Guest Articles

Using the Weather to move a plot forward!  


I've heard it said within the realm of theatre land and the movies *don't work with animals they'll upstage you*.  It has also been said of writers *don't let the weather take hold of your story*. Well here's a snippet from a previously mainstream published novel (out of print) in which the story is driven onward by the prevailing weather conditions. In this opening to a novel the female protagonist is about to post a Dear John Letter to a long-standing lover.

Author comment: Please bear with me on typos etc - I copy-typed this from book. This novel will be re-released on Amazon Kindle in due course as a revised edition.

_____


It was absolutely foul weather but it had to be done. The letter had to be posted before the four o’clock afternoon collection, and the post box was only a couple of hundred yards from the cottage.

Mercedes stepped under the porch and closed the door, the wind so strong she had to literally tug at the handle to secure it on its latch.

Was it just her imagination or had the temperature plunged a degree or two?

She turned up the collar of her raincoat, an umbrella out of the equation due to unrelenting gale force wind. She shivered a little as driving rain penetrated the porch, the wind whipping at loose titian-coloured pre-Raphaelite curls already turning them to bedraggled dripping coils. She loved Cornwall, loved her cliff-top cottage. But oh, how she hated rain.






Stepping out from the porch took courage; needles a better description to that which the gods had seen fit to throw down today of all days, the day she’d written the letter. The letter in her pocket she so wanted to be winging its way to London ASAP.

It wouldn’t have been fair to leave a voicemail message on Guy's cell-phone saying, sorry darling, have decided I’m cutting loose, and goodbye. In any case he would have picked up the call if not in some blasted meeting, and would have promptly laughed and told her to stay put. That he’d come down to the cottage and they’d talk things through. No, she couldn’t let that happen because he’d talk her round, and then nothing would change.

She delved her hands to the sanctuary of pockets, her fingers already turning blue. All but several paces from the cottage, she sensed iced water trickling down the inside of her collar, but needs must when the devil rides. She was feeling more rat-devil than devil woman in telling Guy she couldn’t go on as they were.

She didn’t want marriage for the moment, was that so wrong?

In his mind they were married as good as, his argument being: 'So why not slot the rings, say I do, and do the marriage bed as man and wife'.

He’d suddenly become all protective and possessive and a downright pain at social gatherings.  His action became so annoying to the extent she was  wary of his arm constantly about her waist or that of her hand firmly clasped in his. It felt as though he didn’t trust her in the company of other men, that flirting with other women was perfectly acceptable for him but similar for her was utterly taboo.

Oh hell, she was right, the barometer must have dived, because the rain had turned to iced beads of hail hammering at her head and pinging off her shoulders. She was soaked and freezing cold, but she could just make out the scarlet red glow of the post box nestling in its ivy-clad wall.

A few more paces and the deed would be done, the wind having suddenly eased.





Upon reaching the post box she stood staring at it, the letter brushing against her fingers in pocket. All the while iced water tumbled drom her hair and over her face and trickled down her neck. It was a now or never situation. Post the letter and be done, or turn around, retreat to the cottage and fling the letter and envelope on the fire.

She drew a deep breath steeling her self as she plucked the envelope from her pocket and placed it in the gaping mouth of the red box. At that very instant lightning streaked through the gunmetal clouds as though a message from the gods: don’t do it, you’ll regret it.

Oh hell, she felt in two-minds. In one she was breaking free, in the other she would miss him terribly.

A loud clap of thunder overhead shook the ground beneath her feet. Startled she let slip the
envelope. It was irretrievable, swallowed whole. It was done now, no going back and burning of the letter and carrying on as if everything was all right. The words were written. It was in black and white: I don’t love you any more. Or at least, she’d as good as said that by wanting out of the relationship, yet in reality she was still in love with him.

She would be cut adrift within a day: once he'd read the letter.

After all, what man would ignore what was written and not take it as gospel?

Icy coldness gripped her from within. The hail had ceased, beams of sunlight casting over the sea and cliffs.






Which of the two weather systems heralded her fate?

She glanced toward Bodmin Moor.

As always the moor's towering expanse lay majestic. Today though it was menacing dark beneath the blue-black thunderous mass that was rolling on relentless over heath and bog much like waves over massive rocks.







A light breeze picked up, the warmth from the sun stark in contrast to the freezing conditions moments beforehand. She turned about and strolled away from the post box. Appreciative of sun on her back she stripped off her raincoat and slung it over her arm. The sun bearing down hot, the breeze warm as she tossed her hair over one shoulder and leaned forward to strangle water from her tresses.

At least she was hundreds of miles from London. And, thankfuly Guy hated the four-hour plus drive to the cottage so probably enough to deter any thoughts of his tipping the letter on its head by turning up unannounced and declaring he hadn’t received it. Which was more than possible if he was in one of those damned insufferably arrogant moods of his, when nothing and nobody could put him off something he wanted and wanted now.

He hadn’t as yet rung on the house phone or via her cell phone, not since her arrival twenty-four hours earlier, and he must have returned from his business trip to Manchester by now.

The silence itself, was to say the least, ominously quiet on the Guy front.








Half way back to the cottage and negotiating a sharp bend she heard the sound of a powerful motor car approaching from her rear. It was travelling far too fast along the single-track narrow country lane. And, as it careered around the bend she threw herself at the steep grassy bank her head as good as plunged into the hedge, and in payment for clearing the road ahead she received  a deluge of water from huge puddle.

Car brakes squealed and tyres skidded as the vehicle came to an abrupt emergency halt, and not too far distant from where she was standing, trembling from the shock of it all.

Why had the gods saved her?

And, who was this idiot in a brand spanking new BMW?


~~~~~~~



What do you think - Does the weather detract from the story? 


How boring this scene might have been with a woman just walking to a post box whilst mulling her thoughts.
 
Books by Francine Howarth - Historical Romances and Contemporary offerings - are available via Amazon UK   Amazon US




Is KDP Select unlimited a good deal for authors?

Authors are pulling books from the KDPS (Kindle) in their droves. Why? Did you know your return on Unlimited downloads is $1.33 per book or thereabouts, no matter what your original listed purchase price declares. Unlimited fluctuates, and is rarely of benefit to the author, unless you're an author struggling to get noticed. So, in reality, If you priced your book at $2.99 and that's a cheap deal, you are in effect losing out. As for authors who have books at $3.99 - $4-50, you're losing out big time with Unlimited downloads. Authors are reporting Unlimited now averages 70% of their books which are downloaded from Amazon's KDPS. Unlimited is not only affecting self-published authors, it's bringing down sales of mainstream traditionally published novels. On the author grapevine it is said authors who write series novels are placing the first or a prequel within KDPS (Unlimited), and keeping the remainder of their series books as straight purchase only deals.   

Suzy (blog owner and journalist)



A brief How To article from a best selling author who wishes to remain anonymous.

How to sell books on Kobo, B&N etcetera while milking all the kudos of  Amazon's KDP Select policy, plus its Unlimited Reader deal, and the Free Promotion downloads policy!

HOW?

You can keep your author name or create a new one. I've stuck with my existing pseudonym to alleviate the effort of creating new blogs and social media sites.

7 Step guide 

1. Create a new Title.
2. Write a new blurb
3. Create or Commission a new cover
4. Change the names of prime characters.
5. Change html direct links to the bookstore where your listed books will be housed. 
6. Upload
7. Lick you finger, stroke the air, and say "F*ck you, Amazon.  
Not all that long ago, different titles, blurbs, and covers were par for the course for books published in countries other than original publication source. In effect, if you follow my 7step guide all you will be doing is selling your books to another readership via a different medium. It is not illegal to do any of the above changes to books. 





Perfect for Fanning the Flames


 I Hate Amazon



How I hate Amazon by Charlotte.


Hi, I’m Charlotte, and Charlotte Bream is my maiden name. I did think I might use my married name at Facebook and elsewhere until I read bad press about book reviewers and authors receiving hate mail. I hadn’t looked up Goodreads at the time so knew very little of what had caused a worldwide rumpus to do with book reviews on that site and I had by then already joined this review site. Curiosity about Goodreads got the better of me and I did a web search. What I came across was shocking to say the least. I couldn’t believe people could be so hate-minded toward novels to the extent of shredding them on public forums, all in a virtual context of course. The vendors of hate were secure in the knowledge no one could ID them. The same people were equally hell-bent in their madness to slight authors as unfit to write novels. After I found archived Goodread reviews via a Bing search I kept thinking why does anyone write bile like this? As one might expect authors had finally retaliated and all hell was let loose at Goodreads.



    I asked myself was Goodreads at fault for allowing punters to sign up with differing names and numerous accounts? Well yes, I think they were and I think Amazon is similarly in the wrong to allow people to sign-up with real names and then switch to farcical pseudonyms per accounts and forums at Amazon.



    After the brouhaha at Goodreads there was a noticeable shift in the wind and now Amazon is besieged with 1-2 star vitriolic reviews steaming with bile. Amazon reviews were originally helpful and informative, and reviews lower than 3 stars were a rare sight. I now ask myself what is Amazon thinking in letting all this bile drip from it pages? It is no longer a pleasure browsing reviews at Amazon, and requires time spent sifting through a maze of reviews that are so far removed one from the other, anyone with a glimmer of sense ignores the reviews and reads the sample provided for each book. If I could ask for one wish, and Amazon would grant it, I would ask for a bookstore minus reviews. It’s a vile place for buying books in the present climate. 

 




 


Promoting your book via third-party for FREE!

It is said the wider populace despises writers who do little more than self-promote their novels via Twitter & Facebook etc.  I guess they mean authors are prone to *garret mentality* and therefore rarely communicate in any meaningful way other than shouting out:

1. "Hey, I've just finished my latest WIP"   
2. "OMG, don't you just love my new cover image?"
3. "You can find my book here." (meaning sales point)
4. "OK, done, now for next book."
5. "Characters are screaming for attention."
So on and so forth.

Of course you can try out a fast-growing new trend in self-promotion at Twitter & Facebook. What new trend?

A) Comic, joke, thought-provoking, and or poetic Billboard posts.
B) Cute cuddly animal pics.
C) Travel images.
D) Talk about the Weather.
E) Talk drivel. Anything that gets you noticed.

Do the above quotes and attempts at advertising oneself sound Familiar? Of course they do, but how else can an author let the wider populace know that another masterpiece of word crafting has finally come off the loom of creativity if they dare not shout about it?

Hmmm. That's where the likes of Romance Reviews Magazine steps up. RRM is happy to promote your books and you on Facebook for free. Therefore leaving you to get on with writing! All you - the author - need do is send a cover image of your book, a blurb and links to point of sale. You can even post up a selected review of your book, perhaps an Amazon review. So. What's the catch? "Seemple" as a famous advertising Meerkat would say. In thanks to RRM, all you have to do is reciprocate by posting a guest post in which you can talk freely about yourself, your characters and your book/s. And, of course, a banner link to RRM is a link to fellow authors, which helps to build a greater platform for all without being too obvious. Better still, become a reviewer and help fellow authors realise a mutual dream of greater sales. One only has to think of a shopping mall with merely one shop, and compare it to a shopping mall with lots of shops. Yes, you have it. More shops more buyers and more books more readers. So why not join RRM today... Perchance your marketing skills have proved superior to our formula for creating third-party promotion. If that be the case, well done you in not putting off Twitter & Facebook followers  with your constant and blatant advertising. 







Creation of Memorable Characters! 

Do you aspire to the creation of memorable characters within the romance genre and hope that maybe, one day, a movie deal might come your way? 

“Gone With The Wind” was such a book... Margaret Mitchell was no doubt chuffed to bits when her blockbuster hit the bookstands and became a bestseller overnight. But, a lingering question has always surrounded that one-book deal.

“Why after such success did Margaret only ever write the one book?”

But she didn’t, did she, she wrote “Lost Laysen”. It’s a novella, and it was written ten years before GWTW!

You’ve heard of Rhett Butler, Scarlett O’Hara, Ashley Wilks and Melanie Wilkes, surely? The movie itself helps people to visualise the movie stars in the main character roles in GWTW:

Rhett Butler (Clark Gable)
Scarlett O’Hara (Vivienne Leigh)
Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard)
Melanie Wilkes (Olivia de Havilland)?

Without the movie GWTW would the characters be as memorable? I think they would, as were the characters in War & Peace long before the movie hit the big screen. 

GWTW the novel, in itself stretches far beyond that of Scarlett’s overt obsession and desire to be Ashley’s sweetheart. Of course it’s easy to remember Rhett’s ability to see right through Miss O’Hara’s shallow hide, and yet the political consequences and aspects of the war situation tend to become mere backdrop to the former when watching the movie. In the book, however, detailed descriptions of time and place along with vivid characters leap from the page, and every thing is much more vibrant than that as portrayed within the movie. The book is awe inspiring, and I guess that’s why it made it to movie status. 

Now, have you heard of Miss Ross & Bill Duncan?

NO?

Well you’re not alone. Yet, Miss Ross and Bill Duncan are as vibrant and intriguing as Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. These two characters equally spring from the pages of “Lost Laysen” in a flurry of romantic notions and that of unrequited love. There’s a third character, too, and similarities to GWTW abound. So did Margaret write Lost Laysen (contemporary at the time of writing) and then decide to revamp it to epic historical? Who can say, but perhaps, had she written more novels they might all have had a similar theme: of woman torn between two men. It happened in real life, her life. 

Given the time span between the penning of LL and GWTW, did it take Margaret Mitchell ten years to pen the latter? Intriguing, don’t you think?

Bar for a few letters and the manuscript of Lost Laysen, all Margaret’s papers were destroyed (burnt) at her behest. Would you, presupposing you’re an author who has made it into the big time, insist all record of your work be destroyed upon your demise?    



Knowing Your Publisher - author Francine Howarth 

Thinking in terms of publishing and publisher names, there are those that are easily recognisable i.e. Harper Collins, Transworld, Little Brown, Penguin, MacMillan etc., but when it comes to imprints one can be left fazed by it all.

Have you ever wondered why large publishers have so many imprints, well the answer in many cases is to do with mergers. One publisher takes over another, so on and so forth. In some cases old publisher names have vanished while others survived as *named publisher* within a vast organisation such as Hatchette.

Also, imprints exist within *publishing house* i.e. Transworld = Random House Group Ltd, and within the original Transworld,  Corgi, Bantam and others were recognisable brands in themselves.

There are still independent publishers of hardback and paperback novels, though most now engaged in or about to venture to the world of cyber books and e-readers. But who is who?

Even Mills & Boon, once renowned as an independent publisher of romance is now part of larger organisation, that of Harlequin Mills & Boon. HM&B equally given to numerous imprints: Mira, Desire etc.

What of small presses whether publishers of paperbacks? It seems a few are in the frame, though most specialise in specifics, such as high-brow literary books, poetry & anthologies, historical, military, etc.

In the cyber world where once e-book publishers were just about two-a-penny with erotic novels and a few into mainstream and romance titles, e-book publishing has now taken off big-time. It seems as if a new on-line e-book publisher pops up every few days on the Super Highway. How to keep track of all the publisher imprints is impossible. And now the main publishing houses have leapt to the e-book hop,        there's a veritable tornado of publishers bombarding Twitter, Facebook etc., and trying to tempt us to purchase their books.

But, what of the Indie author fed up with rejection, rejection, rejection, and has finally taken the step to self-publish? Yes, there will be bad books amongst the good, but there's bad books amongst the good  coming out of the big named three publishers. Bad editing, bad writing, bad grammar and typos galore can be spotted in mainstream novels, too. So, let's be fair and honest and admit biggest is not always best and, that literary snobbery will out in the strangest of ways: not least in spiteful reviews and malicious comments. I believe books I've enjoyed deserve recognition, those I haven't won't get a mention. I read for pleasure not as an exercise in flexing wannabe editor muscles.

The old saying *it's easy to be a literary critic but harder to write something worth reading* has always stuck with me, and I think it's a wise yardstick in the measure of people and their personality! ;)