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Why I’m Struggling to Produce

I know it’s stupid, but there’s something that has obviously affected me deeper than I previously realised.

Back in 2012, when there was a scuffle on Goodreads that led to some particularly nasty people being kicked off, my books were targeted in a slew of hatred by a number of individuals Goodreads eventually permanently banned for their harassment and breaking of their terms of service. Among many of the artificial insults slung my way (because I was an author and therefore vulnerable to attack) such as my being jealous, my sending trolls after critics, and other things, was one insult that seems to have stuck in my mind all these years later.

It was targeted to my book the Edge of Darkness, which I self-published in 2011. The insult was that my book was ‘not long enough to be a real book.’

cover eod 2014 I guess that word count insult has stayed with me, because I wrote The Edge of Darkness in 2010’s NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event held every November that encourages you to write a 50K long book.

The world was a vastly different place back in 2011. Small press publishers didn’t have the clout they have now. Indie publishers and self-publishers didn’t have the clout and even the respect some of them have now. Some people assumed self-publishers would be producing traditional-publishing-worthy tomes but simply at cheaper prices.

I’ve made no secret the fact that I didn’t query The Edge of Darkness is because as a full-length adult sci-fi it only stood at 52K words, and traditional publishers only look at sci-fi if it’s much longer, around 70-110K. There was no way I was adding word padding to a completed story, so I was stuck. Small presses were so far off my radar I didn’t even consider handing my book over to them. I felt the only other option was to self-publish.

Three years later and I’ve noticed several things that have changed in the world around me.

The Edge of Darkness isn’t an adult book, it’s a New Adult book. My heroine, Max, is 26, but because she was a prisoner for five years she’s psychologically undeveloped and is still a young adult, I’d estimate in her early twenties. She’s still facing issues other young adults aged 18-25 face. She’s just doing it in deep space with robotic parts. New Adult was barely a genre back in 2011. Now it’s everywhere.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of digital imprints are calling for books exactly this length. They want genre books up to 50K or thereabouts. They don’t want to wallop their readers with enormous books. They want to offer somewhat shorter fiction, to entice readers into investing less time and effort reading this one book, in the hopes the reader might read more.

Storm of Blood final coverWhen I wrote Storm of Blood, I was still stinging from The Edge of Darkness ‘not being long enough’ (according to a troll who was kicked off Goodreads for harassment, so I know it’s ridiculous I’m still stinging from that one insult). Storm of Blood topped in at 80K, but writing that much burnt me out. For a long time I couldn’t face writing something so long when I’m clearly made for writing shorter fiction. I know in the grand scheme of things 80K isn’t particularly long when there’s 110K-150K tomes out there vying for attention, but 80K is pretty respectful among the traditionally published. I don’t regret writing that much, because I do feel the story is complete and every word and every scene was needed.

But the next thing I wrote after Storm of Blood was much shorter. I needed a break from the pressure of producing longer fiction. I wrote a series of contemporary romance novellas. They topped in at 25K each, but they were a connected series.

And then I panicked, because Lissa doesn’t write contemporary romance. She writes sci-fi and paranormal books about kick-butt women with magical powers.

So I don’t even know if you’re ever going to see these romance novellas, which I honestly do love and am very proud of, because this genre doesn’t fit in with my brand. I’ve left them trunked for six months while I figure out what I want to do with them. Do I want to self-publish them under Lissa, or a pen name, or even query them?

And then there’s the question of the daunting task of the next Storm Force book. Storm of Magic is coming, I swear. But trying to match 80K in a year as well as the dozens of other books I want to write, including another sci-fi about superheroes and that paranormal bisexual romance I lost half of when my computer died… add on to that the pressure to be ‘successful’ and to churn out my work as fast as I can even though I have a day job and a family and my writing is a slow process anyway because I actually trunk my novels and leave them to breathe between edits…

…and the word on the street is that if you’re not producing 2 books a year, your audience will forget you…

All of this pressure is why I’m struggling to write anything long at the moment. Well that, and the fact that I literally have dozens of ideas and trying to catch one to pin it down is like trying to herd river water by throwing darts.

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I’ve been writing short fiction, short stories, to keep up with the craft, but it’s nothing the sci-fi/PNR part of me can ever publish.

I’ll settle, eventually. I have lots and lots of books ready to be written. Maybe this is simply the post-Book 2 blues getting to me. We’ll see.

Sirengate: My Two Cents

I’ve not wanted to say anything about Sirengate (which, despite happening in January, has only come to light recently) because, although it saddens me, it doesn’t affect me directly. I don’t follow the Story Siren (because I don’t enjoy her reviews) and I’ve kept to a small section of the book blogging world (Goodreads) until recently.

But now I’m breaking my silence, for what it’s worth. Not much, I know, but still.

Not to talk about the Story Siren. Well, not directly. More to talk about her fanbase.

Let me clarify: there are people who have lost respect for the Story Siren and have dropped all ties. There are people who have forgiven her for her transgression and moved on. And there’s a third group, who have taken it upon themselves to attack the original victims of the Siren’s crime. The people who run the blogs she plagiarised. The victims whose words she copied, knowing full well what plagiarism is.

I’m clarifying again, because it took me a few moments to realise myself: the plagiarist’s fans are sending hate mail to the victims of the plagiarism.

I don’t know what the hate mail is saying, but I can guess. It’ll be along the same lines as Cassandra Clare’s fans when they conveniently forget her fanfiction was deleted off Fanfiction.net for plagiarism. Clare never confessed to her plagiarism, spinning a story that it was a game between her friends. The Story Siren has spun another story that takes the blame off her: that she didn’t realise, that it was a mistake or wasn’t deliberate, that she was confused, that she’s sorry and she doesn’t expect anyone to understand.

The similarities between the two events are somewhat similar, but the overwhelming similarity is how the fans who love her have reacted.

I’m not saying the Siren’s a criminal, but it’s similar to the family of a thief going to arms against the police when the thief is arrested. Someone has been wronged, and it’s not the Siren.

I don’t agree with going after the Siren with pitchforks, because everyone screws up every now and then. I don’t want this swept under the rug. But I certainly must condemn the fan reaction and backlash against the innocent bloggers who ‘dared’ to reveal the plagiarism. They didn’t even name her. It was the book bloggers who revealed who the plagiarist was.

It makes me terribly sad, and a little angry.

Since when has popularity been a replacement for integrity?

Drama Llamas, Everywhere

Hey kittens. It’s Tuesday and it’s about time I checked in on you again even though I have no idea what you’re interested in hearing about. So I’ll just tell you why I’ve been absent from blogging in the hopes you’ll still read it.

First the bad stuff:

  • As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’ve cut back on my blogging. This is because the Viking and I are moving to Australia in a little over a month. And I’m really sorry: I know some of you really love my blogging, but I just can’t commit to more than once a week at this rate, or even to that once a week. I know I had a schedule up for 30 Days of Disney and everything, but I’m just not in the right place to do this right now. Things will change once I’m settled in Australia but right now I’m citing personal reasons for the lack of updates – as well as the fact that I *shamefacedly* haven’t been writing.
  • The Viking and I are nearly out of books. We’ve been sorting out our house and have had to give almost everything we own away to charity shops. Luckily I have a few paperbacks unpacked (Hallowed, Huntress, and Kissed By An Angel 1-4) and a slew of ebooks to read, even though I don’t really like reading ebooks on my computer.
  • In amongst the whole ‘YA authors vs book reviewers’ hoo-ha that’s been going around the internet lately I’ve been having my own crisis on Goodreads, where I’m both an author and a reviewer: several friends of a vanity-published author whose book I rated 1 star decided to rate my own books 1 star in retaliation, because for some reason they thought I was being particularly nasty. For the record, I wasn’t. The author in question and I had only ever been civil to one another, but if there hadn’t been several altercations with my friends, I wouldn’t have discovered ‘the book’. The book was what I refer to as ‘my genre’: young adult high fantasy, what I love reading and writing best. I tried to read it, hated it, and reported so on Goodreads in the most professional and objective review I’ve written yet. A month later the 1 star ratings and nasty slanderous shelves started appearing on my books, such as ‘vengeful author’, ‘author sends trolls against critics’, ‘bad author stay away’, ‘bad author behaviour’, ‘author can’t take criticism’ and ‘author should just give up’.
    For the record I don’t care what you rate my book so long as it’s honest. I’ll never hold a negative review against anyone. I believe in freedom of speech when it comes to books: however I do not agree with bashing authors. The author of the book I rated 1 star contacted me and we had a civil, friendly discussion, and the author asked those friends to remove their ratings. Most did. But while the whole ‘YA authors vs book reviewer’s’ hoo-ha has been going on, I didn’t particularly want to write a post about what happened because it might look like I was another author who was complaining about 1 star reviews.

    Most of the ratings have now been removed, although some lingering ‘bad author’ shelves remain. I wrote a post addressing this, as is my style (much like Abraham Lincoln would often write letters and never deliver them just to get it out of his system) but now that post seems rather superfluous. Not sure whether I’ll post it. It’s out of my system and I just want to move on.

  • Now the good stuff:

    • I had a chat with Goodreads moderators about this. They’re investigating because the accounts that rated my book 1 star DO look suspicious (so a few people I won’t name here but you know who you are might rest a bit easy on your own suspicions).
    • I want to thank EVERYONE who supported me. I won’t name names but thank you to people who volunteered to honestly review the book, thanks to people who spread that I was looking for reviewers, thanks to people who comforted me during this and who put on their Troll Brigade helmets. If you THINK I’m talking about you, I probably am, so thank you.
    • I got a full manuscript request from a brand new small press publisher and am currently revising the manuscript before I send it off.

the highest of fives

    • I’m starting a read-along on Goodreads of The Hunger Games on Saturday. I’m the only one who hasn’t read it so far, so if you’ve been meaning to read it before the film comes out in March, sign up here to read along with us.

Do You Know An Amazon Bestseller?

Well, if you didn’t before, you do now!

My short story collection, Storm Front, is currently on Amazon’s top 100 bestseller’s list for fantasy short stories.

 

This is going to annoy some people. Some other crap is going down on Goodreads where basically an author whose book I rated one star has sent her friends to rate my books 1 star. I’m so happy I’ve risen to Amazon Bestseller status now. Even though it’s horrible to be bullied that way, this shows that ratings don’t necessarily mean people will avoid your books.

Hey, Look! A New Book!

I’m so awesome at rhyming.

The Archive of Lost Dreams and other paranormal tales is now available on Smashwords and, as a bonus, also on Goodreads (where I will shortly be adding the Storm Front short stories as well)!

Yaaaaaaaaaaay!

Also – there’s another gorgeous cover! Whatever would I do without my wonderful cover artist? I don’t know.

I love it to bits. It’s so elegant and old-timey (wimey).

This Tenth Doctor gif is inserted purely for the viewing pleasure of Archer and Melbs. You’re welcome.

Brief synopsis:

Four short paranormal tales.

The Archive of Lost Dreams: a little girl discovers the importance of dreams and wishes.

Roses Are Red: Nineteen year old Loren meets her guardian angel who is struggling with jealousy issues.

Don’t Even Peep: Eight year old Susan investigates the secrets in her Victorian home.

Round, Round The Fairy Ring: Seven year old Abigail’s new baby sister is replaced with a fairy changeling.

 

Go add the book to Goodreads and read the preview on Smashwords and buy it if you have a spare 99c!

I haven’t abandoned you

Things have slowed down a lot here since NaNo ended. What with appearing on Gina’s blog a couple of times and everything being a bit crazy in my house since we found out we’re moving to Australia next year, helping some mates move house while still trying to keep up with my reading as advised by Stephen King (who says every writer should read every day)… I’ve lost my routine.

I’ve been writing reviews of books on Goodreads and it took me several days to write one for Hush, Hush because I’ve not been home and I need to have my bum on the chair to write. So while I’ve not been active here on the blog, I have been active in other areas.

I wrote a blog post available on Goodreads about a trolling author who’s been bullying some friends of mine.

That, and I got my hands on the Pirates and Nobles expansion pack for The Sims Medieval, and seeing as how I’m a high fantasy writer at heart, that game can actually fall under the category of ‘inspiration’.

However I haven’t abandoned you. I’m working on some new releases with my fabulous cover artist. I’ll be releasing The Archive of Lost Dreams on Smashwords soon, and Storm Front (and The Archive of Lost Dreams bundled together) on Amazon. So I’m sure you can forgive me for a lack of blogging when there’s going to be some new stories coming out, right?

Ten Tips For Good Goodreads Author Behaviour

I’ve been a member of the book review site Goodreads for a while now. First I was simply a reviewer, and then when I published The Edge of Darkness I became a Goodreads author.

Since becoming an author, I have noticed some very bad behaviour from other authors on Goodreads. This advice extends to all author-readers interactions as well, including reviews on Amazon and blogs.

  1. Remember that everyone who comes across your writing left anywhere on the internet is a potential reader.
  2. Remember that not everyone who comes across your writing will want to read your book. However, if you behave in a civilised manner and use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as engage in polite conversation and extend the courtesy of being friendly, you might spike an interest in someone who does not already know about your book.
  3. Certainly do not, under any circumstances, alienate readers by insulting their reviews and opinions.
  4. If you do happen to get into a flame war or another sort of disagreement, apologise and bow out early. Do not under any circumstances keep the argument going. You’re not going to change anyone’s mind and you’ll alienate potential readers. Remember, readers are potential reviewers, and their opinions are what other people seek out.
  5. Do. Not. Threaten. Anyone. Ever. I don’t mean ‘I’m going to kill you’ threats (don’t make them either) but ‘If you’re mean to me, I’m never going to use my tenuous hold on the publishing industry to grant you minimal favours’ – such as giving quotes for a book cover, sending ARCs, participating in blog tours etc. Threatening makes you look pitiful, pathetic, and exposes your rather large ego.
  6. Do not, under any circumstance, enter a negative review of a book you rate highly simply to troll or otherwise engage in hostilities with the reviewer and their followers.
  7. Don’t accuse anyone of being a troll. Goodreads trolls aren’t half as bad as Facebook page, Youtube, FML, or 4Chan trolls. In comparison they are angels. The Goodreads trolls normally only come into a 1-star review to defend their 5-star book. But still, don’t accuse anyone of being a troll. Better yet, don’t engage with them at all.
  8. Don’t assume all reviewers are wannabe authors who are simply jealous they’re not published yet. Some people read because they like reading and don’t write at all.
  9. Don’t assume reviewers are not writers and say something stupid like, “Let’s see you write a book that sells millions and then you can comment!” This remark is just stupid. Just because someone is published doesn’t mean their book is any good. This is why we have reviews. Likewise, some of the best writers I’ve come across are unpublished. ‘Goodness’ does not sell books, marketing and hype does.
  10. Unless you have something positive to say, do not say anything. This should be obvious. When you’re engaging others, you don’t want to put them off checking out you and your writing by acting hostile or, for example, insulting someone. That is not to say you cannot comment on a negative review of a book you love: but you should learn how to use constructive criticism, the same kind of criticism your book should have taken before you published it. For example, do not write anything like the following.

Wow. Harsh review. You’re clearly a stupid ignorant teenage hater who needs to be disciplined by her uncaring parents.

To engage positively with others, you must respect them and their opinions. For example, the following example is appreciated one hundred times more than the former:

Although I really loved this book for these reasons, I can understand where you’re coming from and I respect your opinion as a fellow reviewer.

It’s all about brand, people. You are an online brand, and you do not want to taint your brand with negativity. You most certainly do not want your interactions to result in people marking your book ‘never-to-read’.

Does anyone have any more tips for good author behaviour?

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