February Round-Up

Let’s see … at the start of this month I said something about book sales, publication and chocolate frosting.

Now it’s the end of the month and it’s time to tally up.

7/20 e-books sold. (Now that I got my Amazon campaigns up and running again I can see a difference. Remember to really really read every email they send you because their ‘Your campaign is rejected’ email is worded in the exact same way as the ‘Your campaign is accepted email’ apart from a brief paragraph at the very bottom. Which I missed. Twice.

9/10 e-books borrowed on Kindle. Excellent results – especially since it only began after I got the campaigns under control again.

0/10 paperbacks sold because 0 paperbacks were published. All the while I get taunting emails from Amazon about how easy it is to use their new services. Annoyed? Just a little bit.

1 frosting recipe tried. 1 piping bag discarded in angry frustration.

Lots of fudge made, eaten and given as gifts. Thank goodness I don’t have an induction hob at my summerhouse and can enjoy the luxury of non-stick saucepans.

4 dogs and 3 puppies seen. Lots of future plans made.

All in all, not a bad month…

home made fudge

It’s Paperback Publication Day!

Well … yes … in theory.

In reality Amazon is not the easiest system in the world to come to grips with.

It’s a lot of time spent staring at screens, looking at messages that say “Processing your file” and “Errors – Click here to view all

A lot of back to the drawing board.

Perhaps my cover is too big. Perhaps it is too small. Perhaps the page count wasn’t what it was in the file.

Perhaps all the pages inexplicably disappeared.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-09-21-37

What the … ?!

It’s going to be a long day.

Good thing I’m off to a dog show later. I think I’m going to need the break.

 

Book Buyer’s Remorse Part III

 

Remember how in November I spent 400DKK I didn’t have on books I didn’t want (and still haven’t read)?

How it made me determined to give the whole indie author thing one last big bash just to get my money back?

Today it paid off.

Today I found out that I made the 400DKK I laid out for those books. It’s not much. It’s about $50.

It was never really about the money. That was just kick up the *** that I needed.

After all this time of trying and failing and not really feeling like my heart was in it, it’s amazing. It was proof that I did something right. Proof that people read my book and not just because they know me and are trying to be nice. Proof that I had found a way that was working for me. Proof that I can keep going down this road and see where it leads me.

I’d like to bake cake for everyone who bought or borrowed my book!

But sadly this will have to do …

A huge thank you to all my readers. I am more grateful than I can say.

cake-3-1320563-639x426

 

Shogun in the Shed

I believe any writer, certainly any avid reader, has certain books that mean more to them than others.

I know I do.

Special books that have comforted me, changed me, challenged me.

From 1998 – 1999 I lived in France as part of my BA. It was the same year my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. Still one of the worst years of my life. When it was over, I spent almost five months living in Spain. I spent four of those months sitting in a small shed by the side of a roundabout for seven hours every day, selling excursions to tourists.

In that small, stuffy shed with no air conditioning and no electricity, I read, wrote and slowly came back to myself. I listed to mixed tapes on a battery-operated radio and picked up rotisserie chicken before biking home. I learned the Spanish for, ‘3 tickets to Barcelona on Thursday’s excursion,’ and ‘Are there any more seats available for the Flamenco night?’ The house was broken into and everything my grandmother had left me was stolen. After that, I slept with a kitchen knife by my pillow and checked under every bed and in every cupboard as soon as I came home. Scared at every noise and still furious that my dream of living in France had blown up in my face, I missed my grandmother and tried to find a new dream. A new life.

I kept a diary and read James Clavell’s Shogun for the very first time.

It’s an incredible book. You become utterly immersed in a fascinating, historical world. (I realise that a lot of my treasured books are historical novels.) But it’s not just the world. It’s how a man who finds himself in a world that is completely foreign to him, slowly opens his mind to the new impressions and learns not only to cope with the enormous change in his life, but finds a whole new way to live it. A way of balance and zen, reflection and reason. Set against an intriguing background of love, war, religion and politics.

The more I read, the more my outlook began to change. As my outlook changed, the entries in my diary changed, too. When I left Spain, I left with a dream.

Ever since that summer, whenever I am faced with an unwelcome change, I read Shogun. Again I find peace and tranquility and harmony, wa. 

Usually with a cup of green tea.

Read it.

An Apple, a Shiba and the Art of Compromise

I just had a re-run of the same conversation I’ve been having for twenty years.

Mum: What do you eat for breakfast.

Me: Usually a piece of fruit at the office and then an early lunch.

Mum: So you don’t eat breakfast. Breakfast kickstarts your metabolism.

Me: Scientists are debating that.

Mum: You need to eat in the morning to function properly during the day.

Me: I can’t eat first thing in the morning. Then I’d need to get up earlier.

Five minutes later …

Mum (reading something on the Internet): Apparently it’s true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Also strengthens your teeth. Those apples in the bowl are organic.

Me: (Thinking – I could say I only really like Red and Golden Delicious. Or I could just eat the damn apple, like I do at work, and get her off my back. I mean, make her happy.)

I mean, it’s an apple. What’s the worst that could happen?

giphy

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I want a dog. Not just in a this-would-be-so-cute kind of way, but in a deep, profound there’s-a-void-in-my-soul-without-one way.

I love the big dogs. Labradors will always be my favourites, but I’d also love a Great Dane or maybe a Broholmer. My parents would rather have smaller dogs although after they had to put their last dog to sleep they said never again. My son won’t go near a small dog.

Since we’re all going to be living together when the dog enters our lives, something has to give.

I can either:

a) Refuse to get any other breed than my favourites and

ai) accept that I won’t get a dog for many many many years

aii) get the dog I want and have constant tension in the house because my father complains about how much it sheds and/or drools

b) Find another breed that we can all agree on and accept that I can probably love another dog just as much. After all, I’m nuts about Snow and she’s neither of the breeds I really want.

Enter the Shiba Inu.

One of my son’s friend’s mothers breeds them so they’ve been in his life for a while. They invited us to a dog show last autumn. It was the morning I threw my back out but there were dogs involved and hell yeah I was going.

My son loved them. He said those four magic words I’ve been waiting to hear for years: Can We Get One.

When I showed the pictures of the latest litter to my mother she went nuts. Suddenly the idea of getting a dog again was back on the table.

Size-wise it works for all of us. Not too big but not too small either. As my uncle used to say, ‘If it can fit in your purse, it’s not a damn dog.’

Considering how many times I’ve read Shogun, a Japanese dog might just be the answer. Maybe we’ll call him Toranaga. Even my dad would be on board.

shiba inu puppies

Light My Fire

People ask me if I could live abroad again.

Yes, of course I could. I go do a few years in Dubai if I really had to.

Do I want to live abroad again – that’s a different question.

The answer is no.

I’ve done my travelling. I’ve lived in seven different countries and I waited a long time to get back home again.

One reason I could never leave is this house. My summerhouse, country house, whatever you want to call it, on Langeland.

There’s something about this island that tugs at my heartstrings, and this house has wrapped itself around me like an octopus.

When I’m away from it, I miss it. I wonder if it feels lonely sitting there all by itself, no laughter to warm its rooms. I couldn’t bear being all the way over in Dubai and unable to go there for a weekend.

I feel about this house, the way I made Anne feel about hers. Her desire to go home is real because it’s mine.

Yesterday was a bit of a milestone for me and my house.

I finally managed to get the fire lit. After many many failed attempts now and in November, I was determined. I stood in the kitchen after failed attempted no. x yesterday afternoon and it came down to one of three choices.

  1. We huddle under blankets and both catch colds
  2. I turn up the heating and risk running out of oil before they deliver again this week. Revert to option 1, just later in the week.
  3. I get the damn fire lit

Cavemen can light fires for god’s sake. They didn’t even have firelighters.

I remembered what my father told me I had to do. If I failed, I would try again. This time, the flames would dance for me. Not just on the firelighters and the local newspaper.

And they did.

We stayed warm, had tea and double chocolate chip cookies and played boardgames while the heat made its way through the house.

I showed my son that if you need to do something, it’s no good giving up or hoping someone else will do it for you. Lighting a fire may seem like a small task, but if we give up on the small ones, what will happen when we are confronted with the large ones?

Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning, remember what you were taught, and keep trying until you get it right. When you do, it’s worth it. When you’ve done it once, doing it again becomes much easier.

There will be another fire this afternoon. For the next round of boardgames.

Did She Really Say That?

Do you ever overhear part of a conversation by accident, get drawn in and start listening even though you didn’t mean to? Then you hear something that you desperately want to respond to but can’t because then you’d have to admit you were eavesdropping like some sad pathetic loser who doesn’t have any friends of her own to talk to.

‘Then you can drink tea and read a book like an old lady.’

 

Did she really just say that?

I’ve been enjoying that combination since before my age was in double digits. Or, put another way, before this woman was even born.

Her problem can’t be with tea because I’ve seen her drink it.

So it must be with reading.

If she thinks that reading is just something that happens to old ladies, then I feel so sorry for her. Even sorrier for her children.

To not be a reader is to deny yourself an enormously fulfilling part of life. Reading is a gateway into other worlds, other parts of the human experience. It awakens thoughts and emotions in a way that no other media can. It stimulates your imagination, broadens your horizons and your vocabulary. Reading to your children is not just a wonderful way to spend quiet time sharing something together, but something which helps develop their minds and imaginations. It’s a gift every parent should give their child.

Books have got me through some of the loneliest times of my life. I have found happiness and solace amongst the yellowing pages of my favourite novels. Tedious hours spent in airport lounges fly by in the company of a good book. The more books I read, the more I knew that I wanted to be a writer.

The sun is shining on the snow outside my window. I am going to pack up my car and drive to Langeland. Where I will drink tea, read books, clean gutters, chop wood and battle spiders.

Call me an old lady.

I dare you.