Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Boring Facebook

Disheartening to see how boring Facebook is these days. Old posts are being recycled so most of what comes up I've seen before and have no wish to see again. The link between Twitter and Facebook seems to have gone awry - or possibly it is me that gone awry!

 Most of twitter is adverts for books unless the hashtag topics are investigated and then interesting conversations can be found among the garbage. I wonder what is going to happen in the next few weeks. Will Fb/Twitter recover their
verve, or simpy dwindle into nothingness?

Just read the first Peter May Enzo files book, got right to the end and remembered I'd read it before. I think the only one I have not read is the third one, but if I read them in order, the whole plot might become clearer in my mind. So it is on to nmber 2.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Everyday things

Tomorrow Roland Garros starts in Paris so I'll be watching that as long as Rafa continues to play. I'm also concentrating on finishing a first draft of my wip, the fourth part of what has turned out to be a quartet featuring Matho Spirston, humble man of the land turned courier to a Scottish queen.

 I wrote the first half two or three years ago and then lost steam and deviated onto the Affair series.(The Gybford Affair The Craigsmuir Affair, The Matfen Affair.) This spring I picked up where I left off and continued writing, hoping to complete the draft, print it out and take it to France with me. I think I shall manage to achieve it. The writing is going faster now, because I'm not editing, as I was with the stuff I'd written previously.

Last night I went a bit beserk and downloaded half a dozen titles for my Kindle in anticipation of having something to read in France. I shall also take Sarah Dunant's latest paperback, because I'm struggling with it. Lack of Interest, basically, which allows me time to admire her writing style. I may well leave the book there for Jenny to read. She might enjoy it.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Book Cover Blues

Received wisdom  among many authors on the internet is that  a new cover on a book can rejuvenate sales. Perhaps rejuvenate is the wrong word; they say a "better" cover will enable the book to sell better than a mediocre one. This applies  mainly to self-publishing authors like me, since those who have contracts with publishing houses will follow the dictates of the said houses. Authors tell stories of trying three or four covers until the "right" one catches and sales follow. Since I can decide for myself if I want to do a new cover, I thought I would try it.

My book Far After Gold has been out in the world a while, firstly as a paperback with Quaestor 2000 in 2009 and a fairly run of the mill cover taken from one of my photographs od Sandwood Bay in NW Scotland; when Quaestor ceased trading, I re-edited and published on Amazon Kindle in 2012, again with a cover I'd created.

It did fairly well for me, but with the recent drop in Kindle sales across the market (they say everyone is going back to "real" books!) I thought the time was right to experiment. It is hard to define exactly what sort of cover would describe the content of the book; pagan Viking male and Christian girl as slave - will they find happiness? so I centred on the girl's feeling of loneliness and desolation in being taken by marauding Vikings and sold as a slave in Dublin market and came up with the first cover: 

I wasn't entirely happy with it, and among the good comments came the criticisms, so I had a second attempt. Looking at them both side by side like this, I can feel a third attempt coming on!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

A Great Day Out!

I thought I was doing particularly well on my blog yesterday when I saw 495 visits recorded. Something to do with the royal wedding, perhaps? I checked clustermaps for more info and found most of the those visits came from Ashburn in Virginia. Apparently there is an Amazon/Google centre in Ashburn, but why my blog should interest them I really don't know. I think it must be an electronic glitch because all the vists to my home page came between 6.42 and 6.44 on the same day. No human can move that fast, but a computer can. Something in Ashburn needs checking over. Does this happen on your blog? Have you checked? You may be surprised!

We had a great day out yesterday that had nothing at all to do with that royal wedding that the media have pushed in our faces over the last week to the point of stupifaction. Off we went  on  three hour ride to Dent on the North Yorkshire Cumbria border. We drove slowly because we had Tim in the back, and because  it was a gorgeous day we stopped three or four times on the way over the top, as we call crossing the Pennines, and gave Tim a short run each time. All on lead because of course sheep rule the Pennine hills, but he loved the different smells and peed on almost every blade of grass!

The trees are just coming into leaf. There are not  a great many trees on this high level route, but the valleys - Weardale and Teesdale - were so green and beautiful. In Cumbria we must have hit the high point of bluebell life, because the hedgerows were pretty with a grass and bluebell mix and some of the hillsides behind the road were a mass of them. Even though we drove slowly we only got a fleeting glimpse of them.

This little gully was a surprise.  Tim set off at full stretch and we discovered more gulleys beyond this one, all splattered with tiny blue violets in the green patches among the heather. He unerringly found the dead hare, but since he was on the lead we stopped him getting his teeth on it. So warm in the sun and light breeze, and we could see for miles in every direction. A collection of vintage Triumph cars roared past as we stood there, every one polished to perfection and gleaming in the sun. Motorbike riders were out in force, too. One poor cyclist must have been cursing them because they roared by him and after all his effort climbing the long hill, he would have to breathe their exhaust for the next couple of miles. After our visit was over, we stopped off in Sedburgh and walked around the town which is dominated by Sedburgh School with all its many playing fields. Tim shared our ice creams when we headed back to the car. 
All in all, a great day out. We decided we should do it more often. Somehow we've got out of the habit of going off for the day, but yesterday convinced us we should do more exploring!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

First Review for Viking Summer

15 May 2018
Verified Purchase

This is the first time I’ve read a book by this author and had no idea what to expect. But I quickly found that I was drawn in, immediately involved with the characters, especially the main one, Eilidh, a headstrong young girl, whose story is written in the first person. In fact, I was intrigued by the mixture of first person writing, when we were reading about Eilidh but also there was third-person narrative for the other characters; a very clever way to be able to involve the actions of other characters when not around Eilidh. As a writer myself, I’ve been frustrated when writing in first person, not being able to tell the reader what others are up to unless they are in the sight of the main character. However, to get back to this story, I found that I was reluctant to put it down, so involved was I with Eilidh and worried that when she escapes from one predicament she runs full-tilt into yet another one.

I know nothing of Irish history and so this was something of an education for me and I found it a refreshing change to read about another country in our British Isles.

The writing is very good; the characters fully developed and interesting and the historical setting well researched. The descriptions of the fast games the characters indulged in and the war actions were very well done and true to form. The action was continual and at a good pace. Loved it.

My first review for Viking Summer and I love it! It is available on Amazon Kindle at a very low price!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Series or stand alone?

When I began writing books about Matho and his adventures in the 16th century, I never thought they would stretch into a series,  yet here I am writing the fourth book. Matho features in the first books as a subsidiary character, but with an important part to play plotwise. He also meets and makes friends with Harry Wharton in Fair Border Bride and they were the main charactersin Abduction of the Scots Queen. 

Then Harry took a back seat and Matho went on to operate solo north of the Border and eventually Queen's Courier showed how he came to work for the Dowager Queen of Scotland. I haven't thought of a title for the one I'm writing now,  but I have a good 70,000 words down. 

My question is this: should I rebrand them all with new but linked covers and connect them as a series? Or leave them as stand alone novels? It would mean a fair bit of work, but it can be done over the winter. At this moment in time I am working on the garden pulling weeds like a crazy woman and tomorrow we expect guests from Oz for a few days; not long after that we'll be heading off on holiday.  Nothing will get done about the series until I finish the book I'm working on, but I shall keep thinking about it while all these other things are going on. If you have thoughts on the topic, do let me know!

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Missing pics and wildlife

One of the missing pics!
Sometime after 2011 I had a computer die on me. That wasn't so bad, because it was easy enough to replace it ( at great cost, I might add!) but it took a lot of photographs with it and I thought I'd lost them forever. 

Some I probably have, but today I was looking for inspiration and checked my blog for 2011 and found I'd written about our trip north to Ullapool and then to friends in Banchory in the Cairngorms. I'd included pictures! There were many of the missing photographs, so I saved them immediately before I lost track of them again!
Such a small thing, but it really made me happy. 

It looks like we're going to have a third day of hot weather  18-20 degrees. One hardly knows what to wear. It was just above freezing last week. One effect is the gardens have sprung into life - everything is green and sprouting, and the birds are dashing about building nests. Unfortunately our thrush gave up on the nest he built in the blue cedar. Maybe we made too much noise, or our neighbour sat too close to the fence (only about a yard from the nest) or one the many neighbourhood cats chose to walk along the fence top and peer into the nest - anyway, he's gone, leaving one abandoned blue egg. We do have a balackbird in the ivy close to the patio windows and can watch him dashing in and out with mud and moss in his beak. We think there's another nest in the leylandii around the side of the house. 

We've had no frogs in the small sink this year, so no tadpoles to watch. There are wasps in the eves. We see mice occasionsally - one is acrobatic enough to shimmy up the six foot pole to reach the bird table and snaffle the peanuts. Another sort of wildlife lives in the gardens though - a neighbour called in the pest control man because she had seen rats running along under the leylandii. It seems our compost bin was the attraction, plus all the bird food that gets put out around here. (Not just us, I hasten to add) Anyway our compost bin is no more and the body of one young, dead rat was found. A short life for him. Seems those neighbourhood cats are not earning their keep!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

To pay or not to pay?

Spotted this article from Jane Friedman this morning and intend to study it closely since I have been wondering about how to increase the number of my reiews - particularly for my latest Viking Summer, which currently has none. I  have looked at Brag Medallions and such like and was shocked - shocked, I tell you - to discover that you paid  to send your work in for a "possible review/award." It has always been the way of the big book prize competitions to charge an entry fee, but I  assumed that the money funded the cash prize that went to the winner. Anyway, I have steered clear of both! 
Jane Friedman says:
Paying for professional book reviews remains a controversial topic that very few authors have practical, unbiased information about. In fact, it’s not even well-known in the author community that paid book reviews exist, and even less is known about the value of such reviews.
Before I discuss the pros and cons of paid reviews, I want to define them (strictly for the purposes of this post).
§  Trade book reviews. Trade publications are those read by booksellers, librarians, and others who work inside the industry (as opposed to readers/consumers). Such publications primarily provide pre-publication reviews of traditionally published books, whether from small or large presses. Typically, these publications have been operating for a long time and have a history of serving publishing professionals. However, with the rise of self-publishing, some trade review outlets have begun paid review programs especially for self-published authors. Examples: Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews.
§  Non-trade book reviews. Because of the increased demand for professional reviews of self-published work, you can now find online publications that specialize in providing such services. These publications or websites may have some reach and visibility to the trade, or they may be reader-facing, or a mix of both. Examples: Indie ReaderBlue Ink ReviewSelf-Publishing Review.
§  Reader (non-professional) reviews. It’s considered unethical to pay for reader reviews posted at Amazon or other sites, and Amazon is actively trying to curb the practice.
This post is focused on the first two types of paid reviews; I recommend you stay away from the third.
Some of you reading this post may be looking for a quick and easy answer to the question of whether you should invest in a paid book review. Here’s what I think in a nutshell, although a lot of people will be unhappy with me saying so:
The majority of authors will not sufficiently benefit from paid book reviews, and should invest their time and money elsewhere.

She has a lot more to say, and a lot of information on the website for those who wish to discover it. I have bookmarked the site and I have no doubt I will learn a lot from it! Find it here:


Adapting to colder temperatures now. Frantically Housecleaning to remove a month's dust, the washing mountain has diminished and we'...