TO REVIEW OR NOT TO REVIEW

Once upon a time many moons ago I scribbled all sorts of things for a living. I wrote for radio and television, magazines, my newspaper column, brochures, leaflets, mayoral speeches, company reports, promotions, advertisements etc. etc. etc. you get the picture?

st bernardOne learned to be flexible earning enough to feed, house and clothe two children, a husband, a St Bernard and the family who lived out the back and took care of the house and garden.

Of course I read books too. I would rush to the local library at least once a week and emerge balancing a tower of books which I devoured at every spare moment – in the usual places – the bathroom, in bed, waiting for a parking place, during meal times. Then I returned the books and collected the next small truckload and so it went on.

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Did I review them?

Did I what? What are you talking about?

Now, I write books and I know that every review, even a one star, is like gold dust. I have reviewed every book I’ve read, even those by really famous, well-known authors who really don’t need my extra offering among all the thousands they already have. In total I rose to the dizzy ranks of #7,000+ in the reviewer status, until the Big A got twitchy.

So I did this massive survey and asked DH (Dear Husband) if he left reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. He’s a voracious reader.

“Do you write reviews and post them on Amazon?”

“Only if the book is really bad and I want to let them know exactly what I thought of it. And what’s Goodreads?”

“I’ll explain later. So, you only write bad reviews?”

“Yes.”

“Well isn’t that a bit mean? If you really enjoyed a book isn’t it nice to say so?”

“I tried to give you a review as your books aren’t bad (that’s high praise from DH), but Amazon wouldn’t let me.”

“Yes I know all about that, we’re too closely related.”

“We might just as well be on different planets when you’re writing. It’s like living on my own.”planets

(Hastily) “Let’s not go into that right now. Maybe you could start writing nice reviews, especially those books I’ve recommended?”

“I don’t have time.”

“Nonsense! We’re retired, at least you are. I’m still working just as many hours. So why don’t you have time?”

“I’ve more books to read. Now shush I’ve got to an exciting bit.”

I gave up. A few other people I asked said they didn’t know what to say in a book review, and they didn’t bother to look at reviews anyway before buying a book – they only consulted for hotels and tour companies.

I tried, honestly I tried, but I’ve got the picture that only those avid readers who chat with authors on Facebook and Twitter bother to leave reviews and they are the ones targeted by ‘you know who’ who are then accused of violating the terms and conditions and have their reviews taken down. They even refused to let me review an author who has been dead for over 20 years! I promise you we are not in daily contact, nor did I meet her or write to her when she was alive. But who am I to question one of the biggest corporations in the world?

I’ve rambled on a bit, so we’re back up the tower in KL next week and I’ll pick on the nonsense history. But the breaking news is that soon, Amie African Adventure should be available in audio, and all three Amie books have been translated into Spanish and should be on sale too. Amie African Adventure in English is still at the introductory price of only $/£0.99 so you can get to meet her for almost nothing!  myBook.to/Amie1

 

I’ve also completed draft one of Amie 4, but I have no title for it yet. Hopefully it will be out in July.

You can find them all at  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/

A reminder about my monthly newsletter here is the sign up link http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

This month meet authors Vered Ehsani, Christoph Fischer, Max Power with Rod Craig in the Reader’s Corner.

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The free Amie back story follows Sam and Gerry, still at the airport 24 hours after their plane took off and Ben is about to undergo his initiation into manhood. I continue the  saga of the court case, possibly the first time in history where a character has sued her author for cruelty and hardship, in Amie v Lucinda E Clarke. There are also competitions and bundles of free books to win every now and again.

Have a great week and take care.

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.

PLEASE RE-BLOG, PLEASE.

Please will you re-blog this post for me? Yes, I know you’ve not read it yet, but I really, really want to get the word out.

In January I plan to start a new monthly newsletter which will contain the back story to Amie before she went to Africa and the lives of other characters in the trilogy. The first one recounts a major event in Ben’s life which I think you will find both fascinating and interesting. This will only ever appear in my newsletter and never be posted anywhere else.

There will also be early notice of price drops and promos and I will feature and promote books by other authors – so, if you’d like to be included, please contact me.

Most important of all, I will be giving you updates on the full story of the court case as Amie sues me with the intention of preventing me from writing about her any further. Plus she is asking for damages for what I have put her through already. She intends to have all Amie books withdrawn from the marketplace. (Unknown to her, I’m currently writing book 4, and do I have plans for her! Even I feel a little sorry for her sometimes.)courtroom2

Competitions and chances to win free books will also be a feature several times a year, but I will not overburden your inbox as I only plan to send out 12 issues annually.

I posted news of this on Facebook and one blog follower said she was already signed up as she received notification of my blogs in her inbox. WordPress does not give me your email addresses when you follow. They do all that stuff somewhere in some faceless building somewhere in the United States – or maybe some robot algorhythmically programmed robot does it – so I have no idea how to contact you.

So, to take advantage of this exciting opportunity (who am I kidding?)  you can either pm me on my FB page, or drop me a ‘yes’ to lucindaeclarke@gmail.com. I do hope you will.

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I’m posting the link to the opening of Amie African Adventure – book 1 with news that the audio book should be ready by the beginning of February – so exciting!

Another piece of news is that Amie is going to have a brand new cover – more in line with the third in the series. I am sad in many ways as I love her original cover, but I need to tell people what to expect in the story. One poor reader bought it thinking it was a cosy tourist trip to Africa and got quite a shock.

A last thought. If you haven’t an idea what to buy for a particular person this Christmas, the trilogy in paperback might be suitable? Ignore Amazon’s pronouncement that it’s not available – no ideFeatured Image -- 4372a why they put that up – all three books are for sale.

I’m scribbling this quickly while DH is out buying more Christmas lights. As we unpacked them we remembered he sniffed loudly and asked me last year what I was cooking, it smelt appetizing. “Nothing,” I told him. It was the lights. One string was about to burst into flames and burn the house down. Then I must decorate the tree, won’t take long, it’s only 80 cm high!!

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Uh, yeah you can tell tree decorating does not come high on my skills list either!! Well I tried.

Till next week, when I’m back in the Far East, at least here on the blog. Happy shopping.

 

THE BIG TRIP FURTHER ON

Sadly I waved goodbye to the ellies, counting my fingers and toes in the car on the way down the hill to make sure I wasn’t a missing a bit. (Yes, I know elephants are vegetarian). We’d heard some horrific stories about the bad treatment some of them had suffered at the hands of their owners and one poor beast was hobbling around on three legs after stepping on a landmine. I was, however, only suffering from a sore toe. I’d watched the handlers smashing those large watermelons on the ground before feeding them to the elephants. That looks easy I thought what fun, and tried it as well – result, a bruised foot. I guess it takes practice and some spare feet.

We returned to our very posh hotel in Chiang Mai through the rush hour traffic which was quite horrendous

and the largest suite we’d stayed in for a long time. We could have hired a courier to pass messages from one end to the other. Don’t you just love the condoms on offer?

Just across the road we investigated this market with all kinds of interesting food on sale.

But wimpishly, we saw an Irish tavern and treated ourselves to some very European steak and potatoes, which was a change from the rice and vegetable diet more typical of the Far East.

Some beautiful, tall women came and greeted us, gorgeously dressed. I could have kicked myself later when DGH explained (in rather pompous tones I thought) they were examples of the transvestites who are common in the city. I didn’t take pictures! They hovered for a while and perhaps they were hoping to earn a few dollars by posing for the diners. I think we were the only diners there who weren’t local residents.

Now William probably didn’t notice the industrial revolution. He was too busy in his palace siring 10 illegitimate children. He attempted to sire at least 1 legitimate heir, but that didn’t work out too well. Mind, by the time he became king at the age of 64, he was probably getting a bit past it. Two of his children born on the wrong side of the blanket had died. He had them all with his mistress an actress (still a rather scandalous occupation in those days) Dorothea Jordan (born Dora Bland) with whom he lived with for twenty years.

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I get a hint here that he wasn’t terribly fond of his wife. To begin with it was an arranged marriage to begat an heir, and even before the union William had written to his eldest son, “She is doomed, poor dear innocent young creature, to be my wife.”

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I think she must have been quite easy going to accept the marriage – it came with a hefty sum of money from parliament but since William was 27 years older than her, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen spent many happy hours in Marks and Spencers spending most of it. On good days she popped into Harrods, especially at sale time.

Have a great week, a safe Halloween and don’t forget my new book comes out on Thursday the 3rd in the Amie series – Stolen Future, which is on pre-order right now.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4  But another blog about that nearer the time.

amie-3-3d

NEW BOOK DUE OUT

This is the extra blog I threatened you with – it’s the cover reveal for my new book out soon.

It’s the third in the Amie series, remember her? She left – no she was dragged out of – England by her husband Jonathon to go and live in Africa. In Amie an African Adventure.

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(I would like to add here that Amie book 1 is out in Spanish and very soon will be available in Italian). Amie settles into her new life but then comes to the unwelcome attention of a Colonel in the army who forces her to do something that she really doesn’t want to do (I’m trying not to give too much away here). Then civil war breaks out, and soon she is fighting for her life. She changes from being a naive, indecisive drip to being a brave, indecisive woman.

I am really thrilled she has an Honourable Award in Fiction – Action in the Reader’s Favorite Awards 2016. She was also the winner of the Adventure category in the Pinnacle Awards 2016 and got a bronze in Popular Fiction –Adventure genre in the Global eBook Awards 2016.

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In book 2 Amie goes off in search of the foster child she lost during the civil war. She doesn’t realize that this will bring her up against an fanatical terrorist organization with international connections. She needs all the skills she’s learned to survive – but she ignores the witch doctor’s advice and suffers the consequences in Amie and the Child of Africa.

 

Book 3  Amie, Stolen Future sees Amie and her husband returning to Africa, but the terrorists have neither forgiven nor forgotten and they are determined to take their revenge. Amie is left powerless and forced into a life she never expected. She has a new employer, forced to do what they ask of her. She has become a mature, still a little indecisive, woman but danger follows her everywhere. Her future has been stolen and once again she struggles to survive not knowing who she can trust.

My editor tells me this is the best Amie book yet, in fact she’s very, very enthusiastic about it – I hope readers will like it as much.

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Release date, hopefully early November in both paperback and ebook.coming-soon-amie-3

If I can threaten  blackmail persuade you to sign up to my newsletter list, I am planning to release the first chapter to those on the list.  You can contact me on lucindaeclarke@gmail.com and I’ll gladly add your address.

Elephant Dentistry and Amsterdam

If you read this blog regularly you may remember that every time we take a holiday something goes wrong. And this time was no different except it all happened before we even left home. When I go away I make a big production out of it, it’s all part of the fun. The house has to be squeaky clean, the washing up to date and I’m packed hours and hours before we leave – from my pre-made list of course.

This time was no exception, and to keep the kitchen nice and clean we set out for our favourite pasta place in the village.  IT HAD GONE!! We stared dumbfounded at the empty store till a kind man told us it had moved to the next small town. Off we went but failed to find it, so back to our village, parked the car and went to eat somewhere else. An early night we agreed as we had to be up before dawn for the drive to the airport. Back to collect the car only to find it was locked in the underground parking garage – huge steel shutters between us and our transport. Another kind passerby suggested the police station might have a key. So back up 3 flights of steps and into the cop shop. They were sympathetic, but no they didn’t have a key, could we come back at 8am when the garage opened? No, we couldn’t we had a plane to catch. We pretended we were tourists and luckily I had my passport already packed in my bag. Mind, they could tell we weren’t local, not with my level of Spanish. Wait outside, they told us. So we sat on the steps and waited and waited until finally we were told to hurry back to the garage. There a friendly cop was playing with the metal doors as they shot up and down. Having taken our details in the office DH was escorted to the car and he was able to drive out.

We landed in Amsterdam and being me I had to see everything. First it was the Royal Palace

Then a daylight cruise on the canals so we could see where we were going. Then a visit to the Sex Museum.

A stroll through the Red Light District.

The next day we made for the Rijksmuseum to see the Night Watch.

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Whoops wrong pic

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Then to the diamond museum where we bought nothing at all of course – and on to the Van Gough Museum with a special exhibition about his madness – oh so many of us writers have exactly the same frustrations don’t we? I felt a real affinity with him.

And here I am on my birthday in the middle of a fountain.

The Heineken Brewery was next, even though I don’t like beer.

A church with an impressive organ and after dinner a night cruise on the canals. Then a walk through the Red Light District, visiting the Museum of Prostitution, and I have to hand it to Amsterdam, it’s regulated, open, honest and treated just like any other business. No pics here of course, but the girls looked absolutely beautiful. Millions of story lines flew round my head – why were they here and not starring in Hollywood?

Next day we visited the Jewish Historical museum and the Museum of Resistance which was amazing – but a little uncomfortable as it all happened not too long before I was born. Then the Red Light District. However, I must explain that our hotel was on the fringes, and as we are a little old for the nightclubs, the coffee bars in the area are humming late into the night.

Finally on our last morning we had a meet up with a FB friend Val Poore and that was magic. We have so much in common and we’ll be getting together again very soon. DH didn’t nod off either as we chattered about books and books and books and previous lives.

And the elephant dentistry? We found the perfect picture for the cover of Amie 3. She meets a lone bull who is frantically looking for a female to love, so he’s unpredictable and dangerous. Only problem with the pic is this ellie only had half a tusk. So we sent him off back to South Africa where my clever photographic friend worked Photoshop magic and gave him a smart new pair. I decided to stop at that.

Finally, thank you to all the people who sent kind birthday wishes, I’ve tried to thank everyone personally, but if I missed some, please forgive me.

DH AND AMIE 3

Did you miss me last week? No, I thought not. Well for the last seven days I decided to get my head down and go over Amie 3 once again thoroughly before sending her off to my editor. I’d sent a very early draft through to DH and he found a few things wrong (of course he would).

So, come the morning we sit down together and I steel myself to hear the worst.

ME:    Well you can’t complain this time that she never goes off for a pee. She spends half her time in this book behind one bush or another. Her plumbing system is in full working order.

DH:    OK I noticed that but there are still no sex scenes.

ME:    I’m not sure my readers are looking for gratuitous sex, and I don’t use many swear words either.

DH:    I’m not talking bondage and erotica here but you’ve just told me she’s a healthy young woman. She has needs. (Every man’s dream right?)

ME:    You know I find sex scenes a little tricky. It must be the most undignified way to behave sober there is. And how can I possibly ever describe it better than millions before me? He whips his clothes off, she rips her clothes off and they wriggle around for a while praying she won’t get pregnant.

DH:    I still think you’re cutting it too short you could go into a little more detail. Right, what about this boring bit in the middle?

ME:    Boring? And what bit would that be? I can’t have her racing about on every page, it’s not natural surely. Fast paced is one thing, frenetic is another. Look we have her (spoiler) and then she takes refuge in (spoiler) and isn’t this bit (spoiler) exciting?

DH:    She’s crying again.

ME:    Well I’d cry if I saw (spoiler).

DH:    You might, but then you’re not superwoman.

ME:    Thanks.

DH:    She’s a strong heroine, and I think you’re basing her too much on yourself.

ME:    What! Hardly!

DH:    Well no, not the brave stuff, that’s not you, but she’s still snivelling an awful lot, toughen her up.

ME:    But she’s survived so far, that makes her tough. She’s not an Olympic weight lifter or a body builder. I want my readers to like her and feel for her. If she’s too tough they won’t relate to her will they? If you had your way she’d be dressed in black leather with boots and a whip!

DH:    Now that’s an idea.

ME:    Noooooo!

DH:    You want to sell to both men and women right?

ME:    Yes.

DH:    Then make her strong, not wet and drippy.

ME:    Amie won’t appreciate you saying that.

STRANGE LOOK FROM DH, HE MOVES A LITTLE FURTHER AWAY ROUND THE TABLE.

ME:    It’s a writer’s thing our characters live in our minds they are real people.

DH:    There’s not enough detail, all these guns for example. What size calibre are they?

ME:    Ah, now I did lots of research on the net and I did play with a gun once and those cartridge thingies…

DH:    (RAISES EYEBROWS) Magazines?

ME:    Yes those things it’s really hard to load the bullets into them and they hurt my fingers. I had a couple of dates with the policeman in Durban and he let me play with his.

DH:    (EYEBROWS FURTHER UP) His what?

ME:    His gun! I must have had a premonition I would need that experience one day so I asked him to show me where the bullets went and how to load them. It took me over an hour to get all six slotted in against that spring.

DH:    Figures. Good thing you weren’t in a shoot out at the time. Now Amie has a car in Durban, what kind?

ME:    Does it matter?

DH:    Of course it does, people want to know that.

ME:    (MUTTERING) If you insist, I’ll give her a Corolla, they make assemble those in Durban.

DH:    And a 737 will never get from London to Johannesburg.

ME:    Good point, I’ll up that to a 747. So is it as good as the other two? Did it hold your attention? Did you find it exciting?

DH:    I read it all the way through didn’t I?

(DH GETS UP TO MAKE COFFEE.)

Well at least I had a nice email from my editor this morning and she says it’s the best thing I’ve written so far (she’s terribly good at the sugar coating stuff), but of course there is lots of work to be done, including my tautologies – I really must look that up, I wonder what they are?

On the brighter side, Amie 1 an African Adventure got a Bronze in the Global E Book awards in popular fiction, so that cheered me up.

Have a great week.