Tuesday, 12 June 2018

REVIEW - Fat Girl - faces future with sass

Date read: 12th June 2018

My rating: 4.5*

Genre I reckon: Self-discovery whilst dieting, humour

Buy link: Amazon

Now, to you, my lovely blog readers, I will make a little confession...
I read this book as I recently discovered this author online. She's a fabulous person, supporting her fellow authors.

When I learned she'd also written about a girl with weight issues I was worried.
Will it look like I copied her, when my WIP gets released?
I'm happy to report it won't.
I'd already started writing when I discovered her, for a start.
And although we cover the same topic, it's from different perspectives. Plus, y'know, US vs UK thought processes and spellings, oh, and culture.

So, my review of Fat Girl...

A very open and honest book about the struggles of Fat Girl.
Bless her, her self-loathing really has climaxed. And she's faced with having to deal with her issues.
But her therapy sessions go deeper and further than she expected.

I really liked Claire; a very flawed MC.
I'm British, so self-deprecation kinda goes with the territory, and I respected that aspect of her character.

It is not an easy read. As Claire punishes herself with her strict starvation and harsh exercise regime I was screaming, and almost throwing my Kindle across the room! "What are you doing?" I asked her. Strangely, the character didn't respond ;-)

Dating fiascos and family troubles run riot in this sombre yet funny novel.
And it is funny. There's a wry humour running throughout.

This is a great journey through self-discovery, taking the scenic road, bumpy hills included.

Any book reviewed on my blog comes with a genuine "recommend to a friend" status.
And this is no exception.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Author Dreamed of the Highlife - but remained Earth bound

I'm going to start by saying I totally nicked this idea from Angeline Trevena, who wrote an awesome article on her blog last week, about her own dream job.

Well, it may come as no surprise to discover yours truly has always had her head in the clouds.
From the age of about six, my dream job was to be an Air Hostess (as it was called then).
It was shortly after this ambition formed that I developed air sickness, on an extremely turbulent flight to New York. I was one of the last to be ill on the plane, but sadly, I was really young and impressionable and the association stuck with me.

Undeterred by such a minor setback, I carried on through childhood and adolescence with this goal in mind.
As I progressed through college, one snobby boyfriend told me I wouldn't ever be an 'air stewardess'. He saw it as menial work. I saw it as glamorous, and a way to travel the world, to set myself free.

I studied Leisure & Tourism at college, obtained an 'A' grade in my German GCSE, and also passed French. I learned the NATO phonetic alphabet, got a Saturday job in a travel agency. You name it, everything I could lay my young hands on to enhance my chances at achieving my dream, I grabbed it.

However, whilst I was studying I met the man who would become husband number one.
As I prepared to apply for a summer job at EuroDisney, he uttered the words, "I don't know if our relationship could survive if we were apart that long."

For years, I had repeated my mantra "Nothing is going to stop me."
Guess what, something did.
Yep, husband number one actually managed, somehow, to stop me even applying for my dream job.
I was being stupid anyway. I got airsick. My planned hypnotherapy to overcome that was expensive, and may not work. And why did I want to leave home when I was setting one up with my man?

It took many years for me to realise that relationship was failing.
And a few more for me to appreciate the effect it was having on my mental health.

Once I set myself free and got myself sorted, I thought it was time I tried.
I had drifted from job-to-job, never finding career satisfaction. Nothing matched up to my airline vision.

So, I applied for a job with British Airways. I even scored an interview.
But oh so much pressure had built up. So much hinged on that day. And the day was gruelling.
I didn't stand much of a chance. I was, by now, too old and too fat.
It was the...worst...interview...ever!
I managed to reach up to the required height easily enough, and navigated my way through the written test. But then came the role play. I hate role play! But that wasn't the worst.

Imagine yourself in a tatty, dim room with two women. One of whom is a complete harridan with NO facial expression whatsoever. None. Not scowling, not smiling. Completely impassive.
Now, said harridan asks you many interview questions.
It's fine, you've attended many interviews before. You've had practice.
Only, when she asks them there seems to be a hidden meaning.
You start to panic.
Suddenly, you think it's really funny to add, "and because I don't suit red," to your response to the question 'Why do you want to work for BA?'.
OMG, I think an actual tumbleweed blew past. You heard of a deathly silence? Yeah, this was one of those.

I waited for what felt like an eternity, but I finally got the rejection email.
It shouldn't have been a surprise, but I was absolutely devastated. And I mean that in its full sense.
A TL shaped puddle was all that was left.
There were wails of pain and anguish. Roars burst from my throat, directed to the skies.
Why? Why after all this time, after all I'd been through, was I still not able to fulfil my destiny?
It was too cruel.
How much misery is one supposed to endure?
This was indeed the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

Funny part coming up. Phew!

Now, I'm not particularly religious. But in that moment I made a bargain with God, the angels, whichever good deity wished to listen...
"If I don't win the lottery this weekend I will use the emergency exit. I will end my life."
I deeply meant it, from the bottom of my heart to the top of my soul.
I'd been through hell all my life, and wasn't prepared to go through more.
So, what happened? I won £10!
Not exactly the jackpot I was aiming for, and I could hear my angel chuckling. Smug git!
A deal's a deal, right? I honoured it (obviously).

And you know what?
Being a 'hostie' wasn't part of my plan.
It's a far different job now from what it was when I set my goal.
I wouldn't really want it now.
I can look up at the sky on a stormy day, and thank the Powers that I'm not in a bumpy plane.

Fate had a very different path in mind for me.
And I'm still walking down it.

Sometimes, we can make plans. And those plans don't work out the way we thought they would.
But it's OK.
Everything is exactly as it should be.
Sometimes, you just need to go with the flow.
New adventures are just around the bend.

Phew! That was a bit serious, huh? Thanks for sticking with me.
Maybe you know a bit more about me now.
It felt important to share that story, so I did.

Always in love & light,

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Writing Dialect and Accents in Dialogue

What do your characters sound like? 
Do they have their own characteristics? Or do they end up like the teacher in Peanuts? 

So, you may have deduced I'm British. What gave it away? ;-) 
I therefore write in 'British' English. I spell words like colour and aluminium. 
There is a whole debate on this, but I'm British, and so are most of my characters, so the hat fits. 

However, this doesn't tackle what my characters sound like. 
To the rest of the world, the English accent is the old BBC one, I think. Haw haw haw, what what. 
But we have many different accents in our beautiful country. And I will admit, even I don't understand them all (*blushes*). 

The good folks of Glasgow have a very strong Scottish accent. Have you watched Trainspotting? Hmm...Ewan McGregor...
(*coughs*) Sorry, where was I? Oh, Trainspotting. Right. So you've maybe watched the film. 
But have you read the book? 
OMG what?? It's actually written in "Scottish". 
Now, this hasn't harmed that, has it? 

Good old Thomas Hardy, author of novels such as Tess of the d'Urbervilles, wrote obviously in his ye olde English style but also used some local dialects from the countryside. Again, very popular. If a little hard to follow sometimes. 

Mark Twain is an example of an author who used the Southern American vernacular. 

We're a diverse world, so don't be afraid to show it. 

Now, a word of caution. This can very rapidly become overdone. Although the examples above are very popular books, a lot of readers are put off by them. So, we want to use it sparingly. After all, we don't want to end up sounding like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, do we? Cor blimey! 

Cerys in my own Darkness & Light Duology is Welsh. 
This is a hugely sweeping generalisation. Of course, there's many parts of Wales, and many dialects and accents. But I didn't want to write in Welsh, and wanted to keep it broad so people didn't locate the elinefae ;-) 
Some of her dialogue has a note, such as...
“Hmm…you are new.”
Shakira noted the sing-song lilt of the woman’s Welsh accent. But instead of the usual cheeriness that went along with that association, there was a gruffness too. 

In other places, I added some key Welsh words e.g. cwtch
He lifted his arm and wrapped her up in a proper cwtch; the most comforting type of hug you can find anywhere.

I even snuck in a 'popty ping' - which is a bit of a standing joke. Supposedly an alternative word for microwave. 

I digress. It's not like I'm saying I'm wonderful, follow me. I'm merely giving you an example. There's many ways to approach it. I happen to think less is more. The aim is to add flavour, but don't labour the point.

Adding accents/dialects is a fun way of differentiating 'character voice'.
Have a play! Writing should be fun.

btw, a distinction between terms:
Dialect - is when vocabulary/grammar changes e.g. Hampshire, England uses "nipper" as a term for child. "Alright, nipper?" is "Are you OK little one?" 
Accent - is the pronunciation of words e.g. the different way Americans pronounces vase as opposed to English personages

So there we have it, another wonderful blog post which will enlighten you.
Or just some TL brain vomit ;-) 

As always, feel free to comment below with your opinions and/or suggestions for future blog posts. 

Always in love & light,

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

REVIEW - Grampas Glasses - they're magickal!

Date read: 30th May 2018 (in 10mins)

My rating: 5*

Genre I reckon: Magickal Tales

Buy link: Amazon

I don't always read grown-up books!

I am very frustrated with myself right now. This book has been on my Kindle for ages, but as I forgot to put it on my GR TBR it fell off my radar. 😕

I am so pleased I've read it now.
A very short book aimed at the very young, but which holds magic for all who believe in unicorns.
Explains their realm in a very lovely way for children to understand.

A beautiful very quick read. Like 10mins.


Thursday, 24 May 2018

What Does it Mean to be British?

What springs to your mind when I tell you I'm British?
Do you automatically think of London, with its red buses, black cabs, and Queen Elizabeth Tower (which houses the bell Big Ben)?

Watching the royal wedding at the weekend, I felt something I've not done for a while; pride in my country.
We're going through tough times.
Don't worry, I'm going to try to keep this non-political. I may be quite mouthy about my views in my personal sphere of friends, but author me tries very hard not to be. Mainly because I want us all to get along, and politics can be divisive. And it has nothing to do with my work.

So, back to the topic...
Great Britain is a landmass, containing the countries of England, Scotland and Wales (the mainland/island).

The sovereign state is actually named the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
This is a bit of a mouthful, so it's usually called the UK.

Clockwise from top left: flags of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

The countries England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales form the UK (at the time of writing, at least).

It was the Romans who named us Britannia, by the way.

We then add something called the British Isles, which include all of Ireland, Great Britain, The Isle of Man, The Isles of Scilly, The Channel Islands (which are made up of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark), and 6,000 smaller islands.
Phew! Still with me?

No wonder we're all a bit confused, eh?

By the way, the flag of the UK is the union flag. It only becomes the Union Jack when it's on board a Royal Navy ship (flown from the jackstaff).

Our nation has been invaded many times, by all sorts of folk.
We're a wonderful hotchpotch of influences and cultures. This has crept into our language and our cuisine. Hoorah!

Each of these countries has a diverse landscape and their own language.
Travel around, and you will hear a plethora of dialects and accents, and see a great variety of towns, villages, cities and countryside.
Some parts of the nation are very flat, some have rolling hills. There's lakes and coasts, caves and castles, valleys and cliffs.

My own photos of my trips around Britain

Very few of us now wear bowler hats, or carry umbrellas.
Most of our houses are really quite small. The great estates and mansions are slowly crumbling into disrepair (although organisations such as the National Trust and private families do a wonderful job of preservation).

But this is a writer's blog, I hear you cry.
Well, yes. Yes it is.
So...all this wonderful stuff that is Britain soaks into the pages of my books.
I am British and write about British people, so yes, I use British spelling.
My British, wry, dry, witty sense of humour leaks out through my characters.
The settings are often in the UK (but not always). You get a variety.
Even our beloved NHS is evidenced in my WIP, Self Love. As is curry, our national dish.

What makes me British?
Well, I am by birth and ancestry. My father would call me English, but I'm not so nitpicky.
But what does it mean?
I think it means I'm a bit of a crazy mongrel ;-)

Where are you from? And what epitomises your country?

Always in love & light,

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Thursday, 17 May 2018

Kindle Unlimited vs Wide

Do I go KDP Select (Kindle Unlimited) or go wide?
This is a question you see debated lots.

So, you can tick the little box on KDP which says 'Select'.
This will make your book available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers for free. They pay a monthly subscription and get as many books as they like in KU for no extra cost. Yay!
And you get paid by Amazon for pages read, something like 1p per 2 pages.

But, this means you're tied into Amazon exclusively.
Your book mustn't be available anywhere else.
And there's the rub.

You're losing out on all the Kobo, Nook, iBooks etc. sales.

And, BookBub (huge promotional site) seems to prefer a wide distribution (meaning your book should be available across all platforms).

So, is it worth it?
Well, you potentially get a lot more readers, as y'know, free book...
And we know my thoughts on those! (see earlier post)

And there are many authors out there who declare thousands of page reads per day, and swear by their KDP Select success.

If it's a first book in a series, and your next one/s are full price, sure, maybe it's worth it.

But the mighty Amazon seem to be clamping down harder and harder on authors.
They routinely remove reviews, a lot of which were actually genuine, but not according to their algorithm. :-/

Many authors have had books removed from sale and/or been threatened as Amazon have decreed reading bots have been used. These authors often have no knowledge of this btw.

Some books have been removed as there was a sudden spike in sales. Well yeah, the author ran a promotion, and got sales; it worked. But Amazon don't seem to like this either.

And then you add in the erotic genre who recently had all their rankings stripped out.

Oh, and don't forget Cockygate! I'm not going into details. If you don't know what that was, Google it.

Every day I see authors having problems with the market leader who were originally book sellers.

So, is it time to 'go wide'?
For this author, I think it may just be.

Why put all your eggs in one basket?
Especially when that basket is a little bit shabby and there's a hole forming?

Up to you. This is just my humble opinion. You can make up your own mind.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment below.

Always in love & light,

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Social Media and Marketing for Introverts (as a lot of indie authors are)

It's Thursday, so it's TL blog day.
I've got a list of topics yet to be covered. Feel free to offer up suggestions btw.

But today I feel like just having fun. It's all got a bit serious on here lately, and I'm starting to sound like a writing manual.

But this post could get really random and ecclectic if I don't try to focus a little.
That's just my way.

Over the years, those lovely 'Investor in People' employers I've worked for send their staff on courses so they get to keep their shiny award. And the staff are forced to stay awake with free coffee and biscuits. Thanks to many redundancies, I've sat a fair few of those, and I'm fairly sure I'm the 'green' personality. The one that is easily distracted and introverted. The "ooh butterfly" one.

Have you ever done one of these?

I'm also a trained counsellor, and have sat many 'navel gazing' exercises (looking deep within yourself). 
Plus, my holistic training has helped me look at people differently too. 

It may be surprising to some, to hear I'm an introvert. In social situations I tend to overcompensate. I get overly chatty, and loud if alcohol's involved. It's difficult to shut me up. I'm sure there's some people who think I'm full of myself. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact. You just need to see past my facade. 

I have a point! I'm getting there. Honest. 

Anyway, so whilst mingling with many authors online (love ya), I've noticed some commonalities. Now, I'm not saying EVERYONE. Don't start moaning. But generally, authors seem to be:
  • introverts
  • pet owners (usually cats)
No harm in that. And as we spend prolonged periods hiding in our writing dens, creating wonderful tomes, perhaps our work intrinsically attracts introverts. 

We love introverts; quiet, studious types. 
Gotta feel the love for extroverts too btw. They help drag us out into the 'outside' and befriend us.

Social situations tend to drain introverts. Doesn't mean we can't go out and have fun. But we need time to recover after. 

Add to this, the fact that I'm an empath. I feel the emotions of others around me deeply. 

Hmm...why did working in an office of 85 intensely intellectual mostly men make me really ill?? 

Back to the point...nothing wrong with introverts. We don't need to be 'fixed'. We are what we are. 

But...it is a bit of a nuisance when it comes to promotion, huh? 
As an author (whether indie or trad, as previously discussed) we need to publicise our work, so lovely readers get to know about it. 

Mercifully, the majority of this can be done online these days.
Your computer becomes your shield.
There's so many things.
Social media is huge. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
But eek, these mean you have to write stuff. Put information out there! :O
It's OK. You don't have to divulge your best kept secrets.
But readers do like to know a bit about authors. What are you interests? What do you do?
This is perhaps why we have cats; shove them in front of the camera, and not ourselves ;-)

There's some great groups around, who are friendly and supportive, offering quiet corners.
This very blog has a 'hug depository' for when times get tough.
And my own Indie Coffee Lounge fb group is super lovely.
And more is out there.

But there's other ways too.
Blogging is really quite personal a lot of the time, but it doesn't have to be. I'm used to including gumph about me now. I've got used to it over the years. I even enjoy my online interactions.
And to an extent, you should share. But you can focus on your writing/tips as opposed to you.

Giveaways are faceless. Amazon and Goodreads are possibly the biggest ones for this. But don't expect many reviews in return.
There's also services such as, but not restricted to, BookFunnel and InstaFreebie.

Have we all discovered how to set up an Author Page on Amazon btw?
Under your book title, your author name appears, and it takes readers to your profile.
This, really annoyingly isn't done in KDP.
You will need to set it up seaparately for each site.
So the US has authorcentral.amazon.com
And the UK has authorcentral.amazon.co.uk
This will also show you handy charts on 'Author Rank' and 'Sales Rank', as well as eventually showing you reviews (takes days for it to catch up with latest ones).

There's promotion sites such as Bookbub, ENT (Ereader News Today), Red Feather Romance, Bargain Booksy who will send out messages including details on your book sale, in exchange for a fee.

At the end of the day, you need to find what you're comfortable with. Just try stuff out.

I'm not writing to be famous. I write because I love it.
Yes, I really want many readers to buy my books and love them.
But them, not me. I am not my books.

btw there's a reason you never have to go too long on my Instagram before finding Pusskin. ;-)

Pusskin overseeing my work

For examples of my own social media, feel free to visit:

OK, that's your lot for today. Sorry, it ended up a bit serious after all. Hey ho.

Feel free to offer gentle opinions/thoughts below.

Always in love & light,