My next significant car was one I regard as my first ‘sensible/adult’ car. The first of only a few which could be classed thus.
When I say ‘sensible and adult’ I mean a four-door saloon. A large family car with plenty of boot space. (That’s the trunk to my American friends.)
That this model boasted a 2.9ltr, 24valve, V6 Cosworth engine was just a simple little bonus.
I loved my Maroon coloured Ford Granada Scorpio Cosworth. It possessed all the best luxury mod cons of the time; quick clear windscreen, electric controlled seats – heated front & rear, electric reclining rear seats, heated wing mirrors, a trip computer, abs and so on. In fact, Ford threw every luxury they had into this big beast of a car, which could accelerate to 60Mph from standstill in around 8 seconds, (quite a feat for a car of that era) and keep going to 140 MPH. I can vouch it could easily do that figure without panting… not on a public road, of course.
I could often be found relaxing in the deep leather armchair style seats, moseying along comfortably at 100MPH while steering with one little pinkie finger. It really was like the lounge of a ‘gentleman’s club’, but on wheels.
What was there not to love?
Now, this is where I associate this car to that of being an author.
You see, it is all to do with speed and luxury combined.
When I purchased my Granada Scorpio, I did so as a part exchange using the vehicle I was driving at the time… one which was so clearly insignificant to me I forget it entirely, except it was blue… possibly a Vauxhall or another Ford?… as part payment. The rest of the cost was handed over in a single cash payment.
As you can tell from the above, this was not a main-dealer purchase, but a small car dealer who specialised in Ford motor vehicles, particularly the performance models.
The Scorpio was not new, not even one which could be considered low-mileage. The rear wheel arches were showing the firsts specks of rust. (It was the poor quality of the bodywork which was the eventual demise of this range of Fords.) But it was what I could afford at the time. The few pounds I paid gave me comfort, luxury and satisfied my need for speed.
I think this is the same for us authors.
We may not be able to invest in the newest, latest, all singing all dancing computer, whether from a fruit company or a replacement glazing manufacturer, but we all should have the most powerful, fastest machine we can lay our hands-on.
The reason is, no one wants to wait too long for the processes to take place, the loading, downloading, deleting, moving, sharing of files. Neither do we want to be left hanging while surfing and researching, selecting and storing images, research papers or historical records.
We also need space for our cover images, marketing and promotional material, let alone sales records and accounts.
So, all in all, the computers we need… and I say NEED… must do far more, far more efficiently and comfortably than many are truly able, especially those which come weighed down with Bloat Wear, regardless of what the spotty youth on the shop floor may try and fob you off with, particularly when he finds out you have no idea what TWAIN, Crapplet, Thunking or Blob means when speaking tech-geek.
My advice, if you can upgrade, do.
As when I purchased my Scorpio, you do not need to buy brand new from a main dealer, from a bright and shiny store in a plaza, or an out-of-town shopping complex.
You could do what I do and have someone build you a bespoke system.
I use a local, well respected, tried and tested, computer repair and solutions company which has been serving the local community for many years, at least twenty to my knowledge… when I say ‘company’, I mean son, father and aunty, along with an odd friend, (who may have popped in for a cup of tea several years ago and never left,) who inhabit a small hovel, one which is almost underground, in a side street in my town.
They rid my machines of all the unwanted ‘bloat-wear’ freeing up many gigs of space, add or alter all those PC boards and ‘silly-cone’ bits n bobs, (upgrading maths coprocessors… I overheard that one once… maybe in 1992?), to create a fast machine with an amazing capacity for storage and memory.
My ‘big machine’ (one of those the above people worked their magic on) has such processing power, that for five years we ran the entire UK’s outsourced agency for a major insurance company from home. The system ran a triple screen set up, national communications and real-time monitoring, along with the daily business.
Now, I don’t expect you to need or want such a server in your home, but it does give an indication of how far you could go if specify bespoke.
This laptop, the one I am writing this very post on, says it is a ‘Compaq’, a brand which was absorbed by Hewlett Packard some time back. About the only original thing left is the casing itself. (No one wants to steal an ‘ancient’, well-worn looking laptop).
In it, I now run an Intel Core i9 with associated upgrades. All engineered for a fraction of the cost of going to PC World and buying a slower, less luxurious laptop.
Have a think when you’re ready to move on or renew your hardware. Can you get the performance of a luxury brand for the fraction of the cost?
Unless, of course, you prefer style over substance, why not check out your own ‘local’ computer man. Just make sure they have a good (& long) reputation and proven experience.
Okay, time to stop writing this post and get back to writing my books.
Catch you next time…
Just before you go, pop over to my author website and have a mosey around. I am sure you’ll find a book or two to tempt you.
This is the fifth post in this series, where I feature a car from my past and link it with something to do with being an author.
Today’s post features a British Classic, the ubiquitous Ford Escort Mexico Mark1. Mine was bright yellow. I think it is called Daytona Yellow, but I’ll stand corrected if you know better.
The Mexico was a product of Fords famous Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO), built to capitalise on their success in the 1970 London-Mexico Rally. It used the same strengthened bodyshell as the RS models but was powered by a 1599cc pushrod engine, developing 86bhp and 92lb ft of torque.
Top speed? 99mph all-out (although ford said it could do 124mph.) That may seem pathetic now but still, the driving experience remains genuinely special.
Don’t just believe me, during the Silverstone Auctions in 2018 a 1973 Ford Escort Mk1 Mexico sold for a new world record auction price of £50,625.
The accompanying photo bears a close resemblance to my 1970s production car.
I was and still am a bit of a ‘Petrolhead’. I love fast cars and been fortunate enough to own several excellent machines and driven some other amazing examples.
It is a passion which I first recall having as a child of four or five years old.
I was born into a working-class family, living in the south of England, a country which was still smarting from the second world war. As with most families back then, it was a matter of make and mend.
Luxuries were simple treats like tinned fruit served with jelly and not as a separate dish on another day. We walked for miles to get to the shops, the market or visit relatives. Not many people owned cars and bus fares were deemed an unnecessary extravagance.
I recall many shopping trips when we wheeled a pram, a large ‘carriage’ type pram with a basket tray underneath and hooks on the handle. In the pram would be an array of bags. Sturdy leather ones for potatoes, vegetables and fresh fruit. Baskets for loaves and eggs, woven hemp or seagrass for the general shopping.
The shopping trip took in the butchers, I would watch as they cut the meats to order and counted the number of sausages strung together.
“How thick would you like your bacon?” he asked,
“Number four, please,” my mother would reply.
A weeks’ worth of freshly butchered meats, all wrapped in white ‘butchers’ paper’, would go into one of those bags we brought with us, a particular bag reserved for meat.
This story was repeated at the fishmongers. A piece of rockfish for my father, a small portion of cod for mother and a bag of sprats for us children. Each item wrapped in white paper by the fishmonger who served us. We would have the sprats ‘on toast’ with tomato ketchup or with a slice of bread spread with margarine for our dinner that night.
These purchases again had a dedicated bag. Fish needs to be kept apart from the other foods.
The shopping trip continued. At the bakery, if I were lucky, I would be treated to an iced finger roll. Basically, a plain bread finger roll with a smidgen of pink icing on top. Often, even mostly, this was given to my mother by the baker. A gift for me in recognition of her continued patronage.
The main grocery store, ours was the co-operative (CWS), was something to behold. I loved this place. For a young child, it was magical. Men in brown coats, with the help of ‘shop boys’, scurried around fulfilling the customers’ orders, mostly women with hats or hairnets who stood gossiping while the storemen collected and packed each order.
Our shopping was piled into a big box, often a long box which originally contained a gross of hens’ eggs. Once the order was complete, the payment was taken, cash, of course, and put with the bill in a large wooden ball.
The ball was then hoisted upwards on a contraption until, near the high ceiling, the ball fell onto a narrow metal track. I watched in wonderment as the ball rolled along this circuitous track above my head and disappear through a hole in the wall.
A few minutes later the ball would return, clunking and rattling along with the same overhead rail system, passing over and under several other wooden balls making their own way back and forth.
Eventually, the ball would drop onto a cage and the shopkeeper who collected our order would deftly twist the ball to open it, revealing the receipt and the change. He would then pass the receipt to mother and judiciously count the change into her palm.
It was some years before I understood the balls were sent to the cashier’s office, where the payment is taken and change made, so those working on the shop floor did not have to (or be trusted with) handling cash transactions.
There is an open-air museum in County Durham, called Beamish. (If you have the opportunity, please go. I know you will love it.) In the reconstructed town, this museum rebuilt an original co-operative store where the payment/cashier system of sending wooden balls along suspended tracks is still operational. One of my delights, to this day, is watching the balls run along those rails, the entire system operated solely by gravity.
It never fails to bring back memories of my childhood.
One of our final stops, when shopping, was a second hand (used goods) store called ‘Bluebird’. This is where my mother would buy clothes and household equipment. Many of the clothes were unpicked and made into entirely different attire. The odd bits and pieces of scrap material too small to be useful became dolls clothes for my sisters, other remnants rags for cleaning.
However, while my mother was looking around the shop and gossiping, I would go to the corner of the ‘Bluebirds’ where the toys were, especially the matchbox cars.
Here is where I found a Jaguar XK120 and a 150, both in ‘old English white’, a bright red e-type, a blue Bugatti racing car and so on. Sometime mother would let me keep one and I would carry it, clenched in my small fist, all the way home without letting it go.
I would not let my grip release the car, even when I needed to help push the pram or help mother to steady it up and down the kerbs, the large box on the wire tray beneath, bags sitting in the pram and those with the ‘delicate’ items swinging from the handle. Whatever occurred, I would keep my new car clasped tightly in my palm.
I did not know at the time, but this was, I am sure the beginning of becoming a petrolhead.
My dear little Mexico stayed with me for a well over a year. Only the water pump failed. I must admit I was a little sad to see it go, as I have been with most of the cars I owned.
(My next car, another Ford, soon helped me forget the Mexico… but that’s a story is for another time.)
Anyway… this post is leading me to say a person’s interest, their passion starts somewhere, usually in a small way when a certain event triggers their inquisitiveness, stimulates their curiosity.
For me, it was my child-being falling in love with small model cars which led to me having so many marvellous wheels once I became an adult.
Later, in my teens, I found books created those same heart-fluttering moments of marvel and wonder as I became totally lost in their pages, carried off to fictional worlds which made themselves real within my mind, so real they distracted me at school as I wondered what was happening if I would miss anything, anticipating what the character would do next.
Both reading and driving are passions conceived in childhood and now, in my dotage, they both still excite and comfort me in equal quantity.
I say to you, write if it is your passion to do so. Write in a way and a style which is all yours. Let it be fired by your love and lust for wordsmithing. Look to no one for permission or approval.
Buy the car you want to drive. Write the book you want to read.
You can check out the books I wanted to read because I followed my own advice and wrote them.
I struggled to come to a decision about which car to include next in this series of posts.
I wanted to mention one which played a significant part in my life and that was proving difficult because, as I have said, I spent many years at sea and moving from one shore base to another when at home, so there was little point in owning a vehicle to leave it sitting idle for several months on end.
Which means I skip several years or so, until 1975/78 (ish), to continue these blog posts. Also, I am not writing about a car, but a Motorcycle.
You see, with me being away so often and for so long, I deemed it easier for storage and running costs, to buy an easily maintainable and reliable motorbike. Nothing fast or fancy, simply a small bike I could run errands with, pop down to the beach or for a run into the countryside, do a little shopping, commute and so forth.
£300 bought me a one-year-old Honda CB 200. A bargain.
For those who don’t know this model, it is a four-stroke, twin-cylinder, OHC, 2 valves per cylinder. 196cc, air-cooled, coil ignition, 5 speed, chain-driven, electric start, 124 mph high revving but very reliable roadster.
Now, back in the day, it was legal to ride up to a 250cc motorcycle without passing a motorcycle driving test. All you needed was to have ‘L’ plates displayed and off you went. That is precisely what I did.
After a few ‘test drives’, over the weekend; when I took the bike to the garages situated at the rear of my house, where I self-taught myself starting and stopping, getting used to the throttle, gears and breaks, I took the bike out onto the local roads in the part of the city I was living in. All was well and went without incident.
My next journey was one of around thirty-five miles. This involved driving out of the city, along a major route, skirting two towns and two villages before heading out into the countryside, along some narrow and twisty country lanes to a military installation, which never officially existed, at least not until it was decommissioned and sold off to a housing development company.
Anyway, this became the regular journey I made for several months, most times twice a day – there and back. I only had two incidents, both minor.
I only mention the first of these so you can laugh at me.
It was during a very cold and icy spell in December. I rode the bike that morning very cautiously, with due consideration for the weather conditions. It snowed during the night, a layer of fresh powder laying atop yesterdays melt, which was now a hidden sheet of ice.
As I approached the last couple of miles I needed to decide which of the possible two roads to take. Neither were main routes.
The first choice was to stay on the larger road and hope I could climb the steep hill and negotiate the final part, which was little more than a rough track.
My second choice was to use the smaller, twisting lanes. The advantage was, although longer in distance, this route skirted the hill, which I was concerned about due to the ice and only having two wheels.
I went with my gut instinct and took the back roads. I made the right choice, as I later learnt the hill route was closed due to the ice making it impassable. However, this also meant all the traffic heading west was diverted along the narrow lanes in the direction I was heading.
While I intended, when taking this route, to creep along at my own steady pace, I now had vans, cars and trucks moving far too slowly as they jostled to pass one another. I was managing fine, keeping a measured distance from the vehicle in front, until the whole line of traffic came to a halt.
Now, the bikers among you will know, once you come to a complete stop the rider must also contend with the weight of the bike along with its balance. To do this generally means taking the machine’s weight by bracing it with a leg. On ice, on a cambered road, this means the bikes centre of gravity alters, the tyres no longer have any grip and, on this occasion, neither did my well-placed boot.
The outcome is the bike slid out from under me and I hopped a couple of times before slipping and falling flat on my arse.
Righting a fallen machine on sheet ice is no easy task either.
Thankfully, the driver following me was patient. He smiled and nodded, letting me know he would wait for me to pick the bike up and get moving again and not mow me down. Although he declined to get out from the heated comfort of his car and help.
Personally, I think he found it the whole episode amusing and would, once at work, tell the tale of the biker taking several attempts to pick his bike up and then mount it and ride on. For myself, I felt I was auditioning for the Keystone Cops, stand up, grip the handlebars, pull, fall over. Do the same and with the bike halfway upright, the back wheel decides to slither off in another direction… and so on. All in the middle of a road with halted traffic, the drivers watching in amusement tinged with some annoyance of being delayed further. I admit it was one of the few time I have ever felt embarrassed.
Eventually, I managed to get back on the bike and complete my journey… but only in 1st gear. When the bike toppled the gear lever was bent upwards. meaning I could not select any other gear. Later that day, armed with a house brick and a hammer, I managed to straighten the lever, the intention to replace it once home.
I never did… because it worked better than before. The gear changes were easier, sweeter and more precise. This Luddite type repair proved effective enough to last the entire next few years I owned the motorcycle and, possibly many years after.
That’s the end of this week’s story.
So, I hear you asking, what has all that to do with writing?
Well, quite a lot really. I believe this tale proves at least two points.
The first is, many, probably most of us, are not trained writers. We have not a master’s degree in English literature, nor do we hold any journalistic diplomas. But we are writers and authors, professional ones at that and some of us hold a wealth of knowledge which simply cannot be taught in a classroom.
Just ‘doing it’ is very much how I first learnt to ride my motorcycle and then the following experience I gained from riding in snow and ice. I am now, by the way, an ‘A’ class driver (I have the certificates to prove it!)
So, achieving a high, professional standard of authorship is, I believe, within almost anyone’s grasp so long as they are willing to take the opportunity. Accepting they will fall off now and again but will get back on and complete the journey.
No one said it would be easy, comfortable, or without incident, but by golly, it is an awful lot of fun.
My second point is this; not everything in this world needs to be brand new and shiny. Often imperfect is as good, if not better. As was my Luddite repair to the gear lever.
Too often authors strive for literary perfection. While I’ll not say this is wrong, I do think the telling of a wonderful and captivating tale, one which connects to the reader drawing them deep into the (un)reality of your fantasy world, is far, far more important than having every genitive case or article in a perfect place.
“Jeffery Archer’s agent once told him, (in reference to Kane & Able); you will never be a great literary writer, but you can tell a damned good tale.”
For those of you who may not know of Jeffery Archer, he was a British Conservative politician, who fell from grace and was sentenced to four years in jail for Perjury. He is a survivor of prostate cancer.
Archer was almost bankrupt when he wrote his first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, in the autumn of 1974. This was followed by Kane and Abelin 1979, his best-selling work to date. Many of Archer’s works were adapted to radio, television and films.
To date, Archer has written 36 books; his international sales are estimated to exceed 330 million and have generated him more than £250 million GBP.
So, I guess writing a damned good tale is where my focus is, maybe yours should be too?
These stories explore the depths of human character, the quintessence disposition of living and of life itself. Questions we shy from, the ones we are afraid to ask ourselves are unearthed, revealed, brought screaming into the daylight of recognition.
The prevailing factor is, they are written with consideration for our fragile human propensity; the fears, the dreams and wishes, the uncertainties and self-doubts we all carry inside ourselves, the human elements of love, of life and of survival.
This is a collection of poignant, emotive, yet entertaining stories everyone should read, at least once.
… it was a long time until I owned another vehicle. You see, I was back at sea, often for long periods and there is not much of a requirement for cars aboard a ship.
However, when I was home from leave I did have the opportunity to drive whichever car my father had at the time. It seemed each time I returned home a different car was in our garage. I cannot remember them all, but I do recall one I enjoyed driving, the Hillman Hunter.
The photograph shown above is about the closest example I can find to my fathers’ car, a gold-coloured Hillman Hunter with a vinyl (leather look) roof, (all the rage at the time), The car was an automatic, making it a very easy vehicle to drive.
The Hillman Hunter was probably one of the best vehicles being built at the time in the UK, whose motor industry was in total meltdown, from which it never recovered.
Today Morgan is about the only manufacturer still British owned.
Other famous marques, often still perceived as British, are all foreign-owned.
Aston Martin belongs to Ford, Rolls Royce to Volkswagen, Bentley is part of Tata as is Land Rover, Lotus is a division of Proton, MG is a Chinese brand, Mini is BMW, and Vauxhall is part of General Motors (GM).
This, the Hillman Hunter, is one of the cars I recall in which we, the family, travelled to the beach and countryside for ‘days out’ and picnics, something I have blogged about before.
Many of these trips, or instances from those journeys, are part of the various recollections I write about in one of my ‘works in progress’ On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion, which takes the form of a fictitious road trip, allowing me to share my thoughts and perceptions with you, “strung together as a collage of momentary instances, loosely stitched together by wisps of fleeting reflection.”
In a way, I feel I am cheating a bit by writing this book. You see, I am blending reality and fact, suspect and distorted, even selected memory, along with fiction and fantasy to create a platform in which I can share my personal observations and sideways views on life, society, culture, civilisation and humanity by way of a series of connected monologues.
The result, when completed, will be a book which is neither a factual piece nor a work of fiction but rather one of reflective opinion and personal contemplations. One which is far from accurate or objective, although it is both genuine and honest.
I find On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion difficult to classify or, as is the want with everything nowadays, to give a label. I wonder who may read it once completed? Is this book pure indulgence on my part, a form of catharsis so I can justify my own assessments and evaluations of life?
I am hoping people find the cover and blurb intriguing enough to buy it, so I can take them on a voyage where we can rattle along the twisted neural carriageways of my psyche and see where it leads.
We can but wait and see.
I shall have this book ready at some point during 2020… hopefully.
In the meantime, I have some news, there is a NEW blog, Electric Eclectic’s blog. Please, please, head over there and follow the blog today. You will love it… that’s a promise, not an order!
This week I continue with the ‘cars I have owned’ themed series of posts.
(Okay, I did not own the Vauxhall Viva in the first post, but that’s just a little technicality we can dismiss for the sake of this blog.)
So, where was I… oh, yes.
I was back from sea.
My trip from Portsmouth took me over to Lisbon, on to Keel, then up to Copenhagen and onwards to Oslo before heading back to England, via Scapa Flow and Inverness. After which my sailing schedule was halted for a short period and I found myself based in the small village of East Meon, Nr Petersfield in Hampshire.
Now, East Meon is not a well-known place by any stretch of the imagination. It is one of those villages that, should you blink while driving through it, you would miss it completely.
I think the village was served by two busses a week. One on a Tuesday morning and another late on a Thursday afternoon, which meant, apart from the old ‘Shanksy’s Pony’ I would be pretty well isolated from humanity.
Not an attractive prospect for a young man of almost seventeen years of age.
Thus, four of my friends and I rummaged around in our pockets and collected the sum total of £39.86 (GBP) pence. This is, at today’s exchange, worth around $52.45 (USD).
Now, back in late 1974 early 1975, this sum was worth a little more than it is today and, I think, the Pound to Dollar rate was about two US Dollars for each British Pound. Anyway, whichever way you slice the cake, it was not a vast sum of money.
But it was more than enough for the five of us to find ourselves the proud owners of a 1961 Vauxhall Cresta, with two new tyres, which were in the boot, (that’s the trunk in Americanese) awaiting to be fitted.
Our bargain car cost us the princely sum of £25.00, cash, from our pooled funds. That left us with £14.85 pence to buy some petrol, (that’s gas to you Americans), and beer at the local village pub; which is located at the foot of the hill, about three miles away, along a very twisty and dark tree-lined country road.
Now, before you think this tale is about some disaster concerning five young men, a vehicle without any documentation or roadworthiness inspection, two bald tyres, a very dark, twisty, rain-soaked road and the fact that not one of those young men, (except my few lessons which got me passed my test almost eighteen months ago, lessons and procedures now totally forgotten), had ever driven a vehicle of any description on any sort of road before, you are wrong… sort of.
Brian, (I’ll call him Brian because, after forty-six years, I have forgotten his actual name), got to drive Caroline first. Why we decided to call the Cresta ‘Caroline’ escapes me but I should think there was no good reason, at least not one which would make any sense today.
The trip was a simple one. We would leave the base and, once we were off the track and onto the road, we would allow the car to freewheel down the hill for the three-mile trip to the village. Once in the village, we would be able to coast to the filling station, which in fact was just a single pump garage, put a small amount of fuel into the car and then go to the pub for a few beers.
We reached the tarmac road at the top of the hill and began our descent, killed the engine and allowed the car to coast downhill, picking up speed as it went. In those days’ cars did not have power steering and the breaking was a matter of pressing hard, feeling the breaks fade, letting them off and jumping on them again, as sort of camber breaking to help the breaks bite.
However, as none of us were experienced drivers; we knew nothing of this technique and, as the car began to accelerate to breakneck speed, the four of us pressed ourselves further and further back into the leather seats with wide grimaces plastered across our fear frozen faces as we watch, unable to move as Brian, now a paler shade of white than an albino turd, stood upright planting his entire 7 and a half stone, that’s around 105 pounds, weight on the brake pedal and wrenched the steering wheel right and left as the sharp, blind bends rushed at us at warp speed.
Rounding the final bend, the road levelled out as it approached and entered the village of East Meon. By the time we were nearing the garage, the car had slowed to around thirty miles an hour and Brian realised he had been standing on the accelerator (gas pedal) and not the break. He now pressed the correct pedal and the car jerked to a halt, throwing the four of us forward.
I hit my head on the dash. Dave slid off the bench seat and disappeared under the consul. Jack became wedged in the passenger footwell and Mark landed on top of him, breaking Jack’s nose in the process.
Dave said, “What the fuck” as he extricated himself from wherever he had disappeared, climbed over me to get out of the car, ran around to the driver’s door and pulled Brian from the vehicle, throwing him unceremoniously into the middle of the road. He then jumped in, started the car and drove the remaining ten yards to the pump.
We fuelled the car with enough fuel to get us back up the hill and, we hoped, back down again but in a much more controlled manner. Then Dave drove to the pub, but not allowing Brian back in the car, so he had to walk. (It was a quarter of a mile at most.)
After a beer or three each. It is amazing to recall how far a few pounds would go back in those days. It was time to leave and make our way up the hill and back to base. I am unsure of how it happened, but I was the one nominated to drive back. I was both terrified and excited at the same time.
Now, as I said before, this car did not come with any warranties with regards to its roadworthiness or any guarantees as to what parts worked and what was defunct. We soon found out only one headlight worked, as did one windscreen (windshield) wiper and, guess what, it was not the one on the driver’s side.
The heaters power however compensated for both of these malfunctions. Whenever the headlights or the windscreen wipers were switched on the heater blasted out a stream of red-hot air akin to the afterburner of an F15 fighter aircraft. The heater was also automatically activated when the left turn indicator was used, as it was when reverse gear was selected.
If on occasion, the glove box was opened while the car was moving at over thirty miles an hour, the radio would come on at speaker shaking, window-rattling volume; tuned into some random station, never once the same as the time before. Other than that, the radio would not work at all.
So, I got to drive the three miles back up the hill in the pouring rain with illegal tyres, no clear vision, jets of hot air bonding my polyester trousers to my legs, all the windows wide open, to compensate for the lack of oxygen available to our lungs because of the same furnace, the persisting rain blowing painfully into my face by the gale-force winds and the radio ear-splittingly blasting the drumming jazz hit, ‘Skin Deep‘.
I must say though, this journey back was surprisingly uneventful if you disregard my searching for and getting the wrong gear on the column change as I struggled to understand the mechanics of controlling a motor vehicle whose controls were alien to anything… that one vehicle I took lessons in… oh, and the swerving, harsh breaking and full 180 degrees spin, on tyres so worn they were all but slick, I managed as I swerved to avoid the deer, which ran out from the almost pitch black shadows of the trees in the pouring rain.
How I did not hit the deer, the embankments or end up shitting my pants, I am unsure but I got us all back alive if a little shaken.
Over the next few weeks, we did get the headlight fixed and replaced all four tyres. No one knew what to do with the heater, so we simply put up with its furnace temperatures by driving most of the time with the windows wide open. As for the radio, we decided it was haunted and the soul of the car, so we left that well alone, just in case ‘Caroline’ was a relative of ‘Christine’.
A few months later it was time to move on, so we sold ‘Caroline’ to a group of ‘newbies’ for the heavenly sum of £50.00. That was a one hundred per-cent profit on our original investment.
I often wonder what became of Caroline. Maybe she continued to service the base’s personnel until they closed it down in 1993.
What, you may ask, has this post got to do with writing or being indie?
I like to think it shows one can create a story from even the most basic of events from our everyday lives.
The next time you feel stuck for something to write about, scribble a short article about what happened to you today, yesterday or twenty years ago. I am certain you will find you have an audience eager to read about those events in your life.
Try it. You have nothing to lose.
Keep Happy, Paul
If you liked this short story why not download one of my Electric Eclectic Novelettes, they are longer short stories I am sure you will enjoy.
Find my books, paperbacks and ebooks, including my Electric Eclectic booksHERE
Want a bit more? Then check out ‘Within the Invisible Pentacle’ a collection of short stories all with feminine titles.
You can find Within the Invisible PentacleHEREin the UKandHEREin the USA
On the Highway of Irrelevant Rumination and Delusion is my musings on life and living, taken from my old blog series of the same name and explored during a fictitious road trip, itself an amalgam of many, to create a captivating, informative and entertaining monologue.https://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white/works-in-progress
I am beginning this series of posts with a car from 1973 in which I first learned to drive, the ubiquitous Vauxhall Viva.
In its time, the Vauxhall Viva was the most popular car to come from Vauxhall’s Luton works. Once seen on every street corner The Viva was the first Vauxhall to achieve a six-figure production run and, by the early 1970s, was Vauxhall’s best-selling model.
None of that mattered to me as I struggled to master the necessary synchronicity between clutch, steering, mirrors, gearshift and acceleration while simultaneously looking ahead and in my mirrors. No mean feat for someone who never road a bicycle until they were eight years old!
However, the point of this series of post is far from riding bicycles or driving cars, its about life, the world, being an indie author and, at least for the first few posts, a little bit of nostalgia. A mix I hope you will find informative as well as entertaining.
So, without further ado, let me get started ‘proper’.
At the end of 1973, I was a young sailor in the Royal Navy. I had around six weeks left before I was to join my first ship and sail away to some far-flung shores. I was, to all intents and purpose a ‘whippersnapper‘. I suppose it was the start of me becoming me, becoming who I am now.
Did you know the word Whippersnapper was originally a “diminutive, insignificant, or presumptuous person?”
It was a term of reproach, here is the word used in a lengthy harangue by Edgar Allan Poe, from his story “Loss of Breath”:
“Thou wretch! – thou vixen! – thou shrew!” said I to my wife on the morning after our wedding, “thou witch! – thou hag! – thou whipper-snapper! – thou sink of iniquity! – thou fiery-faced quintessence of all that is abominable! – thou – thou –”
(The speaker in the story is then, gratifyingly, bereft of breath and stops speaking.)
Some may have preferred to call me a ‘Whiffet’ which has similar connotations and also means “a small, young, or unimportant person.”
But the cuteness of the word kept it becoming a term of reproach. Whiffet was used in the 19th century in relaxed and informal writing, such as this breezy passage from an early magazine movie review:
Particularly is this true in the case of William Haines. This cinema actor invariably plays the obnoxious, precocious whiffet who upsets plans, causes heartaches by his wilfulness.
—“The New Pictures,” Time Magazine, 10 October 1928
Now, back to my tale…
With little to do with my ‘off-duty’ time, I decided to learn to drive. (Not that I was going to get much chance to practise the skill once at sea!) Anyway, I engaged the services of a driving instructor and jumped into the driving seat of a shiny red car. The picture on this blog is exactly as I recall the vehicle.
Three lessons a week taught me the skills necessary for basic car control, well, enough to pass my test and gain a licence just in time to board my ship and sail away on the high seas.
My first ‘foreign’ port of call was Lisbon, Portugal; which is just across the English Channel and a little south. The fine city that it is, it was not the exotic tropical port of my boyhood dreams. (Thankfully I did get to visit those too.)
But tales of sailing the high seas and exploring foreign lands is not my premise of this post. It is about me taking those driving lessons although I knew it would be many months before I could use to use my newly acquired skills. Besides which, I still needed to purchase a vehicle.
You see, far too often we stop ourselves from undertaking certain tasks because of… well, whatever excuse we can find to convince ourselves. I could have so easily not taken those driving lessons because I was going to sea, because I did not have a car, because I… whatever. The point is it would have simply been an excuse with no real foundation of any matter.
It is making these excuses to ourselves so many of us authors and writers do far too frequently when what we should be doing is finding reasons to do something, making time to do something.
We must say to ourselves, “Yes, I can write another chapter today despite having to work late.” Or “I can watch the TV later, or tomorrow, but I must write this down now.” No matter your book may not be ready until next year; no matter your laptop is broken, you have paper and pen.
I got to drive later that year when I returned from my first sea draft. Since then I gained an advanced drivers’ licence. I have driven racing cars on various tracks around the world, from Brands Hatch in the UK to Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. I have personally owned some amazingly powerful machines like a Nissan Skyline GTR, a Toyota GT4 and an Aston Martin BD9.
I don’t think I would have done so had made an excuse to myself not to take those driving lessons. I am a firm believer that each decision we make forges our life path ahead for a length of time until our next pivotal decision must be made. Once each choice is selected there is no going back, no return, just differing routes to choose.
I think this is why I have several books and various art projects on the go at any one time, I don’t like saying no to myself; I don’t like making excuses to myself about why I can’t, or shouldn’t do something, anything.
I like to encourage myself to forge ahead, to do it, to say yes.
I encourage you to support and believe in yourself. I bet you will find you are a far more capable person than you give yourself credit for.
But first, here are a few bits of book lore authors may not know.
By tradition and convention, authors should always sign their books on the title page, the page which has the author’s name printed on it, generally under the printed title of the book or nearer the foot of the same page.
If the author wishes to add an inscription, a message along with their signature, it should also go on the title page if it is very short, about a word or four in length. Longer inscriptions should be written on the half-title page, the page preceding the title page, or on the front endpaper, sometimes referred to as the flyleaf, if of a serious length.
An old tradition has the author put a line through their own printed name when they sign their name on the title page.
There are, by historical anecdote, two views of why this practice is undertaken.
The first, is a book only needs a single validation attributing its author, the authors own handwritten signature makes the printed attribution unnecessary, hence it is crossed out.
The second accepted reason goes back to the earliest days of printing when it was the practice for authors to sign each copy of the printed material by hand as proof of their authorship, a kind of early copyrights protection if you will.
My own view is, the tradition of crossing out one’s name arises from a combination of both, developing over the years as the printing revolution gained credence.
I do like the thought, even nowadays, these hundreds of years later, there is some conservative part of us writers who continue this practise as a nod to our literary forebears. That we authors like to keep a connection with our history and heritage.
Another tradition for book signing is when someone asks you to sign or personalise their copy. (This is inclusive of book signings, or under any other circumstance.) Say the person is ‘George’, then the author should write the words ‘For George’. ONLY if the author is giving the book as a gift should they write the words ‘To George’. (Note Stephen King’s inscription in the above photograph).
Of course, these are only conventions, accepted literary etiquette and in no way are enforced rules or regulations. Authors can sign any way they wish.
I do hope, however, you are one who embraces historical values, discernment and class.
Here is what some established authors say on the matter;
Tom C. Hunley says. “I asked Rodney Jones, American poet and retired professor of English at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, why he crossed his name out in a book he signed for me. He told me it makes it more valuable for collectors. Also, if it has a date and location, it makes it even more valuable. So, I’ve been crossing out my name and writing in a date and location at every book signing since.”
(Tom is the director of Steel Toe Books and a prolific writer and Professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY.)
Nicholas Belardes, a Chicano writer of speculative, literary, YA and MG fiction said, “Sometimes I cross my name out and sign. I do it out of respect for myself, for the idea of accomplishment, for the idea that writers are real people, that we can touch our manuscripts in ways that transcend the printed objects they’ve become. Our works become even more personal this way because our signatures are more physically attributed to us in the world than even fingerprints.”
“I do it. My understanding is it dates to the historical tradition of small press runs, where the author would hand-sign each copy as an authentication of the text.” Sandra Beasley, American poet and non-fiction writer from Virginia.
Note:Sometimes authors sign additional copies, ones intended for future sale by the store or organisation where the signing is taking place. This is encouraging for people to purchase the book from and even attract custom to, that retailer.
However, there is also an ulterior motive; once a book has been signed, it is no longer classed as a ‘new’ book according to many publishers’ rules. Therefore, it cannot be returned to the publisher for a refund by the retail vendor. (Neat trick or not. I guess it depends on your viewpoint?)
Okay, now we have those tidbits of information, let’s get on with the reason why you might take signing your book as a very serious matter…
When you buy a signed book, you are purchasing a signature, but when you buy an inscribed book you are getting a story.
One of the questions I’ve been asked often is “Which is better, having a book signed by the author or having them inscribed it?”
Without any hesitation, my answer is the more writing by the author in a book, the better. I even encourage collectors to have their own copies personally inscribed by the author whenever they can.
For a long time, generations, literally, there was a clearly established hierarchy of values pertaining to books signed by their authors.
I shall clarify…
The best copy is the dedication copy, most usually there is only one of these. The one gifted to the person for whom the dedication was written.
Next best are the association copies, books inscribed by the author to someone notable or important in the author’s life, a relative, a friend, a mentor or possibly another writer.
After that were ‘presentation copies,’ which means the books inscribed by the author to someone who was not (as) important to the author, or whose importance was unknown.
And finally, at the bottom of the hierarchy, are books that are just signed, with no further inscription, no other writing, etc.
The logic of such a hierarchy is more or less self-evident.
The dedication copy is usually unique or, at most, limited to a couple of copies, inscribed by the author to the person he or she thought important enough to dedicate the book to, in print.
Association copies involved significant figures in the author’s life (or in the general cultural life of which the author was a part) also have a self-evident value, although not one as unique or specific as the dedication copy.
Presentation copies are more ambiguous, the mere fact a presentation copy could sometimes, with a little bit of research, luck, or specialised knowledge ‘become’ an association copy argued for their importance, and the closeness of the two in the hierarchy.
Signed books are last, and there is the suggestion of a ‘taint’ to them, as though the only justification for a book having an autograph is celebrity worship which is inappropriate to the book (literary) world.
Because this preference is clear and longstanding in the book collecting world, dealers prefer to have presentation copies over plain signed copies, collectors prefer them and there is a premium placed on their price in the collector’s marketplace.
Now, a true story of how this hierarchy was thrown into turmoil…
An enterprising bookselling from the New York area, recognising this preference, decided to exploit it, relentlessly.
Somewhere in New York, even before the days of routine author tours on the publication of a new book, there were author readings every day. The same with lectures, talks, and seminars, most open to the public.
Frequently one could visit several in a single day.
The bookseller in reference was a family business. They attended many readings and talks, en masse; often five or more family members at each, all carrying a bag full of the author’s first editions. Each asking the author to inscribe the books to them personally.
Then, when they issued catalogues, nearly every book was listed as a ‘signed presentation copy, inscribed by the author’, a most desirable designation, especially for modern first editions, many of which are not inherently rare unless there is something special about a particular copy.
This exploitation continued for several years. As it did the family grew bolder, branching out its operation to reach more authors, those beyond the boundaries of New York.
Stories began to circulate among writers as they began to receive identically worded, ingratiating letters from a correspondent claiming to be the author’s greatest fan and sending a box of books to be inscribed personally before being returned.
Some writers began noticing the ‘fan’ would then write a follow-up letter some months later, sending another batch of books to be inscribed, often including copies of titles the author remembered signing previously.
Authors began to dislike it, feel manipulated, deceived and exploited. Several undertook to go along to bookshops and signing all their books in each store.
Booksellers eventually recognised the fraud of these ‘signed presentation’ copies. Whereas a plain signed book carried no such taint.
Collectors began to absorb the preference for plain signed books the booksellers now favoured, although they did not realise it was only the books inscribed to this family’s members which were ‘tainted.’
The public’s perception (wrongly) grew that all inscribed books were now less desirable than those which were simply just signed by the author.
The whole episode created a self-fulfilling prophecy: if collectors’ value inscribed books less than books which just have the authors signature, for whatever reason, it becomes far more difficult to sell inscribed books than those which are signed…. The perception of which is, it ‘proves’ inscribed books are less valuable…. and so, the merry goes around.
Such a view not only defies long-established historical precedent it also diminishes and demeans collecting.
Not only can a presentation copy, to an unknown third party ‘turn into’ an association copy (after a little research), but a collector’s own copy can become an association copy if the collector stays with it long enough and seriously enough for the collection to become recognisably important.
Hemingway’s first bibliographer was Louis Cohen, a fan and book collector.
A Hemingway book inscribed to Cohen would, at the time, be a simple presentation copy to a person of no particular consequence.
Today, it would be viewed as a highly desirable association copy.
Similarly, if Carl Peterson managed to get Faulkner to inscribe a book to him, it would now be viewed as a major association copy.
The time-honoured practise of identifying books from an important collection, ‘the Doheny copy‘ or ‘the Bradley Martin copy,‘ for example, underscores collectors themselves can become significant figures.
Perhaps, most telling in terms of underlying values is the cases of long-dead authors like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Joyce, it is true a presentation copy has a higher value in the marketplace than one which is just signed.
They are more interesting, they can provoke interesting questions leading to discovery, which is one of the pleasures of collecting and ‘the more writing by the author in the book, the better’ is still generally the accepted truth in this market.
Now, this is where it matters to you most…
Since we do not know, cannot predict or even guess who will be part of the next generation of Faulkners, Hemingway’s, James Joyce’s or even Stephen Kings, is there any reason different criteria should apply to the inscriptions of we contemporary authors than to those we now deem as ‘classic’?
I don’t think so.
Therefore, I suggest you take your book signings very seriously indeed, because one of those people may well be you, or me, or… maybe it will be the author who just inscribed your copy of their new book.
Keep Happy, Paul.
If you want to know more about creating books, your covers, being indie, the publishing or printing world, editing, Copyright, ISBN’s, or what each part of a book is called and what it does, then you are in the right place.
I have two books especially written to give authors and writers a ton of useful information. These are NOT ‘how-to’ books or ‘step-by-step’ guides but a distillation of my time and experience as an indie.
These books chapters are rammed full of helpful and useful information about everything concerned with indie authoring your books. These books will save you time, effort and money along with saving you making a ton of mistakes and suffering the anguish which goes along with it… because I have already been there, done that & got the Tee-shirt on your behalf.
Sort of following on from my previous post, ‘a Bit about Indies and Readers’, this article delves into the terms ‘Indie authors’, ‘self-publishing’ and ‘Indie publishing’ and is aimed at clarifying them… sort of.
“Five years ago, self-publishing was a scar. Now it’s a tattoo”….Greg White, Bloomberg News, 2016
Let’s not beat about the bush. I’ll get straight to the point.
This is the generally accepted definition of self-publishing.
Self-publishing is the publication of media by its author without the involvement of an established publisher. In common parlance, the term generally refers to physical written media, such as books and magazines or digital media, such as e-books and websites. It can also apply to albums, pamphlets, brochures, video content, zines, or uploading images to a website.
However, in recent years the use of the term ‘Self-Publishing’ has faded in use, along with its sister idiom, ‘Desktop Publishing’. Both have been superseded by the phrases, ‘indie author’ and ‘indie publisher’.
While both are often used as interchangeable titles, indie authorship and self-publishing are not quite synonymous.
Here is a breakdown of current publishing possibilities:
Authors do not pay any publishing-related expenses.
Well-established publishing firms include those often referred to as the ‘Big Five’: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan. (Including their dozens of imprints.)
These large publishers historically prefer authors with mainstream appeal, particularly celebrity or ‘brand-name’ authors. Partly, this is to guard against ‘risk’, all of which the publishers bear.
Typically, they offer advance payment and, on occasion, authors receive a slice of the book profits by way of royalty. Frequently, whatever the publishers offer is based on a two to three book ‘deal’, tying the author to the publisher for a period of time.
Publishers own the rights and control most aspects of publication, especially the design of the cover and the choice of a title.
Mainstream publishers can get books into brick-and-mortar bookstores, with whom they have a historic relationship, as they do with prime book distribution organisations, national and independent libraries. The large publisher relationships with other media and the press often ensure reviews in mainstream mass media.
However, many established authors now chose to independently publish. This is one reason;
“My first book went through so many different changes that when it released, I no longer felt like it was the story I originally set out to tell.”Author Sarah Grimm, on why she chose self-publishing.
Many mid-size traditional publishers offer the same or similar arrangements as the ‘big houses’.
It is harder to categorise smaller and independent presses as these vary from well-established boutique presses to ‘mom-and-pop’ start-ups who have little experience.
Many of these smaller publishers accept first-time authors, often they do not require agents to approach them but are open to ‘unsolicited’ submissions.
With the smaller presses, authors may not receive an advance, or they may get a lesser amount than with a ‘mainstream press’, but often they receive a larger share of the profits.
It is harder for smaller presses to get books into bookstores. Which can depend if they specialise in a certain area of publishing.
As Judith Briles said in a 2014 article on the topic,
“Small presses make their profits by selling books to consumers, rather than selling services to authors or selling a small number of copies to the author’s friends.”
There are intermediate arrangements between traditional and self-publishing in which both author and publisher bear some of the costs of development, sometimes called ‘cooperative publishing’.
A hybrid publisher may offer selected services to help an author get a book published, such as story editing, copy editing, proofreading, marketing and public relations, and promotion through social media and search engine optimization strategies.
Many of these firms have their own online bookstores.
It is important for authors considering a hybrid approach to fully understand which services will be included and at what cost.
It is also advisable to seek legal advice regarding understanding the technical and implicit terms of any contract.
Some hybrids offer less-than-ideal contracts, which make it hard for an author to exit the deal later. They can also take a disproportionate share of profits; one adviser suggests it’s ‘buyer beware’ when engaging such firms.
With this model, the author funds the publication of the book, (and absorbs the risks), sometimes spending thousands to get the know-how and editing skills of the publisher.
The quality of the services offered and the terms of contracts vary widely. As a rule, royalties are less than true self-publishing but more than traditional publishing.
Hybrid Books rarely get into bookstores. Authors should try to keep as many rights with as much flexibility as possible. Some firms are nothing more than funky assisted-publishing services which overcharge.
Vanity press… (Some Hybrid publishers fall into this category)
The term ‘vanity press’ is considered pejorative since it suggests a person who hires such a service is unqualified or unable to have their book succeed in the market, and as such the author is printing the book only out of vanity.
Users pay to have their books published.
While a commercial publisher’s market is the book-buying public at large, the vanity publisher’s market is the author.
Some authors buy substantial copies of their own book, which are then used as giveaways or promotional tools.
In this business model, there are often elements of fraud; which is why some vanity presses masquerade as legitimate publishers, pretending to be selective and choosy in their book selections.
They prey upon a would-be author’s desire to be published.
If a vanity press charges a higher amount to print a run of books than a regular printer, it can be an indication of deception and fraud.
These are businesses who charge fees for various publishing-related services such as formatting, cover design and copyediting.
They make their money from these services alone.
Authors retain the royalties and control over editing and cover design and title.
These businesses can be helpful to those starting out in publishing as the author can learn the process from experienced people.
However, a word of caution.
Where the company’s profit comes from can be your first clue into what sort of company you are dealing with.
Companies which offer further services to assist the author with publicity and marketing are generally not a good deal, although there are exceptions.
If you do decide to go down this route, seek advice and recommendations from established authors.
Note:Organisations which have pushy sales tactics along with companies who masquerade as traditional publishers by having authors go through an elaborate process to make them think, or at least feel, as if they are being accepted, where the author pays to have the book published and/or sacrifices an inordinate percentage of their royalties for the privilege, should be given a wide berth.
The author controls the entire publishing process from start to finish.
They can hire freelancers to help with wherever, and whenever, the author requires. Such as cover designers, copy editors, story editors and with formatting.
It is necessary authors thinks like an entrepreneur and ensures their finished book is a professional, high-quality product.
All profits and rights remain with the author.
Except for a few independent bookstores, authors will find it difficult to have their books displayed within physical bookstores and major ‘bricks & mortar’ retail outlets.
Indie authors are pretty much restricted in offering their books via online platforms, personal and local social networks, visiting book fairs, conferences, organising book signings at selected venues and finding other ‘creative’ methods of distribution.
Why might an established mainstream author choose to indie publish?
Perhaps author James Altucher can give an indication. Here he describes working with an editor in 2013:
“Nils and I went back and forth on more than 15 different rewrites for my book. The difference between the original version and the final version is like the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.”
“Indie authorship and self-publishing are not quite synonymous but an independent author will have self-published at least one book.”
Indie-Publishing… which is increasingly becoming the first choice for writers.
As self-publishing loses its stigma and its benefits via technology become more apparent, there are more instances in which new authors choose indie publishing as their primary route, as well as established authors leaving traditional publishers.
There are now greater instances of indie-published authors selling their books in major retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, Target, and Walmart, than ever before.
Partly this is because…
“Authors are no longer bound in their storytelling by what the traditional publishers think the market can bear… Instead, because we can go straight to the reader now, we can write exactly the books that we want to write and exactly the books that our fans want to read. We don’t have to worry about whether an agent can sell the book, or if an editor and publisher want to buy the book, or if a retailer wants to stock the book. Personally, I think this new open market can – and does – make for much more interesting storytelling.” Novelist Bella Andre in the Washington Post, 2015
The terms “Independent publishers” and “indie publishers” were until recently associated with small presses, to identify them as separate from larger, traditional book publishers. Over time, authors who wanted to maintain complete creative control over their books began to create their own small presses, which nowadays simply involves starting a business and little else.
Being a small press or an independent book publisher does not mean having a printing press in your basement. The rising popularity and ease of access to print-on-demand (POD) through such outlets as Ingram Spark and Kindle Direct Publishing have served to increase the number of indie publishers.
Of course, when mainstream publishers like Penguin announce their own self-publishing arm, it can be difficult to know what the hell is going on…. Except that we true indies now have them on the run… sort of.
“With self-publishing you don’t waste your time trying to get published, which can take years of query letters and agenting, and all this stuff. You go straight to the real gatekeepers, which are the readers. If they respond favourably and you have sales, you can leverage that into a writing career. If they don’t, you write the next thing. Either way, you’re not spending your time trying to get published, you’re spending your time writing the next work.”Hugh Howey, author of Wool
The real definition lies somewhere in between… sort of… and it’s not just semantics.
To end this rambling, here are few facts for you to mull over.
Historically, while most novels were distributed by established publishers, there are many authors who chose to self-publish, or who chose to start their own presses, such as John Locke, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Martin Luther, Marcel Proust, Derek Walcott, Walt Whitman, Janet Evanovich, Colleen Hoover, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe… along with Mark Twain, who also started his own printing company.
In 2010, according to a different analysis, there were 4.2 million new titles published. Much of the growth in new titles is because of indie-publishing.
In 2011, indie-published books made up 43% of all print titles, helping to increase overall growth of print production, according to Bowker market research.
Neither of the above figures relates to eBooks, whose increase in number were ‘radically higher’ due to independent publishing. (Bowker).
Some people say,“I only want to read books by professional authors because, in my opinion, they are far better quality compared to indie-published works.”
Others say,“People publishing through the big five primarily write useless, commercial drivel that the publishers demand, as it sells well. They are not real authors. It is the indie authors, the ones who are doing it for the love of writing, the ones who create original works that I love. They’re real authors.”
Being indie myself I must agree with the last statement.
As in most creative arts, such as music and film, original works tend to be far more creative, intriguing, thought-provoking and, let’s face it, enjoyable than mass-market efforts designed to create maximum profit by appealing to the lowest common denominator.
I am an ardent Indie Author who has written and Indie Published a large number of titles, in Hardcover, Paperback and eBook formats.
My books include a children’s tale, a glossy, music legends, coffee-table book; non-fiction books; semi-fiction stories; short story collections; poetry, and fictional novels.
Oh, and two special books just for Indie Authors & Publishers, both of which are waiting for you to download right now.
Many, if not all authors know writing is never straight forward; I am not talking about the technical aspects or grammar, but about finding the time to write when your mind is focused, when it is in the ‘zone’ for ‘that part’ of your story.
The Holy Grail of writing is when your thought processes are at a peak and you have the time, the undisturbed, uninterrupted time, to transcribe your contemplations cohesively into your manuscript.
Finding this Holy Grail has been an elusive search for me over the last year or so, regarding the novel I am currently working on.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking of writer’s block, that is something I do not suffer. It is also nothing to do with finding the time; I have written and published three books in the past year and I am working on three more as I write this.
I am speaking purely of the mental alignment of skills, mindset and time when in search of perfection. (Although we shall never attain such it is always good to have it as a goal.)
I should have published my story, ‘FLOYD‘ several months ago but I am still working on it in short dribs and drabs. I never seem to have the right mental disposition and the amount of time I need together; hence the book is half drafted and half a jumble of odd notes, part paragraphs/chapters and such.
By the way, I am not downhearted and this is not me moaning, although it may sound that way! It is just me clearing my head by sharing my frustration with you.
It is, however, a frustration I bought upon myself by having several projects on the go at once… and then tasking myself with more. Which makes it even more frustrating.
I doubt if I shall find much time to continue writing FLOYD before December… oh wait, then there is Christmas and family, followed by New Year and Friends… so, maybe I can continue in earnest come mid-January, or maybe February or…
In the meantime, I would love to know your views on this (first draft) excerpt from FLOYD. It is (at the moment) the start of the opening chapter, or at least somewhere very early in the story, as it sets the scene, a sort of preamble to introduce Floyd himself and the background of his, let’s say, delusions and future actions.
Oh, FLOYD is a revenge story, in the blood-bath slasher genre. It is not for the queasy… although this section does not contain any of the gore… that comes a little later, but it comes in big bucketfuls. 😊
FLOYD – an excerpt.
Floyd jumped out of bed with a start, uncontrollably staggering two steps backwards. In that half-awaking instant, Floyd saw his wife, Molly, lying with her hands above her head, wrists bound and fastened. Pools of blood soaking into pristine white bedsheets. The fear in her eyes sent shivers running down his spine and a cold sweat to form over his skin.
This dream happened every night for the past four weeks. But tonight, was the first time he saw anything in full colour. The other times it was blurry monochrome, or just a voice, a sweet, lilting voice whispering to him. Tonight, was different, it did not simply wake him but startled him into jumping from the bed. He could feel his heart pounding.
At first, Floyd thought the voice echoing in his head was nothing more than a remanence of a dream as he woke. He let it go. Tried to forget it. But the whispering came back night after night. First a giggle, then a sigh, which faintly smelt of spearmint, before turning into those softly spoken words. A voice so close he could feel lips brushing his ears as she spoke.
“Kill the bitch.”
“That’s the way.”
“Did you see the surprise on her face?”
Tonight, Floyd did not hear her voice; but he knew she was there, watching him. Smiling.
He blinked twice, shaking his head to clear the image from his mind.
Molly pushed the quilt away from her face exposing a tousled mess of blond hair. She half-opened one eye and, disgruntled, wearily mumbled, “What are you doing? It’s the middle of the night.”
Floyd slid back under the cover and snuggled close to Molly. It was a dream. It was just a dream he told himself as he shut his eyes. Her body was warm and comforting, but it could not dispel the dark foreboding lingering within his mind.
She groaned, slurred something unintelligible, turned, moving away from him. Floyd lay quietly on his back, willing sleep. Each time he began to drift off he was jerked awake by the vision of blood and the scent of spearmint. Sleep was fugitive.
At three-fifteen he carefully slid from under the covers, trying not to disturb Molly and crept downstairs. By six-thirty Floyd had drunk two pots of tea and re-read yesterday’s newspaper, twice.
When Molly eventually arose, he was grilling bacon for breakfast.
“I couldn’t sleep, so…” Floyd gesticulated towards the grill with the tongs in his hand.
Molly tore off some kitchen roll. “Put mine in here. I must dash, busy, busy day ahead. I’m not sure when I’ll be home.”
Floyd gave her a quick peck on the cheek as she headed for the door. With a half-hearted wave, she left, hooking the door closed with her foot. He watched from the window as she drove her Range Rover off the drive and along the street until she was out of sight. He felt a certain disappointment wash over him. He was hoping to talk to Molly at breakfast this morning about his recent feelings, his nagging doubts which were growing daily.
Floyd looked at the clock, six fifty-five. The house seemed exceedingly quiet; which, on consideration, was rather strange, because from three-fifteen this morning he sat alone, the only sound the rustling pages of the newspaper. The house was no quieter now than then but somehow the silence was louder.
Being alone in the house was something Floyd was becoming accustomed to. Since Molly moved companies she had become…become…now, what was the word…fixated? obsessed? with her job. When he commented on the amount of time she was spending working, Molly said it was a thing called ‘commitment’.
Whatever it was Floyd felt it was pushing them apart, an inexorable drifting kind of parting. One which was almost imperceptible day by day. But when he looked back over the months, the changes were there, noticeable, obvious, definite.
Molly generally ignored him now; she was always on the phone or laptop when she was not working late, or early, or both, or at the gym or the hair salon, or having her nails painted or legs waxed.
The main thing which irked Floyd most was none of this, not one little iota was for his benefit. It was all for her work. All those new suits, the blouses, the stockings and shoes.
Once, not so long ago, when Molly slid into a pair of stockings it was to tease him, to excite him. It was a signal sex was unquestionably on the agenda. Not any longer. It seems stockings were de rigueur in Molly’s new corporate world.
Several weeks back Floyd began wondering if she was having an affair. Maybe a seedy sexual liaison with someone from her company. He followed her one morning; sat the whole day outside her office building.
When she left the office in the evening, he followed her. She did not do anything other than visit the hair salon.
Which was a problem for Floyd.
Not that he wished for his wife to be having an affair, but because it left him with a dilemma. What changed between them? Why was Molly so distant? What, if anything had he done…or not done? These were unanswered questions; questions he wanted to broach this morning over those freshly grilled bacon sandwiches.
Floyd glanced at the clock again. Five minutes past seven. His first appointment was at nine-thirty, so he needed to leave the house around eight o’clock. As he threw his bathrobe onto the bed Floyd flashbacked to his dream: Molly spread-eagled, bound on the bed. Eyes staring in terror. He looked down at her.
He shivered. It was all too real, unlike any dream he experienced before.
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