One of the very best things about being part of this bookish world (apart from the hours of reading pleasure) is the lovely people you can meet on-line – and Val Portelli is most definitely one of my favourites. Although I regularly read and enjoy the short stories she publishes on her excellent blog, I haven’t yet managed to read one of her novels – published under the pen-name Voinks – and you can find them via her Amazon page. But she’s recently published a short story collection – together with Paula Harmon, author of The Cluttering Discombobulator (that’s also languished unread on my kindle for far too long!) – and I’m delighted to report that it’s next on my reading list. Weird and Peculiar Tales was published for kindle in May (UK/US), and is now also available in paperback (UK/US) – and although I suspect it might just be slightly different from my usual reading, I’m very much looking forward to it.
Housework fairies, strange events, dragons, unicorns and alternative fairy tales; there’s something for everyone in this unique collection of short stories. Ranging in length from succinct teasers to longer narratives, the characters mix and match to provide a roller-coaster of emotions. The variety of styles and themes will keep you intrigued until the final ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’ Or did they?
It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Val Portelli as my guest today – telling us all about how to be a blogging author…
Would you like to know what is involved in writing and publishing a book? Yes? Then pull up a chair, make yourself comfortable, pass the chocolates and I’ll begin.
First you need to assemble the tools of the trade:
500 boxes of tissues (to be replenished as necessary)
10 packets of false fingernails
60 gallons of coffee (per week)
1 bottle of Champagne (in case the impossible happens)
A spare computer.
These will be used for:
Mopping up tears when you receive yet another rejection letter
To replace the fingernails you bite to the quick while waiting for said rejection letter
To keep you awake through the wee small hours while the story is flowing
It’s best to arrange sale or return of celebratory alcohol considering the miniscule odds of Hollywood knocking offering millions to make your manuscript into a blockbuster starring (insert favourite actor here)
To replace the laptop you threw through the window when it irrevocably lost the 50,000 words you have spent six months writing.
You remember all those wonderful ideas clogging up your brain? Don’t worry. As soon as you sit in front of your computer to begin your masterpiece they will all immediately disappear.
The day finally arrives when you receive the ‘want to see more’ letter. Do a happy, skippy dance. Tell everyone you know the good news at least 10 million times. This also applies to the postman, the dustmen and the person standing behind you in the supermarket queue (even if you’ve never seen them before.)
Realise you no longer have any friends as you’ve ignored them for the past year or so while you’ve been writing your book.
Next you will need to publicise your book a little further afield. This is where blogging comes into its own and is in two parts. First there are those wonderful book bloggers who spend their lives reading and sharing their thoughts and reviews for the benefit of other readers. Unbelievably, this is a free service. They must be nearly as crazy as authors who spend their time writing the books for bloggers to read…. Well, you get the gist.
As an author you will also need to be a blogger. This is easy.
You find a domain name, set up a blog, research for people to follow you, discover 90% of them are an email address and nothing else. Their sole purpose is to cause disruption as they are not the slightest bit interested in you or your books, and just think it’s highly amusing to waste your time. Secretly, I believe they are tissue manufacturers who double their sales every time a writer comes up with new content.
This is where the paths diverge leaving you several options as you need to make your fortune on Aunty Amazon.
1) Check every five minutes after the book release, climb onto the rooftops and shout loudly when you make two sales, and/or receive two reviews. (There is no need to announce the purchasers were your Mum and your best friend, in fact this is against the rules.)
2) Investigate various book bloggers who might be able to help. This involves checking out their blog to see if your book fits their particular requirements and rejecting those who charge a fee, however tempting it may be. A good tip is to find a responsible gathering point (a blagger of bloggers?) get to know them and practice your curtsy before you go cap in hand to grovel before these wonderful people to ask them to feature you. (Do you see what I did there?)
3). After a while you’ll realise you have still only sold three copies (Good old Aunty Aggie) and drastic action is needed. Again, you have options.
a) Consider arranging a blog tour. This is where several bloggers promote your book over a short period of time. Although it’s a paid service it’s something well worth leaving to the experts, although your expertise in grovelling will come in handy when you approach the bank manager.
b) Sulk and become a diva.
c) Decide ‘I’m a failure’ as per Some Mothers do have ‘em.’ Give up writing and invest in a tissue making factory.
d) Eat chocolate, wallow in self pity for a while, then get on with writing your next book. ‘This time next year, Rodney…..’
Thanks for dropping by. Good luck to authors everywhere and sincere thanks to the Book Bloggers who give us the motivation to keep writing.
Val, thank you so much for that. And yes, it’s worked – review of Weird and Peculiar Tales coming up very soon on Being Anne!
About the authors (with thanks to Amazon)
The author’s pen name Voinks began many years ago. It started as a joke when a friend bought a holiday home abroad, then gradually spread through the family, so it was an obvious choice when her first book was published.
Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known Women’s magazine, she continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy.
To save her sanity she completed and had published her first full length novel. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before deciding self-publishing was the way to go. In between writing her longest novel to date at over 100,000 words, she publishes weekly stories for her Facebook author page and web site.
She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’ From having too many hours in the day, she is now actively seeking out a planet with forty-eight-hour days, to have time to fit in all the stories waiting to be told.
She is always delighted to receive reviews, as they help pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.
Paula’s Harmon was born in north London but her life as a country girl began at eighteen months when the family moved out, trailing slowly westwards from small town to village before settling in South Wales when she was eight.
Her writing life started with “Clanger” fan fiction and making up stories to act out with a kindred spirit. These largely involved flying unicorns. In later Welsh years, she wandered lonely as a … well, lonely person, in woods and streams and wrote about portals to another world and mysterious woodland spirits.
With no clear idea what she wanted to be when she grew up apart from a writer, she graduated from Chichester University (Bishop Otter College) with a BA in English Literature and a vague idea that, after a bit of life experience, if all else failed, she’d become a teacher, even though she had never grown taller than the average ten year old. Whatever else happened, she was determined NOT to become a civil servant like her mother and be able to talk in form numbers.
At her first job interview, she answered “where do you see yourself in 10 years” with “writing” as opposed to “progressing in your company.” She didn’t get that job. She tried teaching and realised the one thing the world did not need was another bad teacher. Somehow or other she subsequently ended up as a civil servant and if you need to know a form number, she is your woman.
Her short stories include dragons, angst ridden teenagers, portals and civil servants (though not all in the same story – yet). Perhaps all the life experience was worth it in the end.
She lives in Dorset with husband and two teenage children and is currently trying to work out why she thought it would be a good idea to include alpacas in the novel she’s writing, when it’s about wolves and witches.