Poet Interview – Toni Bunnell

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I first observed Toni in my favourite cafe bar as she laboured away scribbling sentences in a notepad or tapped rapidly on her laptop. I imagined she was a teacher preparing lessons for eager students. After a year or so we were introduced and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Toni was, in fact, an academic,  lecturer, poet, author, songwriter and an accomplished musician. With many books and a range of musical CD’s to her name, Toni is a widely read and respected author and musician. I am pleased to welcome her to our blog this month. I hope that Toni’s experience of the writing world will inspire you and that you will choose to visit her web page and avail of her works.

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Welcome, Toni.

What inspires you to write?

I am pretty much driven to write, having written songs since I was ten. Certain things catch my attention, and propel me into a new storyline.

What is a measure of success as a poet and author?

If the poems or stories that you write are enjoyed, provide an insight into a different world, and reach out and touch one person only, this is surely a measure of their success.

Who are some of your favourite poets?

Wordsworth, Byron, Tennyson, Coleridge.

The Supernatural appears in many of your books. What inspires you to write about it?

Since childhood I have tended to occupy a parallel world much of the time. This was generally referred to as ‘daydreaming’ and was greatly frowned upon, particularly as I tended to do this during school hours. Inspiration happens as and when, and I have no hard and fast answer as to why I write in this genre.

You are a singer/songwriter as well as a poet.  What makes a poem or a song good?

If the words, and tune when portrayed as a song, engender the emotions in others that I felt when I wrote the song or poem, then I feel that I have achieved my goal. I tend to rely on feedback, when I perform my songs, regarding whether they are good are not. It is also useful to see if they stand the test of time.

What was the inspiration behind ‘The Nameless Children’? Could you say a bit about it?

With The Nameless Children, my gothic supernatural story, I happened to see a reference to ‘nameless children’ when visiting Howarth and the graveyard at the Brontë House. These two words conjured up a world of mystery and intrigue which drew me in, developing into a story that I would never have imagined in the cold light of day.

What advice would you give aspiring authors and poets?

Don’t waste time wondering about which genre you should write for, or what your intended audience might be, just write from the heart. In addition, don’t spend time developing a plotline, just because you think it is expected of you. This can often be distracting and might serve to suppress the creative spirit within you. Write because you want to.

Running

 

I ran today with the feet of a deer

I ran in my mind so no-one would hear

The thud of my heart as it beat in my chest

Or my soul call out to the East and the West

 

I ran through the deserts where the seas ran dry

I ran where no-one would hear me cry

The wind was my only companion

And stayed by my side as I ran on and on

 

And why do you run the voice inside said?

Do you run from yourself, from the voice in your head?

Or do you try to keep pace with the winds of change

Moving forever with the wind and the rain

 

And an echo came back through the rustling leaves

Finding its way around rocks, around trees

It spoke to the voice that still lingered on

Saying ‘run, if you must; run on and on’

 

For you need to feel the sun on your face

The deep-sounding caves out of time and of space

To go beyond limits where the edges are blurred

For no sense can be made of this parallel world

 

Your spirit must find its own way now

Not stay with the others or run with the crowd

For staying apart is your one saving grace

And being alone will help you find your place

 

© Toni Bunnell 290112

www.tonibunnell.com

February: Marianne Eloise – Poet Interview

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Marianne Eloise

‘Cactus’

 

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Today we welcome Marianne Eloise to the Muse Shack. I found her debut poetry ‘Cactus’ enlightening, current, challenging and entertaining. It awoke in me, a fellow mover of places, some of the emotions and feelings of the author. I recommend this volume to all readers

Bio: Marianne Eloise is a UK-based writer, academic and journalist who works in the media. She loves pop culture, the coast, and 90s/00s trash aesthetics. Cactus is her debut poetry collection.

 

What inspires you to write poetry?

I don’t really get inspired as such, I’m just very motivated to write and work through my experiences. I also write in an attempt to preserve a place I’ve been or a particular time.

What is a measure of success as a poet?

I would consider myself successful if poetry was the only thing I needed to sustain my lifestyle, but I haven’t achieved that yet! I don’t think there are many poets who have achieved that, so for now I’d be happy just having people know who I am.

Who are some of your favourite poets?

Honestly, I don’t read poetry. I like Plath enough, but I am primarily influenced by music and literature. Traditionally, poetry can be very inaccessible linguistically so I aspire to something more easy-going or lyrical. I probably borrow more from emo music like Bright Eyes or Brand New than I do poetry.

What about Cactus? What was special about it? What inspired you to write it?

I have been publishing poetry online for over three years and I wanted a collection that I and my readers could hold and that I could share. I looked at my work to establish a theme and found that I wrote about place a lot in an effort to understand my relation to certain locations, so I gathered several of them together and wrote new ones.

What makes a poem good?

As someone who doesn’t read much poetry, I’m not sure I’m the best to answer this, but I’ll try! When I was at University and reading other students’ poetry every day, it was so immediately clear which ones were false or trying to practice forms or ideas that didn’t come naturally. I think you need to have a really strong voice and an understanding of language to know how to manipulate it and have words work well together. Trying to sound old fashioned or evoke the same voice as writers 200 years ago is a really easy way to make a poem terrible. I just don’t think that a genuine voice is something that can be taught, only practiced.

How did you publish ‘Cactus’?

After researching and soliciting a great deal of advice on how to publish through a publishing house, I realised that it could take years and I wouldn’t have the control over my work that I want. So I turned to Blurb, a self-publishing site where I could have complete control over editing, design, etc. My partner (Owain Anderson) designed the cover, which I never would have had with a traditionally published collection.

What advice would you give aspiring poets, especially those who want to get into print?

Get a real job because poetry will never pay the bills. But if you’re good work hard at it, get your work out there, do readings, make friends. Read as much of anything as you can. Have other options and expertise, because it gives your work far more depth than if you’re just working in a vacuum of poetry. Google magazines and websites, especially ones in your area, and try to get some traction. Make yourself known in some way, even if it’s through your own website or self-published.

You can reach Marianne at her website, twitter @marianne_eloise, Instagram @mazisthebest, or by email Marianne.eloise@hotmail.com

CACTUS/LINKS

Cactus is Marianne’s debut poetry collection and contains three sections of poems about places: Leicester, Brighton, and California.. It has several poems you will never see on February Stationery.

 

You can find it in these places:

Kindle
Blurb
Amazon UKUSA (available on others if you search)
Bigcartel (directly from me, with a note)
and the Goodreads page (courtesy of Becca at Libfem) is right here

The House on Argyle Square

ThumbnailThe House on Argyle Square is published.

This collection of short stories is designed to facilitate those who love to read in those short spare minutes that present themselves throughout the day. I had a lot of fun writing this book along with my colleague, Frank Emslie. The title is available on both Amazon and Kindle.

Human beings have an insatiable longing to read. Everyone has their own favourite genre of story, usually for the journey, the holiday, the coffee break or even in bed before going to sleep…we want to read. The House in Argyle Square is a collection of short stories designed to be read during short breaks, or as a book on a longer journey. In this collection you will find stories containing irony, humour, delight, surprise and even the dark side. David and Frank recommend this book as a good read for those short on time. There is something here for everyone. Order here from Amazon

Don’t Invent The Wheel

If you are on the ‘self publishing’ track and finding the going hard…don’t invent the wheel.

Take encouragement and advice from some of the most successful people out there, who are only too willing to help you benefit from their expertise.

‘Let’s Get Digital’ is a book that will take all the guess-work out of self publishing and catapult you to success. I’m not plugging the book because I get a commission (I don’t), but because I am following its instruction as I work towards my own career in self publishing. Here are some insights and recommendations:

“You won’t make any money from self-publishing.”

MYTH!

The internet has revolutionized every business it has come into contact with, and publishing is no different.

For the first time, these changes are handing power back to the writer. It’s up to YOU if you want to profit from them.

Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should.

This guide contains over 60,000 words of essays, articles, and how-to guides, as well as contributions from 33 bestselling indie authors including J Carson Black, Bob Mayer, Victorine Lieske, Mark Edwards, and many more.

It covers everything from how the disruptive power of the internet has changed the publishing business forever to the opportunities this has created for writers. It gives you practical advice on editing, cover design, formatting, and pricing. And it reveals marketing tips from blogging and social networking right through to competitions, discounts, reviews, and giveaways.

If you are considering self-publishing, if you need to breathe life into your flagging sales, or if you want to understand why it’s a great time to be a writer, Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should will explain it all.

Praise for Let’s Get Digital:

“Let’s Get Digital is a must read for anyone considering self-publishing.” — JA Konrath, bestselling author of Trapped, Origin, and Whiskey Sour.

“Even with my background as an indie writer, I picked up several valuable tips…this is simply the best book about the e-book revolution that I have read.” — Michael Wallace, bestselling author of the Righteous series.

“Credible and comprehensive. I’d recommend it to any writer who is considering self-publishing or anyone interested in the current state of publishing.” — Big Al’s Books and Pals – 5 stars.

“It should be THE starting point for anyone considering self-publishing today. This book is a Pixel Pick, and should be considered required reading for any Indie author.” — Pixel of Ink.

You don’t need luck to self publish…you just need to use the wheel…it’s already invented. – Museshack

Here’s to your success!

Write and Sell Quickly

We can all find reasons not to write. I am a practiced procrastinator…that next cup of tea…a spider that has to be removed…change the sheets…clean the shower…take the dog for a walk (I don’t have one)!

This resource can liberate you to get that novel finished and, to sell it http://www.novelinamonth.com/?afl=53194Then, why not sign up to http://www.authorsden.com.

Here you will receive more hits than all combined sites have to offer internet wide. With almost 2 million visitors a month and growing, your sales will grow exponentially and you will build a loyal fan base.

Let me know how you get on.

10 reasons why writing is easier than ever

Last year I established an organisation called Writing2day. The aim is to inform, educate and resource writers from a current perspective on the craft of writing. We are beginning to fulfill our mission statement.

So, with the thought on writing today, I offer the following bold statement that ‘writing is easier today than ever before’.

Here are the reasons.  Continue reading “10 reasons why writing is easier than ever”

Does independent book marketing work?

This week I have the pleasure of welcoming Tim Ellis as the guest Blogger for Muse Shack.

Tim impressed me with his incisive questioning that we all do well to employ. I was convinced after reading Tim’s article that his questions forced me to ask another question, ‘How can independent book marketing be done well’? I found my answer, I wonder will you.
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Here’s the thing! Now, it might be that my eleven ebooks are  total rubbish, and  although I’ve had a couple of harsh reviews about two of my  books because I  like sex, I have had some 4 and 5-star reviews of two of my   other books. Reviews, however, are not the subject of this blog – although  reviews do deserve a blog of their own, and I will put index finger to keyboard in the near future.For my first blog I’d like to talk about the dilemma that is ebook marketing,  promotion, advertising, etc. There’s been a few people blogging about this black art as if they knew what they were talking about – do they? How did they find out? Where’s the objective evidence? I’ve got a PhD, so I know about research, objective evidence, statistical significance, etc., and I haven’t seen the figures – show me the damn figures to prove that any of it works.


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Social networking it’s called – Facebook, Fan Pages, Twitter, Kindleboards, Amazon Forums, Bookbuzzr, Goodreads, but there are thousands (maybe millions) of sites out there, and new ones sprouting up every day. Here’s a link to get you started: http://traffikd.com/social-media-websites/ Also, there’s guest blogging, featured author, featured book, ebook giveaways, etc.Call me a whore, but I ventured down this road into  purgatory. I joined Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ (timellis13) and started tweeting, retweeting, following and being followed, but did it result in any of my ebooks going viral (definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_phenomenon)? The answer – in case you were wondering – is NO!


I’d joined Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1117655869 way back when, but hadn’t bothered with it. Then, when I Kindled all my books, I thought I’d have another stab. I joined Writing Kindle Books – a group of like-minded ebook authors who chatter, tag, like, tweet, moan, groan, love, share, and Digg each other like any extended family. I’ve made a lot of friends, but has the word got out about my books? Have just one of the wonderful titles on offer shot off into the stratosphere? The answer – in case you were wondering – is a down-to-earth NO!

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I saw a FB friend with a widget, and I lusted after it. I joined the free  part of Bookbuzzr or fReado – there’s a premium (pay) membership as well – and I uploaded all my  books onto the site. I got those nifty widgets. Here – take a look – http://timellis.weebly.com/my-books.html – do they make you want to read, steal, download, or otherwise purloin my books? Have these widgets (and the automated tweets) resulted in a  conflagration of sales (a fire sale)? The answer – in case you were wondering – is NO!

The Amazon Kindle/book forums were the place to be. Like Danny Gillan http://susannefromsweden.wordpress.com/  I ventured on there, hunted out the UK and USA forums for the  different genres I write in, made some acquaintances in the fantasy forum, advertised my books, but to a large extent the squatters in the threads made it quite clear that authors promoting their books are lower than a snake’s belly and viewed as the second coming of Bubonic Plague (definition and nice picture here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague). Anyway, I persisted, until I got an email from the wonderful people  in Customer Services at Amazon saying my posts were not posts, but blatant self promotion and if I didn’t stop it my forum rights would be curtailed – told off good and proper. I tracked over a Baker’s dozen of threads and received notification by email of new posts – everybody was doing it, but they picked on me! I’m not tracking any threads now. I’m not posting on anymore threads either – I know when I’m not wanted. Did this embarrassing sortie into the Amazon jungle of forums result in me being compared to Steig Larsson, JRR Tolkien, Arthur C Clarke, or any of the other dead greats? The answer – if you were wondering – is a resounding NO!

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I went on the Kindleboards. I got told off because I had too many books – the  covers looked very nice all lined up next to each other – but apparently, I  wasn’t meant to advertise on any forum except the self-promotion forum. I  chatted, introduced myself, talked about esoteric things, made observations,  asked questions, jumped from thread to thread with casual abandon, exuded wonderfulness, but did any  of my books become bestsellers, a top-ten chartbuster, a mover or a shaker? The  answer – if you were wondering – is a Top Ten NO!

I gave some books away:  http://indiebookblogger.blogspot.com/2011/04/free-ebooks-galore.html, and put myself about a bit: http://indieebooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/knowledge-of-time-second-civilization.html?spref=tw, and in a couple of other places that I can’t remember (note to self – must write things down!). Did these forays into the blogosphere turn any of my  books into blockbusters? Was my email clogged up with agent’s begging to represent me, or publishers offering me six-figure advances, or Steven Spielberg wanting the film rights to at least one of my books? The answer – if you were wondering – is a big fat NO!

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I could talk about Amanda Hocking, but I’m not going to. She’s now signed for a traditional publisher so she doesn’t have to do any Social networking. Now there’s an idea!This is my incursion into blogging. Will it result in sales, spikes in the Excel chart, emails from Amazon saying I’m now in their Top Ten all-time favourites and they’d like me to come back to the forums? The answer – if you were wondering is – let’s wait and see!

Please feel free to tell me if I’ve missed something, or you’ve been offended by anything I’ve mentioned. And if you like it, feel free to Tweet and Share – you never know – I might get a sale!

10 Surefire Ways to Self-Publishing Success

In this post I am going to share with you 10 things you need to put in place to ensure your self-publishing success. These will help you to avoid the stigma that has been traditionally experienced by authors choosing this publishing route. I will be sharing links that you can follow to support you in your endeavours. I have not been offered an incentive to include any links, you will not be asked for money, nor does anyone pay me commissions. Self-published books have often deserved the stigma that is attached to them. So to ensure that your book stands out, is purchased and is read, follow these tips from the very start of your writing endeavours and you will achieve success:

1. Be aware of what you want to achieve as an author and for your book. If you know what you want to achieve, you are more likely to get there. Without a plan the delay in getting your book published may be just as long as if you had submitted it into the Publishing Lottery mentioned in my last post. Worse still, it may never be published.

2. Make sure you have a good book to offer. One of the most frequently asked questions of a reader is ‘is that book good’? That’s what we immediately want to know before anything else. If the answer is yes, we may go out and buy it ourselves. For a book to be good It will need to draw an emotional response from the reader; there will be an obvious level of suspense and the plot will leave the reader wanting to know more; believable characters are essential, your reader wants to identify with the good characters and loathe the bad ones; plenty of action is paramount, with conflict-resolution-conflict driving the reader to turn the page in hope of more. Simple matters are paramount such as spelling, grammar and layout. If it is not good, don’t publish until it is.

3. Gain the skills of self-publishing while you write. Self publishing is a process that can be learned alongside your writing. Be aware of the pros and cons and assess whether or not you have the time, skills and finances to self-publish; don’t be put off, thousands of authors are choosing this route for the cost-effective opportunity it provides. Don’t wait until the book is finished to find out what to do next. Be ahead of the game and prepared to publish when your book is done. If your book is already written then take time to research and implement the skills required for self- publishing.  There is no need to invest in an expensive course since information abounds on-line and at Amazon.com.

4. Set a budget. Some writers have been so enthusiastic to get their work into print that they have spent thousands of dollars and even bankrupted themselves. Beware of sharks; there are plenty of people out there who are happy to separate the author from her money. The good news is that in today’s word of Digital Publishing, you can self publish on a budget. Even though self publishing can be inexpensive, the last thing you want is that you run out of finances halfway through the process.  There are numerous books on the subject and If you link with other writers through social networking, you will be able to gain realistic forecasts of what you need to expend throughout the life of the publishing project.

5. Consider what form of self-publishing you will opt for. Traditional routes will prove time consuming and expensive. If you decide on Print-On-Demand (POD) then consider using the services of a POD printer that has inside connections with Amazon such as createspace.com. Digital publishing is now a respected enterprise and publishing an e-book is the most cost effective route of all to reach the widest market.  Kindle reaches a vast market offering Authors up to 70% royalties. It costs nothing to have your book published in Kindle format. The self- publishing route you choose will depend on the goals you have as an author.

6. Source the help you will need to self-publish without a great deal of expense. In the process of self-publishing you will become, or need, a copy editor, proof-reader, cover artist and marketing director. It is possible for you to be all of these, but do not overlook social networking and all the assistance that is out there. There is no need in today’s writing world to feel isolation and lack of support as you make those final steps toward your writing goals. You will be surprised how much help is available when you offer to give something back.

7. Become competent at Social Networking. It is easy, fun, supportive, energizing and cost-free.   I met a woman last week at a lecture with author Jack Mapanje. She informed me that she was going to write her life story and had bought a computer and booked on to courses for word processing and networking skills -she was 81 years old. There are four things that you need to succeed on-line, A Website, a Blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook account. There are many others to choose from, but a trawl of a few blogs and websites will soon reveal that the successful independent publishers are using these. Also consider joining Author Networks, these assist networking and give that wonderful sense of being part of something dynamic – great for curing feelings of isolation.

8. Ensure that you have a striking cover. This is essential even if you are publishing electronically. I refuse to buy an e-book that does not have a cover; to do so is like having photocopied sheets stuffed amongst books on a regular bookshelf. My e-reader bookshelf is as important to me as my bookshelf in my home. A great cover sells a book (all my life I have bought books on their covers). Networking on Twitter has allowed me to find and to communicate with good artists who can provide professional artwork for books, blogs and websites at affordable prices.

9. Make sure your book is for sale through several on-line providers. Your goal may be to solely sell through Amazon.com, but since Amazon will compete with other online booksellers, it pays to have your book listed with booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and others. Make sure you are on Smashwords who distribute e-books to retailers such as iBooks, Sony, Diesel and other retailers. Listing your book is free and they will convert your book to e-reader format for no charge, though they do take a percentage of sales.

10. Book reviews, book reviews, book reviews. Use every opportunity open to you to get book reviews that are well written, preferably by readers and writers of your genre. Sign up to goodreads.com and become familiar with fellow authors. You will find that there is a great deal of goodwill and reciprocity between writers online and a polished review that ends up shared through Social Networking, is priceless publicity. I buy the majority of my e-books as a result of reviews and I am seldom disappointed. Use as many review opportunities as you can find time to manage and be sure that you use Amazon for free reviews.

Finally, (yes, this makes 11 tips) and I use it to reinforce my insistence that you – keep writing. Your fan base want to see more work…they really do! So capitalize on your next books success by following all these tips from today. I’ll be watching for your work and if you have followed these ideas, I’ll most likely be buying some of it too!

Meet the Author:

David McLoughlin has been writing since childhood. His work comprises lifestyle articles, short stories, counseling courses, speeches, lectures and poetry. Later in 2011 his first book of poetry will appear ‘No Perfect Reason – No Perfect Rhyme. He is working on ‘Aftershock’ a novel describing the descent into chaos of one life after a bomb blast. David has has been a mentor to authors and writers since 1992 and runs events for the performance of poetry and readings. You can follow David on @veryshortpoetry or drop into the Muse Shack – There is always a cup of something to drink and he will introduce you to the Muse who may offer you some ideas.