Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Day 415

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. Mine was great, and Santa was especially good to me! A whole load of Estee Lauder make-up, which will probably see me into 2013 (providing the abrupt ending of the Mayan calendar doesn’t signify the end of days for us), a bottle of my favourite perfume and a Christmas jumper are to name a few of the things he brought me.  And I think I drank enough cava on Christmas day to sink a ship. Good times!
There’s no news on Slippery Souls as yet – Feed A Read don’t start operating again until 4th January, so it’s still just a waiting game for now (which is fine by me!)
In the meantime, I couldn’t resist having a practice run with publishing on Kindle. I uploaded a short story called Indefinite Fear, and it’s currently on sale for 86p (I would have listed it cheaper, but 75p was the lowest I could go – then plus VAT it knocked it up to 86p). I have made it very clear on the listing that it’s a short story of 1700 words though, so hopefully nobody will purchase it under the impression that it’s a full length novel (or even a novella). But if you do like short, dark stories then please give it a go – and feel free to leave a review, if you have a spare minute or two – it all helps this budding writer J


Anyway, the whole Kindle process was very straight forward and easy to do – so I feel a lot more confident now about formatting Slippery Souls. Should maybe take me a few hours at most to do.
I haven’t really got any other news to speak of – so I think I’ll go and crack open a few bottles of Stella, graze on some nibbles and see what books I can download to my Kindle for some quality reading time. And I’ll speak to you all again in the new year!!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Day 408

Only five more sleeps till Santie! How exciting!
I hope you’ve all been good – though, I suppose if you haven’t, it’s not too late to redeem yourselves J
At last it seems like I can relax a little, with a few bottles of cava, because I’ve amended Slippery Souls and have re-submitted to Feed A Read. It’s all out of my hands now until they verify the changes, and then I’ll be able to order some books for my launch next month! Hooray! So you could say that I’ll be making the most of the Christmas/New Year shenanigan because once 2012 arrives I’m going to be seriously busy once again.
I re-designed the front cover (there were aspects of it that I wasn’t 100% happy with – mainly I wanted the turquoise background to be a little crisper). This is how it looks now:

Oh and as for the book itself, I was very happy with the quality. The cover is glossy, and the interior is a nice quality crème paper – so up to now, I’m very pleased I chose Feed A Read to self-publish with. They’ve been very quick to respond to my queries too! Thank God for Writing Magazine, otherwise I may never have stumbled upon them.
Anyway, I’ll keep this brief and take the opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Day 402

Yippee, my author’s copy of Slippery Souls arrived this morning! It’s so surreal, but exciting, to be holding it at last! There are a few bit and pieces that I need to tweak on the cover (which was to be expected – things tend to look slightly different in the flesh to how they do on screen). And I need to spend a few days reading through the whole book (my book!!) with a pen, to highlight any other errors that haven’t been ironed out already.
I’ve ordered some marketing bits and pieces this morning also. It finally feels as though everything’s coming together at last.
Some other good news is that Easington Writers have been asked to be involved in a brass book project (running as part of the Durham Brass Festival 2012) – but that won’t start up until the new year though, so more on that later.
I don’t think I’ve got much else in the way of updates, and, to be honest, I can’t concentrate all that much anyway – I’m too excited about having an actual copy of Slippery Souls right beside me! J
So until next time, I bid you farewell.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Day 393

Right, back to weekly updates I think.
What’s been happening since the last update, apart from Christmas sneaking up…?
First and foremost, Slippery Souls has been sent to the printer to be set up. This could take anywhere between 7-21 days – but as soon as it’s set up, I’ll be able to order a copy to proof read. And until I’ve done the proof read on the actual book, I’m putting the Kindle/Smashwords formatting on hold.
Obviously it’s definitely not possible to launch the book before Christmas now, so I’ve pencilled in Saturday 28th January instead. So I suppose, if anything, I’ll be starting 2012 with a blast.
To print the book, I decided to go with Arts Council funded company Feed A Read – and so far my dealings with them have been very efficient and easy. The book will be listed with them for £6.99, and I intend on paying to have them distribute it to all the major booksellers too (Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc) – where it will be listed as £7.99. It’s free to list books with Feed A Read, and if your book is in the top ten at certain intervals throughout the year, the first couple of chapters are reviewed by major publishing houses – which can be no bad thing! The royalties are high with Feed A Read too – for every book sold via themselves, I will make around £2.22.
Anyway, here’s the cover of Slippery Souls as it looked when I uploaded it to Feed A Read:

Onto other news…
Easington Writers launched its new anthology Footprints at the Water’s Edge on Saturday 3rd December.

The event was held at Easington Welfare Hall, where we meet every week, and there was quite a good turnout. We sold around 70 books, and still have a few orders for people who couldn’t make the launch. If anybody else would like a copy, please contact me. The books are priced at £7.50.

Me doing a reading from the book

Easington Writers celebrating with champagne

Finally, I’ve created a new generic writing website for myself – there’ll be little bits of everything on there (short stories, poems, news), so please check it out: http://www.rachaelhdixon.webs.com/
I think that’s all of my news for now…but if I think of anything else, I’ll be back. Anyway, I’m off to prepare the house now for some Christmas decorations. If I don’t make the effort I feel like I’ll never get into the Christmas spirit and will turn into Ebenezer Scrooge, eek.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Day 376

This update’s a little bit late because I’ve been lounging about on far flung beaches for the past fortnight, ahem. But anyway, as you can see, I’ve now passed the one year mark – so I think it’s only right that I rename this blog! It’s now officially just an extension of ‘a year in the life of’, sort of like a general writing journal.
So, apart from a mucky looking tan that will probably peel off after a few washes, what’s new? Not much to be honest – I’ve done nothing but read and relax!
To begin with I read Dawn French’s A Tiny Bit Marvellous on the beach – which was light-hearted and rather funny (hope to read more from her soon). And then I totally changed the tone by reading Stephen King’s Danse Macabre – which was quite interesting, if not a little outdated perhaps (he talks about horror literature and films from the 1960s up to 1980, so most of them were before my time anyway – though some cult classics all the same. It would be good if he did a Danse Macabre Volume 2 from the 1980s to present day). Anyway, the book rekindled a desire to read all of James Herbert’s books again – he was my horror inspiration during the 80s!
Slippery Souls has been tucked away out of sight for a few weeks now, and I fully intend on going through the fourth and final draft from Monday onwards. Exciting times indeed!
Oh and how could I forget? I entered a short horror story of mine called Night Night to Pill Hill Press in America, to be included in an anthology of theirs called Bugs!, and when I arrived home yesterday I found an acceptance email and contract in my inbox. Hooray!
Spinetinglers Anthology 2011 is now available to purchase on Amazon as both Kindle (86p) and book format (£7.98), if anybody is interested (this was the anthology my short horror story Pig Ignorant was voted to be included in).

Ok, so until next week – I’d better go and unpack these suitcases...

Monday, 31 October 2011

Day 358

Day 358
Happy Halloween!
The final draft of Slippery Souls is now complete – so it’s been put away, out of reach. I’ll go back over it one more time after a couple of weeks, and then that’s that! I refuse to re-work it any further! J
Still not decided on a printer or a launch venue as of yet – so I have plenty to be thinking about during these next couple of weeks.
The launch date for the Easington Writers’ book is all set for 3rd December – everything for that seems to be coming together as planned, including an open bar and some festive mince pies to nibble on. It’s a free event and anybody is welcome to come along. All members will be doing a brief reading from the book, and then there’ll be an opportunity to purchase the book afterwards. It’ll be on sale at £7.50.
I’ve no other writing news – except to say that Spinetinglers’ 2011 Anthology and Static Movement’s Sowing the Seeds of Horror Anthology are both going to print today – I have a short story in both of them, so very exciting times!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Day 351

I’m so excited this week because I got the edited manuscript of Slippery Souls back in the post from my sister-in-law. She’s done a great job in pointing out any grammatical errors (and bits where I just wasn’t making much sense). Overall there’s not too much revision to be done, so I’m going to try and get it all sorted this week. Then I will put it away for a couple of weeks, before going over it again with fresh eyes one last time – and then it’ll be ready to go!
I don’t have any other writing news this week, so I’ll just go and crack on with the final draft J

Monday, 17 October 2011

Day 344

My sister-in-law has finished reading Slippery Souls! She said that she really enjoyed it and that she couldn’t see any gaping holes in the plotline or anything like that. There were, however, some grammatical errors, which she’s very kindly pointed out.
So there we have it, as soon as I get her edited version of the manuscript in the post, I will be starting the process of getting everything finalised once and for all.
I haven’t got much else in the way of writing news this week – things seem to have been really hectic this past week in and around the house. So I’ll not waffle on, and will hopefully have a bit more to report next time.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Day 338

A company called Work Creative are taking care of my website creation, so I’ve submitted my initial design ideas to them – and I’m still working on the remaining page designs. My Photoshop trial ended yesterday though, and I’m waiting for my proper version to arrive any day now – so everything is on hold in regards to the final designs.
I’ve been busy designing a book cover for the Easington Writers anthology Footprints by the Water’s Edge too. Though I need to wait and see how big it’s going to be before I can finalise it, so I know how thick to make the spine.
Unfortunately I haven’t done any actual writing for what seems a while now – but I think I will use the time between having no Photoshop to make a start on Book Two of the Sunray Bay Series. I’m thinking of calling the second book Dead Souls or The Forgotten Ones…but I’m not sure which yet, if either.
I haven’t really got any other news at the moment – even though it’s all go. Hopefully I’ll have more stuff to share next week!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Day 330

Here’s how things stand this week. I’ve put some website design ideas on my new blog http://rhdixon.blogspot.com/  and I’m in the process of sorting out quotes and designs for it all to come together – which is very exciting.
My sister-in-law is around three quarters of the way through my manuscript now, so I’m thinking I’ll maybe get her editing/critiquing pointers back by the end of October perhaps.
This week I’m going to be doing some more illustrations for the website, I plan on making lots of notes for the sequel (and I might even make a start on it), and I may start to go through the second draft of Monday too (if I get time).
I’m also trying to squeeze in plenty of reading time too – I have a whole list of books to get through, and of course, there’s nothing better for inspiring good writing than reading! I’m about halfway through The Devil’s Graveyard by Anonymous (the anonymous writer of The Book With No Name). It’s a bit of a piss-take of The X-Factor, and so far I’m really enjoying it – the dialogue is often very amusing, and I’ve had a few laugh-out-loud moments. This is the third book in the series from an originally self-published author, I believe, and the witty tone and the bizarre characters are such good fun. I often wonder why on earth The Book With No Name hasn’t been made into a film yet?!
Last Thursday all of the Easington Writers (including myself) got together for a full day workshop to compile all of our stories and poems for the new anthology. We managed to get the order sorted and we also agreed on a title – Footprints by the Water’s Edge. Terry Dobson is going to take care of the editing/formatting, and I’m going to see if I can come up with some front cover ideas.
And that’s about all of my news for this week. I hope you’re all enjoying this freakishly warm weather – and hey, you never know, when I next update this, it could well be snowing!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Day 323

Well, those very important decisions I made last week – I may not be sticking to them after all. After announcing that Slippery Souls will be available electronically only, I’ve received feedback from people to say this wouldn’t be ideal for them. So on that note, I’ve decided to put some time aside this week to research places such as Create Space and Lightning Source, to see what the options are for getting the book into print that way. No doubt I’ll have more on that next week! (Thank God for the Writers & Artists Yearbook really – I can see that I’ll be digging that out once again). This whole publishing process has got my head in a spin!
My new Sunray Bay Series blog is now up and running – solely dedicated to Slippery Souls and the sequels that shall follow. It’s at http://rhdixon.blogspot.com/ and so far it has my book cover design on display and a sneak preview of the first 500 words. I will be announcing my launch date there very soon too. I’ve also created a new Facebook page: Rachael H Dixon – so please check that out and ‘like’ it if you’d like to get regular updates of any writing news… (I’m not sure if Facebook is being flaky though because some people say they can’t find it when they do a search for it – or perhaps it’s because they are spelling my name wrong?…that second ‘a’ is a nightmare sometimes!)
I’ve also been working on my website design – which is very exciting! I’ll be getting my paints out a bit more, because I want it to be very illustrated and in keeping with the cover design.
My short story writing, and any other writing really, has gone on hold for now, while I sort out Slippery Souls and all of its associated marketing plans. I could really do with more hours in the day. Perhaps I need to stop going to bed – sleeping’s not that important after all J However, I did receive some exciting short story news this week. My horror story Pig Ignorant, which came second in the Spinetinglers’ May 2010 competition, has been voted to be printed in the Spinetinglers 2011 Anthology – which will be published on Halloween! It will be available for purchase on Amazon as both a hard copy book and e-book.
I think that’s about all of my news for this week, so where was I? Oh yes, ISBNs, Create Space, print to order…now where to start, hmmm.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Day 316

I feel very positive this week. I’ve made some very important decisions and I’m sticking with them! Slippery Souls will be published electronically only – and I’m looking at having a launch day sometime in mid-December. Hopefully I will look at dates this week and decide upon one, just so I have a target goal.
My front cover is coming on really well – apart from the fact that I accidentally created it as 72dpi, which is nowhere near good enough quality. So I need to go back to the drawing board and scale it up to 300dpi. Apart from that little technical hitch, I’m really loving the way it’s looking – and hopefully, all going well, I will be uploading it here next week for everyone to see.
I’ve been working on a new Facebook page too, which will be used to promote my book – but it’s not yet published. I’ll be working on that this week too, and will post the link here next week.
I also need to create my own website– though I have no idea where to begin, so lots of research is required. However this task won’t be underway until I have finalised the book cover design, because I’d like to keep everything stylised.
For now I don’t have any other writing news – everything else has gone on hold while I do some market research etc. Hopefully next week my updates will plentiful!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Day 309

My fortune card this morning said that I was going to have a ‘change of direction’ – and I think perhaps it could be right. I’ve been thinking recently about both self-publishing and e-publishing, and I’m thinking I may just go down the Kindle/e-book reader route with Slippery Souls rather than having a physical book. I need to get my business head on, after all. It won’t cost me anything to upload the book, and then all the money I make from sales will be pure profit (except, of course, for the cut Amazon takes, but hey, that’s fine). Whereas if I self-publish it’s going to cost hundreds of pounds, which is a heck of a lot of money really, and, on top of that, I’m concerned about getting the right printing company for the job, because I want it to look the absolute best it can (i.e. front cover imagery and colours to be really crisp and good quality). I’m thinking it would be best to put money towards marketing instead.
I was going to use GIMP to design my front cover – however I decided to have a trial 30 days of Adobe Photoshop Elements (which is pretty much how I remember Photoshop when I was at university doing my Graphic Design course over ten years ago)…I’ve picked it up again really quick, so I may end up just forking out for that at the end of the 30 days.
Anyway, I have a sketched thumbnail idea of what I want the cover to look like, and so far I’m really pleased with it (so long as I can create the look properly). It’s very kitsch, colourful and hand-rendered – and I’ll post it up here as soon as it’s finished.
Now onto other writing news, erm let’s see…
A short story of mine, Counting Chickens, was published on Shortbread Stories website this week. It’s a non-paying website but it’s a great place for showcasing your work. My story can be found here: http://www.shortbreadstories.co.uk/story/view/counting_chickens/#axzz1X61g3kvu
I have a new entry on my travel blog called Jumping Off at the Steep End in Niederau – which was an account of paragliding in Austria. That can be found in the usual place: http://rachaelhdixonstravels.blogspot.com/
My sister-in-law is still working her way through the Slippery Souls manuscript – so no news on that front yet. I’m going to crack on with the front cover in the meantime, and I’ve also started making notes for the sequel. I’ll probably start writing the first draft of the sequel this week.
And apart from entering a few more competitions I think that’s about all the latest, so I will go and get on with things – I’m a very busy girl at the moment!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Day 302

My sister-in-law, Hannah, is going through Slippery Souls in instalments – I’ve sent her the first ten chapters. Last I heard, she was up to chapter five and she said that she was really enjoying it, phew! I only hope she enjoys the other thirty three chapters too!
I haven’t yet made any progress on the front cover, and that’s mainly because I’ve been too busy writing up some short stories – stuff I’d started ages ago and never got round to finishing (all horror). I’d love to write a horror novel, (you know, proper scary psychological stuff), but I can never think of an idea that would stand the pace for a whole book. One of these days I’m hopeful that I’ll be struck with an idea though…hopefully sooner rather than later!
I’m thinking for my new novel Monday I’d like a front cover in the style of Gil Elvgren’s work (I’m a massive fan of his pin-up girls), though I gave all of my painting equipment away – and besides, I’m not quite sure whether I could emulate his work that well really, hmmm, we’ll see. On the other hand, I was also contemplating submitting it to an unpublished novel competition like the one being ran by mslexia – though I might be taking on too much then, because I’d need the second draft ready by the end of next month. Maybe I need to put Monday on the backburner for a while – or maybe I need to grab the bull by the horns and work 24x7 for the next month to get it submitted…
Answers on a postcard please J

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Day 296

Well I’m a little bit late in updating this because of the Bank Holiday weekend – but better late than never. And speaking of which, what the hell happened to the weather? My winter clothes are starting to make a comeback already!
But it’s not all gloomy…I got my Slippery Souls manuscript back off my auntie on Saturday. She pointed out one or two things that I need to take a look at – but other than that I was relieved with her overall comments. I asked her to be brutal and to tell me exactly what she thought, and she said that the book wasn’t her cup of tea, because she normally wouldn’t read fantasy/vampire books – however it kept her interested throughout and she wanted to know what happened in the end.
My sister-in-law will be reading it through from this weekend onwards, so I will go through the manuscript altering a few more bits and pieces before sending over for her to beta read.  
I’m going to take a look at GIMP this week too – which I’ve been told is free software comparable to Photoshop. Will give it a whirl – see if I can come up with some cover ideas for Slippery Souls.
And more good news is that I finished the first draft of my second book Monday – which came in at 75,000 words. I will wait until I’ve completely finished Slippery Souls before giving that a polishing. In the second draft I hope to make it more like 80,000 words. It was just an experiment to see if I could write a novel in a couple of months and to just see where the characters would take me (rather than planning the life out of it). I think I’m happy with the overall result, although it’s a completely different kind of book to Slippery Souls – so much so that I may use a different pen name for it.
I don’t have much more to report really, other than the Easington Writers are meeting with the publisher from Connoisseur Crafts on 8th September for definite – so I will make a list of all the questions I want to ask him myself. It’s all quite exciting at the moment.
Anyway, until next week…

Monday, 22 August 2011

Day 288

Hooray, my auntie has finished reading Slippery Souls! Her verdict was that she needs to point out one or two things to me, but overall she enjoyed it and was touched by a particular scene in the book. So that wasn’t as daunting as I’d expected. 

I do feel as though I need to get my skates on a bit with things though – I’d love for it to be published by December so that I could have a launch party just before Christmas (hopefully making it an ideal Christmas gift idea for people) ...and especially if I get it onto Kindle in time for Christmas, that would be pretty cool. But time is ticking, so I need to be quick!

Monday is coming on well too – I’m about 45k words into the first draft. There are five more chapters to go, which hopefully shouldn’t take too much longer.  

All going well, Easington Writers are meeting up with a local publisher (Connoisseur Crafts in Hartlepool) early next month to discuss publishing our next anthology – this will be an excellent opportunity for me to get some details for self publishing my own books too. Yes, I’m back to the original idea of self-publishing!

I have a new travel report on my travel blog, called Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo – Sun, Sea, Sand & Skinny-dipping. It’s in the usual place: rachaelhdixonstravels.blogspot.com

Ok, I have ridiculous amounts of work to do – so without further ado, I’m going to go and do it!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Day 281

I’m still having a breather from Slippery Souls at the moment – looking forward to some feedback from my auntie, hopefully, soon.

Monday, my new novel, is coming along swimmingly. I’m about halfway through the first draft now, at 36,000 words. It’s a good distraction from Slippery Souls, which means that when I go through the manuscript again, it’ll be with fresher eyes.

I don’t have much other news at all to report in the way of writing, apart from that the Easington Writers Group second anthology is now set to be published later in the year, with an expected Christmas launch party. I’m not sure which will come first at the moment – Slippery Souls or EWG Anthology. I’ll keep everyone posted though.

Oh there’s a new feature on my travel blog, in the usual place, (rachaelhdixonstravels.blogspot.com), about the Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival. My homework this week for the Easington Writers Group is to write a short story or poem about crows – so that experience certainly came in handy!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Day 274

Where the hell did summer go? My winter coat made a premature comeback yesterday and I have the heating turned on...next I’ll be digging out the old bed socks! *grumble*

Anyway, I suppose it’s not all doom and gloom, I’ve got 25,000 words of my new novel Monday down – so that’s about a third of the way (I’m aiming for around 75,000). 

My auntie is still busy reading the Slippery Souls manuscript, so no news or progress there at the moment. I am, however, swaying more towards self publication again. Damn my indecisiveness!

Other stuff that’s happening – I’ve compiled six stories and three poems for the possible inclusion in the Easington Writers second anthology (to be published later in the year), I’m currently working on a short horror story, and, as you might have guessed, I’ve made absolutely no progress whatsoever on my Writers Bureau 17th assignment (I must kick start myself again!)

That’s about all, so I’ll keep it brief – and until next time I’ll keep writing (and praying for summer to return).

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Day 268

No news on the Slippery Souls front – and I haven’t looked further into literary agencies or publishers either (I’ve been too busy with other stuff this week).

Hmmm, so what writing news do I have?

My new novel Monday is steadily progressing – 4 chapters complete, which is 20k words. But again, not much more than that to report. See, I’ve been busy chilling out and camping at the Magic Loungeabout festival and I took a four day break from writing. I did however see Kate Fox (journalist/poet) doing a spot on stage at the Food for Thought tent whilst there. She stepped in for Robin Ince, who couldn’t make it, and she performed some of her poetry and gave us a comedy recap of the news headlines of that morning. It was a very enjoyable hour – and impressive that she stepped up to the task at such short notice. 

I’ve updated my travel blog with details from the refined unwind at the Magic Loungeabout. It can be found in the usual place: http://rachaelhdixonstravels.blogspot.com/

Now relaxed and chilled out, I’d better get typing again!