Monthly Archives: November 2014

…serious Authors… if yeez want to be taken seriously, then do yer research seriously…

…contrary p’raps to the image this ol’ Jurassic would like to project about himself, I don’t always get ev’rything 100% right… and not just the ‘I was wrong once, when I thought I was wrong’ kinda 100% right… and if getting yer knees kicked is evidence of mistakes, errors, faux pas, and sheer f*ck-ups, then my historical bruises would make a posse of hospital E.R. teams wince… notwithstanding that, Mabel (doncha LUV that WURD?… ’notwithstanding’), it is imperative to check yer facts, do yer homework… NUTHIN spoils a reader’s enjoyment of a good book quicker than when a wee factoid appears out of left field and is blatantly incorrect… in the days before the internet, quill-scrapers had access to dictionaries, atlases, reference libraries, and where relevant, back numbers of newspapers… fast-forward to the present day… much as I sum’times rail against the over-reliance on gadgetry (for example, checkout people, 10 minus 5 will always be 5, regardless of what yer wrongly-pressed screens tell yeez), the Web is a goldmine of information… as the Oldest-Confessed-Computer-Dimwit-On-Earth, even I have trained myself on how to ‘search’ for the gems I need… any other approach constitutes laziness in a scribbler… facts… fr’example, in my first wee Jack Calder masterpiece, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, I had my characters for a while journeying in a pursuit through the Atacama Desert in Chile, before traversing the mountains and down into Bolivia… a Chilean reader emailed me, and congratulated my graphic and entirely accurate descriptions of the locale, the atmosphere, and landmarks, and enquired when was the last occasion I’d been in his beloved country… truth is, I’ve never (yet) been to South America… it all came from Aunty Google… in the second novel, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK, the cover page features a Gurkha Kukri dagger… again, readers’ kudos centred on its authenticity… once more Aunty Google had come up trumps… one I did miss, and later re-edited in subsequent writing, was a reference to the explosive, Semtex, as a ‘grey-coloured’ putty-looking substance… my good pal Eric J. Gates (he of the ‘CULL’ series of great books) pointed out that it is in fact ‘reddish-orange’… and do yeez know sum’thing`?… it feels ‘right’ to be ‘right’… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!… yeez can check for errors  here if yeez want (howzat for book plugging!):





The Violin Man’s Legacy:

Vengeance Wears Black :



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

The Sunday Show – Tess (Teresa) Karlinski – What Does The World Need Now?

…LUV this piece, Sally and Tess… gonna re-blog… we may all live in different jurisdictions around the planet, but isn’t it great that we can have in common so many things that impact our lives and living experiences?… definitely must follow Tess’ blog now., also…thanks for the sharing, m’Ladies…

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to What does the world need now? My guest this week is a mother and grandmother who has experienced single parenting, hosted foreign students while they studied English and has shared her travels to China in a fascinating series that has taken us all along for the ride.

Tess (Teresa) Karlinski is a wonderful support to other bloggers and although we have never met I feel that one could enjoy discussions on many topics and also find an attentive and helpful ear for one’s problems.

Apart from a love of writing that we share, it is also great to meet a fellow music lover and I was delighted to find out in my research that Tess intends to keep dancing and singing as long as she has breath.

Apart from the absorbing posts about her trip to China, Tess also is an aficionado of ‘Flash Fiction’ and on Tuesdays…

View original post 1,995 more words


Filed under Uncategorized

…Authoress Vanessa Couchman shares the genesis of her historical novel, THE HOUSE AT ZARONZA…

…yeez may often wonder as do I, from whence (posh WURD, that, Mabel, ‘whence’…it means ‘from where’) Authors derive their ideas and plots … sum’times it’s a wee incident that sticks in yer mind… other times the glimpse of a place and a feeling yeez get while ye’re there… or p’raps a soupçon of an urban myth that triggers the creative writer’s grey cells… whatever it may be, my Guest Blogger today, the LUVLY Vanessa Couchman lets yeez into the genesis of her fine historical novel, THE HOUSE AT ZARONZA ( I just LUV the ring of that title!)

Vanessa with HAZ 30-7


A Gift for a Novelist

Thank you for inviting me to appear on your blog, Seumas.

Sometimes a gift drops into your lap when you least expect it. That’s how my historical novel, The House at Zaronza, came about.

Serendipity works in strange ways. We’ve been captivated by Corsica’s rugged beauty and visited for the fourth time in 2012. This spectacular island is basically a mountain rising almost straight out of the Mediterranean. Corsica has belonged to France for more than 200 years. But it’s still a place apart, with its own fascinating culture and turbulent history.

We almost didn’t get to the part of Corsica where we ended up. But chance decided us to turn north instead of south. The guide book offered a choice of two guest houses in a small seaside village, one of them more expensive. My husband overruled my thrifty instincts. And I’m glad he did.

On the guest house walls were framed letters. Judging by the faded state of the ink and the yellowed and spotted paper, they were pretty old. The owners said they dated back to the 1890s. They had come to light only a few years earlier when they unblocked a niche in the attic.

Walled up in the niche was a box. And in the box was a packet of a dozen or so love letters.

The local schoolmaster wrote them to the young woman whose bourgeois family lived in that house. Her parents would have opposed their relationship, so the lovers met in secret and communicated via a letter drop. Only his letters have survived; her replies are lost in the mists of time.

They were destined never to marry, since the young woman had to marry someone else for family reasons. Little is known of the rest of her life.

Who walled up the letters? Presumably the young woman. But why did she want to hide them? What was she so afraid of? What happened to the schoolmaster? What was it like having to marry someone else?

Out of the golden thread of these questions, the letters and the little that was known of the lovers’ story, I spun my tale of Corsica.

When I returned home, my head was buzzing with the story – a gift indeed. But I had to research how life was in Corsica at that time. I also had to research World War I, specifically nursing on the French side, since my main character (whom I named Maria) becomes a nurse on the Western Front.

I entered the first part of the novel in the Flash 500 Novel Opening Competition, following which the judges, Crooked Cat Publishing, asked to see the whole manuscript. They liked it, and The House at Zaronza was published in July this year.

It’s no secret that the relationship between the star-crossed lovers, Raphaël and Maria, is doomed from the start. But what happens to them? Well, you’ll have to read The House at Zaronza to find out.

The House at Zaronza is available in paperback and e-book versions from all branches of Amazon and in e-book format from Crooked Cat Books.

Front cover final 2

About the author

Vanessa, who lives in southwest France, is passionate about French and Corsican history and culture, from which she draws inspiration for much of her fiction. The House at Zaronza, set in early 20th-century Corsica and on the Western Front during World War I, is her debut novel. She is currently working on a sequel, set during World War II.

She describes herself as a “young” author, having been writing fiction since 2010. During that time, her short stories have won, been placed and shortlisted in creative writing competitions. They have also been published in anthologies and on websites.

Vanessa runs a copywriting business. She also writes magazine articles on French life, having lived in France since 1997, and the art of writing. She is a member of online, ex-pat writing group Writers Abroad, the Parisot Writing Group in southwest France and the Historical Novel Society. She has also been a Writers Bureau tutor.

Writing site:

Twitter: @Vanessainfrance



…Seumas ici encore, mes amis… yeez’ll note my sly insertion of the mot, ‘soupçon’ above… just to show yeez I can get into the Francais mood to fit the Guest Post… je ne suis pas as dumb as je look! … see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!




Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…Authors… do yeez have yer own ‘Brand’?…


…I exchanged some views the other day with a fellow scribbler about the merits of maintaining a Blog… at the last count, there’s about a trillion, gazillion, squillion blogs swirling around in the internet ether… my discussee kinda wondered, ‘why bother doing one when there are so many already out there?’… well, I s’pose it boils down to yer own personal objectives… this ol’ Jurassic started doing one on the advice of many respected comrades-in-ink, who averred that ev’ry scribe WURTH her or his laptop-tapping salt needs to be present on the SOSYAL NETWURKS… whatever the truth or otherwise of that advice, I did begin to produce my blog, a mere two and half years ago… at the time, it made sense to me to try to broaden my ‘reader reach’, but since then, the blog has evolved into a creature with more elements than a chemistry professor’s classroom… the frequency of once weekly, stepped up to two to three per week, and now, almost daily postings… the over-riding, initial thrust to develop contact bases swiftly faded into the background… that now happens automatically, as a by-product of involvement in the other things that make doing my blog one of the central parts of my day (alongside actually writing my novels!)… first of all, amazingly for me, it gives me a discipline of producing something from a blank-page start every time… as a (hopefully) entertaining, and p’raps educational offering to like-minded Lads and Lassies out there, it gets me ‘mutually empathising’ with an entire universe of this virtual candle-lit garret-dwelling scrivener’s family of ours… but, the prime factor in all of it has become clearer and clearer as the months rolled by… the Blog has become my Author’s Brand… it lets people see glimpses of how I think… of what amuses me… of what I care about… of things that others can identify me with, and identify me by… an Author’s Brand is an instrument of recognition… an expectancy of a style, type, form, content, rythym on a regular basis… people are comfortable with any kind of Brands they like… and it brings folks into yer circle… reciprocally, yeez get invited into theirs… if I were to characterise my own Author’s Brand now, it’s more likely to be that of the ol’ Jurassic self-publisher, lately come to the wonders of the eBooks and writing gig, bumbling through the machinations of the SOSYAL NETWURKIN… and, importantly, enjoying that immensely… do yeez know yer own brand yet?… I’d be glad to hear from yeez… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!… oh, and it lets yeez plug yer books from time to time… see:












Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…dear friend, Authoress, Susan M. Toy… a giantess in promoting the rest of we quill-scrapers…

…when yeez have been bouncing around on the self-publishing carousel for a few years, yeez learn who the ‘real’ people are… the ones who ‘get’ it… we are all only as strong as our pals and supporters across the SOSYAL NETWURKS… now and again, yeez’ll discover a few who do NUTHIN for emb’dy else, and become the ultimate parasitical ‘takers’… they don’t usually stick around very long… and then yeez have the absolute stalwarts, who rejoice in giving the proverbial ’leg-up’ to their fellow scribblers… none does this more consistently than my Guest Blogger on this piece… the marvellous Susan M.Toy… I just LUV her story below… the lady is immersed in this business… she’s been there and done it… and got the T-shirt!… have a read:

From Local to Global: eBooks – promoting Authors to International Status

Fame won't change me...


When I moved from Ontario to Alberta in 1978 (3500 km), I was fresh out of university with a degree in English Literature and thought I knew a lot about books, and Canadian authors in particular. Within days of arriving in Calgary I managed to find my dream job in a bookstore and was soon doing all the ordering for the store, working with sales reps, and fulfilling customers’ special orders.

This was one of just a few independent bookstores at that time. Calgary was unfortunately nicknamed Chain City by those in the trade, because we had an inordinate number of malls and outlets owned by the two major Canadian chains, Coles and W.H. Smith. It was up to the independent stores to provide a space that didn’t only carry the (mainly US-authored) bestsellers, but also championed the prolific Canadian authors who were springing up like mushrooms, thanks in part to a nationalistic pride in everything Canadian – a result of EXPO ’67, held in Montreal during Canada’s centenary, and the added push by Jack McClelland, publisher at McClelland & Stewart, to publish only Canadian-authored books. A large number of small and medium-sized literary presses were also born during these years, giving Canadian authors new markets for their books. This was also the beginning of regional publishing in Canada and while there wasn’t much of a market for these books outside each region, specifically in the biggest market of Toronto, local bookstores and customers were supporting these books fully, because they were their own authors writing stories about where they lived – stories that had not really been told until the 70s, when interest in local writing really began to blossom.

Coming from “The East,” I had to learn about a whole new group of “Western” authors and books our bookstore needed to stock on the shelves at all times. We hosted a great many of those big-name Toronto-based authors (and I had the great fortune during those two years to meet Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, Hugh MacLennan, Morley Callaghan, Pierre Berton and oh so many more) as well as the growing list of local celebrities. W.O. Mitchell was one nationally known author who was living in Calgary then. Aritha van Herk had won the first, and very prestigious, Seal Books First Canadian Novel Award, which boasted the largest cash prize ever offered in Canada. Aritha was not only born and educated in Alberta, but was living in Calgary when she won, so she was a huge celebrity across the country, and was also a local favourite. (I am honoured to still be friends with Aritha.)

As a new bookseller, this experience showed me how important the local authors really were to our store – and to our customers. Since the chain stores really weren’t doing much in the way of stocking and selling books by local authors, it was up to us to represent and sell those books.

When I became a publishers’ sales rep in 1989, covering the territory of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan and selling to bookstores and libraries – and, yes, even to those chain stores, what I discovered was that my customers wanted to hear about locally authored books first, because – after the big national and international bestsellers – that’s what stores could sell best, and what library patrons wanted to borrow. I received my first thousand-copy order for a Prairie-based children’s picture book – an unheard of amount for any bookstore to order, let alone a small independent bookstore in rural Saskatchewan. Both the author and the illustrator lived in the bookseller’s neighbourhood. When I presented this book to the bookseller, we both believed in it so strongly (it truly was a beautiful book!) that she immediately knew she’d sell a large quantity of books with no trouble at all. She did just that then ordered even more books each time she sold out. When the publisher reprinted, because the book had taken off like … well, like a prairie wildfire!, this one bookseller was sitting pretty with plenty of stock to carry her through those otherwise lean weeks. I REALLY sold many, many more thousands of copies to other booksellers after that. (This became the bestselling book of my career!) And the book did take off – both nationally and in the US, too. So it was my first experience with a local book that also had international potential.

Fast forward now to 2008 when I returned to Alberta to sell books for publishers. The difference between previous times and 2008 was there were now fewer independent booksellers and fewer markets for all books, not to mention locally authored books. Amazon was building in strength and brand-new eBooks were just beginning to be offered by a few publishers. I had also been writing during the years I was away from Canadian publishing, and tried, unsuccessfully, to find an interested publisher, but my Caribbean-set novel with a Canadian narrator was “too Caribbean” for one Canadian publisher, and “not Caribbean enough” for a UK publisher. Another Canadian publisher turned me down, saying, “We wouldn’t know how to market this.” I wanted to tell them, “I’m a local author with many, many connections in the industry, as well as having been a sales rep. Let me do the marketing for you!” But I saw the writing on the wall and knew that, if I wanted to publish, I was going to have to do it myself. (This was also when self-publishing was beginning to take off, but still had that “stigma” about it.)



I had been developing ideas I wanted to test about ePublishing first, marketing the eBook heavily online, taking pre-orders for a print copy, and only printing when I knew there was enough demand. What ePublishing first proved to me immediately was that my market was no longer restricted to one particular geographic area, the one where I happened to be living. Readers from around the world were suddenly buying and downloading my eBook from Amazon, Kobo and iTunes, and I was receiving emails from many people I didn’t know telling me they had discovered my novel and enjoyed reading it. Hooray!

Meanwhile, print sales pretty much stalled at those copies that were pre-ordered. A few independent bookstores, friends from when I was a rep, stocked some copies, but really did little-to-nothing to help me sell those books. Nor would they get behind an idea I had to sell eBooks through their stores. They just did not see this as a new opportunity I was providing in expanding their market to customers who were using these new eReaders. The one bookstore that did sell a much larger quantity of print copies was, not surprisingly, the Bequia Book Shop. But I have had to get that stock down to the Caribbean at my own expense, and keep the store supplied with books over these past couple of years. Plus I’ve paid for all local advertising myself to drive customers into the store.





Who de author




Even though print copies are locally available on Bequia, I realize that the majority of my readers still download eBooks. (Sailors especially have really taken to using the new devices for reading, because print books take up too much space on their boats. Logical.) Now I was not only a local author on Bequia, but also had been “discovered” back home in Canada, and by readers in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and the many other places tourists arrived from when visiting Bequia.

I have long been promoting other authors and began this in earnest when I was still living in Alberta, setting up a business called Alberta Books Canada to promote local authors, many of whom were my friends. Since last year, I’ve been posting to a blog called Reading Recommendations and so far have promoted 168 authors, literally from around the world! (Seumas Gallacher, who has so graciously hosted me on his blog today, has been featured on this site.) This “community” of authors has been, for the most part, very supportive of me and the site, as well as of their colleagues who I have also promoted. Without realizing it was happening at the time, I know now that Reading Recommendations has expanded the market for all authors involved – including me. So instead of hoping that we will each find our own local market in which we can sell our books, horizons for everyone have grown to include the entire world, as readers discover our writing, read and enjoy our books, and recommend them to their own friends.

This has only happened because of ePublishing and online stores that have made our eBooks available everywhere. And also because we now market internationally, rather than merely being satisfied that our books are only available locally. We’re finally able to compete with those big-name international best-selling authors for readers’ attention, because our work is readily available at the click of a mouse.

I wish I could remember which Canadian publisher it was who told me they wouldn’t know how to market my book. I just bet they’re still using the same old methods as always to market and publicize books they’re publishing now. In the meantime, here I am, sharing my time between the Caribbean and Canada, writing the second (soon-to-be-published) novel in my series, knowing full-well that I already have an international market of readers in place, waiting to read.

eBooks have allowed me the opportunity to become an author with an international following – something that never would have happened in a million years of print publishing!

Susan M. Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through the site, Reading Recommendations. She is also an author (Island in the Clouds and That Last Summer) and publisher, under her imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts. For more information, please check out her blog, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

…just some of the links to Susan’s activities:

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

And a blog dedicated to promoting other authors and their books
Reading Recommendations 
IslandShorts an imprint of IslandCatEditions
Island in the Clouds, a Bequia Perspectives novel
Available in print and eBook editions

Where in the World Can You Purchase Island in the Clouds???

Read the first chapter free!

… thanks a bundle, m’Lady, Susan… so glad to have you board today… go follow m’Lady, Susan, Lads and Lassies of Blog Land… yeez’ll find it well worth while…

see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…stark, raving sane!… that Lady, Authoress pal, Ailsa Abraham tickles me again…

…when yeez wonder if the ‘glass is half-empty, or half-full’… m’Lady, Authoress Ailsa Abraham will prob’ly tell yeez, ‘yer glass is just too feckin’ big!’… this ol’ Jurassic has an instant affinity for those ‘Speshhull People’ who confound the universe when it contrives to pelt yeez with disaster, calamity, or just downright p*ssing bad luck, by raising the inverted Churchillian two-fingered salute to it, and grinning all the way… such is my pal, the Lady Acrobat On-And-Sometimes-Off-Up-And-Over-Yer-Motorbike… let her bring a smile to yer face by reading her offering here in today’s Guest Post piece:


pirate me

Anus Horribilus

No, that is not a mis-spelling, for me it has been an “erse” of a year.

When some bones were removed from my foot, I was only worried about recovering within the promised six weeks. I hadn’t anticipated my beloved GP, in a fit of enthusiasm, tweaking and re-breaking it. Nice one, Doc and no, “Ooops!” doesn’t cover it. Six months later I was still on crutches and in a pirate boot.

Leaving out normal day-to-day frustrations, I then did a marvellously athletic “dismount” from my motorbike (double somersault with pike) which landed me in a coma for a couple of weeks. I could cope with the injuries but being tied to the bed (and not in an exciting way) was an indignity too far. As I said at the time, who knows what a spleen does, or would miss it anyhow?

Getting as far as mid-November, I thought I was going to get away with it. I was wrong. We visited the local cop-shop to give a statement about the incident where a group of  young traveller women offered us violence in a supermarket car-park. According to CCTV, we were technically in the wrong so our fingerprints, DNA and mug-shots were taken.

Great! Now a criminal, too!

The one saving grace is that I had already decided that, my two series finished, I was going to start writing my comical memoirs. Nearly a quarter of a century in France was surely enough for at least one volume.

The fixed grin is there because, whatever happens, I can say to myself “Just more material, kiddo, more for the next series.” Yes, it has all been noted, watch out for Volume One in 2015.

Thanks so much for inviting me over, Seumas, always a pleasure to come visiting.


Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France since 1990 and is married with no children but six grandchildren. She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn’t have all those, I’d have to work for a living, instead of writing, which is much more fun.” Her ambition in life is to keep breathing and possibly move back to the UK. She has no intention of stopping writing.

WORK As Ailsa Abraham :

Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum published by Crooked Cat Publishing


Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from Smashwords

Twitter – @ailsaabraham

Facebook – Ailsa Abraham

Amazon Author Page

Web page

As Cameron Lawton

…well, Lads and Lassies of Blog Land, it’s always a joy to have repeat visitors, and yeez can understand why Ailsa Abraham’s seat in my writing den is always ready for her! … see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!…



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…a great oppor-chancity to enjoy a good laff with Rikki Fulton…

…a wee while back, my good pals, Sandy Paterson and Maura Lynch had a revisit of this clip below from one of Scotland’s funniest men, Rikki Fulton... sadly missing from our entertainment circles now, Rikki’s various comic character portrayals included the legendary ‘Late Night Calls’ from Ministers of the cloth… amongst all of the modern WURLD’s nonsense, it’s good to give yourselves a break and listen to this… go on, have a laff… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff