ebooks and the Kindle

It's 3 months now since I put some of my back list up on Kindle and I must say I'm delighted with the results so far. Each month has improved on the one before, and I'm hoping for a real boost after Christmas when Santa has delivered many more Kindles. These ebooks are also available on most other devices including Sony ereader, the Nook and ipad, either bought through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc., thanks to the one stop shop of Smashwords. You'll find the links to these places on my website.

The latest book to go up is Hostage Queen at £6.99 plus VAT, which you do get unfortunately on ebooks. You’ll find it in Amazon Kindle Store. For those of you who prefer the paperback version, this will be in your shops, and on Amazon, before Christmas.

Another recent publication is  Wine and Roses  (also published as Madeiran Legacy, originally by Mills and Boon and later Severn House) now available on Regency Reads.

If you're a writer considering publishing your own ebooks, start here. Reading the Smashwords style guide is also a good idea. The best thing to do first is to save a copy of your document as an rtf file then put back the formatting of indents, 1.5 line spacing and so on by using the format/style button and rule on the toolbar. Don't us the tab key, and click the P thingy on the tool bar so that you can see what you're doing. A clean, code-free document is essential. Then check it out on MobiCreator before publishing. Yes, there's a bit more to it than this. Yes, it's takes time. And yes it's hard to get right the first time, and a bit scary, but once done, that's it. And it'll be a whole lot quicker the second time you try. Of course publishing your ebook is only half the story, making sure it doesn't disappear into obscurity is another blog altogether.

I've put up 14 so far and they're doing really well and finding new readers. Luckpenny Land is available at £1.99 as a taster, and people are now coming back to read the rest of the series, which is encouraging.

There are many others. All bestsellers in their day, and now being granted a new lease of life.

As for my own Kindle, I love it. I'm reading more and more and find it really easy to use, even in bright sunlight. I'm buying books that range in price from 99 pence or dollars upwards. Some are free or cheap offers for debut authors or a new series, which is good. I've also downloaded lots of free classics, some old favourites and some I’ve never got around to reading. I’m still buying print books but I’m stopping to think now if I will want to keep this book in a physical form, or just have the pleasure of reading it. And for those of you who like to lend their books to friends and family, Amazon are bringing in a new facility where you can lend an ebook a set number of times for a given period, say two weeks, during which time you cannot access it yourself. Sounds good, as this means my daughter and I can still swap books. My favourite recently was The Last Queen by C W Gortner. An excellent read. For a review of this book go to my reviews page on Goodreads and check it out.

Happy reading, and publishing.


The Olive Harvest - November 2010

I live in Almeria, Spain and we're fortunate enough to have a small olive grove of 28 trees. We've just started the harvest for this year and the first day's pick resulted in 208 kilos which produced 33 kilos of extra virgin olive oil. There are plenty more olives still to be picked, so we're expecting a bumper year.

Friends came round to help and the weather was perfect: bright and sunny, temperatures around 22 degrees with not a scrap of wind. We'd experienced quite a bit of wind in the days preceding and were worried the olives would all be on the ground, but no, it has proved to be an excellent crop. We spread nets beneath the tree to catch any that drop-off, collected our bucket and set to work. We might have to knock with sticks to shake down the olives from the high branches, but mainly we pick by hand, raking them off with our fingers.

The fun part is that we get to climb some of the old trees, as we used to do when we were children, although a ladder is generally safer.

Then after a morning’s hard work we all sat down to a good lunch of chilli and rice, followed by apple and rubarb crumble and several bottles of wine to wash it down.

After a rest we went back for another few hours of picking.

By late afternoon David, with two of the men, loaded the crop of olives into the trailer, then went off to the press that same day in order to get extra virgin olive oil.

David unloaded the olives at the press

The cooperativa press at Lubrin.

It was a fun day and resulted in five litres of olive oil for everyone who helped us pick, plus plenty left over for us to sell later.

Table olives
There are various types of olive:mazanillas; picuales; de agua; andacebuches, which is the wild olive. Its fruit is smaller and is used as a root stock for grafting the more delicate modern olives on to. It grows slowly but will give you a tree that will survive the worst excesses of heat and drought and cold. We have several of these trees in our grove as well as the more modern variety. Apparently the wild olive also makes good walking sticks.

Some people think that there are just two types of olives: green and black. Not so. Green olives for eating are picked first, in October, but you can’t eat them direct from the tree. You steep them in spring water with no chlorine, changing it every day, stirring the fruit a little, for 3 or 4 weeks. They will still taste bitter but not so bad. Next you make up a seven per cent brine solution – 70 grams of salt to a litre of water and place the olives in the solution. You can store them this way for as long as you like, but to finish them off for eating, you rinse the salt away in a dozen or so changes of water and then pack the rinsed olives into jars. You can add garlic or herbs such as thyme, fennel or oregano, if you wish. Top up with olive oil and leave for a week – then start eating.


Christmas Prize Draw

There are two prizes to be given away this Christmas.

A signed paperback copy of Hostage Queen
A signed hardback copy of the sequel Reluctant Queen

You are agreeing to receive my regular e-newsletter with news of future books, events I'm attending, chat about life in Spain, writing and gossip about all things to do with books, as well as competitions, giveaways and prize draws.

For competition rules and to see previous winners please visit my website.