Let’s Talk Books With Elizabeth Krall, Author Of ‘In Your Sights’

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Elizabeth Krall:

Jess at The Never Ending Bookshelf was kind enough to chat to me about books recently. Jess is a great promoter of Aussie writers.

Originally posted on The Never Ending Bookshelf:

Let's Talk Books

Today Elizabeth Krall was kind enough to stop by to talk to us about her books, what she’s reading and what she is working on next.

Elizabeth is a Sydney based author (originally from Canada) whose romantic suspense novel In Your Sightswas released in December 2014. Elizabeth has previously published two contemporary romance novels Too Close andShip To Shore, and a themed short story collection titled Holiday Romances.

                              

What are you currently reading?

The Nine Horizons: Travels in Sundry Places by Mike Robbins, and Murder in the South of France by Susan Kiernan-Lewis. Nine Horizons is a collection of ‘snapshots’ by a former journalist, whereas the other is a murder mystery. Very different books!

 

What’s the last book you bought?

The Nine Horizons: Travels in Sundry Places by Mike Robbins.

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

Before I bought a…

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Global readership

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globe-reading-T2G

I recently ran a giveaway on LibraryThing for my Valentine’s Day short story “Toast to Go“. Of the 48 people who entered, most – as you would probably expect – were from the US. There was a smattering of people from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; again, not a surprise, as they are all countries where people speak English first.

What caught my eye were the entries from Portugal, Romania, Pakistan and Jordan.

Portugal and even Romania, okay, I can imagine someone relating to a story set on Sydney’s Bondi Beach. But I would never have expected to find a readership in the Middle East!

It just goes to prove that words know no boundaries, and the power of a story can reach anyone, wherever they live.

Life imitating art (well, if not art, then my novel!)

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Today was a picture-perfect summer day in Sydney: cloudless blue skies, a high of 33C (93F) and, for those of us who live near the coast, ocean breezes to keep the heat down. There is, of course, only one thing to do on such a day – go to the beach.

shake-n-bakeI don’t particularly like beaches, however, not being a fan of the combination of sand and sunscreen. The result reminds me of that North American chicken preparation called Shake n Bake. Instead, I headed off to my favourite … hmm, let’s call it an “ocean access area”. Clovelly Beach is small semi-circle of sand at the end of a long, narrow inlet (sand, ugh!), but the ocean end of the inlet on the north side is made up of weathered rock platforms buffered from the ocean’s waves by large boulders (which I assume were put there by man for that very purpose, rather than deposited very conveniently by nature).

I set a number of scenes in In Your Sights at Clovelly inlet/beach, and today it was as if they had sprung to life. There were the hundreds of snorkellers bumping into each other (but, oh, the water today was silken bliss, a delightful 22C/72F caress against sun-seared skin), there was the old Italian man in nothing but Speedos and mahogany-tanned skin, and the joyful shrieks of children.

Just as true to the novel but much less delightful, there was no shortage of unrestrained dogs running amok in the “dogs prohibited” area. (I really hope someone from Randwick Council reads IYS!)

And beyond the breakwater, out in the ocean swells, a lone man swam, his arms flashing in and out of the water in a strong, steady rhythm – just like my character Gianni.

By the way, if you’re wondering – Shake n Bake does not get a mention in IYS, but I couldn’t resist the photo! (credit here)

(I can’t use my own photo to illustrate this post because I never take my camera when I’m going swimming due to fears of theft. However, if you’re curious, check out these shots from different days on my photo blog.)

Aside

The first flame of bestsellerdom has been lit

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one-flame

Even the raging fire of bestsellerdom begins with a small flame.

The Los Angeles Public Library has bought one copy of my second novel Too Close. (I know this, thanks to Smashwords’ detailed sales reports.)

The interesting thing about this is — how did the Los Angeles Public Library ever find out about Too Close? Is this somehow related to the recent review in Publishers Weekly?

This can only be the beginning of Big Things. Demand for my novels will sweep the United States as people queue outside libraries (well, in the US they would line up rather than queue), waving their library cards and insisting their local public library buy a copy — nay, multiple copies! — of my opuses. There will be rioting in the streets, mark my words!

Free Valentine’s Day short story

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In My Eyes is the new story in my Holiday Romances series of short stories. It will be FREE on Amazon on 7 February, 13-15 February, and 21 February.

In My Eyes by Elizabeth KrallCaroline Bready is madly in love – with her husband. She looks forward each Valentine’s Day to returning to the same restaurant where they met eight years ago. But this year, their romantic evening is ruined by Niall’s announcement that he wants them to move to Sydney. Caroline thinks Australia is fine for a holiday, but she doesn’t want to live there! Neither Niall nor Caroline have any idea that his desire to return home will have tragic consequences.

(In My Eyes is the prequel to the romantic suspense novel In Your Sights)

 

Get your copy from your local Amazon site

Review bonanza for In Your Sights

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In Your Sights readers-writers journal
Today is a good day! I opened my email to learn that a website called “readers+writers journal” has made In Your Sights one of the their featured books. It’s the first thing you see on the home page — at least until they add a new post.

Elizabeth Krall skillfully crafts a tale of growing foreboding and outright fear.

The post helpfully includes buying links to In Your Sights on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

When I clicked the Amazon link (to test it), I discovered a new (third) review had appeared. And what a review! I could not have written it better myself. Four stars rather than five, because he did not like the main character Caroline although he acknowledges that she is a better person at the end of the book than at the beginning. This seems to be a common reaction, albeit from a small number of reviews so far.

Krall has, with great skill, looked through the eyes of one of the worst people on the planet, and the result is gripping … Given her ability to write a psychological thriller, and the enjoyable Sydney background, her readers may be in for quite a ride.

– review by M. Robbins

How will this translate into sales? Ah, well, that remains to be seen! Today, though, I am basking in my bonanza of positive feedback and thinking that perhaps the effort given to writing and editing was not wasted, after all.

Update, 7 hours later

And another good review has appeared on Amazon, the first 5-star.

In my review policy I state that a five star review from me means that “you blew my socks off, surprised me, and I can’t wait for your next book”. Elizabeth Krall’s novel did just that. With superb writing, vivid descriptions, and meaty characters, she pulls the reader into the story and does not let go until the words “the end” appear.

– review by Gut Reaction Reviews

I think bubbles are called for this evening!

Playin’ with the big kids now!

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The quest for free publicity and reviews leads a self-published author to a number of places — Bublish, facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, book bloggers. I’ve added my novels to more ‘list your book here FREE!’ sites than I can remember or name. Access to the publicity big league is restricted to traditionally published authors whose publisher will pay for an ad on the back of a bus, in a train station or on a newspaper (be it print or online).

Big name reviewers with wide audiences focus on the next Man Booker Prize nominee or the latest bestseller from a known author, rather than the next offering from an unheard-of indie writer. I don’t blame them in the least, because I know from experience that one must trawl through a lot of badly written self-published fiction to find one novel worth reading.

pw_logoSo imagine my surprise when I learned last year that Publishers Weekly is willing to review self-published works. It’s a rather convoluted process. The intrepid author must sign up to Booklife, which is PW’s website focused on self-publishing. There, you must create a ‘project’ for your book and a profile for yourself. Finally, you can submit the book for review.

However, Booklife offers some sobering advice on its Review Submission Guideline page:

  • A Small Percentage of Books Submitted Will Be Reviewed: We receive over a thousand books a month from self- and trade publishers; unfortunately, we can’t cover them all.
  • You Should Make Sure Your Book Is Really Ready Before Submitting: Your books will be vetted by our editors the same way as professionally edited books from major publishers.

Okay, then. Minuscule chance of actually being selected, and compared against “professionally edited books from major publishers” if selected. Throwing caution to the wind, I submitted Too Close (my second novel) for review.

Weeks passed. I forgot about the whole thing. Then in November I received an email that said, “Our editors have looked at the BookLife project you submitted (Too Close), and they are considering it for review. While this is no guarantee that your book will receive a Publishers Weekly review, you have cleared an important hurdle.”

At the time, I was deep in the throes of proofreading my third novel, In Your Sights, and was depressed (to put it mildly) by the number of sentences with garbled words, missing words, etc. Every time I read IYS, I found mistakes I had missed on previous passes. (God knows how many are still there, in the published version.) All I could think of was Too Close up against those “professionally edited books from major publishers”, proofed by armies of dedicated, eagle-eyed editors and proofreaders.

Then in December I received this email: “Congratulations! Your BookLife project (Too Close) has been selected for review by Publishers Weekly!”

Bloody hell. (To put it mildly.)

And on 5 January 2015, the review appeared on the PW site:

Krall’s breezy style almost undermines the serious dilemma at the heart of this capable debut contemporary. When San Francisco newspaper editor Nicola meets “that new guy in finance,” Greg, she wants nothing to do with him. Ever since an evil ex ran off with her boss, she has sworn off office romances. Greg is persistent, however, and soon he and Nicola become poster people for true love. When others comment that they look like brother and sister, it only serves to confirm their belief that they are fated to be together. But wedding plans lead to meeting parents—and the shocking revelation that the lovebirds may in fact be half-siblings. Krall deftly navigates the ensuing complications and emotional turmoil to a most satisfying conclusion.

The funny thing is, I found out about the review from a publicist in Manhattan! She had read the review on PW, tracked me down via my website and sent me a message saying she would love to work with me to publicise “my new novel”. (I don’t know if she means In Your Sights, or if she missed the fact that Too Close is two years old now). I’m sure such messages are part of her approach to getting new business and are sent to any indie writer who receives a good PW review. I have no idea how much those services would cost, and with a marketing budget of $0 I’ll never find out. Nonetheless, it amused me to contemplate casually dropping references in conversation to “my publicist in Manahattan”.

As new books are added to the Booklife list of reviews, mine will be pushed off the front page. But for the moment, it’s there for anyone to admire — and buy. That reminds me, I’d better add some links to that project!

TC-on-booklife

Special Snowflake

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special snowflakeA review of In Your Sights on Amazon refers to the heroine as “a bit of a special snowflake, admired and desired by one and all”. I’ve never heard the term “special snowflake” but considering that this reviewer titled his/her review “Unloveable heroine, enjoyable story,” I was fairly certain this was not a compliment.

Apparently, “Special Snowflake is a derogatory term widely used on Tumblr to describe someone who often whines about deserving special treatment or sees oneself as exceptionally unique for no apparent reason.” (source here)

Oh my. (And let’s just skip over that use of “exceptionally unique”, shall we?)

It never occurred to me that anyone would interpret the character like that, and I wish I could sit down with this person and determine just what gave him/her that impression. Nor did I intend to convey that she was “admired and desired by one and all”. One of the beta readers did remark that I was brave to make my heroine flawed, but this reviewer seems to have found flaws I did not mean to include.

Of course, “No two persons ever read the same book“, so there will be different takes on that character. I’m looking forward to seeing what other people think of her.

They don’t make it easy

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I finally succumbed to the lure of the dark side. I bought a Kindle. Two things swayed me: 1 – the inconvenience of carrying physical books on holiday, and 2 – the knowledge that in order to generate some reviews for In Your Sights, I will have to read and review a few other self-published authors’ novels via a Goodreads review group, and they are generally formatted for Kindle. Having read a number of novels on my netbook via the Kindle for PC app, I know it’s not the most comfortable reading process.

I went away for a few days at Christmas and before I left I thought I would buy a few books for my new toy. Books by Martha Grimes, to be precise. I’m a big fan of her mystery series featuring Richard Jury. Revisiting old favourites would be just the thing for the long train rides I was facing.

Or not, as it turned out.

Oh, there are plenty of her novels on Amazon – in hardback and paperback, even audio. Surely there must be Kindle versions! Off I went to Google. I finally ended up on the Simon & Schuster website, where indeed I could buy her novels in “ebook”. Aha. Warning bells. “ebook” does not necessarily mean “works on a Kindle”, and indeed the fine print indicated that these were in epub format, not mobi.
Great. However, according to the website, the books were in fact available for Kindle on Amazon. (see Screengrab 1)

Screengrab 1

Screengrab 1

So I clicked the Amazon link – and that led me to screengrab 2.

Screengrab 2

Screengrab 2

Well, that’s helpful.

Devious mind kicked into gear: I decided to test-buy one of the ebooks on the Simon & Schuster site that are only $1.99, open it on my PC with Adobe Digital Editions and copy the text from there into InDesign, where I could format it for Kindle myself (as I do for my own novels). If that didn’t work, I’d wasted only $2.

Simon & Schuster allowed me to get all the way through the buying process – including specifiying credit card billing address – and click the button before telling me that I had to be in the US to buy the book.

Yes, I was getting annoyed. I should have given up, but I figured I’d try Barnes & Noble. I had to actually make an account on the B&N site, entering address details and setting up a default payment method, before it would let me even attempt to buy any of their precious books. And what do you think the result was? Screengrab 3.

Screengrab 3

Screengrab 3

Needless to say, I wiped my account and card details.

It seems that I will not, after all, be re-reading any of the Richard Jury novels on my Kindle. Or wait…I suppose I could buy the paperbacks, scan them with OCR software, and format the text that way!

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