Moving to Tumblr

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Pippa DaCosta on TumblrYou can now find my ramblings over at Tumblr here: Click me. The Veil Series has really taken off, and I have some exciting news to announce in the coming weeks, but this all means I have less time to blog. Tumblr allows me to blog a little bit, while still posting general randomness (and Tumblr just rocks) so I’m moving operations over there.
You can still find me on Facebook & Twitter, as normal.
See you there! x
Pippa.

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The Identity Crisis Of New Adult (NA)

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HeartI asked in a Goodreads group back in May what ‘New Adult’ (NA) meant to them. Answers ranged from sexed up YA, to college drama, and most believed it was a genre all of its own. They are all right, and wrong. One thing is clear, NA has some identity issues.

NA is not a genre. NA, like Young Adult (YA), expresses an overall ‘feel’ for the book. It’s a marketing term; the road sign that lets readers know what to expect; the shelf marker in your bookstore. Generally, the protagonist is between 18 – 30 years old. That doesn’t mean just those in that age bracket should read it. It means, the protagonist is 18 – 30, that’s it. You can have NA fantasy, NA comedy, NA romances, NA sci-fi (I’d like to read that!). Those are genres. NA is not sexed up YA (although it can be). It’s more complex than that. It’s not all about college either. As far as I can tell, the protagonists age is the only static requirement. Beyond that, NA is anything and everything. NA has the ingredients of sex, life, and relationships, and tosses them into a big genre-cake of your choosing. But, I only know this because I’ve researched it. Readers don’t have that benefit. Publishers are beginning to realise the potential of NA. Once they do embrace the NA market I suspect we’ll see NA broaden its horizons. But NA has a long way to go before it breaks out of its own mould.

As a reader, I don’t like to be told what I can and can’t read but I do understand the need for marketing brackets. A YA read is not going to be the same as an adult read. Some books currently classified as YA have high sexual content inappropriate for under 18’s – those books are crying out for the NA bracket. As readers, we each have expectations, and if you read reviews for authors that have switched from adult to YA (for example) you’ll see some disgruntled readers who didn’t get what they expected. Marketing brackets are important. They help define the package. George R R Martin at Loncon3 recently said, “If I buy Cornflakes, I expect to get Cornflakes. I don’t expect to open the box and see Froot Loops instead.” He was talking about an author’s brand, but it applies to marketing brackets too.

New Adult is many things, and that’s the point I want to get across. It shouldn’t be dismissed as sexed up college drama, even though NA is heavily populated with these themes. Things are changing. Self-publishers spotlighted the need for NA, but now traditional publishers are now blinking into the light. NA is becoming real at last. It’s an exciting time for NA authors and readers.

Pippa.

Keep an eye out for my new NA urban fantasy series soon 😉 (See, there was a point to this post!).

http://www.pippadacosta.com

http://www.theveilseries.co.uk

GoodReads Author

 

Saying ‘No’ to a Publisher ~ Yes, I’ve Joined THAT Club

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Courtesy of Free Digital Photos.net

I started this blog in July 2013, when I decided to take my writing seriously. A year later (and with several books under my belt), I made one of the most defining decisions of my career so far. I said ‘no’ to a well-known publisher.

Around Christmas last year, I decided to try submitting to agents. Curiosity dictated I at least give it a go. I blogged about it here. Five months later, I had a handful of rejections, one very promising ‘Great, not for our market but keep shopping it around’ from a publisher, and a ‘Yes’ from another publisher. I hadn’t expected much, so when the ‘Yes’ landed in my inbox, I wandered around the house in a state of shock. We arranged a telephone meeting. We talked about The Veil Series, and where we could take it. The editor was lovely, although the answers she offered were vague. This was an ebook only deal, and if the book made enough sales, it’ll go into print. How many sales? I asked. “It depends on the market conditions,” came her reply. How about copyright? “70 years,” she replied.

Weeks passed, and not a great deal happened. A few emails bounced back and forth but the cogs turned slowly. In that time, The Veil Series started gaining ground on Amazon. My ranking climbed. And when the sequel was released in May, things really got interesting. Sales blossomed. I hadn’t heard from the publisher, so I assumed they’d lost interest (and a part of me was already wondering if going traditional was right for me).

Let me stop there and say publishers have it tough right now. They’re stuck between a rock and hard place. They’re analogue, in a digital age. I do not blame them, but if they don’t evolve, they will die out. It’s natural selection at work. The noises I heard from the publisher were not nearly encouraging enough to run a business from – and that’s what being an author is. A business. Maybes and possiblys won’t cut it. Don’t get me wrong, many authors would jump at the chance to have a publisher take the marketing out of their hands, leaving them doing what they do best – writing. I come from a business and marketing background. I’m used to sales targets, budgets, projections, and a part of me really didn’t feel comfortable with hanging my future on maybes. I took a look at their existing ebooks – checked out their rankings – and found my work ranked higher in all instances.

Then there’s the story and the characters. I’m attached to them. They’re my babies. The world I’d created was resonating with readers. If the publisher took control, would the series lose some of its gritty magic? Would they try and shoehorn the books into a marketing category that didn’t fit?

So, after much internal monologuing, when they did finally start the ball rolling, I said no, and walked away from having a lovely shiny stamp of approval on my work, from the ‘Traditionally Published Author’s Club’. Did I do the right thing? Only time will tell. I didn’t start this journey to ‘win’. I’m a writer, so I really had no choice, I was already treading this path from the first time I penned a little story in my pre-teens. No matter what happens, I will always be a writer, and nobody can take that from me. It’s enough that I can reach out to my readers directly. I control the story. If I fail, it’s on my head. In a way, I’ve already succeeded in what I set out to do. I’m telling stories. Readers don’t care what publishing house is behind a book. They rate a book on its merits. Before I seriously considered writing, I couldn’t tell you what publishing house had published any of the books on my shelf.

Of course, there is still a place for traditional publishing, but with terms that benefit the author, not stranglehold him/her. The publisher that approached me was forward thinking and tech savvy. For another author, someone not as content with marketing as I am, I’ve no doubt they’d be a perfect fit. I was lucky, humbled, and honoured to have caught their eye. It took weeks for me to wrestle both sides of the argument. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Maybe there’s another ‘me’ out there, and in that parallel universe, she said yes. I wish her the best of luck.

So, this is me. Going it alone. Authorpreneur. And I’m smiling.

http://www.pippadacosta.com
http://www.theveilseries.co.uk

This Book Has Teeth

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I’ve recently finished writing the third book in The Veil Series – and by finished, I mean the ‘first draft is done – now the hard work begins.’ This book has by far been the most difficult to write. It has fought me every step of the way. I ditched 15k words of the first draft, I suffered my first ever bout of ‘Writer’s Block’ with this monster, and it’s still grumbling in the corner and occasionally sending ‘evil-sideways-glances’ my way. For some reason, this book has teeth.

The third book will represent half way (I’m planning a total of five books in the series) – and as with all half-way stories, there’s forward momentum, but not a great deal of resolution for the characters. The MC is in an emotionally dark place – and that doesn’t get better for her any time soon. Likewise, the supporting characters are all going through some fundamental changes. I’m also in that post-first-draft-funk. I’m sure other authors must experience it. The first draft is fun. I’m discovering the story, the characters are ‘dancing’ with me, and we’re all cool. Then it’s over, I’ve got to b*tch-slap those characters into shape, shuffle their scenes around, drag the true meaning of each word, and wrestle with an unruly plot. This is hard!

On the plus side, I get to work with my very talented cover artist again. I love cover art! I also get a boost from the lovely reviews for the first two books – so I know I am capable of writing something other people actually want to read!

A Writer’s life is filled with ups and downs and if anyone ever says it’s easy, they must be doing it wrong (or they’re impossibly and unfairly talented). Writing a book is a strange, tangled process, fraught with emotional barriers and disarming achievements.

So, while I’m currently wading through the mess that is the first draft, I can at least look forward to the end product which I will distil from this concoction of words. It’s tough, especially when the book fights back, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Writer’s Block

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Hit a brick wallThe two words of terror, for any writer, but until recently I’d never experienced writer’s block and in all honesty, believed it a myth. Well, that changed a few days ago, and I think I know why.

I’ve been writing for decades. Not once had I experienced any kind of mental brick wall. What was this awful spectre tormenting writers? Well, I recently took a week off writing (put my first-draft to one side) to focus on editing and marketing my latest releases. No big deal, I’ve done it before. But when I returned to my first-draft, something peculiar happened. I wrote a few lines. I deleted them. I reread the last few chapters. Wrote another few lines, and deleted those. I spent 45 minutes writing two paragraphs (I usually write 1500wds every two hours) – and I deleted them.

A mild sense of panic set in. What was going on? Why couldn’t I write? I stared at my laptop, fingers poised over the keys, and felt my pulse begin to race. I couldn’t find my ‘zone’. Nothing had changed around me. I hadn’t undergone any dramatic life changes. It was just another night to write, but the words wouldn’t come, and the characters wouldn’t talk to me.

Wow, I thought, this is writer’s block. Palms sweaty, I sat back and examined what was going on. One full length novel published, a short story published, the second in a series to be published in a few weeks – the third in the series lodged in my head. The pressure was on. I have readers waiting for these books. They’re paying their hard earned cash to read the stories that spring from my imagination. I have to get it right.

Pressure. Expectations. Responsibility.

Ouch.

The doubts were creeping in. The weight of expectation pushing down on me. My muse, under all that weight, had run for the hills – and I couldn’t blame her.

It’s only now, a few days later, that I’ve managed to take stock of the situation, sat myself down, and given myself a good talking to, that I feel as though I have some direction again. But I can tell you, a writer lives and breaths writing, and when it won’t come, it’s terrifying; as though the light has gone out at the end of the tunnel, and you’re left in the dark. Pretty heavy stuff.

When the pressure is on, there’s nobody there to help write that first draft. No-one can put the words in my head, or type it for me. It’s just little ol’ me, my laptop, and iTunes. Sure, I can bounce ideas around the writers group, but it all boils down to my fingertips – the same as all writers everywhere.

How did I beat it? Well, technically, I haven’t, not yet, but I’m on the right track. My draft was wandering. I suspect I need to scrap 15k words. In my gut, the story isn’t right and my gut knows more than I do. I’ve outlined again and that light at the end of the tunnel is back, albeit a flickering candle flame instead of blinding daylight.

So, I suppose I can count myself among the writers who have suffered this peculiar attack and like brothers-in-arms we stand together.

I’d love to hear from others that have experienced writer’s block and how you reacted to it. Did you recognise it for what it was? Were you like me, and have never experienced it? Comment below 🙂

 

 

 

Interview With Akil

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Ageless. Eternal. Infinite. But is he bad?

Ageless. Eternal. Infinite. But is he bad?

When I conjured up Akil (The Veil Series), I knew he had potential, but I didn’t realise the depth of emotion he would inspire in readers. He’s the bad guy everyone loves to hate.

As the series progresses, we’ll be seeing more of Akil. You can’t kill an immortal, right? So he’ll be back, and he has a few surprises hidden up the sleeves of his sharp suit, and a glint of infinite knowledge in his eyes.

With that in mind, I’ve just posted an interview with Akil on my website. Here’s a snippet:

~~

His smile twitches. “You don’t know me at all. I don’t pine over the past. Immortals who lose themselves in the past are hollow wraiths. I stare ahead, I see what is to come, and I plan accordingly. The devil is in the details.”

“What are your plans exactly?”

I sit very still and watch him with the same intensity he affords me. Beneath that sharp suit and the overbearing masculinity of him, an ageless demon waits. He is a trap. What you see, is not what you get. The truth is there, behind his eyes. People, our lives, our loves, mean little to him; we’re just dust in the wind.

“I am the Prince of Greed,” he says. “The clue is in the name.”

~~

You can read the full interview here: http://pippadacosta.wix.com/beyond-th…

And if you haven’t met Akil; why not take a peek?

Please do comment on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/theveilseries

Do you think Akil is as bad as he makes out? What do you think might happen in book 2? What do you want to happen? 😉

It’s the Beyond The Veil eBook Publication Day

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Urban Fantasy Out Now

Urban Fantasy Out Now

Some books have to be dragged into the world, kicking and screaming, others come so easily they almost write themselves. While I can’t say Beyond The Veil was an ‘easy’ book to write, it’s certainly been an enjoyable one.

We follow the main character, an emotionally (and metaphysically) wounded half-demon woman called Muse. She’s tried everything to turn her back on her violent past, but when a less-than-human assassin attempts to kill her, she must return to the one man she hoped never to see again and ask for help. The Prince of Greed is not known for his charity. The price is high and the cost could tear her apart.

When your ex is the Prince of Greed, you’d better be ready to raise hell.

I have to thank my editors, especially Karen for making me chuckle at my own daftness, and the delightful Anna from Celairen Art who worked on the cover (she’s awesome).

So hop on over to Amazon and take a look. The paperback will be out next week.

www.amazon.com

www.amazon.co.uk

www.facebook.com/theveilseries 

Dreams of Dragons

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image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.netIn UK schools during the 1980’s pupils attended Monday morning assemblies. We’d all dutifully file into the main hall and sit cross-legged on dusty floors (instantly dirtying our white pop-socks). Each of us would have a hymn book (likely with the covers chewed, torn, and unrecognisable) from which we’d sing three songs. Most songs, if not all, were overtly religious.

One song, however, I looked forward to singing, not least because it didn’t try and force-feed me religion.

When A Knight Won His Spurs – Jan Struther

When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand,
For God and for valour he rode through the land.

No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
‘Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth.

(View a school choir singing it here) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py3KAhua6yc

At the time, I didn’t look too deeply at the lyrics or care much about the message. I just know it mentioned knights and dragons, so it was cool.

However, looking back on all of this with adult eyes I understand what appealed to my young impressionable mind. This little hymn isn’t about knights and dragons at all. It’s about life. It’s about having the courage to grab opportunity by the balls and face your fears.

We don’t need heroes to save us. We are heroes.

We need not be knights, to battle dragons.

So, I never thought I’d say this, but thank you ‘old skool’ teachers for the weirdness that was School Assembly. Whad’yah know, I did learn something after all.

Making Luck

So, that peculiar time of the year when I eat too much chocolate and wander about the house like a helium balloon (i.e. not particularly useful but there all the same) has come and gone, and it’s back to work for me. Work means looking after the kids, and writing until my eyes bleed and my fingers become numb.

I’ve not really stopped over the holidays – not like I could when I worked 9 to 5; the urge to write can’t be turned off. Writers don’t get holidays. When we’re not writing, we’re thinking about writing, or reading about writing. That far away look in my eyes? Yup, that means my thoughts are away with the fairies (or in the case of my current WIP – the demons). We don’t get down time. The ideas don’t wait for the holidays to end.

As I was saying; didn’t really stop over the holidays. I dabbled in a bit of marketing for my short story, Hunted – in preparation for the release of the next novel, plus I sent some submissions to agents. Gasp! I know, I know, I was all for author-publishing and I still am but I’ve come to see the advantages to both sides of the coin. Since I’ve had my first rejection, I guess I can technically call myself a writer. So why the submissions? Well, for one, it just makes sense to seek an agent who knows a darn sight more than I ever will about the industry. Until I try it, I won’t know, will I? Never let it be said I won’t try something once. I’m all for making informed decisions, so I can’t say no to the traditional route without getting my feet wet. Right?

So I’ve been going through the rigmarole of query letters, synopsis, sample chapters, researching agents, and each submission went off with a little flurry of excitement. I fully expect to be rejected by all, while at the same time harbouring a tiny flutter of hope. Nothing ventured… (I love an adventure/challenge).

This is where I stand in 2014, with so many possibilities ahead. The agent game is one of luck as well as talent (I’m not suggesting I have either). It’s a little like standing in a room with a hundred doors, holding the key to your future, and then spending an indeterminate amount of time trying to get the damn key to fit the right lock. I do believe in luck, to a degree, but mostly I believe we make our own luck.

Let’s raise a glass to luck. And if luck doesn’t work, hello author-publishing. 😉

Guest Author Pippa DaCosta

When A Story-Reading Ape tracks you down for an insight; you don’t say no 😉

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Pippa DaCosta

Writing is a huge part of my life; it’s a part of my personality, a part of what makes me, me.  I began writing in my early teens, finding the act of writing both cathartic and liberating. Through the eyes of my characters I was able to explore different worlds, to challenge my own perceptions and to delve deep into the psychology of what makes each of us tick.

I would write reams and reams of stories, line after line of hastily scribbled thoughts borne into the world at the tip of the pencil and then resigned to the cupboard (or attic). There was no hope of publishing, not back in the late 80’s, early 90’s. I managed to purchase a copy of the Writers Yearbook and quickly balked at the idea. I was alone in my written worlds, tucked away in a tiny village in North Devon and too…

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