Take it from the top

I’m going to try and catch you up with my year behind the scenes. Something that has gone in the space of a Blink. However realising how enormous this subject is, I’m going to split it into a few sections and post over a few days.

This is my long promised post of the decisions I’ve made with self-publishing and how it’s all going so far…

The journey so far –

Last January I made the decision that Burning Embers was finally ready. It was a polished as a shiny squeaky thing and in the best shape that I could make it. With my dream of following a traditional publishing route I started to send BE out to agents.

I think it went well. I had a spreadsheet to monitor who I had e-mailed my book baby too, their contact details and what they required in their submission package. I even had a column with an approximate date of response. Generally I had positive feedback from agents and publishing houses that would accept direct submissions. I even accidentally sent it to a few self-publishing companies and received some encouraging results.

In the end however, the answer was no. I was told that Burning Embers was well-written, engaging, had excellent descriptions…but just wasn’t quite right for anyone’s list or didn’t suit their personal tastes. It was discouraging, but important to remember that this is a subjective business. I know that the opening of Burning Embers is tailored more towards literary fiction than a straight YA Fantasy-Romp. I also know that the book really hits its stride after the first six chapters (maybe I shouldn’t be so honest!) However, I also had faith that in the hands of readers who love fantasy, strong-female protagonists and want to be pulled into another world –it could really work.

One of the self-publishing companies did have this to say after requesting opening chapters:

‘Blimey exciting start, its made me think of Game of Thrones, Divergent and a female Uhtred of Bebbanberg all at once, which is a good thing – great imagery and sense of place. I think this would be very popular right now, with the right cover and mega saturation on social media, you will get noticed. I’m sure of that. Keep me posted as to how you get on with other publishers, I would love to work with you on this’ – In the end, this enthusiasm translated into an offer of publication with them for a much discounted fee.

In monetary terms they were willing to remove £500 from their usual price.  I really liked this company and probably would have published with them, however it was at the start of the year and I was determined to exhaust more ‘traditional’ enquiries first.

I also received an evaluation of Burning Embers:

‘The book is very well written and the story is original, exciting and engaging.  

The author creates a rich fantasy world with its own history and mythology. Feia is a sympathetic character and I enjoyed following her story.

I think fans of the fantasy genre will really enjoy this. It combines all the best traits of the fantasy genre but with an original twist. 

 An exciting story set in a rich fantasy world that will really appeal to readers. I can imagine this making an excellent series and, once hooked, I think readers will keep coming back for more.’ 

So what to do next?

I carried on writing.

I started with pieces of flash-fiction for competitions, and I even won a few. As a result of flash-fiction I was published in two additional books last year.

Amongst all the sting of rejection, I started the Poisoned Well a simpler, more linear YA Fantasy which was always going to be shorter than the 120,000 word beast that was Burning Embers.

The plan was to finish Poisoned Well and publish it on Wattpad.

Now Wattpad is amazing. It allows you to post you story in serial. You’re encouraged to post on a regular slot at least once a week and to interact with the community. This in turns generates ‘reads’ for your story and you gain followers. Followers who get excited about your work and are eager for the next instalment. Theoretically this can translate into sales of a book. One ‘success’ story of Wattpad recommends you have  the full text published on Amazon and provide that link to Wattpad, so your impatient readers can skip along and buy your book instead of waiting 30-odd weeks for the next part.

However, as I was sending BE out to agents at the time, I was aware I shouldn’t be publishing it anywhere online! This is where Poisoned Well was dreamt up – something that was specifically geared towards a Wattpad posting schedule. Another hint is to keep chapters at approximately 2000 words each, just enough to keep the story moving, but short enough to keep the reader engaged and hungry for more.

Then summer came around – and life changed. I’ve mentioned it in the occasional post, but over the summer I realised I was expecting a baby. Now among all the preparation for new life and feeling like I had the flu for a few months, I realised that I wanted my book baby project to be done. Signed off, sealed, delivered – fin. Burning Embers had been such a huge part of my life and in order to move on completely I would need to let it go. But it deserved more than staying in my desk drawer and on the computer. Because I’d been feeling so poorly, I’d also stopped writing Poisoned Well – a mere two chapters from the end! SO CLOSE!

So I decided to self-publish. All of the queries that were going to have a response had received one, and I’d exhausted the pool of agents I could harass. I had twittered, blogged, researched and finally it was decision time.

So what to do first?

Well, initially panic. I’d spent years reading articles about self-publishing, marketing, social media…and I immediately lost all confidence that I knew what I was doing and had to go back and re-read everything again!

Self-publishing – there are some big decisions to make. – this is where the next part of the story will continue…

Let me know what you think so far!

Happy Reading Fibi

xxx

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Wisps of smog spun around her

Two days to go!!!

In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Snippet please find a little taster from Burning Embers below. I’m trying not hard to reveal spoilers and ruin the story, so it’s just a little teaser really and I hope that you enjoy it! Remember to comment below!

TWO DAYS TO GO! ARGH

The study was cosy in the approach to winter. Behind the High Priestess’ gilt chair was an arched window where the sun shone through, fracturing on the panes and scattering across the room. The perfume scent was thicker and Feia saw an incense holder in the shape of a sun, perched on the large desk that dominated the space. The fire was stoked to a roaring blaze and wisps of smog spun around her. The sounds of Temple life stirred beyond the door as it closed.

High Priestess Fraelyn was seated behind her desk. She was slender, her skin the parched porcelain colour of someone who rarely ventured outside, and her hair was tightly bound. Feia couldn’t help that think that if anyone looked like a ghost, it was the High Priestess. She struggled to keep the thought in check. She’d heard too many rumours that the Priestess would hear stray thoughts, that she had been a Seeker for the Champions of Light. That respect for this woman was the only thing that prevented the Knights from visiting the Temple.

Fraelyn stroked the edge of her desk with an absent gesture. The sun broke over the high back of her chair and washed her in a golden glow.

‘You know why you are here?’ It wasn’t really a question.

Feia nodded. The fireplace flickered beside her.

Remember – that there is a full short story from Arenith available on Instafreebie, make sure you get your copy of The Last Charter.

Happy Reading!

Fibi xx

Paperback Pre-Order! Woooo!

Second post of the day!

First of all, you might notice that you have been re-directed to FionaJeeves.com! There have been some changes and I’m working hard to update this new site to make it look beautiful.

Secondly – and even more exciting! It is with great delight and excitement that I can tell you that Burning Embers is now available to pre-order in paperback! Yes, that’s right Mum you can pop over to amazon to order the book and hold it in your hands.

Burning Embers  – Amazon

Book!

Please bear in mind that Amazon is currently showing the book as out of stock – this isn’t the case, it’s just on pre-order until the 1st of December.

In the middle of November the publishers will send Amazon all the books that have been ordered and Amazon will distribute them as usual. Exciting stuff!

I will also be selling signed copies from my fibijeeves! If you would like a signed copy you’re able to purchase it directly from me. Hooray!

Burning Embers for Pre-Order!

Thank you for sticking with me! For those who remain Loyal, despite the many many years of waiting…

Burning Embers is now available for pre-order! I repeat, this is not a drill, Burning Embers is available for pre-order! For someone who spends their life writing and living between sentences it is so hard to express just how excited I am about this!

So far the ebook version is available to pre-order until the 1st of December when it will be available for you to read in full.  You can purchase Burning Embers on Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Google with more to follow.

Look here it is! My book, on Amazon!

amazon

Ebooks are incredible and easy to transport, but Burning Embers will also be available in Printed format as well. As soon as pre-orders of the paperback are available I will let you know!

Calling all reviewers:

Would you like to review Burning Embers? If so drop me an e-mail at fibijeeves@gmail.com with your blog details and I’ll be happy to send you a copy!

Now for something completely different

There has been a change of plans…

Now, you may see this and roll your eyes. Gosh, she’s been absent for a while and here she is again, getting back on with the writing. Well, that is partly true, but I still have a plan and I’ve been keeping up the writing, just less of it!

First up, is that I’m going to be a Fibi-Mom – hooray! Short term it means that I’ve been coming home from work, and going to sleep, waking up for dinner, and going back to sleep. No really time for writing, and combined with a constant nausea, no concentration for it either. The best way I can describe it, is that it’s been like having the flu for a couple months. Thank you, new Inhabit (-ant. And there is my sly ping to the daily prompt!)

Long term, it means I worry about the time I will have in the future for writing and starting/finishing new projects and the projects that are currently in development. Mostly though, myself and Mr lovely are very excited.

But back to the writing – as I said, plans have changed. With Poisoned Well, I managed to write myself into a corner, or rather a brick wall. With 2000 words to go before I reach my original target and bam. No more words.

I think there are a few reasons for this and I’m going to try and explore them below, without giving any of the plot away. Because no one wants to know the end of the book before they start reading!

  1. I know that I’ll need to write a few thousand words beyond my original target. This is a positive thing and I’m pleased about it. It means that the story has developed and in order to tie it up, I just need a few more words. (Well a few thousand.)

Why would this stop me writing? – Because the goalpost has moved. Even if I reach my intended target, I’m not quite there yet. Then there is the editing (all of the editing) and the re-writing and the editing and I’m way way behind where I thought I would be and … and the guilt has made a return.

How to move on? I just need to start writing again. I’ll go back to my mini plan of doing 100 words, then maybe 200 and slowly, I’ll be chipping away at that word count! I’ll do it! Just, not this weekend because I’m seeing family. Wednesday. Wednesday next week will be my day to kick myself into writing mode for the poisoned well. There I’ve said it, I has to happen!

  1. I knew what was going to happen in the story. That at some point my protagonists were going to go from point D to E and X was going to happen. This was always going to be the ending of the narrative. I dreamt many of the details, conversations, scenes and emotional arcs between points A to B to C etc and all the little things that need to happen in the middle.

Why would this stop me writing? Well I KNEW that D to E and X was going to happen…but because I KNEW this…I didn’t put the extra thought into exactly what D to E entailed. How does that get underway, how many chapters does it take? If I write it in one, have I rushed the complete ending?

How to move on? Well, I’ve actually written the majority of D to E now, but it’s been an uphill struggle. Mr Lovely will argue that those struggles tend to give me my best writing, but…they’re still a struggle and having reached the crest of this particular hill, I felt exhausted.  I’ve needed to spend some time dreaming about what happens at E, and exactly how I visualise X. This is where the flu-symptoms and lack of concentration have been a particular hindrance. If I have a little day dream and try to work out what’s going on, quite frankly, I fall asleep. However, I’m now feeling better and I’m hopeful that I can finally devote some time to unpicking these important moments in the narrative and feel more confident writing them. Then it’s just the downhill slope to roll down.

Hopefully.

In other news, you can still pre-order the teeny tiny books where a piece of my flash-fiction is being publishes as part of an anthology! They’re so small! They would make perfect stocking fillers and the art work to accompany the flash fiction is gorgeous. Order a copy now, while you still can! They’re only £4.00 plus p&p. Third-Word

Look – it’s so tiny and cute!!!!

Finally, having reached the conclusion that Poisoned Well is going to take a bit longer…I’ve agreed something with myself. I’m going to self-publish Burning Embers, my fictional baby. Designs for the front cover are underway and will be shared as soon as possible- Sqeeeeee!

Watch this space for teasers from #BurningEmbers, and a publication date…

And on that bombshell…

Happy Writing

Fibi xxx

Novel Writing – Starting Somewhere

Writing a longer piece of fiction can feel like setting off on an unchartered ocean. I’ve hopefully compiled a few ideas to stop you feeling Adrift

So, you want to write a story? Not just any story, but the book you feel you’ve wanted to write for years? I would like to say I only have one piece of advice, but then this blog and series of posts with helpful hints and ideas would be arbitrary. So, this is perhaps the most important thing to piece of information. You can do it! What are you doing reading this blog, go write! – Wait, please don’t go! I have advice!

If you are writing an extended story, a novel, an epic ten-part series, or even a novella, you will probably recognise the push and pull of the paragraph above. If not, you’ll soon get used to it. From writing novels, or attempting to, I’ve found that I develop a love/hate relationship with the projects I’m undertaking. On the one hand, they’re just so darned exciting! On the other…when will it end?! Will all the effort even be worth it? What if no one likes it, what if no one except your mum ever reads it? What if you cannot be the next JK Rowling? Despair! Then fall back in love with the words, the story, your characters and the setting again and it’s the worst relationship ever.

This is going to be a series of blog posts about writing that book, or novel. It’s going to cover topics such as getting started, planning, characterisation, world building, editing and include writing prompts and a whole host of goodies. I hope you’ll join me for the ride and perhaps I can even provide something that will be helpful.

Now, I’ve written out a plan about planning – ironic. Yet, what I’m going to base this first post on, is Getting Started.

Now, before you open the cans labelled, ‘self-doubt’ and ‘crushing despair’ that I think writers tend to carry; as with any good relationship, it may be time to set some boundaries with your writing project.

Now, this isn’t, in any way, supposed to limit the scope of your project, and there will be a long discussion about ‘too much planning’ in my next post on this theme. However, I’ve learnt to set myself a few goals when it comes to approaching a new project. If you’re about to launch into yours, (or maybe you’ve already started?) are you able to answer the following questions?

  1. Who is your intended audience?

Child or Adult fiction? Young Adult or New Adult? Steam-punk lovers, or die hard sword and sorcery epic fantasy fans?

  1. What size project are you aiming for?

Is this going to be a gorgeous and concise piece of prose and a short story? What about a poem? Or does it need more space to breathe and could thrive as a novella (under 50,000 words -ish) or is it going to be a full- blown novel? If you’re thinking about publication, then as a rough guide for a debut novelist, you might want to aim for less than 90,000 words. Although, this doesn’t apply to all genres.

  1. If no one other than your mum reads it, is that okay?

Writing to complete a project takes a lot of investment. The most important thing that any of us has, is our time. If you’re going to invest several months of your time on this beautiful planet, hacking away at your keyboard, and wondering where the letter ‘N’ vanished off to (seriously, where has it gone?!) Then are you going to be alright if it isn’t a storming success?

There are a few lessons that I remember very clearly from creative writing courses and one of them is this. Write what you would love to read. This is probably going to dictate who your audience is as well. I love reading YA Fantasy, historical romance, sword and sorcery, old-fashioned crime fiction and children’s literature. What I end up writing is a strange mixture of those components.

At the end of the day, if I’m going to be living in the world I’m writing, it must be enticing – for me at least. Even if not for anyone else. There will be enough days when I don’t want to open the project document and get to work, so I aim to make the project as interesting as possible for myself. When you love something, it’s easier to be passionate about it and keep slugging away. It’s also easier for others to become excited about your enthusiasm and volunteer their own time to read your story.

If you’ve followed the rule of ‘write what you’d want to read’ and you’re pleased with the result; the chances are that you’ve created something where others can share your excitement.

  1. What is the question?

Stories need a question and they need it fast. Your reader will skim the first lines and decide if they’re going to follow you on this journey. To entice them down the rabbit hole, they need an initial question. Now, many stories will diverge brilliantly from the path I’ll set out now, but the way I approach a new project, is to work out the first question.

The first hurdle is the first paragraph. Why should they bother getting to the end? Therefore, it needs to be something intriguing enough to propel the reader into the first page. Then the first page pushes them into the first chapter… and we’ll get to chapter breakdowns in another post.

Now for some examples:

There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. – Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Isn’t that incredible?! This is the opening from Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which by the way, is a wonderful story. The first line! Now look at the questions we’re forced to ask. 1, what is a sad city? 2, what is the name of the city? 3, will the city find happiness? There are three immediate questions in 26 words and they’re enough to tempt me on…

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.  – Stephen King, The Gunslinger

Four questions in the opening twelve words. 1, who is the man in black? 2, who is the gunslinger? 3, will the gunslinger catch the man in black? 4, Do I want that to happen? Eeeek, I don’t know so I better keep reading!

  1. Don’t worry

Now I’ve raised all the talk about questions, I’m going to tell you step aside from any worry it’s created. The sudden surge of ‘am I asking a question in the first line? Is this a good enough question? What is a question?!’ Because this is just the beginning and the most important thing, is to just get writing. Make your start, aim for a question and forge ahead. After all, you’ve got forever to edit and to bring that opening sequence up to what you want it to be – but what you cannot do, is edit a blank screen.

I hope that this has been useful!  Let me know your favourite openings to novels, or even what you’re working on. I might even share the current opening of The Poisoned Well… I was so pleased that I managed to find a question that could carry the rest of the story along with it.

Happy Writing

Fibi

Title Revelations

Today’s Daily Prompt was: Measure which again is fortuitous. As I’m embarking on a new project in order to gauge and measure feedback on my writing. This is a new ambition, to create an entirely fiction ebook and publish it, setting it out into the world.

In my feverish excitement to start a new project, I’ve set myself some targets. The first will be realised today as I confirm the title of the project. Tadaaa! Then next month, I hope to reveal what will be the cover of the pending e-book. All things going to plan I should be able to confirm when the manuscript is complete, edited, reviewed and available. Eeek! Pressure is on! Especially as, although I’ve been very dutiful with my writing this week – I havn’t written as much for the new project as I intended to. I owe myself a word debt and I’d like to close that gap today. Wish me luck! I certainly have not spent the last hour flicking between youtube videos and then deciding to write this blog instead…
The schedule for this project was always going to be tight, am I’m sat here, writing now thinking oh my. Oh I really need to move those chapters along and get going if it’s going to come to fruition… I don’t want to write, or edit, or beta, and then edit in a panic. However, if my current lack of diligence continues, that’s where I’m going to be. Agh!
Right. I mean it. I’m going to write, I’m going to do it now. I’m going to start with 250 words and then I’m going to make myself a cup of tea. Then I’ll try another 250 and hopefully ease into what I owe the project. By the end of this weekend (thank goodness for long weekends!) I aim to be four chapters further into the text. That’s it. My newest goal – four chapters by the end of the weekend. I’ll let you know how that goes…
However, what I’m sure you’re all desperate and eager to know, is what I’m calling this project? I’m sure I’d like to know!
It’s called:

The Poisoned Well

Ooooooh, you say. Oooooooh!
The Poisoned Well will be approximately 50,000 words in length and perhaps a more commercial YA fantasy novella then I perhaps naturally write. It follows the journey of Lyris as she tries to complete her Quest and return home.
Here is an extract…
The twist of tunnels was endless and the first shout of alarm was raised. The echoed growl lifted the hairs on her arm and the back of her neck. Lyris couldn’t remember how far they’d dragged her through the dark or how long it had taken to wind through the abandoned mine. Were they lost, or did her rescuer know where he was going? Fright gnawed at her belly and made her legs tremble but she persisted. Scrabbling through the ceaseless pitch, tripping over uneven ground and arms stretched out; her fingers bruised along the craggy walls. When it seemed they’d been scrambling for hours, the air started to twist with sweetness and the suffocating damp began to fade.