Author Help Page Answers: Duncan M Hamilton

Today, Author Duncan M Hamilton is sharing his wisdom and experience with us. Thank you, Duncan! (He really has some great advice!)

You can find Duncan’s Amazon Author Page here:

http://www.amazon.com/Duncan-M.-Hamilton/e/B00BOUK5ZA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1438180933&sr=8-1

1. How did you decide to become an indie author?

I’ve been writing all my life, but always as a hobby, and never as something I thought I could make a living at. When a relative fell seriously ill, she said not to get to that point in your life with any regrets. Publishing one of the books I had written was my first thought. It was around the time self publishing was getting some media attention, so I decided to give it a try.

2. What genre do you write in and why?

I write in Fantasy. Historical fiction was always my thing, but I usually hit a road block when historical events wouldn’t allow my story to progress. For that genre, I’ve never liked the idea of playing free and easy with real events, so this was a bit of a problem. One day it struck me that making up my own history would not only help solve this, but would also be a lot of fun! I haven’t looked back!

3. What social media sites do you use and can you offer a tip for each one?

A WordPress based website and blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads author profile, and a Google Plus page that I never use. I’m not great at this stuff, so the main tip I’d suggest is the thing I rely on. I have my WordPress set up so my blog posts are automatically shared on the other sites, populating them with content and saving me a lot of effort!

4. How important is blogging to an indie author in your estimation?

In honesty, I don’t know. I don’t blog that often, and probably far less than I should, because it’s not something I’m particularly good at. When I do, it’s limited to book related news, and things that give me inspiration. I’ve always seen it as a resource for people who’ve already encountered my work to visit, rather than a tool to grow my audience. Not sure if this is the best approach or not. Probably not.

5. How do you go about getting reviews?

For my first book, I spent some time making a list of all the review sites and book bloggers that were open to my genre, then went about emailing them all (it took quite a while!). I mailed nearly two hundred sites, heard back from about 10, of which 4 ended up posting reviews, so it can be something of an uphill battle.

6. What do you price your books at and do you give away free copies?

They range from $2.99 to $5.99. I’ve given away some copies as part of promotions, but I don’t have a permanently free title.

7. Do you use a cover artist or make the cover yourself?

I use a cover artist. In my opinion, the cover is too important not to have expert input.

8. What do you do about editing?

I use professional editors.

9. What do you do when sales are slow to encourage more books to be sold?

Panic! Work harder to get another release ready sooner. This is something I really don’t have much of an answer for. There’s no silver bullet that I’m aware of. If you have one, I’m listening!

10. What do you know now, that you wish you had known before?

I can’t think of anything. There’s so much information out there for writers looking to venture into self-publishing, that a bit of time spent researching can cover most of the pitfalls before plunging in. As with anything, there are minor things I change and refine with each book, but they’re more matters of personal preference rather than anything substantive.

11. Do you use a mailing list or newsletter to promote?

Yes, I do. Conventional wisdom is that it’s pretty important. I can’t say with any certainty how helpful it’s been for me.

12. Any further advice, tips or tricks you think would help others?

If you hope to make a career out of this, behave professionally in all areas and at all times. Only release your work when it has the level of production quality you would expect from a book you buy.

13. Where do you sell the largest majority of your books and do you do just ebooks or print as well?

Amazon, with Kobo in second place. I have my novels available in print through print on demand.

Wonder Fire By B.J. Webster

Wonder FireWonder Fire by B.J. Webster

1666, was called “The Year of Wonders”, despite it being a year of great calamity and disaster in London. The joke was, at least things weren’t worse than they were.

Who really started the Great Fire of London? Nobody knows for certain. The official line is that it was started in a bakery on Pudding Lane. The Privy Council concluded that the fire was caused by nothing other than ‘the Hand of God, a great wind and a very dry season’. But what if that was not the case? Could the Great Fire, which destroyed so much of the City of London, have been the result of a deliberate act? Let’s assume this is the case and delve into the motives of ambition, illicit affairs, unrequited love and political intrigue, none which was a stranger to the court of King Charles II.

Feel what it was like to live in 1666 and better understand the intricacies of politics, power and class divide of the time. Be drawn in by the fascinating web of intrigue and how it plays out to create one of the most devastating events in history.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonder Fire by B.J. Webster, is an awesome book filled with historical knowledge as well as the author’s take on the happenings of London in 1666.

This is a great book for a variety of reasons. The setting was interesting and hasn’t been overused by other authors. The characters were realistic and I found the speech to be very authentically written. I want to shake this author’s hand.

I find that when you read a book that the author was really passionate about, it shows in their writing and this was definitely the case here. The author has written a beautiful book, but has also shown the true historical side of things. The depth of her research is clear in the little known facts available in this book.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Highly recommended to anyone curious about this period of history.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Trust No One by Paul Cleave

Trust No OneTrust No One by Paul Cleave

In the exciting new psychological thriller by the Edgar-nominated author of Joe Victim, a famous crime writer struggles to differentiate between his own reality and the frightening plot lines he’s created for the page.

Jerry Grey is known to most of the world by his crime writing pseudonym, Henry Cutter-a name that has been keeping readers at the edge of their seats for more than a decade. Recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of forty-nine, Jerry’s crime writing days are coming to an end. His twelve books tell stories of brutal murders committed by bad men, of a world out of balance, of victims finding the darkest forms of justice. As his dementia begins to break down the wall between his life and the lives of the characters he has created, Jerry confesses his worst secret: The stories are real. He knows this because he committed the crimes. Those close to him, including the nurses at the care home where he now lives, insist that it is all in his head, that his memory is being toyed with and manipulated by his unfortunate disease. But if that were true, then why are so many bad things happening? Why are people dying?

Hailed by critics as a “masterful” (Publishers Weekly) writer who consistently offers “ferocious storytelling that makes you think and feel” (The Listener) and whose fiction evokes “Breaking Bad reworked by the Coen Brothers”(Kirkus Reviews), Paul Cleave takes us down a cleverly twisted path to determine the fine line between an author and his characters, between fact and fiction.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this book had a really interesting premise and was excited about it–but wasn’t as excited after I started reading it. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly didn’t love it as much as some of the other reviewers have.

I expected that the story might be a bit difficult to follow based on the idea that the main character had Alzheimer’s, but that wasn’t really too bad. What bothered me was that it seemed like this story would get going for a bit and become exciting and then drop off into useless exposition again–just because. Perhaps that was just my interpretation of the story, but I felt like the harshness of the coarse language was only there for shock value, and not that it really added anything valuable to the story.

This is interesting, but I viewed it in a rather removed sort of way, as there were no characters I felt close to, nor any that I really desired to get to know better.

Overall, it wasn’t a book that I think everyone will love, but one that I would recommend to those who like to read things outside the box.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway

Sisters of Heart and SnowSisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway
Rachel and Drew Snow may be sisters, but  their lives have followed completely different paths.

Married to a wonderful man and a mother to two strong-minded teens, Rachel hasn’t returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet and longs for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Hikari, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachel’s domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.

In a rare moment of lucidity, Hikari asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sister’s help in the search. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel’s relationship that resonate across the centuries, connecting them in ways that turn their differences into assets.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written and deeply thoughtful story. With dual tales in this novel, one set long ago in the twelfth century and one set in the current day, this book has a lot to offer to both those who love contemporary writing and for those who love historical books.

Margaret Dilloway keeps getting better with every novel she writes. I was not only impressed with her dialogue in this book as it was easy to read and believable, but also with the unusual family dynamics she creates for her characters. This author gives you a reason to want to continue with her books from the very first page.

When reading this, I found that I became very involved in the story of Tomoe, wanting to know more early on. The descriptions used for the setting were wonderful and made it easier to visualise the story. I like the parallels between the modern story and that of the Shogun period.

This book made me smile, made me cry and in the end and is a novel that I happily recommend to others. Margaret Dilloway is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors and a name I automatically associate with above-average fiction.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Mirror Interview with Tim Therien

“Mirror, Mirror on the ceiling…”

Now that I have your attention, I don’t actually have a mirror on the ceiling. In fact, the only mirror in my apartment is the one in the bathroom. I take a quick look at myself once a day to make sure I’m presentable to the world, other than that I avoid mirrors with the fervor of a vampire. After reading the clever, witty and intelligent “mirror interviews” featured her at “Readful Things” I have to admit to being a little intimidated. For starters I am not a big fan of tooting my own horn. If I took tooting my own horn I might just have to get that mirror for the ceiling. That said; let’s get on to the crux of it, shall we?

On Poetry

Poetry is very near and dear to me and perhaps I will always be a Poet first and a Writer second. I do make a distinction between the two. Both may be mediums of the written word, but I believe Poetry is more akin to Music than to Prose, especially in its connection to the soul. While Prose may be poetic, it does not make it Poetry.

I am a big proponent of writing in Form, or at least having the ability to do so. I don’t think someone should be able to call themselves a Poet without first being able to express themselves in at least one of the Fixed Forms of Poetry. I am not anti-Free Verse, in fact most of what I have written was without thought of form, but I do believe most Free Versed Poems would have been better served being put into Prose.

On Writing

I take writing very seriously, probably more seriously than I should. I was almost illiterate when I left school at age 15 and taught myself to read and write. I take great pride in that accomplishment. People have called me a “Natural Talent,” but they did not witness the long hard years I’ve dedicated to this craft. It has taken more than thirty years to get from barely being able to fill out a job application to penning these words you now read. This in my mind is not talent, but perseverance. Writing has been my Life’s Labour and my Life’s Love.

Writing is so much more than sitting in a room and putting pen to paper. That is only a small part of it. The bulk of writing is living life, experiencing things, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. It is these things that allow the Writer to relate to the reader. If someone cloistered themselves off from the world and wrote, none but the humble hermit would identify to the words.

The best advice I’ve ever received concerning writing would have to be “write like you speak.” It was in applying this advice to my writing that I discovered my literary voice. If I were to impart this advice myself, I would expand upon it and say “write what you think, but write like you speak.” In my opinion, just as important as literary voice is to a writer so too is the ability to express the things that are oft not expressed. Also I would tell the would-be writer to challenge themselves in all things writing. Lastly, write with the Reader in mind, but write the story you want to read.

On Editing

I am not a big fan of editing and not too long ago I refused to edit anything I had written outside of spelling errors and typos. I wanted to remain as true to the essence of what I had written as I humanly could. I do believe a lot of the soul of a piece of writing can be lost in the editing process. I write from the heart and rely on my gut and editing in my mind puts both into doubt. Editing is a game of second guessing ourselves and our instincts.

I have since moved on that position, at least as far as prose is concerned, but I still try to keep as much of that original draft intact as I can. I would call what I do now “Shading” and not editing. It is more akin to the artist who works in charcoal, first outlining his form and then filling it in to give it depth and three dimensions. The original lines remain, even if they have been shaded over.

On Marketing

I think it’s ridiculous to think that a writer must personally interact with every reader and potential reader out there. Really, it is unrealistic for an author with even a modest bit of success to be at the beckon call of their target market. It puts too much pressure on a writer. It also takes up too much time, time which could be better used to relate to the reader the way a writer should relate to a reader, through the written word, through Storytelling and through Poetry.

Writing, for me, has never been about commercial success. Truth is I am resigned that my success, if I am to have it, will most likely come after I have departed from this world. Many great and beloved writers have been misunderstood, even loathed in their own lifetimes. For me, my success will be measured by the ability of my words to stand the test of time.

I am not a big fan of self-promotion. It is, I’m afraid, a necessary evil for the self-published author, but it still feels like I’m pimping myself out and prostituting myself when I engage in the practice. So how then to gain exposure without selling my soul? This is something I haven’t found an answer for. I have contented myself with the belief that if I write something and if I put it out there and if it is truly worthy it will find its way into the hands and hearts of the Reader. That is a lot of ifs, but Life is full of ifs.

On Future Works

Since my move back to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after over a decade in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, things have been very hectic. I have spent most of the summer working on a book of Poetry (“Crossing Main”) and a Romance (“Forever: The First Epoch”) simultaneously and haven’t been getting very far with either. My life has settled down a little now and I have turned my focus to the Romance until November 1st when I will turn my attention to and again take part in NaNoWriMo to write the second installment of “The Scrolls of Sion.” I have also couple of other projects on the back burner that will see light at the first opportunity.

In 2015, at least two books can be expected from me. “The Scrolls of Sion: Broken Bloodlines” and “Forever: The First Epoch.” If at all possible I will also publish “Crossing Main.” Beyond that, I cannot say.

The opinions expressed here reflect the man in the mirror, me and no one else. In no way is what I say a reflection, or judgement of anyone else. In closing, I would like to thank Ionia for having me here on her wonderful blog.

Links to Books

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/434284

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-scrolls-of-sion-t-j-therien/1119459677

Links to Blogs

http://insidethepoetsmind.wordpress.com/

http://thescrollsofsion.wordpress.com/

Writing exercise # 2 and # 3

My life would have turned out so much differently if only I had not _____________.

 

Fill in the blank. See if you can write a paragraph, or fit this in to a WIP that you are stuck on.

 

Come up with five to ten descriptive words. Then use antonyms of them to write a paragraph.

Opposites are a fun and creative way to get your mind working.

 

Who is the tallest man you have ever seen? What if he were the shortest?

What was the worst thing you’ve ever eaten? What was the best?

Writing exercise

We all need a little help once in a while getting our brains moving in the “write” direction. So please stay tuned for a series of simple writing exercises you can use to get your mind going, or as a primer for your daily work on your WIP. Feel free to come back and drop a line to let me know what you came up with:)

 

Write 9 random alphabet letters in your journal or onscreen. Then use those letters, in the random order you wrote them, to build a sentence, the first letter of each word matching the letters you chose.

 

Here is an example:

 

G  Y  T  R B W P A  F

Gifford Young tried really bad wing-sauce, putrid, awful food.

 

Have fun with it and remember that to write well, you must be willing to write poorly first.

 

 

The Blood of an Englishman by M.C. Beaton

The Blood of an Englishman: An Agatha Raisin Mystery (Agatha Raisin, #25)The Blood of an Englishman: An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you have not read any of the Agatha Raisin Mysteries yet, up to and including this one, you need to get caught up!

I loved this book. There is a healthy dose of humour all the way through it and the characters are not only memorable, but a lot of fun. I love unique mysteries where you feel as though you haven’t read it all before in one form or another. M.C. Beaton has a way of making everything that happens feel like it is original.

If you are a fan of the cozy mystery, this will satisfy you without being overly ‘precious’ or silly. I enjoyed watching the events unfold as the story was told and going through the process with the main character. The story takes plenty of unexpected turns and will leave you wanting the next book right now!

This is a fun book that will keep you guessing. I like characters with big personalities and Agatha Raisin is certainly one to fit in that category.

**Having an actual Englishman read this book aloud to you may also increase your chances of loving it, but is not necessary for enjoyment:)

Highly recommended, five stars well deserved.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Mirror Interview #7: Katie Sullivan

Katie Sullivan

Katie Sullivan

It was a nice change, talking to myself as me, instead of talking to myself under the guise of my character/muse/monster, the druid known as D.

 

Give those who may not know Changelings: Into the Mist a snapshot of the story.

Irish teens Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew are lost to time. Lured from the abbey they call home by the vision of a warrior shadowed by mist, they are tossed between pirates led by Grace O’Malley in 1584 and revolutionaries dreaming of a new republic in 1916 Dublin. To return home, they must defeat the man – the myth – responsible for their misadventures: the tyrannical Faerie king, Nuada Silver Arm. Maureen and Sean are the strongest Changelings in one thousand years, and the king would rather the last of the descendants of Man and Fae remain lost to time forever. Aiding them is the man in the mist: Dubh an Súile mac Alasdair is a warrior-priest to a people 1300 years-dead and the only Changeling the king could not break. With his help, Maureen and Sean will learn to accept the magic in their blood, defy the king who would enslave them, and claim their place in their own time.

When is it available?

Good lord, self, I think you might be channeling D.

Oh dear – my apologies. I wasn’t being facetious; I do think it’s fascinating. Of course, I could be biased. So, about that release date…?

Changelings: Into the Mist will be released on November 11, 2014 on Amazon, Barns & Noble and others (a full list will be available on my website and blog). It will be available electronically as well as in print.

Am I invited to the release party?

Really?

Had to ask.

Indeed. And before you beg: yes, you are invited.

Is this a stand-alone or a series?

It is one of two books. Changelings: The Coming Storm will continue (and conclude) Maureen and Sean’s tale. There are one-to-two more books that belong to this particular universe, and timeline, but there are other stories clamoring for my attention. Plus, a break from time-travel might be beneficial for my brain!

How does D feel about that?

Um, I haven’t told him.

Hmm… that’s going to be an interesting day on the blog. So, how did you meet your characters? Were you introduced, did they demand your attention in some innocuous place, or have you known them so long that you can no longer remember life without them?

Sean and Maureen happened upon me during mass when I was 13 or 14. I was day-dreaming, and so was Maureen. Except, during her daydream, she saw a time vortex in the church ceiling. She whispered the rest of her adventures with Sean throughout the next three years.

D was later given to me by my ex-husband. He liked the story, but said someone was missing and told me about this mysterious Druid who lurked at the edges of Maureen and Sean’s adventures. I agreed and stuck the Druid into the story, but since D and I did not get along – compounded by the fact I could not “see” him clearly – it went nowhere.

10 years later, I went to a movie, was inspired by the actor in it and was gifted with a vision of D. The book was completely rewritten 9 months later and D and I started a blog in the meantime. Sean and Maureen are all grown now, and I almost feel like their mother: I’m so proud of where they’ve ended up, and I know I finally did justice to their story.

Which of your characters can you identify with the most?

Maureen, hands down. Maureen was what I wanted to be. I was a shy kid with big, rebellious ideas; it was easy to live vicariously through her. Eventually, I would follow my dreams and move to Ireland, and get over some of that inertia and shyness. I like to think that I, in turn, helped temper her, um, more rash tendencies when I re-wrote the story.

Yeah, rash. That’s a good word to describe that young lady. Anyway, do you have a least favorite character in Changelings?

It would be too easy to say D is my least favorite character, but in truth, he’s my favorite. We just tend to butt heads because he is so … so … infuriating and dramatic and grand and stubborn and…

We get the idea.

Right. Anyway, my least favorite character isn’t even the main villain. It’s a secondary character, Mrs. Mallory, who basically ran the show in the 1916 portion of the story. She was neither easy to write, nor a particularly savory character. Sean and Maureen, while not her responsibility, are in her care, and she puts them into a very awkward and dangerous situation.

If you were in the same situation as your characters, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure I would do anything differently. Some of this story is “what would I do if I were suddenly transported back in time?” The answer: have a grand adventure. I hope I would be stronger than Maureen, more easily able to resist the pull of certain situations, but my younger self would not have been!

So basically you’re saying you’re a reckless—

Oi! Spoilers.

Oh, sorry! What makes you uniquely qualified to write Changelings?

I’m what my father calls the ‘throwback’ member of the family. I got on really well with the older generation of relatives that had come over from Ireland in the 20s, and I took many of their stories to heart. I moved to Ireland when I was 18 and married an Irishman, but even before that I was studying Irish history, the political situation and my family’s connection to it. My grandfather left because of the Civil War in the 20s, and my mother is an O’Malley – and claims kinship with Grace O’Malley. I grew up basically considering myself the child of pirates and revolutionaries.

Good lord. Well, that’s all I have for you today, Ms. Sullivan.

Why, thank you, self. That was a lovely interview.

Don’t just thank me.

Of course not – many thanks to Ionia Martin for hosting us today – and thank you to all of you for reading!

The D/A Dialogues – a blog about the sometimes-fractious relationship between an author and the character in her head as they go about writing a book together.