Monday, 7 April 2014

A Gruelling Weekend on the Settee!

The hardest thing about being a writer is convincing your wife that lying on the sofa is work.”

My real man has been away and this was an ideal opportunity to (no, not that) finish the next book in a series I am writing on useful key recipes without the distraction of programmes about the war, power tools and other manly noises.

Said real man calls all my writing endeavours “sitting on the settee” even when I rather sportingly sit on a hard wooden chair at the table.  He is proud of my having had a real book really published and of my other writings but he doesn’t understand how physically hard work it is.  I do – it hurts! 

So I wanted to tell you about a very handy little programme I downloaded which has helped immensely plus a cunning plan I have put into operation.

Firstly the useful programme.  I have been experiencing all sorts of eye problems recently from itching, blurring and soreness to sudden pains like a needle stabbing my eye.  Of course this worried me so I looked up “eyestrain caused by computer work” and discovered, ta da …

Their argument is that a computer screen is designed to replicate working in bright sunshine and that this is not natural for us for so many hours a day so it adjusts the brightness automatically making it warmer at night.

I downloaded f.lux, which is free incidentally, about a week ago and oh golly gosh my eyes feel better - get it here.

So now to my cunning plan.  I have not only realised, but been told over and over again, that I should get some exercise and I agree that sitting about all day, even if I am waggling my fingers a lot, is probably not enough activity.  On the other hand it is pouring with rain, I don’t drive and where we live has nothing much to look at.  Also, of course, I am busy thinking and writing.  So I have made a promise to myself and so far so good.  Every time I have to stand up, whatever the reason – I will walk up and down stairs five times and then do the exercises I am going to tell you about. 

These exercises were recommended to me a while back by a great physiotherapist when I had not one but two frozen shoulders. 


I am going to try to explain these two exercises which work well for me but I recommend that you look into them further before having a go. Certainly don’t rely on what I say because I am a cheffy food writer type thing and not a doctor but I do really recommend further investigation.

Exercise 1

I think this is called a neck retraction and what I do is, standing tall and straight and looking forward I drawn my head back and bring my chin down slightly. When I do this I can feel the top of my spine stretching.  I do this ten times for a count of 10 each time just after I’ve just gone up and down the stairs as mentioned above.  My physio told me this would also help counteract a windows hump.

Exercise 2

I don’t know what this is called.  Whilst standing with my arms hanging loosely at my sides I roll my shoulders kind of backwards and downwards whilst squeezing my shoulder blades together. Then for good measure I pull my chin back as above. I do this ten times for a count of 10 too.

I do apologise for using the word “exercise” so much, I realise it can be upsetting but I'm trying to help.

Key Recipes

The book I have just uploaded to Amazon (see my previous post about how to do this) is the third in a series I am writing, each book giving one key recipe with numerous ways to use it and lots of other useful information.  The idea is that readers will be inspired by the information I give them to go on to create their own delicious meals.

This one is about soup and gives 50 recipes for soup plus others for stocks, garnishes and accoutrements and looks like this - look inside here.

One other thing …

If you’d like a free copy of my “219 Cooking Tips & Techniques you might find useful” (it’s a big sexy 77p on Amazon but you might as well have it for nothing!) pop over to Sudden Lunch! and click the link in the sidebar. There is an option to sign up for my Sudden Lunch! posts to be delivered straight to your inbox, it’s not compulsory but you might like them!  

Monday, 24 March 2014

How to Publish Kindle Books

For the past few weeks, often bravely battling on despite the wintery weather, I have been playing with sorbets and granitas. It’s hell writing cookbooks! Now, at last, I have tried all my ideas, taken pics, written about the recipes, eaten the results and finally published a little ebook which looks like this!

It is really as an addendum to my ice cream book because there were some ideas and recipes I wanted to include but they didn't fit.

There is, however, even more to this story. After writing my ice cream book which I originally titled “Lush Ice Cream without a Machine” but have now slightly re-named as “100+ Luscious Ice Creams without a Machine”, it occurred to me that I know several other useful, super-flexible base recipes. I have therefore devised a cunning plan.

I have decided to publish a few more eBooks each one dedicated to one of these key recipes under the series title “Suzy Bowler’s Key Recipes”.

So, after I uploaded “Sorbets and Granitas” I adjusted my ice cream book a little, to bring it in line with this new series of which, to be fair, it was the first.  Don’t worry if you've already bought it, all the recipes are the same, I've just added links to this new book and more photos. Click here to have a look at it in detail or even buy it – surely it will be spring soon!

For some reason this caused me all sorts of problems and I spent the whole day “sitting on the settee” (as my darling calls it even though I was on a hard wooden chair) trying to upload it to Amazon. I still don’t know what the problem was. Sometimes the photos were in the wrong place when I previewed the book, sometimes it just wouldn't upload. I did exactly the same as I usually do and as this is my 5th self-published ebook (read about the whole set here) I have uploaded, so far), I am befuddled.

Anyway it worked in the end and I have no idea why it did, either! I think it was probably a glitch on Amazon rather than something I was doing wrong – I’m never wrong!

So as I am never wrong here, briefly, is how I (usually successfully) prepare, convert and upload my ebooks.

To prepare a book for Amazon Kindle

~   Have the finished document in Word.
~   Add any photos in their correct place using the insert photo method (not copy and paste or anything else!). Pictures should ideally be in the proportions 9:1I. I usually make mine 900 pixels wide but sometimes less than 1100 pixels high, that just means it doesn’t fill the page.
~   Modify the “Normal” Style to Times New Roman, font size 12, single line space. Within Normal set the Paragraph style to 6 points after a paragraph and 6 points indent, if you like, for a new paragraph.  Save these modifications.
~   Highlight the whole document (press cntrl A) and set it all to Normal.
~   You will now have to go through the document re-setting such things as centring, bold and italic.  Don’t have any unusual fonts or anything larger than 14.
~   If in some places, such as lists of ingredients in my case, you don’t want a break after a line or paragraph press Shift/Enter instead of just Enter.   

To convert a book for Amazon Kindle

~   Save the prepared document as Web Page, Filtered to Desktop.  You will then see this …

~   Say YES.
~   Right click on the document on your desktop (as it is now in HTML it will be have the same icon as your browser), go down to Send To and select compressed zip file.
~   If your document included photos open the zip file that has appeared on the desktop using Windows Explorer.
~   There should also have appeared a separate folder on the desktop containing your photos. Drag and drop this into the zip file you have just opened with Windows Explorer.

To upload a book to Amazon’s Kindle

~   Sign up, log in and follow the instructions!

Easy Peasy (Usually Pusually)!

Free Book!

Speaking of self-published books, if you’d like a copy of my “219 Cooking Tips & Techniques you might find usefulpop over to Sudden Lunch and click the link in the sidebar.  There is an option to sign up for my Sudden Lunch! posts to be delivered straight to your inbox, it’s not compulsory but you might like them!

Monday, 3 February 2014

A Blog Chain Virgin in the Virgin Islands

This post is a little different as I have been invited to take part in a Blog Chain – a first for me and quite exciting.  The basic idea is that the initiator decides on a topic, writes about it and then nominates another blogger or bloggers to do the same.  I am the last of this current chain, scroll to end of this post for earlier links.

Wendy Percival who writes contemporary mysteries inspired by genealogy and family secrets nominated me, bless her. Read about her newly published book “Blood-Tied” (which I shall be searching out as soon as I return to Cornwall) here and visit her blog about writing here where you can read her link in the chain.

These are the four questions which are the subject of this post:

1)    What am I working on?
2)    How does my work differ from others of its genre or type?
3)    Why do I write what I do?
4)    How does my writing process work?

They look quite simple but I’m not so sure, here goes.

What am I working on?

Lots of things, that’s why I’m so confused!

I have written and published four ebooks on Amazon Kindle, I enjoy doing them, the independence they give me from all the palaver involved in traditional publishing and the small pittance that I occasionally receive from Amazon. 

I am currently in the Caribbean where I used to live and where (very sadly for me) we are packing up our remaining belongings and selling our boat as a final break with the place.  This seems a good time to write about my experiences as a chef here so I am starting on that as an ebook.

There has been talk of publishing a sequel to my real grown up book “The Leftovers Handbook” which, despite what I said above about the publishing process, I am very proud of.  I am not sure if this second book, about cooking from the store cupboard, will go ahead but I am collecting ideas and recipes just in case.

I also have lists of ideas to pitch to magazines, things to post in my blog and lots more 
ideas for ebooks.

How does my work differ from others of its genre or type?

If it does differ then it may be because of my diverse cooking experiences not only in England and the Caribbean but also in The Canaries, France, Madeira, New Zealand (and maybe other places too that have slipped my mind!) including working on a passage making yacht and a day trip catamaran and living, cooking and eating in camper vans, caravans and living on a boat for 16 years. Also I like to think, when writing, that I am chatting to a friend so am not too formal.

Why do I write what I do?

Well one big reason is that I am so irritated with the way people eat, the lack of basic food knowledge, and the waste of perfectly enjoyable good food simply because people don’t know what to do with it.  Also I feel I have learnt so much it would be a good idea to pass it on! Oh - and I enjoy it, of course.

How does my writing process work?

I’m not sure it is organised enough to be called a process.  Once I have decided on a subject I make a “collection” of everything I might want to include from background info, quotes and anecdotes to, of course, recipes and foodie ideas.  If there is enough to make something worth reading I then sort it under various headings and start writing. Anything I am not sure of I type in red to go back to. Any information from elsewhere I type in purple so as not to plagiarise anyone. I test recipes that I am not totally sure of, take pics and go for it!  Part of the “process” involves grabbing any opportunity I can to write when my real man doesn’t have the telly on which really distracts me!

Links in the chain:

I can’t find the start of the chain (!) but here are the most recent ones:


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Boost your Libido!

Just a quickie because "unfortunately" I am in the Caribbean (my home for many years) where there is limited internet access but unlimited sun, rum and good friends.

Ever since I started writing my father in law (who passed on 18 months ago … but see here for a picture of him in his magnificent youth!) said that I shouldn't waste my time writing about food, I should write about sex as that it what sells.

I have very slightly taken his advice and written a short ebook on aphrodisiacs …

I did a fair bit of research (or “sitting on the settee” as my real man calls it) to come up with what seem to be the 17 most-likely-to-be-aphrodisiac foods and then given some background on each one, some ideas of what to do with them plus a recipe or two and a little bit about their nutritional benefits as they relate to the libido. 

Naturally I have also included a few rather suggestive food photos (sadly I couldn't muster one for all 17 foods), some rude comments and some double entendres.