A Bed of Brambles – Download for free right now!
Proud, passionate and wilful, Hettie and Alexander are alike in so many ways. That has to be a good thing, doesn’t it? Or it could be a disaster…both carry scars, and old wounds have a habit of causing new hurt.
Physical attraction draws them together but hearts and minds can be thorny. One thing is certain, together or apart their lives will move on. Alexander and Hettie’s clashes of spirit will only be part of the story.
Second chances. New beginnings. The opportunity to make things right. Or to make the same mistakes all over again.
Unless fate takes the future out of your hands…
What better place for my new book signing than down at the local, and how lucky are we to have such a gem on our doorstep?
‘The Local’ – a pub where locals meet for a catch-up and pint, a g&t and gossip, or a dinner of hearty pub grub (next to the roaring log burner). The heart of the village! All cliches because they’re true, be it the Fox and Hounds in Draymere, or the pub down the road from you. So I’m very grateful that our lovely hosts are letting little-old-me use their warm and welcoming bar for my book chat.
Grateful, but a tiny bit panicked. It doesn’t come natural, this speaking in pub(lic) lark, I’d far rather write it down. I’m talking to myself in the mirror again (the first sign of author madness?) and practising my signature, which should be easy, but I managed to sign Sam Reading the other day (it started so well).
My special authograph pen (gifted by eldest daughter) is primed and ready to go. I’ve managed to find passages in the book which I can read out loud and (a) don’t give the plot away, (b) aren’t too steamy. But my mind is inventing first night fears – what if no one turns up? What if someone turns up? I pity the poor sods who wander down for a quiet pint and find themselves thrust into romance. Or maybe they’ll enjoy it.
As will I, when I get there. I always do.
Gentle reminder to self; don’t overdo the Dutch courage.
With Volume II of my Draymere Hall Series published, and the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) *Select enrollment period on Volume I about to end, I’ve decided to experiment with a two-book box-set (this is despite the preconceived wisdom on blogs I follow that box-sets should consist of three or more books!)
The box-set will consist of both ebooks. It was pain-free and straightforward combining the two volumes (which have already been edited, proofread and formatted, of course) into one great big document (200,200 words! I impressed myself with the weight of my saga).
Selling them as a pair feels like a no-brainer, giving readers the chance to buy both books for slightly less than the cost of buying them separately (if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about marketing, it’s that everyone loves a bargain) and at no additional cost to me.
Ah, but I will need a cover for my box-set.
The beautiful covers for my books were created by Jane Dixon-Smith of JD Smith Designs. She did a wonderful job and I love them (plus, I got some of those zany 3D images to show off.)
But this stops being an experiment if it costs me more money. I’d like to know that a box set will sell first. Which means I’m going it alone, and I’m no cover designer.
My first port of call was KDP, Amazon’s self-publishing platform, which has its own ‘Cover Creator’ (with guidelines to assist). It’s simple to navigate. You can upload your own images or use one of their backgrounds, and there are options to change colours, layout and font. But the choices are limited and mine were limited further by the amount of text I needed on the front cover to make it clear that this was a box-set and to name the separate titles (my titles are quite long!) I didn’t love any of their fonts or backgrounds and I couldn’t control the alignment of wording (or vary the font colour) within their layout parameters.
I’m trying to convey rural setting, romance and passion, and catch the eye of readers. This was my best effort on KDP’s Cover Creator. (The background image was downloaded from Pixabay for the voluntary price of a cup of coffee.)
I don’t like it. It doesn’t catch the eye, it doesn’t shout ROMANCE and you can’t read the white font on the pink sky background. But the biggest snag is that this cover would only function on Kindle, so alternative platforms would have a different cover, which I’d still have to make.
So I hopped over to Canva (tagline: Amazingly simple graphic design software!) and their ebook cover template. You could play forever on Canva, adding your own images and superimposing other pictures on top of the background, but I’m not clever enough. I made a right dog’s dinner of my efforts.
Luckily there are multiple, pre-designed ‘Canva Layouts’, so I selected them, because I’m not a designer, and I’d worked out by now that real designers are better than me at pairing up fonts with layouts and backgrounds. Snag number two is that whilst some of the layouts are free, all the ones that caught my eye cost money. Not much money, true, but then none of them were perfect either. So I changed my remit to something simple which just tells you what’s in the box(set).
Yuk, right? And remember that when you’re looking at these on Amazon or other sales platforms the image might be even smaller. Ask yourself, would you bother buying that?
I may go back to Canva, when I’ve come to terms with the fact that spending a little money could be essential and, with that thought in mind, I headed over to The Book Cover Designer to find out what premade covers are going for.
There are benefits to buying a premade cover. Obviously, it’s cheaper than using your own designer, there are options for paperbacks as well as ebooks, the designs are one-offs (so there won’t be another book appearing with the same cover, which is a risk with KDP and Canva) and some of the designers include extras like 3D images or a choice of alternative fonts. You can search for covers by genre. Those I looked at under the romance tag ranged in price from $29 (£25) to $200 (£165). Needless to say, the one I liked was $200. I jumped off there quick-smart before I could be tempted.
I haven’t designed my cover yet, but I have worked out that I’m both fussy and tight-fisted. For a little more effort (and possibly investment) in Canva, or more specific images I might find the solution I’m looking for. Pixabay couldn’t help with my search for red-headed heroines or English manor houses. Shutterstock had some images which piqued my interest…
… but they wanted £32, for five downloads, and I only need one picture (and the skills to turn in into a cover would be handy).
This is why cover designers are worth their money, but I haven’t given up. Back to the drawing board for me. All suggestions welcomed!
*enrollment in KDP Select grants Kindle exclusive sales of the enrolled ebook. I would therefore be unable to sell the box-set on other platforms whilst volume I was enrolled in the Select programme, and unable to enrol the box-set in the Select programme whilst Volume II is available on other platforms. Yes, it is confusing!
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
A hero forged from molten rock, a narrative spun over sharp peaks and yawning craters. A heroine trapped by the ocean.
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.