Tag Archives: ReadWave

A Perfect Summer Breakfast

What a way to start a perfect summer day! A foamy cappuccino, a crisp croissant (or cornetto if you are in Italy), fresh fruit and a good book:

 

 Am I plugging my latest book? Yes, shamelessly, ha ha! I just got it in the mail, brand new, fresh from Create Space’s printing presses (you can see it here on Amazon – for some mysterious reason, the blue in reality is several shades darker than on the website, looks much better in reality. I confess that I love a printed book. It looks more real than the digital version, it’s got pages you can turn, a shiny cover you can slide your fingers on, and you can write in the margin. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t feel I’ve published a book until I hold it in my hands…

And I’m not afraid to say it’s a damn good book…Though I must also confess that I find it hard to self-promote, it goes against the grain. I’ve been brought up by old-fashioned parents who felt children should be seen and not heard.

…Well, not quite like that (though it pretty much sums up the influence of my mother and father, Mom was always the one who showed affection and Dad the one who discussed ideas). And it’s hard to shake off a lifetime of acting reserved and demure.

So what is this book Forever Young about? A near-future thriller (yes, scary!), it is set 200 years from now. Last week it got a Nevil Award for climate fiction and has already garnered 5-star reviews on Amazon. Actually, last year, when I published the opening, it got a lot of attention on Goodreads (23 ratings) – and more recently on Wattpad (400 reads) and Readwave (1685 reads, 13 likes, my most successful short, a 3 minute read, see here).

Here are some excerpts, and I treasure them, there is nothing that makes a writer happier than a good review that shows the reader enjoyed the book:

  • “Futuristic and yet spot on” (Beate Boeker, here) 
  • “A highly plausible future. Scarily plausible” (Bob Rector, here)
  • “A prophetic view of our future” (Lit Amri) 
  •  “a roller coaster ride” (Marsha Roberts, here
  • “A growing tension among the main characters as the fatal end approaches” (C.E. Rodriguez)
  • A fascinating concept, Nougat provides beautifully-written science fiction, with enough reality to scare the hell out of us” (Vikki Patis, see article here)

So why not make your summer perfect and get Forever Young?

Right now, if you live in the UK, the digital version is under promotion (at a 70% discount) – until 22 July, so hurry! If you don’t live in the UK, don’t despair, the digital price is low and the printed book can be had with a free digital version. I made sure to make the digital version free; in my opinion, this is something  that should be standard: if you buy the printed book, you should always get a free digital version, it makes sense.

Now, as to why Amazon doesn’t run “countdown deals” in markets other than the US and UK, I have no idea. Not fair. I can only presume that in the near future, they will do so.

Wondering about where I took the image with my book and cappuccino? On this terrace:

That’s our house in Umbria, an old stone farm near Lake Trasimeno, one of the main settings of my previous book, Crimson Clouds. Yes, under that umbrella, a perfect place to read a book!
Cheers and have a happy summer!

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The 6-Word Novel: For Sale, Wedding Ring, Never Worn!

For Sale: Wedding Ring, Never Worn

Ok, I plead guilty: the original 6-word short story, a.k.a. the six word novel, an extreme form of flash fiction,  is Hemingway’s and it’s not about a failed relationship but a dead baby or perhaps an unborn child, precisely this: 

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.
 
He dreamt it up in the 1920s in response to a bet with friends. He won the bet and he considered it his best story ever.
 
The 6-word flash fiction has fascinated people so much over time that today there’s a website entirely dedicated to it, with hundreds of examples, see here.
 
And now ReadWave, the cool website that draws together readers and writers with short stories (including non-fiction), has come up with a competition inspired by Hemingway’s 6 word story:
Readwave will award $100 to the 6-word story that gets the most “likes” on their site, there are still 12 days to go, but hurry! To submit your story click here.
I submitted a horror story (it was an idea my husband had, surprisingly so, he’s usually not that morbid!) and this is how it looks on the Readwave website:
 …hum. If you like it, please go over to the website here, and click the “like” button, thanks!
BIG NEWS (in case you missed it)! All 4 parts of FOREVER YOUNG are now OUT, Part 4, The Longevity Gene is here 

You can start reading Part One for free on Wattpad where I release a new chapter every day – 6 chapters published so far, click here to start reading. And if you like it, please “vote” (that’s how “likes” are expressed on Wattpad) Many thanks!

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Filed under flash fiction, genre fiction, Literature

A Writer’s Quandary: To Blog in a Niche or Not to Blog?

Like every writer who starts out, I was told I should have an Internet presence, an easily recognizable brand. That’s why I started this blog back in 2009 as a way to brand myself. I also got on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and scores of other sites.

On day one, I had one reader visit my blog: my husband. On day two, my kids joined in, I had three readers. Today, 419 posts later, I am nearing the 400 mark of daily visits and 10,000 visits per month. Lately I started a mirror blog on WordPress with the same posts because I have followers over there who hadn’t realized that my main blog is here. For some obscure reason, the Word Press and Blogger universes are separate.
If I look at my Google stats, I’m read everywhere, from Canada to China, though most of my traffic comes from the States. My bounce rate is very low, time spent on the site is fairly high (5 to 6 minutes) and some 20 percent of my visitors return. Inexplicably, traffic fluctuates wildly, the Alexa ranking can go as high as 2000k and as low 200 k. Still, not too bad, considering a total of more than 150 million blogs worldwide. That mind-boggling number comes from WP magazine, see here, with an estimated 170,000 new blogs added everyday! 

A tsunami of blogs. Such numbers make one wonder whether there aren’t too many blogs around…

So was it worth the effort? Because, don’t kid yourself, to maintain a blog is a BIG effort. Some people have real short posts and can do it everyday.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me. I always have tons of things to say about everything and then, there’s a bigger problem: like a lot of writers, I don’t fit into a mold. Yet, to succeed, you need to do niche blogging. And Google’s newly launched “semantic search” system (I posted about it, see here) works best if you blog in a niche and turn yourself into an “expert” with a resulting “author page” that stands out.

If you don’t blog in a niche, the danger is that Google bypasses you, your blog doesn’t turn up in searches and you get forgotten in your corner.

That worries me.

It means that if you want to stand out, Google forces you to stay in your niche. Thinking “out of the box” is not allowed! That’s tough for writers (like me) who are broadly interested in the human condition. Posting about all sorts of different subjects weakens your status as an expert: for Google, you can’t be an expert in a vast array of things.  

Because Google’s algorithms confuse expertise with critical thinking. The two are not the same. You can be an expert in your domain and a very poor critical thinker. The ability for critical thinking depends more on how you appraise a situation than on how much you know about it.

Go tell Google computers!

Looking at my blog as a whole, the experience has been positive: my readership has grown steadily overtime and lately I’m getting more and more comments. That’s a real satisfaction and I’m thankful to those of you who have taken the time to comment. But I worry. Have I done something wrong? Like any writer, I aspire to get my fiction read by the greatest number. Does that mean I should do like my fellow writers, discuss books and writing problems etc?

The trouble is I don’t often feel like “talking shop”. My interests are varied and to talk shop, there are plenty of wonderful writers’ and readers’ communities like Goodreads, Shelfari, TheNextBigWriter, ReadWave, Authonomy etc and I’ve joined them all, at one point or another.

It all boils down to one question: who should the blog be for? I believe it’s a two-way street. A blogger needs an audience. You always write for somebody, to either convince or entertain that person or both. You need to ask yourself what kind of audience inspires you and stimulates you – and write for that audience. Because if you’re not stimulated, you can’t write. At least, that’s the way it is for me. If my blog is not exclusively aimed at other writers  that’s because I just can’t limit myself to other writers. When I blog, I have in mind  all sorts of people and their problems and not just writers and writing. Sure, writers interest me too. The upheavals caused by the digital revolution make publishing a particularly fascinating subject and I want to know as much as I can about it and share that knowledge. But for me, the world doesn’t end there.

Am I wrong? I guess only time will tell…when my blog hits the 10,000 visits a day mark!

I have a question for you and I’d be grateful if you could drop a word in the comments below. Am I right to go out in all directions or should I focus on a niche and write only about books, the publishing industry, writing techniques? Do you enjoy reading my posts that are never twice about the same subject or would you prefer to visit my blog knowing exactly what you are going to find? As a writer, are you also tempted to blog beyond any given “niche”? After all, writers are observers of the “human condition”, and that means their interests cannot be contained in a “niche”…

Photo credit: Visit Carol Manser’s post “How to Choose a Good Niche Blog Topic”, on My Second Million blog, click here.

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