19 March 2019

Tuesday Talk: I have so much news to tell...

Yesterday,  my newsletter subscribers were ‘forewarned’ of this post. (See, it pays to subscribe to newsletters… heavy hint…)

Let’s start by rewinding time a little and head back to the Newsletter Archive on my website…

"April 2006
I have so much news to tell.
The publishing industry, understandably, tends to concentrate on books that will sell in their thousands. Sadly that usually means an author's backlist tends to become forgotten. Publishing Houses are only interested in their latest releases - particularly in the scoop of the newest passing-phase celebrity superstar. Because they are not making oodles of money from my books my publisher (Random House UK) has decided not to reprint the Pendragon Banner Trilogy and Harold the King...but …Fear not, a solution is upon us!

I have taken the enormous step of deciding to indie-publish. It will be either the wisest or the stupidest thing I have ever done, but it will mean my books will remain in print for as long as I want them to be. However, the excitement does not end there. I have also decided to indie/self-publish my pirate historical fantasy adventure Sea Witch novel. I am busy doing a final proofread and she will, if all goes to plan, be setting sail in early May 2006…"

Zip back to present day: 19th March 2019...

I simply cannot believe that the above was 2006 THIRTEEN years ago!

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then, some of it calm and sedate, but a good bit of it somewhat turbulent. The first indie publishing assistant company that I went to turned out to be owned by a crooked con-man, and looking at those early print runs… well, let’s just say they are how NOT to produce books. When the company went bankrupt, I high-tailed it over to Helen Hart’s SilverWood Books – been with the company, most satisfactorily, ever since.

Sourcebooks Inc picked up Harold, Queen Emma and Arthur for traditional/mainstream publication in the US and Canada, with The Forever Queen (retitled from the UK’s A Hollow Crown) making the USA Today bestseller list. (And I’ve just looked, it is still ranked in the Amazon.Com bestseller lists – and there are 99 reviews. Come on someone, make it a round 100 for me!) Then Turkey took it for translation… so I was now in the ranks of authors known as ‘hybrid’ – traditional and indie.

I think most of my followers know the story behind Sea Witch? (If not, click HERE) My ex-agent let me down big-time. She hated it. Sent the draft copy back with red lines and sarky comments scribbled over it… I was gutted. I had put my heart and soul into writing that book, I was thrilled with it – talk about someone chucking a bucket of water over your parade! Fortunately, I had (have!) more faith in my rogue of a pirate (“ex-pirate” … he’s just whispered that in my ear. There’s a distinct whiff or rum in my office… and the fact that he needs a bath…That’s the trouble with fictional characters, they have a habit of becoming very real.)

Anyway… I knew the idea was a good one.

I went on to turn that first Voyage into a series. And I have worked hard at being an indie writer, with all that being an indie entails. Which means doing your own, hands-on, every day 24/7 12 months marketing. I’ve, mostly, enjoyed it.

I set out, back then in 2006, when ‘Indie’ was a relatively new concept – and it bore the mark of being ‘second-class vanity’ publishing. These years later indie authors are far more respected because the good, serious, authors have made a point of producing quality, high standard work. (In point of fact, often better than mainstream!) And we, as authors, have, on the whole, become accepted in the literary world as respected authors – again, because we produce our books with care (and a lot of love!) After all, we invest our own money into it! Being indie is often expensive: there’s professional editing to pay for, professional cover design… professional marketing services if you chose to use them… To produce an indie novel that matches quality mainstream standard takes time and money.

And it is hard slog work to keep yourself and your books going. And after thirteen years of trumpet tootling, I’m getting tired. I want to get back to making writing my priority but needed a boost for my flagging lack of self-confidence and enthusiasm. That little whisper of nagging self-doubt when you are an indie writer is always present. We are on our own and – well, it’s draining to the point of ‘why am I doing this?’  The only thing that keeps us indies going is knowing that our readers out there - you -  enjoy our books.

The big drawback with being Indie, apart from everything I’ve said above, is the limitation of how wide you can ‘spread the word’. All indie writers would like to be the whale in a pond, but the truth is, most of us are tadpoles in the vast ocean of other books and other authors. Although the same is true for the majority of mainstream authors, the difference is, they don’t have to fork out good money for the privilege.

Because of marketing, getting books into stores, translation (or even film/TV) opportunities, mainstream publishers also have the advantage over indies: they have a louder voice, a larger presence. This is so even for the smaller Independent Publishing Houses (not to be confused with ‘Indie’ writers. Think of these publishing houses as the local Community Shop, as opposed to the huge Tesco. Whereas the indie author is the chap with his own barrow in the street market.)

All of which is why even the most prolific and supportive indie writer would still prefer to be with a Mainstream Publisher.

And I am delighted and excited to announce, that after thirteen years of ‘going it alone’, I have just signed a contract with Independent Publisher, Penmore Press, based in Arizona, for the Sea Witch Voyages! Jesamiah is to sail in consort with a new fleet to explore New Horizons!

We are to keep the covers designed by Cathy Helms (www.avalon.graphics.org) and we hope to get these new editions ready to set sail as soon as possible – although they will be out of print for a short while.

In which case, please do celebrate with me – I’m delighted that my Captain Acorne is to sail along with good hands, and that at last, despite the pleasure that being indie can bring, he has the potential to reach the much wider audience that he deserves. Jesamiah really should reach whale status, he isn’t the tadpole type.

However,  if you need to complete your set of e-books or paperback Voyages, and you don’t want to have to wait for them – I’d advise you to plunder them from Amazon now.

Meanwhile, I’ll be getting on, with renewed enthusiasm, with the writing of Voyage Six, Gallows Wake

 Please join me (and that Sparrer Feller) in a toast: 

To Jesamiah – and Penmore Press!

15 March 2019

A Novel Conversation with Vicky Adin's Gwenna

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted every Friday

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character


Q: Hello, I’m Helen the host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Vicky Adin’s novel Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?  

A: Hello Helen. My name is Gwenna of the title, and I thank you for inviting me to have a chat and a nice cup of tea.

Q: What genre is the novel and what is it about?

A: It seems I am the subject of what is termed historical fiction. But for me, life is now as it happens at the turn of the 20th century. I live in Auckland, New Zealand having emigrated from my native Wales. There are freedoms here but also difficulties. Auckland is growing and while many of the class prejudices have been left behind we are still British and women are expected to conform. I’m not good at conforming. 

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)

A: I hope I’m the ‘goodie’ as you put it. It is thanks to me we have a business to run and a family who cares for one another, but it’s been a struggle.

Q:  Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!

A: My family is complicated. Too many deaths, too many misunderstandings and too many heartaches. I battle through thanks to the indispensable Hugh who is my right hand man in the business. And my dear sister Tillie and her husband Tom who are my strongest supporters now my step-brother Elias has turned against me. He nearly brought my father’s business to ruin, but I wouldn’t let him. I promised Pa before he died I wouldn’t let my dream go. 

Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?

A: I do appear in another novel due for release by mid-2019. My best friend Jane is the main character. She is the costumier at the Opera House. It’s a bit different to my story because it’s a dual-timeline and stretches from the early 1900s to 1950 looking at it from recent times.

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in? 

A: I have definitely been put through the mill and suffer through scenes of physical violence, emotional upheaval and downright despair but I think the worse scene was after I fell ill and was confined to the house. I had far too much to do and believed the success or failure of the project rested solely on my shoulders, but no one would listen to me and I was forced to do as I was told. They were right, of course. But I hated it.

Q: And your favourite scene? 

A: I’m happiest when I’m making lollies and sweets. I love the process of kneading and stretching the sugar and turning it into something delicious and desired, so my greatest delight came when I eventually hung up the sign outside the shop with my name on it. 

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books? 

A: Vicky loves history and genealogy and always writes about families. The ups and downs of daily life come alive through her words. So much happens both within the family and through the cause and effects of events in the greater world. No one is ever completely happy nor completely sad. As in real life there is good and bad in everyone, every day. There’s five family sagas so far.
Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?

A: She’d editing furiously to polish her sixth book – The Costumier’s Gift. The story spans the first half of the 20th century. Jane has grown up to become the talented but unsung costumier at Auckland’s Opera House where she hides from her memories and keeps her secrets to herself. I can’t wait to find out how my life fits in with Jane’s and how Jane’s story ends. Generations later, Katie will be the one to discover Jane’s history and all it entailed through the myriad of photographs in her grandmother’s room.

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?

A: Support groups are an essential part of being a writer never mind what stage they are at. Authors rely on groups to help hone their writing or plan their marketing and promotion. No one likes marketing but you can’t sell a book without it. We need to help each other as much as possible. That’s why readers are so vital. Every author writes a story they want to share, so feedback is the life blood of an author. It’s a lonely life sometimes lost in another world with only the people inside the author’s head to keep them company. If readers would follow the author on social media, sign up for newsletters, comment, recommend and leave reviews, authors would feel rewarded. Readers, please let the authors know they have added something to your life experience even in the smallest way.

Q: Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?

A: On behalf of myself and my author can I say we are honoured to have received two IndieBRAG medallions and I’m delighted my author has been included. She promotes IndieBRAG as a sign of quality and assurance, which means her stories meet the standard expected and can be enjoyed by many readers.  

Helen: Thank you Gwenna it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt? 

Gwenna: Thank you for the opportunity, Helen. I believe the opening section where I walk down the street sharing my thoughts has been included.

Helen: well, while the excerpt is sorted out... would you like a another cup of tea?

Gwenna: Many thanks Helen, I’ve appreciated our little chat but I haven’t time for more tea. I must rush off and visit Jane in The Costumier’s Gift and see how she is doing. 
Helen: well you take care, and here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree! 

Auckland, New Zealand

For the moment, she felt free – deliciously free – only too aware the illusion would pass soon enough.
    Gwenna Price hurried along busy Karangahape Road towards Turner’s, the greengrocer. Her boots crunched along the hardened grit as she swung her basket and called a cheery good morning to shopkeepers preparing for the day ahead. She loved watching them sweeping footpaths, cleaning windows or winding out the shop awnings, unless they were lucky enough to have a fixed verandah. Other merchants set their wares out in doorways and along their shopfronts, seemingly indifferent to the rattle of trams and clink of harness, or the clomp of horses’ hooves and bicycles whirring past. 
    Gwenna delighted in these sounds as the day came to life, exhilarated by all the hustle and bustle. She waved to the girl changing the window display in the milliner’s shop and stopped to pat a horse munching on oats in its nosebag, wishing her life could be as contented. In the distance, the sails on Partington’s Mill slowly turned in the breeze. 
    One day, she promised herself, she would be a part of all this busyness. One day.
She continued down the street, mentally ticking off her shopping list, thankful for the wide-brimmed bonnet shading her face. Her cool dimity blouse and pale grey skirt swishing around her ankles were a blessing in the warm air on a cloudless autumn day.

    She pushed the niggling worry of her ailing half-brother Charlie to the back of her mind as the far more pressing worry of the charming and persistent Johnno Jones entered her thoughts. She was tempted to give in to the young man’s pleas, if only to escape life at home, except for one troublesome detail – his father, Black Jack Jones.

Website www.vickyadin.co.nz
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Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner:



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