Titles and Covers. . .

This week I tweeted about book titles asking, ‘How much does a title draw you to a book?’ I didn’t get much response but that doesn’t surprise me, Twitter can be a lonely platform even if you have nearly 1000 followers. People are more likely to reply to ridiculous questions such as, ‘ Do you like cucumber or lemon with your gin and tonic?’ I prefer cucumber for what it’s worth. Anyway, back to book titles, or any titles come to that.

I am writing my Italian memoir and although it doesn’t need a title at this very moment, (it has an uninspiring working title, My Italian Memoir) I’m going to pitch it to an agent at the end of September at an event run by Byte the Book You can read about this event if you click on the link but I think it might be sold out now. I’m a member of Byte The Book and they do run some great events — I am famous for digressing so back to titles again —  I think I need to have some sort of intriguing title to catch the agent’s attention so I’ve been wrestling with some ideas, which may or may not end up being used. Thinking up a title is also a great procrastinator and can lead you down all sorts of avenues when googling to see if it’s been used before or what connotations it might uncover.

Here are some bad titles I thought of:

My Time in Italy

Eight Years in Italy

Le Marche Life

I think all of these sound as though I was serving a prison sentence!

I considered — for a moment only — calling it The Italian Job as titles do not have any copyright but I imagined the stick I would get from family friends let alone the film fanatics so I binned that idea

It was easy to choose the title for my first memoir Dear Tosh , I called it that from the very beginning, it is a series of letters after all. I did try an exercise once when on a memoir writing course, I dug the page out just now, so that I could take a photograph and post it for you to see. There are some good titles here but I’m glad I stuck with Dear Tosh.

We did another exercise when we ‘transposed’ other well-known, book/film titles into ones that worked with our memoir. For example, Brideshead Revisited became Porto Revisited and The Pursuit of Happiness became The Pursuit of Painting Neither of which were very good. But a great exercise none the less.

In my opinion the cover image and design, are just as important as the title and the two things should complement each other. I need to get Will Hartley working on a photograph ASAP. It’s a good idea to have some kind of mock-up of the cover stuck up on your wall where you write, it can keep you motivated. When you look at it, the project becomes real and you have a goal.

I’ll leave you with this thought. . . Do you have a favourite book title and cover? I think I have several but I’ve just picked three from my bookshelf:

Of course my absolute favourite cover to date is this one!

Sorry. . . just had to put that on. Also a reminder that my first author talk is next Thursday 2nd September at St Anne’s Arts and Community Centre in BARNSTAPLE EX31 1SX. Hoping to see lots of you arrive around 18.30. It’s free and hopefully worth turning out for! BARNSTAPLE EVENT

PR Pressure. . . It’s Getting to Me. . .

This is me thinking….

I am tired this week as I was very busy during the end of July and beginning of August. I set up a subscriber list in MailerLite, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I updated my website and I wrote something everyday. It’s now Friday evening and The Man is away cycling in Northern Ireland – I’m joining him at the end of next week — not cycling I might add!

Weather looks better in NI than Dorset!

I planned to write thousands of words of my Italian memoir, but it hasn’t happened, mainly because I went to the drawer (metaphorical drawer) in my computer’s filing system and dragged out a novel that I wrote — and that has been hanging around for years — I finished writing it in 2019 before I did the MA. I actually began writing it way back in — so long ago I can’t remember. Anyway, it’s set in WW2 in Yorkshire (I’m planning a visit soon in person rather than the online stuff I’ve been doing for ages). It’s all there, the characters, the plot, the scenes etc., but it needs a lot of work.

The first thing I decided to do was to change it from the past to the present tense…ha ha ha ha. . . I hear you all laughing after my comments (if you read them) about not liking the fashion for the present tense that many authors use today. But, I have to say, I think it’s given the writing a big kick and made everything more ‘immediate’.

I couldn’t decide which genre the novel slotted into, so I did a bit of digging and having decided the tone and theme were very much like Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn, I searched to see in which genre that sat. It appears to be comfortably placed in the historical fiction department. Hmmm I would have thought it might lean more towards romance but hey, who am I to judge?

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

This might be a little controversial of me but I think the reason for this distinction is because it’s written by a man and apparently (according to some people. . .) men don’t write romance, but you know what? I think they do — but the ‘powers that be’ don’t label it romance Why would that be? Any ideas? Answers on a postcard please.

If you are in or around Barnstaple on the 2nd September then please come and find me at St Anne’s Arts and Community Centre where I’ll be talking about my book Dear Tosh, reading a few excerpts and then there will be a Q&A session. I would so love to see you. IT’S FREE and you can book a ticket here or just turn up on the door.

If you haven’t signed up to my newsletter yet please do. They’ll only be sent out once a month so you won’t be inundated and you can easily unsubscribe.

Bye for now…hope you’re all having a fabulous weekend x

Things Have Changed. . .

There’s been a few changes to the WordPress website. It’s grown and is no longer just a blog…The domain name has changed but hopefully it won’t make any difference to blog followers. Just keep a lookout for NinetteHartley rather than Ninette90. Any problems then use the contact form here to send me a message.

The blog will continue in just the same way so please keep following or if you’re not signed up yet then please do.

Today is just a quick update but look out for another post later in the week.

Ninette x

Book Promotions for Indie Authors

Being a self-published author is difficult. As someone wrote this week, ‘Remember writing the book really is the easy part – publishing is simple – but marketing is expensive, time-consuming, and complex.’ How right they are! Still, gotta keep plodding on.

Today I had a wonderful video chat with fellow memoirist Helen Bouchami  — I can highly recommend her book Am I Still A Mother ?  She and I discussed the highs and lows of being indie authors. We know that there is still a bit of a stigma attached to self-publishing. This may stem from the existence of ‘vanity publishers’ who offer contracts to authors expecting them to stump up a great deal of money themselves and then the company produce a rather shoddy copy of their book. There’s an interesting article from Writers and Artists you can check out here.

We think that we have produced excellent books, both in content and quality. The covers are as good as any traditionally published book — if not better— and although the road to publication was difficult with many bumps, twists and turns, we got there. We are not young and we’re in a hurry to get our ‘stuff’ out there. Finding an agent, who then finds and editor, before pitching to publishers, takes a long time, often years and even when you do land a contract, there’s no guarantee of success. Most authors still have to do a great deal of promotion themselves even when they have taken the traditional route.

Helen and I made a few plans to promote our books which I’m not going to share here yet. . . 

However I am going to begin writing a monthly newsletter full of good things and letting everyone know what’s happening in the world of Dear Tosh as well as including lots of interesting news about books I’ve read, films I’ve watched etc.  If you would like to sign up to receive my newsletter please click  here

Publication Day for Dear Tosh…

Publication Day for Dear Tosh…

20th May 2021 is the publication date for my memoir, Dear Tosh. You can pre-order at any bookstore or online HERE

This is a very exciting time for me but also very stressful! The whole self-publishing journey is proving to be a long and steep learning curve. Next time it should all be a great deal easier…YES there will be a next time…I’ve started work on it already.

 

 

3D V3

 

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR NEWS OF THE ONLINE BOOK LAUNCH OF DEAR TOSH …

Cover Reveal…Here it is….

Cover Reveal…Here it is….

You have no idea how long I have waited to write and say those words. Today is the day.

I hope you all love this cover as much as I do. This photograph of Tosh was taken by his brother Will Hartley, in December 2010. You can see more of Will’s photography here

I think the photograph makes a wonderful cover. Simple, understated, and I love the way Tosh is running towards the viewer. I’m not going to say anymore just yet. I want to give everyone time to absorb the image. More information on publication date etc., to follow.

9781838421007

The Waiting Game…

The Waiting Game…

The final stages leading up to the printing and publication of my book Dear Tosh seem to be taking forever.

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My little mock-up of the book cover. I like to place myself in good company! 

We went to France in October before lockdown and returned in the middle of March, before France locked down again. I don’t regret spending those five months in the Languedoc, we had warmish weather and not a lot of rain, although it was a tad windy for a great deal of the time. The Tramontane wind gusts through the region bringing with it a chill to the air.

 

le shuttle

Le Shuttle

Returning to England was a bit of a pain with all the documents, Covid tests, etc., that had to be completed, but it was worth it all in the end. 

 

Back in our cottage in Dorset. Jpeg was exhausted after her long journey from France — as were we. 

Although our time in France was spent mostly in confinement (lockdown) I am pleased that we went. I would not have been able to finish the book had we not gone. Dear Tosh is written as twenty-seven letters to him; one for each year that he lived. Being in France enabled me to write in the moment but remembering his life and looking back from the point of view of the tenth anniversary of his death, using the dates of 2020 and 2021 as starting points for each letter. I think it works really well.

I sent the word document through to the typesetters and they have now returned it twice with amendments. I didn’t realise that I would have to watch out for errors that occured when transferring my written word through their typesetting software programme. Apparently, it sometimes picks up underlying formatting from word that is not visible when you just look at the document. There were only a couple of errors, but I’m trying hard not to let anything slip by. I’m hopeful that by the end of next week I will have given it the thumbs up and it will be sitting on the desk of the printers by the middle of April. At which point I’ll be able to do a ‘cover reveal’ and begin to put the wheels in motion for everyone to buy it through local bookshops, online or directly from me.

book printing

Printing My Book

I’m trying hard to record an audio version of the book, and have set myself up at home with all the equipment I need. It’s not as easy as I thought. Getting my head around how to save each chapter as a file,  making sure my voice is the same for each recording session, recording volume, editing, mastering… and so it goes on. I think I’m getting there now — although I have started over about three times. I once got as far as chapter 15 but then realised it just wasn’t quite right. It’s a massive learning curve!

Me in my ‘home studio’ what you can’t see is the window is covered with a bedspread and a duvet and behind me there is usually a clothes airer with a double duvet hung over it. Anything to get some kind of soundproofing…not easy when a tractor thunders by or The Man decides to have a loud telephone conversation with someone downstairs! Check out the slippers…they say you should be comfortable…download

Note Number 87…”We are receiving a high volume of calls at the moment…”

Note Number 87…”We are receiving a high volume of calls at the moment…”

Cue OHM (On Hold Music. . .)

This last week I have been frustrated by at least three companies/organisations when I needed to speak to customer services or even send a simple email to them.

giphy

We all know this feeling…

First Problem. I ordered a corkboard and pins, to be delivered from Leroy Merlin it looks like a reasonable shop, you can see for yourselves if you click on the link. Actually, I don’t think there’s too much wrong with them, it’s the delivery company GEODIS who are at fault. First the pins arrived, no problem there but look at the size of the box in which the 15 pins were packed!

The delivery company sent an email asking me to fix a time for delivery, which I did. I of course assumed that the corkboard would arrive at the same time but no sign of it. Oh, and they also sent a text message — it’s important to remember that.

I waited a WHOLE week before chasing the corkboard. Leroy Merlin were very nice and they said that the company had tried to deliver but there was a problem because they couldn’t accept my phone number. I politely told them that one parcel had already arrived and that the company had emailed and sent me a text on a number they were now saying they couldn’t use. Leroy gave me a phone number to call. Remember this is all in French. A little difficult to understand but the answerphone asked me to  go via their website. Which I tried, but I had no tracking number — hopeless. I went back to Leroy who apologised and said they would contact the courier again. More useless emails backwards and forwards then one that said my parcel would be delivered on the 20th November between the hours of 8 and 18.00. Hoorah! We made sure that someone was here every single second of the day. But…nothing. Having emailed again, I am now waiting to see what Leroy Merlin come back with this time. The delivery company only send no-reply emails.

customer services

Customer Services 

Next problem was I ordered a lead from Apple (France) for my computer. The picture on the front of the box did not match the lead which it contained, (same on the website) so I stupidly ordered the wrong one. I can’t fault apple for this, and the help/chat person gave me lots of information about the correct adapter needed. “Can I return the other lead?” I typed. No problem, call the number **** 046 or go to the website. Phonecalls are difficult in French so I opted for the website which guided me through many pages and eventually confirmed the purchase, and “click here” if you want to return the item. I did that very thing, was guided through pages again, only to end up back at the confirmation page. You are supposed to be able to download a returns label, but no…nothing! Then I saw, if you want to return it call this number ****046. I tried, honestly I did, many times and combinations of prefix, but all I received were three pips, meaning the number was unobtainable.  I’m still struggling with what to do with the unwanted lead, although it does say I have until January 2021 to return any item.

Confused-GIF

It’s all very confusing

Number 3. I have changed a subscription to The Week so that we only recieve a digital one. But we couldn’t access the digital version because I could find no way of logging on or even getting a login code. I emailed but they were tardy in their response so I phoned. Here’s where the “for digital, press 1, for subscriptions press 2 for renewels press 3, to speak to customer services please press 4,” and so it went on. I waited while the music played and then re-dialed. This time I pressed 5 for, “if you are thinking of leaving us” guess what? Yep, straight through to a person. Problem sorted in just a few moments. Incidentally when I did receive a reply to my email, it just told me to login with subscriber number…right. The problem was we didn’t have a number, at least all the numbers/codes we did have were not the correct ones,which was why I emailed in the first place…grrr…

The Week

Last Contact problem was the bank…oh my, oh my the bank. First of all the, “We are receiving…bla bla bla” . There is constant music streaming into your ear, which is appalling, and there are constant adverts for this that and the other facility, that you can sign up for at the bank. Then the usual press key number whatever, then when you DO get through, they want you to answer a million security questions. I must remember next time I have to call the bank (which I hope won’t be for a very long time) to have all the numbers, passwords etc., quickly to hand. You have to key them in, and I don’t know about you, but I panic when I have to do that, and my fingers become like over ripe bananas.

On the good side this week is that the weather is amazing, the correct lead from apple did arrive (even though I still have the old one) and on the whole I am a very lucky woman to be spending lockdown in the South of France.

 

Note Number 85… MA…”Confinement” Lockdown…Zooming (again)…

Note Number 85… MA…”Confinement” Lockdown…Zooming (again)…

poppies

Sunday, 8th November 2020. It’s remembrance Sunday in the UK but not in France. Here, they remember on the 11th November each year, which is, of course, the correct date to be remembering. I took a moment or two just now to think about those lost in the two world wars and those who die everyday in some distant war and will pause again next Wednesday.

What a week it’s been! I now have my MA in Creative Writing…pat on the back for me. Ninette Hartley BA (Hons) MA. Sounds and looks good. My mum and dad would be really proud, and I know Geoff, and the rest of our family are delighted. Just wondering if I might be able to add any more letters after my name. . . hmm . . . perhaps not.

Celebrating my MA with a glass of Crémant and my Portfolio of Poems — of which I am very proud. 

COLLABORATION

Dance and Poetry

I learnt so much during the year, but the most impressive thing was the number of books I read, many of them I would not have chosen for myself from a bookshop. I have broadened my reading.  There was a lot to cover in just one year, and part of me wishes I had taken two years and given myself more time for each module. However, as it has turned out with the Coronavirus, after Easter it was taught mostly online anyway. I feel so sorry for my friends and colleagues who are missing out on the face to face teaching and mixing with others to discuss/argue various points brought up during the term. Coffee and lunch breaks in the Post Graduate Common Room were always the highlight of the week.

Last week I took part in an intense memoir writing course organised by Hamish and Rebecca from The Garsdale Retreat . They made sure our timetable was full, with workshops in the mornings, a chat room open in the afternoons and evening entertainment including readings and music recitals. At the end of the week the course participants read from their own work. Cathy Rentzenbrink was the tutor. A famous memoirist herself, with three books already published (which I can highly recommend) and a novel due out in 2021. You can read all about her here . Cathy gave us many useful prompts to help dig deep inside ourselves and to bring all those memories to life on the page, in a structured, interesting and engaging way. I have the tools now, but can I do it? We shall see.

my study

My writing room here in France. Jpeg loves to sit with me in here. Back in Dorset my writing area is on the landing, and she’s never allowed up the stairs. I might have to change that when we get back. Only while I’m writing though. Otherwise she can stay downstairs.

zoom meeting

Happy Zooming Faces

This week was also the second session leading my own Creative Writing Workshop for a cancer support group back in Dorset. They are a great bunch of people, and as we get to know each other, the creative writing juices are flowing (nice cliche for you!). I was nervous the first week, but now I can’t wait for the next session. I consider myself a facilitator rather than a teacher.

view today

View of the valley during our 1hour walk with the dog today (Sun 8th Nov)

The weather has held up this week and we’ve been on some wonderful walks with the dog. She loves it here and we are settling in well for the winter despite the Confinement France’s lockdown, which is pretty tough. We can only go out for one hour a day for exercise and for essential shopping and we must complete an Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire a certificate of travel. You must write down the time you leave your home, sign it and carry it with you. We also have to carry our passports with us to prove who we are. Today is the tenth day of lockdown and we have been careful to obey the rules, so far we have not been stopped – but then again we are on the edge of a small town and mostly walk in the seclusion of the vineyards.

Certificate

Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire,

Has anything else significant happened this week? I can’t remember. . .

american election

Note Number 83…And It’s All Over Now…

Note Number 83…And It’s All Over Now…

Station Kitchen

Celebrating at The Station Kitchen in West Bay

Well I submitted. Twenty-seven  poems in a portfolio with the title, “Collaboration – Dance & Poetry. Only The Man has read the final collection before submission.  It was hard work for four months, but I very much enjoyed it, and I learnt so much on the journey. I had to read and study many different styles of poetry and I think I have finally ended up with a “voice” of my own. I hope so, because finding your own voice, I have discovered, is an important part of writing poetry.

Firebird Kisses Final© Ninette Hartley Aug 2020

The poem above is from “the collection”. I gave it a last edit just before the final submission. I’ve included it here because a few people have “liked” it — I thought it would be a good one to share. It was inspired by the ballet The Firebird first performed in 1910 with The Ballet Russses.

I now want to finish my memoir about the loss of my son Tosh, and of course I want to write a lot more poetry. I’ve already entered a couple of competitions and looking around for more. I’m one of those people who needs a deadline! In the middle of September I’m going to do a Wild Writing weekend in Yorkshire. Watch this space….

I am now in Bristol to collect my two lovely granddaughters to take home with me to Dorset. It will be a break for their mum (my daugther) but now the pressure is off me, I can enjoy playing with them and spoiling them for a few days.

Girls on the Beach

The last time they visited we went the the beach at Charmouth — I don’t think the weather will be good enough this time.