Archive for the ‘ Mark Williams on Books ’ Category

Trad Publishing: Sinking Ship? Or Phoenix that will Rise from the Ashes?

Way back in 2011 (anyone remember that long ago?) one of the more imaginative assertions of the grandees of indie spokes-folk was the suggestion that print was on its deathbed thanks to digital, that the Big Six publishers were going to the wall, and self-publishers would inherit the Earth.
Well, no question self-publishers have gone from strength to strength, and we all know how well the tiny minority at the top are doing.
But most of these are formerly trad-pubbed authors with an established brand built up over many years, and a backlist of titles they’ve re-acquired rights to.
All credit to them for seizing the opportunity and taking control of their careers. But let’s not for one second pretend this is something your average new author, starting out from scratch as a self-publisher, can hope to emulate.
Sure, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. And the same goes for the formerly trad-pubbed authors now going it alone to huge acclaim. It is precisely because they are exceptions that they are news worthy.
What I find increasingly bizarre is the advice they give out to new authors. Don’t even think about promotion until you have four or five titles out. Forget free and cheap strategies – “you indies have no business sense”. And best yet, aim to put out a new title every two weeks!
What planet are these people on?

***

I ran a post on MWi back in May of last year suggesting the doom-mongerers might be a bit premature with their predictions.

Back in 2009 there were two schools of thought. Either this “new” epublishing fad would die a death and paper would remain king (the experience of the newspaper industry being a classic example) or the Big 6 were finished.
As one leading pundit said in April 2009, the Big 6 were not even “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – they’re staying put and ordering more piña coladas and charging them to rooms that are already underwater.”
Two years on the Big 6 are most definitely still with us, and while there’s no question they are changing, there’s little sign that they are going under. Which will be a great disappointment to Konrath, but should be a big relief to the rest of us.
Paper sales are plummeting, giant bookselling chains like Borders are in liquidation, and Konrath and co. have already written the obituaries for the Big 6 and are there, spades in hand, digging their graves.
But I disagree. I simply cannot see the end for the Big 6 or for publishing.
Just the opposite in fact.

As I’ve said on MWi many times, big ships are hard to turn. But below deck there’s a frenzy of activity long before anything is seen on the surface. And once they do turn they soon pick up speed.
Almost another year on, and the ship has turned.

***

According to Calvin Reid at Publisher’s Weekly the Digital Book World conference has just wound up with some contrite statements by the trad publishers:

A panel featuring executives form S&S, Random House, Little Brown, HarperCollins and Perseus, spent the morning issuing mea culpas (and highlighting current and planned correctives) over past “paternalistic” practices in dealing with their authors. Indeed there was a fair amount of discussion about whether authors should be called “partners,” “customers,” or “clients,” in an era when veteran authors and even emerging writers have viable alternatives to the traditional publishing contract.

Some quotes to savour with your morning coffee.:

“Publishers must treat authors as equal partners,” said Little, Brown’s Michael Pietsch, “We are offering a service to authors,” as the panelists also emphasized that it’s not always clear to authors, just what publishers do for them. “If authors are confused about what we do, we need to make it clear,” said Random House’s Madeleine MacIntosh. Joe Mangan of Perseus agreed, “communication is the key.”

Okay, us indies can indulge a smile at this belated turn-around by the trad-publishers, in the certain knowledge the success of indie-publishing has forced this change of attitude.

But let’s also be clear what it means:

The Big Six aren’t going to the wall anytime soon. While they spent the first half of 2011 publicly denouncing ebooks, and the second easing up on the rhetoric, they were all the time busily investing in the new world of ebooks.

And as the quotes above show, they can and do learn, and can and do change. Too little, too late? I don’t think so.

***

In future posts I’ll be returning to just what this means for indie publishing, and why indie writers should welcome rather than rue the return of the Big Six.

But for today, a word from our sponsor.

In past posts elsewhere I discussed how ebooks would be transformed by sponsorship these coming years, and that advertising within ebooks could and would happen, and that it needn’t be a bad thing. The suggestion had a mixed response at the time, from horrified to gleeful, but most seemed curious as to how it might work.

In fact some writers are already making it pay for them. For example, Olivia Lennox writes across many subjects, and tendered a post on library-lending and piracy which she thought might interest MWi readers.

Like most bloggers, I’m always on the look-out for guests and new material, so when Olivia emailed offering me a guest post I was of course all ears. But unlike 99% of bloggers, Olivia is a professional freelance journalist. Having been down that road myself in a past life I know that freelance does not mean giving away articles for free. Far from it! Which got me asking why any professional writer would want to write an article for an unpaid blog like MWi. It turns out Olivia makes part of her living by writing sponsored articles.

And it transpires this is a fine example of what we might expect in the future with ebook sponsorship, so I’m presenting Olivia’s article in its entirety. Further discussion follows after you’ve read Olivia’s post.

Will Piracy Kill Public eBook Libraries?

With the announcement that Penguin has pulled all its new books from e-lending in libraries due to ambiguously labelled “security issues” with digital copies, it’s clear to see piracy has reared its ugly head and leads to the question of whether eBook lending is ever going to take off if publishers are so concerned with “security issues”.

According to the Library Journal publication, there has been a 185% increase of eBooks being offered in public libraries across the country and this is a clear step towards a new type of library lending. With Amazon signing up their Kindle to 11,000 public libraries, it’s clear that the eBook really is an alternative to the traditional paperback, even for library users. Digital editions in libraries are a fantastic development and have the added bonus of no worries about late fees as once the time period of loan is up, the book is simply removed from your device. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t curl up on your recliner sofa with your eReader just as easily as you could with a trusty old paperback.

However, with the Penguin group suspending all new eBooks from being made available to libraries in digital form and a complete ban on lending out eBooks to Amazon Kindle users; it is clear there’s a big underlying issue. The Penguin group cited “security concerns” as their reason for this action and this can only mean piracy. There has been no time frame given for the action so it could be a permanent decision although Penguin haven’t pulled their back catalog from the shelves, just new releases and of course, that complete unavailability for Amazon Kindle users.

Penguin aren’t the first publishing company to exercise caution when lending our their eBooks, in fact both Macmillan and Simon & Schuster have kept their entire catalog unavailable and HarperCollins have some very strict guidelines in place, with very stringent limitations on the number of times eBooks can be lent. With these publishers all considered high flyers in the industry, it’s a worry for eBook readers that they may not have access to some of the best books around.

What’s the problem with Amazon?

It seems Penguin have a problem with Amazon in particular, as they don’t like that library eBook lending is directly linked to Amazon. Across US libraries, the service used to lend Kindle eBooks is offered through OverDrive. Overdrive is an Ohio-based book lending company who provide services to over 10,000 schools and libraries in the USA and another 15,000 worldwide. In October, OverDrive began a deal with Amazon for lending eBooks to Kindle uses, promoting Kindle compatibility. As well as working with Kindle, OverDrive provide eBook lending in many other formats including those compatible with Apple and Android devices. Using OverDrive, users are about to loan DRM-protected eBooks which then expire when the lending period is up.

The problem with OverDrive and Kindle, is that the titles borrowed from their library appear in their Amazon.com Kindle account area and it’s from here the content can be delivered to your Kindle or Kindle app. This has irritated many publishers and a whole host of readers too as Amazon are seemingly acting as a storefront for all eBooks, whether you’ve used their site to purchase them or not.

The issue of eBook piracy

Publishers have voiced concerns regarding piracy and the digitalisation of books since their first creation and in fact, it’s very easy to see through multiple sites across the web that there are people out there offering thousands and thousands of eBooks for free via Torrent and other download sites. These sites sometimes even include books which have just been released, which is obviously to the detriment of the publishers. That being said, this has been an issue for music producers and record labels for decades now and so this isn’t really anything new, it’s just that the publishing industry is just being stung by it.

The issue of piracy and eBook lending is a bit more complex. There are many reasons that publishers may think lending increases the volume of piracy out there. Firstly, the number of different sources through which the digital content passes is a concern. Rather than being transferred from company to reader, a library eBook will pass through the library itself, an intermediary company such as OverDrive and then onto the reader, increasing the number of points at which it could be intercepted and copied. The second major area that concerns is to do with DRM protection. Unfortunately, there are tools readily available to remove this protection from eBooks and then they can be easily shared. With eBook lending, there is no purchase required so it only takes one talented hacker with a library card to slowly work their way through hundreds of books, making them readily available to download and keep for free.

eBook lending is a brilliant opportunity to spread the digitalisation of literature and books in general and is something that should be cherished not damned. Hopefully, publishers like Penguin will soon find a way to protect their content in such a way that means they are happy to make it readily available to all the digital bookworms out there.

Thanks, Olivia.

Piracy is of course the age-old excuse for inaction, and a nice little earner for those offering so-called anti-piracy services. But the fact is there are two types of pirates: The international pirates against whom we love to rant, though they cost us nothing, and the domestic pirates we prefer not to acknowledge, who actually cost us far, far more.

A reminder for now that most ebook piracy occurs in the USA, and that some of America’s biggest corporations profit from it daily and therefore have abolutely no reason to try prevent it. More on this in the near future here on MWi.

But back to sponsorship. The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the link to a sofa company hidden away in the text. Now I have no idea what the arrangement is between them and Olivia (I would stress MWi has no connection with the company and uses this purely for ilustrative purposes) but what is clear is that this is a very unobtrusive way of advertising.

It’s a short step from a link like this in an article to a similar link in an ebook. For those not interested, just ignore it and read on. But if the link is to a product or brand the MC of the novel is constantly using, or to a location or event, then easy to see the potential here to attract an advertiser’s interest. And their money.

All the moreso if you think about how easy it would be to run paid adverts in the back of your ebook. I stress in the back, so they dont interfere with the reading experience.

Yes, I can hear the purists muttering about how this would never have happened in print. About how this is the thin end of the wedge.

Of course these same people wil happily read comics, magazines and newspapers, listen to radio and watch TV chock full of advertising. Many a print book in the past has carried paid ads.  And almost every print book carries ads from its own publisher. So get real. It’s gonna happen whether you like it or not.

I’ll return to the ways in which writers might benefit fr0m these developments in future posts. But for now, ponder Olivia’s article and answer this question honestly: Did the sponsored link in the post in any way detract from the quality of the artcle or the point it was making?

 

 

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Ones To Watch 2012: Sarah Woodbury – the next Ellis Peters?

Okay, so I’m in historical mood just now. Another year has whizzed by, and we’re all another step closer to departing this mortal coil.  Which got me thinking about legacy.

When the day comes, who will remember us, apart from our loved ones? Most people toil through life, day by day, month by month, year by year, without ever leaving their mark beyond the immediate circle of family and friends.

It’s rather sad when you think about it.

Every job is important, whether we sweep roads, swipe barcodes at a supermarket till, drive a train, design tall buildings or perform life-saving surgery. Most work goes unappreciated by those who benefit. Who knows or cares about the person who sweeps their roads, takes their money at the till, or drives their train to work? Unless it’s an exceptional building, who knows the architect? Unless it was the brain of you or a loved one, who would know the surgeon?

If we have a pleasant train journey on Monday when Tina the Train Driver is at the wheel we don’t make a point of finding out which train she will be driving next, and booking a ride. When Brian the Brain Surgeon saevs our life we’re eternally grateful, but we don’t then try find out who he will be operating on next. Just the opposite. We hope we’ll never see him again. We don’t form appreciation societies or invite them on blogs for interviews.

But when we read  and enjoy a book something altogether different happens. We form a bond with that author. It may not be a personal one, but it’s a bond nonetheless. Harry Potter fans talk of JK Rowling as if she’s a personal friend. Stephen King fans will buy his next book simply because it says Stephen King on it.

And it’s not just living authors. Show me the Jane Austen enthusiast who does not know every detail of her life, or the Dickens fan who cannot tell you all about Victorian childhood tribulations, or the Shakespeare fan who has never heard of Anne Hathaway’s bed…

Through their books these writers have created their legacy.  Each one of us does the same when we put our works before the public. But in the new world of epublishing there is infinite shelfspace and no books will go out of print. Our legacy is assured, however great or small our success while we are alive to enjoy it.

***

This is turn got me thinking about history.

History writers expand the legacy of the past by making it accessible to the modern reader. In doing so they assume responsibility for imparting factual context amid fictional story. No easy thing to do.

Prue Batten has recently, and most kindly, handed me her manuscript of Gisborne to cast an editing eye over. With luck Gisborne will be out there on the e-shelves as part of Prue’s legacy next month.

But in reading Prue’s manuscript I am reminded that my own WIP on King John, seen through the eyes of his young wife Isabella of Angouleme, is languishing on my hard-drive still, with no chance of completion this year. What idiot decided to create days with only twenty-four hours in them?

Then yesterday I heard from our translator, who is sorting our Sugar & Spice into German (more on this next week on MWi), that Umberto Eco’s works were free as ebooks on Kobo over Christmas. Of course I rushed to Amazon, only to find no sign even of of Umberto Eco’s classic The Name Of the Rose in the Kindle store.

But by now I was in historic-obsessive mode. I checked out Robert Graves, of I, Claudius fame, only to find they were available, but ridiculously priced.

And so to Cadfael.

Hands up, who remembers Cadfael? I’d had Cadfael on my mind anyway, because Sarah Woodbury’s The Good Knight has been making steady progress in the e-charts. Sarah writes (among ther things) medieval mysteries set in Wales, and Ellis Peters’ wonderful series of Cadfael Chronicles, while actually set in Shrewsbury, England, was about a Welsh  monk turned sleuth. The books spawned the equally delightful Cadfael TV series.

Ellis Peters

For those outside the UK, Wales and England border one another. Shewsbury is an English town bordering Wales. Ellis Peters combined her love of Wales with her affection for her home town by bringing the Conwy-born fictional character Cadfael to the market town that was historic Shrewsbury.

Sarah Woodbury doesn’t live in Wales either. In fact she’s American, and in Oregon. Unlike the Cadfael series, Sarah’s books are actually set in Wales. And unlike Cadfael, Sarah Woodbury’s MC is female.

For much of history England and Wales have been uneasy neighbours, often at war. At the time Sarah’s book The Good Knight is set, Wales is not even united in itself, let alone with England as part of the modern United Kingdom. Life then was short and brutal, and of course the concept of gender equality quite unknown.

So for Sarah, sat at home in Oregon, USA, to write a medieval mystery set in Wales, with a women sleuth running rings around the menfolk, was either madness or a stroke of genius.

My money is on genius. This is Cadfael for the twenty-first century, set in the twelfth.

My prediction, here in writing on MWi, is Sarah Woodbury is going to be the next Ellis Peters. With a range of novels from YA to historic magical fantasy to historic detective, and using her impressive research to bring to life past times and locations, I’m very confident Sarah is going to be one of the indie stars of 2012.

Sarah Woodbury

Here’s Sarah:

A Woman Detective in Medieval Wales?

It is a stereotype that women in the Middle Ages had two career options: mother or holy woman, with prostitute or chattel filling in the gaps between those two. Whether we like it or not, for the most part this stereotype is accurate and the status and role of women in that era revolved around these categories.

This is one reason that when an author sets fiction in this time, it is difficult to write a self-actualized female character who has any kind of autonomy or authority over her own life. Thus, it is common practice to make fictional characters either healers of some sort (thus opening up a whole array of narrative possibilities for travel and interaction with interesting people) or to focus on high status women. Such women may or may not actually have had more autonomy, but their lives didn’t consist of drudgery and child care from morning until night.

This is not to say that men in the Middle Ages weren’t equally restricted in their ‘careers’. A serf is a serf after all, of whatever gender. Men as a whole, however, did have control of women, of finances, of government, and of the Church, and thus organized and ruled the world. Literally.

There are obvious exceptions—Eleanor of Aquitaine, anyone?—but women such as she were one out of thousands upon thousands who were born, worked, and died within five miles of their home.

At the same time, within Celtic culture, women had the possibility of greater personal autonomy. In Ireland, where the Roman Church had less influence, women had a viable place both within the Druid religion and within the Celtic/Irish Church. Wales, too, was less subject to the restrictions of the Church. There, women had a higher status than in Christendom as a whole, including the right to divorce her husband and societal acceptance of illegitimate children.

The Laws of Women (part of the Laws of Hywel Dda) included rules that governed marriage and the division of property if a married couple should separate. Women usually married through contract, but elopement was allowed, with the provision that if the relationship lasted seven years, a woman had the same entitlements as if she’d been given to her husband by her kin.

The Good Knight is the story a young woman, Gwen, who investigates the murder of a King of Wales. She’s a bard’s daughter, which gives her mobility, ambiguity in terms of social status, and an autonomy that any good detective needs. Gwen’s sleuthing takes her from Wales to Dublin and back again, and earns her the trust and confidence of high and low alike.

The Good Knight (A Medieval Mystery)

Intrigue, suspicion, and rivalry among the royal princes casts a shadow on the court of Owain, king of north Wales…
The year is 1143 and King Owain seeks to unite his daughter in marriage with an allied king. But when the groom is murdered on the way to his wedding, the bride’s brother tasks his two best detectives—Gareth, a knight, and Gwen, the daughter of the court bard—with bringing the killer to justice.
And once blame for the murder falls on Gareth himself, Gwen must continue her search for the truth alone, finding unlikely allies in foreign lands, and ultimately uncovering a conspiracy that will shake the political foundations of Wales.*

Links:

My web page: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/
My Twitter code is: http://twitter.com/#!/SarahWoodbury
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahwoodburybooks

The Good Knight is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk

There wasn’t supposed to be a post this Sunday, but loss of power meant I couldn’t run this yesterday, nor follow up as I usually do. But Sarah will be back here next week with some posts about medieval life, and to show why historic fiction is so popular.

Sarah also writes YA, and her book Daughter Of Time is available free on some platforms.

So, no question, Sarah Woodbury’s legacy is assured.

What will be your legacy?

Wednesday Review – The Time Baroness by Georgina Young-Ellis

You’d think, it being Christmas week, that our MWiDP Reviewer in Residence Gerry McCullough would be taking a break, but not  a bit of it.  In the early hours of Christmas Day morning she was hammering at my door with the latest review in her hands, and what a Christmas present that turned out to be! Talk about “just what I always wanted”!

Well, some of that’s true. I haven’t had a chance to read The Time Baroness myself yet, but as a big Jane Austen fan it’s been sitting on my Kindle taunting me a while now, and I’m really looking forward to it. Especially having seen what Gerry has to say about it.

As I’m nearly running late with this post I’ll hand over to Gerry now to avoid further delay. Here’s Gerry.

 

The Time Baroness by Georgina Young-Ellis

 reviewed by Gerry McCullough

 

Calling all Jane Austin fans!

(Of whom, I may say, I consider myself one of the most serious.) I first read Pride and Prejudice at the age of nine, borrowing my sister’s copy and reading it in bed at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve read it since then, but enough to make it essential for me to take a break at three or four different times, and stop rereading it for a good number of years, until it became less over familiar. And, of course, I’ve read all the other books, plus her juvenilia and unfinished and unpublished works, her letters, and many different Lives, as well as seeing numerous films, stage plays, and TV adaptations.

So when I first read some of The Time Baroness on Authonomy, my interest was sparked straightaway. And now, reading the whole, and much edited, book, I’m really impressed.

Georgina Young-Ellis has written an amazing story, half historical fiction and half science fiction. Unusual or what?

Cassandra Franklin, to give her the name the heroine uses throughout the book, has always dreamt of living in Jane Austin’s time, of experiencing what it was really like to be alive in the period of the Regency in the early 19th century in England.  Something lots of Jane Austin fans would love to do, no doubt. But for Cassandra, because she lives in 2120, when time travel has become a reality, the dream can actually come true. And so, with Cassandra, we step through the portal, and emerge into the dark evening streets of London in January 1820, just round the corner from The White Hart – and the story begins.

Georgina Young-Ellis has achieved two very different things here. Both, I would imagine, equally hard, and both requiring considerable research.  The first is to make the ‘scientific’ part of the book believable. I’m no scientist, but it seems to me that she has managed this really well, especially in the later part of the book where Cassandra returns temporarily to 2120 to gather up equipment for a very important jailbreak.  The various new technological achievements available to her are described realistically and in a way which rings true. We feel that possibly in another hundred years or so at least some of these tools may have been invented.

The second is to make Cassandra’s time in 1820 as accurate as possible. Here, I would claim a little more expertise; and although possibly not quite everything is exactly right, so much of it certainly is that the reader is happy to sink into the life of the period and simply enjoy being there.

Not only is the book set in the Regency (by Cassandra’s deliberate choice, three years after Jane Austen’s death – she can’t risk disrupting any of the writer’s life by impinging on it, and possibly spoiling something which she has written by changing Austen’s experience) – but the plot is also very much of Jane Austen’s type.

There are only a few pieces of fast moving action, although those are gripping. Otherwise the action moves fairly slowly, and is mainly character based. Cassandra’s first meeting with Benedict Johnston manages to send prickles up the reader’s spine. This is clearly going to lead to something. Their relationship is beautifully developed, and for most of the rest of the book we are aware of the difficulties as Benedict himself can’t be, and as Cassandra of course is; and we are left constantly wondering how this can possibly be resolved in any way which will feel satisfactory. 

Enough to say that Georgina Young-Ellis resolves the problem unexpectedly and successfully, leaving us happy with the outcome. And moreover when we look back we can see that the seeds for this development were cunningly planted in various ways from the start of Cassandra’s adventure, and in the fact that she left out an important part of her pre-arranged story when telling Benedict why she had left America, and that therefore the subject of slavery was not, in fact, discussed between them at an earlier stage. For if it had been so discussed, before their relationship had moved so far, the outcome might have been very different.

The major characters, especially Cassandra, are well drawn, easy to relate to and full of life. They develop as we get to know them through the various scenes and conversations. The minor characters also (and the book is full of them) come to life easily, and Lady Charles in particular shows her true character more and more as the book goes on. Interestingly, Cassandra is fairer in her view of this lady than we, as readers, feel like being, and rightly gives her credit for seeing the truth, when as readers we simply want to say, ‘What a horrible woman!’

The scene where Cassandra helps a farmer’s wife, the local ‘midwife,’ with a birth, is particularly well done. This, of course, is not something which Jane Austin would have written about, but the experience brings us, and Cassandra, closer to the realities of life for the ordinary woman at that time than anything else we are shown.  The tragedy and the realism of how she deals with the problems of the birth, taking place without the help of modern medicine, are both moving and enlightening.

The brief meeting between Cassandra and Jane Austen’s sister, also called Cassandra, is another strikingly well done scene. It makes us remember, with a shock, that Cassandra Franklin doesn’t belong to this time, for after nearly a year of living her life with her as an early 19th century woman we, like Cassandra, have almost forgotten that this is not her normal environment.

If you like Jane Austen (or even if you don’t particularly, but do enjoy time travel) this is a book you shouldn’t miss. Original, expertly done, fascinating – and thoroughly recommended.

Gerry blogs regularly over at Gerry’s Books. And if you like her reviewing style you’ll love her books.

Her debut novel Belfast Girls is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Her latest novel Danger Danger is of course also available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

If you’re reading this Wednesday evening GMT then no links working and not many images. Sorry! Disrupted net service all day and I’m rushing this through now to meet my Wednesday deadline, with a net speed that makes dial-up look like warp-speed. So the links will be updated asap. Or if you’re desperate to buy The Time Baroness just use the serach engine in your preferred ebook store.

I’ll just end by saying I never had the pleasure of reading Austen for pleasure until rather late in life. Sadly I was first introduced to Austen through a very incompetent English teacher who put most of the class off the classics for life, so I’m deeply envious of Gerry first discovering Austen at nine.

Though I’m not sure I would have appreciated the finer points of Pride and Prejudice as a nine year old boy, so maybe that was for the best. Although I did read Little Women at about that age, so maybe I would have.  Who knows…

But in the spirit of time travel and Austen, why not go back in time to when you first discovered Jane Austen and tell us all about it in the comments.

 

Covering For Mark Williams Part 4 – by Athanasios

More shoes on covers? There’s no escape, it seems.

Danielle Blanchard Benson is another MWiDP author who has been lucky enough to grab the inesteemable Athanasios for her cover-designer. Check out Athanasios’s Covers For Hire site (link below) to see the scrumptious covers he delivered for Danielle.

But for today it’s another look at the darker side of Athanasios’s work, as he rounds of his four part series on cver design with, rather appropriately, part four.

Here’s Athanasios.

Covering for Mark Williams – IV

In the three last posts I went on about how some of the indie book covers I’ve created came about. My primary focus, however, is promoting and plugging my Occult/Horror Thriller Series, Predatory Ethics. Thus far Predatory Ethics has two installments, Book I: Mad Gods, Book II: Commitment.

After finishing Commitment, the sequel to Mad Gods I needed an editor. A notion came to me: why can’t I offer someone at IWU or IWI a cover for their editing services. I posted this and was contacted by a few people and settled on JA Beard. I had already exchanged posts and messages on facebook with JA since we became facebook friends in early September. I sent off my .doc and he told me what he wanted his Mind Crafter cover to be. I did my usual Google research, found reference images and put them into the mockUP I sent him.

We then tried a few font choices and settled on the last version shown here.

The following is an encapsulation of the email exchanges:
JA:
My book is a slightly Asian-tinged fantasy. I say ‘Asian-tinged’ because though it’s a second world fantasy, the setting is influenced in many ways by Tang-era China.
Pitch blurb:

Title: Mind Crafter
Author on cover: J.A. Beard

I was planning on something slightly more abstract. I wanted a lotus because it fits in with the general cultural background of my story, thematic resonance, and all that, stylized portion is a bit more eye catching, kind of somewhat fits in with certain nightmare ideas as well, even if it isn’t a literal thing from a scene) It dominates the image with those elements arranged in front or around it or something.

I’ve attached some of the elements I want you to use.
ME:
I went ahead did the mockUP and sent it to him.

JA:
We’re basically 95% there. Great.

The background, in particular, is very excellent. I’m actually kind of wondering if despite what I said, going a bit more East Asian in the font would actually be better. I was also thinking another dagger. I know the angle is different, so maybe you’ll have to adjust the angle or whatever. Final is the last version in

Following another week and another post Justin Kemppainen contacted me for his book Haven. He wanted a cover to the sequel and to revamp the current Haven cover. His reasoning was to have continuity between Exodus and Haven his original release. The title change was Fall of Haven with the first installment being the original Haven re-titled, Fall of Haven I: Uprising and the sequel Fall of Haven II: Exodus. He gave me his description and examples and I found them with Google. The final of are all here.

JUSTIN:
The first requires text alteration but keep the same image and idea, receiving a bit of polish so that things like the text are actually visible.

The second is a new cover based upon Haven. The concept image for the second cover (Exodus) is attached as well with notable differences:

– The character has his face concealed by scarves and shadows.
– No wings or feathers
– Wide-brimmed hat should not be pointy.
– Eyes should glow probably blue or silver.

ME:
I think I get the gist of what you want from your emails. The first should just be a punching up of your earlier work with the same background image but with a more vibrant and eye catching text that will be able to carry across to your intended sequel, as to give the series some cohesive look.

JUSTIN:
I like the fonts and colors for each element of text, but it could get a bit bigger for sake of readability. I like the style and arrangement of the book and series title, I just think it could get a bit more size.

– The added color and contrast looks really nice. I’m guessing it’ll see tweaking.

Other than that, I think it’s looking quite good so far. Looking forward to seeing it refined.

If I were to list the reasons I have any affinity or facility in making covers, writing or anything creative, I would list the retention of unrelated and pointless knowledge coupled with an open mind. I cannot explain or describe why, how, or what I remember but at times I bring it unwittingly back and can use it to spark something for a visual, a plot or an idea in one of my stories or covers. This is very useful in my day job and my side projects.

Many call it being artistic or letting creativity blossom but I don’t put that much though into it. If I did it would lessen and somehow impede it. So I tell those people to stop with all that artsy-fartsy crap and just plain enjoy something that connects with you.

I can guess and call it intuition or instinct but that’s only a guess. I just know when I have found a great idea or notion. I know it for my own Predatory Ethics, their covers and any other cover I’m commissioned to do.

As a parting bit of fun I’ve included the three latest covers I’ve finished for upcoming and existing indie books.

I’m always willing to help with indie authors with their covers. More examples of my work are @: Covers For Hire or email me @: mad-gods@videtron.ca
Athanasios’s webpage is
http://www.mad-gods.com

Athanasios’s Covers For Hire page is
http://www.mad-gods.com/coverHIRE.html

Mad Gods buy pages are
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004QOA768 & https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/48579

Commitment buy pages are
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006098CSC & https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/99372

Thank you, Athanasios.

With our new site almost ready to go live we’ll be giving our various designers, formaters, editors, technicians, etc, their own permanet pages where you’l have a one-stop shop for indie resources. That’s coming very soon.

Launching the new year here on MWi we’ll have the one and only Christine deMaio-Rice here next Tuesday, looking at some of the covers she’s been doing, and following Christine will be our S&S and Rose Red cover designer Jeroen, and also Anne R. Allen’s cover designer Laura Morrigan.

But the aim is to give writers as much choice as possible, not limit your choices, so to all you other MWiDP authors out there please let your other cover designers know there will be a spot here to share their wares. And of course for any other resource providers, like editors, proof readers, etc.

That, after all, is the point behind MWiDP – to bring authors together to share resources, share ideas and maybe even share the writing burden.

Christine, for example, has recently done some fantastic new covers for Sarah Woodbury’s historic fantasies.  We have Sarah appearing here on MWi in the very near future, and we’ll be showing off those new covers alongside.

MWiDP author Karin Cox is also editor to Cheryl Shireman, among others (not least David Gaughran). We hope to have Karin here to tell us more aout her editing services shortly, and take a look at some of her poetery while we’re at it.

As for the ultimate sharing that is co-writing… Regulars will know Saffi and I not only write together, but we’ve already teamed up with the two fantastic teen writers Miriam and Charley for our new YA series St. Mallory’s. On top of that we’ve also teamed up with our tech expert Elizabath Ann West to write our new chicklit mystery series China Town, and have a co-write planned with Beyond Nostalgia author Tom Winton.

And of course we also have the anthology series, with Saffina Desforges Presents Volume 2 due out to kick-start 2012.

Just to add here that Saffina Desforges Presents Vol 1: The Kindle Coffee-Break Collection is currently free on Amazon as part of a Christmas promo, and is ranking #1 in the free anthologies category.

And speaking of freebies, Anne R. Allen’s The Gatsby Game is also free for Christmas on Amazon.

And so is Cheryl Shireman’s wonderful You Don’t Need A Prince.

I leave you with Cheryl’s cover, which isn’t an Athanasios cover, but is one of my all time favorite indie covers. Even if it does include a shoe!

 

 

This Is Why Men Hate Fashion – Christine DeMaio-Rice

So what is it about women and shoes?

It would never, ever occur to me to put a shoe on the cover of a book.

I mean, shoes are what feet go into. And feet are at the other end of the body for a good reason. Bunions, blisters and broken toe-nails, ripe cheese aromas and crispy socks that can stand up on their own. Or is that just me?

Anne R. Allen has two cover artists working on her Camilla Randall Mysteries series. Though there was no exchange between the two designers they both came up with shoes…

Christine DeMaio-Rice designs her own covers (more on this next month). The big image above is a fine example of her work. And, of course, there’s a shoe in it.

Okay, it’s a book about the fashion industry. But even so… Why a shoe? Somebody explain to this ageing male brain what’s going on?!

Saffi and I have teamed up with Elizabeth Ann West to write our new China Town rom-com mystery series (Narcissus Nights due out early 2012!) and I can see already that even if there’s not a shoe mentioned anywhere (admittedly improbable, with two female co-writers dictating the storyline) there will somehow be a shoe or two on the cover. 😐

Just to add here for anyone keeping count that the China Town series will be after the first of the St. Mallory’s YA series we’re co-writing with the fantabulous teens Miriam and Charley.  So far I’ve been lucky and not seen any sign of any shoe obsessions in St. Mall’s. Are teenagers immune to such things? At what age does a girl stop wearing shoes as footwear and start wearing them as fashion accessories?

Of course, I could have asked fashion-industry insider Christine, when I invited her on to MWi to talk about Dead Is The New Black, the first of her Fashion Avenue Mystery series.

Btw, how irresistable is that title?! So irresistable, in fact, you’ll probably be wanting to head off and buy it before you read any further. You can find it on amazon.com here and on amazon.co.uk here.

I asked Christine not to mention the book and do a post on fashion instead. With plenty of images, I added.

Yeah, I was angling for an excuse to run a post with lots of pics of scantily clad top totty. But Christine saw right through me, and wrote a post on men in t-shirts instead. Cruel, or what?!

Here’s Christine.

This Is Why Men Hate Fashion

 

I’ll send three mental images your way.

1) A man slouches on a couch outside dressing rooms, waiting for his girlfriend to exit. He looks like he’d rather be dead, or chewing razor blades, or simply watching football.
2) A man in a suit, outside the bathroom. His wife exits wearing something either obscene or absurd, twirls around and says, “how do I look?” The man in question doesn’t have to answer. We know he’s in trouble.
3) A man stands stock still as a woman dresses him in something ridiculous while she squeals about how fabulous he looks.

These are all a beer commercial waiting to happen, and we have bought them in their entirety. I hate beer commercials because they play on gender stereotypes and expectations. This is a huge injustice to men everywhere, and it’s the reason most of the men in America dress like laundry sacks.

Worse, runway shows specialize in making men look like slim, asexual fourteen year-olds, while men’s magazines mention clothing as an afterthought to the barely-dressed women on the cover. The backlash is not only understandable, it’s should be expected. Fashion has been marketed as a “girl’s thing” and sports as a “boy’s thing,” and like normal human beings we follow along.

I know, you’re saying you’re different. Fine. You’re different. Are all the men in your life like you? (If you’re gay, and all your friends are gay, please don’t answer. Gay men get this right already. We need to bring the straight boys along with us, gentlemen).

So I want you all to choose a t-shirt. Go on the internet or look in a catalog with the intention of buying a nice t-shirt. I know what you’re saying. “I wear t-shirts in the yard or to hang out with my buddies I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a t-shirt.” What I’d say to that is, a t-shirt can change the way you look, and you don’t have to change t-shirts for the yard, but it’s you’re leaving the house at all, you can affect an enormous difference by not looking like a sack of crap.

First. Ladies. If you’re in on this process, stop squealing. Do not squee. Do not fawn. Do not seduce. At the first sign of any feminine behavior, you will lose his interest. This is borderline clinical. Act like a surgeon over an open heart.

Second. Gentlemen. That little twisty part of yourself that associates looking good with being less manly? Take charge of it. Go with me here. It won’t hurt, I promise.

I want to start by showing you what a t-shirt should NOT look like. I mean it’s so bad the model looks like he’s cringing.

Why is this so bad, you ask.
Why, indeed.

Look at those sleeves. He looks like a slight breeze will send him flying away. There’s a good four inches of excess fabric in there. This is bad. Worse, the outsleeves are hiking. The outsleeves are the outer edge, on the sleeve fold. Do you see how the sleeve opening angles down in toward the body? This is a no-no, and it’s making him look like a big trapezoid.

Now I’d like to direct you to the placement of the shoulders. They’re way down on his arm! Which, honestly, would be just fine if the sleeves weren’t flappy-dappy.

Which brings us to the biggest problem. Because the sleeve balance is something easy to see and obvious. But the less obvious problem is proportional. The chest fits really nicely, and when you buy something online, it’s the chest you’re buying against. You look at the chest measurements and you compare to your body measurements, and there you go! A chest that fits with these big stupid sleeves. And that’s why you need the big, shoulders, to make these two pieces to the puzzle fit together. If the shoulders were the correct size to the proportion of the chest, they’d be narrower.

But he’s wearing two different t-shirts. One fits (the chest) and one doesn’t (the sleeves).

So, why is it this way?

Part of the reason is that the customer’s gotten sloppy and doesn’t care (yes, I’m talking to you). The other reason is that those sleeves are easier to sew than sleeves that fit. In order to get the curve of the armhole to fit around the body, a bunch of cool easing and stretching techniques have to be used so there’s not four yards of fabric in the armpit. But if you make big shoulders and a straight-ish armhole, you can sew a million of them consistently and sell them for ten bucks each.

This is better. At least he doesn’t look like he’s going to fly away. The sleeve openings are level to the earth and the shoulders hit in the right place. And though the chest still fits, to be honest, the sleeves now look too small for the body, proportionally. And there are draglines on the sleeve (little vertical creases) caused by a poorly balanced sleeve cap. Fixing that is another whole order of patternmaking and sewing though, so you can ignore me.

This is the nicest-fitting t-shirt I’ve seen. The sleeves are tight, which makes it good for wearing a jacket or sweater over it, and the shoulders are just where they should be. The problem of course is that it’s generally too tight. It’s also short. You can see how high it’s falling on his crotch.

OK, so I went looking for a Guess tee, because they fit better than 90% of the men’s tees out there (disclaimer – I was employed by Guess and yes, worked on the men’s t-shirts). But this one is not good, and led me to something else I wanted to point out. When you buy a graphic tee that’s really soft and has these cool stitches and stuff, be aware they are beat to hell in the production process. Dyed, washed, printed, dyed and washed again. One medium likely won’t fit like the next medium. So you get one like this, that’s about an inch and a half too short, and the stitching on the sleeves didn’t shrink at the same rate as the rest of it – so you have these bizarre ruffle/wing things at the cuff.

OK, this one looks good. I mean I could pick it apart, but I know you guys don’t want to spend an hour in the dressing room, with your girlfriends sitting outside wishing they were watching football.

Askew images down to me I’m afraid. Still trying to blog one-handed…

I’m not going to say anything about Christine’s observation that most men in America dress like laundry sacks. As to my own fashion sense, I haven’t got any. But here in West Africa the fashion rule is simple: vibrant colours and walk tall.

In the New Year I’ll be finally beginning my West Africa blog Paradise Amid Poverty, on my life here in sub-Saharan Africa, and will be getting some great photos of the absolutely to-die-for everyday fashions that make West African women the envy of the world, and one of the key reasons I shall never leave.

Meanwhile, since Christine chose this blog to be illustrated with the male figure, I leave you with this parting image of how most men (Not me!) dress here.

T-Shirts Who needs them?

 

Capes, Calamities and Cry-Fests – Charley R. Reviews Marion G. Harmon’s “Wearing The Cape”.

One of the ways we are looking to improve the lot of our YA authors is to get their books out to reviewers who happen to be part of that reading group.  So with two teen authors on the MWi blogging schedule it was inevtable they’d be among the first to savour the delights of our YA offerings in exchange for some honest reviews.

I’m using my snakebite excuse to skip a proper intro again (Enjoy it while you can – I’ll be back to normal by the weekend!) so I’m just going to say,

Here’s Charley:

 

Capes, Calamities and Cry-Fests 

Charley R. reviews Marion G. Harmon’s

Wearing the Cape.

It took me a while to get my grubby wee paws on it but, thanks to the lovely Mark and his charitable desire to keep me from going mad by providing me with deliciously devourable literary material, I found myself curled up on my bed with the rain pounding on my windowsill on a rainy afternoon, happily ensconced in a very good book.

This book was Wearing the Cape, and I am not overdramatizing when I say it is probably one of the best Young Adult books I have had the fortune to read this year. For a start, it manages to put a wonderfully original spin on one of the oldest archetypes in the history of storylines – superheroes, in all their cape-swishing glory. Harmon has created a new, exciting, yet utterly believable world where superhuman abilities are as usual as getting up to brush your teeth in the morning. Not only that, but he manages to make sense of some of the stranger superhero customs – particularly those involving skimpy-looking outfits, which I found exceedingly amusing. Hey, even if you can flip tanks, you still want to look pretty at a party, right?
Even better is that there’s not an info-dump in sight – all the information is channelled gradually to the reader through the narrative. Though this leaves a couple of moments of confusion in the first chapter or so, it all comes together very smoothly in a short space of time, giving us the chance to focus on the plot, rather than trying to work out what the fruitcake an e-pad might be.

Speaking of the plot – Marvel, eat your heart out. Contrary to my initial worries of finding the over-ploughed plot of “take out big villain who wants to rule / destroy / redecorate the world for his own evil gains, then fly off into the sunset”, Wearing the Cape is actually very good plot-wise. It’s pacy and keeps going at a decent rate, but never compromises itself by moving too quickly and losing any of its sleek, smart humour. At the same time, it doesn’t drag too long on the philosophical or reflective moments – which are rather crucial in a story involving the supposed deaths of thousands in horrific disasters. What’s more, it’s not afraid to tell us that superheroes in the real world wouldn’t be half as perfect as it is in the comics. These heroes need attorneys, police statements, truly gruelling training, and they’re all more than aware of the necessity of good media coverage. My only nitpick with this realism is that, being set in America, there are a few phrases and customs that my poor British brain couldn’t quite comprehend.

And the plot’s not a single-direction Dobbin-the-rocking-horse affair either! The delicious twists, while I can’t say much about them without giving away huge spoilers, while not being mind-blowing, were certainly revelatory enough to make me want to happy-dance, gasp, cry and annihilate my pillow at regular intervals. Sometimes more than one at the same time. For such a brisk, well-to-do story, there are some surprisingly tragic happenings. Suffice to say, Harmon is an author who’s not afraid to show that even superheroes can suffer just like the rest of us.

However, as fantastic as this realism is, it’s the characters that, for me, made the story the little wonder it is. Our narrator, Astra, is one of the rare female characters who can pull off being a hero AND a convincing teenage girl without driving us to label her a wimpy cop-out or an overpowered (dare I say it…) Mary Sue. Astra is a very well-constructed character; she’s tough, she’s opinionated, she’ll stand up for what she believes in, but at the same time she has all the familiar insecurities of a real young woman, both romantic, appearance and esteem-related. As someone of the same gender and age-range as Astra, I found myself liking her simply because, for once, she was both someone to admire, and someone relatable – a breath of fresh air in a world of “average teenage girls” who are anything but.

And she’s not the only dazzling personality in the lineup – our “leading man” Atlas shines as a world-weary icon who, despite his “Mr Perfect” image, is beginning to wear down and crack after years of stressful crime-fighting, and the delightfully creepy and caustic Artemis is intriguing in the highest sense of the word. Even the minor characters have their own distinctive personalities, and I found myself liking them almost as much as the leads (I was head over heels for Blackstone in seconds, and still can’t decide whether I’d rather strangle or tackle-hug the arrogant but hilarious Seven). And, the cherry on the cake, we have … a complex villain! Le gasp! And, even better, the author doesn’t set us a shove-it-up-your-nose-because-I-think-you’re-a-thicko, he’s-a-bad-guy-so-you-must-hate-him situation either! In fact, I got rather attached to the Teatime Anarchist – though it was somewhat unnerved when I started to imagine him speaking with a British accent a-la-Queen-Liz.

And one last thing – there’s a cameo mention of one of my favourite bands in the whole entire world at The Fortress. I squee-d. All over the floor. Thank you, Marion G Harmon. You are awesome.

But enough of my sycophantic blithering: go forth and buy thyself a fantastic read! Realistic, heart-breaking, hilarious, thoughtful and stunningly crafted, Wearing the Cape should be on everyone’s reading list this Christmas.

As you can see, the British education system continues to produce illiterate, monosyllabic teenagers who can’t string a sentence together to save their lives.  🙂

But Charley R. doesn’t just write great reviews. She also writes great fiction. Not only is Charley, along with Miriam, co-writing with us on our new YA series St. Mallory’s, but she also has a short story in Volume 2 of the Saffina Desforges Presents anthology series, which might, if I can muster the finger power in one hand to get it all sorted, be live on Amazon this weekend. If not, some time next week for sure.

For those seduced by Charley’s homage to Wearing the Cape you’ll be pleased to know the book can be bought from amazon.com here and amazon.co.uk here. And you can find the sequels to Wearing the Cape alongside.

And the only one thing I didn’t agree with Charley on:  I’d never heard of  The Fortress, and am still none the wiser.

If you love superhero stories you need to read this book. If you hate superhero stories you really, really, really need to read this book. I loved it from the moment I first set eyes on it as an embryonic script on a peer review site at the beginning of the year. It’s one of the jewels in the indie-publishing crown.

As a kid it was my ambition to write for Marvel (or DC if  had to settle for second best), and up until this very year I’ve always had a yearning to write a superhero novel of my own some day.

Sadly that lifetime ambition evaporated in haze of shattered dreams when I read Wearing the Cape.

When the competition is this good there’s no point even trying to compete.

Review Wednesday – Gerry McCullough Discusses “Wendy and the Lost Boys” by Barbara Silkstone.

Another Wednesday, another review. But not just another book.

Today our resident reviewer Gerry McCullough is taking a look at the most recent book by America’s star indie-writer comedienne Barbara Silkstone.

Barbara’s Wendy and the Lost Boys is one of the finest examples of indie publishing I can think of, and has deservely enjoyed a huge surge in popularity in the US recently as word spreads about Babara’s multi-layered writing style and many-faceted humor.

But I’m in danger of pre-empting Gerry’s review if I say any more, so I’d best let the professionals take over.

Here’s Gerry.

I first came across Barbara Silkstone and her Fractured Fairytales a couple of years ago on Authonomy, when I was amused and impressed by the excerpt from her first book, The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters, which I read there. The title not only draws on Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice, but also links the book to the very funny Adrian Mole, Aged 13 and Three-Quarters which I read with joyful laughter when the series first came out, years ago.

Alice in Wonderland was probably one of the first real books I read, as opposed to picture books. (My little sister was awarded it as a Sunday School prize when she was a bit young to be able to read it, so I seized on it, read it from cover to cover, and still have very happy associations with it.) So Barbara’s book – what should I call it? A take off? A pastiche? Or perhaps a tribute? – delighted me. Her funny, feisty heroine Alice, reminiscent of Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum, was a real find, and the thriller plot was gripping and page turning.

And now, here comes another equally attractive thriller with a connection to a much loved children’s book, Wendy and the Lost Boys. Confession time – I’ve never actually read Peter Pan. (And why on earth not, you may well ask? I don’t really know!) But I first saw the Walt Disney cartoon at quite a young age and was enthralled by it. I’ve since watched it with my children and found myself still loving it. So Barbara’s new book held an immediate strong appeal for me.

Wendy Darlin, like Barbara Silkstone’s earlier heroine Alice Harte, is funny, feisty, and Stephanie Plum-like, but, unlike most of the very funny minor characters, she is a realistically drawn individual whom we connect to straightaway and for whom we find ourselves rooting throughout the book. Wendy is soft-hearted. She allows herself to be sucked into trouble with the terrible (but very amusing) villain Charlie Hook, captain of the Predator, a pirate ship in modern terms, purely because she can’t turn down the appeals for help from Marni. Wendy doesn’t even like Marni much, but she is the daughter of an old friend, and Wendy feels that she has to step in, and onto Hook’s yacht. So here she goes, plunging into a set of events which are hair raising, exciting, and laugh out loud funny; and meeting up with a set of characters whose idiosyncrasies make them by turns appealing, revolting, funny and terrifying.

Beginning with her husband Croc (Hook’s enemy – representing the crocodile in the original) and Roger Jolley (attractive apart from his brown wingtip shoes, but introducing himself as one of the dreaded SEC people) Wendy collects a number of strange and fascinating people around her. The weird array made up of Joseph, Mary, Annie, and Granddaddy Earl has to be read to be believed – if then! We are in a fantasy world, with people – at least the minor characters – who, like those of Alice in Wonderland, are caricatures, but still in some sense real and easy to relate to. But at the end of the day, it’s Wendy herself who sorts things out, solves the mysteries, and defeats the villain, while solving her own past hang-ups at the same time.

Barbara Silkstone has a real knack of not only naming her characters, but also of creating their idiosyncrasies, to fit in with her original. Wendy’s long lost boyfriend, Peter Payne, for instance, left her because he didn’t want to grow up and face the real world. But Silkstone shows us the dangerous side of this attitude, not just its attraction, unlike Barrie. And the secret of The Lost Boys, and whom they turn out to be, is both original and convincing.

If you like your thrillers to be fast moving, full of action, and with a surprise ending, this is for you. If you like your heroines warm hearted, brave, with a desire for justice but with occasional foolhardiness, this is for you. If you like a writer to be witty, skilful with words, and able to throw in the odd touch of enchantment in her descriptive passages, this is for you. (Mind you, you need to be happy with a fair bit of humour of the type not suitable for the original audience of Peter Pan or Alice, such as the recurring joke about Hook’s UpUGo, which I won’t spoil for you.) And if you like an ongoing touch of romance for your heroine, with various candidates for her affections, and a bit of a mystery as to whom she’ll end up with, resolved beautifully at the end, this also is for you.

Sound like your type of book? Wendy and the Lost Boys is definitely mine!

Thanks, Gerry.

I know you’re all dying to rush off and buy this, so let’s just add here that Wendy and the Lost Boys can be found on amazon.com here and amazon.co.uk here.

If Gerry has also tempted you to buy Barbara’s other book, you”ll find Barbara’s Alice on amazon.com here and on amazon.co.uk here. For Barbara’s  The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men and One Woman you’ll need to go to amazon.com here and amazon.co.uk here.

You can find Barbara’s blog here.

*

Rather appropriately I read Wendy and the Lost Boys while stranded on a sandbank on a ferry on the River Gambia, being watched by hungry barracuda and bemused dolpins. Not to mention the mystified expressions of my fellow strandees, wondering what I found so amusing staring at this strange sheet of plastic in my hands, while everyone else was wndering if we would get home for dinner or end up as the barracuda’s dinner. Which just made the book all the more enjoyable.

Now you’re probably thinking, if I loved this book so much why didn’t I write the review myself. Well, I did put  a review on Amazon. here’s what I had to say:

This was just so much fun!

Right from the first page this story grabs your attention with laugh-out-loud one-liners that make it an embarrassment to read in public. But there’s much more than just comedy here. There is an intellectual underlay and a sharp, concise writing syle that sets this quite apart from the many other satirical / allegorical takes on the classics.

Without giving anything away, let’s just say I am in awe of the Lost Boys and the shadow problem, which a lesser writer might have reduced to farce, but here simply left me in awe.

From Barbara’s other books I had high hopes for Wendy & The Lost Boys, but this is easily the jewel in the Silkstone crown.

But be warned, this is not a book for children. This is the book where Peter Pan grows up. As does Hook, in a way JM Barrie might just have approved.

Highly recommended!

You can see why I leave the reviews to Gerry!

Next week here on MWi’s Review Wednesday it will be Charley Roberts’ turn to deliver the verdict, and on trial will be Marion G. Harmon’s superhero sensation Wearing the Cape.

For those unfamiliar, Gerry is the author of the highly-acclaimed Belfast Girls, which has had a great reception in the US and UK as well as Gerry’s homeland in Northern Ireland. Belfast Girls is available from amazon.com amd amazon.co.uk.

Gerry latest book is called Danger Danger. Available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

Gerry blogs regularly here.

*

Tomorrow will be the official announcement if the release of Anne R. Allen’s latest book, Sherwood Ltd. If you like the sound of Wendy and the Lost Boys you’ll love Sherwood Ltd. Pop by by tomorrow to find out why.

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