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!   

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…

How to buy books – an Indie author’s lament

BookshopHere we are – three weeks and a couple of days to Christmas, and thoughts turn (if they haven’t already) to thoughts of presents. And what is a better present for anyone from a few months to many, many years old than a book (or books!).
So – where are you going to spend your money?
The quick way is to go on-line and order the book you saw on the television, or the book most advertised, or the book featuring a favourite ‘star’, or a book written by a footballer’s wife’s hairdresser’s boyfriend? Or a book that that on-line bookseller wants you to buy?
A far more satisfying way is to visit a bookshop. There you will find books you may not otherwise come across. There you can ask a (usually) well-informed assistant for advice. There you can touch, browse more than the first few pages, get a real feel for a book. But even bookshops have their own agendas. They push you towards the books they want you to buy (usually stacked high just inside the door), the books that the publishers have ‘encouraged’ them to market prominently.
So how do you get to know about (and buy) an independent author’s books?
They are unlikely to be featured on online booksellers – though they’re there when you look for them. They may not even be stocked in many bookshops (apart from the ones the authors have personally visited).
So you probably won’t know about them and you probably won’t buy them.
So the best sellers lists will again be occupied by the usual suspects – the most advertised titles, the ‘autobiographies’ of ‘celebrities’ and the badly written sadomasochistic tomes with the word ‘grey’ in the title.
PS. To buy any one of my books visit www.carolynmccrae.com and buy directly from me (paying by Paypal); or visit my publishers’ websites www.troubador.co.uk or www.newgeneration-publishing.com  or visit a bookshop and ask them to order them or, if you really have to, visit the behemoth online bookseller and search for Carolyn McCrae.

The Glorious First of June

Glorious First of JuneIt is one of the small annoyances of life that some people expect the weather to be ‘glorious’ on the First of June. It certainly hasn’t been today, but still some commentators, phone-in merchants and pub-chatterers bemoan the fact that the sun is not shining brightly and the skies wall-to-wall blue – just because it is the first day of (meteorological) summer.

The Glorious First of June was a sea battle known by its date rather than where it took place because it wasn’t fought near anywhere – actually in the Atlantic Ocean 400 km west of Brittany. It is known in France as the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 because it was fought on the thirteenth day of the month prairial in the second year of the Republican Calendar. (See an earlier blog).

It was the first Naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars. The British and the French fleets were of similar strength (25 British and 26 French ships of the line) and the French were defeated in terms of ships lost and casualties sustained. The British did not, however, succeed in their main aim – which was to prevent a convoy of ships carrying grain to famine hit France. So it was a British tactical victory and a French strategic one.

Nothing – whatsoever – to do with the weather.