Not the August Bank Holiday Offer~ oops!

Not the August Bank Holiday Offer~ oops!

Red-faced here.

The post ran thus:

“In the UK, there are two August bank holidays. One at the start of the month (first Monday) and one at the end. We look forward to them despite the fact that quite often, the weather is terrible. There’s a theory that making a day a bank holiday invites unseasonably bad weather.

Anyway, I’ve put Away With The Fairies at a lower price WORLD WIDE until Tuesday morning, so grab it while it’s an even better deal than usual. None of my books are priced unreasonably; you can’t buy a posh cup of coffee for the same price.

I’ve put the UK link here but for anywhere else in the world, just go into the URL and change the dot co dot uk to whichever internet suffix your country might use.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Away-Fairies-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B005RDS02A/ref=la_B00766135C_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438337316&sr=1-3

 

P.S. Reviews always welcome.

P.P.S Enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend, whatever the weather”

Except I’ve had a total brain fart. There ARE two August Bank Holidays; however, they are not country wide. Scotland gets the first Monday and the rest of the UK gets the final one.

May does indeed have TWO Bank Holidays but August doesn’t.

Still, I shall leave the book on offer for the weekend and perhaps repeat it at the end of the month.

I’m an idjit.

The Grand Dame’s Legacy

The Grand Dame’s Legacy

On the relatively rare times when I sleep long enough to dream and to remember it, I have been making a point of recording the dreams and later working with the content of the dream using a form of Active Imagination. I’m sharing this dream because there are elements that baffle me and also because it is clearly an Archetype Dream; those I believe do not belong solely to myself alone.

I have inherited the property of an old lady who has passed away; I do not know her name or who she was but I am going through her belongings. There are many very fine blouses in a wardrobe; each is hand made, hand tailored and of fine material like silks and satins, embroidered and hand stitched with seed pearls etc. When I look at them, I see they are made for a slender, well shaped lady and though I would like to wear them, I would destroy them by the wearing. Each has a matching scarf that hangs with it. They are shot through with silver and gold threads like the blouses. I also feel they are too good for me. My impression is that the woman who owned them was what I would call a Grande Dame, a great lady, and I am just a peasant by comparison. I do not know why she has left her things to me, or who she was, or what to do with it all.

I find also a large clear quartz crystal, very fine, which has one of the best phantoms within it that I have ever seen. I want to hide the crystal, protect it, so I start wrapping it in a purple scarf. But the crystal seems to be getting bigger, stretching like a magician’s wand, and the scarf does not cover it, just wrapping like a ribbon decorating it. I feel anxious and want to put the crystal wand away, hide it back in the wardrobe where I found it. It is by now very large and I don’t think it will fit. Then it seems to crack, so it is possible to fold it up; the crack seems to be a sort of hinge.

The dream moves on; we are at sea and the boat is in trouble and a life boat has been sent. The sea is wild, with huge waves but as I travel on a smaller boat like a surf board or torpedo, I feel no fear even though I am deluged and thrown around.

Now, the lady herself never appears; I see only her clothes, her wardrobe and the crystal. Yet from those I have gained an impression of a woman of great taste, ability and poise as well as wisdom. What bothers me is that I know she is dead. Do archetypes die? I don’t know. If they do, I have been made inheritor. I am unfit for it. I am too bulky for her delicate, finely made clothes, though I do admire them very much. The style of the garments is not of this time but rather of a mixture of elegance from much earlier eras. Some seem to date from Regency fashions while some are Victorian and some are the kind worn in the 1920’s. Each is unique and has a quirky style that appeals to me; some are decidedly sexy and risqué though in excellent and understated taste. But nonetheless I recoil, feeling they are all too good for me.

The same goes for the crystal. It’s one of the finest specimens I have ever encountered, yet I am not able to simply accept it and keep it and use it. I feel compelled to hide it, to secrete it away somewhere out of sight. The growth of the crystal bamboozles my hopes of concealment; it becomes vast, long and impossible to hide.

I feel, as I try to analyse the content of the dream, abandoned. The great lady is gone, and I cannot contact her. I have been left with things I cannot use because I do not know how to use them or what they are for. I feel unworthy and really quite useless.

Contrast this with the final part of the dream, where though the sea is huge and threatening and I am leaving a sinking ship to be rescued by a lifeboat, I am confident of what I am doing, that the raging of wind and wave cannot affect me. I have the ultimate sea-legs and ride the smaller boat that shuttles us across, as if I were born to it. Though the boat pitches and tosses, and we are engulfed in waves like mountains of water, I remain unshakeable as if I were the carving on the prow of an old three master.

So, who is the Grande Dame, and what has she left to me?

Grey Heron as Night Falls in Paris

Grey Heron as Night Falls in Paris

The leaping of a fish makes a soft splash that would be inaudible amid the hubbub of the area around the Eiffel Tower, but for its incongruity. It’s that which makes me turn, that surprising sound of a creature entering the water, the caress of murky water on scales. Voices, sirens, footsteps, music and the general loud hum of a huge city do not drown out this silken sound, and I gaze to where ripples in the dark water radiate outwards. This is confirmation enough of the event; a second fish leaps, after insects I must assume, and the falling twilight catches for one millisecond on the slick skin. My tired mind registers the size of the leaping fish, does a swift search for a possible candidate: carp, for sure. These ponds must be receptacles for all kinds of rubbish, and carp are the most resilient of watery beings.

I turn, to focus on what I am meant to be doing, turning my back to the water. Yet as I do, out of the corner of my eye, I see her, perfectly poised and unconcerned by the tumult around:

A grey heron, feathers shades of grey and white, long beak sharp and angled ready to strike.

She watches the water, seeking her meal amid the coffee coloured murk of the city pond. I sense that she is aware of us, but is unconcerned and finds us of no relevance, and she does not turn from her fishing.

I watch for a few moments; it occurs to me that should we all vanish, the herons and the other birds and beasts, would soon take back territories that were once theirs alone.

In a city that is pushing to 11 million people, I cannot help feeling that the flora and fauna we marginalise still have more claim to the land than we do, and they live more lightly than we.

#Primeday special offer

The Moth’s Kiss (a collection of ten unsettling tales of karma, revenge and natural justice) is on offer for just 99p, 99 cents etc. Grab it quickly before it goes back to usual price.

UK link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moths-Kiss-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B00CPLPYJY/ref=la_B00766135C_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436956841&sr=1-8

US: http://www.amazon.com/Moths-Kiss-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B00CPLPYJY/ref=la_B00766135C_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436956841&sr=1-8

Rest of world: remove the dot com in the URL above and replace with your suffix (ie dot de, dot fr etc etc). Or put the title and my name into the search bar on whichever Amazon you use.

Buffering…

Buffering…

As I sit, summer is upon the British Isles and I’m doing my normal dodging the sun routine. I burn very easily, and I don’t like the feeling of sun cream so I only put it on if I am out for more than a few minutes at a time. The day they invent non-claggy, safe sun care for sensitive skins is going to be a very welcome one for pale-skins like me.

Summer usually results in a slow down for blog hits and also for many authors, a slow down in book sales. Yes, I know: people are out enjoying the summer rather than staying in reading blogs or books. Yet I have now been blogging for over six years and I have seen a change. My blog hits have slumped now to equal those of my second year of blogging, and I am sad. I have always chosen NOT to chase hits for the sake of numbers, eschewing learning SEO magic tricks and a whole host of other strategies that bring in greater and greater numbers. I don’t want that sort of engagement; I believe in serendipity, and synchronicity. I believe that people will find their way to the right articles on this blog by those avenues and not because I effectively collar them on the virtual streets, accosting them by telling them that THIS is what they were looking for.

I’ve been struggling to keep going with blogging. Not because I have nothing to say, but there is a feeling inside me that grows until it roars like an enraged tiger: hardly anyone is listening. That is not true. I know this. There are lots of people listening, and engaging. Yet the feeling is still there, and it keeps telling me to just shut up, that no one is interested. I do not know where the feeling comes from precisely, but this post is intended to try to explore it. Hence the title Buffering; often by writing down my thoughts, clarity emerges.

On one of my recent work trips I mentioned to one of the teachers that I did not understand why adults read books for the Young Adult market. The explanation was that after a long day at work, people don’t always want the effort of reading a book that demands more of the reader. They want an easy read that fulfils the need to enjoy a story without the need to wrestle with it. I cannot tell you how sad this makes me. Young adult fiction did not really exist when I was a young adult, and I probably wouldn’t have read it then anyway. Not that there is anything wrong with it, before anyone leaps down the internet to rip my throat out (virtually speaking) but because I never identified with any of the themes. I read Harry Potter because I worked with teens at the time (ditto Twilight; that’s a few hours of my life I’ll never get back.) I can’t say I didn’t enjoy HP, because I did, and it does grapple with some important ideas (though all the teen angst had me just shrugging and reminding myself I am not the target demographic.

No, it’s the fact that people are reluctant to read something that demands something of them as reader. They wish to be entertained, not enlightened. We all read for different reasons, at different times. Entertainment is essential. But then so is engagement and that’s the thing that seems (to me, anyway) that is being shied away from on a grander scale.

My own books have been described as thought-provoking, poignant and other epithets that unfortunately have become almost the kiss of death for books at the moment. Combined with the vast ocean of material on sale, is it not inevitable that their appeal is limited?

I’ve become also terribly weary of the effort of trying to sell my books. There are hundreds of blogs, tips, tweets and even books that explore new (yeah, right!) ways of reaching readers. One might spend all day following these ideas and yet never sell a book. Things that worked six months ago may well not work now, and with tens if not hundreds of thousands of authors exploring every possible method, each method soon becomes stale. In my view, the thing that is crucial is the loyalty of readership, of having readers who love your work, share it and talk about it. I know that I seldom ever buy a book based on a single tweet, but do because of personal recommendation.

I now believe that one of the things that keeps me from just saying Bubbles to it and going and growing marrows like Poirot in his retirement, are my readers. Wonderful people who ask me when the sequel to The Bet is coming out, who tell me how much Away With The Fairies helped them through a dark time, who comment on this blog and whose words of kindness have often brought me back from the brink of quitting.

I’ve realised also that the yawning maw of social media is something that has had a weird effect on my writing. I want the instant approval and acclaim when I write something, and I’ve had to step back from it all. I’ve taken to old technology for first drafts: pen and ink and Moleskine notebooks, so that I am not using a keyboard a whisker away from being on Facebook, hearing its siren song and the plink of someone messaging me. Truth is, I’m terribly lonely at times and my friends in social media world are a huge comfort to me. But from time to time my other friends, the ones who live in my head and not in my computer screen, will sometimes talk to me and their voices are quieter, like overhearing voices in the next room. So to hear them, I need to go into that next room and sit with them. The constant demands of the perceived career path of an independent author are getting in the way of me actually being an author.

I’m not sure where to go from here. My biggest hitting blog posts tend to be the ones that are about writing; I imagine they’re read mostly by other authors looking for tips or wishing to express solidarity. The next biggest are the ones about mental health. The ones that garner least visits are the poetry ones, which again tells me something interesting. Ones I write about my books vary hugely; I’m reluctant to write those often because I can just hear those voices in my head sighing and bitching Oh enough already about your wretched books.

I know I can write. I’ve always know that’s what I should do with my life, yet writing for a diminishing market is getting me down because my faith in myself and my path is easily shaken. In theory it should not matter to me if I sell no more books, ever. But it does matter to me, and for more than just money. My worth as an author is inevitably measured by external agencies by the number of books sold. It tends to be among the first five questions people ask you when they find you are an author: how many books have you sold? It’s intrinsically wrong that this is so, but then it is as it is.

Anyway, I’ve postponed the release of the book of essays till early autumn because summer is a rubbish time for a book launch for anything that isn’t a beach read or an airplane book. Depression and the Art of Tightrope Walking is in the final stages of a final polish before release. I’ve had the sequel to The Bet printed out by our local stationery shop, to start a proof read. It needs a concept for cover art before I can even think about contacting my last cover artist and I’m stumped to find anything. The title, by the way is One Immortal Diamond (but that could change). I’ve been plugging away with other stuff as well, usually longhand but some on the computer. One work-in-progress slipped past the 50k words mark and I’m pleased with it so far. There’s life in this old dog, but I’ve learned too many new tricks in the last years to have the energy for more. In the end, I’m just a writer and more than that is expected of me (marketing executive, publisher, formatter, social media expert etc etc) and they are all getting in the way of me actually being able to do the thing I am good at.

#AskELJames: The Poignant & Profitable Martyrdom of E.L. James

Viv:

An excellent and sane post I’d like to share with you all.

Originally posted on The Order of Turbulence:

CHzU1xkVAAAMl90Roman emperors knew a thing or two about how to keep a population happy: bread and circuses. They built a coliseum to do it, complete with cringing Christians and half-starved, rabid lions.

While most of the media fans itself, disingenuous and titillated, over the delicious #AskELJames Twitter Slaughter, there are PR executives high-fiving each other over a brilliant marketing strategy.

Do you honestly believe that E.L. James’s new offering ‘Grey’ would be garnering the kind of press attention in the Independent, The NY Daily News, The Mirror, Huffington Post, Time, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, yeah, you get the idea.

Ms James is not a PR newbie, and neither is her publisher. Lord knows they can afford the very best when it comes to social media strategists. And any competent social media public relations person worth their fee could have told you exactly…

View original 570 more words

Summer is for reading…

Summer is for reading…

On average I read about two books a week. That takes into account the times when I don’t read much at all and those times when you can’t prise my fingers away from the book. I’ve been reading a lot of non fiction recently, working my way through various Jungian tomes, plus everything from Dion Fortune I can get my hands upon. I’ve also rediscovered Dennis Wheatley. My mother in law mentioned being so scared by The Haunting of Toby Jugg she couldn’t sleep (and never finished the book either) that I bought a second hand copy and roared through it. In the decades since the height of his fame, people have forgotten what a great storyteller he was and how superb he could be at hooking the reader into the story. I’ve ordered a second hand copy of one of his most famous novels but I intend to read it in broad day light. I found Toby Jugg a good read but it didn’t scare me much. I have strong nerves when it comes to the supernatural.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few gems I’ve enjoyed recently.

The first is Can of Worms by Paul Trembling.  This is an excellent book if you enjoy forensic/police procedural novels; it carries a ring of psychological truth that most such books don’t. Which is one reason why I seldom read them; the characters are too often card board cut outs and lack depth and reality.

Second I read ages ago but still love: Walker by Jane Alexander. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s labelled Young Adult (don’t get me started on this unnatural distinction created by genre-making publishers). The main character might be a teen age boy but the novel is one I think adults interested in shamanic ideas may well find enthralling. The plot draws you in and keeps you reading till the end comes only too quickly.

Third, again something I read ages back, Educating the Human by Kay Sluterbeck.  I’d call it soft sci fi but as a gentle, very human read that explores all sorts of things such as a sentient house, it’s a read that doesn’t go in for dog fights in the stars or violence.

Still on the sci fi, there’s Return of the Sagan by Neil O Donnell Harder edged sci fi, this has a main character who suffers with OCD. The novel explores what it means to be human in a space age setting; I found it touching how movies and books (like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings) from our era had become classics that people referred to much as we might reference Shakespeare. I’m not a huge sci fi fan, but I enjoyed this because I was really rooting for Francis, the hero of the story, that he might overcome both his external and internal challenges.

Next, two books in a series by Ailsa Abraham.  Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum explore our world in the not-too-distant future, where the original organised religions have been banned from being practised in public. When I first came across the idea for these books, I was rather concerned, but in the context of the novels, the reasons and the results are revealed. I especially liked the two main characters Iamo and Riga.

I’ve already recommended Philippa Rees’s Involution but if you fancy tackling her other published work, A Shadow in Yucatan , I’d recommend that highly. Beautiful poetry weaves a very poignant and powerful novel. Read it aloud to yourself lying in a hammock on a hot day. I have beta read Philippa’s unpublished novel that isn’t poetry this time and I hope that one day it’ll be released too. She has a knack of writing deep stuff in a lighter manner than is sometimes exquisitely funny.

Anything by Gev Sweeney is a good read too. I read Beethoven’s Wife in Austria in February and loved it.

A final book, but one I haven’t read. Richard Pierce has written several excellent novels. Dead Men was short listed for the Guardian first book award, and it’s an excellent novel. However, in the wake of yet another fifty shades of cough cough cough, if you were looking for something a bit racy, then Richard’s book The Failed Assassin  might be right up your street. It’s not a genre I read but the reviews look good; it’s billed as an erotic thriller. Give it a go if that’s your thing. If you like a mystery, then his Bee Bones  is a good read too.

I’ll add at the very end that The Bet is currently on special offer (see previous post) for just 99p. Or £1.99 if you’re watching this on Dave. (UK readers will get that joke; for everyone else, I apologise!)

Have a wonderful summer reading.