Monday, 29 February 2016

The Body in the Bath: A Chupplejeep Mystery

So here it is people the front cover for the next book in the Chupplejeep series, The Body in the Bath.

I hope you like it! The blurb is as follows:

As the International Film Festival of India draws to a close and the celebrations of Christmas descend upon Goa, actress, Subrina Basi, is found dead in the bath of her hotel room.

At first sight, Subrina appears to have committed suicide, but closer inspection suggests foul play. Subrina’s best friend - the flamboyant artist, Advani looks like he has something to hide. And her boyfriend, Dattaprasad, has mysteriously disappeared. But it is not only Subrina’s close acquaintances who are suspected. As Chupplejeep and Pankaj delve into the troubled actress’s past, a dark secret is unearthed which casts a shadow of doubt on some of the local villagers.

This is no ordinary case. Chupplejeep is under pressure from Inspector General Gosht to solve this high-profile case fast, whilst Christabel is busy making marriage plans. Plans which Chupplejeep is not entirely comfortable with. Meanwhile, Pankaj has been given his first case to solve - a perilous blackmail case with a fast approaching deadline. Chupplejeep and Pankaj work against the clock, but will they solve the two cases in time?

The book will be released December 2016! Hurrah!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Knowing your FOMO from your MOMO

So I had planned to do a blog post on the new rules of social media. With a new book coming out soon... Yes, Poison in the Water should be released  by the end of April, I thought I would look at my social media tactics and perhaps give them a bit of a refresh because we all know that Social Media is here to stay and we need to raise our profiles and brand awareness as authors (blah blah blah ... yes, we rather be writing). And of course I thought I would share this information with you!, but when I got down to it I realised I wasn't going to be doing anything too different. Just a little more of what I should have been doing. Confused? read on.

So  I joined Crowdfire. Which I had avoided until recently, because I thought it was too impersonal, but now I'm a fan. Twitter is just too big otherwise. So better late to the party than never. If you haven't joined Crowdfire join it now - because sneaky tweeps follow you for a follow back and then un-follow you. Crowdfire is the only way to stay on top of this in this dog-eat-dog world!

How do I feel about Twitter? In all honesty I think 9 out of 10 people on twitter are trying to promote or sell something. If you are an author you follow other writers – you get bombarded with promotions for other books. You try and retweet them to get some retweets yourself – but which consumer is actually going to see this? There are some, of course. Every tweeter has non-promoters following them – be it friends or family and they may read a retweet – after all their newsfeed isn’t clogged with a million authors trying to sell their latest release. So although I don’t think Twitter is the best way to promote your book I think it’s worth sending tweets now and again – but remember with the intense traffic they do suggest that you tweet 7-9 times a day with the best times to tweet being at lunch times, after 930pm and around 7:30am.  My advice- Get the app, do it from your phone and be tweet smart and link your blog (if you have one) to twitter to automatically tweet about your blog post (I covered the linking of social media accounts in my last social media post).
And speaking of social media, did I tell you that I did an interview about social media and my tactics in Mary Cavanagh's new book - Calling All Authors?  It's a great little book if you are after some sound advice on what publishing route to take and of course for the do's and don'ts's of social media.

I have to admit that I am not as good as marketing my books on-line as I used to be.

Why? Because life happens. One minute you are plugging your new book and the other you are completing a quantity surveying course, mastering dishes from Ottolenghi’s new cookbook and watching Netflix. So okay, I got a little tired of talking about my books and followed my desire to do nothing for a while. After all, authors want to write not publicise and promote. You could say that I lost the bug – like the travel bug, the author promotion bug can take you by surprise and push you to do stuff you wouldn’t normally do (Especially when you can see the results in your sales). I feel I am waffling a bit now… But what I mean to say is that I think I have got the social media bug again. Hence the regular blog posts.

So social media is constantly evolving and the young ones and I mean seriously young seem to take to it so easily – I mean they even learn coding at school  - but it is a bit of an effort for the not so technically/showy offy minded. And I recently read an article in the Guardian where celebs are actually avoiding Social Media – having a bit of an outage for certain events etc. Apparently it’s called MOMO – mystery of missing out. So in layman’s terms if everyone is quiet on social media – you are missing you and you don’t even know what it is you are missing out on – that is the mystery!

I had just got to grips with what FOMO was – the fear of missing out!

I realised on my social media quest that I have to use the social media sites I am already connected to, but smarter (a bit like the twitter times as above) and with more frequency. So more Facebook posts, productive tweets and an updated website. Check it out at

So, I am sticking to the traditional channels but I am upping my game – being more active means I should increase followers, page likers etc. You’ve got to start (again) somewhere

Friday, 12 February 2016

Embracing your inner geek!

I have to admit I'm a geek. For a long while (when younger) I tried to hide the fact that I was a geek because, quite frankly, geeks were uncool. Now they are pretty popular and to be fair the older I get the less I care whether something is cool or not. That's the beauty of getting older - you just care less.

To be honest I didn't hide my geekyness as well as I could have because I probably didn't realise I was a geek and living in Goa pretty much everyone is a little geeky. 

Before writing came along I did nerdy things like a degree , a masters, obtained various certificates and I even qualified as a Chartered Surveyor! Now I'm doing some quantity surveying thing too. The fun never stops... The course was to pacify my inner geek because I haven't done a course for a long while. And as I struggle to complete it I realise that our brains get a bit rusty with age.

Despite my desire to learn I hate being called intellectual - I am not! I guess I would say I am more of an academic. But then if I compare myself to a real academic, I can see that I am certainly not one of those. So I wont pigeonhole myself into a category - I just like to learn new things.

Mid-studying I learnt about calligraphy and graphology, colour therapy, touch typing, did a punctuation course (epic fail), learnt about crystals and of course I read loads on forensics and the art of writing. But I have never taken a writing course and as I am a lover of courses I had to ask myself why? Why had I never done a writing course. I needed it when I started out, yet I just rely on learning as I go, a good critique group and reading around the subject to help me out.

The reason being is that for me writing started as a hobby - it still is to a certain extent and I enjoy it. One of my worries is that if I learn the rules (because despite it being a creative process there are some loose rules- the inciting incident, the big question that readers have to read on to find the answer, stuff like that) in such a strict format then my creativity will be boxed in. I may even dislike writing - because generally when I study something, when there are tasks involved and exams to pass then my interest in the subject does wane.

I would benefit from a creative writing course I am sure. My first book was riddled with  point of view changes mid chapter and I know this annoyed readers. Every time I write (even with this blog) I learn, I understand, I develop and hone my writing skills. And there is always more to learn, we are continually adapting and changing our styles in  the way we dress, the way we talk and the way we write.  I cared about what people thought when I was younger, and don't really care anymore and that very notion makes what I write and how I write different.

I recently found myself humming along to a Justin Beiber song - I have to admit his stuff is pretty good of late (don't judge me) but I guess he is changing too!


Monday, 1 February 2016

Judging a book by its cover

Judging a book by its cover.

This last week has been trying. Why? Because I am trying to finalise the front cover for The Body in the Bath - The second book in the Chupplejeep Mysteries. The book is not finished - it's a long way from completion. If I'm lucky I'll get it out in time for Christmas but I wanted the cover for my website and I also wanted to deal with the stress of agreeing the front cover now...instead of during the publication process when I am stressed out! See, that's a good bit of forward planning stress reduction! There is a reason why they say with experience comes wisdom.

But it's tough this front cover malarkey because everyone has different, sometimes extreme opinions. Perhaps I asked too many people. I asked my writers group first and they were all pretty supportive with some good suggestions. I had actually failed to make it Goan in the first draft which one writer pointed out - that would have been a big faux pas.  Then I asked H, the family and the inner circle (they are my besties). These people don't hold back and they are opinionated. This is probably the main reason why we are friends and it was tiring listening to people and their views (Sorry, if any of you are reading this). Of course I needed to hear what people think and I know because of some of the comments  the cover is going to look fab...  but getting there has been an effort.

I haven't listened to everything they have said... it would have been impossible and quite frankly not worth the trouble. But I listened about colours and textures etc and the resultant product is perfect (to me). I will put it up on this blog later in the week when I get the final.

I'm also starting to look at front cover ideas with my publisher for Poison in the Water (remember this name people - this book is going to be huge!). This I think will be a different experience. Why? Because a professional is going to take the time to debate styles and ideas with me. Now I'm not saying self pubbed covers are not as good as trad published ones - that would be a stupid thing to say because it's not true.

The experience will be different for me because the burden is shared between the publishing house (who are paying for the thing) and me whose work it is and whose name will be emblazoned on the front.

And I think that is the difference,. It's not necessarily the quality of the cover, but your perception and your confidence. When you self pub you can ask a million people what they think but  when that book is published it's your fault if its good or not with a publisher I think you can share the shame!

The one saving grace is that when you self publish - depending on how you do it you can change the cover at any time. However, and its a big however, it really depends on how much time you want to spend on these ancillary matters. Do you really want to go back and change the cover?  Because after all if you are anything like me you want to spend minimal time on the cover and more time on the writing!

But hey ho, I guess if you get it right the first time your book will last forever, without the need of a facelift and it will work for you...on the beach (when people are reading it), on people's shelves. The possibilities are endless!

What about just an e-book cover? Well the cover looks great on promotional materials too so maybe we do need to take time, ask around and get it right.

However, on saying this I am also currently wondering how much is a cover worth these days? Most kindle readers I know never buy a book based on it's cover. I agree because I am in that category...but I can't deny that a good cover helps sell books. Maybe not directly, but indirectly. If you are attracted to something you will buy it. If you see a postcard with a pretty book on it you are more likely to remember the name so you can search for it on line later... Just a thought.

Until next time...