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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Chariots and muses

There's a very good piece about writing written by Steven Pressfield I'm going to quote from today as it's been on my mind. I'd recommend reading the full piece, You as the Muse Sees You on his website. This is what he says about inspiration:

"Here’s how the Muse works. Each day she makes her rounds (I like to imagine her traversing the globe in a small, open-top space vehicle, kind of a cross between the Jetsons and the old Flash Gordon serials), carrying her bag full of ideas. She’s a bit like St. Nick, only instead of giving gifts to children she gives ideas to artists. To Beethoven she gives da-da-da-dum, to Stephen King she offers Carrie.

When the Muse gets to your place, she looks down from her little rocket ship. Are you in the studio? Before the easel? At the keyboard? You’re not? Okay. The goddess cuts you some slack for this truant day. She’ll check back tomorrow.

What? You’re not on the job then either? Or the day after that? The Muse’s brow begins furrowing. You are disappointing her. She’s starting to get a little pissed off. Could it be that you don’t really want her help?

Your name has now become entered on the goddess’ Bad Boy List. How will she punish you? She’ll do nothing wanton or vicious. She’s a lady. She will simply withhold her favors. That problem you’re wrestling with in Act Two? You’re on your own, buster. Solve it yourself."

And I got to thinking about my muse. I picture her in a winged chariot (I'm a traditionalist) so I looked up some images on Google. There's a huge variety of chariots.

Here is Triptolemos in his winged chariot, which is also serpent-drawn. He's about to have one for the road. No breathalysers in those days...

This proves serpent-drawn chariots really were a thing. These serpents have wings, which must have helped, though the driver looks as if he's had just about enough of the left hand serpent complaining.
Here everyone has wings except the chariot. It must feel a bit redundant, but I suppose you could stash the picnic basket in it.
Now this is is just being silly. A chariot drawn by eagles?
For if you want to take your chariot fishing...

Here we have a neat little runaround, which would probably have no problem passing an MOT. Again, horseless. Maybe the patron who commissioned the sculptor couldn't afford to get horses carved...
This one I have grave doubts about. Who are those random naked people about to get kicked by the horses' rear legs? And where is the horses' harness? Unfeasible. Nice hubcaps, though.
And if you want to see a picture of very fed up lions pulling a chariot with an overweight Marc Anthony in it, go here. I couldn't find a non-copyright image.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Earning out with Kindle Press

Yesterday I got my first royalty report from Kindle Press (my first royalty report ever, come to that). And it was good news.

The Trouble with Time (Time Rats Book 1) went on sale on 5th April 2016. Kindle Press advances are $1,500. In its first twenty-five days, TR1 earned $1,412.70 - but for some reason, UK (and European) royalties are not deducted from the advance, and TR1 earned £226.81 in the UK. So TR1 actually covered its advance, plus about $240.00, by the end of April. Sales and KU/KOLL reads of my other books have improved, too. My reader email list has grown.

TR1's current rankings aren't as good as they were for the first six weeks, but I know Amazon will be promoting my book later in the year, so I'm fairly relaxed about that. I'm getting on with writing Time Rats 2, which is the best thing I can do towards improving future sales.

My experience confirms for me that Kindle Scout is at the moment the biggest opportunity out there for most writers. It's not true you need a huge social media presence to be selected. You need a well-written book with a professional cover that Amazon thinks it can sell, and if you have a book like that, your chances of selection are high. As in the rest of life, luck plays a part.

I should add that not all Kindle Press books are doing well. Predicting what will appeal to readers is not a science. However, it seems likely to me that those books are still selling better than if they had been self-published.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Writers do it s-l-o-w-l-y

We were discussing what to write in the flyleaf of a book when signing it for a reader. Donna Glaser said, "And you're supposed to think of something witty right off the bat. I'm a writer. I need three days, twelve revisions, and a proofread to be witty."

How true this is. Which is why we are writers, and not earning our livings on television. If I was as funny as Paul Merton, I'd be doing his job and not mine. (Mark you, I'd love to see him try to make jewellery.) It's common for me to realize what I should have said hours later. Not even l'esprit d'escalier, more like l'esprit de really, seriously, far too late. It's why I hate the phone (if you want me to agree to something I don't want to do, ring me up and ask), am happier face to face, and entirely relaxed via email.

My characters don't have this problem. They are articulate and sometimes amusing whenever they need a timely riposte. They have the benefit of me toiling over their dialogue behind the scenes. Just another of the ways fiction has the edge on life.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Kindle Scout myths and reality

Do you remember when Amazon launched its Digital Text Platform (now KDP) back in 2010? Members of the Ancient Guild of Doom-mongers and Naysayers rushed to the internet to say no good would come of it. Result? Many cautious authors waited to see what happened before self-publishing with Amazon, thus missing the first golden years of opportunity, while we more adventurous souls, the early adopters, made small fortunes.

Now the same people are shaking their heads over Kindle Scout.

Here's Victoria Strauss in 2014 - she really should update this seriously misleading post which I'm not going to link to: "Kindle Scout seems to occupy an uneasy middle ground between publishing and self-publishing, embracing characteristics of both while offering the benefits of neither. As with a traditional publisher, you must agree to an exclusive contract that takes control of certain of your rights--but you don't get the editing, proofing, artwork, or any of the other financial investments that a traditional publisher would provide. As with self-publishing, your book is published exactly as you submit it, with no developmental input or support--but you don't have control of pricing and you receive a smaller percentage of sales proceeds than you would with KDP."

Here's Mark Gardner (KS contender): "Kindle Scout is advertised as a slush pile for the Amazon imprints, and that anyone can win, but anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise. Those that already have a number of previous publications, a series, and huge social media following have the advantage. I've always considered KS to be the last resort before self-publishing. I recommend submitting to 'traditional' publishers, then KS, then self-publish."

Lincoln Cole: "What Amazon offers: they might edit it for you (which can be costly) and they might promote it for you. They don't guarantee anything and give themselves the option. Which means you have to work really hard to get the book selected, lose 20% royalties, and you MIGHT get some promotion and editing. So, is it worth it? I guess that is up to you. A lot of people say: Try a traditional publisher, then try Kindle Scout, then self-publish. Not many titles loaded onto Kindle Scout get chosen, and even if you don't get picked, it can be a part of your self-publishing marketing plan anyway."

Newbie writer David Haywood Young, in a piece that attracted very interesting comments when picked up by The Passive Voice: "To sum up: from a certain POV, this could be seen as a scheme to convince writers to submit their work and get reader feedback, in which Amazon gets to skim the most promising new fiction off the top and pay the “winners” lower royalties than they’d get otherwise."

What with Amazon-haters and disaffected writers whose books have failed to be selected, Kindle Scout is getting an undeserved bad press. This is a shame, because it's putting people off, and at the moment, Kindle Scout is the biggest opportunity out there for good authors who aren't selling as many books as they deserve to.

My KS novel, The Trouble with Time, Time Rats Book 1, has only been out for eighteen days, but I'm delighted with its rankings so far (I'll know the numbers sold at the end of May). I know it's selling better, much better, than it would have done if I'd self-published. I know that Amazon will be promoting it further down the line.

To help decide what you think of the program, you could talk to authors who are part of it. Or why not take a look at the Kindle Scout books on Amazon? You can see them here and check out how they are faring.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Time Rats launch ~ woohoo!

This is how I imagine Saffy McGuire

Today is the day.

Time Rats 1 is available to buy on Amazon, and so is the paperback in the UK and US.  And the Look Inside is there, hurrah! I was anxious about this, as some Kindle Press authors have had to wait weeks for this feature to appear.

This will be my first book launch where I'm not the publisher, at least of the ebook. (My very own Hoxton Press publishes the print book, nicely formatted by me. Practice makes perfect.)

I'm excited. From what other Kindle Scout authors have said on our private Facebook group, Amazon does not promote a book immediately. There's a wait of a month or three, presumably depending on what's available, genre etc.. Then, who knows? Some authors have had spectacular results. His to Win by Alison Ryan went into the US top 30 overall chart, selling thousands per day. But this is unusual. One thing I am sure of, Amazon will sell my book better than I can.

Authors are always told they must market their books, no excuses - but that's as sensible as expecting a salesman to be able to write competent novels. There's no natural connection between the ability to write a good book, and the ability to sell it. I shall do my best, but it'll be great to have Amazon in my corner.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Time Rats 1 on pre-order

Yesterday evening Time Rats 1 The Trouble with Time went live for pre-order on Amazon, and nice readers who nominated the book on Kindle Scout got an email telling them how to get their free ebook.

It's quite strange, being used to doing everything myself, to have Kindle Press do it instead. I prefer to be the only person available to make mistakes, knowing I can correct them as soon as I spot them. I was fretting last night because their formatter hasn't put my chapter titles in the table of contents, thus resulting in a boring list of Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 etc. - just what I wanted to avoid. I've asked for this to be put right, and hope it will soon.

I'd be really grateful if my advance readers would write a review - even better if you copy your review so it's on both US and UK Amazon. Reviews do help to sell a book, and it doesn't matter how long or short they are.

Time Rats 1 will go on sale to the general public on April 5th. This is really exciting and nerve-racking. I feel so lucky to be in at the start of Kindle Press, which I think is going to be huge. Go Amazon!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Big Publishing, Kindle Scout, and the next Lee Child

Lee Child and his publisher, Bantam Press (a Random Penguin imprint) have done well for each other. There's no reason Child would want to jump ship. But what about the next Lee Child? Let's imagine Lee Child 2 has written a gritty, compelling thriller. What would he do with it?

He could self publish. But he's a newbie, and like all newbies, thinks traditional publishing is the real deal. He wants to be able to answer, when friends ask who his publisher is, with the name they'll have heard of, Penguin or Harper Collins. He has visions of his book stacked in the windows of book shops; a desk, a queue, a pile of books, a pen. He doesn't know his vision is twenty years out of date.

So he buys a copy of Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, and sends out his three chapters to agents. One of two things will happen:
  1. An agent will think she can sell his book to a publisher. She will sign him up, and maybe get him a publishing deal. Unless he is insanely lucky, the advance is likely to be modest, and his royalty will be around 8% for print, 25% for ebooks, paid twice a year, out of which he will pay his agent 15%. The ebook will be priced high, to protect print sales. The print version will have only a few months in bookshops to find its readers before being returned and pulped - but the publisher retains the rights for the length of the copyright, 70 years after the author dies. There won't be much in the way of marketing. If the book does not perform well the publisher will not want his next book, and he will have to change his name and start again.
  2. More likely though, he will not be able to find an agent to take him on. After a frustrating year or so, he'll look at other options.
Self publishing can seem daunting. It's a steep learning curve. While Lee Child 2 is poking around the internet looking for guidance, he'll probably come across Amazon's Kindle Scout. Advantages from LC2's point of view: unlike submitting to agents, it's a quick process, less than 45 days to get a decision. If chosen, his book will be on sale in two or three months. He'll receive $1,500 advance immediately, and a royalty of 50% paid monthly, for all rights but print. If sales earn him less than $25,000 in five years, he can get his rights back. And best of all, Amazon will market his book. All he needs is a good cover, and he's discovered while prowling round the internet that good covers are readily available and affordable.

I think, as Kindle Scout gets bigger and better known, and some Kindle Press authors become best sellers, it will become the first place an ambitious new writer will try. Amazon will corner the market in fresh talent. And this might just be the coup de grâce for Big Publishing, who now account for less than a quarter of ebook purchases on Amazon, while indies are closing in on 45% (see Author Earnings). Compare and contrast Harper Collin's now defunct Authonomy with Kindle Scout - I could write a whole other blog post about this. Amazon has a sense of purpose and direction Harper Collins woefully lacks.

The Big 5 should make the most of their big hitting authors, because once they are gone, there probably won't be any more coming their way.

Friday, 4 March 2016

My Kindle Scout Author tee shirt arrives!


Yesterday a parcel arrived at the workshop, all the way from Seattle

Inside was my exclusive Kindle Scout Author tee shirt, to celebrate the anniversary of the launch of Kindle Press Publications. In their first year they have published over 100 books, which have garnered more than 5,000 reviews. Amazon does not mess about.

I'm very pleased with my author tee shirt. I like the colour, and the V neck (so much nicer than a round neck) and the lovely soft feel of the fabric. The fit is perfect.

I shall be wearing this a lot this summer, hoping people will ask me what it is. I fear I cannot be relied upon not to tell them even if they don't ask...


Monday, 29 February 2016

My Kindle Scout Kirkus edit

On Saturday I received the Kirkus-edited typescript of Time Rats 1. The editor says kind things in his summary about my plot, characterization and dialogue - and also praises my accuracy in keeping track of time, a major concern when writing about time travel. But I have to say I was not expecting the massive number of edits, up to two dozen per page.

I'm pleased that Amazon allows me the final decision as to whether or not to accept the editor's advice. I always want to make changes that will improve the book. Many suggestions, however, I considered and rejected - this is my seventh novel, and I'm confident in my writing. I believe unnecessary edits run the risk of losing the writer's voice. 

Don't think I'm not grateful. I know how expensive a Kirkus edit is, it's extremely thorough, and I appreciate Amazon wanting - and paying for - Kindle Press books to be the very best they can be. It's good to have a professional pair of eyes going over my novel, and some of the notes I seized on with cries of glee - Jace doesn't have a penknife, then a page later he's looking for it. Duh. There's the occasional suggestion of more felicitous phrasing or a better word. I am ashamed to own up to an errant apostrophe. And I spelled tesserae wrong.

I am entirely confident this editor pored over every word, and no error escaped him. Had there been any plotholes, he'd have found them.

Suggestions I've ignored:

Americanization of my prose.

Dates and times as specified by the Chicago Manual of Style.

Chapter titles with capital letters - now, I use chapter titles because otherwise, the first thing the reader will see in the ebook sample is a boring list of Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 etc.. Quirky titles for each chapter are more inviting. But capitalize them, and they become much harder to read. I don't want that.

Correcting colloquial speech in dialogue. Replacing all brackets with dashes. Replacing many semi colons with full stops - I like semi colons, having acquired them in my youth from Mary Renault.

Replacing all third person observations from a character's POV with first person italics on a new line, as if it was silent speech, which in my opinion is just weird and reads strangely. Do any writers do this?

Padding my prose - inserting words like clearly, just, still, somehow, simply, even, though, really, usually, anyway. I've spent years decluttering my prose, dammit. Ready and waiting is not an improvement on waiting. Just enough is not better than enough. Aren't editors supposed to take this stuff out, not put it in?

Altering a sentence for no obvious reason, sometimes making it worse. Reading this example after Jace has removed the locked TiTrav from Quinn's wrist once he was dead, I began to entertain a dark suspicion that this editor is tinkering with sentences just because he can:

My version: “So how did you get it off Quinn, then?” Pause, while Floss realized how he had got it off Quinn, and imagined him doing it. “Oh.”

Editor's version: “So how did you get it off Quinn, then?” Floss paused as she realized how he had done it, and then visualized him doing it. “Oh.”

This was my first experience of a professional edit. Have any of you had one, and how was it?

Saturday, 6 February 2016

TIME RATS 1 paperback


For the print edition of Time Rats 1, I decided to try Createspace. I've always used Lightning Source before, since I thought their product was superior, but I've recently been helping a writer friend with her paperbacks using Createspace, and was impressed by their quality. They have a sophisticated online preview system, which I found extremely helpful. Plus the set-up costs are quite high at Lightning Source, and with Createspace you only have to pay for a proof copy. Createspace provide a free ISBN, too.

That's my proof copy in the photos, and I'm very pleased with it. Ebooks are great, but there is something very nice about a physical edition. The paper is a little less smooth and creamy than Lightning Source's, but I can live with that. The main thing I would change if I could is the position of the barcode on the back, and unless you have your own ISBN, you are stuck with it where it is, and can't move it up and to the centre as I would have liked to do. But this is a minor matter, and I don't suppose readers will care.

I got the paperback ready while Time Rats 1 was doing its thirty day stint in Kindle Scout, thinking that if I was rejected, I could get the ebook and the print book out almost immediately. But TR1 was selected (woot!), and Kindle Press ask authors to delay the release of the paperback until they have launched the ebook.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Amazon's Kindle Press choose TIME RATS 1

I woke up to the fantastic news this morning that my latest novel, TIME RATS 1: The Trouble with Time, has been selected for publication by Kindle Press. (I blogged earlier about Kindle Scout here.)

I'll be a hybrid author! And Amazon is the only publisher about whom I feel enthusiastic. I'm as pleased as Punch and Judy, as the offspring used to say.

It's difficult to predict which books on the KS site will be selected; of the five I've nominated so far, only one has been chosen. That was The Girl who Heard Demons, by Janette Rallison, which I thought was a shoo-in.

My estimation of my chances fluctuated wildly during the thirty-two day wait. No one knows the precise criteria for selection, beyond the books being proofread to a publishable, or near-publishable standard. (Near-publishable, since Amazon editors check the text and make suggestions if necessary.) A look at the list Published by Kindle Press on the Kindle Scout site suggests the books have to be competently written. A good cover helps. Many of the chosen authors have already published several books.

But any selection process has an element of personal taste to it. Last Friday afternoon I was judging the modellers' section for the Goldsmiths' Craft and Design Council. There were three judges, and we all agreed almost without discussion on the worst entries to be immediately discarded, and the excellent entries to be considered for awards. Only when it came to awarding gold, silver and bronze was there a mild disagreement over which was the best; and I think this came down to a matter of personal taste. 

It gives a sense of perspective, to be judging one day, and judged the next.

Did I mention how pleased I am? I am very, very pleased. Dancing about pleased.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Cookie notice, or: I hate you, EU

You may have noticed recently an annoying grey bar descending on Blogger blogs. One appeared on this blog, without warning or permission. It said:

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalise ads and to analyse traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies.

Then you get to tick Learn more or Got it. Alas, however many times you click Got it, you will still be seeing this sign pop up. Over and over again, every time you go to that blog, or any other Blogger blog. Google never trusts you to have got it.

For a nifty video on why the EU cookie law is a truly terrible idea, go here.

I've disabled mine. If you want to on your blog too, here is a handy video to tell you how. Is this blog now illegal and subject to huge fines? I don't think so, because in a cunning move, I've added a notice bottom right warning my readers about the scary evil cookie menace.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Time Rats 2 and androids

I've decided that the best use of my spare time in the thirty days TIME RATS Book 1, The Trouble with Time, is on Kindle Scout is not to fret over the Hot and Trending chart, or spend time and money whipping up nominations. Instead I'm formatting the print version of the novel, and working on TIME RATS 2. 

EDIT: There's an interesting discussion on Kboards here as to whether this approach is sensible or a big mistake, with comments from writers who have been chosen as well as those who ran a 'successful' campaign and were then rejected. It's worth reading if you are thinking of doing Kindle Scout.

Time Rats 2 starts with a new character called Angel. Here's my elevator pitch for TR2: Angel is Brian’s perfect woman; gorgeous, loving and compliant. She’s also an android. He installs an illegal upgrade to make her as smart as she is beautiful; but once Angel is able to think for herself, what will she do?

While I was researching androids on Google, I came across this striking animatronic sculpture by Jordan Wolfson. Although he was not attempting to make a slavishly true-to-life android, but aiming for something edgier, she is so much more lifelike than those passive Japanese super realistic robots. This particular video, and the comments below it, set me on the road to creating Angel.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Amazon's Kindle Scout: TIME RATS


My latest novel, TIME RATS Book 1: The Trouble with Time, is up on Kindle Scout. What is that, I hear you cry? I will tell you, faithful blog readers.

Amazon set up Kindle Scout over a year ago as part of their publishing arm. It's a website where you load a new, unpublished yet publishing-ready novel (including a cover, tag and blurb) for thirty days. During that time, people can join the site, read the first 5,000 words, and if they like it, nominate your book. 

After thirty days, Amazon may or may not offer your book a contract, a simple and generous one compared to trad pub. To summarize, they will give you  $1,500 advance for the ebook rights, and 50% royalties. The author retains printed book rights. If, after five years, you haven't made $25,000, you can ask for the contract to be terminated. You can see the books chosen so far here, 111 of them to date. Amazon's been signing them up at a rate of one every four days.

The more nominations a book gets, the likelier it is to feature in the Hot and Trending Chart. Opinion is divided as to how much H & T influences Kindle Press's editors' choice. Some authors take it so seriously they pay for adverts to solicit nominations. My feeling is that Amazon is likely to be looking primarily for good reads, well written, that from their experience they believe they can sell. Not that I'd want to discourage anyone from voting for Time Rats  - far from, actually I'd be quite very grateful :o)

What's in it for readers who nominate books they like? Aha. If Kindle Press decides to publish a book, everyone who nominated it will be sent a FREE COPY on publication.

Friday, 25 December 2015

HAPPY CHRISTMAS - Remix on Amazon's 12 Days of Kindle


HAPPY CHRISTMAS
to all my blog readers

and may your dreams come true in 2016

Today I can tell you, Amazon chose Remix for their 12 Days of Kindle promotion, featuring at a lowly level on the same list as huge authors like Stephen King and Lee Child. It's on offer for 99p during the promo. I'm terribly chuffed to be chosen. Good old Amazon.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Douglas Adams' flat in London

I find it helps to describe a scene if I've seen it, so I was looking on Rightmove for a suitable place for my heroine's mother to live near Highbury Fields when I chanced upon this flat (link may expire). It's one of Douglas Adams' old homes. I've always known he lived in Islington, round the corner from me, but was never sure exactly where. The estate agent writes, 

It is not often that Hotblack Desiato has the opportunity to sell an apartment that used to be owned by Douglas Adams, who borrowed our name for a character in Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.

In the book, Hotblack Desiato was frontman for the mega-successful rock band Disaster Area, and spent a year dead for tax reasons. They may boast about it now on their website, but at the time the estate agent was not so pleased. For a while the firm's name changed to Hotblack & Co, no doubt because people assumed they had stolen the name from Douglas Adams, not vice versa.

This is the living room as it is today, fourteen years after Douglas Adams died too young at 49. I bet that pipe was there in his day, raising eyebrows. It's not the sort of thing you'd install on purpose. Why hasn't the house got a blue plaque? That's what I'd like to know.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Reason for Amazon's success - everyone else is rubbish

At the funeral of an old friend of mine, a great guy called Charlie Feathers, someone told a story about him from the 1980s. Charlie had recently done work for several rich and famous people, the latest being Adam Ant, and his friend asked him how he got these jobs.

"Because everyone else is rubbish," Charlie replied.

This is the secret of Amazon's success, too, particularly when compared with Big Publishing, who are spectacularly rubbish at what they do, and only got away with it for so many years because they had a monopsony. So many businesses don't really care about the customer, tick boxes instead of doing a good job, fail to apply their intelligence to what they do, and generally don't bother.

Consider my experience in the past week:

  • I ordered sample tiles from Walls and Floors. Instead of the two square blue tiles ordered, two rectangular tiles in cream and green arrived.
  •  DX claimed via email to have  redelivered the (I hope) corrected order yesterday, when I was in my workshop all day. I asked my neighbours in the building. Zilch. I chased DX. Apparently they didn't deliver yesterday after all, and I will now have to wait till Monday.
  • My gas supplier wants to check my home gas meter for obscure safety reasons. They will only give 'appointments' of a five hour window. They seriously expect me, as a self-employed person, to waste half a day sitting around unpaid at home because they cannot be bothered to organize a tighter schedule. Ocado manages to give an hour's window for grocery deliveries, and rings if running late or early. Why won't Lowri Beck Services? 
Meanwhile Amazon has started same day deliveries in London. I can't be alone in finding myself purchasing more from Amazon and less from everybody else. The makeup remover that the chemist down the road no longer stocks? Amazon has it. The palm sander pads for which my local Leyland charges £6.98 for 5 sheets? Amazon offers 20 for £9.99, with free delivery, or 6 generic for £1.99. Waitrose has stopped selling bean sprouts - but Amazon sells beans for sprouting. I could go on.

Any business feeling threatened by Amazon might usefully consider upping its game. Or shutting up shop.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Time Rats, animatronics and robots

I've been researching robots and androids for the second book in my Time Rats series (first book available soon). I was amazed with what is already out there. See this video:



These skilful imitations of animals increase one's appreciation of the natural world -  and make me brood on the threat it faces from ever-growing numbers of humans. The increase of Africa's population alone is forecast to be 1.3 billion by 2050, the date in which much of my novel is set.

It would be a sad thing indeed if the only big cats in fifty years' time were robotic.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Finished my time travel novel, woop woop!

I've just written the last page of the last chapter of my time travel novel, currently called The Trouble with Time.  (Or that may be the name of the series, as I intend to write more books about the same characters.)

It's always satisfying to reach the end of a book, though of course it still has to go out to beta readers, once my sister, a sort of pre-beta, has read it. I have yet to put it through Pro Writing Aid, to catch word echoes I've missed.

I'm a relatively slow writer, and this novel has taken me longer than normal, partly because of the day job, and partly because the offspring and her fiancé have been buying a small flat in London - which if you don't have much money is a task about as easy as finding the Holy Grail. She's been saving for years, and studying the market to a point where if she went on Mastermind, specialist subject The Cheaper End of the London Property Market, 2013-2015, she'd ace it. They're living in my workshop while wrangling builders. The whole thing has been taking a lot out of all of us. 

So that's my excuse for averaging 225 words a day on this novel. Plus, as I've grumbled before, time travel logistics scramble the brain.

This is the cover I made for Write On, but I'm going to experiment with other options before publishing, and maybe get my trusty blog readers to vote for their favourite.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

More thoughts on Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count


I really approve of KENPC (though goodness me, did they put any thought at all into that clunky acronym?) There is, however a downside.

Any less than best-selling author can follow a reader's progress through his book. 

I was gratified when an anonymous reader powered through Replica in a day. But what about the reader who reached page 338 of Ice Diaries then apparently wandered off? I do hope he/she is all right, and didn't walk under a bus while engrossed in Tori's struggle to survive. Worst of all, though, is the person who read three pages of Remix four days ago and no more since.

There is only one solution to this. I need to sell as many books as Hugh Howey, then the daily pages read figure will be so stratospheric that I won't be able to discern individual readers who fail to finish my novels.

Right. I'm off to work on this.