Archive for ‘Cuppa’

September 22, 2014

My new book cover is here!

by Penny BroJacquie

The time has come for the secret to be revealed. A secret which is dreadful! Har har har!

It seems that I have a new book coming out and today I have the pleasure to get its cover revealed.

So here it is…

vintage old paper with copy space

Book Title: ‘The Undead Must Die’

Book #1 in The Order of the Black Rose series but can be read as a standalone.

Author: Penny BroJacquie

Release Date: November 2014


Floriana, a British art student, travels to Greece to admire and study the magnificent ancient Greek artefacts. She couldn’t imagine though that a morning excursion to cape Sounion would turn to an agonizing race across Europe.

Surrounded by mysterious sects, presumptive killers and black roses, unexperienced and clumsy Floriana discovers with horror she is the keeper of the secret that can save humanity of its most dreadful enemy: undeath.

If you want to stay posted about my new book updates, please follow me on




Now let’s raise our glasses!

September 21, 2014

Shh.. I have a secret to share…

by Penny BroJacquie

I had promised to share with you some great news. So, tomorrow is the day. I’m going to reveal my little secret.

Any guesses on what’s about?

Come on, it’s easy!


September 12, 2014

‘And this gives life to thee…’

by Penny BroJacquie

Daily Prompt:


‘Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?’


Tom Hiddleston! Without a doubt! Why? Find out yourselves…


July 17, 2014

Flowers in the ruins

by Penny BroJacquie


The last seven years I had dived to the deepest parts of my soul. I had to deal with a toxic workplace friendship that derailed my professional career as a journalist, I had to cope with my mother’s depression, I had to face friendships that made me feel small and unhappy.

The sudden loss of a close friend of mine was devastating but at the same time it was the light at the end of the tunnel. It was then when I realised I wasn’t happy with the way my life was.

When I was made redundant, six months ago, it was the happiest time of my life in seven years. I was ready for a career change and the timing was perfect.

I was finally free.

With the redundancy payment, I’ve been able to pay my living and to organise my next professional step. Writing, crafting, baking and traveling have been my truest passions since my childhood. So I rolled up my sleeves to find a way to work it out.

My country Greece is in the middle of recession but I’m determined to keep fighting.

I opened two Etsy shops, one with handmade jewellery and one with digital photography. I finished the travel guide I always wanted to write and I’m ready to self publish.

I have a lot to learn,  And who knows, maybe I’ll be able to finish the novel I started writing two years ago.

There always be flowers growing in the ruins.

July 24, 2012

“Shaken, not stirred”

by Penny BroJacquie

It’s summer, it’s hot, it’s time for Greek frappé coffee!

For Greek people frappé coffee is not just another kind of a cold beverage; it’s an all season passion. Frappé coffee is very popular in Greece and Cyprus especially in the summertime. It’s been part of the daily Greek culture.

Although the word frappé is french, Frappé coffee (or Café frappé) was invented by a Greekman. Myth has it that during the 1957 International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki a Greek tradesman called Yannis Dritsas was exhibiting a Nestlé chocolate beverage. It was new to the market, it was being mixed by milk and it was shaked. During a coffee break one of the employees, Dimitris Vakondios, was looking for a way to have his usual instant coffee made but he couldn’t find any hot water. So he mixed instant coffee grains with cold water and ice cubes in a shaker and got them shaken.

A cold beverage with a thick frothy layer at the top was created and soon after became the national coffee drink of Greece!

Frappé coffee may also be served with evaporated or fresh milk rroducing the highly acclaimed frapógalo as it’s called in Greek slang.

So… Frappé anyone?

April 11, 2012

Kemberlee Shortland’s step-by-step guide for aspiring authors

by Penny BroJacquie

In modern world people feel the intense need of self expression. The rapid development of modern technologies have given people the opportunity to express themselves artistically in a easier way. The book industry couldn’t be an exception and aspiring authors have much more opportuinities to see their books being published. But what are their options?

Kemberlee Shortland, author of the Irish Pride series and part owner in Tirgearr Publishing,  provides a step-by-step guide to to every aspect of publishing with some solid advices on self publishing.

–              Ok Kemberlee, let’s say I’ am an aspiring author, which I am, and I have just finished my very first novel.  I want of course to get it published. I don’t have an agent; I don’t think a traditional publisher would be interested in my work, so everything leads to self-publishing. Does that make sense to you?

I understand how some people would think self-publishing is the only answer. But you need to ask yourself why you think a publisher wouldn’t be interested in your story?

Have you considered small press? Don’t let the name fool you. There’s nothing small about small press. They take up a huge market share between the dwindling legacy publishers and self-publishing.

Small press was borne out of necessity. Legacy publishers are picky about what they publish and usually stick to standard publishing models because those books have traditionally been the money-earners. This can be discouraging to new authors.

Small press has always been a lot more flexible when it comes to what they publish. For example, vampire stories and erotica have become mainstream reading because small presses took a chance on these genres for many years when legacy publishers wouldn’t, or because erotica authors had to go to special publishers for their books. Because of that brave step, small presses have grown exponentially and have made such a huge impact in the industry that legacy publishers have been forced to change how they do business.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with self-publishing, but I believe authors should get as much experience first, learn how industry works, before jumping into self-publishing. I hear so many horror stories of first time authors who self-publish and it goes horribly wrong because they don’t know how the industry works or what’s involved in bringing a book to publication. Starting with a small press and learning the business is a great start for new authors. It’s like flying planes. One can’t just get into the plane and fly. One needs lessons first on safety,  how the controls work, how to fly, and most importantly, how to land at the destination.

–              I am quite satisfied by the result of my work and so is my mum who was the first person to read it. Now, let’s see, what’s next? An editor maybe? How hard is it to find one?

Editors are a dime a dozen, or so the saying goes. Today, editors are around every corner. Anyone can call themselves an editor, and do, but that doesn’t mean they’re competent or qualified. Good editors are hard to find and are very expensive. Not many self-publishing authors can afford that.

One of the best ways for an author to have some preliminary editing done on their book is to work with a good critique partner. A ‘crit partner’ is essential for many writers. Ideally, both of you are working on books and critiquing each other’s work. You each point out things like plot inconsistencies, grammatical errors, slow points in the story, misspellings, context errors, and more. Working with a crit partner is a one-on-one relationship with another writer who shares the same goals as you.

And it’s important to remember that family and friends are biased. If you want a true view of your work, you need to work with people outside your comfort zone. Your crit partner is a good start. There are also crit groups, which have three or more people in the group who usually write in the same genre. As with a one-on-one partner, the group shares each other’s work amongst themselves and helps the book be in presentable and submission-ready condition.

When you feel your book is ready, start submitting to publishers who publish your kind of story or where you think your book might be a good fit.

If you’re definitely going the route of self-publishing, then it will help if you start saving money as soon as possible so you can pay for a good and reputable professional editor when you’re ready. Get references from several other self-published authors to see who they used. An editor’s name that keeps coming up is a good sign that the editor is busy and good at their job.

And yes, there are a lot of writers out there who also hire themselves out for editing. Do your research! Writers who have many books out have experience in the industry. Ask which other authors they’ve worked with in the past. Get references. But think twice if an author only has one or two books out or don’t have any qualifications in the business. Go for experience!

–              Do I have look for a proofreader too?

I use proofreaders for every book my company publishes. Every book goes through an editing process, but when you look at a story so many times, author and editor can still miss things. A proofreader is a neutral person who reads the book for the first time just before publication to be *sure* everything is right. Any little things can be corrected easily before the book goes to publication.

–              The final edit is done and my story is now ready to become a book. What are the options for self-publishing?

This depends on what you want. If you want just digital publishing (ebooks) you need to be sure the book is formatted correctly before it’s submitted to websites that sell ebooks . . . Kindle and Smashwords are the two big ones. If your book meets Smashwords’ guidelines, they will give the book Premium Status, which includes them listing you on Barnes & Noble (Nook), Sony, iTunes/iBook (Apple), and other sites.

If you want print books, CreateSpace at Amazon is a popular option. There are also places like Lightning Source who will not only print your book, but put it on distribution lists for bookstores. CreateSpace is just for Amazon sites, but Lightning Source has offices around the world so your book can be listed in American bookstores as well as British, Irish and some European ones too.

–              Should I consider engaging a small publishing company even if I have to pay a fee for their services?

If a publisher asks for money from you to publish your book, this is called vanity publishing. It’s another form of self-publishing. Their fee covers minor editing and cover design, and makes your book available in print. Some of these companies work on a ‘print on demand’ (POD) basis and sell your book through their website and give you some type of royalty. Other companies will require you to order a set number of books, and their final price is determined on that number of books. Then you’re left with selling and distributing the books yourself.

If you’re looking at a small publishing company, why not go through traditional methods and find a small press who will offer you a contract for your book? They will work with you to edit your book, design the cover, format the book and make it available for sale. While they’re doing this, you can be writing your next book.

–              Eventually I can’t afford submitting to small publishing company, so I have to do it myself. My book needs a cover. And formatting. HELP!

These are two more costs to consider, aside from editing and proofreading—cover design and formatting!

Covers are usually made up of several images that are layered together. Sometime two images, but sometimes as many as five or six! These images have to be purchased. They can average from around $5-50 each, or more. And if you want to hire a photographer yourself to so a personalized photo shoot for your book, you’re talking about location fees, models fees, photographer fees, travel expenses, etc. Some cover design companies will do ‘cheap’ covers for $15-50, but the covers are usually ready-made and the author’s name and book title are added on for an extra fee. Sometimes these covers suit their purpose, but many are very cheap looking and unattractive. It really pays in the end to hire a good cover artist to do it properly because the cover helps in attracting readers who are your buyers.

One big thing a self-publishing author needs to do is decide on a cover and stick with it. I see a lot of self-publishing authors changing covers time and again to attract buyers. This just confuses readers, and it’s unprofessional. A book should not be available to the public until it’s 100% ready, inside and out.

Formatting is very important for both ebooks and print, but it’s not an easy task. It’s time consuming and can be problematic, and every site has different requirements. Some writers opt to hire someone to do the formatting for them, but this is another added cost.

If you self-publish, look on Smashwords. They have a great free book on how to format digital books. Books loaded to this service are available for sale in all ereader formats on the Smashwords site, plus several other websites they own. AND they distribute to other 3rd party sellers as I’ve already mentioned.

Formatting is tricky and can be very stressful for first time authors to get right. Most people these days use MS Word for writing. There is a LOT of hidden coding in the Word program. You might not be able to see it, but when you try to load your book to one of the digital services and then look at it on your own ereader, you’ll see all the mistakes.

Much of the formatting can be done through Word ‘styles’. One would need a bit of technical experience to use these properly, but it’s not impossible for anyone to learn.

If a self-publishing author opts to hire someone to format the book, this can also be an expensive added expense, as they usually charge by the hour.

–              Once my book is finished, I need to find how to get it distributed. I’ve heard of the words Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Lulu, Createspace… I am not sure what exactly these words mean…

As above, if you publish through Smashwords, they sell the book themselves and on their own sister sites. They’ll also distribute to 3rd party sellers like Apple, Sony and Barns and Noble. They’ll distribute to Kindle, but you’ll have better royalties by submitting it there yourself.

CreateSpace only sells your printed book through Amazon. You can buy copies and distribute them yourself, but this is costly and time-consuming. Wouldn’t you rather be writing?

Also, you want your book available in the busiest and most popular websites . . . Kindle and Smashwords being the top two. Also Apple and Barnes and Noble. Places like Lulu and Scribd are also places to sell, BUT they’re not very popular when compared to Kindle or Smashwords. Kindle is the most popular ereader at the moment so a majority of your sales will come from there. People with Kindle can turn on their device, bring up your book on the Kindle store and click one button to buy it. Easy.

–              My book is finally published! I opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate but now I have to sell some copies of my book to cover the expenses. Time for the hard part: promotion. Any good solid tips?

Self-publishing authors have to work harder than any other type of author to sell their books. These authors don’t have a publisher behind them taking up some of the slack.

First let’s look at some basic costs for a self-published book (US dollars)—

Book Editing (averaging $3 per page for a 300 page book) = $900

Cover Design (averaging 3 images, 300 dpi resolution, print book and artist fees) = $250

Formatting (averaging 2 hours at $25 per hour) = $50

Sub-Total just to get the book ready to publish = $1200

If you go through CreateSpace, there aren’t any set-up fees, but if you use a company like Lightning Source, you could pay several hundred dollars in set-up fees. But let’s assume you’re using CreateSpace.

Let’s assume the book is selling for $10. CreateSpace will take about half of that before you’re paid your share . . . about $5. How many books will you have to sell to make back your $1200 investment? 240. How much to make a profit? 241. How much to make it worth doing it again? Ideally, you should triple your investment ($3600 or 720 copies sold). The first one-third pays your expenses, the second one-third funds the next book and the last one-third is for your savings account.

If you’re selling the same book digitally, you have the same costs for editing, cover and formatting. But the book is half the cost. If you sell that digital book for $5, you’ll make around 70% royalties . . . about $3.50. You’ll then have to sell 343 copies of your book digitally to earn back your investment, or as above, sell 1029 copies of the book before you can afford to do it again.

Something to consider when choosing print vs digital books . . . digital books outsell print 3-to-1 at the moment. You may have to sell more digital books to earn back your investment, but those digital copies will sell three times faster than print. And depending on the genre, the book could even sell ten times faster than print.

To make any sales for either format, you need effective marketing: book tours, ads in relevant periodicals, join groups online where you can talk about your books, host contests, set up a newsletter, book-signings in local bookstores if you have print copies, etc.

You also need a web presence: an author website, an active blog, be active on sites like Facebook and Twitter, perhaps also LinkedIn, etc. Use apps like NetworkedBlogs to link all of your accounts together.

If you have Facebook, be sure you have an author page hanging on your main page. An author page is a great place for fans to visit you as an author. Use that web address rather than your main one when you advertise your books. Leave your main page for family and friends. The separate page is for your book fans.

Media sites are very important. Go to where the people are, make friends, create links with people, befriend peers and readers alike, etc.

You also need to form a good relationship with several active reviewers. Reviewers will read your book (which you send them after querying) and give it their honest review. Those reviews are posted on their own websites as well as Amazon. You can also post their reviews on your own website.

–              Do I have to build a personal website or create a Facebook page?

See above. But yes, you definitely need a personal website. Think of your website as a store. In your store, you’re selling your book(s). Your author site is where you showcase all of your work in one place . . . like delicate china on the shelf. You can post chapter excerpts and blurbs, book reviews, and most importantly, ‘buy links’ . . . places where your books are sold. Your website also should have a page about you, too, maybe some personal photographs. Also a way to contact you, and perhaps a links page for other places on the internet where readers can find you, such as Facebook, Twitter and the rest.

–              Now, can I sit down and relax or is there more hard work for me to do?

Of course there’s more hard work. You can’t have just one book!!


–              You have many books coming out this year. Which are they?

Writing as myself,, this year I have two novels coming out and two novelettes—


Rhythm of My Heart, Irish Pride Series, June 2012

Shape of My Heart, Irish Pride Series, November 2012


Moondance, May 2012

The Power of Love, November 2012

Writing under a pen name, Scarlett Valentine,,

I have two novellas coming out

Beguiler, June 2012, and Conquered, November 2012.

These are the next two books in The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter Series.

Awakening was the first book, release October 2011.

All of these books will be available through Tirgearr Publishing—

–              How do you get inspirited?

Anything can inspire stories. I love looking at photographs. They’re great inspiration.

My current novel in the Irish Pride Series, A Piece of My Heart, was actually inspired by one of our dogs, Daisie. The two dogs in the story are actually both part of our Daisie. Daisie’s original name when we adopted her was Molly. This is the name we used for one dog in the story. But Daisie’s life started similarly to Jess’s, the second dog in the story. While this is a romance story, the plot touches on animal cruelty. You’ll have to read the book to see exactly how our dog inspired this story, but I promise it all ends happily!

–              What’s your advice to an aspiring author?

Read as much as possible in the genre in which you want to write and publish.

And sit your butt in a chair and write. Treat writing like any other job—set working times, focus, do the job—and you’ll find your hard work pays off.

–              And, excuse me; you have worked for Clint Eastwood?!

Yes, I had the pleasure of working for Mr. Eastwood J I grew up in a small town where he (still) lives when he’s not in Hollywood making movies. Clint frequented our family’s business as we did his . . . the famous Hog’s Breath Inn, which is a restaurant and bar. When I worked for Clint, it was at his luxury hotel, Mission Ranch. It was one of the most fun jobs I’ve had because so many celebrities came up from Hollywood for their holidays. And Clint is a fabulous person in real life. A genuine gentleman with a boy’s heart and sense of humor.



–              Are you are part owner in Tirgearr Publishing?

Yes. I co-own the company with my husband. Tirgearr Publishing is part of our company Tirgearr Design and Publishing. I’ve run Tirgearr Design for twelve years now, designing websites and doing graphic design. A few years ago I toyed with some self-publishing projects. We decided to start Tirgearr Publishing as a public business, launching on 29 February this year. So far, so good!

–              What services do you offer and how you select the authors you work with?

Tirgearr Publishing is a full-service small press. We operate as any other publishing company—we have a submissions process, fully edit all books we contract, provide cover art for each book, do all the formatting, etc to see the book to publication. We are a royalty-paying publisher with a very generous contract package.

We work one-on-one with each author through every step of the publishing process and give authors a say in how their book is handled. This includes being active in the editing process, having a say on cover art, and helping chose release dates that suit their schedules.

As a publisher, we also handle a certain amount of media. We have active accounts at Facebook, Twitter, NetworkedBlogs, LinkedIn, Blogger, Tumblr, GoodReads, and offer an RSS feed. We also have a YouTube channel where authors with book video trailers are listed.

For our authors, we offer a private newsgroup where we come together to talk about company goings-on, author concerns, share accolades and reviews . . . basically, it’s a private place to talk shop, as they say, away from the public eye.

We’re very active in helping support our authors. It takes a little pressure off them while also getting our name out there more.

For those who may be curious, Tirgearr is pronounced ‘teer gar’. It comes from two Irish words . . . tir = land, gearr = short. You can say that Tirgearr is a made-up Irish translation of our name, Shortland!

For more information on Kemberlee Shortland or Tirgearr Publishing, please see—

January 2, 2012

Live your life

by Penny BroJacquie

June 19, 2011

Bethany Shady: From Lost to Greek Compass with an… Interview

by Penny BroJacquie

Can you really believe that it’s been a year since Lost finale? For six year we’ve been trying to understand what was going on that mysterious island. I was searching for new theories online when I discovered Geronimo Jack’s Beard, the podcast that our beloved “dude” Hurley and his in real life sweetheart, Bethany Shady had created.

Lost is history but I kept following Beth on Facebook and Twitter, as she turned to be a witty girl with imagination and great sense of humour! Recently Beth celebrated the publication of her first book, The Interview by James Leigh! Who really is Beth and why she has a moustache?

She explains everything in this exclusive interview:

Q. To us Lost fans, you are a very familiar person and maybe a subject of jealousy! You see you were an extra in several episodes of the show, portraying either a survivor of Flight 316, or an an Iraqi woman, even a party guest during Hurley’s surprise birthday. Being part of one of the biggest shows in the history of tv. Was that as magical as it appears to be?

BS.  Being a background actor/extra was a lot of fun but that’s because I had a lot of friends on set with the cast and crew. I got perks like I was allowed to take naps in Jorge’s trailer during down time and go first in line with the cast to the catering truck when lunch was ready. So for me, it was a fun way to spend time with my friends. But being an extra in general is exhausting. We had really long days. The airport scene for the Ajira flight was a 16 hour day. It’s not as glamorous as it may seem, but it’s fun to try once.

Q. Any funny moments on set to remember?

BS. I was there for a lot of great moments on set. I used to go to set with Jorge a lot, especially if there was a big explosion or something cool happening. The props guy and I set off a stink bomb during the scene with Michael’s ghost and Hurley in the jungle in season 6 and some people got really pissed. It was quite entertaining.

Q. Jorge Garcia and you created a blog and podcast about the last season of Lost called Geronimo Jack’s Beard. How on the earth did you choose that name?

BS. We were on the phone with our friend Ralph (who I now do The Tail End Podcast with) and he was trying to come up with a name for his new podcast. I think I suggested Geronimo Jack, and Jorge then said Geronimo Jack’s Beard! When Ralph didn’t end up using that name we decided that we should create our own podcast and use it.

Q. Which was your favourite moment of Lost? 

BS. My fave scene is still from season 1 in the episode “Walkabout” at the very end when we see Locke is in a wheelchair and then on the beach moving his toes, and Michael Giacchino’s music swells. It’s such an emotional moment and gets me every time.

Q. You go online by the name Sidekick22? What does that mean? 

BS. Jorge and I went to a comic book convention in San Jose in 2008 and a guy took a picture of us at the booth and then posted it online with the caption, “Jorge Garcia and Sidekick22”, and then name just stuck.

Q. You’ve been a writer since you were 6 years old. Kids usually try to learn how to write at that age. It seems to me that you were destined to be a writer. Your first book “The Bird That Kept Coming By Me” was published by your teacher with the use of some colored masking tape and cardboard. Was that the turning point? And what was next? 

BS. I’ve definitely always wanted to be a writer. When I was in the first grade my teacher encouraged our class to write as much as possible. She had us write short stories which she then would “publish” for us and each book was placed in our classroom’s little library area and you could check out your own book or your friends’ books. It was such a creative idea and I adore her for doing it. I’ve been writing books ever since!

Q. So far you’ve been very productive on writing! You’ve published children’s books, you’ve worked as a journalist, as a freelancer and for a magazine called Tastes Like Chicken (another awkward name). You’ve written a lot of short stories and you’ve just published your very first novel! What of all those represents you the most?

BS. My novel definitely represents me the most. The freelance work I do is just business, something to make money. The things that I wrote for Tastes Like Chicken were humorous pieces, fake news articles and such that were fun but weren’t really what I was passionate about writing. I had fun writing children’s books but the hard part about them is that once you’ve written them you still have to find an artist to illustrate it, so that’s not my cup of tea. Writing a novel is a lone project and it takes a lot of discipline and dedication and I love it. I can create any world I want  and somewhat put myself in it.

Q. Your novel is called The Interview. It’s under the name of James Leigh and under a moustache! Who’s James Leigh after all?

BS. My middles names are James and Leigh. I decided to publish under those names (and moustache) because I wanted to be published under a male name. It just made more sense to me.

Q. What’s the story of The Interview about?

BS. It’s basically about a rich guy who never leaves his house except to go on job interviews for jobs he doesn’t really need. He’s entertained by being a jerk to the people interviewing him. As he goes on one of his interviews, he meets a receptionist named Grace and falls instantly in love with her. He decides to actually take the job, and the rest you’ll just have to read…

Q. And how can anyone buy your book, especially if one lives in Greece? 

BS. People in the US and parts of Europe can go here to buy it:

But if you’re unable to use that link to purchase a copy you can email me at and we will figure out a way to get a copy to you.

Q. Do you have any other novels in the works? 

BS. Yes! I am currently in the midst of writing a novel called “64 Building” which is about a teenager who’s father is transferred to be an officer on Alcatraz and he and his family move onto the island. It’s a really fun novel to write because of all the research involved.

Q. You are from Milwaukee. What does Milwaukee means to you, how would you describe it?

BS. Milwaukee is a fun place to go back and visit but I would never move back there. The winters are way too cold and I like living near the ocean. I moved to California when I was 17 and I’ve kind of felt like a west coast girl ever since…or a Hawaii one !

March 28, 2011


by Penny BroJacquie


Greece is my country, Athens is where I live and I’ll try to introduce you in the Greek way of living!

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