20 Questions ~ Chapter 3

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Next up for the quick-fire round of 20 questions is newcomer Niels Saunders.  The most important thing you need to know about Niels? Do Not Challenge This Man To A Chili Eating Competition!  You will lose.  And if you want to find out why he’s holding a pineapple, you’ll have to read his book.  Take it away Niels!

Niels Saunders, Author of Mervyn vs. Dennis
‘God I love a good pineapple’

1. Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Where the hell do you find the motivation to stick at it?
Once I invent a character, they’re extremely pushy. They demand to have their story told and won’t let me rest. Writing is the only way I can get them to shut up. Stories are like secrets : they demand to be told. As storytellers, it’s our duty to tell them the best we can.

2. Which would you prefer: monetary success or literary acclaim?
Monetary success. Literary acclaim is lovely and means you’re more likely to be read after you’re dead but monetary success means you have a large readership and can provide for your family by doing the work you love. Isn’t that all anybody wants?

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3. How do people typically respond when you say you’re a writer?
Half of people will be fascinated and enquire about my books while the rest give me a concerned look and say, “Oh” as if I’ve told them I have an inoperable disease. A few particularly self-centred types will forgo all talk about my own work and immediately tell me in microscopic detail about the novel they’ve always planned to write but never got around to.

4. Social media – love or hate?
I used to hate it. Social media has always seemed a wretched hive of humblebragging and negativity. Since I’ve been on the self-promotion trail, however, I’ve warmed to it a little. I’ve met some lovely people through WordPress blogs and Twitter has its moments of hilarity. I still have no idea how Pinterest and Tumblr work, though.

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5. What would you classify as a ‘bad review’?
Mediocrity. I’d rather someone despised my book than thought it was ‘okay’. At least that way my work would be inspiring passion (albeit negative) in a reader. That being said, in order to maintain my review score, I’d like to respectfully ask (by which I mean beg) readers who loathe my books to kindly spare me their wrath.

6. What’s the worst review you have ever given a book?
If I really hate a book, I don’t leave a review. I feel there’s enough negativity on the internet already.

7. Your publisher asks you to write a sequel to your very successful debut, but you never planned on writing one and you’ve left those characters behind. Do you (a) Write it and be glad that ANYONE is asking you to write more books? (b) Write it, but spend the whole time in an almighty huff about the whole affair, taking your anger out on your characters by killing them all off – swerving the possibility of a trilogy? (c) Refuse to sell out and walk away with your integrity intact, but your bank balance in a shambles?
I’m tempted to say (a) and laugh my way to the bank but my writing process depends a lot upon the nebulous instinct of ‘things feeling right’. If I was in this for the money, I’d be penning cheesy police procedurals. I can only write about ideas and characters that inspire me so, regrettably, I might end up choosing (c).

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8. What book do you wish you’d written?
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. It’s the book that really inspired me to start writing novels and I’d love to write something myself one day that might equally inspire others.

9. If you could ask your favourite author a question, what would it be?
I don’t have a single favourite author but I’d love to ask William Faulkner how the hell he wrote The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary and Light in August in the space of 4 years. I’d consider writing even one of those masterpieces in an entire lifetime an incredible success.

10. Which is your favourite part of the publishing process?
I can tell you what it isn’t: waiting for responses from literary agents. Now I’ve chosen the self-publishing route. I’m enjoying the small pleasures that come every day such as a compliment on my blog, a glowing new review on Amazon or an unexpected batch of sales.

11. What was the first song you ever slow-danced to?
As an indie and rock teenager of the nineties and a house and techno clubber of the noughties, I fear I may have never actually slow danced in my life. Who says romance is dead?

12. If money were no object, where would be your ideal place to write?
An atmospheric study with a comfy leather chair, an enormous antique walnut desk, a crackling fireplace, shelves of hardback books and a whisky cabinet with a 1930’s soda spritzer.

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13. Do you think readers still value books in the same way?
Not if they’re free. Many people like collecting free stuff and will download novels just because they cost nothing. They’re much more likely to read them if they’ve paid for them. Of course, self-published authors often have to give their books away to gain publicity (myself included). We write to be read, after all.

14. What genre are your books and do you find genres restrictive?
The dreaded genre question! I’ve never been a genre author, I simply write the kind of books I’d like to read myself. Having said that, I market most of my books under the humour genre because they’re meant to be funny. My books tend to mix elements of comedy, mystery and thriller. Unfortunately, there’s no category for that on Amazon.

15. Do you have any unpublished books, buried at the bottom of the garden and doomed never to see the light of day?
I have two. I wrote them both as a teenager back in the 90s. They’re epic dystopian thrillers and although I dread the thought of anybody reading them, I still can’t bring myself to completely destroy them.

16. What was your favourite childhood book?
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony. It’s a superb fantasy novel that really sparked my imagination. I used to almost exclusively read fantasy when I was a kid and have only just got back into it via A Song of Ice and Fire.

17. Do you have any other hidden talents you’d like to brag about?
I won a chilli-eating competition and I also smoke my own meat.

18. Book launches: all fur coat and no knickers or a valuable rite of passage?
My only book launch so far consisted of clicking the ‘publish’ button on Amazon and posting about it on Facebook. I’ve yet to experience the classic image of signing hardbacks in a bookstore.

19. What did you dream about last night?
I can’t remember which means it was probably one of my recurring dreams about repeatedly mislaying my suitcase on the way to the airport.

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20. What would you like your epitaph to be?
I’m going to steal the one from Spike Milligan’s headstone: I told you I was ill.

Cover of Mervyn vs. Dennis by Niels Saunders Niels is the author of Mervyn vs Dennis which you can download on Amazon and you can catch up with him on his Blog , Facebook and Twitter.  Just don’t mention Pinterest or Tumblr (touchy subject!)

 

Cover Story

A recent trend of wrapping books in unassuming brown paper and jotting down the merest of hints as to what lies underneath is sweeping the nation’s bookshops and book-clubs.  I love this idea, because covers can often be misleading, distracting or ill-fitting.  The old adage of judging books by their covers exists precisely because this is what we do.  How much simpler it would be if all books could be wrapped in plain paper, but then we would miss out on the one opportunity to create a visual representation of what lies between the covers.

Being a self-publisher, one has the blessing/curse of choosing one’s own cover (not sure why I’ve slipped into the third person, but there we are).  It can actually be a really exciting, creative process, but when budget is a concern, there are limitations.  This usually means hiring a graphic designer who will give your cover the professional edge, but being on the poor man’s plan means doing a lot of the work yourself.  Nothing new there then.  So for my debut novel, I had eleventy-thousand ideas for the cover and bombarded my designer with images, patterns, frames, fonts… the list was endless.  In a bid to give me what I wanted instead of what I needed, she tried to incorporate as many of my ideas as possible and did a great job of blending them.  However, in hindsight, I realise that she should have said STOP!  In capitals!  Book covers are meant to be clear – telling the reader, at a glance, what to expect.  While I do like my cover, after a few years in this industry, I can see that I made some newbie mistakes.

So it’s time for change and a re-branding of my first novel, The Cross Of Santiago.  Similar to Outlander, this novel has two timelines with characters’ lives intertwining throughout.  And like Diana Gabaldon, I also struggle to come up with a condensed description of what this book is about.  As she herself said: “I’m still trying to figure out what the heck you call books that nobody can describe.”  It covers so many genres from historical fiction, to romance, fantasy, mystery and general fiction.  So instead I’m going to leave it up to one of my readers, The Bearded Bookworm, to describe it!

The Cross of Santiago is a historical fiction / romance novel set mainly in Galway, Ireland. It follows the stories of several characters from 2010 as well as slipping back further in time to the 16th century.
In 2010 we follow the stories of Amanda, a young women who was orphaned as a child and longs to know more about her biological family and Xavier, a Spanish man who has by chance become involved in an around the world yacht race which will finish in Galway.
After having no contact with her biological family following her parents deaths at a young age Amanda out of the blue receives contact from a law firm informing her that her aunt has died and left her a medal in her will. After experiencing flashbacks during a hypnotherapy session it becomes clear that this medal may be even more important than simply being the only remaining connection to her biological family.
Why does she keep having dreams of drowning? What exactly is the medal and how did her aunt come to have it in her possession? Are her visions representative of her inner emotions or are they memories of a previous life? And more importantly, what does the mysterious Spaniard Xavier have to do with it all?

Again, with time and experience, I have come to realise that the title, ‘The Cross Of Santiago’ doesn’t really mean very much to people.  I imagine most people have heard of the Camino de Santiago – a pilgrimage across northern Spain – and perhaps that association is a bit misleading.  I had thought of changing it before, but I assumed that once you published a book, you couldn’t change it.  Currently I am of the mind that you can do whatever the hell you want!  And what I want is for my novel to reach the audience it was meant for, and it’s my job to make sure that happens.  Besides, most novels have entirely different covers for different markets and various editions and I think that after three years, my novel deserves a new jacket too.  So after much thought and consultation, I am giving my novel a new title, THE HEIRLOOM.  It’s evocative, intriguing and after all, the entire plot revolves around the mysterious heirloom itself.

The changes haven’t been finalised yet, but having all the patience of a gnat, I just had to share it with you!  It all began with this beautiful shot – as soon as I saw it I knew that it was my new cover.

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Ta-dah!  Do let me know what you think 🙂  As I said, the kerning has to be finished and a few other bits and bobs, but hopefully this new cover and title will be live very soon.  I was chatting about this with fellow Indie Author Heather Wardell and she pointed out that the only concern would be readers buying the same book twice!  However, the clever people at Amazon have already thought of this and there is an option to publish my new cover as a second edition, which I think sounds rather fancy.  So it’s a win-win 🙂

You can now buy The Heirloom in paperback or eBook 

new heirloom1+1 Amazon (Paperback)Kindle ~ KoboNook ~ Scribd 

 

My Top Tips For Self-Publishing

If you are just starting out on the exciting and equally nerve-wracking road to self-publishing, then this post is for you!  Perhaps you have just completed National Novel Writing Month and have a 50,000 word manuscript loitering around your laptop, or maybe you have an old sheaf of typed pages neatly stacked away in a drawer somewhere.  Either way, the prospect of becoming an Indie Author can be a bit daunting, so I have come up with four simple tips that I wish someone had told me when I started out.

I wrote the following article for Woman’s Way magazine, featuring my top tips for anyone considering self-publishing their novel.  There are many steps along the way, but in my opinion, these are the most important ones to consider when getting started.  Best of luck!

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The Mysterious Bakery On Rue de Paris (7) - Copy Amazon   Barnes & Noble

The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy Amazon   Barnes &Noble

New Book, New Soundtrack

With NaNoWriMo almost at an end, I’m happy to say that my new novel (book number three!) is really taking shape and I love it!  I’m living in the world of my book, becoming more familiar with my characters and my surroundings.  One of the most important ways for me to connect with this imaginary place is to create a soundtrack that instantly takes me there.

Now normally, I sing like a canary and can’t wait to give away all the secrets like the story-line, the title, etc. but not this time.  I’ll just say that it is set in rural Ireland in 1910 and it is a veritable love letter to simpler times.

So, in order to give you a taste (or a listen!) of what to expect, here is the soundtrack I’ve been listening to while writing everyday.  It’s traditional with a contemporary twist.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find one song, ‘Eleanor A Run’ on Spotify, so here it is on Soundcloud.  It’s a traditional air sung by the spellbinding Roisin Elsafty.  This song genuinely brought me to tears when I heard it (in a good way!).  I think it really embodies the beauty, the sorrow and the uniqueness of the Irish culture.

Happy listening 🙂

Featured Author

featured-authorI’ve been featured on Book Hippo UK!

It’s always nice to have your book featured, and it’s especially nice to be featured with Book Hippo UK.  The majority of sites charge a fee (or something akin to a mortgage!) to advertise a book promotion, but Book Hippo UK do not charge for inclusion on their newsletter.  Instead, they have a strict selection process which means they hand-pick only the very best for their readers.

As an Indie author, it can be really challenging trying to reach new readers, so it’s fantastic to find a site like this where the readers can trust the quality of the recommendations and authors (on a shoe-string!) can get exposure.

So thanks Book Hippo for featuring The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, which is currently on sale for 99p!  I’ll be wearing my blue hippo badge with pride 🙂

Everything you thought you knew… and a bit more!

Interview with Author – Evie Gaughan

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About Evie Gaughan:
Evie Gaughan is the author of The Cross Of Santiago and The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris. Living on the West Coast of Ireland, which is not renowned for its sunny climate, Evie escapes from the inclement weather into a converted attic to write stories and dream about underfloor heating. Inspired by her love of historical fiction and romantic comedies, Evie has crafted her own unique style of writing that is warm, engaging and full of humour.

What inspires you to write?
Two things: I have always been something of a storyteller, ever since I was a child. So I suppose there was always a desire there to use my imagination and creativity to entertain people with a tale or two. Alongside that is my love of language. English was always my favourite subject at school (closely followed by History!) and I would love when the teacher would ask us to write compositions. Choosing just the right phrase or the perfect word to express a feeling or a moment in time is like solving a wonderful puzzle to me. Inspiration for a story can come from anywhere – a newspaper article or a conversation, but the desire to keep coming back and starting at page one all over again comes from my love of language and storytelling.

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing is very much plot driven. When an idea for a story comes along, I try to let it germinate for a while, before I write anything down. I think this is a very important time in the writing process. I remember reading somewhere that an idea is like a seed; it needs time to germinate. But if you leave it too long, the seed will die.
Once I am happy enough that the idea has spent enough time rattling around inside my head, I try to write a rough synopsis of where I think the story will go. A beginning, middle and end, if you will. I try to give an outline to my main characters and then it’s pretty much time to just start writing. I think that if you spend too much time sketching things out, you run the risk of becoming too rigid with your storyline and less open to new sub-plots or characters that might want to join in the fun. I learned that when writing my second novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. It’s better to just dive in!

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I wouldn’t say I talk them exactly, but I do try to create a ‘mood’ when I’m writing, to try and get into their head-space. I do this by choosing music that fits the story. For example, I created a wonderful playlist when writing The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris of French jazz music. I almost felt as though I was in a cafe eating pain au chocolat! And that is what I want my readers to experience, so I think it really helps me to write my characters more authentically.

What advice would you give other writers?
Three words: Never. Give. Up. Value your work and believe in your ability, but most importantly, keep writing!

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I realised quite quickly that if your novel does not fit neatly into a genre that publishers can sell, you are facing an uphill battle. I knew there was an audience out there for my style of writing, but it became clear that publishers were not interested in targeting what they see as a ‘niche’ market. Self-publishing was the obvious choice for a writer like me, because I can connect directly with my readers and have complete control over important areas such as cover design, promotion, price, etc. People sometimes think that self-publishing is easy, but in order to produce a book that can hold its own alongside traditionally published books, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. However, it is infinitely more rewarding!

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think book publishing has a great future and the advent of eBooks and Self-publishing have only served to secure its future. What traditional publishers need to learn is that readers want to read what they want to read, not what publishers think they should want to read. Once the bigger publishing houses take this on board, I think the future will be very bright indeed, for authors and readers alike.

What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?: Historical Fiction, Time-Slip, Romance, Chick Lit, Paranormal,

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Evie Gaughan Home Page Link
Link To Evie Gaughan Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

You can check out this interview and more over on Book Goodies

Going Retro

IMG_0608  Now Available In Paperback!

Well, to say that I’ve been anticipating this day for a long time is an understatement.  Finally, I am thrilled to announce that my novel, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris is now available to purchase in paperback on Amazon.  It is the one year anniversary of publishing my eBook and the response has been fantastic so far.

However, so many of you have requested a paperback version that it makes me realise – people still like to have the option of reading a physical book.  Digital publishing is such an exciting revolution, but for a lot of people, there’s just nothing like a real book.  And I have to say, I count myself among you.  I guess it’s a bit like vinyl – you can really appreciate the artwork and there’s just something about the feel of the pages between your fingertips that (for me anyway) eBooks cannot replace.  So fill your boots people!  And spread the word – The Mysterious Bakery is going retro 🙂  Now you can tweet all your photos to @evgaughan of my book being read in exotic locations à la Amélie and the travelling gnome!

Oh, and if you’re looking for a recommendation, why not check out my latest 5 star review on Amazon UK by Bodicia.

After finding herself feeding mints to an unhappy child like some sort of maiden aunt, Edith Lane decides enough is enough and something drastic must be done. She answers an advert in the paper for an English speaking manager for a bakery in Paris and when, to her surprise, she gets accepted immediately she whips out a French phrasebook and books a flight. Quiet and unassuming Edith finds herself not in Paris but in a beautiful town about an hours drive away and in a very small room which would be more suited to a mouse. Deciding adventure doesn’t necessarily mean immediate gratuitous pleasure she stays anyway and quickly settles in with the locals. But who is curling the croissants at 4am and why can’t she go down to the basement?

I loved Edith and this book is an absolute cracker with a cast of wonderful characters who ooze ‘Frenchness’. It’s about a woman who, having spent several years looking after other people, broke free of the doldrums and sets out to see what she can do to get some adventure out of life. There is a love interest but it is fraught with moral implications. There are moments in the book which had me in stitches particularly when Edith is in a club and comes face to face with the hole in the floor which serves as the loo – the joys of French plumbing. This is a book which encourages independence and standing up for what is right and a story of a strong community who is appreciative of the past and proud of who they are.

Evie Gaughan’s writing style is on point and so engaging. Right from page one I was hooked – there’s humour, a cracking story and likable characters. Take advantage of the ‘Look Inside’ on Amazon and have a read for yourself.

Another day, another castle!

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We are completely spoilt for choice in Ireland when it comes to castles.  And even on a wet day (or a soft day I should say!) Aughnanure Castle still casts a magical spell.  Located just 30 minutes drive from Galway City, it made the ideal day trip for the long weekend.  Readers of The Cross Of Santiago will know that this castle features prominently in my story of medieval Ireland, sheltering survivors from the Spanish Armada shipwreck on the West Coast of Ireland.  Strictly speaking, this is a tower house and is situated just outside the village of Oughterard, on the Drimneed River.  Built in the 1500’s by the O’Flaherty clann, it was a fortress against all manner of invaders and even today, the Watchtower stands firmly on the lookout for unwanted visitors.

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It’s almost as if time has stood still in this place, and I can just imagine weary travellers making their way up this pathway to the entrance, past the yew trees and cattle grazing in the field nearby.  The outer walls have disintegrated somewhat, but it stills retains the atmosphere of a grand, stately tower house.  Unfortunately, the edifice was hit by lightening recently and is currently closed to visitors, but hopefully it will re-open soon.

Not to be deterred by the mist (i.e. RAIN), I also took a ramble along the shores of Lough (Lake) Corrib, getting a glimpse of the gateway to Connemara.  With its majestic mountains and lush valleys, it’s easy to see why this region has been so popular down through the centuries.  Quiet country lanes bordered with vibrant wild flowers, give way to dramatic mountain ranges, inhabited exclusively by some rather territorially-minded horned sheep!  Wild and unspoiled, it’s the perfect landscape in which to lose yourself and imagine what life might have been like all those years ago.

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I’m already planning my next outing, come rain or shine!

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, Ireland and good value books, The Cross Of Santiago is currently on sale for just 99p!

September Sneak Peak

Happy September everyone!  We are coming into my favourite time of year and so to celebrate, I’m posting a snippet from my novel, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris.  Hope you enjoy it 🙂  Also, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has already downloaded a copy of my book.  I really appreciate the fact that you took a chance on an Indie Author and want you to know that you are actually supporting my writing career in the best way possible – by reading my stories!  If you liked how I dotted my I’s and crossed my T’s, please do leave a review (if you have the time).  I’d love to hear your thoughts and it’s a great way to give potential readers an impartial opinion on my books.

Finally, thanks to all of this goodwill, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris is now No. 20 on Amazon’s Bestseller List for Women’s Fiction on Kindle. So, as Madame Moreau would say, merci beaucoup!

 

Chapter 3

The sky was completely dark by the time the train pulled into Compiègne station.  I felt tired and hungry as I pulled on my coat and prepared to step once more into the unknown.  Alighting the train, I noticed a young boy of about 15 sitting on one of the two benches adorning the platform.  He was engrossed in some sort of computer game and it was only when the wheels of my case announced my presence, did he look up from under his hoodie.

Excusez-moi Madame?” he shouted.

My instincts told me he was someone to be avoided, so I pretended I hadn’t heard and continued on my way.

Madame, je vous en prie, êtes-vous Madame Lane?” he persisted.

“Oh, yes.  I mean oui.  And you are?

Moi c’est Manu.  Madame Moreau m’as envoyé te chercher.”

Already he had taken the handle of my case and was leaving the station.

“But, wait, I…”, my words bounced off his heedless back.  That was it; I’d had enough.  I was tired, hungry and fed up of being treated like a nobody in this country. 

“Oi, kid, you listen to me right?  I’ve been travelling all day to get here, nearly went down in a thunder storm in the process, so I think the least you can do is address me like a civilised human being and tell me exactly where we are going, instead of herding me there like a lost sheep!”  There, that felt so good and I was certain that I had left him in no doubt as to the cut of my jib.

He just turned casually and simply said, “La boulangerie,” as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, which in fact it was.  He gave a little signal with his hand that I should follow and set off once again with my brand new suitcase rolling behind him.

“And just so  you know, it’s Mademoiselle dammit!” I finished, determined to have the last word.

 I finally caught up with my hooded guide as we entered an old cobbled street.  The place seemed deserted and a million miles away from my Parisian dream.  Still, it did have an old-world appeal and despite the cold and the dark, I did my utmost to feel optimistic about what lay ahead.  ‘A hot cup of tea  and everything will seem better’, I reassured myself.  We walked along a by a river lined with benches and manicured trees, and crossed by ornate bridges leading to who knew where.  I couldn’t imagine ever feeling at home or familiar with this place and if I had a dog, I would have told him we weren’t in Dublin anymore.  Turning a corner, I was surprised to see a street full of wooden frame houses, like something out of Tudor England.  The old section of the town was like a fairy-tale village and I half expected the walls to be made of gingerbread.  Nothing seemed to have a right angle and dormer windows peeped out of crooked roofs with pointy hats on. 

 “Ici”, my guide announced curtly. 

Overhead I saw a sign saying ‘La Boulangerie et Patisserie de Compiègne’, while on the corner of the building was a small sign with the street name, ‘Rue de Paris’.  Oh how I rued my ignorance. 

“Well, it’s exactly what it says on the tin then; a bakery on the road to Paris.”

Comment?” Manu drawled, as if the effort of speaking to a boring, middle aged woman was too much of a drain on his time.

“Nothing, forget it, or what is it again… Laisse tomber?”

Something between a grunt and a sniff was all I got in return.  He had a key and opened the glass panelled door to the bakery.  I could feel my excitement return at the prospect of seeing my new ‘career’ in France.  At first I noticed the floor tiles – exquisitely ornate and designed in peacock blue and gold, with hints of bright orange at the centre.  The counter was plain, but functional and of course empty at the end of the day.  The shop was just large enough to accommodate three typically French bistro tables and chairs, all located by the large front window looking onto the street.

A large art nouveau style mirror with a gilt gold frame took up the entirety of one wall from floor to ceiling, creating the illusion of a grander space.  Sconces lit the honey coloured walls with a dim light and as my eyes adjusted, I found myself suddenly confronted with a sturdy looking woman dressed in a black skirt to the knee and a matching cardigan that fought admirably to contain her large bosom.  Grey hair framed a sour face that held the echoes of kindness long since departed.  Despite myself, I instinctively took a step back.

“Madame Lane,” she announced in a way that wasn’t really a question nor a statement.

Mmhmm, je suis, well it’s Mademoiselle actually,” I floundered.  Her deep set brown eyes were formidable, despite her short stature.

Venez, je vais te montrer ta chambre.”

With that, she padded silently behind the counter to an open doorway and began climbing some rather steep looking stairs.  I turned around to thank Manu, but he had already left.

“Welcome to France Edith,” I muttered, picking up my suitcase.

Following Mme Moreau up the stairs, I began to feel like Alice In Wonderland.  I juggled unsuccessfully with my suitcase as it knocked off the narrow walls and in the end resorted to carrying it over my head.  The stairs took a dangerous 90 degree turn and then quite suddenly, I found myself in my studio apartment.  The term attic would have been a generous one in describing my new home.  At the nearest end of the oblong room a day bed sat snugly in front of an unlit stove and to my right was a kitchenette consisting of an electric hob and a sink with a tiny shelf above for delph.  At the far end of the room stood a giant oak wardrobe taking up far more space than was practical and behind a screen was what I assumed to be the WC.

Voilà”, Mme Moreau announced as though mightily pleased with her lodgings.

I was literally speechless, but she took this to mean quiet bliss.  With a gruff ‘Bonne nuit’ and orders to be up for seven, she took her leave and left me to my doll’s house.  

  #20 Bestseller

 

 

Read me a story…

medium_71859999  So in my quest to arrive über late to every party, I’m just discovering the exciting world of Audio Books. My name is Evie Gaughan and I have never listened to an audio book.  There, the first step is admitting it.  It’s not something I have ever tried, so I can’t say whether it would appeal to me or not, but there is no denying the growth in popularity of audio books among readers.  Unit sales of downloaded audio books grew by nearly 30% in 2011 compared with 2010, according to the Audio Publishers Association.

Reading on the go is the next big thing in publishing and today’s technology allows readers to download MP3’s of the latest best-seller and listen to it on their smartphone or tablet while driving to work, going to the gym, cooking dinner etc. and then switch to the eBook version on their Kindle.  For the bigger publishing houses, this recent surge in audio book consumption is a God send and they are pulling out all the stops with celebrity narrators such as Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Colin Firth (I can’t image anything more divine than being read a bed-time story by any of those honeyed voices!)

Of course Amazon is leading the way for self-published authors with Audiobook Creation Exchange, a marketplace where authors can have an audio book produced and available to sell on iTunes and Audible (an Amazon company).  Having only recently become available to UK authors (which doesn’t seem to include Irish authors – even though Irish customers have to purchase our books on Amazon UK) the feedback has been good.  This, despite the fact that Amazon cut the royalty rate from 50% to 40%.  There are all sorts of catches and trap doors, like giving Audible exclusive distribution, narrating the book yourself, paying production a flat fee or splitting your royalties, which at the end of the day will leave you with a 20% royalty rate.  

Other players in the market are eBookIt, who offer an audio book production and distribution model.  Narrators typically earn in the region of $200 per finished hour (it can take anything from 2-3 weeks to produce a full length novel), so if you think you can provide the dulcet tones yourself, it might save you a few pence.  But like everything else in self-publishing, you have to produce a quality product because at the end of the day, readers expect a certain standard and won’t thank you for cutting corners.  Recording a book at home to the background noise of your neighbours dog and traffic passing by the window just won’t cut it.   

Meanwhile, some people may argue (print purists I’ve heard them called) that you can’t really focus on a book when defrosting your fridge or running on a treadmill.  Like I say, I have yet to give it a try myself, but if it means more people enjoying more books, then I’m all for it.  As an author, it’s certainly an opportunity that is worth looking into and one that I welcome with equal amounts of enthusiasm and bewilderment (typical Indie reaction!)  I would love to hear from anyone who has created an audio book, either with Amazon or by themselves.  How did you find the process?  Did you reach a greater audience?  Are you an audio book addict on a mission to convert the rest of us?  Let me know 🙂

The Mysterious Bakery On Rue de Paris (7) - Copy  Download The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris on Amazon.

The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy  The Cross Of Santiago, is also available on Amazon.