20 December 2011


Are you like me and make to-do lists?  Are they like mine and grow rather than diminish?  It wouldn’t be so bad if you could at least get through the list before having to add something else to it.  But alas, that never seemed to happen.  I felt I was on a treadmill.

I mulled this over in my mind for some time and decided to implement something that was told to me years ago by a work colleague.  Concentrate on small successes.

Instead of trying to tackle every item on my list, I chose one.  I put the rest out of my mind, and concentrated on getting it done to my satisfaction.  I was amazed at the sense of accomplishment I felt when it was completed.

9 December 2011

The INDIE BOOK BLOWOUT 12-Days of Christmas!

*** DECEMBER 12 – 24 ONLY ***
MAKE THIS YOUR Merriest Christmas ever!
To score dozens of FANTASTIC indie books for only 99¢, visit indiebookblowout.com. While you’re there, register to win a brand new Kindle & up to $ 100 in Gift Cards (entry form on the site).

7 December 2011


It’s wonderful when you get a good book review.  All that hard work has suddenly been worthwhile.  And it’s rewarding to think that you have brought pleasure to your reader.

But what if you have received a bad book review?  It’s happened to me as I imagine it’s happened to most writers at some time or another, and it’s a devastating experience.  I’d call it ‘the pits’.  No two ways about it.  Nobody likes criticism.  We’d much sooner be praised.  That’s natural.

So, what do you do?

Well - and this is purely from my own experience - you will feel appalling for the next day or so until the shock wears off.

After that, I suggest you go back and read the review again.  If it is constructive criticism you might glean something from it that will help you to better your writing.  Readers quite often see things that the author doesn’t because we are too close to the work.

Of course, there is another way of looking at this whole experience.  Whether it is a good book review or a bad book review, the reviewer has been moved enough to write something about your work.  He or she has put a lot of thought into what they want to say.  Far better, I think, than there being no one with an opinion, be it good or bad.

So in that respect wouldn’t you agree that there is no such thing as a bad review?

18 November 2011


Once your book is published there is the tendency to become obsessed with its sale.  Particularly if you have self published your book and you are able to check and recheck its progress on a daily basis.  While the traditionally published author might think this is great, it can actually drive you to distraction.  It can also take your attention off your main task which is to write another book.  Not only that.  If your sales are not doing as well as you expect, it can cause you a lot of angst.

If this is happening to you, don’t despair.  Being an author is a long term commitment because books take a great deal of time and effort to write before they are the best they can be, and publishable.  In the same way, the sale of those books does not happen overnight.  Just think, your book(s) will be one of thousands on offer whether it is on Amazon, Smashwords etc., or in a traditional bookshop.

You don’t want to ignore your sales altogether, but you don’t want to slip into this sales obsession either.  So what can you do about it?  I can see a number of things.

·        If you were anything like me, you were obsessed with writing your now published book.  So my advice is to get interested in your new project.  After all, your readers are waiting for your next book!

·        Now that you are published, you will need to build up your reputation as an author.  There are a lots of ways you can do this, and I’m sure you will find the one(s) that you are most comfortable with.  Some suggestions are creating a Facebook Fan Page, joining the Goodreads Author Program, joining Twitter, creating a blog.  You might also consider participating in forums, book signings, talking to groups, conducting Giveaways.  The possibilities are many and varied.

·        Communication is the operative word and with social networking particularly, you have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people.  So enjoy yourself.  Write another book, publish it and watch your readership grow.  But remember, it will not happen overnight.

Most importantly, don’t lose sight of the one thing you love to do, and that is to create wonderful stories for people to read.

Do you agree with this philosophy?

10 November 2011


Welcome to The Perfect Plot and to Blog Tour de Troops organised by the Indie Book Collective for Veterans Day.

If you are following this Tour you will have just come from Augusto Pinaud site.  After you leave here, you will be going on to Melissa Foster.  But, before you run off, remember that by commenting on this post you not only win a free eBook of Murder At The Rocks, but also a copy for a soldier of your choice or, alternatively, you can have a soldier randomly chosen from the list of troops who have requested eBooks.

Please remember to leave your email address with your comment so that you can receive the Smashwords Code for Murder At The Rocks.

If you'd like to donate money toward those Kindles for our soldiers, simply use Paypal and ibcprograms@gmail.com as the address to send money to. Please note on your payment that it's a Troops donation.

November 11 is Veterans Day, in the United States of America, the day we honor military veterans for their service and their sacrifice.  In Australia, it is known as Remembrance Day where at the eleventh hour there is a minute’s silence.  At the Australian War Memorial, in Canberra, a wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.

In Australia November 11 is also known as Poppy Day.  The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day because they bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I.

The Roll of Honour dotted with red poppies
Whether it is called Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day, it is a day that we all stop to remember.  As the wife and the sister of two Vietnam veterans, I extend my good wishes and gratitude to all those serving in the military and to their families for your sacrifice.

Blog Tour de Troops continues until 14 November so there is a great opportunity for you to win quite a few eBooks for yourself and for the soldiers.  I’m so pleased you visited The Perfect Plot.  Please remember to leave a comment along with your email address so that you can receive your eBook.  Your next stop on the Tour is Melissa Foster site.

Babs - Babs Book Bistro http://babsbookbistro.net/
Diamond - Reading is my cheap addiction http://wp.me/p1HaSL-3k

Review of Murder At The Rocks -  8 November 2011
By Vidocq (Vidster) See all my reviews at Defrosting Cold Cases


8 November 2011


Join us Veteran's Day Weekend when we have a blast blog hop to dozens of authors sites where each is giving away not only an eBook to every commenter, but another one to a soldier!  Blog Tour de Troops

November 11th - 14th

28 October 2011


After publishing Murder At The Rocks in both eBook and paperback formats, I found I wanted to make some changes.  The thought was rather daunting in case I destroyed what I’d originally published, but because I can’t stop myself once I have a bee in my bonnet, I went ahead, into the abyss!  I should add that I was helped along by a friend on Goodreads as well as KDPs support team.

I had published through Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing KDP, and Createspace.  I decided to start with updating my Smashwords eBook first.

I found making changes to my Smashwords version the least complicated.

1. Make and save changes to your file, and go into your Smashwords Dashboard.
2. Under Operations, click on ‘Upload New Version’.
3. Under Select File, press the ‘Up-load button’.
4. Return to your Dashboard.
5. You will see that under the heading ‘Premium Status’ it will now say ‘Pending’.  This will remain so for approximately 24 hours until your updated version has been approved.

Kindle Direct Publishing KDP
Making changes to my KDP version was a little more difficult, but only because I wasn’t aware that, depending on what kind of file you originally loaded, the process for updating is different.  In my case I had originally uploaded a MOBI file.

MOBI file
1. Make the changes to your original file, and save it as Web Page, Filtered (*Htm & Html).
2. Open MobiCreator.
3. Select “HTML Document” from Import from an Existing File
4. Press “Import”
5. Select “Build”
6. On the Build page click ‘Build”.
7. Once completed you should see the message “Build Finished”.
8. You will find the file in your ‘My Documents\My Publications’ folder.  It is supposed to have a PRC (or prc) extension, although, mine said Kindle Content.

You can now upload this updated file to KDP as you did your original.

HTML or Word docs
1. Sign in to KDP
2. To the right of your ‘Bookshelp’ screen click the Actions drop down menu.
3. Choose ‘Edit Book Details’
4. The details of the book you published will come up.
5. Scroll down to Preview Book
6. You will see your book as it is in your KDP account and the ‘Download HTML link should be at the top of the Preview screen.  Click on this to download the content and make your changes before resubmitting it.

*I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Kindle system updates from the CLOUD so that anyone who has bought your eBook previous to the update will automatically receive the updated edition.

As you know, the paperback format is a PDF file so you need to make the changes to your original PDF file and then upload it onto Createspace.  It will automatically replace your original.  There will be a down-time for this updated version of your book until you have approved the new proof.  In my case this only took a week.

What are your experiences with updating your book(s)?

18 October 2011

Indie Writers Zone: Indie Insider - Jill Paterson

Indie Writers Zone: Indie Insider - Jill Paterson: How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish on average? Murder At The Rocks, took me approximately two years to write...

9 October 2011


Social media is a wonderful thing.  It enables us to interact with our readers, advertise our work, as well as keep in touch with family and friends.  But have you ever felt that it is taking over?

The merry-go-round
You jump on and don’t get off.  It can change all the plans you had for your day.  That book you are writing isn’t getting written.  At least that has been my experience, so I decided to do something about it.

Setting limits to get the balance right
For me there were two options.  To spend my mornings writing or my afternoons writing.  This wasn’t a difficult choice because I knew that if I turned the internet on first thing in the morning, I would invariably get caught up, and never get around to my afternoon’s writing.

This is what I came up with.
Resist the urge to connect to the internet and spend the morning writing.
Depending on other commitments, blog writing, postings and maintenance of the site, in the early afternoon.
Emails, Twitter and other social media between 3-4pm.

Have you  found that your writing time has shrunk? 

6 October 2011


 I’m lucky I guess.  I do have my own study, albeit very small.  It houses three bookcases, a filing cabinet, a large desk, two printers, my chair, my cat Fergus, and me.  It’s saving grace is a floor to ceiling window enabling a good deal of natural light and, for me, alleviating possible claustrophobia.  For Fergus, it means many happy hours of feline growling at the birds in the bird bath outside.

Of course, you don’t need a study because you can write anywhere.  I guess that’s the beauty of it.  All you need is a pen, some paper and somewhere to sit.  I’ve written on trains, planes, airport gate lounges, the park, the hairdressers, the dentist’s waiting room (ugh), my back patio, the dining room table, the couch in the living room.  One of my favourite places is the coffee shop at my local aquatic centre.  With two 50 metre swimming pools, it tends to be a noisy place, but I can’t say that I notice once I start writing.  I wrote much of ‘The Celtic Dagger’ and ‘Murder At The Rocks’, at this coffee shop.

So why am I telling you all this?  Because, as I said before, you don’t need a special place to write.  You can write anywhere.

24 September 2011


Getting started 
Do you have story ideas spinning around in your head but don’t put pen to paper to write them down? You’re not alone. I, for one, spent years doing just that. So, why not start today.

Is one of the reasons you didn’t pick up your pen because you thought your story idea wouldn’t be big enough for a short story or a book? Then you would be wrong because you only need a mere spark of an idea to set you on the road, and once there, you will be amazed at what you will achieve. Whether the initial idea is about a character, a setting, or an incident, any one of these is enough for you to begin.

The first draft
Now that you are on your way, don’t stop until you have finished your first draft. Try to resist the urge to edit as you go along because it will break your momentum. You will have all the time in the world to edit once you have that first draft finished.

We all tackle our writing differently 
As individuals, we tackle our writing process differently. For example, one writer I know produces his first draft in next to no time. It irks me, actually, because I take forever. But that’s me, I guess. I don’t edit along the way, but I do a lot of procrastinating. And that is my point. It really doesn’t matter how anyone else does it. What matters is what you do.

Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) 
Along the way you will experience doubt. It’s inevitable, especially in a solitary occupation such as writing. There’s no one looking over your shoulder telling you what you are doing right or wrong. You will ask yourself whether your story is compelling. Will anyone want to read past the first page? Am I wasting my time? I believe that no matter how many books you eventually write, you will find yourself asking the same questions with each one. Determination is the operative word here. Don’t waver, just keep going and believe in yourself.

Your first draft is complete.  Now what
I think having your first draft completed is a most exhilarating experience. You now have a story from beginning, through the middle, to the end. This doesn’t mean that you won’t make changes in your subsequent drafts, but you now have a story to work on. Make it the best that it can be. And don’t rush the process.

25 August 2011


Well, it’s done. The paperback edition of, Murder At The Rocks, is now published on Amazon along with my Kindle edition and I’m happy to say that the whole process went smoothly.

After receiving and approving my proof copy from CreateSpace, I uploaded the PDF file of my manuscript along with the full book cover image onto the site. This was made easy by the various prompts. Once uploaded, I waited the obligatory 7 to 10 days for the book to appear on Amazon, linked, hopefully, to the Kindle edition. When they did not appear together and my paperback edition proved hard to find, I contacted CreateSpace Support who quickly fixed the problem.

For the benefit of those who would shy away from self publishing because they doubt their computer abilities, I must tell you that I am no computer geek, and if I can do this, anyone can. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

6 August 2011


 An Author Platform
Whether you are going to self publish your book, are being traditionally published, or are still writing your manuscript, you will need to think about its promotion.  A good way to do this is to develop an author platform.  What on earth’s an author platform?  You ask.  It’s, quite simply, a way of reaching your audience, mainly through social media.

I’m a writer, accustomed to sitting here alone in my study oblivious to the world outside.  My computer literacy only extended to using my word processing program and sending the occasional email.  I’d never dabbled in Facebook or Twitter or any other social networking, but after the publication of my first book, I decided it was a necessity.  To be quite honest, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.  I’ve discovered a community of wonderful people out there who not only love to write, but who share their experiences and offer help so readily.  Consequently, I’m no longer sitting here alone.

I started by joining Goodreads  It’s a great site for both authors and readers.  It enables you to have an author page where you can display your book(s), advertise and do giveaways.  Added to this you will find a host of group to join where you can communicate with like minded people.  I’ve found this a very helpful and friendly site not only as an author but also as a reader.

With my confidence growing, I decided to join Facebook You may already be a member of Facebook, but did you know that you can also have a Facebook Fan Page that enables you to get your book(s) seen.

Next came Twitter and to be quite honest, I’m still coming to grips with it.  Evenso, I’m learning the lingo even to the point of retweeting RT, thanks to the help from another Tweeter!  Or is it Twitterer?

Finally, a Blog is a must and here is mine.  A work in progress.

Of course, the above suggestions are just a start.  There are so many great sites out there inhabited by wonderful people from all around the world.

5 August 2011

The Fitzjohn Mystery Series

The setting for the Fitzjohn Mystery series is Sydney.  It features Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn, a police officer of the old guard, his methodical, painstaking methods viewed by some as archaic.  Nevertheless, over the years, they have brought him success as well as the respect of all but one of his colleagues; Superintendent Grieg, the man Fitzjohn regards as his nemesis.
Fitzjohn lives alone in his Birchgrove sandstone cottage where he escapes the harrowing realities of his job by tending his orchids, a legacy from his late wife, Edith.  But he can’t escape his sister, Meg, who is determined to help him through his grief.
His sergeant, Martin Betts, is an eager young detective even though having difficulty when it comes to viewing the unfortunate victims of crime, and occasionally finding himself a pawn in Superintendent Grieg's war against Fitzjohn.
Murder At The Rocks is set mainly around the historic Rocks area of Sydney Harbour, and Circular Quay as shown here.

The settings for The Celtic Dagger, although going further afield at times, are in and around the University of Sydney and the Australian Museum, particularly the Bird Gallery.

8 July 2011


ITIN number.
If you live outside the USA and do not have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), Smashwords and Amazon (or whoever you are selling your books through) will withhold 30% tax.  However, you are not obligated to obtain an ITIN if you are happy to live with this fact.

If you choose to obtain one, the process is as follows:-

Download a W-7 form from the IRS website along with instructions for filling it out.  At the same time, download a W-8BEN form.  When you have uploaded your ebook onto Kindle Direct Publishing, you will be able to download a letter from them explaining why you need an ITIN number.  Enclose this letter along with your completed W-7 form and other necessary identification documents and mail to:-

Internal Revenue Service
ITIN Operation
PO Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342

I think this process takes about six weeks.  When you receive your ITIN number, you then need to fill in W-8BEN forms with your ITIN number and send them to whoever you are selling through, eg., Smashwords, Amazon.

7 July 2011


Many people still prefer to hold a book in their hands so I think it’s important to make a paperback edition available.  There are a number of print on demand companies.  The ones I have looked at are LuLu, Lightening Source and Createspace.  I’ve decided to go with Createspace who is owned by Amazon.

I’ve only just started this process, but so far my steps are:

I have created an account with Createspace.

I have bought an ISBN number and a barcode.  (You have to have a different ISBN for your paperback edition).

The person who created my eBook cover is working on a full cover for me.

I found it difficult to format my manuscript for a paperback edition so I went in search of someone who could produce what I needed.  A pdf file that can be uploaded to Createspace.  This has cost $164AUD up front and the process took approximately two weeks.

I am now awaiting the final proof of the full cover.

When I upload the pdf book file and cover to Createspace, they will send me a proof copy by mail so that I can check through it.  When I have approved it, it will go onto Amazon in the USA, UK and Germany as the paperback edition.  Createspace will print copies as they are bought by customers.

I can set my own price and change it if I wish.

More on self publishing a paperback edition when I get through this process.

6 July 2011


Kindle Direct Publishing is your avenue to publishing your eBook onto Amazon.

I opened an account, created a profile and read the information about eBook publishing provided on the site.

I then made a copy of the formatted eBook I had uploaded onto Smashwords, and after a few minor changes, uploaded this and my book cover onto the Kindle Direct Publishing site.

Within half an hour, my eBook was available for sale on Amazon in the USA, UK and Germany.

To check for sales and royalties, you go into the Kindle Direct site.

So far, this whole exercise has cost me $147.  My eBook is on Amazon in three countries, on the Smashwords site as well as for sale through all their distribution partners.

4 July 2011


eBook formating for Smashwords
As I said earlier, you can download the Smashwords Style Guide if you wish to do your own formatting, or alternatively, Smashwords will email you a list of people who can do this task for you.  At a cost.

I like to try things for myself so I made an extra copy of my manuscript and following the Style Guide meticulously, I went to work.  It took me a few days to complete, and after checking and rechecking everything, as well as deciding on the cost of my book, I took the plunge.  I clicked on the Publish tab on the Smashwords site and uploaded my cover and my book.  When you do this, your book and cover goes through what they call an Auto Vetter that inspects your book and gives you instant feedback on potential formatting problems.  Thankfully, I had none.

Once your book is uploaded successfully, it is available for sale straight away on the Smashwords site.  At the same time, it is placed on a pending list for entry into the Premium Catalogue.  This is a manual process and can take up to two weeks to complete.  Once again, if any formatting errors are found, you will be notified and given the opportunity to correct them.

It is important to get accepted into the Premium Catalogue because once there, Smashwords distributes your eBook to their retail channel partners such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, The Diesel eBook Store, Amazon and Scrollmotion.

2 July 2011


If you had asked me in June 2010 whether I would have considered self publishing my second book, Murder At The Rocks, I would have given you a blank stare because the thought had never occurred to me.  I planned to do what many authors do - look endlessly for an agent to represent me or a publisher who would consent to read my unsolicited manuscript.  As you know, this can take months before you get a reply be it positive or negative.  After spending two years steaming ahead writing a book it’s like you have come to a brick wall built right across your path.  Everything comes to a standstill.  A year ago I would have accepted this however frustrating, but now I’m not willing to.  Not since I can now self publish.

I’m going to cover my self publishing journey over the next few blogs hoping that it will help others if they choose to go down that road.

Where to start
I wanted to publish my book as an eBook as well as a paperback, and after looking into the process for both, I decided to start with the eBook edition first.  This you can do through Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing which is owned by Amazon.

·         I started by opening an account on Smashwords and reading all the information they make available.
·         Next I chose someone to create a book cover.  (On request, Smashwords will email you a list of people who can create a cover.)  I supplied my own background photograph and the cost ended up being $57.  I think the cost depends largely on a number of things such as time spent, images used, and how many proofs are done.
·         My next step was to acquire an ISBN number.  This I bought from Thorpe-Bowker for $40 plus a (once only) registration fee of $50.  It is possible to get a free ISBN number from Smashwords, but not until you have been approved for their Premium Catalogue.
·         With my book cover in the making and having entered my ISBN number onto the site, I looked into formatting my manuscript as an eBook.  This process is rather more challenging, but not insurmountable with the help of Smashwords Style Guide.  It is a 75 page document and free to download.  There again, Smashwords will email a list of people who can do this for you at a cost.  I decided to try it myself.

21 April 2011

Writing Tips for Aspiring Writers

 To give your writing life and capture your reader you need to show not tell your story.  So, what does this mean?

Basically it means that you want the reader to experience what is happening to your character through detail.  You want your reader to not only see the action but feel, taste, smell and hear everything that is going on.  This will bring your reader into the scene.  For example, if you tell the reader what is going on it will be like this.

Robert parked his car, and went for a walk on the beach.

As a reader, how does this make you feel?  At a distance?  You are being told that Robert has parked his car and gone for a walk on the beach.

But what if you show the reader what is going on as demonstrated in the following paragraph.

Robert parked the car, and pulling his collar up against the cold sou’westerly wind, he walked down onto the beach.  Deserted, but for a bunch of seagulls huddled together on the sand, their attempts at flight marred by the howling gale, he became mesmerised by the sea, its choppy, uneven swell crashing onto shore before being dragged back.

Does this make you feel a little closer to the character and the scene?  As if you are experiencing the walk on the beach with him.  The reader can imagine what the weather is like.  He can picture the seagulls huddled together against the wind.  And he can see Robert staring at the waves crashing into shore.  This gives the reader so much more information about the scene and makes the reader feel a part of the scene.

28 March 2011

Writing Tips for Aspiring Writers

One of the first things you need to decide when you start to write is through whose eyes you want to tell your story. In other words, which point of view do you want to use.

If you choose to have your character tell the reader the story, you will be choosing the first person point of view. For example,

As I left the shelter of Blackheath, the road disappeared under a mantle of snow, the trees that lined its sides my only guide. I stared ahead, mesmerised by the snow that cross my field of vision and watched for the entrance to Cragleigh.

With this point of view the reader is inside the character’s head and consequently will come to know that character well. It can present the writer with some difficulties, however. For example, you are only able to use what one person knows and will have to devise ways to have that character find things out. The reader only knows what one person knows.

Another choice is the third person point of view where the reader is viewing the story from outside the character(s). For example,

As James left the shelter of Blackheath, the road disappeared under a mantle of snow, the trees that lined its sides his only guide. He stared ahead, mesmerised by the snow that crossed his field of vision and watched for the entrance to Cragleigh.

The third person point of view has a number of advantages. You can, if you wish, use more than one character’s point of view. This gives the writer the opportunity to increase the tension as the reader can see problems coming. You can also leave one character in difficulty and go onto another character’s point of view. Having said that it can make structuring your story complicated.

Another point of view choice is the omniscient point of view. Used by writers in the 19th century, it is seldom used today. In this point of view the narrator is in all the characters minds so can see and tell all. It has the effect of distancing the reader.

A form of the omniscient point of view is used today when we present settings and describe events in third person.