Devon Book Club discussion

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Writer's and Booksellers Corner > Talking about your work

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message 1: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
A number of Devon/local authors have joined the group and we are delighted about that as you are part of our community. We look forward to hearing about how you approach writing and the group is happy for you to let us know when you are publishing something new.

Learning from other groups though is that it is important to keep authors' news to a dedicated section, hence the creation of Authors Corner.

Please can authors post any threads related to their work in this folder. If someone inadvertently posts elsewhere I may move or (very politely) delete the post.

I have added a rule to this effect so it is clear, especially to any author who is not a member/participant of the group.

Many Thanks


message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Delighted to have clear rules from the outset, so that our book club is not swamped by problems with author promotion. Also delighted to have a place where I and others can rabbit on about our books!


message 3: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Delighted to have clear rules from the outset, so that our book club is not swamped by problems with author promotion. Also delighted to have a place where I and others can rabbit on about our books!"

I for one hope that you do - would love to hear about the writing process and about your work in general.


message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie Goucher (anglersrest) | 16 comments Ian wrote: "Carol wrote: "Delighted to have clear rules from the outset, so that our book club is not swamped by problems with author promotion. Also delighted to have a place where I and others can rabbit on ..."

That would be interesting. I only have experience of writing non fiction things, so I would be interested to hear how you channel the creative flow.


message 5: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Julie wrote: "I only have experience of writing non fiction things, so I would be interested to hear how you channel..."
I'd be really interested to know more about your writing too Julie and how you came to write your book on tracing European ancestors. It must take a lot of research and planning?


message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie Goucher (anglersrest) | 16 comments Kathy wrote: "Julie wrote: "I only have experience of writing non fiction things, so I would be interested to hear how you channel..."
I'd be really interested to know more about your writing too Julie and how y..."


Kathy, I was heard giving a talk about Italian ancestry and it went from there. Initially it was going to be just Europe not including the UK, but marketing felt that it would be better to include it. Once I the chapters defined I set about researching and then gradually started piecing togther the research including the links and addresses. It is such a wide topic as Europe has been deceminated by war hugely - Yugoslavia for example is now represented by 8 Countries, then look at the Soviet Union - accessing records that cover the area is problematic for several reasons - survival, language, have they survived yet not acknowledged? Are records where you expect them to be? It has been fascinating and I have been asked to do a few talks through the library service which is great as it is not everyone's cup of tea!


message 7: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments People always seem fascinated by ancestors, so I would imagine your book would be very helpful and interesting.
Have tried to look up mine but did not get further than the census at the turn of the last century, so know how difficult it can be.


message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie Goucher (anglersrest) | 16 comments Carol, another genealogist so I don't feel lonely! It is easy in the modern online world to get overwhelmed with sources and material - I spent too many hours reading through some old wills online over the weekend rather than working on my next book proposal! Where abouts were you looking - Devon? I am running a FH course - 3 hours a week for 12 weeks from January in Teignmouth getting people back into the library as an introduction to genealogy.

Are you working on a book at the moment Carol?


message 9: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Julie wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Julie wrote: "I only have experience of writing non fiction things, so I would be interested to hear how you channel..."
I'd be really interested to know more about your writing too J..."

Thanks, Julie. I think it's a fascinating subject. I imagine it must be very easy to start with something simple you want to find out and find yourself being drawn in many directions. My father-in-law has done some investigations into his family. Some of the results he came up with surprised him. I suspect that's quite common, judging from the programme:'Who Do You Think You Are?


message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Julie wrote: "Carol, another genealogist so I don't feel lonely! It is easy in the modern online world to get overwhelmed with sources and material - I spent too many hours reading through some old wills online ..."
No, my family is a recent arrival in Devon.
Yes, nearly finished a historical novel set in Ilfracombe.


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Julie wrote: "Carol, another genealogist so I don't feel lonely! It is easy in the modern online world to get overwhelmed with sources and material - I spent too many hours reading through some old..."

Fascinating hearing about Carol's work. How do all you writers approach the writing task - do you have a set method?


message 12: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Kathy wrote: "Julie wrote: "I only have experience of writing non fiction things, so I would be interested to hear how you channel..."
I'd be really interested to know more about your writing too Julie and how y..."

I see that your second novel will be published later this year. Have you finished writing it? What stage is it at?


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments In case it is not obvious, the last question was for Kathy.


message 14: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Julie wrote: "I only have experience of writing non fiction things, so I would be interested to hear how you channel..."
I'd be really interested to know more about your writing too J..."

Hi Carol. Yes, thanks, it is due for publication soon. I've finished writing it (and rewriting it several times over!) and it's been edited, cover designed and now I'm in the final stages. It's exciting and really scary too. I'm a horrible perfectionist and if I'm not careful I can keep changing words forever! Before long I'll have to take a deep breath and let it take its first steps alone...


message 15: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "Julie wrote: "Carol, another genealogist so I don't feel lonely! It is easy in the modern online world to get overwhelmed with sources and material - I spent too many hours reading through some old..."
Is your novel set in Ilfracombe soon to be published, Carol? What era is it set in and what prompted you to write it? I've never dared writing historical fiction; it must require a lot of research.


message 16: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Kathy wrote: "Carol wrote: "Julie wrote: "Carol, another genealogist so I don't feel lonely! It is easy in the modern online world to get overwhelmed with sources and material - I spent too many hours reading th..."
It sounds as though you are just about there. It's a very creative process isn't it? Wish I had started writing earlier as I'm getting a bit ancient and afraid that I will not be able to write all the stories I want to.
Is yours set in the Southwest? I believe your first book is. Although mine is mainly set in Ilfracombe it takes place in 1794 at the time of the French Revolution. It usually takes me about a year to do the research.


message 17: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Carol wrote: "Julie wrote: "Carol, another genealogist so I don't feel lonely! It is easy in the modern online world to get overwhelmed with sources and material - I spent too many ho..."
I know, there are so many stories to write and not enough time to do it! And I'm quite slow I think. It takes me a good couple of years to get a novel done (with the wind behind me). I think I need to quicken up!
Ilfracombe in 1794 - that's interesting. I've learnt a lot about France at that time, and the revolution, then the Napoleonic Wars, but little of what was going on elsewhere. I'd be curious to know what sparked the story and setting - or perhaps you're not ready to talk about it yet?
Yes, my first book is set in a fictional village in South Devon but this next one is set in Provence, at the mountain estate of an embittered and reclusive portrait painter. Obliged to look back at all his paintings, he is forced to confront his past too. I'll stop there before I witter on too much...


message 18: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments That sounds very interesting. Love France. I think we probably have a common interest there. Daughter did all her higher education in France and Belgium, and son in France, so visited a lot over many years.
My hero is also French and is the son of the hero and heroine of my first book. It is set against a background of witchcraft, but I'm just in the middle of considering whether to increase that aspect of it, or to leave it as I have written it.
Yes, I'm also quite slow. Like you it took me 2 years to write the first one.


message 19: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments You're getting your book out at a good time, just before Xmas!


message 20: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "That sounds very interesting. Love France. I think we probably have a common interest there. Daughter did all her higher education in France and Belgium, and son in France, so visited a lot over ma..."
So you've got some continuity through from the first to second book. That must be both an asset and maybe a burden, creating some constraints. I wonder if you always planned for there to be a second (or even third) book?


message 21: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "You're getting your book out at a good time, just before Xmas!"
I wish I could say that I planned it that way!


message 22: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Kathy wrote: "Carol wrote: "That sounds very interesting. Love France. I think we probably have a common interest there. Daughter did all her higher education in France and Belgium, and son in France, so visited..."
Yes, and I have also planned the third, which will take place in Virginia. Whether I will ever write it, I don't know. In order to do so I need to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. I visited the US recently but was not able to go there. Hoping to do it next time.


message 23: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments You must write it Carol. Though I guess it's hard to think about when you're still working on the second. But it's a good excuse for travelling!


message 24: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "You must write it Carol. Though I guess it's hard to think about when you're still working on the second. But it's a good excuse for travelling!"

what a really interesting conversation. thanks for the insights into your work. Perhaps like many, I would love to write but haven't managed to create the space in my life to make that possible. How have you managed to do that? Have you written whilst also working?


message 25: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Ian wrote: "Kathy wrote: "You must write it Carol. Though I guess it's hard to think about when you're still working on the second. But it's a good excuse for travelling!"

what a really interesting conversati..."

I think writing a novel while still working full-time must be incredibly difficult and I salute all those who do. I was lucky, self-employed as an artist with more wriggle room, when I first started writing. The writing gradually eclipsed the painting when I got hooked. I am exceptionally fortunate in being able to pursue this passion.
Have you managed to fit in any writing, Ian? Do you have stories running through your head, characters you'd like to pursue?


message 26: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments I think that many people who love books could probably also write. It is a question of many factors coming together, one of which is having the time to do it.
It is also said that you should always write about what you know. You might have to do research on it, but it is definitely useful to know the area well where you set the book, and to also have a strong feeling for it.
I set my 2nd book, a sci fi short novel for teenagers in Albuquerque, and have always felt guilty because I have never visited there, so not too sure of some of my descriptions. Son lived there, so I in some way experienced it through him, but still a bit hesitant about it!
Give writing a go, Ian. You are clearly very much a lover of books and you might be surprised.


message 27: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments We are also very lucky in that self publishing is booming. There might be a lot of rubbish out there, but there is also good stuff as well. You no longer have to write a book and then never see it published. Frederick Forsyth, I believe, received 70 rejections for The Day of the Jackal, so we are lucky that it finally made it! Publishing, I think, will change greatly in the next few years.


message 28: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments There are also, of course, great variations in self publishing. It can be an extremely creative process, as satisfying as writing the book. Have always done all my own editing and proof reading, as well as painting the pictures for my covers in oils. (Then a friend with computer skills tweaked them to make them look more normal! It's not easy doing robots in oils!).
My major outlay has been paying for the printing of the books, but of course with Kindle, you don't necessarily have to bother with this, although if you don't have a printed book you can't sell in shops, tourist info. outlets, garden centres, etc, which for me, as my book is local, would be not good.


message 29: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Hope I haven't twittered on too much here! Have always made it a principle not to mention my books on Goodreads, as I can see it's mainly reader-orientated, and have come to love the chat with other people who are all interested in books!


message 30: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "Ian wrote: "Kathy wrote: "You must write it Carol. Though I guess it's hard to think about when you're still working on the second. But it's a good excuse for travelling!"

what a really interestin..."


Never turned my hand to it. I do have a few ideas for some very short stories but never find the time. I'm so busy with work (I usually work 7am-7pm, inc travel) that my brain is in need of rest come the evenings and weekends. Perhaps one day.


message 31: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Hope I haven't twittered on too much here! Have always made it a principle not to mention my books on Goodreads, as I can see it's mainly reader-orientated, and have come to love the chat with oth..."

not at all. I think it is really interesting to see how you approach your work and getting it published/distributed. How did you get started?


message 32: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Ian wrote: "Carol wrote: "Hope I haven't twittered on too much here! Have always made it a principle not to mention my books on Goodreads, as I can see it's mainly reader-orientated, and have come to love the..."
Have always had a taste for literature in one way or another. Did a BA in French, Russian and English, and am also a qualified teacher and librarian. When younger I had various articles published.(One was on Victorian Ilfracombe, another was on Planning and was in The Guardian). Then when children left home had more time so started writing just for fun and was surprised when 2 years later I seemed to have written a novel.
I love North Devon, particularly Ilfracombe, and I came to love Alsace where my daughter lived, so I wrote about both places.


message 33: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Ian wrote: "Carol wrote: "Hope I haven't twittered on too much here! Have always made it a principle not to mention my books on Goodreads, as I can see it's mainly reader-orientated, and have come..."

Interesting. I wonder whether people who have a book in them naturally find a way to write it at some point if they can create the space in their lives or whether there is more to it than that. Those of you who make it happen obviously have the drive or desire to give expression to that aspect of your creativity - but you also need the talent to begin with.


message 34: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Aalto (goodreadscomkathryn_aalto) Just joined as a reader and as an author. I am a garden design consultant, historian, writer and lecturer. My next book comes out Sept 2015 by Timber Press, the world's largest and most prestigious horticultural press, and is entitled "Exploring the Hundred Acre Wood: The Natural History of Winnie-the-Pooh." I need to keep the contents hushed still, but it follows Timber Press's best selling book, "Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places that Inspired the Classic Children's Tales." Am happy to promote it when it comes out and when appropriate. Delighted to discuss the writing process, how inspiration comes, and all manner of other topics as I lecture on writing and design as well.


message 35: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Just joined as a reader and as an author. I am a garden design consultant, historian, writer and lecturer. My next book comes out Sept 2015 by Timber Press, the world's largest and most prestigious..."

Sounds fascinating - look forward to hearing about it as you work toward publication and to hear about your other work. If you are adding comments through the App you may not have seen that you can add books/authors when you refer to them through the link just above the comment box, I've added Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children's Tales. Hadn't come across that before so you are already widening my reading horizons


message 36: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Kathryn wrote: "Just joined as a reader and as an author. I am a garden design consultant, historian, writer and lecturer. My next book comes out Sept 2015 by Timber Press, the world's largest and most prestigious..."
What do you think of the countryside here in Devon? Which is your favourite area?


message 37: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Aalto (goodreadscomkathryn_aalto) Hi Carol -- I love Devon, especially the coastlines which remind me a bit of Northern California where I am from. I've hiked all over and did the Coast-to-Coast two years ago so have seen a swath of the country.


message 38: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Yes, I love the coast, particularly the North Devon coast from Lynmouth to Ilfracombe.
Son lives in Connecticut, but used to live in San Francisco, and still spends a lot of his weekends there as his partner is there. He loves the Californian coast, particularly the area near Santa Barbara. When in San Francisco he catches crabs at the Golden Gate Bridge and boils them on the beach! Poor crabs!


message 39: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Have you a favourite Californian plant?
Have you a favourite English plant?


message 40: by Ian (new)

Ian | 2991 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Just joined as a reader and as an author. I am a garden design consultant, historian, writer and lecturer. My next book comes out Sept 2015 by Timber Press, the world's largest and most prestigious..."

Just been looking at your website Kathryn. Am fascinated to know more (without asking for any spoilers) about how you approach writing; and how you are combining your obvious love of the natural world with academic and literary inspirations.


message 41: by Kathy (last edited Nov 18, 2014 02:02AM) (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Ognian Georgiev, an author-blogger has been kind enough to interview me for his blog and the resulting interview is now online. He interviews authors regularly and comes up with some thought-provoking questions. I really appreciate his trouble and interest. If you would like to read my interview, please click here
I hope you don't mind this bit of self-plugging...


message 42: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Kathy wrote: "Ognian Georgiev, an author-blogger has been kind enough to interview me for his blog and the resulting interview is now online. He interviews authors regularly and comes up with some thought-provok..."
Really enjoyed reading the interview. Must firstly say that I love your hat. It's just the right shade of purple.
Your novel sounds very interesting and am looking forward to reading it. You are obviously creative and musical and also have the determination to do what you want to do. Marketing is always difficult but it is very true what you say about it.


message 43: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Ognian Georgiev, an author-blogger has been kind enough to interview me for his blog and the resulting interview is now online. He interviews authors regularly and comes up with some ..."
Thank you Carol - and thanks for the compliment on the hat (I have a weakness for them!) Perhaps I should now give a plug to the lovely Devon lady who made it: JoJo Hats, based at the panier market in Tavistock. She has a great website too.


message 44: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Ognian Georgiev, an author-blogger has been kind enough to interview me for his blog and the resulting interview is now online. He interviews authors regularly and comes up with some ..."
Which ways do you market your books Carol? Have you found anything to be particularly effective?


message 45: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments My first book was mainly set in Devon, so was easier to market than a book not set here. Had it in various Waterstones, Smiths, garden centres, tourist info. centres etc. Wouldn't go for the tourist info. centres again, or the smaller bookshops. Many just took 6 books on a sale or return basis and that is the last I heard of them! Exeter tourist info centre was extremely good though, and they only took 10% of sales. Another T.I. O bought 10 books.
The Devon Library service, bought, I think, 7 books, which was pleasing and not a place you might normally think of.
I only had 400 books printed, so did not bother with sending it to national newspapers etc as self published, so thought it unlikely they would read it. I concentrated on sending it to competitions, local newspapers and The Historical Novel Society, and won the 2009 David St John Thomas Fiction Award.
I think Mills and Boon started off by selling in supermarkets and I think I will try that this time round. Have also wondered about Post Offices as that is a captive clientele that waits in a queue!
I also, of course, sell on Amazon, and that is one of the major advantages of being self published. You can go on selling for years, as I have done, whereas a more conventionally published book is generally only on the shelves a very short time. I believe it is 3 months for a Mills and Boon. Never quite sure how people manage to find me on Amazon, as it so huge, but they do, and even now 6 years after publication, I still sold 4 books 2 weeks ago on Amazon UK, and 2 on Amazon.com 2 weeks before.
Where do you sell? What marketing ideas have you? I would love to know. It can be useful to pool ideas.


message 46: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "My first book was mainly set in Devon, so was easier to market than a book not set here. Had it in various Waterstones, Smiths, garden centres, tourist info. centres etc. Wouldn't go for the touris..."
You've been far more imaginative than me, Carol, and more intrepid too. After having had an agent a while back with a previous book, I unsuccessfully looked for another one with DWTI, then self-published it early this year as an ebook with Amazon. I had no idea what to expect but I wanted other people to read it. The feedback justified producing a paperback version which I did in August. It's a lot easier to market with a hard copy I find. Even so, I'm still a newbie at this and not very good!
I'm very grateful to the local indie bookshops who have been very supportive but I haven't approached any of the chain bookshops yet - I've been thinking about that. DWTI can be ordered from any bookshop though because I've got it with Ingram and in their catalogue. Like you I realised that getting a review from the big newspapers, as an indie, was not going to happen. The local paper did a piece on me though and that helped sales and I listed it with Kobo and Nook for a while. Kobo brought a lot of sales in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, then it seemed to disappear. I think new books are listed prominently just to start with.
I'm back with Kindle Select atm to help with the promo of the next one when it comes out. My time has been very occupied with that of late, getting it ready to publish. I'm sorry I can't offer you any clever marketing ideas but if I come up with anything I'll certainly let you know!


message 47: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Kathy wrote: "Carol wrote: "My first book was mainly set in Devon, so was easier to market than a book not set here. Had it in various Waterstones, Smiths, garden centres, tourist info. centres etc. Wouldn't go ..."
Will have a look at Kobo and Nook. Was very shy with all this at first but have become more confident. It's definitely necessary to have a paperback done.
How does Kindle Select help with the promotion of the book? Have not done Kindle Select as I was worried about tying myself to them too closely.
Still making lots of mistakes, it's quite difficult doing it on one's own. I know that I should be on Twitter and have a Facebook site etc. but have not yet managed it, which is quite a weakness.
Very much like your website.


message 48: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Carol wrote: "My first book was mainly set in Devon, so was easier to market than a book not set here. Had it in various Waterstones, Smiths, garden centres, tourist info. centres etc..."

Kindle Select ties you in for 12 weeks. The promos offered are 5 days with the book listed free or 7 days (not necessarily consecutive) on a Countdown deal, meaning reduced with various limitations. I prefer the Countdown deal and it gets a special listing which definitely helps sales and increases visibility for a while. Your book has to be priced above a certain level. It also makes the book available to be borrowed by people enrolled on certain programmes and those borrowings do give some income. You can do it on a book by book basis so don't need to enrol your entire catalogue.
I don't do Twitter but have got a Facebook page, as you may have seen. I'm still relatively new on there and learning but it is a nice way to interact with readers.
Thanks for your kind words on the website. My husband, who's far more computer-savvy than I am, produced that for me, bless him!


message 49: by Carol (new)

Carol Dobson | 800 comments Very useful. Thanks Kathy. It's the first time I have chatted in this way about publishing. It's been quite cathartic and has focused my mind.


message 50: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Shuker (kathyshuker) | 524 comments Carol wrote: "Very useful. Thanks Kathy. It's the first time I have chatted in this way about publishing. It's been quite cathartic and has focused my mind."
You're really welcome, Carol. You've helped to focus my mind too. Thank you.


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