Posts

Showing posts from July, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR - Xavier Leret

Image
Today's guest is Xavier Leret who is of Hispanic, Cuban, French and also, apparently, Jewish and Arabic stock, although looks-wise he has inherited everything from his mother’s Irish/North-of-England roots. His family on his father’s side were all taken out on the first day of the Spanish Civil War and shot. His grandfather survived the firing squad three times, only to die of a smoking related illness in 1977. After fleeing a monastery, his father (pursued by the Vatican) landed on the protestant shores of England, where he met Xavier's mother. Before each of them gave it a second thought they got married, and it was not long after that Xavier Leret was born.


Here he talks about his first e-book HEAVEN SENT and finding a publisher...


I was half way through sending my novel, Heaven Sent, to agents and publishers. Some copies made it into envelopes and one or two got as far as the post office. But I stopped. It was just after Christmas and I thought, what am I doing? Why not joi…

My first Post. Stuart Hill

This post has been published in Sparks, A Year In E-Publishing - An Authors Electric Anthology 2011-2012. It has therefore been temporarily reverted to draft status to comply with amazon KDP Select's requirements.

Monsoons and thrillers - Enid Richemont

I've almost finished updating and re-publishing my late 90s thriller for 9-12 year old girls: TWICE TIMES DANGER. Most of the updating involved technology. Feisty young girls, complex families, greedy, silly adults and Mafiosa-style villains have always been with us, but our ability (and desire) to communicate wherever and whenever does affect both me, and the characters in my stories. I've just finished reading Hilary Mantel's WOLF HALL, with all its political complexities, but no other means of communication apart from the spoken and written word. How profoundly has email, mobiles and social networking changed us, and is changing us as human beings? I really want to explore this.
It's been Monsoon season here in London. Some of my green things are loving it, but some are not. I love the visual drama of rainstorms, the building-up of clouds and that special smell you get when it rains after a long drought (not applicable this time in our strange non-summer).
At the we…

STORY ORIGINS - Susan Price

Image
Susan Price has been a professional writer for 40 years, and has published 60 books, for every age from nursery to adult.
Her first e-book,  Overheard In A Graveyard (£1-71p) is available for download here. Below, she talks about how she came to write some of the stories in the collection.
          I remember the exact moment that the title story, Overheard In A Graveyard, arrived.  I was watching ‘Silent Tongue’, starring River Phoenix as a simple boy whose Native American wife has died.  Grief-stricken, the boy stands guard over her body, scaring away birds.           The woman’s ghost appears to him: and the film handles the ghost very simply, but effectively.  She appears from the edge of the frame, or dashes across it – and as what appears within in the frame is ‘reality’ to us while we watch, she is, in effect suddenly appearing and vanishing.  She screams that her body must be destroyed before she can go to the next world.           My head is stuffed with folklore, and I was remin…

Kids, Get The Crayons! - Simon Cheshire

Image
From the minute I started on this DIY publishing thingummy, I've broken Rule No.1. Well, Rule No.1 according to every self-publishing website I've ever come across, namely: never, ever get your kids to design your covers - if you can't do it yourself, pay a professional.
I ignored that advice for two reasons: 1) I'm OK at designs, but I can't do artwork (unless it's stick people, and there are only so many books that'll suit having stick people on the front); 2) I can't possibly afford to hire an artist.
No, actually, three reasons: 3) I genuinely worried about doing the jackets, but then I took a walk around Waterstones. Now, I know this is going to sound harsh, but I thought to myself "half these book covers are just identical to other book covers, a lot of them tell me nothing whatsoever about the book, many of them look like the work of five minutes, and if I can't reach a similar standard myself I have no business calling myself a creative g…

Now on a Screen Near You - Joan Lennon

Image
It's happened! My collection of YA sci-fi stories has been e-booked!

There have been interesting posts here and elsewhere about the challenge of making our own covers - especially when it's for a collection. Do you choose one story to illustrate or something that, um, covers them all? We went for the second option. So, all we needed to do was come up with something that represented a story about a diary discovered in a deserted space station, one about a forgotten waterworld, another that was a re-telling of Macbeth on a gigantic spaceship - something that would be attractive without giving away any plot twists.

And then there were the problems specific to e-book covers - how they needed to look good in colour, in greyscale, as a thumbnail, mid-size, paperback book size. I love this cover best when it's REALLY BIG. You can see all the detail of the city on the back of the spaceship then. The rip in space started life as a piece of scrap paper with a hole punched in it…

What Next? - Karen King

Image
Do you remember typing on a machine that looked like this?

It was so annoying having to feed through two sheets of paper with carbon paper between so that you could save a copy for yourself. I often put the carbon paper the wrong way round which meant that the carbon copy was printed on the back of the top copy so I had to start all over again. Every mistake I made had to be carefully tip-pexed out then typed over, every revision meant at least a whole page of retyping. So frustrating! I was so excited when I bought my very first computer.


The screen was green, the dot matrix printout wasn't great and if I hit the wrong key I got alarming messages that I'd committed a fatal operation and would be closed down. Scary! But the delight of being able to delete errors and save copies of my work onto floppy disks was worth it. Computers have improved a lot since then as technology advances at an alarming speed. Not that long ago mobile phones were like this:
Now they are tiny, all…

We Like to Live in Groups by Dan Holloway

Image
(I hope it's OK to sneak in an invitation. On July 28th I will be at Blackwell's in Oxford as part of a panel called "Rising Literary Stars" with Naomi Wood [The Godless Boys], Lee Rourke [The Canal], and Stuart Evers [Ten Stories About Smoking]. It would be lovely to say hello in person!)

My wife keeps rats. Well, I absolutely adore them but they live in her study to keep them out of harm’s way of our 5 cats. When we were first looking around and doing our research, we went into a pet shop and there was a label on the massive rat cage saying “we like to live in groups.” I was sitting babysitting our two boys this morning whilst my wife cleaned out their cage, and thinking how this site is feeling more and more like a homely community, and how I have a rather long (as I’ll explain but not at length, don’t worry) history of writers’ groups , and how the very most exciting work seems to come from movements not individuals locked away in their turrets – Bloomsbury, The C…

Let the (virtual) champagne corks pop! By Ann Evans

Image
This time last week the wine was flowing, celebration cakes were baked, friends, family, and strangers alike were all invited to come along and join in the excitement...

The occasion?

The launch of my latest book, A Children’s History of Coventry. In fact it was a double celebration because fellow Sassie, Rosalie Warren was launching her first children’s book, Coping with Chloe so we joined forces for a double whammy!

It was exciting and it was fun. We’d both previously done book signings in Waterstones, but we thought why not keep those champagne corks popping and celebrate with a launch at the central library with wine, food and all the trimmings.

We’d enlisted some young ‘actors’ from a local school to read sections of our books, we had an audience, talks, questions and book signings. The whole thing was a joyous celebration – and quite rightly so. Getting a book published has to be the highlight in any writer’s life

At the same time – or to be precise about three weeks earlier, I’d man…

Cover story - Karen Bush

Image
I love this cartoon; it's a rough prepared by my friend Claire for a little joint project we hope to get under way at some point in the not-too-distant future. I've known Claire for over twenty years now: she used to illustrate a lot of my stuff when I was writing for PONY magazine, and when a publisher accepted a book I'd written and asked me to suggest a suitable illustrator for it, I immediately thought of Claire. She has a slightly dark, sometimes rather edgy humour that appeals to me - although she does also produce work in other styles. Since that first book she's gone on to illustrate several other books for me, as well as for others, putting that range of styles into good practice. Naturally, when it came to producing a cover for my Kindle book, I asked Claire to do it: I simply don't have the time or technical know-how, let alone the artistic bent for it. Knowing what you do and don't like is one thing, but producing something suitable from scratch is …

Awfully Big Online Litfest!

Image
At 4.30pm today, Katherine Roberts and Susan Price talk about e-books and Kindle over at the Awfully Big Blog Adventure's first ever online literary festival.

The festival runs all this weekend and includes a great line up of professional children's authors, plus competitions, book giveaways and a chance to ask questions, all for FREE without the mud or the traffic jams. So what are you waiting for? Tell your friends and enjoy!

Awfully Big Blog Adventure
Awfully Big Online Litfest Full Progamme

Outside My Comfort Zone by Lynne Garner

Image
Before I begin I'll admit I feel a bit of a fraud as I've still not managed to publish a book on Kindle. This time last month I was all set to launch my new book. However things never go to plan and I am in the process of totally re-structuring the book before it goes to my proofreader. In the middle of restructuring the book I remembered I had two magazines features to write, some one-to-one coaching to do and a front cover to design. Obviously when having a book traditionally published the publisher or packagers take care of cover design. I may get a chance to see a few mock-ups, perhaps ever say which cover I prefer but I've never had to design one. I have taught kitchen and produce design but with cover design I was working outside of my comfort zone. I therefore started where I would suggest my student's start, by researching covers with similar titles. I'll be honest that wasn't much help. They either looked dated, I knew there was no way I could achieve a…

The Dawn of Twilight - Debbie Bennett

Image
I’ve just finished reading Twilight and its sequels New Moon and Eclipse. For the first time. If you haven’t heard of Twilight, you’re probably that person who got left behind on Mars when the tour bus left.
You’d have to have been on another planet to miss the uprising of the vampires in fiction, television, film and just about every other media outlet. Vampires aren’t new – Bram Stoker created Dracula (it’s free on kindle) and even then it’s alleged that his vampire was based on Eastern European mythology – don’t shoot me: I’ve done no research for this blog post. But Dracula was dark, the spin-off films were dark (think all the old Christopher Lee films and the more modern Van Helsing) and this breed of vampire is a dangerous beast. Then came Stephen King with Salems Lot (James Mason has the sexiest voice in the film version), Anne Rice and her Interview With The Vampire (the film version lost credibility for me - Tom Cruise? Really?) and the occasional other vampire film or novel, …

The City - by EJ Barnes

Almost half my life ago, I started writing a book. I only had scraps of time to write it, and I did so on a flimsy desk squeezed into a corner of my small bedroom in London. Over the next few years I continued writing it, wherever I happened to be. In London there were sometimes cats fighting in the adjacent car park. In Cambridge, I camped out illicitly in the grandeur of a college residence, looking straight onto a Tudor gateway and a statue of Henry VIII. In the American West there were squirrels playing on the cables that criss-crossed the front of my apartment. Back in Britain, I found myself briefly in a bed-sit over a Thai restaurant.

My book – my epic, as my family came to call it - had begun with three persistent ideas and images. A girl abandoned on a lonely island with an old man, whose own history was mysterious to her. A Walled City under threat. And some fleeting, tenuous ideas about the nature of freedom, and whether it can ever be reconciled with communal safe…

“Short stories do not sell...” – Katherine Roberts

Image
This is one of those gems of publishing wisdom that rarely gets tested. Short story collections are believed not to sell, so they don't get published, which means they cannot sell (since readers obviously can't buy something that does not exist in book form). A self-fulfilling prophecy, in other words. But with a new way of bringing short stories to readers as e-books, maybe it's time to think again?

In theory, readers will enjoy any story that obeys this simple rule discovered in our local library:


Despite the popular concept of an "overnight success", authors seldom emerge on the publishing scene with a best-selling novel. It takes time to write something other people might want to read. It takes even more time to write a book a million others might want to read. In fact, it takes a surprising amount of time to write a novel nobody wants to read. That is why many writers cut their teeth on short fiction. Not that it’s easier to write a short story than a novel……