Sunday, 28 April 2013

How to Lose Readers and Alienate People

Bonus blog this week as I need to get something off my chest ...

Last night, after editing, I was idly looking through my Twitter feed reading peoples' thoughts on Britain's Got Talent or The Voice (boy, does England need some summer so that we can all get our TV bums outside!) and I came across a conversation between a reader and one of my (now ex!) favourite traditionally published authors.

The author (who shall remain nameless) told the reader that (and I have to be very careful with my words here or it's easy for readers to search Twitter and find out who she is) she wasn't a fan of the less expensively priced books available on Kindle.  Well, laaa - dee - da!

This could be a case of 'tweeting before thinking' but it's just wrong on so many levels.  Let me give you my thoughts and see if you agree:

*Does this mean that we should judge the quality of a book by its price tag?  A ten pound book is immediately a 5* review because it must be top-notch?  Or a book that has the umbrella of a big publishing house over it is guaranteed to be a massive success?  [cough cough]  Pippa Middleton?  Oops!

* Indies have to keep their books reasonably priced or no one would take a chance on them.  Personally, I think upwards of £7 for a Kindle book is just rude but if you're being dictated to by your publisher I also see that you have no choice.  See, I respect you - please treat me in the same way.

*  I think this author should stop and think, 'There but for the grace of God ...'  Ok, so you hit the big time, bagged an agent and publisher but please don't put down those who have decided to take another route - for whatever reason.

*  Indies do everything themselves - editing, proof reading, book cover design, promoting - they don't have the luxury (or added cost) of people working on their behalf.  So my 'cheap books' mean that, with the amount of hours hubbie and I put in, I'm probably on slave labour wage.  Dear said Author, you managed to slag that off with one fleeting statement.

* I have to wonder if our stable of 'big chicklit writers' - ie: the ones who were signed in the early days (pre eBooks) when business was booming and it was a new genre- would have had the grit and determination to follow their dream on the Indie path if they hadn't had their lucky break.  It's not for the lazy or easily disheartened - would they have had the staying power?  Or would they have thought 'That wouldn't make me a real writer' ?

I don't want this blog to sound like sour grapes - I'm happy as an Indie writer and I earn just about enough to keep the roof over my head - but I was deeply offended by this writer's comment.  So much so, she has now lost a very loyal reader - why should I line her pockets when she has no respect for what I'm doing?

And, at the end of the day, are we not all doing the same thing?  Living our dream, creating characters and plots our readers love and earning a crust.

It just happens that your crust is bigger than mine!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

She's Ba-a-a-ck ... !

So the dreaded 'dry socket' managed to take up roughly two weeks of my life.  Trust me, you never want to experience the unrelenting pain that comes with this condition - at one point I was convinced I was going mad and it wasn't until I read of others' experiences that I realised this wasn't unusual.  The anecdotes ranged from thoughts of self harming, O/D-ing on pain killers and bashing heads against walls.  Yep, it's really that bad.  And before any haters come back with 'Well serves you right, you smoke, so you deserved it!', I had already considered this but then age is a factor, as is sex (not the jiggy variety) - women are more prone - and also those on the contraceptive pill.  Being a female smoker with dodgy old gums was enough for me to fall prey.

I have to say those two weeks were possibly the most boring of my life - between trips to the dentist to have my socket dressed (son's comment - ''Ooooh, does it look faaabulous now?!'), counting the hours until the next dose of pain-killers and rinsing with copious amounts of mouthwash or salt water, all I did was watch crappy TV and heat up my wheat bag to whack on my throbbing cheek.  Now let me tell you, dear reader, I'm not good at doing nothing - I hate it with a passion and my inertia, combined with the paracetamol/ibuprofen, meant that a mini-depression set in.  The Misfit, when she's miserable, is a cow to be around and I thank my hubbie, son, mum and cats for their patience.

One thing that did cheer me up and bring a huge smile to my face came from a desperate need to escape re-runs of 'George & Mildred' and vomit inducing episodes of 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' - see I told you I was bad.  Feeling quite sick with the rubbish TV I'd been drip-feeding on, I grabbed a DVD and settled with a cuppa.  If you haven't seen this film - do it now! 

Oh, how I loved it!  Beautifully filmed, 30's glamour, romance, humour and just yummy from start to finish.  I felt like I'd devoured a box of chocolates, swigged at a bottle of Bollinger and emerged from a frothy, scented bubble bath by the time it had finished.  I'm going to read the book next as it has some great reviews.

The trouble with finding that you've lost two weeks is having to ease yourself back in to routine and finding the discipline to start work again - I don't have a boss cracking the whip over me (sadly), so I need to do all I can to self motivate.  And life is busy at the moment, with no time for 'slipping back in' - it's all systems go in the Misfit house as we try to get 'Lottie's Luck' ready for its June publication date.  Our 'joint edit' is now under way - and we all know what that means!  Poor hubbie suffers, I scream a lot and we eventually limp our way to the finish.  I think, this time, I need to be extra nice (and less shouty/sulky) as he's put up with enough from me over the last few weeks.  Well, I'll try anyway.  Watch this space ...

I also have a birthday dinner to arrange for long-suffering hubbie, a house to organise for our Aussie niece and husband's visit next month and a book launch to plan.  Aside from that, I need to train my vocal chords for all the shouting I'll no doubt have to do at teenage son to revise as he approaches his A2 exams.  Oh, and I need to take my mum shopping for summer clothes, organise her bedding plants in tubs, decide what to wear to my son's leavers' cocktail party and make sure he's up to date with his final graphic design project.  Work-wise I need to finish the second half of this year's Christmas novella and begin to sketch ideas for my next novel - and, if that isn't enough, my other books won't promote themselves.

What was that I said about being miserable when I have nothing to do?  Well, with this lot, I'm now feeling happy - if a little panicky - so I'm off to do what I do best.  Make a coffee and write a list!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Lost Tooth, Gained Wisdom

Well, what a week!

The ear infection that was ... wasn't.  The pain was eventually diagnosed as a nasty, TWISTED and manky wisdom tooth.

So these past few days have been a real learning curve for me in very many ways.  Wanna know what I've learnt?  Some of it I already knew, but some has been reinforced.

*  I have the best husband, son and mum in the world.  Nuff said.

*  I can do anything if I put my mind to it.  Years ago I was told by a dentist that the only way I'd be able to have wisdom teeth removed would be under general anaesthetic.  Not true.  The wonderful young man I saw at North End Road NHS Surgery was the most efficient, chairside-friendly dentist I have ever met in my life.  From start to finish, the way he dealt with me was 5* and I shall be leaving a review on any sites that I can when I get his full name (for now he is just simply 'Mr Wonderful').  Thankfully I just need to return for a scale and polish and to collect my dreaded 'night shield' to protect my gums but 'hats off' to this fantastic practice and I'll always return for future treatments.

*  My coping mechanism is to go into 'shutdown'.  Possibly annoying for those around but it works for me!  I did the same in labour - no swearing or cursing from me, just TOTAL silence and a glazed stare.  Hubbie told me that 'Mr Wonderful' looked me directly in the eye at one point during my dental treatment and said very calmly, 'Connect with me.  Focus on me.'  I don't remember, but it must have worked - five minutes later he had a massive tooth in his hands.

*  I now know why babies pull their ears when teething.  Good grief, what a confusing and travelling pain.  Mums, listen to me, it's true! 

*  I should not surf the web prior to any medical procedure.  So far I have 'died from an infected abscess, had a dry socket which has left me in agony for weeks, bled to death in my bed and also needed to be stitched up due to clots and anaemia'  Will I learn?  No! 

*  I escalate from mini-setback to major drama in under 30 seconds.  Being faced with 'The Amityville Horror' in the bathroom this morning instantly (in my mind) saw me in hospital and on life support (yes, I really work that quickly!)  Lovely hubbie, after saying, 'Shit!  That's a lot of blood!' then calmly dealt with me, and then the fantastic staff at the surgery put my mind at rest.  Why do I do that to myself?

*  I am a pitifully, stupid addict.  I know it's not advisable to smoke after an extraction and I managed to last for six hours without having a cigarette but that was as far as it went.  I have cut  RIGHT DOWN and I rinse with salt water or mouthwash after each one but I am a pathetic specimen.  SO pathetic, I may now be addicted to salt water and mouthwash!  If I get 'dry socket' I deserve no sympathy - you heard it here first.

*  The support from close friends, Twitterers and readers has been phenomenal.  From people I've known for years to people I've met a few times and those I plan to meet in the future, I've felt very loved and cared for by texts, emails and Twitter DM's.  One lady in particular, who also saw me through my last bout of sciatica, deserves a special mention.  Drum roll, please ... Ms Mireille Eustace!  If you're in or around Glasgow, go and see this lovely complimentary therapist at Napiers - I can guarantee you won't regret it.  Mireille has been there for me through this whole ordeal and advised me and calmed me down.  Her next visit to London is one I am REALLY looking forward to and my door, dining table and bed are waiting for her.  (Oooh, that sounded wrong but I just mean she's always welcome to shake a feather boa with me.)

* Dealing with something is far better than worrying about it.  What a total waste of energy.  My husband is the King of this philosophy and the more I live with him, the more I see that he's right.  Being married to me means he has a lot to put up with (!) and I love him more with each passing day for his sense of calm and logic.  I bagged a good one there!

* If your house is a tip and you've got friends with teens coming to stay, it doesn't matter.  A hearty meal, a lovely table, some daft games and a singalong will be all we need - time/distance (and a messy house!) mean nothing to some friendships.

*  Life without pain is wonderful!

So that was my week - hope you all had a good one and hoping mine continues to improve.


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Ranting! Tread carefully ... (and see update at the bottom)

A short and not so sweet blog this week.

I have the hump.

I've now been in pain for ten days with a misdiagnosed ear-infection.  It went a week untreated, thanks to the STUPID nurse I saw.  The antibiotic/steroid drops I've since been given by the local minor injuries clinic do not appear to be working and I'm now grinding my teeth in pain throughout the night.

So … I now have toothache.  But what came first, the chicken or the egg?  The earache or the toothache?  Do you know what?  I'm now so spaced out on drugs, I have no idea.  Waking up at six am every morning with raging pain which goes from head to ear to mouth to jaw to neck tends to leave you slightly confused - and a little cranky.

Bu not half as cranky as you find yourself after spending the best part of a day looking for a good, reliable NHS dentist in your area.  Forget it!  Just forget it.  I'm destined to die in pain from a burst abscess or the likes - see I told you overdosing on painkillers and lack of sleep leave you confused.

Well why not just go private, I hear you say?  Yes, in the ‘good old days’ I would have done.  Those were the days when hubbie was working and we could afford such frivolities as dental hygiene.   Third world country?  The UK?

But now, every penny from every book goes to keeping our roof over our heads.  No holidays, no luxuries, no designer handbags.  And, at this rate, no bloody teeth!

I’m cross.  Yes, this is a RANTY blog.  I am STILL, four hours later, waiting for my PRIVATE dentist to call me back and see if I now qualify as an NHS patient.  It’s now 7.15pm - I don’t hold out much hope.

How sad that I find myself thinking that if we have a little lottery win, I could use it to sort out a possible toothache. Still no cruises or holidays (difficult without a passport) or posh handbags (charity shops have some corkers) - just piece of mind and a pain free night.

End of rant.  As you were.  And a word of advice - never mess with a woman with ear/toothache.

UPDATE -  4th April.  Roehampton Dental Care did not reply.  It took  FOUR chasing calls (FROM ME!) to be told that they 'cannot take any more NHS patients as they have reached their quota'.  WHY could their receptionist not have told me that in the first place??!!  I've worked in a dentist - it doesn't take too much working out!
In the meantime, I am in  incredible pain, possibly with an abscess or infection and nowhere for me to be seen as I don't have the funds.  We are now becoming more like The States.  The soonest appointment I can get is for Tuesday (in a crappy surgery) or the end of April (if I survive).
Not happy and still no further towards a resolve as we approach the weekend .