Please vote!

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book The Eight of Swords, please vote for it in the ‘Cover of the Month’ contest on AllAuthor.com by clicking on the link below. There’s not long to go before the first round is over, just a day left to vote!

All Author cover of the month.

Read below what reviewers had to say about this suspenseful short story.

If you haven’t read The Eight of Swords yet, it could be the perfect read for you . It’s a short story with plenty of drama and intrigue.

Here is what some of the reviewers on Amazon have said…

Really enjoyed The Eight of Swords, the storyline was original and kept you guessing! Rich descriptions throughout and really quite evocative … It divides opinion too, perhaps like me you will side with the story teller and then as the story unfolds your heart leaps in-between!

I downloaded this to my phone- which was a bonus as I couldn’t put it down; it was engaging and made me think of what I would of done, how I would have dealt with the same situation- it was intriguing to follow

Just finished reading this short story – it kept my attention from beginning to end (no mean feat!) and I enjoyed reading about Jayne’s reactions and feelings about the family who had moved into her home. Looking forward to reading the sequel.

The Eight of Swords and its sequel The Putsi are available via Amazon Kindle.

Please follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for regular updates. Connect and say hello, I’d love to hear what you are reading!

Yikes! Did Somebody Say Sex?

In case you didn’t already know, I launched a new book on St Valentine’s Day. It has ‘sex’ in the title. When I named the book, I didn’t really think about the repercussions this might have. I titled the book The Isolation Sex Stories because all of the short stories mention sex in some form or other. It is not a sex instruction manual, nor is it particularly graphic. It’s nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey! It’s a bit saucy, humorous, somewhat dark at times but mainly it is meant to amuse.

Yesterday, as part of my marketing plan, I tried to create an Amazon ad. Up came the message ‘At this time, books that contain mature or erotic content are not eligible for advertising.’ Great. So I took to Facebook where pretty much the same message came across. So here I am with a new book I can’t advertise on two of the most powerful platforms.

Facebook goes on to explain that according to their research people get offended by such titles. I’m not sure my title is that offensive? OK the stories might be a bit too risque for some people but if you read the book blurb, you can pretty much guess that if you are easily offended, this might not be the book for you.

Two of my favourite TV shows Fleabag and Killing Eve are far more extreme (I think) than my new book and yet they are both award winning shows. Granted my book isn’t a TV show (yet) but I think that if people have enjoyed these shows (millions have apparently) then they are unlikely to be offended by my stories.

This kind of setback doesn’t stop me, it spurs me on. I have created different kinds of ads to help people find my books. Where there is a will, there is a way!

I’m not easily offended myself. I have only written to the BBC once to complain and that was about Ricky Gervais’s Extras. As I remember it, it was a reference to rape. Maybe I misunderstood but I didn’t like it and never watched the rest of the show.

When I wrote The Isolation Sex Stories, my primary desire was to entertain but also to make people think about the emotions we have all been going through during lockdown. One of the themes is loneliness. Weather Girl is a story that particularly highlights this, as does Puppy Love to some extent. The human condition is a never ending source of fascination to me. We all have our weaknesses, our desires, our faults and all of this has been exacerbated during lockdown. What people get up to behind closed door is up to them but given we are in a pandemic, the human condition is highlighted more than ever.

The Isolation Sex Stories sits above Sex And The City when you search for it on Amazon. Another of my favourite shows. It does explain why, when you search Amazon, you don’t find Sex in many titles. Other authors must have wised up to the issues of using it. Then again, look how popular SATC has been.

After all the hard work that goes into a book, finding you can’t advertise it in the most obvious ways is a bit of a blow but hey, it won’t stop Petra Kidd!

Read The Isolation Sex Stories The Eight of Swords and The Putsi by Petra Kidd.

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A St Valentine’s Day treat…

In a few days I will be sharing my new short story book with you. I spent most of the summer writing stories. My imagination ran riot… It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have peace and quiet!

Some of you will have already read The Eight of Swords and The Putsi so you will know something of my writing style. This new book is very different but I hope you will find it amusing and a little light relief in these troubled times.

I won’t say too much about it here because I want the launch on St Valentine’s Day to be a surprise. I can’t wait for you to see the cover and hear me read the first story in the book, live on Facebook. I’m not used to presenting in public but I think it will be fun and I hope you will join me. More details of the launch are at the end of this post.

This is a book of firsts for me: It’s the first time I’ve created a cover illustration. It’s the first time I’ve created videos to spread the word. It’s the first time I will go ‘live’ on Facebook. It’s the first time there is a paperback version available as well as an ebook and within the next month I will narrate an audiobook, all of which will be available via smile.Amazon.co.uk. Please use the smile link as it gives you the opportunity to donate to charity when you make a purchase.

My chosen organisation for the new book is The Samaritans, so I hope you will support them. There will also be a PDF version of the first story available when you subscribe to my blog and donate to a GoFundMe page for sufferers of Long COVID.

The professional advice is that you should never design your own cover for your book. I’ve always been interested in graphics and design and I had a strong idea in my mind what the cover should be so I decided to go with my instinct this time. I will be interested to see what you think…

I’ve had tremendous support in the making of this book. Family and friends have been incredibly encouraging. My mother was shocked by some of the more adult references but it didn’t stop her reading it avidly cover to cover! Mum is my harshest critic and although she pulled the odd face and had a little moan about some of the language, it also made her laugh. She could hardly be offended when she has watched Fleabag and Killing Eve throughout and roared with laughter at some of the most outrageous moments.

All I can do now, is sit back and hope you like it. If you do, please tell your friends, write reviews and keep in touch.

Join me live on Facebook PetraKiddWrites at 9pm on Sunday 14th February. Grab a glass of wine or a drink of your choice, sit back and enjoy!

True Confession

As a young teen I, along with my best friend, for some reason best known to ourselves, used to like to borrow Jilly Cooper books from the library across the road from our school.

Well, that’s what libraries are for aren’t they?

The thing is we didn’t do it the conventional way. We thought it much more fun to sneak in, nick a book without getting it stamped, read it and return it. I can’t honestly remember whose idea it was to do this but no doubt it was mine. We never ever kept a book, they were always returned in perfect condition, so it’s not exactly a crime is it? It felt naughty enough and gave a frisson of excitement getting past the reception desk and out again with no one spotting us. Far from on a par with robbing a bank but enough to make us feel a bit on the wild side. You can tell it was a long time ago…

I remembered this today when in the midst of clearing my old house I came across my riding hat. The riding hat reminded me of Jilly Cooper’s book Riders. We started with reading her books titled with women’s names, I can remember Imogen and that’s the only one that springs to mind but progressing to Riders some years later was quite an eye opener, the others were tame by comparison. Imogen funnily enough, happened to be a librarian, maybe that’s why it’s the only one I recall.

We took it turns to read the books out loud to each other in the common room, trying to guess what the characters would get up to next. They were a whole world away from our text book reads, dictated by the English teacher.

Surprisingly, it’s not Jilly’s racy imaginings that made me want to ride horses later on in life, that goes back to my childhood longing to be a cowboy.

Many years later I went to see Jilly Cooper give a talk at Jarrold’s in Norwich. I wanted to go and tell her the impact she had on me as a young teen but sadly I felt too shy. Besides, I still felt a bit guilty we hadn’t actually bought her books. I know now an author gets paid a little every time their book gets borrowed from a library but since we didn’t do our borrowing the official way, Jilly may not have been happy we deprived her of even that tiny income.

This week I revived my Linkedin account and out of the blue a complete stranger messaged me to say that even though it had been many years since she’d read my short story The Eight of Swords, and had read hundreds of books since, the story had stuck with her, she said it was wonderful and hilarious. I mention the last bit so you know that the story stuck with her for good reasons!

Her kind words made my day. All you want when you write something is for someone to enjoy it or/and identify. Writing is a very special connection and I am grateful to Jilly Cooper for her impact on me as a young teen, bringing back that lovely memory of fun teenage times, inspiring our imaginations and I’m thrilled that I impacted one of my readers that strongly too, in my own small way.

My new book of short stories is scheduled for launch on 14th February. A date you are not likely to forget! Look out for updates coming shortly.

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Please feel free to comment, ask questions and tell me what you are up to, wherever you are in the world, it’s a great time to connect.

Character Creation

Every writer has a different method to creating their characters. I’ve read quite a bit on the subject. There are writing courses galore, software you can get to help you plan your protagonists, internet advice abounds.

You will see in novels a disclaimer that says, ‘no characters in this book were based on living people,’ or something along those lines.

Of course you can’t take someone you know and implant all their characteristics into one of your fictional characters because quite frankly, that character wouldn’t be fictional now would it? That much is obvious. And the last thing you want is a lawsuit.

All I can tell you is how my characters come about.

I don’t sit down and create a character by listing how they look, their age, their weaknesses, their strengths, their political leanings, their occupation etc. I don’t do this because for me it simply doesn’t work. I have tried it but by the time I come to put them into a story I’ve lost interest in them because I know all about them. It is like creating a robot you are going to control to the nth degree and from what I’ve read you can’t even do that with a robot.

If you are a writer reading this and do use that method please don’t take offense. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use that method, I’m purely saying it doesn’t work for me.

The idea for The Eight of Swords came to me from a newspaper article. Once I read the article I couldn’t get it out of my head. It isn’t uncommon for fictional stories to be created from real life events because how else would stories be created? They say truth is stranger than fiction and this is very much the case. However, in this instance I created something strange, dramatic and exciting out of something pretty mundane. I know it wasn’t mundane to the real life lady but the outcome was pretty mundane to my mind.

The article described an immigration officer who came home to find her house overtaken by gypsies (well they may simply have been squatters I can’t remember now but I decided in my story they would be gypsies). In real life, the lady in question used the law to have them evicted within 24 hours or maybe even sooner. I’m a little hazy on the details because I didn’t keep the article and we are talking nearly ten years ago.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it for some time. Then out of the blue I was struck down with Pleurisy and became very ill. I didn’t realize it was Pleurisy, I just thought it was a bad cough. After a few weeks I went to see a doctor who suggested I buy myself some flowers and chocolate and to prepare myself to put up with it for six weeks. My protestations that I had a business to run fell on deaf ears. I ignored her advice and tried to carry on with my daily life but I became more and more poorly and suddenly experienced sharp pains in my ribs so sharp I could barely breathe. I went to see another doctor who told me I’d probably cracked a rib coughing. By the next day I knew I was in serious trouble, not all of my ribs could be broken surely?

By now I wasn’t really well enough to leave the house but another doctor told me to get in a taxi and visit a GP who specialized in respiratory matters. He at last told me I had Pleurisy. This time I went home to my bed and stayed there. I couldn’t just lie there and try to get better, my body might have been in trouble but my mind needed to be kept busy, so everyday I dragged myself into my office and I started to write about an immigration officer who came home to find her home taken over by Romanian gypsies.

I became Jayne Patchett, I could imagine how she might feel, a woman perhaps my own age, coming home and not being able to get through her own front door. Unlike the reality of the article I had read, Jayne had far more trouble dealing with the intriguing family who now inhabited her home. The characters all came to life vividly and the story progressed as if it were actually happening to me in real time. If I had been reading the story instead of writing it, I would not have been able to put it down and that’s what pretty much happened when writing it, I struggled to leave the keyboard until the fatigue of my illness forced me to.

The gypsies were addictive to me, I loved learning everything about them: their way of living, their attitude, their beliefs, and mystique. I researched how Romanian gypsies lived and Jayne became as intrigued by them as I was. In the story she gets drawn into their world and begins to question her own.

So my characters developed organically if you like. They came out of nowhere and took over my mind and my story. I found them leading the way. My decisions on what would happen next belonged entirely to them. I could never have planned the story from start to finish. I had no idea how it would end, what would happen to Jayne or any of them and exactly the same thing happened when I came to write The Putsi.

And again, with my new book of short stories, it is the characters who have dictated how the stories unfold. I don’t think I have ever started a story knowing where it will end up. Perhaps that’s why writing is as much a pleasure to me as reading is. I love to be surprised.

I know I am fortunate to have such a fertile imagination. It developed as a young child. My siblings were much older than me so for much of my childhood I entertained myself and lived in my own head and for a while alongside my imaginary friend Bert, who I suppose was the first character I ever made up.

That’s pretty much all I can tell you about how I develop my characters. The truth is they develop themselves. They are real to me even though they are entirely fictional.

Tomorrow I will tell you more about my imaginary friend Bert, who has a story all of his own.

Drop in at 7pm, see you here!

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Please feel free to comment, ask questions and tell me what you are up to, wherever you are in the world, it’s a great time to connect.

The Creative Mind

Good evening and welcome to today’s blog post. If I sound a little like the late David Frost I make no apology!

Jack Frost (completely different character) has been nipping at us all for the last few days and while I enjoy being out on frosty bright days, I’m not so sure about the aches the cold brings.

During the first lockdown I disciplined myself into daily yoga sessions via YouTube (I can recommend Adrienne) but that was summer and now the mornings are colder and darker so I have to fight with myself to get up. At the moment I am winning again but that is after a couple of months of lagging in the exercise stakes.

Happily I live in an apartment that has very impressive sound proofing so if I want to dance to loud music, no one complains. Exercise has been incredibly important in keeping my mind focused, as has meditation. If you haven’t tried meditation before I heartily recommend it. During the more stressful times in lockdown (like when my mum ended up in a Covid ward for a week although thankfully she wasn’t suffering from it, just displaying symptoms), I relied on daily meditations to get me through. I don’t do them so often now but I should, it especially helps when writing and your mind is jam packed with ideas.

My daily blog posts are going to be a mixture of how my self publishing is going and day to day writing, publishing, photography and sketching adventures. Of course I am going to be mentioning the pandemic but I will try to focus on the lighter side of everyday living with Covid-19 floating around us in its weird and threatening invisible aura. We all know the dark side, so I don’t need to dwell on that.

You see I mentioned photography and sketching as well as the writing and publishing above. I am also a photographer and I like to sketch when I can. My Grandfather, who was a far superior artist to me in every way, used to love to sketch everyday folk and I have picked that up genetically from him I guess. As it happens, the sketches will work well with my new book of short stories so I will use them to illustrate them.

My blog posts will also feature some of my photography, street photography is what I suppose some would call ‘a guilty pleasure,’ which it is in some ways but capturing people unawares is the only way to make sure their expressions are completely natural. I think I am a kind shooter, I don’t take advantage, I simply document characters and life on the street as I see it. There you go, this is only my second blog post and I am already letting out my dark secrets. Check out my images via @ZingleEye on Instagram.

My characters are completely fictional. I’m lucky in that I have had many jobs and the varied businesses I have worked in have featured all sorts of different characters so while none of my characters are ever based on anyone in particular, I suppose my subconscious computes personality traits and behaviours which then go on to become fully formed fictional beings who you can empathize or identify with in some way. At least I hope so.

I’ll write more about how my characters evolve another time.

Like most creative types I guess, I easily get distracted. I can be walking along thinking about a story and the next minute I am transfixed by a scene that I want to photograph or I might see someone who would make a good sketch or I see through a window and imagine the lives of the people within. Ideas come all the time and one of the big problems I have in life is filtering them and trying to choose which to pursue. Having so many ideas can be both a blessing and on occasion a curse.

The other side of me is that I am pretty practical. My head may be full of ideas and imaginings but I am able to do a bit of plumbing when it’s needed, cut hair, change the oil in a car, cook, bake or create a piece of jewellery – all a bit random but that’s me. If I don’t know how to do something I’m all for finding out how to do it rather than relying on someone else (which of course has to happen from time to time). In fact, I should pass more jobs on to others but my curiosity usually gets the better of me. I don’t see myself as a Jack of all trades and master of none but more a curious human.

This is what happened in the summer. When I had an idea for a book (as it happens not the short stories this time) I decided to learn a publishing program and I am still learning as I go.

My blog post tomorrow will focus (hey get me, I’m going to focus on something) on character creation and I will tell you how The Eight of Swords and The Putsi came about.

7pm, don’t be late!

Please follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for daily updates.

Please feel free to comment, ask questions and tell me what you are up to, wherever you are in the world, it’s a great time to connect.

Introducing Petra Kidd (Again)

Well hello, it’s been quite some time since I blogged, so thank you for visiting to see what I have to say.

Nearly ten years ago I published The Eight of Swords and The Putsi and posted on this site pretty regularly but life got in the way, I had a business that needed my full attention and my mother certainly needed it too.

Then I moved into a business which demanded less of me physically and thanks to Covid-19 (it has to be good for something) I got my writing bug back again and spent the first lockdown writing a new book of short stories.

I’ve always been fascinated by people and how they deal with certain situations, if you read The Eight of Swords you will meet Jayne Patchett who has a very tricky situation to deal with. When you read it, you are bound to ask yourself how you would react if you were her.

When Covid-19 turned up without much warning and presented us all with a whole new and unprecedented way of living this reminded me very much of The Eight of Swords, but in this case all our worlds were turned upside down, not just the life of one woman (although her drama proved comparatively brief).

I moved into a new riverside apartment just a couple of days before the first lockdown. Luckily I didn’t have much to move as I downsized. Suddenly life became much calmer, more peaceful and the simplicity of my modern apartment seeped into me. Instead of having to race around I could reflect, I had time to think and observe the city around me uncluttered with people. While I am a social person, I am also very happy alone and in my own space so this new way of living did not particularly frighten or concern me.

Having said that, I am not only responsible for myself, I have an elderly mother who has a multitude of health conditions to care for and during the first lockdown I suspended her care agency and looked after her full time myself for three months. Although I’d already spent a fair amount of time with her, caring for her all the time brought a routine that probably helped me cope with the weird way the outer world was transmogrifying.

I started to write a diary, the kind of diary where thoughts simply pour out of your head from your daily observations. It became a kind of therapy and I couldn’t go to sleep without having written down the days happenings. The realization that we are all living through a pandemic that will become a part of the history books made me think of future generations of my family and how they will want to know what it was like first hand from the people who actually lived through it. My Aunty Maureen wrote about her experiences in the war and I had only recently read her notes and this inspired me to write about lockdown and Covid-19 so that my great nephews and future great great nieces and nephews will have first hand experience of a family member going through it all.

The diary isn’t what I am going to publish (well not for now). The diary led me to muse upon what might be going on behind all the closed doors I passed on my lockdown exercise walks and cycle rides and my imagination went into overdrive and created twelve new short stories.

As it has been many years since I last self-published I am going to take you with me, you are very welcome to join me on this latest literary adventure. Whether you are an avid reader or a writer yourself it might interest you to know a little about the process as I go through it again.

My next blog post will be tomorrow at 7pm so please subscribe to make it easier for you to read my updates and to find out more about the new short story book launch.

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Please feel free to comment, ask questions and tell me what you are up to, wherever you are in the world, it’s a great time to connect.

’Til tomorrow…

The Eight of Swords

My short stories The Eight of Swords and The Putsi have been reduced on Amazon to the new low price of £1.02 until the end of September.  It is a rare thing for me to reduce my prices or do free giveaways so go get ’em!

Both stories will get you gripped and are perfect for commuters or those on the go who want a compelling read that will last long enough to enjoy but doesn’t go on too long.

You can read an excerpt here: The Eight of Swords 

If you do read them, please leave a review – your thoughts are always of interest to me!

Please follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/petrakiddwrites and on Twitter @PetraKidd and if you like what you read, please like and share so other folk can enjoy my stories too. Thank you!

ebook-covers1.jpg

The Eight of Swords

A difficult day turns into a nightmare when Jayne Patchett returns home to find her house occupied by Romanian gypsies.

The irony of the situation isn’t lost on Jayne, who works in immigration. She is used to dealing with illegal immigrants at work but when she finds them sitting at her dining room table, drinking her wine, eating her food and wearing her clothes, her reaction surprises even herself.

(53 pages)

 

The Putsi

The Putsi

If you have something special belonging to someone else, what happens when they want it back?

Eighteen years have passed since a family of Romanian gypsies invaded Jayne Patchett’s house. In that time her life has changed remarkably, she is a successful artist, happily in love, living in an idyllic country cottage. But all those years ago, one of the gypsies gave her a lucky pouch, the putsi. Now, one of them wants it back. Drama returns to Jayne’s life as secrets are unveiled and she begins to wonder who she can trust.

(42 pages)

Sequel to The Eight of Swords – The Putsi

The Putsi

If you have something special belonging to someone else, what happens when they want it back?

 Eighteen years have passed since a family of Romanian gypsies invaded Jayne Patchett’s house.  In that time her life has changed remarkably, she is a successful artist, happily in love, living in an idyllic country cottage.  But all those years ago, one of the gypsies gave her a lucky pouch, the putsi.  Now, one of them wants it back.  Drama returns to Jayne’s life as secrets are unveiled and she begins to wonder who she can trust. 

Available as a short story ebook via Amazon & Smashwords

Cover Story

 I recently listened to a Barnes & Noble One on One Author interview with Chip Kidd who is the associate art director at Knopf an imprint of Random House.  In the first half of the interview he talks about a book he has written and later on he talks about cover design and advertising.

 I had never heard of Chip Kidd before this interview.  When seeking out author interviews I have to admit I was at first curious because he shares my surname.  Upon finding out he is a well-respected cover designer my interest was piqued further.

 Always having had an interest in art and design, I particularly appreciate a fine cover when I see one.  The whole marketing process fascinates me and cover design is an integral part of that. 

 The obvious question was asked during the interview ‘does cover design sell a book?’  This is a question I was asking myself not so long ago as I published my first Ebook The Eight of Swords.  The temptation was to launch into designing the cover myself.  I am more than happy to browse photo libraries for hours to find the right image for my blog so why would it be any different for my book cover?  As luck would have it a designer offered to do it for me.  In fact he relished the opportunity and I was delighted by his enthusiasm.  If I had done it myself I might well have spent a long time agonising over images and working out how to create the finished product in a professional looking manner.  In truth, I doubt I would have had any more satisfaction doing it myself than letting him do it for me.  Also the time I spent trying to do it could be spent writing!

 The finished cover design for my Ebook was far different to anything I imagined and far exceeded my expectations. It perfectly fits with the story – dramatic and mysterious.  Also it looks great as a thumbnail image, which can be quite a challenge.

 Back to the question ‘does cover design sell a book?’  Well Chip’s answer pretty much came as I expected, in the negative.  He believed as I do, it’s the subject matter, the blurb on the back and the reviews that sell the book.  I only believe this based on how I buy books.  I do like to see a stylish cover in ‘come and get me’ colours with an intriguing image and cool font design but when browsing a bookshelf or Amazon it’s the author credentials and story that sell me the book.  I will check out the reviews and if they are well above average on the low stars I may well pass it by but I don’t take too much stock of them because hey, everyone is an individual and even more so when it comes to being attracted by reading material. 

 Having said all that, a poorly designed cover can be a real turn off.  Psychologically we want to be attracted and feel that we are valued enough for someone to make an effort to draw us in.  I know that if one of my favourite authors published a book with a tacky cover I would be disappointed and to be perfectly honest really quite shocked.  However, being one of my favoured authors, if I liked the sound of the story I would disregard the cover.

In truth when I am browsing for books and see an author I don’t know with a cover design that looks pretty atrocious it is very off putting to say the least.  If they didn’t make the effort with the cover design, how much effort did they put into the story?  It’s superficial but it is hard not to make assumptions.  Us humans usually judge first on appearance whether it is right or wrong. 

 As with my business, I am a great believer in display and making an effort for the customer.  After all without the customer there would be no business and it’s the same with readers, I want them to feel they are getting something great on the outside and within, a totally finished product.

 The Eight of Swords is available to buy to download at Amazon and Smashwords.

 Check out Chip Kidd’s podcast at Barnes & Noble here.

 http://media.barnesandnoble.com/?fr_story=6ca2b600632093d8f9cf1dc8a6852a70aeb4d98b&rf=sitemap

 And his cover designs here:

http://bookcoverarchive.com/Chip_Kidd