Monday, 28 January 2013

Words words words

I seem to have been very busy since we arrived back from our wonderful holiday – now just fading into a lovely but distant memory.  Nothing really to do with writing either.  We have a gorgeous new puppy Lola, a tiny toy poodle.  She’s an absolute delight but quite demanding as puppies are.  A few days after she arrived we had our tiny garden dug up so that we could have a little plunge pool installed.   I really had no idea how much mess that would generate – a mountain of soil – for such a tiny pool?  Lola thought the whole process great fun and was very happy to go and play in the large brown sand dune with the workmen, so I spent a lot of time dragging her back in.  Unfortunately, even though she arrived housetrained (at 9 weeks) she lost the plot in all the chaos so quite a lot of training has had to be fitted in.  Ho hum – but we now have a little pool, a newly laid lawn and (fingers crossed) once again a virtually housetrained puppy. 

I don’t know why it is, whether they hold secret union meetings in the small hours, but almost all of our appliances contrived to pack up at once.  I may have mentioned we are raw vegans (the last nine years) so I am very dependent on my Vitamix blender and my dehydrator.  Well the dehydrator fan motor packed up – not so simple to replace when one considers it is a Swiss make, bought in England and carried in a suitcase to South Africa.   At virtually the same time the jug of the blender developed a leak – it appears to need a tiny washer, perhaps half an inch across but with a specific moulding.  Simple to replace one would think?  Just a washer?  Should cost pennies.  Ha ha.  The only thing the agents can offer is a complete new blade assembly – costing well over $120 US.   We are now looking for someone who can make us a washer – perhaps whittle it down from a larger one.   So I am without my Vitamix and also unable to make any of my dehydrated crackers and bread.  Then yesterday to add insult to injury I was printing something and the printer stopped working.  I took the whole printer to an ink shop who tested it and said it seemed fine – didn’t even need new ink.  Took it home, tried again – no joy.  Today (Monday ) I took it back to the computer shop where I had bought it – who will look at it – for half the cost of a new one.   So I was feeling very hard done by.

Fortunately I am easily pleased by small things.  I received my Word of the Day email – from Wordsmith. (   A great website and they send such interesting words – interesting if not all useful.  Some time ago they gave the word, which I have forgotten for ‘that place in the middle of your back that you can’t reach’.  My first thought was ‘well I don’t have one of those’; having a short body and long limbs I can reach everywhere on my back – someone else said the same in the comments).  Today’s word was overmorrow, with the fairly obvious meaning of the day after tomorrow.  Such a nice word - I’ll make an concerted effort to add it to my vocabulary.  Not just a word someone has made up either – first recorded usage 1535.   Just getting an email with such a nice word has made me very happy – I shall go and take a dip and forget about the appliances.  Who needs them anyway?  What’s wrong with a knife and chopping board?  And why print when I can email? 

Till next time J

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Happy Christmas

I am now officially on holiday.  I have achieved what I wanted to do - all five of my completed books are up and running on Amazon, after enormous difficulty with the third one, But a Dream - for some reason the formatting was a nightmare - I had to upload 19 versions before I was satisfied with the end result.  But whatever, it is done and will be ready within a couple of days.  (BTW three of my five books will be free on Kindle on Boxing Day - see ).

I don't know quite how Amazon works - my fifth book, Rock-a-Bye Baby, is up on as either a paperback or an eBook but on only as an eBook thus far.  But they did quote 5-7 days so I need to be patient before I contact their customer service department once again.

But now I am going to relax - and get ready for our holiday.  It's a beautiful day so I am going to fit in a swim in the sea (managed yesterday and the day before in spite of a wind which has now dropped) in between wrapping and packing.

Book number six is going well - I am not allowing myself to write a lot and am not even planning to take my laptop on holiday with me but I might just put a few thing on a USB stick so that if I really need to I can write a little,  but not to the point of being unsociable - a real danger when I write, though from all I hear that's very common with writers. 

We are going to a Carols by Candlelight picnic in our church grounds this evening - we go to a beautiful little stone church set between the mountain and the sea in Kalk Bay, a popular resort with a working fishing harbour, so we should be able to look out over the sea while singing carols - it doesn't get much better than that!

This will almost certainly be my last post till I get back so I take this opportunity to wih you a Blessed Christmas and a successful and Happy 2013 (that is assuming we all survive 21st December but I read somewhere that the Mayan's accuracy with dates was questionable so it might be out by about 300 years so I'm not worrying too much).

My sister sent me this delightful clip which I must share with you

Till next time :)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Keeping busy over the silly season

Such a busy time of year!  Presents to buy, parties to go to, so much going on.  And the shops are so crowded and the parking is so bad that even the most mundane shopping takes twice as long.

Added to which we are going to Singapore next week and I have a lot to prepare before we go, including making batches of dehydrated biscuits, both sweet and savoury to take with us.  Our daughter is afraid that, as raw vegans, we might otherwise starve. 

Also, just to keep ourselves out of mischief, we have been painting (not actually me - my sinuses react very badly to paint - but Colin and a painter) and preparing a very small flat which we have bought to rent out.  Timing is not great - but the sale only completed last week so everything is in a big rush.

And then I finished my fifth book, Rock-a-Bye Baby, and have been proofing it, and editing it over the weekend.   I am hoping to get it up and running on Amazon before we leave.   My internet was down last week for just over 48 hours which I found most frustrating but which actually removed the distraction eough for me to finish my book.  Unfortunately book number six has jumped into my head.  I am trying very hard not to spend time on that now but the temptation is there.  I don't know why I get these ideas - I think it's in the order of 'nature abhors a vacuum' ( just looked that up - it was Aristotle - did you know that?  I didn't).  As soon as I finish, or almost finish one story another takes its place.

Retired?  A lady who lunches?  I should be so lucky!

Till next time :)

Monday, 3 December 2012

Kirstenbosch Sunset Concert


We had a great day yesterday.  Went to church early - it was Advent Sunday so Christmas is just around the corner.

 It was very hot so when we came home I fought with formatting my books for a few hours.  Fortunately in the middle of my despair (tearing my hair out over the stupid things my computer does - nothing to do with me of course!) I got an email from Jan, the lovely computer teacher my friend recommended.  She said she could see me on Monday afternoon.  Made me feel much better knowing that if I couldn't sort it out at least she could. 

Then off to Kirstenbosch for one of the first of the new season's sunset concerts.  The world renowned Kirstenbosch with the back of Table Mountain as a backdrop, and about 30 000 people picnicking, drinking local wines, and dancing to the music of Mango Groove, who have been one of South Africa's top groups since their first smash hit in 1989.  And a well deserved reputation too - their music is a mixture of rock, jazz and local rhythms - just fantastic.  Such an amazing atmosphere too!

When we got home I found we had to turn the TV up - literally deafened by the music.  But a great evening.

This morning, inspired by the thought that Jan was coming, I managed to sort out one of my formatting problems myself.  The pagination had gone wrong - page numbers went from 228 to 230 which meant the odd and even page headers were also in the wrong places.  So I deleted a page break and reinserted it and it worked!  Rather like turning the computer off at the wall.  In fact Jan did something similar on another manuscript where the margins had gone wrong - she deleted a blank page then reinserted it.  So I am learning - but slowly. 

I should be able to do everything myself for book number five - unfortunately I have been so busy with formatting issues I have had no time to write but all over soon, fingers crossed :)

Till next time :)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

baby boomer writer!

I have just discovered that I am a baby boomer writer!  I didn't know that.  I have started a new blog

So I might not post to this one so much.

I have my first novel, Pieces of a Puzzle on a free kindle promotion this weekend.   I paid someone to advertise it on a varierty of websites and facebook pages, but very small response so far.  I realsied that almost everyone else is promoting YA fantasy and horror - they aren't interested in my type of writing.  So looking around I found I was a BB writer.  Sounds like a song: I want to be a BB writer, no I actually think that was the Beatles and it was paperback writer.   So I am now looking for ways to promote my books on websites for and by others who are also labelled baby boomers.  Whatever happened to fiction or non fiction?  Much simpler!

We have had gale force winds the last couple of days.  My sister phoned yesterday and told me that she had heard on the radio that the SPCA were advising owners of dogs under 10kg (ours is about 4 and a half) not to take them out as they could get blown away!  Fortunately for Phoebe she had already had two wlalks and was still around to tell the tale.

Till next time :)

Monday, 26 November 2012

And for my next trick?

Well the big promo has been and gone.  I think on the whole it was very successful.  As a complete unknown I had nearly 4000 copies of my books downloaded.  OK I don't get any money from that but it does mean there are 4000 copies of my work floating around, presumably most being read or will be read.  I have to wait and see how many sales this generates - so far only a very small trickle in the US.  However it's all a learning curve.  I gather I shouldn't have used up my free days all at once and shouldn't have done my books at the same time.  But I'm not really sorry - as I said I am a newcomer to all this.  And I don't think I'd have had even the same number proportionately if I had run the promos on one book at a time.  But I'm learning.  I have scheduled a 2 day free promo on Pieces of a Puzzle for this weekend, the 1st and 2nd of December.  And I am trying to get notices put on various websites announcing this.  Funnily enough I have sold more copies of Puzzle than any of the others - presumably people thought if the others were free they would just buy that one.  So let's see if it works the other way around.   I still need some reviews of course.  There are websites you can use but I'd far rather have genuine unsolicited ones.

I am also working away trying to get my books ready as paperbacks on Amazon.   I thought that would be a good idea especially with Christmas coming.  I am doing it the slow laborious way.  Perhaps by the time I get to my 10th book I'll know how to do it and it will take me less than half a day to format one book, even using Create Space's preformatted template.  One thing I have done is put in the author's bio of each book that my fifth book Rock-a-bye Baby will be out by the end of the year.  So now that I have set myself a deadline I'd better get cracking and finish it!  I should have lots of time over the next couple of weeks (three weeks and one day till we go to Singapore).  My volunteering at the school finishes this week and my bridge partner has gone to Sydney for a barmitzvah and only gets back as we leave.   So no excuses.

Colin has gone to our council offices for the eighth time.  We are trying to put in a very small splash pool in the corner of our very small garden and need planning permission.  Each time we take them all the forms they come up with a new requirement, which they hadn't mentioned before.   Our pool man is getting throughly fed up - although Cape Town is one city there are several different municipal offices each of which has different requirements.  He says if he had to do all this running around he's have to charge twice as much for the pool.  We had hoped to have it before Christmas but it is looking less like it by the second.  As I write Colin has just got in - having successfully handed in the plans!  There were 6 different people to see at 6 different desks with 6 different queues - over two hours.  No wonder Jan, the pool man won't do it! 

Our lagoon has a flock of flamingos on it!  First time ever that we have seen flamingoes here, although they are at several lakes and lagoons a few miles away.  There were lots of pelicans a few months back but there was a reason for that - something to do with an algae bloom which was killing the fish so that wasn't really desirable.  The only large birds there normally are the Egyptian geese and the Hadeda ibises (so called because that's the noise they make).    In our little garden we have a sunbird feeder so attract beautiful sunbirds in wintertime - but not at this time of year as there are too many nectar bearing flowers out. 

Time for Phoebe's walk.  Till next time :)


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Kindle Freebies and chameleons in the garden

This is the first time I have experienced offering ebooks free as a Kindle promotion.  I had no idea if it would work or how anybody would find the books.  I sent out emails to everyone I could think of who might be interested (or would do it as a favour) and also put it on my virtually unused Facebook page.  My daughter also put it on her Facebook page.   Then I waited. 

And boom people started finding the books.  Far more people than we had contacted.  It's most exciting - as I write this after two and half days of the promotion there have been nearly 1500 downloads - over 1000 in America, or from the American site anyway.   I'm obsessed - I've drawn up a spreadsheet of the books and the countries and keep checking and updating.  I'm even getting some sales of Pieces of a Puzzle, which is not a freebie.  And Amazon screwed up - Fisherman's Dream is not yet available on the US site, although it is up and running as a freebie on  They are looking into it but say it might take till next Tuesday to find what has gone wrong.  I have asked for my freebie promotion then but they are also looking into that. 

Of course once the freebie is over comes the crunch.  I hope enough people will have read the books, and liked them, for the real sales to get going.  I really need some people to click like and to write reviews but don't quite know how to go about it.  I can't really go back to all my friends and ask them for another favour - I'm a writer not a marketer - not thick skinned enough for that.  So if you are reading this please go and click like and if you would be so kind please write a review - doesn't have to be long. :)

I'm now exploring trying to put the books up on Amazon in print, starting with Puzzle, my first.  I am trying to do it myself, as it's quite expensive to get them to do it.  I downloaded a template and have been laboriously copying in chapter after chapter, and checking and removing spaces and checking to see that there aren't half sentences on new pages.  My old computer (or probably the version of Word)had a function to avoid widows and orphans but I can't find it so I'm doing it manually.  But the template only allowed for 10 chapters - I had 14.  So I copied in another 4 from the blank format.  Then the page numbers went nuts, 1 - 201, then started again at 1.  So I had to change them manually as well.  Now I am having trouble changing the header, which is different on odd and even pages.  Ho- hum!  Maybe eventually I'll make enough from my ebook sales to be able to pay someone else to do this next time!  Maybe I should just stick to ebooks but there is something about holding the printed book in your hand, especially one with your name on as author!

Now that summer is here we see the chameleons in our garden.  The endangered cape dwarf chameleon so we feel very privileged.   There aren't that many and they hide very well both in the ivy on the fence and in the oleander trees but we do see them occasionally much to our excitement. 

We also have the endangered western leopard toad in our garden.  Our previous cat used to catch them with great regularity,  She didn't harm them - just caught each one, let it jump then caught it again. We spent hours chasing her and rescuing them, Smudge having no respect for the endangered status of her playthings.  Actually it's amazing they didn't die of fright!   So we have two creatures in our garden that are high on the endangered list which is quite amazing considering our garden is only pocket handerchief size! 

At this time of year gekkos are also plentiful around - there were two beauties in the spareroom yesterday.  Colin caught them very carefully using a plastic container and price of stiff paper and took them outside.  Inside they would have had no chance with Miss Mollie, our tabby.

We also have the almost obligatory worm farm.  The worms are multiplying frantically and escaping into the garden so we have regular visits from a opportunistic hadeda ibis.  It's bigger than either our dog or our cat so while they are both interested they stand and gawp rather than assert their territorial rights.

So our tiny patch, where we attempt to grow most of our vegetables, is a veritable hive of wildlife , though mostly of the small variety!

I need to go and update my spreadsheet.  No one from Italy or Japan yet, though 2 from Spain, 1 from France, about 35 from Germany, the rest from the US and the UK.    

Till next time :)