Thursday, 29 November 2018

Facebook Live – and other book promotion stuff

You probably know that I've written some books. That's the easy bit –  selling them is an entirely different matter. In the past I've tried promoting them through radio interviews, talks to writing groups, book signings, a public reading...

What with travelling so much, and other not very good excuses, I'd pretty much stopped all marketing activity. Unsurprisingly that didn't help book sales, so I'm now putting in a bit more effort.

Yesterday I did a Facebook Live post for a Facebook book group. That was a first for me. It's rather weird talking to people who, although you know are there as they can 'like', leave comments and questions, you can't see or hear. Other than that, and the initial fear that I'd mess up the technology and be talking to myself, I quite enjoyed it.

If you try this yourself, I now have a few tips –

1. Don't panic if you don't get comments etc straight away. These take a while to filter through.

2. Because of that, be ready with something to say, rather than just sitting and waiting for questions (I did, but not enough and had to talk at random for a while.)

3. Have something ready to read in case you're asked to do that, or have time to fill. I was asked and didn't know what to pick, so faffed about a bit until a kind listener requested something specific.

4. Make a note of anything you especially want to say. (I totally forgot to mention this free ebook and it would have been the ideal place to do so.)

In a couple of weeks I'll be chatting at my local library and in March I'm a panelist as part of Portsmouth BookFest. Both of these will be new experiences, but I have spoken to groups before, so I'm not too nervous about those. Any tips will be very welcome though!

Have you attended/watched/listened to any book promotion events?

What book promotion stuff have you tried and how did it go?

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


A bluebell is a flower with a blue (except when it's white or pink, obviously) bell shaped flower. Which particular flower depends on where in the world you live. 

 These are English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) – which I photographed in Wales.

These are Scottish bluebells (Campanula rotundifolia) known as harebells in England.

These are Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

Which flowers do you think of as bluebells

Monday, 26 November 2018

Are We Nearly Famous?

I reckon I must be almost famous – I surveyed some of my friends and family and every single one of them had heard of me! (Oddly not many of them wanted to listen to my jokes.)

Actually I don't really want to be famous. Not in a 'daren't go out in public for fear of screaming fans, and paparazzi trying to catch you doing something mildly embarressing' way. I'd quite like more people to know about my books, and ideally buy one or two, though. Three of my writing friends, Sheila Crosby, Rosemary Kind and Lynne Pardoe felt the same way, so we decided to create this free ebook, to share stories, reveal a litlle about why we write, and promote our work.

You can download Are We Nearly Famous? for free here.

My story, The Mysterious Stone Of Ogham, is set at Gigha in the inner Hebrides. Of course I've visited and photographed (and swum in a little lagoon at the edege of) this beautiful Scottish island.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Very cool

Thanks again to Alyson Hilbourne for notifying me of another free to enter competition.

They're looking for short stories, poems or essays on the theme of equality and offering a free place on a writing retreat in Iceland to the winner. Do read all the details to ensure you want the prize and will be able to accept it.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018


A font can be the object in a church which holds holy water for splashing onto those being baptised, a reservoir for oil in a lamp, or an old-fashioned word for spring or fountain.

The font is also the typeface in which something is printed or appears online. There are lots to choose from – Times New Roman if you want to be taken seriously, Comic Sans if you don't and Bickham Script should you wish to be incomprehensible.

Which fonts do you like best?

Friday, 16 November 2018

Worth a try?

On The Premises are running another of their mini contests. You're asked to submit between 30 and 50 words, one of which must be 'zebra'. There are cash prizes. (I got an honourable mention in the last one and Alyson Hilbourne, who often supplies competition links for this blog, came third!)

There aren't any zebras around here – even the crossing down the High Street is devoid of zebras, so I've used my incredible Photoshop skills, combined with my awesome artistic abilities, to create one. (If this picture paints a thousand words, 978 of them are incorrectly spelled, and the punctuation is decidely dodgy.)

Do you ever think that these competitions which cost nothing to enter, are very easy to submit to, and offer money as a reward to the winners, sound somehow too good to be true? That there must be some kind of catch? Sometimes there is – the most common being 'rights grabs' or a hard sell on books containing the winning entries. (With paid for competitions there's a very small risk that the entry fee will be accepted, but no prizes ever awarded.)

Although I'll warn of any potential issues I'm aware of, I simply don't have time to fully research every competition I mention here, so do read all the terms and conditions thoroughly and only enter if you're happy with them. You might also like to carry out an internet search to confirm previous winners really exist, or that no issues have been reported.

I'm naturally a little on the cynical side and probably would have been more wary of these free competitions, had I not won the first time I was persuaded to enter one (in 2002). Since then I've tried lots more and sometimes won cash and other nice things. I've never encountered a problem as a result – the closest I've come to that is ending up on a mailing list, but these days it's easy to take yourself off those.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018


Perchance is another one of those words my dictionary claims poets are allowed to use whenever they like, but the rest of us should limit to historical works.

It means perhaps, maybe, by chance, or by any chance. For example, 'would you care to buy my book, perchance?'

Hmm, perchance my dictionary is right – it does sound very dated, doesn't it?

Monday, 12 November 2018

There once was a woman who lay on a rock

I have good news about this competition – The first prize is $1,000, you have until April 1st to enter and as usual with the competitions I mention here, there is no entry fee.

The downside is that they want poetry. Funny poetry. Maybe you'll see that as another plus point, but I'm going to sit this one out. Oh, that's no good – I could sit at my desk and attempt to write poetry couldn't I? I'll go for a quiet lie down instead.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018


This post has been scheduled as I'll be at sea when it's due to go out and won't be able to do it then. I do a lot of travelling, so it's not that uncommon for me to be without wi-fi access. Even so, I do sometimes feel a little insecure if I can't easily contact other people. Maybe that's the writer's need to communicate?

I'm sure writers are very familiar with schedules. When we make a list of things we intend to do, we're scheduling our time, we might schedule social media posts to promote a book, and the publications we write for may have a payment schedule.

Other meanings of schedule include making an inventory or table of contents, or including something, for example a rare bird, for preservation or protection and anything which runs to a published timetable. For example this ferry was exactly to schedule.

It's appropriate that my need to schedule this post is connected with an insecurity as this is the first Wednesday of the month and therefore an Insecure Writer'sSupport Group post.

Does being disconnected from the World Wide Web make you feel insecure?

Do you pronounce the first syllable of schedule as shed, or sked?


Friday, 2 November 2018

Sound good?

Soundworks are running another of their short story competitions. Entries of up to 2,500 words should be submitted by 28th February. Previously published work is eligible. The prize is to have your story read by a professional actor, recorded and placed on the site for all to read for free.

It's weird hearing your work read by someone else. Has that ever happened to you, and if so did you enjoy the experience?

One of my fabourite sounds is the sea breaking on the shore. What do you like listening to?