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…

Gilmore multi

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

 

 

 

Kindness Shared

To write a novel you have to be comfortable alone inside your head for long periods of time. However, to promote a novel you have to be socially active for long periods of time and acquire a whole new set of skills. There lies the challenge.

Maria Savva was one of the first people to help me on my way, when my memoir, A Life Less Lost, was ready to publish. I’d never met her before and only know her via social networks but she promoted my book and offered advice and suggestions for other things I could try, like joining Goodreads. She also promoted my second book, Once Removed. Her kindnesses provided encouragement as well as practical help.

a time to tellNow it’s my turn. Maria’s latest book, A Time To Tell, will soon be available to purchase in paperback on Amazon.com, Amazon UK and other online retailers. It’s on Lulu in paperback. The Kindle version is on pre-sale at the moment: release date 14th October.
To see her video trailer click here: A Time to Tell, by Maria Savva
Here are the links:
Paperback:
Kindle:

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

Bullying ~ what’s the solution?

Jeff Gardiner, fellow Crooked Cat author, discusses bullying in this post, a subject that affects people all around the world and across the age groups. Amongst adults it often takes passive aggressive forms but is still destructive and difficult to cope with.

myopiaMy contemporary novel MYOPIA explores the important topic of bullying, suggesting a number of non-violent responses. Jerry is bullied for wearing glasses and through his own belief that being shortsighted is not a disability but a new way of looking at things, he begins to find himself drawn into the dark world of prejudice and ignorance. People can be loving and compassionate; but we also have the potential to be cruel and brutish. We all need to work together to stamp out this malicious and thoughtless behaviour from all areas of our lives.

Whether it’s physical, verbal or emotional abuse, all bullying is an insidious practice, which we should take seriously. Victims can feel that they are somehow to blame and it certainly affects self-esteem and crushes feelings of self-worth. Bullying can change an individual’s behaviour and view of life. Being psychologically broken is devastating, embarrassing and potentially life threatening; as shown powerfully in K.B. Walker’s poignant novel ‘Once Removed’. If you find yourself being bullied then there are two things to consider: firstly, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT; secondly, you need to act quickly to stop it escalating or happening to others.

Sometimes victims are scared to act, fearing that telling someone else will lead to even worse punishment. This might be true in the short-term, but attempt to think long-term. It’s happening anyway, so why not deal with it? The other thing to consider here is that if you manage to stop the bully then you are also saving others from being affected in the same way you were. By stopping the vicious cycle, you have bravely helped others from being bullied. Therefore doing all you can to stop bullying will improve things for you in the long-term and stop others suffering too.

I believe all responses to bullying should be non-violent – although I do think you should physically defend yourself and protect others from being hurt. Here is something you could try: stand up and stand tall the next time someone tries to bully you. Don’t be aggressive and perhaps stay quiet, but most bullies are cowards and don’t want victims who are confident or who stand their ground. If you can, attempt to remain unaffected; after all, what the bully most wants is a reaction from you. If you give none they may well get bored and leave you alone. In MYOPIA, Jerry invites the bully round his house for a cup of tea. This is certainly unexpected (and potentially stupid) but Jerry has carefully planned something, which will teach him a lesson without hurting him.

Bullies are cowards; picking on what they hope is easy prey. Sometimes bullies are being bullied themselves or are responding to something painful in their own lives. This never justifies bullying which is heinous and needs to be stopped, but bullies are possibly crying out for attention. For some people even negative attention is better than none at all. Jerry learns a great deal, not only about himself, but also about the boy who is making his life such a misery.

If you are a witness to bullying, or you know someone who is a bully, then what are you going to do about it? Doing nothing makes you part of the problem.

Jeff Gardiner’s MYOPIA is an ideal book for teenagers, teachers, youth workers and parents -available from www.amazon.co.uk or www.crookedcatbooks.com. For more information see Jeff’s website at www.jeffgardiner.com and blog http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/

A Cure for “Writers’ Dip”

“And this is another great thing about being a writer, that nothing you do in your life ever goes to waste. You cut it out in little stars and scatter it into the heaven of everything you write.” -Anne Shakespeare.  This is a quote from The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare, written by Arliss Ryan and copied from her website.

I love writing. I’ve felt privileged to have the opportunity to create worlds and characters, tell stories and share ideas.

This banner was created using quotes from some of Once Removed's brilliant reviews.

This banner was created using quotes from some of Once Removed’s brilliant reviews.

BUT I don’t love marketing and promotion. Worse, I’m terrible at it. So even though my debut novel, Once Removed, has had loads of brilliant reviews, after the initial flurry sales have slowed down.

cover LLLPeople who read my memoir, A Life Less Lost, came back and bought more copies to give to friends (even my neighbour, who once told me she thought reading was a waste of time, has bought 3 copies to give away) but sales have been in the hundreds and not the thousands.

The frustrating drudgery of trying to persuade folk to part with their money to read my books has caused a deep dark “writers’ dip”, making it very difficult to write the next one. It’s not that I want to be famous ~ I DON’T. And it’s not the money. The problem is that no publisher will take the risk or put in the work to publish books that won’t sell because the author won’t/can’t do their share. And I have no wish to self-publish or to spend months/years writing a book no one will read.

And then today, something wonderful happened. A brilliant new review appeared on Amazon and has encouraged me to keep trying:

Once Removed is an incredibly powerful book dealing with great sensitivity issues ORcoverpbthat shocked, moved and saddened me by turns. It is an astounding debut by KB Walker.

The storyline follows two main characters, schoolgirl Beth and her teacher, Abby. Their two strands are told in alternating points of view as Abby, believing her pupil to be self-harming, reaches out to Beth.

Based in a small town, the growing friendship between teacher and pupil is watched with suspicion and, when Beth disappears, Abby becomes the target of a hate campaign by her neighbours and the local press.

The two intertwined storylines deal with fear and self-loathing, dysfunctional families and various forms of bullying and pressure to please others, but the novel also makes the reader look critically at the way society and individuals are quick to jump to damaging conclusions without being in possession of all the facts.

Without including spoilers it is difficult to say more, but what I will say is this: when I woke I reached out for my kindle before my eyes were properly open. I finished the book this morning and have not been able to get the characters and their lives out of my head ever since. Abby, Beth, their family and friends, became so real to me that I find myself hoping they each find their own way to redemption and healing.

Characters living on after the book is finished? That’s the sign of a first-rate author in control of her material.

The Homeschoolers


A Vector Comic Book Explosion Background with StarsBlurb:

“Life is too big to squeeze into a weekend.” That’s what “half-heathen” public school misfit, Christina Begoni, learns after a bout of Spanish class diarrhea has her escaping into the arms of a holy-rolling homeschool group. With her mustachioed, evil genius brother and cute redneck bully in tow, Christina joins innocent homeschoolers, Sunny and David on a hilarious and often gripping adventure on the Mississippi River. Experience the thrill and romance of the never-ending weekend with The Homeschoolers.
161263Excerpt:

When I get back to the stand, Sunny says, “You were gone awhile. Did you get lost?”

“I squirted myself!” I announce, quite abruptly.

“When? Just now?” Sunny asks with concern.

David chimes in, “Oh no. You must have stopped at the tamale stand. I could have told you that was going to happen. If you need, I’ve got some Pepto back in the truck.”

“Oh, no. Not right now,” I explain. “Something reminded me of a past incident. I was getting picked on at school because back around Christmas holidays I got really sick. The embarrassing part is that I diarrhea squirted in my freakin’ pants, right in the classroom, in front of everyone!” I’m hysterical with laughter. I have to admit, even though it was the worst thing that has happened to me thus far in life, it’s still hilarious when you hear it said aloud. Kip is still lying on the ground, with his back turned to us, pretending to sleep, but his body is quaking with silent laughter. Sunny and David are stone-faced.

Sunny looks especially puzzled. “I don’t see how that’s funny. You got sick, and then your peers taunted you about it. That is not very nice.”

“That’s what I’m thinking,” David says. “It’s like someone saying, ‘Ha. Ha. You have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma’. I don’t get it.”

“Oh, no. It is funny, but bless you both for thinking otherwise,” I say, pulling David and Sunny to my sides and kissing them both on the cheek. I’ve shared my shameful secret, escaped the hands of my nemesis, and have garnered two allies in Sunny and David. There’s nothing Ricky Kelly could do to bring me down now.

392404Author Bio:

Henry Circle is a Mississippi native, a freelance writer, a sometime hermit and a most-times loud mouth. She attended homeschool for one glorious year.

Henry is the daughter of actor, John Turturro, a winner of the prestigious Caldecott Medal and former Las Vegas showgirl. None of which is true.

Author Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Buy Links:

Amazon

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