Gazette n° 3: contents


Gazette number 3 goes out tomorrow – very different from the first two as it’s all about language learning. The first text, A Writhing Mass (2915 words), was originally published in the creative non fiction section of Spilling Ink Review. It’s an account of my attempt to learn Burmese. (I still have hopes of achieving that but it seemed a bit odd to study Burmese in Mayotte, so I’ve started Shimaoré instead. Not that I’ve got very far with that either). Then there are three short stories in both English and French: The Case of the Missing Guide (1895 words), Believe in Yourself (1972 words) and Shopping with Sally (1783 words). These were written for French learners of English, but to a certain extent it should work the other way round as well. The idea was to take a selection of useful words in English (i.e. those which occur frequently) and incorporate them in a story. So in each story there are 80 target words, which originally were presented with translations and pictures as well as in the context of a sentence. On top of that the words are recycled from one story to another, thus increasing the chance of them being learnt.

This is an ongoing project, with 20 stories planned and only five done so far. Making up the stories isn’t so difficult – what’s harder is to include not just the target words but the words from previous stories to recycle. Still, maybe it’ll get finished one day. If anyone wants to participate in this project, give a shout! Or if you want to know more about the research behind it, don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact page.

There’ll only be one more issue after this, at least for a while. Not that I don’t have more material in preparation, but I’ve started the third draft of Perfume Island, and that requires the sort of concentration that can only come with sustained bouts of work. Sincere thanks to my subscribers!

The three R’s: Writing, Reading, Reviewing

My arithmetic skills having long since withered, my third R these days is reviewing, which I don’t do enough of. That’s partly because I don’t do enough reading, in fact, so I ought to reduce the first R to get more time for the other two. But if I did that, I’d be unhappy, so for the moment it’s staying as it is. Nonetheless, as I look ever deeper into self-publishing, the importance of reviewing becomes more obvious. A sizeable batch of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads helps to attract more reviews – it’s a snowball effect. Fewer than thirty, and you’re unlikely to make much of an impact – readers tend to dismiss them as the usual 5-star hype by friends and family. More than fifty reviews, though, and people start to take notice.

I’ve only been on Goodreads a short while, but one thing you see straightaway is that the books with the most reviews are the ones that need them least. The first book I rated (5 stars) was Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. I didn’t write a review, though, because it already had 15,248, and I said to myself that I’d rather write reviews which could actually make a difference. So I wrote one (4 stars) for The Attic Piranhas by Marlin Williams, which currently has six reviews on Goodreads and 13 on Amazon.

Nonetheless, despite my writing commitments, I’m trying to make time for the other two R’s. I was recently a beta reader for William Chasterson’s intriguing Metaphysical Man, and I’ve just posted a couple of reviews on Goodreads. One for Clara Wiggins’s very well-written Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, the other for Casting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus. This, then, is the modest start to my Help Other Authors campaign, which others, such as The Story Reading Ape, have taken to admirable heights. And here’s a quote from Sally Cronin at smorgasbord which gives it a concrete basis: We are always hearing about the overwhelming number of Indie authors and the number of books we are competing with in the market place. However, instead of being overwhelmed, take a look at your circle of author contacts and instead of trying to make a difference to all Indie authors, how about as a group making a difference to twenty or thirty. If we all did that we would be supporting thousands within a very short space of time.

Sound advice indeed, and I’ll be posting more about the three R’s in future. Meanwhile, Amazon is asking me to rate the first issue of The World Unknown Review, volume 1. I bought it a month ago because it has a story by Book Country writer D.J. Lutz, but I haven’t started it yet. Give me a chance, guys – gotta do some writing myself!

Gazette n° 2 out tomorrow!


The second issue of The Gazette has two stories in it. The first, A Typographical Error (1837 words) was simply inspired by an inversion of letters in a word, which gave rise to a completely different perspective on it and led me imagine a story around the two. Though it dates from a few years back I never sent it anywhere because I felt it was bit flippant for the seriousness of the topic it deals with. When I came back to it, though, it struck me that a lot more could be made of it, and that resulted in the second text Four Sisters: Susan (9182 words). This is in fact the start of a novel about, you guessed it, four sisters whose lives span much of the last century. A project I’ll come back to later, but writing up this first part enabled me to start giving it some substance. To subscribe to these free stories, click on the link on the right.


Meanwhile, the first instalment of the weekly series What a Life! What a Day! is now available on Channillo, with the Muse Calliope telling us what makes her tick. If you want to know what she thinks of Tracy Emin’s bed, check it out! Or else, just spread the word – all proceeds go to the Against Malaria Foundation. Many thanks!

Gazette Issue 2 and other writings


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!


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.


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

Gazette Issue 1 out soon!


So as promised, a few more words about the first issue of The Gazette. There are three stories in it, each one self-contained, but all interconnected to form a whole, And It Came To Pass. The first story, Away Too Long (970 words), was originally published by Leaf Books Magazine in an anthology of the same name. The other two, The Mystery Man (3778 words) and Quite Contrary (5627 words) were written specially to form the trilogy in this issue.

As I mentioned in my initial announcement, the themes and style of The Gazette will vary considerably. Though far from entirely bleak, this issue leans towards the dark side. But don’t let that put you off – subsequent issues will be brighter!

Three stories, over 10,000 words, all for free! Scheduled release date, 5th May. Sign up to receive an email PDF by clicking on the subscribe link to the right (if you’re on a smartphone, depending how smart it is, you may have scroll down to the bottom).

The Gazette

issue 1

A couple of weeks ago, I discreetly added a widget to my sidebar inviting readers to sign up for The Bausse Gazette. Here I announce the forthcoming appearance of the first issue and explain the reasoning behind it. Each issue of the Gazette will contain two or three stories. A few have been previously published in online or print magazines, but most are being written specially for the Gazette. I work best to deadlines – the first Tuesday of each month, when the Gazette goes out, the stories will have to be ready. Without that deadline, they probably wouldn’t get written.

It’s experimental – not the writing itself but the idea. While I’ve been concentrating lately on crime fiction, I’m also attracted to literary texts, with themes that may be dark or humorous, whimsical or weighty. My team of marketing advisors (i.e. me and myself) had quite a debate about this. Some said too broad a variety is bad for ‘brand identification’. Others said no problem, it’s a ‘product diversification strategy’, just like Unilever, really. The bottom line? I enjoy developing ideas of all sorts so why not? (Not that I’ll be straying into E.L.James territory, if you’re wondering).

What’s in it for you? Well, a couple of free stories if you want. As always, when it comes to writing, the reader’s in control – you stop reading or unsubscribe any time you want. And if you like them, you’ll have had a few minutes of whatever pleasure reading gives you.

Watch this space for upcoming details of the contents of issue one. (For the moment, this is just The Bausse Gazette, but there’s no reason the name can’t change one day and other contributors be welcomed). And now all that remains is for me to really commit myself by pressing ‘publish’. Here goes…

Micro-fiction? Perish the thought!


I didn’t even know about blogging events till today’s 101 assignment. Then I browsed the list and thought David Borrowdale’s Micro Bookends looked cool. He provides the first and last words and you write what’s in between. 90 – 110 words (not including the title). The prompts are posted Thursday p.m. and you have 24 hours to submit. Examples of recent prompts: peace prize; general theory; video sharing.

Then I thought, am I going to do this? No way. Far too much other stuff to do. All the same, though, could be fun, couldn’t it? Let’s see… How would I set about it? And I picked up a book and out popped a couple of words at random. Stamp collection.

The Voice That Couldn’t

Stamp on it. Now! Yeah, that’s better. Gone.

But it wasn’t gone. He could stamp as much as he liked, it always came back. The thought. Crush it, said the voice, but his weren’t the kind of thoughts that give up and die.

More than a thought now. A need.

Let’s move on, you hear? Hey, look – you don’t have to do this.

The voice of reason. Huh! A whisper in the wind. No one to hear it now.

There – in the park. That one, wandering off, parents asleep. It won’t take long. She’ll never know what happened. Just one more. To add to the collection.

The thing is though, I don’t have time to spend all day fiddling with micro-fiction. I’m working on Perfume Island. Take part in a competition? I’m stamping on that idea right now. That’s better. Gone.

Oh, all right. Just this once. To add to Borrowdale’s collection.