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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Bouquets for Author Support - post 1

As I seek to promote Mine to Avenge, I am compiling a list of people who have helped me along the way. I am listing those who have been most helpful in offering services that supporting me as an author in my promotion and marketing endeavours.
Some on the list offer services to other authors, and others have stepped up to help me in a more personal way.
By way of thanks, I thought I would like to return the favour and run a series of occasional posts on my blog, to promote them in return, as I add to the list.

This week’s three are -

1. Celebrating Authors
This site is managed by mystery/suspense author, Carolyn Arnold. Her goal is twofold - to connect readers with authors, and to have authors supporting authors. Carolyn has several options available for promotion, and she asks authors to choose one option from a range of seven ‘features’ - author interview, amazon snapshot, book excerpt, character interview, proceeds to charity and Trailer time.

There are a few requirements to be featured, but no cost other than supporting Carolyn and other authors. Carolyn requests that you follow both her and Celebrating Authors on Twitter, Facebook and her personal blog as well as the Celebrating Authors blog.

Contact details - Celebrating Authors

Contact details - Carolyn Arnold

2. Author Quiz

Author Quiz is run by Charles Fudgemuffin, who sums up his site as follows - ‘Author Quiz is a chance for authors to introduce themselves to book lovers with a personalised interview, and a chance for book lovers to discover some of the up and coming indie authors breaking into the self-publishing market.’
As an author, you can feature on Author Quiz by choosing one question from each of 10 sections, with a degree of flexibility around choosing from the sections. Charles specifies no adult content.

Contact Details -

3. Clive Eaton

Clive is author of The Pyramid Legacy, with Operation Stonehenge coming soon. As well as promoting himself and his work, Clive occasionally creates opportunities for other authors to increase exposure and improve ranking in Google searches, such as author interviews and sharing author links. I’d recommend following Clive on Facebook and Twitter as well as his blog and keep your eyes open for further opportunities as Clive offers them.

Contact Details -

Thursday, 24 January 2013

What should I include in a blog tour?

Following on from my previous post, I have prepared a list of items that I am considering to have ready and prepared before I begin to approach bloggers to host me in a blog tour. I have very much appreciated the help and advice gleaned from those who are experts at this sort of thing.  
  • Photos from the actual book launch
  • Promotional banner
  • Cover images
  • Press release
  • Back cover blurb
  • Author bio
  • Why I became a writer
  • Answers for interview questions
  • Several guest post/s
  • Excerpt/s
  • Character interview (not sure that this would work well for Mine to Avenge)
  • Review/s
  • Giveaway
  • Story of cover art
  • Q & A
  • Destination guide for settings in novel
If any bloggers reading this would be willing to host me, I’d love to hear from you. I am thinking of maybe working towards a date in late April.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Promotion AFTER publication

I continue to plod away at the daunting task of marketing and self-promotion. As I go, I am compiling a list of blogs/bloggers and websites that have been supportive and helpful to me along the way, and I plan to share these here on the blog as a resource for other writers when I collect a few more.

My next major venture as part of the promotional journey of Mine to Avenge, is to sift through blogs and bloggers in an attempt to organize a blog tour. In terms of timing with respect to my own book, I am planning this much later than I should have, largely because I’d finished and published my book well before I knew anything about marketing and promotion and things such as blog tours. I was still getting my head around writing my own blog, let alone knowing what a blog tour was. A blog tour is best organized well before your book comes out.

I’m sure I’m not the first author to be in this predicament, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. I was about to say that learning marketing and promotion after the book is published is a bit like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted, but that isn’t really accurate, because if your situation is anything like mine, your ‘horse’ is probably still sitting inside the stable most of the time with the door open, but still needing a significant nudge to get out that door.

Mine to Avenge is occasionally popping out of the stable and showing itself off – I am getting a steady trickle of positive reviews and testimonials, as people are reading it. There are currently two people reading it on Goodreads, and there are some great reviews on that site as well as on Amazon, but it is going to take a lot of hard work and determination to catapult it further into the world.

I don’t believe all is lost if you are a writer in the same situation. I think you can still get your book out there, but it will require persistence and determination on your part, and the help of wonderful supporters like bloggers and avid readers. The challenge is to find them and use them, even if your ‘horse’ is like mine and a bit late out of the starting gate.

I’d love some reader feedback with this post. If you are a blogger keen to help self-pubs, let me know the services you offer in the comments section. If you have some experience with hosting blog tours or doing your own, let me know what kind of ‘stops’ work well. I have a list I’m working on which I will share in the next blog post. If you have a ‘horse’ still in the stable with an open gate, please share any helpful resources you have found.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Extract from Chpt 11 - Stepan's Internal Crisis

Casta had been concerned about Stepan for some weeks now. The problem started at about the same time as Dymas’s wedding and Alcandor’s stroke, but things had worsened during the past few weeks.
Stepan was distracted and moody and often snapped at her. He also frequently lost patience with Cynthia. At other times he was the exact opposite and almost smothered his wife and daughter with concern. Even this troubled Casta as it wasn’t an affectionate concern, but a concern seemingly driven by some kind of inner fear. His moodiness frightened her.
He wanted to know where she and Cynthia were at all times, not letting them out of his sight. When dropping Casta at Caterina’s house, he took great pains to make sure the women of the family kept a close eye on her, and he was adamant that he didn’t want Cynthia to be left to play outside unsupervised. Caterina and the other women were also aware of this, and put it down to excessive worry about Alcandor and Casta’s advancing pregnancy.
Stepan began to increase the time he spent with Alcandor, and always in private. He came to pick up Casta every evening and spoke with his father before they left for home. Stepan now closed the door during these visits, which everyone thought strange. All the family spent time privately with Alcandor after his stroke, but the bedroom door was always left open. No one ever thought about shutting it until Stepan started to, and then it was noticed.
Everyone was puzzled by it. After all, when the door was open you couldn’t hear conversations clearly, unless the voices were raised, because the room was at the far end of the house. It just didn’t make sense.
Caterina wanted to stop these sessions between her husband and son, as Alcandor was always upset afterwards. She was surprised that she could feel such anger towards her own son, but her husband’s wellbeing greatly concerned her.
‘Do you want me to do something about these visits with Stepan?’ she asked Alcandor.
Alcandor responded with two blinks—no, he didn’t want her to do anything about Stepan’s visits.
‘Are you happy that Stepan shuts the door?’ One blink—yes, he was. ‘Would you rather that Stepan left the door open?’ Two blinks—no, he wanted it shut, too.
‘Do you want to see Stepan every time he comes?’ One blink—yes, he did. 
Occasionally, Casta thought Stepan’s worries were something to do with work, as she sometimes heard arguments between her husband and his two employees, Vasilios and Fedor. She asked him what the quarrels were about but he avoided discussing it.
Stepan had employed Vasilios and Fedor Chalakas in 1964. It was a good year for them, with Cynthia being born in March of that same year. Stepan’s business, begun in 1960, was now flourishing.
Vasilios and Fedor had become family friends as well as employees, helping Stepan and Casta to build their house at the front of the workshop. They had often gone out with Stepan after work and sometimes joined Casta and Stepan for lunch. Occasionally, the three men had gone to the local football games together on the weekend to cheer on Stepan’s friends who were still in the game. Stepan hadn’t lost his passion for the game that had captivated him when he first came to Australia, although he no longer played. His family and his business were his priorities now, though he still loved to watch the game with as much passion as ever.
It troubled Casta that these two young men who had contributed so much to the success of her husband’s workshop, now seemed to be quarrelling with him so often. What had gone wrong to cause such friction?
Once, she asked Stepan to invite Fedor and Vasilios home for lunch again as they used to, but he reacted angrily. ‘They will never set foot inside our house again,’ he declared. ‘I’ve fired them both.’

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Announcing Winners of Mine to Avenge Giveaway

The winners of yesterday's Mine to Avenge giveaway are as follows -

S Harrington (US)
M Mendoza (US)
G Preece (UK)
O Anderson (US)
S Darnell (AUS)

And the winner of the paperback is W Summer (AUS)

Congratulations and thanks for entering. I hope you enjoy reading my story and look forward to receiving your feedback in time.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Mine to Avenge e-book giveaway

A few weeks ago, I launched Mine to Avenge as an e-book. I had so much fun giving away copies of my book and interacting with people that I have decided to have another giveaway with free copies of Mine to Avenge again on offer.
I am offering five e-book copies of Mine to Avenge to the first five people who contact me with the correct answer to the following question -

Where did Alcandor keep the olive-wood box containing family documents and photographs?

Clue - the answer can be found in a blog post from November 2012.

How to enter -

·      Email the correct answer to the question to

·      Please advise which of the following options you prefer for your e-book - Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, Nook or eBookPie.

·      Please also advise me of an email address to email your e-book.

I am also offering one autographed copy of the paperback version of Mine to Avenge to the first person requesting it, but this offer is only available to readers in Australia. Australian readers will need to provide a postal address to receive the book.

Although it is not conditional to review the book after you have read it, I would appreciate it very much if you could write a brief review and post it on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook or any other networks you participate in. And please recommend it to other mystery/suspense loving family and friends.

I will post the winners here on the blog when I have all five.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Alcandor's grief - extract from Mine to Avenge

Alcandor now knew why the three men hadn’t involved themselves too deeply in the lives of his family. They would have been concerned by the possibility of being recognised earlier by Alcandor and Caterina for who they really were.
As he lay in bed alongside his sleeping wife, he wondered what he should do. Who should he tell? Should he tell at all? Would anyone believe him? As he lay there, he didn’t know where to start.
‘I have to speak ... I have to tell,’ he thought, and decided that he would start with Caterina. He would work out how to tell her and she would help him decide what to do. He would tell her about the note when she awoke.
He finally opened his eyes to see the grey light of dawn filtering into the room. He tried to roll over to face his wife but couldn’t move. He concentrated, telling his body to move, telling his right arm and leg to do what he never had to tell them before, but there was no response.
He could move his left side, slightly, but it was weak. He couldn’t even turn his head. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came.
It was as if the revelation of truth had completely immobilised him. Although he was unable to speak, hot tears of bitterness and fear rolled down his cheeks.
When Caterina awoke an hour later, she looked across at her husband. She saw that he was awake, lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. She said nothing for a while and lay next to him, letting her eyes trace the contours of his right eye and eyelashes. It had a sleepy droop to it, she thought. She reached across as she often did, placing her right arm across his chest and snuggled into him, but there was no response.
She propped herself on her elbow and gazed into his face. He stared back at her, but she noticed that his head didn’t move, only his left eye. The right one sagged oddly, making him look unfamiliar to her. Alarmed, she jumped from the bed and came around to the other side, watching his face as she came. His head didn’t follow but his left eye followed her movement closely.
‘Oh, Alcandor,’ she cried softly. ‘What’s happened to you? What’s wrong?’
She tenderly picked up his big, limp hands in her small warm ones, and leaned forwards to brush his forehead with her lips. ‘I’m going for help,’ she told him. ‘Stay calm, my love.’
She ran from the room, in more of a panic than Alcandor had ever known her to be before. He listened, and heard her pause by the room where their grandchildren were. He heard the creak of the door as she peered in to make sure they were still sleeping. He heard her in the kitchen and knew that she was putting on her overcoat which hung behind the kitchen door. He knew that she was going to the neighbor’s house for they had a telephone, and he knew that she would phone for the doctor.
Half an hour later the doctor informed Caterina that her husband had suffered a stroke during the night, and was unlikely to ever fully recover.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Are you a people person or a lone wolf?

Do you derive your inner strength and energy from solitude or being with people? I have been giving much thought to this recently after a conversation with friends. One friend in particular is of the opinion that we need people - that we are social creatures and built to be in relationship.
While I agree with this statement at face value, my friend seems to also strongly believe that it’s not right to have extended periods alone. He thinks it necessary to virtually always be in the company of others, and that there is something wrong when people want to have an extended period of solitude. It is this part of his thinking that I disagree with.
I believe most people fall into one category or the other in terms of what they prefer. I manage very well without people for days, and I think most creative people fall into this category. My creativity is stifled and suffers when I am with lots of people for an extended time. I need long periods of peace and quiet to produce my best work whether it is writing or calligraphy or art - no radio, no television and no people.
But I know I still need people sometimes. I need to live a life among people if I hope to find sources of material to use in my creativity. To write realistically about people and life, I need to live a life amongst people - to experience character against character, to understand relationships and human nature. To paint or draw the world, I need to be out in it sometimes, living in it and experiencing it, and observing what it looks like and how it works. I think that creative people who shut themselves away for most of their lives might lack the experience of life that feeds into creative work to give it its life and soul.
It seems that being a solitary person is considered a bad thing in a broader sense as well. I am sure everyone is aware of the drive towards team-work everywhere these days. Individuality of any sort is generally actively discouraged in the work-place, with the emphasis on everyone working together as a team. Again, I don’t think team-work is bad, but I object that everyone is expected to accept this as the only way and best way of functioning. It means that in the workplace, probably only about 50% of people are functioning at their best, because we’re not all made to do our best work in teams. What of the quiet achievers whose bursts of genius come while sitting alone in a private office away from chatter, radios and phones?
I think that sometimes people are afraid of being alone. Communication is happening 24/7 with people sometimes never shutting down their computers - permanently logged into Facebook and Twitter. Not so long ago we never had telephones in cars and managed well. Now that we can take them with us, we can’t wait until we get home to return the call - we have to do it straight away.
I sometimes think too, that people are afraid of silence. People have headphones on, radios on and televisions on, even when they’re not listening or watching. How many times do you hear people say that these things are on for company or just to have a bit of background noise?
Please don’t misunderstand me by thinking that I am claiming the solitary life as the only right one either. What I’m trying to say, probably clumsily, is that I think most of us are either one or the other - a people person or a solitary person - and I think you should happily live that nature most of the time, because it’s who you are. But I think we can all benefit by crossing over occasionally into the other realm to enrich our natural predisposition.  There is much value in solitude, and much in being in company with others. It would just be nice if the world saw the value of both, rather than prizing one and devaluing the other.