My latest Sherlock Holmes short story Miss Violet Dixon (deceased)

My latest Sherlock Holmes short story Miss Violet Dixon (deceased)
The front cover created with Gimp with help from Aubrey Watt on You Tube.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Well, here it is, my first blog! I have set this blog up to keep folk up to date about living in Brittany and also what I am currently up to. At the moment, I am making some headway into a very nice bottle of Taylor's Reserve Port (circa. 2006) with a nice hunk of Stilton cheese and some home made bread!

Since moving here, the north coast of Brittany, just east of Morlaix in 2008 my wife and I have enjoyed the slower pace of life compared to the hustle and bustle of the UK. Both of us left fairly hectic teaching jobs behind and it is nice just to sit and chill. Walking with our black Labrador 'Truffle' along the beach is brilliant. Even in summer the beach isn't crowded and we have one of those bendy plastic ball-throwers (which we call 'The Whanger'...apologies to any American readers who may think that that is perhaps not the right word!) that Truffle loves. Having The Whanger means that I can actually throw the ball as I have arthritis in my shoulders. Surprisingly, you can't buy them over here. Every dog owner we meet wants to know where we got it from.

I have continued to write and I have completed my second Sherlock Holmes pastiche, a short story entitled 'Sherlock Holmes and The Birchwood Affair'. I've also edited the first pastiche which I wrote after my heart attack (which finished my teaching career). The first is called 'The Star of Bithur' and both have been published through Smashwords. As it is so laid back here, I find I spend a lot of time on my laptop so why not continue to write? The problem is coming up with a story line...but help was at hand recently from an odd and disturbing direction...withdrawing from some prescription pain killers. A really horrendous experience which I wouldn't EVER want to repeat. The only good thing that came out of it was that during the withdrawal, which took a month, my brain was firing off in all directions and the creative part was in overdrive! The result of this was my first sci-fi book, 'Saline'.

I have to say that the process of self-publishing with Smashwords was a doddle....but only if you had prepared the ground fully by reading their free ebook on how to make sure your story was in MS Word .doc format and was formatted correctly. This ebook is invaluable as I had written my latest story, my first sci-fi ebook using my iPad, my Mac and also my Windows netbook. This meant that the formatting was all over the place as the various bits were in PDF from the iPad which was changed into RTF for LibreOffice which uses .odt before changing to a plain .txt file to nuke all the hidden formatting and then using Word to create a .doc file needed for publishing to Smashwords!

I decided to publish both of my Sherlock Holmes pastiches and also 'Saline with Smashwords as it is a totally FREE way of publishing ebooks. It hasn't cost me a penny and I have sold five copies of Saline and I'm a whole $11.02 better off (as of 18th December). I think that works out at paying me about $1.25 a week!

Using Gimp, the free art / photo package wasn't easy but did produce (as you can see) a rather nice front cover for my book. I found the tutorials on You Tube enormously helpful. A special thanks to a young lady called Aubrey Watt for her easy to follow You Tube tutorial!

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