Adult Abigail on the way

OK, so I’ve been very quiet on this blog for a while. This post to confirm I have not died or lost interested or am now standing vacantly gazing at mushrooms in a supermarket. I am alive and well with all cylinders firing.

So, what have I been up to? Well, I am writing a version of the abigail story for adults. Why? Well the plot’s strong and sales of junior Abigail haven’t been in the millions. So a rewrite for an older audiance is in order. It’s quite refreshing to be able to shove in a bit of swearing and sex and to describe violent incidents that aren’t so anodyne they hardly exist.

And I can explore the characters some more. In the junior books I always felt the narrative drive was all, and pushing and pulling the characters along the story an imperative. But rewriting for an older audiance allows me to expand and breath.

It’s still exciting and a ripping good read. In fact it’s better.

I still need to decide what to call it, and if or not I should retire the junior version. But that’s for the future. Right now I am writing writing writing!

.. and of course I also need to decide what to do about this blog, which has largely I think served it’s original purpose. When I catch a break from adult Abigail, I’ll have a think, a consult and a re-organise.

OK, so I know I have been neglecting this blog ….

… in fact I’m not sure what to do with it now. I started it as a way of keeping track of where I was with The Abigail Saltminder Project, hoping it might also prove useful to other people engaged on the same sort of journey as myself.

Well, now I’m three books in and am writing the fourth, and most of the queries and questions I started with have been (sort of) answered. The project has entered a different phase and I’m really not sure what to do with this blog.

I somewhat doubt it’s of much interest to anyone, although I get a steady stream of visitors probably hoping for more personal information and loads of photos, links and what have you. All the social media stuff which is still a mystery to me. I read an article the other day about social media which started something like ‘I’m assuming you’re all familiar with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram..’  Ha! Facebook seems intrusive, Twitter confusing but Instagram…? right now, I believe it’s something to do with photographs. And yes, I know I could look it up, the info is only a click away, but why should I bother? I have better things to do, like picking fluff out of my belly button or staring out of the window. Enough of this activity displacement! I have to decide what to do with this blog. Seems like I have the following options:

  1. (The nuclear option) Write a grand conclusion (maybe this post could be it?) and remove links so it isn’t reached by people looking for something more personal. Or
  2. (The evolution option) Change this blog so it becomes more personal. Or
  3. (The euthanasia option) Remove links (in FB et al.) and allow it to just wither on the vine until the site rental becomes due, then not pay it. Instead I could be more active on other sites (FB et al.) Or
  4. (The I’m already bored with this option) Just keep the blog going, posting whenever and see how it goes.

And right now, as it’s lunchtime, I’m going for 4.


The Adventures of Abigail Saltminder 3. First draft written!

Well, onwards and upwards we go. ‘The Adventures of Abigail Saltminder 1: The Complex’ and ‘The Adventures of Abigail Saltminder 2: The Underside’ are both out there in Kindleland, and I’ve just finished the first draft of ‘The Adventures of Abigail Saltminder 3: The Core.’

Now I have to tuck it away for a while before I start the hard work of rewrites and more rewrites. My aim is to get it in a fit state to be read and commented on by my critical friends (Sally and Chris) by the end of this month (Oct 2015). That gives me 3 weeks, which ain’t long. But then these books ain’t long either, so hopefully it’ll all balance out.

One thing I won’t change is the opening sentence of the prologue:

The girl – and that dog of hers – had gone. In the end it had been like a visitation from a small tornado: unexpected and violent, but not too much damage.

I also have a good idea of the cover design, which will show Abigail and George looking over a vast level surface, with hanging lights above and mysterious, wrinkled spheres scattered around. In the distance, against the far wall is a curving flight of steps to a small landing and a closed door. At the base of the steps is a pile of what appears to be rags. To the side is a small mound of pulverised soil and, just discernable, borrowing into the mound, a segmented, hollow metal tube about a yard across.

Of course by the time Sally has declared the image as being too busy, and suggests something different or simpler, God knows what the cover will be like. But she’ll nail it but good.

But whatever: even now, it’s a stonkingly fine read and after rewriting and polishing and being criticised and rewritten, it’ll be as gripping as superglue.

In other words, a worthy addition to Abigails 1 & 2!

First Abigail book is now free

Well, we’ve finally got to where I thought we’d be from the start: first Abigail book is now free, and the next one has but a modest cost. Trouble is, as far as I can tell, you can only do a free promotion for 5 days within any 90 day period. I was rather thinking I could make the first one always free, and piggy-back the others on that. A loss-leader, if you will.

I suppose from Amazon’s POV, a free book generates no revenue, and therefore should be encouraged but sparingly. I am reminded of a placard held by some low paid workers demonstrating for more money after being offered something like 3%:


Well, we’ll see how it goes.

Meantime, I am bashing on with Abigail 3 (‘The Core’). Now up to about 22k words and on final chapter. Even though I say it myself, it’s breathtakingly exciting.

Mind you, that could just be me bigging it up so I keep going. To a certain extent, I’m watching myself watching myself. There’s me, the soon to be discovered writer of fantastic stories, being watched by me, the cynical bastard who doesn’t think it’s ever going to happen.

But then I once read a definition of a successful writer as one who doesn’t give up, and I do have a certain stubborn streak.

As I said, we’ll see how it goes.

God, writing is hard work

Well, here I am, in the mediterranean sunshine, going for a swim (occasionally) but for most of the time sat indoors tap tap tapping away at the next Abigail book. This is ‘the adventures of Abigail Saltminder 3: The Core.’ I should have it finished by the time I leave for home.

Writing is hard work.

A3 is full of action. Almost too full I sometimes think, as with all the running about and things happening I’m not sure I have given my characters room to breath and develop. At the moment it’s a bit like the first (and way the best) Indiana Jones film but with all the dull bits taken out. It’s easy to get lost in the tactics and forget the strategy.

The man with the gun comes through the door, there’s a mad climax and then you think ‘how can I top that?’ so here comes a man with a machine gun and after him, a squad of evil marines equipped with rocket launchers.

And what happens with your main characters? They’re just running about like marionettes and remain – like marionettes – wooden and expressionless.

And who wants to read about puppets? Yeah, OK, I’m a bit of a ‘Thunderbirds are Go!!’ fan as well.

Nothing’s easy. I’m going for a swim. Later. Perhaps. Maybe.

Hello to all my readers!

……. and a big apology for not having done anything with this blog for a while. To tell the truth I sorta thought no-one was reading it, so I’ve been in a ‘woe is me’ mode about it for a week or so. Anyway, here’s an Abigail Saltminder update:

  • Abigail 2 (‘the Underside’) has now been published, with a super-dooper cover done by Sally (note to self: add to this blog)
  • The website is now out there (note to self: add link to this blog)
  • I am currently 17k words into Abigail 3 (‘The Core’) out of a projected 20k. So that should be published maybe November. Again, it’s fast and pacy with plenty of things happening. By writing in 20k chunks I’m trying to avoid the mid-novel doldrums. You know what I mean: the boring bit in the middle between the big bang start and the explosive end. Usually when character is explored and relationships are developed and conversations are had, when all you want is for someone to come through the door with a gun and start shooting.

And in other news …… nothing. Still can’t work out what to do with FaceBook, so haven’t logged on for weeks. I hear they are adding a ‘dislike’ button. Sounds like one of the dumber ideas of our time, as surely it’s ambiguous? Supposing someone posts a selfie where they look awful with the comment ‘WTF! I look dreadful!’ And someone dislikes it, what’s that meant to mean? But then I’m coming from the standpoint of someone who’s never done a ‘like’ anyway.

And Twitter? I’ll try and do a tweet later today, but more and more Twitter resembles a crowded street where everyone is mumbling to themselves and no-one is listening.

So all is normal at planet Toby c. Zara!

‘Nuff said!



So where am I now? In social media hell

So it’s been a few weeks since Abigail 1 (The Complex) was published, sent forth to conquer an entirely indifferent world. Conquer? I think not. 2 copies sold, one to a friend of Sally’s and one to a daughter of mine. Both supportive, but no real feedback, no review and I rather think they haven’t actually read them. Or if they have they kept quiet because they either hated it or didn’t manage to finish. And if the latter then it’s really the equivalent to hating it as it’s only a 90 minute read, and if you can’t find space in your day to finish a book that short, well …..

So what am I doing now? Trying desperately to utilise social media to generate some reviews, preparing Abigail 2 (The Underside) for publication and writing the first draft of Abigail 3 (The Core).

In other words it’s decapitated chicken time in social media hell.

It’s the Social Media stuff that really gets me, as I not only don’t get it, I don’t know why I don’t get it. I mean I’m pretty smart, I’ve lived a life, cripes, I’ve even been to Bournemouth! But it all appears so intrusive, somehow. Particularly Twitter, which seems exactly the same as wandering about a crowded street muttering to yourself. I’ve been forcing myself to tweet once a week, and I try to make it witty, but always a self-conscious, false self-deprecating note manages to creep in, as if, behind the scenes I’m really saying ‘haha, look at me, trying to use SM to market my book, ain’t I just the business, haha!

I’ve also joined FaceBook, but can’t think of anything to say or share, and GoodReads where I’m struggling to complete my profile, and the Kindle Users Forum, where everything seems so hidden beneath layers of menu options I haven’t yet managed to find out or look at any comments people have made to my ‘hello there’ post.

No, tell a lie: I did, once, and wrote a reply to a woman who said welcome aboard or some such, but since then haven’t been able to work out how I got there.

So what happens is that after an hour or two making absolutely no headway I give up and try and get on with Abigail 3, but by then I’m depressed and down and nothing much gets done.

Abigail Saltminder 1 now published, so time for lessons learnt

Well, two days ago Sally and I successfully launched ‘The Adventures of Abigail Saltminder. Book 1: The Complex.‘ on Amazon.

Also I have a Facebook account and a twitter page, and Sally is working on the Abigail website. And I’ve been finalising Book 2 and have got going with Book 3. So A busy time, and I’m sorry, avid readers, I have been neglecting this blog.

So, with Abigail 1 now out there, I think it’s time to do a little summary of what I have discovered.

  1. All this Marketing gumph is a darn site more difficult & stressful than writing the book in the first place. I always rather suspected it would be, and for once – unfortunately – I’ve been proved right. I’ve seldom lost sleep wondering what should happen to my fictional characters. I can get Abigail into the most perilous situation and still sleep like a baby. But trying to construct a tweet of one sentence can keep me awake for hours. Maybe it’s because the first can be changed and the second can’t. I mean, if Abigail is about to be killed by a runaway robot, I can always change the robot to a friendly mouse. But a rubbish tweet or a less than judicious FB post are pretty much out there for ever.
  2. There is not an avid audiance waiting for your pearls of wisdom. You might think you have something important and/or witty to say. The rest of the world doesn’t. In fact the rest of the world doesn’t give a flying fart. But you have to continue believing they do, otherwise you’d just give up. And as giving up is construed as failure one keeps on regardless, and so the sleepless nights build up.
  3. My life isn’t long enough to understand Twitter. FaceBook I’ve sort of vaguely got the hang of: someone else sets it up and you log on every few days and say how you did with your morning Sudoku. But Twitter? I really don’t get it at all. Thanks to Sally I now have something like 80 followers and an inbox full of stuff from people I’ve never heard of. But I don’t know what to do. I log on and stare at the screen and write a tweet and delete it and stare at the screen some more before logging off. I ask again, what am I meant to do? I read a ‘Twitter guide for idiots’ the other day, and they said something along the lines of  ‘imagine you’re sat in a circle of other people, and everything you whisper can be heard by everyone in that circle.’ Oh gee, thanks a bunch. Sounds a bit like my idea of hell, or one of the worst parties I’ve ever been to. I hate parties, by the way; that’s why I’ve not been to one for maybe 20 years. But going back to all these idiots sitting in a circle. What if you haven’t anything to whisper? Sally thinks you should tweet maybe once a week. But if I have anything interesting to say (that I want to share) as often as once a week then my brain’s fizzing more than it’s ever done.
  4. Everyone else is better than you at everything. That’s not completely true, of course. It just feels that way and is very disheartening.
  5. Using Fiverr or PeoplePerHour takes time. I’ve banged on about this before. There doesn’t seem to be enough work out there for the vast numbers of talented people who are desperately wanting to do it. So sifting through them takes time and more time. It’s easy to spend a couple of days looking through portfolios and still get it wrong. For instance I probably spent 3 man weeks trying to get a cover for Abigail 1 without success. In the end Sally did it in under 3 days. But then she’d read the book.  People in Fiverr or PPH don’t have the time to do that, and in fact hardly have the time to read what you tell them either.
  6. Everyone needs a Sally. It’s a hard slog on your own, and you tend to get bogged down in things that don’t matter. For instance this blog. Took me a week or so to set up and for a while absorbed all my writing time. In fact, in length, it’s approaching a small novel, the total number of words I’ve splurged out. But who’s going to read it? The comments from the few who have range from ‘Oh, black and white’ to – more kindly – ‘it’s really a personal thing, isn’t it.’ (And I haven’t missed out a question mark here. It was said more as a statement than a query.) But having a Sally around, creating the cover and the chapter drawings and a FaceBook page and beefing up my Twitter account (say no more) is tremendous. Basically, if you’re going to go through pain, try and offload some.

Finally, Toby Zara has got a FaceBook page!

Well, after maybe two months of prevarication and dither, Toby Zara’s FB page is in existence, with an added page for Abigail.


Ha! Remember all my numerous words about how I was gong to do it and what images to show? All blown away by hurricane force Sally. She created it, put in some images and kindly suggested changing my mug shot to a cartoon she’d done of a generic type sitting at a typewriter, with a wobbly mug of coffee to one side. I objected to the typewriter, wanting Toby to at the very least exist sometime since typewriters were phased out in the last 20 odd years or so. But having spent a lot of time asking her how to ‘do’ social media, it is beholden on me to take her advice.

So, there y’go. Toby Zara now has a FaceBook page, and the world hasn’t suddenly ground to a halt.

You can visit it here!

And Abigail’s page here!

Sporadic diary entry 7

July 9 2015

Sadly, my web developer has dropped out of the picture. No explanation, nothing, just stopped communicating. Pity. Great pity. Anyway, Sally has said she’ll do it, using WIX so I’m more than happy with that. Not absolutely sure she knows any more about developing a website than I do, but it’s important to get something out there.

Also – God help me – I’ve been adding things to FaceBook. Little updates mainly as to what I’m doing. I should add a FB link to this blog, so’s people can go and have a squint, but I haven’t worked out that yet. Nor have I a clue about friends or how they work. Sally says just go around ‘liking’ things but it seems terribly promiscuous to me so I think I’ll give that a miss.

Also, weirdly, Google can’t seem to find the FB page either.

So in the middle of all this blather I’ve rather reverted back to what I know best. Writing. The first version of Abigail is finished and Sally is adding little chapter graphics. She downloaded a few test pages onto her kindle and and it looks really great.

We aim to publish next couple of weeks. Gulp. I’ll have to see if my Amazon self-publishing ID is still active, and maybe create a business account for all the takings.

Ha! I wish!