Free Promotions? Or not?

Free promotions. Do they bear fruit? It’s so long since I ran one I can’t remember so I thought I’d give it another whirl.  I’ve recently revised Angel Breaths and A Lapse of Sanity to publish with Smashwords and Draft2Digital when my KDP Select enrollment expires so time to give them a little outing methinks.

Angel Breaths was inspired by a news item on abortion laws that asked the question, ‘At what point does a baby have a soul?’ It set me thinking. Was it as soon as the two cells met and began to divide? If so how would it feel about being rejected or miscarried?

Angel Breaths is narrated by Angelique, the spirit of a miscarried child as she watches over the earthly family she can never be a part of. She also watches over her soulmate Louis as he treads his earthly life, connecting to him on a spiritual level.

A spin off from this is my award winning short story Into The Arms of Angels which was runner up out of 900 entries in our local newspaper The Sentinel’s Too Write competition in 2017. It can be found in my short story collection Just A Moment, priced at just 99p

Angel Breaths is free from 24th-28th August 2018 so enjoy a read on me. A Lapse of Sanity to follow shortly.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-Breaths-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B00AET1KRE/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1535016608&sr=1-7&keywords=sherrie+lowe

If you do enjoy it I’d be very grateful for a review please.

Many thanks.

 

Advertisements

Smashwords and Permafree – new territory

Sales have been dire these last few weeks so after reading an article about an author’s success I decided I’d give myself a shake and do something about it instead of wallowing in lethargy.

I googled ‘increase your sales’ and Permafree came up, which led on to Smashwords. I’ve seen them both before in other people’s posts and tweets but thought I couldn’t sell with them because I had exclusivity with Amazon. Well as I have several titles I decided I’d try a couple and see which sales platform was best.

I contacted Amazon first to be sure I wasn’t breaching any rules and was pleased that I could still sell the books with them but I had to unenroll from KDP Select as this was the exclusivity clause, so here goes, voyaging into the unchartered territory of Smashwords and possibly Permafree.

Will it bear fruit? I’ll have to wait and see. Has anyone else used them? Experiences please in either the blog comments or Facebook/Twitter. Also your sales techniques would be helpful. Many thanks.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=angel+breaths

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=+a+lapse+of+sanity

         http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

 

Pen and Paper or Computer?

We all have our own writing techniques and preferences. What works for one of us doesn’t for another. What is most important is getting those creative juices flowing, bringing the words out of our heads and ultimately into our stories.

It has to be pen and paper for me. Even writing this blog it has to be pen and paper first. I can’t think creatively on the computer, that is for tidying it all up. Besides, I like the pen and paper part of it, that’s the bit I enjoy most, then the tidying up.

writing

I’m not a disciplined writer. I don’t set aside so many hours a day to write, it has to be when I get the burn. I’m the sort of person who likes everything done yesterday so novel writing which takes months and years is a contradiction to my nature. Healthwise there are many days when I don’t have the energy to think, much less pick up a pen. Other days I know I have a book on the go, know where I’m going with it, have notes guiding me into the next chapter but I just can’t rouse myself to pick up the pen and A4 pad – and my scribings! As you can see I could never get someone else to type them up for me, too many crossings out, words changed, sentences added or removed, plus as I type it up something might sound better and I do enjoy that part too, gathering it together. The only book I wrote straight onto the computer was the latter part of my second memoir Better or Dead and I wrote it from notes that I’d made.

So that’s my writing routine, pen and paper for the creative flow, read through and make adjustments several times until I’m happy with it, only then does it go onto the computer, and even then I make minor adjustments.

What’s your routine? I’d love to hear either in blog comments or Facebook/Twitter, whichever’s easier.

laptop

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

 

Will and Ava – Spitfire Love

Wilhelmina Schmidt – or Will as she preferred to be called – had never been a girl’s girl. She’d never liked girl’s toys, boy’s were much more exciting, cars and aeroplanes. The pretty dresses her mother dressed her in were always dirty and torn from playing boy’s games. As she grew she had no burning desire to wear make up and only wore the minimum to conform. Sexually she’d been drawn neither to boys nor girls but had never bothered to wonder why. Then she met Ava.

Forbidden wartime love Spitfire

Ava Greatbach by contrast was a girl’s girl. Had loved her dolls as a child, loved her make up as she grew and especially loved pretty cotton summer dresses. She’d also had boyfriends. Then she met Will.

3D

They were drawn together as if by a magnetic silken thread. It wouldn’t have mattered what gender they were, their souls called to one another. The power that drew them was stronger than they were – but it was wartime. Lives were destroyed. Love was torn apart.

Spitfire II for blog

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/over-a-spitfire.php

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Over-Spitfire-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B01GCFFR6S/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1532169891&sr=1-2&keywords=sherrie+lowe

 

Inspiration

Inspiration. That force vital to an author. Where does it come from? Mine has curled up and died of late but whilst it slumbers I’ve been thinking of its past appearances.

I always loved writing stories at school. Composition it was called back in the day. My English teachers always wrote on my reports that I had a vivid imagination. I always thought somewhere in the recesses of my mind that I’d write a book when I got older.

Then my mother died.

That kindled my inspiration. I felt I must write about it but not at that point, it was too raw. Life took over and inspiration once more receded.

Then I became ill.

That meant many hours alone when my sons were at school. Newly divorced the loneliness drove me crazy so I relived my childhood through my pen, the good times and the bad. I bought a typewriter – had no idea what to do with a computer, that came much later after the many rejections of my first attempt at the book that I’d intended to write for so long.

Memoirs 2

I joined a creative writing class. I learned to write properly, to create characters, write fiction as well as memoir and inspiration danced on fairy light footsteps. Stories came to me, my characters held conversations in my head, raced through my dreams at night, woke me at dawn with dreams of their own. For a time I couldn’t write quickly enough: the only thing holding me back was my health, many days I didn’t – still don’t – have the energy to think.

Now my inspiration is suffering from its own lack of energy. It occasionally comes out to play when I’m in the bath (I’m Pisces, a water sign, there must be a connection.) It rises with the steam and the fragrance of the foam bath, those conversations between characters, the settings they walk through.

20170403_110113

My current work in progress has enjoyed scenes at The Chelsea Flower Show and has sent its characters home with a promise but here the author sits penning this blog instead of getting on with the story. I’ll blame it on the heat of the wonderful summer of 2018 drying my inspiration up with the parched and cracked earth. Who’d have thought we’d be praying for rain in the UK where it never usually seems to stop, but perhaps that’s what my inspiration needs, a good downpour.

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node=341689031&field-keywords=sherrie+lowe

 

The Weekend Guest

I’ve got two fur grandsons, Rooney and Ralphy, belonging to my sons and their families and I look after the dogs – separately – when they are away. It was the turn of Ralphy to stay for the weekend this time while his Mum and Dad were at a wedding.

Ralph garden

He usually brings a few toys to add to the ones I’ve got here and one of his favourites is a parrot which has got a look of a window cleaner I had doing my windows many years ago so I named it Doug after him.

Ralph and Doug

Ralphy is a quick learner and soon got used to the new command of ‘bring Doug’ and he’d fetch the parrot for me to throw so that he could catch it, his favourite game. His other toy is a moose which was a goodbye present from his much loved dog walker when they moved house. I named it Milly. It took him a while to get used to ‘bring Milly’ not so easy a sound as Doug but he was learning. Here are his thoughts on the matter.

Ralph and moose

Ralphy: I’z back here at Nana Shuffs house. Not much goes on here and I does a lot of sleeping but it is my meditation retreat – she sits in her recliner chair, I snoozes until somebody rings the bell or walks past the window then I sez ‘I iz here and in charge. Nobody passes unnoticed.’ I need to tell Nana Shuffs of their presence you see. How duz she know else?

When Nana is  playing with those light up boxes that all hoomans play with I know there is no point in me bestowing a toy upon her – doesn’t she understand what an honour that is – but as soon as she takes her glasses off (I hear them click when she folds them) time to stretch, yawn and select a toy. Which to choose? I az a green thing with a big nose, Nana calls it ‘Bring Doug’ so that must be its name like I iz Ralph. As well I az a soft thing with a big nose that az lovely stuff that I can rip out of its innards and make patterns all over the floor – she throws this stuff away, I never knows why. I did az a nasty mishap today and a bit of the stuff got stuck in my throat and I coughed and coughed until my eyes watered but it went in the end. Nana Shuffs calls this soft chewy creature ‘Bring Milly.’

I az to say I iz a mite disappointed. I heard by dog grapevine that she put live entertainment on for my cousin Rooney, a running creature that he chased down the garden.

Ratty in the snow

I’d love to have done that! All I’ve ever chased have been flapping creatures on the fence or a thing with a bushy tail. Not close enough to have a little nip at but quite fun, especially when Bushy Tail had to disentangle himself from the tree, woof woof!

Squirrel feeder

Ah well, it’s tiring jumping round the room after Doug and Milly. Time for bed methinks. Nighty night.

Ralph snoozing

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

 

 

Guests and Visitors

It’s dog sitting time again for my fur grandson Rooney, a golden labradoodle whilst his family are on holiday. His cousin Ralphy the black one is booked in for later in the year, never together, they’d run me ragged.

Roon n Ralph Tittesworth

Rooney and I have had a few encounters with the local wildlife this last couple of days while we’ve sat outside in the sunshine. Rooney has a slender physique, eats everything and anything, human food plus his own food and treats and never gains weight, perhaps more of a poodle build; Ralphy by contrast seems to be more labrador and prone to gaining weight, just like  people, two minutes on the lips, forever on the hips as the saying goes, so his diet is watched carefully by Mum and Dad, only dog food and monitored dog treats, no human food but he does like to lick fallen crumbs.

Well Roon and I sat outside, he with a Bonio biscuit, me with a chocolate muffin. He made short work of the Bonio and sat with his eyes fixed on the chocolate muffin but he was on a hiding to nothing. From under my garden chair a tiny creature crawled and jumped. I thought it was an insect at first but then I noticed the fur and tail – a tiny mouse! Was it a baby? Worse, was it a baby rat?!? I’d seen a huge rat lurking in the snow in the winter when I’d put food out for the birds but no sightings since I’d stopped.

Ratty in the snow

The tiny visitor went right past Rooney, whose eyes never moved from the muffin, then it hopped down the lawn and under the magnolia tree. Both dogs are fascinated by the smells under this tree. What lives there?

Magnolia May 2018

I relayed all of this news to my sister via email and she has this mindset of transferring words to the animals mouths, some may remember reading about her visiting cat in The Black Knight Diaries – the result of our laughing at too many daft cat memes and their language.

“Send me a picture of the tiny visitor,” said she.

Well Tiny Visitor arrived the next day, just missed getting trodden on by Roon and stood frozen whilst I took pictures, which I sent to my sister. Here’s her conversation between Roon and Tiny Visitor.

 

Rooney:    I az been sniffing around the tree to issue a warning. ‘Hear this ye rodents of the local area. This dog allowed all manner of hooman treats so don’t be looking for no crumbs when I’m here. However when the other fella comes do him a favour and remove all temptation from the hopeful bloke!’

Roon 4

Tiny Visitor:   FFS I’ve just moved all my shit in here and she’s now got a great big wolf-like monster staying with big feet who is careless where he puts em! There was I minding my own business when he comes tramping past and I nearly got squished! You can lay off the chocolate muffin crumbs buddy. You stick to your dog biscuits and know your place!

That aside it had been a bit of a nothing day for Rooney. I don’t do much so he sleeps a lot. He’d had a lovely walk on Monday with Ralphy and his mum and dad but now back to life with me, Nana Shuffs. Bedtime came, time for the last wee of the day at dusk.

The boys having fun

I stood on the patio while he was further down the garden sniffing around as dogs do when out from the shrubs pops Ratty, right by my feet! No sightings since the snow! I don’t know who was more shocked it or me. I was just glad I’d closed the back door. It beat a hasty retreat back into the shrubbery then ran out the other side – right in front of Rooney, who immediately shot after it. They raced down the garden, Ratty for his life, Rooney in pursuit of his prey – or the live toy! All thoughts of the last wee had left his mind but I’ll let him have the last word.

Rooney:    Well who’d have thought it! I az ad a boring day sleeping, all she az done is sit writing but she saves the best until bedtime. She puts on LIVE ENTERTAINMENT! How good iz dis? Better than that useless blue ball she’s got me. I can’t even rip that up! I be on the look out for that running creature tomorrow. I catch it before I leave then I feel I iz proper champ! Mum and Dad, I’ve had very little in the way of hooman food since I’ve been here apart form a piece of toast but no morsel of chocolate muffin, Nana Shuffs likes to keep such delicacies to herself. I ain’t had a curry in ages and I can’t wait for one!

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

The Black Knight Diaries

A few months ago I wrote about my sister’s visiting black cat whom we’ve nick named The Black Knight. Here’s another installment.

The Black Knight isn’t her only visitor but he is far and away the favourite. He is a prince among cats. He doesn’t have that standoffish haughty nature common to some cats. He is friendly and affectionate. I have met him a few times and once he’s got used to my presence and returned from his fast exit at the sight of a stranger in his domain, he’s decided I’m OK, sitting in my vacated chair, but I digress, onto the other visitors.

Alan is a black and white cat. So named after Alan Titchmarsh the TV gardener because he comes and digs in my sister’s garden. Unlike his namesake he is not planting pretty flowers but leaving little deposits, often whilst glaring defiantly at her from his position in the flower bed. The Black Knight has often squared up to him but it hasn’t deterred him from using the flower bed as his latrine.

“Of course,” I once pointed out, “Alan might be a girl with a very pretty name like Jessica or Jemima.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” she answered, but Alan he/she remains.

Then there is Bobby Carrot. Bobby because he kind of bobs when he walks and Carrot because he is tortoiseshell but more orange. I think I have seen him over my side of the modern housing estate where we live occasionally. He is a timid little cat my sister says and Alan bullies him – or her – it could be a her.

There is the resident owl, Hootie who owns the estate, flying from her end to mine and sitting on posts by my sister’s and my neignbour’s houses making his/her presence known.

Although we live on the outskirts of a town we get lots of wildlife, foxes, squirrels, all kinds of birds, I’ve had sparrowhawks in the past and had mixed feelings about them, beautiful birds and lovely to have them in the garden but very sad when they take my little birds.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

100_0934

Here’s a conversation my sister had with The Black Knight one lovely sunny summer day. As she pegged out her washing he came running along the fence miaowing.

“Oh I’m glad you’ve come,” she said, “I want you to do some modeling for me.”

“Modeling?” queried B.K.

“Yes. For a blog.”

“Model for a blog? But I’ve come for chicken.”

“I’ll find you a treat.”

“Oh go on then.”

“Make yourself comfy.”

“I’ll sit on the bench.”

 

“Dis my best side.”

lying in the garden

“Enough now, get the chicken.”

******

Many of my novels have animal characters in them. After the Solstice (Willow’s Dip Book 2) has Chula, a beautiful Siamese cat who is a law unto herself.

Free Flight (Willow’s Dip Book 3) is set in a bird sanctuary and has many bird characters including an avian romance between a pair of snowy owls, Casper and Claudia, not to mention a ghost dog called Boris and an African grey parrot called Bramer who has a very colourful vocabulary.

The Author, The Gardener and The Woman What Does has two gorgeous rough collies, Bella and Donna and Song of the Phoenix has a Jack Russell terrier called Tim who is rather partial to toffees.

My two memoirs Shadow Across the Sun and Better or Dead have all of the pets I’ve had, loved and lost.

Animals enrich our lives and although I can’t have a pet now for health reasons I have two fur grandsons, a black and a golden labradoodle who I’m dog hotel to when their families are away. It just gives me a little animal contact.

For more information on my animal friends both real and imaginary visit my website

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

 

 

All’s Not Fair In Love And Indie Authors

As any indie author knows, writing the book is only half the story, the other half is flogging ourselves to death always trying to think of new and original ways of generating a few sales, and those even more elusive reviews. I don’t know about anyone else but I can have some months where I do quite well, a decent amount of sales, then others – well, least said the better.

It’s great that self publishing has now come into its own and we can get our work out there and read, hold our books in our hands, see them downloaded. What I find so unfair for indie authors everywhere is that their talent goes largely unrecognized. I can’t comment on my own books. There will always be authors who are better than me and worse than me, stories that are better than mine and worse than mine and it’s all subjective, but by and large the quality of the indie authors’ work that I have read has been superb. The majority of it is easily on a par with traditionally published authors and I still find myself asking that same question, what exactly are agents and publishers looking for? I’ve read some utter rubbish that someone ‘in the know’ has deemed fit to represent and publish when I could barely struggle to the end of the book or indeed have given up as it’s been so poor, yet many talented indies face rejection after rejection – and don’t get me started on celebrity memoirs that make a fast million for all concerned!

I read mainly indies now. The last traditionally published book I read was Jilly Cooper’s Mount and I thoroughly enjoyed it as I have most of her Rutshire Chronicles and although she is an excellent writer so are lots of undiscovered indies. I find it soul destroying for myself and other indies that we work so hard, putting our hearts and souls into our books for very little recognition.

Looking at the various marketing techniques that indie authors use, it all seems very hit and miss and I still draw the same conclusion. It isn’t enough just to have the talent to craft a story and promote it, we all need an element of luck, right place, right time, and I think it doesn’t go amiss if your face fits either. I don’t think there’s any magic formula. All we can do is keep on keeping on and just hope that one day that little bit of luck comes for us.

4 books

It’s That Time of Year Again

Garland bauble

Here we are again, approaching Christmas, time to dig out and dust off the decorations, get the cards written, the presents wrapped and sent to Santa. Time to assess the year.

It’s been a good year for our family. My youngest son got married in July and despite the fact that since June we barely had a dry day we did very well for weather. It stayed dry until around 8 p.m. and the sun even put in a shy appearance at times. My old M.E plagued body behaved itself after the resting I’d done the previous week – no reading, no writing to bring on headaches, nothing strenuous to overdo it physically – I think I must have had help from the angels to keep me going, although I did go to the room for a rest about 6ish and missed the cutting of the cake and the first dance! Thank goodness for the videographer!

The next good news came when my eldest son and his fiancee announced that they were to become parents for the third time so my writing has taken a back seat to baby knitting recently.

Baby Hugg boots

(pattern for baby boots from Marianna’s lazy daisy days)

I had my own brush with success in July when I received a runner up award in the Too Write literary competition run by my local newspaper The Sentinel for my short story Arms of Angels. A fabulous afternoon at the awards ceremony with my friend Connie to accompany me. Even though it lashed it down with rain we were undercover.

100_1672

Award in place

The full account of the afternoon can be read in another blog post. The full story Into The Arms of Angels is in my short story collection Just A Moment, as is the seasonal story The Sinister Bauble, which can also be read in another blog post.

The Sinister Bauble as the title suggests is the story of a bauble that doesn’t quite belong on the Christmas tree with the cherubs and Santa but the owner can’t quite bring herself to get rid of it for reasons she’d rather not confront.
My other seasonal story is The Journey, the title story of that collection. This story is part fact, part fiction. I did indeed have a wicked stepmother, and I lived in the North East of England for 3 years in the 70s with my then fiance/husband, and I’ve traveled that route in the story many times although I altered the end of it for the purpose of the story – we used to finish our journey on the M6 and A500 but in the story I used the A34 to Newcastle under Lyme. I actually lived in Werrington in the Staffordshire Moorlands in my youth. These are the almost factual parts of the story. The rest is fiction, and how I’d like to have served up a healthy dose of Christmas retribution to the family my dad saddled us with, who robbed my sister and I of our inheritance.