Random Words

One of the things I miss about my old writer’s group is the Random Words exercise. Every week we each wrote down a word then pooled all those words together – up to a dozen of them, depending on how many people were there – and we had to write a short piece using all the words for the following week. The variety of work these same words produced was amazing.

It was an interesting exercise and helped to focus the imagination so I have devised my own version of this challenge. Perhaps you would like to try it.

I picked a book at random from my bookcase, in this instance it was ‘Blue Lightning’ by Ann Cleeves, I opened it at any page and selected the first noun on the left hand page. I did this six times. Then for the last two words I opened it at random pages again and chose the first verb from right hand page. You can devise your own word selection process and decide how many words to choose. Proper names are allowed and you can use the words anyway you wish, so for example a word such as ‘Shepherd’ could be an occupation or a name and you can be quite inventive in how you use the words but they should only be used in the form selected – no changing the tense of the verbs! Here are my chosen words and the story I wrote using them:

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The Words:   Afternoon, Someone, Plane, Telephone, Surprise, Speak, Remained and Determined.

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Pete looked up in surprise when the telephone rang and Sally jumped up quickly, rushing to the handset in the hall as if determined to answer it before anyone else could, not that there was anyone else in the house to do so. Pete found himself wondering who it could be, who uses a landline these days anyway? Why not ring her mobile?

He heard Sally speak but could not make out her words as she had shut the dividing door on her way out. It went quiet, someone on the other end must be doing all the talking. Soon she hung up and returned to the kitchen. Pete couldn’t read the expression on her face. Was that apprehension? Supressed excitement? Indecision? He was itching to ask but remained silent, she would tell him if she wanted him to know. He watched her from under his eyebrows as he sipped his coffee.

He saw the moment she made up her mind as she looked at him full in the face. “That was Alan,” she said. Pete frowned. “He caught an afternoon flight instead of the overnight one. His plane landed an hour ago and he’s on his way here by taxi. He’ll be here any minute. Don’t look like that Pete, you used to like him.”

“That was before he started messing you around.” Pete glowered.

“He’s asked me to marry him but told me to think about it and not give him an answer till he gets here.”

“Well it’s about time too! I’m guessing you’ll say yes. I hope you’ll be very happy.” Pete marched towards the door just as the bell rang. He swung it open before Sally could reach it and stood facing Alan.

“What are you doing here?” Alan asked guardedly.

“Just checking up on my little sister,” Pete grinned, holding out his hand. “Congratulations,” he said as the other man shook it, “but just remember – you cause her any grief and you’ll answer to me. I’ll be off and leave you two in peace.” He kissed Sally on the cheek and turned to go, “Oh, and if you can tear yourselves apart for long enough come and join Eve and me at The Wayfarer this evening. The champagne’s on me.”

Alan watched in amazement then turned to Sally pulling here into his arms. “I take it that’s a yes then,” he said.

Reminders

Usually I have a fair idea what to write about when I do my Monday blog post but I had no idea what I might write about today so I have decided to do something I don’t often do:

Indra's Net coverI would like to remind you about some of my recent books, after all if I don’t advertise them I won’t sell them. You will find out about them all on my Books page here (with the exception of “Indra’s Net” which isn’t strictly one of my books) but for now I will just mention the three most recent.

First comes the just mentioned “Indra’s Net”. As I said, this is not exactly one of my books but some poems of mine are included in it. The book has contributions by many poets from all over the world and is published by Bennison Books. It is being sold in aid of the Book Bus project and is available to buy on Amazon. You can read a more full account of this book here.

Simp;y Elfje coverNext comes my own book “Simply Elfje” which also includes contributions by various writers who submitted little Elfje poems to my blog of the same name, on which the book has been based.

This book is also available on Amazon and it is also my intention to produce it as an e-book. Unfortunately, due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances and life in general getting in the way, this has not yet happened but it is still on the plot and I am ever hopeful that this will be achieved before too many more months have passed! I will remind you again when the e-book is ready.

The Thirsty Flowers coverThe third book that I would like to draw to your attention once again is my illustrated children’s story book “The Thirsty Flowers” with its delightful illustrations by art student Kerrie Mccauley. I have had some very pleasing feed-back from children who have read it or, should I say, have had it read to them. Unfortunately this is not available from Amazon but can be purchased from my own website, Silverburn Publishing, which you will find here.

I also mention in passing  my two poetry collections, “Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles” and, for children, “Barking at Nothing”. You can also read more about these on my Books page and on my website via the links above.

Indra’s Net

Indra's Net coverRecently published by Bennison Books, ‘Indra’s Net’  is an anthology of poetry generously donated by writers from all over the world. The book is being sold in aid of The Book Bus charity ‘which aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them.’

The title was suggested by one of the contributors, the late Cynthia Jobin who tells us: ‘Indra’s Net is a metaphor for universal interconnectedness. It’s as old as ancient Sanskrit and as ‘today’ as speculative scientific cosmology.’ (from the Forward by Carol Rumens)

I am honoured to be included in this anthology alongside several prize-winning poets as well as other writers of ‘small stones’.

This is a varied, accessible and enjoyable poetry anthology in aid of a very worthwhile cause and I would like to encourage you to treat yourselves (or a friend) to a copy. The book is available from Amazon and all profits from the sale of this book will go to the charity. To buy a copy of the book please go to the Amazon page HERE. 

To find out more about The Book Bus charity visit http://www.thebookbus.org

Well Dressing

Well Dressing PosterLast Saturday, 1st July, a village near where I live in Staffordshire held its biannual Well Dressing. This custom was revived in 2012. The second local event was held a year later in 2013 and since then it has been held with a two-year gap, in 2015 and again this year.

The custom of well dressing is believed to have its roots in pagan times when the local community would decorate and bless the wells to give thanks to the gods for clean water. Some people believe that, rather than being a pagan custom it stems from the time of the Black Death (1348) when people would give thanks, again for clean water.

Originally the ceremony was confined to one or two villages in Derbyshire Peak District in the 19th century, having been introduced in Buxton in 1840 but it has since spread to  other villages, mostly in the neighbouring counties of Staffordshire, South Yorkshire and Cheshire but it has also spread to a few villages in Shropshire and Worcestershire, as well as the village of Kemsing in Kent where it was introduced in 2011.

The Croxton event near my home celebrates a different theme on each occasion. This year it was ‘Supporting the Community’. There is a trail of about 5 wells which have been refurbished in recent years and are dressed by different organisations within the community. The main well is blessed by the vicar of the local church, linking it to Christianity for modern consumption, and there are other events and activities available on the day to celebrate the occasion, as you can see from the poster.

First Croxton Well DressingThe  dressings are created on a board, usually a pallet filled in with clay, making them very heavy, and the are ‘coloured in’ with petals – hence the alternative name ‘well flowering’. Here is a photo of the very first Croxton well dressing (2012) at the main well and sponsored by the local Women’s Institute who are very active in encouraging the tradition to continue.

I did not manage to go along on the day but hope to follow the trail before the boards finally fade. There is a walking and cycling route established to view them so perhaps it will be out on the bike.

It’s Here!

Latest news:

Simply Elfje

Final cover version ‘Simply Elfje’ final cover.

Good News! My ‘Simply Elfje’ book of the blog is now available to purchase from Amazon. I have tweaked the colour of the cover a little and here is the revised version.

To buy a copy from Amazon UK please click here. It is also available from Amazon.com and in Europe.

There will eventually be an e-book version for Kindle, however I will be away now for a couple of weeks and have run out of time to do the conversion. I will do it on my return and hopefully it will be available in early May – watch this space.

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Not On Amazon

Many of you will know that I have to date published three books. Two of these are poetry collections, “Barking At Nothing” which was published in 2010 and “Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles”, which includes poems by my late uncle, in 2011. The first of these is verse for children. My third book was published at the end of last year and is an illustrated story for young children called “The Thirsty Flowers”.

Three book covers

These books are listed on Amazon but it states that they are unavailable. In fact the books are available to purchase from my own website at http://www.silverburnpublishing.co.uk they just aren’t available on Amazon. Well that’s not entirely true; you can, at the time of writing, buy a couple of copies of “Barking At Nothing” from other suppliers on Amazon where I have seen them listed for £22.60 and £19.80 – remarkable when you consider that the face value is only £4.99 and of that £3 will be donated to a children’s charity – in this case The Donna Louise Hospice Trust (when bought direct from me). Forgive me for feeling a little angry that people should wish to make a killing to line their own pockets and that none of this extra money will go to the charity I aim to support.

The problem here is that I am an Indie publisher, I publish all my own books at my own expense and I do my best to keep my expenses as low as possible, doing all the work myself except for paying for printing. I then do my own marketing and distributing, again on a shoestring. This is what enables me to keep the price reasonable and yet also to raise money for the charity. All I hope to do is to recoup my expenditure so that I have the money to pay for the next project.

I would love to make my books available on Amazon, to reach a wider audience, to sell more and so raise more money for my charity. However, in order for Amazon to sell my books I have to provide them with stock – they will only sell from stock that they  hold. I have to send the stock to them at my own expense and I have to pay an annual fee for the privilege of having them hold the stock. It is considerably more than likely that my sales will not cover the expense of doing this so not only will there be no profits for me to donate to the charity but I will probably not even recoup my initial expenditure and quite frankly, I can’t afford to do this.

To a lesser degree there is a similar problem when selling through bookshops. My books are registered with Nielsen’s Book Agency and have ISBN numbers so they can be ordered through bookshops. However when a book is ordered the book shop contacts Nielsen’s who then notify me, I have to post the book to the bookshop at my own expense and sell to the shop at a discount so that the shop can have their mark-up. Again this results in no profit and barely covers my expenses.

So the only realistic option for me is to just  sell the books directly from my website and I have to constantly be on the look-out for other selling opportunities – stalls at local events etc. and thinking up new ways to attract customers. (I’m not good at this!) When a new book comes out this gives a boost because you can draw people’s attention to the previous books on the back of the publicity for the new one but, as any Indie writer/publisher will tell you, all this is hard work and eats into writing time!

I have a new book that I am working on, it will be called “Simply Elfje” and is based on my currently dormant blog of the same name. This time I am trying a different approach. I plan to produce it through Amazon’s self-publishing platform Createspace, together with an e-book version produced on Kindle Direct Publishing. Createspace produces Print-on-Demand paperback books and both this and the e-book should be available on Amazon at no expense to me. I will receive a Royalty for the books sold which I can then donate to charity if I wish.

Now all I am struggling with is that I have the option of using one of my own ISBNs or I can have a free one from Createspace – but what I can’t seem to find out before I commit myself is what the advantages or disadvantages of these options are. If I use their ISBN it will be listed as published by Createspace, but if I use my own it will be published by Silverburn Publishing, my own imprint. Fair enough, but how does that affect my representation on Amazon? Do I get the same free distribution using my own ISBN as I would using one of their’s? If anyone knows the answer to this from their own experience a comment would be appreciated.

Official Book Launch

Book Launch notification

My new illustrated children’s story book ‘The Thirsty Flowers’ for 3-6 year-olds, which I made available shortly before Christmas, has now been officially registered and I have released the ISBN – you can find this on my website at Silverburn Publishing together with more information about the book.

There will be a ‘Virtual Launch’ on my Facebook Author’s page so do drop in on the day when there will various treats lined up for you! You will find the page here.

I am also hoping to arrange a local book signing session but this has still to be confirmed.

Please feel free to share and re-blog this post.

A Little Bird Said…

Today I’m killing two birds with one stone! This evening is my first Writer’s Group meeting since the Christmas break and the topic is ‘Holiday’ – a singularly uninspiring subject with shades of primary school days when the first English lesson after the summer break was to write a ‘composition’ on ‘What I did In My Holidays’!

Last week I decided it was time to apply my mind to the problem but I was still uninspired. Then yesterday I came to the conclusion that I had better get come up with something so I began a story which had a very loose connection to holidays. The story is a sort of criminal mystery about a missing person which the main characters have to take a holiday from work to try to solve. I have written about one and a half pages so far, but it seems to be turning into a novella rather than a short story. When I woke up this morning, realising I was obviously not going to finish it in time for this evening, I decided to abandon it.

Now what was I to do? I glumly thought again about the uninspiring primary school English ‘composition’ problem and considering the shortage of time decided that maybe a poem was the answer – I can usually knock out a silly verse for children fairly quickly and let’s face it, ‘What I Did In My Holidays’ doesn’t have to be the truth does it? So here it is, the first draft of my poem for tonight’s Writer’s Group meeting, well okay maybe second draft as I have polished it slightly:

A Little Bird Said…

…you’ve been away.
What did you do on your holiday?

What did I do?
…now let me see…

I hitched a ride on a bumble-bee,
he carried me over land and sea,
bobbing and bouncing so frighteningly
I thought I was going to fall off, you see
I had no saddle and his back was slippery.

He took me to a strange country
where the Queen of the Fairies invited me
into her palace to take some tea
while my companion, Mr Bumble-Bee
unloaded his bags, to make honey
from the nectar collected before, he’ll agree,
he kindly offered a ride to me.

The table was laid so prettily,
with dainty plates made of shells from the sea
and tortoiseshell teacups trimmed with filigree
of cobwebs, as it appeared to me,
hung with small bells tinkling merrily.
The Queen sat down so gracefully
and I did the same, less delicately.

A fairy-maid came to pour out the tea,
which tasted as sweet as sweet can be
and fairy cakes she offered me,
drizzled with honey fresh from the comb
so delicious I gave an involuntary moan.
Mr Bumble-Bee then brought me safely home.

A pack of lies, my teacher said,
I want the truth now. My face turned red;

I fell off my bike! I bumped my head
and spent the rest of the week in bed.

© Elizabeth Leaper (2017)

 

The Thirsty Flowers

I am pleased to announce that my new children’s illustrated story book ‘The Thirsty Flowers’ is now available!

The Thirsty Flowers coverIt has been a long, hot summer. The flowers in Rosie’s garden have heaved and squeezed to grow to make her garden look pretty. Now they are very thirsty. Where will Rosie find water for her flowers to drink?

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The story is aimed at 3-6 year olds but slightly older children will probably enjoy it too and may, with help, be able to read it for themselves, though it has not been written as a children’s ‘reader’.

The book is available to purchase via PayPal from my website ‘Silverburn Publishing’. Here you will find all the information you need.

I have not yet released the ISBN number as the book will not be officially published until the New Year – it takes time for registration of the book and for it to be available on the system. This is good, it means I can have two launches; one unofficial one now and one official one in the New Year!

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I have been away for several weeks touring through France and Spain, visiting various friends and relatives along the way. It was a bit of a final rush to prepare the book for the printers before I went and a mega surprise to find the books had been delivered on my return! The Printers, Panda Press, were really helpful and pulled out all the stops to get the proof to me for approval before I went away.

To learn more about my journey to produce this book please refer to my previous pose ‘Coming Soon’, which you can read here.

Please feel free to share and reblog this post.

Coming Soon

It has been a long time in the making but my new book is coming soon. It is an illustrated story for approximately 3-6 year olds.

The Thirsty Flowers coverI first wrote this story in the late 1970’s as a bedtime story for my nephews who were living in Nigeria at the time. We used to send cassette tapes backwards and forwards (yes tapes, no Skype in those days) and it occurred to me that it would be nice to have something specially for the children to listen to. My husband read it on the tape. I then looked for something else to do with the story and submitted it to the BBC for their ‘Listen With Mother’ radio programme. It was accepted and  broadcast on 26th April 1978, under my maiden name and with a repeat at a later date. Unfortunately this previously daily programme is no longer broadcast as children’s TV has taken over.

After that I gave the story very little thought until, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine paid an illustrator and published a story she had written, mainly to sell to friends and relatives. She followed this up with a sequel. This set me thinking about my old story; surely I could do the same. I have to say it took me some time to find the story as I have changed computers several times since then and couldn’t find a print-out. Happily I did eventually find it on an old floppy disk, from my ‘Word Processor’ days (between typewriter and computer), after ‘borrowing’ the technology from my local IT shop to see what was on the disk and retrieve it! I have brushed it up a bit for this first printed version of the story.

My two previous poetry books had been entirely self-produced and all the net profits from the sales I donate to children’s charities. I also want the net profits from this book to go those  charities. I had done most of the black-and-white illustrations myself for the poetry books, but this book was different – it needed to be well illustrated in full colour to a standard that I felt was beyond my ability. I knew my friend had paid quite a lot for her book to be illustrated, virtually wiping out any hope of profit and this I wasn’t prepared to do.

So I placed an appeal on my local community Facebook page, explaining the situation and appealing for an illustrator. I had several responses and amongst them was a very talented young lady called Kerrie Mccauley, who hopes to be a children’s illustrator. She seemed to understand what I wanted and was also happy to do the work as part of her CV for her University applications – this was round about a year ago and she started University this autumn. We have had some ups and downs along the way and it has taken rather longer than I had hoped but it has been a learning curve for both of us as I had never produced this kind of book before either.

At last we are on the final straight, there are just one or two minor tweaks to be made to a couple of pages then we should be all set to present it to my local printers. I had done a lot of research on printing costs for the book, which were bound to be more than my previous poetry books, and in fact my local printing firm (which was where my friend also had her books done) proved to be the most reasonable. With a bit of luck the book will be ready in time for us to benefit from some Christmas sales so watch this space. A soon as it is finally at the printers I will set up a pre-order system.

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