Tuesday
Mar032015

Indie Tuesday - Writer Amy Dupire

Well, it might be late into the evening, but it's still Tuesday where I live, so that means it's Indie time here at kc dyer central. And this week, for your edification and enjoyment, please allow me to present my friend and sister in skribe-duggery [that's a thing, dontcha know...] Amy Dupire.

I knew Amy for a long time on-line before I met her in person, and that's how we mostly keep it, as we live a good distance apart. But her name has come up again and again in my life, as she has regularly won a spot for herself atop the Surrey International Writers' Conference winners' lists. She is a joyous storyteller with a lovely subversive edge, and just last year joined the Indie community with her YA book ALL KINDS OF HELL. I have always enjoyed reading anything that's come out of her pen, and so, without further ado, I'm going to share her with you now!

kc:   So, Miss Amy, are you an outliner or a seat-of-the-pantser when it comes to writing your books?

AD: I’m definitely a seat-of-my-pantser when I’m writing short stories. If I have a small glimmer of inspiration I can start. It’s just a tiny flame, and I kindle it as I walk along, and it sheds enough light so that I can keep writing for a while and then bring a story to a close. For longer works, I find that I get anxious if I don’t have something of an outline. Right now I’m working on a novel that I’ve broken into four major parts. It started with just the glimmer and a couple of chapters, but then I needed to actually light some torches of plot points from it before I felt safe charging off into the woods of this particular novel. I actually used this method to write my novel All Kinds of Hell.

kc:    Why Indie publishing instead of the traditional route?

AD:  I didn’t plan to get into Indie publishing, but it was something that more or less happened to me. I began by Indie publishing a collection of my award-winning short stories. My agent said that selling short story collections, particularly from unpublished authors, was a non-starter. She wouldn’t be able to sell it, she said. So, with the encouragement from other writers, both traditional and Indie-published, I went for it and published my collection god-thing: and other weird & worrisome tales. With that done, I decided to Indie publish my novel All Kinds of Hell. This novel had all kinds of promise for the traditional route, and several acquisitions editors at major publishing houses took them to acquisitions meetings but eventually turned it down. My agent and I were both discouraged about that, and after she gave up on shopping it, I decided to self publish it. I still second-guess myself sometimes on that decision. I wonder if I shouldn’t have shopped it to some of the small publishing houses that my agent didn’t pitch it to, honestly.

kc:   Can you tell us your favourite part of the publishing process?

AD: I love writing. I just do. That’s where the magic is for me. After the publications, I love doing author reads and meet-and-greets. The actual gears and mechanics of the publishing part I don’t actually care for. Oh—except for one part. I love the graphic artist I work with. I feel extremely fortunate to work with Grace A. Griffin. She’s a miniaturist and website designer. She read my books and proposed cover ideas (I suggested my own as well), then when she showed me the mock-up covers, I was blown away.  Uh, I’m not sure that was the expected answer to this question, but I bet it would also be one of the delightful elements of going the traditional route—seeing what the production team came up with for a cover.

kc:  What was the inspiration for this particular story?

AD: At the risk of navel-gazing as well as sounding cliché, I was inspired by my own life experiences for All Kinds of Hell. I was transitioning out of a staunch brand of Evangelical Christianity and working through the frustration and anger and guilt of everything related to that time. It was second nature to write of a teen girl who had been drawn in to fundamentalist religion and wanted to save everyone else around her because that had been me once. At the same time, it was easy to write from the perspective of Joely, who really struggles with her sister’s dramatic conversion because I found myself at war, very often, with my own beliefs.

I’m really pleased with how I managed to develop this story. I’m also proud that I have heard from very conservative Christians as well as religious moderates and atheists and people from all sorts of perspectives, and they’ve often mention how really fair and compelling they find the book. I’m really happy about that.

kc:  Do you have a preferred format for your books? E-book vs paperback?

AD: I love paperbacks, myself. When I’m doing author visits or readings, people want to see and hold the books. I find the prep work for e-books in all their various formats to be exceeding tedious, and I absolutely loathe it. I provide e-books because they sell and many people like the convenience. I don’t generally read e-books. I spend so much time on a screen for my work that I want reading a book to be an escape both from the real world and from electronics. (Am I old?)

kc: Um, NO. How 'bout telling us about a favourite review one of your stories has received?

AD: I was really blown-away that Diana Gabaldon promoted god-thing on her Methodone List, so that will go down in my own personal lore. As for All Kinds of Hell, I’m afraid I don’t have much in the way of published reviews, but one reviewer on Amazon said All Kinds of Hell was “The perfect YA novel for smart teens. The story is not a religion book. It's an intriguing story about two teens during the aftermath of a car crash. One turns to hardcore religion; the other is a skeptic. Like the best YA work, it suits adults, too.” That was pretty gratifying.  I’m always grateful for any review I get!

kc: Well, hopefully this interview will inspire your readers to get out there and write a review. It's free, easy and everybody benefits, right? Do it!

Thanks so much to the lovely Amy Dupire for taking the time to answer my questions. If you'd like to read ALL KINDS OF HELL or browse through the stories in GOD THING, you'll find them right HERE.

And if you'd enjoy winning a copy of her book, 'Like' this post on Facebook for a chance to win!

As always, keep your eye on this spot for

More soon...!

 

~kc

Tuesday
Mar032015

GRAPE winners!

Hey!

I've been SO immersed in copyedits for FINDING FRASER that I just lifted my head and realized it's Tuesday already! The post for the winners of the GRAPE books -- so generously donated by author Laura Bradbury -- should have gone up yesterday.

No fear -- here it is right now!

And without further ado, he winners are...

Laura Scott and Yilin Wang!

Winners, please contact Laura Bradbury at Laura@laurabradbury.com asap to make arrangements to receive your prizes. And thanks again to the amazing Laura Bradbury for participating!

Now, stay tuned, and this week's Indie Tuesday will be posted shortly.

More [very!] soon...

 

~kc

Saturday
Feb282015

FINDING FRASER update #2

Goood eeeeevening.

Just thought I'd take a wee break from copy-editing the manuscript to pop in and say hello.

Hello!

Much has happened on the FFF [FINDING FRASER front] since last we spoke on the subject. As you may remember, I am currently working on the copyedits.

For those of you unfamiliar with this process, I thought you might like just a little taste.

As noted in update #1, this book has gone through a rigorous editorial process. It is in pretty good shape already. However, as everyone who has ever published a book knows, there is NO ONE more important than a good copy-editor to get the job done properly. In the olden days, manuscripts used to be marked up by the editor and sent back and forth through the mail, but since I've been writing books, we pretty much always do it digitally. That is, the author emails the ms to the editor, who does his or her thing and sends it back. I write my books using a software program called Scrivener, but all the editorial is usually done in Word, via a tool called 'Track Changes'.

So, just for fun, here's a peek at what part of my manuscript looked like when I got it from my copy-editor:

Yeah, those green bits are the changes I need to make or discard.

Just to be clear, I had a peek at the meta-data behind the file. More than 6,000 edits on a 100,000 word manuscript.

Now, this includes both text and layout, so not only is every word checked, but the alignment of every sentence, the spacing and consistency of every piece of punctuation, and in this particular book the many, many vagaries in font and format. Still...

!!!

If it isn't obvious by now, I'll say it. I have the world's best copy-editor. Mary Ellen Reid is a writer, and a reader and a seller of books, and she knows how seriously I am taking this project. How lucky am I that she's turned her eagle-eyes to this task?

Because here's the thing. In my experience, this is one of the pieces -- perhaps THE most important piece -- where it's possible to get it wrong as an Indie author. It is seriously easy to put down the words, slap them into a file and upload into an ebook these days. But so many -- far too many -- writers rush through to get their words on the page and the book into print, either digitally or via print-on-demand without taking the extra steps to make sure the finished result comes out the way it should. And so often the appearance of the final product reflects this process.

Even after having FOUR sets of editorial eyes on this book, I know we're going to miss something. And I don't mind that, really, because perfection should only be reserved for the Gods, yes?

But I'll tell you, after this process, we are not going to miss MUCH! And I hope the book is all the better a read for you, because of it.

I also hope you are enjoying the blog posts of other Indie authors that appear on Tuesdays. So far we've heard from the wonderful Ev Bishop, James McCann, and Laura Bradbury. Make sure you tune in for a chance to win a book from one of these amazing writers each week! I'll put up a post with the winners of Laura Bradbury's books in the next day or so, and you can look forward to yet another amazing Indie tale on March 3!

I love hearing your thoughts and comments. You can give me your take in the section below, or find me on Facebook and Twitter. And as always,

 

More soon...!

 

~kc

Tuesday
Feb242015

Indie Tuesday -- Writer Laura Bradbury

Hola! This week we have an Indie celebrity in our midst, in the form of Laura Bradbury.

Laura's forte is the self-published memoir -- and what a story she has to tell! It is filled with romance, intrigue, anxiety, high comedy and a whole lotta wine. Laura's 'Grape' stories are must-reads, and the reading community is getting the message. She's continually posting huge sales, as more people discover her warm, whimsical story-telling style.

Laura's also extremely generous with her hard-won knowledge and has really been helping me in my efforts to get FINDING FRASER out into the world. Let's hear a bit about her experiences, shall we? She's got a lot to share, so I suggest you get a cup of tea -- or a glass of wine! -- and enjoy!

kc:     Are you an outliner or a seat-of-the-pantser when it comes to writing your books?
LB:     I am definitely more of a pantser. I believe planning a book is easier with memoir than with fiction. Each of my 'Grape' books covers approximately one year of our lives when we were buying and renovating a specific property in France so there is a very clear cut beginning and end point each time. Initially, I make a rough Excel spreadsheet  of bare-boned scene ideas. Then I write a quick and dirty ESRD (Epically Sh!tty Rough Draft) based on these scenes. The more I write the more my memory is jogged so I add a lot of scenes en route. Then I do a BIG edit where I break the ESRD into chapters and add in new ones I realize are missing (usually about one third of the total scenes). I am lucky that I have a crazy-good long term memory. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, but the taste of blackcurrant in that glass of wine I drank fifteen years ago? I TOTALLY remember every detail.
My next project after My Grape Year (the third book in my “ Grape” series) is a paranormal romance trilogy involving mermaids and fishermen. I suspect I will have to dramatically tweak my writing processs and do a more detailed outline for fiction writing. However, the way I learn things is simply by doing them (verus reading about them or having someone teach them to me) and figuring out what works for me through trial and error. I know outlining will be something I will have to force myself to do though, as I am highly resistant to organization! 

 

kc:     Why did you choose this title?

LB:     The Grape Series all have “Grape" in the title I.e. My Grape Year, My Grape Escape, My Grape Village. The Grape is the emblem of all of our vacation rentals in Burgundy (which we call Grape Rentals www.graperentals.com). It is natural, authentic, honest, tied to the earth, and something humble that has the potential to be transformed into something sublime (wine). I liked the play on words with Grape / Great and also having “ My Grape…" repeated in my titles is a homage to the wonderful “Little House” series that was my first exposure to memoir and one of the first series I fell for as a child. I love this quote which struck me so forcibly when my mother first read my sister and I the “The Little House in The Big Woods” when I was around seven: 
When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, “What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?”

“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,” Pa said. “Go to sleep, now.”

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the fire-light gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself, “This is now.”

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago. 
 
This to me sums up the magic quality of memoir – when my mother read us that book I was Laura Ingalls. Books allow you to live so many additional lives.  

 

kc:     Do you have a favourite genre to read -- or write -- in? What draws you in that direction?
LB:     My “comfort” genre is probably Regency Romance at the moment. I love Georgette Heyer and Jo Beverly in particular. I avoid reading memoir when I am writing memoir as I always worry about absorbing someone else’s voice. As an English Literature undergrad I went through years of being incredibly snobby about my reading –  I would only deign to read highbrow literary fiction that was shortlisted for the Booker, Orange, or the Giller. However, by my fourth year of my BA I actually stopped reading altogether. I just couldn’t handle one more obliquely drawn character that I couldn’t invest in emotionally (no matter how beautiful the language) or one more story about the holocaust or incest. Highbrow literature at that period was overwhelmingly depressing.
I didn’t start reading again until my sister Suzanne insisted I read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I was so hooked that I am embarrassed to say I actually read Outlander and Dragonfly In Amber at stoplights on the way to taking my kids to preschool (NOT ADVISED). I still believe Diana’s books should come with some sort of FDA addiction warning like on cigarette packages. Thanks to Outlander, it finally hit me that what made me fall in love with books and reading in the first place was the craft of storytelling. I wanted to be transported to another place and often another time. I wanted to be invested in the lives of the characters. I wanted escape. I wanted emotion. I wanted imagination.   

 

kc:     This book is part of a series -- where do you plan to go next?

LB:     The “Grape” series will have six books in total: MY GRAPE YEAR, MY GRAPE PARIS, MY GRAPE ESCAPE, MY GRAPE VILLAGE, MY GRAPE TOWN, and MY GRAPE BABY, plus a few of what I think of as “Memoir-ettes” (novella length memoirs): 'My Grape Wedding', 'My Grape Cellar' (not akin to Twenty Shades of Grey, but rather about the 13th century wine cellar we renovated under the streets of Beaune), etc.. As you can see I do not write them in order. Whichever story is yelling at me the loudest is the one that gets written next.  See above re: my visceral resistance to linear thinking.

My paranormal romance trilogy is definitely a trilogy and the first book is about 85% written, although it needs a serious overhaul. I will probably finish the first book in this series once I finish My Grape Year, although it will really depend on which story is shouting the loudest at me then! I have to say I am intimidated to turn from memoir to fiction, as I know it will be a steep learning curve. That terrifies me and thrills me in equal measure. 

 

kc:     Why Indie publishing instead of the traditional route?

LB:     I actually wrote a blog about exactly this topic and here is the list of reasons why self-publishing was the right choice for me:

  1. I am incurably impatient
  2. I like being my own boss and want to choose my collaborators
  3. I had several ideas re: how to launch / market my first book
  4. I actually enjoy marketing / social media
  5. I had a web presence already built up thanks to graperentals.com
  6. Aspects of my books (i.e. my struggles with panic attacks / anxiety) didn’t “fit” with mainstream publishing. Several agents were interested in taking on My Grape Escape but they all wanted me to remove any mention of my mental health struggles. I felt my story would be inauthentic without this honesty, and I also felt removing them would be a betrayal of myself and anyone out there who also lives with any mental health issue. I wanted to show how it is not necessary to eliminate or “cure” life’s many challenges in order to live a rich, incredible existence.   
  7. I wasn’t prolific when I began, but definitely writing more and faster was a goal. I felt I had far more than one book in me - self–publishing doesn’t work as well for people who only want to publish one or two books – although like everything, there are exceptions. 
  8. I am happiest when working on projects from beginning to end. I’m definitely a “project person”
  9. I have ongoing health issues (a rare auto-immune disease of the liver and bile ducts known as PSC which means I will need a liver transplant sooner rather than later) that meant I did not want / need stress of having to meet other people’s deadlines and expectations.
  10. I have an allergy to authority in any form 
  11. I wanted to donate 10% of all my after-tax writing-related earnings to PSC Partners for researching PSC.

kc:     What's your favourite part of the publishing process? Why?

LB:     Writing a book is a hell of a slog. Still, there is something epic in the feat of writing a book that appeals to me - a bit like climbing Everest or rowing across the Pacific. Most days I write because I force myself, but there are moments when my imagination takes flight or I come up with an evocative turn of phrase or the perfect tempo of dialogue and I feel as though I have been plugged into a force way bigger and more awe–inspiring than myself. I call this "communing with The Great Mysterious". These moments are generally fleeting, and I can also experience them when by the ocean, eating a particularly scrumptious cheese, spending time with my family, meditating, or doing other creative work – painting, making beach glass mobiles, etc. but I get them fairly regularly when writing and they always leave me with a sensation of grace and oneness with the universe.  Who doesn’t need more of that? 

Also when the box of paperbacks arrive for of latest book…holy moses is that ever satisfying! Worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears! 

 

kc:     Do you have a preferred format for your books? E-book vs paperback?
LB:     It is ironic that probably around 90% of my writing revenue comes from Ebooks (mainly Kindle) but I actually cannot stand reading books on any sort of screen. I am a diehard lover of paperbacks. For me, the tactile experience of reading  an actual book - paperback or hardcover - is like a sacred ritual. Besides, I already spend a lot of time in front of the screen writing and doing my social media stuff.  However, I have many girlfriends who are complete converts to ebooks and are permanently attached to their Ipad Kindle app or their Kindle. For them, the ebook thing actually has them reading way more.  It’s a personal preference and I keep my mind open. I love my Kindle readers. 
kc:     What's a favourite review one of your stories has received?
LB:    Here is a nice one that was posted just a few days ago on Amazon.com for My Grape Escape: "As an avid reader of mainly non-fiction I was thrilled to find this author. As the book started I thought ho hum - yet another story about France, renovating the dilapidated house, etc...... However, after a few pages I was hooked. I agonized and laughed with the author till the end. Found her to be refreshingly open about her state of mind. Has a unique gift of describing situations and people. Immediately got the follow up book.”
I especially love the ones where people tell me how my honesty about my struggles with anxiety disorder made them feel less alone with their own struggles in life – mental or otherwise. These always strike a chord with me and make me so glad I decided to stay true to myself, keep my book honest, and self-publish. 

 

kc:     Can you name a favourite Indy author or two, and recommend a book?

Well, I am VERY excited about kc dyer’s upcoming “Finding Fraser”! I cannot wait to get my hands on the paperback of that. Martin Crosbie does lovely memoirs and his blogs about self-publishing are always so generous and helpful. I also love pretty much everything Chuck Wendig writes and he is a stellar advocate for writers everywhere. There are so many talented, insightful Indie authors out there…

kc:     And to finish, can you give your best advice to someone starting out?

LB:     I would say the #1 piece of advice would be – FINISH! I kept writing and rewriting the first book in my paranormal romance trilogy for about a decade but could never finish. Then came the day I was diagnosed at age 39 with PSC and all of a sudden I was living with a rare, serious, and possibly terminal illness. My life completely changed in that instant. I started writing My Grape Escape the next morning and vowed to finish. I learned more in finishing and publishing My Grape Escape than I did in ten years of almost finishing my other writing projects. Resist the siren’s call of other projects until you finish your current one. It is as difficult as Odysseus and the Sirens at times, but put cotton balls in your ears, a huge sign beside your keyboard…whatever it takes - FINISH.
My word-warrior motto is Write. Finish. Share. Repeat.  Here is a printable of that if you need a reminder http://laurabradbury.com/2015/01/28/the-word-warrior-mantra/  Laura Bradbury
Also, I try to give myself a word count goal every day whether writing or editing. Usually it is 2000 words. There are many days where I don’t hit it – days when I am hospitalized because of my PSC, days when my three kids have caught contagious diarrhea, days when it is sunny out
side and I simply must go beachcombing…life happens, but having a goal is something to shoot for. 
Holy crow. Didn't I tell you Laura was great? Forget a font -- she is a RESEVOIR of great information...and inspiration, too.
Thank you, Laura, for taking part and for sharing your story so candidly. If you'd like to jump on the Bradbury Grape Bandwagon -- and who doesn't? -- you can find her books HERE.
But first -- here's a chance to actually win a copy! Laura has offered a copy of each of her GRAPE titles, so we have two books up for grabs this week. So let's do it this way -- first RT on Twitter that links to this blog post, and first 'Like' on FB when this post hits my page will each win a copy of one of Laura's titles.
Ready -- set -- GRAPE!
More soon...
~kc

 

Monday
Feb232015

RANCOR -- winners!

Time to congratulate the winners of last week's 'Indie Tuesday' contest! Winners were vying for a copy of James McCann's book RANCOR.

There was a real flood of entries, so as a special bonus, we gave copies to two Facebook entries and two Twitter entries.

And so, without further ado the winners are...

Ev Bishop, Rob MacDonald, Edith Lalonde and Anne Wallace Altizer.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You can drop James an email at James@JamesMcCann.info to get your prize! 

Watch this space tomorrow, as our special 'Indie Tuesday' guest will be Laura Bradbury, the autobiographical self-publishing phenom! We'll have more book giveaways, too, so stay tuned!

More soon...

 

~kc