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Friday 14 January 2022

Adventuring to Africa with debut author Charles Moberly (for Broadminded Adults only!)

Author: Charles Moberly

Confessions of a publishing novice

Between 1986 and 2005, I wrote three books. The first two are historical novels, although one of them could also be described as a romantic thriller. The third is an extremely rude satirical comedy.

Being in full-time work, then spending twenty years looking after eleven acres of land (my fields in North Devon bordered onto Helen’s), I made no effort to find a publisher. Then my wife fell seriously ill, so that I became her full-time carer. It was only after she’d died early in 2021 that I decided to make an effort to get my three novels published. Who to turn to? No brainer: Helen, of course, my ex-neighbour, dear friend and well-published EXPERT. [Helen: I'm not sure about that Charles!]

After a brief discussion with Helen, I decided that “Assisted Self-Publishing” was the thing for me. So I contacted two firms. With one, I didn’t feel comfortable that I would be getting close personal attention. With the other, I thought the service would be good, but they were horribly expensive. I had set my heart on Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics to design my cover. But when my favoured assisted self-publishing firm refused to make any reduction at all for not designing my cover, I pulled the plug on them too. Then came the email from Helen which changed EVERYTHING.

‘Why don’t you do it yourself, publish your books on Amazon? I’ll help you. I’ll even do it for you, if you like. It won’t save you much money, but you will have fun.’ 

This was a fabulously generous offer. I rejected the idea of Helen doing it all for me, partly because that would mean that I wouldn’t learn, and also because I didn’t want to impose on her valuable time that much. (In practice, I think I’ve taken up a lot more of Helen’s time by blundering along and having to be corrected by her, than if she’d done it all herself. But then I would never have learned how to do it, so where would I be when it came to getting my second and third novels published?)

Fun? Yes, it has been, although highly stressful at times. But, as Helen said at the outset, I have complete control over my publishing, which I would never have had to the same degree, had I gone for one of the assisting firms. [Helen: and you would still have had the same stress issues!]

The other thing I owe to Helen has been my introduction to the brilliant and ever-patient Annie Whitehead. Many of you will know Annie as the author of several successful historical books, both fact and fiction. What Annie has done for me is to superbly proof read and copy edit my first novel, The Scrotum Toad. I’ve been privileged to be part of a lovely and highly professional team: Helen, Annie and Cathy. They all know each other extremely well, so my work passes seamlessly between them.

As for Cathy (Avalon Graphics), I can only say this. Look at what she’s done for me. How’s this for a cover?

I think that’s stunning.

Helen has also designed me a tasteful and simple blog:

She’s even dragged me kicking, snarling and growling into the world of Facebook

There’s only one thing Helen got wrong. Self-publishing on Amazon has after all saved me quite a lot of money, compared with going to a firm. But that’s only because Helen has given me so much of her valuable time for free. [Helen: the bill's in the post! *laugh*]

So what do I think of Amazon? Putting aside any troublesome thoughts about them not paying their fair share of taxes, I can honestly say that I think they’re superb. Their systems for authors are clever and extremely easy to use. Most of my technical problems have been with social media.

My life has been improved enormously by this experience. And now it’s onwards to getting my next novel, The Corncrake, published. Annie, Cathy and, if I need her, Helen, will all be there to work with me. But I won’t need Helen any more, will I? Because I’m the expert now. 
I’m not, but I have learned a lot.

© Charles Moberly, Salisbury. UK.

About the book:
(warning very adult content - but also very funny if you like tongue-in-cheek satire!)

available from Amazon

The Scrotum Toad is an outrageous comic novel set in Africa. The many and diverse characters bicker and swear in the vernacular of eight different languages and dialects: English, Danish, Yiddish, Australian, Texan, Irish, Hip Hop and Swahili.

The novel satirises beliefs, preferences, cultures, national characteristics and prejudices. It is resolutely anti-woke, and should be avoided by snowflakes who are easily offended.

The Scrotum Toad

Tangle is a tree-hugger who is often mistaken for a glamorous witch. She is proud of her organic smallholding in the heart of Africa. 

When threatened by a bullying and corrupt businessman who starts trashing the environment and the local people, who can she turn to?

Surely not that foul-mouthed Aussie TV presenter, nor those famous and fabulously wealthy international holidaymakers who suddenly invade her precious patch. And how could an international food-eating competition, sponsored by the USA’s tin-eared goodwill ambassador, solve her problems?

Surrounded by xenophobic bickering, Tangle struggles to assert her authority, aided by some unlikely admirers.

The Scrotum Toad is an outrageous comic novel which will have the easily offended spluttering over their lattes. Nationalities, cultures and occupations are satirised shamelessly. 

You have been warned.

also available as an e-book
and on
Kindle Unlimited

Here's an excerpt:

‘Naturally, we recycle all our waste products here. Before they fall a hundred and forty feet, the solids are separated from the liquids. The liquids are then filtered - at least I assume they are; hm, I’ve never really checked - to provide our drinking water.’

The word recycling alone was bound to get Chest going again. ‘You mean we’re drinking our own piss?’

‘Not just your own. Be fair, other people’s too.’

Teeny looked alarmed. ‘Aren’t there any side effects?’

‘Oh loads. And front effects, and rear effects.’

Lola shook her head at Teeny pityingly. Could she really be lapping up this shit? An apt way of putting it, she thought grimly to herself.

‘By the way,’ said Jake, ‘that reminds me. If you are ill as a result, do please make sure you vomit into the recycling bowl. Tangle insists that we compost everything here.’

Chest wasn’t having that. ‘I’m telling you, Sweetums, you don’t have to do that, not while I’m around and kicking. Well, partly kicking. It’s all phoney baloney, this ecology nonsense. What I want to know is what this mysterious animal is that I overheard a couple of your colleagues talking about. With my busted leg it’ll be a while before I can go huntin’ again. But I sure am curious to know what that beast might be.’

‘Ah, you mean Kirsten’s great discovery. I’m not sure I ought to be talking about that. You see... All right, then.’ Jake moved his chair closer to Chest and assumed a loud stage whisper. ‘It’s an animal which everyone thought was extinct. She’s rediscovered it.’

‘Is it big?’

‘A fair size. Let’s say you wouldn’t want to meet it on a narrow path on a dark night.’

‘My God!’ Chest’s blazing eyes revealed how impressed he was. ‘Are you able to tell me what it is?’


‘Just a hint, maybe?’

‘Put it this way, if you were to have a guess and were on the right lines, I wouldn’t put you off the scent.’

‘Let me see now. There’s the white tiger. I’ve heard they’re so rare that no one’s actually seen one for a while outside a zoo.’

Jake leaned back in his chair with a sphinx-like smile.

‘No!’ Chest didn’t dare believe it. Had he really got it in one?

Jake winked.

‘Well I’ll be darned!’

‘Keep it to yourself. Yourselves.’ Jake sounded panicky, as though regretting he’d said too much. ‘We don’t want to be letting the cat out of the bag. The cat?’

Chest leaned back. ‘Don’t you worry, son. I’ve been producing movies for thirty years.’


‘Thank you, Dream Girl, thirty-two years booking stars, planning locations, hiring directors. That requires heapsa confidentiality. Discretion is my middle name. Your secret’s safe with me, and with Teeny. She’s been by my side for all of that time and more...’


‘Is that right, my Cutesy Pie, well thirty-eight it is, so you can count on her too. And you, Lola?’

‘Oh you bet,’ said Lola acidly.

‘Chest can’t wait to get back hunting again,’ gushed Teeny. ‘It’s why he came out to Africa, that and to plan his next movie.’

‘We’ll leave that subject for now,’ said Chest sharply. He was still smarting over Rutt’s rebuttal of his plan to shoot an African film about Gordy.

‘And you Teeny?’ Jake saw Teeny as a target for further leg pulling.

‘Oh me, I came out to get a baby.’

‘Do you know, for one moment I actually thought you said you came out here to get a baby.’

‘I did.’

‘To have a baby, how wonderful!’

‘Oh, you flatterer!’ Teeny shrieked with delight. ‘I think I’m a bit old for that. No, I came out to buy one.’


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