The Big Trip was nearly over and even though I love our little rabbit hutch, I was still not ready to go home after 2 months. I adored the warm climate in Singapore and I was not looking forward to February in Spain.
For our last meal we went back to our roots and had huge steaks in the Black Angus Steakhouse – though to be honest, since we left South Africa I’ve yet to have as good a steak as we ate there. The steak was OK, the price was horrendous!
Then it was off to the airport – as smart, clean and efficient as the rest of the country and we were on our way home.
Our next trip would be seven months later, but that’s for next time.
I really have my doubts about this king, George V. I read that two months after the end of the war, the King’s youngest son, John died at the age of 13 after a lifetime of ill health.
George was informed of his death by Queen Mary, who wrote, “[John] had been a great anxiety to us for many years … The first break in the family circle is hard to bear but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us much.”
This poor little prince who suffered from epilepsy was hidden away from the public and ignored by the rest of the family. It was thought he was autistic and they didn’t want him to embarrass them in public. Prince Edward, who was eleven years older than his brother and had hardly known John, saw his death as “little more than a regrettable nuisance.”
That is so terribly sad.
I’ve decided this week I won’t tell you I write books and I’m trying to sell them and I want new readers to sign up for my newsletter http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf and buy my latest brilliant book on the last few days of its pre-order so I’m not going to put the link in for that either. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB
Now I’ll post general pictures of Singapore here as we spent a whole afternoon in the National Museum of Singapore and I don’t think you were allowed to take pictures in there. Honestly, these places have come a long way since I was dragged around them as a child.
We followed the exhibits which told the story of Singapore from pre-historic times to the present day. It’s amazing how quickly it was developed from a small area covered in jungle with a population living in poverty to one of the most successful and thriving countries in the world.
It was accomplished under a dictatorship, but then general elections were called and the People’s Action Party has won every election since 1959. The dominance of the ruling party, coupled with a low level of press freedom and restrictions on civil liberties and political rights has led to Singapore being classified by some as a semi-authoritarian regime.
I can’t comment on that, but comparing it to a communist country like Vietnam, the people here appeared happy and relaxed unlike those in Ho Chi Min City and, this is one regime where they have drastically improved the lives of their people as far as I could see – unlike most dictatorships which only enrich themselves.
HISTORY – A TRUE BIT (for a change)
Looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth yes? Well, it has come to light that it was not the British government who refused to give sanctuary to the Tsar of Russia and his family, the British Secret service was planning a rescue when the King himself went back on his promise to help them. Consequently, they were murdered in the most brutal fashion and not once did George V show any remorse. Thus, he is one of my least favourite kings and I suggest you don’t like him either.
And you can get it cheap at only $/£ 0.99 but the day after it will go up to $/£ 1,596.98 – so if you grab it now, it’s a huge bargain!
Once again Amie finds herself in hot water.
They told Amie it was a simple look, listen and report back mission, but from the beginning, everything went wrong. She is stalked across borders, the aid workers act suspiciously, she’s assaulted, and abandoned in a rural African hut miles from anywhere. What has happened to her partner Simon and can she trust the charismatic Frenchman who befriends her? The discovery of an ancient tribal tradition and a group of young children to rescue, test her skills to the limit. For the first time, she is prepared to kill to protect the innocent caught up in an international sex trade.
I had a dream last night, not as earth shattering as Martin Luther King,
I’m not that famous and important, and frankly although I was standing on a stage too, no one was listening to me. Sad isn’t it?
Now most of us might dream of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature and then being interviewed on a national Breakfast Show, simpering as the interviewer gushed about our brilliant book – right?
Well, my dream wasn’t like that. The stage morphed into a television studio and my interview went something like this:
INT: So, I understand Lucinda that hardly anyone bought your new book?
ME: Well a few did …
INT: Looking at this pre-order number on Amazon, well it’s a disgrace.
ME: I have at least 3 fans! I’m sure they ordered one and DH promised he would …
INT: I presume you told people about it?
ME: Oh yes, I twittered and popped it on a couple of Facebook pages, but we’re always told not to spam, ‘cos then people won’t like us. So it’s difficult …
INT: Other writers manage to do it. Look at JK Rowling and that 50 shades woman, they got thousands of sales.
ME: But they weren’t indies and they …
INT: Is that your excuse? Haven’t you studied those self-help books on how those authors sold 80,000 copies in 10 minutes?
ME: Yes, but most of those were self-help books, mostly about how to sell books!
INT: That’s an answer I’ve heard so many times before. Don’t you have a product page on Facebook?
ME; Oh yes, two, one for Amie and one for my memoirs, but I can’t seem to get them to behave like my author page and …
INT: And you sent copies to all the major newspapers with a press release?
ME: Well no I haven’t done that yet …
INT: And Princes Harry and William?
ME: You’ve got to be kidding! I don’t even know their postal addresses. But I did get a street team together – but it turns out they were mostly an older generation and not many were on social media.
INT: Have you told anyone what it’s about?
ME: Well that’s a bit difficult you see, as it’s a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain. I don’t want to give the storyline away as …
INT: Well I’ve heard of some reasons in my time but that one is the weirdest.
ME: I can tell them it’s set in Africa and Amie is a fully fledged, albeit a reluctant spy. There are lots of twists and turns and page-turning surprises. And, there is some love interest there too.
INT: Lots of steamy sex scenes?
ME: Er, no, I’m not good at writing sex scenes I get the giggles.
INT: Well there’s your answer then.
ME: That’s not fair! When did Jeffrey Archer or James Patterson insert steamy stuff into their books!
INT: They are household names and you’re not.
ME: You don’t have to keep reminding me. A few years ago I was …
INT: If there is anyone out there who is deranged enough to pick up Lucinda’s, uh, latest scribbling – what’s it called again?
ME: Amie: Cut for Life. It’s book 4 in the Amie in Africa adventure/thriller series.
At this point, I hold up the paperback book to the camera but it zooms away and focuses on the interviewer who smiles sweetly and says:
INT: Now our next interview is about a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain today. For whatever reasons, family honour, ancient tribal custom, or an attempt to keep women from straying from their husbands by destroying any enjoyment in sex. I’m talking about female circumcision and my next guest is …
At this point I am forcibly removed from my chair and booted out the back door while trying to shout out, ‘but that’s exactly what Amie faces in Cut for Life!’
And then I wake up.
Amie Cut for Life is up on pre-order on Amazon for the exorbitant price of $/£0.99 and will be released on September 30th – in case you’re inclined to go and have a look, or you could mention it to someone? I can but dream!! myBook.to/Amie4
I need counseling, I do. I was very reluctant to leave my work in South Africa and retire – circumstances dictated it and was the head over heart thing and we were sensible. When your domestic cleaner is shot on your front lawn and the perpetrator WALKS away having relieved her of less than £5 in cash and a bank card he had no pin for, we recognized the writing on the wall.
Well at first the novelty of sitting leisurely over breakfast began to pall and in a couple of months, I was bored out of my mind. We moved north, so that occupied me for a while and then I got bored again. I taught myself power point and gave a few historical lectures and talks and then I decided to write a book, well finish off a manuscript.
Why did I ever do that! Before I knew it I was on the merry-go-round to blogs and Facebook and Twitter and all the paraphernalia that entails. The upside I met a lot of great people and made some good friends and I was bowled over by how kind and friendly everyone was. I’ve been lucky so far in that I’ve only met a couple of cyber bullies and lost one dear friend I still miss terribly.
I sweated for weeks trying to work out how to use MailChimp, Bookfunnel and WordPress – again wonderful people came to my rescue.
I signed up for lots of blogs from experts on how to sell, how not to sell, how to build mailing lists, how not to alienate readers, give out free books, never give out free books, don’t spam, announce your book on every channel, people have to see it 7 times before they buy. Sign up for this course, you’ll hit the NYT list overnight – no that course is £800 down the drain, try this one for only £799.
I researched different promo sights, asked for advice and shared what I had learned with others. Give it all time to grow I was told. Time! At my age! By the time I let all this filter through to huge sales I’ll be pushing up the daisies – one of the reasons I have not even considered looking for an agent or publisher – and anyway I like being in control of my work. I wanted to cry when I saw what traditional publishers had chosen for the cover of my book.
The bottom line is I’m now working as hard as I ever did running my own production company and I don’t seem able to stop. Apart from reading and entertaining DH and a weeny bit of socializing, during which I’m groveling under the table checking my sales figures, puzzled as to why I’m met with blank stares when I bounce in and cry “I’ve got a BookBub!” – I can’t settle. If I’m not writing or pounding the keyboard I might do a little house cleaning, and watch DH as he dons his boots and gardening gloves to tend to our four window boxes. Most of the rubbish on television doesn’t grab me much either and I’m usually tweeting as the pictures on the screen flash past. The only time I concentrate is when they show foreign language films and I have to read the subtitles. If you took my lap top away I’d be prowling around the house, fingers wiggling searching for the keys, ideas crowding through my head screaming to get out.
I guess I’m just a lost cause and there’s no cure for it.
Guess I should mention that Amie 4 is up on pre-order
Anyway, having had a moan I feel a lot better now.
Oh, if you’re wondering why I’ve included totally inappropriate pictures of African wildlife – it’s because I’ve read three blogs this week warning about prosecutions for using uncopyrighted material, and these are my own pictures and I’m not planning on taking myself to court anytime soon.
I am feeling quite depressed at the moment. Why? Once upon a time, I thought I could write. Not as well as Tolstoy, or Shakespeare, but the average, everyday stuff. This is a good thing, I thought I’m not particularly good at anything else. Don’t ask me to draw a smiley face, or cook gourmet meals, I plant, nurture and watch the green leafy things die, I’m best in the back row of the chorus (or off stage altogether) and … I could go on and on about my lack of accomplishments, but I’ll spare you.
At least I can write, pop words onto paper in reasonable order, tell stories and the extra bonus is I can do that as long as I have wiggly fingers and the mental capacity – unlike those super sporty people whose career is on the downward slope by the time they’re 25.
My belief in my one and only ability- I won’t go so far as to call it a talent – was reinforced by all the people who paid me to write: important people who ran banks, government departments, magazines and newspapers, radio and television, corporations and educational institutions. And I mean pay, yes real money not the pennies Amazon dribble into my bank account at the end of each month. This big money paid the rent, bought food, clothed us and put petrol in the tank. It even paid for the odd cruise and trips abroad. It continued for almost 40 years until I retired and began to write books.
Now, I know that was all an illusion because ‘I can’t write ‘proper.’ How do I know this? I only have to look at my editor’s red pen marks on my drafts of Amie book 4. Frankly, that is all I can see, a sea of red, it’s almost impossible to make out the underlying black print under all the corrections. For example, I’m a victim of ‘tautology’ – yes I had to look that up too – Horrors, I use five words when I should be using only two! I sprinkle commas all over the place where they shouldn’t be and leave them out where they are an absolute must.
Now what I want to know is, who are these faceless little, grey men who sit somewhere declaring that this sentence is correct, while that sentence is not? I know that the French literary people meet once a year and discuss the purity of their language and decide to ban such abominations as ‘le sandwich‘ and ‘le weekend‘ so I must assume there is a similar gathering of English speaking experts who do the same?
The rules seem to multiply and change daily. Nowadays you must never, ever start a sentence with an -ly word eg. ‘Suddenly the silence of the night was shattered by the roar of …” NO! NO.! NO! Adverbs are out this season, you must find a different word. No longer can we put she walked slowly – even if that is what she is doing – it must be shuffled, or ambled or sauntered or another simile. But what if she is approaching the gallows – her last few steps on this earth – would she really amble or saunter towards the hangman’s noose? She might shuffle of course, but we want to convey that she approached with dignity and courage. Heaven forbid we put She walked slowly and courageously to her death …
Ans when did it become necessary to hyphenate every thing in sight? I don’t remember reading nine-year-old in books when I was younger? Why is nine year old wrong? Grammarly has just put a huge, fat red line under it for me.
English is such a precise language. I read somewhere that it has more words than any other and each one is precise and conveys a slightly different meaning to any other word.
And as writers, we all know there is an army of grammar nazis out there just waiting to pounce on our books and complain. Some writing is obviously wrong – we was sat – is a great example (who sat them if they weren’t inanimate objects?) But real people in the real world do say that. Looking at this paragraph, I remember being told in English class you never, ever, ever start a sentence with AND or BUT – they are conjunctions or joining words – now you see it all the time.
Punctuation has also undergone a shake up. Colons and semi colons are rare, the looooong dash is now popping up all over the place. It has even got a name to differentiate it from the short dash.
I despair, I really do. I know my editor is right, she’s got dozens of English and editing degrees and stuff to prove it, and I know once Amie 4 is out there no grammar nazi will dare criticise it. But I’m not sure it’s quite the (incorrect) way I write anymore and I quite liked my ‘chatty, who the hell cares if I use too many words, I write as I talk’ sort of way.
I love my editor I really do, despite my moans, I couldn’t do without her, she’s really the best.
I’m not sure what the answer is. Do we blaze a new trail of English as what she is wrote and spoken in the 21st century? Or do we blindly follow the rules?
What do you do? Right now, I’m off to get my dark glasses so I can continue editing.
We have still to finalise the cover, which do you prefer?
You have to admit that us authors are a very special breed, weird maybe but extremely clever. Last week I told you about a book that chronicled Eve’s life (yes the very first one) and this week we’ve moved on to ghosts from a later era.
Author Clare sent me two pictures, she said one was formal and the other informal. I’m not going to choose, I’ll use them both – it shows us writers as human, with real lives outside our fictional works – although I sometimes have my doubts about that!
Over to Clare.
Do you believe in ghosts? I didn’t, until I stayed at a hotel in the centre of Prague one night a few years ago. As I lay in bed, I became aware of a disturbing presence in my room. It was haunted, as well as haunting. It was the ghost of a man desperate to have his story told. I had no idea who he was and was too tired to be scared. The next day, I got up and wandered into a bookstore only a few hundred yards away. Taking an intriguing-looking book called Praga Mysteriosa off the shelf, I read to my surprise that the very street in which my hotel stood was said to be haunted by a ghost – the ghost of a barber who had abandoned his wife and daughters in the 17th century to go and become an alchemist. Bohemian Mystery is the result of my encounter with his ghost.
“A beautiful and thought-provoking novel….”
Bohemian Mystery is an intriguing novel, which opens in medieval Prague, a city at the heart of Bohemia, with its unique source of moldavite, a green gemstone laid down by a meteorite at the dawn of history. Sylvia, the protagonist, has an instinctive affinity to the city, which is where her own mother was born. But in modern Britain this is at odds with her burgeoning career at a prestigious girls’ boarding school – an institution steeped in hierarchy and eccentricity, which Clare Blanchard describes with an irresistible meld of humour and satire. However, gradually her affection for Prague draws her back again and again and she discovers that there are unexpected links between the old city and those ancient Etruscan civilisations that instigated the spread of culture and architecture across continents. She learns also that many of these legends stretch back to biblical times, and that there are even connections pulling at her own roots. Her life and purpose are transformed by these revelations. Bohemian Mystery takes you on a satisfying journey, providing food for thought long after the book is closed – a journey well worth travelling.
Brenda Parker, author of The Cilento Dove and Anya Paris
The experience of living in two or three different cultures drives Clare’s wicked sense of humour, but also makes her plots quirky, with unexpected twists of history woven in. Give Bohemian Mystery a try!
This week’s author came up with a question many of us might have thought about for a moment and then dismissed it as one of those unexplained events. Angelique Conger took this one step further and wrote a whole book about it. I think it’s a really novel (excuse the pun) idea. In Angelique’s own words …
Have you ever wondered about Eve? I did. I wanted to know how she managed life in a new world. How did she have that first child by herself, did someone help her? Then I wondered, how many children did she have? And how did they think about writing? And, did they live in a cave or in the open or build a house? All these questions left me wondering. The only way I could find the answers was to write a book.
I’ve lived a while, I’ve thought about this a long time. And when it came time to write her story, it felt like she sat beside me, whispering into my ear. I’d reach a block and not know what could possibly happen next. All I could do is walk away from it. When I came back and set my fingers on the keys, the answers were there. Some questions couldn’t be answered. Eve had no idea what happened.
Each day’s writing was a miracle to me. Writing is a miracle for me. Before that November day in 2013, when I started this, I had never been able to set down a decent short story. After 3 months, I had a decent start in rough draft form. Those were tough years, and I learned a lot.
Through it all, Eve has become my friend. Ancient Matriarchs: Eve First Matriarchs is her story. Each new tale I write comes easier, though none are ready without lots of extra work, they are coming easier.
Ancient Matriarchs, Into the Storms, Ganet Wife of Seth will be ready to join Eve, First Matriarch on your kindle or bookshelf soon.