Research the Business, Baby!

K.P. Gresham Cropped Color Portrait Written by K. P. Gresham

Who Are You Writing For? If it’s for yourself, and you have no intention of selling your book, go for it!  There’s a story in your head you have to get on paper, and you don’t care if anyone buys it. You can write anything you want, (and stop reading the rest of this blog). Just go do your thing and enjoy!

2018-08-01 kp gresham www pixabay cc0 books-3253834_640However, if you have aspirations to get this book on the market, a writer must take off the fictional hat and get down to business.  Literally.

I recently attended the Writer’s League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference in Austin, Texas. Thank you, WLT!!  Here are some magical tidbits that I heard that most assuredly involve research.

  1. What’s your market? When you pitch your book, design your cover, etc., what will stand out on the shelves? For that matter, where will your book appear on the shelf in bookstores? Are you writing a mystery? Science Fiction? Gardening? Genre matters.
  2. Who’s your audience? A romance writer has a very good idea what his or her audience is expecting. I’m confident that if your female/male protagonists is killed off at the end of the book, some people will throw your book at the wall when (and if) they finish it. Word of mouth probably won’t do you any favors.
  3. How does your audience receive information? If they are under thirty, consider Instagram to promote your book. Maybe the book isn’t finished or even half-way written but you can still build the outreach platform. Knowing your market/audience should provide good idea on how to connect with your readers so that you can keep your name and brand in front of them.
  4. If your intended audience is an agent or an editor, who should you pitch to? I’m talking specifics here. Go to the acknowledgement page at the back of your favorite authors’ books (or at least ones to whom you liken your manuscript) and check out the names of the agents and editors that they thank. This is a great source of knowing the NAMES of the folks who like to handle the kind of book you are writing. Once you get these names, go to their websites. Does the extended info you now have on this agent/editor look like a match for your needs? What are their submission requirements? Do they want just a query letter, or a synopsis, or the first five pages of your manuscript? Do they want it sent snail mail or email? Don’t waste your time or their’s by not complying with information that is readily available to you.

These are only four examples of items you need to know about from the business end of writing. A lot to keep track of? You don’t even know what questions to ask? Who can you turn to for help?

The answer is simple. Your writing community. Fellow authors, teachers, folks that you meet at conferences. Chances are you have a state or regional organization that can give you guidance—here in Texas, we are blessed to have the incredibly active and nurturing Writers League of Texas.  Within your own genre there will be folks to help you as well.  I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, the Heart of Texas Chapter. A lot of my fellow members have gone through what I’m going through. Writing is enough of a solitary experience. I need to surround myself with others who have the same questions, problems, etc. as me.

If you want to make money selling your books, hopes and misguided self-confidence will do you no favors. Research the business, baby.

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K.P. Gresham, author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery series and Three Days at Wrigley Field, moved to Texas as quick as she could. Born Chicagoan, K.P. and her husband moved to Texas, fell in love with not shoveling snow and are 30+ year Lone Star State residents. She finds that her dual country citizenship, the Midwest and Texas, provide deep fodder for her award-winning novels. Her varied careers as a media librarian and technical director, middle school literature teacher and theatre playwright and director add humor and truth to her stories. A graduate of Houston’s Rice University Novels Writing Colloquium, K.P. now resides in Austin, Texas, where life with her tolerant but supportive husband and narcissistic Chihuahua is acceptably weird.

Making a Killing

DSCN1633 (3) Cartoon by guest poster David Davis

 

2018-07-31 WWW DDAVIS COPYRIGHTED 157 mystery novel

Alien Resort © David Davis. All rights reserved.

 

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Before becoming a cartoonist, David Davis produced, directed, and wrote sci-fi videos. Notable among them is Invisible Men Invade Earth, which received the Judge’s Choice award at the 2017 What the Fest Film Festival (Dallas); the Out of This World award at the 2016 Lionshead Film Festival (Dallas); and the Most Original Concept award at the 2016 Houston Comedy Film Festival. His films also appeared at the 2017 Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase; 2017 Dallas Medianale; 2012 Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont, Texas, and the 2012 CosmiCon and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Roswell, New Mexico.

Andrew Whalen of Playerone.com writes that David’s Reverse Effects, screened at the 2015 Fantastic Fest (Austin) “is almost like a living comic strip, but undeniably vigorous and fascinating.” He also labeled David “eccentric,” but the jury is still out on that.

David is now working on his first animated cartoon video.

3 Ways to Get More Comfortable with Self-Promotion

You know you need to self-promote, but it feels so icky! Try these quick tips for getting comfortable with getting your work OUT there.

 

 

 

Cole Smith

 

by Cole Smith

 

Why does self-promotion feel so icky?

 

We’re much more likely to promote our friends and favorite authors than we are to promote our own work. So look at yourself from a distance. Treat yourself like someone you care about and promote the work you believe in.

 

 

Social Media

I get it. There are so many sales pitches in your news feed already: cosmetics, health products, monogrammed totes, kitchen supplies, etc. You don’t want to spam your followers with a constant stream of advertising. So post something about your work once a week. The rest of the time, be focused on others. Remember to give, give, give, ask. People are always interested in a behind-the-scenes glimpse at others’ jobs, so occasionally pull back the curtain on your own creative process, too.

 

 

Local Media

Calling up the newspaper or tv station can be terrifying. What really helped me phone up our newspaper last spring was an emotion that’s, in my opinion, undervalued: anger. I’ve wanted to publish a book since I was eleven years old. I got really angry I hadn’t done it yet, and so it was much easier to coast on the fumes of that motivation. During launch week, I had just enough sassiness left to fire off an email to the paper. It went something like, “Hey, I’m having a launch party for my novel, thought you guys might want to come.” Note: there was no wheedling or begging or apologizing. My tone was a little cheeky, but still respectful and (mostly) professional. In other words, I’m doing this because I love it and it’s what I do. Come be a part of it.

 

 

Your Own Website

You definitely need to flood your website with your products, appearances, and other opportunities for your fans to connect with you. Put share buttons in your footers and along the sidebar. Remind readers to share and to review. Put a call to action in every post, newsletter and menu. And use the Golden Rule. How would you, as a reader, want to be treated? You don’t mind polite reminders when you truly love someone’s content. But if an online marketer is pushy, and you can’t get to their content without jumping through six hoops each time you want to access it, you’ll eventually abandon them, right? Don’t be that guy. Instead, offer great value and clear, considerate calls-to-action.

 

 

Though many writers are introverts, and the thought of public promotion is daunting, we have to get over it. Self-promotion is like so many other skills—with practice, we improve and feel more confident. Don’t just hope others spread the word about your work. Get out there and promote it, too.

 

For you, what’s the most difficult aspect of self-promotion? What do you need to work on?

 

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Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at her blog, Cole Smith Writes. Her cozy mystery set in smallish-town West Virginia, Waiting for Jacob, is available here.

 

Let’s get social! Find me on Facebook and Pinterest .

 

 

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Seven

Kathy Waller UnCon 10 06 2016 Written by M. K. Waller (and others)

23:59 hours.

That’s how late I am in getting this post online.

That’s how late I am in writing this post I’m late in getting online.

Instead of belaboring the point, I’m going to do something I should do more often–remind you of some fine posts I didn’t write that deserve another look.

Here are seven–click on the title links to read. And there are more where these came from:

 

OBSESSING ON ELF EARS…

by Mike Staton

Mike Staton

Please forgive me. I’m so embarrassed. I just don’t know if I can actually write this post. I’ll do my very best. You see I have this peculiar fascination with ears – not with any old ears. Elf ears… the long pointed ones that project out from the heads of lady elves.

My admission is not something that makes me proud. I’d rather have a fascination with ice fishing or deep-sea diving. Spending way too much time looking at paintings of elven princesses sporting ears that nearly reach to the top of trees is an obsession that has nearly ruined my life….

KEEP ON WRITING

by Neva Bodin

IMG_1659aTuesday I was invited to go to the Willow Creek Ranch where a writer’s retreat was hosting Craig Johnson for supper. Craig is the successful author of the Longmire series in book form, then on TV and now on Netflix. He is also a very nice Wyoming rancher.

It’s about 70 miles from our house. The first 40 miles was great. We’d received almost an inch of rain in the 12 hours right before we left. But as many WY roads do, pavement turned to dirt—meaning clay, which is probably full of bentonite.

Bentonite is a material mined in this area for many commercial purposes. It has colloidal properties that cause it to swell to several times its original size when wet. It is used in cat litter, as a lubricant, purifier and clarifier in producing iron ore pellets, building materials and edible oils. It’s used in cosmetics, animal food, paper making, dyes, detergents and more.

It also takes control of your four-wheel drive wheels, is slippery and tries to be in charge any time you work with it. It shift buildings, causing cracks etc. And if you get stuck in it with a four-wheel drive, you are stuck….

***

3 SHORT, FUN, WRITING EXERCISES

by Cole Smith

CHARACTER ANIMALS

Cole SmithDo you remember the game, “If You Were An Animal You’d Be…?” (Well, if you never played it, you’ve missed the opportunity to feel bent out of shape when someone suggests you’d be a chipmunk. It still stings!) This exercise is a little like that game….

 

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BECAUSE I SAID SO! BY CHER’LEY

by Cher’ley Grogg

CherleyAs many of you know, I am now in charge of my great-grandchildren, for how long I don’t know, but my grandson is on a solitary journey of being in the military and caring for a 2 1/2 and a 1-year-old. So far I have not said, “Because I said so.” But I may resort to that. It’s been 4o some years since I have had to care for babies, and I am going on 66….

 

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WHAT’S YOUR COMFORT ZONE?

by Keri DeDeo

Keri De DeoIt’s been over a year since I quit my job, and although I’m much happier, I’m uncomfortable. It took some time to figure out why. It wasn’t until I stumbled onto a book as I unpacked a box. It’s called Do Big Small Things, and it’s a travel journal of sorts. I bought it back in 2016 when I was struggling with my life—finding it difficult to go to work and struggled with a kind of identity crisis. I hadn’t done much with the book, but a few weeks ago when I rediscovered it, I opened it and started completing some of the activities. It wasn’t until I got to the page that directed me to do something out of my comfort zone when I had a “eureka” moment.

Comfort zone!? I’m completely out of my comfort zone….

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WEDDING RECEPTIONS IN THE YOU-TUBE ERA

by Norine Cedeno

HOTXSINC HeadshotsWhat’s going on with wedding receptions these days?

My husband and I were apparently married in a bygone era, the pre-YouTube era. Consequently, our bridesmaids and groomsmen did not choreograph dances, put on a ballet, or produce a Broadway musical during our reception for the entertainment of our guests. I would never have asked them to do so. And, it wouldn’t have occurred to them.

Now, the newly engaged search YouTube for what’s “traditional” at wedding receptions. Because if it’s “traditional,” it must be on YouTube, right?

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DREAM 

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

abbie profileI woke up in a hospital room. In the next bed, a friend of mine, with whom I attend water exercise classes at the YMCA, was talking, apparently, to someone visiting her. It wasn’t clear how I got here, but I had a vague recollection of being sick at home and another friend stopping by and taking me to the emergency room, where I was admitted after a battery of tests.

How had my friend gotten into my house? As sick as I was, it would probably never have occurred to me to unlock the doors so someone could get in, let alone call for help. I’d given my friend a key once so she could stay in my house while I was out of town, but she’d long since returned it to me…

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Why Blog?

Why Blog?

By Doris McCraw

Angela Raines FB photo
July is almost over. For most of us, we are more than half-way through the year. I like to take the time to take stock of where I am in my plans and goals.

Perhaps you’ve asked yourselves these same questions. Am I on target in our writing? How about that ‘blessed’ thing called marketing? How does blogging, and the time it takes, fit into all that? Why blog if no one reads or comments on what I’ve taken the time to think, research and write about? I rethink this every year, asking myself the same thing, why blog?

For me the answer is a bit complex. I’ll break it down into three sections. 1. Marketing 2. Research and 3. Name recognition, (the one that’s a bit tricky for me.)

1. Marketing:

If we write stories, be they short, flash or full length, we want people to read them. Even with non-fiction we want the information to get to those who might enjoy what we’ve researched and written.

For someone like me, who writes slow, there can be a long time between the various stories. Added to that, I write in two historical genres: Western and Medieval. I love both equally. You add to that the poetry I occasionally write, along with non-fiction work, and it gets busy. Facebook can only do so much, as well as emails. Plus, how do you expand your readership. To me, blogging is one of those ways.

I realize not everyone will like what I write, despite my desire that they do. At the same time, finding those readers who will like my work, is a challenge. It helps to use all the options at my disposal, and blogging is one of those for me.

6-4-2012 cc 097
Photo (c) by author

2. Research:

This is probably the primary reason I blog. I want to share the research I have done with others. History and the people who made it are a compulsion with me. To tell the stories of the people and places from history is something I want to do. I don’t want those pieces from the past to be lost. The nice thing about blogs, especially with the tags, your posts are available via searches almost forever.

For close to ten years I’ve been researching the story of a Colorado criminal. I haven’t written much about him, for he has been hiding the rest of his story. Since the Pikes Peak Library History Symposium presentation on June 9 of this year, I’ve started telling his story via the written word. In fact, I recently submitted the paper based on the presentation for possible publication in the book the library will publish on the topic, Remarkable Rascals, Despicable Dudes and Hidden Heroes.

The other research that’s important for me to share is the story of the early women doctors in Colorado. While ‘Doc Susie’ is a part of that story, it has been slanted her way for far to long. There were so many others who did as much if not more than she. If the book of their lives never gets written by me, at least I’ve shared enough that others have a place to start and find out more based on the blogs I’ve written, and will continue to write.

The stories of the doctors and so many others need to be preserved for future generations. When you feel like you can’t do something, just take a look at what those who preceded you did. It sometimes helps when put into that perspective.

Doris_McGraw_Angela_Raines_L&L_Chasing_a_Chance_EBOOK

3  Name Recognition:

Since I write fiction under a pen name: Angela Raines, it is important I share that information on my posts. When you add my online name, Renawomyn, it gets a bit tricky.

At the same time, my non-fiction work is important. I simply do not want readers of romance to pick up a book with my real name expecting a sweet story and they are reading about juvenile delinquents, early criminals or lynchings. By using pen names I hope to avoid that problem. Of course the reverse could also be true. Can you imagine buying one of my books about the trials and tribulations of early women doctors, and find your reading a story about a medieval woman and the man she loves?

In the end, whether anyone reads or comments on my blog posts, I have things I want to say. Yes, it hurts when no one seems to care, but in the long run, it’s the future I write for. So, here’s to the future and to the readers who just have to know what I have to share.

And on a lighter note, the book birthday for my first story is this July. It will be four years old. How time does fly.

Home_For_His_Heart_McCraw_cover
Purchase Here

Doris Gardner-McCraw –

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Member of National League of American Pen Women,

Women Writing the West,

Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners


Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here

Photo and Poem: Click Here

Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Just Google It?

By N. M. Cedeño

 

What kinds of questions do you ask the internet to answer for you? I, like many adults who came of age before widespread usage of the internet, have learned to search the internet for answers to a variety of simple questions. We routinely ask Google or other search engines to spell words, find quotes, discover who that actor in that movie was, get driving directions, and find recipes. For these simple tasks, asking the internet has become a habit. We’ve even learned to check the internet for directions for easy projects around the house. Having an expert at the tips of your fingers is fabulous.

And yet, many of us still don’t automatically check the internet for information when we can. Perhaps this is because computers haven’t always been our place to go for answers. We grew up having to do research in books, having to consult the dictionary for spellings, and checking encyclopedias for basic knowledge questions. Consequently, despite knowing we have the internet at our disposal, we don’t always remember to go to it.

For instance, one time a small bird came into my house via the front door. It had been perching on the Christmas wreath when the door was opened inward. The bird took flight upward into a two story entryway and found itself upstairs. Although we chased the bird around the room from one perch to another and scared the bird poo out of it, we weren’t even remotely close to catching it. Finally, my husband looked at me, perplexed after another failed attempt to trap the bird, and said, “How do you get a bird out of a house?”

Then, something clicked in my head, and I said, “I don’t know. Google it!”

For some reason, until my husband phrased the problem as a straight-forward question, checking the internet for the answer hadn’t occurred to either of us. Once we realized that we had access to an answer, we asked, and the internet answered. To remove a bird, darken the room and get a blanket. The bird will settle in one place because, not being nocturnal, it doesn’t see well enough to fly at night. Once the bird stops moving, it’s relatively easy to walk up to it in the dark, toss a blanket over it, gather it up, and release it outside the house. This worked like a charm the first time we tried it.

Another time, I found an old recipe, possibly written by my grandmother, but originally intended for someone other than me. The recipe described a simple method for making wine from grapes, but it included a word that I assumed was Czech, a language spoken by my grandparents. While I could guess the meaning of the word based on context, I wanted to verify it. However, it was late in the evening, and I didn’t want to bother my then 97-year-old grandmother with the question. Of course, one of my kids said, “Mom, just google it.”

The word on the recipe paper was spelled “qvasit” or “quast,” neither of which produced a reasonable meaning in translating programs. Realizing based on family history that the recipe’s writer probably spoke Czech, but never had to write it, I tried varying the spelling, but still couldn’t find the word. Finally, I took the word I guessed for the English translation and asked Google to translate it to Czech. This worked. The word “ferment” in English is “kvasit” in Czech. Since it ended up taking a lot longer to find an online answer, it probably would have been easier to ask a speaker of Czech. Maybe I didn’t remember to check the internet since my brain had already identified a quicker or easier route. Or maybe I didn’t think of it because I don’t routinely translate words online.

How about you? Are there things you forget you can look up online?

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N.M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her début novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).

THE MISSING AUDIENCE

I’m not sure where this came from but it is good advice and I’d like writers to think about it. Unfortunately I did not originate this and don’t know who did, but, like I said, it’s good advice. .

A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE COMPANY RUNS ADS IN NEWSPAPERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, ARRANGES FOR INTERVIEWS OF A PARTICULAR MOVIES STARS AND ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO GO SEE A MOVIE … THAT IS NOT AVAILABLE IN THEATERS OR ON VIDEO, AND NO SPECIFIC PLANS ARE SET FOR GETTING IT THERE. DO YOU THINK MOVIE PATRONS WILL GO INTO THEATERS AND⁄OR VIDEO STORES AND REQUEST THE MOVIE? NO! THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN IN THE MOVIE INDUSTRY BECAUSE IT DOES NOT WORK. MOVIE PRODUCERS WOULD GO BROKE. MOVIE GOERS WOULD BE FRUSTRATED. IS THE WORLD OF PUBLISHING ANY DIFFERENT?

THIS SCENARIO DOES HAPPEN EVERY DAY IN THE BOOK INDUSTRY. EXCITED-TO GET GOING AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS LAUNCH THEIR PUBLIC RELATIONS CAMPAIGNS WITHOUT A SOLID AND EFFECTIVE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM, EXPECTING THEIR PROMOTION EFFORTS TO PULL THEIR BOOKS THROUGH THE SYSTEM.

THIS DOES NOT WORK. THE END RESULT IS FRUSTRATION ON THE PART OF EVERYONE CONCERNED.THE PUBLISHER MAKES NO SALES BECAUSE INTERESTED READERS CANNOT BUY THE BOOK IN ANY BOOKSTORE. PRINT MEDIA RARELY INCLUDE 800#.S OR PUBLISHER CONTACT INFORMATION.THE POTENTIAL READERS ARE FRUSTRATED BECAUSE A BOOK THAT CAUGHT THEIR INTEREST IS NOT REALLY AVAILABLE TO THEM OR SO THEY ARE TOLD BY THE (YOU GUESSED IT) FRUSTRATED CLERK AT THE BOOKSTORE.

THE MEDIA IS FRUSTRATED WHEN THE PUBLISHER TRIES TO GET ANOTHER STORY PLACED AFTER THE DISTRIBUTION HAS BEEN COORDINATED CORRECTLY. BY THEN, THE BOOK IS OLD NEWS.

ALL THE TOOLS, STRATEGIES, TECHNIQUES AND IDEAS IN MARKETINGWILL DO NOTHING FOR YOU IF YOUR BOOK IS NOT AVAILABLE TO YOUR TARGET MARKET.

Do not begin promoting your book until your distribution is handled!

 

D. Ciambrone

Let’s have a neighborhood block party

Mike StatonThis blog post written by Mike Staton.

# # #

I’ve so many memories of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Of course, those years were seen through the eyes of a little boys, through the eyes of innocence.

Of course, the turbulence beyond my little world never sizzled to consciousness – Browns vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, the Little Rock Central High Desegregation Crisis, the dogs and jetted water spraying the Civil Rights protesters of Birmingham Campaign, Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech.

My world rarely went beyond the Saturday morning cartoons, the playground at Rialto, California’s Meyers Elementary School, the San-Ri Little League baseball park, the ding-a-ling ice cream truck singing out its merry tune, the downtown movie theater in nearby San Bernardino, and my maternal grandparents’ front porch.

When I think of the front porch on that house on Fourth Street in Rittman, Ohio, I think of the word neighborliness. I don’t think it’s a word in use much nowadays. Maybe we should substitute cellphone texting. Sometimes in the summer the family would pile into the Ford Falcon or take the train to Ohio and visit the maternal and fraternal grandparents. In the evenings, I’d sit on the swing with Grandma Mid and Grandpa Frog and watch the doings in the Fourth Street neighborhood, and maybe the arrival of a thunder shower. The photo that accompanies this post shows my baby sister Jody and I with our grandparents at our house in Wadsworth, Ohio, just before we moved to California in the summer of 1957.

gramps grandma

I was only ten or so, but I can still remember Grandma Mid chatting with her neighbors – Edna on one side and Marge on the other. Sometimes we’d go to their porch, other times they’d join us on grandma’s porch. And sometimes we’d just holler back and forth. People were so friendly back then. What happened? Why did our society’s social fabric fray so badly? Do people even hold block parties nowadays?

I have my theories, but I’d like to hear yours if you’re willing to comment. I’ve noticed that our posts don’t get many comments nowadays – not like in the past. News columnists say we’ve divided into tribes.

We need Mr. Rogers to come back to life and say, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

# # #

I’m an author with four published novels that include a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The fourth novel is a historical romance set during the Civil War. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Trees Were Us, by Stevie Turner

After 27 years of living in our current house in the Suffolk countryside, we decided the time was right to have our driveway tarmacked. The old concrete was cracking up and it was a constant battle to stop weeds growing up through the cracks. We obtained the usual 3 quotes and decided on the middle one, not too cheap and nasty, but £6000 cheaper than the most expensive offer.

Came the day in early July when a digger and 3 burly workmen arrived in our garden to start on the edging along the main drive and then along the path to the front door. Sam was supposed to have trimmed the sides of two large evergreen trees overhanging the side of the path (planted by the previous owners back in the 1980s), but what with our holiday and his business trip to Italy, this never got done.

Within a short time the doorbell rang. The workmen were having difficulty installing the edging, as the two evergreens with their huge roots were in the way. It was a case of ending the edging three quarters of the way along the path before it got to the trees, or removing the trees and continuing the edging and tarmacking along the path to the front door.

With Sam in Italy it was down to me (with a heavy heart I might add) to give the instruction to remove the trees. Sam had never liked them anyway, so I knew he wouldn’t mind, but now he would need to find somewhere else to twist his Christmas lights around. I hate the thought of chopping down any tree, but to end the tarmac and edging before the end of the path would definitely have looked rather odd.

This picture charts the first stage in the process. The trees in question took up the spaces just in front of the two small bushes by the front door. Within the blink of an eye they were gone. They had been over 8ft tall, and all of a sudden our downstairs rooms at the front seemed much lighter.  Note the poor grass because we’ve had no rain for 6 weeks.

First day.JPG

Here’s a picture from Christmas 2015 where you can just see one of the two bushes and also one of the contentious trees in front (without any lights on that year):

My house.jpg

I must say, the finished driveway and path looks lovely now it’s done, but it was at the expense of two living plants.  Perhaps I’m just sentimental about trees!

Now all we need is some topsoil around the edges and rather a lot of rain…

Tarmac.JPG

A Positive Spin #writerslife #amreading

By Ronel Janse van Vuuren

I’ve had an interesting month thus far. Well, “interesting” is putting a positive spin on things.

Tony spent a week at the vet’s: he was listless and losing weight for no apparent reason. After numerous tests (mostly to rule out the really scary stuff like cancer), it finally turned out to be a rare form of Addison’s Disease. And it’s treatable. Yay! He still needs ‘round the clock care by mummy (I have to watch his temperature, make sure he eats, make sure that what comes out looks healthy, give him his meds, keep him calm, etc.), but he’s home and looking a lot better.

Here’s a pic from last week at the vet’s:

Yesterday he barked at the neighbours! Fabulous improvement. I can only hope that he gets back to being my mischievous boy who always asks “why not?”.

I couldn’t write at all, of course. So I read. A lot. (I have reviews for Goodreads ready until end of September…)

One of the best non-fiction books I read was Jane Friedman’s “The Business of Being a Writer”. I only gave it four stars, but the reasons are explained within the review (see link).

The reason I really like this book is because I learned something new about my own published works:

“Short story collections are distinctly literary work.” And literary work doesn’t sell as well as commercial work.

Wow. And here I thought I was just a dark fantasy author. But it does explain the odd sales, amazing ranks on the different Amazon stores during launch week and glowing reviews

The book also gave me hope for the future:

“Committed writers succeed: recognise that most careers are launched, not with a single fabulous manuscript, but through a series of small successes that builds the writer’s network and visibility, step by step.”

Though the month hadn’t gone as planned – neither did last month – I feel positive that things can only improve from here on out.

On a side note: Tony is actually currently as grumpy as a faery dog character I’d based on him. Seems I know my boy a lot better than I thought.

Have you had any surprising revelations about your writing?

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers.

Connect with Ronel:

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