Writing on, and about, an island

Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Going Offline to Get the Book Done…

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Island Life, Tasmania, Travel, Writing on April 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front as I’m getting my book, Undercurrent, ready for publication next month.

I’ve had a great response from my Carmen Cromer author site (Cromer means ‘lake of crows’. Creepy…), and on the Undercurrent prologue I uploaded (in part to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, as a conspiracy theory surrounding it is a major plotline in my crime novel).

Now, I’m off tomorrow morning – on my own – to my family’s 1950s surf shack on the East Coast of Tasmania, for a full five days. Enforced solitude. No internet. No phone calls. No-one to hear me scream if…

The location of the shack, on the edge of the cliff above the beach, is perfect, secluded; you can hear the waves at night…

… and it’s going to scare the s**t out of me to be there on my own.

I’m totally afraid of the dark. I’m one of these people who (at 35 years old) still checks under beds, sleeps with a knife under my pillow and has to close all the cupboards. I’m very suggestible. Perhaps that’s what’s makes me an effective crime writer?

Anyway, I wil be channelling my pure terror into getting Undercurrent polished for publication.

Wish me well (and at least one decent night’s sleep).

Monday Morning Inspiration for Creatives #4

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Writing on April 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

Again, from Brain Pickings – a little bit of John Cleese genius, on the fact that:

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.

This has become increasingly obvious to me over the years. I may have been told I had writing talent when I was six years old, but resting on the laurels of that talent doesn’t work once you’re a grown-up – you’ve got to put your creativity into operation every day.

That’s why I feel I’ve reached a personal milestone in finally getting my author site up, and committing to the publishing of my debut crime novel, Undercurrent – something that has strangely little to do with writing talent.

I’m kind of approaching it like this (another Cleese-ism)…

… which is handy, because I’m filled with doubts about what I’ve written (I swing wildly between being either impressed by what I’ve written, or too embarrassed to show it to anyone). But, I can’t dwell on that – I’ve just got to remain focused and trust myself and my writing.

And I don’t really have time to dwell on the correctness or talent (or lack thereof) of my writing. There is simply too much going on – when you self-publish, you’re not just polishing the book, but also dealing with marketing, web design stuff, and all the other ‘non-writing’ things that go with being a writer.

Which leads to…

Now that I’ve launched my site with the Undercurrent Prologue, I’m aiming to have the complete novel ready for sale in about 30 days. To do that, I need some seriously focused time and space.

And this is why Cleese’s “5 factors that you can arrange to make your lives more creative” is particularly pertinent right now. I’ve organised the first 3 (with some time off work) – the other 2, I’m working on…

I’ve Launched my Author Website!

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Writing on April 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

So, my author site – CarmenCromer.com – is live!

I’d love you to check it out, and download and read the first chapter of my murder-mystery, Undercurrent.

Please let me know what you think…

“Undercurrent”: Sneak Peek at My Crime Novel Cover

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Tasmania, Writing on April 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Here’s the cover for Undercurrent, my debut crime novel.

My CarmenCromer.com author site will be live tomorrow – to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (my plot revolves around the conspiracy theory) – with a free PDF of the prologue available for download…

What do you think of the cover? The image was taken a couple of weeks ago, at Tinderbox, Tasmania (where a lot of the book is set). It looks good as a thumbnail and in greyscale, too – which are both important for an ebook.

Guten Tag, German Readers

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Writing on April 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm

The main character in my Tasmanian crime book is from Berlin. Her name is Cattis Cull, she’s a 33-year-old academic – and I only have a vague idea as to why I ‘made’ her German… I say made, but characters tend to create themselves.

Perhaps she’s German because:

  • I love Berlin
  • I have German heritage (my last name was Anglicised during WW1), and learnt German growing up
  • One of my favourite books is Anna Funder’s Stasiland
  • I can remember where I was when the Wall came down
  • There’s something enigmatic, mysterious and cool about Berlin

I kind of imagine her looking like actress/author Kitty Aldridge.

Again, not sure why.

The Titanic Conspiracy Theory

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Tasmania, Writing on April 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

The connecting ‘thread’ through my Tasmanian-based crime novel is a pretty contentious conspiracy theory surrounding the Titanic…

The ‘switching’ of the Titanic

As the theory goes, the Titanic didn’t go down on 15 April 1912—it was her sister, Olympic. The Olympic was scrapped in 1935; now, the Titanic lies buried so deep there’s no technology capable of unearthing it.

The propellers are the only thing that can prove the ‘switch’ theory, as they are branded with serial numbers: the real Titanic’s number is 401; the real Olympic, 400…

This conspiracy theory has provided me with a very juicy plot device. Imagine the implications if this conspiracy theory was proved!

Strangely, despite the fact that I’ve based my crime book around the conspiracy theory, I don’t have an obsessive interest in the Titanic – just the ‘regular’ level of curiosity and empathy. As a writer, I’m drawn to the pathos in what is an enduring human tragedy.

 

The Importance of Being Edited

In Books, Writing on April 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

When it comes to the wordsmithing of the books we read and write, there are two main schools of thought:

1. As long as the story’s cracking, I don’t really mind a few mistakes

2. Attention to detail is everything – I won’t compromise on good grammar!

I read two thought-provoking articles last week that kind of fell into either camp.

Firstly, Susan Kiernan-Lewis’ piece on “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good”

Secondly, The Digital Reader’s piece on “eBooks: Is it the Editor in Me?”

Both opinions are valid.

But, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t care how good your story is – if I sniff out errors (whether grammatical or structural or whatever), I’ll immediately turn off your book. It almost makes my eyes bleed.

And, as an experienced sub-editor and proofreader (and someone verging on having OCD about good use of language), I can spot sloppy work at about a trillion paces. It says to me that you don’t care about what you’ve written – you haven’t given your writing the respect it deserves. Or your reader.

Now, there’s no doubt that mistakes exist in traditional books (I constantly find bloopers in Agatha Christie’s reprints). But, it’s the rise of the self-published eBook that has really brought the issue of quality control to the fore.

The majority of what you should invest in an ebook is your time and energy. As Smashwords’ CEO Mark Coker expertly explains in his free manual, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, there is very little financial investment required.

HOWEVER: You should never, ever scrimp on getting your manuscript edited and proofread. It’s false economy. A professional editor won’t cost you the earth, but the result they’ll give you is priceless (to find a good editor in Australia, contact your Society of Editors state chapter).

Please – if not for yourself, then at least do it for me…

Monday Morning Inspiration for Creatives #3

In Books, Career, Crime & Mystery Writer, Island Life, Tasmania, Writing on April 9, 2012 at 11:02 am

It’s 10.45am on Easter Monday, and I’m sitting in the living-room of my Tasmanian house – with the wood-fire going already… Autumn has hit suddenly. Fortunately, autumn was made for Tasmania. Cold, sunny days; red-golden poplars; excellent local apples…

Anyway, this Brian Pickings post on short stories was well-timed – particularly because I’ve started working on a bunch of very short stories for a new online writing project I’m really excited about.

I particularly like tip number 5:

Start as close to the end as possible.

Full-length novels are hard to write (you’ve got to be built for stamina). Short stories are equally hard, but for different reasons (you’ve got to be built for speed).

PS: Speaking of stamina and speed, I’m putting the final touches on my author site to be ready for the launch next weekend (15 April).

What Title Should I Choose for My Crime Novel?

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Tasmania, Writing on April 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I’m about 10 days away from launching my dedicated author site (CarmenCromer.com). Exciting but scary.

Although I’ll be launching with a free chapter (with the full book to follow later), I’ll still need to upload a ‘coming soon’ banner and the book cover.

Little problem…

I’m still undecided on the title of the book.

I started with Tinderbox, as that’s where it’s mainly set. And ‘tinderbox’ is a noun that pretty well describes the plot…

However, there are oodles of books out there already titled Tinderbox.

I have two other options I’m considering.

COLD ISLAND

UNDERCURRENT

Do either grab you?

There will probably be three cover images to choose from (choose your favourite when you buy). Like this…

All three of my covers will have this sort of feel…

(Stinson Beach, CA Sunset 6:34pm © Eric Cahan)

As background, here’s my (short) synopsis…

It’s 15 April 2012. And the Tasmanian coastal town of Tinderbox is still sleeping when an expert diver plunges into the dark waters off its shore. Within minutes, she is dead; carbon dioxide the silent killer.

The creepy, lonely death of the diver sparks a disturbing journey for Berlin-born academic, Cattis Cull—one that takes her deep into a conspiracy theory surrounding the greatest maritime mystery the world has known: the century-old Titanic tragedy.

Cattis’ unravelling of the crime takes place against a backdrop of political corruption, the contested Tasmanian wilderness, and an undercurrent of menace that began with slaughtered aborigines and cannibalistic convicts… and continues to this day.

Will curiosity kill Cattis? 

Having read the synopsis, do either of those potential titles make sense?

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