Plain Barny

Plain Barny

We live a jammy, comfortable life in a lovely home with running water, central heating and his&hers studies. (We’ve been wed 32 years, and farmed side by side for all of them, but we’ve yet to achieve the heady compatibility of shared office space.)

Our kids grew up in this house, pets and sagas have come and gone. The rooms wear the tale of our lives like a favoured sweatshirt; baggy and washed-out with age. There’s a simile there which suits us rather well these days too. We turn a blind eye to the peeling wallpaper, the leaky roof and the scuff marks. The house has become an old friend and her quirks are easy to tolerate.

But the indolence of our mid-life comfort is about to be shaken. We’re downsizing, into a barn, which currently looks like this…

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THE EN SUITE (!)

Our barn hasn’t got running water, central heating or sewers, but I am reassured that these vital amenities are included in the plans. As are his&hers offices (to avoid the alternative – his&hers houses – which would be altogether more costly). There are also a lot of indecipherable ciphers on our drawings, which I’m desperately trying to interpret.

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PRAY TELL – WHAT FIENDISH LANGUAGE IS THIS?

I’m sure it will all be fine. The Farmer has chopped down some trees (a knee-jerk reaction to stress), we’ve got artisan mates primed to start work and I’m mugging up on Celotex and feather-edged boarding (whilst surreptitiously pinning pretty pictures to Pintrest).

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LEYLANDII  (NOT REAL TREES)

And I’m learning a lot. Primarily, I’ve learnt that my notions are more romantic than my budget. Is there such a thing as a dream editor, to keep things realistic?

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£70K FOR WINDOWS? YOU’RE HAVING A LAUGH.

We may have to reconsider the pretty windows, but we will have windows of some sort… I think. There will be hilarity (hysteria), cock-up and heated discussion (argument) aplenty before we get this job done. I fully accept that my comfortable, baggy-sweatshirt existence is about to be disrupted.

Bring on the sequined crop-top, I’m (almost) ready.

 

Meet the author in her natural habitat

Meet the author in her natural habitat

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.

 

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 pat on the back for me

A pat on the back for me

I’m patting myself on the back this week, and CreateSpace is my new best friend. When I first first blogged about CreateSpace (Setting my manuscript free) just ten short months ago, visiting their website felt like arriving on an alien planet. The language was new and foreign, the terminology beyond confusing. Mercy, have I learnt a lot since then.  You know how London cabbies get an over-developed hippocampus from learning ‘The Knowledge’, well I think I’m developing one of my own. It might throb and give me a headache when I use it, but the great thing is that even a fusty, middle aged brain can rise to a new problem when you push it. So now I love CreateSpace. We’re communicating, and everyone knows the importance of that. It’s all a lot easier when you’ve learnt the language.

A Bed of Barley Straw, Edition 2 is about to hit the shelves (don’t get that confused with the sequel which won’t be released until early next year) This is an updated version of the original book, with a gorgeous new cover, courtesy of Jane (my other new best friend) at JD Smith Design

Draymere Hall Volume I

Edition two has been reformatted into a slightly smaller book by me, myself and I (hence the perpetually throbbing hippocampus). Published via CreateSpace with their easy to follow (this time around) step-by-step guide to publishing your novel, and their brilliant interior reviewer which shows you what the inside of your book will look like. I have fallen out with Microsoft Word a few times during the process. It’s a devil for deciding it knows better than I do and rearranging the entire manuscript because I added a full stop. But we got there, apart from this…

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…can you spot the amazing vanishing page number? Try as I might I can’t seem to resolve it (hippocampus pulsing). Next book – Scrivener here I come (when the brain has recovered, I don’t want that hippocampus exploding).

And talking of messy, the sequel – A Bed of Brambles – is still with my editor, and boy has she got her work cut out. I tell a great story, but I’m raw and lack finesse so a bloody good edit is essential. I love my editor, despite and because of her honesty. Her words may smart, but she is the one who will turn my masterpiece into a work of art. Here’s a visual to demonstrate. This is where I work, where my creative juices run free (a chaotic scene which I wouldn’t usually chose to share with you)

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and here’s what I’d like you to see…

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The edited version, you get me?