Book review: The Greek Salad (Grammatakia series)

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The Greek salad is a delightful book that teaches Greek in a unique way; not only does it teach a host of useful words and phrases, but it also introduces the reader to many facets of the Greek culture. For one, this book in the Grammatakia series is all about the infamous food culture that is immense in Greece. Sofia is celebrating her name day and is preparing a typical Greek salad for her guests, but the ingredients are not exactly cooperating. Instead, they are busying themselves with various Olympic games! The illustrations are a joy to behold, especially the ones featuring Sofia’s cousins; they are a truly delightful bunch! There is also a sheet of stickers inside the book that I’m sure will delight students of Greek of all ages. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the series will bring. I recommend this to anyone who loves my country and would like to learn a bit of Greek without worrying about its (admittedly) painfully difficult grammar! (I received a free copy of the book in return for my honest review.)

My rating:

5-stars

Delightful!

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Looking for a short book that will teach you a little Greek and entertain? And I don’t mean just the kids! Look no further  – check out this brightly colored delight on Amazon now! (Available only as a hardback)

Alternatively, visit the Grammatakia website and shop from there. The book can be shipped from Australia anywhere in the world! As soon as you buy the paperback, you will receive an email with a video link where you can read the whole book digitally as well!

 Check out my interview with the author, Yannis Nikolakopoulos.

Learn Greek the fun way with The Grammatakia series #Greek #Greece #ASMSG Click To Tweet
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Book review: How to get good reviews on Amazon

How to get good reviews on Amazon

I devoured this book. A lot of the advice made sense to me and I’d been following it all along instinctively, but there was so much more in this gem of a book that left me absolutely gobsmacked. I cannot believe how easy it is to identify a nasty reviewer, for example, who hides behind a nickname. That little tip is one of the best I’ve ever been given and I am very thankful it was included in the book. The bits about the forums were scary and left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve been keeping away from forums for this reason and reading this means I now know for sure I never will. There is sound advice throughout the book, most of it reminding us the plain truth that people are basically the same. Honesty and a little flattery will get you anywhere. Mind you, I found myself guilty on a couple of non recommended practices, mainly when I first started on my publishing journey. I will certainly adjust my course of action as necessary. Thank you Theo Rogers for these precious insights!

My rating:

5-stars

A book of precious insights

 

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Are you interested to take a peek behind the curtain on the world of reviewers? Are you ready to get inside their heads, learn the jargon, and the best way to approach them? This book will open your eyes and teach you a thing or two!

Visit Amazon

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Great romance deals by two fabulous authors

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Hello! The summer’s upon us and, if you’re anything like me, chances are you’re looking for new books to add to your reader in time for your upcoming vacation. I was doing this very thing today and was delighted to find three unmissable deals by the fabulous Donna Fasano and Carmen De Sousa.

You know me, I felt compelled to share the news so you don’t miss out! But first, to say a huge thank you to Maria Savva for the delightful chat we recently had on her Goodreads blog. I scarcely do interviews these days, but Maria came up with a refreshing set of questions and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. To take a look, go here.

And now, the deals! Have a great vacation and happy reading!

 

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Some lucky women meet the man of their dreams and live happily ever after. Some lucky women focus on a career and make their own happily ever after. And then some women wake up after fifteen years of marriage and discover that their luck just ran out … right into the arms of another woman.

Jana Embers isn’t one to sit back, though. The first thing Jana realizes she needs to do is empty the joint bank account, then she’s thinking she might take a tire iron to her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s truck. After that, she’s not sure what she’ll do … Maybe she’ll adopt a cat.

FREE!  Visit Amazon

 

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When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind…stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren’s personal life isn’t chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can’t stay on the right side of the law. What’s a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.

$1.99  Visit Amazon  US   UK

 

reclaim my heart

USA Today Bestseller

Sixteen years ago, Tyne Whitlock cut all ties to her past and left town under the shameful shadow of a teenage pregnancy. Now her fifteen-year-old son is in trouble with the law, and she is desperate for help. But reaching out to high-powered attorney Lucas Silver Hawk will tear open the heart-wrenching past in ways Tyne never imagined.

Forced to return to the Delaware Indian community where Lucas was raised, Tyne and Lucas are tempted by the heated passion that consumed them as teens. Tyne rediscovers all the reasons she found this man irresistible, but there are scandalous secrets waiting to be revealed, disgraceful choices made in the past that cannot be denied. Love is a powerful force that could heal them both—if the truth doesn’t rip them apart.

$0.99 Amazon US only! Visit Amazon US

 

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Book review: Truly Madly Greekly by Mandy Baggot

Book

I loved this book for two different reasons. The first one is that it transported me effortlessly and swiftly to the Greek island of Corfu, my favorite corner of the world. The second is that Mandy Baggot kept me interested with her lifelike characters that were full of surprises. I loved the suspense in the beginning where you were given only hints of the characters’ past. These sparse tidbits of information certainly kept me interested to keep reading as to find out more. There are both funny and dramatic elements in this summer read, which makes it anything but your typical chick-lit novel set on a Greek beach, but  the story-telling was exquisite and I lapped it all up.

 

My rating:

4-stars

An enjoyable beach read with funny and dramatic elements

 

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Do you enjoy books set in Corfu? Are you looking for a romantic, beach read? Give this sizzling hot romance a try! Visit Amazon.

Check out my interview with Mandy Baggot on this site!

 

A review of Truly Madly Greekly by @MandyBaggot #ASMSG #IAN1 #Booklovers Click To Tweet
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Old photos and memories from Corfu

Today, I thought I’d share a couple of photos that my author friend Stephanie Wood sent to me recently. One day, Stephanie saw one of my posts about Moraitika, Corfu and the name rang a bell. Next, she was going through old photo albums and found evidence that confirmed her suspicions: she’d spent a holiday there back in the 80s but, over the years, had forgotten the name of the Corfiot village she stayed at. When she wrote to let me know, and to send the photos she found, I felt delighted. If I could re-acquaint her with such a blissful part of her past and, what’s more, stir in her the desire to return there one day, I felt my work was done.

It’s been a year now that I’ve been shouting it out from the rooftops of Twitter and Facebook that I am mad about Moraitika and Messonghi, the villages I set my romance trilogy in, and called them Vassilaki and Messi respectively in the books. It gives me great pleasure when people write to me to say they’ve been there in the past and that my posts caused them to start dreaming about them again, spurring them on to return!

So, to keep the fire inside your hearts kindling, this post is for all of you who, like me, adore these two quaint, heavenly corners of the world. Those among you who’ve been visiting since the 80s may enjoy remembering how these villages looked back then. You’ll need to forgive the low resolution, of course. These are grainy, as they should be, otherwise they wouldn’t be so precious, right?

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This picture from Stephanie was easy to identify as a picture of Moraitika beach.

 

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Now, this one gave me a hard time. It took me a while to identify the place and finally I realized it’s the road heading towards Moraitika as you come from the river bridge. Actually, this spot is very close to the bridge but it’s missing the big roundabout that’s in the middle of this road today. Back then, there was no roundabout and, depending on when in the 80s this photo was taken, there’s a chance the Messonghi river bridge wasn’t even built yet!

 

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Throughout the 80s, there were many restaurants offering live syrtaki dancing every night in Moraitika but only one had its dance floor by petrol pumps! And that was Paizanos petrol station on the main road (a petrol station still operates there today, and it’s situated near the bookshop/post office).

 

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This one is the last of Stephanie’s snaps and it’s my favourite, simply because it’s a picture of Martaouna, the pyramid-shaped mountain on the right that I can’t get enough of marveling at when  in Moraitika or Messonghi. Visible from both the villages, it houses the village of Spilio. Next to it, the Chlomos mountain is missing the two tall masts that are visible on the top today.

You can see a similar view of these mountains from the 80s in another picture courtesy of another Messonghi lover, my friend, Julie Reeves:

Messonghi beach 1982 by Julie Reeves

This was an utter delight for me when I first laid eyes on it. At the time, there were few touristic businesses in Messonghi and this photo reflects this. I used to stay at my aunt Rini’s house (aunt Rini was the sister of my grandfather, Spyros Vassilakis) for a few days at the time back then and would spend the whole day with my cousins Rini and Sofi Tsatsani. The house was just behind the building in the foreground. Seeing this photo caused a myriad of precious childhood memories to flood into my head.

Thank you Julie Reeves and Stephanie Wood for bringing back these memories!

I hope you’ve also enjoyed this short trip down memory lane. If you have similar old photos that show how these villages used to be in the 70s or 80s feel free to contact me as I’d love to see them. If I have a nice selection, I’d love to post a similar post in future again.

Before I go, to let you know that the terrific site Tripfiction asked me to contribute to their blog and, you know me, I came up with an article about my favorite place in the world – Corfu. Read it here and find out, among other things, what is the best time in the year to visit Corfu town and where on the island you’ll find freezing cold waters even in the summer! Ok, so I’ll spoil the surprise on the second one because I feel compelled to share the below pictures! Just look at these gorgeous views of the bay at Paleokastritsa that Julie Reeves took the other day:

In case you haven’t heard of Tripfiction before: If you search for your favorite locations in the world on this site, it will show you books set there! Nifty, huh!

Have you holidayed in Moraitika, Messonghi, or anywhere else in Corfu? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!

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Only on Amazon

Click here for the book trailer and a free excerpt of The Ebb.

 

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How to read all my books for free

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Yes, you heard right. And no, I haven’t gone mad! But, as I believe that one needs to invest in their business before they can reap any benefits, I’ve decided to offer my future books for free to all my loyal readers.

To do this, I’ve created Team Effrosyni. Members of the team will be receiving my future books for free, plus they’ll have access to exclusive giveaways and other special offers.

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Actually, I’ve just set up the very first giveaway. Among the prizes, there are three tote bags, perfect for beach (or Corfu) lovers! The giveaway is open exclusively to Team Effrosyni members so make sure to sign up. It’s FREE!

Go to the Team Effrosyni page and check it out!

 

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Interview with Kathryn Gauci

Today I’m pleased to welcome Kathryn Gauci, a Brit living in Australia. Kathryn’s historical saga, The Embroiderer, takes the reader on a riveting journey through tumultuous historical events from the Asia Minor Catastrophe in 1922 to Greece in the 1970s. Kathryn is a woman of various artistic talents, as you’ll find out during our chat today!

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1822: During one of the bloodiest massacres of The Greek War of Independence, a child is born to a woman of legendary beauty in the Byzantine monastery of Nea Moni on the Greek island of Chios. The subsequent decades of bitter struggle between Greeks and Turks simmer to a head when the Greek army invades Turkey in 1919. During this time, Dimitra Lamartine arrives in Smyrna and gains fame and fortune as an embroiderer to the elite of Ottoman society. However it is her grand-daughter, Sophia, who takes the business to great heights only to see their world come crashing down with the outbreak of The Balkan Wars, 1912-13. In 1922, Sophia begins a new life in Athens but the memory of a dire prophecy once told to her grandmother about a girl with flaming red hair begins to haunt her with devastating consequences. 1972: Eleni Stephenson is called to the bedside of her dying aunt in Athens. In a story that rips her world apart, Eleni discovers the chilling truth behind her family’s dark past plunging her into the shadowy world of political intrigue, secret societies and espionage where families and friends are torn apart and where a belief in superstition simmers just below the surface.

(A Greek translation will be available in bookstores throughout Greece from September.)

VISIT AMAZON   US   UK

 

Hello Kathryn and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Effrosyni. I’m thrilled to be here today.

What has inspired you to write The Embroiderer?

The seeds of The Embroiderer were sown during my years working as a carpet designer in Greece, 1972-78. The company was situated in a suburb of Athens populated by refugees from The Asia Minor Catastrophe, 1922-23. Working among these people, many of the older generation who still conversed in Turkish, I grew to understand the impact of the disaster and the intense yearning these people still held for their lost homelands (once a part of Greece, now in Turkey), the land of their forefathers where they were no longer able to reside in. Significantly they shared a separate sense of identity, so much so that fifty years after the Catastrophe, many of them still referred to themselves as Mikrasiates (Asia Minor people) and still chose to intermarry.

The Asia Minor Catastrophe was a pivotal turning point in Greek/Turkish relations. Friction between the countries had begun a century earlier with the Greek War of Independence. Millions lost their lives in the 1920s and out of the ashes emerged two new nations – the Turkish Republic under the soldier statesman, Ataturk, and the Hellenic Republic – modern Greece.

Today, most of the white-washed prefabricated homes in the refugee neighborhoods in Athens have been replaced by apartment blocks, but the street names still bear testament to their origins: Byzantium Street, Pergamum St, Anatolia St, Bouboulina St, and Misolonghi St. to name just a few. Women no longer spill out of their doorways sitting with their neighbors and chatting while embroidering cloth for their daughters’ dowries. There are not many basement shops selling bric-a-brac and musical instruments from the ‘old world’ any more but, if we look closer, the history and the spirit of these people still resonate in their everyday lives. You’ll find them in their music, their food, the plethora of Turkish words and phrases that punctuate the Greek language, and the ancient belief in the evil eye. Most important of all, it is through the time-honored tradition of storytelling that keep their memories alive.

The Embroiderer is as much their story as it is mine.

I can sense your love for these people in your words. It’s very moving, Kathryn. The yearning of the Mikrasiates for their lost lands is well recognized still by the average Greek. What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

It was a “mini” novel called Adventure in Spain which I wrote in a notebook when I was twelve. Amazingly, I still have it. It’s hilarious but it does show that even at that age, I had that yearning for adventure.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

When I gave up textile designing to write, I still wanted to keep my hand in design so I bought a kiln and took classes on glass slumping and flame-worked jewellery. I love the translucency of glass and the way the colors react with each other. From time to time, I still put together ranges which I sell in a glass gallery in Melbourne. I also love to cook and am constantly trying out new recipes.

Oh my goodness! Well done, these are fabulous! What are you working on at the moment?

My current WIP is set in France (with a small section in England) during WWII. It’s a suspense story which developed while researching The Embroiderer – spies, clandestine operations of the Resistance, etc., and a fated love affair, of course. After this one, the novels will be set back in Greece and Turkey. I have at least four different themes lined up – different eras and places, although one is speaking to me louder than the others and I am already working on the plot.

It all sounds very intriguing! Who are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

Louis de Bernieres, Orhan Pamuk, Giles Morton, Khaled Hosseini, Sebastian Faulks, Rohinton Mistry. Of the older ones, Kazantzakis and D.H.Lawrence. I love their writing style, the settings, the emotions they evoke, and their strong characters. Most of all, I love it when I can immerse myself in another time and place and get swept along in their struggles.

I love Louis De Bernieres! Birds Without Wings, set in Asia Minor, is one of the most astounding and unforgettable books I’ve ever read. Kathryn, being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

I’m still working on that, Effrosyni! I’m great at making excuses – you know the sort – it’s too cold, too hot, not enough time etc., and much prefer to cook or sit in the garden enjoying a glass of wine. Having said that, I have started on my walks again and aim to walk five days a week.

Sounds like a terrific plan! Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor and actress you’d cast to play them in a film adaptation.

Hard to choose. Perhaps Maria Nafpliou as Sophia, Sissi Hristidou as the red-haired Maria, and for the men, either Theo Theodoridis or Panayiotis Bougiouris for Andreas or Nikolai. I’d also love to see the Turkish actor Yılmaz Erdoğan as Vedat Aksoy.

Describe your workstation. Are there any favorite objects you have there for inspiration?

My writing room

I write in a small room surrounded by books. It opens out onto a patio. I have photographs of my cats on a nearby shelf, especially one who sat with me while I was writing The Embroiderer. I might make notes everywhere else but it’s only in this room that I can pull it all together. I rarely listen to music here except when I need to conjure up a particular mood in my writing.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in life the hard way?

Nothing comes easy. You have to work to get what you want.

Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

I love writing blogs. It hones my writing skills and allows me to indulge in a subject that takes my fancy. Unfortunately I haven’t yet mastered the art of the short blog post so I usually do this twice a month. The themes are almost always on Greek or Turkish subjects. They can range from oriental carpets and fashion, to mastic from Chios or the Asia Minor Catastrophe and are usually art and history based. Like yourself, I also do author interviews under the heading A Literary Life. At the moment I interview Greek authors and I am looking forward to doing one with you very soon, especially as you have your new book coming out.

Thank you Kathryn. I hope to publish The Amulet sometime in the next few months and will get back to you on this kind offer in due course. Thank you for being here with us today; it was a treat for me!

And a pleasure for me, Effrosyni. Many thanks!

Kathryn Gauci2

Kathryn Gauci was born in Leicestershire, England, and studied textile design at Loughborough College of Art and later at Kidderminster College of Art and Design where she specialized in carpet design and technology. After graduating, Kathryn spent a year in Vienna, Austria before moving to Greece where she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. There followed another brief period in New Zealand before eventually settling in Melbourne, Australia.

Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio in Melbourne for over fifteen years, work which she enjoyed tremendously as it allowed her the luxury of traveling worldwide, often taking her off the beaten track and exploring other cultures. The Embroiderer is her first novel; a culmination of those wonderful years of design and travel, and especially of those glorious years in her youth living and working in Greece – a place that she is proud to call her spiritual home.

Website: http://www.kathryngauci.com/

Blog: http://www.kathryngauci.com/blog/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KathrynGauci

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006545417928

 

Meet historical author and terrific artist, @KathrynGauci #ASMSG #IAN1 #bookworm Click To Tweet
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Author, your newsletters may be getting rejected!

Today, I’m going to share a cracking good tip for indie authors and online marketers in general. It all started recently when my author friend, mentor, and founder of eNovel Authors at Work, Jackie Weger, mentioned that newsletters from Mailchimp are now being blocked by free email providers like Yahoo or Gmail. It was pretty scary, so I made sure to sign on to Mailchimp and investigate.

I accessed my newsletter list, clicked on the ‘settings’, then ‘list name and defaults’, and surely enough, I got this warning message:

mailchimpscrprint

I clicked on ‘learn why’ and it took me to a very informative article on the same site which you can read here.

Basically, it’ll tell you that free email providers like AOL, Yahoo and Gmail are changing their DMARC policies (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) to protect their users from online scammers. Unfortunately, the new strict checks mean that email coming from Mailchimp may be blocked now. Why? Because the free email provider will run a check and see that even though the from address is, say, a Gmail one (as was in my case up till recently), the email didn’t come from Gmail but from Mailchimp. This may cause the ‘sending’ email provider to inform the receiving email provider to reject the email!

Say, for example, that my newsletter is going to an AOL user. In this case, because the from address is a Gmail address, Gmail may suggest to AOL not to deliver my newsletter.

From the above, it’s made clear that in order to safeguard the delivery of our newsletters, we need to change the FROM Email Address on the above screen. Mailchimp advises to use a domain address.

In my case, I needed to create one on my domain, Effrosyniwrites.com.

And this is where things went south for me. Those who have been following my blog, know that I created this site with an online tutorial as I share here. This is because I know very little about domain registration and web hosting. Sadly, even though I had to go into unknown territory, I overestimated my abilities. I assumed that in order to create a domain email address, I needed to go to the site of my domain registrar.

When I did, I found a screen for email forwarding and, without hesitation, created an address and clicked ‘save’. A couple of hours later, my website crashed! There was no way to access it! I contacted Hostgator, my web host, and they told me the domain didn’t point to them! I didn’t get  a stroke, but I got pretty close. That’s what I looked like for a few moments staring at the screen, I can tell you!

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Anyway . . . Once I got some color back to my cheecks, another visit to my registrar’s site confirmed the two name servers I had set up to point to my site on Hostgator had been changed to names I didn’t recognize. What followed was two days of painful waiting and back and forth visits to Hostgator and my domain registrar. After a lot of online chatting and frustrating emailing I realized I’d done a big boo-boo. When I requested email forwarding on the registrar’s site, they presumed they were my web hosts so automatically changed the DNS settings (and the name servers) to the default ones they use. My mistake, of course, but it didn’t help that they had no warning message on the screen (like they did in others) which warned that any changes would change the name servers too.

Anyway, so I was advised to make the changes on the web hosting site instead . . . and of course, I canceled the email forwarding and changed the name servers back to the original settings. Once I’d done that, it was a matter of time till the DNS servers propagated the change all over the internet. It took two days but it was the sweetest feeling when my site was accessible again!

cat happy

So. Now you know what NOT to do, I’ll show you the right way to create a domain email address.

Go to the site of your web host. In my case, this is Hostgator so I’ll give you details for this company. Take the equivalent steps for your own web host, if different: Sign on the C Panel, scroll down to ‘mail’, click on ’email accounts’. There, you’ll create an email address. I chose ‘contact’ as to create contact@effrosyniwrites.com. Make sure to use a strong password! See here how to create one and why hackers will never guess it!

hostgatormail1

Once you’ve created the email address, the options under ‘more’ in the above screen will take you further. I recommend you always use the Walk Me Through feature, like I did. It helped me feel more confident as I went from page to page.

Now, once you’ve created the address, you’re ready to access Webmail. i.e. get a screen where you’ll be able to receive and send messages for that email address.

Hostgator lists a few email services to choose from. I chose Roundcube. See below.

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Roundcube is easy to use. I tested it, by using one of my free email addresses to send a message to contact@effrosyniwrites.com, then I replied from it and received fine.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready for the final step. Keep the screen on Roundcube open and go back to that warning message on Mailchimp:

mailchimpscrprint

So, on this screen where we started, you now need to change the from address. I deleted the Gmail address and put in its place the new one I created at Hostgator.

Mailchimp then sent me an email to this address. This is standard practice so they know I have the right to use it. When the email arrived on Roundcube moments later, I clicked on the link Mailchimp sent me and, hey presto, Mailchimp accepted my new From Email address.

After the trouble I’ve had, I was so delighted at that point I had to stand and do a happy dance!

happy girl

Do this, and you can have peace of mind too that your newsletters will hit your subscriber mailboxes without any mishaps. Oh! And the added bonus here is that when your subscribers see  a domain address instead of a free one in your newsletter, it helps them recognize your brand! Never underestimate the prestige factor where your brand is concerned.

Now, you may think I’m done advising you but I’m nowhere near finished. Setting this up and avoiding blacklisting in the process seems to me like a legendary trip to Ithaca fraught with danger worse than Cyclops, Sirens and all things nasty that even the great Homer couldn’t have thought up . . . So be warned of the following dangers too:

Some of you may think it’s tedious to have to access Roundcube regularly (or whatever equivalent you will have picked via your web host’s site). But, it is imperative that you check this new email regularly once you’ve created it. Free email providers may send you messages to check it’s an active and legitimate mailbox. Be warned not to leave it unchecked for long periods as it may get blacklisted even then! But if you don’t want to have to check the email too often, there is a solution for that. The first thing people do for this purpose is set up email forwarding. Once you’ve set that up on your web host’s site, the domain address emails will be forwarded to wherever you choose, say, a Yahoo address. But here, you run risks too!

Why? Hostgator, in this useful article, explains that email forwarding can get your domain address blacklisted as well! (Agh! I know, right?) For this reason, they advise that instead of email forwarding, you set up mail fetching. i.e. that you go to your free email provider and set up the mail fetching there. In my case, I tried to get my Gmail address to fetch my domain email but I’m sorry to say, I failed to do so. No matter what I tried, the darn thing wouldn’t work. In the process, I did another online chat with Hostgator staff who gave me even more options (various server and port settings) but to no avail. If you try this, I wish you good luck! Yahoo doesn’t provide a mail fetching option yet for private domains so I’ll probably try again later in future. For now, I’m happy to access my domain email via Roundcube. It takes just a couple of clicks to get to it via my Hostgator C Panel.

I hope this has been useful, and I wish you good luck with this set up. Apart from the unnecessary stress my silly mistake brought on me at first, setting this up on my web host’s site took a few minutes and it was easy to do.

If you have any information on the subject, or if you try this, do comment below and let us know how it went!

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Interview with Maria Savva

Today, I’m pleased to welcome a Londoner, who happens to be one of my oldest Greek online friends. Maria Savva writes terrific short stories and loves to promote music as well as books. If you love Rock music, you’ll love the exciting resources Maria shares today!

 

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A family saga spanning fifty years and three generations…

Cara fell for the tall, dark, handsome stranger, fifty years before. Now Frederick is about to return to her life. Can true love stand the test of time?

When Cara’s granddaughter, Penelope, flees her home to escape a violent husband, Cara’s world is turned upside down. She returns to Huddlesea, the town she grew up in. Her estranged sister Gloria is less than happy to see her again. Can they rebuild their relationship after the tragic circumstances that tore them apart?

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

lostandfound

Human nature is not neat and predictable.

What makes us betray a loved one?
Can isolation lead to irrational behaviour?
Why do other people’s lives always look more appealing?

VISIT AMAZON  US  UK

 

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Nigel Price has MURDER on his mind.

He can run but he cannot hide. Nigel’s past has come back to haunt him. The truth is, his past has never left him… it follows him without remorse, catching him at every turn. There is no escape. Regret, guilt, nightmares, despair… these fill his every waking hour and disturb his sleepless nights.

Take a trip inside Nigel’s mind, in this dark, psychological thriller with a paranormal twist.

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Hello Maria! Welcome to my blog!

Thank you for inviting me, Fros!

Maria, knowing what a prolific author you are, I bet you’re always working on something new. So, what are your current projects?

(*laughs*) Indeed. I’m currently working on a new novel. The first draft was easy enough to write. It only took two months and that was working around my full-time day job. The editing is a different story! I had it edited by Bob Helle who is a professional editor I found through my good friend Darcia Helle (the surname is a coincidence; they are not related as far as they know!) I then sent the book out to a couple of beta readers. One of the beta readers was Darcia. She spotted my ignorance about the difference between stun guns and tasers, and she also found a couple of other minor issues. This led to me re-reading the book and changing some bits. I am known for being obsessive about editing and every time I read the book I find more things to edit. So far the editing process for this one has been about ten times longer than writing the first draft! I think the light is at the end of the tunnel though, and I should hopefully be sending that out for formatting soon.

I’ve also started another collection of short stories. These were five stories that just came to me in the space of about the same number of days. They are at the very rough draft stage at the moment, but I’m hoping to make them part of a collection.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

I love music and going to gigs. I started writing a music blog a few years ago for the UK Arts Directory and when that closed down last year, Maria Haskins (author and poet) asked if I’d like to join her Real Rock and Roll music blog. She’s been running that for a few years and we have a very similar taste in music. I suggested that Darcia Helle also joins us because she’s as mad about music as I am. Now the three of us have two blogs between us, Real Rock and Roll, and another one called Soundwaves Review for anything that is not-quite-rock. It’s a lot of fun being part of that blogging gang, and all the new music I’m finding feeds my music addiction (*smiles*)

Sounds wonderful! Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

More and more these days, my favorite authors are my fellow indie authors. I love the passion they have for the writing and how they keep going even when there is no sign of any reward at the end of all the hard work. Some of my favorites are Darcia Helle and Maria Haskins (my two fellow music bloggers, who also help to keep me sane!) Michael Radcliffe, who is one of the most talented authors I’ve had the pleasure to know and is also so kind and helpful; Julie Elizabeth Powell, who has written hundreds of books by now, I think. She’s a great friend and very supportive. Her writing is so imaginative. I’ll stop there, but I have been blessed with many wonderful indie author friends and the great thing is I also love their writing.

Do you have any advice for other indie authors?

Try to make sure your book is the best it can be before you publish it. The urge to publish quickly is always there, especially when you write your first book because there is a lot of excitement about getting the thing published. Publish in haste, repent at leisure. I read a lot of indie books because I like to support indie authors and I do notice lots of typos. The stories are usually great, but the editing lets them down. Just taking that extra time to polish the manuscript really makes a difference. I’d recommend always using a professional editor for novels, as well as a few beta readers. Every reader will be reading the book from a different perspective and so you’ll get more accurate feedback if you use a few beta readers.

Are there any sites or writing tools that you find useful and wish to recommend?

My cover designer Kat from Aeternum Design is amazing. She designed the covers for “A Time to Tell” and “Lost and Found”, and I’m also using her for my new novel. I used to design my own covers, but have learned that for a book to sell it has to have a certain type of cover. Professional cover designers know what sells and what doesn’t. It’s all about marketing and reader expectation of what should be on a cover. It’s like a different language. For example, I went to a conference a few years ago and was told that for a chick lit book there should always be some pink on the cover and the title should be in swirly script, and it should include a woman’s leg from the knee down.

That’s right. There are standards in images, colors and fonts so the reader is informed about the genre on a subconscious level as soon as they lay eyes on the cover. It’s pretty thrilling once you’ve delved into this. It amazes me as well.

(For the benefit of my readers, here’s a pretty awesome post on the subject on Freebooksy).

Indeed. Now, I would never have guessed most of that, but apparently it’s what sells the most. I think spending a bit of money on a good cover is worth it in the end.

Also, I’d recommend EBookBuilders for formatting e-books. I think they also do print books now too. My contact there is Deena; She’s an expert in book formatting!

Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

My website is designed and maintained by someone else because I am clueless about setting up websites. He did a great job with the design. Readers can find all my books listed on the site. I try to add news there whenever I have a new release. It links to my Goodreads blog, which is where I do most of my writing-related blogging. I’ve posted my book trailers there, and there’s information as to where you can buy the books. I’ve also added some links to other sites, and to my social media.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I think I’d miss the freedom to publish something exactly the way I want to publish it. I’ve heard that editors for mainstream publishers will change things because they are only interested in what will sell. There is a formula for what sells books and that means that there are certain expectations. Just like the book cover design, there are things that readers want and expect. The big publishers have obviously tapped into that formula, so if I publish through them I’d probably get sales, but at what cost? I think there is a place for all types of literature. I read so much fantastic indie fiction that is being turned down by the big publishing houses. Readers are missing out on these gems. It’s like all the indie music that I’ve been discovering on my blog; there is an underground scene that no one knows about but it’s brilliant. As indies we just need to find a way to tap into the market. Obviously, if I was offered a publishing contract with a major publisher I’d consider it, but it would have to be under the right terms. I wouldn’t want to sell my soul.

What were your most and least favorite subjects in school?

I loved History, Biology, Art, and English Literature. I didn’t understand Physics. I was actually a genius at Maths until about the age of ten and then it went downhill. I failed the O-Level!

LOL! This has been a delightful chat. Thank you for your time, Maria.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work, Fros.

 

Maria

Maria Savva lives and works in London. She is a lawyer, although not currently practicing law. She writes novels and short stories in various genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Her short stories have appeared in the BestsellerBound Anthologies and she is a regular contributor to the The Mind’s Eye series of books. Maria is also a music blogger at Real Rock and Roll, and Soundwaves Review.

Website:  http://www.mariasavva.com/site/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Maria_Savva

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Maria-Savva-171466979781/

Real Rock and Roll blog: https://realrockandroll.wordpress.com/

Soundwaves Review blog: http://soundwavesreview.com/

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About hardship, angels, and my new book

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Whoa! Life keeps throwing me curve balls this year. Just as I’d thought a death and a life-threatening illness among my family members weren’t enough since April, another hit of iron-deficiency anemia had me literally tumbling down last week. I can tell you, spending the last six days in a dark room with nausea and migraine has been no fun either. Okay, I’ll admit it. I got depressed. I cried. I thought to myself, why the hell this keeps happening to me? Why can’t I enjoy my life like the next person? But then, I thought of all the happy times in my past. And the fact that life likes to test us. And let’s just say that I like to get ballsy with the Fates every time they strike me down. Instead of giving up, I always ball my hands into fists and shake them at the sky, affirming hardship can only harden my determination to never let go of my dreams.

I’ve mentioned more than once in my interviews that I believe in angels. Many times I’ve felt their presence at my lowest points, and have even received unexpected messages from them when I needed strength. Like two years ago when frozen shoulder set in. From January to June that year I remember very little. I slept sparsely because the pain never let up. I spent every night wandering around the house like a zombie rubbing in heat-inducing cream and crying my eyes out. And yet, where was I every morning? At my desk. Writing. Promoting myself and others. Even on the days when my shoulder was so painful I couldn’t lift my hand off my lap. On those days I typed with one hand. I was slow. But I didn’t miss a single day’s work. That’s how I affirm my determination to the cruel Fates.

A few days before my shoulder began to freeze that fateful January, something weird happened in my study as I was sitting at my desk…

A post-it note fell off the wall before me where I had pinned it on a nail and landed on my desk the right way up and the right way round. In this note I had written my favorite quote: “I am not a drop in the ocean. I am the ocean in a drop.” Astounded, I read it back to myself as it lay before me delivered by an invisible hand, and I knew then it was a message. And, during the five harrowing months that followed, I often thought about that note. It was meant to remind me how strong I am. It told me to brace myself.

And would you believe it? Before my mother got ill with the big C and my beloved Corfiot grandmother passed away on the island of Limnos (both last April and at the same time!), again my angels sent me a prior message. You guessed it  – another item fell by an invisible hand in my study as I worked. Now, I realise I risk sounding like a rambling fool. Many will say, “it’s coincidence”, and others may even suggest earthquake tremors. And it’s your right to believe what you must. I’ll just say nothing else has ever moved of its own accord at any other time in my house. At least not when a gust of wind or very loud sound waves can explain it. Plus, my study is a windowless room and I always work in utter silence.

As with the first message, this second one came a few days before my family life turned into hell, as I explained before. This time, it was a DVD that fell off the shelf. I wasn’t anywhere near it at the time; I was working on my computer when I heard it crash to the floor. I looked down and my blood turned to ice. It was the British series, The Village. Back then, my parents and grandmother were holidaying in the village of Lychna, in Limnos – my father’s homeland. Since they’d left Athens in January I’d been having a bad feeling… like I wasn’t going to see my granny again. So when that sign came, I knew something horrible was going to happen soon. And the message was a fair warning. A way to assure me that, whatever it was this time, I wasn’t going through it alone. And again, it saw me through.

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So, here I am today making a point to tell you that a) I have reasons to believe every single one of us is protected. We are not alone. If you care to believe it, it will help you through the hardest times b) I also find strength in the caring thoughts of others. For one, in the incredible love of my mother who, despite her own ordeal, kept bringing in cooked meals and squeezing oranges like a mad thing for me for the past few days while I was unable to do as much as sit up…

And do you know what makes us strong? It’s love… consider a hater for a minute. Won’t hard times make them bitter? Won’t they make them begrudge the joy of others? You bet. And that’s why that person has no strength. They have nothing to hold on to except for their pitiful, weakening, catastrophic hate. But love… love for our fellow humans, not just our friends and family, burning desire for our dreams, love for what we enjoy in life will see us through and help us move on in no time.

As always, we have a choice.

Even though none of us can avoid hardship, we always have the choice of how to react to it.

Now, I have some exciting news to share:

RLFGEMaward

First, to say that Kayelle Allen’s blog, Romance Lives Forever, has presented me with the Top Blogger award and is featuring The Ebb on their left sidebar for a month as a result. If you can spare a minute, please visit Kayelle’s site and share a random post from her blog. Thank you! I’m sure she’ll also be very appreciative.

Secondly, I’ve just created a book trailer for my next book, The Amulet. And, surprise-suprise, it has angels in it! I hope you’ll enjoy it:

As you know, it never rains but it pours. So, last week, on top of me being unwell, this site was down for two days. But, you know me, I found a silver lining there too. I learned new tricks in the process of fixing the problem and will blog about it in due course to share my insights. It all started with me trying to enhance the delivery of my newsletters with the use of a domain email address… but knowing very little about Web Hosting I did things the wrong way and caused my site to crash. Silly me, right? But as I said, it was a way to learn, and I’ll soon tell you how to avoid the pitfalls and go straight to sweet success. Stay tuned!

Till next time, keep smiling and keep believing!

amulet cover 3d book

Katie has a guardian angel . . . she just doesn’t know it.

Click here to find out more about my supernatural rom com, The Amulet.

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