So you want to have an author photo, huh?

Living thousands of miles apart, Lorraine in Colorado and Pam in Surrey, England, it’s not always easy to get an author photo of “Ellie Campbell”. Worse, we hate almost all photos of ourselves, not to mention the whole experience of posing, so the photographer has quite a challenge on their hands.  There’s good reason authors often keep the same photo for years. Time may improve fine wine and maybe even our writing skills but, alas, we can’t say the same for the waistlines and wrinkles.  And with two subjects under the lens there’s always one who pulled a funny face or closed their eyes at exactly the wrong time.

A few years back we bravely endured a professional photo session but the immaculate blow-dried hairstyles and carefully slapped-on make-up just didn’t feel like “us”, despite the poor guy’s valiant attempt to airbrush us back to our teenage years!

Still on April 9th this year we were about to publish our sixth novel,  Meddling With Murder.  A marketing pack needed to be sent off to various sites for our upcoming blog tour, and we wanted more than one photo or it could all be a bit samey. And since Pam and the rest of our family were flying over to Boulder for the launch party (which cunningly coincided with Lorraine’s birthday bash) we couldn’t miss the opportunity.

We had an inkling of how hard it would be. Luckily our sister Jo is an ace photographer and has the patience of a saint.

We decided not to dress up, although we did bring along our cowboy hats – after all we were staying at Lorraine’s horse ranch and were off to a Western party later that day.

First problem wPam clambering on fencee had was Pam clambering on the fence.  Her knees were shot after all the punishing long-distance cycling that her husband had been forcing her to do over the past year.

Pam pokey finger

 

 

 

Actually we decided the hats might work in our favour. Cast enough shadows and nobody would notice the bags under our eyes.

Pam Burn upright

 

Hmm. Perhaps we need more of a backdrop? Ah, a barn, that’ll do.

 

 

Pam started  yabbering on about comedian Harry Worth thinking we could Harry worthdo something like this…

 

 

 

 

But Lorraine assured her that, even if we could manage Ian getting in on the actionthat trick, no-one under the age of forty would know who we were emulating – and especially not in America. Besides, it wasn’t long before Pam’s husband, who was doing some manly stuff with a drill, tried to enter the picture and steal our thunder.

 

 

 

 

Pam and Lorraine trying hard to stay upright

Pam’s daughter thought a glass of wine might help us relax and soften the rigor mortis grins. We had one glass each, then had trouble standing on the door ledge so we were tall enough to peer over.

 

Pam and Lorraine slightly squiffy

Plus the wine made us slightly squiffy

 

 

Remy licking Lorraine

 

It was time to call in the big guns – Lorraine’s faithful mutt, Remy. We both got a lot of love going on from him but we needed something more…

 

 

Time to call in the bigger guns. Luna just happened to be having a peaceful nap in the pasture.

Lorraine and Luna smaller

OK but the point was to have both of us in it, Lorraine

pam and luna Lorraine hidden

And Pam.  Luna looks great though

Pam on her knees

‘Move closer to the horse, Pam!’ Jo yelled out. But Pam had trouble getting off her knees, (again blame all that cycling).

 

 

 

 

All right, we decided, we’ll just get the whole family to share the experience. (We could always crop them out later.) Which was when Luna’s mum, Sugar decided to photobomb us…

photobomb

Finally after about 300 photos and a few more glasses of wine, we came up with a couple we could tolerate. Not perfect, but hey, that’s cool.  Neither are we!

IMG_1187 - Smaller - Pam and Lorraine on fence best

 

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Why being an author is the best job in the world

First, an apology. It was my turn to post on Saturday but I was under the weather.

2015-04-01 17.06.17 web I’m now behind in producing the bonus material for The Christmas Promise so I’m going to make this a pretty  brief post (so that’s an apology second as well as first!) and my theme is that, despite needing a lot of motivation and teeth-gritting persistence, I can think of no better job than to be an author. Here’s why:

  • As a child I would read and read. I read my books, my brothers’ books and, before too long my parents’ books (with a little censorship – ‘Lolita? Not that one, darling’), school library books, public library books and my friends’ books. Then I’d read my books again. I spent my pocket money on books. I longed to be a person who could create stories for other people to disappear into. I still can’t believe my luck that I’ve managed it. Authors were, and are, my rockstars.
  • I make my living from making things up. I realise  I’m not unique. Creative industry arises  from what people can conjure up in their heads and make into a product – music, games, films, TV, art, radio, advertising, design, illustration and a whole spectrum of other things that begin as an idea – but sometimes I just stop and think about how amazing that is. It begins with an idea, something that I possess for free. OK, ideas don’t come along to order … but they do come along.
  • In cahoots with my agent and publisher, I can exercise my business brain by steering my own career.
  • I work hard but to my own schedule. I may work 50 or 60 hours a week but they’re the hours I choose and I can arrange them around Zumba classes and a cuppa with my mates.
  • I’m invited to stand up and speak. People not only listen – sometimes they clap!
  • My writing has led to leading workshops and courses and some of them are in fab places like Italy, France and America. A ‘classroom’ in the shape of a sunny Italian terrace fills me with joy.

  • Lovely readers contact me on social media with nice messages. It was a highlight of my writing life when a lady approached me at a book signing to tell me she’d been seriously ill and reading All That Mullarkey was making her enforced rest bearable. She bought almost all the rest of my books before she left.
  • Little pieces of excitement crop up week after week. This book’s sold overseas, here’s the new jacket for that book, The Christmas Promise is up for preorder, would I like to guest on a blog (generally ‘Yes please!’), could I run my eye over the plans for my media campaign (get me! I have a media campaign!), am I available to go on local radio, here are your royalties (whoop!), it’s time for the London Book Fair/someone’s book launch/a conference/a party.
  • I number a lot of authors amongst my friends.
  • I number a lot of book bloggers amongst my friends.
  • HelicopterwebI can visit amazing places and do fabulous things in the name of research. Like … let’s see – Strasbourg? Or up in a helicopter?

I find a lot of hard work involved in my job and my fair share of  disappointments and rejections. But it’s really truly worth it and I wouldn’t change my profession for any other.

Words clouds can be great tools for editing

MWM

This year is proving to be a really busy one for me. In January, we started this new blog, Take Five Authors, which has been huge fun. It’s great to be working with some really good authors on a shared venture. I also started writing for the Love a Happy Ending lifestyle magazine late in 2015, and that’s proving to be exciting and stimulating too. (You can read my recent article on staying in castles in Scotland here.)

6In February, my novel Between Friends was published. It’s about friendship and revenge, and it’s set in Edinburgh. I love the three main characters, Carrie, Marta and Jane, and all my readers are telling me that the villain, Tom, makes them squirm. I think that’s a good thing! I loved writing about Tom, he’s a true sociopath, he doesn’t care about other people at all.

MWM webAs if all that hasn’t been enough, I have another book coming out in July. Mistakes We Make is the fifth novel in my Heartlands series, set in East Lothian, and it’s the first that takes up the story of one of the supporting characters in another novel (People We Love).

I’m off to Venice in a week (yippee!), but I am expecting to arrive back to the edits of Mistakes We Make – which is what has prompted me to produce this lovely Wordle (word cloud) made from the most frequently recurring words in the entire manuscript. I’m relieved to see that Molly has most prominence (my heroine), followed very closely by Adam (her ex husband), with Caitlyn the next biggest name. Caitlyn has a big role in the story.

The reason for creating a word cloud? Well, it’s partly just fun – you can play with the fonts and colours and layout – but it’s more than that. A word cloud can show you if you are overusing certain words. I used to use ‘little’ far too much, but this seems to have been conquered. At a recent workshop I was given a list of words you should delete. These included: really, very, that, just, then, totally, absolutely, literally, certainly, actually, basically, rather, quite, replied, asked, wonder, think, feel, realise, inhale, sigh, shrug, nod.

Looking at my word cloud, I see the word ‘think’. It’s on the large side, which means I’ve over used it, so that’s something I’ll be looking out for as I go through the edits. (Wonder if my editor will spot it?) I can see ‘felt’, though it’s quite small, and ‘quite’ (one of my weaknesses). Thankfully, ‘quite’ is minuscule, so perhaps I’ll get away with that one!

I like editing, so I’m looking forward to this. And I’ll certainly have my word cloud in front of me as I go through the text – the more bad guys I can delete, the more alive my writing will be!

 

More Excitement

Hard on the heels of Mary’s good news – I have some of my own to share.

The Wild One has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence. It’s in the category for Mainstream books with strong romantic elements. There are some wonderful authors on the shortlist – and it’s a real honour to be one of them.

The Wild One is the second book in my Coorah Creek series. The first, Flight to Coorah Creek, won the Denver Romance Writers Aspen Gold Award last year.  I have been to Colorado a couple of times, and I liked it very much. That makes this just a little more special.

The winners will be announced in May – and in the meantime I have a lovely badge for my website… and a very big smile on my face.

The badge and the book - what a thrill.

The badge and the book – what a thrill.

Great excitement and shameless promotion

I’m excited this week so please indulge me as I do a bit of trumpet-blowing – and some shameless promotion.

Amazon has designated No More Mulberries a best seller in its Asian literature category on both UK and USA sites. It has a lovely little yellow sticker ‘Best Seller’ beside it. I’ve taken screen shots to show you, and for me to keep as a memento because I know its status will not last for long.

no more mulberries best seller 650
It’s lovely while it’s happening, though, and I’ve been clicking so often onto No More Mulberries on Amazon I know they will be sending me an email suggesting I buy it! It’s ranking in two other categories on Amazon.com have been not too shabby, either:

• #2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Classics > Women’s
• #65 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Romance

I put the digital version of No More Mulberries on Kindle Countdown at the bargain price of 99p (99c if you live across the pond). If an author enrols an e-book with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited he/she can run a promotion once in every 90-day period. The promotion can be either offering the book free for a certain number of days or reducing the price.

I’m not as organised as I should be and the last time I did one was way back in October last year so I could have run a promotion before now, which might have given sales a boost in February. February was a very lean month! I’m learning, though, and understand how important it is to ensure my novel is visible to potential readers who can choose from millions of titles on Amazon.

Of course, it’s not enough to reduce the price and send out a few tweets to get eyeballs on a book. I have some fabulous blogger friends who have helped by sharing news of the promotion widely through their networks – too many to name them all, but you know who you are and I thank you. I invested a few pounds (dollars) in some of the promotion sites – the ones which send subscribers emails offering a selection of books in their chosen genre. Ereader News Today is a site I’d recommend as an ad with it really results in sales. Some promo sites are much better than others and if you want to know more about how to promote your book you can do no better than visit eNovelAuthorsatWork and check out the blog posts there.No More Mulberries - web ready

That’s the great excitement bit – now for the shameless promotion of No More Mulberries.

Blurb: Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves working at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married. When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. An old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where once she was and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.

No More Mulberries is still on sale until the 11th of April so there is still time to grab a copy at the knockdown price of 99p. You can’t buy a cup of coffee for that!