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.