Tag Archives: twitter

dementia, a remarkable book & more

Today I want to showcase a book by a fellow author, Doreen ‘Dody’ Cox, Adventures in Mother-Sitting: http://amzn.to/RQo8kn UK, http://amzn.to/Qn08by US

Dody is one of my beta readers for Aunt Sally & More, the sequel to my book The Aunt Sally Team, and I got to know her via Twitter and Facebook. The reason I’m featuring the book is because it’s free at the moment and I think everyone should have a chance to download it. Dementia affects us all sooner or later, whether personally or through the media. If you read Terry Pratchett’s books, you will probably have been moved by finding he has Alzheimer’s and touched by his tireless work in raising public awareness about the deterioration of the mind it causes.  Dody’s book is remarkable as it plots the course of her mother’s deterioration and her own growth as she finds resources within herself to carry on coping and loving. Below is my Amazon review of the book, but don’t take my word for it; take a look.

This book is about the journey two brave, wonderful women make. One treads the path of self realisation and spiritual insight via her role as carer for her elderly mother: the other journeys through dementia to death. The voyage is one of learning, humility, dignity and above all love. These central characters are held and sustained by a network of compassionate supporters – both close family and the health care workers, nurses and doctors involved as well as people chance met along the way. The tale unfolds in an almost Zen like manner, showing how suffering, grief and frustration can evolve into peace, insight and the love and equanimity that help us rise above the hardships and sorrows of the human condition.

Dementia touches all our lives, whether through people close to us, through our own mental deterioration as we grow older or through the wider context of society. I would recommend this beautiful book as reading for anyone closely involved with the experience of dementia or caring for the elderly, but also, perhaps, as a tool of understanding and realisation for anyone.

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autumn, dogs & new writing

Autumn has properly arrived at last, really late, and there are beautiful patterns everywhere, formed by colourful fallen leaves. It’s also waterlogged wherever we take the dogs. Both of them are coming home soaked after their run each day.

As for me, I’ve finished writing Aunt Sally & More, the sequel to my bestselling novel The Aunt Sally Team and have spent days on revisions and edits. Now it’s out with people who are beta reading it. That’s one of the wonderful things that has come out of being part of the community of readers and authors on Twitter: I have new friends who are also writers and can swap reading and commenting. I’ve also begun another new book, linked to my novel The Sacred Marriage. Meanwhile, I’m hoping Aunt Sally & More will be ready to publish on Amazon KDP in December – I’m just waiting for Beccy Blake to do the cover.

Phew, it’s been a busy few weeks and set to continue…

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writing, tweeting, dogs & tags

This is a mish-mash diary kind of entry

I’m pegging on with the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf). Actually pegging on may not be the right description, as it seems to be pouring out at a rate of around 3000 words a day. I haven’t written this fluently since I was a teenager scribbling on my lap in class at school with my desk lid raised to hide what I was doing. Of course, me being me and being quite a perfectionist, I’m deeply suspicious of anything that’s happening so easily – what’s the catch? it’s bound to be inferior if it’s not causing me grief and sending me into displacement activity. But so far it seems fine.

I’m constantly amazed, while writing, at how characters emerge. I may start off with ideas about who they are and what they do, but they soon put me right and surprise me with facets of their personalities that I’d had no notion existed. And people who were minor suddenly thrust themselves into the limelight and take on a more central role in the book. It’s impossible, while in the midst of crafting a novel, not to relate to your characters as if they are real people.

Meanwhile, to return to the leviathan machinations of Twitter, I tweeted recently of how being part of the community of authors on there is akin to being let loose in a huge library: so many excellent books, like gorgeous offerings in a sweet shop window. Just love it! My Kindle is filled to bursting point with wonderful stuff that I’m looking forward to finding time to read. And very few of those books are published traditionally. Although there are some lemons published by indie authors, I would say that there is a vast body of brilliantly written, engaging, absorbing material that the mainstream publishers were mad not to have snapped up. Their loss – and, to be honest, I don’t know that I’d want to go the trad route now: indie lets you keep a much higher percentage of royalties. The Aunt Sally Team earned more in June than my traditionally published books did in six months in the past.

But it’s not all about writing. We take the dogs down to the Kidneys and Aston’s Eyot once or twice a day to run to their hearts’ content. This is a large green area down by the Thames and is filled with trees and wild flowers and various species of wildlife, including red deer, muntjac deer, buzzards, hawks, red kites, herons and jays. This area features quite largely in The Aunt Sally Team and its sequel (which is what I’m writing now).

Mind you, it’s been a minefield down there lately. One of our dogs (the new one, the Saluki lurcher) has taken to rolling in fox poo (which stinks!) and finding rabbit carcases and, last night, a wing from a dead bird – she carries these trophies off in triumph at great speed till yelled at to drop them. I washed her harness two days ago only to have her roll in unspeakable things again. The joys of nature and dog ownership.

Just a final word, while it’s fresh in my mind. If you have a book on Amazon, tags are important. You can do your own tags and hopefully this will encourage others to also tag your book. The tags section is halfway down the page your book is on. Tags help people find you when they are searching via key words, so they are actually pretty important.

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social networking again & writing, with a bit of dog walking thrown in

I’m discovering more facets of social networking, especially regarding Twitter. For a start I’m still trying to gauge how many retweets I can do for fellow authors before going over my daily limit. I’ve got a horribly over developed social conscience and can’t bear to leave anyone out. Consequently I keep being rate restricted, thus hampering tweeting about my own books.

But I’m also finding ways to streamline what I’m doing. Following an excellent series of articles by Rachel Abbott in her author friendly blog (http://rachelabbottwriter.wordpress.com/) I’ve started using SocialOomph to schedule tweets so that I don’t have to worry about composing those and posting throughout the day: you can even save tweets to repeat post later. However, coming back to being rate restricted, I’m finding that some of my scheduled  tweets aren’t going out because I’m over the limit. I really do need to get a handle on how many to do for other people and how many to save for myself.

I’m making friends and getting to know people on Twitter now. I didn’t think that was going to happen, given the brevity of a tweet, but happily there are ways round the 140 character limit, such as breaking a message into several tweets. There are some truly supportive people and my experience so far has mostly been positive and heartening  One or two other authors are less giving and don’t return the retweet favour and a couple are happy to offer swapping likes for your book but don’t fulfil their side of the bargain, but they are in a minority. The majority are courteous and helpful in the extreme.

With scheduling the tweeting of my books, I’m finding time to write now and have got nearly 13,000 words done of the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team. This may not sound like a lot, but the way I work is to reread and reread, polishing and refining as I go along. Walking the dogs in the local water meadows is helping my writing as the book is set in our home area of Oxford.  We see deer down there from time to time and tonight a heron flew over and buzzards were circling. The place is a mass of wild flowers at the moment: yarrow, convolvulus, vetch, teasel, cranesbill and red and white campion. The endless rain of this summer in Britain, followed by sunshine, has caused an absolute profusion of blooms. It’s all very inspiring.

So all in all life is interesting and fulfilling. The worst of the settling in problems with Isha, our new Saluki lurcher, seem to be behind us. She’s fun and very sweet. We still have some hairy moments with her, like when she ran at full speed into the net surrounding the tennis courts in the park today and did a double somersault, but she’s mostly much easier now.

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social networking…

…is stealing my life away! Begin day: breakfast in front of the computer while retweeting other authors’ books and giving my own a quick push; feed dogs; more retweeting, a look at Facebook and pootle around checking my books’ sales and rankings (who am I kidding, that’s the first thing I do when I wake up!); walk dogs; try to do some writing but get distracted by Twitter and Facebook – repeat at regular intervals.

But, you know, it is a wonderful way for authors to keep in touch and meet new friends; it isn’t all about promoting your books. Writing is a very isolating occupation, and while that’s fine and good most of the time, creativity flows better if you have inspiration, input and companionship from others doing the same as you. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the social side of social networking. The icing on the cake for me has been  ‘meeting’ some lovely people and finding new books to read.  A spin-off has been that I see myself mentioned in unexpected places now, popping up on virtual newspapers, websites etc. That has to be good for exposure.

Meanwhile I’m finding the iPad an invaluable tool. I can transfer my new book back and forth from the main computer via Dropbox, which means I can keep writing in front of the television while my partner is watching the Olympics, or slobbed out on the sofa in the morning sun or even in the garden (I know you can do that with a laptop too, but the iPad is smaller and more comfortable to hold). The sequel to The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf – note sneaky social networking style addition of link!) is growing much faster than the original book did as a result of this relaxed approach to writing. Being able to compose anywhere, instead of making a task of it by sitting in front of the computer, is helping the creative part of my brain to get productive. And don’t get me wrong, though there is discipline involved in writing, I actually love doing it.

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writing, tweeting, the indie author community and having a new dog in rainy Britain

I’ve been tied to the house for six weeks due to the arrival of Isha our new dog, a six month old Saluki/Whippet rescue dog. It’s been a very restricting time till recently. In the early days I spent the whole time she was awake holding onto the end of a lead to make sure she didn’t chase our five cats. To begin with too she had a badly upset tummy and had to be taken into the garden at regular intervals, including the middle of the night. It was something like having a new baby in terms of sleep deprivation and in the end it was easier to sleep with her so that I could get her out at the first whimper, thus forestalling any messy accidents. That led to temporary separation anxiety and Bee Gee like howling at night once we began to leave her downstairs alone (except for the company of our border collie cross, that is). Then there was the problem of exercising her while she was first with us and couldn’t safely be allowed off the lead away from the house. Add that to torrential rain and a very wet June and you can imagine the effect a cooped up running dog has had on the garden.

None of this, of course, has been conducive to writing blogs or books, or networking. Though I have made a start on the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team.

Meanwhile I have plunged into using Twitter. I’ve had an account for some months but just didn’t “get it”. It’s been a bit of a learning curve, especially getting used to how fast it all moves, but I’m now retweeting like a goodun – so much so that this morning I retweeted so many other authors’ books that I was rate limited and couldn’t tweet my own for several hours. I hadn’t realised there was a limit – though I suppose, thinking about it, that there would have to be. I know now! But it’s been wonderful to connect with a thriving community of other writers, many of them indie authors.

So now to drag myself away from blogs and Twitter and obsessively watching my hourly book sales and Amazon ranking. I have a novel to write, hopefully in time for Christmas.

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