I want to say goodbye. In case I don't get the chance again, although I'm pretty certain the island of Mallorca is even more up to speed with the internet than Harefield - I'm off on hols for a whole week. Will you think of me drinking sangria by the sea - er? I'll be thinking of you all.
I'm going to miss Tinker like crazy. I'll have no-one to tell me what to do.
But I'm taking my kindle of course, and catching up with some reading. If I said I'd review your book, and it hasn't happened yet, please remind me. The last couple of weeks have been pretty hetic, with a new puppy pooing & piddling everywhere and the new laptop breaking down. (Could those two be connected - just thought of that)!
A massive thank you to everyone who has taken the time to download my ebook, and even better yet left a review. It really is the best feeling in the world to know that someone else enjoyed reading my 'what ifs'. Because that's all my stories are really. Wondering what if and then thinking a little too deeply about the consequences and what could happen next. Epublishing has helped me express these thoughts and imaginings in eBook form and I'd recommend it to anyone yearning to share their work with a greater audience. Because while it's (its (especially for S.S.)) scary putting your work out there, and I'd rather call myself a dreamer than an author, it keeps me out of trouble. And it's a great excuse to guzzle chocolate. (Helps the creative juices flow my dears).
I shall come back tanned and toned and eager to catch up with your latest news!
Next year marks the cententary of the Titanic's maiden voyage, and interest in this tragic event shows no sign of abating. Nor should it. All human frailities and strengths are here: Pilgrims who dared to dream of a better life, placing their trust in the hands of men who were foolish enough to tempt the gods by boasting about the ship which was unsinkable.
When I needed a pivotal moment in recent history for my novel the fate of the Titanic seemed an obvious choice. The ship which sailed carrying a thousand hopes and dreams which were so cruelly dashed in that brave new century has entered legend. A metophor almost: No matter how high we build, how fast we travel, or what luxuries we chose to wrap around ourselves, against the forces of Mother Nature, we are as insignificant as the lowest parasitic insect. We're no different to any other form of life existing on this beautiful eden which can sometimes be so savage.Except this life form likes to rationalise. If we can't rationalise, we tell each other stories. And what stories we tell, about the ship of dreams
. As I discovered during research (yes I went there!) because there were two immediate enquiries into the tragedy, a wealth of immediate eye witness accounts is already in the public domain. Being human of course, it's all too easy for us to imagine what thoughts ran through the survivors' minds, and those who lost their lives. Being human, we began to weave whole new events and characters into an already packed drama. Books films and now websites featuring the Titanic are as many and varied as the passengers themselves.
A Ripple in Time is only one of many, my characters are fictional of course - time travel isn't really possible! But the events they experience on board the Titanic are closely based on fact
: What actually happened on that fateful day reverberates with more passion and emotion than any fictional work could hope to capture. To Rhyllann's horror, Wren explains how events unfold as though he's recounting a history lesson. Perhaps that is the Titanic's greatest legacy: A warning from history never to underestimate nature's power. A Ripple in Time is available in ebook format - try a sample now:Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukOr click here to visit Titanic Memoirsto add your favourite book, film or website featuring the Titanic, and see what others have recommended.
My home stinks of piddle and poo. Here's the reason why:
'I think I shall walk in Bayhurst Woods today.' I said.
'That'll be nice.' He said.
It was more than "nice." It was balm for the soul. No-one would ever call Bayhurst Woods 'Breathtaking' or praise the abundance of wild flowers, but the quiet gentle beauty of our native trees soaring cathedral like above age old twisting trails suited my mood. Before too long I met an elderly couple who stopped to fuss over my dogs.
'We lost our old girl.' The woman tells me. Having spent all last Friday hunting for my Dad's Patterdale Terrier, I panicked, knowing I was involved now and would have to help search.
'Lost her six months ago.' The man confirms. 'First time we've been able to walk in these woods without her.'
They both smiled, anxious not to burden me with their grief but I saw the scars they tried to hide.
So we spent the next ten minutes chatting, parting still as strangers but the memory of this chance encounter stayed with me.
This is for them, the nameless old couple I met briefly in Bayhurst Woods, and for all those who know the joy and heartbreak that we allow into our lives when we open our hearts to a dog.
The Power of the Dog
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.
We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?
I think I know the answer to Kipling's question. When memories are all that's left, be certain to create the best you can.
Julia Hughes, Author of A Ripple in Time
WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN
When I first discovered Amazon allowed authors to upload their ebooks for distribution on their site, I did a little happy dance. On the ceiling. A few months later I'm older and wiser as I've discovered that writing, formatting and uploading an indie ebook is only the beginning. With three quarters of a million books available for download on Amazon alone, why should readers pick your outpourings? "Because it's well written and the characters are fleshed out and loveable and the dialogue zings and the plot has amazing twists and turns and the story line is original and ... "
Yeah yeah yeah. Your's and thousands of others babe. Your book sparkles and shines; entertains and enlightens, but until it begins to sell, it isn't going to get reviews or ratings and without reviews or ratings it ain't gonna sell. A classic catch 22 situation.
So how to draw attention to your masterpiece before it sinks without trace? Three words: PUBLICITY PUBLICITY PUBLICITY
You have to get out there and sell sell sell! And it isn't easy. Because although it took a couple of months for the penny to drop with me, every other indie author is out there blowing their own trumpet. Either make as much noise, if not more, or make certain your tune is more beguiling. As mentioned, I'm new here too. But I've bumped into some real good guys who've been willing to lend a helping hand - they know who they are - and by trial and error feel qualified to offer the following tips: STUDY THE COMPETITION
By competition, I mean the successful indie writers. You wanna be up there with the big boys don't you? Go to Amazon's indie ebooks bestsellers. Study carefully. I'm not suggesting you follow blindly, after all you can't afford to lose your biggest selling point, your individual voice. But take a good hard look at their 'product description' as Amazon terms it. Also on this page, you'll see a link inviting you to learn more about the author. Click it. What information does the author share? How does it compare with your page - are you giving your potential audience the best chance of discovering more about you and your passion: Your writing.
John Locke is famously the most successful indie author. Now he's published a book about it. And guess what? That's a best seller too! But he shares nicely. Search Amazon and Smashwords for ebooks on marketing your book. Read the reviews before you purchase, although some are free and there are many blogs such as this giving advice based on experience so Google now! JOIN TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
You'll notice straight away the heavy heavy use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook et al. If you're under forty, you're gonna know more about this than I do. I yearn for a book trailer on YouTube but it seems beyond me, so I'm not even gonna try to pretend. One observation, Twitter seems more informal. Your Facebook page, at least the one promoting your work, should be professional. By this I mean don' t use it to relate your night out on the town with the girls. On Twitter, you'll find a lot of indie authors tweeting their blogs. Which brings me onto my next point. GET A WEBSITE AND BLOG
I know. This comes under social media. But it is so important it deserves it's own heading. If you have a moment, take a wander around this site. Can you tell what it's about yet? I'm hoping to tempt readers into trying a sample of my book. Because like your book, its entertaining, great storyline etc etc etc. But until potential readers sample, they'll never know what they're missing. And that would be a shame for both reader and author. I want to make it easy for people to preview my book. I've read countless blogs on websites much sleeker than this. I've enjoyed the style of writing. Interest caught, I've wanted to download a sample. But searched in vain for a link to sample or buy. Twice in desperation I emailed the website owner, pointing out there was no direct link to where their ebook could be purchased. Both times apologetic responses came back with links, however I noticed on revisiting the sites this communication failure hadn't been fixed. INVITING FRIENDS BACK TO YOUR PLACE
Use Twitter to make new tweetmates who share your interests and preferences. Invite them back to your place to read your blog; its the best feeling in the world when your blog readers take the time to comment. I always make certain I respond to each and every person who has cared enough to add their thoughts. Because Twitter only allows 140 characters many tweeters use links inviting further reading. If you find these links interesting say so. If you have a comment to add to a blog do so. Most now have built in aps enabling you to leave your own website address. It's like a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to the place you want your readers. Staring at your book synopsis, with their finger hovering over the 'sample' or better still 'buy now' link.TO SUMMARISE:
Study your peer group to discover what works for them. Build up a following on social media sites. Get a website and blog. Fill it with good content and ensure that links to sample or purchase your ebooks are never more than a click away.SEEM LIKE HARD WORK?
This is just the beginning! I might be new at this, but this much I've learned - The hard work just started. As you begin to move within your social circles, you'll build relationships, and I've made some rock solid friends. Keeping up any friendship entails effort. But it'll be worth it. When you begin to receive unsolicited feedback from your readers saying how much they've enjoyed your book it is the best feeling in the world. FEEDBACK FROM YOU!
As I've pointed out many times, I'm new here too! If you want to pick me up on anything or better yet, if you've got your own redhot never fail method of increasing awareness of your book's presence, please get in touch and leave a comment. I'd love to hear your recommendations, or just hear from you. Julia Hughes, author of A Ripple in time.
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A fact of life: Calories in more than calories out = weight gain. Calories out more than calories in = weight loss. So there's two ways of losing weight right? Eat less or exercise more. Or both. There is a third way:
Eat smart: For example what's better for losing weight? Fried or scrambled eggs? Surprisingly fried eggs have less calories - so you can go to work on an egg with a clear conscience. That's just one example. Know your food and avoid the bad fats. But the easiest way to eat smart?
It isn't a huge secret. It's simple. There's no complicated calorie counting, no expensive faddy foods to buy. You've already got the equipment you need to start right now.
Use a knife and fork for every meal. Think about it a moment or two. The benefits here are manifold. Your food is already chewable, and while you're busy using cutlery for the next morsel, you're masticating that mouthful so it's even more easily digestable. You will eat slower. There will be time for your stomach to send a newsflash to your brain: 'STOP! I'm full.' You won't be able to eat fast food. Think about the last time you saw anyone using a knife and fork in McDonalds.
Try it for a week. It won't cost you a penny. It will make a vast difference in your eating habits. Eat from a plate using a knife and fork for every meal. (Fresh fruit excepted).
What about exercise? Exercise doesn't have to be complicated, boring or expensive. You don't even have to be particularly good at a sport to enjoy it. And don't bother going for the burn. Think about how a car works. OK - still using that mental image - What's the best way to conserve fuel? Drive at a steady pace. The easiest way to waste fuel is to speed up then slow down repeatedly. That's what you're going to be aiming for. Uneven calorie consumption. You're using your brain again.
Exercise smart: By using extra excertion, your brain sends the message - more fuel needed now! But if you continue pushing to the max, your body soon adjusts and rations out the calories again. So sprint, jog. Sprint, jog. Let your brain keep sending false messages as to the amount of calories needed. Now for the best excercise of all (without a partner!)
Dance! I've got dogs to walk in the morning. As soon as I'm back home, before breakfast I play Nina Simone's 'Ain't got no - I got Life.' By the end of this track I'm throwing myself around the kitchen. It is fun! Ok Go ahead and laugh if you want. But know this. I eat all the chocolate I want. Most of my day's spent writing hunched over a keyboard. I'm over 40. And I weigh just over seven and a half stone. So I'll ask again. Try it for a week. Humour me. After all what have you got to lose?
AFORE YE GO: Are you in our great giveaway? Click on the comments link below for free entry.
Throughout England, the first of May is celebrated by ancient rituals. None more iconic than the Cornish fishing town of Padstow. Two giant hobby horses known as "red 'oss" and "blue 'oss" are brought to life and frolic through streets and fields. All day and far into the night followers dance and sing around their respective ‘oss, dressed in white with scarves of red or blue as drums beat and accordions skirl. Maidens should beware capture beneath the ‘osses skirt. Unless they yearn for a child.
Merely to watch this ancient welcoming in of Summer is to partake of something as mystical as the changing of the seasons. Legends behind this tradition refer to the battles between Viking invaders and Celtic defenders long long ago. Others insist it is a pagan festival, dedicated to the sun god Bel. But this is a different story, and only happened a lifetime ago. Our little family travelled home to Penzance tired and happy after the Padstonian ceremonies to the loft apartment above our bakery .Though exhausted with merrymaking, I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake slowly becoming aware of a figure standing over my toddler’s bed.
Groggy with tiredness I watched this naked man with curly blond hair watching my sleeping child. Finally I asked:
‘What do you think you’re doing?’
For long moments, he didn’t answer. He continued to survey my firstborn. Then he said.
‘I’m looking after him.’
Bewilderment turned to annoyance.
‘I look after him. That’s my job.’ I was curt. Finally the man turned his head and smiled. A gentle smile touched with pity.
‘Yes. I know. And you do it very well.’ He started walking towards me, but before he reached my bed, vanished. With an unexplained and unexpected feeling of relief, I finally fell asleep.
Next morning I loaded up freshly baked goods ready for my delivery rounds. The bakery van was being serviced, so I’d borrowed a friend’s estate. My favourite part of the day, just me and the kid. We’d share a piping hot jam filled doughnut and sing along to the radio as we negotiated country lanes delivering bread to remote villages. Today I planned to let him sleep, as the car didn’t have a child seat fitted. I actually started the engine, when my midnight visitor flashed into my mind. And for some reason, I climbed back up the stairs, woke my son and dressed him, even though it meant propping him up on a makeshift booster seat.
Returning home, the first indication that something was wrong was a policeman guarding the lane leading to our bakery. Frantically, I insisted on driving through. On learning my identity, he allowed me to pass, radioing his colleagues to advise of my approach. The fire had taken hold in minutes. My bakery, my home was an empty shell. Industrial oils and fats exploded like fireworks. Firemen lined up against a neighbour's wall; they dropped their heads as I walked past. From their blackened faces and slumped exhausted bodies it was obvious they’d given everything before admitting defeat. I wanted to thank them, but my voice wouldn’t work. I could only nod as I passed each one. They nodded back wordlessly. The bakery was gutted. My husband escaped unharmed. Upstairs stunk of acrid smoke, but appeared unscathed. And because I was seven months pregnant with my second child, I wanted a family heirloom. My home, our livelihood was gone. But I wanted the christening shawl. I opened the wardrobe, and reached in. The shawl was crocheted in finest wool. As I picked it up, it crumbled into ash.
Mostly it isn’t fire that kills. Bodies may burn, but long before that, the smoke has done its damage; creeping silently into sleepers’ lungs, asphyxiating more efficiently than any drowning. Had it not been for my visitor, my son would have been left sleeping in his bed. While I delivered bread and fire and smoke destroyed our home. Would my husband have managed to sprint through the bakery, out the door and up the external steep stone steps to our baby? Probably. Maybe. But for tiny lungs, the shortest exposure to a smoke filled room can be fatal.
Much later, when I told my family about the naked man, my husband laughed.
‘Trust you to argue with an angel.’ He said.
My grandmother went very still and pale.
‘It was Bill.’ She said. Bill: Her husband, my beloved grandfather. I’d only known him as an old man, with grizzled hair.
‘When he was young, his hair was a mass of blond curls.’ And nothing would shake her from the belief that her dead husband somehow managed to alert his granddaughter that something catalystic was about to happen.
I know what I saw. Maybe after the Mayday festivities my spirits still ran high – although I hadn’t been drinking. Maybe it was the fancy of a pregnant woman. I saw a man, pink and gold in the doorway of my son’s bedroom. When I challenged him he responded as though it was his right to watch over my son. I spoke to him; he answered.
Do I believe in angels? If they do exist, should they reveal the future? In my novel ‘A Ripple in Time’ a young Cornish maid aboard the Titanic dreams of an angel’s warnings. The Titanic’s fate is averted; dramatically changing world history.
Perhaps my vision couldn’t warn me directly, but its presence disturbed me enough to take extra special care of my son that fateful day. I believe in angels.