Vicky is back to talk about her fowl murder series. She started writing at the beginning of the pandemic and is up to book 6 in her series. We discuss what it’s like to go from book 1 to 6 in a series and how her writing has changed.
Previous Episode: https://www.discoveredwordsmiths.com/2020/10/05/episode-20-victoria-tait-fowl-murder/
Today on episode 93 of discovered word Smiths. I have Vicky Tate. She has been on before, earlier in the podcast run. And she’s back to give us an update on her books. When we first talked to her, she had just written. Book, one of her series set in Afra Africa called a foul murder, F O U L. And she’s back now with her sixth book and we have a good discussion on what it’s been like writing a series in the, the COVID pandemic world, writing about a country she’s not living in at the moment and everything about going from one book up to say, So, if you’re interested in writing a series and wondering what it’s like to have multiple books in a series out, this’ll be a good podcast for you to listen to.
So take it away. Vicky Vicky officially welcome to discovered wordsmiths your second time on the podcast. I’m very excited to talk to you and we see each other this time and we didn’t before last time. It was clear back on episode 20. That was like a year ago. It’s really good. So you’re welcome. Thanks.
Thanks for having
me back and wow. What a year it’s been. I remember when we spoke, I was, yeah, it was back in Oregon, 2020 and the, in the UK, we thought things were getting better and we were all going to moving out of this and then, oh my goodness. What a year is been with more homeschooling and lots of traveling with Georgia and COVID and all the rest of it.
Uh, I think we all just need a pat on the back actually for getting through it and doing what we can, but I know you’ve been really busy this year.
Yeah. The podcast has been doing a lot. I’ve done a lot with my writing. And how about you? Have you been getting more writing in?
I have. And I followed you on now.
The dialogue doctor podcast went in and deaf and did some stuff with him on characterization and dialogue, which is just brilliant. Cause I love sort of. Dialogue first drafts when I really get into the groove and then go back and add in all the other details. And I think you were just ahead of beyond that one.
be great. Let’s talk about that a second, because I know Jeff I’ve met him. We’ve been at a conference together and I’ve done a couple of things and he’s got a great concept. So for real quick, for everybody, listen. Jeff works with a company that creates training videos and uses AI. And he writes dialogue that then gets spoken by characters or whatever.
And so he’s got a right realistic dialogue for this feedback. And a lot of this is using the AI and some of the new technologies so that the characters react. What. So what Jeff offers for authors is a dialogue overview. He doesn’t look at the development of the story too much. He doesn’t look at it. He looks at the dialogue, how that affects the overall and your character.
So how was your experience with him? What did.
It was brilliant. So I get a bit carried away with all my characters and I do these huge scenes where I love lots of movement and lots of people. So I had a scene where the about five or six different characters. And so he was really helping me get the voice for each character different, with a different mannerism.
Is that they had, so it really going back what makes them tick? So, so it might be very touchy, feely, someone who’s anxious might fiddle with things. Somebody might sit back and be quite quiet and then just say something really poignant. And that really gives depth to the writing. And that really helped. I did from that.
And then I listened to Jeff’s podcasts as well is when I’ve started my new series. I started my character’s first. So I developed my characters and I had another session with Jeff. I was learning some more about sort of shadow character. So hyper tagging, who has a particular issue, particular backstory, and then having other characters who shadow that in a way, in a good way, in a bad way.
So again, you can break more that the story now I haven’t necessarily stopped to it as you as a right food, but it’s always there in my mind. And I think, and that has helped me. So yes, I started character first in, in, in the new series and taken on board. What jester.
Nice. Good. I’m glad that helped you out.
And there you go. I’ll tell Jeff we’re pushing his service in podcasts. We’ll just hit them up for the kickbacks next time. So last time we talked about a film, which was a unique little cozy mystery type books in Africa, Kenya. Okay. So you just mentioned a new series. So tell us about what you’ve worked on since last year.
So we I’m at the moment, I’m just about to launch the sixth book in that cozy series based in Kenya. So by the time this comes out, that will have launched. So I’ve gotten very well. So I launched a farm murder back in August last year, and then I’ve kept on writing and yes. So this is the sixth in that series and it’s gone well, and I’ve got a core group of readers.
Who really like Africa and what I’m doing, but I realized that for them to hit the mainstream cozy market, I need to have a setting, which is a little bit closer to, I don’t know anything about America. I lived in the UK, so I’ve my new series is going to be set in the UK. So, what I’ve tried to do is take what I’ve learned from the last series and try to, and I’m trying to build it into my next series, which I’ve read in the, a, a small prologue that meet a magnet.
And now I’m into book one, which I’m writing during NaNoWriMo Suski can be going,
oh, nice. Oh, there’s a lot there. So I love that because we hear a lot about what Chris Fox says to market and shiny John and Dave, I think, talk about that, right. Uh, rapidly and what people want. And I think some people misunderstand right to market.
They take it as you find out what’s popular and hot and you write something for that and get it out. But that’s not really what it means. It’s what you’ve been learning that he wrote some great books set Kenya. Because of the setting, not as many people were gravitating towards it, but they gravitate more towards your type of book set in England or whatever.
So you are writing to market, but you’re not. Doing it like, oh, what’s hot. It’s what the people in your genre want to read and you’re giving that to them. So what are some other things you found that people like and you’re changing or do
like the characterization, which we’ve already talked about?
Although I can get a little bit serious about it. So I go back and I’m trying to do more. Um, and I’m trying to give a lot of my characters that are comedy element. And so that they’ve got little texts, one knock things over one, one is a doctor who goes around and cycle here because he believes that what’s good for the heart is good for the mind and better for his patient.
And, and also because I write a lot of characters it’s to differentiate each one, because I know that my readers in one particular book, a little confused who they were. So I thought, okay, so that is why. And it’s not necessarily what a character looks like. It’s what a character is, how it goes back to what Jess does is it says really it is how that character speaks and an app that trays.
And so again, I suppose it’s in story and it’s difficult, isn’t it? Because you do try and write to market and all the things you should be doing, but when you’re sitting at the desk on your own. What comes out of your brain and you put on the paper is your, I suppose, it’s your voice. And that’s what people call it.
Isn’t it, it’s your voice. And my voice isn’t is different from everybody else’s and it might not be what everybody wants at the moment. And that is one reason why I go back and I just try. Tweak things ever so slightly just to try and make it me a little bit more humorous or to add a little bit extra to the diet, but I’m not a great one for going back and doing a huge edit.
So I’m very clean. So I will go back. So today I wrote my words, I went back home twice and tie-dyed it up. And then that will be it. And I won’t go back in it until I finished the whole thing and I’m reading through it. Yeah.
Nice. And what you’re saying also is another important lesson is you got to write your own boys and discovered that.
But to do that, you have to write a lot. I know a lot of people have that. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the success, mind book, like Stephen King or J K Rowling. Oh, I want a book out. I’m going to be big and famous, but it seems the more I talk to authors, the more I see what’s going on, you just keep writing and every book work on improving and making it better and what people want.
And that’s how you get long-term success for the most part. Yeah. You always have. Outlier.
Absolutely. But then you often find that the people who are the outliers, you don’t know what they’ve done before under the, under a different name or as a journalist or as a ghost writer. So much behind people that they’ve done so much more.
They talk about these authors. I’ve heard about traditional authors. Who’ve been called an overnight success in 15 years. Because the first book that gets published is not the necessarily the first book that they’ve read, a lot of traditional authors have had to go. And they, they fell to their first secondary whatever number of books.
And so there may be got their six book accepted. And, but that is the decision of an editor and a publishing house. And whether that should be public. The joy we have as indie authors is that yeah, we have to put ourselves out there. We put our books out there, but it is our readers who made that decision.
So we don’t have the gatekeepers. We have the readers who can tell us and give us a feedback on what we’re writing. And I think that is very important. And I’ve learned a huge amount. So recently I have gone back and rewritten bits of my first book called murder. And I’ve not done. I’ve not changed the plot or anything else like that, but I’ve just gone through and edited some of the style.
And I’ve realized that when I first wrote it, I don’t have a, an ma or anything in English or an event. I just have a GCSE. But I still was trying to do what my teachers are telling my boys they should be doing at school now. And it’s not. So I’ve relaxed a lot more and trying to tell the story, and I’m not worried about similes and metaphors and what all of those needs, but just tell a good story.
And so I relaxed and cleared up my writing and made it flow a bit easier, but it was interesting. So I wrote my first book and I don’t know, eight or nine months, but two years later I’ve gone back and done it. And because it’s the theory stuff. And because again, as indie authors, our books are there and we can keep promoting them for as long as we are.
I think that’s important. So I’ve written six books in a series that law allows me to. Two three book box sets one six books, books that so although this will be my last lease for a while this year, next year I will keep releasing. And I now need to find specific readers who liked that book, those type of books.
And I can try different tactics. To T to market to them while moving forward with another sale, I
brain froze those listened to what you were saying. I hate when that happens, that you said you did some editing on your first book. And I think that’s an interesting something that you can do nowadays. For example, the video games, which I play, and I’m doing some things with videos, stories, when they come out, there’s what they call a first day, one patch, and a lot of video games get a day, one patch because.
Uh, are ready to produce the desk. It’s four or five months ahead of time. So that’s four or five months that the developers are still working on fixing, adjusting, changing. And when the dis comes out, they still have a digital patch to download. What I’m getting at is with today’s market, where mostly it seems to be eBooks, especially during COVID that you can go back to a book you wrote three years ago and say, I need the fix this.
I need the. For good or bad. I science isn’t evil. It’s not necessarily good. It’s how you use it. Same with this. I can see people changing their books forever and ever, and people are like, I’m not going to read this again. And he’s changed it 10 times and that might turn them off. But if somebody is just now getting your book, they’ve got the best version of it.
It’s almost like the director’s cut.
Yeah, exactly. It’s cause it’s your, I put, I bought very little marketing and emphasizing I do it is to that book one. It is my workhorse. And so that now needs to reflect where my writing is. But going back to your point before about right writing loss. I wouldn’t have been able to make those changes to that first book.
If I had not written the subsequent books and learned what I’d done there. And I think you right, as you were saying, they want the first book to be perfect because there’s often the book of their heart and they spend a lot of time. They’ve paid months, maybe years writing that book. It’s a real thing.
And it’s great. It’s fantastic because it is a real achievement to do to complete the first. But the writing does tend to improve as you go forward and you find your voice and you work out the mistakes and you learn the craft just as you would do in any
business. And you mentioned marketing, what are you doing to market?
I concentrate mostly on my mailing list. So I had right at the beginning, I had an Avella and then I decided I actually wanted to write the novella again into my main series. So my first book far murder is now given away free for mailing list subscribers. And then it’s, but what I also do is say, so for instance, now I’m only, I’m launching books six, so I’m not going to spend a fortune on it.
I’m doing, I think actually probably only one promotion site, but that site is to follow murder and it’s to file murder as an EA, as a free download. The mailing list. The thing is it still gets my whole series seen and people who don’t want to download it will actually go and buy it. Cause it’s only 99 cents on the store.
And so I get an increase in sales as well. And for me, I liked that I would prefer, I think I do. Yeah. I prefer to have people on my mailing list and I do have people buying my book in a way, because they’re in the ecosystem. And then after the longer-term and I’ve got a chance to get to know them, they get to know me and then the relationship builds.
And then hopefully as I write more books, they will know me and trust me and buy more
from me. I think what you just said is very important. I hear that from a lot of authors and that’s why the Permafree is what’s used because, oh, okay. I sold a book and I got 70 cents from. Or I can give it to them, get them on my mailing list and then they buy four or five more books this year and you may 10 $20 each person.
So that’s another great strategy. How did you get people on your mailing list? Just putting the book out there and asking them to sign up, to give the book, or were there other ways.
When I very first started in May, 2020 when I put my novella out that I did, I’d been doing mark Dawson’s 1 0 1 course. And so I did learn a bit about doing Facebook ads and I ran some Facebook ads to that, to the giveaway.
And it was brilliant because nobody else weren’t doing Facebook ads. So it was actually really cheap. And that was fantastic because I got some friends, some really good initial readers who are now like, I call them my aunties who were on my advanced reader team and my. Facebook Redis group and they helped me and they give me suggestions.
So that was fantastic. I then joined BookFunnel and I did story origin at one stage. And did the group promotions where you in your, in your, in my mailing list, I promote the giveaway or whatever it is to my readers. Others in the giveaway will promote. W we’ll also do that. And the idea is that readers can look at other authors or books and join their mailing lists and it grows the whole ecosystem.
So I think I really need to start reaching out and get some sponsorship and we just we’re pushing Jeff Elkins and his dialogue doctor. You mentioned Mark Dawson and that self-publishing. So I, I think I need some sponsors on here. Jeez. I mentioned Jay, the authors best mastermind. Just about every episode.
Come on, guys. Everybody’s talking about you, which they probably do.
You’re doing the podcast for nothing and Jonathan and and Mark Dawson. They’re also doing podcasts. And do you want a pen who is how I first started? That we we’ve learned from them. I certainly learnt a huge amounts from them and the free content, which they have put out there.
And isn’t that great. In the end, isn’t in the indie author world, isn’t there. One thing I’ve learned is all these fantastic people who are there to help. Um, not so much a competition. Somebody can meet all my books, but that’s not going to last very long. So they’re going to want to meet someone else’s book.
So it’s a health mentality rather than a fear mentality of oh, competition.
And it’s, I find that humorous, cause you’ve mentioned several things you’ve learned, which are all things I’ve heard that say other places or similar things. And yet we all still go and buy the courses. We still buy the books.
That’s one of my jokes. If you just bought your 22nd. Craft book on writing this month and you haven’t read the other 21, you might be a writer. You know what we do? I pull out and pulled out a book. I said, when did I get this book? I don’t even remember. And I haven’t read it. So I just find the podcast.
Everybody you mentioned, we listened to there’s so much information. You can get everything you need pretty much from writing it. Most of those aren’t so much focused on craft, but then you’ve got like KM Weiland who does a lot of craft stuff. So you can get a little of everything just with three podcasts.
It’s a great, it’s a great starting point. I mean, and then budgeting and things is something I’ve had to really come to terms with. And. Trying to find that information and where you can get it. Inexpensively is very important and not spending a fortune on the very expensive courses, which you then forget to take
Why did you want to do that after all this time? And how’s it going?
So NaNoWriMo in case anyone doesn’t know, but most authors probably do is national or in my case, international novel writing month. And it was how I got my first book really. Um, not completed, but to that stage where I then FreeWheel to the end.
And it’s just, it’s a really good month of focusing on, right. I’ve got lots of other things going on at the moment, but you go into your screen on the, um, the, the NaNoWriMo website and everyday you update your word count and it makes, uh, makes you accountable. There’s lots of software to do it. I’m quite a focused person.
I don’t necessarily need to do it, but it still, it just helps it reboots and sets me on calls. And it’s part of. It’s supporting an initiative, which is helping writers or the Thai community, right? Yeah.
I think a lot of writers look forward to it and jump into it. I know a couple in the mastermind group.
They are using NaNoWriMo just to get a first draft of their next story done, push myself, get it done. And what a lot of people I hear, they found that just getting that first draft done and then worrying about editing or fixing it afterwards is more important than trying to make it perfect as you’re writing.
So what’s your typical writing? You said you write, do a little bit, but then you re-edit the whole book. Is that what you’ve always done or have you found. Changed
from what you did in a way. Every book changes. Every book I do little bit differently does, does start in my first book I wrote and got completely stopped and wrote a bit more and got stuck and went on a course and then got some help.
And then they got an editor who helped me and got through to the end of it. Actually, my second book was probably the easiest I’m want to probably one of the best books I’ve written. And I just, I cracked that out in six weeks, but just before the pandemic last year, I don’t know why I just got story. I got into it and I just got into grief and I.
But now what I, yeah. What I tend to do. So I was very, I’m a very organized person, so I thought I would be a real plot and I’ve had to, and I know Jay thought, I think he’s talked about this is becoming more of a discovery writer and less hotter as you go on and allowing things to flow a little bit more, being a bit more discovery, right?
I will probably I’ll have an idea. This minor murders I’ll have an idea who gets murdered and why. And then I try and have some suspects because if I don’t have some suspects, I start to wander all over the place. So I’ll have some suspects and I will spend a maximum of a week in, in, in plotting and research phase.
And then I get on with it because otherwise I’ve got tendency to keep going in the, the research stage and not. And then once I start writing, then I can look and I’ll start researching, but I know a lot of people, they just go out and that’s it. They just do it. And they do their entire first, first draft.
And then they come back and they spend a lot of time. I don’t, I tend to write, and then I’m doing a challenge with Dean Wesley Smith at the moment. I’m writing a novel every two months. And so his, and he talks about, and I just read his into the dark where he’s very much about smart plotting, but he goes back and he cycles back and I think that’s what I do.
So I write and then I’ll cycle back, particularly as I’m quite dyslexic. And my spellcheck is complete nonsense. So if I don’t go back and check my words, I won’t be able to understand what I’ve written. So I will cycle back and probably I might chapter half chapter, go back, check it through, keep on going.
And then at the end of the day, or if I don’t, if I’m just too tired, the next day I will have that chapter. And yet further on in the book, I might need to drop her a clue back in so I can go back and do that. But yeah, and I suppose I’m what is different this time is that I know that I need to add those.
Suppose the cherries on the top that go back in and just check some of my voices, my more comedy character voices I’ll need to go back and get in more into their head. And my little bit more extreme. I think that’s what it is. It’s probably cause it’s probably going on lot. And I just need to add some, pull it about a bit to add some funny elements, some extreme elements, make it a little bit more entertaining.
I think what you said about the groove, the flow is important and the mindset. I think sometimes we get in our own heads too much. Get nervous. I want everything to be perfect or whatever it happens to be. Cause I know the first weekend where I said, you know what, I got this book, I’m going to write. I sat down, didn’t have my kids for the weekend.
And my goal was just to write that weekend. And I started Friday night and by Sunday afternoon I had over 15,000 words just flew right through it. And since then, I’ve never been able to do that again because. Mindset wise in my head, I’ve got no one’s going like this, all this isn’t that good. And whatever it all has to be that we all do in our own heads.
But those times when I can just tune everything out, forget about it and just flow. Those are always the best writing. It’s one of those things I think we all got to work on and let go a little bit. Sometimes we get too down on ourselves, I guess you could say. Um, to, uh, strict about what we’re doing. Just let it go.
Absolutely. And that’s when I become more, more dialogue focused and I heard someone recently said it’s like talking heads, but I think it is, I’m quite slow to start with when I get going, because I don’t have a feel for my characters. I can’t, I don’t, I can’t feel their actions, what that, how they are, how they would react to something.
But once I’m inside that head, And I can do that, then I can start to see him. So I suddenly speeded up. So for me, I wrote two and a half thousand words today. She’s quite a lot for me to write in one day I quite a stump. I am quite slow writer, but that, yeah, that came quite quickly because I knew the scene and it was very much interaction.
And so it became much quicker. And then I did go back when I went back early this afternoon, it was adding in those actions. Cause I also liked my seems to be people doing things. I’m not just sitting there having a drinking
coffee. Is it the same characters throughout, or is each one a separate characters?
Just how are they connected? I guess.
So the first theories were the main character. So the first series had an elderly protagonist, and then she had quite a number of sidekicks who came in and out and helped her in different ways. And in that one, I actually had, I had a couple of other POV voices from a couple of these younger characters who had, because she wasn’t always there and able to see.
In this series, you mentioned KM Weiland, and she’s dumps again. Here we go, promotion. But, um, she has done some amazing, um, podcast this year about character, character types. Yeah. The heroes and the heroes are, but then who were the people who go with it and the major and their king and all those things, she’s quite quietly my mind.
So I did a lot of work on that. And so each of my books now, so my first, my, my initial book that was going to be the reader magnet that is based on a heritage. And so that, that gives me a bit of structure. And then this book is based on the first part of the hero’s journey, although it’s a female protagonist because that doesn’t matter.
And she has to she’s, it’s the call to action that she is to leave her old, but is she leaving her old life and how she does that? I’m structuring that. And I hope I learned by learning all these graph things and putting them in, it makes my writing deeper. If
you’re working on improving and you’re continuing to write, that seems to be.
Perfect combination. Don’t worry so much about what you did. What’s wrong with it. Just take what you learned and move on. That seems to be the theme here today.
Yes. Yes. And I think, yeah, I think that’s right. And I know Dean Wesley Smith would very much say that is get on, write the next book. And also if you’re like me and you’ve got a limited budget, you want me to go back to the, back to the marketing?
Of course, if you, every time, if I released a bobbing, leasing a book every three months, that is great. And so I can start to see just now I can start to see my sales dip off and then dip, and then they will start, they were rising. This weekend and keep going. And then I just do some Amazon ads to keep that ticket ticking over and one or two promos.
And then I keep going until the next book release. And I guess that’s why people do rapid release because each book is the best way to market your last
book. It’s been really great catching up with you and finding out what’s been going on. I’m glad to hear you’re still writing and it seems to be going well before we go.
I’ve already given tons of advice. What you’ve been doing the last couple of years, but do you have any advice for new reader or new writers that we haven’t talked about?
Absolutely knows so much so that I’m actually a little bit like you venturing out and I’m going to be doing more on the non-fiction and helping write aside. I’m just setting up a website, shoestring publishing to. How writers get started. And also those writers who like me are going along and wanting to produce more and finding that the costs are greater than the sales, but once you keep product going, and then I know an ideas on how to introduce or buy covers, like pre-made covers, or I think Jay thought, in fact, Jay was one of Jay’s hundred covers, I think, is it.
It was one of his, one of his recommend cover recommendations that she produced my non-fiction book cover, and I’m going to do a series of blogs and then eventually a book on all those, but all the bits and pieces to help people get published to start with, because you can write about. But it’s not so easy to then know how do I go from writing a book to publishing a book and all the steps to go through and without spending the monthly grocery bill or getting into huge amounts of that,
send me a link about that.
We’ll include that for anyone interested, right? Thank
you very much. And good luck with all your ventures and, and sometime I think you’ll need to do tell us all about your work you’re doing with J D Barker, because I’m really fascinated about
that. Maybe I’ll talk a little bit about that. We actually did it for several months, but we’re not doing any more.
He’s cutting out a lot of his mentoring, but I did get to meet him at the career out there. September J thorn and Zack, but J D was there. If nothing else, I got to sit and have breakfast two days in a row with a USA today, bestseller. So just that alone, you can’t complain, but yeah, maybe I’ll and I was thinking of doing an update on what I’ve been after some of these, but I’ve had so many interviews, so many second interviews in a few other things that.
I don’t know when that’ll come out. I’ve got quite a few in the queue right now. So it’s a good thing.
Maybe a yearly catch up or cover or something I do ask the end. They do that all the beginning of the new year, but yeah, quite good. This space in December to do this is everything.
Out of the order bonus up, but that sounds a little egotistical. The bonus episode is all about me.
Okay. Oh yeah. The light, not everybody else had been you’re learning and, and you’ve learned so much from all the different authors and you’ve had on the podcast and as well as,
yeah, there’s a lot of info over the last year and a half or something.
Yeah. Whole lot. All right. Well, Vicki, it’s been great talking. I appreciate it. As you have a wonderful day and good luck with.
Thank you very much and good luck with your pockets and well-done to you because there’s not many podcasts keep going for this long. And that’s true.
I mean, I’ve, by the time everything I’ve got already scheduled is going to be almost episode 100 and wow.
Last year that’s when you do your catch from episode
one, uh, talk to a publicist. Who’s going to be on the podcast and we’re working out a schedule for two or three interviews a month just for me. So between that, if I get from J thorn and James L Rubar, he’s got his training academy in Washington. I get some people from there.
Just from that. I started off go into net. And looking for all the books released in. Oh, that looks interesting. And I’d reach out to authors. That’s probably, I think how I got ahold of you. Yes. You know, I have any,
and I haven’t even done that because I’ve had people contacting me so. Perfect. I love that. That’s what, that’s the whole idea. It feeds on itself. It helps everybody. Yeah. Brilliant. Well done. Thank you. I appreciate. All right.
Thank you very much. It’s been great chatting to you again.