Sunday, 30 September 2012

Advertising images

I'm endeavouring to publicise the book. I spent yesterday at the British Fantasy Convention in Brighton, and I left a bundle of flyers around the convention centre. (I wasn't the only person littering the place, so I don't feel too guilty!). There still seemed to be a fair number lying around when I left, so I don't know how successful my ploy was. I thought the flyers looked quite good: they looked like this:
   I've also done a banner to add to forum posts, which is at the top of this post and which I think is quite striking - the close-up on the dragon face works well, in my humble opinion.
   The question is whether anyone will take notice and buy it...

   And I'm going to add a smaller version of the banner, just for completeness:

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sorrel - the video

A sneak preview of the video I'm planning to use to publicise Sorrel - just to make sure it works!

Thursday, 27 September 2012


And finally the Kindle version is live!

Amazon seems to like me after all - the kindle version is finally available on and

I can breathe again!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

I think Amazon hates me...

I was all prepared for the launch of Sorrel in Scarlet on Monday. I uploaded my files to my three targets on Saturday. Lulu went live almost immediately - epub format for e-readers other than the Kindle. CreateSpace - print on demand paperback copies, which I thought might well take longest to launch - was available on Monday morning, and I received my own copy this morning.

But the Kindle... I uploaded the file on Saturday. The system checked it over and firmly said it was okay, and would be published and on sale within 12 hours.

Sunday morning - no sign. I assumed it meant 12 business hours.

Monday? Not a whisper. I can be patient - I sat back and waited till Tuesday.

Not a dickie-bird. No change to my status, no e-mails, no messages, nothing. So I sent Kindle a polite "What's going on?" style message.

I'm still waiting.

And to add insult to injury, the paperback is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US, but the cover picture isn't visible. The US one is finally showing up, but the UK image is still absent.

Is Amazon trying to tell me something?

Still, the good news is that the paperback version is now on sale. If you're in the UK, go here. If you're in the USA or elsewhere try here.

If you want an epub version (Nook, Kobo, Sony E-Reader, iPad etc) then try Lulu, here.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Print on Demand Cover

And I now have a full cover for the print on demand version - Janet has, as usual, done wonders for me.

CreateSpace will add a barcode on the back cover with the book's ISBN, and then it will look complete.

Still much to do before Monday, but I am quietly confident that everything will go according to plan.

Formatting headaches - part 2

I think the NCX problem is solved, but it took much heart-ache and grief. Still, I am back on track for launch on Monday.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Formatting headaches

I spent most of last week formatting Sorrel in Scarlet for the Kindle. I uploaded it to test it... lo and behold, the system tells me my Table of Contents is not functioning.

So back to the drawing board - go through the help information on the Kindle guide, re-lay and re-structure my ToC, re-upload... and it tells me I still don't have a ToC, even though I can see it.

More delving, and I find a page of information about inserting an NCX file (just one only, it tells me), all structured in html, the language of web pages. In the dim and distant past I have written bits and pieces in html, but this is way beyond my level, and I can't launch Sorrel on Kindle (or any other epub site) without this.

I have a week before my planned publication date... I could be in big trouble.

Thursday, 6 September 2012


      I love books. Yes, a Kindle is a brilliant gadget, but there is something about having an old-fashioned book in my hand – the feel of the paper, the weight, the sussurus as the pages turn – that grips me. Perhaps it was because, as a child, I read constantly – books were my friends and my treasures. I drove my mother mad keeping me with a supply of reading material – I was a member of two, and later three different local libraries, and we drove over to one or other at least once a week. Six from Carnegie, four from Dulwich, six from West Norwood – more than once I had finished one of them by the time we had driven home. Books were (and are) the escape from the mundane, a means to transfer myself into bright, extraordinary, occasionally frightening landscapes and stories, a way to meet remarkable people and confront dreadful odds... and win.

      My bookshelves at home groan under the weight of more than two thousand books, mostly paperbacks, collected over thirty years. Over a thousand more languish in boxes in the spare room and the attic, relegated there in a desperate effort to prevent a lawsuit by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Shelves. New books materialise with frightening regularity, as if by magic. And I know my books. Every cover is somewhere in my mind's eye, most of the plots can be teased out of my memory with only a few moments' thought, or a brief flick through. They are still my friends. I would be lost without them.
      Can the Kindle or its ilk replace that?
      My first thought is to say never.
      And yet... and yet I picture the books boxed up in the attic, almost inaccessible, miserable and feeling unloved. The contents of those boxes don't see the light of day. I can't casually pick one up and page through it, reminding myself of the pleasures of the story. If I had them on my Kindle, wouldn't that make them available to me again?
      I don't have a simple answer to that... except that you can't, with a Kindle, easily pick up a book almost at random off the shelf and flip to a favourite scene, or glance at a cover in passing and remember the adventures within.
      No, even if I do get prosecuted by the SPCS, I can't do without at least some real books in the house. The Kindle is a neat piece of kit, but paper books are still my first love.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Not quite published - the real world story

Novels don't appear instantly. They take time and effort and commitment. I spent a year or more bashing my head against my word-processor, but the final result read well, and I thought it had a fighting chance of publication. I had written novels before, without any great success – I had sent them to numerous agents, who had sometimes said that I had a good writing style, but that they didn't feel my previous efforts were commercial enough. Sorrel in Scarlet I thought had possibilities.

The first agent to whom I sent it sat on it for months before curtly rejecting it. The second wasn't taking on new clients at all. The third... I got a very nice email, saying he had enjoyed the first three chapters, and wanted to see the rest. Two weeks later, in March 2011, I had an agent and a contract. Tim told me he thought Sorrel was saleable.

We spent months editing it, so Tim was confident in its chances. Then he sent it to a dozen major UK publishers.

Three, including one of the biggest, showed interest – I met with a commissioning editor, who said he wanted to publish it.

And then Sorrel crashed and burned.  His acquisitions committee vetoed it – too strange, too far outside the obvious niches. The other two interested parties said the same.

I was left with an unsaleable manuscript, and some broken dreams.  Tim and I had both been so sure Sorrel would fly.

Get back on the horse that threw you. Impcatcher was the new novel I've set to work upon.

But I still had a manuscript in my clutches, one that had been within a whisker of a commercial sale.
And so now I intend to put Sorrel on sale myself.

I've got a long way to go, but publication beckons.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Land that Time Forgot

     My family didn't regularly go to the cinema when I was a child. So the few films I did see on the big screen packed an impact. Back in 1975, one movie I remember well was The Land that Time Forgot. At the time, I didn't know of Edgar Rice Burroughs apart from as the creator of Tarzan (and Tarzan I only knew from the Johnny Weissmuller films, which hadn't grabbed me). This, on the other hand... it had dinosaurs, and a submarine, and a brave hero. The pretty young woman didn't catch my attention much – I was too young for girls to have impinged. What the film did have was action, monsters, and a sense of the extraordinary. The titular Land was not just a “Lost World”, but had a strange pattern of advancement in evolution the further inland you went. That aspect was never fully explored, but it gave me the feeling that there was more here, more that could be explored, further mysteries to follow.
     It was many years later before I saw the sequel – The People that Time Forgot – which takes the ideas further, but which is by no means as good a film.
     The special effects, at the time, looked pretty good to me. Now, they creak nearly as badly as original Doctor Who – but so what? The story is what matters. The characters are relatively two-dimensional, but they are still better than the characters in some of the current blockbusters being made, and the plot keeps moving. The characters are active – they work to get themselves out of the trouble they are in through brains and muscle, rather than just panicking and being blown on the wind of fortune. Yes, Doug McClure's character may be a square-jawed hero with very little in the way of depth, but he is still a strong central figure.
     The Land that Time Forgot was the first of the Doug McClure action-adventure films, and is in my view the best. I hadn't discovered pulp adventure stories at that time (with the exception of Biggles) – this was the film that really introduced the genre to me. Without this, perhaps there would never have been Sorrel in Scarlet...  so you can all blame Doug McClure!