Pleasaunces, unpleasaunces and a book break

Christopher Lloyd said that all gardens have an unpleasaunce as well as a pleasance – ours has several. In the last couple of months my husband has created order out of chaos and we are unpleasaunce down and several compost bins, new fence and a log shelter up.

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The rest of the garden is half way through June as far as I can tell.

… I am being forced to use the new editor as I cannot upload media in the old one… and it is sending me crackers!! I have no idea why these images are different sizes. Here, I hope, is my art-house image of the garden.DSCN9375

This post is really to say a brief goodbye as I tackle the pre-publication launch parties for the new book. Copies were due last week… they will now arrive three days before the first party. I shall be away from my desk for several days. My sanity is hanging by a thread. I am trailing behind  with all your posts, so will be doing some leapfrogging. Sorry about the ones I will miss.Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 21.26.02

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Proofs to the left of me, proofs to the right of me…

Free advice to writers – don’t try and work on two versions of the same book at the same time.

A couple of days ago I laid out the proofs of the private family version of Surviving the Death Railway on the dining room table in order to proof read it (again) and create the index. An hour later the final proofs for the published version arrived in my inbox. I cannot resist work, so I will check these again too.DSCN9154 I have to occupy the dining room as there is no space left in my writing room and the state of it is making me feel ill.DSCN9152And yes, my chair is an old block of polystyrene. It is a hangover from my sculpture days. It’s good for posture and it keeps the nether regions warm… but it has seen better days. I’m thinking of converting to a Swedish exercise ball.

The day before the proofs arrived, the marketing team for Pen & Sword got in touch and I have a five-page form to fill in. This is great because I will not be doing the promotion and marketing solo, a job I dread (and am very bad at). However, it is also a headache as I don’t know the answer to many of the questions (local radio? clubs and societies?), or they are tricky for a jack of all trades (short summary of career and education).

In between showers I rush into the garden, collect slugs, dig for half an hour and catch the spring. DSCN9161 DSCN9165 I barely get to emails at the moment and many of your lovely posts are unvisited, I will post this and go on a whistle-stop tour, but then I must get back to the indexing and the marketing forms. I am extremely lucky to have a publisher, but I am a little sad that there are so few hours in the day and that I am neglecting friends.

I have become multi-tasking superwoman – while writing this post I have printed off (one by one) another ten invitation cards to the second of the two launch parties for the book. Anyone near Cambridge let me know, I’ll send one, and you could come and enjoy sandwiches and sangria on the 18th of June (or near Taunton on 21st May for tea and cakes).

I have read the finals proofs… thank god I did, I found some errors I had missed and some gremlins that had crept in via the text editors.

Re tulips… the deep red flowers are Anemone de Caen masquerading as tulips!

Uh? And an old fence

I have several posts in waiting, but no time for responding. Still, this I had to share. Uh?Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 22.22.58 Apart from the weird price, my page on Amazon.co.uk shows only this cover of the print version, and shows it three times (some at normal prices), but does NOT show the internet-friendly ebook cover borderline (you have to click through) . They also put books by Hilary Green (not me) on the same page. I have no idea if I have ever sold books because someone thought I was her, but I know she has had sales because someone thought she was me. Grrr.

When I can snatch time away from my desk, and the weather allows, I rush into the garden to wrestle with ivy – by far the most prolific plant in the garden. We are slowly replacing our fence (or rather experts will replace, we just do the destruction part). The need is urgent, we rather think this part dates back to the 1920s.DSCN8921 DSCN8920 DSCN8932

In case you want to know, even (niche) mainstream publishing means you spend your time at your desk organising publicity materials, mailing lists, launch parties and worrying about who you have forgotten in your acknowledgements.

Spring is coming. DSCN8896

Edit – I have just had an email from the Pen & Sword commissioning editor. He asked, among other things, if Tara, Katie and the team had been in touch [not yet]. There is marketing and promotion, but apparently nearer to the release date. More when this happens.

Mea culpa – red-faced publisher

Umm, I have a confession. All this stress over Amazon making my life as a publisher (Threadgold Press) into a nightmare and endangering sales of my new book (Border Line) may be my fault. I asked them, yet again, why they did not send an email to me about an order, and I put in the email address I expected them to use. They replied that if I wanted to use this email address I had better change my settings, because the one they had was… They had a non-existent email address, a mixture of two of my three addresses. This particular stramash is an error I have made in the past, so I’m sure it is my fault. Apologies Amazon Advantage (ouch!).

My penance is to tell you all and perhaps help one other person to avoid the same pitfall, and to check their settings when expected emails go astray. In spite of GIGANTIC embarrassment, I am happier than before, because an intractable problem has an explanation and a cure, so the problem should disappear.

All I need now is a placatory photo so that you will remember the photo and not my idiocy.PICT0001

Author (almost) Faints at Book-Signing Event!!

If Amazon put me through a two-week version of the author and publisher’s worst nightmare, today the gods handed out one of those moments that an author can only dream of. No, I didn’t sell 100 books, or get signed up by an agent or publisher. It was sweeter than that.

I was sitting in the corner of the friendly and comfortable café of the Gog Magog Hills Farm Shop Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 22.02.14DSCN6799(Like so – sorry, this only comes blurred.) I had distributed little booklets with info about Border Line  all over the room and left a browsing copy on one of the tables plus various other signals. However the café was full much of the day and I remained hidden. Several friends came and we all chatted and I sold a satisfactory trickle of books and I had my photo taken with an interesting Chinese visitor, Josie, who bought a copy too.                             In the afternoon a couple of women came and sat on the table next to me, glanced at my leaflet and got on with their tea and chat. Finally, as they left, one of them leaned over and spoke to me, and I explained that I was signing my new book. Then she spotted copies of my earlier novel, Unseen Unsung, and said, ‘Do you mean you are the author of that book?’ I agreed I was. I was gobsmacked by her reaction and modesty prevents me from repeating… well actually I was so overwhelmed by all she said I can’t remember it enough to repeat. After saying many wonderful things, she explained to her friend that she had made her reading group get it and it had been difficult to get enough copies and they had had to share books, she didn’t have her own copy… I sat there is a state of blissful amazement.

Anyway, I think if you ask any writer what would make them happiest in the world, it would be to hear from a stranger, who had read their book, a spontaneous and generous appreciation of it. So Tracy and Alison, if you should happen upon this post, thank you for making all that sweat, uncertainty, aspiration and crazy numbers of hours shifting words from A to B (and often back again), all worthwhile in the end. I really mean that.

Publication day and the blood pressure challenge

Border Line 2Border Line will be released tomorrow… except that two days ago Amazon took the print book off the UK site. A friend who had pre-ordered the book had the order cancelled and received an email saying… ‘Our supplier has informed us that it’s been discontinued and is no longer available.’

I, the publisher, supplier and author, have sent no such information.

This came on top of increasingly frantic efforts to get a cover image for the print book onto the Amazon UK site. In the course of these efforts I discovered that Nielsen have been feeding out the image to Amazon since August, but Amazon are having problems with images and are still working on a fix.

At this moment, Border Line (print version), can be found by clicking on the kindle edition icon, then choosing ‘paperback’ from the list. This then shows it as unavailable, but you can put it on a wish list. If I had been trying to dream up a way to raise the blood pressure of a small publisher/author to danger levels, I don’t think I could have done better job than Amazon have achieved.Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 18.54.12

In the grand scheme of things these are trivial problems. So on the plus side, I have twice met the hedgehog outside the back door, either with his face in the trough, or waiting patiently by an empty one. We have had a visitation by a small flock of goldcrests, picking spiders off our window ledges. They were too swift to photograph, but they did reduce the blood pressure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomorrow I shall have a peaceful day, signing copies of Border Line (or twiddling my thumbs) at the wonderful Gog Magog Hills farm shop.

 

Fitz… and a frog


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Many years ago I met an author (and brilliant photographer), Jenifer Roberts, at The Society of Authors (UK) and we exchanged addresses. A year or so later I received a flyer for her book Glass http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenifer-Roberts/e/B004UO6NWQ. I bought a copy, loved it, and we became friends. We self-published our second books at the same time, though hers, The Madness of Queen Maria, was later taken up by a mainstream publisher in Portugal.  It is with enormous pride that I can report on the success of her latest book, Fitz. I can remember the beginnings of Fitz, the enormous lengths to which Jenifer went in researching this book, the endless drafts and improvements and the long cycle of agents and publishers who said… great writing, terrific story, but we are not sure it has a market… or similar. Well, after years of work and waiting it has found its natural home in New Zealand. The New Zealand Listener (see below) says of it “…This is history as it should be, alert, well-observed and informed…” about this man who was an “…infuriatingly mercurial personality but eminently loveable man.”

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It is also in the top ten New Zealand non-fiction best seller lists. I can vouch for this as a great and entertaining read. Jenifer has set a brilliant example for aspiring writers and I am so happy to see this story reach the public it deserves.

Now for something completely different. We live (I say, as the rain it raineth ev-ery day) in a very dry area of the UK, and we have no pond and no obvious ground level source of water, yet every year I meet at least one frog in the garden. I don’t meet him/her in one particular damp spot, but anywhere in the third of an acre that is ours. So, there must be quite a few frogs living here. This is the best I could do in the way of a photo – he is in there – honestly.

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