Saturday, November 11, 2017

FREE on Kindle!

These 5-star books are FREE for a short time on Amazon! Quick, download your copy!

"I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a character driven novel."
Go Book Yourself

"I connected deeply with the characters, I felt each and every dramatic moment."
Awesome Indies

"Orla’s Code is well-written, with a fresh style, and subtle and insightful humor."
Awesome Indie Review

 "I was impressed with the author’s ability to communicate the challenges of Orla’s job."
BigAl, Books and Pals

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Where's the Conflict?

It’s about fifteen years ago. I’m in the shower, washing my hair and I’m thinking, write what you know … hmmm … I know about stuttering. How about that? I had started a creative writing course and it was time to attempt a short story. Perhaps I could write a story about a woman with a stutter who has to speak in public – a school girl maybe, with an assignment. Okay, good. But, so what? Our week's lesson was on creating conflict. So where was it? She doesn’t want to speak? Well, obviously she doesn’t. But who cares? Er … there is something she can gain by speaking – a prize. Ah, she’s won a competition and she must recite her wining slogan/poem at a press conference/on TV - there'll be cameras - terrifying. So why do it? The prize is a lot of money … or tickets to see her favourite band ... So, she goes through with it and it’s unpleasant, but worth it. The End. Where’s the conflict? Er, maybe she DOESN’T go through with it … I was on to conditioner by now, leaving it in my hair for a few minutes, as you do ... I know! She asks her friend to pretend to be her! Her friend gives the speech, collects the tickets and hands them over! ... SO WHERE’S THE CONFLICT? ... Her friend wants something in return for doing the speech. Something our protagonist doesn’t want to give up. Hmm, that's interesting. What do teenage girls care about? Teenage boys. There’s a boy, see. He’s cute. Both girls like him. Our girl has to introduce him to her so-called friend and encourage a date ... Conflict! What will she choose? To brave humiliation and do the speech herself, but still have a chance with the guy? Or will she give up the guy because she can’t face public speaking? 

What I learned from the exercise is that creative writing is about giving a protagonist a choice and giving the reader enough information to speculate on what they would do - that's the hook that makes them want to read more.

It was a productive shower, because my short story about Siobhán and her best friend Lisa got an A. If you’ve read Beverly, you’ll know that it is a grown-up adaption. Beverly has to do a presentation at work in order to win a lucrative contract, or she faces a bad reputation in her industry. When she recruits her best friend Ella for help, it comes at a high price.

Every time I start writing something new, I play where’s the conflict. What techniques to you use?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Advertising: The Results

If you remember, I paid to advertise Beverly during a promotion back in May and promised to share the results. It turns out the results are not that exciting. In the previous freebie week, Beverly was downloaded 1,100 times. In the week I paid for advertising, she was downloaded 2,700 times. Over twice as many hits. Pretty good. But I was not impressed.

I thought the cheap options were okay. These sites advertised my book during the freebie period and contacted other sites to do the same. This is something I could have done myself if I had put the time into it. The expensive sites have a large amount of email subscribers whom they email at the start of the promotional period. This, I believe, is what doubled my numbers. 

BooksGoSocial interviewed me (via Your Book Promoter) and the link was heavily retweeted. Looking at the accounts that did the retweeting, I noticed they all had something like 50k followers, 100k followers, etc. They were following around that many too. And I thought: if everyone retweeting the interview is putting it into a stream following about 100k accounts then it's still only reaching a flooded market - which was the problem I had when I wasn't paying for advertising. No one commented on the interview and I notice, with a quick check, there are not many comments on other BooksGoSocial interviews.

On a side note, when I'm followed by someone who has about 100k followers and is following the same, I don't follow back anymore because I don't feel the authenticity. It's different for a celebrity account following about 100 people while thousands or millions follow it. But if a non-celeb can amount that many followers, I wonder how they spend their time - is it spent building connections? If not, the numbers must be somehow contrived.

Having said all that, the fact that every few months, 1,000 people or so read Beverly or Orla's Code is fantastic. And I appreciate being able to reach people through Free Kindle. It got me thinking about that audience. Who are the people checking out the Free Kindle bookstore? What kind of books do they read? I guess they're avid readers across a broad cultural spectrum, with varying tastes - was my first thought. But then I realised that I just had to look at the top 100 free books to answer the question. Ahem, it's all porn. Sorry, erotica. Ok, there's paranormal porn there too. This is what you see when Beverly or Orla's Code makes it into the top 100: Columns of semi-naked men and buxom women, and in the middle, Beverly or Orla looking very dressed. There's a little bit of sex in Orla's Code and Beverly. More in Beverly, if you want to know. 

I need to rethink how to reach my market. I'll report on progress...

Monday, May 1, 2017


I heard about this author who self-published through a self-publishing company, and once he got his book into a book store, visited the store with a plate of biscuits, offering one to those who picked up his book. Another self-published author featured a real hotel in her novel and then was able to enter her readers into a competition for a meal for two.

If only I was this clever at marketing. But my creativity does not seem to extend into this arena. So this bank holiday weekend, I'm promoting Beverly the old-fashioned way - with money.

Both Beverly and Orla's Code are exclusively e-published on Kindle which allows me to do a free promotion every three months. But I have found this isn't enough. Amazon is a noisy market and getting into the top 100 free books doesn't have a lasting effect on my overall sales ranking.

On looking about the internet, I have found some good advice on book promotion sites and where to invest. There are a lot of sites that will give your book a shout out during a promotion. I ended up enlisting Beverly here: I paid $121 I paid $165 I paid $35 I paid $10
The more expensive sites offer services like tweeting, exposure to book review clubs, promotional emails to subscribers and a featured page. The cheaper ones just advertise your book during the freebie time. I'll be sure to provide pre-promotion sales numbers and post-promotion numbers. We'll see if the investment works. As the heading of this post says, Beverly will be free from the 27th May, for five days. Don't be afraid to distort the numbers - remember to download your copy!

Helpful Sources:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Paperbacks for Christmas?

Are you looking for Christmas present ideas? Is it too early to mention? Well, to help you out, Orla's Code and Beverly are FREE this week on Kindle. So why not download these Awesome Indie Approved, London based tales, and if they meet your personal approval, you can buy the paperback for a loved one...

Orla's Code on Kindle
Beverly on Kindle

Orla's Code on paperback
Beverly on paperback

"Orla’s Code is well-written, with a fresh style, and subtle and insightful humor."
Awesome Indie Review. Read review...

"I would recommend [Beverly] to anyone who loves a character driven novel."
Go Book Yourself read the review...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Beverly in Paperback!

OMG! Beverly the paperback is here AND it's in a Goodreads Giveaway! Starting September 3rd and running for one week, enter for your chance to win 1 of 10 signed copies.

Over the last few months I have been sending Beverly out to book reviewers and have been so chuffed to receive these great reviews, which I have added to the paperback:

"I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a character driven novel. With Beverly, Fiona's unique voice has shone through again."
Go Book Yourself read the review...

"I connected deeply with the characters, I felt each and every dramatic moment."
Awesome Indies read the review...

"This is an entertaining read from an indie author who has immense talent as a story teller"
Tuck Magazine read the review...

Of course, if you want to skip the giveaway, you can always go straight to Amazon to get your copy:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Beverly, Stuttering and Me

About a year ago I went to a writers' talk on social media and book promotion. A woman I've become friends with through these events was there too and I made my way over to her after the talk, as she is always, what my English friends would call good value and my Irish friends would call good craic. For the sake of this blog post, we'll call her Tallulah.

As writers do, we greeted each other with writing progress reports. Tallulah is working on a romance/whodunnit. It's shamefully flowery, she says, with a dismissive wave of her hand. And me? I'm working on a book about a woman who has a falling out with her best friend over a guy. She also happens to have a stutter.

"Oh, wow," Tallulah replies, like I have ignited her interest. I should point out here that what Tallulah doesn't know is that I have a stutter too. The reason she doesn't know this is because:

a) My stutter is very mild; it was strong when I was young but since adulthood it has faded each year so by now it's only occasionally problematic.

b) I'm what we refer to as a 'covert' stutterer (as apposed to an 'overt' stutterer). A covert stutterer can anticipate when they will come to a word they're going to get stuck on, and swap it out for another 'easier' word. Sometimes this happens smoothly and you would never know such lexical acrobatics were going on behind the eyes. Other times an alternative word can't be found quickly and a pause is in order - so there'll be some "Er.. what I mean is..." and there might even be some feigning of forgetfulness, until an appropriate word can be found.

This is why Tallulah feels free to continue along these lines:

"I went out with a guy with a stutter once. Moaned about it all the time. He was really self-pitying, you know?" She's making a painful face. "I mean, put it in perspective. It's just how you speak, right? It's not like a real problem..."

As Tallulah expanded on how this chump couldn't get himself together, I was thinking, how can I make someone with this point of view sympathise with Beverly? When she has no experience of what it's like to not be able to express herself and to constantly fear humiliation, how can I show her how that feels? She became my target audience and in subsequent edits of Beverly I carefully went through scenes trying to capture this discomfort, show Beverly's focus on her speech and its dominance over her identity.

That is why it has been hugely gratifying to receive early reviews with these comments:

"I could feel myself holding my breath with Beverly every time she struggled to say a certain word."
Go Book Yourself review...

"I was worried with the main character having a stutter that it might affect the formatting and readability of the book, but it actually flows pretty well, and allows you to get a strong sense of the character and her struggles."
Awesome Indies review...

I know Beverly will not be for everyone, of course, but it's beginning to feel like I have reached my goal, of bringing the reader into this obscure world. So thanks, book reviewers, you make it worth while for us writers. And thanks, Tallulah. I hope you have found a man of courage.