Thursday 29 September 2011

The Start of the Redesign...

As you may have noticed there have been a few changes since you last dropped by. But don't worry it is still a work in progress.

I have been removing elements and shifting others around, so some of the missing items may make a reappearance in the next few days...

I've tried to make the text clear and the links more obvious, but all are open for changing. I need to live with it for 24 hours to decide if I'm happy or not.

As you'll see at the top I've added a picture that has taken a couple of cropping sessions to get to a size I was happy with. It was taken Summer 2009 in Dorset, though sadly the weather wasn't as good the day I took the photograph.

I love the view and I have a scene in my novel where my hero and heroine are stood looking out over this vista. I'm sure there may have been a few more trees on the slopes in the mid-18th century, but the coastline view would have been familiar to anyone stopping there to catch their breath.

Now I'm off to take advantage of the afternoon sun...

Monday 26 September 2011

Regency London...

I was just browsing the online newspapers and came across a walk around what can still be found of the Regency London that was mentioned in a number of Georgette Heyer's novels.

The piece appears in The Telegraph online- Regency London: Let a romantic novelist be your guide.

I can vaguely remember a few of the areas Sue Attwood's walk passes through, but I certainly never got to see St James's Street- originally home to numerous gentlemans clubs and entertainments...

It's good to know some things do survive nearly 200 years later...

Inspiration from Family History...

If you've ever seen 'Who Do You Think You Are'  -on the BBC where a variety of actors, musicians and other well known people are shown following up their family history and revealing often moving stories about their ancestors- then you may already know what I'm going to talk about.

(There has even been an American version which was broadcast in the UK).

Now you may never have given your ancestry any thought, let alone done any family history research yourself, but it is a wonderful tool for novel ideas and starting points for finding out information.

In fact for a writer it is very easy to get side-tracked by the stories of other families rather than your own.

I have to admit that I leave the trawling of records to my OH as he is very good at it- though my family history is still struggling to move beyond the early 1800's (going backwards from the present day of course).

But sometimes gems are revealed in passing that you can't resist...

A bigamous marriage.

Very old photos perhaps with a name and an address, or maybe just an interesting face that weaves a story in your mind.

An old letter or a message on a postcard.

A marriage recorded- by Special Licence rather than Banns.

A death in strange circumstances and the resulting inquest.

The BBC has a page of photos The Nation's Scrapbook, with images submitted by people and covering a wide variety of subjects.

All just another method of sparking ideas. Though don't forget, the truth can actually be stranger than fiction...

Saturday 24 September 2011

The Things You Find in Books...

Have you ever bought an old book and found something interesting inside it between the pages?

I ask because the Chairman at our writers' club read out some pages of writing that she found in an old book that she recently bought. The woman being written about was clearly the female equivalent of Michael Crawford's character Frank in 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em'.

We weren't sure if this woman existed (it covered a couple of months in 1963) or if it was a would-be writer's notes; perhaps it was just delusional ramblings, but there were numerous story ideas that could have been inspired from this hapless woman's disasters...

In the early 20thC it seemed to be more usual to find written inscriptions inside books, dated and signed. Not necessarily from the author of the book, but from the book buyer to a friend or relative.

The ones I've come across always seem to have been written in fountain pen blue ink with that beautiful elegant writing that was taught a hundred years ago.

Perhaps those people felt that book was special, it meant something to them and to the person they gave it to.

It can also be very sad too. I once found an old book- in a charity shop- with an inscription from a parent to a child, then I looked at the date the book was published and the date of the inscription and I realised it was given new. Did that child keep that book all their life and only after their death did it get boxed up and sent elsewhere, old and irrelevant in today's world?

So I think in future when I give a book as a special gift I'm going to start putting an inscription inside so the reason why I've given it to that person (and when) isn't forgotten...

Thursday 22 September 2011

Writers and Publishers...

Last night (Wednesday) I was at a manuscript meeting at the writers' club I attend. I took the first chapter of my novella along, but we didn't have enough time for everyone who wanted to read a piece of their work and get constructive feedback, so next month we get to go first.

But what has inspired today's post was something mentioned by one of the club's published writers- social networking and how essential it is for writers who want to get books published.

Some of the audience were dismayed, they felt that if a story was good enough to be published then why should they have to do Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs?

So a few of us explained how vital it is for making yourself and your work sellable to publishers. Your book may be great but if the accountants don't think they can make money, that book won't go any further. Promotion is essential whether you are with a big publisher, a small press or self publishing.

I understood early on in my writing that you need to understand how publishing works. If you don't have any idea then find out, it makes your writing life a little less frustrating and easier to keep up with the rapid changes publishing is currently going through.

A hundred years ago, well before the digital age, writers didn't have the same demands placed on them as now. The writer sent the book to their chosen publisher, if it was accepted it went through the system and appeared in the bookshop.

But there were writers even in the 19th century who understood the value of getting out to their readers- Charles Dickens is a perfect example. He went around the country giving readings of his stories very successfully; he attended dinners- early after dinner speaking...

Perhaps some of that explains why his name is still known when many of his contemporaries have been forgotten.

(The original building of the Nottingham Mechanics hosted one of Dickens' events- our writers' club meets in the third generation building.)

I reckon Dickens would have embraced Facebook and Twitter with enthusiasm if they'd been available to him...

So please share with us your opinions on promotion.

Monday 19 September 2011

Would You Pay More For the Same Book in a Different Waterstones Branch?

It's been some time since I mentioned high street bookseller Waterstones. It has been featuring a lot in the bookselling press since it was sold to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut’s A&NN Group.

James Daunt, owner of independent bookseller's 'Daunt' was put in charge as managing director of Waterstones and since his arrival changes have been announced, and decision made that will effect the staff, book buyers and authors.

We're all realistic enough to accept that when there's a new boss in charge there will be changes; we might not like those changes but sometimes change is for the good. Bookselling is no different from any other type of retailer, you need footfall and resulting sales...

Since early September, Waterstones has been announcing this and that change; staff contracts changing, getting rid of 3 for 2 promotions, and closing a few branches. They even want to launch their own e-reader.

But among the ideas is increasing the percentage of discount they get from publishers- which means that the author will get less royalties if the discount percentage is raised. Makes me wonder if new authors' whose books get into Waterstones will get much in royalties from their sales...

Then last week 'differential pricing' raised its head. Example: a book by popular author X could be sold cheaper/dearer in Luton than the price asked in Bath, but both are being sold by the same retailer.

Now I can understand the reasoning that because of demographics you might sell a book better in one area that's more prosperous, than elsewhere in the country where that book will sell few copies.
(So stock less in the poor selling branches.)

But is that demographic issue a good enough reason to charge differently?

Personally I would be extremely annoyed (to put it mildly) if I went to buy a book in my local branch in Nottingham and then found out it was cheaper in their Manchester store.

You might ask how would you know? Well I'm quite sure it would be easy enough to check with a friend using social media or on a forum; and I wouldn't think it would be long before there was an online price comparison site.

At the moment it is only an idea, but I'm wondering what the next improvement idea will be...

Later this week I will be going into my local Waterstones so it will be interesting to see if there have been any further changes.
When I last visited the comfy chairs had returned (hurray- my back thanks you Waterstones) and areas were less crowded by tables and mobile book stands than earlier in the year.

So over to you, would you be happy with differential pricing?

Friday 16 September 2011

It's Friday And This Blog is One Year Old...

On the 16th September 2010 my blog, Carol's Corner, published it's first post saying Hello.

It's amazing how quickly the year has passed and how many posts I've made over that time- this post is the 153rd...

When I started I did wonder if I would have anything to say that readers would be interested in, or would the subjects that appealed to me, interest anyone else? Well I'm glad to say that quite a few readers have enjoyed my posts, comment and come back regularly- THANK YOU EVERYONE.

In turn I have made lots of new friends via blogs and learnt a lot too. I know I will go on learning and hopefully it won't be too long before I get some of my writing out into a paying market- I can but hope and work hard.

So now on with the virtual celebrations...

Champagne and most importantly Cake- there's chocolate in there somewhere...


Images by digitalart at

Thursday 15 September 2011

More OFT Delays- E-Book Pricing

A couple of post ago I mentioned the news that the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) had delayed announcing the result of their inquiry into the Amazon/ Book Depository merger.

Well, now the investigation into e-book pricing, that was started earlier this year, has also not yet reached a conclusion according to an item on the Bookseller website today.

It's likely that many of the complaints the OFT received relate to the agency model pricing that a few UK publishers adopted for sale of their e-books. This resulted in some publishers telling booksellers the retail price that their e-book formats could be sold for, which certainly annoyed some of the major booksellers.

If you want to remind yourself what all the fuss was about then revisit my blog posts on the subject
starting here, with a piece about the agency model, and the follow up post here.

If you missed the news of the OFT announcing the e-book pricing investigation then see this post.

The e-book market continues to thrive in the UK and publishers are finding out what pricing works for them, but this OFT investigation could upset all of this.

So the evidence is in, now it's just waiting for an answer.

I'm fairly certain that when the OFT does announce the results there will be some very happy people and some angry people. But whether the consumer will be happy or angry I wouldn't like to predict.

I think this issue could go either way...

Monday 12 September 2011

My Autumn Review...

As I always review my progress or lack of progress at the end of the year so that I can set targets, I thought this would be a good time to review my blog.

On Friday my blog will be one year old.

I've tried out different things and made lots of new friends in the writing blogsphere, and I've learnt so much about improving my work and the demands of the writing business; the advantages, the pitfalls and how publishing is changing.

I haven't done as much writing as I intended due to the accident and recovering from it. At times the only writing I was able to do was this blog, so I didn't stop completely.

Next month I'm attending Sally Quilford's Pocket Novel workshop and I'm really looking forward to it. I know I'm going to learn a lot which will improve my writing.

If you can't get to the face to face workshop then Sally is compiling a mailing list for a potential online version, here.

So now I'm looking at my blog (as it approaches its first birthday) and I need your help.

I'm going to be redesigning it, though I haven't yet decided which layout I prefer. But I would love to know what you like/dislike about my blog- you can remain anonymous if you prefer. :-)

Have there been particular items or subjects you really enjoy?

As so many blogs do cover specific subjects I like having some flexibility with my blog as long as it is in some way writing related.

So tell me what you think by using the comment form below.

Thank you.

Friday 9 September 2011

The Hay Incident...

As mentioned in my last post here are a few photos of the hay bales that prevented me having a smooth running Friday last week.

hay bales,A road,pylons,pavements
The Hay Scene

I'm sure this can inspire a story, but I have too many others in my brain at the moment, so if this gives you an idea then go ahead...

Cone,Bale of Hay,Yellow tape,barriers,tape
The Hay Wizard

Personally I find images a great prompt for ideas. In July I did a mini workshop where we used postcards and yes, that story idea is still pending...

Some Victorian artists used their paintings to tell a story and you could take any aspect of such a painting to create a narrative.

Just because a scene is historical it doesn't mean you can't translate it to a modern day situation, and vice versa of course, you just make appropriate adjustments for the time period you're using.

How often do you actually stop and look at the minor details in the background of a painting or photograph?

There could be an interesting object, another painting or person caught in time by the artist or photographer. What you then do with that is up to you and your imagination.

Writers observe, even if we aren't consciously aware of it, we are gathering snippets that will eventually find their way into our writing.

So in the coming year I'm going to visit the art gallery at the Castle and see what inspiration is lurking on the walls...

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Back to Reality...


Normality returns today with the start of the new school term.  In the kitchen the tumble drier is going round and the washing machine is on- I'm still learning what all the functions are and how many times to push which button but it's a really quiet washer.

Now I don't know if you find this, but instruction booklets always seem to leave something out. Perhaps just because the makers know what a certain symbol means they automatically assume the customer will realise what that symbol means too so they forget to put it in- we are not all geniuses, a few clues help...

Anyway I now have hours to get on with my latest writing project, so I better go.

(Later on I will add the photo of the escaping hay bales from Friday. With the high winds today I suspect the bale (that was broken open) will be depositing chunks on the road.)

Friday 2 September 2011

Ever Had One of Those Days?

Finally I've got some time to post.

It isn't just me that has been having one of those days- when things just don't go as you planned.

A few days ago The Bookseller announced that the expected result of whether the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) will refer the merger of Amazon and The Book Depository to the Competition Commission  was being delayed until Friday 2nd September, rather than the end of August as expected.

Then on Thursday further delays were announced. No reason has been given and the list of merger cases on the OFT's website just shows the date as to be confirmed (TBC). They generally state that
" the timetable of a given case may change during the merger assessment process due to different reasons."

The merger attracted widespread opposition from many writing and publishing related organisations. I'm sure many individuals would have voiced their concerns too.

* * *

Meanwhile high street bookseller Waterstones (now under new ownership) announced that they will no longer be running their 3 for 2 promotions.

Seems a lot of people, me included, only ever found two books they wanted. I found that less of a problem with the 3 for 2 in children's books.

The scheme that will replace it sounds interesting, but whether it is good for all writers or just some, time will tell...

* * *

I've spent today looking at washing machines. Our current one finally packed up yesterday and it did it with my swimming costume and a number of large towels inside.

My dear other half rescued my costume and hung it up so it would be ready for my aqua class, but there are now a lot of very wet towels to dry, and my new machine will not be delivered until next week...

Sadly the tribulations didn't stop there. I'd just got on the bus (to go to my aqua class) when the traffic ahead slowed to a halt. A flat-bed wagon loaded with large bales of hay had stopped just off the roundabout and partially blocked the slip road my bus had to use.

The bus was going nowhere- too wide for the remaining gap- and as I wasn't going to get to my class in time I got off and went home- that was when I saw the bales on the path and others hanging off the wagon...

The wagon is gone but the escaped hay is now in a big heap, on the top of the banking which runs along the edge of the road, waiting to be retrieved. (If it's still there tomorrow I'll take a photo.)

So at least it wasn't just me having one of those days...