Are those blasted kittens still there?

Having posted a few days ago about my inability to finish one project before starting three others, I’ve attempted to organise myself a little to try to deal with that.

And not too long ago, I also posted about my inability – fear almost – to promote myself effectively.

Coincidentally, several days ago I took part in a Webinar aimed at small businesses (theoretically, that includes writers trying to sell books), about using social media effectively, and whilst I was pleased to discover that I seem to be doing a fair bit right already, there are several things that I should definitely change, which I will do shortly.

shark boy crop

Not kittens.

The first thing I’ll do, will be launch my own Author page on Facebook; something I really should have done before now. And to promote it, I plan to serialise a new short-ish story on this blog, over several posts. It’s something slightly different, for me, in that it is a spoof/satire ‘gritty urban detective drama’, but set in Elizabethan England. So, cue daggers, bawdiness, vomit and lots of mud and sour beer.

This will probably be during the second week of next month.

I have also learned a little more about publishing, from the company Wet Zebra at our local writers’ group, and from a few other independent sources, which might possibly lead to my attempting to publish my next book a little differently.

That next book will, I’m now reasonably certain, be The Assassin’s Garden, which has picked up momentum again. If all goes according to plan (!), it will be the first book of a series, stretching in time from the sixteenth century to the late twentieth century, and set variously in Persia, India, Europe and England.

So, what’s it about? I’m so glad you asked. A secret, something stolen, a pursuit, crossing time and continents. Revenge. It has elements of detective story, a bit of classic Gothic horror, a touch of fantasy, a soupcon of sex and violence, some ‘straight’ historical drama, and kittens. Yes, really.

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Not a kitten either.

I’m nothing if not ambitious.

And, bearing in mind how easily distracted I am, the research will give me huge opportunities to prevaricate and wander off at tangents to all sorts of odd corners of the internet.

Making Friends with the Crocodile cover

Buy it, read it, make me happy!

And for Making Friends with the Crocodile, my published novel, I am going to re-write the promotional blurb and have another attempt to push it out further into the big, wide, novel-reading world.

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The Indian edition of my book is published!

Well, it’s taken me long enough, as I’m sure everyone will agree, but I have finally managed to publish Making Friends with the Crocodile as a Print on demand paperback in India! Hurrah!

It is published by Pothi, and is available on their site, here, and on Amazon.in and Flipkart.

pothi-advertising

It is still available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon, and is also available as an e-book from Kobo, worldwide, for those who do not favour Kindle.

I have been told plenty of times that I need to be more proactive promoting the book, but I’m not terribly good at that. However, this is me having another pathetic stab at it:

Buy it now! It’s great! Please…pretty please…

Oh well, I’m working on it.

Should you be kind enough to buy it, or, indeed, if you have already done so, please consider leaving a review. Reviews encourage others to buy the book, and, on Amazon, once a book has garnered a certain number, then Amazon list it a little more prominently – which is a tremendous help to the author!

And I have been lucky enough to garner some very complimentary and generous reviews, so far. A few excerpts:

‘This beautifully written story, set in a village in Bihar, draws you in from its first page.’

‘Making Friends with the Crocodile is a very fine book. And it takes us into the harsh reality of the life of women in rural India, much more effectively than any official report.’

‘The characters are depicted with obvious respect for a culture that is both beautiful and at times shocking. By the novels finale, though tragic, we are left with a very thought provoking and memorable story.’

‘This is a novel with depth and real emotional involvement. Told simply and with an honesty that defies disbelief at events and attitudes, it packs some serious punches. It’s a story that will live with me for a long time, and one that has materially altered my opinions about certain cultural norms. Researched in real depth and related in language that fits the narrator so well, it’s a very good read.’

‘Mick has delved into the mind of a middle- aged woman living in rural Bihar and has beautifully sketched the love – hate relationship she shares with her daughter in law. The book gives a lot of perspective on the mind-set and predispositions that prevail in the rural north Indian society (which apply, at large to many other parts as well).’

The blurb: ‘Siddiqa was only just into her teens when she was forced to leave her home to live with her new husband and his family in another village. The years have passed, and now Siddiqa has three children of her own. Her grown up son has brought his new wife, Naira, to live with them, so Siddiqa is no longer the lowliest in the household, for she has a daughter-in-law.

Life in rural India is particularly harsh for women. This novel explores themes of female oppression and tradition and asks whether the next generation will find life any easier.

I suppose that at least when I publish my next book, I should have a much better idea of how to go about it.

The Assassin’s Garden

My mood is strongly affected by the environment, and this will naturally influence my writing.

Although it is obviously not necessary to recreate exactly the conditions of the story I might be writing, it certainly helps if the mood of where I am matches that of the environment I am writing about.

During the years I lived in a desert environment, for example, I never once wrote a story about whaling in Antarctic waters.

Today is grey, cold, basically miserable. To sit and work on my India novel is, quite frankly, impossible. Instead I have been re-working some of ‘The Assassin’s Garden

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The Assassin’s Garden‘ is the working title of the novel I have been writing for almost 5 years, now, and which got overtaken when I had the inspiration for ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile‘, and couldn’t be much more different. It is a complex tale, with a timeline that begins in Medieval Persia, passing through Mogul India to Victorian England, back to Victorian India, and then England again. It is (obviously!) a historical story, which also has strong elements of detective story and Gothic horror/fantasy.

I don’t really know which genre it truly fits into. Perhaps it needs a new one.

Proto-historic-goth-punk, perhaps.

As it stands, it is well over 100,000 words long, and may well end up being split into two or even three separate books.

Perhaps it is time that I finally completed it.

In other news (switch to picture of newsreader staring earnestly into camera, serious look on face, effect ruined only by line of kittens dancing a can-can in the background), I’m finding it quite difficult to sort out my Print On Demand edition of ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile’, and have now decided to switch printing companies (oh what fun).

I know I’m not the only writer who just enjoys writing the stories, but hates all of the publishing and publicity sides of the business – I am just not a businessman in any sense of the word; I dislike doing it and find it difficult. It also goes completely against my nature to go around saying ‘My book is fantastic, you must buy it now!’

Unfortunately, if there is a button I can press on the computer after I have finished writing the book, labelled ‘format, publish, promote and sell’ I’ve not noticed it yet.

What a great review for Making Friends with the Crocodile!

 

Making Friends with the -Crocodile

Somali, at: Somali K Chakrabarti has put up such a generous review of my book, Making Friends with the Crocodile, that I am going to spend the rest of the day puffed up with most unreasonable pride! It comes as I battle with the various internet demons to put up a version on Kobo (ready in a couple of days, I hope), and, finally, a Print On Demand version for sale in India.

My biggest worry when I published the book, was that as a Western male writing in the voice of an Indian female, I would not be able to make it sound realistic, but I finally feel reassured by Somali’s review.

It can be found here: Making friends with the Crocodile

 

Print on Demand in India

I have a question for my Indian friends.

Have you published any books as print-on-demand in India? And if so, which company did you use, and were you happy with the experience?

When I published ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile’, I was hoping that because of the subject matter and the setting of the book, it would be of interest to Indian readers. Unfortunately, though, I created the paperback version through CreateSpace and whilst I am very happy with the book produced, it is one of the quirks of Amazon that they do not sell these through Amazon India.

Making Friends with the Crocodile cover

And so I need another source.

I have learned that there are a few fairly new print-on demand companies in India, and looking at a few sites and reading some comments here and there, I quite like the look of Pothi.com.

Has anybody used them?

I would really appreciate any feedback or advice that anyone has to offer me on this.

‘Hello again!’ *waves frantically*

Stuff gets in the way of life, as usual.

I just seem to have had no meaningful time available for the last ten days or so, which means I’ve missed putting up a couple of posts, as well as not being able to go off and read and comment on other folk’s posts. So today I’ll catch up with as many as I can, and post a few updates on my own projects. This has prompted me, however, to make a decision to change slightly how I use my time blogging.

Instead of nipping back frequently to check for replies to my post, or to my comments on other folks posts, I’m going to attempt to go on just once each day and deal with everything. I never have been very good at self-discipline, and I know that the way I use my time on the computer leads to my getting far less actual writing done than I should.

Prevarication, you could say.

So…firstly, I have received some lovely reviews for ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile‘, which rather makes it all worth while! I hadn’t realised how important the reviews would feel, but they do more than the actual sales figures to make me feel good about the book.

So a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to those who have written those reviews!

Next, some of you will probably have noticed that I now have a link on my sidebar to a site where I sell photographs.

Panorama 1b

Bob Ramsak, a gifted photographer and reporter who blogs at ‘Piran Cafe‘ – http://www.pirancafe.com/ recommended this site, and I have begun to upload a few photographs there over the last few days. Hopefully, I will get a whole load more up in the future, especially ones that I have put up previously in this blog, but there are some forty or fifty up at the moment to start with.

I do not know how their particular algorithms work, but it seems likely that the more ‘views’ a picture gets, the more likely it is to feature on the front page of searches. I noticed that when I browsed the site, the pictures that came up first when I did a search, were the ones that had had a large number of views. Of course, I also realise that it is possible that the reason that they have more views, is that they come up first in the searches.

But if any of you have a few moments to spare, I’d be hugely grateful if you went and had a look, and then clicked on a few photos. The address is https://www.picfair.com/mickcanning

Finally, I also have a site where you can find a lot of my paintings. This is also on the sidebar, and is https://www.artgallery.co.uk/artist/mick_canning

taklamakan

But that’s probably more than enough self-promotion for today!

I had contemplated blogging on the EU referendum taking place tomorrow, but there is so much vitriol sloshing around at the moment that I’ve decided to keep out of it, at least on this blog.

And so I’ll leave it there, and come back with a brand new sparkling and shiny post in a few days time.

Unless more stuff gets in the way, of course.

The Book is Released – Hurrah!

 

Making Friends with the Crocodile‘ is now released!

Making Friends with the Crocodile cover                             POD cover

Kindle edition                                                     Paperback edition

Anyone who has already pre-ordered it on Kindle / Amazon should have received it by now, and in countries where there is no pre-order facility, such as India, the Kindle edition is also now available to buy.

The paperback is available from the Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.eu sites only – this is a quirk of Amazon – but can also be ordered from the estore at CreateSpace, at the following link:

https://www.createspace.com/6301808

And now, I wait to see what people think of the book, with a considerable amount of nervousness.

If you do buy a copy, please consider leaving a review either at Amazon, or on Goodreads, if you are a member (better still, at both!). Reviews are genuinely the lifeblood of a writer, and do help to sell books.

Finally, the blurb again…

‘Siddiqa was only just into her teens when she was forced to leave her home to live with her new husband and his family in another village. The years have passed, and now Siddiqa has three children of her own. Her grown up son has brought his new wife, Naira, to live with them, so Siddiqa is no longer the lowliest in the household, for she has a daughter-in-law.

Life in rural India is particularly harsh for women. This novel explores themes of female oppression and tradition and asks whether the next generation will find life any easier.’

 

 

The Morning After…

Wow, what a weekend!

After the book launch, the parties!

Celebrations!

Oh, and when I looked out of the window to see the streams of bunting all the way along the road, and the swarms of well-wishers gathering outside the house, I was so excited!

Then once I had gone out and signed loads and loads of autographs, I was being chased all over town for interviews by all the big newspapers!

And then I…

Well, okay. That’s not strictly true.

It’s not very true at all.

In fact, it’s not true in even the teeniest tiniest littlest way.

My life does not seem to have altered in the slightest and, actually, I’m glad about that.

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Right, now it’s time to get on with the next stage.

I’ve put a link on the image of the book on my sidebar, which goes directly to my book page on Amazon (thanks, Stuart!).

And I’m looking at the best way to create Print on Demand paperback copies of the book, probably by using CreateSpace (lots of recommendations), and hope to have that sorted out in a couple of days. I don’t think it’s too difficult, but my way of dealing with new technology tends to be by shouting at it and slamming doors, so I may take longer than other writers.

But since the release date of the Kindle copy is June 4th, I should have time to arrange for the paperback to be released on the same date.

So, what next?

Actually, it will be great to feel that I can focus on just writing again, and not just constant editing and revision, so it’s back to the long Work in Progress, ‘The Assassin’s Garden’. This has a timeline that stretches from Medieval Persia through Medieval India and the British Raj, through to Edwardian England. It’s already a long novel and nowhere near finished, so I suspect that I might eventually have a trilogy on my hands.

I might even write a short story or two.

Ooh, it’s exciting. I do love this writing lark!

Published!

Well, blimey, Making Friends with the Crocodile is now published on Kindle and is up on Amazon as we speak!

Making Friends with the -Crocodile

About a week ago, I reached the point where I felt that the editing was finally complete, or, at least, if it wasn’t, then I might just pick at it for ages without really making any further difference, and so it was time to get the process finished.

What a relief.

It feels as though I have been under pressure for weeks. I’ve felt tired, I’ve felt tense.

Ooh, I’ve been irritable!

All this pressure, of course, is of my own making. A lot of it, I suspect, being due to this being my first foray into publishing.

I knew that I needed to format my text for Kindle, and heard that Scrivener was a useful tool for that. And so I downloaded Scrivener, and spent a couple of hours working through the tutorial until I decided that it just wasn’t going to happen for me.

I’m sure it is very useful, but I was getting to the point where I felt like chucking the laptop at the wall.

So I went and looked in detail at the instructions for publishing on Kindle, and found that you could just save your file in the correct format and then upload that.

Bye, bye Scrivener.

I looked at a few Kindle books and then wrote the stuff at the front and back of the book – about copyrights and stuff like that.

I inserted my table of contents.

I already had my book cover ready.

I wrote the blurb:

‘Siddiqa was only just into her teens when she was forced to leave her home to live with her new husband and his family in another village. The years have passed, and now Siddiqa has three children of her own. Her grown up son has brought his new wife, Naira, to live with them, so Siddiqa is no longer the lowliest in the household, for she has a daughter-in-law.

Life in rural India is particularly harsh for women. This novel explores themes of female oppression and tradition and asks whether the next generation will find life any easier.’

Working out how to upload to Kindle, and to complete all of the forms and tick boxes proved a little long winded, but reasonably straightforward.

So then, suddenly, there it was. Sitting on Amazon, available for pre-order, with a launch date of 4th June. Although for some reason, unfortunately, pre-order is not available in India.

And now it feels much like stepping off of a crowded and noisy street into summer sunshine; the sounds of the shouting and the traffic disappearing and being replaced by birdsong.

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Woo-hoo!

And what a buzz to go and look at my own author page on Amazon, with my own book there!

Woo-hoo again!

For the moment, as I say, it is only available for pre-order, and will be released on 4th June. But if anyone does feel inclined to buy it, pre-orders will help boost the ratings when it actually launches.

I am going to look again at Print on Demand, in a day or so. Initially, I had ruled it out, mainly because the one site that I looked at required the customer (i.e. me) to order and pay for a set number in advance, and I assumed that would always be the case, but now I think that is possibly not so. Certainly, the Amazon tool, CreateSpace, looks as though it might work more the way that Kindle does.

It will be great if it does, since I really prefer to have a physical copy of a book, and I know there are still a few other people out there who still feel that way.

So…now to get my head around promotion…

Ooh, it’s nearly finished!

I’m getting excited, now.

My novel, ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile’ is hopefully ready for its final edit.

This part of the journey seems to be taking a great deal of time, but this might be because it is my first foray into publishing. I know that there is still much to do – formatting, advertising, proof-reading, the publishing itself, amongst a plethora of smaller but no less important tasks – but I am finally beginning to feel that I am getting there.

Curiously, after what I wrote in my last post, I never found any of the characters threatening to hijack the plot in any way. Although I never planned it out in any detail, I had a rough plan in my head, which, remarkably, I kept to. Perhaps it is because the subject matter is strong. I don’t know.

And I think that I have settled upon the cover (the artwork is my own).

Making Friends With The Crocodile cover 1

I may play around with the wording, slightly, for example I might take out the words ‘A Novel’.

For some background; the story is set in a village in Northern India, some fifteen odd years ago. It is about the deteriorating relationship between two women in a family: the mother and her daughter in law. Like this relationship frequently is, it is a strained, fractious one, not helped by that society’s attitudes towards women and their roles in general. And when one of them gets caught up in events beyond her control, these attitudes become dreadfully destructive.

As always, your thoughts would be very much appreciated.