Paying more for your digital downloads? Here’s why!
If you live in the UK or any of the EU countries and are in the habit of buying digitally provided services, then this post is for you. It doesn’t matter what you buy, whether it’s music, ebooks, software, apps, films, games, screensavers, even crochet or knitting patterns, I could go on for ever, then you have been paying more for them from the beginning of this year. In fact, anything you download from the internet to your computer, mobile phone, android tablet or iPad etc, is now costing you more!
The reason for this is quite simple. It’s the new EU VAT rules on the supply of electronic services to the consumer, that’s you.
Three things that inspired me during the past few weeks:
Friends/family. No matter what’s going on in their lives, they’re always there with a word of encouragement and some hugs (real or virtual.
Travelling. My last trip was before Christmas but places new fill me with ideas for stories. Now to get the rest of the inspiration and get said stories onto paper.
Snow scenes. I might grumble about driving in the snow, but on a sunny day there’s nothing more beautiful than looking out at the carpet of white and seeing the sun glint off the flakes and making them sparkle.
There are so many bloggers that inspire me. So without further ado, my nominees for The Very Inspiring Blogger Awards are:
Robbie Burns Night Celebrations with Janice Horton
I’m so glad you were able to work me into your busy schedule, Janice. You’ve been snap-gapping all over the place of late so I’m thrilled to have you here at Celtic Connexions. You’re looking very “Scottish” today, all decked out in your tartan.
I take it you’re ready for a good old-fashioned ceilidh – Canadian style.
Here, come sit by the fire take the chill off (escorts my esteemed guest to one of the tartan wing-back chairs facing the crackling fire ).
I’ll summon my manservant, Donald (the Red) , to bring us some refreshments. Would you care for a wee dram? Perhaps Glengoyne – Scotland’s only un-peated single malt?(rings bell and gives manservant instructions)
I think you’ll like what I have in store for you at the ceilidh tonight. I tried to get the Old Blind Dogs but they weren’t available. That’s okay as I do have a vast collection of Scottish music on CDs – Old Blind Dogs, The Corries, Runrig and the list goes on.
(swish of swinging door as the manservant returns with a tray carrying a decanter of whisky – 18 year old Glenlivet no less, two glasses and water). “Your whisky, my lady,” he says as he places it on the table.
As the manservant straightens to leave, I cry out… “Donald, where’s your trousers?” because so unlike him, he’s wearing a kilt!
Overcome by the shock of seeing him dressed in that fashion, it takes me a moment to regain my composure. (fans self with copy of Leopard Magazine).
Well, while we wait for our meal to be ready, Janice, let’s chat about your novel. I’m really interested to find out more about it and your creative process. You spent three months on the Island of Utila researching and writing Castaway in the Caribbean. Can you tell me more?
Yes, I had the most amazing time in 2014 visiting, researching and writing in the Caribbean. While there I spent a lot of time in boats (as one features in my new novel) and even got to sail off Tortola in the British Virgin Islands in a schooner used in the making of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie! After visiting lots of islands, my husband and I settled down to island life for a stay of three months on Utila, a tiny Caribbean island off mainland Honduras. This is where I wrote the first draft of ‘Castaway in the Caribbean’.
When do you expect to release it?
April 2015. I have promotional online book tours organised for April and May.
What made you choose that title?
I feel the title suits the story line perfectly. The premise of the book is that the two main characters, a surly boat captain who hates tourists and a girl holidaying in the Caribbean who desperately needs to get to a neighbouring island, end up castaway together on a remote island. It’s a fun, fast paced romantic adventure novel that I hope will be the perfect beach read for 2015!
The manservant returns and tells us that dinner is served… so we pick up our drinks and at the first skirl of the pipes, wait for him to enter the room and we get piped in to the formal dining room (I wish I had one of them, too) to the strains of The Bonnie Lass of Fyvie for a traditional Robbie Burns feast.
Once everyone is around the table, we begin with The Selkirk Grace.
Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.
Our first course is Cock-a-leekie soup.
Not strictly traditional as I don’t put prunes in it.
You mentioned (or did I pick up on it) something about the names of your characters. Was there a particular reason why you used those names? If so, can you share it?
I wrote the first draft with my husband’s name, Travis, as the romantic hero’s name and the heroine of the story is called Janey (which is kind of like my name, Janice). I fully intended on changing the names in the second draft but for some reason ended up not doing so. The characters of Castaway in the Caribbean are Travis and Janey in their own right – they are not meant to be me and my husband – and the story is definitely a work of fiction!
The soup course is cleared away and the skirl of the pipes begins again. The door opens and the haggis is brought into the room with great pomp and circumstance.
Address to the Haggis
We’ll have a bit of a musical interlude courtesy of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers before we carry on with the rest of the evening’s festivities.
What’s your next project? Do you have another novel started?
I have a few ideas in mind for new projects. I’m travelling again this year and I’d like to continue the theme of writing romantic adventure novels set in places that inspire me.
Now that we’ve talked about your WIP (work in progress for those not accustomed to author-speak and abbreviations), tell us more about you and how the readers of Celtic Connexions can follow you?
Thank you, Melanie. I really enjoy connecting with people. I’m a keen blogger. I’m always on Facebook and I love to Twitter too. So here’s my links:
Janice Horton writes contemporary romantic fiction with a dash of humour and a sense of adventure. Look out for Janice’s new release for 2015 ‘Castaway in the Caribbean’
and her Amazon Kindle bestselling books ‘Bagpipes and Bullshot‘
and ‘Reaching for the Stars‘
and her fun ‘Voodoo Romance’ series of novellas.
Her nonfiction guide to online promotion ‘How To Party Online‘
is recommended reading for all authors and writers by publishers. Janice is a regular blogger from her website at janicehorton.co.uk and you’ll also find her on Facebook and Twitter. She is also associate editor at the award winning online magazine Loveahappyending Lifestyle Magazine where she produces her monthly ‘The Bookshelf’ feature and her seasonal ‘Snap Gap Travel’ features.
Thank you so much for coming to my “un”conventional Robbie Burns Night. I hope you won’t have a sair heid tomorrow. I see the chairs have been rearranged in the front room so shall we move the party in there and let the ceilidh begin?
Yes, Virginia, there really is a Weetshill mansion…
and here’s the photographic evidence of its existence.
From the first time I saw this derelict mansion in October 1993, I was head over heels in love with it. I mean, just look at it. Despite the fact that there are no windows, floors, no roof and there are good sized trees growing within the confines of the stone walls, you can easily see what it would have looked like in the past.
This beautiful, yet haunting pile, is located in the heart of rural Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Whether it’s inhabited by ghosts or not, the image conjures up all sorts of tales (leastways I think so).
And quite like my heroine, Sarah Shand, in A Shadow in the Past, I’m drawn to this place. Perhaps that’s why she says someday I’m going to live there.
This photo was taken from a different angle in 1997 and with a better camera lens. You can really see how much nature has reclaimed since the photo above taken in 1993.
And before you ask… it IS visible from the stone circle at Gordonsfield farm!
While I envision a different outcome for this grand place (I always thought B&B or hotel), it will live again. The mansion proper – at last word – will be converted to luxury flats. But then that’s economy permitting.
As you can see from this photo taken in 2013, the work has begun. The trees growing up within the walls have been removed, although it appears that they’re growing back. Pesky things.
While I’ve never had the ability to purchase said mansion, I hope I’ve let it live on in some way by including it in my novels… yup, it appears in the second book in the series, working title Shadows From Her Past.
Do you use actual locations, buildings and such in your writing? Please share in the comments.
Today I’m welcoming English author, Gilli Allan, to Celtic Connexions. I’ve asked her to share her author’s journey on her way to a 3-book contract with Accent Press.
But first, a little about the first book in the deal – Torn.
Jess has made a series of bad life choices and all have let her down.
Escaping London, she sets out to recreate herself in the idyllic countryside, and this time she wants to get it right!
She wants to lead a responsible, tranquil life with her young son Rory, but soon discovers stresses which pull her in opposing directions – conflict over a new bypass, between friends, and worst of all, between lovers.
Educated, experienced, and pragmatic, James is a widowed farmer whose opinions differ from, and enrage, Jess. His young shepherd, Danny, is an uneducated and inexperienced idealist. Jess is attracted to them both, and realizes if she wants her idyllic countryside life to survive, she must choose her Mr Right.
‘Art’ was where I was headed in life. This was the accepted wisdom in my family, despite the fact that my primary hobby, when growing up, was writing. When I started Art College at sixteen, I stopped writing altogether. I’d outgrown all that soppy stuff.
After some years of working in advertising I married. It was feasible to continue working from home as a free-lance artist after my son was born, but it would have been difficult. We lived outside London, and this was before email, even before PCs. What else could I do? I took up writing again, but this time with the serious intention of being published. And that first manuscript, parcelled up with brown paper and string, return postage inside, was taken on by a new publisher almost immediately. My second swiftly followed.
My publisher, Love Stories, was trying to fill a niche for unconventional women’s fiction – love without the rose tinted glasses – characterised by the Press at the time as, “The thinking woman’s Mills & Boon”. But this ambition failed – thwarted by distribution and marketing problems. In those days, if books didn’t make it onto the high street, they couldn’t be bought. I never felt the failure of ‘Love Stories’ as anything to do with me. I had no doubt I would soon find another publisher and began sending out my next, heavy typescript when it was completed. But, after an interval of months, back it would come, with less than fifty pages, thumbed.
After joining the RNA I refined this procedure. I now knew that publishers only wanted to see the first three chapters, and I began to make multiple submissions, but as before, back came the rejections. Instead of writing a new book, I spent much of my life – between these ‘submission episodes’- editing and re-editing the whole of the old one. Reinvigorated with optimism, “Surely this time…?”, I would then send my submissions – several in a batch – but now to literary agents. I’d eventually learned that publishers preferred not to receive material direct from wannabes. They wanted the wheat pre-sorted from the chaff. Unfortunately, I was chaff. Gradually I’d absorb the message that my book was a ‘dead horse’ (apologies for mixed metaphors) and stop flogging it!
There were times when agents expressed interest. For brief periods my self-belief revived a little. Maybe I wasn’t a self-deluded idiot. But when those agents also failed to find a publisher, their attitude towards me and my books changed, and I was on my own again.
It was the E revolution that seemed to throw me a life-line, but even self-publishing didn’t provide the complete answer. The effort needed to raise the visibility of one book above the growing sea of others, is daunting. E-publishing certainly made me savvier about social networking, and helped to establish a Gilli Allan profile, but although I was selling some books, and was rewarded with glowing reviews, I wasn’t selling in enough numbers to bother the taxman.
But… In my experience, when things happen, they happen quickly! I attended the RNA conference in July 2014. There I talked to Hazel Cushion, founder of Accent Press, and told her a little of my history. No more than a matter of weeks later Accent Press had contracted to publish my 3 ‘Indie’ books. TORN came out in December; LIFE CLASS and FLY OR FALL are due out later this year. Although I know it’s true, I can scarcely believe it. The hoopla of Christmas between then and now has added to my sense of suspended reality, and the fact that I am, again, an author with a mainstream publisher, has yet to sink in. I’m now waiting to be hailed an over-night success!
Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.
She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.
Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village. Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli is particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher – Accent Press. TORN is the first book to be published in the three book deal.
Thanks for stopping by today, Gilli and telling us about your author’s journey. I wish you huge successes with Torn and all of your books – written or still waiting for you to put ‘pen to paper’ so to speak.
Eleven-year-old Nick Cassidy’s stepsister delights in calling him gross names. His half-sister loves for Nick to push her in the stroller, to his embarrassment. What if the guys from school see him? All Nick wants is his father to come back and take him away from this crazy family. Is it any wonder he sometimes lives in the doghouse?
I LIVE IN A DOGHOUSE is the story of a boy’s struggles to accept his new family while he longs for the old. When his father finally returns, will Nick’s dreams come true? Or will he discover that memories sometimes are faulty, and it’s best to forget the past and treasure the present?
Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. To some of her friends, she is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.
For twenty-two years Beverly taught children in grades two through five how to read and write. They taught her patience. Now, she teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.
One of the saddest things I see among beginning writers is their burning need to publish before their work is ready. For many writers in the early days of their career, publication at this stage often comes at the expense of their reputation as a good author.
Writers’ groups, for all their many good deeds, are sometimes gathering places for pompous snobs. I want to be clear that I am not down on writing groups. Far from it. The writing group I belonged to for several years involved a wonderful collection of writers who brought a variety of skills and experience, and who wrote in many different genres. The majority of the members were down-to-earth and extremely helpful to new writers. However, my writing group also happened to have several authors whose agenda included basking in the prestige of “being published” rather than first concentrating on producing their best work or helping their colleagues.
At Winter Solstice something came for the Penningtons and tore their family apart. On the same day, thirteen years later, daughters Iysobel and Ziema are terrified by what appears in the mirror before them.
Terrified a curse hangs over thePennington family eldest daughter Iysobel struggles to uncover the truth and find out ifthe curse really does exist.
Fighting forces she never imagined existed outside of the fairy tales she read as a child; Iysobel is not only in danger of losing her life but also her heart. As she discovers hidden secrets about her mother and even herself, Iysobel is caught up in an icy web of magic and mystery.
This winter one thing Iysobel isn’t wishing for is a white Christmas…
Anthony had just reached the step to the back door when the sound of footsteps from inside drew near. The cloaked intruder stomped over the threshold, easily negotiating the snow despite wearing high-heeled boots. With a maniacal laugh, the person booted Anthony in the chest. Fueled by love, Anthony moved faster than either he or the other person had anticipated and grabbed hold of the booted foot.
“Fool!” The boot wriggled in his grasp. “You cannot stop me!”
The pearlescent leather of the boot squeaked against Anthony’s hold. Using his weight as an anchor, he pulled harder. Unable to lift his head properly he could only see as far as the intruder’s knees but he could tell they were definitely feminine, encased as they were in slim fitting silvery trousers in a silky material.
This time the voice was easily identifiable as female to Anthony’s ears. “Do you really wish to fight me?”
Anthony’s grip on the boot lessened, not for the want of trying but because his energy was fast ebbing away. “I will fight you even if it kills me…what did you do to Ana?”
The woman yanked her leg back, wrenching it free from Anthony’s weakening hands. “I made her remember the promise she had made.”
Anthony’s vision blurred with pain but he forced the words out, “What promise?”
“You ask too many questions. Maybe I should remove your tongue.” The woman cackled. “No, I will settle for something far more satisfying.”
This time Anthony was not fast enough to capture her foot as the woman kicked him in the chest. With a cry, he crashed back against the wall of the house, cracking his head above his left ear. Blood dribbled from the wound, running in and over his ear.
The cloaked woman lifted a hand and blew on her gloved palm. A cloud of ice crystals fluttered down to Anthony and danced before his eyes. Suddenly, the crystals exploded alight and shot into his surprised eyes. He screamed as the glowing crystals burrowed inside his head. Powerless to move from the awkward position he had fallen in; his agonized cries were the only sound to be heard. Darkness washed over him and the last thing Anthony saw was a soft, pink blanket flutter down and land in a crumpled heap on the blood-stained snow.
About the author
Gina Dickerson lives by the Thanet coast on the north-eastern tip of Kent, in the UK, with her family and playful Siberian husky. She is a full-time author and writes romantic suspense with a twist, horror, and fantasy because her characters refuse to play nice and wind up with more than a few bone-rattling skeletons in their closets.
As well as being the author of The Pennington Christmas Curse, signed with Limitless Publishing, Gina is the author of the murderous romantic suspense novel Unveiling Christmas, the twisted short story collection, Underleaf, as well as the fantasy, adventurous romance series Mortiswood Tales, and has also written fashion and shopping columns for a local newspaper.
When she’s not writing, Gina loves rummaging in vintage clothes shops, taking way too many photographs, and leafing through fashion glossies.