Sunday, 1 October 2017

Worker Rebellion in 1870s St Croix Inspires Debut Novel for Texas-Based Author




I'm excited to announce another book launch for OC Publishing! Apple Gidley's debut novel, Fireburn, launches today, the anniversary of the historical event that inspired the title. This historical fiction tells the horrors of a little-known, bloody period of Caribbean history.

“Informed by impeccable research and infused with a deep curiosity and love for the beauty and complexity of the West Indies, Fireburn is at times shocking, at times deeply moving and always engaging. Historical fiction of the highest class,” said Matthew Parker author of The Sugar Barons.

Weathering personal heartache, main character, Anna Clausen survives the worker rebellion on October 1, 1878, 30 years after Emancipation, as she challenges the conventions of the day and faces hostility from the predominantly male landowners.

According to Gidley, the idea for the novel came to her while attending an event on Saint Croix in celebration of Transfer Day when the United States bought the Danish West Indies in 1917.

“It was at the ceremony that I first heard about Fireburn, also known as The Great Trashing,” said Gidley. “I thought it would be fun, and interesting, to write a novel around the riot, looking at the event from different cultural perspectives.”
Gidley, who is also the author of Expat Life – Slice By Slice, is a global nomad who has lived in 12 countries and moved 26 times. Her nomadic life began immediately after she was born and continued into adulthood.

As a child she lived in England, Nigeria, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, and Papua New Guinea, where she met her husband. During her married life she has lived in Holland, Trinidad, Thailand, Singapore, Scotland, Equatorial Guinea and the US. She and her husband currently divide their time between Houston, Texas and Saint Croix, one of the US Virgin Islands.

As you can imagine, with homes in both Houston and St Croix, the weeks leading up to this book launch have been heart-wrenching for Apple as she herself, as well as friends and family were directly in the destructive path of hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

With such close connections to the island, Apple has decided to donate part of the proceeds from sales of her book to the St Croix Foundation fund set up for Maria restoration.

Fireburn is available in print and ebook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and in select bookstores. Gidley will make an author appearance and sign books during launch month in Houston on October 12 at 5:00 p.m. at River Oaks Bookstore at 3270 Westheimer Road.

You can learn more about the author and her books at http://www.applegidley.com, follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/applegidleywriter and on Twitter @expatapple.

About The Author
Apple Gidley, an Anglo-Australian author, whose life has been spent absorbing so many countries and cultures, considers herself a global nomad. She currently divides her time between Houston, Texas and Saint Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. She has moved 26 times, and has called twelve countries home (Papua New Guinea, Thailand, The Netherlands and nine others), and her experiences are described in her first book, Expat Life Slice by Slice (Summertime 2012).
Her roles have been varied - from magazine editor to intercultural trainer, from interior designer to Her Britannic Majesty’s Honorary Consul. Now writing full time, Apple evocatively portrays peoples and places with empathy and humour, whether writing travel articles, blogs, short stories or full-length fiction.

Apple enjoys the contrast between the vibrancy of Downtown Houston and the relaxed pace of the Virgin Islands, where the history of the islands fuel her interest in art and culture. Her blog A Broad View can be found at www.applegidley.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @expatapple.


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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Children's Book Launches with Message of Peace and Harmony

It's been a while since I've posted here and I'll share with you that's it's been a whirlwind year! I repatriated to Canada and am now living in my hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It's great to be back and to have a chance to create a whole new chapter in my life.

The new chapter was the start of my publishing company, OC Publishing. It's an exciting time and I'm thrilled to be launching two books this fall. Coincidentally, both authors I'm working with, Diann Floyd Boehm and Apple Gidley, are based part-time in Houston, so it's been a stressful time for them. I so admire their resilience and determination to keep the momentum going amidst such difficult times. But, we persevere!

Diann's book, The Little Girl in the Moon: The Big Idea, launches today, UN International Day of Peace.


Texas Author Launches Children’s Book Highlighting
Harmony Between Races on International Day of Peace



The series continues to present themes of social and life skills to children in preschool and elementary school. The first book talked about tolerance and inclusion and that people are more alike than they are different. The Big Idea’s underlying theme is cooperation and peace.

A former schoolteacher, Boehm says the idea for the series came from ‘the angels’.

“I have so many story ideas and have been a story-teller for as long as I can remember,” she said. “When you teach preschool and kindergarten you’re always telling the kids stories to help them calm down, make them happy or bring them back to focus.”

Boehm shares that she wasn’t happy with how the world has so much ugliness in it and believes that more happiness is needed in the universe.

“What better time than International Day of Peace to launch The Big Idea?” asked Boehm, who splits her time between Houston and Dubai. “The book is all about wishing for harmony and peace on earth and to remind people to calm down, take a deep breath and look for the beauty and innocence in the world.”

As Boehm contemplated the storyline, she envisioned a little girl in the moon who wished she had a magic wand that could give faith, hope, joy, and love that would lead to peace and harmony for everyone.

“Contagiously positive messages are at the heart of Diann's books. While The Little Girl in the Moon comes from Diann's imagination, I know her commitment to helping others is real and proven,” said Toni Maloney, Co-founder and CEO of Bpeace (Business Council for Peace). “She has volunteered with Bpeace for years and I've shared Diann's books with both children and adults who love her themes of friendship.”

The theme for the 2017 International Day of Peace is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All” and Boehm will be promoting that message, along with other individuals and organizations, on book launch day and on an ongoing basis.

The Little Girl in the Moon – The Big Idea is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit http://www.ocpublishing.ca/diann-floyd-boehm.html for more information. Follow the author on Facebook at www.facebook.com/diannfloydboehm or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/diannfloydboehm.

Diann Floyd Boehm




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Apple's book, Fireburn, is scheduled to launch on October 1. It's available for pre-order on AmazonBarnes & Noble and Kobo now. But, more on that launch later.

It's great to be back and I'm looking forward to sharing more about the authors I'm working with, the publishing process and my own journey as an author, editor, mentor and publisher. If you are working on a book (fiction, memoir or children's book) and would like some feedback, feel free to email me at anne@ocpublishing.ca. For more information visit www.ocpublishing.ca. Happy writing!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Author Interview: Jack Scott, Turkey Street and Perking the Pansies


Jack Scott, author and publisher, Springtime Books
This week I'm so thrilled to welcome Jack Scott to Writing...Just Because to share his author journey and a few words of advice. Jack is the author of  Turkey Street - Jack and Liam move to Bodrum, the sequel to the best-selling memoir Perking the Pansies - Jack and Liam move to Turkey.

Here's a little taster of Turkey Street...

Six months into their Turkish affair, Jack and Liam, a gay couple from London, took lodgings in the oldest ward of Bodrum Town. If they wanted to shy away from the curtain-twitchers, they couldn’t have chosen a worse position. Their terrace overlooked Turkey Street like the balcony of Buckingham Palace and the middle-aged infidels stuck out like a couple of drunks at a temperance meeting. Against all the odds, the boys from the Smoke were welcomed into the fold by a feisty mix of eccentric locals and a select group of trailblazing expats, irresistible ladies with racy pasts and plucky presents.

Hop aboard Jack’s rainbow gulet as he navigates the choppy waters of a town on the march and a national resurgence not seen since Suleiman the Magnificent was at the gates of Vienna. Grab your deckchair for a whirlwind tour of love and duty, passion and betrayal, broken hearts and broken bones, dirty politics and the dawn of a new Ottoman era.

Interview with Jack...

Where do you get your inspiration when writing?

I’ve always been a greedy social observer and unrepentant eavesdropper. A move to a foreign field provided the chance to witness the expat species in the wild, an opportunity I hadn’t anticipated but relished. I soon discovered expatriates, like everyone else, came in all forms – the mad, the sad and the glad – but boiled down and in your face. Expat life was village life and your business was everyone’s business.

What’s your favourite genre to read and why?

I tend to be drawn mostly to non-fiction, particularly history. This may be why I was attracted to Turkey. As the true crossroad of civilisations – Hittite, Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman to name only the best known – Anatolia has been won and lost over countless centuries, the evidence of which lies casually underfoot and around every corner. I didn’t expect the rough and tumble of expat life to spoil the view.

How did you become a writer?

I’m an accidental writer. When Liam and I first washed up on Turkey’s shores, we planned to put our feet up and watch the pansies grow. But so many extraordinary things happened around us I had to write them all down, first in a blog. As the months trickled by, the blog took off spectacularly and a book started to form in my mind. It really was that simple. I was lucky. My fellow expatriates handed me a ripping yarn and for that I remain ever-grateful.

Do you have any helpful tips for other authors? Writing, publishing or promoting?

Just write
You have to begin somewhere. The more you write, the better you’ll get.

Be yourself
Think about what will make your writing stand out. How is your message different? What’s distinctive about your angle? Who will your writing appeal to? Are you prepared to reveal the real you?

Think about ‘form’
This is one of the biggest lessons I learned when turning my blog into a book. A story, even a real-life story, needs order, pace, plot, a compelling blend of highs and lows and a sense of purpose.

Think visually
Set the scene and describe your characters and situations colourfully. Help your readers visualise your story. Use dialogue to amplify and underscore the narrative and keep the speech realistic.

Edit, edit, edit and edit again
Be bold and decisive. If something adds nothing to the plot or message, cut it. Employ a professional editor. You won’t be sorry.

Share your writing
Ask for feedback. Then take a deep breath. Take the comments on board. Some of them will be rubbish but some won’t. Try not to take things personally.

Be social
These days, authors are expected to do a lot more to market their books. This means developing a strong online presence. Don’t be shy.

Start a blog
Blogging is a great audition for writing, and the best way to experiment and grow your fan-base.

What are you currently working on?

The book birthing for Turkey Street was much more painful than expected. Eighteen months later than planned, I fretted my comeback would be as welcome as another Spice Girls reunion, but the pain eased as the reviews dropped onto the mat. For now I’ve set my quill aside and focused my energies on Springtime Books, working in partnership with the force of nature who is Jo Parfitt and editor extraordinaire, Jane Dean. Together we publish authors who have something new and different to say about the expat experience. This entirely unforeseen and radical career change is a direct result of my time in Expatland and the success of my first book.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

In 2012, Liam and I ended our Turkish affair and paddled back to Britain on the evening tide. We currently live quietly in Norwich, a surprising city in eastern England. Springtime Books keeps me on my toes and Liam has a part time job in a local village. It all helps to keep us out of the workhouse. I still blog regularly at Perking thePansies. Even now, my random musings seem to strike a chord. For us the good life involves hearty fare, quality time with those who matter, taking in a show and supping in local hostelries where I can quench my thirst for social observation and eavesdropping. And so it goes on!


If you'd like to see what Jack is up to check out his book site visit his blog and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to receive my updates, book launch announcements or information on upcoming writing retreats, go ahead and sign up for my newsletter. When you sign up you’ll receive a free, signed PDF of my first novel, Mental Pause.




Monday, 11 January 2016

The Art of Building Tension

At the heart of every story is tension.

Building conflict, internal and external and keeping what your protagonist desires just out of reach, is the key to establishing the rising tension that readers are expecting, while injecting the unexpected.

I remember writing a scene in my latest novel, Deep Deceit, where tension was building between two characters, conflict was palpable and as I wrote it I still didn't really know where it was going but I could feel the anxiety building in myself! When the scene climaxed, even I was shocked at what happened. The result of that scene then continued to escalate the overall tension leading to the ultimate climax of the story.

No matter what type of structure you follow, whether you're a plotter or pantser (I fall somewhere in the middle), no matter how many chapters and scenes, all stories have:

  • An introduction to your characters
  • A situation, brought in early on, that creates a central conflict for the main character
  • An escalation of tension – becoming more intimate and intense
  • Rising stakes
  • A moment at which everything seems lost
  • A climactic encounter
  • A satisfying conclusion
  • A transformation of character and/or situation
If it doesn’t fit the storyline to introduce the conflict in the first few pages, then the lead up should be engaging in some way… humorous, thought-provoking or emotionally charged for example.

The wildly popular The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, is told from the perspective of the family dog, Enzo. It's the story of Denny, Enzo's owner, who marries and starts a family.

The conflict doesn't come in for several chapters but we get to know Enzo and his family. the author uses humour to engage the reader. It's entertaining and engaging even without any conflict, which is difficult to accomplish. When conflict does enter, it's with a vengeance... Denny's wife dies. Her parents decide they want custody of his beloved daughter and will do anything to make it happen, even lie about Denny.

In his book Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules, Steven James says, “A character is failing his way through escalating setbacks and struggles until all seems lost, and then, at the climax, he overcomes or is overcome by the struggle.”

Every story has scenes and each scene is a mini-story with an orientation, a turning point or crisis, an escalation of conflict, a choice, ending with a new normal (or complication that moves the story forward).

The things that happen in a scene should alter reality in some way, whether it's the main character’s status, attitude or perspective.

Each scene builds on an on-going cycle of events that lead up to the final climax and resolution.

Defining Goals

You can’t build tension unless your character’s goals are clearly defined. Otherwise, the reader doesn’t know what she’s hoping the protagonist achieves. Once the goal is clear, you can then build the tension using things like 'the information drip' where you continually, gradually reveal information, withholding just enough to keep readers guessing but not so much that they get frustrated. Or perhaps cliff hanger chapter endings. The end of a chapter should leave a burning question that makes the reader want to read one more before turning off the light. Never end with a resolution to a problem... close, but not quite.

Make your protagonist and antagonist desire totally different outcomes or, desiring the same thing but needing each other to achieve the goal.

Sprinkle in a few moral dilemmas. Something that matters must be at stake and there’s no easy solution and no easy way out. Your character must make a choice. The more quickly the choice has to be made and the higher the stakes creates more dramatic tension and more reader engagement.

Not every story has edge of your seat, heart in your throat tension, but you always want to build interest and anticipation. If readers care about your character they’ll cheer for them, feel their pain and revel in their success.

I'd love to hear some of your favourite examples of great tension building stories and cliff hangers.


If you’d like to receive my updates, book launch announcements or information on upcoming writing retreats, go ahead and sign up for my newsletter. When you sign up you’ll receive a free signed PDF of my first novel, Mental Pause.