Monday, 31 October 2011

Sign Up, Log In, Lose The Will To Live!

I've just done a quick mental inventory of all the various internet sites I belong to.  From Amazon to Yahoo, the number is about a hundred and that is probably well below average. Every single one of them has required me to sign up with my email address and a password. Which is OK, I suppose, unless you've got more than one email address. Or password.

The curse of internet security

For security reasons, we are told, it is better not to use the same password for all your sites — if the 'open sesame' to one site becomes known, then all the others — including your internet bank, your paypay account and the all-important Technophobes United membership — become vulnerable. For the same reasons  we shouldn't write down our passwords because, you know, if a burglar breaks in, the first thing he's going to steal will be the little book or diary you've stored all your personal doodahs in. Everybody knows that. Right?

Instead you should remember your passwords.

Hell's teeth! I can't even remember my own mobile phone number. Why should I?  I never call the bloody thing. So how can I be expected to remember a hundred different passwords and which email account they go with? What do these 'security' people thing I am?  A walking data retrieval system?

Time Wasting for Dummies?

Today I have lost close to four hours of my valuable time — time I could have spent writing or, at least, doing something more interesting, more life-enhancing — in simply trying to set up a link on this site to my book's page on Amazon. It should be simple enough, surely? Everyone else has one.
The problem is I set up the two accounts using different log-in details, so as I go backwards and forwards between them, I end up doing the sign in two-step.
Sign in
Log in
Sign out
Sign in
Sign out
Log out.

Aaargh! And do you see an interesting , shiny new sidebar to your right, giving you, the reader, an easy, one click option to view the details of my newly published book?  Do you 'eck as like.
So, for the moment, I'm just going to tell you that Chamaeleon: The Secret Spy, my fast-paced, exciting, fantasy adventure story for children aged 9 to 90 is available for you to look at by clicking (or copying and pasting) the link below. And I'm holding my breath that I don't have to sign out, in , out, and in again, in order to be able to do it!

Chamaeleon: in the UK

Chamaeleon: at

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Playing the Waiting Game

If I were to have a favourite prayer it would be, ' Oh Lord, give me patience — and give it me now'.

The cause of my current impatience is that I'm within an inch of being published at last.  Hurrah! My goal has always been to earn a living from my stories but if I'd known at the start how long I would have to wait to realise that goal, I might never have started in the first place. It has taken me four years to write Chamaeleon:The Secret Spy. Four long years of learning how to write, then writing, revising, re-writing, writing and editing. When at last I'd finished stripping it, jointing it and pulling it apart at the seams, there was a fair measure of relief mixed in with the elation. Finally, I had a completed story. I basked in the glow of being 'a writer' for several days before making the fatal error of telling people that Chamaeleon was done.

"When is it being published?"
"Have you got an agent yet?"
"When can I buy the book?"


With mounting horror, I realised I wasn't finished at all, was I?  I still had the long haul of finding an agent and a publisher in front of me. I still had to wait before I saw my baby in print. I devoured the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook looking for suitable agents. I read every website I could find about getting published. I learned everything I could about synopses, query letters and manuscript formats. I made lists and spreadsheets.

And for three months while I was doing this, I didn't write a single thing. The tales in my head were clamouring to be told but I ignored them. Not a word of them made it onto paper or screen, I was too busy scaring myself to death learning all the hoops I had to jump through just to find an agent — never mind the friendly publisher who would put me in Waterstone's. The chances of me ever becoming published were getting smaller by the day. By the end of those three months I felt so thoroughly depressed I decided to give it all up and find a job somewhere. If I couldn't stack my stories on bookshelves I might as well stack a similar thing in  a supermarket, right?

Wrong! Enter David Gaughran.

Call it serendipity, but I was lucky enough to discover David's excellent blog about self–publishing, three says later. This was it. I was going to publish Chamaeleon as an e-book. The wait was over.

Or not, as the case may be.

David's posts and his book Let's Get Digital told me I now needed an editor, a cover designer and a formatter.

If I'd had money at this point — instead of struggling along on a pittance — the next part of the long journey to be published, might have been quicker. As it was, after I'd paid my editor, had the file back and incorporated his suggestions and amendments, I had to wait while I saved enough money to pay the cover designer. Both the MS and the cover are now with the formatter. The whole process — editor, cover artist, formatter — will have taken a little over two months from start to finish. Whew!

Which isn't long to wait, really. Unless you're the impatient sort. Like me.

It will have taken nearly five years before Chamaelon:The Secret Spy is published. But soon, very soon, the waiting game will be over.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


My, how time flies! It hardly seems that long since I was preparing for last year's NaNoWriMo. I blogged about it then at:

For those of you who think I'm babbling (and who can blame you? I often do), National Novel Writing Month takes place every November and hundreds of thousands of people around the world join in — with the sole aim of writing a 50,000 word novel between the 1st and the 30th of the month.
There are many who sneer at NaNo, disdaining the amount of effort (and fun) involved. They see it merely as a waste of time, a dilettante's dabblings, a generator of crap. If you are going to write a novel, their argument goes, you would be better occupied spending your time in getting it right first time —not spending one month bashing out a load of drivel which you then either scrap completely or have to spend several more months,or even years, revising and editing.

Which rather misses the point.

Yes, you will write an awful lot of rubbish — even the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, admits that — but you also learn something while you are doing it.

You learn:
  • How hard it can be to write 1667 words a day every day — which you must to reach the target of 50K words by November 30th. I normally average less than 1000 words a day.
  • The discipline needed to achieve the above, and discipline is what it's all about if you seriously intend being a writer and earning money from your work.
  • The benefit of having a plot — or at least an outline — before you start.
  • The perils of procrastination!
  • And that the support and encouragement you receive from fellow NaNoers is phenomenal. Last year I had writers in the UK, Australia, Sweden and Colorado all cheering me on over the finish line. Which gave me a nice warm feeling to accompany the delight of 'winning'.

Whatever the opinion of naysayers, and they are many, at the end of the month the chances are you will have a darn sight more than when you started. You will have something to add to and edit, something concrete, something more than the fuzzy idea for a story that you had before you started.

Last year I had an absolute blast writing 'The Crime Writers PA', scraping over the line with 50,131 words on November 29th. Without the impetus provided by NaNoWriMo, it took me until March 2011 to finish it and it stands now at some 78K words before editing. (What my editor, Harry Dewulf at Densewords Editing Services will make of it, is anyone's guess.)

This year I'm trying my hand again with 'Organized Murder' which will be the next in what, I hope, will become the CWPA series.

So, if you were always going to write that novel you feel is inside you one day, why not make that day November 1st 2011? You'll find the link below and I can assure you that you won't be on your own — last year there were close to 200,000 people world wide doing exactly the same thing.

Either way, wish me luck. If I surface from my keyboard for long enough, I'll try and keep you posted.