One event to change a life. Interview with Annika Perry.

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As a longtime fan of Shey’s blog I was thrilled to be invited for an interview with the notorious Dudes…how could I resist those charming friendly hamsters (see, I’m trying hard to get on their good side!!) These hamsters are like no others and it was with trepidation and excitement that I popped by to say hello and answer some questions. We veered from parachuting hamsters to writing woes, from future dreams to my mother’s famous (within the family) recipe for Pepparkakor (Swedish Cinnamon Biscuits).

Do read the rest of the interview over on Shey’s blog … I promise it is both entertaining and informative. Only then the full truth behind the comment on the picture above will be revealed!

To read the interview please press this link:  One event to change a life. Interview with Annika Perry.

THE STORYTELLER SPEAKS – IT’S HERE!

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It is with great pleasure I can now announce that  The Storyteller Speaks is available on Amazon.

The Storyteller Speaks ebook is available on  Amazon UK  or Amazon US or any other Amazon outlet.

The paperback will be published in January 2018.

 About the Book

It only takes one event to change a life. What is that action, decision, occurrence? Whose life is affected? Changed forever?

In this eclectic mix of 21 short stories, flash fiction and poetry the pendulum swings between first love and murder, from soul-destroying grief to reconciliation. The tales veer from the sweet satisfaction of revenge to new beginnings, from heart-breaking miscarriages of justice to heart-warming Christmas misadventure.

One common thread binds them all; the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life; they’re all extraordinary.

Open your hearts and minds as The Storyteller Speaks.

EXCITING TIMES…COVER & BLURB REVEALED

Did you hear that whoop of joy? That screech of overwhelming excitement and happiness? It is with utmost delight and sense of pride that I can unveil the cover of my collection of short stories entitled, The Storyteller Speaks.

The ebook will be out in a few days.

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No book cover reveal would be complete without the accompanying blurb.

About the Book

It only takes one event to change a life. What is that action, decision, occurrence? Whose life is affected? Changed forever?

In this eclectic mix of 21 short stories, flash fiction and poetry the pendulum swings between first love and murder, from soul-destroying grief to reconciliation. The tales veer from the sweet satisfaction of revenge to new beginnings, from heart-breaking miscarriages of justice to heart-warming Christmas misadventure.

One common thread binds them all; the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life; they’re all extraordinary.

Open your hearts and minds as The Storyteller Speaks.

In moments of thrilling ecstatic elation I just need a quick bop and this is is one of my all-time favourite songs to which I let my hair down and dance – I hope you can join me.

A week ago I posted my publishing woes when I was let down. Just as I had accepted the inevitable long delay before starting anew my journey to publication an email from Sally Cronin at Smorgadbord – Variety is the spice of life popped up my inbox.

I read it over and over. Could it be true…I both laughed and cried with joy; my hope re-kindled.

Sally wrote to say how sorry she was for me and that as she and her husband are publishers they would only be too happy to take on my book and prepare it for publication. David runs the publishing company and I was soon in touch with him at Moyhill Publishing.

Both Sally and David were adamant that we could get the book out by Christmas and ever since emails have been winging their way back and forth between David and myself.

David Cronin is a true professional, a joy to work with. His speed in returning amended proofs and answering questions is unbelievable. No query was too much, every step of the way was explained…all in the midst of proofreading and for him formatting the manuscript.

Meanwhile, there was one major hurdle – the cover, or rather lack of one! I  remembered Debby’s  beautiful cover of her latest book. I looked at her book cover designer’s website and found a fabulous cover for my book. I  immediately emailed Yvonne Less at Art4Artists. Within minutes and despite the early morning in Australia I had a reply! After this initial email it only took a few days until I had the finished cover.

I cannot thank David and Sally enough for coming to my rescue; they are both such warm, wonderful people. They work with great professionalism and expertise and the past week has been very uplifting for me.

I am overjoyed and honoured to be published by Moyhill Publishing.

The paperback book is ready however we are just waiting for print proofs and space at the printers. It will be published in January 2018.

‘TWIXT THE CUP AND THE LIP *

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Sometimes we don’t need to travel far to journey a long way.

With a publication agreed weeks ago it was with a song in my heart and a dance in my step that I prepared for this major event in my life.

My first book was due out in the world!!

A wonderful celebratory party away was planned…local to us all but a special place to be spoilt and dine in style!

As the date for publication drew closer, delay followed delay and to my shame, lowered my spirits. Worst of all was the lack of communication from the producer and broken promises. In my naive trust, I waited and believed. Until now. At last, our cooperation had to be terminated.

As for the celebratory weekend – I was all set to cancel. My family refused to accept this, insisting that after all the book is ready; apart from the elusive cover! (And final proofread before publication!)

So we set out to celebrate life and what has been achieved – I hope you’ll join me in reliving the wonderful weekend.

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It’s not easy to get anywhere high up in Essex…it’s a pretty flat county but Wivenhoe Park is situated on top of a hill and it is here that Wivenhoe House was built. Wivenhoe House’s fascinating history stretches back to 1759 when Isaac Rebow asked Thomas Reynolds to build the mansion house, which is now Grade II listed.

Stepping out of the car we admired the same landscape painted by the English Romantic artist John Constable in 1816.

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The building escaped mostly unscathed apart from a few broken chimney pots following the country’s worst earthquake in 1884, was requisitioned by troops during WWII before becoming the original home to Essex University in 1964. It is now a hotel.

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The university campus is close by in the park, the tall 1960s tower blocks iconic and for the first time ever I wander amongst them, past a delightful library full (!) of students, past a modern theatre, into the main campus site.

 

Lakes and fountains adorned the area; ducks and coots pecking amiably on the cold ground. A stunning sunset greeted us and we paused to let the peace and beauty sink in – not too long though as the bitter chill bit through our coats.

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Heading round we realised how hungry we were on seeing this unusual cafe…a Routemaster double-decker bus cafe – closed alas but probably just as well as dinner was soon.

The hotel was impeccable with friendly staff who were eager to help. The bedrooms were superb.

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The balcony overlooking the park was a bonus – even if it was too cold to use the welcoming table and chairs.

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The brassiere dining room was delightful and we were welcomed by the sommelier who recommended his original cocktails. How could we refuse! By the end of the evening, my spirits rose even further when presented with the ‘Congratulations’ platter.

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The next morning we just had time for another walk around the grounds; this time to hunt out the two famous cork oak saplings which had been smuggled into the country in the boots of General Redbow following the Peninsular War. What had they witnessed in their two hundred year existence, I wondered?

These impressive trees were both enthralling and majestic; languidly they grew along the ground as well as upwards, their trunks dramatically pock-marked and small leaves reaching in bunches for the sky.

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Gazing at the trees I felt a certain sense of calm for the first time in weeks…their strength and timeless aura transcended my worries and concerns. During this trip, I once again became re-aligned, my inner journey to renewed energy and belief reignited during our short sojourn.

Finally, my deepest apologies to you all…your warm, generous and enthusiastic support for the publication of my short story collection has been overwhelming and it has been hardest to let you down. I hope you will bear with me and kindly ask for your patience until the launch of my book.

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Supermoon photo taken through the trees in the evening.

‘Painting is but another word for feeling.’ John Constable.

I would just substitute the word painting with writing in this case!

Photo ©Annika Perry, except the Constable painting of course!!

*There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip is a very old proverb, similar in meaning to “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”. It implies that even when a good outcome or conclusion seems certain, things can still go wrong. (Wikipedia)

FRAZZLED!

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It’s never taken me so long to send an email before. 

I’m not referring to writing the message; its composition came easily enough. The actual act of pressing ‘send’ seemed impossible. My cursor hovered over the paper airplane icon; pausing I sat back and scanned the document once more. I stood up and paced around the room.

The momentous moment had arrived and my first manuscript was just a click away from the publisher. I was savouring the experience while being equally terrified of the reality. Many bloggers have used the analogy of giving birth with reference to writing a book; I can identify with this emotion to a certain extent…sending away my first book to an outsider felt like I was releasing my baby into the wider world. With another few tours of the room, I returned to my seat and pressed the button. No turning back!

After weeks of intense editing on my anthology of short stories my head seemed to burn with heat and a flu-like fever of concentration reverberated around my mind whilst the rest of my body struggled against the cold. A day or two of complete relaxation was in order to restore the equilibrium.

The editing process had been unexpectedly and contradictorily tougher and easier than anticipated. 

Hour after hour of close computer and document work took its toll on my eyes and head resulting in migraine-style headaches.

However, several useful editing tools were a fantastic help in bringing my manuscript to completion.

Grammarly, a proof-reading program recommended by Jacqui Murray at Worddreams (thank you, Jacqui!), was a most invaluable editing aid. After initially reading through each story a few times, amending the plot etc where needed, correcting typos and punctuation I then used Grammarly to check for any missed errors. Surprisingly it picked up quite a few; these included spacing gaps between words, spellings and punctuation. I did have to be cautious with my changes though as the spellings were corrected to American style and it had a predilection for commas which I disagree with – see what my editor says! 

Natural Reader  proved another excellent editing tool. Once again Jacqui recommended this on her blog and I was initially sceptical but decided to trust her positive experience with it. Despite the mechanical unemotional aura to the voice (although there are various choices) it made a huge impact having each story read aloud to me. Although I’d been reading some out to myself, listening actively to each word through Natural Reader allowed me to pick up on silly mistakes including one where I had put the wrong name for a situation in a story. Yikes!

As well as a dictionary by one’s side (or the website permanently on display) it is essential for writers to consider Thesaurus as one’s best friend. My original paperback copy from childhood is gradually falling apart so I now use its services online, consulting, searching for words to improve and sharpen my writing and this was even truer during these last editing weeks. 

Finally, never underestimate the value and effectiveness of good old-fashion pen and paper – or in my case pencils! With a few sharpened pencils in my arsenal, I printed out the stories when I thought they were ready and took them downstairs where I’d commandeered the dining room table (my desk by this time was overflowing with papers!). Here the final editing took place and with the change of room, my creative spirit was rejuvenated and the final changes were made. Some of these were minor, a word or two; in other cases, a whole paragraph was rewritten and paragraph spacing was slightly adjusted in the more complex ones. Furthermore, I was inspired to change the title of two stories. 

The stories for my anthology were now ready to be sent away to my editor; however, there were several more important elements to the book to complete before the full manuscript was whole. In my next post, I will describe how I tackled the all-important blurb, tag-line and about the author page. 

Thank you very much for following my exciting journey to publication of this anthology of short stories.The book is due out beginning December and I will reveal the book title and cover soon.

“I love short stories because I believe they are the way we live. They are what our friends tell us, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice.” Andre Dubus

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‘Hot Bed of Innovation’ *

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Flexibility, control, copyright, maximum percentage earnings.  


These seem to be the key words for a new breed of entrepreneurs emerging in the publishing industry.  As more and more writers self-publish, what was previously regarded as vanity projects are now big business – both for writers and for the digital book industry.

Where before books would languish in drawers, writers with some knowledge, a lot of time, perseverance and social media presence can self-publish and hopefully with some or even lots of success.

Self-publishing has many positive elements:  

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  • The middle-man, retailers, are cut out and books are sold directly to the reader.numbers2
  • The earnings from the sale per book are increased for the writer in comparison with traditional publishing; the latter which have to take into account their work, marketing, printing and selling costs. The figures banded about are 10% in traditional publishing and copyright tied up for x-number of years against 70% in self-publishing with copyright retained and non-exclusivity. Of course, there are variations of numbers and contractual  terms within both sectors.flexi
  • Flexibility of sales technique is a major asset for those who decide to go the self-publishing route. There is the option to reduce and vary price,market special offers, including special promotions when a book might even be available for free. I know the latter is usually a major hit with many takers on the offer and resulting in increased reviews online. Also some authors can decide to part release chapters of their books via social media to tempt readers in. One major success of this tactic was Andy Weir’s ‘The Martian’.  He released his book chapter by chapter on his blog, before collating it into a complete book for self-publishing as an e-book, audio book and physical book. By then the word was already out and the book was picked up by a division of  Penguin Random House. It’s now a Hollywood blockbuster.  
  • Self-publishing also allows an author to publish a book no one in the traditional trade will touch as they consider it out of step with current market trends. One such example of miscalculation is the hugely successful ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, which E L James decided to self-publish following lack of interest by the publishing houses. She self-published, the book flourished and in due course was picked up by Vintage Books, which had the capability to bring the physical books nationwide and to an international market as well as offering the full support of its marketing team. To date the whole series boasts sales of a 125 million books!
  • Many self-published authors have realised the popularity of series books and often have the flexibility to bundle the books together as such when selling them, giving the reader a better deal and for the writer an opportunity to increase financial sales and hopefully win longterm readers in the process.
  • Another positive aspect to self-publishing is that books do not have to be standardised regarding length, with books varying much more in number of words and offering a larger scope for refreshing variety of books.

So how big is the self-publishing industry?  

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No one knows for sure, particularly as the largest operator (Amazon Kindle) refuses to release their sales figures, however it is believed that between 12-15% of books sold are self-published.  Although the number might not seem large, according to Author Earnings the earnings from e-books by self-published authors in America is collectively more than earned by authors represented by the Big Five publishers.

This is a massive amount and one that is only increasing. Its own success spawns trouble for newcomers who are entering a flooded market and have to work so much harder to try and win attention and interest in their book. It is not impossible but it can be trickier than ever the experts admit.

There are numerous difficulties facing a first-time self-published author.

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  • It can be an arduous task to release over many platforms such as Amazon,Kobo, Google Play and Apple iBooks. For each platform there is the need to reformat the book each time. This can be both time-consuming and requiring yet more new skills. 
  • Furthermore there is the all important book design cover to consider. Whether to try and achieve this on ones own or search for help.
  • The blurb is vital with any book and it is important to get this right!web
  • Last but not least the actual marketing falls upon the self-published author alone; not only to organise but also to carry out without support. This includes both the social media/online marketing and perhaps outside promotional events in eg. bookshops and libraries.dollarpound 
  • There is of course also the financial risk to factor in. Many writers will want to have their manuscript professionally proofread. Perhaps a professional cover will be commissioned. Also if producing the physical books there is the printing costs to consider. Douglas Wright, a former journalist, took the opportunity to self-publish his first book but he is only now starting to recoup the costs. 

If it all seems too much there is a huge network of support out there. Many here in WordPress are wonderful  bloggers offering help, advice and support for various or all elements of the process.  

Furthermore several companies exist to help with the whole package of self-publishing including Whitefox Publishing Services, Reedsy. Support forums also exist, such as Royal Road Self-Publishing Forum, Authors Alliance.

Finally, on a personal level the information above is of great interest to me as I consider which direction to take in the future. So many bloggers have successfully self-published not just one but many books and I hold them in high esteem. My admiration for their books and their ability is immense as I begin to realise the epic journey that awaits anyone contemplating this route. I am pretty tech savvy but the thought of trying to put all this together myself into an e-book instills a certain amount of fear and trepidation. The more I read the more confused I become. I will not let this hamper my efforts though and like the writing take it step by step should I decide to go this way, calling upon your invaluable help along the way! 

* Michael Tamblyn, Head of Kobo talking about e-books on BBC news.

Data is from various sources including BBC news.