Taunton Literary Festival Book Fair

I explain to Candy Bright my interest in male physiology

Recently I was reading a guru scribe. I’m beginning to feel like the old lady in the song who swallowed a guru. She swallowed the guru to catch the guru but I don’t know why she swallowed the guru. Perhaps she’ll write….

This particular guru was explaining to me that any writer who used the expression “It had started to rain/boil/dance etc” was unworthy of their scribe-sista badge, author-pride epaulets and keyboard panties. Such expressions are the mark of the amateur, an all together lower creature.

Oscar’s work is so heavy that it takes two poets to hold a slim book


So it was that as I arrived in Taunton for the Literary Festival book fair it started to rain. I saw it start. Yes I did.  The car suddenly became a mini submarine in an episode of the Blue Planet. Oscar tried to sound like David Attenborough by explaining “Here in the deepest of deeps, biologists are starting to identify thousands of gurus no man has ever read.”

Oh yes – it rained. At the hall everything was fine and welcoming.

Paul Tobin shows off his “Flash Words” collection.

Truth to tell, the rain kept the event more or less punter free. Well, they’re an awkward lot anyway! Far better to stick with fellow scribblers. I bought and swapped a heap of books and met some great literoids. It is just amazing what is out there beyond my own intergalactic marketing empire. I’ve got books to read by Paul Tobin, Zoe Ainsworth-Grigg,Victor Godrich, Howard Lewis, Paul Mortimer and Sinéad  Gillespie. I wanted to get one from Candy Bright but I’ve already got them.  All you guys stand by for blogs and reviews.


Oscar did a short reading with the Juncture 25 poetry group. Last time he spoke in public was a court appearance for parking. The beaks weren’t impressed by his use of yellow line breaks. He did better this time – well, no £60 fine but I’m not sure if the dog was that interested. Oh yes – there was a lovely waggy dog. Novelists archive this kind of fun for rainy days.

All human life is there. Should keep me quiet for a while.

I had a convivial time chatting to old comrades and meeting other writers. Oscar had the chance to explain his Movember hairs and demonstrate to a young punter how to locate his prostate. We got out of town before the police arrived.

Thanks for having us in Somerset guys.
Things got hairy with my CIA Engineer

While I’ve been writing, a gorgeous young bearded guy came to fix the burglar alarm. He’s in full Movember mode including his chest(!) and doing his bit for men’s health. I couldn’t miss the chance to get a snap with Paul Doherty of CIA Alarms. He was a great sport and took his embarrassment as part of his professional duty.  With CIA the customer is always right.

Emma Thinx: Digital authors don’t do hard sell.








HitLit Pro – A new collaboration between #Romance #Authors, #Readers and Promotors @HitLitPro


I am thrilled to announce my launch day as part of a year-long promotion with Hit Lit Pro and Candle Lit Author Services. Myself and nine other hand-picked authors will be talking about ourselves and our books at various online visits from now though to June next year.

We want to get to know YOU, our readers, and the aim is to getting us all chatting, exchanging ideas, favourite things and everything else we want to talk about…as well as the hope you might be interested in buying some wonderful books, of course!

Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see what we’re up to!


There will be giveaways and prizes as well as lots of writerly and readerly chat – I am so honoured to have been picked for this launch.

Happy Reading!

Authors taking part are:

and me ….. Emma Calin

Persons From Porlock

The erudite literati out there will of course know the history of poor Coleridge’s writing of Kubla Khan. The great poet was in full (opiate?) creative flow when a visitor from Porlock knocked on his door causing the most disastrous poeticus interruptus of all time. Even so, a wonderful poem was conceived and Porlock went on to host a famous literary festival. The only thing it had lacked in the past was the attendance of a full bodied Romantic Passionista such as modest little me.

Candy and Paul awaiting the person from Porlockl
Of course, I was supposed to go with Oscar – but he couldn’t get the day off work. And guess who the folks actually wanted to see? It’s not that I don’t do poetry – I still do (ish) and did ( ooh – you could have taken your pick of my iambic at one time). No one did as it happens! That’s why I’m not on BBC Radio Foreplay. 

Buy my books. OK BUY MY BOOKS!!!
Happily I met up with a couple of fantastic poets, Candy Bright and Paul Tobin who starred in the “Freeze Frame” anthology. I had read their stuff and done the sound editing on the audio track. These guys are the real deal. As a young young writer I went to poetry readings and longed to be that kind of writer. Poets push off from the shore, not knowing where they’re off to; prepared over and over again to drown in waves and cross currents. Their work is their cry above the storm or the landscape of the calm horizon where only ideas or desires cast shadows. Poetry is the true form and I still love it. I guess they don’t look at their Amazon ratings or admire their limousines too much either.

I also met a fellow novelist – Jackie Gingell, author of “Ee Aye Addyeo” (The Farmer Wants a Wife). We had a comradely chat which left me smiling.

With driving rain and wind, the village hall was no Xanadu, so many thanks to the man from Porlock and partners, who fought the elements and treated themselves to some poetry.

And finally just to note that this is my three hundredth blog. I know there are tattooed old sweats out there who have done several thousands. My feeling is that the blogger sands have shifted since I started. At the outset it was absolutely de rigueur for writers to have one. There were gurus writing blogs telling other gurus how to blog up their guru power. A quick google has just confirmed my suspicion that many pets now write blogs. A look at the stats reveals that at least one spaniel has twice my readership. I dare not check out the cats cos they can be far wittier than me. 

Hey ho – blog on. 

Emma Thinx: Big ideas stand tall. Their shadows are the light. 



Virtual Book Fairs – Do they work?

In answer to my title question – I have no response, as yet.  I am about to embark on the  first virtual book fair that I have ever done, so in a couple of weeks I may have some sort of answer.  

I would say, that it’s a phenomenal amount of work… so I hope that there are positive outcomes.  What have you found?  Can you give any tips for getting the most out of this type of event?

As a break from my constant rabbiting on about my new book  (The Love in a Hopeless Place Collection – in case you missed all the hype 😉 ), I am going to be handing over my blog to fellow scribes from around the world and across genres, for the duration of the Blogger Book Fair (BBF) from the 22nd-26th July.

The Blogger Book Fair is a bi-annual event where authors celebrate and showcase each other’s work. There are book bargains/freebies/competitions and general literary fun – just like a real book fair but without the travel.

For my own contribution, I have reduced ALL my books to 99c/76p/89€ for the duration of the event.  So, if you need to fill your e-reader for the holidays… now is the time!


Here are the bloggers who will be visiting and showing their wares – and who in return, will be hosting me, on the same dates, on their blogs:
22nd July    Caitlyn Nicholas http://www.caitlynnicholas.blogspot.com
                   Jamie Campbell http://jamiecampbell.com.au/blog/
23rd July     Emily Tippets http://www.emtippetts.com/search/label/Blog
                   Penelope Reece http://penelopereece.blogspot.co.uk/
24th July     Leslie R. Wright http://thebasementlevelfive.blogspot.co.uk/
25th July     Aria Glazki http://ariaglazki.blogspot.co.uk/ 
                   Barbara Billig http://www.thenuclearcatastrophe.blogspot.com/
26th July     Don Wooldridge http://www.donwooldridge.com
So, here we go – all the fun of the fair… enjoy and hope you enjoy my guests’ posts.

Robert Galbraith – First Pictures ;-)

The author and close friend Bob Galbraith after the publisher’s party

Oooh – I’ve been listening to posh BBC radio over breakfast. The main subject has been that wizard of an author Robert Galbraith. This red headed porridge gobbler has fooled the world for the last sixteen years or so by masquerading as a female novelist using the pseudonym JK Rowling. Those of us industry insiders who know Robert (or Bobby to his mates) Galbraith personally are not surprised. I’ll never forget his appearance in drag at the Random Penguin Christmas party two years ago. It was only the haggis fragments in his stubble that gave him away. Bob Galbraith – I salute you. You never fooled me of course, but it was great while it lasted. Who knows what other secrets lie undiscovered in the mysterious hyper- murk of the super-scribes? 


And NOW……The prize winners in my ‘Love In A Hopeless Place’ launch competition. All winners were selected by Rafflecopter. In addition all winners will receive a Kindle copy of the soon-to-be launched ‘Love In A Hopeless Place Collection’ featuring all five stories.

Linn Halton wins a large tattoo.
Petra Rovere wins a Seahorse Club pin.
Carol Wyer wins a pack of Pleasuremax ribbed condoms
Nicky Wells wins a glitterball key ring
Barbara Brannon White wins a copy of Love In A Hopeless

Place (Now upgraded to the whole collection!).


Regulars on here may recall that all of these items feature in the story. If any TV producer out there wants an idea for a  celebrity vehicle show how about this? You get a couple of famous scribblers such as Robert (Bobby) Galbraith and Emma Calin. You give them each a team of coked-up celebs and a bag of props. They write a story based on them which is then performed by celebrity chefs. You could call it “Ready Steady Book”. Wow – I’m gonna be rich.

And finally, my latest book, a ‘boxed set’ of five novelettes and short stories: 
 “Love In A Hopeless Place Collection” 
launches on Thursday 18th July. 
I’m gonna be on all kinds of blogs blowing my own trumpet trombone…




17th July Anneli Purchase
20th July Sheryl Browne
21st July Nicky Wells
23rd July Miriam Wakerly
26th July Patricia Sands


Emma Thinx: Identities are easy. Finding yourself is tough.






Calling all authors: have you thought about turning your novel into an audiobook? Why you should and how to do it…

Gypsie Rosalee’s fortune telling tent?  No – it’s Jasper de Montfort (really?) in his DIY sound booth!
After my recent post on Venture Galleries “Hooks, Hopes, and Dialogue. Would you rather read or be read to?” I had a couple of comments asking for more information about the costs of creating an audiobook version of a novel and whether it was worth the investment? The following post is based on my response back to these queries.
So, how much does it cost to get your book into audio format?  The costs depend on how far you want to push the boat out – use an actor (prices vary depending on experience/fame levels etc) or record it and edit it yourself?
Some actors will take a royalty share but most want a fee as there is significant work involved producing an audiobook.  Typically they charge a fee that includes the editing – so you get  a price per finished hour of audio – which can vary from $200-$400. So for a 90,000 word book, this would come out at around 10 hours of finished audio – costing between $2000 and $4000.
The Gentleman and The Rogue is now a finished audiobook which I produced on behalf of Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee (the authors) via ACX.  For this I received a $900 up-front bonus stipend and will get  half the royalties on any sales.  
The narrator then usually records a 30 minute sample – the first 3500 words – for approval.  This is the last chance for the author to request any change of style or accent etc and is the basis for the way that the rest of the book will be recorded. The next time the author is contacted will be with the whole book for final approval.This may sound steep – but  a 10 hour finished book will have at least 75 hours of solid work behind it – recording, editing and final quality check (it takes 10 hours just to listen to it!). If you divide it out, this is paying the actor about $27 per hour on the lower rate – which is not not excessive for a professional running a business.   However, it is money that would be paid before any sales – if you can get the actor to agree to a split-royalty deal (usually they will want 50%) then it makes it easier to achieve.  Audible have many such actors on ACX.com.  
For those of you who haven’t visited ACX – you should – it is a brilliant uploading service for independent producers and authors.  They allow authors to advertise for the type of narrator they would like (accent, age, style etc) and provide an audition text for any interested party to use to record a sound test.  The auditions come in, the author selects the one they like best and then the narrator goes off to do the work.   It is a really simple utility to use and it marries authors and producers up and handles contracts, payments, sign offs etc and then gets the finished job up onto Amazon, Audible and iTunes.  They offer all sorts of payment options for producers – including royalty splits and they then handle the payments to you when the book sales start flooding in….  With this option your outlay is minimal – you are just sacrificing half your future royalties.  If you are lucky to have a book that sells well on Amazon, ACX may earmark your book by adding their own stipend bonus payment to encourage producers to audition for your book (this is usually $100 per thousand words and is paid for by ACX – not the author!!).
The other option to creating your audiobook is the DIY method. However – do not underestimate this task.  It may sound like a way of saving a couple of thousand dollars or keeping all the royalties for yourself – I have narrated some of my own books and believe me,  it’s harder than you would imagine.  To be frank, some folk just cannot read a story out loud – even if they wrote it. Whilst it’s great to be able to advertise the  ‘authentic voice of the author’ – you need to be honest about this and maybe get a friend to tell you if your reading voice sucks.  Don’t be offended by the truth – it is a skill that actors train for years to achieve.  I know that my voice is not ideal – I have too much ‘S’ sound (teccie term – sibilance) but some of this can be filtered out post-recording. I am also prone to drone and have to re-record many times before I get the level of animation that I think is needed.
Try a  no-cost test : download Audacity (free) and record yourself reading  a couple of pages from one of your  books using the mic on your computer. Play it back  – close your eyes and listen – are you able to sound animated? Do you tell the  story or is it just a flat reading? Can you differentiate between the characters if there is dialogue? Would you be happy to pay $20 to listen to your style of delivery for 10 hours? My impression is that many of the most successful narrators are outgoing Thespians rather than those tormented taciturn screenopath scribes.
As an alternative to doing a whole book, you could try having a practice on a poem or other inspirational text. When I was considering the audio option I recorded one of my own poems and put it up on you tube. I made a video and dubbed in the soundtrack. I found this a valuable experience and you may just end up with a work of art. In any event it will paste your name on just a little more of the wall of life.  You do not need to make a video – a morphing still shot sequence works well (I use One True Media which is easy peasy to use and free but there are many other packages out there e.g Windows Movie Maker). My poem has now had about 1100 views – so that means my “brand” has just a little more exposure.  Also – I find that doing this kind of stuff makes me feel a bit more like an “ARTIST”. Writing Romance means you have to let go and really dig out those juicy feelings that might embarrass your neighbour.  Actor types have that  unembarrassed confidence to express feelings and some of that has fed back into my writing even though I am no actress.
In terms of the 75 hours work to get a book done – this is quite a lot of time to find in a busy author’s day.  It will stop you from writing/living for around two weeks solid – or longer if you have other commitments – e.g. food/sleep/conversation with spouse.   Bear in mind that in reality it’s difficult to do more than about 20 mins recording at a time – your voice gets tired and it’s difficult to be “in character” and maintain an accent or voice for much longer. This is when you  start to make lots of mistakes – and that means retakes. So the recording may take much longer than you expect!  At least if it’s at home you can have rests and do other jobs in between, or run off and refresh with a “cuppa’”and some contact with the outside world!.
The good news is – It’s relatively cheap to set up a home-studio as there is excellent free software available (e.g. Audacity) and a reasonable quality podcast microphone, stand, ‘pop screen’ and headphones can be acquired for less than $200.  I got mine from Amazon.
Once you have recorded the whole book – then comes the production phase – editing (removing errors and chopping into suitable file sizes) and “mastering” (smoothing out the ‘S’ for my voice, making sure the chapters have consistent sound levels, preparing them for upload to Audible via ACX etc).
Editing an audiobook  is a painstaking job – removing the errors from the recording and maybe adding in pauses for effect or cutting long gaps to smooth out dialogue.  In addition you have to be listening out for and then remove, all the  strange wheezes and pops, coughs and clunks and stomach gurgles that somehow get onto the track.  Add to this the removal of odd external street noises (police sirens, dogs barking etc) which are inevitable if you do not record in a sound-proofed room or have a directional mic.  There is some art involved in this – deciding to leave a noisy breath in the middle of a sentence or removing one from the beginning of a phrase will depend on the flow and context of the passage.  Many authors have not planned in advance for a paragraph to be read aloud and this makes the job of the recording artist quite a challenge.  Frequently there are gaspings as the poor actor struggles to get in enough air after a long sentence with many sub-clauses or commas!
Some work could only ever be read by the author. One of my favourite possessions is a CD of Bukowski reading his own poems. The quality is appalling. He sounds drunk and slurred, there are all manner of clunks, gasps, groans, snorts and cigarette sucking sounds. It is entirely unprofessional with a  “stuff you if you don’t like it” tone. However, this is its quality and value. My guess is that it would not get past the ACX technical checking department.
When the whole book is finished, it needs to be divided into suitably-sized chapters – I tend to keep mine to around 20 minutes wherever possible as I find this is a popular length for the listener.   I then upload each chapter onto ACX – this is a very smooth process, the ACX site is so well organised and easy to use.  The author is expected to listen to the whole thing and approve it – or request any (hopefully minor!) changes.  If you are doing your own book yourself, you will have the satisfaction of signing yourself off!   It’s then a case of waiting for ACX to check the quality of your recording and then load it up onto Amazon, Audible and iTunes.  This is a nail-biting time and can last as long as four weeks.
Then joy – your audiobook appears on sale to the public..  I was quite shocked at the premium prices that are paid for audiobooks – especially if bought as a one-off impulse buy – we are talking around $20 for a 10 hour book compared to a typical Kindle price of $5 for this length of book (90000 words).  The deal on ACX is great – they take half the money and split the other half between the author and the producer (who then has to pay the narrator).  So the author gets $5 per sale – which is far better return than on the Kindle version.  However, most people into audiobooks have subscriptions to Audible, iTunes etc and use their monthly credit allowance, so the income for the purchase is reduced. So far, sales of the book I have on sale on ACX have been 50/50 between full price and monthly credits – so averaging about  $3.50 per sale to me as the producer.
So for authors thinking about audiobooks –  using an ACX narrator on the split-royalty deal will give you an audiobook for no up-front outlay, that brings in at least the same yield as your Kindle version and the added bonus of an additional medium in which to expose your work.
If you were happy to do the recording and editing yourself, as author and producer – you would  would get twice this – $7 which is much higher than the Kindle royalties but you will have had to invest the 75 hours of your time to create the audiobook. There is only one question.  Are you an introspective focused writer or an outgoing thespian – some lucky souls  are both.  If you are not, ask this question: would you hire an amateur nuclear power station designer?  Personally, I think both options give you a cost-effective means of getting your stories in front of a wider audience.
Those of you in the USA have the wonderful resource of ACX at your disposal. On their site you will find all manner of help and advice. Youtube carries tutorials on voice coaching and accent development. In the great knowledgewurst-of-infinite-everything sausage, every possible resource is there on the net.
Sadly, at present ACX is closed to non US citizens even though there are hordes of writers looking for British-English narrators and equally, scores of  British authors desperate to get their books out into the audio arena. This ban has now been applied to me and I can no longer put books out on ACX. We live in hope. We keep our narrators revved up, we are recording all our books ready for that moment and we know that we produce the goods that sell. If you have to good fortune to live in the USA, then ACX is the platform.
Based on my post for The VG Authors Collection (click the badge to find more)

Emma’s Dilemmas

When I was at school, deep deep down, I wanted a badge. Many other girls had sports teams badges and there were badges for prefects and monitors. My one ascent to power was when I stood in as a deputy lavatory monitor but I was not given a badge. My temporary position gave me the power to eject loitering girls from the toilet area and report any incidences of cigarette possession to the Authorities. I was ready to betray every friendship in pursuit of a badge but no one offended and my chance slipped away. 



But now, at last I have a badge. I have become an editor. Thanks to Loveahappyending.com I have started to edit a regular feature on writerly topics. Smoking and loitering will be permitted. If anyone knows where I can get an official editor’s lapel badge, please please please Miss, I want one so much!


Emma thinx: You never grow taller than the shadow of childhood.


Love A Happy Bookshelf

There’s no end to books.

There’s something new on the block. I am a member of a writers’ group under the banner “Love A Happy Ending”. My inclusion has been a wonderful element in my writing career and has brought me into contact with some amazing and committed authors. Yesterday, they launched a new bookshelf section that features a selection of writers and their work. And guess what – yes I’m on it!

The world of publishing can still be called a world but none of the old maps really work any more. The Loveahappyending Bookshelf is a unique initiative between Authors and Publishers to promote and discover new writing talent and to share news from around the publishing universe. It features  Indies, the Pindies and the Traditionally published. The Pindies are writers who have published independently and have secured deals from publishers. There are also writers who have had deals in the past but have now gone Indie. 

In all of this raging torrent, I am but a minnow or even something smaller. I feel myself to be very privileged to be among such larger fish and so far no one has looked hungry. 

Loveahappyending Bookshelf Authors:

Linn B Halton Carol E Wyer Mandy Baggot  Janice Horton Richard F Holmes Ali Bacon Sheryl Browne Nicky Wells Kit Domino Stephanie Keyes Melanie Robertson-King

Loveahappyending Bookshelf Publishers:

Sapphire Star Publishing  Safikhet Publishing Thornberry Publishing 4RV Publishing Inkspell Publishing


Standing by for touch down Captain. 

OK – let me descend into the metaphysical depths and share with you a photograph I took yesterday of a  cauliflower I bought in Walmart (ASDA). As I looked at this green alien landscape I found myself piloting my CLM (Cauliflower Landing Module) onto the surface of this wonderful fractalised world. The mother ship held orbit over the draining board galaxy while I swept my eyes through vistas of breathtaking beauty while making a sound of alien wind. It was then I realised that I was being watched by those who wanted to eat. I explained of course that I was merely looking closely for any worms or caterpillars. Normally my fantasies involve far more basic concepts. Oh no – is my libido slipping? When your hormones go, do you turn to Sci-Fi?

And here is a trail for my next post. I want to talk about toys and their place in the modern literary love-place. This may not involve Lego. Brace yourselves. 

Emma thinx:  Ideas only want to play.
















Gather Thee Rose Buds

 As you will know, I spend a portion of my life at the wheel of a bus. Another portion is dedicated to general mother hen coop behaviour and a huge floral purple chunk is lavished on Romance writing. This has always created problems of identity and to some extent fear. In the back of my mind was that one day I would be driving a bus load of rugby club stag night revellers and that one of them would have read my book and would seek to discuss that naked outdoor scene. 

Lord  Lucan

And so it was that I did something rather naughty. Normally such things bring me pleasure but today I have to confess. The photo on my website and blogs was not me. I bought it from an agency and I have no idea who she is. Of course, she is not beautiful and sophisticated like me – although a goodly number of anonymous gentlemen have been very drawn to her, seeking friendship and small amounts of money for their plane fares. If you look at the photo today – yes – that is me. In the end I figured that since in a year I had not met any drunken stags who had read a book, I had been worrying about nothing. When I wrote the book and brought it out, I had no idea what would happen and knew nothing about modern publishing. Sending off stories to faceless editors was easy and for all they cared I could have been Lord Lucan. In fact, I think that would have been a great gimmick.


 Putting all that aside, something quite remarkable happened to me. I was invited to join an online literary group of writers, reviewers and publishers. Going under the title “loveahappyending.com“, they have been in business for a year and aim to showcase and support authors and readers for mutual benefit. They held their first literary festival ‘A Summer Audience’ at Tetbury on 16th June. I met some fantastic and energetic people. At the end of the session they announced their choice of new authors – and I was one of them along with Ali Bacon and Carol E Wyer. This was a big WOW moment for me that dwarfed the responses of my passionate heroines. Being chosen is such a great thing. Everyone was so welcoming and I felt wanted straight away. Whatever happens in my writing career, this will be a top moment for me.  To see my author page on their platform click here.

The Love A Happy Ending Team



The group is an astonishing mixture of styles and genres. There is everything from crime to spiritual healing. Until now I have had very little exposure in the UK and I look forward to joining in all the activities of the group. I would like to thank all the guys who fixed the food, arranged all the logistics and made the day so enjoyable. I’m hoping to introduce some of the elements of publishing that I have learned the hard way by marketing in the USA.  Everybody loves a happy ending. 




Emma thinx: The happiest endings don’t.