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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stay tuned for news of 'Calandra's Spring'

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

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


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


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

Proof as you go (to a point).

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

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

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

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

Happy writing!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Calandra's Spring book.

Want to know the secret of Eternal Youth?

Read this book:


Friday, March 23, 2012

Writing for profit

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

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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just spend an hour a day

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

Book writing is like quality patchwork

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good review!

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


Bach's birthday and perfection in writing

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

So far the marketing devices on the web suck!

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interesting story about the effect of words!


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

How to write to reviewers

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

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

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

But you know all this, right?

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

Some feedback

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

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

Wish me luck, folks!

Kindle Big Deal cannibalises the industry?

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

Free period courtesy Amazon Prime!

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

Reviews invited

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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Literary style - worth the effort?

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

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

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

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

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

Reading old books

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

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

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

English at its root and some common mistakes heard on TV.

Any person using the word 'tenDerhooks' instead of the correct 'tenTerhooks' please take note.  The word is derived from 'tener' to hold. The hooks in question, while used to tenderise meat, were installed for holding and hanging. A tenterhook is a gadget for hanging anything you want, not necessarily meat.  To be 'on tenterhooks' means to be 'in a state of being on hold'.

It mystifies me as to why the Catholic Church did away with the Latin mass as it made going to church less a waste of time.  It formed the basis for good (almost insidious) linguistic capability!  And for churchgoers and altar boys, the repetition was invaluable.  Sadly, schools no longer teach Latin and Greek roots as a component of English studies.  I certainly am grateful now for my childhood church routine as I am struggling with learning Spanish, but at least can read books and newspapers etc. just through applying the rules I learned years ago in English classes.  

A great art site!


This is especially for those who enjoy traditional Japanese arts and would like to own something at a very low cost. 

The stories attached to these photos/haiku/calligraphy artworks are inspirational too.

Check them out!

Write your body language into your story

But don't overdo it and beware of repeats. The Milennium Trilogy overdoes the number of times that its characters 'bit her bottom lip and stared out the window'.

A little is effective but make sure it is only once in the book.  You would be surprised how readers pick up on repeated phrases and tire of them fast.  Even habitual nail-biters can be darn annoying.

Here's a handy chart that employment agencies use when people are going for jobs. 
It is a chart of notable body language clues to emotions and it is the sort of stuff you can research to put into your books to denote TYPE or to BUILD characters.. Or people can use these in a studied way to project an image they prefer or need at the time.
Crossed arms: Anger, defensiveness
Moving away, tilting a chair back: You are too close, space is invaded
Fidgeting, tapping foot or fingers: Nervousness, boredom
Slow, deliberate walk: Confidence
Standing with hands on hips: Readiness, aggression
Sitting with legs crossed, foot kicking: slightly Boredom
Sitting, legs apart Open: relaxed
Touching, slightly rubbing nose: Rejection, doubt, lying
Rubbing the eye: Doubt, disbelief
Hands clasped behind back: Anger, frustration, apprehension
Locked ankles: Apprehension
Head resting in hand, eyes downcast: Boredom
Rubbing hands: Anticipation
Sitting with hands clasped behind head: Smugness, superiority
Open palm: Sincerity, openness, innocence
Tapping or drumming fingers: Impatience
Patting/fondling hair: Lack of self-confidence; insecurity
Stroking chin: Trying to make a decision
Looking down: face turned away Disbelief
Biting nails: Insecurity, nervousness
Pulling or tugging at ear: Indecision
Adjusting tie: Insecurity, nervousness
Putting tips of fingers of one hand against tips of the other hand: Confidence
Clearing throat: Nervousness

Shoes made me a writer.

When I was 14, it was the beginning of the pointy-toed shoes era.  I desperately wanted a pair of ultra-pointy, black patent leather high heels with a matching bag and kid leather gloves.  Stopped short of the pillbox hat though.  So I sent off some stories to an English magazine.   I could see our letterbox from my school desk, Australian History class, last period before the lunch break.  We lived across the road from the school.  When the postman would make a delivery, I would leave class as soon as I heard the first bell, vault the wire fence and collect the mail.  My letters would be ripped open fast before my parents arrived home for their lunch (they both worked at the school) and when cheques began to arrive, I would deposit the money in my savings account.  It only took one story to cover the shoes and bag.  The next cheque paid for acting lessons.  The next, train tickets to the city and the occasional Lindt chocolate treat. My stories?  Ugh, terrible rubbish, but with an arc that seemed to work.  The women all had auburn hair and pretty names like Jessica.  The men were Brent and wore camel sportscoats that had a whiff of Amphora tobacco when their lovers nestled into their shoulders.  It was good discipline. And I became self-sufficient and never told my parents how I suddenly became well dressed.  They would never have approved of my steamy (in a childish way) ramblings!  But it was the 1960s when anything could easily earn a 'grounding' or worse still, a beating with the back of a hairbrush.  Which was NOT good discipline.

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

I'm so excited about this - I actually took the plunge and uploaded my first novel to amazon.com for digital purchase only.  There are still a few wrinkles in the learning curve and I welcome any feedback.

The link to it is:

Any reviews are most welcome !

But first - let me introduce myself.  I am a citizen of Planet Earth - love to travel and at present my husband and I are taking a break in Nuevo Vallarta, a suburb of Puerto Vallarta, in Mexico.  Oldies may remember this place from 'The Love Boat' and 'Night of the Iguana'. 

Along the way, I will tell you some things about Mexico and my background.  I have worked as a writer and a producer for TV and film but gradually the writing just took over.  Personal histories are one of my favourite genres to work on, though in a financial sense, the person for whom I am 'ghosting' always expects more than is reasonable in the way of revision of aspects of their story.  The older the person, the less honest they want to be and oh, if only I could 'name names' ...

More later!