Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin-sorrel soup with roasted pine nuts

It's cold outside and I'm sitting with a blanked over my knees like an old lady. I've refused to turn on the heating until yesterday. This October has been the coldest one in years, no t-shirt days unlike there were in the past years. I even put on my gloves when I cycled to the garden yesterday. It was freeeeeeezing! Well, then again I was tired after a terrible night of interrupted sleep, which made it worse.
Never mind, once the heating was on, and I had a soup to warm me from inside, I felt much better and my fingers warmed up so I could continue writing on my 'rant', which, by the way, is coming along nicely. I expect the book(let) to be out by mid November, then hide in a cave until the storm is over. Not really, but I expect to ruffle some feathers, and that was my intention. Sometimes you have to stand up and say what people don't want to hear to make a difference.

Next to me, in his house and close to the window, sat the dragon, kicking back. He's slowly coming out of mating season and started eating again. Not heaps, but we'll get there. And it's about time, I'd say, season started in April! Just as I type this he's sitting on his upper hangout on the heating mat, one leg hanging down and his eyes closed. A proper doze. I can't tell you how cute that looks. Showing is not an option, because he doesn't like my hairdo today, so he won't sit still and let me take a picure. But I'm able to post one of him chilling yesterday. Not sure how he can find lying in that position comfortable, but then, I'm not an iguana.

I'll now go ahead with writing and wish you a great weekend. If you're somewhere outside and need something to warm your cockles afterwards, here's a picture and quick recipe for the soup:

You need:  
Pumpkin puree
Lovage or Celery/cerleriac

Cut the sorrel and lovage roughly and throw in a hot pot with some butter/oil. Add the pumpkin puree, stock and milk, season and heat everything properly. Either use a hand blender if you only make a portion for two, or a proper liquidiser if you cook for more people. (The hand blender will make it fluffier.)
Serve and decorate with with any sort of roasted crushed nuts, or pumpkin seats, whatever you have available. I used pine nuts.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'm still out to get you, Indies ... :-)

Another preview of my WIP (mind the typos!): I hope that by now you know that I'm not including all self-published authors, and that I'm dishing it out extra hard to those who don't use their brains. And that with a wink. It's my ranting voice, and I just love a good rant. To be fair, it's not even a proper one. I posted something similar about a year ago, so you may recognise some of it. As I said, it's my thoughts and experiences I'm putting into this book. The reason for the all this is to provoke, to make people think; mainly those who plan to venture into self-publishing, so they can avoid mistakes others (including myself) made.
Oh, by the way: I've come up with a really great title, which, on its own is a deliberate provocation, albeit a word play. No, no, you need to wait a little longer, but not too long; I'm planning to get the 'booklet' (it won't be big) finished by end of this month, then make it pretty to be released some time in November.

I've written a book, now I'm going to be famous!

I think that's what many writers assume when they make the decision to go indie. No, you're not! Well, unless you're pulling some kind of stunt that nobody has ever seen before, your books are most likely to end up in the big belly of Amazon or Smashwords, without being noticed. Even after you've flogged it to all your Facebook friends and Twitter followers, found a few willing reviewers (not friends and family!), and when the five days of free promotion in the KPD Select programme are over and you had 20k downloads. There you stand, scratching your head when readers are reluctant to buy. Imagine me sighing deeply. Yep, welcome to the real world, my friend. Better get used to it.
Since I've published in March 2011 the market has grown rapidly. Any idiot can write a book�if they've learned to hold a pen, that is. Everyone has a book in them, people say; the thought of it scares me stiff to be honest. There are a lot of people I wouldn't want to read the book they suddenly decided they need to get rid of. No, man, thanks. We have enough shite to deal with already. Keep your book where it lurks, lock the door and throw away the key. Please, spare us the pain. Seriously, would you want to read the book that drunk twat, who was standing outside the pub all night, bawling obscenities, wrote? I know I wouldn't. Luckily, not only has he thrown away the key, but also his brain cells. That's a relief.
That still leaves thousands if not millions of wannabe writers just waiting to unleash their drivel onto the unsuspecting reader. Admittedly, not all of them are bad, some even have talent, and a few more show immense promise. For every writer there's most probably a reader, but that doesn't mean they will ever meet. And that's what self-published authors often don't get into their heads. Some of their Facebook friends will buy a copy, 'just to support' them, but most probably never read it, or maybe read it and never mention it again because it was that terrible, or maybe they will read it and tell other authors about the book and there, it stops. Because authors are not your audience, dear Indie. Readers are. And to get to those precious end customers is the major hurdle you have to overcome. Even the most stunning writing will sit on the bottom when no reader ever reads it. But don't go running exchanging downloads and reviews, that's not ethical. Here's what many readers already think, myself included: indie authors can't be trusted. They exchange a few e-mails and will die for each other. This is, of course, an exaggeration. But if an indie author recommends something to me, I take it with a kilogram of salt. Unless it's someone whose writing I've liked in the past, I will possibly take a peek at the sample of the recommended book and then move on.
It's all the 'we're in it together' that goes against my grain. I don't write for the community feel, I write because I love to write, although, between you and I: I hate it, but I love to look back at the many brick walls I've hit and broke down, the tears, the fuming, the whining and moaning; I love remembering the days when the writing flowed, or when I thrust through one of the barriers that kept getting in creativity's way. Writing a book is torture. Does it make me a masochist? Probably. But it mainly makes me a perfectionist. I can lose myself in fiddling with one paragraph for ages. I'm determined to avoid the things I hate in self-published books: terrible plot, flat characters, repetition, or boring the reader. That dedication is what I miss in many self-published books I've read.
Buuuuuuut, you will argue, what about those bestsellers with one-dimentional characters? They became huge in spite of this. So I don't see the point.
Fine, is my response, but by working a bit harder to please yourself and make the book a little bit better, you will hardly devalue your book. If anything, you'll have less negative comments, ripping your book apart for bad characterisation or sloppy editing. That's got to count for something, right?
A writer who takes pride in his craft will constantly find something to improve, lose himself or herself not only in writing, but in good writing. Many 'writers' I've met are losing themselves in the thought of being famous, of selling many books. Money shouldn't be the reason to write, unless you are a copywriter, or have a similar job in the industry, other than being a novelist. Of course you can hope for selling lots of books, I do, but don't go and blame the readers when it doesn't happen. Blame your writing, or your lack of marketing skill, or both. If you did everything in your power, employed an editor, polished the manuscript until all errors were gone and you still don't experience sales, at least accept that you just didn't hit the spot. Nothing wrong with that. The book may be great, and some readers may leave you favourable reviews, recommend it to their peers, tell you how much they loved it, but if it doesn't meet the requirements of the general public, you can stand on your head, juggling oranges with your feet, the books won't sell. The only thing left to do is to continue writing and hoping for the best. The truth is that only a small percentage of authors will make it big enough to live their dream, and even less become famous.
But do me one favour: if you have more negative reviews than the few positive ones your wonderful friends and family have left; when people tell you you can't write to save your life; when the reviewers you've begged for honesty come back saying they couldn't read the book for it was just too terrible on all levels, then please take a deep breath and consider your trial over. Nobody said you must give up writing, but maybe you're not the author you wish to be. 
I always compare it with x-factor: how many times did you shake your head at one of those poor sods who can't sing a straight tune, wondering why nobody has ever told them they can't sing?

For my visitors from Japan:

Yes, you lovely people who have popped by my blog regularly. I know you were here, I saw it. :-)
I have no idea what your reading preference is, but if you have been waiting to get your hands on my books, the wait is over. Here's the link to all of them: Stella's books on

And here is how it looks like (I love it!):