Ending the year with good news!

Season’s greetings!

With everyone winding down now for a well-deserved break, some by the fire and some on the beach, I am humbled to announce three pieces of great news for my writing.

Firstly, “A Life Singular – Part One” has been judged a Notable Indie Book in the 2014 Shelf Unbound Writing Competition (http://issuu.com/shelfunbound/docs/shelf_unbound_december-january_2015), and I have the badge to prove it!Badge notable

Secondly, I was privileged to feature on the Books of Excellence radio show hosted by Bonnie Kaye in Philadelphia.  The interview can be heard at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bonnie-kaye/2014/12/15/books-of-excellence-with-author-bonnie-kaye

And thirdly, it was my pleasure to be interviewed by Tim Knox of Interviewing Authors:

http://interviewingauthors.com/lorraine-pestell-fictionalizing-cause-affect-depression/

All in all, another interesting year!

I wish you all a happy and safe festive season, however and wherever you celebrate!

Working with a publicist for the first time – both exciting and daunting!

Apologies for my absence of late.  Hope everyone’s well and gearing up for either a hot or a cold festive season :-)

Aussie Father Christmas

One of several reasons for neglecting my blog is that I’ve invested time and money into a real, honest-to-goodness publicity campaign.  After e-shopping around a few US-based book promotion sites, I went back to my first choice, Authoright (http://www.Authoright.com), because they were the only company that offered a single, co-ordinated campaign across both the UK and the US.

Social media for indie authors is great for meeting other authors, some of whom may become readers, but attracting Facebook likes and Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily equate to generating sales!  I’ve been involved on the periphery of a few advertising and marketing campaigns at work, so decided to commit a lump of scarce resource and back my messed-up, introverted self for a change :-)

Well, what a ride so far!  Two weeks in to an 8-week campaign, working with two highly professional, friendly and encouraging book publicists has completely taken the focus off my writing.  Since I had already fallen behind schedule for “A Life Singular – Part Four” and have shifted my self-imposed deadline to March next year, I am managing (almost) to handle the stress of halted progress!

In my first week, Kate Appleton in London managed to secure me a spot in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, which has an online readership of 175 million per month!  On the other side of the Atlantic, Diana Rissetto has successfully placed me with a couple of well-patronised book blogging sites and is targeting several more specific to my serial’s themes.

Which leads me to the “daunting” part…

What’s that old saying?  “If it bleeds, it leads,” I seem to remember.  When I wrote my biography for Authoright’s initial questionnaire, I had a fair idea that journalists might want to delve into the more painful aspects of my background.  This is why I’m writing, after all.

However, despite Kate’s careful hints that mainstream media might come across as heartless by focussing more on my own story than on the books I’m trying to promote, I have been somewhat distressed by the intrusive nature of their questions, looking to name and shame particular individuals, etc.  While doing this would secretly give me an intense amount of guilty pleasure, I have always thought public humiliation for acts which have gone for years without punishment was only stooping to their level.

For someone whose goals are to bring a positive message through my writing – i.e. to inspire fellow sufferers of mental illness to rise above their symptoms and find success, and more importantly to encourage non-sufferers to understand, tolerate, support and even love us in our quest to live “normal” lives – I hardly wanted to spread my own negative experiences in such gory, gruesome detail.

It has been difficult to dredge up past experiences which I’ve buried so well that I barely recall their detail, inducing panic attacks while on the telephone to journalists and keeping me awake for hours as to the potential consequences.  Even though I managed to convince them that I’m not interested in revealing actual names, it is still frightening to wonder who has the power to make connections…

Oh, well…  I agreed to run the campaign, therefore I need to accept whatever it conjures up.  Hopefully it’s a big boost in sales and nothing more!  That would be awesome.

Very cool editing tool – Text to Speech Translator

Hello everyone!

Firstly, apologies for the prolonged bloggio silence. My social media obligations have suffered lately due to so many more immediate demands on my time, such as work and interstate visitors :-)

With my next writing deadline fast approaching, I’m deep into editing “A Life Singular – Part Three”, which I have commenced through the wholly unarduous, “traditional” method of creating an e-book and lying on the couch pretending to be a real reader.  Yet today I am unveiling a new editing tool which I hope will assist other authors to steady their voice and identify those annoyingly evasive typos:  Text-to-Speech translating software.  I wasted a few hours yesterday playing with trial versions of Verbose (http://www.nch.com.au/verbose/) and Natural Reader (http://www.naturalreaders.com/), switching between the available voices and accents.  Hours of fun!

There’s not much to choose between these two products, but I ended up purchasing Natural Reader (US$69.99) because its British accents sounded less silver-spoon.  It goes without saying that neither product offers an Australian male or female voice, and since my books are set predominately in Melbourne, I have gone for Peter and Rachel as the closest to Aussie accents I could find :-)

To use these products, simply load your Word document or .PDF into the program, pick a male or female voice and press play.  The algorithms are much more intelligent than they were even last year, and clever intonation gives you great feedback as to whether your phrasing and punctuation will give the reader the right cues.  The voice “learns” as you go over the same paragraph a couple of times, and it’s worth selecting the words they regularly mispronounce and adding a phonetic spelling into their vocabulary.  This works particularly well for unusual names and abbreviations.

Needless to say, the novelty of having my own book read to me kept me awake until 2 in the morning, but this is such a great addition to my editing toolset that I just had to write about it :-)

Work-in-Progress

This post represents my final leap on the current round of Ruth Snyder’s Blog Hop, where we are all presenting our Works-in-Progress.  I have enjoyed being part of this bouncing band of blogging bookists, and hope we have more opportunities in the future to air our extremely diverse views!  If you have enjoyed these fortnightly blasts too, please go on over to Ruth’s blog and send her a message of appreciation.

In my search for a definition of work-in-progress, I came across two amusing images.  The first exhibits serious ergonomic concerns, and I have already reported this unfortunate androgynous individual to his / her Occupational Safety & Health representative, as any diligent manager should.  (Looks a bit like Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”, donchathink? :-) )

wip                   wip 2

The second is more my kind of work-in-progress.  A pause for thought.  When I think of my six-part novel serial “A Life Singular”, which I’m submitting as my perennial work-in-progress, I can safely say that 38 years and counting ought to qualify it quite well for this label…  With two parts complete, the third is well on its way, leaving the rest to appear at six-monthly intervals thereafter.  The story spans almost fifty years, and I trust I’ll be able to stick to my schedule so that Part Six releases contemporaneously.

Were it not for this self-imposed deadline, I wouldn’t much care if my books remained works-in-progress indefinitely, since this creative process is the most self-sustaining pastime I’ve found.  Each night I rush home from work, where I have sat in front of the computer for a fair percentage of the day, eager to plonk myself back down and start again.  [Please don’t tell my OSH rep…]

Since self-discipline is a vital sanity preservation tool for me (as it is for my protagonist), I ensure that my e-mail, blog and social media obligations are attended to as the first activity after watching the evening news.  Up until recently this task was second, after feeding the dog :-(, but that’ll change again in a few months’ time.  Next up is transcribing the numerous yellow sticky notes, onto which were scribbled the previous night’s brainwaves, either into the current piece I’m working on or slotted into my trusty Extras.doc for future reference!

Then and only then do I allow myself to dive into my work-in-progress.  Several people have asked me how I already know my serial will have six parts, to which I give my standard response:  ‘Because I’ve already written “THE END”.’  I describe myself as 80% plotter and 20% pantser when it comes to writing, having all four outstanding parts at varying levels of completion.  I score myself in the pantser column purely because I’m frequently amazed when I finish a paragraph and realise I’ve typed something I had no intention of typing before I began!

This is the most fascinating aspect of writing for me, as someone who labours fastidiously to control her own mind to function appropriately in the “real world”.  Sometimes I re-read a passage that might be several months old and ask myself, ‘Did I really write this?’  Fortunately, I usually like what I rediscover.  Just imagine the frustration if it were otherwise… :)   I have said many times that writing is the only place where I can truly be myself, a sentiment which I’m sure is shared by many authors.

If anyone’s interested in finding out more about my serial, I’ll leave you to check out the Synopses page on my website:  http://www.ALifeSingular.net .  As for specifics around my actual work-in-progress for the coming week, I have just finished the first full draft of a chapter entitled “Welcome To Me”, where my protagonist explains to his soul-mate, from whom he has been separated for two years, why her father has every reason to be suspicious of him.  It is a stark and sinister confession which delves into gangland wars and childhood violence, describing the mental and physical scars sustained by family members caught up in crime, neglect and general disadvantage.

The next chapter “Face-off” is where the privileged celebrity, who has absorbed her boyfriend’s plaintive soliloquy, mounts her case for their relationship to continue.  The serial follows our hero’s journey back through his spectacular life while he writes his autobiography, and Part Three is where the significance of the title “A Life Singular” is revealed.

My intention is to self-publish Part Three by the end of June this year, after which I’ll move on to…  Three guesses?  Yes, you’ve got it.  …Part Four.  Predictable, huh?  Rest assured I will have been dabbling in Parts Five and Six along the way, as more mysterious twists and turns emerge from the interplay between characters with minds of their own.

My clear and present fear is for January 2016, when I will have published the book with the final line, “THE END”.  I have written to authors who live with a particular character for many years, to find out what they went through after they wrote the final word.  What will it feel like never to immerse myself in my hero’s world again?  So far I have not received any replies, so will continue with my own private conclusion…

Many thanks for joining me on this blog hop.  I’m looking forward to reading about my fellow hoppers’ works-in-progress now.  Please join me by clicking on the graphic below:

Ruth Snyder's blog hop

A bientôt, mes amis :-)

Genre – the bane of my writing life

Hello to everyone finally officially in Spring from me in Autumn / Fall.  To combat the reverse envy I’m now sensing, at least Melbourne has a long weekend for Labour Day. :-)

Ruth Snyder's blog hop

This fortnight’s post for Ruth Snyder’s Blog Hop is “My Favo(u)rite Genre”.  Again, I fail miserably to fit into mainstream thinking on this topic!  Oh, I absolutely understand the need for genre classification, especially now that e-books are flying across our e-noses from all sides, but for someone who’s endeavouring to draw readers towards a topic to which they may not have previously been exposed, I constantly bump up against the walls.  And they’re not padded…

We live in a world of drop-down lists, check boxes and radio buttons, for which I’m partly to blame, since I’ve been involved in many such abominable creations.  These nifty, high-tech methods of filtering and sorting clearly enable us to group the abundance of treasure into manageable slices of information.  The more we depend on websites to make our selection of reading material, the greater the need for some speedy classification mechanism.  Genre in the Internet age has found renewed purpose.

I also understand that genre is a convenient way for authors and readers to connect on common ground and feed their shared passions.  It’s a signpost to direct supply and demand to consummate that magic transaction, and in the absence of a better solution, I suppose I’d better “suck it up”…!

As a reader, I spread myself shamelessly across as many genres as I have time for, but still there are a few I avoid.  My least favourite subject at school was History, and on the whole I tend to steer clear of reading historical books, whether fiction or non-fiction.  Yet why then do I list my all-time favourite authors as Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Eugène Ionesco and Fyodor Dostoyevsky?  My conclusion is that they too were generalist observers and change agents who sought to breach boundaries rather than to exist within the constraints of tradition and convention.  I wonder what the Blog Hop posts of these esteemed gentlemen would tell us about genre in bygone days?

Therefore, as a writer with social justice aspirations, I have to target my favourite genre as Contemporary Fiction.  Mention the words “love” and “romance”, and most men run in the opposite direction.  Throw in “star” or “celebrity”, and the work may be dismissed as superficial or lacking in substance.  Mention “inspirational”, as I did before I realised its connotations in North America, and I find myself stalked on social media by evangelists promising to save my e-soul.  And dare to discuss “depression”, “post-traumatic stress disorder”, “deathwish”, “nightmares” (sans vampires) and “inescapable social exclusion”, and everyone except fellow sufferers is disaffected.

Contemporary Fiction is, by definition, an overwhelming buffet from which it’s often difficult to decide or even identify what might take our fancy.  On the other side of the coin, however, strict genre classifications tend to “preach to the converted”.  What I’m seeking is the “I’m willing to open my mind” genre; the “teach me something I don’t know, and entertain me at the same time” category.  Now that would be the perfect genre for me, and one which would have allowed my post to be a whole lot shorter!

Best wishes from a cloudless Melbourne Sunday!  There’s writing to be done.

New interview on the writing of the “A Life Singular” serial from Self-Publisher’s Showcase

Hello everyone,

I have been fortunate to be interviewed by Self-Publisher’s Showcase about my writing.  They asked some particularly relevant and challenging questions – a very interesting exercise!

Please check it out at:  http://selfpublishersshowcase.com/interview-lorraine-pestell-a-life-singular-author/

Thanks,

Lorraine

Great, new, professionally-designed covers!

Very exciting!  Thanks to the wonderful Ida Jansson of Amygdala Design in Norway, here are the covers for all six parts of my serial “A Life Singular”.

all 6 fronts

If you’re looking for a creative partner, I can’t recommend Ida highly enough!