The exciting part is that my daughter, who has a reading disability and has never read one of my books, will now be able to without someone sitting and reading it to her. Since she does her reading late at night, this is impractical. I’m really looking forward to passing it on to her!
I never imagined, when I wrote the first three books of Tremontane, that Zara North would be so popular. In response to all the questions about what happened to her after SERVANT OF THE CROWN, I wrote a novella touching on a few events of her life over the fifty years (fifty years!) following her “death.” Titled EXILE OF THE CROWN, it’s available for preorder at Amazon.com–and it’s only 99 cents! I hope you’ll read it and enjoy it!
In other news, the third novel, AGENT OF THE CROWN, will be out early in 2016, and the fourth novel, VOYAGER OF THE CROWN, is due to be published by June of 2016. AGENT is the story of Elspeth and Owen’s daughter Telaine, and VOYAGER is Zara’s own novel. Following that is a trilogy about Willow North, the first North Queen, release date to be determined later.
So I’m still figuring out this whole online presence thing. Everyone has their opinions about it–how often to tweet, what to say on your blog, how to work a Pinterest page (that one mystifies me still). But my problem is a little more fundamental–I’m having trouble with getting my blog to update at all.
I like my web site provider. It’s really easy to build a web site, they have lots of nice themes, and it’s overall been a very simple process to learn how to do everything and link to where people can buy my books. Good experience, if a little spendy. But then I ran into two problems.
One is the issue of putting up free downloads–short fiction, etc.–for people to read. My husband the Plot Whisperer insisted that they be something people could actually download instead of having to read them on the computer screen. I had to admit he was right. But the site provider didn’t have any way to upload files like that; it was read online or nothing. So we went through all manner of gymnastics to get it to work, and the truth is, if I can’t do it myself, it’s not going to happen. And this was so far beyond my abilities it might as well not exist. So that was the first thing.
The second thing was that the blog wasn’t pushing updates through quickly or, in some cases, at all. And when it did, it truncated the posts in news readers so they cut off sometimes mid-word. That was unattractive and annoying.
So this is me trying different blog software to see what happens. It’s already solved the one problem of not being able to put up downloads–that was easy, as easy as the other one was hard. Let’s see what happens with this post.
About a month ago I participated in a couple of Twitter events for writers, #pitmad and #carinapitch. These are Twitter things where for twelve hours or so, you can pitch your book in nice bite-sized 140-character elevator pitches for agents and editors to look at; the first was general, the second for Carina Press. I was encouraged in this by the Partner in Crime, who is a Twitter veteran and has done this before. The conversation went like this:
PIC: I think you should do this Twitter thing.
Me: I’m barely capable of tweeting. I’m not even sure that’s what you call it.
PIC: It’s fun, and besides, it’s good to see what people are interested in.
Me: But I’m not sure I want to be published traditionally.
PIC: Just do it already and stop whining.
PIC: (shines I Participated! badge)
So I did. And it was fun. First of all, it turns out to be REALLY HARD to condense a 110K-word book into fewer than 140 characters (since you also have to include the hashtags so people can find it). It was a real challenge, and that alone was worth entering. Knowing what to include, how to structure it so it draws attention—it’s a good skill to develop and is useful in other things, like writing cover copy and blurbs.
It was also fun to see what books other people were writing, and also what books the editors and agents were interested in. If someone (not an agent) liked your pitch, they’d retweet it; if an agent liked it, she’d mark it as favorite. I pitched my historical fantasy series and had two responses from publishers and a bunch of people liking it. That was nice too, a kind of validation that what you’re writing does, in fact, have appeal beyond your immediate family and the beta reader who’s very patient in telling you when you suck. I also found a bunch of really funny, creative people, and maybe even some new books to try. Mostly, it was an interesting challenge, and one I might try again—or at the very least peek in on the next time it happens.