Sunday, 29 May 2016

Free payments!

It may be a little early to tell, but I think  there is no bank charge on the EFT payments. It was laborious, but I checked the payments declared by Amazon and then converted dollars, euros, rupees, etc to sterling and found the payments in my bank account matched almost exactly. There may be a penny or so difference but that could easily be the exchange rate at the time the conversion was made. That is good news.  In case you have ever wondered, there are 0.010 rupees to the pound sterling!

I'll keep a close eye on the next few payments, but it looks as if I worried for nothing.

It is Spring Bank Holiday here this weekend, and of course the weather is typically grey and damp. Even Roland Garros is rained off from time to time, and thunderstorms in France have been quite extreme. Our friends in residence at the mill in the Dordogne are probably suffering as thunderstorms are prevalent there. We have a brief respite from paint fumes, but our decorator will be back on Tuesday to do the rest of the work. It is good to be able to get back to my computer and catch up on things. PR has been abandoned for the moment and I'm out of touch with groups, Twitter and Facebook. Astonishing how much more time to write it gives me, but I find working on a laptop most frustrating.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Edits and family trees

"it was a long walk!"
Coming to the end of edits - the ones I hope will be Final Edits, and am astounded to note that even at this late stage (after several edits) I can still play around with the word and sentence order and make improvements. I am beginning to think that a person to go on and on improving a book for a lifetime, but I really want to get on an write another story.

It is becoming clear to me that my writing is sometimes muddled.I don't get the sentences in the right order so that the flow of words is graceful and the thought processes are clear. Sometimes, I need to change one sentence's position in the paragraph and then it is fine. Sometimes I need to move a paragraph to make the thought process clear. Another notch on the learning curve.

Side by side with this I have been investigating my family tree on my mother's side. My father's side I have, thanks to a diligent gentleman who gifted me a copy of his research and then disappeared from my life. I'm doing it via UK Census Online and find that I don't have to go back very far before my great grandparents were "making their mark" on a marriage certificate. On the other side of the family,  there were teachers - what a pity they didn't get together!

It also seems that people often didn't bother to record births and deaths, which is frustrating. The Society of Genealogists says: "The records of civil registration in England & Wales which commenced on 1 July 1837, relate to the birth, marriage and death of an individual. In Scotland records began in 1855 and in Ireland in 1864 (n.b. Irish non-Catholic marriages were recorded from 1845.)" So pre-1837 it is back to parish records, not always easy to access.


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

House decoration

Day 3 just starting. As our wonderful decorator was pulling onto the drive, I was tripping downstairs still buttoning my shirt having failed to give myself enough time to clean my teeth. I have had breakfast and Tim has been out for his walk in the woods, I've showered and washed my hair, but still - it would have been better to have done my teeth.

We've done bits and pieces of the house since we moved in twenty years ago, but this time we decided the whole of the interior woodwork needed doing, and that meant stairs with all  those spindles and door frames, loft hatch frames, and all those other quirky corners, so we decided to get a professional in. Because John is doing the stairs, landing and hall first, we are keeping Tim with us in the living room to prevent him running out and spraying dog hairs all over the place or getting into any other bother. I remember a friend in the past whose Yorkshire terrier stepped in the tray of white paint and then jumped on the sofa and left little white paw prints all over it. (Anyone who has kept a Dalmatian will know what I mean about dog hair. Those small white hairs get everywhere! and I don't want them stuck into the paint for the next 20 years.) Anyway, all this means we are sort of imprisoned in our living room. I was desperate to get to the loo by three o'
clock yesterday, but couldn't access any of the three loos in the house without getting in the way of wet paint!

Still, it was high time the job was done. Now that John has painted the doors on the landing, I can clearly see from the "cream" paint  where he has yet to do. It will look splendid when it is all finished.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Thinking ahead

Sitting here late on Sunday night I'm wondering what I will need tomorrow. I will not be able to get into my study because we are having the interior of the house painted and our decorator is going to begin with the hall and stairs. Obviously that means ladders and platforms in order for him to reach the high bits and the ceiling. The other complication is Tim, who could cause chaos if he got into the scene and I do not want terracotta paw prints all over the beige carpets.

The plan is to open the living room doors onto the patio and keep the living room door to the hall and stairs tight shut. We can access the kitchen (and food!) via the patio. We had worked that out, but then once I had gone to bed I remembered I'd want to use my computer even though I might be watching some tennis, (Roland Garros 2016 has begun today). So that meant creeping out of bed and firing up the desk top so that I could e-mail my wip to myself and then tomorrow I can access it via the laptop, which is already downstairs in the living room. The thing is once I start looking around my study
at the things I use every day, I could end up with everything downstairs!

We walked along the river to the pub at Warden the other day and had a bowl of soup in the garden with Tim sitting beside us, behaving well. There's a lot of history in Warden - if you are interested, click here

Friday, 20 May 2016

Amazon and payments

More changes from Amazon for self-published authors. I have always opted to receive a cheque when more than $100 or £100 has accumulated but recently Amazon informed me that they were no longer sending out cheques and would I please fill in my details to receive payments directly into my bank. I'm not happy with the decision, but there doesn't seem to be any get out clause. Authors in America who receive US dollar payments won't worry, but every cheque I cashed at my bank had a conversion charge on it. Admittedly it was not a huge sum, but now I wonder if every paltry amount sent to me is going to incur a conversion charge.

Here's what Amazon say:
"As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, we're changing the default payment method in your country to Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) in September of this year. Checks will no longer be offered as a payment method.

EFT payments are paperless, secure, and fast. This environmentally friendly method deposits royalties directly into your bank account, with no minimum payment threshold. This means you will be paid electronically in full 60 days after the end of every month for sales within that month. Instead of waiting up to three weeks for your check to arrive, EFT payments should appear in your bank account within five days after the end of the month."

This could turn out horrendously for me - last month Amazon told me I had earned 54 rupees in India. That intrigued me, fascinated me that someone in India was actually reading my books. But wait - I had no idea what an Indian rupee was worth, though I have always known it's a very small amount. I checked this morning. A rupee is worth 0.01016 of a pound sterling. I think I earned 50 of them, so that means £0.50. The bank will charge more than that to convert the rupees into sterling. 

Unless  EFT payments don't require conversion, I think I am going to be annoyed.  


Saturday, 14 May 2016

Getting people to buy

85% of the U.S. population uses social media which means  if any self-published author wants to sell their books, they should start  using social media. Sometimes I wish I'd taken marketing at university instead of plain old English Lang & Lit but then marketing was barely heard term at the time. Already I can hear my d-i-l telling me "Marketing is not selling, Jen."
She has tried many times to explain the difference to me, since her field is - you guessed it - marketing. 

A normal dictionary definition of marketing is: 

"the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising."
However, the business online dictionary goes further:

"The managementprocess through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. It includes the coordination of four elements called the 4 P's of marketing:
(1) identification, selection and development of a product,
(2) determination of its price,
(3) selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer's place, and
(4) development and implementation of a promotional strategy.
For example, new Apple products are developed to include improved applications and systems, are set at different prices depending on how much capability the customer desires, and are sold in places where other Apple products are sold." 

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/marketing.html#ixzz48cWB0Yg9
So now you see why I wish I'd done this at uni. How on earth do I go about discovering peoples' habits, hobbies, interests? Help!


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Ann Cleeves

Coming late to the genre known as crime novels, I am definitely hooked by Ann Cleeves and her Shetland series. I've just finished THIN AIR and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to race to the end to find out who did it, but I didn't want to finish the book - I wanted to go on enjoying it.

She has been writing for years and I've never noticed her. What a shame. But on the other hand, what a lot of enjoyable reading I have in front of me now I have discovered her! Amazon is already telling me she has a new novel out  - COLD EARTH. I won't be able to resist temptation for too long, and why should I?


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Learning new tricks

Changes for a new, summery feel, done on a day where the temperature in our garden has reached 26 degrees. (I'll see how I feel about it on a cold, rainy day.) Even Tim the dog has laid around, curled up or sprawled out behind me, his back touching mine as I pulled some weeds, which is why I've posted a nice cool picture of the stream that was roaring down the valley in flood not so long ago.

I'm making a determined effort on using social media after attending out training day at Shepherd's Dene on Friday, focussing on on Facebook and Twitter. I've never been very sure of what I was doing with Twitter, but I have a better understanding  of it now. I'm busy searching out hashtags - it took me a long time to realise they existed so that like minded posts could be grouped together - and collecting @addresses. Heaven knows if it will make any difference, but I'll feel as if I've done my bit and made it worth Caroline's time teaching us all.

I'm also editing for the umpteenth time, and still making changes. It is amazing how much I can still sharpen the dialogue and tighten up the plot when I thought I'd "finished it" ages ago. I thought I was editing for typos and silly mistakes only. Of course, I still find quotation marks missing at one end of a sentence, and sometimes there's a full stop instead of a comma. Occasionally predictive text has gone and done something silly, so I've learned to look for that now. But the Dowager Queen is slowly emerging from this edit as a much more active character determined to save the Scots throne for her daughter Mary.

If anyone has comments on the new look of my blog I'd like to hear them. I think some people found the black background difficult. I hung onto it for so long because I always thought it showed off the photographs as nothing else could. I still think that, but recognise it is time for a change.


Thursday, 5 May 2016

Publishing glitches

Busy right now. I suppose you could call it a Spring Clean, or simply getting rid of redundant paperwork. Like many authors, I have lots of it! I've also changed the cover on Magician's Bride yet again - does this book have a chequered history? This time it is to indicate that I have made changes to the formatting and re-published the book. Apologies to those readers who found my formatting so odd!

I don't know why now, but I must have thought that leaving two spaces  to indicate a scene break or a passing of time was enough. Evidently not. It looks all right on my ipad, but then I know what I did! So I've done the proper space-***-space formatting all the way through. There should be no formatting problems now.

I received a review for Magician's Bride from the Historical Novel Society and though it did not earn an Editor's Choice Award like The Craigsmuir Affair, it was still pleasing - "Ms Black does a good job of depicting life among the Norsemen who colonised Ireland and the western Isles of Scotland. Casual details are inserted with a light hand, bringing to life everything from the interior of longhouses to food and clothing...a fun and interesting read."


Monday, 2 May 2016

Indie Award time

 Checked my e-mails for the last time today and was richly rewarded by two reviews from the Historical Novel Society Review section. I sent off both titles earlier in the year - The Craigsmuir Affair and The Magician's Bride. One of them has done rather well and earned itself an Editor's Choice award which means it joins the long list for the 2017 Indie Award.



I can't begin to say how pleased I am. It's been a long struggle to get some recognition for Daisy and Adam and I have put a lot of work into it since I first sent the story off to an agent in 2009. The first response by phone was that it wasn't "quite there" and alterations only collected the words "didn't make my heart sing" on the bottom of the returned submission. I left it alone for a good couple of years, but always with the intention of going back to it. I'll be pasting the actual review on Facebook and Twitter over the next few days.

The Magician's Bride was favourably reviewed but did not make the Editor's Choice. Still, the review for that will be posted too - it is nothing to hide away! The reviewer was not keen on the cover and I have to say I never actually fell in love with it myself , but because I paid money for it and it is at a level of graphic artistry that I may not be able to match, I sent it out there to fend for itself. I'll have to see if I can't make something more suitable.