Monday, 29 April 2013

On KDP SELECT and book covers...

It's been an astonishing, exciting week...

I've been glued to my computer checking downloads watching hundreds of downloads turn to thousands, as Wildflowers shoots up the Kindle top 100 free ebooks.

I realise it's  the top 100 free ebooks, not paid.  That it didn't make me any money.  But that's not the point, because now I feel I haven't been wasting time, self-indulgently writing things that no-one else will ever read, which is great.  Though now, the challenge moves on, to see if my book will sell...

And how much is to do with the book's cover, because I know when I'm scrolling down pages and pages on Amazon, either the title or the image has to leap off the screen at you in it's split-second of opportunity...
A friend who read Wildflowers suggested that the combination of the old cover with the title made it sound more like a text book than a novel. And she's right - in fact, it was so obvious, why didn't I notice that??

What it means is Wildflowers now has a fab new cover to wear, just as it reaches the free ebook top 10...  Thank you Georgie x


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Next book...

I don't know if this happens to other writers, but just recently, I've begun with this idea that's just bursting with life - in my head - and then stopped, because for whatever reason, however hard I try, although there's the beginnings of a story there, on paper, it just doesn't flow.  Maybe that's because I've a lot to learn, but it can feel like that as soon as I commit it to paper, the story dies, which means it was never really a story in the first place.

There's another thing I've mentioned before - which is that you don't tell people.  You can tell the dog or the cat or the sheep, all of whom are very good listeners, just not people.  Not until your story is well on it's way to being something, because embryonic stories are fragile beings and if you talk about them too early, you murder them. 

Anyway, recently, after batting around what I thought were properly good ideas and realising after trying to write them that maybe they weren't, something new came into my head, completely out of the blue. And it just so happens it has flowers in it. And this time when I started writing, for the first time in a long time, I kept on writing and it started to work. And after talking it over with Bernard, I gave some chapters to my husband and teenage daughter.  (Bernard's one of the dogs)

Now, in our house we have a bullshit buzzer.  Also, in another life, my husband would have been the most scathing of scathing critics.  The kind you dread, or worse still, don't read, because they rarely say anything good.  Actually, it's not too late for him to do it in this life.    He's not always right, you understand, but has terribly important opinions to be expressed quite loudly.  All you other writers out there:  I hope your critics are a little quieter.  For unknown reasons, I still ask him. 
His opinion on this occasion was not bad, it depends where you go with it.
Well, duh. Talk about stating the freaking obvious. (And before he points it out, yes, I know, that's a tautology.)

Teenage daughter is gentler - but after eighteen years, I'm quite good at reading between the lines.  At least I think I am.  Like when she says, 'I like it...'  then hesitates, so you know there's a big invisible 'but' she's leaving out, just because she's a kind daughter who wants to encourage her mother.  Apart from being kind, she's also a brilliant writer.  She even has an agent who's interested in what she's writing, but that's her story.
Back to my own story, there've been a few 'I like it... but' moments in this house, only this time, she said, I really like it and I've scribbled on it.  I hope she wasn't just being kind because inside, I was whooping rather excitedly at this point.

It's early days, but so far, I'm loving where it's going.  I'll keep you posted. x

Sunday, 7 April 2013


It has been the most AMAZING weekend.  So far.  And it's only Sunday...

It began, like the best weekends do, on Friday night, with a party - wonderful people, music, fantastic food, free-flowing wine - it had all of that.  BUT.  This one wasn't just any party.  We were all there to celebrate someone who nearly wasn't.  Over the last year, since an accident left her severely injured, she's fought a battle most of us can't imagine, every single day, to overcome the problems it's left her with.  It's ongoing, but she's one of the most extraordinary and inspirational and awesome girls I know.  She's surprised all kinds of people along the way and I've a feeling she'll continue to do that for some time to come.  It was some party.
It kind of reminds you of what matters, which is actually what a reviewer wrote about my book.  I'm as guilty as anyone about obsessing about stuff most of which never turns out the way you think it will.  About stuff that in the grand scheme of things, is just details.  Bit of a waste of time, when you think about it.

Anyway, Saturday was just as amazing.  My lovely Tom (age 16) has been on a gliding course for the week.  He's had the most fantastic time, met great people, got up early (yes, he really did) and on Saturday, he went SOLO.  It's a big, big deal.   One of those things that stays with you.  I remember mine clearly, only the difference is that while I was completely terrified, Tom was up there for over an hour and would have stayed up there, only they needed his glider back... I guess all good things come to an end.  But I have a warm, fuzzy feeling and I'm ever so slightly proud.  Like I'm telling everyone I talk to and will be for weeks, probably for years.  CONGRATULATIONS Tom!! x   

And it's only Sunday.  The sun is shining, that Arctic blast has finally buggered off... Dare I say it - Spring???  That would be something too. 

Hope your weekend has been amazing x

Monday, 1 April 2013

On following your dream...

Once upon a time, when my children were babies, I made wedding flowers from home in whatever space I could find for them.  The kitchen table, a table in the shade opposite the back door, even the garage.  And how I wished, with all my heart, for my very own shop.  For years, I had a picture in my mind, of how I'd turn it into an emporium of seasonal flowers and plants, selling candles, antique containers, how I'd pile it high with apple boxes planted with herbs... and everyone who came in would be transported into the little world we'd created there.

It took a few years like these things do, but the business grew and the dream became reality - amongst stark warnings from those who knew better, that you had to work almost 24/7 to make a shop successful.  But the time was right and with my husband Bob, between us we decided to give it a go.

It was hugely rewarding, hard work and an amazing opportunity.  First I should point out, my husband never has been and never will be a florist - HA!  Just the idea!  However, he amused many of our customers with his unusual range of man-bouquets.  (He's an ex-engineer, ex-pilot and does things like fixing old landrovers - you get the picture).

But we worked like crazy for two years.  Us Mums who work full time... it's sometimes necessary, but believe me, we all know how hard it is. But I get huge satisfaction from saying we did it.  Did it well, too.  For a while - until the recession struck.  Then yet again, it was time to rethink our way forward.

These days, I'm lucky. We live in a beautiful village at the foot of the South Downs.  The babies are teenagers and there are dogs, cats, chickens and the sheep, Dave and Claire in the garden.  My husband teaches teenagers to drive and I make my wedding flowers in a wonderful old farm building a few yards from my back door.  And in between, I write!

Though these days, much as I love flowers, I have a new dream.  Of finding a publisher for my books.  I love to write stories that I hope will touch others in some way.  Stories that just won't go away.  And I'm hoping, that if I'm lucky and persevere and hone my craft and don't give up, like last time, it will eventually come true...

And here's a little picture of Spring, in case you've forgotten what it looks like!  Happy Easter x

Bernard and baby Dave