Monthly Archives: August 2013

baby steps

Greetings readers,

I’m closing in on completing the editing process of my first story. Which is seriously freaking exciting! Unfortunately, it comes with bouts of Is this going to be good enough? Will anyone want to buy it? Will anyone read it after they buy it? Will people like it or send me hate mail?  The saga continues…

Doubts are soon swayed by shoulder shrugs intrinsically meaning that whatever happens happens. Besides, if I sell one book, I’ll be thrilled. Everything after that is a bonus.

I’m positive my dream of a beach side mansion complete with a suitably fancy car will never be a reality, but I’m hoping I make enough royalties to at least shout myself a much-needed massage. Sitting in a chair all day really does a number on your back.

As my mood is happy and carefree today thanks to a generous intake of chocolate, I’ve decided to share a snippet (slightly edited for this post) from my current story. I hope you enjoy it enough to crave more when the book goes live on Amazon in a month or so.

Claire.

It was as I bit into my first spoonful of my once-a-year slice of Café Roberto’s specialty cheesecake that Lola came out with, “So, have you shagged any sexy, drop-dead gorgeous women lately?”

I choked on the sweet treat in my mouth. In fact, I choked so much, Lola felt obliged to give me a firm whack on the back; a back that was bare considering my weather-inappropriate choice of stylish halter-neck top. I squealed in pain.

“Oh, oops, I think that might welt,” Lola said as she inspected my back and my face went from blue to pink again. “Yes. It will. I can see my finger marks.” She touched my skin tentatively. “Will you look at that, it’s all bumpy.”

Shrugging off her hand, I scowled at her.

“What?” she asked, acting innocent.

“You just made me choke on cake. Roberto’s cheesecake to be exact. And in the process, you slapped me on the back. What the hell, Lola?”

“Well, next time, don’t choke. I mean, seriously, I ask a perfectly innocent question, and you go all stupid on me.”

“Innocent? How is asking after my sex life innocent? It’s none of your damn business anyway.”

“Oh,” she drawled. “You didn’t get any, did you?”

I pouted.

“What happened to what’s-her-name? Lily? Jasmine? Frangipani?”

“Holly.”

She snapped her fingers. “That’s it! Holly. What happened to her?”

“She moved to America … two years ago.” I rolled my eyes.

“Two?”

“Two.”

“Has it really been that long?”

Yes, it had, and Lola knew it. Since Holly, my one and only secret girlfriend in all my twenty-six years, I hadn’t dated anyone.

“Oh, crap!” I said.

“What? Have you suddenly realized that you’re on the path to becoming a dried up old prune?” Lola asked unable to hide a smirk.

“No … Roger. I forgot to tell my sitter that his stylist is coming over this week to give him a trim.”

Lola rolled her eyes in a very dramatic fashion. “Honestly, Katie, you’re becoming one of those cat-lady people.”

“What cat-lady people?” I asked, slightly distracted  as I fished out my phone from my handbag.

“You know, cat ladies.”

Dialing my sitter’s number, I looked back to Lola and said, “What are you on about?”

She sighed with flair. “Never mind.”

*
We finished up our lunch and I bent down to retrieve my wallet from my handbag when I heard Lola suck in air.

“What?” I asked looking around in a panic.

“Umm … I do hope you’re not wearing a backless dress later.”

I looked over my shoulder. “Why? How bad is it?”

“Erm … do you have a shawl or something in your bag?”

“Why?”

“Because I’m not sure it would do to be seen with someone with a great big red hand print on their back.”

“What about the poor bloody person that has to wear the said hand print? You hit me remember?”

Lola narrowed her eyes all defiantly at me. “I saved your life! And besides, it’s freezing out there, why are you in a sodding halter-neck?”

Shaking my head at her, I fished a scarf out of my bag and tied it around my neck so it draped down my back.

“Well, that just looks ridiculous,” Lola offered in comment.

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she said before laughing in a tinkle at me.

Sometimes I really wonder why Lola is my best friend.

Self-publishing dramas

Well holy gee and what an eye-opening experience.

I decided to make myself feel authorial the other day and opened up an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and had a lovely time of it until I came across the payment section. Thinking that electronic transfer (EFT) for any payments I may or may not receive as I try to sell my book would be the automatic choice. Turns out, because I’m Australian (surprise!), and am ineligible to hold an American bank account, this choice is not available, and it means there are many loops I need to acrobatically dive through to make the most of my royalties (if I ever make any … but that’s something to worry about another day).

First obstacle…taxes. Unless you’re willing to lose 30% of your earnings straight up to taxes, then my advice is to apply immediately for an EIN (Employee Identification Number) from the US tax office. Once done, find form W-8BEN, fill it out and send it to Amazon. This will drop the 30% tax rate down to 5%. This is the best rate you can get from Australia.

Second obstacle. Payment by cheque. While not really an obstacle, because hey, you’re getting paid and that in itself is a bonus, getting paid by cheque has its own little quirks. After reading experiences from other Australian authors, I’ve discovered the following: first off, it takes a LONG time. Second, it costs you money each time you bank a cheque at your local bank branch. Next, that cheque takes another month to process, and then finally, you get paid. Hopefully you’re not relying on this particular income, because I suspect you may have starved to death by this point.

 

On a brighter note, I’m done with my rewrites for my first novel and am finalising the editing, front pages and front cover. Exciting stuff!

Claire.

Critique partner – worth the gut stabbing truth?

Greetings readers.

Today’s little rave, in my opinion, is about critique partners. These are people, or a person, that reads your work and provides feedback. These people can be dangerous to your ego. I have a wonderful group of people that read my work and go WOW! They’re nice to have as part of my team as they make me smile and feel like I’m achieving something. Several of them have an excellent grasp of the way story-telling works within the rules of grammar, and they are irreplaceable! Among my critique helpers, is a woman that provides bare and critical truths in a thinly disguised attempt at diplomacy. At this woman, I usually swear under my breath…a lot.

Like I said, I have a few people that read my work and the one I get the most out of professionally, is the one that tells me I can do better. I don’t think there’s been a piece of work I’ve sent her that hasn’t come back as “It’s not complete crap…but…” (see…thinly disguised!)

I have to admit, it’s NOT a nice feeling. Nope. Horrible. Yuck. But it gets me thinking. And reviewing. And soon, I make what I initially thought was Hemingway, into something passable by today’s literary standards.

So which is the better critique partner? The type that deflates your balloon, or the type that inflates it? I like the mix, and I have the mix, but if given a choice, go for the deflating one, but only if by working off their feedback that they begin to appreciate your work and thereby, you inflate the balloon together. No point having someone that constantly thinks your work should adorn the toilet roll.

If you’re going to be a serious author, then you’re going to have to learn how to deal with criticism. Not everyone is going to like your writing, and because one of my greatest critics is a friend, I’ve learned to cope with hearing what I don’t want to hear…and learned from it.

My point? Write for those that love your work. Listen to those that criticise it. Improve because of it.

Simple, right?

If you Google critiquing, you’ll find a wealth of information, protocols, lists and how-to’s. What works for me is something very casual; a pact between friends almost. Find what suits you, find someone that gets what you’re trying to write, and find someone that’s going to help you think and thus, learn.

One final thought…if you can find someone to review your work who lives in the country you’re setting your story in, then grab them with two hands and hold on tight! I can’t stress how important one of my critique partners has been because she lives where my characters do. Local knowledge is like gold. If you can’t get a person like that, research, research, research, research…you get my point.

So, are critique partners essential? Probably not, but I wouldn’t trade mine in for anything. In my humble opinion, they’re the icing on the top of the cake. Edible without it, but far better with it.

Claire.

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