Dear Writer … it’s not all about you, ya know! – Reminder #5

Re-blogged thai.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

In marketing, it’s said that a message must be repeated 7 times before people take action. Writers, here’s your #5 reminder …

I was going to write a blog post about social media and how I’ve been paring down my use of it, because I’m finding it to be not all that social or the best media for me at the moment. After discussing with a fellow author how disappointing Twitter is (and she cleverly described T. as “like a 4-lane highway at rush hour with cars bumper-to-bumper. It makes me nervous”), I realized what bothers me isn’t not being able to navigate and use Twitter properly, but more the barrage of Tweeps who constantly tweet: Look at me! Aren’t I clever! Buy my book!

Now I’m not saying that I don’t do some self-promotion on there, but I do try to balance that with tweets of value to others…

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I promised a little more about our local fiesta and I think these pics tell the story of how the old, young, fat, thin and differently-abled (please let me get that pc bit right) – all have a part to play.

I would never say that Spain is behind the times, but I found it so refreshing to see youngsters without cell phones glued to their ears. OK, so we are out in a rural area but the public phone boxes actually work! I’ve yet to see anyone drunk and I can walk the streets without fear, even after dark.

We have noticed a slight scaling down in the fiestas I guess due to the recession, there are still a lot of young people unemployed here. Many have taken off for America – that’s South America, not north, as the language in most countries is Spanish.

The different sets of costumes represent the different filas. You can join one of these and I’ve heard that it’s more popular to be a Moor than a Christian as the costumes are more colourful. Throughout the year the filas raise money through all kinds of activities and some of this goes towards hiring the costumes and paying for the bands which march with them in the parade. There is at least one rental company which provides the elaborate clothing just for the Moors and Christian festivals up and down the coast. They even send a fitter along for the night.

The funniest thing I saw was fierce fight between a Moor and a Christian outside a temporary mock castle in a nearby town, the clash of steel told us these were real swords and they looked very sharp. One called a halt and shouted something in Spanish whereby the other dived into his pocket and produced a lighter with which he lit his opponent’s cigarette. After saying thank you they continued their ‘fight to the death’.

As most Spanish activities do, the final night ends off with a spectacular firework display – and while I have my fingers in my ears, cowering and wincing with every bang, the local pets and babes in arms are not the slightest bit bothered. I provide them with more entertainment than the pretty lights, as they wonder why an elderly grown up is scrunching her face and hopping up and down to some tune only she can hear.

Is it any wonder I love living in Spain? The next town’s fiesta starts this coming Friday and then the next one is …

Of course there are other reasons for a fiesta/party. Every street has a saint so that day must be celebrated, along with the saint for the town, the province and the country.

Then we have some weird ones, like the human tower building, the ripe tomato throwing, the leaping over babies and I’ve heard of the chicken throwing too – only these days to be kinder they don’t use live chickens anymore, but frozen ones from the local supermarket – bet that hurts as the young bucks try to attract the attention of his chosen young lady. If he is a good shot, I guess he could knock her out completely and cause extensive brain damage.

And of course you will probably have heard of the Pamploma bull running where men run away from bulls deliberately let out of their pens. In most countries people take care to keep their animals incarcerated in safety but not here, they deliberately set them free. But it might surprise you to know that this takes place in lots of other towns too. Pamploma only became famous because it was described by Ernest Hemingway.

If you have a spare moment (only two more days to grovel as voting closes at the end of the month) I’d love it if you could vote for Amie an African Adventure in the Best Indie Books of 2016 – other category – this is the link – and you can vote 3 times.


I thought today for a change I would hop back to Europe and share our local fiesta with you.

Every June for days and days the locals celebrate, not for tourists, but for themselves. They remember the 800 years domination of most of Spain by the Moors from north Africa and since 1990, the culmination at the end of weeks of all kinds of activities, is the Conquista and the Reconquista.

The first night the Moors come over the beach to conquer the castle – a little sad really as we don’t have a proper castle here, only a small lookout tower of fairly recent origin. But this doesn’t bother anyone.


Sneakily the Moors invade at night under cover of darkness. In theory they arrive by sea, but these days they lurk behind the chiringita (beach bar) on the main strand. The performance begins at 10.30pm, almost our bedtime.


We know the Christians are in residence, as they skitter along the sand and pop onto the rampart above the rocks just before the Moors arrive.


The Moors then try to persuade them to give up the castle and take a hike. First they send a demanding note which is theatrically torn to pieces. Next they try the bribery tack, boxes full of gold. No takers. Then come the dancing girls, all four of them, which, if you look at the number lounging around on the battlements, would have to work very hard indeed to keep everyone satisfied. The fire dancers and eater don’t make much impression on the castle residents either. Then they set fire to the cross – sacrilege – and then skilfully cut the throat of one of the Christian women.



Enter the horses, with battles galore and finally, in exasperation, they all take to the guns.

I don’t think I can post a video on here, but I’ll try on my FB page as the noise is truly terrifying. These are real blunderbusses, and they are filled with real gunpowder and wadding or something and they are really loud. They blast away for a while and frankly, they are lousy shots. The Moors are victorious and as the Christians march out of the castle in go the conquerors.

Eight hundred years is kaleidoscoped into twenty hours as the original inhabitants of our small town come to regain the castle. They arrive in broad daylight at 7pm, no sneaking around for them. They also try the bribery bit, with more dancing girls (I highly suspect it’s the same group from last night, so they must have changed sides earlier in the day – and I’m sure I spied the postmistress from the next village as she’s the belly dancing teacher).

The Moors are less than impressed, although the dancing was excellent. So, if the dancers failed, would the tumbling team (last seen at Benidorm Palace) succeed?

Sadly no, so after the gun-proofed horses have galloped about the beach for a bit fighting with real swords it’s back to the gunfire again and more fireworks.

A few people drop – despite the large number of guns most are really lousy shots, and the Moors give up and vacate the castle and the Christians take possession again. Mind those who have been shot lie for ages on the beach, probably tying not to breathe sand up their noses.


The third night there is the grand parade, which includes babies in push chairs, toddlers who can just walk, to grandmothers and every age inbetween. It’s a fantastic side of Spanish culture and family. I even noticed some Moors and Christians sharing a pizza after the battle!

I was going to include the procession in this post, but will save it for next week as I now have far too many pictures to include. none of them are brilliant and I apologize. The conditions for the equipment I had were not good, and the subjects had a terrible habit of jiggling around.

If you have a spare moment (this is the grovelling bit) I’d love it if you could vote for Amie an African Adventure in the Best Indie Books of 2016 – other category – this is the link – and you can vote 3 times.

And one other thing. Amie an African Adventure is on at $/£0.99 till midnight tonight – Monday, there seems to be an extra day I was not expecting. This is the link.



Author Spotlight – Lucinda E Clarke


Today’s spotlight is shining brightly on the amazing Lucinda Clarke. Word has it, she is a tigress at heart, having learned the craft of writing during her journeys on the African continent. Exciting? I’d say so! What’s not to love about this G-R-R-R-EAT author? Without further adieu, here’s…Lucinda!


Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?


I don’t feel I’m a very exciting person, although I’ve led a rather strange life. After a  rather rocky start I married this wildly insane Walter Mitty character who took me to Africa and opened up a whole new world. I’ve lived in eight countries, in a mansion, a shoe box and on a boat. I’ve been worth millions and flat broke – all good experiences for a writer I think.

How did you get started on your writing journey?

My Grandfather had a newspaper in China and I so wanted to follow in his footsteps. He was a foreign correspondent for two major daily newspapers in London, and I was convinced he’d just organize a job for me on the Times or the Telegraph. No such luck. I’ve been scribbling for as long as I can remember, it’s all I ever wanted to do, but I was a good girl and went to train to be a teacher as that was a proper job with a good pension. I was only 18, was I worried about pensions?

Are there any poets or writers who influence you? How so?

You can see how down to earth I am when I mention Enid Blyton. I was entranced by her books and remember thinking ‘I could do that,’ (precocious brat). After that I graduated toWilliam Harrison Ainsworth and Jean Plaidy as they wrote historical books, my second love.


Let’s talk about your novel! What is it about?

Amie an African Adventure was really the answer to whether I could write a novel. I’ve earned my living from writing since 1987 (whoops, give away in age there!), but honestly I used a typewriter with carbon paper. My first stories were on a machine without the letter t which I had to insert by hand. I’d written links when I was on the radio in Benghazi, Libya, and then pieces for a radio drama audition at the South African Broadcasting Service and I was told I’d never be that good as an actress but to go home and write. And I did and I won a national play award. From then I was commissioned by theSABC and later wrote scripts for TV and anybody else who would pay me, I wasn’t too proud to take money from anyone. One Monday I write about how good potato chips were for you for the crisp company and on Wednesday how chips would send you off in a box early for the Meat Marketing Board. My first books were memoirs and writing a full length novel was a challenge I couldn’t ignore.

How is the title significant?

I was crafty here. I thought people looking for books in lists often start with the letter A so my heroine’s name should be A…  Amy seemed good but then I saw there were lots of Amy books so I spelled it differently and earlier in the alphabet. For the subtitle I thought I should mention Africa so people would know what it was about, and she certainly has an adventure.

Where did inspiration for this come from?


If I find out I’ll let you know! Stories just pop into my head and I wanted to share my love of Africa with other people. Some of my best times were riding my horse through the bush in Botswana. On my Facebook page it says ‘While I’m writing about Africa, I can dream I’m still there.’

Tell us a little bit about the characters? What are they like and how did you come up with them?

Amie was just a very ordinary, used to her western comforts girl who had her life all decided. At the start of the book it’s all going to plan, marriage to her school sweetheart, even the parents and in-laws are friends, then I send her to Africa. Big culture shock, so many preconceptions shattered, she’s in a different world, culture, mindset, value system and it takes some getting used to. Up to this point, I’m setting the scene for what will follow as the pace picks up drastically as she becomes embroiled in a few nasty situations, and then civil war breaks out and it’s a fight for survival from then on.

Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?

Definitely a mixed gender audience. I couldn’t write a sex scene to save my life and I’ve always loved action and adventure stories and this is both. Often I can’t find a suitable category in the promo drop down lists as they seldom consider this genre. It’s a book to take the reader away to Africa and live the adventure with Amie.

What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?


I wanted to share my experiences of the real Africa with others. As I mention in the book, it’s not a question of colour but cultures and mindsets that may be different, and both have their place. Too often we judge another culture without understand motivations and I hoped to explain a little of that by opening minds to new ways of looking at things.

What is your writing process like?

Chaotic I guess. I try to balance the marketing with writing – I’m about a quarter way through Amie 3 right now. I set myself so many words to do each day, a low number I can usually achieve and grab the time when I am on my own and it’s quiet. I have a vague idea for a story and it sort of evolves as I go along.

How do you go about editing your story?

I have a professional editor and she is really, really tough. After 30+ years as a professional writer I was confident I knew how to write. Note the past tense – when it came to books I was back in kindergarten. Radio and TV plays fine (if the 21 awards prove it), books – another matter.

Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?

I was incredibly lucky as my ex boss in Africa takes pictures for National Geographic and offered to do covers for Amie 1 and 2 and has already offered for Amie 3. He’s a really cool photographer and becoming well known internationally.


How did you go about getting published?

In the 1989/91 era I was commissioned on the strength of my radio work to write 2 educational text books by two of the Big Five. I remembered the size of my royalty cheques – pitiful. I’d had an agent at one time, but she only tried my children’s book with only one publisher and later I sent off a few early works to publishers but was turned down by them all. I was too busy writing to put bread on the table, so I didn’t bother to make much of an effort. It was only after I retired to Spain that the bug to write something I wanted to write, and as long as I wanted it, (I could ignore the exact timings required in the media) was amazing. And then the opportunity to self publish? No contest. I’ve turned down two offers since then, I’m staying independent.

What was your self-publishing experience like?

At the beginning it was a nightmare. Did my own cover, used the wrong fonts inside, uploaded it and waited for the loot to pour in. I was on the point of ordering the ocean-going yacht when I noticed there was no money coming in at all and I couldn’t understand it. Was the book that bad? (It probably was). In 12 months I sold maybe two dozen copies. Then I learned about the advertising / marketing strategies, or rather started to, I’m still learning. It had never occurred to me I would need to go out there and tell people about it.

What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?

Lucinda-72dpi-1500x2000.jpg NEW WOE

PROS – more financial return on sales – control over pricing and promotions – control over choice of cover and changing if necessary – nail biting moments as you check your sales graph for the millionth time each day – keeping your copyright – no restraint of trade should you happen to part company with publishers – regular payments into your bank account (unlikely the big A will go bust any time soon) – a sense of total ownership and return on the amount of effort you are prepared to put in.

CONS – difficulty in getting your print books into stores – the attitude that you’re not a real writer because if you were, the Big Five would be beating a path to your door – you’re only playing with this publishing thing because you’re not very good – the 24/7 marketing and learning how to Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin and Google+ circles and Pinterest and the list is endless – it’s exhausting. Take a health check before you start all this!

What were the surprises? Good or bad? If so, what were they?

Huge surprise as I was used to the media world in radio and TV where we were friends but a little guarded about our projects – basically we were in competition, but the Indie author world is amazing and I still can’t believe how helpful and friendly everyone is. They will go out of their way to help at no cost and cheer you up when you’re down and really understand what you are going through like no other community – even my real life friends don’t really understand the horror of a flatline day. On the bad side there are a few trolls out there, but life is not perfect.

Lucinda Clarke UEA_kindle_cover2

How do you go about promoting your book as a self-published author?

You name it, I’ve tried it. As many of the social media outlets as I’ve managed to work out so far – a couple of book signings, which were not a huge success. Living in Spain, I’m pretty much restricted to online communication, even the radio interviews and newspaper articles here have not brought in many sales. Our community is elderly (like me) and they all buy big name paperbacks for cents from the charity shops, so I’m up against that.

Is there something about the whole process you wish someone had told you before? Good or bad?

You have to market and you will be at it morning, noon and night.

Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?

Decide why you are self publishing – for vanity, just to have a book on your shelf to admire, or do you want to turn it into a business? If it’s the latter prepare for some very hard work, and, be prepared for bad reviews, so grow a thick skin, but also be prepared to listen to advice. Most importantly, when I made a series of videos for a major bank (use our bank so you can put up your house, wife, children, parents, car and the dog in hock to us) – seriously, the first episode they said, make sure your family go along with this and support you every step of the way.


What plans do you have for the future of your writing?

Not sure I should share these publicly, but let’s just say J.K. Rowling would be envious.

What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?

I’ll post all of them as I love hearing from readers. If anyone would like to go on the mailing list that would be great as they will get to hear early about new books and special promotions and giveaways.


facebook logo

Twitter: @LucindaEclarke


Web page:

Amazon author page:


amazon author buttondownload


Excerpt from Amie:


“How many children do you have at this school?” she asked the headmistress.

“Just over six hundred, but they don’t all come every day.”

Amie turned to count the number of classrooms, there were twelve being used for teaching. “So that means you have about fifty children in each class?” she asked.

“Yes, they are large classes,” Mrs Motswezi replied, “but we have more in our pre-school, come we will go visit them next.”

Amie gazed at the crowd of small faces who turned to look at the visitors as they walked into the pre-school classroom. Some of the children smiled and jumping to their feet came to crowd round the new arrivals. As in every other classroom they had seen, Mrs Motswezi told the children that Amie was a visitor from England and as one the children chanted “Good morning visitor from England.”

Amie felt tears in her eyes as she gazed at the little faces. Some looked happy and eager, others looked sad and beaten, as if they knew, even at this early age, life was going to be one long struggle for survival. One child in particular caught her attention. Right at the very back was a small girl with the largest eyes Amie had ever seen. When the other children jumped to their feet, she noticed this little one was pushed to one side and she fell over before scrambling to her feet.

Mrs Motswezi saw Amie’s face and beckoned the teacher to come over and they spoke for a few moments in the local language.

“That little one has no parents and she is not thriving,” she told Amie pointing to the child she’d noticed. Maybe one day someone will take her and give her a good home, who knows. We don’t know where she comes from, she was found by the gate many months ago.”

Amie looked at the child again and wished she had something to give her. The child’s filthy dress was much too small for her and was torn in several places.

“Does she stay here in the hostel?” she asked the teacher, but it was Mrs Motswezi who answered.

“Yes, she has nowhere else to go. She is called Angelina, but I think God has forgotten this little Angel, we do the best we can for all our little ones.”


This is a conversation I had a couple of years ago

ME:      Wow! Finished at last. Yeah! Now, should I write THE END or just leave it?

AMIE:  You’ve not finished.

ME:      I’ve finished the book, my first full length novel after three memoirs.

AMIE:  No you haven’t finished.

ME:      Look, who’s the writer here? It’s my book and I’m telling you I’ve finished it.

AMIE:  I’m the star and I’ll tell you when you’ve finished.

ME:      As the author I’m in charge, I write the words and I do what I want with you.

AMIE:  That’s what you think, I know better. You only think you’re in control.

ME:      You really have an over-inflated opinion of yourself. You were a real wimp at the beginning, scared to go to Africa.

AMIE:  Ah, but I toughened up right?

ME:      Well yes but …

AMIE:  Who did all that slogging across the bush? Me, not you. Who got slung in jail? Me not you. Get a life. I want to go back.

ME:      To Africa? You must be mad.

AMIE:  Of course to Africa, where else?

ME:      Look, I’ve got you back home safely, you’re with Mum and Dad. So stop whinging.

AMIE:  Jonathon’s still in Africa.

ME:      No problem, I can just add a paragraph to bring him home on the next plane.

AMIE:  Not good enough. I want to go back. I’m the star, I’m in charge and I’m going to throw one hell of a tantrum if you don’t do as you’re told or I won’t cooperate for the next book.

ME:      Are you blackmailing me?

AMIE:  In a word – yes.

ME:      But …

AMIE:  Start writing.

The first in the Amie series Amie an African Adventure is on SALE at $/£ 0.99  until Sunday 19th June when the price goes back up to $3.50, so grab it while its cheap.


Please re-blog this while the promo is on, Amie’s got a gun from somewhere and she’s pointing it at my head, at this range she won’t miss. The megalomaniac is insisting more people read about her and I’m terrified of guns. So please help save a terrified writer friend.

Amazon Lowers the Boom on Discount eBook Sites…

Is this now lowering our options for promo mailing lists?

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

My thanks to Author Susan M. Toy for letting me know about this article  from The Digital Reader Site:


When Amazon-owned Goodreads launched its discount ebook service last month, I wondered whether Amazon would find reasons to shut down its competition.

The first to go was Fussy Librarian, which went under the axe the week before Goodreads announced. At the time it looked like that was an isolated incident, but now it has been followed by two more sites, Pixel of Ink and eReaderIQ.

To read more, click on the link, or Logo below:

Amazon and Discount eBook Sites


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Editorial: Self-publishing > Traditional Publishing

Andrew Joyce

Bubble Cow

This article is reprinted with permission from Fred Johnson of

Hi everyone.

The school holidays are almost upon us, and I wish those of you with kids good luck. May your family holidays avoid disaster and may you never hear the dreaded “I’m bored!” It might be a good time to lock yourself away and work on that novel.

And when you finish it, go ahead and self-publish. That’s right, I’m not even beating around the bush any more. Self-publishing is the way forward, and big publishers know it. They’re scared. They’re trying to shut us down, man.

Okay, so they’re not actually trying to shut us down, but they are panicking over things like digital rights acquisitions and trying to keep the prices of eBooks up. Self-publishing is becoming more and more prominent each year. Self-published writers are starting to worm their way into the limelight and…

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Are you a reader / author who writes reviews?

Please read this if you read and review on Amazon.

Phoenix Rainez

Click on the links in this post for more important information.

Amazon appears to use your social media connections to detect “relationships” with other reviewers or sellers that might indicate manipulation of reviews. Unfortunately, this system is imperfect, and often flags innocent accounts and prevents them from writing any reviews for particular sellers/products. When this happens, you will get a message that you are blocked from writing a review because you have a relationship with a seller.
Go, RIGHT NOW, and double-check your Amazon account to make sure they’re not linked.
1. Go to

If either Facebook or Twitter is connected, click “Disconnect from Amazon”.

2. Now check periodically to make sure they stay disconnected! These accounts have a funny way of relinking themselves (for example, Amazon reveals that they can be linked “when you participate in certain promotions”) without you realizing…

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If you like a good, old fashioned adventure story along the lines of Wilbur smith, then why not try Amie an African Adventure while the price is low?

From 14th – 19th June  at $0.99  0r £0.99  the Big A permitting 🙂

Chosen by three authors as a recommended read at the end of last year and #18 in the best self published books of 2015.

When Amie arrives in Africa she’s not too happy, but when your husband’s work demands it – what choice did she have?

All goes well for a while and then civil war breaks out. Soon she is on the run and fighting for her life as she sets off across the African bush in a desperate attempt to survive.

With the immediate danger over, Amie shuffled into a sitting position. She was still not sure whether to approach the colonel, he had never shown any empathy towards her, but the decision was taken away when he turned his head and saw Amie. He walked over to her.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. That’s the second time I’ve been asked that thought Amie.

“I was in town, and the…. er….” what should she call them, soldiers, rebels? “There were explosions and I drove home but there was no one and I can’t find any of the other foreigners and then I was stopped in my car…”

  “They have all gone, left before the airport was closed.”

“My husband, Jonathon, did he get out, has he gone!” Amie felt frantic, was she the only foreigner left in Togodo?

“The evacuation was very efficient,” stated the colonel, “we know how to deal with these filthy rebels and we do not intend for them to hurt our foreign workers.”

The relief that swept through Amie was enormous. She was safe, the colonel would not let any harm come to her. He had enough sense and intelligence to realize it was not in the best interests of his country to murder foreign workers. It made sense he would get Amie repatriated as soon as possible, maybe by boat, if the airport was closed.

She took a deep breath and was just about to thank Colonel Mbanzi not only for saving her life, but for making sure she was safely out of the country, when he suddenly seemed to grow larger, fly off the ground and disappear.

I’m hallucinating was her first thought, but then she realized that from out in the darkness, someone had aimed a weapon and annihilated her rescuer. Amie watched, as if in some horror film, bits of what had once been Colonel Mbanzi flew in all directions. She slithered backwards, keening softly to herself. This couldn’t be happening to her. She was going mad and so was the rest of the world.

Please can you share and re-blog this for me? There’s a big wide world out there and we have no idea how far our messages go.