200 years… Or was it?

As we get used to being in the New Year I was looking at the centenaries and bi-centenaries we shall be ‘celebrating’ and found one of particular interest.

May 5th 2021 will mark two hundred years since Napoleon Bonaparte officially died on St Helena. I say ‘officially’ because there are other views – including the thoroughly plausible alternative history set out in my novel A Set of Lies the title taken from a saying attributed to Napoleon ‘History is a set of lies agreed upon by the victors‘ a maxim Winston Churchill thoroughly approved of.

Another of Napoleon’s sayings was ‘If you wish to be a success in this world promise everything, deliver nothing.’ Not wishing to be too controversial this does appear to have been taken to heart by our current Prime Minister and his government.


Using Kindle Create

As I’ve become increasingly disgruntled with the charges my publishers (Troubador for all titles apart from New Generation who published HER PARENTS’ DAUGHTER) make for ‘supporting’ e-books (getting on for £40 plus VAT per year per title) this year, with time on my hands to explore, I decided to go it alone and, notwithstanding sales from other e-book markets, concentrate my efforts on Kindle.

Kindle Create was a revelation. It is easy to understand and use and, although it has certain limitations, it ‘does what it says on the tin’ and creates a perfectly acceptable e-book. And, what is more, it is free!

I have now used this to add INIQUITIES (a re-working of the three titles of The Iniquities Trilogy into one) to my Amazon page. As my contracts with the publishers expire I am adding my other titles (so far HIGHLY UNSUITABLE GIRL, SECOND STRAND and just today A SET OF LIES) so all my books remain available in Kindle format. I think my next book – whenever that comes about – will be published only using Kindle Create and I might explore their paperback (print on demand) option.

The publishing world has changed so much since I first looked to publish my first book in 2007. In those days you found yourself an agent (or didn’t) who negotiated (or didn’t) a deal with a publishing company and all you had to do was write the book and everyone else did the rest leaving you free to write the next one (simplified I know but roughly true). As self-publishing firms (such as Troubador) became more main-stream you by-passed the agent stage and went straight to publishing. You got a degree of support which, of course, you had to pay for. In the early days, when there were relatively few self-published authors the exposure your book got was far more than is possible today. Now there is, necessarily, less support and the author has to do far more than simply write.

So is the next stage in the publishing revolution doing it all yourself? No need for an agent. No need for a publishing house. Go straight to the bookshop by using Kindle Create?

They say everything comes in threes…

This past week has seen a resurgence in my ‘authoring’ activities. First I completed Iniquities and managed to master Kindle Create to add it onto Amazon as a Kindle book. That’s the culmination of a few years thinking/writing/ignoring while doing other stuff/ going back and thinking it’s really quite good and worth persevering with.

Having successfully worked through Kindle Create once I then tackled Highly Unsuitable Girl. This hasn’t been available as an e-book since Matador stopped supporting it but it didn’t need much re-working. I added a few paragraphs here and there, changed the odd word and corrected the odd homophone before successfully adding it to my Amazon page.

Having completed those two the final one that hasn’t been available as an e-book for a while – Second Strand – took only a couple of hours’ work to get it converted and available to all. 

So that’s three e-books in the week and it was a great deal easier than I’d been thinking it would be.

All I need now is for someone to buy them!   

Author on a roll!

Having finally (after over three years) completed the re-write of Iniquities (and mastered uploading it to Kindle) I have been tackling those of my books which are not available in e-book format.

Yesterday Highly Unsuitable Girl became available in Kindle format and I’m currently working on Second Strand.

The really strange thing about all this is re-reading books I haven’t really been close to for years – it’s almost like reading them as a reader rather than the author and I ‘ve been rather surprised by how readable they are. I even cried at one point in HUG.

The other thing that has struck me is how interlinked the books are (with the exception of HUG) even though they are standalones with beginnings, middles and ends of their own.

Carl Witherby from the Iniquities books turns up (a lot older) in A Set of Lies.

Skye and Fergal, who meet in A Set of Lies, are central characters in Second Strand and Hostage to Fortune (they were in America when the murder in Her Parents’ Daughter occurred). And quite possibly they will populate more books as I get back into it.

The murder suspect and central character in Her Parents’ Daughter appears (briefly) in Second Strand and Duncan Hamilton appears in Her Parents’ Daughter, Second Strand and Hostage to Fortune.

Other minor characters crop up in the oddest places – usually Spain.

All you have to do, to understand what I’m getting at, is read them all.

I’ve done it! I’m an author again!

Finally Iniquities is finished! Finally the three separate titles of the Iniquities Trilogy have been merged and the final e-book is currently with Amazon and will be available in Kindle form in the next couple of days.

Over 300,000 words have been reduced to 255,746 (or thereabouts). The story has been tightened up, typos and other errors which got through the editing process for the original books have been corrected. This is the best I can get it. 

All that for £2.99! Very good value for the reader but not such good value for the author unless hundreds (thousands?) buy it. So buy it … Enjoy it … and Spread the word!

Am I now an ‘ex-author’?

I haven’t written much for over a year.

I’ve tinkered with my seemingly Sisiphean task of turning the three volumes of the Iniquities Trilogy into one for over a year and I’ve mapped out the plot for two new books but I’ve always managed to find something else to do rather than sit down and write them.

I’ve done a great many jigsaws – 3000 pieces takes me, usually, about three weeks, I’ve spent many, many hours doing Kakuros and Sudokus, I’ve spent hours tending my collection of houseplants (Tradescantia, Schlumbergera and Epiphilums as well as avocado plants such as this one that seem to just grow and grow), I’ve watched a lot of cricket on television – I’ve even done some housework.

After 20 years of having to make time to type my fiction I’m finding anything to stop me having to face bringing those current writing projects to fruition. It’s not writers’ block – the ideas are swimming around in my head all the time – it’s just that I can’t bring myself to put those ideas into words and commit them to the screen.

Instead of saying ‘I write books’ when asked what I do with my time now I’m retired should I now say ‘I used to write books’?

The End

They say ‘if you want something done ask a busy person’. I have no idea who ‘they’ are (or were) but I believe there is an element of truth in the saying.

Since I retired nine months ago from the business I had run since 1983 I cannot say that I have been ‘busy’. I’ve had ‘stuff to do’ but, although important and sometimes time sensitive, I cannot say any of it has made me ‘busy’.

Yet when I was really busy, when I had eight or ten hours of real work to do every day, I always managed to find time to write. Perhaps I did less housework, perhaps I neglected keeping in touch with family and friends, perhaps I never dead headed the roses, but I always found time to write – at times in the past fourteen years I published a title every eighteen months or so. But what have I written since I retired, since I stopped being ‘busy’? Zilch. Nada. Rien. Nothing. Not one single word. Despite having completed more jigsaws and crosswords and Kakuros and Sudokus than I care to think about I have written nothing. Perhaps I need to get busy again. 

Perhaps I need to get busy again…Or maybe I won’t bother. I’m sure the world can live without yet another of my books.

For the time being anyway there will be more of these…