Sunday, 30 December 2012
Just had an enlightening experience editing Ice Trekker. Lots of editorial suggestions, style issues, Britishisms ... yeah, yeah. No probs. Then a compliment! I nearly fell off my ergonomic chair.
Comments can be positive.
I'm already editing the sequel in my head before I've even written it.
Sunday, 16 December 2012
Then more frustrated people poured out of the woodwork. The most popular system was to set up a buffer filled with letters with accents and then cut-and-paste as necessary. I prefer key strokes, personally, and I’m quite au fait with cedilla, n tilde and all the French circumflexes and so forth. One book set in the mythical land of Krønagar was filled with Danish-style words using the minuscule, or ø. I found you could type it by hitting control, then forward slash, the hitting an ‘o’.
One Maltese author pitched in and made my head spin, explaining how they have one which is an ‘h’ with a dash across the bar and g, c and z with a dot on top. Apparently, you can’t do them in emails, but you can fix your keyboard to get them in text.
Many moons ago I remember typing up my thesis using two daisy wheels, which I had to swap every time I needed an accent. And these were considered better technology than the old ‘golf balls’ I used before. *!<>£/!
Friday, 14 December 2012
Monday, 10 December 2012
Where is this all leading? Well, not only do I recycle trees, I’m starting to thin down the numbers of books in the house. We can’t move for them! I can’t face selling them, but I thought I’d donate a boxful to charity. Hence, another trip to the tip, where there’s an excellent junkyard shop which raises cash for good causes.
Problem is, they don’t take books any more! Sign of the times.
So, off I went to a charity shop down the road, and they did take books. The customers were genuinely surprised, too. It seems that real books have no resale value, which is sad.
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Then yesterday, imagine my surprise when I received a deal for The Lost Orchid. I have a soft spot for this one – my first completed book.
Now seeing a little cross-eyed, as I’ve just been working out how to replace single quotations with double (and vice versa), without corrupting your regular, common or garden apostrophe. My checklist of ‘search and replace’ looks like some mysterious Holmesian code.
In the end, I used a system I’d devised when working at the West Australian in Perth many moons ago.
The trick is to camouflage all the actual apostrophes by converting every single apostrophe into a dollar sign to get them out of the equation. (’ll, ’d, ’r, ’s etc.)
Next, tackle the opening quotes: replace ^p‘ with ^p“, and so on. Plus other combinations of [space]‘
Then change the closing quotations, including punctuation combos: ?’ for ?”; !’ for !” and … ’ for … ” and so on.
Finally, do a one mass reconversion of $ back to the apostrophe, and you’re done. You can quote me.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Monday, 26 November 2012
The cassis gives the blue a deep, Arctic quality. It really does. And wow, how can something so cold be so volcanic! Also, it made my tongue blue, which was fun.
My next mission is conjure up a beverage to mark the signing of DARK INTERLUDE. I was thinking of Tia Maria or kahlua, but I’ve made some sloe gin for Christmas, and feel an experiment coming on. As the story’s set in Scotland, there should be whisky, too. Hm.
Friday, 23 November 2012
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Saturday, 17 November 2012
The story was inspired by a trip to Tromso a little while back. It's quite bonkers, full of strange beasts and mystic legends, all with a definite Icelandic flavour. Not Nordic noir, but Greenland gris, perhaps.
I was asked to come up with a 20-word tagline, and all that I could think of was 'In a land of myth and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young man. His name? Merlin.'
It's a cracker, and once it was in my head, I knew I didn't stand a chance of thinking of anything else. So, I found myself watching the blooper reels of Arthur et al on YouTube. Never knew Anthony Head was such a giggler. Maybe something will come to me ...
Meanwhile, already pondering a sequel, with the working title of ...
Thursday, 15 November 2012
Meanwhile, I’d been reduced to reading a real book – left to my old devices, as it were. I found a delightful Gladys Mitchell murder mystery, with a macabre cover and luscious parchment-thick pages. But, blow me down if it wasn’t set in Glasgow! (I’m being haunted by the place.) But the really odd thing is, I’ve become so accustomed to having a single page on display at a time that I find myself distracted by the right-hand page, and I have to stop myself from trying to sneak a quick look before I’ve finished the left. Most peculiar.
Monday, 12 November 2012
I'm rather stonkered to admit I've just e-signed the first contract. I'll let you know who when it's all done and dusted, virtually speaking.
I type the words and feel skittish. Yup. A contract. Well, e-contract, but hey. I read my Kindle all the time, despite Flybe telling me I shouldn't. [I sense another post.]
Now, when I say sign, you just use a different font in the boxy thingy. Well, font fetishist that I am, that had me going for ages. Comic Sans? No, I think not. Bookman? Please. No pretensions allowed. Rob suggested Courier. Not bad.
So, guess the font I chose. All right, it was Times New Roman. I owe it to TNR. I've written EVERYTHING in TNR. Everything. It's elegant, clear, unambiguous. You know where you are with TNR. I love TNR.
Tonight I love everything. Well, maybe not the snotty rejection letters from the past, but they were just character-forming. Ha.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
Monday, 5 November 2012
The afternoon drew on, the sun set, the blackbirds retreated squawking into the shrubbery. Let’s have a fire, tonight, said I. Time to stop work, said he. I fished out an old mag, and stopped short, having nearly ripped up a genteel article on … Mrs Darwin’s Greenhouse. What a gem it was, tucked away in a rather upmarket varsity publication, featuring ‘secret Cambridge’. I’m a sucker for Victorian glasshouses (and in another weird coincidence, I live in Glasshouse Lane), and this piece was all about the conservatory acquired by Emma Darwin, wife to the naturalist, in 1883, after his death.
The details were wonderful, even noting that it has remained unaltered, but refurbished, built from cast iron and wester red cedar, an American timber whose natural oils prevent it from rotting. The panes are arranged like fish scales to encourage rainwater to drain away from the woodwork. The greenhouse is now in the grounds of what Murray Edwards College (ex New Hall). All the heating pipes are original, and the current-day gardener has sympathy for the poor lad who would have had to get up in the night to stoke the boiler in the winter.
While I’m an orchidmaniac, I was fascinated to read that Mrs Darwin probably kept ferns there, its sunken design helping to conserve the heat. There are also some hart’s tongues lingering within to confirm the theory. So, all in all, perfect fodder for the sequel to The Lost Orchid, which I’ve called The Ladyfern Conspiracy. Of course, I’m already planning that blog too! You can read the article online and see a photograph of the greenhouse. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it – it’s a mirror image of Charles Darwin’s own orchid house at Down House.
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
Pay-what-you-want ebooks 'bundle' makes $1.1 m in two weeks
Meanwhile, on another planet, justice is served.
Amazon to be stripped of tax advantage on sale of ebooks
Thursday, 18 October 2012
I can be patient. I can be good. To prevent implosion, I actually found the time to write a review for the most delightful historical murder mystery book I've read in simply ages. If you have a penchant for an 18th-century Austenesque tale, with pre-Gothic gloom, then the stories by the modestly brilliant Lexie Conyngham are the most perfect offering as the nights draw in ... at Scoggie Castle. (I can hear Brian Cox in my head already.) I'm currently reading Knowledge of Sins Past. You simply can't say it in an English voice. You just can't.
The next trick is to do the casting, when one has one of those nights when one can't sleep for the high winds in the battlements. Major Keyes? David Robb, of course, but I'm stuck on who should play Murray of Letho himself. Ewan, maybe? When he gets back from the Yemen.
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
I was a subeditor in Cambridge at the time, the morning after the storm hit. The one Michael Fish stuffed up? Now you remember. I'd been out with the other subs the night before and had the worst hangover of my life, and then the bastards made me splash sub. I had to collate ALL the news stories that were pouring in from all over the UK. The only bigger chaos than the landscape of southern Britain was in my brain. I made it through, but it's all a bit of a blur.
So, I did what mad writers do. Made a book out of it, combining all the newsroom stuff with a mishmash of my personal existence. I don't know why, but this book turned into a RANT. The most cathartic thing I've ever produced. It's also the first time I've ever typed f*** so many times.
Journos. You know what they're like.
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Formatting. It's deep and it's mystic. It's an Arthurian-style bane of life. I know this because I'm a Celt. With a C. My grandfather actually changed his surname from Celt to Kelt, thinking it might seem less scary. I like Kelt with a K. I also like Celt with a C. Either way it means: don't mess with me. We Kelts still think about hanging the heads of our beaten enemies over the porch just to upset the postman.
Formatting. The Microsoft version is simply diabolical, but at least one can subject it to one's will. To make it function, one needs to drink some dark mystic liquor and shift into Mordred mode. Only then is it at your command. And never check 'add to template' if you value your soul.
Friday, 5 October 2012
So, not only is six weeks relatively short in the scale of things, but I was actually encouraged to chase up the response. Quote: 'Feel free to check on progress. I won't be offended!' Gadzooks. Wouldn't happen in the old days. I've seen comments warning anxious writers not to get in touch, with veiled warnings that their precious manuscript might just be dumped in the slush pile unread.
I like this way of working. And I'm off to submit another mss to another publisher right away ...
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
However, one particular specimen is a gem. Bought October 2011, it flowered throughout a strange winter, with its glorious fuchsia colours. Then into spring. On through summer. Now it's nearly October again. Still it flowers. AND. It has more buds. All for £4.99 from a Swedish furniture emporium.
It gives one faith. I look at the buds, the flowers, the glossy leaves. When I'm deterred by difficulties, I think to myself: If this plant can keep going, then so can I.
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
The Grauniad ponders the future, complaining that the small thumbnails are 'inscrutable jumbles of pixels that tell us little about the work'. I disagree. Personally, there's skill in creating the right look. After all, postage stamps can be a work of art. Like this, my latest read set in Iceland. If that cover doesn't say Nordic Noir, I'm a pickled herring.
I don't know about anyone else, but I ALWAYS go back and linger on the cover image, despite the fact that the Kindle starts me at chapter one. I go back. I savour. I browse. I dally over dedications, dates and details. It's naughty of the Kindle to beam me in at that point and I would dearly love like to override this particular function.
Furthermore, I won't abandon my endless fiddling about on Adobe Photoshop to achieve the perfect ambience. And yes, I shall endeavour to fanny about with fonts to make them readable in such a small format. I shall even, no doubt, add too much subtle detail which a Kindle might not even see. It makes me feel better, like the old story of the medieval sculptor insisting on carving the unseen rear of the stone pillar.
Thursday, 13 September 2012
Research. Love it.
Old pattern: go on holiday, gorge on masses of quirky murder mysteries. Get home. Slow down, almost stop. Make excuses. Feel guilty.
New pattern: read anything and everything, all the time, including more non-fiction, eg Machiavelli's The Prince, to political texts on the rise and fall of the radical left in Scotland. Mixed in with quirky murder mysteries, of course. Favourite so far? Morgue Drawer Four - an English translation of a German detective novel.
Not bad. Wonder what I'll be reading in the next few months?
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
The Creature from the Blog Lagoon - sci-fi news and monster movie gossip
Blog Man! - the site behind the man intent on outing infamous archaeologists
Mabinblogion - e-myths for Welsh readers
Blog Star - Patrick Moore’s secret shame
Bloglodytes United - soccer gen for sunlight-shunning couch potatoes
Egg Blog - a collection of lacto-free concoctions for veggies not vegans
Blog Spawn - fun forum for frog fetishists and newt fanciers
Blogwarts - cosmetic tips for acne-suffering teen wizards
Blogpipes Wa’ Hae - a Scottish site for sore ayes
Haven’t the Bloggiest - Facebook.
Monday, 20 August 2012
Friday, 17 August 2012
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Reinventing is good. Various agents have suggested this and that. Orchid Wars? Perhaps not. The Lost Orchid? Has some mystique. After much internal wrangling (tautology check: is there any other sort?), the orchid thingy will be The Lost Orchid. Actually ... not a bad choice, given the latest Churchill painting for details of reference. Check the orchid blog. So, now activate redesign of cover and back to the original premise before old-school agents meddled ... and hey presto.
Monday, 13 August 2012
The Numinous Place hits $75k target on Kickstarter as Russell Crowe chips in
Mark Staufer's ebook/app project will blend video, audio, images and text on iPhone, iPad, Android and other devices
Can anyone translate, please?
Saturday, 11 August 2012
Sci-Fi campaign bids to convert rare novels to ebooks ... a specialist New York bookshop is aiming rescue out-of-print books and provide them for free online ... acc to Grauniad. So, books and ebooks can coexist in the same universe?
Friday, 10 August 2012
Well, I thought about hiring someone to design a cover, but ended up doing it myself. Herewith the new-look sepia-themed cover for Dark Interlude ... a tense post-World War One adventure with political undertones ...
Another quick edit and then it's off into the ether and beyond.
Monday, 6 August 2012
Amazon.co.uk says UK Kindle users are buying four times as many books as they were before owning a Kindle in what it calls ‘a renaissance of reading’.
Apparently, sales of Kindle ebooks are now outstripping those of printed books.
How the publishing industry is changing. According to The Grauniad, unaudited figures from the start of 2012, show that for every 100 hardback and paperback book sold on its site, customers downloaded 114 ebooks.
Friday, 3 August 2012
If talking about bestseller lists give you stomach ache, here’s a bit of soothing seltzer.
Four self-published authors will have a total of seven novels on the New York Times ebook bestseller list this weekend, according The Grauniad. My favourite man, founder of self-publishing powerhouse Smashwords Mark Coker, is predicting the number is only going to grow.The highest-ranking is Colleen Hoover with Slammed, in eighth place, ahead of ebooks by James Patterson and Karin Slaughter. I’ll type that again. James Patterson and Karin Slaughter. Then there’s RL Mathewson’s Playing for Keeps in 16th place. Lyla Sinclair’s Training Tessa is 17th and Bella Andre has three self-published romance novels in the chart. A case of multi-storeyed success?
‘We knew this day was coming. Self-published ebook authors are landing on the New York Times bestseller list in a big way [and] lightning struck multiple times this week,’ says Mark. Go Mark. I love his enthusiasm.
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Monday, 30 July 2012
‘Nobody knows what sells. More so now because the market's changing so fundamentally because of Kindle and electronic publishing. With literary production, it's going to change the sorts of stories that we hear, which is amazing.’
And a juicy stat. There were 211,000 self-published books out last year, 50 per cent up on the previous year.
Quotes from The Grauniad to lift your spirits on a Monday morning.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
Found this on Writerly Gold.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
For Christmas, I bought myself a Kindle, and it changed the way I looked at the written word, and I’ve looked at a lot over years, some of them my own.
Just for a laugh, I even published my first book, The Lost Orchid. Even sold some. Then, I slipped into the doldrums, still sending out my new manuscripts to regular agents and publishers, albeit via email.
Enough! After downloading the free e-book by Mark Coker of Smashwords, I am upping the ante on my personal reinvention. He likes authors! He salutes authors, especially the unpublished aspiring ones. I feel all warm and fuzzy, instead of cold and despairing.
So, at six o’clock last night, I skipped the Agatha Christie repeat on ITV and started up a blog in my own name, which is rather scary. The grand plan is to set about publishing everything digitally. I shall chart their progress with anything useful or silly I find along the way.
Now I find myself hurrying to my laptop on an overcast Sunday morning after a shocking night’s sleep explaining why I feel the urge to contribute to the brave new world of digital books and author communities myself.
Bricks and mortar publishing is moribund. Well, I think so. E-books are the future. My last rejection, beautifully worded, regretted not being able to offer representation ‘due to the contracted state of the market’. I assume she must have meant the traditional chop-down-trees version. Not so much an epiphany, as e-piffle, in my view. And I am a member of the Woodland Trust, before you ask.
As far as I can tell, everybody is reading more and more. And people like me are writing more and more. A perfect match.
Next job? Choose which book to format and ping out there. And instead of footling around with Adobe Creative Studio as an excuse for not writing, I’m going to pay a designer to do the cover.Unless, course, anyone has any opinion on The Lost Orchid, which I redid yesterday. Too pink? Too old-fashioned? Does ‘seething hotbed’ sound odd? Tell me. Really.