Thursday, December 22, 2016

Four days to Christmas

The twelve days to Christmas are now down to four. No need to ask what everyone is doing. Joining in the last mad dash to the shops to buy, buy buy! . Today I was fooled into thinking I would have a quick 'n easy entry and exit to the Shopping Centre when the road leading to it was not chock-a-block with cars until  I saw further along the packed slope vehicles bumper to bumper. Got a vacant space after circling the carpark three times.All that effort in search of the fresh sprouts reported to be in short supply  this year when personal greed took over and I rode the lift to the ground floor in search of delicious bars of gluten-free  marzipan chocolate.

In the line of cars people were making use of the enforced wait absorbed in their Ipads. As a writer of novels and short stories I like to thinkof them as potential customers and with a wave of my magic wand boldly display my wares on their windscreens in coloured lights. Would that I could and see their looks of shocked delight as they viewed the covers of my books and maybe peeked inside 'The Mask'  to read the opening lines of the prizewinning story Menomadness whose ageing heroine built on Rubenesque lines became enthralled by her own own buxom body. Or the sad old lady with the failing memory trying in vain to recall her son's parting words at their last meeting only hazily recalling his vague promise to pick her up from the Old People's Home on Christmas Day and when he is running late forlornly wonders if it could have been, 'If we don't see you for Christmas we'll be sure to have you out for the New Year.'

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas is coming.

My favourite occupation at Christmas before marriage and family-raising took priority was reading.   In those earlier festive times my list was made up of fiction, it was only later biography caught hold. One memorable Christmas I read about the Bronte sisters and was soon enjoyably lost in 'The Path to the Silent Country'. Gripping stuff, impossible to put it down. All that talent, passion and frail health.

Undoubtedly, books written about people, especially about authors, can be fascinating. Maybe that's why so many works of literature are dramatized and adapt so well to radio or television. This Christmas will be the first without the usual popular two hour drama featuring Downton Abbey. It will be missed but there is sure to be something else historical offered in its stead.

But to my mind books are better by far than television. I have my list already compiled and although committed to cooking Christmas dinner this year with all the trimmings I'm hoping to get the chance to indulge a bit with the memoirs of Alexander Fuller who grew up in Rhodesia before it was renamed Zimbabwe and writes so evocatively of that troubled time  Maybe make some progress on Wing CommanderThomas Francis 'ginger' Neill's The Silver Spitfire. I am about half way through this RAF pilot's exciting and often humorous account of his assignment to assist and advise American fliers in England  during WW11 and the Spitfire he somehow came to acquire for his own personal use.

For a little light relief I can take up again where I left off in 'French Women Don't get Facelifts' by Mireille Guiliano...and keeping my commitment to updating in Goodreads

And dare I hope that other readers might be reading some of my books curled up by the fire and getting lost in 'Like One of the Family' or 'The Straw Hat' short story collection with what-do-you know - four Christmas stories on offer. Check it out.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Offer ends today 5th December.

Day 4 just ending.One more day to go, one more chance to download for free from Amazon 'Like One of the Family'  Just click on the link

Looking forward to hearing your opinion. It's a big book so I don't expect to hear back until 2017. Even a few lines would be great, encourage other readers to suss it out and post their views. Alice Sheridan of Commuting Times said, 'Like One of the Family' is a sensitive, powerfully written novel that will have you in tears one moment, smiling the next and in a state of shock the next. It is one of the best books from an Irish author this year."

So be sure and avail of the chance to check it out and see if it's true.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Today's rhe day. You can download for free my book Like One of the Family from Amazon. Offer lasts for 5 days until Monday 5th December. Share and enjoy. If you feel moved write a review. Would love to see it. Hope so anyway. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#poweredbyindieOne More Day.

Looks like there's just one more day to go and then it will be Thursday 1st December and the beginning of five days of plenty.

 I'm talking about plenty of free books by the title Like One of the Family. 

Everyone can download one for free on that day and begin reading.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 25, 2016

#poweredByindieTwoweeksuntilfreegiveawayof LikeOneoftheFamily

Time is flying. Only another two weeks left to go before the start of free downloading of  Like One of the Family.As the back blurb goes it is a moving story of an Irish family of passion, tragedy and love. Just the thing to get deep into over the Christmas holidays. It has all the ingredients of a good read. Free give away starting Thursday lst December until 5th December. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

#poweredByindieDon't say I don't keep my promises!

Good news! Starting on Thursday lst December copies of my ebook 'Like One of the Family' are available for downloading from Amazon free.

The offer lasts for five days.

The story is about Claire Shannon,  the child of a broken marriage, who experiences happiness for the first time when drawn into the warmth of the McArdle's family circle. Later, in the aftermath of a tragedy that occurs she believes her childhood secret is buried and forgotten - until she falls in love with the son of the man who abused her.  Download and enjoy.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

#poweredByindieTiming is everything

I love Chris De Burgh singing that song 'Timing is everything' and when you think about it he has a point.  Maybe for writers and artists more than anyone else timing can make or break your career -  or for writers lessen  your chances of having your book published - and is the reason why Chris sings that song with such feeling. Of course the song is all about the power of love but so are many of the books we write or the lives we portray.  In Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' it was timing in every case that led poor Tess to her sorrowful ending at Stonehenge. If only she had met Angel Clare before the wretched Alec had  taken her innocence and made her pregnant, if only the priggish Angel had had time to mature a bit before falling in love with Tess or that they had both lived in a more enlightened age - one in which Angel did not blindly believe in double standards, one more lenient for men and less so for women.

But Hardy wrote about the age he lived in with all its hypocrisy and pitiful human failings. He wrote about what he knew and he wrote it honestly, tragically,even poetically.  It's what he did best.

So here now is one writer becoming obsessed with time, desperately hoping to choose the right day to begin the  Amazon KDP Selection Program having received confirmation that copies of my ebook 'Like One of the Family' have been successfully removed from all selling outlets other than Amazon -  and my enrollment completed. So far so good.

Shortly I will be starting off my 90 day Amazon exclusivity with five days of giving away free copies of  my book to anyone who wants to download and read it. All I want  in return is that they like the book and have an enjoyable time reading it.  Well, maybe I want a little more if I am being honest. I would be pleased no, absolutely delighted if they felt moved to write a review of my book and maybe even get a discussion going of who it was who did what and why they did it and what happened then. How great that would be!

 In the meantime I am spending time consulting the stars, pondering on my horoscope and pulling petals off flowers while murmuring this week, next week. Perish the thought. Only kidding!.

But undoubtedly the timing of this venture is crucial if readers are to know about this big beautiful book coming their way for free.  Anyway I will soon have to name the day and get busy drumming up a bit of advance publicity. All I can tell you now is that you will know very, very soon,

That's a promise!.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

An eight year old's memoir of Rhodesia during the Bush War.

For my birthday this year my son who greatly admires Alexandra Fuller's writing gave me 'Don't let's Go to the Dogs Tonight'. I read this well written memoir while on holidays and very much enjoyed it.Fuller writes with honesty, insight and vivacity resonant of Molly M. Kaye's writings on the Indian Mutiny and her childhood growing up in India. The words spring off the page, the style explosive, her story of growing up in Rhodesia during the Bush War written without sentimentality of her loving but eccentric racist, hard-drinking parents who teach their children once they are five years old to strip and clean a gun and keep it in readiness on their beds at night in case of attack. She writes of her beautiful older sister Vanessa whom she describes as 'the conversation-stopping beauty in our family' without envy, with awe even, admitting to her own desire to win the approval of her Dad and be like 'an army guy' cleaning and loading her father's FN rifle and her Mum's Uzi wllingly, not wanting to be classed as just one of what her father angrily calls, 'Bunch-of-bloody-women-in-the-house'. But it is the languid Vanessa when goaded by her father to 'Bloody well strip and clean your gun' who surprises them all when she decisively lifts the heavy gun and with deadly precision fires off a few rounds, putting shots clean through the head and heart of the target, a cutout crouching terrorist figure stationed at the end of the garden. Fuller labels these the happy years and describes them with a certain humour and deprecating honesty. When the greatest tragedy occurs Fuller is eight years old and she leads into it with the line 'It's during Christmas when everything is green-growing with the rainy season'. While her parents take Vanessa with them and go shopping they leave Alex at her Aunty Rena's farm in charge of her three year old sister Olivia whom they all adore. There is an entrancing store on the farm sweet with treasures. Bright nylon dresses hanging from beams in the roof among the gleaming silver-black bicycle wheels, crates of Coca-Cola, an explosion of incandescent sweets, bubble gum with gold foil inside a pink, bubbled wrapper and sweet gobstoppers all of which make Alex forget her little charge long enough for the terrible thing to happen. Only when someone remarks on the absence of the toddler and a search commences is the heartbreaking discovery of the child lying face down in the muddy pond behind the farm and she says 'my whole happy world spins away from me.... I will never know peace again, I know. I will never be comfortable or happy again in my life. ' Is it any wonder Fuller's parents drink to excess, all joy gone, no longer caring how they live, their sadness and grief over Olivia's accidental drowning coming after the earlier catastrophic death of two other infants bornto them in earlier years. Fuller's mother goes into a deep depression from which she never recovers. From then on she always has a glass of brandy in her hand, desperately drinking non-stop, trying to eradicate the pain of loss. Running through the book is the deep enduring affection between the two sisters who look out for each other feeling thwarted by their parents refusal to acknowledge the turmoil raging about them. 'Don't exaggerate,' is their typical reaction when the children speak of falling bombs and the sight of dead, mutilated bodies or the sexual assault on them by their parents' drunken friend when left in his care and forcing them to run across the street to seek asylum in a neighbour's house. Apart from their sorrow there is one thing binding the family together and that is their deep, abiding love for the land they live in, whatever name it is called by, Rhodesia or Zimbabwe, for no matter what this land continues to lie unblinking under the African sky and succeeds in drawing them back every time as they struggle to survive the trauma of those early years, and to live with the scars they have suffered.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

When in France.

When abroad on holidays  there is a great pleasure, I have found, in reading a book about the country you are visiting. For a number of years we used to visit Brittany mid August. We were always in Quiberon on the Feast of the Assumption and attended the open air mass beside the sea  and witnessed the blessing of the boats. That evening at our hotel there would be turkey on the dinner menu  and, beforehand, a glass of champagne on the house.

So enjoyable sitting on the balcony in the sun or relaxing on the beach and reading a novel by Zola. No doubt actually being in France greatly enhanced the drama and anyone who has read this famous author will agree the topics Zola chose to write about were always very dramatic indeed. Love and passion, deception, cruelty and even gory murders abounded.  Not for the fainthearted.

Similarly to be in Paris reading the memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and then to go along and have a drink at the Deux Magots, which she had often frequented in those early years, gave one an idea of what it must have been like living in the elegant surrounding district that she wrote about with such style. And don't forget the cafe in the vicinity of Sacre Coeur which drew the greatest writers and artists of the 19th Century whose custom it was to meet in that atmospheric spot at the top of the city of an evening to discuss love, life and their art.

Or the thrill of reading The Day of the Jackal  and walking the Parisian streets and seeing the street names. Or Hemingway's The Sun also Rises when in Spain with bull fighting its theme.

Of course, once you start thinking about it not only places but certain times of the year are equally evocative, irresistibly compelling us to engage in vicarious living  The satisfaction of reading again Charles Dickens' creation of the miserly Scrooge as the festive season draws near. This book has everlasting appeal and been the inspiration for other works of literature, as well as films both scary and humorous over the years. Not, of course, that there is much to laugh about  in the original story when you think how the wretched man is visited by scary ghosts, driven almost insane with terror dragged in his nightgown all over town to view his past and face up to the mess he has made of it.

A salutary tale making you glad to be experiencing it all from the comfort and safety of home.

Another Christmas story which is a relief not to be participating in is The Little Match Girl her pitiful existence when compared to the wealthy in their fine houses and tables overladen with delicious food -  who will ever forget the mouth-watering description of the goose stuffed with plums - all of which the little girl sees as though the house walls no longer exist as shivering with cold, she strikes one match after another to keep warm and with the final flickering flame sees her beloved grandmother coming towards her to end her earthly sufferings and take her back with her to heaven.

 Happy ending? Well, I suppose so but how much better if her life had not been over before it had really begun. Not very cheerful festive stories you'll agree. But ones you won't forget in a hurry, that's for sure.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#poweredByindie With a little help from my writer friends

It's three years since I decided to put my novels and short stories online. When I did, there was lots of help forthcoming from writer friends, one in particular who was incredibly generous with her time, willingly sharing her know-how and posting invaluable links to relevant sites. Once the decision was made it was a great feeling. At last I was having a real say with regard to making my books available to the public and no longer needed to attract the attention of a publisher.

But having said that I knew very little about the whole process - merely that the right cover was essential if it was to stand out among so much online  competition.   Although I didn't know much I was enthusiastic and rearing to go.

So what about that all important book cover.

In  the past my publisher had asked me what kind of cover I thought would best suit my novel. I had a picture in my head for 'Like One of the Family' bearing in mind that the story started in Ireland and later moved to Spain. A balcony featured in my imaginings with masses of purple and yellow flowers cascading over the rail, a smiling dark-haired young man in shorts and a white shirt lounging in the background and a young woman with long blonde hair leaning on the rail and talking down to a child standing below who was holding up a kitten for her to admire.

What I got was very different but there was no denying my publisher's choice of cover was excellent and I wouldn't have changed Raoul Dufy's Le Chateau Dans Le Parc for anything. It was a beautiful cover for the paperback edition but I have to say that I love the new cover - my cover featuring a blonde girl reading on the beach with coloured air balloons floating above her in the sky - for the eBook version equally well, if not better, and I was only too delighted that I had such a big part in its creation, not forgetting all the help and expertise of a highly professional team.

Having commissioned eBookPartnership to format my books and produce covers to my specification and satisfaction their artist did a wonderful job and the completed work proved to be far beyond my expectations. I can just hear you say that I took the easy option and, in a way, I suppose you'd be right. But as far as I am aware, there's no hard and fast rule that you have to do all the spade work yourself. From my reading on the subject and chatting with author friends I knew how very important it was that the finished work be as perfect as you could possibly make it. Missing pages, clumsy formatting or chunks of badly aligned text would lose you  readers before you even got started.

Let me say I have nothing but admiration for those who succeeded in doing all the work on their own. All those who got to experience that heady well-earned moment of finally being able to click on Publish, their goal finally reached. Those intrepid indie authors deserve every bit of praise and awe that's going about. Who knows but maybe next time out I might be confident enough to try it myself.

 I like to think so anyway

All in the past now but glad to say that in a relatively short time I had four well produced books online with lovely covers all ready to go. I suppose that's when the work really begins -  trying to get readers to know about you and read your stuff and write those precious reviews which hopefully will encourage other readers to take the plunge .

With the help of KDP Selection this has to be my aim when I kick off my 90 day program next month with five days of free books. This will begin on a Thursday in November and finish the following Monday. As soon as the start date is confirmed I'll be sure and let you know. Look out for it! .

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#poweredByindie The Amazon option- the way to go!

Of course it's really too early yet to say but - Well, I have decided to go Amazon exclusive with my novel 'Like One of the Family' a story of an Irish family, as the blurb has it, of passion, tragedy and love. I'm still at the first stage of the process which is to remove the book from outlets other than Amazon before it seems I can begin..  This is a must if you are to be accepted for enrollment in the Amazon KDP Select program, so I have been told by those in the know.

Even been given dire warnings about being deleted forever by Amazon if I am discovered to have deviated from the rules. Must admit this threw such a scare in me that I put up no further resistance. From all accounts the benefits are impressive helping to build audience platform with the chance to giveaway freebies of the book for five days in every ninety days of the program. All of which is guaranteed to make readers love you and, what's even better, love your book.  Being a person who likes to keep my cake as long as possible I was contemplating eking out the freebies a day at a time but having consulted the expert on the subject I now know better.  Catherine Ryan Howard has spoken or, rather printed her opinion. For best results, she says, you must keep giving for five days.

In fact give until it hurts.

Nothing more to be said on that subject.But it's all a bit premature at the moment, not having got anywhere near that philanthropic moment.  But October, it seems, is an auspicious month. So I realised when an email arrived today from Amazon with lots of info. on the subject and helpful links to their Facebook page where I learned more about the treats in store for all Kindle followers, especially indie authors. So it's time to get busy and start blogging about what it is you love best about self-publishing. Freedom to publish,  to control your work and creativity would be top of the list,  That seems to be unanimous.  All of it heady and exciting! Feeling a bit dizzy already.