WWBB on Facebook!

You are invited to post your book links, blurbs, snippets on WWBB's Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter and use @louise_wise for a retweet.

Friday, 28 October 2011

A Tortured Path to Writing and Cartooning

Philip Chen

I am, by nature and experience, a very serious man.  Just look at the things that I have done and you will see no flights of fancy, no falling off the beaten path, and certainly no aspirations of the literary kind.

As the immigrant son of strict Chinese parents, there was no opportunity to indulge in anything but adhere to rules.  Life from an early age was rigorous: obedience to parents, and constant studying.  If you were found doing anything that was not “educational”, you could expect to be punished and not by being given time outs, either.  Comic books were frowned upon and I remember that any Mad Magazine found in my room was torn up and thrown away.  My purchase of an Ann-Margret album was smashed.  All this was evil stuff that diverted you from your essential purpose: study and then study some more.

At an intellectual level, even at a young age, I understood why my parents were so strict.  Growing up in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s as an Asian was not easy.  We lived in Washington, D.C., which at that time was at the intersection of southern institutionalized racism and northern false hope.  Opportunities for Chinese in America, during the time of the Chinese Exclusion laws, were few and far between.  As a young child, I was resigned to the fact that I would be channeled into some technical field.  Any aspiration of going into architecture, art, or other creative pursuit was, simply put, a non-starter.

There were no laws that said Chinese could not pursue these avenues, but society, reinforced by my parents, said that any attempt to do anything but pursuing a technical education was doomed to failure.

So I became a serious man.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The difference between formatting an e-Book and a "real" book.

E.S Lark guest-posted an article here last month and glutton for punishment she's back!

Self-Publisher’s Diary -

Formatting the Interior of Your Book 

As a self-publisher, I’m responsible for writing, finding an editor, purchasing cover art, marketing and laying out the interior of my books. Even though interior book formatting isn’t as crucial when it comes to ebooks, it’s an art form for any author looking to get their books printed.

There are a few key items a print book has that ebooks do not, and they are: 
  • Headers and footers. The header of the document generally includes the author’s name or title of the novel along with the page number, unless it’s added in the footer. 
  • Chapter breaks are another piece of formatting most ebooks don’t use. The reason for this is because every ereader will look at your book differently. Your chapter break might happen in the middle of a page instead of at the end of one.  
  • Fancy fonts. Because readers can change the font type and size of their ebooks with the touch of a button, fancy fonts aren’t necessary. That’s why most ebooks come in a standard font such as Times New Roman.
Now, I know what you’re thinking—how do you format the interior files for a book you plan to print through services such as Lulu or Createspace?

One of the best pieces of software you can buy for interior formatting is Adobe Indesign. While I could format my interior files in Microsoft Word, it’s a hassle. Adobe Indesign or another piece of formatting software’s built to make our lives easier. Instead of putting the headers (author name, book title and page number) in by hand on each page, you can create what’s called a ‘Master Page’ so the program does it for you. 

But the biggest thing you need to worry about when formatting your book are those widows and orphans. Widows and orphans are  single lines of text from a paragraph that appear on the very bottom of a page or at the very top.

This also includes those lines at the end of one paragraph that are one word long. One word takes up an entire line on the page. This is a waste of valuable printing space. To fix this, you’ll either need to tighten the sentence or change what’s called the tracking—spacing between words, so the hanging word gets bumped up to join its friends.

Open up any book you have in your home and look at the text. Notice how the text’s in blocks? Each line of text lines up with the one before it. That’s accomplished through good formatting. Adobe Indesign allows you to work on blocks of text by changing the spacing between letters, words or even by hyphenating longer words, just so everyone lines up correctly.

I admit, this isn’t something I generally look at as a reader. However, a book that has an interior that’s formatted incorrectly screams ‘self-published’. And even though self-publishing’s become more popular over the years, there’s still a sigma about it. Take your time when formatting the interior files of your book. The cover might be what draws your readers in, but the inside text is what keeps them there.

E. S. Lark is the author of fantasy fiction such as The Waking Grove and Trueblood’s Plight. You can learn more about her and the worlds she creates by visiting her website at: http://www.eslark.com

Friday, 21 October 2011

Information post: What's Duotrope Digest?

Duotroping to Get It Done
Nora Weston

Five Sci-Fi poems, two horror stories, and one fantasy, flash fiction piece need a home. Options? Scour the Internet for hours only to bookmark four possible markets, or I can head over to Duotrope’s Digest, and do what I like to call duotroping. If you’re new to the writing and submission madness so many of us thrive on, then obtaining potential markets for your work is essential for success as a writer.

Duotrope’s Digest takes the frustration out of market hunts because it’s a free writers’ resource listing over 3300 current poetry and fiction publications. It’s an award winning site that also offers a free online submissions tracker for registered users, and the current listings are checked approximately once a week for accuracy. Specific markets can be found by isolating what you’re looking for by choosing your genre, subgenre, style, length, theme, pay scale, royalties, medium, and sub type.

That’s all good and wonderful, but there’s more to Duotrope’s Digest, especially for writers who’ve just embarked on a submission adventure. Click on “Stats,” located on the blue menu bar, and you’ll behold the magic of market statistics that highlights:

• The Swift- markets with the fastest mean average response times reported

• The Slothful - markets with the slowest mean average response times reported

• The Challenging- markets with the lowest acceptance percentages reported

• The Approachable- markets with the highest acceptance percentages reported

How does this help a new writer? The statistics make it easy to determine who you want to submit to. For example, if you’re looking for a quick response and a high acceptance rate, then look at market listings found in both The Swift and The Approachable. Static Movement is one such market with a quick response time of 4.3 days and a high acceptance rate of 92.86%.

Keep in mind, there’s more to submitting than finding a market with a quick turnaround and a high acceptance rate, because an outstanding market like Abyss & Apex is worth submitting to even though it has a current low acceptance rate of 0.32%. It just depends what you’re looking for while considering potential writing markets. At Duotrope’s Digest, you can check the pay scale, and if that doesn’t matter to you, then think about subbing to various markets to increase your chances of acceptances.

That being said...be ever so careful to check if your chosen market allows multiple and/or simultaneous submissions. Multiple means that market accepts more than one submission at a time, and if that market accepts simultaneous submissions, then authors are free to sub out that work of fiction, or poetry, to more than one market at a time.

If you visit Duotrope’s Digest, markets under six months old are called fledglings, and clicking on “Info for...” on the blue menu bar will lead you to editor interviews, market news, and general advice for writers, plus much more.

Ready to submit? Get it done with duotroping. It’s one of the best online market databases I’ve used. Do you use Duotrope’s Digest? What are some other market databases you’ve found helpful?

Thanks for visiting!

Nora Weston’s fiction and poetry slips in-between and all around science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Her publishing credits include the anthologies Mind Mutations, Cyber Pulp’s Halloween 3.0, and Dark Pleasures. Other venues in print and online include; The Hacker’s Source, The Dream People, Hoboeye, Abandoned Towers, Lost in the Dark, Sputnik 57, Soul Engravings, and Decompositions. Recently, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Worlds Within–Worlds Beyond, Trapeze Magazine, and Four and Twenty published her work. Melange Books has accepted The Twelfth Paladin for a May 2011 release. Nora has had the pleasure of reaching people through the airwaves on radio stations throughout the US, and episodes can be downloaded from Blog Talk Radio’s show Not Picture Perfect.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Laura Rodela's Do's and Don'ts

A Self Publisher's Do's and Don'ts
Laura Rodela

So you are ready to self publish. Your book is complete and you are now ready for the world to enjoy your work. I would like to share some tips on self publishing that will help you make wise decisions as you enbark on your journey.

As a new author I was not savvy in the field of self publishing. I did some research on the internet but missed the mark on some very important aspects due to lack of knowledge. Here are my top do's and don'ts of self publishing.

DO: Proof read your work multiple times. Publishing companies will do the editing and proof reading work for you but the cost is high. You can find authors that will proof read your work on the Internet for a much lower cost. But no one is perfect and mistakes will be missed, so remember to make inspections yourself.

DO: Consider having your book sold as an eBook as well as a paperback/hardcover. Some publishing companies will only distribute your book as a paperback/hardcover and won't give you the option for an eBook, although some companies will for an additional cost. 

DO: Make sure you understand the distribution packages. Most packages will include your ISBN number and distribution to Amazon, Barnes&Noble etc. However, the marketing of your book is usually not included, or there is a much higher price for marketing. Do your homework.

DON'T: buy everything the publisher offers you. A lot of the services you can find cheaper on the internet or do yourself. Research publishing services before you commit, and make sure you understand exactly what you are buying.

DON'T: give away your rights to your publisher. Self publishers generally are able to keep their rights and, therefore, make changes as needed when it comes to pricing and distribution.

DON'T: be afraid to ask questions and ask for changes as needed. Such things as your book cover, color pages etc should  meet your expectations. If you want something changed make sure you speak up and work with your publisher to make it happen. It is your book and your vision!

I hope these tips will help you with your self publishing efforts.

Laura Rodela

Confessions is available for purchase in both paperback and eBook format  at the following:

Monday, 17 October 2011

Trimming Down: to cut or not to cut?

One Author’s Experience


Chris Lindberg 

Several years ago, I began writing the main character for what is now my novel Code of Darkness: a mysterious loner-turned-vigilante known only by the name Rage.  I had recently graduated from college, was living in the suburbs with my parents, and commuting on a train to downtown Chicago.  I decided the train would be my “writing studio.” 

I remember coming up with that first line: “Rage walked into the shadowy bar with one thing in mind: vengeance.”  The line contained a lot of angst, energy, and foreshadowing for what would be the first chapter of my writing life.  I wrote the chapter in a few days, happy with the result, and moved on to write other chapters, getting about a hundred pages into it. 

About a year later I moved downtown, and suddenly found a lot of other things to do with my time.  Without the long commute to give me a “studio” in which to write, the book project was tabled for a long time. 

Five years ago, I moved back out to the suburbs and started a family.  I was back on the train, so I thought I’d try picking up where I’d left off.  I found the old manuscript and began to put down new material.  But I decided to go an entirely new direction.  I scrapped old characters and storylines, and wove in new ones: a Chicago cop, a rogue NSA agent, a government conspiracy.  My goal was to make the story more of a page-turning thriller. 

But through all the changes, the chapters that centered around Rage stayed mostly intact.  That first chapter, the one in which I’d first introduced him, and most importantly that first line, was always going to be my starting point, I’d decided. 

I finished the novel at a whopping 198,000 words.  Yes – 198,000.  I was advised to get it down to about half that.  Half my creation was going to be on the chopping block?  No way was I going to do that. 

But it quickly became clear that I was going to have to.  So I began removing chapters, storylines, characters.  In some cases I was simply trimming fat.  Two revisions later, at 123,000 words, I discovered an angle that would probably cut another ten to fifteen thousand words easily: introduce the three main characters together in the same chapter, putting them in a perilous situation that would set the tone for the book.  The problem with this was, what would this mean for my cherished original starting point? 

I tried to find another home for it: the second chapter, maybe later in the story, but nothing worked.  It just didn’t fit into the story anymore.  And the problem was, the new first chapter didn’t just cut the word count, it also gave the story a much better starting point. 

So after much deliberation, I said goodbye to that original first chapter, and my story became a thousand times better for it.  It will always have a home in the first draft of Code of Darkness, and if enough people are interested, maybe I’ll post it on my blog someday. 

So now you now the rest of the story.  I’d be curious to know what all your experiences were with your first novel: how long the first draft was, did you cut anything, and if so how much … and most importantly, what was the biggest or most difficult change you made? 

Chris Lindberg’s first novel, Code of Darkness, was released in August.  You can find out more by visiting www.codeofdarkness.com, or visiting Facebook and searching on “code of darkness.”

Chris is also offering a FREE eBook version of Code of Darkness to the person with the best, funniest, cutest comment below. Leave your email and he'll contact you.

To purchase Code of Darkness in paperback or e-book edition, please check out: http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fListingClass=0&fSearch=code+of+darkness
Or search “code of darkness” on Amazon or BN.com. 

You can also email him at chris@codeofdarkness.com – he’d love to hear from you. More about Chris:
Chris Lindberg was born and raised outside Chicago, Illinois.  After graduating from Northern Illinois University in the mid-1990s, he headed out to the west coast for a couple of years, where he began writing as a casual pastime.  

Some time after returning to Chicago he began attending writers workshops at StoryStudio Chicago, where he wrote two character studies, both of which have since been developed into key characters in Code of Darkness.

Chris now lives outside Chicago with his wife Jenny and their two children, Luke and Emma.  You might catch him working away on his second novel while commuting on his morning train into the city. 

Code of DarknessWhen a routine bank robbery takes an unexpected turn, veteran Chicago police officer Larry Parker witnesses a heroic act by a mysterious intervener. But seconds later the Samaritan disappears, leaving Larry only with unanswered questions.

Suddenly, vigilante activity begins popping up all over the city – including several murders. Larry begins to gather the missing pieces of the puzzle, and finds evidence the Samaritan might be tied to them. When he learns the man’s identity – a loner known only by the name Rage – he prepares to move in for the arrest.

But there is much more to Rage than meets the eye: the case has also drawn the attention of a covert Black Ops division within the Pentagon. Their mission: find Rage, while keeping their operation out of the public eye. Seen as knowing too much, Larry suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs as well. After a deadly standoff, Rage is captured, forcing Larry to search for answers while on the run.

The deadly chase leads cross-country to a top-secret military facility in Virginia, where Rage and Larry uncover the greatest danger of all -- and only they can stop the unthinkable from happening.

Purchase Links: 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Comments wanted: How to Beat Procrastination.

Internet - You're My Favourite Waste of Time

Wasting time is an author’s biggest problem. We don't mean to, but because the Internet and Other Exciting Things are only a click away, it’s all too easy.

But I have devised a cunning plan!

I’ve not paid my ‘net provider! Ingenious! They’ve cut me off and I’m ‘net free and I can write to my heart’s content… ‘cept I’m getting irate phone calls asking why I’m not answering important emails.

OK, so getting cut off is a bit drastic and self-discipline  is really the only way. You’ve heard of bum glue, not something you can buy off eBay, I’m afraid, but straight talking willpower and the ability to churn out your story without straying from it.

This is why NaNoWriMo is so good; it offers a like-minded community and puts you into the mind-set of writing. Whether your unedited writing is good or not doesn’t matter, it’s getting it out of your head and onto the screen that counts.

But this post isn’t about NaNoWriMo it’s about procrastination – a writer’s enemy. Psychologists think the behaviour is a way of coping with anxiety. It could be the case. I mean, when I’ve a finished product, be it a book or an article, I always wonder if it’s good enough. So, does that mean that because it’s taken a DAY to write this hundred-word (or thereabouts) article I don’t want it published because I secretly believe it’s crap?

It probably is, but I’ve done it. It’s out there for all the world to see and it’s something I’ve DONE. FINISHED, and COMPLETE. Whoop!  

So even though I’ve checked my email three times, looked into Twitter and Facebook. Clicked into and out again of my current novel I’m writing. Checked my KDP statement and upped my bid on eBay for a Chucky doll (Halloween soon!) this short article is written.

Procrastination, for a short time, has been beaten.

Bum glue? I want glue for my fingers not to stray to my Internet connection!

What’s your secret to staying on course?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Marketing’s Not for Everyone

Self-Publisher’s Diary – Marketing’s Not for Everyone

guest post

E S Lark

Most times, when I tell old friends that I write for a living, they say one of three things.
  • It’s so cool that you get to write all the time.
  • When can I expect my free copy?
  • Or the dreaded “How much are you making?”
Whenever someone says one of the above, I cringe. While self-publishing has picked up some steam over the years, it’s not as glamorous as some might think. I’d love to just sit down and write all the time. I’d love to unplug from the internet for more than a day at a time. But unplugging means I’m not marketing. I’m not answering emails or responding to questions on Facebook or Twitter.

Writing’s what authors get to do as a reward for marketing. It doesn’t start out this way, but this is how it’s become for me. Especially as a newer author on the market, being active in various communities is a must. It’s important for me to interact with potential readers, make friends and network with other authors.

The biggest hurdle I think most authors face is time management. It’s so easy to get sucked up into the marketing side of this business that before you know it, you have little or no time to write.

So, how does a new author market herself? I’ll give you a few tips:

  • Have an online platform you can direct readers to. I’m not talking about Myspace or Facebook, but an actual site that you own and have paid for. This is so no matter what happens to the other websites out there, readers can still find you through a Google search.
  • Join discussion forums that attract readers in your genre. Be active in the community. Reply to posts, but don’t promote your book. Use forum signatures and avatars to attract readers to your website or Amazon page. Promoting yourself is an instant turn off. Instead, share what you know with the community. It’s amazing how much this can do for you and your online presence.
  • Join a few of the networking communities. I mainly use Twitter for every day updates and chatting with authors. Facebook’s used for weekly updates. I use Goodreads to connect with readers and other authors. The main thing to keep in mind is to limit yourself. Two or three communities is more than enough. You can add more later one when you feel comfortable.
  •  Don’t be afraid to give something away for free. Host a contest on your blog or have a giveaway on Goodreads for one of your books. Send electronic copies of your book to reviewers. Note, always check review policies and never pay for a review service. There are bloggers out there who love to read, so long as you’re patient. Most reviewers are booked for months at a time.
  • Be yourself. Remember to keep a professional face, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. You don’t always have to talk about writing or about your books. In fact, readers enjoy learning more about their favorite authors. Share posts about the family dog or the awesome dinner you made last night.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. The main thing to remember about marketing is that it’s always changing. Google Plus recently came out. I wanted an account so bad, but never got one. And now that I think back, I didn’t need one. I have my small nest of networking sites. If I branch out much further, I’ll burn out. Know your limits and try to market a little every day.

E. S. Lark is the author of fantasy fiction such as The Waking Grove and Trueblood’s Plight. You can learn more about her and the worlds she creates by visiting her website at http://www.eslark.com

Trueblood's Plight - coming soon! 

Thirty years have passed since the clan’s flight from Tesmar, their beloved gryphon city. Three decades spent searching for safer shores, a place to repopulate and for some, to bury the truth of an age-old prophecy.

Until now.

Ava always knew she was different, from her pale plumage to her silver eyes, but being a Trueblood—a giphen who can use all forms of magic—takes ‘special’ to a whole new level. With overprotective elders and the enemy advancing from the north, Ava struggles to balance her time on and off the battlefield.

But when numerous attempts are made on her life—an attack on the clan, a rift storm and a mage controlling the minds of her friends from afar—Ava fears there’s another just like her, weakened and magic starved,  who’ll stop at nothing to use her powers as his own. She’ll have to hone her skills and exhaust her reserves close to death if she’s to go against him, even if it means forming a dangerous alliance with her enemy.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

To mark the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens in 2012

Sir David Madden renders homage to the great author by creating an ending to The Mystery of Edwin Drood faithful to Dickens' style.
Out Now!

Sir David Madden, former member of HM Diplomatic Service, has used his credentials having written in an official capacity all his career to complete the work of the great master, Charles Dickens. 

Drood has previously been shown in a handful of films, and was incomplete when Dickens' suffered a stroke and died the following day. Sir David Madden has brought The Mystery of Edwin Drood to life in a way that I think Charles Dickens' would approve.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood, though named after the character in the book, focuses on Drood's uncle, John Jasper, who is in love with his pupil, Rosa Bud. Bud is Drood's fianc√©e who has also caught the eye of the hot-tempered Neville Landless. Landless and Drood take an instant dislike to one another. Drood later disappears under mysterious circumstances. A whodunit, or a tragic romance? I’ve yet to find out. And you can bet this book is on my reading list!
Buy iBook Now at ITunes
Click here for FREE sample before purchasing
Buy Now from Amazon.co.uk
Interview with Sir David Madden:
What inspired you to write, or rather finish, The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens?
I have always been interested in books and literary games such as Ex Libris, where you write first and last lines for novels. Then, after retirement, I started writing fiction, but based on existing literary characters or indeed real people; and realised that I had some abilities at ventriloquism. It was actually my sister-in-law who suggested I might have a go at Drood. I was immediately attracted, not least because I love Dickens’ novels, and had studied “Our Mutual Friend” quite carefully for A Level – admittedly some time ago!  

Did you have to get special permission?
No. Dickens is out of copyright, and the text of Edwin Drood is available in the splendid Project Gutenberg.

Have you finished it using his methods/notes or have you recreated an entirely different ending to the story?
Dickens left no notes for the second half of the book. There is some contemporary testimony from close friends and family, which may or may not be accurate on the detail: Dickens tended to play his cards close to his chest. So the main clues are to be found in the finished half of the book. Using these, I have tried to create something which is true to what can be divined of Dickens’ intentions. As for methods, I have attempted to reflect the structure, style and fabric of the first part; for example the shifts in tenses between the chapters.

How hard was that to stay on course and write in his style?
Using the approach I adopted to completing Drood, it was essential to try to keep as close as possible to the style in which Dickens wrote the first part. So that was in my mind all the time as I wrote: how would Dickens have written a passage, how would he have enlivened descriptions and incidents, what images or similes would he have employed, what words would he have used? So it was the starting-point for all I did, and seemed quite natural. 

Some would say “who are you to attempt such a project” what would you say to that?
It’s a fair question. But I am not pretending to be a genius like Dickens, or even an expert on him: or to claim any unique role. My project was straight-forward, and to an extent limited: to write the second half of a book which Dickens died while writing in 1870, and to do so in a manner and style which seemed true to his intentions.  I see it as a tribute to Dickens, and to the hold he still has over our hearts and imaginations.   

Have you, or would you consider ghost writing as a career?
I spent the main part of my career working as a diplomat, a public servant. This involved putting across messages on behalf of the governments of the day. It also involved sending  reports back to Whitehall from Embassies abroad which would allow people at home to understand what was happening in the country where one was posted. This was not quite “ghost-writing”, but it certainly required finding the words and arguments which would resonate abroad, and convince at home.  

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, because I love books and writing. Being a diplomat satisfied my wish to use words in a cause which mattered. So it was probably inevitable that I should try my hand at writing. And, having always had to write officially and as factually as possible, it was probably also inevitable that it was fiction which would attract me. But in this first published attempt, I have relied on Dickens to supply all the characters but three.

Have you attempted to write anything else?
I have written Iago’s Diary, which is an attempt to look at the events in Shakespeare’s “Othello” from Iago’s point of view, and answer some of the puzzles in Shakespeare’s text. Who was Iago’s confidant as he plotted? How did he work out his plan? How was he word perfect in the great temptation scene? To whom did he boast as he wove his web? Who was his accomplice as his villainy deepened? Why was he addicted to soliloquy?  Of course, he kept a secret diary: this is it. And it is still secret, since it is not yet published.     

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Alongside Iago’s Diary lurks “Death in Florence”, a novel about the Pazzi Conspiracy and the attempt to murder Lorenzo de Medici in 1478. The latter at least needs dusting off and further work.

How did you find Unthank Books?
Advised by all that the first step was to find an agent, I finally discovered Robin Jones: who subsequently, with Dan Nyman and others, set up Unthank Books, who decided to publish my novel.

How do your juggle a writing schedule?
It helps that I am retired. I still do quite a lot of work, especially on animal charities as Trustee and consultant; but much of my work can be done from home, which makes it easier to combine with other activities.

What's the best/worst part of being a writer?
So far I only know the best, which is the writing. Perhaps I am about to discover the worst: who knows?

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
The morning has always proved the best and most productive time for writing. When I was working in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I valued the early morning coach journey from Oxford, and even more the walk across St James’ Park, to get papers read, and my mind working, arriving at the office all ready for the day. I still find the morning best: now with a CD playing in the background to provide the right accompaniment, and probably a cat snoozing on a rug.  

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I now tend to write almost entirely on the computer: though occasionally I find that it helps to set out a basic plan on a piece of paper to assist composition; and, when I am writing, I am frequently making scribbles in a notebook when away from the computer.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?

From other writers: the classic writers of fiction, but also many others. I read quite widely, including non-fiction, eg recently rereading Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, and rely on reviews eg in The Literary Review, TLS and London Review to keep me up-to-date, informed about further reading and topped-up with ideas, images and quotations.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
No. I do not think that I am very professional in that respect. Perhaps that is an advantage of being retired. But, when writing Drood, I found very few occasions when I could not write what I wished.

Are you a published or a self-published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
Published. The cover art on Drood was provided by the excellent Ian Nettleton of Unthank. We all contributed suggestions, and comments; but his was the essential hand which was able to transfer these into design.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
The priority is to get Drood launched, and make the most of this opportunity, with Author’s Events and so on. The fact that it is the bicentary of Dickens’ birth next year may help generate interest. I hope so. Thereafter, it may not be all that long before I reach under the bed for Iago’s Diary. But first things first.

How do/did you deal with rejection letter?
I think that Robin and I were both puzzled by the letters which came back from publishers saying, broadly speaking, it’s good, but we are not publishing it, with no further explanation. But I am very lucky: Robin decided to publish it himself, with the full agreement of the other members of the Unthank team – to whom I am very grateful.

Sir David Madden was a member of HM Diplomatic Service for 34 years (including early postings in Berlin and Moscow); and retired in 2004 after serving successively as British High Commissioner in Cyprus and British Ambassador in Greece. He was then Political Adviser to the EU Peace-Keeping Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, before returning home to Oxford.

In addition to writing, he does a little lecturing and much animal welfare: he is a consultant to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, working on the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare; a Trustee both of The Brooke Hospital for Animals and of Compassion in World Farming; and a patron of the Voice for Ethical Research in Oxford. Sir David is married with three grown-up children.