Come on over…

invitation

I’ve been in a bit of a blogging dither. A few months ago, I started a second, curtisbaussebooks, where I write more about writing. But recently, with a few other writers from Book Country, we’ve formed the project of another blog about writing, to be run collectively. Well, it took me a while, but now I’ve decided that three is too many, so I hereby extend an invitation to join me at curtisbaussebooks.

At first I thought this blog would be goofy and the other one serious, but that’s like having baked beans on toast with the beans on one plate and the toast on another. So although this blog won’t be deleted, and I may even pop in from time to time, the whole salmagundi will be on one plate, over at curtisbaussebooks (see what I’m doing here? Nudge, nudge!)

And right away you’ll find some invaluable tips from seasoned traveller, Gerald Rumpy, whose impressions of his recent safari trip are not to be missed. Hopefully Gerald will agree to be a regular contributor.

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Further along in April there’s the A-Z blogging challenge – in this case the A-Z of the Writer’s Affliction (goofiness galore there). Not forgetting, of course, the newsletter:

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Your Curtisly signature

First issue goes out Monday, with:

  • A glimpse of Perfume Island, sequel to One Green Bottle.
  • For writers among you, the chance to win a free critique and edit of a short story or a chapter.
  • A link to a free short story, The Singular Point, first published in Spilling Ink Review.
  • And last but not least, The Elizabethan Era, first nibble-size instalment in The Authorised Biography of Curtis. Actually, that’s not quite last. Right at the bottom, there’s a link that says you can unsubscribe any time.

What have you got to lose?

 

Flash fiction: Jealous

He wears flashy trainers. Likes Coldplay. Smokes. Any one of those is a turn off, but all three combined? What she sees in him is beyond me. But then, Jessie’s shallow. Must be to find a jerk like Josh cool. Josh and Jessie. Makes you think of soggy fish and chips.

He wasn’t cool in History today. Dipped a hand in his rucksack and… well, seeing how he freaked, it must have been seriously gross. And he snarls at me, ‘I’ll get you for this!’

What the…? Me? Because I sniggered? Everyone did. As if I care what she does. Jerk.


In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where this week’s prompt was Labyrinth’s song Jealous. My thanks to Matt for hosting this – not only does it give me a chance to try my hand at flash fiction, but since I’m easing up on the blogging to finish Perfume Island, it allows me every so often to stay in touch.

Thursday interview: Curtis

Perfume Island Curtis Bausse

Um, Curtis, nice as it is if you to come along to be interviewed, I already have a schedule extending a couple of months. But since this is your own blog, you’ve given yourself the right to barge to the top of the list. I assume there’s a good reason for this.

I’m a narcissist. There’s nothing I like more than interviewing myself.

I take it that’s a joke, right? Actually, what I heard was that you’re stopping Pic’n’Post. Rumour has it tomorrow’s will be the last. Is it true?

Not just Pic’n’Post. The whole blog.

What? No way! But you can’t do that!

Well, it’s my blog, isn’t it? Of course I can.

But why?

I’m in the middle of Perfume Island, the sequel to One Green Bottle. Not the middle, really, I’m three quarters done and I have to get it finished. I did nothing for six whole weeks over Christmas. I got back to Mayotte two days ago and I’ve just got back into the swing. I need another three months of sustained concentration. So the blog, I’m afraid, has to go.

You mean for good? After putting in all that effort?

Oh, no. I hope to be back before the summer. But we’ll see. I’m making no definite plans.

And in the meantime, nothing at all?

There’ll be posts on Curtis Bausse Books. You know,  about writing and so on. A bit more serious, though I’ll keep it light-hearted all the same. And on this one, I might make an exception for Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray. I’ve been doing it for a while and I’m kind of hooked. I’d never done flash fiction before and I find it a great exercise. Like doing a 100 metre sprint as opposed to the marathon of a novel – if you’ll accept the comparison from such a terrible athlete.

OK, so it’s not a complete disappearance. And the sooner you finish Perfume Island, the sooner you’ll be back blogging.

Well, yes, but it’s not a race. I set myself deadlines but it won’t be finished till I’m satisfied.

But you never are, though. Surely that’s a problem?

OK, I mean satisfied enough. It’ll never be to my satisfaction but I’ll get to the point where any changes I make aren’t going to improve it.

I see. Well, I hope it goes well. I’ll do my best to help.

Very kind of you, Curtis. Thank you.

Toddler Talk

Blogging focus: The cook

It’s winter here in Mayotte. There’s a cool breeze in the evenings and when we went snorkelling yesterday, the water had a little chill to it. Back in the Metropole, where we’re heading now for the summer, it’s much hotter, up in the mid-thirties. Poor Mrs. B. – she’s been yearning to escape the heat all year. Having grown up in the frozen hills of Wales, I’m all for a bit of warmth myself – 32° is about right. But I digress: the point is, there’ll be people visiting, things to do in house and garden, life in both its chores and joys to resume. Furthermore, having taken a three month break from Perfume Island (sequel to One Green Bottle), now’s a good time to get back to it and work on draft number three with fresh eyes. So although I’ll be posting over the next three months, it won’t be as often: no more Sunday Poem, for example, and no more Thursday Interview (hopefully both will be back in September). Now is a good time to take stock as well – this blog is six months old. Still a toddler in many ways, but old enough to give rise to a few thoughts. Clara at expatpartnersurvial did a good post recently about that six-month milestone, and Itchy Quill, at a similar stage, gives a thorough account of 12 good reasons for blogging. Both bring up some excellent points which I won’t repeat here. So just a few remarks:

  1. If it hadn’t been for blogging 101 and 102, I’d never have made it this far. There were two aspects to those courses: the advice from the Word Press team, and the support from other bloggers. Both were vital in giving the blog an impetus I’ve so far managed to maintain. Along the way, I’ve come across a whole host of other blogs with totally different content, many of which I now read with eagerness. Many thanks to everyone who’s helped to make the blogging experience so enriching!
  2. The blog has settled into something I wouldn’t have been able to predict at the start. Probably because I didn’t have a clear idea of where I wanted to take it. Which goes to show it’s perfectly OK not to have a clear idea – stick at it, and an identity will eventually emerge.
  3. All the same, I started this blog with a purpose. Now, I’ve just been nominated by Matt at thebookblogger2014 for the Encouraging Thunder award. For various reasons I don’t normally do awards but I’m happy to accept this one, firstly because it’s Matt (thank you, Matt!) and secondly because there’s nothing I have to do except enjoy the award (I’m enjoying it), thank the person who gave it you (done) and state your purpose in blogging. Well, the purpose was to build a ‘platform’ in order to promote OGB. I just didn’t know how to set about it, other than knowing what not to do, i.e. bang on about it non-stop. So if you do have an aim of that sort, blogging can only be an indirect means towards it. Blogging, in fact, becomes an aim in itself and product promotion is embedded within it, part of a whole.
  4. Nonetheless, a blog can (some might say should) have a focus. Thus there are blogs specifically devoted to food, photography, inspirational quotes, health, blogging itself (e.g. how to attract followers) and marketing. The focus attracts people with similar interests, and if they find your content useful (you offer advice, for example) your indirect product promotion may be more effective (only may, because it doesn’t necessarily follow that if you offer tips on book promotion, say, people will rush to Amazon to buy your own book). Well, this blog is pretty unfocused – precisely a result of not wanting to overdo the product promotion part, it flits from one topic to another as the fancy takes me. The blog, then, isn’t the platform, it can only be one part of it. So I’ll also use the months ahead to figure out more clearly how the platform as a whole can work coherently.

So there you go – the accumulated wisdom of six months blogging. Maybe in future, when the blog’s fully grown, I’ll bore you stiff rambling on about my wealth of experience in building an author platform. Now, there’s something to look forward to, eh?

Now for the cousins!

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Have you ever interviewed someone so annoying, you killed them before the interview was over? No, I don’t mean Cristiano Ronaldo, but Ozzie the Mozzie, whom I zapped with insecticide a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, he was immediately replaced by his cousin, Mitch the Itch. This incident came back to me later when I read a thought-provoking post by Roni at Losing Screws about donating to charity. And this in turn reminded me of Channillo.

My weekly series What a Life! What a Day!, similar in tone to the Thursday Interview here on this blog, but with different protagonists, starts there next Monday. Here’s the blurb: How does Mona Lisa spend her day? What does Mr. Plod have for breakfast? What does the Man in the Moon think of us here on earth? Find out in What a Life! What a Day! A spoof of the UK’s Sunday Times series, A Life in the Day, WaLWaD asks famous mythical, literary or biblical figures, or even objects or concepts, to describe a typical day. Humorous, irreverent, instructive, or just plain wacky, WaLWaD will have you thinking outside the box even as you chuckle.

What, you ask, does this have to do with mosquitoes? Simply that Channillo authors, if they wish, can donate all proceeds to the charity of their choice, and coming so soon after Ozzie, Mitch the Itch annoyed me so much that I’ve chosen the Against Malaria Foundation. This is one of GiveWell’s  top-rated charities, i.e. each dollar donated has a significant effect in combating the problem. It’s actually very difficult to eradicate the millions of Mitch’s cousins, so for the moment, the cheapest, and most effective way of fighting malaria is to provide LLINs – long-lasting insecticide-treated nets for people to sleep under. This is the action the Foundation pursues. Each net costs about $3, lasts for 3-4 years, and protects, on average, two people.

The Channillo subscription rates are here. Subscribing to WaLWaD on its own would buy about 10 nets in a year, which may not sound a lot, but as the Foundation says, every net counts. So the object of this post is not to ask you to subscribe (though if you do, that’s wonderful!) but to share the information wherever you can. Spread the word, spread the love – stop malaria from spreading!

Gazette Issue 2 and other writings

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Many thanks to those who signed up for The Gazette. Issue 2 will be sent in a couple of weeks, and of course, to anyone who wishes, the first issue is also available – the subscribe link is on the right. Just a reminder – The Gazette is a free magazine containing two or three of my stories which may vary considerably in style or topic. For me it’s a useful way of sifting through ideas I’ve had for a long time but never got round to writing. So now I’m getting them into what you could call beta shape – not the finished product perhaps, but worked on enough to be put out for the judgment, and hopefully the pleasures, of others. Subscribers aren’t officially beta readers, since there’s no obligation to provide feedback (even if feedback is welcome). Details of the contents of Issue 2 will appear shortly.


Following my interview of T.J. Paris (author of, amongst other things, the wonderful Papa Bouilloire series), he has kindly reciprocated, with my answers to his questions appearing on his blog today. Many thanks, TJ!

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Finally, after writing a first piece about Mayotte to kick off Clara’s excellent series People Who Live In Small Places (now including Gibraltar, the Seychelles, the Netherlands and a village in the west of France), I was asked by Phoebe at Lou Messugo to do another piece, her series being devoted to France and its overseas territories. I didn’t want to repeat the same post as I did for Clara, so it’s quite different in fact, with the negative side (i.e. illegal immigration and its consequences) given more prominence.

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And that’s probably enough of me for the moment so I’ll sign off here. Ta ta!


Channillo on my Plate

It’s funny, but I seem to have managed to get rather a lot on my plate. ‘Here in Mayotte? Doesn’t he get bored?’ people ask my wife when she says I’m retired. To which she replies an emphatic ‘No, not at all!’ Apart from the novel, already on the go, the blog eats up a variable portion of the day, and then a few weeks ago I decided to launch the Gazette (see subscribe link on sidebar – first issue going out tomorrow!). As if that wasn’t enough, I received a tweet from Kara Monterey, founder of Channillo, asking me to submit an idea for a column, which I duly did. So for a year, starting 1st June, What a Life! What a Day! will be a weekly column for her recently founded serialised writing website. Many thanks for the opportunity, Kara!

I guess that’s called workaholic. On the other hand, if you’re doing what you enjoy, I find it hard to think of it as work. I was a bit the same when I really did work, taking on responsibilities that left me with very little time simply because I enjoyed it. As my wife still has to go out and deal with traffic jams, meetings and reports, I really ought to do all the housework. Strangely enough, though, I somehow never seem to get round to it.

PS Currently travelling, so please excuse me if I’m less reactive to comments, or less able to visit other sites myself. It’s not that internet access is difficult, just that this activity called ‘sightseeing’, which appears to be part of the deal, takes up a fair part of the day.

Quilt Power

          quiltpower

‘You say there was a fête?’

‘About a month ago, yeah. Fundraising.’

‘So a couple of weeks before the disappearance. Fundraising?’

‘We were fighting the closure. Still are. There’s no way -‘

‘Got any pictures? Of this fundraising event?’

Josh was taken aback. ‘Sure. On my phone.’ He brought them up and waited, studying his nails, as the policewoman slid a finger over the screen.

‘This one,’ she said. ‘Quilts?’

‘I guess. Not my area of expertise.’

‘Nor mine.’ She enlarged the picture, zooming in on a blue and yellow lozenge. ‘But I’m curious. The boss of the power plant vanished, his car was found 500 miles from here. Could be totally disconnected, of course, but I’m wondering why there was a sticker on his back window bearing the same pattern as on that quilt.’


I don’t where that story might go, but one great thing about blogging is that it takes you places you’d never have thought have going. Such as power plants and quilts. I don’t have time to read everything they post, but I’ve promised myself to find time one day to delve into the fascinating worlds of Power Plant Men and Quilt Musings. A mystery combining the two would be kind of cool.

What you see is what you get

In response to TheBookBlogger2014’s Flash Fiction Foray event, with the title of the song California Dreaming as the prompt. (Actually, I’m one behind – the current prompt is American Pie – gotta catch up!). I had to cut out a few words to bring it down to 100 exactly, but that’s the joy – and benefit – of flash fiction. Teaches you to show no mercy to those redundant words!

‘Here it is.’

‘Where?’

‘There. In front of you.’

‘That?’ Sharon stared at the shoddy scrap of plastic, barely bigger than her futon, that Jimmy was expecting her to admire. ‘You’re joking.’

‘What?’ He looked offended. ‘Why?’

‘Well, it’s not what you described last night.’ She’d had a bit too much, sure, but she clearly remembered, between the last drink and the sex (lousy, but hey, for a first time together…), the vision of luxury he’d conjured.

‘No, then I was joking. You didn’t get it?’ He held out a hand. ‘Cheer up, babe. Welcome aboard the California Dreaming.’