Meet the Authors

Dateline; 1st June 2013 – place The Old House at Home – Sheerness High Street.  

Peter Apps’  new book Deja Vu to the Nth was launched successfully.  The third in the series this book ties up a lot of the story threads that began with the two previous tales but adds a new dimension, or rather a series of new dimensions, to entertain and make the reader think.IMG_9569Also and not least Sandy Edwards a poet and writer of excellent short stories launched his new book of poetry – a re-print with additions of extra poems that cover a journey in the east and his experiences here in the UK.   Sandy is planning to produce a volume of short stories and is currently working on a novel and a novella, but we must enjoy the poems and look forward to what will be a worthwhile read – having heard some of the tales in draft form I can say they are good.  An Antique Place is an enlarged second edition and one of those handy books that you can keep handy to read occasionally for inspiration after you have read it all the way through.

Karm Arger, although his book was not quite ready on the day it is possible that we will have copies ready for the event at Eastchurch on the 8th June.  However, The Killing of a Nobody and other stories, is worth the wait with some interesting tales that take the reader out the comfort zone and again gives food for thought.

In addition to the three authors featured Ruth Partis, local poet, and writer arrived with her two popular books, The Works of Ruth Partis, and My Sister’s Shoes.   And James Apps was there with copies of Jake’s Progress and the epic poem The Turval and the Grobble.   

Snacks and Pimms provided by the establishment, singers by members of the Big Fish Band, and interest shown by the patrons and visitors.


In the many years I have used computers for writing I have had a number of printers.  When I first started using a computer I had a robust dot matrix printer that went well with the Amstrad computer I was using.  I had that for a a number of years, re-programmed it to work more efficiently, and set it up to respond to the DOS commands the computer’s required to respond.  Special Piccies 798

This article is the editor’s opinion, is also influenced by choices made and does not reflect  on the general quality of printers on offer.  Of necessity, I have had to buy at the lower end of the scale, although in 2013 the quality of printers for home use has risen and usually you get value for your money.

Eventually the printer began to wear out as I had a number of long essays to write.  I exchanged it for a small HP printer that lasted several computer upgrades, but being a simple unit it eventually suffered paper tearing, and bent or worn out parts.  I had to replace that but it was fast, gave good quality printing but was only a black ink model, which was fine for much of what I needed.

The trouble was it suffered eventually from a lack of compatibility as I upgraded my PC’s.    Although this would not normally be a problem; simply replacing a worn out printer, or getting it repaired at that time was quite easy to plan and make decisions.  Replacing the printer with a similar, upgraded model seemed a good idea.

The problem was that as the new century progressed inkjet printers became cheaper, and more or less consumable items in the general run.

When I bought my first Dell PC I also had the printer with it.   It had an excellent ink system, was fast, printed reasonable colour and what you saw on the screen most of the time was reproduced on the page.  The printer was in fact rubbish regarding longevity.  Dell replaced it for me when it started to chew paper, pick up more than one sheet, print half a page and in general fail to work.

I used other makes after that.

One printer (make not revealed) worked well for nearly two years with the PC I was using with no trouble, but as the updates on the PC arrived, and the maker upgraded its products so I became aware that the printer was failing.   It insisted on suddenly losing the contact with the PC and I had to re-boot the printer, search for printer driver upgrades until eventually it refused to work.

Result:  I changed to a Canon which was an excellent choice.  This is not a product promotion, but merely an observation on my experience with same.  This worked extremely well, produced good results and in particular, as a 3 in 1, which is what I like, as well as a quality photo – printer, it fitted the bill.   A problem arose when paper jammed in it creating an error which needed a service agent’s expertise.  The cost of the repair would be more than the cost of a new printer.

I plumped for a new printer.

Good idea?

Yes and no.

Yes because I got an upgraded version but no because there is a generational change in the printer design to take into account.

It appears from my recollections that what I want is a printer that will print text, posters, flyers and other small items including  leaflets, but what I have got is a printer on which the emphasis is on the Photo Printing facility.  Its default design purpose is to print photographs. And that means a strange development.  My latest printer seems to be reluctant to shut off, is slow to process and when the black ink runs out needs the cartridge in the print tank set to continue printing if you print in a colour.

Previous printers had the faculty to simulate black from the colours.  Previous printers would accept ‘fast’ print settings including draft settings until changed to default.  Previous printers were also easier to do double sided printing.  This latest model has good quality printing but unless it is set on fast printing takes far too long to process the print job.

When it does decide to print it will do what it is asked and do it well, but then that is why I bought the damn thing.

But, when we look at what the inkjet can do my niggles are petulant chunterings compared to the printers we used to have.   I remember buying the plain, perforated paper in boxes and having to tear off the side strips afterwards, and re-inking the tapes.

Still, it is better than setting thew type in boxes and pressing it in a wooden press, oh, and making the paper yourself.


Self Publishing – a few comments.


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One of my books - self published through Lulu.

One of my books – self published through Lulu.

The question the aspiring author is often faced with once the work is completed to publication standard, is how to get the masterpiece into print.  The traditional route for many is to use an agent who will place the manuscript with the a suitable publisher, handle  much of the mechanics such as editing, publicity and of course the contract.  All this done for the usual fee, and fair enough too if the heavy administration work is to be done allowing the author to get on with writing the book.

However, in these modern times it is difficult for a new writer, unless they are in the right place at the right time with the right and popular material, to get a sniff at an agent let alone a publisher.  Most publishing houses are unwilling to risk investment in the work of an unknown preferring their established authors or celebrities’ books.

You could say that some of the latter are money making rubbish, but unless an agent or a publisher can see money making from your work they do not want to deal with it.   Any writer will be aware of that.

So, what happens?

The alternative is self-publishing.

Self publishing systems can be tricky ranging from those that sell a simple low cost system hooked into the current e-book market as well as print productions, offering ‘print on demand’ (POD) marketing, to those who want to tie the author in to expensive contracts.

I will not name any of these systems in this item but point out the differences in approach and some of the traps that can await the unwary.

Let us begin by stating that the easiest American based POD company gives the author control of all processes during publication, has an individual ‘shop window’ and is fully up front with all charges, and will not expect, or demand the author buy large numbers of copies, although the more you buy the cheaper each copy is.   This same company offers facilities beyond the basic that, if taken up can cost a considerable amount, but again you as the author can control how many services you want to buy.

The alternative is the extension of the so-called Vanity Press systems.   Some you will immediately recognise for what they are, garage fillers whose sole purpose is to get you to use their system and, under the directive of marketing for your self will send you boxes of books all looking quite plush and well finished, but destined for the re-cycling bin.  You will be charged a lot of money for an item that you cannot sell unless you are a gun at marketing.

The next, and most interesting system, is the one that will offer a professional service at a price that appears to produce a quality product, and will do so.  Within limits you have control of the process all the way and on offer is some excellent marketing tools for you to use.

It is at this point I am tempted to identify the companies but it would be unfair to do so and instead point out the pitfalls.  Both companies offer similar services but one appears to be more professionally concerned with the success of the author rather than the success of their bank balances.

Company A:  Offers a professional service that will need some investment by the budding author.   The service includes, templates for setting out the book, cover design including the ISBN, editing to a professional standard, a quality end product and promotion of the book with a POD and advice on how to personally sell yourself, how to promote your book and will give you a place on their extensive lists.   All is given with good follow up support and charges are negotiated at the outset with no hidden extras.  These services are normal with all such publishers and are paid for by you but the results can be good. You do not have to buy large numbers of your books.

Company B:  Offers the same or similar services but without the marketing or promotion.

Both companies take a share of the profits and pay royalties on all books sold.

As you can imagine, all self publishing systems will charge for printing the copies, charge for shipping, and will offer discounts for trade orders.

The traps are:

getting tied into a contract you cannot really afford.

paying for shipping costs that are far too high

not having access to promotional sites

being charged for items, such ISBN that you can buy cheaper

sent promotional ideas that you cannot use

being overcharged for services

Lastly, the author can take the step of creating their own publishing house.  A group of authors can set up a web site, find editors, design artists and printers in their local area and using the templates that can be created on most text formatting systems, write and design their own books.  Control of the process is assured every step of the way, knowledge and resources can be shared.

Marketing becomes problematic but by linking in to local book fairs, using the web sites and alerting the local press there will be some success.

In conclusion it should be said that self publishing books is popular and your book, unless you find innovative ways of marketing, will be lost in the mountains of titles on offer.

James Apps – editor.

Canterbury Festival – Poetry Competition

The annual Canterbury Festival has launched the poetry competition for 2013.  On the events page I have put links to the entry forms and a copy of the terms and conditions. This is prestigious poetry competition and well worth giving a go.   For more information I have posted a link below to the festival website.

In the meantime try out the muse and enjoy.  I was part of the Festival last year with the Wise Words project and enjoyed the experience.   As usual Canterbury offers a good series of festival events but for writers, the poetry competition has to be an attractive event.   Imagine yourself  being the subject of the 2014 poster!

Just to catch your attention

Just to catch your attention

Visit to Orbital Print


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The writers and staff outside Orbital Print

The writers and staff outside Orbital Print

One of the most satisfying things to do as a group is to organise a visit to a place of mutual interest, and so, when Peter Apps suggested he arrange a visit to Orbital Print in Sittingbourne, we gathered a group and arrived ready to be educated.  It was worth the effort.

Orbital Print are part of a large operation that deals with all kinds of printing solutions including a lithograph printing operation at Ashford.  At Sittingbourne there is a digital printing operation which serves authors with an excellent short run – and longer – productions.   We arrived, gathered, donned orange safety jackets, had pictures taken and then followed our host, Oliver Kleinman, through the factory to the small but busy operations room.  There we saw a huge Xerox printing machine happily burbling away.

We were offered and served tea, coffee, juices and some snacks, and then treated to an explanation of the operation run from their small suite of offices and printing shop.

I have to remark that some years ago when I was a lad I went to visit my uncle Fred, my mother’s brother, at the Kent Messenger printers in Maidstone and was impressed then by the technology of the printers, and also later, seeing the newsprint flying high on the presses at the top of Week street.  Huge machines printing masses of papers.  Many of us have experience of desk top printers, mostly inkjet 3 in 1’s and the Laser printer at work and take the process for granted.  We use them and print out as we wish.   Good stuff.

The machine!

The machine!

The printer at Orbital uses a similar digital, electronic process that shows PDF on screen and translates the result, your written material, to the paper whistling through the machine.  Technically the paper is printed from two ‘engines’ (nearest idea is like having two printers working in tandem), one that prints the top of the sheet and the next that prints the underside, four book pages at each time – the same pages (a sheet of 1 & 2) – and follow up from there in sequence ready for taking to be trimmed, sorted, bound, trimmed again and despatched.


What you need to do:  Write the bloody book, set it in the size you want with margins etc. sorted, supply pictures, ISBN, book cover design and money to pay for the process.  The rest is done for you.

The cost? You may ask about the cost.  This depends on the book size, how many you want and of course the quality of the finished product.  There is a one off setting up charge that seems to be reasonable – for example: a book can be set up for under £40.00 and printing costs are charged at fractions of pence per page.

The individual will pay a reasonable amount and above all have some control over the selling price according to how the books are marketed.  A group could produce an Anthology of good quality and be able to sell cheaply.  The bonus is that whatever you  produce, be it fiction book, history, anthology or a photo story, there will be a record of the process and more can be produced when called for.  Start at 20 copies and go from there.

Signs of the Times

Signs of the Times

I was impressed by the simplicity of the process and awed by the technological complexity of the machinery and software that will produce a finished book.

Afterwards we went to the Jenny Wren for coffee and a beer, chatted about what we needed to do for the future.  The opinion of all was that the visit was well worthwhile, and most enjoyable.

There is much more to the company than just printing our books although, as you will appreciate, that is our interest, so I suggest you check out their website: 


Bearing in mind that we were all interested in self publishing the idea of using Orbital Print for our books is most appealing.  As an alternative to sending overseas a local printer is a good idea.  In this age of E-publishing, a short run printer with such versatility is a boon, and with the chance of being able to control the production the idea of combining a print version and an E-book is most attractive.



We met the people – Day One


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Local Authors showing off!

Local Authors showing off!

Local Authors: (Front) Karm Agar (left), Lisamarie Lamb, Yvonne Hughes (rear) Peter Apps, Ruth Partis,  James Apps.

We met local people, sold some books and signed them, chatted with people and even had our pictures taken.  Some visitors were happy to know there were fiction writers on the island whose books reflected some life on the island – naturally those were most popular – and that we also have an active writer’s group.

Day one was successful, interesting and most encouraging.

And why would a group of writers want to spend a couple of days chatting with people in  Sheerness Gateway?  The answer, of course, is that we are proud of what the island has to offer in art, entertainment and history; to which we want to add our own literary achievements.

On offer are Science fiction stories by Peter Apps that do not include zapping belligerent aliens, but instead offer a thoughtful yet gripping take on the genre.   We offer Murder mysteries set in and around Sheppey, and a murder thriller set in Sheerness.   Local poet, Ruth Partis offers some of her unique work including a copy of her Christmas poem meant to be read on Christmas day during the dinner, and an epic, Milligan style poem with illustrations by James Apps who tries to remain anonymous.

For the discerning reader there is a book about the life of a Barrister, a resident of Sheppey by local author Karm Agar. (A pen name)

Pride of place goes to the Anthology of stories written about local historical events – some that have never been explored before – and short stories by Lisamarie Lamb.

But, for all the books on offer, meeting people is the most important which is what Meet the Authors is all about.






Writing Competition!


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I have taken this directly from the email received sent to me by Luigi:  

These competitions are always worth entering so get the metaphorical pen out and have a go!  For information click on the link below or at the bottom of this post.  

2013 chapbook posting

We’re pleased to announce our 2013 Fiction Chapbook Competition.

A couple of things have changed since last year’s competition — the first is that we’re holding the fiction and poetry at different times (poetry will be in the spring) and this time we’ll be publishing the ten shortlisted writers in an anthology.

I’m happy to say that last year’s winners were both thrilled with their books and one even came all the way to Galway from The States for a book launch!


Lisa Frank


Doire Press


Meeting the Authors Three

The idea of the Meet the Authors event is to begin a series of informal book fair events for local authors – so, if that is you, and you write or have written a book for sale to the public, then join us.

Roof Over Heads

Copies of the anthology ready for sale.

If you want to meet the authors and hopefully buy one or two of their books, come along on 14th and 15th of December during the day from 10 until 2 at the Sheerness Gateway/Library.  We will be posting a catalogue of local authors and their works on this site, at the library and wherever else we can manage.

This is a unique opportunity for local residents to discover some of the talent Sheppey produces, and those whose work is connected with the Island.

It is a privilege to one of the number of writers on Sheppey whose unique take on the problems and fun of the world reflects the Island and all it has to offer.    Watch this space as they say – we will keep you posted.



Meet the Authors Two

Sometimes I write something then a little later find that what I said and what I meant turned out to be two different things.

What I meant to say in the last post was that if you contact me before the 30th November then you would be included in our catalogue. If for some reason you can’t do anything until the last minute, come along anyway.

We would prefer to include you in the catalogue because it helps the publicity.

At this point I’m going I’m trying to avoid another lesson. If you’re in a hole, stop digging.