Good morning! I’m still feeling a bit bleary-eyed after the weekend and our stint at Curium Roman Amphitheatre. We had so many late nights, relaxing after each night’s performance of Romeo and Juliet and I think the adrenalin is now draining out of me leaving me feeling like a wet rag! The upside is that we managed to raise over €30,000 for charity! Utterly fantastical!
Blogging is not journalism, bit I believe it is an adjunct to it. On their website and blog the writer is staking out their corner of the internet where they can say whatever they like. This offers the best elements of democracy and dictatorship – you write what you like, when you like, and being answerable to no one, YOU control the comments section. A delicious combination indeed! This free expression helps you to organise your thoughts, record ideas and pass on little snippets of interest to readers.
I thought I’d quite like to run a random series entitled, Editing Pen. This will be a series about our usage of words, style and how we can use them to their best advantage and most importantly – properly. The following are very simple mistakes, but commonly found in all works.
Let’s take these two words: Sociable and social.
Both these words are adjectives and both clearly have to do with the interaction between people. So what’s the difference? Put simply, the difference is that social has to do with the structure of society, whilst sociable is used to describe people.
We will therefore say that David is a sociable person when we mean that he is someone who takes pleasure in the company of others, he enjoys mixing. This is a context in which we would be better to avoid David is a social person.
Where we use social is a context in which we are considering society as a whole. For example we would say my: ‘Teenage drunkenness is a social problem.’ And we will also use the term 'social class' to discuss the standing in society of someone or of a group of people.
This clear cut distinction does however, become clouded where social is used in reference to activities in which people meet together for pleasure: ‘a social event`. Here, the adjective 'social' is not being used to describe a person but is describing an event which was held expressly to enable people to meet together and to enjoy each other`s company.
Similarly: ‘Lisa called on her neighbours for purely social reasons.’ In this sentence we are saying that the visit to her neighbours was made to further the opportunities of meeting together. This getting together of people is very much a social function. It remains true, however, that meeting together to enjoy each other`s company is clearly an activity in which people engage with society; looked at that way, it is entirely appropriate that we should use the adjective that is used to describe society (social) rather than the one that relates more directly to an individual (sociable).
So therefore, ‘l missed the last bus home, so therefore l had to stay in town overnight’. It’s a bit unfortunate, missing the last bus. And so is the use of `so therefore' to describe what happened. Combining 'so' and 'therefore' in the same phrase is very common tautology, almost a colloquialism. But that doesn`t make it right, and the good news is that it is very easy to avoid. In the example sentence we have given we can simply change the second part of the sentence to read either 'so l had to stay in town (omitting the 'therefore`) or ‘therefore I had to stay in town (omitting the so). You save a word and write better English at a stroke.
Stationary and stationery:
I remember learning this at junior school! Here we have a pair of sound-alikes: two words with different spellings and totally different meanings but which share the same pronunciation. Sound-alikes are always a rich field for spelling mistakes – partly because most spellcheckers will not pick up the difference – and stationary versus stationery is a good example. Spelt with an a stationary means to stay still; spelt with an e, stationery is all about paper, envelopes and all the other things you use when writing. If you remember that E stands for Envelopes - and that envelopes are stationery – you should easily remember which spelling has to do with writing supplies. These memory games can sound silly, but they do work and no one else has to know that you play them. I do all the time!
Substitute or replace:
Assume that, in the interests of economy, you choose to use margarine instead of butter. We can correctly say that margarine is being substituted for butter: equally well, we can say that butter is being replaced by margarine. lt would however be best to avoid saying that butter is being substituted by margarine. You could possibly say that butter is being displaced by margarine, but `displace` carries a hint that something has been removed by force. lf a manager has been displaced`, the suggestion is that he has been fired; if he has been replaced it suggests that the change is occurring because he has resigned or retired. So it would be fine for us to talk about butter being replaced by margarine, but to use 'displace' in this context is to use a word that is a little too strong for the job.
Summon or summons:
There should be sufficient difference between these two words to ensure that they do not create confusion. But it can happen. Summon, of course, is a verb. You summon someone when you exercise your authority and require them to appear somewhere – for example, to attend a meeting.
On the other hand summons is most often a noun, it is the notice you give when notifying someone that they are required to attend a court appearance. You can use summons as a verb in its legal context to mean to serve with a summons, but this is somewhat specialised usage. All this is perfectly straightforward, but you see sentences such as: 'He was summonsed to head office to meet the new Managing Director.` This sentence would be better if it said ‘summoned to head office' rather than ‘summonsed.
Summons is used as a verb only in a specialised legal sense rather than in everyday English.
These are all easy examples and so often used in the wrong context, it just takes a bit of thought beforehand.
SOON! Paperback version of The Assassins’ Village:
Can I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has recently bought my books – The Assassins’ Village is now #41 Top Rated in Kindle Store > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > Women Sleuths – Wonderful, a huge thank you!
And within the next three weeks I should have the first copies of the paperback version. Quite a lot of followers who have already read, The Crossing and are waiting for this new paperback version of The Assassins’ Village can reserve a signed copy by simply filling the comment form on here (under same tab as blog). For those of you further afield, once it’s on Amazon I’ll also let you know.
Have a great week everyone and thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I hope you enjoy my snippets.
Good morning and welcome once again. For this blog post I’m not going to directly mention anything about books. Instead, I’m going off on a tangent that has interested me for some time - and it's a bit of fun.
Have you ever wondered what writers get up to when not penning or tapping away in the late hours at their laptop? Reading a multitude of writers’ websites and blogs I’ve found that almost all have another interest which they channel some of their energies into. The list is vast and diverse and quite shocking considering some of their ages! Now I’m not going to divulge just who collects Hollywood film stars’ discarded underwear, or who likes to cross-dress when busy with a WIP as I might just be sued for slander! But what I can tell you is the the type of pastime they engage in and how many do participate in it:
Base jumping (1) jump from a fixed building with a parachute, Body boarding (5) akin to wave surfing, Cliff Jumping (4), Cycling (12), BMX (2), Dirt Jumping (2), Downhill (4),Unicycling (2), Extreme Motorsport (3), Football Freestyle (2), Kite surfing (8), Motor Cross (2), Paragliding (5), Parkour (2), Rock climbing (5), Roller skating (6), Sandboarding (4), Skateboarding (4),Skiing (18), Snowboarding (16), Snowmobile (5), Surfing (17), Canyoning (7), Horse-riding (15), Running(20), Sailing(14). Amazing?
Of course other writers have many alternative pastimes; diving with/without sharks, bull running, rodeo, etc.etc. And I haven’t even mentioned the more sedate hobbies such as cooking, reading, tapestry, shell collecting, walking and restoring antiques.
Which brings me to my own and other great passion in life, ‘treading the boards’ or acting.
Many of you will know that I’ve been a member of various theatre groups since leaving school, and during that time I’ve had great fun playing roles in many diverse plays, one-acts and musical shows. I’m currently appearing in Romeo and Juliet, which we’re performing at the ancient Roman site of Curium amphitheatre in Cyprus. Can you imagine how exciting it is to stand on that aged stage in front of an audience of over a thousand people to deliver your lines?! Simply fantastic!
We’ve got two more performances tonight and tomorrow (25th and 26th June), so if you’re in the vicinity we’d love to see you!
I’ve always been interested in Shakespeare, and R & J is the most beautiful and tragic of love stories ever written. Next year we’re performing Macbeth and yes, I’ll be up there for a role in that most favourite of mine of plays. It’s no coincidence that in my latest novel, The Assassins’ Village, I quote Macbeth at the beginning of every chapter. His words are so beautiful and fit each chapter perfectly – oops! Sorry I said I wasn’t going to mention books for a change, didn’t I? I crave forgiveness!
June is fast coming to an end. Just where has the month flown? Soon July will be heralded in; the time for holidays and adventure, with hopefully some relaxing times to sit in the shade and indulge in a quieter pastime - reading.
Have a great weekend and a rewarding week ahead.
Good morning everyone and welcome to another Sample Sunday.
Earlier this week I posted on my blog, ‘What price eBooks? A Writer has to eat’. Today I’m going to continue writing about eBooks as I believe; this is the BEST TIME EVER to be a writer!
Why? Well because we as self-publishing writers are at the forefront of this newly discovered world of literary works. I’ve spent some time this week reading articles and talking to gurus in publishing, and they almost all tell of an era in which there are some amazing shifts in power and change within the ‘established’ book publishing industry.
So I believe it’s US, who are leading the way and making sweeping changes with eBooks. Digital writing and publishing, hand-in-hand with social networking can only revolutionise the book business as a whole. And by revolutionising I don’t just mean by how books are written and published. No, I mean how the self-published author can shift the power from established publishers to the author, giving us the upper hand.
Traditional book publishers can’t really predict what will sell or not, and the old methods of selling and marketing a book no longer work – and people are now saying so.
So, what does work? Telling everyone you know, ‘I’ve just read this super book!’
Enter the author. If you as an author connects directly with the reader, that’s great. Readers like to get to know their favourite authors, it doesn’t matter who published the book!
Authors today can reach their market to connect directly with interest groups, book bloggers, websites, to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networking channels. Authors can reach precisely the readers who might be interested in knowing about their work, whether it’s fiction, a literary novel or genre thriller, sci-fi and mystery, paranormal or rites of passage stories, using this new form of self-marketing. The author can now reach readers and create visibility and connection online.
Publishers have finally cottoned on to this and they now expect all authors on their books to be highly involved in their marketing plans, and to be willing and able!
So as authors we can ask ourselves this question. If publishers are now relying on the author to sell their own books, why should authors suffer the long, tedious, job of finding a literary agent and then hopefully on to selling your book to a commercial book publisher?
Many self-published authors have done well and sold their books in the thousands – and that’s why many more authors are self-publishing.
Self-publishing is now the most powerful and effective device for test marketing your book around. If you can sell thousands of your books on your own, you’ve proved there’s a market for your book. More importantly, you know how to reach it.
Conversion from self-publishing to commercial publishing is becoming more common, but many self-published authors, don’t want to convert. These want to control everything themselves. By this I include: the content, design, marketing of their book and the division of royalties. Publishers pay 10-20% royalties, whereas a self-published author can receive 70% or more of list price and make more money.
Some top agents now represent leading self-published authors and have begun to help self-publishing authors get professional outside developmental and copy-editing.
But at the end of the day you still have to write a good book and you need to put as much time and energy as you can on self-marketing. You need to be online with your website, you need to blog, tweet, connect on Facebook and make short videos for YouTube.
You have to be visible, and let people know about yourself and your book. However you do it, if you want readers to know about your book you have to sell it yourself. It’s your job. It’s essential if you want to be a successful writer in today’s world.
Self-publishing offers more freedom and control and with often a quicker path to the market, and a healthier share of the profits. But the reality is that it’s just as hard as ever to write a good book. A book that generates and sustains the buzz, a book that people want to tell their friends about and a book that produces major sales.
That hasn’t changed – but I truly believe that today is still the best time ever to be a writer.
What do you think?
Phew! Let’s now cool off with some refreshing homemade lemonade, especially as my lemon tree is over-laden with succulent fruit.
4 lbs. granulated sugar
3 pints of boiling water
1 oz. citric acid
1oz. tartaric acid
Wash lemons, cut in half and squeeze juice into large bowl. Place sugar in bowl and add acids. Cut skins finely and add to bowl, pour boiling water over mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved. Soak for 36 hours. Stir occasionally. Strain and bottle. Keep in fridge.
Today I'm going to talk about eBook pricing. I'm sure all of my readers have noticed that there's a wide variety of eBook pricing schemes out there, ranging from giving it away to charging even more than for the hardcover edition. Who's right?
Pricing of anything is not an exact science, but it seems like eBooks have even further to go than other media as eBooks do have a "perceived value". On the other hand, it is possible to drop too low, the fact being that most people in a capitalist society interpret "free" as "low quality". After all, if it was any good, why wouldn't you charge money for it? By the same token, how often do you hear, "you get what you pay for"? Most consumers are going to think that a $1 eBook won't be as good as a $10 eBook. It's the way we're conditioned. If you charge too little, people think it's not going to be good enough to be worth their time in the first place.
So what's the answer?
The first thing to ask yourself in pricing is what are you charging for? I agree that authors should be compensated for their work, and that publishers have to pay their bills as well. Maybe content should have some sort of base price, the value of the information itself. Onto that publishers could tack on the actual cost of producing the media.
Let’s set up a model as an example.
Let's suppose the "base price" for a typical novel is $4.00, split evenly between the author and publisher (to cover editing, publicity, etc.). That's already much more than most novelists make per copy sold. So onto those four dollars, we add:
For an eBook, which has minimal production cost, and just the cost of maintaining the server and ecommerce system as overhead, we'll tack on one dollar. EBook Price: $5.00
For a paperback, which costs about a dollar to produce and another to distribute, we'll add two. Paperback Price: $6.00
For a hardcover, we'll add about four dollars to cover production and another two for distribution. Hardcover Price: $10.00
For an audio book, we'll add about four dollars to cover the production and cost of media. Audiobook Price: $8.00
In this model, writers get what they'd currently get just for hardcovers for every copy sold, publishers get a fair share of the pie, and the rest of the saving are passed on to the consumer. The actual content costs the same, regardless of media, and the price differentials are based only on the consumer's choice of medium.
So how does an author set the price of their eBooks?
Lots of ideas came to mind. Below is just a few of what I thought about.
What is my book worth to me as an author?
Everyone will be different with their thoughts and it will depend on many factors. I have included the time it takes to write a book. The cost preparing the book for publication- inexperienced writers can take weeks designing book covers, formatting, self-editing and proofing their book. Professional services are invaluable but come at a high cost. Most writers with little capital will defer turning to an editor at first.
What will customers pay for a book written by a relatively unknown author?
With a relatively unknown author, quality is an unknown part of the equation. The reader’s perception of the quality of the work is a serious obstacle for the author of a new book to overcome.
Can I change the price?
Whatever price is set, it can be changed to either increase, or decrease the retail price. I would think that a writer could become known for their pricing, so strategy could be a problem.
Does the market place govern price?
Pricing strategies have changed rapidly in the eBook market. Traditionally more eReaders on the market increased eBook sales. Last year Amazon announced commission structure changes, many authors reduced, or increased their price to the minimum $2.99 to give them the 70% commission ($2.00 royalty). Others stayed at, or reduced their prices to $0.99, which would only give them 35% commission ($0.35 royalty.) Two things happened. A lot who increased their price saw a dramatic drop in sales (but not necessarily income.) while others who chose $0.99, saw their sales take off (but not necessarily their income). Those authors with books set at 0.99′s seemed to win out as their books gained higher rankings, which can escalate the overall sales of a book. The inevitable happened and many reverted to a $0.99 price, together with new authors joining and setting this price to gain a reader base. Now the $0.99 price no longer has the same effect. For traditional publishers, the reverse seems to be happening; with quite a few of their new eBook releases priced the same as their printed books.
If I set a low price, how will my work be perceived?
Some readers’ opinions as to the quality of cheap books are. “You get what you pay for.” Some say they will never buy books at $0.99 after a bad experience. Reviews and word of mouth go a long way in the writing place. Some readers will purchase at this price point to give the author a chance. From my understanding, readers will generally pay up to $5.49 for an indie book, but only after looking at every aspect of what is on offer, which may include reading a sample.
Why would I change my price –what would make me do this?
Indie Writers are at the mercy of the eBook distributors. Up until now they have been quite happy to allow Indies to publish their eBooks at low prices and sometimes to offer books for free. For some readers new to buying devices, it makes the offering tempting against buying printed books when they see the low prices of eBooks. This situation is changing as the market matures. There is nothing for the distributors to be gained by offering books free in terms of revenue and it would be easy for them to alter commission structures, or have minimum prices to generate additional revenue when the market becomes stale. They could also alter the algorithms of their system to favour the visibility of higher priced books, or newly released books. I think it is worth experimenting with price. There is nothing wrong with trying a higher price first, or moving the price upward once a book gains momentum by achieving a rank.
Why do some writers put their work out for free?
7. Saying all that, free can be a useful marketing tool, it can be used to give away short samples of your work, in the hope of convincing readers that your longer work is worth buying and create a following for yourself. Before you do though, think about the following. Some people will only ever download free books and will not buy your other works. Some will download everything in sight, to the extent that they will never get round to reading it. This is the same for other price points.
For me, at the end of the day I wish to be fair, honest and not avaricious. I also have to eat! So I have priced my book, The Assassins’ Village at $2.99. My other book, The Crossing is published in London and the price is controlled by my publisher, so it may be slightly higher – but at 130,000 words it is a Quality, long read!
Last year, Amazon decided it wanted to negotiate prices for with traditional publishers to retail at no more than $9.99. McMillan and others fought this. The result was that Mc Millan’s catalogue was pulled. The loss of McMillan meant that Amazon no longer had the number one best seller, other than through third parties. As the largest retailer of books, for Amazon, this situation would have given consumers a reason to buy other that the kindle platform. This year they caved in to McMillan. This is the reason customers are now complaining as new releases are coming through at prices in some cases of dearer than the paper book.
Traditional publishers see the future as flexible pricing for their products. e.g., starting at say$15.99 at release and reducing over time to $5.99. This situation gives the indie a price point to work with between $0.99 and $5.49, to remain competitive and to overcome the notion of quality to price for indie books.
It also gives the indie a price point to work toward when formatting for POD to remain competitive and to be able to retail a paper book at $9.99.
Good morning and welcome to another Sample Sunday.
Earlier in the week, I pondered the art of blogging and why I (and many other bloggers) although having many hits on their blogs rarely received comments –or if they did they were sporadic in number.
So I did a bit of thinking and a bit of research, checked out which blogs were successful in terms of followers, regularity and contained interesting material.
Following one friend’s advice I added a side bar to my own website with all those nice easy little buttons to click on for tweeting, Facebook, Delicious etc. as, although I have a RSS feed this would make it so much easier for the reader.
And do you know what? He was right! Overnight – no, within minutes comments, re-tweets, sharing and liking went up by more than double. Thanks Tim Ellis, fellow author.
Following on from this I’ve come up with a few good (well I think so) ideas on how to raise the numbers of comments on your blog. Remember these are only my suggestions; you’ll have plenty of your own I’m sure.
1. Have a comment box and make it visible. This box will send comments directly to my email box, making it easy for me to reply to you, the sender. All comments are thus private and will remain so unless you wish me to make them public.
2. Make sure that your blog post is interesting enough for people to make a response, and that you have made an open ending – there must be room for people to express themselves. If you write a blog that is so perfect in every way then there is nothing for readers to respond to. The blog must be left ‘open’. Thus leave your posts a little unfinished.
3. Write with authority on a subject you know well; give advice, as in a ‘niche’ subject. This could even be visual – beautiful colourful photographs, amazing animal pictures, geographical beauty.
As I said just a few ideas…At the end of the day maybe there are too many people saying the same thing, hence the ‘heads-up’ posts.
I think my blog should contain my thoughts and be of just my voice.
To me, blogging is a mongrel form of communication. In the olden days there were pamphlets and books, which we read. Newspapers and magazines came next, with their shorter précised articles. These were (are) one-way forms of communication. They are written and we read them. We can sometimes contact the author of the article but in the main they are one-way communication forms.
Two-way communication was in the beginning face-to-face talking. Inventions brought about radio, telegraph, telephone and video, which are in the main for the spoken word.
Then along came modern technology - Email, messaging, texting and then the big brother of them all - social networking. This does allow for two-way written communication, but not for commentary.
In my mind, blogs allow commentary and two-way communication. I think that a blog writer who interacts with his or her audience will have the greatest success. Indeed it is probably imperative to their success.
Which brings me back to why blog in the first place? Am I trying to enlighten you or am I unsure as a writer and looking for answers and/or a different point-of-view?
So. If I enlighten you then replies are unnecessary. But if I’m looking for answers then YOUR replies and comments are a mark of my success. What do you think?
Please post your comments in the comment box. You can find this under the tab named ‘contact’ under the ‘more’ tab.
Have a great Sunday and following week. Now for a spot of Sunday lunch – see below recipe.
Ginger, Prawn and Mango Stir-fry. (For 2-4 persons)
4 carrots cut into matchsticks
Small bunch of spring onions
2 green chillies
2 red chillies
40g fresh root ginger, cut thinly
3 garlic cloves, crushed
10 plum tomatoes, diced
12 large prawns, heads off, shelled, deveined and cut along the back
2 mangoes, skinned and cut into small wedges
4 tablespoons rum
Heat oil in wok. Add carrots, stir-fry for 30 secs. Add onions and fry for a minute. Add chillies, ginger and garlic, stir-fry for 30 secs. Add tomatoes and fry 1 min. Season and remove from pan and place on a warm serving dish.
Sear prawns, (they’ll open like butterflies). Add mangoes. Splash in rum and flambé.
Arrange prawns, ginger and mangoes with their pan juices on a bed of the stir-fried vegetables. Amazing!!
So who has a blog? How often is it read, let alone commented on. I expect you'll have heard of the 90-9-1 rule. 1 % of your readers will regularly leave comments on your posts. 9 % will leave one here and now. While 99 % will NEVER EVER leave a comment!
Does this matter to you? That you're spending valuable time (when you could be writing!) and that people will never comment on? Maybe...you say...well we all have our own feeling upon that.
Some bloggers get concerned; their blog posts and page viewers are up - often substantially - but left comments are very few.
There could be many reasons; too many blogs, micro-bloggin e.g Twitter etc. Many readers have little time to read a whole blog. They look at the header/title and opt for whatever catches their eye. Such as on Facebook, it's so easy to leave a short message there without even having to visit your main blog on your website. Or maybe they'll answer a teasing question on Twitter - it's an easy option just like Facebook.
I'm going to mull this topic over and get back to you - probably on sunday. Please - all of you - have a think and get ready to reply to whatever answers and questions I come up with!!
Have a super day
Authors Mastermind: Round 1
Good evening and welcome to tonight’s edition of Authors’ Mastermind. My name is Faith Mortimer and I welcome tonight’s first contender. Could you please state your name and occupation?
Lia Fairchild - Writer
Thank you. Now, can you tell us your chosen subject?
I recently completed In Search of Lucy, my first novel; a dramatic Romance.
Now would you please answer the following questions on your chosen subject? You have a maximum number of 250 words on each question. If you do not know the answer, say pass and we’ll move on to another question. The total number of passes will be counted and deducted against your final score. Are you ready? Good then I’ll begin.
1. Lia Fairchild how do you describe yourself; as a writer and as a person?
As a person, I am first a mother and a wife. I love to do things for others and spend time enjoying my family. I am laid back, silly, crazy, hardworking, creative and sometimes obsessive. As a writer, I’m just starting to discover who I am. I’ve taken on many different careers in my life and have always gone full force, giving 110 per cent, which has usually seen me rise to the top. I’m hoping I continue that trend with writing. I’ve always loved creativity and coming up with new ideas. I love looking at things from different perspectives and seeing things from others’ point of views. With writing I’ve finally found a way to incorporate all that and share it with people.
2. Do you do anything that would tell us you lead an interesting or indeed a crazy life?
I guess that I have just tried to do anything I set my mind to or anything I think is a good idea. I’ve never let anything stop me. If I feel like dancing to 80s music in my garage with my husband, then I’ll do it. If I want to write a novel, then I make the decision and move forward. The only problem, according to my husband, is once I do decide on something I stay totally focused on it until it’s done and sometimes I go a little overboard.
3. Briefly, describe your journey into writing your first book and what or who inspired you.
I’ve always loved to create things and always wanted to create something big and lasting. I also always have a lot of ideas running through my head. When this idea came to me I felt such a drive to write the story. The most important thing to me was that I didn’t give up and I saw the project through to completion.
4. Are you working on anything right now? (Either pass on this question or give an answer). If you do pass then your next question is:
Yes, I am working on a new book that is very different from my first one. In Search of Lucy is a drama/romance. My new novel is a romantic comedy.
5a. Do you ever struggle with parts of the book you’re working/writing on?
This time I am writing in first person which is different from my first book. In some ways it is easier but there are times when I want something to happen or want to show something with a different character and it is more difficult doing that in first person.
If you answered Q 4, then you next question is;
5b. What is your next book about, and where do you get your ideas from?
Since I’m in the beginning stages, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a romantic comedy about a career woman that works for a magazine.
6. How would you define your writing working day? Give us some indication of where you work, and the length of time you spend on your project.
I wish I had more time to write. If I’m not working at my “other” job, then I like to write in the morning when the house is quiet and empty. Otherwise, I’ll try to fit time in on the weekend or even at night. I have a nice little landing area upstairs that has a desk and my laptop. I spend tons of time there.
7. Tell us about characterisation. How do you develop your characters? Do you feel they are important in the overall picture? Do you ever base them on real people?
I think characters are hugely important. Characters can make or break the story in movies and I think it is the same for books. I love to find interesting little characteristics of people I know and fit them into a character.
8. What about the editing and redrafting process? When do you do this?
This is my first book, so I don’t really have a set process. I just knew I had a very specific vision of how the story would play out, so I didn’t change anything until the whole story was complete.
9. How have you overcome any trials and tribulations of rejection?
Not really, but I’m assuming it is too early. I will eventually look into seeking a publisher or literary agent and from what I’ve heard it’s almost all rejection. So, I’m ready for it.
10. If you were not writing, what would be your choice of employment?
Teacher. I have a multiple subject teaching credential along with a B.A. degree in Journalism.
Thank you. Your score on your chosen subject is 9. You passed on no questions but answered 5a which should have been left as you chose to answer question 4. An excellent score.
Now for the General Knowledge section.
1. Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
Be Careful What You Wish For by Sibel Hodge
2. Name your five favourite authors.
I don’t really have favourite authors as I am open to any genre or new story. Lately I have really enjoyed Sophie Kinsella, Sandra Brown, Elin Hilderbrand and Nicholas Sparks.
3. Who, out of your five favourite people would you like to invite to dinner at your house. You will be doing the catering. What is your ideal menu, you would provide? (You must be able to cook this!)
I would probably invite Elin because her books are always so vacation oriented so maybe she is a lot of fun and can talk about different places. Since my husband cooks more than I do, then I’ll make the appetizer; stuffed mushrooms.
4. Do any authors inspire you? If so, which ones?
The hard-working indie authors I’ve met over the last few months have really inspired me to learn all I can about this business and keep moving forward and getting your book out there. (Ed’s note. Excellent answer this!)
5. What things in your life would you love to do that you haven’t yet achieved. Your answer should NOT be ‘become a rich and famous author’. If you fall back on this answer, then 3 marks will be deducted from your overall score.
I’ve said many times before that I love art in all forms. I have a piano sitting in my living room and it I had the time and money I’d be getting private lessons and learn to play. I’ve learned some songs just by listening, but would love to really play something challenging.
6. Describe your ideal day; working and leisure (only clean answers please).
If I could choose anything, my plan would be simple. I would wake-up, have a snack, a swim and a shower. Then maybe a nice breakfast on a patio somewhere, a walk with my family. Next I’d do some writing or painting. I’d probably end with the movies or cuddling on the couch with my family reading. My house can be very loud and the one time that we are all in the same room with silence is when we are reading together. It’s priceless.
7. What has been the most memorable thing that has happened to you in a, your writing career and b, in your private life (again, only cleans answers will be accepted).
My most memorable time as a writer is when I first saw my book selling. I had been selling one book every few days and when I got to six books I said to myself the next morning, “Please let me see a seven.” When I looked it was twenty-five. I was so excited.
8. Are you a disciplined person in everyday life? How would/does this reflect in your writing?
Sometimes I am too disciplined. My whole life I’ve thought first to do the responsible thing, or the thing that will make everyone happy. This tends to limit the time I spend writing. Completing this book was a step in the direction of taking care of me.
9. Do you keep a dart-board handy with rejection letters from Publishing House editors’ photographs pinned to it? If so, what is your highest score?
10. What are your five desert island books?
The Choice, Chill Factor, Remember Me? and, sorry drawing a blank now, maybe something spooky. One more would be my new romantic comedy once it’s completed.
Tie-breaker question. Tell us the most outrageous/embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you. What were the consequences? A bonus of 5 extra points will be awarded to the best answer from contenders to the Authors Mastermind Crown.
My daughter learned the word for something her brother had but she didn’t. Well, she went to town saying that word all over the place, including the plane to San Francisco. I just kept trying to cover up by saying, “No honey, they are not bringing more peanuts.”
Thank you. Your time is now up. You managed to complete all these questions with no passes. However, you failed on Questions 2 and 3 as you didn’t complete the question.
Your overall score is 17. We shall see how you do against the other contenders.
Well done Lia Fairchild and thank you.
(Lia Fairchild is the author of In Search of Lucy – available on Amazon.) Please click on the book link at the top of the article for more information.
Good Day Everyone!
Another week zoomed past, and what a strange week. After May’s sales - which were phenomenal for a first month following the release of The Assassins’ Village – everything went quiet. I put it down to a couple of things; public holidays in the UK and US, and Amazon, who brought out a seasonal offer on assorted Kindle books published from a few mid to small pub houses. Anyway, after two slow days, things picked up and we’re back on track with our sales. The Assassins’ Village has been awarded two cracking new reviews this week - thank you readers! – And I mustn’t neglect The Crossing which has been blessed with a sudden rise in popularity producing a rush of new sales.
This Sunday’s blog is Chapter 5 from The Assassins’ Village as it’s been some time since I added an excerpt on here. Following the read I’ve added a curry that I made up myself. Easy and quick to make and simply delicious! Enjoy!
Chapter 5. Sunday 29th.
Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day.
Macbeth. Act 1 Scene 3
Leaning against the old china sink, Sonja drank her second glass of ice-cold water. She normally walked her dogs in the cool of the early morning, but today she somehow could not get herself together. She had not slept well during the hot and airless night, and just as the first grey light had spread over the hillside opposite, she had fallen into a deep troubled slumber. When Leslie woke her a little later, asking when she might or might not be preparing breakfast, he had found that she was annoyed, as she’d overslept for the first time in years.
‘You might have woken me before now,’ she grumbled, tossing the crumpled and damp bed sheet to one side. ‘Now I’m all behind, and the dogs haven’t had their early walk,’ she paused at the end of their bed in an accusatory stance.
Leslie eyed her with a rather baleful expression that could have meant anything. He twitched the sheet to recover his legs and picked up the book he had been reading. He had been in the mood for sex earlier, but he knew what the answer would have been if he had suggested it. Her and her annoying, damn dogs. These days she had little time to spare for him. Apart from the animals, she spent hours working in the garden and the rest in the kitchen. Her passion was making the most lavish of iced cakes, which she sold to a baker’s shop in Episkopi.
Sonja gave an exasperated sigh, before flouncing off towards the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. Leslie gave a little spiteful smile. He was out of sorts himself for these past few days. It was time for someone else to feel irritated with life.
Glancing out of the nearby window Leslie saw that the sun had climbed halfway up into the sky. Already, he could feel the promise of another scorching day. Another ten minutes and it would be too hot to lie in bed. The sound of the telephone brought him out of his reverie; it was early for friends to call despite a Cypriot day starting at first light. Slightly puzzled, Leslie lifted the receiver and listened.
Sonja hadn’t noticed it was yet another beautiful and sunny day. Leslie’s sudden announcement that the police were planning on paying them – no him, let us get that straight, a visit later that morning had placed her mind in a whirl. She could not begin to imagine what they could possibly want with Leslie. He had done nothing wrong that she knew of, except been extremely late in taxing the car again. As usual he had misplaced the renewal paperwork, and being a complete computer dinosaur, he hadn’t yet mastered the art of doing it over the Internet despite everyone saying how convenient and simple it was.
Leslie said that the policeman was adamant. He wanted to speak to Leslie, and would around eleven o’clock be convenient? On a Sunday as well!
Shortly after eleven, the doorbell to the courtyard rang and Sonja opened it to face two men dressed in suits. One was short and swarthy with a badly pitted olive complexion. His mother had obviously never heard of acne treatment when he had been in his teens. He was about forty-ish, had a receding hairline, and looked grumpy. The younger man was tall and rangy; his dark brown eyes were alert, probably never missing a thing. Sonja felt him staring deeply as the older man addressed her, and despite the sun, could not help suppressing a shiver.
‘Kuria Flowers? I am Inspector Andreas Christopopodolou and this is my colleague Sergeant Yiannis Loukiades. I believe your husband is expecting us, yes?’
Sonja took the dry outstretched hand in front of her. Later, she wished she had never been there to receive them. That she had never met the two policemen who were so polite to her. But above all, she wished she had never learnt the reason why they had cause to visit her husband in the first place.
How could he, the stupid fool? For years, she had known about his past affairs with other, prettier women. But to have the police involved in something that was so scandalous, and sordid. At first she refused to understand what they were saying. When they interviewed Leslie she couldn’t believe her ears. It must be all a ghastly mistake? The woman must be partly to blame evidently. Those who wore short skirts and low-necked blouses were nothing short of being common surely? Her mind whirled with all sorts of questions as she listened to what they had to say.
As soon as the supercilious Inspector and his observant Sergeant had left their house and were out of earshot Sonja turned to Leslie in a rage.
‘How dare you! It’s bad enough that I have had to put up with your affairs over the years, but now this. They accused you of pestering her! Do you know how serious that is? And what if our so-called friends and neighbours get to find out, eh? Can you imagine the mileage they’ll get out of it?’ she hissed at him. ‘What were you thinking of? You’re nothing but an aging Lothario and a bloody stupid one at that.’
Sonja’s voice took on an edge that was bordering on the hysterical. She persisted in shouting at him. Her body shook with anger. Her usually pale eyes darkened as she worked herself up into a fury; her face suffused a mottled red. As much as Leslie was used to her often-short outbursts of temper, he appeared taken aback by the hate and venom that showed in the stiff rigid lines of her body and face. Never, had he seen her so angry. In order to diffuse the situation he attempted to make light of the matter.
‘Sonja, Sonja calm down. I tell you it’s all a little misunderstanding. I haven’t been near her at all. Okay, I admit I was attracted to her, once upon a time, but that’s all it was, just a slight attraction to a pretty woman. We enjoyed a mutual flirtation. That is all. Believe me. Nothing happened. Honestly.’
‘Do you really expect me to believe all that, that bullshit? I heard what the police said. They wouldn’t have come here if she hadn’t made some sort of complaint about you. I know she is the last of your tarts in a long line of your; “little lapses in marital harmony”. As if that is not enough! You are a bloody liar! You couldn’t leave her alone, like all the others, another one your “horizontals”. Except this time, you couldn’t take the hint when she told you to leave her alone. That it was all off. Oh no, not you.’
‘I’ve told you the police have it all wrong,’ he whined in a conciliatory tone as if he was just realising she was going to make this difficult for him. ‘It’s all been blown out of proportion, believe me.’
‘That’s half the trouble. I don’t bloody believe you. Leslie, why would they have bothered to come all this way? It’s a good half an hour from Limassol. No. You’re lying again, only this time you’ve gone too far. You’ve probably terrified the little harlot and a good thing too, she should have known better. She should have kept her hands off someone else’s husband. God knows there are enough single men on this island for her to pick and choose from.’
‘She’s not a harlot,’ Leslie said quietly. ‘You’ve always liked Tilly before.’
Sonja could not stop herself. Before she knew what she was doing she had hit Leslie hard across the mouth. ‘Don’t you dare mention that woman’s name to me,’ she screeched, her Scottish accent becoming more pronounced. ‘Get out. Get out before I throw you out. I’ve a good mind to anyway. I’ve had enough. This is the final straw.’
Leslie reeled back from the force of her hand. An angry red mark was livid across his left cheek and his lower lip was bleeding from where Sonja’s ring had torn his unprotected skin. He looked astounded at her violence; a cold nasty glint appeared in his eyes. He drew himself up, a threatening look upon his face. ‘I doubt that. I doubt that very much. You’re forgetting My Lady, that I own this house. It’s in my name only. Likewise, the same will apply when we eventually move to our new one next month. So don’t you ever forget it,’ he withdrew a cotton handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed at his split lip before continuing. ‘No, my dear. Remember, I call the final tune,’ his rejoinder was accompanied with a spiteful malicious smile.
‘You’re a total bastard! I hate you!’ she spat at him.
‘Maybe, but while I’m alive, I’m the one that calls the tune. As I’ve said before you’ve nothing without my say so. And you know what they say about hate being akin to love.’
‘You’re nothing but a-a, fucking power freak,’ she replied shakily.
‘Oh, you can talk,’ he said, putting his handkerchief away. ‘I’m going out now for a walk. It’ll give you time to think about your position and let you calm down. Go and try to repair your face. Crying doesn’t make you in the slightest bit attractive.’
Sonja could not believe he could be so horrible, so completely thoughtless and cold. She watched him as he cockily crossed the tiled floor of the dining room. He picked up a straw hat and placed it jauntily on his head. Without bothering to give her another look he flung open the door to the outside. The blazing sunshine streamed into the room, dust motes whirling in the draught. Seemingly, without a care in the world, he sauntered down onto the cobbled lane that led to their usual walk along the lower track.
Still standing where he had left her, Sonja began to shake uncontrollably. She knew not why, but found she couldn’t stop. She shook with anger and shock. Her legs felt wobbly and she could not move. She was annoyed with herself for letting it come to this. Furious with him for the distress it caused her. Most of all, she was livid because he did in fact hold all the cards. He was right; he did own the house. She possessed very little money of her own, a small pension and a few savings. He had not wanted her to have a career. Leslie preferred her to stay at home and provide all the comforts he desired. All their time together she had been forced to accept his domination over her. She hadn’t noticed it at first, during their early and happier years. Later she began to resent his control. Once he died – and he was nearly twenty years older than she – then his will stated that the house would become hers. There was not a lot to look forward to until then.
Not until she was free of him.
Sonja finally realised. It had taken something like this for the reality to sink in. A tear escaped her eye and then another. Damn him! Damn him to hell. She traced Leslie’s footsteps over to the outer door and took hold of it to close it. Before she could do so however, a shadow fell across her and she looked up to see Alicia standing there.
‘There! You have the whole sordid story,’ Sonja sniffed, after blowing into her already soggy tissue. Minutes earlier, a spellbound Alicia had listened as Sonja retold the morning’s events and what led up to them. Alicia said very little, but appeared to eagerly and almost ghoulishly absorb Sonja’s sordid tale, word for word. Finally, Sonja stopped talking and sat looking miserable and lost in the faded armchair in her living room.
‘How long has this been happening? Leslie’s affairs,’ she now asked Sonja with a hint of a gleam in her eyes.
Sonja failed to notice as she reached over to attack the tissue box once again.
‘Oh, for years and years. He’s always had a mistress or girlfriend in tow it seems. Almost from the time we first married. He could never say no. Not all of them were anything special either. He just can’t resist shagging anything in a skirt,’ she replied bitterly. ‘He can’t keep his sodding willy in his trousers.’
She sniffed again and looked down at the wet tissue in her hand.
‘So he wasn’t choosy?’
‘No, not especially. Why?’
‘He never turned anyone down?’
‘Oh I don’t know. Why should I. Look, what does it matter anyway? It’s his current affair that’s the problem. Hopefully, the police have given him a good fright. I would hate to have them in the house again,’ she gave a little shiver.
‘Where did you say he had gone?’
Sonja flashed Alicia a look of irritation. ‘I don’t know. Out somewhere for a walk he said. I hope he gets himself well and truly lost. It would serve him damn well right. He said I had to calm down! Bloody cheek! He’s probably gone along our usual track. You know, the lower one before it eventually forks down to the river. I doubt if he’d go any further in this heat, it’s too hot to make the climb back up.’
‘Are you okay now?’ Alicia asked Sonja whilst surreptitiously glancing at her wristwatch.
‘Yes. I am. Alicia, I’m sorry to have burdened you with all this. You just came along at the wrong moment.’
‘Don’t worry; it’s not a burden,’ Alicia smiled at her. ‘Try and take your mind off it. What about a nice soothing camomile tea? I find it really helps.’
‘Maybe. I ought to sort something out for lunch, not that I want anything, but he will. Perhaps I’ll let him get his own while I take the dogs out again. I could go somewhere different for a change, maybe up at Platres. It’s cooler there,’ she was half talking to herself.
Alicia stood up, taking another casual glance at her watch. ‘Well Sonja, I really must run. I have something to do that I keep putting off. Look, I’ll pop in again later if you like, after lunch maybe. Or would you like to come over to me?’
‘I don’t know. I’m fine now really. I just feel bloody stupid. I’ll maybe give you a ring a bit later on this afternoon.’ Feeling more herself, Sonja was beginning to realise that she had told Alicia far more than she would have in normal circumstances. Despite Alicia being a sort of friend, Sonja was well aware Alicia harboured certain feelings towards her husband, and had done so for a long time, for years and years. She knew that they had been lovers. She had never condoned the fact.
‘Okay. I’ll see you later then. Don’t sit around and brood. Go for that walk. It’ll do you good. Or plan a shopping trip to Nicosia for next week. You could treat yourself to something nice.’
‘You know I hate shopping,’ Sonja grimaced at the thought.
‘Yes, you do. Well I’ll be off then.’
Alicia walked through to the dining room and Sonja let her out. The intense heat from the sun bounced off the thick stonewalls surrounding them. Alicia turned and made her way carefully down the hill. Sonja watched her go. She cut a strange figure. Tall and thin, she almost always dressed in a white shirt and outlandish rust coloured knickerbockers that contrasted wildly with her vivid red hair. An ancient, tattered leather bag she used for gathering herbs hung from her shoulder.
Sonja turned away, relieved to be alone once more. As she crossed back into the dim recess of the house, she fleetingly wondered why Alicia had appeared at her house that morning. She had been so completely upset over the morning's events; she had forgotten to ask her.
Not that she had stayed very long.
Faith’s Pineapple and Minced Pork Curry.
A small pineapple (or a tin)
1 lb minced pork
1 small onion
3 hot green chillies
1 ½ tsps. curry powder
¼ tsps. Turmeric
1 tsps. Fish sauce
½ tsps. Mustard seeds
6 curry leaves (opt)
4 garlic cloves – crushed
½ inch fresh ginger, grated
¼ cup coconut milk
2/3 tbls oil
Heat oil and fry onions, pork and chillies until soft. Add all ingredients except coconut milk and sugar. Stir, to coat pineapple with ingredients. Add rest of ingredients and cook slowly for about 20 minutes. Serve with rice and naan bread. Scrummy!
Enjoy your weekend.
Shakespeare at a Roman Amphitheatre.
Just a quick few words today as for some reason I feel like a hamster on its little tread wheel. I seem to be taking three steps forward and four backward.
What with websites, blogs, advertising, marketing, chasing up people who’ve promised to do things - oh and still find time to write – life is one big hectic circle. And that’s before I even think about a social life!
Socially we do a lot of things. One of our main and obviously favourite pastimes is drama. We belong to a group that put on Shakespeare at a genuine Roman Amphitheatre. This year we’re performing Romeo and Juliet and I have a couple of minor, but important parts to play.
It is of course a coincidence that in my latest thriller, The Assassins’ Village, it is centred around a Cyprus village complete with a drama group who revel in Shakespeare – except in The Assassins’ Village the Shakespeare play involved is Macbeth. Now, I can’t possible say that the village drama group with all its quirks and strange characters are taken from real life people – far from it!
My book’s group are all fictitious. Even so, next year we are performing Macbeth…
If you’re around in these parts of the World for the 24th, 25th and 26th June, I’d love you to drop in and see Romeo and Juliet at Kurium. It’s a fantastic setting for this most sad of all love stories.
I’d just like to say a huge Thank you, to all of you who are supporting me on here, Facebook and twitter. And a huge thanks to all who’ve bought The Assassins’ Village. This week we’ve achieved no 2 position for best reviews and no 5 for best-selling, in new books in the last 90 days, murder and mystery and women sleuths. Life is great!