Sunday, 2 April 2017

What do you call a group of authors? A look at collective nouns



It’s usually at a pub quiz that we find ourselves delving deep into our minds for the various strange terms used for a group of something. Many we may recall quickly, such as a murder of crows or an unkindness of ravens, but I imagine most people would be unaware of the many unusual, descriptive and humorous words associated with these gatherings of animals. Even less would have any idea of their origins.

It was in the 15th century that gentlemen were in the pursuit of leisurely pleasures, namely hunting and fishing. The book to turn to at the time was the Book of St. Albans printed in 1486, with its sections on hawking, hunting and heraldry. It is believed that the book was written by a nun, Dame Juliana Berners, who was also referred to as the First Lady of fly fishing. The book was popular and the colourful collective nouns she assigned to animals are still in use today, such as a pride of lions and a gaggle of geese. Others such as a shrewdness of apes has not enjoyed the same popularity. In all, 164 collective nouns were listed in the book under “The Compaynys of Beestys and Fowlys” which also included people: A gaggle of women, an abominable sight of monks.

With popularity being the key to a collective noun’s survival, there have been many attempts to create them for our modern world. In 1991 James Lipton wrote “An exaltation of larks,” a compendium of these nouns that had long been established in our language, even for inanimate objects. (A flight of stairs, A quiver of arrows)

Last year, I posed a question on Twitter asking what the collective noun for authors was. The response was amazing with many brilliant suggestions, and where I was introduced to the hashtag #moderncollectivenouns. Well worth a look, but in the meantime here are my favourite picks for authors:

A publication of authors
A block of authors
A ream of authors
An epigram of authors.

And my own contribution: A solitude of authors. Please feel free to list your own suggestions. 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Taking time to talk Twitter.

As an Indie author, much of what I've learned has come by trial and error, by following advice and experience, and by giving it a go. Four years later, I'm still learning, but I feel confident enough to share bits and pieces of what has worked for me. One of the topics that comes up frequently in forums is in how to use Twitter for marketing books.

This is one of those areas in which I've found a formula that works for me. No, I don't have thousands of followers, but the ones I have are greatly appreciated and I do my best to give them some entertaining and informative posts. According to my Twitter stats, I average about 9000 impressions a week. I don't use any programs to attract followers, and maybe I should, but I like it this way. So these are a few rules I've made for myself:

I don't always follow back. Those I do follow back are usually other authors, indie filmmakers, writers, writing bloggers or anyone who has a Twitter feed that interests me. I take time to check out anyone who follows me and I will decide then if I want to follow. If I do follow back, I try to greet with a retweet.  

I will retweet for mostly anyone who retweets my posts, whether I follow them or not. There are several wonderful authors who don't follow me, but from time to time tweet my books. When they do, I retweet their books or blog post or pinned tweet. That is my thank you for their kindness. If you tweet my posts, you have a 95% chance of me tweeting for you. Can't stand a twitter feed where the only posts are authors advertising their own work and no-one else's. 

I support New Zealand authors and writers in all genres. Not all of them follow me back, but as a New Zealander, I want to support the craft I love so much and expose the talent we have in this country, along with some breath-taking scenery. 

I don't expect everyone to follow me back or tweet my books. I often tweet erotic, sexual and other topics and images that may not be everyone's cup of tea. I certainly don't expect a children's author to tweet my books.

I will advertise my books. While I endeavour to keep my posts interesting, while supporting my fellow tweeter, I'm here for business as well as pleasure and I love showing off my books. 

I mostly avoid politics, religion and any other topic that seeks an opinion. Occasionally there will be a cause near and dear to my heart, and I will have my say, but I'm not on Twitter to engage in arguments or unkindness to any individual.

I will try to keep hashtags to a maximum of three, but no promises. Hashtags get your posts noticed and like I said, I'm in this for the business as well. Also I like playing hashtag games on Twitter. 

Have a pinned retweet that will display your best work. Change it up every couple of months. 

Always make sure your URLS work before you post a tweet.

If you never retweet for others and only tweet your own stuff, why would you expect any one to engage with you, unless you're a celebrity whose fans hang on every word. I tweet more for others than I do my own promos. 

My Twitter profile has a link to my Amazon author page. 


So here you have the few basic rules I follow and a couple of tips. When it comes to marketing books, Twitter has proven to be the most successful in all my social media platforms. If you aren't finding it effective, take time to see if you are supporting your fellow tweeter. Support me and I will support you. #selfpub #indieauthor #bookmarketing 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Researching: Writing what you don't know

I've been writing stories since I was a child, when my knowledge of the world was minimal, and so I had to draw on the writer's greatest tool, imagination. I didn't let boring elements, such as facts and reality, get in my way and my stories were exciting. It wasn't until I was much older that I learned that there were supposedly 'rules' around writing that 'good' authors followed to be successful. Many of them I had been using without knowing their significance, such as structure and showing not telling, but one rule really bothered me: Write what you know.
What a boring rule. Now at the age of 50 plus, I do know a great deal about the world, but that knowledge is still limited, too limited for what I want to write. If my stories were to be tethered by what I knew, then what was the good of having imagination? That rule was quickly crossed out for me. I have a good brain and I intended to use it to learn about the things I didn't know.




When I wrote MASTER I had already determined that my main character was from Ukraine, a country I had little knowledge of. In fact the whole story would be set there and in the year 1995. My research began with the firm resolution to be as factual as possible, as if I had lived there. Writing my story began with months of reading everything about Ukraine, from history to culture. I went on forums and chatted with Ukrainians who were only too happy to set me straight about anything I wasn't certain about. This research also helped enormously in plot development, being able to incorporate historical facts into my story and give it a whole new level of reality. Because of the time frame my story was set in, I had to match facts up with how those elements would have worked in 1995 Ukraine. It wasn't easy, and I was exhausted by the time Master was published. The readers loved it and recognised the work that had gone into it, but they wanted more. They wanted a sequel. It didn't help that I had made my protagonist a super genius computer hacker.
It took 19 months to release SINS OF THE MASTER after an exhaustive study of hacking, computers, politics and many other elements.
To date, no-one has challenged me on anything in these books, but I will admit to a few areas where I took poetic licence and used my imagination, but never at the expense of undoing my plot by blatant ignorance. My advice to aspiring authors is to respect what you write and respect the intelligence of your readers. Do your research, but don't ever be afraid of venturing out into the unknown. It's a big exciting world and our stories shouldn't be bound by what we've experienced, but rather by what we are willing to learn.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Vulnerable

Having lived with anxiety disorder for over twenty years, writing has been a great friend. It allows me something to turn to during the dark hours and helps me explore the emotions and confusion I often feel. While I essentially write books, I have found poetry to be something that allows me to focus. This is one I want to share for #WorldMentalHealthDay

Vulnerable
Once I was a warrior, equipped to be on the front lines of life.
Now I step up naked on the battlefield, walled in by doubt.
My only defense is your mercy, my only weapon is silence.
When the demons are pulling upon the strings in my mind
I can only wait until they tire of their cruelty,
And abandon me like a cat with a sparrow,
Coldly watching my efforts to take flight again.
But my allies rally and I draw from their strength
Believing my victory is certain
And with this belief I advance on the front,
The laurels of achievement awaiting me.
But the battle is short lived, and uncertainty like a crane-swing returns.
My war cry becomes a suppliant blubber
And my jaw droops for want of breath.
As my heart hammers upon an anvil of fear.
My wounds are deep and I gaze at the sword in my hand
Beckoning my fall upon it,
But what sort of soldier would I be then
And at what cost to those around me?
For now, I must contend to stay broken on the field,
And blurt out the words I loathe to utter.

“Help me.”   


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Graham Norton's couch

A tribute to the best Talk Show host ever. Thanks for the laughs. 

Graham Norton’s couch

How does an artist measure success?
What would you call fame?
Is it awards or trophies or just being the best?
Is it the face, the works or name?
For me, there is just one accolade,
The gauge upon which I will vouch,
I’ve finally made it, I’ve made the grade,
When I sit on Graham’s couch.

You can keep your fancy Booker Prize,
Be gone, you Academy Award,
Pulitzer, Nobel and other highs,
Tend to make me rather bored.
But lead me to this prestigious throne
No longer to grumble and grouch,
From that time on, it will always be known,
That I sat on Graham’s couch.

And of course I would have to be among
The other guests that night.
But my placing on that red chaise longue
Will not be taken without a fight.
The closest one to Mr. Norton
Is by no means any slouch,
So pause and put this in proportion,
I’m first on Graham’s couch.

The closest to this worldly host
The object of his attention,
Not just as some celebrity roast,
But an artist in ascension.
A tribute worthy of remembrance,
Not some Oscar in my pouch,
What an achievement of transcendence
When I sat on Graham’s couch.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Why I chose to go down the self-publishing road


The lot of an Indie author is not an easy one, but the sense of achievement at the end of it all has to be the greatest feeling ever. I've done it! The dream has become a reality and my creation is out there.

In a drawer sits two full length novel manuscripts that I wrote once upon a time, one of them over twenty years ago. I tried to get a publisher, but the process was both expensive and time consuming. I had four children and money could not be spared on something so frivolous. I lost confidence and in the end gave up. One day I might take them up again, update and self publish them.

I began writing The Finest Line in May 2012. Through Kindle Direct Publishing, it was self-published to Amazon in August 2012. It cost me no more than the price of a few drinks for the people who helped me create the cover. I brought two more books out within a year of that, and they both did great, one of them going to #1 in Erotic Thrillers. Within a year of publishing The Finest Line I was making a full time income with my books and could devote my days to writing. When I say that self publishing is the most liberating accomplishment for writers, I mean it.

It is the answer for anyone who has long held a the passion to write and be published. They have a story in them screaming to be told. Well, I for one want to hear your story. It shouldn't be up to the traditional publishers to say whether your story is good enough or not. It's yours, and you want to share it with the world, whether others like it or not. Maybe it won't do so well, but who cares? I write for me, and I have to love my story before anyone does, and when I do, like any proud parent, I want to show my baby to the world. They don't have to like it, but it exists.

I've read all the dismal articles of the poor quality of Indie authors, the typos, the grammar, and mostly I think that's rubbish. Yes, I've actually read several stories, littered with mistakes, but the story itself was incredible and I am richer for having read it, and I am so glad the writer had the courage to put it out there. Failure is not several mistakes in your work and some bad reviews. Let the readers have their say, but remember, you did it, when they didn't. You are a success because you did put it out there while others are still dreaming about it, and who knows, maybe you do have the next New York Times bestseller within you. It just needs few trial runs before it comes out. With every book you put out there, you learn from it, and your writing can only blossom.
Would I ever go with a publisher now? I don't know, I'd like to say no, and I have given this a great deal of thought. I love being Indie. I love all those long hard hours of writing and getting ready to publish. I love that it costs me nothing. I love that I can finish writing a book and have it published within a few days. I love that my books belong to me alone.

And what is this all about anyway? It's about my passion for writing which has existed since I wrote my first poetry book at four years of age. It's about the first fifty page novel I completed when I was eight years old and the first full length novel I wrote when I was twelve years old. It wasn't about money, fame or reviews back then. It was because I had to write and haven't stopped my entire life, but now I can share my writing with the world. You don't have to like my stories, but they're out there, published, and I love them.

#PoweredByIndie #selfpub


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Book trailer and excerpt from Master




He had almost brought himself to climax when he froze. The noise was barely audible but his hearing missed nothing. Angry and frustrated, he turned off the shower and reached for his towel, getting it around his waist just as Lena timidly entered the bathroom.
“What the fuck are you doing, Lena?”
Any hope that his fury would scare her off was quickly dismissed. She remained unmoved and looked back at him intently. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
“And I want five minutes of peace. Now get back to bed.”
She shook her head and her voice was strained. “You said that you would deal with me… that you would punish me for disobeying you and now you’re not, and I don’t know what that means.”
“It means that I’m fucking tired, and don’t want to put up with your shit, but fine, if you want to be punished, then go wait for me, bent over the couch. I’ll be there with my belt in a minute and make sure you’re fully satiated.”
“Lena’s lip trembled. “Do you want me to remove my underwear?”
As much as he could see how afraid she was, he could also see her determination and need. She was ready to subject herself to anything he could dish out, and not out of any weakness, but out of the trust she had for him. His anger didn’t stand a chance against this and it was time to change tactics.
 “Lena, please, go back to bed. You’ve had a terrible day and your emotions are confused. You need sleep and all this will be forgotten tomorrow.”
“Sometimes I wish I could forget, but I can’t. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. All I know is that you keep your word. That’s as stable as it’s ever been for me. Please don’t take that away from me.”
Her sincerity was slowly eating away at him. Jahn stared at her, still hoping that he could end this without tears and grief.
“Lena, you don’t know what kind of man I am. All you have seen is a side of me that knows how to care for another human being. That is the least side of who I am.”
“I’ve also seen the side that can kill a man,” she replied. “That must mean the rest of you is somewhere between, and that’s enough for me.”
Jahn shook his head. “I can’t give you what you want.”
“And what is that? A life of commitment, a happy ending like those in fairy tales?” Her sorrowful smile widened thoughtfully. “I already know that there are no happy endings, there are only moments. In the end, we all die. I have a lifetime of horrible memories that plague me. Is it so wrong to want ones that I can remember with happiness?”
“Inflicting punishment on you would not be a happy memory.”
She looked up at him. “It would be for you. Isn’t that what you enjoy?”
Jahn sighed and shook his head. “Somehow the thought of hurting you doesn’t bring me any satisfaction.”
Her face fell. “I thought… I’m sorry. I’ll go back to bed.”
Jahn frowned in confusion, but as she started to leave, it suddenly dawned on him how she had interpreted his words.
“Lena, wait. I didn’t mean…
She had given him the way out. If she thought that he was not attracted to her, even in his perverted sexual desires, all this would be over. Lena would shed a few tears and then they could co-exist without the complications. The plan would be back on track.
She was waiting silently, not looking at him. All he had to do was tell her that he didn’t want her, even if it was a lie, but as he looked at her, so small and vulnerable, the plan didn’t seem so important.
 “Take off your dress.”
His quiet demand made Lena tremble, but her fingers gathered each side and the dress was drawn from her body, leaving her in just her underwear.
“Everything. Take it off.”
Without hesitation, she removed her bra and panties, and instinctively she crossed her arms over her breasts.
The severity entered his tone. “Don’t cover yourself.”
Her arms fell away and his eyes moved over her body, studying the large breasts pert with youth, the fullness of her hips and rounded belly. What he wasn’t expecting to see was the plump naked mound at the apex of her thighs, with a few stray hairs still present. He nearly laughed until the significance of what she had done dawned on him. She had shaved to please him, to give him what he desired. It was a gift that both disturbed and excited him. 
Taking her hand, he pulled her towards him and looked down at her. She was like a frightened animal, shivering and uncertain. He had never seen anything more beautiful and the adrenaline pumped through his veins.
Turning away, he adjusted the taps of the shower until the water was running warm, before guiding her under it, with her facing the wall. Grasping her wrists, he brought her arms up high and wide, placing her palms on the tiles.
The warm water eased her shivering, but her legs were shaking. Lena gasped as strong arms went around her and his body pressed against her. The towel was gone and she could feel his cock brushing against her lower back. His foot pushed at her feet, widening her stance, and making her aware of how much her vagina was exposed to him. Her hips were grasped and her body pulled back, so that her bottom was thrust out.
His mouth moved closed to her ear. “You don’t move. You don’t turn around. You face the wall and obey me. Is that understood?”
“Yes.”
He moved away from her, and for a moment that seemed to last forever, there was only the sound of the water flowing over her body, trickling between her buttocks and tormenting her clit. Any second she expected to feel his hand between her legs, and she braced for the sensation it would bring.
Instead it was her buttocks that received the first attention. Lena gasped and her eyes widened as she quickly realized what he was doing. Jahn was crouched behind her and his palms were splayed across her cheeks, gently spreading them apart. His close proximity was easily judged by his breath on her most intimate parts.
Her legs shook harder as she was subjected to his examination. She could almost feel his eyes boring into her. Slowly, he allowed her cheeks to fall back in place, but his hands remained where they were, softly caressing and squeezing as if testing their firmness.
With her mind clouding over, she was barely aware that he had stood up again, until his lips brushed against the base of her neck and over her shoulder. Any doubt of his attraction to her was put to rest as she felt his unyielding cock push into her spine. His hands were gliding up her sides until they were cupping her breasts. Her nipples were captured between his thumb and forefinger, where he pinched and tugged at them, encouraging them to swell.
In all her life, Lena had never felt her body react so violently. Her stomach was tightening with the contractions in her vagina. Her veins seemed to be electrified and her heart was hammering at her chest. She felt weak, with her legs threatening to give way at any moment.
His harsh whisper resonated in her ear. “Why do you give me so much grief, Lena? Why do you make me want to punish you?”
As if to reinforce his words, his fingers crushed her nipples, making her cry out. His body was pushing in closer to her and Lena was aware that his breathing was faster. Absently, she moved a hand down to his, hoping her touch would distract him. Instead her hand was seized in his and brought back up to the other. Grasping both wrists, he held her still.
“You’re disobeying me, again.”
Keeping her pinned, he moved away to her side, only to bring his hand slamming into her buttock. A second later, her other cheek received the same. Lena yelled with the pain and was startled to hear his huffed laugh of amusement. Fear began to edge into her arousal.
For a moment he rubbed and squeezed her bottom gently, but then rapidly delivered three violent smacks to each cheek. Her whimpers soon turned into sobbing as the burning pain swelled in her bottom. She struggled to free herself from him only to be pushed back against the wall.
“This is what happens to naughty girls.” His voice was harsh as he moved back behind her, seizing her breasts and pulling her back against him. She had little choice but to grip his iron knuckles as he crushed her against the tiles, under his weight. His legs were on the outside of hers, pushing them back together to complete her entrapment. Releasing one breast, his hand moved down and he forced his cock to rub against her sore buttocks, pushing and trying to divide her clenched cheeks.
“Please don’t,” Lena sobbed.
“This is what you wanted.” He continued to rub and push. “To be punished and hurt.”
“Not like this. I don’t want this.” She was crying loudly. “Don’t hurt me. Please, don’t hurt me.”
Whether it was her desperate plea, or the water suddenly turning icy cold, Jahn suddenly released her and backed away. Lena remained against the wall, her body shaking with misery.
“I’m sorry,” she gasped. “I’m so sorry.”
He turned the water off and grabbed a towel, wrapping it around her. Rubbing her shoulder, he waited until she had calmed before gently turning her to face him.
“Go back to the apartment and get another towel and get yourself dried.”
She couldn’t look at him. “What about you?”
He sighed. “I need to cool off anyway. Just do as I’ve said, and then go back to bed.”
“Forgive me,” she whispered.
Jahn sighed deeply. “You’re not the one who needs to be forgiven.” He softly pushed her towards the curtain. “Go.”
He watched her until she had entered the apartment, and then he leant back against the wall, feeling his wet skin cool and prickle in the cold air. Turning on the cold water, he stood under the flow, trying to extinguish the heat that still ran through him.
What the fuck was wrong with him? Lena wasn’t the first woman he had lusted over, but it was more than that. He wanted her beyond a point where he was no longer in control. He had been fully prepared to rape her, and it sickened him. Maybe, finally, the years of sex and violence had taken their toll and unleashed the real animal in him.
If losing control wasn’t bad enough, his mind was chaotic with emotions that he had never had to contend with, shame and remorse.
“Fuck you, Natasha,” he called out. “This bastard does not fall in love.”
Whatever had gone wrong there would have to be damage control, or Lena would be an emotional wreck of his own making. He would have to reassure her that she had done nothing wrong, maybe even cuddle her if she still wanted to go near him. A little compassion, a little romance and all this could be put behind them. Anything else she read into it would not be his problem.

Lena did excite him, her and that beautiful arse that coloured so well, but no woman would ever take precedence in his life. He needed to be back in control, and even to examine these revelations of his nature. He didn’t need to hurt her physically to do that. The ultimate test of cruelty would be allowing her to fall in love with him. 

Master available for purchase on Amazon