Thursday, December 5, 2013

Change of location for Tottie's Book Blog

Just to let everyone know, who may be following this blog, that I will in future be blogging from the new website for the Sell the Pig series of books, It will hopefully be an easier place to interact, so do drop in, say hello and remember to click to follow the blog, so you will be automatically reminded of any updates.

Thanks, and see you soon!


Monday, November 4, 2013

This little piggy went to America - wee-wee-wee

The American market is such a difficult one to break into, particularly for books written in British English and with a very British sense of humour.

Despite doing very well in the UK, 'Sell the Pig' had done nothing more than land a tentative trotter on the other side of the pond. But thanks to the most amazing marketing help from my new publisher Ant Press, this little piggy has now got all four trotters in the trough Stateside and is the Amazon No 1 bestseller in its Senior Travel category both in US and UK markets.

I had so much help from New York Times bestselling author Victoria Twead. Sell the Pig went on special promotion for the month of October through various outlets but notably through the amazing BookBub who were fantastic to work with and incredibly helpful. It was a nail biting time waiting to see if the sales would start to go up and huge thanks to Victoria for being constantly at the end of a message to reassure me, and to put up with my squeaks of delight as little old Pig started its steady climb up through the rankings.

There are more than 1.5 million books in Amazon's Kindle store and Pig made it up to #No 54 of all of them, a truly remarkable effort for a modest little first instalment memoir in a fairly specialised market. And Pig's spectacular rise has had a great effect on little brother 'Is That Billinge Lump?' which has also reached No 1 in its category on more than one occasion.

So now I suppose I had better get on and write Part III. I promised to start it this winter. As we often get snowed up here, it's good for making me sit down and write as there is not a lot else I can do. They are threatening us with the worst winter in 100 years, so I dread to think what that is going to be like. Just as long as I still have electricity - my hands are getting too bad to hand write a full length book these days!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Book reviews - the best present you can give any author!

If you have an author in your family or circle of friends and you're wondering what Christmas present to get them, it's simple. There is nothing an author likes better than book reviews. You will certainly have left your glowing 5-star review already, but why not ask your friends to do the same, if they've read the book?

I don't personally celebrate Christmas but do make a humble thing of Yule, with plenty of pagan trappings.

I'm a little unusual, as those who know me will agree, in that I love all reviews, be they 1-star or 5-star. Because whether or not the reader liked your book, they have been moved enough to take the time to leave their comments.

One of my recent favourites was a 1-star with the comment Ehh for Sell the Pig. I had no idea what it meant so I had to look it up in the Urban Dictionary. It seems it's a non-committal sort of word much favoured by Goths. Now I thought Goths were not easily stimulated to do very much, so I was thrilled at the idea that somewhere, in some bedroom, a black-clad teen had gone to all the trouble to log onto Goodreads and leave a comment on my little book.

But of course like any vain author, my favourites are the 5-star reviews and I'm thrilled to say both Sell the Pig and the sequel Is That Billinge Lump have each recently received one from an Amazon Vine reviewer. These people are in the top 1000 reviewers on Amazon. In my case, the lady in question is ranked at 944.

Rhosmynydd Liz had this to say about Sell the Pig: 'By chance, I stumbled upon this incredible book. The title may seem innocuous, but it has a really appropriate meaning to the content. All will be revealed! Not only does "Sell the Pig" by writer, Tottie Limejuice (her inventive pen name), it qualifies the reasons for a removal to France, particularly with an elderly relative and dog in tow (as we are intending to do).It also gives the reader an overview of the planning stages, viewing of properties and various guidelines to dealing with French estate agents, underscoring "buyer beware".

I had previously purchased "retiring to France" and "Living in Rural France" both excellent reference books but no real personality. Tottie Limejuice certainly gives the reader a feel for her own circumstances, many of which we can relate to but also makes a hilarious read out of a serious situation. I even gave the copy to my 91 year old mum-in-law, who will be joining us, and it was great to hear her chuckle and reminisce about her own sister's experiences in a UK residential home - a fate she was terrified of.

No doubts now, as soon as we have sold (when/if) we will be taking a much happier elderly traveller than before. We also picked up on her advice to purchase a RV to travel in comfort for the 1,000 mile trip for not only one mum but two and not one dog, but two!

Even if you are not contemplating crossing the channel, this is a great autobiographical read and please do not forget to buy the sequel of arrival and life in La Belle France. "Is that the Billinge Lump" Is that Billinge Lump?'

And in very short order, the same reviewer read Is That Billinge Lump and had this to say about it: 'Having read Tottie Limejuice's first book about the many reasons why she contemplated and planned a removal to France with brother, elderly mum and elderly dog in tow, I was so anxious to get my hands on the sequel, ordered on the dot of finishing the last page. Thanks to Amazon's Prime delivery system, I did not have long to wait and had my hands on the volume "Is that the Billinge Lump?" the next day and read it that night - I simply could not put it down, it was so good. As we are contemplating a similar venture, complete with mum(s) (yes that is 2!), and dogs (again 2). We are taking Tottie's advice in "Sell the Pig" to purchase an RV to make the 1,000 mile trip in comfort - super advice.

The reasons we are making our move are similar to Tottie's, primarily lack of help with our aging parents and the ensuing medical assistance (or lack of) in the UK. I thought I had done all the preparative reading with the usual culprits advertised in the property mags but found they had missed the real gem. This excellent book not only provides a very personal example of the caring possibilities and medical care in rural France, but also hands on experience and advice. I am now touching base for the necessary medical forms here and know how NOT to behave in confronting the French social services and medical community. These lessons are invaluable. Tottie has her share of problems and I know we will meet some of these so it has put us in good standing to know what to expect. However, the book is so well written, you do not need the excuse of moving to France to read this. It is a stand alone adventure that would make anyone laugh out loud and cry in the chapters recounting her good and bad times. Even if we are lucky enough to sell our smallholding in Wales and make the trip, I will be waiting with baited breath for the next volume.

Both "Sell the Pig" and "Is that the Bllling Lump?" are stand alone novels, while it would be preferable to read both, either novel on its own presents the reader with a completed story. My conscience will not let me reveal the ending but it was so well completed that my hearty congratulations to the author for being able to share with her readers her emotions and the toll they took during her adventures in the UK and France. Sell the Pig (Sell the Pig series) - again, read this and you will weep but laugh and enjoy and like me, seek out the next soon to be published 3rd volume.'

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A welcome break in the Cantal after the launch of Sell the Pig sequel

Giving birth to a book is an exhausting process, I can tell you! Once 'Sell the Pig' sequel 'Is That Billinge Lump' was safely published by Ant Press, I was in need of a break, a bit of R&R. So I headed once more to the beautiful and peaceful Lac des Estives at Montgreleix in the Cantal.

I had an old friend staying so took him with me and once again we were lucky enough to have the pretty and funky yellow chalet I stayed in in July, with its peaceful views of cattle grazing on the summer pastures. My friend was really blown away by the fabulous scenery and the abundance of wildlife.

He also quickly became a convert to the fabulous food in the Auvergne, and was delighted with how friendly and welcoming the people are. On our last evening, we ate at table with the hosts and about a dozen French guests, from various parts of France.

We had a lovely time driving round the beautiful area, seeing all the sights, including watching a short toed eagle hunting. Of course, the dogs, Ci and Fleur came too. Fleur was having a blonde moment and kept wriggling out of camera shot, and even Ci would only show his rear view!

On our way back, we visited the national Maquis memorial and museum  at Mont Mouchet. As my friend said, if it hadn't been for the French resistance stopping the Germans in their tracks in the Massif Central and preventing them from getting to Normandy, some of us would not be here today. His father drove a mine-seeking tank on the beaches.

We also visited the splendid Garabit viaduct, another stunning example of Eiffel engineering.

So the sequel is safely launched and it and Sell the Pig are taking it in turns to hold the No 1 and 2 slots in their category on Amazon.

As soon as the winter nights start drawing in so I can't be tempted to play outside, I promise to make a start on Part 3 of the tale of Tottie's adventures in France.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Do you love memoirs? You are not alone!

What do writers do when they are not writing? Mostly hang out together talking about books!

I've recently joined a Facebook group called We Love Memoirs. It was started up by New York Times best-selling author Victoria Twead of Ant Press, publishers of Sell the Pig Sequel 'Is That Billinge Lump'.

If you're interested in memoirs, books, reading, authors, chatting, making new friends or whatever, it's a great group to join. It's very relaxed - it must be, as for some reason they have made me a moderator. I'm sure it's a huge honour - if only I knew what I was supposed to do!

Now that 'Lump' is out, he and 'Pig' are displaying lots of sibling rivalry and taking it in turns to beat each other in the rankings. As I write this, 'Pig' is No 1 in its category on Amazon, with baby brother 'Lump' at No 2.

I shall be doing a book signing for both at my favourite French watering hole, Bar Le St Thomas on September 15th, when there is a lamb roast there.

Meanwhile, to recover from all the hard work of publishing 'Lump', I am off down to the Cantal tomorrow  for a couple of days, with a friend, staying in a little chalet near a lake at Le Lac des Estives, which is up on the high plateau where the cattle graze for the summer.

We're staying in the same funky yellow chalet I had last time I was there in July. 

So don't forget to drop in to the We Love Memoirs group on Facebook. I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Living The Good Life, France

Lots of people head to France looking for The Good Life. Some even find it. So I was very pleased when The Good Life, France, gave a favourable review to Sell the Pig, and included an interview with me.

It's a very nice and a favourable review, kindly written by someone who has clearly taken the trouble to read the book in question which, sadly, is not always the case in reviews.

It begins: 'It certainly is an attention grabbing title and author name and you will probably be thinking what does it mean?' and goes on to say: 'Endearing, warm, a good dollop of humour and a lot of honesty have gone into the story of her life with family anecdotes skilfully woven through, Lesley doesn’t hold anything back and is unfailingly upbeat about whatever has befallen her in life.'

It comes at a very good time as the sequel, Sell the Pig, is nearing publication, so if you've not yet read 'Pig', now's a good time to do so, before you embark on the sequel, 'Is That Billinge Lump'.

I notice some other authors interviewed on the same site have their serious or arty authory type pictures. Me being me, I just chucked in one of my favourites of me, standing on top of La Banne d'Ordanche, part of the Massif du Sancy, a favourite place of mine to visit and go camping. 

Must go now, am in the middle of what I sincerely hope will be the final final final edit of the sequel!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Can you help with reviews for Sell the Pig please?

I wonder if some of you kind Sell the Pig readers can help me please? On the Amazon UK site, 'Pig' has done very well indeed for reviews, with 60 x 5-star reviews.But the .com and French sites are lagging some way behind.

The sequel is now finished and with the publishers, Ant Press. Leading up to the launch of the sequel (for those who have not yet seen the announcement, it's called 'Is That Billinge Lump?') it would be nice to give 'Pig' a boost, especially in the US market.

I have the chance of some excellent publicity but 'Pig' needs at least 25 x 5-stars on the US site which it has not yet got.

If you have an account with Amazon, you can leave your review of any of the sites. So if you have already left a review on the UK site, would you be very kind and add it also to the US one? There's probably a clever way of doing it automatically but I'm a technophobe so I don't know. If it were me I would simple copy and paste.

It really would be an enormous help and I would be forever grateful.

Thanks so much if you can spare the time.