A gift

Deep down in my secret self I wanted my books, or someone else at least, to sell

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One of the “classrooms” at Arte Umbria

themselves. Like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, I love to sink, undisturbed, into the depths of my work in progress. I do not like to talk about or sell myself or my books.

 

My first book, A Life Less Lost, came out in paperback. I was just beginning to give successful talks without having to lie in a darkened room for hours afterwards, when my second book, Once Removed, came out as an ebook. Being slow to grasp a whole new set of promotional skills, impacted on sales and self-confidence. Several false starts on the next book left me paralysed by doubt in my ability to write. And why would I want to, if it meant I had to face the marketing challenges that came with completion?

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Mealtimes on the terrace

I tried to fill the void with other things but the ache wouldn’t stop howling. Then as a very special birthday present (for one of those with a zero in it) I was given the chance of a writing holiday in Italy! WOW, I know, I couldn’t believe it.

Arte Umbria, about half an hour from Perugia, up in the hills provided an exquisite venue, Sue Moorcroft provided the tuition and the other members of the course gave endless encouragement and fun. The result? I’m writing again! Full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. Watch this space…

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Thank you everyone!

Paranormal anyone?

I asked Shani Struthers, fellow Crooked Cat author, what drew her to her favourite genre and this is what she said ~

Shani PicFor as long as I can remember the paranormal has fascinated me. Even as a child I preferred darker stories and devoured Ruth Manning-Saunders’ twisted fairytales. I also had a strong stomach for horror films and loved nothing more than cosying up with my family to watch a scary movie on the TV – it was seen as something fun in our house! Although I kick-started my writing career in the romance genre, I quickly switched to paranormal as it’s where my heart truly lies. I’ve also had a lot of knowledge passed down to me from my mother who has a life-long intellectual interest in the Occult, so in a way I’ve grown up with the paranormal all around me. It simply makes sense to me that there’s a spiritual world as well as a material one. Regarding fellow paranormal authors, I’m inspired by Shirley Jackson, Susan Hill, Stephen King and Dean Koontz – all writers I aspire to rank alongside one day!

Shani’s latest book, Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street, comes out on Friday, 27th May.YES2-2

“We all have to face our demons at some point.”

Psychic Surveys – specialists in domestic spiritual clearance – have never been busier. Although exhausted, Ruby is pleased. Her track record as well as her down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach inspires faith in the haunted, who willingly call on her high street consultancy when the supernatural takes hold.

But that’s all about to change.

Two cases prove trying: 44 Gilmore Street, home to a particularly violent spirit, and the reincarnation case of Elisha Grey. When Gilmore Street attracts press attention, matters quickly deteriorate. Dubbed the ‘New Enfield’, the ‘Ghost of Gilmore Street’ inflames public imagination, but as Ruby and the team fail repeatedly to evict the entity, faith in them wavers.

Dealing with negative press, the strangeness surrounding Elisha, and a spirit that’s becoming increasingly territorial, Ruby’s at breaking point. So much is pushing her towards the abyss, not least her own past. It seems some demons just won’t let go…

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Bio

I write ghost stories – vampires, werewolves and shape shifters need not apply! Influences include the great Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m also a mum of three children, and live in the funky city of Brighton with them, my husband and four mad cats. I’ve always loved reading and writing but occasionally I venture outdoors on sunny days and walk in the stunning green downs that surround us. Other pastimes include hanging out with friends and just having fun – life’s too short not to.

Buy Links

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo

US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Social Media Links

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: http://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Website: http://www.shanistruthers.com

 

 

 

Contemporary Freedom

ccnancyjardineToday my friend and fellow Crooked Cat author Nancy Jardine talks about genre in relation to her writing. I’m not entirely sure I agree with everything she’s said so look forward to your comments.

Hello Kim, thank you for inviting me to return to your blog. It’s lovely to pop back to see you.

Some authors quickly find their writing niche and stick with it. It may be that they feel more comfortable with writing political thrillers and that’s the only genre they keep writing in. Or, they only write gritty police procedural novels. Or, maybe they only write historical romances. Many of them are highly successful and their readers are content because they know what to expect from those authors—readers who only want the predictable.

It’s a sad fact of life that other authors who want to challenge readers, or who want to encourage them to appreciate something different in genre or across genres, find their work doesn’t sell well.

The truly mercenary author, I think, finds what genre or ‘fad’ is selling and rides along the crest of that wave—whether or not they enjoy what they’re creating.

I’m still a bit ambivalent regarding my genre comfort zone and I can’t bring myself to be one of those ‘one eye on the profits only’ mercenary type of author.

I love writing my historically based adventures but I’ve also found that writing my contemporary mysteries has given me a sense of freedom. The freedom is directly related to the fact that I don’t need to do so much research since I’m more familiar with the contemporary life my characters might have, or if their lifestyle is quite fanciful, I can find examples of sufficient similar celebrity lifestyles on the internet to make the scenario believable.

When I started to write Take Me Now, my latest Crooked Cat published contemporary mystery novel, I decided to make my TMNx1000main male character Nairn Malcolm an unusual Scottish highland hero. My Nairn was going to be just as charismatic and sword wielding as many of the current highland heroes that can be found in romance novels set in Scotland, but instead of making him a Jacobite, or a medieval hero, I chose to create a contemporary Nairn. I also purposely chose not to create a time shift character, there being plenty of that type of novel available on the market.

Since the story is a romance mystery, I made Nairn a bit more larger than life, yet not the typical hero image at the outset. Though he’s normally the quintessential alpha male, my main female character Aela Cameron finds he’s not at his best when she first meets him. The swooning over my gorgeous highland hero is temporarily delayed since poor Nairn has been the subject of a rather nasty and mysterious motorbike accident. And so begins the fun of the book but also the mystery begins because although I wanted to write an almost ‘tongue in cheek’ version of a highland hero, I also wanted and needed to create a sound mystery plot.

The contemporary freedom for me was also creating amusing dialogue between those main protagonists. Some of the best fun during the writing was during scenes when my strong secondary character Ruaridh Malcolm, Nairn’s father, stirred up some mischief.

If I were asked if Take Me Now is similar to my other writing, I’d have to say no it isn’t because as an author I really tried something different.

Take Me Now is available in ebook formats from Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1QbhUwn ; US http://amzn.to/1MdeuCU ; Smashwords; B&N; and other ebook stores.

Nancy Jardine writes: historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time -Travel Series –Book 1 The Taexali Game).

Find Nancy at the following places-

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.com Facebook LinkedIN   About Me   Goodreads Twitter @nansjar  Google+ (Nancy Jardine)   YouTube book trailer videos   Amazon UK author page   Rubidium Time Travel Series on Facebook http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG

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

 

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.

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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.

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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”.

Crooked Cat’s Christmas Sale Now On!

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Previous Older Entries

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Nuts and Crisps

For all things reading and writing