Tracey Alley's Blog

March 30, 2013

Let me say firstly, that I love being an Indie author. I love the creative control, I love the hugely magnified royalties and I love, love, love some of the truly wonderful people I've met in the course of my career. But - you knew it was coming - I hate trying to market my work.

I love all the characters and story-lines that fill my head constantly. I love the physical process of bringing those characters to life, of telling people their story. I even love the editing and polishing of the manuscript - even if I'm not as good at it as I'd like to be. I know I have been blessed far beyond deserving to be in a position where I can write full-time and live my dream life.

But seriously, the marketing is soooo hard. How do you successfully reach an audience and entice them to read your book without coming across like some sleazy used car salesman? How, without spamming the internet to the point where Bill Gates himself comes looking for me, do I let the world at large know that I've even written a book, let alone that it might be good enough for them to want to read?

I send off copies of my novels for review but even that's tricky because given that I've written a series you can really only send the first novel and hope like hell they're interested enough to go back for seconds and thirds. I've had a few but not many, even of the ones who did give Erich's Plea a glowing review.

How is it possible that I've had, quite literally, hundreds of people tell me via forums like this or even direct emails how much they enjoyed the series yet I still can only boast 24 reviews for Erich's Plea with dwindling numbers for the follow ups, Ursula's Quest and Slade's Destiny? I know not everyone is the type to write a review but are the ratios really that small??? And, of course, once you've hinted politely how much you'd appreciate it if they were to publish a review - preferably all over the net - can you possibly follow that up without looking pushy and demanding? Well, obviously you can't so you just smile, sigh and hope that you'll eventually find readers who're willing to do more than just compliment you directly.

Not that there's anything wrong with 'fan mail' per se - I'd be lying through my teeth if I didn't admit I love each and every one of those comments. I mean, after all, I didn't just write for me - I wrote hoping that 'joe reader' would also enjoy it.

Naturally you can Tweet, yak about it on FaceBook, casually mention it in conversation but the truth is, at least from my perspective, none of those things seem to translate into mega sales. Now, I'm not complaining about my sales - I appreciate every single one. At the same time though it'd be nice to see the numbers rising. I don't expect, nor even want, huge amounts of fame and mega amounts of money [though I wouldn't complain about the money lol] but it would be nice if I could start making something even approaching a living for all my hard work. So I often find myself asking the question - what's a gal to do?

So, OK, I've had my little whine, and, in honesty I actually feel a bit better. Because when you add it all up, at the end of the day, I'm so far in front of millions of people around the world in that I'm living my dream job and, occasionally, getting paid for it :)

Cheers,
Trace

Oh and just in case you might have forgotten who I am -

Erich's Plea (The Witchcraft Wars, #1) by Tracey Alley Ursula's Quest (The Witchcraft Wars #2) by Tracey Alley Slade's Destiny (The Witchcraft Wars #3) by Tracey Alley

Sorry - I couldn't resist one last, cheeky, used salesman ploy ;)
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Published on March 30, 2013 21:27 • 133 views • Tags: a-writer-s-dream, ebooks, indie-publishing, marketing

January 23, 2013

If you're like me and you've reached a certain age, like me at 42, you pretty much think you know yourself through and though. Well, at least, I did. I thought I had myself finally figured out and had become content with who I was - not that there weren't still aspects of my character that didn't need working on but I thought I even knew all of them as well. However, recent events have shown me quite a different picture of myself through the mirror of someone else's eyes.

In a series of strange coincidences I was told by more than one person about a few different aspects of myself that I had never seen or even thought about. Now, of course, if that were a one off you could, and probably, would, instantly dismiss it. When you're told the same thing by several different people in differing circles and situations then you have to acknowledge that these people have seen something in you that you didn't even know was there.

Being my ever curious self this got me thinking. How was it possible that others could see so clearly these aspects of my character - some good, some not so good - while I remained oblivious? Then I remembered the old saying 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. Beauty, be it human, animal, plant, words, art or music, is always judged individually by people in differing ways.

And that is probably the explanation of why different people will focus, at least enough to comment, on different aspects of your character and personality. You, however, still see yourself through your own filter - or the beauty you see through your eyes.

I'm not really going anywhere with this but I did think it's worthwhile to really listen to the things people say about you... You might just learn something :)

Cheers,
Trace
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Published on January 23, 2013 18:14 • 288 views • Tags: beauty, character, differing-points-of-view, flaws, personality

January 12, 2013

Just for fun I thought I would give you all an insight into a typical 'Day in the Life' of an Indie author [or, at least, a typical day in my life].

7:00 AM Alarm goes off - need to get an early start on chores so you can fit in required number of hours writing

10:00 AM Actually get out of bed horrified at how long you've slept in

10:01 AM Stare at the kettle willing it to boil faster so you can get some much needed caffeine into your system

10:05 AM Decide to leave household chores till later so you can make up time to write

10:06 AM Enter the study filled with good intentions, armed with a thermos of coffee and immediately check book sales - ensuing mood will depend on amount, if any, of sales acquired.

12:30 PM Start to feel hungry and realise you've spent the past two and a half hours goofing off, reading emails, posting on forums, checking Facebook and Twitter and generally wasting time

1:00 PM After a hurried lunch, which reminds you that you still haven't washed the dishes from the night before, promise to settle down and seriously write for at least two hours minimum.

3:00 PM You look at the clock and realise that in between games of Solitaire on the computer you've managed to actually write about 300 words - feel guilty about your poor performance and wonder if you still have any ice cream in the fridge.

3:05 PM Get distracted while searching for ice cream and reluctantly do the household chores you should have already done.

6:00 PM Greet hubby with a beaming smile and assure him that A) you've been hard at work all day and B) his dinner will be ready very soon - then frantically scramble through fridge, freezer and cupboards only to find there's nothing to eat because you forgot to go shopping.

6:15 PM Suggest to hubby while he's watching the news and is thus thoroughly distracted that you really fancy a pizza for dinner and you'll just duck down to the local pizza parlour to pick it up. Smile as he grunts a non-committal answer due to the fact that he wasn't really listening.

6:45 PM Return home with pizza and explain patiently to now irritated hubby that you discussed buying dinner with him previously and he had agreed. Sullenly hubby accepts your explanation and proceeds to eat three quarters of the pizza despite his diet and the fact that tomato sauce gives him heartburn.

7:30 PM Repentantly supply hubby with heartburn medicine, explaining you had completely forgotten about his problems with tomato sauce. Wearily announce that although you'd normally love to watch the footy/cricket/boxing/car racing etc with him you reluctantly need to do just a little more work on your manuscript.

9:30 PM Manage to write another 300 - 500 words in between Solitaire games and instant messaging. Feel pretty pleased with your efforts, then realise you've just created a major plot hole that will require a complete rewrite of at least a chapter, get frustrated and browse through online shops vowing you won't spend any money.

10:30 PM Get interrupted by hubby's loud snoring coming from the lounge room and hurriedly hide your credit card so he doesn't figure out you've been shopping online again. Lovingly wake hubby and escort him to bed, making sure he sets his alarm for the following day.

10:35 PM Eagerly snatch up the remote control so you can watch some television shows you have pre-recorded that hubby can't stand. Finally remember that you've done no promotion or marketing for your books but can't be bothered doing it now and promise to do it first thing in the morning.

1:00 AM Wake suddenly after falling asleep in front of the television and finally lock up the house, turn off all the lights and vow that tomorrow you'll get your act together.

Repeat process ad nauseum.... please note, this could just be me and not the pattern of all Indie authors ;)
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Published on January 12, 2013 21:16 • 83 views • Tags: day-in-the-life, diary, funny, indie-author, time-wasting

October 22, 2012

I will survive - it's a powerful statement. I'm a survivor of bullying so I know a little bit about survival. Bullying has reached epidemic proportions in our schools and workplaces. It's an ugly phenomenon that seems to be continually evolving and steadily becoming worse.

When I first started school I was like any other 5 year old. Wide eyed and uncertain. Within days I became the target of a bully. She was two years older than I and seemed much bigger and stronger. To this day I can still remember how terrifying she seemed to be.

The bullying was all encompassing to me at that age. It started with name calling but very quickly degenerated into physical violence. Teachers, the school Principal - everyone was aware of what was going on but no one seemed to have any answers.

My bullying continued for five very long years until finally my mother took me out of that school and away from my tormentor. To my very great shame when I started my new school something within me had snapped and I became a bully. I was every bit as horrible to my victims as my bully had been to me. It was a sad and lonely experience for me. Not only because I didn't like who I had become but also because just as very few kids want to be seen to be friends with a victim so too does a bully have no real friends because people are afraid of them. Thus almost all of my school years were very lonely ones for one reason or the other.

In time, I'm thankful to be able to say, I stopped bullying other children. It was never really a part of my character and it was a role that never felt comfortable. Looking back I believe it stemmed from a deep-seated need not to be bullied myself any more.

And so I survived - barely. The scars are still there though from my experiences both as a victim and as a perpetrator. In the past I have kept fairly quiet about my childhood experiences with bullying - out of a sense of shame both for what had happened to me and for what I had done in turn. However, given that October is anti-bullying month, I feel it is time to speak out.

Bullying almost always stems from insecurity. Many years after the fact I was able to discover that my own bully had come from an extremely unstable home where she was often victimized herself. Like I did later, she took her feelings of helplessness and powerlessness and turned them into rage against others. It was never about me - it had always been about her. Just as my own victims were not responsible nor deserving in any way of the treatment they suffered at my hands - it came from my own insecurity and helplessness.

If you are a victim of bullying it does help to understand that you have not been targeted because of anything specific to you - simply because someone perceives you as weaker than they. Stand tall and proud of yourself and you too can be a bullying survivor but in the right way.

If you are a bully then please talk to someone you trust about your feelings of powerlessness and insecurity. Address the real reasons behind you're bullying behaviour and you too can begin to not only feel good about yourself but you can also become a survivor.

Because the truth is that both the target and the bully are victims. The world we live in is by no means an easy one for every person to navigate. Many of us are left in situations we simply do not know how to deal with - and this applies to adults just as readily as children. But knowledge is power. Knowing, and understanding, the underlying issues of bullying can help both targets and bullies to get out of this very damaging and scarring situation.

Remember - you will survive!
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Published on October 22, 2012 19:42 • 84 views • Tags: bullies, bullying, knowledge, powerlessness, school, self-esteem, victims

September 5, 2012

You've probably all heard that expression before. Perhaps many of you will have even read the book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life although I must confess that I haven't yet gotten around to reading it myself. Still I do hold to the general principles.

Life is a journey filled with many twists, turns and crossroads. If you allow it then almost any point in your life can be construed as 'do or die'. For example two of my nieces have just sat for their QCS exam [essentially a Uni placement examination that determines their 'ranking']. This exam is seen by many as a 'do or die' moment. Almost as if their entire future depends on the outcome of this one test.

The truth is, however, for all these 17/18 year olds this exam is just one of the twists of life's winding road. Yes, their mark will determine what University offers they are ultimately presented with, but it's not the end of the world if they don't get the mark they think they should get. Even in the worst case scenario, that they receive no University offer - is that really the end of the line? I don't think so.

Speaking for myself, when I sat the equivalent test way back when I was 18, I had no intention at that point of ever attending Uni. I was eager to start life, to start making some real money. At that age I could barely see past my nose or beyond the next big night out with my friends.

I had no way of knowing then how my life would change as the years went by - how could I? And that's really the whole point. You have no way of knowing today what tomorrow will bring. Something that seems earth shattering to you today will seem almost insignificant with the passage of time.

There is, I believe, far too much pressure placed on people today [of all ages]. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we have seen an increase of violence in our schools and our workplaces. Society places unrealistic demands on people to conform, to know exactly where your future is headed, to plan ahead etc etc.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not undermining the seriousness of certain life events. All I'm saying is that what seems critical today may not be quite so important tomorrow. Why cause yourself unnecessary stress over something that, in the long run, may turn out to have negligible impact on your life as a whole.

My older sister has always proclaimed that the true value of life is about the relationships we form. I totally agree. When all is said and done your relationships, your memories are of far, far more importance than any exam result. Nobody ever received a eulogy about their exam results or their bank balance - at your graveside people talk about who you were as an individual and how or what impact you made on the world.

More than anything, when my life is done, I would like to be remembered as a decent person. Would it be nice to be a famous author? Sure, I'd love that. Am I proud of my academic achievements? Absolutely. But in the end I'd like to be remembered as a loving wife, auntie, sister, daughter etc. I hope that when the time comes I will look back on a lifetime of experiences, different relationships and continuing growth of my character.

So live well, love extravagantly, give deeply of yourself, enjoy the moment and treasure the relationships you form. And, of course, don't sweat the small stuff :)
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Published on September 05, 2012 18:26 • 586 views • Tags: coming-of-age, life, life-s-journey, love, pressure, relationships, stress, turning-points

August 27, 2012

If you have cable TV then you cannot help but be aware of the huge number of reality TV shows currently available. These programs range from the sublime to the ridiculous and it seems there are more being made every day.

Personally I love documentaries - always have. My top favourite topics are historical, true crime and wildlife programs. I've probably learned as much from watching these kind of documentaries as I did during my University studies.

But documentaries are not the limit of what cable TV has to offer. Nowadays we have everything from Swamp People, to Deadliest Catch, to Dog: The Bounty Hunter to Pawn Stars etc etc - the list seemingly goes on forever.

The big question though is just how real are these reality programs? The answer to that, all too frequently, is becoming not real at all. It can be difficult to spot a genuine reality program from a staged 'reality' show. Of course that then begs the question - does it really matter?

Well, that's a very tricky question to answer. To some people these fake reality shows come as a virtual slap in the face, an insult to the viewing public's intelligence. To others it probably doesn't matter as long as it's entertaining.

In my household we have two camps regarding reality TV. My husband always gets annoyed if he thinks a reality show is staged. To him it's an insult and basically dishonest. I, on the other hand, don't care quite so much. If the show is interesting I'll watch it - even if I know it's fake.

In one area though I have to totally agree with my husband - by passing these shows off as real the producers are, in a way, treating the audience like fools. And let's be honest - nobody likes to be treated like a fool.

Does that mean I'll stop watching fake 'reality' TV? Probably not and interestingly enough - it doesn't stop my husband from watching them either. All it has really done [at least in our home] is ensure that I get a running commentary while watching one of these fake shows about how staged it is from Robbie.

I guess my question is what is it about reality TV [real or otherwise] that the public at large is so interested in? I know I've certainly never considered myself to be a voyeur but when I'm watching reality TV that's exactly what I'm doing. In many ways it's no different to peeking through someone's window.

At any rate I'll continue to watch and continue to wonder why I find these shows so fascinating. I know that in time this fad, like all others before it, will fade and something else will take its' place. Between now and then however, I'll try to remember my Mother's advice - believe about half of what you see, a quarter of what you read and virtually nothing you are told.

It might be a little cynical but it has the advantage of encouraging me to investigate these topics and hopefully increase my overall understanding about the world.

Cheers,
Trace
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Published on August 27, 2012 18:22 • 95 views • Tags: knowledge, learning, reality-tv, voyeurism

August 6, 2012

I recently read a blog post about a certain self-published and traditionally published author who I will leave nameless. In the article it was demonstrated by some very thorough investigative journalism that this particular author has been responsible for some very, very bad behaviour.

It was revealed that the author in question had multiple 'sock puppet' accounts that were used to bolster sales, reviews etc but also, and far worse in my opinion, were used to viciously attack other authors.

As if that weren't bad enough the author in question actually bragged about their behaviour, saying it had put them at the top of the charts and thus the end justified the means.

First of all, let me say that I'm not just speaking as an author here, but as a reader as well. This behaviour is atrocious and absolutely disgusting. The majority of writers and readers that I have met would roundly condemn this author's tactics.

Where the problem lies is that some, up and coming, author may see this as a verified way to increase their profile. I would like to hope that no one would follow this example but unfortunately I'm not that naive.

Speaking now only as a writer I deplore this kind of behaviour. My advise to new authors remains consistent - keep writing, keep improving your craft but if you find your books aren't selling and are consistently garnering bad reviews then maybe you need to really consider whether you actually do have what it takes to be a writer.

I'm not saying you should run at the first sight of a few bad reviews or a couple of returns. That's simply par for the course - not everyone will enjoy your work. You have to accept that and be thick skinned. I'm talking only about writers whose work is not selling or only seems to get bad reviews.

Speaking as a reader now I'm horrified that any author thinks they have the right to justify their own work and bias my opinion through these kind of tactics. I find it insulting in fact.

I am certain that most people will agree with me but for those who think this is OK be aware that eventually, if you're an author, you WILL be caught out. That will turn off more readers than you can possibly dream about.

Cheers,
Trace
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Published on August 06, 2012 21:14 • 136 views • Tags: authors, bad-behaviour, readers, sock-puppets, writing

July 11, 2012

Well actually I can dance, quite well I've been told, but I woke up with that Genesis song in my head and as it relates to what I want to chat about I thought I'd leave that as the title. [man I'm long winded sometimes lol] Anyway to get to the point. For as long as I can remember I've wanted to learn how to play the drums. We were very poor growing up though so it had to remain nothing more than a longing while I was younger.

Then I started working when I was 12, baby sitting and taking in ironing from the local working women in the neighborhood. Between school and work there was no time and that's the way it stood for many, many years. First I was working two jobs, then when Mum got sick I quit my night job to take care of her and looked after her for over fifteen years until she died. So no time there to even think about lessons or buying a drum kit to even play on.

Then my niece J bought that game Guitar Hero or something but the one that also came with a drum set. Bam I thinks to myself - this is my chance to show everyone what a kick a@@ drummer I could be.

Instead - oh the shame. The bitter humiliation. The huge dent in my somewhat overlarge ego ;) I couldn't play. Could not hit a single note. I even scored lower than my then 5 year old niece Britney.

I couldn't believe it. I loved music. I truly believed I had 'rhythm in my soul' and just needed the chance to prove it. Instead it turns out, not so much. In fact lousy. And of course all my family & friends are laughing their @ss off because I'd been bragging for years about how great I would be if given the chance. I was a little red faced to say the least.

So what's the point? Well, nothing really except that life is a journey meant to be enjoyed. You might not always be any good at that one thing you think you would be excellent at if given a chance, like me. Or maybe something else, a little more serious than a game, will knock you down a bit. You have to learn how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again, as my dear Mother used to say.

Life is too short not to try out the things you'd like to do, whether you succeed or fail. So if there's something you've been wanting to do or try, no matter what it might be, give it a try, make it happen and see how it turns out. Most of all though remember it's the relationships we form while we walk this road that are really important. Besides forming lasting relationships with people, be they relative, friend or lover, the only other really critical part of living is your contribution to the world.

Try every day to make the world a better place, even if all you do is smile at the cashier in the supermarket and wish him/her a good day. As they say in the Buddhist tradition 'walk softly and leave no footprints'. I also add making time to spoil yourself a little every day, even if it's only a quiet cuppa by yourself or with family or friends, or perhaps just a bubble bath or a long, hot shower. Just make sure you're being at least as good to yourself as you are to others.

Live long & prosper :)
Cheers,
Trace
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Published on July 11, 2012 19:18 • 286 views • Tags: family, friends, hobbies, life-s-journey, making-a-contribution, relationships

June 27, 2012

I'm onto my second marriage. That's not a situation I ever thought I would be in when I was younger and much more naive. I honestly believed, as a teenager, that if you were 'in love' that was all that mattered and that, like Cinderella, you'd live happily ever after. I found to my great shame and enormous hurt that it doesn't quite work that way.

I was fairly young when I first married, only 19 and my husband was only 18 but we were convinced we were in love. We'd only been dating for about 5 months and were crazy about each other. The fact was though that we didn't really know each other. We were both caught up in a whirlwind of lust, charm and the idea of being in love. I didn't really know him as a person any more than he knew me but we did get to know each other - oh boy did we get to know each other.

There's something about living in the same house and the mundane routine of life that breaks through the rose coloured glasses of puppy love. When you have to clean the house and pick up his dirty socks somehow his kisses don't tingle quite so much any more. Especially when you find that you don't really have all that much to say to each other.

I'll never deny that my first husband and I were deeply in lust with each other. I thought he was the best looking guy I'd ever seen and we had a lot of sexual chemistry. Now that I'm a little bit older I've realised that sexual chemistry is pretty easy to manufacture but it doesn't equate to real love.

To be completely honest though if I had the chance to do it all over again I probably would. I learned more lessons about relationships from that bad experience than from all the good experiences I'd had then or since combined. The number one lesson I learned, which I wish I could've learned another way, was that for a marriage to really work you have to first of all be best friends.

My current husband, Robbie, and I haven't been married all that long so I can't point to us as a shining example yet but I know in my heart it's a forever thing just because of how close we are as friends. I'd never want to lose his friendship, any more than he would want to lose mine.

We have a connection that's based on similar interests, mutual respect and yes, there's a lot of lust, charm and sexual chemistry too and I think he's the best looking guy I've ever seen :)

Primarily though, we've been through a lot of testing times in our marriage as well as the mundane of day to day living yet I still long for him to come home at night. I look forward to telling him about my day and hearing about his and just spending time in his presence.

Sometimes I feel guilty when I have to work nights on my writing but Robbie always reassures me that just having me in the same house is enough for him. I don't mind doing his laundry and picking up his dirty socks because his kisses do still tingle and because he's my mate.

It may have taken me 30 years of living but at least I did finally learn that the old adage is true. Marry your best friend and you'll be married for life. Relationships are hard and you'll always have to work at them but when you have that real friend connection you'll find that it generally comes pretty easily.

I'm not trying to sound preachy. I just wanted to share my experiences with love and happily ever after.
Cheers from a 41 year old Cinderella,
Trace :)
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Published on June 27, 2012 00:10 • 124 views • Tags: friendship, learning-from-mistakes, love, marriage, relationships

May 31, 2012

I have a neighbor that I befriended some time ago and I thought we had become quite close. I felt rather sorry for her as since she moved into the complex where I lived she has received a lot of negativity from the other neighbors and was, as a result, very lonely.

I don't listen to gossip and so dismissed all the negative things people were saying about her and invited her into my fold as a friend. At first we had a lot of fun together, chatting over coffee and enjoying the odd girls day out. Over time, however, I realized that in many ways it was a very one-sided friendship. One where I would be giving and she was always taking.

Just as a part of my character I tend to be very giving and generous with my friends and family and I don't expect anything back. However there does come a time when you realize that your generosity is being taken advantage of and you're actually being used.

Recently, because I've also remained friendly with the other neighbors who've been so negative towards this woman, she came to my house and questioned my loyalty to her. She was extremely rude and patronizing about it, as well as obviously trying to force her will upon me as to my relations with the other neighbors.

Now I realize she may have been coming from a place of hurt but the way she went about dealing with what was really a trifling conflict was, quite simply, way out of line. I don't believe that you shouldn't speak up if you have a problem with someone but there are ways and means of going about it and she crossed every single line.

Today I went to try and resolve the conflict in a more calm and reasonable manner but found her as rude and insulting as before. Our friendship now has suffered severe damage that I'm honestly not sure we can recover from.

We'll all have some conflict in our lives at some point but there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with it. I personally don't believe in a full frontal attack, such as I received. I've always been very much inclined to speak my mind but I try to do it in a way that's not rude, disrespectful or hurtful.

I don't know how you all feel about conflict and resolution but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Either way it appears I've lost someone I thought was a friend but it appears she was only a friend while she was getting her own way, so in fact, I've lost nothing in my opinion. Still, it's a little sad that as adults these situations still occur.

Cheers all,
Trace
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Published on May 31, 2012 00:37 • 190 views • Tags: conflict, friendship, resolution