Readers are Plentiful: Authors are RARE

Some Thoughts about RARE Edinburgh

Here, RARE stands for Romance Author & Reader Events. They have taken place in various cities around the world since 2014. Basically, you get a large venue, and fill it with romance authors. They each pay about £300 for a table. Attending readers (their fans) descend on the event to have their paperback copies of their favourite books signed by the author. Many of the authors will also take advance orders for their books and will attend with all they need.

Readers queuing to enter the Heart of Steel signing event in Sheffield.

Nowadays, these events sell out VERY QUICKLY! Tickets are priced anywhere from £50 to £80

Authors coming to Edinburgh by Nationality

  • Australian          10
  • Canada               10
  • Ireland                4
  • UK                     25
  • USA                   163

So the vast majority of the attending authors find it worth their while financially to fly to the UK, and to make all the arrangements for their paperbacks to be there for them. For the majority of them, this they must do themselves: there is no publisher to do it for them.

Among the authors there is massive competition for places too. ALL these events have a substantial waiting list for tables.

Romance Author Reader Events on Facebook.

RARE Events on Twitter.

A great many are USA Today Bestsellers and/or New York Times bestsellers and are VERY productive,  insatiable writers. Just look at these figures!

Number of books published by the attending authors.

  • Total (using Goodreads)               13650
  • Mean                                            About 52 per attending author.
  • Highest                                         382 in 12 years!  i.e. over 30 a year!
  • Lowest                                          2

Asll this demonstrates just how VERY broad is their spectrum of productivity.

Out of 239 attending authors, 189 are independent authors. These are publishing under their own name with CreateSpace, IngramSpark and the like for paperbacks, but on EVERY platform for their eBooks. i.e. Amazon, Barnes&Noble, I-Books, Smashwords, Evernight and Kobo.

Because of Covid various signings have been cancelled, but the organisers are really hitting the ground running with RARE Edinburgh next year – and this event will take place over 2 full days with over 230 authors coming.

 There are a few Romantic Novelists Association members attending, including Carrie Elks and Julia Sykes. All attendees’ tickets for RARE Edinburgh are sold out.  When they go on sale, they normally go within a couple of hours.

Although all the authors write in the romantic genre, a LOT of them write fantasy or erotic romances, both MM and FF, and books in the alpha, rockstar, bad-boy, and cowboy tropes.  Also plenty of historical and romantic suspense. Saga type romances seem less common.

Nearly all of them use Linktree and put links to EVERYTHING on their Linktree page.

And – invariably – a cover and link to their books, under every writing name they use.

Almost all of them will write “series” of up to 10 inter-connected books. This seems to be very much what their readers want. Writing a series also has several marketing advantages. I know from experience that some established authors have suggested that their work is not of a “high quality”! Well, it certainly appears to be of a suitable quality for their numerous readers.

Among the 50 authors who are conventionally published, their publishing houses include Montlake and Skyscape (both part of the Amazon stable), Piatkus. Penguin, Macmillan, Carina, Hachette, Avon and Bantam.

From those I have seen, the standard of their websites is very high. Lots of stuff going on. Pics and links to all their books and a very professional appearance. A lot of their covers show echoes of Fabio! As with conventional publishing, there IS a noticeable difference between authors from the UK and the USA.

Although most authors attending are from outside the UK, there IS a trade in the other direction, with several British authors attending similar large events in the USA.

I’ve been to several of the smaller signing events within striking distance of York, and I’ve found them ALL amazingly friendly and convivial occasions. Independent publishing is “the other side of the coin” to those of us grounded firmly in the conventional side of the game, but I think it behoves us all to look at the Indie sector and take a note of what makes them so successful, and to note their amazing productivity. This is not unknown, particularly in the category romance area. I know of several HM&B authors who produce 4-5 books a year.

Some shots from signings in the UK.

Thay are invariably fun events to attend, and for meeting old friends and new!

Many readers will attend a signing event with a wheeled trolley or roll-along case and take it home FULL of the books they have collected and bought.

Perhaps its most important to note that any success they achieve is purely by their own efforts and on their own terms.

Personally speaking, I would like to see more formal recognition given to indie authors, possibly along the line of one or two awards in the Romantic Novel of the Year awards reserved specifically for independent authors. Does the RNA need to reach out to all these bestselling authors of romance to make them feel welcome and included?

After all, romance is for everyone!

How to write a classic

From this week’s Novel Points of View Blog.

This week its Victoria Cornwall.

In January I wrote a blog post about books to read before one dies and how the list influenced a Christmas gift from a member of my family. One of the books I requested for Christmas was the classic The Catcher in the Rye, which I have just finished. The plot wasn’t what I was expecting, but perhaps that is not surprising as I knew nothing about the book beyond its cult-like status before I read it. However, its simple plot and style did make me ponder on what makes a book a classic and could I write one?

According to the Cambridge and Collins dictionaries, a “classic” is a work which is well known, of high literary standard and has lasting value. During my research the general view is that a classic should touch and connect with people, challenge a reader’s view on life, influence subsequent books and its appeal must last for years. Using it as an example or a discussion topic in book clubs and education can help with the demand lasting for years.

Armed with this knowledge, I re-examined The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger to discover why this book became a classic. The story is told from the viewpoint of a teenager and covers his thoughts and actions over a very short period in his life. The teenager becomes increasing depressed and disillusioned with the world, and although he has a kind heart, the reader can’t help feeling he is on the road to delinquency.

This novel was initially a series, but was published as a book in 1951. Now it may surprise some people, but the idea of being a teenager didn’t really emerge until mid 20th century. Prior to this children left school at a young age and went straight into work. They dressed like their parents and worked long hours like their parents. Compulsory education, coupled with the advances in technology, opened up teenagers to the wider world and its variety of new influences. Suddenly teenagers had the space to create their own culture, fashion trends and music preferences. So the arrival of The Catcher in the Rye was, in my opinion, probably one of the first novels to be from a teenage perspective, using teenage slang and… most exciting of all, the hero was suffering from all the insecurities and disillusionment that, although rife, was probably not fully acknowledged back then. Although initially written for adults, this book connected with adults and teenagers, challenged readers view of the world and subsequently changed how many books, aimed at teenagers, were written. Add the cult following it has attracted over the years, it is no wonder it became a classic.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, is a coming of age tale of the March sisters. Published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, it was later released as one volume in 1880 and became one of the most widely read novels in history. The plot had a wide appeal, as it not only connected with readers from all classes, but it resonated with readers who were, or had, navigated the choppy waters from innocent childhood to womanhood. However, the story also challenged the idea that marriage was the main goal, as the main antagonist, Jo, turns down her first marriage proposal and, instead, chooses independence and pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. This was inspirational for many readers at that time and challenged their view on life. Independent heroines, choosing who and when they marry, had been created. No wonder Little Women became a classic.

My third example of a classic is Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. Published in 1877, it has become the best selling book of all time. The book is told in the first person (or should I say first animal) as a autobiographical memoir from the viewpoint of a working horse. It is emotional, graphic, sad, happy, and takes the reader on a roller-coaster of emotions. More importantly, it highlights the suffering of working animals in a way that had not been done before. Suddenly animals were shown to experience sadness, longing, fear and exhaustion, in a way it was not acknowledged before.  This novel connected with people, as many used horses for work and transport at that time, but it also challenged their treatment and highlighted their suffering and how easily they were discarded. It became the most anti-cruelty novel of all time and was championed by animal welfare activists to further their cause. Subsequent books, told from the animals point of view or at least gave them a voice, such as Charlotte’s Webb and Watership Down, followed.

So now we know what makes a classic, all we have to do is write one. Remember, it must connect with a wide audience, challenge their view on life, influence subsequent books and remain popular for years. Hhmmm… I think that’s easier said than done!

What novel is your favourite classic? Is there a book you think should be considered a classic? Tell us about it, we would love to hear.

You can pick your Friends, but you are stuck with your Family! (but then again…)

I’ve just been updating and polishing my Family History files. This is very much a work-in-progress and isn’t likely to be finished any time soon! I have been doing this for over 50 years, too, so there are a LOT of people “in the database”.

Turning your family history into a story is not a job for the faint hearted, and, truth be told, isn’t necessarily of any interest to anyone outside your immediate family. (Or even to them!)

BUT

Your family history can be a great source of “plot”. It will show you the size of families and the names in use, and, in many cases the occupation of your family members, and their locations.

Everyone in the UK has access to the General Record Office of Births, Marriages and Deaths.  They have a useful web page at https://www.gov.uk/research-family-history and you can look online and order certificates of your “person of interest”

I also recommend https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ This site is useful for looking up records and getting the date (by quarter) and place of their birth, marriage or death. This will take your research back as far as 1837, when they started keeping BMD records.

I’m sure lots of us have got a battered photo-album, or an old biscuit tin, handed down to them and FULL of very old family photos. I urge all of you to check, and if at all possible, sit down with Gran, Mum or Great-Aunt Lilly, and try to identify them.  You are not going to write their stories, (generally) but they CAN inform your choice of characters in your next book. They also show you what people were wearing at that time. Don’t leave it until it’s too late!

They really did good beard back in Victorian times! Prototype Hipsters. I would really love to know their names.

Another great source of names can be the old baptism records. These have generally been collected by a local Family History society and can really be useful.

This is a screenshot of a random simple query on Baptisms in Helston. Lots of genuine names and occupations here, and plenty of fuel for any age you would want.

This is my Family tree – and all these details are available through the General Record Office. The “gap” in the right -hand column is because the Greys were out in India. They were jute merchants in Calcutta.

In that column, my great-great-grandparents, there is an army officer, a vicar, a Quaker mill owner, some “box-wallahs”, a Purser of the Botallack Mine, a railway contractor (he had several thousand fellow-Irishmen working for him, on the railway to Holyhead) a peer’s son and another peer’s daughter!

Most of us had relatives who served in the Great War. The Imperial War Museum is the best place to start. Its also FREE!

https://www.iwm.org.uk/research/tracing-your-family-history/tracing-your-army-history

Another really great resource is the National Archives at Kew. They have details on almost everyone and everything. I’ve spent many happy hours going through “stuff” there!

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

John King was my Gt Gt Gt Grandmother’s 2nd husband. This was the official notice condemning him to Debtor’s Prison in 1800. (not for long!)

Ditto the London Gazette. Historical Novelists and readers will surely have heard or read of “The Gazette” or engagements being announced in the Gazette, or someone being Gazetted. This still goes on for EVERY official government announcement. And, again, it’s FREE!

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/

And lastly,

https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

Again, just packed with info on almost everyone and everything.

So, some rules.

Any event dated before 1066 is likely to involve a LOT of guesswork.

Any history before the Victorian era will have been written by a man.

All history is written by the victors (who pay for it).

And finally – do remember – we are STORYTELLERS first and foremost.

Now happy hunting, and don’t over-research! (you will, anyway!)

————————————————————————————–

And finally – some news about the hedgehogs!

We are getting regular calls from about 3 or 4 of them. Actually, IDing individuals is very very hard. I keep putting up pics from our cameras and share them to our local Facebook Groups. Quite a few people are feeding them now in the village. This is a GOOD Thing!

Remember, now matter what you feed them, this only represents about 20% of their diet. The other 80% is made up of invertebrates, insects, beetles, slugs and other tasty items the find while rootling round your garden.

Novel Points of View

The Not-So-Secret Seven. Writers and bloggers passionate about creativity – spilling the beans on writing, narrative, reading and more … Do join us and enjoy.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

FOOD STORIES – from Rae Cowie.

Hello reading friends! 

THEMES

When writers write for a while, themes can emerge, and one of the topics that interests me is food. This will be no surprise to friends and family, as I’ve been described as a ‘feeder’. Someone who enjoys preparing and sharing meals. 

FOOD AND STORIES

When growing up, I ran home from primary school each day to enjoy a hearty lunch, followed by tea on the table at five o’clock. As one of four children, there was always plenty chatter around the table. For me, food and stories have always been closely linked. A tradition I’ve tried to pass on to my own family, ensuring the kitchen is the heart of our home. The celebrity baker and chef, Mary Berry says the reason we pine for home cooking is because a special ingredient is added – love. 

FAMIILY MEALTIMES

However, for most of the past year I have been living alone (although I am very lucky to have dear friends and family close by) and realised that it’s not the preparing of food I enjoy, so much as the companionship and shared stories around the table. Don’t be mistaken, when my sons were very young, it wasn’t all sunbeams and laughter that filled the kitchen. Mealtimes could be a challenge. Then during the teenage years, there were several tense meals, when the only sound was the clatter of cutlery! But, often, sharing food also offers an opportunity to catch up. 

USING FOOD IN WRITING

But what has this to do with writing? Well writing about food, or the lack of it, can set the scene for a reader and say much about a character’s background, circumstances, mood. Are they eating alone? Or preparing a celebration feast etc. Always remembering that relationships with food can be tricky, stirring uncomfortable memories, binging for comfort, rationing food as a means of control. 

My favourite comfort food – 
a boiled egg and toast!

POTLUCK ZINE

And then there are those who, for a whole variety of reasons, find themselves in food poverty. Which is why I was drawn to write a piece for Potluck Zine, a publisher who donates 10% of sales of EVERY issue to The Trussell Trust, to help put food on the table for those who need it. The latest issue focuses on Feasts, and I am thrilled that my story, A Welcome Home, is included. 

The title, A Welcome Home feels apt, as over the past week I have done just that. Welcomed my husband and sons home, and I’m in my element again, cooking and preparing family meals. 
So, are you a foodie? Do you like to experiment with new ingredients and recipes? Or do you see food as fuel? Cooking as just another chore to be completed. If you are a writer, how do you use food in your work?

HOW TO PRE-ORDER A COPY (DONATING TO THE TRUSSELL TRUST) 

To preorder a copy of Potluck Zine and help others enjoy a decent meal, just click on the link to order a copy (which will be issued at the beginning of August)… Preorder Potluck Zine

Issue 4 of Potluck Zine : FEAST

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!
Rae x

Posted by Rae Cowie at 7/31/2021 02:25:00 pm  Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to PinterestLabels: Food MagazineFood PovertyFood StoriesFood ZineFoodie StoriesMary BerryPotluck ZineShort FictionThe Trussell Trust

6 comments:

  1. Terry Lynn Thomas1 August 2021 at 21:42Great post, Rae. And I realized after reading it that I have a scene in every Olivia Sinclair book where Olivia and her best friend Lauren eat lunch or breakfast. (And they don’t count calories!) Now I’m hungry…ReplyDeleteReplies
    1. Rae Cowie2 August 2021 at 09:57You’re right, calories don’t count when eating with a friend!Delete
  2. Victoria Cornwall2 August 2021 at 08:36What a great post, Rae, and congratulations on having Welcome Home selected for the feast issue of Potluck Zine. Dinner (hot) and then tea at five (cold)… takes me back to my childhood. In our house meals were not served past 6pm. Anything past 6 was supper and usually consisted of no more than a snack and a warm drink. Simpler times. 🙂ReplyDeleteReplies
    1. Rae Cowie2 August 2021 at 10:02Thanks Victoria. Your childhood meal routine sounds very similar to mine. My best friend had dinner at 6pm, which sounded far posher than our tea at 5!Delete
  3. Just Another Bloke (John Jackson)2 August 2021 at 11:47Congratulations, Rae. Also, the Trussell Trust do a fantastic job with foodbanks. It is so very sad that there is a need for their work. *sigh*

    A cause worth supporting, and a writer worth reading!

    John 🦔🦔🦔ReplyDeleteReplies
    1. Rae Cowie2 August 2021 at 18:50Aw thank you, John. I agree, it’s so sad that the need for food banks is growing, but fantastic that Potluck Zine are doing what they can to help.Delete

Children in Read 2021

Yes – it’s all kicking off again!! Pudsey is Back in Town!

Paddy Heron has just opened up the Auction for this year’s Children in Read charity auction. If you donated last year, then we would love you to express your generosity again!  If this is all new to you, then read on.

Children in Read is a charity auction of signed books by both Authors and Illustrators. This is the 7th year of the auction and last year we raised over £21,000.

Its open to both mainstream published authors and Indie authors! If you have a physical book to donate, that’s fine! ALL genres welcome!

A reminder:

  1. Follow Paddy on Twitter at @Childreninread
  2. Send him a Direct Message telling him you want to donate and give him:

a. The Title

b. The Amazon Link so he can use it for your Bio, the book blurb, the Cover and Headshot

c. Your Bio, Blurb and Headshot if not on your Amazon Page.

Include your website and social media links in your Bio.

Or:

Email him at childreninread@yahoo.com with the above info, although Paddy does seem to prefer Twitter.

So many author friends were very generous last year, and I’ll be doing regular Promo posts as last year by way of a thankyou..

Every author who donates will have their twitter added to https://twitter.com/i/lists/1417006707377643520/members so you can see everyone else who has committed to donate.

They will also be invited to join the Facebook Group I use for promoting the event at https://www.facebook.com/groups/565678247774587  Like last year I hope to advertise the event and your contribution through a series of collages.

Cheers and thanks!!

John

What a Year – Its Strange Effects, Also Reflections on the Generosity of Authors

First things first! Leah Fleming, old friend, RNA member and reader of this blog pointed out that The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Quotations is a brilliant source of titles! And, of course, she is right.

So back to it!

This has surely been a year like no other – apart from 2020. The more things change the more they stay the same.

For me, the worst part of lockdown has been the physical isolation from family and friends, especially from my writing friends. At the time of writing, we have just had Covid restrictions extended for another month. It will be almost two years before we can see our younger daughter. At least we can see her sister and our granddaughter and hug THEM. When you are a grandparent, it takes extraordinarily little to keep you happy, and there IS light at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully, my brain fog will lift, too. It’s probably part of advancing age and decrepitude, but we also find ourselves anchored inside a small circle of activities, and for both of us, all our energy has disappeared. We are both remarkably keen on a nap in the afternoon nowadays!  Still a change will be as good as a rest (surely). It may help stop the feeling of life being sucked from our brains!

July 1st is the middle day of the year, and also Canada Day, and my birthday. Also last year it was the day that the 2020 version of “Children in Read” was announced.

For those who have no idea what this is, it’s now a major charity fundraiser for the BBCs Children in Need appeal. Last year, it attracted about 600 contributing authors and raised almost £22,000. It was founded by a Liverpool businessman, Paddy Heron, who continues to organise and drive the event forward from year to year. Now in its seventh year, it has raised increasingly larger amounts each year.

Paddy normally “opens the shop” to donations in early July. Most authors are only too happy to donate a book. Children in Need, and Children in Read are both excellent causes to be associated with and have the highest approval of almost any charity in the UK. Last year I got involved and approached Jo Rowling and Philip Pullman, among others. Jo Rowling donated a copy of The Ichabod, and that went for £800. Philip Pullman donated three signed bookplates, and they went for about £350. Members of the Romantic Novelists Association seem to have taken the event to heart – about 200 members donated one or more books.

Once they are open, to donate a book is so easy! Just email Paddy Heron at childreninread@yahoo.com or Tweet (DM) to him (and Follow him) at @ChildrenInRead and tell him you would like to donate a book. All genres and all age-groups are welcome,  BUT NOT YET! 

What does Paddy need? Your name, with a “head shot” photo, your book title and a “cover shot” photo, your bio, and the “book blurb”. He also needs your Author web page and Twitter address. BUT NOT YET!

After the Auction, on November 13th, Paddy and the team will contact you with the details of the winning bid.  You then sign a copy of your book and post it to the winner!

Could it be easier, or more worthwhile? I don’t think so! 

Apart from being a great charity (Children in Need is arguably the best-known charity in the UK) I also see this as an outstanding promotion for ALL participating authors. To be there, on display, on an equal footing with the great and the good from ALL levels and genre of authors in the UK, is fantastic for “putting yourself out there”.  The auction website also comes with “share buttons” for Facebook and Twitter, making it extremely easy indeed to publicise your own generosity, and both the Charity and the Auction.

The costs for this are derisory – for me that works out at around £10 for the cost of a book, an envelope and UK postage. You would be mad not to!!!

And for Readers? You see the widest choice of books in ALL genres, waiting for YOUR bid. From Kate Mosse to Lucinda Riley and Tom Kerridge, and of course, JK Rowling and Philip Pullman!

If your bid wins, you receive a signed and usually dedicated copy of the book – and ALL the money that you bid at auction goes straight to Children in Need!

On the hedgehog front we are having regular visits every night from what I think are two “boars”. No sign of any hedge-sows or hoglets yet, but we live in hope. Hedgies are very much solitary animals, and certainly “do not play well with others!” Their main reactions to each other are pushing and shoving matches, usually ending with the smaller hog assuming the “ball” position until the coast is clear.

And to close – remember, Carpe Diem!! Life sucks, but it’s still better than the alternative, and I will let you know as soon as Paddy opens the Auction.

Basic Instinct – friend or foe?

This weeks Novel Points of View Blog; this week from Vicky Cornwall.

Instinct: the way people or animals naturally react or behave, without having to think or learn about itCambridge Dictionary
I read somewhere once that instinct is a subconscious lesson learned which surface to keep you from making the same mistakes. I know, from experience, that instinct plays a large role in our day to day lives. It can be helpful, it can be protective, but it can also be crippling. Perhaps I should add a disclaimer here – I am not a mental health professional, just a writer musing on life in general and with a blog post to fill. I am also vaguely familiar that there are many categories of instinct such as herd instinct. I am going to concentrate on that internal gut voice that inwardly communicates with you when you didn’t ask it to. Now back go my blog post…
What has instinct got to do with creativity?  

There have been many times when I have been writing a scene and my instinct kicks in. I have a growing sensation that the scene is not going in the right direction. I know, instinctively, that I need a little more passion or a twist to add more energy to the plot. I did not plan the plot this way, but as I write my instinct tells me that this chapter just isn’t right. I have never taken a creative writing course in my life, so it is not a lesson I have learned, but I know where I subconsciously acquired this instinct and it began on the day that I picked up my first novel to read.

It developed gradually, but mainly during my negative reading experiences when I have grown to dislike the hero or heroine, the plot direction or how the book is written. I have wasted countless hours reading a book I dislike just so I can finish it (I can’t give up on a book, I have to finish it).  This is a good example of turning a bad experience to good use.

However, in my opinion, if negative experiences can develop an instinct that can be used in a positive way, negative experiences can also develop an instinct that, although trying to be protective, can have negative outcomes. For example, if you have received several rejections for your manuscript, your instinct might be to not submit the manuscript again. You have subconsciously learned rejection is painful and that you are not good enough to get published so why bother and be hurt again. This instinct is protecting you from future hurt and rejection… but I am not sure this instinct is always a good instinct to follow.  People say that every journey is made of small steps and that failure is a path to success. Sounds daunting and not much fun to tread.

It is not always easy to fight against our instincts. It is not always easy to know when to fight against them or when to follow them. I guess all we can do is consider the possible outcome and ask ourselves this question… will this situation put me in harm’s way? If it won’t, than perhaps we should question why our instinct is telling us to flee/reject/avoid/ignore and is there anything we can do to improve the outcome and be braver/more adventurous/more determined. 
Every event is a learning experience and can be positive and negative. Your instinct is there to help you and we must learn to let it help us… but we must also learn to not let it control us. After all, changing our thoughts and how we deal with our negative experiences could change our lives for the better.

Victoria Cornwall
What are your thoughts on instinct? Can you think of a circumstance when it has helped or hindered you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Check the blog out every week! Its at https://novelpointsofview.blogspot.com/

Putting My Head Above the Parapet

This blog entry first appeared on the Novel Points of View Blog. A blog always worth reading, and subscribing to!

https://novelpointsofview.blogspot.com/2021/05/putting-my-head-above-parapet.html

Putting My Head Above the Parapet

A couple of months ago, I got the shock of my life (almost) when an invitation arrived from the lovely Rae Cowie asking if I’d like to join the Not-So-Secret Seven. This is the team that produce the consistently good Novel Points of View blog.

I must have hummed and hawed for ages – possibly as much as two milliseconds before deciding to accept! The phrase “with alacrity” comes to mind.

The Not-So-Secret-Six-plus-Me are all fellow romantic novelists and fellow members of the Romantic Novelists Association.

Being asked to join such a team carries its own responsibilities. Luckily, the group generates its own strength. To tell the truth, I was sincerely flattered to be asked to join.

So a bit about me. I’m male, large, old, a former sailor, and write historical novels based around a singularly colourful bunch of characters in my family tree. These include:

Robert Rochfort, Earl of Bellfield and of Belvedere. A complete and utter bastard.

Jane Rochfort, his daughter, Lady Lanesborough and who was one of the “Faro Ladies.”

John King, her second husband, who seems to have been a dodgy Jewish moneylender. He wasn’t.

Henry Dumaresq, my Great-great-grandfather, who joined Wellington’s army in 1808 as an ensign and finished up as Lt. Colonel at Waterloo and aide-de-camp to General Byng.

Stephen Harvey James and his son, also Stephen, opened up the Crown Mine at Botallack. Stephen, his son, was also the mine’s last Purser.

ALL of them and more have stories to be written about them, their lives and their loves. I’ve done the first, and I’m working on the second. All of them are worth Googling. All of them are usefully dead, so they can’t sue, too! Should I live long enough there are absolutely LOADS more, too. No one properly famous, but all interesting!

By the way, it’s worth remembering that about one-third of the UK population can claim descendancy from King Edward III. This includes Danny Dyer, so on that basis, at least 2 of the others in the Not-So-Secret-Seven must be related to me. I wonder which two?

Apart from writing, I also do a fair bit of back-office work for the RNA, including setting up the Author Profiles on the RNA Webpage. This has been and continues to be quite fascinating.

Some people take full advantage of their “profile space”. They write something about themselves and their writing that will be attractive to readers old and new, while others prefer a sparse listing. There are even some who don’t want a profile up at all! I find this a little odd, as this is free advertising for you and your books. It is also very much part of your “brand” and will say much the same as on your Amazon page or your website.

After doing over 1000 profiles, it’s still fun to put them up for people. Here are the profiles of three of my fellow bloggers.

And now, a word about hedgehogs!

We retired to a small village just north of York (Old York, in the UK) a few years ago. Access to our garden is relatively open plan. It backs on to what was an old orchard full of fruit trees, which now forms the large back garden for one of the original farmhouses in the village.

In our second year here, we were sat out one warm summer night when we saw our first hedgie, just bumbling around in one of the borders.

The following day I put a hole in the fence to the old orchard, and we started to put food out for them.

Then our daughters bought me a trail cam!

Ever since, and about 5 cameras later (they don’t last forever), we have both been finding hours of entertainment from them. Every year, they have come back to the garden, where they do great work eating garden pests.

We have had as many as 5 in the garden at once! This year they are back. Just two of them so far, but the hoglet season will be upon us next month.

It’s easy to see why they are Britain’s favourite animal, and as it happens, this week is Hedgehog Awareness Week!

Enjoy! And don’t forget to subscribe and share!

John 

A DAY FOR EVERYTHING

This week’s Novel Points of View Blog from Rae Cowie

Hello!

The rise in social media means now there’s a ‘day’ for everything, and when World Earth Day (focusing on how to preserve the earth’s resources) and World Book Night (celebrating reading for pleasure) fell during the same week, it got me thinking about my reading habits, how environmentally friendly (or not) they are, and how they’ve changed over the years.

World Earth Day and World Book Night

STORIES TO MAKE YOU SMILE

As an aside, World Book Night is offering a collection of Stories To Make You Smile for FREE, which includes pieces by Katie Fforde, Dorothy Koomson, Veronica Henry, Richard Madeley and more, which is available to download in e-book here… STORIES TO MAKE YOU SMILE

A free collection of uplifting stories for World Book Night…

Back to my bookaholic tendencies, and just how environmentally friendly are my reading habits?

E-READER

When thinking about e-books, I felt quite virtuous. I wasn’t amongst the first to adopt an e-reader but, once I had one, quickly converted to buying more e-books than paperbacks. A quick audit shows I currently have 523 on Kindle. Number read – 119. Given I read around 50 books per year, it will take me 8 years to complete my Kindle collection. I was shocked! I comforted myself that these numbers were less wasteful than if I’d bought paperbacks.

PAPERBACKS

Time to confront my paperback addiction… I always buy my monthly book club read in paperback form, as well as having a favourite list of authors I love to see on my bookshelf. Then there are the novels I know I’ll wish to share with family, with friends. Also, I prefer to read shorter fiction in paperback  – short stories, flash fiction, poetry. And non-fiction too.

Last week, I invested in yet another bookcase. The Rose Metal Press Field Guild to Writing Flash Fiction arrived whilst writing this post! I didn’t dare count the paperbacks dotted in stacks around the house, but a rough estimate of ones still to be read sits around 150. Again, using my 50 books per year reading rate, this will take me 3 years to complete.

So far, I have enough reading material to keep me occupied for the next 11 years!

AUDIOBOOKS

Over the past year, the most dramatic change in my reading habits has been the increased number of audiobooks completed. I use a variety of platforms, which made it difficult to work out how many I own. However, I can say with confidence that I have 36 still waiting to be read. Given it takes me a fortnight to finish an audiobook, this means I have enough listening to last well over a year.

TSUNDOKU

It would be fair to say I suffer from tsundoku, the Japanese word for purchasing more literature than I have time to read.

MY READING ECO FOOTPRINT

I suspected my book buying habit was hefty, but even I was surprised by the stats and know I can do better – particularly as far as my teetering paperback piles are concerned. That said, I wish to continue to support authors, but my book audit has highlighted that I need to be more thoughtful about the format I chose, and speed up my reading!

So, have your reading habits changed over the years? Do you suffer from tsundoku? How do you decide which format is best when purchasing a book?

Also, remember to bag your FREE e-copy of Stories To Make You Smile… 

Happy reading!

Rae xx