The process has begun

It is something of an epic journey this time round, since I’ve given all my self-published titles new editions and new covers.

Tonight I’ve uploaded the new editions and new covers of The Tycoon’s Convenient Wife, Reckless Runaway at the Racecourse, and Twelve Days at Smashwords. It was somewhat more traumatic than usual because Smashwords kept insisting that I had not included the phrase ‘Smashwords Edition’ on my copyright page. Which I had. Anyway, it is all sorted now. I have to wait for the new files to be checked before they will be uploaded to the Premium Catalog, from which they will be distributed to B&N, Apple, Kobo, Sony et al. It could be a couple of days or even a couple of weeks before you’ll see the new covers everywhere.

Tomorrow’s task is to format the final version of Flirting With The Camera, add the back matter, write the blurb and then upload that to Smashwords and Amazon. Once it’s gone live at Amazon, I’ll add the link to the files of the new editions of the other books and upload those to Amazon. Still with me? Not sure I am! I have a list. It goes into double figures.

I’ve decided to set The Tycoon’s Convenient Wife to be permanently free. It’s free at Smashwords now and that should percolate into other sites soon. It will probably take longest at Amazon, since they will only set it to free in response to that price elsewhere.

After that, I’ll have the fun of sending out Kickstarter rewards. Some people are getting personalised copies of the ebook, so I need to add in ‘signature’ pages with a message for them. I’ll also need to format it for printing, since some people chose that Kickstarter reward level. If it goes well, I’m thinking of bundling some of the books into a print anthology. Hopefully that will be more cost-effective than printing the individual books. And since they’re short, it seems possible. We’ll see.

Oh, and did I mention here that I’m planning to enter this year’s So You Think You Can Write contest? It’s open to published authors this time. The only catch is that the entries need to be in by October 9th. You only need a first chapter to enter, but they’ll choose 50 entries to request a full manuscript from. So really, the whole book needs to be finished by then. I’ve written 12,000 words since Saturday. I’m loving it but it’s still quite a long way from finished. I’m still working on my Scottish short story too. The editor wants that by October 6th. Plenty to keep me busy, then.

This week’s news

I had an email from the proofreader this morning to say that she’s finished but she wants to leave it for a day and read through it again with fresh eyes before she sends it back to me. She also said that she enjoyed the book and was glad it had a happy ending! So I am still on course to get it on sale by the end of this month, or even a little bit sooner.

I have been toying with an idea for a book that I want to submit to Mills and Boon. I don’t think it would suit Entangled because it’s a ‘proper’ sheikh book – desert sand and men in robes and lots of unpronounceable names. It’s a bit darker and angstier than my Indulgences, too. Anyway, on Saturday I discovered that this year, published authors are eligible for the So You Think You Can Write competition. The first chapter has to be submitted by October 9th, but the whole manuscript has to be ready to go very soon after that if you get through to the second round. So I have been writing furiously – 7,000 words in 2 days. I think it’s worth it, though, because it can speed up the acquisition process a lot. All the first chapters get read in a month and 50 entrants are asked to submit their manuscript, with the winner chosen in December. Last year I think 7 or 8 manuscripts were bought through the competition. And you’re still able to submit through the normal channels afterwards, with a proper partial and synopsis, so you haven’t lost anything.

I love my heroine. Malaika is a geeky Arabic princess who bullied her father into letting her attend college and now she teaches at the local girls’ school. She is the perfect person for the role of traitorous spy that I have given her. And her hero? Well, Salim is the ultimate playboy sheikh, who has suddenly been thrust into the heart of his father’s complex political machinations and doesn’t really have a clue what he’s doing. Poor boy.

New covers, new title, new everything!

NEWCOVERS

I really love the bright, fresh colours and hopefully they also have easier text for reading in thumbnail size. I’m happy to have everything with a consistent look and I think it will help to have the word ‘romance’ on the cover for attracting potential new readers.

What do you think of the new look covers? They’ll be rolling out in the next couple of weeks in preparation for the launch of Tom and Hattie.

Coming soon!

I finished the content edits on Lying for the Camera last night and it’s now safely in the hands of the copyeditor and proofreader. These are two separate processes but I have hired the same person to do both. Hopefully that will work okay. She anticipates getting it back to me in about 10 days. During that time, I’ll make sure I’ve got everything else in order – the final version of the cover, the back matter, the table of contents. It’s a while since I formatted my own ebooks so I want to remind myself how all of that works. But all being well, it should be going on sale in the last week of September.

And, to celebrate, I am re-launching ALL my self-published books. They will all be getting new covers – I want to have a more consistent look across all the books. I’m also going to do some minor edits of things that people have pointed out. The ginger kitten from Reckless Runaway at the Racecourse is going to have to decide once and for all whether it is male or female, for example. And my American characters in Twelve Days will no longer say ‘bloke’ or ‘biro’. Another thing which I’m going to look into is making a print version available. I can’t afford to do a traditional print run and print-on-demand books tend to be expensive. So what I’m wondering about is an anthology: Reckless Runaway at the Racecourse, The Tycoon’s Convenient Wife, and Lying for the Camera all in one volume. If that comes in at a reasonable price, then I’ll do it. I need to do a print version of Lying for the Camera for some of my Kickstarter backers, but that will be a limited edition and not for general sale.

So these are exciting times. I’ve been thinking about the year ahead and making plans. I’ve got a short story that I’ll finish writing this month and send for editing in October, to publish in early November. My next title from Entangles is due out in December. I’m aiming to write two more books and a couple more short stories by next summer, but I’m still thinking about which to self-publish, which to submit to Entangled, and whether to try again with Mills and Boon. I’ve got a linked series of three books in mind which I think might suit Entangled. And another standalone which is definitely for self-publishing. But there are other ideas percolating that I’d like to try for M&B. Watch this space!

Reader, I Married Him.

I am not, in general, a fan of books written in the first person. In fact, I was dismissive of them all until Liz reminded me earlier this week of Jane Eyre. Which has made me think a bit more about what in particular I dislike about some first person narratives and why others work for me.

The problem of voice
If a book is written in the first person, then it only has one voice (yes, I know, some books alternate, but let’s keep things simple for the moment), and that voice belongs to a character. Usually the main character. That means I’d better like the character and the voice if I’m going to spend a whole book with her. Some characters just aren’t likeable enough for me to enjoy that, whereas perhaps if their voice only came in dialogue, or even filtered a bit through a third person close narrative, they might be okay. The Kristan Higgins book I tried (Too Good To Be True) didn’t work for me for this reason.

The problem of perspective
This can be a problem for any book told only from one point of view, whether it uses first or third person. You only get one view of events and one perspective on their consequences. In a romance I find this problematic because unless the author is extremely skilled, I only get to see one of the characters falling in love. This was a problem for me in The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers.

I am not your therapist
Sometimes a book written in the first person can read like the character is unburdening herself to her therapist. Everything is about the character and her responses and feelings and the inside of her head are examined in tedious detail and often in emotionally manipulative ways. I hate this kind of book with a passion. If I wanted to be a therapist, I would become one. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry felt like this while I was reading it.

Over-identification
Mostly, I like to be told a story rather than expected to live through it. First person narrative, for me, often puts me into the action. I am the ‘I’ when I’m reading. It’s exhausting and emotionally draining, and I don’t enjoy that kind of reading experience. Third person allows me to keep the book at a safe distance.

So, here’s my advice if you’re thinking about writing your book in first person:

Work hard at making your character someone who is easy to spend time with. Give her the most attractive and compelling voice you can, since there’s nothing to dilute it for the reader.

Work hard to show other points of view when they are needed for the sake of the story. Show us when your narrator gets things wrong. Give other characters plenty of chance to speak. Help the narrator to understand what they are thinking and feeling so that the reader can too.

Remember that you are still telling a story. Edit your characters thoughts and feelings. We don’t need every last drop of internal angst. Do not EVER give her an inner goddess.

And mostly, my biggest tip is reconsider. If you can possibly find a way of telling it in the third person, do it. Use first person if you have to, and only if you have to.

Also, and here’s a tip from Charlotte Bronte, first person does not have to mean present tense.

Heroine week!

It’s Heroine Week all week over at Romance around the Corner, and Brie has got some great guest posts lined up. My rant about Fanny Price is coming later this week, but today she’s got posts from Sarah Mayberry and Stephanie Doyle on everyday heroines and the heroine’s point of view.

HW - Medium Res 1

I love the idea of a week celebrating romance heroines. So often discussion focuses on heroes – how tall, dark and handsome they really have to be, how tortured, scarred or emotionally closed off they can be, and how much readers do or don’t fancy them. Which is all well and good. I like a great hero as much as the next person, but I LOVE a great heroine.

For me that means a woman I can respect and like, but most importantly, a woman I am rooting for. The romances I love most are the ones where the heroines triumph. They get the awesome guy they deserve. They get the respect they’ve earned. They get their dreams come true. I don’t love a story with a ‘diminished heroine’. I don’t want her to have to abandon her dreams or settle for less than the best. I want her to grasp hold of her life and be the best person she can be. I want her hero to challenge her, admire her, adore her and take on the world for her. But I also want her to rise to the challenge and take on the world for him. I want her life to be better in every respect for loving and being loved.

I’m Ros, and I’m addicted to heroines.
AtHblue
But I’m okay with that.

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