It is a giant mistake to think you can give your website an update in half an hour. I tell you now that is impossible, so the several Sunday hours I should have spent with my characters, progressing their lives and loves, I instead spent updating my website and learning more about the capabilities of the CMS (content management system, for the uninitiated).
I did achieve something though (I think).
For anyone interested in my writing, you can get, for free, the first four chapters of The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story (book 1 of the Belleville family saga) at this link.
The problem when you have a busy and intellectually demanding day job is that the writing life you’ve also committed to gets scant attention at times.
Do I have the headspace to progress my writing career and steer a traditional print media magazine group through the challenging transition phase we’re currently seeing in the print media sector as well give my attention to my first love?
Frustrated and confused, I went on holidays instead of facing up to this dilemma.
Ten days in New Zealand was very nice. It’s an easy flight in an A380 – Brisbane-Auckland – picking up the Emirates Dubai-originating aircraft.
New Zealand seems more English in its culture than Australia does now – although the indigenous Maori people do have a strong stake in contemporary society, more visible I would say than the corresponding indigenous population of Australia.
We went far south in the south island to Dunedin – its Scottish heritage very obvious. It sits on the 45 degrees latitude south, which makes it a more southerly point than any point in Australia. Next stop, Antarctica – but not for us.
At this southern outpost of European settlement in the 19th century, New Zealand established its first university and today the population of the city is 25% students. The city has nurtured its early educational advantage, it seems. Students of course would include international students. New Zealand’s population is only 4.6 million.
The earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch is still that – but trying to recover from the events of 5 years ago. The beautiful botanic gardens (in the picture) were largely untouched and acted as a haven for the distressed locals.
There were some wonderful second-hand book shops – a step back in time almost – we found them in Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin, Auckland and Devonport (across the harbour from Auckland). Auckland is New Zealand’s major city, but Wellington at the south end of the north island is the capital.
All this waffle of course is delaying me getting back into writing the second novel in my Belleville family series. I’ve just done a Kindle countdown deal for the next couple of weeks to make the ebook cheaper (starting at $0.99) of the first in the series. The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story – link here of Amazon
And what have I committed to?
Well, during the week the conversation went something like this between me and my other half – long suffering husband of many years’ standing.
Him: You said you wanted to go to the London Book Fair next year. Do you know it’s on in March?
Me: No, I thought it was April. It’s always April.
Him: Not in 2017 it isn’t. Oh, and Qantas have just released some discounted fares on premium economy. I’ll check the dates.
Me: OK, good idea.
Half an hour later we were booked.
So I’m off to the London Book Fair in 2017 and the realisation that I will need a lot more under my belt in the finished manuscript/published book category than I currently have, in the hope I can sell international rights.
I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic – I like her style and what she has to say.
Her advice is practical – don’t give up your day job because you think it interferes with your writing, you have to pay the bills – well, that is me, paraphrasing her words from her Brisbane Writers Festival appearance.
In her latest book, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about originality versus authenticity – authenticity, she says, has quiet resonance.
I agree with her. I think every writer would like to be hailed for their originality but is that possible? Yet every work is original (well, unless there has been undetected plagiarism going on).
In fact, readers who have commented favourably on my first book say it is ‘authentic’ – I think they mean in its country setting, its understanding of the social mores of the day and the anxiety of wartime. The bombing raid sequence over Germany is carefully researched, for example. I have a shelf of Bomber Command books.
I’m really pleased when I get such feedback.
I’ve dropped the price for the Kindle and Amazon.com editions of The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story – Kindle is only US$3.71 – link here if you are interested in checking it out.
I haven’t given up my day job to live on the royalties! Maybe that’s some happy day in the future to look forward to, when I have several books out there. But I enjoy the writing and the creating and that’s what is important to me.
Most of all I respond to Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice to be authentic in my writing – and in my life. I enjoy feeling a part of the writing community, especially the big online writing community.
Well, as expected, Rocky turned on the heat for the author day at the local library: 33 degrees C = 91.4 degrees F. Bright, hot and sunny.
What was the best thing about the event? Catching up with my cousins whom I hadn’t seen in a while and relieving them of a bit of cash – they bought some copies of my book.
Cousin Christine has even read it and sent me a Facebook message saying she really enjoyed it and where’s the next instalment? Hey, guys, I’m too busy trying to get the first one out there!
Next best thing was meeting a romance author Alyssa J Montgomery who does a mixture of self publishing and traditional publishing …. and seems very successful at it. (Envy, envy!) Lovely person. She’s a speech therapist by day.
Me: Hello, and what are your reading interests?
Other person: Oh, I don’t read. I’m just here to support a friend.
My thought bubble: Who doesn’t read? Seriously? It’s the one thing I hate about travel and being away from home …. I don’t have access to my books.
So, an interesting experience. Others were much better prepared than me, but many were writing about local or family history.
I’ve included some pictures I took on the day, including one of where I used to live as a teenager with my parents, who owned a cattle (beef) property. So as not to intrude on the current owners I pulled up on the side of the road and just took a shot from afar. All you can glimpse is the roof of the house which was a typical Queensland timber home.
I also talked to the local newspaper reporter – the local newspaper is The Morning Bulletin so hopefully they will, out of local interest, publish a story about my new career.
My attention has been on other matters for a few months, not my writing career. Even so, I have been organising a few things to promote my first book ….. The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story.
Having decided the mainstream publishers don’t know what they are missing (in other words, no big money offers came my way), I’ve published the book myself under our own imprint PMA Books – http://www.pmabooks.com – and on Amazon.com – so there are now copies filtering through the bookstores and libraries in Australia.
This won’t make me a bundle of money, but I have the immense satisfaction of seeing my book in store ….. and I’ve been invited to library talks, the first one next week in my old home town of Rockhampton (well, birth town anyway). It is so appropriate as this is the setting for much of the book, although the town has another name in my book. Some of the locations are real though ……
Those with sharp eyes will spot the stack of my book at My Humble Abode bookstore in Brisbane.
So join me on this adventure trail of launching my first book and my writing career. I’ve been encouraged by the feedback of early readers of my book.
Oh, and by the way, I’ve promised to have book 2 published in 2016. And book 3 in 2017. All while pursuing my day job of publishing magazines.
To all those authors on the same journey as I am undertaking, I wish you the best of luck too ……