'Calandra's Spring' released for Kindle on amazon.com.

Friday, October 19, 2012

'The Other Side of Nowhere' needs reviewers

If you are in the mood to read and review this book, please let me know and I will send you a copy.  It's always hard to get someone to read, especially with a long work and one that is for Digital publishing only, but I would love some feedback!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Releasing ... The Other Side of Nowhere.

Proudly announcing the release of 'The Other Side of Nowhere' now available on Kindle, at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009G8A66U

This is my second book and is somewhat of an experimental work, being a linked set of narratives which could stand alone and are somewhat episodic.

Try it and send me some feedback!

Monday, September 24, 2012

My second book is available on Kindle.

This is new, new news!  I just uploaded my second novel, 'The Other Side of Nowhere' for Kindle purchase and while the cover is only a temporary one (I have a short video to embed and it won't let me :-( so may need to add that later!) it is ready for reading as soon as amazon says so!

Watch this space and I will post a link direct to amazon as soon as possible.

Very excited to see it happen and will look into the cover possibilities and replace that when I can afford to get a professional design.  Not cheap!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New book almost ready for release

I have been head-down-tail-up for a while editing and proof-reading my soon-to-be-released book.  Now starts the fiddly work of having a cover designed, buying the isbn and making decisions about how to structure all the cover materials. 

This one will be a bit of a surprise for readers (if all goes well).

Is that cryptic enough?

Back to work and I will keep you posted when it is up and running.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Writer's Perfect Getaway

What better to do for inspiration than to tread in the steps, and sit at the desk of a famous writer.  No velvet rope saying 'keep out' and the possibility to feel the same vibe as that guy!  The one I am talking about is D.H. Lawrence of 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' etc. etc. and the place that you can have the experience of being Lawrence on vacation is QQ Accommodations in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico.  This astoundingly pretty B & B is set in a garden that abounds with birds, trees in fruit (including a massive avocado and a couple of mangoes) turtles who live in a fountain and so much to delight the eye.  The building was partly designed and built by famous architect, Luis Barragan.There is an exotic stone tower and the place is completely packed with antiques, artworks and traditional Mexican tiles, pots and bits and pieces.  If you want to know more, details are at this website:
http://www.accommodationslakechapala.com/hotel/accommodations.htm

It is short walking distance to the lake, the market and much more, but really, do you want to walk anywhere when the place itself is so appealing?  Just sit in the garden or on one of the many terraces and unwind, think and create.  Just as Lawrence did!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Calandra and Aaron - the new environmental warriors

There's an important environmental thread in 'Calandra's Spring' which impacts on the plot and the characters.  As I have been travelling around the world, particularly in Mexico, I have noticed that awareness of the issues is growing.  However, there is still a shocking disdain for keeping places free of plastic wastes, composting and air and noise quality control.  Mexico is the noisiest place in the universe!  The Big Bang would have been welcome here as an attention getter for some party or product!!  The noises, sights and smells of the place soon become annoying as they are so relentless.  Among my acquaintances, there is a high deafness rate and I worry about the next generation as car stereos, boom boxes and iPods permanently set to 'high' are the norm.  The smells of cooking, of garbage and still, fermenting water below the roads are inescapable.  What is this going to do to the evolution of the human body?  Thicker hair growth around the ears and nose perhaps?  More bone around the skull to shield the brain from the noise?  Could this be a new quest for our heroes?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury dies at 91. A productive life.

If I can hang out until I'm 91 and die in my sleep, I wonder if I will have left behind the kind of legacy Mr. Bradbury has?  His books are great reads and politically incisive.  Not a waste of print.  Even had he just written his most famous book, 'Fahrenheit 451' that would have been justification for his life.

Be a traveller ... and make notes along the way

I have done a goodly amount of travel in my life.  Some was for work and other was with family and often I travelled alone, tagging a trip onto the end of an assignment. While the latter is great (you have time to write notes and can travel self-indulgently) it's more fun to have someone to nudge when you see that wacky something or other. Putting it on Facebook just doesn't do it.  Lately, my husband and I have been travelling around Mexico quite a bit and there's not a day goes by when one doesn't nudge the other!  There is much to gasp at, to laugh at and stare at.  There is a level of national obesity here that defies description.  Those Walmartian pictures are NOTHING compared with the Mexicano Walmartians who seem to take as much pride in their bulk from an early age as Tonga's famed late Queen Salote, once holding the record as the tallest and fattest queen ever.  She was often used as a threat in our family home: 'Don't take that second slice of cake or you'll end up like Queen Salote'.  But I digresss.  The other day, I was camera-less. Damn!  And there before my eyes, a bulky miss leaned over before me to pick the choicest tomatoes from the hillock in the supermarket green section.  Alas, the combo of mini-dress and thong failed when combined with the rolls of brown fat that rippled up to her waist in full view of everyone.  She was unconcerned.  People flash bits of themselves here that would be pixelated in 'Survivor' before you can say "Come on in, guys!'.  We notice that in Puerto Vallarta, the gas, water, fruit and fish purveyors put out as much noise as they can to get attention.  In Guadalajara, they whistle softly, or ring a little bell, sing their wares quite beautifully (and sometimes I can understand) and still get sales.  We do much of our exploring on public buses and yesterday broke all records for bussing to undesirable suburbs by accident. It was interesting to see that in this colonia, which had featured in the international news as the site of a biffo between drug cartels, kids still went to school. washing still hung on lines and life just seemed to go on.  There seems to be a higher degree of razor wire in the 'nice' suburbs.  I suppose the others just feel they have nothing more to lose.  We came out of it OK, spending the rest of the day walking in the Parque Colomos, a forested area criss-crossed with running tracks, a great amount of free to use fitness equipment all over the place.  Which made me realise why people in Guadalajara are way thinner than those in Puerto Vallarta.  There are few parks in PV. Just the beach. Lots of that but many of those have been closed off by resorts.  And few people in the city can swim.  For some reason, they just don't get taught, nor do they seem to have the places to do laps and work off the blubber that is drowning their young folk and taking up much shelf space in the Farmacias for diabetic treatments.

If I had stayed in my safe, comfy house in Bulleen, Australia, yes, I would have had my flock of visiting lorikeets and magpies but I wouldn't have seen any of this!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Will we see another Mexican Revolution in our time?

Is it good for a nation to be stratified with ersatz slaves (brainwashed by Mother Church to hold off on fulfillment till they reach the Pearly Gates) at the bottom of the pyramid? And yet, there doesn't even seem to be simmering revolt here in Mexico where some of my acquaintances (members of our local sewing group) can make around 200 pesos a day for a physical slog in a garden or house.  True, many of them couldn't stick it out at school.  Stickability is present here ut needs someone to channel it.  I look at the conditions here and, taking into consideration the consumer tax and cost of rental and utilities, the people are under more stress than the French were in the 1780s.  Substitute Mr. Carlos Slim for any of the Louis and you have an interesting scenario.  Perhaps he should think about doing more than establish his museum in Mexico City, an edifice that will do nothing for the people who never get to go there from  Chiapas, Oaxaca or Zacatecas.  I would suggest that he focus on education - he has enough gelt there folks to build a school in EVERY town.  And to employ teachers.  Some examination (measurement) of standards is required too.  The architects, doctors and engineers down here don't seem to be using internationally approved text books!!  It's a great country, but they waste enough water to green a whole agricultural belt parallel to the coast line cities and that alone would stop the interminable (and carbon-wasting) procession of trucks north and south.   There are enough mangoes wasted to create a new industry of mango oil for the cosmetics industry.  Teak stands could be grown as well and provide the raw material for weather-resistant furniture making.  Hey, vote for me!  I could fix it, but only if I were a cardinal (making it a mortal sin not to be smart) or  ... a dictator!

Without making this a Marxist diatribe, I can point out that in nations where ALL profits are shared, where healthcare is universal and where doctors are not deified, where there is genuine freedom rather than the siege/defeatist/paranoid mentality of places that feature a gulf between rich and poor, are happy, creative and functional.  Here in Mexico, even the smallest hovel will sport its razor wire, barking 'watch-dogs' and padlocks.  The notion of shared lands such as those they have in Scandinavia would never work here.  In the coastal cities, Resorts have gobbled up most of the access to attractive beaches.  Lately, I have noticed signs in Spanish declaring that if anyone stops you (molestan!) on the way through to the beach, call the police and a particular journalist.  Good luck!  The drug cartels are another problem.  THAT is what requires a massive groundswell of a very brave revolution in Mexico.  Every person should, at grass roots level, refuse to take their money, supply them with the fertilizers they need to grow their drugs, building materials to construct their fortresses and the priests should deny them entrance to heaven - ever!  Again, it sounds simple, but with all those Russian and American made guns they have at their disposal, there's an imbalance.  The simplest cure would be for the USA to stop buying their products altogether immediately.  Dry up their market.  But tell that to people like Charlie Sheen or to Jay Leno who sniggers at the whole marijuana culture in his monologue.  Ban the narco-ballads as well.  They suck, musically, anyway!

Of course, the trafficking of drugs is, at heart, caused by demand meeting the gap between rich and poor and the fact that it is a 'no skill' profession.

It is tiring tossing these problems around and looking for solutions!  I think I will handball it to Dr. Edward De Bono who, so far, appears to have been silent on the 'war across the border'.  But look out USA, it has begun to creep north and already the deaths are mounting (the burnt-out body-filled car in Arizona last week).  It is time to do something NOW.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

City or Country?

Where would you most like to live?  In the city or in the country?  I have done both and once I was able to zip between each.  At the moment I am staying in the enormous, noisy, dusty and visually over-stimulating city of Guadalajara, Mexico's second city.  The smell of tacos of all kinds is on most corners as pop-up eateries abound.  Sometimes, I just wish I could smell nothing but freshly cut lawn, but there's not much hope of that. Unless I visit a soccer field. I went back to Tonalà, the craft centre of Mexico.  Well, one of the craft centres. Puebla is another.  There are many.  I always think about Stendhal's Syndrome and how the over-stimulation of senses, not just arts, can cause a spin-out.  I think, to a certain degree, the whole world is suffering from visual, aural and sensory overload these days.  It's kind of silly to add to it by scrawling graffiti (no matter how meaningful to oneself) over walls and even as tattoos on one's body. Too much distraction.  Nobody's easily able to get down to work.  There's music and noise all around us in cities.  In rural areas, the luxury of being able to sit on the grass and just listen to nothing but the wind and maybe a distant magpie or kookaburra, is taken for granted.  I long for the quiet of our home in the tiny Aussie town of Snake Valley.  It was beautiful.  But too far from family.  And actually, I could never write there.  I found far too much to do and the days just slid by, sneaking past me before I noticed.

We are never happy!  Ruby slippers can click all they want but these days, it is important to make 'home' where you have to be and not keep circling back to the comfort and serenity of the easy places!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's in a name? The story behind the book title.

I've been asked lately to explain what the name of my book means.  'Calandra's Spring' has a few layers to it:  firstly, the book is about a spring, a geographical feature.  Secondly, it deals with Calandra's own spring awakening, coming into adulthood (although in years she is already an adult).  Lastly, Calandra is another word, Greek, tied to the meaning of the bird 'lark', the harbinger of spring in many cultures.  It may seem a little obtuse, but by the end of the book, you will 'get' it I hope!!

Oh, and please note that in writing this, I have tried to avoid the Oxford commas but with some resistance!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Inviting reviewers to read my book

Just a reminder - if you are a reviewer with a large audience, please contact me and I can send you a free copy of my book to read and give me some feedback.

Sadly, the hundreds of readers who downloaded it for free in the promo period have not bothered to give the book any attention!  Interesting!  I am now assessing the usefulness of the promo period which promises that for every free book you give away, you will sell many more as this is your opportunity to build a loyal 'tribe'.  Waiting, waiting! 

OK, so, FYI, my strategy is as follows:  in July I will re-release the book in a POD format with an ISBN (the latter has been impossible from where I am located at present).

Then I will release the other books sitting on my desktop. So far the covers are not complete.

And then I will report back to anyone who is interested just how this strategy has worked.  To date  I have had neither meaningful bulk feedback, nor enough profit for a good feed! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bureacracy is killing the world - who is to blame?

I've noticed that since 9-11, bureacracy has gone up by the power of 10.  ID, important I know, is now an Olympic sport with hurdles and high jumps a-plenty.  Here we are living in a paperless society, but somebody must be filing all that crap I just photocopied.  Where is that paper mountain?  Does anybody really read it?  I watch Henry Louis Gates' amazingly entertaining show on PBS ('Finding Your Roots') and the availability of documents is impressive all over the world.  Despite wars, someone always has some baptismal or birth/death/marriage records and that is great for our understanding of family tree.  But the mounds of passport photocopies, visas, licences, utility bills and so on must be huge!  What if there were a tsunami near that mound? Would it survive?  Would history?  How is Japan coping with the lack of history (not even the folk-spoken word version) following the earthquake and tsunami in the north.

But when you are trying to complete a simple process and are sent back time after time to dig for more
'evidence' of who you are, photocopied in triplicate, and you realise that you have now spent 3 days on something that should have taken an hour, it seems a ridiculous way to live. I can't wait till we all have some biometric id that replaces all this crap;  I can put my family tree on there too and a digital copy would be fine.  Just remember to keep upgrading to the new formats and save as a backup!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The more you clean ... (house cleaning for dummies, an exercise workout).

Over the course of my long and productive life, I have observed that the more one cleans a house, the more one needs to!  All those little nooks and crannies present themselves for weekly, even daily attention.  Not surprising, here is Mexico, the cleaning required is arduous.  It is probably the dustiest place I have ever lived though before we plugged all its old-age-induced holes and air vents, Snake Valley in Australia was a nightmare.  Once we had sealed that place, it was a delight.  But every day in Mexico in the dry season, housewives long for the dust-free wet season and then deal with mould prevention and cure.  So there is always something.  I think that I am an expert now!  Add to this the fact that cleaning is my favourite way to procrastinate from writing when I have a blockage or plot point that needs mental exercise and chewing over, I excel at cleaning.  When I am on a writing roll, though, I don't get as much done as  could.  It all balances out.  Packing up the house for the move, I found it impossible to move the boxes around and so the floors were not totally cleaned for weeks. After the removalists left, I attacked the house with a broom and there was a BUCKET of fine, black dust, a shovel full coming just from the stairs.  It is exactly 100 steps up and down my stairs (a return trip, that is) and I relish the chance to sprint up and down, doing this 'stair-master' route at LEAST 10 times a day but usually around 20.  That goes a long way towards fulfilling the 10,000 steps we are supposed to walk for our personal fitness.  When I am sweeping the stairs with body bent and a dustpan and brush to avoid clouds of dust going elsewhere, it is an added isometric workout and it gives my shoulders a real challenge.  House-cleaning is amazing exercise if done well.  Stretch to dust the plantations shutters.  Wash the windows with a stretch.  Sweeping exercises the biceps. Squats are always necessary to pick up rubbish.  Washing basket workouts are good too.  Forget the drier.  Put up a clothesline and pick up that basket of wet washing.  Bend the knees.  You are also saving energy and money.  Riot against the HOA anti-washing line rules!  My mother always developed a craving for chocolate on washing and ironing days.  She used plenty of calories in her house that had two flights of stairs.  Cleaning the refrigerator is a good workout too as it needs to be done fast in order to preserve the cold goods. Get down on the floor (stretching cat position) and check for dust  beneath it.  Move it out and brush down the coils at the back (essential for efficiency). Check behind the stove and stretch so that you can clean behind it.  Carry your shopping in recycled bags. They can hold more so are a good weights workout.  Bend the knees though, when you pick them up.

Of course there is more!   See what you can do to save energy, reduce obesity, get fitter and save money at the same time.  And the bonus - it gives you a productive way of procrastinating from your writing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Best time of the year in Puerto Vallarta

This is a pretty exciting time for nature-lovers in Puerto Vallarta.  The birds (many of them exotic, brightly coloured or eccentrically-behaving species) are nesting and there is a constant parade of them flying by with twigs and pieces of grass or straw in their beaks.  I love to leave out some coloured or sparkly threads and watch what the white-collared seed-eaters do with that.  They weave it into their new homes and create pretty tree-ornaments.  Singing and chirping throughout the day, and sometimes at night, the birds in this region are so endearing.  How anyone could shoot a bird mystifies me, but for a while, the house next door featured tenants whose son had a gun.  He would take pot shots at our trees, the birds and lizards who made up the passing population of critters.  Fortunately, they left.  But what amazed me was his overweight, lazy mother's attitude when I complained to her. 'It's not his gun!' was her only comment.  'OK, if you want to play into the stereotype, ' I thought to myself, 'continue being indolent, in denial, fat and blind to the world. And see where that gets you.'  Ultimately, when they moved, the mother developed diabetes, the father had a stroke and the kids all had to leave school and become the wage-earners.  Sad, but I could see it coming in their behaviour from the first time I met them.  They would sit for hours playing dominoes till 3 am night after night, becoming progressively drunker and then lie in the sun all day.  And despite that sun they would wash their clothes in strongly perfumed detergents and fabric softeners and use the clothes drier which would hum away for hours on end. Needless to say, they never paid their electricity bill and the result was a drama that cost their landlord her house.  But that's another story!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh to have time to write!

I'll be very occupied for the next few weeks and writing will be pushed to the backburner.  That makes me surprisingly edgy and irritable something rather like the caffeine jitters! There is no cure!

Donna Summer dies from lung & breast cancer related illness

Sad to see that Donna Summer has lost her battle with multiple cancers. More than many, she was evocative of a whole era, that of disco and I still remember her lovely red beret and stylish presentation.  She was a woman who sang with enormous strength and marked a definite change from the submissive to the dominatrix in her vocals.  Markers of their time such as Donna Summer are rare.  She and Travolta and the Beegees almost were a human glitter-ball for the disco era reflecting the joy of the dancers and singers who would flock to the venues to ape the best moves, including the skyward point, an ungodly Tebow gesture!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Farewells and hellos in the midst of packing.

Here in Puerto Vallarta there is an annual migration of Gringos to the north so that they can avoid the summer.  We have never consciously done that but this year we will be.  Thus, the house must be packed into boxes. It is a process I have been beavering away at over the last few months, de-moulding, dusting as I go. Otherwise, the last minute rush is a killer for sure.  I will be ensconced in Los Angeles and my intention is to re-launch the book with an ISBN, to publish 2 more 'waiting in the wings' books and to see whether they, collectively, will ramp up sales and reviews. 

Anyway, presently it is a round of farewells as the yachties leave and we prepare to do the same, albeit via a circuitous route with some weeks in Mexico City, Guadalajara and surrounds.  Needless to say, we will be careful as the narco-nasties are certainly getting some publicity in the last couple of weeks.  Ulp!  It is so silly and short-sighted of these idiots to kill off the great tourist destinations here. Acapulco, for instance, is truly awful.  So far, Puerto Vallarta is a safe haven and is carefully protected by its diligent armed forces and 3 layers of policing.  Jolly chaps indeed, but I wouldn't want to get them pissed off as I am sure they are itching to use their weapons on a real felon!

Due to the amount of packing required, my writing has been a trifle diminished.  This is what I will rectify when in the USA!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A reality show featuring writers, really????

Some wag suggested an Idol-style show featuring writers.  Well, there have been 'Project Runway' and 'Work of Art' and ... 'Extreme Couponing' so why not some other show that observes grass growing but making entertainment from the (usually) staged conflicts within.  The problem is, writing is such a solitary occupation unless you work in the Writers' Room at Letterman or SNL.  Those rooms bristle with tension, forced laughter, self-congratulatory appreciation of wit, panic at being 'dry', panic at being late with a deadline and other emotions.  I know.  Because I have been there.  What usually happens with those writer teams is that the producer will just throw more and more writers at the problem. Outsiders are not welcome.  But sometimes new blood will tilt the humour to a different plateau and magic happens.  Observing every comedy show on TV, I have noticed the similarity and the plumbing the depths when pure wit or Pythonesque silliness fail.  The writers dig into the dope references, blue llanguage, double entendres.  Old-fashioned.  Tried and true jokes.  Jay Leno does this every night. And for Jay, his fall-back is the applause button.  Umm, laughter would be far more pleasant for the viewer to witness (Jon Stewart & Colbert just have laughter and the occasional whoop!).  But the whole monologue on Jay's tired ol' show is over-seasoned with disciplined applause, reactions to any mention of marijuana (so darn inappropriate to Jay's own lifestyle) and boom-tish on cue from the band.  Oh, heck.  Will a reality show DARE visit the room where this plastic wit is fed his lines?  No, I don't think so.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Working on the new book

It's hard to tweet, blog and follow Facebook when you are really focused on writing a book.  The challenge is to keep all the characters in your head and on your outline plot/cards however you may do it as you get to those moments when they take on a life of their own.  Tracking consistency but avoiding predictability is the challenge.  I have two completed books but they now need covers and I want to step these up a notch.  Clearly, the Kindle listings do weird things to formatting and cover graphics.  My pictures for 'Calandra's Spring' looked awesome.  My designer is very good. But when reduced by Kindle's system, the font was not good.  And I left in a phantom 'by' in there.  Check it out, see what you think and all you pros out there, your comments and feedback are very welcome!

Back to the desk!

Maurice Sendak dies

Maurice Sendak, the creator of 'Where the Wild Things Are', to many a heart-wrenching tale of the difficulty of growing up encased in a metaphoric kingdom of scary animals, has died aged 83.  The world has lost a creative mind, but his ideas and images will live on generations past the day he sat down to craft this tale and his other works.  Isn't this something that writers want to achieve?  If so, how come the 'business' of writing is now more of a marketing sausage machine than it has ever been?  And the character of the 'writer' is now necessarily a marketing guru of sorts, far removed from that quiet, solitary garret so vital to the creation and crafting of something of worth.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Reviews and are they needed?

I have had a small number of reviews but each was well-considered, constructive and positive so I am not begging the readers who downloaded the book for free in the Kindle promo to post an opinion on amazon.com.  However, it would have been nice to have a little feedback.  It all helps, not just for the marketing of the book but also to make me a better writer.  Any feedback is welcome.

Eternal youth - worth it or not?

If you could live for ever at any age without becoming a vampire, would you do it?   This is a theme in 'Calandra's Spring' and we follow the heroes to a spring from which an elixir can be drawn.  The pros and cons of staying young are examined.  If you had the chance, would you stay young?  If so, how young?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Report on Kindle Free Promo period

Did it work?  Did it not work?  Hmmm, yet to be seen as at this moment, the sales have flatlined and I am seriously considering a re-design and re-release some time later. If you were one of the almost 800 people who downloaded 'Calandra's Spring' for free, it would be fabulous if you could write a review as I would love your feedback (constructive, please).  Sadly, it may have been an exercise in cannabalism and nobody, to date, from that period has written a word.  A few 'likes' but then they could be friends, I have no way of telling.  The method of marketing on KDP is definitely affected by the 'type & click' books that have flooded the market, unproofed, 'wham bam thankyou ma'am' in their stories and concepts or 'how-to' books that really, are a 'moron's guide to what you already knew but needed reassurance about'.  Do I sound like a cynic?  Is the KDP free promo time more about amazon.com getting hits on its side that is smothered with advertising, sky-rocketing distribution figures (which, like fireworks, smoulder and die and perhaps fall to earth) and achieving little else?  Are sales the only measure of a 'good read'?

Can you tell that I am disappointed?  Mmmmmmm, you betcha.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Warm and fuzzy books versus angst inducing ones.

Actually, I like a bit of both.  Books that terrify, (War & Peace, Little Bee) disturb (eg. anything by Kafka) or mildly frighten (pulp fiction including good old Agatha Christie books) can be good reads.   Warm and fuzzy would include 'Le Grand Meaulnes' and 'Cutting for Stone'  and so many other feel-good stories (Eat, Pray, Love).  The trick is to combine the fright with affectionate moments and then you have a classic.  I think that much of the work of Zola, Hugo and most of the French classic writers do that, squeezing terror out historical moments and happiness out of small moments of resolution along the way.  I will think about this and see if I can build a list.  Feel free to send your favourites.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Should writers make trailers for their books?

The craft of writer becomes ever more demanding as it seems more evident that the full marketing chore falls on the writer's shoulders.  When will there be time to actually WRITE books??  Time is spent blogging, promoting, Tweeting, Facebooking but this is the best I have seen.  Thriller writer Greg Stenson has created little film trailers to promote his books.

Check it out here:
http://www.gregstensonwriter.com/video-trailer.html

Publicity for 'Calandra's Spring'

A press release did make it through the clutter and can be found at:

http://tinyurl.com/bpo3o78

Check out that site as it is a good way to send the news of your creation around. Every little helps!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Travel and write about it.

I have been a reader of Lonely Planet and other guide books for decades and love them all.  I was kind of shocked, though, when a friend who was a writer for (NOT Lonely Planet) a well-known guide (and note, this is pre-internet) told me that he constantly wrote about places he had never been.  He wrote some florid prose about New Guinea for a glossy mag and that really cheesed me off as I had been there years ago and the place was poles apart from any of his descriptions.  If you are a budding travel writer, you need to find a truthful voice for depicting your story.  We recently were in the Czech Republic and I could slam that place in my writing if I really wanted to.  We had a less than fabulous experience and the food was not good. Hotwire was a complete fail for our booking and we would have had a miserable time had it not been for the amazing opera house and theatres in Prague and the fact that we laughed every day (at not with the people for the most part).  Get out into the suburbs and life is a long way from the Prague Disneyland.  However, I would never tell anyone not to go. but DO validate your ticket on the buses immediately REGARDLESS of what you may read or be told.  We didn't and were heavily fined.  Innocent.  We had paid and were leaving the next day.

As well, don't buy a ticket if you are over 70 as you can travel free!

Travel books need to contain lots of snippets of info like this but in bullet points so that they are easy to scan by the stressed and disoriented traveller.  Also, maps need to contain the suburbs in order to cater for Hotwire and their strange definition of what the centre of the city really is!

I love travel almost more than anything as long as I have access to computers, my iPod and a clean place to sleep.  Not fond of back-packing these days.  Though it did give me a chance meeting with Jimi Hendrix in Paris, but, as a classical music nerd, I was not that impressed at the time at this really charming guy who came to meet his drug pusher at my backpackers' hotel.   But that's another story.

Here's a good way to advertise your book

http://newbookblogger.blogspot.mx/
There is a button at the right but it won't copy to my blog.  Shall have to deal with that. However, this generous woman has offered to post all new or interesting books. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

That last post

... was just me recording that we made it to #46 on the rankings.

Got to #46 Best seller in Contemporary Fiction Kindle! Yaaay!


Last day of Free Promo giveaway for "Calandra's Spring'

If you haven't taken advantage of the free giveaway of 'Calandra's Spring', today is the last day!  Every book 'purchased' helps me push up my rankings on amazon so the fact that I don't make money is not a problem.  All I ask is that you tell your friends to buy it and if you can manage, write a review (no matter how short!).

Enjoy the read!

Friday, April 27, 2012

When does 'viral' become annoying?

The first real awareness of Viral Marketing was with that dancing baby that swept around our massive computers back in 1996. Baby Cha Cha was a beta for computer animation and formed the basis of a sample source file causing a great deal of re-working and creative re-use.  It was used in Ally MacBeal which was a programme I detested so I always found it annoying when people would send me their jokes containing this rather clever piece of pioneering work.

I have been trying to get some kind of 'pyramid' effect - viral marketing - happening for my book, and to a certain extent, I think it works better if you have a Facebook full of disparate, not-friends-really, collected names.  Friends are too hesitant to buy your book even if it is free as the thought of giving you an honest critique freaks most of them out!!  Let me state - that's not me.  I am so used to be critiqued in every way for work that I am used to it.  Water off a duck's back.  Personal attacks are annoying though and it is hard to detach from that and go for the defence of the 1950s 'You're just jealous!' with a poked out tongue!

Anyway, I have hounded and pestered my friends for a few days and I hope that they will forgive and realise that I would support them in their endeavours.  I have one more free day left on amazon and then, who knows, it just may keep rolling along? Heaven knows it is cheap enough at $2.99!

So many old-fashioned links on the web

I've been combing the web for good ideas for promoting 'Calandra's Spring' and have been exceedingly frustrated by the whole shebang.  So many of the articles were written around 2007-9 and are no longer fresh!  People should at least update their content.  This is why the A-Z idea is a good one.  It does encourage people to look at their blogs on a daily basis.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

WWCD? What would Calandra do?

I am writing my next Calandra adventure and, now that she is an adult, still with a child's perspective, it is interesting to plot out her actions and reactions to the plot-lines.  What is the moral standpoint of a woman/child?

In the meantime, buy book one and try to make it a best-seller.  The best time is NOW while it is free on promotion.

Feels as though I am watching an eBay item ...

So my book is on amazon.com and I have found the reports and also the ranking on their site.  I hover in the late 40s on the Contemporary Fiction Kindle ranking which is not too bad really.  But I click in every hour and when it drops a point, ohhhhhhh, it's distressing!  It reminds me of the despair I felt when selling a Lalique crystal cat and was silly enough to start it low.  It sold for a ridiculously low price though it was a genuine antique one and not made by Rene's grand-children's factory.  That's how I feel when my book, the result of much insomnia and hard work, stops selling. 

At the moment it is on free promo so hurry in and download it before that period expires or else buy it afterwards.  As well, if you buy it for free, please review the book or at least tick the Like button (if that is how you feel!).

Hard work this marketing and I wonder how those astronomically high sellers get to their positive tipping point!

Zyxt is the last word in the dictionary

'Zyxt' which is an obsolete Kentish word apparently means (you) saw (ie. the 2nd singular indicative present form of the verb 'to see'). And, by golly, I tried my darndest to use it in a sentence some time today but I have failed. This is the last word in the Online version of the OED.  However, a bit of combing the web turned up 'zyzzyva' which is a tropical American weevil, a heck of a lot easier to write about.  It seemed as though it may have been a word created through onomatopoeia but no, a quick look at Wikipedia (that never lies ...) says that the word may have been fabricated so that it would always be positioned last in any index.  It is a pretty insect indeed but, as a weevil, is born to munch and probably made its mark on the Brazilian forests where it was first discovered by an Irish entomologist, Tom Casey.

It is roughly ant sized (the reference doesn't say what size ant!). Neither does it say what it eats or if it has any known predators.

This leads me, in a convoluted way, to the actual point of this article.  When you are writing, be sure to ask yourself all those lead questions that a curious person may put to you in a conversation.  Don't be content to leave your descriptions as loose as 'the zyzzyva was ant-sized' but do some research in detail and then work out which facts will suit your story arc.  Balzac was a master of this sort of interesting 'gossip' which, like the works of Proust, Hugo and Zola, became vital historical clues on what Paris once was like.

In the meantime, if you see a zyzzyva on your plants, try to figure out what it eats and add that to the Wikipedia listing!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Progress with the book distribution!

'Calandra's Spring' is now 46th on the amazon.com top 100 contemporary fiction free promo list!!!!!!!!

Ruby-red grapefruit/tequila marmalade

Call me a procrastinator, (Ok, no need to) but I am whipping up a few jars of ruby-red grapefruit marmalade with tequila in there.  I love the taste of tequila as a flavouring in jams or cakes and also in stews.  Its smoky sweetness is unbeatable.  And the alcohol is burned off in the cooking process so just the taste is left. No getting woozy over the brekky toast! 

What have I put n the back-burner?  Well, it is that awful publicity trail for my book.  I am on free promo at amazon.com for the next 4 days and have been boring my friends to death sending out the news.  I am presently at 687 in amazon rankings.  Hoping to make it int the top 100 before the end of the promo time!  If you can help ...

Kindle Promo progress

Ok, so this has been interesting.  There has been a steady climb in downloads, but there is no way (unless I have missed something in the pages of info I have read about doing this to promote a book) to figure out how far up the scale that this exercise (in which I make not a penny) will take me. It seems that amazon.com really relies on writers to starve in a garret in order to make their products (Kindles) more attractive to purchase.  After all, who wouldn't buy one of these low-priced gadgets knowing that there will always be a parade of free stuff available!

Nevertheless, I still encourage you to download 'Calandra's Spring' in the next few days.  Feeling generous.

Weather check - Puerto Vallarta!

Perfect at the moment!
Better 'walking on the beach' weather than 'trying to market my book' weather.

Highly recommend this place at this time of the year - pool is perfect, sea water temperature comfortable and plenty to see, eat and do!

Come on down!

Xenophobia a theme in 'Calandra's Spring'

'Xenophobia' is a word that Australians will perpetually associate with politician, Pauline Hanson, when famously asked a 60 minutes reporter 'please explain?' in response to a question which used the word.  The world laughed but it was no laughing matter.  Had this woman gained power, Australia would have been sent back to the boring 1950s when the only Chinese food was anglicized and required you to bring your own saucepan to the store to pick up your 'special fried rice' sans exciting Asian ingredients, deemed too spicy for the Aussie palate.  Fortunately, the island has become a stopping point for more than 150 nationalities.  In many ways, it is far more cosmo than Mexico where I am at the moment.  There the population looks largely the same.  The vibrant Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane mix is missing.  I was in Mexico when I wrote 'Calandra's Spring' and it does reflect my dismay at the absence of my cultural melting pot.  Especially in the food area!  Mind you, the food in 'Calandra's Spring' reflects more of my trip to Eastern Europe. (Would you like cabbage with that?).

The Gypsy groups and the Japanese woman are all subjected to discrimination.

Buy the book, read it and review it.  See if you pick up these themes!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Promo days on Kindle - free download of my book

Seems to be going well.  If you don't have a copy - now's the time.  Or you could wait and pay for it in 5 days!! :-)

Thanks for the support to date, everyone!

'Youth' a state worth being trapped in?

Youth, its superiority as an age and the search for the magic fountain are very current issues.  At no other time in history have the young been so dominant.  Dick Clark may have unleashed a monster when he invented (or at least fostered) the teenager!  This was a fairly recent development in sociology. 1950s saw the growth of this mobile, cashed-up and auto-licensed group which quickly became the demographic for new business.  They spent up big, they detached from their homes earlier and caused havoc.  In 'Mad Men' we see the pitches that thrust at the pockets of this group (time: mid-60s) with Peggy's failed Heinz campaign and others.  Nowadays, youth is revered to the point of thousands of products being invented to keep those 'youthful good looks' (but not the acne, puppy fat and other unpleasant side effects of being young).  Every second commercial is for some expensive cosmetic or treatment.

We all want to live forever. Unless we have some awful affliction, dementia possibly being the worst option. Ponce de León was a seeker and many of his explorations had the fountain of youth as the goal.

See how this pans out in my book as these issues are all relevant and inspirational to the story-line of 'Calandra's Spring'.

Download now for amazon.com discounted price or even free f you have Amazon Prime.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007IX4NI2

Monday, April 23, 2012

Well, I didn't notice the bit ...

that said we didn't need to blog on Sundays!!  Hence, my alphabet is cock-eyed and premature but hey, it will keep things interesting!

Winks and Nods to other creatives

Winks and nods to other creatives are often part of the style of writers, filmmakers, composers and artists of all kinds.  Imagine Quentin Tarantino without his sly allusions to all his heroes! Somehow, he pulls it off without being too crazily pretentious as his stories are solid and characters interesting.  'Law and Order' features one that has always mystified me - the character 'Detective Munch' who may or may not be based on one of the world's earliest TV detectives, originally played by that stellar Australian actor, the late Bud Tingwell.  It was, in that case, Al Munch and the original series was shot on film, in Australia for USA release only, never seen locally.  I wonder whether Munch was a salute to Bud?

Australian director, Mark Savage (a B-movie, schlock genre director who has fans all around the world) sprinkles his movies with allusions which reflect his interests.  Do they advance the plot?  You will have to make up your own mind on this.

Because I am not a fan of winks and nods in any field as sometimes they are clear short-cuts to story-line and setting the scene and seem inserted lazily rather than intelligently.  Names of characters can be pillaged from classics (witness the number of times vampire stories recycle the classic names).

In my book, 'Calandra's Spring', the girl is Calandra D'Arcy not just because she is a feisty, proud girl, but to reflect her cosmopolitan yet Anglo background and the romantic quality that her mother overlaid onto her when she was named.   I thought long and hard about this as I didn't want people to read the name and assume she was a girl version of the 'Pride' part of Jane Austen's book.  Ultimately, I just liked the ring of the name and it did take on a life of its own.

Any thoughts on this?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Verisimilitude the key to a good story.

'Verisimilitude' or the appearance of reality, is possibly the most important factor in a story.  We know, for instance, that when one is taking sheets of the line, it is impossible to ascend into heaven, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez made it seem perfectly logical in '100 Years of Solitude' (great title by the way!).  It is very important to establish a sense of consistent logic in your story, whether that is in regard to something that has a quality of fantasy, magic or ridiculousness about it.  Books by Ben Elton have the latter, but they have a consistent thread.  Part of the writer's craft is to research those elements that make the narrative flow without the reader hitting speed-bumps of inconsistency along the way.  That can be geographical, character/action, language and dialogue used or any number of things and it's why the process of writing is called 'craft'.  You stitch it together over and over until you have balance of design, fabric and neatness!   The latter, by the way, isn't necessarily boring or pedantic.  I have read many books that contain long lists of description (works of Balzac, Proust and yachting expert Doug Danielson for instance) but these passages add to the realism of the story in each case.  How you tie your detail to the story is the key and you need to avoid swamping the story arc in diversions that, ultimately, could have been deleted by a sharp editor.  Descriptions need to advance the narrative.  Your reader needs to believe in a sense of place that you create and re-create your characters in his/her mind's eye. What you are doing is boosting the imagination of the readers, taking them to places you want them to go.  I love it when I have written something and people describe a character and I am able to say 'That's exactly how she was conceived in my mind'.  That's a golden moment for any writer.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

'Undine' the water spirit an influence in my book

'Undine' the water spirit, has always had a fascination for me.  The play of water with its hidden community, magical properties and its essential quality for all beings on this blue planet, pulled me in when I was just a child.  I owned a large, red book of stories, bought for me by my Dad.  We shopped for it at the Melbourne University annual book fair in Australia.  I read the book until it was tattered, at which time, we moved house and Dad threw it away.  I was devastated as it had had such a profound influence on me, setting a base of myth and broad literature, vital to my success at University and trivia nights!!

When I had children of my own, I was determined that they should also have that experience. Each school holiday we combed the junk shops and antique malls until I tracked down a pristine copy.  I was so happy.  The children were pleased for me, but less than excited at its musty odour.  And somehow, the tales appeared a bit hackneyed.  Though the art nouveau illustrations by Arthur Rackham went down well.  We all agreed that the tale of Undine was terribly sad.   It told of a childless couple who lived by the sea.  One day, a small child appeared.  She was wandering along the beach, alone, wet and covered with seaweed.  The couple adopted her, caring for her meticulously and lovingly.  Unknown to them, she had materialised from the water, needed to be loved by a human, bear a human child and would be awarded with a soul and the ability to live as a woman.  She was warned by the spirits not to go near the water or she would be returned to the deep.  Well, we've all seen The Little Mermaid, so the ending is no surprise. She neither found love nor heeded the warning and tragically, she drowned, her body cast off and turned into foam.

In my book, 'Calandra's Spring', water, or the lack of it, is vital.  The 'spring' is not a season.  You will need to read it to see exactly what it is!

Happy reading, and please tell your friends about my book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This is a really good site

Check it out!

http://masqueradecrew.blogspot.mx/

'Timing' is everything

'Timing' is so much at the heart of whether your book will have sales or just join the slush pile of proposals on an agent's desk, the millions of self-published offerings on the web in various forms or sitting in boxes, unsold, beneath your bed.  If we could all figure out the trends well-enough in advance in order to ride them, reshape them or, at best, set them, we would all be well-rewarded for that time we spend striving.  At present, the world is flooded with books about vampires and werewolves.  Not my cuppa, really, though I love Eastern European settings and these books often include those elements.  What I have noticed though, is that those classic elements are transplanted into a present-day society and stories of ancient archetypes battling with today's technology seems to be selling.

My book, 'Calandra's Spring', has that aspect, as it deals with an ancient spring that has magical properties.  How the contemporary characters are affected forms the story.

If you enjoy that kind of tale, which mixes science, environmental concerns, criminals and a love story, then please go to amazon.com by clicking on the book cover on the right and buy the book while it is free or cheap (free to amazon prime customers).  I would also love your feedback!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

S is for Sex, of course!

So how does one write sex scenes in a book without being prurient?  There's a line that I prefer not to cross and I think it is a matter of taste.  Some people write great sex scenes - Henry Miller's were gruelling, tinged with cruelty but totally engrossing.  Others do not (Scott Turow for instance who reaches into the cornball bag for his descriptions.) It is the same with film.  Taste and subtlety play a great role here.  Having said this, the photo above is something that has absolutely no subtlety about it!

Ahhhh, the sounds, sights of the great outdoors suddenly take on a whole new meaning!

Happy 'S' day people!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Relaxing, recreation and reading good books.

Relaxing, recreation and reading good books.  Can you ever have too much of it?  At present, I am in the beautiful resort city of Puerto Vallarta.  If you haven't been there, mark it on your list as a friendly, welcoming town and you will never run out of things to do, restaurants to try and beaches to stroll.  There is a strong Writers' Group in PV and you, even when visiting, are welcome to join in the meetings.  Holiday towns are so much nicer when you know someone and the locals enjoy meeting people from outside.  There is a Facebook page (Puerto Vallarta Writers Group) which will tell you where they meet and when.  Be sure to check it out and make contact.

'Relaxing' seems to be what the population down here likes to do most, but there are still some energetic souls who follow their pursuits and plenty of activity everywhere.  There are masses of books down here for a few pesos also (check out the Los Mangos Library where donated, recycled books are sold as a fundraiser).  As well, your Kindle will work.  So grab that good read, find the nearest hammock and plonk yourself in it.  Ignore the USA warnings about drug cartels, violence and so on.  The worst that can happen to you here is a hangover, a stubbed toe on the cobblestones.  But if you stick to organic tequila, the former won't happen and the roads are being renovated at the moment so the latter may soon be a thing of the past.

Come on down!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Queens make great reading!

Queens I have always loved to read about include Boadacea, Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth 1st and 2nd, Catherine the Great and oh, so many others.  What is the pull of royalty that makes a steamy book steamier, a life of luxury so much luxurious and the adventures much more exciting?  I guess at the root it is money and power.  These qualities are in spades amongst royalty.  It is the 'Dallas' factor - even a bitch can be greatly entertaining.

Reading about the royals of Britain is fun as these days, the real 'facts' seem to be emerging.  So many of the old Kings were Queens!  There is a book about Marina of Kent which tells all.  It seems to have been really well researched and I lent my copy to my uncle and he didn't ever return it so sadly, I cannot share the details here.  It may have been by James Wentworth Day.  He has written a number of royal books.


Anyway, regardless of the hair-curling horrors of the life of Catherine the Great, the book I read about Marina was by far the most fascinating.  


Money and power sells and I guess it will always be like that.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Polish, polish, polish!!!!

Put simply, the best books are those which have been polished to perfection by their writers:  think Flaubert, Zola, Balzac and many other French writers.  Don't think Jeffrey Archer, Grishman, Barbara Cartland or any of the other atrocities of commercial writing.  Had the latter writers spent more time on the 'polish' they may have avoided some of the hackneyed descriptions and continuity errors that litter their pages.

Then again, maybe they wouldn't have sold as many books, either.  Perhaps I am proposing a new category entirely:  'Hick Lit'!!  Churn it out, smother the world with it featuring a garish, sexy cover, stick to a theme and there you have it!  A runaway success. Or a 'runaway jury'.  I think that many of the latest vampire books fall into this category as do many YA tales which are presently flooding the markets.  These books are filling shelves that could hold better written stories!

It is not, strictly speaking, true to say that the market decides what is good or  bad.  After all, McDonald's, KFC and their ilk are amazing franchises purveying total crud and look how quickly they tapped into the collective base instinct of man to be lazy and greedy!  The Harry Potter franchise is pretty much a parallel to this: a supersized kids' book with less real content than it should have.  But successful?  Heck yeah!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

On the subject of 'Chick Lit' 'Lit Fic' etc. versus 'Hit Lit' ...

On the subject of writing books to sell, here's a link to an article about top selling books.

Do you want to be in their ranks?

Well, often, that means writing tripe.

http://tinyurl.com/6lkmey6

It's up to you!

One's grammar can marketh the man ...


'One' is somewhat formal but it does have uses and can be effective.  It's not just restricted to Prince Charles.  It's part of a complex structure of language called 'grammar'.

Believe it or not, grammar has a use.  Just like our skeletal structure holds the human body erect, grammar is the structure of our language, creating 'rules' that standardise meaning.  If you mess with grammar (eg. how the words 'bad' and 'sick' have changed in meaning over the last generation) the language becomes more of a code than a device for communication.  Putting clauses in the wrong place, using verbs incorrectly, being sloppy about the spelling or pronunciation of people's names is not just annoying to an audience or reader, it is often warping the intended meaning.  Bad grammar can also be used to great effect in writing the voice of certain characters.

Language misuse can also  ear-mark or exclude a group in society, robbing them of opportunities in life.
 And, contrary to what most people believe, it is not just French that has 'grammar'!

Over the months I will include some helpful 'cheats' to make your spoken word and written language more effective. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Niester - the river that runs through 'Calandra's Spring'

The River Niester (Dniester, Nistru or one of many alternate spellings) is the heart and soul of Transnistria, the country in which most of the action of 'Calandra's Spring' takes place.  This exotic land is the renegade state of Eastern Europe, a breakaway territory of Moldava which went independent (but not recognised) in 1992.  From then on, all kinds of illegal activities form part of the unofficial economy there - gun-running, piracy, intellectual copyright crime on a high level, counterfeiting and more.  It's a shame as the land itself is as attractive as the rest of the region, yet we are warned not to visit.  It has a high government alert from foreign affairs departments.

Explore this region - you will see that there is not much on the internet.   There are a few similar states that have a similar identity crisis such as the post USSR 'frozen conflict' nations of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.   Seceded 'countries' exist all over the world and many have active industries in selling honorific titles, local stamps, visas and other quirky souvenirs.  Some even sell university degrees.  The best buy is to purchase a title so if you want to be a 'Princess' or 'Prince' check this out.  And if you want one from a legitimate nation, try this:
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/royal2.html

It doesn't seem to be a bad deal and in a couple of generations, the world will forget that you, an unemployed hippie from Bangor actually created your esteem by forking out your dole money to transform yourself into a Baron!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Multi-cultural themes in 'Calandra's Spring' make this book filmable

When I was writing 'Calandra's Spring', the characters grew, with their personalities expanding as I plunged deeper into their stories.  The narrative led this process, taking me to Japan, Eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Paris and London.  This was not random, but a result of the mechanics of the story - where would these people function best? Who would behave like this? and many other 'what ifs' became part of my daily life.  At my side was a large Atlas and I would consult it every day, then further researching each place and ethnicity, particularly those of the Gypsies, until I decided on what to include.  I own a Gypsy dictionary and my mother had told me much of the folklore when I was very young. Who knew then, that it would be so useful!  I am glad the lives of my characters intersect across so many borders as life is, at its be, a multicultural feast!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

'Literary fiction' the kiss of death for agents and publishers?

'Lit-Fic? Oh no!' my prospective agent groaned, 'Don't tell me you see your book as Lit-fic?  And 'discontinuous narrative? Pleeeeeeeeeaaaase.'  Well, that was how she told me 'thanks, but no thanks' and brushed me off her shoulder like a speck that had missed the 'Head'n'Shoulders' treatment.

It seems, these days, that YA is selling.  But all that really means is that it was picked up a year or so ago.  That market is saturated.  Who are the readers of quality books?  I have noticed so many 'non-books' being picked up and adopted as the new darlings of the scene that the definition of something popular eludes me.  Women still outnumber men, YA readerships are burgeoning - for now, at least.  But what if you are not a Harlequin/YA/Mills & Boon style of writer?  Where does a book fit?

I have combed through the massive tomes (both in print and at http://www.writers.net) of agent/publisher listings and came to the conclusion that there are really very few active or independent publishing houses.  The small ones are extremely cautious as they can't afford to lose money and the majors are extremely cautious because their shareholders will cane them for losing money.

My book, 'Calandra's Spring', (blatant plug: available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007IX4NI2) is a solo effort - no agents, no publishing house.  It is selling at a rate of molasses in mid-winter.  Short of aping 'Coupon Suzy' and buying some network commercial time, I don't know what else I can do.  I have written to many people to ask them to review the book.  The silence is deafening.

I am sure that a lot of you bloggers have great ideas on how to start that viral sweep.  Come on!  Bernie Madoff's Ponzi schemes took off so darn fast and the viral spread of the pictures of that handsome marathon guy should be our model for publicising our books.  Can we help each other?  Perhaps a Project Greenlight for books exists?  Or for publicity for new books?


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Knowledge - especially for locations - is crucial for writers

The Knowledge comes down to hard slog!

London cabbies have it - that learned off by heart geography they call 'The Knowledge'.

But how does a writer get to know all about a place where their book's action takes place?  This is so much easier today with TV documentaries, photo services like Getty Images, even good old WikiPedia.  One of my favourite resources for out of the way places (ones I have never visited) is to read all the travel books (Lonely Planet, for one) and encyclopaedias (even the old ones) and do some hard slog research.  If I am still feeling insecure about the place, I will go so far as to contact a local and have a chat. My book 'Calandra's Spring' is, for the most part, set in places I have visited and stayed for an extended time - Paris, New Zealand, Australia - but Transnistria?  I have travelled in Eastern Europe, at least close enough so that I can make some assumptions, but I researched the places quite carefully, including cuisine, the state of their roads, the architecture and many other aspects in order to write about the place.  I had also seen a number of current affairs programmes over the years dealing with the nation's renegade quality.  One day it would be nice to have the kind of pre-sales that were handed out to Robert Ludlum and Jeffrey Archer, the money to travel to one's book location while writing it.  So many writers have the ability to sit in a hotel room and just observe the subject - but for now, I just gain the Knowledge the old fashioned way!

This is my 'K' topic for April 'A-Z'!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jokes in storylines

Jokes in story-lines can be terribly distracting.  I have three friends who write extremely well, but just when you are becoming attached to characters and plot, wham! they put in something really gross, inappropriate, or just a lame line from a comedy routine.  It takes you out of the moment and the action deflates as you gasp at the wrongness of it all. Maybe my gross-out meter is low or something, but I hate it when a story is dominated by bodily functions.  Even those ghastly children's books by Paul Jennings were, in my opinion, long on fart jokes and short on story.  Cheap devices to get the children of Joe Average buying books and sniggering as they read them. Many adult books suffer from the same fate.  And it is a shame when something with potential is wrecked by self-indulgence.

Whew! I realise I JUST made it to 10th April (J).

In the beginning there was a flint ...

In the beginning there was a flint to chisel out symbols on a rock.  Hard to imagine that writing has come so far and that now we have amazing machines to do the hard yards for us.  I thought the golf ball typewriter was so cool when I was a kid. My mother used one in her secretarial job and she was a stickler on perfect layout of work and a mistake proof page.  Now even my book will write - well, that is the magic Kindle Fire and I can send messages to people via all kinds of applications within its smart, leather cover.  I wonder what the writing of the future will be? Holograms?  I am hoping that ESP doesn't catch on.  Sometimes, I would rather my somewhat drunken, aggressive neighbour's quiet-as-a-mouse, submissive wife would not know the angry vibes I am sending towards her spouse. 

And other times, as I check out the increasingly obese figures of the locals, I am glad they can't read my mind as I think 'Que gorda!!'.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hick nation is revealed by speech.

Ok - do you sometimes have to scratch your head and wonder what language that checkout chick was talking when she was processing your order and then realise it was just 'Aussie'?  From time to time we will post some of the best Ocker clangers that make us all sound like hicks.  And sadly, it's not just from tradies and checkout chicks.  It is from some of those Professors at RPA, from teachers, journos and hosts and people who should know better and who should value good speech.

Not sure what the solution is.  It comes from poor role models, from bogan parents and badly-trained teachers.

Obama at least speaks well most of the time, but sadly, he occasionally gets down with his white-trash roots and talks the way they do.  Let's out all these poor speakers.

Your input is appreciated! Send me your examples and I will post them here.

The following are some I prepared earlier!

1. Rachel Perkins in the episode of 'First Australians' on Pastor Doug Nicholls actually said 'Nu-cu-lar'! That was a surprise.  but it was a shock that no producer actually stopped her and asked for another take!  This show is sloppy, underfunded, underresourced, under-illustrated beyond belief.  Pathetic bit of E.P. work. See review in reviews section.

2.  Reporter on Today Tonight 19th Nov 2008 in Prison hospital story : 'There's 100s of security cameras ...' ) should be 'There ARE 100s'.  Makae subject and verb agree.

3. Sarah Harris (9 network sometime newsreader & journo, previously busted for dropping the magic word on TV forgetting all about radio mikes!).  Her accent is very disturbing.  She stresses the word 'has' in every sentence but pronounces it 'haaarz', Canadian style.  Her delivery is awful and her scripts are littered with misplaced clauses and disagreeing subject/verb construction.  Oh, and they have plucked her eyebrows way too much to balance with her rather prominent jaw.
HOT NIGHT 1980

Languid litanies of night bird and frogs
Test the strength of my meditation.
The air hangs from hot terracotta
A preying mantis licks sticky aphids off a vine
To soothe his parched body.
Only ants swarm.

IN THE PIECE BATTERY 1979-80
Three rows of grey-coated workers sit apart from the mob
Straddling slick-oiled swivelling stools with names inscribed.
Fingers fly from alphabet heaps, midas-touched, shining
Swiftly poked, deftly prodded with practised precision.
Darting keen eyes that flash and flicker,
No lumbering labourers, hourly paid!
A page has a price in the piece battery.
(Untouched lunch wilts near finished blocks,
Six columns more buys kids' school socks.)
Yet twelve months pass and life moves on.
This frenzied skill is now long gone.
 

A great list about writing

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If you want to call yourself a writer and would like to make a living from the craft, it is imperative to read this list:

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2009/05/eighteen-challenges-in-contemporary-literature
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 June 2009 09:26 )
 

SOME POEMS - NOW I CAN THROW OUT THE ORIGINALS

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AT THE FIRST WHIFF OF LILAC

Companion to Delius' 'First Cuckoo'
Your clustered Lenten purple
Throbbing with unseemly primal passion
seduces all who bustle by.

Twist their well-honed purpose
until blunted
by your heady, drunken, gasped-in drug
Urging them to seek out mates,
And lying, intoxicated by you
learn again the slumbering green.


'POV FAVORING ...'

When I talk of Levi Strauss

You only think of jeans.

And Freud for you, is the way chips are cooked.

Shelley is the back beach at Rye.

Brecht clears the morning cattarh, that sensuous desert land.

But somehow, we get along.

For I have the books of a philosopher.

You have the soul.




A MELODRAMA WITH THREE VILLAINS

'Madam, I'm Adam,' he said to Eve, 'Gardening is m'line.'
Thus he gave her a Cook's tour around Paradise
Expounding the Law Divine.
'You were made from m'rib by the Mighty Lord.
With me, you can help rule the roost.
Bog in, help yourself to Nature's Reward,
Kindly leaving Forbidden Fruits.'

Surrounded by angels and nurtured by God, they thrived in ignorant bliss
Till Eve, in vulnerable solitude,
Was beguiled by a flattering hiss.
The Talking Snake set her on new trains of thought
Touching on how she'd improve
If she nibbled the fruit without being caught
'Come on, girl, you're stuck in a groove!'

With gusto, Eve slurped on the apple she pinched
Hoping its powers would act soon.
When Adam caught her at it she scarcely flinched,
Just sang him the serpent's tune.

The promise of knowledge, too great to resist,
Led Adam to hold out HIS hand.
Raphael's trumpet called, 'Obey! Oh desist!'
Fading fast from that distant land.

When God found them huddling, clad all in leaves
He gave them their marching orders.
Death, pain and sin, disobedience achieves!
Erring parents! That's all you ensured us!

THE WEIGHT OF BEING LOVED

The weight of love
crushes the helium lightness of  loving or just being.
Feel the grinding of another's hurt.
Your face moistened by another's tears.
Love punctures bubbles of frothy joy
Leaving a residue of damp, cold, a grey puddle.
Statistics? There is none. But this is an observation.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 August 2009 20:56 )
 

DIY publishing

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Self-publishing is a great exercise because what it does is teach you the whole publishing business. step by step. I released a book called 'Kulture Vulture' many years ago and couldn't get it published and when I did the numbers, I realised that to keep the profit in my pocket rather than hand over 90% to a publisher would make more sense anyway.  So I did it!  I had a terrific printer who helped me every step of the way and a wonderful manual.  I was also assisted by the late and great Wendy Lowenstein and it was a privilege tohave known her.

These days that assistance comes via the net so I will make this a list of DIY resources I have found.

http://www.oceanpublishing.com.au/
... even though they have no respect for apostrophes ...  'Lets get started.' should be 'Let's get started.'  However, they have a good name in the business and the materials on the website are excellent and clear.
These days, of course, there's Kindle!! 
 


'Hilarity personified' seems to personify the Mexican nation!

How on earth did I ever think that owning a house in Mexico would guarantee me a quiet spot to write?  The place is party-central for various times of the year and it has taken me a few years to learn the technique of blocking out the music, fireworks and gleeful 'gritos' or unmotivated shrieks.  It is certainly not dull.  Beyond the farm behind our little house, there is a 'sports bar'.  OK.  It began as a terrace outside a house, frequented by late night taxi drivers and regular customers.  The owner bought a juke box with money he made from selling part of his farm to the local resorts.  Uh-oh. Loud.  I quickly learnt the Spanish - Tus sinfonola is tan fuerte!  (probably ungrammatical but he understood).  We came to love the band rehearsal days when the owner kindly lends his establishment (which, I must say, has now grown into an enormous terrace with pretty lighting and gradual improvement of the carpark and garden) as the shouts of glee and falsetto singing would carry on till midnight.  I got over my initial clenching of teeth at the sounds of a tuba.  Well, sort of. 

Now, the sports bar has shouting mostly when Chicharito scores a goal in soccer or on Fiesta days.  Mmmm, that seems to happen a lot.

But quiet?  Ahhhh, so quiet during the days I am only interrupted by the amazing birdlife in these parts (Puerto Vallarta).  We have seen the place change from a dirty, litter-strewn and mostly unpaved pueblo to one where the locals (and visitors from Chiapas) take some pride in the fact that there is a recycling bin on all key corners and the streets are being filled with bouganvilleas.

PS> There is no danger here.  Mexican violence is restricted to areas contested by the drug cartels and the only way it will end is for the USA to stop shipping them guns and to stop buying their products.  That should be easy, no?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Recipe for a box office success ...

Include these scenes:

1. A killer tango dance scene.
2. Cooking to a high level.
3. Fluffy, cute animals being bad.
4. Deep and meaningful dialogue that is flip at the same time. (Snappy writing)
5. A wedding (even if there is some jilting going on).
6. Stunning landscapes that impact on the story
7. A score that makes the charts with more than one song.
8. Marquee stars - but then I have seen some bummers with Anjelina in.
9.  Characters you give a stuff about. (but not always)
10. A plot that twists and turns (but sometimes this goes over people's heads)

Gee, I'm sorry - Saturday is G day and somewhere I lost a day!

Grabbing a coffee now.

Ahhh, that is great. Jalisco's finest beans.

Time to stare into space for a while and think of zilch until I get on with editing my latest book.

Stand by for that one!

Finding stuff on the super-net is getting harder

Friends, let me tell you that the greatest search engines in the world won't cough up a result for your book if you don't publicise it.  But how is that done?  It is a mysterious, arduous and can be an expensive process.  So far, I haven't had much luck in getting my book http://tinyurl.com/7eqcf88 reviewed by the majors.  I am grateful to the two readers who bothered to do a review, but without a few hundred of these, most Kindle books look as though they are just there to create more free inventory for amazon.com.

I am thinking of creating some 'co-review' quid pro quo review site.  Set up like Project Greenlight, someone will review your book in return for you reviewing something else on the virtual shelves.  No money involved.  Just points.  Anyone want to join? 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter greetings to all

No matter what your beliefs, here we are in the Northern Hemisphere spring with Easter celebrations all around.  In Australia, Easter signifies the gradual drift into cold weather but up here it is getting warmer by the day.  Feel less like writing in the heat though I get great ideas when I am lying in my hammock sipping a margarita.

Hope your holiday weekend is excellent!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Didn't I come here for the sun??

Well, here in (usually) sunny Puerto Vallarta, the sun hasn't shone all day.  Of course, this was the day I washed 5 loads of sheets, towels and so on, hoping to line dry them.  No luck.  Grey, cloudy skies and a sun that didn't quite make it out of  bed.

 I had to resort to the pernicious clothes dryer (against my principles, really).  No time to write today and so many ideas buzzing around in my brain.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

'Calandra's Spring' is getting good reviews

My book, 'Calandra's Spring', has a couple of great reviews. Any of the blogging community who would like to add to its reviewer base on amazon.com, note that you can download for free if you have amazon Prime! All feedback and reviews are welcome.

The book can be found at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007IX4NI2

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book sales are rising

I just noticed that I have sold a few more books this week!  Hope to at least recoup the cost of the cover!!
:-)

About to go to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens today for some inspiration

I've been sitting at my computer too long so I am going for a therapeutic walk today in the Gardens.  Who knows what I will see!  I am sure it will be fascinating.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Absolutely thrilled with some comments

It's really nice when people make comments about 'Calandra's Spring' and I thank them and hope that others will do the same.  Hard process, letting people know my 'baby' is out there!  I go through all kinds of emotions - terror that the manuscript may have had typos (it apparently has 12 - a friend counted them and that is way better than Mark Twain had :-) ).

But mostly, I am happy that I published my book.  Even if it is just for Kindle. Actually, I am pleased about that as I am against the use of paper and love reading my Kindle.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stay tuned for news of 'Calandra's Spring'

We have had two 5 star review and some purchases of the Kindle file to date, but wouldn't it be nice if we could start some kind of viral publicity for the story? 

I'm putting my mind to this and will share the progress with readers as it happens. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trending

Has everyone noticed the 'trend' for nouns to be morphed into verbs these days?  eg. What's 'trending'?  He is 'helming'.  Interesting growth of the Anglo-Saxon tongue!

Reviews

Nice to see that 'Calandra's Spring' has two great reviews to date!  Keep them coming, readers!

Proof as you go (to a point).

Quite the best way to proof-read is to read aloud with a friend.  You will pick up a lot of faults in punctuation and simple structural problems.  I learned that trick as my father worked as a reader while he was studying and would read me the books aloud (as a young kid, I heard things that astounded me!).

It is a good idea to proof as you go, though.  Take the stress of that last read off to a high degree by checking every paragraph for small errors as you go.

And a word of caution about this: you can use this time as a way of breaking the 'hammer' effect of typing long passages, but DO remember to take your hands off the keyboard and mouse.  Shake your hands thoroughly and check your seated posture.  This way, you will avoid the writers' cramp that affects so many of my friends. 

Of course, you will always pick up small errors.  I have found a ton in the works of Mark Twain!!  But do your best to avoid the ones that annoy the initial readers.

Happy writing!



Monday, March 26, 2012

Calandra's Spring book.

Want to know the secret of Eternal Youth?

Read this book:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007IX4NI2

Friday, March 23, 2012

Writing for profit

There are still quite a few outlets for writers to follow in order to write as a job, rather than as a hobby.  Here are a few I have done over the years:
1. Copywriting - if you are quick and smart with slogans and so on, consider writing copy for advertising.
2. Personal histories - you are a ghost writer in this case so don't expect any praise or credit!  It takes a long time to write a personal history and you need to be good with the elderly whose memories may lead them down erroneous (and often revisionist!) tracks. But you will hear some excellent stories along the way.
3. Contributing stories to magazines. Hard to get this work these days as most are syndicated.
4. Contributing well-researched local journalism to local papers or websites.
5. Writing for TV and film - hard to get in but once you are there it is a treadmill with some great moments of satisfaction.
6. Writing comedy for stand-up  - some comics are way too lazy to refresh their routine and will pay a little for you to add the current affairs buzz for them. 
7. Company brochures.
8. Direct TV commercials - from what I see in the USA, there is no REAL writer in charge.  Scripts are too often ungrammatical and dull. Canvas local businesses and tell them how you would do it!
9. Writing for blogs.  Much of this is free but you can get a little pin money hammering out articles for established or new blogs on all kinds of topics.  The owners, in most cases, don't pay any attention to proofing or verification and that's why there is so much rubbish on the web. The careful blogs, eg. mygreenaustralia.com to which I contribute from time to time, are few and far between.  The actual financed and well-cashed up sites funded by media establishments often have a need for articles but you will find yourself working for an extremely low rate if you apply the rules of journalism.  As writing practice, it is good though.
10. Grant writing and personal service writing (eg. résumé writing).  This is a fun job and again, not fabulous money but you will learn a lot along the way.

The more you write, the easier it gets so keep at it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just spend an hour a day

As with craft work, an hour a day spent writing will end up as a ginormous tome eventually.  All you need to do is stick with it and remember, the art of writing is really the art of RE-writing.

Book writing is like quality patchwork

OK, so I have to confess.  Like so many of the people I know, I not only write, but I do all kinds of craft work, and I have just almost completed the first real quality patchwork quilt, QS bed, and am only held up because I am in Mexico where quality batting and backing do not exist.  Polyester rubbish, certainly, but I am hoping for something of the quality of the Australian-made 'Matilda's Own' batting and backing fabrics that are 100% cotton like those of M & S fabrics or Kona.  So I have done the top and two matching pillow shams but have to wait till I head north to pick up some decent material.  Annoying, as I am quite impatient to see this finished. The fabrics have mostly come from recycled bits and pieces, my stash that went back to the 1960s plus some really amazing fabrics (Kona etc.) that I picked up as I have travelled around the world.  This is a great souvenir to purchase, by the way.  No junk for the suitcase.  Takes up little space (a fat quarter or less). And will always remind you of some happy holiday!
Writing my books has been a similar process.  I have used much recycled memory.  I have many souvenirs of travel that I have enjoyed or not enjoyed.  I have met all kinds of people.  In writing my book, I have put much of this into characters, settings and story.  Read it and see if you can tell!

Is it possible to write when in 'holiday mode'.

Ok, at the moment I am in Puerto Vallarta and the distractions are many.  Great weather here by the way.  Will I swim, go to the fish market, walk through the golf course which is 2 blocks from here and end up in the icecream shop, go for a beach walk or just sit here inside and write?  The choices are a-plenty.  Or maybe I should get on with the business of publicising and marketing my book which is why I started this blog in the first place.  How to knuckle down and work is a challenge every day.  Much to do and the days are flying by and in no time at all I will be back in a city.   Groan.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good review!

Got a review for my book, 'Calandra's Spring' on amazon.com! Yaaay!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007IX4NI2

Bach's birthday and perfection in writing

Jack Kerouac didn't care about it, and neither did the team who wrote the Millennium Trilogy.  Nor did J.K. Rowling.  But Bach did and, while it is a musical art and not the written word, his works are exemplary for their 'neatness'.  Not quite as geometric as those of Telemann, but the editing and rearranging he did each week to churn out his 'writing to order' is how we should all write.  Think of it as a skill, a calling, a passion, a discipline and get on with it.  Stop talking about it in your little groups and get down to work!

So far the marketing devices on the web suck!

We are told 'start a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page' but to date, this has mostly linked me up with people I wouldn't spit on if they were burning to death.  What a darn waste of technology to blitz it with porn sites!  Call me old-fashioned but there is some stuff out there that should be 'by invitation only'.  Mind you, if these people BOUGHT my book, I would probably tolerate them and their Stock Photo profile headshots on my Twitter feed. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interesting story about the effect of words!

http://tinyurl.com/7ptvdho

It seems that the pen is mightier than the sword in terms of provoking feelings and results!

How to write to reviewers

Getting reviews for a new book is quite a task!  The best results I have had to date have been the result of always researching the name of the reviewer and making it a personal letter to request a review.  Think about it.  Reviewers don't owe you a reading service.  It can take days to read an involved novel. Yes, and sometimes you would like those hours back after reading so much pap!  At least a Kindle read is a slightly faster process than a book read. Unless the battery dies mid-chapter ...

Write a short letter, always put the request in the subject line, ANYTHING to make the task of the reviewer easier.  Offer to send a PDF but many will like to see your production on amazon.com so do include the link which you can politely shorten on tinyurl.com.

If you're cutting and pasting, don't accidentally leave any inappropriate material in your emails.


But you know all this, right?

Good luck with your marketing and wish me luck with mine!


Some feedback

I have had some feedback (from a few sources) that my pricing was too high for a first book only available on Kindle.  So I have, today, dropped the price.  Of course, the Amazon Prime people can still get it for zilch for another 2 months!

It's hard not to be sentimental about this!  (My precious book, that was written so carefully and with hours of striving!!??? Worth less than a box of tissues?)  But let's be practical.  I am trying it already at the lower price point and will see if those readaholics who tend to buy everything, will take on my book.

Wish me luck, folks!

Kindle Big Deal cannibalises the industry?

Not sure whether the chance to buy books at 99 cents demeans the book industry, but I wish they hadn't done it when my book was newly released.  It seems that to offer goods at way below the production cost eventually kills off the ability of a writer to deliver.  There's only so much 'starving in a garret' that can realistically be done!  Well, my book is free to Kindle readers just now and I am hoping that the entire market isn't gobbled up by the time I have a decent price on there and a chance to make some money from my hard work.  Any other writers think the same way?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Free period courtesy Amazon Prime!

Oh, and if you want to review my book, don't forget that Amazon Prime members can download for free.  Many alternative readers have apps that allow them to access the Kindle file so please go ahead!

Reviews invited

Trawling the web, it seems that many people just pay people to read their books and review them. I can see the point of that as it does take quite a while to read a novel. But most writers I know can't afford to pay dozens of folk to perform this service.  We are told so much about viral campaigns, but I am wondering whether the world has reached a tipping point of clutter?  What do you think? Are people too distracted to sort the wheat from the chaff?  It takes a long time to get through emails, tweets and so on in a day. Distracting from the job of actual writing! If you know of any shortcuts, please let me know.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Literary style - worth the effort?

I have tried, with some conscious effort, to create a specific voice for 'Calandra's Spring' and also for each character within the book.  It is quite a trap for writers to spew forth a narrative without thought to this aspect and some tales I have read lately, written by older authors, have no youth at all in their young characters, no contemporary technology and little to differentiate each individual creation.  This takes effort and research.  One author who is a master of this and succeeded amazingly well (given that his stories were written as serials and often he was up against a deadline as he wrote) was Charles Dickens.  His rich folk represented their class, his poor theirs, the educated included more syllables in their words and the length of their sentences varied accordingly.  He worked at this! Flaubert, too, is masterful and a careful scribe.  This is, of course, what takes the time in a book of quality as opposed to say, a dictated/edited Barbara Cartland pulp romance.  Yet, even Ms. Cartland had her audience.  Which only goes to prove that if you have been rejected, you just haven't found the right niche yet!  Good luck and keep up the hunt.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How I came to write 'Calandra's Spring'.

In the last year or so, I have travelled extensively around various parts of the world, even venturing into the Czech Republic last year.  The greyness of that region intrigued me.  As well, I have had a long interest in Transnistria, the land that nobody wants to acknowledge.  There are people in that part of Europe for whom crime is just a job. Thus, one of the characters in my book was born.  He and his family are into all kinds of dodgy methods of making a few coins.  His greed takes him to new levels. At the root of his progression from small-time crook to the big-time, is his resentment of an event that affected his family.  The little man was trodden into the ground by the powers-that-be and he became power hungry and blasé about the criminal activities of the members of his family who lived through a catastrophic event that he had witnessed as a child. 

Environmental themes interest me too.  I have been involved in a terrific website mygreenaustralia.com and wrote many stories for it. Each was carefully researched and I learned a lot along the way. 

My protagonists?  They have been collected from observations of many people I have met over the years.  Ultimately, they sprang from my imagination.  Read the book and if you want to know more, write to me.

Reading old books

I have been having a post-Kindle cleanout of my bookshelves lately and reading/re-reading books I had owned as a child.  Many I THOUGHT I had read but hadn't including most of the works of Mark Twain.  We had them in 'Readers' at school of course, but in a condensed form and not the whole rambling, sarcastic collection of Twain's thoughts along the way of his simple narrative.  I now have mixed feelings about Twain who was truly more of a journalist that a literary giant. But that has its merits.   Now I am onto 'The Oregon Trail' which would have had its writer, Francis Parkman, clapped in irons had it been released today.  It's difficult to read in this day as it's so darn outspoken about ugly crones, lazy chaps and wormy children and he goes off the track (trail!) a lot taking risks you just can't imagine anyone having the gall for.  Off he goes to watch warring Indian tribes.  Alone.  Sick with some mystery illness that 'everyone' gets on the trail.  Dysentery perhaps?  Not sure.  And I don't want to trawl through Wikipedia to see it all till I have finished the book.  I'll let you know.

Books are indeed a reflection of their day and my daughter told me my book is 'sort of old-fashioned'.  Hurt?  Not really.  I am used to clients being very direct about what they love or hate.  And it can be on a whim.

Make your own judgement about my story.  Read it, review it and give me some feedback!