Wednesday 30 January 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Bob Goddard

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with fellow indie author Bob Goddard.

Bob Goddard is an author, journalist, publisher and very occasionally a poet. He has interviewed Barry Sheene, ridden the Isle of Man TT circuit and the old gold-miner trails of New Zealand. He has blogged and lectured on Moon colonies and been guest speaker at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow. His books have been read in nineteen countries, including most of the largest and some of the smallest on the planet. According to his critics, his writing has ‘a cinematic quality with complex characters, sparkling dialogue and breath-taking action.’ Bob lives with his wife Viv in Norwich, UK, and in Paphos, Cyprus. 

What kind of books do you write?

Two adventure travel books recounting hair-raising and hilarious rides with my wife on a pair of motorcycles. The first through the wilderness of New Zealand and the second across Europe to the Black Sea. 

Plus two (soon to be three) epic space adventure novels with twin storylines. They are set on Earth aboard a wooden sailing ship in 1504 and on the Moon in the near future.

Plus – coming soon – a collection of 12 short stories featuring unusual twists of fate.

Can you describe your writing why?

I have a passion for storytelling. Once the characters start chattering in my head, I have to let them tell their stories or they’d drive me nuts. Woven between the lines are important issues affecting the future of humanity, so I feel obliged to air them in print. 

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

They arrived at the departure gate and a bored middle-aged woman held her hand out for Ktrina’s papers. 
“You the one that crashed yesterday?” She barely glanced at Ktrina’s black and blue face, bandaged wrist or walking stick.
“No, I always look this good.” Ktrina couldn’t help herself. The grin hurt her face.
“Bwahahaha.” Darryl doubled over with laughter. When he straightened up he said, “Maisie, I heard you ask some dumb questions, but that one takes the biscuit.”
The woman was smiling now. She handed Ktrina’s papers back. “Well, I hope you have a better flight today.”
“Thanks! I hope so too.” 

Tell us about your latest project

The Dark Side Of Mother Moon, sequel to Mother Moon, reveals a whole new aspect of our nearest neighbour and the people who live there. While our heroine, Ktrina, is battling outrageous odds to uncover a vital truth and avenge the death of her husband, on Earth a teenage lad is wooing a young mermaid and helping to salvage a sunken sailing ship. Their radically different paths will cross, with unforeseen consequences for all of humanity.

This latest in the Mother Moon trilogy is available in paperback direct from the publisher and as an Amazon kindle ebook.

What is your favourite cake?

My wife, Viv, makes a delicious fruit cake, using an ancient New Zealand recipe. It uses corn flour (amongst others) which gives a sublime texture, plus dried fruits, cherries, cranberries and walnuts. Mmm, I’m drooling at the thought of it. Here’s the recipe: 

Ingredients: 1½ tablespoons cornflour, 230ml water, 450grm fruit (sultanas, cherries, cranberries, nuts), 225grm butter, 250grm sugar, 3 eggs, 375grm self-raising flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice.

Boil cornflour and water, then cool. Cream butter and sugar, add the eggs, beating well, then cornflour mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Turn into 9 inch round tin lined with greaseproof paper. Bake at 160 degrees C (320 F) for approx. 1hr 15 mins or until test skewer comes out clean. When cool, this cake not only tastes divine, it slices perfectly too! 😊 

Oooh thank you for the recipe Bob! You can't beat a nice slice of fruit cake.

Keep up to date with Bob's writing at his website - Timbuktu Publishing.

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Richard Stephens.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Tuesday Poem - The Boy's Not Well

It started with some tears outside my bedroom door
I tried not to sigh too heavily as my feet hit the floor
What's wrong I whispered, trying not to be cross
But all he could do was whimper, I was at a loss

Come in come in I whispered trying not to wake the baby
Hoping against all hope she wouldn't hear us, maybe
What's wrong I asked again and again but all he could do
Was sob and gulp and retch so that was my sickness cue

I let him lie down at the bottom of the bed
So that he had a chance to rest his weary head
That might not sound exactly loving to a child
But to say he sleeps like a ninja octopus puts it mild

We woke at seven crying for water
Still no sound from my little daughter
A temperature of 103 gave my little man the shakes
Hot skin to the touch and desperation as he bakes

Forcible administration of medicine was needed
A bucket at the ready in case of upchuck fielding
So far so good but the temperature is still high
I can kiss all my days plans a cheerful goodbye

The littlest one is pottering about happily
The boy is still feeling particularly crappy
Hopefully, this bug is just a 24-hour thing
And tomorrow he'll bounce back with a bing!

If you'd like to support my future writing endeavours, you can buy me tea and cake.

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Sunday 27 January 2019

Things We’ve Learnt About Self-Publishing

A discussion between badgers

CH Clepitt and Claire Buss are both indie authors who have self-published over twenty books between them as well as co-editing and publishing an anthology but who use different platforms to get their books published. They run the Sparkly Badgers Facebook group for writers as well as co-host #sparklybadgersunite on Mondays at 9pm GMT.

Claire Buss (CB): This is a timely discussion as I am currently hiding beneath a rock, trying to pretend the mistakes I made publishing my books don’t exist. This isn’t working very well.

CH Clepitt (CHC): What platform did you use?

CB: Apart from The Gaia Effect, all my books have been published via Amazon’s KDP platform which I have to say is fairly user-friendly and straightforward once you have your files already formatted.

CHC: Why is The Gaia Effect different?

CB: The Gaia Effect was published by New Generation Publishing. They are an independent publisher, dedicated to helping indie authors self-publish. They do all the formatting for you as well as sorting out your book cover and getting the book into all the online places - Amazon, WHSmiths, Waterstones, Nook, Kobo, Apple Store and Barnes & Noble.

CHC: Why haven’t you used them for the rest of your books?

CB: Because it costs around £400 for a standard package and I won that as part of a book writing competition. Everything after The Gaia Effect has been my own journey of mistakes.

CHC: So, why have you made mistakes?

CB: Because I didn’t understand how to format my books properly. The thing about KDP is that it doesn’t have a default setting so that all books are published equally. It gives you options and if you’re not exactly sure what those options will result in, you can make mistakes.

When you are preparing a book for submission to an agent or publisher, there are certain formatting requirements that you must adhere to such as double-line spacing. But you shouldn’t publish your book in that format. It sounds so obvious when I type it out in black and white but hey, no-one told me KDP wouldn’t automatically correct my formatting so, I have a few… shall we say uniquely formatted books.

CHC: Surely you can change them now?

CB: You’d like to think so, wouldn’t you? But it’s not quite that simple. I also made mistakes with the sizing option for my early books, thinking that the first option would be the correct book size in the UK. It’s not. However, once you’ve uploaded the book and made all your choices, you’d better be 1000% sure you’ve made the right decision because you can’t change it. Ever.

CHC: Ouch! 

CB: You also cannot amend the book title or series details so you’d better make sure those are exactly what you want them to be. You cannot pantser your way out of this. I mean, yes, you can remove the book and republish but then you’d lose all your reviews and we know those things are rarer than hens' teeth.

CHC: Do you use KDP to format the book before you print it?

CB:  No, they have a preview function, which is handy for seeing some mistakes, especially in the Kindle version. KDP have their own style guidelines which, once you adhere to, produce a clean digital book. However, you have to watch out for paragraph wraps from one ebook page to another because sometimes they split naturally and sometimes they do not. So yes, you have to check it page by page.

For paperbacks, they do provide a template with pre-set style settings to ensure your word document fits into book format but again you have to check every single page (seriously, why wouldn’t you??) as you cannot rely on the pre-set template to convert your original document correctly. I often have issues with fonts changing randomly mid-way and again, the same issue with split paragraphs.

The more often I go through the process though, the easier it becomes and the more I learn. I’m still kicking myself about the formatting issues with my earlier books though. Each one looks better than the one before so sooner or later I’m going to crack perfection and then I’ll go back and sort the others out. 

What about you, CHC? What do you use?

CHC: I use Lulu and Smashwords.

CB: What is Lulu?

CHC: Lulu is a PoD (publish on demand) platform that allows you to produce your books for sale. You have lots of options. You can make them private and just order them for yourself, friends and family, choose to just sell them on Lulu, or assign an ISBN and have the option to have them distributed. This will automatically get them sent out to online bookstores, and physical bookstores will have the option of ordering them, but you will have to persuade them you’re worth it, as they only have limited space, unlike the online versions.

CB: Why do you use that and not something else?

CHC: When I was first looking into self-publishing options in 2011, the big 2 were Amazon (Createspace) and Lulu. You could also use Lightning Source, but for Lightning Source you had to provide your own ISBN, and in the UK you can only buy those in blocks of 10. As I didn’t know how many books I’d be publishing I didn’t really want to invest in 10 ISBNs. And ISBN is the main reason I chose Lulu. At the time I was publishing (and I don’t know if this has changed since) they gave you a free ISBN, which meant you could get your books distributed to other platforms. Amazon only gave you a barcode, so your book wasn’t officially listed in Bowker (sp) or available anywhere other than Amazon. I also read that they recycled theirs, which meant if someone unpublished a book, the barcode could be reassigned.  I have used Lulu ever since because I really like them. There are a number of sizing options for your books, they provide templates for you to paste your text into and you can see exactly how it will look on the page because they have a converter so you can look at a PDF of your book before you publish it. They offer volume discounts and there is usually an offer on, such as free shipping or 20% off. The customer service teams are really helpful (apart from the time they thought I’d died - long story), and in general, I would recommend them over other platforms. 

CB: What tips do I need to know if I decide to start using Lulu?

CHC: My tips for using any platform you are unfamiliar with would be to read the style guide. I know this may seem long and boring, but it will save you time in the long term as you won’t need to keep redoing it. I also always make my books private initially and order a proof, so I can check that I am happy with the quality of the product I am selling. Also, if you approve your book for distribution, you then can’t edit it (you have to publish a new version) so make sure you are happy with what you are putting out there.

I also use Smashwords.

CB: Me too! I’ve used that for my ebook only book and I’m going to go wide on there with my poetry books and collections of short stories.

CHC: Do you think you ought to explain what going wide means?

CB: Yeah, probably. Going wide means having your book for sale in more than one place. When you use Amazon’s KDP service, your book gets uploaded to Amazon - which is great - but that’s all. It will not appear anywhere else unless you upload it onto another platform like Smashwords, Draft2Digital or IngramSpark. Going wide means you are not dependent on just Amazon for your sales and your books are reaching more markets, therefore more readers. But there is often a cost involved and it’s definitely more work. When starting out lots of authors just rely on Amazon in the beginning.

Okay, your turn CHC. Tell us about Smashwords.

CHC: I will, but first, Draft2Digital? IngramSpark? 

CB: Right. Draft2Digital is a platform that handles the formatting of your books for you. You upload the original manuscript, they do the rest. It’s free but they get 10% of any sales. You can also use them to get mobi files of your manuscript which is ideal for ARC copies and giveaways.

“IngramSpark is the world’s largest wholesaler of print and electronic books to independent bookstores, bookstore chains, internet retailers, and speciality markets, as well as other wholesalers. They distribute to more than 39,000+ retailers, libraries, schools, and distribution partners in 195 countries. IngramSpark combines the power of Lighting Source print-on-demand with CoreSource®, our e-book distribution platform, to offer self-publishers a single platform to manage all their print and electronic titles.” And yes I did copy that from their website. There is a cost involved with IngramSpark but it’s a one-off fee per book title. 

CHC: Can I talk about Smashwords now?

CB: Go!

CHC: Smashwords is a PoD platform, like Lulu - but for ebooks. You can also publish ebooks through Lulu, but I never have, so I can’t talk to you about those.  When I first started publishing Smashwords was new, and it and Amazon were the two main options for self-publishing ebooks.  Smashwords provides you with the free ISBN and distribution.  When I started out they did not have a distribution agreement with Amazon, so you had to publish there separately. This has now changed, but I would still recommend publishing there separately if you have the chance, as you get to take home more profit.  What it is worth keeping in mind, is that whilst neither Smashwords or Lulu claim to be your publisher (you are the publisher), if you use one of their free ISBNs they are listed as the publisher. I don’t think this is a big deal if you are an indie, but if you are setting up your own publishing company, it will be worth investing in some ISBNs, so that you are listed as the publisher, as it looks more professional.

CB: How straightforward do you find Smashwords?

CHC: Not very, unfortunately! That is one of the main reasons I was exclusive to Amazon for so long. The formatting for getting into the premium catalogue is very complicated (read the style guide, folks, read the style guide). They also only accept a doc (not doc.x), pdf or epub. If you create the pdf or epub yourself, the meatgrinder tends not to enjoy it very much, and you end up with lots of formatting issues which were not in your original document. The best option in terms of creating a clean file, and being accepted into the premium catalogue is to upload a doc, which means that if like me, you work on a Chromebook you can’t create the file. I also have a Mac, but creating a doc through Pages also does not agree with Smashwords for some reason, so you really need to create through a Windows machine, which is annoying. Fortunately, I can borrow one, and now I am used to it, can format for distribution really quickly, so it’s not hard, but a bit inconvenient.

CB: What do you think are the benefits of Smashwords?

CHC: The benefits of Smashwords are free ISBNs, and distribution. Also, you can create discount codes which you can make public or private, so you can give away verified purchase review copies to bloggers or prizes for competitions. You can also run sales on your page like “50% Off” or similar. 

CB: I haven’t really gone wide yet but I am planning to, on some titles. Why did you choose to go wide?

CHC: For a very long time I didn’t. I was exclusive to Amazon, but they are so huge, and their Kindle Unlimited platform (where authors commit to 3 months exclusivity to Amazon) is basically trying to force other retailers out of the market. Whilst this is obviously good business sense on the part of Amazon (being the only option means people have to buy from you) it is very limiting. Not everyone wants to shop on Amazon, and as indies we should support smaller sellers. If Amazon becomes our only publishing option, it can start taking more profit, reducing our income, other rights, and we can say nothing. The wider we are, the more choices both we and the readers have. Going wide makes good business sense.

CB: What would you change about Lulu or Smashwords if you had the chance?

CHC: The main thing I would change is that I would prefer to be paid by direct transfer, rather than Paypal. Amazon pays by transfer, and that’s much easier. For Lulu, I would also prefer the option of British bookstore sized books, as American ones are really big, and I only write novellas. That said, I have started using the pocketbook size, and that’s really cute! 

CB: So what do you reckon is the one thing people need to remember about formatting?


CB: Haha! You’re so right.

CHC: I cannot emphasise that enough. And make sure you check your file on an e-reading device (or if you don’t have one get someone you know to). Your original doc may look lovely, but it might have converted weird, so check it. The last thing you want is some snotty reviewer making a comment about your formatting *ahem*.

CB: My advice would be to make sure you have plenty of tea and cake on hand for formatting your book.

CHC: I think it depends on how much experience you have. I can now get through the entire process cake free. This was not always the case…

CB: I am in awe. To be fair though, I can’t really get through the day without cake! Good talk badger. Let’s do it again sometime.

C H Clepitt has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of the West of England. As her Bachelor’s Degree was in Drama, and her Master’s Dissertation focused on little known 18th Century playwright Susannah Centlivre, Clepitt’s novels are extremely dialogue driven, and it has often been observed that they would translate well to the screen. Since graduating in 2007, she gained experience in community and music journalism, before establishing satirical news website, Newsnibbles in 2010. In 2011 she published her book, A Reason to Stay, which follows the adventures of disillusioned retail manager, Stephen, as he is thrust into village life and the world of AmDram. Clepitt’s feminist fantasy, The Book of Abisan not only crosses worlds, but confuses genres, and has been described as a crime drama with magic. She has often said that she doesn’t like the way that choosing a genre forces you to put your book into a specific little box, and instead she prefers to distort the readers' expectations and keep them guessing. Her 2016 work, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse does just that, as just like the characters, the readers won’t know what’s going on in this laugh out loud satirical scifi.

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with her debut novel, The Gaia Effect. This set her writing career in motion and she continues to write passionately whilst being hopelessly addicted to cake. 

If you'd like to support my future writing endeavours, you can buy me tea and cake.

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Friday 25 January 2019

Tales from the Seaside Goes Audio

The award-winning Tales from the Seaside, my second collection of humorous short stories, has been recorded into an audiobook thanks to the wonderful narrative talents of Helena Little. The book won a place in the Best Indie Book of 2018 Top 50 list by

Tales from the Seaside is a humorous collection of short stories reflecting on life by the seaside, attempts to successfully wrangle two small children, and the result of being inspired by the sun, the sand, and the sea. The perfect beach listen, it will have you chuckling in your deckchair.

Helena has a wonderful voice bringing warmth and humour to the audiobook. You can listen to a sample on the Amazon page for the audiobook. Just click Audible Sample located beneath the cover artwork.

The reviews for Tales for the Seaside have been great, readers have really enjoyed the eclectic mix of stories so I really hope you enjoy listening to the audiobook version. 

Tales from Surbubia is also available in audiobook so you can listen to the pair of them and decide which one is your favourite.

If you'd like to support my future writing endeavours, you can buy me tea and cake.

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Eileen Troemel

This week I am delighted to have a slice a cake with fellow author Eileen Tromel.

From poetry to novel, Eileen enjoys telling a good story or expressing a heartfelt emotion.  She’s been published in Circle Magazine, The American Tarot Association's Quarterly Journal, What's Cooking America, Children, Churches and Daddies, placed second in Words of Women 2010 Writing Contest, 2012 Daily Flash, and The Deadman’s Tome.  She has a bachelor's degree in business and a second bachelor's degree in English Professional Writing and Book Editing. On the side, she has a small editing business. In addition to her work, she loves to read, crochet, crafting, research genealogy, and spend time with family. She has three adult daughters and has been married to her husband for over 30 years. 

What kind of books do you write?

I write whatever takes my imagination whether this is based in space or a completely made up society or the here and now - doesn't matter. I'm usually drawn by an idea or a character or a setting.  My middle daughter asked for a space book which led to me writing my Wayfarer series. As soon as she read the first one, she said okay what's next. This led to a series of 18 books and 1 prequel. In Dragon Lord's Mate, I wondered what it would look like if the societies who did the raiding to gain women and goods stopped raiding but still went out for spring rites. It's a book which took a completely different turn for me.  

Can you describe your writing why?

The voices in my head... I always say my characters speak to me. I've told stories since I was little. I fell in love with writing and creating stories when I was eight. I take a what if and turn it into something which I hope others can enjoy. Not writing is not an option.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Oh favourites - that's like asking me to pick a favourite kid.  

Wayfarer - which is the one my daughter asked me to write. There's a point at the beginning of the book which Decker the main male character has to hire Adara the main female character. He doesn't want to for lots of reasons.  

He turned back to her. “Thank you, sir. I’ll see to it you don’t regret it.”
“Just sign your contract and be there by 1700,” he said. He knew he’d just hired trouble.

Tell us about your latest project

Wayfarer Resolve is my latest release. It's the culmination of the series so this is a bittersweet book for me. I loved seeing where Adara and Decker ended up, which is not where I thought they were going to end up.  

Prejudice and bigotry destroyed the human society, Decker and Adara face more of it in Wayfarer society. Between the humans only group who consider humans a superior race and bigotry within the Wayfarer clans, Adara must be Mathair Naclan - mother of the clans. She learns to take control and stand firm behind her decisions which follow beliefs from a range of races including her own heritage of human and Wayfarer. The bigotry threatens the most vulnerable of her family. Can they find a way to peace or will the prejudice tear apart the connections Adara and the Wayfarers are making?

Here's a little snippet:
“We need to make an announcement,” Adara said. “Word will have gotten out. It might cause unrest especially with the protestors and the other problems. I thought we were putting bigotry behind us but it seems to be following us.”
“Maybe we need harsher punishments for some of these things,” Rhia said. 
“I don’t want to overreact,” Adara said.
“You don’t want to under react either,” Rhia said.
“I’m really tired of having to think about every reaction, everything I say,” Adara said.

What is your favourite cake?

I'd rather have pie but if it's cake - spice cake with cream cheese frosting.  

For those baking along, here is a recipe for Autumn Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

You can connect with Eileen on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Visit her website and check out her books on Amazon.

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with Bob Goddard.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Tuesday poem - Words, Words, Words

Why do we like words so much?
It's something we can't even touch
But we love to use them every day
In every unique and different way

So many ways to say hello and goodbye
Ask hundreds of questions, find out why
Chat to parents, speak to your mates
Keep on talking till it gets late

Use social media to spread them afar
Don't need to keep any in a jar
Just when you think you're going to run out
You'll find some new ones with plenty of clout

Let them tumble around in your head
Think about them while lying in bed
Try a few out, tap a few keys
Use them whenever you please

Your words are yours, they're just for you
Recycle old ones, create something new
A word here, a few more there
Words, words, words - everywhere!

Sunday 20 January 2019

5 Reasons Why I'm Not Writing

I adore my latest writing project. I love the characters and the setting. The idea makes my brain fizzle - in a good way. And yet I am struggling to put words down. I have a few reasons why writing is so difficult at the moment.

1. Kids
Adorable bundle of cuteness (ABC) keeps waking up at 4 - 5am which is just peachy. ABC then goes full pelt all day long until crashing at 7pm. She may or may not wake up seventeen million times during the night. This repeats. Day in, day out. So when I do get to sit in front of a computer screen, nine times out of ten the eyeballs start drifting and the hands go limp on the keypad. I've been known to delete emails I wanted. Annoying.

My darling boy (MDB) is a treasure, with a mouth that never stops working asking the same question at least one hundred times before moving onto the next. And there are the trains. And the continual requests for food. And the cars. And the constant channel hopping (thanks Daddy for telling him how to use the remote). 

Then mix the two together - yay! (I must say I do love them both dearly and would never be without them however they do not allow for any writing time)

2. Netflix
It's not my fault. Auto episode roll on means I don't have to move. 

3. To-Be-Read List
Goodreads is a wonderful enabler to a book lover. You get to add books to your want to read list when you see them in a magazine or someone recommends it or you happen to fall into a bookshop. The series hyperlink means you won't miss any books and can add that entire 12 book fantasy collection to your very small, hardly worth mentioning, over 5k TBR list.

Then my fellow indie authors keep writing great books that I have to add.

Then there are books on the craft of writing that I have to read.

Plus the books from the three book clubs I belong to. What can I say, I love books. 

4. Social Media
Not only is social media a huge drain on a person's time when they're not using it to promote their books - and before you shake your head at me, you know I'm right. How many times have you lost an hour to scrolling without realising it? There are notifications, updates, regular posts, shares, likes and a myriad of other things to keep up with. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - I love my job. It's just that at the moment I'm social mediaing and not writing.

5. Sleep
Gosh darn it that pesky shut-eye just won't go away, will it? The less you get the harder it is to function, the more you get the more tired you feel, at first anyway. I often fall into bed thinking of all the things I haven't done and get up in the morning groaning at all the things I need to catch up on. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love my life. I love my hubby and my kids and sometimes I even love being so exhausted I can't even think straight. But I'd really, really like a bit of writing time to work on my next book. If that's alright. You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop

Wednesday 16 January 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Bill McCormick

This week I am delighted to have a slice a cake with fellow author Bill McCormick.

Bill began writing professionally in 1986 when he worked for Chicago Rocker Magazine in conjunction with his radio show on Z-95 (ABC-FM). He went on to write for several other magazines and later transitioned to blogs. He wrote a sports blog at Jay The Joke which was featured in ESPN (The Magazine), Sports Illustrated, on the Jonathon Brandmeir Show (WLUP), and referenced many times in local newspapers including the Sun Times & Tribune. He still writes a twisted news blog at World News Center which provides source material for his weekly appearances on The Big Wake Up Call which airs on WBIG 1280 AM, FOX! Sports. Yes, you read that correctly, he does a show about anything other than sports on a sports radio station even though he has written extensively about sports.

In 2011, Bill started submitting some fictional short stories to various publishers. Much to his surprise, and the consternation of linguists everywhere, they began publishing his efforts. Bill has expanded his repertoire to include comic books, graphic novels, and full-length novels. He has currently penned everything from dystopian nightmares to cuddly children's stories.

Bill is a big fan of nicotine, vodka, music, and this rambunctious redhead (formerly a bottle blonde) who keeps waking up in his bed.

What kinds of books do you write?

I like to take complex topics and write about them in the simplest way possible. For example, the social implications of genetic mutation could take up an entire library. I whittled that down to about 300,000 words and people seem to still be able to understand it. In my short Janet Callahan, which was featured in Genesis Magazine, I wrote a single paragraph about the logical ramifications of religion. An entire planet killed themselves so they could go to heaven. I have had hours-long conversations with people at cons about that paragraph. 

Oddly, as dark as all that sounds, I use a lot of humour in my writing. I like taking the reader down winding roads with unforeseen scenery. Just because I know the eventual destination doesn’t mean I want them to.

Can you describe your writing why?

The critters in my head were taking up too much space so I had to let them out. Plus, I’m still a kid at heart. Some see a pencil, I see a rocket ship, or a submarine, or a space drill, or whatever strikes my fancy. If I didn’t let it out and write it down I’d probably be in the corner of a padded room drooling on myself.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Worlds can change on the tiniest thing. History, written by the winners, tends to edit out the minutiae and record the broader stories. One item historians would edit out happened now. Which is a shame, because without this event the rest would never have happened.

Nature called, and it was Sland’s turn to answer. It was almost even-fall, and they could hear the survivors setting up camp on the shore. They’d decided to wait until breaklight to see who was alive and in charge and then figure out their next move.

Sland cared about none of this, although he was aware of it all. He just wanted to find a quiet tree and loose his bowels. He walked a considerable distance from their camp, found a suitable tree, and was just finishing with the last wiping leaf when he heard a harrumphing sound behind him. He slowly rose while pulling his pants up and turned. He was faced with a nice array of weapons, any one of which could kill him instantly. He finished buttoning up, and realized that this might be his last moment on Arreti. If so he wanted to go out with a laugh. He stood as tall as he could, expanded his chest and bellowed.

“I am Sland, prince of the Temple of Azarep, blooded warrior of the Brittle Riders. I have come to Kalindor to meet Quelnerom in ritual battle for the throne.”

Yep, that should be good for a laugh. He smiled as he gently stepped away from the steaming pile and waited to be executed. Instead, some of the weapons waggled for him to move forward and others waggled for him to put his hands above his head. He complied with both wagglings. 

They did not remove his weapons. His gun was still holstered on his thigh, and his sword was still sheathed on his back. His many knives were still hidden all over his body. Not that he saw any way of using them without being killed, but he noted it since it was odd that he still had them. 

They led him to the shore and into the middle of their makeshift camp. He could see they were all wet and tired. They didn’t look good at all. Of course, being blown out of a perfectly good ship and then swimming a kay or so to shore will do that to a brand. 

He assumed the reptiloid wearing more feathers and glitter than the rest was Quelnerom. He was dry and reasonably unruffled, so Sland figured he must have ridden in one of the longboats he saw dragged up on shore. He’d only heard him depicted, but this brand seemed to fit the description. One of his captors reeled off his bona fides as he’d given them and then they all stepped back a respectful distance. 

Sland chuckled to himself. He sincerely doubted that Quelnerom would follow through with anything other than having him killed where he stood. Well, it was fun while it lasted. Quelnerom stood and stared at him.

“You carry a sword. Is it for decoration or can you use it?”

Sland was astounded. Geldish was going to kill him if he survived this.

Tell us about your latest project

Well, The Brittle Riders trilogy has been repackaged into a single book, a/k/a Omnibus Edition, for release in the U.K., and, hopefully, the U.S. It’s the happy story of the death of every man, woman, and child on the planet and what happens next. I actually kill all the humans in the preamble so they don’t clutter up my story. Since I had a clean slate to work with I wondered what elements of human society would live on in the creatures who remained. I figured some religions, or pieces thereof, would remain; some methods of trade and commerce; and some forms of governance. Then I had to figure out if those disparate entities could ever work together. Of course, if the answer was yes I wouldn’t have much of a story.

So I ended up with a six-foot-tall Christian cockroach, an Islamic mutant cow, a pagan reptiloid, and, of course, a Gnostic Cyclops, all of whom were brought together by an atheistic skeleton. It makes sense when you read it.

Which you should.

What is your favourite cake?

Although I’m more of a pie person I love a good Irish Apple Cake with Custard sauce.

Sounds delicious. For those baking along, here is a yummy recipe for you to try.

You can connect with Bill on his website, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with Eileen Troemel.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop

Tuesday 15 January 2019

Tuesday Poem - The Craft

When trying to write a poem that rhymes
You need to make sure you keep some things in mind
Iambic pentameter is an important tool
As long as you follow every rule

To get better with your creative craft
You try to write words that will last
Wracking your brain for the perfect word
The one that will make your voice heard

Sometimes it's best to just let it all go
Trust yourself, let the words flow
Write about whatever is going on in your brain
And maybe your world will never be the same

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop

Sunday 13 January 2019

10 Things I Want To Do In 2019

1. Decorate

We moved into our flat September 2017 and so far we've managed to sort out the bathroom (the door still needs finishing). Now, a distinct lack of funds and a poor grasp of DIY might be two of our greatest stumbling blocks but this year is our year! I cannot continue with an orange ceiling in my hallway. Yes, you read that correctly and no it's not pale. The extensive hand painting of trees, fairies and a rather large peacock in the kids' room needs to go. It was lovingly painted about fifteen years ago but now it needs rollering.

So, the plan is patch up the cracks, magnolia the walls and buy new curtains. We can totally do that in eleven months. 

2. Roller Skate
I have my grade one and two roller skating qualifications and I'm talking quads here, not inlines. I used to work as a skater at a supermarket and I loved it. Last year, hubby bought me some skates which was amazing. Somehow I haven't had a single moment to put them on and try them, apart from on the day of my birthday when I looked like Bambi on ice and I was scared. I couldn't skate anymore! 

I will get out there on the promenade and I will go from scaredy-cat to mostly looking like I know what I'm doing.

3. Read my 112 indie author books
Somehow I have managed to amass a rather fine collection of indie author books. I'm so excited at all the different stories and the beautiful book covers but a little daunted at the number of stories that have piled up. This year I set myself a reading goal of 100 books so even if I don't read any of the books from the three book clubs I belong to (ahem) I've got a very healthy selection to choose from. It's only two books a week. More or less. Totally doable.

4. Bake more cakes
This needs no explanation.

5. Buy some shoes
I own two pairs of trainers. That is the sum total of all my footwear. No boots, no heels, no sandals. Definitely no flip-flops. I do have two weddings to attend this year plus a hen night I am very much looking forward to so footwear of some kind or other is required. This means I have to do several things I don't enjoy - go shopping, spend money on myself and be a girl.

6. Have a date night
This goes with the shoes. I think. I'm a bit rusty. 

7. Write more
I spend a lot of time berating myself for not doing as much writing as I think I should. If I have a spare hour, nine times out of ten I'll do something other than writing and then feel guilty for the rest of the day because I didn't do any writing. I've tried establishing set times but with two small children that is difficult to stick to. I tried to be flexible but that fed into the whole I should be writing guilt cycle so now I'm mostly floundering. 

It's annoying because I know what I want to write and the book I want to work on is mostly formed. And that elusive perfect writing moment will not suddenly appear around the corner. There is tea though. And cake.

8. Be more decisive
Maybe this should've been the first thing in the list??

9. Play
I was listening to a podcast about the importance of play. Tragically I have forgotten the name of the podcast and the speaker BUT the core concept of his topic has stayed with me.

When was the last time you laughed for the pure joy of it? Had a board games night? Did something just for fun? Sometimes I wonder if I've forgotten how to laugh. 

10. Sell books
I am a writer. I adore writing books. I want you to read mine and enjoy them. 

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop