The Trader of Saigon … and perfect timing

I may not have come across this book if it wasn’t for the fact that Lucy is a friend of my second son… and so he had Liked her Facebook post when her debut novel was published by Quercus – so I Liked her FB page too. Now, this is something else that authors do… they support other authors especially new and local authors. Not that you’d think this by some comments from a few traditionally published authors who seem to think that readers won’t read their book if they read a book by someone new to the scene, as is Lucy, or heaven forefend, someone Indie Published. Truth is, readers will read .. and the traditionally published old guard are the only ones the traditional publishers spend real money on advertising (and those new ones they have forked out some crazy advance for, in a bidding war) so all the rest need support and help to spread the word. The best way, perhaps the only way, is by word of mouth (or review/blog). I prefer to pick up and read a book that someone I know has told me they enjoyed – and I know I am not alone in this.

So, to Lucy Cruickshanks’ novel The Trader of Saigon.  untitled1

The book description:  From Hanoi to Saigon, a tale of one woman’s search for a better life – and a thriller that strikes to the merciless heart of post-civil war Vietnam. In the chaos and corruption of 1980s’ Vietnam, three seemingly unconnected lives are brought together by greed, fear and hope.As a US Army deserter, Alexander is a man without country; trapped in a life he no longer controls and embroiled in the dark business of trading women. His latest victim is Hanh, a rural girl who moved to Hanoi to escape inevitable poverty and who sees Alexander’s arrival as the answer to her prayers. Neither of them has ever met Phuc – a Vietnamese businessman who backed the wrong side in the war and is now unable to pay his financial and political debts to the Party. But his struggles are about to change both their lives.

Review: Very unlike my own locally-based novels, Lucy takes us to a world apart, Vietnam shortly after the disastrous civil war, a world where The Party keeps an eye on everyone and any white man is likely to be a Russian. Lucy skilfully weaves together the stories of three people, not all likable, but certainly interesting. The atmosphere of watchfulness, poverty, corruption, graft and menace is melded well into the heat, dirt and desperation of life in Vietnam at this time, and this is testament to Lucy’s writing skill and knowledge.

I found that I read this novel very quickly and when I finished I had to go and check on how many pages it had been (I was reading on kindle and so did not have the heft of a physical book to guide me) and it was a full length novel! Why do I comment on this – well, a full-length novel that passed so quickly tells me that it read swiftly and carried me along with its fast pace, even though I had been unaware of it at the time.

Lucy also uses some very effective imagery, like the ‘smiling lizard skeleton’ that I found myself thinking about at times when I was not even reading the novel. All in all a great debut novel and well worth reading.


I wrote most of this blog in the middle of the week and when I went to grab the link today I saw that Lucy’s novel for Kindle is reduced from over £4, that I recall it was, to just £1.63. HOW LUCKY IS THAT?  Apparently this is  for a *limited period  (*so it says on Lucy’s FB, but, no, I don’t know how long – but might be quite short)  Here’s a link to The Trader of Saigon.

AND A BIG THANK YOU to all of you who commented on my cover dilemma. Your comments really helped and the cover we have chosen combines the handwritten (on a postcard) feel with a font that does not look ‘flippant’ and instead engenders a sense of urgency. So here is my COVER REVEAL  (it looks a bit blurry here but if you click on it it comes up clear) Hope you all like it as much as I do!


How do you find new authors to read?

When you find a new author you like do you read through all their back list straight off, or eke them out between other books?

Do share, you know I love to hear from you (and apologies if your comments aren’t coming up straight away – wordpress playing up … but I’m looking into it – thanks for your comments and your patience!)


Change Your Energy provider .. it’s so easy RANT

pylon by Yummifruitbat
Pylon courtesy Yummifruitbat wikimedia commons

Oh No It’s NOT!

There – that should be enough of a rant… but I am still reeling after trying to change my energy provider.

It makes me laugh … the government ministers who tell us that to get the best deal we need to swap. The money-saving gurus who say ‘paying too much? – just swap’

To start with it takes six to ten weeks to make the change! What? Really?  By the time your chosen plan is in place it is probably not the best option out there for you anymore.

So do not make the mistake of cancelling your previous plan (this with two weeks notice) before the new energy provider is poised to take you over… otherwise in the interim you’ll get put on your old supplier’s highest rate going .. until the change.

OK, so ours was more complicated. To start with we were changing from a business rate to a domestic rate… and then we do have two meters. However this did not stop British Gas poaching us a few years back (All the husband  did was to ask for details to be sent to our address… next thing we know we started getting bills from British gas and our previous supplier had not even sent a letter asking why we were changing)

But now, when I want to change and have taken hours sorting out the best options for the two different meters online – and after an exhaustive (and exhausting)  two hour phone call (free number thankfully) in which I have to give all readings for both meters for a minimum six month period and they work out some complicated set of figures to give a direct debit amount … and a two week wait, they sent an email saying the contract was cancelled as they could not take over a business meter.

What? It was changing to domestic metering that meant the previous suppliers were no longer competitive in the first place. This meant I had to go back to my original supplier and ask that they change the record on the data bank to say it was no longer a business meter. Once this was done  (took a week) I contacted my chosen new supplier.  Now could they give us the plans we wanted? …. well, only after we go through EVERYTHING AGAIN! as they had deleted everything when the contract was cancelled….. except – get this – when it came to my direct debit details … well they had kept those!

OK, so we go through everything, including the figures and the sums. The guy on the phone reads through everything he has put into the new contract. This will be sent by email for me to agree. I wait .. two weeks … the contract arrives. It is WRONG in just about every way possible. They have listed one meter twice.. and applied two different plans to it (impossible) and then set ridiculously low direct debits. I mean, I’d love it if my electricity bills really were £1.97  and £7.45  a MONTH (for the respective meters) but I know, and any fool would know, that is ridiculously low.

Back to the phones…. and yes, they want to cancel this contract and start again. I baulk! I do not have unlimited time ( or patience) eventually they say they can ‘save’ the contract and insert the correct details as I have them written down (I’d jotted down the salient points when it was read back to me… meter numbers against direct debit amounts etc)

Now I am still here, still waiting ( it seems that I have to wait the cooling off period before they send me a copy of the new contract.. as it isn’t a new contract but an amended one) I pointed out that I cannot agree or disagree with a contract that I have not seen written and, as the last one was such a disaster I am certainly not going to.

By Friday I ought to have sight of the contract… by mid April we might be with the new supplier (this from a process started in January) and hereby ends the rant 🙂

Anyone else out there been changing energy suppliers?

Any tips for unwary swappers?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you!


What’s in a font? Please let me know!

Time has been flying past and the preparations for Nothing Ever Happens Here to be released as  a paperback has been my major project.  Now, at last, we come to the final design for the cover. The original photograph used is still going to be the same. It was taken in the area that the book is set and says (to me) ‘a holiday on the coast … but with dark foreshadowing’.  So the changes are mainly to do with the lettering. My own name will be as it is on the Paperback version of  The Angel Bug…. so we are left with the words ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’.

Here is the problem. Fonts speak. Just the mere shape, density, texture of a font can create a different feel, a different sense in the mind of the reader.

Here are the current three front runners to occupy the space on the front of the paperback. Please help me choose. (You can click on each picture to enlarge in a separate window)

To help you choose, if you haven’t read the novel already, here is the blurb ….

Crime, romance, smuggling and Cornwall all come together in this light thriller set in the early 1990s

Living in London suddenly becomes too uncomfortable for the attractive Jo Smart and her sixteen year-old son, Alex, after he is beaten up, so when they are offered the chance to take an immediate holiday in a peaceful Cornish town they jump at it. But not all is as peaceful as it seems as they become involved in a murder inquiry, drug raid and abduction.
DI Rick Whittington has also escaped from London and the reminders of the death of his wife and child, and through his investigations finds himself meeting Jo and being drawn into the events surrounding her.


So which font fits best, 1, 2, or 3?

Which ‘says’ the right thing to you?

How and why did you make your choice … which may just be a gut feeling?

Do help me out here, you know I love to hear from you … I need to hear from you … Thank YOU!


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