Saturday 30 June 2018

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Val Portelli

I'm delighted to welcome author Val Portelli back to The Hippo today with a fabulous guest post with a how-to-guide about self-publishing.

                                                  How to self-publish 

Run out of tissues and no fingernails left after waiting for responses from publishers?

Never fear. Self-publishing is here. You’ve already done the hard work in writing the darn thing so it’ll be easy. Right?

First thing to do is restock the tissues, arrange for a daily delivery of chocolate and wine, and realise you will be spending months glued to Podcasts from thousands of experts, giving conflicting advice as they explain how easy it is.

Formatting, page layout and indent sizes will invade your dreams, if you have any time left to sleep. What’s little known is that self-publishing is the world’s best diet as meals become a thing of the past, apart from the chocolate of course.

Remember typewriters? If you do, have the number of a laptop repair person handy. Swipe on an IPad and swipe on a typewriter have different meanings. If you try to use the non-existent big sticky-out thing on the right-hand side of your computer, this will result in it ending up as a shattered mess on the floor.

Note to self: Add hair restorer and house cleaning person to the claim for Indie author expenses.
Formatting for Kindle? Delete all spaces, then spend days deciding whether to insert page breaks, next page, section breaks or continuous page breaks. You will also need a week to discover where these are on your computer, especially if you are using Windows 10. Part of the fun is finding them under the most unlikely tabs, just to confuse you and ensure you are paying attention.

Now to enter page numbers. Not as simple as it sounds as you don’t want numbers to start at one, which is the designated page for your book title. Your actual manuscript will begin around page twenty, after you enter the dedications for everyone who has assisted you so far. Acknowledgement of my name, together with links to my books will take about ten pages. You are welcome to use the remaining space for the contribution by next door’s cat.

Now you have page numbering under control you can go back and delete it all. Kindle allocates its own numbers depending on whether you read in portrait or landscape mode. You also need to take into account whether your prospective reader is in a single or double bed, has a partner who snores, and if they are reading in a south or north facing direction.

The next bundle of joy is inserting a table of contents. A brief pause while you have hysterics and that’s even before we consider inserting links. You will now realise you haven’t thought about a cover, blurb, pricing, territory or genre. Time for a break.

About five years will do while you take university degrees in accountancy, graphic design and marketing. You will also need to study the tax requirements of different countries, in particular whether they have reciprocal arrangements with your home country. (If you live in the states give up now.) Legal proficiency is a must. Best to make this a priority as by the time you understand all the implications of GDPR it will have been replaced by other regulations.

 Your expected income will be 60% of net sale price, less tax, less delivery and advertising costs, less the price of print cartridges and paper, less wine bill (not a legitimate write-off expense,) less bank charges and exchange rate fluctuations. From this you will realise to produce an income of 1p/1cent per book, the price will need to be set at approximately £520. Unfortunately, Auntie Amazon only allows a maximum sale price of approximately £300, and you are competing with a gazillion 99p or free books.

Now for the paperback. Forget everything you have learnt so far. Here’s where the ability to stand on your head and read upside down is particularly useful, as you learn how a physical book is constructed, with a back cover and a spine which is not needed for the Kindle version.

One of your degrees might come in handy here as you work out the spine size relative to the interior and exterior margins, cut offs and bleeds, whether the person (or robot) slicing the book had a good night up the pub, or an argument with their partner, which might make their hand shaky. Don’t forget left is right and vice versa, and the actual size of your book will depend on font and preferences for tall thin ones, short fat ones or something in between.

Now that wasn’t too difficult was it? The next stage will be to tackle marketing and networking. Excuse me for a while. Before beginning the next tutorial, I need to reassure these men in white coats that I’m an author and totally harmless. Now, where did I leave that bottle? Cheers.

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                                                     Author bio

Photo courtesy of Val Portellli

The author’s pen name Voinks began many years ago. It started as a joke when a friend bought a holiday home abroad, then gradually spread through the family, so it was an obvious choice when her first book was published.

Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known Women’s magazine, she continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy.

To save her sanity she completed and had published her first full length novel. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before deciding self-publishing was the way to go. In between writing her longest novel to date at over 100,000 words, she publishes weekly stories for her Facebook author page and web site.

She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’ From having too many hours in the day, she is now actively seeking out a planet with forty-eight-hour days, to have time to fit in all the stories waiting to be told.

She is always delighted to receive reviews, as they help pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.

Val's latest book is called Weird and Peculiar Tales. It's a collection of short stories, some written by Val and others by fellow author Paula Harmon. 

Housework fairies, strange events, dragons, unicorns and alternative fairy tales; there’s something for everyone in this unique collection of short stories.

Ranging in length from succinct teasers to longer narratives, the characters mix and match to provide a roller-coaster of emotions. The variety of styles and themes will keep you intrigued until the final ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’

Or did they?

 You can find out more about Val, her books and connect with her using the links below:


Friday 29 June 2018

Bob the Dog: The Memoirs of Evil Bob Terrier - CBX Martin

As a book blogger whenever an author follows me on Twitter, the first thing I do is go and take a look at their book/books, well come on, you wouldn't expect anything else from me would you?

So when author CBX Martin very kindly followed me I went straight to their profile and saw the little cutie on the book cover above. My next stop? Well to find out more about Bob the Dog: The Memoirs of Evil Bob Terrier naturally and here's what I found:

A terrier, an industrial estate, two strangers.  Lives collide.

The surprising memoirs of a devilishly-handsome dog.

You’ve read fluffy tales written by humans about how a dog helped them with this or that nonsense.  

Well, this is my tail, oops, tale, setting things straight from my perspective.  You humans are just food providers and pooh picker-uppers.  Get over it.  And get reading my true story.

The fun can start now: I’m here. Evil Bob - the self-service guru of life

This book contains profanity

‘Profanity’, of course there’s profanity - I’m a terrier! Evil Bob

 Probably been said about Bob and his memoirs:

‘I don’t approve.’ A vet

‘I didn’t know a book could teach me so much.’ Ted, Jack Russell

‘Bob, he’s all action-packed-and-ready-to-go.’ Rich, mohican punk

‘So that’s the !!!!! who bit me!’ Errol, Staffie

‘He left me with eight pups, but I still love him.’ Daphne, saluki bitch

                                        *    *    *   *

Bob is a terrier who has clearly been living by his wits on an industrial estate and he's become an expert at stealing food from unsuspecting humans.

One day, however, he lets his guard down and ends up in a land rover with a couple called Ian and Josie, watching his comfortable life disappear out of sight, when all he wanted was a sausage roll!

Bob doesn't need the 'new home' that these humans keep banging on about, he was doing very well where he was, thank you very much and the sooner he can escape the better and he does make several attempts, some of which are more successful than others. He has lots of adventures and makes so many friends - and a few enemies along the way.

Bob made me laugh out loud and I can honestly say I didn't want this book to end. Author CBX Martin is very obviously a dog lover and to write a book completely from a dog's perspective is not only a clever idea, it's executed perfectly. Bob is a four legged, furry fiend and as I was reading I was right there inside his head. I could feel his fear when he was unexpectedly taken to the vet's and no-one had the decency to tell him why he was going there, I could feel his frustration at not being able to get hold of the cat that was parading up and down his fence, taunting him, as well as his annoyance with the 'fluffy windbag' of a dog next door who was an easy target to wind up and who was of course asking to be bitten - after all Bob was only protecting his loved ones!

If you have a dog and find yourself often wondering why they do a particular thing, then Bob can probably provide you with some answers, or at least a little insight into their thought process.

Bob the Dog: The Memoirs of Evil Bob Terrier is a unique, original and heart-warming tale - or 'tail' to quote Bob himself - and an absolute gem of a book that I honestly can't recommend highly enough, not only to dog owners, but to everyone who loves dogs. It will make you laugh and it may even bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat. Everyone needs a little Bob in their life and I'm sure that he'd love to meet you - you might have a spare sausage roll!

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I'm absolutely delighted that CBX Martin has taken some time out of their busy schedule to hang out with me today and I'd like to welcome them to The Hippo.

                                                      Author bio

Photo courtesy of CBX Martin

As a person, I’m no more fascinating than anyone else, it’s my characters and my writing which hold interest - I hope.  I love dogs, obviously, and most animals.  I have a need for motorised speed and satisfy that need by watching motorsport.  If reincarnation isn’t a myth, I’ll move heaven and earth to get my fingers on an F1 steering wheel in the next life.  Knowing my luck, I’ll probably have to settle for racing stock cars instead - but that would still be thrilling.  My main driving force in this life, however, is a need to write and I hope it always will be.  I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing Evil Bob Terrier’s true story with readers.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated writer/book?
While he’s very popular in some circles, mention the name Saki to many people and you’ll get a blank look.  He should be as well-known as P G Wodehouse, whom he preceded.  Saki was the pen name of H H Munro, and, while the adopted name is not a twist on the word sarcastic, it would be sweetly appropriate if it was: Saki’s writing is frozen acid.  Brilliant, sharp, witty prose all succinctly dropped into short stories. They are laugh-out-loud-or-I’m-going-to-choke funny.  One of the best lines, which I often think of in relation to my own attire, is a description of a character’s home-made, and presumably very dowdy, dress: ‘made at home and repented at leisure’.  How many times have I repented a choice of outfit, even if not home-made?  Well, too many times to admit.  Another favourite story of his features an ‘unrest-cure’.  I won’t spoil your delight at reading that, but, trust me, it’s a gem.  Another semi-well-known writer is Stevie Smith.  In her poetry, she shared something of Saki’s bleakness and joy.  Well worth seeking out.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if it’s ‘interesting’ or not, or even a quirk, but I can, and do, write pretty much anywhere if the mood takes me.  Sometimes, something comes to mind and I just have to put it on paper.  So, I’ve written scraps of notes, chapters, character outlines, etc, on crowded trains, in the car (while someone else is driving!), in waiting rooms - any old place will do.  If the thoughts come, a writer just has to give in to them - within reason.  If I’m driving, I just have to ignore them and concentrate on the job in hand.

What’s your favourite motivational phrase?
It basically goes something like, ‘OMG, there’s another bill to pay, I need to make some money!’  A common problem, I know, but one which strongly motivates me.

Which literary character is most like you?
I’d love to say Cathy in Wuthering Heights, but that would be ridiculous: I’m probably more like Nelly Dean.  As I like to tell the stories of others, Nelly would be the most appropriate character.  And I’m certainly not in the least bit like Cathy!  Or I could be a cross between Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect (in female form), from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Both have imperfect clothing; Ford is adventurous - hopping from planet to planet - yet tame; ordinary Arthur has inter-planetary adventure thrust upon him, but bravely makes the best of it - in his dressing gown.  I’d like to think I sit somewhere between those two characters.  And my dress sense is little better.

You get a brilliant idea/thought/phrase at an inappropriate moment (eg in the shower or driving) what do you do?
See above: I write anywhere.  But when the inspiration strikes at a silly time, such as in the shower, I just have to keep the thought active in my mind - determinedly not thinking of anything else - until I can get to civilisation, otherwise known as pen and paper.

What advice would you give your younger self?
For pity’s sake, forget all about writing: it’s so hard to make a living.  Get a nice job sweeping the streets, or something - there’s more security (people always need streets and like to drop lots of stuff on them) and it probably comes with a pension.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from?
Where did my love of storytelling come from?  Presumably God given?  In other words, I was born with a need to craft a story.  Well before I could form words on a page, I would tell stories to my mum and dad, dog, aunties, basically anyone who would listen.  Once I could write, I was in my element: composing poems and short stories.  Even as a small child, I loved to get inside a character, to understand him or her, and convey my impressions of that hidden life, particularly in poetry.

Do you have any bad habits?
My life is full of them, so too numerous to list.  My main bad habit is that I’m always trying to cram too much into each day, so I end up running late at times, or burning the candle at both ends - which is never good.  I’ll try harder to change my ways.

Thank you Neats for inviting me to feature here - I’ve enjoyed answering the questions: it’s been fun.  Thank you, everyone else, for taking the time to read my post and I hope you’ll enjoy reading Bob’s book.

Thank you so much for stopping by today, it’s been great chatting to you and I wish you lots of luck with your wonderful book.

You can find out more about CBX Martin and connect with them using the links below: