21 March 2013

It’s OK – I’ve got it Covered...

(...sort of)

Followers and fans of my Jesamiah Acorne will know that the launch of the fourth voyage in the Sea Witch series was somewhat delayed – it took me longer than expected to write it.
First I had the enormous set-back of my previous publisher going bankrupt leaving me, and several other annoyed (and royalty unpaid) authors in the proverbial do-do. Fortunately I already knew Helen Hart of SilverWood Books, an excellent assisted-publishing company based in Bristol.

As quickly as I could I took all my books to Helen- but there was one rather large problem. The previous publisher refused to return any original files (I suspect because the managing director had no staff – they had all deserted him due to lack of being paid a wage; he had no idea how to access the files  and/or the bailiff had taken the computers.) Whatever reason, I only had old, unedited files. 
I had seven books that all needed re-editing. I managed the task in four months, but that meant no chance of writing new material.
I then had the equally enormous task of re-branding and re-marketing myself. Believe me, Indie authors do not have it easy – we have to do everything ourselves, including getting word out there that our books are available to be read. 
After several months of putting myself firmly back on the map I was ready to start Adventure Four.

I’d lost the thread of what I had intended to write. A quick re-read of the first three books, but picking up from cold is hard to do. Work was stop-start: I very nearly gave up. Added to this task, my eyesight is failing and I think my brain is packing up with it. I can’t remember names… not even my minor characters’ names. I had to keep on going back to my notes and checking (‘Doone? Now was the name I invented Ailie or Ailee?) 

I plodded on. And plodded on. I finally completed the first draft, and promptly re-wrote most of it. Eventually, off to my treasured, and trusted, editor Jo Field, who highlighted all the holes in the writing and the plot. Another re-write. Another edit. 

All this time, I was still having to market my other books, run the family, see to my daughter’s horses, do all the things that Life demands…
Nearly there. Final re-write and the final copy-edit was looming. We had an unexpected Nice Event – my husband had a lottery win. Just enough to buy our own house and escape the pollution, noise and general bleh of North East London for the bliss of Devon.

House hunting takes time, Jo had edited as far as she could, so off Ripples went to a different copy-editor (always a good idea to use two editors. Well, in theory).
This editor screwed up. He decided he wasn’t too keen on my style and altered the structure of too many sentences. OK, so he altered to correct grammar – I don’t write correct grammar. (example: ‘Jesamiah filled the glass with rum; drank.’ Which was changed to: ‘Jesamiah filled the glass with rum. He drank.’) Yuck. Loses the ‘picture’ of Jesamiah doesn’t it?
 In consequence I hit the roof and had to re-edit the edit, putting back the worst of the changes to how they were originally. The punctuation had gone hay-wire as well. It seems that the semi-colon is now out of fashion. They had all become commas or full stops – which again altered the structure of the sentences, I felt. 
In consequence of me “being cross” the guy had to re-edit the entire manuscript – which then took us close to Christmas. 

Finally we got to the stage of publication – right in the middle of me moving home. Note to authors. Not a good idea. Still, my thanks to Rachel Malone for holding the fort for me while I was off-line.

With Ripples In The Sand launched (without me) at least the book was now in print, and Jesamiah fans could (hopefully) enjoy his next duel with Trouble. I managed a proof read, but being distracted I’m not sure if all the errors have been picked up – and again here is the disadvantage of being an Indie author – you only have yourself to rely on. No big publishing house to see to these little things, to shoulder the burden. Ripples needs another read-through, a fresh pair of eyes to do a proof read…

No one has pointed out any huge blunders though, so fingers crossed…

Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics had, yet again, designed me a fabulous cover. We’d had several different versions, all based around the same background photograph, kindly supplied by my trusted editor, Jo’s son, Simon Murgatroyd.

Getting Tiola (modelled by my good friend, Anne Bartsch) in the right proportion, and the ship close enough to be seen clearly, yet not so close to look odd, was difficult – as was getting the right effect of the ripples in the sand. Cathy is a skilled designer, however, and made a superb job of it (as always) and the end result is fantastic.

Except for one huge embarrassing oversight.

Because of the delay, the messing about, the move, my lack of concentration and everything else, no one noticed that Simon’s name had been clipped off the acknowledgements and copyright page.
For this I feel as red-faced as a red-faced author can get. My deepest apologies!
The oversight will be put right when we re-print – but I am hoping, for now, that my humble-pie will suffice. 

Moral of the story. Check, check, and re-check.
And you can bet your life there will still be something missed.

click HERE for an animated version
of the Ripples In The Sand Cover
 (look closely at the image - the sea is moving!)

Ripples In The Sand is available on Amazon, all on-line bookstores, and can be ordered from your local bookstore

ISBN-10: 1781320772
ISBN-13: 978-1781320778


  1. Wow Helen - I had no idea all of that was going on (I knew a little, but jeez!). Congratulations on the house by the way - and what a great way to get it! Hope all has been going well and you are enjoying the country life.

  2. Yep - it's been a bit of a rough ride at times these last couple of years! I came very close to giving up writing because of the pressure, but I struggled on.... and I really do not recommend moving house in the middle of publishing a book! :-)

    Hope all is well with you and your husband - any plans on visiting the UK again (you MUST come & have lunch with me in my new home in Devon!)

  3. I am so glad you didn't give up writing - I know there are many others beside myself who think you are a wonderful writer! Any plans for more historicals??

    We are well, thank you. We do plan on visiting again - probably not this year though, hopefully next. If so, we would be more than happy to accept your kind invitation!

  4. Yes Daphne I still want to write a follow-up to Harold, and I have plans for an "adventure" series that will be a spin-off from my Arthurian Trilogy, and I want to get the next instalment of my Sea Witch adventure/fantasy series written. Pity I can't write three books at once! :)


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