Monday 28 January 2019

#reviews lift the spirit

Mondays can be a great start to the week!

The first 5 * review- in all honesty the first actual Amazon UK review- is in for Agricola's Bane.

It's taken a lot of weeks for it to appear on amazon and I'm totally delighted and hope that it means a start to the rolling of the ball....

There's a lot more to the review but the clip above is a great part to use immediately. You can read the whole review here:

My thanks, as always, to the reviewer. It really an excellent start to my weekl to find that a reader has appreciated my efforts to create a believable situation from a time in history that's shrouded in so much mystery.

Happy Reading.


Friday 18 January 2019

#Reviews of #amreading books read late 2018 into 2019

My reviews catch up! 

I've had similar blog post titles before and mean never to need to batch up reviews again, but sometimes life gets in the way of my recording of short review comments on books I've recently read.

This little list goes back to books I read in October, November and December of 2018, with the most recently completed today! Posting short comments with no spoilers is my aim and, in truth, all I've got time for these days. I try to write about what my gut feelings are regarding the most lingering aspects of the reads and what they've made me concentrate on during the reading.

Dunstan by Conn Iggulden 

I really enjoyed the narrative element of this novel about a historical figure I know only a very little about. The story flowed naturally, the protagonist giving the back story bit by bit. Life was harsh; achievement measured by lasting legacies enabled by patronage and I liked that Dunstan was revealed as a determined yet, at times, almost self-effacing character, his ruthless edges somehow smoothed off by the choice of language used by the author and the imagery suggested.

 Heathcliff by Sue Barnard

Writing a spin-off novel about a character that appears in a classic novel isn’t a simple thing to do. I find that reading this kind of novel isn’t simple either, because I feel that my perceptions of that character will always be tinged by what the original author wrote. I was pleasantly surprised, and delighted, to find that I managed to compartmentalise the Heathcliff that Sue Barnard had created. What did he get up to during his absence in Wuthering Heights? Knowing a little of the historical setting, I find that what the author of this new Heathcliff decided on, is very plausible. It’s because the writing is sharp and the characterisation so good that I was able to imagine a different Heathcliff.

 The Saxon Marriage by Anna Chant 

This period in history, many of its locations new to me, was well worth reading about, viewed from the perspective of the heroine Eadgyth. She’s a likeable character, if at times a tad naïve to me even after years and years in the courts of European royalty. I found Mathilda a lot less likeable and I’m not sure I would have enjoyed being in her company - even if Eadgyth seemed to cope with Mathilda’s machinations. There was a lot of forgiving in the story which, I believe, would have been very difficult during the troubled situations explored in the plot.  If you’re looking for an entertaining glimpse of society of more than a thousand years ago, without much of  the seriously bloody conflict that was probably realistic of the times, and the fact that it is part of a series to highlight strong women of the eras, you’ll enjoy this novel.

 What the Future Holds by Joan Fleming 

This was an enjoyable, quick read set on the island of Mull, a location I’ve enjoyed visiting very much. From the outset what one of the characters was attempting to put in place was anathema to me so the plot got my immediate attention. The characters are lovely and fit well with the settings. There’s inevitability about the connection between Sandy and Amy but it doesn’t dull the journey as their relationship goes through rocky patches.  

Caligula by Simon Turney

This period in history as seen through the eyes of Livilla in Caligula was a bit of a revelation to me. Initially, I found it quite hard to separate this Livilla character from those in earlier novels set in the era. Trying to create an image of S. Turney’s Livilla as I read the novel was difficult, in the beginning, since I had to force myself not to recall earlier dramatisations. However, once I had my new version of her in my head, created through S. Turney’s excellent narrative, I began to really appreciate the depictions of the characters and the events. What happened isn’t definite since we have little written prime sources, and this depiction of events prior to and during the Emperorship of Caligula is as plausible as many others might be. 

I've also posted similar comments on each book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Now I've a huge kindle pile waiting fro me to choose from, and a number of paperbacks on my shelves which I've also still to begin. Happy Reading!

Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree

This was a most definitely entertaining novel, if sometimes a little confusing. Working out who was what was an interesting tangle in a setting that was believable and yet also a bit far-fetched. But that is what well written novels are all about and this one lifted me out of the normal and into something a bit different. Most of the characters are well rounded and easy to imagine at face value, though they hide a multitude of secrets!
I admit that after reading this amusing romp my waiting-time at the playground when fetching home my grandkids was a lot more fanciful as I imagined many familiar faces in highly specialised roles! 


Thursday 17 January 2019

#KindleCountdown worth a try?

Good Morning Thursday! 

I've had such an intense focus lately on getting my contemporary mysteries back into availability in both ebook and paperback formats that I've almost forgotten to promote my latest novel Agricola's BaneBook 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series.

I'm now delighted to be able to concentrate more on my historical work since the above 3 contemporary mysteries can now all be purchased from Amazon again in @OcelotPress paperbacks as of today, 17th January 2019. 

I 'm trying something brand new to me for Agricola's Bane so I've enrolled it in a #KindleCountdown promotion. Now that these books are self-published I can try whatever seems like a good possibility for selling more copies, but more importantly giving a greater chance of getting some reviews for it. It's looking very lonely at present regarding reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  I know that may be due to readers being reluctant to post reviews now - Amazon having had a huge purge of reviews during the latter part of 2018 in a bid to halt the misuse of the review system.

I'm always delighted to get any reviews for my novels and really do look forward to feedback. I've had a number of local people tell me they've enjoyed the latest addition to my Celtic Fervour Series, but these are readers who only buy paperbacks, don't ever buy from Amazon and can't post reviews there. I value those opinions highly though it'd be really nice to get similar feedback from the unknown readers who have bought Agricola's Bane from Amazon in kindle versions since its launch in mid-November. If you've already bought and read a copy of Agricola's Bane, please post a short review. 

So what about the #KindleCountdown? As I write this post, the price for Agricola's Bane is 99p on Amazon UK. It will not be at 99p for very long, but I've actually no way of knowing when Amazon will change to the price back to its £2.99 norm, though I'm told to expect an incremental rise in between. I assume that will take it to £1.99 for a while, but I'll only be able to know what the current price is by clicking that link! 

Grab a copy quick, if you want to get it at 99p! Click this link HERE 


Sunday 13 January 2019

#extracts for inclusion in a #newspaperfeature

Happy late Sunday to you!

I'm now really, really hopeful that my blog hibernation is at an end and that my head is properly risen from the frozen editing and formatting state. 

I've caught up with a massive list of emails, and written 2 blog posts for guest blogging to appear int he coming weeks. My task this evening is to choose x 2 extracts to be included in a Scottish national newspaper (NE) feature, the extracts to follow on consecutive Saturdays after the main author interview. 

The book being featured is my latest  historical novel Agricola's Bane. 

Choosing extracts to showcase my work is something I find really difficult. There are parts of my story that I love more than others, and that's natural, I think, for any author. Since the newspaper coverage will be virtually the whole geographical area that's in my novel, i.e. Aberdeenshire and Moray, I have a dilemma. The novel is set almost 2000 years ago and the names used in the novel are the Scottish Gaelic equivalents of current locations in many instances. These may be readily familiar to some of the newspaper supplement readers, but not to all. 

  • Is it important to choose extracts that hint at geographical locations that might be familiar?
  • Should I just concentrate on choosing excerpts that bring my characters to life for the reader?
  • Should I choose high action scenes involving conflict between the Ancient Roman invaders and my local Celtic tribal warriors?  

It's an exciting problem which just might take more than this evening to resolve - except I'm desperate to get back to the writing of Book 5 of my series tomorrow morning.

Details t follow about the newspaper closer to the time in February. Watch this space! 


Sunday 6 January 2019

#formatting is slow but #Janus looks forward #historicalfiction @nansjar

A Very Happy New Year to one and all - albeit a bit belated. May 2019 be all you wish it to be! 

**I've been out blogging at Mary Anne Yarde's on Friday 4th Jan 2019 - catch that post HERE **

There was a time, not so long ago, when my new writing was a making very slow progress but this blog was very busy. Almost  the opposite has been true for weeks. 

Since the middle of November 2018, regular readers of this blog will have noticed that it went to rest for a while. My writing needs were prioritised to eventually get Agricola's Bane Book 4, of my Celtic Fervour Series published in ebook and paperback. As well as doing various promotions for Agricola's Bane, after its official paperback launch on the 22nd Nov., I had to devote much of my writing time to re-doing versions of all 3 of my mystery novels which came out-of-contract time with Crooked Cat Books in November.

I considered looking around for another independent publisher for them, but decided to self- publish the new versions with Ocelot Press, the co-operative of authors that I'm a member of, and set myself a goal to have at least the ebook versions back available on Amazon by the end of 2018. 

When re-publishing it's necessary to make some changes to the manuscript of the story, even though 2 out of 3 mysteries had gone through 2 professional edits already. Having resurrected manuscript versions for the last rounds of edits in 2014 for all 3 of the novels making subtle changes during re-edits wasn't too difficult, though that still entailed thorough re-reads of all 3 stories.( I'm so glad I regularly store all my files) The main problem was that back during the original writing, I had no concept of what bad formatting was when using Microsoft Word, and what is good practice. Since self- publishing my historical novels, I've learned a LOT about formatting. 

The re-editing and re-formatting is a slow and repetitive process - something normally undertaken by the publisher that the author can be blithely unaware of. As such, an author doing their own formatting as part of the self-publishing process is a huge time suck if the manuscript has lots of extra spaces etc! It's worth mentioning that ebook formatting can be different from what is needed to publish a paperback, so they are not directly interchangeable. I've chosen to use Times New Roman 11 point for my paperback formatting, but I like it better at Times New Roman 12 point for ebooks. 

I'm hoping that when I eventually take the plunge and make my paperback novels available via other places, like Ingram Spark, I'll not have to make too many formatting changes...but time will tell on that one!

And so began days of pre-Christmas preparations - some of those when my grandchildren needed more minding because they were sick and off school/nursery school. Those December days were also peppered with the last of my Book Fairs and Craft Fairs for the year. When not buying and wrapping  up gifts for Christmas; or planning and cooking meals for entertaining the family during late December, any free time was spent on polishing up those manuscripts.

  • On the 11th December 2018, I pressed the publish button on Amazon for the ebook version of Topaz Eyes. 
  • On the 22nd Dec, it was the turn of Monogamy Twist.
  • And I worked extremely hard during the last days of December to re-do and reformat the ebook version of Take Me Now, pressing that publish button at 10p.m. on Hogmanay, 31st December 2018. 
I'd been so determined to have my Ocelot Press ebooks available again in December 2018 and I just made it! 

I'm so very glad that I arranged with Crooked Cat Books to retain the use of their current cover designs at the time of the contract running out, because I really like them and they've not been in place for all that long. That meant the front cover for the ebook versions needed no changes. 

It's now 6th January 2019, and so far I have the new Ocelot paperback version of the Take Me Now manuscript completed (wraparound covers to be dealt with soon) and about half of my Monogamy Twist paperback manuscript is re-formatted. My aim is to have all 3 paperback versions published on Amazon as soon as possible, within days even, but normal service resumes on Monday 7th January. I restart my grandchild-minding duties this coming week, which will entail being available for them Tuesday through Friday, so I need to read less of the rivetting UK politics and get on with my formatting! 

I can't finish this post without also saying that the political scene in Scotland is also earning a lot of my daily time since it's an incredibly important and volatile situation in the UK just now. I make no bones about wanting Independence for Scotland, I have since 1976, and I eagerly await what is about to transpire in 2019. 

I've been out-and- about to other blogs recently and have still been maintaining a bit of publicity on Facebook and Twitter of late. I'm also desperate to learn how to use my Christmas present from my hubby which is the latest 2018 version of PaintShop pro! 

No sleep for me! Till next time...