31 July 2014

Returning: Feedback, Booksales and Next Steps

Can you believe it has already been five months since Returning was first published?!




I just want to shout out a huge THANK YOU to everyone in my local community - family, friends, acquaintances - who have bought my book. In particular, all the school mums at MissyMoo1's school who have supported me - you ladies are sunshine and I am so thankful to be part of such a close, supportive, friendly community! Also, thank you so much to those of you in the blogging community who have bought, read and reviewed Returning and who have offered so many kind words of support and encouragement over the past few months.




So, how's it all going?

Feedback

The response from people who have read the book has blown me away. I just want to share with you some of the comments I have received so far from readers.

Here are some publicly available reviews:
"I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was left feeling that I’d said goodbye to a friend or two when I put it down. I still find myself wondering what the protagonists are up to beyond the end of Suters’ story.  This is a self-published book, but it’s one of the most polished I’ve seen in awhile. The writing is good and the editing tidy. Most importantly, the story is really fresh and the characters beautifully drawn. I can’t wait to see what Francesca does next." - Extract from This Charming Mum's review

"I found this book intriguing on many levels. The skill with which we are transported into Rita's 16 year old life made me feel as though I was sitting in her bedroom and brought back memories of my own teenage years. The insecurities, the dreams, the chance to do things differently. It is a book that stays in your thoughts long after the final page is turned. A book that sucked me in and took me on a nostalgic roller coaster ride of emotions. I definitely want to read this book again and look forward to future books from this new Australian author!" - Gina, review on BookDepository

"Thirty years ago I was a teenager and now I am parenting teenage children. "Returning" really got me thinking about teenage years and how and if we would change things if we could relive them. I couldn't put the book down - a great read. Like the previous reviewer, I too look forward to more books from Francesca Suters" - Monica, review on BookDepository
Here are some private messages I have received from friends - I won't add names here, as I haven't asked permission to publish their names.

"Hi Francesca, I’ve just finished your book. Wow!! It was awesome!!! I have no idea how you came up with the idea, but it was soo good!! No pressure, but can’t wait for the sequel!"
"Wow! Just finished Returning. Loved it. Do we really have to wait that long for a sequel? Twas amazing. You’re a super talent in so many ways."
"Loved my holiday reading. Thank you for such a great read. Couldn’t put it down."
"Hey Francesca, I just finished reading your book and just wanted to say it was great! Thoroughly enjoyed it, kind of wish I could go back now and do it again like the story. :)) It was great to read a book written by someone I know, an awesome achievement and you should be so proud of yourself. Can't wait for next one." 
 "Loved it so much. You write so well, the story flows, the intrigue is there, the emotion is there. But for me it was a bit more - I feel it was a book I was meant to read now ... I think you have found your purpose in life in your writing, it is a gift and I encourage you to courageously continue it! Thank you for sharing your story with me!"
"Just wanted to let you know I finished your novel this morning, thoroughly enjoyed it but it left me with wanting to read more, well done to you congratulations."
"Just finished a great book - it was so nice to escape for a while in some fiction. Thank you Francesca Suters for writing Returning- I just loved it."
"If anyone is looking for a new book to read, I have just finished Returning, by Francesca Suters - Author Page. It was a great read and it kept me going till the end. I just hope that in the next few years Francesca can pen and publish the sequel, because I want to know what happens next!"


I love the fact that people have taken the time to respond to me about how the book has made them feel. It is moving and heartening to know that this huge piece of work (and consequently, a huge piece of me) has had an impact on people.

Booksales

This is where it all falls down! Let's just say I won't be quitting my day job to become a professional author.

Things got off to a flying start with local sales and the book launch. But in the last two months, I've only sold two books each month through online sales. Let's just say that at that rate, it's going to take quite a while to make back the rest of my out-of-pocket amount spent on self-publishing. So much for the bells and whistles. It's not about money, though. This exercise was always about just actually having the book published and being able to make it available to others. It would be nice to sell a few more though ;-)

Next Steps

I haven't ruled out sending a second edition manuscript to a publisher - the self-publishing exercise has definitely given me clarity around the target audience for the book and its appeal on varying levels. I could fix a few typos, put together an awesome pitch/synopsis and see what happens...

I still daydream about Returning being available in an actual shop - being able to walk in and see it there on a shelf. And with the sequel underway, a publisher could release books one and two in quick succession while interest had been drummed up (just sayin').

Over the past few months I've been blowing my own trumpet all over social media and beyond, but I would hate for people to become turned off by all that trumpeting, so I have tried to be measured in my approach.

The thing is, there's only so many times I can blow my own trumpet, because the sound will generally fall on the same ears, won't it?

So, right now, I'm a little frustrated and at a bit of a loss as to what to do next.

I believe in this book. I believe it is something many people would enjoy reading. I know it has the potential for quite a wide readership - young adults through to mothers of young adults. And it is obvious to me from the feedback I have received, that there are plenty of people out there who agree with me.

I just need to get it out there!

Call to Action

I've realised that I can't be the only trumpet blower. I need a whole brass section at my disposal!!

This is where you guys come in :-)

If you've read and enjoyed the book, don't be backward in coming forward. Here are a few ideas about things you might wish to do to help get the word out about Returning:

Rate and/or review the book
This could be on Goodreads, a blog, a bookseller website such as BookDepository or Amazon or other book recommendation websites which you may use. You don't have to be a book critiquing expert to write a review - every reader is entitled to their opinion and it need only be a few lines. If you're uncomfortable reviewing, then rating may be more up your alley - just a quick click to rate the number of stars you would give the book.

Tell your friends
Whether it be a conversation in the supermarket, school carpark, local playground or workplace - don't be afraid to tell people you know about the book you've just discovered and how easy it is to buy it online! If you're in a bookclub, why not recommend it as a possible book to read? The abundant themes in Returning will definitely provide many talking points. I understand not everyone has book-buying in their budget, though, which leads me to my next idea.

Recommend Returning to your local library
Many libraries are happy to take recommendations from members about new books to buy. Why not put in a request for your library to purchase Returning? Some libraries allow you to do this online, for others you may wish to go in and speak to one of the librarians. If you don't tell them about it, they'll probably never know...

Share information
If you're on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and you "like" something from my author page / profiles, share them (share, retweet, +1) - just one click could expand the audience in a huge way.

My Facebook Author Page

My Twitter

My Google+

In Conclusion

If you want to buy my book and you don't know how to go about it, visit my website. It has information about Returning and direct links to online stockists.

This is a self-published book. With three little kids and a part-time job, unfortunately I don't have the resources or the time to do book tours, advertise or use other traditional means of getting the word out about my book. I have tried very hard and spent a lot of time telling people in person, via social media and doing guest blog posts to expand the reach. But that "phase 1" or "honeymoon period" since the book's publication has come to an end. I now need you to be my "ripple effect", to help to spread the information further afield.

Thanks for all your support so far. ☺



29 July 2014

33

I remember something in particular about Par (my dad) being 33. I remember saying to him: "You're the same age that Jesus was when he died."

Nice one, kiddo.

Well now I'm 33. It goes without saying that I will never do anything as profound as the greatest thing a 33-year-old ever did. But what does 33 hold for me?

First up, it's a pretty cool looking number. Only twice before have I been a double digit age with both digits being the same.

11 was a great rite-of passage time: finishing primary school and starting high school

22 also had important life-changing events: I was living independently for the first time - out of home and not in college - and some other serious stuff went on which shaped my adult life.

What does 33 hold for me?

Debt.

Okay, let's be more positive, shall we?


I'll be 33 when we move into our new home - something we've dreamed of, planned and lost sleep over at times, will be a reality.

I'll be 33 when MissyMoo2 (5) starts school. Crazy how quickly time flies by.

During the age of 33, we should become a nappy-free household. Awesome!

Towards the end of 33, Hubby and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and we'll do something special to mark the occasion. I'm already looking forward to that.


Have you been 33 yet? What were you doing / are you looking forward to doing at that age? 

23 July 2014

Would You Like a Cup of Tea?

I've never been much of a tea drinker (except herbal tea - I've liked this for many years). Perhaps it comes from growing up in a coffee drinking family. Perhaps it was ingrained in the "caffeine culture" of law school, pulling all-nighters for assignments and sustaining oneself through take-home exams. Perhaps the "coffee run" (the modern smoko?) when I was cutting my teeth as a graduate corporate lawyer cemented its presence in my life. Whatever the reason, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee has always caught my attention and navigated its way towards my nostrils, and the flavour has always tantalised my tastebuds.

But I digress. This is supposed to be a blog post about tea.

I can track my evolution through stages of tea drinking through my changing behaviour on visits to my paternal grandmother (not the coffee drinking side of the family). When she first used to offer me a cup of tea, I'd ask if she had coffee. Occasionally she did; more often than not, she didn't. Then I would reluctantly accept tea. Nowadays I enjoy a cup of tea when I go there visiting.

Why the change?

It started when I was pregnant for the first time. I therefore (of course) put it down to hormones.

I just started developing a liking for tea. Nothing special, just your run-of-the-mill Lipton (not sponsored) black tea bags from the supermarket with a splash of milk. Thinking about it, the fact that I wasn't drinking coffee at this stage probably gave my taste buds the space they needed for me to expand my hot beverage drinking horizons.

The funny thing, though, is that after the baby was born, I no longer liked the taste of tea ... the first two times.

When MissyMoo3 was born, the taste for tea stayed with me. And although coffee is still my default hot drink, tea now has a firm place in my life. Like in the evenings. Sometimes I like to sit on the couch after the MissyMoos have gone to bed and have a lovely hot cup of tea. Another occasion is book club. Book club has turned me into a "real" tea drinker where, in addition to chatting about many things (sometimes even the book), we share a pot of tea. Yes, a pot of tea - none of this amateur tea bag stuff.

So as you can imagine, with my new-found tea drinking maturity, I was very happy to receive this from a friend for my birthday last month.




 Yes, it's tea! Tea that you make in a pot!





The only problem, as I quickly discovered, was that I didn't own a tea pot...

I didn't want to go and buy one considering I had already spent my birthday money (probably two times over, actually), so it was Nonna to the rescue!

Nonna isn't a huge tea drinker either and I don't think I've ever seen her make a pot of tea in my life, but it turns out she had a teapot, and she was happy to give it to me because she doesn't really use it.































Not only does it have a gorgeous tea cosy, but it comes with added sentimental value having been
purchased while Nonna and Par were on their honeymoon.

You will be happy to know that I can now say that I have made a pot of tea (should I add that to the bucket list and tick it?) and it wasn't too bad at all. I feel so grown up!








20 July 2014

Library Game

You may recall that a couple of months ago, my book launch was held at my local library. Well, all the talk about books and libraries has not gone unnoticed by the MissyMoos - they've added a new "libraries" game to their repertoire.

The library is located in MissyMoo1's (7) room and she made a sign for the door.



MissyMoo1 sets up the "checkout" on her bed for MissyMoos 2 & 3 to borrow books.




Although I don't think they've quite grasped the concept that libraries allow you to borrow books for free...




What games do your kids play which are inspired by what's happening in their lives?




18 July 2014

Just One of Those Days

I was just a couple of minutes later with the pre-school and school drop off, but this meant much more traffic.
 
The car's CD player ate my CD (I knew it did this, but it had been so long since I had tried it that I forgot).
 
When I got to work, half of the carpark was blocked off with witches hats for leaf blowing (I kid you not). I had to park a few minutes' walk away in a residential area so I wouldn't have to move my car every two hours. At least I remembered my umbrella - it was looking a little grey.
 
I lost the heel of my shoe while I was walking to the office.
 
When I got to the office, I realised I'd left my work bag in the car.
 
I did the Woolies online grocery shop in my lunch break at work to save time, but then it wouldn't go through the "checkout" stage.
 
I left my umbrella in the office in the afternoon.
 
 
 

16 July 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Image source

This was our Old Ducks Bookclub book for June.

I first read this in high school (as most people would have). I remember three things from that experience:
  1. Having to memorise quotes for assessment - "You can kill all the bluejays you want but it's a sin to kill a mockingbird";
  2. Thinking Atticus Finch had it together in the courtroom;
  3. A fellow student kept saying "Articus" instead of "Atticus" - yes, it's funny the things you remember.
I wasn't terribly excited about reading it again. I couldn't remember the story - I just remembered that it wasn't one of the school texts I enjoyed a whole lot.

I definitely got a whole lot more out of it as an adult. Little pearls of wisdom scattered through the book are much easier to pick up and nod your head at with a few extra years' life experience under your belt. I had all but forgotten the story itself, so it had the mystery of a first reading with the "Aha!" moments which come with remembering something from long ago.


Book: Paperback. Borrowed from my local library.
Rating: I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.
One-liner: Interesting to re-read after many years. Full of wisdom.


13 July 2014

Loom Band Loonies

Do you remember the snazzy necklace MissyMoo1 (7) made me for my birthday? I love it, and I wear it quite often actually.

Anyway, my fashion choices are beside the point.

The point is that I have three loom band loonies in my house (yes, even the 2-year- old uses them).

Doesn't she just have the cutest little hands?
I resisted the requests for a while, fearing loom band explosions all over the floor which would be left to me to clean up. When I finally did capitulate, it was with stern warnings that any loom bands found on the floor or not packed up would be put in the bin.

I must say, they've been very good. Lesson learned by them: pack up and you might get what you ask for. Lesson learned by me: trust that your kids will pack up sometimes.

We've stored them in snap-lock bags - one per MissyMoo and an extra for communal loom bands.



They ask to get them out from time to time and make nice things for each other - for Hubby and I too (although Hubby's don't have any pink bands in them).

I love it that they work together and help each other and don't fight over bands (how could they? There are heaps per pack)


Aaaand, when they run out of s-clips, they get creative with their tying.


This is not a sponsored post, and to be honest, if a supplier of loom bands wished to supply me with more in return for a post, I don't think I could do it - we have enough of them!!

10 July 2014

A House Made of Bricks

The third little pig was pretty excited about his bricks, and rightly so, their strength saved him from the big, bad wolf.



Up until it was time to do the colour selections for our new house, I hadn't shown much more than a passing interest in bricks.

But now?

I LOVE bricks!

Why do I love bricks? Because I HAVE bricks!

VoilĂ !

In progress



All finished

Roof next! Can't wait!

09 July 2014

Winter Lurgy

Sore throat doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling at the moment.
 
One positive is that I've been able to do a lot of resting and sleeping in the past couple of days.
 

This winter hasn't been nearly as bad as previous ones (yet - touch wood). With no baby babies any more and MissyMoo3's asthma under control, it has hasn't been completely terrible (yet - touch wood). So, time for me to go back to bed with my Strepsils (not sponsored, but I'd gladly do a sponsored post for Strepsils if they asked!!)

See you all on the other side!

08 July 2014

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

Image source

My interest in this book is a prime example of pop-culture informing a decision to read literature. Before watching "Back to the Future 3", I had never given any consideration to reading a book by Jules Verne. But when Doc Brown so passionately recalled having read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a child, it sowed the seeds.

Fast-forward many years, I was perusing the bookshelves at my parents' place and discovered that Nonna owned this book. So I borrowed it.

It's a thick book. At times I skimmed through passages. At times I was a bit bored. At times I wanted to put it down. At one point, I thought that if I had to read another description of a fish, I would scream.

BUT.

There is no way I could have given it any less than the four star rating I gave it. And that is because it is so incredibly, amazingly intelligent that anyone with such a mind must be given due recognition. Jules Verne thought this stuff up long before submarines were a "thing". Not only did he have an incredible imagination, but he made it all sound scientific, giving seemingly plausible explanations for everything, so that you would walk away thinking: "Yes, that is entirely reasonable. Yes that could happen." That's what I like about science fiction and some fantasy - it makes you think that, given the right conditions, it's possible; that maybe it has the ability to not be fiction after all.


Book: Paperback. Borrowed from Nonna.
Rating: I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.
One-liner: I was blown away by the intelligence and imagination demonstrated in this book

05 July 2014

Francesca's Festa of Favourites: July 2014

Welcome to the July 2014 edition of
 
Francesca Writes Here

 
 Let's have a Festa!! 
 
Background 

"Festa" in Italian means a celebration, a party (and, if you look around this blog long enough, you'll see that I'm a fan of throwing Italian words around). This is a place where you can add links to your favourite posts for a given month (this time, it's July 2014), but here's the difference: they don't have to be posts you've written (although they can be). You can link to any post for the month that, for you, has been a must-read, that you're proud of, or that you think is entertaining, written by you or anybody else.

So this is a linky which is open to bloggers and blog readers alike!

I add some of the posts, from blogs I read regularly, so you might see the same bloggers cropping up over the months. I love being able to use this space to bookmark my favourite blog posts for the month. But, more importantly, I love seeing what everyone else likes reading - it helps me discover new blogs I might not otherwise have seen and it's a great way of sharing the bloggy love. So feel free to link up as many of your favourite posts as you like during the course of the month.

There are no rules here - it's pretty laid back. There is no obligation to read and comment on all the posts if you link up, but of course you can if you want to.

If you've linked a post or had one of your blog posts linked by someone else, feel free to add the Festa button to your blog and help spread the word :-)

Also, each month I like to choose a post from the previous month's linky party to showcase. I think it's a great way of showing off other bloggers in my own little corner of blogland. Last month I wrote a little summary of the previous month's linked posts before highlighting one post in particular. I think that worked well, so I'm going to do it again. Here goes:


June 2014 Festa Recap


Drumroll for the .... Pick of the June bunch (in my humble opinion)

The June Festa Favourite is:

A Cautionary Tale About Pyjamas and the School Run by Muddle-Headed Mamma



Sorry Lizzy, but reading this post made me laugh out loud. It sounded like something out of a Mr Bean episode. I'm so glad you kept your sense of humour about it and it sounds like you made a new friend through the experience too. Thanks for the entertaining read!

 
Now, let's get this festa started for Francesca's Festa of Favourites in June 2014. Happy linking!





04 July 2014

Frame It!

Hopefully all the parents of little ones will understand (and pardon) the reference to Mr Maker in the post title. I couldn't help myself.

Anyway, I figured it was about time I gave you an update on our Forever House build. The frame was completed a couple of weeks ago and now I can finally begin to picture it being an actual house (yes, for a fiction writer, I have a remarkably useless imagination to picture a finished house in my mind).

When I left you at the last house update, the gorgeous blue steel frame had been delivered. Now it has been transformed into the bones of the house, ready for everything else to be filled in all around it.

Partway up

This is the living area side - on the east to catch the morning sun (clever Hubby)


Frame complete, windows in and bricking commenced straight after

View from the back - western side

View from the back - alfresco!!

Another view from the back

Next stage = bricks. Can't wait to show you!




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