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!

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.

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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.

 

 

 

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

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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

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.

ONWARDS WITH THE BIG TRIP – VICTORIA’S FERTILITY

We drove to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand to visit the Bang Pa-In Summer Place which was stunning. Like most places it is a complex of buildings formerly used by the Thai kings. I think the pictures speak for themselves and it was one of the most beautiful places we went to with very few chattering tourists to disturb the peace.

While Queen Victoria was expanding so was the Empire and her reign of 63 years, 7 months is the longest of any other British monarch until Queen Elizabeth who became queen in 1952.

vic-cartoon

It was during this time that England went to war against all kinds of other, interesting people in interesting places, such as China, Afghanistan, the Seiks, the Burmese, Abyssinia and the Zulus. This kept Parliament very busy pouring for hours over maps to find out where these places were.

map-br-empire

Two downloadable back stories for free in the newsletter – find out more about Amie’s early life and Ben’s coming of age.

IT’S MY EXPLANATION (AND I’M STICKING TO IT)

As one or two of you might know I used to work in the media, and I’ll never forget the awful day when the editor turned to me and asked what the next shot was. Now very few programmes are shot in order, you might even capture the final shot first. I looked down at the script and told him it was the guys climbing the pylon.

edit-studio-sabccrew-shot-0343

“And the in and out points?” His fingers were poised over the controls. I checked the shot list, and then checked it again and again and again, panic rising, heart beat racing, I could even feel my blood pressure shooting skywards. But no, the shot wasn’t there. We had forgotten to film anyone even near the pylon, much less climbing it.

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I still shudder when I remember that moment, and from that day I meticulously made sure that every scene we ever needed was safely in the can.  Over the years I became more and more efficient and we were able to work faster and faster.  –  Patience, I’m coming to the point just now!

Then of course I retired (joke) and I began the book writing thing. My first book languished away on Amazon, picking up less than 2 dozen sales in the first year, until I discovered marketing, or rather the need to market. (Sad to remember I thought that people just ‘found’ books on Amazon and shot you to the heights of the best sellers). I ventured onto Facebook and a kind writer put up my web page and then I dipped my toe in the blog world.

So, blogs were a good way to chat to people. They give you more freedom than a short post on FB and trying to get much of a message out there about anything in less than 140 characters on Twitter was going to need a lot of practice.

So what could I write on my blog? I had no advice for anyone, I had used up most of my experiences in two more memoirs so I began to expand on my silly history of kings and queens of England based on a humorous lecture I’d given locally – entitled All the monarchs in 59 minutes and 3 seconds. It had taken me some time to write and it seemed daft not to use it as it would never see the light of day again.

1066-kings-and-queens

Then came the Big Trip and I really wanted to share this with the world, I was just blown away by the sights and sounds of the Far East. But, there was a problem, I was still fumbling my way through history, I’d only got as far as the Tudors. OK, I thought, I’ll combine them and do half of each.

I was still thinking how clever I was until a couple of writer friends pointed out at lunch yesterday that my blog is totally confusing. “You’re jumping around all over the place” they told me kindly. Readers don’t know what to expect!

Now, I’m getting to the point. It’s all in the planning. If only I could have my time over again for the last few years. For example, I would have realized that I needed to co-ordinate the covers on my Amie series – yes all series have matching covers I know that now – and it’s taking time and money to replace them all.

Amie covers right now – see not matching!

Even the cover of my first book was really amateurism, even though I was so proud of it at the time – and that’s now been changed 3 times.

I’ve learned that you need to build a platform of friends months before you even write Chapter One on the screen, and if you are even thinking of writing a book, practice Twitter, a basic graphics programme, familiarize yourself with analytics and how to format for the sales channels. It’s also helpful to find out how to convert your documents from one format to another, pdf, epub, mobi etc  and how to decide which blog host to choose and set up your page. You also need to suss out the promo sites and which ones give value for money and then there are the key words and the rankings and the … the list is endless. Dozens of people have written books about how to do all this, or whole books on only one topic of all the knowledge which will help you on your way to the top of the charts.

Of course I didn’t even know you had to plan, and let’s face it, often we are not sure what works if anything and to what extent.

The postscript to this is I’m afraid you will have to live with my lack of planning and suffer both the Big Trip and, currently, Queen Victoria a little longer. They will be back next week. We’re coming to the end of both topics and then I’ll be stuck!!

Now I’m sure you’ve noticed that I rarely push my books on here but I would like to mention my new monthly newsletter which will have news about my books and those of other people. Plus a downloadable back story to the Amie series, plus information about the pending court case (that is not serious). I hope I can find the sign up form here again, but if not, please leave a comment and I will happily add your name. Happy to cross promote with other authors, but to start with I am focusing on new releases and books with an African connection.

Oh, one final thing – my Goodreads giveaway is ending in 2 days – for 2 signed paperback copies posted worldwide. Here is the link. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/217970-amie-an-african-adventure

Till next week.

BANKOK AND ALMOST THE END OF ESCORTED BIG TRIP

The summer palace at Bang Pa-In was truly special and as I can’t put too many photos in each blog, I’ll spread it out over a couple of weeks. No words from me are necessary, the pictures speak for themselves.

HISTORICAL NONSENSE

Well of course all this frolicking around in the bedroom had consequences didn’t it? (Urban legend has it that Albert put locks on the doors – that’s how serious it was).  I’m still puzzling over that letter from last week, do you think Albert ever got to read it?  The Queen hated being pregnant, viewed breast-feeding with disgust and thought new born babies were ugly. She compared them to frogs.

vic-before-babies

In November 1840, three doctors and a nurse were installed in Buckingham Palace. When the Queen went into labour, she was worried that she might cry out and be heard by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and other important ministers who were all waiting in the next room.

This was referred to as the first silent birth – and you thought it might be fun to be a princess? Think again.

The reason for this almost public exhibition? Years ago, many had believed that James II’s son was a changeling and had been smuggled into the queen’s bedchamber in a warming pan, so it became practice to have state ministers on hand to view a new royal baby immediately it was born.

Stay safe until next week.