How this Author got started…plus my best release yet…

sentinel-rising-release-party

It struck me recently that while we’ve been carrying on this merry dance, I’m not sure if my readers know of the journey (an oft used phrased but relevant here) and how I got here.

So to that end, here are some Q and As sent to my new Virtual Assistant/Author PA.

Q1. what are you working on now?
A. Shikhari Connection, book two in the Reardon Files series. I’m excited about this one because it delves more into the paranormal, and I’ve created a new world of my own creation “The Etherworld” where the two characters me (and based on feedback) and my readers love, Gypsy and Connor battle supernatural creatures to save the life of Renee, Gypsy’s niece. I think I’m finally ready to take on the more fantasy side of urban fantasy for this one. I was originally fascinated by beings that could be either guides or hunters between worlds, depending on the being. I did some research and found the ancient Indian word “Shikhari” for a hunter or guide, used usually when hunting animals

Q2. when will your next book be out?
A. Ask me that when I’m not exhausted from a full-time business, three children, a busy writing business and promoting and editing like the wind on Sentinel Rising which I hope will be my most successful release yet. Seriously though, I hope it will be sooner rather than later, although while I’m editing and promoting there seems to be little left in the tank to write, brain dead takes over. I’m hoping for Feb or March 2017 for a complete first draft when I’ll put it up on pre-order and stress myself out with deadlines yet again 

Q3. Where do you get your inspiration?
A. Not sure to be honest. I’ve always had an active imagination and my mum tells me I was reading at 18 months which sounds wild to me. I very much agree with the comment from my author idol, Stephen King. He says that ideas are like a sieve, the sand goes through the sieve but the good ideas that stick around become a novel. That’s exactly how it happens for me, I know this because my first novel I gave up on and didn’t finish, the idea didn’t stick around long enough to sustain my interest to finish it, so I figured readers would be bored too. Thank goodness that title never saw the light of day. Some of the best ideas happen while I’m not writing, especially when I’m either in the shower or doing housework. Don’t think that means I’m going to do either of those things more though okay?

Q4. Do you write full time or have a day job?
A. I wish I wrote full time but I have a very busy day job, so my hobbies are pretty much sleeping and reading, in that order sometimes. Like many authors, I dream of earning enough from author royalties that I can write books a lot faster than I do now. Writing supernatural suspense thrillers is my favourite kind of playtime.

Q5. how long did it take you to write the book?
A. This one (Sentinel Rising) took me a bit longer than the other four. I spent 4-6 times longer plotting this one out as its more of a mystery where the bad guy isn’t revealed to the end, (I read a lot of mysteries and crime books) which was a lot trickier, but I wanted to give it a go. First draft took me six months off and on, as looking back I think I doubted myself a bit more due to a slight shift in genre and viewpoint. I’m confident the extra time spent means for a better book though. The reviews will tell me if my confidence was misplaced.

Q6. What inspired you to write it?
A. I really wanted Connor Reardon to have his own series. It felt at times in series 1 that he was stifled in Gypsy’s shadow, and I wanted him to break out on his own for the first book of his own series, and he’s definitely done that. I love mystery novels, and love the suspense, so wanted to try that with my own brand of supernatural/psychic/awesome abilities thrown in, so this was my first go at that. I’m proud of finishing it, if truth be told.

Q7. what was the hardest part about writing it?
Writing from Connor’s point of view, a man, and also not switching viewpoints. All of the earlier books were told in multiple viewpoints and some in first person. For this title, I wanted to write in a similar style to some of my favourite authors namely Michael Connelly, Ray Bradbury and Ian Rankin and in the process hopefully entice some blokes to read my books! I’m not sure if I’ve succeeded in understand and writing from a male private investigator/ex cops point of view, hopefully once some men read it they’ll let me know.

Q8. how long have you been writing?
A. As long as I can remember. My first ‘published’ title in the strictest sense of the word happened in primary school at the age of 7. I named it ‘the Owl that couldn’t Twit Twoo’ I couldn’t remember the word for Hoot but now I remember I hadn’t come across that word in any books at that age. Then I took a long time off due to being told by a parent that I’d starve if I became a writer so didn’t start my own copy writing business until my first child was born in 1998. In 2013 I wrote my first non-fiction book, as writing fiction and baring my soul was still too scary. I tried a novel in 2013, but didn’t finish it (crappy idea that didn’t have enough juice to carry me through to completion) but in 2014, got together with a friend, and the idea for Gypsy Hunted (which started as a short story) got me through 63,000 of my first novel. Woo hoo! I haven’t looked back from there.
Q9. do you listen to music when you write? if so what?
A. Occasionally although I get distracted by lyrics when I’m writing words, the two opposing forces of words clash and mingle and interrupt my flow. The Lord of the Rings sound tracks, or another one called “Where civilization lay” is inspiring too.

Q10. what snack do you eat while writing?
A. Salt and vinegar pringles or Pork Krackles in a pack, sold at my local Woolies store, but they discontinued the line and stopped selling them recently. If I had the time or the inclination, I’d start an online petition to get them back!

Q11. do you have a playlist for you book?
A. Yes, for series one it’s on you tube and my blog (search for Crime fiction playlist Andrea drew). Each song applies to a scene from each of those books that stood out to me. My latest favourite is Black Betty by Spider Bait as in this book I loved the idea of Connor being a bit more edgy, he was just so well behaved in the first series. So, he traded in his Australian Ford Falcon, his “company” car as a detective, and bought a hotted up muscle car, a black 1970s Australian charger. What a beast. Usually I prefer music with no lyrics when I’m writing so film and music soundtracks, but if I’m writing an emotional scene ‘The Pretender’ by the Foo Fighters always fires me up.
Q12. who did you base your characters after?
A. They start as my ideal character with some personality trait or element I love. For example, with Gypsy I wrote the abilities I wish I had, in a situation where she raced against the clock to find a killer and save her own life. CoBuy Sentinel Rising herennor of course was and is the ideal man, but I’ve written him for five books now and he’s asserted himself and become his own person now. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing about these characters, they are so dear to me and almost as real and dear to me as my own family, embarrassing as that might be to admit. Sometimes I remember the scenes in my book so much, and get lost in there, that I forget about real life, and don’t remember what was happening at the time I wrote them, only the life I lived through my books!

Results from first kindle countdown promotion – A success? Yes….

1st 2nd and 3rd place after 60 hours kindle countdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, deep breath. I’m going to digest it all and report on the five day countdown deal that was. I had my first ever kindle countdown deal from 15th to 20th December 2014 for my (also a first) fiction title Gypsy Hunted. If you read my previous post you’ll see I invested heavily in paid promotion from a number of sites at a cost of around $180. Did I make my money back, I’m happy to say yes I did.  Here’s how the book was ranking before the promotion:ranking prior to first kindle countdown deal

As I’m based in Melbourne I went to sleep the first night dreaming of making the top 100 best seller list the next morning.  As my book started with a ranking of #113,000 and was selling maybe 7 copies a week tops, I think I was living in la la land there.

I was still shocked to wake up and found only 10 people had bought it at 0.99 cents though:

That first day I sold around 30 books, around 5 of them KU (kindle unlimited borrows)

I was so excited at the jump in ranking I took screen shots as I went so here is a runnning tally of progress in pictures.  Note; 80% of the promotion websites sent out their emails to readers on the 15th.  Two websites, Digital Books Today and Ebook lister did so on the 16th.  I’m still unsure whether it is those two websites that got such big numbers on the second day (16th) or whether this was a follow on snowball effect from the day before.16 hours after countdown deal begannumber 5 in psychic mysteries

hour 20 after kindle promotion

after 18 hours of kindle countdownafter 44 hours kindle countdown48 hours after kindle countdown launchNO1 in psychic mysteries

So would I consider it a success?  Definitely.  I sold 263 books over 6 days.  Compared to my pre countdown deal average of of less than 1 book sale a day that’s over 250 people that now have my book.

Currently the book is ranking around the #14,000 rank mark and selling 8 books per day.  Of course that will decrease over time, but considering I made back the costs of the promotion and then some, I’m very happy with the promotion overall.

Literary agents and Amazon pre-orders

archway image for gypsy hunted coverI’m sorry readers I know it’s been a while since I posted. It’s been nearly two months which feels like a lifetime ago.  What’s happened since then and why the absence?  Well, primarily commercial work (I write copy as well as professional resumes and cover letters and have done for many years now) combined with three children (6,9 and 16) and plugging away at my manuscript.

Why so long?  (Maybe it hasn’t been that long in the scheme of things but it sure feels like it from where I’m sitting)

I’ve been editing and finalising Gypsy Hunted my first novel/fiction title.  What that means is email exchanges with my US based editor Therese Arkenberg, I send her 10-20K words and it comes back with changes, some comments.  Things like “Include an action beat here” or “Connor sighs again.  Is he human or is he eey-ore?”

That’s taken time.  As has writing the final scenes.  The scenes were already written but after collaborating with my editor, we realised that there wasn’t enough of the psychic factor in the ending, after all Gypsy Hunted is a psychic suspense thriller.

So now after what feels like a mountain of writing and editing, it is done and stands at 61,000 words.  I am currently checking it for typos and giving the manuscript its 423rd read through 🙂

On the literary agent front, an agent has asked for a copy of the full manuscript, which was an unexpected surprise, so watch this space for announcements.  If there’s no announcement then I guess you know this was yet another rejection as none of us like to broadcast them.  Do we?

A couple of weeks ago Amazon quietly notified me of the brand spanking  new pre-order function brand spanking new woohoo!  This means us self published independent authors can sell copies from amazon pre-release.

I loaded up my cover, description and a draft manuscript and it went live to the amazon store on 2 September.  Release day is Oct 28 2014

You can buy Gypsy Hunted for 99 cents prior to release day here

So far it’s ranked nicely selling around 25 copies in as many days.  Will be interesting to see what happens on release day and whether I’ll get a surge in amazon ranking or it will remain the same.

If I don’t blog again before release day, I’ll talk to you all again on Oct 28!