Saturday, May 20, 2017

The cost of being an Author

No, folks, we aren't all rich. That's one myth demolished. And no, I don't do this as a hobby. That's number two shot down. And three - we don't all swan off to lunches with publishers and hire picture perfect cottages to commune with our muses - er, WHAT muses?

There are some authors who are lucky enough to have an independent income (or their husband's) to support them. They don't have to conform to the pressures of the industry. There are some who have taken the wild leap into Indie Publishing, or self publishing, as it used to be called. Those who have done it properly, with proper editors, cover designers etc I admire tremendously. I haven't got the energy. And those of us with old fashioned traditional publishers are not taken to lunch once a month, or given publishing parties. No, we flail around working out which industry do will be most worthwhile. That is, if we can afford to go.

Parties and conferences can be great fun - ARE great fun. But they're expensive. And if you're a traditional author who relies solely on the income from his/her books, they are frequently out of reach. It isn't just the cost of the event itself, it's the travel costs and - ahem - the drink.

Please understand I'm not complaining and/or whining. I consider myself extremely lucky, as I said in my last blog post, to be supported by my books, but as one after another friend in the business asks me if I'm coming to this or that function and I say no, I felt I should explain. I'm not going on the annual jaunt to Turkey either, because if ever I do manage to accrue a spare £1000 it will have to go on a new laptop. I can feed and house myself, the cats, occasional boomerang offspring and the odd guest. I can run a car and wifi. But that's it. Much like anyone else working below the minimum wage - or maybe a bit better because I don't have a mortgage.

As I said, I'm not moaning. Just remember that I'm an ordinary member of society doing a job. As I say boringly, when people ask,  "Well, it's better than stacking shelves at the supermarket."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Reflections... of a sort. news

As I lie here on my bed of pain (stomach upset has joined the cold. Oh joy) I have been reflecting on the most important person in my life - after the children and the cats, of course. She paid for the conservatory and the gazebo, pays the bills and keeps me in alcohol. Although the glory days have passed, when we all made quite a bit more money than we were used to due to the uprush of ebooks, she's still keeping us afloat. And I STILL haven't the faintest idea how she does it. For a woman who came into existence on a drive through the Kent countryside to pick up (or possibly having delivered) a daughter to friends, it's quite an achievement. I suppose it was my lucky day. And apart from her, bless her little cotton socks, there are all those people (some of you, I know) who are the real heroes. Who buy, or borrow from the library, her adventures. I'm sorry if this sounds impossibly twee, but it honestly did just pop into my mind as I was typing my last Facebook post on the future books. And I realised just what a huge part of my life she's become - far more than a lot - er - real people. Go on, someone's going to say "What? She isn't real?"

So, as you heard a couple of weeks ago, LIbby 18, Murder By the Barrel will be out on October 5th, and our Publishing Supremo at Accent Press has just told me that Libby 19 is scheduled for June next year. So Libby rides to fight another that the right quotation? 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ups and downs by the barrel...

It's April. Since my last post I've had a birthday and a Mother's Day. I've also done a blog tour - the most successful I've ever done, organised by JB Johnston, aka Debbie, on her Brook Cottage Books blog. If you want to read any of them, here's the link to the home page Blog Tour. I shall most definitely be using Debbie again.

Also, my talented web-designer, Aimee of Author Design Studio, has managed to make the blog header match the revamped website header, so lots of people have been working madly on my behalf. Meanwhile, I've been struggling to get going with Libby 18, cover pic at the top of this post. It's due out in October, which, coincidentally, is just after hop-picking season. And hop picking started the whole saga off, so despite the struggle, mainly engendered by the months of ill health, I feel quite an affection for the little b*gger.

A definite down has been the verdict of the doctor, after three serious falls in five months, that I really must't go anywhere alone - at least not proper journeys. As son Leo is still living with me, he escorts me when I go out locally, but I've had to cancel my much anticipated retreat with six writer friends because I can't travel there.

This weekend, however, with temperatures of 25 degrees on Whitstable beach,
we had a visit from our family friends, the Knights. Tony and my late husband Brian met in their teens and began playing together. They formed, with another friend John Reed, The Jug Trust which eventually became Bronx Cheer. Tony's fiance, Caryl, became my closest friend and one of my bridesmaids, and we became co-Godparents to our respective children. The older children almost grew up together, and for years we shared most aspects of each others' lives. However, as is the way of things, we drifted apart a little, particularly after Brian died. Then two years ago, Caryl died. So it was a huge surprise when Tony phoned and asked if he, eldest son Robert and his children, Josh and Arabella, could come down to visit.

It was lovely to see them (they didn't stay with me - no room - but in a local B&B) and we spent Saturday on the beach, Saturday evening going for a meal and Sunday lunchtime in a pub. This involved a lot of walking, although Leo says it wasn't, it only seemed like it to me. Well, it did! I'm only just beginning to walk properly again! Anyway, I was shattered, however lovely it was to see them, but it really pointed up how different all our lives are now. We've got three mad musicians, one writer and one combination of the two, they've got a retired master carpenter and a prison governor. Gor blimey.

Next month sees Miles's birthday - no doubt in a pub - and WhitLit, at which I shall be appearing with my friend Alexandra Campbell on Sunday 14th.  If there's anything exciting to tell you about, I'll do another post.

à bientôt.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Almost back to normal!

Well - I'm back to working in the office - my messy, untidy office - and doing emails etc on the laptop in the kitchen in the mornings. It's such a relief to be back to normal, I can't tell you!

Added to which, I've finally got my appetite back and started getting interested in food again, which is bad for the waistline (what waistline?) but good for me and for current house sharer Leo. Dug out my 20 year old recipe books and revived some of the dishes he remembers from his childhood. Don't know why I've bought so many new ones since...

And I've walked, too. Half a mile to the hairdressers to get my colour done, and half a mile back on Tuesday, and the same to get my nails done on Friday. Without the stick. Back still aches like billy-ho, but I can do it.

And finally, my dear friends Darren and Peter Simpson, who played my Ugly Daughters in Cinderella a few years ago, have invited me to do a book signing to coincide with World Book Day on Thursday at their wonderful new establishment - see picture at the top of this post. I can vouch for the excellence of all their freshly prepared food - and the size of the sandwiches, which meant Leo and I didn't need dinner when we went to visit them this week! So If you're in our area and free on Thursday afternoon, I shall be ensconced in "The Den" at the back, next to the woodturner, with some books to sell and sign - and of course, I'll sign those you already have if you bring them along. And while you're there, have a cup of superb hot chocolate, a slice of Darren's home made cake, a muffin, perhaps, or even some ice cream. And, in case you don't recognise us if you come along, here we are arguing with the Prince. I'm the one on the far left. Ahem.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Writing on the sofa

Gloria and Lady Godiva, to give her her full name, no longer cuddle up on the sofa, perhaps because it now has a new overcoat. They still sit here, but not together. In the mornings, Godiva sits beside me and drapes herself over my left wrist, despite the fact that she gets jiggled up and down while I'm writing. Gloria sits on the cushion behind my back, gradually wearing a groove in it and occasionally eating my hair.

This is my new regime. I tried working at the kitchen table, but it was hopeless, so I went back to the office and my back suffered. So here I am in the sitting room, working on the sofa with the cats. It's slightly tidier in here, there are grapes and chocolates to hand and a vase of daffodils on the table. And I've actually got more done over the last few days than I have in the last month. I may well abandon the office for ever.

It reminds me of two things. One - the summer I spent with a cracked foot up on the sofa finishing a writing project and two - finishing the first Libby Sarjeant after Hazel Cushion had asked for it. I've always maintained that I needed a dedicated office space to work, and of course, in the past, I have. In our last house, my late husband and I actually had an office each once we'd chucked the two elder children out. Even before that, he had one and I worked in our large utility room. This was essential with four children with ages ranging over ten years, and my liking for working to music probably dates from that time - in order to block out extraneous noises.

But now I've realised I don't need it. I do have one returning child - the current slave - living with me, but he spends most of his time in his room composing music and poetry, only coming out to eat, take the bins out and get the coal in. And it's much more comfortable here, and surprisingly, less distracting. So - advice for writers. As if I'm qualified to give advice... Write where you're comfortable and not where you think you should. No, I'm not going to remind you of Jane Austin, but I might remind you of the opening line of my all-time favourite novel: "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink..."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Year and New Books

Well, it's 2017. And next week, at the end of January, the second novella in The Alexandrians series will be out as an ebook.

I am also writing Murder By The Barrel, the eighteenth in the Libby Sarjeant series, which I have to deliver to Accent Press by June this year, and it has been borne in on me that I need to sort out my working life.

I  was beginning to feel a little better when I last updated this blog, but then I fell victim to a "severe bacterial chest infection". Most of the holiday period, from the week before Christmas until New Year is merely a blur. I managed to let the kids escort me to Lou's on Christmas Day, and had to be escorted him after about an hour and put back to bed. The combination  of The Back and The Chest was pretty grim, and I think there were times when the kids actually thought they might lose me. Poor Leo, over in New Jersey, certainly did. I got covert messages from his girlfriend asking if I was sure I was all right, as he was so worried.

Anyway - I'm recovering, although it appears I'm none too steady on my feet. Lou took Leo, Philly and I to see her at a very posh venue in London last week and I managed to fall over again, so I'm terrified of going out on my own. I honestly didn't think I was that old!

So I'm going to make life a bit easier by shutting down the newsletter. I threatened to do this a couple of years ago, and I shall email everyone on the list and ask them to keep an eye on the blog instead, which will have details of Lesley Cookman the Author and occasional details of Lesley Cookman the slightly strange intermittent actor, mother and grandmother.

To that end: I learnt this week that Accent Press want at least one more Alexandrian Novella, so now I've got to think of a story for it. Any ideas?