Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Not quite Angel's robotic snake, but pleasing

In Dreams of the Machines (Time Rats Book 2) Angel the android makes a robotic snake. The offspring, in a nod to my book, got me this remote control serpent for Christmas.

I'm very pleased with it.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Dreams of the Machines (Time Rats Book 2) published!

And it's that rare occasion when I release a new book! Woop woop! (For once I feel entitled to scatter exclamation marks. There may be more to come. You have been warned.)

Dreams of the Machines is the second in my Time Rats series, with several new characters. I'm particularly fond of Angel, an on-the-run pleasure droid with a bit of an obsession with the Terminator T-800. Floss, Jace and Ryker are there too, along with scheming Quinn, still lusting after Floss, and a likeable rogue called Liam Roth.

Like TR1, Dreams of the Machines is published by Amazon's Kindle Press. It's been on pre-order for a couple of weeks, and risen quite high in the US charts, around 25,000. I'm pleased about this, because without a Look Inside on pre-order, it means some readers trust me to have written a good book.

I've done the paperback with Createspace. I enjoy formatting, and each of the paperbacks I've designed has been a little better than the last. When it went on sale yesterday, 280 out of 283 pages were on display in the US Look Inside. Panic! I emailed Amazon, and a nice representative called Ann A sorted it out, emailed me and left a message on my phone too.

I'm raising a virtual glass to TR2, and all its readers!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Tigers, real, robotic and quirky

I came across this beguiling video from the World Wildlife Fund...

...and it occurred to me that tigers have been on my mind lately. In The Trouble with Time, Floss is stalked by a tiger in a deserted London in 2180; one of the last actions of the last keeper at Regent's Park Zoo was to release the big cats into the depopulated city. In soon-to-be-published Dreams of the Machines, the man who invented time travel has also made a robotic tiger. In one timeline in the novel, by 2145 they are extinct. I do hope this will never happen in real life - after all, if humanity lacks the will to save the tiger, we are not likely to manage to save anything else, including ourselves.

On another tack, I've been branching out into costume jewellery lately. Inspired by Mortal Engines, where one character has a necklace made from CDs, I've been making jewellery from CDs. I've launched a shop on Etsy, and it seemed only reasonable to call it Quirky Tiger.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Imagining the alternative

I took this photo early Sunday morning on my bike ride into the workshop. It's a particularly nice street in Hackney, bollarded off so the only through traffic is bicycles. In 2135, Liam Roth, a rogue with redeeming features in Dreams of the Machines (Time Rats Book 2) will have a house here. It's either number 32 or 34, depending on whether you read the ebook or the paperback.

And I realized while biking along the deserted street that there were moments when I could hear no traffic or planes and see no cars or people. There was just the rustle of autumn leaves blowing along the ground, and the crisp sound as my bike wheels went over them. It was possible to imagine I was the only person in London after some apocalypse had removed everyone else.

And then I realized that if ever I were in that situation, when not gripped by grief, loss and panic, I'd be imagining that I was in a populated London and someone would stroll round the corner at any moment.

Is it just writers who do this?

Friday, 21 October 2016

Rambling thoughts on killing Hitler via time machine

Anyone writing time travel sooner or later trips over the trope of Going Back In Time To Kill Hitler - I did while procrastinating researching Time Rats 3. It's a fascinating topic that raises lots of questions. For instance, why is it always Hitler? If you were going to kill an evil dictator because of all the deaths he caused, Mao Zedong and Stalin should be first in the queue. They were responsible for a total of 100 million deaths to Hitler's 30 million. You can see a list of evil dictators here in order with photographs - and what a vile and unattractive bunch of men they are.

I'm slightly irked by the commonplace delusion that just because you've gone back in time, that somehow gives you access to historical figures. If you can't get to chat with the Dalai Lama, Theresa May or Barack Obama in 2016, why would you expect to get anywhere near famous people in historical times? (Socrates and Jesus are probably the exceptions here. They were both renowned for talking to ordinary people.) Once he reached power, Hitler survived 42 known assassination attempts, so was not an easy target. If you sensibly decided it would be simpler to kill Hitler before he was famous, you've still got to find him. At the very least, you'd need to learn German. Training as a sniper would be useful.

As to the morality of killing to save life, have a go at this Moral Machine questionnaire about the choices a driverless car might need to make. In various scenarios, you choose from a series of alternatives which group the car should plough into given a choice. My results showed that I favoured fit human females over everyone else. That'll be the offspring. Cats didn't figure - I turned out to be far more ready to sacrifice cats than most people. My reasoning was that cats don't have relatives whose lives would be ruined by their death. See how you do.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Dreams of the Machines (Time Rats book 2) selected by Kindle Scout

I was spoiled on Kindle Scout the first time. The Trouble with Time (Time Rats 1) was selected within 48 hours, before I'd begun to look for a result. Its 30 days ended midnight Seattle time on a Friday, and I found it had been chosen over breakfast in London on Monday.

Dreams of the Machines (Time Rats 2) took ten days, testing to the max my resolution not to fret. The offspring said, "It doesn't matter if it's not chosen, you can just self-publish," and this was true and comforting. Still, it's nice to be picked.

I've always maintained that it's a waste of time struggling to keep one's book in the Hot & Trending chart, so I didn't. I'm not saying that Amazon takes no notice of it, just that they are not likely to be impressed by nominations resulting from paid advertising, or hundreds of Facebook acquaintances clicking without reading just to be nice. A new website has sprung up (I'm not going to link to it) which for $94 will email 175,000 people about your campaign. They allow you to use this service every seven days. As well as this sort of thing, writers swap promotional ideas on forums and the bar gets ever higher. TR2 spent 49 hours out of a possible 720 on the H & T, all at the end, and had 406 page views. This is an exceedingly modest score - TR1 had 155 hours, and 572 page views, and that was hardly earth-shattering.

It's possible Amazon takes note of the ratio of nominations to views, and whether people nominate your book on the last day hoping for a free copy because they actually want to read it. It's nonsense to suggest that a good score will guarantee your book gets read, or will put you to the top of the pile. Kindle Scout editors consider every book. Many books have spent most of their 30 days in the H & T and been turned down. I'm not convinced that Amazon is interested in evaluating an author's marketing skills, either. What they want is a well-written book they think will appeal to readers - give them that, and they can handle the marketing. Anything you can do is a drop in the bucket by comparison.

I like TR2, and hope my readers will too once it hits the virtual shelves.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Dithering over covers

I was rather proud of my Time Rats 2 cover, until someone suggested it looked like a dystopian thriller cover, and didn't go with TR1's cover. (It was really nice of her to volunteer this; most people politely keep quiet over their doubts.) I'd been fretting gently over the gun, as Amazon is anti guns on covers right now, but didn't have a better shot to use.

I've come up with an alternative, the image in the middle, and would be grateful for any thoughts you have.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Dreams of the Machines (Time Rats book 2)

I've finished Time Rats 2 (I'm still doing ever more minor tweaks, and will be until it's published - and on that topic, see below).

I'm pleased with it; I like my new major character, Angel, a pleasure droid who escapes to the past hoping to start a new life passing as a human. She is pursued both by her owner and Ansel Quinn, now Chief of Intelligence at IEMA UK, who believes she is responsible for a swerve in the timeline resulting in an android apocalypse. Jace and Floss come to the rescue. I think it's an entertaining and, in passing, a thought-provoking read - but although I always say I'm the most difficult person to please, of course it's not my opinion that matters, but my readers'. 

Every book is different to write. Ice Diaries was my quickest, at six months, largely because I had a lull in jewellery work at the time. I found it hard to write, but went to work each day looking forward to the struggle. Dreams of the Machines took ten months, but before Christmas I did spend a lot of my spare time helping the offspring and fiancé with DIY in their new flat. Later I got stuck in a couple of places, and my daughter came round to supper and brainstormed with me, bless her. (When you get to the Everest bit, that was her idea.)

As usual, I did my own cover on my old edition of Adobe Photoshop I bought years ago on eBay. I tried to get more texture and atmosphere into this one while maintaining the branding. I do love making covers - it's like a treat I get for writing a novel.

I've been very happy with how Amazon's Kindle Press has promoted Time Rats 1. I feel incredibly lucky. They have sold thousands more copies than I could have done alone, and sales and reads of my other books have perked up.

I'd love it if Kindle Press published this book too, so I've put Dreams of the Machines on Kindle Scout for thirty days. You can take a look at it here. If it's not selected, I'll self-publish directly. If Amazon does want it, it'll go on sale within a couple of months after its stint on Kindle Scout.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Final tweaks to Time Rats 2

A week or two ago I listened to a BBC radio serialisation of a really good book, Traitor's Purse by Margery Allingham. It was read by Roger Allam of Cabin Pressure fame, whose voice I could listen to forever. But it wasn't satisfying.

The problem was that it's a book I know very well, so I noticed every time they'd cut a bit, and they'd cut it massively in order to reduce it to two and a half hours. And the bits they cut were all the small nuances that add subtlety and character to the book, which is why I remembered them. The plot was still there, and the main outline of hero and heroine, but much of the depth and detail was lost.

I was thinking about this in the intervals of going over Time Rats 2, tweaking. I know many writers cut when editing, but when I do it, my book gets longer. I'm adding in more of those little touches that abridgers, vile tribe, would seize on and delete. Because I think they're one of the best parts of a novel, making a book memorable and worth rereading.

(I've got this edition of the novel, minus its front cover. So much nicer than the horrid modern design featuring - wait for it - a purse. Duh.)

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The finish line is in sight for Time Rats 2

And it's that happy time once more when I celebrate reaching the 60,000 word mark with the WIP. 60,000 words is the point where nothing short of a truck flattening me and my bike will prevent my completing my novel.

I was tempted to show you the cover which is rather spiffing, though I say it myself, but I will wait and reveal it once the book is finished.

I really like what I've written of Time Rats 2 so far, and hope my readers will when it is finally published in a few months' time.

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.