Thursday, 23 February 2017

Sometimes I wonder...

My 14 year-old mini is going into the garage today for a new exhaust, so now I am grounded for the day. Will probably get lots of work done, and it is a good day to stay indoors because according to the Met office, storm Doris is on her way. (Haven't seen any signs of it yet at 9.09am)

Checked through a few magazines at the hairdressers yesterday and was disappointed to see so much female flesh on display. It is the same on the internet - small town celebs competing with each other to show as much flesh as they can before the censor clicks in. Pop concerts  with girls (supposedly) singing while wearing very little and edging dangerously close to the pornographic flashed across my tv screen while I had breakfast this morning. I wonder why it is? Surely this isn't what feminism is all about? How will women ever be deemed equal if they prance about in a state of undress and expect to be paid for it? What is it in women that makes them so keen to flaunt themselves as sexual beings? The local high school has hordes of girls who wear skirts no longer than their knickers (and sometimes shorter than their blazers) strolling through the streets - in this weather they must be freezing!

Not that I wholly support feminism either. Certainly not the kind that demands that I conform to their stereotype of what a woman must be. I sometimes wonder if the world would be a better place if mums stayed at home with the kids and settled for a life without two cars, three holidays a year and a tv in every room. Would so many children be deemed depressed, lonely, unsure of their sexuality if mum was there to come home to after school every day? Would they be bullied so easily, turn to self-harm and drugs so readily? It was one of the absolute certainties of my school life that she would be there whether I'd had a good or a bad day and I could tell her all about it. (If I wanted to - naturally.) I did not realise then how much I relied on her being there, but I do now.


Every person has the right to decide what they do with their life. Of course they do. But that doesn't stop me wondering why things happen, or wondering if things are the best they've ever been or if we're all caught in an illusion that it is better.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

New beginnings

After a few days of not working on a book, I'm now back in the groove. I amused myself by checking through all the photographs I've taken in the last  few years, and deleted all the ones that were not worth keeping. That freed up a lot of space! Then I began to look at writing again. Started slow, by opening up a copy of my first book Banners of Alba in a word document. (The publisher closed, so I have my rights back and plan to re-publish it myself.) It needs some work, because I've learned a lot in the last ten years. 

First of all, I changed the font to Bookman Old School, and the Language from US English to UK English. I fully justified the document. Then I checked all the chapter headings and decided I wanted just Eleven instead of Chapter Eleven. (That must save a lot of words....). Next I looked at the scene breaks, decided on a particular style and ensured they were all the same.  I've set up Styles for these things. 

We're on a roll now.  I began with the first chapter and read through it. I made changes. Couldn't stop myself. Not to the storyline, but cutting out unneeded words, where I'd over-egged the cake and/or repeated myself. Sometimes simply explaining things more concisely.
Like I said, I've been learning  a  things these last few years. Pity I didn't start writing much, much sooner!

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Matfen Affair

 The Matfen Affair is now published on Amazon Kindle and I wish it God speed. February 16th was my dad's birthday, so hopefully that publication date will bring me luck as I announce my new book!

 This one was fun to write. Leigh Fenwick lives in Northumberland, far away from Lady Jersey and her London Society cronies, but a wedding is still a big day in any girl's life. Visiting Matfen Grange as bridesmaid to her cousin Lucy, Leigh is sidetracked by a wayward ghost, the bridegroom is injured on his journey from Cumberland and the bride returns home after only one day of marriage. Cousin Bertram decides Leigh is exactly the girl for him, but Leigh is focused on someone else....

There is a Matfen Hall  close by the village of Matfen in the Tyne Valley in Northumberland, but as far as I know, the hall has no family or history such as I have described within these pages.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Questions, oh questions

I don't know if I should believe Stat Counter.
Today it tells me that some two hundred  people have viewed my blog yesterday, yet when I look at the behind pages, they record only 65. So what exactly is going on?

I've often wondered if the views each post gets on Facebook are recorded. If they are, that might account for the difference. If anyone knows the answer, please tell me - it would be good to know for sure.

It seems that independent book publishers are still going to the wall. The latest to close its door is Samhain, one of the bigger names in the US. I had two books with a smaller independent and that closed in January after 17 years in business, so I have two books waiting to be given a new lease of life, but I don't think I shall look for another independent publisher. They all seem to be rather precarious. Better to publish my books myself via Amazon Kindle. That way I know I am in control, but a .curious question came into my head the other day.

 A case in point is Banners of Alba, the paperback version. The rights came back to me when the independent publisher closed, but I see the paperback is still up there on Amazon. Amazon say they keep every edition up as a record and it has a silly price on it, but supposing someone wanted to buy it. With the e-publishing process, Amazon could print a paperback copy of Banners whenever they liked and I would never know. I am not in control of that particular item as Write Words, Inc went ahead with the paperback some years back. Is there a way of getting that paperback title removed from Amazon? another question is - what happens when I die? Assuming that my books would still sell, do Amazon get to keep the royalties? Can I will my rights to someone else?

In the search for a good way to promote, I've been doing banners, like the one above. They're fun to do and don't take a lot of time, and hopefully they avoid the readers response of "oh, not that old ad again."



Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Dabbling in the market

This week, on the 6th to be precise, I lowered the prices on each of my e-books in order to discover if prices had any impact on the lack of sales recently. Out in Facebook land there is a theory that  the cheaper the e-book, the less respect it deserves. I read this so many times from so many different people that I resolved to raise my prices as I was not writing the equivalent of Kiss me Quick stories that would be forgotten two days after closing the book - metaphorically speaking, of course.

My raised prices and subsequent falling sales resulted or coincided with the national decision to vote for leaving the EU, so Brexit had to be to blame. It had frightened everyone into  scrupulous saving, hadn't it? I had no idea, because I had not noted the dated when I raised prices and I didn't do it on all my books at the same time. Scientific about it I was not.

Meanwhile, the KENP pages read continued to do well in the USA, particularly for The Gybford Affair. The UK doesn't produce the same results. Perhaps paying a monthly subscription for as many books as you can read hasn't caught on  in the UK. Or maybe UK readers don't like my books. Who knows?

So this time I decided to take note of what I was doing. On 6th February I lowered  my prices and waited the 72 hours for the changes to kick in. This morning I checked my figures and there were sales in the USA. Not a huge amount yet, and only one in the UK, but it is a start. Now it will be interesting to see how the  rest of the month goes.

I had priced one or two of the more recent e-books at $3.50, and the lowest at £1.99. Now the lowest is $0.99 and the highest $1.99 and I'll be watching to see what happens from now on.

The picture? Oh that is the real Matfen Hall in the Tyne Valley. In my latest story I have a vague outline of it in my mind when I describe Matfen Grange, where Leigh Fenwick has her adventures.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Co-authors

Wilbur Smith’s fans have said that they would like to read his novels faster than he can write them. So a new deal has been dreamed up whereby he uses co-authors. It sounds very similar to ghostwriters, though they usually work on celebrity biogs or novels. In this new venture Smith will hire co-authors to do the hard work of writing to his ideas.

There are some rumblings among literary purists.

However utilising co-authors is not a new concept. Anna Davis, a literary agent with Curtis Brown claims such tactics have been going on for centuries. “Alexander Dumas did it - he had a whole team of authors writing for him all the time. He'd plot things out and have other people do the donkey work."

The practice is used in the film industry and the art world. Damien Hirst uses "apprentices" to produce his works. James Patterson and Tom Clancy regularly hire co-authors. Patterson has become prolific with 14 new titles in one year. He sends out short chapter summaries – and I mean short at four lines long – and receives full length chapters to edit in return.

Naturally he became the highest-earning author. Forbes magazine says he earned an estimated $94m (£58.6m) in one year. No wonder there's not much left for the rest of the authors writing today! It seems the book-buying public cannot tell the difference between Patterson's work and that of an unknown co-author. Is that not a tad worrying?
Something else I've noticed is that  authors are joining together to write a novel, but it goes out under both their names. I assume this is to help spark ideas, share the work load and widen the market for sales. Twice the number of fans must mean twice the sales.

Don't let the picture fool you. It is recent, and we did have some snow, but it barely lasted the day. Provided pretty colours in the sunshine. Who knew Tim was tall enough to make such a huge shadow?