E-books by Christine Duncan

I’ve done a lot of posts on ebooks ovre the years. By this time, I had really expected that ebooks would be an easy sell. Many people that I know read them. I hear over and over again about the advantages. And yet, in this past week alone, I have heard from more than one author that their publishers are disappointed in their e-book sales.
Mind you, I don’t think this is due to lack of promotion. As a matter of fact, I think of one of these authors as a super promoter. She is always speaking somewhere, taking her books to sell somewhere, on a blog tour, or Facebook or running an Amazon promo. I want to pick this woman’s brain and find out how she learns about all of the opportunities and how she finds the time to do them all. She doesn’t seem to ever stop.
But even with all of that, she has problems.
I have a sort of scale myself when trying out new authors. I almost always start at the library. So is that still the problem with ebooks? My library’s ebooks are with Overdrive, 3M Cloud library and Hoopla. They don’t buy individual ebooks for each library as they do with paper books. So I would guess that means less ebooks sell.
So what is the answer? Is there a way to sell to Overdrive and Hoopla? Do we include special features in ebook editions, as magazines do? What would that special feature be?

Still Writing On

Just a quick word is week, as I’ve been incredibly busy.

I’ve moved to a different flat this week. It’s been depressing, difficult, awkward and miserable and I’m not that happy in my new place yet. I thought this would affect my ability to write.

It didn’t. I’ve been writing like a demon. (A good demon. The writing kind. The kind that writes a lot and very quickly.). Right in the middle of the trauma I’ve had some fantastic ideas (perhaps the trauma caused the fantastic ideas?)

I’ve always worried that my writing will disappear under difficult circumstances. But it doesn’t. It’s not that fragile. It stays even in difficult circumstances.

Lots of things have stopped me writing – but they’ve always been physical problems, exhaustion, lack of time, lack of space. But actual emotional difficulties don’t seem to stop me, they spur me on.

Now please excuse me. I have to arrange for my shower to be fixed.

Blogging by Christine Duncan

I have been a writer on this blog for a number of years now. So you would think I would know about blogging. But I was messing around in WordPress before writing this blog post and discovered that I still have stuff to learn. For instance, before this, I never knew what a slug was.  Of course, I had noticed over the years that there was a shorter link to my posts, but I’d never bothered to find out what they called it.

I also see that there is a place to write an excerpt for each post.  Really?  People do that?  Blogging seems to me to be reading and writing light already.  The only thing shorter in most cases would be a tweet.  People really write excerpts?  If you do, can you tell me why?  Is it so you can tweet it? WordPress’s definition on the excerpt tells me I should not confuse it with the teaser.  I never would consider that as I don’t write teasers for these blogs either.  The things you learn when you are procrastinating.

Happy Mothers Day! by Christine Duncan

Daydreaming – Part of the Job

Daydreaming is important.

One of the frustrations of a day job, or of living with people, or just being around people is not being able to slip into a good daydream. Not just a five minutes ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if….’ moment, but a full on, complete immersion, totally lost in it, could be hours at a time, daydream.

I like to daydream by plugging myself into some music, and sitting on a bus, or walking in the park, or lying in the bath and just letting go. Some like white noise, and lying on the sofa. Some prefer silence. But what your daydream does is take everything to see and touch and hear and know and read and remember and want and works it all up into a personal fantasy for you.

But how do daydreams plug into writing? Well, on a basic level, you could just daydream your story. But if your daydream is about being a film star, or having a wild fling with a rock star, or slipping back in time to meet a queen, or fighting orcs in some wild lands, it’s still useful for your book. Because you are imagining people and places and words. That wild daydream of taking the ring to Mordor with Alice Cooper in a golf buggy (it could happen! Well, maybe not) may seem utterly irrelevant to your thoughtful and restrained book about stock market brokers, but what happens in your daydream can be transmuted into something for your book. Conversations about heroism or love or sacrifice can be lifted from a daydream to a book quite easily.

Daydreams exercise your brain. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, daydreaming trains your brain to create in preparation for a full length story.

So, switch off the phone. Put on some music. Lie back, or get to the park, or find a seat by the window on a long bus journey and dream. And remember, if you think it’s a waste of time, it’s not. You’re a writer. Daydreaming is part of your job.

Camp NaNoWriMo by Christine Duncan

Thank God April is over and I no longer have to make excuses to myself about not joining Camp NaNoWriMo. My Facebook feed will no longer be filled with the posts of the wordcounts of fellow writers giving me guilt. I am obviously not one of those folks who is inspired by group challenges–something you would think I would have figured out from my running performances in races long, long ago. I am not as bad as my finish times would make you suppose.
I apparently like the solitary nature of not just running but writing as evidenced by dislike of sharing progress in either in public. I am already preparing my excuses for July (for my own head–to remind myself, in case I am mistakenly tempted to try again.) It is okay NOT to NaNoWriMo. I will repeat as often as necessary.

Which Genre Am I?

How do genre authors settle into which genre they’re going to write? Well, I don’t think they choose straight away.

One of my favourite authors, Stephen King, is known as a horror writer. Yet he’s written a very good fantasy series. Even his horror books run the gamut from shock horror to chilling ghost stories. His short stories are in all kinds of genres.

I have read now about other authors writing all sorts of genres until they settle down to one, but I didn’t realise this when I began. I thought you just knew what kind of writer you were, but I couldn’t seem to find my voice.

I tried all kinds of genres. My first book was about a bunny rabbit, when I was seven, but it can’t have taken, because I’ve never ventured into anthropomorphic animals again.

In my teens I tried gothic romance. I was obsessed with Victoria Holt and Georgette Heyer at the time, so I had a go. It didn’t turn out great, I have to say, though I was very happy with one scene. And there was one particular character that stayed in my mind…

I tried science fiction, but couldn’t get any further than a short story. I then had a go at fantasy. This was after I discovered Lord of the Rings, but before Game of Thrones. I was off work with a torn ligament and every day I’d go to a park and write. I still have the book. It wasn’t a great book. The plot was rather dull, and a lot of the characters borrowed heavily from Lord of the Rings. And yet, and yet….it taught me I could write a whole book. It taught me how to write something that long, and what I’d need. And I had a few characters, just three, that didn’t come out of Lord of the Rings. They were all mine, and I liked them. I kept them in my head.

I had a go at a ghost story. I actually really liked that ghost story. I may go back to it one day.

All the time I wrote the occasional crime short story, but I never thought about writing a full length crime book. I loved crime, I read it voraciously, but I didn’t think I could write it. I didn’t think I could manage the kind of complex plot a crime novel required.

When I started thinking about The House At Baker Street, it was just a short story, a character study of Mrs Hudson. Then one day, an idea for a plot jumped into my head. I had the idea for the central case, and it was a good one. I loved it. I wanted to write it, and I wanted it to be mine. I didn’t want anyone else writing that plot.

And once I thought up my first crime plot, they kept coming. Complex, thrilling plots, full of clues and red herrings and subtleties. All those years reading crime fiction finally came to fruition. I let my mind wander, and it came back with story after story after story. This was my genre, I realised. I had tried them all, but in the end, I’m a crime writer.

But all that time spent trying other genres wasn’t wasted. Because those scenes and characters I liked in my other books have found their way into the books I write now. Only, instead of fighting dragons they fight crime.