science fiction

The Smashwords 2017 Summer/Winter sale is now on

If you’re a science fiction fan and love all things space opera, you’ll be interested in free books, right?

All four of my Sinclair V-Logs ebook volumes are currently FREE until July 31st.

Details of how to claim your 100% discount are on the books’ Smashwords pages.

Here are the Smashwords links to all four of the Sinclair V-Logs.

Floxham Island

Bygora Vandos

The Trials of Nahda

Fetish

 

Happy reading.

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Goodreads giveaway – my experience

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Further to this post about my experience using facebook paid ads, I decided to throw caution to the wind and run a giveaway on Goodreads for my last novel, Fetish. This is yet another attempt at raising a little awareness ‘out there’ towards myself as an author and my books.

Goodreads giveaways are free to run, but there are one or two points to remember. First, it’s only for paperbacks. Yep, those of you who publish only in ebook formats can leave the room  now, or why not hop on over here and find something spectacular. For those who, like me, publish in both ebook and paperback, stick around a while. So long as you are prepared to give away an actual, physical book, you can have a Goodreads giveaway. This means purchasing at least one copy of your own book, and then paying to mail it/them to the winner(s). Other than that, there are no additional costs.

Second, it is absolutely forbidden to contact the entrants or winners for any purpose whatsoever. To do so gets you labelled as a spammer. This means you can’t add them to a mailing list, nor even say hello, buy my other other books while you’re waiting to win this one, etc. Many authors are a little trigger happy, so this might be painful for some.

You can choose to give away as many books as you want, or just a single copy, whatever blows your skirt up. I gave away three signed copies. You have control over which countries your giveaway is open to, which I guess is to allow you to control postage costs. Most people go for USA, UK, and Canada, although just about every other country in the world in on the list. Click on as many or as few as you want.

My giveaway ran for a calendar month and in that time, I had 864 entrants. This is amazing when compared to my last attempt at running a facebook giveaway event, which gathered an immense crowd of just two entrants. Some of the other giveaways in the list have thousands of entrants. I suppose it comes down to how well known you are and the genre of the book you are giving away that dictates how many entrants you will attract. That is 864 people who now know I exist and that I write science fiction novels. There is now a chance, albeit slim, that a few might venture to take a look at my books. They might  not, they probably won’t, but there is  now that chance where there was none before.

If the three winners actually read the book and like it, they might buy some of my others, or tell their friends how they enjoyed it, review it even. It is all maybe and what if’s but it’s something, a chance I never had before. It’s a step along the marketing road, a road I seldom travel.

Now for the figures. I had to purchase three copies of my paperback, which cost me £15.24. Postage costs for the 3 books to the winners, all USA residents, was £22.35

This means the entire cost of this promo experiment was £37.59. To get that back I need to sell five paperbacks or twenty ebooks.

The point of this experiment was not entirely to make sales though. What I’m trying to do is build my brand permanently rather than make a quick sales spike that lasts a day then flatlines again. I’m trying to get myself into the public’s awareness, get my books onto their radar, as a permanent fixture and not just a flash in the pan.

With so many marketing and promo opportunities out there that cost a whole wedge of cash, this seems to be one of the cheaper ways to get my books into readers’ hands, even if it is just a couple of raffle winners.

GIVEAWAY – WIN A SIGNED COPY OF FETISH

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fetish ~ Sinclair V-Log BY915/M by Merita King

Fetish ~ Sinclair V-Log BY915/M

by Merita King

Giveaway ends September 12, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Wandering thoughts of a Writer

I have the honour of having my new book featured on the blog of my friend and fellow author Rebekkah Ford, author of Beyond the Eyes Trilogy and Tangled Roots. She has a great blog, with loads of interesting interviews, book spotlights and articles. Hop on over and have a browse.

Book Feature – Fetish ~ Sinclair V-Log BY915/M – click here

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Fetish ~ Sinclair V-Log BY915/M

I am delighted to announce my brand new release.

Volume 4 of The Sinclair V-Logs is now available in both paperback and ebook.

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Many thanks once again are due to JL Stratton for his considerable expertise in producing this cover.

We all have dirty little secrets, don’t we?

When Sam Sinclair is called home to help solve the murder of a fellow law enforcer, he assumes the motive was revenge. Within hours, this case quickly becomes everything but straightforward. As the evidence points to deviance of the most horrific kind, they realise that a new breed of killer is stalking the streets of Sam’s home city. Fear grips the people of Alimenika and even the most hardened of criminals are terrified into silence.

A fetish is just harmless fun, until someone dies of course and as more victims come to light, Sam and his team must delve into the darkest side of man’s nature before they can hope to stop this monster’s reign of terror. Swept along by the most unsettling case of his career, the killer’s insidious influence makes Sam doubt himself as never before.

As his personal life is turned upside down, he suddenly becomes the killer’s latest plaything. Unable to free himself and battling the rising panic, the accusation of his own deviance forces him to examine his actions during those terrible four hours, almost twenty years ago.

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For all purchase links, click here. To read excerpts, click  here. 

Fetish is registered with Authorgraph (formerly Kindlegraph) and you can get your personalised copy via the widget to the right.

Happy New Year

I can’t believe how fast 2014 went by. I always thought it was an old person’s thing to comment on how fast the time is going, but now I’m doing it myself. Maybe that means that I’m now old instead of just middle aged. I don’t feel like an old person despite being 53 in a couple of weeks, I still feel 25 inside my head. I often look back and think, “where the hell has the last week gone?” It’s not just me experiencing this either, many people I speak to say it too.

2014 saw some changes for me, most of them welcome. My beloved car finally broke down and had to be sold as I could not afford to get it repaired. The head gasket had gone and I don’t have that kind of money. Having no transport meant I could no longer keep doing my job, which entailed me driving to different peoples’ homes to clean their house. This meant I’ve had to start claiming benefits, which is a laborious process designed to make you feel like a scrounger. It is taking forever, but I hope it will be all sorted soon.

My health problems have caught up with me more than ever before, and I spend a lot of time in pain. I have what is called a Pars Defect in my lumbar spine, which is now affecting my life far more than ever before. It seems to me that being forced to give up my job, which was very physical and left me in agony most days, was timely. It is nice having more time at home. Being able to lie in is a treat I haven’t experienced for years. It is a blow to my ego to  have to use a walking stick, but it does help a little so I try not to complain. I never realised how difficult it is to go shopping with a handbag, several bags of shopping, and still be able to effectively use a walking stick. It’s impossible, so I often find myself unable to use my stick. Luckily I can do the greater part of the grocery shopping online, which saves me having to haul too many bags on the bus.  That’s another thing, the bus fares around here are criminal!

2014 also saw my mother sell her house in Cornwall and move up here near me. I’ve been trying to persuade her for ages and am delighted that my persistence has finally paid off. She now has a lovely ground floor flat a couple of miles away, in a nice area near to all the amenities she did not have in Cornwall. It will also be nice to have someone to pop in for a coffee and natter a couple of times a week or go for a meal on a weekend. When she first announced she was moving away down to Cornwall, I felt very abandoned for a long time. It was weird and not something I expected to feel. It was not pleasant and although I got used to being so alone, I was always aware of how alone I was. She has been away visiting relatives for Christmas and New Year, so we will be out buying her some new furniture the moment she gets back.

My other excitement is that I am now a proud cat mommy. I named him Samelan, after the main character in my Sinclair V-Logs science fiction novels. He’s a beautiful stripey tabby and has the most hilarious nature. He has a foot fetish and will bite my feet and toes whenever I go barefoot, he likes playing football with his toys (and is a very skilled dribbler too), and is toilet training with the Litter Kwitter system. He doesn’t meow very often, but ‘trills’ all the time, and will reply when I talk to him sometimes. Every morning at 7am he wakes me up by trilling and batting me with a paw, after which he sits by my alarm clock as he knows I always reach for it to check the time before getting up. I’m fully expecting one day for him to learn to press the button on the top which lights up the clock face. I cannot express how much of a difference it has made to my mood, having someone pleased to see me, seeking my company, and eager for me to get home just to spend time with me. I’m sure he’s saved my life.

So what of 2015? I did make a New Year’s resolution to give up chocolate, and I am determined to stick to it. Rather than go on a typical diet as such, I have tried to introduce permanent healthy food habits, one at a time. Years ago I gave up sugar in tea and coffee. A couple of years ago I gave up milk in tea and coffee. Last March I gave up smoking, and this year I intend to stop eating chocolate in any form. It is an education trying to find desserts and sweet things that don’t contain chocolate. This substance seems to have infiltrated into every area of our diet. It’s even in breakfast cereals now, crazy. At the same time as I shall be learning to do without chocolate, I shall be eating more fruit and veg, which I already love so no problems there other than the cost of them. Once I have eliminated the worst stuff from my diet, I can turn my attention to reducing portion size. I hope to end this year with a far more healthy relationship with food, even if I have not lost a significant amount of weight (which would be nice too).

So far I have 2 novels to publish in the coming year. One is finished to first draft and the other will be finished to first draft within the next couple of days.  I shall probably participate in the July Camp Nanowrimo, as I have done in the past 2 years, which will take me to 3 books this year. I like to do 3 a year, it’s a comfortable workload for me.

I want to pay a little more attention to marketing this year. I am in the process of building a list of tweets that I can use with the new drip feed app I’ve found. Due to Feed 140 breaking down, I had to find another drip feeder, and Dropial is the only one I’ve found that allows you to build a list that will drip in a continuous loop. The only downside to Dropial is that it insists on the list containing a minimum number of tweets, so I’m busy building it at the moment. Once that is done, I want to blog more, and use all the other social media I am part of, a bit more often. I cannot afford to pay for advertising, so free social media is my shop window at the moment. I would like to do interviews, but no one is asking  – unless you’d like to interview me or do a spotlight for me?

One other thing I want to pledge to this coming year, is to begin re-editing and re-releasing my backlist. As time has gone on I have learned more, and I can clean up the early books and make them slicker and more error free. There is also one I want to do a new cover for. I want to do at least 2 of my older books this coming year.

As for other 2015 bucket list items, there’s always the following:

Meet Dwayne Johnson

Meet Vin Diesel

Meet Misha Collins

Have Peter Jackson talk me into allowing him to turn one of my books into a movie

Win more than a million on the lottery

Become a best seller for at least one of my books on Amazon

If anyone would like to help me achieve any of those items, let me know. In the meantime, I wish you all a prosperous, educational, and happy 2015.

The advertising cycle of doom

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Making a living is hard these days, no matter what business you’re in.  Books are a luxury item and as an author, making sales has become difficult, and many are resorting to all sorts of techniques in order to gain some visibility.  Those with money to splash around or working spouses to sting for money, can pay for online advertising.  The best known (which I won’t name as I don’t owe them any free advertising) is a site where you pay for them to add your name to their mailing list.  For those willing to spend a lot of money, this can create a spike in sales for a day or two.

This particular site charges a lot of money for the honour of being included in its list, and it requires that your book already has a lot of glowing reviews, or you get turned down flat.  Seems funny to demand that so many reviews be already in place, as I would think that if you had that many reviews already, you’d be less likely to need help getting visibility.  Ho hum, I guess I’m missing the point.

I can’t afford this site’s services, and don’t have the required truck-load of reviews anyway, so it’s off my radar.  I have to rely on ways to advertise for free, which tend not to have the same punch as paid for services.  It’s a vicious circle, if I could make more sales, I’d have more money to spend on better advertising, but in order to make more sales, I need better  advertising.

I’ve tried everything I can think of.  I’ve set my books as free at Smashwords, but as people never buy at Smashwords, no one downloaded them.  I can’t have them free at Amazon, because I’m in the UK, so they can’t be less than 99 cents there, where everyone buys their books.  American authors can list their books free there, and because so many are doing so, people get them and ignore mine.

People want everything given to them free these days.  Once, when I had advertised one of my books that I had just published, one gal posted “Let me know when you’re giving it away free, and I’ll download it.”  But when I did put them all as free, no fucker downloaded.  Make your damn minds up!

I find people are always encouraging, but won’t actually say they hate my books.  I’ve had people tell me they can’t afford to buy books, then they post in groups about how much they’re enjoying this or that book, and when I look for it on Amazon, it’s not free.  I’ve had people say “oh I don’t like sci fi,” then they post a status about some book or author they like, and it’s hard core sci fi.  Then there’s the “I have so many books to read, I can’t add any more yet,” and then their next post is about another book they’ve bought.

I don’t know what the answer is.  Well actually I know exactly what the answer is.  It’s money, and lots of it.  Get a truck load of money and pay a marketing firm a fortune to promote for you, then sit back with your coffee and wait for the tidal wave of adulation to hit.  Until I have the means to go down that route, I’m stuck with books I can’t even give away for free, to people who won’t admit they hate me/my work/everything I stand for/the colour of my hair/my choice in footwear/whatever else.

People don’t hate sci fi, people love sci fi.  All of the most successful movies are sci fi and many of the most successful books are sci fi/fantasy.  There are huge fandoms dedicated to Star Trek, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, Harry Potter etc, all sci fi/fantasy.

No one likes to be told that their work is shit, it’s a blow to the ego.  In a way though, I’d prefer it if people were honest.  At least if I knew why they hate it, I’d have a chance of changing something.  I admit, I haven’t the first clue how to beat this or proceed.

Well done to those who have the money and friends to create a huge spike in sales for a day or a week.  Remember though, that this kind of quick sudden spike in sales isn’t the kind of presence or visibility that lasts for years.  Making 20k downloads in one day due to paying hundreds of dollars for a slot in an advertising site’s email list, will bring you a bonus that month, but five years later, no one will remember, or give a shit, who you are or what you did.  People might still know who I am in five years, even if it’s of the “oh she’s that woman who writes shit sci fi,” variety.

I’m glad I decided a little while ago, to slow down my attempts at marketing/promotion.  The constant work and ensuing disappointment creates emotions I don’t like feeling all the time.  Without the stress of wondering whether this book will be the one that becomes popular at last, I can just write what comes and be creative in the way that feels most natural, instead of changing things to try (and fail) to make them saleable. My local library lets me give them paperbacks, so I can continue to do that.  I also have the knowledge that well known and well respected places like The British Library, the Bodleian Library, Oxford University Library and Cambridge University Library, all have copies of my books.   Not because I asked them to take them, but because they asked me for them.  How many of the “look at me aren’t I successful” party on facebook can say that?

Immortalised on the red planet

I just found a fun thing  on the internet. If you go here, you can name a crater on Mars. I named one in honour of Vincent Domenico, star of The Lilean Chronicles, and another in honour of Sam Sinclair, star of The Sinclair V-Logs.  This is most likely not official, but it’s fun.

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Sexism in Science Fiction

For a while now, there has been a new topic of discussion amongst some female authors – sexism in science fiction.  If you’re a woman, and you write science fiction, you are far less likely to be reviewed or taken seriously, and the whole science fiction arena continues to be dominated by men, men who don’t seem to welcome their female counterparts into the genre. Why should this be?

The first time this subject came to my attention was when I read this post by Ann Aguirre.   In it, she tells of her treatment at the hands of male sci fi authors at the SFF Fandom in 2008. It’s shocking reading, and not just because I’m a woman, and not because I’m also a sci fi author, but because I’m a human being doing something I love to do, and which I’m pretty good at. What has my genitalia got to do with it?

Take a few minutes to google, and you can find countless articles about this problem of sexism in sci fi.  Here is one by the Guardian, here’s another by The Wire, and here’s another by Slate.com, and there are many more. It seems that men in sci fi think us gals will sully ‘their’ genre by bringing romance into it, and that we should stick to the romance genre. Tsk tsk gentlemen, don’t you realise that without romance, you and your dinosaur chums wouldn’t exist?

It’s  not that male sci fi writers keep their books full of action and derring-do, far from it.  Take a look at a few sci fi novels written by men and you will often see scantily clad women on the covers, scantily clad women characters and quite a bit of sex in the stratosphere going on. These narrow minded male writers are happy for these almost-naked-but-not-quite characters to appear in their books, but they tend to be of lower ranks in the pecking order, and often spend their off time bedding (or trying to bed) the hero. The male characters spend quite a bit of time having sex or trying to have sex with female characters, but seldom do these books contain strong female lead characters who don’t wear skimpy bikinis while fighting creatures, and seldom do they not hop into bed with anything with a Y chromosome at the drop of a hat. For these male writers, sex is fine, but romance is out of order. They seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that woman can’t write anything without romance being an integral part. I have a sci fi series called The Sinclair V-Logs, which stars a freelance law enforcer and I can assure all those male dinosaurs out there, that there is no romance whatsoever, nor will there be.  Sam Sinclair’s adventures concentrate on his experiences as a law enforcer, not any romance he might have encountered. I refuse to believe I’m the only woman who can write without including romance into a story.

The old boy’s network is trying its best to exclude women from the genre, by disrespecting us and our work, by behaving in the most shocking ways to us in front of sci fi fans, and by generally behaving like rather badly educated neanderthals. Women are beginning to hit back, some by adopting genderless pen names and others by being nominated for prestigious awards. This year’s Nebula Award nominee list shows a refreshing number of women. This is wonderful news, and a real step forwards for us women science fiction authors.

As a female science fiction writer myself, I find it hard enough to garner interest for my work, as sci fi doesn’t seem to attract the same interest as other genres, without sexism coming into it. I must admit, I have toyed with the idea of adopting a genderless pen name, but I’ve resisted so far.  Let’s hope that the Nebula award winners turn out to be all women. That will deal a mighty blow for the old boy’s sci fi network, won’t it girls?

Basics of World Building for Science Fiction

world building

When world building, there are a few basics that if followed, give your work added authenticity.  These are what we know as scientific truths today, but of course that may change as new discoveries are made.