Pull up a seat, I have news…

It’s been a while…

I aim to write weekly bog posts, but unlike Olympic and Paralympic archers, my aim is not always true. So, I’m sorry about that.

The truth be told, I’ve been having some down time. And thinking about where my writing journey will take me next. It has taken me to… a sequel to Anti-Virus. Which *cough cough* maybe, might, perhaps, is likely to become a trilogy. Put it this way, not only do I have the title for the sequel organised, I also have the title for the third book in the series. You know, thinking ahead.

It’s how I roll.

I can’t remember if I confessed this on here as well as over on my Instagram account, but I had been toying with the idea of a spin-off to Anti-Virus, so you didn’t have to read the first novel to read the second. A bit like those series on Sky Witness where they have crossovers, you know? However… a couple of lovely people who have read Anti-Virus (how many times can I write ‘Anti-Virus’ I wonder?) have wanted to know ‘what happens next’. To be fair, I did leave the ending open for that a little, just in case I had the drive to pick up the threads of the story and continue, although it was by no means a cliffhanger.

I have to say, by the time I’d finished the editing, I didn’t want to do this. I was kind of ‘done’. I was all ready to switch genres to my already drafted dark fantasy novel. But… those reader requests, the fact that Callie and Jak kept on bothering me to continue their story, plus some time and space away from their dark and dangerous world… it got me sucked back in to dystopia and the future of these strong, feisty women.

I seem to be addicted. I already have the first two chapters in the bag. Or rather, drafted in Scrivener. You get my drift.

What’s that you say? What’s the new title? You want to know?

This is the here and now. The future is ENDEMIC.

I can’t wait to keep you updated on where this next journey will take me, Callie Hannigan and Jak Hartwood. And some new characters, one of whom is… nope, I’m not sharing yet. You’ll have to wait!

Blood. Sweat. Tears.

Happy Unleashing Day!

If that has piqued your interest, then yay, I’m a better marketer than I thought!

Seriously though, today is launch day over on Amazon of my debut novel, Anti-Virus. I can’t quite believe it! I wrote an actual whole book that people in the world can buy and read. I also wrote a book that has had 5 star reviews on Goodreads! Writing a novel has been a dream of mine (sometimes buried for many years) since I was a little girl (my mum probably still has some of my handwritten stories in the Sideboard of Doom in the lounge). Just a few decades later and I have achieved!

Why blood, sweat and tears? Hmmm, well.

There was no actual blood let in the creation of my novel, but lots of red pen was used, that’s for sure. There comes a point when I need to use paper and print off my writing and read it in a different format. That’s where the bad things that have been hiding on screen tend to come into the light (and boy, were there some bad things!). So yes, red pen made a huge appearance at the editing stage (twice).

Sweat? Definitely. I began writing the germ of this novel years ago and then Life happened. I picked it up again pre-pandemic and finished the first full draft at the end of 2019. I was in edit mode and then doubt set in as the pandemic raged. It didn’t feel appropriate to write a dystopian fiction when dystopian fact was consuming the world. However – Anti-Virus isn’t really about a pandemic, not in the way your typical pandemic novels and films go. So I got over that a few months later and set to work. Sweating receded, and here we are.

Tears? For sure. Of frustration at first because I had wanted this novel to be worthy, to mean something, to honour my dad (I’ve written about that before). But then, as the saying goes, you should write the book you want to read. Using an imaginary force to push something that I wasn’t really feeling (and to be honest, I think it would have come across as a diatribe given the mindset I was in at the time) was a good way of stopping me in my tracks. So after that I got on with the novel that really wanted to be written, and Anti-Virus was born.

And so, here we are. It was hard work. It needed discipline, it needed attention, it needed focus. it was both harder and easier than I imagined it would be.

And it was so much fun.

And I’m going to do it again.

My name is Freya and I’m a write-aholic.

From my cold, dead hands…

No, there’s nothing to worry about!

In the ongoing delight (and I’m not being sarcastic!) of pre-novel-launch excitement, I received a small parcel of ACTUAL PAPERBACK COPIES of my novel this week. I mean they weren’t free or anything, I had to pay for them, so you know, it cost me money. But… here’s the thing. If I was publishing in the more generally understood usual way (otherwise known in the community as ‘trad publishing’ which makes me wince a little, why not use all the syllables?) there’s no such thing as a free lunch in that environment either.

Unless you get very, very lucky, via the traditional route you are still expected to market your own book, very heavily. Your advance is not going to be Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell stratospherically huge. And your royalties? Pfft. Let’s not talk about that. The average wage for a novelist is… small. Especially when you think of the hours and months and not unusually, years, that go into crafting a manuscript even before the author gets even close to the agent/publisher stage of the process. And then it’s a massive lottery. The author is hoping that an agent somewhere will like the manuscript well enough to take it on and market it out to publishers. And then the publishers have to be in the right frame of mind too. Fair enough, it’s business. But it depends on many, many ‘what ifs’. Traditional publishing is a tricky process. (I may yet try it one day though because why not?).

I’m not complaining. Nobody forced me to write and dream of being an author. It’s all my own fault! And nobody made me choose independent publishing either. I like control (anyone who knows me, knows that!). I like that I learn knew things. It keeps my brain ticking over. I went into this with my eyes wide open. And it’s been a wonderful fairground ride of fun and oohs and aahs. So. Many. Firsts.

Holding a physical copy of Anti-Virus in my hands, seeing the cover (and feeling it!) in all its glory, admiring the stellar job that has been made of the formatting inside, even the simple joy of the front matter (copyright, ISBN and so on) – these are the firsts of firsts. As one of my wonderful ARC readers wrote in her review on Goodreads (five stars, thank you so much!) ‘TO RULE THEM ALL’ (she used shouty uppercase too!).

So yes, if everything goes up in flames and I am nothing but a crispy corpse when all’s said and done, you’ll have to pry Anti-Virus from my cold dead hands. Once the burning embers have died down. Otherwise they won’t be cold at all…