Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This is a very interesting time in the publishing world and one comment I get, that keeps cropping up, has got me wondering how it will sort itself out, if, indeed, it can.

Up until very recently, it was costly to get your work self-published and most authors relied on getting a publishing deal with a traditional publisher. But along came the Kindle and all that changed. In the past few years digital books have become more popular and e-readers are selling like hotcakes.

If you are an author, living in the US, you can upload your book to Kindle and Nook et al. and you can get your work out there for virtually no cost at all. But, until last year your work would only be available in the US.

Then came the introduction of Kindle to the UK and now Germany, and soon to be many other countries, I'm sure. Also, Kindle have now made it possible for international authors to upload their work.

The thing that has sparked this post are the comments that are recurring on my UK reviews, among others. I find myself in the slightly more unusual situation because I am a Brit living in the US for 10 years now. I have adopted the US language, basically because it is easier to use US words than to be constantly explaining what I mean. ie. Jumper in UK = Sweater in US. Trousers in UK = Pants in US (Pants in UK = underwear, or something that is not very good ie. 'his writing is pants', see how confusing this can get?). So, whilst writing, I try and keep my language as generic as possible. I don't want to lose my Brit side but want my US readers to understand me, too.

My stories are set in England, where I grew up, but they were originally written for an American audience because, at the time, I had no way of getting them to a UK audience. Last November that all changed when Kindle was launched in the UK.

Now, when you upload a book to Kindle you have the option to distribute it to every country that has the Kindle, and why wouldn't you? This brings me back to the subject at hand.

I am receiving comments like "Loved that it was set in Norwich, but the American-isms were grating".

Again, up until now, if you were an American writer, traditionally published, your book would be sold to foreign rights and a foreign editor would edit your writing to suit that country's language, grammar and tastes. There is no such process for the self-published author, unless you can afford to spend beaucoup bucks on a foreign editor.

I can see what readers mean, though. I just read a kindle book by an English author and because I have assimilated the US language, over the years, I found it quite jarring to read it when so many words were spelled differently. (Please note, I say differently and not incorrectly). And, as for the "Brit Speak" that's a whole other ball game. I, of course, understood it and found it extremely amusing (it was a comedy) but I know for a fact my US friends would have had a lot of trouble understanding what the author was trying to convey, and this would have spoiled the story for them because they would be constantly stopping to try and work out what the author meant.

The odd thing is, is that I only seem to be getting the 'American-ism' comments from my English readers. I wonder if US readers make similar comments when reading a book written by an English author.

I will leave spelling and grammar for another post - that's a whole subject by itself. But tell me, what do you think? Are we going to have to adopt a universal English language now, due to the advent of digital books and self-pubbed international authors? How do you think this will affect the way we view international authors? Will this put you off reading a book by an international author if you know it is self-pubbed and not edited for your country?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Inspiration is found when you least expect it

I just had to post this picture (by very kind permission of my friend, Virginia).

One day I was visiting my "horsey" friend and when I walked into her living room this picture of her twin grandchildren was the wallpaper on her computer. I took one look at it and a whole scene erupted in my mind. At that point I had no clue where in the book I would put the scene or how I would write it into the story, I just knew that Faen and Faedra would somehow end up in a little old cabin somewhere.

They didn't end up playing chess, or reading a book for that matter, but the story evolved because I saw this photo on a friend's computer.

The same thing happened with the final chapter of The Amulet. I was stewing in a right old quandry on how to finish the 1st book. At the time, I was involved in a show at our local theatre. When I wasn't needed on stage I wandered into a side room to take a break. One of the other performers was also taking a break and playing something that sounded Celtic on his mandolin. Instantaneously the room disappeared and I was standing in the Great Hall in the middle of a ball. (He gets a mention in the scene, albeit slightly disguised as a fairy).

Those moments are the most precious for me as a writer. Sometimes I can go weeks with no idea where to take the story, and then, wham! Someone says something, I smell a fragrance, or see a picture, and the story takes off running.

I'm not one of these authors who can plot out the entire story before they start writing it. I have a rough idea what the plot will be but it's never fixed in stone. I just start writing and see where the story wants to go. I think it's worked so far. I hope :-)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Will Be Back Soon (I promise)

Sorry I've been MIA this week. I have family visiting from England, so not getting onto the computer much. I am having a wonderful time showing them around the area, I just wish the weather would co-operate, but then, that's Missouri for you. If you don't like the weather, wait 5 mins :-)

Will be back next week with another post after my family have gone home.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Is YA too dark?

A reporter for the Wall Street Journal sparked a big hooha on the webosphere this weekend with her post about YA books being too dark and depraved. I read the post and a lot of the comments, and I have to say I can see this whole argument from both sides. (Click on the title of this post to go to the article).

When I read books, I want pure escapism. I don't want to read about people cutting themselves, or being raped, or abused, whether by parents or fellow students. But then again I'm an adult now, maybe things have changed a lot since I was that age.

I didn't have a perfect teen life. I won't go into detail, but I'm still dealing with some scars to this very day. Would reading about it in a fiction novel have made me feel any better? I don't know, and I'm not sure that kind of thing was written about in teen fiction back then, was there even teen fiction in the 80's? It's a fairly new genre.

But with the comments I saw, it sounds like the parents are on the side of the journalist and the young adults are very much on the side of the authors who write these very graphic books depicting all kinds of awful things that today's teens apparently endure. Many teens are writing to the authors and telling them that reading their book saved their life.

I'm not a mother either, so do not have the experience of hearing what is going on in schools from my kids. But I like to think myself open-minded enough to discuss anything my child might want to throw at me, but how would I know for certain, unless I was actually in that position. I feel for both parties.

After reading the article I have to admit to feeling quite naive. I purposely don't read that kind of book, like I said, I want escapism. So, I didn't even realize that kind of book was out there.

Don't worry though, I'm not about to change the way I write. I will continue to create colorful adventures with characters who are loved. But I have to wonder, even though my books are listed under YA books, are more adults reading it than teens? I'd be interested to know.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Signing

I had an amazing day. The book signing went better than I could have imagined. I nearly sold out of The Amulet. I didn't order as many because it has been out longer and I know a lot of readers in my town had already purchased the 1st book.

Nearly everyone today bought both books. I visited with lots of people and was overwhelmed by everyone's support and good wishes.

A local newspaper reporter stopped by and took lots of pictures.

Dorothy, the lady who owns the store has been so supportive and generous to me as I take this journey, and was overjoyed that so many people stopped by to visit and get books signed.

I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey so far. It's an amazing experience and one I shall treasure for the rest of my life. I only hope I can live up to everyone's expectations as I move forward with my writing :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Dog that Smiles

Since I have mastered the whole uploading images to my blog malarky, I thought you may like to meet Jocelyn in her dog form.

Actually her real name is Isabow but she is who I modeled Jocelyn after.

Isabow is my friend's Border Collie and she will bound over to meet you, with her whole back end wagging and this huge smile on her face.

She's incredibly camera shy, though and it took many many clicks of the digital camera before we were able to get a half way decent picture. (Thanks Brandi for being so patient). Thankfully we are not back in the days of 35mm camera film or this picture would have cost a fortune!

On a different note. I am doing a book signing in my local town this Friday and Saturday. I'm hoping to meet some new readers and make some new friends. I'll let you know how it goes and hopefully have another picture for you.

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. As predicted, I spent mine mowing but, oh boy was I pleased that I finally got to it after all the rain we've had.