Writing Lessons

The ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) results for Round 2 have been announced. Readers of this blog may remember that last month I was excited to announce that my novel ‘Red Sky’ passed through Round 1. Sadly it did not pass Round 2. It is of course, very disappointing, but as part of the ‘award’ of passing Round 1, I received two reviews on the first few chapters.

My initial thoughts: “Ouch.”

While the reviewers had some valid points, which I can appreciate now I’ve had a few days to think about them, the comments of one reviewer really stung. It felt she/he had nothing positive to say, with the one exception – that I had no spelling/grammar mistakes. (And I must give out a great big thanks to my beta readers for helping with this! Kelly, Aislinn, LaVerne, Becky (did I miss anyone?) You all did such a fantastic job, and I really appreciate your hard work!).

The second reviewer has more positives to say – she/he liked the main character – Morgan, and felt the novel was paced well. She/he also called it a fun and jaunty twist on a pirate adventure tale.

While in places the reviewers clashed in their opinions, their comments have given me plenty of guidance on how to improve my novel. Their feedback is invaluable – and best of all, it was free.

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Read an E-Book Week 3-9 March 2013

I recently learnt that this week is “Read an E-Book Week”. Forgive me for being a few days behind the times (it started on Sunday!), I’ve had a busy couple of days editing some new short stories, and had an amazing afternoon’s writing – just under 3000 words in about 2 hours. I’m really excited about this story, but I need to put it aside for a while before I go back to polish it, I think I read it 3 times over once it was done, tweaking it here and there, but to see the mistakes properly it needs a good few days distance.

But I digress.

So – Read an E-book Week… do you own an e-reader? Do you read e-books? Personally I’m still not 100% convinced on the e-book front. They have batteries that run out, they can stop working for no apparent reason (speaking from anecdotal evidence), and if you drop them in the bath they’re completely buggered – whereas a book can still be saved with a little tlc and a heater. (Now I know there are ways to protect your e-reader if you want to read in the bath, like putting the ¬†e-reader in a ziploc bag, so perhaps the latter is more an excuse, but still, you get my point!)

I know there are some good points, and my favourite would have to be the sheer number of books that will fit on one handheld device Р to have access to so many books at the push of a button would just be incredible, but for me, that one positive does not outweigh the negatives.

So what got me reading e-books (yes, despite my previous ranting, I do read e-books), well it was the stories. There are some great stories out there, that are only available in e-book form. You want some examples? Here’s three:

(And now let me shamelessly plug my writing buddies!)

LaVerne Clark is a New Zealand author who has two romance novella’s available only in e-book form: Affinity, and The Guardian of the Jewel. They are available from LaVerne’s author page, at¬†The Wild Rose Press.

Kelly Matsuura is an Australian living in Japan, who has published her own e-book “Stirring Winds”, an anthology of Asian Literature on the theme of significant life moments, and contains one of my favourite stories of lost love – The Smell of Peaches. Stirring Winds is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

So if you’ve been hesitant to try out this new (or not so new for some) e-book thing, this is the week to give it ago – you don’t need a device, you can read them on your computer, or on your smart-phone (I have a kindle app on my android). Try out an e-book and support some great emerging authors. And if you’re a little short on cash, there are plenty of free e-books out there too.

And if you are already a fan of the e-book – what’s your favourite?

Belated Celebrations

January and the beginning of February was an interesting time for me, with some news that I thought I was coping quite well with, though in hindsight perhaps I was not… but all’s good now (I think), and there were a few good things that happened that I want to mention:

First, myself and two of my writing buddies: Aislinn Batstone and Kelly Matsuura, were published in the Independent Author Index’s Short Story Compilation, volume 2¬†on 31 Dec 2012 (Aussie time). I did start to read this, but only got a few stories through before life was temporarily turned upside down. I can say, that the stories I read so far are incredibly diverse – from writing style, to topic. Some I loved, some I wasn’t so impressed with, but even so I’m really looking forward to getting back into it again and reading the rest of the stories. The compilation is available for sale in ebook form from Amazon. ¬†With stories to suit every taste, I think it’s worth the low price of $2.99!

The second bit of good news is another compilation! Those same ladies from my writing group and I were published in The Flashing Type, Issue 1: 50 Stories from freeflashfiction.com. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember that I had a flash fiction fantasy “One” published at Free Flash Fiction around the middle of last year. That story is now available in the compilation, which is available for an even lower price of 99 cents! This is one I have not yet had a chance to read, but I’m looking forward to getting to it soon.

Also, I submitted a query for my novella – A Faery Dream, to The Wild Rose Press, and the full manuscript was requested. Confirmation that I can write a decent query lol!

I was lucky enough to win a critique in early January by Joanne Wadsworth. She looked over the first 4 pages of my story, Red Sky. If you remember (did I tell you?) I entered this into the Seizure novella comp back in November, and sadly it wasn’t chosen. However Joanne gave me some brilliant feedback. She had some very encouraging words on my writing, and pointed out where I could tighten the text. Every so often Joanne offers these critiques as prizes on her blog, and she has some great posts on writing – so go follow her!!

And the last piece of good news, is that I entered Red Sky, into ABNA РThe Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and it passed through first round! It was selected, along with 1999 others, from a total of 10,000 novels! That is amazing and I am so excited and nervous.  This is more confirmation on my ability to pitch, as it was the pitch that was judged in this round. Second Round is announced on 12th March (USA time Р13th March over here in Aus), and judges an excerpt of the story Рup to the first 5000 words. I still have an anxious few weeks to wait, though I have a few old stories to edit, and new ideas to explore Рso plenty to keep me occupied!