The years roll past, and take our work with them - and our joys, sorrows, successes and failures. Everything passes, and hardly leaves a trace. Still, our work matters, at least for a while. Here, some ANZauthors sum up what 2011 has meant to them, in terms of writing. Enjoy the read.
This year has been very busy. I’ve written four novels, one more than usual, which has been a bit of a push! I started with The Trader’s Sister which comes out early next year, #2 in the Traders series, set in Singapore and Australia in the 1860s. It continues the story of Bram Deagan and his family. Fascinating period to research.
‘Winds of Change’ is a modern novel about a woman looking for the child her family made her give away for adoption when she was younger. And I’ve just finished ‘Yew Tree Gardens’ #3 in the Wiltshire Girls series, set in 1910-12. I also tried my hand at a different sort of story, at the suggestion of a publisher and don’t yet know if it’ll be commercial. I enjoyed writing something different and learning new techniques.
Finally, I put together ‘Short and Sweet’, a collection of the romantic short stories I’ve had published over the years, usually in women’s magazines.
My husband has published some out of print books electronically and these have continued to sell very nicely, especially in the UK. One of the things I’ve loved is reader emails. I’ve had more than two a day on average. Keeps me busy replying.
Overall, I’m trying to adjust to rapidly changing times. This includes doing more PR, which is time consuming. I don’t do my own blog, but I do guest blogs and interviews when invited. None of us novelists or publishers quite know where we’re going, but as long as I can continue to produce stories in some format or other, I’ll be happy.
You publish a
book and dream about book sales soaring, as it gathers acclaim to become an international
best seller. You dream it will be one day made into a movie. Or maybe your book gets featured on the
Sunrise Show or as a Women’s Weekly Great Read. That will boost sales. While that
reaction would be great, nothing beats the response of hearing someone loved
your book. Recently
at a party a woman came up to me and said, ‘I’ve started reading your book.’
They were given it as a gift by one of my most loyal fans. ‘I love it and can’t
wait to get back to it. It is so atmospheric I feel I am there and I love the
characters.’ As she went on to talk more it became obvious she was captivated
by the story. This is what every book needs most - people who love a story. It’s
great when a reader gets what you’re doing and relates to the place or
characters or emotions. Even
more important is that they tell others how great it is. Word of mouth is the
best recommendation. Another
woman said to me, ‘When I wasn’t reading Streets
on a Map, I was thinking about the characters.’ That person told me she didn’t
like Joel, Abby’s husband. She thought him selfish. Those of you who have read Streets on a Map: I’ll let you judge whether
she is right. Reviews
can be a joy or a problem for writers. All of the reviews of Streets on a Map have been positive, even
glowingly so. Here is a short sample of some reviews of Streets on a Map.
You publish a book and dream about book sales soaring, as it gathers acclaim to become an international best seller. You dream it will be one day made into a movie. Or maybe your book gets featured on the Sunrise Show or as a Women’s Weekly Great Read. That will boost sales.
While that reaction would be great, nothing beats the response of hearing someone loved your book. Recently at a party a woman came up to me and said, ‘I’ve started reading your book.’ They were given it as a gift by one of my most loyal fans. ‘I love it and can’t wait to get back to it. It is so atmospheric I feel I am there and I love the characters.’ As she went on to talk more it became obvious she was captivated by the story. This is what every book needs most - people who love a story. It’s great when a reader gets what you’re doing and relates to the place or characters or emotions.
Even more important is that they tell others how great it is. Word of mouth is the best recommendation. Another woman said to me, ‘When I wasn’t reading Streets on a Map, I was thinking about the characters.’ That person told me she didn’t like Joel, Abby’s husband. She thought him selfish. Those of you who have read Streets on a Map: I’ll let you judge whether she is right.
Reviews can be a joy or a problem for writers. All of the reviews of Streets on a Map have been positive, even glowingly so. Here is a short sample of some reviews of Streets on a Map.
Writing? What’s that? Once it was a most vital part of my life. The day began with word pictures on my mind, and ended with clicking the computer ‘off’ button. I wove stories over the ironing, had good ideas in the bath, and even better ones the moment I realized I had to do something about dinner, and quickly.
But 2011 brought change. 2011 will forever be a year when (wo)man proposed and God/fate disposed.
This has been the year of other things that matter, and my writing has slipped right off the radar. A broken foot and months on crutches, with consequent hip problems, have delivered lessons in patience. The slow farewelling of a dear daughter-in-law succumbing to cancer has shadowed everything else. I have turned the computer on several times, looked at the current WIP, and turned it off again.
Time heals, they say. And I know it’s true. But time moves at relative speeds – relative to what is happening in the moment. Now, at last, it’s picking up the pace. Now it’s time for looking ahead to the end of 2011 and a fresh, new, unsullied year on the horizon. May it be good one for us all.
It has been a big year for me as a writer. My second novel was released by BeWrite Books in March, and very soon afterwards I independently published my entire backlist of work, whose rights returned to me a few years ago. When Jacobyte Books folded in 2005, I had no idea the publishing industry would change enough – and provide avenues and facilities enough – for any writer to be able to publish directly to an audience of readers. I did not think my short fiction would ever again see the light of day.
None of us had any idea even as recently as 24 months ago that we would all be able to benefit from doing things ourselves. It’s easy, it’s fast, and one can reap rewards almost instantly. I took three weeks off my freelance editing work and stayed up nights, learning more with each volume I produced. I can now say I can do it – and with a measure of ease!
More than a dozen titles have hit the ether, and most are selling to some extent. The satisfaction, however, stems from something other than numbers on a sales sheet. It’s been a year of big events, where books are concerned – the acceptance of Camera Obscura, my third novel, by BeWrite, with release planned for later in 2012, was another bit of good news. I wonder what the year ahead will bring – no one knows the direction publishing will take: few can predict the vagaries of this crazy industry.
Whatever it does pull our way, I wish all fellow writers a wonderful year of successes and learning.
2011 has been a year of effort, expense and commitment in my field of writing; a do-or-die year where budget and excuses were put aside as I tried every angle of approach to furthering awareness of my fiction. The website has had a complete revamp. I learned how to make book trailers and posted six on my website to add music and colourful images to the texts. I tried Google Adwords (plenty of visitors, no sales, waste of money.)
A new book - The Last Party - was produced as an e-book and printed version through Createspace. I sent a group of novels to the Frankfurt Book Fair, hoping to attract translators or wider distribution. I joined an online networking group. I even had someone look at one title with the possibility of turning it into a film script.
While some of these projects are still out with the jury, the tangible outcome of all this effort has been mixed. So far, my sales have not escalated at all and it would be easy to feel discouraged. However, I think the notable success was discovering the speed and ease with which a good designer can produce a new book for me, and I am already well into the editing of a longer text for 2012.
The best of 2011 has been a growing accord with readers and with the members of ANZ Authors. Unsolicited endorsements have lifted my spirits and growing friendships remind me that writing has heart-warming rewards.
The 2011 writing highlight for me was the release of my first full-length children’s novel, Mad Dad for Sale. This quirky tale about a kid who decides to sell his dad through an ad in the local paper was the realisation of a personal goal. I’d had four picture books plus a short chapter book and many short stories and poems for children and adults published over the years but hadn’t managed to get a novel accepted. The revision process was interesting because I was asked to double the length of the original 17,000-word manuscript.
I didn’t know if I could do it but of course agreed without hesitation. The timing was terrible because my much-loved father was dying of cancer but somehow the new version came together beautifully and the publisher was happy. So was I - my only disappointment when the book was finally released was not having Dad there to share my success. I haven’t been offered any book contracts during 2011 but was pleased to sell several stories and poems to a leading children’s magazine. It’s also been my first full year as a “retiree” after giving up journalism and I love having the time to tell the stories I want to tell.
The year 2011 saw the release of my novel, Haunting Desires, by Ellora’s Cave. I’m thrilled because it’s the original novel starring Stacey Christian and Peter Mansfield as amateur sleuths and paranormal investigators. These two characters unravel further ghostly stories in the novellas Ghosts of Auld Lang Syne (in the book Enchanted Holidays) and ‘Neath Hallowed Halls and Ivied Walls (in the book One Touch Beyond). As the series progresses, so do their feelings for each other.
The anthology, Wet, was released which includes my erotic novella Jemimah’s Genie. I write erotica under the pseudonym, Ainsley Abbott.
2011 was also a year that saw our Labrador Retriever breeding take further steps forward. Our business, Jamareine Labradors, produced a lovely litter of nine chocolate labs. What a wonderful feeling. Although breeding good, sound Labradors is not easy or inexpensive, it is very rewarding emotionally. SEDA (Seeing Eye Dogs of Australia) has contacted us for puppies in the future. That in itself gives us confidence that we are doing everything right in breeding our lines for temperament.
My daughter announced her engagement this year. She will be married in October 2012. This will be a new experience fraught with joy, nostalgia and much love.
I’d like to thank all my faithful readers and fans for their continued support and kindness, even though my writing production has not been prolific due to a variety of circumstances. Sarah’s Surrender (the sequel to the erotic civil war novel, Catey’s Capture) is half finished. Here’s hoping it will see completion in 2012.
Life may never be predictable but it is always interesting. Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful and productive 2012.
In retrospect, 2011 has been a reasonably fruitful year for me. In the early months, I put up all my backlist novels up on both Amazon Kindle and Smashwords as ebooks and they are small but steady sellers.
My latest modern romance, Wombat Creek was released as a My Weekly Pocket Novel in the UK in July. "A new pretty girl has taken over the farm - how long before her simple lifestyle has everyone in a flutter - and Ethan's heart in a spin? Set in the lush pastoral country and stud merino sheep flocks of Western Victoria, Ethan Bourke of Karingal Park station and single mother, Summer Dalton, who inherits her grandfather's property nearby, initially clash. Wombat Creek is the journey of two people's longing to learn from the past and create a better future for themselves, together."
I have just signed a contract and sold Wombat Creek to be available as a Linford Romance in large print in 2012. Publication date to be advised.
My current work-in-progress is an Australian historical saga, fully plotted with the first draft half written. I hope to complete it over summer and in 2012 begin my next project - a romance trilogy.
I have redone both my website and blog to be simpler, and am now a member of The Pocketeers blog for authors of People's Friend and My Weekly Pocket Novels.
I have learned over the years that it is a mistake to judge one's writing life and production against that of fellow authors. It is accomplished by regular and steady output, the reward measured from within yourself and your expectations of your own achievements.
Despite major surgery early in the year, 2011 has been full of adventure. I have enjoyed working with Rowena Evans (illustrator) to finalise the first in a series of five children's books. Brumbies (my second novel with IFWG Publishing) was released on November 1. I have been on a steep learning curve of newspaper and radio interviews, organising a book launch and creating promotional material.
This has been a year of coming to grips with social media, joining social networking sites such as Facebook, and learning about blogs. Despite not having my own, I have posted many items on the Australian Writers Forum.
During the year I have become a regular contributor to a number of horse magazines such as Horsewyse and Arabian Horse News (receiving, in return, many pages of advertising for the books) and continue to have short animal stories published in the UK by Indigo Dreams Press.
I've drafted books two and three in the children's series, Brumbies in the Snow and Brumbies in the Mist. Becoming mobile again has enabled me to finalise plans for a year-long trip to the Kimberleys for 2012. This will hopefully provide ideas and a sense of place for book four, Brumbies in the Outback. The most important thing for me in 2011 was accepting that I am a writer. It is no longer a hobby – it is what I do, what I am.