Resolutions and Other Irritations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As my mate John Lennon used to say (when we were in The Beatles together), “Another year over – a new one just begun”.

So as the New Year approaches, I’ll be making a few resolutions. Or not, as the case may be. In fact, what I’ll actually be doing is making a list of those things I can accomplish, rather than a catalogue of ridiculous dreams and fantasies that ain’t ever going to happen.

During 2016, therefore, I’m aiming to work towards the under-mentioned Achievable Tasks:

Write More
Easily achievable, since I already write every day and am more than capable of hitting 5,000 words per day should I so wish.

Stand More
Having taken on the ‘standing desk’ routine at home (which you can read about in a previous post), I’ll be realizing a similar set-up at work, allowing me to burn more calories, put less strain on my back, and no doubt feel more energized and creative generally.

Drink Less Coffee
Hmm.

Eat Less Red Meat
Again, easily achievable, since I’m pretty much doing that anyway (although Christmas obviously had an over-indulgence impact that will no doubt take a few days/weeks/months to wear off).

Hit More Deadlines
Last year was a bit hitty-missy with the old deadlines, so I’ll have to be more circumspect in order to avoid having to move things around. It’s part of knowing what I’m capable of, and what I’m not. By creating realistic deadlines, this should be a relatively painless process.

Get the Word Out
Okay, so I have been a bit lax in promoting/marketing my scribblings, so this is a major task that’ll necessitate a bit of thought.

Explore
There’s a few areas I’d like to get into that’ll likely take up a big chunk of time – pod-casts and video are the way forward and I don’t want to get left behind. Keeping up with technological changes, fads and fashions isn’t always easy, but as we indie authors know, you can’t simply do things the way you’ve always done it and expect the world to respond. As David Bowie used to say: “Everything ch-ch-ch-changes.”

This Year Winding Down Now…

Dylan Thomas

Misquoting Dylan Thomas is as good a way as any to start one of my final posts of 2015. As the year draws to a close, it’s always useful (I like to think) to look back on all my achievements in the last twelve months.

Naturally, I wouldn’t be doing this if I hadn’t achieved anything, so it’s just as well I’ve managed to add a few notches to my literary bedpost.

So, to sum up my wordish year…

Eeh – Books

At the end of July this year, I took the plunge and uploaded the first of my children’s novels ‘The Architect’s Apprentice’ to Smashwords. Of course, I had to spend a good chunk of time familiarising myself with how everything works in the land of eBooks, but it wasn’t so difficult and I now have 4  Children’s novels, 3 Stage Plays, 2 Short Stories and a Collection of Short Stories to go with my non-existent pear tree. Oh, and a non-fiction volume about writing.

Stories

Continuing the theme of publishing success from 2014, this year has seen seven more of my short stories in literary mags, including most recently, ‘Magic Man’, my working-class tale of a failed magician. The story appears in ‘Fresh Ink Volume 1 and is available as an eBook published by Oxford Waters.

Paperback Writer

My Autumn Project was to move into the world of paperbacks, and to this end, nine of my books are now obtainable via Amazon as actual physical, get-your-hand-on-em books!

Not everything has gone to plan, of course, and I’ve found that even though I’ve been able to maintain a pretty rigorous writing regime, there are still a couple of things I had fully expected to finish, that remain, er, unfinished. The follow-up to ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall’ will now not appear until March, while my first thriller (for grown-ups)  ‘Ariadne 7’ will be out in February.

Lastly, though the numbers aren’t exactly stunning, I am actually selling a few books. Which is nice. So, as Del-Boy likes to say “This time next year…”

(If you’d like to hear Dylan Thomas reading the poem misquoted above, click here).

Blackwater Lake by Maggie James

Blackwater Lake James
Blackwater Lake
3-stars

Back from his idyllic life in Crete, Matthew is somewhat disinclined to spend time at his family home – with a house chock-full of junk and rubbish, his mother’s hoarding habit holds only negative memories. Inevitably, he can’t avoid it forever, but discovering his mother is dying, turns out to be only the first of several shocks: her personality is horribly changed and the apparently nonsensical ramblings are unsettling. However, when the couple disappear and apparently commit suicide, Matthew is forced to face the dread of clearing the house, and soon finds there’s a lot more to his parents’ past then he’d ever imagined.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book – it’s a little slow to get going but once it does, the tension builds nicely and the denouement is unexpected. Having said this, the first couple of chapters almost stopped me reading – two or three phrases were repeated so often that it was like reading a first draft. Thankfully, Ms James got her act together and the rest of the story was highly enjoyable. The three-stars are due to those poorly edited first chapters, though won’t put me off reading more of her work.

 
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Paperback Writer – Making Books

While thousands of Indie authors get published via the eBook route, thousands more are venturing into the world of paperbacks. Over recent months I’ve been seeing more and more blog posts about one of the popular options – Createspace – so I thought it was time I found out a bit more…How the World Turns and other stories COVER 4 150x

Createspace is an Amazon company, so I was a little bit wary, not wanting to be persuaded to go down the ‘exclusivity’ route, but to my surprise that wasn’t an issue (as it can be with their ebooks). I already have a few ebooks on Amazon, although Smashwords is still the top favourite in terms of listing my complete bibliography (due to being able to list books as ‘free’ for as long as I like).

I began looking at Createspace with a view to knocking out a paperback copy of one of my shorter books – ‘How the World Turns (and Other Stories)’. My initial explorations proved two of my main anxieties to be groundless:

How much is it going to cost me?

Will it be time-consuming and/or technically difficult?

So the cost question is probably the one I was most fearful of, but Createspace use a model that relies on my new pet phrase – ‘Print On Demand’. This means that there’s no cost to the author at all (unless you choose one of their design options). Once you’ve formatted your book files, sorted out a cover, checked the proofs, completed distribution, pricing and other relevant info, the book is then made available on Amazon (Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, Createspace eStore etc) so it only remains for customers to order your book. At that point, the book will be printed and shipped. Easy-peasy.

As to the degree of technical difficulty, I suppose that rather depends on how well you know your way around a keyboard, and how familiar (or comfortable) you are using image software, PDF’s and the like, though you’ll only need to go down that route if you’re designing your own cover. (There are several options for adding your book’s cover, such as paying the design team, uploading a front/back PDF from your own design, or using Createspace’s software to do it yourself).

In terms of the content of your book, the process is similar to formatting for ebooks, though as physical books do have to fit a specific size, there are issues around margins, blank space and font size that are maybe a little more important to get right than with ebooks. There can also be problems with certain fonts if they aren’t embedded in the original document.

When you’ve done everything else, it just remains to agree the proofs. You can do this online, though they recommend you order an actual printed proof to be sure. This is especially important if there are concerns about printing on the spine of the book, if you’re unsure about glossy or matte for the cover, or if images/text have been reduced to fit.

No doubt the cost to readers, as with ebooks, will always be an issue – none of us want to price ourselves out of the market, but finding that perfect price vs royalties figure is never going to be straightforward.

Generally, though, I’m pretty impressed. Indie authors rock!