Monday, 18 June 2018

Where we used to read

It's been two months since we posted on the blog, so many apologies to readers who've enjoyed our tips, ideas and author profiles in the past. Unfortunately, blogs take maintenance and when life in both the book world (and outside) gets in the way, the fun stuff sometimes falls by the wayside. And blogging is fun, there's no doubt about it. It's such a great way of connecting with readers all over the world and bringing them together.

Now the summer season is upon us, though, we can't help noticing many other bloggers are slowing down as well. The lure of the sun, the country and seaside walks and just the joy of being out and about can distract us considerably, but then, that's a very healthy distraction isn't it? It's also probably much healthier to be focused on the here and now of the world around us than on social media (and let's face it, blogging is still social media of one sort).

On that note, if we cast our minds back to the days before the Internet, we at Sunpenny know that we did much more reading then than we do now. Granted there was still television, but if you think about where we used to enjoy reading, then you'll probably agree it's largely been supplanted by Internet based activities and interactions. Here are a few examples:

1. On the train, bus or tram going to school, college or work: these used to be ideal times for reading a book, or if not, a newspaper. These days if you jump on any public transport, you're more likely to see people glued to their phones. Admittedly some of them may be reading e-books, but more often than not, travellers will be chatting on Whatsapp, Facebook, or Facetime, or they'll be watching films.

2. At a café table on a terrace or in a lunch bar: It used to be quite common to see workers taking their lunch breaks with a sandwich and a book in front of them; alternatively, they might have been sitting out in the sunshine with a drink, their book perched against the glass. A more common sight nowadays would be a tablet or a laptop in place of the book, and of course the ubiquitous phone.

4. Lying in the bath, coffee on the side and a book in the hand: Again, this is probably much less common now than it used to be. We at Sunpenny can well remember taking long luxurious baths and reading till the water made our skin wrinkle up. There are of course e-readers, but think of the risks in taking one of these with you into the bath! If you drop your Kindle in the water, there's a chance you might lose your whole library, so maybe people just don't do that anymore unless, like us, they still buy real books.

However, one place where books are still often seen is on aircraft. Perhaps because many airlines require people to turn off electronic equipment, it's still quite common to see passengers with books on a flight, especially the shorter journeys where in-flight films aren't shown. E-readers are equally popular, but at least there's a prevalence of people reading rather than watching film clips, listening to chat shows or chatting to their friends.

Is there anywhere you can remember seeing people reading that you don't see anymore? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Tell us about it in a comment below; reminiscences like this can be lovely, so we'll look forward to seeing them!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

100 Little Pleasures: a new edition of anecdotes from William Wood

William Wood's first book of anecdotes 'A Little Book of Pleasures' was published in 2012 and was well received, particularly after winning a Bronze award at the Wishing Shelf Awards in 2013. His new expanded version of the book, 100 Little Pleasures was published at the end of March this year and is full of further delightful stories drawn from his recollections over the years.

William has always kept a diary, but as he says in the Prologue to his book, a diary is not for public view; it is an entirely personal document for the writer's eyes only and any suggestion of dipping into it to mine it for stories of a particular year or event would make him squirm. Nevertheless, in his unique style of writing in the accusative or 'you' form, he is speaking to the reader on a deeply personal level and reminding him (or her) of senses, memories and impressions that might otherwise be lost and might well have been included in his own or the readers' diaries.

William's anecdotes range from The Morning Post, through On Finishing a Swim to On Going Out Without a Phone; hardly world shattering events, but his powers of evocative description are such that the reader will be nodding in agreement and recognition of the feelings and images aroused.

William Wood is the master of the anecdote and as an expanded edition of his original stories, it is a treasure trove of delightful stories, many of which are reminders of a time gone by and a world we no longer live in.

As one reviewer wrote of the first edition: "I found it thought-provoking and it made me contemplate the simple things in my own life that give me pleasure. Some passages were so poignant or evocative that I think they will stay with me long after I've finished reading it and this book is destined to become one of my own small pleasures or treasures."

And another commented that it is "the lost art of essay writing. Brilliant pieces the reader can dip into when he pleases. The book does not have to be read at a sitting. Rather savoured at leisure."

In a world that is overwhelming us all with events of global and somewhat alarming impact, this is a book where you can not only lose yourself, but (as one reader comments) find yourself as well. 

The link to the Kindle version of the book on Amazon is here 
The link to the previous version with all its reviews is here 

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Bangkok to Ben Nevis Backwards: a memoir by Phil Hall

Sunpenny has published several memoirs in the past, all of which have been of unique interest in their own area. We are now proud to introduce you to Phil Hall, whose Bangkok to Ben Nevis Backwards has recently been launched as both a paperback and an ebook on Kindle. 

Rather than us telling you about Phil's memoir, we asked him to write a guest post giving us some background into the book. 

Over to you, Phil!

Thank you, Sunpenny, for inviting me along to talk about my book. ‘Bangkok to Ben Nevis Backwards!’ is a collection of my thoughts based on a particularly eventful 18+ months in the lives of the Hall family.

It starts back in 2011 when, debt ridden and simply fed up of chasing my tail, I convinced my wife and son that a move to Bangalore was just what the doctor, and bank manager, ordered. So we upped sticks and made this move without too many thoughts about what we were letting ourselves in for. Sadly though, just before we left the UK, I realised that my father’s Vascular Dementia was at the latter stages and I realised that the poor fellow wouldn’t even recognise me the next time our paths crossed.

The book takes the reader through a somewhat topsy-turvy journey to India, Thailand, and back to Scotland. Along the way I discovered that I could write for money, thanks to an Indian article mill, and I haven’t stopped since. India didn’t turn out to be exactly as awesome as I had managed to convince my wife and son; in fact, it was a major disappointment but that was mainly down to my woeful lack of planning.

So we moved to Thailand, the country of my wife’s birth. Her family were there and we thought that we could start our new lives with the help of those people. However, a few months later, my wife was attacked and butchered like a lamb in the slaughterhouse by none other than a family member. Unfortunately, Thailand and justice are not common bedfellows so they managed to get away with this near-murder with just a small fine and a slap on the wrist.

Needless to say, we moved away from the family and their unorthodox idea of hospitality and I started teaching in a rural school. My lovely wife recovered physically but the mental and emotional scars will never heal. For about a year, we did have a great old time and my son picked up the Thai language very quickly indeed. We also had some rum adventures ranging from a King Cobra in the garden to elephants trying to break into the house in the middle of the night.

Phil, who is also a musician and guitarist, with some
of his fans
Tragically, my father’s condition deteriorated and the day he was taken away from my mother, I knew it was time to return back to the grim reality of life in 2013. The adventures didn’t stop there, though, and on the day that poor old dad gave up the good fight, I decided to share my memoirs with the rest of the world.

As a writer of many years practice, I was happy that I managed to finish the complete book and hope that my dear father is finally proud of his once wayward middle child. I also hope that readers will enjoy my cautionary tales and will either learn how not to do things or be inspired to take the plunge and go travelling!

Thank you so much for joining us here, Phil. We understand you are writing a novel now and that you are also a guitarist in a rock band – a man of many talents indeed.

If you'd like to follow Phil, you can find him here on Facebook 
He is also here on Twitter
And here on his website where you can find his blog.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Tips and suggestions for preparing your manuscript

At Sunpenny, we believe in publishing high quality books with a difference. However, much of the quality comes first from the author. Our job is to do the copy editing, and work with the author on possible improvements. Then of course, we have to check and proofread the manuscript with our experienced eagle eyes, and fine-tooth combs.

A sunpenny novel of note
 But what can the author do to make sure his or her book is as good as it can be before submission to us? There are so many points to watch out for it can be mind boggling. Quite apart from planning your plot, giving your characters personalities and writing dialogue that is consistent with those characters, there are numerous other factors to consider, so here are just a few we think are important. 

One of our delightful
children's books
1. If you are writing fiction with more than one point of view (POV), then make sure you don't 'head hop' mid paragraph or even mid-section. It's always safest to maintain one POV per section or chapter; it's very confusing for the reader to keep switching and it's just not good practice to do so.

2. Check your facts. If your fiction refers to historical events or even recent times, make sure you've done your homework. For example, don't have people watching a TV show that wasn't running at the time. There's always someone out there who knows and will pick you up on it. Added to that, if you're describing a real life place or town, make sure your descriptions are accurate. If you get them wrong, someone will notice that you haven't done your research properly.

3. As far as your plot goes, check your continuity and make sure you don't have characters suddenly doing things they've never done before, or that you've given no suggestion of in previous chapters. Your heroine can't suddenly develop a passion for animals half way through the story if there's been no indication of her fondness for furries before. Every action needs to be logical and believable so if you haven’t prepared the ground for what your characters do, you'll lose credibility with your readers. As a film-maker once told me, every action needs to be properly set up or it will flop.

4. Assuming your book has been accepted based on the first few chapters, complete your draft, and then put it aside before you check it through for grammar and spelling. Do your best to send the best you can do! Editors and proofreaders are human and can get both distracted and irritated if the author hasn't done any spelling or grammar checks and the book is littered with errors. There will always be some; never doubt that. We never see all our own mistakes and you will be amazed at how many you miss. However, it's your job first to get it as good as you possibly can before delivering it to your editor.
Jo Holloway, managing editor
Sunpenny's managing editor is Jo Holloway, who has a lifetime of experience in script writing and editing. Hers are the eagle eyes that check every line of your manuscript and her advice to new authors has been invaluable over the years.

Sunpenny staff and authors at the London Book Fair 2016
We hope these tips are useful to all the authors among our readers. Happy writing, everyone, and remember, more of the time and work goes into editing than it ever does in the creation of a good story!