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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Should writers make trailers for their books?

The craft of writer becomes ever more demanding as it seems more evident that the full marketing chore falls on the writer's shoulders.  When will there be time to actually WRITE books??  Time is spent blogging, promoting, Tweeting, Facebooking but this is the best I have seen.  Thriller writer Greg Stenson has created little film trailers to promote his books.

Check it out here:

Publicity for 'Calandra's Spring'

A press release did make it through the clutter and can be found at:


Check out that site as it is a good way to send the news of your creation around. Every little helps!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Travel and write about it.

I have been a reader of Lonely Planet and other guide books for decades and love them all.  I was kind of shocked, though, when a friend who was a writer for (NOT Lonely Planet) a well-known guide (and note, this is pre-internet) told me that he constantly wrote about places he had never been.  He wrote some florid prose about New Guinea for a glossy mag and that really cheesed me off as I had been there years ago and the place was poles apart from any of his descriptions.  If you are a budding travel writer, you need to find a truthful voice for depicting your story.  We recently were in the Czech Republic and I could slam that place in my writing if I really wanted to.  We had a less than fabulous experience and the food was not good. Hotwire was a complete fail for our booking and we would have had a miserable time had it not been for the amazing opera house and theatres in Prague and the fact that we laughed every day (at not with the people for the most part).  Get out into the suburbs and life is a long way from the Prague Disneyland.  However, I would never tell anyone not to go. but DO validate your ticket on the buses immediately REGARDLESS of what you may read or be told.  We didn't and were heavily fined.  Innocent.  We had paid and were leaving the next day.

As well, don't buy a ticket if you are over 70 as you can travel free!

Travel books need to contain lots of snippets of info like this but in bullet points so that they are easy to scan by the stressed and disoriented traveller.  Also, maps need to contain the suburbs in order to cater for Hotwire and their strange definition of what the centre of the city really is!

I love travel almost more than anything as long as I have access to computers, my iPod and a clean place to sleep.  Not fond of back-packing these days.  Though it did give me a chance meeting with Jimi Hendrix in Paris, but, as a classical music nerd, I was not that impressed at the time at this really charming guy who came to meet his drug pusher at my backpackers' hotel.   But that's another story.

Here's a good way to advertise your book

There is a button at the right but it won't copy to my blog.  Shall have to deal with that. However, this generous woman has offered to post all new or interesting books. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

That last post

... was just me recording that we made it to #46 on the rankings.

Got to #46 Best seller in Contemporary Fiction Kindle! Yaaay!

Last day of Free Promo giveaway for "Calandra's Spring'

If you haven't taken advantage of the free giveaway of 'Calandra's Spring', today is the last day!  Every book 'purchased' helps me push up my rankings on amazon so the fact that I don't make money is not a problem.  All I ask is that you tell your friends to buy it and if you can manage, write a review (no matter how short!).

Enjoy the read!

Friday, April 27, 2012

When does 'viral' become annoying?

The first real awareness of Viral Marketing was with that dancing baby that swept around our massive computers back in 1996. Baby Cha Cha was a beta for computer animation and formed the basis of a sample source file causing a great deal of re-working and creative re-use.  It was used in Ally MacBeal which was a programme I detested so I always found it annoying when people would send me their jokes containing this rather clever piece of pioneering work.

I have been trying to get some kind of 'pyramid' effect - viral marketing - happening for my book, and to a certain extent, I think it works better if you have a Facebook full of disparate, not-friends-really, collected names.  Friends are too hesitant to buy your book even if it is free as the thought of giving you an honest critique freaks most of them out!!  Let me state - that's not me.  I am so used to be critiqued in every way for work that I am used to it.  Water off a duck's back.  Personal attacks are annoying though and it is hard to detach from that and go for the defence of the 1950s 'You're just jealous!' with a poked out tongue!

Anyway, I have hounded and pestered my friends for a few days and I hope that they will forgive and realise that I would support them in their endeavours.  I have one more free day left on amazon and then, who knows, it just may keep rolling along? Heaven knows it is cheap enough at $2.99!

So many old-fashioned links on the web

I've been combing the web for good ideas for promoting 'Calandra's Spring' and have been exceedingly frustrated by the whole shebang.  So many of the articles were written around 2007-9 and are no longer fresh!  People should at least update their content.  This is why the A-Z idea is a good one.  It does encourage people to look at their blogs on a daily basis.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

WWCD? What would Calandra do?

I am writing my next Calandra adventure and, now that she is an adult, still with a child's perspective, it is interesting to plot out her actions and reactions to the plot-lines.  What is the moral standpoint of a woman/child?

In the meantime, buy book one and try to make it a best-seller.  The best time is NOW while it is free on promotion.

Feels as though I am watching an eBay item ...

So my book is on amazon.com and I have found the reports and also the ranking on their site.  I hover in the late 40s on the Contemporary Fiction Kindle ranking which is not too bad really.  But I click in every hour and when it drops a point, ohhhhhhh, it's distressing!  It reminds me of the despair I felt when selling a Lalique crystal cat and was silly enough to start it low.  It sold for a ridiculously low price though it was a genuine antique one and not made by Rene's grand-children's factory.  That's how I feel when my book, the result of much insomnia and hard work, stops selling. 

At the moment it is on free promo so hurry in and download it before that period expires or else buy it afterwards.  As well, if you buy it for free, please review the book or at least tick the Like button (if that is how you feel!).

Hard work this marketing and I wonder how those astronomically high sellers get to their positive tipping point!

Zyxt is the last word in the dictionary

'Zyxt' which is an obsolete Kentish word apparently means (you) saw (ie. the 2nd singular indicative present form of the verb 'to see'). And, by golly, I tried my darndest to use it in a sentence some time today but I have failed. This is the last word in the Online version of the OED.  However, a bit of combing the web turned up 'zyzzyva' which is a tropical American weevil, a heck of a lot easier to write about.  It seemed as though it may have been a word created through onomatopoeia but no, a quick look at Wikipedia (that never lies ...) says that the word may have been fabricated so that it would always be positioned last in any index.  It is a pretty insect indeed but, as a weevil, is born to munch and probably made its mark on the Brazilian forests where it was first discovered by an Irish entomologist, Tom Casey.

It is roughly ant sized (the reference doesn't say what size ant!). Neither does it say what it eats or if it has any known predators.

This leads me, in a convoluted way, to the actual point of this article.  When you are writing, be sure to ask yourself all those lead questions that a curious person may put to you in a conversation.  Don't be content to leave your descriptions as loose as 'the zyzzyva was ant-sized' but do some research in detail and then work out which facts will suit your story arc.  Balzac was a master of this sort of interesting 'gossip' which, like the works of Proust, Hugo and Zola, became vital historical clues on what Paris once was like.

In the meantime, if you see a zyzzyva on your plants, try to figure out what it eats and add that to the Wikipedia listing!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Progress with the book distribution!

'Calandra's Spring' is now 46th on the amazon.com top 100 contemporary fiction free promo list!!!!!!!!

Ruby-red grapefruit/tequila marmalade

Call me a procrastinator, (Ok, no need to) but I am whipping up a few jars of ruby-red grapefruit marmalade with tequila in there.  I love the taste of tequila as a flavouring in jams or cakes and also in stews.  Its smoky sweetness is unbeatable.  And the alcohol is burned off in the cooking process so just the taste is left. No getting woozy over the brekky toast! 

What have I put n the back-burner?  Well, it is that awful publicity trail for my book.  I am on free promo at amazon.com for the next 4 days and have been boring my friends to death sending out the news.  I am presently at 687 in amazon rankings.  Hoping to make it int the top 100 before the end of the promo time!  If you can help ...

Kindle Promo progress

Ok, so this has been interesting.  There has been a steady climb in downloads, but there is no way (unless I have missed something in the pages of info I have read about doing this to promote a book) to figure out how far up the scale that this exercise (in which I make not a penny) will take me. It seems that amazon.com really relies on writers to starve in a garret in order to make their products (Kindles) more attractive to purchase.  After all, who wouldn't buy one of these low-priced gadgets knowing that there will always be a parade of free stuff available!

Nevertheless, I still encourage you to download 'Calandra's Spring' in the next few days.  Feeling generous.

Weather check - Puerto Vallarta!

Perfect at the moment!
Better 'walking on the beach' weather than 'trying to market my book' weather.

Highly recommend this place at this time of the year - pool is perfect, sea water temperature comfortable and plenty to see, eat and do!

Come on down!

Xenophobia a theme in 'Calandra's Spring'

'Xenophobia' is a word that Australians will perpetually associate with politician, Pauline Hanson, when famously asked a 60 minutes reporter 'please explain?' in response to a question which used the word.  The world laughed but it was no laughing matter.  Had this woman gained power, Australia would have been sent back to the boring 1950s when the only Chinese food was anglicized and required you to bring your own saucepan to the store to pick up your 'special fried rice' sans exciting Asian ingredients, deemed too spicy for the Aussie palate.  Fortunately, the island has become a stopping point for more than 150 nationalities.  In many ways, it is far more cosmo than Mexico where I am at the moment.  There the population looks largely the same.  The vibrant Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane mix is missing.  I was in Mexico when I wrote 'Calandra's Spring' and it does reflect my dismay at the absence of my cultural melting pot.  Especially in the food area!  Mind you, the food in 'Calandra's Spring' reflects more of my trip to Eastern Europe. (Would you like cabbage with that?).

The Gypsy groups and the Japanese woman are all subjected to discrimination.

Buy the book, read it and review it.  See if you pick up these themes!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Promo days on Kindle - free download of my book

Seems to be going well.  If you don't have a copy - now's the time.  Or you could wait and pay for it in 5 days!! :-)

Thanks for the support to date, everyone!

'Youth' a state worth being trapped in?

Youth, its superiority as an age and the search for the magic fountain are very current issues.  At no other time in history have the young been so dominant.  Dick Clark may have unleashed a monster when he invented (or at least fostered) the teenager!  This was a fairly recent development in sociology. 1950s saw the growth of this mobile, cashed-up and auto-licensed group which quickly became the demographic for new business.  They spent up big, they detached from their homes earlier and caused havoc.  In 'Mad Men' we see the pitches that thrust at the pockets of this group (time: mid-60s) with Peggy's failed Heinz campaign and others.  Nowadays, youth is revered to the point of thousands of products being invented to keep those 'youthful good looks' (but not the acne, puppy fat and other unpleasant side effects of being young).  Every second commercial is for some expensive cosmetic or treatment.

We all want to live forever. Unless we have some awful affliction, dementia possibly being the worst option. Ponce de León was a seeker and many of his explorations had the fountain of youth as the goal.

See how this pans out in my book as these issues are all relevant and inspirational to the story-line of 'Calandra's Spring'.

Download now for amazon.com discounted price or even free f you have Amazon Prime.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Well, I didn't notice the bit ...

that said we didn't need to blog on Sundays!!  Hence, my alphabet is cock-eyed and premature but hey, it will keep things interesting!

Winks and Nods to other creatives

Winks and nods to other creatives are often part of the style of writers, filmmakers, composers and artists of all kinds.  Imagine Quentin Tarantino without his sly allusions to all his heroes! Somehow, he pulls it off without being too crazily pretentious as his stories are solid and characters interesting.  'Law and Order' features one that has always mystified me - the character 'Detective Munch' who may or may not be based on one of the world's earliest TV detectives, originally played by that stellar Australian actor, the late Bud Tingwell.  It was, in that case, Al Munch and the original series was shot on film, in Australia for USA release only, never seen locally.  I wonder whether Munch was a salute to Bud?

Australian director, Mark Savage (a B-movie, schlock genre director who has fans all around the world) sprinkles his movies with allusions which reflect his interests.  Do they advance the plot?  You will have to make up your own mind on this.

Because I am not a fan of winks and nods in any field as sometimes they are clear short-cuts to story-line and setting the scene and seem inserted lazily rather than intelligently.  Names of characters can be pillaged from classics (witness the number of times vampire stories recycle the classic names).

In my book, 'Calandra's Spring', the girl is Calandra D'Arcy not just because she is a feisty, proud girl, but to reflect her cosmopolitan yet Anglo background and the romantic quality that her mother overlaid onto her when she was named.   I thought long and hard about this as I didn't want people to read the name and assume she was a girl version of the 'Pride' part of Jane Austen's book.  Ultimately, I just liked the ring of the name and it did take on a life of its own.

Any thoughts on this?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Verisimilitude the key to a good story.

'Verisimilitude' or the appearance of reality, is possibly the most important factor in a story.  We know, for instance, that when one is taking sheets of the line, it is impossible to ascend into heaven, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez made it seem perfectly logical in '100 Years of Solitude' (great title by the way!).  It is very important to establish a sense of consistent logic in your story, whether that is in regard to something that has a quality of fantasy, magic or ridiculousness about it.  Books by Ben Elton have the latter, but they have a consistent thread.  Part of the writer's craft is to research those elements that make the narrative flow without the reader hitting speed-bumps of inconsistency along the way.  That can be geographical, character/action, language and dialogue used or any number of things and it's why the process of writing is called 'craft'.  You stitch it together over and over until you have balance of design, fabric and neatness!   The latter, by the way, isn't necessarily boring or pedantic.  I have read many books that contain long lists of description (works of Balzac, Proust and yachting expert Doug Danielson for instance) but these passages add to the realism of the story in each case.  How you tie your detail to the story is the key and you need to avoid swamping the story arc in diversions that, ultimately, could have been deleted by a sharp editor.  Descriptions need to advance the narrative.  Your reader needs to believe in a sense of place that you create and re-create your characters in his/her mind's eye. What you are doing is boosting the imagination of the readers, taking them to places you want them to go.  I love it when I have written something and people describe a character and I am able to say 'That's exactly how she was conceived in my mind'.  That's a golden moment for any writer.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

'Undine' the water spirit an influence in my book

'Undine' the water spirit, has always had a fascination for me.  The play of water with its hidden community, magical properties and its essential quality for all beings on this blue planet, pulled me in when I was just a child.  I owned a large, red book of stories, bought for me by my Dad.  We shopped for it at the Melbourne University annual book fair in Australia.  I read the book until it was tattered, at which time, we moved house and Dad threw it away.  I was devastated as it had had such a profound influence on me, setting a base of myth and broad literature, vital to my success at University and trivia nights!!

When I had children of my own, I was determined that they should also have that experience. Each school holiday we combed the junk shops and antique malls until I tracked down a pristine copy.  I was so happy.  The children were pleased for me, but less than excited at its musty odour.  And somehow, the tales appeared a bit hackneyed.  Though the art nouveau illustrations by Arthur Rackham went down well.  We all agreed that the tale of Undine was terribly sad.   It told of a childless couple who lived by the sea.  One day, a small child appeared.  She was wandering along the beach, alone, wet and covered with seaweed.  The couple adopted her, caring for her meticulously and lovingly.  Unknown to them, she had materialised from the water, needed to be loved by a human, bear a human child and would be awarded with a soul and the ability to live as a woman.  She was warned by the spirits not to go near the water or she would be returned to the deep.  Well, we've all seen The Little Mermaid, so the ending is no surprise. She neither found love nor heeded the warning and tragically, she drowned, her body cast off and turned into foam.

In my book, 'Calandra's Spring', water, or the lack of it, is vital.  The 'spring' is not a season.  You will need to read it to see exactly what it is!

Happy reading, and please tell your friends about my book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This is a really good site

Check it out!


'Timing' is everything

'Timing' is so much at the heart of whether your book will have sales or just join the slush pile of proposals on an agent's desk, the millions of self-published offerings on the web in various forms or sitting in boxes, unsold, beneath your bed.  If we could all figure out the trends well-enough in advance in order to ride them, reshape them or, at best, set them, we would all be well-rewarded for that time we spend striving.  At present, the world is flooded with books about vampires and werewolves.  Not my cuppa, really, though I love Eastern European settings and these books often include those elements.  What I have noticed though, is that those classic elements are transplanted into a present-day society and stories of ancient archetypes battling with today's technology seems to be selling.

My book, 'Calandra's Spring', has that aspect, as it deals with an ancient spring that has magical properties.  How the contemporary characters are affected forms the story.

If you enjoy that kind of tale, which mixes science, environmental concerns, criminals and a love story, then please go to amazon.com by clicking on the book cover on the right and buy the book while it is free or cheap (free to amazon prime customers).  I would also love your feedback!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

S is for Sex, of course!

So how does one write sex scenes in a book without being prurient?  There's a line that I prefer not to cross and I think it is a matter of taste.  Some people write great sex scenes - Henry Miller's were gruelling, tinged with cruelty but totally engrossing.  Others do not (Scott Turow for instance who reaches into the cornball bag for his descriptions.) It is the same with film.  Taste and subtlety play a great role here.  Having said this, the photo above is something that has absolutely no subtlety about it!

Ahhhh, the sounds, sights of the great outdoors suddenly take on a whole new meaning!

Happy 'S' day people!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Relaxing, recreation and reading good books.

Relaxing, recreation and reading good books.  Can you ever have too much of it?  At present, I am in the beautiful resort city of Puerto Vallarta.  If you haven't been there, mark it on your list as a friendly, welcoming town and you will never run out of things to do, restaurants to try and beaches to stroll.  There is a strong Writers' Group in PV and you, even when visiting, are welcome to join in the meetings.  Holiday towns are so much nicer when you know someone and the locals enjoy meeting people from outside.  There is a Facebook page (Puerto Vallarta Writers Group) which will tell you where they meet and when.  Be sure to check it out and make contact.

'Relaxing' seems to be what the population down here likes to do most, but there are still some energetic souls who follow their pursuits and plenty of activity everywhere.  There are masses of books down here for a few pesos also (check out the Los Mangos Library where donated, recycled books are sold as a fundraiser).  As well, your Kindle will work.  So grab that good read, find the nearest hammock and plonk yourself in it.  Ignore the USA warnings about drug cartels, violence and so on.  The worst that can happen to you here is a hangover, a stubbed toe on the cobblestones.  But if you stick to organic tequila, the former won't happen and the roads are being renovated at the moment so the latter may soon be a thing of the past.

Come on down!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Queens make great reading!

Queens I have always loved to read about include Boadacea, Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth 1st and 2nd, Catherine the Great and oh, so many others.  What is the pull of royalty that makes a steamy book steamier, a life of luxury so much luxurious and the adventures much more exciting?  I guess at the root it is money and power.  These qualities are in spades amongst royalty.  It is the 'Dallas' factor - even a bitch can be greatly entertaining.

Reading about the royals of Britain is fun as these days, the real 'facts' seem to be emerging.  So many of the old Kings were Queens!  There is a book about Marina of Kent which tells all.  It seems to have been really well researched and I lent my copy to my uncle and he didn't ever return it so sadly, I cannot share the details here.  It may have been by James Wentworth Day.  He has written a number of royal books.

Anyway, regardless of the hair-curling horrors of the life of Catherine the Great, the book I read about Marina was by far the most fascinating.  

Money and power sells and I guess it will always be like that.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Polish, polish, polish!!!!

Put simply, the best books are those which have been polished to perfection by their writers:  think Flaubert, Zola, Balzac and many other French writers.  Don't think Jeffrey Archer, Grishman, Barbara Cartland or any of the other atrocities of commercial writing.  Had the latter writers spent more time on the 'polish' they may have avoided some of the hackneyed descriptions and continuity errors that litter their pages.

Then again, maybe they wouldn't have sold as many books, either.  Perhaps I am proposing a new category entirely:  'Hick Lit'!!  Churn it out, smother the world with it featuring a garish, sexy cover, stick to a theme and there you have it!  A runaway success. Or a 'runaway jury'.  I think that many of the latest vampire books fall into this category as do many YA tales which are presently flooding the markets.  These books are filling shelves that could hold better written stories!

It is not, strictly speaking, true to say that the market decides what is good or  bad.  After all, McDonald's, KFC and their ilk are amazing franchises purveying total crud and look how quickly they tapped into the collective base instinct of man to be lazy and greedy!  The Harry Potter franchise is pretty much a parallel to this: a supersized kids' book with less real content than it should have.  But successful?  Heck yeah!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

On the subject of 'Chick Lit' 'Lit Fic' etc. versus 'Hit Lit' ...

On the subject of writing books to sell, here's a link to an article about top selling books.

Do you want to be in their ranks?

Well, often, that means writing tripe.


It's up to you!

One's grammar can marketh the man ...

'One' is somewhat formal but it does have uses and can be effective.  It's not just restricted to Prince Charles.  It's part of a complex structure of language called 'grammar'.

Believe it or not, grammar has a use.  Just like our skeletal structure holds the human body erect, grammar is the structure of our language, creating 'rules' that standardise meaning.  If you mess with grammar (eg. how the words 'bad' and 'sick' have changed in meaning over the last generation) the language becomes more of a code than a device for communication.  Putting clauses in the wrong place, using verbs incorrectly, being sloppy about the spelling or pronunciation of people's names is not just annoying to an audience or reader, it is often warping the intended meaning.  Bad grammar can also be used to great effect in writing the voice of certain characters.

Language misuse can also  ear-mark or exclude a group in society, robbing them of opportunities in life.
 And, contrary to what most people believe, it is not just French that has 'grammar'!

Over the months I will include some helpful 'cheats' to make your spoken word and written language more effective. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Niester - the river that runs through 'Calandra's Spring'

The River Niester (Dniester, Nistru or one of many alternate spellings) is the heart and soul of Transnistria, the country in which most of the action of 'Calandra's Spring' takes place.  This exotic land is the renegade state of Eastern Europe, a breakaway territory of Moldava which went independent (but not recognised) in 1992.  From then on, all kinds of illegal activities form part of the unofficial economy there - gun-running, piracy, intellectual copyright crime on a high level, counterfeiting and more.  It's a shame as the land itself is as attractive as the rest of the region, yet we are warned not to visit.  It has a high government alert from foreign affairs departments.

Explore this region - you will see that there is not much on the internet.   There are a few similar states that have a similar identity crisis such as the post USSR 'frozen conflict' nations of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.   Seceded 'countries' exist all over the world and many have active industries in selling honorific titles, local stamps, visas and other quirky souvenirs.  Some even sell university degrees.  The best buy is to purchase a title so if you want to be a 'Princess' or 'Prince' check this out.  And if you want one from a legitimate nation, try this:

It doesn't seem to be a bad deal and in a couple of generations, the world will forget that you, an unemployed hippie from Bangor actually created your esteem by forking out your dole money to transform yourself into a Baron!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Multi-cultural themes in 'Calandra's Spring' make this book filmable

When I was writing 'Calandra's Spring', the characters grew, with their personalities expanding as I plunged deeper into their stories.  The narrative led this process, taking me to Japan, Eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Paris and London.  This was not random, but a result of the mechanics of the story - where would these people function best? Who would behave like this? and many other 'what ifs' became part of my daily life.  At my side was a large Atlas and I would consult it every day, then further researching each place and ethnicity, particularly those of the Gypsies, until I decided on what to include.  I own a Gypsy dictionary and my mother had told me much of the folklore when I was very young. Who knew then, that it would be so useful!  I am glad the lives of my characters intersect across so many borders as life is, at its be, a multicultural feast!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

'Literary fiction' the kiss of death for agents and publishers?

'Lit-Fic? Oh no!' my prospective agent groaned, 'Don't tell me you see your book as Lit-fic?  And 'discontinuous narrative? Pleeeeeeeeeaaaase.'  Well, that was how she told me 'thanks, but no thanks' and brushed me off her shoulder like a speck that had missed the 'Head'n'Shoulders' treatment.

It seems, these days, that YA is selling.  But all that really means is that it was picked up a year or so ago.  That market is saturated.  Who are the readers of quality books?  I have noticed so many 'non-books' being picked up and adopted as the new darlings of the scene that the definition of something popular eludes me.  Women still outnumber men, YA readerships are burgeoning - for now, at least.  But what if you are not a Harlequin/YA/Mills & Boon style of writer?  Where does a book fit?

I have combed through the massive tomes (both in print and at http://www.writers.net) of agent/publisher listings and came to the conclusion that there are really very few active or independent publishing houses.  The small ones are extremely cautious as they can't afford to lose money and the majors are extremely cautious because their shareholders will cane them for losing money.

My book, 'Calandra's Spring', (blatant plug: available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007IX4NI2) is a solo effort - no agents, no publishing house.  It is selling at a rate of molasses in mid-winter.  Short of aping 'Coupon Suzy' and buying some network commercial time, I don't know what else I can do.  I have written to many people to ask them to review the book.  The silence is deafening.

I am sure that a lot of you bloggers have great ideas on how to start that viral sweep.  Come on!  Bernie Madoff's Ponzi schemes took off so darn fast and the viral spread of the pictures of that handsome marathon guy should be our model for publicising our books.  Can we help each other?  Perhaps a Project Greenlight for books exists?  Or for publicity for new books?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Knowledge - especially for locations - is crucial for writers

The Knowledge comes down to hard slog!

London cabbies have it - that learned off by heart geography they call 'The Knowledge'.

But how does a writer get to know all about a place where their book's action takes place?  This is so much easier today with TV documentaries, photo services like Getty Images, even good old WikiPedia.  One of my favourite resources for out of the way places (ones I have never visited) is to read all the travel books (Lonely Planet, for one) and encyclopaedias (even the old ones) and do some hard slog research.  If I am still feeling insecure about the place, I will go so far as to contact a local and have a chat. My book 'Calandra's Spring' is, for the most part, set in places I have visited and stayed for an extended time - Paris, New Zealand, Australia - but Transnistria?  I have travelled in Eastern Europe, at least close enough so that I can make some assumptions, but I researched the places quite carefully, including cuisine, the state of their roads, the architecture and many other aspects in order to write about the place.  I had also seen a number of current affairs programmes over the years dealing with the nation's renegade quality.  One day it would be nice to have the kind of pre-sales that were handed out to Robert Ludlum and Jeffrey Archer, the money to travel to one's book location while writing it.  So many writers have the ability to sit in a hotel room and just observe the subject - but for now, I just gain the Knowledge the old fashioned way!

This is my 'K' topic for April 'A-Z'!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jokes in storylines

Jokes in story-lines can be terribly distracting.  I have three friends who write extremely well, but just when you are becoming attached to characters and plot, wham! they put in something really gross, inappropriate, or just a lame line from a comedy routine.  It takes you out of the moment and the action deflates as you gasp at the wrongness of it all. Maybe my gross-out meter is low or something, but I hate it when a story is dominated by bodily functions.  Even those ghastly children's books by Paul Jennings were, in my opinion, long on fart jokes and short on story.  Cheap devices to get the children of Joe Average buying books and sniggering as they read them. Many adult books suffer from the same fate.  And it is a shame when something with potential is wrecked by self-indulgence.

Whew! I realise I JUST made it to 10th April (J).

In the beginning there was a flint ...

In the beginning there was a flint to chisel out symbols on a rock.  Hard to imagine that writing has come so far and that now we have amazing machines to do the hard yards for us.  I thought the golf ball typewriter was so cool when I was a kid. My mother used one in her secretarial job and she was a stickler on perfect layout of work and a mistake proof page.  Now even my book will write - well, that is the magic Kindle Fire and I can send messages to people via all kinds of applications within its smart, leather cover.  I wonder what the writing of the future will be? Holograms?  I am hoping that ESP doesn't catch on.  Sometimes, I would rather my somewhat drunken, aggressive neighbour's quiet-as-a-mouse, submissive wife would not know the angry vibes I am sending towards her spouse. 

And other times, as I check out the increasingly obese figures of the locals, I am glad they can't read my mind as I think 'Que gorda!!'.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hick nation is revealed by speech.

Ok - do you sometimes have to scratch your head and wonder what language that checkout chick was talking when she was processing your order and then realise it was just 'Aussie'?  From time to time we will post some of the best Ocker clangers that make us all sound like hicks.  And sadly, it's not just from tradies and checkout chicks.  It is from some of those Professors at RPA, from teachers, journos and hosts and people who should know better and who should value good speech.

Not sure what the solution is.  It comes from poor role models, from bogan parents and badly-trained teachers.

Obama at least speaks well most of the time, but sadly, he occasionally gets down with his white-trash roots and talks the way they do.  Let's out all these poor speakers.

Your input is appreciated! Send me your examples and I will post them here.

The following are some I prepared earlier!

1. Rachel Perkins in the episode of 'First Australians' on Pastor Doug Nicholls actually said 'Nu-cu-lar'! That was a surprise.  but it was a shock that no producer actually stopped her and asked for another take!  This show is sloppy, underfunded, underresourced, under-illustrated beyond belief.  Pathetic bit of E.P. work. See review in reviews section.

2.  Reporter on Today Tonight 19th Nov 2008 in Prison hospital story : 'There's 100s of security cameras ...' ) should be 'There ARE 100s'.  Makae subject and verb agree.

3. Sarah Harris (9 network sometime newsreader & journo, previously busted for dropping the magic word on TV forgetting all about radio mikes!).  Her accent is very disturbing.  She stresses the word 'has' in every sentence but pronounces it 'haaarz', Canadian style.  Her delivery is awful and her scripts are littered with misplaced clauses and disagreeing subject/verb construction.  Oh, and they have plucked her eyebrows way too much to balance with her rather prominent jaw.

Languid litanies of night bird and frogs
Test the strength of my meditation.
The air hangs from hot terracotta
A preying mantis licks sticky aphids off a vine
To soothe his parched body.
Only ants swarm.

Three rows of grey-coated workers sit apart from the mob
Straddling slick-oiled swivelling stools with names inscribed.
Fingers fly from alphabet heaps, midas-touched, shining
Swiftly poked, deftly prodded with practised precision.
Darting keen eyes that flash and flicker,
No lumbering labourers, hourly paid!
A page has a price in the piece battery.
(Untouched lunch wilts near finished blocks,
Six columns more buys kids' school socks.)
Yet twelve months pass and life moves on.
This frenzied skill is now long gone.

A great list about writing

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If you want to call yourself a writer and would like to make a living from the craft, it is imperative to read this list:

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 June 2009 09:26 )


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Companion to Delius' 'First Cuckoo'
Your clustered Lenten purple
Throbbing with unseemly primal passion
seduces all who bustle by.

Twist their well-honed purpose
until blunted
by your heady, drunken, gasped-in drug
Urging them to seek out mates,
And lying, intoxicated by you
learn again the slumbering green.


When I talk of Levi Strauss

You only think of jeans.

And Freud for you, is the way chips are cooked.

Shelley is the back beach at Rye.

Brecht clears the morning cattarh, that sensuous desert land.

But somehow, we get along.

For I have the books of a philosopher.

You have the soul.


'Madam, I'm Adam,' he said to Eve, 'Gardening is m'line.'
Thus he gave her a Cook's tour around Paradise
Expounding the Law Divine.
'You were made from m'rib by the Mighty Lord.
With me, you can help rule the roost.
Bog in, help yourself to Nature's Reward,
Kindly leaving Forbidden Fruits.'

Surrounded by angels and nurtured by God, they thrived in ignorant bliss
Till Eve, in vulnerable solitude,
Was beguiled by a flattering hiss.
The Talking Snake set her on new trains of thought
Touching on how she'd improve
If she nibbled the fruit without being caught
'Come on, girl, you're stuck in a groove!'

With gusto, Eve slurped on the apple she pinched
Hoping its powers would act soon.
When Adam caught her at it she scarcely flinched,
Just sang him the serpent's tune.

The promise of knowledge, too great to resist,
Led Adam to hold out HIS hand.
Raphael's trumpet called, 'Obey! Oh desist!'
Fading fast from that distant land.

When God found them huddling, clad all in leaves
He gave them their marching orders.
Death, pain and sin, disobedience achieves!
Erring parents! That's all you ensured us!


The weight of love
crushes the helium lightness of  loving or just being.
Feel the grinding of another's hurt.
Your face moistened by another's tears.
Love punctures bubbles of frothy joy
Leaving a residue of damp, cold, a grey puddle.
Statistics? There is none. But this is an observation.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 August 2009 20:56 )

DIY publishing

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Self-publishing is a great exercise because what it does is teach you the whole publishing business. step by step. I released a book called 'Kulture Vulture' many years ago and couldn't get it published and when I did the numbers, I realised that to keep the profit in my pocket rather than hand over 90% to a publisher would make more sense anyway.  So I did it!  I had a terrific printer who helped me every step of the way and a wonderful manual.  I was also assisted by the late and great Wendy Lowenstein and it was a privilege tohave known her.

These days that assistance comes via the net so I will make this a list of DIY resources I have found.

... even though they have no respect for apostrophes ...  'Lets get started.' should be 'Let's get started.'  However, they have a good name in the business and the materials on the website are excellent and clear.
These days, of course, there's Kindle!! 

'Hilarity personified' seems to personify the Mexican nation!

How on earth did I ever think that owning a house in Mexico would guarantee me a quiet spot to write?  The place is party-central for various times of the year and it has taken me a few years to learn the technique of blocking out the music, fireworks and gleeful 'gritos' or unmotivated shrieks.  It is certainly not dull.  Beyond the farm behind our little house, there is a 'sports bar'.  OK.  It began as a terrace outside a house, frequented by late night taxi drivers and regular customers.  The owner bought a juke box with money he made from selling part of his farm to the local resorts.  Uh-oh. Loud.  I quickly learnt the Spanish - Tus sinfonola is tan fuerte!  (probably ungrammatical but he understood).  We came to love the band rehearsal days when the owner kindly lends his establishment (which, I must say, has now grown into an enormous terrace with pretty lighting and gradual improvement of the carpark and garden) as the shouts of glee and falsetto singing would carry on till midnight.  I got over my initial clenching of teeth at the sounds of a tuba.  Well, sort of. 

Now, the sports bar has shouting mostly when Chicharito scores a goal in soccer or on Fiesta days.  Mmmm, that seems to happen a lot.

But quiet?  Ahhhh, so quiet during the days I am only interrupted by the amazing birdlife in these parts (Puerto Vallarta).  We have seen the place change from a dirty, litter-strewn and mostly unpaved pueblo to one where the locals (and visitors from Chiapas) take some pride in the fact that there is a recycling bin on all key corners and the streets are being filled with bouganvilleas.

PS> There is no danger here.  Mexican violence is restricted to areas contested by the drug cartels and the only way it will end is for the USA to stop shipping them guns and to stop buying their products.  That should be easy, no?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Recipe for a box office success ...

Include these scenes:

1. A killer tango dance scene.
2. Cooking to a high level.
3. Fluffy, cute animals being bad.
4. Deep and meaningful dialogue that is flip at the same time. (Snappy writing)
5. A wedding (even if there is some jilting going on).
6. Stunning landscapes that impact on the story
7. A score that makes the charts with more than one song.
8. Marquee stars - but then I have seen some bummers with Anjelina in.
9.  Characters you give a stuff about. (but not always)
10. A plot that twists and turns (but sometimes this goes over people's heads)

Gee, I'm sorry - Saturday is G day and somewhere I lost a day!

Grabbing a coffee now.

Ahhh, that is great. Jalisco's finest beans.

Time to stare into space for a while and think of zilch until I get on with editing my latest book.

Stand by for that one!

Finding stuff on the super-net is getting harder

Friends, let me tell you that the greatest search engines in the world won't cough up a result for your book if you don't publicise it.  But how is that done?  It is a mysterious, arduous and can be an expensive process.  So far, I haven't had much luck in getting my book http://tinyurl.com/7eqcf88 reviewed by the majors.  I am grateful to the two readers who bothered to do a review, but without a few hundred of these, most Kindle books look as though they are just there to create more free inventory for amazon.com.

I am thinking of creating some 'co-review' quid pro quo review site.  Set up like Project Greenlight, someone will review your book in return for you reviewing something else on the virtual shelves.  No money involved.  Just points.  Anyone want to join? 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter greetings to all

No matter what your beliefs, here we are in the Northern Hemisphere spring with Easter celebrations all around.  In Australia, Easter signifies the gradual drift into cold weather but up here it is getting warmer by the day.  Feel less like writing in the heat though I get great ideas when I am lying in my hammock sipping a margarita.

Hope your holiday weekend is excellent!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Didn't I come here for the sun??

Well, here in (usually) sunny Puerto Vallarta, the sun hasn't shone all day.  Of course, this was the day I washed 5 loads of sheets, towels and so on, hoping to line dry them.  No luck.  Grey, cloudy skies and a sun that didn't quite make it out of  bed.

 I had to resort to the pernicious clothes dryer (against my principles, really).  No time to write today and so many ideas buzzing around in my brain.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

'Calandra's Spring' is getting good reviews

My book, 'Calandra's Spring', has a couple of great reviews. Any of the blogging community who would like to add to its reviewer base on amazon.com, note that you can download for free if you have amazon Prime! All feedback and reviews are welcome.

The book can be found at:


Monday, April 2, 2012

Book sales are rising

I just noticed that I have sold a few more books this week!  Hope to at least recoup the cost of the cover!!

About to go to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens today for some inspiration

I've been sitting at my computer too long so I am going for a therapeutic walk today in the Gardens.  Who knows what I will see!  I am sure it will be fascinating.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Absolutely thrilled with some comments

It's really nice when people make comments about 'Calandra's Spring' and I thank them and hope that others will do the same.  Hard process, letting people know my 'baby' is out there!  I go through all kinds of emotions - terror that the manuscript may have had typos (it apparently has 12 - a friend counted them and that is way better than Mark Twain had :-) ).

But mostly, I am happy that I published my book.  Even if it is just for Kindle. Actually, I am pleased about that as I am against the use of paper and love reading my Kindle.