Taking part in #NovellaNovember

Have you been reading novellas this November? I was very excited when the lovely Poppy Peacock asked me to be on her blog to talk about some of my favourite novellas for ‪#‎NovellaNovember‬ You can read the post here: http://poppypeacockpens.com/2015/11/29/novellanov-favourites-from-kendra-olsen/

Make sure to check out the other novella posts while you’re there. Some fantastic choices have been mentioned!

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My ePublish Book – A service to help authors wanting to self-publish

Today, we have the lovely and talented Claire Morley with us to talk about her experience of self-publishing and how that led to her providing a service to help other authors become self-published. 

Welcome, Claire! 

Firstly a huge thank you to Kendra for another opportunity to post on her blog.

Over the year I was writing my debut novel, Tindog Tacloban, I daydreamed of agents fighting over the chance to represent me and raising fortunes for the charities I support in the Philippines. In my head I built refuges for children rescued from the clutches of human trafficking, with money earned from the film rights.

I’m sure I’m not alone in these hopes for my novel. Of course the reality is despite some lovely rejection letters, my book just wasn’t what agents were looking for. And so to self-publishing. Thanks to Amazon, (and other ebook retailers – Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo – my experience so far is only with Amazon though) this has become a very real alternative for authors. The growth of sales in electronic books has been phenomenal. We are now able to access a book with a couple of clicks of an iPad, PC, Kindle.

Having made the decision to self-publish Tindog Tacloban, I wanted to do it properly. I invested in an online course, downloaded books and researched self-publishing. I spent weeks preparing, to make sure I was going to give my self-published book the best possible chance of success.

The first thing I learned about was how to format a book and create a cover. Next were the options Amazon offer for promoting your book through their programmes, but perhaps the most important thing I learned was how to market a book. It’s all very well uploading your book to Amazon and telling your friends and family about it, of course some of them (and I can assure you not all of them) will buy a copy, but then what?

Well basically, marketing, marketing and more marketing. And these days that means social media – Facebook author pages, Twitter and continual Tweeting, LinkedIn, Pinterest. It means approaching reviewers and book bloggers, organising Virtual Book Tours, offering to write guest blogs, uploading a profile on Goodreads and any other book website and good old fashioned PR.

All of this takes time, quite a lot of time. Most new authors will have busy lives, they’re probably working or parents or both. Basically they won’t have the time necessary to dedicate to marketing their book. That’s where the idea of My ePublish Book came in. Having had the experience and learning from some of the common errors of self-publishing with my own book, I felt I might have something valuable to be able to offer new authors.

Enter my first guinea pig. Anne Hamilton had first been my tutor at writingclasses.co.uk, later becoming my mentor, proof reader and editor for Tindog Tacloban. When I told her about my self-publishing journey she asked if I would be able to help with the re-launching of her book, A Blonde Bengali Wife. Anne liked the idea of having more control over the publishing process, but had little idea of the technical aspects or the promotion. We decided it would make the ideal case study for my new website – myepublishbook.com.

We worked together on building her social media presence, finding reviewers and useful websites, creating author’s pages and generating interest around the subsequent launch. While Anne worked on, in my opinion one of the most critical aspects of self-publishing – proofing and editing – I set up a Twitter account, a Facebook author page and an Amazon account for A Blonde Bengali Wife and started the marketing aspect. I’m very pleased to say all our hard work paid off. Anne achieved bestseller status in all three of the categories she listed the book in and even better, in one of them she reached the number one spot.

The great thing with self-publishing is you have the control and I want authors to retain that. My ePublish book is not a publisher, we’re your support team. We work with the author to provide them with the service they want. Some people have no knowledge of nor interest in social media, we can do it all for you; others may already have accounts set up and be very proactive. We offer a tailor-made service, no two clients will have the same requirements. The idea is that we will work with an author for four to six weeks on marketing and formatting, after which we hand over all control back to them. All through the process we will provide regular reports on progress and at the end suggestions on how they can continue to increase awareness and hopefully sales of their book.

Traditional publishing and finding an agent is competitive in the extreme, especially for a new author. Self-publishing provides a fantastic alternative and I hope My ePublish Book will be able to help authors achieve their dream of seeing their book on sale.

Author small
Anne Hamilton’s case study can be found at: http://www.myepublishbook.com/case-study

My ePublish Book website: http://www.myepublishbook.com/home

Claire Morley worked in IT marketing for 15 years before moving to North Cyprus 13 years ago, where she now works as wedding planner.

She wrote Tindog Tacloban after volunteering in the Philippines following the devastation wreaked by typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, which ripped into Tacloban destroying homes and killing thousands. All proceeds from sales of the book go to help charities Claire worked with during her time there.

You can follow Claire on Twitter @clairemorley15 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clairemorleyauthor/

Fairies and folklore in The Forest King’s Daughter

canstockphoto0193559 fairy ring

Novel excerpt:

After breakfast Ingrid went for a walk in the nearby forest. When she arrived at her ash tree she saw that a circle of frozen mushrooms had formed nearby — a fairy circle. Mushrooms like these were inedible — poisonous — and if you ate them you went straight to the enchanted world of the fairy folk, where you joined in their ghostly dances until you dropped dead. According to the old tale, once you landed in the fairy realm, time passed at a different speed. While you happily danced, thinking that only a few minutes had passed and you could soon be back at your loom, in actuality many decades had passed. All of your family and friends had died and no one ever knew where you had gotten to.  Eventually, being human, your body would run out too and you would drop to the ground with a thud and the fairy folk would carry you away to their secret lair deep underground to be presented as a sacrifice to their gods.

Ingrid never set foot within a fairy circle, even though she was no longer sure that she believed the old wives tale. Being near to one was comforting, despite the creepy legend. It was as though you were on the brink of two worlds, the practical everyday one and the one where almost anything could happen.

photograph of original Mimi Jobe painted plate

photograph of original Mimi Jobe painted plate

It was the idea of being on the brink of two worlds which really interested me in this legend. When I was a child, I loved fairy tales and fairies. My sister and I collected books about fairies and could spend many hours studying their intricate and detailed illustrations. What made fairies so special to me was their ability to take you into the realm of imagination, to a place where the normal rules didn’t apply.

Of course, this legend isn’t unique to Sweden. It’s common all over Europe and goes all the way back to Shakespeare’s time. In The Tempest, Act 5, Scene 1, Prospero intones:

‘Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds…’

5698409205_fc79852265_b

According to the legends, the ring was created by the fairies circular dance which burned the mushrooms into the ground. If you happened to enter it you would become enchanted.

Another type of fairy creature in Sweden is the tomte, which is a bit like a gnome. Nowadays they often feature on Christmas cards, a sort of Scandinavian Santa Claus, but they started out as house sprites.

At one point in Ingrid’s story, her mother is recalling an incident from her youth. She says, ‘I began to scream. Just as the sound escaped my mouth a dark figure emerged from the shadows. I’d never seen the person before. Part of me wondered if he wasn’t a tomte come for revenge as I never offered them anything.’

In traditional folklore, every house had a tomte, which helped look after the home and farm. They could be mischievous however, and so had to be placated with kindness and the occasional bit of food. This was especially so on Christmas Eve when the woman of the house had to leave them a bowl of porridge with butter on it in order to continue receiving his help, or rather, not invoke his rage.

The well known Swedish writer, Selma Lagerlöf, a Värmland native, wrote her famous children’s adventure story, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, about a troublesome young boy who abused the animals on his family farm. One day when his parents were in church and had left Nils behind to study his Bible verses, Nils caught a tomte in his net. The tomte managed to escape by turning Nils into a tomte. Nils was now able to communicate with the animals on their farm, who were angry with him for making their lives so miserable. To atone and return to his human state he must help teach their domestic goose how to fly like the wild geese.

canstockphoto8267748 Nils stamp

Of course, the most obvious legend in the book is that of The Forest King’s Daughter herself. This is a myth I made up based on the Swedish elk—also known as a moose in North America—being called the king of the forest by Swedish hunters. These kings of the forest are well known in Värmland, and though their numbers are increasing, they continue to elude hunters.   

resting-moose-1365531

TFKD cover

You can purchase The Forest King’s Daughter from Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Forest-Kings-Daughter-Kendra-Olson-ebook/dp/B00UBTSNBI/  and Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Forest-Kings-Daughter-Kendra-Olson-ebook/dp/B00UBTSNBI/