Thursday, 26 September 2013

My Scilly Holiday - with photos

Tresco - The Isles of Scilly

I'm just back from a trip to Tresco in the Isles of Scilly with Mrs R. It's one of those places I'd never been but always wanted to visit, so when a friend with a timeshare told us they couldn't go this year, I promptly said, "Yes please!"

As you can see, I was very happy! :o)

We crossed to the islands by ship on the Scillonian III out of Penzance and the crossing was the roughest the crew had known all summer, which I thought was typical. Thanks to the long overnight drive to Cornwall though, we both pretty much slept through the relatively short voyage. During our week-long stay on Tresco the weather was mixed with just about everything thrown in, and it's left me wanting to return for more of those sunny days. It's a magical, peaceful place, whatever the weather, and it was perfect for working on the plot for my fourth Jefferson Tayte book.

The Great Pool as seen from our window.  No sea view, but a lovely alternative

Click to enlarge
It's no secret that as well as being an author, I'm a keen amateur photographer, and for this trip I bought a new lens to mount on my Canon 5D Mark III camera body - the ultra-wide-angle Canon 14mm f/2.8L II USM. I have to say that I'm very impressed with it and wanted to share some of my holiday snaps with you.  All the photos below were taken through this lens and you can see some of the locations on the map to the left. Click any image to see larger versions. Needless to say, I can't wait to go back and take some more - or just sit and watch the sea on those crowd free, white sand beaches again.

Ruin Beach, looking away from the beach restaurant

New Grimsby with the quay behind me

Low water at Old Grimsby, on the other side of the island

Sail boat at Old Grimsby with the Blockhouse on the right.

On the beach below the Blockhouse, facing Rushy Point

On the path to Tresco Abbey Gardens

Tresco Abbey ruin

Mrs R on the seabed between Tresco and Bryher.  The extra low tide is caused by an astrological event called syzygy (25 point Scrabble score), which occurs when the Sun, the Earth and the Moon are in alignment, making it possible to walk to the neighbouring island of Bryher for a limited time.  Very cool!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

I've signed with Amazon Publishing (Thomas & Mercer)


Just a little update to my previous post to say that I've now signed with Amazon Publishing. I woke up this morning, made a cup of tea and read over the contract again, and then I got all excited and signed it! So now it's official, and a few hours on I have to keep reminding myself that it's true. The three books in my Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mystery series will be re-published in April with Thomas & Mercer, with my new book coming out a couple of months after that, all being well.

Since this all came about, I've been  reflecting on not being an indie author any more and I'm feeling a bit melancholy about that, not least because of the journey I've had since I started out. Of course, I have Amazon to thank for giving me the opportunity to self publish for the Kindle in the first place and for a platform on which to build a readership. Since then, in part because of this and for their forward-thinking attitude, Amazon Publishing has been high on my list of publishers I would have liked to sign with.

Looking back to when I started out in 2005, it was always my dream to get a publishing deal, but on reflection I'm so glad it didn't just happen overnight when my agent first sent In the Blood out.  If it had, I know now that I would have missed out on so much.  Being an independent author for the last two years has taught me a great deal, and I've met so many fine people along the way, readers and writers alike, who are all very much a part of why I'm so excited today.  Because of my journey, I'm sure I'll always be an indie at heart.  It's a club that's open to all and I'm very proud of it.

Now, I'm really looking forward to finding out what the future holds for me and Jefferson Tayte.  I'm not exactly sure what happens next, but I expect I'll soon find out.  I have some forms to fill in with information about my existing books and we're going to be working on them to get them ready for April. I'm very pleased and excited about working with Amazon Publishing, who are by all accounts great people to work with, and I'm sure there will be more excitement to come.

A big thank you to everyone who has played a part in getting me here, whether you bought one of my books, wrote a review, recommended me or chatted with me on one of the forums.  I'll be sure to keep you posted as my journey continues.  And yes, Patti... You can put me down to buy the sandwiches at the next forum meeting. :o)

Friday, 6 September 2013

JT Book 4 update & the Amazon Publishing contract

Where I'm at with Jefferson Tayte book 4

Last week I finished the first draft of the past narrative I've been working on since early May. It was something of a milestone and I was glad to reach it, not least because at just over 45,000 words it represents almost half the journey towards getting the overall first draft finished, and because I can now reacquaint myself with my old friend Jefferson Tayte - I feel I can call him an old friend because although I only met him eight years ago, we've spent a great deal of time together since then, and I've kind of missed him this summer.

I'm coming to realise that I've not made things easy on myself when it comes to writing JT's genealogical adventures as most of the books contain not one, but two stories, which must be woven together within the context of the bigger story. If you include JT's own story, which is going to become more prominent, there are actually three stories being told. So I've set myself a bit of a challenge, but I like to think my books turn out all the better for it. The more you put in, the more get out.

Right now I'm plotting JT's part of the story and working out how he's going to make all those connections to the past, like which genealogical resources he's going to use and who he's going to talk to. I've allowed a few weeks for that and so far the plot is shaping up nicely. I have a long list of questions to answer, which grows and shrinks as some are resolved and others crop up. I only have one major question still open, but it's a show stopper because the story won't work at all if I can't answer it. But I've been here before. It's just another puzzle to be solved, and the more complicated and difficult it is to work out, the more rewarding it will be, both for me and for the story once I have the answers.  I expect to be doing very little else but writing when I start again - probably increasing my writing days to six or seven days a week until that first draft is finished, not least because very soon I'm going to have something new (for me) to work towards - a deadline.

The Amazon Publishing contract!

At the beginning of last week I received a draft copy of the publishing contract from Amazon Publishing. I didn't know what I expected it to look like as it's my first such contract, but I'd heard that Amazon's contracts were author friendly and I've read that other author's who signed up with Amazon Publishing actually helped to make them more friendly, so good on them and good on Amazon for listening and acting on what they had to say.  I found it very straightforward.  I went over it twice and Mrs R went over it. Everything was as I'd been informed it would be from the telephone conversations I'd had. So I agreed to the draft and I waited for the 'proper' DocuSign contract to arrive.  I'm very pleased to say that it arrived in my email inbox last night.

It all feels very official now. The time has come to strike the bell and bide the danger (see CS Lewis verse from earlier Amazon Publishing post). Hopefully there will be no danger, but this is the point of no return. I've had plenty of time to think about whether it's the right thing to do of course, but I'm still worried about losing control of the pricing and everything else I can currently do to help keep my books visible. My biggest concern is that the advertising I'm hoping for won't happen at the levels I'd like, or that there will be a short honeymoon period after which my books will rapidly fade into obscurity where few readers can find them - and I'll be left unable to do anything about it. At the same time though, I'm sure these are all healthy thoughts to be having. They mean I'm not going into this with my eyes closed. 

Signing with Amazon Publishing feels right to me, and in many ways it seems a very appropriate and natural progression of my journey as an author. I'm going to read the contract again today. Then I think I'm going to give myself the weekend just in case any last minute thoughts or doubts creep in - and to read over it again, and again, lol. I'm sure it's fine.  All being well I'm going to sign it on Monday morning.  Then I'll wait for the thunder to clap and for that huge 'Indianna Jones' rock ball to come rolling after me! No. That's not going to happen. It's going to be great. :o)