When Readers Attack

IMG_1610As an indie author, (I love that, it sounds so  much more hip and cutting edge than self-published), every aspect of the publishing process for my Daisy Dunlop Mystery series is down to me.  I don’t have an agent to send my work to for feedback, nor do I have an in-house editor at a publishing house. In order to work out if a book is any good, or not, I am solely reliant on the kindness and honesty of others.

As I write each of my books I’m sure they’re rubbish. The plots don’t work, the characters are out of character, the ending sucks, and on and on the never ending negativity goes. When I start out I have a vague idea of what the book is going to be about, but I’m usually a third of the way in before it even starts to  make sense to me. I never have a detailed plot because I prefer my writing to be like my life, unexpected, traumatic and a never ending series of embarrassing and yet funny disasters. Honestly, I have as much fun writing the stories to find out what is going to happen as I hope readers have reading them.

I have some lovely people who critique and beta read for me, including this blogs very own Amber Foxx. These people are in my corner, and I know I can trust them to tell me when something is not working. I rewrote the end of Lost & Found because Amber said it needed more, and she was right. I also have a wonderful Greek editor, (Yep she’s Greek and her English grammar is better than mine), who edits my books at a discount for me.

My lovely Greek editor, Sotia Lazu also does my book covers, oh to be multi-talented. Lost Cause 400When this is all done, the book formatted, the blurb written, the price chosen and the book goes live I then sit and wait for an audience response. Sales of my books are never meteoric, Daisy and I console ourselves with the fact we are working on a long term plan. After Lost Cause being out for eight months I have now decided to give it away free everywhere to help Daisy get some traction. Anyway, I am now getting emails almost daily from readers.

What are they saying? Funnily enough they all like the book. Honestly! Who would have thought people who bother to email an author would be people who enjoy the book? That’s not to say they don’t have something negative to say. The people who I am now claiming as fans fall into three basic categories, ex pat Brits (all men) who love the English slang, the swearing and the feel of home my books give them. Did I mention they’re set on the South Coast of England where I grew up? The next group are UK and US readers who love everything about the book, and the third are US readers who like the story despite the slang and/or the bad language.

lostfound_02So, my dilemma, one group love the slang and bad language, and one group is not so keen. I read a lot of US books and some days I’m not sure they’re even written in English, but I muddle through. I have cut the slang back to just enough to give it an authentic UK feel and even my Irish PI is less Irish than any Irish person I’ve ever met. Maybe my readers will learn some new exciting phrases they can use at home. Reading is an adventure like world travel, it broadens the mind without the risk of Delhi belly and sunburn.

Language is unique in every culture, but you learn to adapt. When we first emigrated to Australia my husband had a job in Melbourne and one of the guys asked him what he wanted for smoko. My husband told him he didn’t smoke. The guy looked confused and said, “No mate do you want something for smoko?” My husband, “I don’t smoke.” The irrate dude, “Something to eat?” My husband, “Oh morning tea?” The rest of the construction crew now wetting themselves laughing at the pompous sounding Englishman.

So, I think, in Book 3 Lost Property which is still a work in progress, Daisy will have too continue swearing, just a little, and Solomon will have to LostProperty_05_HDkeep sounding Irish. I figure if the Greek editor can muddle through and make sense of it, then the readers can work out what is going on. Besides, if you have no idea what something in a book is make it up. That’s what I do. Whenever I read the word banquette, and it comes up more often than you would think in a US book, I imagine a massive sofa with flashing lights, or a huge feast set out for a king, like a banquet but bigger…who knows what it really is? But most times I can get the plot without having to understand every US thing in the book.  I dare you, come with me, download Lost Cause for free and come on a UK adventure that will show you an England you never knew existed.

JL Simpson

Where mystery and mayhem collide.

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Dying for a Deadline

IMG_1610By JL Simpson

Last year I decided to take on a new role. Not only was I going to be the author of my Daisy Dunlop mystery series, but I was also going to be the publisher. Gone were the days of typing ‘the end’ and then sending it off to someone else to do all the other stuff. Now I needed to sort out an editor, a cover artist, learn to format the finished masterpiece, set up accounts with Ebook retailers and finally to upload and publish the books. The feeling of power when you’re master of your own destiny is amazing. I can give books away, change the price, advertise where I want, and do my own thing with the plots, provided the readers still enjoy the story.

This was all positive stuff. I love power, it’s a heady drug. But with the positive comes a couple of negatives. The first, if my books fail I only have myself to blame, and the biggest negative of all, no one is cracking the whip. I don’t have anyone to set deadlines for me, and that can be a real problem.

From my experience people fall into two categories, those who are self-motivated and 19386145_snormal people. Self-motivated people are the ones who set their own goals and meet them. You seem them out running as the sun’s rising. Meanwhile, normal people are flailing an arm out from under the bed covers in a desperate bid to hit the off switch on the alarm clock whilst mumbling “coffee” into the pillow, hoping their spouse will rise to the challenge and get the much needed caffeine fix they require to jump start their brain.

19117412_sSelf motivated people nibble on a salad, whilst normal people inhale doughnuts swearing they’ll get back to dieting next week. Self motivated people stride down the confectionery aisle at the grocery store without so much as a sideways glance, because chocolate is not on the list. Self motivated people have organised desks, tidy houses, color co-ordinated wardrobes, their whole lives are planned, and everything runs like clockwork. They don’t forget to pay a bill, or realize they are out of milk after the stores are shut for the day. They’re not the ones running around the shopping mall on Christmas Eve looking for gifts.

If you want to be an Indie Author then you need to keep working. I’ve just read a book called, “Write, Publish, Repeat” and it’s brilliant. It says the way to success is to keep getting books out there. The more books you publish the easier it is for readers to find you. So you might think, seeing as I have only two books to my name, I’d be writing up a storm, but you’d be wrong.

I have the curse of being a normal person. My desk is cluttered, as is my mind. My house is clean but untidy, my color co-ordination is hit and miss. I forget my glasses. I lose my keys. I even forgot my son when he was a new born and left him parked at the meat counter in the supermarket until the girl at the checkout asked when my baby was due.

My day job is deadline driven. As a tax accountant their are lodgement dates that need to 36965961_sbe adhered to. Miss one of those and the tax office let you know about it. At work I’m organised and regimented because big brother is watching. With my writing no one is watching. I used to write to publisher’s deadlines. I used to have a critique partner who read along one chapter at a time telling me to hurry up and write the next, but her career took off and I was lost in the madness of it all. Now it’s all down to me.  Time marches on. Days, weeks, months fly by with little progress.

I may never stick to my diet, wear clothes that go together, tidy up my desk, empty my inbox, remember my sister’s birthday, but if I ever want to make something more than an on-again off-again hobby of writing I simply have to get a grip. And the best way to do that is set a deadline. I know that if I’m ever going to focus and finish book 3 in my Daisy Dunlop Series I need to set a publication date and book an editor. Maybe I should set a date for just before Christmas, but that still leaves the question, ‘which Christmas?’

JL Simpson

Where mystery and mayhem collide.

Website  | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Is It Me? Is It Me?

By JL Simpson

Eek…you know that horrible sinking feeling you get when you think you should have done something, and you didn’t. The butterflies in your stomach. The damp sweaty palms. The horror! The horror!  Last night sitting on the couch I wondered who was supposed to post on Thursday. Curious, I checked the list and yeah gads, it’s me!!!  However, it’s all under control. Nothing to see here. Move along people. Being late isn’t a problem, because I’m a time traveler. No, not Dr Who. He’s a time lord. I, on the other hand, am naught but a simple Aussie. So Thursday to me is Wednesday in most of the rest of the world, and I made it in time. Phew!!!

Now that I’ve sorted that out  I guess I had better do the introductions. Hello blog audience *waves*. I’m mystery author, JL Simpson. I answer to Janet but never Jan. I’m a diminutive English rose, or some might say British bulldog, who fell in love with a tall, slim, hunky Aussie and emigrated half-way around the world to seek my fortune, and the much elusive sun.

By day I crunch numbers and explain to people that, despite our wishes to the contrary, you have to pay taxes, although I do my level best to make sure my clients don’t have to pay more than their fair share. Sounds glamorous doesn’t it? Okay it doesn’t. I’m an accountant.

To balance the boring nerd factor of my job I needed a creative and outrageous alter ego. I thought about becoming a trapeze artist, but I’m scared of heights. Fire breather, like my youngest son, but I’m fond of my eyebrows. So, what I really wanted was a safe outlet for the endless voices in my head. And voila….JL Simpson….humorous mystery author was born.  One day I hope to be able to say I’m an author who moonlights as an accountant, but for now it’s entirely the other way around. However, I live in hope that my Daisy Dunlop series will make it big, or that I have such a huge back list the dollars just start to roll in. Then when I tell my family I’m busy writing they will leave me in peace and go and find their own missing socks or favorite pair of underpants…and don’t even get me started on the demands of my two crazy poodles.

Thanks for reading along, and I hope you enjoy the blog.

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