Monday, 25 February 2013

Rae's Catastic Collection of Videos

Okay, a couple of weeks ago I asked people for their favourite cat videos. And this is why! In no particular order, here's a selection of my favourite cat videos. Enjoy!

(For those who aren't in the know, Professor Meowingtons and Miss Nyan Cat own electronica artist Deadmau5. Yep, the irony's lost on no one!)




Got a favourite cat video? Tell us what it is in the comments!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Inspirational Interview 4 - Kitty

Hi Kitty!

Thanks for agreeing to talk to me. It's great to have you here!

First off, tell us a little about yourself.

You know Rae, this is usually the hardest question of all, so where to begin. I’m a 40 year old mother of a beautiful 12 year old daughter, and married to a good man. We are animal lovers and belong to 2 Chihuahua’s, 3 Cats, and 3 Ferrets. We often find ourselves rehabilitating wildlife when we can and are currently looking to buy our first home. I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Marketing in August of 2012 and now run a very successful publishing business known as GMTA Publishing. This year we have just started our imprints and intend to unveil the sites for those very soon!

You run publishing house Great Minds Think Aloud. How did come to get up GMTA, and what was the inspiration behind it? Were there any frustrations along the way, if so how did you overcome them? What's the best thing about running a publishing house?

Well Great Minds Think Aloud actually began two years ago as a book club/review hub. I began to make a lot of friends both publisher and author as well as many others and found out just how much talent was out there waiting for someone to come along and publish their books. For a year I learned as much as I could about the business and began gathering thoughts and ideas and all the information I could find. Early January of 2012 I decided I may as well jump in with both feet. I began to publish and the start was very bumpy. Starting any business involves a lot of trial and error, staying up all hours of the night (which I still do) and working HARD.

This year it seems I have learned a lot, gone through many changes and cultivated GMTA into a serious publishing business. We are very picky about the manuscripts we accept, more-so than we were in the beginning. We have a strict policy in place for submissions and we have obtained the services of some excellent editors that we recommend to authors that do not have their own. GMTA has become a business that is more about quality than quantity and we intend to remain that way. After an overwhelming response that started at the beginning of the year we have actually now closed submissions until July or at least we plan to open them back up in July given that we catch up with what we already have.

All in all GMTA is doing really well and we have a feeling that 2013 will be our year to shine! The best thing about running a publishing house is meeting some amazingly talented writers. I also enjoy the fact that I get to meet them personally. We don’t operate like many publishing houses that make their authors submit through an agent, instead we allow authors to submit directly to us and I think that makes a huge difference.

What are your hopes and dreams for GMTA? What kinds of books do you publish? My hopes and dreams for GMTA is that we will grow to be supremely successful. I want to make ‘the big six’ into ‘the big seven’ I would love to either become an imprint of one of the larger corporate conglomerates of to become a corporate conglomerate ourselves! As for books we publish almost every genre save memoirs and poetry.

You do a heck of a lot of work! I'm always seeing you online and am constantly inspired by how much you do. How do you keep yourself going? What inspires you? A lot of people use this opportunity to throw in a long speech about their love of coffee and though I do love it, that isn’t what keeps me going. What keeps me going is the genuine love I have for literature and the undying need to produce a book that people will enjoy. I intend to work hard for all my authors and that is why you see me on all hours of the night plugging away with promoting our books and trying to make sure that every single person on all social networks see what we’re doing. I want our authors to succeed and be happy in their experience with us and I want them to know that I will always work hard for each and every one of them no matter if it means me staying up until all hours of the night and morning and some of the next night as well! Lol

What would your advice be to anyone who wants to start their own business? Do it! First and foremost you have to bit the bullet, jump in with both feet and no matter how high the water gets doggy paddle like hell! In fact it’s a good idea to have some water-wings as well just in case. It’s not easy, I will definitely never say that but it takes tons of dedication, a true love for what you do, and it takes discipline, and above all patience. You have to work hard to create anything worth-while, but if you try hard enough you can succeed. No dream is unattainable and no goal too high!

As we know, there are millions of authors out there, some of who will be reading this. What advice would you give to authors who are looking to submit their work to a publisher? What advice would you give them once they've been published? Let these readers know you are here and you’re not going away until they read your book and give that feedback good or bad! One thing you should always, always remember as well, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and even when it was done there were people that didn’t like it. You’ll always find your critics, and they will, at times, be harsh but even Tolkien had his critics, so did C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin, some of the greatest and most amazing authors in the world had their critics for as far back as we can remember so don’t let that get you upset. There are worse things in life than someone telling you that your book is no good. Trust me, you’ll have just as many or more telling you that it is GREAT and… remember too, opinions are like… well you know the saying.

The world is a dark place right now. If you could address a global audience, what message would you give to the world? I would tell them that it is time to pull together. You’re right Rae it is a dark world and there are some very bad people out there but if the good ones don’t start doing something about it it’s only going to get worse. Our planet is in serious trouble in more ways than one. From the bad economy, to the pollution problems, to the problems with society as a whole, it’s not getting any better and it can’t until we start fighting back. Until we learn to stand as a unit regardless of race, creed, or religion, there’s no hope for anyone. The key to that is to get rid of the hatred, be kind to your fellow man and try to live life as you should, treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Finally, where can we find you online? Everywhere! Literally that’s almost true. If you Google GMTA you are likely to find something on us somewhere. But if you really want to find us here are some sites that may interest you and we’ll have others up soon:

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Battlefield of the Mind

On any given night in America 125,000 veterans are homeless and sleeping on the streets. Lack of family, social and medical support has driven them there, people often unwilling to understand what is going on within them. In London, England, the number of homeless veterans sleeping on the street is estimated to be about 1100. These are the forgotten, the ones pushed away because their usefulness has, in the eyes of the people around them, come to an end.

Battlefield Of The Mind is a new documentary which delves in to the life of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental health problem which is linked to their experiences in the theatre of war. With many now doing several deployments, they find themselves unable to switch off and return to civilian life. They find that what they have experienced in battle, the deaths of friends and innocents, and the injustices of war, life changing. Battle scarred, they return home to find that the support they so desperately need is lacking, not just from family and friends, but also from health services and the government and military they entrusted their lives to. On the side of friends and family, it is often not a lack of compassion but a lack of understanding. Tragically, mental health issues are still the invisible illnesses which many believe should be brushed beneath the carpet and forgotten about.

The film makes for some unsettling and worrying viewing, showing mental health issues in a way which they have never been shown. Everything has been captured for the world to see; the pain, the agony, the frustration. It's a film I challenge anyone to watch. If you come away feeling angry, hurt, upset, and with a fire in your belly to right the wrongs of this world, then you're on the right track. Cliches are irrelevant when it comes to this film, but it truly does take you on a roller-coaster of emotions.

Thankfully, Battlefield does show us what is being done. Charities such as Veterans First and the Pathway Home are stepping in to fill the void, offering support and help to those who want it. Through their programs, the veterans go on to find homes, employment which matches the skills they used in the military, and a life outside of PTSD. We get to hear of several success stories, including that of Pirate Mike who, while filming was taking place, went and became a part of the Veterans First family.

PTSD in veterans is a global problem and Strine gives us a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg. This is a film which needs to be seen by everyone from politicians, to the military, to the media, to charities, to health care workers. It's a film which I believe will not only open eyes, but will become a tool in helping to combat the agony of PTSD.

The consideration which the crew show to the veterans they feature is second to none. This is not an exposé. This is a piece of work which refuses to rely on fear mongering and gossip. Instead, it takes our hand and leads us in to a world which needs to be seen.

Fran Strine's Battlefield Of The Mind is a powerful and compassionate look at a side of war many people refuse to think about.

Battlefield of the Mind is now available to download and stream at
The DVD and soundtrack, featuring many of today's best rock and metal artists, are scheduled for release on April 24th.

For help, support, information, or to get involved, please visit Combat Stress (UK) or Veterans First (Orange County, USA)

Inspirational Interview 3 - Susan Harris

One of the people I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the past 12 months is author Susan Harris. Based in Canada, her books are beautiful tomes of information and stories, ones which can be used in every day life. She kindly agreed to an interview so, without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to the wonderful Susan!


Hi Susan!

RG- Thank you for agreeing to talk to me. I really appreciate it!
SH - My pleasure,Rae.

RG-You live a really interesting life and now live in Canada. Tell us a little about yourself and your life.

SH- I was born in the idyllic island of Trinidad, and moved to Canada 15 years ago. I'm married and have one daughter, and with the cats, we live on the prairies of Saskatchewan. I was a teacher for 12 years and later worked in Human Resources and project management. Over the last few months I've become a full time writer and speaker- and it has been rewarding, hectic and fun.

RG- You have two books out at the moment, Golden Apples in Silver Settings and Little Copper Pennies. They're both beautifully written and really inspiring. What inspired you to write them? Where did the ideas come?

SH-I actually have three books:

First, Golden Apples in Silver Settings: Having been a Christian speaker for some time now, I wanted to celebrate a legacy of 20 years. I’ve also always wanted to write a book, so I merged the two together. I had kept some notes on the talks I did, so it was easy to compile them into a book. God’s word never changes, and I thought that words that blessed people years ago will bless them today. The title was inspired from Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (KJV). The silver settings are interpreted as the geographic locations where I spoke.

Second, Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the life of the Canadian one-cent piece (1858-2013).
As a (former) teacher, I was in the habit of making up stories to bring across abstract concepts to students. As a mom, I entertained my daughter with tales and imagination. So when I heard the news that the penny was going to be eliminated, I immediately thought: “If this penny could speak, what would it say of the 155 years it has been in existence?” And the stories began. I interviewed people and got the once-upon-a-time worth of the purchasing power of the penny, used my own experiences, and added history and factual information for an educational component.

Third, Little Copper Pennies for Kids. When I shared my manuscript for Little Copper Pennies to a teacher -librarian friend she commented: "Let me put a bug in your ear. Have you considered a picture book for children?" I thought about it, ran with the idead, and that book was published on December 7 last year.

RG- I really love Little Copper Pennies and am saddened by the loss of the Canadian penny (even though I'm from the UK!). It feels as though a piece of history is being wiped out. What provoked you to write the book? Do you think it's right to phase out the penny? Do you feel a sense of loss at its demise?

SH- The main reason for eliminating the penny is that it is a liability on the balance sheet. It cost 1.06 cents to make a penny which is worth 1.00 cents. So the sheer economics of the penny, coupled with the fact that billions of pennies are hoarded by citizens are good reasons. Others include the environmental impact through recycling the coins and the time and cost by institutions to process pennies. I feel a sense of sadness at the removal of the penny. It was created in 1858 to introduce the decimal system, so it is truly historic. I am fond of it but I recognize that an ending to all fine things must be (and it gave me two books!)

RG- You held a retirement party for the penny. How did that go?! What did you all get up to?

SH- The penny retirement party was fun filled and nostalgic. Though the stormy weather and the flu bug deterred a few, we had a scrumptious buffet dinner, followed by a game of penny toss. It was neat to see adults have so much fun as each tried to get their five pennies to the dish. The prize was penny candy (now worth 25 cents each). There was a "guess the number of pennies" and the prize was a coin folder that holds small cents (the size of the penny was reduced in 1920. I showed a PowerPoint presentation with some highlights from my appearances to schools, and images of significant pennies from 1858-2012. There were two speeches including greetings from the member of Parliament for my locale. I finished by reading the Eulogy found in Chapter 16 of Little Copper Pennies. Many described the evening as historic.

RG- What inspired you to become a writer?

SH- I read avidly as a child and youth, and my English teacher at high school would often read my compositions to the class. I guess the seeds were germinated in those years. People enjoyed hearing me speak, and it boosted my confidence that they might likely enjoy my writing too.

RG- You work really hard on the promotional side, something many people struggle with. Where do you get your ideas from? What drives you in your work? What advice would you give to other authors?

SH- I am driven and self-motivated. I use my experience in project management to scale my timeline and work within deadlines. It is imperative to have deadlines, milestones and measurable objectives in any project, and I am cognizant of these in my work. I've outlined in practical terms how to do this in Chapter 2 of my book "Golden Apples in Silver Settings". The chapter is called "Turning dreams into Reality". I'd advise authors to create a detailed plan and have someone hold them accountable to it. Treat your writing seriously. Write first and edit later. Don't let the editorial aspect block your creativity. Keep a notebook and pencil handy to jot down thoughts when inspiration hits. Look for freshness in mundane topics around you. Join a group to get encouragement from other author. (I'm accepting friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.)

RG- What advice would you give to new authors, particularly those who are looking for publishers or agents?

SH- E-readers offer a fresh, untapped world to authors who are rejected by publishing houses and agents. I'd say try your hand at an ebook and get known. Call your local television station and newspapers. These media likes to showcase local talent and you can get publicity there. Then try again with the agents.

RG- You really are a beacon of hope, light and inspiration, something which this world desperately needs right now. What message would you give to the world?

SH- My inspiration and hope comes from God, and the faith I have that He will open doors for me that no one can shut. I'd advise anyone to include God in their plans, knowing that those plans are for good and not for evil, to give a future and a hope. Keep the company of optimistic people, and always be an encourager to the not-so-happy ones.

RG- Finally, where can we find you online?

SH- Find me and my books at,, Amazon
On Facebook at Goldensusanharris. On Twitter @Susanharris20

RG- Thank you for taking the time out to talk to me, Susan! Take care, and speak to you soon!
SH - Thanks Rae.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Rae's Guide To Author Promo

Or "What I've Learned After 10 Years Of Working In and Around Promotions".

Please don't take this as "Law". It's bits and pieces I've picked up over the years, and I'm always learning new things. That's half the fun! Anyway, I hope this helps you.

1. Get a website! You can't imagine how crucial this is. I've lost count of the number of authors I've come across who don't have a website. You have an average of 9 seconds to catch a person's attention and if they have to go scoring the internet for the information then you've lost them. Keeping it all in one place is easy. You can set up a website using simple services like Blogger and Wordpress. Buying domain names is simple and cheap. Mine cost £3 per year and come from Fasthosts. Nearly all domain companies will allow you to direct it to another address allowing you to hide the original address of the site.

2. Get a Facebook page.

3. Get a Twitter account.

4. Link your Twitter, Facebook and websites together so that they all update one another. This is easy to within Facebook and Twitter. I linked mine using Twitterfeed. Alternatively, you can use something like Tweetdeck to update your personal and professional Facebook and Twitter feeds at the same time. Tweetdeck also allows you to schedule posts for both Facebook and Twitter, which is great if you're going to be away.

5. Get a Rebelmouse account. Rebelmouse pulls the most popular posts from your website, Facebook and Twitter to give you your own, newspaper-like feed. It's still in beta testing but looks like it's going to be a great one stop shop for people who are looking for updates from you.

6. Make stuff. Seriously, make stuff! This is good if you don't have a physical product to sell (i.e. yours is an ebook only product). Take advantage of printers offers and have postcards, bookmarks and whatever else you fancy making up. I use Vistaprint and Print24. Get friends to create artwork for you. Make sure to send them a bit of money, or promise them a link on the back of any material you make with it. Alternatively, go and look on Flickr for Creative Commons licensed photos. Just remember to send the photographer a message asking to use their photo. If they don't reply, move on to the next photo you like. Please, please, please don't just steal it. Photographers are artists too!

7. Get involved in giveaways, especially if you have ebooks (no postage = GREAT!). Bookblogs have several groups dedicated to people offering books up for review. You'll also be able to find websites there as well.

8. If you have a physical product, give one away on Goodreads.

9. Get yourself a Goodreads account and get involved! Get reviewing books and chatting on groups.

10. Offer up your book for review. Take a look on Bookblogs for people who are offering to review books. Take a look at the lists of reviewers on Twitter and Goodreads and offer the book to anyone who reads your genre. Don't just send it to everyone and anyone. Pick carefully and stick to those who like your genre, or like a similar genre. Read their review policy carefully.

11. Social media's great. But don't sign up to a bunch of groups and pages just to plug your book. There are a number of groups and pages which are just for that, but don't sign up to people's personal pages just to leave your link there. The E-Reader House and The Independent Paperback Gift Shop are a couple of great guys who help indie authors.

12. If you want to promote your book on social media and not be seen as a spammer, get chatting to people. It's the best thing you can do, and you never know, you might make a few new friends along the way. It's one of the best things I've done and I've made some wonderful new friends through it. I know they're reading this, so hi, guys!

13. If you can, go to events, even if it's just one a year. If you can, rent a trade table. It's a great way to meet the people who'll read your books and to give away goodies. I did my first one last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I just regret I can't currently do all the ones I'm invited to. One day hopefully!

14. Blog about everything you find interesting. Offer free fiction on your website or blog. It doesn't have to be a lot. It could be scenes from your book. Or it could be complete stand alone short stories. It gives people an idea of your writing style and whether they'll enjoy it or not. Write about the funny, the silly, and the serious. You can find pretty much everything like that right here!

15. Enter your work in to competitions. You might not win anything. Or you might just sweep the top prize! I didn't think I'd get anything yet managed to win two Rainbow Awards. Never sell yourself too short!

16. Contact the local media. Bigger news sites often feed stories from local news media, especially if the story is interesting.

17. HAVE FUN!!! Promoting a book doesn't have to be a drag. You can have a whole bunch of fun and meet some awesome people along the way!

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to use the comments box and we'll put together a post of fresh, new ideas. Thank you for reading and keep smiling!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Rae's Favourite Videos Part 1

My Christmas video post was pretty popular so I thought I'd do it again! Here's some of my favourite videos (and/or songs) of the moment. Enjoy!



(For those who missed it, the final one is from my Dad's birthday last year. And the Gangnam Police one; go and donate at!)