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Oct. 3rd, 2014

[sticky post] New Book: Lost Anchors, by JJ Kirsten

A missing husband in the middle of Melbourne. How does that happen? It's the question Julia Stewart needs answered. She's lost hers. With the help of long-time psychiatrist, Dr. Sadhu Singh, and Detective Taylor Franke, the whereabouts of Michael will be discovered. All is not as it seems, with any of them.

Ready for purchase from Amazon.
Kindle: mybook.to/lostanchors
Print: http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Anchors-J-Kirsten/dp/1502541556/

Lost Anchors is the creation of myself, Taran Roberts and Justus Lewis. We drafted this story back in 2006 and it has nothing to do with Gone Girl. We were there first!

Aug. 10th, 2014

Digital Publishing - the oft unspoken joys

I did a talk on digital publishing yesterday for my computer club. After the session, one of the ladies told me she decided to try out ebooks because of my book, and may also go for publishing a very short book of poetry with an 88 year old friend now that she's seen someone go from zero to a final product. She has a myalgia that makes holding a print book and even an ereader difficult, and she so missed reading. So she decided reading my book would be a project for her to start reading again and figured out how she could put the Kindle app on her laptop and sit propped in bed reading it that way. Yesterday, she brought me a lovely bouquet of flowers of congratulations.

So it's things like that I'm enjoying about this process. I enjoy playing around with covers and interiors, fighting with the three different publishing platforms and getting the acceptance/approval notice, seeing my work in several online stores, sharing the physical copy with friends and family, all those little things, not to mention creating the story in the first place. So what if it's not perfect? I'm enjoying the journey a lot.

I admit I'm an amateur at this, but I love learning about it and getting more perspective of what goes into it. I'm also intrigued by the book design elements. I won't pretend my work is perfect, but I still think it's amazing to hold mine in my hand and share it with friends and family.

What could you be writing/creating/sharing? Family lore to pass on to later generations so it's not forgotten? Your poetry? A captioned book of photographs?

Aug. 1st, 2014

Writers Killing Our Darlings - a different question

One of the often heard advisories is to 'kill your darlings'. The advice in the usual sense is focused on cutting words from our works, leaving our writer's ego at the door, and not becoming too attached to those clever strings of words, our 'darlings', when they don't serve the story at hand. Sometimes we get too enamored of our own cleverness and forget about the reader. It's one of those lessons of 'writing for the reader' that writers need to take on board and try a few times to accept its merit, changing our judgement about what should be kept and what should be cut to get on with it, to tighten our prose, to keep the scene relevant and the story moving along. Readers don't want to see us, the author. They just want to read a good yarn told well.

I would like to try a different twist on this saying, defining 'darlings' as our characters. Have you ever noticed that almost every book includes some aspect of death? I've been trying to come up with novels where no one dies or where death doesn't play some role in the story. Short stories are possibly less so in this regard, but I don't read much in the short story category, so I can't really say. In terms of the long form, someone (or something) almost always dies. What is going on here?

If you search the net for the terms: character death in story, you'll find several articles dealing with how to kill your characters, the character death trope in TV, why we react to it, and characters who die in popular series. Suggested related search phrases include: character death generators, character death pathfinder, character death ideas, and character death note, the last one being the title of a manga and anime series. But five pages in of the results for the original phrase and there's nothing about the theory underlying this phenomenon, either from the narrative purpose or reader psychology. Adding the word 'theory' to my original search did nothing either. Maybe I just need a better search engine.

What are your thoughts? Do you include a death or deaths in your books? Can you identify novels that don't have a death? Was it more or less satisfying, either as writer or reader? Tell us what you think!

Jul. 13th, 2014

Indie publishing reflections

I posted on the OWW mailing list some thoughts about my experience in publishing my first novel.

Here are my personal changes over the last month (the 'you' is 'me')
1 - you see how the actual process works and demystifies it
2 - it boosts confidence to have the physical or digital product in your hands, with all the pieces, like a very special birthday present - cover, title page, front matter, all those elements
3 - even if you just sell a few copies and get a few reviews, you start to get feedback from NON-writers. It's quite a different relationship than reviews from other writers. When a reader likes it, you get another confidence boost.
4 - you start to think differently about the time you spend writing because you actually impact someone else's day
5 - you start to build the other pieces to use the next time -- what you've learned from this one, plus reviews to use to point to the quality of your writing and story-telling, a promotional platform to expose your work. Facebook, Twitter, webpage, and/or author page on your distribution channel are there ready to build upon.
5 - you wish facilitated POD and digital self-publishing (low cost to free) were available a long time ago, without the fear of ending up with a garage full of cases of unsold books

I've decided for me that agents aren't in the picture, and may never be. So I'm just getting on with it for the third chapter of my life and am going to enjoy every minute of it. :-)

But only you know what is right for you. I've thought recently about the aspect of you can only 'debut' once. But I'm not so sure about that. Pen names can make for many debuts!

Happy writing and happy reading.

Jun. 24th, 2014

Presence on Smashwords

I spent the past two days publishing On A Life's Edge through Smashwords. Hopefully, it will be available through many more ebook stores soon in many more formats.

I also published an in-depth Q&A interview on the site at https://www.smashwords.com/interview/jlwhit . If you like it, please share with your friends. If there are additional questions you would like to see answered in the interview, please add to comments here or email me, and I'll do my best to answer them.

Jun. 15th, 2014

First sale

Such a nice little red tent.

The person who bought the first copy of On A Life's Edge wrote to me this morning to tell me. What's even more fun is that he was the first boy (way too many years ago) who asked me on a date -- in 7th grade! Lots of firsts there, Mike. :-)

I've published journal and newspaper articles and a book chapter, but I've never been paid for my writing before. This is cool!
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Jun. 14th, 2014

On A Life's Edge

Hallelujah, it's finished!

"On A Life's Edge" is available in print or Kindle edition at http://www.amazon.com/On-Lifes-Edge-J-Whitaker/dp/1499787154/ .
Also available from other online bookstores Kobo and Nook, plus the Apple environment, at:

This is contemporary women's fiction. Are you male? Still, you have wives and girlfriends, no? A nice summer read?

It's been a fun ride. I never thought I'd 'build' a book in my life and this is the first one I've seen through from the blank screen to final product.

If you like it, tell your friends. :-) And a reader review on Amazon would be amazing, too!

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   Amazon                                All other ebooks

Shawna Charity has an abusive partner, little money, no skills, and three children under six, one with an intellectual disability. To save them all, she escapes with the children to her widowed mother's home. Shawna's goal: to become a hair-dresser so she can provide a good future for her family, and be rid of Randall.

Retired English bachelor Max Candle lives next door. Facing end stage cancer, he is ready to throw in the towel. But when Shawna asks him to baby-sit while she goes to college, he is persuaded to delay the inevitable, pushes through his pain, and rediscovers joy playing checkers with a little boy.

When Randall stalks Shawna and challenges a restraining order, she must gather her own strength and accept Max's help. Together, they fight back against the mayor's son, a potentially corrupt judge, a drug kingpin, and a backstabbing childhood friend who has her own dark agenda.

Shawna's challenges are those that many young mothers face today. So too, Max. It is through their courage, strength, and the support of family and true friends that they find renewal and fulfillment, on a life's edge.

Jan. 4th, 2008

First post

I've just joined LiveJournal. However, I'm unlikely to post here much.

I've maintained a website for many years, both professionally and personally, plus have added a blog in the past year or so.

If you want to know more about me, see pics, etc., have a look at:
Business: http://www.janwhitaker.com
Personal: http://www.janwhitaker.com/personal/
Blog: http://www.janwhitaker.com/jansblog/