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.)

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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!

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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

 

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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:

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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, ladyofthepier@gmail.com (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!

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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!

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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:

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So, on this screen where we started, you now need to change the from address. I deleted ladyofthepier@gmail.com and put in its place contact@effrosyniwrites.com

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!

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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?

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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?

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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:

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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!

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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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Interview with Isabelle Broom

Today I’m pleased to welcome Isabelle Broom, a fabulous author from Britain. Her novel, My Map of You, is set on the stunning Greek island of Zakynthos (Zante). The book is on my TBR list and I can’t wait to start reading. Take a look!

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Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother’s death, she’s become expert at keeping people at a distance – including her boyfriend, Rupert. But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart. But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?

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Ed waited until all the eyes in the room were on him before he began. He took a deep breath, inhaling as he did so the sweet scent from the lilies, which were arranged extravagantly in front of him. ‘Ladies and gents, I promise to try and keep this short and sweet…’

When Billy asked his best mate Ed to be his best man, Ed knew he would have to make a speech and he was dreading it. But he also knew how important it was to Billy – and to his soul mate and wife-to-be, Amelia. So Ed is determined to do them proud. But little does he know that it will be the most important speech he will ever make, and his toast – ‘To Billy and Amelia – together forever’ – will mean more than he ever thought.

A beautiful short story to remind you of the importance of love.

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Three women. Three love stories. One city.

For Megan, visiting Prague with her friend Ollie is just business. Nothing more. Because if she admits the truth she might lose everything.

For Hope, this trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the city when she knows how angry her daughter is. And that it’s all her fault.

For Sophie, Prague has always been magical. And now she’s counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her in the city that holds so many of their memories . . .

On preorder – Visit Amazon  UK

 

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Hello Isabelle and welcome to my blog!

Thank you Fros, it’s exciting to be here!

What has inspired you to write My Map Of You?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, for pretty much as far back as I can remember, and I’ve been coming up with stories since I was a child. When it came to a novel, though, I struggled. I wanted to write something with meaning, a book I could be proud of set in a place I loved and about a subject that meant something to me. When I first visited the Greek island of Zakynthos back in 2000, I knew I’d found the place. I fell in love with it immediately, and I’ve always had such a deep pull to the island. It was this feeling, this sense of being a home, that I wanted to explore in a novel. So, over time and through my own confusion, heartbreak and self-discovery, My Map Of You began to emerge.

I know what you mean. Zakynthos is stunning! What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

The Shipwreck (Navayio), the most prominent landmark of Zakynthos

I used to have this big blue exercise book, and each page had a space for a picture above around ten lines for words. I would draw a picture on the top half of the page, and then write a short story to go with it. They had titles such as “The Magic Rubber”, “The Music Box” and “The Very Happy Pencil” – but I was only five or six at the time, so you’ll have to forgive me!

LOL! What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I’m currently wrestling with the edit of my second novel, A Year And A Day, which will be released on 17th November this year. It’s another escapist romantic drama, this time set in Prague a few weeks before Christmas. It follows three women, who arrive in the city as strangers but leave with their lives inextricably linked forever. It’s a story about the power of love, and being brave enough to put your heart on the line.

Sounds like a heart-warming Christmas read! 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.

Oh, I love this question! Let’s start with my heroine Holly who, in my mind, has always looked like the actress/author/vlogger/all-round superstar Giovanna Fletcher. She has the same dark curly hair and quiet beauty as my Holly. Aidan would definitely have to be played by Aidan Turner (aka Poldark). He’s tall, dark, Irish and absolutely gorgeous, so he’s pretty much perfect!

Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

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It really does, well, except for the times when you get stuck and need to take a walk to chase around all the thoughts in your head. Walking is what I do a lot of – not least because I have a lovely dog, Max, who would go stir crazy if I didn’t take him out. I also run in my lunch hours. I’ve even gone into the ballot for the London Marathon this year – gulp!

What a cutie Max is! And bravo for running a marathon! Describe your workstation. Are there any favorite objects you have there for inspiration?

Being a writer of escapist fiction means that I often write on the move, in airports, on planes, trains or in bars and hotels at my chosen destination – but my main writing space is my bedroom here in London. I have a nice big desk, and I always decorate the wall with pictures that inspire me. I keep my Once Upon A Time mug that was a gift from my editor close at hand (usually full of tea), and a copy of My Map Of You whenever I need to remind myself what I’m working towards. To be honest, though, once I’m in the zone, I’m rarely that aware of my surroundings.

Oh yes. When in the zone I can’t see or hear a thing either, LOL. Is there anything you like to do to get the creative juices flowing when you write?

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Aside from tramping through the local parks with Max, I find reading aloud from the beginning of whatever chapter I’m working on really helps get me back into the zone. I never sit down to write without a cup of tea, and increasingly I have nuts to snack on, too. Better than chocolate, I suppose, but still not ideal. Max likes to hang out with me when I’m writing, but he’s so adorable that it’s actually more of a distraction than help!

Hm! Hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts… I can never have enough. But, they’re terribly nutritious, aren’t they? Surely this is a pro!

(*giggles*) Definitely!

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

Oh, gosh – what a question! This is going to sound weird, but I’m going to choose the ability to sleep. I’ve been a chronic insomniac for years now, and I think of good sleepers as superheroes. Zakynthos is actually one of the only places on the planet where I find sleeping easy, which is a big reason why it’s also my favorite. If I didn’t go over there regularly and catch up on all my sleepless nights, I’d probably have passed out at my writing desk long ago.

You poor thing! Wish I could give some of my early morning and post-lunch sleepiness to you!

(*Rolls eyes*) If only, Fros!

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My family, my health, my sense of humor – I’m also lucky enough to have some of the best friends in the entire world. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that what really matters most of all is happiness. I always remember that saying: “Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.” It really is!

Thank you for sharing this motto, I love it! How would you like to be remembered?

As a kind and loyal friend who loved to laugh – someone who made others happy.

How sweet… Thank you for being here with us today, Isabelle. It’s been an utter delight for me!

Thank you, Fros. I’ve really enjoyed our chat too!

 

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Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts at the University of West London before starting a career first in local newspapers and then as a sub editor at Heat magazine. Nowadays, when she’s not writing novels set in far-flung locations, Isabelle spends her time being the Book Reviews Editor at Heat and walking her beloved dog Max round the parks of north London. Oh, and she does a lot of laughing, too. Her debut novel My Map Of You, published by Penguin Michael Joseph, is out now.

If you like pictures of dogs, chatter about books and very bad jokes, you can follow her on Twitter  or Facebook at:

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/isabellebroomauthor/

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Cover reveal: The Amulet by Effrosyni Moschoudi

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Wuhoo! Today I’m bursting with excitement to share the news of my next book, The Amulet, a supernatural romantic comedy set on the Greek island of Sifnos. Think golden beaches of fine sand, deep blue and shimmering waters, whitewashed little villages and blue-domed churches. Paradise on earth.

Sifnos is one of my favorite islands of the Cyclades. My short story of sweet romance, An Old Promise, is also set in Sifnos and you’re most welcome to download it here. It’s included in my FREE book, Poetry from The Lady of the Pier.

Anyhoo, I digress! The Amulet is still at the early stage of editing and it’ll take a while for me to set a publication date… But, to get me motivated I decided to make the cover early on. I just received it from my wonderful designer, Alex Saskalides of 187Designz, and it’s a pleasure to let you be the first to take a look today:

 

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*DRUM ROLL*

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Katie Pavlides works in a dreary office in Athens. After a row with her loopy boss she gets fired and, on the same day, a gypsy woman hands her an amulet for good luck. Soon, she lands a job as hotel receptionist on the Greek island of Sifnos and everything seems perfect, except for the overbearing hotel owner, Mrs. Matina. One of the guests, freakishly tall and gorgeous Aggelos Aggelides, keeps saving the day whenever Katie needs help. As she falls in love, she grows all the more intrigued by him and his quirky friends, including a little girl who keeps turning up on her own. Add a psychic, half-mad, color-clashing elderly woman into the mix and you’re in for a few laughs. Things are not what they seem in this small, family hotel and get even more complicated when the gypsy woman shows up again. Will Katie ever work out that Aggelos is a guardian angel that came with the amulet? And if she does, will she be able to keep him? It may take a miracle. But on an island as magical as Sifnos, anything is possible!

Watch the book trailer:

 

These days, I’m busy editing the first draft. It’s going to need the TLC of my fabulous beta readers, and laborious editing from my British husband Andy and me in the next few months. Andy and I make one cracking good editing team but life keeps getting in the way, so this will probably take a while . . . but we’ll try to finish as soon as possible, hopefully, sometime this fall.

Stay tuned because I have more big announcements to make in the following weeks. For now, I’ll just say one of them involves those in my audience who only read in Greek. I’ve been neglecting those lovely folks, despite my best intentions, but soon I’ll make it easier for them to read samples of my work. My parents and sister are among them and many other members of my adorable, extended Greek family and friends. I am already crossing my fingers so I don’t disappoint them all. “Very nerve-racking,” says the fragile little girl in my psyche, I’ll tell you that!

 

I may not be living on a gorgeous Greek island but I can’t complain. My little seaside town near Athens can be paradise on earth too, especially during summer (see the two above pics I took from our seafront to show you). I hope you’re enjoying the summer so far! Over here, I got my swimsuit, mumu, and beach bag ready, and I’m itching to hit the beach for the first time this year but the weather refuses to behave . . . We had another thunderstorm yesterday and today it’s cool with grey skies. Hope the weather behaves a little better in your corner of the world!

Keep smiling!

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Interview with Yannis Nikolakopoulos

Today I’m pleased to present a different kind of author and book: Yannis Nikolakopoulos is a Greek from Australia. He writes delightful children’s books that teach the young ones Greek the fun way, while delving into the Greek culture as well. Here’s a fine sample:

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Today is Sofia’s nameday and her cousins are coming to visit. She has to prepare a salad, but all the ingredients are busy in the Olympic games! Can she and Artmeis her cat make the salad in time?” The Greek Salad is an adventure in the kitchen that teaches kids their first Greek words using fun stories, characters and games. By placing the included stickers in your kitchen, you can continue the lesson and effortlessly integrate Greek into your child’s life. Written inline in English, Greek and Greeklish, no knowledge of Greek is needed for a parent to read the story in Greek to their children, and as the child grows into being able to read themselves, they can also discover the language without prior knowledge of the Greek alphabet.

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Hello Yannis and welcome to my blog!

Hi, Fros! Great to be here!

What has inspired you to write The Greek Salad ?

A very strong cup of coffee in 2009 is to blame.  It was like a lightning bolt of inspiration and I had an entire series of stories and characters in my mind that would bring Greek history, philosophy, culture, and most importantly, language into children’s lives.  Since then I have fleshed out the characters, scoured the world for the perfect illustrators to bring them to life, and drafted over 40 children’s book stories, each of which is a micro-lesson in some aspect of Greek culture. The Greek salad is the first book for the youngest kids; it is designed to familiarize them with a few basic words, and to turn the act of making a salad into a fun game.

What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

When I was 6 years old I wrote a story about the giants hiding in volcanoes and how they had to control their anger so as not to destroy the villages with lava, and a little boy who could whisper to the volcanoes and calm them down.

Oh, sounds wonderful! What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

Most of my writing is newspaper articles from the early 2000’s and since then I have been running my own film production company in which I have produced hundreds of short to medium length documentaries. I have also written and directed several short films and satirical videos online that have gone viral, most notably “Quiet signs of love”, a short romantic film for the deaf community that won awards globally with millions of views.

How impressive, well done! What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I am busy with the next two books in the Grammatakia series.

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Firstly, The Alpha goes to Athens, which follows the adventures of Alpha as he travels through Athens searching for the rest of the Grammatakia, cute pokemon-style characters in the shape of the Greek alphabet, and blends it with a quasi guide book for tourist kids.

And secondly, Pappou’s Pappou’s Pappou where Sofia asks her pappou who his pappou was and who his pappou’s pappou’s pappou was etc. right back to ancient Greece. So that book is actually an outline of Greek history for kids.

Do you have any advice for other indie authors?

I think I probably need as much advice as I can give, but my perspective boils down to one thing: Audience is everything. The only thing that gave the old paradigm of publishers legitimacy is access to an audience through bookstores and similar networks.  It was a passive crowd that browsed stores for generally interesting new material. Today’s crowd is active. They specifically search for a particular interest, so the power of the indie author is that, unlike the older publishing model, MUST specifically target a niche need of a niche audience and  find ways for active seekers of that niche to find them, and then be able to win their loyalty and trust in delivering to that need.

The need itself is paradoxical, to be familiar but to feel new, and fresh.

The writing needs to tap into the shared space of a common belief or desire, whether that is cultural, historical or the promise that a genre holds to deliver a specific emotional experience. But on top of that shared common knowledge, it needs to innovate and deliver a fresh experience.

Yes, it’s important to find a small niche and, as you said, to deliver a fresh experience…

That’s right . . . Our writing must build on what we know and allow the audience to feel their emotions in a fresh way. That is more important than being original, to make what we experience over and over as people to feel new.

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

You can often find me typing furiously into my phone at any point of the day, trying to capture the lightning bolts of inspiration. For this I use Evernote, although any note software would work. Sometimes, if the idea comes too fast, I use the Voice recorder app, and can capture the nuances of a character’s accent or attitude as I play it out.

When I sit and write and untangle the moments of inspiration into an ordered script, I can only use Scrivener. Its snapshot feature is a savior as it allows me to destroy earlier drafts with confidence.

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To make a children’s book, as with my other writing, I end up creating a universe of characters and stories to fit it into, and if this becomes difficult I use a piece of software called Aeon Timeline. It maps out all the characters and events in a story on a timeline and allows an overview of multiple complex character interactions. It’s extremely useful, and integrates nicely in to Scrivener; although paradoxically I like to manually transfer to Scrivener and use that process as a review.

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?

The more distance I get from traditional publishing the more clearly I see it in the rear view mirror and indie is the only way to go. As a filmmaker, my projects were judged even more harshly by how large an audience and therefore money they could attract.

But  most people do not want to make bland stories to suit a vague and disconnected broad audience that wants inoffensive writing. The indie author creates a hard core group of fans deeply connected to the subject, and the author can write much more to that passion, and deliver something of much greater value and intensity, and make it economically viable also.

Indie is the only way to go! (*gives a thumbs up*)

I may be partial, but I agree! (*laughs*) Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

My exercise of choice is Bikram Yogam in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius. It’s meditation, stretching and a sauna. It is not for everyone but the value of three things rolled into one leaves more time to sit in a café, writing.

Haven’t heard that one before. Interesting. If you could have one superpower what would it be?

To sit up all night writing instead of sleeping.

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

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Start with marketing. Marketing is seen as tasteless and tacky self promotion by many creatives, and people don’t know how to do it. I specifically prioritized my Grammatakia series of books because marketing the books is not about self-promotion. The books have a real impact on people’s lives. So for me, marketing begins with what stories I can tell around the book that will honestly have a positive benefit to the reader’s life. Now that the books are selling, I am getting great feedback. I just received a video of a Filipino dad reading in Greek to his half-Greek daughter. And that means the world to me. Marketing means more than shameless promotion; it requires deep thinking so that the story AROUND the book (and before the book even begins to be written) delivers something special, unique and positive. I have abandoned hundreds of book and film ideas because, while I love them, they don’t deliver to an audience that is more assertive, demanding and knows what they want.

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My wife and children.

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Oh, and what a wonderful family it is!

Thank you. This is my wife with the real Sofia (7), Artemis (5) and our dog, Nala (5 months)

Thank you so much for sharing this, and for your time today. It’s been a pleasure.

The pleasure’s mine, Fros. Many thanks for introducing my work to your readers.

 

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Yannis Nikolakopoulos is a writer, social researcher and filmmaker who has won awards for his short stories and films internationally, including a Webby Award. He has written for newspaper and journals, and his research documentary work has taken him deep into the lives of hundreds of people. His latest venture is to create a series of children’s books that open the rich tapestry of Greek history, philosophy, culture and language to make it attractive and exciting for kids of all backgrounds.

Website: www.grammatakia.com

Book presentation: https://vimeo.com/160914739

Purchase link: http://www.grammatakia.com/product/the-greek-salad/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sofiaandthegrammatakia/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SofiaGrammataki

 

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Tripfiction: an awesome site for authors and readers

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Last week, I blogged about Yonndr, a site where readers can search for books set in their travel destinations – or for books set in their favorite places in general! The post was a hit and many among my author friends went on the site to submit their books. I did too, goes without saying. Yonndr have been wonderful and listed my books quickly and impeccably. Today I am back to inform you about Tripfiction, another site that’s based on this awesome concept.

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Tripfiction allows refined searches, for example for the Greek island of Corfu, you can refine the search for the village of Kavos. This site also provides the option to add a review!

Anyway, I’m busy today creating new artwork to promote my Corfu-based romance, The Ebb. So I’ll leave you with this little sample that makes me chuckle. Why? The smiling Brit floating in the sparkling Ionian waters is my hubby, Andy. Ah – happy times, and I really can’t wait for my next Corfu holiday.

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The process of making the images today is making me all dreamy about Corfu, so I’d better run before I bore you! I expect you have things to do, anyway, like submit (or look for) books on Tripfiction!

Have a wonderful, prosperous day!

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Interview with James Collins

Today, I’m pleased to welcome James Collins, an author who makes his home on the small Greek island of Symi. James has recently realized the dream that all authors seem to share: he’s been involved in a movie based on his own work! Join me as I ask him a few questions to find out more.

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An ancient curse? Desperation in the economic crisis? What is causing the suicides of so many adults and children on this small Greek island? When Chris Trelawney arrives on the island to take away his late father’s belongings, he finds that he has been left little more than a mystery. Was his father mad at the time of his death, or did he actually believe that he had awakened a powerful evil? An ancient evil that now stalks the islanders, growing stronger by the day…

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A collection of writings that present an honest and often humorous account of two Ex-pat’s experiences of living on Symi, a small Greek island. This book also contains extracts from the symidream website and the complete guide ‘How to move to a Greek island or other place in the sun.’ “Even if you are not thinking of moving abroad this little collection will entertain and inform.”

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A mysterious iron chest arrived on the island of Symi, Greece in 1882 and was immediately hidden for its own safety. 121 years later and Jason is working as a holiday rep for SARGO holidays. When his grandmother turns up as one of his guests she brings with her a locked cigarette case, left to Jason by his recently departed grandfather and given to him on Symi in 1944. The case is opened and reveals a piece of music, but the music is not what it seems and Jason and his small group of pensioners soon realise that they have stumbled on a secret that has been kept hidden on Symi all these years. A secret both dangerous and valuable. Jason and the Sargonauts is a contemporary comedy adventure full of fun and mystery, ‘A comic, camp and musical romp.’

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Hello James and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Effrosyni! It’s great to be here.

I must say, your thriller, The Judas Inheritance, sounds absolutely intriguing! And now, it’s been turned into a movie, right?

Thank you. Yes, the film is titled “The Thirteen”. It’s 99% finished and we’re now waiting for the backers to watch a copy. Then, they’ll find a distributor for us, fingers crossed (*smiles and crosses fingers*)

Good luck, James, and well done! What has inspired you to write this story?

The Judas Inheritance was inspired by two things. First, I was approached by 1066 Productions, a British film company, to come up with a story for a low-budget, indie movie. It’s a film-world fact that horror sells best, so they were looking for a good horror story but also for something that could easily and cheaply be filmed with a small cast and an incredibly low budget of £20,000.

Photography by Neil Gosling

Secondly, I have always been fascinated and enchanted by the ruined houses on Symi, left abandoned during the depression and after the World Wars. And so, I decided to write a story set on an unnamed Greek island that combined history and these dark, sad ruins.

The Judas Inheritance (later filmed as ‘the Thirteenth’) grew from that. It takes a solid ‘horror’ premise along the lines of ‘The Omen’ where historical and Biblical myths collide with the present day in the form of cursed pieces of silver, 30 of them, naturally. This curse becomes the reason for the abandoned village (and, later, spreads to become the cause of the state of the Greek economy, to give the story some wider relevance), and the ruins play a large part in the background and action.

Wow, sounds riveting! What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

I was nearly 12 years old when the Moorgate tube crash happened in London, England. We were asked, in an English class, to write a story based on this horrific event. I know, not what you’d normally be asked to use for inspiration when at that age. I wrote a story about archaeologists exploring a pyramid that then collapsed about them. I remember this story not because it was horrible, but because I was asked to re-write it again in my best handwriting so it could be presented to the school. Hours of laborious handwriting later and I had what I would now call a reasonable second draft. The story didn’t put me on the road to writing horror (I have only written two horror novels) but it taught me valuable lessons: let your imagination flow, don’t be scared to shock, and above all, re-write until it’s written right. (Poor use of English is intended there.)

What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

I have written four full-length stage musicals (book, music and lyrics) that were staged in Brighton, England. Two of them won Arts Council Awards, one of them was also shown in London and elsewhere. I have written revues and cabaret songs, choral pieces for local choirs and other artists and incidental music for theatre companies.

You said the magic word – Brighton! And, very impressive background, I must say!

Thank you, Effrosyni.

How many books have you published?

Nine self-published books so far . . . Three are about life on Symi, Greece. (‘Symi 85600’ is a compilation of emails, letters and posts reflecting my first five years here; ‘Carry on up the Kali Strata’ is the second and contains articles, a short story and photos; and ‘Village View’ is a collection of edited blog posts through 2013, again with photos by my partner, Neil Gosling.

Two are horror stories, two are thrillers and two are comedies. One of the comedies, ‘Jason and the Sargonauts’, is also set on Symi.

I am shortly to publish a new body-swap comedy (through RC Publications, our own small indie endeavor), and am working on another comedy about Greece’s first gay civil partnership. This is called ‘Shocking the Donkeys,’ and it is taken from a screenplay I wrote a few years ago.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

As usual, for me, I have several projects on the go and being worked up, even if only in my head and notebooks.

Soon we shall bring out ‘Remotely,’ a gay/straight body-swap comedy set in a small seaside town in the UK. This is all about the brainless state of British ‘reality’ and ‘talent’ show TV, but mainly about how solid friendships can be made, lost and made again through miscommunication. As with a lot of my comedy, it’s slightly camp, a little bit gay and has something to do with theatre.

Meanwhile… A few years ago I co-wrote the screenplay for ‘Shocking The Donkeys’ which was about a gay civil partnership taking place in Greece. It’s not based on the actual civil partnerships that took place on Tilos and resulted in the arrest of various people involved, it’s more about what would happen if a small Greek island (very traditional) found itself hosting a gay civil partnership between one of its own and a man from America. Civil partnerships in Greece are now legal but still cause an amount of uproar – hopefully that will be satirized in the book version which I am slowly putting together.

But also… I am working on a mystery thriller, and taking a course in scriptwriting. I shall be heading for my annual writing retreat on Tilos in June to work on this mystery, or ‘Donkeys’, or something else. So, several projects all at one time!

You keep yourself busy, that’s for sure! What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

I prefer to read autobiographies and history books but also delve into literature as much as possible. I know every writer should either be writing or reading and I am, but I am not always reading other novelists’ work. Books about writing are on the shelves, as are books about screenplay writing and the use of the English Language. Right at the moment I am reading an English history book in print version, and Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Return of the Native’ on my Kindle. The Kindle also houses a collection of books about true crimes, mysteries and Jack the Ripper. (I know!) Funnily enough I read very little comedy, which is the thing I most enjoy writing.

But then when you live on a Greek island, comedy is all around.

Oh sure! Anywhere in Greece, I believe! Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

I have been writing an almost daily blog at www.symidream.com for about the last nine years. It is about our life on Symi and my writing. Some days it’s fun and satirical, other days it’s informative (I hope), other days its publicizing my books, or those by others that I have enjoyed, but always it’s about what I see going on around me on this small, Greek island.

It’s quite popular now, and I have loyal readers who tune in each day to catch up on my writing, film and Symi news, or to get what some call their ‘Symi fix.’ We also have a very popular deaf rescue cat called Jack, also known as The Alarm Cat due to his early morning alarm calls; he’s proved very popular and has his own following on the blog.

James Collins2012/11/25 09:38:33

As well as the blog posts and photos each day, there are links to our old Symi Dream, site that carries articles on Symi history, travel to the island, books about, and films filmed on Symi and other things related to the island and ex-pat life in Greece.

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 most enjoy the freedom that publishing through a small indie arrangement brings. Having worked in collaborative arts such as theatre, I find the freedom to write alone and for fun the biggest draw for me. However, I appreciate the importance of having someone else edit and work with me to make each book the best it can be. And yes, it would be great to have a large publishing house pick up one of my books and take care of it and sell it, but as for the publicity trail, the book signings, the interviews and all that would go with it… That’s not really for me. I am happy where I am.

So, at the moment, I can’t see me aiming for traditional publishing though I have tried many times in the past. What I really need is a secretary to handle submissions and rejection letters, not because I can’t cope with the rejections and not because I am lazy – sorry, not just because I am lazy – but because it takes up so much time and energy; resources that can be better spent on my creative writing. I admire authors such as Anne Zouroudi (Bloomsbury’s Greek Detective novels, and a friend of mine) for their persistence in not only their writing routine, but in their bashing away at publishers until their work was (quite rightly) accepted.

I understand you’ve brought some more stills from the filming to show us today. And if you’d like to tell my readers more, or to mention the cast, this would be great! I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see and hear more.

Thank you, Effrosyni. The film was filmed in its entirety on Symi. Local businesses helped out, local people were involved as actors and extras. Starring in the film are British actors, Richard Syms (‘Gangs of New York’, ‘The Iron Lady’), Kurtis Stacey, an actor best known for his role in the British soap drama ‘Emmerdale’, Rebecca Grant, a West End, film and TV actress, and Wookie Mayer, a very popular and successful German actress who also has a house on Symi.

The cast and crew team were made up of people from Greece, England, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Wales, Afghanistan, Scotland, America, Canada, Ireland – and a local goat. A truly multinational effort.

Photography by Neil Gosling

Starring in the film are British actors, Richard Syms (‘Gangs of New York’, ‘The Iron Lady’), Kurtis Stacey, an actor best known for his role in the British soap drama ‘Emmerdale’, Rebecca Grant, a West End, film and TV actress, and Wookie Mayer, a very popular and successful German actress who also has a house on Symi.

The cast and crew team were made up of people from Greece, England, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Wales, Afghanistan, Scotland, America, Canada, Ireland – and a local goat. A truly multinational effort.

Thank you for being here today, James, and good luck with all your exciting projects.

Thanks a lot, Effrosyni, for letting me present my work on your site!

 

James 2013

James is a British born writer who now lives on Symi, Greece. Having worked in musical theatre and cabaret in the UK, he moved into writing novels and travel books in 2002 when he moved to Greece. Since then he has indie-published three books about living in Greece charting his experience as an ex-pat, and six novels one of which has been adapted for film. James is also a composer, pianist and screenplay writer.

Daily blog about our life on Symi: www.symidream.com

Links to James’ books etc.: www.symidream.com/james

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jamescollinsauthor/

Neil Gosling Photography: https://www.facebook.com/NeilGoslingPhotography/?fref=ts

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Are you a fellow Corfu lover? Check out our guide before your next visit to the island! For delicious Greek recipes, head over to Effrosyni’s Blog. Sign up to Effrosyni’s newsletter for her news and special offers (very sparse emails).

 

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Find novels set in your travel destination on Yonndr

reading beach summer

Are you an avid reader? A writer? Or both? Doesn’t matter. Whatever you are, this tip is bound to get you directly to Yonndr looking for books!

Yonndr is a book site with a difference. It won’t list any books, but only the ones based on your selected LOCATION. Say, what? Yes.

Think about it. You’re off to Corfu, Greece for the first time and wondering what books there are out there set on the island. Now, with Yonndr, the perfect reads for you are all in one place. Yonndr doesn’t sell books, but you’ll find on there the links to Amazon.

If you’re an indie author, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve searched various travel destinations and could only find a couple of indie books I recognized. On the contrary, I identified plenty of traditionally published books on there. I wonder if this little gem of a site is a shared secret among the trad publishing world but still waiting to be explored by our fabulous indie universe. So, what are you waiting for? Get there first to add your books, why don’t you?

I just added my books (set on Corfu and Athens in Greece, as well as Brighton, England). Now, it’s your turn!

Get to Yonndr now and don’t forget to spread the word!

Many thanks to my wonderful friend and supporter, Tina Tomlinson, for giving me this tip. You rock, girl!

In this post, I recommend Tripfiction, another site where you can search for books by location! Here, you can even add reviews!

Find novels set in your travel destination on @Yonndr #ASMSG #IAN1 #Booklovers Click To Tweet

 

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Are you a fellow Corfu lover? Check out our guide before your next visit to the island! For delicious Greek recipes, head over to Effrosyni’s Blog. Sign up to Effrosyni’s newsletter for her news and special offers (very sparse emails).

 

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