Val Wineyard Publishing

Val Wineyard Publishing

Publisher's Blog, May to December 2014

  "Adventures of a Publisher. . . "   

30th May 2014  Triumphs!

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I have been researching Alet-les-Bains recently and, as always, it is like being in a house where every door opens into a room with yet another door to go through.  Of course I am writing a book.  My original idea was something simple, a minimalist guide book for visitors, because there exists nothing in English about Alet-les-Bains except tourist leaflets, but it is rapidly turning into more than that!  It starts with the Celts who were there before the Romans and I discovered the secret of the oppidum (click here to read more.) Then I spent a lot of time studying the writings of Nostradamus - wow!  I even got invited by the lady who lives there to visit his house - a minor scoop that was quite wonderful.

  Kris Darquis my translator has been in Rennes-les-Bains this week and so we spent some time together.  The Success of Claudia Procula, French version, had blown us away, all the shops have sold out and I managed to get a second edition printed just in time for the season, with extra pages of researched by Kris, perfect binding and a new gloss on the cover.  We are very proud of it.  You can see more about Kris here.  Like me she loves photography - here she is snapping the snapper!

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  News from the publishing world; the e-book debate is still raging, are e-books going to take over?  Although their position is strong and affecting the industry, they are still less that 30% of total books published and most of them are novels, bedside reading on a tablet, rather than non-fiction or reference books which seem to do better as print books.   The print book is by no means dead!

  New authors want to write something that will sell well, but how does one measure that in a world where more books are being published than ever before.  Although the total number of books published is huge, figures for individual books are not.  What does it mean to write a best-seller and how often do authors write one?  If you want to be a success, how many books must you sell?  The answer may surprise you.  For a most interesting article, click here.

  If you feel that writing success is beyond you, then  click here for a short film (1min20sec) of pithy advice!

8th June  A new kid on the block!

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  Imagine living in a beautiful village in the south of France such as this and using it as a setting for a romantic novel!  This is what new writer Petra Vallance has done and we have formatted it into an e-book for her and designed a cover. 

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  But Petra, not used to this profession, is shy about promoting herself . . . you can read the first few pages free on Smashwords, so go and have a look, we're sure you'll like it.  Click here.

  Smashwords is a super company, and completely free.  They are basically distributors, that is, they "distribute" your e-book to major suppliers, all except Amazon, and then pay you a commission on copies sold.  (Readers find your book and then order on the Smashwords page for that book.)  They advise you on your book as regards technicalities, but they make no judgement on "quality" because founder Mark Coker believes the world should be open for all who wish to write e-books.  You can see him on Facebook, a great guy with incredible Internet ability.

  "Steve - this is my garden!" is the second book we have placed there, the first was my own e-book version of Claudia Procula, the sales of which are steadily increasing.  BUT SEE THIS -

24th November  Coming clean!

 I've got to confess.   I won't beat about the bush.

  I used a pen-name - Petra Vallance.  It seemed to me that Val Wineyard was so well-known as a writer of speculative history, that for a fun romantic novel it would be better under a pen-name.

  It was a challenge.  Everyone was writing e-books.  I would write an e-book too.  Just to see if I could do it.  If it flopped, no-one would know!

  Of course, I wrote about what I know.  Coming to live in France, basically!  I had my characters off to a tee in my head and I had to think what happened to them which was nothing like what happened to me personally, I may add.  I sort of moved them here and there on a French chessboard, well, I loved writing about this part of France that I know so well.  And there were three or more love-affairs in it, and one never knew for certain if people were going to break up or get together or do something in between.

  I wanted the book to have a happy ending . . .in the event many dreams came true during the book but for the main characters?  Well, I had to finish with a bit of suspense so readers might be interested in a sequel, didn't I?  I even devised a Facebook profile for Petra but she was shy so it didn't tell people very much about herself!  I was so pleased when so many Facebook friends bought the book, but I couldn't ask them what they thought because they didn't know it was me!  It seemed so silly, really.

 Of course, it's not such a deep dark secret, many readers guessed.  There's been quite a few articles in the publishing press recently, about whether to use a pen-name or not, and as everybody says its their pen-name then it's silly to be secretive.  I used to read Joanna Trollope a lot (in another life) and when she started writing historical fiction under another name, they wrote on the cover of the books that it was really her!
   Meanwhile, various links for all those of you interested in self-publishing.  There are so many self-publishing companies out there now, some offering a proper service but some trading an the insecurities of authors.  It's now out in the open - don't get ripped off!  Have a look at this.

  And for good marketing advice from an unusual angle - click here.

27th June   What is Romance all about?

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Romance as regards fiction is a "genre."  A "romance" is expected to be a woman's story with a great romantic interest.  Personally I love nothing more than a good love story before settling down to sleep, but hey! something seems to have changed!  I found this out when researching the romance "scene" while considering Petra's book.

  First, the covers - they all show a man with film-star looks possessively holding a girl in front of him who has a sultry expression with eyes covered in black make-up, and a low-cut top from which, miraculously, her breasts have not yet burst out.  The image is glossy, slick and photoshopped to within an inch of its life.  Apparently this is what sells the book which contains a fantasy that women dream of.

  It could be a fantasy about clothes!  Pages and pages are spent discussing clothes, comparing wardrobes with friends, shopping for clothes, what to wear for different occasions and what sort of underwear "he" would like.  This underwear often plays a leading role in the sexual scenes, in which the hero is always dominant and the heroine orgasms loudly, taking about three pages to do it.

  The characters are always taking showers, have you noticed?  If they feel depressed or can't sleep, they take a shower.  Sue and Steve, the characters in Petra's book, don't take a shower once, not even to make love in!  (They do it everywhere else.)

  Well, I jest!  These sort of books are a bit predictable, to say the least.  And I'm glad to say that Petra's book is nothing like this at all.  One friend said we should call it a family story, another said we should call it a comedy because it was "really very funny."  The characters are real people who are not in the least materialistic and their whole lives change when Sue buys a garden in the south of France.  These are the reasons I published it.   Click here to see more.

  Some links. 

  For all who hate mainstream publishers, this is amusing - we've all been there! Click here.  

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  The mouse has roared at the lion of giant publishing companies, trying to control the commercial side, which are "fighting for the future of publishing," says Mark Coker.  There will be problems if Amazon gets their way.  See the interview here.  Mark Coker is the man who invented Smashwords single-handedly and now serves the interests of over 100,000 e-book authors, distributing and selling their titles, taking only a tiny commission on sales.  Our Claudia Procula is with him, and the novel by Petra Vallance.   

17th June

It's at the printers!  And will ready before the weekend so click here and send in your orders! 

  Yes, it's the book about Alet-les-Bains; read more here.

  Maybe I am going to have an easy summer now, and go the Two Rennes and Alet and Couiza just for the sheer pleasure of it . . . and the rosé of course.  We'll see.  Oh, have you noticed that this site now has a translation button with French people in mind?  My name is translated as Val Vignoble, Kris says it should be Vignoble rosé. . . . she will be translating more books in the future.

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30th June  Out and About

  Alet les Bains Mysteries came out and I went about taking it to the shops!  It's a nice colourful little book, here's a couple of pix from it;

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   After Alet and Couiza we went to Rennes-le-Château for lunch.  I was with friends from my home village who had heard about Rennes-le-Château and then were intrigued.  They have been so busy renovating their house and then letting it for summer.  ( Click here to see it.)  It was great to see my latest book on the shelves with the others.

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  Then lunch called of course, in Le Jardin de Marie, we drank a toast, ate prawns with fresh ginger sauce, and Jaap from Les Labadous dropped by.

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16th July  Chained to my desk

Well, I can't go gadding when the trains are on strike!  Here's David Warr and his lovely wife Sheila on holiday on their boat in Greece - all right for some!  Luckily he has his iPad with him so can still forward orders that go through him from the English bookshops.

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 But I will be relaxing in August, when Kris Darquis comes to Rennes-le-Château country for a whole month, so it was time to get on with future plans while I have time.  It was my pleasure to join in the summer discount scheme for the month of July with Smashwords.

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  This is a promotion to stimulate interest in the books.  Readers need to be motivated and quote a magic discount code.  And it has worked, especially for "Steve- this is my garden!"  Petra Vallance is thrilled so many people are reading her book.  The magic code is XP94B - while for Claudia it is ZX73D.  You can also click these titles on our list on the right for further details.  Update - offer finished 31st July 2014.

  The imminent future plan is the great book fair at Rennes-le-Château on Saturday 16th August. I receive lots of newsletters about self-publishing and one of them said;  "If you want to promote your books, don't give people a business card - give them a book!"  Yes, but which one, I thought.  So I have devised a catalogue, because as well as our favorite titles there are plans for future titles in the pipeline; some of them in French.

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It will go to press tomorrow, just in time for the 16th.  It's the size of a business card, I can give it to people and if they are French they can turn it over to read about the books in French.  Neat eh?

  For those who have one particular book, or their first book to promote, their first chapter can be presented like this, looking like a miniature book, and can then be given to anyone interested.

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  Val Wineyard Publishing is growing, I can report, and our team now includes a proof-reader!

  Beth Johnson wrote to me, tactfully pointing out; “I do proofreading and sub-editing and I have noticed some errors in your blog. I wondered if you would like me to let you know, or whether you would just like me to go away and not interfere! I'm very picky with language once I get going.”
    Someone "picky about language" is exactly what we need!  I asked Beth if she would like to join our team, both for my own books (news of my next one to come soon) and for any manuscripts from writers who need editorial help.
     You can read more about Beth by clicking here.  Welcome aboard Beth.

23rd July 2014  Future Plans

  My head is reeling!  This is because I have been discussing with Kris which books she thinks will do well if translated into French for summer 2015.  And the first I have not written in English yet!

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 I have a hundred pages of notes that now need to be organised into a coherent guide book of places to go in the incredible and special region of Rennes-le-Château to experience thousands of years of magic and mystery.  And I have a long list of places to visit and research, such as the unknown chapel in Carcassonne at the foot of the Celtic oppidum, and the river Fresquel nearby, where a whole group of schoolgirls received messages from a "white lady" who predicted for them the horrors of the First World War.

  One of the reasons that I came to Languedoc in the first place is that is was all so - mysterious.

  "Legends are legends but all hide a hidden truth and we will dig deep and we will find it."  This is the sentence that will sum up the book.  And, if the little I know about astrology and spirituality is correct, this book must be published in the spring of 2015.

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    Don't worry, I say to myself, you've got all winter to do it.  Except - I've been meaning to do Barbarian Gold for some two years now. "Oh," said Kris, "But the French are also very interested in the Visigoths.  You must do it in French!"
  Gulp! 

  Well, I designed a cover and Kris and Jean-Luc thought it was "manifique."  That's a start.  And once you start the only thing to do is to finish!

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  But don't worry - joking apart, we are very serious about these two titles and we are sure they will be a credit to us next Spring.

  Meanwhile, we will be at Rennes-le-Château on 16th August, selling books and signing books yes, but also talking to people about our books, including the newspapers.  Hope to see you there.

18th July   Just for fun.  For all who love language and especially for British writers thinking of writing a book for the American market - or vice versa -  click here. 

2nd August  Self or not-self?

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  Self-publishing is changing at an amazing rate and my cynical mind has several observations to make.  Some 31% of books are now self-published, we are told, but the majority of this percentage is fiction e-books.  Many of these novels remind me of the old polaroid photos.  Once people had control of their photos and the nosy girl in the chemist's never got to see them, the more outrageous the pictures became.

  It seems there are more people writing about self-publishing than doing it, and thousands of sites offer advice for self-publishers.  These sites carry adverts from self-publishing companies because it is assumed that "self-publishing" means using a self-publishing company to do your book.  These  companies offer all services for authors, at various rates, except promotion and publicity.  Would-be writers are told that the books get international distribution and are sold worldwide.

  By this they mean the book appears on their web-site!  If you check, their web-site accords a lot of space to selling their self-publishing services and very little to promoting the books.  Any decisive would-be reader would need to know their site and know the name of the book before finding details of it.  This means that the writer has to promote and advertise the book at the writer's own expense and once the book is sold by the publishing company, he or she receives only a percentage.  Work it out.  You pay the company to publish the book, you promote it and as the sales increase, the company makes yet more!  If you yourself buy copies (at a reduced price) they get even richer.  Some, like Amazon, claim exclusivity.  You can publish with no one else except them.

  This image of self-publishing is now so well known that people ask me who publishes my books.  Others have been reading all the advice (which ultimately sells their services) of these companies and say grandly;  "Your book will fail without a professional cover designer."  (None of my books have failed yet and three of them have been re-printed more than once.)  I asked one know-it-all who had never published a book whether the cost of paying a professional designer would be re-couped by the increase in sales.  One cannot apparently, work it out like that.

  I would add I do not like many of these designed covers, they are very slick but don't, to my mind, reflect what the book is about.  "But that doesn't matter," I'm told, "It would sell, wouldn't it?"  Yes, but a disappointed reader means a reader lost for the next book.

  All this is one of the reasons I call myself a publisher.  Many writers, both today and historically, have "self-published," while others have started companies to publish their books.  Within a company one can "farm out" such tricky jobs as designing cover and the copyright of both cover and book rest with you.

   Val Wineyard Publishing is mostly print books, although we are starting the process of doing all the titles eventually as e-books, but if you fancy being a "self-publisher" doing print books, click here.

 The French connection

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  I am receiving such positive responses to our books being published in French.  Now have a special place - see the list of articles on the right - for books in French.  Yes, I know that two of them are only in preparation for next year but all the "How to be a successful self-publisher" newsletters advise telling readers about your book at least a year in advance!

14th August  The News I have been waiting for!

 Have a look at this!  Click here! It's a site by Ron Knight who specialises in marketing advice for authors.  Sign up for the newsletter, it's the sort of down-to-earth advice we all need.  "We leave the fiction to the writing of stories," Ron says.

  You'll see detailed information and statistics explaining how "self-publishing" and the e-book phenomenon are now levelling out.  The numbers of e-books published is dropping, not rising.  The percentage of readers preferring e-books is much lower than that of readers preferring print books.

  I do love to be proved right, but never had the figures before.  They confirm that if you are publishing yourself you need a print book more than you need an e-book.  E-books are not, at the moment, "testing the market" as much as we thought.  Thanks for this news, Ron.

17th August  Working hard

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  I go to the book-fair at Rennes-le-Château, held on the 3rd Saturday of every August, to sell my books and talk to people who come on holiday at that time.  Kris Darquis and I were particularly excited about this day because she was doing a book-signing for her French version of Claudia Procula.  A lady came from the local paper to interview her and took some photos of me too.  (I wished I'd had time to comb my hair!)

  The day began at four in the morning packing boxes, then Annie Jal my potter friend arrived and we left at seven.  Annie is French and lives in Narbonne.

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  Annie had never been to Rennes-le-Château before and was fascinated by all the red in the landscape, apparently it is really good clay and she is going to come back to dig some up.  She met two of her friends there that she didn't know were coming and shared her picnic lunch and bread with a customer.  She kept everyone entertained with demonstrations of her work and tunes of the little birds that she makes herself.  Oh, and the preserves were made from the organic produce of her own garden.  I was so pleased and we will go together again next year - the Narbo contingent!

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  I met many old friends.  Georges' book on the Templiers is doing so well, he has got it in all the bookshops, including those in the big stores (must ask how it's done) and in front of the buvette were Astrid Ancelle and Nico from the Atelier Empreinte bookshop.  Germain Delmas said he thought I had forgotten him!  I met him two years ago at the sale then.  Astrid is an artist and you can see her pictures of our region exhibited in the Hostellerie of Rennes-les-Bains.  I like them a lot, they are strong and passionate; this is the chateau that gave Rennes its name.

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  ( Click here for Astrid's site.)

  Kris and I escaped for a quick pizza for lunch in the "Reine du Château" and came back to find the fair quite busy. I spoke to many English people about the mysteries.  One young man was training to be a psychic and a couple from Nottingham wanted to find out exactly that Berenger Saunière's treasure was.  I met a man who delighted telling me in detail that Mary Magdalene lives in caves in Provence while I have written several books explaining how we know she came to Languedoc! 

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   I sold more books than I expected, one man spent 60€.  The favourites were Mary Magdalene's Yearbook and paradoxically, The Visigothic Inheritance.  There is no doubt interest in the Visigoths is increasing in our region.  And of course, every person I met of any nationality had a copy of my catalogue to take away and/or give their friends.  (If you want one, let me know.) 

  Kris at her table just smiled.  A cheque!

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  Annie and I left at six, when the evening light was shining on Bugarach in the distance, and got back to the Narbonnais at eight, where friends had refreshments ready!  It was a long day, but a good one.  I do so enjoy being a publisher.

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  The next day an article in the local paper appeared.

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  Claudia Procula and Val Wineyard Publishing are both mentioned.  There's another article to come, says Kris.

 29th August

  Here's more about the popularity of printed books and why printed books are keeping their lead.  I enjoy Ron Knight's posts, he is so funny and sometimes dry.  "You can't read your tablet in the bath," he said.   He also looks at the popularity of early paperback novels and points out what you can learn from those 1960 successes that sold in their thousands.   Click here. 

  It was Ron who first gave me the idea of handing people a small book instead of a business card when networking.  At the back of the book, of course, are adverts for all the other books you've done, your blog and your Facebook page.  I made my book a catalogue and left out the fiction!!!!!

30th August 2014

  Been out with friends researching. 

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  This is the village of Albières which lies beside the D613 between Couiza and Mouthoumet.  I've long wanted to visit because of the story of the Visigoths building a monastery there, dedicated to St. Martin (a favourite Visigothic saint.)  It's said the monks were obliged to work in the gold-mines at nearby Auriac, but the gold at Auriac was not in underground deposits but in the river Orbieu - alluvial gold.  Both the Orbieu and the village of Auriac take their names from the Roman word for gold - aurum.

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  The church was open and yes, it was still dedicated to St. Martin.  The current building is sixteenth century.  The chair looked like a prie-dieu the monks might have used.

 I am on the trail for "Barbarian Gold" so am not prepared to reveal to treasure-hunters all I found out at the moment, especially as there is a mysterious lake nearby where visitors are forbidden!  But if you are passing, the village is well worth visiting for it's own sake.  (The book will be out in April/May 2015 - in English AND later in French.)  And just to add interest; at Albières is the source of the river Orbieu which runs all thought the Corbières to join the Aude a short distance from where I live.  A local resident has panned and found grains of gold in it.

  Also planned is the "White Ladies" book in the two languages.

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To research this, I went with friends to the little known town of Alzonne, where some school children saw a fantastic white lady in a poplar tree by the river, and the Lady forecast the First World War, and the children saw that too.  Then, we found an unknown chapel in Carcassonne, right by the old Roman road, where Saint Louis and the Black Prince came riding, but long before that the place was known as a healing centre.

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  It may seem odd to write so much about churches, but since Merovingian times France was governed by the Roman church as a political force.  They didn't have the separation of Church and State that we have today.   Many church buildings were fortified, or they were schools or hospitals.  If you want to find the history of Languedoc, you will find it in the churches.

2nd September

  Just received these ten tips.  I am going to be nicer to my readers in future.  Tell me what you want to read!  What books on what subjects?  And of course, the last tip is most important.  Click here.  

14th September 

Have you been inundated with visitors this summer?  I don't mind, but people pop in when I'm in full spate writing.  I have to switch out of the mental world I'm absorbed in to put the kettle on or get the wine out.  I decided that "a change was a good as a rest" so last Saturday started a new blog to amuse myself, about the Corbières in Languedoc where I live.

img-1560.jpg  One of my favourite Corbières pictures

  I have only just begun I would add, I have much more material to add! 

  However, I was more than amusing myself. I had been reading a brilliant article asking; Why not turn your blog into a book?  What a good idea!  Except that I didn't have a suitable blog - but I have now.  I've always wanted to write a guide about the villages of the Corbières.  (Click  here to see it.)

  Conventionally, blogs began so people could record their daily thoughts, news and actions for their friends, with each post being the top of the list, so to speak.  It can be quite interesting later, to make a document with the last post first so that the story of your life unfolds before you; which would make an interesting autobiography. 

  But take a tip; don't try to tell everything about yourself at once.  Make your autobiography on a specific theme.  Rather than;  "My life from Birth to Death by Brigadier Higgins" make it "My life as a Snake-charmer" - something attention grabbing - or "Diary of a Blogging Addict" or "Dieting taught me how to Lie." 

  Meanwhile . . .

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  Here's one of my publicity pix for my Sacred Journey book.  I must be doing something right for they all sold and the printer is rushing fresh copies through for next Monday!  This is the second re-printing, so I think we can truthfully say - here is our bestseller.

24th September

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Do you ever feel you are meeting yourself coming back and are jumping from role to role?   That's my problem at the moment.  Researching and writing are my first loves, and I enjoy blogging, because it's writing and communicating in a different way, but sometimes I imagine myself in an editorial meeting. The Production Manager gives his progress reports on the books, the Publicity Manager suggests a World Tour, the Acquisitions Office has three new titles to suggest, while the Secretary is late sending out the bills!

  And they are all me!

  Any comments on this situation (not to mention offers of help) will be gratefully received.  Did you know you can email me on ValW@valwineyardpublishing.com ?

25th September  Small Books

  On this link -  click here - there's a breakdown of the costs for self-publishing.  Think on!  But there's something else going on.  Gone are the days when people "settled down to a good read."  People want small books, short books, easy-to-read books.  Many are used to getting information at the touch of a keyboard button; they want to flick through a book and find what they want quickly and easily, and they want lots of pictures.  I put all this into effect with my Alet-les-Bains book and it is most popular, we're even receiving orders for it from Amazon.  Fiction?  Many people now say they are writing "stories."  Think on!

28th September  Meeting the readers

  Because I live an hour's drive from Rennes-le-Château, I am always thrilled when readers want to meet me so much they come all the way to my home, that is really something.

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   Sheila Goodwin and Stephen Gomes had previously bought two copies of "Looking for Mary M" so that they could have one each and Stephen's copy was completely covered with his own notes.  He told me he'd been fascinated by Mary Magdalene since he was a boy and at last a book had answered some of his questions . . .  they were strangers to me but within seconds we couldn't stop talking and only got to the restaurant just two seconds before 2pm - close shave!

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 They didn't have long to explore the region and so really needed a guide.  I recommended Ani Williams, and by a miracle she was free, so Sheila and Stephen were able to see corners of Rennes-les-Bains not known to everybody . . .   they were delightful people, you can see in their faces their radiance and joie de vivre.  I think we'll be seeing much more of them here in "Mary Magdalene country" in the future.

  The pictures show myself and Sheila at the local restaurant; Stephen at the Benitier; Sheila at Saunière's Domain; and Stephen and Ani at the pizzaria in Rennes-les-Bains. 

  A few days later Sheila wrote and said;  "The information you shared personally and in your books continue to take life where ever we go."  Aw shucks!  Roll on next year.

19th October, an Important meeting!

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   Last week my English distributor came to stay.  David has his boat in Greece and was thinking of finding a mooring on the Med near Narbonne.  A research trip!  No problem, I am happy to "jump aboard" his hire car and do research of my own at the same time.  We went first to Cabanes Les Fleury which is at the mouth of the River Aude.  (I am currently researching rivers for the book about White Ladies, for Celtic Goddesses often associated themselves with rivers.   But on that day the river was in a VERY masculine mood!  See the film here.)  Annie Jal, my sculptress friend who came to the book sale at Rennes-le-Château came with us; she loves all places wild and free.  She went right to the end of the "mole" but I was scared of getting blown over by the wind.  We went to eat at Salles d'Aude - the tourist places were all closed - and the people were having a family party but invited us in and gave us champagne!

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  The next day David and I investigated the "Etang de Bages et Sigean" to see the moorings at La Nautique and Peyriac sur Mer - lovely.

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  Last day and my treat - off to Couiza and Rennes-les-Bains.  We wandered down to the junction of the Sals with the Aude - I found some bits of Roman pottery there - and then had lunch in the Café de France.  This is a café rather than a restaurant, with a café atmosphere, and I was delighted to find myself chatting with the owner of  La Bernède - the camping at Rennes-les-Bains.  I should have taken a photo - those eyelashes! - and he came from Sicily, and knew Kris Darquis well and our book about Claudia Procula.  So here's the view from the café window and a photo of the village.  I was quite intrigued to find a street named after Ste Marie just near the church to John the Baptist.

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  Across the road is the bar St. Anne where most of the English-speakers in the area meet up.

  On David's last day we got talking.  His research had proved that actually, keeping the boat in Greece was cheaper than keeping it near Narbonne!  (His boat's keel is too deep to moor on the Canal du Midi.)  So he wouldn't often be in France and was thinking of selling his land south of Quillan.  I knew how lovely it was - and so I said I would publicise it.  Here’s the details . . .

29th October - Another Important Meeting!

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We have have come a long way since last November, when Kris and I first started talking about doing books together.   Claudia Procula in French was an amazing success and so we now have two books scheduled for next year in both languages - Barbarian Gold or Le Trésor Sacré des Visigoths, and the White Lady book.  Our meeting at Rennes-les-Bains was specifically to discuss the Visigothic book, for the interest among French people is immense.

  And so is the book, well over 200 pages.  That is a lot of work for our translator, but Kris is confident it will be done.  (The light on her face is reflected up from all the draft lay-out pages that I had brought to show her.)  We have both found new stories and theories about where the treasure is hidden and who is looking for it - fascinating!  Then she was dragged away to sign a copy of Claudia Procula . . .

  She had been busy all morning at Rennes-le-Château because a well-known French company were making a film there, a thriller, using Rennes-le-Château and the mystery of the Templars, as a background theme.  She gave me a photo; can you tell which one is the mayor of RleC and which one is the actor?  Or maybe they are both both!

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    Talking about success, how about author Cindy le Sauvage Guilbert then?  She came to see us about a year ago and we loved her book about Natural Magic and so I acted as a consultant to guide her through the publishing process, the sheer mechanics of finding and dealing with a printer, and so on.

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  The photo was taken on a mellow autumn day at her home when the book was delivered - so lovely!  Click here to read more. 

  But what about YOU?  At the moment we are looking for "small books" like Claudia Procula and Alet les Bains, to which the words "spotlight" or "focus" might apply.  Ideas that have recently come to us include a book about Dagobert II, the Merovingian king associated with Rennes-le-Château and the Merovingian Bloodline mysteries.

  We are always interested to discuss your book ideas, advise, and possibly to publish.  Contact details can be found here.

Lastly, something for all readers, writers and those who love books.  Books have a long history and are not under threat; read a most interesting article here.

1st November - a big day for Kris

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Here's  the Press Clipping - it tells us that the WebRadio company, Bob Vous Dit Toute la Verité (Bob tells you all the truth) would be in Rennes-le-Château for the entire day on the 1st November (which is a public holiday in France.)  You will see Kris's name;  I believe it was his meeting with Kris that inspired him to come for his 24-hour stint at Rennes-le-Château.  The Salle des Fêtes was converted to a studio and conference hall . . . 

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  Here you can see M. Painco, the Mayor of RleC on the left, then Bob himself, and then Philippe Marlin, who is the secret genius between the Atelier Empreinte bookshops in Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains.

  They were all day interviewing and recording all over the village and in the church.

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The day finished with a party at "Chez Morgan" otherwise known as the Jardin de Marie.  We understand that a good time was had by all.

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 I was so jealous not to be there (I had no transport that day) but Kris's friends have always taken me to their hearts - the Bear, Morgan, Jean-Luc, and Philippe with Kris.  The next day she took them all for a tour of Rennes-les-Bains that she loves so well.

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Kris loves Rennes-les-Bains (which features a great deal in the Claudia Procula book of course) and knows all its secrets - including the most serious one, how to get hold of the key of the church! with its memories of Delmas and Boudet.

  Thanks Kris, for all you do, for me, for everyone and especially for the two Rennes.

  Meanwhile,  click here for a film about Bob at Rennes-le-Château.

 24th November  Publicity with Pinterest

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I put some "pins" about our Claudia Procula book on Pinterest, just for fun, then wondered where all the Amazon orders, both for the English version and the French version, were coming from!   Click here to see my Claudia "board."  I put purchase details in the captions . . . Now I'd better do boards for all the other books, get them all some publicity!

  It arrived on the 24th!  My printer wanted to get it done so he could take a well-earned break.  Isn't that great?

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20th December 2014  Another book

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It started as just a simple idea and grew and grew!  Now I have finished proof correcting and Usson, Pyrenean Castle (click on the link) will be out on schedule before 10th January 2015!  The story began when my friend and colleague David came for a visit and I offered to advertise his land at Usson.  I started to do some in-depth research to put together and advertisement, that you can see by clicking here, but as often happens, "one train can hide another" and every door led into a room where there was another door!

  The fair Esclarmonde, the legendary lady of Montségur, was the bride of Bernard d'Alion and I wanted to discover her historical life, as the chatelaine of the castle that David had owned . . . as as I discovered things never before known I kept my idea quite secret, to protect an original book with original ideas.  I became totally absorbed, "living in another world" a friend said.  Facebook and blogs were sadly neglected!  And now I can hardly wait until Christmas is over and the books arrive; that's always a very special moment.  The book is close to my heart (with much written between the lines) and I so much want it to be a success.

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  And how does one measure success?  That is a burning question!  The Mayor That Was Me was also very personal.  The sales were comparatively low but it has received more reviews than any of my other books!  I was even told that a film ought to be made of it.  See "The Mayor book" here.

  Lastly, as Val Wineyard Publishing is for those who write as well as those who read (!)  click here for an amazing and in depth article by Smashwords (that I use) about e-books and their future.

27th December 2014  Moving the Office

Where to?  Carcassonne!

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Val Wineyard Publishing is on the move.  This is because the proprietor has got tired with the tedious journey to Rennes-le-Château country!

  I love the 1€ buses but when friends are too busy to come, it's fun in summer, but not every day.   I love my current village near Narbonne but it can be tedious sometimes, just to get printer cartridges, for example, means a trip to Narbonne and then waiting two hours for the bus back.  I needed to be somewhere more active to help my business to grow.

  Last year I had the idea of a second home at Couiza but didn't want to live there all the year round, so WHERE should I go?  I like Narbonne but it's even further away from Rennes-le-Château, as well as quite expensive, and because so many of my book readers like to meet up I need to be accessible.

  I woke up one morning remembering all the friends who have been here house-hunting and asking;  "Where's the best place to live?"  I always told them Carcassonne - good train services, the airport nearby, lots of facilities and also the beautiful historic Cité.

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 The railway station inside and the shuttle bus to the airport outside.

  I have found a suitable property!  Negotiations are under way and will hopefully gather speed once the New Year starts in earnest.  It consists of two small houses with quite a large courtyard in between, with roses and vines.  The houses need renovating, but I will be able to receive people in the courtyard whatever the state of play, it's quite private, and when the houses are finished there will be one for me and one for visitors to stay in AND a small bookshop in the courtyard!  I'm in ecstasies!  The property is situated in the "Bastide of St. Louis", the medieval lower town with many original features and the ramparts still there.  All my friends on Facebook like it.

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It looks a mess now, been neglected for some ten years, but the potential is there.  It is amazing what soap and water and elbow grease will do!

  To make my business grow?  Yes!  From the 1st January 2015 I will be officially registered as a business here in France and thus able to sell my books far and wide.

 And if my financial machinations work out I will be "installed" as the French say, in Carcassonne by next April.

 I am REALLY looking forward to 2015!



27/11/2013
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