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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?

Writers – Are You a Doer or a Talker?

In Books, Writing on March 28, 2012 at 11:22 am

If you want to get a book published, this is the question you have to ask yourself – and be honest when you answer.

I felt compelled to write about this today because I’m staring down the barrel of a self-imposed deadline. I know myself pretty well, and I know that I do my best work  when my back’s up against a wall. It helps me ‘jump my shark’: perfectionism.

My perfectionism can be crippling. Working as a journalist and an advertising copywriter has cured me of perfectionism in the corporate world, and gone a little way to helping me overcome it in my personal writing, but it’s a daily struggle!

It’s not that writing is hard – it’s avoiding distractions and staying driven that’s fucking hard.

Are you a doer or a talker?

Doers…

  • Have no expectations (you may finish, you may not ­– but that’s not the point right now)
  • Let go of perfectionism (worry about perfect later – just get the words on the paper)
  • Do the hardest things first (the easiest things in life always get done anyway)
  • Make writing a priority every day (not TV, shopping, cleaning, sleeping in…)
  • Work smarter, not harder (identify the time of day when you’re most energetic, creative and inspired – and dedicate that time for writing)

Talkers…

  • Make excuses

Having said that, I believe it’s important to still talk about yourself as a writer – it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it starts to make your dream real.

 

Kickstarter for Authors

In Books, Career, Writing on March 28, 2012 at 10:55 am

Most of you’ve probably heard of Kickstarter, the crowd-funding site that’s claiming it’ll deliver more money to artists in the US than the Government contributes.

Now, here’s a version just for authors. What do you think? If nothing else, it makes you think about what the time you spend on publishing your book is actually worth in real dollars…

An Idea: Writing Real Letters to Your Readers

In Books, Crime & Mystery Writer, Writing on March 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

There’s a newish service you can subscribe to, called Letters in the Mail, where you receive ‘real’ letters in the post from authors on a regular basis. Apparently, it’s pretty successful. It gave me the idea that I should take the time to write – that’s handwrite – to people I know about the launch of my soon-to-be published book. It wouldn’t be to a lot of people, but in ‘this day and age’ (I sound like my grandmother), you should never underestimate the personal touch…

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