In November, my UK publisher and I broke up. Which explains the delay in the publication of Telegram Home. All three books are now with a new publisher. Fifteen Postcards will be rereleased in May, The Last Letter in June, and then Telegram Home in July.Read More
I didn’t imagine I’d write any more historical time slip novels after writing The Old Curiosity Shop series… but here I am. 21,000 words into my first YA (young adult) novel, a serious time slip novel set alongside Hadrian’s Wall in England.
Our heroine, Lillian Ward, along with her mother, Lucia, are returning their farmland to nature. Ithaca Farm has previously undiscovered ancient Roman ruins lurking under its malnourished pasture. The discovery of those ruins leads to all manner of shenanigans.
We’ve got archaeologists, reporters, metal detectorists, high school kids, an albino, and a librarian (every book should have a librarian). Add in some Roman centurions, a brothel keeper, a pair of thieves, and the ability to slip through time, and hopefully I’m writing an adventure-filled novel. There will of course be a handful of deaths, with a smattering of not-too-much blood.
Ithaca Bound was dreamt up during a rainy walk along Hadrian’s Wall in 2018. Ithaca Farm (and Ithaca Fort) is a figment of my imagination. So please indulge me in a little shuffling of the known forts and fortlets alongside Hadrian’s Wall. Is it here that I mention walls don’t work? Just ask Hadrian, or Berlin…
The release date is a little hazy, but I’m planning for 19th June 2019.
I have a wonderful team of Beta readers, who are walking with me chapter by chapter, firing their constructive feedback as they go. And I’m eternally grateful for their help.
The photos above are from that very walk, in 2018, and are essentially where the story began, in my head. Poor Dr Andrew Birley had to then endure my thousands of questions for the rest of the ten mile walk we did… inspiration can strike at any time, even in the rain.
I’m working on the blurb now, and will release that over on my Facebook page this week. Please join me over there for more peeks into the process of delivering my new novel in the coming weeks:
So… what do you think? If you are excited about reading Ithaca Bound, click on the link below to join my very, very sporadic mailing list, so I can let you know straight away when it’s live. It will be available across all digital platforms. I promise.
Choosing a book cover is akin to choosing the name for a baby. You mull it over. You sound it out. You might share it with a few trusted friends. But in the end the decision is yours. And that decision can make or break the 80,000 words you've toiled over for the past year, two years, ten years.
This week I commenced the scary but exciting task of choosing a cover for my next book, for my horror novel PAINTED. I put the pitch out to DesignCrowd, and waited for the designs to roll in.
And they are. And some of them are amazing! I want to launch PAINTED now, today. Right this very second. I want to show you all the designs, I'm that excited. Designs have come in from Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Azerbaijan, UK, Bulgaria, Spain, India and Romania. And there is still a week to go in the design period.
I keep refreshing the DesignCrowd page, looking for new designs. I already have my favourites, I've popped my top five down below. But I'll run a proper poll over on my Facebook page once the design period ends, and you can all vote for your favourite then - go here to be involved - FACEBOOK.
I'd still love to have your feedback now though! Comments below are welcome.
Looking at the original book covers Stephen King used, there wasn't a lot of blood and gore on those. In fact, if you look at the current top 100 books on the Amazon horror list, very few of them feature blood, guts or gore in any form (although some of the new Stephen King covers do...).
So tell me, what do you like to see on the cover of a horror novel? Minimalist? Blood? Black and white imagery? Skull and crossbones? Comment on this post, and I'll put your name in the draw to win a signed copy of PAINTED when it is published in June 2017.
My Top Five Cover Designs, so far!
NEVER EVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER...
ALWAYS JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER...
IT'S WHATS BETWEEN THE COVER WHICH COUNTS...
With the publication date of my second book, 'The Last Letter', looming, now comes the trickiest part of publishing. The cover design.
Writing the book was easy. Editing the book was fairly easy. Choosing a cover for the book? Not at all easy.
So far, we are up to draft #3, and I'm hopeful draft #4 will be the final version.
Before signing a contract with Accent Press, I'd paid for a cover design through the website Design Crowd. To this day, I still love their version.
Accent Press advised that this image wouldn't work when its shrunk down to Amazon icon size. So, after signing my first publishing contract with them, they proposed this cover:
After some discussion, revolving around a cover with less blood, we agreed on the fantastic cover which now appears in your bookcases.
And now we move onto the process of choosing a cover for my second book, 'The Last Letter'.
Without giving too much of the plot away, the story takes you back to New Zealand, India and England. With a splash of Roman antiquities, Maori carvings, and a hint of Spitfire pilots in WWII.
My publisher is based overseas, so understandably their knowledge of the appropriate use of Maori imagery wasn't as up with the play as mine. Especially when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stock images of Maori carvings and taonga (treasure) available on the Internet. And while I did adore the first cover they designed, after taking advice from two trusted Maori colleagues, I had to veto the use of the Maori carving, which in essence, is the depiction of someone's ancestor, a high ranking chieftain by the looks of it.
So then we toyed around with the idea of a greenstone necklace, a Roman statue, pocket watches. I've now realised that pocket watches are synonymous with time slip novels, and adorn almost every cover out there. The designers at Accent Press then came up with an image of a hei tiki (tiki), which I loved.
After much discussion on Facebook and Twitter, it was roundly agreed that the balance of the two images was out. Do you agree?
So it was sent back to the designer, who tweaked the colour balance, removed an errant watermark off the tiki's hand, and deleted a random full stop at the end of the tagline. This was the version that came back:
Almost there. Almost, but not quite.
I compared a printout of the draft cover, with the cover of 'Fifteen Postcards', and was struck with the fact that my author name wasn't in the same position. Which, to me, looked peculiar. What do you think? Is this just my OCD, or do you agree that the author name needs to be in the same place on both books, and on the future third book in the series? So it was sent back for more tweaking!
My publisher is in the business of selling books, and they know which covers work, and which covers don't. I'm hoping to have the finalised cover back this coming week, ready for 'The Last Letter' to be released on the 1st of November, my birthday...
So there you have it. Choosing a cover is by far the hardest part of this whole process. So if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to writing another book in the meantime!