The Autumnal Equinox approacheth…s?

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On September 21st, the Autumnal Equinox will be here.

For those who don’t already know (or haven’t read A Construct of Angels), it’s one of the two days in the year where day and night are of equal length.

Significantly for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the point where the nights start to become longer than the days, a process that will continue until the shortest day on December 21st, where the process reverses and we begin the long climb out of Winter.

The Autumnal Equinox features heavily in A Construct of Angels, as protagonist Sara Finn and her fallen-to-Earth Angel companion Michael discover.

If they are unable to prevent an anticipated demonic event on the eve of the equinox, the days will grow shorter and shorter until only night remains, and the Dark Realm beneath our feet will gain control of all the souls on Earth.

As the hours pass, chaos and darkness descend and Sara is bombarded by nightmares of a world scoured by dust and ashes.

With only six days remaining after Michael’s unexpected ‘fall,’ will the pair be able to uncover the reasons for the increasing disappearances, and the chaos that grips the City of York?

Find out in A Construct of Angels.

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‘Angels Week’ – no writing, but several locations visited.

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York St Marys

September’s Angels week was, due to various reasons, deferred until the first week of October. The headline says it all. I didn’t get any writing done, but I did manage to spend a productive day in York where I visited one of the proposed locations for ‘Vengeance of Angels.’

The location in question was York St. Mary’s – a former church, now an Arts centre.

Whilst the artwork that was on display was beyond me, the ladies who were at St. Mary’s on the day were very helpful, allowing me to examine the interior of the building and also to take photographs for my notes – something that’s normally prohibited.

I was also able to ascertain whether it would be practical for my characters to spend the night in St. Mary’s. This is essential to the later part of the story, because there is something very, very special about this building, something that makes it a suitable hiding place. 🙂

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‘Angels Week’ is paying dividends

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source; Stock.Xchng

source; Stock.Xchng

A month ago, I decided to nail down the fourth week of each month in order to concentrate solely upon my sequel, ‘A Vengeance of Angels.’

This hapless WIP had languished in my documents folder since January, having been overtaken by other pressing priorities. But now things are rolling again. Setting aside one week per month allows me to continue with the promotion of the first book, the editing of the paperback version, the creation of payment-per-project short stories and novellas and still allow me time to move the WIP forward.

Since I resolved to discipline my writing self, the Word count has risen from 21,000 to 29,500. Not a huge leap by any standards, but it’s progress. Add to that the research that I’ve put in and I feel that the pace is adequate to complete the sequel by the middle of nex year.

Sure, I’d love to complete it sooner, but I have so much paying work coming in that to finish it sooner would be to rush it and I prefer my novels to grow slowly – to marinate, as it were. If time allows, I can speed things up a little, but at the moment, it’s a case of finding time for everything – and keeping the (non shape-shifting) wolves at bay.

Have you made any big changes to your writing schedule that’s allowed you to be more prolific or more organised?

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The genre system – is it good enough any more?

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I’ve been browsing through the ‘Blogs I follow’, trying to keep up with all the discussions, concerns and new releases and I’ve been seeing a lot of posts where authors are grumbling (quite rightly IMHO) about the trouble they’re having with squeezing their novel into a genre category.

And it’s not surprising. For instance, on Wikipedia, there are currently 80 genres and sub-genres listed under fiction alone. Yikes! My own novel,  ‘A Construct of Angels’ would currently fit into the horror, romance, Urban fantasy, religious fantasy, thriller or mystery categories.

There are How-to-Write books on the market that happlily suggest that writers should choose a genre and write within its boundaries if they want to sell. But why should we have to work within such restrictions? We’re not aiming towards library shelves. Some of us aren’t even looking towards bookshops any more. The electronic age has changed all that.

In these days of indie eBook publishing, with sub-genres and even sub-sub-genres sprouting up, the whole idea of ‘genre’ feels overloaded and outdated. Of course, to declare that, an alternative is needed and here’s my (fledgling) idea;

Wouldn’t it benefit both readers and retailers if some sort of ‘tick box’ or a graphic system was introduced where the elements of the book can be highlighted (or illustrated) by a sliding colour scale such as we have with rated domestic applicances (in Europe at least)?

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energy rating

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I experimented with a few variations on this theme and didn’t find them to be flexible enough as I was still having to insert genre labels. It was colourful, but no better in terms of classification. Perhaps you could see a way to make it work.

So I tried a pie chart instead. This is a simple chart, created using ten subjects that are most relevant to my debut novel  ‘A Construct of Angels’;

CoA pie chart

Note that I said the ten most relevant subjects – there are others that I could justify adding in there, but ten is plenty. Perhaps ten is too many and five would suffice. Who knows? This is all hypothetical and open for discussion.

BTW, for you with your magnifying glasses against the screen, there’s only 0.5% sex in the story. 😀

In an ideal world, the catergories would be listed from most relevant to least relevant, top to bottom, thus;

CoA pie chart sort

This arrangement should make it easier for the potential buyer to interpret. They would be free to scan the top two or three subjects and decide if the story is for them or not. They might still be swayed if their favourite genre was listed as number four or five – something which wouldn’t happen if the book had been listed under ‘Thriller’ when they prefer to read about religion- or horror-based stories.

I don’t think it would be too difficult for an algorithmist like Amazon to feed the percentages into their version of Deep Thought deep in the heart of Amazonia and begin to categorise the books in this way.

As I said, this is all hypothetical.

Do you think the time has come for the library shelf-based genre categories to be given a shake-up? Perhaps you have a fledgling idea that leaves my suggestion eating dust.

If so, please share! I would be happy to eat humble pie chart. 🙂

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I’ve only been and gone and done it again!

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This weekend, I did a quick mental calculation and realised that ‘A Constuct of Angels’ had been live on Amazon for almost three months.

How time flies!

Rightly or wrongly, I’d signed up to KDP Select’s 90-day exclusivity deal in order to test the Amazonian waters (well, it WAS my first time) and was interested by Amazon’s ‘Lending Library’ scheme that promised authors a share of umpteen millions per month depending on how many books were borrowed by other KDP members.  Part of the downside of this is that the author has to sign an exclusivity deal with Amazon for a minimum of 90 days.  Well, those 90 days have now expired and I had a peek at how many of my books had been borrowed by other KDP Select members.

So…(opens envelope), Ladies and Gentlemen, the number of borrowed books after 90 days totalled exactly (drum roll, please);

Zero, nada, nill.

Zero multiplied by umpteen millions = ?  Well, you can do the math, as they say.

Sheesh.

Amazon automatically renew KDP Select for the author, UNLESS that author remembers to untick the renewal box.  With only two days to go, I unticked and have now dipped my toe into the next part of the adventure.

‘A Construct of Angels’ continues to be live at Amazon, but as of today, it’s also available from Smashwords in multiple formats.

Now, I’ve been warned that Smashwords is not simply a ‘post and forget’ site; that marketing work needs to continue.

Smashwords has many detractors on various blog sites, with some authors complaining about low sales.  Others are constantly chiding these same authors for not marketing effectively.

So it will be an interesting experiment.  A steep learning curve lies ahead, but I intend to do everything that my spare time allows to spread the word.

Also, now that I’m no longer tied into Amazon, I’m free to explore beyond the boundaries.  To infinity – and beyond?

I will let you know how I get on.

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Write on in 2013!

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