Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Paddling in the warm sea of Barmouth Bay.

At this time of year, when many are jetting off to the sunshine of far away lands, there are many who stay at home in the UK. We are one of them, preferring to sample the delights of other countries 'away from the madding crowds'.
Yesterday, we set off to a little known corner of North Wales - Barmouth Bay. Barmouth lies on the west coast of Wales at the entrance of the Mawddach Estuary. The Afon (River)
Mawddach Estuary - map powered by Leaflet.
Mawddach flows into the sea at Dolgellau below the mountains of Snowdonia.

Starting our journey from Wrexham we headed down to the A483 and at Chirk took the A5 towards Llangollen. This is where we were first greeted by the sheer beauty and changing scenery of the North Wales mountains. Tediously following a slow-moving motor home with a car on tow for getting around once parked up, we followed it all the way to the Bala turn-off after which we eventually were able to pass when the driver thoughtfully pulled over. Passing the long length of Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) we took the turning for Dolgellau. From here we were not heading to Barmouth but to the other side of the estuary and Arthog near Fairbourne.  It had been many years since we visited the area with our children, although we had ridden the roads many times on our Gold Wing motorbike ride-outs.
Passing the sign for the toll road which links the two sides of the estuary at a narrow point, we followed the direction which we had been had given. They were spending a get-away-week at a cottage near Arthog with the dogs.

Arthog and Fairbourne in Gwynedd.

The cottage - Bron Aber - more  a  bungalow really, nestled in the hillside below the Cader Idris mountain. It is  well off the beaten track but near enough to civilisation to be in easy reach of all there is to explore. We were blown away by the setting with views down the rolling hillside, the stream bubbling through the gardens which also stepped down the hillside. The cottage had everything that you could wish for. After lunch and chat on the terrace I elected to join the others into Fairbourne to walk the dogs. Passing the point where the railway crosses the estuary on its journey around the coast, we headed towards the beach. Parking up we scrambled over the stones and down the ramp to the sea which lapped quietly on the golden sand in the stiff breeze.
Kicking off my sandals, I headed towards the sea for a paddle. Surprisingly the water was warm. After the sometimes initially cold sea in hot countries, this was a real surprise. Fairbourne has a long, sandy, flat beach. One part is designated a 'no dog' area which is fair. On the other side they can bound across the sands at will. A large grey helicopter droned overhead as it hugged the shore and flew around the headland. Probably it came from the RAF base on Anglesey. Possibly on training manoeuvres. After all our exertions we decided to head back to the cottage to check on the meal in the oven and then pop across the estuary to Barmouth. My husband joined us this time. 


'Yes, you can have an ice cream!', he laughingly commented before I had a chance to say anything.(We always have an ice cream on days out. It has become a tradition.)
We jogged and bumped over the wooded road which is the toll road over the esturary. Parking up by the promenade in Barmouth, we wandered around and found a delightful ice cream parlour on a more sheltered harbour-side. The delightfully named Kickerbockers Ice Cream Parlour was a cornucopia of all thinks pink and fancy. From the pink signs, multicoloured huge candy swirls just waiting for you to buy and sample, all the lights and 'false' ice cream sundae glasses on the shelf behind filled with swirls of multi-coloured ice cream, it was a step back in time. Sitting outside to lick on our ice creams, the dogs lapped up the water thoughtfully proved in special bowls marked 'Dog'. 
Later, after a wonderful day out with family and refreshed by the sea air, sunshine, and breezes, we wended our way through the lush, green roads back home.


Thursday, 19 June 2014

New Sales & Marketing Tools by Smashwords et al.

Amazon KDP recently expanded their reporting tools to include daily sales in graph form and royalties by country. Yes, the title of this post is 'Smashwords' and I am starting with 'Amazon'. But there is method in my madness so to speak. 
The daily sales reporting in KDP iv very useful as you can see at a glance which target markets are being reached. This is useful as Amazon now has more markets than ever before. There is also a handy calendar to select your own data stream.
Smashwords, who use their specialised software to  convert one document to a variety of formats for download from the author's page in the Smashwords store, also ship - if the title reaches the Premium Catalogue for quality - to an increasing number of e-retailers - Apple iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble for Nook, Flipkart, India, libraries via Overdrive and subscription services such as Oyster and Scribd. Time-scales for  reporting from these sites varies. Some, like Apple, report frequently. Others like Kobo, where we have most of our downloads - especially for Just Us Two - really do lag behind and it takes  for instance until the beginning of July for May sales to
appear. So to have a daily report it is exciting,motivational, and encouraging to see what download activity there has been.

Pinterest is a social media site which I have neglected. Not any longer though. I am happily pinning pictures and information to my various boards. I can also pin to my boards images and information which others have pinned to theirs. I saw some lovely shoes on there today. Vertiginous to say the least. And lots of sparkly bits.

Slide Share is a site I first visited at the start of my writing, marketing and publishing career and then - it went on the back burner. For some time I have had notifications of the top slide share presentations of the week and I thought that it was about time I jumped back on the bandwagon. You will find me here. I have uploaded a variety of videos  - some attached to the slide and some presentations.

It is amazing how quickly people see what is posted.

Rosalie xx

Monday, 16 June 2014

Exploring Italy.- with 'Just Us Two'.

Last week, in-between dentist's and business appointments, we pushed on with the book jacket design for the forthcoming Italian delight - The Long Leg of Italy.

Over the years we have travelled from north to south at various times and I am looking forward to sharing our exploits with you. In Just Us Two: Ned and Rosie's Gold Wing Discovery we shared our adventures from elegance of the south of France, riding high above the coast into the north and Lake Garda where we settled for a few days.

The Long Leg of Italy explores other areas such as Rome - the Eternal City - Florence, Venice, Sorrento. We travelled between all these by train. Escorted tours took us more recently to the many northern lakes which are an eye-opener; the breathtaking Brenta Dolomites, and he south of Italy which is a total contrast to the more industrial and prosperous north and seems like another country. In fact Italy is comprised of what used to be separate states which were unified  just over 150 years ago. More here.

Along the way, we took many lengths of video, many photographs, and recorded much of our travels in family newsletters. Revisiting our journeys and adventures has been a wonderful journey for us. In the book jacket we are trying to reflect the diversity of this wonderful country. There is more work in progress . . .  but here is an early draft. 
The boot or toe of Italy is linked to the island of Sicily by a short stretch of water and reached by a ferry. Oh, the tales we could tell here!
Sicily will be included in the fourth Just Us Two Travel book - Island Interludes - where 'Just Us Two' escape to the sun.

Meanwhile, onward with more creative and absorbing tasks in moving the project to publication.

Rosalie xx

Monday, 9 June 2014

A Musical Treat - Estival 2014. Manchester University.

Friday June 6th found me packed into a car along with daughter and husband, two younger grandchildren and their other Granny, and huge bags of food for sustenance on the journey up to Manchester - or rather to cover lunchtime.


Our destination was the  University of Manchester Campus and the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama in particular. Oh what fun and games. The journey was uneventful until our driver started to follow Google Map's directions through the city into the location we needed. I had our Manchester A-Z; workmen nearby gave more detailed directions but we still went round and round passing where we wanted to be with no means of entry. Many streets were not streets you could walk or drive into as they were incorporated into various 'schools' There were also roadworks. Finally, a passer-by gave us correct instructions to the multi-storey car park. later I checked with the box-office lady exactly where we were on the A-Z. The map I had found on the Internet had us across the road and I could only agree with my son-in-law that the Internet directions were wrong. We will all know next time!

MUMS Vocal Showcase.   

Time was ticking away but we met with our grandson and young lady - ate our lunch and headed into the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall for the start of a wonderful afternoon and evening. The lunchtime concert was the MUMS Vocal Showcase.
This included the Manchester University Barbershop Singers (the Amethyst Capella, a group of girls in black with dark pink/amethyst waist sashes, Mantunian Way, a group of boys in dark shirts and trousers, and Tag Line, a group of four of the students with another arrangement.). They sang a wide range of tunes in harmony. The next part of the programme was the Latin Name TBC, a group of 8 voices which 'provides a platform for student choral composition with an ethos to perform everything submitted'. Our grandson James Thompson had written one of the numbers and composed the music. This was our reason for being at the lunchtime concert. Breaking Away from Memories was heart-wrenching and I could feel the pain. 
The conductors of the various parts were also singers ans they changed places. The talent though. I was blown away. It is one thing to sing in such harmony what someone has written but to actually be able to create such wonderful music and words is a real gift.

Exploring Manchester.

To fill the afternoon before the evening concert, I elected to slip off on my own to
Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, Oxford Street. Manchester
wander around the University itself. It is years since I have been in the city - it was always one of our day's out when I was growing up as that is where the best shops were and the now short bus ride from Leigh was then an adventure as our mother shopped with us for new clothes. I wandered into Blackwell's bookshop (who list our print and digital titles online), strolled around the gardens surrounding the open air car park and then headed down Oxford

Street to recce out places to eat for an early dinner. I wandered into a most beautiful
Grandson James Thompson
church, the Church of the Holy Name,  and then headed back to meet up with the rest of the family.

Manchester University Symphony Orchestra.

What a treat and what talent and energy!
The first piece was Veni,Veni,Emmanuel. This involved a soloist but not the usual kind. It was a percussion soloist and third-year student Jack Stone must be congratulated on his focus, at one point dexterity in delicately wielding two drumsticks in each hand, his timing, his speed and fleet of foot as he moved from instruments at one side of the conductor to another set at the other side of the stage and back again. This went on for about twenty-five minutes after which there was a - no doubt for the orchestra - welcome interval.
In the second part, the orchestra played 'Four Sea Interludes' from Peter Grimes  and Suites from 'Romeo and Juliet'.

The journey out of the city was fairly uneventful (tongue-in-cheek) and I had a quiet nap on the way home.

Rosalie xx
P.S. I have to say that I was impressed at the high standard of personal presentation of the students, not only at the events but in the city where everyone appeared to be so 'tidy'.

Rosalie x

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Little Fishes in a Big Pool

Little fishes.

I ended my last post with the following. 'Being a small fish in a big pool, it is heartening to find that our global reach for e-books stretches as far as it does and this would not have been possible without the innovation of Mark at Smashwords. We are actually finding the Kobo is our biggest selling ePub retailer with Just Us Two:Ned and Rosie's Gold Wing Discovery consistently topping our chart. Overall, through the various distribution channels to which we upload  in formats such as print, Kindle, Adobe *pdf,ePub,we are reaching as far afield as China, Australia, Japan, as well as US, Canada UK and Europe.' 

Following on from this and to expand, it is not surprising that the more technical persona/professional/career development books are more favoured in print on both sides of the Atlantic. In truth, as they can be written in as a work-book this makes sense. They
can however, be uploaded for the tutor to use as a teaching aid to a group of students with the participants having their own hard copy or using a notepad at various points in the Topic. They could also have their own copy downloaded to a reading device... Click on the image for free samples and videos.

What else has Rosalie been up to this last week?

Looking at wider marketing opportunities I pushed a few things to one side. I found that I had to get my head around even more guidelines I did however, manage to accomplish the following:
  • Sorting out photos for the jacket design of The Long Leg of Italy now nearing final stages. This took us back down memory lane. I want to capture the essence of the diversity of Italy and hope to have some drafts ready this week to toss around.
  • Pinterest is my new interest. Sorry - couldn't resist. I have been a little late in setting this up.So today (Monday), I have been busy getting my head around all the Java script to be input into the <body> of the Discover-Rosalie website pages and the pages themselves. Eventually I got it sorted and at the second attempt I have nice red Pin it buttons that work. OH laughingly said that he could see the sawdust piling up on the floor where I have been scratching my head. 
  • Compiling the monthly regional report for our Gold Wing Owner's Club of Great Britain (GWOCGB) newsletter from all the information and photos which members sent me. Lots going on as we are in the season with Wingers spreading out to all parts of the UK for Wing Dings and Europe for International Treffens. Our British Treffen is at the showground in Carmarthen, Pembrokeshire this year. I remember the first time we went there and had a lovely ride to Tenby before we marshalled on the Parade of Nations which goes through the town to the claps and cheers of spectators. It is an amazing sight to go into the main hall and see all the nations' flags strung from the roof.
    At the British International Treffen, Wadebridge 2010
    You don't have to be a member of the Club to attend - it helps but not mandatory. You don't even have to own a Gold Wing - but after going to a Treffen I bet that it will be at the top of your shopping list!
  • OH entered Kindle world and we had fun and games downloading the apps needed to download and read an on-line magazine - a special one.
  • On the Kindle front, I recently read the third and final part of The Widow Maker's Trilogy. A review is at the top of my to-do list. The whole trilogy is a must read and will give you an insight into North Wales long ago. . . .
  • I had a potter in the garden, tidying up pots and a small border.
  • A few months ago, I was invited by author Sonia Marsh - no relation - in the US to submit 'My Gutsy Story' for the monthly competition and possible inclusion into her next anthology. Last week, Sonia heard that she had won the Benjamin Franklin Digital Award at the International Book Awards for her first anthology of sixty-four authors' 'Gutsy Stories'. Congratulations to Sonia.
  • Finally, last week I selected and had printed photos from our Golden Wedding at the end of March. I put these in an album together with all the lovely cards which friends and family sent to us. I also framed a large family photo. It is not often we are all together and amazing to see how the family has grown - in more ways than one. Truly a wonderful memento of a wonderful day. (Now you will all be trying to guess my age. Suffice to say that I was a child bride!
I have had my 'travel' head on again, pondering about a road trip into France and the Pyrenees again. Not this year but it does take some thinking about plus one of my favourite activities -planning travel with real maps.

Rosalie xx

Monday, 2 June 2014

Movers and Shakers in the Digital Publishing World

Well, Smashwords certainly are shaking up the publishing world, to the benefit of indie authors and publishers I hasten to add. Three years we thought long and hard before jumping into the ePub world with Smashwords. I make no apologies for devoting much of this post to the latest developments as results speak for themselves.

Digital Distribution.   

Why choose Smashwords for digital distribution? Quite simple really. We could submit a cleanly formatted Word document for their special software to convert to the ePub format and auto-vet for errors. We would then validate the ePub file and correct any errors at our end while it was going through the manual vetting process to ensure that it met retailer's quality submission requirements - in particular Apple. The software converted to other formats for reading on personal computers for example but it was the nitty gritty problem of ePub and distribution to major retailers which was the key. No going through a range of aggregators (the people who upload to different retailers.)

Providing that all stringent quality formatting requirements are met, the titles automatically go into the Smashwords' Premium Catalogue. This was our goal, as from there the title was shipped to major global retailers such as Apple (who carry out their own quality checks) Barnes & Noble for Nook, Kobo to name a few. It was such a cause for celebration when the first titles appeared and have continued to do so.

Since then (2011), the Smashwords reach has spread dramatically with distribution agreements to libraries and, more recently, subscription channels such as Scribd. (whom Mark reported had improved their Copyright Protection Systems, removing unauthorised copies of books , Oyster, and more recently to e-retailer txr.com who also power the e-book store for Foyles, a large UK bookseller. We have already broken through into the Scribd subscription market. At $8.99 USD per month, subscribers have access to a mind-boggling range of titles to browse or download. Click here. (The first book with the hunky male isn't one of my titles!)

Little fishes.

Being a small fish in a big pool, it is heartening to find that our global reach for e-books stretches as far as it does and this would not have been possible without the innovation of Mark at Smashwords. We are actually finding the Kobo is our biggest selling ePub retailer with Just Us Two:Ned and Rosie's Gold Wing Discovery consistently topping our chart in Canada, New Zealand and GB.. Overall, through the various distribution channels to which we upload all titles in formats such as print, Kindle, Adobe *pdf, ePub,we are reaching as far afield as China, Australia, Japan, as well as US, Canada UK and Europe.