Antidote to Ebook rip offs

kindle I love my Kindle. It’s small and light, easily fitting in my handbag, yet can hold zillions (OK, slight exaggeration) of books. It doesn’t slam shut while I eat my breakfast. The wind can’t ruffle the pages while I walk my dog. My new Kindle (I wore out my first) is illuminated so I can read in bed or the car, without disturbing my partner.

Until recently, ebooks were significantly cheaper than their paper siblings. For someone who reads in excess of 50 books a year, that’s important. **Note: I do support my library when possible but it’s not always practical. Recently, several ebooks by my favourite authors have been as expensive (or even more) than the paperback of the same title.

The outrageous fact that we have to pay VAT on ebooks but not paper or hardbacks doesn’t account for this because, of course, it’s based on the asking price.

Ebooks cost the publisher and the environment a tiny fraction of the expense of producing a paper version. Think of the trees that have to be cut then transported to a paper factory then on totrees the printer. The finished book then has to be driven to a distributor, stored in a warehouse, then taken to the shop. The reader has to travel to the shop or have a man-with-a-van deliver it to their home. That’s a great deal of manpower and resources, in other words expense.

Electronically produced and distributed direct to your device without any travel, storage or paper at all, there is very little risk or cost in the production of ebooks.

It seems the publishers are using their inflated price ebooks to prop up the unprofitable paper based side of their business. This is neither fair or sensible. Not only do they receive much less, if anything, from the sale of each paperback but those same books can then be shared easily amongst many friends before being donated to a charity where even more people can read it without a penny going to the publisher or author.

Paperbacks did not spell the end of hardbacks, as predicted, and they will not disappear in the face of ebooks but digital formats should not be used to artificially support the others.

11870800_945960492114414_3868054758535637395_nThe good news ~ the antidote ~ comes in the form of independent publishers like Crooked Cat. They are cutting-edge, well edited books featuring new authors and exciting, sometimes less conventional plots. With almost 200 titles across a wide range of genres there’s something for everyone. Their books are always reasonably priced but this week they’re running a sale with most titles available for 99p/99c! Just type Crooked Cat Books in the Amazon search bar and you’ll find 10 pages of books to choose from. I’ve bought 15 for less than the cost of two rip-off titles and am looking forward to many hours of pleasure.

My novel, Once Removed, is in the sale so please check it out. And remember11855855_10205964734250158_1712845661173886856_n

 

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Aurora in Tatters, an alternative fairy tale

A lovely alternative fairy tale, written by my friend and fellow author, Yvonne Marjot

The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet

My writing friend Kim Walker https://nutsandcrisps.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/my-lovely-blog-hop/ has tagged me in this blog hop. My current work-in-progress is a novel with fairy tale aspects, so I thought it might be nice to post this short story, also based an a traditional story that we all know.

Aurora in Tatters

(A well-known fairytale in new clothes)

Deep in the long-ago, when days were long and the rivers were full of fish, there lived a reindeer herder, who spent the days running with his herd over the wide tundra. The joy of his life was his wife, Anushka, and their baby daughter, Aurora, named for the flickering curtains of light that hung in the midwinter sky.

In the summer, Anushka rode alongside her husband and shared the work, and the baby was wrapped in richly embroidered garments and lashed to her cradle, which hung from the back of the largest reindeer, so that…

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Passion and Conviction

Like buses, no posts for months then two come along at once…

Jeff2014Jeff Gardiner is the UK author of three novels, a collection of short stories and a work of non-fiction. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines and websites. He’s also recently signed a three book contract with Accent Press for his ‘Gaia’ YA trilogy, which begins with Pica, a novel of transformation and ancient magic. Today he tells us about the need for passion and conviction in the search for that elusive goal of publication.

The first novel I wrote was ‘Treading On Dreams’, but it wasn’t the first one published. I had to go through the dreaded rejections and yet keep faith in my treasured work of art. My second novel ‘Myopia’ found a home sooner than ‘Treading On Dreams’, and I was even completing a third novel, ‘Igboland’ before my first was finally accepted. Don’t give up on those early manuscripts. They may well need polishing every now and then, but if you believed in them once, then give them another chance.

JGCovers

Submitting novels and stories to editors is a difficult game. It’s never entirely clear what they’re looking for, and you have to have the courage in your convictions, unless you’re happy to compromise and write the book you think they want, rather than the one you feel personally passionate about.

I feel very passionate about all my novels. ‘Treading On Dreams’ is the story of a sensitive man called Donny who becomes Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - 500obsessed with a young lady he shares a house with, but is hit by the debilitating sledgehammer of unrequited love. It is not autobiographical and Donny is certainly not me, but there are aspects of me in Donny: who hasn’t suffered the woes of loving someone who is either taken or uninterested?

‘Myopia’ is about Jerry, a teenager, who’s short-sighted and bullied. He invents some intriguing and certainly non-violent methods of challenging his bully to change his ways. I wasn’t particularly bullied as a child, but as a school teacher I’ve seen the traumatic effects that bullying can have. This is my response to those selfish, thoughtless individuals who make everyone else’s life a misery.

Ironically, ‘Igboland’ is my most personal book, even though it’s narrated in first person by a woman. Set in Nigeria during the 1960s Biafran War, it follows Lydia who is married to a Methodist minister posted out in a West African bush village. I was born in Nigeria, but came back to the UK as a young child, so Nigeria has a sentimental place in my heart and soul. ‘Igboland’ is a paean to my spiritual home.

My advice is that you should write the book that is forcing its way out of you. Don’t begin a novel unless it’s about something that every fibre within you is desperate to express. It should be bursting from you, because writing is a kind of obsession. Just as Donny’s obsession brings him tears, laughter and much anxiety, so does writing a novel. A novel should be something that challenges and provokes, like Jerry’s actions towards his tormentors. The most powerful novels are personal. When I read novels, I want to get a sense of the author’s or character’s different perspective on life; of what they have learned during life’s tough struggle; and to have my own beliefs and assumptions challenged.

Many people say they have a book in them, but not all of them write it. If you have a story inside you which feels ready to burst for freedom then give it a go. Like anything in life, the experiences that are challenging and which become obsessive are the ones that are life-changing, and believe me – writing a novel will be all those things. But once writing gets its grip on you, it’s impossible to stop.

For more information, please visit Jeff’s website at www.jeffgardiner.com and his blog: http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/

“Reading is a form of escapism, and in Gardiner’s fiction, we escape to places we’d never imagine journeying to.” (A.J. Kirby, ‘The New Short Review’)

Links:

Treading On Dreams: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Gardiner_Jeff/treading-on-dreams.htm

Igboland: http://www.jeffgardiner.com/igboland.htm

Myopia: http://www.jeffgardiner.com/myopia.htm

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeffGardiner1

 

“My Lovely Blog” Hop

hibernationThanks to my friend and fellow author, Christina (https://funnylass.wordpress.com/…/…/12/everything-is-lovely/), and this blog hop thingy, I’m finally getting round to my first Nuts and Crisps post of 2015! All being well I should have a post from another fellow author, Jeff Gardiner, on Wednesday. Looks like I’ve surfaced from deep hibernation at last.

So, the first memory that comes to mind was searching for my beloved grandfather. I was four and had just been told he’d died. I looked under furniture, in cupboards, everywhere for him. That sense of confusion and loss left a hefty imprint. Nowadays parents have some very good books to help young children with bereavement.

Books are one of my passions. In second grade (age 7), I was one of the Scott of the Antarcticoldest children in the class, often bored and given to disruptive behaviour. In desperation, my teacher began to give me books with the instruction to go read them and write book reports ~ genius. The first one was about Scott of the Antarctic and I never looked back.

The library was too far away for me to get to as a child, likewise I can’t remember any bookshops, but I was given a children’s classic book collection for Christmas one year and never remember being short of something to read. Both my parents worked and we were encouraged to be as independent as possible. I spent most of my youth outside on my bike, climbing trees, playing team games and that kind of thing but there was plenty of time to read on long car journeys.

Holmfirth libraryWhen I was a young wife in a remote village, the mobile library was a lifeline. I took my children from infancy to their local library every week and now take my granddaughter. Quality books can be expensive but libraries enable access to an endless supply and the freedom for children to choose the stories they want to hear. Now, apart from the books, films, music and computers on offer, my library also provide a venue for my writers’ group. I guess you can tell I’m a big fan and pretty outraged that these essential places are under threat.

How dull life would be if there weren’t always new things to learn. My grandma clip artcurrent course of study is grandparenting ~ learning to slow down and observe life alongside a toddler, keeping in my daughter-in-law’s good books and how to help grown-up children without interfering.

Writing… hmmm. I’ve written two books, published one myself called A Life Less Lost and had the other, Once Removed, published by the marvellous Crooked Cat team. I’ve won a few local competitions with short stories and I write for my church magazine and my other blog, Biblically Blogging. Currently trying to build enough confidence to work on several ideas for children’s books.

cover LLL

A few Crooked Cats have agreed to follow on from me; Scott Perkins, www.pagestotype.com, who has an exciting new book, Howard Carter Saves the World, coming out this week, Yvonne Marjot, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, author of the brilliant Calgary Chessman and the delightful Ailsa Abraham, The Bingergread Cottage, author of Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum. I hope you’ll visit them later in the week, when they offer a tiny peek into their “Lovely Blogs”.

Angst and Laughter

At this time of Good Will to All, extra financial, physical and commercial pressures test the strength of relationships. I offer this short poem to help with the angst ~

37180024 copy (1)Steaming Uphill

You’re wrong, I’m right.

Barbed words snag and slice

Spine stiff, lace boots.

Off out. End of.

Mud sucks in the grey dark.

Sheep bleat between bites of

Storm starved winter grass

New life kicks in woolen bellies.

Slip down slick steps

The stream applauds softly,

And a woodpecker laughs

Moss drips bright. Climb. 

Hands on knees, lungs gasp

From the top of the world

I glimpse my insignificance

And space for both points of view.

And, as a contrast, this equally short poem to make you smile ~

String is King

Here I am reciting these two poems at Holmfirth Library's Winter Lights event.

Here I am reciting these two poems at Holmfirth Library’s Winter Lights event.

Sellotape or string?

Give me string anytime.

 Oh I know Sellotape is easier, quicker, more secure.

But where is the magic, the imagination?

The hoola skirts made from

The frayed bit in your pocket,

When you’re listening but not hearing.

 Knotted string trembles with anticipation in your fingers

Then opens its arms in joyous celebration

Welcoming you inside,

Eager and willing to play again and again.

Whilst stingy Sellotape merely ties you in sticky knots,

Tearing paper in tiny tantrums.

A prima donna refusing a repeat performance.

Would Sellotape deign to hold your shoes together

Or keep your trousers up,

Even in an emergency?

 I think not,

Give me string anytime.

 Season’s greetings to you all and happy reading!

You Learn Something New Every Day…

Today, I learned what an “infographic” is ~ ta-da ->

writing_skills_matter

I’m not surprised by the information it contains, however. What I do find curious is the number of times I’ve been asked to read a manuscript for someone who hasn’t bothered to correct spelling, grammar or punctuation. I can only hope they don’t try to submit their precious work to a publisher or agent in that state.

We authors know that it’s the creativity that really counts. A piece of writing that is technically perfect but dull won’t be published either.

However, a brilliant masterpiece full of glaring errors is unprofessional and shows a lack of consideration for the people ploughing through thousands of manuscripts looking for the next bestseller. They simply won’t read it, if you don’t make it as accurate as possible.

It won’t be enough to rely on computer spell checkers either, sadly. I asked 8 people to read and give feedback on my memoir, A Life Less Lost. They were all well educated, teachers, published authors and a doctor, but I still sent it off to a professional proofreader. It came back with an A4 list of corrections to be made.

If you’re planning to self-publish, this is almost even more important because you won’t have a publisher’s editor going through your final draft. You risk your book looking like some of those cringe-worthy folk who appear totally unprepared on XFactor.

When you’ve spent all that time and  energy on your creation, you owe it to yourself to send it out into the world looking its best.

This is not an endorsement of Grammarly. A chap called Nikolas Baron emailed and asked if I’d post this. For more information, their link is grammarly.com/grammarcheck

On Emigration from Britain

IMG_0569-20%Author Miriam Drori offers this post for us today ~

This is where I get to argue, with tongue only partly in cheek, that we Brits have a harder time than others when having to acclimatise to a new country. Me – Brit? Well yes, once a Brit always a Brit. That’s what I say. And that’s what non-Brits say to me. I’m seen as more of a Brit when away from my country of birth then I ever was in it.

Not that they call me “Britit” you understand. “Anglia – English” is what they say. I’ve given up trying to explain that there’s more to Britain than England. The whole concept of several countries in one is apparently too hard for them to internalise. I wonder if the Scots are about to make that easier for them.

This place isn’t mentioned in the novel, but it’s a place Mark will have visited. The Ministry of Absorption helps new immigrants to become absorbed into Israeli society, although we never stop being labelled as British, American, Russian, Ethiopian, French….

This place isn’t mentioned in the novel, but it’s a place Mark will have visited. The Ministry of Absorption helps new immigrants to become absorbed into Israeli society, although we never stop being labelled as British, American, Russian, Ethiopian, French….

Some of the problems get harder with time, not easier. Foods you miss. Like Marmite, gooseberries and salt ’n’ vinegar crisps. OK, we can buy Marmite, but it’s so expensive it’s not worth it. There are lots of delicious fruits here, but not gooseberries. As for salt ’n’ vinegar crisps, any self-respecting native-born Israeli would turn up their nose at that. Except for my children. Brought them up proper, we ’ave.

Then there’s the weather. Instead of complaining about constant rain, here we complain about the heat. Still, complaint is complaint, so it’s not so hard to get used to this change.

Learning a new language is particularly hard for us Brits. We’ve never understood why not everyone talks our own rich but thoroughly illogical tongue. After all, it’s the only natural one. Every other language has to be learned.

The hardest thing for me has been getting them to realise that Brits come in all shapes, sizes and types. Because I fit their view of the British, I’ve found it hard to persuade them that some of us are loud or rude or noticeably outgoing. “You’re so British,” they tell me.

NeitherHereNorThereCoverFunnily enough, or perhaps not, Mark, hero of my romance Neither Here Nor There, shares this last problem. His French roommate in particular teases him for his Britishness:

“Oh you British.” Claude had wrung his hands in mock despair. “You are so… so… réservé.”

Mark doesn’t think that’s a true representation at all, but he has no way of shaking it off, being a bit reserved himself.

As the story progresses, Mark will need to become strong. He has to contend with much more than his own immigration. He is falling in love with Esty, who is going through a much bigger life change.

Bio

Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London, and now lives in Jerusalem where her daughter has left her to hold the female fort against three males.

Following careers as a computer programmer and a technical writer, Miriam has been writing creatively for the past ten years and has had short stories published online and in anthologies. Neither Here Nor There, published on 17 June 2014, is her first published novel.

Miriam began writing in order to raise awareness of social anxiety. Since then the scope of her writing has widened, but she hasn’t lost sight of her original goal.

Links

Miriam’s website: http://miriamdrori.com/

Neither Here Nor There is available from:

Crooked Cat Books

Amazon

Smashwords

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