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#samplesunday

I’m learning a lot these days as I prepare to become an ebook author. My latest discover is #samplesunday on Twitter. It’s an indie author thing. Enter #samplesunday as a search term and you’ll find links to samples of writing by people intending to self-publish. I shall be joining in from next week.

Two great websites I’ve recently discovered are Kindle Obsessed and Writinghood. These are packed full of info and tips. Check them out.

 

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Mindmapping

Mindmapping is all about avoiding the disadvantages of making a list i.e. thinking in a non-creative, linear way. It’s about emptying your brain to get ideas which you can tidy up later. This is what makes it such a great tool for creative people e.g. authors. It’s inspirational and keeps those brainwaves pulsing.

If you’re not sure how to construct a mindmap, then look here for a walkthrough.  Using colours and little pictures along the way keeps both sides of your brain busy and therefore you’re working more efficiently.

How many mindmaps do you need? As many as it takes. Perhaps one for the overall plot, and then more detailed ones for each main facet of the plot. I do one for the overall dramatis personae of the book I’m working on, and then one for each character so I know him or her inside out and will always give the correct shoe size or hair colour when it crops up! The moment writer’s block threatens to descend, I rustle up a mindmap to keep me functioning.

Non-fiction benefits as much from mindmapping as fiction, and it doesn’t end there. Do a mindmap for marketing ideas and another for promotion strategies. A third for publishers and agents to contact.

Once you start using mindmaps to help your writing, it’s hard to stop. They’re a very valuable, effective tool that give a great boost to your creativity.

Here’s a list of some mindmapping software packages.

 

 

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Book Festivals, Salons du Livres and E-books

Limousin

I’ve been reading how it’s book festival season in the UK at the moment, so I thought I’d better see how France compares, and in particular, my région – Limousin. Limousin consists of three departéments – Creuse (where I live), Correze and Haute-Vienne – and is pretty much slap-bangin the middle of France. It’s a largely rural area with an elderly and declining population, so it’s not the cultural hotspot of the country. However, a look at this website reveals that is plenty of literary activity going on. There are numerous secondhand book fairs, series of lectures, storytelling festivals, comic book and children’s book fairs, days devoted to schoolbooks and the intriguingly entitled event: Les auteurs vivants ne sont pas tous morts – living authors aren’t all dead! The biggest salon du livre in our area is the annual Brive one. My two eldest children usually go there with lycée each year and enjoy it. I shall go too this October.

Brive salon du livres http://www.foiredulivre.net

I’m glad I did this bit of research because I had no idea there was so much going on book-wise. I’d be fascinated to meet some French authors and talk with French publishers, being an author and editor myself. My main impressions of French books are that they are expensive, but lavishly produced and with a penchant for quirky illustrations. I must look into this in more detail.

And how will e-books fit into such festivals? Very well, I think. Authors can still attend fairs and talk to fans. Rather than autographing paper copies of books, they’ll have to sign good old fashioned autograph books (do you remember those? I got through loads as a child!). The e-books can be displayed on computers or Kindle or whichever platform they’re designed for. In fact, I think this would do nothing but good since may traditional dead-tree readers are badly informed about electronic reading media and deeply suspicious of it. It would be a great chance for them to get up close and personal with it. Ebooks certainly won’t kill book festivals.

 

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That’s Nice

Now they're nice!

Nice is a maligned word. Every teacher tells kids not to use it, so you tend to grow up with a paranoid dread of ever employing it. But it’s a nice word. I’m always grateful when someone says “have a nice day” to me, or “you like nice” (it actually happens sometimes!), and I feel good if I say something nice to a friend, or a stranger, or a nice thing happens. We all want niceness in our lives.

Nice is nice.

And that looks nice ...

Nice means pleasing and agreeable, pleasant and attractive, courteous and polite, respectability. All things that make life better. And it’s a word we use a lot every day, like (I hope) please and thank you. No-one has ever complained that we say those too often!

Of course, you don’t want to overuse it in your writing, but you can use it. It’s colloquial, modern and meaningful. Leave it in your vocabulary.

But if you have nice appearing too often, here are 25 synonyms to choose from: agreeable, amiable, attractive, benign, charming, commendable, congenial, considerate, delightful, enjoyable, fair, favourable, friendly, genial, good, gracious, helpful, kind,  lovely, mega, personable, pleasant, pleasing, super, tasteful.

 

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Jokes for Writers

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell. He decided to check out each place first. As he went down into the fiery pits of hell, he saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped.

“Not good,” said the writer. “May I see heaven now please?”

Up in heaven, he saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped.

“Hang on,” said the writer. “This is the same as hell!”

“No, it’s not,” came a voice. “Here, your work gets published!”

 

A panda walks into a bar. He orders a drink and a meal. When he’s finished, he pulls out a gun and shoots a waiter, then turns to go. The barman shouts: “Hey, why did you do that?”

“I’m a panda,” replies the panda. “Look it up.” Then he goes.

The barman pulls out a dictionary and looks up ‘panda’. He reads: Asiatic mammal. Eats shoots and leaves.

 

A woman went to a bookstore and asked the salesman, “Where’s the self-help section?”

He answered, “If I tell you, it will defeat the purpose.”

 

What’s the difference between publishers and terrorists?

You can negotiate with terrorists.

 

Some good books:
French Overpopulation by Francis Crowded

Fallen Underwear by Lucy Lastic

The French Chef by Sue Flay

Look Younger by Fay Slift

Neither a Borrower Nora Lender Bee

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Sunday Stuff

Three things that caught my eye this weekend. The first two are good morale boosters for all authors like me thinking of self-publishing on Kindle.

A recent Pollack book

1. Neil Pollack in a New York Times interview says: “My self-published product may not be the easiest proposition for mainstream publishers. It will be short, it’s about Jews and basketball and bumbling fascists, doesn’t involve teenage vampire sex or the Knights Templars, and wouldn’t be likely to sustain a $9.99 download price, which is the low end of what publishers are charging now for new e-books. Here are the economics: I’m going to charge five bucks, or $4.99 a download. For every book sold, my online vendor will send me 70 percent of the revenue. In raw dollar amounts, that’s more than three times what I’d get from a mainstream publisher for each paperback sale. If I manage to score a thousand downloads, which I almost certainly will at that price point (I have a large family), I’ll make 3,500 bucks, and if I get 5,000 downloads, I’m looking at $17,500. Quickly, I’ll have earned the equivalent of a pleasant advance for this book.”

2. From: Kindle Self-Publishing. John Locke, author of Saving Rachel says: “The first time I saw the business model for selling eBooks on Kindle, my eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas,” says John, “because Kindle doesn’t just level the playing field for self-published authors, it actually slants it in our favour. For the first time in history there’s an advantage to being an independent author!”

His advice: Write the types of books you like to read and are good at writing. In John’s case that’s light entertainment. “I offer my readers a fun, breezy read,” says John. “If I can give them some chuckles and hold their interest for a few hours, I feel I’ve earned my 99 cents.”

3. And here’s a cool free e-book of poetry by Christopher L Jones. I can honestly say this is the best poetry I’ve read in a long time.

 

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First Class News

I’ve just heard that some First Class children (that’s first year primary school in Ireland) are reading my book Anna’s Secret Granny as a class project and are hoping to ask me lots of questions about it. I’m delighted! I loved doing workshops with children when I was in Ireland, and I did a lot of them. I do miss that side of my previous life. So it will be wonderful to get involved with this class in Kildare.

I’ll keep you posted about what we get up to!

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Twenty great quotes about writing

I hope you’ll enjoy these. I’ve put my favourite three in bold – they sum me and my writing up quite well.

 

1.       There are two kinds of writer: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder. Brian Aldiss

2.       Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. Anon

3.       Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders. Walter Bagehot

4.       He was such a bad writer, they revoked his poetic license. Milton Berle

5.       It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly. C. J. Cherryh

6.       Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. E. L. Doctorow

7. Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. E.L. Doctorow

8.       Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. Gene Fowler

9.       Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will. Goethe

10.   A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one. Baltasar Gracián

11.   Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne

12.   A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. Eugene Ionesco

13.   Many suffer from the incurable disease of writing, and it becomes chronic in their sick minds. Juvenal

14.   If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves. Don Marquis

15.   Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say. Sharon O’Brien

16.   Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted. Jules Renard

17.   The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book. Mickey Spillane

18.   I do not like to write – I like to have written. Gloria Steinem

19.   How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. Henry David Thoreau

20.   Keep a diary and one day it’ll keep you. Mae West

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Apologies

Just a quick apology if you visited this page in the last few days and found nothing here. Chris was transferring our websites to a new server. All done, so back to normal imminently with some new posts.