Jodi Taylor on surviving Cardiff Comic Con

12065486_572493439568125_2619137809296327011_nSorry there’s been such a long gap since my last post – as most of you know, I’ve been to Cardiff Comic Con and what an exhilarating and exhausting experience that turned out to be.

Firstly, thanks to all the people who turned up at our table, introducing themselves and wanting to chat. It was lovely to meet you all and talk about favourite books and characters in the series. It really does seem that everyone takes something different from The Chronicles of St Mary’s.

Secondly – every other person was in costume and they were all amazing. There were Dr Who’s – in every incarnation – together with Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels. There was every12190103_572493426234793_8529426770089438988_n conceivable character from Star Wars and Star Trek (and unlike Penny in The Big Bang Theory, I do know the difference!) Interestingly, most of the Spocks were women and a significant number of Princess Leias were men. If anyone has any theories as to why that should be so … Game of Thrones was popular and there were several people who’d either come as Transformers or had collided with the contents of their cutlery drawers!

What was most noticeable was the friendliness and enthusiasm of everyone there. A great time was obviously being had by all – even the six-month-old Caped Crusader, beaming at everyone from his dad’s arms and wearing his tiny Batman socks.

Anyway, I arrived home and spent the next few days recovering. I have absolutely no recollection of Wednesday at all. I think I missed it completely. That, my hideous cold and the fact that PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MUCKING AROUND WITH THE CLOCKS AGAIN are all contributing to my already very slender grasp on who and where I am and what’s going on. I suspect that this year it will take even more chocolate than usual to see me through.

I wrote all that last night when my life seemed a little less phlegm-philled than before. Buoyed up by this false dawn of recovery I sallied forth to yoga and spent a lot of time upside down and opening my chakras. Not simultaneously, obviously. Staggering back into the street several hours later with my sinuses blocked and my chakras gaping, I paused only for the traditionally healthy post-yoga treat of egg and chips and a Kit Kat before taking to my bed.

This may be my last blog ever. God knows what I have but it’s pretty nasty so it’s probably best if no one kisses their screens in fond farewell.

Farewell…

 

How I Was Published

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary Book 1)

Some time ago, I sat down and wrote a book. I’d always wanted to and suddenly finding myself with the time to do so, I thought I’d give it a go. I’d like to talk about my writing process on another occasion. Today’s blog is about how Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary Book 1) was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.

Actually, writing the book was the easiest part because now I had to find an agent.

I was under no illusions that it would be snapped up immediately, but after a while, it became very apparent that it wasn’t going to be snapped up at all. Every Monday morning I would sit down, select the next three agents on my list, and send them the appropriate files. The thing is – it takes forever. Some agents want three chapters, some two, some one. One wanted six! Some want a one-page synopsis, some two pages. Some want an author biography – some don’t. Every Monday I would assemble the appropriate files, tweak them appropriately, and send them off.

Time passed, I wasn’t getting any younger, and it seemed if I were ever to be published at all then it would be posthumously.

Then, one sunny day, I was tempted forth by friends who invited me out. Emerging, blinking, into the daylight, I allowed myself to be tempted to what turned out to be the luckiest lunch of my life.

These friends urged me to bypass the traditional agent/publisher route and try self-publishing. By this time, I was nearly half-way down my first glass of wine, and frankly, at this point, I would have agreed to anything, but in a fit of alcohol-induced recklessness I agreed to give it a go and could I have a top up, please.

It’s actually quite a simple process and I would urge anyone who thinks they may have a book in them to give it a go. I made the decision on the Wednesday, sent the files off to Smashwords and Amazon on the Tuesday, and was a published author by the following Friday.

I can’t tell you how it felt to see details of my book – MY BOOK – on Amazon. There was a picture of the cover, my name as author, a blurb – all of it just like a proper book.

At this point, I should say I never expected it would be a success. I honestly thought that it would disappear into some kind of Amazon Black Hole somewhere and that would be it, but I’d written the book I’d always wanted to write, and that was the important thing.

I’d contacted friends and family and estimated that if everyone bought a copy there was every chance my sales would reach double figures and every morning I monitored my Amazon spreadsheet, which was how I came to notice the discrepancy. According to their figures, I’d sold about three copies, but there were an awful lot of reviews on Amazon and they all said ‘Amazon verified purchase.’

In the end, I plucked up the courage and emailed Amazon, querying this discrepancy. If, at this point, they’d said, ‘Oh, we’re awfully sorry, your reviews belong to another Jodi Taylor,’ then I would have been upset but not particularly surprised. But they didn’t. A very nice lady gently pointed out I was looking at the wrong column and I actually had about 25,000 sales.

I had to have a serious lie-down.

I’m convinced it was because the book was free and I’m embarrassed to admit it was free only because I was too stupid to work out how to charge for it. I’m really not bright. And who knows – if I had charged the 99p per copy then maybe it really would have disappeared into the Amazon Black Hole. Anyway, the book went to Number One in the free charts and I opened my email one morning to find a message from Accent Press offering me a three-book contract.

At this point, I really should take a moment to thank them publicly. I know I maunder on about them, but they’ve never been anything other than supportive and brilliant, so thank you Accent Press.

I’m often asked if I have any advice for would-be authors and yes, I do.

Firstly, write your book. You’re not going anywhere until you do.

Secondly, if you’re going to select a pen name, don’t do it at a long, boozy lunch with friends when everyone knows you’re incapable of coherent thought after half a glass of wine. My first choice – Dirk Thrust – was unanimously rejected. Even by the waiter. When you have selected your pen name, GOOGLE IT FIRST so you don’t find yourself with the same name as the famous porn star.

And thirdly, if you do neglect this simple precaution, get someone to warn your mother so she doesn’t bring up the wrong website to impress her friends. No one was happy that day, believe me.

 

5 Star Amazon review: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

Review for Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Series)

This book is a great read, and for me it became a real page turner. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it but after following the protagonist and her colleagues through training and early jumps, I found I was really enjoying the read. Taylor is clearly a talented writer and was able to keep me interested all the way through, which is why I’ve given a 5* rating.

The concept of historians using time travel to investigate the past in real time was definitely
a new idea. It was something I could relate to as I hold an MA in history and would love to go back to many events of the past to see what it looked like. I was definitely jealous of Taylor’s choice of location for the ‘Big One’. It was beautifully developed and described, and I felt like I was there. This theme followed through in the subsequent plot twists. There are some good characters but all the major development is focused on Maxwell.

I would recommend this as a good adventurous read that is a bit different and has great pace. It doesn’t even matter if you’re not into history because the jokes are still funny and the story still exciting.

Unfortunately I had a couple of gripes, not enough to lose a star but they did irk me. Firstly, the title of the book is awful, I thought it was going to be about ‘The Damned’, i.e. the undead, it’s
definitely not about that and that was very confusing.Secondly, Taylor says that Maxwell is a historian, but speaking from experience, that team sound MUCH more like archaeologists, so by the end of the book I was thinking about them as archaeologists and it worked much better for me. Trust me, there is a difference…Lastly, I felt Maxwell as a character just needed a little more
smoothing out, she’s been through some serious trauma but still comes out with some major sarcasm and confidence. Perhaps in the next book the cracks will start to show.

I’ll definitely be interested in seeing what happens next at St Mary’s, I’ve got an idea of what is shaping up for their future but I’m sure Taylor’s story will be exciting and fun and I can’t wait to find out.

Today really has been – Just One Damned Thing After Another! @AccentPress

Hazel Cushion and Jodi TaylorHere I am in Sunny Wales – together with my publisher – the very lovely Hazel, who certainly knows the way to an author’s heart with good food, drink and excellent company. So far so good.

I’ve even met my editor – the delightful Bob – who soothed my nerves and assured me and editor’s job is not actually to change the plot, discard the end, alter the sex of the main protagonist, set the book in Hungary and write it in Swahili! A bit of a relief since I was expecting the worst.

Anyway, the day has progressed well, the staff are wonderful and made me so welcome. I’ve always been assured authors are bottom of the heap in the literary world and I was half expecting to find they’d locked the doors and were crawling about on the floor pretending they were out.