Nothing To See Here …

Except there is …

More on that story later. First, a quick update on the audiobooks.

It’s been a quiet week. My local writers collective met yesterday, which was lovely, and on Tuesday, I finally managed to send the blips I’d spotted in the audio version of The Wrong Stuff back to Gareth. It’s his birthday today. And looking at the quality of the recordings he’s done so far, I’m feeling a little giddy! As if it’s my birthday and all! I am a little in awe of his talent and I will owe him for this, pretty much in perpetuity.

Clearly I feel a bit nervous about the audio in some respects. This is partly because I can’t quite believe it’s happening but also because, as royalty share, I’d really like it to do well so Gareth actually earns something for his trouble. I suspect it’ll be work from other authors who hear it rather than royalties, but he is aware of that and seems totally undaunted, even if I’m actually beginning to feel a bit guilty.

The other, far more straightforward reason to harbour doubts is because it’s my stuff he’s narrating. And doubting your stuff is all part of being creative. And jeez there’s nothing like listening to someone read your magnum opus, and read it really well, to fully appreciate any deficiencies in the writing. Imposter syndrome anyone? Yeeees a bit. It’s definitely A Thing we creatives get; to shit bricks about what we’ve done I mean, even when we know it’s alright really. But there’s more than a slight feeling here of, ‘Oh god, this bloke is absolutely bloody brilliant and the material I’ve given him is … er hem … not actually quite as brilliant as he is.’ I was aware that my talent lies more in the telling of the story than any linguistic poncing toddling involved so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise, and yet … yeh … there we are.

Maybe one of the biggest, most important things anyone learns, while doing creative anything, is the difference between doubts that are, basically, just your mojo messing with your arse, and real doubts. Learning when to listen to those doubts and when to just grit your teeth, ignore the cringing inside and push on through is a big part of learning how to create. When I’m working on a novel, I usually start to get severe misgivings about a third of the way in. Then I get stuck. Either because I’ve gone off in the wrong direction, or because I just need a bit of time for my subconscious to work out what’s going to happen next. That’s why I had to stop writing the big stuff when Dad got bad, because there was never enough time to get back into the complicated projects, catch up and start working again, before the next crisis hit from the Real World.

Discussing the doubts side of it with Gareth, briefly, it turns out that he gets them too. Like I said, standard creative procedure I suspect, but it’s still comforting, and a little affirming, to have confirmation from someone else, too. Especially someone with less reason to doubt than many of us. Yeh, so while I do doubt the quality of my stuff, I guess I also know, sort of, that it’s probably a load of bollocks in this case.

Anyway, we are hoping to have the first draft done before he heads off on tour at the end of next week. It’s likely that I won’t have enough time to listen and get the alts back, but he will probably be able to do those during the spring holidays, in April, when he gets back.

Talking about doubts … I have a new book out today. Short is not my best metier and I have a few genuine misgivings about this one which, I suspect are well founded. Except the description of Mrs Dingleton’s, I like that. Never mind, here are the details anyway! In a new departure from my standard, somewhat laissez faire release strategy, I’m also running an exciting competition in which someone can win some smashing K’Barthan Blingery. Phnark. Feel free to enter if you like.

Nothing To See Here

Yes! It has landed. The next novella in the series of shorts about The Pan of Hamgee’s time as a delivery man for Big Merv is now out. Woot.

Here’s the blurb …

It’s midwinter and preparations for the biggest religious festival in the K’Barthan year are in full swing. Yes, even though, officially, religious activity has been banned, no-one’s going to ignore Arnold, The Prophet’s Birthday, especially not Big Merv. He orders The Pan of Hamgee to deliver the traditional Prophet’s Birthday gift to his accountants and lawyers. As usual, The Pan has managed to elicit the unwanted attention of the security forces. Can he make the delivery and get back to the Parrot and Screwdriver pub in time for an unofficial Prophet’s Birthday celebration with his friends?

If you’re interested you can find out more by clicking on the picture or clicking here:

The competition

Yes, bling your morning cuppa or amaze your colleagues with this fabulous K’Barthan Mug.

If you do end up reading and enjoying Nothing To See Here, you can use your incredible knowledge of the plot in a game of skill and chance to— er hem. You can enter a prize draw to win this smashing K’Barthan mug worth many Brtitish pounds!

Well … OK at least a tenner, £15, in fact. Oh dear, this is beginning to read like one of those spoof ads in Viz.

Hint, you’ll probably be in with a good chance because I doubt many folks will enter.

All you need to do to is answer a question about the story and you will be entered into the draw … unless it’s illegal to enter raffles in your country, in which case, please don’t.

The draw will be open until the end of February. Panic not if you’ve blown your book budget already this month, Noting To See Here should be available in many libraries across the UK, US and Oceana. You might have to ask your librarian for it though. Once you’ve read the book and can answer the question, you can enter the draw here!

The competition closes on 29th Feb.


Filed under General Wittering

10 responses to “Nothing To See Here …

  1. It must be weird to have someone else read your book/narrate your book to you out loud. Were you able to stay focused? I assume it’s not a one-time thing, either, because there are changes to evaluate, and ambiguous pieces (where you and he have a different interpretation of the same words) to catch an drag into line.

    I end up doing things myself because I’m really bad at letting anyone else change what I finally got just the way I want it – in almost anything connected with my writing. What did you do to cede part of that control to your new collaborator?

    What things surprised you about the process? You had been thinking about audiobooks, and probably doing some research, so what didn’t you anticipate about the process or the final product?

    Thanks for sharing the production – it has been fascinating to read about.

    • Strangely, it’s not as weird as it might be, but that said, entirely by happenstance, had I auditioned for voice artists, Gareth’s voice is almost an exact fit of the male version I’d have gone for. I’d have been open to a lady or a man doing the job, but there was a definite tone in my head which just happens to be Gareth’s.

      Was I able to stay focussed? Yes and no. What I tended to do was listen again to any bits where I thought I’d flipped out, or where I wasn’t sure the way he’d read it was the way I’d meant it said. I have let some things go, he pronounces harassed the modern way (I pronounce it like the tweed) he also pronounces Turnadot Street as it’s spelled, Turnadot whereas in my head it’s Turnadoh. I’m very much an aural person, I talk to myself because hearing my thoughts said aloud helps me remember them. So proofing the book wasn’t so tricky. I’m reasonably confident I’ve picked most things up, especially in the second one.

      When it came to giving him room to work, well, I learned in business that if you can get people relaxed and give them a bit of room they will often come up with ideas that are completely different to yours but which work far better. Gareth has very much proved this. So I think I gave him free rein, except where he asked for guidance! Mwahahahahrgh! He probably thinks I micro managed everything! But yeh, when it came to letting him do his thing, I was surprised how easy it was, then again, I suspect our approaches are very similar! Also, he knows what he’s doing and it comes over. He enjoys audiobooks, listens to them and is a big fan of them. I have zero experience of them so clearly, it’s worth giving him plenty of slack because he’s the one with the knowledge there. He’s also a consummate professional. He approached the whole thing with down to earth practicality, like a craftsman building some shelves, no airs, just gets on with the job, but obviously loves what he does, he’s probably an actorholic. He hasn’t argued over any interpretations, he just did them as I directed. We collaborated closely on the things I knew about, ie the characters and the voices. He has the right voice anyway, and he has a pretty instinctive handle on the kind of sound and feel that I’m after – or maybe he just ‘gets’ the books. He’s very easy going; nothing is too much trouble, yet he’s realistic about what he can and can’t do and totally up front – no Liverpudlian accents, ever, apparently. So … yeh, trusting him to get it right was a lot easier than it might have been.

      What surprised me …? Hmm. The glee levels. Blimey! I never believed I could be this over the moon about anything. It’s completely bloody ridiculous. I swear it may, literally, kill me! Mwahahahahrgh!
      I was surprised how shy I felt over some parts of the process. Doing character voices in front of someone who is rather gifted at that sort of thing. Oh my fucking days! Yes, I did stand up, but there was a good reason I sat down. So, in the same way I would never challenge a Williams sister to a game of tennis … I was well out of my comfort zone there. Luckily, he got most of them right from my obscure film references. The only ones I had to actually, ‘do’ were Lord Vernon and Captain Snow and that was only aspects. But my toes still curl and I blush beetroot just thinking about it! Mwahahahahrgh! I hope he’s not reading this or he’ll take the piss out of me mercilessly.

      OK, a bit more seriously. You really need to ask the right questions, and also to give the right information. I reckon we did alright, but there were still a couple of things where I thought, ‘Blimey! If only I’d thought of that!’ One biggie was sending him a sound file where I pronounce the character and species names plus any words I do archaically like frontier, harassed and privacy. It looked as if he had a couple of learning moments himself, too, where he’d forgotten to ask me things, or underestimated how gobsmackingly enormous the books are.

      Marketing is going to be tricky. It’s a very different thing to marketing ebooks by the looks of things.

      To be honest, I hadn’t thought about audio seriously until Gareth wrote and suggested it. It was an unattainable pipe dream. Something I’d never be able to afford. Except now it’s happening. Mmm … no wonder I’m having such a glee fest.

      Hope that answers your questions! 🙂



      • Thanks. I’m going to bookmark this, because it is so full of useful stuff. Especially the part about supplying an audio example of how you want certain things pronounced. I have a small SF book being created by one of the main characters within the novel, and it has a ‘tone’ different to the rest, and several historical movies. It’s a great tip.

        The connection, well, there are people who get it, people who don’t, and people who are literally kindred souls.

        My beta reader is the latter – and I don’t know how I came to be so blessed. As a newbie, I’m all vulnerable spots where someone has thoughtlessly poked at something they didn’t get and I consider cannon.

        It’s a lot of work for your Gareth, but also a huge learning experience, and I’m so happy for both of you having the chance. I hope it is the beginning of a fruitful cooperation – and that you get the exposure you deserve.

        My plans are still ‘as read by author,’ and I know how dangerous that is (and won’t persist if it becomes obvious I shouldn’t). My books will all three be long – so really expensive if done professionally. We’ll see.

        But you should be grinning every time you think of this – enjoy that.

      • Also, it just occurred to me that an audio equivalent to a typo doesn’t exist: if you get a word wrong it’s because you think it’s a different word, not because you made a mistake with your tongue (although you could probably skip a word, and maybe say a word twice because you turned a page).

        Typos bedevil print and are so hard to catch.

      • Actually no. The brain can make you say really odd things because is the juxtaposition of other words. One in the last book was ‘the hairer was finer and shorter.’ Instead of ‘the hair’. He might splice a bit in that could be read two ways and give it with the wrong emphasis or he might read something with the same emphasis as the previous phrase without noticing. Very rarely he may leave a tiny bit of something he recorded over 2 in a 19 hour book. None in the previous two. They’ll be about three of each of those in each book (except the splicing errors) that he doesn’t catch. He is very thorough. Then there are the ambivalent ones which are down to interpretation. But it’s much easier to hear them.

      • Wish I could have held on to my illusions a little longer… But probably best not to rely on false hopes.

        So it’s just a whole new set of ways to get things horribly wrong. 🙂

      • I felt a bit like that before all this started; I knew I lacked the talent to do it myself, but I wasn’t sure I could find anyone with the talent to do it for me who would ‘get’ what I was trying to do. I wanted a British voice, too and I didn’t hold out much hope of finding one. And I’ve still no cash, so it was just something I’d consigned to pipe-dream territory. I suspect it depends hugely on who you get to do the narration. Gareth and I get on well, which always helps, he genuinely seems to like my books and he’s the kind of person they are pointed at. Those things make it a lot easier.



        On Mon, 10 Feb 2020 at 03:52, M T McGuire Authorholic wrote:


  2. I have ordered your new book from Waterstones and they will let me know when I can collect it! I am so pleased the recording is going well.

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