Wednesday 15 February 2017

Write...Edit...Publish February challenge -- Back of the Drawer. My #flashfiction, The Avalanche


January has scuttled off into history and here we are, February 2017! Un-be-liev-able! February is kick-off month for WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) where a friendly group of like-minded bloggers astound each other and random readers every second month with wit, wisdom, talent, sincerity and dexterity, depending on choice of subject.

February WEP is entitled 'Back of the Drawer'. Wide open to interpretation and genre. Everyone's welcome to have a crack at it. It's too easy. 

We accept flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photo essays, artwork...1,000 word limit (but who's counting?) gift card design

We offer an Amazon gift card of $10 to the winner (sorry, folks, that's all we can afford on writer's incomes) and fabulous badges to the winner, runner up and an encouragement award. These visual delights created by Olga Godim, badge-maker and cover-maker extraordinaire, can be posted on your blog to show everybody your brilliance!

As per usual, I've gone the flash fiction route. Sit back and giggle along. I guarantee you'll be reaching for the duster if you make it to the end...

All characters and events in this story are fictitious, and any resemblance to a real person is deliberate. 

The Avalanche

I’m one of those people who can’t throw anything away. You’ve seen me on telly. I'm called a "hoarder". They say I'm suffering from anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder.


They don't understand that having my things around me makes me feel safe, secure, euphoric. Woooooo! But. God. I’m shaking when I remember this, but recently my husband gave away a box. Our daughter was moving out and needed some things.

I was furious.



No. One. Takes. My. Stuff. Pfft!

When I came home from work, I noticed straightaway that a box was missing. How, you might ask? Well, every day I check my stuff when I leave and when I return. The coffee cups he gave away were in that bright orange box of six I bought in the sixties. The illustration on the side showed the cups were orange stonewear with lime green stripes. I’ve never opened the box, but one day I might need them.

My husband told my daughter to bring my coffee cups home.

And she did.


She’d opened them! I ran for my packing tape as soon as she was out the door.


Today I worked overtime at the warehouse when the fork lift driver who relieves me didn’t turn up. 

By the time I get home, I'm in a high state. My stuff’s been untended for ten hours. There’s construction in our street. My boxes will be covered in dust…again.

I drink one restorative glass of bubbly after another, loving the pretty French wine glass from a new set I just opened. My old glasses finally carked it. Well, I do like my after-work swig. But the euphoria of opening that box that was three layers down for, what, twenty years! I recall the trip to the Champagne region where I bought boxes and boxes of the glasses over my husband’s protests.

‘Rachael, Rachael, think of the excess baggage charges!’ Pfft!

He doesn't understand. I have to collect things or I’d go crazy.

Drinkies done, I wobble to the spare room vacated by my daughter and hunt for the stepladder. It’s not easy, cuz I’ve been on a spree. I have this eight by twelve space to fill. There was a linen sale in town yesterday and I went crazy seeing all those gorgeous Moroccan-styled bedspreads. 

I go to the corner where I’ve stored them and pat the boxes. My husband better not think he's giving them to our daughter. I know she doesn’t have much, but she’s not getting my stuff. Why did she have to move out anyway? 

Kids these days.

I slip my hand under my daughter’s old creaky bed and pull out the little box of drawers I hide there. These treasures got me started. My husband would rant if he found it. And my daughter hasn’t done a day’s housework in her life so no chance of her finding them. She says she can’t work in a junk house. Junk house! Youth is wasted on the young! Pfft!

I plonk down on the threadbare carpet and open my box of odds and ends right at the back of the tiniest drawer. I’m not sharing this stuff with anybody. It's mine, mine, mine.

I pull out the napkin, now falling apart, but I can still read the poem my first lover wrote me when we were celebrating Valentine’s Day at Billy Bob’s. The words don’t quite rhyme, but they still make me cry when I read them.

"Will you be my Valentine?
The answer my friend
Is blowing in the wind."

(((sniff, sniff))) I still miss Willie. He blew off in the wind shortly afterwards.

Then I find the "Dear Rachael" note from my next lover who said he’s leaving me cuz I’m not right in the head. That really hurt. Then there’s the rusty old hotel key from that dirty weekend with Krispin. I don’t know why I want to be reminded of that disaster, but that's what happens when you can’t throw anything away.

Without my stuff, I wouldn’t know who I am.

I close the lid and slide it back into the bottom drawer. My daughter’s only been gone a month and already my stuff is growing up the walls, on top of her dresser, even in her bathroom. Soon, I’ll love this room as much as I love my living room, my kitchen and my garage. Surrounded by my stuff, I’m so happy. I’m never happy in the bedroom, though, because my mean husband won’t let my stuff grow in there.

‘We’ve gotta have one room in the house where I can breathe,’ he’s always said. Just yesterday when he left for work, he waggled his finger. ‘If you ever put stuff in there, I’m outta this tip.’

It’s getting late. He should be home. Maybe he’s found the stuff I hoarded in the back of our wardrobe. I tossed out some of his old shoes and suits to make room.

Why isn’t he home?

I need to move some of my stuff off the stove so I can throw dinner together. He rolls his eyes if I haven’t got dinner on the table when he walks in.

Where could he be?

I go to the kitchen, but I’ve forgotten to dust my stuff. Back in the spare room, I pat my new boxes, then drag the stepladder into the kitchen which gets the worst of the construction dust. I move to the living room, but it’s so full of my lovely stuff I can’t quite reach the top of the pile. I stand on a tall box of wooden toys I’ve bought in case my daughter ever has children. 


It’s flimsy. 

Everything comes from China these days. It wobbles under me. I lurch to the side, but there’s nothing to grab except boxes. I end up horizontal under a ton of stuff with boxes raining down on me.

Plop! Thud! Flop! 

How will I ever pack them right again? Ouch. That hurt. My poor head. Probably the box of tools I’ve been hoarding for my husband in case he turns handy. Then more boxes, and more... Another bang on my head. Oh, sweet boxes, don’t do this to me.

I’m completely squashed. I’m buried in an avalanche like those poor people in Italy last week. I hurt. All over. I can’t...breathe. I’ll have to conserve oxygen until my husband comes home.

I’m drifting into unconsciousness, then a terrifying thought hits me.

‘What if he found my stuff in the bedroom?’ 


WORDS: 1091 - sorry, but it was so fun you didn't notice, right?

With thanks to songwriters: Chely Wright / Liz Rose, for your inspiration. And a young friend who told me the coffee cup story (her mother is a hoarder).

CLICK on the list in my sidebar to read more entries...

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Self-publishing continued...Your responses to my post. What works. What doesn't...and the cost of self-publishing.

Recently, I posted about my blog focus for the year. Posting more about Australia was hailed as good stuff by many. 

So, these are my conclusions about blogging in 2017:

  • My posts will have more of an Aussie flavour, as when I started out in 2008 with my travel blog.
  • I'll do some travelogue-style posts. I've been asked for more info on Tasmania, so I might start there. Tasmania is interesting. I lived there for nearly 2 years, so I'll be talking about a state where I have personal knowledge. Well, actually, I've travelled every state and territory of Australia, so I will be sharing first-hand experience.
But this week it's different. For the IWSG, I posted about self-publishing. The comments were interesting, and I am sharing some here hoping they might help someone. I'm not going to link them all, that takes too long, but here is the link to the post so you can see the links yourself. They're in chronological order except for the final one...

F Scott Fitzgerald, a self-published author
  • 'You've had some of your work on Wattpad. What's your take on that? - D.G. Hudson
    • I'm no expert on Wattpad. It has worked for some writers who publish their chapter/s and seek feedback. I'm not prioritising it at the moment, and I've heard there's some hacking of authors' work, but I don't really know if that's true. And an acquaintance found 75,000 readers for her romance, but still can't get a publisher interested, so what's that about?
  • 'Self-publishing is a "Learn As You Grow" path. It is simply a marketplace that is too over-crowded to stand out unless you are a Name. Persistence and Evolving are the only things that will see us through. The more books you self-publish, the bigger your backlist will be should you ever gain fans. That thought is what keeps me going.' Roland Yeomans.
    • I'd be more comforted if I knew Roland was happy with his sales, having published over 20 books. I'm the tortoise, Roland. You're the hare. 
  • Raimey Gallant has a template for marketing your book (keeping track of street teams and everything else) on her blog today for IWSG. And BadRedHeadMedia has a lot of info on building your author brand (for that all-important name recognition). Ronel Janse Van Vuuren
    • Very interesting. Check it out.
  • 'How about doing an additional recipe collection relating to each of your books - Tuscan, Parisian ... then you could add to that ... French, Italian etc refer to the place/ happening in the book ... ?'  Hilary Melton-Butcher.
    • I love this idea. Do you?
  • 'Self-publishing demands all your time and energy when you decide to go that route.' - Pat Garcia
  • 'I have a whole book of ideas and there are so many more new ones available now. Ask yourself - who is your target reader? Where do those people hang out? Now, find a way to put yourself in front of them, via a book club, a conference, articles for websites and blogs, fan sites, etc.' L Diane Wolfe
  • '...we stay with Amazon and KU and KDP etc. because that's where pretty much *all* my sales come from.' - Pepper Words
    • I've read that 75% of all books are sold via Amazon and I haven't bothered formatting for the rest, but am looking into Draft2Digital who do all that for you in exchange for 15% of your royalties -- oh, goody, just heard on the weekend that an actual Amazon office is coming to Australia. I wonder what that's all about? If it leads to lower prices (you wouldn't believe how much extra we have to pay compared to our US friends!), I'm happy.
  • 'As you know Denise, marketing comes easy for me. I help authors market their books. And I also upload for other authors, so I do know some authors are making good money from self publishing.' - Nas Dean
    • Yes, Nas and others like Mason Canyon provide an editing/marketing service. Let me know if you do! I think the cost runs over $300, but I'm open to correction. You can't always book these services as they're very busy. Not many self-pubbed authors can afford these services. But it definitely widens the scope if you hate self-promotion.
  • 'A lot of those statements you made can also be applied to traditional publishing too. Which, if I'm honest, is kinda depressing.' Lynda Young
    • Yep. I'd heard that traditional publishers don't help much with marketing. You have to convince them you have a marketing plan before they accept your manuscript. *chews thumb*
  • 'If you join Payoneer, they provide you with a US bank account that you can give Amazon, which makes royalties *SO* much easier. And I use it myself, so I know it works. Misha Gericke.
    • Whoops. Then I remembered I'd signed up for Payoneer and forgot why. Doh!!
  • 'I’m on the Writer Unboxed Twitter team and my duty is to scour the internet for information on promotion. I post links on both indie and traditional promotion under #WUPromo. This isn’t intended as a plug, but there’s a lot of good information there,' VR Barkowski
    • I love Writer Unboxed. Must check out this twitter feed. Sounds good.
  • 'It's not that I don't want to share publishing/marketing tips, it's that I haven't found anything that works. Nada. - Lexa Cain
    • That is SO DEPRESSING!!
  • 'While I have read many good works that were self-published, I'm disappointed by the number that are sloppy. People who rush the process and don't have their work properly edited. I'm slogging through one now.' Faraway Eyes.
    • This is also depressing. Many of the self-pubbed books on my Kindle I've read 6% and can't go on...I like to read really, really, good stories and aspire to write that way, too. Maybe I'll never get there, but it's a good goal.
  • 'I'll let you know how long it takes me to recoup the cost of editing, formatting, and design. Hmm...' - Yolanda Renee.
    • This is the thing. It's not 'free' to self-publish like some people think. If you do it right (pay experts for different kinds of editing - structural, copy editing and so on, then there's formatting and a professional cover at a minimum), you're looking at $3,000+. You might also hire someone to write your blurb, do illustrations etc. And then there's Print on Demand. Traditional publishing, if you can be so lucky to hook such an animal, helps defray these substantial costs.
Lisa Genova, who self-published Still Alice, then got picked up by traditional publishers.
I just finished reading her Love Anthony. Best read for some time.

So there it is, peeps! I've learned a few more things about self-publishing by throwing it open to discussion last week. I'm hoping more of you will respond to this post and the comments of various bloggers.

  • After reading this and/or my previous post, are you still planning on self-publishing?
See you next week!!

And if you think this post is helpful, please hit the social media buttons! Much appreciated! (I'm going to be posting about social media SOON!)

And here's another plug for Write...Edit...Publish. Please think about joining us. A new challenge comes out every second month. Check out the schedule at the top of my sidebar. There might be something that catches your imagination. You can sign up in my sidebar. Also, you can delete your link if you run out of time/inspiration.

THIS MONTH, FEBRUARY...Back of the Drawer (not your average Valentine's challenge). Tell us your interpretation in a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre is up to you. The artistic choice is completely yours.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

#IWSG post -- What I've learned through my self-publishing experiment.

Howdy people!

Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts for February 1: Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter!

The IWSG question of the month is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Short answer: It's made me aware of all the 'so-called' rules of writing that are broken constantly by famous authors. But also, it's helped me to learn plot and structure which is hard to get just by reading the theory. Not that I'm there yet, but I've improved.

Long Answer: Go to Write...Edit...Publish where Pat Garcia has a great guest post on Critical Reading.

But today I want to come clean about what I see in the tricky world of publishing, in particular, self-publishing.  

WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHING and selling books. (Not much, but I'm not overly insecure about it, just realistic.)

I formatted a book for Amazon just to test how it all worked. It stands alongside other compilations which include a story of mine. I received some great reviews for Under the Tuscan Moon, my vampire fantasy, but haven't sold many copies. I'll definitely be trying traditional publishing for my Paris novel.

This is my self-pub story...(not an episode of Law and Order).
  • Formatting on Amazon is not hard if you follow their intricate instructions, just tedious. I always planned to hire someone to format for me, but as I said, I wanted to try it for myself at least once. Tick. :-)
  • Amazon is very helpful, answering emails quickly and doing what they can to help you which is opposite to what I've read on some blogs. Tick. :-)
  • Their 75% royalties only eventuate if you price your book high enough. :-(
  • Setting up a bank account for receiving those non-existent royalties is a right royal pain. No doubt it's easier if you live in the US. I really think Amazon is for American citizens, so Donald Trump will most likely leave it alone. :-(
  • You don't sell any/many books unless you make the first few pages of Amazon searches and how do you do that? A lot of spamming I'd wager. Or friendly bloggers could get together and all buy each other's books on the same day. :-(
  • Self-publishing is difficult for people who hate self promotion or are basically lazy or don't care less if they sell a book or not. It takes a lot of effort to crack the market as exhausted authors will tell you. :-(
  • Self-publishing works best for people who don't need sleep or are already traditionally-published best-selling authors (name recognition). :-(
Okay, IWSG-ers, if you have a moment, would you answer one/some/all of these questions for me? 

  • Do you have any help to offer re selling books that  you're willing to share?
  • Are you happy with Amazon if you're self-published? Do you sell most of your books through them? 
  • Do you have a marketing plan?
  • Do you see social media as an important marketing tool? (A future post).
Thanks for coming by. I hope to see you again!

While you're here, I'll do a plug for Write...Edit...Publish who announce their new challenge today. Please think about joining us if you haven't before or if you haven't for awhile. A new challenge comes out every second month. Check out the schedule at the top of my sidebar. There might be something that catches your imagination.

THIS MONTH, Back of the Drawer (not your average Valentine's challenge). Tell us your interpretation in a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre is up to you. The artistic choice is completely yours.