Tag Archive: books


Hi all:

First things first: I’m delighted to tell you that this week’s guest blogger is none other than Lexi Revellian, silversmith of no small artistry, and author of ‘Remix‘ and ‘Replica‘ which are two of my best indie finds to date.  Come back over the weekend to read what she has to say about writing and ‘Replica’….cool, huh? Watch this space!

Second – if you haven’t read ‘On Dark Shores: The Lady’ and would like to, it’s being featured as part of a giveaway at Misty Baker’s blog ‘Unwritten’ so if you go and comment there, you can claim a copy of this or a  variety of other books free, gratis, and generally for the having! Don’t say I never give you anything….

Lastly: I’ve had another very pleasing review, this time from Craig at CS Fantasy Reviews so do go and have a look (and if you agree or disagree, why not leave him a comment and have the discussion?)

Here’s an excerpt from it (the most flattering bit, obv!):

“Clement’s greatest strength as a writer is her characterization. It is amazing how well she can breathe life into a character, revealing their every nuance in a minimal amount of words. The frequent point of view changes were cleverly used as well to create an even pacing throughout. The world building in this novel was also done well and believable through an almost minimalist approach.”

and he scored it 8/10, which I’m pretty pleased about; so that’s started my Thursday rather nicely. Best be getting on with my editing then…. Hope you lot are all having a good week – and do drop by again over the weekend to see Lexi’s post!

Catch you later;

JAC

Funny reviews – link

Hi guys:

This is just a spaceholder before this week’s guest blog, but more pertinently because I don’t recall having given you this link before and it is unnecessarily funny.

Read the Mr Men books?

So has Hamilton Richards – and he has some strong opinions on the subject!

Do drop by later on to find out who will be guesting this week…

Regards:

JAC

Morning all!

Just a quick link to tell you I have an interview up, for those who’s like to see it! Check it out at  LiteralExposure.com

…but of course, after you’ve read Barbara’s excerpt!

Have a good one;

JAC

Hi all:

This week I’ve been lucky enough to be able to show you an extract of The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters

by Barbara Silkstone.

I’ve read this book myself, and was much entertained by the updating of the Alice-in-Wonderland premise into modern gangster-ridden Miami – can recommend, especially to John Cleese fans who will empathise with Alice’s quest for her very own personal Cleese-alike….

Secret Diary is available from Amazon for the princely sum of 69 of your English pence – and if you enjoy it, don’t forget to leave a review – helps other readers know you liked it, and tells Barbara what you thought worked!

Have a good weekend, all, and watch this space for hints on who will be guesting here next week…

JAC

= = = = = =

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three quarters

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters


            ~ Thursday May 13

 

Alice had never been in a court of justice before, but she had read about them in books,  and she was quite pleased to find that she knew the name of nearly everything there. That’s the judge,” she said to herself…

 

 

7:00 a.m.  “The condemned ate a big breakfast,” I told myself while I prepared a mushroom omelet. It tasted of England and made me think of Nigel and the fun times. A tear found its way into my left eye.

I washed down the last of the egg with strong coffee. “Here I come, Leslie.” I was wearing my black suit with pencil straight skirt, the collar of my gold satin blouse just showing at the neckline. My hair was pulled back in a serious black barrette and I kept my makeup to a minimum. I looked very lawyerly. I kissed a sleeping Lily and whispered “later” to Dana. I left to face Leslie and his goons knowing what had happened to Sunglasses could be my fate as well.

8:30 a.m.  A power surge went through me when I entered the courtroom. Maybe it was the Xanax kicking in or was it the mushrooms in the omelet? I looked over my right shoulder at Leslie’s lawyers; they were edgy waiting for their boss to arrive.

The courtroom was larger than I expected. It was all polished wood and money-green carpet – a theater of theatrics. My table was on the left side of the room. Leslie’s gang had the table on the right.

Ron looked hunky as he carried my set of exhibit books and laid them down on our table. There were four evidence books from opposing counsel. Each book weighed at least fifteen pounds and was full of stuff and nonsense designed to overwhelm me with useless paper work. I was thankful for his moral support and grateful for his physical strength. I could never have carried the books from my car into the courtroom in one trip.

I smiled at Ron using the eye contact for an excuse to sneak another look at Leslie’s team. Opposing counsel’s table was every bit as large as ours and crowded with disheveled lawyers. Yuck. Surely Leslie could have done better. His lead gun, Dallas Little, was the only one of the pack who dressed with any style.

George Glick was hired by Leslie to represent Algy Green. Glick weighed in at over three hundred pounds. His coat failed to button by at least a foot, and it was too short to cover his rump. Whenever he bent over, which was frequently, his trousers wedged into his butt cheeks.

“Glick is clueless. They call him Bubba,” Ron whispered to me.

Bubba? Marisol-of-the-gold-teeth dated a married lawyer called Bubba.

8:55 a.m.  Leslie arrived, wearing a suit that must have cost ten-thousand dollars. He still looked awful. The jacket hung on his bony frame. Crime or Metamucil, something was draining him. He walked over to me. “I hear you’re without a lawyer,” he smirked.

I forced a confident smile. “I know what you did.”

Leslie blanched and turned away.

“What are they writing?” said Alice.

“Why they’re putting down their own names,

in case they forget them before the trial is over.”

 

 

9:00 a.m.  A bell rang and Leslie moved to his seat. The bailiff called the Court to order and the judge entered. We all stood.

The judge was female, about fifty-five, with a stubby body. She wore a long white wig like the judge in Alice in Wonderland. Bum luck pulling a lady-judge. I’ve learned that women are usually less compassionate with other women. She wasn’t going to be sympathetic to my flights of fancy. The worst part was she was probably in Leslie’s pocket.

As I slipped into position at our table my straight skirt rose up my legs. I tugged at the hem catching my bracelet on my pantyhose at mid-thigh. I struggled to free the gold links from the tougher than steel fibers of my run-resistant hose. My every movement succeeded in tangling me with myself. My right wrist felt permanently attached to my right thigh eight inches short of being obscene.

As the true horror of my situation sank into my brain, I watched the lawyers take turns going up to the podium to announce their names and whom they represented. Dallas Little was attorney for Leslie Archer. Glick waddled up to the stand, “George Blackstone Glick for the plaintiff, Algernon Green” he said in a big, booming voice.

“And for the Defense?” the judge asked.

I was sweating. I couldn’t stay in my seat. You had to walk up and announce yourself. I edged out of the chair bent over, hobbling, wrist on thigh, and skirt way up where it shouldn’t have been. I tried to act as professional as I could under the circumstances. I flashed the judge a self-deprecating smile.

“Alice Harte. I am here today in my own defense, Your Honor. I am pro se.” I couldn’t reach the microphone on the podium, so I spoke as loudly as I could considering my face was on my stomach.

The courtroom was silent; you could have heard a lawyer drop.

The judge looked flabbergasted. “Are you mocking me?” she snapped.

“Your Honor I have a problem. May I go behind the bench?”

“The correct terminology is ‘May I approach the bench?’”

I hunched forward, pigeon stepping toward her. There were twitters of laughter in the courtroom. The judge banged her gavel. “Silence.  Ms. Harte if you are attempting to make a mockery of this court, I will not take it lightly. Now straighten up.”

The judge’s bench was a good three feet taller than my head. I waddled as close as I could and mouthed the words ‘Panty hose are stuck.’ She didn’t get it.

I figured if I could get behind the judicial platform I could take off my panty hose and roll them up with the bracelet and be done with it. The bailiff was one step behind me as I slipped around the bench and under the judge’s chair. I guessed he’d never seen anyone act that way in court before because he stood there dumbstruck and then broke into gales of laughter. The spectators joined him. The noise was so loud the judge’s gavel-banging couldn’t be heard. It was twenty minutes before they all got quiet and I felt secure enough to walk out from under the judge’s chair. I did so with all the dignity I could muster. I pretended I was Joan of Arc going to the stake.

“We will recess while the court regains its composure. Ms. Harte, I trust this is not a sign of things to come. I will not tolerate tomfoolery.”

I sat down next to Ron. “Ricky…”

“Welcome back, Lucy.”

The judge trounced back into her chambers with Dallas Little at her heels.

I turned to face a courtroom of laughing faces. The joke was on me. So far things were not going as smoothly as I had hoped.

10:00 a.m.  Thirty minutes later the judge popped back in the courtroom with no further mention of my pantyhose debacle.

The roll call of witnesses was announced. My witness list was small. Ron would be my character witness. Salli would testify to Leslie’s style of doing business. My heart froze when I heard Nigel’s name pronounced. I held no hope for his appearance. The last name on the list was my own. I would have a chance to speak my mind and clear my name.

Glick placed a revised copy of their witness list in front of me.

“Elizabeth Channing? What does she have to do with this?” Her name was two lines down from the top of the page.

“Object,” Ron whispered.

“She could actually work in my favor. ‘The Mad Woman of the Mail Slot’ might ruin their case.”

Algy Green’s name was called out. I scanned the room to see if he was there. I was looking for super-glued ears and talcum powdered hair.

Glick jumped up. “Your Honor, Mr. Green is obviously the witness coming from the furthest distance since he is coming from London. If I may ask, Your Honor, if it is possible to work around his limited schedule?”

“Within reason, Mr. Glick, can you give me a time frame to work with?”

“Yes, Your Honor, he will be here at two this afternoon. He has to fly back to England on a four o’clock flight, Your Honor.”

“He’ll be on the stand for less than an hour? That’s perfect. Ms. Harte, do you have any objection to allowing Mr. Green’s testimony this afternoon?”

I composed myself and walked to the podium. “Your Honor, I do object. I haven’t been allowed to depose Mr. Green. I have no idea what his testimony will be. That’s not fair.”

“It’s much too late for fairness, Ms. Harte.” The judge smiled. “Discovery is over.”

“But I never had a chance. Dallas Little and Mr. Glick ignored my requests. I’ve filed a Motion to Dismiss because they – opposing counsel – won’t cooperate with me.”

“I haven’t seen your Motion to Dismiss.”

“Well, I filed it with the court, Your Honor,” I extended my arms palms up in the air and shrugged.

“Well, I can’t find it… dear,” the judge said sarcastically then turned to Bubba. “Mr. Glick, are you confident you can complete your questioning in that time?”

“I see no problem, Your Honor.”

“And what about Elizabeth Channing?  At what time do you expect her?”

“I believe she will be arriving at the same time, Your Honor, but she is more flexible. She’ll be available all week.”

“Oh, great,” I whispered to Ron. “The stalking starts again.”

The judge smiled malevolently, overruled my objection and called for the first witness.

Little stood and cleared his throat. “We call Leslie Archer.”

Leslie walked to the witness stand looking like a salamander, his large pale eyes rotating in his skull. He was sworn in and we were underway.

“Explain your business with Alice Harte,” Little prompted.

“Alice Harte entered into a contract with Archer Resorts to sell golf course villas. She tried to walk away from our agreement.”

“And she is guilty of?”

“Alice Harte conspired with Nigel Channing, her boyfriend, to commit a fraud. She passed herself off as the owner of my property, Lizard Links, and sold it to Algernon Green. She kept the deposit money in the amount of five hundred thousand dollars.”

Dallas Little grasped his throat theatrically. “Five hundred thousand dollars.”

Leslie glared at me. “When this trial is over, I’m going to seek criminal charges against Ms. Harte.”

“Your witness, Ms. Harte,” Dallas Little said.

I rose and walked to the witness stand. Leslie tried to break me with his eyes. I stared back at him for all I was worth. I was a flower in the center of a hurricane. I felt strangely calm as if I’d taken one too many Xanax. I just didn’t give a fig anymore.

The times they are a-changin’……

I was chatting to a friend the other day – my sister went to college with her so she’s about my sister’s age (which is to say about a decade older than I). We got to talking about books and writing, and she told me that she too is in the throes of polishing her own story, which is more fiction than fantasy. She is submitting it to all sorts of publishers and agents and was getting the most encouraging letters gushing about her story in terms that made it clear that they hadn’t even read the damn thing – and of course when she looked into it further, it became clear that the publishers in question were vanity publishers. I asked her if she had considered self-pub, and the following conversation was something of an eye-opener to me.

 

Since the iPad came out a year back, I’ve been really interested to watch the growth of awareness of ebooks in the UK, but I am always aware that it is difficult to tell when it’s only your own growing knowledge and what is general knowledge; but as far as I can tell, very roughly it’s been along these lines – in London, at least!

 

Spring 2010: ebooks? Whohellhe?

 

Summer 2010: Apparently you can read books electronically on the iPad, you know. Like pdfs or something.

 

Autumn 2010: Have you seen all the ads around the Tube and on the telly for the Kindle?

 

Winter 2010; I’m getting an iPad / Kindle for Christmas. Can’t wait!

 

And by January 2011 (ie now) Waterstones are putting out their own ebook-specific newsletter, a lot of people are discussing agency pricing and ebooks are taking off slowly but surely. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before you start getting a regular ebook review in one or other of the big papers if there isn’t one already, as the Times (to name only one) did a review of the top ten bestsellers of 2010.

 

So in London at least, ebooks are getting more accepted. You see people reading Kindles on the train, the Tube, the bus all the time where this time last year it was something of a novelty. There are adverts on the telly for Kindle, and most of the big publishers are bringing out books simultaneously on both media. Fairly main-stream, I thought; then I went back ooop North at Christmas and of course they haven’t had the saturation you’ve seen in the South. As always, London leads the wave because London has the information and the disposable income; no-one bothers to plaster the North with Kindle posters with the result that they might see the odd advert on the telly but there seems to be no real recognition of the sort of step-change that is going on.

 

My lot are fairly bookish and they were all giving paper copies at Christmas. I got a Kindle for Christmas and none of them had seen one before or knew anyone else who was getting one for Christmas. Apple managed to cover the whole country but Kindle, bizarrely, appear to have missed a significant chunk out. Oh, they’ll get there in a few months – summer will see them as Kindled up as the rest of us – at least the more techtastic ones with the spare income to actually buy it in the first place – but it was an interesting check to my views.

 

These were further drawn back when I talked with my sister’s friend. Only ten years older than me and living more centrally than North, still she was not particularly  knowledgeable about ebooks or epublishing; in fact it took me ten minutes to explain the difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing. POD was something she hadn’t heard of and ebooks seemed intangible and basically a step  up from a blog, I suspect; she was interested to hear what I had to say but knew that she wanted to be traditionally published by a “proper” publisher.

 

I told her about my own research into it; how my partner used to work in the bookselling industry and where there used to be hundreds of new books published every year, now there was hardly a tenth of that number, and a lot of those seem to be by reality stars or popsters or other people who have had their fifteen minutes’ fame and want to cash in on it while their name is still recognised. In my view, in hard economic times, the chances of being picked up by a publisher are small and by all accounts the chances of being given the time to build up a following are minimal. A literary friend talked of her colleague who had been picked up by a publisher and had books on the shelves of every bookshop in town for maybe six weeks; after which the publisher decided it wasn’t selling fast enough and pulped the lot, leaving the author stuck in a contract with no books to sell. Another author tells of an editor agreeing to publish the book if she changed the ending to an anodyne happily ever after which would have totally changed the character of the book, destroying the whole point of it.

 

Now, I don’t think my story is by any means flawless – that why it’s in the process of going through an editor and a proof-reader before being released to my beta-readers – but I would be seriously cross if they carved it up in a manner that meant they missed the point. So far all my edits have been great, carving off the excess or superfluous bits and tautening up the action. But that said, neither do I expect to be an overnight success – in six weeks if I’ve sold twenty-five copies I’ll be chuffed, not least because I don’t have much in the way of time to spend publicising it. I wish I did but alas the day-job has to pay the rent so the day-job wins on that front, especially in a time of cuts and down-sizing.

 

So for me, all the downsides of trad publishing overmounted the plusses – and when I knew that self-publishing seemed to be such a viable option, I went for that instead. I’ve never submitted my stuff to an agent, so it’s not a case of having been turned down by everyone else; I just did the research and thought that I could envisage my little story pottering along in Kindle-form and selling the odd one here and there; hopefully eventually selling enough to pay for itself and for the paperback form that will follow afterwards. I don’t have much time full stop so devoting time to the writing and the editing and the input and the formatting is proving difficult, never mind the publicity; but I have always known that if ever I am to make my mark on this world (and that’s not a given by any means) – that IF I ever do, it will be via my writing. This seems the simplest and most logical way to start undertaking just that.

 

I also think that the advent of ebooks is a complete game-changer and I want to be in on it. All my instincts are telling me that if I can just get a foot in the door at the right moment, it may be that I can go part-time with the day-job, or even go onto writing full-time and really put a bit or work into my writing. I think ebooks are going to go as far as mp3s have, and I think if you can make a name as someone whose books have been edited, proofed, properly formatted with a full active Table of Contents, and all the other technical quirks required by Kindle, Apple and the rest; if you can do that NOW while the market is in its early days, then the possibilities are very good. So that’s what I aim to do; to make my books as professional as anything you might find in a bookshop or from a trad publisher. (Of course, all I have to do now is magically find an extra couple of hours in every day, but that’s by the by!)

 

A year from now, my sister’s friend and I will be coming back to take stock of progress. You can’t really draw direct comparisons, of course, but it will be really interesting to see how each of us fares. It may be that she is agented up, with a contract and the first hardcopies rolling off the press and hitting the shelves at bookshops across the country, while I am still lurking on Twitter saying “Anyone want to buy a book?!”; or it may be that my ebooks are flying off virtual shelves to the extent that my hardcopies will be merrily rolling off the POD printers, who knows?

 

At all events, I think it’s going to be fun – hard work, granted, but hopefully fun too – finding out.

JAC

 

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