Rhubarb gin anyone?

Okay then, I said I was going to attempt some rhubarb gin, so here we go…

Husband mentioned to a friend that I was after some fresh rhubarb, and just like that I end up with a bag load! (Note to self; I really must plant some in my garden, I love the big leaves and I have the space for it…)

I gave it a wash and top and tailed any of the stalks that needed it, and set to work.

 

I like a nice neat layout of ingredients, makes me feel organised. (Which I’m totally not.) But incase you’re interested, I have one litre of gin, 1.5 kg of washed and cubed rhubarb and 450grams of castor sugar. Couldn’t be simpler.

(A quick aside, I asked Husband to grab the gin, and just told him any old one would do… He comes back with Greenall’s, which I’ve never had before, and after a quick question to Google I discover that Greenall’s is the second biggest distiller of gin in the UK, making most of the supermarket brands and also Bombay Sapphire. Clearly needing to have a taste beforehand, I can tell you it was pretty good, add a slice of Cucumber and some tonic water and you could sit me in the sun and leave me there. But there was work to be done…)

 

I evenly shared the rhubarb into two mason jars,

and did the same with the sugar, then added the gin, and gave it all a good shake

to dissolve the sugar.

 

 

 

 

Now it’s just a case of giving it a shake every-so-often, and in four weeks it will be ready to strain and drink, just 

in time for the next bank holiday me-thinks. Lets hope the weather is just as good.

J x

 

Vero True Social ~ It’s time to do a little investigating.

Well Howdy Lovely Folks, and welcome to a rainy Bank Holiday in Great Britain.

(And if you don’t live here, there are specific Mondays each year that are public holidays, and it generally rains. Like always. You can set your watch by it.)

Anyways, moving on. A few weeks back my attention was captured by a ‘brand new’ social media app that wasn’t like the others; it was shiny and new, and didn’t have ads and let the feed run chronologically… Sounds like The Dream doesn’t it?

And the name of this new nirvana, was Vero True Social. So you can bet your last glass of wine that I hotfooted it over there and got myself an account, while my name was still available. While it was still free. While it was still new…

I shared a link to other, generic, old, not so fabulous social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter… ) to see if others had migrated. And that’s when blade fell.

It would seem that Vero was the root of all evil. It was being bank rolled by BIG money, the developers hadn’t been paid, and it owned absolutely everything you posted, including your voice and your image!

Twitter users were stirring up storm, urging people to leave while they still could. Lawyers and journalists alike were posting like crazy, to get out. ‘Get Out, Now!’

And in the mix of it all, it turned out the app couldn’t handle the sheer number (under a million) of people trying to signup. It was crashing and lagging, and the villagers were readying their pitch forks and lighting their torches, and so I sadly let the dream of a social media platform with no ads, and posts that appeared in order (!) die. Twas a tragedy.

And then, a funny thing happened. Facebook exploded into the headlines with the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The menace that is ‘Social Media’ was once again everywhere we looked. There were posts about How to delete Facebook, How to absolutely delete Facebook, How to really, definitely, delete Facebook and make sure that you’d taken all your data back too… (People really believed they could do this… truly. *head desk*) And a few people probably shut their accounts — but no-one I knew. It seemed that Facebook was such an integral part of the lives of Generation X, that the fact it probably helped to rig a US election, and sway the British vote to Leave the EU didn’t matter.

So on the back of a such a revelation, my guilt abated some, and my dream of an ad free, in order, social media slowly began to rise from the ashes.

It was time to dig out the deerstalker and find out if I could have Vero and keep my conscience intact. It was time… for Research.

And here’s what I have; Vero has been running for a couple of years with low user numbers — under 300,000 in fact. But in early February it got some traction on Instagram, and shortly after was recommended by Gary Vaynerchuk – and if you don’t know who he is, he has 1.7+ million followers on Twitter, and 3.1 million followers on Instagram. He also invests in Twitter, Snapchat and Uber. (And no, I can’t tell you how many people he has on snapchat cos I’m old, and I don’t have it. 😉 )

Once Vero got the thumbs up from him, everyone sat up and took notice. So I could let my conscience off the hook a teeny-tiny bit. Maybe there weren’t High-rollers banking him??

Now-then, onto the whole ‘he didn’t pay the developers of the app’ argument.

This is slightly more complicated – firstly, it’s completely wrong. He did pay the app developers. That was just chinese whispers social media style, completely missing the actual truth.

The truth is worse – The founder of Vero, Ayman Hariri, is part of a family construction company, who didn’t pay thousands of Filipino workers and left them stranded in Saudi for over two years. Unable to work or go home.

Vero is now completely dead to me, so dead that I’m now going to tell everyone to boycott it… Except things aren’t cut and dried. The company was being run by someone else, Saudi had a new Crown Prince who changed all the rules, and the construction company went bust too. (This article is the most concise on the topic.) Now I’m kind of reading between the lines; most CEO’s have a backstory, the same as most people… (And the workers did get to go home, and the Saudi government had a lot more to do with it.)

But even having more fact, and both sides of the story, and all that twaddle… Surely I’m not going to use Vero when they own everything I post, including my likeness and my voice! Why, I could wake up to find they’ve cloned me!

(Which in truth, wouldn’t be too bad, you know, I could use the help. But anyway…) 

And that’s the thing with Vero’s CEO, he makes himself available, and he’s answering all the difficult questions. Could they be lies? Sure. But politicians lie to us everyday, and we let that slide. The whole terms of use thing, means the app can allow everyone to share data for the purposes of the app. And even if there wasn’t small print in the terms of service, it didn’t stop Facebook selling off all our data, did it?  (Mashable have a great article on this, btw.)

So there it is. I’m off to Vero. Do come find me 🙂

Spring gin anyone?

Okay, so Mothers day was a couple o’weeks back, and my tribe bought me some rhubarb and ginger gin…  

Now, I feel I should say, upfront, that gin is my summer tipple of choice.

(Not winter, gin is far to cold and fizzy for that – winter is a time for red. A good, heavy red.)

Anyway, I got off topic; back to the gin. Now then, is it just me, or does there seem to be something of a gin-revolution sweeping the nation?

Which is fine with me, except there are so many varieties circulating that I find one, I like it, and then I can never find it again! It’s a real trial I tell you.

So I’ve developed a course of action – I’m going to make me’ own.

Yup, I tried it last year about this time, with parma violets.

Yes, you read right 😀 thank the heavens for amazon. I ordered a box of giant parma violets, pulled a large mason jar from the pantry, used regular old gin, gave it a shake every so often, and Boom! Summer deliciousness not to be forgotten.

This time, it’s rhubarb or bust. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Jx

Author Marketing Tips

Happy rainy Bank Holiday Writerly-Folks.

I thought i’d use this grey, Sunday afternoon to share a few things…

On the 19th of May my book, How to Build an Author Platform, was released to the world, and I had a little Facebook party to wish my words well on their travels, and the feedback from the launch party has been pretty great, so I thought i’d take all the marketing tips and hints from the launch and put them all in once place.

This book is a nuts and bolts approach to getting your ‘author self’ out there, I’ve kept it simple, stress free and super cheap.

Because the thing is, we don’t all have oodles of pounds to throw at marketing. Not to mention the fact that i’ve got a better chance of finding the end of the rainbow than getting a bookbub. But I digress…

So, this blog is all the post’s from the Facebook launch. Here we go…

 

Welcome to the Facebook launch for How to Build an Author Platform, a book for all of us writerly-types who are just trying to reach the Perfect Reader.
Today will be all about tips and tricks — just remember that they don’t all apply to you. As I mention in the book, you only need TWO dedicated social media platforms (that match your audience) for your books and your author self ~ it’s important that we don’t overload ourselves.

Let’s get this boat in the water 🙂

 

 

The book is Available on Amazon, Kobo… well, pretty much everywhere.

 

 

 

 

Let’s spend some time looking at what we can do with all the different social media platforms that are available to us.

And we’ll get the day rolling by talking about Goodreads.

 

…and once you start to get your goodreads audience growing, don’t forget to post you book updates and vlogs/blogs there, as your followers will see your posts in their feed. After all, Goodreads is the Facebook of the reading world…

 

Now i’m a youtube junky, i love to talk about writing, moan about writing and panic about writing over on youtube. (I’ve also made a series of videos that go with this book, you can find them here.). I’ve also created a little Facebook Group where i’ll be sharing any marketing tips, and social media changes, to help you all stay up to date. It would be lovely if you’d like to join. I’m aiming to post once a week ~ so no nasty spamming. 🙂

 

Let the whirlwind tour continue ~ Do you use pinterest? I waste a horrendous amount of time there! ~ but don’t forget to create a pinbaord for your book, make your cover the front image, and put an amazon link in the description box. Include all sorts of images that refer to your story. This is the board for my fiction release earlier in the year, the BOARD has a good number of repins and followers now.

 

When you’re sharing your book’s link to amazon, don’t forget to get a universal short link first ~ you can choose the tail of the url to match your book, and it automatically links back to the amazon store in the readers country. It looks neater and more professional. You can do this at Booklinker.

 

If you think that Facebook and Twitter is already taking over your life, and all this information feels like even more of an overload ~ don’t panic, and don’t think you have to start doing everything.
One of the big things I talk about in Building an Author Platform, is creating a structure that leaves you feeling more in control and with more free time, not less.
Our minds won’t be able to wonder to creative places if we are constantly worried what Instagram wants.
We’re still writers…

 

Okay then, instagram top tip, coming your way ~ don’t hashtag the post, hashtag in the comments box underneath. It’s a lot cleaner, you can put more hashtags in without being annoying, and it get more responses.
I’ve been doing it this way for the last few weeks, and my posts are already getting more l<3 ‘s ~ here’s My Account, in case you were wondering 😉

I talk about hashtags in the book too, how they work and how to use them. It’s important to do a bit of upfront research on which hashtags work best for your genre, theme and the audience you’re trying to attract.
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Now, let’s look at social media etiquette, I discuss this in the book too. (And mailing list etiquette.)
Think of the things that gum up your feed. The things that make you unfollow.
Now look at what you post ~ it can be better to not post at all than to panic post, or panic post with wine… (believe me, I know)
The thing that get’s me is a constant stream of cat pictures with cute sayings, over and over again…
I’m a writer, so I’m noisy (occupational hazard) and if I follow, it’s because I want to see what you’re cooking and where you’re going, and once you decide what personal stuff you’re prepared to share, (keep in your comfort zone,) your audience will definitely be interested.

 

I mentioned mailing lists in the last post, if anyone has any specific questions i’ll try and answer them. But it’s a big topic; I could do a whole launch on that alone. There’s a chapter on just mailing lists in the book; what to put in them, how to manage them, how to get people on them…

But the true fact is; you gotta have a mailing list. It’s a necessary evil.

 

This next post is about The Facebook Launch ~ how to do them, and what to say, and as it’s more involved here’s A Little Blog about it.

So we’re into the last act of this little launch, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that you’ve found some useful ideas in amongst it all. If you have any questions or thoughts on further videos you’d like to see, just let me know.

As writers we’re pretty hard on ourselves, we procrastinate and beat off crippling self-doubt, and nobody understands a writer quite like another writer.
And as one crazy writer to another, i’d like to say thank you so much for coming today.

Jx

And don’t forget to come on over to the Building an Author Platform Facebook Group if you’d like more of this kind of crazy 🙂

How to … Using Facebook events to Host a Book Launch.

So, I’m having a Facebook book launch today for my new book, Building An Author Platform. It’s a book full of marketing tips for authors trying to find their Tribe. Without spending a fortune or living Every waking minute on social media…

I’ve had a couple of questions ahead of time, from authors who are interested in how to launch a book on Facebook, so I thought a wee blog might be in order.

First things first, here is a (very) basic video of how to set up The Event on Facebook

Now once you’ve done this, you can have the biggest conniption fit about how the heck you’re supposed to keep people entertained.

And that’s where this blog comes in;

Number one, make your launch two to three hours long – only go longer if you’re comfortable being live on-line for that long.

I’ve set mine for three hours, during the school day ~ I couldn’t think, answer questions, panic about whether I’d understood the question, try and drink a cup of tea, and also try to answer very serious requests for dinner, or where are his other trainers are…

(I’ve actually scheduled my launch to stay open till 8pm, but I’ve clearly written in the description that the launch will finish at 2pm, but will be available until 8pm for people who are working and want to pop in and have a nosey later.)

After the logics were sorted out…I Got Prepared

Panic is the mother of organisation, let me assure you.

My launch today is about author marketing, so I’ve written lots of little tips (on a word document) about things authors can try to do, to reach more people and engage with them. I’ll then copy and paste one status every ten minutes or so, and hope my guests find them useful and maybe ask questions. I’ve created a couple of blog posts too, as I’ve had questions ahead of time (thank goodness), and so I’ve written a more detailed response. I’ve used YouTube and Facebook video where I can. (I’m not brave enough for Facebook live yet — but who knows, by the end of this day, I may jump in)

But if you’re launching a fiction book, here’s some things to thinks about;
Have a list of statuses that you can post every ten minutes or so. (Including website links) It will take the stress out of it.

What era is your book based? Can you choose music that matches? — if so, find the music videos on YouTube, and put them on your page, giving a short, chatty reference about how it relates to your character. Or something like “and we’ll kick today off with this number from the 80’s, when (my character) was born..”

Is there particular food or drink in your book, tag up recipes.

Where is your book based; post some gorgeous photos of the backdrop that inspired you.

Is your heroine a fashionista – post some pinterest photos of the outfits she would wear.

Think about your ideal reader and what would appeal to them? Gardening, walking, trees, stars, horoscopes…

The list is endless, post lots of interesting snippets that will leave your audience desperate to find out about your characters and their journey.

Having the posts prepped up will leave you completely free to chat with people.

Good luck with your launches, Writerly Folks.

J x

How to… The Goodreads Giveaway.

Now the giveaway is a funny animal, books cost money, postage costs money — you have no idea if this person wants to read your book, or if they just want something for nothing. You can’t even guarantee they’ll review it. So what’s the deal?
I’ve done a couple of goodreads giveaways, and i’ve found them to be pretty successful, and here’s why.

They bring readers to you. You are offering them the chance to test you out.

But there’s more to it than that. The giveaway usually helps you to pick up followers on your goodreads profile. It also sees your book getting added to lots of ‘to be read’ shelves.

(Just as a quick aside, to be read shelves on goodreads most often contain THOUSANDS of books, but don’t be disheartened, it’s still helping with exposure.)

If you have a couple of paperbacks that you’re willing to part with, i’d say go for it.

You going to reach a wider audience by including the US, (or Oz if you’re closer.) So be prepared to write off £15.00 on postage for two to three books.

It’s always good to let the give-away  run for a good six weeks, as you get more activity this way. Try to end on catchy date; Valentine’s day, Christmas Day, Easter, a bank holiday – any date that you can call your giveaway something. (It helps with promotion) For instance, Welcome to the Christmas Giveaway for (book title) don’t miss out on a chance to win one of the signed copies up for grabs…
Or something like that.

Goodreads give you some html too that you can put on your website, so you can link your giveaway directly.

My first book was published in January 2017, and i decided to go out under a pen name ~ not for any other reason, than someone else has my name, and my dot.com, and she’s a writer, so I thought better of it ~ So just before Christmas I was setting up new Facebook, twitter and goodreads accounts — all under my new name. I had zero followers.
But my first giveaway was for the UK, Europe and the US, and my profile is starting to pick up…..

Goodreads 

And yes, Amazon offers giveaways too, but only in the US. I’ve got one running at the moment, i’ll be back in mid June to let you know how it went. And if you’re in the States and you like Romance with a Dash of Magic and you fancy winning a copy of my fiction title, Thunder Moon, here’s the link…

Amazon.Com GiveAway

The Wonders of Train Travel

So on the train home from London I ended up sat next to a yawner.
And not only was he a yawner – oh no. He was also a spreader – his legs braced so far apart that he had a knee in the isle and a knee in my leg space.

Coupled with the fact that every article he read in the paper warranted an exhalation of “god no,” and “oh bloody hell,” while he continued to shuffle his arms and rattle the pages, budging me further and further against the cold window.

You can imagine the variety and quantity of expletives running through my mind.

He fidgeted and bustled, phone constantly buzzing and beeping, while sniffling and scratching. Seemingly trying to engage every passenger in the carriage in one way or other.
And you know, I’d really like to be able to offer a few constructive words about how being sat in a confined space with 15 other people means that we should make the effort to speak, smile, make eye contact or connect some way.

But the truth is, I can’t. Because we don’t. There are a lot of odd-bods out there, and after the stuffy, noisy and squashed carriage ride, I can tell you this;

most of them travel by train…