Books and babies: remarkably similar

Babies and booksBooks and babies: remarkably similar? Some may take offence at this comparison, but as you can do with all my posts, if you don’t like it, please move on.
This morning, on my way to work I was feeling a little low and it didn’t take me long to put my finger on the problem, as I will explain at the end of this piece.
So why are books and babies similar? Let’s compare the cycle required to achieve both.


For most, this is a pleasurable experience, whether producing babies or books the conception is an exciting time, (we’ll not go into details here as there are plenty of books and videos on the subject elsewhere, especially about making babies!) From the writer’s point of view, the formulation of an idea to the point of it being viable gives a lift to the spirit. As for the other form of conception, well, you are all adults, so feel free to form your own conclusions. What is one partially sleepless night for the parents becomes the start of a whole period of sleeplessness for the author.


Although the process is similar in that this is the period when both babies and books develop, there is a major difference. The gestation period for babies is pretty much fixed per species; not so for books. This can be anything from a matter of weeks to an entire lifetime. Other than that, the similarities are remarkable; developing from an embryonic state to a fully developed being.


This is when all the planning takes place. For babies we think of names, decide what to buy in the way of clothes, toys, buggies, cots etc., how to decorate the nursery and choose where to have the birth. For books, we think of names, how to decorate the cover, decide where to advertise to spread the word, and choose where to have the launch.


Panic time! We are now in the period where all rational thought has gone outBabies and books are both born of the window. For a mother it is a time of excitement overshadowed by physical pain and anxiety; anxiety for the baby’s health and well-being – the father, well, at this point he is usually a gibbering wreck. An author experiences a similar excitement to the mother but is unlikely to be going through physical pain at this point. There will undoubtedly be anxiety and just as the mother will be feeling, the author will also have an overwhelming desire for it to end. The author will be a gibbering wreck, just like the father.


The baby has arrived, mother and baby are doing well and bonding already. The book is on the shelves, people are buying and the reviews coming in.
Then bam! For the mother, post-natal depression rears its ugly head and she has a difficult time. Not surprising as she has been on quite an emotional rollercoaster and now all the fuss has died down. And this is where the writer and mother differ. Our post-natal depression comes at the end of the pre-natal stage, once the book is as polished as you are ever going to make it and it is ready for its first public appearance. That’s when our spirits drop as the realisation hits, there is no more to do on this book.

That is where I am today. Watch this space!

Around the World in Eighty Dishes.

No babies here, just cookbooks

Why I am wrong.

As both of my readers know, I have been quite vocal about being an independent writer and suggesting we don’t need publishers, and agents in particular; am I wrong?

Self-publishing was recommended to me when I first started this writing malarkey and I have no regrets about setting out along that path. When I was an apprentice in the airline business, I spent time in many different departments and it gave me an appreciation of the industry and how it worked. By being involved in the whole book making process, I now have an understanding of some of the problems associated with publishing and printing a book.

By doing it myself, I’ve learned about editing, creating a cover, formatting the interior, obtaining an ISBN, registering copyright and I’ve seen the printing process. I’m not an expert in any of those fields, but at least I have an understanding.

But, and it is a big but again (get that image out of your head,) there is one part I still struggle with, selling. It doesn’t matter what I do in the way of advertising, cajoling, suggesting or pleading, my book sales remain abysmally low, unless I am selling direct to the public at a signing.

Now, there are some out there who would suggest it is because my writing is rubbish, it must be, that’s why I am an indie. Well, I don’t believe it is, although it certainly improves with everything I write. So I have a  question for those who suggest it is – how do you know? If you haven’t read my work, you can’t possibly say what it is like, yet some remain unconvinced and tar all of us indies with the same brush. It is because of this I came to the conclusion, yes, I am wrong.

Some time ago I wrote a post about having direct access to some publishers thesePublishing Contract days, and I no longer saw the point of having agents. Well, I do now.

Agents are there working for you, doing the things that either you can’t or don’t have the time to do, with people who remain inaccessible to you as an independent, and that is why I have decided I must have some form of representation and that is the reason I am wrong about the industry. What we all need to realise is we are really on the same side, trying to achieve the same aims; getting readers to buy books which give them value for money and have them wanting more by the same author.

I will still self-publish some titles (I have a cookbook coming out in the near future, so watch this space,) but I think the bulk of my writing must be represented in some way.

This doesn’t mean I will jump at a contract if offered. I will need to feel it is the right person and the right contract for me. I want to establish a growing relationship, something that will be long lasting and fruitful. The right person and agency is out there, and so my journey begins.

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2018, the year you see more of me, and see me less

Happy New Year to everyone, welcome to 2018…yes I know, we are so over that now, but this is the first time I have seen most of you (by that, I mean the other two of my three readers.)

I have been doing this writing malarkey since around 2011, seriously doing itMe in Bahrain that is. Obviously, I could write before that, but doing joined up sentences then making them into paragraphs, paragraphs into chapters and chapters into books, is something relatively new to me.

Once I had managed to achieve this, there came the problem of what to do with the finished article.

‘Sell them,’ they said. (I’ve never actually got to the bottom of who they are, but they do seem to say a lot.)

‘What a grand idea,’ I said, and that’s where it all came apart.

You see, everyone told me (‘everyone’ appears to be related to ‘they,’) that I need a presence on social media, Facer and Twittbook at the very least and so I did that.

Not long after going public with my private Facer profile, I gained my first con artist, a young lady from the USA, (probably a 55-year-old man from Croydon) who was doing her(his) best to wheedle her way into my life and separate me from my money. She failed and moved on to pastures new, I set up my ‘professional’ profile on Facer.

Ever since then, I have been active on my social media, some days and weeks more than others, and in all the time (well since 2014 anyway,) the organic growth of my followers can be measured on the fingers of one foot; the same applies to the followers of my blog. Now, maybe this is because I bore the pants off people, or maybe it’s because there are no longer enough people to go around all the bloggers, Facers, and Twittbookers. I suspect it’s a bit of both. As for the book sales, I sell more paperback copies than eBook because I sell paperbacks face to face (the pistol in my hand helps.)

Then there is the fact there are not enough hours in the day for me to read every post, tweet and blog, I suspect most people are in the same boat and I fear that as a tool, social media is fast becoming blunt. Followers are already following the ones they want to follow (officially sanctioned stalking is another way of putting it.)

So, I am going to reduce reduce my social media presence. I no longer intend to trawl through countless posts asking me to ‘like’ something to save a little boy in China, ‘repost my meme’ and twenty wishes will be granted, ‘cut and paste this’ and Microsoft will donate $20M to save the lesser-spotted cat ferret.  My time would be better spent writing more novels, magazine articles and continuing with my cookery interests and posts; especially as I have four novels, a screenplay and a cookery book on the go.

Coming in 2018

It’s not all negative though, and I’m not giving up on it altogether (I realise that might be a negative for some people!)  I still intend to pop in from time to time to see the fabulous people I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. As a bunch, authors have to be up there with the best. You are supportive, warm, generous and selling more books than me, dammit!

So how are you going to see me more if I am to be here less? I am nearing completion of a small (okay, not so small, it’s huge) recording booth and I intend to release some of my blog posts on video. I will also be recording some music tracks which will advertise my books, but their primary raison d’être will be the music (ear plugs will be provided free of charge.) I will be attempting to do my first audio book too. Just quite when this will all happen is not finalised yet (my round tooit is still in the post, apparently,) but happen, it will.

2018, the year you will both see and hear me…be afraid…be very afraid.

A Day in the Life of an Author

Walk into any bookstore or library and you are walking into a multitude of worlds; worlds created in the mind of a writer or author. The books you see are the result of hundreds of hours of angst, perspiration, joy, anger, tears, frustration and relief. Relief? Yes, relief that finally all those ideas spinning around in your head have wormed their way from your brain to the paper, in what you hope is a meaningful order.

Have you ever wondered how those words got there? I have created a snapshot of a typical weekend in the life of an author, (an author who has a day job,) so you can see how all those random thoughts are processed to create the wondrous work you see on the bookshelves.

10:00pm          Decide on an early night to tackle a full day writing tomorrow, starting at 8am.

11:59pm          Stop looking at silly cat videos on YouTube.

01:00am          Think of a marvellous plot twist as you are finally dropping off to sleep, one so brilliant you are certain to remember it in the morning.

05:00am          Wake up at your normal weekday time. Find a cat pawing you in the face looking to be fed (cats do not understand weekends and neither does your body clock.)

05:10am          Get up. Trip over the other cat lurking at the foot of the bed (cats work in pairs to trap humans; even cats who hate each other do this. It’s a basic instinct.) Feed the cats to keep them quiet.

05:15am          Go back to bed for a further half-hour sleep.

09:30am          Wake up and realise your day is off to a late start.

09:40am          Decide you should have a full English breakfast before getting to work. Spend the next ten minutes debating with your wife whether to cook or to go to a café.

09:50am          Having decided on the latter, start writing a shopping list to kill two birds with one stone. No sense in going out and not doing the shopping at the same time.

09:51am          Remember you had a brilliant idea for a plot twist the previous night. Fail to remember what it was. Resolve to buy another notebook to put at the side of the bed, along with a pen (the previous twenty-three notebooks and pens appear to have been taken by aliens. What they are going to do with all those notebooks and pens, you have no idea, but the germ of an idea for a sci-fi novel pops into your head.)

09:55am          Complete shopping list, failing to add notebook and pen as you have been distracted by the sci-fi book plot.

10:00am          Leave the house resolving to be back by midday.

02:15pm          Arrive back with the shopping.

02:30pm          Having packed the shopping away, decide to have a cup of tea before getting to work on the next chapter.

04:00pm          Stop looking at Facebook and open your writing program.

05:00pm          Having written six words, which do not quite convey what you have in your mind. Decide to cook the evening meal.

05:01pm          Open a bottle of wine while you and your wife decide on what to cook.

05:20pm          Order a take-away as you don’t fancy any of the food you bought that morning.

05:25pm          Have another glass of wine while you wait for the take-away to be delivered. Pointless to start writing now, only to be interrupted by the delivery driver.

07:00pm          Get back to work on the next chapter, glass of wine in hand.

07:05pm          Open another bottle of wine because the first one seems to be empty. Squint at the old bottle to see if it is cracked anywhere and has been leaking.

07:20pm          Look at the thirty-seven new words you have written and try to think of a better way it could be worded.

07:25pm          Start researching on the internet for a suitable location for your two main characters to have a meeting.

09:35pm          Stop looking at silly cat videos on YouTube and resolve to finish this chapter before bed.

11:55pm          Wake up with a stiff neck because you have been slumped on your desk for the last two hours.

12:01am          Go to bed.

12:15am          Remember the marvellous plot twist as you are dropping off to sleep. Also remember you forgot to buy a notebook and pen.

This is likely to be repeated the next day, shopping included as many items were missed off the list the first time around while you considered the sci-fi plot.
So, next time you complain the sequel to your favourite novel is taking too long to appear, give the author a break, you now know why.

Emirates Festival of Literature

Emirates Festival of Literature

Last weekend, my wife and I were lucky enough to get a chance to go to the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai. This festival has been in existence since 2009 and is an opportunity not only to purchase a

The Burj Khalifa early morning. (Taken from our hotel room)

selection of books, but to see and hear the authors talk about their work.

Unfortunately, we were only able to spend one full day at the festival, but manage to cram a lot into that day, starting off by having a chat with the lovely Sue Moorcroft, Romantic Fiction author; an arrangement we had made earlier in the week.

Kathy Reichs is a name you will either know well or have never heard of, depending on the type of books you like to read. Whether you know Kathy or not, I suspect most of you will have heard of the TV series, Bones, and that is based on the forensic anthropologist character of Temperance Brennan, featured in her novels. The interview with Kathy, conducted by the talented Paul Blezard was in my opinion, far too short; the hour flew by. Paul’s relaxed style made it feel as though we were at dinner with a couple of friends discussing their work.

After this feast for forensic lovers, my wife and I parted company, temporarily I might add, whilst I went off to do a two-hour workshop on screenwriting; a subject in which I am very much interested. Conducted by the talented Nicholas Forzy, I was soon immersed in the intricacies of setting scenes and creating characters. His dynamic approach to the subject had us all caught up in the excitement of creating a world of characters for the screen; again, it was over, seemingly almost before it had started.

Another session with Kathy Reichs, this time on stage with another

talented writer, Andrew Davies, whose historical screenplay adaptations are

By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine – Own work, Public Domain,

widely acclaimed by TV and cinema audiences alike, was our first fayre after lunch. Again, the stage was oozing talent, and not without its moments of comedy too, when someone asked if Kathy Reichs thought President Trump would make a good character in one of her books; “As a victim?” Kathy asked.

It is many years since I picked up a Jeffrey Archer novel, so many, that I am not sure even of the title, but there is no doubt he has a large and loyal following. Our final session of the day was an audience with the man himself. Love him or loathe him (much like Marmite), without a shadow of a doubt, that man knows how to entertain an audience and tell a story.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to the festival, grab it with both hands. I will be back next year, as a member of the public if need be, but I do intend to go back one day as an attending author and talk about some aspect of my own work.


Is there anybody there?


Last year I did something I had said I would never do, I submitted my novel, Harry, to a literary agent, and to compound my moment of madness, I sent it to a second one a few days later.

Harry - Glen R StansfieldWhen I started doing this writing malarkey, that was what I’d intended to do; get an agent, get a publisher and be happy. But then I attended a writers’ gathering near to my home in Scotland, which I covered in previous blog posts, and that set me on the path of self-publishing and a vow to stay that way. Master of my own destiny and lack of sales.

However, I digress. Two days ago, I got a rejection email from one of the two agents. Not bad going, a promise to respond within twelve weeks and twenty-three weeks later I get a rejection. The other agent hasn’t even responded.

And you know what? I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed, because what I’d done was the wrong thing for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I still intend to seek an agent because I now know enough about the industry to know that is the only way I am going to sell books. ‘What?’ I hear you cry. ‘What about all those people that sell hundreds of thousands of books without an agent and aGlen R Stansfield publisher?’ Well, that’s because they can. They have the know-how and the wherewithal to do this and I’m not sure I do. I can sell books when I meet people, but I just don’t seem to be getting them in front of the right people to make a difference to my online sales.

So why was I pleased to have been rejected? Because I had gone for two of the biggest names in the industry and that would not be the right fit for me. What I need is someone who perhaps knows the industry but is just starting out as an agent in their own right. Someone who is looking to grow with me as I grow as an author, someone with whom I can have a telephone conversation or a meeting without them dashing off to tend to Ian Rankine or Val McDermid.

So, if there is anyone out there that fits the bill, I am open to offers; I’ll even buy the first coffee.

Guest post from Voinks

My thanks to fellow author Voinks for permission to repost her latest blog here. She is on the nail when it comes to the writing process. You can find out more about her by visiting her website.

Writing can be one of the loneliest professions. Even if we’re not stuck away in the proverbial attic our quill pens or laptops are not the friendliest of company.

Luckily the ‘family’ of authors are one of the most supportive group I’ve ever come across. Having been there, done that and bought the printing paper I’ve learnt that experienced, best selling, traditionally published scribblers are as likely to offer their advice and support as others still struggling to understand the vagaries of the Indie route.


Here’s a quick guide to writing a book and becoming an overnight success:

  • Have an idea.
  • Start typing (or writing) feeling inspired.
  • Get stuck half way through.
  • Finally type ‘The End.’
  • Sit back and wait to become famous.
  • Realise that’s not going to work.
  • Re-read your masterpiece and discover all the errors.
  • Friends and family re-assure you it’s wonderful.
  • Re-write your blockbuster.
  • Proof read.
  • Get other authors to beta read.
  • Cry when you realise how much work it still needs.
  • Revise and proof read again.
  • Send off to publishers. Bite nails while you wait for a response.
  • (If you’re lucky) get a rejection letter. Cry again.
  • Repeat ad infinitum with proof reading, rejection letters and sobbing.
  • Start learning about self-publishing.
  • Despair (and cry).
  • Discover the joys of metatags, formatting, page layout, editing, synopsis, blurb, printing, cover design and don’t even begin to think about marketing as you realise how little you actually know.
    (I’ve left out quite a few stages as my laptop is now sodden with all the tears.)
  • Take out a second mortgage to buy more print cartridges and paper as you are now firmly hooked into the crazy idea of actually getting your book into print.
  • Daily check your number of sales- Despair.
  • Make a sale. Celebrate. That ten pence/cents royalty will make you rich- er, maybe not quite yet time to give up the day job.
  • Try to persuade everyone who has read your book to write a review.

feedback-19-1-17-1291746_960_720     Feed an author 14.9.15  Realise how important reviews are to an author.

It doesn’t matter what you say, or even if you have never written one before, I can’t stress enough how important they are to spread the word and support the ‘newbie’ authors. Thank you.

Here are some suggestions for books you might like to read and the writers who will totally understand the problems. 😀



ABC Destiny

(Watch this space for the next release, hopefully this year.)


Paula Harmon
The Advent Calendar
Short stories

Glen R Stansfield

Julie Eger
Eeny Meeny Criminy Crow

Rick Haynes
Evil never dies
Medieval fantasy
Chocolate chunks from Crazy Crete
Short stories

Mike Williams
Lavender and Haddock
The allure of the Red Wyrm
Educating creatures
Comedy trilogy

Jo Roderick
Format it yourself
Non Fiction. Part of a series giving guidance on formatting for self-publishing
Bermuda Phoenix
Romantic comedy

Yasmin Selina Butt
Gunshot Glitter

Seumas Gallacher
Killer City
Part of the Jack Calder Crime Fiction series

To our readers: Hopefully there’s something for everyone in these suggestions. Please check them out, tell your friends and help to spread the word.
Even better, buy our books and leave a review.

On behalf of authors everywhere, thank you for your support.

© Voinks January 2017

Extended Family

Extended Family.

Back in February last year, I wrote a blog post about the ‘family’ of authors.

Apart from bikers, I have never known such a diverse group of people giving so much support to fellow members. Whatever the level of your writing, from ‘newbie’ to published, someone will always be on hand to give encouragement and support.

Monday night was the first monthly meeting of 2017, for the Bahrain Writers’ Circle. This is the time we pay our annual subscriptions and discuss ideas and events for the forthcoming year.

We had several new members signing on, and I hope they were encouraged by the positive attitude that comes from the BWC members. They are most certainly an extended family, headed by our very capable matriarch, Rohini Sunderam (she’ll kill me for that, I’m sure.)

As is nearly always the case, the meeting slid into a general discussion about a variety of topics, mostly about writing but some not, and this seems to be what happens when this group of writers gets together, and is certainly my experience with other writers online.

I am not sure what the reason is; perhaps us ‘arty’ types, (less arty than myself I cannot imagine) are prone to talking about anything that comes to mind, or maybe this is what happens when a group of individuals with a common interest get together. Our discussions in the BWC can be lively, but never become acrimonious; we can agree to disagree; one of us must get in the last word of course! We are writers, after all.

We come from all walks of life, have varied interests outside the written word, different cultures, religions, jobs, ideals and principles, yet we respect others may not agree with our own thoughts and may have different ideas about the world.

Speaking of the world, perhaps it would be a better place if writers replaced the politicians, and the politicians went out into the real world for once.

We couldn’t do any worse…could we?



What’s in a Word?

What’s in a Word?

A post with a link to an interesting article appeared on FaceTweet the other day, relating to a piece in the Independent newspaper, November 2015. Harvard cognitive scientist and linguist, Steven Pinker, listed fifty-eight most commonly misused words or phrases. As with almost any post on FaceTweet, it prompted something of a debate.

Whilst I agree with a lot of what he said, I must disagree with the idea that ‘it has always meant that and should always do so in the future,’ approach to language.

Language is dynamic; almost a living entity, wriggling and writhing its way through society; a serpent of communication. And we must remember what purpose language serves; to have a common symbology to communicate our thoughts to others. So, it follows that when the meaning of a particular symbol i.e. word, changes its common usage by the people using those words, that will be the new meaning of the word. Nothing could be more clearly illustrated by this than the words ‘gay’ and ‘text.’

In the twelfth century, ‘gay’ almost exclusively meant carefree and joyful. However, by the mid sixteen-hundreds the word acquired a new meaning associated with immorality. By the nineteenth century the meaning extended to include homosexuality and by the mid twentieth century the usage had changed sufficiently for the word to rarely be used in its original context.

Any dictionary prior to nineteen ninety-two would show ‘text’ to be a noun, but then in the December of that year something happened that would add another meaning and class to the word; a twenty-two-year-old engineer sent a message from his computer to a mobile telephone and so text messaging was born. It took another decade for text messaging or ‘texting’ to become common, but in doing so ‘text’ became a verb as well as a noun.

These are just two examples of changes in our language, and I’m betting ‘would of’ will become an accepted alternative to ‘would have’ over the next few years. I can’t say as I like it but the usage is becoming more common.

Academics may argue over the use of a semi-colon or the true meaning of a word or phrase, but we must all remember that the language belongs to the people.


Posting on

Guest blog on Seumas Gallacher’s famous blogging emporium.

Yesterday, my good friend and fellow author, Seumas Gallagher (blame Apple autocorrect! ) Gallacher, had me as a guest on his blog. So my two readers don’t miss out on the fun, I am reposting it here.

…Glen R. Stansfield shows how Authors often don’t ‘see themselves as others see them’…

…one of my Author ‘besties’ here in the Middle East is actually a terrific hat with a writer underneath it… Glen R. Stansfield, the man who drove on a motorbike more than 200 miles in the early hours to join a ‘croissants and coffee with author friends’ morning with me in Manchester recently, and he lives just down the road from me in Bahrain…go figure… who says scribblers aren’t part-crazy?… here’s an insightful offering in the form of his Guest Post… enjoy…

As a child I was quite shy. In the sixth-form at school I shunned thecommon room because there were people there I didn’t know, and girls…especially girls. Even after leaving school I retained this shyness, despite being the lead singer and playing lead guitar in a band. When did you last see a lead anybody try to keep out of the limelight on a stage? (Actually we had electric lights…I’m not that old!)

So, you can imagine that group events and parties were not my thing, and I have to confess that parties still don’t really do it for me, especially as I don’t dance (there are parts of me that don’t stop moving for several minutes if I’m too energetic.)

Not until my mid-thirties did I start to come out of my shell, and even then there was still a part of me that was reserved, especially when meeting new people or in unfamiliar situations.

It was while studying for a degree in Psychology I discovered something that came as a bit of a shock. As part of a class experiment, we completed a questionnaire to determine where we were on the Eysenck introvert-extrovert scale. The results were collected anonymously and the range of results were given to the class. This shy, retiring person scored 19 out of 21 on the extroversion scale, the highest score in the class. Yes, it appears I am a stark, raving extrovert. The biggest shock was that everyone in my group knew that was my score! I, on the other hand, remained unconvinced.

Then a few years ago I started this writing malarkey. My first outing as a writer was to attend a writers’ gathering in Wigtown, Scotland, near to where my home is in the UK. At that stage I hadn’t published anything, and was only part-way into my first novel, Fishing for Stones. I must confess, I felt to be something of a fraud amongst published authors, and slightly uncomfortable in their company and that of other aspiring writers.

Fast forward to Bahrain, where two years ago I went to the Bahrain Writers’ Circle for the first time, to hear a certain Mr Seumas Gallacher give a talk on being a writer and selling books. Ihad such a warm welcome from fellow and would-be authors, I joined straight away.

Since then, I have launched my second novel, Harry, attended the book launches of other members of the BWC, held a joint signing with Seumas at a local book store, and shared a stall with him recently at a craft fair, where we sold a good number of books in yet another joint signing session. Online, I am a member of several groups run by fellow authors.

So whether you hide under a rock every day to do your writing, or sit in the window of a local store, tapping away at the keys, don’t be afraid to be involved with other writers; they are amongst some of the most supportive people on the planet.

Fellow authors, you rock!

…thanks, that man, Glen… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!