Weaving through a Salon du Livre

On Sunday I had my first experience of selling my book ‘The Weave’ direct to the public who came to our village’s first Salon du Livre. Just to explain – this is an event where authors have a table, load it with books and potential readers/buyers come and browse. Such events are held all over France particularly during summer.

I had no expectations of mega sales or indeed of any sale. The book is published in English only (at the moment), the English-speaking community in our small village and environs is tiny and I am a totally unknown. However I thought the experience would be invaluable.

So, there I was. 8.15 on a wet morning armed with copies of the book and some props just to attract interest. I had thought that each author was to have an individual table so it was a surprise to find long rows of tables and chairs with each author’s space meticulously marked out.

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Setting up the Salon

Quick review of the ‘montage’ I had planned and most of my props, all of which play a part in the book, went back in the car.

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Planned montage – dress rehearsal in big bro’s kitchen

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Actual display

Learning point 1 – find out in advance just how much space there will be for the display.

Around 9.30 the public started to drift in. At first it was more like a social gathering as neighbour chatted to neighbour yet eventually people began to browse what was on offer. Many of the authors offered books about local and regional events, places and people. These were clearly very popular and little groups clustered around their tables.

By 11.30 my own display was looking a bit lonely. Fellow author Robert Rigby with a selection of his books  was the only other Brit novelist present and, bless him, he took pity on me and bought the first copy of ‘The Weave.’ I wish I could say that act of kindness opened the buying floodgates but no!

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The Paul Hanson book duo by Robert Rigby

There was more interest in the spider artistically draped over some of the books than the book itself.

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Never mind the book-tell me about the spider

However things picked up and I had people stop to chat and look at the book. What was interesting for me though was that Robert apart, all these visitors were the female of the species. Many picked up a copy, leafed through it and asked me to translate the blurb and then, with a regretful gallic shrug and a ‘je lis pas en Anglais’ put the book back.

Learning point 2 – more like a question – why were the ladies present attracted to my table? Was it the cover of the book? Because the author was female? They felt sorry for me?

To follow up these thoughts I began to ask the question – what attracted you to the table? The majority of replies was ‘the cover’ thus reflecting the advice always doled out – the cover is the first selling point.

I made a handful of sales in the period just before lunch – all to Brit buyers bar two. thank you, thank you.

The afternoon was dead for me saleswise so I spent my time cruising the other tables and networking. I received an invite to an authors’ group in a neighbouring village and signed up for another salon in Quillan in August where I’m told there is an enthusiastic English-speaking book-buying community. We shall see.

I picked up a few tips about presentation and…

Learning point 3 – I must get some sort of ‘business’ card printed.

Some authors had give-aways like bookmarks and pens; some placed a purchase in dinky little carrier bags with the book cover printed on them. All good stuff to think about for the future and at least I can go to the other two salons that I’ve signed up for with a bit more confidence and understanding of how they work – valuable experience.

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Paperback Writer

My first novel The Weave came out in paperback this week on Amazon and I’m eagerly waiting my copies of it. The Kindle version sold OK but I have this mental glitch that it’s not a ‘proper’ book unless it’s in paperback so I have used some of the Kindle sales to fund the paperback.

All that remains now is to boost publicity for it which I really don’t like doing but know it’s a ‘must’.

Where to begin? I’m using my social media as one prong of attack; have invested a very little in some paid-for promotion as a second prong and the third has been to take advantage of some very generous bloggers who will feature the book. A final thrust, when my copies arrive, is to have them on sale in our local cafe/bar (the village attracts a fair few English-speaking visitors) and the big supermarket Leclerc is also going to take copies on sale or return.

I keep being asked whether I will have it translated into French and have looked at the possibility but as yet I have not decided. Financially it would be an investment that I can’t quite rise to…as yet. I’ll see how English sales go.

So, if you are kindly inclined here are the links to:

https://amzn.to/2TKH4pu. – UK

https://amzn.to/2HZxk9F – US

where you can purchase the book. Happy reading.

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TheWeave -#Fantasy -Out Now!

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It’s taken eighteen months, two full edits and countless revisions to turn my debut fantasy novel ‘The Weave’ from a two thousand word short story to a seventy-odd thousand word novel. I can almost quote it by heart.

It’s out on Amazon now – a bit earlier than anticipated. Here’s what it’s about:

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I’ve brought out the e-book first with a paperback to follow.

If you feel motivated to purchase for the incredibly affordable price of £2.99 (or equivalent) just click on the image above and it will whizz you to the Amazon page.

One final request – reader reviews are extremely important to authors. They are the prime influence on other potential buyers and help with Amazon rankings. If you do purchase ‘The Weave’ please leave a review. It doesn’t have to be a long screed – just a star rating and any comments you feel moved to make.

Now I’m looking forward to finishing the next book.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me spread the word. I appreciate your support.

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#Fantasy #The Weave – The Witch and the Count

Since it’s the season for witches and warlocks, mischief and spooks, I thought this would be a good time to introduce you to Ombrine the witch in this, the last of my excerpts from The Weave. In this extract Oskar, Comte de Treville has come to seek Ombrine’s help.

 

“He wound through trees of pine, oak and larch following an ancient path and as he penetrated deeper into the forest all was silent. His horse’s hooves trod soft on a thick bed of pine needles and leaf mould stirring up a cooling, earthy scent around him. The light grew dimmer as the path narrowed and the trees thickened. The air felt damp and chilly. He shivered. After a while he could hear the sound of rushing water and he knew he was near the waterfall and cave where the witch dwelt.

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…He urged his horse forward until he reached a small grassy clearing in the heart of the wood. To one side lay a pool of limpid water into which a cascade tumbled and splashed. At the side of the cascade he saw the cave, its entrance cushioned with bright emerald moss and overhung by a tangle of brambles and scrub.

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A figure appeared in the cave entrance – a woman, small in stature and thin. She wore her black hair loose and flowing down to the waist. Oskar noticed her unusually round head and a face tanned by the sun, yet smooth and unblemished. Her eyes, the colour of autumn chestnuts, glowed as he dismounted and walked forward…

…The witch laughed. ‘I know why you have come, my lord. You seek my help. Your son is sick and like to die. You want my help, as do so many.’

Oskar nodded. ‘I do. I have heard you have potions to clear away the sickness. I have come to ask you the truth of this, and if it be true, to beg you to save my son. I will pay what you demand.’

The witch studied his face. Her eyes shone bright with malice.

‘It is a wonder, is it not, how the high and mighty will turn to me, so despised and abused as I am, when they need something that all the physicking of wise men cannot provide. I have no truck with such folk. But you, my lord, you are somewhat different, a little better than most. You have never harassed me nor set your hounds on me and I remember once how you stopped one of your village mobs from stoning me. You did warn me away from your people, it is true, and now I live out here in my cave. All the same, perhaps I owe you something. Enter, my lord, come in to my castle.’ She stood to one side and mockingly bowed him to enter.”

 

And so it begins… The Weave is out on 16 November on Amazon.

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#The Weave -Finding the Nonesuch Club

In this extract from The Weave, Richard an English author finds The Nonesuch Club and meets the inscrutable Oskar…

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At night the maze of narrow streets and dark alleyways seemed forbidding. Tall houses on either side of the streets leaned drunkenly against each other, many with a first-floor storey overhanging the street below, looming, somehow threatening. He shambled around the deserted streets with no particular direction in mind and found himself approaching the church via the Rue de Penitents Blancs. ‘I’m white and I’m very penitent,’ he shouted wildly, ‘so what are you picking on me for?’

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In reply a jagged shot of lightning ripped across the sky followed by the rolling crash of thunder. It began to rain – at first huge spattering drops and then a skin-soaking, flesh-numbing torrent. Another shot of lightning and the street lights flickered and died. Richard was plunged into blackness. Not a shard of light was to be seen – no glimmer through the closed shutters or lead-latticed fanlights, just blackness. ‘Oh yes, oh yes, very funny,’ he cried. He had forgotten that the thrifty council and citizens of Montain turned off the street lights at midnight during the tourist off-season and went to bed early.

He swivelled this way and that like a pointer dog casting for a scent. In the end he turned blindly to his right and slowly crept along the cobbled street. He muttered to himself. ‘If that was the Penitents’ Rue then I’m near the church and…’ but he was too befuddled. He gave up trying to work it out. Instead, holding his hands out in front of him he shuffled forward. At one point he was convinced he heard footsteps behind him and a flicker of fear grew. He tripped and stumbled on the cobblestones. Under the shelter of an overhanging roof he stopped and peered into the darkness behind him. He saw nothing. The rain poured off the roof spattering the pavement and splashing up the hems of his jeans. He looked behind him again and, in the flash of another lightning shot, thought he could make out a dark figure. Nervously, he began to shuffle forward again. He took just a few steps when he felt a touch on his shoulder. Whipping round, a trailing tendril of wisteria hanging loose from a house wall brushed his face. Thoroughly unnerved he panicked and turned down a side alley. He had no idea where he was. Again he felt a touch on his shoulder and he broke into a blind run, stumbling and splashing through the stone gutter that ran down the centre of the alleyway.

Then he saw it… just a glimmer of greenish-blue light ahead. Gasping, he half-ran towards it. He stood in front of huge wooden gates.

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Above the gates an old-fashioned oil lantern glowed dimly. On one of the gates a large bronze knocker in the form of a grotesque spider glimmered in the light. He hesitated then reached out for the knocker. One gate opened. He blinked nervously as a man appeared holding a large black umbrella. All he could make out of him was that he was tall and wearing evening dress. Before he could speak a voice, smooth and respectful, addressed him.

‘Do come in, sir, and shelter. It’s not a night to be out.’

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And that’s all for now, folks. To find out what happens to Richard watch out for the book… out 16th November.

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#Fantasy #The Weave #Poisonous Plants

In The Weave, the witch Ombrine uses a number of poisonous plants to create her potions, curses and magical deaths. Here is a scene from the book where, in 1605, she is teaching Oskar some of her herbal lore. She was particularly fond of using Wolfbane and Belladonna

“Over the next few days she taught him how to make …
The Dream Maker, made from a blend of Wolfbane, belladonna and the tiniest pinch of Datura, which acted on body and mind to fire off images and illusions drawn from the darkest, deepest emotions within a man’s soul.
‘You have to be very careful with Datura,’ she warned him, ‘since it is several times more poisonous than the other two… unless of course you want your victim to die a terrible death.’ She paused, giving him a gleeful smile.
‘You remember that captain in Hamburg? I slipped him a little too much after we parted him from his cargo of silk. A mistake on my part, I admit, but I am not one to have regrets. He was a coarse, base creature. No loss to anyone. I confess, I laughed when he hauled himself to the top of his ship’s mast thinking is was a ladder to God and then threw himself off, believing he could fly with the angels. Yes, this is one to be careful with.’
Then there was the Standstill, made primarily from monkshood and used to excite the blood and brain. Paralysis of the body swiftly followed but consciousness remained…”

Wolfbane (aka Monkshood) with its striking blue cowl-like flowers is highly toxic and has been used in times past for both hunting and warfare. In ancient & Chinese medicine, Wolfbane was used to slow the pulse and act as a sedative. And should you have a sudden need to detect a werewolf it is said that if you hold the flower under the chin of the alleged werewolf and a yellow shadow appears you know you need to get that silver bullet ready. Alternatively it used to be the fashion that you wrapped up the seed of Wolfbane in a lizard’s skin and wore it around the neck, as protection.

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Wolfbane

Belladonna has many names including Witch’s berry, Banewort, Black Cherry, Deadly Nightshade, Death’s herb, Devil’s Cherries, and Fair Lady. You can guess what a poisonous plant it is just by reading these names, While Belladonna is beautiful plant it is also quite deadly. It induces among other things hallucinations, psychic dreams, delirium and a seriously painful death.
Its common name- Belladonna – comes from an ancient cosmetic practice. Apparently women used drops made from the plant to dilate the pupils – an effect considered to be sultry and sexy.

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Bella Donna

Datura, also known as Devil’s Trumpets is a beautiful plant. It is highly toxic, hallucinogenic and deliciously scented. Due to the combination of chemical substances it contains, Datura can induce, among other things, delirium which usually incorporates the inability to tell reality from fantasy, muscle stiffness and temporary paralysis and memory loss.

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Datura

So what does Oskar do with his new-found knowledge and skills? You’ll have to read the book to find out! Out in mid-November.

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A Romany witch, a French count and English author all entangled in a centuries-old web of lies and deceit

 

#The Weave and #Poisonous Spiders

Time for a peek at the little beasties that have a part to play in my debut fantasy novel The Weave.  I did a bit of research about poisonous spiders around the world and this is the one –the Red-back Spider-that caught my eye and provided the inspiration for the Amarello spiders in the book.

The Red-back spider is a member of the Widow spider family. The female is more dangerous than the male who often, after serving her needs, gets guzzled. The lady of the species has a red stripe on the upper body and a red or orange streak underneath. Its two fangs bite into the victim then she wraps them up in silk and sucks out the liquefied insides. Lovely.

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The Redback Spider

I invented most of the “facts” about the Amarellos to ensure that they would do exactly what I wanted them to do. I don’t think anything approaching the Amarellos really exists. But you never know!

Here is an extract from the book.  Ombrine the witch is explaining to Oskar, the Comte de Tréville about her Amarellos.

 

 

‘Come and look at my Amarellos. Let me explain to you. Look closely and you will see there is organisation there – you with your tidy mind should appreciate that. These that lie around the outside of the basket, the larger ones, they are the sentinels. Their role is that of guardians of the nest and they line it with venom sacs to keep away predators. The inner layer comprises the nurslings, smaller than the sentinels – they take care of the eggs. Then we have the weavers, those small lively ones who make the rustling noise. They are the only ones to leave the nest and create the webs – and now there, right in the centre, there –’ she pointed to what to Oskar resembled a black velvet pincushion, ‘– there we have the queen, who lays the eggs.’

Oskar peered more closely into the basket. Unaccountably his eyes were prickling and teary. He opened his mouth to speak but found that his jaw was stiff, his tongue hard like a slab of wood. A shiver ran through him and gradually cold numbness crept up his body.

 

What happens next?  Sorry – you will have to read the book, out in mid-November.

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