OGB update: Announcement

I’m not generally superstitious, but I decided for some reason it would be unlucky for me to make this announcement before receiving the corrected manuscript of One Green Bottle from my proofreader / copy editor. Perhaps because I was afraid she might tell me it needed rewriting, or even worse, that it didn’t need rewriting because it wasn’t worth reading anyway. But the envelope arrived the other day and she’s not only zapped all the typos and ironed out some inconsistencies but written, ‘I really enjoyed it – quite a page-turner!’  So with no superstitions to prevent me, I can now announce that I signed a publishing agreement a few weeks ago, and OGB will be released shortly by the small, recently established indie publisher, Meizius.

You might imagine me at this point doing cartwheels of joy round the garden. But that’s not the case. Mainly because I can’t do cartwheels any more and even if I could, I wouldn’t, because the garden’s strewn with pyracantha thorns. But also because my joy is of the measured, restrained variety. I’ve been down this road before. A few years ago, a small, recently established indie publisher brought out a book of mine and it disappeared without trace. So delighted as I am, I’m making no assumptions, nor building up expectations. On the other hand, I have two good reasons to hope that this time it might be different. Firstly, the previous novel was long, complicated and by all accounts difficult to read, whereas OGB is much easier. And secondly, I’m now at least aware that the hardest part is still to come – the marketing and promotion.

One immediate consequence of landing the deal is that I set up another wordpress site at curtisbaussebooks.com. I didn’t announce it and I thought it would remain invisible for a while, but a few wily explorers have found it, and although it’s still embryonic, even started to follow (for which, many thanks!). The reason I set it up was to focus more on the book, its sequel, and writing in general, as opposed to the rambling sort of stuff that goes on here. So the other blog is for the millions of fans occasional visitor people who actually want to know about the books, and this one is for anyone who wants to read the general hotchpotch it appears to have turned into. That doesn’t mean you won’t get stuff about writing here (that’s why I started it, after all), but whereas on the other one I’ll try to be serious all the time, on this one I feel able to faff around as the fancy takes me.

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Now over the past few months, I’ve read a huge amount about building a platform, setting up a brand and what have you, and I’m fairly sure my approach is contrary to all established wisdom in the matter. But what all that reading gives me mostly is a headache (this post by Atthys Gage gives a fuller analysis of the problem), so I’m adopting the one piece of advice I read very early on, which is to do whatever you feel comfortable with. I’m sure one day I’ll feel comfortable with the other blog too, but for the moment it feels like when I go over there, I’m putting on a suit and tie. Which is fine (every so often), but it’s always nice to slip into something more casual. So before I start thinking a bit more about my suit-and-tie blog, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s visited, liked or commented on this one, and made it a place where I feel so comfortably at home. Since following the excellent blogging 101 and 102 courses at the beginning of this year, I’ve been in touch with a whole variety of interesting, supportive, creative people who have all helped to make this blog what it is. My sincere thanks to you all – and now, if you’ll excuse me, I must see to the other blog. Now where did I put that tie…?

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?

Pic’n’Post n° 8: Where was the picture taken?

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I was asked last week if there were any rules to this – specifically, whether more than one guess is allowed. The question came from Quilt Musings, whose first guess for the picture below was wide of the mark, so she had another go and guessed correctly, or close enough, with Algeria. Specifically, it’s the Place d’Armes in Blida.

So the rules are as follows:

  1. One guess only
  2. I won’t reply to guesses or give any clues
  3. The answer will be given one week from now
  4. If more than one person guesses correctly, the first to answer is the winner.

With those rules established, answers are welcome for the picture above. But since these rules weren’t announced last week:

Congratulations again, Quilt Musings! Second week running!

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Here is a link to some of QM’s travels – and don’t forget to check out her quilts as well! I look forward to receiving answers for the picture at the top – happy guessing!

Pic’n’Post event n° 7

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Where was this picture taken?

Last week, Pic’n’Post morphed unexpectedly into ‘Guess where the picture was taken.’ I was quite surprised. I hadn’t intended to change it, but sometimes things suggest themselves out of the blue. You go to post a letter and end up booking a flight to Reykjavik. Can happen to anyone. For you, of course, it must have been very unsettling, and I do apologise if you stumbled around in a daze for the rest of the day. It’s a bit like turning up for the New York marathon only to be told it’s an egg and spoon race instead. After all that training? Devastating.

Over at twenty7zero3, though, Sandeep, showing admirable self-control, was unfazed. Her guess (the moon) was something of a gamble but it very nearly paid off. She would indeed have won if Quilt Musings hadn’t come through the whole field and pipped her at the post. Yes, it was Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China (in fact, the edge of the Taklamakan Desert a few hours’ drive away).

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Congratulations, Quilt Musings!

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I recognise it was difficult. So I hope this week’s photo at the top is easier.

Below is just one of the beautiful quilts to be seen at Quilt Musings. A couple of minutes admiring the others is a couple of minutes well spent!

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Does this mean that the old Pic’n’Post is defunct? Not at all. Combinations of photo and text are welcome any time. But then, maybe next week, Pic’n’Post will morph again…

Pic’n’Post event n° 6

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 Just one guess so far for last week’s Where was this picture (below) taken?

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Well, it’s a difficult one indeed. Not as difficult as this, though: 🙂

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But considerably more difficult than this:

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Still a week to go, so here’s another picture to help you, taken in the same place as the picture of the train station at the top of this post:

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Many thanks to Izzy for her contribution for the Pic’n’Post picture and text combination, with a nice picture and a couple of poetic texts about riding a roller coaster. I love this account of fear overcome – the key, I guess, is in knowing the danger isn’t real, even if it feels that way: I heard myself scream in a way that I’d never screamed before, with unadulterated fear. Lol. It was scary — but I ended up riding that roller coaster five more times.

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A reminder of the new flexible Pic’n’Post rules can be found here. Contributions welcome any time!

Pic’n’Post event n° 5

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Just one contribution this time, but a very nice one from Sandeep of twenty7zero3, with a picture of London at night during Earth Hour, when the lights are switched off to raise awareness of climate change. It wasn’t quite the case in Trafalgar Square, where the picture was taken, but the reflections produced are beautiful and the picture’s accompanied by a chilling story that could belong in a book like Hunger Games.

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A reminder of the new flexible Pic’n’Post rules can be found here. Contributions welcome any time!

Pic’n’Post event n° 4

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Two participants for Pic’n’Post this time – thanks go to Tiny Expats, whose evocative picture taken outside a Czech castle, Kuneticka Hora, is accompanied by a text, Defenders, about preparing for a siege. At the end there’s a link to another post about the castle – looks like a great place to visit!

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Thanks also to Izzy, who artfully combined this event with Jennifer Nichole Well’s One Word Photo Challenge (Copper) and the Daily Prompt (“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”) to produce A Hearty Haiku inspired by her family’s traditional New Year soup.

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The new, flexible Pic’n’Post rules can be found here. Contributions welcome any time!

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Pic’n’Post Event – Easier than ever before!

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Flexibility’s the word: as long as there’s a picture to accompany it, one or more of all the following types of text are welcome – the more variety, the better!

  • The true story behind the picture. Why did you take it? What attracted you to that particular subject? What does it show?
  • A short piece of fiction inspired by the picture.
  • The technical specifications, either at the time of shooting or of editing
  • A caption
  • A poem

Contributions are welcome any time (just post your link in the comments), and will be rounded up every other Monday, with links back to the original post. Have fun!

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Pic’n’Post event n° 3

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Just one participant for Pic’n’Post this time – thanks, Izzy, for keeping the event alive (just!).

Her story, which you can check out here, features a signpost, a dream, and a voice.

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Next deadline: Monday 13th April. A reminder of the rules is here. That’s if you want to abide by them, but rules being made to be broken, we’ll say from now on that (more or less) anything goes. Well, there has to be a picture and a text, but that’s it! The text can be fiction or truth – even the technical specifications behind the photo (I’m always up for a lesson in photography). As you can guess, this wonderful flexibility is an attempt to breathe some life into the Pic’n’Post event – all contributions are welcome at any time! (Even of pictures transformed beyond recognition).

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