The Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT) awards. VOTE NOW for your 2017 favourite.

Absolutely thrilled to find Donkey Boy & Other Stories is a finalist in Rosie Amber’s book awards for 2017.

Rosie Amber

The Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT) awards are back! 

Now in their third year, I’m delighted to open the public vote.  The books were chosen from the hundreds submitted to our team for review in 2017.   My team of reviewers were asked to nominate their favourites; here are those that made the final cut.

You may vote for one book in each category.  Please only vote for books that you honestly feel deserve an award, in accordance with the authenticity of my team’s reviews.

Voting closes on December 15th and the results will be announced  on Tuesday December 19th.

Meanwhile, huge congratulations to all the finalists!

Fantasy /Scifi

General Contemporary Fiction

Historical

Mystery / Thriller

Non-Fiction

Romance

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donkey boy & other stories out now in paperback

donkey boy book-cover-k v1I’m delighted to announce the paperback version of Donkey Boy & Other Stories is now available.

I had a launch event recently along with fellow author Lynn Otty who has also brought out her own collection of short stories called Having a Ball & Other Stories.

It was a lovely evening and great to see so many friends who came along to share in our celebrations with fizz and nibbles, a couple of short readings, lots of sales and a lot of chatter. Only, we forgot to take any photos apart from one Lynn’s son took before our guests arrived.

having a ball front coverDonkey Boy has already started to collect some fabulous reviews on Amazon and on review sites such as this one, which had me dancing round my desk, on Linda’s Book Bag:
“With under 80 pages, Donkey Boy and Other Stories can fit into any reader’s busy life.

What a little gem this book is. There’s a super variety of stories packed with atmospheric and entertaining writing containing both pathos and humour. Mary Smith manages to convey clear and distinct voices for each of her brilliant characters, from a Pakistani boy to an elderly Scottish woman. What I liked so much about every one of them is at I felt I knew them instantly and understood them completely but without the author imposing her own judgement on them as they make their way through life.

I loved the unifying themes across each of the stories too. Whilst each story has its own unique identity, Mary Smith explores themes that encroach into all our lives, from poverty in third world countries, through domestic abuse to mental health, grief, fear, love and disability. She does so with skill and finesse, never preaching, but conveying a wonderful sense of humanity for the misrepresented, lost and lonely and for those living unconventionally or outside social norms. I enjoyed every single tale, but especially the last in the book, The Thing in Your Eye, with its slightly supernatural undercurrent as Molly sees ‘Nasties’ in strangers’ eyes. The opening story, Donkey Boy, set in Pakistan also made me think about my own behaviour as I shall be travelling to India next year and will obviously be tipping those I come into contact with.

I really appreciated Mary Smiths wonderful craft in creating a sense of place, time and person so that although these are brief stories, each has a completeness and there’s real satisfaction in reading them.

I found Donkey Boy and Other Stories a moving, engaging and beautifully written collection that has the ability to touch the reader, make them thankful for their own life and to make them think. I’m delighted to have read it.”

And this ‘little gem’ of a book is an absolute bargain, if I say so myself, at only £4.50.

Buy it here: www.smarturl.it/dbaos

lynn and mary

Donkey Boy and Other Stories

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my short story collection, Donkey Boy and Other Stories.
donkey boy book-cover-k v1Over the last few years I’ve been focussing more on non-fiction titles so I’m particularly pleased to be returning to fiction with this slim collection of eclectic stories. Readers will meet a diverse range of characters in wide-ranging locations from Pakistan to Scotland.

It was with some trepidation I asked author Margaret Elphinstone to read the collection and, if she liked them, to write a couple of lines to use on the back of the book. When she emailed to say she’d decided to read the first couple of stories then found herself reading them all straight through I was very happy. I was even happier when she sent me this:

‘Whether we’re in urban Pakistan, an old-fashioned travelling circus in Scotland, or repressed suburban Britain, Mary Smith’s stories take the reader right to the heart of a situation. They focus on characters who are disinherited by mainstream cultures. Whether it’s the boy from Peshawar whose father can’t let him stay at school, the adopted child who is marginalised by an identity she can’t recognise, or a woman escaping from lethal oppression, these people have been forced to abandon a part of themselves. The take on this theme varies from first person narrative ironically revealing its own complacency, to an impersonal voice which takes us right to the heart of suffering. The final story is perhaps the most chilling: is the character suffering from all-too-acute perception of cruelty and brutality, or is she simply crazy? In these stories the reader’s position is always ambiguous: are we colluding with dispossession, or are we honestly able to listen?’ – Margaret Elphinstone, author of The Gathering Night

My thanks to Melissa Priddy of Creative Station for the fabulous cover design.

The ebook is available now on Amazon.

A paperback edition will be published soon – so watch this space if you prefer to read a real book.

Writing at Home or Away?

slide_local2 (Small)I’m just back from a week long writing retreat on my own in a caravan on the coast. Well, it turned out to be three and half days rather than the planned five days. On Monday my son had his Viva for his Masters and wanted a bit of parental support. Actually, what he really wanted was someone to take him for celebratory cocktails afterwards.

Not being one to pass up the chance to drink a cocktail or two with my son and his boyfriend I thought I’d leave early on Tuesday morning instead. Then on Monday night the painter and decorator who was going to paint our vestibule six weeks, ago before he emigrates to New Zealand, but failed to do so as he’s signed a contract with a record company and had to work on the material they’re recording, private messaged me on Facebook. He could do the job this week if I still wanted it done. DSCF0901sHe arrived just after 9.30 on Tuesday morning. I always loved the fact he wasn’t one of those workmen who arrive before 8am but this week I’d have welcomed an earlier start. I made coffee while he fed the cat treats. The cat originally belonged to him but we adopted her when he said he was going to New Zealand. The cat – called Bandit – had totally ignored him when he visited her a few weeks ago so he resorted to bribing her with treats. It worked. She’s the greediest cat ever. After coffee and a brief discussion on paint colours I left him with a set of keys (he already knows where the coffee is) and took off on my retreat.

By the time I’d picked up some supplies, unloaded the car at the caravan, set up my laptop, collected the tiny shards of broken glass all over the bathroom floor, reported the smashed bathroom window I was exhausted. I had a glass of a very nice Pinot Grigio I’d picked up in the Co-op – and that was the end of day two of my writing week. Honestly, I don’t understand how Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Parker, Hemmingway and all the many other writers who liked a drink managed to turn out such stunning work. One glass, and my brain is too fuzzy to focus on writing. Went to bed, fell asleep reading and was awakened by the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard.

Day Three, which is actually Day One of proper writing, was bright and sunny and I kept thinking about how much needs to be done in the garden and what a perfect day it would be to be working in it. I’d mentioned to some of my blogging friends I’d be away from all social media for a week so I didn’t feel guilty about deleting notifications and wasn’t too bothered when by late afternoon the internet connection had disappeared. I was writing. I didn’t need to be connected.

I wrote about three and half thousand words – then I started to become frustrated by the lack of internet connection. I needed to know what shower panels are called – not because I’d drifted off on to something else, it’s necessary for what I’m writing – but there was no connection. Okay, a row XXX to mark where the research is needed. Carry on. Four thousand words. Time to go for a walk. My desk is the wrong height, my back is aching. Come back; finish the Pinot Grigio and go to bed with a book. The caravan is a kindle-free zone so it’s a real book. Fall asleep again with the light on.

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Day Four, or Day Two, I re-write most of what I wrote yesterday. In the middle of the night I woke up (probably because I feel asleep with the light on) knowing there’s something fundamentally wrong and it really had to be sorted before I could move on. By the afternoon I am furious about the lack of internet connection. It’s one thing telling people I’m not going to be online but to be forced offline by a dodgy connection is quite another. I’ve only started to sort the problem with the book. Am also cross because the sun shone for most of the day. I want dull weather when I’m on a writing retreat.

Day Five, or Day Three, I wake late. Have chicken broth for breakfast. Should have had it last night and don’t want to have to transport it back home. It seems to work its magic and I sit at the laptop and work. The fact that it’s grey and miserable helps because I don’t think about sitting in the sun or working in the garden. I finish re-writing the first three thousand words and I write another couple of thousand. I stop. It’s time to stop. I may not have a huge chunk of work but I do have the first two chapters and I know where I’m going but if I see one more ‘server error’ sign appear I’ll quite possibly throw the computer through the, as yet, un-mended bathroom window.

I’m thinking now it might be better if there is no possibility of an internet connection then I might finally feel free to write all day. Or, maybe I should stay at home and take a few days away from social media? I think, though, I’ve realised I need to have a better system in place. Work first in the morning, then take an hour for blogs and Facebook before getting back to work with another hour for social media in the evening. That should work, shouldn’t it?

Free Promotion – Update

No More Mulberries - web readyI thought I’d give an update on my No More Mulberries promotion when, for five days, I offered it FREE to download.

I know it seems counter-intuitive to give books away and some authors are opposed to the idea and for a long time so was I. I knew it was something many indie authors did but I really didn’t like the idea of all my hard work being simply given away.

The redoubtable Jackie Weger, founder of eNovel Authors at Work, of which I am a proud member, persuaded me. She took me gently by the hand, pointed her snake gun at me and said, “Do it!”  I did it.

I’m delighted with the result. Over the five days almost 5,000 people downloaded the book, mainly in USA and UK but also in Canada, Australia, India and Italy. Okay, so they didn’t pay me for it but money isn’t everything, is it? I love the idea so many new readers now have a copy of No More Mulberries on their Kindles.

Also, people borrowed the book. This is something I don’t pretend to understand but for some reason people choose to borrow it from Kindle Unlimited rather than simply downloading it. I love it that they do because Amazon actually gives me money every time someone reads a page of a borrowed book. So far these lovely people have read 15,000 pages and climbing.

Reviews from these new readers have started to come in already. So far, they have been lovely, like the one Sally Cronin posted on her Smorgasbord blog as well as Amazon and GoodReads. Since the promotion ended and No More Mulberries returned to full price, paid sales have gone up. I expect they will plateau soon but it’s lovely while it lasts.

Of course, it isn’t just a matter of offering a book for free on Amazon – a fair bit of work is required if anyone is to know about it. Amazon doesn’t do much on that front so it’s up to the author. I booked a few paid ads on sites such as Ereader News Today, Digital Book Today, Great Books Great Deals and Authors Cross Promotion.

Major thanks go to Sally Cronin who promoted the free deal on her blog and to Sue Vincent and Marcia Meara who both let me write guest posts on their blogs, providing me with the opportunity of letting potentially several thousands of people know about No More Mulberries.

And for five days I worked social media – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – like a demon. The share buttons were red hot! It was exhilarating and exhausting and now I’m getting my head down to write.