Present or Past?

Past or Present I have been having a lot of trouble figuring out which tense to write the new masterpiece in, so here is a (fun) way to figure it out. Not to be taken too seriously, but hope it helps somebody. I still don’t know, so it hasn’t really done me much good!!


ALGORITHM TO help you DECIDE between present and past TENSE AND first and third PERSON FOR WRITING A NOVEL


1)  Is the main character(MC) actually present for the whole book?  (Is MC going to be in place to witness all we need to know?  Is the action we need expressly to know about going to be done when MC always present?)

YES – 8 points

NO – 0 points


2) Do you want to show other peoples thoughts and opinions, give their inner reasonings, get deeply into many points of view? (As opposed to being able to show everybody by dialogue and observation through MC’s eyes) Continue reading Present or Past?

The making of … the audiobooks.

I don’t think anyone has the slightest idea of just how long it takes to record and edit an audiobook.  … Except me, of course!  I can tell you.

A 40 minute episode takes me nearly 8 hours to record, edit, add music to and then tag. And that only takes care of about 20 pages of a book.

Which means … seven books, at around 20 episodes per book … around eight MONTHS of work.  All that to give away the finished product on the Podiobooks site.

So why do I do it, you may well ask.  And believe me, sometimes I wonder myself! Especially when I am dragging myself out of bed at 6.00 am to get the recording in before the dawn chorus starts up.

There are two major … MAJOR … reasons.  The first is that I pick up around two to three errors PER PAGE doing it.  Since I don’t use a professional copy editor this is important. Recording really is a valuable tool if, for whatever reason, you have no choice but to do your own editing.  Even so, some things will slip through … but the finished product will be SO much better for that attention to detail.

The second reason is that I have found that the listeners who find you as an audiobook author are incredibly loyal.  They stay with you, your voice stays with them and although you don’t know them, they become part of your book “family”.  I am a marketing disaster and have never managed to make a “tribe” out of any of the people who have given me feedback about my books, but they have all become part of my Ammonite Galaxy family.  That doesn’t put bread on the table, but it does give you a warm feeling, and enough encouragement to go on when the days are long and the sales are short.

my recording studio
Recording “studio”

Xiantha … cover and first few pages

I have just put the first few pages of Xiantha up on the Kwaide website: so you can see how it starts!

The cover is finished and ready for the 1st September … and looks like this:The cover of Xiantha, written by Gillian Andrews

I think it looks terrific, so hope you like it!  Only six weeks to go – I can’t wait for the book to come out.

Book covers

I have spent the last goodness-knows-how-long looking at stock photos, and trying to decide what to do about my covers.  It has been a long process, and I have done very little else for the last few weeks.  In the end I have just decided to keep on doing them myself, which seems to be the least complicated procedure.  The trouble is, that I need to make them much more professional, which means using stock photos since my abilities with Photoshop are so limited.

I have a mock-up now of the next three covers, and in the process have drawn up new covers for the first two.  Hopefully I can buy the stock images and get them all altered by the end of the month.  I think it will make all the books more instantly noticeable, and I have tried to make the covers tell more of the story, so that people will know what they will be buying.  It will be interesting to see if sales go up or down with the new covers.  But it takes days and days to struggle through the millions of images available, chose the ones which go with the story.  Phew!  Now I feel guilty that I haven’t been writing!  Still, the covers of the books are the first thing a prospective reader will see, so perhaps it is something I should have done ages ago!

I can’t preview them just yet, as I haven’t licensed them … but I will post them up here before they even go live.  I hope they are a good reflection of the books.  Anyway, before then, I need to get myself back into writing mode … hmm!

You can see from the photo that the old covers are a bit drab, and that I really ought to do something about my office.  It will all have to wait.  There is just too much to do this year, and tidying isn’t high up on my list I’m afraid.

My desk in desperate need of decluttering.
My desk in desperate need of decluttering.

First draft finished!! Yey!!

So – finally have finished the first draft of the new book (Xiantha). It comes out at just over 100k, which is a little longer than the others. (It won’t be published for months – needs editing etc.)

Feel no emotion whatsoever, which is strange, but it always seems to be like that with me and writing. It is a huge relief to get the first draft done, but I never really know what the book is like (I think I get too close to it). To know that, I have to wait six months to a year and then re-read it. If I get caught up in it again and still laugh at the funny bits, then it was fine!

That makes it sound a bit of a happy-go-lucky process, but it isn’t at all.  It is more a continual  “no, that is not quite right, have to change that bit, that needs rewriting”  which goes on until the voices inside quieten down.  That is when I let it go, and that is what I mean when I say I never really know what the book is like. I know what I have had to change to get my subconscious to finally ‘approve’ that first full draft, but how can you tell how good something is?  I just go on with the changes until everything inside the book seems to gell, my twinges of unease disappear, and then keep my fingers crossed until I get that first essential feedback from the first couple of readers.

So … a little rest of a few days or a week, and then back to work again.

Holiday :)!!!!


Since my last post I have been writing just about non-stop.  Terrific!  I was beginning to think I had developed writer’s block, but no … I just had a couple of things I needed to get straight in my own head.  The first (rough) draft of Xiantha is nearly done, and I feel soooo much better!

I can’t wait to get started in on the next book.  This year I will be publishing two … so the schedule is a bit hectic.

Oh … and there is going to have to be a sequel to the whole series!!!

Finally – progress on the new book “Xiantha”

Well, it has been a long and difficult start to the year, and I was having lots of trouble with the new book.  This week, at last, I had a “Eureka!” moment that unblocked the whole thing, and so feel euphoric!  Xiantha is going to knock your socks off!!

So … finally, making really good progress on the book.  I suppose I was progressing before, but it feels RIGHT now, and that makes a huge difference.  I am so pleased!

Photoshop for covers

I love Photoshop!

Before I begin a new book I spend about a week trying to come up with the best cover I can, using Photoshop.  Of course they are nowhere near “true” professional style, but I love doing the covers.  Once the cover comes alive, it is as if the whole book leaps into being,  I can suddenly see what is going to happen when, where, and it all bubbles up trying to get out.

So – lots of planet tutorials in internet, a heavy use of the render filter, and you would be surprised what you can come up with.

This is the new “proposed” cover for Xiantha, which I will start to write as soon as I get back from England at the end of next week.  Hope you like it!Xiantha cover

Google +

I am just starting out on Google+, and it has taken me quite a while to fathom out how it goes, but I think it is GREAT!  Much much better (for me) than Facebook, because it makes it really easy to find other people in similar areas, and hear what they have to say about things.  I can “hear” from other writers, and find out what is going on all over the world.  Not only that, but I can find other Sci-Fi fans too, and chat to them.  I particularly like the way you can keep everybody separate – or not – just as you like.

I found Facebook less proactive, so I think I will probably end up concentrating mainly on Google + from now on.

If you are a newbie, like me, check out Evo’s blog about good practice for authors.  You can find it on


Changes on Goodreads for authors

Goodreads are stopping using Amazon data on 31st of January, so if you are an author with books on the site you should check out your book’s page.  It will tell you, at the top, if you need to “rescue” the book, which simply means filling out the details yourself.  Nothing will disappear forever if you don’t, I gather, but you may be left without a cover picture and the details of the book.