Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

Thursday, December 30, 2010

At last, the Most Glorious Cover!!

A Cover! A Cover! My Kingdom for a Cover!
Part 3

Good day my well regarded viewers, I hope this missive finds you all in excellent health, now in the midst of the twelve day yuletide festival! I hope that the huge Christmas Day feast has left you satisfied and replete. Rather than as some of my patients who were in urgent need of a purgative to cure from the pain of excessive indulgence? I know it almost did me in and our Christmas repast erred on the lighter side of dinning. If not for the swift recourse to my handy medicinal cabinet and a cinnamon and ginger hippocras. I too would have succumbed to a groaning stomach. I cannot recommend it highly enough a wonderfully efficacious restorative! I have included a simple recipe from the popular The Booke of Kervinge and Sewing (London: 1508) Tudor period tome on housekeeping.

Take ginger, pepper, graines, canell, sinamon, sugar and tornsole, than looke ye have five or sixe bags for your ipocras to run in, and a pearch that your renners may ren on, than must ye have sixe peuter basins to stand under your bags, than look your spice be ready, and your ginger well pared or if it be beaten to pouder, than looke your stalkes of sinamon be well coloured and sweete: canell is not so gentle in operation, sinamon, is hotte and dry, graines of paradice be hot and moist, ginger, grains, long pepper ben hot and moist, sinamon, canell and redde wine colouring.

Now knowe yee the proportions of your ipocras, than beate your pouders, eache by them selfe, and put them in bladders and hange your bagges sure that no bagge tough other, but let each basinge touch other, let the first basin be of a gallon, and each of the other a pottell, than put in your basin a gallon of red Wine, put these to your pouders, and stire them well, than put them into the firste bage, and let it ren, than put them in the second bagge, than take a peece in your hand and assay if it be stronge of Ginger, and alay it with sinamon, and if it be strong of sinamon, alay it with sugar, and look ye let it ren through sixe renners, and your ipocras into a close Vessel and keep the receit, for it will serve for sewers, than serve your souvraign with wafers and ipocras.


Book Covers ... Our road to artistry?
The background
distilling the true essence
Now after the slightly alcoholic digression back to the burning matter of the day, Book Covers! As I have mentioned in the last two blog articles we did an extensive search for Tudor period fiction book covers for inspiration. The results were not impressive except for a small handful of designs. I have received a few comments and criticisms regarding the last two articles (thank you my well regarded readers) and have taken their suggestions on board. (and we didn’t make any of them walk the plank!)
So I submitted the results to the design team and we spent several days going over the options. The cover had to fulfil six essential criteria:
1. Fit the Tudor Period
2. Identify the story as fiction
3. Be attractive as a design
4. Look professional
5. Get the attention of browsers
6. Not look like a headless bimbo

When broken down into simple components the whole enormous task looks easier, well it did to me. Though I must admit to starting out with a distinct advantage; several years of design experience, so that I understood the elements of the process which I will outline step by step

Step the First

Review the research;
Okay the easiest part is cancel out the losers; the horde from headless bimbodom get axed!  Now I must
admit to being picky so as a committee
(Jocelyn the Uber editor and Alexander the artist extraordinaire ) we sat down and went through the remaining hundred odd images. We cancelled out strictly historical option like portraits since we felt they referred too specifically to individual Tudor characters. In the end the winners were representational or composition covers such as those for Sacred Treason and CJ Sansom’s novels. Overall the committee felt they looked very impressive and pretty speccy. So those were to serve as the basis for our design.

Step the Second

What elements to use?
The story background
The basis of the Cardinal’s Angels (without giving the whole story away) is the trials and tribulations of apprentice lawyer and sometime rogue Red Ned Bedwell and his pursuit of golden angels. The Angels in question in part refer to one of the gold coins of the realm of Henry VIII stamped with the figure of St Michael on one face. In his efforts to secure a convenient fortune Ned stumbles across murder, possible heresy, threatened betrayal and potential treason. All this mayhem and strife because of a set of letters and a secret consignment of gold. Now Ned could listen to the alluring whisper of the angels as his daemon counsels or heed the urging of his better angel to follow the path of honour and friendship. For a Tudor lad on the make it’s a difficult choice and either one could led to a lingering death on the scaffold.

Step the Third

The Design components

With all the above and more now being slotted into the design brief, the ‘committee’ set to work. As per the decision in stage one ,we’d use a version of the composition style of cover, including simple and readily identified elements from the story. That was the easiest decision. Afterwards we engaged in as they say robust debate and discussion. The next victim for the block was, the use of any Tudor figures in costume. In the first draft I suggested a dagger since it’s in the murder and other sections of the story. The committee voted otherwise. Thud! It was chopped. I then sensibly pushed for the inclusion of a leather satchel since it was a key item in the story progress. Ah no, a quick walk to the scaffold and it was all over, once more the committee in their collective wisdom crushed the suggestion cruelly underfoot. Finally we were left with four main style elements; falling coins, A Tudor Rose seal, the incriminating letter and the title in Tudor period text. At that point I yielded to the powers of reason and democracy as well as the salient fact that the too much detail would be lost in a thumbnail image.
Though I can claim one victory, all the covers will have a background based on that of a Tudor period fabric or painting.

Step the Fourth

Bringing it together
Thus we arrive at the individual components for a cracking good cover, once more I skimmed through the Internet searching out examples and came across the following

The Fishpool Hoard
A collection of twelve hundred odd gold coins buried during the abortive rebellion against the Yorkist King Edward IV in 1464.
To bring the coins up to date I found an image of a gold angel of Henry VIII. I chose the yellower colour to indicate an earlier coin of pre debasing vintage, since the later ones had a redder tinge from the copper alloy. Our talented and obliging artist Alexander quickly rendered the face with the figure of St Michael (thus the reason why they’re called angels) into a sketch and the design was away.

The next item on the list was the letter, more valuable and dangerous than gold. The committee wanted three messages in this part of the cover, the first was its official nature thus the red seal. Originally we thought a facsimile of the Lord Chancellor’s seal would do the trick, however it proved to be rather obscure and didn’t scream Tudor power to modern eyes so we went for the traditional Tudor Rose. As you can see it was similar to the concept in Sacred Treason, though this one is broken symbolising (we hope) the breach of royal trust by Cardinal Wolsey and Ned’s daring an act of treason to escape the noose. It also has a bloodstained tear caused by a dagger thrust slashing through the latin script, once more the implied message of murder and official treason. As a basis for this image we looked at some of Holbein’s paintings and found the mother lode.
Letters from Holbeins Gisze painting

For the upside down latin script that you can see on the outside of the letter, we sourced a very famous piece of Tudor writing as an example of lettering style to copy. Princess Elizabeth’s ‘Tide Letter’, which she wrote out supposedly on a Thames wharf while waiting to be conveyed to the Tower. It was addressed to her sister Queen Mary pleading her innocence and begging not to be arrested for treason. Some historians believe this delay saved Elizabeth’s life, since Mary began to reconsider the hasty action as Elizabeth’s supporters petitioned for mercy.

Thus began the refining process to turn our ideas into a similar rain of golden coins.
The title is simple, Alexander used a Tudor font and imported it into Photoshop then embossed it used a matching parchment colour and finally added shadows.
For the author’s name (mine of course) we chose a more subdued Garamond font and a smaller text size that I hope portrays dignity, modesty and style.  As well as placing it at the bottom of the image to balance out the title and frame the cover. I assume it will maintain that position until I reach Clive Cussler levels of fame, then straight to the top!

To give depth to the background once more we looked to Holbein and reworked a section of the backing curtain from the Ambassadors as you can see it brings the script, letter and coins forward in space.

The second last version
On reflection it needed a little extra to make the title stand out so Alexander added more shadows to give some extra depth and not have the pile of coins suspended in space.  So far this is the final version any suggestions of comments please let us know

The final version!
Before NYE we should also be able to attach a YouTube film and voice over of the entire process.

The finished novel will be available from Smashwords early in the new year, soon to be followed by book two the Queen’s Oranges a tale involving murder, smuggling, heresy, oranges and gunpowder.

Just search for the Cardinal’s Angels and download the sample chapters.

As the good doctor says keep taking the pills!

And Happy Waeshael and keep safe for New Year’s Eve!!!
Post Additions
In response to suggestion from my loyal and extremely intelligent fans the design committee has burnt the midnight oil and slaved away at two more versions of the cover
The first has an addition of a cardinal's red cloth background sourced from Wolsey's portrait behind the book title. Then some gradient fading down the bottom beind the author name to obscure the base of the green curtain fabric.  the coins have also gained more of a shimmer as they fall and reflect the light.  I'm afraid the that the light gold colour has to stay to reflect the pure rather then redder debased coins.

After further reflection the design committee felt that the tudor text was too heavy for the title as well as difficult to read in thmubnail. So we swapped it with a clearer medieval text and thus have this the latest and who knows maybe the last version.

Let us know what you think?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fiction, Its Great to be Published, now buy it Please?

Fiction, Its Published; now buy it, Please?

Or A Cover! A Cover! My Kingdom for a Cover! Part 2

Good day my well regarded viewers, I hope this missive finds you all in excellent health, just a few days short of the yuletide festival. To those of my dear readers in the northern climes it’s in this local a balmy 20 degrees Celsius, way above freezing and the nearest snow is on a mountain peak fifty kilometres away. Sorry just had to rub that in, Aussie humour and all that. Though I doubt we’ll be Yuletiding on the beach with prawns and lobsters. Instead we’re adopting a more continental approach, spicy Italian sausages with the humble mashed potato (courtesy of our good friend and business associate Sir Walter Raleigh) blended with mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, smoked capsicums, fresh basil, lightly fried shallots and bacon.

Yumm Dessert!

Then the meal topped off subtley wise with homemade lemon ice cream or white chocolate gelato and a healthy tankard of Badger’s vintage ale. Yummmm! I must remember to ensure that the medical chest is packed full of the overindulgence remedies, the ones made completely without dried and powdered leeches. Not so efficacious in any way!
Now after that little gastronomic festive digression back to the wonderful world of book covers!

Book Covers ... Quality vs Quantity

Now in the last instalment we had a very humorous look at headless bimbos courtesy of that doyen of dastardly deviousness Richard III. Wasn’t he perfect as an example of how an image can shape perceptions? As I will be outlining in I think book six of the Red Ned series we’ll be exploring the moment in time when King Richard Plantagenet was transformed from the unfortunate loser in a family inheritance dispute to the hunchbacked red handed slayer of children and widows the equal of Stalin.
So Richard didn’t kill the princes in the Tower, but he looks so mean and evil?

Its the image thing, it worked for Shakespeare so how can it work for you? Now as we know the publishing industry employs a legion of high trained and skilled graphics artists and consultants. All paid top dollar to produce the best designs for covers and advertising required to promote their valued and respected authors.
Sorry my apologies I really must stop wolfing down those chocolate coated coffee beans! I get too carried away.


Opphs slipped again! Sorry, back to the land of reality. Publishing is, as the board of directors frequently tell the shareholders a business, as such it is in theory out to make a profit and in many ways is indistinguishable from any other profit driven company.
Thus all the rigmarole surrounding the publishing of your book is supposed to be based on sound business practises and principles. Or so goes the theory in a perfect universe as defined by modern MBA textbooks, real life however is not so crystal clear. Skilled, efficient staff and perceptive managers are as rare in publishing as in any other business, while incompetence and stupidity is spread around in generous measure like everywhere else. So unless you’re an author with a name like Cussler or Rowling you’ll get little chance to influence the way your work is ‘marketed’. In fact on most writer forums that single issue of presentation is the most common complaint, closely followed by slow payments. Well we’re interested in only a small section of this cover discussion, the wonderful world of Tudor fiction!

Tudor Covers

The Tudor Genre stretches quite a way, from the end of the Wars of the Roses to the Stewart assumption of the English crown by James VI of Scotland in 1603. Within one hundred and twenty odd years we have a vast diversity and wealth of paintings, woodblock prints, drawings, architecture, costumes and fabrics. So why I have to ask is the book cover art so dreadful? The cover can be the window into the soul of the story which is a cute paraphrase of Elizabeth’s ‘a window into the soul of her subjects’ quote regarding spaying and treason. So leaving out the large selection of headless bimbo’s we looked at in part one, what do I believe is a good cover to serve as an inspiration for my design The Cardinals Angels?

Amazon is your Friend?

You’d think that search for book covers in the digital age is an easy task. Not so, the Amazon site is very useful except that it lacks a detailed search engine which leaves you trawling through thousands of hits. I can be very enlightening if you have several hours.

Google is your Friend?

You’d think so with image search, but no. However they’ve reconfigured it makes every search a clumsy lucky dip that brings up the strangest collection of images. I mean to say how can typing in ‘Tudor Book Cover’ bring up an image of two scantily clad young girls and a well endowed darkish gentleman with a goat? The imagination boggles!

Quality Tudor Images!

As per the specification for the headless bimbos the following selection is based on attractive, relevant and engaging covers in other words good quality Tudor eye candy!

Contestant 1
The first off the list is the just released The Marlowe Conspiracy by MG Scarsbrook.
As you can see the cover is based on an Elizabethan period painting the original is believed to be of Marlowe and is in Corpus Christi College Cambridge. It has been shifted across to half obscure and possibly the background darkened. With red evocative text it does more than hint at Marlowe’s occupation as a spy and intelligencer. I feel this image invites you to open it up and indulge in Marlowe’s dangerous secrets, ones that may have led to his eventual murder in Deptford. Thus I’d score this one highly.

Contestant 2
Heartstone by CJ Sansom, now at this stage I must lay my cards on the table, with a slight digression I had just completed five straight non stop weeks of writing The Cardinals Angels, first draft and laid out the synopsis of the next ten books when I did a general Amazon search for more Tudor resources. All of a sudden up pops Sansom’s book about a Tudor lawyer serving Cromwell and I felt so gutted. Damn someone’s already used my entire story and they got it published! ARRGH!! To be honest I only brought myself to read Dissolution three weeks ago (five years after first draft) and breathed quiet sigh of relief, his work and character is very different from mine and though both are set in the same period they work at opposite ends of the social spectrum. I do not want to be charged with plagiarism after battling against it

Back to Heartstone I have seen two different versions of this cover the fist one pictures here is a simple close up shot of the cast Tudor Rose on top of a bronze cannon. The second version has the rose painted, which tended to be common for display. Both images are effective since Sansom’s character is as the title says off to war. On the whole it is a good cover that engages the viewer’s curiosity though a slightly more perspective view along the barrel may have given it more depth. I would score this one moderately highly. I have also included three other of Sansom’s good quality covers as a general idea of the style and design that will be employed for a successful author.

Contestant 3ish
This collection of images is off a set of Tudor period novels, I know nothing about their story line or author but they appealed to me as good quality compositions probably for the young adult ranged market. Nothing specatular, but competently done with simple elements of the storyline. grouped together In my opinion reasonably good for what they are.

Contestant 4
The Serpents Garden I know absolutely nothing about this author or her novels, what drew me to include it was its compositional style which I found interesting and a good balance of period images and design. Rather than demand attention it invites the reader to discover the meaning behind the collection of diverse pictures. I’d score this one in the moderate range.

Contestant 5
The Tudor Secret I CW Gortner once more I know absolutely nothing about this author or their novels, I included it since they didn’t quite cut off the heads and at least made an effort at Tudor costumes and an attempt at image improving, however I’m not sure it works. I leave rating of this one to my viewers

Contestant 6
Sacred Treason by James Forrester As I walked past the shelves of my local library this one positively leapt out demanding to be read. The red wax Tudor seal really draws the eye and the burnished gold script at the top is quite alluring giving off hints of reflected precious metal in candle light. The red brown of the cover evokes old leather books while the faded lettering behind the seal hints of hidden secrets and ciphers. Of all of the covers this one impressed me the most, it is both alluring and intriguing. To be honest it pressed all the buttons for a great Tudor fiction cover. In my opinion this is the winner and in part 3 you’ll see why.

As the good doctor says keep taking the pills!
And Happy Waeshael !!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Cover! My Kingdom for a Cover!

Fiction, Its Great to be Published, now for the Sales!!

Or A Cover! A Cover! My Kingdom for a Cover!

Good day my well regarded viewers, I hope this missive finds you all in excellent health, partying along like its well, yuletide! Just remember always consult your honoured and reputable physician before indulging in the myriad of mountebank hangover cures. Unlike some charlatans and hedge witches I do not prescribe eye of newt or wing of bat! Certainly not, as every qualified doctor knows only the refined and distilled essence of the bull musk ox will restore and promote the natural vigour!
Now having dispensed more Tudor medicinal wisdom onto the theme of the day
So you’re published? And?

Publishing ... the Myths

All right you have finally done it, achieved that pinnacle of fame and fortune as we discussed in the last post. Every thing is sweet, life is as they say a bed of roses. Your book is on the shelves and the ravening reading public is out there buying up for Christmas and… your book stays on the shelves. Actually well into post new year, and worse news, its still on the shelves! Finally months later a container load of your book covers is shipped back to the publisher. Then disaster at the height of your writing peak three quarters of the way through your sequel you get that dreaded envelope from the publisher. Dear Sir/Madman/ Miss…Due to an unforseen dip in the market and the poor sales response of your debut novel our company is no longer able to retain you on our list ….yours unfaithfully wishing you the best… at a later date and so
The translation is- your toast, piss off, don’t call us because we won’t call you!

What!!! How??? Why???

I mean, I know it was a debut work but it couldn’t have been that bad… could it? Your self esteem plummets, you look at the delete key with ominous foreboding, the great work of years has failed, crashed to ruin. It must be your writing a little voice whispers in your mind. You’re a miserable failure, go on admit it, the voice continues to hiss seductively, go on give up you’ll never make!


You did the work, you put in the effort, all those thousands of words weren’t randomly typed by an infinite number of monkeys you know! Then the editing and the twenty five, read it twenty five redrafting sessions, to get it all sparkling and mint just as the publisher requested. You even did the book signing tours and cajoled all your friends and family to buy and promote the book. Don’t forget the keeping up with modern technology, there were those fifty social sites and Facebook you joined in order to get that networking thing happening. So what if you downloaded a stack of viruses, it was worth it!
At this point in the self analysis you should have got past the ‘my work stinks’ stage and started looking around for scapegoats and be ratcheting through all sorts of bizarre and unlikely candidates. Perhaps after exhausting all other possibilities including the cute black kitten that walked across your path the day your book went on sale, you may finally decide to look at a few previously taboo subjects.

I’ll give you one…


Now I know that in our younger days and at school, our teachers and our parents always hammered us about not judging a book by its cover. I recall Mr Markarroff in his heavy Russian accent and overhanging threatening eyebrows wagging a horny finger at me and saying ‘Kiddies zat ist a gud book read it, enjoy it, don’t worry about the cover its just fluff for ze ignorant!’
Of course we all nodded and agreed, with a universal ‘Yes Sir’ if you answered in the negative, oh well, you’d get to appreciate Mr Markarroff’s facility with the backswing caning technique.
However in some respects that old sage is correct, until you flick open the cover and have a bit of a read it is almost impossible to tell if a novel is any good or suits your mood or taste.
However in reality that is stage three in the purchasing process which is as you realise three vital steps away from the most important initial temptation.
Let’s face it, we live in a visual world saturated by advertising, it is coming at you all day every day thousands of images pleading enticing and cajoling you to give in to temptation buy me! No me… and so on.
To compete in the savage environment of book retail where it is red in tooth and claw your work has to stand out. It has to proclaim its individuality, in fact its inalienable superiority to the rest of the herd. For it is a KING!


Your publisher in their infinite wisdom and experience could wack on a blurred photo of a headless bimbo in a vaguely Tudor period dress.
This particular trend has been explored at the Goodreads webpage
in the Tudor History Lovers section, with much speculation as to why? One possibility was so that the purchaser subconsciously projects their own face into the image in a narcissistic fashion, somewhat like the teen sword and magic fantasies. Maybe so, however I suspect a less esoteric reason; blurred photos are cheap, easy, don’t require any complicated graphics and can be used for anything.

So I want to epublish my book The Cardinal’s Angels a Red Ned Tudor mystery what how do I go about it? For a start I cranked away hours in the internet ether searching for cover inspirations. After all why re invent the wheel. To be honest the results were disappointing swathes of headless Tudorish bimbos and abysmal cover art of the odd building or may be a Tudor royal. Even the latest versions of PF Chisholm’s fine Robert Cary books were less than impressive, in fact almost dreadful. Out of the whole trawl only a few stood out Sacred Treason by James Forrester and The Marlowe Conspiracy by MG Scarsbrook. (We will deal with those in part 2)

As an example I have picked up this ‘short’ selection;

Headless Bimbo 1.

The cover for The Tudor Rose a novel of Elizabeth of York. All right, now before we continue I am stating on the record that I have not read this book so I can make no judgements about its contents.
The truncated cover is alone under scrutiny.
First why cut her head off is it just the normal fashion habit? Ahh perhaps not, Jocelyn my design critic immediately pointed out that this portrait was wildly off uit is in fact of Eleanor of Toledo who married Cosmio de’ Medici duke of Tuscany and was painted in 1545 by the famous artist Bronzino. How this Spanish lady of the Renaissance corresponds with Elizabeth of York 1466-1503 the ‘mother’ of Henry VIII is a mystery to me and probably to anyone else with a brain. Sixty years and half a continent is a bit of an error, its not as if we lack portraits of this English queen who united the rival houses of York and Lancaster. So what the …?

Roll the drums Taaaaa da!!!

Headless Bimbo 2
This is the cover for the War of the Roses novel The Stolen Crown by historical author Susan Higginbotham, I must admit I do follow her blog Medieval Woman which is very well arranged and full of a lot of top quality historical information, though I have not read any of her books. Now once more we are not judging the novel. It is the cover. Once more my artistic consultant steps in, her opinion is the cover is from a late eighteenth century painting probably French rococo in style.
What pray tell does this have to do with the character Katherine Woodville the sister in law of Edward IV? Anyone got any descent suggestions apart from blatant stupidity? My partner Jocelyn was particular aghast since she felt this was a very slapdash and lackadaisical way to treat the work of an accomplished author.

Now Taaaaa da!!!

Headless Bimbo 3

Lucky last, At the King’s Command. Oh dear that corseted heaving bosom! Oh I feel faint I think I’d better have a few scotches and have a very cool shower! Well its Tudor I think, because it says its part of the Tudor Rose Trilogy. Apart from that it looks like a thousand other nondescript bodice rippers, which it may well be. However if that’s its market then it is maybe an adequate cover, though pretty shoddy in style and composition.

That about all I can handle of this, now since the Festive season approaches I’ll split this into a three part blog. Part two will be a few days and discuss some better examples of covers and part three will showcase the design process for The Cardinals Angels. Who knows maybe in the New Year we could do Vampire Vikings!!!

Ps you like the Richard III theme? I thought that was particualy apt considering the general headless-ness, after all no gets Lancastrians headless as fast as Richard III. Anyway as you can see in image advertising what could be a more effective example?

As the good doctor says ‘Keep taking the Pills!’

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Publishing Gregory House

Fiction, Oh to be Published!!

Good day my well regarded viewers, I hope this missive finds you all in excellent health, no need for the application of the, ahem… long syringe? Just remember as I prescribed to my good friend Lord Black Adder (who it appears actually existed and was a noted Tudor period pirate) take two leeches and pop them under the tongue until they dissolve. Since this is the happy joyous Yule tide season, you’ve no doubt noticed the excessive amounts of advertising that has been hitting the airwaves or clogging up the letter boxes. I though in keeping with the jolly theme we’d take a slight excursion from the series of book reviews and look at another aspect somewhat similar.
What do you have to do to get published?

The Novel... the Myths

Okay I suppose it is assumed that you have written a wonderful novel, the best ever, a piece to rival Clive Cussler or JK Rowling. Its going to be acclaimed through out the known world and beyond, earning you the author the laurel wreath of victory and enough zeros in your bank account to give any bank manager happily skipping heart palpitations.
Then of course to acquire this status you have to have slogged your way through years of creative writing courses, then a Master of Literature followed by a host of expression or character workshops, theme sessions and endless critiques groups. You slave away poring over hundreds of books dissecting, probing exploring and subjecting each paragraph to minute post modern interpretation. What did the author mean by ‘so I looked at life like a bucket of rotting fish’ on page fifty five paragraph three? Was it some kind of post Hegelian metaphor about the fragility of human existence? Or was it a parable of the recycling of the greater Jungian soul? Oh god I didn’t get it! No, no, no! I’ll have to read it again for the seventy fifth time now from a Freudian viewpoint!

Then after all that dissection, analysing, post modern deconstruction, re-scaffolding and re-interpretation you’re now ready to start your very own literati achievement! You’ve gone the plot outline, the character interaction maps, selected the points of view, the moral positions of the major narrators and their flaws, decided on the protagonist and obstacles, assembled the groundlings, reviewed the narrative flow (the story line for those lucky enough to forgo university).

Ta Da! So we’re all ready to undergo the self doubt and flagellation during months of writing, more months of correction and editing until…

At the end you have a highly polished articulate piece of work that positively gleams in the morning light. A true piece of writing craftsmanship, nay artistry! A vertiable Michaelangelo of fiction! Glowing in all its fine purity and excellence, a literary masterpiece surpassing Nabokov, there on its pedestal for all to behold!

Or you could bonk a publisher and get a contract.

Oh dear, slap me! I didn’t just advocate sleeping your way into publishing? How could I? That’s…that’s, well that’s just hopelessly immoral, impossible! No I could never do that! I have standards to maintain! Oh you depraved individual, how could you suggest such a vile, abhorrent and cheap road to success!
I mean, its like totally disgusting, Barfville even!!!
Well, arrghh, Puke!
Aaaah…oh, I see… well in that case…sorry to bother you but, you wouldn’t have their phone number would you?

Oh dear my fiction gear slipped a cog, sorry about that, I got carried away. That couldn’t be the way some authors got published, well could it? I mean its so fantasy, so unreal I mean after all you’ve never actually seen anyone get what they want by, I mean bending over or perhaps wearing a really really short skirt, have you?

Sorry drive shaft on the friction gear had a serious conniption, scratch all the above I never meant to say that. After those generous and forthright souls in the publishing industry are all every man Jack (or Jill) decent, hardworking, moral, thorough, honest, perceptive and highly experienced individuals. Over all they’ve hardly made a single error of judgement like knocking back JK Rowling several times or the grievous errors committed by their close kin in the music business. For instance that record label executive saying to the early Beatles ‘sorry lads groups with guitars are on the way out, not interested’.
Such dramatic mistakes could never happen in these modern professionally managed enlightened times could they?

As proof I just give you a quick example from the Amazon list.


It is a time for warriors, a time for heroes. Kell's axe howls out for blood. The land of Falanor has been invaded by an albino army, the Army of Iron. A small group set off to warn the king: Kell, a magnificent and brutal hero; his granddaughter, Nienna and her friend, Katrina; and Saark, the ex-Sword Champion of King Leanoric, disgraced after his affair with the Queen.

Fighting their way south, betrayal follows battle, battle follows deviation, and they are attacked from all quarters by deadly warriors, monstrous harvesters who drain blood from their victims to feed their masters. As Falanor comes under heavy attack and invasion, only then does Nienna begin to learn the truth about grandfather Kell -- that he is anything but a hero. Ferocious fantasy from a real-life hardman come to claim the post-Gemmell world

Yep that’s right, that stunningly magnificent piece of literary work got both an agent and a publisher. Who says talent doesn’t shine through!

Getting published??

This is the quest of every aspiring writer to gain the universal
validation of being officially published. It is what drives us on through penury, mounting frustration and of course bouts of published envy regarding those obviously less talented who’ve snagged a contract. It is the Holy Grail of your long hours of creative slogging! You ask how can I a humble scribbler gain that pinnacle of success? In the previous section we’ve scotched that vile and scurrilous rumour of bonking your way to literati-dom. So now we’ll examine the officially sanctified route to publishing.
According to the established practice an aspiring writer sends off a flurry of query letters to agents and publishers plus the first two or three chapters as well as possibly a synopsis or chapter outline. All right, fair enough on the face of it. That gives them a reasonable chance to view your great work and in theory discuss whether or not to accept you as a client ie do you fit into their business profile or does your work present an opportunity. Now I have noticed that a lot is made of the literati aspect ie the struggling artist routine, encouraging new talent and so forth. In fact what you are doing is presenting a business proposal.

That is the unvarnished truth of the matter. Your work is worthwhile because it will sell and fits a market niche. I suppose that why a recent book search on Vampires on Amazon brought up hundreds of pages of results. Since the success of Twilight and Buffy/Angel vampires sell.
Thus I just had an excellent idea, I can marry my knowledge of History with Vampires and swords!

Vampire Vikings!!!!

Hrolf and his war band have a deep and abiding hunger that drives them to the green shores of England, and its not a lust for Saxon dangeld or church treasure. No instead they crave the sweet blood of virgin nuns! How can thane Edwin and his men withstand the fearsome assault of the berserker undead! Can holy water, crosses and good Saxon steel stop the vampire worshipers of Odin?

See that’s perfect now, all I have to do is write the first three chapters and send it off!
Fame and wealth here I come!

Oh by the way I decided to short cut the agent-publisher route and harness the power of the Internet, I will be releasing my novel ‘Red Ned and the Cardinals Angels’ as an e-book on Smashwords before Christmas. Right now we’re pushing through with the last major edit (Jocelyn, Uber Editor) and the cover design (Alexander, graphics artist extraordinaire). Over the next couple of days I will be putting up a blog of how we worked through the many needs of a book’s cover art. In the mean time I will let everyone know when the book comes out and my growing horde of devotees can spread the word!
Oh by the way I can absolutely guarantee this novel does not contain any vampires or bloodsuckers at all! Just a damned good Tudor period mystery/adventure, involving murder, cryptic letters, hidden gold, deadly political factions and good old fashioned treason. Not forgetting of course Red Ned Bedwell, a young lad who only wanted enough golden angels to escape his uncle and party in the taverns of Southwark for a month.

Who know by Christmas I could afford to buy a bottle of champagne? It’s amazing what you can get for seven dollars!

As the good doctor says ‘Keep taking the Pills!’