Any tips for Indie Authors?

For some years now I have been writing short stories, most of which have been published or broadcast, or both. The stories are grim, some verging on the macabre, others dealing with strange marital relationships, but there is black humour here too, and the odd flash of joy.

At some stage last year I realised that the sea was a feature in most of the stories and that with a lot of work I could link them together and give cohesion to a book. I enjoyed reworking the stories so that a character with a small part in one would become the main character in the following one. It isn’t quite as linear as that – any character could turn up anywhere. The book is called “We All Die in the End”, subtitled “Scenes From a Small Town”. Here are a few quotes:

I should have clocked her one but that’s not the way I work. She spun over onto her side and her knees came up and her head went down. She was like a spider, rolling itself up when you touch it and not a sound out of her – waiting for me to go asleep; my eyes were heavy all right. I pushed her a bit more and she curled up even tighter.

   “What ails you?” I growled at her.

Sadie lay without moving, afraid to move in case her body broke up and fell to pieces. She knew she must have bled and the blood would be mixed up with what came out of him and it was all down there messing the sheet. So that’s it, she said to herself, that’s it. She smelled a new, hot smell and turned her head to one side, tears running into her ear. 

I had to practically tear Jennifer’s hand off my arm and promise to have tea the next time and all that and, by God, I needed a smoke to restore myself. I was a bit disappointed the baby wasn’t dead, being usually right as I am. A girl to mind the baby indeed! It makes no sense at all but I imagined her as Dutch, long yellow plaits and a big skirt. I’m a little Dutch girl, she’d sing to the baby and when it was asleep, Lydia’s husband would go up and stand behind her and undo the plaits.

I have tried very hard to find a publisher, or an agent, but I find it impossible. Short stories, linked or not, are neither popular nor profitable (unless you’re famous) so I published it myself on Amazon Kindle. Now it’s time to promote the book, get reviews and make some sales – a full-time job! There are several excerpts from the stories here on WordPress if anyone would like to take a look. Any tips from other Indie Authors would be appreciated.

        amazon.com/author/elizabethmerry

“Wee Sadie” an excerpt from – We All Die in the End

Sadie checked the plates, shifting bits of cheese and cherry tomatoes. She ate a crust of the bread and put the kettle on and then she stood with her ear to the door.

            “It’s a grand, wee flat above the shop,” George was saying.

            Sadie squeezed her eyes shut and held her breath. Madge was asking how many rooms there were. The kettle hissed behind her and she turned down the gas to hear better.

            “And I’d expect a bit of meat, you know, and maybe a drive on a Sunday. You can have that oul car, parked out there, teach Sadie to drive it.”

            Sadie raised the gas again. Her hands trembled as she filled the teapot. Calm, she told herself, be calm. But the tray shook when she took in the tea and she couldn’t look at either one of them. The knives and forks clattered and the teaspoons rattled and Sadie couldn’t swallow.

            “Have some more bread,” Madge said. “Fill the man’s cup there, Sadie. More cake, George?”

            George ate everything he was offered and kept saying everything was lovely and when the last cup of tea had been drained he asked Sadie to come and look at the flat above the shop with him.

            “Ah no, George,” she said, and backed towards the kitchen. “There’s too much to do – “

            “Go on,” Madge said. “Off you go. Can’t I tidy up? I’m not helpless, am I? Us old people are useful too, isn’t that right, George?”

            George agreed with her and offered Sadie his arm. She went with him although she knew the dishes would be sitting waiting for her when she came home and Madge would have had another couple of gins and she`d still have to make her a fry too.

            George put the key in the hall door beside the shop and stood back to let Sadie in first.

            “It’s up the stairs,” he said.

            There was a strange smell, the smell of somebody else’s house. Sadie held the banister and then let go of its stickiness. It would take her a month to clean the place, she thought. She stood in the middle of the living-room and looked at the fawn-coloured floor and the fawn-coloured chairs and walls and the photographs of George’s family.

            “Will you sit down, Sadie,” George asked.

            Sadie looked at the couch before she sat on it and George sat down close beside her.

            “Could you live here, Sadie? With me? What do you say? Will we set a date?”

            Sadie couldn’t speak. She hardly knew how she had got herself into this position. She remembered the first night when George had asked her to go for a walk, and after that it had seemed impossible to stop. And she didn’t want to stop really . . . only . . .

            She clasped her hands together and nodded once. And then George leaned over and kissed her hard and his hand clamped onto her leg. Sadie let out a squeak and got up, pretending to look  at the photographs. George laughed and slapped his two knees.

            “You’re the very best,” he said, “you’re a great, wee girl. Look around, Sadie. You can do what you like with the place, make whatever changes you like. I`ve done a lot of work already, replaced all the tiling myself, so I did.”

            He got up and led the way to the white bathroom. Sadie stood inside the door and looked at the new electric shower. There was a smell of plaster. George patted everything, the bath, the shiny taps, the cistern, the shelf beneath the mirror.

            Sadie put a hand to her forehead. Impossible to think of being here with him, to stand here in her nightdress and clean her teeth and George in his pyjamas – waiting for her to get into the bed – no! no! She wanted to go home, to tell George she had changed her mind, but he had his arm around her, squeezing her shoulder, saying he’d look after her, and her mother.

amazon.com/author/elizabethmerry

From Scene 19: Eugene Curran “We All Die in the End”

The fire is nearly out and I’m getting cold. Drinking this brandy is doing me no good now; I could drink two bottles of it and still be sober. It’s Sunday night again – a whole week since I went to bed in peace. I don’t like Sundays – dead days I call them.

            I remember I nearly fell that night when I was taking off my trousers but I managed to get myself undressed. The curtains were shut tight and I pulled them open – like sleeping in a godamn tomb with them closed like that. I`ve told her and told her. Sometimes I think she does it on purpose.

            It was a calm, quiet night with a bit of a moon and not a sinner about in the street. I stood there looking out the window with not a worry in my head and then I turned to the bed. She was well buried in it and I knew I’d had a bit too much to drink, but a man has to have his bits and pieces and I was going to have my rights anyway.

            I footered about with the rubber for a minute and when it was on I wheaked up her night-dress and laid into her. She was holding her breath with her face turned away, holding herself tight and still. I laid in good and heavy and when I was finished I rolled off and gave her a good push. She deserved it, I thought, lying there like that as if I was a stranger. I should have clocked her one but that’s not the way I work. She spun over onto her side and her knees came up and her head went down. She was like a spider, rolling itself up when you touch it and not a sound out of her – waiting for me to go asleep; my eyes were heavy all right. I pushed her a bit more and she curled up even tighter.

            “What ails you?” I growled at her.

            The bit of a moon was shining in and she was white as a ghost in the bed. I could see she was shaking.

            “Sshhh …the child,” she whispered, pointing to the wall.

            Child, my arse. A big lump of a fifteen year old sleeping his bloody head off. She was more worried about the neighbours, don’t I know what she’s like? All sweet and good morning, missus. She’d die if they heard anything. However I was too tired to go on with it so I lay down again.

            I didn’t feel too bad the next morning, considering . . . There wasn’t much light in the room and the windows were streaming with rain. I thought I’d heard the lifeboat in the middle of the night but maybe I’d only dreamt that.

            There she was, moving about quietly, stooped over as usual. She always stoops – she sort of drops at the knees and pokes her head forward like a hen. It’s because she’s taller than me. I hoped she wasn’t sulking. Sometimes she gets in a huff over the drink and there’s no breakfast until I raise my voice.

            When she left the room I stretched myself and had a good scratch and went to the bathroom. What has she to complain about? Hasn’t she the biggest house in the whole county and only young Pat to look after besides myself? She says he’s getting stroppy but sure the lad is a teenager; a fine lad too, handsome, and broad for his age. He’ll be like myself one of these days, a brave, fine-looking man. Of course I’m getting a bit heavier now about the neck and shoulders but I can carry that. She’ll have to learn to cope with him and not be whinging to me.

            I was moving stuff around in the cabinet, looking for a new blade, when I came across a packet of hair-dye. I took it out and shook it. Notions, I thought. At her age! I nearly laughed, and then I sniffed the air, hoping for rashers.

            Pat was down before me with a plateful in front of him, eyes glued to his phone as usual.

            “That’s the boy,” I said. “Plenty of grub.”

            He flicked his eyes at me, not a word out of him. My breakfast landed on the table and I rubbed my hands together.

            “Yum, yum,” I said, just to see the reaction.

            She moved away sharpish and didn’t speak. She was eating toast at the work top, her shoulders hunched and the spikes of hair sticking up. I took a gander at the head on her; I suppose you could say she was blonde now. Nobody was going to speak only myself by the looks of it. Well, feck the pair of them. It was a good breakfast, best thing after a feed of drink, a good Ulster fry in the morning.