Anyone For Cake? How to….

Well! What a weekend. The first Looe Literary Festival was a tremendous success! Plenty of people turned out and took themselves down to this pretty Cornish town on the sea. PLUS it was extra interesting being ‘out of season’. There was a different vibe – and this weekend it was definitely a Literary vibe!

I was delighted to have my very own one hour Author Event slot arranged for me in The Old Boathouse Cafe, on the quay-side facing the river just before it emerges into the sea. My audience had a few extras, a small free draw AND CAKE. DSCF7593

I propped the cake up on my book stand – and, to my surprise, it wasn’t until I went to cut it that some people realised it was a cake!

So I’m going to give you a ‘how I made it’ here 🙂  and I hope you like it as much as others enjoyed eating it!

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cooked cake

First I printed off a large picture of the book cover and used this as my template, it meant I needed to cook a cake 12″ by (about) 8″. I happen to have a nice cake tin that allows you to vary its size by inserting two interlocking dividers, with the largest at 12″ x 12″ reducing in size down to 1″ x 1″ (Though you’d probably not use it for that!) You can also make 4 cakes at once, each 6″ square. Anyway – I created the right size cake tin size and made a Victoria sandwich mix that I had calculated would fill it. (in this case cracked the 7 eggs into a jug and weighed the total, then used the exact same weight for the flour, sugar and butter) I dolloped about half of this mixture into the tin, then added 250g melted plain chocolate beating well as it was added to the other half of the mixture, then dolloped this in between the  plain mix, finishing it with a swirling motion to smooth it out then baked it at 180 degrees until cooked (about 35 mins) I wrapped it well and froze the cake.

Now to the decorations. First I mixed about half a teaspoon of gum-tragacanth into about 150g ready-made roll-out icing (Regal-Ice) This means the paste will harden. I rolled it out and carefully cut the rectangle out – placing it on a tray covered with a sheet of cling-film dusted with cornflour, covered lightly, to prevent dust, with greaseproof paper.

I re-rolled the remainder and by resting the paper sheet on top and using a cocktail stick to press on the line, marked out the shapes of all the dark rocks in the picture. DSCF7566DSCF7568

I removed the paper and using the cocktail stick drew lines on the rocks to give them texture. I also cut a long narrow rectangle to put the author name on later. All these I also placed on a tray as before and set them all to dry in a warm place.

When these were all dry I mixed food colouring to make the colours I expected to need. I marked out with a pale food-colour pen, the lines for the layers of cliffs in the distance, the sand and the sea. Then I painted these in with the food colours giving the larger areas a water wash before applying the colour as you do for water colours, but otherwise it was a bit like painting by numbers 😉 DSCF7583DSCF7586

 

The rocks were given a dark wash so that the textures still showed through; all this was left to dry. When the ‘paint’ was dry I assembled the pieces and hand-painted the title with a red food colour.

I cut the top of the defrosted cake and trimmed it to the perfect size then turned it upside down onto a cake-board with a little icing spread on it to prevent it slipping. I rolled out another 200g of Regal Ice and cut 4 pieces long enough to cover all the edges then rolled the rest very thinly and covered the top and sides with this thin layer, held in place by a brushing of heated-up jam. DSCF7585

Three out of the four strips were textured to look like pages, the fourth I hand painted to look like the spine of the book.

NOW! The assembly, The cover was stuck on with icing, as were all the edges… and lo! the book should have been finished. Unfortunately I forgot the extra thickness of the cover when I cut the spine…. and had to add a bit to fill in the gap!! So now you know what to look out for if you do the same .. and I will know for next time too 🙂 DSCF7594 Crop

All in all it may have made my author slot a little different … if you were there – do tell… if you were unable to come .. well I hope to get out and about more next year – maybe to a festival near you! DSCF7604 crop

As always I love to hear your thoughts – do leave a comment 🙂

 

 

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Radio, Newspaper, Lit Fest – it’s a Thriller!

I’ve had a busy week in the run-up to the new LOOE LITERARY FESTIVAL (13-16th Nov)  with both a piece in the newspaper and a live interview on BBC Radio Cornwall with Tiffany Truscott

When I read about the prospect of a NEW literary festival to be set up in Looe, back in April, I was delighted … as ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ is set in Looe, Cornwall AND it had just come out in Paperback. NEHH_Design_Light

This book is set in the early 1990s, and I have put it in the ‘thriller’ genre. Now you may be aware that I find writing to fit one genre very tricky. You see my muse doesn’t like to be formulaic in any way. My muse likes to take something that looks very much like real life and put a twist into it.

Before I realised that this novel was a light thriller (and I’ll come back to the ‘light’ bit) I never knew whether to call it a Romance .. or a Crime novel. Let me explain.

I always thought of it as a bit of a romance novel as we have three romantic threads going on throughout most of the book. Some of these are more intense than others, some of them are teenagers, some are in their thirties, some forties. So you can see that I would think this was a Romance. However, I am assured, that it is a book that men like to read as much as women, that it is not the sort of ‘romance’ that puts certain people off.. that the ‘romance’ seems to be just part of the life of these characters.

Then again, I thought, perhaps it was a Crime novel. It starts off with crimes, and follows a Detective Inspector as he transfers out of the Met down to Plymouth. It follows some of his cases, needless to say, involving Crime. Put this together with the criminal events that affect the other main characters and we have what I thought of as a Crime novel. Yet, if you were a die-hard Crime reader perhaps you would find too much real life getting in the way of first-and-foremost crime and detection.

Now I can tell you it is a Thriller (with Romance and Crime involved)…. And it is a ‘light’ thiller because it does not fit well with the ‘shoot-em-up, improbably car-chase, blood-n-gore, stop the end of the world’ … type of thriller that I think of as ‘American-style’ thrillers.

One of my reviewers put is this way. ‘Love a good ‘English’ thriller’. Now, I thought, that really sums it up. I love a good English Thriller too (Think Robert Goddard) … but if you live in Cornwall .. and write a book set in Cornwall … best not call it ‘English’ 😉   … So ‘light’ Thriller it is.

Here’s my chat with Tiffany Truscott on BBC Radio Cornwall a few days ago – in case you missed it…   (if you are looking at this on the email – click into the title at the top and this will take you to the blog and then you’ll be able to listen in – it’s on youtube and the link doesn’t show up on the email)

If you are local do come to the NEW LIT FEST in LOOE, there is plenty going on both paid for and for free – I’ll be part of the Liskeard Poets – reading in the Poetry Invaders event 11am on Saturday which is a free event.

Then I’d love to meet you at my Author Event on Saturday 15th, 1.30pm in The Old Boathouse Café. I’ll be reading a few excerpts, answering questions about the novels, writing or whatever you ask and doing a book-signing. This is a free event too and there will also be a free draw …. Oh! … and there will be cake ! See you there

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Hello! Mr Giant, Can You Hear Me?

megaphone by J Scott via Mary Ann Clarke Scott Wana Creative Commons
Image courtesy J Scott via Mary Ann Clarke Scott – Wana Creative Commons – some rights reserved

This is what I’ve been feeling like this week

Hello! Mr Giant, Can You Hear Me?

It started when I was preparing a tweet. Yep, you can find me there too  @annfoweraker with random tweets about Cornwall, writing, my books, what I’m up to… etc. So, there I was preparing to re-tweet that I had noticed Amazon had discounted one of my novels: £9.50 down to £8.95 and I thought I had better check the offer was still there. Amazon makes or stops discounts as and when they feel like it, with no rhyme or reason I can discern, but as I get the same amount and Amazon are discounting out of the amount of money they make from retailing my book I like to let my readers know when offers are on, so I tweet them.

I quickly went into the page for the book and, lo and behold, the offer was still on… but now, though the actual reduction was the same 55p, Amazon were claiming it was a larger discount than previously. WEIRD!…. then I noticed they were claiming that the RRP was £9.71   of course the discount would look to be a higher percentage. I went to my other book pages on Amazon – all had the same problem but each one had a different RRP (all more than the correct £9.50) How could this be?

I didn’t tweet – even though there was still a reduction – the fact that there was an error in the quoted Recommended Retail Price, and therefore the percentage reduction Amazon was claiming they were making, seemed dishonest

I noticed that the one closest to being accurate was the one last added to Amazon. This novel was being offered at a 1% discount – down to £9.50… yes – down to the  actual RRP. What on earth was going on?

I worked out that this change had come about after my latest paperback was added to my lists. Now I am used to Amazon taking a few weeks to sort things out when a new book goes on. It seems (I queried this with my distributor the first time it happened) Amazon put books onto their US (.com) site first, the UK (.co.uk) site picks up the data and puts it on the UK site – but as if it was a book published in the US, giving delivery dates of weeks and translating the price from the US dollar price of the book – which was set as correct when the book was published.

Now, as we all know the dollar, sterling rate fluctuates. So a few weeks down the line the dollar RRP price converted to sterling gives an incorrect sterling RRP.

Usually after a couple of weeks this gets sorted out – the book appears as delivery 1 – 2 DAYS and the price is accurate. This time, however, somehow this glitch had not sorted itself out… and, instead, had infected my other novels. And, as the longer ago a book was published the more inaccurate the conversion will be, the earlier published books had larger discrepancies .

I do not know about you.. but if I bought a book at a discounted price (even of just 1%) and when the book turned up it’s face value was the same as I had paid I would be miffed. (if the discrepancy was more I’d feel proper cheesed off) Who would I blame?  It might be obvious to me to think it is Amazon – but then I deal with Amazon both ends, as it were. I am not just a customer, I also sell my ebooks through Amazon and my publisher distributes through Ingram to Amazon.  I know a little about how it works.

Who would you blame? The publisher? The author? Amazon?

I soon found that there was nothing I could do to point out the glitch to Amazon directly and get it rectified. Hello???

At the moment, after many emails to and fro to Ingram, and their ‘channel specialist’ to Amazon,  Amazon seem to have straightened out two out of the three books .. maybe by the time you read this they’ll all be ok.

Now, all that is left to sort out is how Amazon can say a book is ‘out of stock’ (as they also had for two of mine along with the false ‘discounts’) … when the book is a POD (Print On Demand) as in, you buy it, it is printed same day and posted to you… Ah, Mr Giant … can you hear me??

I really hope this gets sorted out soon as I’m on Radio Cornwall next Friday (7th) and the new Looe Lit Fest on the 15th November, both of which I hope will generate interest in my novels and, like it or not, Amazon is the go-to place for a huge number of book buyers nowadays.

Do you get frustrated when you are trying to deal with organisations so large there seems no proper way to get through to them?

Would you have though the publisher might be the one to blame for the misleading information on Amazon sale page for a book?

Do share your trials and tribulations with the GIANTS – you know I love to hear from you.

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