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.

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!

Work in Progress


I can’t remember when I last gave you a progress report on this year’s literary project, The Legendary Semi-Autobiographical First Novel. Probably it was around the time I completed the Second Draft, which was when I put the project to one side for a while, to get some distance from it and allow it to ‘brew’ in my subconscious (which is where most of the hard work takes place anyway).

About a month ago, I started on the Third Draft. To be honest, I found the process a bit unsatisfactory. Beyond some mainly cosmetic changes, smoother expressions, eliminating unnecessary phrases, implanting some foreshadowing, there seemed oddly little to do. A lot was done at Second Draft level, but much of that was as a response to transcribing unfamiliar work in the First Draft. I expected to do more.

But I’m cycling back through it again, and this time it feels looser, more expressive. Ages ago, I described this as being like a collaboration between me and the younger version who wrote this down to begin with, and this time I feel like the modern me is taking a fuller part in the collaboration, is not being precious about his younger colleague’s words.

I’m looking, under normal circumstances, at about another month’s work, but after tomorrow I have eleven days off work. Whilst I’m reserving two of them for bingewatching Twin Peaks – The Return, and if the weather improves on us, I may slip off to the Lakes for a day, to make up for last November’s debacle, I should be able to take at least a modest leap forward.

After this phase, I’m hoping the book will be ready for publication. It still needs a title, and I’ve started trying to come up with something. I am absolutely useless on titles, it always takes forever to come up with something that feels right. At the moment, I’m trying to develop something as a variation to a very early Talking Heads song title, which means I’m looking to insert little lines, here and there, that would link to such a possible title.

At the moment, I’m hoping to get the book into publication through Lulu.com in November at the latest: in time for my birthday if possible as that seems appropriate. As and when it’s ready, there will be notifications on here, and I’ll be expecting my two regular followers who have expressed interest to dig into their pockets. I’m not saying it will make an ideal Xmas present, but I’m going to exploit every opportunity I can!

Book Making


It’s been some time since I last published through Lulu.com. Since The Revenge of the Purple Puffin in 2012, there’s only been two books, both based on existing writings and both which, for differing reasons, I’ve made Private Access, meaning that only I can see them on Lulu.com, and only I can purchase actual copies.

Having been so fallow for so long, it’s mildly amusing to record that I have now published three books in the last ten days. They’re all Private Access again, for various reasons.

The first of these, completed over the Easter weekend, is obviously The Legendary Semi-Autobiographical Novel, the proof copy of which should be arriving any day. It spurred me on to complete a project I have been adding to in a desultory manner for several months. I’ve written several series on this blog where I’ve taken an author and reviewed his career, book by book, and I decided it would be handy to have these all compiled.

Given the number of times I’ve done this, I decided to make this a two volume project, given that I had over 500 pages without having included Christopher Priest, George MacDonald Fraser or the current Lone Pine series.

So I added in the final author for Volume 1, and started down the Book Creation path again.

It wasn’t quite as bad as with the Novel because I’d had a bit of practice by then, and I also worked out a technique that drastically speeded things up by avoiding the worst and most finickety problems, and got it all worked out yesterday, though I was going to hold off with my proof copy until I’d been paid again.

Until Lulu.com came up with a 25% off voucher, valid only today, which had me quickly ordering it, an even more quickly completing the next of such volumes, which is devoted solely to the Terry Pratchett Discworld series of last year. That proved to be even quicker to prepare and steer through the Creation process, and the 25% off came in equally handy.

I’ve three more similar projects in mind, all of them compiling blog-series of greater or lesser length, all of which I’ll get to fairly quickly, before I forget any of the techniques I’ve learned.

It’s a bit mechanical, but the process is simple in itself. First, I need to prepare a print-ready copy, setting things like Font, Font size and removal of Orphan/Widow controls. I prepare documents in Arial 11 point on my laptop, but don’t like the look of that in print, so I use Palatino Linotype, or Garamond Light for the books themselves, still 11 point.

Since I’m assembling these volumes from existing separate pieces, the easiest approach is to set the Lulu Template to the Orphan/Widow controls and them cut and paste each article in order, having temporarily converted the source document as to Font and paragraph indents. I then insert a Manual Break so each new ‘Chapter’ starts on a new page, discard the changes on the previous document, and repeat on the next.

It’s repetitive, but in the end you will end up with a camera-ready master document, ready to upload to Lulu.com

This is where it gets complicated. Because even though you are using the Lulu Template for the size of book you want, when it makes a print-ready copy, it will tell you it’s had to adjust the document you’re uploaded to the size specifications of the template you’ve actually used!

However, a bit of practice making nearly perfect meant that, instead of having to download multiple Print-Ready copies (which are a complete pain in the arse to check) to ensure that there are no unsightly and unprofessional Widow/Orphan blanks at the ends of pages, I managed to get the Discworld Book complete in two passes, because all that had happened was that, in four instances, the revised layout had brought the Manual Breaks right to the start of a page, so there were blank pages between chapters. I quickly worked out how to eliminate that issue in the Upload copy.

And after three recent goes at the Cover Creator, I reckon I’ve sussed how to get through that efficiently.

But none of these volumes are available to such of you, if anyone, who might like to own one. Whyever not, you might think, given that the sub-title of this blog is ‘Author for Sale‘ (emphasis added).

Well, the Legendary is an officially unfinished first draft printed up as an anomaly. I’ve begun working on the revisions that will, I hope before the year is out, making it a publishable book. The Literary Criticism volume includes my Peter Tinniswood series, which included extracts from each book, which are obviously copyright to Tinniswood’s estate.

In the context of the blog, which is free for all to see, I’d argue that these are fair use quotations, appearing in the context of reviews. If I start reprinting them in a book for which I’m asking payment, that’s a usage I’m not so confident of defending. Besides, who’s buy a book that really only contains material freely available on-line for the price only of an Internet search?

The same and more goes for the Discworld Book. An entire book, devoted to Terry Pratchett’s creation? Without the consent/approval of his Estate? Oh no, not trying that one on. It’s not respectful, anyway.

For my own use and purpose, that’s different.

So why tell you all this? Just that it feels good to know that my bookshelf is expanding again, and that I’ve mastered the techniques that will go into producing the book I hope to have out there before this year ends. That’s going to feel even better.

The Legendary Semi-Autobiographical First Novel: On the Page


Back on December 15th, I announced (by way of creating a rod for my own back) that I was going to dedicate myself to transcribing a novel written in first draft thirty years ago, which I finally wanted to exist in a more permanent form than the original hand-written sheets.

I estimated it would probably take me half a year just to transcribe: I was out by the best part of three months. I also intended only to transcribe, but the further the transcription progressed, the more I got into my old work, and the more ideas came to me for improving and deepening it.

But first things first. I have been off work over the entire Easter weekend, and I have used that time to format and re-format (and re-format and re-format and re-format and re-format…) my final script until it looks as professional and physically correct as I can get it, and I have today designed its cover, and finalised it with Lulu.com, and ordered a proof copy.

It now exists, and anyone can read it. Provided that anyone is me, that is.

But the job I set out to do is done, and I am now free to start working on the Second (and any subsequent) Draft. I suspect that’s going to take longer than four months, but when it’s done, this version will be made publicly available.

I’m just going to relax out the rest of the weekend now.

The Legendary Semi-Autobiographical First Novel: latest update


It’s some time since I last updated on progress on preparing my thirty year old first draft novel for publication in at least a  private form. Since I last mentioned it, things have gone on quite a way.

The transcription of the original manuscript has now been completed. It go quite intense over the last six chapters or so, as I became obsessed with copying up each chapter so that I could read the next part of the story, so much so that once I had allowed myself to read the end, its transcription took a lot longer to make than the previous three chapters put together.

This achieved, there were some loose sheets in the binder I had to review. These included some additional or alternate scenes and variant versions, and those which were worth copying up, with a view to being used in the second draft.

I then wanted to create as pure and clean a First Draft Copy as I could. The transcripts had been decorated with alternate versions in different font colours, not to mention copious alternate lines and leads that will pertain to a redraft. These had to be stripped out, the chapters proofread, inconsistencies tidied up, gaps filled in (I had not interrupted the flow of the first draft by checking details such as, if my characters went to the cinema, what films were about for them to watch, and of course more proofreading.

This achieved, I then built a template copy for uploading to Lulu.com, involving reformatting, selecting fonts, font-size and removing orphan and widow controls on paragraphs split across page bottoms. I’m currently building in headers and page number footers, which apparently have to be reinserted for each chapter, given that they’ve been cut-and-pasted individually. It’s all very time-consuming. And dull.

But I’ve uploaded a preliminary version of the document and had an initial look at a camera-ready version. Since the Lulu template is slightly different from the identical Lulu template I’ve used (!?), this is now going to be a slow and tedious thing involving resetting any orphan and widow issues that creep in, and multiple uploading and downloading until it’s right. I may even reduce the font-size by half a point to see how that looks.

Lucky it’s weekend, isn’t it?

Once that’s done, I’ll select and complete a cover and order a proof copy for myself.

And then the hard work begins. But I have four days off, the complete Easter weekend. That’s where the Second Draft begins. Almost thirty years to the day after the first draft ended.

 

Savings on great literature


The longer term members of this audience may just remember that I started this blog to plug the books I’ve written (see Category: Novels in the archives). These are available through Lulu.com in beautifully (self-)designed paperbacks and a couple of hardback omnibuses.

In case you’re interested, for a short period, until midnight on 24 July, these books can be bought with 30% off. All you need is to use the code LULU30 (case-sensitive). Buy now, buy tomorrow, hell, wait until Sunday, just Buy!

The above link takes you to my author page. The rest of it is up to you.