Thursday, 18 December 2014

New Book!

And Ratline is finally live on Amazon UK and US (and other Amazon stores worldwide) in kindle ebook format. The paperback proof copy is on order - delivery date 22nd December allegedly, but I suspect the computers don't realise it's Christmas, so I'm not expecting it any time soon.

I'll be processing the other ebook formats in the next day or so. It'll be available at Smashwords in all formats before Christmas, but realistically I doubt it will make it into Kobo, WH Smith, Apple etc until after the holidays as at least one of the sites does manual reviewing.

So many other projects but I somehow managed to write the opening scene to the next (last) Lenny story. No plot as yet ...

Friday, 5 December 2014

On Editing

I was at a meeting of my local Writers' Group the other day and the talk got around to editing. I mentioned I was in the midst of shuffling files from my new book Ratline back and forth with my editor, and other people wanted to know what he did and why I felt I needed an editor anyway. I don't for a moment think that anybody was suggesting I didn't need an independent set of eyes on my writing (because we all need that), but more that people were wondering what you get for your money when you engage the services of a fiction editor.

My first published novel, Hamelin's Child, was agency-edited. The two follow-on books, I was reasonably confident about - although I do have a supremely-talented beta reader who can spot a typo at a thousand paces and is not shy about telling me the bits that don't work. I am eternally grateful for his support.

But when I got to my spin-off book, Rat's Tale, I was no longer so sure about what I was doing. Rat's Tale was shorter than my other books - more of a novella at under 50,000 words. And I wanted to do something different with the structure that I hadn't done before. I wanted a fresh pair of eyes and I was happy to pay for it - it's no different to buying-in design services for a book cover, or formatting (although I do my own ebook and print formatting). By this time, I was socialising widely on facebook and John Hudspith's name kept cropping up, so I thought I'd try him out....

So how does engaging the services of an editor work? With John, you get a free sample edit, so you know exactly what you will get for your money, should you choose to accept his quote. Your quote will be based on the sample you submitted, and you will be able to see for yourself how much/little support you need. He'll fix typos, suggest alternative words and correct punctuation and spelling. He'll also point out style issues, where perhaps sentences aren't flowing as well as they could, or where scenes need expanding or rewriting. He's also exceptionally good at cutting out fluff - those extraneous words that creep in without you noticing and threaten to smother your story. And he'll suggest rewrites where necessary (editing of rewritten scenes is included in the price - as are blurbs and synopses).

Most fiction editors offer similar services. Some are fixed-fee, some charge according to the sample. Many editors will ask for all/part payment up-front. John works in chunks of approx 10,000 words - so you can budget as you go along.

Whoever you choose - if you choose to employ an editor - it's important to have a rapport with him/her. You need to feel comfortable and able to discuss and query/argue with suggestions. Always make sure you know what you are getting for your money. Ask for references if necessary and make sure you are happy with the quality of the sample edit.

So what happens to my books? I have lots of fluff. I could stuff pillows with my fluff. Chapters coming back from Johnny have been positively shaved. I have typos - everybody has typos - and sometimes I overuse the same words or I get lazy with my research. I also have a habit of building up the tension and then losing it because I've not gone quite far enough to reach the point of no-return. I can't usually see it myself, but Johnny can. Oh, and he puts even more swear words in than I started with (and I'm not exactly mean with them), and sex too - so I'm blaming him entirely for corrupting the moral fabric of society ...

Lists of other editing services can be found here. Caveat emptor! Always ask for references or testimonials from satisfied customers before parting with your money.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Book Review

I don't post reviews of my books often, but this is just so awesome that I'm making an exception. This top 500 Amazon reviewer just totally "got" what I was trying to do.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Bookshops? What bookshops?

My local town doesn’t have an independent bookshop. My local town doesn’t have any kind of bookshop. Outside of the supermarkets (and we have lots of them), the only shop you can buy books in is a very small branch of WH Smith. Anything bigger and I’d have to drive to Crewe or Chester, or venture further afield to Liverpool or Manchester.

So I’m shopping today on the High Street. We have Rymans and Boots and Costa – even Marks & Spencer. But no book shop. I decide to have a wander around WH Smith just to have a look at what’s on the shelves these days.

Best-sellers – Sylvia Day and EL James. Fifty shades of erotica and more. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (I hated that book) in several different incarnations. Scandinavian crime and lots of romance and women’s fiction. I move towards the back of the shop, falling into old habits of hunting out the science fiction and fantasy. There used to be lots of it – now we’re down to a couple of shelves and if you don’t like Stephen King or Robert Jordan’s 300 books of the Wheel of Time or Terry Pratchett, then you might as well move along. Where are all the mid-list authors? The up-and-coming authors I used to meet at conventions? How are they ever going to sell if nobody buys their books? How is anybody going to buy their books if they don’t know they even exist?

I don’t have a dog in the Amazon v Hachette fight. I don’t want to see Amazon take over the world either. I’m happy reading paperbacks or ebooks, from both traditional and self-published authors – I don’t care; if the story is good, I’ll read it. But who dictates what books are on the shelves of WH Smith? The big publishers can offer the best discounts, pay for front-of-store promotions for their star authors, while the rest languish in obscurity. I don’t want to be offered a selection of what the people with the most money think I should be reading or buying. Why isn’t it about art anymore?

At least Amazon offers me a (relatively) unbiased selection of books by all authors. Yes, I have to sift through rubbish. Yes, I have to filter through whatever Amazon decides to show me first. I’m sure the big publishers pay for virtual shelf-space here too. But at least I can get beyond that and find books I want to read and not what the big boys tell me I should read.

I don’t think I’ll bother with WH Smith again.

Friday, 19 September 2014


New cover! Book should be out by the end of the year, hopefully. What do you think?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Audiobooking - Part 2

I blogged about starting out on my audiobook journey in June 2014. On ACX – Amazon’s audiobook programme which hosts the entire process – I agreed with my narrator that he would deliver the first 15 minutes of my thriller Hamelin’s Child by the end of July 2014 and the rest of the book by the end of the year. 

Read more ...

Monday, 1 September 2014

Those punch-the-air moments....

Does anybody else get them? Those moments when you're slogging on writing your WIP, making your characters do awful things and have even more awful things happen to them ...

... when suddenly your conscious brain disconnects from your fingers, you type furiously for a few minutes, them sit back and read what you've written for the first time ...

... and punch the air, yelling YES At the top of your voice. At which point your spouse/family/colleagues fall off their chair in surprise, or run into the room wondering what's happened. Are you ill? Do you need help? You shake your head, smiling ...

... because you've written what may be the best few lines of prose ever committed to a computer. Your subconscious has kicked in and boy, has it delivered on its promise.

Or else your subconscious has made good on a bargain it made with you way back - maybe in the previous novel (it's a series). You had a deal. You agreed to let it keep a throwaway and apparently meaningless line. You argued with your editor that it had to stay there. And in return your subconscious promised you that the payoff would be good.

And it is. That throwaway line makes sense now and adds a whole new dimension to your character or plot.

And you kiss your subconscious and promise faithfully never to ignore it again.