So that folks in the USA don’t feel left out, Away With The Fairies will be on countdown from today, for 120 hours at 99 cents first and then at $1.99, then at $2.99 before going back to its original price of $3.99 on the 10th of December. I don’t think I have put this on sale in the USA before, so I shall be very interested to see what happens.
Today is National Poetry Day.
For those who like or even love poetry this is a day when people quote favourite lines from poems, or post their own.
In honour of the day, Accidental Emeralds is now only 77p ($1.25 in the US) for the Kindle version.
It’ll be this price for around 24 hours before returning to normal price. The paperback is still £5 and jolly pretty it is too:
For all other Kindle marketplaces, replace the dot co or dot com with dot whatever yours is ( dot fr dot in etc) and the rest of the URL should remain the same.
Happy Birthday, Strangers and Pilgrims!
As May ticked over into June, I realised that this month marks three years since I launched Strangers and Pilgrims as a Kindle book. Prior to that it had been available as a paperback for around a year or so, selling a few copies but generally just sitting there. I’d had people ask was I going to put it out as an e-book and I’d said yes, yes, of course and had done nothing. Circumstances at the time meant I didn’t do so until a shift occurred that caused me much hurt, upset and grief, and as a way of reassuring myself of my worth as a writer, I set to and launched Strangers and Pilgrims again, as an e-book.
When it was first launched, I know I was far from ready to publish. The book was, but I wasn’t. It’s hard to explain why without raking up past pain, but it wasn’t until June three years ago that I was able to face making a book available to the Kindle market which barely existed when I wrote the book. There’s something tender and vulnerable about releasing a book and Strangers & Pilgrims is dear to me. As I explained in my post about revisiting it after a long period unable to even look at it, it’s a book that touches people. The majority have loved it. It’s been sharing page space with some very famous books and very illustrious authors in the various Kindle charts for such genres as metaphysical and visionary fiction, as well as in personal transformation. In a small way it seems to have become a kind of a classic.
In the first year it was out on Kindle, it sold steadily and it continues to sell, though not in the numbers is did a year or two back. When I’d first launched it, as a paperback, there had been naïve talk about it somehow going viral and becoming a worldwide success. Naive on my side, I think; perhaps a bit more delusional on the part of the other person. I don’t know. I’m a realist. I’ve always felt that the chances of any book becoming one of those unstoppable hits are very small indeed, but like with the Lottery, at least buy a ticket! Putting Strangers and Pilgrims onto Kindle was like buying a ticket. There’s still a chance of it becoming that international best-selling sensation, but you know, the fact that it’s been read by a few thousand people (perhaps three thousand or so; I’ve stopped counting obsessively now) is a HUGE thing for me. It’s not a beach read or a blockbuster thriller and the fact that it’s reached that many people is amazing to me. Literary-ish fiction is horribly hard to sell independently; the folks who like literary fiction tend not to be Kindle users and are those who love books made of paper rather than pixels.
I’ve been asked numerous times if there will be a sequel and for a long while I toyed with it. I let the idea go, after writing a few chapters. Nothing seemed to shine; ideas flared briefly like a match struck in a dark cave before dying back into darkness. Then, a few weeks ago, a scene came to me that I had to write and I wrote it. I think that the long term effects of my late and unlamented parathyroid tumour meant that ideas just fizzled and died, and I lacked the necessary mental agility needed to link ideas and characters and plots. Now I am recovering (other stuff going on but…) I hope that the mental progress I’ve seen will continue and books will get finished. The sequel is about ten thousand words down so far. I have no idea when (or even if) I will finish it, but for those who felt the ending of Strangers & Pilgrims was a tiny bit too neat, there were threads left hanging that mean some things will be coming unravelled. (No spoilers here).
Anyway, three years old (we won’t count the first, damaged birth) and still touching lives, here’s to Strangers and Pilgrims and many thanks to everyone who has read and loved the book.
(If you have read and enjoyed the book, but haven’t left a review, I’d be extremely grateful if you would consider doing so. Reviews seem to generate interest and activity.)
Everywhere else, replace the .com in the URL with whichever suffix your country uses ie .de .ca and the rest of the URL stays the same.
For a limited time only, The Bet will be available at 99p only. The price goes up first to £1.99 and then back to the original (and very reasonable price) of £2.94.
I’ve not used the Countdown programme before so this is very much an experiment. Please pass this offer on if you can, buy the book, tweet and share.
Today is Candlemas or Imbolc, as well as the 1st of February. It’s the day when people celebrated the very first signs of spring. Imbolc or Oilmelc means sheep’s milk and it is indeed at this time of year that the first lambs are born (some are already born!) and the flow of milk really starts. It’s also the time when we start to notice the return of the light; indeed Alfred the Great decreed that after this day no candles were to be used at milking either morning or evening. In theory there is now light enough for this twice daily task.
It’s one of those new beginning kind of days. About five years ago I went to a ceremony where one was supposed to set one’s intent for the year ahead and while I giggled through a lot of it, I in my turn marched to the centre with my lit candle and declared my intent for the year to be invincible. This provoked much comment later at coffee after the ceremony, but I’ve never changed from that intent and I’d like to reaffirm my decision to let nothing permanently discourage me!
So over the last few days, in preparation for today I wondered what to do. I’d had a thought for releasing some short stories and I decided to just go for it. All my other ebooks I have had my beloved at hand helping me get something sorted, and this time I decided I shall do it without assistance and maintain my invincible stance.
It turned out not to be as hard as I feared.
There are six stories in this little collection, some familar to long term readers of this blog and one completely new. All the tales are spun around a theme of ancient beings, whether deities, demi-gods, archetypes or others, somehow still interacting with the modern world, and with modern people.
I’ve had to classify it in fantasy and fairytales because I couldn’t think of anywhere better to list it! I’ve also priced it as low as it is possible to price it.
I should mention that if you don’t own an e-reader, you can download a Kindle app for free and then can read a Kindle book on any pc, tablet or even on your phone.
Anyway this is my wish for this Spring for myself: to be invincible still.
(If you are in another country that has Amazon, put my name into the search and you ought to find the book there. I don’t really expect to sell any in non-English speaking countries, though!)
I don’t usually post on a Sunday unless I have something to share that is special and this is VERY special. Away with the Fairies has been out a little while now and reviews have been popping up on Amazon, making me dance round like a lunatic, but today, this lovely review appeared on a blog. I’m chuffed to bits with this, so a big thank you to the blogger, Gordon Bonnet.
Go and have a read.
Interview with Isobel..
As a writer, I meet some extraordinary people in the course of my work and I get to write their stories for them. Of all the people who have appeared in my books, Isobel Trelawny, whom you may know from Away With The Fairies, has appeared in more tales than anyone else. She’s played best supporting actress in several but she’s the star of Away With The Fairies and today she’s agreed to sit down with me and have a bit of a chat. We’ve got the coffee, but instead of Isobel’s favourite biscuits, (chocolate Hob-Nobs), I’ve only been able to find some ginger snaps.
Viv: I hope the biscuits aren’t too much of a let down.
Isobel (laughing; she does this quite a bit). That’s OK, I’m cool with ginger biccies.
Viv: I’m glad to hear that! Anyway, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.
Isobel: It’s a pleasure. Gets me a bit of space in my day, to be honest.
Viv: I gather that can be quite a problem, yes?
Isobel: Well, I know your family is grown up now, but I’m sure you remember how much hard work small children are. Miranda, my oldest, is alarmingly bright and I have to be up to the mark all the time. Luke’s much more laid-back about life. And simply finding the mental space to day dream rather than doing things all the time is really hard. I’m often so knackered by the time the kids are in bed, I really don’t have the energy to paint, or even think.
Viv: You weren’t sure you’d be able to have kids, as I recall?
Isobel: True, which makes me feel guilty about whinging about them when I do. I had a series of miscarriages when Mickey and I first got married. There wasn’t an explanation; there was nothing wrong, as far as the quacks could see. I just kept losing them early on. Then some years later, I woke up one morning not only knowing I was pregnant but also being fairly sure this one would go to term.
Viv: Your parents died when you were pregnant with Luke. How did that affect you?
Isobel (laughing again) You know damn well how it affected me! OK, well, I was shocked and then I was angry. I’d not had a good relationship with them, to be honest. I felt (and I had good evidence about this) that they neither of them approved of me and my life choices very much. I was just at the point in my life when I felt it might be possible for them to start approving of me when they killed themselves. I don’t think anyone really knows how they truly feel about their parents till they’re gone. I certainly didn’t. I didn’t know how ill they both had been. I’d kept them at arms’ length for years, avoiding anything that might bring out any emotional reaction. And when they were gone, suddenly, like that, I couldn’t process it. I was heavily pregnant and people kept telling me to relax and not get upset and so on. Oh and “Think of the baby!” So it was a while later before I could start to even think about it all. By then, you see, people assume you’ve done your grieving and you’re tickety-boo. But I wasn’t. Far from it. I was pretty much at breaking point and yet, I simply didn’t know it. It was killing that deer with the car that was the tipping point that meant I couldn’t go on pretending any longer.
Viv: I know. Since the events of Away With The Fairies, you’ve had some more tough things to deal with, so it does seem a long, and ongoing process.
Isobel: I think what’s gone on since then has been long overdue. I’ve got a streak of wildness that I thought I had under control but it seems not. I’ve always soared from extremes to extremes but never quite as devastatingly as this.
Viv: Now, your husband Mickey is a clergyman. Looking at you, you seem a long way from any clergy wife of popular but horribly dated sterotypes. (Isobel has henna’d hair, wears ripped and paint smeared jeans, and a rather wonderful amber necklace that matches her eyes. She talks very fast and with a lot of hand gestures; she’s a comfortable person to be around but she’s not prim and certainly not proper) How much impact does his job have on you?
Isobel: Too much, sometimes. The doorbell and the phone never stop bloody ringing. Oh don’t get me wrong, generally, the vast majority of folks aren’t a problem, but once in a while, I get people making a big deal of the fact that I don’t do anything in church. I don’t get involved in groups or lead anything. The fact that I turn up at all is a miracle some times. My best friend Chloe is a very rare sight in any church, and her husband and Mickey trained together.
Viv: I’ve met Chloe too. Given what she went through at college, I’m not surprised.
Isobel: I feel mildly guilty at times about that. The events of her final year at the vicar factory which ended with her breaking her leg every which way but Sunday were partly down to me. My wild, rebellious streak got out of hand and poor Chloe was the one who got hurt badly. I don’t think she’s ever blamed me, but I do sometimes blame myself.
Viv: I’m sorry to hear it. I know the story and I think whatever you and Chloe had done, it would have ended badly. Possibly worse. Now, you were able to buy a small place in the country where you could paint. I’m having trouble with my writing and I’d love to spend some time at your cottage. Is it really so spooky as you said?
Isobel: It can be scary, which might be me understating it rather a lot. But it rather depends what baggage you go with. My friend Antony spent some time there a while ago. But apart from stopping his mobile phone working, nothing happened that time. More recently, he stayed, and some deep issues he’d not been able to deal with began to surface. It’s one of those places that has a foot in both realms. In the ordinary, everyday world, it’s a slightly run down, rather picturesque hideaway. But it’s also a place that stands on the edge of the other world, the world of beings that we seldom interact with, and that can be tough to deal with.
Viv: You’re talking about the fairies now?
Isobel: (grinning now) I suppose I am!
Viv: You’re a pretty pragmatic sort of person from what I know of you, and you’re not at all one of these New Age believe-anything women. So, far as I can see, you’re not the most likely candidate for getting caught up with the whole concept of fairies. Can you tell me what they’re like?
Isobel: I can tell you what they’re not. They’re not anything like what you see in modern depictions of fairies. There’s no glitter or pretty-pretty faces. None of the sparkly magic and so on you see in both kids’ books and the New Age ones you referred to. They’re…..well, primeval is the only word I can think of. Earthy. They’re not what you think and they’re not what you expect. I’m not even convinced I understand them myself.
Viv: OK, and that brings me to a hard question. How does any of what you experienced in the cottage square with your faith?
Isobel: That IS a hard question. I’m not sure how to answer it. Churchianity tries to give nice neat answers to life’s tough questions and it gets cross and burns people at the stake for refusing to accept those neat answers as all that there is. I don’t believe we can know all the answers, but that we have to keep asking the questions anyway, even after we think we know the answers. Certain branches of Churchianity would tell me that my parents are burning in hell for committing suicide, that by that one act after two good, caring lives they damned themselves forever. And yet, I came to see that their deaths were possibly the most noble things they’d ever done.
Viv: Churchianity? I like that term!
Isobel: So do I. The thing is, God is not bound by human rules and that sadly is what many churches have sought to do: bind God by their rules. That’s like trying to cage the air, and make it obey your rules. Anyway, enough God-talk.
(She’s looking a bit uncomfortable about this, so I think it’s time to move the conversation to something else.)
Viv: OK, so tell me about your painting, your art?
Isobel: That’s tough. Hmm. Let me think. OK, I don’t have your way with words, but I think I paint my stories. You write yours, but I have to paint them. I paint the things I see and I feel inside my head, and I try to use that to tell the greater narrative of life. I can only paint a tiny section of it and hope that it adds to the greater picture somewhere.
Viv: I certainly feel you succeed with it, as much as any of us can. Anyway, can you sum up for us your experiences?
Isobel: You do go for asking the tough questions! I’ll try. Hmmm. Perhaps it’s best to say that there are more things that we don’t know that that we do, and to be open-minded about the world and not get bogged down with dogmatic answers to life’s big questions. Oh and love your family with all your strength. That’s something too easy to forget, that the love you share with family and friends is not an automatic right that’ll be there forever. People die and they don’t always give you any warning of it. So tell those you love that you love them. I never got a chance to tell my mum and dad I loved them until they were gone. Don’t make my mistake.
Viv: Thank you very much indeed, Isobel. I’d like to wish you luck with your continued exploration of the world through your art.
Isobel: It’s a pleasure. Now, do you think we can sneak off for a glass of wine somewhere? I’m parched!
Viv: Sure, but you’re buying!
Lulu paperback (will be on both Amazon sites in time)
(The events with Chloe will be appearing in a new book this year, titled, Square Peg. From the title I suspect you can guess that one of the themes is not fitting in and being uncomfortable about it. I’ll let you know when it’s ready. Many of the characters in my books appear or connect with other characters in other books, so you can often meet new people and familiar ones in surprising places.)
Announcing my new baby ~ Introducing Away With The Fairies
I’ve been away for a fortnight on holiday (more of that soon) but the day before we headed off, I hit the publish button for my new book. I’ve had limited and sporadic internet access, not to mention not a lot of time to go online, and when I did try to write a blog post with my net-book, both WordPress and my net-book refused to play and only allowed me to post a photo. So this fanfare-and-trumpets post has had to wait till I got home again and had the time and the technology to write a suitable “press release” for it.
That said, the small amount of publicity I was able to give it has
resulted in sales, which made me grin like the Cheshire Cat.
So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to…..Away With The Fairies. Originally entitled Fish Out of Water, I wrote this novel
some years back and it was one that very nearly landed me a
publishing contract. It landed me an agent, too, who proved to stink
like rotting fish, metaphorically speaking and who threw me out of
the keeping net when he failed after a few tries to find a publisher
to take it on. Since I have changed the name, the fishing metaphors
need to be dropped…sorry, I could never resist a bad pun.
The following is the synopsis of the novel:
Irrepressible artist Isobel has survived most things. She’s coped with everything from a sequence of miscarriages, her husband’s ordination, the birth of two small and demanding children, and finally the recent death of both her parents in a bizarre suicide pact. She’s managed to bounce back from everything so far. A sequence of domestic disasters finally signals to Isobel that perhaps things aren’t
quite as rosy as she’d like. With her half of the inheritance,
Isobel buys an isolated holiday cottage where she hopes to be able to catch up with some painting, as well as have the occasional holiday.
The cottage is idyllic, beautiful and inspiring, but odd things keep
happening. Doors won’t stay shut, objects go missing and reappear
in the wrong places and footsteps are heard when there’s no one
there. One of Isobel’s new neighbours suggests that it is the
fairies who are responsible, but Isobel is more than a tad sceptical:
there’s not a hint of glitter or tinselly wings or magic wands.
Isobel’s inner turmoil begins to spill over into her daily life when she hits a deer while driving back from the cottage. Her family hold crisis
talks, deciding that she needs to have time alone in the cottage to
get over long repressed grief and to paint it out of her system. As
she works at frenetic pace, the odd happenings begin to increase
until even Isobel’s rational, sceptical mind has to sit up and take
notice. And that’s when she gets really scared. Up until now, her
motto has been that there’s nothing in life that can’t be made
better by a cup of tea and some Hob Nobs. This time it’s beginning
to look like it’ll take more than even chocolate biscuits to make
I’ve long believed in the existence of fairies, but defining precisely
what I mean by fairies is hard. Beings that inhabit our world but are
not human is possibly the simplest definition and it encompasses all
the possibilities from a pygmy race of primitive humans (like the now
extinct Homo Floresiensis), to spirits of the dead and to the devas
that guard the natural world. Folk-lore and literature are packed
with stories and anecdotes about the fairies(also spelled faeries; I
chose the modern spelling deliberately to ensure I kept the story
firmly in this century) and like ghosts the subject divides people
between believers and sceptics. I’m cool with that.
Isobel is very close to my heart; in some respects she’s the me I’d like to have been: capable, rational, practical and pragmatic but with a streak of artistic madness that can drive her like a demon. She
played “best supporting actress” in another novel that pre-dates
this one, set when Isobel’s husband is at theological college and she
teams up with the rebellious Chloe to play merry hell with the staid
and bigoted wives at the college. She also appears in two other
novels as a pretty vital character, but Away With The Fairies is
Isobel’s own unique story.
The book is available right now from Amazon Kindle US, Amazon Kindle UK (also the Amazon sites for France and Germany but I can’t see it being a big seller in non-English speaking countries) and will be
available as a paperback from both Amazons in due course. It is
already on sale at Lulu, and will be listed on Amazon in due course.
Likewise it will be listed for Nook and in the iStore at some stage.
For those of you who do not possess a Kindle yet, it is possible to
download a Kindle app for your pc or Mac and then download a free
sample to read. My husband doesn’t yet have a Kindle but he uses
Kindle for pc and buys and reads books on his laptop.
Anyway, one final thing. The cover art was done by the very talented Andrew Meek whose book I will be reviewing soon. The image was suggested by our very own Wherearetheheroes, and he has a mention in the acknowledgements for reminding me of the very striking description of one of Isobel’s paintings. I am so very grateful to both you guys for your help and support.
In my Twitter bio I set out to sum myself up in as few words as possible and managed to get it down to only four: Writer, Poet, Explorer, Mystic. To some degree all of these are slightly tongue in cheek but the one that needs most explanation is Explorer.
The word conjures up an image of a man in a pith helmet, wielding a machete and followed by native(of where ever) guides bearing parcels on their heads or on poles. Or possibly Ray Mears. It certainly
doesn’t conjure up a slightly overweight, forty-something English
teacher with slight tendencies to agoraphobia and a big problem with
depression and anxiety. To be an explorer requires courage, curiosity
and a fair measure of recklessness. People in real life would say the
only one of the three I have in abundance is curiosity. I’m one of
life’s natural wimps. I don’t even like travelling. But as fate(ha!)
would have it, I’ve ended up in not one but two jobs that require me
to travel. For the non teaching job I often travel to places I’ve
never been before, and show other people around. I discovered (to my surprise) I have a good sense of direction, and if you drop me in a foreign town I can usually find my way round quite quickly.
That’s not to say that going somewhere totally new doesn’t fill me with sudden and almost paralysing dread; it does. But I get through that. Preparation is the key, not to mention dear old Google.
But that’s just one aspect of exploration. These days, exploration of the physical world is a tame thing, filled with Rough Guides and blogs.
There aren’t many people who hack through unknown jungles to get to lost tribes; the lost tribes are usually wearing Reboks by the time
you get there. The physical world has shrunk; exploration is not the
same. Good job I was never aiming to be a real explorer; I’d be
weeping for more worlds to conquer by now.
Research has shown that our tastes in music, food, experiences have fossilised before the age of around thirty. It explains why parents seldom like their children’s music. We stick to what we know, what we’ve already tried, in so many things. But me, I’d got bored of books. Really, really bored.
Anyone who has ever visited my home will be shocked at that because apart from dust and cat fluff, books is what I have the very most of. Every available wall is covered with bookshelves, often double parked. The only rooms without permanent books are the bathroom and kitchen and then only for obvious practical reasons. I love books. I love everything about them (but the need to dust occasionally). So people were a bit surprised when I asked for a Kindle for my birthday. I was a bit surprised by it myself, to be honest. After three months, I am convinced it was an excellent move.
Let me tell you why.
I’d stopped buying books.
Yes, this book lover had been walking into bookshops that ten years ago I’d have come out of laden with books. For the last few years, it had become a rare event that I bought books. Or even borrowed them. Don’t get me wrong, I bought a few. And was almost universally disappointed.
Books had stopped thrilling me, surprising and delighting me. They gave me a sense of ennui beyond mere boredom. I was actually sick of them.The Kindle has changed all that.
One of the things I noticed quickly was that the books by my previously favourite authors were still often almost as expensive as the hard copies. There is no reason why this should be so. An e-book costs virtually nothing to distribute. As an independent author myself I have opinions about the whole sea-change in the publishing world, but basically the e-book means that authors can now reach readers without the intervening publisher getting in the way. They’re not subject to anyone saying “You can’t do that,” or “That doesn’t sell” or
“That’s not what readers want.” I had a novel rejected almost at
the last stage because the editor felt that there needed to be
payback for the baddies(I simplify) for what they did to the heroine.
I disagreed. Real life rarely provides neat solutions and
resolutions; closure is seldom forthcoming. Mark Twain once said
that truth is stranger than fiction and he was so right. Real life is
so strange and unpredictable and the fiction I’d been reading was
just that: predictable. It had become formulaic, to the point that
even if I didn’t guess the ending, I knew all the stages. It followed
the fads and fashions of the literary world to such an extent that
even reading the blurb was making me nauseous.
Where oh where was originality and daring? Where was risk-taking and being controversial? I’m not talking about the now-endless books about child abuse and rape. I’m talking about simply letting a story take you where it wants to go, not where the dictates of literary mores would have it go. I’m talking about Story as a living, breathing
symbiont of the writer, where templates, character outlines plot
conventions and other cookie cutters are instruments of vivisection
Welcome to the world of the independents. Welcome to a whole new universe of possibilities. Sure, some will be rubbish. But so is James Patterson.
I’m going to be reviewing books I discover, and sharing my favourites. By and large they won’t be about already famous authors (except in a few cases) even though in terms of blog hits, those would bring me many. My post about Susan Howatch is my highest hitting post of all time. No, that’s not what this blog is about. I want to showcase those brilliant and brave authors who don’t have a Juggernaut of a publishing house behind them, or a phalanx of marketing experts whispering advice at every turn.
So coming soon(in no particular order of merit) will be:
“Anomaly” by Thea Atkinson (the very first book on Kindle I actually paid for, having got hooked by the sample.)
“The Butchered Man” by Harriet Smart
Those are just my starters. If you have an suggestions for must-read
indies, please let me know. Being semi-fossilised already, I really
REALLY dislike romance, not keen on fantasy(though I have
enjoyed some) and classic chick-lit (of the shopping, shoes and sex
variety) generally has me reaching for the razor blades.
Anyway, I hope you will set sail for new seas and start exploring a strange new world of literature that didn’t exist even a few years ago. This kind of exploring doesn’t involve insect repellent, native guides or
Montezuma’s revenge (or Delhi belly even) but it has a risk all of
its own that you might not like:
It may open your mind.
It’s been a long delay but I have finally managed to get Strangers and Pilgrims up on Kindle.
So for those who have been delaying till this deed was done, the wait is now over.
I am quietly chuffed to bits about this, and now I’ve figured this one out, it’ll be a shorter wait till the next ones come out.
And also now at the iStore: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/strangers-pilgrims/id438492308?mt=11