Three Courses – Short Story Fiction and Google Book Search

The new book of short stories is now up on Amazon in both Kindle download and print editions. Initial feedback from readers has been good, and although not all of the stories are to everyone’s taste, there seems to be something for everyone to enjoy. If you have bought a copy, thank you very much. Please let me know what you think either by leaving a review on Amazon or getting in touch with me direct.

three cOUrses back and front

Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress blog, or go direct by clicking here.

Well, that’s one Local History, one ‘How To’ and one short story fiction book finished. Now it’s on to poetry. Some will have noticed from my lack of Facebook and Twitter presence that I have had my head down for the last few weeks. The reason is that I’ve been writing new poems to add to the small collection created over the years. I want the book to be fresh and current, so although I will include some of the old ones, most will be newly written. Watch this space for progress!

I have been wondering about Google Book Search recently. If you submit a book you have published, they include the text in their searchable database and highlight the match if anyone Googles for a particular term that’s mentioned in your work. On the face of it, this sounds like a neat idea, but I’m a bit put off that Google can display 20% (more if you specify it) of your book. On the other hand, if someone is checking out your book in a library they get to see it all for free! For me, I’m happy to share my writing because I do it for fun. However, I can see that an author who is trying to carve out a living might not want to share such a big chunk of work. Sixty pages from a three hundred page novel is quite a read for free! The bottom line is that I have released my Probate book to Google Book Search. It will be interesting to see how it affects sales!

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Whomerley Wood Moat Stevenage – Review from HALH

The other morning, a complimentary copy of Herts Past and Present dropped on the doormat, and inside I was delighted to find a review of my book by one of the editors, Ruth Jeavons from the Hertfordshire Association for Local History.

moat review HALH 1

Kind words, indeed!
The book is available from me (signed copy with free UK p&p), Amazon, eBay, Lulu and is for sale in Stevenage Museum. Check out the details here!

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Three Courses – Short Stories from Creative Writing Modules

Thank you to my Facebook and WordPress friends who encouraged me to press ahead with publishing my anthology of creative writing!

three cOUrses front

I found this book much harder to put out there than Whomerley Wood Moat and Probate, probably because with my engineering background I am more comfortable with factual writing. Fiction is different. The reader gets to know how you think. They judge your ability to please them. Will they be bored? Will they smile or laugh out loud? Will they believe in wherever you take them? Will they keep turning the pages?
Now is the time to find out the answers!
Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress blog, or go direct by clicking here.

It’s available direct from me (signed copies, free UK p&p), from eBay (signed copies, free UK p&p), and from Lulu Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu. .

Amazon have it on Kindle download here, and should have the print book in stock within a week or two.

If you decide to buy a copy, thank you. I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I loved writing them.

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Anthology of Creative Writing

I have been sitting on the fence the past few weeks wondering whether or not to publish an anthology of short stories to add to my Whomerley Wood Moat and Probate book titles.

image 2015 jun 19

There is quite a large collection of mixed genres, and many were written as assessed work during the Open University Creative Writing modules. And that has been the holding factor. The OU has, quite rightly, very strong rules about plagiarism and say they take a tough line if anyone is discovered copying the work of others. Although they seem to be happy to allow students to publish their work, my concern is that anyone doing so may be actively encouraging plagiarism.
While I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go ahead, I’ve been selecting what I think are my best bits of writing, reviewing each story in some depth, cutting, sometimes savagely, and rewriting extensively. Murdering my darlings I believe is the idiomatic term. However, I still felt some discomfort and that publication was not a wise move. Until last night, that is.
So, what has changed my mind?
Firstly, I have discovered it has been done before. And at least once with the unashamed blessing of the OU. In fact, Amazon have a number of student anthologies available for download as do sites such as Ink Pantry.
Then I realised that I wasn’t planning to publish ‘assessed work’ as such. The clue is included above. I have murdered my darlings. The work is not the same as I submitted on the modules. Hopefully it is more professional, more readable and more digestible!
And anyway, no-one will have access to tutor comments or advice, or indeed the marks awarded for each piece (although between you and me I did rather well). So anyone trying to pass my writing off as theirs is taking quite a chance.
Finally, the OU make extensive use of plagiarism detection software. If I go ahead and publish, there is a good chance that this software would quickly pick up any attempts to re-use what I have written. Plagiarism detectors are actually pretty good. I know because I used them a fair bit to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently copied something and failed to provide a citation.
So, my plan is to run through the editing process again, then again, and probably once again and then publish. Certainly it will be available as a Kindle download on Amazon, and as I’m a bit old-fashioned about this sort of thing I shall probably publish a printed version as well.
Right – now I need a catchy title and a cover design…

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Probate – Do It Yourself

New Book: Probate – A Personal Journey

This diary account of the time spent and expenses incurred getting grant of probate, with additional information and example spreadsheets, is now available to buy either as a Kindle download or a printed book.  If you are wondering whether or not to do it yourself, this might just provide all the encouragement you need.  You can start reading it for free on Amazon using ‘Look Inside’.

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How to buy this book:

Contact me directly for a signed copy (free UK p&p) by emailing phil@philwadner.co.uk

Amazon – Print version – Click Here

Amazon – Kindle version £1.99 (immediate delivery) now available Click Here

eBay, signed copy (free UK p&p) – search for book or look for eBay username Philsbookshop

Direct from publisher, signed copy (free UK p&p).  Please send payment with your requirements to PayPal account: editor@cadebooks.co.uk

Lulu Print on Demand    Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Book Details
ISBN                     978-0-9931987-1-7
Publisher              Cade Books
Publication Date   25th March 2015
Paperback            54 pages
Size                      A5, approx 15cm x 21cm
Interior                  Black and White

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The Disappearing Month

So, who stole the last four weeks? They have slipped by without me noticing. I know that time appears to pass more quickly the older you get, but this is getting silly. So, why do we oldies often say ‘The past few weeks have simply flown!’ ?
A quick web search pulls up an abundance of theories, but my favourite one has always been that each passing year is a smaller percentage of my life. When I was ten, school summer holidays seemed to last forever. Off on the bike with a pal to go fishing at the canal, rod tied to the crossbar, sandwiches for lunch and a bottle of pop in the saddle bag, each day lasted an eternity. One year was a tenth of my lifetime. Now that each year represents less than a sixtieth of my life, school holidays flash by. When I was 16, the five years I spent training under an apprenticeship lasted a quarter of my lifetime. But the five years since the last General Election in 2010 have whizzed past. Those five years now represent only about one twelfth of my life. So, the older I get the smaller the time intervals appear relative to my age and, probably, to my life expectation. I’m not sure when I started factoring how long I’ve got left into the equation, but it happened at some point. The difficulty here is the target. We have no idea whether we might reach it or beat it. My Mum made 59, my kid sister 47. Granddads and grandmas made it into their 80s. If I were to be told tomorrow that I only had four weeks to live, would they be the fastest four weeks of my life? Probably. Perhaps if I reckon on receiving that elusive birthday card from our Queen, each year will become a larger proportion and time might slow down for a while.
Then there’s the theory that the perceived passage of time is measured against major events. We start school, we fall out of tree, we get a new sibling or few, we go to secondary school, we suffer a broken heart, take our first trip abroad, start our first job. All those (and many more) memorable occasions are like milestones at the side of the road. But as we age, the milestones get more difficult to distinguish, and events become less important as they are often repeats of what has gone before. The milestones that do exist are spaced further apart. Did those early years seem to last longer because of all the truly memorable events crammed into them?
Another interesting idea is that as we age, we become slower at completing tasks. So what we used to achieve in a day, now takes two. Or simply gets left unfinished. Is it really us being slower, or is each hour of each day actually passing by more quickly? They are not, of course, but maybe this is one reason we think they are.
Did I mention processor speed? My knowledge of how brains work is fairly limited, but could they have a sampling rate that changes as we age? I wonder, because of the time I walked into a glass door. Bouncing off, I fell backwards, grabbing at a curtain on my way to the floor. My immediate recollection at the time was that I was falling in slow motion, as though those few seconds had been filmed with a high speed camera and I was playing them back at a normal rate. If the brain can play a trick like that, maybe there is a similar effect that makes time seem to pass more quickly as we get older. As the processor speed slows down, playing back earlier memories makes them appear to last longer than they actually did, so time now relative to then goes that little bit faster.

Best start thinking about what to get people for Christmas…

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Losing the plot? Or not?

The flush of success from Whomerley Wood Moat is fading a little and, although I’m over the moon with all the interest shown so far, I need a new fix! A deep heart-felt thank you to everyone who bought a copy of the book, and if you didn’t it isn’t too late. Just click on the Cade Books tab above for details about how to get a copy. And to wrap up this topic, here’s the half page spread that appeared in the local paper.
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I’m feeling a little empty after completing my BA(Hons) with the OU last October. The degree was spread over five years (regular readers will remember I studied three Level 3 modules, so did the honours year twice. For fun). That was five years filled with reading, learning, completing assignments, interacting with tutors and other students, keeping to deadlines and generally stressing out (in a good way). Five months after finishing, I’m missing the studying like crazy.

So, am I losing the plot to even consider starting up again? There are two options on the cards at the moment. An MA in English is one of them. The reading list is peppered with poetry from Milton’s Paradise Lost to Byron, prose from Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre to Robinson Crusoe and Foe, and plays from Antigone to Coriolanus. To be honest though, I’m not sure I have the passion needed to get sufficiently excited about works such as these. But I could try, and would probably find the study stimulating and challenging.

On the other hand, there’s the option of a BSc(Hons). The whole point of the BA was to get stuck into arts and creativity after a lengthy career in engineering science and technology. But I could sign up for some science modules, of which there are sure to be many that interest me, for a few years.

The only downside to further study is the expense involved. My BA was completed under what the OU called ‘transitional’ fees (which is why I swung an extra Level 3 while the cost was at the old rate). From now on though, the module fees will be more than three times what I paid.

Studying aside, there is still plenty of writing going on. There are two novels on the go. They were both started during NaNoWriMo, and are in various stages of re-writing at the moment. Then there’s an anthology of prose and verse containing some of the writing from the OU Creative Writing modules. It is interesting to look back at some of these pieces and to perform some much-needed heavy edits. ‘Did I actually write that?’ And I have some ideas for e-Books as well.

So, it isn’t that I have no choices.

Perhaps I’m just looking for an excuse to get out of that long list of jobs around the house!

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Whomerley Wood Moat, Stevenage

My booklet about the medieval moated site in Whomerley Wood, Stevenage has been published.  Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress Blog, or go direct by clicking here.

cover 1e

In fact, if you’re in a hurry to get a copy, hit this button!Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

That was a shameless example of self-advertising, was it not?! But, with Lulu having probably hundreds of thousands of books for sale, and Amazon having millions, how else would anyone know about my little offering!

I went with Lulu in the end. The decision wasn’t easy, as there are so many different aspects to consider and each POD publisher had their pros and cons. Out of desperation as much as anything, I ordered a book from Lulu to see how they performed and promised myself that if it came back looking good I would take the plunge. The postage seemed a bit steep at £2.99, but like many Oldies I still compare prices to what they were in the sixties when half a crown bought a plate of pie and chips in the local pub.

The book was ordered last Monday afternoon, it was printed on Tuesday and it dropped on the doormat Thursday morning. That was pretty good service whichever way you look at it.  The quality of the book is far greater than I expected, with a fabulous glossy colour cover and clear easy-to-read text inside.

The physical act of publishing with Lulu was a piece of cake. They take you by the hand and lead you step by step through the whole process, and to be honest there wasn’t a single ‘gotcha’ that I can recollect. Even when I chose to use my own ISBN, that was handled easily and with no hiccups. The cover design would have been a bit tricky had I not realised it could be designed offline with MS Publisher and then uploaded as an image. A bit of form-filling and a few boxes to tick, and that was it.  My baby was on sale!

So, Whomerley Wood Moat is now out there for anyone to buy.  If you do, thank you, and I hope you enjoy reading about the moated site as much as I loved researching and writing about it.

Whoops, I nearly forgot to tell you which book I ordered for the test run. It was a copy of Nature’s Gold, by Penny Luker. I am an admirer of Penny’s writing, and this book contains a selection of her poems. Some of them are deeply emotional (Undeniable Love), others are light and easy going (Sneaky), a few bring a chuckle or two (Don’t Buy Me Apples). All of the poems are engaging, and it is clear they have been written from the heart with a profound sense of perception. If you think you might like Penny’s writing too, find her at her blog by clicking here.

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The House in the Clearing – Update

The booklet about the Whomerley Wood moat in Stevenage is coming along nicely, and has grown quite a lot since the previous blog. I am very conscious though that there is a delicate balance to be struck between including generalities about medieval times and topics specific to the moated area. So, it is probably time to stop writing and start editing.

I had some useful feedback on how to press ahead with publishing (thank you!), and decided to try out two Print on Demand providers, Lulu and Blurb, by working up a test project using what I had written so far.

Blurb, which started off life predominantly as a provider of photo-books initially looked promising. However, my hopes were dashed when I uploaded my MS Word file and most of the formatting was ignored. This would largely have been repairable, if a lengthy process, but Blurb had also removed all of the end-note references I had included. I’m not sure how much citations add to the booklet, but since they do at least give my writing some authority I wanted to leave them in. The process also removed all the images inserted in the text. I decided to leave Blurb for a while, and return to it after trying out Lulu.

What a different experience Lulu turned out to be. I uploaded the same MS Word file, and it was replicated exactly, including all the images and the references to end-notes at the back. Experimenting with the covers was an interesting experience though, and the limited range of formats made it difficult for me to replicate what I had in mind. Until, that is, I realised I could upload an entire page as a jpg file, and use that. So, opening up MS Publisher for the first time since buying MS Office 2007, it wasn’t long before I had the front and back covers completed (although they will be probably change). Both of these uploaded perfectly, and are just what I had planned.

cover 1d

Lulu it is for me, then.  At least for this first venture. They will have the booklet listed everywhere important, and can also source an eBook version using what seems to be a simple process. But there is one thing I’m not sure about, and I wish Lulu was a bit more transparent on this point. It concerns the choice between using a free Lulu-provided ISBN or paying for an ISBN of my own. I know that having my own is a Good Idea, as it allows me to be named as the publisher and take control of the publication’s metadata recorded against the ISBN so that searches on Google and the like have a stronger chance of finding it. Also, there would be no US tax liability on sales to the US which would occur with Lulu as the publisher.  What isn’t clear, though, is what the difference is regarding how Lulu’s various distribution options are affected.  Everything seems to be available whether you use a Lulu ISBN or your own, but nothing is mentioned about any charges that might be made with the ‘own ISBN’ option. Maybe I’m being over-suspicious, but there surely must be a penalty for not allowing Lulu to be named as the publisher?

I shall probably go ahead with a free Lulu ISBN this time around, but wish I knew if I’m missing a trick!

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Self-Publishing, ‘The House in the Clearing’

I wrote in the previous blog about my fascination over the years regarding a medieval moated site in an area of ancient woodland where we regularly walk our Labradors.

It was no exaggeration when I said that very little information is available about the site, any buildings which may have existed there, and the people who lived in the moated area. But by knitting together snippets from around fifty sources, I have ended up with a 32 page A5 booklet!

The question is: What do I do with it now?

Because the topic is very local to Stevenage, it is unlikely that many people outside the area would be interested. On the other hand, medieval moated sites seem to hold a mysterious attraction for historians and archaeologists so there could be more widespread curiosity. For instance, Hertfordshire Association for Local History have said they would be interested to see a short article on the subject for publication in their journal.

It is tempting to take the plunge and have a go at getting it published. Although I have had articles in print in magazines and journals, the idea of publishing a booklet which is all mine is quite exciting. It could also act as a learning exercise should my two NaNoWriMo novels ever get re-drafted and polished up !

First, though, there are problems to overcome and decisions to be made:

It’s a 32 page booklet, so no-one is going to pay a lot of money to buy it. Colour printing is expensive and would probably price it completely out of the market. Trouble is, when I print the booklet on my laser in black and white, the lovely photographs I have included come out as smudgy rectangles. I’m going to try converting them all to greyscale images, but if they still don’t print then I shall have to consider leaving out the illustrations. That would make the booklet less attractive for a general audience, though, so I really want to keep the pictures in.

Should I use a Print on Demand house like Lulu or Create Space? I checked out a paperback on Amazon which had been made available through Lulu and it quoted 1-4 weeks for delivery. Four weeks sounds a real put-off to me. Create Space seems to print and ship from the US so I imagine that postage costs would figure highly with that option. The upside of using places like these is that they also provide marketing (to some extent) and distribution. The author doesn’t have to do anything. Consequently, the author doesn’t seem to be left with much either after everyone has taken their cut. Not that I’m looking to make money; it would be nice to get some of my investment in time and resources back though!

Maybe I should get a heap of copies printed from one of those self-publishing houses like York Publishing? How big a heap? Twenty? Fifty? One hundred? They would have to be stored somewhere warm and dry. And marketed. And I’d have to keep careful accounts, package the booklets and post off copies, chase up late payers. I don’t mind doing any of those things, though, so it is an option.

Perhaps I should simply print the booklets on my own laser. Be my own POD house, in other words. The results are quite good actually, and because it can print colour photographs that particular problem of image quality goes away. This could work for a smallish quantity, maybe twenty or so. I think even the cost of the laser cartridges could be accommodated in the price when I get around to thinking about that. But could I still sell them on Amazon, and arrange for e-Book sales, without someone like Lulu being involved?

Should I submit an abridged version of the booklet to Hertfordshire Association for Local History as requested? It might dilute the sales potential, but on the other hand it would be free advertising as well! If there were juicy bits, I could leave them out so people had to buy a paid for copy to get them. Alas, medieval moated homesteads don’t offer any juicy bits!

If anyone has some advice to offer about any of this, it would be most welcome.

In the meantime, a writer friend has kindly offered to read the booklet through, and I have also asked the curator at the local museum if she might do the same (no decision on that yet, though!). With the exception of any revisions being needed as a result, and sorting out the image quality, I could be ready to move forward in a week or two.

If only I knew in which direction I was going to move !

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