woo?” I interrupted. “Who the hell says woo anymore?”
“People still say it. It’s a word people use.”
“Not people of this century,” I corrected. “Or the last. I think it went out of fashion with duelling, Charlie.”
He grinned. “Good. If someone tries to woo you, I shall challenge them to a duel.” He stretched out his legs and shifted in his seat. “Though it’d be quicker and a whole lot less messy if you’d just let me punch them in the face.”
“You’re not punching anyone or duelling anyone,” I said with a sigh. “Maybe Michael might challenge us to a game of backyard football or baseball.”
“Playing footy with your brother is fine. I can teach him proper footy and not that poxy game you play.”
I laughed. “You’re gonna be the foreigner this time, Charlie. Not me. We play the right kind of football, we have baseball bats, not those stupid flat-edged cricket bats, and we drive on the right side of the street.” I smiled at him. “You’ll be the one with the accent and have people making fun of you instead of it all being on me.”
“We’ve never made fun of you!”
I think my mouth fell open. Then I laughed incredulously. “I spent the first twelve months being called The Yank. And you make fun of the words I say all the time.”
“Because some of them are wrong,” he said flatly. “Like cookie and sidewalk and fixin’-to and y’all.”
I glared at him. “And G’day, mate and fair dinkum are what, exactly?”
“Awesome things to say.”
I sighed. “I swear to the Lord above. I would pay someone a hundred bucks right now to download a Bruce Willis movie just to shut you up.”
“Any Bruce Willis movie?” he asked. “Not that Hawk one. Just his action movies. You know that.”
“Charlie, next time we fly back to the States, we’re paying extra for business class. And possibly separate seats.”
He sighed and went to looking out the window. He was quiet for too long.
“Charlie, what’s really wrong?”
He kept his face turned to the window. “What if they don’t like me?”
“Your parents. Or your brother and sisters… Oh God. What if none of them like me?”
Don’t forget there’s a contest/giveaway to celebrate the release of RDH4!!
Click HERE for the rafflecopter link! (It should work this time) *kicks rafflecopter for all the broken links*
I’m doing another giveaway! This time there are 2 x $20 Amazon gift cards to be won, AND 5 x ecopies of RDH4!
The contest will run from the 2nd (tomorrow) until the 10th of January, Sydney time.
But as per usual, Rafflecopter won’t work on wordpress (I’ve tried EVERY step they recommend to no avail) so you’ll have to click the Rafflecopter icon
Or try this link http://is.gd/ffVFNI
One option to enter is to leave a blog comment. Please leave the comment on this post but use the rafflecopter to direct you here! I’ll pin this post to the top of my blog for the duration of the contest 🙂
NOTE: Please use the Rafflecopter link above to direct you to the blog post to answer – it makes your entry valid. I know this is backtracking and a huge PITA, but it’s how rafflecopter works.
If you’ve arrived here from the Rafflecopter link, please comment below 🙂
It is a new year already and I should mark this occasion with a post <3
2015 will be a year of change for me. Not all of it great, but all of it moving forward and that’s what I will keep focused on. I don’t do resolutions (I’m far too lazy lol) but I want 2015 to be better. I want to be better. A better person, a better parent, a better writer.
I have lots planned this year. I have 8 books penciled onto my calendar (though this may change, depending on real life priorities). So far it includes a two-part vampire novel series, a novella trilogy and three stand alone novels. But as writers know, what we plan to write and what we actually write are not often the same thing.
As of January 1st (today) I have done first round edits on RDH4, due to come out in just 8 days (Yes, I’m cutting it fine, I know.) and I’m 66K words into the first book of the vampire series. I have a working title of Cronin’s Key: Book One, though it may very well change as well (please don’t anyone add it to Goodreads yet). It’s very different to my normal writing but I’m loving it so far. I’m hoping to have it finished soon and in the hands of my beta readers before handing it over for edits. I would love to have a March release for Cronin’s Key, but that is yet to be finalised.
Finally, I want to thank all of my readers who have bought, read, reviewed my books! <3 I can’t have done any of this without you! <3