Three Quotes Challenge – Day 1

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I’ve  been nominated again for the Three Quotes Challenge, this time by Nitin Chandran Nair on his blog, Nitin Nair Writes. Thank you Nitin! I know Nitin mostly through the flash fiction challenges, even though I have time for very few of those nowadays. Unfortunately.

So . . . here are the RULES for this one:

1. Post on three consecutive days

2. Pick one or three quotes per day

3. Challenge three different bloggers per day

4. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

For this challenge I’ve decided to post three quotes a day, each day on a different topic.

For Day One I’ve chosen to do quotes about Books and Reading. Books have featured hugely in my life as far back as I can remember (and my memory goes back as  far as the early 1950s). My father was a big reader and introduced us – myself, my sister and brother – to the joys of the library from a very young age.  A day never goes by when I don’t read at least a few pages.

shutterstock image The joy of reading

There are so many good quotes about, I was stuck for choice, but I eventually settled on the following three:

Reading Quote 1 (2)

Reading Quote 3 (2)

Reading Quote 3 (3)

I can relate to all three of these quotes . . .

The first one happens to me a lot. Characters are so important in a story; we become engrossed in their stories, their ups and downs, their loves and hates  . . .  As we read on, we begin to feel as though we know them personally. Is it any surprise that when the book ends, we feel as though we’ve lost a friend (or two?).

As for the second quote . . . all I can say is that I daren’t walk into Waterstones, or any other bookstore, if I’m in a hurry. How could anyone resist browsing the shelves for several wonderful hours . . .  or spending a lot of money?

I find the third quote the most thought-provoking of the three. To me, reading brings ‘enlightenment’ – by which I mean a better understanding of people and the world in which we live. Whether the story is set in the past or the present, human nature is revealed in a way that we can relate to in one way or another. Understanding of so much is closed to anyone denied of books.

I would love to hear other people’s views on any of these quotes. I know that plenty of you share my love of books and reading.

There are my three nominees for today:

Simple Dimple

Snow Brooks

Farraday’s Candle

A Trip to Spain, Writing . . . and Books I’ve Reviewed

shutterstock_160717460This is what I call a ‘multi-purpose’ post, and it’s likely to be the last post I do for a couple of weeks. The reason might be obvious from the first part of my title. Yes, I’m off to Sunny Spain.

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I’ve read a few books over the last couple of months, but I’d like to mention four I really liked here. I’ll just add a link to my full reviews on Goodreads and write a shortened version here, otherwise this would become a bit of a marathon. So here they are:

  1. The Mystery of the Death: Book One of the Runevision Series.

Author:  Jack R. Cotner.

Genre: historical fiction

As a lover of both historical fiction and murder mysteries, I really enjoyed this book.  It’s set in the 5th Century AD in the Celtic lands of north-western, mainland Europe, an area which presents strong resistance to Roman control.

The murder mystery is extremely well crafted, with many twists and turns as the plot unfolds. We follow the footsteps of the young Celtic magistrate, Weylyn, who is tasked by his superiors in the Elder Faith with finding those responsible for the theft of a Roman treasure, including the magnificent Great Cross, and capture the perpetrator of the murder which occurred at the same time.

Throughout the chase, Weylyn must also adhere to the demands of the Roman Enforcement officers, whose agendas seldom tally with his own, as well as sorting out his own future with a woman whose beliefs are contrary to his own, and evading the deadly assassin who is always hot on his heels.

This book is a great read for anyone who enjoys an intriguing murder mystery with well-rounded characters and an historical setting. The writing style suits the period well and there are some lovely descriptive phrases and poems.  Jack is currently writing Book Two of the series, which I look forward to reading.

You can read the full review on  Goodreads.

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2.  Matchmaker of Magics: Book One of The Bleaken Series.

Author: Mara Fields

Genre: YA fantasy

It’s some time since I read a YA novel, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to read this book. I soon found that the style and content would suit both YA and adult readers. It’s an exciting story in which Mara blends magical powers with human emotion and endeavour extremely well. It is set partly in the tiny village of Bleaken and the capital city of the realm, Verdigreen.

Sacha Bleaken is a young woman whose ancestors founded the village.  Though expected to become one of the village leaders, Sacha knows she was born for far more than that. Her magical skills are already considerable. The sudden appearance of the monstrous Coldwights – not seen in Bleaken for many years – and the kidnapping of her beloved tutor, change her life completely.  Blamed for the Coldwights’ appearance, Sacha is banished from the village for a year. Whilst in Verdigreen she hones her powers under the guidance of some of the realm’s most talented mages, thus preparing herself for the tasks of finding her tutor and saving her people from the evil Coldwights.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Mara has a flowing writing style and there is a cast of intriguing characters. The magical element is fascinating. I am already half way through Book Two of this series and really enjoying it.

My full review can be seen on Goodreads.

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3. and 4. Mission Rome and Mission Paris: ( Scavenger Hunt Adventure Series)

Author: Catherine Aragon

Genre: Travel, Discovery and Adventure books for children

There are already several other books in this excellent series but Mission Paris and Mission Rome are the two I’ve read so far. They are aimed at children in the 8-12 age range, but would equally suit older chilren and even adults could make use of them as travel guides.

The books aim to give children on holiday with their family something interesting and exciting to focus on – in order to counteract boredom.  The missions are presented in such a fun way that few children could resist, especially with the added incentive of becoming a Secret International Agency special agent on completion of the tasks. Most of the major sites of each city are visited, with extra information given as introduction – much of this as amusing little snippets. They are extremely well written and beautifully and colourfully presented, with great covers and the maps and ‘missions’/investigations are clearly and interestingly listed inside. I just wish these books had been around when my own children were young. I haven’t visited Paris yet, but when I do, I’ll certainly make use of ‘Mission Paris’!

The books published so far include missions to Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Washington D.C. My reviews of the two books I have read can be found on Goodreads:

Mission Paris and Mission Rome

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On Thursday I head off to Andalusia (Andalucia) in Spanish. It’s not only somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while, but an area in which a section of Book 3 of my Sons of Kings trilogy takes place. So the trip is really for research into the old Moorish settlements, particularly Cordoba (Cordova in Spanish) which was the Moorish capital in the 9th century. There are also many ruins of Romans structures, which, of course, would have been there at that time. My ‘header’ image for this post shows the old Roman bridge in Cordoba. I intend to take lots of photos and visit as many sites and museums as we can manage.

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Map of Andalucia from Wikimedia Commons. Author: SantiagoFrancoRamos

So, until I get back I’m unlikely to post again, unless I find time for the odd photo. I’ll have to pick up on my blog where I left off . . .

This Self Promotion Business Isn’t As Easy As It Sounds!

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So I’ve got my book on Amazon. Now what do I do? As idiotic as that may sound, that’s exactly how I felt when I eventually published my book online. Being totally ignorant of the workings of online retailing, I thought that was that, and just let the book sit there, stagnating for a few months.

Sales?  Perhaps one step higher than the one labelled ZILCH.

Only to be expected when the book is buried beneath thousands of others!  I know that now. I didn’t, then. It never entered my head that I had to actually do things to make my book more visible. I can hear you saying, ‘Which planet has this woman been living on for the past ten years?’ I‘ve since learned of multiple strategies adopted by authors to get their book(s) visible to potential readers – both before and after publication.

I have no intention of talking about them all. I simply want to highlight a few of the ways in which I failed miserably in the art of self-publishing.shutterstock_165912134

Firstly, I failed to get the word out that my book would soon be published on Amazon (preferably several weeks prior to the date).  No one outside my close family was aware of my intentions, not even people I knew or formerly worked with. I didn’t see the need. I just imagined that once the book was on Amazon it would be seen, and hopefully sell.

Wrong!

Then I proceeded to make a great bodge of everything else.

I hadn’t tried any kind of advertising for my book. As with everything else, I hadn’t given it a thought. Now I see that there are many places/websites that feature adverts to promote books, both free and paid ones.

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Many are designed to advertise particular promotions by the author, including the 5 free days’ promotion with Amazon KDP Select.

But I hadn’t heard of Amazon Select until someone mentioned it to me -by which time my book had been published for almost three months.

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So far, I’ve only tried the five free days once, and have mixed feelings about it.  My book had plenty of downloads – well, over a thousand between Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.  (That sounded a lot to me, but perhaps it wasn’t, comparatively.)

I waited for reviews to start coming in, but none arrived, other than the few I’d specifically requested from known Amazon reviewers or bloggers who offered reviews. I didn’t realise that most readers, no matter how much they enjoyed a book, rarely reviewed. Ah, well . . .

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So next time I’m trying the Amazon Countdown Deal to see how that works. I’ve got one booked for the end of November.

I also now know that I should have sent out lots of review requests, not just a few. I suppose I’m just not the pushy type. I haven’t even ‘spread the word’ amongst people I know. More fool you, you would say – and you’d be right. Perhaps I just have too much of the famous ‘British reserve’.  But I do realise that I have to buck my ideas up, somehow!

And this is where I am today.  I’ve had some excellent reviews from the few reviewers I approached and several on Amazon.co.uk from general readers. Naturally I’m heartened by their favourable ratings and comments.

All I have to do now is find a way of getting more of them.

I’ve recently joined Goodreads, an invaluable site for authors, and I’m enjoying that immensely – except for the fact that it just tempts me to read more books instead of getting on with my own!

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I’ve also spent time writing book reviews on Goodreads, which, although enjoyable, is also time consuming – as is writing this blog, which I’m still trying to decide how best to use. As a new blogger, it’s all very much a matter of trial and error, and a lot of patience, I know.  Unless a blogger is already a well-known personality, I realise it can take a long time to build up a good following.

In conclusion, I’ve now had advice from a number of sources and read a lot about ebook promotion and advertising. At least I’m a little better informed nowadays. All I have to do now is put some of this new-found knowledge into practice!

I’ll finish with a few interesting quotes about self-publishing:

“The good news about self-publishing is you get to do everything yourself. The bad news about self publishing is you get to do everything yourself.”   Lori Lesko

“Anyone who says it’s easy to self-publish a book is either lying or doing a shitty job.”   Nan McCarthy

“The best self promotion is your next book. And the book after that and after that …”  Bella Andre

I’m working hard on the last quote! This will be the cover of Book 2 of my Sons of Kings trilogy.

Pit of Vipers Final (Small)

Shall I Get On With My writing – Or Just Read That Book?

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Like most writers I’m a voracious reader.  I’ve read all my life and have no intention of stopping now – unless my eyesight suddenly packs in. Then, of course, there are always audio books . . .

So what’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that if I get into a really good book, I just want to read until I’ve finished it. Not a good thing when my second novel is sitting there, just waiting for the last couple of chapters to finish it off.

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I’ve just had a great holiday in Malta, as my last post showed, doing all the things I enjoy. I love the sunshine and swimming aspects of holidaying in warmer climes, but what I don’t like is inactivity. I’m one of those people who simply must be doing something. Lounging around sunbathing I can tolerate only in very short bursts, and then only with a book to read – which in itself means an overhead canopy (so no sunbathing because I can’t read in sunlight, with or without sunglasses).

But reading is never boring to me. I read three books whilst in Malta, though they weren’t great, marathon tomes, I admit.

To get back to my main issue: should a writer spend time reading when his/her own book is in progress?

My own thoughts on this . . .?  Well, yes and no.

Yes . . . because we all need some leisure time away from our work. And that is what my writing has become – a substitute for my ‘paid’ employment since retiring. I love to write, pay or no pay. And I love the theme of the trilogy I’m in the middle of. My problem arises when I have an urge to read when I should be pounding the keys on my laptop.

No . . . for obvious reasons, already touched on above. Turning to my reading when I should be writing is simply putting off focusing and applying myself to the more important or pressing task. And to be honest, I know I only do so when I hit a section of the narrative that demands a great deal of thought and application.

One final point concerns the type of books an author should read in the middle of writing – whether the author is still at the ‘would be’ stage or already published.  I write historical fiction and also love to read that genre, along with some crime novels now and then. I choose to read many books in these genres while I’m writing . . . except other novels set in the  same Viking period as my own .

Now, I love Bernard Cornwell’s writing in particular, and have read many of his books set in a variety of periods. I really enjoyed his Arthur series. But I won’t read his books about King Alfred until I’ve finished my own trilogy – also about King Alfred and the Danes. I certainly don’t want influencing by his storylines, as brilliant as I’m sure they are.  There are bound to be overlaps in some of the events during Alfred’s life, but how they are told is unique to each author.

Can’t wait to read Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Warrior Chronicles’!

And I wonder what this man would have said about all this . . .?

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William Shakespeare

A last thought from Roald Dahl:

Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people.

Time for him to read something else, perhaps . . .?  (What a great writer he was, too.