Silly Saturday – Surviving Self Publishers

Survival guide for friends and relatives of Indie Authors

How many of us recall being waylaid at the school gate by other mothers with Tupperware party invites or the friends for whom Amway cleaning products became a religion? Do Amazon Kindle Self Publishers pose a similar threat?

Spare a thought for friends and relatives of Indie Authors…

You probably were not even aware your friend or aunty was an Indie Author; you weren’t listening when they were telling you about their writing, or when they mentioned modestly that their first novel was available on Amazon Kindle. So here is a survival guide.

  1. Never reveal that you own any electronic device larger than a postage stamp.
  2. Never ask ‘How’s the writing going?’

If it is too late for the above, the following excuses may be helpful.

A. I’ve lost my Kindle charger.

B. I left my Kindle on the train.

C. WiFi not working.

D1. I’m going to buy your book when I go on holiday.

D2. LIE. I have downloaded your book and will read it when I’m on holiday.

E. I like to buy my books at the charity shop.

F. I have to finish reading the book for my book club.

G. I have an iPad, but don’t know how to download books and have to wait till my son/daughter/nephew comes round.

H. My Kindle is full, I already have 5,000 free classic novels by dead authors on there.

I. I’m just waiting till pay day. (This last excuse could be seen as rather feeble, especially if they are selling their book for 99p.)



Good luck, but don’t think you have escaped. Did you get an invitation to tea and cake round at your friend’s house, wondering what a Pop Up Bookshop is? Your local Indie author has now learnt how to create paperbacks on Kindle Direct Publishing. After eating some delicious cakes they expect you to wipe your sticky fingers and look at the pile of lovely new paperbacks that just arrived on the doorstep. They belong to Amazon Prime and get free deliveries, so they have saved you the trouble of ordering from Amazon yourself and there is the bonus of getting your copy autographed by them. …and if you don’t buy their latest novel you will probably get it for a birthday present.


Friday Flash Fiction -A Shot Rings Out

This week, flash fiction from an occasional guest blogger; my sister from down under takes you into the Australian Bush.


A shot rings out, a sharp pure crack across the cold night air. It is impossible to tell how far it has travelled, but I know it must be from somewhere within the bush conservation reserve only a paddock’s width away; somewhere within its 3,000 acres. I don’t know how to feel. Glad that someone has killed one of the wild pigs that root around the delicate orchids sheltering beneath the carpet of she-oak needles? Angry that someone has shot a kangaroo, going about its rightful business? Or scared? I have always said I felt safe alone in the shed.  A big shed, a home from home, lined with straw bales and furnished with beds and comfortable chairs. It was so isolated, why would anyone come down this road? But they have. They are near and I know nothing about them. Him? It will be a him, I’m sure. Not a her. Just him, or was he with friends? A disturbing thought. No, I’m letting my imagination run away with me. It’s probably just a local farmer, after foxes.

Another shot cracks the air, reverberating through the darkness. Stay calm, of course it’s a farmer. It all goes quiet and stays quiet. Ten minutes go by, nothing to worry about. Go back to sleep I tell myself, and I do.


Then, suddenly, I am awakened by the sound of tyres on gravel, not just driving, but ripping into the gravel, tearing around a corner and onto the road, my road, and coming nearer. I hear whooping, with the wildness of the inebriated, a sound that confirms my worst fears. This is no farmer, this is a group of men, and they are drunk. The most frightening animal on the planet, the human male, drunk and hunting in a pack. I lay still, like a frightened rabbit, as if they might hear me if I move. I tell myself to not be stupid. All the lights are out, they won’t be able to see the shed on this moonless night. Or so I thought, but the sound of the revving, roaring engine comes ever nearer, too near to be on the road; they have turned into my driveway. I remember the solar powered garden lights that line the long driveway, like runway lights, guiding a plane in to land. And now it is guiding them inexorably towards me, until I see another light splitting the darkness, the spot light fixed to the roof of the car, the spot light they use to dazzle their prey. Then the skid on the gravel as the car comes to a halt. They spill out with raucous laughter and joking.  One.  Two.  Three voices.

‘Here’s a place to stay!’  one shouts, and then the final act that completes my terror. The door handle moves. They are here. And I have no escape.

by Kate Doswell

Being In An Anthology

Anthologies, collections of various authors’ stories, are an attractive prospect for many new or not so new, but still aspiring authors. The chance to have your writing in print, your story chosen by strangers is an affirmation and you have something to show your relatives. Your story will be surely be read by all the friends and relatives of each writer who features in the anthology and perhaps one of them will be a publisher, head of BBC Drama or a film producer… The route to these exciting possibilities is often via a competition, you might also win some money and impress your family.

Back in 2009 I was browsing in Borders, a heavenly mix of music, books and magazines; lurking on a bottom shelf under writing and history magazines was a colourful monthly publication called First Edition. Get Yourself Published For Free it proclaimed. Of course that meant they would not be paying YOU for your stories, but that didn’t seem to matter and one of my stories, Reality, was accepted, my brief biography sent off and in due course my free November copy arrived in the post. I immediately rushed off to check the shelves of Borders and WH Smith to buy another copy to send to my mother. I then e-mailed friends and family who hunted in their local branches; I could say I was in print nationwide. Alas, that edition, only the ninth issue, was the last and by the end of that year Borders had suffered a similar demise in the UK. I wonder what happened to the second story I sent them?


The first time I won a prize was second place in Wrekin Writers’ competition, the cheque for £70 impressed Cyberspouse. The story, Darren’s Day Out, was the first I wrote for the writers’ group I still belong to. The subject was the door, I later added the second part. You can read that story and others at my website.

Dorset Voices was compiled by Poundbury Voices and published by Roving Press, foreword by Prince Charles.  Poundbury is an experimental new town on the outskirts of Dorchester in the county of Dorset, England. The development is built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.

Writers were invited to submit short stories, articles and poems, paying £6 to ‘encourage’ them to send their best work; they didn’t have to write specifically about Dorset, but I figured it would increase my chances. Photographers were invited to submit black and white photographs. My story ‘Four Days In June’ was accepted and the book was launched at Bournemouth Library. Those writers able to attend each read an excerpt from their work. By happy coincidence my sister was on holiday from Australia – Cyberspouse was happy as he didn’t have to come to the launch and my sister could take a copy back for my mother, thus saving on postage. I did get a free copy, but also bought several as gift ideas. Prince Charles did not come to the launch.


My favourite covers are those of the first two volumes of An Eclectic Mix. I have two stories in each.




Thanet Writers publish articles, stories and poems daily on their website and a dozen of mine have featured. This year my story ‘Thanephant an Elephantasy’ was included in Shoal, their first anthology, published as a paperback and on Amazon Kindle. It was launched at Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate in May.




You can read Darren’s Day Out, Four Days In June and stories from Eclectic Mix in the  third collection of my own stories, Times and Tides.






Building communities.

I’m glad I took time to read this instead of bookmarking for later. Many of us may not have a community or be bound to the land, but we all were originally. Jim manages to encompass our long past and our ever changing present poetically and humorously.

Jim Webster


That’s what the meeting was about, although that wasn’t the title, that’s what it did and that was what drove people to attend.

And I drove up from the south, through St John’s in the Vale on a gorgeous September morning; the sort that you never get many of. The photo shows winter, still beautiful, but today the two crags at the front were bathed in bright sunlight. Blencathra behind was almost lost in a golden haze as the early morning sun burned off the last of the mist. It looked like nothing as much as a Chinese landscape painting.

And later in the day, travelling home, the good folk of the Vale were hard at work. Travelling up I’d seen one field that looked as if it might just bale today, and yes, they were hard at it. A tractor that was older than me pulling a baler which…

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Silly Saturday – Not More Air Festival Shots…


The Red Arrows flew over our road, but I missed the shot.


Some people alter their whole house to get a good viewing point.


Ice cream war?


You need the right lens if you want to get good shots of the aeroplanes.




Boats are easier to photograph.




So are buses.




Which ones are real?













This is as far as Spiderman got!



Which ride would you try?



I got some good pictures of smoke…



… and bikes.



Meet the pilots.

For actual pictures of planes see Wednesday’s and Friday’s blogs.


Friday Flash Fiction Flies – Per Ardua ad Astra

Edward was not unique in his obsession with aeroplanes, but he was fortunate that his wife understood, or at least didn’t mind spending the summer touring round all the air shows in their camper van. The boys didn’t always go with them these days, but they had enjoyed a childhood of camping and exploring the British Isles.

A slight autumnal melancholy would descend on the couple as the air show season drew to a close, but the winter months were still busy for Edward, visiting air museums and doing research. Josie did not mind him spending long evenings on the computer, at least he wasn’t looking at pornography and she was free to watch her favourite television dramas.


Winter also gave Edward time to spend in his man den at weekends; this was no ordinary garden shed, but the sanctuary where he tinkered with his inventions. If his wife and sons had paid more attention to what he was creating they would have been very excited… or very worried.


Josie and the boys did not share Edward’s obsession with World War Two and the RAF. His special love, the other woman in his life, as Josie teased him, was the Spitfire, the most perfect aircraft ever built, a beautiful bird that pilots did not just fly, but became a part of. Or so Edward had read and heard from those who had flown them. His six foot four gangly frame, poor eyesight and asthma had precluded any hope of joining the RAF, let alone becoming one of the special few who flew with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. He was a frequent visitor to the BBMF visitor centre at RAF Coningsby and all the tour guides knew him well, too well; they didn’t always appreciate him volunteering extra information to their polished talks.


Edward had no idea where his Spitfire dreams came from, nobody else in his family had been interested in flying. Josie said he should consult a medium, perhaps he had been a pilot in a previous life, helping to win the Battle of Britain. In his dreams at night he was always soaring up into the blue sky, not diving down to a violent death. But as his wife pointed out, he could have survived the war and lived on for a good many years; Edward was born in 1970.

But Edward’s thoughts and day dreams went far deeper than his family could imagine, in his den were creations nobody knew about. Talk of time machines was outdated, Edward’s calculations and research pointed to folds in time and certain frequencies. His plan was to tune into the frequency of the iconic Merlin engines and his dream was to save lives; the Spitfire was built to fly not die, not kill. If he could bring the Spitfires forward to the present, before their pilots perished in the Battle of Britain, their young lives would not be wasted.


His theory became reality when he realised he could tune his adapted radio to hear the past, even if he could not see it. Edward had plotted meticulously the dates and air bases of that summer of 1940, but all the planes would converge to one date, the final day of the Sandy Cliffs Air Festival. The spitfires would fly in formation above the fields of Kent they knew so well.

There were only two drawbacks to Edward’s grand plan; the weather might be bad and he could change the course of history.

If it changed so he had never existed then he would never have been around to change it… On the other hand if he was alive and well to witness the proof of time travel, he would also be able to observe if history had been changed. If the pilots were taken away the Battle of Britain would be lost, but that didn’t mean WW2 would be lost. Edward had given this great thought; historic events weren’t a matter of one way or another, there were infinite possibilities at the start of every day. Whatever happened, it should be a jolly good show for the year of the RAF’s hundredth birthday.


The weather was beautiful, Edward could hardly contain his excitement. Josie had a headache and decided to stay in the shade of the camper van, the boys had come along reluctantly and were mooching around glued to their smart phones. They should all be snapped out of their languor at three pm.

The commentator also had a headache, the extra hot summer and too many air shows were taking their toll on his health. Wearily he turned on the microphone.

…and don’t forget the finale of the show at four pm with the Red Arrows and a few surprises, but now here come the Spitfire and Hurricane; on a sunny day like this in 1940 the sky would have been full of these beautiful planes… but

He took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes…

On the cliffs the crowd gasped in awe as tiny dots became little planes and more and more filled the skies above them…



Edward thought his heart would burst with pride, the formation grew in the orderly fashion he had planned. The commentator was silent, but suddenly crackled back into life.

Once again we celebrate the strange events of 1940 when German pilots reported the enemy planes disappearing into thin air in front of their eyes, day after day until they all refused to fly for fear they too would evaporate. And so began the slow process of conciliation and the creation of our great empire Gaul.

Edward looked around at the crowds waving strange purple and green flags and wearing clothes that looked unfamiliar. He rushed back to the camper van to tell Josie what he had done; he needed her to confirm what he was seeing.

A strange woman flung open the door, two little girls ran up to him.

‘Daddy, Daddy did you see all the planes?’

‘They certainly put on a good show this year Ed’ said the strange woman.

Edward realised a factor he hadn’t taken into account, he still existed, but the great mixing of the gene pool that occurred after the war and brought Josie’s grandparents to Britain had not occurred, or had occurred in a different variation…



To The Pier

To organise a four day air festival with events on the ground and in the air, co-ordinating the military and private flight displays with the local airport, is a great feat. But that is nothing compared to the planning involved for families visiting or local households being visited.

Bournemouth Air Festival, now in its eleventh year, straddled the end of August and beginning of September, marking the end of the school holidays. With the generous four days there is a good chance of having at least one good flying day.

A clear day is perfect, heavy cloud means the Red Arrows doing a low level display and torrential rain grounds all the planes. This year we had four fine days and it was too hot at times. The only problem was where to watch from.


Wherever you are you will see some flying; young children on the cliff top will be happy just watching the planes fly by, some people sit in their garden, others go to Bournemouth Airport to watch planes take off and land. But to get the total experience you need to be between Boscombe and Bournemouth piers, on the beach or cliff top, to hear the commentary and see the centre of the display.

In Virginia Woolf’s novel To The Lighthouse, no one actually gets to the lighthouse and at the weekend I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get to the pier. Cyberspouse headed straight for the East Cliff with his camera and big lenses each day; as I only have a compact camera and missed all the best shots, I have borrowed some of his pictures.


For the rest of us Thursday was the beach hut day; convenient, a good view of passing planes or you can swim and watch them above you. There is one downside; every year the beach hut next to us is used by a family coming down to visit granny; she has lots of family, they are all odd and most of her grandchildren whine. The air festival family’s children have whined about everything in the eight years we have had our hut. Fortunately as they have multiplied they have spent more time spread out on the beach. The Red Arrows arrived at five thirty, the sun came out and the nine Hawk jets glinted high up in the sky as they made their graceful curves, swooped down for scary passes then signed off marking the one hundredth birthday of the Royal Air Force ( before that it was the army flying corps.)


Friday the visitors went into town to play crazy golf and enjoy the busy sea front. I didn’t even get to the cliff top as the garden needed to be watered and food cooked. I saw the Red Arrows from the back garden and got dinner early as Cyberspouse wanted to get back out for the after dark flying. Who is doing and seeing what and where has to be planned with military precision. The visitors went back to Bournemouth pier for the ten o’clock fireworks.


On Saturday the visitors were meeting friends and I went to the greengrocers and saw the Red Arrows from the front garden. I got to the beach hut for a late swim and on the way back up the cliff zig zag the Breitling Jet Team flew straight over my head. I stopped to watch their evening display and took pictures of smoke in the sunset. Dinner was late, but we had time to walk back to the cliff top to see the Saturday fireworks in the distance and enjoy the lights of Poole Bay all the way round to Swanage.


Sunday the visitors had to go home and I finally made it to the pier. The promenade was unrecognisable with fair ground rides, military stalls and food outlets; noisy and busy. It is worth hearing the commentary; what is flying, how fast, which manoeuvre.


Every year is slightly different; we always have at least one Spitfire, but the Lancaster wasn’t flying. Sally B was here again, but not the iconic Vulcan bomber or the Typhoon to deafen us. The Breitling team were on their first visit and they were terrific, at times within 3 metres of each other at speeds of over 430mph.















Friday Flash Fiction and Silly Saturday continue the flying theme.


Who You Gonna Call?

Sunday Salon – just for a laugh. Writers sometimes see something they couldn’t have made up., but I think this could be a short story idea… what if something went horribly wrong….


The other day, I thought I would pop into town to pick up some fresh veg. I didn’t expect or want to be too long, but fate had other ideas.

As I got closer to Waitrose, loud music began to filter through my preoccupied brain. This music seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place it.

I turned the corner from the High street and this huge figure came into view. And when I say huge, I am not exaggerating. At first, I thought it was the Michelin man. That chubby little man who advertises car tyres, only much bigger than I had ever seen him.

Then I saw something else. A large white American car with the Ghostbusters symbol emblazoned on the side. This was where the music was coming from.


Quite a crowd had gathered and most were moving in time to the music. But what was it doing in…

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