Friday, 23 November 2012

A Mention in This Week's Henley Standard, and Another Recommendation from Amazon!

Two bits of Good News today! I've had a mention in this week's Henley Standard, and been recommended as a read in the Amazon Romance Books store!
I got in the local paper because I took my books, Gipsy Moth and Postcards and Suntan Cream to sell at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition again this year. Our local photographer took my photo and passed it on to the paper, who gave me a short interview over the phone whilst I was cooking dinner! Unfortunately the photo wasn't printed, but there is quite a bit about Postcards, Gipsy Moth and self-publishing, together with a link to this blog!
The other bit of Good News is that I've been selected again as a choice in the Amazon Romance Books store - at the top of the list.
This is all good publicity and I'm really pleased.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Girl You left Behind - Another Excellent Read from Jojo Moyes

This year I've read three excellent books by Jojo Moyes. She's such a wonderful writer and totally immerses you in the time, the characters and the story.
The Girl You Left Behind is about two women. Firstly, brave Sophie who runs a bar in a village which has been occupied by Germans in northern France during the First World War, and secondly, Liv, a hundred years later, whose husband gives her a portrait of Sophie shortly before he dies.
The portrait is also known as The Girl You Left Behind, and the novel tells how the painting came  to be in German hands; the love of Sophie for her husband, the artist, who was a prisoner of war;  and how Liv fights to keep it when the family of Sophie's husband tries to get it back.
The section about France reminds me of Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris which I have read many times,  although it is set in the Second World War.
Of course, there's love interest for Liv in the form of Paul, a former New York policeman whose job it is to trace paintings and return them to their rightful owners. But who is the rightful owner? And what is Liv prepared to do to keep the painting that means so much to her?
This was a totally fabulous read that kept me hooked until the end.
Which is your favourite Jojo Moyes book?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Gipsy Moth - Free Downloads Update

I'm very proud of this chart! It's years since I've done any.
I thought that you might like to know how I got on with my Gipsy Moth Free Downloads yesterday.
To offer your book as a free download, you have to have it solely with Kindle Direct Publishing, and you can only do it for five days in any 90 days. It's easy to do from your KDP Bookshelf, remembering, of course, to allow for the time difference. KDP works on Pacific time which is 8 hours behind, but quite conveniently fits in well with an 8am start here.
When it was all set up, I blogged about it here, and tweeted about it with the hashtag, #freedownload, to attract people looking for free downloads! This worked very well and by 4pm, I had risen to 11th in both the Historical Romance and the Historical Fiction charts. I had tweeted again at lunchtime to tell those that had missed the first tweet. (I think I'm allowed, because I don't shout 'Buy my book!' all the time. And one day's indulgence shouldn't hurt.) Then, I tweeted some more asking for help to reach the Top Ten. It's really exciting seeing your book go up the charts! At the end of the day, it was 7th in Historical Fiction and 8th in Historical Romance, so I was really pleased.
Of course I know that it was all only freebies, but as I saw last time, when I did it for the whole five days over the Jubilee weekend, it does make your book more noticeable, and all I have to do now is to get people to really buy it.
Lastly, the interesting bit is that most of the downloads were in America (including India): nearly twice as many as in the UK. I was also pleased to see downloads from Germany, France, Spain and Italy. I guess Japan isn't ready for Gipsy Moth yet!
Have you tried giving free downloads? How did you get on?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Happy Birthday Gipsy Moth! Have a Free Download to Celebrate!

A year ago today, I launched the paperback version of Gipsy Moth at my local farmers' market, so I thought I'd celebrate with a virtual birthday party!
Make yourselves at home and help yourself to some mulled wine. Come and sit by the fire; it is a bit cold outside.
It's been a good year, I've sold most of the paperbacks that I had printed, and lots of the ebook version on Amazon.
If you haven't read it yet, here is your chance to download the new edition free here, just for 24 hours, from 8am November 11th 2012 to 7.59am November 12th 2012 GMT.
There are some exciting extras at the back, and the formatting and presentation has been improved.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Gluten-free Christmas Cake and Writing!

I've just made my gluten-free Christmas Cake!
I do it every year around this time.
But what has that got to do with writing?
Well, I began to leave myself a note in the recipe book each October, such as you've run out of raisins, or you'll need some currants, or even how about getting a bag of mixed fruit?
I even left a note in May 2011 when I made my daughter's wedding cake!
I like looking back and seeing what I've written.

However, at the same time I began to add a note asking myself if I'd finished Gipsy Moth by the time I made my next Christmas cake. Then, another year, whether I'd got it published. It's a bit crazy sending a message to my future self, but last year I was able to write that I had self-published it and I was launching it at the local Farmers' Market as well as on Kindle!
This year I've put that I'm self-publishing my book of short stories, Postcards and Suntan Cream, again in paperback and Kindle, and that I'm getting on with my next novel.
I wonder what I'll write for 2013?

This photo shows my favourite stage in the cake-making process when all the dried fruit, that I have reminded myself to buy, is mixed together. It smells like Christmas and the colours are magical.

I've been using the same recipe for many years. I often say that I won't bother to make a cake this year, and get one from Marks and Spencers instead, but I think I've only done it once or twice when it didn't need to be gluten-free. I like homemade ones better!

I've adapted the original recipe by using plain gluten-free flour instead of normal wheat flour. The thing about gluten-free flour is that any cake you make can tend to be rather dry. For sponge cakes, you need to add 5 tablespoons of milk to get that springy texture, but that doesn't work for a rich fruit cake which has to be firmer to hold the fruit.
So I add some extra egg, that is 3 instead of 2½, or 6 instead of 5 etc.
I also use chopped dried apricots instead of mixed fruit peel, because they add more moisture, and substitute ground almonds for flaked almonds to help prevent it drying out too much.
Lastly, when it is cooked and has cooled down, I prick the bottom and sprinkle on a tablespoon of brandy, and keep it wrapped up in greaseproof paper and foil. Repeating the dosage every few weeks!

I hope that if you try my ideas, they work for you, and you can enjoy a Gluten-free Christmas Cake too!

PS Here's what it looked like straight out of the oven. Yum!