Long Live the Digital Revolution! by Fiona McDroll Johnson

The interwebz is a strange and wonderful thing, where places like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to connect with people who share your interests and passions. One such person I was fortunate to meet this past year on Twitter is The Scottish Scribe, Fiona “McDroll” Johnson. At first I thought we merely shared a love of all things crime fiction, but came to realize McDroll was quite the budding author herself…if a bit reluctant initially to post her stories online. With much well deserved encouragement from her friends far and wide, however, before we knew it she’d gone from reluctant writer to author with three short story collections available! In addition to that, she helped organize, and contributed to, the wonderful anthology The Lost Children, all the proceeds of which benefit the children’s charities PROTECT (US) and Children 1st Scotland. It is truly my pleasure both to call McDroll (sorry, Fi, you’ll always be McDroll to me) a friend as well as to give her the keys to the joint for a guest post.

Fiona McDroll JohnsonAs we draw ever nearer to Christmas the battle of ‘Buy My Book’ on Twitter and ‘My Top 5 Reads of 2011’ on Facebook is hotting up nicely with constant reminders of all of the great, and occasionally not so brilliant, fiction that is out there in the digital marketplace.

If you are anything like me, you will have developed a worrying habit with ‘1-click’ buying over the past year and now dread to look at your monthly bank statement to actually discover how many 86p or 99 cent purchases you’ve actually made. Frightening!

I used to arrive home from my Saturday trawl through the second-hand bookstores and sneak 3 or 4 new titles onto my TBR pile beside my bed which, when it finally toppled over, would be redistributed around
the house so that my ever-growing compulsion for crime novels couldn’t be detected.

Now of course, life is very different as my purchases are made in secret as my darling little kindle, that I love so much, can hide a multitude of my sins which are even purchased when I’m in bed after midnight when they can silently, as if by magic, arrive to be added to the ever increasing list that never topples over.

I’m really hoping for an explosion in the Kindle market, this festive season, (other ereaders are available), not only because I would love more people to buy my darling books, but also I would love a much wider audience to be able to access a higher quality of new writing from brilliant contemporary writers than is currently generally available in paper format.

Walk into any of the chain store bookshops or look on supermarket shelves in the UK and you will see a wide collection of well known names. Great writers, yes, but do you really want to only read the blockbusters, the familiar?

I want to read challenging fiction from contemporary writers and I want other people to have easy access to the richness that is out there. If you check out the titles from two new digital publishers, Trestle Press and Blasted Heath, you will be spoiled for choice.

Trestle is giving a wide range of writers, including me, the chance to have their work published. Even a year ago many of these writers could only dream of this happening but here we are being given a wonderful opportunity to get our writing out there, cut our teeth and find out first hand about the challenges of finding readers.

Kick It by Fiona McDroll JohnsonBlasted Heath, on the other hand, has built a stable of writers with proven talent and hopefully, through the digital market, will bring these amazing writers to a new audience.

For a very new writer like myself, I’m still in kindergarten, it’s been incredibly exciting to get feedback on my writing. Everybody has been very kind and if they’ve not liked my stories then they’ve obviously kept quiet so as not to burst my bubble.

That’s not to say that rejection is to be avoided because the very best advice I got this year was from an editor who rejected one of my short stories. To his absolute credit, as the story was very flawed, he took the time to point out where I had gone wrong and outlined what I needed to do to improve my writing. Yes, the rejection did sting for a couple of minutes, but the gift of his kindness and experience was well worth any short-lived pain on my part.

This year has been amazing for me and the community of writers that are willing, strange but true, to associate with someone who not only lives in Scotland but lives in a part of Scotland that even Scottish people haven’t heard of, has been incredible.

Stories that I’ve sent to my digital friends for them to cast a discerning eye over have been returned within the hour from such far flung places as New Jersey, Utah or Texas. I’ve become somewhat of an expert in locating the states in the U.S., or at least much improved considering that a couple of years ago I thought West Virginia was on the West coast!

Good luck to everybody this Christmas who is trying their hardest to sell their book, and I hope you all find the readers that you deserve.

Long live the digital revolution!

Fiona Johnson, aka McDroll, is the author of the serialized crime novel The Wrong Delivery and the short story collections Kick It Together and Kick It With Conviction, a Scottish blend of drama, crime, noir and humour. She’s always loved reading and always wanted to write, thinking she’d do this after leaving university clutching her honours degree in English Lit. But you know how the story goes; she got a job in teaching, got married, had two kids, changed a lot of nappies. Working full-time as a head teacher with two young kids didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for writing. In 2001 her thyroid went haywire, taking ten years to return to normality. Staring 50 in the face, the dream of writing became a ‘now or never’ reality.
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  • nigel

    December 19, 2011 - 3:21 pm

    Very well put. I have my own itchy finger, but I will read most of my purchases in the end.

    I don’t see you as being in Kindergarten, though. If you are, you must be the smart kid colouring in between the lines, diplomatically sorting problems, reading books to friends and making huge dinosaurs and rockets from junk.

    I wish you well in your own pitching and hope I can help. I’ll help right now with a Tweet.

    Thanks and a very happy Christmas to you (which goest for Elizabeth and Sabrina as fellow commenters, too)


    • McDroll

      December 19, 2011 - 5:17 pm

      Nigel, without your support, I wouldn’t be the fun I’m having right now! xx


    December 19, 2011 - 10:09 am

    Wonderful post, Fiona! The hardest part about my one-click habit is the statement that comes in the mail each month. I’m having to put myself on a Kindle purchasing diet, I’m afraid. My Kindle is geting chunky, full of so much goodness it’s about to burst!

    You’re doing amazing, lady! If you keep up the writing… we’ll keep reading. =)

    • Elizabeth A. White

      December 19, 2011 - 3:05 pm

      That we will, Sabrina! Been a wonderful journey to watch you take this year, Fiona/Fi/F.G./McDroll 😉