These days the humble # is found everywhere. Hashtags are a necessary part of marketing as any fun loving marketeer or PR guru will tell you. Started on Twitter their reach now extends across most media platforms.They can be used for fun, wider social or political issues or just because. Love them or loathe them they are here to stay. For authors, they can be a useful way of reaching a wider audience and potentially connecting with new readers. That is of course if you get it right.
Having cast my eye over today’s trending offerings everything from #internationalbeerday to #FlashbackFriday is filling my twitter feed.So how as a rooky can you even come close to ‘trending’ or at the very least expand your audience? Here’s one thing I’ve learned about expanding your audience which I wanted to share with you. You need to know who the top influencers are in your field.Now, this is where it gets a bit sciencey so bear with me. Top influencers are those tweeters who have received the most impressions for a hashtag from their own tweets and the number of retweets they get. So how do you find them? Ah well… The easiest but also most expensive way is to pay someone to do it for you. Just type into Google ‘top influencers twitter’ and you will be presented with a wealth of companies offering you bespoke services. Or you could do what I did and do it the cheap way! Take a look a company called Klout who offer a free service. Klout allows you to share content and link you social media accounts to see how influential and engaging you have been on social media. Using a fancy algorithm it then spits out your score of influence from 1 – 100. I got 49 so obviously I am not as engaging as I like to think and still have some way to go! What I really like about this app is it allows you to identify the top experts (influencers) in your field who you can choose to follow.You can also monitor how you’re doing via your ‘Klout Score’ which changes dependant on the aforesaid fancy algorithm. It’s a great way of expanding your audience and increasing your online presence.Until recently I had no idea such things existed but as all good indies know it takes a lot of hard graft to raise your wee small hand in the maddening crowd. Simples yes? I hope you too have found this small journey into the unknown helpful 🙂
Opportunities for free promotion do not come by very often so when they do I want to grab them with both hands and start running! This week starting today (Sunday) you can vote once a day for Forbidden Colours at the Author Shout website. If it wins the weekly vote Forbidden Colours will receive a week’s worth of free promo which would be tots amazing! Please please, if you have the merest of moments anytime this week click on the link below. It only takes a second but my gratitude will last a lot longer!!
Read an Ebook Week is a global celebration of ebooks. For one week only gain access to thousands of free and deep-discounted ebooks from the world’s biggest indie authors. Now in its 8th year, read an e-book week offers readers the opportunity to discover new authors at discounted prices. All the books featured are reduced in price or free! To purchase my books at a discount please click on their images below. To access the full catalogue click on the bird graphic below. Happy reading!
It’s March, and I have a spring in my step and a head that is full of holiday ideas. I am thinking about planning my vacation! With that in mind, I wanted to offer up a little gift to you all. Drum roll please…… The ebook version of my debut novel ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ is on sale!!! For a limited time only, through Kindle Countdown and Smashwords, you can grab yourselves a cheeky copy at a knockdown price. To quote a few of the reviews:
“Thoroughly recommend for a holiday read”
“I read this on holiday and could not put it down”
“Great holiday sunbed read. Would recommend it. Would make a great film”
So, for less than the cost of a glass of Sangria, you can have fun in the sun! The offer lasts for one week. On your marks get set….GO! What better excuse do you have to book a holiday now?
This is my first Christmas post of the season. To get us rolling I’d like to introduce my author friend Pamela S Thibodeaux. Welcome Pamela :). Pamela’s new release Keri’s Christmas Wish is a wonderful romantic tale which will leave you wanting more. Here Pamela tell’s us about her journey to writing Kerri’s Christmas Wish. Over to you Pam –
“I am 100% panster so when I sat at the computer with one scene in mind, Keri scrolling through her newsfeed and grumbling “bah humbug” over the ‘Christmas in July’ propaganda, I had absolutely NO idea where the story was going or what would happen.
I was introduced to Energy Medicine a couple of years ago and find the whole concept of healing the body – or actually the body healing itself by correcting energy imbalance–fascinating. Along with EM, I’ve discovered the power of positive thoughts and prayers (see: You can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay). Add to that, my belief in the afterlife and the books & movies affirming those beliefs, and well, this story practically wrote itself. What is so amazing and encouraging for me is that Keri’s Christmas Wish is the first romantic story I’ve written in its entirety since my husband passed away in 2009. Oh, I’ve had things published that were already in the works, but other than a couple NF pieces, it is the only thing written from start to finish. Hopefully this means I’m in a much better place emotionally and other books/novellas/stories are sure to follow”.
For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?
A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?
I am very pleased to announce my second novel ‘Forbidden Colours’ is due for release on December 8th. A very exciting time in the Fitton household I can tell you! Forbidden Colours is available to pre-order via Amazon Kindle right here. In the meantime here’s something to whet your appetite……
What if your memories were not your memories? What if the drug hailed as a cure is to be your curse and ultimately your destruction?
Midori Yates works for pharmaceutical giant KLD. The launch of new drug Centoria has revolutionised the treatment of amnesia with outstanding results. Future trials exploring its use in the treatment of Alzheimer’s are on the horizon. But is it really as good as the data suggests? Neurologist Dr Nick Campbell has seen amazing results with his patients and is ready to believe in Centorias transformational ability. That is until his patients start displaying strange and worrying symptoms.
Determined to uncover the truth, Midori Yates and Nick Campbell find a conspiracy that threatens to engulf both of them with devastating consequences. They need to not only survive but live. This contemporary thriller will have you turning the pages long into the night.
The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads ‘I’m sorry – S’ sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.
Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate – and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…
Advance praise for Distress Signals: “Pacey, suspenseful and intriguing … [A] top class, page turning read. Catherine Ryan Howard is an astonishing new voice in thriller writing.” — Liz Nugent, author of 2014 IBA Crime Novel of the Year Unravelling Oliver
“An exhilarating debut thriller from a hugely talented author. Distress Signals is fast-paced, twisty and an absolute joy to read.” — Mark Edwards, #1 bestselling author of The Magpies and Follow You Home.
Please join me in welcoming author Catherine Ryan Howard to my world today.Catherine’s debut thriller Distress Signals was released earlier this month and is already garnering high praise indeed.
NF : Hi Catherine and welcome. In a few lines tell us a bit about yourself. CRH: I live in Dublin, Ireland, but I’m from Cork. I’m currently studying for a BA in English Lit as a mature student in Trinity College, which is why I moved here. I’ve self-published a number of non-fiction titles about some of my travel adventures, and then the obligatory ‘how to’ self-publishing guide. I’ve been blogging since early 2010 and love Twitter. Prior to writing (and studying!) full-time, I was a campsite courier in France, worked in the travel industry in the Netherlands and was a front desk agent at a hotel in Walt Disney World. My debut thriller, Distress Signals, came out on May 5.
NF: Can you tell me a bit about your writing processes. For instance do you draft an outline, do you have a set number of words you try and achieve each day or do you go with the flow and see where it goes? CRH: I really have no routine, although I wish I did. I’m more of a binge-writer – I won’t write for days or weeks, and then I’ll attach my arse to the chair and write 10,000 words in a couple of days. I’m a planner, so before I start anything I do spend a lot of time plotting out the major points. I find a stack of Post-Its, a pack of Sharpies and a roll of Christmas wrapping paper (use the back – it’s blank and can be as wide or as long as you need it to be) are the ideal tools for this. It also appeals to the pathological procrastinator in me. I’m completely with you on that. I too am a binge writer, although every part of me screams to write every day. I may well steal the Christmas wrapping paper idea though if that’s OK…
NF: Distress Signals is a great title for a book and conjures up all sorts of imagery. Where did the inspiration for the book come from? CRH: I’m glad you like the title because that’s not the first one we came up with! When I was writing it, I called it Dark Waters (so generic) and then when it went out on submission it was called Adrift (which I really liked but it’s also the name of a movie), but now I can’t imagine the book being on the shelves with anything other than Distress Signals on the cover. I love it too. The idea came from an article by Jon Ronson called ‘Lost at Sea’ which was about some unexplained disappearances from large cruise ships around the world. It mentioned something called the International Cruise Victims organisation, which just stopped me in my tracks. Victims? On cruise ships? Of what? And why so many that they needed a group? To me, cruise ships were happy, sunny places, filled with cabarets, buffets and cocktails with little umbrellas in them. What was happening out there that we needed this? After some research, I discovered some facts about maritime law that were unsettling at best, and details from real life cases that made my jaw drop. I started thinking, A cruise ship is the perfect place to get away with murder. Then I thought, I should write a novel about that.
NF: Where is Distress Signals set and how did you make that decision? CRH: I was very lazy: the book starts off in Cork, where I’m from. In fact, Adam and Sarah live together in what is essentially the apartment I lived in before I moved to Dublin. It wasn’t all laziness though – I think it’s kind of thrilling to see Cork in a crime/thriller novel, because it’s not exactly LA or New York, so it’s quite the novelty. (I hope!) The latter half of the novel takes place on the Celebrate, my fictional cruise ship, but there is a port day in Nice in the south of France, where I’ve spent a lot of time. In terms of locations I tried to use as much of my existing knowledge as possible, because it really helps lend authenticity to the tale.
I agree,setting your writing in places that you have been does help. I think I am also lazy as my next book is set in Somerset, which isn’t a million miles away from me!!
NF: Distress Signals is your first thriller. If you were to give a piece of advice to someone about writing their debut novel what would it be? CRH: I think you have to be madly in love with your book, because you just can’t appreciate how long you and it will be together. It’ll be in your head, then you’ll be plotting and brainstorming, and then you’ll start writing who knows how many drafts. If you get an agent, you might have to go back in and start rewriting and revising again, and you’ll definitely have to do it if you get a book deal, because you’ll do at least one more draft with your editor. Then there’ll be copyediting and proofreading, and public readings, and talking about every aspect of the plot and the writing, etc. You’d go insane if you got sick of it at any point. I really love Distress Signals – it may sound weird, but I can still read it now (50, 60 times later!) and enjoy it and feel proud of it. So if you’re getting bored of your story by Chapter 3, it’s time to put it aside and write something else. Thanks Catherine, a great piece of advice.
NF: How did you get published? CRH: There’s a long, complex answer to that and a short, simple one. The long one includes the fact that this is something I’ve wanted forever and have been trying to do for about that long, and how I self-published non-fiction and started doing freelance work for a major publisher in the hope that these things would help me. But the short answer is that, in the end, none of that mattered! I finished my book, I looked up agents online and I submitted to Jane Gregory following the instructions on her site to the absolute letter. Five days after she sent my novel out to editors, I had a two-book deal with Corvus/Atlantic. It was all about the book, in the end, not my contacts or my CV. Which I think is a good thing!
NF: What’s next for you and your writing? CRH: I’m finishing the first draft of Book 2, which will be published this time next year (so I better hurry up!). It’s also a standalone thriller, but one that takes place on dry land this time…
Now for some random questions:
Home or abroad – Abroad. Always abroad!
Sweet or savoury – Sweet. I always say my only dietary requirements are calories.
Summer or Winter – Summer for sure. Is there anything better than waking up to blue skies and sun streaming in your window? Well, apart from the coffee you can make then to enjoy while you gaze at it, I suppose…
Thank you Catherine for spending time with me today and good luck with Distress Signals.
Here’s an extract of Distress Signals to whet your appetite:
I jump before I decide that I’m going to.
Air whistles past my ears as I plummet towards the sea, dark but for the panes of moonlight breaking into shards on its surface. At first I’m moving in slow-motion and the surface seems miles away. Then it’s rushing up to meet me faster than my mind can follow.
A blurry memory elbows its way to the forefront of my thoughts. Something about how hitting a body of water from this height is just like hitting concrete. I try to straighten my legs and grip the back of my thighs, but it’s a moment too late. I hit the water at an angle and every nerve ending on the right side of my body is suddenly ablaze with white-hot pain.
I close my eyes.
When I open them again, I’m underwater.
It’s nowhere near as dark as I expected it to be. Beyond my feet, yes, there is a blackness down deep, but here, just beneath the surface, it’s brighter than it was above.
It’s clear too. I can see no dirt or fish. I twist and turn, but I can see no one else either.
Looking up through the water, the hull of the Celebrate looms to my right, the lights of its open decks twinkling. I have a vague idea where in the rows of identical balconies my cabin is, and I wonder if it’s possible for two people to leave the same spot on such an enormous ship, fall eight storeys and land in completely different places.
It must be because I seem to be alone.
I drift down, towards the darkness. Pressure builds in my chest.
I need to get to the surface so I can take a breath. So I can call out and listen for the sounds of legs and arms splashing, or for someone else calling out to me.
I move to stretch both arms out—
A hot poker burns deep inside my shoulder. The pain makes me gasp, pulling water into my throat.
Now all I want to do is to take a breath. I must take one. I can’t wait any longer.
But the surface is at least ten or twelve feet above me, I think.
I start to kick furiously. My lungs scream.
I’m not a strong swimmer; I go nowhere fast. My efforts just keep me at this depth, neither sinking nor ascending.
The surface gets no closer.
The urge to open my mouth and breathe in is only a flicker away from overwhelming. I start to panic, flailing my left arm and legs.
I lift my face to the light as if oxygen can reach me through the water the same way the moon’s rays can, and that’s when I see a shadow on the surface.
A familiar shape: a lifebuoy.
Someone must have thrown it in.
I wonder what that someone saw.
The edges of my vision are growing dark. Everything is cold except for the spot where my right arm meets my torso; a fire burns in there. The pressure in my chest is pushing my lungs to rupture and burst.
I tell myself I can do this.
All I need to do is get to the lifebuoy.
I kick, harder and stronger and quicker now, somehow. Soon the Celebrate starts to grow bigger. I keep kicking. Then the moon gets bigger too, the water around me brighter still. I keep kicking. And just before I am sure that my lungs will burst, when they are already straining and ripping and preparing to explode—
I break the surface, gasping, sucking down air while my body tries to expel it, coughing and choking and retching and spluttering.
I can breathe.
You can read the first 3 chapters of Distress Signals here
Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.
Free books have been a hot topic on one of my authors groups this week, with good reason. Which other creative genre do you know where it is becoming ‘expected’ for you to give your work away for free, non gratis? None? That’s right none. Whilst the internet has brought us many great and wonderful things, free books, in my humble opinion are not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, competitions, advanced reader copies not a problem – that’s part of the marketing. What irks me, is the expectation that you should give your books away, for free. Imagine a silversmith working away on a beautiful pendant. Months spent even years, honing and perfecting their work. Would you expect him to give it to you for free? Personally I wouldn’t!
I write because I love it, it is my passion, my obsession. I place a value on what I do and I expect others to do the same. Giving away free books, permanently, says to me – I do not value you or your work. It is the principle that is conveyed when that transaction is made. Now the transaction may mean very little in financial terms, but what it says to me as a person is overwhelming. It says I respect & value what you do. You don’t walk into a store and expect the manager to say oh everything is free from now on, do you? So why do people expect it from authors?
Yes of course we all like free stuff I’m not talking about buy 1 get 1 free or sale prices, these are marketing tactics for short periods of time. I’m talking about authors giving away their books free, permanently. By having to pay even if it is only £1.00 you have committed, you have invested. Far too often I am hearing of people who just download free book upon free book, with no intention of actually reading them. I can’t blame them, they were free, so why not? These I am reliably informed are called ‘freebie hunters’. It could be shower gel or cotton wool, they don’t care as long as it’s free.Now where is the value in that? Excuse me while I readjust my soap box. Ah that’s better…
Whilst a few authors may see an initial rise in their sales, I am told by many publishers this is not sustained. So what has been achieved? Has the writer gained future readers – no, have they received more reviews – no, have they given away shed loads of books to people who don’t give a flying fig – doh yes, I think so. For me its not about stroking someones ego because they ‘just have to sell sell sell’. It’s about acknowledging writing is a creative process that is valued.
Some fellow authors and I are coming together to try and pull things back to centre. You may agree or disagree, that is up to you. All I ask is that you think about it seriously. These are of course, just my thoughts. Each one of us must decide for ourselves, what’s right for us.
If you are interested in the Valued Authors Coalition then you can find us here:
You can download a copy of All Tomorrow’s Parties for Kindle free, yes that’s free for 1 day only. On January 18th 2016 All Tomorrow’s Parties will be available for a free kindle download, so what are you waiting for? No there isn’t a catch. A review on Amazon once read however would be most appreciated. Enjoy this late Christmas gift!