A post mainly about writing

I began this blog expecting to use it mainly about writing.  After all, that was my new venture back in 2010 when the first of the four crime novels came out.  Then, of course, the unexpected happened and we upped sticks and headed over the sea to land in Ireland.  After the dust settled I found myself writing about writing that rather than actually writing.  In fact, for the last few years that’s been mainly the writing I’ve been doing. 

There are a number of reasons for this.  I think the whole Ireland adventure makes a decent story (and it seems you agree with me).  It keeps me working, at least a little.  The main reason why there have been no new books however comes down to the Impress debacle, long brewing but still a hammer blow when it landed.  My fifth Alex Hastings novel, “A Long Shadow”, was accepted for publication three years ago.  You may have noticed nothing happened.  Then supplies of the first four began to dry up and there was no communication from the new owners of Impress.  And then, suddenly, Impress went into administration.

Happy days – soon to be available again.

This was very frightening.  I, along with a number of others, was in danger of losing rights and copyright to my books – eleven years work ripped away.  A lot of time and energy was poured into fighting for the books and I have the rights back now but it certainly knocked my confidence in the publishing industry.  Agents, in my experience, are not worth bothering with for all sorts of reasons I can’t articulate without risking a libel case.  Publishers take control of everything – editing, printing, distribution, publicity – unless they don’t do it.  Or don’t do it properly.  Then books are published but just disappear in the huge sea of new titles.  It’s enough to make you want to give up.  And I was very close to that a couple of months ago.

Then Jacqui encouraged me to revisit a project I had been working on with my cousin, Jem Cooney.  I was wary of writing in a different genre but with Jem’s name on the book it took some of the pressure away.  We both have Tibetan Spaniels and both had a range of stories about breeding, showing and training them.  Together we wove this into a novel called “Puppy Brain” and it seemed a possible way back into writing again.

“Puppy Brain – A real underdog story”.

Wanting to keep more control over the development of this book I sought out a highly respected self-publishing firm, Grosvenor House.  They have been excellent – professional, quick and responsive.  I had my own publishing administrator, the excellent Melanie Bartle, and had all the help and support I needed.  Before this I viewed my job as mainly about writing but now I have some experience in cover layout, different synopses, metadata and a whole lot more.  It has been a rich educational experience and now – “Puppy Brain” will be published on November 24th!

Starting with the adoption of Lucy, a young Tibetan Spaniel, it follows the efforts of Liv and Petra to honour a promise.  They agreed to have one litter of puppies and try to show them, although neither had ever done this before.  They are told the dogs are not good enough and fit “only for pets”. When they try a few local shows meet fierce resistance from some people.  Determined to do their best they push on, making friends – and more enemies – as they go.

For those wary of cute fluffy dog books, this is NOT one of those.  Nor, for those of you who are anxious and soft hearted, is it about harm to any animal.  It is the humans who fight the battles in this book.  Anyone who has any knowledge of the dog world will know it can be warm, friendly and supportive.  It is also a real shark pool.  Ever wondered what it is like to actually show a dog?  Or – whisper it – try to qualify to show them at Crufts?  This story is for you.  Just like to support the underdog?  This is for you too.   

You can pre-order“Puppy Brain” on Amazon now and an e-book will be out in a couple of weeks.  You can also order from your local bookshop, or online in the next few days from most big retailers. These including Waterstones, Blackwell and the Book Depository.  I will have some first editions and am happy to sign and send a personal copy, though this will entail postage from Ireland. 

The details for the book are:

“Puppy Brain – A real underdog story”  by Jem Cooney and Jennie Finch.  The ISBN for the paperback is 978-1803812502.   

Amazon.com (USA) is also beginning to list the title and it will be available to order soon.  Other outlets include Barnes and Noble, Baker and Taylor and Chapters/Indigo. If anyone from Australia or further afield wants a copy please contact me and I will find your local supplier.

And may I ask a small favour?  If you like it, wherever you get it from, could you go to Amazon and leave a rating and mini review?  It can be just a sentence but it makes a huge difference, particularly to the computer algorithms.  These dictate whether the book will appear on search engines, be stocked and reordered or even be available at all.

It’s the beginning of a new series I hope.  I think Jem is happy just to see his name on a “real” book. I’ve got more stories bubbling away now so will probably pick it up and run with it for a while.  But never fear, Alex Hastings fans.  I have plans to publish “A Long Shadow”, hopefully next year and will be reissuing the first four books too.  It’s been a slightly wobbly journey but I feel I’m back on the right path again.

So, there we are.  A post mainly about writing for a change.  Just as well really – the weather is vile at the moment!

Keep warm and thank you for reading.