Saturday, 21 November 2009

Farlkris by Kelsey Drake

Farlkris by Kelsey Drake
Published by Matador 2009
ISBN: 978-1848762640
Price £6.99
Genre: Children 9s-12s

What is your book about? It's about an incredible danger that threatens Musselburgh in East Lothian in Scotland. There’s a posionous chemical entering the sewers and it’s giving off a toxin as it mixes with the waste water and enteres the river and sea. And basically, everyone in Musselburgh – dragon and overgrounder – is at risk. The dragons are already in serious danger, as they live in caverns cut out of the rock near the sewers under the industrial park in the town centre. They have magic to protect themselves for a while, but have sent a youngone, as we call them, above ground, morphed as a schoolboy, to investigate the source of the chemical discharge. That’s Farlkris, or Kris, and his success or failure will seal the fate of both Musselburgh and the dragon layr.

Kris joins forces with Hannah, so we have a “boy” and a girl at the centre of the story, and their search takes them into conflict with many people. To quote part of our cover blurb: “Against a background of waning magic powers, dying animals and ferocious storms, Hannah and Kris’s courage, despite unbearable grief, leads to a dramatic and unexpected conclusion.” Well, you wouldn’t want us to give the story away, would you!

Why did you write this book? We love dragons. We also love providing young people with stories of good people and wonderful dragons winning out over bad. There’s a real baddie in the story, whose only interest is in living for ever. He doesn’t care who he damages on the way. And I think we also take pleasure in showing the world that many kids are really loyal and courageous and have great ideas and lots of stamina, whatever the press says against them.

Where did you get your inspiration from? We heard some workmen opening up the pavement one day and and realised there was a whole world down there and that dragons could live there. We were about to write a novel to enter for the Kelpies Prize (run by Floris Books) so we had exactly the inspiration we needed, and set off in search of a place where dragons really did live underground. And that was East Lothian. It’s a wonderfully interesting place to visit, even though it looks like a forgotten area hanging onto the side of big brother Edinburgh.

How does your book differ from others that are similar? We mixed dragons and current-day overgrounder life instead of choosing one or the other. Some of our literary infuences would include adult ones such as the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey (for the magic ideas) and the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey (for the good type of dragons), though the end result is unlike either. Also, one of us can remember reading the Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville and they were books set in real places you can visit, and we both wanted to do this. It’s like a bonus for the reader. In Farlkris, you can go find all the places where the events took place and even the road where Hannah lives. One person who bought the book at the first signing looked at the map and said to us: “Is that XXX school?” We said we hadn’t named any school as we didn’t want a law suit – but the detail is that close to reality. So – real world and real dragons, magic, courage and goodness, and places you can visit. I think that’s a pretty unique mix. We’re proud of it.

Why did you choose POD? This was our second dragon book to be published, although it was written first. We knew it was good, as it had been runner up for the Kelpies Prize, so we had no reason to change our POD plans for this one. We felt we could hold our heads high. You have to be a bit thick-skinned when people finally twig it’s self-published, print on demand. Some begin to um and ah, because they’ve heard of vanity publishing and its notoriety. But the market has changed and economic reality means that publishers are refusing all sorts of excellent books as they seek to have only big names or “slebs” on their lists. We don’t feel POD or self-publishing is second rate at all.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method? With this method, we get to choose everything. A significant thing this time round was the choice to make the two books stand together as a brand. The designer did a lovely job with his first idea for the Farlkris cover – but it departed too much in colour and style from Scordril, so we asked to have it altered to match, keeping the circular “insert” as he’d drawn it, but choosing colours and scripts for the wording that suited us better.

I guess one disadvantage is always going to be the difficult decision of choosing how many to print at any one time. You can’t just un-print them and give up. You have to answer for your choices! Yet POD can often not mean “on demand”, especially if you are going to visit schools, libraries and shops to do workshops or signings – you have to have a box of them with you. So there’s a certain amount of stress and gambling involved, and you can’t blame the publisher for any wrong decisions.

How do you market your book? We have a
website and a related blog We’ve got better at this and now have excerpts, pictures and even an audio extract to listen to! We do lots of book signings at local bookstores and have copies available via Amazon and their Marketplace. The publisher deals with the main distributors for us but doesn’t otherwise market us except via their website page devoted to Scordril and Farlkris.

We notified all East Lothian libraries and schools that the next Lothian Dragons book was available, and it was obvious at the first signing that people had noted this. We’ve been more confident this time that we knew who to contact and where we were more likely to make sales. We’ve also accepted that we will not be bought by the little local shop in Penzance, for instance. We don’t have the funds to support really wide marketing and will concentrate on the North East and just enjoy it. Of course, there are buyers from many other places through our own contacts. Everyone has those. In addition to bookmarks and posters, we have produced a business card that shows the two covers side by side and the web links, and have left a small holder full of these on the cash desks at the bookstores we visit.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome? After doing this twice now, we’d probably say it’s about turning ourselves into outgoing salespeople instead of inward-looking writers. Some days you just want to write and not be bothered to think of more outlets. But writing is most satisfying if other people read it – so we try to overcome this and get out there. But that’s our biggest challenge!

What would you say to others considering POD? Decide who your readers are going to be – and if the book’s good enough and you can identify readers, go ahead and sell it to them with pride. You’ll have enriched not only their life but yours too. Life’s too short to hang around waiting for the publishing climate to change.

Where can I get a copy of your book? You can contact us for a signed copy via the contact form on our website at or you can buy direct from our POD publisher, Matador, at or go to Amazon.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Scordril by Kelsey Drake

Scordril by Kelsey Drake
Published by Matador
ISBN: 978-1906510817
Price £6.99
Genre: Children 9s-12s

What is your book about?
It's about the dragons who live under Traprain Law in East Lothian in Scotland. They've become trapped by an ancient magic that has slowly grown up around the hill. Scordril and the dragons of Musselburgh, who used to live with them a hundred years ago, are suspicious about the request for help but decide to plan a rescue. They can only do this with the help of two children, Morris and Flick, who are camping near Traprain Law where an archeological dig is underway. The dragons only occasionally have connections with overgrounders nowadays and they have to learn to trust each other. The action builds to a showdown at dead of night between Scordril and his kin and some evil wingriders and their zombie nightdragons in the skies above and in the caves below Traprain Law. The children are key to some of the best action and we've added magic and a blue moon, ancient spells and healing herbs, the Beano and communication by mindspeech. To say nothing of a feral cat and a child going missing. I guess it's also about courage, loyalty, misunderstanding and reconciliation.

Why did you write this book? We love dragons. We wanted to share that love with all those who know that dragons are lovely honourable beings and not the kind of baddie dragons you often get in children's books. It's amazing how many young readers have told us that's just the sort of dragons they love. We've had brilliant dragon conversations with them and their parents in bookshops and schools. So we feel we achieved what we set out to do. All writers want readers to enjoy their work.

Where did you get your inspiration from? We heard some workmen opening up the pavement one day and went out to have a look. What we heard was watery noises and banging and clonking coming from deep below, and said to ourselves, "What if that's where dragons live?" It just grew from there. But the real inspiration came after we went to meet the East Lothian dragons and heard about their lore and customs, and saw how wonderful they were. There's nothing in overgrounder life that matches the atmosphere of a dragon get-together in their Great Hall underground.

How does your book differ from others that are similar? It's unique in that it has dragons and current-day overgrounder life mixed together - usually books are either one or the other. And many books about dragons are funny in the "ha ha" sense and depict them in a cartoony way, as if dragons didn't exist, or pseudo medieval as if we overgrounders didn't exist. Whereas the reality is that we and they co-exist if you know where to look. Besides, this is the only book we know where real dragons are nice, and humour stems from the story, as and when. Chris d'Lacey has nice dragons in his books, but they are clay ones who come to life when needed, so that's not really the same. Ours live underground all the time and fly behind mageclouds when they are out hunting so that overgrounders will not see them.

Why did you choose POD? The usual thing about too many publishers saying this book is excellent, the characters are great, but not for us. It's also possible they didn't know where to place it by genre. The second book, coming out in November, also POD, was written first, as it happens. This second story, Farlkris, was runner up for the Kelpies Prize 2005, so we had already proved the idea was great. So we weren't too worried about selling enough to cover our expenses. We decided to publish in chronological order when we settled on POD because Scordril pre-dates Farlkris by about 60 years, so this made sense.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method? It gives us choices about style, order of publication, how long to leave between the two publication dates and a real say in cover designs. Plus we can order again when we've sold the first batch, without too much hassle. We've done this several times already because in the year since publication Scordril has sold 700 copies pretty much in a small area and by our own hand, though Matador have shifted some stock via the distributors.

How do you market your book? We take a certain number and do book signings at local bookstores. We have a website and a related blog and also have copies available via Amazon marketplace. We don't choose to have Amazon stock it up front as they expect so much discount. We notified all local libraries and schools and have taken class sessions at both. We've given talks to local adult groups who are happy to buy Scordril as presents for young people in their families, and we notified alumni newspapers who might be interested in our success because we both have MAs in the subject. They were quite happy to report on Scordril. We did try relevant local newspapers but found them less responsive.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome? Make that present tense! It's ongoing. We've missed out on libraries and purchasers nationally as we don't pay anyone to sell it in the rest of the country and can't afford to travel too far ourselves. We're hoping to find a solution to this one when Farlkris is published.

What would you say to others considering POD? It's absolutely the right thing to do if you can afford the outlay and believe in the standard and content of your book. Stories need readers or something feels unfinished. Be realistic about how many you might sell and then go for it. There is far less stigma nowadays attached to going it alone. Everyone knows that many publishers are only interested in light, frothy books for children, or ones written by, or ghosted for, celebrities. We meet so many readers who want a seriously good read. It makes sense to provide it. But do get grammar and spelling checked. It has to be as professional as those published by mainstream publishers.

Where can I get a copy of your book? You can contact us for a signed copy via the contact form on our website or you can buy direct from our POD publisher, Matador

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A Thousand Beauties by Mark Adam Kaplan

Title: A Thousand Beauties by Mark Adam Kaplan
Published: Bewrite Books
ISBN: 9781905202942 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781905202959 (e-Book)
Genre: literary fiction
Price: £7.99 (UK) $14.99 (US)

What is your book about? A Thousand Beauties is about Rupert Ruskin, a successful but unpopular man who has isolated himself from the world to chase his family’s elusive vision of enlightenment. He believes if he can see a thousand beautiful things in one day he would achieve the perspective of angels and spend the rest of his days in bliss. But his vision-quest is interrupted when his ex-wife, Elaine, bursts back into his life with the news of her cancer. Ruskin figures that if he can help Elaine find a thousand beauties, then perhaps her last days won’t be completely miserable.

Why did you write the book? I began writing this book after the death of my paternal grandmother who succumbed to pancreatic cancer, an illness that I discovered ran in my family. My maternal grandmother died shortly thereafter. I have been fortunate to lose few loved ones during my lifetime. Their passing forced me to stop putting off my novel writing and sit down to work.

Where did you get your inspiration from? Believe it or not the inspiration for this story came as I sat at the desk in my garage, and discovered a spider moving in on a fly. I found myself captivated by the scene (which appears in the prologue of the book). I felt myself gain insight, a feeling that I had only had once before, when looking at a totem pole in a park in Seattle. These moments of insight granted me perspective, and were beautiful to me. From the combination of these momentary flashes of insight, the idea of the Ruskin family’s philosophy was born. The recent deaths of my grandmothers, combined with a new and volatile marriage fed the rest of the story.

How does your book differ from others that are similar? Literary fiction is a genre that defies concepts of similarities, or differences. Two writers may very well focus on the same idea, but their work will target vastly different aspects of it. I do not know of any books that present this kind of tragedy and still leave some room for hope. This was my intention with A Thousand Beauties, but only the objective reader can tell me whether or not I succeeded.

Why did you choose POD? The fact is that I had been sending the book out for about three years with no success when I came across Bewrite Books. The editor, Neil Marr liked my submission packet and requested the script. He wrote to tell me how disappointed he had been with the execution of the book (I am paraphrasing), and that they would not be interested in publishing it in its present form. He took the liberty of including notes on the manuscript, which he offered up for me to use or discard. When I reviewed his notes I found that they were exactly what I needed to see the manuscript clearly again. I wrote to ask if he’d be interested in reviewing the book again after I reworked it. He was, and did, and later accepted it for publication. I was so happy to find an editor who actually edited, that the details of how POD worked were less important to me than maintaining and extending our professional relationship.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method? The advantages of this method, for me, have come in the pre-publication stage. My work with Neil renewed my faith in the industry and made my book exponentially better. I believe that without the pressure and cost of a large initial book run, and big author advances, POD enables editors to discover and work on books that might not otherwise seem profitable. Certainly, a literary novel like A Thousand Beauties would be a hard sell to an editor who wanted to know the niche audience, or targeted readership. This is its greatest advantage - the opportunities it affords editors to take risks on authors or books that might otherwise not have a chance.

Its disadvantages are that the marketing of the book falls predominantly on the authors’ shoulders. The book is launched without the hoopla afforded by the budgets and connections of the big publishing houses. Reviews are harder to come by, and some venues, such as the New York Times Review of Books will almost never publish an opinion about a book from such a small house. The lack of big name reviews hurts sales, and makes marketing the book that much more difficult. Publicizing the book becomes a grassroots effort, which takes longer to yield results and requires tremendous energy and enthusiasm.

How do you market your book? I am marketing it on all of the Internet sites I can find, holding readings in the local library, and bookstores. I am contacting friends and family in every different city I know and asking their help getting the book out. My brother will work Chicago, my sister New York, I will work Los Angeles. I have a friend in Washington D.C., one in Amsterdam, etc. Also, I am sending interviews out, cold calling any possible venue for exposure I can find, and hawking the book at work to try and generate word of mouth.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome? My biggest challenge was and is time management. I am a full-time public school teacher, the father of two young daughters, and currently attending graduate school. Finding the time to work, rework, and work the book over again was difficult. Returning to it so often, and maintaining a fresh perspective was difficult. In fact, just finding the energy to sit down and look over the pages was sometimes too much for me. But it was all worth it, and now I have a book that I can be proud carries my name.

What would you say to others considering POD? Understand the advantages, but realise that the book may cost more than a similar book from a big house. Also, be certain you can live without the hard cover that has haunted your dreams. Lastly, listen to your editor. If you’re lucky, you will find someone willing to work with you to hone your work into a thing of beauty. Be open to their criticism and willing to keep working. They don’t have the budget for a big launch, so your book won’t make it into the rack at the grocery store unless you work to make that happen. Don’t expect the big display at Borders. But be proud. This publishing is as big a deal as any. Remember, even after the book comes out you still have work to do. After all, it’s your work. Get it out there. And don’t be afraid to work it one reader at a time.

Where can I get a copy of your book? A Thousand Beauties is available at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA,,, (Germany), (France), Liberia Universitaria (Italy), Powells – US, The Book Depository,, and Borders and Barnes & Noble. In the UK, the book can be found at Waterstones, Foyles, Blackwells, WHSmith and Tesco. In Australia at Angus & Robertson, in Canada at Chapters/Indigo, in South America at Kalahari, and Exclusive Books, and in Asia at Paddyfields.

Please visit my website at

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hitler and the Mars Bar by Dianne Ascroft

'Hitler and Mars Bars' by Dianne Ascroft
Published by Trafford Publishing Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-4251-4591-0
Price: £11.99
Genre: Historical Fiction

What is your book about? It is the tale of a remarkable child and era - the story of a German boy's journey to manhood in war-torn Germany and post-war rural Ireland. Set against the backdrop of Operation Shamrock, the little known Irish Red Cross project which aided German children after World War II, it reveals a previously hidden slice of Irish history.

Erich, growing up in Germany’s embattled Ruhr area during the Second World War, knows only war and deprivation. His beloved mother’s disappearance after a heavy bombing raid leaves him responsible for his younger brother, Hans. When the war ends the Red Cross transports him, along with hundreds of German children, to Ireland to recuperate from the appalling conditions in their homeland. During the next few years he moves around Ireland through a string of foster families. Separated from his brother, he experiences indifference, brutality, love and acceptance in varying measures. He finds a loving home with one farm family but is unable to stay with them.

This is the story of a German boy growing up alone in a foreign country. He dreams of finding his mother. He yearns for a family who will love and keep him forever. He learns his brother is his ally not his rival. Plucky and resilient he faces the challenges his ever changing world presents.

Why did you write the book? I didn’t initially set out to write this book. The idea gradually evolved. Several years ago I met a man who was one of the children helped by the Red Cross endeavour, Operation Shamrock. His life story intrigued me and spurred me to research the project. I used my research to write a non-fiction article for a Writer’s Bureau course assignment; the article was printed in Ireland’s Own magazine. With my course assignment completed, I thought that was the end of it. But family members insisted that the story would make a good novel. Initially I wasn’t interested to pursue it but, the more I thought about it, the idea grew on me. Eventually I got excited about it and, then before I knew it, I had begun writing the book.

Where did you get your inspiration from? As I said, I heard about a boy helped by Operation Shamrock and his story started my imagination racing. It was the first time I’d heard of this Red Cross endeavour and I wanted to know more about it. I read the few articles I could find and watched an RTE television documentary about the project. I also spoke to people from communities that had hosted these children; I spoke to the evacuees themselves, their foster families, their classmates and neighbours. I gathered a lot of information and I wanted to use it to re-create the experiences of these people. Even though I was writing a novel, I tried to portray the people and events as accurately as possible.

How does your book differ from others that are similar? As far as I’m aware, the events of Operation Shamrock have never formed the basis for any other novel. And no other novel explores Irish life in quite the same way. There have been many books written that nostalgically recall the people and way of life in rural Ireland half a century ago. Maeve Binchy in ‘Light A Penny Candle’, Alice Taylor and Michael McLaverty all capture country and village life well. But none of them look at Ireland from the point of view of an outsider who cannot even speak the language when he first arrives. My novel looks at the same people and places but through a foreign child’s eyes. It is a unique window into this bygone era.

Why did you choose POD? I didn’t actually make the decision; I was fortunate and the opportunity fell into my lap. Soon after I began writing the book, before I even started to think about finding a publisher, I saw an ad in Ireland’s Own magazine for a Book Deal competition. I submitted the synopsis and one sample chapter to the contest. Then I continued writing; I didn’t think much about it. A couple months later I was notified that I had won. The contest was jointly run by the magazine and Trafford Publishing; the prize package included the free design, printing and production of the book as well as review copies and promotional material. So I was spared the task of submitting my manuscript to countless publishers, hoping to be accepted by one of them. I never even explored the possibility of submitting the book to a traditional publisher.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method? One of the greatest advantages of POD is that the book is always in print. There’s no time limit; it can be marketed and sold for as long as the author wishes. There also isn’t a large inventory taking up space anywhere, slowly yellowing and aging. Fresh, new books can be produced, in any quantity, whenever they are needed. POD also gives the author total control over the layout of the book, cover design and content. One of the greatest disadvantages it that the author is responsible for most of the publicity and promotion. While it can be fun, it is also time consuming. The inexperienced author will have much to learn about marketing to promote a book effectively. POD authors will also find it’s an uphill battle to get their books stocked in bookshops. If they are accepted, invariably it will be on a sale or return basis. Getting the book reviewed by most major newspapers and magazines is also difficult.

How do you market your book? One of the most important things I’ve done is to seek feedback about the book from readers and reviewers. Positive comments can be used in my marketing efforts. Although it is difficult to get a review by a major newspaper, it isn’t impossible. It is worth sending copies to any newspapers that agree to consider reviewing it. Positive reviews by Brian D’Arcy, BBC broadcaster and Sunday World columnist, and the News Letter, a Belfast daily newspaper, were very beneficial to my marketing campaign. I’ve been promoting the book in ever widening circles. Initially I concentrated on the counties of Ireland where the book is set. I sent press releases to local newspapers then I contacted local bookshops and libraries to offer the book for sale. Most bookshops agreed to stock the book on a sale or return basis; libraries said they would contact their regular suppliers to order it. I then widened my marketing campaign to include the rest of Ireland. I sent press releases to newspapers countrywide. Since it isn’t profitable to have too much stock tied up in bookshops, on a sale or return basis, I encouraged shops throughout the rest of the country to order it from their distributors. Next I concentrated on my internet presence. The book is listed on Amazon and other online bookshops. I also sell copies on my own website at Information about the book and upcoming marketing events can be found on my Bebo ( and MySpace ( pages as well as my blog, ‘Ascroft, eh?’ (

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome? Apart from finding time to write the book while juggling the rest of my life and responsibilities, marketing was undoubtedly the greatest challenge. I had so much to learn and then had to spend the time to apply it effectively. Most days I wished I had at least a 48 hour day to complete even half of my ‘To Do’ list.

What would you say to others considering POD? If you are willing to put the effort into marketing your book then POD is a viable option. It is very satisfying to be in control of every aspect of your book’s creation and printing. But you need to look at the business aspect carefully - price the book realistically to make a profit then find every possible sales avenue. POD isn’t for anyone who is only interested in the creative side of writing. You need to have a strong business sense and not be a timid salesperson.

Where can I get a copy of your book? ‘Hitler and Mars Bars’ is available from the publisher, Trafford Publishing ( and from my website ( I offer a special discount price for books bought on my own website. It can also be ordered from online bookshops, including, and any high street bookshop. My website’s homepage features professional book reviews and readers’ comments (click the heading, ‘Reviews’, to read the full reviews). Chapter excerpts can be found at,, and

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Without Reproach by Anthony James Barnett
Published by: Libros International
Genre: Fiction
Price: £7.99 ISBN: 978-1905-9882-59

WHAT IS YOUR BOOK ABOUT? Hi June, WITHOUT REPROACH started life as a mystery. Jenny, a young English woman, inherits a share in a hacienda and riding school from a Spanish artist. The only trouble is she has never heard of the guy, never been there and is not related to him. On her first visit to the hacienda, she is horrified to find a painting of herself in the nude. The story hinges on her ordeal of finding what has gone on and why, and of fighting off the other beneficiary who wants the hacienda for himself.

Although I wrote the book as a mystery, the media made meat out of it by calling it a 'Steamy Novel by Local Grandfather' and it has been categorized under romance with Amazon, so what do I know? There is 'steam' in it, but it happened, rather like life, because of the circumstance, not because of contrivance.

WHY DID YOU WRITE THE BOOK? Wow, a good question. Why does anyone write anything? Since 1994 my short stories have been published in magazines, summer specials, international competitions and broadcast on radio. Maybe I thought it was time to branch out.

WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION? I had a glimmer of an idea when someone in the newspaper was reported as inheriting money quite unexpectedly, and I wondered what would happen if things were more mysterious.

HOW DOES YOUR BOOK DIFFER FROM OTHERS THAT ARE SIMILAR? Well .. I now live in Spain, and am familiar with the places I've written about .. But, perhaps playing on the media response, I'm a grandfather of eight who's written a 'Steamy Novel'. Wrinklies aren't supposed to know about sex are they?

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE POD? I didn't. The publisher accepted me, and they happen to have chosen POD as the means of printing.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THIS PRINTING METHOD? The advantage is books don't sit gathering dust. They're printed as and when required and don't need a substantial investment to get under way. However the book isn't in the public's face, they can't pick it up and browse, so it can be a big disadvantage. Realistically though, the chance of having a début novel on bookshelves is very remote so maybe it isn't such a disadvantage after all. The unit price is certainly higher, so that works against POD.

HOW DID YOU MARKET YOUR BOOK? There has been no publicity budget, but my publisher has placed it in every major on-line store in the world and others seem to have 'jumped on the bandwagon'. I've been amazed to see WITHOUT REPROACH in places such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Japan, China, France, Sweden, Germany, Italy, USA, Canada, and of course the UK.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME? I think publicity was, and still is the biggest challenge. I thought writing the book was all an author had to do. Wrong! Unless you're a big name, you have to "sell" yourself and your book to the world. If you don't, your book won't move. You have to be very active.

WHERE CAN I GET A COPY OF YOUR BOOK? Crikey, June, I've seen it on so many different sites it's impossible to include them all. Here's a selection:-Amazon USA Amazon UK Kalahari S/A Seekbooks Aus The best thing for me was a couple of weeks ago whilst idly checking the sites. I came across Amazon Canada and found WITHOUT REPROACH had hit the Best Seller list for some reason. It made number 56, which for me was incredible. It only lasted for ONE DAY but it had been there. I have no idea how or why, and it will probably never sell another one in Canada, but I love them for it. I just wish it could have stayed.

Friday, 13 June 2008

The Forgotten Future by Deborah Clark Ebel R.N

The Forgotten Future: Adolescents in Crisis by Deborah Clark Ebel R.N.
Published by Outskirts Press
ISBN: 9781432719357 (paperback)
Price: £8.95 (US $17.95)
Genre: Non-fiction, child psychiatry, mental health

WHAT IS YOUR BOOK ABOUT? The Forgotten Future allows readers a peek behind the doors of a locked psychiatric unit for adolescents and provides insight into what life inside an acute psychiatric hospital is really like, for the patients and for the staff. It tells the stories of some of the troubled teens with whom I have worked in Connecticut, Alaska, and Virginia. The stories are all true, although I have placed all of the patients into a composite hospital which I have called “Oak Haven”. The book is reader-friendly as it tells the stories of adolescents suffering from a variety of mental disorders and explains many of the unit rules and actions of the staff. It also demonstrates the dangers of physical and mechanical restraints as I tell of the death of one of my patients who died during such a restraint. As an assist to parents, The Forgotten Future provides appendices with resources and important information about how, when, and where to seek help for troubled children, as well as specific questions to ask of providers and mental health facilities.

WHY DID YOU WRITE THE BOOK? Twenty percent of the children under the age of 18 in the United States have mental illnesses, and between six and nine million of those children have a serious emotional disturbance. Each year, hundreds of thousands of these children and adolescents are confined to inpatient psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centres, therapeutic foster homes, treatment academies, and behavioural boot camps. After having worked with children and adolescents in the mental health field for more than twenty years, I have come to believe that despite those extraordinary numbers, many of our children are not receiving optimal treatment for their mental health issues. I wrote The Forgotten Future: Adolescents in Crisis to provide an unprecedented insider’s look into a system which has serious inadequacies and to raise the question, “Can’t we do better by our children?”
WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM? I got my inspiration from the children I have worked with over the years.

HOW DOES YOUR BOOK DIFFER FROM OTHERS THAT ARE SIMILAR? I always say that my book is no “Girl Interrupted”. Mine is better. It is contemporary, whereas Girl Interrupted was published 25 years after it reportedly took place (1967). Hospital lengths of stay are shorter now and the availability and use of medications has increased substantially. Also, The Forgotten Future focuses on many young people from diverse backgrounds, rather than on one individual.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE POD? I didn’t want to take years to find a publisher and then wait more years for my book to appear in print. Additionally, I knew that I had a niche.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THIS METHOD? The advantage is that I don’t have to worry about finding a responsible printer or order fulfillment. The only disadvantage is that it is not in bookstores, although it can be special-ordered.

HOW DO YOU MARKET YOU BOOK? The Forgotten Future is a niche book, but it is a very broad niche. Almost everyone has a friend, a child, a neighbour, or a friend with a troubled child with a mental disorder, and they’re all looking for answers. In addition, teachers, counsellors, psychiatric nurses, and others will all find something in it. I use the Internet extensively and market to local and national mental health organizations, psychiatric nurses’ groups, schools and mental health facilities. And I always keep my web site at updated.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME? My biggest challenge was trying to have my editor(s) understand my book’s needs. For example, at first the designer set the cover with sort of a Gothic-looking typeface that really creeped me out. I suppose she had not read the book and she must have thought from the title that The Forgotten Future was a futuristic novel of some sort. Anyway, it took several weeks to get that straightened out. All in all, though, things went smoothly.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHERS CONSIDERING POD? Anyone who wants to be successful with POD must be aware that they are responsible for their own success. You wrote your book and you’re responsible for marketing it. If you know that you can pull that off, then go for it. In many ways, you may find that marketing your book is harder work than writing it.
WHERE CAN I GET A COPY OF YOUR BOOK? From my web site, or from Amazon (UK, US, Canada, Germany, and Japan),, and many other online booksellers. It can also be special-ordered through brick-and-mortar book stores.
IN ADDITION: I would like to add that a portion of the proceeds from each retail sale of The Forgotten Future: Adolescents in Crisis will go to the National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC) in Huntsville, Alabama. I invite everyone to visit my web site at where a link to the NCAC can be found.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Good Americans Go to Paris When they Die by Howard Waldman

Good Americans Go to Paris when they Die by Howard Waldman
Publisher: BeWrite Books (UK)
ISBN: 978-1-904492-98-3
Price: £ 9.50 ($18.99)
Genre: Fantastic/Literary

The Kingdom of Heaven has been downsized to a single city, and to save overcrowding, God has a new chosen race and set of entry qualifications.

In the modern hereafter only good Americans go to Paris when they die.

But not even a divinely ordered bureaucracy is infallible and five not so good Americans find themselves posthumously thrown together and trapped in a surreal limbo:

Randy 1900s marine Louis Forster; Maggie Thompson, an over-sexed 1930s fan dancer; neurotic 1940s New York intellectual Seymour Stein; Helen Ricchi, the mysterious and bookish wallflower suspected of foul play after her husband’s disappearance in the 1950s; and modern-day Las Vegas bore, truck driver Max Pilsudski.

And the ill assorted desperate departed will stop at nothing in a seemingly impossible quest to return to the land of the living and repair flawed lives and fractured loves.

I seemed qualified to illustrate the famous saying, “Good Americans go to Paris when they die.” Although not necessarily good and not yet dead, I am an American and have lived in Paris for decades. I know what I’m talking about when I talk about Paris, at least the Paris on this side of the death barrier. The theme of lost love used to occupy my insomniac hours: what if I’d undone fatal mistakes or corrected fatal omissions? Where would I be now? Useless conjecture for me (and for you too) but that seems to be a possibility for the characters in Good Americans Go to Paris when they Die: to return, youthful again, to their lover and with hindsight do the right things.

All of my novels (question of age perhaps?) are concerned with the salvaging of the past. In the Seventh Candidate the arch conservative protagonist, who earns his living effacing obscene graffiti from subway posters, longs for the supposed decencies of bygone decades. In Time Travail the protagonist devises a machine to pull in imperfect images of his long dead loved ones from the past. Finally in Back There, the aging hero relives his youthful Paris love and in the writing of it tries to modify reality.

In the other side Préfecture de Police, the protagonists of Good Americans Go to Paris when they Die find themselves caught in the slow moving wheels of bureaucracy. Inspiration on this subject came easily to me. Having spent most of my professional career as a teacher in the French educational system, I have a first hand knowledge of the functioning (to say nothing of the malfunctioning) of French bureaucracy.

To my knowledge no book is similar to this one, otherwise I’d never have written it. If what I have to say echoes other men’s voices, I prefer to keep my mouth shut. Although a fantasy novel, Good Americans Go to Paris when they Die is free of elves, dragons, or vampires (at least of the conventional blood sucking variety).

For the usual reason: failure to get published by a conventional publisher. I sent the habitual cover letter, synopsis and opening three chapters of my first novel, Time Travail, to ten publishers on the other side of the Atlantic. The postage for that much weight cost 15 Euros a throw, the equivalent of a bottle of good Scotch. I gave up when I discovered that all of these publishers had done away with a human Submissions Editor in favoUr of the Kirubawaki XL289 Manuscript Slush Pile Processing Machine. This ingenious apparatus recycles all submitted manuscripts to paper on which it prints the form rejection slip (It inspired a short story, available on demand). I redirected my saved money in bottled consolation. Fortunately Jacobyte Books, an Australian POD publisher, accepted my book and then a second one. Later Jacobyte merged with my present publisher BeWrite Books, based in the UK.

One great advantage of POD compared to conventional publishing is that the book remains constantly available, printed up at a touch. Moreover, the small publisher using this technique can afford to take chances on an off beat author since his overhead is reduced: no need to maintain a stockpile of books to gather dust while waiting for readers. The disadvantages of POD are obvious. Normally bricks and mortar bookstores won’t handle them. In addition, in terms of budget, POD publishers are small time operators, with little possibility for big scale promotion of their titles. The author has to do most of the work - if he’s able to.

Quite poorly for reasons given below.


So far as marketing challenges are concerned: living in a non English speaking country. That ruled out radio and TV interviews, book signings, library contacts, and all the other laborious but profitable devices to dig up readers. I can’t even count on inner circle purchases and resulting word of mouth publicity. No aged aunts or curious neighbours to come to my rescue. Fact is, outside of my wife, none of the members of my family (not even my three boys) have a solid enough knowledge of English to read what I write. So it goes.


On Amazon and My other novels, Time Travail, The Seventh Candidate and Back There are also available on these sites.