Fancy A Freebie?

Hi All

Right-e-o here I go as promised, or threatened, on my last post (I’m sure I can hear a trumpet as I write that?) the reason/reasons why I won’t give freebies. Freebies meaning books, you understand?

If I go back to the beginning – sometime last year – when I put my first book on Amazon, I have to confess to being ignorant to the workings and wonders of self-publishing.  Mulligan’s Reach was kindly formatted and uploaded to Amazon for me by a newly acquired writer friend. I then hid for a week or two, terrified of someone actually buying it. Don’t ask me why, I’m just weird that way. It turned out to be a pointless worry because no one bought it anyway. Why would they? No one knew it was there.

So, the next plan was suggested to me. Get another book published. This I did, and again I was lucky to have the same lovely person format and upload to Amazon, Starfish. I hope you are still with me? Simply, I now had two books on Amazon, neither of which were selling because no one knew that either of them existed.

Just to give the nail a final wallop into the coffin, my friend uploaded a third book for me, Eternal, a collection of short stories.

So there I was, three books on Amazon. Three books that no one knew, or cared, existed.

This is where the dastardly plan rears its pretty head. All that was required was ‘to be seen.’ Make Starfish visible and people would see it, buy it, like it (?) and look for other works by the same enchanting author. Simples! And the way to be seen? Freebies! Lots and lots and lots of freebies. My magic fingers and my stupid brain joined forces long enough for me to go through the Amazon system and put Starfish ‘up for free,’ for the weekend. I had received all my instructions and apparently all I had to do was to sit at the computer from Friday to Sunday night and spam, spam, spam. This I did.

Because I was a newbie to the scene, and pretty stupid to boot, I think my twitter friends took me to their generous bosoms and they retweeted like their little hearts depended on it. As I reluctantly, half dying from key pad fatigue, dragged myself away from the computer on the Sunday evening, around midnight, Starfish was sitting at no 2 on Amazon!

Monday morning, 5am, and Starfish was on the no 1 spot, with Miranda Hart’s book at no 2. It had received 7,500 downloads. It didn’t stay there long and afterwards it probably ‘sold’ another 250 copies before once again dropping from sight.

Sometime later I put Eternal up as a freebie. Around 100 copies were downloaded – short stories never, in my opinion, do very well. This did nothing for sales.

Now the autopsy… I will never put a book of mine up as a freebie again because, well, frankly, why should I? Why should I give my book away? Do readers actually have any idea how much time and effort goes into writing a novel? Is it to be expected that all that effort should cost nothing? Would they seriously expect to walk into a supermarket and fall over a display with a sign saying, ‘Tuna in brine – FREE today?’ Would they take their poodle to the vet and be told at reception, ‘No charge. Today all consultations and treatments are FREE!’ Bugger off. No they would not.

My books may not be War and Peace and they may never be best sellers (well, actually Starfish was), but I have read (until approximately page 4 or 5 – I have a very short crap-level tolerance) far more boring books than mine and if I don’t value my work why should anyone else?

Often, the giving away of books is to produce reviews. Reviews help to sell books. Do they? Consider this, of those 7,500 books given away I probably received a handful of reviews. This is because most people (often other writers/authors) download your book to be helpful (which is lovely) but they never read the book. It will sit on their kindle, along with the other hundreds of helpful downloads. Even I have to confess to having downloaded books that I haven’t yet glanced at.

In a way, in my opinion, Amazon self-publishing has fallen on its own sword. Thousands, it could be millions, of authors (myself included) have jumped on the Amazon self-publishing band wagon and now the wheel has fallen off.  A massive tsunami of books have swamped the market and it’s any wonder that anyone’s book can be seen. But, like the agent/trad’ publishing market, something will have to give, somewhere, sometime.

I now have little desire to chase sales. I have a life outside of this. Don’t get me wrong, EVERY single book sale is valued, cherished and appreciated. If you knew HOW much you would actually feel sorry for me! But, for as long as books are free, and web sites, giving away free books are springing up everywhere, we may as well whistle in the wind, because there’s little chance of being heard.

I’m sure there will be many who disagree with my comments – and you know you are perfectly free to do that, (bugger! There’s that other f word again!), but these are my opinions based on facts and experiences over the last year. I’m thinking that a year is a mere blink, in the eye of time, and that self-publishing is a long haul? I’m not disillusioned at all and I shall stay for the long haul – until the time comes, if it does, when it no longer suits me to do so. After all, we are all in this by choice.

So, later I shall be spamming like a demented monkey and yelling from the tree tops, ‘Oi, go and buy my book!’ JOKE!! I won’t. Well I might? NO I won’t.

Having said all this, I am intending to lower the price of my books, sometime soon. Why? Because I can. I have the power and the control (mwahhhh!!) and it really isn’t about the money. I also like to think that I am annoying Amazon by constantly changing things! Yes, I know, petty, petty, petty. But whatever gets you through the night, hey?

Take care my lovelies xno 4

The Black Bra With The Frilly Lace?

Morning AllMB900281822

If I have my calculations right my dear mum would have been eighty-seven tomorrow. She died in 1999 and so I have been without her now for fourteen years. Fourteen years! I have no idea where that time has gone to. It seems like only yesterday that she was standing in her kitchen, flour everywhere, rolling out pastry, whilst I babbled on about some nonsense. Mum was a great cook. Her pastry was simply the best. And in the days before I became a vegetarian her meat and potato pie was truly to die for. Tell me, what is nicer than pastry and gravy?

Mum always listened and she always had an opinion. Often it was different to mine and usually she was proved right. I never understood how mums did that – knew everything about everything to do with their child. But I know now. Now that I’m a mum. I know that we are always right! We are simply wired that way. If my son reads this he will be texting the following, “you are not ALWAYS right.”

Ha ha, yes I am.

I realise that it’s an age thing. The older you get the more people you lose. I have lost two cousins in the short space of less than a year of each other. Sometimes I forget, or can’t believe that these people have gone. Where do they go to? Is the end the end?

Oh listen to me! I only wanted to mention mum’s birthday tomorrow and the fact that I shall go to the church and take flowers and here I am sinking into a morbid pit of misery and dragging you, me hearties, with me, so let’s clamber out of the dank and the dark …

I have also noticed of late how many ‘virtual’ friends/acquaintances etc have fallen by the wayside. I’ve been ‘at’ this virtual stuff for about a year in October and last October I noticed people and names that I am not seeing now. I know that I question this virtual world regularly, the time spent in it, the value of it etc.

This massive self-publishing boom has flooded the market with books, some brilliant, some OK  and some bloody awful. It is still unbelievably hard to sell books, mainly because there are so many of them and the average author is like me, a writer and not a promoter of their work. I guess a lot of authors have a bash at promoting, fail, and then limp away into the distance never to be seen or heard from again.

And who can blame them. I consider this on a daily basis! OK, maybe not on a daily basis but regularly. And I guess there is little more soul (or faith in human nature) destroying, than checking your book sales in the middle of the month, when Joe Blogs promised to buy your book and finding that the sales are zilch and Joe has let you down.  Unfortunately my experience and findings in this life have been that more people will let you down than not.

I’ve met some lovely, helpful people since self publishing. I would love to name them but if I do the idiot who merely taught me how to enter a password will want to know why he hasn’t been named as the best thing since sliced bread. You may think that is a slight exaggeration and yes it is. I have always known how to enter a password. It comes from being a devious, secretive type of person who doesn’t want the world and his dog knowing her business. However, I didn’t know how to use twitter or Facebook or build a web page or write a blog and it has been scary to the point of screaming. The amount of stuff of mine, unintentionally deleted and flying through the ether is unbelievable.

So I guess people fall by the wayside …some fall on stoney ground and perish …

I have to go and look for a bra. I have lost one. I had the slightest suspicion that it may also have fallen on stoney ground and ended up in Richard’s dressing room. Sounds posh, hey? Richard’s dressing room! It was laughingly described as a third bedroom by the house agent twenty-three years ago. It is actually a box room, too small to even fit a cot into and north facing to boot, so it is permanently freezing in there.

Richard has equipped his ‘dressing room’ with an Ikea rail and most of his clothes live draped across it and not on it. Beneath the rail he has an old wash basket which is the resting place for his grundies and socks. Yesterday I enquired, ‘you haven’t come across my bra, have you? I wondered if it may have inadvertently ended up in your wash basket – I mean your pant storage area – and if it has, at this moment in time, I will accept that it was an accident and that I don’t need to start getting worried and locking my wardrobe.’

He shrugged a bit and then later in the day said, ‘that bra. Is the black one with the frilly lace around the front and the little flower thing at the front?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘No, it’s not there.’

Maybe I should lock my wardrobe? Mind you, I don’t think there’s much in there that would fit him!

Off to buy some flowers.

Take care my lovelies x

Loving Words In The Bedroom?

Hi All

You know, as much as I try, sometimes I just have to admit defeat and have an embarrassingly early night. This mega dose of beta blocker stuff, prescribed to prevent my horrendous migraines, has the unwelcome side effect of zonking me out.

Friday night was such a night but, as always happens, once I get into bed I’m awake and buzzing with the bees, so it made sense to watch a bit of TV. The programme of choice was The Incredible Hulk. I’ve seen it before but it was mindless, not requiring much thought to follow the plot and so exactly what I needed.

As it was coming to an end, Richard toddled up to bed. He is what I consider to be a lucky person – he drops easily and instantly into sleep mode whilst in the bathroom brushing his teeth. This I envy. Massively. Usually he drifts across the bottom of the bed in a semi-coma. It’s not a pretty sight so I don’t usually look. Friday night was different. Richard spoke. This is what he said …

‘Chea is very loose. I’ve just had to remove a sloppy pooh from her tray.’MH900084366

Alarm bells always ring whenever Richard reports anything to do with the health of an animal. It’s like he sees things differently – or not at all. I remember one time when a sweet little hedgehog appeared on the lawn looking worse for wear, half trapped in bean netting. I removed the cutting twine from it and placed it in a large plastic container and set this above a slight heat source. The following morning, as Richard was about to go to work at 5.am, I shouted down, ‘Is the hedgehog alive?’

‘Yes,’ he shouted back and closed the door behind him. He’s not a morning person!

My heart soared. Yes! I’d saved it. Whoop woo. I hurried down and dashed out to the shed where the little creature had spent the night, threw open the door, mashed-up dog meat in my hand – and this dreadful smell hit me. As I approached the container the smell became worse. Peering in through the side of the container I could see movement but it wasn’t the hedgehog. The little creature was covered from head to foot in writhing maggots. Baby hedgehog was dead.

I never trusted Richard’s assessment/judgement of pretty much anything after that. He tried to explain it by saying that he’d viewed it from the door and that it must have been the maggots moving that he saw and not the hedgehog breathing.

So …back to the ‘Chea’ report.

‘How sloppy?’ I said, missing the concluding part of the film that I’d been watching for the last two hours. I hate it when that happens. You know what I mean don’t you? You’ve watched something almost to the twist at the end and then a car pulls up outside and a visitor turns up. I hate unsolicited visitors. Hate them. People need to make an appointment…

‘Quite sloppy,’ he said, dropping into bed, making it rock.

‘But HOW sloppy?’ I insisted. ‘Give me a clue.’

‘Like cream I suppose.’

‘Cream? Cream? What kind of cream?’

He yawned at this point. I told you. He’d have closed down before the toothbrush left his mouth!

‘Like the cream you put in the Victoria sandwiches,’ he added, yawning again. I also HATE it when people yawn and don’t make an attempt to cover their orifices!

‘Well, there’s single cream that we sometimes pour over the cake and then there’s double cream that I whip-up and put inside the cake. Which is it?’

‘Oh God, I don’t know,’ he said, looking like he was sitting in the black chair on Mastermind.’ I guess it was like the stuff you put inside the cake.’

‘Double cream, then?’

‘Yes, I think so …if that’s what you put inside the cake.’

‘I do! I‘ve just said so, haven’t I?’

‘Well, yes then. Double cream. Chea is shitting stuff the consistency of double cream …like you put inside the cakes you make…OK … because I’m tired and I’m going to sleep.’

I did a bit of heavy breathing and humphed a bit but there was no point, he’d gone to la la land. I was left all alone, in the dark, with a storm raging outside the bedroom window, trying to figure out what Chea might have had contact with, to give her diarrhoea, and to wonder if there was a chicken breast left in the freezer for the morning.

I dashed down at 5 am to check on her, only to be met by a pile of sick, with grass in it, and Chea hurriedly scratching cat litter over a pool of pooh. And do you know what? On this occasion I have to hold up my hands and admit that Richard was, indeed, right. It was the consistency of double cream! No strawberry jam though, ha ha.

I don’t think I’ll be making cake today …I’ve kinda put myself off …

 

cat

Take care my lovelies x

If You Don’t Like Something Change It …

Hi All

How is it possible to hate something you love so much? No, I’m not talking about Richard, although he has been winding me up to eruption point recently. Bloody Chea has just brought another baby bird down to the house and it isn’t dead – yet. I so hate her at this moment. Hate. Loath. Despise. I’ve had to cover it up with a bucket – the baby bird, not Chea. I feel like covering her up, or beating her up, or something. Why do they have to be so sodding bombastic and cruel? Oh I know. That’s a cat’s mindset. She is now sitting on the table licking her backside like butter wouldn’t melt (??) I can’t bear to look her – or her backside!

I have to sadly report that all the chucks bum washing has come to a sad end. Beautiful died early Sunday morning. We took her to the vet on Saturday and were met by a vet who looked younger than the chicken. I have no faith in ‘chicken’ vets. The last time we took Beautiful, a year last Christmas Eve, the vet then palmed us off with lotions and potions and charged us £60 for a condition that I later found, by Googling chicken sites, was perfectly normal. I couldn’t be bothered with the charade of the vet pretending she knew what she was talking about so I just told her I needed her to fill Beautiful with antibiotic. We came away with the powder to place in the drinking water and when, on Saturday evening, she guzzled down a bit I thought that we might be in with a slim chance. But no. She was alive when I went to her at 6.00 am Sunday morning – but dying. I made her comfy in the corner of the shed, away from Dust, and she quietly and peacefully died.

I totally believe that Beautiful had a growth and that nothing could have saved her. She had the best life possible and was a lovely friendly chuck. We buried her in a spot in the garden that she loved. I think it’s nice to spend eternity in a place you loved in life. Our Burmese, Oscar, is buried under the lawn, next to the pond, because that is the place where he often sat. Meg, our collie, and Mishka, our moggie cat, are buried side by side just outside the kitchen door. They were both home bodies and had a great affection for each other. Wow! Not much cheer and riotous fun on here today, hey?

My problem now is that Dust is on her own. I’ve decided to give her 5 days antibiotic treatment and then review the situation. Chucks shouldn’t be kept on their own. They are flock creatures but I don’t want to introduce a new chuck/chucks until I’m sure she is 100%. She has recently gone into the heaviest moult possible and is moth-eaten and bare in places. She is sad that her friend has disappeared and searches for her in the garden making little clucking noises that remain unanswered. Alas she won’t find her. I retrieved the radio from the greenhouse yesterday and put that in her shed. Now she can listen to the ‘tunes’ throughout the day and not feel so lonely. Not too sure I should inflict Jeremy Vine on her though? Probably finish her off? Sorry Jeremy but you do have some shit on your show.

I went to my neurology appointment yesterday. Huh! If it wasn’t for people like me people like the consultant I saw wouldn’t have a job.  Obnoxious? Yep. Condescending? Totally. I appreciate that they see some weird people, myself included, but that doesn’t give them the right to speak to you like you are an amoeba. I heard him ‘short-change’ the girl he saw before me and she flew out of the place like the devil was after her. I firmly believe this … if you don’t like something change it. I didn’t like his attitude …so I changed it!

He seemed hell-bent on dishing out medication of all types and was most rude when I said that I didn’t want to take it because of the possible side effects. He said, ‘you won’t know till you try it, will you?’ Later, he enquired what type of books I wrote because I’d said that as things are, with all these headaches and migraines, I couldn’t think to write and he said he was going to look on Amazon. I said, ‘yeah, you do that. I know it’s romantic suspense but you won’t know if it suits you until you try it, will you?’ Touché.

At this point I discovered the cocky little shit could smile and hadn’t had a humour bypass, performed by one of his colleagues, on the cheap. From that point on we had a riot. I told him to go ahead and buy Mulligan’s Reach in paperback and then the next time I saw him I’d sign it. Ha ha! You ain’t so tough Mr Consultant Person. In conclusion he’s referred me for a scan. Probably wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t talked him into buying my book? Maybe it’s Mr Consultant Person who needs the brain scan?

And on that note I shall bid you bye-bye.

Take care my lovelies x

Sad little moulting Dust.

HPIM2956

Saturday’s Blog …

Morning All

Yesterday I suggested that I might post the first page of my next novel on here today. Obviously I changed my mind but a writer friend of mine, Janet, had already seen the comment and said she was looking forwards to it. I tell you … be very careful what you put into writing! Now I feel obligated to do it. So … this is the first page of The Sleeping Field. It is straight off the press, unedited, warts and all. If you want to comment please do.

The Sleeping Field

  Chapter 1

 They’d found her.

Marrakech Madder turned away, pulling the collar of her faded Barbour jacket tighter around her throat, attempting to trap out the chill of the early morning air and the feeling of helplessness that surrounded her. She slid her hand into her pocket and her fingers touched the child’s glove nestling there. She scooped it into the palm of her hand, squeezing the pink, woolly fabric one last time. The child wouldn’t need it now.

The police had thought that they would find her alive. She knew they wouldn’t. She knew that they would find her twisted and broken, like a rag doll that had been cast by a fractious child, lying in a crude, heathen grave. It was little comfort to know that she was right.

She pulled her hand from her pocket and pressed the glove against her rigid face. It smelt of chocolate and fabric conditioner. She closed her eyes, imprisoning tears behind her dark lashes. In God’s name, why? What was it that made one man kill another man’s child?  

D.I Bart shuffled towards her up the slight incline of the ploughed field, the orange earth sticking to the back of his black trousers like rust on a drain pipe. Below him, beneath the gnarled oak, men in white coats erected screens – not fast enough for one of the police officers, as he turned away and threw up. It was a young team. Most of them probably had children of their own, children they protected with their very lives.

As DI Bart approached, his breath came in short, hard rasps, like a lover at the point of ejaculation. Did men like DI Bart make love or had the job soured his heart and he could no longer touch flesh – dead or alive?

He came to a halt in front of her. ‘We’ve found her, Mari. They’ll have to perform a bloody miracle before we can let the parents see the body.’

She slid her gaze into his rheumy eyes as he rocked back and forth on his heels, banging his gloveless hands together in an attempt to get the feeling back into them.

She nodded. Why couldn’t he say, before we let the parents see her or the child? Why, the body?

‘I know this takes its toll on you, Mari, but without your help she would still be missing. It’s bad enough finding the poor kid dead, but for the poor kid to be dead and not found, that would be worse.’

She nodded again, unable to speak, aware of the overwhelming tiredness creeping into her bones. She felt half dead.

DI Bart took her by the elbow.  ‘Let’s get you home.’

She forced a slight movement with her mouth and nodded. Home sounded good. At least she had that to look forward to. What was there to look forward to for the parents of little Rosie Tucker? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Marrakech turned her head to take a last look at the murder site. It would be a while yet before the body could be moved. The night was drawing in and it broke her heart to think that Rosie would spend another night lying in the bottom of a cold, dark ditch. As she turned back and walked towards the road with DI Bart, she knew, categorically, one thing. This was the last time she would do this.

© Copyright Jennie Orbell 29th June 2013MB900049751

Take care my lovelies x

Have a lovely weekend all.

Forgive The Hand Down The Pants? …

Morning.

I may have lost the plot. I have just turned up the radio to listen to Rod Stewart’s new song. I don’t even like Rod Stewart. Weird that. Thinking about it, I don’t mind some of his warbling. Perhaps I like him a bit? No I don’t.

Yesterday I popped out to have a meander around the shopping complex which is just down the motorway from me. I had also arranged to meet my brother, so managing to purchase four blouses (are they still called blouses these days? Tops maybe? ) in forty-five minutes from three different shops was quite some going. I tried on several pairs of trousers but alas drew a big fat no no. Seriously, I was the big fat no no. My weight gain since my inguinal hernia op over a year ago has been well covered here in the past.

For the last year I have had to wear leggings or combats. Anything else is just too tight and applies pressure to my wound, which in turn makes the whole area very sore and painful. Well, it would, wouldn’t it? A piece of gauze sewn into my groin. I’m a bloody hero really, you know. I battle on from day-to-day hardly a whimper or a whine.

Pants are also a problem but a problem which I consider I have solved. I buy them three sizes too big and then the elastic round the leg doesn’t apply pressure. Isn’t this interesting dudes? Take it as a warning. Don’t go levelling ground and throwing rocks around like The Incredible Hulk. Something will give.

Occasionally, like when I’m aimlessly following Richard around B&Q, the old knickers rub and the whole thing hurts so I have to have a quick slide of the hand down the pants and an intense examination of the area just to make sure I haven’t burst the wound. It’s not ideal and at times has drawn the odd look from other shoppers. Obviously this kind of thing is common place with men but not something I guess you would associate with a lady. Lady? Haha. Seriously though, this thing terrifies me in case I rupture it and I end up back on the slab holding another polite conversation about how to sell designer shoes on Ebay with an op room full of green-coated strangers. I jest not. That was exactly the conversation, last time.

Today I am going to attempt to tidy my wardrobes. I have to. There is stuff hanging in them that has never been worn – or likely to be. Skinny jeans are out. The two pairs of stupid white trousers, that Richard said I should buy, are out. White trousers do not fit into my life-style. Thinking about it, everything  I have ever bought when Richard was with me (a rare thing) needs to go. I always say before you take notice from any one who is slagging off your writing take a look at theirs. And consequently before you take fashion advice from someone take a look at what the advisor is wearing. Richard has a style of his own – as do I – and never the two should meet.

The thing is …what do I do with all this stuff? Car boot? Ebay? Charity bag? Close my eyes and bin it? I know that once I have cleared out the stuff I am never going to wear I will feel enlightened but Lordy Lord, what a frigging chore.

I left Richard in charge of the two chucks and Chea yesterday whilst I was off shopping. When I returned I asked him how he had managed. Responsibility weighs very heavily with Richard. He said he had found the hole in the fence where Chea was escaping and had filled the whole thing with a piece of trellis only for Chea to run up it like a ladder and sit grinning at him from the top of the fence. He sounded quite stressed, poor thing. Welcome to my world!

I can warble no longer. I am going to make a cup of tea and then go and clear out all three wardrobes before my energy level and enthusiasm drops to nothing… and those rather annoying baby cabbages start to call …HPIM2818

Take care my lovelies x