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Showing posts from September, 2016

What do Authors Dread? Guest Post by Harriet Steel

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Apart from writers’ block, I suspect one of the things authors most dread is the question: “Where do you get your ideas from?” You probably have a little less than a minute to explain all the ways that your characters and their stories elbow their way into your imagination before your listener’s eyes start to glaze over. So with that in mind, I’ll try to be brief!

Observing everyday life is of course one of the great ways to get inspiration for your writing. I’ve often been doing a mundane activity like walking round the supermarket or weeding the garden when my attention’s been caught by something that sets off a train of thought. That might be start of a short story or it may even be the germ of a novel.

There have been times too when travelling has provided the spark. Separation from everyday concerns and pressures definitely has a liberating effect that can lead to all sorts of exciting new projects. It was certainly the case with my new release, Trouble in Nuala. This is a murde…

I am not a writer: NM Browne

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I don’t know about you, but when people ask me what I do, I am always a bit uncomfortable admitting to being a writer. I don’t think I look like a writer, or, at any rate, people are always surprised. Maybe a writer should be taller or younger or generally more like the glamorous members of the photogenic intelligentsia that grace the flyleaf of the better class of hardbacks. Maybe a writer should be a more engaging conversationalist who exudes high order empathy and drips bon mots. Maybe it isn’t either of those and my interlocutor is simply worried that they have failed to recognise someone they feel they should know. I sip my drink and brace myself. I know what they are going to ask next. ‘So should I have heard of you?’ This is almost always said in the tone of voice that suggests they already know that is unlikely. They look me up and down, take in the stray greys around my ears, that slightly wonky lipstick, the ill-advised footwear and guess my answer. I shrug and laugh and re…

DRAGONS and FINAL DRAFT

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Playing with images, I found this Chinese dragon, one of the many freebies we looked at (and rejected) as a base for a possible cover illustration for a story about a flying (well not flying exactly, more like gliding) kitten. This is the final cover of DRAGONCAT, designed by my techie expert David who'd never done such a thing before, but who was a very quick learner (unlike me). It was the only book I published without a previous publisher's blessing (the story was deemed 'too gentle', in spite of the fact it feaured a couple of knife-wielding thugs) - in other words, a selfie - and it felt like an achievement for both of us.

Publishers' blessings still mean a lot, and mine have not been exactly plentiful in the last few years. Being published is always exciting, even when it's happening on a regular basis - seeing what began as a few ideas dancing a jig inside your head turn into a physical book comes close to giving birth. But being published (by someone els…

“You May Just Have to Get a Job…” - Andrew Crofts

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“So, young man, what do you plan to do with your life?”
It’s one of the most annoying questions that well-meaning people ask of the young as soon as they leave school or university, and at most points before and in between.
It may be annoying, but even the most innocent, or rebellious, of young people know that finding the answer is the key to everything. When you get to the other end of your working life and look back, these people are asking, what sort of path do you want to see stretching out behind you?


In some ways I was one of the fortunate ones. From the age of sixteen I had an almost clear idea of what I wanted that path to look like, but when I described it out loud it sounded pretty naïve, not to mention vain, so I tended to respond to interrogation by looking down and mumbling something non-committal like everyone else.
What I knew I wanted was to be free to follow anything that caught my interest. I wanted to attack life like an overexcited dog hurtling back and forth a…

Publishing a Picture Book as a Kindle - by Susan Price

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Last month I blogged about how to publish a picture book with Createspace.
     This month, I'll tell you how we also published the book as a Kindle ebook.

Once again, we found How To Format Your Picturebook For Createspace Without The Frustration by A. Olsen extremely useful.

Illustrator Andrew Price had already used a graphics programme to produce all the pages, with the text embedded in the images. He had saved all these pages several times over, in different folders. Once as huge graphics programmes, with all their layers, at four times the size they needed to be. Secondly, as equally huge jpegs, and finally as jpegs resized to fit our Createspace paperback. You can read about this here.

To turn these pictures into an e-book, we had to decide between two programmes:





Kindle Kids' Book Creator...











Or Kindle's Comic Creator.







They are both free programmes which you download to your computer. They make it easy to turn a book full of illustrations into an e-book.
      We tried both …

Let's Try Something Old by Lev Butts

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The fight over the supremacy of ebooks or "real" books roars on. Everywhere I look (on my Facebook feed), people are arguing back forth with the same venom and aggression as mildly inconvenienced English professors in a faculty meeting discussing the proper placement of desks and lecterns.

It's getting pretty nasty out there for real. Clearly, people have not caught on that I settled this question years ago.

Despite that, recently I found yet another tiresome list of why "real" books are superior. I thought about countering each of the reasons with an equally good reason for ebooks, but that would pretty much involve copying and pasting the blog I've already hyperlinked. Instead, I want to make the case for a third format by countering most of the points listed in the article.

5 Reasons Stone Tablets Are Better than Books
1. Stone Tablets Are Durable 
Lets face it: Neither ebooks nor traditional books have the staying power of a good stone tablet. Ebook batte…

Planning, for travelling and for writing - Jo Carroll

It's that time of year again. The nights are drawing in and our thoughts are turning towards the winter.

Which means my thoughts are turning towards a winter trip. Where shall I go this year? I've long since abandoned any soul-searching about why I go away in the winter, leaving the rest of you in the dark and the cold. Just as I've long since stopped trying to work out why I write. I just do.

And researching the trip has writing parallels as well. Firstly, to choose a continent: I want to go to Africa as it's the only continent apart from Antarctica that I've not visited on my own. (Would I explore a new genre for the same reason? Possibly.)

Africa is huge. So I need to narrow things down a bit. Firstly: I'll stick to sub-Saharan Africa. That's still huge. So the next exclusion is anywhere obviously unsafe. In spite of all the hoo-ha, a trawl through the Foreign Office website and a couple of travel forums show that that most of Africa is fairly safe. Tho…

How to launch your book, by Ali Bacon (with help from Wendy Jones!)

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We Authors Electric are a far-flung bunch, but this month, through a happy coincidence, Wendy Jones and I found ourselves in roughly the same place at the same time. 
On Friday September 9th I was reading a programme of short stories in St Andrews in Fife as part of the town’s first Festival of Photography. Wendy, who lives just over the TayBridge in Dundee – said she could make it to St Andrews – and by the way, she had a book launch in Waterstones in Dundee the following day.  Some mutual writerly support was on the cards!
I won’t elaborate on my own event right now (more coming soon on my own blog) except to say that I had an appreciative audience (including Wendy!) most of whom were fellow photography fans and some of whom were movers and shakers of the early photography world. As well as getting some great comments from the audience it was a fantastic networking opportunity for me. 
Then next day it was over to Dundee. Wendy has already built up a following for her Dundee police pro…