THE STORYTELLER SPEAKS – IT’S HERE!

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It is with great pleasure I can now announce that  The Storyteller Speaks is available on Amazon.

The Storyteller Speaks ebook is available on  Amazon UK  or Amazon US or any other Amazon outlet.

The paperback will be published in January 2018.

 About the Book

It only takes one event to change a life. What is that action, decision, occurrence? Whose life is affected? Changed forever?

In this eclectic mix of 21 short stories, flash fiction and poetry the pendulum swings between first love and murder, from soul-destroying grief to reconciliation. The tales veer from the sweet satisfaction of revenge to new beginnings, from heart-breaking miscarriages of justice to heart-warming Christmas misadventure.

One common thread binds them all; the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life; they’re all extraordinary.

Open your hearts and minds as The Storyteller Speaks.

EXCITING TIMES…COVER & BLURB REVEALED

Did you hear that whoop of joy? That screech of overwhelming excitement and happiness? It is with utmost delight and sense of pride that I can unveil the cover of my collection of short stories entitled, The Storyteller Speaks.

The ebook will be out in a few days.

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No book cover reveal would be complete without the accompanying blurb.

About the Book

It only takes one event to change a life. What is that action, decision, occurrence? Whose life is affected? Changed forever?

In this eclectic mix of 21 short stories, flash fiction and poetry the pendulum swings between first love and murder, from soul-destroying grief to reconciliation. The tales veer from the sweet satisfaction of revenge to new beginnings, from heart-breaking miscarriages of justice to heart-warming Christmas misadventure.

One common thread binds them all; the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life; they’re all extraordinary.

Open your hearts and minds as The Storyteller Speaks.

In moments of thrilling ecstatic elation I just need a quick bop and this is is one of my all-time favourite songs to which I let my hair down and dance – I hope you can join me.

A week ago I posted my publishing woes when I was let down. Just as I had accepted the inevitable long delay before starting anew my journey to publication an email from Sally Cronin at Smorgadbord – Variety is the spice of life popped up my inbox.

I read it over and over. Could it be true…I both laughed and cried with joy; my hope re-kindled.

Sally wrote to say how sorry she was for me and that as she and her husband are publishers they would only be too happy to take on my book and prepare it for publication. David runs the publishing company and I was soon in touch with him at Moyhill Publishing.

Both Sally and David were adamant that we could get the book out by Christmas and ever since emails have been winging their way back and forth between David and myself.

David Cronin is a true professional, a joy to work with. His speed in returning amended proofs and answering questions is unbelievable. No query was too much, every step of the way was explained…all in the midst of proofreading and for him formatting the manuscript.

Meanwhile, there was one major hurdle – the cover, or rather lack of one! I  remembered Debby’s  beautiful cover of her latest book. I looked at her book cover designer’s website and found a fabulous cover for my book. I  immediately emailed Yvonne Less at Art4Artists. Within minutes and despite the early morning in Australia I had a reply! After this initial email it only took a few days until I had the finished cover.

I cannot thank David and Sally enough for coming to my rescue; they are both such warm, wonderful people. They work with great professionalism and expertise and the past week has been very uplifting for me.

I am overjoyed and honoured to be published by Moyhill Publishing.

The paperback book is ready however we are just waiting for print proofs and space at the printers. It will be published in January 2018.

‘TWIXT THE CUP AND THE LIP *

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Sometimes we don’t need to travel far to journey a long way.

With a publication agreed weeks ago it was with a song in my heart and a dance in my step that I prepared for this major event in my life.

My first book was due out in the world!!

A wonderful celebratory party away was planned…local to us all but a special place to be spoilt and dine in style!

As the date for publication drew closer, delay followed delay and to my shame, lowered my spirits. Worst of all was the lack of communication from the producer and broken promises. In my naive trust, I waited and believed. Until now. At last, our cooperation had to be terminated.

As for the celebratory weekend – I was all set to cancel. My family refused to accept this, insisting that after all the book is ready; apart from the elusive cover! (And final proofread before publication!)

So we set out to celebrate life and what has been achieved – I hope you’ll join me in reliving the wonderful weekend.

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It’s not easy to get anywhere high up in Essex…it’s a pretty flat county but Wivenhoe Park is situated on top of a hill and it is here that Wivenhoe House was built. Wivenhoe House’s fascinating history stretches back to 1759 when Isaac Rebow asked Thomas Reynolds to build the mansion house, which is now Grade II listed.

Stepping out of the car we admired the same landscape painted by the English Romantic artist John Constable in 1816.

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The building escaped mostly unscathed apart from a few broken chimney pots following the country’s worst earthquake in 1884, was requisitioned by troops during WWII before becoming the original home to Essex University in 1964. It is now a hotel.

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The university campus is close by in the park, the tall 1960s tower blocks iconic and for the first time ever I wander amongst them, past a delightful library full (!) of students, past a modern theatre, into the main campus site.

 

Lakes and fountains adorned the area; ducks and coots pecking amiably on the cold ground. A stunning sunset greeted us and we paused to let the peace and beauty sink in – not too long though as the bitter chill bit through our coats.

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Heading round we realised how hungry we were on seeing this unusual cafe…a Routemaster double-decker bus cafe – closed alas but probably just as well as dinner was soon.

The hotel was impeccable with friendly staff who were eager to help. The bedrooms were superb.

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The balcony overlooking the park was a bonus – even if it was too cold to use the welcoming table and chairs.

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The brassiere dining room was delightful and we were welcomed by the sommelier who recommended his original cocktails. How could we refuse! By the end of the evening, my spirits rose even further when presented with the ‘Congratulations’ platter.

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The next morning we just had time for another walk around the grounds; this time to hunt out the two famous cork oak saplings which had been smuggled into the country in the boots of General Redbow following the Peninsular War. What had they witnessed in their two hundred year existence, I wondered?

These impressive trees were both enthralling and majestic; languidly they grew along the ground as well as upwards, their trunks dramatically pock-marked and small leaves reaching in bunches for the sky.

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Gazing at the trees I felt a certain sense of calm for the first time in weeks…their strength and timeless aura transcended my worries and concerns. During this trip, I once again became re-aligned, my inner journey to renewed energy and belief reignited during our short sojourn.

Finally, my deepest apologies to you all…your warm, generous and enthusiastic support for the publication of my short story collection has been overwhelming and it has been hardest to let you down. I hope you will bear with me and kindly ask for your patience until the launch of my book.

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Supermoon photo taken through the trees in the evening.

‘Painting is but another word for feeling.’ John Constable.

I would just substitute the word painting with writing in this case!

Photo ©Annika Perry, except the Constable painting of course!!

*There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip is a very old proverb, similar in meaning to “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”. It implies that even when a good outcome or conclusion seems certain, things can still go wrong. (Wikipedia)

CHIPPING AWAY!

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Editing is a strange process.

I’m finding the task both hugely satisfying and exhausting. Like a skilled artist, I imagine myself adding those final touches to a painting that will lift my work. As I carve away at my stories I’m falling for the characters all over again, getting to know them intimately, their stories engraved on my mind. Even when not at the computer, chipping and adding away, my thoughts are constantly with my creations…I want to honour them by presenting them in the best way possible.

My distracted state has not gone unnoticed at home. Returning from school one day my son cautiously asked why a breakfast bowl was on the laundry basket in the bathroom. A very good question and I had no sensible answer – no doubt a new edit idea struck me between rooms. I’ve warned him to expect a lot of these unusual distractions as I battle against my perfectionist nature and concentrate singlemindedly to complete my first book.

With a selection of my short stories with a professional editor, with discussions underway for a book cover, I have been reassured that completion before Christmas is possible.

Yikes! On hearing this deadline my stomach flip-flopped with excited elation (and terror!) whilst my mind nearly overloaded as I careered through everything that needs to be done. Then, ever the Virgo, organisation took charge and with a new notebook in hand, I made lists, lots of them. These I’m slowly ticking off…

Whilst editing I have noticed my predisposition for certain words which I’ve harshly erased; even as I berate myself for my persistent use of these lame and weak phrases, I’m pleased to learn more about my writing, how to improve it with immediate effect.

Who are the culprits? Stand up words, wave goodbye and bow out!

* Also   *Now    *Then     *At last     *Just

*After all    *Of course    *Finally

Finally (noooo!!) one chap’s name appeared in three different stories…sorry, there’s only need for one George!

‘My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left. I remember exactly where I set down each and everyone one of them, and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart…’  Haruki Murakami

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‘Hot Bed of Innovation’ *

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Flexibility, control, copyright, maximum percentage earnings.  


These seem to be the key words for a new breed of entrepreneurs emerging in the publishing industry.  As more and more writers self-publish, what was previously regarded as vanity projects are now big business – both for writers and for the digital book industry.

Where before books would languish in drawers, writers with some knowledge, a lot of time, perseverance and social media presence can self-publish and hopefully with some or even lots of success.

Self-publishing has many positive elements:  

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  • The middle-man, retailers, are cut out and books are sold directly to the reader.numbers2
  • The earnings from the sale per book are increased for the writer in comparison with traditional publishing; the latter which have to take into account their work, marketing, printing and selling costs. The figures banded about are 10% in traditional publishing and copyright tied up for x-number of years against 70% in self-publishing with copyright retained and non-exclusivity. Of course, there are variations of numbers and contractual  terms within both sectors.flexi
  • Flexibility of sales technique is a major asset for those who decide to go the self-publishing route. There is the option to reduce and vary price,market special offers, including special promotions when a book might even be available for free. I know the latter is usually a major hit with many takers on the offer and resulting in increased reviews online. Also some authors can decide to part release chapters of their books via social media to tempt readers in. One major success of this tactic was Andy Weir’s ‘The Martian’.  He released his book chapter by chapter on his blog, before collating it into a complete book for self-publishing as an e-book, audio book and physical book. By then the word was already out and the book was picked up by a division of  Penguin Random House. It’s now a Hollywood blockbuster.  
  • Self-publishing also allows an author to publish a book no one in the traditional trade will touch as they consider it out of step with current market trends. One such example of miscalculation is the hugely successful ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, which E L James decided to self-publish following lack of interest by the publishing houses. She self-published, the book flourished and in due course was picked up by Vintage Books, which had the capability to bring the physical books nationwide and to an international market as well as offering the full support of its marketing team. To date the whole series boasts sales of a 125 million books!
  • Many self-published authors have realised the popularity of series books and often have the flexibility to bundle the books together as such when selling them, giving the reader a better deal and for the writer an opportunity to increase financial sales and hopefully win longterm readers in the process.
  • Another positive aspect to self-publishing is that books do not have to be standardised regarding length, with books varying much more in number of words and offering a larger scope for refreshing variety of books.

So how big is the self-publishing industry?  

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No one knows for sure, particularly as the largest operator (Amazon Kindle) refuses to release their sales figures, however it is believed that between 12-15% of books sold are self-published.  Although the number might not seem large, according to Author Earnings the earnings from e-books by self-published authors in America is collectively more than earned by authors represented by the Big Five publishers.

This is a massive amount and one that is only increasing. Its own success spawns trouble for newcomers who are entering a flooded market and have to work so much harder to try and win attention and interest in their book. It is not impossible but it can be trickier than ever the experts admit.

There are numerous difficulties facing a first-time self-published author.

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  • It can be an arduous task to release over many platforms such as Amazon,Kobo, Google Play and Apple iBooks. For each platform there is the need to reformat the book each time. This can be both time-consuming and requiring yet more new skills. 
  • Furthermore there is the all important book design cover to consider. Whether to try and achieve this on ones own or search for help.
  • The blurb is vital with any book and it is important to get this right!web
  • Last but not least the actual marketing falls upon the self-published author alone; not only to organise but also to carry out without support. This includes both the social media/online marketing and perhaps outside promotional events in eg. bookshops and libraries.dollarpound 
  • There is of course also the financial risk to factor in. Many writers will want to have their manuscript professionally proofread. Perhaps a professional cover will be commissioned. Also if producing the physical books there is the printing costs to consider. Douglas Wright, a former journalist, took the opportunity to self-publish his first book but he is only now starting to recoup the costs. 

If it all seems too much there is a huge network of support out there. Many here in WordPress are wonderful  bloggers offering help, advice and support for various or all elements of the process.  

Furthermore several companies exist to help with the whole package of self-publishing including Whitefox Publishing Services, Reedsy. Support forums also exist, such as Royal Road Self-Publishing Forum, Authors Alliance.

Finally, on a personal level the information above is of great interest to me as I consider which direction to take in the future. So many bloggers have successfully self-published not just one but many books and I hold them in high esteem. My admiration for their books and their ability is immense as I begin to realise the epic journey that awaits anyone contemplating this route. I am pretty tech savvy but the thought of trying to put all this together myself into an e-book instills a certain amount of fear and trepidation. The more I read the more confused I become. I will not let this hamper my efforts though and like the writing take it step by step should I decide to go this way, calling upon your invaluable help along the way! 

* Michael Tamblyn, Head of Kobo talking about e-books on BBC news.

Data is from various sources including BBC news.