A Novel Blog – Part 6: Winning at Life as an Author (+ Free Books!)

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This flyer makes me winning at life, so the librarian tells me

This Saturday, you will be able to track me down in my natural habitat at Botany Library in Auckland. I am giving an author talk (see right sidebar for deets) and anyone is welcome to roll up and throw questions at me (not books, just words – nice words). I’m not one for giving speeches and have no intention of writing a speech, rather I will talk about books, writing, research, reading, reviewing and general Spain-ness. My children have kindly(!) offered to play photographers.

As this is not the kind of thing I normally do (even at smaller gatherings, I tend to shut up, so me, a microphone and an audience is extremely daunting), I have decided to be super fun and coincide the chat with a free book offer. This is a one-time only deal that hasn’t been done, and probably won’t be done in the future. For five days, Thursday 18 until Tuesday 23 June, the Secrets of Spain trilogy, containing Blood in the Valencian Soil, Vengeance in the Valencian Water and Death in the Valencian Dust will be free on Kindle. Feel free to grab your own copy, and by all means, review me, as a trilogy or on any individual book. I want to hear thoughts on my work (no need to be a troll, though, there’s enough of that already).

Secrets of Spain

Check your time zone for the special deal

UTC (GMT) – Thursday 18 June 07:00 until Tuesday 23 June 06:59

Pacific Standard Time – Thursday 18 June 0:01 until Monday 22 June 23:59

New Zealand Standard Time – Thursday 18 June 19:00 until Tuesday 23 June 18:59

European Daylight Savings Time – Thursday 18 June 09:00 until Tuesday 23 June 08:59

Click here for Amazon US

Click here for Amazon UK

Celebrate the release of ‘Death in the Valencian Dust’ with competitions and freebies!

CLICK HERE TO BUY IN PAPERBACK AND ON KINDLE

May 8 sees the release of the third and final installment of the Secrets of Spain series, entitled Death in the Valencian Dust. To celebrate the long-awaited final part of the Beltrán Morales puzzle, there are free books up for grabs!

Spain: September, 1975 – After 39 years as dictator, Francisco Franco is dying, but his parting words to the nation are leaving a bitter legacy. Jaime Morales, brother-in-law and sword handler for Spain’s greatest bullfighter, Paco Beltrán, finds himself caught up with a young Basque woman named Alazne, who seeks political change with plans of violence. Executions are handed down, and Spain collapses into turmoil in the shadow of their leader’s death and the crowning of a new king. Jaime, Alazne and entire Morales family have to face who they are and what they believe…

It’s 2014 and the final season for Spain’s favourite celebrity bullfighter, Cayetano Beltrán Morales. Guided by his father Paco and Uncle Jaime, Cayetano is reluctant to let go of his magnificent career. His wife, Luna Montgomery, has plans as she transitions from mother of the couple’s four children to leader of the Beltrán family, while fighting Spain’s ‘pact of forgetting’. Cayetano’s sister, Sofía, has rising political ambitions in Valencia as Spain crowns a new king. The final ghosts of Escondrijo, Luna’s Valencian farm, can finally speak the truth. But the Beltrán Morales family must at last recognise their identity, where they sit in Spain’s turbulent present, and their potentially fractured future.

Bodies need to be laid to rest, truths must be acknowledged, and destinies are up in the air as Luna Montgomery finds her long-awaited place in her Spanish family. But death still lurks in the Valencian mountains…

The same day as the release of Death in the Valencian Dust, sees the release of the Secrets of Spain trilogy, all together in one edition, for anyone who is starting the saga, or anyone who wishes to have this limited edition release.

To celebrate, 20 copies of Death in the Valencian Dust and 5 copies of the special Secrets of Spain edition will be given away in the ebook format of your choice. To enter, just put your name in the comment section below, along with the answer to this easy question about the series –

What is the home country of Luna Montgomery and her grandmother, Scarlett?

All names and details will not be published; all comments remain private. The winners will be published on Friday 8 May.

Also, from May 7 for four days only, both Blood in the Valencian Soil and Vengeance in the Valencian Water, the first two books in the series, will be free on all Amazon sites worldwide.

Get  Blood in the Valencian Soil free from Amazon US – HERE

Get Blood in the Valencian Soil free from Amazon UK – HERE

Get Vengeance in the Valencian Water from Amazon US – HERE

Get Vengeance in the Valencian Water from Amazon UK – HERE

A Novel Blog – Part 3: Sorry, Readers, I Ran Away With The Circus

cricket world cup

Okay, I didn’t join a literal circus, but it has felt that way. I have been MIA on my blog for the last few months with good reason. Last year, I was chosen as a Cricket World Cup volunteer and got a snazzy colourful uniform (as you can see from the pic above). I figured this little project wouldn’t be too much work, right?

Don’t know what the Cricket World Cup is? Don’t worry, you’re not alone (Hey, only a BILLION people watch). It’s a once-every-four-years cricket tournament with the top 14 cricketing countries. It was being hosted between New Zealand and Australia, which also ended up as the teams in the final match. I got to work at Eden Park stadium, and witnessed two of the biggest matches – NZ v Australia, and NZ v South Africa. As a huge cricket fan, I got to see some of the world’s greatest players, and New Zealand has been gripped with cricket fever for February and March. I never even looked at my desk, or my books, in all that time. Imagine yourself, surrounded by your heroes, and other people who love them, and then think… would you be busy working, or busy living it up? I got asked out on more dates at those games than I have been in my whole life, didn’t see that coming.

Plus alas, is that a good reason for ignoring my readers? It was not the only life-changing thing going on. Rolling into town was the juggernaut which is the Volvo Ocean Race. If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably become an accidental expert on the subject. I was chosen to work as one of the teachers for the Volvo school programme, showing children all about boats and the activities surrounding this round-the-world adventure. Once the schools had gone, I was charged with a massively fun job of guarding the boats and sailors from the public each day. Boring? HELL NO. It was amazing. I talked boats all day while out in the sunshine, getting invites to go sailing, touring boats that thousands wished they could look inside, was at the forefront of all the prep-work the yachts needed, danced all night, sipped drinks in VIP lounges…. this was work. Old friends, new friends, free stuff, and that odd, powerful, feeling you get from having an all-access pass dangling around your neck, making judgments as to who is fit to go near the gazillion-million dollar yachts. Back to my desk to write? Hardly, it was all day in the blazing sunshine, and three weeks just flew by before the boats left for Itajaí (that’s in Brazil).

Every little kid has dreams, plenty of them. As a child, all I wanted was to travel the world with the Volvo Ocean Race. I have been involved several times, and this time, and being able to work as port crew for the stopover was an unexpected delight. It has changed my life in a number of ways, which I don’t need to bore anyone with here.  Here is a little video about one of the boat here in Auckland. (At 2-ish mins, I caught one of the balls, a fun souvenir. Is it cheating when you’re on the dock with the sailors?)

Also, a look at what it’s like to sail around the world (the school kids love this one)

What’s the point here, Caroline? The point is, I have been highly disinterested in writing since about Christmas. I lost my focus, I lost interest in the finishing and preparing Death in the Valencian Dust for sale. So I took time away from writing, with the intention of never bothering to write another word ever again. I have also worked in the sports arena. Sailing is what I live for, as hungry to achieve my dreams as I was as a kid. For all the work I’ve done in these last few months, I have received so much back in reply. When it all died down, about a week and a half ago, I had suddenly found hidden desires to finish my book. Not only will Death in the Valencian Dust be ready come May 8, so will its companion, the Secrets of Spain trilogy all together in one (HUGE) book. Editing, cover art, promos – I’ve been onto everything and, what’s more, I’m proud of what I’ve produced.

So, all I had to do was have nothing to do with writing or Spain, and I’ve found the energy and drive to finish a trilogy about Spain. Who knew? And yes, my next book is already underway, and the cover art is already back from the artist, I’ll share that really soon!

(Just don’t ask me about Luna Rossa withdrawing from the America’s Cup in Bermuda. I’m still gutted about that life change)

Help and Hear a Writer about Spain/Ayuda a un escritor sobre España

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Off I go again, time to write another book. In fact, I have three projects on the go at the moment, but it’s time to knuckle down and finish (read: start) Death in the Valencian Dust. This project was planned and researched long ago, and now it’s time to start the first draft of this story, the third book in the Secrets of Spain series. Even though I have all this well in hand, I am putting out a request for assistance for any of the following –

Any photos of Valencia and Madrid in 1975 – people, buildings, anything big or small

Newspaper articles relating to ETA in 1975

Coverage of Franco’s death in 1975

Any tidbit in relation to the assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco in 1973

Pretty much anything about the Movimiento Nacional

Bullfighting photographs from the late 60’s and through the 70’s

The execution of Catalan anarchist Salvador Puig Antich in 1974

Any piece of information is useful, no matter how simple. While I have already been studying all these subjects, sometimes the most helpful tips come from others. Be it a photo, link to an article, either one or one hundred pages long, anything would be much appreciated from all the fine Spain lovers out there. Everyone who helps will of course be acknowledged in the book.

I get asked often how the process of booking writing goes. I can only speak for myself, so throughout this book I will be tweeting each day I work, and what I managed to achieve (or not achieve). I will use the hashtag #ValencianDust in my tweets (even if just so I can keep track of my own progress!). I will start tomorrow, September 8, day 1 of the project. I was meant to start last week but an emergency situation got in the way. Let’s see if I can start on a high, since I am also starting my Spanish language studies again (God knows my nerves when speaking Spanish hinder my ability to ever progress).

Thank you!

Tiempo para escribir otro libro. De hecho, tengo tres proyectos en marcha en este momento, pero es hora de que los nudillos hacia abajo y acabado  Muerte en el polvo Valenciana. Me estoy poniendo a cabo una solicitud de asistencia por cualquier de los siguientes –

Las fotos de Valencia y Madrid en 1975 – las personas, edificios, cualquier

Los artículos de prensa relacionados con ETA en 1975

La cobertura de la muerte de Franco en 1975

Cualquier dato en relación con el asesinato de Luis Carrero Blanco en 1973

Casi cualquier cosa sobre el Movimiento Nacional

Tauromaquia fotografías de los años 60 e 70

La ejecución del anarquista catalán Salvador Puig Antich en 1974

Cualquier pieza de información es útil, no importa cuán simple. he estado estudiando todos estos temas, a veces los consejos más útiles provienen de otros. Ya sea una foto, enlace a un artículo, ya sea uno o cien páginas, nada sería muy apreciada. Todo el que ayuda, por supuesto, ser reconocido en el libro.

Gracias!

PART 3: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

When I put out the call for questions ahead of my Luminous Colours of Dusk book release, inevitably there would be questions about Spain and my books based there. So, here is a Q&A section dedicated to my Secrets of Spain series.

Why write about books based in Spain?

That is a good question. I’m a New Zealander, a baby country with a small but interesting history. To write the story of my family coming out to this pioneering nation from Scotland and Ireland would make a great tale. But when I moved to Spain, the place spoke to me, as it has spoken to so many foreigners over time. I feel a personal connection to the struggles of the country, and the history and politics speaks to me better than my home country. (Though, since it’s election time in New Zealand, I’m pretty outspoken at the moment). You can find a 1001 books based in Madrid, Barcelona, or anywhere in southern Spain, but Valencia sits outside the spotlight. You only have to visit the city to understand how unique it is, and to me, the perfect setting to write books. The history of the place gives so many exciting possibilities.

Why write about the Spanish civil war?

There is no war like the Spanish civil war. There was no one side versus another, rather factions coming together, struggling against the enemy and one another. Nothing is as vicious as a civil war, yet other nations weighed in, while some stayed on the sidelines with their own agendas. Volunteers came to fight and changed the course of the war. While one side defeated the other, and evil won the war, some believe the outcome was a good one. There were no winners in Spain, and the wounds are not fully healed. The multiple facets are what drives my interest.

Out of your Spanish books, who is your favorite character?

Tough question! Luna Montgomery was the first character I ever created, but she has a great supporting cast in Blood in the Valencian Soil and Vengeance in the Valencian Water. I have always enjoyed writing Paco Beltrán, patriarch of the Beltrán Morales bullfighting family. He played a good role in both books, and has a big space in the third book, Death in the Valencian Dust. As evil as he was, I enjoyed also writing José Morales. His transformation from conflicted young officer to evil Francoist was a joy to undertake. I know a lot of people found him hard to stomach, but some really liked him. Scarlett Montgomery was a great character for me, as she was based on a real life New Zealand nurse who defied her country and went to the civil war.

How much research do you do for your Spain-based books?

I lost count of the hours spent researching years ago. I never stop researching – everyday conversations with Spain lovers help me. Even tiny comments can come in handy for minor details. I can often sit down and need a basic piece of info for a chapter and spend all day reading, long forgetting the original point I needed. One day I sat down at my desk at just after 9am, needed a detail on where a bus stop was in 1957, and then my alarm rang to stop writing at 2.45. Somehow, the whole day had disappeared. I never know where I will find helpful information. Between all the books and websites I use, I can be buried in info, much like my desk is. I can’t actually see my desk under all the stuff I have piled up ahead of my next book on Valencia.

I am lucky to be part of #wabas – Writers and Bloggers about Spain. The members are kind enough to let me be part of their group and I can absorb all kinds of information from them, so thanks!

What will the next Luna Montgomery book be about?

(I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible for readers still on books one and two)

Death in the Valencian Dust is another double timeline story, split between 1975 and 2014. At the end of the second book, Cayetano Beltrán asks his uncle Jaime about the time he went to prison in Valencia in 1975. It is centred around the time when Franco dies and King Juan Carlos takes over, and the upheaval Jaime goes through thanks to some dodgy dealings in Valencia. The 2014 timeline sees Cayetano at age 45, facing retirement from bullfighting, while Luna’s life is going in a very different direction. Cayetano is struggling with Luna’s rising career and ambitions while the sun sets on all he has ever known. The Beltrán Morales family has undergone a major upheaval since we saw them in 2010 (cant tell yet!), and in the shadow of King Juan Carlos retiring, they reflect on their family and the loss of all the traditional Spanish ideals they have previously enjoyed.

Have you ever had the desire for Luna Montgomery and Darren James to become a couple?

Pro-cyclist Darren James will be in the third book very prominently, and still rubbing Cayetano Beltrán up the wrong way. The men will find common ground with the changes in their lives and careers, but they are an uneasy alliance with Luna endlessly caught in the middle. Have I had the desire to have Luna and Darren as a couple? Yeah, I have thought about it. There is a lot of logic in a pairing like them. The third book isn’t out yet…

How do you feel about reviews of the series? Do you seek out reviews?

I’m not really comfortable with asking for book reviews. I am pretty happy with the reviews I have received, and get nice little messages via twitter regularly from people who are reading. I write a niche subject so it is easy to get lost in the crush of millions of books to read. I am meticulous with my planning of the series, and that satisfies me personally.

Of all the people you have killed in the series, which was the hardest?

SPOILER ALERT – you may want to skip this bit if you are not finished the books

I have always felt bad about killing Alejandro Beltrán. To me, it was an awful way to die and I feel sorry for writing it. Cayetano Ortega was a tough character to kill as well. In fact, everyone from the first book in the 1939 timeline met a sad end.

Do you have a book planned, away from the Secrets of Spain series?

I do, my long suffering novel based in Spanish civil war slowly continues to grow in size. The book starts in Barcelona 1937 and progresses throughout much of the war, based mostly among the fighting of Madrid, Barcelona and Teruel (and surrounding areas). That will be released after Death in the Valencian Dust, with all new characters from me. The characters are fictional, based on real accounts, and set to the real timeline and outcomes of the war itself.

Do you use social media much for book promotion?

It was be impossible to work without social media, though I have placed a ban on using it on my computer, or I never get any work done. I have broken my bad social media habits. In saying that, you can always catch up with me. Twitter is my preferred medium, much more than Facebook. You can find me –

Website: here obviously carolineangusbaker.com

Facebook: Caroline Angus Baker (subscribe, since I make many public posts)

Twitter: Writer_Caroline

Pinterest: WriterCaroline

Tumblr: Duende Lover

Google+ : Caroline Angus Baker

Book Links:

US – Caroline Angus Baker

UK  – Caroline Angus Baker

New Zealand (paperback only) Caroline Angus Baker 

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Part 4 is all the questions about writing, and Part 5 is the first chapter of Luminous Colours of Dusk. Also, there will be a free promotion on Night Wants to Forget and Violent Daylight. Details will in Part 4.

Click here for Part 1 – all about Canna Medici – PART 1: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

Click here for Part 2 – all about me – PART 2: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

Happy Birthday To (Writing) Me!

Hold the candles – it’s not my actual birthday (that’s November 5, you still have time to lovingly wrap my gifts).  Today is a birthday of another kind. Backtrack four years, and I was completing my Diploma of Business, which bored me to the back teeth. As much as I enjoy the aspect of running a business, a job most likely in an office was never going to make me happy. Ever. Everyone thought me mad to want to work in a sail loft, but the practical element spoke to me.

Four years ago, I met a Spanish man here in Auckland, and naturally the subject turned to his country that I love so much. I had already learned much about Spain’s 20th century (and earlier) history, and his story inspired me. I logged the info away, along with the info of my missing great-grandfather, and the story of a New Zealand nurse I had been reading up on around the same time. Then I discovered the ultimate time-suck for any woman at home with babies – online fiction. A few reads and I thought (in a fit of self-righteousness) ‘I could do a better job than this. Writing is a piece of cake. I’ll just write a story about Spanish Civil War graves.’ And ta-da, on October 25, 2009, I started posting online fiction. Luna Montgomery was born.

Oh, it’s that easy to be a writer? Yes and no. Any hack can write. Anyone can post online. Boom – writer. Doing it well is another story. I started writing creatively twenty years ago, but with teen years filled with dreams of sailing and then fending for myself at 17 trying to make it as a sailmaker, writing never got much of a chance. Enter adulthood, marriage, children – the storylines were still going around, but no outlet until late 2009. 

While I plodded along with blog posting for several years, it wasn’t until October 2012 that the book inspired by a kiwi nurse, my missing great-grandfather, a civil war grave and the story of a random Spanish guy was published, Blood in the Valencian Soil. Until then, around 4,000 people followed my In the Hands of Love blog (the prelude to the books) and I love each and every one of you for all the support. My three-part Secrets of Spain book series Blood in the Valencian Soil, Vengeance in the Valencian Water, and Death in the Valencian Dust was made easier with your support.

In 2010 I started on a different project, to encapsulate and destroy all the things about storylines that I don’t like. Females characters so often get a bad run in books and films. They are often (but not always!) the victims, sidekicks, sex objects, weaklings, gold-diggers. There aren’t many good quality female villains, and too many stories end with everyone happy and evil defeated. So I set out to online post Canna Medici in Nights Wants to Forget, which got 100,000 reads in 10 months. Nothing angers people faster than drugs, abortion and euthanasia. I quickly adapted it and published the book in late 2011 and is still my best selling book of my published works. With the sequel Violent Daylight out a few months ago, things are looking better than ever. I wrote that book in record time, and the Canna series has no weight of expectation on me. My Secrets of Spain has a huge weight of expectation on it. No one has tried to point out anything in terms of historical accuracy yet, so I’m taking that as a sign Blood in the Valencian Soil is all it needs to be.

So, after four years of full-time dedication and three, soon to be four, books released, I finally feel like I can legitimately say I’m an author for the first time. I wrote it on my departure card at an Australian airport last week and the guy asked ‘what do you write?’ ‘I write historical fiction based on the Spanish civil war and following Spanish dictatorship.’ The guy went a bit bug-eyed for a moment. Let’s just say I have a niche going in this part of the world.

What am I doing to celebrate?

Excellent question – by giving more to you out there. I have not posted any online fiction in a year, and I miss it. Giving out work in that form gives me instant feedback from readers in the comments section/twitter. Plus, it gives me time to flex my writing muscle (as it were) when I want to write but feel a bit stuck. Rather than my In the Hands of Love style of writing (which ended up at 300 chapters!), I will write stand-alone short pieces of fiction to enjoy. There will be a theme that runs through them, but you can stop by and read any time without getting lost.

More?

Indeed there is. Each week I will be reviewing one Hemingway book of my choosing. Many people know the man but not the work and I will be digging in and giving you a review of his writing. We will start the next week with one of my personal favourites Death in the Afternoon. The fact I fell asleep while re-reading it on a train from Barcelona to Valencia was not the book’s fault, I swear. It was the porrón from the night before that did it.

I also have some other book reviews to post – Jeremy Treglown’s Franco’s Crypt, and Henry Buckley’s The Life and Death of the Spanish Republic (which took me forever to finish). I have read a lot of books on Spain, fiction and non-fiction. I assumed many people interested in the subject have also read them (think Paul Preston or Gerald Brenan’s backlist for example), but I am beginning to find I am ahead of others. If there is a book you are interested in reading, or don’t have time for and want a synopsis posted, let me know I will add it to my book review posts. My bookshelf crying under its own weight will be happy to share.

One more thing, purely out of interest, I would like to know what (if any) of my writing that you read. Multiple answers are an option. Help out your Spain obsessed blogger and leave your feedback.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my work in any form

(and thanks random Spanish guy, you know who you are)

If you haven’t already, here is an interview with me talking about coming up with Luna Montgomery on Talk Radio Europe. (I’m surprised how many people have listened to be honest!)