Posts Tagged ‘Almost There’

The definitive ‘Almost There.’

May 11, 2016
Almost There

Almost There

The book has now been uploaded in a few different versions which I prefer to name ‘editions.’ The nervousness of trying to work out the self-publishing trail on CreateSpace is almost palpable. Even so, one learns from mistakes a lot more than from perfection. So, please, if looking at the different versions, the book with the least formatting and/or spelling mistakes has the cover as shown above. It is now the definitive version of ‘Almost There.’

You might well notice a version (edition) of the book whereby even the name of the author is missing. I did not intentionally choose to be that modest. It might well show up the Author to be really ‘Not there at All.’

The Kindle version has done well and the paper back book is yet to be distributed and shown on all the Amazon outlets. I have ordered a box full (40) of the paperbacks for selling in Australia. The postage from the US does almost double the price of the book. Even so, it is still priced very competitively.

In the meantime, we are hardening ourselves for the onslaught of our grandsons to come over this Friday to ‘share’ the Eurovision music festival on our TV ( with the Philips sound-bar and large woofer.) They are coming by train which both the mother and Helvi are somewhat nervous about. I reckon it will do them good. The protection of children is ridiculous. Surely, train travel is normal and not as dangerous as is made out. Of course, the world-wide beaming of the attack on a train in Germany by a German National is not helpful. Again spouted as an act of terrorism doesn’t do much in bedding down the excessive fears of travel and nourishes fear the world over of stranger danger and terrorism.

We all know that the real terrorism is flourishing within family life. In Australia, two wives/partners a week get murdered by either the husband or partner. Domestic abuse is rife and far greater that those very isolated attacks by a deranged person shouting Allah is Great, before shooting or knifing someone.

I am surprised relationships are not banned or at least looked at by consumer protection bodies such as ‘Choice’, or ICAC. If fridges had failure ratings as much as relationships they would be banned. Domestic violence ‘incidents’ as notified to the police number several hundred EACH DAY.

Next time someone whispers, ‘I love you’, go and run for your life.

Instead, read a good book.

A Cattle baron or Pensioner?

May 6, 2016

Having just received a publishing contract for Almost There, I thought asking your advice. The PDF file I sent off some weeks ago did receive a favourable response from a UK Publisher from the salubriously situated address at the Canary Wharf, London. There was an oval table and an editorial board who decided that the words of the book’s synopsis and its first couple of chapters had enough merit to consider publishing. They asked for the whole book in Word file. I obliged.

I was overjoyed but somewhat baffled by an Editorial Board having a meeting and the somewhat profuse praise over submissions from an utterly unknown Author of which they must receive dozens, if not hundreds every day. Even so, who would not be pleased by some praise and smooth language? I can tell you, praise is always welcome and at my age, even a shopping trolley without going off a tangent makes my day.

After I sent off the entire manuscripts I was told it might take up to six weeks for a reply. Today, exactly about six weeks, I received a thick envelope By Airmail ‘1st Class Royal Mail,’ from Austin&Macauley, London, with a proposal and contract to publish my book. The covering letter confirmed that all the reports and further meetings by staff, editors and the ‘board’, my work was found to be interesting and engaging. Fair crack of the whip. Could it get any better?

However, after further board meetings, they also felt that due to the marketing team having some doubt about future sales and target audiences it would be best to come to an arrangement of a ‘contributing publishing’ arrangement. The contract came in Duplicate and already signed by the sub editor. The sum of the contribution would be 2500 pounds for a paper back and 3500 pounds for a hard cover.

The letter stated that my book does deserve to be published but the contributing sum asked was only small considering the very considerable costs involved in publishing and above all the marketing of the book. They also stated it would be well worth it, seeing my book would be launched for the reading public alongside other famous publications. My question is; Are they coming the raw prawn? Is it on the level? Twenty-five percent royalty? How many books do I need to sell to recuperate 2500 pounds, even if I live another ten years?

Is it possible they are massaging, assuaging my ego? Might they think of an Australian author as a rich cattle baron? You know, half a million hectares and fifty thousands heads of cattle. Do they see me wearing a slouch hat battling flies and fires while leaning against a fence post? A rich man wanting his book with photo doing the social rounds at Wangaratta or Oodnadatta?

I am a pensioner trying to sell and sharing words around, living with wife and Milo! I mean, I just received five proof copies of my well printed and imminently, (after further correcting,) readable book with over forty photographs and counting 277 pages, all printed for free through CreateSpace. The cost of the proof books airflight posting to Australia from the US, within five days of me finishing uploading the book was about $60.- Trust the Americans to be so efficient!

I don’t know. Google showed some unflattering remarks about publishers seeking contributions from authors. I could not believe my eyes receiving the CreateSpace proof copies today from the Post Office. They look terrific despite some faults and mishaps. I am proud having done it all. I made a mistake of re-sending the same file back again without the corrections. I was furious, but after some reflection decided to up-load the corrected file. This meant starting all over again, including re-designing the cover. It could only be done by making it a new ‘the second’ edition of Almost There, and includes a code number for inclusion in the Australian National Library.

The second new book I sent to the previous UK trusted editor. I have learnt a lot. I am warming up to order some fifty copies or so and will try an sell them through some of the local bookshops. Shall I carry them around in a satchel wearing a beret, knee socks and heavy work-boots?

Life is interesting.

The Budget.

May 3, 2016

Our family about 1960. Frank second from left.

Our family about 1960. Frank second from left.


Our treasurer, Mr Scott Morrison had all the manners of a Moses holding his staff moments before parting the Red Sea. In fact a sea of red and obstinate budget debts is really closer to the truth. In the aftermath of his reading of the budget and recommending it triumphantly to the House, he started to be interviewed and questioned by prominent journalists. Those, whose job it is to keep the finger on the pulse and report back to the population at large. Millions of viewers were glued to the flat screens, sound bars turned up, not a word to be missed.
Innovation, jobs and growth were the catch words.

Now if this was Germany or Finland, the innovation would be pared to alternative energy. You know, solar- wind, saving the planet, showing the world real innovation. Australia, the sunniest and windiest continent in the world, but…no. Not a word. Our PM knows his hands are tied. The old guard fuddy-duddies, the clueless uncles of clinging to the past still holding him to ransom. But, hang on, our Turnbull was going to change and steer us into the future. Get away from onion eating monarchy loving PMs.

Sadly, no such thing. Back to the past and sleep and snore…The LNP the slumber party.

As for the “Almost There,” just a few more days. The final proof has been done, but each time I open the file, another spelling or funny fault turns up. Yesterday an extra f in off. It should have been a single f. I am so sick of reading my own words. It is naval gazing at its worst. A kind of verbal attempt at bungie jumping at the end of a metal chain. A most jarring experience.

But, take heart, dear readers. I am almost ready to send my second book off to the editor, the brilliant David Burton in the UK. This time, the paper-back edition will appear first and then the kindle version. I have dug into my reservoir of short bits on my Word-Press blog and found enough for many publications into the future. In the meantime I will just ramble on as it comes. The aim is to publish the words in book format as well as on WP. I shall also try and upgrade the Heading of my blog, and advertise the books at the top that I have noticed many of you do as well.

There seems to have seeped a certain lethargy into the present. An autumnal sweeping of brown leaves swirling before the bare skeletons of trees shown up stark in the evening chill. Perhaps a trip up North to warm balmy ocean shores is needed. But then again, all that sand and harsh sun-light, bags of tourists’ fries and hamburgers wafting around. We are both lovers of shade and cinnamon. Perhaps a good walk with Milo will do the trick. We will be asked; ‘How old is your Jack Russell?’ ‘He is eleven now.’ ‘Gee, he still looks very young, almost like a puppy.’ Milo looks up, but goes into a fury when a Harley Davidson roars by. He strains at his lead. Intend on killing the bike and rider.

He lifts anyone’s spirit. He really does.

The margins are coming for you in Paper Back.

May 1, 2016
Bartering in the USSR (Moscow)

Bartering in the USSR (Moscow)

We all knew this. The best way to learn to ride a bike is on an old one. I did on my mother’s bike more than seventy years ago. It did not have the crossbar which made hopping on easier. On my dad’s old bike I used to put one of my legs through the opening below the cross bar and managed to ride it that way. The bike would be ridden all askew at an angle because most of the body-weight was on one side of the bike. So did all of my friends. I don’t think there were even children’s bicycles available in those days. We all rode large bikes just standing up and in all sorts of manners.

I notice now that many kids drive cars to high school near where we live. There is a procession of cars with P plates driving to and from school each day. Jeez, do my grandkids expect a car in a couple of years? Even the smaller children are being driven to school at primary level as well. Huge SUVs, often coloured menacingly black queue up. The little ones, almost level with the bull-bar are scurrying to school. The mum or dad wave a bit nervously, and drive off. Many, as a matter of fashion, also combine all the manoeuvring of car and kids holding a carton beaker or cup which probably holds a coffee, obtained somewhere before, most likely perhaps pre-ordered on the mobile phone by text or other electronic messaging.

We live in a fairly small town, and where previously the foot was used as the main form of moving from a-b, now it has to be the car. If economic rationalism has at its heart a refusal to spend money on the unnecessary, who or what is now the determinant factor? Who decides? Should the customer be abolished? At the moment we must spend rather than save. Spending thousands to drive kids with legs to schools seem to be as irrational as anything.

I will just go on with my words. I am much relieved my paper back version of Almost There is also almost there. I had a heck of a time with formatting and checking the proofs. Consider yourself lucky I am still here. Boy, have I got a lot of Word files now. Next time it will be easier. The CreateSpace (Amazon) have an excellent way of helping the self-publisher with a most responsive web-site, guiding one along.

I even managed to survive the US Taxation jungle; I am now holding a “Certificate of Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Entities).”

Almost There; ‘Fragments of a restless life.’ It sure is.

The conversion to ePub plus MOBI.

April 13, 2016

‘Tantalising close,’ would be an understatement. ‘What price would you like to sell your eBook for, Gerard?’ Can you believe it? Yet, this was the question put yesterday while filling in a form to convert the book ‘Almost There,’ to a format called ePub plus MOBI all done by the Australia Society for Authors. It hit like a bolt from the sky. But that wasn’t all. Try and understand how it felt when reading on the same form; ‘Please provide details of the bank account into which your sales revenue should be paid.’ Your name of account, the BSB number and account number. ‘Your sales revenue?’ Joy, oh joy!

I could hardly believe it and neither did Milo. Out of the goodness of my heart, I gave him not one but two raw chicken necks. He looked perplexed but did not muck about, burying one neck for later consumption. He is prudent when it comes to his food larder. Only yesterday, while digging at the front garden I uncovered one of his beloved pig’s ears. He was watching me. I left it near where I found it and after leaving the garden I observed him re-burying it again. I suppose, it had not quite reached the level of dead carcass decay that Milo likes when consuming a pig’s ear. It explains where that broodingly dark smell comes from when Milo is sitting between us on the console of our car just inches away from our own faces.

We are al prepared and ready for the onslaught. The grandkids are coming over. The school holidays are on again. We have stocked up on half a litre of cod-liver oil and promised if they behave they will get a nice treat. Last time, just a few weeks ago at Easter, they managed to use up our monthly allocated Telstra data in just two days. We only ever use up about 1/10th of our monthly data. Just imagine how quick kids can rack up bills for their parents? In our days we would be lucky to get a spoonful of cod-liver oil for our birthdays. Or, when times were really good, get a pair of hand-knitted grey coloured socks. By the way, cod liver oil as sold in the past in liquid form is now mainly dispensed in very silly and expensive little gelatine sugar coated capsules. However, Price-Wise chemists still sells this wonderful golden nectar in its full liquid form. So, rip into it while it still lasts.

The latest controversy about the effects on health by eating sugar might well bring the liver oil back into vogue. I can see people crossing the street, slurping it up. Cafés will be selling it as ‘liver oil latte.’ And liver pizzas. The return of slim people

Anyway, the book is ‘Almost There.’

Your order; 1×10 ISBNs have been purchased.

April 10, 2016

IMG_0836

The autumn is almost mid-way and the shadows are getting longer. Long shadows are so much better than none. The summers close to the equator are often harshly baked and shadowless, something that tourists ought to be informed about when contemplating a trip to the tropics or semi tropical regions. The waving stalky palms don’t offer shade as an ageing nodding oak would in milder climes.

Both of us have been re-planting things at the front of our home together with spreading cow manure and hardwood mulch. It looks better already. One sometimes wonders if gardening is not a better occupation than getting a book off the ground. In the past books could be used as door-stops or even hurled around when locked in a frustrating temper or to emphasize an argument knowing full well, we were wrong.

With e-books on Kindle or Amazon, even that little benefit might be harder to achieve. I remember and wrote previous about using a public toilet in Paris, realising too late it was sans toilet paper. In desperation I used a couple of travel cheques, noting first down the numbers for a reclaim. What was I to do; use a sock or my cotton hanky?

It took a while to understand the complexities of getting something published and thought that a friendly edit with the occasional inclusions or deletions of a couple of commas here and there would be about the worst of it.

In any case, at least with the 10 ISBN’s in possession, I feel it is at least getting there. The next move will be to push it towards a self-publish e-format that can be done through the service of the ASA ( Australia Society of Authors) which will also then suitably format it. I’ll be so pleased to actually find the book ‘Almost There,’ after searching it on the internet. I might even consider buying a couple of copies to kick it along. 😉

The published hard-print version by Austin Macauley is also still bubbling along even though, in case of a refusal or worse , the option of ‘print on demand’ by CreatSpace will be followed. The next book will be better, and having the benefit of hind-sight with better knowledge of Micro-soft Word 2013, it will be a cinch. At least a taller and larger shadow might be cast when asked; what is your occupation? ‘Oh, I am an author.’ This response has to be practised carefully and ought to be given without a slipping or sliding of dodgy eye movements. A nonchalant manner needs to be acquired, not an easy task.

In the previous picture painting days, the answer used to vary from house- painter to bank accountant, building contractor, renovator, share trader-dealer, art teacher, but rarely artist. Why was that so? I did answer ‘artist’ at the Dutch Government employment agency soon after our arrival back to Holland in 1973 with our three children. To my utter surprise a job was provided as an artist within a few days. It involved painting Dutch scenes on clock dials used in the manufacture of ‘antique’ Grandfather clocks. The following months I painted hundreds of those kind of scenes with windmills and lots of seagulls. The manager of this clock factory was very happy with them. For years I still look at shops selling those upright clocks but not once did I find an original Oosterman.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. (Publishers)

February 6, 2016
Frank on the left. Gerard with hair sticking up. In Rotterdam.

Frank on the left. Gerard with hair sticking up. In Rotterdam.

Nothing tried nothing gained!

As someone has pointed out before, WordPress is a form of self- publishing already. Why go through another version and paying for it? True, but my default position has always been the joy of writing down words. It probably dates back to my days of queuing up for confession before finding out that the old priest enjoyed Ma paw and her five nimble daughters just as  much as I did. Fancy signing up for a vow of life-long celibacy at fifteen before becoming a man of the cloth? Is it any wonder they used to whack school children mercilessly and revengefully with the strap or bamboo stick.  They were the benevolent ‘Brothers’ teaching at de La Salle colleges all over the joint. The guilt, and ‘that’ guilt that lingers for a life-time. They now queue up at Royal Commissions with the victims wanting justice and re-dress. But I am straying.

Even though the joy of writing is the reason, I am not that much without vanity to not actually linger fondly over the idea of my words getting published on pages of a book. It must be supremely satisfying to notice a complete stranger picking up ones book and leafing through it. Can you imagine?

This is why through the last week or so, I have been honing the synopsis of the book, ‘Almost There.’. It has to be as good as possible. Even the first few words might well determine a further read or a delete. Editors do that and get paid for it. Manuscripts sail rough seas and in many cases end up on rocky shores shared by depressed sea-gulls. They might well be tempted by snippets of some of those lost words.

So, over and over the synopsis I go. I have decided to send the final version to forty publishers in forty days. It could well be within the law of averages that I get a bite. In the (likely?) scenario that nothing comes of it, my second default position will then kick in.  I’ll pay for a nicely bound with large lettering book to be published by G.O.

In the meantime I find it all very exciting.  So, for starters I submitted to HarperCollins already and this Monday it will be Hachette’s turn with an improved version of the synopsis and fifty pages of the edited version of the book. We shall see!

I have finally, after almost coming to blows with my dear Helvi, managed to get the Amazon Kindle on my computer transferred to a portable device. It took weeks and no matter how often I pressed Sync., it refused to walk over to my laptop Kindle. I searched for an answer but found none. My laptop still doesn’t sync with my computer. It comes up with mysterious messages of an ‘unregistered Certificate.’ I tried everything but finally joined Amazon.com.aus  again separately on the laptop and transferred the bought copies of books by Roderick Hart and Hilary Custance Green. I can now read them at my leisure and don’t have to sit in front of the upstairs computer. I look forward to some solid reading of both writers. I like both already.

Seeking a Publisher.

February 2, 2016
Grapes, strawberries and figs.

Grapes, strawberries and figs.

In the early nineties I had a friend who was married to the chief Editor for the Australian division of HarperCollins Australian publishers. At that time, all I wrote were Christmas Cards or fill in Taxation claims.  I never thought I would or even could write. I am now going to submit a few thousand words of my book to them tomorrow.

I looked up if they were  open for submissions and surprisingly,  they still are.  But only on Wednesdays. They don’t accept; “plays, poetry, short stories, essays, mind body spirit, religious titles, health and fitness, children’s books and educational texts.” But will take for consideration; ” Adult fiction, particularly commercial women’s fiction, erotica, romance and young adult fiction. Non Fiction including memoirs, biographies, narrative histories and illustrated non-fiction.”

Most publishers seem to also take submissions more serious through an agent. It will get complicated. Fortunately, most of the information on publishing is available on the Internet, but ‘be aware’. Like sharks circling the carcases of those that have failed through  being overly gullible to the lure of fame,  remember, money is much easier to part with than to earn. Even in publishing, money raises its ugly head. I mean I am hoping that ‘Almost There,’ with musings of a philosophical nature included, gets a soft  and gentle landing not a rip-off.

It is the same with medicine or seeking advice on ailments. No sooner does one type ” erectile dysfunction” or “tooth ache”  in Google, and one gets beseeched by eager moneyed eyed Russian Ladies swooningly seeking love or Indian offers for Dental Implants.( on same day.)

I am taking on the advice that under no circumstance do you start a letter in sending a synopsis of your work by Dear Sir or Dear Madam. The Sir is most likely not knighted nor is  the Madam running a brothel. Do not fawn, rattle on, or feign a special fondness for books, reading and literature. Most people in the publishing industry chuck letters of submission in the bin within the first few vowels and consonants.  You have to achieve a rapport with the first paragraph or so. My back-up is to self-publish but I thought to try and submit first to publishers. It seems very tough to try and woe publishers. Don’t people get despondent? And then what? Eat a good bake or a spoonful of Syrup?

This what I got by sniffing around in the area of publishing and the first step to take. Check it out.!

“Your Address

Phone Number

E-mail

Website

 

Name of Literary Agent / Publisher

Address of Literary Agent / Publisher

Dear…the actual name of the literary agent or publisher.

First Paragraph

The eyes of a literary agent or a publisher are trained to scan. They have little interest in small talk introductions. They will always scan straight to the story being pitched. So never ever start with why you are approaching them, or why you love to write. They are so inundated with query letters that those opening sentences are monotonous irrelevancies to their eyes. Cut straight to the chase: the book in question.

They want five key details about your book in this opening paragraph:

  1. Title
  2. Word count (not page length)
  3. Logline*
  4. Genre
  5. The blurb**

*A one sentence pitch of your book

**Write a blurb for your book, similar to the ones you see on the back of every book. What the story is about, the main protagonists, and entice them with the ending.

 

Second Paragraph

This is your CV / Resume in a single paragraph. Pick out the more impressive aspects of your writing history and include them. Do not list them. Use prose to make them readable. If you do not have any writing credentials worth mentioning, then use this paragraph to explain why you alone are best suited to tell the story of your book. Show that you are an authority on the subject in question. This could either be that you did a similar job to the protagonist, or the lengths you went to in your research. This is also the section for you to mention why you are approaching them in particular. When you do so, do not under any circumstance mention another book you are writing, or planning to. Put all the focus on the one book you are pitching in the letter.

 

Third / Final Paragraph

End the letter with three points.

  1. Thank the literary agent / publisher for their time and consideration
  2. If it is a printed query mention that you have included an SAE / SASE for reply
  3. Emphasise that your manuscript is complete*

*Never send a query letter about a novel that you have not finished. Only Non-Fiction books are allowed to be pitched before completion.”

 

The greatest form of flattery. A literary ‘must.’

January 31, 2016

IMG_20150713_0001

In Finland 1966

A huge book of almost 800 pages is named; letters to Vera by Vladimir Nabokov edited by Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd. The amount of work that the editors/authors went through is mind boggling. It starts off with a list of Abbreviations and ends with a huge Index. It has a Bibliography and Acknowledgements.

My interest is more what is stated on the first page giving the summary; “without limiting the rights under copyright, and goes on about written permissions and copyright ownership.”

A lot of stuff is now stolen by copying and downloading on the internet without the original makers or creators being acknowledged or paid. However, in my case, please feel free. I would be so happy to get copied.  I claim no rights to any words or sentences. Nabokov died at seventy seven years of age after having written many masterpieces both in Russian and English.

I will be of the same age next year and hopefully will have self-published my first book of  ‘Almost There,-‘memoirs, with dubious and unreliable philosophical musings.’ I am again going through the thousands of words and am now googling formatting. What about a Foreword. Should it have an index of chapters or headings. What about spacing, size of pages or lettering? Should I dedicate it! Do I acknowledge anyone. Be aware of possible libellous statements? It just never ends.

I can perhaps lay claim and copyright to my Leeks and Potato bake. The inclusion of sour cream instead of just plain milk makes it uniquely my recipe. I know that it is mine and Helvi’s favourite, with pancakes and Golden syrup coming in at a close second.  Of course with pancakes comes the use of butter-milk which I know other cooks use as well.

Did you know that in Australia during the fifties and sixties, wives were sometimes introduced as ‘the cook,’ or worse ‘my cook.’ It happened to Helvi once on the farm when someone asked me; where is the cook, meaning Helvi. H did not like it and told the man so, who had referred to her as  ‘the cook.’ He stopped doing it to us, but I bet you he continued it with others. Anyway, feel free to copy the words or recipes.

What is it again that Imitation is the best form of flattery?

The pernicious Comma and other Dodgy Literary Devices.

January 27, 2016

Reflecting on the many omissions of commas and other matters of punctuation in ‘Almost There,’ I read some more of Anne Tyler’s ripping tale  ‘A spool of blue thread.’  (Note the quotation mark after the full stop.  I have come a long way!)

With so much still to learn, I now seem to read only the punctuations and not the story anymore. I just want to find out how to go about it. The little booklet; My Grammar and I, by Caroline Taggart is most helpful. Actually, I am reading Anne Tyler’s tortuous tale of family upheavals and other disasters, more for the quotation marks than the story. I have enough on my plate just with that.

I mean, what to make of a dangling participle, or modifying clauses? Are my dangling participles showing up as well? As soon I conquer one of those grammarian items another pops up. Give us a break.

Our home

Our home

Here another bit to pore over from, ‘Almost There.’

Those with good memories would know that, thanks to Germaine Greer, the bra was more and more seen as a fashion article of enslavement, a tool to keep them (breasts) propped up, purely for the sake of looks and salivating males. It went further and it was suggested, they were designed together with girdles and make-up, as a ploy to keep women shackled to the kitchen sink and nappy buckets. It was therefore also suggested to ditch the bra and if a droop resulted, be proud and walk tall. Together with ditching the bra, radical lesbianism was embraced.

I never witnessed any bra burning or rampaging lesbians but do remember going to a party held at a professor of philosophy house who insisted all women hang their bras on the front door knob before allowed in. They all did, and it was one of the more memorable parties in Balmain.

I have been credited in Balmain, still even today, of having lifted the ban, not on bras, but on men not being allowed to babysit. The stranglehold of some women on insisting only women would be allowed to babysit was broken when in all innocence I turned up one evening. A nervous mother made a hurried telephone call to the secretary, and after a while, it was decided I could baby sit. The year was 1973. With my Dutch and Helvi’s heritage I never even thought that it was solely the domain of women in our home countries to sit on babies. Anyway, it was different then in Australia. From the early seventies, 1973 to be precise, men were allowed to babysit at each other’s houses. It was a male revolution on par with bra burning. You can thank Gerard for this!

It was odd that some women felt emancipated by going bra-less and yet thought that it was a bit dodgy for male friends to do some babysitting.

It should be written up in our history books or at least on Wikipedia.