Tuesday, 27 March 2012

It's All About the Knickers

Since I resurrected some of my previous writing in my last post I thought I would continue with this lazy trend today. Here's an article that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald way back in 2004. Just for the record, I remain as loyal and committed to the fight against the g-string (or thong), as ever. Please join me in my crusade.

Bring back nanna knickers

November 4, 2004

You know exactly where you can shove your G-strings, says Janine Harrison.

Most fashion trends come and go, leaving behind only a few embarrassing photos. Others wedge themselves firmly between the cracks in our lives and settle in for the long haul. The G-string is one of these unlikely fashion survivors, and I for one would like to see it ripped out of the collective consciousness once and for all.

When the G-string first nudged its way into our underwear drawers and our hearts, it seemed like a harmless enough fad. It was a little bit risque and looked great on the beautiful people in TV land. There were even a few ordinary folk who donned the G-string in their daily lives, most of them making sure that everybody around them knew about it. These were the types that loved to lift their skirts at parties and thought nothing of flashing their assets in the middle of the pub.

But then something strange happened. Previously sane people started to buy into the fad, and before long a large portion of the female population was sporting these crevice creepers. To make matters worse, the G-string was not content to remain hidden in the underworld, but insisted on poking up above the waistline of clothes, announcing its tawdry presence to all.

How did it become so powerful? How can a garment that offends all notions of comfort, decency and basic hygiene, and which only looks good on 00.001 per cent of the population, be allowed to continue its reign? In a nation that just voted John Howard back in for a fourth term, this is probably a pointless question, but still I must ask it.

Now, I don't want to come across as completely anti-G-string, because I do believe they have a place in strip clubs and Paris Hilton videos, but not on the woman bending over in front of me at Woolies.

There was a time when I put aside my misgivings and tried one out for myself, but this lapse in sanity can largely be explained by an overindulgence in Tim Tams, which meant every pair of knickers I wore ended up going the way of the G-string anyway. It took only a couple of hours of extreme discomfort for me to realise the error of my ways and make a pledge to fight this evil whenever possible.

These days, I'm content with my full-bottomed briefs and will segue gracefully into nanna knickers when the time is right.

If I had to pin down the greatest crime of the G-string, it would probably be the damage it has done to the image of these trustworthy old favourites, which are now seen as unflattering and dowdy.

In writing this I call for a return to a more enlightened era, when nanna knickers were the norm, the wedgie was a source of humiliation, not a fashion statement, and people's undergarments remained precisely that. Women in the '60s burnt their bras as a symbol of liberation and it's high time the G-string met the same fiery fate.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Chick Lit Challenge

Chick lit seems to get a lot of coverage in the news, most of it negative. Many people claim that critics are biased against popular women's genres, and that chick lit is the victim of deeply ingrained sexism. The whole debate was reignited recently when author Polly Courtney dropped her publisher HarperCollins because she thought her books were being misrepresented by the "chick lit" covers. The publisher refused to compromise so she walked out the door.

In Courtney's words:

"My writing has been shoehorned into a place that's not right for it," she said this morning. "It is commercial fiction, it is not literary, but the real issue I have is that it has been completely defined as women's fiction … Yes it is page turning, no it's not War and Peace. But it shouldn't be portrayed as chick lit."

As someone who used to rail against "chick lit' and who even had an article published on the subject in a previous incarnation  ( http://www.smh.com.au/news/heckler/glossy-fantasies-wrapped-up-in-pastel/2005/09/18/1126981942770.html ), I now find myself in the uncomfortable position of writing what could be defined as chick lit. Strangely enough I find that my opinions have not really changed.

For me the chick lit bible is still Bridget Jones' Diary, and so much that has come since is just a weak imitation. While these books were light and fluffy, they were also genuinely hilarious and I've yet to find anything that even comes close to matching the humor. I don't think there's anything wrong with books that focus on things that women enjoy like gossip, shopping, romance and sex, but I really wish they could be more original and delve a little deeper. After a while they really start to blend into one and why do so many heroines have to be obsessed with shoes?

Polly Courtney also said:

"I'm not averse to the term chick lit, but I don't think that's what my book is. The implication with chick lit is that it's about a girl wanting to meet the man of her dreams. [My books] are about social issues – this time about a woman in a lads' mag environment and the impact of media on society, and feminism."

I have to disagree with her on this point. I think it's possible to write books that appeal to the women who love chick lit, but which also explore more serious issues and have more substance to them. This is what I'm attempting to do with my novellas which tap into issues like online psychic addictions and racism, in a light-hearted, chick-lity way. Unlike Polly Courtney I have no problem with chick lit style covers these days, I just think it's high time chick lit lifted its game and earned some respect from the literary establishment. Maybe then authors like Courtney would not balk at being associated with it.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Writing in the Digital Age - Pros & Cons

There are many benefits to being a writer in the digital age, but there are also drawbacks. Below are what I consider to be the top five positive and negative aspects of being a writer today.


1. Research: All the information you could possibly want is right at your fingertips. Need to know the rectal temperature of a Madagascan hummingbird? No worries. Just google it and Bob's your uncle. Imagine what it must have been like in the 'olden days' when authors had to spend hours trawling through library books to find or confirm simple facts.

2. Email queries: Again, imagine what it was like when authors had to print out multiple copies of manuscripts and then haul them to the post office. Now all this inconvenience and expense has been done away with at the click of a mouse (apart from the few agents / publishers who refuse to accept email queries. Like the early denigrators of electricty they are patiently waiting for this ridiculous fad called the internet to run its course).

3. Online communities: How wonderful it is to find like-minded souls ready at any time of the day or night to answer your writing questions or just commiserate with you over the fact that the world has yet to recognise your genius.

4. Self-promotion: Authors are now far less dependant on publishers for promotion and they can reach their readers in a way which has never been possible before.

5. E-publishing and self-publishing: Have made the joy of authorship available to so many. Now people who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to see their words in print are free to express themselves and share their creations with the entire world.


1. Research: All the information you could possibly want is right at your fingertips. The other day I found myself googling the question "what is a good name for a town in a novel," because I just couldn't be bothered thinking one up for myself. The information superhighway is making people lazy and dulling the imagination (at least in my case).

2. Email queries: Now that it's so easy and convenient to send out multiple queries, the agony of suspense and rejection has been multiplied many times over.

3. Online communities: Why bother writing a book when you can spend hours chatting online with people about your plans to write a book?

4. Self-promotion: Authors are now far less reliant on publishers for promotion, and can reach their readers in a way which has never been possible before. Only problem is that with so many social networking sites around, self-promotion has become a full-time job and there's no time left to actually write.

5. E-publishing and self-publishing: Have made the joy of authorship available to so many. Now people who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to see their words in print are free to express themselves and share their creations with the entire world.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

A Kindle Success Story

As my first experiment with a free story published through Kindle Direct comes to a close I am pleased to say that in my opinion it was a success. My short story has been free for two days and in that time it's been downloaded almost 800 times and there are still a couple of hours to go. Compared with authors I know of who have had 10,000+ downloads of their free books, this is just a drop in the ocean, but for me it's very exciting. While I have not made a cent from it, 800 people have potentially read my story and been exposed to my name, and in terms of marketing I really couldn't have hoped for more.

I love the fact that you can monitor the downloads in real time. It's very exciting to watch that number creep up and know that somewhere out there, someone is interested in my story. I can't even imagine what it must be like to be a huge author who sells hundreds of thousands of books, I don't think my heart could take it.

I'm realistic that a lot of the people who dowloaded it probably won't even read it. I have a lot of free books sitting on my Kindle that I may never look at, but hopefully a decent proportion of those who dowloaded it will. I initially put my short story up for free to try to promote my new novel, but even if I don't sell a single copy of my novel through this experiment, I'm still glad I did it and I'll definitely be doing it again. I'm not in the writing game for money (although it would be nice!), and now that I've found how effective Kindle is in getting my stories out there, I'll definitely be using it again.

I must say I'm a bit surprised though at the huge discrepancy between downloads of a free book and one sold for 99 cents. It seems a lot of people out there only look at free books or just are not willing to take a chance on unknown self-published writers. I guess this is fair enough, but it does worry me a little that this phenomenon is driving down the price of all books. Authors will be the ones to suffer when readers aren't even willing to shell out the price of a cup of coffee for a book because there are so many available for a dollar or less. 

Speaking of Kindle success stories, who can ignore the phenomenal success of 50 Shades of Grey? This Cinderella story has rekindled (no pun intended), the hopes of all e-published & self-published authors who dream of being discovered and hitting the big time. There's been a lot of narkiness out there towards E.L James, especially from the fanfic community. Others are appalled that such a badly written book could be so successful, because clearly they think their writing is so much more deserving.

I didn't like Twilight much, and after glancing at the first few pages of this book it's not my cup of tea either, but that's my opinion. If people are buying this book then they obviously enjoy it, and that's what it comes down to in this game. Is it another indication that ebooks are erroding quality and making readers less discerning? Probably not because there have always been plenty of trashy books on the bestseller lists, and always will be. The real test of a book is its endurance, and somehow I don't think Twlight and 50 Shades of Grey will stand the test of time.

This parody is hilarious: http://www.evilreads.com/fifty-one-shades/

To return to the original subject, the highest ranking I achieved with my short story was #400 on the free kindle list for US Amazon (#60 for contemporary romance) and #335 for UK (#47 for contemporary romance). My goal with the next story is to get below #300, and one day in the distant future I hope to crack the top 1000 for paid books. Beyond that I don't even dare to dream. Keep your eyes open for Prude & Prejudice, coming soon (hopefully not followed closely by a law suit for copy right infringement LOL).

Friday, 16 March 2012

Free Short Stories

My short story Written in the Stars is now free on Amazon!

Since I'm feeling generous today, here's another freebie, which is based on my experiences as an office temp. Bizarrely I did not even realize that the main character in both stories is called Melanie.  (Not being one to toot my own horn I won't bother to tell you that this story was Highly Commended in the 2011 Inaugural Indie Writer's Festival in Australia!).

Permanently Yours

“Hi, I’m Melanie. The temp agency sent me to start the data entry job today.”

“Oh yes, we’ve been expecting you. I’m Estelle,” said the friendly young woman behind the reception desk. “Come this way and I’ll show you to your cubicle.”

The day passed quickly. The job was straightforward, the people seemed nice and there was a cake at morning tea for Tania’s birthday. Melanie had no idea who Tania was but she dutifully signed the card and scoffed down icing sugar and cream along with everyone else. The next few days passed by in a haze and by Thursday she had settled into a comfortable routine. It was not the most interesting job in the world but it would do for now, and maybe a little further down the track she might be given some additional responsibilities. Who knew, maybe this would turn out to the “the one”, the elusive job she had been searching for her whole adult life. When she found “the one” she could finally stop looking for something better and feel as though her life had some purpose.

            It was on Friday that she got her first inkling things might not be quite as straightforward as they seemed. She had emerged from the elevator in a fabulous mood because the sun was shining and the weekend was only a day away. As soon as she stepped into the office she knew immediately that something was up. No one else was wearing jeans. Not one single person. Having worked in dozens of offices across the city Melanie had assumed that casual Friday was an established institution, but apparently not here. No one said anything directly to her about her attire but Melanie noticed a few disapproving looks cast in her direction. She decided to ask her supervisor what the policy was on casual Friday.

            “Well it’s not officially banned, but it’s not officially condoned either.” Big help that was, she thought to herself as she made her way back to her desk. Since jeans were not “officially banned” on Fridays she decided to continue wearing them until otherwise instructed. Later she realized this decision might have saved her life.

            Over the next few weeks she began to notice other subtle signs that this was not a normal workplace. For starters everyone was allotted the standard thirty-minute lunch break. There was nothing unusual in this, most offices officially allowed thirty minutes for lunch. The difference here was that people actually took thirty minutes. Even worse, they actively monitored each other to make sure that no one went over time. Melanie had assumed that every sane person on the planet recognized that thirty minutes was not long enough for lunch. No one could realistically walk to the nearest sandwich bar, line up, wait for their order, eat it and walk back to the office all within thirty minutes. Every other office she had worked in operated under LET (Lunch Equivalency Time) whereby thirty minutes of real time equated to at least forty-five minutes of lunch time.

No one ever said anything directly to her about her extended lunch breaks but after her timesheet mysteriously disappeared on a couple of occasions she got the hint and began bringing leftovers from home like everyone else. She heated them up in the microwave, being very careful to cover her food so as not to assault the delicate nostrils of her fellow workers. Estelle had sent her an email when she started outlining the lunchroom rules in detail and Melanie did her best to comply with kitchen etiquette.

She had been there for just over a month when the CEO, who was based overseas, made an unexpected visit to the branch. It was a Friday morning and to Melanie’s joy he told everyone they could pack up after lunch and go home early. Melanie had returned from the lunchroom and was about to turn off her computer when she noticed that nobody else was making a move to leave.

“What’s going on?” she said to the other temp who had started a couple of weeks before her.

            Brent cast her a frightened look. “Estelle said we can’t leave.”

            “What? But the CEO told us we could.” She wasn’t sure exactly what Estelle’s role in the company was as she seemed to be involved in everything, but surely she couldn’t override the CEO? “You’re not seriously going to stay?” she said in disbelief.

            “I have to,” whispered Brent. “There’s a permanent position coming up and they’ve asked me if I’m interested. I don’t want to rock the boat.” Melanie wondered why they hadn’t asked her if she was interested in the permanent role as she walked out the door, trying to ignore the dirty look Estelle shot in her direction. She didn’t like her chances of advancing any further in the company now, but she didn’t think leaving early was a big deal either. She was only following the CEO’s instructions after all, but when she arrived on Monday morning it was clear she had made an enemy

            Estelle was waiting for her at her desk and as Melanie approached she glanced meaningfully at her watch to draw attention to the fact that Melanie was six minutes late.

            “Hi Melanie,” she said in her super nice way. “The rest of us will be doing team-building activities for most of the day so you’ll be on your own in here. It’s only for permanent staff.” Melanie noticed how she stressed the word “permanent.”

            “That’s okay,” she said, returning Estelle’s fake smile. Estelle clearly expected her to be upset she was excluded but she quite relished the prospect of having the office to herself. At precisely ten o’clock everyone filed past her desk and out the door in an orderly line, including Brent.

            “Hey, where are you going? You’re not permanent yet.” Brent didn’t answer but stared straight ahead with a glassy-eyed expression. The morning passed by pleasantly enough. Melanie finished her work, and had a cup of coffee as she read the paper online. After checking her inbox she realized no more work had been left for her. This was becoming a regular occurrence and she often sat at her desk idly while Brent was given a wide variety of tasks. She’d thought about raising it with her supervisor but he had made it abundantly clear he had a care factor of zero. To fill the time she read a couple of chapters of Twilight: Breaking Dawn then decided to go for a walk past the meeting room and maybe take a little peek to find out exactly what “team building activities” entailed.

 Meeting Room three was down a long dark corridor and as she walked towards it her footsteps echoed loudly through the building. She had expected to hear a lot of noise and laughter coming from behind the door, but it was eerily silent.

“I must have the wrong room,” she said to herself, and was about to turn away when the silence was broken by what sounded like a muffled scream. Intrigued she put her hand on the doorknob and then pulled it back in surprise. The handle was freezing cold. Something told her to turn around and go back to the office immediately, but Melanie couldn’t help herself. Slowly she turned the handle and eased the door open just a little so she could peer through the crack. The light was very dim in the room and at first she thought it was empty. It took her eyes a moment to adjust and then she stifled a scream as she took in the scene at the far end.

Everyone from the office was there and they were arranged in two circles. The outer circle consisted of her co-workers, while the inner circle was made up of management. Right in the middle of it all stood Estelle and lying on a table in front of her was Brent. He seemed to be unconscious. His head was flung back and his throat was bared. Estelle was lowering her head towards his throat when the door slipped from Melanie’s hand and made a loud creaking sound. Estelle looked up sharply. For one split second Melanie saw the exposed fangs and blood red eyes, then they were gone.

“Melanie, what are you doing here?” We’re just going through a first aid refresher. Brent volunteered to be our victim.” Everyone laughed in unison. “Now that you’re here you might as well join us.”

“No thanks,” said Melanie, stumbling as she backed out the door and bolted along the corridor. She didn’t wait around till the end of the day to put in her notice, but before she left she took a long lunch break, heating up her leftover dinner in the microwave. She didn’t cover it over but let the fumes pervade the entire office. As she walked out the door for the last time she gave thanks that she’d gone extra heavy on the garlic the night before.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Downton Abbey: Really All that?

I've heard a lot about this series, all of it good, but it's taken me a while to jump on the Downton Abbey train. Last night I finally got around to watching the first series. Did it live up to all the hype? Absolutely.

There's much to like about this show. The characters are all very real, and I love the fact that the family of the manor are not portrayed as monsters or caricatures. Their dilemmas and problems are shown sympathetically, but they are not seen as more serious or important than those of the staff. The lives of those living upstairs and downstairs are giving equal weight, and we see life from both perspectives, which is very refreshing.

Setting the series just before the first world war was a stroke of genius. It was such a tumultous time with so many changes that it provides many opportunities for drama and humor.  When the characters talk about this new fangled thing called electricity that is just being introduced into the houses of the rich it really drives home to you how much the world has changed in such a short time. Why on earth would anyone want electricity in the kitchen, of all places, they ask. It's hard to believe that people once thought electricity was just a passing fad that would quickly disappear. Given the effects of global warming that are becoming increasingly apparent, it might have been a good thing if it did!

The most amusing character in the series is undoubtedly the Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith who was born for this role. (So glad they didn't get Gillian Anderson to play her in a bad wig hehehehehe). The Countess of Grantham has many great lines. Here's a selection of some of her best.

If you haven't yet jumped on the train to Downton Abbey I suggest you do so as soon as possible. This is one series you don't want to miss.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Reality TV: Love It or Loathe It?

Pleasure Island was officially released today! As the book is set on a reality tv show, I thought I would dedicate this entry to the subject of reality television.

According to the editor's notes for Pleasure Island, the novel will be enjoyed by those 'who both love and loathe reality tv.' This was a perceptive comment because it really sums up my attitude towards reality shows. I can still remember the excitement surrounding the first series of Big Brother in Australia, which seemed at the time like a bold new social experiment. Who can forget Sarah Maree's bum dance and Peter and Christina's dancing doona? Back then there weren't so many stupid stunts and games, and the contestants spent a lot of time just sitting around talking.

I could really relate to this scenario because as a student I lived in a share house for a year where each of the six bedrooms were rented out separately. My friend had lived in the house for months on her own, and I moved in expecting it just to be the two of us, but within a couple of weeks all six rooms were rented out and we were living with four complete strangers (one of whom was insane, and was later arrested for fraud, and carted off by the police - but that's another story!). At the time my part-time study load was about 4 hours a week, and the other students had either dropped out altogether or just didn't bother to go to classes. We had no money and huge amounts of time on our hands, so like the Big Brother contestants, we spent much of our time just hanging around the house together.

What I loved about the first Big Brother was the fact that it really reflected the true dynamics of a share house. It was fun watching the personality clashes and fights over the dishes, and listening to the inane and sometimes hilarious conversations people have when their stuck with each other for long periods of time. The next series lost some of this authenticity, and I stopped watching after the third series. The contestants became attention-seekers and wannabes, and the stunts grew stupider each year (in one of the last episodes I saw they were forced to eat testicles for a challenge).

I set Pleasure Island on a reality show because I wanted to try to capture some of the charm of the original series of Big Brother. Jack and Allie are sent to a deserted island, where they have no contact with the outside world and no games or stunts to distract them. They must spend 14 hours a day together, and even though they both want to be seen in the best possible light by the audience, they can't help but reveal their true characters.

Most reality shows are so manufactured now that they can in no way be called 'reality.' Many of them are based on competitions, like Project Runway or the Biggest Loser, or they are scripted, but pretend they're not, like the Kardashian's. I'd like to see some more 'fly-on-the-wall' style reality shows, because for me these are the most fascinating. The Family (ABC, Australia) is a good example of a show that took the old-fashioned approach and it gives me hope that good quality shows will continue to be produced. With any luck reality tv might not lose touch with reality altogether!



Sunday, 11 March 2012

Great Expectations Dashed

I'm a huge fan of Charles Dickens and I was very excited to hear that the BBC had made a new adaptation of Great Expectations (I love this book so much I actually refer to it several times in my new novel Pleasure Island). When I saw the previews my hopes were raised even higher. There's no denying it looks fantastic. The first scenes when Pip meets Magwich and then returns to his poverty stricken hut on the edge of the marshes only added to my expectations, and then it all came to a grinding halt.

Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham? Give me a break. The woman is 43 years old, and looks even younger. White wigs and make-up cannot hide this fact. Miss Havisham is supposed to be a dried-up, bitter old hag.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Gillian Anderson's, and I especially loved her in the House of Mirth, but she is not right for this role. She looks ethereal rather than decaying, and her sing song voice only adds to this impression. Here's an article on the subject which shows images of previous Miss Havishams, who were much closer to Dicken's portrayal.


What were the BBC thinking casting Andereson? There must be so many older actresses out there who would have given their eye teeth for a meaty role like this. Is this another example of our youth-obsessed culture where even a character like Miss Havisham must be attractive?

Miss Havisham's role was unfortunately not the only one that was miscast. At the other end of the scale Vanessa Kirby looks too old to be Pip's love interest. She is another fine actress, and I know she's meant to be older than Pip in the book. In reality she's only five years older than him, but she just isn't right for the role of Estella.

These problems with casting mar what is otherwise a very fine production. I'd still recommend it, just don't allow your expectations to become too great.

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Friday, 9 March 2012

Kindle Direct, You're Killing Me

Yesterday I took my first tentative step into the world of self-publishing through Kindle Direct with my short story Written In the Stars. It was an experience that probably would have been a lot easier if I hadn't tried to research it first.

Being the girly swot that I am I took it upon myself to find out as much as I could before I got started. What I read really scared the bejesus out of me. There was all this information about converting word documents into html code that had me diving for the drinks cabinet and warning my other half that I would probably be needing his help very soon. When I actually got around to checking out Kindle Direct itself,  it was extemely easy and simple to use. It's actually easier than creating a blog...except for one minor thing - indentation.

OMG. The Kindle Direct instructions state that every first line in a paragraph is automatically indented, and if you want to indent other lines, you must do it manually and not through the tab key. I tried it their way, but when I previewed my book some lines were indented and other were not, meaning I had to go back and fix all the errors...Only problem was after I fixed them, when I previewed the new version other lines were not indented. The most bizarre thing of all was that when I scrolled back up a page I'd already checked, different lines were now indented and other weren't. After a couple of hours of this I was at my wits end!

Thank god you can preview and edit books as many times as you need to before publishing, and even after publishing it's extremely easy to take books down and re-edit them. I think I must have hit a record for the number of times I previewed my book.

To cut a long story short, I simply took out all idents, justified the text to the left and added double spacing between paragraphs. It worked and Kindle Direct DID NOT indent every first line in a paragraph. I actually think it looks quite good.  If you'd like to shell out a whopping 99 cents you can take a look for yourself, and possibly read my short story while you're at it!


In future I'm probably going to stick to this format because it will save me a lot of headaches, unless someone has got some advice about how to overcome this glitch in Kindle Direct. I notice many other ebooks have no problem with indentation, so there's a (remote) possibility the problem is with the user!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I’ve started this blog to coincide with the release of my book Pleasure Island which is a contemporary romance published by Siren Bookstrand, due out on the 13th March. I just finished looking at the final edits today and now it’s just a matter of waiting for it to be released. It’s all very exciting!
This is my second published novel. My first book Shadows of Yesterday which is a romantic suspense was released by Breathless Press in November 2011. As you can probably tell, I’m still finding my feet as an author and trying different genres to see what works for me. Both novels were enjoyable to write for different reasons and the publishing process had been very smooth and stress-free with both publishers.
As a newbie author I really had no idea of what to expect, and here are some things that have surprised me:

·         How much input I have had into editing. I really thought that an editor would snatch my baby from my hands and that I’d have very little input into the changes that were made. Maybe it’s just the two great publishers I’ve worked with, but I’ve had approval over everything, right down to commas and full-stops. All suggestions for improvements have been precisely that. – suggestions - which I have not felt pressured to accept. This has been a very nice surprise, although the approval for every single extra full-stop can get a bit much!
·         Along the same lines, I was pleasantly surprised at how much input I’ve had into cover design. Once again I thought this would be out of my hands but both my covers have been pretty much exactly what I asked for. This has been great for me as I absolutely love planning covers. I’ve read about authors with big publishing houses who have been really disappointed with the way their books have been marketed through their cover art, but they’ve been powerless to do anything about it. I’m guessing this level of involvement must only be possible with smaller publishers.

·         How hard it is to write blurbs. I thought query writing was painful enough, but blurbs are a nightmare. When you know the blurb is one of the things that will make or break your book it really puts the pressure on. How many times have you looked at a book that appeals to you only to be turned off by the blurb? You really only have one chance to grab the reader and very few words to do it in.

·         How much effort authors have to put into marketing themselves. I just assumed that you wrote a book, it got published and you moved onto the next book. Maybe in the old days when publishers did most of the marketing it worked like that, but now authors have to be ready to go into cyberspace and really beat their own drum. I’m not experienced at self-promotion but for the sake of my books, I am now pulling on my boots and venturing into this brave new world with my blog (and website which is also on the way). I hope you will accompany me on my journey!