Dearest child, I can’t recall your name (the consequence of a chaotic mind?)

Dearest child, I can’t recall your name (the consequence of a chaotic mind?)

It’s not an uncommon condition. Anomic or nominal aphasia, apparently. Problems with name retrieval. Or anomia, problems recalling any word. Ah, yes, that happens too, occasionally.

Ironic that there are three names for the condition, and that I probably won’t remember any of them when I’ve finished writing this post.

C’est la vie. Whatever it’s called, I’ve got it. I run through a telephone directory before I hit on the right name for whichever member of my family I’m trying to holler. I might chuck in the names of the dogs, the horses, distant acquaintances (and, all too often these days, the name of a character in the novel I’m writing). My children have learnt to forewarn new partners that mother will refer to them by someone else’s name. In my defence, the name I use isn’t always that of one of their exes, but anomia has no decency filter.

When recalling the stars of TV or screen, Google is my friend. I can quickly locate the cast list for any film or drama. Now, what was the name of that blasted film? Pop stars, and who-sung-that? No point in looking to me for your answer, as many a pub quiz has proven.

Where we stayed on holiday will be ‘that little town/harbour/resort in the north/east/west/south’ and as a writer, I live in perpetual fear of being asked to name my favourite authors. Or what they wrote, come to that.

Apparently, it’s something to do with the way your synapses fire (or fail to fire in my case) and it frustrates me because I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent. I can recall many facts of less importance than the name of the person I’m talking to. My history teacher might have disputed my self-awarded IQ, but you tell me how it’s possible to correctly order the monarchs of England if you can’t remember their names. I wasn’t getting the dates wrong, you see.

When I speak, as an author, about my writing, I sometimes recount a funny story about how I changed one of my character’s names halfway through the manuscript (and the beta reading friend who sent me a text asking who the f**k is Ethan?).  It always gets a laugh, (or is it a scornful titter?) and I thought it was amusing too… until the second novel came back from the editor with TWO character name changes, and one poor soul with THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

I’m afraid that’s what happens when you become part of my family.

Thank goodness for proofreaders. And thank you for reading, mary/jane/ben/tom… whoever you are. Please don’t take it personally, I’ve got a chaotic mind and I am synaptically challenged.

I’m a shouty-shouty author this month – a one-woman band of marketing

I’m a shouty-shouty author this month – a one-woman band of marketing

So… you may not have heard? I’ve got a new book out REALLY SOON.

That question was ironic. If you haven’t heard I’d like to know why not, because I’ve been banging the same tune out for weeks already. Blowing my own trumpet, singing my own praises, whistling into the wind… ok, I’ll stop with the cliches now.

Are you sick of me yet? I know I am. So I’m giving myself a bit of shouty time off. I’ve been playing silly buggers with Movie Maker instead, and today I’m just going to leave you with a little light entertainment. This isn’t marketing, honest (but do let me know if it works!)

ps A Bed of Barley Straw is free on Kindle until the end of play tomorrow… and the new book is out March 3rd (available to pre-order here).

Rural Romance – my Valentine’s Day gift to you

Rural Romance – my Valentine’s Day gift to you

I’m bringing the romance to you today – A Bed of Barley Straw is FREE to download on Kindle from right now until Saturday 18th February. Just click on the picture of me to download your copy!

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Put up your feet and enjoy! With very best wishes, Sam xx

 

Donning my marketing hat (are you using Bublish yet?)

Donning my marketing hat (are you using Bublish yet?)

I hooked up with Bublish this week. I’m not sure why it took me so long, given that it’s free (for readers and for ‘Emerging Authors’), but maybe the sheer choice of digital book-sharing platforms addled me sufficiently that I ended up doing nothing, with any of them.

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As an independent author, and *²rooky *¹authorpreneur, it’s down to me to tell readers about my novels. So, with the new book about to come out, I donned my marketing hat and doubled my efforts.

I know more about marketing from the customer point of view than I do from that of the marketeer.  I know what annoys me (pop-ups, sign-ups, repetitive, shouty-ads, and don’t get me started on cold calls) so I was looking for more thoughtful ways of marketing my books.

Bublish achieves that:

  • Readers sign up because they want to hear about books
  • Author posts (or ‘bubbles’) have added value and insight (ie, they don’t just shout READ THIS)

If you’re not using Bublish already (as a reader or a writer) I would thoroughly recommend it. You get to choose which genres you’d like to hear about, and authors share extracts from their work, with accompanying thoughts and comments. It’s really easy to use and set up, plus (did I mention already?), it’s free!

¹*Authorpreneur (Urban dictionary definition)

An author who creates a written product, participates in creating their own brand, and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets.

²*I’ve done teaching, farming, horses and accounts, but I never had to market myself until I wrote a book, so whilst I may not qualify as a fully-fledged authorpreneur, I do qualify as a rookie.

A Bed of Brambles teaser…

A Bed of Brambles teaser…

In case I haven’t teased you for long enough, here’s a sneaky extract from the new novel (no spoilers, I promise).

The rural lanes were familiar now, white painted signposts to places she knew, remembered landmarks. They crested the hill, the scenic approach, and their journey took them onto the Cotswolds Romantic Road, the route that didn’t pass the industrial estate or the council houses to the east of the village. Driving it after an absence, Hettie could see what the tourists saw, the contrast of chocolate-box houses and lush, picturesque landscape. She was lucky to call this place home.

Ahead to her right the village still slept in a leafy green hollow of clotted cream cottages and pantile roofs, with punchy chimney pots rising above their ridges. And off to the left, Draymere Estate, its dry-stone wall curving alongside the road, softened by the years and the tall grasses clustered at its base. The Hall wasn’t visible yet, as it would be if they drove on through the village. Alexander swung the car off the road at a break in the wall, the back entrance to the estate.

They passed her old cottage and the stable block. Hettie looked at the clock on the dashboard. It would be another hour before early stables and horses wanting their breakfasts. The thought made her smile, a reminder of snuggling down in her bed in that cottage, with time in hand before she had to get up.

‘What are you thinking?’

‘I’m thinking it’s good to be back.’

You might get another one next week,  but then I’ll be stymied for passages that don’t reveal too much of the plot (or need an adult rating) winking-emoji

I’m faffing with formatting this week…

I’m faffing with formatting this week…

I know I shouldn’t do it, not until the ultimate proofread is in the bag. The reason I know that is because I did the same thing with the last book: Formatted everything neatly, and then did it all again after I’d made changes to the manuscript.

The trouble is, every format (epub, mobi, pdf) has a different trick up its sleeve. And Word is the devil incarnate when it comes to mischief making. My opening lines have popped up in bold, in italics and several font sizes larger than the rest of the text. Blowed if I can work out why. I solved it by deleting the page and adding it back in again. (A new take on turning it off and turning it on again.)

My PDF is immaculate. Immaculate, but reversed.

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What the hell is that about? Everything in the right place, but on the wrong page. So my extra-wide margins for binding have become extra-wide thumb rests, and the page numbers should be on the outside edge of the page. Back to the drawing board (heavy sigh).

My PC won’t save the downloads, according to my Kindle reader I’ve already got a copy. (‘Search Documents’ doesn’t agree.) And I’ve shot myself in the foot by writing two books with very similar names. After hours of this brain exercise, I’m not even sure I’ve uploaded the manuscripts which tally with their covers. I mean, A Bed of… Barley? Or Brambles? Who’s daft idea was that?

Luckily, it’s only a trial run. I’m honing my skills so that the real thing will be perfect.

But my brain cells are knackered now, so I’m off for a frosty walk and some blue sky thinking.

The USAAF in an English Hamlet

The USAAF in an English Hamlet

I’m Anglo-American themed this week. We live and farm on one of the many old airfields in the East of England which hosted the United States Army Air Force during World War II.

The runways are farm tracks now, and the Nissen huts store agricultural clutter, but that history has the power to snare.

As a child, I knew the ‘drome’ well. I didn’t live on it then, but I rode my pony over the concrete paths, cycled across it to reach the nearby village and played with mates in the control tower. There was a chalk board with writing still on it, we all thought the place was haunted. control-tower

Later on, I crossed the drome on my way to work, sometimes behind the snow plough as the farmer forged an escape through car-high drifts which often covered the road on that wide, treeless plateau (back in the olden days, when we had proper snow). But it wasn’t until I married and moved to the drome that the story of the people who had lived and worked there became real.

The plough turns up flints, hardcore for runways, and the land offers up all manner of military shrapnel. We dredged the pond and found a pair of discarded army boots, there’s a rusting belly tank a mile along the footpath and one of our fields is called ‘bomb site’.

Some years ago we excavated a single propeller from its resting place deep in the earth. It came from an A-20 Havoc, which crashed returning from a combat mission, on the 30th July 1944. The crew are buried in the American Cemetery. Three of the many young American men who didn’t make it home.

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I can barely imagine what ‘our’ airfield was like at that time, for the locals who lived there, or for the brave men (and boys) of the USAAF who were fighting so many miles from home. Our village has sewn a banner to remember them, it hangs in the church, and we’ve collected some of the villagers’ memories in a booklet. Here’s an excerpt:

Reg remembers that you could hear planes warming up for morning raids before you got out of bed in the morning, and he used to go up to the aerodrome with his friends before school to watch them all take-off. The aircrew were briefed in a hut which still stands on the lane, and is now in use as a workshop. Guards stood in place outside the doors when a briefing was taking place. The planes’ engines were warmed as they stood on the dispersal points around the airfield, before being topped up with fuel. Then they went to the ends of all three runways and took off in different directions, crisscrossing as they climbed. The whole lot would be up within minutes. They would circle once, get in formation and be gone. And when he came home from school Reg got back on his bike to go and see what damage had been done and how many of the planes had not come home, leaving empty parking bays.

The local history reminded us of happier stories too.  Christmas parties for village children, dances and friendships which endured through the years and across the Atlantic long after the war had ended. The exchange of eggs and milk for nylons and gum. Flowers picked from Cottage gardens and offered to English sweethearts by American Servicemen. Marriages and heartbreak. Families welcoming servicemen into their homes; baseball and big band music.

The village knew something was changing when white stripes were painted on the planes, but when the USAAF Eighth Force left they were gone overnight. There was no chance to say goodbye, and the airfield stood derelict.

 ‘All that life and excitement, and then they were gone.’

The Tudor farmhouse stood throughout the war, and saw good use as a secret meeting place for American airmen and their sweethearts, as an adventure playground for local children and as target practice for dummy bombings.

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Margaret remembers the old house as a magical place, with rambling roses and beautiful, big windows; but Reg remembers it as a ‘knocking shop’ for the Americans!

Anglo-American rustic romance.

Looking for holiday romance…

Looking for holiday romance…

img-20161119-wa0008I was in Lanzarote last week. That near-barren island of glinting black sand, volcanoes and fields of charred lava. Sheer rock faces that plummet into the deep blue Atlantic and waves that explode on the shore with flumes of white spray.

 

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There is nothing gentle about the landscape in Lanzarote, it is awe inspiring. Powerful and dramatic. It turned my head to the idea of romance.

I’m waxing lyrical, and I’m talking fiction, of course. I can’t help myself. As a writer every new place, vista and experience holds (as yet) untold potential.

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A hero forged from molten rock, a narrative spun over sharp peaks and yawning craters. A heroine trapped by the ocean.

 
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A passionate love story rising out of the sun-baked land.

Ah, for the inspiration of a setting so poetic that the plot (almost) writes itself.