Category Archives: Books

Mystery November Book Tour – Day One!

Today is the first day of the Mystery November Book Tour, hosted by the lovely Rosie Amber. 30 authors in 30 days, and 30 very different types of mystery. Today is Flora Lively’s turn to shine – head over to Rosie’s blog to read my interview and check out the rest of the tour stops.

Mystery Tour Day 1

 

I’m going to be out of action for a couple of days, but I’ll be back very soon catching up with the tour stops and finding some great new reads. You can tweet about the tour with the #MysteryNovember hashtag to connect with other mystery authors, and please share details of the tour on your social networks. Right – in the spirit of Mystery November, here’s a little question for you: Who is your favourite sleuth, and why?

My answer: Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote – because she’s calm and kind but she’s got a mind like a steel trap.

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Mystery November Book Tour – Coming Soon

Starting this Saturday 1st November is the Mystery November Book Tour, hosted by the lovely Rosie Amber. Click here to go to Rosie’s blog and find out more (I’ve listed all the dates below as well) …

November Mystery Tour

Murder at the Maples is heading up the tour on day one, and there’s an exclusive interview with yours truly – I’ll post links to that on Saturday. What I’m looking forward to is finding out about different genres of mysteries, and hearing from all the different authors. As a relative newcomer to the mystery writing world, I’m always on the lookout for a new author to enjoy, and that’s what this tour is all about.

1st November – Murder At The Maples by Joanne Phillips

2nd November – Spirit Warriors: The Scarring by Della Connor

3rd November – The Singing Bowl by Roy Dimond

4th November- The Ties That Bind by E,L Lindley

5th November – A Single Step by Georgia Rose

6th November- Nobody’s Fault by Terry Tyler

7th November- Diamonds and Dust by Carol Hedges

8th November- Doppelganger by Geoffrey West

9th November- The Body On The T by Mike Martin

10th November- Marlin, Darlin’ by Margaret Langstaff

11th November- Blood Pool by Jan Ryder

12th November- The Truth Will Out by Jane Isaac

13th November- The Dream by Maria Savva

14th November- Moscow Bound by Adrian Churchward

15th November- Abduction: An Angel Over Rimini

16th November- Counteract by Tracy Lawson

17th November- The Sand Bluff Murders by C.M. Albrecht

18th November- Jamie’s Gamble by Greg Bell

19th November- Center Point by Robert Clark

20th November- Prime Deception by Carys Jones

21st November- Steps Into Darkness by Ben Woodard

22nd November- The Haunting Of Secrets by Shelley Pickens

23rd November- Buffalo Soldiers by Nicholas Denman

24th November- Blond Cargo by John Lansing

25th November- No Strings Attached by Lily Bishop

26th November- Isia’s Secret by Ray Stone

27th November- Pattern Of Shadows by Judith Barrow

28th November- Eden’s Garden by Juliet Greenwood

29th November- A Time For Silence by Thorne Moore

30th November- Twilight Images by Ethel Lewis

Of all these books, the only one I’ve read (other than my own, of course) is Terry Tyler’s excellent Nobody’s Fault, which will be half price at the time of the tour. November is to be a busy month, as I said yesterday, but I’m still going to try and find time to visit each of these authors and check out their books. My reading list is about to expand!

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Tiramisu-tastic: The Talented Martina Munzittu on Non-Fiction Excellence

Today I’m really excited to welcome to the blog my talented friend and author, Martina Munzittu. I asked Martina if she’d be happy to answer some questions about her latest release, a cookery book with a difference: Tiramisu Recipes From Italian Friends and Family. What’s really interesting about this interview is how Martina managed to produce a non-fiction book with the same beautiful standards as any traditionally published cook book. Read on to find out more …

STOP PRESS: The Kindle edition of Martina’s book is on special offer this weekend only at $0.99/£0.77! The usual price is $4.99/£2.99 so grab yourself a bargain then come back to find out more :)

Tiramisu Cover Square

  • Martina, I think the idea for an authentic Italian cookbook like this – with recipes inspired by your friends and family – is brilliant, but it’s also perhaps an unusual project for an indie author to undertake alone. Can you tell us a little about where the idea came from, and why you decided to self-publish rather than pitching it to a traditional publisher?

I had been thinking for a long time about writing a cookery book, but somehow the time never seemed quite right.  I love cooking and I particularly like baking and preparing desserts. Several months ago I was making tiramisu for some friends who were coming to dinner. Over the years I had changed the traditional recipe and added a layer of chocolate mousse to it. I love espresso coffee, but I’m not fond of coffee in my desserts, so I had replaced the coffee with Martini. While I was melting the chocolate in the saucepan, I started to think of the many times I tried tiramisu as a guest in the homes of my friends and relatives in Italy. How a simple, wonderful dessert could taste quite different depending on the person who made it. But not only that, I remembered the varieties of tiramisu I had had. The fruity tiramisus during the summer, children’s ones at birthday parties, alcoholic treats at weddings. And that’s where the idea for the book came from. I was going to ask my family and friends not only to give me their tiramisu recipes, but also to send in the photos of their desserts once they made it.

As far as pitching the book to a traditional publisher, to be honest, the thought never even entered my head. I just went ahead and self-published it.

  • When I got the pdf proofs to do the index for this book I was amazed at how professionally it had been laid out. Did you use a professional typesetter, and what other professional services did you employ on this title?

Tiramisu_6-7_LR

My biggest challenge with this book was to ‘marry’ the images with the text in a uniform and elegant way. I tried doing it with Word, but it wasn’t working. I realized that I needed the help of a professional and I found a lovely lady, Janet Tallon, who is a talented designer. I had an idea of what I wanted the book to look like, so I gave her the brief, provided the text and photos, and she produced something that exceeded my expectations.

The other challenge was to create the ebook. Ebooks with images are not that easy to do, especially when you have 70 photos. They need to work in every device, not just the kindle readers. Not to mention the fact that Amazon charges the author $0.15/£0.10 for each MB of data if you go for the 70% royalty option, and images tend to be heavy. I didn’t want my ebook to be too heavy/costly. So I had to hire another expert, as I was not capable of formatting the ebook so that it would work in any ereader and be ‘light’ at the same time. Serena Zonca was the lady who helped me format the ebook, and she did a fantastic job.

  • If the pdfs were good, the physical book itself was another huge surprise! As I said above, I’m really impressed with the quality of the final product, but I know you had some issues initially with the printing. Can you talk us through that and how you resolved it?

I published the book with Lightning Source and they had two options for printing in colour. Standard and Premium.  At first I went for Standard, because I wanted my book to be reasonably priced, but when I received the proof copy, I wasn’t happy with the quality of the paper: it was too thin and flimsy, I could just imagine any cook holding the book in their hand getting cross as the pages might tear. So I decided to upgrade to Premium Colour. Unfortunately, this pushed the price up of the paperback from £7.99 to £12.99. This is something that concerns me a lot as a self-published author, as I see many traditionally published authors (often celebrity chefs) who have fantastic cookery books out there, which sell for less. And I can’t compete with those prices (let alone with those names!)

  • The photos in the book are lovely, and everyone knows food photography is very difficult. How did you get such great pics?

Tiramisu_26-27_LR
The pictures were a huge challenge, both for me and my friends who were sending them to me via email. Some photos I was receiving were out of focus, at times the lightning wasn’t right. Some just didn’t do justice to the desserts so I had to ask those people to make the tiramisu again and re-send the photos and I felt really bad about that. I had to do my own tiramisus a few times, in order to get the pictures right. There was a lot of trial and error, and you can see that the style of photography varies considerably, depending on who made that particular dessert. In the end we got there, thanks also to the help of Janet, who managed to get the best out of each photo.

  • Which part of the process did you enjoy the most? (Okay, I’m guessing it was cooking and eating loads of tiramisu!)

You got that right, Jo! However, after you make tiramisu twice a week for several months, you kind of have enough of it… My husband though, always seemed to appreciate it, he liked the variety of the desserts. For me it was different, maybe because I was actually making them, measuring the ingredients, testing the recipes, writing about it; after a while I decided I didn’t want to eat another tiramisu for at least a month. It only lasted one month… I’m back on it now.

  • What’s next for you as an indie author-publisher?

I’m working on two other cookery books. One will be about pasta sauces and one about risottos. They will follow the same format as the tiramisu book, a collection of recipes from Italian friends and family.

  • Finally, what advice would you give any readers who are thinking of self-publishing a non-fiction title, particularly one that needs to look as beautiful as this?

This is my first non-fiction book, so I still consider myself as newbie. In my limited experience so far, I would probably say that many rules of writing fiction still apply: your research shows, so whether you’re writing about cooking or any subject, it’s important to get your facts straight. The style needs to be engaging and warm, which is easier to do when you’re dealing with chocolate desserts, rather than a DIY manual, but as writers we’re expected to be creative. Now, if you’re book has many pictures and you don’t have the skills to put it together yourself, I definitely recommend finding a professional who can help you, both for the design of the paperback and the ebook. You can spend hours and hours trying to do it yourself and still end up with something that doesn’t look good enough, while it’s best to use your time doing what you do best: writing a good book.

Martina

Martina Munzittu was born and raised in Italy (Sardinia); she now lives in Cambridgeshire, UK, with her husband and young daughter. She writes contemporary romance and chick-lit books. Her debut novel A Deal with a Stranger is a romantic/mystery set in Sardinia; Incompatible Twins and The Broken Heart Refuge are set in London.

Like many Italians, Martina has a passion for food and this comes across in her books, where the protagonists of her stories are often obsessed with cooking and eating. Martina’s latest books are dedicated to this passion.

Click here to buy the book 

Click here to visit Martina’s website

 

 

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Bookcrossing Adventures

I heard about Bookcrossing a while back from ace author Linda Gillard and it has been on my To Do list for ages. Finally I joined up and listed two of my own books for release into the wild …

What? My husband was totally confused about what releasing a book into the wild consisted of (dropping it in a field? throwing it out the window of your car?), so I thought I’d try and clear that up right now. Bookcrossing.com is a brilliant community where people pass on and share books they’ve read. You can wish for a book and hope someone will post you a copy, or you can search for one which has been released by a reader – i.e. left somewhere warm and dry and safe ready for you or some other lucky person to find. If you happen upon a Bookcrossing-labelled book (see picture below), you can enter the book’s unique code on the website and find out where that copy has been and who’s read it before you. It sounds so exciting, and just the sort of thing someone passionate about reading and books should be involved in.

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Joining Bookcrossing.com as an author

I checked on the Newbies forum for the rules relating to authors releasing their own books and it’s absolutely fine – in fact, the members who answered thought it was pretty cool. As well as releasing them into the wild there are a couple of other ways to find readers who may be interested in reading your book and then passing it on, like Book Circles. It’s all new to me and I’m still finding my feet, but this week I released both Murder at the Maples and Cupid’s Way in the Countess of Chester Hospital, which I thought would be a good place to find bored people hoping to be distracted!

Bookcrossing

 Isn’t it just giving books away for free?

Well, yes. But it’s a really cool way of giving books away for free, and it appeals to the slightly anarchic part of my psyche :) Look at it this way: Bookcrossing is a community, and I don’t plan on merely releasing a couple of my own titles. I’m going to look for other books in the local area, and share books I’ve read and enjoyed. I’m going to get involved in the forums – because these are people who love BOOKS (and it’s a hell of a lot friendlier than Goodreads). Right now my paperback copies are in a box under the bed in my office, waiting for me to find the time/inclination/energy to do some kind of event to hand-sell them. Wouldn’t it be nicer and more fun to release a few into the wild and wait and see what happens next?

So, over to you – I’m really interested to hear about your experiences of Bookcrossing.com. Has anyone ever found a Bookcrossing-labelled book completely by chance? And any tips on how best to use the site greatly received.

 

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