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Monday, 30 September 2013

The obedience test

When I was in high school, my school uniform had a removable, pre-tied, tie. It buttoned under our collars, hanging down like a sign saying ‘dork’. At the start of each year, the principal would advise parents to sew the ties onto our uniforms so we couldn’t take them off. Of course, my mum was the only one who did this, so I was the only buffoon in school with a tie.


The mark of my shame

Mum tried the same trick when my sister started high school, so my sister unpicked the tie. It was such an obvious solution, but because I was such a goody-goody, it never crossed my mind. The school tie was an obedience test and I had failed to think outside the box and followed my mum’s instructions blindly. I don’t know if Mum was pleased or disappointed in me, but I do know I get my obedient goody-goody ways from her.

You see, when I have visitors to Tokyo, I always give them some instructions about the trains. I tell them it’s going to look too crowded to get onboard, but you’ve just got to get on anyway—there’s always space for more people. I tell them what they should do is face backwards so they don’t have to make eye contact, and use their bottoms to shove onto the train. Despite the pep talk, my visitors are usually still pretty hesitant about pushing backwards onto a train. They end up waiting for people on the train to make space for them. On a crowded day, if this takes too long, they might get a shove from behind.

When Mum visited me in Tokyo, I gave her the usual speech, but when the train pulled up, it wasn’t very crowded, so I stepped leisurely onto it facing forwards. Suddenly, I felt a shove from behind, from something round and soft, and I was sent sprawling into the people in front of me. I figured there must have been a crowd surge on the platform behind me. But when I turned around, I saw it was just my mum—and there was no one behind her. She was such an obedient goody-goody, she’d taken my instructions at face value and followed them exactly. Now I know where I get it from.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Ghostly Grammar Boy is now available on Amazon!

The Ghostly Grammar Boy ebook is now available in the Amazon Kindle store! It's also still available for free on Smashwords until the end of September using the coupon code: TU58E. The print book is coming soon!


The advantages of being a common Thompson

I spend a lot of time on the internet stalking myself. But even if I cheat and look for information I already know exists, I can never get onto Google’s first page of search results. There are just too many Sandra Thompsons. At first my internet obscurity seemed like a good thing. It didn’t matter what I did in life, I never rated a mention on the web. It was a get-out-of-jail-free card. But since I started writing this blog, I’ve begun to doubt whether anonymity is such a good thing. What’s the point of having a blog if no one can find it? Well, last week I discovered something that convinced me beyond a doubt having a common name is a good thing—and it’s got nothing to do with personalised key rings.

You see, I was making a profile on Goodreads to claim The Ghostly Grammar Boy as my book. As soon as I indicated I was an author, my profile became linked up to all the other books written by Sandra Thompson’s around the world. Without lifting a finger, I suddenly had 13 books, 71 ratings for my novels, and a 3.4 star author average!

I was so pleased! All my life, I’ve been slogging away, working for my own name and reputation. Little did I know, out there in the world are millions of Sandra Thompson’s whose work and reputation I could claim for myself.

My future minions




I was just starting to plot the rest of my Sandra Thompson takeover, when I noticed something had changed on my book page. Someone had rated The Ghostly Grammar Boy 4 stars.

I was so excited. I looked at my overall score to see if it had changed too but it was still 3.4. There were so many books and reviews linked to my name now, my one true rating hadn’t made a difference. The other Sandra Thompsons were dragging me down, stifling my first rating. I didn’t need to steal from them, I needed to cut them loose. I asked Goodreads to remove the books from my profile. I might disappear into the sea of Sandra Thompson’s again but at least I’ll get my own ratings.

If you've read The Ghostly Grammar Boy, please leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or Smashwords! Reviews will help other readers find my book.

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Ghostly Grammar Boy is now available on Smashwords!

I’ve finally done it! My first book The Ghostly Grammar Boy is now published. Get it for free on Smashwords for the next two weeks using the coupon code: TU58E. The print book is also coming soon to Amazon, and will be available at my book launch in Tokyo on 15th October (details coming soon). I’d love to get your reviews! Thank you so much to everyone for your support! I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Read on to hear about my greatest fears during the writing process...

Free on Smashwords until 30th September using coupon code: TU58E



My secret fears

During the early years of writing The Ghostly Grammar Boy I had two big fears. The first was that someone might steal my ideas, robbing me of my world best-selling novel. The second was that people might think badly of me when they read my book. I used to lock up my drafts in password protected files, and had copyright marks scrawled on every page. I would rarely tell people I was writing a book, and when I did, I was evasive about the storyline. When people asked to read it, I would always refuse. I did not want to risk losing my work, and at the same time I was petrified they might not like it.

An early version of my book
Finally, one day, after much begging by a friend, I decided it was time to get over my fears. After making my friend promise he wouldn’t copy my book, I gave it to him to read. I spent a sleepless week, tossing and turning, imagining all the horrible things he might think about it, and at the same time, picturing him sending it off to publishers under his name. When I saw him again, I was barely holding myself together as I asked him what he thought. I knew there was no turning back. I could never un-hear his words if he hated it, and I’d never get the book back if he wanted to take it. I needn’t have worried… because he hadn’t even started it. That was five years ago, and until this day, he’s never read a word.

After this happened to me several times, I began to realise I’d been suffering from serious delusions of grandeur. It didn’t matter what people thought of my book, if I could get them to open it up and read the first page, it was a great compliment. If they read the whole thing, it was the greatest gift of all. As for plagiarism, if someone managed to get my work published from the hordes of novels sent to publishers ever year, I applaud them. I would hire them to help me with my next book.

It’s thanks to writing The Ghostly Grammar Boy I’ve learnt you shouldn’t worry too much about what people think of you, you should just be flattered they thought of you at all. Thank you so much to everyone who reads this blog. I really appreciate your support and would love it if you read my book and left a review!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Book Review: Caves, Cannons and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure

I'm giving it 5-stars!

Caves, Cannons and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure is the story of fourteen year old Lizzie and her family in Vicksburg during the American Civil War. It's not just a fight for survival for Lizze and her family, with cannons dropping on their house, food shortages, and wandering vagabonds. Lizzie must also grow up and find her place in the world, as a woman, a sister, and maybe one day, a partner.

As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I was in good hands. From page one, the book launches into an action packed adventure, combined with just enough emotion to let me share in Lizzie's fears, sorrows, and joys. The author expertly weaves the story of Lizzie's personal growth into the adventure and makes the characters and the atmosphere feel very real. I was left thinking about the book for a long time after I finished reading.

In an added bonus, the book is also quite educational. Without meaning to, I learned a lot about the American Civil War, while still feeling like the book was light-hearted and easy to read. I finished the book in one day.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes meaningful stories with strong characters and action. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Class Apart by Stephen Henning

4-stars for this book!
A Class Apart by Stephen Henning is about British twins, James and Samantha, whose lives change forever after a terrorist attack on their school bus. Sam and James wake up in hospital and gradually discover they have extraordinary abilities. Meanwhile, strange events being unfolding at the hospital and the twins need to quickly come to grips with their new powers, to save themselves and everyone around them.

This book was exciting and stimulating. I really enjoyed the beginning scenes on the school bus, where we learn about the mouth breathers, the bullies, and the high school social hierarchy. Then, just when I was bonding with the school kids and settling in for a book full of teenage angst and relationships, a bomb exploded and it was a whirlwind ride from there.

If you enjoy fast-paced action books, with a supernatural element and a mystery, then this is a book for you. I was enthralled as I tried to figure everything out and follow the characters development into super-beings. Despite their amazing powers, the characters seem like real people, with solid back stories, and real life problems.

The book also felt very original to me. I liked that it was unpredictable and the characters discovered things long before I worked them out for myself. At one point I got a bit restless with most of the story being set in the hospital, and I lost track of all of the police officers and what they were doing. But it didn’t hamper my ability to enjoy the story and the pages kept turning themselves. I felt very satisfied when the loose ends were all tied up thoroughly at the end of the book (except for those leading to the sequel of course).

I also liked the multimedia aspect of the book. The Class Apart website has links to book trailers and news reports from the 24/7 Interactive News service which is featured in the book.

In summary, A Class Apart is a fun, enjoyable read, suitable for teenagers and adults alike.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.