Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The year I beat published writers in writing contests

Five Princes Publishing House.
I don't brag about my achievements, which annoys my friends. Two incidents come to mind about this subject, one relates to the times when I helped writers with free promotion on this blog.

At the time, I was in contact with a lady called Connie, who was the publishing editor for Five Princes Publishing House in Cincinnati.
She asked if I'd consider entering a contest with some of the writers she published, I knew the format at that point, the competition was to encourage publishers to sign up her clients. The snag is none of her writers came in the top dozen writers in the competition (I came third).
As expected, neither Connie or any of her writers, thanked me for my help; that is a sad fact I learned the hard way, writers rarely thank you for helping them.

The other event happened not long after when I came top of the class in writing a speech with the AutoCrit site. I couldn't believe that people with large contracts, had difficulties writing stories involving speaking, most of my short stories are character-driven.

Trans day of Visibility

A transperson romance
After writing A Homecoming, which approached the subject of sexual intimacy between same-sex partners. I had an idea for writing a romance about a trans person, as I have seen some attractive trans ladies. The lady above is Dr. Lynette Nusbacher, who I listen to when I watch Abandoned Engineering.

Well before Caitlyn Jenner made her fortune Keeping up with the Kardashians there was a Welsh writer called Jan Morris who was a respected trans person.

The Return of the Prospero

Sea Ghosts sequel.
These are the opening pages to the sequel to my ghost story, Sea Ghosts.
The young couple stood on the quay viewing the sea, with a smile, the young lady asked the sailor, "Would it be possible to take a boat out for the afternoon, please?"
The sailor glanced out to sea, and replied, "As you are asking, I presume the young man has sailed before."
The young man replied, "I crewed with my late father many times, captain before cancer struck, and he got forced to sell his boat."

"That be fine, young man, but have you been to sea? These waters are treacherous and full of riptides and mysterious happenings that have baffled any investigation. Mind you keep an eye on the weather, sea mists rise quicker here than any shore I have come across, and if you see the water boiling and a green mist rising head to shore at full speed, and pray you to make landfall before Mad Jack's crew catch up with you."

The young lady looked scared as she asked, "Who is Mad Jack, and what have we to be scared of?"
The sailor was about to reply when the young man said, "Don't worry, love, it's only a tale told to scare the visitors into buying the sailor's a beer. There is nothing to concern yourself over."
The old sailor shook his head, then replied, "You are much mistaken young man, there is a lot to fear, and it's not only a tale told. John "Mad Jack" Adam was alive as you and I, sir, His story can be read in the book Sea Ghosts. The crew swore they would get their revenge for his betrayal one day, and folk around these shores believe the story. Are you from this area, sir?"

The man smiled and replied, "Yes, I grew up not far from here. My family fished these seas for several generations; I am the first not to be a sailor."
"In that case, would I be correct in thinking you have heard of "The Curse of the White Lady?"
"You are correct, I have heard of the curse. It stated that if three captains see the lady in white on the same evening, one of them will die before the next day is over."
"Have you read the story of "The Rocking Lantern?"

"Yes, I have, it is the story of how one Captain's greed doomed his ship, Sally Grey, to a watery death during the great gale of 1871."
"Well, that story is the official story told to the papers, but the people living here know another story that was not allowed to come to the notice of the press in case it panicked the people."

Monday, 30 March 2020

Pain and Glory

Dolor y Gloria
Pain and Glory is the title of a film by Pedro Almodovar. The film is about a film producer who is looking back at the sadness and glories he has had over the years, something I can relate to with ease.

A decade struggling to get a publisher interested in my work, while I watched writers who my friends considered lesser talented than I prosper for want of two things, They live in the USA and have money to spare for publicity.
Wasting money, I couldn't spare in buying a book cover for a romance novel that never sold.
Finding out the only publishers interested in me are scam sites where I'd have to pay for publication.

My one blinding success story in my decade of struggle is the science-fiction series Forgestriker which has sold over 850 e-books in five years.

Check for English subtitles

I am not infallible.
There are many complaints on the Amazon site about people buying a film and finding it has no English subtitles. As a rule, if I buy a foreign movie, I check it has English subtitles. 

The film above is one that I had wanted to see for a while as it features Carmen Maura, who is one of my favorite actresses from Spain. However, the first version I bought was dubbed in German, I would rather listen to the movie in its original language, and read the subtitles than try to listen to a dubbed film. Another incident is my recent acquisition of a 2002 film from Belgium called Alias. I bought the movie because it has three of my fave actresses from Belgium in, Hilde van mieghemVeerle Baetens, and Hilde De Baerdemaeker. I should have realized buying the film from Italy it would be dubbed in Italian.

E-book sales on Draft2Digital

A popularity rise in Germany for my e-books.
Having checked the raw sales data, which tells me not only how many sales, and the channels my e-books have sold in, but the countries where the sales are for Draft2Digital
In one way, I am surprised to find that in recent months there has been a glut of sales in Germany, there again, German reading is similar in some ways to that of the USA,  as both countries enjoy stories with a scientific basis, so the rise should not be so surprising.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Kate McCann

The Dingo baby murder of 1980.
When I see the name, Kate McCann, my mind goes back to 1980, and the infamous Dingo baby murder

Lindy Chamberlain was acquited by the Australian courts of the murder of her baby, Azaria. This does NOT mean she is innocent, only that there is insufficient proof of her guilt.

As a parent, I would NEVER have left my three-year-old child alone to go out to the disco.

Munchausen by Internet Behavior

Mental Health Issues.
Several years ago, on the Bookrix site, I was trolled by young ladies who tried to convince me, unsuccessfully, that they were suffering at the hands of people they should have been able to trust. 
The girls showed the classic signs Munchausen by Internet. I was never in any doubt of their insincerity as for many years, young ladies from various counties had tried to con me, without success. As soon as they start talking in flowery terms, I switch to "dumb mode."

Friday, 27 March 2020

L' Enfant Terrible

Romance in Belgium.
Here are the opening pages to my new romance, a story I have set in Belgium.

Chapter 1 - The mysterious phone call.

Marta de Ridder sat at her desk in her house in Selange, Southern Belgium. Being a best-selling writer gave her some privileges in her career, but she knew you couldn't buy happiness. Marta had her share of detractors and critics in her early years, and those knocks still bore the scars on her confidence.
Fortune favored Marta, at the point of giving up writing, she entered one final writing contest out of desperation. The prize was a prestigious contract with a top publishing house. However, she'd never written historical fiction before - she gained her reputation writing Gothic Romances - she decided with nothing to lose to have a go. Much to her surprise, although she didn't win the contest, her entry so impressed the judges they offered her a contract.
Martas' best friend is her agent, Helena Gerhoven. Helena got offered the job of a publicist at a new firm in Liege and was on the lookout for new writers to impress her bosses. Being a fan of Martas' writing, Helena asked her if she would like to be her client for the firm. 
Not sure what to make of the newcomer to the scene, the bosses at MedHis Press were a little dubious about Helenas' choice of her friend as a client, but they decided to give Marta the chance to prove herself, and they never looked back, as her stature grew so did the firm. Now MedHis is one of the most famous publishers in Liege.
Marta lives in the same house that she grew up in, but her heart was not always here. She had grown up in Selange, but she longed for the days when her family visited their lodge in the mountains. Her career meant Marta had little time for such luxuries as time off and being a writer, even if Marta took the occasional day off work, she would still think of storylines. Often, she wondered what it would be like to be able to relax her mind and enjoy life.
From her house, Martha could see all the forest in the distance. "The high life isn't all it's cracked up to be," she thought I spend my days writing about the lives and loves of my reader's heroes and heroines and rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the gains of my work. Perhaps, after the next release, I'll take a week off to visit the lodge. 
As if to remind her of her obligation to the reality of life, the phone on the desk rang, she picked the receiver up and replied, "Martha de Ridder how may I help you?"
The voice on the other end was the familiar voice of her friend, Helena, "Hi, how are you fixed for dinner next Tuesday?"
Martha thought for a while and checked her diary. Helena usually kept track of Martas' meetings, but sometimes she booked one, or two, without telling her friend. It was her way of having a little freedom, and Helena accepted the way Martha did things. Marta took a glance at her calendar, and then said, "At the moment, I am free on Tuesday, Helena, what's on your mind?"
Helena flicked through the book of addresses in front of her, and then replied, "I thought we could have a drink and a meal to discuss a new proposal that was put to me, to put to you."
Marta glanced at the treetops in her view, lost in thought for a minute, and then replied, "Yeah, I'm okay with that idea. Shall we say 8:00?." 
Helena gently smiled and replied, "Let me guess, La Charbonnade."
Marta sighed, "Am I that transparent? I thought, after the next book, I might be able to take some time off, I feel jaded, and I worry that my tiredness will affect my writing, and the sales will fall drastically. I don't want to disappoint my readers." 
Helena replied, "Marta, the last thing you are is obvious, that is why I enjoy being your agent as you keep me on my toes. Secondly, when have you ever let the readers down?"
Marta thought for a moment, and then replied, "Not as far as I can recall, but there's always a first time."

Helena sensed a cramp in her legs, so she stood up from her desk and took a walk around her office while she smoothed her skirt, and replied, "I can tell you, your books are selling better than ever. We have mass pre-orders for your next book, and only you know when it will be out. I know you like to keep things close to your chest, but a little warning would be nice. That way, we can book some promotional tours to coincide with the launch, before you say it - I know you don't like signings. So, we're okay for 8:00 at La Charbonnade next Tuesday, be there, or be square," Helena quipped as she put the phone in her office down.

No sooner had Marta put her phone down that it rang; she replied to the caller, "Bonjour, Marta de Ridder, puis-Je Vous aider?" (Hello, Marta de Ridder, can I help you?)
A man's voice replied, "Bonjour mademoiselle de Ridder. Mon nom est Roger de Coster, mon enterprise a besoin de votre aide juridique." (Hello, miss de Ridder. My nom is Roger de Coster, my firm is in need of your legal aid.)
Marta was taken by surprise but quickly recovered to reply, " Monsieur de Coster, Je crains que vous nayez la mausive dame. Tu aurais du contacter ma soeur, Corrie, elle est l' avocate. Je suis ecrivain." (Mr. de Coster, you have contacted the wrong lady. You need to contact my sister, Corrie, she is the lawyer. I am a writer.)

Mr. de Coster made his apologies and replaced his receiver. Marta was still none the wiser about the call, she'd been out of contact with her sister since they had a row several years ago, often she had thought of making peace. But, each time, she had the idea she told herself that in her mind, she had done no wrong, so why should she break the ice.

Trending on Twitter

I rarely concern myself with trends.
I have made a point, to my detriment, of not writing about trending topics in my books; usually, the subject passes, and the books are not saleable. A good example being the 2012 Mayan calendar scare that had thousands of writers writing end of the world stories, for that year they were popular.

This year, I have broken my rule as the Coronavirus is a science fiction writer's dream, that is why it is the subject of my latest story - The Coronavirus Mutation.