Venice, Publishing, and My Paper Lion

May 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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IMG_6830Who doesn’t love Venice?  Oh, I know, if you visit in the hot summer when the crowds are clogging the Piazza San Marco–and even buying a scoop of gelato can set you back ten bucks–you might not fall in love with the city as passionately as my husband and I have.IMG_7286    And yes, having espressos at Café Florian where Hemingway reportedly consulted his writer’s muse when staying there set us back $40 (and that was in October, no less!), but hey! I’m a published writer and I absolutely, positively had to sit in those chairs and look out at the same stunning vista he did.

IMG_7300We were blessed with cool weather and went to all the tourist attractions as early as they opened and thus had a perfectly delicious time during our week in Venice last year, even as the Agua Alta was rising.imgres

The city swiftly and expertly put up the boardwalks, and besides, I was reading a gripping Donna Leon mystery novel, Aqua Alta, in my Pensione Accademia each evening before the gently sloshing water in the canal outside my window lulled me to sleep.  Long term, the city is in peril, but on this particular visit, it was an experience I’ll remember always…




It was also the perfect way to commemorate 35 years of marriage and a very BIG birthday for both my husband me last year.  “A celebration of lions” I called it, adoring all the images of these regal creatures we saw everywhere throughout this water-laced city.  We learned that if the lion had his paw on an open book, the Renaissance City State of Venice was at peace; if the lion’s  paw was on a closed book, Venice was at war.

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Our writer pal, Michael Llewellyn had been this route before us and eventually sent us wonderful images of lions that he’d captured with his “real” camera, in contrast to my iPhone 4.

Image 1When we got home from our Grand Tour last fall and decided to launch our own, independent publishing enterprise, the idea of using the concept of the Venetian lion as our colophon (i.e. “logo”) to signify our company instantly appealed to everyone involved.

So we sent a couple of photographic images to our designer and look what Kim Killion came up with…our magnificent Lion’s Paw Press “King of the Beasts” has his foot on three books, not one. And author Llewellyn gave us the best compliment of all. “I wish I’d thought of doing that!”Image 5

The icing on the cake is that Book 3 in my “Four Seasons Series” ( Book 1: That Summer in Cornwall, published in Feb of this year; Book 2:  That Autumn in Edinburgh, due out next Fall) will be That Winter in Venice, set during the celebrated Carnivale season of exotic costumes and mist rising from the canals…

Venice - Carnevale di Venezia - Venice Carnival 2011It’s tough duty, but it seems we’ll just have to head back to La Serenissima in February of 2014 to witness Carnivale for ourselves. Research, you know…

That’s What Friends Are For…

February 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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collageFeb6-300x200A quite remarkable phenomenon is percolating among the community of multi-published novelists.  It’s more than a “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”  book promotional network, but rather a curated, semi-underground system of authors who know, trust, and admire each other’s work and are willing to give a shout-out on their own book blogs and on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to a sister novelist who has a new book being launched by the author-as-publisher.url-3

This is especially true these days due to the fact that some very respected non-novelist book bloggers have thrown in the towel trying to keep up the the avalanche of new titles and have shut down their blogs that formerly trumpeted the wares of both experienced and novice novelists to the reading public.



A few bygone book bloggers cited the online abuse they encountered from some publishers and/or authors if they didn’t describe a new novel in the noblest of terms and award it with a “5 Star Review.” Cried one plaintively on her final posting: “For some, 4.5 stars was an insult. I just want to get back to what got me into blogging in the first place:  reading and writing about the books I love!”

Frankly, who could blame them?

Ciji at work in Portofino Office 4-07Meanwhile, an increasing number of established writers with many traditionally published books under their belts are now venturing into the world of “Independent Publishing,” declaring that they feel they deserve more than 7-15% of the profits when others involved in bringing their books to the public are taking a whopping 40-70% of the “take” on a book that has been created by the person who actually wrote it. For unnumbered scribes, it simply has become a case of “Do the math!’

And then there is something so satisfying to click the “upload” button and see the colorful cover of a novel like That Summer in Cornwall appear on the major online retail sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple/iBooks (by February 22).  In March, the print version is scheduled to debut via the usual online retailers and, hopefully, in a bookstore near you….

Frankly, it’s nothing short of shouting from the rooftops: “Look, Ma…I’m a Publisher!”

But, writing the book is only Step 1 and preparing it for release–merely Step 2. Step 3 is that no-man/woman’s/land of promoting and marketing an independently produced novel to the readers who might like it among virtually millions of other titles floating out there in cyberspace.

Back CameraSuddenly the author living the solitary life locked in a room with only a computer for company is thrust into the world of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads, and all the other “engines” designed to get the word out to an audience that one hopes actually wants the new novel on their bookshelves or electronic reading devices.

Which brings me to the title of this blog:  the extraordinarily generous novelists in my circle of friends and professional acquaintances who have been kind enough to invite me to “guest post” about That Summer in Cornwall on their blogs and other online outlets.  I offer up my deepest thanks to pals like Cynthia Wright, Julie Kenner, Michael Llewellyn, and Lauren Royal who have been big boosters of my first foray into independent publishing.  As blogs where I’ve been a contributor move on to newer topics, they’ve allowed me to re-post my “guest appearances” on Ciji’s Blog—which I will be doing in the next little while.Kenner Sequel Blog Post

Hey, what are friends for?

And I am more than happy to do the same, especially for these open-hearted, talent authors.  In this Brave New World, we have to forge new paths and alliances based on honesty and appreciation–and how better than to walk those paths than with people you like and trust?