Arnold’s pants!

Blimey but it’s windy here. Must be all the fruit I’m eating. Oh ho ho. The weather is pretty blowy too. Storm Ellen, I thought we’d had Ellen after Dennis but thinking about it I think that was some Spanish one with an exotic name from far further down the alphabet that muscled in.

This week I’m feeling a bit bleargh. I dunno why really because, as things go, I’ve actually achieved a bit of a score.

McOther is 60 next week and I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. Except with covid that’s hard and also McOther, himself, while he likes to be made a fuss of, also, does not like to be made a fuss of. So if you’re going to plan some jolly birthday japes for him you do rather have to go about it the right way. This involves tact, intelligence and subtlety so as you can imagine, I’m pretty much bollocksed from the get-go on that one. I toyed with the idea of buying him a trip in a Spitfire. They do those just down the road at Duxford. Trouble is, while I could, just, run to it, it would wipe out my entire savings … and I have another £1,500 headlight pending for next month. Thinking further, I hummed and haaad about casting the net wider. I reckoned that a fair few friends and colleagues would have chipped in five or ten quid reducing it to a more manageable dent.

However, I am piss poor at fundraising so I’d have probably raised about thirty quid and McOther would have been unimpressed if I’d blown my savings. While I’m scratching my head over this conundrum. Up pops a friend who knows someone who works at Duxford and she suggested some other tours and experiences which this lady is involved in. After a bit of a search, Bob’s your uncle! I think I have found several things I can offer him which he would love. Two or three options at Duxford, one at Biggin Hill, all look completely brilliant.

Next, with a short list, came the oh-Lordy-which-one moment. I’ve narrowed it down to three … possibly four … although unfortunately under 15s aren’t allowed on one, and with the covid malarkey, Duxford aren’t answering their phone so I couldn’t ring and ask them for details (ie does it apply to all their tours or just that one and is it an insurance exclusion, or is there scope for accommodating an extremely sensible twelve year old). I will offer him all three, some as a family day out and some as just him and he can pick the one he wants. And there we are. Some things he might like! Woot.

Then there is the party. Boozy Wine dinner and staying over at some friends who we ‘bubble’ with. Yes I have to cook some things I have never cooked and they will probably taste like shit but luckily someone else is making the cake and I’m not doing all the food. Much of it will be produced by People Who Can Cook! Phew! So Real Life wise … mood nervous but at the same time, cautiously optimistic.

Oh no …

On the books front. Things are a bit crap to be honest. Nothing is selling very well at the moment and I’m trying to organise a free first in series box set for comedic science fiction fantasy. I am extremely nervous. I’m shit at placing stuff like this in the marketplace because I suck royally at keywords. Also, I need to get some covers done and I can’t really afford to ask my usual lovely people to do that so it’s going to be downloaded Creative Commons NASA images with big hand drawn letters … and a unicorn in a space helmet, or possibly Pegasus sans space helmet saying ‘Yes! I achieved escape velocity. That’s magic.’ Or ‘I bet you’re wondering how I can breathe up here, right kids?’ With an astronaut in a space suit going, ‘that’s magic.’ Or hopefully something else that’s actually funny. Anyway, it looks as if there are six of us … hopefully … unless one pulls out. I might do one more appeal for entrants! Ideally we need to be seven or eight, I think.

Writing isn’t going very well either. I haven’t. Not for ages, because Real Life. The only time I’ve had to write this week is now and instead I have to do this. And it’s not going well anyway. The K’Barthan short that’s turned into a novel is a bit of a nightmare and I shouldn’t have called them shorts because if they were called ‘K’Barthan Extras’ I could have put in for a bookbub on them but because they’re ‘shorts’ I can’t. Arnold’s pants! Head desk. I am a total moron. But I’ve reached that point in the process when you are doing the first edit and you look at it and think, crikey this is awful. But of course when you’re mid edit that’s usually because it is. I have a canal boat chase. I so want to keep it in because frankly, few things seem funnier to me than the idea of two vehicles, each with a top speed of 4mph, locked in a grim pursuit to the death. It’s just that … how do I get rid of the people running along the towpath and won’t the bad guys have airborne snurds and just … yeh, heavy on the suspension of disbelief unless I can think of a bloody good reason for it to be just the boats … you get the picture.

Also I’ve been redoing some of my auto responders. The audio ones. So they are now in alignment with the ebook ones in that they start with the mailing list exclusive free book, Night Swimming and then give people Unlucky Dip and then go on with various other bits and bobs.

Revamping these involved looking at my ebook auto responder set up because that seems to engage people quite well. At the end of it, quietly gaining entrants, I have a survey. The idea is that I can find out what readers love and … you know … give it to them. One of the questions asked is how many of my books they’ve read. The people who answer this thing have all been on my mailing list at least a year so by the time they are invited to fill it in so, in theory, they should have read some of my books, right? I mean, otherwise, what the fuck are they doing there? When I examined the answer to that question it turns out the bulk of them have read one or two books – ie the two free short stories I’ve given them – and most of the rest haven’t read anything. Weirdly, I have people on my mailing list who send me chatty, supportive emails who have never read one of my books. I just … dunno what to do.

Worse, one total bastard has joined my list, downloaded the mailing list exclusive and posted it for sale on a pirate site, which is a bit of a shitter, especially as I can’t even sling the fucker off because I don’t know who it was.

Conclusion, over half of the people on my mailing list are other authors who have joined to see what I do. Solution, shut the fuck up about your mailing list on author marketing chat groups. Send them more excerpts and deleted scenes and keep pointing the people who pathologically refuse to pay for a book to their local library or local library’s ebook app.

I can’t do excerpts with the audio, sadly, although I can do interviews with Gareth. But I can with the ebook people. And I have the perfect book to experiment with because it achieves precisely zero sales and it was doing quite well before, when there were three excerpts from it on my auto responder. Then I can look at the survey in a year’s time and see if the number of people actually reading any of my books has risen.

Oh look. I’ve just solved my own problem. That’s jolly spiffing.

Onwards and upwards. I think the pressing thing, now is to write more books. And not books about bloody K’Barth because I need a break and if I want one of those I need to write something the normals will read. K’Barth is too complicated, too rich, too much effort for most readers, I think. It has to be simple, straightforward funny-in-space. Or something. But I have to find a way to write something that people will pick up and read, you know, on a whim rather than because it’s the last thing on their kindle and they are desperate, or being forced at gunpoint.


Well there we are. If you are bored and at a loose end you could always try reading one of my books. They are a bit weird but I promise they are more interesting than reading a telephone directory … just.

Or alternatively, there’s this lovely box set of first in series which includes Few Are Chosen and a lot of very much better, more interesting books by other people. The stealth approach has worked really well for me. People have read and enjoyed my book from this. In fact most of the people who go on to read my other books do so because they’ve read the first in series that I included in this one.

You can find that here:

That’s all for this week. Next week will be hectic and I will be on the road so there may not be a post. Just giving you the heads up! Until then, hope you have a relaxing week.




Filed under General Wittering

8 responses to “Arnold’s pants!

  1. I don’t know how much you usually spend on covers, and I probably get special rates with mine, Dani at She’s on FB too, and it’s on my website if you want to contact her.
    Canal barge chase sounds ace. Overhead wires, trees, tunnels, could help help smash the snurds up….
    Don’t worry about not writing – join the club. You’re doing a whole load of planning, by the look of it. I’ve never understood the email list, bit, which is probably why most of those on mine don’t buy my books either.
    I don’t have a problem with authors being my readers. Anyone who’s reading my books is a hero!
    And I don’t think any of us are selling many at present. Certainly no more than usual, any way.
    Good luck with the birthday bash! Sounds cool!

    • It’s weird, when I do write, I just get completely sucked in and I love it so much. I just feel that I am flogging a dead horse with all things K’Barthan, which is sad. And yeh, I’m pretty sure a lot of creative folks feel the same, I was talking to Gareth the other day and he was saying how totally meh he’s been feeling. I will look at your designer lady and also see what I can do myself. I might manage something decent.

      Glad I’m not the only one feeling my sales have tanked either. Fistbump.



  2. It’s Meh! time. We’ve been even worse with the California fires turning the sky an odd orange, and making us stay indoors (so no pool time, no trike rides). My body is screaming.

    That party sounds wonderful – your OH is a lucky man.

    I was barreling along, writing, and then meddled with a medication and came to a screeching halt. Hoping today is the day that episode is finally over.

    Life WILL return. And people will be greedy for many things to catch up, including funny books. Just hang in there.

    • Oh no that sounds grim. We have gales here but at least I can still go outside. Sorry to hear about the meds too, that’s always crap, I used to take many pain meds, but these days, I’d rather take the pain and still be able to remember my own name without cue cards! Hopefully some kind of less fraught existence will return. Let’s hope the next big pandemic starts in a country whose government prioritises taking action over losing face. I think I just feel that, I like the book but other people probably won’t. It will probably all get easier once I start on the new series I’m brewing in earnest as that might have a bit more mainstream appeal.



      • I think people’s habits – even for reading – may change when the pandemic is under control. It’s a big world, writing takes time, and there are readers for everything.

        I can’t stand things like Catch-22 – it’s a cult book for others.

  3. I love your cat!
    I am on your e-mailing list and I will complete the survey when it arrives. I have read Few Are Chosen and The Wrong Stuff. I have One Man; No Plan and Nothing to See Here but haven’t read either, yet. I have read a couple of your short stories in Christmas Lites VII and VIII and I am currently reading Escape From B-Movie Hell. I think your books and stories are great! I am hoping to buy your K’Barthan series as a Christmas gift for my daughter as I think she’ll like it.
    I don’t normally read sci-fi/fantasy but I can’t resist your books. My only problem at the moment is I cannot concentrate for more than five minutes, so books are taking an age to finish. Covid brain.
    Chin up, Mary. It’ll turn out okay, eventually. I assume you have already thought of sending links to and excerpts from, your audio books to BBC Radio.
    Have a wonderful time at McOther’s birthday do. Don’t worry about the food; I’m sure it will be delicious. You could do a trial run with the new recipes and see if they are any good.
    Best wishes, Clare

    • Ah you star! Thank you. It’s funny you should say that about bbc Radio, I have but I’m not quite sure how to go about it. I have some that are really good lengths, one’s 33 minutes, which is as near as dammit to half an hour and I’m sure we could cut some. Another is 90 minutes, another two hours and 20 minutes and so on. I think the shorts would divide up a bit better. It may be that I should write something with an eye to fifteen minute episodes.

      Ah so much to think about.



      On Tue, 25 Aug 2020 at 00:48, M T McGuire Authorholic wrote:


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