Cloudy Skies and Collages

Creating with collage!

Fran's Collage - July 2016

I’ve recently been reunited with all my collage material. It is pure joy to haul all the brown envelopes of magazine pics out, dump them all over the table and get busy creating. Collage is a wonderfully creative and therapeutic activity. Give it a try if you are trying to work something out. Whatever comes out of the process is bound to be enlightening.

Special Offer – A Chance to Read Stuart Campbell at a Discount!

An Englishman's Guide to Infidelity cover - updated                             The Making of Martin Mooney cover

The Making of Martin F. Mooney is free from July 15th to the 19th. An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity is on sale for 99 cents on July 17th.

Here’s your chance to read a couple of books by a great author at a significant discount.

Let’s get to know Stuart.

Stuart Campbell author photo 2

Stuart Campbell began writing fiction in the eighties, but was diverted by the need to earn a living; those early literary efforts lie – thankfully – deep in landfill somewhere near London. After exiting the world of academia he restarted his affair with writing fiction in 2011. His first novel ‘The Play’s the Thing’ is a satire set in Bandicoot Ridge, a mountain village in Australia which finds itself at the centre of a bitter political battle. It has been revised and republished in 2016 as ‘The Making of Martin F. Mooney’.

He switches the setting to England for his second novel ‘An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity’, a black comedy about middle-class morality gone wrong. His third novel ‘Cairo Mon Amour’ is a story of espionage, betrayal and love during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Publication options are under discussion for ‘Cairo Mon Amour’.

Stuart is a member of the ‘Write On!’ writers group in Sydney, which recently published the paperback anthology ‘With Gusto!’ An introduction by Stuart’s alter ego, the late Raymond Saucisson, editor of Charcuterie Monthly, is included.

Stuart Campbell author photo 3Stuart was formerly a Professor of Linguistics and a Pro Vice Chancellor at Western Sydney University. He has published numerous books, chapters and research articles in the areas of translation studies and Arabic linguistics. Stuart holds the title of Emeritus Professor. Born in London, Stuart has lived in Sydney since the seventies.

 

 

Now, a closer look at Stuart’s books.

An Englishman's Guide to Infidelity cover - updated

Title: An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense and more than a bit of wry humour

Description: Jack Walsingham’s comfortable life is under pressure. With his bookshop going broke and past indiscretions catching up, Jack begins to dabble in embezzlement. Meanwhile, his wife Thea, frustrated by a dead end in her career, is experimenting with some genteel theft of her own. But soon the couple are out of their depth, blackmailed by a figure from the past and implicated in two grisly killings. Their salvation comes in the form of Detective Sergeant Fiona Salmon, a recently widowed book-loving gym addict on the edge of an emotional melt-down. A bizarre triangle develops, in which Thea, Jack, and Fiona each find their own version of redemption in the face of betrayal and infidelity. An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity is at once a psychological thriller, a crime mystery, a dark comedy, and a love story.

17 Amazon.com Reviews with an average rating of 4.8

My Five-Star Amazon Review: A highly enjoyable mystery that plumbs the depths of human foibles

People see the world through very personal and often flawed lenses. A good author gently leads the reader into a character’s thoughts and actions. At some point, the reader is forced to question the character’s take on what’s happening. An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity, proves Stuart Campbell to be particularly deft in his ability to create unreliable narrators.

The book opens with Jack and Thea, busy parents, a typical couple, as they prepare for a dinner out to celebrate their wedding anniversary. It isn’t long before it is patently obvious that dark currents lurk beneath the surface of both these people. By the end of the first chapter any illusions of normalcy are long gone. Thea is an ethics professor who lacks ethics and Jack is relating that there are ten university degrees among his fellow group of inmates awaiting trial at the Remand Center.

And so the reader enters a roller-coaster ride as the author moves deftly from Jack’s perspective, to that of a young police woman who struggles with her own issues when she is pulled into a murder investigation, to Thea’s. It isn’t long before the reader comes to see that not one of these characters can be trusted.

The writing is smooth and delicious. A couple of old people move like a pair of flapping galleons; a father speaks like a piece of stainless steel medical equipment, when he speaks at all; an apartment is sparsely furnished with desperately modern pieces and abstract paintings that veered between the decorative and the sadomasochistic.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, a mystery that unfurls with just enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing right to the closing pages.

The Making of Martin Mooney cover                                    

Title: The Making of Martin F. Mooney

Genre: Satirical, literary fiction

4 Reviews on Amazon.com – all five stars!

Description: Professor Martin Mooney is nudging fifty. His record of questionable liaisons with female students is catching up with him, and the book that was to seal his reputation has flopped. He’s ready to leave academia for the next battleground – politics. In the high country inland from Sydney, Australia, his on-and-off girlfriend Lana is fighting a Herculean battle to retain her parliamentary seat. But Martin’s scheming triggers a vicious political intrigue in the tiny hill town of Bentwood Ridge: Will the village end up with a terrorist training camp or a gigantic liquor warehouse next to its community theatre? Can Bentwood Ridge survive the forces of good and evil that are closing in as the election approaches? And will Martin choose love over betrayal in his quest for political ascendancy?

My Five Star Review: A superbly crafted novel that will have you laughing out loud!

“If it works it works,” she said stroking an old cat with a pink tumour on its head. “But if it doesn’t, well, the plays the thing.” And thus, Violet, the chain-smoking, oddly-dressing, Bandicoot Ridge community theatre director sums up the point of this book.

Stuart Campbell’s book, The Making of Martin F. Mooney, is a must read if you like well-drawn characters that come off real enough to be your rural neighbours, hilarious and kooky plot twists that will have you laughing out loud and a satisfying ending that ties it all up with equal doses of irony and sentiment.

I won’t ruin any of the fun with lengthy plot synopsis or character spoilers but I will say, there is a sock-you-in-the-gut realness about this book that will have readers shaking their heads in recognition – we know the type and we’ve been there! Now, maybe the community play we attended didn’t end with the cast being sprayed with pig’s blood and maybe our small town isn’t divided between the meditation whistlers and the meditation chanters but truth is often stranger than fiction and I’m betting many a rural dweller can come up with equally bizarre situations.

Case in point – a group of elderly tourists make their way to the community theatre only to be stunned that they won’t see a production that had been put on two years ago – they had gotten their information from a poster in town. This is the type of small town situation that rings so true it simply cannot be faked.

Not only is this a novel with delicious plot twists, fall off your chair hilarity and deeper social meaning – it is a highly crafted work that other authors will enjoy while applauding points of style. Campbell handles the art of ironic wit with just the right balance. He makes point-of-view shifts between characters seem absolutely seamless. The reader is never jarred.

In conclusion – the reader participates in this novel just as the Bandicoot Ridge audience does, “… with joy in that infinitely complex and incomprehensible distillation of human interaction – the theatre.”

Please check out Stuart’s books, The Making of Martin Mooney, and, An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity. You won’t be disappointed by the price or the quality.

Why Anthologies Are Like Buses

I’m very excited – while I’m off filling my days with holiday fun – to have this opportunity to share Debbie Young’s post with you. One of my short stories is also part of the Out of the Shadows collection. Enjoy.

DEBBIE YOUNG'S WRITING LIFE

A quick shout-out for two fun anthology projects in which some of my stories are featured – and National Flash Fiction Day (today!)

Photo of rag rug Story anthologies, like rag rugs, are much greater than the sum of the parts. (I made this rag rug too!)

I’m a big fan of short story anthologies, which serve as a sampler of the work of different writers, usually offering one story from each of a number of authors.

NB An anthology is a different animal to a collection, which features the work of a single author, e.g. my short story collections Marry in Haste, Quick Change and Stocking Fillers.

View original post 500 more words

Celebration of my 100th Review

Leonardo - Bruce Witzel photo

I’m all about celebrating. Disappearing in Plain Sight has garnered 100 reviews on Amazon.com.

The gathering of a three-digit number of book reviews has required patience, a large dose of humility and acceptance.

Before my BookBub promotion in March, I had almost given up on the whole review process. Disappearing in Plain Sight had been out for three years and the novel had generated thirty-three reviews. Most of those were hard-fought solicitations from book review bloggers. The type of review that is often lengthy, discusses setting, characterization and point of view. Some of those reviews read like assignments for a literature course. Book review bloggers rock!

With a radical increase in the number of people reading Disappearing in Plain Sight, a new type of review has emerged. For a starter, I’ve had the one and two-star variety. News flash – not everyone likes my work. These reviews keep the whole process real. Authors who have sold a number of books inevitably have a handful of less-than-stellar reviews.

The positive reactions more than compensate for the slight sting of the above mentioned reviews. A soul-searching novel about relationships, loved the intertwining of lives, this book makes you think and that’s a good thing and my all time favourite – can’t wait to read the next in the series!

What has captured my interest is the different type of reviews I’ve gathered up on the way to the big 100. Much shorter, these reviews zero in on personal satisfaction or lack thereof and are written as if the reader were simply telling a friend what they thought of my book. They are gut reaction to a reading experience.

A variety of reader reactions is exactly what is required to promote a book. Many book buyers are looking for the short, overheard conversation reviews. Others want the literature assignment type preview before committing to a new author.

I appreciate every one of my 100 reviews and want to take this opportunity to thank all the readers who took the time to share their reactions to Disappearing in Plain Sight.

THANK YOU on speech bubble price labels

Any Fool Can Know–Wednesday Wisdom

Smoke Bush - Bruce Witzel photo

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Albert Einstein

A few days ago, my granddaughter and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. I pointed out a particularly lovely Smoke Bush that was in full bloom. I told Britney how much I love the dusky colour and the way the feathery purple spikes really look like smoke coming from the bush. She nodded wisely, taking it all in the way she does.

Brit's new sweater - Guenette photo

When we were out yesterday, I saw her point out a Smoke Bush and tell her mom, “Grandma loves smoking bush.” Hmmm … I suppose that could be taken a few different ways. Then again, the point is to understand.

Smoke Bush 2 - Bruce Witzel photo

How Marketing Can Smother the Creative Muse

Foxglove - Guenette photo

Not to be overly dramatic, but attention to a successful marketing strategy can quickly edge out every other thing in a writer’s life. For those without an iron will for the juggling of competing demands, to say nothing of boundless energy, I offer a few words of caution and few more of encouragement.

Dangerous waters sign - google imagesFirst the caution – we all like the bad news first, right? Hang in there with me, though. This bad news isn’t as bad as the sign to the left might suggest. Until a writer comes up with that successful formula for selling his or her books, the whirlpool of marketing sucks one down again and again. I have found, with my third promotion, a glimmer of hope that there is a way to ride the power at the edge of that whirlpool rather than being pulled down by the undertows and sneaker waves.

I’m talking about being able to market and write. After publishing four novels, I am familiar with the writing process and once I get going, I’m confident of how things roll along – writing, rewriting, editing, formatting, publishing. Up until recently, marketing has been an abyss of failure that I periodically threw money down because I had to do something. But as to having any recipe for sustaining and dealing with significant selling – I didn’t have a clue. Okay, maybe that is harsh. I had a mantra I repeated to myself – if you write it, they will come. Seemed a bit pie in the sky but it kept me going while I produced a three book series and a stand alone novel! I also made a commitment to giving my books time to succeed – I was in this for the long haul, writing books I believed in.

Turns out this little quote is true:

Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue – Andrew Davis

Along came my success with a BookBub promotion in late March and two moderately successful promotions to keep the ball rolling since then – one in mid-May (Free Kindle Books and Tips) and another just completed (Freebooksy and E-Reader News Today).

The time consuming charting and the compulsive checking of my sales and KENP page reads is definitely passing – somewhat like the way the symptoms of a bad cold let go their grip. In time, I predict I will do what has to been done for marketing and then let the stats take care of themselves. They will, you know – even if I’m not watching.

Encouragement sign - Google imageNow for the encouragement! If you have a series of books to promote, setting the first book in the series free and promoting it to a large number of people works. It costs money to do this but, in my case, the money has been well spent. Think of the words of Henry Ford. “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”

After my three promotions, Disappearing in Plain Sight has been downloaded onto 40,000 Kindles or reading devices with the Kindle app. Those kind of numbers make a difference for the halo effect of subsequent sales in the series; they matter for reviews – Disappearing in Plain Sight went from a modest 33 reviews on Amazon.com to 93; and those number help build an email list of involved readers who really want to know when the next book is coming out.

To immerse myself in a successful marketing campaign and sustain it long enough to get used to the process, is an effort akin to producing the first draft of a novel. And believe me, each endeavour has its own rewards. I never wrote the Crater Lake books because I thought it would make me rich. At the same time, I never wanted to go in the financial hole and have to subsidize my efforts from money hard earned elsewhere.

Though this emphasis on marketing may have wafted the smothering blanket over my creative muse for a period, she is pushing through and as I find the balance, I feel the voices of the Crater Lake characters clamouring for attention. They definitely have way more story to tell and expect me to get on with that telling.

Pink Daises - Guenette photo

Disappearing in Plain Sight–Last Chance at Free Before Summer

Blue lake beauty - Bruce Witzel photo

Forget holding onto your hats, folks – this is it – your last chance before the summer to pick up Disappearing in Plain Sight, the first book of the Crater Lake Series – free – June 4th, 5th and 6th.

Amazon review capture 2

Disappearing in Plain Sight, a #1 Best Seller in the category of Literary Fiction – Sagas, has over 90 reviews on Amazon.com! The book is creating buzz.

The lazy days of summer are fast approaching and the Crater Lake Series is a great summer-time read. Enjoy the first book free and share the news with your friends and followers. Many thanks in advance for your support.

Books by Francis Guenette - Guenette photo