Lessons Learned #10

Sorry, no Lessons Learned #9b yet! But I haven’t forgotten…

Today I would like to share with you what I learned this last week doing a promotion for my first novel, Succedaneum – Living Like A Vampire.

Someone in FARG mentioned that their book sold better when she put her price up, suggesting that people are looking for quality work instead of books full of grammar and editing issues. That sparked my interest and I upped my price from £0.99 to £2.99. I started on Sunday and boosted a FB entry to get my book seen for a week. This  cost me £11. On Tuesday I still only had three copies sold, amounting to £2.78. This was not going to get my advertising cost back.
As the sales had been down for a fortnight before that, and after suggestions by some lovely people, I enrolled my book into KDP Select on Wednesday and entered it into a promo, free for one day, on Thursday.

I did a speed course in Twitter, using Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors – by W H Sutherland,  and got Tweepi, Socialoomph, bit.ly and was suggested Authl.it by a fellow author on FARG. I used Tweepi to double my Twitter followers. I started with about 45 (which took me over a month) and currently have 100 followers. Authl.it helped me to create Amazon book links that directed people to their own country’s Amazon. Bit.ly helped me to shorten those links (and create specific named ones, which, with hindsight, weren’t shorter smile emoticon ) and be able to write more about my book in the tweets. Socialoomph (free version) was my best friend. With this I could schedule tweets over the day. The problem is that Twitter doesn’t allow spam (repeated tweets), which  only was apparent after the first five tweets. I had to re-arrange, re-word, re-direct my tweets, which cost more time and stress than I had anticipated.

All in all I managed to get three messages out on Wednesday, spaced over the day (not mentioning the free promo coming up yet, as I didn’t know yet). Yesterday I sent out eighteen tweets, of which two were in the early morning of today (as the US times are different). I didn’t do more after that as I ran out of ideas of what to write and they would certainly be seen as spam.

Next to that I put out a message on my website, on my FB site, and went through FB sites FARG provides in their Files, putting my add up on as many FB book sites that let you put in visitor entries and joined a number of groups on which I put my add up too. The acceptations for the groups were rather late (as I asked in the morning and it takes time for people to get back to you), so, memo to others, get accepted into these groups at least a day before you run your promo!

So, what is the result of a stressful day? My book was downloaded 123 times! It seems such a small amount compared to what I have read that others had on their promo day, but I am happy with it. My genre is rather specific, action/drama/humorous vampire romances are not everybody’s cup of tea. Apart from the fact that 99.999% of the world’s population (if not more) doesn’t know I exist smile emoticon. I hope the people who downloaded it actually read it, like it and leave a review (of course!). And maybe, just maybe, they will buy the sequel…

As promised, here are some more great books from wonderful people:

Who Killed Little Johnny, by Kathryn McMaster


Intercepted, by Susanna Seigler http://amzn.com/B01CB86ETO

Riot Score, by Simon Maltman


Arrival, by Chris Gallagher http://amzn.to/1Xp64OT

The Second Captive, by Maggie James http://smarturl.it/thesecondcaptive

Download your FREE copy now!

My first novel, Succedaneum – Living Like A Vampire, is available as a FREE download on Amazon today!

Get your FREE copy at http://bit.ly/Succedaneum_1 !


Succedaneum - Living Like A Vampire5

With a little help from my friends…

I’ve got to say it, I’ve joined the Fiction Authors’ Resource Group (#FARG) on Facebook recently and it was the best move I have made in a long time! The authors in the group are so helpful and always available. We are all indie authors, helping each other and trying to make our books visible to people, struggling for reviews and working against the cheaters who, somehow, get their books on No.1 without any reviews at all!

Thanks to them I now have a better chance of my books being visible on Amazon, via Facebook and Twitter. As a thank you I promised to share their books with you. Most of them are crime thrillers and great ones too! I will give you five books per blog until I run out. Have your pick…

Shut up and drive, by L M Krier http://amzn.to/1SbabO5

Altered Life, by Keith Dixon http://authl.it/13l (this one is FREE!)

A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, by Pete Adams http://amzn.to/1QnlvkC

In the Shadows, by Tara Lyons

hyperurl.co/f43zem (audiobook), hyperurl.co/yctrszhyperurl.co/tkyb44

Murder on the Levels, by Frances Evesham  myBook.to/MurderontheLevels

It’s that easy…

For those of you who write crime novels, I would like to share my story with you regarding human trafficking. Apparently it’s really simple…

As you may have read in my previous blogs, my children recently toddled off to the other side of the planet for a nice, short holiday. We, their parents, couldn’t come with them, so they travelled as unaccompanied minors. Most airlines don’t take thirteen-year-olds unaccompanied, but Singapore Airlines does. There were forms to fill out, of course, that needed to be witnessed and shown when requested. As we live in Scotland and Singapore Airlines doesn’t frequent our local airport we had to escort them to London, which we did.

Forty-eight hours before travelling it appeared that we couldn’t check-in our kids online, because they were unaccompanied minors. That’s okay, we understood. We were concerned, though, that the seats would be fully booked by the time we got to the airport and the kids would not be sitting next to each other. My husband called the airlines and was assured that all would be sorted once we checked-in on location.

Once at Heathrow airport, we went to the Singapore Airlines desk to get the unaccompanied minors forms witnessed, but hey didn’t want to know any of it. ‘They will take care of you at the special check-in,’ they told us. So we queued up at the special check-in. My DH showed the lady the forms he filled in, but again, she didn’t want to know about them. ‘They will take care of that at the gate,’ we were told again. My husband stood there, with his passport and papers in his hand, flabbergasted. The lady didn’t check his passport, nor the forms. We could have picked up any kids of the street, who happened to carry their passports, and shipped them to some obscure country! But, then again, there was always the gate…

We said goodbye to our children and told them that we would hang around the departure hall until they had boarded the plane, just in case there were problems at the gate because the paperwork wasn’t witnessed. We kept in contact with them through our mobile phones during that time. As soon as our kids were through customs and the security check, they went to the gate. And lo and behold, nobody wanted to know about the forms there either!

The rest of the journey went uneventful. We had given our kids very strict instructions on how to behave whilst travelling (just contact me if you want more specifics) and they arrived safely on the other side, being picked up by my friend there.

On the way back the story was slightly different. At the check-in desk at the airport the lady behind the desk did have a look at the forms, signed them and made copies of them and offered our children to go through customs with the other unaccompanied children ‘so they wouldn’t be patted down.’ Of course they did go through a security check (fast lane), but it sounded very much like you can let your kids smuggle whatever and let them travel unaccompanied as they will be able to get away with it.

The only other person taking some interest in them being unaccompanied was the customs officer back in Heathrow. This is the conversation they had. Are you accompanied by an adult? No. Do your parents know where you are? Yes. Where are they? Dad is at work an Mum is on her way to collect us. Have you contacted her? Yes. Where is she now? I don’t know. So you haven’t contacted her? Yes, we did. Why don’t you know where she is then?Because she is still on an airplane. So what are you going to do when you get through customs? Go to Café Nero and wait for her. Okay, here are your passports, enjoy your day. So parents, bring your kids to Café Nero, apparently your kids are totally safe there!

As you can tell I am not impressed by the way unaccompanied children are dealt with during international flights. Maybe you say that I should have organised somebody from the airlines to accompany them. But if you have a connecting flight with another airline you need to inform both of them who is doing the drop off/pick up and nobody wants to give names. We tried. Fortunately our kids are mature beyond their age and have travelled internationally multiple times. We picked Changi airport for the stopover as we knew they know it well and they had no trouble finding their way. Nothing went wrong this time, but I am not taking my chances another time!

A Preview…

No, no, I don’t have another book out yet (that is wishful thinking!). I am talking about what life would be like without having your children living at home. Ours have just been visiting their friend in Australia, thanks to a very accommodating mother (thanks, Donna, you are a trooper!) and I will pick them up tomorrow after a ten-day absence, the longest they have been from home without us.

So, what has it been like? Did I get terribly melancholic? Did I get bored? Did I fight with DH all the time? Nope, none of these. Did I party? Did I jump with joy? Did I think I finally had my own life back? No, I can’t say I have either. It had it’s pro’s and con’s. What I liked was not having to clean up after them all the time. And not having a ton of washing to do. And being able to cook without anybody complaining that they didn’t like it. That’s about all the pro’s I can think of. The con’s are slightly more numerous. I had to do the poop scooping myself (yuk!), I had to empty the dishwasher myself, I missed the routine of seeing them off to school and picking them up in the afternoon, I missed our chats whilst having a cup of tea in the afternoon. Basically I missed their presence, the house is a lot more quiet without them.

I guess I am fortunate that I have a really good relationship with my DH. Before we became romantically involved we were very good buddies. I suppose that makes a difference in the long run. Yes, I do argue with him now and again, and I have in these last few days (no exception there), but I didn’t have any breaks removed because the kids weren’t there. We know each other inside out and take each other as we are. I don’t know if that is the secret to a life-time relationship, but it sure helps. DH had planned the time off to work in the house, not knowing the kids wouldn’t be here. So we didn’t plan to be with just the two of us. It was the first time in nearly fourteen years that we had such a long time together. And it worked. We didn’t work in the house as much as we wanted to, but we had fun. We slept in nearly every day, we went out for breakfasts, lunches and dinners (not all of them on one day and not every day, mind you), and we worked together. It worked.

Now I know that I won’t mind my DH’s retirement. I know it’s still fifteen to twenty years away, but it’s nice to know anyway.

I do hope the kids will visit often though…

Question procrastination

I sit here in my work outfit, it is 8:30pm, and I think I’ve done about thirty minutes of work today. My DH has two weeks off of work, this is his second week. We were supposed to finish renovating our bedroom, but somehow it just… doesn’t… happen…

I can’t blame my DH, he’s been working on the electrics, changing socket locations, amongst other things, for the last two days. But I can’t really say I have applied myself 100% (more something like 5%). I still don’t think today is a lost day though. I have been very active in recruiting new reviewers for my books. I met some wonderful people through Facebook and Twitter too.

So was this another bout of procrastination? I don’t know. As I said, I was very productive, just not in the renovation department. I guess people do all sorts of things to get out of doing the things they should. My normal evasive activity is cleaning, which I procrastinate also (as many of you who know me can vouch for). I didn’t clean today, but did throw two loads in the washing machine. The second one is still there…

I sigh and think ‘there is always tomorrow…’ 🙂

And… Action!

Yes, I really said that! Multiple times :). I wrote in an earlier blog that I started a film club and last Saturday we actually were filming our first short movie. It was so much fun!

We were only with the five of us. Well, that is after three hours, when the actor finally showed up. They’re always the same :).  So we had a cinematographer (with a very professional camera), a sound technician (who sat in the hallway with his earphones on most of the time and who will also compose the background music), the actor (who had never acted before), the prop manager (who also operated the colour board and the clapper) and myself, who wrote the script, did the make-up and the directing. And I loved it! We have a great team who work and get on really well together.

Being a writer is one thing, but seeing something you wrote coming to life in a movie is quite another. To be honest, I didn’t write the original work. I used a poem written by a Dutch writer. But I interpret it, added some background to the main character and had my vision realised. Awesome!!!

We started small. In this production we used one actor, one location and no dialogue. Our next production will be one location, two actors, with dialogue. Keep it simple. We learned a lot doing our first shoot. Continuity being a major issue (note to self; never film with a clock in the background!). But, after doing the footage editing last night, I also learned that as a director I need to take more time between saying ‘rolling’ and ‘action.’ I also need to make sure in advance what shots I have in mind. Being globe trotting before the shoot didn’t help and I was rather unprepared in this respect. I now realise that you really need to have thought about every… single… take… Making a story board would help I guess.

I’ll let you know when we’re up on YouTube!

Lessons Learned #9a

I would like to apologise to my followers for not blogging for a while. My life has been rather hectic with flying to Australia and back and, within a week of returning, flying to London to put my children on a plane to Australia. I am not very good in planning ahead and the last few weeks have been the pinnacle of that.

The Elements of Eloquence

I hope I can make it up to you with this review/summary of a little treasure I picked up at Foyles (a large book store) in London. It’s called ‘The Elements of Eloquence’ and is written by Mark Forsyth. The subtitle is ‘How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase,’ which sparked my interest. As a non-native English speaker I am always interested in how to improve my English.

Forsyth is a very humorous writer. He has the ability to write something very dry in a very, very funny way. I’ve lost count on how many times I chuckled or elbowed my husband to recite part of his text. So what exactly does he write about? He writes about the figures of rhetoric, or; not by saying something different, but by saying something in a different way. According to Forsyth anybody can write like Shakespeare, as long as you learn the rules. Whether you want to write like Shakespeare is another question, but it doesn’t hurt to learn how to write prose the proper way. Most of us already use rhetoric, but just don’t know that we do, or what it is called for that matter. I found it very interesting, although I still can’t get the names into my head. Maybe you will do better then I and will impress fellow writers/family/friends at parties. Here goes… (using aposiopesis here!)

Alliteration – Using words that start with the same letter.

Paroemion -Excessive alliteration.

Polyptoton – The repeated use of one word as different part of speech or different grammatical forms.

Antithesis – First you mention one thing, then you mention another, or x is y, and not x is not y.

Progressio – A long list of antitheses.

Merism – When you don’t say what you’re talking about and instead name all parts of it.

Blazon – The extended merism; the dismemberment of a loved one.

Synaesthesia – One sense described in terms of another.

Aposiopesis – Signalled in English punctuation by three dots… because you can’t go on, you don’t need to go on or you want to leave the audience hanging. This rhetoric is a personal favourite of mine!

Hyperbaton – When you put words in an odd order. The normal adjective order is: opinion – size – age – shape – colour – origin – material – purpose Noun. It is also the way Yoda speaks.

Ablaut reduplication – When you repeat a word with a different vowel. The order of the vowels is always I A O.

Anadiplosis – The repetition of the last word of one clause as the first word of the next.

Periodic sentence – A very big sentence that is not complete until the end.

Parataxis – The natural way of speaking (subject – verb – object).

Hypotaxis – The use of subordinate clause upon subordinate clause (usually not spoken as you really have to think about this one).

Polysyndeton – Using lots of conjunctions.

Asyndeton – Not using any conjunctions.

Diacope – A verbal sandwich; a word, repeated after a brief interruption.

I will stop here as the next chapter starts the rhetorical question, which are more than I can handle today! But I promise to continue this lesson learned as soon as I have read further.

If you are unsure of what all the words described actually mean or if you want to see samples of them I suggest you try and get a hold of this book. If not just for having a fun read, as it is certainly worth it!

Happy writing!



Lost in space…

I just got back from a short visit to the other side of the planet. I lived in Perth, Australia, for fourteen years and went back to visit my friends. It was great to absorb some sunshine again, to go outside without wearing a coat and see the vast blue sky. And to catch up with my friends of course. It was like being home away from home.

On my way back to Scotland, on my twenty-two hour trip, I was thinking if I made the mistake of moving to northern Europe. But when I thought again of how much I like the change of seasons, the green-ness of the grass, and the occasional bad weather spells that make you curl up under a blanket with a hot coacoa and a good book in front of an open fire, I was positive that I was at home in Scotland.

So what is home exactly? I lived thirty years in The Netherlands, fourteen years in Australia, three years in Scotland, two years in England and a couple of months in Paris. Is Holland my home as I grew up there and spent most of my life there? I’m afraid not anymore. In the years I have lived abroad it has changed so much. The amount of traffic and people have increased way above above my comfort level. Not to mention the change in language. I have been taught Latin and know it is a ‘dead’ language. It hasn’t changed for over thousands of years. I know that other languages are alive and that they change over time. But the rate that the Dutch language has changed is incredible. I wouldn’t be able to write a book in Dutch anymore, my spelling just isn’t up to scratch.

Even though I have lived in Australia for a long time and I have lots of friends there, I don’t think I can call it my home. As I didn’t grow up in that country I am missing vital information like their typical English and their history, even as common as television programs. However long I have lived there, I can never be part of daily conversation as well as I would like to.

As a writer this really sucks. They say you should write about what you know best. But what if you know lots of little bits but never anything really well? Yes, I have access to the Internet and I have already written two novels in the English language. Both of these novels were set in America, a country that I have visited but never lived in. There were quite a lot of issues that I had to deal with whilst writing ‘in America.’ For example, there are no ‘pound stores’ in the USA. They say ‘parking lot’ instead of ‘car park.’ There are many more examples like these. I got there in the end, but it wasn’t easy.

Back to the question of what is home. I guess home is where the heart is and my heart is wherever I am. Yes, it is also with my family and friends, it is where I have lived, it is where I have made memories. Some people can’t be anywhere else than in their own home. Not me. I am a universal traveller as I am at home wherever I go. As long as I know that I am surrounded by people whom I can love and who love me, I am happy. Lost in space, but happy…

Book Reviews

I am a happy (not easter) bunny today; I went on my Amazon report site and saw that I have already sold five of my sequel books. Thank you all, buyers! I can only deduct that you liked the first book, so I must have done something right :).

I wasn’t happy when I noticed that one of the reviews disappeared. I have no idea why, but if you have put in your review, could you please check if it is still there? And if you haven’t put it in after finishing the book, can you please give a(n honest) review?

Still a happy bunny though 🙂

Follow me on a journey of words

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