Patrick G Cox

Chasing deadlines ...

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.

Artwork, marketing, conferences ...

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? 

Progress - I think ...

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.

Their Lordships Request goes electronic ...

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.

Books, publishing and readers; a conundrum?

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="">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. 

Cover Designs ...

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!

The face of Harry ...

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 ...

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 ...

My Swan Impersonation

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?

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