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Monday, 24 November 2014

This is not a revolutionary post by Jo Carroll

I know I'm a pedant. So sometimes I need to creep into a corner and give myself a talking to. Language moves on. 'Gotten' will become an acceptable import from America whether I like it or not.

But there is one word that makes my hackles rise whenever it is used inappropriately (which is most of the time.)


A revolutionary (noun) is a man or woman whose actions or beliefs promote comprehensive change in systems or in thinking: Che Guevara was a revolutionary. So was Darwin.

Revolutionary (adjective) describes the beliefs, ideas, or theories that underpin that change. So Darwin's discovery of evolution upended all previous assumptions about creation and the impact of his thinking rumbles on today.

But the word has been adopted by the advertising industry and become meaningless. So here, for any ad-men or ad-women who might drop by this blog, is why I will never buy anything that you describe as 'revolutionary:'

Shoes cannot be revolutionary unless they allow the wearer to do something that has never been done before when wearing shoes, such as walking on the ceiling.

Washing machines can never be revolutionary unless they learn to do something other than wash clothes. In which case they are no longer washing machines.

A toothbrush can never be revolutionary. Even if it is dressed up to look like a rocket it is still a toothbrush.

Face cream cannot be revolutionary. You might claim that it hides all my wrinkles. But so what? Even if you gave me baby skin - it would still be skin.

Furniture cannot be revolutionary. A chair is a chair, even if - like Dali's - it is shaped like lips.

And writing? Can writing be 'revolutionary?' Ah, here I am on thinner ice. Darwin, you remind me. Karl Marx. Sigmund Freud. I am sure you can add more examples of great thinkers who have made unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable contributions to literature. But they are precious, and rare. It is a label that needs applying thoughtfully - an accolade for work that has made an irrevocable contribution in the world of ideas.

My travel writing is not revolutionary, though it might make you think. (You can find links on my website here.)

And this post is not revolutionary. But wouldn't it be wonderful if it were, and the word were reclaimed and returned to its rightful place in the dictionary.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Lev Butts' Top Ten (Part III)

This month I continue to count down the ten most important books and/or series in my life. If you haven't seen the first four you can see numbers 10 & 9 here and numbers 8 & 7 here.

Last month I looked at two books that changed the way I look at life. This month I look at two books that changed the way I look at writing.

6. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

This may well be the first book I ever bought
based solely on the cover and author. I didn't read
the summary until I was standing in line to pay.
As you may be able to tell from the previous two entries, I've always been a fan of fantasy. After discovering Tolkien (see last month's entry), I delved into other fantasy series: I read Terry Brooks' Shannara trilogy, Marvel comics' run of the Elfquest series, anything about King Arthur I could get my hands on (more on that later), and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (see September's entry).

However, in 1996, while wasting time at a local stripmall bookstore in Carrollton, GA,  I came across a book that was listed as fantasy but seemed like no fantasy novel I'd ever read as it was set in modern-day London's subway tunnels.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere tells the story of Richard Mayhew, a young Scottish everyman who finds himself drawn into the dark and feudal world of London's homeless when he attempts to save a wounded ragamuffin girl bleeding on the sidewalk. In his attempts to get her back home and discover who murdered her family, he encounters magical bums who talk to rats, meets the actual earl of Earl's Court, and has tea with the angel who destroyed Atlantis.

All while avoiding two antagonists who 
appear to have sprung fully formed from the 
opium-addled nightmares of Charles Dickens
Neverwhere taught me two things about writing: One was that genres can be blended; they don't have to be separated like food on a school lunch tray. In all of Gaiman's fiction, but in Neverwhere, particularly, such blending of genres allows the author to make the mundane magical. In Neverwhere, Gaiman presents what initially seems like a light-hearted, realistic romantic comedy of a man trying to balance his dead-end job with his demanding fiancee, and while this storyline develops steadily throughout the novel, it develops alongside the fantastic tale of a vagabond princess trying to get home and the noir-esque mystery surrounding her father's death.

The second thing I learned from Neverwhere is more technical: one of the easiest ways to inject a sense of magic and wonder into the ordinary world is to ignore metaphors. In Gaiman's world, metaphors are literal: There are actual black-clad warrior monks guarding Blackfriars Bridge. The Angel, Islington, is an actual angel. And you don't even want to know about Knightsbridge.

5. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

Despite the cover, this is not the heartwarming
story of a stone-cutting armadillo.
I first read John Irving's The World According to Garp when I was a freshman in high school after having watched the film (As a kid, I'd wanted to see it when it was in the theaters because it had Mork in it, but my mother wisely said it was too "old" for me).

"But Moooooooom."
I fell in love with Irving's quirky blend of realism, absurdity, and Dickensian plotting and determined to read everything he had written. Everything I read just got better and better (because I had randomly read the novels in the order they were written). Cider House Rules blew me away, and I didn't think anything could ever be better.

Then, the spring of my junior year, I saw A Prayer for Owen Meany in the mall bookstore and bought it.

If I were doing this list in order of importance, this novel would be in the top three, quite possibly the top one. Irving's seventh novel has so many things going for it I can't even list them all. It has what, for my money, is the best first sentence in any novel I've ever read:
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.
It tells you everything you need to know about the novel without actually telling you a damn thing. Who couldn't keep reading after that doozy of a sentence? And thus begins the tale of Little Johnny Wheelwright, the fatherless son of the the best-breasted mother in town and his best friend Owen Meany, the dimunitive, gravel-voiced son of Meany Granite Quarry.

Part retelling of The Scarlet Letter, part idyllic memoir of a New England childhood, part scathing critique of the Vietnam War and the Reagan Era, A Prayer for Owen Meany is so much more. If Gaiman shows us how to make the mundane magical, Irving masterfully makes the magical mundane. Only John Irving can fill a book with prophetic dreams and visions, near-divine miracles, and at least one visit from beyond the grave and make them all feel perfectly normal, like they ain't no thang.

I warn you, though; this is one book you definitely want to read. Do yourself a favor and avoid the train-wreck of a film they made from it. Jim Carrey's ham-fisted framing story is only the least worst thing about it.

I am doomed to remember a film with a wrecked plot—
not because of its plot, or because it was the worst film I ever saw,
 or even because it was the instrument of my first public fanboy rage,
but because it is the reason I lost my faith in Hollywood;
I am a cynic because of Simon Birch.
In short, I owe much of my writing style, I think, to both these writers. I don't think my novella Emily's Stitches could exist without Irving's influence, and my short stories "Misdirection" and "Gods for Sale, Cheap" both owe much to Gaiman's style.

Next month, we go into the ancient past and back-and-forth through time and space.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Why true life stories often don't make good fiction (aagh!)

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing (with chapters by lots of well-known writers) has been on my shelf for a while. I’ve taken it down from time to time and consulted odd sections but never read it from cover to cover. Well you wouldn’t would you? But when I was looking for another topic, a chapter caught my eye that I hadn’t noticed before. ‘Why true-life stories often don’t make good fiction,’ by Alyce Miller

Aagh! If I had seen this before I might not have spent several years of my life attempting something that’s if not impossible certainly very difficult, viz. a fictional version of a life-story that for some reason reached out and spoke to me several years ago and is still (just) a work in progress

Alyce Miller suggests that the writer who 'finds' a powerful or moving real life story is often too close to it to do it justice. Because he/she already has emotional investment in it, she fails to create this for the reader.  Restricting the plot to ‘the way it happened’ (because it’s true!)) rather than exploring alternatives is another problem and the fact that writing becomes constrained if what’s going to happen is already mapped out. Fiction, she reminds us, should be an act of discovery for the writer as well as for the reader.

My experience of historical fiction is that the problems are similar and in some cases harder to overcome. Of course there are hundreds of great books that centre on real people and events (last year i loved Robert Harris' An Officer and a Spy and Naomi Woods' Mrs Hemingway ), but I have come across quite a few that really don’t work, not for me anyway. Tracy Chevalier for instance used to be one of my favourite historical novelists. I devoured Girl with a Pearl Earring, Falling Angels and The Lady and The Unicorn

But what happened in Burning Bright, her novel about William Blake? Most people, including me, came away disappointed.  Remarkable Creatures had a better reception but to me there was still something missing. I never felt I was as close to the characters as I should have been. I can't remember now what the problem seemed to be, but in my own work I've encountered a certain reluctance to delve into the imagined consciousness of someone who is a real life hero as well as the character in my book. Or maybe it’s just that thing about the author being too close to the characters to actually convey them in writing. The other problem I think, particularly if there are primary sources available, is that it can be hard for an author who has done mountains of research to write something that conflicts with the ‘known facts’.  I didn’t read much of David Lodge’s A Man of Parts about HG Wells (biography buffs loved it) but the level of detail stopped me from being in  the ‘dream of fiction.’

Going back to my own project,  I can see my first draft had all of the problems listed in the Handbook with a few more besides. Character development was definitely ‘restricted’ (non-existent?) and I recall some plot possibilities being rejected because they were at odds with ‘the facts’. So was it all a terrible mistake? Well, I haven’t given up – yet - but I know have to see my ‘found story’ as an inspiration rather than a constraint. The story I set out to tell does not need ‘re-engineering’ as I said on Jane Davis’ blog recently, so much as re-imagining. So far I haven’t ditched the characters, but their story is starting in a different place and I feel it may not end up where I expect. Not the same book written differently, but actually a different book, a new voyage of discovery. 

As for Alyce Miller, I suspect even if I had read her warnings I still would have had a bash at this story. Some things you have to learn for yourself!  

Friday, 21 November 2014

Confessions of a Worrywart by Pauline Chandler

Some days, I’m completely exhausted well before nine o’clock in the morning, what with breakfast tv and the terrible news, and replying to messages on email, Facebook and Twitter.  
Then there’s the daily paper to read.

It’s all frightful. There’s no sense of calm any more. Have you noticed? Everyone’s worried to death and it can’t be good for us.  

And I've discovered something terrifying about bread.  
After two weeks, the white sliced bread, bought as an economy move, has not gone mouldy, which must mean it’s completely sterile. 

It's dead. When you eat white sliced bread, you’re putting dead bread in your mouth. I’m never going to buy white sliced bread again. Ever.  

Then there's the ladybirds. They're gathering in the corners of the window frames in the sitting room and kitchen, small crowds, cuddling into hibernation. They bother me and then again, they don’t bother me. They’re not noisy and I get a really good feeling from the thought that I’m helping wild life, but does it mean I’m a slattern who never cleans her windows and should I put my host of sleeping ladybirds outside, in the frosty  garden?

My friend urges me to support a woman writer who ‘lives her dream’, by devoting every minute of every day to her work in progress. Out come thoughts from Mrs Grumpy. 

'She doesn’t even wash her hair.  Ee-ew. Writers, artists, anyone, do not have the right to support, especially if they abandon personal hygiene. It’s lovely if you can wangle it, but don’t expect it. You’re not that special'. 
I reply that, of course, I'll help.  

Mrs Grumpy is followed by Mrs Irritated. 

'Why do people who ‘opt out’ of society, expect support? If you live in my country, and use its facilities and services, from libraries to public lavatories, you have to contribute. There’s no such thing as ‘There’s no such as thing as society’.  Listen up, we’re all in this together'.

Why does LIDL sell cat food labelled ‘for the sterilised and castrated’?  Indelicate.

Why did I buy chocolate-coated brazils, again?

Are there female zips? If the ‘keeper’ sits on one side rather than the other, is it like buttons on a shirt? Is it sword-related? Do boys mind wearing hoodies with female zips? If there are female zips.

Why is the man who is laying a new gas main in my road, smoking? Why is his mate standing watching him with his hands in his pockets?

If I eat a chocolate-coated brazil now, will it spoil my breakfast?

Why can’t I buy one kipper? There’s always two in a boil-in-the-bag, so there’s always one left over.  So sad.

Leftovers, like charity advertisements, weigh heavily on my conscience. They sit miserably, in the fridge, abandoned, like Victorian orphans, inexorably fading away without fuss. But, what is one to expect?  What can I do with two boiled potatoes? They're neither one thing nor the other.


One kipper and two potatoes. Hooray! Fish pie!


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Magic by Sandra Horn

How do we define magic? The dictionary isn’t much help: the supposed art of influencing course of events by occult control of nature or of spirits…inexplicable or remarkable influence producing surprising results (I like that one).

Is it too fanciful to think that it applies to the creative process?

Over and above the work – research, editing, re-writing, re-re-writing, sweat, blood, toil and tears, there seems to be something inexplicable, sometimes. Characters do something you didn’t plan or expect, or your careful plotting suddenly lurches into something else. Is this universal among writers, though? JK Rowling seems to plan her plots and people down to the last degree, she says, so are only some of us inflicted by inexplicable or remarkable influences?
I probably believed in fairies for much too long – or at least, in the possibility of fairies. I remember a meadow of wildflowers and long grass and butterflies where I almost thought I saw something. How old was I? Twelve, maybe.

Many years later, I read Tolkien’s claim that he found out about Hobbits from a book he’d come across: The Red Book of Westmarch – written by the Hobbits themselves. How exciting! I told my (relatively) new husband about it. He gave me a sideways look and muttered something about a literary device. What? Oh yes, of course…silly me. I expect I blushed at my naivete, but just for a moment, there, the possibility beckoned. We’re still married 40+ years on, by the way, in case you’re wondering – and I have (eventually) grown into a profound sceptic. I think.
But the possibility of other kinds of magic did remain with me for years: we had a ferociously grumpy German teacher (ie teacher of German) at school. She bawled several of us out of handed out detentions regularly, often with little or no cause. She frightened us, so we made a wax model, stuck pins in it, threw it on the fire. When she didn’t appear at the next lesson, we went from frightened to totally petrified. Had it worked? Was she dead? We hardly dared look at each other. It was just a sore throat, as it happens, but who knows what such concentrated ill-will can do? We didn’t repeat the experiment.
In the first pangs of adolescent love, I have willed someone to appear, to turn round and look at me, to respond to the heat of my desire. It never worked.  However, there is some evidence that ‘magical thinking’ – the belief that something – action, object, thought, circumstance, etc. not logically related to a course of events can influence its outcome, can work for some people (Piercarlo Valdesolo, Scientific American October 19th, 2010). Valdesolo reports on a Danish study in which participants given a ‘lucky ball’ increased their scores on a putting task. They also scored higher on self-efficacy and concentration when they were allowed to bring in a ‘lucky charm’ from home.  So the ‘magic’ or ‘luck’ was simply about self-belief. In the presence of a lucky symbol, people set themselves higher goals and persevered for longer – so rabbits’ feet, lucky knickers, etc. are not perhaps such a joke after all. I only wish it could work for me. The two beautiful little bronze hares on my desk are stroked regularly but have yet to ‘speak’ for me and conjure my stories into print or electronics. Could it be the wrong phase of the moon? I wish…
Still, one can enjoy all kinds of magic vicariously through books. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since reading Valerie Bird’s Angel Child, a book in which thwarted and twisted desires work in the lives of otherwise unremarkable people – or rather, people who would otherwise be unremarkable, but for wearing a rainbow or breathing scorching breath – that kind of thing. Magical realism. What a delight to find that it isn’t confined to children’s literature! For me, that was discovering The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende, in my adult life.

I have since gobbled my way through magical-realist works by other authors: Nights at the Circus, Midnight on the Avenue of Faith, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and the Chocolat trilogy.  Joanne Harris dips her toe in magic with the first book, and it really blossoms in the latest, The Lollipop Shoes. Scrumptious stuff.

And of course, there’s no reason why the characters and situations we invent should obey the usual rules of life, physics, space/time or whatever – it’s just making any deviation into the magical believable, even when it is in fact impossible, that’s the trick. I’ve dabbled in it with some of my children’s books – Piker’s sinister stone in Goose Anna, Hob in The Hob and Miss Minkin, Zeke’s mystical wood in The Stormteller – and for years now my silent child *Kai, who can feel himself inside the skin of animals, has haunted my thoughts in a book I don’t seem to be able to finish…but one day, maybe, one day. If I can only capture that elusive something that hovers just below the threshold of my consciousness. Anyone got a guaranteed lucky charm I can borrow?
*Afterthought: Kai is silent because his mother died borning him and she passed on her gift  and the silence of her death to him. It’s all but impossible, I find, to have a major character who doesn’t speak, but I’ve tried to make him talk and he won’t. MY character, made up by me, has a life I can’t influence. Is that some kind of magic?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

How Would You Describe Your Books? by Chris Longmuir

I was asked this question by an agent after a Society of Authors meeting when we were walking, along with loads of other people, to the restaurant where we had booked a meal. Now, my usual answer to this question is that I write crime novels, but this was an agent, and he was expressing interest, so I had to think hard. How would I describe my crime novels?

The answer I came up with was that I wrote dark crime. Darker than Agatha Christie, but not as dark as Val McDermid, although I thought I leaned more towards McDermid rather than Christie. And no, I didn’t get an agent contract, and the guy was probably only making conversation because we were in the same group.

But turning over this simple question in my mind I’ve started to wonder what kind of books I do write. I’ve written the Dundee Crime Series, but the only thing that makes these three books a series is because they are contemporary murder mysteries set in Dundee with the same investigative detective team. However, apart from the detectives, each book has a different set of characters, and is focused more on the victims and/or the perpetrators with an element of psychology thrown in. So, are they a series, are they police procedurals, or are they psychological thrillers? And how dark are they?

However, I’ve written other books as well as the Dundee Crime Series. My latest offering is The Death Game. Still crime, but historical this time. I’m still in Dundee, but the focus is on Dundee’s first policewoman in 1919. I reckon this book has a gothic feel with sections that are quite dark, although I may be wrong, let the reader decide.

And, just to throw you off track, one of my first books, A Salt Splashed Cradle, is a historical saga type romance, although I have to admit it is a bit grittier than a lot of the romances out there, and it does have it’s dark moments.

Getting back to the subject of dark crime, one of my reviews for Night Watcher, threw a wobbly at me. I’ll quote the bit that astonished me:

I’m not a crime thriller aficionado and I was initially surprised by it. The word that kept running through my brain as I read on, was ‘domestic’. Not in a bad way, just because I kept thinking ‘if Jane Austen wrote crime fiction this might be the sort of thing she’d write.’ (Cally Phillips)

I’ve never been compared to Jane Austen before, and I’m not an Austen fan, so I wasn’t sure whether or not to be pleased! Later in the review the plot is compared to Agatha Christie, and here was I hoping to be more like Val McDermid! But the review did make me wonder, had I written a domestic crime novel, or as stated in the comments to the review, maybe a dark domestic one. If you want to read the review you’ll find it on the Indie Book Review site.

Maybe you can tell me what kind of books I write? I’d be interested to know. And before I go I thought I’d let you know that the Night Watcher ebook has been reduced for the month of November from it’s original price of $4.99/£3.01, to $2.99/£1.90, so if you want to read it, get in there before 30th November.

Chris Longmuir

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Unexpectedly Long Life of an eBook by Catherine Czerkawska

The Curiosity Cabinet started out as a trilogy for Radio 4 back in the 1990s. I then rewrote it, with significant changes, as a novel. It took a very long time to find a publisher. It was some time in the late 90s, when I was looking for a new agent, that one of them called it ‘a library novel fit only for housewives.’ I wasn’t a newcomer in any sense. I had a long and occasionally award winning career as a playwright and poet, and two published novels behind me so I could laugh it off. But it still stung a bit.

Eventually, I secured representation at one of the bigger London agencies. She told me that she liked the novel, but she thought it was ‘too quiet’ to sell. Nevertheless, she sent it out to the big boys. I forget how many there were back then – certainly a few more than the current Big Five, but all the same, amalgamations had occurred and the so called mid-list was on the slide. Agents and publishers were already talking about the ‘decline of the mid-list’. One even confidently predicted the ‘death of the mid-list’. I knew in my heart that I was a typical mid-lister. It was an invidious position to find yourself in. Back then, anyway. One of the acquisitions editors pointed out that although she liked the book, they had ‘published something similar and it did less well than expected.’

Nobody wanted it.

Eventually, my agent suggested that while I got on with something a bit less quiet, I should submit the novel to the Dundee Book Prize. Some time after the closing date for entries, I got a phonecall. My novel had been shortlisted. Would I come to an event aboard the Discovery, in Dundee, when an announcement would be made? The reception and dinner aboard the Discovery was very pleasant. We soon realised that the shortlist consisted of only three books, three authors. And at the dinner, we were happy to discover that all three of us would be published, although one novel would win the overall prize.

The Curiosity Cabinet didn’t, in fact, win that overall prize but it was published. That was in 2005. I seem to remember that there were 1000 copies, very nicely done. There were one or two speaking engagements and a three for two offer in a big bookstore. It sold out comprehensively and was well reviewed, but there was no sign of a reprint. The publisher had declined to look at anything else from me. My work didn’t fit in with the way they saw the company progressing. Eventually, I reclaimed my rights – a process which, to give them credit, they made remarkably easy.

I found myself, some time in the new millennium, minus agent, minus any kind of publishing deal, but with several edited and unpublished far-from-quiet novels in which none of the gatekeepers was remotely interested. I tried to find another agent. Then I sent my new novels out to Scottish and other small publishers where they disappeared without trace, never to be heard of again. One charming individual told me that if I could come to his office, he ‘might be able to spare me five minutes.’ I declined his kind offer.

I think what really kept me going through that dark time, was the response of my readers. I was still being asked to give talks and readings, and people – especially women - were always asking me how they could get hold of my books, where they might find more of my work. The problem was that they couldn’t. It was in computer files and printouts and a handful of out-of-print copies. A lot of it. I still remember the mingled pleasure and pain of having a friend – an enthusiastic reader – say to me, ‘You know, we don’t understand how this could happen. We love your writing, we want to read more of it and we think you’ve been treated very shabbily indeed.’ Pity is never easy to accept but she wasn’t joking or exaggerating. The emails I got from other readers confirmed that.

I’d looked at self publishing in the past, but all I could find were unscrupulous vanity publishers who still wanted to wrest control from my hands and charge me lots of money for it at the same time.

And then, along came Jeff Bezos and Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing.

It wasn’t at all hard to decide to take my career into my own hands. My only regret was that it hadn’t happened sooner. I had been searching for something like this for years and had never been able to find it: a business partner who would facilitate distribution and let me get on with it, leaving the control of it in my own hands. I started small, with short stories, but eventually decided to take the plunge with The Curiosity Cabinet. An artist friend, Alison Bell, who loved the book, made me a new and very beautiful cover image. This was the first of a number of novels that I’ve published independently in eBook form.

Since then, I’ve also published a novel with one of the newer Scottish publishers, because we seemed a good fit. It was a very good experience and I’m writing another novel with them in mind. But the vital thing, for me, is that I have options. Options I intend to keep. Never again will I sign an exclusive contract with a single publisher. Never will I give up the right to publish something myself as and when I decide to do it.

Meanwhile, The Curiosity Cabinet has sold more copies as an eBook than I would have believed possible. As I write this, it has undergone another spike in sales and in its category on Amazon is sitting at #11. Sales go up and down. Sometimes I run a promotion – not a freebie, but I drop the price for a spell. And the sales spike begins again. I reckon the Outlander books have definitely helped. People who like Outlander seem to like The Curiosity Cabinet as well. I'm told my novel is nothing like Outlander and I haven’t even read this series, although I have heard very good things about it. I suspect what we have most in common is an attractive highland hero or two. Or ‘islandman’ hero in my case. Two books inspired The Curiosity Cabinet: Stevenson’s Kidnapped, and a wonderful old novel by Elizabeth Goudge called the Middle Window. I read it in my teens and never, ever forgot it.


Most of all, the Curiosity Cabinet has, for me, illustrated the potential long life of an eBook. For my publisher at the time, it was over and done within the year. And realistically speaking, that was all they could do. They must always be moving on to the next project and their next big project didn’t involve my kind of novel at all. So they jettisoned me, just when I thought I might be in for a little of that elusive (and in my experience illusory) 'nurturing'. That was, for them, a sound business decision. But it wasn’t my decision and it wasn’t right for me or this book at all. My agent back then would have told me to forget about it and move on.

Now, I don’t need to forget about it. I can blog about it. I can promote it. I can still sell it to readers who seem to want to read it. Lots of them. I’m planning to release it as a POD paperback, early in 2015. And all while working on a couple of new projects at the same time.

eBooks can have an unexpectedly long life. As readers and writers, I think that’s something to celebrate.