Thursday, June 30, 2011

A very short piece

In One Moment

I've written it to this rather beautiful song

You stand by the window, motionless. The sky presents a blue canvas for the tree in front of your house. Its trunk strong and reassuring, deeply woven roots snake into the ground for security. Proud and majestic arms stretch to all sides; you watch the ends sway in the slight breeze. One single tear makes its way down, following the contours of your pained smile. Briefly, you close your eyes. Sounds of chainsaws rip through the quiet into your thoughts. Fooled by the image of a healthy foundation, your hopes were high for it to stand a life time. With every branch falling, you feel the energy leaving; with every thud, you feel your heart has been robbed of a beat, with every drop of resin, another tear appears, forming a steady stream, with each crack, your soul cries out.
Eventually, when dawn paints a multi-coloured picture, the tree, which would make it worth looking at, is missing. Its life destroyed, piled into heaps next to a hollow trunk, like your beliefs, your trust and your hopes.
You stand by the window, motionless.

Donation for April Sales have been made

Just a quick information for those who follow up on the sales and trusted me with their money by buying my book.

I've sold 258 in the UK, 27 on I'm waiting for the combined cheque for March and April to be sent. Contacted Customer Service yesterday as I didn't receive any payment for the .com sales yet.
For now, I've donated �35 as gift aid to British Red Cross, for Japan Tsunami relief.
And I've given away one "L" with it.

I've also made the donation of �30 to Doctors, but, same as last time, it says it's delayed and I'll receive an e-mail as soon as the payment went through. This payment has also been made as gift aid.

And here the e-mail of DWB:

Dear Stella
Thank you for your donation of �30.00 to M�decins Sans Fronti�res UK.
The reference for this donation is W0003259
MSF Logo

Thank you again, to those who helped me spreading the word and I hope you don't regret buying the book. The sales for May have been a lot higher and the next donation will be �150. A massive success, I'd say.

You guys are great!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Iguanas are not cuddly pets

Have you been thinking about getting an iguana? Perhaps this post might help you to make a sensible decision. I've been keeping iguanas for 17yrs and I can whole-heartedly say, they are the most wonderful creatures and pets to me. I've never regretted a second of getting my female in the first place. They are incredibly intelligent, wonderful to look at and  to deal with and considerably easy to keep.

 My Zorro
That said, you have to commit to look after them properly. As many know, I'm against buying iguanas in shops as there are far too many being abandoned, waiting in rescue centres and even on fora where people want/need to get rid of them. It would be my wish to give all those looking for a home a place to stay until they die and ban shops from selling them. Rather have private breeders who know what they're doing and who are able to educate or guide the new owner.

Of course you're more likely to get an iguana with issues if it's older and went through several hands already. I've tamed one very aggressive alpha-male once. He was unknowingly mistreated and charged at me at any given time. Together with my vet, I managed to calm him down. Unfortunately, I was so allergic to him, I had no choice but to give him away. I still haven't forgiven me, but it was the only option since my female didn't get along with him at all and was so stressed out, she could've died. Yes, they can die due to stress. One might think they are robust - and they are, but on the other hand, they are rather sensitive to changes, mood swings, etc.

They have sharp teeth that rip you flesh open.

My big boy who's been with me for three years now has been super friendly and tame when I got him. Then he reached maturity and changed from one day to another. Since then, I've got severe difficulties when he's in mating season. He's aggressive, he's charging at me, he brought me to A&E and what's more distressing: he's hurting himself. Jumping against the glass, furious tail whipping, biting, etc. My arms look like I've failed a few suicides, his rather sharp claws leave bloody scratches.

You might now think: Oh, I'm getting a female, then. Well, you better put some money aside, because they are prone to have difficulties during breeding season, too. Mine laid eggs every year, even without having a male to mate with (apart from 2.5 years), and we went to the vet every single year to get the eggs out of her. Though she laid about 35 eggs, there were always some that wouldn't come out. If they remain inside, it can lead to an infection and finally death. After a few years with the same trouble, I had her sterilised. The insurance excludes breeding season-related claims, so it's a long and painful process for the animal and an expensive one for the owner.
Females might be friendlier in general, but I've heard from other iguana owner who get bitten, whipped and hissed at. I was rather lucky to have this enormously friendly and cuddly animal. And yes, she often would crawl onto my lap and fall asleep.

When I mentioned aggression issues to people I got the strangest suggestions and to be frank, I was shocked. The suggestions ranged from putting blue tack onto this claws, filing his teeth, pulling the claws, cooling down the temperature in his vivarium, not feeding him, finding him a female to 'mate' (he'd probably just bite her to death) or even to give him away. That's when I'm really really glad he's with me. Of course I'm annoyed with him once in a while, but more because I'm worried about him. It's not his fault, he's a wild animal who didn't choose to live with me, I chose him. I have to accept, that, for a longer period (can last up to three months) I have to be extra careful and try to handle him as little as possible, first to not stress him and second it's safer for me. If you want to see how hefty bites can be, google iguana bites, there's a very graphic video from some fingertips that came off (ouch), even I couldn't watch it and I had my fair share of injuries.

I've heard a lot of people saying, "Yes it's just because the iguana doesn't like their owner." I cannot agree with this statement. I've had three, all three had a complete different personality. My first iguana was the friendliest and exceptional iguana in the world, adored by everyone. The first male, I described above, he was mistreated and didn't trust, but I got him there, though he was also an alpha male and attacked the next owner. Zorro is by far the most aggressive I've ever seen during mating season. Though he's never really tame, there are times when he is up for a good head rub, but I need to be on alert at all times, one wrong move and the finger's off.
My female, she passed away after a hefty operation three year ago.

Cuddly iguanas are rare, aggressive ones are more the norm. So don't be fooled by anything others tell you, especially not shop assistants. Males become very strong and big, Zorro weighs 11pounds and is about 4'9". I have my difficulties handling him alone. Since he's bumped his nose a lot, I'm giving him painkillers daily (oral) and injections of antibiotics every three days. Examining him isn't easy since he won't sit still, either, he's head bobbing or he's moving around. As soon as I get closer and try to go near his snout, he'll bite wildly. I'm trying, though, I need to keep an eye on his snout.

I hope I've opened your eyes a little bit more about keeping these wonderful creatures. All I'm trying is to raise awareness so that less people buy them or if they do, that they commit and don't get rid of them because they become difficult. They are animals who depend on your TLC.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another award for me

No, not for being the best iguana owner in the world, but a Stylish Blogger Award.

Thank you to the lovely Charmalot, who kindly gave it to me. It's always wonderful to have the hard work you're doing appreciated.

The rules state you have to share seven facts about you:

1. I don't own a telly nor a stereo.
2. I'm not a morning person.
3. I've got different coloured eyes.
4. I hate balloons. Can't stand it when they burst.
5. I get rather weak in the knees when I meet Chinese men.
6. I usually miss my calls because my mobile is always on silent.
7. I have a knack for tanks. I'm weird, I know.

I will seek out ten people in future, to give the award to. Be prepared, I might just pop by your blog next :-)


And here some flash fiction I wrote for a contest last year:

Never forgotten

It was as if it had been yesterday. I remember every little detail. His expression pure sadness, warm brown eyes on me, filled with moisture. He fought for dignity, though I could see a small twitch of his lips and knew he'd not be able to hold it much longer. That's when I turned and left.
I didn't want to, but my tears built a steady stream, gathering on my neck and eventually ended in my scarf. Heavy sobs made it difficult to breathe. But I ran. If I didn't get away as quickly as possible, I might not have been strong enough. Though I wanted to go back, I knew I couldn't.
From the second I had given him the last kiss, I missed him. Missed him so much, that it hurt. So much it was unbearable. My lips still burned from his passion. The sweetness of it never left my memory and night after night I replayed the moment in my dreams.
I felt his arms around me forever. It was so real, I said I loved him aloud, hoping he would answer. We were so happy, his voice seemed so real each time we spoke. Soft, calm and youthful. I could listen to him for hours.
His humour made me laugh so much. Sometimes, I wondered why we were so happy, so full of life, blessed with love. I didn't find an answer. I guessed it was fate that meant well for us. That's what he used to say when he took my hand into his, then gently blew a stray lock out of my face.
Beautiful hands that still caressed my body, familiar with every inch of it. I would sigh and run my fingers through his thick dark hair. It smelled wonderful; he smelled wonderful. With one swift move he'd take me into his arms and I would press myself against his body. My safe place.
How much I longed for him. Every single feature stored in my mind. I clung on to it like a baby monkey on its mother's back. Not willing to let go, in an attempt to keep each detail as real as possible. I lift my head and smile. After a year, it feels as if I never left.
And I laugh, and I cry, and I run � into his open arms.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Teaser of the second book of Stella's rants

I've been asked if there's a second book following the success of Excuse me, where is the exit?. The answer is yes, I've not run out of rants. Yet. I've collected about 17 ideas and will see how they transfer into a story. This is the first draft of the first story which will be corrected before publishing. Connected to my recent accident, here's what I've observed, of course, with the usual exaggeration.

Enjoy :-)


Where zombies go at daytime

You are hungry, so you go into the kitchen, sharpen your knife and get to work on the peppers � and, very unfortunate, your fingertips. �Ouch!� you mutter annoyed and run your bleeding finger under cold water. Not that it makes any difference, but it can't do any harm, can it? You switch from the coloured water to the half-prepared dinner and curse another time, then wonder how to tackle the way from the kitchen into your bathroom without unnecessarily decorating the floor.
A few quick steps, hand under the injured finger, and you reach the bathroom with your massive stock of plasters, creams and bandages, antiseptic lotions, sprays and anything else you need to do a surgery at an open heart. If only it would help stop the bleeding. After what felt like sixty minutes of holding your arm over your head, a tissue firmly pressed to the wound, you resign to the fact that you need to see A&E. Splendid, you think. Nothing better than spending a few amusing hours in a hospital's waiting area.
The cut wrapped up with a makeshift bandage and off you go. A short bus ride later, you arrive at your destiny. The rather unpleasant member of staff behind the desk isn't impressed you dare to interrupt her typing a text message into her mobile phone and barks her questionnaire at you.
Name?� You give her what she asks for.
Date of birth?� Can I lie? You shift uncomfortably from one foot to another. And eventually whisper your answer. She repeats it loud and in a firm manner. Thanks for that!
One look at the heaps � supposed to be people � reveals, you are the main attraction and since they are so bored with waiting, even information about your bowel movements will entertain them. When she's finished interviewing you, she says what you hoped not to hear, �It's quite busy, take a seat, someone will call you.�
With a deep sigh you nod, then walk over to sit amongst the half-dead and moaning living. The only available seat is next to a guy who has his arm tugged to his chest, looking as he needs a cuddle and a lollipop. Behind you sits what seems to be an entire Indian family, five generations, taking up seven seats talking loudly and laughing. When you throw a quick look over your shoulder you wonder who of them is in need of treatment, they look all more than chirpy to you, and another assessment reveals, they have all their limps. You shrug and turn your attention to your iPod; at least you can drown the busy chitter chatter. But a minute later, paramedics wheel in an elderly man, who looks more on the brink of death than anything else, and park him right next to you. Guess the doctor orders only half a loaf from now on. With distaste of this half-zombie you lean to the side, when you're smacked over the head.
�Oi!� You turn around to stare at one of the children behind you, smugly grinning and waving with its plastic animal. They really need a sign outside: �Dogs and children have to wait here�!
Just when your anger about the rude behaviour peaks, they all get up to swarm around another family member who's just appeared, wearing a cast. Ah, you think, here's the missing link. In this moment a woman, guided by her boyfriend or maybe husband takes the family's place behind you, he's clutching a cardboard bowl, she's clutching her tummy. Oh please don't vomit into my back! You never know if it's food poisoning and you're not keen on combing scampi out of your hair.
Doctors and nurses head from one end to the other and you and the people in the waiting area move their heads as if they're watching a tennis match. Your name's called and with your hopes up, you pipe a �here�. It's one of the nurses who came to assess if you're an urgent case or not. When she reached out to remove your bandage, you hiss at her which makes it apparent you're not in danger to lose consciousness any time soon. With no chance of getting out here in the next fifteen minutes, you rummage in your bag and dig out a cereal bar. When you are about to rip it open, the half-zombie next to you gurgles and splutters, making you cringe. Probably best to just call the undertakers.
You put the bar back into the bag and get to witness the conversation between the nurse and a Polish woman in front of you.
The woman nods.
�Can you tell me what happened?�
�No, no, I don't know, hurting, it hurting.� Iwona weeps and points to her foot.
�How did you do it?� the nurse tries again.
More pointing and then, �I'm scary!�
You have severe problems to stifle a laughter, for Iwona doesn't give the impression to make good money as a bogy. To not hear any more, you put the head set back into your ears and are able to relax, still internally shaking your head about this madhouse. Thankfully, the half-zombie is wheeled away and you can sit straight in your seat.
�Help! Help!� A cry, louder than your music rips you out of your trance and you look up. A young guy, followed by three others, shuffles towards the desk, his hand pressed to a blood-soaked shirt.
�He's been stabbed, he's been stabbed. Man, this guy just came and stabbed him,� one of the followers rushes out an explanation. Everyone's eyes are on the scene which reminds of a crime flick. Immediately, he's guided through the right hallway, where the heavier injured people are treated. A middle-aged man appears to mop the floor, everything's back to 'normal'. Another person lowers himself next to you, pale, moaning and rocking back and forth. You don't even want to know what his problem might be.
Eventually, your name is called and you walk into the room with many chairs and a few curtains closed. A friendly, but clearly overworked doctor comes to see you. Removing the bandage, which, by now, sticks to the wound hurts and you don't care if the whole hospital can hear you and let out a loud whimper. The doctor tries with humour, but it fails, you're in pain. He takes a thorough look at your finger, then orders the nurse to do the dressing. You're lucky, everything will heal fine. When the nurse comes in, she proves that a smile can hide an evil personality. Not taking prisoners, she grabs your finger and presses as if she wants to take out all her anger at it. You feel as if your eyes pop out and shriek,�Ouch!�
�Well, I have to do that in order to stop the bleeding.� And I just want to kick you!
You breathe heavily, breaking into cold sweat. Oh no, please, I don't want to pass out.
She takes a quick look again, then it's back to torture. �You all right?�
What do you think? �Yes,� you say, suppressing a curse.
How did you do it?�
As if small talk helps, you think but answer her question.
She peeks at the wound another time, it's still bleeding, but she decides to dress it. Another harsh moment of pain and you're willing to murder her. Two minutes later, you're ready to leave this horrific place. Outside, the sun is going down. When you arrive at home, you throw the vegetables, together with your finger cuts into the bin and dial the number of your favourite take away.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A gorgeous and fast snack: feta cheese with cherry tomatoes

Often, I have a lust for a savoury snack, but instead of reaching for the packet of crisps, I'd rather do my own. I love cherry tomatoes and I love feta cheese. They are best friends and a light little something you can enjoy with a glass of white wine. Choose something stronger, dry, like a Sauvignon Blanc, for example or a Pinot Grigio, a Sancerre or Chablis. Chardonney, which is one of my favourites, might be a tad too fruity and they wouldn't compliment each other.
Of course you can also have a light red wine or rose, it's down to your taste.

It's a snack you can prepare easily and store in the fridge, so when have a visitor, you'll always have something to offer.

You need:

Feta cheese
Cherry tomatoes (if possible vine riped)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Tarragon (fresh if possible)
Thyme (fresh, if possible)

Dice the feta cheese and cut the tomatoes in quarters, chop the herbs and add, then drain it all in the Olive Oil. No salt needed, the feta is salty enough. You can add chili, it's up to you.

If you have it with wine, serve with slices French stick. Enjoy :-)

Mix all thoroughly and let it marinade. If you expect visitors, prepare at least an hour prior serving.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm a proud iguana mum and my other babies do well, too.

First off, my finger is healing well, and I can type without being in pain, which is a great relief. So it's back to writing. I've started the second book of rants, topic-related, of course.

Tuesday, I took Zorro to the vet who was rather in awe about how much weight he put on and, more importantly, how much he's grown. The iguana, that is. He was full of praise for my big boy, said I've done a really good job looking after him and that I should continue this way. According to the vet, he's in tip top condition, well, apart from his nose. I think a bit of bragging is in order: everyone, including vets and nurses, who looks at my dragon, is in absolutely smitten, saying he's really beautiful. And he certainly is.

Sleeping beauty

I was glad I could take the iguana home again  - without surgery. I have to give him painkillers daily and injections of antibiotics every three days. Tomorrow's the first and I'm not looking forward to it. Though I'm used to giving him injections, he's much bigger and stronger now, I'm injured, too and if he struggles too much, there's a danger of breaking the needle and that's certainly not what I want. And the skin at the root of his tail (where I usually inject as it's the most painless for him), is rather hard to penetrate. So wish me luck.

Further on, I've gotten some wonderful reviews for No Wings Attached as well as for Excuse me, where is the exit? which, by the way, has been in the top 100 humour bestseller charts since its release and it's showcased on Daily Cheap Reads today. Here a few comments from twitter, the amazon forum and even from Jason Matthews's wife, who jumped into the camera while we spoke about formatting and brainstorming ideas, yelling the following: "Stella! I love your book, I really do, it's amazing."

Sue B. says: (No Wings Attached)
Stella, I read your book and I enjoyed it. Write some more.
We readers are getting demanding, aren't we?

Colin Macaula:(Excuse me, where is the exit?) 
Awright, I was going to wait till I finished it but I have to tell you I am PISSING myself at EMWTE. Best 69p spendable.
Just the funniest thing I have read in ages. Had to change knickers. More power to you. X
Men love stuff like that, they just won't ever admit it. If I ever meet you, I'll deny it.

Nancy Eady:(No Wings Attached) 
I am about 1/3 through it and am enjoying it immensely. I don't have the time to read it through at one sitting like I want!  and today on twitter:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Run, Stella, run!

(I apologise profusely for any tense issues, they are my weakest point.)

Saturday, 8.25am. What could be better than standing at a bus stop waiting for...well, the bus not to come? The digital announcement said it's due in 1 minute. Wow! Good timing, I thought, a smug smile on my face, not knowing it would be wiped out soon enough.

The tube I would normally take, was suspended, so I had to rely on the other line and change. Where's the fucking bus? I got more nervous with every bus passing that wasn't my number. The announcement changed and 1 minute became 17. Dammit. I cursed and ran to the train station on the other side of the road to see if I could catch a train, but it wouldn't have made any difference, so I ran back to the bus station.
Now there was me, plenty of ways to get to Victoria, but no vehicle in sight. Wonderful.

Eventually, the bus came and I was already worried about missing the flight. Especially when I took a closer look at the boarding pass which said 'Gate closes at 11.20am'. Oh shite!

Upon arrival at Victoria I realised I had forgotten to note down the reservation number for the Gatwick express. I texted my friend Bobby my email log in to send me the information. He didn't answer his phone, so he probably didn't see my message either. I ran to their office and got my tickets, but the next train left at 10.45am. I hoped and wished for the flight to be too late, but finally on the train, I had the feeling it wasn't going to end well.

I know Stansted like my own home, but Gatwick is a different animal; I had no clue there's a south and a north terminal. When I asked a member of staff where the flight to Duesseldorf left, he sent me to the Easyjet-people. And I ran, my bag over my shoulder, my passport and boarding pass in hand, blond hair waving in the steady stream like a flag.

You have to go to the north terminal, there's a free shuttle, you might even make it.� Great! The idiot sent me the wrong way. And I ran again, out of breath, wheezing, sweating and pissed off.

In a complete mess, not even able to speak anymore, I stormed toward an Easyjet person who pieced together my staccato sentences and took me to the desk. The flight was late, five minutes, but I wasn't on it. They wouldn't even call the crew, just told me I could book another flight which was scheduled the next day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Please, don't hurt me!

Because I'm more than capable of doing that to myself. This time: chopping off a fair bit of my fingernail with the nail bed included. Silly, really.

I was about to prepare some stir fry and for some reason, I didn't pay enough attention and it was done. Pressure bandage on, bleeding stopped, stir fry cancelled and grilled sausages instead. Because it was late in the evening, I went to bed early. Next day, I took the bandage off and it wouldn't stop bleeding, so I went to A&E (ER), also to be assured that everything will heal just fine.

Today, I had an appointment to get the dressing changed. Problem: the bandage stuck to the dried wound. Brilliant, I thought. Not! I knew they're going to hurt me and they did. And, the most ridiculous thing happened: I needed to lie down; broke into cold sweat and felt sick. Very funny, when I think back, but they obviously thought I'm not right in the head. I apologised profusely and went, head down, out the door.
I wonder when did I become such a wimp?

I remember to have had both of my big toes broken (stumbled down the stairs in high heels), what did I do? I cycled home, taped the toes, put on some trainers and went back to work. A few years ago, I left the house to go to work, fell over and broke my elbow, heard it crack, yay! I knew that was bad news, but I went to work and got sent to the surgeon. And I've also torn my ligaments (ankle) three years ago, couldn't walk, but I didn't go to the A&E. It's only when blood is involved that I'm going mad. And I'm not even screamish.

Well, what annoys me most is that posts like this take awfully long and my deadline for the sequel of No Wings Attached is pushed back even more. I'm a touch typer, so without all my ten fingers I'm basically lost. But I'm trying my best. And there are still some positive notes:

I've been a guest blogger on Rachel's site, talking about the journey of No Wings Attached and the lovely Michelle had another short story, The Dancer, showcased on oceanbluepress.
And an interview with We Do Write

Thank you to the threee of them, they are wonderful supportive people. If you are a writer, please check out their blogs and get in touch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Zorro the red nosed dragon

Rudolph is supposed to have a red nose, the iguana not so much.

Zorro's in mating season again and as a result has jumped against the glass a few times. He sees his reflection and thinks it's an intruder and as a result, he's ended up with a red, bruised, hopefully not inflamed nose.

 Quite good to see the pinkish colour. It needs to be monitored as iguanas are prone to abscesses when they repeatedly hit/rub their noses against hard things. It's a little swollen and also deformed from the abscess he had last year. Vet says, it's not going to be normal again.

Male iguanas tend to become very aggressive in mating season, especially towards female owners. He also jumps to attack me. Which means I have to be double observant around him. Mating season comes relatively sudden and I noticed he's less interested in food (greens), but still likes his treats (raspberries, blueberries and bananas).


Here, the nose from the front. The little dot at his mouth is a piece of blueberry. They shouldn't get too much of it, but I give him fruit so he's not loosing too much weight. He stopped eating wild rocked, would only nibble at coriander and turns his (red) nose up mint. Things he usually rips out of my hands. I spay more and also try to get him to drink while doing so.
Only do this if you are an experienced keeper. They are very fast and bendy and their bites can take off your finger. He's a very big boy and has massive jaws that are extraordinarily strong.

Here a few signs to recognise iguana's mating season:
More active
Displaying more aggression
Less appetite
Jumping against the glass
Jumping at you (yes, happened, I opened the vivarium to clean and he jumped straight into my arms.)
Often even more head-bobbing with attempt to jump at you.
Following your every move.
The signs of mating season go as sudden as they come.

I've got bubble wrap and newspapers from inside the glass now. So he won't see me or his reflection. I will have less to look at, but it's better than having him back to the vet. Saves both of us stress and me the money.
I'll watch him closely and hope the swelling will go down. Up to now, no signs of an abscess, but I can only hope it stays like this.

A quick word of caution: if your iguana displays these symptoms, but won't even touch treats, or he has a swollen mouth/nose. Please consult a vet if you're unsure, it might well be that he's in pain and will need urgent treatment, often surgery to remove the abscess. 
Iguanas are eating machines who can eat you alive. If they stop eating, it's serious, unless they are in mating/breeding season. (Carrying females will drink more and stop eating in their last couple of weeks, but getting bigger. They should be monitored, too, in case of laying complications.)

If you have any questions, please e-mail me or post it in the comment section, if I can help I will answer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blogging isn't just sharing, blogging is an art

When I started out with blogging, I was rather reluctant. I didn't know what to write and why I should do it in the first place. Having an online diary and sharing it with the world didn't appeal to me. I thought, who'd be interested in my life anyway? I stopped writing in diaries as a teenager and only had two in my life. But after a few posts and months later, I will admit it grew on me, I gathered a small following, found my blogging voice and I loved to share my experiences with the iguana. There are a lot of people coming to my blog, mainly searching for answer regarding aggressive iguanas or tail injuries and I'm so glad they find me, because you can't find anyone more passionate about those wonderful creatures. Or, at least, I'd like to think so.
Readers will find information about my books and plenty of excerpts to judge my writing, and writers, well, writers possibly find that we have a lot in common. Oh and many people seem to like Spaghetti Bolognese :-)

Now, it's been a little while since I received a versatile blogger award and I said I'm going to continue with this tradition of handing it over to other versatile bloggers. It's been difficult to choose out of so many wonderful blogs, but I found them and I'd like you to take a look at the ten I chose:

Congratulations to the lucky winners, you've created wonderful blogs for people to enjoy:

L. A. Shaw
Carolina Valdez Miller
Jackie Buxton
Kathryn Brown

Please check them out :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to make an author cry

As authors we are like delicate flowers, if you nurture us, we flourish, if we feel neglected we... well, we probably write. We write to entertain, us and mostly the readers. There is almost nothing better for us than for our books to be read and get positive feedback. Our biggest fear is to receive feedback saying "I hated this book, what a waste of time!" Especially when the person belonged to the target audience, that really hurts.
 Up to now I was extremely lucky to have gotten only positive feedback on both of my books, which makes me all warm and fuzzy as well as aware that somewhere out there will be the slap in face, lurking, just waiting to jump at me. 

But for tonight, I shed a tear -- of joy. Although I knew she liked the book, I didn't know how much. Before I began with my last edit, I searched for Beta-readers. I knew I had to fix some things and I sort of had lost my passion for No Wings Attached; she searched for chick lit, I offered her mine. She accepted and read it, then came back with a few minor suggestions and that gave me a real kick into the backside, because she is my target audience. Slightly younger even and I think if she liked it, there might be a good chance others might as well.

I can't hold it back for longer, here is the beautiful review:

No Wings Attached
I was given the chance to read this prior to its release after responding to a post in the kindle forum. At the time I had flu and I'd said to the author that it'd be a while before I had chance to let her know what I'd thought because I wasn't up to reading. Well, as it happens I loved this book so much that I zipped through it, with all thoughts of ill health banished to the background which says it all really. I just couldn't stop reading it! The chapters were short and snappy, making you want to read 'just one more' chapter each time and the characters really drew you in. As it is essentially a chick lit novel with only slight paranormal overtones, it reminded me a lot of Cecelia Ahern's books, so I recommend it to all of her fans. A great summer read! 

Thank you, Alice. Comparing it with Cecilia Ahern is a great great honour as I adore her stories.

And Gayle, who helped me proofing the book, has done an equally great job of making me cry!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another interview with me

Yay! I've been interviewed yet again. One thing that many people aren't aware of, is the incredible hard work that involves self-publication. Not only do you have to edit and polish your book to perfection, you also have to do the cover design and formatting.
Once it's published the next part follows and that is marketing and promotion. You have to shout the publication of your book from roof tops, but there are many authors shouting already, so where to find the rare occasions where you have your very own spot?

Well, researching and finding book reviewers and blogs that showcase indie authors. Incredibly time consuming, but also a lot of fun. You get to talk to wonderful people and together, you help each other.

Shawn, who's running and indie author blog is having the interview with me up today, please feel free to pop by and say hello. If you're in indie author yourself, get in touch with Shawn, he's lovely.

There are plenty of sites, you just have to find them. And you need time, many review blogs are up to their eyeballs, so be patient, they're doing it all for free and for you, they author. Also, help them, post links, make some waves, that's the least you can do for getting a great spot on their blog.

Every little helps, they say :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The importance of a book cover

My novel No Wings Attached will be out soon. Originally I had planned end of May, but some unforeseen things happened and it's delayed. My sincere apologies if you are waiting, it's not going to be long anymore, promise.

Part of the delay is me being picky with the cover. Though some say, the cover is not important, it's what's inside that counts, I tend to disagree. Being a visual person myself, covers are the first that catch my eye, giving me a clue of the genre; then the title and after that the pitch (text on the back of the book). If all three fit my mood, I'll buy. If I'm not sure, I'll sample.

So the cover is important, why else do publishing houses have a marketing team that also decides on the cover? I usually have a very clear idea of what I want. Unfortunately, I'm not designer and that shows when speaking to people who are supposed to translate my ideas into covers that swoon me. Difficult, as I'm a difficult client.

I drew the first few covers of the book in Paint. A hard job and took ages, but I was pleased as I was able to see my ideas form into something visible. Of course I wouldn't be able to use it when actually selling the book. Thinking back, I went through all kind of covers, some I liked a lot, some I didn't.

My almost final cover is this:

We will tweak it a bit more, but the girl's perfect. Celia is 32, funny and warm-hearted. The book's a light-hearted romantic comedy with a paranormal twist. A bit like Bridget Jones meet Charmed.

I hope you'll like the final cover as much as I do and find yourself lost in the story, forgetting for your daily troubles for a while.

You can read the opening here:

No Wings Attached will be avaible on kindle and smashwords and later via POD.