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 and floating voters

Flash Fiction Curtis Bausse

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been working hard on Perfume Island, so I wasn’t expecting to post very often, but I did think once a week, doing Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray. But I think he must be busy as he hasn’t provided any prompts of late, so while I hope he’ll return before too long, here I am being unfaithful by switching to Ad Hoc, an initiative run by the Bath Flash Fiction Project. I came across it thanks to the excellent Damyanti Biswas, whose story, Picasso Dreams, was commended in the inaugural edition of the Bath Flash Fiction Competition (her interview about it is here). While Matt takes a song title as a prompt, here it’s a single word, which has to appear in a story of 150 words or less. Not all submissions are accepted, but if it is, it appears on the site anonymously and readers can vote on the one they like best. The winner gets a free entry into the next stage, the competition proper. Last week’s prompt was ‘float’, so my take on that is up there now. I won’t spoil the anonymity by posting it here now, but it’s a great way of encouraging flash fiction, so don’t hesitate to go along and vote.  There are 87 entries this week, so I don’t suppose many people plough through them all, studiously taking notes before choosing a favourite – a rigorous procedure, it ain’t. But if you read a few and vote for one that you like, maybe I’ll get a few votes coming my way 🙂 Not to worry if you can’t – I’ll post the story here in any case. Not next week, though – off for a fortnight travelling.

 

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.

The five moments of morning

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Wow! I like that! Why don’t I…?

Yes! That’s what I’ll do – write a story that dazzles and glows with an understanding of the heart-breaking beauty of life. Right! To work…

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A bit more awake now…

 

Morning coffee - inspiration!

Muse? Are you in there?

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From the deep obscurity of my mind – an idea!

This is it! The vision! Thank you, Muse! A couple of hours from now, I’ll have a story that sparkles, uplifts, inspires like the golden glow of dawn. Here we go!

Um… Uh… Arrgh! No, no! Concentrate, brain! More coffee, quick!

Two hours later…

Mangrove

Hmm… Not quite what I had in mind. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow…


 

There’s a monthly photo challenge over at A ‘Lil Hoohah – you take five photos on a given theme and link back to the blog. This month’s theme is Morning.

Back in the small place

So after a very pleasant, but quite distracting summer, we’ve just got back to Mayotte. I say ‘the small place’ because it is, well, small, but also because it was the first in Clara’s series People Who Live in Small Places. I was honoured to start that series off back in January – it now includes several others: Virgin Gorda, St. Croix (US Virgin Islands), Roatan (Honduras), Gibraltar and Brunei, to name just a few. You can check out the series here and for anyone interested in expat life, Clara has also written an excellent Expat Partner’s Survival Guide.

Though I’ve been away for almost three months, I only had to get on the barge, as the ferry between the two islands of Mayotte is called, to feel as if I’d never left. The lagoon, the bouéni in their colourful salouvas, and the occasional gendarme made sure of that. It’s good to be back, settling down to resume work on the sequel to One Green Bottle, provisionally called Perfume Island (i.e. Mayotte). Hopefully also get back into blogging, not just posting but exploring other blogs – it’s all been a bit sporadic of late. As far as this blog goes, Pic’n’Post will move to Fridays and from next week, the Thursday Interview returns. I’m grateful to Sir Souvenir Mug for agreeing to kick off the new series – find out what he has to say on 25th! In the meantime, to those who’ve recently discovered this blog, welcome, bienvenue, karibu!

Gazette n° 4

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Today being the first Tuesday of the month, the fourth and final issue of the Gazette goes out, with just one story in it, The Sally Effect, which at 13,500 words, is almost a novella. It’s science fiction (or close to it), not a genre I’ve written in before, but I was interested in exploring the idea of alternate realities, or possible worlds, and this is the result. Many thanks to my subscribers – you have enabled me to revise and extend ideas or half-finished stories and get them into presentable form. Whether the Gazette will one day make a return remains to be seen, but it’s been a great opportunity for me, and hopefully enjoyable for you. Anyone else interested in getting this or other issues, click on the subscribe link on the right. Happy reading!

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.

curtis bausse OGB          Curtis Bausse

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?

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!