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Monday 30 April 2012

Highs and Lows of a Monday

It's been an odd sort of day. I was out this morning with a friend: important stuff, having a hot chocolate and a natter in the coffee shop - well, I have my priorities you know!
I made a rather dispirited attempt at the editing this afternoon, but my heart truly wasn't in it, so I decided to see if my writing muscles were working today. They were! The day wasn't a total bust work-wise! I finished the story I had begun about the church bell, or lack thereof, which was received very well by he who fixes the computer. So, that's another story for the second anthology. It's coming together.
I also made a start on the story about the post office queue, but I have a feeling that might be one idea that fizzles out - I have a few of them! I blame the English weather.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Further Updates on the Free Download

With a certain amount of muttering and cursing, we have now created two separate links for the free download of the first of the QT Anthologies, one for Kindle and one for iPad, iPhone or Touch. They're on the righthand side of the page beneath the cover image.
I won't bore you with the details of our rather epic battle with the Blogger editing facilities. Let it suffice to say that I'm very glad he who fixes the computer was on hand, and also that he didn't find it any easier than me! Admittedly, he didn't use as colourful language.

Saturday 28 April 2012

The QT Anthology, Book One, Stories from the Web

The first of the QT Anthologies is now ready to download for your Kindle, free of charge. I've chosen twelve stories from the website that are particular favourites of mine, for you to read from the comfort of your e-reader. The book is available on my website: http://www.quirkytales.co.uk/ or you can download it by clicking the cover picture:

I hope you enjoy it.

Friday 27 April 2012

I Need a Little Time!

With all the editing and other jobs, I don't seem to have time for writing stories. I've begun one this week, inspired by the news story of the newly arrived couple who forced an ancient village church to stop ringing its bell, but I just don't seem to have enough hours to refine it. I also have an idea for another one, based on the Post Office queue. I've scribbled notes, but that's as far as I've got.
I'm worried now that poor Quirky Tales isn't receiving new input. I had managed well up until now, gaining new material from weekly challenges from CafĂ© ThreeZero. Unfortunately these have fizzled out now, as everyone else is struggling for time as well! I need a routine. The trouble is, in my experience, routines tend to quash creative impulse. Maybe I'll have to start writing during the night, when there are no other distractions or demands upon my time.
And I thought writing would be a fun and stress-free career!

Thursday 26 April 2012

Just for Fun!

I'm taking a very short break from the editing - I'll get right back to it as soon as I've finished here, honestly! But I came across a story on the Telegraph's website this morning and it brightened my day so I thought I would share it with you. It features people skiing or snowboarding down a hill into what appears to be a very deep and chilly pool.
I doubt I would even make it down the hill, let alone succeed in skimming myself across the surface of the pool!

Wednesday 25 April 2012

More Distractions

I got distracted again. It wasn't my fault, it was the sparrows. They had been traumatised by a new seed feeder we had bought for them. So much so that they were even avoiding their favourite hangout, the enormous honeysuckle in the corner of the garden, such was their fear of this strange new addition. Then yesterday they finally overcame their reservations and braved the new feeder. Feeling the need for photographic evidence, I lurked about in the kitchen for a while with my camera. Sadly they spotted me, retreated instantly to the honeysuckle and refused to come out until I finally gave up and returned to work.
Still, I did do a fair bit of editing. I also chose which stories I wanted for the QT Anthology, Book One, which will be available very shortly, free for Kindle. I also created the cover. So, I was able to strike another two items from the to-do list yesterday. I've now done all the short jobs on the list, so it will be a while before I can tick off any more.
This is the cover design for the first of the Anthologies:

Now, don't look at the sparrows. Don't look at the sparrows.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Breakdown in Discipline

I did do some editing yesterday, honest. But my to-do list distracted me, and my mind kept wondering to the necessity of creating a map for the second book. Eventually, seeing that my focus was elsewhere, I gave up on the edit and concentrated instead on honing my cartography skills. The finished (ish) result looks pretty good, though I must confess, I have taken one or two geological and fluvial liberties. I'm excusing myself on the grounds that certain features have to be in certain places for narrative reasons.
So, today I have no reason not to get on with the edit. Unless I can think of some other illustration required for the book. See, this is why I always ended up doing my homework in registration. (Mum, if you're reading this, I only ever did that for unimportant subjects - like Physics, Maths, Chemistry, French, German, History, oh and, as my map no doubt demonstrates, Geography. I always did my Art and English homework properly - I wasn't a total dropout!)

Monday 23 April 2012

To-Do List

The editing on Book Two of the Boldre Wood Trilogy is progressing. I have done some more work on the cover design, and will also need to create a map so that my readers can find their way around the Great Lake, but for now the edit has to take priority.
He who fixes the computer suggested that I should choose some stories from the Quirky Tales website to put into an ebook to offer free on the Kindle site. So, my to-do list runs thus: edit Book Two, create map for Book Two, compile free book for Kindle, create a cover for free book, write more material for the QT Anthology, write more shorts for the website, market Billy of Boldre Wood, and find an agent for Lucky Dip.
Not too much to do then! What am I going to do tomorrow?!

Saturday 21 April 2012

Window Shopping

I was standing in front of a store window yesterday, not loitering with any malicious intent, but the family had split like skittles to go about their various business and I was hoping to grab them as they passed by. Bearing in mind that the window I was standing in front of belonged to a high street bank, with nothing more exciting in it than the latest rotten savings rate, I was rather surprised when a lady stalked up and began peering around me in a desperate attempt to see whatever display I was blocking.
It reminded me of the sage words of the wise one (Dad again!), that it would be entirely possible to stand before the whitewashed window of an empty shop and still have someone shove you aside for fear of missing out on something. I think I might be missing a marketing trick here. Perhaps I should produce an advertisement for 'Billy of Boldre Wood', then stand immediately in front of it. My only fear would be that I might be trampled by the rush of people desperate to see what it was I was blocking!

Thursday 19 April 2012

Billy and The North Oakian Alliance

I was advised by a wise man (my Dad) not to delay the release of the second book of The Boldre Wood Trilogy too long. So, with that in mind, and knowing just how much editing work is required, I have set to work on preparing 'Billy and the North Oakian Alliance' for release. It's going to take a while as the story is much more involved and complex, but so far it's going well.
The stories I have written so far for the anthology are edited and have been converted to HTML, but I still need more material for it. Time and inspiration are lacking! I suspect I need to devise a stricter routine, setting aside time for editing and time for writing. If only I could find the time to do it!

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Searching for that Special Agent

Following the encouraging rejection received on that auspicious date, Friday 13th, I have devoted some time this week to searching for agents to submit 'Lucky Dip' to. It's not a process I enjoy. I suppose I could take the blanket bomb approach and just rattle off dozens of copies and send it off to anyone and everyone, but I find that idea rather soulless. Hence, I spend hours trawling through the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, then prowling through websites for up to date information.
Some of the agents' websites are so discouraging, understandably, given the volume of submissions they receive, but it does deter me. I may be being too picky, but I'm looking for an approachable agent, one who really seems to want to help me to make the most of my writing.
So for now, my copy of the yearbook will grow ever more dog-eared, and my bookmarks list will grow ever longer and less manageable, as the search for that elusive agent continues.

In the Cat House

I'm hoping the Quirky Cat doesn't see this post, or he may petition me for better accommodation, but it's too good for me to ignore. This is the story of the stray cat who has found herself a new home at the Cosford Caravan dealership. Apparently when the manager of Bailey Caravans heard about the dealership's new resident, he offered up a rather special little shelter for her. For the story, with pictures, here's the link:
Just please, nobody tell the Quirky Cat!

Monday 16 April 2012

Author Bio on Amazon

I now have an Amazon Author's Central Page:
I have a brief biography on there, but photos could prove an issue as I tend to stick resolutely to the view finder side of the camera. Look out for an exciting, and completely non-revealing, silhouette image coming to the Kay Lawrence Author's Central page soon!
I am now compiling a list of suitable agents to submit 'Lucky Dip' to, whilst working on the edit and additional material for my short story collection 'The QT Anthology'. The Facebook page is pending - until I pluck up the courage to do something with it!

Friday 13 April 2012

Another Rejection, But an Encouraging One!

Some time ago I sent a submission of 'Lucky Dip' to Oneworld Publications. I received an email from them today, regretfully telling me they didn't believe it to be a good fit for their list. Another rejection, but this one came with an explanation about their current list and also the encouraging words that they had enjoyed the humour in my writing. I can't tell you what a difference it makes just to get a small vote of confidence like that. All the other rejections I've received have been blunt, impersonal and to the point: thanks, but no thanks.
It's such a brutal business that I was almost tempted to reply, thanking them for rejecting me in such a gracious and kind manner! Maybe I won't give up on the conventional route for 'Lucky Dip' after all. Thank you Oneworld Publications, my faith and hope have been restored.

Now That's Marketing!

Unfortunately I don't have the budget for anything as dramatic as a publicity stunt arranged by the US TV company TNT. They placed a red button in the middle of a square in Belgium inviting people to press the button to add some drama. A bemused gentleman on a bicycle circled it a couple of times before deciding to risk it. No sooner had he pressed it than a full scale drama unfolded right before him. It's brilliant!
Take a look here:
Come on brain! You've seen how it's done now. Now come up with something like that for Billy!

Thursday 12 April 2012

Editing, Editing and a Little More Editing!

I have so much work that requires editing! It feels like a very long time since I sat down to some serious writing, but the work is currently sitting in the mysterious chambers and cubbyholes of my computer and can't proceed until the edits are complete. So, I have little choice but to crack on with it. I'm a long way into the edit of Lucky Dip, then I have a short story anthology and the second book in the trilogy awaiting attention, and after that I need to finish writing book three.
When I started out I thought the writing of a book would be the hardest part! In future I shall be more disciplined, making sure each piece goes to edit as I soon as I finish it rather than getting carried away by the next idea.

Quirky Cat Cured!

Good news, he who fixes the computer has once more demonstrated his powers. The cat is firmly under control again! For those among you who enjoy the techy side of things, it was apparently a cacheing issue, solved by renaming the picture file and editing the template which in turn forced the browser to upload the new image.
Rather spoils the magic of it really! The Quirky Cat has been revealed as little more than ones and noughts! Better not to tell him, it might do irreparable damage to his ego.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

The Quirky Cat is on Notice!

It has been brought to my attention that the Quirky cat, who looks innocent enough on my screen, is actually misbehaving for other people. Apparently for them, he's still up his ladder and has birds flying around his head! How he's managing to be in two different places at the same time is beyond me. I'm hoping that he who fixes the computer also has skills in cat discipline and will be able to restore order.
But for now Quirky Cat, you're on notice! Less of the nonsense or you'll be relegated to mouse patrol.

The Quirky Cat

The quirky cat, having finally accepted his ineptitude as a bird catcher, has decided to switch roles. You may have noticed that he has come down from his ladder and is now taking his first tentative steps in helping with the marketing of Billy of Boldre Wood.
Bless him! I didn't even know he could read!

Tuesday 10 April 2012

The Mysteries of Marketing

It's hard to know how best to tackle the marketing of Billy. Obviously there are the social networks, but the thing that strikes me about that route is that mostly it seems to involve authors promoting their work to other authors. I need to promote Billy to readers, not authors. My search for a winning strategy continues, but in the meantime, I have created another, rather simpler, advertisement, complete with QR code!

Rain, Rabbits and Runny Jeans

Yesterday, being a bank holiday, it rained all day. By mid afternoon, he who fixes the computer and I were twitchy with inaction, so we donned our coats and boots and braved the elements to walk to the supermarket in town where the coffee we like was supposed to be on offer.
At first, strolling through the quiet streets of the village, protected by trees and houses and hedgerows, it was all quite pleasant. It wasn't until we turned into the park that I realised we might have made an error. Bent double into a fierce wind driving the rain against us, we pressed on.
He who fixes the computer determinedly attempted to find entertainment in the situation but I must confess that by the time we reached the main road, and my brand new black jeans were cold, soaked and plastered against my legs, I did experience a temporary failure of the sense of humour. Reaching the store to find the coffee wasn't actually on offer did little to help my mood.
It was as I sulked by the notice board that things improved. Gazing listlessly at the notices, the sense of humour that had deserted me in the deluge returned with gusto when I read the following missive.
For Sale
One 10 month old rabbit
with large hutch
The hutch is in good condition

It was that last sentence that did it, that final desperate appeal to the potential buyer. Luckily I didn't have a pen to hand, or the temptation to scribble in front of it 'The rabbit's a wreck but …' might have been too much.
The joke was on me when we got home and I peeled off my soggy jeans. My legs, once a fetching pink, were now a riot of black stripes from the drenched denim. He who fixes the computer took one look and announced it looked like I'd been barcoded. He even went so far as to suggest that if he were to scan me I would probably come up as £4.52 and out of date.
For legal reasons it's probably better I don't share my response here.
Some wives get flowers, and chocolates, and compliments ….

Monday 9 April 2012

New Story

I've added another story to the library on Quirky Tales. It's called, appropriately enough, 'The Librarian'. The librarian is a man who loves his library and relishes the times when he is there alone. If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Gloomy News for Toast

My dedicated Customer Manager made contact today, proving just how dedicated he is as today is, after all, Easter Sunday. Even the supermarkets aren't open today! Sadly the news looks bad for SOT. In short, their old supplier closed and they can't find a new factory that will make the large white organic loaves. As a consolation, he did point out that the small loaves are on offer, perhaps in the forlorn hope that two smalls might equal one large. He also offered the assurance that the search for a new supplier continues.
So for now, here at SOT HQ, I'm left with little choice but to make my own bread. The trouble is, my bread machine has recently developed an annoying habit of welding the loaves to the tin. The result being, my home-made loaves aren't much bigger than the small organic by the time I've chiselled them out!
The campaign banner has undergone a timely and appropriate alteration today:

Save Our Toast

Saturday 7 April 2012

Marketing for Billy of Boldre Wood

The time has come for me to launch a marketing campaign for Billy of Boldre Wood. He's never going to reach his target audience if they don't know he exists. I shall begin by placing an advertisement in my local parish newsletter, but I'm advised that Facebook is a must. This is where I find I can no longer touch the bottom! Thankfully, help is on hand in the guise of that certain rather special person, who happens to be home briefly for Easter.
I even briefly toyed with the idea of writing the title in pebbles on a beach I visited the other day, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to complete it before the tide came in! I'm also aware that there are certain laws and regulations about advertising - still, being imprisoned for marketing my work could be one way to draw attention to the story!
Here's my less radical approach to the campaign:

Ongoing Toast Investigation

Apparently the case of the missing large organic loaf has been assigned to a dedicated Customer Manager. I'm not sure what that means but it sounds jolly impressive and I have no doubt that the future of our toast is looking brighter already.
I know you're all utterly gripped by this drama. Rest assured, as soon as my dedicated Customer Manager makes contact I shall let you all know!

Save Our Toast!

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Billy of Boldre Wood

I was besieged by vivid dreams last night, mostly involving reviews of Book One of the Trilogy. Some of them were good, glowing even, but some were brutal, cruel, highlighting my every failing as a writer. So it was with a good deal of trepidation that I approached the computer this morning.
Nervously I called up my account and checked on the status of my old pal Billy. I held my breath as the information loaded. What would I find? Would that vicious troll really have dumped a one star review against my book?
Thankfully not! It's probably far too early, and Billy remains unreviewed and unstarred, but I suspect I shall have a few more strange dream nights before the month is out.
I neglected to mention yesterday that there is a sample read available on Amazon, so if you feel like taking a look here's the link:
The story is aimed somewhere in the age range of ten to twelve, but so far most of my readers have been older and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, so it would seem that Billy has a broad appeal.

Update on the Save Our Toast Campaign

Evidently investigating the supply of part-baked loaves to supermarkets is a complicated business, as I have yet to hear how my enquiry is progressing. I daresay investigators are hard at work out there at this very moment, canvassing suppliers and bakers for information about the elusive large white organic loaf. No doubt as soon as they report back to the purchasers at Sainsburys the matter will be resolved and our weekend toast will be back on the menu. Hopes at SOT HQ are still high!

Save Our Toast!

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Monday 2 April 2012

Latest News on the Save Our Toast Campaign

Apparently the matter requires some investigation. They're going to get back to me as soon as possible. Stay tuned for the next update.
Save Our Toast

A Plea to Sainsburys

When I was young I used to hate toast. Toast was what we had on weekday mornings. Cereals were saved for the weekend. Toast meant school, cereals meant fun.
These days my breakfast menu has reversed. Cereals are a weekday thing as they're quick. Toast has become the weekend treat. And furthermore, I have become an aficionado of toast. Not just any old bread will do, nor any old toaster. Many years ago we invested in a Dualit toaster, which was worth every penny it cost, and the best toast, that perfect mixture of density, moisture, taste and size, came from Sainsburys large white organic loaves.
Friday morning would see me walking to my local store to buy our weekend loaf, always early, as we were not the only ones who liked them and they disappeared fast. It required a certain determination, grit, and strategy to secure that loaf, but I was well practised in the craft.
But then, horror of horrors, they stopped stocking them! For two weeks now all they've had are the teeny weeny small loaves. Right density, moisture and taste, but hopeless size. When we approached the bakers to ask for an explanation they informed us that the supplier had been changed and they no longer receive the large white organics.
Our weekend toast now hangs in the balance! I have contacted customer services, pleading for the return of our toast, but mine is a lone and relatively quiet voice. I can but hope that someone high up in Sainsburys will hear of our plight and take pity. I shall, of course, keep you informed on progress in this most pressing of issues, but for now I shall fly the banner:
Save Our Toast!