ALMOST THE END OF BIG TRIP GUIDED TOUR – ON AND ON WITH VICTORIA

There was one more temple complex to visit, Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (don’t worry I can’t pronounce these names properly either). This was acres and acres of ruins stretching almost as far as the eye can see.

THE PROMO BIT (only because I’m told ‘it’s the right thing to do’)

Just in case you’ve not come across my Amie series – she’s the young housewife I take out of England and dump in Africa and then civil war breaks out. She has a terrible time and then the saga continues in books 2 & 3. I am currently writing book 4, it’s a wonder she’s survived this long. 🙂  This is the link for book 1. http://amzn.to/2ieb5zo

And to be extra helpful, this is what they look like. Thanks to Daz Smith for the covers and to Gabi Plumm for making them readable 🙂

THE HISTORY RUBBISH

You must have heard by now that Victoria was soppy over Albert, so soppy that she wanted to name all their children either Albert or Albertina until it was pointed out to her that they would get all their banks accounts and post and credit cards muddled up if they all had the same name.

A good example was the day Victoria turned 25, (she had already been on the throne for 7 years) and she received a portrait of himself from Albert with a group of angels in the background, and she was quite thrilled. (The day DH gives me something like that he’s out the door!)

TRY TO IMAGINE THE NAUSEOUS PICTURE HERE

Victoria was jealous of any time Albert spent with the children. Albert, or Bertie the eldest boy, wasn’t making much progress and the royal couple noticed with horror that he was everything his father was not, – charming, easy with the opposite sex and eloquent with a gay, (no, not that sort of gay) sunny nature. As they saw it, he was well on the road to ruin.

BERTIE SAILOR OUTFIT

 

But his greatest sin was one his mother could never forgive him for – next week, or maybe the week after if I change my mind.

BREAKING NEWS

Those of you who have put up with my inane / insane ramblings over the last few months may remember that I hate giving books away for free. It’s not that I’m mean, but when I think of the blood, sweat and tears, the hours of labour, not to mention the cost of editing and the cover design, it’s hard to hand it over for nothing, even though, like many other authors I’m not in it just for the money.

So, at the beginning of this year I decided that if at all possible I’d not give books away – free chapters yes, but not the whole book. Whether I can keep to this remains to be seen.

TLP HIGHER RES

This is all leading up to my news that I am reducing the price of Truth, Lies and Propaganda book 1 to $/£0.99 for five days only.

To tempt you to download it for that ridiculous price, here is an extract:

It’s rare that you get away with trying to cut corners – someone somewhere will always notice – and we fell into this trap in a big way.

We were on another shoot for Durban Tourism. This time they were quite specific about what they wanted. Not just the usual sea, sun and sand, they explained, this is more for those looking for adventure.

“We need to show the different kinds of things the visitors can do, active things.”

“Fine,” we said, “what do you suggest?” Ah, that set them thinking, but eventually they came up with an answer. One of those wildly, adventurous, active things they wanted was fishing in the rock pools off the shoreline.

Now personally I wouldn’t go on holiday to catch fish in rock pools, especially things with claws and teeth, but I guess they knew what they were talking about and knew what normal people really liked to do on holiday. Who was I to question them?  crayfish

This was a larger than normal budget shoot, it must have been for a really big, important expo. We could have real, live models from the modelling agency and, much to my horror, the clients said they wanted real, live fish as well!

I’d planned to stock up on fish props from the local toy shop, or if they didn’t stock plastic crayfish, (I had my doubts about that), at worst I would change that to the ‘ocean fresh’ counter at my local supermarket. But now that wasn’t going to work either if they wanted them alive. Carl knew of a couple in his favourite fish restaurant, but when he went to enquire about them, unfortunately they’d been eaten the night before.

That was plan A and B up the creek, so we moved on to plan C. I would pop down as the fishing boats came in the following morning and purchase a couple of live crayfish from them. No, correction – I would get someone else to go down and buy the creatures, my bravery has its limits.

Plan C wasn’t going to work either. Crayfish were not in season and were nowhere to be found in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Natal. Could we think of a plan D?

Carl was a very keen fisherman and he came up with the bright idea of bringing some crayfish up from Cape Town. He picked up the phone.

On day one of the shoot, we met up with the models at a very smart, colonial hotel just north of Durban. They looked young and absolutely gorgeous, so understandably, I hated them on sight.

Next came Carl, straight from the airport, complete with a large box filled with ice and three crayfish in the back of his SUV. I found it hard to believe they had survived the trip still alive, but I was not about to question their health.

We lugged the camera gear, plus the box of crayfish, through the hotel, past the swimming pool and down to the rocks below. We were joined by the male model, I think he was called Sam, he was the one who would be doing the fishing.

Carl kept the fish in the box until he was ready to shoot the scene, and then slid them into the large, enclosed rock pool. He was not going to show they were in a confined space, but use creative camera angles to suggest they had access to open water and so on. I’m sure you get the picture. We did too.

The crayfish took to the water with glee, and then must have been thoroughly cheesed off when they were immediately recaptured by the male model, muscles rippling in the wind, as he suddenly leapt out of the water holding up one in each hand. You’d think the silly creatures would have learned their lesson the first time round. I could add here that I observed from a very safe distance, just in case they escaped and came my way.

Eventually we got the whole programme in the can (I’m using a little more in-house language speak here) and after the edit, the clients viewed it and were very happy. The clients were very happy for two whole days, until they received a call from a rather irate gentleman, obviously an important crayfish expert, who demanded to know why we were trying to pass off Cape Town crayfish as swimming off the coast of Durban. Didn’t we know that further south the crayfish were bright pink and the pale coloured ones lived near our shores? Or was it the other way round?

Frankly no, we didn’t. Nor apparently did our clients from the Tourism Board. I can’t remember what happened next, but we were in disgrace after that episode. It was no good us whinging about the huge number of awards we had won, or how many other happy clients we could mention. We had got it wrong this time.

umhlanga beachfront

Now as 2017 is the year I learn to market, apparently I need to tell you why you must buy my book and how you can’t live without it.

It’s a great book.

It will make you laugh and gasp out loud.

It will tell you stuff about Africa you didn’t know.

It will tell you what goes on behind the video cameras and how the ‘truth’ is manipulated.

It’s a good read.

It won’t be this cheap again for a long time.

You will enjoy it.

Amazon.com  4.8 on 41 reviews   4.7 on 35 reviews on Amazon.co.uk

And to be extra helpful, here are all the links.

http://amzn.to/2ihtYNf

B& N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/truth+Lies+and+Propaganda    

Apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/truth-lies-and-propaganda/id1146681503

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/truth-lies-and-propaganda

Scribd. https://www.scribd.com/book/321929081/Truth-Lies-and-Propaganda

Inktera http://www.inktera.com/store/title/78827da8-7700-48f0-b070-dbb4f255e162

Did I do all that right? Bear with me, I’m learning.  All comments from you proper marketing people gratefully received!

PLEASE DON’T BE MY FRIEND

The other day I posted the following on my Facebook Timeline.

Dear Prospective Face Book Friend, I do understand that you may be looking for pen pals and maybe even a romantic connection, especially if you are posted abroad in a war zone. However, despite this being a public page, I use it to chat to my reader and writer friends and exchange hints, reviews, and other marketing information. So it’s probably not the kind of page you are looking for – besides, I’m a happily married grandmother, who’s rapidly losing the wrinkle war. I hate to decline friends, so I hope you’ll understand and not make a friend request.

Yes, I know I come across as hard, overbearing and pretty unpleasant, but I’m really a softie inside and I don’t like to refuse a friendship, my page is public after all. The problem is, I don’t like to be rude or offend, but then (like many of us) I get bombarded with virtual roses and bottles of drink and even more flowery comments.

I was also hoping my post would deter the ones from humans who, deep down, may not be genuinely interested in me and my books. For example I had one who asked me what I was wearing. Ah, I thought, s/he was curious about writers and their habits, so I told it (with a name like Alex it wasn’t easy to tell). I’m sitting here I wrote in my usual creative gear, IMG_0726my fluffy red and white pyjamas liberally adorned with red reindeer and Xmas trees (I bought them around Christmas time) under my red furry dressing gown with the rabbit on the pocket, a pair of free airline socks and my favourite reindeer slippers. (They may be mooses, I’m not quite sure).

I was then treated to a picture of my new friend. S/he wasn’t wearing very much at all and what s/he was wearing defied comprehension.  DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!

So with the very best intentions, I hoped my post would not subject me to such heart-stopping shocks, (it’s not good to call the paramedics in too often), this post will do the trick I thought.

Sure enough a few minutes later I got a friend request from a dear little granny living in France. She looked so cute and cuddly, grey wavy hair, delightful smile, pretty dress. Great, I thought another fan friend who has heard about my brilliant books and can’t wait to read them, she might even buy one, or two, or three, or four. I cheerfully pressed accept and said how happy I was to connect with her.

In just a couple of minutes she private messaged me, telling me how thrilled she was to be my friend. She lives in France, and she was dying of cancer. How sad I thought, my fingers were poised to send her virtual hugs, hearts and kisses.  She was a widow previously married to an English entrepreneur, (I hadn’t noticed at this point she had a German surname) and he had been killed in a car crash with their only daughter. I reached for my hanky

IMG_0727

and upped my mental reply to include a bunch of virtual roses (I was trying to decide if a bottle of plonk would be suitable as well in this instance). She continued by telling me she had 10.5 million Euro in the bank and if I promised to donate it to various charities….I could keep 20% for myself.

I groaned. Yes, it’s what we called in South Africa a 411 letter – they want your name, bank account number, the date you stopped being breast fed, your inside leg measurement and all your pin numbers.

What a disappointment. Off I go to Facebook to do the blocking and reporting thing – DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!  But FB do send you a nice apology don’t they – saying they’re sorry you’ve been subjected to this.

They can’t still be catching people out with this scam surely? Did s/he think I was born yesterday? Well maybe looking at my avatar…?

Now the big question of course is, she’s given me her private email address, so do you think I can add it to my Mailchimp list so she’ll get my monthly newsletter? I’m a bit worried she might unsubscribe.

You can subscribe if you like http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

THE BIG TRIP AND THAT WOMAN – AGAIN!

Well last week’s blog raised a lot of interest and a warm, fuzzy feeling among a lot of writers. I can only say I feel very privileged to be connected to so many clever and creative writers and readers across the world. And, in case you were wondering, it was written to make you laugh about the dreaded marketing monster we all face.  However, this week I’m back on the Big Trip, and a bit more about that dreadful woman (apologies to all royals).

TRAVEL BIT

Now, since writing about the Big trip I’ve been following several other travel blogs and I am so impressed with the meticulous note taking and careful recording. I did keep a small diary, and I do have the itinerary, but it was a year ago now and it’s all getting a big fuzzy (mind I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday!).  In the past I’ve written detailed information, but I missed a lot as I scribbled away – similar to the old days when we travelled and I had my head stuck in a map and saw nothing! Give the guy who invented the GPS a Nobel prize, he deserves it.

We spent several hours at the Bang-Pa Summer Palace and I wanted to share these pictures of this structure in the complex which was all in red.

I was constantly asking the guide questions, but I’m afraid I didn’t get much info from him as to why this building was so different from the others.

IMG_4074

 

 

ADVERTISING BIT

If you would like to receive my monthly newsletter just click on this link, books, interviews, back stories, special offers and more. http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf  amie-back-story-v2-1

 

 

HISTORICAL BIT

Yet again I have to bow my head in shame at the erudite, fascinating well-researched historical articles I read. They are full of interesting facts and information. Well you won’t get any of that here. If you believe a word of any of this, I would be amazed.

Now you may not agree with me that Victoria was a pain in the **** but of course she was there for a very long time, up there on the throne I mean and lots of things happened in the 63 years. She was kept busy a lot of the time being pregnant and having all nine of her children, so Albert and she must have ‘done it’ nine times! In 1853 she had her eighth child Leopold using chloroform to help with the pain. Members of the (all male) clergy were not pleased, they said it was against Biblical teaching, they even said that when having a baby a woman was supposed to suffer. Oh yes? How many of them had had babies? Let them try it just once, with or without chloroform!

VIC FAMILY 1846

Now because so many of the royals had led debauched lives in the past, Victoria wanted to be an example to all the poor, ignorant people who were not kings or queens and show them all how to behave. That’s why she made her family pose for pictures like this. How they kept the children still that long for the painter I’ll never know. Good old Victorian discipline I guess.

PS  I am planning on blogging a second time each week featuring writers and their books. If you would like to be included, just drop me an email, or pm me on my Facebook page.

 

 

 

AM I WASTING MY TIME?

I have come to the following conclusion.

Not all books that hit the charts are good.

A lot of excellent books never sell.

You can become a NYT bestseller by targeting carefully and working the system.

What is the difference?

Marketing – which equals getting your book/s out there and VISIBLE, really  VISIBLE.

Now before you read any further don’t think for a moment that I am whining. I applaud and admire those people who have the marketing skill. I may or may not write good books, depending on your point of view (you can see them below!) but I ain’t got the marketing skill, nor do I have the money to pay some person or organisation to do it for me. I cannot even railroad DH into doing any of it either. (you may say aaaah here)

I receive dozens of blogs each week telling me how only Facebook ads work, no, wait, it’s Amazon adds that do the trick.

Twitter – tweet every fifteen minutes and you’ll hit the best sellers. Yeah right, but how do you get people to follow you and who is going to pay for the alarm clock to wake you through the night to send those tweets every quarter of an hour? Oh, there are automatic schedulers? Great, they cost? Ah!

amie-series-5-march-2017

Book promos, “you can’t make sales unless you get your book out there in front of the millions on our mail list and for today only we are offering a 1% discount” – yeah, right!!  Some good, some bad. But then author X sold hundreds on Promo A and when it came to your turn, you scraped in ten. Hmmm.

Book Bub is the only one you make any money on, you do have a spare $600 don’t you? – in the hope your one free book will entice readers to buy the rest of the series. (Do bear in mind your average review rating will go down, it’s a no holds barred audience out there who will download and cheerfully give you a 1 * rating). Is it only writers who will beg a company to accept the equivalent of half a month’s wages to allow BB to include your free book on their list on one particular day only?

salary-slips

List your books on every site you can find, blast the FB groups. Whoops, they dropped down the page way out of sight in seconds didn’t they?

No! Only Pinterest will bring in the sales – widen your audience. Try all the other social media as well and do linger to chat, make friends, what else would you do with your time but write more books?

Let’s have a swap, I’ll promote your book if you’ll promote mine – could work, but then her fans only read vampire stories and yours are sweet Christian romances.

Throw an online party, especially when you have a pre-order up, get hundreds involved – give away free books, bags, pens, bookmarks, t-shirts, shopping bags, any swag will do, don’t even think about the cost of posting, why spoil it?

pens

Pay for ‘how to’ books, or cough up fees to experts who did it and can let you into the secret of their success (note, theirs, not yours).

Reviews, you can’t sell books or get promos without reviews, dozens and dozens and dozens of them!! Go out, find people who don’t know you, are not friends, probably don’t read and browbeat them into scribbling a few lines in the right places telling the world how good your books are. Alternatively, join a review group, read lots of books you would never, ever have checked out of your local library, slobber over them, or, you can give yours away for free to strangers who may or not review once they have their paws on your precious manuscript.

Competitions enter as many as you can find on google, it’s only after you realize a) how expensive they are b) most of them are listed in the Watchdog site as decidedly dodgy c) cough up extra money for the certificate and the stickers d) fight them off for a year as they try to sell you promotional material, or embroil you in a popularity contest making you beg and plead with all your friends to vote for you – a good, bad or indifferent book doesn’t even feature here. But the stickers look great and there is a tremendous sense of satisfaction – unless it turns all your other now ex-writer friends green with envy.

Media! That’s the way to go – get on radio, even better try the TV (forget Oprah that costs a fortune and chances are minimal unless you are best friends with the producer). OK, come down to earth and try the local press, fabulous spread for the cost of a book, wait for sales to hit the heights. They didn’t? Oh. After the radio show then? Was anyone listening?

Get a #1 bestseller sticker. Oh, you got one? How long ago? And now? Yes I know, blink and they’ve gone, and now you’re sliding back down the rankings. Shame.

A web site, Oh My God you don’t have a web site, you need one now! You can’t sell books without a web site. It’s really easy, you can do it yourself. Oh, where are the 3D graphics and the swirling psychedelic images? You must to buy this graphics package, and it will only take six months to crack it.

Blog, blog and then blog some more – only you mustn’t mention your book too often, make friends first and then casually, after a couple of years, drop into the conversation one day that you have written a book or two, or three, or four, or five.

Build your own mailing list, the perfect and only answer. Send out begging tweets and FB posts please sign up here is the link (http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf) yes that’s mine and I’m begging and grovelling in the hope you will sign up (why am I the only one in the group with less than 20K followers who would pay for a bus ticket those other authors have scribbled on.) Ah, problems with your mail provider, you didn’t get subscribers to sign in fifty times and send in a pint of blood? Ah, got cut off? Try upgrading, it doesn’t cost all that much.

By now you have lost all sense of decorum – rather like the change between your first and last maternity appointment – “it’s natural, normal and every day, so stop being such a wuss, take your clothes off!” You have morphed from a shy, reserved, quiet writer into a loud mouthed, pushy virago swallowing bucketfuls of Prozac in your desperation to make your books visible. They never warned you about that did they?

pills

A final word – before you press that button to publish, order in the Prozac, Valium or anti-depressant of your choice and wait for the nervous breakdown.

I’ve tried all of these. What has worked for you? Has anything shot you up next to the great scribes? Please let me know.

And while I’m at it, here are my books –

new-amie-i-with-medals-thumbnailchild-of-africa-new-cover-front-75dpiamie-3-coveruae-with-5-star-review-medaltlp-front-cover-titlemtlp-cover-v4-small-pic3woe-ver9-1-silver-award-front-cover-75dpi-jpg-small-for-kindle

and my web site of course http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

 

So You Want To Be A Writer? – A Guest Post by Lucinda E. Clarke

My thanks to Kevin for inviting me to guest post 🙂

newauthoronline

Many thanks to Lucinda E. Clarke for the below guest post.

You can visit Lucinda’s website HERE.

SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER?

Asked that question when I was five and my answer was ‘Yes’ – asked again at school leaving and the answer was still ‘Yes.’ But you know how it is, life gets in the way and I took the ‘family approved’ route and became a teacher. Five countries and almost two decades later, I fell into writing almost by accident and was commissioned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation to write for radio. This led to scripting for television, then major corporate companies, government departments, and all points in between. From 1985 until 2008 I earned my living by writing, producing and directing videos and broadcast programmes.

I was a writer for hire. On Monday I would be scribbling for an international food company…

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SUMMER PALACE AYUTTHAYA THAILAND

I thought the summer palace was beautiful. Not imposing in the style of Versailles, or Buckingham Palace, much simpler. I could imagine a royal family here living more down to earth lives with only a small retinue.

We are allowed inside, but no photographs permitted, except in this small structure on the water – how I would have loved to have that as a writing area.

VICTORIAN ENGLAND

A little about this age as Victoria’s reign was such a long one, and there were major changes in Britain. For example, another interesting thing to happen during her time was the invention of the spinning jenny, otherwise known as the low paid female factory worker.

spinning-jenny

Unfair laws in Britain at that time said it was forbidden to chain workers to their benches…

nike-factories

.. but with big profits in mind, the colonials of that time exported the idea and set up the Nike factories in the far east using child labour at slave rates.

Next week a little about the 9 children who survived Victoria – just.