Tuesday, 18 March 2014

New Covers, New Releases and New Businesses

Well, it has been a busy few months.. there have been a few changes.

First up, The Sphinx Project has been rereleased. There aren't many HUGE changes, I've left the bones as they were so if you've already read it you don't need to reread it, but I've tightened it up a little and smoothed some parts down. I couldn't change everything I wanted to because I needed to make sure Fourteen Days would still make complete sense for those readers who read TSP when it first came out. The ebook is no longer exclusive to Amazon, either. You can currently find it at Amazon, Kobo and Nook. I'm still waiting for it to appear in the Apple store.

Secondly, Fourteen Days is now available on digital shelves (almost) everywhere. The story picks up about six months after The Sphinx Project finished and, well, some things have changed.

"How far would you go to save the life of your sister? Six months have passed since Michaela, Nicole and Mouse escaped the scientists and their experiments. Life beyond the lab isn't what they expected. When Nicole is struck down with a virus that wreaks havoc on her body and mind, Michaela finds herself in a heartbreaking position. Her quest to recover an antidote for her sister could lead them back into captivity, especially if she puts her trust in the wrong person. Is Matt telling her everything, or is a new boy, with eyes the color of ice, showing her the truth of the matter?"

Like The Sphinx Project, Fourteen Days is available through Amazon, Kobo and Nook, and I'm waiting on Apple.

Thirdly, I have revealed the new cover for the first episode of On The Wings of Aether, my serialised novel formerly referred to as Cora. It will be available from March 28th, and the second will go live in April.

"Throughout history the elemental sorcerers have shied from contact with non-magical folk. Well, until they had no other choice.

Cora has always known she’s special. Her mother drummed it into her, along with the fact she could never reveal why, since before she was old enough to understand. If her powers were to be discovered the Council would take her, whether she wanted to go or not. With the harvest fast approaching it’s up to Cora to avoid detection otherwise both she, and her best friend, could be facing a future in captivity."

Last, but not least, I've launched a new little business to help other authors who want to free up their time to write. As a virtual assistant I can format ebooks, arrange blog tours and so much more, so if you're an author and you're sick of doing the little fiddly bits instead of writing, pop over to my new site and have a peek at what I'm offering.

I hope you're all wonderful, I can't wait to share more of my writing with you! Make sure you don't miss out on any updates by subscribing to my newsletter in the right toolbar.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Time To Stop Beating Around The Bush

Okay, my lovelies, it's time for me to be candid. To be honest, I'm no sure where to start, so this blog might end up a little jumbled...

The last year has been incredibly difficult. I work full time, I intern, I do my best to maintain my relationships with the people most important to me, and I try to write. I'm not going to even start on the personal issues, impersonation (yes, impersonation) and piracy. I took on way too much, I didn't make time for what I held most dear, and I made stupid mistakes. Looking back I kick myself for messing some things up so spectacularly.

You probably won't know what I'm talking about. Some of you might...

I guess the easiest way to get right into this is to say I'm starting over, right from the beginning.

Two years have past since I finished The Sphinx Project, and my writing has changed significantly. I like to think it's improved, but only time will tell.

It was always my belief that once a book has been published, that's it. It's done. But I've been wrestling with this for some time, since I started thinking seriously about where I was heading and what I deemed to be important, and I really think The Sphinx Project needs some attention.

In 2014 I will be reissuing a revised edition of The Sphinx Project. It will be available on all sites, although it may take some time to filter down to different retailers. If you've already purchased The Sphinx Project through Amazon, I believe you'll be able to download the updated file for free. As for other retailers, I'm not exactly sure how that will work.

If you've already read TSP, I won't be changing any of the'bones' of the story, just giving it a bit of a makeover.

Looking ahead, my release schedule for 2014 is not set in stone. All going well, you should expect Fourteen Days, the sequel of The Sphinx Project, to be available on February 28th, exactly two years after TSP was released. The next few episodes of Cora will be available early in the year too.

After that, I'm considering a few options. I have one more book to write and release in my Chimaera Chronicles series, and a few other ideas on my plate. I've been shaping an idea about a new adult romance for over a year, and it's really calling to me, but I'm not sure whether it's appropriate to release it with my name on the front. As it's so different from TSP people might not know what they're in for. And, if I don't publish it under this name, should I be open and say I'm Kate, writing as so and so?

Anyway, that's that for now.

Keep an eye on social media, as I shall soon be crawling out of my cave. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and, shortly, Pinterest. There shall also be a newsletter in the near future, so if you aren't already on my mailing list, you can subscribe in the sidebar.

I hope you're all awesome,

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Introducing Cora

This time last year I was quite excited about the cover reveal for The Sphinx Project. This year, I'm excited for a very similar reason. There is so much to say, I'm sure I've missed something. Settle in, this is going to be a long story.

The Beginning

A long time ago, before I wrote The Sphinx Project, I spent some time researching a variety of story ideas including the Addonexus. The idea of humans controlling elemental powers has always been intriguing, I was always a huge fan of Storm from the X-Men and I grew up watching Captain Planet. Even though I decided to go with The Sphinx Project, the idea for this story never faded. It stayed at the back of my mind, growing and evolving. Every now and then I thought about writing it, but things kept getting in the way.

Through a fansite I was working on at the time I became aware of The Arcane Vault. Between themselves and their parent company, Lasermach, they've produced licensed merchandise and promotional products for an impressive array of companies including Penguin Publishing, Dreamworks, Disney and Marvel. I soon began working for them as an intern, creating the product descriptions accompanying their (for the most part) Vampire Academy products.

As part of their association with Penguin Publishing they designed a series of logos for the various elements represented in the Vampire Academy series. I loved the images and the history behind them--they'd been based on the ideas of Aristotle and the balance of fire, earth, water, air, and the combined body. Unfortunately, Penguin decided to go in a different direction with the concepts.

Some time later, as part of my internship, AV approached me about doing something with the elemental symbols. They were proud of them, understandably so, and didn't want the hard work to go to waste. After pondering them for some time, Cora's world seemed to unfold before my eyes and I took my ideas to AV for their opinion. They'd never imagined an actual novel, before I approached them. They liked the idea and told me to go for it. I had previous commitments I needed to fulfil prior to commencing the project, but with them out of the way I can finally get to work on the story.

The Evolution

Initially I planned a simple story but over time the idea of a serialised novel became rather attractive. I liked the idea of a book in the format of a television series--a series of intertwined short stories. I also like the idea that my readers could influence the path my characters chose to follow. I do, of course, have the story planned, but things can change.

Approximately once a month I will be releasing an ebook episode. Each of these will be exclusive to Amazon for three months before being availabe through all good digital retailers. When all are complete I shall bundle them into a single volume. This volume will be released as both an ebook and a paperback with a brand new, beautiful cover.

Have Your Say

For now, it's time to start as we mean to go one. Below I've listed several points. I would love to know what you think:

  1. Would you prefer for every episode to be written from the same person's perspective or would you like some variety? How about two narrators? Perhaps three?
  2. If you were an elemental, which power would you prefer and why?
  3. What sort of merchandise would you like to see? T-shirts, bookmarks, key rings...

Thursday, 30 August 2012

A Response

First of all, thank you so, so much for all the support in regards to my cover. I'm extremely happy to announce that it has finally been removed. I'm going to post an update first but stick around until the bottom because I have something special for you too.

Although overwhelmed by the support, I was rather disheartened by the majority of the advice I received in response to my last post. The general consensus was that unless I had money to take it to court there was nothing I could do to force the image removal. I'd pretty much resigned myself to the fact but I figured I'd give it one last try.

In my initial research I unearthed a wealth of information about the other author involved, including postal addresses and social networking accounts. I had previously decided to stick to 'official' channels, but that was going nowhere. I dug up my list and began to go through it. I wasn't going to do anything untoward, just make use of the other methods to send the same message I had the first time and hope for a response. I started with Facebook and copied the exact wording I'd used in initial correspondence and sent it off. 

Literally minutes later I received this reply:

I do not own or operate that site. I merely provide material. Nor do I select the graphics for any of it, the novels short stories or essays.Cordially,Name removed.

I'm not going to mince my words here. This pissed me off. The website in question is called 'By name removed', the address is the same. At the bottom of each and every page it states that the website is copyright to Name Removed and the entire site is full of his contributions and links to his social media and books. If a journalist is responsible for anything under their byline why would this be any different? If you had your name pasted across something wouldn't you be taking care to ensure things were above board? I had, earlier in the week, been offered the opportunity to 'name and shame' the author by a very popular blog. I didn't at the time, but this had be seriously considering it. 

We went back and forth a few more times until he said he'd call the person in charge of the site. They've removed the image now, but it took a lot of resolve not to follow through and name him. Not once did he apologise for what had happened and his last words were:

"I do not like having my stuff used either but that sure hasn't stopped a ton of them doing it anyway, including the NY Times!"

I don't give a damn what has happened to him in the past. If anything, this makes it even less excusable. The morning after the images were removed, the artist got back to me. She had apparently not had internet access for some time. Although I'm annoyed she wasn't around, I want her to pursue this. Recent cases show she'd have a high chance of winning and if I have to pay to use it, so too should he. 

Anyway. Let's move on, I need something to cheer me up.

Earlier this week, for some reason Amazon is unwilling to let me in on, they returned The Sphinx Project to draft status. Doesn't sound very cheerful yet, does it? It was actually a good thing. Until then I'd been too afraid to play with my prices in case I totally screwed them up and the book dropped into oblivion. Well, there's nothing to worry about now because it's already happened. 

With this in mind, I decided I wanted to make The Sphinx Project free for a weekend to thank everyone who's been so amazing to me, but then I realised I couldn't do that. I refuse to join Amazon Select program because I object to their exclusivity clause. I want my book to be available to anyone who wants to read it no matter what ereader they use. Instead, I've decided to mark it down to 99 cents. 

I know it's not quite the same but it's the lowest price Amazon will allow me to set without trying to muck around price-matching it to free. I've heard enough horror stories to know it's not worth the hassle. I could set it to free for good, but that would mean never releasing the sequel. My partner let me pay for book one out of our earnings on the condition that any additional books would be paid for out of book one's profits. Maybe one day I'll be able to give it away but for now it's not an option. I have to pay for an editor and cover art and soooo many other things to make sure the book is up to scratch.

So yeah, that's the good news. This weekend The Sphinx project will be available from Amazon and Smashwords (when you use the coupon code) for 99 cents. Make sure you spread the word and tell your friends. This is strictly for a limited time, as of midnight on Sunday I will be returning the price to normal.

Thanks for so much to all of the wonderful people who offered support and advice. I really, really appreciate it!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

What Would You Do?

You may have noticed that I've been absent for some time. On top of writing and work there are issues I've had to deal with, one in particular. Thing is, now I feel absolutely stuck. I can't think of anywhere else to turn and I can't afford a lawyer. It's a long story and I'm going to start at the beginning, please stick with it because I really need some advice.

In September 2011 I was lucky enough to stumble across an ad on Kindle Boards, posted by an artist offering her photomanipulations for exclusive cover art at an incredibly reasonable price. I couldn't believe my luck. I'd already had a cover created but it never seemed quite right. Upon perusing the artist's gallery I was stunned by an image that was absolutely perfect for The Sphinx Project. The colour, the composition, the character. Everything fit just right. I hurried to claim the offer and I paid the fees. 

I set to creating a cover out of my newly purchased art and, when it was just right, began showing it off. I was utterly in love with it. I still am. The picture embodied everything I felt about my book, The Sphinx Project, and to me it was like realising a dream. That was the point where it finally felt real. This WAS going to happen. Then the responses started flooding in and everyone else agreed it was pretty amazing. The pride I felt... I just can't even explain it...

Everything was fine until a few months ago. The first time I had any inkling about what was happening was when a friend messaged me on Facebook:

"quick question: 
the cover on your book did you buy that picture exclusively?"

I read the words and my stomach sank. I knew something was wrong. I hadn't talked to the artist much but I felt like I could trust her... she hadn't ripped me off... had she? 

While I waited for her response my eyes never left that little chat box. I watched her typing, and then pausing, and then typing again until. What felt like an age later, she pushed send. All that came in that message was a link to a blog. 

I held my breath and clicked. The page took forever to load, but when it did I was gobsmacked. My heart rate accelerated and I could actually feel it beating in my chest. You know that feeling when you're terrified of heights and then you look down only to realise you're further up than you thought? Or how about giving a speech in class when you're terrified of public speaking. 

Right there, on another author's blog, was the artwork I had been sold exclusively. Upon investigation I found that the other author had been using the image, the one I'd used to create my cover, to illustrate his serialised fiction, posting new chapters as he wrote them. I won't comment on the quality of the writing, but I will say it is in the same genre as The Sphinx Project and the blog seems to reach quite a readership. His Facebook page alone has 5500 friends and several hundred subscribers.  

I was furious but I could see straight enough to realise I didn't want to do anything I'd regret later. I ranted and raved to my friend, but left it at that. When I cooled down a bit I began analysing the situation. As far as I could see there were two possible scenarios. The first involved the artist selling the image to someone else, but the much likelier version, to me anyway, was that this author had stumbled across the image somewhere on the internet and decided it was just right for his story. 

I decided to give both the benefit of the doubt and sent two emails. The first was to the artist to ensure that she hadn't, perhaps inadvertently, granted this author permission to use the artwork. Perhaps she'd said yes in passing before she'd even thought to sell her work. In that case it would be easy to fix and she could just email the author and request he take the image down from his blog and anywhere else he'd been using it. The thing was, the artist had disappeared from Facebook some months before, since (I think) her laptop broke and I wasn't sure she'd even see the email. As a precaution I also emailed the author, politely explaining that I had purchased the exclusive usage rights from the artist and could he please remove the image from all locations he'd posted it. If, I thought, it was an honest mistake he'd be more than willing to remove it and maybe even apologise. I know I would.

Some time later I received a response from the artist confirming she'd never granted permission to anyone else and asked for links. I provided them and gave an explanation of the email I'd already sent, asking her to keep me in the loop and let me know what she plans to do. It has been several weeks and I still haven't heard back. As far as I'm aware she's never done anything about it and he's still using the image.

As for the author in question, he never even replied. I know he got the email, I submitted it through his website and received confirmation it'd been received sent to my own email, but he has blatantly ignored it. Not only has he ignored my request, but he has continued using it. He has since posted several new chapters, each illustrated with my cover art. 

The thing is, I have no idea what to do any more. I am not the copyright holder, that's the artist. I only have the usage rights so I can't send a DMCA notice to his web host or Facebook requesting they pull it down. I don't want to continue emailing him because, quite frankly, he doesn't seem like someone I'd get along with and he has a lot of followers. I've seen how messy these things can get and I don't want my book slammed with one-star reviews.

Please, if you have any suggestions please let me know. I've been trying to deal with it in private for quite some time but now I'm getting desperate. I'm clueless about where to go next.

Edited to add clarification:

This post is about my book The Sphinx Project. A book that has been published with this cover since February 28th this year. I will not be changing the cover. I can't afford to pay an artist and there is no way I'm replacing it with a stock image after I've had something so wonderful for so long.

There is no signed contract between myself and the artist. At the time I was not aware there was any need. I thought it was a simple sale and purchase, like most other goods. She stated her terms in her thread, I agreed and paid the asking price. All I have is the original forum post (which is still live, although I've also saved a copy as a screen cap) and our email correspondence which is primarily about the actual payment. Yes, I know this is stupid now but I had no reason to know otherwise at the time. I can only blame ignorance.

I am not looking for any form of compensation. I simply want the other author to cease making use of this image. I do not want to be associated with him, nor his work, in any way, shape or form.

I currently live in England, the artist lives in Croatia and the other author lives in America.

Monday, 23 April 2012

So You Want To Be An Indie Author: Terminology

In the past I've been hesitant to post too often about the technicalities of writing and publishing. I've viewed this blog as a place to get in touch with readers and I didn't think they'd be too interested in these subjects. I also didn't believe myself qualified to be posting about such matters. Well, I've changed my mind. I've seen too many new writers dive into self-publishing without any thought to what it actually entails. They make stupid choices and ends up costing themselves lot of money and making all of us look bad. In this new web series I'll be going through every aspect of self-publishing so that aspiring authors can make an informed decision. Please note, as always these blogs are written from my point of view, others may have differing opinions.

Today's post is a simple one, but it is necessary for you to understand the terminology because if you don't you're going to look like an idiot.

Commercial or trade publishers are the ones you will have heard of; Hachette, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster. These are also known as the Big 6 publishers. In trade publishing money flows towards the author in the form of advances and royalties. Please note, although sometimes referred to as legacy or traditional (trad) publishers, these are not the correct terms.

An independent publisher is a privately owned business that operates much like a trade publisher, just on a much smaller scale. As with the Big 6, money flows towards the authors and it does not cost the writer anything to publish a book.

Self-publishing is when the author undertakes the costs associated with the publication of a book and does everything a trade publisher would usually do such as organising cover art, paying for editing and finding/creating distribution channels.

Looking at those definitions, you can see that an indie publisher is NOT actually self-published. Indie is not synonymous with 'not mainstream.' In the case of publishing, the term indie has been used by independent publishers for long before self-publishers began to misappropriate it. Victoria Strauss has written a good article called Why You are Probably Not An Indie Author which addresses why the term 'indie author' is both redundant and inaccurate.

Personally, I tend to shy away from the word indie when I describe myself. I find that self-published is a perfectly acceptable term and offers very few opportunities for misinterpretation. I've also found there are a number of people who raggedly defend the use of the word and have no problem ripping into others for even the slightest slip-up. I've seen many a newbie wander into an internet forum and learn (the embarrassing way) that indie and self are not the same, or e-publishing and self-publishing, or trade and legacy...

You're probably now wondering why I decided to include indie in the title of this series of blogs, if it's not what I'll be writing about. There are two reasons, they are both very simple. One: many new writers looking for information aren't aware that indie doesn't mean what they think, after hearing the term associated with films and music over the years. Two: I'm using the term as an euphemism, it just sounds better. It also takes up less space in the heading of my blog. Call it creative liberty.

I understand that language is not set in stone, but this is a term which has meant something entirely different for a long time. To refer to yourself as indie published when you are self-published could be construed as misleading, whether you mean it to be or not. It also leads to the question of what to call actual independent publishers if self-publishers completely take over the term.

We do need to remember that there is a distinction between self-publishing and vanity/subsidy publishing. A vanity publisher is a company which offers publishing services at a cost to the author. These companies generally hold the copyright to the book, but don't market or promote the finished product. Their business model often depends on authors purchasing copies of the book to make money.

To read up on other publishing terms you can visit Bookjobs.com.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Hello... hello? Hellooooo *echos*

Has my lack of blogging led to a mass desertion?

Well, I guess I'm back for now. I still have to deal with the hospital, and of all the days they could have picked for my next appointment (I'm SURE there are 366 the could have chosen from this year) they picked the one day I just wanted to be lazy and eat cake. Hopefully after this they'll be able to sort it out and things don't get escalated. *shudder*

I'm slowly working through my emails. If you haven't heard from me by Monday resend it, but I should get through them all by then. My inbox is sort of overflowing. I'm also working on a totally new project, as well as the second book in The Chimaera Chronicles. I've taken a bit of a jump, with the second book, I'm just hoping people enjoy it. I foresee the arrival of teasers soon too.


The Chimaera Chronicles paperback: So I have to admit defeat. I was ready to approved the paperback when I realized that the title and my name were missing from the top of the first seventy-odd pages. I've struggled with it and it's just not working. I wish I could just use html, like when I made my ebook, but it's not that easy. I know it may seem like a small thing, but to put out something that's less than perfect is just not professional, and as much as I wish I could just push the 'approve' button I can't do it. For now this will have to be on hold until I can afford to pay someone to format it for me.

Ebooks: For those of you who don't know, the only ebook providers I can upload directly to at the moment are Kindle and Smashwords, which is why they were the first retailers to have The Sphinx Project go live. All other retailers are fed through Smashwords, who distribute the file to Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Diesel, Blio, Sony and all the rest. Unfortunately, it seems that Smashwords it taking much longer than it should be, and it's now more than six weeks since the file was submitted to them. It's just a matter of time though, and I'll let you know as soon as the book is up everywhere. Until it is available you can still purchase any file format you need from smashwords.com.

Anyway, that's all from me now. I hope you're all wonderful and that you are enjoying The Sphinx project!