Carl Ashmore's Time Hunters series

As regular visitors to our Strictly blog will know, I'm currently working on a British thriller series. We featured author Carl Ashmore on this blog a while ago and when I heard that he'd finished writing the last of his Time Hunter books I invited him back for a chat. Here, he offer some insights into his experience.

1. How do you feel after completing The Time Hunters series?
It’s a bitter sweet feeling, that’s for sure. I started the series in 2005 and completed it almost ten years to the day I started. But it was always planned as a five book series, and I story-lined every book in detail before I began. It’s such a complex series with a great deal of backstory scattered across the 5 books, that it’s only when you read the last book everything really comes together.

There’s always the possibility I’ll write another Time Hunters book one day. I do have two stories in my head that would make really great books, but there’s another series I’d like to start before I even think of returning to the TH world.

2. Were there any adventures or ideas you were unable to fit in the series?
Although I did storyline in detail, I left room for digression. I found this essential to keep the process fresh. I’m one of those authors that dislikes writing, but loves having written, so whatever I can do to keep the process stimulating and enjoyable I’ll do.  

For instance, although I always intended to visit the American Old West in ‘The Time Hunters and the Lost City’, I had no intention of utilising the legend of Jacob Waltz and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.  It was only when I saw a documentary about it a year ago I knew it had to be in TH5.

3. Has your writing process changed since you first started on the series?
When I first started I really hadn’t a clue. The first draft of Book 1 was appalling on every level. Of course, I ‘d taken a year off work to write the book in the SW of France, so I’m sure the red wine dulled my ability to notice how bad it was. It was quite soul destroying to reach the end of that draft, recognise its huge faults, and then basically start from scratch again.

4. What's next for you?
I’ve literally just finished a screenplay for the first Time Hunters book, which I’ll use to try and attract the interest of film producers. I know a few people in the film/TV industry and they’ve loved the books and want to help me realise the dream of seeing it on a big or small screen. After that, I’ll start working on my next children’s series ‘Zak Fisher and the Angel Prophecy’.

5. What writing tips did you pick up along the way?
My best tip is related to editing. Personally, I like to read in the bath.  And when I’ve finished each chapter of a work in progress  I email my Kindle what I’ve written and read it as though I would a normal book.  It’s amazing how many typos you pick up reading via the Kindle format. For some reason it helps cure author blindness. Obviously, it’s not a replacement for a good editor, but it saves you the embarrassment of missing so many easily corrected typos.

6      Have you explored audio book versions?
Not really. I know I should. The ironic thing is I’m a media lecturer by day and work in a college with a radio station and recording studios. I could easily put one together with a little help from my friends. Maybe I should get on that.

Actually, that’s a great tip for new/old writers – look to the student body of your local colleges and universities. After all, today’s student is tomorrow’s media professional. Many colleges have excellent resources and there are some very talented students out there who are keen to make a few quid on the side. Some time ago an ex-student of mine, Richard Litherland, asked if he could make a Book Trailer for the first Time Hunters book. Of course I said yes. As a promotional tool it’s something different and works really well. He presented it to me a few days ago and here it is:

7. Where can we get hold of your books?
They're on Amazon. Here's a link to all my books:

Thanks for being invited to do the interview. Keep up the great work on the site.

The spell chequer is all ways wright, sew their!

The spell chequer is all ways write, sew their. Eye like to think eye am a good speller. Of coarse, we knead to bee good spellers, ewe sea. As authors wee set an eggs ample to others. Perhaps there are sum people who want to bee authors but our not that good at spelling. That's were the pea sea comes in handy. Some people don't give a shirt weather they spell write or knot, butt I do! Four me, it's very imp port tent. I learned too spell when I was at school at the age of for. My teach her said I was a grate speller and I even got won hundred per cent won year.

Eye halve won of those spelling chequers which is help full. Ewe can tell, I hope? Regard less of weather I halve a spell chequer or knot, I no I am a grate speller. Many of the grate righters did knot halve spelling chequers. George Oar Well could spell and he didn't halve a spelling chequer because he lived long a go. Charles Dick Ins new how to spell write. If ewe reed Grate Expectations ewe will bee amazed at how good he is. All sew, there's Emily Braun Tea who probably did knot halve a spell chequer, and Dug Glass Cope Land – he know doubt did though, as he is mode urn.

The knew write hers from the naughties like like Hill Lorry Mantle will halve spelling chequers witch will help them to spell. All there novels, and even Hilary's book Wool Fall where all free from mist aches. They will halve spelling chequers on their comp pewters and eye max.

Eye have been running my hole novel threw it and have realised it's perfect all the weigh threw. There are know wig lee green lines, know mist aches at all – soup her! This novel, numb bare too, which eye halve stored on my pea sea is grate. I'm hoping some won some were will want to publish it. 

Butt, the spelling chequer can be danger us two. We may think we spell a whirred write butt it is, in fact wrong. Sew, we must be care full when sending are books two agents. 

I can knot bare those rejections. I'm board with them. Those callus agents think they no it all. They chews only a few books each year two print - and just think off all that paper they waist, righting reject sean let hers.

Eye halve taken grate care with this add vice, sew if ewe sea any mist aches please let me no. All the words our spelt write – that I can ass sure ewe. Knot won whirred is out of plaice – can ewe bee leave that?

Let this be a less in to ewe, to poof read care fully!

The Curious Incident Of The Mustard Mayo

Morning all!
I've been away for a while, writing, working, trying to complete a novel in a year.
The blog has suffered - but all credit goes to Derek who has held the fort. And big congrats to Derek and may he enjoy the fruits of his labour!

I've been working on my next novel Acts - it follows a university lecturer and his wife who are battling mental health problems while concealing a shocking, dramatic secret which will change the way their small village sees them.

However, once I'd finished the novel, I had the occasion to pen a letter of complaint. Now I never complain! But had to on this occasion - and all credit to Marks and Spencer who are kindly sending me a gift token to make up for Mustardgate!

Here we are:

Dear Marks and Spencer

Let me begin by saying how much I love your food - doesn't everyone? The vegetarian kievs, the garlic bread, olives and the rye bread salad sandwiches are my favourites. You see, I've been doing this meat and fish free malarkey since 1992 and the selection of vegetarian food is very good indeed. Furthermore, the vegetarian and vegan labelling on the wine is especially commendable, and doesn't even come close to competitors, so I salute you M&S.

But let's get down to business.

Unfortunately I became embroiled in a mustardy receipt-gate on May 27, 2015 at the M&S in the Fairhill Shopping Centre in Ballymena, hey (local joke). It wasn't on the same scale as Watergate, but nevertheless it did leave a sour taste in my mouth. I'm not in the habit of complaining, in fact this is my first ever consumer complaint (I didn't so much as squeak when the now defunct Air 2000 forgot to feed all the vegetarians on my long haul flight back in 2001).

I decided I'd take advantage of a great three for two deal on the condiments last week. I selected a lemon mayo - wow, taste sensation, I kid you not. My second selection was the garlic mayonnaise. One can never have enough garlic in one's life. Not leaving the mister out, I selected an American mustard mayonnaise, not vegetarian friendly, but then, I didn't care - I wouldn't be eating it. He would. Or at least I hoped he would.

You can imagine my post-purchase delirium when I started to peruse the back of the container and realised to my horror that it was dated Best Before End May 2015 (the other two were quite rightly dated May 2016). Now I realise it's not a crime but the mister would have liked more than a few days to enjoy his condiment.

To be precise, the BBE gave the mister approximately 4.3 days to consume the contents as it neared the end of its life. Now, unless someone is going to devour the entire contents of the mayonnaise (which is not advisable as he or she will inevitably end up on that obese Jesse Pavelka show), this is clearly not a good buy. Did the shelf stacker try to conceal this one rogue bottle? I don't know.

And here's the unfortunate bit.

Normally I'm a diehard keeper of receipts in case of difficulty, but on this occasion the little fellow found its way into the bin. I thought 'what can possibly go wrong with three condiments, a prawn layered salad (not mine) and a chilli chicken salad (again, not mine)?' They aren't likely to break down or require repair in any way.

I'll tell you what went wrong - if the mister had been able to time travel back a few months (like the bloke in that book The Time Traveler's Wife) and enjoy the mustard mayonnaise, I would have been happy, but I was faced with 4.3 days of potentially feeding him a range of dishes from hot dog smothered in mayonnaise, chicken smothered in mayonnaise, veggie burgers smothered in mayonnaise to apple tart smothered in mayonnaise. Do you feel sick yet? Do you get that drowning feeling? Moreover do you get the point that this is Simply M&S Not On?

So the mustard languished in the refrigerator until I was in a position to request a swap. I did just that on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - seven days after I purchased it (due to work commitments).

I walked straight in and pulled the offending condiment from my handbag. I explained to the nice ladies that no one could possibly consume an entire squeezy of mustard in 4.3 days, otherwise one would become morbidly obese practically overnight.

To my utter horror, Mrs M&S peered at me over her glasses and said no - not without a receipt. But, I said: 'It's blatantly obvious it's an M&S product - it's not as if I'm trying to pass off Lidl own brand mustard!'

Maybe they thought I'd shoplifted it?

Surely, surely, surely, if i wanted to shoplift I'd choose a pallet laden with vegetarian kievs and the extra strong garlic bread along with a selection of fresh side salads. Or I'd make the extra effort, Great Train Robbery style, and drill down into the secret food storage basement and carry out a diamond style heist, procuring a huge selection of only the finest vegetarian canap├ęs, sandwiches and pizzas (I can take or leave dessert, thank you).  

I was broken. I did the rest of my shop and left crestfallen. I was bereft and inconsolable.

I'm now in the habit of walking round shops checking best before dates in case I get my fingers messy again. Yes, M&S, you've dented my faith in shopping.

All I want is a new mustard. As we spend around £100 per week in the store, I think you could at least furnish me with a new, preferably in-date squeezy mustard mayo.

Yes it's my M&S, not yours! I'm happy to enclose a mugshot, back and front of the perpetrator.

Yours in anticipation

Promotion: Line of Sight - FREE on Amazon from June 3rd - June 7th

It may not be the most inventive headline, but by gum it does the job! Yes, Joffe Books is making the sequel to Standpoint free to download for a limited period. The links are below, but you already knew that, right?

That's the thing about promotions. There's an honesty to them that some authors find a little...well, crass. It puts them in mind of street markets with someone shouting, "Oranges - a pound a bag!" The thing is, sometimes it works. I have a friend who had great success on Twitter by trying different approaches - questions, gags, review quotes, and statements, all followed by a trusty sales link. As she explained to me, some folks will be turned off by your marketing efforts, in which case they're not your target audience.

Gone are the days - if they ever existed - of authors working in their garrets, crafting their world-changing novel, and then passing it on to a publisher to launch it into the world on their behalf, leaving them free to remain in the garret. Whether you're self-published or traditionally published, as the author you will need to engage with your audience and the marketing of your book. 

I can remember working on a bookstall and calling out, "Get your books - they're hot, they're lovely!" We raised a few smiles and maybe made a few extra sales. More importantly, for me anyway, I felt as though I was doing something instead of waiting passively for people to pass by.

So here are a few quick tips for promotions:
- Have a plan and prepare your promotional content in advance.
- Start early to build up some interest. In the case of a free download, like Line of Sight (see what I did there...), it may not be possible to alert people in advance, so focus on other elements of the book to raise its profile.
- Call in favours if you can. You want to reach as wide an audience as possible, preferably one that has different reading communities.
- Try your luck. Experiement. Be bold. Risk.
- Respond. If people reply to you, don't leave them dangling.
- Make time. It will take more time than you think to handle promotions well.
- Consider spending some money. That's right - paid advertising might pay off for you. Do your research carefully to ensure you pick the best options for your needs.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be offered a book launch (and lunch!) with all the trimmings. That's especially true for ebooks. What you can do, however, is create an event online, such as a blog tour, or a Facebook party (that's not the kind where people trash a house), or even a webchat if you have an established fan base.

And now, without further ado, here are the links for Line of Sight (only free June 3rd to June 7th), along with the sales links for the first book in the series, Standpoint.