Thanks Life. Thanks Writing.

city-vs-country-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleKnow thy neighbour…

I’ve mentioned many times in my posts about my move to the country to pursue writing… but today it dawned on me – literally a ray of sun broke through the dappled clouds as I sat on the balcony with dinner (and a glass of champagne) staring at the coastline, feeling relaxed… I know all of my neighbours. We talk often. I even know the staff at the local stores I shop at regularly. And I can’t say that for the city I lived in for seven years prior to moving here.

What is it about crowds that allow us to disappear?

I even have long friendly chats with our Postie – she’s a lovely woman with a daughter just about to graduate high school and we joke over all manner of life’s predicaments.

When I stare out the window I always get some small surprise. Local wildlife putting on a show. Last week it was millions of white butterflies, this week all the rose bushes are starting to blossom in hues of ivory and pink.

I’ve always said I’m a city girl at heart, and I stick by it. I miss the shopping, outings to catch up with friends, choices for dining out… and wearing nice clothes – and heels! Okay now my girlie girl is starting to show. But living in the country has afforded me to follow my writing seriously, though, it hasn’t come without some sacrifice.

Writing is such a solitary endeavour. Sometimes when I look up from the computer monitor a whole week has gone by and I haven’t stepped outside the house. When inspiration takes over and your furiously typing time has a way or sneaking by.

So, in the theme of thanksgiving – even though it’s not something we celebrate in Australia – I’m thankful for the place I live in, and where I’m at in my life right now. No complications. Free to follow the grammatical muse. I appreciate my surroundings and acknowledge the inspiration it brings. And I LOVE that I get to do something fulfilling every day. Write.

It’s by no means altruistic or world changing, but it fills me up and pays me back tenfold.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Matched’ by Ally Condie

A fragile equilibrium is about to be tested…

matched-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 369

From Goodreads:

In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.


Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

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Every one of my friends who read ‘Matched‘ before me gave it different rating – so much so that I had no idea if I would like the book or not. I’m glad it turned out that way, because if I had high expectations, this book would have bombed big time. Going in tentative, this novel ended up being a solid okay read. Which is promising for the series if the writing and stakes are increased with each volume.

Matched‘ is understated and slow paced. I mean that in a positive light. It reflects the attitudes and landscape around our protagonist: carefully filtered to keep things in an artificial balance. It’s unrealistic and unsustainable; and we start to see cracks before the end of the novel.

But the main part of this story revolves around Cassia awakening to the thought that she wants choice. Choice of who she is matched to, choice of her vocation… and that line of thinking is dangerous to their society.

Her biggest dilemma is mixed feelings between two guys: Xander And Ky. I’m loath to call it a love triangle, because it isn’t, even though it falls into that category. It just narrowly escaped one of my all time despised YA tropes. Ky surprised me – I had him pegged as the bad guy, the rebel – but he is nothing like that. Just as Xander is not so much the golden boy he is made out to be.

The characters are rich and we take time to get to know them through Cassia’s perspective. It feels very organic as each of the cast grows and develops.

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I found myself wanting more fast paced action and for Cassia to stand up and challenge the system – but it’s an easy mistake to make – that would not have worked for this novel, or for Cassia. She hasn’t found her feet yet. But it left me excited for where the next two books in this trilogy.

Ally Condie’s writing style is effortless. She paints colourful backdrops with a breezy prose with you can get through quickly – which helps because of the slow pacing.

I was a little disappointed in the world building. There wasn’t enough information for me to get interested in Cassia’s plight. It was the relationship that drew me in. I’m hoping we get the origins, mythology, and reasons behind this dystopian world better explored in ‘Crossed‘ before I get too frustrated in the series.

I can’t say that the book was predictable, because there wasn’t enough resolution for me to sink my teeth into. I still have sooo many unanswered questions. And the last few chapters dropped so many teasers. I’m kind of thinking this isn’t a book I’ recommend unless your committed to the entire trilogy‎.

Overall feeling: It was okay.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Becoming a successful author

Today, it’s not just about writing a book, signing a publishing deal or self-publishing – you need to have a career path and a marketing plan as well.

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It’s not essential, but if you want to have longevity in the industry and earn decent financial recompense for the blood, sweat and tears you’ve invested in your novel, then pop on your thinking cap and start planning and brainstorming now.

If you approach any traditional publisher, they are going to want to know what your future plans are; and what you have already done to reach an audience for your completed manuscript. These days, traditional publishers don’t do a great deal of marketing for your novel either. Most of the time, the backing of their name on your spine opens doors to retail outlets and websites for copies of your brainchild. So yes, you get a wider reach to markets you wouldn’t otherwise get. And, let’s be real. The publisher re-coups all costs out of the proceeds of your sales over the length of your contract. On a side note, you need to be legal savvy in regards to the contract too – you could be losing out more than you think.

So while you reach a more global demographic and market, your return on investment will be much smaller. A publisher will not sign you on one book alone either. The need to see plans for future novels, or more in a series. It makes you a safer investment, a bigger cash cow. It’s more realistic to think about a 5 year, or even a 10 year plan. Know how long it takes you to knock off a book, have it edited and publish ready. Have multiple books already plotted out, and chapter samples for perusal. With such a competitive market, you need to give yourself the biggest possible chance.

All this is also true if you plan on self-publishing. If you want readers to invest in purchasing your novel, they need to know you are a writer of substance and sustainability. Tease them about the next novel coming soon. Hint that your first novel is the first in a series… You want to offer a promise to get them to return. And follow through! That’s why you have that massive plan for years into the future. Know your release dates and work to them. It adds to the buzz of your launches and sales if you can also get them excited about the next release. How many times have you finished a book and wish you could read the next in the series straight away? Cash in you your own hype.

Having this plan also lets you realistically work to deadlines and have a life outside of writing.

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Now for the marketing portion. You need to put a plan in place for how you are going to get the word out, how you are going to connect and engage with an audience. Hand in hand with this you’ll need a centralised place for people to go and find out about you (and your releases.) Be it a website, a facebook page, or another medium, make sure you have something. Update it regularly with whatever is your marketing shtick. Pictures, funny anecdotes, news on your writing progress, writing advice, video clips, top 10 lists, make it is as unique as you are. Because you are your brand.

Ensure the people who read your book also use the medium you are using. For instance, don’t use LinkedIn to promote your children’s book. A little bit of common sense and market research go a long way.

There is tons of advice on the internet on how to use social media and build your brand – it’s literally everywhere. You don’t have to do all of the different social media outlets either. Choose a few that you are comfortable with, that you can use easily, and stick to that.

Calendar out your posts, countdown to a book release, tease the story. Do it for every book you release. Engage with your audience. There is nothing more satisfying to a reader than sending an author of a novel you loved a message and getting a response.

You can also approach a marketing company for help it you aren’t that savvy. Yes it costs money, but marketing is one investment that yields returns. You spent all this time writing your book, don’t you want to give it the best possible chance of becoming a best-seller? Marketing companies can do what is called ambient PR, and they also have contacts within the media industry. That equates to stories in the paper, television appearances, invitations to exclusive events, booking signing tours. And that’s just the basic stuff – maybe you want to get creative. Promote your book by skydiving and releasing pamphlets and live stream it on YouTube… it’s only as limited as your imagination (and let’s face it, your funds.)

Creating all this hype is like putting money it the bank, it grows in interest. People talk, word gets out and you reach a wider audience. That in turn also drives revenue towards your next book release. Just don’t leave too big a gap between releases without any marketing activities. No-one likes dead air. All that hype you generated will be for naught. That’s by you need to plan it out. Lock in calendar dates and go for it.

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It would be nice to simply download a marketing plan from a website – but the reality of it is, you need to create one specific to your brand, product, and demographic. If you write YA, then you’re more likely to reach them on twitter and YouTube, at the cinemas, music festivals… Think of colour, vitality, and a great hook line; create something to grab their attention. Romance readers, probably use facebook and pinterest more, frequent coffee shops and boutique stores… I know I’m generalising, but it’s to give you an idea of where to start.

Take note of marketing campaigns that have caught your interest – can you adapt that idea for your gain?

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Creating a plan of books to be released, and a marketing plan to boot is an author’s business plan and feasibility study rolled into one. You’re taking steps to ensure your novel will sell, showing that you are a good investment, whether to readers, traditional publishers, or to yourself.

Give yourself the best possible chance for success, take some time and start plotting some ideas. Think big. You can always scale back.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.