It’s my birthday: my novel is free to celebrate!

I’m 31 years old today!

To celebrate, my twisty-turny dystopian YA novel The Pulse is FREE to download from Amazon UK and Amazon US (and on all the regional Amazons, too!) so do, please, download, share the link and either forget about it completely, or enjoy it!

I’ve had a wonderful year. Being 30 was much better than I’d imagined. I thought my thirties would be all grown-up and scary, but actually, I’ve been surprisingly childlike and daft, and also, also, much braver than in years. I’ve published my novel, run a half-marathon, lost a slew of weight and fixed a lot of food and exercise things in my mind and body, made some big decisions about who and where I want to be, and, more than anything, I’ve had some really great times. Actual fun. I forgot to have fun a lot in my twenties, perhaps because I was so sure I ought to be, and that I was in some way doing it wrong. I am now much more sure that I’m doing things right.

Here’s to 31! (And download my book, or get someone else to do it 😉 I’m sure I’ll blog about this whole giving-away-a-book experience at some point, but more than anything, it’s the most I’ve achieved in ages, and giving it away for a day seems like a genuinely good way to celebrate.

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So I Wrote A Book…Now What?

Well, it turns out that there are only so many ways (see half a dozen of my previous posts) you can tell the people you already know that you wrote a book, and there’s only so long you can maintain an anxious level of hoping that they’ll have the time/inclination/finances to buy/read/tell you they’ve read it.

So what next?

I honestly thought that the moment I threw at Amazon, I’d be turning my back on the site with a wry first-timer smile of relief on my face, before immediately diving headlong into scrawling a slew of short stories, novellas and all sorts, riding high on the sense of accomplishment.

What’s actually happened is that, first of all, I’ve had several GAH THAT ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THERE moments result in frenetic and continuous re-reading of my own book, which is the kind of crisis that I really thought my hefty editing process would have avoided, followed by a nagging sense that, after all this time, maybe it is an okay book and maybe it’d be nice if I could actually ‘get it out there’ a bit more. When you see actual famous people working their arses off to flog more books to people, speaking everywhere at everything and appearing at any bookshop a level above one at a school fete…suddenly you think, well, maybe I could do more.

I don’t seem to be able to do more. I keep going back and looking at NetGalley and thinking, well, for $399 maybe I could get my book into the hands of people who might really like it who might tell others about it…

…and then I think, NO STOP THAT IS CRAZY, YOU HAVE NOT SO MUCH AS £3.99 FOR SUCH NONSENSE AT THIS TIME. So there’s that.

It bothers me slightly that I haven’t leapt into what’s next, though. I’ve wanted to, but keep stopping myself. I’ve a lot to work with.

– a mystery/romance/magical realism novel that’s at the 80k-of-a-first-draft stage but has a beginning, middle and end. Two things are preventing progress with this, a) I can’t decide if I want to use actual history for it (which will involve research and possible difficulties accurately/vaguely enough portraying the situation to bother using it at all) and b) in its current state, there is a vast time travel tangent that I can’t decide whether or not to keep and run with, or remove and replace with something more ‘standard adventure-y’. Is it flippant? Is it annoying? Is it a waste of something that might actually be a perfectly good ‘straightforward fiction’ novel? When I went back to the first draft, I was genuinely surprised by how much I liked it, and if I’ve a chance of writing any kind of historical romance novel, this is it. I’m not sure I want to twist it into something that might not quite come off.

– A sequel to The Pulse, which I’ve a good chunk of and a lot to do with, but somehow it feels a bit ‘eggs in one basket’ to focus on that right now. In case my early love of the book is actually mistaken, perhaps. Or because I want to do all the different things at once.

– My NaNoWriMo from last year, which sits at a miserable 50k. I love the central character, and had an interesting premise for it, but, damnit, I never got any further than that premise, and I just couldn’t square it into any kind of fully-functioning story. I have a feeling that one needs a long time to grow in the back of my head before I can do anything useful with it.

– An outline for a kids-in-space novella that may or may not be worth it.

– A collection of short stories I’m working on with my partner.

It’s almost like I’ve so much choice, I can’t commit to any one thing. The mystery-romance thing is probably the strongest, and of most interest to me at this moment, but there’s that a) and b) getting in my way, and I can’t find myself arriving at a decision. So what do I do? I make tea and start browsing other blogs, and think about organising my T-shirts and how I really ought to listen to the excessively long Stephen King books I keep accidentally spending my Audible credits on.

Which reminds me of another thing: I’ve been thinking about making an audiobook. Thinking about it in the very loosest, earliest sense. I like reading out loud, I like the sound of my voice, I’d be happy to read out The Pulse…at the same time I’m aware of the excellent-sounding Audible scheme for self-published authors to work with voice actors and wonder if that wouldn’t be better…more because I have no idea how I’d go about ‘properly’ recording the sound of my own voice for a quality higher than ‘podcast’, and because, as you have to charge more for an audiobook, you want to give people a really decent experience. I’d rather not get in the way of my own stuff. Any thoughts are welcome, even more so if you’ve any experience with recording/having had your work recorded…

The Pulse: Of Castles and Diamonds, Oh My*

I published my book today. If you’d like to preview/read it, you can do so here: UK edition or here US edition. Also on most international sites via the search thing, ‘The Pulse A E Shaw’ ought to do it XD

Also I have a Goodreads thing, I obsessively catalogue my reading and like to find books in all the places, so having an author account is crazy exciting. Come, add me.

The #1 thing people asked me when I said I’d a book was, ‘What’s it about?’ And even after infinite attempts to answer this question without ruining the general point of reading it, I still struggled. This should’ve been a sign that this wasn’t going to be an easily saleable thing, and it’s certainly something I’ll keep in mind for the next book. This is more of a ‘what’ book than a ‘how’, and I think that’s where the problem lies. Finding out what it’s actually about is, characters aside, the general purpose of reading this, as far as I can see at this point.

It’s also why I’m really looking forward to seeing if anyone does read it. Then they can tell me what they think it’s about. I also worry that it’s like some massive Rorschach thing – everyone will turn around and go, OMG, this is a massive metaphor for lmnop attribute about yourself that you clearly haven’t noticed (quite possibly being an only child, for example). This is perfectly possible, and I’m much more frightened of doing this than I’d thought I’d be.

I wasn’t anticipating a minor, but exceptionally irritating formatting screw-up when I first uploaded my book, so I’ve not been able to do the YAY HERE IT IS thing I wanted to do. I probably should’ve expected such a thing, because I did decide to go with inserting dividers in places, rather than just asterisking everything, but it all looked fine enough on the preview, so I went for it…and then it was annoyingly unfine. But I’m working on it. And I’ve done it now. So here’s this post. Eeeep. Hi. I’m going to try to be a real author.

*not the actual subtitle. possibly should’ve been.