Roadside Daffodils

Roadside daffodils
deliberately snapped and scattered.
I gather them, fill my vases, so I at least
can enjoy their fleeting beauty.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We have some wonderful grassy areas on the corner of our road, in front of our house. At the moment these are full of daffodils. But some low-life yobs seem to take great pleasure in breaking off the flower heads, some just buds, and scattering them. I can’t bear to see them lying on the ground unable to fulfil their potential so I pick them up and put them in vases. Fortunately there are still plenty growing, but everyday more have been scattered.

Today’s Lesson

When cycling out on windy days it pays
to check the wind speed, and indeed
the wind direction before you go
then plan your route to avoid
that long,
………..slog
……………uphill
with a strong headwind!

Outside

A lovely warm spring day.
I’m off outside
without my coat today!

Book Launch Day

On Saturday 11th March  I held the official Book Launch for my new children’s story book “The Thirsty Flowers” although the book has been available since just before Christmas. This launch event was in two parts.

First I held an on-line launch on my Facebook Author’s Page, with a week of promoting the launch beforehand to encourage people to support the event. I also held a Free Giveaway competition. This sadly didn’t attract quite as many entrants as I had hoped – maybe because the book was  for children and not many children are on my email list! This is the first time I have done a ‘virtual event’ and hopefully I will do it better next time. Perhaps two weeks of publicity would have been better and probably I also need to find a way to reach more people. My main reason for doing it though was simply to feel that the arrival of the book had been celebrated in some way and in that I guess it served its purpose.

Outside the children's shopI also held a book signing session in my local High Street. A local children’s clothing shop kindly stocks my book along with my children’s poetry book “Barking At Nothing” so I arranged to hold my signing session there. The shop is on the corner of a small arcade, with the door just inside the arcade and we had agreed that if it was a nice day I would set-up my stall in the arcade just outside the shop but I could be inside the shop if it was cold. It was a nice day so I set-up in the arcade as planned.

After a while it was obvious that I was not really all that visible so I moved to a position at the entrance to the arcade and this proved to be much better, though it was not quite so sheltered and I did begin to feel cold towards the end of my time there.

With a young customerOne thing that I did notice during the two hours I sat there was how few people were walking up and down our High Street on what you would think would be a busy Saturday morning. High Streets are generally reported to be in decline and it seems ours is no exception despite the many interesting buildings.

However, like so many now, our High Street is full of places to eat, hairdressers and gift shops with not a lot else and these types of shops do not cater to everyday needs (how many times a week do you need a hair cut?). The Post Office, Newsagents, main Supermarket and the Chippy are all on a different street. Consequently the footfall was low and I gather it has been a problem since the last bank closed its doors.

There were times when none of the passers-by seemed at all interested in what I was doing there and I regretted not taking a book to read, but despite the low footfall I did manage to sell several copies of my book and was also given a few donations for the charity I support. Overall it was an enjoyable morning and at least I feel as if the book has now been launched in style.

A Perfect Silhouette

The morning sun picks out
a perfect silhouette —
wing raised, tail fanned,
plump body, small head, sharp beak —
of a pigeon that struck the glass
of the window pane.

Endless Line

Heavy traffic through the town;
an endless line of heavy lorries
moving like snails.
The motorway must be closed.

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.

March Chills

Defiantly facing March chills,
like women gathering
in bright Spring bonnets
nodding and smiling;
daffodils.

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.

La Pedals de Clip

That’s it, I’m committed now, signed up and paid my entry for La Pedals de Clip, a classic road racing bike rally in Spain on 20th/21st May this year. I have my matching outfit ready. This is what all my recent pre-occupation with cycling has been about.

Pushing Dad at Pedals de Clip

Pushing Dad! (picture from Pedals de Clip website)

Last year my husband did the event with our daughter (see photos) who you may remember lives in Spain. He had two classic road race bikes, a Freddie Grubb and a James Fothergill for those in the know. Both were in need of some renovation which he did in time for the event and we took them over, giving the James Fothergill to our daughter. At the time I had asked if I could do it too but was told that we hadn’t another bike of the correct era, so I had to be content to watch, wait and take photos!

After the event our daughter suggested that as they had the bikes they should do it again this year and I insisted that in that case I was going to do it too. Hence, when we returned to the UK, we began to search for a bike for me. I had hoped to find an English ‘special’ like the other two but to buy one of these was way above budget, so we settled for my Motobecane (French bike) which I have called Captain Beaky and which I have written about before. This was in excellent condition for its age, having had one previous owner, and although on the top end of what was a reasonable size for me was relatively easily modified to a better fit.

The requirements for the Pedals De Clip are that the bike should be pre-1987, should have toe-clips not modern clip-in pedals, all cabling exposed not hidden in the tubing and gear shifters on the down-tube not modern flipper-type. In other words nothing modern on the bike. Captain Beaky is circa 1980 so just squeezes in, the Grubb and the Fothergill are mid to late 1950’s so the advantage to me is that I do have slightly better gearing capacity – this should help me on the hills which are my bug-bear!

Talking bikes at the finish

Talking bikes at the finish

There is a choice of two routes for the rally. The long route is 72km, but we have opted for the short route of 47km. For our daughter this is an easy day out to spin the legs between her usual endurance races but for me this is a major excursion. My usual regular rides are only about 10-12 miles with the odd 13-16 mile ride thrown in every now and then. Over this winter I have hardly done much at all as the roads and weather have not been very inviting and now I am slightly worried that I have set myself too big a challenge, after all I’m still on the border-line between bike rider and cyclist (see my previous post on this topic here). I am assured though that plenty of participants got off and pushed up many of the hills. The route finishes with a very steep climb up to a castle and, yes, plenty of people walked much of it then mounted up to ride through the finish, but that option does not appeal to my competitive nature (though I’m sure I will probably end up doing some pushing).

As you may have read here before I did buy a winter bike, which I recently replaced with one that is a better fit, hubby having taken over the first, and I have been out as much as my ‘fair-weather cyclist’ attitude will allow but fitness has inevitably fallen off. However I am now managing to get out a bit more often again and fitness is picking up at last. The winter bike has more gear options than Captain Beaky so I will soon have to start some more serious training using the classic bike if I am to be ready for the event.

As part of our preparation we are planning to do a local charity fund-raising ride at the end of April. This  will be a 45 mile route so quite a bit longer and if I manage that hopefully I should manage the 47 km Pedals de Clip (which will no doubt have more and steeper hills). We had thought to do the 20 mile option for the charity ride but that is off-road and for MTBs and we want the road riding practice. Hubby fancies doing it on the tandem though, but I’m not 100% sure about that as part of the route is along the canal tow-path and this, I think, will be slightly challenging on the tandem – there is a risk we may end up in the canal! On the plus side the route will take us almost past our house and we have the option to make the slight detour for a quick cuppa before re-joining for the rest of the ride.

To find out more about La Pedals de Clip check out the website at www.lapedalsdeclip.cat

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