Thursday, 29 December 2011

Happy New Year - Will it be your dream year?.

I know this is a cheating double up re-post but 3 comments! Sheesh... Believe it, you need a brand image even if you're with a publisher!!! Colour co-ordination on blogs will help in creating image and your author persona as well. Blue implies cold, red hot, pastel shades can appear bland to the eye unless a theme i.e., romantic, historical, other. Chick-Lit on the other hand needs to be sparky, perhaps even with ly tagged on, whereas fantasy and Sci-Fi is best when reflecting other-worldly influences.

BTW: don't forget I have a contemporary novel coming out with a publisher in July 2012. No idea what I'll get as cover image, but they have produced some gorgeous covers for other authors. So it's a wait and see. But hey, in the meantime my self-pubbed novels are still jumping onto peoples Kindles.

Two little words "Brand Image" and some people go to pieces just thinking about branding themselves, by that I mean selling their image as a writer even when they're lucky enough to be contracted to a publisher. Let's be honest a stomping three-book-deal and vast advance are few and far between. Small advances and tentative three-book-deals are far more common. Authors are only really in-house once their second book has sold as well if not better than their first, presupposing the first one flew off the shelves due to invested advertising by their publisher. But let's not forget author input on self-advertising, which comes naturally to those of a bent or flair for seeking attention. Of course, by their third book it is expected they will have gained a huge following. Now this doesn't always happen, in fact doesn't happen in big chunks, because remaindered book depots are testament to unsold books. If the latter happens a publisher has the choice of dropping any author once a contract is at end. Some do, hence we see books by specific authors under differing publisher names. That said, some get head-hunted, too, and are sometimes paid vast sums of money to switch publishers. This happy conclusion usually only happens to best-selling authors who regularly churn out best-selling titles. But, it's been happening to Indie (self-pubbed) authors as well. I think we all know who they are by now, and I dare say there will be other million-sellers on Amazon in the future.  


Love it or hate it we're all familiar with the little brown pot above. It hasn't changed! Why should it. If you love it you can't miss seeing it in a super-market because you know what you're looking for. 

Take this same principal but equate it to Hollywood and the movies! We knew exactly what we were going to get from this man when he was dressed like this. 

And in some respects he became the brand image for "Spaghetti Westerns", but that's not to say he wasn't good in the Dirty Harry movies and other memorable movies! Though as teenager I can remember drooling over him as Rowdy Yates in the TV series Rawhide. 

So, how are you going to brand you and your wares if you're thinking of going Indie? Have you thought about book designs etc?  To be honest I hadn't really given a specific image much thought. But I have now, and I'm going black chic. At least I'm hoping that's the effect I'm portraying for my latest attempts at book design for the Kindle e-market. How else can a familiar and recognisable brand be achieved?

Hence my book covers will be thus... see my image factory!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest & RFW Challenge!

Thanks to D. L. Hammons: Nicole, Lydia and Katie for co-hosting...

This old post is entered for the Deja Vu blogfest and doubling up for Romantic Friday Writers' Challenge "Sparkle".

If you're a Brit you'll know all about the Pantomime Season - when men dress up as Dames and Women take on the role of Principal boys. Yep, we Brits have real crazy traditions.

The thing with a Panto, is that the scripts are designed to entertain the kiddos with slap-stick humour. Meantime, double entendre roll over cute little kiddo heads and whisper in the ears of the adults, and believe it, raucous laughter then erupts while the kids scream and yell in all innocence of fun and merriment!   

So, with this blogfest, as a writer you have the opportunity to let rip with a twisted fairy tale!
How you kidnap the Seven Dwarves, turn Cinderella into a vampire, blow up Aladdin's Cave, shoot the fairy off the Christmas tree, or assassinate Santa, is entirely up to you. 

Start of Panto: note the names of characters!

The theme for this blogfest is Twisted Fairy Tale - 

Anyhoo, mine is a short presentation of Cinderella (see pic above) - a giggle or two will suffice! 

The ball is in full swing the clock nearing first strike of midnight.  

Starring Adverbia & Adjectivia: the ugly sisters.


‘OMG, who is that?’ croaked Adverbia, a sugared plum immediate to mouth as angst washed over her.

‘Who, what, where?’ screamed short-sighted Adjectivia, agitated in extreme because she always refused to be seen in public wearing spectacles. 

Adverbia, now near to choking, the sugared plum stuck solidly in throat, her reply mere gobbedly-gook. ‘O ‘er tair.’ 

Adjectivia noticed Adverbia's distress and gave a resounding slap to her back.

The sugared plum gunned out of Adverbia's mouth and zoomed across the ballroom. Unfortunately, it ended up wedged in the dowager duchess’ wig, which caused much tittering from Adjectivia. 

The dowager duchess glanced about to ascertain whom had had the audacity to strike her wig a broadside. As she readjusted her lopsided hairpiece her fingers made contact with the now squidgy sugared plum, and eyes narrowed she assessed its velocity on impact and tragectory path.

Her eyes soon settled on Adverbia; yet another sugared plum gripped between fingers. 

Adverbia, engrossed in watching the beautiful young lady dancing with Prince Charming, failed to notice the dowager duchess’ looking her way. 

‘There, there, dancing with Prince Charming,' she screamed, 'can you not see her? Oh Adj do put your specs on.'

Reluctanly Adjectivia raised her specs to eyes. ‘I see, I see,’ she rallied, brow furrowed teeth bared. ‘Grrrrr, spit, damn and blast the strumpet. Who is she?’

‘If I knew why would I be asking you?’ snarled Adverbia, sucking second sugared plum.

‘I cannot imagine your asking me,  at all,‘ replied Adjectivia, fanning her face with a feather-plumed fan. ‘Uh oh, the dowager duchess is coming this way. And, oh my, that plum you near choked on  . . .’ 

Aware of movement beside her, Adjectivia turned to see Adverbia scurrying away.

‘Oh shitzu,’ she exclaimed, and sped after her ugly sister, because no way was she about to take stick from the dowager duchess, whom it was rumoured had a BDSM dungeon where she thwacked a favoured manservant. 

Prince charming noticed the commotion of dowager duchess with silver-topped sword-cane raised and looking as though about to commit murder, his dominatrix aunt already in pursuit of the ugly sisters.

He rushed across to soothe the duchess' enraged state, and copped a crack to shoulder for his trouble. Meanwhile the clock had begun striking the midnight hour. 

Unbeknown to the prince, the beautiful Countess of Makebelieve (former dancing partner heard the clock chiming) and sudden upped and fled the ballroom.

Dandini, the Prince' personal aide, ran after the countess but not a sight of her to be seen.

Strange as it seemed, several white mice were milling around in somewhat confused state at the foot of the palace steps. Stranger still, a hollow pumpkin reminiscent in shape to that of coach minus its wheels and left in the middle of the courtyard. A glass slipper too, then spied on the far side of the steps. 

Dandini picked up the crystal slipper, fondled it, and stood for moment pondering the disappearance of the Countess of Makebelieve. Why would she flee?

Ah, but come to think of it, when first introduced to Baron Noun-Hardup, the young countess had looked radiant? Yet, when the Baron’s new wife flounced toward her, the Countess of Makebelieve's expression fell ashen as though fearful of the ugly sisters' mother, Pronouncia. 

In fact, the more Dandini thought about the strangely beautiful young Countess of Makebelieve, a brief encounter came to mind. 

The young countess had to be none other than the girl Dandini had seen in the market a few days prior to the Great Ball: the blasted Get-a-Wife Ball, essentially a singles ball. 

Damn it all, the mystery countess was indeed Cinderella Noun-Hardup, the baron’s daughter from his first marriage. 

It all made sense now.


Poor Prince Charming, under extreme pressure from his Uncle to secure a would-be bride this very night had implied interest in the Countess of Makebelieve, though far from his desired choice for a life partner. 

And, of course, Noun-Hardup’s second wife had wanted the ugly stepdaughters presented to the Prince excluding the beautiful Cinders from same opportunity. 

So, who had helped Cinders make it to the ball in disguise?  Cinders, for definite, keen for the prince’ hand in marriage. 

Well, that wouldn’t happen any time soon. 

Dandini tossed the glass slipper over the palace wall. 

The sound of splintering glass to be pure satisfaction to the ear.  

Much to Dandini's consternation there was nothing but silence. 

NEVERTHELESS: Dandini turned about, sense of glee on face, and there stood Prince Charming.

'You look decidedly guilty, my dear Dandini. What pray, went over yonder wall?'

Dandini chuckled, 'The one item assured to secure a marital noose around your neck, by some do-gooding fairy godmother no doubt.'

‘Thank God, for that,’ said the prince, rubbing the spot where the dowager duchess had clobbered his shoulder. ‘I felt sure my secret obsession soon to be exposed.’

'Oh please, anytime.' Dandini stepped close to the prince, voice fallen to whisper, ‘Kiss me, Queenie.’

‘That I shall, my gorgeous six-pack Dandini, but don't ever call me that in public. Prince I am by day, Queenie by night.’

Dandini fell into the Prince’ arms, said, ‘We cannot hide our love for ever, my prince.’

‘The prince kissed Dandini with passion and intensity.

Unbeknown to the amorous bewigged young gentlemen, the glass slipper remained unscathed and safe in the hands of the real Prince Charming: Prince Rupert Charming.

Supposedly lost at sea when in fact turned into a frog by an evil witch, the real Prince Rupert Charming all the while awaiting his opportunity to reclaim his throne. Knowing only a maiden's kiss can break the evil spell, he's had no luck so far in that quest.

With the glass slipper he has a bartering tool and he knows Cinder's is kind and loving and will want the slipper back, and she'll kiss him for it, he'd bet his life on that for he knows her smitten with the bogus prince: his younger brother Quentin (Queenie) Charming.  

Having fantasised over Cinders for three years and a day of his sitting on a lilypad watching her fetch water from the well,  Rupert serenades her the very next time she passes by his royal pond! 

And Lo & Behold: the ruse works!

Meanwhile: banished from the Principality two men sail off into the sunset!   

The End.

Believe it, this particular blogfest did extremely well on entrant numbers for Xmas 2010 and we had a great laugh reading everybody's input. 

To see entries by other participants to the "Deja vu" blogfest go here.

To see entries by other participants to RFW's "Sparkle" challenge go here.

BTW: I did delete the original 24 comments! Only fair, methought...

Friday, 2 December 2011

Romantic Friday Writers Challenge/Blogfest

OK folks, imagine that cottage is called Fenemore Cottage and, that it's the year 1820.

I know, I know, I'm cheating this week with a snippet from opening chapter of latest historical novella, which is a Regency Murder Mystery. But honestly if I hadn't posted this I wouldn't have posted at all. I've been so busy preparing manuscripts for paperback production even thoughts about Christmas have been on hold. 

Anyhoo, this snippet is before romance gets under way. Nevertheless, the hero is definitely centre stage and the heroine has taken note of his appearance, demeanour and . . .   ;) This is in first draft mode so no sly sniggers!

Word Count = way over, but hey, it's nearly Christmas : code NCCO

Georgette drew her velvet cloak tight about her and glanced out at the forbidding moonlit landscape. She was rather glad the horses were keeping to a steady trot, because previous sense of excitement now suddenly overshadowed by angst and dread. The private drag was passing close to Abbeyfields and it was all rather silly to be feeling anxious. Adam Brockenbury could not be in residence, for she knew him to have been sighted coming out of White’s Chocolate House only yesterday, and enough engagements in London to keep him at a safe distance.

   Nevertheless, Abbeyfields itself remained a disquieting reminder of her last trip to this part of the Avon Valley.  Yes, thank God Adam was at a dinner party that very evening, and would for sure attend the grand ball of Friday next at Blenheim Palace. Should he return to Bath on the Saturday she would be long gone from Fenemore Cottage by then. 
   Aware the horses had begun too slow their pace she surmised they were on approach to the bridge, the river Avon before them. She braced herself, for it always felt as though her stomach collided with heart when crossing humpback bridges.  As the horses once again settled to a steady trot the coach suddenly lurched as though its wheels had passed over something in its path.
   Thrust sideways her companion’s head banged against the window, she likewise thrown to her left and now stretched out across the seat opposite to his. “Damnation,” he said, clutching at his head as she made to sit up straight again. “What happened?”
   “I think we shall know soon enough, for the coach is slowing down.”
   Indeed it finally came to a standstill and within seconds her companion had the door open and shouted up to the coachman. “Why have we stopped?”
   The coachman’s reply, “We rode o’er somethin’ on the highway back a ways.”      
   “Did you not see what it was?”
   “Nah, not a thing for ‘tis dark, sir, but Jim is a going to see what it were.”
   “Good God, man. A moonlit night, frost on the ground and almost as bright as day. How could you not see whatever in your path?”
   “I tells yer I didn’t see nothin’ so it must have come at us from them there trees back away, by the bridge, ‘cause twer rear wheel as run o’er it. What’er it be.”
   Her companion alighted from the coach and walked back along the highway, and although curious she decided it was best to stay in the coach and await news of what had caused the coach to lurch so badly. It seemed an age before he returned along with the coach groom who immediately clambered up beside the coachman. In silence her companion stepped aboard, and upon closing the door and retaking his seat he shook his head in the manner of no hope afforded the victim of the collision.
   “I can only guess it was not a person, for surely we would not drive on with someone left lying dead or wounded on the highway.”
   “We lay it on the verge, and I shall arrange for it to be picked up first thing in the morning.” The coach lurched and then proceeded onward. “Little harm will befall the poor creature on a night such this.”
   “May I ask what it is?”
   “A hound, and why it was out and about strange indeed. I cannot recall its ever deserting my father’s side.” 
   Her stomach tightened. Breath caught in her throat, as dread and fear gripped her. Oh no, not a son of Abbeyfields. “You live near here?”
   “Indeed I do,” his reply, his eyes levelled on hers. “I fear I have been somewhat lax with introduction, despite our having conversed in genial spirit. May I say the tinkling ring of your voice has been delightful and sweet music to the ears, unlike the caustic tones of erstwhile colleagues and clients.”
   If not in fear of who he might be she could well have laughed in coquettish manner at his bold inference, for he’d fallen asleep whilst she talking to him, instead her tongue rallied quite sharp, “And you are?”
   “Edwin Brockenbury.”
   Her heart began to race, bile rose in her throat and silence became deafening. She could not muster a word, her thoughts collided with memories, yet try as she might she could not recall Edwin Brockenbury’s face as one of those present on the night of James Brockenbury’s tragic death.
   “Does the name Brockenbury distress you?”  He leaned forward elbow to knee, hesitant in stance, his face rigid calm though genuine concern etched thereon. “Reaction such as yours is not so uncommon. My brother it seems is wont to leave a trail of broken hearts countrywide, which has rather tarnished the name Brockenbury. Hence Ranulph and I suffer the consequences of bitter tongued beauties when introduced at social functions.”
   “Broken heart, I with broken heart, and left in Adam’s wake? I think not.” 
   “Forgive me, please. I had no right to suggest or imply you might harbour bad feeling toward a Brockebury.”
   He sat back, his eyes not leaving hers for a second and it was most disconcerting. Throughout the journey air of authority and reserved calm had emanated from his very person, though his manner caring at the coaching inn or they would not now be sharing the drag. His deep timbre of voice, too, had sounded sincere and not once had it raised sense of alarm to falseness nor implied him a man of ill repute. 
   She had to say something. Break the silence. For he was obviously worried he had wrong-footed her and made bold on wild supposition. “No, please, forgive me. Suppositions are unwise at the best of times, and our journey, until the accident, most pleasant. After all, to have company on a long journey always lessens what is otherwise a tedious and lonely experience.”
   A tentative smile creased his face. “In that case, would you mind terribly if I leap from the coach at the gates to Abbeyfields?”
   “At the gates. Not be driven to the house in style?” He chuckled, a deep-throated chuckle that in other circumstances might have caused her heart to flutter. “Please, you cannot walk in these freezing conditions.”
   “I fear you are chilled enough young lady, so home with you straight away. I’ll not freeze to death trudging the drive to the house. As it is, the hound’s death has raised a needling question as to why he was where he was.”  He reached for his gold-topped cane previously abandoned on the seat beside him. She had already surmised it to be a swordstick, its dragon’s head handle ornate and curved to fit neat to palm of hand, which he promptly used to thump the roof of the drag.  “Shall you be at Fenemore for a long or short stay?”
   Her heart lurched. “How did you know I am to stay at Fenemore?”
    “You booked for a drive from London to Batheaston and I from London to Batheaston, and when I arrived at the inn it was assumed I to be the passenger for Fenemore, Batheaston. Hence your arrival coincided with and interrupted a heated argument that although I, too bound for Batheaston, it was Abbeyfields I wished to be taken to.”  A smile creased his face. “I am not sure how, but you seemed to think my intended journey was to Bath. And gentleman that I am I chose not to reveal otherwise. ”
   “So you had intended seeing me to Fenemore and then returning to Abbeyfields?” She laughed. “Oh how gallant, and now you wish to leap from the coach and abandon me.” She immediately corrected her outburst. “That sounded terribly flippant, when you must be quite worried about your father.”
   Aware the drag was slowing down with verbal encouragement to the horses from the coachman, Edwin Brockenbury once again leaned forward only this time he extended his hand. She accepted his gesture of friendship their kid gloves coming together, and not for one minute had she expected him to dip his head and kiss her gloved fingers.
   The contact was fleeting, but when his eyes levelled on hers something indefinable sparkled within and, “Good night, Lady Beaumont,” came as quite a shock. Though his smile enough to melt the coldest of lady’s heart and somehow as reassuring as were his final words. “Be assured your presence at Fenemore will not slip from my tongue.”

To read entries by other participants go here