Tag Archives: self-publishing

Walking on Custard

I have a new release coming up. Walking on Custard by Neil Hughes will be released on 31 March 2015 but you can pre-order it now here

Inner critic: I can’t believe you’re doing this…


Inner critic: I mean, it’s bad enough you WROTE this damn book, now you’re TELLING everyone about it as well? You do realise how embarrassing this is going to be, right? You’re like a chimp driving a stolen car. You have no IDEA of the consequences. Just stop already!

My inner critic has some reservations about this article, it seems. But then he had a number of reservations about the book, too.

He reckoned that a comedy book about anxiety was a guaranteed disaster.

Inner critic: In fairness, that’s mostly because it was an idiot like YOU writing it. The idea is fine.

But I went ahead and wrote it anyway. Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life explains how I learned to be less anxious, mostly by telling embarrassing personal stories… mixed with flights of outright fantasy, badly-drawn graphs and philosophical discussion of anxiety and happiness.

Inner critic: I’m in it too! I’m the best bit. Tell them about me!

Sigh. Yes, my inner critic is in it too. But don’t let that put you off. It’s still a fun read. And even a helpful one for those struggling with anxiety, or who want to get to know themselves better.

Or, I suppose, for those curious enough to want to know the Meaning of Life. But who would be interested in that…?

Inner critic: Really? THAT’S your attempt at a hook? Pretty obvious and lame, Neil. Lucky your book is better than that, or –

Aha! I knew you liked it really! And you just admitted it publicly!

Inner critic: Aw, nuts.

If your inner critic is as annoying as mine – or if you’re anxious, self-critical, unsure, in need of a laugh or confused – then check out Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life: A Guide for Anxious Humans.

AN EXCERPT FROM Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life (999 words!)

It was late 2010 and I was sitting at my desk at work. My life was broadly satisfying. I was settled into a new job, and my social life in a new city was budding. I was writing a book (I wrote one, it was rubbish), and had just done my first stand-up comedy gig, to mostly universal acclaim (of the people who’d been there, which was more than enough for me). And I was dating a girl I’d secretly liked for months. All was well.

Yet, on this day, suddenly, I felt awful. I had noticed a slight unease earlier, but now my head was spinning and my heart was pounding. I was terrified. I imagined the embarrassment of falling apart in front of my colleagues, and forced myself to sit still, hoping that no-one had noticed what was going on. Whatever it was.

I went to the little office kitchen and looked outside at some trees. Possibly somewhere in the back of my mind I thought this would help me connect with nature and make me feel better.

It didn’t.

In fact, the normality of everything outside contrasted with my spinning sense of falling apart, and I felt worse still.

I returned to my desk. At lunchtime I liked to watch a comedy show, a treat I usually looked forward to all morning. As the familiar sound of the theme tune started up in my headphones I put my fingers to my neck to feel my heartbeat thumping. What is that… like… 120 beats per minute? Am I dying?

I couldn’t concentrate. I closed the browser tab. I wasn’t even in the mood for laughter. Something was seriously, seriously wrong.

I left work early and went to the doctor convinced I must be ill. Something was wrong with my stomach, perhaps. In the back of my mind was an insistent thought that I was severely sick. I could not shake the thought.

This non-event began a lengthy anxious period. Every day I woke up feeling a heavy dread, my chest tight and my heart pounding. I couldn’t concentrate, only pretending to engage while my inner monologue desperately screamed about how awful everything was. I said no to social engagements in case I fell apart and embarrassed myself and everyone would know what a fraud I was.

I dreaded everything. Mostly, I dreaded continuing to feel like this. But I couldn’t see how it would stop, so I sought to explain how it started.

I was certain there must be a physical cause. I had stomach aches, headaches, bowel problems, racing heart, dizziness and shortness of breath. Surely these must point to the underlying cause. I simply had to find what was wrong and then all would be fixed. Or so I hoped.

I searched online. I diagnosed myself with every disease humans can catch, and probably some that they can’t. I saw multiple doctors, and signed up for blood tests, urine tests, fecal tests, scans, allergy tests, reaction tests and the bar exam.

(Well, maybe not the bar exam. But I would have, if I thought it might help.)

One day I even had a surprise endoscopy.

I should probably explain the endoscopy. It wasn’t exactly a surprise. Obviously I knew I was having an endoscopy. A certain amount of co-operation is required, after all.

The surprise was that, somehow, I hadn’t really considered what an endoscopy meant.

If you don’t know, it involves a scope going, er… in your end. Pleasingly, the word describes itself: End-o-scope-y.

I optimistically believed it would be a quick in-and-out procedure, so to speak. I’d nip to the hospital, there’d be a momentary discomfort, and I’d soon be on my way, finally armed with the answer to what’s wrong with me.

Five minutes, at most.

Two hours later, as I lay in a hospital bed, naked but for a backless gown (having reluctantly been forced to hand in my clothes, my mobile phone and my wallet), I wondered if perhaps I should have told my colleagues – or in fact, anyone at all – that I was going to the hospital for a procedure and that I might be late to work.

Several hours later, I uncomfortably boarded the bus home. I never made it to work that day. But I did have a story that greatly amused my housemates that evening.

Some days I’d feel better, some worse. But every day I feared that today would be the day I’d “lose control” or “lose my ability to cope”. I wasn’t sure what I was failing to cope with, exactly, but it was clearly something. I became terrified of driving, of getting trapped in traffic, or being on a train, or in a crowded place like a theatre. I was afraid that there was something deeply and irretrievably wrong with me.

And every day I searched for more possible causes, figuring that if I could just understand why then I’d finally be able to fix everything.

Maybe it’s subconscious trauma. Or delayed grief for the death of my father. Maybe it’s carbon monoxide poisoning. Or brain cancer. Or an allergy. Am I getting enough exercise? Or doing too much? It could be my environment. My life choices. Did I say brain cancer already?

Even – finally – accepting that there was nothing physically wrong with me didn’t help. Now I couldn’t understand how to fix myself mentally. My frightening online research indicated I had several anxiety disorders. At least.

I was afraid of the feelings. I was afraid they’d never stop.

This book is the story of how I came to understand and handle these feelings. Maybe you’re in a similar situation. If so, you have my sympathy. At the risk of getting uncomfortably poetical, this is a pilgrimage I’ve travelled myself, and I understand how arduous it is to pass.

But before we talk about exactly how, I’m afraid that there are things we must discuss regarding custard and physics…


Pre-order now here 



Earlier in the month author Nicole Delacroix share with us a really interesting article about how to market your books and you all seemed to love it. And I am really pleased to present another article which I am sure will be as informative. This time Nicole is talking to us about Createspace. I love Createspace myself but I know that using it and making it work for you can be a real hurdle so I hope this helps and you can learn more about Nicole here: http://nicole-delacroix.com/


Guest post: Self-Publishing: How To Capitalize Using Createspace

By Nicole Delacroix, author “Glimpse of Darkness”

With major advances in technology publishing has left behind the hefty price tags and entered the realm of the digital age.  With a free online setup, access to the Kindle Direct publishing, and even options to produce an audio version all within a few clicks, Amazon is the indie/self-publishers dream come true.  Even traditional publishers see the major benefits to print on demand and EBooks and indie/self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it once did just a few years ago. Amazon currently owns Kindle Direct Publishing, Createspace, and Audible.com as resources for the indie/self-publisher.

Print-on-demand is quickly becoming the fastest, most profitable and easiest way to get your voice heard.  Createspace even offers the option to distribute via traditional channels and stores like Barnes & Noble and Booksamillion and even academic libraries.  The truth in indie/self-publishing is that most people searching Amazon or browsing a book shelf don’t even question whether the book was printed by a publishing company or independently produced.

There are many advantages to going the indie/self-publishing route and there are many different options available to the independent writer.  One thing that you need to be aware of is that when you indie/self-publish you don’t get the marketing resources that would come with a traditional deal, but if you’re social media savvy and willing to work hard, you can make it work for you.  I will focus primarily on my personal experiences with Createspace, so remember that while this is one example, there is an option that fits every need, you just need to find what works best for you.  Many of the traditional services are also available via Createspace for a nominal fee.

Here is a step-by-step guide to publishing your own book using Createspace based on my experiences:

Step 1: Create

This really is the heart of the process, writing your book.  Make sure to include all the necessary parts: introduction, acknowledgements, dedication page, table of contents, title page, copyright page and if you’re feeling lucky a blank page for that all important autograph!  You can choose to prepare your files yourself or you can use Createspace professional services.  There is a free user friendly templates you can download to format your book.  Once you’ve completed the formatting process you simply export to a PDF format and you’ve got a print-ready file.



Step 2: Setup

Now that you’ve finished the most important step, writing that book and formatting it, now it’s time to add it to the Createspace site.  Again, the process is step-by-step and guides your through any possible pitfalls.  If you haven’t already set up a free Createspace account, you need to do this.  Even though Createspace is owned by Amazon, they really are independent of the Amazon network.   The first landing page you should see is the member dashboard – if this doesn’t load for you, you can access via the My Account pull down.  Here’s where all your projects will live and breathe.

You will start by clicking the big friendly Add New Title button; from here you will fill in your book title, description, credits, choose a book size and a paper color and finally upload your files.  I personally didn’t use many of the Createspace services as I decided I wanted complete control.  I hired my own cover artist to do the artwork and formatted the book myself.  You can use your own files for both your interior and exterior data.  Createspace does have a free stock photo library for cover art – remember you can’t use art without permission from the artist – so if you’ve decided you like that picture you downloaded three years ago from some art site that you don’t remember now, you’re better off getting new art.  There is also a paid service where you can commission artwork from the Createspace site, but I found my own artist (who is a GENIUS) and got exactly what I wanted.

**Side Note** if you’re looking for an artist, find work that you love and reach out to the artist.  Most artists are open to doing commissioned work just remember they expect to receive payment in half on agreement and balance on delivery.  Know what you want, provide character descriptions, pictures if you have them, anything that helps put into focus what you want, and then let the artist give you their vision.  My book cover would have been 100 times different if I didn’t let my artist give me what he knew I needed to make my cover art work.

Now that you’ve uploaded your files, it’s time to choose your book’s ISBN number.  Unless you’re planning on re-publishing or distributing your book with a traditional publisher in the future there isn’t much value to paying for your own ISBN, so I went with the free Createspace assigned ISBN.

Step 3: Review

Now that everything looks the way you want and you’re happy with your masterpiece, it’s time to submit your files to the Createspace team for review.  This consists of an automated file checker (which depending on the size of your book can take a while) that makes sure you didn’t color outside the lines (margins people, margins) and then a manually review which can take up to 24 hours.  If you’ve formatted correctly, you should pass the auto check without an error (things like embedding fonts happen, they will embed them for you, just click ok!) and you’re off to the manual check.  This is a little more drawn out as a staffer will check page by page to make sure the auto check didn’t miss something.  Please note, they will not check for editing mistakes, spelling mistakes or content issues.

If you take the time to join the community any first-time author will be advised to view multiple proofs of their book until you’re satisfied.  This doesn’t require purchasing multiple copies (although I suggest at least a few purchased runs) as you can digitally proof your masterpiece.  I only suggest a purchased copy when you think you’re ready, you need a least three to five people you trust (preferably someone who is a dedicated Grammar Police Officer) to run through and look for all the misspellings, typos, grammar issues and proofing issues.  Each person will locate something the others didn’t and you’ll be glad that they catch it before you go live.

The last thing to consider before you hit the big “Approve” button is a Library of Congress Number (listed under Marketing as LCCN assignment – please note there is no guarantee that your book will be listed and you must meet the requirements).  If you want to have a chance of listing your work in the Library of Congress, you MUST submit for the number BEFORE you approve.  You will need to add the LCCN number to your copyright page before you approve, Createspace will take care of sending the project to the Library for you – it’s included with the fee.  Is it necessary?  Absolutely not, it’s more of a prestige item, and there is no guarantee that the Library will even list your book, but if you want a shot at being listed, it’s there.

Step 4: Distribution

So you’re finally ready to hit the “Approve” on your proof, you’ve made sure you have no mistakes and your literary genius is finally ready for the literary world at large.  Now it’s time to set up your distribution information and select your sales channels.  This is where you determine how much you want to charge for your masterpiece and how much you want in royalties. Createspace has a little say in what you need to charge based on the book size, number of pages and the type of paper you’ve selected.  But as long as you hit that base price, you can charge as much above that as you feel comfortable with.  My suggestion is to play with the royalty calculator before you decide on the format and size for your book.  Of course, the format is going to affect the number of pages, so you need to keep this in mind as well.

Createspace currently doesn’t offer a hardcover option, so if you’re looking for the fancy dust cover and hardback edition, you’ll need to supplement your publishing options and look for an additional source for this edition.  If you do this, remember the Createspace ISBN will not work for the hardcover edition you will need to opt for a paid ISBN.  Bear in mind that most independent authors don’t profit from hardcover editions as they cost more to print.  It’s something you have to decide for yourself as it affects your retail pricing and royalties and any personal cost to buy books for promotions.

After you set your pricing you choose your distribution channels.  You will automatically receive the option for Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, Createspace EStore and you can add in the Expanded distribution (free!) for bookstores and online retailers, libraries and academic institutions and even Createspace Direct.  All of which are free to use, but remember the more channels you choose, the more it affects your pricing and royalties.  I myself chose the standard distribution but only opted for the bookstores and online retailers from the Expanded distribution.  For my title, the rest didn’t hold any value, so I didn’t need them.  Remember, just because you select the channel, doesn’t mean that you’re going to walk into a bookstore and see your book, but the title is available for them to order.  Amazon listings take between five to seven business days to fully populate, and if you publish on Kindle, you may see two listings for a few days as they meld your paperback and Kindle editions into one listing, as Douglas Adams said “Don’t Panic”!  Eventually within a few business days your masterpiece will be listed as one entity, paperback and Kindle versions.

Once you have your initial listing, you can update it with additional information or edits via Amazon Author Central (www.authorcentral.amazon.com – you will be required to open an author account).  Here’s where you can create a nice landing page for your full bio and headshot, anything that may increase your sales.  All in all, Amazon is responsive to requests, they have kind courteous staff that is available to answer any first-time author questions via phone or email support, to guidance and help throughout the process.

Step 5: Sales & Marketing

Now your masterpiece has made it to the final and most important part of the process, getting the word out there.  I missed the mark and didn’t start marketing my book until I had actually finished my book.  The truth is that you should be marketing your book at least six months before you’re actually going to publish.  This gets your name out there, via virtual blog tours, social media, and traditional marketing routes.  However, Createspace again has a suite of on-demand marketing solutions to help you make your masterpiece well known.  Everything from press releases to video trailers, they have everything you could need.  I personally didn’t use any of these services, rather choosing to fumble on my own, but I had the good fortune of having a marketing professional at my disposal.  Amazon also offers up-to-date sales reports so you can track how well your work is selling.

Remember, it’s never too soon or too late to start plugging your work, so go ahead and tease the masses with a little taste of what you’re writing.  Build up your social media followers (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.); make sure to use your personal website/blog as the focal point.  Everything should point to one main landing page for your work, and everything pointing should be in line (formatting) with your main site.  If you’re HTML savvy, this will be an easy chore for you, if you’re not I suggest finding a good professional to assist.  There is nothing worse than an unprofessional landing page, it’s one thing to be fun and silly, it’s another for your product to appear this way.

In closing, with the ease and cost-effectiveness of Createspace it’s no wonder that in 2012 there was a 59% increase in self-publishing titles over the previous year[i].  Even now, self-publishing still remains a new frontier for independent publishers, which means it’s the perfect time to jump on board.

For more information regarding the author or their work, please visit www.nicole-delacroix.com

[i] Bury, Liz, ·  theguardian.com, Friday 11 October 2013 07.10 EDT, “Self-publishing boom sees 59% increase in DIY titles”



Terence Park

This is a post for all you indie authors about inspiration, influences and science fiction. This is a must read for all your aspiring SF and Fantasy authors from a really talented author Terence Park.


Influences. We’ve all got them. Who looks at theirs? It’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time on but I suppose mine began with Space Westerns. Of course I didn’t call them that; not then. An aspect of Space Westerns that I’ve found interesting, I call Backwoods SF. I’m going to look at that and see where it leads.

What’s in a term

Backwoods: Not in the big city; wooded or partly cleared and far from a city; remote or culturally backward.
SF: Fiction with healthy doses of scientific speculation.
Big cities: where decisions are made and where the politicians who make them hang out. These are places where the rewards are compelling and what’s on offer is a cosmopolitan style of life, new technologies, new (and laxer) social mores. They are where it’s at. Yet cities are also at the sharp end. In a way they’re the kitchen of civilisation – if you can’t stand the heat you get out. Big city life is demanding and unforgiving. Trust is in short supply. Can-do writ large morphs into opportunism. It has more than its fair share of thieves and crooks. Let your guard down and you suffer. Those who dwell there know it’s the price they pay for living at the apex of civilisation. City Slickers, if they think on it, will consider those in smaller cities, towns, villages… as further down the slippery slope of success.
Stories to entertain that market will need big themes, something to lift the reader above the overpowering presence of masses of people. By its very nature, most Science Fiction gravitates to a city point of view. But not all. There’s a strand connecting to the realities of rural life. Backwoods SF is as far away from Space Opera as you can get.

Writers in this area

Clifford D Simak and Robert Heinlein spring to mind. Robert Heinlein needs no introduction. He works this strand well in novels such as Red Planet, Farmer in the Sky, Tunnel in the Sky and Starman Jones. Heinlein’s works are suffused with the self-determination and individualism that is often seen as American in character. His heroes rely on their own judgement and skills and have a healthy disregard for overbearing authority – jumped-up men in suits. This is not unfamiliar territory to those who read Westerns.

Tunnel in the Sky cover

Tunnel in the Sky

Rod Walker steps through a gate to do a survival course on an alien planet. The planet is a wilderness and he’s there for a week. But after the course ends, the gate doesn’t reopen. He’s marooned. There are others trapped there just like him. They work together to build a place to live. In this work, Heinlein shows the best and worst of human nature.

Clifford D Simak was an exemplar of Backwoods SF. His settings were often rural and his heroes, backwoodsmen. When his stories concluded, he often left mysteries hanging. His work was usually described as gentle and pastoral. Clifford said of his work:

Overall, I have written in a quiet manner; there is little violence in my work. My focus has been on people, not on events. More often than not, I have struck a hopeful note… I have, on occasions, tried to speak out for decency and compassion, for understanding, not only in the human, but in the cosmic sense. I have tried at times to place humans in perspective against the vastness of universal time and space. I have been concerned where we, as a race, may be going, and what may be our purpose in the universal scheme—if we have a purpose. In general, I believe we do, and perhaps an important one.
In his hands fiction became something greater than homespun story-telling.

All the Traps of Earth cover

All the Traps of Earth

In All the Traps of Earth, Clifford twists and turns through each story so the reader can rarely guess where each will end. Many of these tales mix his sense of the homely rural and suburban against a backdrop of the alien and cosmically vast. The title pice shows a robot closing down the accounts of the Barrington family, to which he belongs. The problem is the last of the Barrington’s just died. That means he (the robot) will have to have his personality erased. These short stories remind me of PK Dick.

The rural / outdoor life; what is it? It’s not just city economics; labour + materials + process = result; there’s a whole lot more it than that. Those who live the outdoor life see something different; they see the pattern and flow of nature. This is brought out through the story. Character emphasis will be different, its development will be refocussed; regardless of whether it’s set in the outback of some place on Earth, or in the big back yard of another planet. This becomes the baseline. Contrast it with the unknown / alien; the two will be very different. These pre-built extremes are ready to generate conflict; the known matched off against the strange and unknowable. If you’re the writer, you’ve now some variables from which to draw the characters of both hero and alien. Your protagonist loves nature? Nature gets in the way of the alien. Your protagonist knows how to track a trail, the alien uses gadgets for that… and so on. From there you can start to flesh out your alien’s back story which will in turn determine further traits. A delight for the writer and hopefully, the reader.

UK Outback = up North

I always felt that Backwoods SF was an interesting notion to develop. However, here in the UK we don’t have no outback. It’s hard to be a long way from Big Cities in the UK – the nearest one to me, Manchester, is a mere 15 miles off. I live in Rossendale. Still; I empathise to being disconnected from the hustle and bustle of city life. I guess if I worked there (as I have in the past) that that would vanish, and the disconnect might well transfer to the place I live. We’re admonished: write what you know – it gives your work authenticity. I know small town life and it informs my narratives. So that’s what I plug into them.

Bundling these together can lead to interesting and intellectually satisfying results. For example: where does an alien on the run go? Does he / she go to ground? or go to the most important person they can find, perhaps pretending to be the ambassador of an advanced race? Could the alien become part of a technology transfer trading setup? Heading for the President or someone in authority sounds superficially attractive. This is actually a snag, if you’re on the run, as that’s the first place a pursuer would check on. Symbols of power mean a lot on technologically undeveloped worlds and it’s easy to work out who makes decisions. A lot depends on how thorough pursuers are likely to be, and how well versed they are in the craft of information gathering.

Alien as Refugee

This is what I did in Lucky (named for my alien heroine). Lucky rejects most of the above as too likely to get noticed and decides to go to ground. She second-guesses human intolerance and, rather than go to a big city, chooses to settle in a town. She finds a place where ‘one more’ makes little difference; where the chance of being outed as a true outsider is low. The country she chooses, the UK, has large scale, on-going immigration. She works on her back story: she is a refugee (just not from Earth). Knowing my locale, the rationale for why an alien might choose to hide there seems plausible.

Writing point: you know your neighbourhood. Write it. It gives a voice to your area. Done well, it sounds authentic. Or you can always research. If you’re a writer, you’re always researching – even when you’re not!

What aliens do you do?

At some point, you, as author will want to move from unknown, presumed hostile aliens, to something a little more sophisticated – imagine your Nth alien saying its equivalent of “I am Dalek. I exterminate” – that gets kind of repetitive. Before we look at this further, there’s another aspect that deserves some attention; human reaction. Alienness gives the opportunity to stoke up fear of the unknown. If there’s one thing to provoke humanity to a killing frenzy it’s fear of the unknown. Run with that and you have something for your alien to second guess. That’s assuming your alien’s intellect takes precedence over its instincts; it could of course be a predator, come to hunt, or a feeder / breeder that hosts on anything alive (like Giger’s alien). This elicits a primal response. Is that your only aim?

Alien as Victim

A key alien character in A Guide to First Contact knows there is no means of returning home. She starts in the hands of authority and, without the opportunity to develop a good back story, her options are limited. Were she to escape, the pluses and minuses for big cities come into play. Big can mean easier to hide in; but also harder to stay out of  reach of those who would go out of their way to identify her and hound her, or profit from her. They would never let her alone. Recognising the inherent threat in humanity, she is forced to suffer in a secret laboratory. She becomes a victim. If you know no one, who can you turn to? I give my aliens difficult choices but they don’t all respond the same way. Some display the manners of cultured guests at a dinner party while others behave like opportunists (a trait we know so well).

This kind of talk suggests another look be taken at characterisation. As a writer, you’ve developed characters in contrast to alienness. But this then provokes you to round out your alien characters. Do you make them accessible? give them traits to which we can connect? Here, Zenna Henderson is worth noting because she pays particular reference to sympathetic alien portrayal. The two works I have of hers are The People: No Different Flesh, and Pilgrimage. As a rule I mix it up. A twist of inscrutability, some sympathetic traits plus, where appropriate, reference to the places you know.¹

Pilgrimage cover


Zenna Henderson wrote about alien exiles in the American midwest, who call themselves the People. They live in secret but come across as gentle and more akin to the spiritual side of humanity. Their flight from their doomed home world left them scattered across the US and Pilgrimage documents their stories as they try to find each other.

Lucky is mostly set in Codwich, a fictional town in the North of England. It felt appropriate to add some reference to its Celtic and Anglo-Saxon heritage. She asks a tramp about himself:

“You didn’t tell me your name,” Lucky called from the kitchen. She listened, but his only answer was quiet silence. Another sensitive area? She racked her brain for another tack, while she prepared the teapot. The kettle came to a boil and she dug out a tin with a still unopened pack of Rich Tea biscuits.
“I’m researching, you know.” he called.



Lucky added milk to the jug and brought in the tray, flushed with the success at having made a cup of tea for her first visitor. She looked at her small table, puzzled; he had emptied his pockets onto it. In the corner nearest him was a dirty handkerchief, tissue paper and a crumpled carrier bag. Covering the rest of the space were several plastic cards and heavily creased paper documents. His arms trembled but he swept them aside to make room for the tray.

“What are you researching?”

“Many things. Codwich, Coed y Ffin – tree bordered?” She knew how words morphed over time and recognised the Anglo-Saxon rendering of the original Cumbric term for the town. Few would. ²

Stretches of Guide are pastoral. Easing in a local reference was tricky. Sometimes, all that’s possible is a reference, meaningless to all but a few. Here, an amateur conspiracy investigator who’s tracking down a missing astronaut, retires for the day, baffled:

Maybe there really was redaction style webware out there.
So, her name was a no-go area. Did that apply to the other crew members? No way to tell, but based on Ms Singerton it was likely.
Something to chew over while watching soccer on Sky-Fox. The Clarets playing the Gunners. No wine, no firearms. Where did they dream up these names from? I would have flicked the channel but didn’t have the energy. ³

The Clarets is the nickname of my home town team who have been a Championship side since 2000; as of the time of writing – 18/11/14 – they look like making a return by the end of the season. Predicting they’ll be playing Arsenal in Premier League, March 23rd, 2019? Now that’s Science Fiction!

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine
Clifford D Simak


¹ Aristotle’s Poetics

The rules to creativity were outlined in antiquity by Aristotle in a work that came to be known as the Poetics. I haven’t seen a satisfactory translation of this piece but if you cut through the philosophical trappings, you can see the granddaddy of works on writing; it dealt with issues that writers still deal with.
Section 4.3: poor characterisation makes poor tragedy
(although this section sees Aristotle talking of tragedy, this has much wider application)
Section 8.1: In all things: is this plausible? probable?
Section 11: things may be portrayed as they should be, even if they aren’t
My notes on Aristotle’s Poetics are here.

Author references

² Lucky p47

Lucky is on the web as Lucky and other stories
Lulu: 21617090 (UK Crown Quarto)

Lucky cover


³ Guide p240

Guide is on the web as A Guide to First Contact. The title is an ironic play on words.
Lulu: 21455011 (US A5)
Lulu: 21444383 (UK Crown Quarto)
Lulu: 21444388 (UK Case Wrap)

Guide cover


Web sites
My Telegraph