A Kindle Bonanza


I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks but the job is done. I have upoloaded three novels, a more-or-less trilogy, to the Amazon Kindle Store, and these are the links to find them and download them.

Firstly:

Followed by:

And lastly:

Feel free to coment.

On Writing – What they don’t tell you about


Sometimes, you can get sick to death of the sight of your own work.

I spent much of 2019 working on a third novel featuring the characters of Love Goes to Building on Sand and And You May Find Yourself. The book was complete in Second Draft by January, but I was unhappy with some aspects of it so I put it away for a couple of months whilst I worked on something else. Over the Easter weekend, I pulled up the Working Draft again and started going over it.

That meant going through it chapter by chapter, a combination of proof-reading, some revising, correcting slips (I had gotten lost in the timescale at one poit and needed to push the start of the book back two months to accommodate and there were still remnants of the original dating to correct). The final chapter was where I had really let things get away from me, and the most extensive work was needed to finally put the book to bed.

Then there’s the process of putting the book through publication at Lulu.com. This meant extracting each chapter individually to create individual word documents. Then eliminating widow and orphan controls en masse for each chapter (which just doesn’t work on documents of greater size). Then setting up a Lulu template for an A5 book, with titles, copyright, publication details and dedications. Then, one chapter at a time, converting the font from the 11-point Arial I use on screen to the 11-point Palatino Linotype I use in print and pasting the result, one chapter at a time, into the template, checking after each chapter to ensure there are no widow-orphan white spaces, balancing each chapter heading centrally.

Which means that over the past ten days I have read, or skimmed, through every bloody chapter four or five times, until, as I said at the start, I am sick to death of what I have written and never want to look at it again!

But the next step is to upload the print copy to Lulu where, despite the fact I am using the specific template for the book-size I want to create, it will come out wrong and they will re-size my text for the PDF that will be created, meaning that I will have to skim-read through the whole damned thing as many times as necessary to ensure no orphan-widow issues  creep into the print-ready text (if I have done things exactly as I believe I have done, it should all work out correct first time, but I’ve published too many print volumes through Lulu to believe that will ever happen).

Then I can go on to the cover designer to complete the process and order a print copy for my own library, where I will not touch it for a minimum of twelve months because, as I may have mentioned this, I AM SICK TO DEATH OF WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN!

This is one of the aspects of writing a book that they don’t tell you about often enough.

And You May Find Yourself – *New Novel*


It’s taken me a great deal longer than I’d expected, given that I’d produced the final draft by February 2019, but I’ve finally published my latest novel, my ninth in total.

And You May Find Yourself is a direct sequel to Love Goes to Building on Sand, which came out in 2018. Though it features the same ‘hero’, and many of the same characters, it couldn’t be more different, in that the first book was largely based in real events, and the sequel is the opposite. It’s working title was ‘The Wildly Overdue Wish-Fulfillment Fantasy’.

And as of tonight, it’s available through Lulu.com for £9.99 and P&P, and for your comfort and convenience, you may use this link. Order it, read it, enjoy it and writeand tell me just how good it is. So what if you have to lie a bit, friends do that for friends.

And in case you’re wondering, I am about two-thirds of the way through the first draft of the third (and final) book, which you can look for in 2020 if we still have a functioning country left by then.

An Intense Month…


… has seen me working on the Second Draft of the newly-named And You May Find Yourself virtually every day leading to the completion of the same this evening. I’m also working on a brief for my colleague who’s going to do the cover, but once that’s been passed onto him, I want to give myself a bit of quarantine time, leave the characters for a while, then go back and start a Third Draft.

I’ve got the story into shape, I’ve settled the timeline, some scenes are pretty near sacrosanct – a lot of crucial scenes were worked and re-worked mentally before I even started writing any of them down – and others need looking at, a bit more patiently. I’ll probably try re-writing some of these, instead of polishing, cutting, adding, rearranging.

And You May Find Yourself is a sequel, but it’s also an inverse of Love Goes To Building On Sand. The one was based on things that did happen, reinterpreted in a fictional form, but this is based on things that never happened, and is in essence a Road Never Travelled. I’ve no plans for a third book featuring the same characters, although I do know things that happen in their future.

So, with a bit of luck, I should have this published no later than February 2019, though Xmas would be nice: clear the decks for something else once New Year’s Day is upon us. I’ve enough part started projects to choose from. I’m looking forward to spending some fictional time with other people after two years with my alter ego.

Work in Progress


The fervent burst of writing that began the day of my Eskdale Expedition may have slowed slightly, but it’s still very much in evidence. Within the week, it had carried me to the end of the First Draft of my newest novel, a direct sequel to The Legendary Semi-Autobiographical First Novel or, to give it its formal title under which you can buy it through Lulu.com (hint, hint), Love Goes to Building on Sand.

Usually, once I finish a book, I take off a couple of weeks or more to cool off, but having been bitten so firmly by the bug, I went straight back to the beginning and started on the Second Draft.

The First Draft was simply compiled in a single document, entitled, in my usual manner, ‘Working Document’. For the Second Draft, I’m extracting Chapters in sequence, creating them as individual documents, enabling me to move quickly between parts of the story.

It’s been brisk work so far, already taking me up to chapter 14, about halfway through, though that count includes two instances where I split overlong chapters in two, having to build up the detail in one of the new chapters to avoid it being short.

It’s been the usual mixture of cutting and polishing and adding detail where needed, rearranging the order of events to create a smoother flow or avoid the awkward set-up of important sequences. But as I reach the midpoint, or thereabouts, I’m noticing a certain drop in the energy levels. I’m attributing this to the fact that I’m past the early writing period, which took place some months back, and coming into work that is considerably fresher in my mind, and also that, given my habit of working out the structure as I go along, I’ve come through the work that needs channelling towards what the book eventually turns out to concern, and into the section where I can an idea of where I was going, and where it would end.

From hereon in, the redrafting will be more cosmetic than substantial. Rephrasings, tightenings, that sort of thing. There are sections that I know will need a more radical approach, where I may well end up just rewriting from scratch. And my colleague who did the cover for LGTBOS has just returned to work after a lengthy absence and is eager to design another cover for me.

So: if I can get everything pulled together for Xmas, I will, or early in the New Year again. Though I’ve other incidents between my cast of characters in my head, and some of them drafting, I’ve no plans to turn this into a trilogy. Not yet, anyhow.

I do have four other novels in various stages of conception/part-completion, and I’m determined to get all of these completed. I’ve pretty much decided which one of the four will be my next project, and it’s not the one that has gone the furthest. I’m in the mood for something a bit more flamboyant for a couple of books.

Once I’ve got this one licked into shape.

New Novel: Final Cover


I’d like to express my thanks to my work colleague Lee Thompson for designing such a fantastic cover for my new novel, Love Goes to Building on Sand.

A revised version of the book has been created incorporating this superb work, which incorporates a lot of subtleties about the contents that Lee was unaware of when creating this piece.

And as none of you have yet got out and bought it from Lulu.com (hint, hint), you can now get the final version.

Thank you, Lee

Love Goes to Building on Sand: now available


People, Ladies and Gentlemen, for those of you not yet irretrievably bored by the whole thing, I am pleased to formally announce the publication of my latest novel, Love Goes to Building on Sand, a story with autobiographical roots but which has been thoroughly removed from its sources.

For those of you unaware of this project, it began with my decision, at the end of 2016, to finally transcribe a massive manuscript version of the story, written thirty years previously, in order to create a one-off private paperback for myself. The fictional version of the story absorbed me and I eventually decided to rewrite it: this is the result.

The book was supposed to be published in 2017, but a colleague who had volunteered to create a cover for me eventually was unable to carve the time out of a very busy schedule, and so I’ve done the work myself.

As always, I’ve published through Lulu.com, to which you can go to order a copy, those of you who are interested. Those who go via that route will discover I have thirteen books available (including two hardback omnibuses of trilogies), giving you multiple opportunities to entertain yourselves. Those however who are only interested in this specific book may wish to follow the link here.

Love Goes to Building on Sand is my first publication since 2011’s The Revenge of the Purple Puffin and has already done what I most wanted it to do: recharge my ability to write fiction. I am already deep into a sequel, which has virtually no autobiographical elements whatsoever, and I have four other books in different stages of incompleteness, all of which I plan to finish, given time.

You will, when appropriate, hear about these.

For now, feeling delighted to have once more fulfilled the purport of this blog’s title, I give you the book’s cover. Go out and buy, my lovelies!

Brief update 4


Doing the widow/orphan dance…

I use Open Office software, have done for a decade or so. There’s probably a knack to it that I haven’t yet discovered but one of the big bugbears about self-publishing books is formatting your source document for conversion into a Lulu.com pdf for ‘camera-ready’ printing.

Two problems arise. Firstly, Open Office seems to not want you to apply settings to complete documents. My drafts are generally unformatted so if I want to insert paragraph indents for the print copy, I frequently find myself having to apply these manually: set indent for para 1, carriage return, one space, delete gap tp bring next para up, backspace, repeat until hand falls off.

The other is widow/orphan control. This is a default setting, at two lines. It means that if a paragraph breaks over a page bottom so as to leave two or one lines isolated at the bottom of one page or top of the next, the entire paragraph will be dragged over into the next page, leaving unsightly and unprofessional looking white space at the foot of a page.

It will not let me uncheck it for a whole document so I have to comb through the print copy to eliminate widow/orphan in every instance it affects my format.

Then I upload the document. This has been carefully, indeed lovingly been formatted on Lulu’s template document for the book-size I am going to use, so that the pdf they prepare will look identical to my Open Office original.

It doesn’t. They always have to reformat it. This throws the page bottoms out of alignment. I have to download the pdf, scroll through it, mark all the places where there is an unsightly and unprofessional looking white space at the foot of a page, locate it in the print copy and eliminate widow/orphan.

I then have to check that this slight shift in the text does not introduce further widow/orphan instances later in the print copy. Finally, all such things eliminated, I backtrack in the book creation process. delete the existing source document, upload the amended version, wait for a new pdf to be created, download this… and start scanning for knock-on effects.

I’m on the second round, scanning in three-chapter bursts. There are fewer instances to correct this time. I’m currently taking a break, two-thirds of the way through. Doing the widow/orphan dance.

Brief update 3


Chapter 2 has now been tackled but, despite my reservations, there was very little that could be done. So the revised version has been pasted in to the ready-to-upload version, a short foreword has been added (now I’ve remembered which notepad it was scribbled into)and it’s done.

How do I know it’s done, given what I said about giving it a further run-through? Because it’s done. There comes a moment when you know it’s the end, because everything about the characters becomes fixed. They step outside your head and you can’t change anything about them any more.

Next step: uploading to Lulu.com.

Brief update 2


Yes, I’d not quite duplicated two scenes near the end. I’ve almost completely eradicated the first one, turning it into a false start, in which form it’s far more effective, as it enables me to layer yet another emotional eddy into the mix, whilst upping the ante on the second scene, into which I’ve spirited one line from the deleted first, once again adding another brush-stroke of nuance.

Which leaves me Chapter 2 to reconsider. And I’m wavering a bit over another look through generally, but then that starts bringing in the old question of when do you stop? It’s never going to be ‘perfect’: at what point does the energy that goes into further refinement cease to be worth it, and instead be better put to the next project?