When Outlander Was Cross Stitch

Many years ago my mother bought a book in an airport. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I seem to recall it being one of those times when a flight was delayed for three hours.

For years, she tried to get me interested in reading this book. It was called Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon. But the premise of a time-travelling love affair didn’t quite grab the teenage me. I’m not entirely sure why, probably some form of teen rebellion because my mother loved it so much. Real little trouble maker, me.

I remember trying to read it at one point, but I was never really able to get into it. If I change my mind, I know where it is. It’s always on her bedside table.

Now it’s on Netflix as Outlander. Ever since it came out she’s talked about it and I’ve promised to watch it. Finally, this weekend, she forced me to sit down with her and pay attention.

I did enjoy it. I’ve kept watching it.

But it got me thinking about readers. About how some books can stay with a reader for years. About how a reader can envision the characters you create and bring them to life in their imagination. About how attached we can become to the books we treasure. We keep them with us through the bad times and the good. They offer familiarity and comfort. They inspire us, move us, make us laugh, make us cry.

The books we truly love become a part of who we are.

That’s what we dream of as writers. That one day one of our books will mean that much to someone that they always know where it is. That it will become a book they turn to for comfort, inspiration.

I know I’ll never write that book for my mother, because in everything I write she immediately sees me.

But I’d love to write that special book for someone else.

Introducing… Book Talk

I know I’m not the only one who wants nothing more than to have people read their book. I’m going to sign up for this – hope lots of people join me!

KC BOOKS & MUSIC

Featured Image -- 8725Hi folks! I’ve come up with a new idea for how authors can talk about their books here on KC BOOKS & MUSIC.

Instead of doing the old run-of-the-mill interviews and guest posts in 2017 as I have over the past several years, I am introducing my innovative approach and calling it, Book Talk.

Book Talk is the way I’m going to promote authors from now on. If you have a recent release or a new/upcoming release Book Talk could be just what you need to boost your book’s exposure and gain some new readership… This really is a new approach.

Well don’t just take my word for it, check it out on my new page in the menu or right here:

BOOK TALK.

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The Beatles, Amazon, Disruption

When I was twelve my parents thought it would be good to move to the country. As a consequence of that, I started spending most Saturday mornings in the local library. Meanwhile, my parents braved the usual hungry hordes in the supermarket opposite to stock up on food for the week. After weeks of skirting around it, I decided to read Når snerlen blomstrer by Bjarne Reuter. He’s been my favourite author since the creepy school librarian introduced me to him when I was eight. That was the book that introduced me to The Beatles. For all that we often listened to 60s music in the car, The Beatles were never on the soundtrack.

But from that day it changed.

While my friends listened to Nirvana and headbanged their way through the early 90s, I collected Beatles albums on vinyl. (I didn’t get a CD player until 92.) They shook their heads at my lame taste in music and I learned that my father’s favourite Beatles song was Paperback Writer and my uncle’s was Penny Lane. Ever since my uncle died, I smile and think of him when I hear it.

But Paperback Writer

It’s a wonderful song.

Dear Sir or Madam

Would you read my book?

It took me years to write

Will you take a look?

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Maybe I haven’t been very successful at getting Dear Sir or Madam at the literary agencies to read my book, but real readers are reading it. Today I read a new review on Amazon; a wonderful woman named Mandy got her bookclub to read it. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible that feels. (Thinking about it, a writer probably should never say that she can’t describe something.)

This week my book – the very first paperback edition – arrived on my doorstep. My words in print. Something I can put on my shelf. Sometimes I just stare at it. A paperback. Which makes me a paperback writer. In some shape or form.

I remember when self-publishing was something to be slightly ashamed of. Whenever you mentioned doing it, people looked at you like you were getting your book churned out by children in slave labour camps who were forced to chop down trees in subzero temperatures.

But then there was Amazon. Just like über disrupted publishing and Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry, Amazon changed the way we can publish books. Perhaps some people will still think it’s an awful book, but people think some traditionally published books are awful. Perhaps I’ll never see my book on a shelf in an airport. But Mandy made her bookclub read it and they enjoyed it. Right now I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I always did like Amazon.

 

 

The Waiting Game

Guess what! Guess what!

Yesterday did become Paperback Publication Day.

After all those failed attempts, all that wailing and rending of garments, I finally produced a version that Amazon accepted for publication.

I will be able to hold my book in my hands. I will be able to sit with my tea/latte/glass of wine and read my book on something that is not electronic. Something where I can turn pages, put bookmarks in it. When spring comes, people can sit with it in parks or lie with it on the beach.

My book!

Then came Part One Waiting : Amazon had to approve.

That woke me up at 4 a.m.

They told me the book was available, they even sent me a link. It looked like it was now for sale!

And there was much rejoicing.

Then I checked during the day … Several times. Obviously I need a copy to put on my shelf and also check to see what it looks like.

Nothing.

Nothing again.

Coming home, I remembered that Amazon emails need to be read with a magnifying glass and Sherlock Holmes by your side.

Congratulations, the paperback edition of your book “Chocolates in the Ocean” is live in the Amazon Store. It is available* for readers to purchase here. If you have republished your book, your changes are now live.

* There’s a clue in the somewhere

Ah yes, there it is …

*Please note that your paperback’s product description may take 24-48 hours to appear on its Amazon detail page

So I wait. And wait again.

I would love to met the people who write emails for Amazon.

But I’m sitting here with a smile on my face. I’ll get to buy my book. That’s worth a glass of champagne.

Chocolates in the Ocean

The Cake in the Sword

Today is World Book Day. My son’s school celebrated by encouraging everyone to bring a dish inspired by a book. Naturally we had to make cake.

For Christmas some old friends came him Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. He laughed, he loved it. When he loves a book, I’m ecstatic. Apparently there’s a rather irreverent sword in the book. His name is Jack and he goes on dates with talking axes. Or something like that.

One chocolate cake later … et voilà!

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Actually the blade broke when I lifted it onto the sheet. Which in my mind makes it more Narsil than Jack. My son hasn’t got to Lord of the Rings yet. I told him he has to read the whole thing at least once. After that it’s okay to go “cool stuff happens … elf song (skip skip skip) … more stuff happens … more elf songs (skip skip skip) … Sam and Frodo in Mordor (skip skip skip) …

Maybe that can be the next cake project…

 

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.

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.