Friday, 22 January 2016

Parish notices

All the exciting social media activity I talked about in last week’s blog and the business of setting down to write the next book (it will be about James Burke and feature the Peninsular War, thank you for asking) – all this seems to be taking any time left after skating and dancing and renewing the house insurance and… Anyway, you don’t want to know.

This seems to have left a gap where writing this blog should have gone, so this week I’m catching up on all those silly little things I’ve meant to mention but that haven't seemed to justify blog posts of their own. Think of these as parish notices, if you will. Anyway, it gives me an excuse to produce a blog in the form of a numbered list and apparently this is exactly what people like to click on, so I'm hoping to be overwhelmed by the scale of your response and enthusiasm.

Even more enthusiastic than this lot

1. Libraries are great, especially if they have my books in them

Please try to get your local library to stock my books  – and books by any other independent authors you enjoy, for that matter. It's that time of year when all my friends boast about the size of their Public Lending Rights cheques and I'm feeling left out. People can't borrow my books if they're not in the library and they won't be in the library unless you ask librarians to put them there. (I blogged about it recently but I think I underplayed the whole getting paid when people borrow my books bit.)

OK, strictly speaking, this is a bookshop. But when it's as beautiful as this, who cares?

2. You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle books

Don’t want to pay for paperbacks but don’t have a Kindle? Not a problem. There is a free Kindle app (download it here) that lets you read Kindle books on your tablet or even your phone. I know a lot of you know this already, but a lot of people don't, so it's worth mentioning.

I prefer reading on a tablet to reading on a Kindle. I like the slightly larger page size, the colour illustrations and the ease of making notes, but that may just be me. The main thing is, for a lot of people, that you don’t have to pay for a second bit of kit to carry around with you.

I also sometimes read on my phone. I never thought I would, but it’s surprisingly easy to cope with and I can pull out a book and read one handed standing on the Tube or wherever. (Subway to my US readers.) All your various Kindles and Kindle apps can sync together, so whichever you pick up it should open at the page you’re on.

3. Book groups are wonderful

I love book groups. If any of you are members of a book group and want me to come along and talk about any of my books, I’m more than happy. Unfortunately, it has to be somewhere I can get to reasonably easily and that usually means London or mid-Wales. But I’m open to suggestions if you live somewhere really pretty.

Mid-Wales and really pretty - but maybe not so many book groups just here

4. I do author talks

Im also available to talk about the history behind the books. If your local history group wants to know more about the first White Rajah of Borneo or the siege of Cawnpore or any of the campaigns that James Burke fought in, I'm happy to come and chat. I can also offer a talk on some of the weapons featured in The White Rajah. That’s an illustrated talk: may contain sharp objects. Contact me through the Comments section or email

If you don't like the talk, there could be consequences ...

Philip Pullman is completely right to complain that writers are expected to talk for free. When I'm a best-selling author, I'll charge you staggering amounts of money. Not yet, though.

5. The one you saw in the click bait

All these click-bait lists say things like: "#5 will blow your mind." They lie. In my case there isn't even a #5. I've run out of things to say. I'll be reduced to writing my book next.

I'll be back soon, hopefully with lots of exciting things to talk about. Until then, have fun. I know it's cold (unless you're one of my Southern hemisphere readers) but that's a great excuse to cuddle up with a good book. 

If you have been, thank you for reading.

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