Don’t Look A Gift Lasagna In The Mouth

100% meat.Where can I get some?

Right, this has nothing to do with anything OK. I’m sick and tired of news news news about utter rubbish. The latest scandal here in the UK is that Findus frozen lasagna contains 100% horse meat. Experts are on the box wringing their blue plastic gloved hands in their Ministry Of Spin hygienic hairnets. Ooooh – it’s all so terrible. 

Well comrades, I givest not a stuff. The fact that any burgers or lasagnas contain 100% meat is wonderful and astonishing. The very fact that there is any meat content is staggering.

And you know who is to blame don’t you? Yes – it’s the bloody French. The vile Gauls have impregnated our pure Anglo Saxon palates with viande de cheval. And bloody lovely it is too! And it is 100% pure meat contamination! Why can’t I get my normal saw-dust, ground bone and bowel offal burgers?  That’s what I demand to know.

Very probably some crooks have fed some horse meat into the system and that is all very tut tut. Many folk in the world would fight to the death for some 100% horse mince. Let’s get real eh?

Not the normal Romantic writer stuff – but remember I’ve worked in meat processing and slaughtering. 

Emma thinx:  There’s nothing as pure as an empty belly.

With A Cast of 50,000 – The Valley Of The Trolls

I’m a troll

We’ve been together for a year now – just you and me. Well, it’s better than drinking alone I guess. One year ago I was certain I knew nothing. Today I know everything there is to know about uncertainty. I had just launched “Knockout” – my genre Romance pulsating with animal lust, lusty animals and International Locations. To some extent I have come in a complete circle. At that distant time I realised that I was saying goodbye to 35 years of serious writing. The slush piles of the Great Gatekeepers had felt the weight of my A4 gravitas. The bin-men of south London had kept pace with my output and the scorn of editors. Employers had failed to appreciate my creative day dreaming. The dog shampoo sales stats from Manchester got lost in the post modernist white thrusting buttocks of yet another dystopian philosophical tract. My writing career had arrived at the genre milestone simply because I was too poor even to starve in the attic. Perhaps – just perhaps, one could actually make some kind of income as a writer?

At first it was all about blogging and networking. That is how we met. The book went out onto all the platforms and we struggled with different formatting and “American” grammar. A few dozen kind souls looked at the blog. Now and then someone bought a book. We were priced at 99 cents. Each sale was like a birth. Now and then a kind soul would enjoy the book and give me a decent review. At that time I was able to write and live in France. I was a humble little mouse, building my literary burrow.

Firstly then the blog. I regard this as something of a success story because the readership has grown without any corporate stunts. The help and support of indie writers has boosted the readership to a total of 2,500 per month. For the first 6 months I set myself the goal of blogging every day.  Although I’m ever popular with Russian males, most of the traffic is random hits from people clicking on photographs. The fact is that the blog has sold very few books.

I arrived in the digital budget hotel with just 2 items of luggage. One was a short story “Sub Prime” and the other a genre “supermarket” book about cops and slobbers. I had decided a few years before to ditch everything of the previous period – i.e. my life. We used to live in a Capitalist system. Now life is Capitalism. Every single thing is commercial. Everything is bottom line. This is a born poor/stay poor world unless you can pull off the deal and get your hook to hold up in the sky. Dear old “Sub Prime” is the last footprint of the way I wanted to write. 

“Knockout” bumped along the bottom all through 2011. It was so far on the sea bed that only flat fish and readers fitted with sonar could detect it.  I believe we were at about number 60,000 in the Amazonian Ocean of a million digital books. This appalling figure means that 900,000 books have no significant sales at all. 

Course of the Amazon

Then came KDP Select. We knew that other writers had gained visibility by offering free books. This was our chance to get a hook up into the blue sky. We hurled it up – and it stuck behind a fast moving cloud. We topped several categories and reached the top 300 of all books. So far we have given away 50,000 books. A success story perhaps? Well – it rather depends on what happened next. 

Our first free run in January 2012 led to a sustained sales period over weeks. People were buying and enjoying the book. Reviewers on the whole were very positive and we were beginning to see some hope of some income after months and months of day and night  promo work through every conceivable media and cyber hang-out. I had also returned to the UK, grateful to get work as a bus driver.  I must also add that my actual book and story writing had stopped. Quite simply the endless jingle jangle of click this and check that has destroyed my inner calm. I tell Gilles that I am going through the Zenopause. 

Our second free run in early March was a similar success with a sustained sales afterglow. I began to notice hits by very negative reviewers as the book went back for sale. I have a policy of not commenting on reviews but surely if you are going to criticise a book – you should have read it properly or indeed, merely have read it to some extent.

Our third free run was in mid April. Clearly things had changed. Now, I’m not much of a musician – but I do have a natural sense of algorithm. Amazon have changed the deal so that you need to do ten times the traffic of free sales to get the same advancement up the sales charts. Visibility means sales. Sales means visibility. Almost the minute we came off the free deal, the negative reviews came in. Perhaps I am paranoid but can you really slam a book on the basis that in “real life” a woman would not risk her career for forbidden love? Come on guys! The book is a light sex infused escapist Romance, not a career development manual. 

So – 50,000 potential readers have the book. On the basis of the last free run we gave away about 5,000 books in order to sell about 50. It is quite clear  that in the current format KDP Select is not for me and I will not do any more free days. I know people only grab the book because it is free, but if I had sold one tenth of those books, I would not be working all day driving a bus – at least for a few months. I also think there is a great difference between the free reader and the person who looks at your book, samples it and then actually buys it. In the long term it is probably counter-productive  to put your book into the hands of people who would never like it or choose it. 

Here is the problem though. During my last free run, I was one of 15,000 free books on that day. There are now so many free books that no one is ever gonna have to buy one again. Soon there will be a plug in external memory for e-readers and all free books will be scooped as they come out. One day our unfortunate children will receive only our digital libraries of unread free books as their inheritance. Well, they won’t have jobs to keep them busy.

Emma at the Oracle

I am not an Amazon hater. They have enabled me to publish at little cost. The lending library feature provides some income, albeit small. All the same, I feel like a supplicant at the feet of the priestess of Apollo as she interprets the gas emissions at the Oracle of Delphi. No one knows what is going on. Each time the oracle pronounces, the mob charges off to the latest Klondike. Each time a Romance novelist writes a blog, the historical imagery becomes more tangled. Soon there will be Amazon soothsayers and experts. Amazon lobbyists will offer special insights. And they will all be right – until the oracle emits gas again.

Oooh – I do go on. Thank you all my lovely readers who have sustained me during the last year. How was it for you? Please dear friends – let me know how you are getting on with KDP Select?  My own future is gonna be a lot more proactive. I want to get to the readers who want to read me and will pay a few cents to do so.

In the teeming millions of creatures being swept down the Amazon to the sea, I will no longer be  a speck in the universe washed onto the shifting sands of broken metaphors. Who said I was a purple crap writer? I really do love you guys out there.

Emma thinx: Don’t big yourself up. Big yourself within.

Oxymorons Run Amok in Free Sales Orgy

You know that insecure feeling when you come downstairs after the party, slithering on a wine soaked crushed samosa that obviously missed the eloquent mouth of some unknown drunk, who at the time, was the wittiest and most flattering intellectual in the world? For a moment you gaze around wondering how cobwebs could possibly suspend so many popper streamers until you remember that the spiders have had several months of freedom to weave silk ropes that could catch an anchor chain. And all because the lady is a novelist and does not do dusting. She also does not do ironing or checking of sell by dates on mundane produce. How can a pickled onion be out of date? Who did not know that 2007 was a vintage premier cru champagne year for bloody pickles? 

This is a long way to explain that I had a bit of a party and that I know my life is being sucked into a femaelstrom of microwaved Swedish meatballs. Apparently Edgar Allan Poe first introduced the masculine form of the word into literature. I must start to get a grip. I get up in the morning in my furry dressing gown and check my sales, my blog comments, my facebook likes, my triberr karma rating, my Amazon chart position, my twitter re-tweets and my Goodreads reviews. I am become  Electro-Fem, a Joan of Story Arc, a Romantic Grovelist at the keyboard shrine. Then I put on my woolly pully and go out driving my bus. Good job all the other motorists don’t know that the huge vehicle in their rear view is being driven by a neurotic self doubting ego maniac on a cobweb and pickled onion literary guilt trip. This life would not have happened to Jane Austen.

Oooh – I’m glad I got that lot off my chest. The party was on account of having some 3,000 folk reading my book Knockout! by Saturday. By the end of the weekend I had shifted 8,000 books. Of course, they were all free on Amazon’s grand KDP Select Adventure. My serious “mined from the sorrow of life” prize winning etc. short story Sub-Prime had shifted 328 copies. You know, I always bear in mind that I sell the Romance for 77 pence in the UK which is less than a candy bar. When it became free, there was an exponential increase in interest. And I bet you that someone who got it for nothing reviews it and says it is a soppy formula written load of sex, cops, robbers and slobbers. (Oooh, I love it!) I do hate it when people miss the point. As I hover on the publish button, Amazon have just started tweeting me as a “mover and shaker” and I’m still high in the rankings with sales increasing if anything. Does this make me feel secure? Of course not. See my thinx today. My future sense of security rests on the continued real sales.  I think there might be a few bad hair-trigger days.

 Somewhere in the fog of the party, an intellectual goatee beard type is reading the sell by date on my pickle jar and asking me what year it is. “Look”, I exclaim, “I’m an artist – how the hell should I know?”

Emma thinx: From the ground you see the mountain. From the peak you see the drop. 

Free Market Slaves

If you look at my previous post you might have gotten the idea that I am a sex fuelled hedonist. Well, if not I’m gonna try and try until I make it there. It’s only lack of book sales that is holding me back. 

But let’s talk about the “new capitalism” which is the buzz on the economic block. I hear Euro politicoids talking about “Fairness” as if the concept had just arrived on their desks with all the kick-ass imperative of a memo from Rupert Murdoch. Before all the social class, religion, nationalism and wealth difference poisons and divides kids – they know about fairness and justice at the age of three. Just try telling a toddler he took his brother’s chocolate biscuit when he knows his sibling took it himself and framed him.

 So – how is it that something so atavistic, so recurrent and ingrained in mankind has been subverted and lost in our teeming world of worshipped and applauded greed? I heard PM Cameron today declaring that Europe was falling behind the productive capacity of China. Oh no – maybe our systems of democracy, health and safety, social care, civil rights, conditions of work and wages are holding us back? Dear me – there is the answer then. Let’s all race to the bottom. The finest time of Britain and the Empire was when slaves were bartered for gold,  children started work at the age of nine and life expectancy was 25years. At least it would get rid of a few rival novelists on Amazon.

A few months ago a case of “human slavery” was discovered in the UK. There was wailing and a general gnashing of teeth. The political class were astounded and outraged. However, it was not a surprise to some of us. If you want another story here is a link to a terrible tragedy in 2004. At a time of my life when I was  destitute I went to work as a turkey process hand. It was tough. Let me say that again – it was tough enough to break your bloody heart.  I wrote a story because fiction is far more powerful than “News” because that happens somewhere else. The girl in the story is unattractive and therefore could not work as a prostitute which is the fate of most trafficked females. That does not mean she won’t be used and raped by her “masters”.  The story is “Sub Prime” and is as true as a story can be. Ironically it is something of a best-seller although I have never wanted money from it. I have published it with an audio track, read by a dear friend.  I cannot read it myself because it makes me cry so much. 

This week-end Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th January, “Sub-Prime” is free on Amazon, along with its MP3 audiobook that will also play on the Kindle (I have also have a free romance novel on the same promo).

Click here for my FREE books on Amazon USA
Click here for my FREE books on Amazon UK

Emma Thinx: Keep the bones out of the bonus

Slush Pile

At last I have got down to the Warm Fuzzies trial by keyboard. If you are not a cognoscenti, the mission is to talk about the story arc of the Main Character of your Work in Progress. Well, I can’t really do that because the WIP is not simply a fiction although it does have a main character. As a writer I believe I am what is known as a pantser. This is not purely lack of planning but a deliberate gift of freedom. Most of my stuff has been self edited to the bin and the rest has sat in the slush pile until it melted with the Spring sun. So – please excuse me talking about the main character of my short story “Sub Prime”. 

Now this tale was written in my heart for many years after I had had the experiences described. When I presented it to a magazine competition it won the prize but they refused to publish it (Publication was actually the prize plus £50), because it could upset advertisers. Two of the judges clashed over the issue in my presence. One was a T.S. Eliot prize winner and the other an acclaimed author. I felt like the mouse in the herd of elephants. This experience changed my whole view of writing and in fact more or less finished my serious career ambition. It was the chance of a major breakthrough and no one was allowed to see it. (Thanks to Indie publishing it is now out there). I think it was then that the Romance writer was born. I love sex, passion, intensity and joy in my own life and I make no bones about it. Some writers are fantastic writers. I am just a being with a pen. Writing Romance is a turn on and reading it should fix you up a bit if you need a fix. However, I digress. By chance during a low ebb of my fortunes I came across the world of casual labour and illegal immigration which amounts to modern day slavery. The main character is a male, a tough guy who drives a truck until he is thrown out of work. As Christmas approaches he gets the chance of some cash and finds that maybe he ain’t so tough. He has to confront the matter of his own inner strength and finds himself humbled by someone far weaker. More humbling still is the generosity of the human spirit and the hopelessness of those without power. All I can say of this little story is that it makes me cry even today. If you fancy a look at it it’s FREE. I would only ever give it away although Amazon list it with a price so do not buy it there. You can get it FREE here  on
Smashwords with audio. It is formatted for kindle, nook, apple, EPUB, kobo, pdf for PC or Mac. 

In my life I have made a few faux pas. I have cocked it up, gone off on one, grabbed the shitty end of the stick and undoubtedly taken the biscuit. Today was a milestone in contemporary embarrassment. The bus company put me on a new route as a guest act. Because the kids were younger with very challenging behaviour I had an escort who was kind and lovely. This evening as we arrived at the school she warned me that one of our passengers was difficult and needed to be firmly advised that no misconduct would be tolerated. I saw the obvious passenger approaching flanked by two staff. The lad looked about 20 with bleached spikey hair and and bellowing a rock song while playing a violent air guitar. OK – I had to be firm.
“You’ll have to pipe down on the bus and sit quietly,” I demanded, standing aggressively in his personal space.
“I’ll remember that if I need to travel,” he replied.
I heard a shriek from the escort.
“Not him! that’s the headmaster,” she shouted.
Well, as you get older everyone looks so young. Apparently he was doing something for charity.Teachers and important people are a problem for me.

Emma thinx: Most people’s problems are people.

PS. Juliana WFBF 3 posts =15, 3 tweets = 3, Total 18?

Yes I can.

Now, today is a slight departure from my normal approach. Generally I just blog away to my readers on any subject that comes to hand. Most of the time I’m not sure if I’m a bus driver, a Romantic novelist or just a slightly dotty old Doris with a fantasy literary life. The fact is that for the moment I drive a bus and I have written Romantic short stories and a Romantic novel that is selling quite well. My home is in France but for a short while I am living and working in the UK. Today I am back in France and as I strolled through the beautiful streets of my little town this morning I was thinking about my project which is to do a blog for Julia Brandt’s “Warm Fuzzies Blog Fest”. The subject to be approached is that of “Do you tell people you are a writer and what are their responses?” Just as this thought was hurtling around the empty space of my mind I came across a snail climbing a very long hill. I took a photo and it is posted above. The Great spirit of Happenstance and Inspiration touched my shoulder and I saw at once the situation of the writer: that slow climb to who knows where, dragging that shell of isolation across the pitiless tarmac of everyday life. 

Yes, these days I do sometimes tell people I am a writer. However, I’m careful who I tell. I do not tell fellow bus drivers. Most would reply “Well, I’m glad to hear it cos you’re pretty poor at driving a bus.” It’s true I did break a mirror doing a reverse park and since I’m a woman it will NEVER be forgotten. I do tell a few posh middle class people in England. The responses are usually polite but flippant…”Wow – that’s so cool. I’m gonna do a really sooooper book myself soon. I hope you don’t do that stuff all about billionaires and sex in Paris. That is just so sad yah! It’s kinda like for people who need cheap escape and stuff and buy those awful supermarket books with hero torso on the cover yah.” When you are a something like a bus driver, people like to keep you in a safe slot. My partner Gilles is kinda posh French and has a well paid corporate job. A bus driver who is a published poet and prize winning writer just jangles a bit so I usually don’t say anything. Gilles enjoys the sport and usually blabs something. A few years ago I won the town Literary Festival prize. It was all very public but you know – no one ever said a thing to me. I was a bus driver – NOT a poet. If anyone ever read the poem, no one ever said.

Even more years back I was living in a fairly run down part of South London. My ex husband had been a truck driver and I did whatever temp work could fit in with bringing up kids. I entered a Christmas short story competition in a newspaper. My entry was  “Sub Prime” and was based on real events from my life.  If you are reading this blog you can get it free here (for every kind of e-reader device). There is also a link for the audiobook version.

A couple of weeks later, the judge – a nationally acclaimed poet and writer called me to say that she was so sorry that the paper could not publish it, but that it had won the prize. She went on to explain that the content was too gritty and could upset advertisers. All the same as a consolation they published a feature about me with a photo. I had entered the competition as Millie Webb. I hoped that no one would know it was me. A few days later a neighbour tersely remarked “Bit posh ain’t ya – writin’ stories.” I told them it was all a bit of a joke. It was sad that no one was able to read the story because they would have seen that it was on the side of working class people. As it was they just thought I was getting above myself. I never ever ever  EVER told anyone I was a poet.

So that deals with the two social class poles in the UK. My lovely neighbours in France know I’m a writer because they tend to wander in and find me writing. France is a different society that views “artists” as normal. They do have slight social class/wealth issues but in any event I’m foreign and free. 

The other group is of course FAMILY. My own children are completely and utterly embarrassed by the whole thing. I would talk about it but I think they would run out of the room with hands over their ears screaming. I am a parent. They know I write about sex and lust and they just could not reconcile themselves to me knowing anything other than not mixing up the coloured and the whites in the washing machine. I think I would have been the same with respect to my own parents.

These days the writer is visible public property. In some ways I think that the taciturn snail is most likely to produce the best work. Most snails play the whole thing down and tell folk they’re a slug with a carbuncle issue.

Emma thinx: Know where you got lost. Finding yourself starts there.

Blue Collar Scholar.

Well, it had to happen. I’m on the way back to the UK at least until Christmas. Gilles has to work in London for a while. (That’s where I grabbed him in the first place). There is also the very distinct possibility that I will be getting a job. It’s about time! I had enough savings to keep myself propped up during the summer and more or less dedicated myself to writing….and maybe a bit of hedonistic pure idleness. Being able to write in tranquillity without all the jingle jangle has been wonderful. The fruits of these labours should surface over the next couple of months. In the mean time I hope to take the kind of job suited to a Romantic novelist, poet and philosopher. Yes, you’ve guessed it – I’m gonna be a bus driver. Well, not a really real one. My friend Geoffrey Phillips who did the narration on “Sub Prime” works for a school bus operator and there is vacancy for ME. You may wonder why I have a bus driver’s license? Well, I’ll leave that question hanging just to excite you. But all this proves exactly what I said yesterday. All those top jobs and inside information never come out to the masses. So, even a minimum wage, no contract, casual job gets sorted out under the radar because you know someone. I am a pluto-rat and a self seeker. I am ashamed. In the case of a bus driving job this is known as Depotism. 

But, I’m putting my shoulders back and breathing that pure air of the proletariat. The British climate is often horrid. I am anticipating cold wet darkness. I will be one of my own people, sharing their struggle, mashing my potatoes into their gravy, voting on X factor, building the barricades, frying my fish fingers, preparing Findus savoury pancakes. The serious issue here is that once again I will be able to comment on the national politics. In France I have always kept quiet because it is not my country and not my place to opine. I have loved my home in Charente Maritime and soon enough I will be back. Maybe the next book will be mega and I can once again think of writing full time. For now I just have a couple of issues on which to concentrate. Remember to drive on the left. Recover my proper accent! 

Emma thinx: One door closes. A trap door opens.