Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two guest appearances, two wonderful people

Yesterday, I've been 'guesting' on Winn Smith's blog, speaking about ADHD; what it is, how it affects me and why writing is my cure. Mainly to clear some of the misconceptions about only children being affected, because it's not true. The children born with AD(H)D will keep it all their lives. Pop by and read the guest post here:

Today, Leona Davis has posted an interview with me, to celebrate the release of my newest novel Candlelight Sinner, sequel to No Wings Attached. If you like to know how I felt about writing the sequel, please stop by at Leona's blog; especially if you have similar experiences.

If you can't be bothered and rather like to know what the books are about, you can buy

No Wings Attached on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Candlelight Sinner on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
and if that's not taking your fancy, try my funny short stories avaiblable on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Have a great day,


Monday, January 30, 2012

Authors, take it on the chin

I recently stumbled over open complaints about negative reviews. Authors who either felt the need to educate readers or who felt personally insulted by the reader in question. I say reader here, because Amazon reviews can hardly be described to be professional. Though called reviews, they are merely readers' opinions. Nothing wrong with that, if only authors would understand that they are exactly that: opinions. And although I understand that receiving two or even one star 'reviews' is hurtful, there's no reason to go and whine openly about it.

Above: screenshot of the reviews I've received in the UK for Excuse me, where is the exit?
In many cases, if the book is well written and in general liked, the person reviewing it had a bad day at work, was left by the partner, didn't have regular bowel movements, whatever their reason, they had to take it out on someone.
In some cases, if the book is mediocre to bad or unreadable, those opinions are valid and important to the potential new buyer. That's what they are there for, by the way, despite the common misconception of authors thinking they're for them and therefore demand constructive criticism. I argued on one of the threads to think about how one goes about it personally. When I hated a book back then, in the days when I wasn't an author, I would've told my friends, 'Man that was utter shite, bored me stiff. The main character is just not right in the head. Don't buy it.'
I wouldn't have told my friend what the author could've done better. Why? Because I didn't care; I was a reader, a consumer and when that particular book didn't do its job, I moved on to the next.
It's rather ridiculous to demand anything from a reader. He or she already bought the book and spend valuable time with it, so him or her writing down what he or she thought of it, is a bonus, not something they have to do. To argue back or complain about it, doesn't really work in the author's favour, I would think. I for one would steer clear of giving an opinion, even if asked.
I received my first 2-star review today and guess what? I grinned, partly because I feel complete as an author now and partly because I knew it's going to happen after my post on Amazon was deleted. It's probably just a payback review for daring to speak my mind.

Besides, a mix of reviews is a good thing. It's natural that not everyone loves your book; some didn't get it, some didn't like it and then there are those who are completely taken. So no reason to complain and in case you have more negative than positive reviews, then, well, then back to drawing board.

So, authors, chin up, the next one might be five stars and the sun will shine again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

2600 and counting

I've always said I won't give my books away for free, unless they are for reviewers or some hand-picked people I want to give the books to.
Now I have been hearing good things about the Amazon KPD select programme -- something to get your books out there, your face and your writing known. Let me explain in short: you are exclusive with Amazon for 90 days in which you are  not allowed to sell e-copies of the enrolled book elsewhere. During that time you are allowed (you don't have to) give away your book for free for five days. You can do them all in one go or split them.
I've enrolled Excuse me, where is the exit? and also my new book Candlelight Sinner, which I both unpublished and removed from Smashwords since I never really made money there. Amazon is my main sales outlet.
Now my sales weren't too bad, but not very good either. Roughly about 150 in the past months, slowly going up again, but that's not enough to rectify the hard work I put into writing and promoting them.
With the promotion -- both books are free over the weekend -- I had over 2700 downloads since yesterday. To be honest I'm still in shock about the vast amount of downloads. It seems that my short stories do really well in the humour genre (position 3 as I type), yes even in the overall free charts (position 19). Candlelight Sinner has taken off on Amazon.com.
I wonder if that mirrors the 'buying' patterns of readers. I will admit that downloading freebies is addictive as I have downloaded about 20 books myself in the past two days. I only downloaded what I would buy in a shop, based on the pitch and I know I will give all of them a try, hopefully finding one or the other gem.

But with books on promotion for free on a daily basis, I'm a little worried that readers might rather download free books than paying for them, especially if they are by new Indie authors.
Many authors who have enrolled their books have reported an improvement on sales and it better when I think of the amounts of books given away. I expected only a couple of hundred downloads, but the actual figures make this one author dizzy. By the way, since starting this post about fifteen minutes ago, I had another 100 downloads. If only that would happen every day, with readers paying for the books. :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The return of the muse. Oh, how I've missed you.

It was a busy day for me, exhausting, to be honest; the release of Candlelight Sinner was a bit more complicated. I had to update the other two books for Kindle and Smashwords and I get easily confused. Yes, give me three sheets of paper and I'm in tears. Well, not that bad, but I have to concentrate very hard to get everything right.
Never mind, after hours of fighting with the different formats, I had the books updated and my latest baby released into the world. It's free on Smashwords for today until midnight and after that will be $3.49/�2.31. Still not bad, I would say. The downloads are flying in, but from experience I know only 10% will probably read the book. Many just hoard it. But I'm happy for the 10% to be able to flee from reality for a while.

To celebrate, I will write a 500-word flash fiction piece for my newly launched writers' group. I've given the prompt 'On a winter's night' and to be honest, I can't wait to write something; it's itching heavily. My muse has probably been ringing the buzzer of my former flat, trying to get in and help me writing. What a surprise when my buzzer went and the lost muse showed up. Back to writing!
I'm also looking forward to what people of the group come up with. I have only met two of them 'informally' and they are lovely.

Since I want to write two books this year, I better get cracking soon, right? My horror thriller, which exists of two scenes so far, one of them you can find here, has been calling, the story slowly forming in my mind. I will, though, write the scenes first and then weave them into a story. It's probably multi layered. Typical. Nothing easy for me please.

If you need to get your arse from the sofa and the fingers to your keyboard, feel free to use the same prompt. :-)

Happy writing, everyone.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Amanda Hocking disappoints

Those who know me also know that I'm not shy of admitting that I loved Twilight. In fact Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is the reason for starting to write myself. I have always been the one with the nose right in a book as a kid and teenager, going to the library exchanging read books for new ones -- a real book worm. As an adult I still read, but I rarely have the 'can't put it down' feeling anymore. Then came Bella and her Edward and took me by surprise. Up to then, I actually didn't read any vampire books, at least not that I know of. But I can say I had been well and truly hooked and read every spare minute.

Since then, I've learned the craft myself. Not sure if I'd look at the series with the same eyes I did back then, but I had high hopes for Amada Hocking's My Blood Approves series. I had started the first book a while back and stopped rather soon. Couldn't stand the MC's relationship with her friend Jane and it just didn't hook me that much. I tried again a bit later and read the whole sample; still not being convinced, I passed on buying.
I really wanted to like the book, though. I thought there must be something to it if she's so successful, so after another few weeks I bought it and actually read it. After finishing it yesterday, I'm left disappointed. The ending is rather odd and felt like she didn't really know how to wrap it up.

While reading I had the feeling I missed something and I really didn't understand the strong yearning for Peter when she was in love with Jack. It didn't seem to be described well enough for me. And I also couldn't connect with Alice. Besides: I always visualised Alice being Amanda, probably a result of the character being a bit too weak. I normally don't have authors I've seen pictures of pop up before my eyes when I'm reading. I felt like this with all her characters. I didn't fall in love with any of them.

Her writing isn't too bad, I'd say, a few POV glitches, but one can see she's been writing for a few years; she knows the techniques, but her character development needs some work, in my opinion and I expected her to end the book with a bang, but it didn't happen. I didn't feel like I needed to know how it continues.

I know for sure that I'll pass on the other books in the series. To me there no comparison to Twilight. I think it's because of Bella acting far more mature than Alice and the story, to me, was far more believable than My Blood Approves.

Anyway, it's just my opinion. I wish Amanda Hocking that her success continues and a huge kudos to her. She's shown the sceptics that you can do it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I hate third person omniscient POV

Because it puts me into a position of an observer, rather than connecting with the character. One reason I can't stand the best-selling novel One Day is that it's written in this POV. Personally I think it would have worked much better with two limited third person POVs, rather than hopping heads.

Many new writers accidentally slip into this POV, where they report from one character's perspective and suddenly jump into the other character's thoughts. While I just felt for the first character, I'm ripped out of the perspective and thrown into the other one; basically, I'm told to stand back and watch. Something, I personally don't like as a reader.

The other thing is that it takes away a lot of suspense and secrecy. I also often feel that the characters end up a little flatter than those who have to work hard to find their answers.

To name an example:

Judy tells John that she is in love with him. John loves her too and is delighted, but doesn't say anything or denies his feelings for her because he is in a relationship. Key is: the reader knows John feels the same and can get frustrated because he doesn't act on them.

Third person limited would be Judy being in love and wondering if John feels the same, or vice versa. Judy would have to read his expressions, weigh his answer.The reader keeps wondering and you have a great page turner, because you want them to be together in the end.

Those who read my books know that I'm a big fan of second person POV (you), though my Branded series is in first person POV (I). Although I love a challenge, I don't think I'll ever attempt third person omniscient. Limited, yes, but not the former. I think it's extremely difficult to do it well.

What's your favourite POV; whether it is as a reader or as a writer?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tip of the week: an important comma that makes a difference

I'll make it short this week; nevertheless it's something I wanted to point out as I've read quite a few self-published books or edited a lot of manuscripts where this particular comma is missing.
For many it might not be important, but it's rather interesting 5o see how the meaning of a sentence can be altered, just by inserting this tiny little punctuation mark. It's used mainly in dialogue, or when the character writes a letter/e-mail; in any case, one person is addressed by name or nickname.

"Could you please explain what you're talking about, love?"
"Hi, lovely blog visitor."
"Hello, everyone."
"I know, Stella, what you mean."
"Stella, it was you, wasn't it?"
"Good morning, reader."
"Thanks, dear buyer of my book."

Here is an example about altering the meaning:
"I don't know Stella." (Someone has no clue who Stella is.)
"I don't know, Stella." (Someone tells Stella that he or she has no clue.)

Okay this should be the small editing tip for today. I wish you all a happy Sunday.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Find out more about my writing and books

A new year, a new interview and soon a new book to come out. Yes, it seems that I'm starting 2012 with a bang. Candlelight Sinner is in the correcting process and should be released by end of this month. That's my third published book and it shall not be the end of it. There's no stopping that Stella Deleuze.

But first things first: Morgen Bailey has posted an interview with me on her rather versatile blog. She asked lots of questions about how and what I write and of course I've answered them.

So if you're curious to find out more, pop by her blog and leave a comment or share the link. If you are an author, she'll be happy to hear from you, too; she posts an interview a day and she asks good and intelligent questions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This blog is still alive.

No, I haven't forgotten about you guys; I'm just rather much in post moving stress. My new flat is great, but I'm still sitting between packed boxes, everything is chaos and I can't find anything. I'm constantly searching for something. The iguana still hasn't his home complete either. I'm working on it, both: the vivarium and my flat. The big sheets didn't fit through the staircase, so we had to leave them downstairs for the night and saw a bit off to make them fit. Now my friend knows how to use power tools. Under my careful instructions and a minor incident with the blade (nobody has been injured), everything went almost smoothly.

I'm battered and bruised, though, but that's okay, they say if you don't you haven't really moved. Right now, I'm waiting for a handyman to come and fix the water pressure and being made homeless for a few hours, I'll sort of the handover of the keys to the old flat. When I'm back I'll hopefully be able to finish the vivarium and will go to bed early, after a nice hot bath in cocoa butter (or similar).

Just you wait, I feel a short story coming out of this disastrous move; I say disastrous because things went a bit pear-shaped. But the reward is a wonderful flat with the nicest landlord one could wish for and in addition to that: all neighbours are rather wonderful, too.

Don't worry, I'll be back.

Stella Schwarzenegger. (Sorry it was stronger than me.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Minefield e-book pricing

Since I'm going to release a new novel soon, I'm once again faced with the decision of how to price the book. I normally start with a low introduction price for a limited period of time, then go up to $3.49 which is about �2.50 give or take. And even that is awfully low compared to the work I put in. Whatever I do, I'll win and lose readers.

On the Amazon forum I read that many don't even bother with 'cheap' books anymore, because to them cheap=bad quality. They seem to have had some negative experiences.
Then you have readers who say they won't buy a book from a new and unknown author if it's not under a dollar or pound, which puts us self-published authors into an awkward position: we just can't win, but we want to. Readers, that is.

I'm beginning to think sites like smashwords or Project Gutenberg, where readers can download thousands of free e-books, has done the Indie market more harm than good; yes even the low pricing somehow doesn't seem right. For many authors the book took at least a year, for some even years to write, so it's not really fair to expect a low price. I know quite a few authors who have put a great deal of time and effort into their books before publishing them; they meet the standards of traditionally published books and I think these authors should be rewarded.

To be clear: I think having a book for free for a short period -- like the recent Amazon promotion -- is a great marketing tool, but handing out your book for free is like going to the office every day and not getting paid. I personally will leave the short stories on a low price, but will sell my novels for a more reasonable amount.

Since e-books seem to be the future, I think maybe it's time for us Indie authors to take action and set the prices higher, but also make sure we release good quality novels so the gap between traditionally published books and ours will close over time.

Are you self-published or a reader? What is your opinion?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And suddenly it's a new year

Happy New Year 2012
to all of you, who visit regularly, who take the time to comment, to those who stumbled over my blog and come back, as well as to you, who just visit for the first time. 

I hope you had a splendid night; full of joy, surrounded by lovely people and that the hangover isn't too bad either.
2011 ended rather exciting for me: I might actually really move house and will therefore be able to get rid of my horrible upstairs neighbours. Keep your fingers crossed. 

I had a wonderful last evening of the year; my friend John came over and I cooked. 
First we had butternut squash cream soup then seabass teriyake style with jasmin rice, John brought cheesecake and a wine. And believe it or not: as always when I have visitors around, it was absolutely quiet upstairs!

We chatted until about 3am and then fell asleep, stuffed, exhausted and tired.  Successful and safe into the new year, no big party, no drunken people, no arguments. That's how I like it. 

Normally I would post a Tip of the week today, but I assume that many of you are rather knackered, so I'll do that next week. My only advice for now is to take it easy, drink lots of water, eat a nice fry up and let 2012 roll on.

Wish you all a great year with plenty of wonderful times, lots of health, wealth and most of all: love.

Thank you for your loyalty.