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Archive for the ‘A writer’s life’ Category

Just a quick post about an impromptu freebie. Opi Battles the Space Pirates is my latest SF romance that has been up on Amazon for a little bit. Normally $2.99 it is currently free. (for a few days only)

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To celebrate getting the print version up and running, I’m also running a Goodreads giveaway. So enter to win one of three print copies.

If anyone is interested in a review that would be great but no pressure. Links below.

In other publishing news, I had a timetable set for different things and now it everything is converging! Eep!

The covers for the relaunch of the Dragon Wine series have not appeared and the artist has gone quiet. I’m sure I’ll hear something soon but!!!!. Then today I heard the edit of Ungiven Land is coming back. This is great news as I was hoping it wasn’t going to be delayed. The proofreading of Deathwings is delayed until the end of the month. The edit of Bloodstorm is put back ten days to the end of the month. By my reckoning everything is going to land at the same time. Best laid plans and all that.

If you see posts that sound like I’m frothing at the mouth later this month, then I probably am.

Link to free Opi Battles the Space Pirates- It’s light and a bit of fun. Link here.

Link to the Goodreads giveaway. The widget isn’t working. I’m putting the link here.

 

EDIT: The sale is now over. I’ll blog again when Opi Battles the Space Pirates is on special. To hear about it promptly sign up to my newsletter Wing Dust! Epic Fantasy or Dark Fantasy version. Click here.

Opi Battles the Space Pirates by Donna Maree Hanson

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I have an exciting blog interview planned but it’s not ready yet. I am waiting for some answers to come in. In the meantime, I thought I’d post something about what is happening with me.

I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress lately due to an external issue. This has been hard on me. I’ve had to take sick leave from my PhD and I’ve had awful stress and anxiety symptoms and I find it hard to concentrate. High stress and anxiety increase my overall pain levels so it can be rather debilitating. I haven’t been able to read much at all, or invest in watching a movie or write fiction. I do walk a lot and I’m losing weight.

We live in an ableist society and so we are brought up thinking that we should be able to do everything and when we are not we get over critical of ourselves and also stress about how people view us. For me, I hate labels. I was sent to a psychiatrist last year to assess my stress and anxiety after a panic attack at work. I wasn’t sent to the psychiatrist until about four or five months after the attack. By then I’d been on meds and had two different lots of counselling and was feeling much better. I didn’t want to have a label and so was pleased that the psychiatrist said I wasn’t suffering from any psychiatric disorder. Even though this attack was brought on by an injury at work that I was having trouble adjusting to and workplace shenanigans. But shrug.

I believe my inherent ableism affects my outlook on my physical disabilities as well. The RSI and arthritic conditions limit me. I hate to be limited. I am a doer. I am an ablelist. It is part of who I am. There is so much I can’t do now and I hate it. I try not to think about it. No wonder I’m stressed. So I hate to acknowledge that these things make me less than I want to be. I know I should just suck it up right. I’m getting older. Well I’m 56 not 76!

But here I am again. Sigh. Having symptoms and it sucks.

My approach to Indie publishing has been to publish books that have been previously published and that I have the rights back to and books that I’ve already written that made it to acquisitions but weren’t bought by publishers. (This doesn’t include the book that is/was with my agent as we still have hopes). Last November, I wrote the short novel, Opi Battles the Space Pirates because that was just fun. However, while I’m not actively writing new stories, there is a bit of work in getting the books back out there and the new ones published.

The rights to Shatterwing and Skywatcher have been returned to me. This meeans they are no longer available. Before they can be relaunched they need to be proofread. Shatterwing is done and I’m just waiting on the map and the new cover. Skywatcher is still in progress in proofreading. My approach to this was work from hard copy that way I can use my tilt board and make it as ergonomic as possible. However, it’s still hard work! Concentration people!

My apologies to Dion who bought Shatterwing and then found he couldn’t buy Skywatcher as Pan Mac took it down. He wrote to me to say : Wing dust! It ended in a cliffhanger. In my defence, I had asked for the books to come down in May 2017 so I could have time to prepare but something went missing in the communication and I had no notice of when they would or did come down. They just disappeared from the Internet.

As per above, concentrating has been hard. Deathwings copy edit is done. I was a good way into it before the external stress causing business came back and overwhelmed me. But as I was nearly done, I managed a few more hours. Deathwings is now with the proofreader.

The new covers are in progress too. And I have Russell K looking at the maps. I’ve outsourced as much as I can. I have three weeks to finish revising Bloodstorm before it’s due at the editor. I think that’s doable, even if I only do an hour per day. However, if I don’t make the deadline, it will take longer to get Bloodstorm out.  No great dramas, except for readers because a lot happens in Bloodstorm.

For more of the Dragon Wine series, you guys will have to wait. I have a PhD to do. Although if this external stress thing doesn’t resolve I will probably go part time on the PhD for a little while.

The Silverlands series. Argenterra and Oathbound are published. I have to do a little bit of stuff to get the print file of Oathbound ready. I also need to pay someone to do the formatting for the Smashwords edition of Oathbound. I can do it, but it’s a bit difficult on the physical side of things. (Oh I hate admitting that–it’s the ableist in me!).

The edit of Ungiven Land is in progress. I may have a bit of work to do when it comes back to me later in the month. I had a chat to the copy editor this afternoon. Apparently I’ve developed new bad writing habits and may have my work cut out for me. My editor wanted to know if it was okay if she picked me up on things, suggested new scenes etc. I said go for it.

That’s what I want. That’s what an edit is for. Make me sweat. I want a better book.

This week I heard that I have the rights to The Sorcerer’s Spell back. That’s a sexy paranormal novel that is published under the Dani Kristoff name. That needs the same treatment. New cover, proofreading, new ISBNs etc. I have a half started sequel somewhere. If I’m to work on that then it will be dictation software! If I can concentrate. A lot depends on what happens over the next few weeks and months. However, finally I might get a male torso on the cover! A first for me.

There is administrative stuff that is done and heaps not done. Just registering ISBNs and Catalogue in Print stuff takes time and energy. I wished I earned enough to pay an assistant! Hahahahahaha!

Fun is over. Back to work.

And just for fun I’ll put a cover image of Argenterra here. It’s new low price is USD 2.99. I also revamped the blurb for this.

Sophy is not looking for a talisman: she is the talisman!

Sophy is snatched from our world during a ghost tour. Landing in the lush world of Argenterra, she’s the odd one out. She can’t use the land’s native magic, the given, even though her friend Aria, and everyone else, can.
Worse still, she’s a faded version of herself and doesn’t fit it at all.

Abandoned by Aria who marries a handsome prince, Sophy travels the land with Oakheart, the high king’s ambassador, to explore the mystery of why there is a crystal leaf growing inside her.

Then the accidents start to happen and she realises a dark force wants her: alive or maybe just dead…Argenterra with subtitle

For more information on The Silverlands Series and buy links, click here. Have you got your copy of Argenterra yet?

Also if you are interested in signing up for my Newsletter. Click here.

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Recently, I’ve taken the Indie Publishing thing more seriously. I believe there is only two ways to go about this. Do it or don’t.

I’ve also learned that is also hard work and that it requires a different mind set from traditional publishing.

Traditional publishing you have the acceptance of the publisher etc and they (hopefully) have a strategy to market your books. If you have the print deal you get into books stores and launches and if the publishers are pretty good you’ll have some press releases and even a marketer selling your books, getting you press in various places. These days you have to do some of your own marketing, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Blogs, Instagram etc etc.

That is nothing like Indie Publishing. And I don’t even know the half of it. I’m at the bottom of the hill pushing the dung to the top.

So what have I learned so far?

Advice is out there. Ask. I have learned so much mostly from the generosity of Patty Jansen and her cadre of Indie Publishers. (I’ll put a link up her page at the bottom of this post). Believe me there is a lot to ask.

Putting your book up on Smashwords or Ingrams and expecting it to sell doesn’t work (except maybe in some fluke circumstances). Believe me I had a book up there and it didn’t do much. You have to write more books. I had to turn that one Indie Published book into a trilogy. And I have the rights  back to another series so by mid-year I’ll be playing with eight Indie Published books and that gives me more options marketing wise/promotion wise. This does not include my traditionally published works under my own name and my pen name.

New skill sets…administration, formatting, Photoshop, buying stock images, learning about newsletters, different places to market my books, cross-promotions, pricing etc.

That’s just a quick overview. You really don’t understand until you do it. For example, I buy my own ISBNs so they have to be registered, then I register them with the National Library Catalogue in Print, then there is listing the books with different sellers and distributors, writing blurbs (the hardest thing of all), hiring editors, proofreaders, cover artists and writing briefs for cover artists. There are the ebooks to format and upload and print files to prepare…yadda yadda

Yet, it is rewarding. This has been the most challenging thing that I have done. It’s scary. It’s empowering. But most important of all–it’s a business. That’s the biggest change in mindset for me. I want to make a living from my writing. I want people to read and enjoy my books. I have to get the books out there. I have to find my audience.

So big achievement of the week. There have been a number of them, but sending out my first newsletter is the star  moment.

I’ve called the newsletter Wing Dust. People who have read the Dragon Wine series will get the reference.

Here is my newsletter banner, which I put together on Photoshop. Thank you You Tube for the tutorial. (It’s a very complicated and powerful program btw).

Newsletter banner master amended

If you want to sign up to my newsletter click here. 

You can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

Heartfelt thank you to Patty Jansen. I suggest reading a few of her posts on Indie Publishing. Great advice and good sense from her. You can find her here.

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Some people may think writing a book is easy. Maybe writing a trilogy isn’t too hard. And that fantasy stuff? Why it’s all made up so what’s the problem? Anyone can make stuff up.

Ahhh…I’ve finished a trilogy and it was a challenge. I thought they were easy before I finished one. Now I know it’s damn hard work. Also, I started The Silverlands more than fifteen years ago. I know so much more now than I did then but it’s hard to go back and change things so you have to be happy with what you have and what you can achieve within the limitations of your original vision.

But the map? I always had a drawing of Argenterra but a wise person once said to me back in 2003-That’s not a map! And proceeded to tell me all the things that were wrong with it-scale, place names, the size of a lake etc.

Through the years I worked on the Silverlands series and on Argenterra, the imagined land. I thought about the landscape and what is going on with the magic in that land. How did it get there? What does it do? What does it all mean?

To cut a long story short, with the excellent assistance of Russell Kirkpatrick, (@insanemapboy), I have a map. It was hard work. I think I drove Russell to the brink of madness. I’m sure he wanted to throttle me. Yet, he dragged me kicking and screaming into a better understanding of maps and I listened. So now there is the map of Argenterra, taken from my scribble and drawn into perfection. (as perfect as it is going to get). The ebook is not going to show the map well. The print book maybe. So I’m putting it here for you all to see. You won’t see the tears, the sweat, the anguish, the retro fitting. I mean I literally moved mountains and changed the course of rivers to bring you this. Something I envisaged so long ago and now here looking awesome.

Final Map Argenterra

And, yes, it was Russell Kirkpatrick that told me my map wasn’t a map way back in 2003, when I was a babe in the woods. He sent me on a path to better understanding. Thanks Russell.

I have put the map with the series description under MyBooks! Link is here.

 

 

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Time flies! I meant to write this post when I got back but with one thing and another it got delayed.

I had a fab time. It is such a shame there will be no more reader conventions. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Australian Romance Readers Association will come up with in future because they are badass organisers.

So for a romance writer at a reader convention there are these things called swag or loot where writers give stuff away. It can be corny condoms, chocolate with flyers for books, post it notes, pens etc. A lot of it can be personalised. Often it will just be on a general table. When I went to RT Convention in New Orleans authors and publishers had to pay to put their swag in a special room, where readers could go in and take what they want. So as I knew this was the last convention I thought I’d go for the swag giveaway.

My book Opi Battles the Space Pirates was meant to be out. First, I was going to give away print copies, but I didn’t get the cover in time. Then I didn’t get the cover in time to give away Ebooks. So in the end I copied the Ebook (without cover) to USBs and included them in the loot bags.

Ten lucky people got the swag with the book on a USB stick. I had another six bags with general loot. Cautionary tale, don’t put the chocolate hearts in until after you have driven from Canberra to Melbourne as the chocolate will sweat in the heat. Other than packing, that was my preparation.

On the way down and on the way back I stopped at my favourite place, Benalla Art Gallery. This is a picture of the view from where I ate my lunch!

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So what was different about this ARRC? This is my third convention attendance and this time it was in Melbourne at the Rydges in Exhibition Street. Great location and great hotel. Always a good start.

I signed up for the extra-curricular activities, such as the high tea at Zumbo’s and the cruise but my first foray into meeting readers was in the lift. I spoke to Tiffany (waves to Tiffany) and asked her if she was there for the convention. We talked favourite genre on the way up in the lift. She reads paranormal and I write it. So good start. Good on me for being friendly and actually saying hi! to someone. I’m an extrovert but I don’t always find it easy.

Next up was saying hello to whoever was around while waiting for the bus to the high tea.

Keri Arthur called me over, then CS Pacat was there. Say hi to these talented and lovely authors!

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I don’t have a photo of her, but a few minutes after this photo was taken, Debbie (chair) introduced Courtney Milan to us and we hung together for the bus ride (ended up being a life dare to ride that thing) to Zumbos. The high tea was amazing. I’m trying not to put on weight so I figured there were parts of the high tea I could skip. No! I couldn’t. It was all different and peculiar and amazing. The food gave everyone something to talk about. I sat next to Keri Arthur, opposite Cat Pacat and with Courtney Milan, but even better I had eight readers on my left side and I got to talk with them all. Here’s the test. Can I remember all their names?

First up was Tiffany who I met in the lift, then Amanda (we became buddies), Yanna (also became a buddy) oh oh…Barbara?, then ???, the Melissa and Melanie….oh I was so close. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Anyway it was so much fun. I talked all manner of science fiction and fantasy as well as romance reading across the table, sharing our faves and also picking up new recommendations. Melanie I knew from Canberra. She’s a librarian and she had already encouraged me to read McMaster Bujold’s Vorkorisgan series. My fun moment was when Courtney Milan realised she was sitting next to CS Pacat and she had a fangirl moment. That must have been very cool for Cat! (hahaha).

Then it was back to the hotel, where there were a few close shaves in the bus. Glad to be still living, we went off to get ready for drinks. I really did go over my limit. More on that later. Got to talk to heaps of people. Got to chat with Kristen Callihan, but I didn’t know who she was. (she gave an awesome talk by the way!) PS I stole this photo from Yanna on Facebook.

arrc group

Then came the Trivia Quiz. That was hard. I was tipsy. I snaffled Melanie and Melissa and Amanda with us writers. It was hard. We did well in the movies, abysmally elsewhere. We won Ice Magic topping for our ice cream. We also won Tim Tams. In the end we resorted to making up answers. Being silly was the fun part of it. We didn’t win either.

Next day the conference started. One of the really cool things I did and I think other conventions should steal this idea was author speed dating. (I keep writing hot dating but that just boggles the imagination). Ten authors, ten readers, four minutes each!  It was great for author/reader interaction, which is sometimes hard to do even at a reader convention. I got to give away nine of my goodie bags. I was so pleased. One reader didn’t show. It was a great way for readers to discover new authors too.

Later that day was the book signing. It took place in Bobby McGees nightclub and it was an interesting venue. The prize for the most startling attraction to her table goes to Wanda Wiltshire for a shirtless man with wings. The poor man was freezing but you know it worked! The photo below is from my signing table. I gave away the rest of my goodie bags and sold a book. Woot! Sorry no picture of the bare-chested man or is that fairy?

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I also went along to the Harlequin drinks and had a very interesting conversation with Narelle Harris, who talked about her slash Holmes/Watson book, called A Colonial Boy (I bought the book later). Thank you Harlequin!

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Next big thing was the ARRA Awards dinner. I sat at the table with the most awards. Keri Arthur won for her section and Anne Gracie won about five awards. I really should have taken a photo with Anne and her collection. It was amazing.I sat with Anne Gracie at the signing so I can understand how much that support from readers means to her. I did snag a photo of Keri though.

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Melissa and I went into the bling off. Melissa should have won. She made her outfit but she needed to flash her sequined bra to bring it off. Kate Cuthbert co-judge offered to send her a prize. I wore my amazing Bollywood-type shoes I bought on a shopping expedition with Keri Arthur in New Orleans. Below is Melissa and below that my shoes.

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Yanna and Amanda came over to take a snapshot of us in our finery.

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On Sunday, I chaired a panel on Feminism versus Romance. At the end of this post is a link to a post about that panel. Renee Dahlia took what looks like incredibly detailed notes. I was nervous as all hell. I’d left my computer at my friend’s place in Melbourne, thinking that I wouldn’t be writing then remembered it had all the stuff for the panel on it. Anne Gracie kindly chatted to me in the dealer’s room beforehand. I was pacing. She also had a print out of the questions. Handy!

I thought the panel discussion went well. I’m usually good at public speaking but I did feel nervous. The panel itself was so interesting and right on my PhD topic area. Thank you to the lovely authors, Erica Hayes, Anne Gracie, Amber Bardan and Bronwyn Parry for a great discussion.

After the panel I fell into a heap. I got to hear Courtney Milan’s guest speech and Kristen Callihan’s which were so worth it. I missed Kylie Scott’s which was a shame but I was busy doing other stuff. It was a sad goodbye at the end of the convention. The team really do organise well and there was masses of food and the hotel room was great.

I should give a shout out to my roommate, Catherine Evans. She was fun to hang with and so quiet. We had some fun midnight discussions and she drinks as much tea as I do.

So the convention was over but there was more. Yes, a river cruise and it was in a Tramboat. Very cute little thing. I got to hang out with my mates, Yanna and Amanda and we also had breakfast together. I’d been out for dinner on Sunday night and ate way too much and spent an uncomfortable night so was not feeling the best. But their company cheered me up.

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And that was that. A lovely weekend, great weather. Lovely people. Thank you so much ARRA for a great weekend. Edit! A shout out to Pamela Diaz for great MCing and her general sweetness.

A pic of me taken by Amanda. Drinking tea as I do.

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Notes to Feminism versus Romance panel discussion. Here.

Hugs!

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I’ve been writing creative prose now for over fifteen years.

I realise now that my story and novel writing has mostly been by instinct. Sure I’ve done some workshops along the way. I recall a workshop I took with Cate Kennedy in 2003 and I had an epiphany! Something she said turned my brain, just titled me until I saw it. I was so blown away by her workshop that I wrote poetry about her and my experience. It was bad poetry but still I wrote poetry!

One of the takeaways from that workshop was using the silences. What people don’t say! Who would have thunk it!

I am undertaking a creative writing PhD and this year (year 2) for me is all about improving as a writer. This means reading. It means writing. And on top of that I sought out ways to improve my technique, my skill, my craft…whatever you want to call it.

So I’m taking a Screenwriting course at the University of Canberra. Now as I said I’ve done workshops, read books about writing and even workshops that looked at the film structure and how to analyse your writing. But OH MY GOD! Screenwriting is blowing me away. Truly, I’m sitting there listening to a lecture about premise and the five important things and I jolt in my seat. Issue with latest book that agent rejected. Solved.

As I listened and took notes, I realised where my writing worked well for me was where I had a premise. Dragon wine for instance has a premise: How low can humans go and are they worth saving. That’s not quite worded exactly like a premise but for me it’s a guiding moral for the story. To be a premise it would need to be. No matter how low humankind sinks, it is still worth saving.

The other big takeaway for me is it’s not the risk of failure but the price of success. Oh wow. I am reborn. In Dragon wine I decided when I planned it that I wasn’t going to be nice to my characters. They were going to risk all for what they want. Unwittingly I stumbled across this.

I’m not saying that Screenwriting is the same as prose writing. It’s not. But the story essentials, such as structure etc are universal. And those techniques can help you refine your writing.

So for future works. I’m going to blow you all out of the water.

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