Almost Midnight: Three Classic Fairytales is HERE!

When I had the idea to publish a small collection of fairy tale retellings (back in June), I thought it would take maybe four months, tops. After all, I’d already written a retelling of Hans My Hedgehog that I felt very proud of, I’d started my own version of Cinderella and I’d always wanted to have a crack at my favourite fairy tale, The Little Mermaid.

What I didn’t expect was for Ella to have so much to say that her story stretched out to 25,000 words (the accepted minimum for a young adult novel) or to be so intimidated by completely rehauling a story that meant so much to me as a child that I had to rewrite The Mermaid nearly five full times.

But here we are, nine months later. The stories say everything I want them to, and they’ve been beautifully illustrated by my very talented friend Ben Sigas. I’m very proud of this book. I hope you like it.

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You can buy the eBook for US$2.99 from Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo. The paperback is available for US$11.99 from Amazon.

The YA Spring Fling Giveaway

If you’re broke but in search of exciting new YA fiction, then I have some cool news for you. I’m participating in a HUGE YA ebook giveaway, running from the 20th of March to the 3rd of April. There are over 100 books from over 70 indie authors, plus a whole bunch of loot up for grabs. I’m offering signed postcards for ten winners, but other authors (with cheaper postal systems!) are going above and beyond and dishing out signed paperbacks and other great swag.

YA Spring Fling med

So how does it work? For now, you can sign up for the mailing list (no spam, promise) which will guarantee you at least one free ebook of your choice, and will notify you as soon as the giveaway goes live. Then you just nominate which books catch your eye, and wait to to find out what you’ve won! Super easy.

Other perks? This giveaway is 100% populated by indie books – really good ones. If you’ve been hesitant about trying out indie books, then this is the perfect opportunity to dip your toes in without paying out.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up and give some wonderful indie authors a shot.

Better go sign those postcards.

x

Short Story: The Subject

It’s been a while since I shared any actual writing on here, so here’s a short thing/concept I wrote a month or so ago. I think it’s probably the writing equivalent of a doodle. A woodle?

Anyway, enjoy!

Galaxy

EDIT: 

The Subject has been accepted for publication in Perihelion magazine.

Link coming in October!

Cover, cover, on the shelf.

I’m a bookshop lurker. And a library dweller. Basically, wherever there are books, I’ll wander over and stare at them. It’s always been a thing, from when Mum was in charge of the creepy, crappy demountable library in the desert town (if five streets, one shop and one pub counts as a town) I was born in to visiting a book shop in almost every city I visit just see what they feel like. I like cosy bookshops better than shiny ones, overstuffed shelves better than orderly shelves and I like bookshops with dedicated Spec Fic and Young Adult sections.

inside crow bookshop

But this blog post isn’t a love letter to bookshops, though I could pretty easily write one.

An activity I’ve particularly grown fond of since I found myself in a publishing way is looking at covers. I always have, obviously, but it was more of a subconscious thing. I was looking at books to find a book to read. Now I look at covers to see what they’re doing, what they’re saying about the book or tone they’re trying to set. How professional do trade published covers look compared to some self published covers I’ve seen (often there’s no difference, sometimes the indies even come out on top)? How does a new-edition’s cover reflect what I know of a book I’ve already read?

It’s kind of fascinating, when you really get into it. Sometimes it’s disappointing. Other times it’s bizarre. But what it does tell you, more than anything, is how important a cover is to a book. And doing this really helped me identify what I wanted in my cover.

There’s an old saying, which everybody knows – and not just because about 70% of indie cover designers cite it on their welcome pages – that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. But that’s kind of the whole point of a cover: to give you vital information you need about genre and tone so that you know within a second whether or not it’s the sort of book you might be into. If you can’t judge a book by its cover, then the cover isn’t really doing its job.

The problem then is to convey genre and tone in a way that appeals to the target market. That’s a hard one, because different people respond to different things.

Let’s take me, for example. An avid book buyer of about seventeen years (choosing my own books), with a focus on fantasy and young adult and whose debut novel sits in both of those categories. I tend not to respond to characters on my covers, as they often seem to be portrayed as the same-looking conventionally attractive stock models with no personality indicators. I also like to come up with my own image of the protagonist, and if they’re already some bland beefcake/beauty it throws me off and colours the way I read them – if I get that far. I will make exceptions for illustrated covers or models who have some personality to them. I don’t really like silhouette covers unless they’re illustrated, and I don’t like covers that are so vague they tell me nothing.

Let’s look at some examples.

Zac & Mia is a really wonderful contemporary young adult book. I picked it up to read before doing a workshop with author A.J Betts at the Perth Writers Festival earlier this year. It’s a good thing I was going to buy it either way, because the Australian cover does absolutely nothing for me, nice as it is.

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It’s very graphic and cool, but at best it tells me it might be aimed at young adults. What’s the tone? What’s the genre? The Canadian edition, however, gives me much more of what I need:

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The whole thing kind of screams ‘young adult,’ and further than that the handwritten design implies quirkiness (the new international symbol of humour, I guess) and the love heart implies romance, sweetness and has elements of innocence. We have a genre and we have a tone. Job well done, Canadians.

Let’s take another cover that does absolutely nothing for me, the original cover of Throne of Glass:

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Here we have my pet hate: pretty stock-art/model girl with a neutral facial expression. She implies young adult by default by her age, but I’m not sure whether the photoshopped dagger and glowing cityscape denotes fantasy or historical fiction, and personally I don’t really get a sense of tone. This cover doesn’t inspire me to look at the blurb, but it does kind of make me want to watch Xena reruns.

But then, thank heavens, Bloomsbury re-issued Throne of Glass with this:

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Who is this awesome looking girl? Straight away we know this is a fantasy from her weapons and armour, and we get the idea it’s a younger, ‘cooler’ version of fantasy from the punk-ish twist on the traditional fantasy get up. But look at her face! That’s some grim determination. Immediately we can see that this is a woman who knows how to use those swords and won’t hesitate to do so. She’s beautifully illustrated and looks unique, which is impressive for a pale, white haired girl in the time of Daenerys Targaryen, and she makes me want to know more about her. All up, we can take away that this is a female-led adventure fantasy with a bit of a dark twist to it. I haven’t read this book, but now I really, really want to. And remember how I said I don’t like to have my character images dictated to me? Here I really don’t mind.

And what does this have to do with designing my young adult cover? I’ll tell you next time!

 

Now this is not a hard and fast guide to covers, or even young adult covers. These are just my thoughts and my process. Other genres have completely different rules and target audiences – erotica and romances probably should feature characters, literary fiction can be a little more artistic, and so on. You need to figure out your genre, your audience, your tone, and what you want your cover to say about your story.

But what about you, readers? What do you love to see in a cover? What are you sick of/wish you’d see more of in your favourite genres? 

 

The Edge of the Woods: Happy One Month-sary!

Today marks one month since the launch of The Edge of the Woods! Happy days! Although I still have much to learn about the world of effective marketing, I’m very happy with how things have been going and the feedback I’ve been receiving.

To celebrate, I’d like to share my favourite review so far, from Brandi on Amazon:

‘I truly enjoyed this book – as in, I was laying in bed at 2am in the morning trying to finish it knowing full well that my alarm was set to go off at 4am for work, but I could not put it down! The characters were all well written and I loved the little world she created. I love that as I was reading and thinking ahead to what I thought was going to happen, I would be surprised when Langley took the story in a different, but refreshing direction. I loved the main characters strength of character and loyalty to her loved ones, friends, and town. She had great morals and principles that we all could learn from.

I also have to add that my pre-teen daughter is reading this book right now and is thoroughly enjoying it as well.

I hope to see more great books from this talented author!’

This isn’t my favourite review because it’s so positive (though frankly that is nice!) but because it reminds me of what I loved most about reading when I was younger: sharing books with my Mum. I’d read them first and pass them on, or vice versa, and then we’d talk about them. I especially remember doing it with Isobelle Carmody books, which we still share today. Knowing that somewhere in the world a mother and daughter have done that with my book is more special than anything else I could hope for.

So happy month-sary, The Edge of the Woods! And happy month-sary, readers! Thank you to anyone who has bought and read the book, anyone who has spoken about it or recommended it, and to anyone who has taken the time to send me a kind word of support. You’ve all made the first month of my publishing career a wonderful one.

x

PS. I know you’re not supposed to read your reviews, but I’m a month in and there’s only about eleven of them so how can I not?

The Edge of the Woods: Launch Day!

IT’S HERE!

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Well, it’s kind of been. It’s 7:52pm and I launched this morning, woken up at 6.30am by a text from a friend who’d just ordered her copy. Which was sweet and exciting and fuzzy in the ‘Jesus, what time is it?’ kind of way.

But here we are. My first novel has gone live. It’s out there, like one of those baby turtles who has to scuttle (crawl? Land flap?) its way to the ocean and try not to get eaten alive. And like a million year old mama turtle, all I can do is watch and refresh the KDP reports page.

…bad metaphor?

Anyway.

It’s been a great day, with lots of people saying lots of lovely things and being all around very supportive. Thanks to them The Edge of the Woods is sitting at #1 in the Australian Kindle store under the Young Adult Women & Girls category, #860 in the Australian Kindle store overall and #33,274 at Amazon.com. Which is pretty cool!

So now we press on! A friend asked a while back that when I publish I make a blog post about my self-publishing process, so I’ll spend some time on that over the next few days, but otherwise it’s on with Book #2 and following up some leads and opportunities re: actual paid work.

It’s been a big day! Let’s all kick back with a beer and a good book.

You could always try mine, if you’re into that sort of thing.

x

 

The Edge of the Woods: Release Date!

20th of May, 2014!

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It’s finally happening, folks! After one year, five drafts and probably a couple of hundred emails with editors, proofreaders, test readers, an artist and a formatter, my debut novel is going public.

The Edge of the Woods, a 64.5k word young adult fantasy adventure about friendship, strength and courage will be available as both an eBook and paperback from Amazon on the 20th, with other ebook retailers to follow.

I can’t tell you how exciting, terrifying and weird it is to have reached this point. I’ve wanted to be a novelist for a very long time, and now to be able to call myself one for real is just… awesome. I’m very proud of my first story, and I look forward to sharing the next (and the one after that, and the one after that…) with all of you.

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I don’t know whether to drink a glass of wine, or get cracking on book #2.

Yeah, let’s go with both.

x

Note: If you’d like a chance at a free signed paperback, my Goodreads giveaway is running until May 31st.