Monday, 31 December 2012

My crazy writing year

On the face of it you'd think I'd had a successful writing year. With Living Cruelty Free out in Kindle and paperback, my zombie novel Dead Bastards astounding me by coming out before Christmas (thanks to the remarkable editing skills of my publisher Terry Wright) and Hell to Pay written and in the hands of my publisher (and more Die Hard for Girls books planned), it does sound good.
But, sadly this year has been a complete nightmare and one I'll be glad to see the back of, for a number of reasons -

1. Because of a Facebook page I set up for my bullying book, I found myself being cyber stalked by a crazy person and their family who'd send me harassing messages even when I blocked them.

2. Writing Living Cruelty Free meant looking at horrific images of man's inhumanity to man and animals. Some of those images and research I had to look at gave me nightmares. I sunk into a deep depression it took me months to get out of.

3. I found myself working 15 hours a day to promote/edit my books - yep, even on Christmas Day. I now find it difficult to sleep and my agoraphobia's got worse.

4. Sales of the books my publisher Need2Know decided to give away, free and unlimited (without telling me) for w YEAR have fallen through the floor. Before, one in particular, was selling steadily. No sales mean any royalties. No wonder I have to decide which room to heat. Anyone has this illusion of writers being wealthy should think again.

5. Thanks to the sock puppet scandal, I've had reviews from people who bought my books taken down on Amazon without explanation. The reason - they said in their reviews they were writers too. Like writers don't/can't read? It's hard enough to get reviews at it is without that happening. Ditto people who were bought my book as a gift because they weren't verified purchasers. Well, they wouldn't be - the books were bought by someone else for them.
Not that top authors who’ve already made a name for themselves will be affected; it will just be us little guys who don't have big publishing houses and the might of their publicity budgets behind us.

And, that's just my writing life. Oh, and the year started with a 3 day power cut - in an apartment, with no gas or coal fire.

So, let's raise a glass to 2013, may it bring us all better days.


Friday, 28 December 2012

6 Things every writer should know

I was first published when I was 15 and wrote a piece on superstitions for Jackie magazine. Over the years, though my writing, this is what I’ve learned -
1. Write as much as you can in as many different genres as you can. That way when opportunities present themselves you'll be ready. I know this from experience. In March 2011, I signed a contract to have my first work of fiction published, my novella How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks. For various reason it didn't happen. I also started a follow up book I called Die Hard for Girls. When I saw on Twitter that Sassy Books were looking for submissions, I tweeted the editor. Would she be interested in Die Hard for Girls that I'd since renamed Hell to Pay. She said yes and I submitted it and was offered a good royalty contract just days later.

2. That brings me to my second point - make sure you're on social networking sites so you'll see these opportunities. Without Twitter I'd have two books sitting in my unpublished file. Join great forums like Writer's News Talkback. Network with other writers. See an opportunity for another writer, let them know. They'll alert you to an opportunity you might have missed.

3. That brings me nicely to my third point - help other writers. Don't see them as competitors; see them as comrades in the trenches of writing. Help one another. Commiserate when things go wrong; celebrate their successes. Unless you do it can get lonely.

4.Learn to promote your books. You can't expect your publisher to place ads in the big newspapers. They only do that for the big names. As for you, a listing in their online catalogue is the best you can hope for. The plus side is that because you know your book so well you're the best person to promote it. I have Twitter, Facebook pages and dedicated blogs for Dead Bastards and Living Cruelty Free. The only cost to me was my time. I know doing this has sold books.

5.Don't ever tell yourself "I can't write in that." If a story comes alive in your head, go with it. I never thought I'd write a horror novel. Then this image came into my head of a man turning up at his friend's door looking like he'd been mugged. Only when he comes inside it becomes clear that his guts are spilling out and this is no ordinary mugging. When he dies and then comes back and tries to eat them, they realize that the zombies are here.

I just couldn't get this image out of my head of this guy's guts spilling out onto the floor and this Glasgow couple trying to scoop them up and shove them back in again, so I started scribbling away. And so, Dead Bastards was born.

6.Just because a publisher says no the first time doesn't mean you should give up. TWB Press who published my Glasgow zombie novel originally turned it down when I submitted it as a serial. I really admired the ethos of the company (no non-sense entertainment), so I worked on it some more and what was intended to be a 30k novella ended up a 70k novel (although over 10, 000 words were cut). The publisher Terry Wright liked it and wanted to publish it.


Friday, 14 December 2012

The zombies are on the move...

I was delighted to be invited over to the amazing McDroll's blog to talk about Dead Bastards and why I wrote it.

To read the piece, click here

McDroll's latest book is called Kick It With Conviction and is a collection of short stories. It's available on Amazon UK and USA.

To find out more about McDroll, click here.

Dead Bastards is available now from the following -

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hell To Pay cover preview

Today, I got a sneak peek of my book Hell To Pay, which will be published by Sassy Books an imprint of JH Publishing next year.

I am so excited. What do you think?

When Nancy Kerr walks in on her parents’ killers, she’s raped and left for dead. Fourteen months later, she wakes up in a psychiatric hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Slowly her memory starts to return. Released from the institution, she has just one thing on her mind – revenge.
Two men brought hell to her family home. Now they’re in for some hell of their own.
It's the first revenge thriller featuring Nancy Kerr and Tommy McIntyre.

2014 UPDATE  - after one of my worst experiences in publishing with John Hunt Publishing, I won the rights to Hell To Pay back. The book was relaunched with a new cover. 

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