Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas Book Sales

Christmas is one of the boom times of the year for book sales (The Bookseller tweeted that sales soared by £8.8million last week), and quite rightly so. Giving a loved one something that they can cherish until the end of their days has to be considered as the ultimate present. I do not think there has been a year when I have not been given books or book tokens so I can make my own choice. A book will always make me smile once unwrapped.

And this year I can contribute to somebody's happiness. My book is available via lulu.com at the very reasonable price of £7 (plus p&p). In fact, if you are very quick you can purchase it at a 30% discount by the end of tomorrow (Wednesday 7th December 2011).

If you live in the Axarquia region of Spain you are also able to buy my book from one of the following shops:
Todo Papel, Competa
Marco Polo, Competa
W H Smiffs, Nerja
The English Shop, Puente don Manuel

Don't just take my word for the fact that this is a good little book. Here are some of the reviews received.

* * * * *
Nov. 25, 2011 By casahoya
A Ripping Yarn. If you were hoping for a conventional travel book, you are going to be bitterly disappointed. Deborah Cater and conventional are not on speaking terms. If, however, you would enjoy a jolly good romp through some of the greatest cultural centres in Eastern Europe in the company of two healthy young women with a robust sense of humour and very few inhibitions, you will love this book. Warning, do not read this if you have no sense of humour. You can test this by reading the section on Amsterdam entitled 'The Last Chicken in Sainsbury's,' something, incidentally that I have never seen in real life and which has left me with a feeling that I've missed out on something. Well-written, very funny and a very good read. I'd buy it if I were you.
 Nov. 1, 2011 By dawn764
Such an honestly written account of two friends on their journey. A Tale of Nine Cities is not just a story of friends travelling and their experience. The writing cleverly combines a description of fine architecture, culture and character of all the cities visited, leaving an ambition to visit those you have not and relating to those you have. A simple burst of hilarious encounters and an honest approach to friendship along the way that any friends could relate to but in a way that leaves you in absolute fits of laughter waiting to read the next chapter. cannot wait for the next journey :)
* * * * * Nov. 2, 2011 By Helen Carver
I very quickly ripped through this book and at the end wished it had been longer. I loved the whirl around Amsterdam as it brought lots of good memories back for me. And as for Budapest, I may also go back there after all, because I found parts of that city very seedy but Deborah help me see there may be more to it. I thought Deborah's description of Auschwitz was particularly poignant. Even though we have all read accounts of this horror, they are usually written by people or even historians with a great deal of knowledge of this place, but Deborah's writing came straight from the heart. I liked both ladies non politically correct ideas on smoking and drinking. We all should be able to choose what we do in life. An entertaining bit of writing; well worth a read.
A book is a wonderful present, fits nicely into most Christmas stockings, or looks nice wrapped under the tree and then later on someone's bookshelf or bedside table. Give a book and make someone happy!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Bread and Circuses

There is more to Rome, and Romans, than bread and circuses; Juvenal knew that. He was merely commenting that giving bread and circuses to the populace diverted them from, perhaps, more pressing issues. I am trying to cram the history of Rome, and not just its glory days as the centre of a powerful empire, but the whole kit and caboodle, from being to 2006, into a few pages of text. I am writing a travel book; it needs to have interest in the form of fact, but it does not want to be crushed beneath its weight. Enough happened in the five days I was in Rome without thousands of years prior to be included as well. What is worthy of detailed mention? What should only be given a fleeting mention? What, and this is the really hard bit, should be omitted? Do I create the highlights of Rome’s history around the obvious elements of archaeology remaining or, because they are given so much publicity, skim around those times and give more to the lesser known times?

Whichever way I twist I am going to upset somebody. The classicists and lovers of Imperial Rome would be disappointed if I glossed over the events and outputs of their period. Those interested in the Middle Ages would argue that Rome did not just disappear into a black hole, far from it, and the Renaissance in the early Modern period was indeed a time of rebirth. Enthusiasts of later modern and contemporary history would be baying for my blood if I omitted the years of Berlusconi, Mussolini, Vittorio Emmanuelle II and the French influence. And all of this intertwined with the church; the church, the state within a state, and all its influences – good and bad.

I am tempted to sate the tastes of the reading populace with bread and circuses. I would be steering them from some equally tasty treats but it may divert them from noticing the things I have little interest in. What I have to do is base the book primarily around my experiences – visual, aural, oral, touching and tasty – it is after all a telling of MY story.

There will be complaints, no doubt, that is the price I willingly accept for putting my version of the truth out there... but it is difficult to understand someone when they have a mouth full of bread and the party is in full swing.

City Chronicles: A Little Bit of Italy.   Due for release in Spring 2012

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

What is Staunching the Flow?

I have been struggling a little to get into the groove of this book and many a nightly hour has been spent considering the whys and wherefores. I know that A Little Bit of Italy does not contain the overnight train journeys, numerous countries and cultures and desperate hurtles across countries to make a connection that were evident in A Tale of Nine Cities, but still I visited some magnificent places.
Reading through my journal, looking at the photographs and carrying out the research to make sure I’ve got my facts straight, I remember just how wonderful these cities were. Venice, a floating enigma; Milan with its beautiful Duomo; Siena, an almost perfect medieval town set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside and Rome. Rome, where there is almost too much to see. Rome, the complete and utter assault on all your senses. It was an incredible journey, so why am I finding it so hard to write about it?
The answer came to me last night. The reason I find it so troublesome – I was not happy. Whereas with Nine Cities I had been travelling with a friend that I could not be more found of (despite some rather violent outbursts), A Little Bit of Italy was taken in the company of someone with whom I was in the last throes of a relationship. Throes? The last choking, bilious vomits of our relationship were strewn across this trip. So I need to address these issues. I need to make light of them, turn the murderous look and desire to dash him from the height of the Duomo roof onto the piazza below into a moment of humour (though there is the concern it might descend into bathos).
So that is my intent today - lighten my heart. I found a quote from Ernest Hemingway, “Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” Very good advice. I am going to put it as the ending quote to my book, it is the perfect summation.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Little Bit of Italy

That is the title of the second in the City Chronicles trilogy and I am busy putting pen to paper. I hope to have the book ready for publication by Easter (I hope it is late next year - must check). I've just spent the last five days in Italy, and though the only place I visited on this trip that is the same as the trip I am writing about is the airport at Fiumicino, I have the flavour of the country tingling on my memory's tastebuds. Everything helps in bringing the memories flooding back. Yes, I have my notebooks and photographs and other paraphenalia but there is nothing like setting foot in the country again to aid the synapses.

And so with my trusty Parker pen loaded with ink (from cartridges purchased at an old fashioned toy and stationery shop in Spoleto, Umbria) and virgin paper waiting to be penetrated with said ink, I set forth on my tour of A Little Bit of Italy once again.

Soaking up the Italian atmosphere - Grottammare, Abruzzo.

P.S. I am a slow learner when it comes to Twitter et al but today I managed to find three #tags that had not, until now, been used and can be said to relate to my books! I am now using #ninecities for the first of the City Chronicles trilogy, #bitofitaly for the second and #cctrilogy for the set. Look out for them, and use them, on twitter.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


City Chronicles: A Tale of Nine Cities

Available through Lulu.com as pdf e-book or paperback.
E-book:       £1.99
Paperback:  £6.99

A Tale of Nine Cities relates the tale of an eye-opening and inspirational trip taken by two 30 year-old friends around Central and Eastern Europe by train. Cramming nine cities in eight countries into fifteen days this is no mean feat.
Full of fascinating facts and history of the places visited this is more than a cultural travelogue. The tale is also an amusing and frank account of the adventure during which the girls face some hard facts about themselves and their differing takes on life.

I hope you enjoy it!

The second book in the trilogy, City Chronicles: A Little Bit of Italy will be available in 2012.

City Chronicles: A Tale of Nine Cities

Available through Lulu.com as pdf e-book or paperback.

Friday, 30 September 2011

We've got it covered!

The front design of the cover jacket for City Chronicles: A Tale of Nine Cities is complete. I think it looks fantastic and have to thank my designer, Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics, for all her hardwork and patience as I umm'd and err'd as to the best look.

I believe the jacket sums up the tale inside...two girls setting out on an exciting and inspiring trip around Europe; that travel stretches the mind, opens the senses and can be a wonderful adventure.

The book will be published in October 2011 and will be available via Lulu.com.

Know no boundaries, go and explore!!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Judging Covers of Books

‘Never judge a book by its cover’, well that may be so if we are using books as a metaphor for people, but for books the cover is important. I am about to enter the very competitive world of book-selling and I want every advantage I can muster. I have found a cover designer but she needs direction from me, quite rightly. So, as part of my homework on book cover design I have perused over a thousand book covers to see what catches my eye. It was an interesting exercise. Here are a few of the covers that made me look twice.

I like this because of the colours blue and green, the title is clear, it has symbols of WWI without it being warlike, it hints at what is within. The cover is almost in direct contrast to the title, i.e. war in the title but, apart from the darker clouds, a peaceful feel to the cover. Bad points – author’s name is lost at the bottom.

Once again the colour blue is in evidence. The subject matter is hinted at – Algiers represented by fuzzy palms. The title and author’s name are clear and the eye moves down from the title and is captured by the white palms.

These I do not like! Chick Lit is what it says to me and chick lit I do not read as a general rule. I would be put off by this, and so would men.  This style would narrow my potential readership I think.
HOWEVER, they caught my eye.  I would expect my reader demographic to be female in their 30s and 40s so it might be a good style – still don’t like it though!!

I like the map detail. The title grabs the eye immediately. I like the sub title being a different colour. The use of a pin and string draws the eye and makes it stick. The different colours of the countries also adds interest. Once again shades of blue.

This is a memoir and we can see the history in the young girl. The title is reflected in the cover through use of shape – triangle. Diary scribbles and the edge of the map also refer back to this being a memoir. You can tell from the cover what to expect inside.

You can’t tell that this a biography straight away but the cover is very eye-catching. Once again blue is the colour (definitely a theme here) but with other bold statement colours/pictures to draw the eye in. Bad points – title not clear enough. 

This made me laugh; which as it is a humour book is good. Looking at the map there are not country names but words to describe the inhabitants – drunk, robbers, unclean! The titles are clear. Everything is clear. You know what you are going to get from this cover.

I own this book and the reason I first picked it up…the cover! It stands out – a smoking skeleton. I did not know the author, and the title I missed. Still, I picked it up from the shelf and read the back and a random page within…then bought it.

This has been a very helpful exercise.  Scanning through thumbnail book covers, which is what many will do when they buy from Lulu and Amazon, these are what caught my eye. I did look at the chick lit covers but l then dismissed them. They were eye-catching and they told me what I needed to know - so I moved on!!
There were many books with abstract covers which seemed to be predominantly  re-published classics. Once a book has its name known this is just a refresh and the publisher can use the cover to attract readers again, perhaps buying books they studied at school or have been lost in house moves. I loved the surreal covers for Kafka’s works (not shown above) but they are not suitable for my little book.
So what can I deduce from my perusal of book covers?
1.       Blue as the background cover is what attracts me, but will it attract readers? I like covers that tell me what to expect within (with the notable exception of David Sedaris).
2.        I want to be able to easily discern the title – I think red will do the job. As A Tale of Nine Cities is the first in the City Chronicles trilogy I think that City Chronicles should be in red and the sub-title a different colour each time.
3.       I need to give an overview of the content of my book but add a little something to make the potential reader wonder, and more importantly, purchase!
Easy then! Over to my cover designer Cathy Helms to work wonders.
I researched the book covers from http://bookcoverarchive.com

Monday, 5 September 2011

Reader Report

These are excerpts from a reader's report from a potential publisher. I have been allowed to use their comments, without attribution (for which I thank them, even though I have decided not to go with this particular publisher).

Very positive feedback! Not too long before you have the chance to find out for yourselves!!

The author has a lovely turn of phrase and at times her prose sings off the page. Both committed smokers, their favoured method of travel was in the (often full) smoking carriage of Europe’s trains, and so they found themselves “a fag paper away from relaxation”. After a severe row, and fearing her friend may not wish to travel with her anymore, Deborah describes how she made the decision to restore good relations and “screwed my pride into a tight little ball and swallowed it”. On arriving home and taking stock of their adventure, they both decide they had crammed too much into too short a time. “It was a bit of a mad dash. Not so much a Grand Tour as a  Grand Prix, trying to squeeze as much as possible out of the vehicle as possible.”

These lovely little nuggets of writing nestle in amongst the vivid pictures the author paints of the architecture, culture and anthropology of the local scene, giving the armchair traveller a multi-sensual taste of the cities the women visited, leaving them hungry for more. Extensively researched, and taken just from scraps of a diary written a decade earlier, the book provides a fascinating insight into the girls’ journey; one not to be read by the parents!

A Tale of Nine Cities is thoughtful and sophisticated, entertaining and nostalgic, and a great memento of an unforgettable journey.

Style points: Beautifully written, this book will require very little editing.  A lot of time has been put into this travelogue to make it polished and ready for publication.

Jacket Blurb

I have been working on the jacket blurb for the book, the words on the back cover of the book. Hopefully it will entice readers to buy the book. Let me know what you think.
A Tale of Nine Cities relates the tale of an eye-opening and inspirational trip taken by two 30 year-old friends around central and eastern Europe by train. Cramming nine cities in eight countries into fifteen days this is no mean feat.
Full of fascinating facts and history of the places visited this is more than a cultural travelogue. The tale is also an amusing and frank account of the adventure during which the girls face some hard facts about themselves and their differing takes on life.
The final edit is underway and I have also sent a copy to my travelling companion to give her a chance to redact (Julian Asange I am not!). So far - silence. Either she has not had a chance to read it yet or is so absorbed she has not had a chance to give me feedback. I hope it is the latter!!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011



City Chronicles: A Tale of Nine Cities relates the tale of an eye-opening and inspirational trip taken by two 30 year-old friends around Central and Eastern Europe by train.

Whilst full of fascinating facts and history, more importantly it’s an amusing and frank account of the adventure, during which my friend and I face some hard facts about ourselves and our differing takes on life.

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