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at the end of the day


At the end of the day, in the final analysis, when all is said and done, the bottom line is…


It’s not as though discourse markers are some weird excrescence in English. We may not quite joint our sentences with them as much as Italian does with its dunque, comunque, and quindi (Italian, contrary to some stereotypes, is a language with discursive habits that are optimally suited to intellectual discourse – much more engagingly so than German, in my experience), but we still have lots of but, then, so, as a result, which means, and on up the formality scale to therefore and hence and in sum… and beyond into Latin.

And it’s not as though hackneyed metaphors are foreign to the language either. An enormous amount of our daily-use vocabulary traces back to physical references used for abstract concepts. Hackneyed

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It’s been two months…

I was looking at my WordPress stats yesterday and realised it’s been two months since I’ve posted an entry to my blog. The reason? I’ve moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast; permanently. Need I say more? Moving house is ranked next to death and divorce as being one of the most stressful events one can experience during their lifetime. Do you agree? I certainly do.  But, I’m here now and I’m loving the lifestyle and the freedom from ‘big city’ stress. The Gold Coast is an exciting place and I’m on a mission to experience all it has to offer.

I’m proud and pleased to say, with the Sydney family home sold, I’m now officially a Queenslander. Yay! Surf, sun and sandy beaches.

What is it they say about the Gold Coast? Beautiful one day, perfect the next! And I couldn’t agree more. With the kids having moved on to bigger and better places and with JoJo our fun-loving, but annoying Maltese Terrier’s passing, it is now time to cast all stress aside and begin a new life. I’m looking forward to making new friends, working on friendships already established and settling down to writing book number four of the Detective Jill Brennan series. So much to do, so little time.IMG_0071.jpg

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18 Common Words That You Should Replace in Your Writing

Just English

It’s a familiar scene: you’re slumped over your keyboard or notebook, obsessing over your character. While we tend to agonize over everything from structure to backstory, it’s important to weigh how you write something too. A perfectly constructed world is flat on the page if you use feeble, common words. When you’re finished constructing your perfectly balanced world, do your writing a favor and take another pass to weed out these 18 haggard words.


High on any list of most used English words is “good.” While this word may appear to be the perfect adjective for nearly anything, that is precisely what makes it so vague. Try getting more specific. If something’s going well, try “superb,” “outstanding” or “exceptional.”


Another of the common words in English is “new.” “New” is an adjective that doesn’t always set off alarm bells, so it can be easy to forget about. Give your…

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Where do ideas come from? And who killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler?



Often it’s hard to get a writing project started. It’s also difficult to find the time to write, to think outside the box and to bring your writing to a place it’s never been before. As I swelter in what I hope are the last humid days of summer, I know I can’t put off the inevitable. Jill Brennan is calling. In fact she’s been calling for the last six months. She is demanding I tell her story in the fourth book of the Detective Jill Brennan series.

Every writer’s writing process is different. Mine usually begins with a place. Then the first few sentences. And then…  if I’m lucky and the muse comes, I’m off and running.

 But first, the opening sentences to Blood Kin (a working title)…

 At first, Detective Jill Brennan thought it was a prank call. Some kid with nothing better to do on a Saturday night than make a nuisance of themselves. But now as she sat on her bed looking at the opened suitcase at her feet, Jill wasn’t so sure. There was something about the girl’s voice. A voice too high-pitched, too edgy.

The place? Lane Cove National Park. I chose the Park as the setting after driving past the entrance on my way home from a late night out with friends. The case of Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler immediately came to mind. It’s a sordid story. A baffling mystery surrounded by international conspiracies, cheating husbands and wives, respected scientists. It was a mystery that remained unsolved for more than five decades.

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Inducement to Read Free. Did the Experiment Work?



In my last post ten days ago I explained the reasons behind my decision to put out a FREE ebook on Amazon and Smashwords. The theory behind the decision is nothing new, so after careful consideration, I changed the price of  Secrets and Lies, (the first book in the Detective Jill Brennan series), from US$0.99 to FREE. I did this in the hope I would see a boost in sales of the other books in the series.

THE GOOD NEWS: In the last 10 days I’ve seen a spike in the number of FREE downloads of  Secrets and Lies  on Smashwords. As a spin off, there’s been an increase in PAID sales of Killing Sunday and Asylum.

Here are the stats: In the last ten days FREE downloads of Secrets and Lies increased by 366% while PAID downloads of Killing Sunday and Asylum increased by 167%!!

THE BAD NEWS: I enrolled Secrets and Lies in Kindle Matchbook with disappointing results. There were no FREE downloads or significant increases in PAID sales of Killing Sunday or Asylum.

Secrets & Lies 2014 Cover-Full9940c0cc8330ff8f8b9685c5c009a8c0Asylum Cover



As my commitment to marketing continues, I have to ask myself did this marketing strategy work? Despite Amazon’s disappointing result, I believe it did. The timing and the sales jump in Smashwords downloads was significant enough for it not to have been a fluke. The next question I believe I have to ask myself is, as a writer, what is important to me? To have dollar sales or have readers read my books? Crime is a a popular genre and with so much competition, the biggest threat I face is obscurity. The more readers I reach the better.

What are your thoughts:)

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The Psychology Behind FREE


Photo -Krasimira Nevenova/

People love free, it goes without saying. Free samples at supermarkets, free giveaways at department stores, free samples of beauty products glued to pages of women’s magazines. But does FREE work as far as encouraging sales? In the case of the wholesale supermarket chain, Costco, it seems it does.

I’m a regular Costco customer and I’ve seen the sampling tables. I steer clear but my husband who has a black belt in bargain hunting always samples the fare. According to Joe Pinsker in his article, The Phsycology Behind Costco’s Free Samples, there’s no brand as strongly associated with free sampling than Costco. People have been known to tour the free samples tables for a free lunch.

Mini pizza bagels? Now we’re talking.

Paul Sakuma/AP

The psychology behind sampling is to encourage customer loyalty to stores and to brands. Free samples help consumers learn more about products, true, but according to Pinkser something else is going on in the minds of the consumer. For starters, about three-quarters of people surveyed took a free sample when offered one. And those who did take a sample were more likely to have taken other samples than those who didn’t. What does this say about consumers?  People are driven to samples more by their dispositions than by their perceptions of a product’s relevance to them.

After much research, I decided to apply this marketing strategy to selling my e-books and listed Secrets and Lies, the first book in the Detective Jill Brennan series, for FREE. Yep zilch. A big price reduction from $0.99 cents!!!  I didn’t like reducing the price to be honest. It took me three years to write the damn book.

But of course, this marketing strategy is nothing new. The idea behind the give away is to build interest. I’m hoping  readers will come to my site and buy another one of my books at some point.

Last century as an 18 year old, I enrolled at university and took a  physchology subject as part of a marketing degree. I like people and I’m interested in why we act the way we do.  Why are we drawn to FREE stuff? What is it about FREE that is so irresistible?

With FREE e-books I believe it’s because the reader doesn’t know anything about the author. They feel they have nothing to loose by downloading a free book. But, surely, this is why Amazon offers free samples.

I don’t downloaded free e-books. I’ve baulked at them just as I’ve baulked at downloading e-books for more than $13, even if they are written by my favourite authors. (However, I’ll pay up to $35 for a hardcover). It is because we perceive value as something tangible, something we can see and touch?

By giving the first book in the series away for free there is the hope an emotional response will be created. This strategy could well be the catalyst needed for a reaction to buy my other books and could be just what is needed to increase the visibility of my work. But, I’m also wondering if FREE may hinder future sales. Then again, a work has no value if it isn’t seen, right?

I looked with interest at my sales stats. Within days of listing Secrets and Lies, for free, sales spiked. For the life of me, I can’t understand why this happened. Readers are suddenly interested in the book because it’s FREE? Go figure. I can’t get around why a reader wouldn’t want to pay a creator of a work if it’s easy to do and is a reasonable price.


I’m hoping that like this cup of coffee here, someone will think hey, I got the first  book for free and it wasn’t a bad read, so what the heck, I’ll spend $0.99 cents and buy the second book in the series.

 “Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct,” says Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University. Ariely believes if somebody does something for you—such as giving you a free e-book or a free coffee—you are likely to feel a strong obligation to do something back for them.  Let’s hope he’s right.

As far as e-books go, there’s a lot to learn about marketing – a lot to figure out. What’s your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts.





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Superstition around death gives people many strange beliefs. Here’s thirteen strangest fears about the dead.


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‘I’m Back but it’s scary…’

Social-MediaThe Challenge

With social media becoming such a large part of our lives I thought it was time to pull back.

Note to Gina: I will not log on to social media, generate a text or a phone call for the remainder of the week. Today is Tuesday, (15 December) only six days until  the beginning of the week based on the premise Monday is the beginning of the week.

The Benefits

The first two days of abstinence were difficult. A number of times I had to stop myself from picking up the mobile phone and checking for missed calls or messages. In hindsight, I should have hidden the phone under the bed so it was out of sight rather than leaving it in full view on the kitchen bench!

By day 2, panic set in. What if I’d missed an important call or text message from the children? Surprisingly, when I checked my phone I had only one message (an invitation for pre-Christmas drinks) and no missed calls. Where was everybody? Last minute Christmas shopping?

Day 3 and I noticed something extraordinary – I had more time on my hands than usual. I finished reading the book I’d abandoned mid-way, I started mind plotting my next book and I was eating less, exercising more and drinking less coffee.

The  Side Effects

It is widely documented that an unhealthy reliance on social media may lead to depression. But read on…this is scary. There is another side effect with more serious consequences. Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of Internet stalking, but a few social media followers have taken it a step further: they’ve used their online profiles to kill. (See my previous post, Suicide by Text).

In a world dominated by digital communication, posting the wrong status update can be fatal. Check this out. But be warned; these cases may disturb you.

What Now?

Q. We are social beings. Are you with me on this?

A. For most of us, yes that’s true.

Q. Don’t we attempt to communicate with each other in order to share information, opinions and feelings?

A. Of course, that goes without saying.

Q. So reading and understanding people’s emotions are an important way of communicating, right?

A. Spot on.

Q. So, is it not by listening to the tone of a person’s voice and observing the change in facial expressions that we understand and empathise with others?

A. I always thought you could tell a lot by a man’s eyes 🙂

Q. Final question. Pay attention. What do you think these photos are telling you?


Note to Gina: In future I will not text, read texts, take calls or make calls in the presence of friends, acquaintances, neighbours or family members. The above also applies to shopkeepers, professionals and to public servants while waiting in  queues. 

Hand on heart. From this day forward I will make every attempt to restrict the use of my mobile phone to the privacy of my own home.






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Never alone…

905355-650-1449047608-sarcasm2I went for a walk along the beach this evening, a habit left over from the  family holidays I spent on the Gold Coast during the 1960’s and ’70’s

It was 6pm. The sun’s intensity had faded, miniature waves lapped at my ankles and a balmy sea breeze gently drifted landward. I arrived at the Gold Coast a week ago and since then my walking pace has slowed and my lips have taken on a semi-permanent upward turn.

As I weaved my way along the beach I sidestepped a dog chasing a tennis ball, dodged a family playing the final innings of beach cricket with all the enthusiasm of a test match, ducked beneath fishing lines  and admired those making the most of the surf before the yellow and red safety flags were taken down for the day.

Like most writers,  I’m curious and observant and not ashamed to say I have the art of eavesdropping down to a fine art.  While I was walking along the beach contemplating life and all its vagaries,  I heard a  mother say to her young daughter as she passed by with her head bent and a mobile phone in her hand, ‘be quiet, Shona, I’m texting.’

I spent the remainder of my walk thinking about social media. How often have we seen a mobile phone raised in the air to capture a moment? Or a driver texting at traffic lights? The other day  a cyclist whooshed past texting as he peddled madly past me. I stopped by the water’s edge and looked around. And yes, there they were! Mobile phones. I was surrounded by them. Have we all gone mad?

In my pre-writing days, I had no idea what it meant to be on twitter, facebook or to enter through the portals of the blogosphere. Back then I valued my privacy and tended to keep my jumbled thoughts to myself. Fast-forward… and here I am-I’m an addict. I have this compulsion to check my mobile phone just in case I missed a call or an important text message. Ding! Has someone just liked or commented on one of my blog posts?

Why do we  seek and need this instant gratification? Is it a human flaw, this neediness? When we send a text message most of us expect an immediate response. We carry our mobile phones around with us like a talisman and I believe we invite stress into our lives by texting or playing mindless games. Are we afraid to be left alone with our thoughts?

I’m a person who enjoys a challenge so I’ve decided to set myself a goal for this week. Note to Gina: I will not log on to social media, instigate a text or a phone call for the remainder of the week. Today is Tuesday, so six days until midnight, Sunday. Wish me luck. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t…I might be tempted to respond.  905405-650-1449047608-sarcasm3

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Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.

Z.B Simpson

Australian Spec-fic writer. Feminist. Weirdo.

Literary Legacies

Walking in the footsteps of great writers

A Holistic Journey

Finding my way back out of motherhood -- while mothering

Marcha's Two-Cents Worth

Random ponderings on the state of the Universe


Nancy Roman

Bryn Donovan

tell your stories, love your life

Z o e y B e a l e

Purposeful Content Creator

Jean's Writing

Jean M. Cogdell, Author-Writing something worth reading, one word at a time in easy to swallow bite size portions.

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.

Z.B Simpson

Australian Spec-fic writer. Feminist. Weirdo.

Literary Legacies

Walking in the footsteps of great writers

A Holistic Journey

Finding my way back out of motherhood -- while mothering

Marcha's Two-Cents Worth

Random ponderings on the state of the Universe


Nancy Roman

Bryn Donovan

tell your stories, love your life

Z o e y B e a l e

Purposeful Content Creator

Jean's Writing

Jean M. Cogdell, Author-Writing something worth reading, one word at a time in easy to swallow bite size portions.

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

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