I never thought we would get here, but somehow, over the last three and a half years, this little blog has made 9,000 friends along the way! As always, thank you so much for sticking around and having so much faith in me, even during the (many) times I disappear for extended blog siestas!
That number, besides being absolutely mind-shattering, also generates a considerable amount of… apprehension? Throwing blogs out into the blogosphere without much thought has traditionally been my modus operandi. Don’t get me wrong, I do put a bit of brainwork into composing my posts, just not into how many people are actually reading.
Not unsurprisingly, my ‘throwing’ has stalled to some degree. When 9,000 people are reading your words (okay, more like 10% of that number), it makes for a tough time pressing the ‘publish’ button!
I just love libraries! My local library is hardly ever without some books on so many varied topics. A refuge for study, a place for talks and writing groups and so much community involvement.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I had heard so much about this book and wondered could any book live up to the hype? My answer is yes, it could and did. It is such a compelling book, one which asks us to consider all those people we have ignored because they are too weird. Eleanor lives a restricted life and one that she thinks keeps her safe. Nine years in the same job following the same routine.Predictable, safe. Small changes lead to bigger ones as Eleanor’ s story is gradually and sensitively revealed. By the end of the book, I was cheering her on hoping for a realistic yet happy ending. Reminiscent of The Rosie Project and The Dog in The Night time and yet uniquely Eleanor’s story Five stars from me.
Find Your Creative Mojo by Josh Langley.
An encouraging and inspiring book. One that really explores our doubts and resistance to thinking of ourselves as ‘creative.’ Sure to make you think. It made me happy just to read it.
The French Photographer by Natasha Lester.
Hard to fault this book both for its storyline and for its characters. It’s an ambitious undertaking that Natasha Lester pulls off with seeming ease. Meticulously researched as always, but Natasha Lester breathes life into the research, enabling the reader to see and hear and feel what her characters experience. The condescension and misogyny that the women experienced are hard to take, but older readers will know that it has not been exaggerated Life was like that in the not too distant past. Of course, not all the men were like that And Jessie May finds her own real-life hero in Dan.
The Lemon Tree Café by Cathy Bramley.
An author I hadn’t heard of before, but I am glad that I did. The lemon tree café serves up a menu of food, friendships, family and secrets. Rosie’s darling Italian Nonna is reluctant to admit that she needs help, and Rosie isn’t above subterfuge to give her the help she needs. A problematic relationship from the past connects them more than they know. And it’s a fight to get to happily ever after.
The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion.
I am sure that my enjoyment of this book would have been enhanced if I had known that was following on from her previous book Leaving Ocean Road. In spite of being occasionally baffled by the large cast of characters and family relationships, I enjoyed reading it.
Horrible Histories- Vicious Vikings by Terry Deary & Illustrated by Martin Brown
Easy to read, lots of fun and a palatable way to get facts. Never discount children’s books!
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
This is a book that demands commitment at 640+ pages, and it is a hefty tome to hold, while you are reading it. A good one to get on Kindle perhaps? I was never bored, sometimes confused, enraged, amused or trying to work out the plot. The book starting at Robin and Matthew’s wedding kept continuity, although I really didn’t want the wedding to happen. I didn’t warm to Matthew and I was waiting for his comeuppance. I found the emerging relationship, comradeship, whatever you’d call it, between Strike and Robin, at least as compelling as the central mystery. And yes. I am looking forward to the next instalment
Midnight At The Bright Ideas Book Shop by Matthew Sullivan
Like many book lovers, I enjoy reading about books and bookshops, so when this popped up in my library feed I requested it. At times it is a deeply disturbing read, which kept me intrigued. It is both gritty and sad I haven’t read another book like it. It kept me metaphorically on the edge of my seat. A complex layered story and the ore you read the more involved you become. Lydia’s story forms the backdrop and as we learn more about her and her past, aspects of the story in the present become clearer.
As those of you who live with cats will understand cats rarely do anything they don’t want to. So today was quite a special day for me. We currently have two cats Annabelle, a tortoiseshell also known as ‘the aloof one’ and Alexei, mainly white with grey markings, ‘the friendly one.’
We have had them both since they were eight-week-old kittens, we’ve treated them the same, but they could not be more different in temperament and personality.
Annabelle is elusive, shy, a shadow of a cat, who then demands to come into our bedroom and sleep with us.
Alexei is relaxed, friendly, laid back he will bound onto a vacant knee sure of a welcome and lie back in my arms like a baby.
Today, after almost ten years together Annabelle decide she liked me. When I journal each morning, she keeps me company, usually at arm’s length but present.
When I am allowed to, I stroke her ears and tell her how pretty she is. Her green eyes survey me with an amused detachment as she takes this praise as her due.
Today, I was bumbling about doing the early morning chores when she stopped and meowed. Did she want to go out? I opened the door, but she did not follow. Instead, she stood squarely in the doorway to the room where I sit to write in my journal and meowed again. A royal command! She wanted my company.
I settled down to write and felt her head bump my hand, Annabelle wanted a stroke, she wanted attention. I held my breath as she put two paws on my knee and started to knead. Her purr was loud as I stroked and complimented her- and then elusive as ever she was gone.
I’d love to see your pets- I do like dogs too, but at this stage its more practical to have cats
Reviews are especially important to new authors, but I know we are all busy and don’t have a lot of time.
With that in mind, I have created a blueprint of how to write a quick review. Of course, your own words and honest opinions are welcome.
Even famous authors began by writing just one book
How to Write a Quick Book Review.
Book reviews don’t have to be long and complicated, and reviews on Amazon, Good reads* or even sent to the publisher or author are really helpful.
Good reads are a Free online book lovers recommendation forum-It’s easy to join and helps you keep track of which books you have read.
How to use this form just use one or two sentences to say how you felt about the book, or of course add your own thoughts.
Example Fire & Ice by Sonia Bellhouse, told a good story.
The Book Was….enjoyable, easy to read, exciting, heartfelt, romantic, told a good story, I liked it. A real page-turner.Wasn’t my kind of book.
The Character (s) I liked best -Blaise Daniels, Kristoffer Eriksen, Saga, Trygve, someone else.
The Things in the Story I Liked. It was set somewhere different(Norway) It included Ice dancing. It had a parallel storyline. It had Vikings. Two different romances. It featured an Australian. I learned about another culture and customs. It wasn’t a long book
Things I didn’t like…..
You get the idea and now to show I practise what I preach here are my March Book reviews
Summer of Love by Kate Fforde
An easy to read second chance at love story. engaging characters and an amusing plot. Super beach read.
The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell.
Bette Davis famously said ‘old age ain’t for sissies’ but the people of Jacaranda retirement village have sunk into a torpor, thinking that doctors’ appointments and communal singing are all they have to look forward to.
When glamorous Angela Valentine joins the community, she ruffles a few feathers and unexpectedly befriends and mentors old school chum Peggy Smart. Suddenly there is more excitement in the air and a sense of optimism, the residents are not done with living yet.
The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond
Three women all at turning points in their lives are new tenants at 11 Dukes Square in Brighton. Each has a problem or secret that had brought her there. Rosa is embarking on a career change, but there is more to her story than that. Charlotte is dealing with loss and trying to remain disengaged from life. Georgia has followed her boyfriend Simon down to Brighton and now he seems to have no time for her, so she embarks on a new career path. Each story unfolds gradually and is told with warmth and humour, you will feel like you know these women and want them to succeed.
55 Underemployed and Faking Normal by Elizabeth White
The book is geared to American readers and suggests a much larger retirement and pre-retirement crisis is looming. Anyone in the USA could benefit from reading this book – not so much for me here in Australia. The take-home message society has changed, what you expected may not happen, and it’s wise to be prepared. It is not your fault that companies, downsize and that ageism is a barrier to employment as you get older.
The Cottage at Rosella Cove by Sandie Docker
I enjoyed this book and found Nicole’s predicament with her controlling fiance believable and relatable. I cheered her on when she left to start her new life in Rosella Cove. There was a hint of intrigue which interested me. The way the story from the past intertwined with the present was plausible and added depth.
Charlie the irascible old man from the boathouse was one of my favourite characters. Also, like the gently unfolding romance. It was a believable and moving read. One thing bothered me that there was no conclusion with her relationship with Jane, but life is often like that.
The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts by Annie Darling.
An interesting premise, after all, what book lover doesn’t love bookshops?
Many people dream of being left a bookshop. I enjoyed Posy’s plans to transform the bookshop she had grown up in. Her subterfuge to keep Sebastian ‘the rudest man in London’ in the dark as to her actual plans was amusing. He’s not the most appealing of heroes as he’s so dismissive of her plans and opinions. I Know that she does eventually stand up to him, but it seems a very unequal relationship.
While the addition of the secondary narrative Ravished by the Rake, was both an homage to Georgette Heyer and an insight into Posy’s subconscious. Personally, I found it distracting and the font harder to read. This is the beginning of a planned series.
I met fellow writer Sioban Timmer on Monday and of course, we chatted and laughed and swapped stories in our conversation she gave me this gem of a phrase
‘ While you are writing it, it’s your book, wonderful, original, valuable, then you publish it and to the rest of the world it’s just a bag of frozen peas.’
I can hear the gasps, almost see the shudders – ‘what my beautiful book?’
Yes, the harsh reality – you have to sell your book anyway that you can.
If you don’t market yourself these days, you are nowhere.
Why should this statement surprise us?
Did Charles Dickens market himself? He sure as hell did. He wrote his stories as instalments and left each chapter with a cliff hanger so that readers would buy the next instalment.
Did Samuel Johnston market himself? He had to, his work was sold by subscription. Who would buy his work if they did not know him?
Did Shakespeare market his work? Some of the time he wrote for patrons, and he needed to attract them, so he must have done. As a playwright, he had to keep the audience enthralled-so that they would return. The theatre would have had handbills and poster advertising each new play.
Nowadays some writers take a high-minded attitude to marketing as if it were inherently wrong. The big publishers don’t play it that way though, they spend up big and take every opportunity to promote their writers. They get them onto Morning TV, Australian Story andin women’s magazines and send out tons Of ARC’s( Advance Reader Copies).
In a word these days and maybe always hype is money. How can you buy something if you don’t know it exists?
We can be precious and claim that our work is misunderstood, is only for a select few, or too complex. And maybe that it is true for some of us. But wouldn’t you love to have a bestseller and enjoy the hype?
By the way, if you have read Fire & Ice could you please post an honest review on Amazon( if you bought it there) or Good reads or even send my publisher Daisy Lane or me a copy of your review. It doesn’t have to be long,I liked it’ is fine.
Those Little Details–Extras Limited Only by Your Budget and Imagination.
Have you attended any book launches? If at all possible, before you hold your own book launch you should attend at least one to get a sense of timing and how they are run.
Create a timetable for the event. You want people to enjoy the event, but you need to keep control of it. Say your launch is an hour in duration, this is probably plenty of time.
Your timetable may go like this
2pm Guests arrive, tea and coffee is served- to background music * more about music later. Alternatively, an evening launch might start like this 7pm Guests arrive. wine is served background music. Allow 10-15 minutes for guests to arrive.
2.15 Welcome ( I minute) Given by your MC-choose someone who is used to speaking in public bookseller, librarian, Mayor, MP.
2.16 Launch speech (a bit about you and the book) 2-4 minutes. Ideally given by a dignitary, bookshop owner or librarian.
2.20pm Read an extract of your book – about 500 words or so. Follow with a Q&A have someone sit with you and ask a few questions, ( Best to know what they will ask) Invite the audience to ask questions and keep it to about 10 minutes.
2.30 pm End of formalities.
Move over to the signing table, for book sales and signings. Refreshments are served, and music is playing.
3 pm. the event winds up.
Signing table – set up before the event with a tablecloth, leaflets, posters and a stack of your books to sign. Bring a nice pen and have spares. I also had flowers and balloons- I wanted a festive look. I might have scattered love hearts if I’d had time to get them. If you have an author banner- display that.
Top TIp: Have an assistant to deal with sales– you can’t take sales and sign books. Announce in advance if only cash will be accepted. Make sure your e- payment system works
Ask everyone who they want the book signed for and ask how they spell the name. Jane can also be Jayne. Hopefully, you will have plenty of books to sign.
Bonus. Have you any other publications? I have been published in two anthologies Passages a short story anthology and Writing the Dream, where twenty -five writers talk about their path to publication both published by Serenity Press.
I created book bundles with Fire & Ice and one of the other titles’ and tagged as Specials. Tied with rose pink or lilac ribbon and labelled as a launch special they were at a reduced price compared to buying the books individually, they sold out quickly. Each book I signed was accompanied by a card for my blog and either a charm of a pair of ice skates, a Viking helmet or snowflake charm. Give a little extra!
Music- choose something appropriate to your books topic and keep it a gentle hum so people can talk- I had Nordic music and took my time to select something that represented what my book was about, soft ethereal, and romantic music.
Extras –Bookmarks with your book details can be printed cheaply – you can give those to everyone, it might remind them to buy your book. Put buy links on them.
Door prize- I had two Viking dolls– one of which I gave away as a door prize.
A signup sheet if you have a newsletter.
Help Get someone who has a good eye to take photographs- the event will pass in a blur and you will be so glad you have them later
Catering if you are lucky, a friend or family member will handle that. if you have to do it yourself keep it simple-there is enough to be stressed about
The End of the Event-
Thank people for coming and ask them to please post a review of your book.
Be gracious, say goodbye, leave them with a good impression.
You may have to close chairs and leave the space clean and tidy-even wash-up. it certainly brings you back down to earth, on the glamorous life of an author.
But you have done it – you have successfully launched your book.
I had a mother, so this is not the plea of an orphan or abandoned child. But so much that is said about mothers leaves me out of the dialogue. I feel isolated, alone and saddened. I want to say you are lucky to have a loving mother but please do not assume all mothers are the same or that I am mistaken when I tell you about mine.
My mother was distant and distracted and uninvolved with me. I wasn’t physically abused or harmed. I was fed and clothed, all that was lacking was love. I can’t remember ever being hugged or told that she was proud of me.
Perhaps it was that she came to motherhood late at the age of thirty-nine or that I was an accident. I can remember her once telling me ‘ I never wanted children.’Those words ate away at me, she hadn’t qualified them with’ of course now you are here, we are happy to have you.’ They pain me still.
I knew my dad loved me and was proud of me, he was the one who said ‘goodnight’ and tucked me up in bed. Maybe mum suffered from postnatal depression? In that case, it lasted years. I can remember we had an aunt-my mother’s sister come and stay with us for a while.
I tried everything to please mum, my stories were for her, the flowers I picked were for her.
One birthday I must have been about eight I spent my entire birthday money on a brass ornament for her, as she collected them. She smiled and put it to one side.
Nothing worked, I realised you can’t force someone to love you, in the end, I gave up. When my mother died six years after my father, I mourned her of course I did. But it wasn’t with a sense of devastating loss, because she had never really ever been there.