Books

Let There Be Books!

Wohoo! We’ve made it! The sequel to Our Intrepid Heroine has come. Join me as we cut the metaphorical ribbon and present … dunn dunnnnnn … The Curse of Cackling Meadows!

OIH2kindlefrontcoverAll she really wanted was to return home. A curse, a carrot and a unicorn later and our Intrepid Heroine is on her way to finding out just why Cackling Meadows has been beset by so strange a curse.

Accompanied by a unicorn with sensitive nostrils and a Songster whose name isn’t Hector, she will discover that princes, curses and even dragons aren’t always quite what they seem.

goodreads // amazon

The majority of this tale was written on the Norfolk Broads, aboard a boat. Whilst beautiful scenery and windmills passed by, I was sitting at a table inside the main cabin, earphones plugged in and fingers tapping away. It is quite true to say that this book was fueled by tea and black coffee.

And now, months later, here it is – fully butchered, hopefully polished and possibly coherent.ianblinkedI’ve got a sheet of paper with some of the original ideas scribbled all over it. There were lyrics for somewhat-rhyming-songs and snatches of dialogue. dontspreaditIt’s fascinating to see how things turn out. Half the time I come to write with no idea what is really going to happen. Oh, I’ve got a few basic elements there, but never the full picture. Twists arrive that surprise me. Things that I wanted to include don’t always fit. A character marches onto the pages and demands attention.

Writing is a great, big adventure and I’m very fortunate that I can share mine with you.

wivesquoteAND THAT’S NOT ALL! As part of my ‘yay, the sequel is published’ celebrations, Our Accidental Adventure (a completely different book with completely different characters in a completely different setting) is exactly zero dollars/pounds/euros this weekend.

Saith whaaattt? Let me receive this present of such greatness!

On Writing

This Could Take a While

I’ve learned some bad news: writing a book takes time. Disappointingly, it doesn’t happen overnight. I can’t plant my idea in my laptop, go to sleep and find a finished manuscript by the printer in the morning.

A book – a story you tell, a tale you spin – takes time. Lots and lots of it. Buckets of it.

It’s something that grows steadily if you work at it. Slowly, if it’s tricky and throwing benders at every turn. Think of it as planting an acorn and waiting for it to grow into a mighty oak. It’s not the best analogy, I know; because you can’t wait for it to grow of its own accord – you have to grow it.

But you know what? It’s worth it.

And so, whilst I commit Text Butchery on OIH2, I’m keeping that in mind; I’m changing there, fixing here, chopping this and butchering that, knowing that if I keep on plodding away I’ll reach my goal.

And it will be so worth it.OIH2frontcoverA Curse has plunged the hovel owners of Cackling Meadows into gloomy times, their economy has taken a sad dip and no longer is their meadow viewed as an ideal wedding location; it is all very depressing.

Homeward bound and suddenly beset by her own troubles, our Intrepid Heroine stumbles into Cackling Meadows, and – accidentally – into the Curse Kicking business. (She blames misunderstandings, unicorns and carrots for that one).

Together with a unicorn with sensitive nostrils and a Songster with too powerful lungs, she will discover that Princes, Protectors and even Curses aren’t always quite what they seem.

Our Intrepid Heroine: The Curse of Cackling Meadows will be released on September 19th.

Books, On Research

How To Design a Front Cover For Your Book

WARNING:

Painful Embarrassment for the Author ahead.

I once had a marvelous idea. (I know – I was shocked too). I had an image of a book. What, thought I, could be better than using a picture of a book and using it as the front cover of my book? It could be genius. Right? Right?!!

In a more professional person’s hands, why yes – yes, it could.

In mine?

No.

howto
pictured: a bad idea. A really bad idea

1. Don’t have grand ideas. Grand ideas are often bad ideas. Stick to your skill set.

So I moved on. To below. Candle flame and [for the sake of designer mystic, I shall not reveal what the scales are. They are not dragon scales, let me tell you that. Or are they?].howtohuntMuch better? All it took was a little shifting about of two images, colouring, font etc. But it didn’t feel right. And, you know, that ‘a’ is kind of unsightly.

But then, I realised something – ‘How to Hunt a Dragon’ sounded a little too close to ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. Now, I have no great ambitions to plagiarism, so I decided to scrap that title. And add a little something extra.

2. Don’t choose a flawed title and decide to change it half-way through. If you dislike headaches and wish to avoid them, by all means, consider the repercussions of your title.

Ahem. The title changed.

huntingdragons… but, it didn’t look right. And besides, I really, really needed that background for another project – that of a trilogy which will be appearing soon. (And by ‘soon’ I mean ‘in a year or so’ – slow and steady wins the race and all that).

And so it was back to the drawing board. For the sake of my (already) bruised pride, I shall not show you the sketching in my notebook. I have great ambitions to be the next Da Vinci, but alas! reality does not support them.

What I can show you is sketch that I drew up on a tablet:

ourintrepidheroineroughcopy
do you see the mane flying in the wind? Total talent right there.

New title, completely different design. A very ambitious design. Do you see that cliff in the background? Yes. Well, that isn’t there anymore. I refer to Lesson 1 – don’t go above your skill set (and cache of available material).

Another fact which you may not know: putting a horn on a horse is very difficult thing.

3. Don’t put horns on horses. It’s bad for your mental health.

coverproperourintrepidkindle
Not pictured – the telephone poles so subtly edited out

So – you’ve finally finished. You’ve go that front cover ready and waiting to be released. People are going to be holding this miraculous thing in their hands …

Wait. You wanted to design a front cover for a print book?

Oooohhhh.

4. An ebook cover and a print book cover are two different things. One is reasonably simple. The other is fiendish and should (preferably) be designed first.

Yes. You’re probably going to have to fiddle about for a bit. You know; readjust the size of your cover, make the cover flow into the back cover. Get the blurb on the back. Make sure that the blurb isn’t too big or too small. You know – the usual.

[Not Pictured: The Intense Frustration and Headaches this can cause]

coverproperourintrepid
pictured: attempt #487

But you know what? It’s worth it in the end. Unless, of course, you decide to dip into your bank account and hire a professional.

That could work too.

5. Go with the option you are most comfortable with.

7. Patience is a virtue. You’ll be feeling very virtuous by the end of it.

and finally:

8. Be willing to invest plenty of time into your project, and be ready to play about a lot.

ourintrepidheroineonbed ourintrepidheroineonwindowsill

Whichever way you chose, I wish you great success, few headaches and a wonderous final result. (But I really mean it about putting a unicorn’s horn on a horse).

Books, Life, On Writing

Fancy an Adventure?

fancyanadventure
Our Intrepid Heroine doesn’t have a boat – lamentably. Here it symbolises an adventure. Fancy one?

Christmas time. A time for gifts – to celebrate the giving of the greatest Gift of all. So, methought, why don’t I – as a Christmas gift to all those who read this blog – do some technological thingy-bob-things and give you Our Intrepid Heroine.

From today to Friday, Our Intrepid Heroine is yours for the taking. Yours! All wrapped up in, in virtual wrapping paper!

Simply click the link below to fly over to Amazon where an adventure awaits you. It isn’t a long adventure – just a small one. But life is made up of small adventures and this one has a dragon, a Hooded Person of Unknown Gender, a very determined (and courageous) Intrepid Heroine and a dash (well, more like a dollop) of humour.

This is the Link. Beyond is the Present.

Merry Christmas!