There has been quite a lot of focus on the downloading of music tracks from 'free' sites and a number of attempts to end it. There has equally been a lot of opposition to any attempt to put a stop to the 'sale' by unauthorised sites of these 'free' recordings.
Recently I had the enjoyable experience of being interviewed online. Kura Carpenter, the designer of the cover art on two of my books,
I've just done an online interview. I've been interviewed on television several times for different things but this is really the first time I've been 'interviewed' online. It was a fascinating process, waiting for the question, then having lots of time to think of the answer, and type it up. In a way, of course, it gives you the opportunity to take your foot out of your mouth and avoid making a completely idiotic statement, or having to try and retrieve a situation immediately after you hear yourself saying something that can be misinterpretted or which opens that yawning chasm before you ...
Ever have one of those months where the momentum felt like an avalanche? April seems to have been a bit like that. In between some work on the house, writing - yes, there is another Harry Heron in the pipeline - promoting A Baltic Affair and the Harry Heron series, the month sort of flashed past.
From time to time I do a search of the web to see where my books pop up. I get some surprising results sometimes, like the fact that an Australian bookseller has three copies of A Baltic Affair on eBay. Sometimes it is a much better result - from my perspective - such as this one at Historic Naval Fiction. It actually lists A Baltic Affair and all the Harry Heron series, starting with Their Lordships Request and running through Out of Time, The Enemy is Within! and On the Run. Obviously I'm interested to see where I might be getting reviews and, I hope, sales.
Marketing your work, especially when you are engaged in self publishing or joint venture activities, is vital. It also takes a lot of time and effort, so it is nice to know that it is starting to pay. My recent sales report for A Baltic Affair from two of the Kindle sales points show that the book is getting noticed. That is very encouraging,
My good friend and fellow author has just released two of her titles on Kindle and if you are looking for good romantic stories with a distinctly African flavour, then
When is a "publisher" not a publisher? It appears to be a very good question at the moment, since there are the "traditional" publishers who have a 'stable' of authors they accept work from, and a small number of 'new' writers who are lucky enough to get something accepted through an agent. There are the 'no pretense' publishers like AuthorHouse, Xlibris and one or two others who will publish your work, do the interior design and even the cover for a fee, but that usually doesn't include editing or proof reading and 'marketing' is a considerable amount 'extra' on top. Now I read there is a third group.
In the slightly less than two months since A Baltic Affair became available through Amazon's Kindle bookstore, sales have gone very well. In fact, very encouragingly well. Especially as this is just one of the outlets currently selling it.
I seem to run out of day before I run out of jobs at the moment, and part of the problem is my new 'helper' - Harry vom Goldbachmoor. He's a Sheltie pup who, like all pups has two speed settings, flat out 'go' and 'slump.' Still, he's a fantastic little fellow, growing fast, endlessly amusing and absolutely devoted to us. But he doesn't 'help' when it comes to the task in hand - to revise the MS for my latest Harry Heron story.
I'm told that every author - except, perhaps, those on the "Best Seller" lists - has to put as much effort, if not more, into marketing and selling his or her work as they devote to creating it. So it is flattering to get a call from a small independent book store asking if you can supply a copy of your book for a customer.
Someone once said if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a duck. So, if it feels like a treadmill, it must be - right? Not necessarily, but it certainly seems like it. Chasing up enquiries, marketing activities, writing, and coping with our new pup are keeping me very active at present. Someone once told me that it's good to be busy - it means you're alive and making progress.
A Baltic Affair has gone digital. It s now available as an eBook from Kindle ($5.99 in the US, £ in the UK and €4.72 in the EU). It is now also on sale for Nook, iTunes Books, Adobe Reader and others. I'm delighted to have reached this market and look forward to being able to place other books on this platform in future.
The year is off to a great start from my perspective - Amazon has A Baltic Affair listed as available in the paperback format and I'm assured the e-formats will be on sale early next week. IndieGo ePublishing has done a great job of the design, inside and out, and Kura Carpenter's cover image is superb. Lightning source are the printers for IndieGo and I have to say they've done a great job as well.
All that remains now is for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, et al to get the book set up and on their sales sites.
Best New Year present an author can get I think.
From the back cover -
Captain Petroc Gray, commander of the ship-rigged sloop of war, HMS Kestrel, 22 guns, finds himself drawn into diplomacy, intrigue and espionage when he rescues the Freiherr von Dieffenbach and his family off the island of Rügen in the Baltic. The Freiherr proves to be an important and valuable connection in the struggle to beat the Napoleonic Continental blockade of British trade, and Petroc finds romance in the person of the Freiherr's daughter ...
But the shifting sands and changing moods of the Baltic and the North Sea coast are the least of the couple's problems as they navigate their way through the changing political alliances of the Northern European and Scandinavian states. Petroc must deal with his own family problems while taking care of his ship's company, the Freiherr's 'connections' and his Admiral's orders.
War, sea battles, storms, death and Napoleon's 'hundred days' leading to the defeat at Waterloo all conspire to frustrate Petroc's intention to seek Silke's hand in marriage right to the last ...
Well, there are only a few more hours left to 2012. It has been a challenging year in many respects, but it closes with a lot of positives, among them the publication of my historical novel, A Baltic Affair, some interest expressed in turning my Harry Heron scifi tales into a movie or a TV show, more interest in two more MS I am circulating
The release of A Baltic Affair frees me up for a couple of other projects now moving slowly toward, I hope, fruition. One is another Harry Heron adventure, this one - in my view - the best yet, and my revisions to my story on the life of St Patrick are also coming along well according to my editor. The Harry Heron story is the next in the series. Entitled The Outer Edge, it takes place over a two year period during which Harry and his friends must confront an ancient predator
IndieGo ePublishing has uploaded A Baltic Affair to Kindle and one or two other eBook outlets. It will soon also be available on iTunes as an "iBook" and with Nook and other e-reader suppliers. It's a little late as we had a couple of delays in getting the editing and set-up completed, and I hope to be able to post the links
I've just received the clean edited version of the MS for A Baltic Affair and must now go through it myself to agree the changes and alterations that have been made between myself and the editor. I have no doubt it will be OK, but one has to check. Possibly the best compliment the editor could give is to add with her report "I really enjoyed working on your book ...
A message from the publisher of A Baltic Affair today informs me that we are now in the final stages of the final edit. Ant day now I will get the final edited version for approval, then its all go for publication. Indiego ePublishing tell me that the eBook version should be available for sale by the middle of the month and the paper version just before Christmas.
My excursion into trying to write a film script has proved to be a real challenge in more ways than one. In a book one can build a character slowly, bring the person to life, with a background, future, quirks - all the human foibles. In a movie you have to launch them in, full on, larger than life and almost egoistic. There's no room for a build up, no room for frills, all of that has to be 'painted in' in the way the character is played,
The publication of A Baltic Affair has moved a step closer. We are now in the final editing process and hopefully we're at the final sprint to the finish now. I had originally hoped it would all come together in time to appear in October, but, as ever, that was over optimistic of me. Now I've completed the rewrites and additions the editor wanted, she's gone through them, and hopefully we're there.
I'm currently engaged in sorting out a short history of my former place of employment and doing a fair bit of research for it. It isn't just a 'pet project' it is part of a larger attemtp involving two other former members of the staff to bring together all the memories and all the history we can before it is lost.
I've been goofing off the last few days. I just needed a break and I picked up a book at random from my collection of favourite authors. It has been a while since I last read John Winton's classic "We Joined the Navy" but I'm finding it as fresh and as funny as the first time. Part of it is his superb eye for detail and his ability to translate it into words on the page.
Whaddayamenitsnovember? Where did October go? It's been a busy month, A Baltic Affair is making progress, the editor, publisher and I are getting there. There's some more to do on it, but we're over the hump.
More challenging is creating a movie script. That has been a learning curve
I think the title says it all really. Making the changes, additions and corrections the editor has flagged is taking a lot of thought and time - as you would expect. The key is to keep things in the right sequence, insert new points of view and comments in the right place so that, for instance, one group of characters are not describing an event or a letter that hasn't happened -
I now have the editors corrections and comments for the first 18 chapters and can see I have a fair bit of work to do to address the suggestions and revisions.
Someone once told me that when I retired I'd have all the time in the world to focus on what I really wanted to do. It doesn't seem to have worked out like that. I seem to run out of day before I've run out of things that need to be done. I make a point of trying to dedicate a specific time each day to writing. But ...
The editor is doing a final overhaul of my new book, A Baltic Affair, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it produces. I'm advised there are no 'story changes' just 'technical adjustments' for the most part. If, at the end of this process, we are both happy with the outcome the book will go into print as a paperback and as an eBook to be sold on Kindle, iPod,
Earlier today I got a message from the author of the blog that published the comments on my Harry Heron stories. Jonathon is entusiastic and provided me with a wealth of ideas and suggestions, even offering to help me set one of the stories up as a trial script for a 'pitch' to a producer. Clearly I am going to have to do a lot
Every so often one gets an accolade out of the blue. Today I have received a very unexpected, but extremely welcome one on a blog titled Save The British Film Industry. Entitled "Three Cheers fo Patrick Gray Cox," the author calls for my Harry Heron books to be considered for conversion to films.
The project to create a history of my former place of employment is coming along slowly. It's amazing what is turning up in the research and the gaps are slowly filling, though I suspect some may remain when the project reaches its final form and shape. Even so there will be a lot for those who worked there, those who
August seems to have whizzed by. Come to think of it, so has the summer. Or perhaps I should say; what summer? We've had perhaps a week of warm to hot weather here in the Uberwald, the rest of it seems to have been fairly cool, wet or windy. At least that meant getting on with some of the projects I've got on my plate
Someone has pulled a time contraction on me lately. Either taht or I'm slipping badly on my 'time management.' I'm in the throes of thrashing out a first draft of my own biography. A real vanity project in my view, but various friends and family have been trying to get me to do it for quite a while. It is proving to be a very interesting exercise, not least because it has opened some dusty cupboards I'd long locked and forgotten
With A Baltic Affair in the hands of the publisher's editors, I have three other projects lumbering along at the moment. One is another Harry Heron tale, taking shape slowly, the second is that I'm trying to put together a service booklet in English and German for our wedding blessing in September and the third is a new one
This has to be one of the most difficult things an author needs to do. It's something I find very frustrating as well, and that's not the agents fault, it is something to do with the way I read, understand or interpret the various 'guidelines' they so helpfully publish.
My new, and soon to be in production, historical naval romance is slowly getting toward the publisher's edit stage. A Baltic Affair is set between 1809 and 1816 in the Baltic and North Sea as Britain struggles to beat the Napoleonic 'Continental System.' Captain Petroc Gray, a Cornishman, finds himself in command of a small ship rigged sloop and embroiled
My publisher for The Enemy is Within! A Harry Heron Adventure is certainly working hard on promoting this book. They've just produced and posted on three separate sites a new trailer for the story. It can be found on Daily Motion, YouTube and Metacafe. I must say the new trailer has been very well put together.
I wonder how many other authors are sometimes frustrated by the lack of reviews of their work on Amazon? I know I certainly am, especially when those that I did have, suddenly vanished. I've never actually managed to get to the bottom of that little trick, though I suspect it has something to do with Amazon's review policy.
I'm sure every author knows the thrill that accompanies the passing of each milestone on the road between handing over that precious manuscript to seeing the finished product on bookshelves, in catalogues and online. Today I've just had one. It arrived courtesy of Kura Carpenter, who designs cover art. She did the cover for my first Harry Heron, Their Lordships Request, and now she's doing the cover for A Baltic Affair to be published by IndieGo ePublishing.
Like a lot of authors, I subscribe to a number of literary journals, information sources and digests, so I get quite a few 'newsletters' from them. Some time ago I joined a site called YouWriteOn, hoping to get some constructive feedback for my books and some useful advice on how to improve my writing. To a limited extent I got some, but I also quickly discovered that most members saw it as a tool for pushing their work through the back door and into the publishing house that sponsors it.
Trying to balance the creativity with the need to edit and to market is tricky. Especially when you are, essentially, on your own. Just lately I've been trying to get to grips with the latter two elements in my title, editing takes a lot of effort and, even when I'm sure I've caught everything and sent the manuscript to my professional editor, I can still open the file - and immediately spot another three or four things I've missed. I was reminded of this again the other day when, by way of taking a "time out," I read Robert A Heinlien's "The Door into Summer."
I'm spending a lot of time at the moment putting a final polish on the MS for A Baltic Affair, to begin its run toward publication in a day or two. As is always the case, the time constraints are under pressure because I've a consulting task on at present
Yesterday I got one of those out of the blue compliments that make all the effort of writing creatvely, researching backgrounds, and so on, worthwhile. It came from a member of the writing group I belong to. We read each other's work in rough, comment and edit, make corrections and suggest improvements. Some of the members are really excellent writers in their own right and the compliment came from one of them.
I'm sure everyone else has pressure on their time available for writing and reading or researching. Just lately I don't seem to have enough of it at all. I no sooner get set in to trying to write, than something crops up which demands immediate attention, or I have to go out to fetch, collect or deal with something. It certainly eats into the time available - and I do try to keep to an alloted period daily - to write.
Creating believable aliens for my scifi stories is a fascinating business for me. First of all I like to make them believable, so I have to put in a lot of effort to see what, among carbon or silicone based life, is possible. The limits are, according to some biologists and experts, pretty wide. So the next step is to try and work out how the human element in the story is likely to interact with them. That does impose some limits, especially if you want them to be able to communicate or even work together. As an early Star Trek episode demonstrated, interaction between humans and a giant slug-like creature is next to impossible.
A book I wrote some time ago, and have been polishing and touting around various small publishers, has found one. A Baltic Affair has been accepted by IndieGo ePublishing and will hopefully appear in print and eformats around October. The process of editing it will begin at the end of this month, as will the design process for the cover.
Despite the name, the publisher does produce print versions of the book as well,
It has been a very busy month. First of all, I got married. The preparations for that took up a fair amount of time, and the last few days we've been enjoying some time in Denmark, on the North Sea coast of Jutland. It was a wonderful break, one we've both enjoyed and will repeat when we have time to do so. Yes, I've come back with a lot of material
If one is serious about writing, one of the important points is to write. Almost every writing course one comes across makes the point that you should write daily, preferably at the same time every day. My experience is that this isn't always possible. Life, the world, one's nearest and dearest, often have other demands and pressures which demand your attention. I'm having one of those periods at present.
I'm slowly coming to the end of writing the First Draft of the fifth book in my Harry Heron series. In fact, I'm currently working on the final chapter. Easy, some might say, but there are a number of dangling threads to be collected, and either tied off, cut out or used to link this story to the next ...
I find I can't make a character come to life unless I have at least a full biography of him or her written down or at least roughed out in my head. I may not reveal all there is in it, but as someone else has said, the character should be as 'real' as a member of the family or your best friend. Why do they respond to a certain type of stimulus, why react in a certain way to an event? You can only write this sort of detail convincingly if you've (at least mentally) walked their path.
Positive feedback from someone who knows something about the situations you are creating in a story - such as the complexity of a major "fleet" engagement, is always a boost to the confidence. I use a group of readers and writers to get feedback on my writing and suggestions for improvement. They have a fairly diverse background, some are grammarians, some editors and all are writers.
Not really. Apart from having reawakened an old back injury and having to spend several days keeping very still and as horizontal as possible, I'm having a running battle with Apple. Yes, I use an iMac and a MacBook and I certainly don't want to change back to the alternative. The problem is I need to upgrade from my present Operating System to the latest version to the Lion OS X. Easy, you'd think. Buy the upgrade, download or receive the CD-Rom and upgrade.
I'm exploring self-publishing. As in actually becoming my own publisher. I plan to start by taking control of e-publishing of my work under my own banner. Having read extensively on the pros and cons of this, my thinking is to start in a small way, but the first step is to find the right software. There are several programs available, but not all of them will do what I am looking for. For e-publishing one needs a process that allows you to set up the interior design of your book in a professional manner, not every program will do exactly what is required.
Today I've added a page to the site. It's dedicated to the books of a good friend, another struggling author, who writes romantic fiction. Jada Penn lives in Gauteng and writes romantic fiction set against the backdrop of the modern South Africa. Her love of the country, its people and the animals she includes in her stories brings them to life. Even if you've never seen a lion in the wild, or smelled the hot African earth after rain, you'll discover she is able to bring both to life in her pages.
I'm delighted to see that the artist who did such a magnificent job on the design of the cover for "Their Lordships Request ..." now has her own blog advertising her capabilities. Kura is a really good designer when it comes to picking out the right images to convey the message you want and the layout of text and essential information in and around it.
Is always very welcome. Sometime negative (provided its not completely negative) feedback can be positive as well since it should encourage the author to look again at the work and set about fixing it or making it work. I must admit I'm particularly flattered by feedback from a 'reader' who really knows the background I draw on to paint my scenes like this -
It's always great to get a review that is flattering and does your hard work justice. I've just had that pleasure. Blue Ink Reviews have just released their review of The Enemy is Within! and have given it a good report.
My pet hate is the kind of story where "facts" are invented, mangled, shifted and then presented as "proven" with the usual PR reportage that the story is "based on true events and facts" which the gullible who don't have the desire to check, will swallow them whole. A lot of this has gone on and one frequently now finds, when researching something, references being cited which, when checked, make reference to earlier work, which in turn ... and then you find that the source, far from being either accurate or reliable, has been discredited or even utterly refuted. But, because its now been "quoted" in later works, it has become "fact."
As a Jewish friend of mine was found of saying - Oi vey! This writing and marketing gets more and more complicated. I have submitted one of my books to a site that showcases books with potential to become movies. OK, that sounds great, but now comes the complicated bit, I have to try and give the people tasked with making a trailer that will catch the attention of a script writer or film producer, some ideas of scenes from the book I would like to see showcased.
I was very flattered recently to receive what I can only describe as "fan mail" from someone who has read my latest book and has used some of my technical books for study purposes. It is very flattering to have a complete stranger write to say how much he had enjoyed your fiction stories - and add that he had found the text books invaluable. I can't say I've ever had a written compliment of that sort before. Perhaps even more flattering is the fact that one of my wife's colleagues is currently reading On the Run, and comes to her office daily to tell her how much he's enjoying it, how great the characters and the situations are and how he's looking forward to reading the next one. Considering he's reading in English and though his language skills are good, it's not his first language, I take that as a compliment indeed.
I was intrigued recently to see a quote from Stephen Hawking suggesting that time travel is possible - but only to the future. I quote -
“A supermassive black hole is a time machine. But of course, it’s not exactly practical. It has advantages over wormholes in that it doesn’t provoke paradoxes. Plus it won’t destroy itself in a flash of feedback. But it’s pretty dangerous. It’s a long way away and it doesn’t even take us very far into the future. Fortunately there is another way to travel in time. And this represents our last and best hope of building a real time machine.”
Sometimes you have to wonder about what you have just heard or read. A case in point is the US Army officer who told reporters that a village in Vietnam had been bombed out of existence in order to save it ...
The New Scientist reports a similar statement has recently been made by a wildlife conservation journal, "Game Changer"
I'm rather proud of this response from one of my editor/readers for the book I am currently writing ...
"This chapter was stellar,
Book trailers, actually.
I've been discussing this with a young lady who makes films. She had a hand in one for Random House and one of their 'Best Seller' authors.
Writing the story is, as most authors will tell you, the fun part, the hard part is selling it. Juggling the various things is sometimes demanding and a little tricky to say the least. Especially when the author is trying to be the marketing man, develop the story he's currently writing and mange the process of getting a book through the publishing process. So it is with a little relief that I can say I've received the final versions of the marketing "trailers" for my first four Harry Heron books. The fifth is now close to 60,000 words and about two thirds complete.
Between trying to chase the marketing, research things for the current story, develop the plot and write it -
You know you're getting sucked into a story when you dream of the characters and wake up mapping out where the story is going from here ... My latest story has a working title of "The Outer Edge" and is developing strongly if the feed back I'm getting from my test readers and editor is anything to go by. It has a complex plot and keeping everything straight within it is a challenge, but it's also great fun. Here are some comments from the feedback ...
Having started a new Harry Heron story, I am posting sample chapters on a website to get feedback on the story and on the writing standard. So far the comments have been extremely encouraging. Some samples include -
And in with the new as we say good bye to 2011 and welcome 2012. As I am definitely not a subscriber to the "2012 - we're all doomed!" set, I look forward to the new year with a sense that at last my writing is getting some recognition and seems to be building up a following. It has certainly taken an effort to get there and will take even more to keep up the momentum and really keep it going. Plus, I've made a start on the first draft of a new story in the Harry Heron series.
In the last year I seem to have been kept very busy, writing, revising, editing and re-editing - plus, of course, getting a real editor to look at it all - and I think I can say without embarrassment, that my writing is far, far better for it.
I'd just like to say Merry Christmas to all my readers and to those who don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a great holiday as well. I really appreciate all the support, encouragement and help I have received in the last couple of years, from my friends (long suffering!), my family (Even more long suffering!), my editor and the folk I have dealt with at the publishers.
My "Author Copies" of On the Run arrived today and yesterday. There's nothing quite like holding a hard copy of your own book to give you satisfaction. Writing it takes a lot of effort, revising, polishing and editing take even more - and then its out of your hands and the publisher gets to do some more polishing tweaking and setting up.
My latest book, On the Run; a Harry Heron adventure, is starting to sell. It's going slowly at present, but I have high hopes that the trailer I have commissioned will be available soon and will increase interest and sales. There seems to be some hold up in the works with producing them which is a bit disappointing.
I am very pleased to be able to say that I am flattered by a very good review of Their Lordships Request ... which has appeared on the website The Fyddeye Guide. The author, Joe Follansbee, is a noted naval historian specialising in American Maritime history. His comments regarding the historic seafaring aspects of the book are a compliment indeed.
The full review can be seen by following the link to the website above. Two exerpts I find particularly encouraging -
I have to say that Abbott Press have certainly not wasted any time in getting ON the RUN onto all the online sellers lists. Having done a trawl around I find it is now listed in all its formats on the Amazon sites, Barnes and Noble and their own online store. I've just finished building the links to all the sellers sites in my suppliers pages here so now readers can find it quickly and easily by "clicking the link" of their choice.
Abbott have produced a good looking book
The latest Harry Heron adventure is now available. Published by Abbott Press it was released for sale yesterday and will be on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others soon. What's it about?
Take three young men from a ship-of-the-line in 1804, thrust them four hundred years into the future, give them some high-tech implants and a dash of illegal gene splicing, and you have a trio with a different approach than that of their new friends and companions.
I had not, until recently, come across a 'Book Trailer.' 'Trailers' for movies, DVDs and even concerts, but not books. But then a friend asked my opinion on a trailer for his book. It was impressive, so I enquired where I could explore this for my own.
I've now had the opportunity to review the first two produced by the company and I have to say that I found both grabbed my attention and made me think I really needed to read them myself ...
The final Galley checks have been made on On the Run - a Harry Heron adventure, and now it is a case of waiting for the printer to start production. In the meantime I am waiting to publish a "trailer" to the book currently being produced by Apex Reviews.
The book has been copy edited, line edited,
Xlibris, publisher of The Enemy is Within! have forwarded an assessment by a professional script writer of the story as a potential script or scripts for film or television. I have to say it is very encouraging, even though there are a number of suggestions for improving elements. It is encouraging to see that this, the second of my novels to be written, comes out so well in this assessment. The suggestions regarding the development of the characters, has already been done. In On the Run, Harry is expanded by playing up some of his faults and his companions and friends have been filled out a bit as well.
The publisher has sent the Galley Proofs for "On the Run; A Harry Heron Adventure" and I have sent these on to my editor. As ever, the deadlines are tight, especially if I want to get the book out in time for Christmas.
I'm intrigued by the pricing though. Abbott have come up with prices of US$22.95 for the paper back, US$37.95 for the Hard Back and US$3.95 for the e-book versions.
The cover proofs for On the Run; A Harry Heron Adventure, have been delivered. Now I need to sit down and consider them carefully, particularly the excerpts and blurbs, to make sure they are not only looking good, but "marketing" oriented as well. First glance suggests they are good, and closer scrutiny confirms it.
At present I am revising a manuscript for a story very dear to my heart - one that I did a huge amount of research for and spent a long time writing. It isn't easy to revise, since the subject spent large amounts of time alone, or cut off from those around him for reasons of language, status and age. He wasn't an easy man to find either, he is now so hidden behind legends, fairy tales and mythology that you have to dig deep and wide to find the truth. What emerges is a man far more interesting than any legend about him can ever be.
So who is he?
I acquired a copy of this excellent book from the Royal Navy Museum shop in Portsmouth. Written by D A B Ronald and published by Osprey, the book is very well put together, and very readable. I have long had a fascination for Naval history, particularly British history and this book is a part of my ongoing search for information and background for my own writing.
The author has opened a window into a world most modern youngsters would find intolerable, a world of bullying, self discipline and hardship. It was a world of separation from friends and family at a very early age and one in which you either learned fast and grew to manhood and responsibility - or perished. Mr Ronald has used the journals, letters and diaries of the Midshipmen who
The new cover artwork for my latest book, On The Run; a Harry Heron Adventure, has arrived. Below is a somewhat reduced image of the painting which has taken sometime to realise ...
I recently watched the pre-Booker Prize Dinner interviews on the BBC. It was eye-opening to say the very least and made me very aware that some of the Traditional Publishers - and perhaps the Book critics as well - have no interest in generating a wider audience. The statement that really got my attention was from one of the Judges, who is a senior member of the Prize committee and if I heard it right, a Commissioning Editor for one of the major publishers. In response to the interviewers comment that the "favourite" for the prize was a thick tome which was "barely readable" he stated "Readability is irrelevant. What matters is its literary value."
I got back from my conference in Tehran yesterday in the early hours of the morning. The list of "things to be done today" is daunting, especially chasing the things that should have been completed by my return ...
I have to say that the experience was a mixed bag. The people I met, talked to and was hosted by are fantastic, the regime, obviously, is another matter and the experience of getting the visa and then of the security checks at the airport were - shall I say - designed to deter anyone, however well disposed, from visiting the place.
Iranian hosts take their duty as hosts extremely seriously.
Time seems to accelerate when you're busy. My artwork for the latest Harry Heron novel has been delayed - the artist went and got sick - and that's thrown a spanner in the works for finishing off the cover, which knocked on delaying the production of galleys ... It always has that domino effect when something is delayed, or so it seems.
My lack of posts recently is down to last minute preparations for a conference I am speaking at and problems getting the visa, the airline tickets and all those last minute details. Trying to push forward and expand my marketing activities at the same time is probably not good timing, but then when is it?
Sometimes it seems that time just slips away, regardless of your efforts to keep it under control. It reminds me of an article I read recently which stated, among other things, that we all experience time differently. It certainly feels that way at present.
It's taken a while, but it has finally come together. The e-publisher, 46 South Publishing has released Their Lordships Request in the formats for Kindle, iPad and PC/Mac. On sale through their online shop at US$3.99 it's a very affordable read.
The process has been an interesting one for me as an author, perhaps naively believing that it was simply a matter of converting the Word MS into an electronic version of the publisher's page layout program.
The death of paper based "print" books is much discussed these days on a variety of fora frequented by authors and would be authors. <a href="http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/390067.html">Seanan MacGuire, writing on Live Journal</a>, makes an excellent case regarding the need for "printed words" to continue. I find myself in full agreement with him.
Electronic books are fine, I have some of mine available in e-format now, but if you don't have a Kindle, iPad, whatever, you can't read them. All you need to read a paper book is the book. You can get it from a library, from a bookstore, from Amazon and even from the second hand bookstore tucked away in a backstreet. But here lies a part of the problem. Authors have to get past a large number of "gate keepers" in order to get published by the traditional publishers. Most won't even look at a manuscript submitted by an author if it doesn't come through an agent. Even when they say they will. The truth is that they are swamped by manuscripts these days as the electronic age gives more and more people the power to create the novel "everyone" is supposed to have inside them.
The new cover is now available and will appear within days on the e-version of the Their Lordships Request, available from 46South Publishing. I will make sure there is a proper link to it in the "Store" section when I have it.
My original cover design was meant to look as if it had been executed by someone aboard the ship Harry is serving on, but I was never very satisfied with it. So I commissioned a new cover. Now I have to get it swopped onto the printed version, an exercise which I suspect will take longer than I think. Never mind, it will be worth the wait, of this I am pretty sure. In the meantime, here is an image of it ...
I have to say that I am very pleased with the finished product. I sent copies of the four final drafts round to a wide range of friends and family and got some very useful feedback on it. The consensus was divided between two of the four, but with the largest number preferring the cover above. Better yet, the publisher is delighted!
Redesigning a cover for Their Lordships Request has been an interesting excursion into graphic design. Working long distance with a designer in New Zealand makes for some challenges, but has also been educational and exciting. Kura has taken the materials I've sent her, added some elements of her own and come up with four exciting designs. Two of these include the "face" of "Harry" the hero of the book.
The picture has had to be 'doctored' slightly - his neckcloth should be black to start with - and then inserted into a background. I hope to reveal the final result here soon!
I have to say that working with this young man was a real pleasure. He regarded the whole exercise as an enormous joke to be enjoyed to the full and he was also interested in the background to the story and the history behind it. One of the biggest 'in' jokes for us all is that Lukas is German and will appear as the 'face' of 'Harry' Nelson-Heron, a British/Irish Midshipman of the late 18th early 19th Century on the finished cover ...
Mind you, at the time the "Harry" part of this book is set, Britain was working to forge a fragile alliance with the Baltic States, including Mecklenburg, Brandenburg and Prussia. Eventually the intervention of the Prussians under Field Marshall Blücher at Waterloo would seal the fate of Napoleon and his ambitions for a French Empire of Europe. History is sometimes far more intricately woven than the finest fiction.
Oh, yea! Or, as a Jewish friend would have said, Oi vey!
Finding time to write among all the letter writing, website posting and general perusal of social media in an attempt to keep my books moving takes up an enormous amount of time. I can certainly appreciate why the traditional publishing houses spend such vast amounts of money in pushing the books on their catalogues. Sadly, I haven't that kind of budget to play with.
Even so, there are outlets to pursue, agents to approach and it does feel as if I'm making some headway.
Now, back to my writing timetable!
Sometimes it seems that progress is not in the direction or the speed desired. I'm going through one of those phases at present.
The cover art for On The Run, the latest Harry Heron adventure, is coming together and should be ready, I'm assured, in a week or so. At the same time I'm waiting on a photograph for the redesign of the cover for Their Lordships Request ... and neither seem to be making the sort of progress I would like to see! The trouble is you can't rush the creative process and trying to take short cuts is often disastrous and counter productive - so patience is a vitue I'm having to discover yet again.
The entire MS for On The Run is still with my editor, so, from my perspective, I have to be patient and wait to see what changes she requires to the text before anything else can happen anyway. Once those have been made it will go back to her so she can check to see there are no glaring contradictions as a result of the changes and then to the typesetting process.
In the meantime, of course, I'm trying to prepare my marketing strategy. I knew there was a reason for my being in the fire and emergency services for my career. I doubt I could sell an eskimo a snow-ski ...
Ever get the feeling you're riding a runaway train? Then you know what I mean by the title of this post, presenting a serene and controlled appearance on the surface, while paddling like fury to stay afloat.
At present I have On The Run with an editor, the cover art in development, several personal matters to resolve in respect of papers required from government departments reluctant to respond quickly and a conference to prepare for. The conference requires that I write two papers and prepare the presentations, so there's not a lot of free time there. There have also been problems with speakers pulling out at the last minute and having to find suitable replacements. Coupled with that, having moved countries, I am having to track down and obtain copies of documents I have never needed before. Dealing with bureaucrats is NOT one of my favourite occupations and is seldom actually a productive exercise...
The publisher for On The Run is also pressing me to get my marketing strategy together, so there no pressure there then! The book won't be available until end September on current time scales, but they are, of course, right. Marketing has to be launched in advance of the book. And I'm trying to revise a large MS for a book I really do want to see in print and on sale.
OK, so all of the above is self-inflicted. Who wants to be an author?
I have long pondered the direction of the our "western" society and its ultimate fate. I see I am not alone in this. A new book has crossed my horizon and I would have reviewed it here, save that someone better qualified has done it already. His review of the book;
The Coming Collapse of the American Republic can be found by following the link I've embedded. The book itself, while I found it heavy going in parts and dealing, as it does, with things I am familiar with only through news and TV reports, pretty much confirms my own feelings on a number of issues.
I certainly commend this to anyone writing for a 'future world' genre.
Had a message yesterday from Abbott Press yesterday to say that their legal team had gone through "On The Run - A Harry Heron Adventure" and have given me the all clear - in other words there is no plagiarism or anything which could be said to be the "intellectual property" of anyone. It's always good to know that your work is not duplicated anywhere else I suppose and if we are honest, there is always the possibility that an idea could have come from someone else.
Now the book is in their "editorial review" process and I await the outcome of that with some trepidation. I have no doubt there are things that can be 'tightened up' and improved in my writing, but I just hope that after the number of revisions I've already made to On The Run, there won't be too many this time round!
Now I await the cover art, being prepared by my brother (An artist of considerable talent) in Cape Town. From the sounds of it so far - this will be interesting and exciting.
Following on from an Editorial Review I commissioned of my book Ego Sum, I have started a revision to see how best to implement the very good suggestions made for its improvement. This is a long haul task, to get it right means taking each chapter apart carefully, looking at how it fits with the rest of the story and then looking at how that can be improved - or even whether it is necessary.
Nor is it an easy task. The yawning trap at each step of the way is that, because I know what I was trying to show, or what I wanted to show, it becomes very easy not to see how it would bore the reader. As the book is based around the idea that the subject character is telling 'his' story to an audience, the second trap is to leave in to much 'telling' and not leave some of it to the imagination of the reader by 'showing' the key elements through the dialogue and letting the reader fill the gaps.
There is a small problem with that in places, since in the early part of the story, the subject spent long periods isolated by language, culture and social position. Later, in a more social context it becomes easier, but still tricky because he wasn't always accepted by those he was surrounded by. I'm not going to put in a spoiler here - the book is a very special project. It's one I believe needs to be told. It needs to be told sympathetically and it is also about someone who many would say is extremely well known ...
At least the legends about him are. The man behind them is even more fascinating than the legends.
Managed to complete another manuscript today, a story set in the latter part of the Napoleonic War in an around the Baltic. It's been quite an interesting one to write for a number of reasons, not least being the historical background to the tale. The Baltic campaigns between 1808 and 1812 were pivotal to the outcome of the Napoleonic War. Had Napoleon succeeded in holding together the alliances which prevented the import of British manufactured goods into Europe and the export to Britain of vital shipbuilding timbers, Britain would have lost the war.
In fact, they came very close to total economic collapse. Before 1808, Britain's trade with the Baltic area was worth some £43 million per year. After the Treaty of Tilsit in 1808, the blockade steadily reduced the trade until it dropped below £5 million a year. At this point the British were forced to introduce "Deficit Budgeting" - with the government printing money it didn't have the cash to back. The legacy of this is still with us, on bank notes which are actually "Promissary Notes" and carry the statement "I promise to pay the bearer on demand ..." and signed by the Secretary to the Bank of England. It is also with us in the manner in which all western governments now budget for their activities - borrowing against the taxes they hope to collect ...
Britain was saved by the rivalries and the ambitions of the various royal families and by Napoleon's own ambition. That and the fact that his imposition of his brother as King of Spain, caused the Spanish to revolt. Wellington's successes drained the French at a moment when Napoleon decided to stamp on the Tsar - and lost to the Russian winter.
Through it all the Royal Navy fought a difficult and successful campaign against gunboats, privateers and fixed fortresses. This is the background against which I have set a romatic historical novel ...
The eBook version of Out Of Time was released this morning by the publisher - ePublishing for Success. It has been an interesting and exciting ride, but worth every moment of it. Their Lordships Request ... will, I hope follow soon. The delay is due to redesigning the cover, the book itself is ready.
The release of Their Lordships Request ... and Out of Time as eBooks came a significant step closer today.
Both have now been converted to MOBI, PDF and EPUB and will be released as soon as the Publisher and I have agreed on the marketing blurb and the pricing. I am obviously excited about this as now everyone with a Kindle iReader or simply the Adobe Reader programme on their desktop can buy an electronic version, download it and read away.
OK, enough fanfare for the moment, back to writing the marketing blurb.
Turns out to be a bit more complicated than I thought. I should have realised it is almost as technical - or maybe more so - than producing a print version. There are a range of things to consider, such as the systems and readers the work will be available on. Ot appears there are several different operating systems in use and each has its own coding process. Plus, it isn't as simple as just copy/paste into the required format.
To be successful, it has to have the same appearance as a printed book - so pages have to be formed, bookmarked and formatted. In short, it is the same process as is required to produce the Galleys for a printed book - but with the added twist that, because it will appear on a screen, you have to be able to scroll it and go to a page, chapter or section on command. It's been quite a learning curve. Guess I'll now have to buy an e-reader so I can actually get used to this technological stuff myself.
Cutting to the chase - both afriend and I have books in preparation for the New Zealand based company - <a href="http://46s.biz/">ePublishing for Success</a>. It's proving to be very interesting!
Copyright is always a tricky area, especially once things start to go international. Some countries and cultures simply don't seem to have any concept of "intellectual property" or the right of an author to control or profit from his or her own hard work, research and - often - outlay of capital and time to create the work.
A major topic at present on several Blogs is the theft of an authors work, 'stolen' copies which are currently being sold on Amazon. What is meant by 'stolen' copy?
In short, someone has created an electronic copy of three books by the children's author Ruth Ann Nordin and is now selling these as an "Electronic" book version through Amazon. The problem is, of course, that Ms Nordin gets absolutely nothing from the sales as whoever the 'pirate' is, simply keeps everything they get from the sale. In this electronic age, this is a major hazard for any author, it is all too easy to make a copy of someone's work, repackage it and then sell it through any online outlet entirely for one's own profit.
What is worse is that there are now a number of hackers out there who regard it as their "right" to strip someone else's intellectual property and profit from it. Other authors have suffered the same problem, though a larger one is the 'file sharing' through 'torrent' sites. These steal music, books, movies and anything else they can find in electronic format. One author who dared to make public accusations against the operators of one such site ripping off his books had his websites hacked and then shut down by the hackers.
As an author I do find this worrying. So far (as far as I am able to discover anyway!) my fiction has not been the subject of such an attack - however, my technical work has been. I am well aware that a large amount of my technically published work has been translated, repackaged and republished - but there's not a heck of a lot I can do about it and neither can the people who hold the copyrights to it. Why? It goes back to the whole concept of 'intellectual property' and the 'ownership' of it. Some cultures simply don't recognise an authors right of ownership ...
Perhaps that is why Leonardo da Vinci kept his notes in a way that no one else could read... But then, he wasn't trying to sell his writing either.
Ever feel like you've run a marathon mentally? That certainly is how I feel today. My elderly cat has developed a problem with her hindquarters, and the treatments at the vet are helping - but now we have an upset stomach ...
Ce la vie! At least I have completed editing the books for the ePublisher and the edit of On The Run is coming along well. It's amazing how much you spot on the fourth and fifth passes through a text that evaded the first few runs. Still all worthwhile in the end...
Preparing my Manuscripts for Their Lordships Request and Out of TIme to be converted into eBook format has proved interesting to say the least. First of all I had to go through all the Galley Proofs for the printed versions to find all the corrections I had made and which editors suggested as they were prepared for printing. Then, having done that, they had to be tidied up - Out of Time was originally written in Word 98 - as the small difference between various versions of Word don't always swop the formatting correctly.
At least they are now with the ePublisher and I am expecting to get a few more corrections and cosmetic changes when I get their proofs back. The third Harry Heron book, The Enemy Is Within!, is already available as an eBook through Xlibris, though this is an Adobe format.
In the meantime I'm going through the MS for the fourth Harry Heron book, On The Run, which is to be printed by Abbot Press and will appear, hopefully, in about four months time. Abbot Press will produce it as Paper Back, Hard Back and eBook so all you Kindle and other eReader users will, I hope, pick it up and give Harry and his friends a try.
Meanwhile, back to editing and correcting ...
Their Lordships Request and Out of Time will soon be available as eBooks from a publisher who specialises in eBook publication. It also means that anyone with a Kindle, iPad, iPod or any of the other eBook reader devices will be able to purchase them direct and download to their reader.
I've been exploring this for some time and hope this will be successful. Obviously getting the word out and promoting them will be an essential task, but hopefully a fun one.
More good news is that Abbot Press, a Division of Writer's Digest, want to publish the fourth 'Harry Heron' story, On the Run. I'm currently discussing this with them and look forward to being able to make an announcement about it in the not too distant future.
A writer needs an editor. Some would add "like a hole in the head" but I don't. I know all to well that I make typos, that I sometimes create run on sentences and get so involved in the story that I risk boring my reader. So a critical editorial review is essential. They don't come cheap either, but it's worth it. I can say it has improved my writing enormously.
So it is a real pleasure when a "blind" reviewer, one who is asked to review the work without seeing any of the early drafts then posts a review like this one -
"A Baltic Affair" is a credible, finely plotted historical novel that encompasses all possible theories about Napoleon motives and acts. It also provokes readers to challenge historical interpretation in an intelligent, dynamic, and adventurous way. Well-researched and well-written, "The Baltic Affair" is an exciting, surprising, yet sensitive novel that will delight every reader appreciative of excellent historical fiction.
It makes all the effort to tweak, edit, cut, rewrite and, perhaps most importantly, the research, worthwhile.
Since I set up this site, things have got busy, most of it in a very positive manner. Two of my Harry Heron titles are currently being considered for publication as e-books by a publisher selling books to Kindle, Apple and others. Another is being considered by a publisher and all of them are soon to be offered for sale through an online bookstore besides Amazon and the usual outlets.
A friend and computer code expert is also tweaking parts of this site to make t look even better and hopefully spice it up a bit.
I hope readers will watch this space as things develop.
I'm slowly getting things together here and building in links. There are one or two features I haven't quite sassed out how to get them to function yet, but it is getting there - I just hope it all works for you - the reader.
It seems appropriate to launch this site on this particular day. I certainly hope that the visitors - of whom I hope there will be many! - will not face the same hardships suffered by our fathers as they scrambled ashore in 1944.
In launching this site I am taking something of a gamble. For a number of years now I have been engaged in writing, primarily technical material for classes, for my profession and for magazines. A few years ago I began to explore the writing of fiction. I can say that in the years since then I have learned a great deal about writing - and probably even more about publishing.
I hope that those who venture through this blog and this website will find something interesting, perhaps entertaining - and maybe even sample my fiction!