Saturday, 24 November 2012

Waffle and waving in Waterstones

Discovered today meandering through the Images for Curd the Lion on Google:
from the website (way back in 2008)


Alan Gilliland
Raven’s Quill, £14.99 or £10.72 on Amazon

Strolling through Waterstone’s on a recent Saturday afternoon, we were virtually accosted by a man waving this book at us. Listening to him, it turned out he was in fact the author of this children’s book. I asked a few questions that revealed he was once graphics editor of The Telegraph. He waffled on a bit about four soft toy animals in search of a stolen brooch and then showed us some quite superb black and white illustrations. We were quite taken by the old fashioned storytelling and the nod towards Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. He signed a copy and I merrily trotted towards the checkout with book under my arm. My daughter Martha (9) has not stopped reading or talking about this book ever since.   John Fountain

What a nice young lady she is, and her father too.

A story of self-publishing – the hard way!

About The Author

Alan Gilliland A Potted History:
Born in Malaya in 1949 and brought up on a garrisoned rubber plantation during the ‘Emergency’, Alan Gilliland’s first, mountaintop, boarding school was reached by means of a 1930’s American armour-plated car, WWII Dakota aeroplane and Saracen armoured personnel carrier. A year later, aged six, he was transferred to a new school, memories of whose white hot sandy beaches were to remain ingrained upon his psyche long after leaving for this drizzly island we call home.
With his departure, Malaysia became independent and its anti-colonialist insurgency lost its rationale. Alan quickly learned the uses of the cricket bat, macintosh and other essentials of integration into English society. Performing passably well throughout his boarding-school years, he fell at the final hurdle, being expelled for revising for his art A-level exam.
Undeterred by this setback, he did not go to art college, preferring devious paths to the realisation of his creative ambitions via film-making, architecture, photo-journalism, newspaper cartooning and news information graphics – with 18 years and 19 awards as graphics editor of The Daily Telegraph – before finally arriving at the decision to write and illustrate fictions less ordinary than his own life.
Casting himself adrift with his long-suffering wife upon a tiny barque of of talent with its pencil-mast, he draws from the very winds the inspiration to fill the sheets and carry them across the ocean of scepticism that lies between hope and fulfillment.  On the shoreline, his six children and three grandchildren, wave their little hankies, litorally wondering if ever he will make it.

Now what happened next?
First he exhibited on a tiny stand at the back of the London Book Fair, to both promote his graphics to publishers and to promote his own work. He found some admirers, including the founder of Alibris, a website for books in the US, and a young lady, daughter of a US publisher.
She was so enamoured of his first book ‘The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond’ that she recommended he take the Ms to Cornerstone’s Literary Consultancy to get an in-depth report on it and ever-so-kindly offered to pay for that report.
The report, critical but also very enthusiastic about it, was carried out by a fine author of children’s fantasy. It advised changes which he mostly carried out (saddest of which was the ‘murder’ of one of the characters – in real life, not in the story).

Buoyed by her enthusiasm, and because his financial situation was becoming critical (the consequence of a near-fatal spinal infection that destroyed a disc at the base of his spine and his ‘seed-fund’ by the time he recovered) he decided to throw aside caution and take the plunge, completing the text and illustrations, designing the book with its 80+ pencil illustrations as a hardback and finding a Chinese printer  for the first print run of 1,000 copies, to be sold at £14.99.

Next he persuaded nearly 60 independent booksellers to order a copy in advance of publication, and following that, Gardners wholesalers to order 400 copies.

He went, as a visitor, to the Frankfurt Book Fair and traipsed the stands, trying to sell his graphics to UK publishers (with some success) and his book to foreign publishers (without).
On the Saturday after his return, he did an inaugural book-signing at the Guildford High Street branch of Waterstones and sold, he was told later, more books than many of the authors invited to the Guildford Book Fest that week.
This mild success gained him access to that chain at which he has been assiduously signing ever since.

His micro-publishing company, Raven’s Quill Ltd., joined the IPG and PA and then exhibited under their aegis at the Frankfurt and Bologna (children’s) Book Fairs, receiving UKTI grants. Through these he acquired a South Korean agent, Amo, who immediately sold Curd to a publisher there, a Spanish/Portuguese agency, Ilustrata, and a Far East agency, Big Apple, who have just sold translation rights to a mainland Chinese publisher. At Bologna his exhibit was seen by an Israeli publisher who subsequently bought rights to Curd, and by Kassie Evashevki of United Talent Agency in Hollywood, who subsequently acquired the rights to Eat, Pray Love, the Twilight Saga last film and Stieg Larsson with the result that Curd was relegated to the twilight zone.

Meanwhile, back home in its first year, Lovereading4kids (the children’s bookselling website) discovered Curd and made it first a ‘Book and Debut of the Month’ then ‘of the Year.’ This drew the attention of a Fox Films executive who asked for it – but this was stymied by Disney announcing Toy Story Three the week it arrived there.

I had forgotten to mention Curd’s first positive reviewer was the political philosopher, John Gray (Emeritus Professor of European Thought in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics) who wrote an incredibly kind appreciation (link at bottom of article).

He made mistakes. The first print run of Curd the Lion had the two characters, Sweeney the Heenie (a hyena) and O’Flattery the Snake talking phonetic Oirish, which he had probably been advised against and which annoyed the pants off certain adults, though it seemed to affect children, with their more malleable English, not at all. Secondly, he enthusiastically put that first version of Curd up on an Amazon Vine program (whose reviewers receive free copies of any book they choose to review) and discovered exactly those people intolerant of phonetic Oirish. (For my own thaumaturgically therapeutic response to such rude reviews, see link at very bottom of this piece)

So he changed that and has received no negative reviews since then (touch wood) but has slowly acquired appreciative comments from book bloggers, academics and media people (see bottom link) along with a host of fantastically enthusiastic reviews from kids themselves, including some which can be read on this Lovereading4kids page,
and this lovely response to my half-term signings:

"Dear Alan,
I was thrilled with meeting you today in Bishops Stortford. 
My teacher, Miss Jones, really enjoys reading 'Curd the Lion and Us' to my class. All my friends love to listen.  
I wish I could be you. I can't wait to tell them I've met you.  
When Mummy finishes reading the book to us I'll e-mail again and let you know what we all thought.
William Shields (6 years old)"
(and mum's follow-up after I sent a pdf of a drawing)
"Dear Alan,
Thank-you for the picture that you drew for William. 
He was absolutely thrilled and we'll get it printed professionally and put it on his wall.
Thanks again for making a little boy very happy and for helping him develop a love for stories and reading.
Lesley Shields"

Curd has been through five print runs (up to 3,000 at a time) and has now sold 9,000 plus copies at £14.99, with 42.5% - 57.5% (through Gardners – self-supplied at signings) return to the publisher.

In publishing his second book, ‘The Flight of Birds’ – a Gothic ghost tale – for which he confidently ordered 3,000 copies as a paperback with French flaps to be sold at £9.99, he made a second slip. The copy editor he thought had done the final edit before going to print left before doing so and that print run had its fair share of typos. He failed to double-check and the book went to print. He only discovered this mistake when a very literate teenager pointed it out, adding the rider that though she abhorred any typos in books, she adored the story.

This has now sold out of its first run and the author has introduced a ‘White Edition’ – which version has a different beginning and (happier) ending and was written at the same time as the original dark version – after receiving many reports from ladies who loved the story but were serious upset by the tragic ending. This version – and the Black – is being printed in digital short runs that are relatively unprofitable in response to an edict by James Daunt, head of Waterstones, that threatens the very continuance of his book-signings and the introduction of his books to new readers. See his BookBrunch article on that draconian edict here:

Until it becomes clear whether or not Alan may continue his business conducted through Waterstones so successfully to date, a decision to print the more profitable litho runs of thousands cannot be made.

This is a shame, since the author (of both) has personally put £140,000-worth of books (10,200+) through the tills of Waterstones and yet still finds himself under threat under this new regime.

For reviews of both books and a more factual analysis of Alan’s progress, see this earlier blog post:

My own therapy, fresh from the South of Ireland:

Oh, and a piece pertinent to the pervasive uninhibited vitriolic outpourings of some internet reviewers:

Monday, 12 November 2012

Could this be why book stores support introducing unknown authors to new readers?

I thought you might like to see this lovely response from a boy I met at one of my signings in Waterstones at half-term.

“Dear Alan,
 I was thrilled with meeting you today in Bishops Stortford.  My teacher, Miss Jones, really enjoys reading ‘Curd the Lion and Us’ to my class.  All my friends love to listen.  I wish I could be you.  I can’t wait to tell them I’ve met you.  When Mummy finishes reading the book to us I’ll e-mail again and let you know what we all thought.
 William Shields (6 years old)”

And Mum’s follow-up after I sent him an email pdf of one of my drawings.

“Dear Alan,
 Thank-you for the picture that you drew for William.  He was absolutely thrilled and we'll get it printed professionally and put it on his wall.

Thanks again for making a little boy very happy and for helping him develop a love for stories and reading.
Lesley Shields”

To the managers of Waterstones’ branches: Without your continued support, store by store, such responses would not be possible and I thank you all.

To any who read this: feel free to pass my thanks on to your colleagues in other branches, especially all those who supported me through the summer holidays and indeed, for the past three and a half years, resulting in roughly £140,000-worth of my books through Waterstones tills at signings (total sales £165,000).
I hope stores will continue to support my work and enable me to have a successful pre-Christmas (see 2011 autumn to Christmas results below).

On querying James Daunt on the purpose of the summer signings policy recommendations, I received the following assurance:
"Persistent, intrusive pitching to customers of books that often did not meet any reasonable standard which, as booksellers, we should have been maintaining, was unacceptable."
"If your books, and the manner with which you engage with our customers, is acceptable, the new policy on events will not hinder you."

I hope you share the view that the quality of my books and my manner of approaching customers are both sufficient to permit me to continue with my business conducted so far successfully through Waterstones.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Folio Society’s facsimile edition: David Attenborough’s Edward Lear Bird illustrations

The Folio Society are bringing out the most amazing edition of David Attenborough’s bird illustrations. At £895 a snip!

Delighted to announce a new limited edition: David Attenborough's bird prints by Edward Lear, published in facsimile

My dear friend Shabby Tattler (Right) insists I blog his (hah, hah) own watercolour set of birds painted for The Daily Tussock-grass (the UK’s leading ornithological ragwort).

He apologizes for the quality of reproduction here, but reminds me he kindly donated the originals to “cheer up” the gloomy cancer ward where my daughter was treated (successfully).

This cormorant he feels closest to in spirit, he says.

Personally I prefer the subtle monchromatic hues of his arctic tern

He counters with the gaudy oriole...

And parry with a holy roller!

Lost for birds, he fishes about for a reply...

Wild brown trout makes better eating – farmed rainbow, boxed ready for supermarket shelves

“Nuts!” I say, that’s no watercolour, that’s just crayon

Check this link to a recent illustrated proposal in my blog, aimed at the Folio Society – or some illustration-loving publisher! LINK


Book promo material update (and why not?)

• Raven’s Quill member of the Publishers Association and the Independent Publishers Guild.
• We are in receipt of UK Trade and Investment, grants to exhibit at international book fairs (Frankfurt and Bologna).
• We have sold translation rights to three countries – South Korea, Israel and now China this week.
• RQ is represented by Big Apple across Asia, Amo in South Korea and Ilustrata for the Spanish/Portugese bloc.
• Top literary scouts, Anne Louise Fisher Associates, have been showing Curd to their clients.
Faber Factory distributes its e-books.
Waterstones sales figures in more detail at bottom.
I, as author, have a literary agent at Sheil Land Associates.
My intention when starting this publishing venture was to achieve a critical level of sales above which publishers would find it difficult to ignore the quality and appeal of my books.

TWO BOOKS (so far - several in pipeline):
The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond - Alan Gilliland author & illustrator. 176pp. Hardback £14.99. 20 Oct, 2008. ISBN 9780955548611. An illustrated nonsense quest story with a real map. Sold nearly 9,000 copies to date.
The Flight of Birds - Alan Howard author (my pseudonym for adult books). 400pp. Paperback £9.99. 31 Oct, 2010. ISBN 9780955548628. A Gothic ghost tale set in Sussex between Elizabethan England and today, based upon a Greek Myth transposed into an Elizabethan context. Sold nearly 3,000 copies.
The Flight of Birds White Edition. Short run summer edition, 2012. (Different start and ending to original, Black, edition. This version produced in response to feedback from, mainly, females who loved the book but were often very upset by the ending. Both versions were written before original publication).
     I also have available a book of short stories, poems and illustrations, Ana    
           Thema, 100pp. Paperback. ISBN 9780955548635. £6.99.


•The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond” – Alan Gilliland author & illustrator. ISABN 9780955548611. £14.99. publ. 20.10.2008.
Sold nearly 9,000 copies to date in hard back at £14.99.
Translation rights sold to three countries – South Korea, Israel and now China this week.
Very nice reviews/articles from (see below): a Bookselling website (Lovereading4kids, Book of Year), an educationist (Margaret Mallett), an award-winning writer and radio broadcaster (Brian Sibley), a political philosopher (John Gray), an established children’s fantasy author (Katherine Langrish), a well-regarded children’s book blogger (BookWitch), the editor of Australian Children’s Book Council magazine (John Cohen), a well-known e-book pundit and organizer of international conferences (Mike Shatzkin), several regional newspapers and lots of children and adults.


• Recently, Brian Sibley, author & broadcaster, WINNER of BEST ADAPTATION for The History of Titus Groan in the BBC Audio Drama Awards, 2012, and author of the official Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film   guides, wrote: “Alan Gilliland's delightful book for children is a heady mix of the tried and trusted format featuring nursery-toys-come-to-life with riddling, punning, nonsense in the style of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear punctuating a twisting, turning roller-coaster adventure story filled with dangers, outlandish encounters and weird and wonderful beings.
  There are a mass of subtexts and literary and historical allusions within the story (it is not accidental, for example, that the creature encountered named the 'Dodongs' is an anagram of that Carrollian alter ego, 'Dodgson') and readers armed with the map can trace the route of Curd & Co's adventures in the real location of Brimham Rocks in the Yorkshire Dales.
   With delightful illustrations by the author, this a perfect read-aloud book for bedtime readers  - and their listeners! A unique and wonderfully quirky book.”

Lovereading 4kids website: Book of Year, Debut of Year and Personal Choice of Founder, wider age-range than ever given before: “Reminiscent of the writing of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, this brilliant debut children's novel is completely unputdownable as well as being almost uncategorisable. …a terrifically funny yet mysterious story, full of larger-than-life highly improbable characters that I couldn’t begin to do justice to…other than to say they are wild and wacky and completely original. …full of tongue-in-cheek humour and skilful wordplay …will be loved by anyone from 7 to 107.”

British academic, Margaret Mallet’s book ‘Choosing and Using’ (for student teachers) won the UK Literacy Award: “In a necessarily selective account, I have been concerned to pick out some of the best writers and most memorable titles which have survived over the years and which I think are likely to continue to be read.” On Curd: “It is not surprising that this story has been compared to the work of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear: riddles and word play, mysteries and surprises are wonderfully interwoven. The play on names is superb.”

The philosopher, John Gray:“Gilliland's mix of upside-down logic and serious whimsy is nonsense of the highest calibre. The best thing to have happened to children's literature since Alice went through the looking-glass. I was particularly taken by the Labyrinth chapter. The whole seemed to me delightful - in the magical tradition of George Macdonald, but with an extra dimension of nonsense and wit of its own.”

Author Katherine Langrish: “I agree this is a really unusual book – with brilliant illustrations, too. Think Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, lots of wordplay and paradoxical fun, and you’ll be there. Not for every child, perhaps, but any budding chess players or crossword puzzle fiends will have a whale of a time. It demands something of the reader, and that’s not a bad thing at all.”

HiT Entertainment (TV company) wrote of Curd: “We really enjoyed the inventive witty narrative and surreal humour in the book. We can see that Curd the Lion might work very well as a family feature film.”

John Cohen, Editor, Reading Time (journal of Children's Book Council of Australia, Feb. 09, extracts from review). "This is an extraordinary book from a former graphics editor of The Telegraph, UK. What Gilliland has done is to lift what might have been another toy story onto a literary gold plate. His ability to play on words as well as to keep the story moving is a rare skill. The result is that the story can be enjoyed as a simple adventure as well as for its tongue-in-cheek word repartee that is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear."

Mike Shatzkin (the US e-book pundit and adviser to top publishers): "Alan, what a great story! I'm glad you didn't ask me before you undertook to do this because I would have told you it was nigh on impossible! But, having achieved this much, I think your Korea sale is just the first of many you'll make around the world. You should find a literary agent to sell rights for you in the US, Canada, and Australia right away." (He organizes international e-book publishing conferences)

The Flight of Birds - Alan Howard author (my pseudonym for adult books). 400pp. Paperback £9.99. 31 Oct, 2010. ISBN 9780955548628. A Gothic ghost tale set in Sussex between Elizabethan England and today, based upon a Greek Myth transposed into an Elizabethan context. Sold nearly 3,000 copies.


• Steve Sharpe, SVP, European Goldfields: Tweet to @OnundTreefoot: “Just finished The Flight of Birds - fantastic! it had me deferring theTimes Crossword on the commute to London each morning.”
Review: “This is a truly astonishing book. The cleverly spun threads will draw you into a web of intrigue and mystery that will have you gripped throughout. If you enjoyed the Quincunx you will love this - I can't recommend it highly enough.”
[Times crossword expert – 11-28 mins]
Waterstone’s staff reviewer: “The reader is thrust straight into an atmospheric drama, weaving history and fantasy together in this Gothic Danse Macabre, in parts reminiscent of some original brothers' Grimm tales, and the writing is so addictive there's never a good place to put the book down. As for the ending, nothing prepares you for that! I really was not expecting when I started this book for it to have such depth and diversity, horror and enchantment. It combines the magical twists of Neil Gaiman with atmosphere of Poe or Machen.”
Egmont on The Flight of Birds: “The Flight of Birds and its intended sequels make up what is obviously a very ambitious project, but after much discussion our editorial team felt that in some of its themes, and taking into account the literariness of its prose and complexity of its structure, it might be more suited to an adult publisher, or perhaps a teen imprint that is part of an adult publishing house.”
Martyn Drake Blog: “The story itself is hugely intriguing. After the death of her mother, Kate Pegler moves to a small village with her father where she befriends a local boy whose father works on the estate of the Tercel family. But things take a strange twist when Kate encounters the mysterious Shabby Tattler whose very appearance triggers a series of strange events in which Kate finds out about the terrible massacre that took place back in the village during the Elizabethan times. Kate’s future lies in the past and terrible secrets and revelations come to the surface. Intrigue is the key here. I absolute loved the story. Alan has created a rich history filled with high drama through to delicate relationships and some truly shocking moments. Buy this book.”
• Cyberbookworm Blog: “The flight of birds is a modern gothic novel with a twist. It is full of lyrical prose that transports you back into the world of the gothic novel. Full of dark metaphors and an uncomfortable back story that brings the horror alive. It is a story of love, hate, and vengeance on a grand scale. For those that love the gothic genre this will hit the spot. The flight of birds is the first book in an exciting series that promises more thrills and chills to come. Look out for The Toadman and Reprise, the second and third parts of the “Danse Macabre” trilogy.”
LOVEREADING WEBSITE: top of their ‘Horror, Fantasy & Sci Fi’ in December. “The reader too will feel utterly drawn in to follow Kate's story through the author's masterful storytelling powers and the two worlds, modern and historical are woven together in to a web in which the reader has no desire to leave but instead continue turning the pages to the surprising denouement.”
• Littlewriter, Waterlooville (age,18): “This is a book which fills your mind with wonder. The characters live on in your mind long after the last page has been turned and the story is clever, deserving applause for the gripping plots. This book is a book to read if you want to experience a beautiful piece of writing which will stay with you forever.”
• Catherine Hodgson (Teen) Blog: “I really, really enjoyed it. Okay, maybe it was a little bit gory in places (maybe a lot), but I thought that it was really clever and a
really good read. It’s what I’m always looking for - a mystery, stuff from the past, betrayal, horrid stuff like that; but that's just the sort of thing that is really very exciting. There is as much interest in the chapters set in the present day as there
is in the tales from the past; I love it I love it I love it. Thaaaank you, Mr. Alan Howard!”
Chris Bushe, 53: “A book that's sounds frankly weird. A girl goes back in time, whilst remaining in her current time and follows her family’s history back 400 years. This sounds all nonsense but in reality is one of the best books I have ever read. Readers of medieval whodunit novels (CJ Sansom lovers) will love this book. This is an author with great ideas, way beyond many others. He also could easily write separate books about many of the characters in this book.”
OK, these may not carry the same weight as the Curd reviews, but they give you an idea of the sorts of people who like the book.

Rounding up the business aspect of what I explained there: over the last three and a half years I have built a successful business around the Waterstones group through signings, selling a total, through Waterstone's signings alone, of 10,197 books, or £139,643.03 worth through tills from Oct 20, 2008 to 1 Sept. 2012, earning me £59,348.29 through signings over 46 months at av. £1,290 pm. or £15,482 pa..
   The last financial year was my best, with  Raven's Quill income (before costs) from sales at over £19,700. (Compare with traditionally-published author average in Britain)
• Last summer I sold over 1,103 books (£13,459 through tills) over 28 events averaging 39.4 per day (boosted by 3for2 offer on all fiction pb)
• From autumn half-term to Christmas 1,058 (£13,638) over 26 events av. 40.7. [more Curd books sold]
• This summer 809 books (£10,769) over 31 events, av. 26.

And finally – lots of lovely Children’s reviews for Curd on
(If you are tempted to buy – support them and buy from them!)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Comment to Janet Reid’s Hard Numbers piece

Janet Reid, US agent with sharp teeth, wrote a “hard numbers” piece in her blog:

It starts (forgive me for lifting a few lines – my comments won’t make any sense to anyone otherwise):

“Wednesday, October 24, 2012

some hard numbers

My query in-box has a new category these days: authors who've self published with the goal of a larger publisher noticing.  There have been some amazing stories in the news about authors who've done just that.
We watch those stories very carefully of course.  We're in this biz for money, not love, and if there's a place to find projects we can sell, you bet we're there.  If you're thinking of doing this, here's what to consider:  
1. To get noticed, you have to sell a lot of books. By a lot I mean more than 20,000.
If this number doesn't daunt you, ask yourself this question: have you ever sold 20,000 units of anything?  
If the answer is yes, ask this next question:  
Have you sold something to 20,000 people, one by one?  
If you self publish you are no longer just the author, you're the salesperson for your book. Do you have any experience selling?...”

Seeking clarification regarding what she deems significant, I wrote a comment to that piece that I reproduce here because I think it may have gone AWOL:

“The Agent Game retweeted your link to this. Query. Are the units sold e-books, hardbacks, paperbacks? At what price? I’m curious to see how you rate a smaller sum sold (in UK) as I have? I’ve hand-sold at signings 7,936 of my first book, an illustrated nonsense quest story, putting £118,960 through tills (of approaching 9,000 sold all told). 2,642 at signings of second Gothic ghost tale (£26,393 thro. tills) of nearly 3,000 all told. ie. 10,578 or £164,880 sold at signings. I collect 42.5 - 60% list depending on distribution method, but have to organize and pay for printing and warehousing. £15 book cost £1.75 per unit on 2,000 run including delivery to UK warehouse from China. £10 book cost £1,32 per unit on 2,000 run. Gardners wholesalers take from 300-1,000 at a time, saving some warehousing costs. Sold transl. rights for first book now to South Korea, Israel and this week to China. Have nice reviews from a political philosopher, educationist (UK Literacy Award winner), writer/broadcaster (winner of BBC Radio drama award this year), a Book of Year for Lovereading4kids website. My SP co. is a member of the IPG and PA in UK, receives UKTI grants to exhibit at international book fairs (Frankfurt & Bologna - but neither this year – terms became tougher). My company represented by Big Apple, Amo (Korea) and Ilustrata (Sp./Po). A lot of effort quite apart from the writing. I do this in my spare time when not illustrating for several publishers (adult non-fiction cutaways, 3D battlemaps – science through to archaeology). Now have UK agent. Shatzkin wrote he would have said beforehand what I have done is impossible and urged me to find US agent ASAP. I also illustrate for architects and developers incl. one several times winner of World Architect of Year. Previous careers in newspapers as photographer then graphic journalist – graphics ed. of Daily Telegraph (UK national) winning 19 international awards incl. UK Press Awards, Graphic Artist of Year (winner 3x and runner-up 2x) and quite a few of your US SND awards.”

This is not intended as any sort of boast, but posted to discover just what she means by significant.
It will deleted as soon as she responds here, if she does, to affirm she did receive my comment.
Have to ring off – blinded by a migraine..

See newer post for more detail on what I have managed on my own:;postID=7845014395628244484

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Curd the Lion on the Long March into China!

We’ve just agreed to sell translation rights for Curd the Lion* to a Chinese publisher, Aurora Publishing, through Big Apple Agency.

Looking forward to seeing how their treatment turns out!

That’s now three countries: South Korea and Israel are the other two.

*The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Brian Sibley’s Blog on Curd the Lion

Brian Sibley is an author & broadcaster,  
WINNER of BEST ADAPTATION for his six part adaptation of the Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake, The History of Titus Groan 
in the BBC Audio Drama Awards, 2012
and author of the official Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film guides.
 (The Hobbit film guide is out on 6 Oct. in UK)
 and, just out, a behind-the-scenes look at Aardman Animation’s new film, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (or for American readers, The Pirates! A Band of Misfits)
Now, what on earth has this got to do with me, you might ask? 
Not a lot, 
except that a few days ago he very kindly wrote in his Ex Libris blog (excerpts): “Alan Gilliland’s delightful book for children (their parents and the young at heart in general) The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and Us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond, is a heady mix of the tried and trusted format featuring nursery-toys-come-to-life with riddling, punning, nonsense in the style of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear punctuating a twisting, turning roller-coaster adventure story filled with dangers, outlandish encounters and weird and wonderful beings....
There are a mass of subtexts and literary and historical allusions within the story (it is not accidental, for example, that the creature encountered named the ‘Dodongs’ is an anagram of that Carrollian alter ego, ‘Dodgson’) and readers armed with the map below can trace the route of Curd & Co’s adventures in the real location of Brimham Rocks in the Yorkshire Dales. With delightful illustrations by the author, this the perfect read-aloud book for bedtime readers and their listeners.”

For full article with pictures, see

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

It never rains but it pours

I awoke this morning with the fuzzy-visioned annunciation of that homunculus, migraine, sitting pregnant upon my head.
Three hours later, I look out at intermittent streaks of sunlight trying to break through this dark depressing rain of the soul that sucks the very breath away from one’s lust for life.

Reminded of the thoughts of the dying Amelia in my book, The Flight of Birds (White Edition):
Amelia watched her daughter hunched over the books, writing furiously, pausing, looking up into the air and then resuming her scribbling.
“Such purposefulness,” she thought to herself, “such concentration – as if there were some meaning to it all.”

We strive and strive and just as we think we achieve some success or stability and come to convince ourselves there is, after all, some meaning or purpose to our lives, something randomly steps in to destroy it.

The ludicrousness and the beauty and the triumph of man is that, in face of this utter meaninglessness, he can still pick himself up and carry on trying.

But how much the more so if he is able to do this without the crutches of faith or belief in some ultimate purpose or teleology, whether that be through religion or science.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Alice’s White Knight lives!

Sketched once by Tenniel:
a funny masterstroke;
he’s still alive and well
in sunny Basingstoke.

His hair is now neater,
a bit thinner, of course;
a chargeable scooter
he’s swapped for his horse.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Waterstones Summer tour results good

Final tour result 806 bks (541 Curd) @ £10,769 through tills in 31 signings. 
Av. 26 @ £347.39 per day. 

Top scores on tour.
39 – Colchester
35 – Portsmouth
34 – Basingstoke
29 – Berkhamsted
28 – Bedford
[Compared to top this year: Fareham – 48; High Wycombe 43; Basingstoke 41; Manchester Trafford 40; St Albans 38]

31 – Colchester
30 – Poole
29 – Bridport / Witney
28 – Ipswich
27 – Lymington
26 – Bury St Edmunds Arc
[Compare top this year: Colchester – 35; Woking /Windsor/Fareham/Bishops Stortford – 33; Reading Oracle – 32]

Curd max on tour:
25 – Colchester
[Top this year: St Albans – 32; Basingstoke – 30; High Wycombe – 28; Fareham – 27; Colchester – 26 sold out by 3.30pm; Reading Oracle – 26]

Conclusion? This summer holidays has been quieter than the year in general vis-a-vis my signings.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

My Book Brunch piece on the drastic directive from Waterstone’s re. author-signings

I earned over £19,500 last year from book sales, the great majority of which were sold through Waterstones at signings.
It was roughly half my total income. I have committed to print runs which will likely now have no chance of being sold. If this directive is strictly enforced, I will in all probability be in severe financial distress by the year's end, after all that effort building a brilliant relationship with Waterstones managers over three and a half years.
Though I had thought there was a possibility of my business failing if Waterstones itself failed, I never dreamed they would do this to authors like me who have a successful business relationship with them.

I hope people will understand why I feel the need to speak up.

(the headline is theirs)

BookBrunch article:

Waterstones' faulty logic (

Alan Gilliland • 03 August 2012
A new Waterstones "directive" apparently requires branches to cancel most local author events. Children's author Alan Gilliland, who has sold over £150,000-worth of books, mainly through signings in the Waterstones chain, is but one author dismayed at this latest move.
Simply put, this latest directive suggests that all Waterstones branches should cancel their local author events, with the exception of local book launches or those that are expected to create a queue. The events they retain should last no longer than 90 minutes and be staffed by booksellers throughout. I will add that this means that travelling out of your area is now impossible unless you have a very, very serious following.

Tweeting to my reviewers, I have been receiving a "this is outrageous" reaction. One immediately tweeted to Neil Gaiman and vowed never to buy from Waterstones again if this new policy is strictly enforced. Smaller shops are also apparently disgruntled because good "local" authors help achieve, or exceed, daily targets. Such stores cannot "pull" famous authors, so they will be left out of pocket while impotent to improve their ratings. Rather than this blanket ban, maybe Head Office should have allowed expert local event organisers discretion to permit good sellers but omit ones who are too aggressive or incompetent.

It seems Waterstones' local author/store autonomy drive of last summer has backfired. With the sudden increase in PoD leading to many indifferent and badly designed books, the pressure on stores to permit signings may have resulted in wasted days or complaints. Now the pendulum has swung wildly in the opposite direction. effectively banning all non-crowd-pulling authors, except on a book launch. One can only hope that reason eventually puts a dampener on this lurching from one extreme to the other to one allowing rational choice based on commercial viability to permeate the rank and file bookstores while permitting new authors the chance to prove their viability, as I once did in Guildford, selling more books in my first signing than most authors invited to the concurrent Guildford Book Festival that year.

I hope that the intention is simply to remove the "presumption of a right to hold signings" regardless of the merits of the book or competency of the author. But as it stands, very few shops are going to tie up a member of staff as warden to authors even where they can drum up enough support to gather a queue - and how much extra work is that for a store, prior to any event, let alone having a bookseller hand-sell on the author's behalf?

Having turned over 8,500 Curd the Lion at £15 and 3,000 Flight of Birds at £10 in toto, mostly through signings where staff order the stock (that is, where they don't insist the author brings it with him/her) and then provide a table, I have put something approaching £150,000 through Waterstones tills in this way. I have, it now transpires, foolishly based my business model around the bricks-and-mortar chain as opposed to ebooks because of my love for the printed quality of my illustrated book and its unsuitability as an ebook, for I am about to be rewarded for all the hard work I have put in by a dismissal of service without accounting the small contribution I have personally made to their own continued viability.

Last year, out of area, I toured Southern England, selling over 1,100 books from Exeter to Ipswich over five weeks. In the lead-up to Christmas, I sold 806 (at £15 and £10). Not inconsiderable for an author unknown to every customer on introduction. This edict presages an end to that era in Waterstones of the "discovery" of a new author that so many of my own clients have told me they found enchanting as I talked them into my nonsense adventures with my storyboards.

Is it not sad that, at the same time as James Daunt is very laudably promoting across the chain a beautiful book by an unknown author, (Chingiz Aïtmatov's Jamilia), this draconian edict effectively bans all authors of possible merit but unknown to the chain's customers from the opportunity to gently build a following while seemingly welcoming any celebrity, regardless of merit, who can amass a crowd.

Mark this day with a black stone, as Charles Dodgson would say.

In an era when rank commercialism herds those curators of quality - the major publishers - into frantically rushing out clones of the latest "hot product" to placate their shareholders where the bidding frenzy failed to secure them that new market-leading "product", is it not largely left to the small publishers of old-fashioned integrity to support writers of potential merit through their formative years before success sees them snatched away? How many will be able to continue to do so now, knowing their protégés will get only one shot at bricks-and-mortar success in the biggest chain in Britain unless they can secure an outstanding review in the disappearing book pages of the national newspapers to endear them to that older generation of book buyers who still read newspapers?

Authors will surely be compelled to engage in the frantic banter of self-promotion via online social media to grow their readerships, which itself drives online sales through Amazon, which itself diminishes the need to pop down to the old store to make serendipitous discovery or meet and chat to a real live author (and for many such an intimate exchange with any author carries a certain magic).

No, the future for the customer is endlessly to queue for a cursory glance and a quick squiggle with their idol.

If I had not received this generous support from Waterstones and other bricks-and-mortar bookstores, along with that from Lovereading4kids website, my book would never have reached the eyes of educationalists such as Margaret Mallett who, in her award-winning guide for teachers and student-teachers, Choosing and Using Fiction and Non-Fiction 3-11 (David Fulton), gave Curd the Lion a half-page box, saying: "It's not surprising this book has been compared with Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear: riddles and word play, mysteries and surprises are wonderfully interwoven. The play on names is superb." She prefaced the chapter by saying that "in a necessarily selective account, I have been concerned to pick out some of the best writers and most memorable titles which have survived over the years and which I think are likely to continue to be read." And I would never have discovered, as I did last week, touring Waterstones in Somerset, that Curd the Lion is shortly to be the subject of a lecture by a professor at Bath Spa University. Surely such incremental discovery and recognition of the virtue in a work - in this case in academic circles - must be some proof of the value of permitting unknown authors a platform?

Of course my first acknowledgement came from the most amazing source, John Gray, to whom I am hugely indebted, who gave me permission to use his comment in whatever way might help sell my book: "Gilliland's mix of upside-down logic and serious whimsy is nonsense of the highest calibre. The best thing to have happened to children's literature since Alice went through the looking-glass. I was particularly taken by the Labyrinth chapter. The whole seemed to me delightful - in the magical tradition of George Macdonald, but with an extra dimension of nonsense and wit of its own."

Alan Gilliland is an artist, draughtsman and author by trade. He did not go to art college, preferring devious paths to the realization of his creative ambitions via film-making, architecture, photo-journalism, newspaper cartooning and news information graphics – with 18 years and 19 awards as graphics editor of the Daily Telegraph – before finally arriving at the decision to write and illustrate fictions less ordinary than his own life. His former boss, Sir Max Hastings said of him: "… an exceptionally gifted artist and illustrator… I can endorse as simply ‘the best'."


Thursday, 5 July 2012

A time for melancholy?

: (

This day I started, bright and cheery,
Yet all at once began to query
Why? For what should I be cheery?
I sought and sought, till eyes were bleary
And of this trial began to weary,
Till sudden dawned a light so eerie:
Like this rhyme’s end, aren’t most lives dreary?

A Black Stone day, then, despite the sudden sunshine. Returning to yesterday’s theme, a visual homage in my book, Curd the Lion, at the end of the tale...

Old Corbie, the Great Raven, becomes a Phoenix, reflecting...

Edmund Dulac’s lovely watercolours from The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, which in turn lead to...

Caspar David Friedrich’s The Wanderer above the Mists, reminding me of his...

Two Men looking at the Moon, that is somehow reminiscent of...

my own photograph, The Wanderer, taken at the enchanted Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs in Sussex.
If you want to see more of my landscape photos, click this link:

(I have a first edition copy of the beautiful Dulac book, with the original exhibition poster still inserted.)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


“I mark this day with a White Stone...”

I’m sure Charles Dodgson would have loved Go, had he discovered it, with its deep logic and with all those shiny black and silky white stones resonating on the hollowed-out board...

It was on this day he rowed young Alice Liddell and her sisters up the river, down a rabbit-hole, and sowed the seeds of a delightful myth.

Visit for more.

In remembrance, may I reveal one small secret from my own little tale of nonsense with a long title: ‘The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond?’

This tale is a nonsensical quest story set at the Turning of the Year. Many of its characters relate to this: notably (and obviously, in this context) The Dodongs.
He has two heads because two heads are plainly better than one, especially in a book of nonsense and because he is Ineffable Emperor of the Land of Nod, which sits in the middle of the Great Sea of Slumber, which is all around us, if only we could see it, which is why he has hands instead of wings – he can swim through the air.
He has scales instead of feathers, for his feathers are so magical he has to hide them inside himself to protect them (two are hidden in Queen Mumbie-Bumbee’s magic pillow).

Pilgrim Crow flummoxed by the Dodongs at Writing Desk Rock

Why Dodongs, you may ask?
This two-headed Janus bird sits at the Turning of the Year looking forwards into the New Year and backwards into the old (Postvorta and Antevorta) ?
Because his name is simply an anagram of Dodgson, the surname of Lewis Carroll, whose chosen emblem was the Dodo (some say on account of his stutter, which seems like two voices fighting for speech)
and because Janus was the family crest of the Dodgsons.

Hence the Dodong’s anagrammatic parting shot in the book:
“If you would be,
As E. Clerihew, droll,

If you happen upon my book, see how many other characters, in name or function, you can relate to the Turning of the Year,
or to myth, folklore and legend,
or to local history (the book has a real setting, Brimham Rocks, a National Trust site near Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire – and a real map: you can follow the whole adventure and even meet two of my characters there, in a manner of speaking...)

The book.
ISBN 9780955548611. Price £14.99 Available from several good bookshops, Lovereading4kids
website ( – great site – it has all my reviews on it), Waterstones (stores and website), Amazon if you must, or signed and posted direct from me at Causeway Cottage, 63, High St., Billingshurst, West Sussex, RH14 9QP.

‘Nonsense’ is form of language I think perhaps most nearly and delightfully described by my mother’s sister when a young girl, writing to her older sister at a time when a letter was a letter, a joy and not a sentence:
“...and French! Well, it’s quite a nice little language all by itself. He! He! He! You should have seen it (my essay).”
Dora’s letter to her sister, with a watercolour on every page, and even the envelope reverse!

And its last sentence takes us neatly back to where Alice and her sisters climbed into a boat with the Reverend Charles Dodgson and Mr. Duckworth, on this day in 1862, and they all rowed happily into posterity.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


The Flight of Birds Gothic ghost story to appear in two editions over the summer holidays.
The original – “Black’– edition with a dark ending.

The ‘White Edition’ – with a more lyrical beginning and ending for those who need a happier resolution. This is the final version of the White Edition’s cover in trade paperback with flaps.

Below, the original ‘Black’ edition with an altogether darker ending.

Monday, 2 July 2012

My failed Peugeot saga – episode xxxx (end of month five)

Another month without MY car – how time flies!

My Peugeot 207 THP failed 9th Feb. 2012. 

In June 2012, new management at Peugeot Broadbridge Heath told me that the CPU (or ECU) for my THP had been superceded twice.
They ordered a new one. Installed it. Car wouldn’t even start now.
They said my CPU was of a redundant type given to the first 1,500 THP 207s. 

The new Bosch CPU only works with a different component set.
They ordered a new set of components to replace the old set that would not work with the current CPU. (So this could actually have been solved in WEEK ONE had someone used their head!)
Two weeks, and totalling approx. £9,267 of car-hire, later – BACK TO SQUARE ONE! 

Peugeot central have vetoed the component set replacement and gone back to insisting on replacing the original CPU with a matching one – on indefinite back order.
Rather than permit me to have an up-to-date car they want to ensure I have a redundant component set, saving themselves £750 odd. Good Maths, guys!
But at last we come to the real reason Peugeot weren’t worried if I told the press about this farce – they knew it only applied to a small (1,500) number of customers who really didn’t matter.
Cheers old chap!

[How timely!  Even as I wrote this, I have just received a CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY from PEUGEOT that starts :
“Dear customer,
Thank you.
Thank you for using our network to have your vehicle serviced or repaired recently.

We are interested in your opinion.
Because we are always trying to serve you better, we would like to get your feedback on the service that you recently received.”]   (What to say, I wonder...)

PEUGEOT FARCE – financial breakdown:

Feb 10 - mar 28  (47 days of local dealership-hire)
Peugeot 207 1.4 @ £48.13pd
= £2,262
Mar 28 - June 30 (94 days of Peugeot UK hire)
Ford Galaxy  @ £74.52pd
= £7005

Total to end June (incl vat)

Each 31 days = £2,310

End July = £11,577
End Aug = £13,887
End Sept = £17,112

Value of my car on 10th Feb in pukka condition = £5,500? (At which time it had NINE MONTHS OF EXTENDED WARRANTY BOUGHT FROM DEALER TO RUN)
So they could have given me back then a car worth £14,767 and not lost a penny today

I suggested this logic three months ago.

But never fear, they promise me the new OLD CPU will be with the dealer today and I’ll have my T–RUSTY car back soon!

NB. To be fair to Peugeot UK,  they did hire a reliable Ford Galaxy as a replacement vehicle for the duration. They did refund my exploding tyre valve from the previous summer. 
They are carrying out all work required free of charge. 
Including any remedial work required to offset any damage caused by the car sitting idle in the open air for coming up to five months now, 
including brake discs and pads if these have rusted, 
ensuring the paintwork, that had six weeks’ worth of bird lime accretion not removed for a further month, is “up to scratch” (ha),  
and putting on a new Peugeot exhaust (replaced in disgust last autumn with a non-Peugeot exhaust after theirs fell off with its sling bracket rusted through).
But ensuring I keep to an out-of-date, superceded CPU and ancillary component set, probably by way of experiment to see if it is any more reliable than the first one.
Oh, and not forgetting the piston coil that failed at the same time as the CPU (the third coil in three years – which leads ME to wonder if it might not have been the CPU causing the coils to fail in the first place? If the new CPU leads to further coil failures, I’ll let you know.)

Best of luck to all of you who also bought one of the first 1,500 Peugeot 207 THPs!

* MD, Peugeot UK. When I write to him on Linkedin, I always receive the same-worded reply from Customer Relations Managers stating just how keenly interested Mr. Zimmerman is in my problem and that they will be reporting back directly to him on the progress and that they will keep me up to date with developments. Except it has nearly always been me who informs them of what is happening. “Rivet, rivet!” as they say in France.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


A huge “THANK YOU” to all those Waterstones stores who have agreed to host me over the Summer Holidays!

From Somerset to Suffolk, from South Dorset to Northamptonshire, over 30 stores have welcomed me.

<– (For a list of stores and dates, see my Signings Itinerary, left)

I look forward to trying to emulate my last year’s success: over 1,100 books sold.

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Flight of Birds – White Edition out next month

My Gothic ghost tale set on the South Downs in Sussex, England, between Elizabethan England and today, is to have two versions from the end of July.



The ‘White’ edition has a different, more lyrical, beginning and ending, leading more naturally to the second book-within-a-book, ‘Daisy Chain.’ It is not a cop-out – I wrote both alternatives originally and chose the ‘Black’ version to publish first.

The first print run of the dark edition is coming to an end and so I have chosen to experiment during my summer signing tour of Waterstone’s branches, with both printed digitally rather than lithographically. It will enable me to see just how many people opt for a ‘happy’ rather than ‘tragic’ ending. I will be able to order copies, changing the balance as the demand dictates.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Curd the Lion for iPad

It should have been out by now, but I was totally let down by a Norwegian App developer, who had promised to create it but just abandoned it.

So now I am creating my own iPad book using iBooks Author.

It will have:
• an introductory slide show (to be replaced by an audio-slideshow),

• the story itself with 80 illustrations

• each chapter will have a map symbol at the start. Clicked, it will show the real map location and the Animals route (as roughly explained in the intro). Where you are on the map at that point of the story highlighted. This is the start of a photo slide-show of that part of the route. ie. 18 photographic route guides. (for instance, at the end of your own adventure, you may even meet two of my nonsense characters!)

• an addendum featuring all the creatures. Click on these and you will see the origins of their names (not often what you might think they are*) or other points of interest, mythological, historical, etc., and explanations of some of the hidden things in the book.

I hope this will interest now and future readers.
The audio-visual intro will be simultaneously put on YouTube to try to drum up more interest.

For details of the book, read other parts of this blog, or go to  the great book website:

*For instance, you might think the name, Professor Balloonafuss (the moon), comes from his hot-air balloon form. But no, along with many others, it comes from the world of mythology, calenders and alphabets. In this case, the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet, whose first letters are:
Beth, Luis, Nion, Fearn and Saille. This tree-alphabet betters are also the first five months of the lunar calendar as explained in ‘The White Goddess’ by Robert Graves.

And that’s just one character.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Wealden Hall House sadly for sale

 ‘Causeway Cottage’

Dating from around 1370, the house we have worked so hard on is up for grabs.

See my blog, dedicated to all our effort, entitled “Causeway Cottage Blog”
It has four pages.

House – with detailed description, plans and links to: estate agent; a slide show of exterior/interior; slide show of garden

History – a teaser for the extensive history we have plus four surveys by historical societies.

Garden (with dog, Rufus, my Hungarian Vizsla) – with description, plans and link to that slide show

Surroundings – things to do in area, with link to a slide show of some of my landscape photos taken in this area of beautiful, woodland, downland and floodplain.
The end.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Friday, 16 March 2012

Jungian Synchronicity is alive and kicking

On Tuesday there occurred what Jung might call, perfect synchronicity.
I visited for the first time my brand shiny new about-to-be agent, Ian Drury, at Sheil Land Associates’ office in London.

At the same time my son, Ben, was sent an email invitation asking if he would like to be represented by the literary agent, Piers Blofeld from the very same address.
Piers has been a long-time admirer of my son’s ‘Cosm’ page in the Metro Newspaper. Deciding to look him up on the internet, Piers discovered Ben’s ‘Cosm’ website and also that he had authored a book for Dorling Kindersley and, wondering if he had an agent, contacted him.

Neither agent knew what the other was doing. Each was as surprised as the other (and as Ben and I were) when we each told them the next day of the serendipitous coincidence.
At the same time as I was chatting to Ian Drury about my Gothic horror/ghost story, ‘The Flight of Birds,’ a publisher whom I had approached last November asking if they would like to consider that book emailed me to say that they would and asked for a copy.

Synchronicity or just co-coincidence?

iCloud, my Cloud: Pie-in-the-Sky Cloud!

Over a week ago I reported my migration to iCloud threw up some issues with my address book not translating in either direction, or only in part.
After two sessions that resolved some issues, it was migrated to LEVEL 3 troubleshooting in which they gave me a temporary password so that they could monitor live the transactions.
Well, one week on, I still have problems.
First, in my Publishers category, one of my main clients Penguin Group, had been deleted from my iPhone (which I only discovered while in London trying to contact them re. a meeting), while it remained intact on the iCloud and all other devices.
Today I discovered that, in my Printers category, half the list is missing from the iCloud version, as seen through Safari, whereas it was complete on all devices!?
Contacted my level 2 adviser to inform him of this today.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

iCloud - migration – two days and counting

It’s only a matter of minutes to transfer to iCloud! It’s so easy.
Or is it? I migrated all yesterday.
I have three Macs (27" iMac, 15" MacBook Pro, 13" MacBook Air), an iPad2 and iPhone 4S.
I’ve been on to AppleCare for over 4 hours yesterday and a couple today, gone from level one to level two (a very helpful Polish gentleman from Cork, Ireland) and has now been upgraded to level three: given a temporary password so that they can monitor progress and behaviour.
Firstly, iCal worked fine with everything entered on every machine (except the iPad) uploading to iCloud and then to each other machine within seconds/minutes.
Secondly, AddressBook data entered on iPhone and iPad uploaded instantly to iCloud and thence to the other, but not to any of the three computers.
Nothing entered on any computer uploaded at all.
After 4 hours round and deeper into the iMac system, we packed up at 7.30pm, very tired and hungry.
Today around 2.30 - 3 we started again.
This time, we first experimented by creating an admin account then copying the Archived Addressbook onto Address book. Didn’t upload either.
Next, back on normal identity,  exited iCloud, deleting the data so that both Address book and iCal on computer blank. Then logged back into iCloud and both Address Book and iCal downloaded.
Next, created new iCal item on the computer calendar – uploaded immediately.
Next, created new Address Book item on computer address book. Took up to 15 mins to upload – though it did now upload eventually. Having uploaded it then spread very quickly to other devices.

So awaiting the monitoring to see why the uploading of Address book data takes so long (and slows computer down ridiculously).

Then we have to discover why the iPad won’t upload data on iCal and why all computers takes so long to upload data from Address books.
THe original situation of no communication between the 3 computers and iCloud either way has gone but its cause remains a mystery (to me at least).

Monday, 5 March 2012

Of smelling salts and other re-agents…

After three winters treading my lonely path in the wilderness, acting as author, illustrator, designer,  publisher, publicist, promoter and salesman and 8,000 Curd the Lion and nearly 3,000 Flight of Birds later…

A pleasant surprise to usher in this Spring: I have somehow acquired me a literary agent, it seems.
(hence the need for smelling salts)

For which I have to thank Ian Drury of Sheil Land Associates…

For agreeing to represent me – and even being “happy to” – what a nice chap!

Sheil Land Associates also happen to represent some of my own favourite authors
(who deserve at least a line each):

Peter Ackroyd

Susan Hill

Rose Tremain


Barry Unsworth.

[It’s called making oneself feel better by association]

Mark this day with a White Stone.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A ‘Limericked’ look at rude reviewers and venting one’s spleen.

When someone is inordinately rude, I find it healing to vent my spleen in a Limerick.
So here’s:

A review, for all that it’s worth.
Of reviewers, from the Bight to the Firth,
Who ‘peruse’ but prefer
To condemn and concur
That the ‘Vine’ is for strangling at birth.

Thus, to a Triad of anonymous reviewers:

In Edinburgh there was an old Dearie,
Whose obsession with Carroll and Leary,†
So coloured her view
She couldn’t see through
Her own specs, the leery old Dearie.

A fewocious old Wolf-man called ‘Wuss’
So kow-towed to that Edin-Bag Puss.
Not to “twead on her toes,”
He pwaised her in pwose,
So sycophantic she died of the fuss.

There once was a frumpy Welsh Kitten,
By Carrollian tales so smitten,
She, on finding my ‘Curd’,
Pronounced: “Quite absurd
Such nonsense could ever be written!”

† as she called them.
The second person wrote a creepy letter to the first
before doing a ‘demolition’ as he saw it of my illustrations.

(The sheer vindictiveness of some people does flabbergast me, though.)

And my verdict?

What better place than the loo
For reading a book review?
So pungent and trite,
Just like my sh***,
And as quickly flushed away too.

[In case you are wondering, the ‘Vine’ is a jungle mechanism quite suited to the abilities of apes.]

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Red Baron –v– The Tiger Moth

The Red Baron (aka Ben Gilliland) provided the model for…