Entering the world of picture puzzle books

register to join launch group

I’ve reached, gulp, that age where most of my friends have children, This is actually great as three years ago my own little boy was born and my friends all seemed to have babies at the same time.

He’s now three and a little too energetic for me but we get along. He runs around me and when I catch him, he gets cuddles.

He has now started to like puzzles and I want to give him some practice with counting, reading as well as tracing letters and numbers. I have been buying him puzzle magazines and realised I could do the same thing but wouldn’t it be nice if there was a story running through it?
Minkie 1 reduced size front coverWhile playing with a drawing app on my tablet, I came up with a little blue monster called Minkie. My son loved him so much, I did some more designs and came up with some stories. I’m not sure if this is TMI, but he got so fond of dear Minkie that he refused to put his ‘night-time pants’ on unless we drew a Minkie Monster on them. He then danced around the bathroom singing, Minkie on my winkie, Minkie on my winkie!

Anyway enough of my son’s strange habits. He will get me back for this I’m sure several times before he grows up (I’m easily embarrassed). I have finished one of the stories, tested them and I’m starting the launch phase of the picture book. To this end, I am looking for some friends who will help me launch this book in style.

In exchange for a review on Amazon during launch week, I am giving away free PDF copies of the book. These can be instantly downloaded when you register and select Launch Friends from the register page. I am also giving away an Amazon gift card to one reviewer chosen at random and a few other goodies.goodreads cover minkie space coloring book

As an added bonus, anyone that registers at my site, (you don’t even need to be a Launch Friend) can download a free MInkie Monster coloring book based on Space Puzzles: Minkie Monster and the Birthday Surprise.

Go on what are you waiting for? If you have kids of up to 6, visit https://minkiemonster.com/ to get the freebies!

Home library: Storing books with no shelf space

book shelves in a home library

Question about a home library.

Answer based on the Quora question:

What is the best way to organize books if I don’t have a bookshelf?

If there is no shelf space available in your home librasry then sometimes the only way books can be stored is in a box hidden in a cupboard, the garage or even the attic. The question then is how do you find a book once is it is stowed away? Fear not Ceri Clark, former Librarian has the answer.

I used to be the library manager of the Audit Commission which had offices throughout England. There were some books in the office where I worked but there had to be about twenty at the most, the rest were held elsewhere. There was no storage space available at the offices so a former librarian had negotiated a contract to store the books in temperature controlled storage in some mines in Bath. We used the library catalogue in conjunction with some spreadsheets to keep track of the books. Whenever someone wanted a book we were emailed a request by the library catalogue and then we told the people at Restore which box the books were in.

How does this help me store my books in my home library?

I’m glad you asked. The same principles that ran the Audit Commission library can be used for your home library but on a much smaller scale. Say you have 3 boxes filled with fiction and non-fiction books, you can use Calibre (free software downloadable from the internet)  to catalogue your books.

Cataloguing your books is as simple as typing in the barcode into the software and it finding the book information on Amazon or some other database. All you would then need to do is label the boxes something as simple as Box 1, box 2 etc or something more detailed like Non-fiction books. Remember to write the Box number in the notes section in Calibre and voilà, when you search for the book on Calibre, it will tell you which box the book is currently stored in. If you have more than one storage space you can add this information too. For example Box 2, Attic or Box 3, Garage.

Another advantage of using Calibre over say a spreadsheet is that there is a cover flow so you can see at a glance whether the book is the right one. You can also search by tags which will put all the similar books together on one ‘shelf’ so if you are researching a subject and you have a number of books in it you can easily see what you need quickly as if you were browsing a real shelf in your hallway.

I have a chapter in A Simpler Guide to Calibre which goes into detail on how this can be done.


see question on quora

ceri's q and a

Q&A: Organising hard and paperbacks in the home.

qandasmallQuestion:  Home Design: What is the best way to organize books if I don’t have a bookshelf?

I don’t have money to invest in a bookshelf, but would like to better organize my books! I have perhaps 3 bookshelf worth of books, and would like to be able to browse them.

You could always box them up out of sight and use software called Calibre to catalogue your books. You could then browse them like a library catalogue but on your home computer. 

Calibre is very versatile and you can not only catalogue your ebooks but also your paperbacks, hardbacks, CDs, DVDs etc. Pretty much you can catalogue anything using the software.

I did something similar to this when I ran the English Audit Commission library. All our books were boxed up in temperature controlled underground caves near Bath. If anyone requested a book, I would look up the book’s location in the library catalogue. If it was in the boxes, stacked up in Bath, I would request that it be sent direct to the client. I had a very tidy library!

Calibre is very like a library catalogue. I love the ability to flick through the covers of my books or browse through genres, authors etc.

You can even use the isbns on the back of the books to get Calibre to automatically catalogue the books for you. All you need is a barcode reader, which an Android phone and probably an iPhone could do for you. You wouldn’t even need to buy a dedicated barcode reader.

A Simpler Guide to Calibre 0 catalogue ebooks and paperbacks
A Simpler Guide to Calibre has a chapter on cataloguing paperbacks and other physical media

While cataloguing, just type in the notes (or tags ) fields the box number and/or location where you put your paperbacks and you will easily find the book again in the future, just by browsing or searching your collection.
I have a chapter in A Simpler Guide to Calibre which goes into detail on how this can be done.

see question on quora
ceri's q and a

Q&A Is it allowed to use articles one finds on the internet and use them for ebooks that one later sell online?

ceri's q and aQuestion: Is it allowed to use articles one finds on the internet and use them for ebooks that one later sell online?

Q&A Why would anyone want to work as a librarian?

ceri's q and aQuestion: Why would anyone want to work as a librarian?

Email Management using Gmail gets a 5* Review

Readers’ Favorite Review

Email Management using Gmail by Ceri Clark shows ways to automate one’s email organization, specifically aimed at users of Gmail. It helps one in doing more productive work, rather than fighting the monster of email overload. It begins with a general discussion on the use of Gmail, a quick start guide where the facilities available and how to set them up are demonstrated. Use of labels, filters, groups and related particularities are treated at length with an overview of housekeeping of mails in general. Operational tips and how to appropriately use these facilities are provided with an index for easy reference or retrieval.

Email Management using Gmail by Ceri Clark changed my ideas about Gmail. Though having been a Gmail user for many years, I learned many of the capabilities of this email service that would have made my life easier from this book. (I wish I had reviewed this book earlier!) Not only that, this book contains a lot of information, but also presented in a reader friendly manner. Use of bulleted lists, charts and figures, a summary at the end of each chapter, screen captures accompanying descriptions of procedures and a good index greatly enhances the value of this as a reference. This is a great help to all those who use Gmail. With helpful hints and recommended techniques for utilizing the available functions, this book can enable readers to get more from this email service with less effort!

Rating: 5.0 stars. Reviewed By Roy T. James for Readers’ Favorite

Are you drowning in too many emails? Are you spending too much time everyday sorting and dealing with your inbox?

Email Management using Gmail is a practical guide for sorting your emails and getting things done.

Whether you are using Gmail or another email account, the principles in this book will help your to check and organize your emails so that you can spend just 10 minutes a day dealing with them.


The steps-by-step instructions use the free email accounts from Google and cover labels, filters and the great spam protection that Gmail provides.

Whatever your priorities, the email management strategies in this guide will help you to save time. This guide is all about getting it done, sorted and out of the way.

Check out the preview or click cn the buy button to find out more.


Email Management usign Gmail is available to buy on Amazon at: http://cericlark.com/Amazon/EmailManagementGmaile

Q&A What is the best font for email signatures? Why?

ceri's q and aThe question: What is the best font for email signatures? Why?

Email signatures need to be clear and easy to read. Readers need to get pertinent information quickly and easily. Sans serif fonts are best like Arial and Verdana because they are clear and also because most if not all people will have them on their computers.

I would like to add as someone with visual problems that the size should be ‘normal’ or at least 12pt. Most important of all, grey writing and lighter coloured text should not be used. Even people with ‘normal’ eyesight can find these difficult to read.

The amount of time I had to highlight, copy and paste a signature into another document just to read it because someone thought it looked nice to use tiny, light-grey writing on the white background, well, let’s just say i could have been doing something much more useful!

If you want people to be able to read and use your signature, keep it simple, clear and with good contrast. Dark colours against a light background or light colours against a dark background.

This question was originally posted and answered on Quora. Only my answer is reproduced and may be slightly amended to make sense as a stand alone answer. If you would like to read other answers, please click on the link below.

see question on quora

ceri's q and a


Accidental Immortal Update

Accidental Immortal Cover
Accidental Immortal Cover
Accidental Immortal Cover

Accidental Immortal was my entry for the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November last year. For those unfamiliar with the event, writers have to create a first draft of a book during November of no less than 50,000 words.

It wasn’t easy but my ‘vomit’ draft was completed in time. This year has seen me trying to complete the novel (read re-write it) to make it publishable. Unfortunately for me this is a slow process because I have a few Simpler Guides on the go and a healthy, happy toddler to chase.

From the original 50,000 words, the novel has grown to 65,000 and I’ve reached chapter twelve out of 37. The finished novel could be around 90,000-100,000 words. This is the biggest project I have undertaken and one that I am most proud of.

The premise is of an ancient Earth civilization that finds a way to colonize another world. Lynsey Walker is a twenty-something from London. Still at university she has taken a break after an illness. While travelling home she finds herself transported to an alien planet. This world has changed drastically over the centuries like our own. People, fashions, religions have all developed in unexpected ways. How will she survive, will she get home and will she find love?

Darkness Rising: the fifth cover from the awesome epic fantasy series

Ross Kitson Five Darkness RisingI don’t make a lot of covers for other people, I tend to do just my own but there are sometimes books so good that I can’t resist helping to make those books come alive.

I’ve made five book covers for the Darkness Rising Series, you can see them above but my favourite by far at the moment is the last one – Broken. The brooding background matched by the character (which Ross picked), tickled my imagination and I just had to do it. I used the same fonts and design as the others to make the new book ‘gel’ with the others. I hope you agree, Ross has an eye for what works, I just put it together.

You can find all books written by Ross at Amazon and all good bookstores but if you want to go directly to Amazon, click the blatant advert for one of my favourite authors below:

Why students should use Calibre to organize their ebooks, papers and other documents: A Simpler Guide to Calibre – the perfect gift for students

students calibreIt is not so long ago that I don’t remember what it was like as a student. Ahhh the life, drinking to the early hours while philosophizing about life, the universe and everything. Rocking up to the occasional lecture or watching daytime TV with a tin of baked beans in one hand and a spoon in the other. Oh wait, that wasn’t me, I was the goody-two-shoes who turned up at EVERY lecture, did her homework, went to the library and looked jealously on at the students nursing hangovers in the student bar who could get away with going in one day of the week!

This article is for the students who want to get the most out of their degrees by organizing how they keep track of their lecturer’s notes, articles they research from the library and ebooks and books that they need for work and leisure.

How can the free Calibre software help students?

Converting lecturer’s notes

If you are a student you know the problem, you are given or can download your lecturer’s notes but wait, they are in icky PDF file format or even as a Microsoft Word file. In the old days you would have had to print them out, read them on your computer or panned from left to write on your ereader (if it could take it). Well no more. Calibre will convert the ebook to almost any format you could desire. Have a Kindle Paperwhite, fire or app? Maybe you have a Nook or some other device that will only take ePUBs like Kobo? Calibre can convert from PDF to Mobi or PDF to ePUB easily. There maybe some formatting issues but the document will be a lot easier to read and will take up a lot less space in your book bag than a file full of notes!

Converting articles from the library

Most university/college libraries will have access to databases where you can download articles for free to help with your work. These can be from EBSCO or Proquest but they will usually be in the PDF format. Again Calibre will convert PDF to MOBI or ePUB at a click of a button.

Finding your notes, articles and books

Another way Calibre can help is in finding your notes, articles and books that you have found on your course. If you catalog (similar to how a librarian does but maybe not as thoroughly!) your ebooks, books, notes and articles then you will be able to browse by category. This could be by module or subject (you would put these in the tags section of a book’s information) or search the database to instantly find to what you already have access.

If the items are paper books or maybe DVDs then you will have put where you can find them or where you put them. If what you are looking for is an ebook, it is possible to read directly from Calibre or send them to your device.


Maybe your course requires you to keep abreast of current affairs? Why not use Calibre to download news from the top free news sites for your academic area and convert them to an ebook and get them sent directly to your Kindle?

There are several ways Calibre can help from being an ebook converter and organizer, to a news aggregator. However you use it, it will help you save time when you are writing that all important essay or dissertation – the night before it’s due…

Please stay tuned for other ways to get the most out of Calibre.

Thanks for dropping by.

Now for the obligatory mention of my relevant book:

Final - CALIBRE EBOOKA Simpler Guide to Calibre: How to organize, edit and convert your eBooks using free software for readers, writers, students and researchers for any eReader.

Buy from Amazon:

eBook | Paperback

Top 10 of the greatest books to read before you die – and they are free…

people reading on booksI’ve got my librarian’s hat on for this post. To celebrate the publication of my A Simpler Guide to Finding Free eBooks, I decided at 1 in the morning to write a post about the top 10 books to read before you die that are available for free. Little did I know it would take hours to compile and format! Still, the list below are novels you should at least take a look at with links to Amazon and the Gutenberg Project. While you can only get Kindle versions from Amazon, you will be able to download other types of e-books from the Gutenberg Project and of course they are free.

Here are my top ten picks:

1. Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

One of the first and best romance novels of all time. Set in the 19th century by a writer from the 19th century, this is a read you won’t want to miss.

Get it now as:


2. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Rags to riches and unrequited love, this book has it all from the writer of Oliver Twist.



3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Another classic romance, boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, split up, then get together again but this is one of the first novels and one of the best (or it wouldn’t be in this list!) Worth a look.


4. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

I read this story when I was about ten years old. This completely freaked me out as a child and so I recommend it for the next generation! Dorian Gray is a handsome man who sells his soul for eternal youth. He doesn’t lead a good life and there are consequences…


5. The Mill on the Floss – George Elliot

This is a fast paced love story from the Victorian era. This is a tragedy so have a box of tissues ready.


6. Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

Ah, Mr Darcy. Who hasn’t heard of the hero of this romance? This is the original of the  often repeated tale of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.



7. The Fall of the House of Usher & other stories – Edgar Allen Poe

An old crumbling, evil house, a sick relative, a death, this is a gothic horror which builds on previous horrors to a new level. The links below take you to the Works of Edgar Allan Poe, volume 2 but this is the book you are looking for.



8. Vanity Fair – William Thackeray

Vanity fair is the opposite to the Brontës, as in don’t expect the straight happy ending. It is a more complex read but well worth it.


9. Moby Dick – Hermann Melville

The hunt for Moby Dick has fascinated readers for generations. Will it captivate you?


10. Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

The last entry in this blog post is a mystery. This is one of the first detective novels ever written and if you like the Mystery genre you’ll want to see how it all began. Even if you don’t normally like Victorian literature you might be pleasantly surprised with this one.


Carlie Cullen’s Heartsearch Blog Tour – Book One: Lost

It is my great pleasure to be part of Carlie Cullen’s blog tour. The first part of a paranormal romance trilogy, this debut novel will blow you away.

Giveaways to celebrate the launch will run from 8-31 October. It’s still not too late to enter! For further details, please visit http://carliemacullen.com

Excerpt of Heart Search

“Dayna, on the first charge, how do you plead?”

Dayna hesitated. She was tempted to plead ‘not guilty’, but it was obvious they knew everything so what was the point? She raised her eyes and looked directly at Sophia.

“Guilty,” she replied quietly but firmly, no remorse in her voice. Sophia made a note on a small pad lying in her lap. She looked at Dayna once again and soberly asked, “On the second charge, how do you plead?”

Dayna paused much longer. She hadn’t meant to create another vampire – it had been a complete accident so why should she plead ‘guilty’ to this charge?

“Not guilty,” she responded loudly.

Again, Sophia wrote it down, this time a frown marred her beautiful face. Plainly she was not happy at Dayna’s ‘not guilty’ response, and she wasn’t the only one. Emile, acting as prosecutor, took charge of the next part of the proceedings.

“Dayna, you have pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge of illegally creating an immortal, despite the evidence against you. Will you please explain your reasoning?”

Dayna looked Emile straight in the eyes, a little of her customary arrogance unwittingly resurfacing.

“I am not an expert when it comes to the law, but I believe the charge hints at some premeditation on my part. This is not the case. I can honestly say it was a complete accident, a lapse of concentration. I didn’t mean to do it. Was I careless – absolutely, but am I guilty – no, I don’t believe I am.” Whilst her diction was formal, Dayna’s tone was not as respectful as it should have been and as a result, did nothing to help her case. Emile, not impressed by her attitude, scowled at her. He wasn’t the only one – every one of the Commissioners faces was thunderous.

“Be that as it may, do you at least acknowledge your actions have endangered your coven, and all immortals?”  The timbre of Emile’s voice changed to one of absolute authority.

“Not really,” Dayna replied flippantly, “I don’t see how it could endanger anyone but me and I can take care of myself.”

About the Author

Carlie M A Cullen was born in London. She grew up in Hertfordshire where she first discovered her love of books and writing. She has been an administrator and marketer all her working life and is also a professional teacher of Ballroom and Latin American dancing.

Carlie has always written in some form or another, but Heart Search: Lost is her first novel. This is being launched 8th October 2012 through Myrddin Publishing Group and work has started on book two: Heart Search: Found. She writes mainly in the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genres for YA, New Adult and Adult.

Carlie is also a professional editor.

Carlie also holds the reins of a writing group called Writebulb. Their first anthology was published September 2012.

Carlie currently lives in Essex, UK with her daughter.

Alison DeLuca’s Crown Phoenix Series Blog Tour – The Lamplighter’s Special

This is the third and final stop on our blog tour of Alison DeLuca’s fabulous Crown Phoenix Series. There are three books in the series, all available on Kindle and Nook.

The Lamplighter’s Special

The Manor where Squire Bisselthwaite lived was in the center of Grimstead Compound. The thirteen farms that made up the rest of the Compound fanned out from the large, old house. Most of the fields touched the edge of the Manor grounds at their narrowest points, although all the farms were separated from the Bisselthwaite property by a dark, crumbling wall.

As Lizzie and her family rode through the huge, rusted iron gates set into the stones, she glanced up at the rooftops of the Manor. Her hat slipped down her neck, and she clapped one hand to hold it on as she squinted up at the dark front of the house.

There was a rather grand entrance, but of course the carriage took the family to the back of the house to the kitchen gardens. As the cart jostled over the pebbly drive, Ninna murmured in Lizzie’s ear, “Did you see that?” She pointed up to one of the windows on the third or fourth floor.

“What?” Lizzie squinted again. It was all a gray blur to her.

“Oh, nothing. Just thought I saw a face in one of the windows upstairs.”


Books in the Crown Phoenix series:

  1. The Night Watchman Express
  2. Devil’s Kitchen
  3. The Lamplighter’s Special


Abput Alison DeLuca

Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books. She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

You can find Alison here:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/alison.deluca.author

OR http://on.fb.me/TNWEfb

Twitter – http://twitter.com/ – !/AlisonDeLuca

Google + http://bit.ly/ADGoogle

Author Central: http://amzn.to/ADeLucaAuthorCentral

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/alisondeluca/


Alison DeLuca’s Crown Phoenix Series Blog Tour – Devil’s Kitchen

Alison DeLuca's Devil's Kitchen Cover

This is the second stop on our blog tour of Alison DeLuca’s fabulous Crown Phoenix Series. There are three books in the series, all available on Kindle and Nook.

Devil’s Kitchen

Alison DeLuca's Devil's Kitchen Cover

The Headmistress entered the cell and looked down at her. It seemed as though the woman never stood in full light. From that angle, her light eyes gleamed like ice in the center of two black puddles.

“Stand up when I address you,” she said after a long moment.

Miriam stood and looked up at the woman. “Why am I here?” she asked. “When can I go home?”

There was a pause, and the Headmistress responded, “You will not talk to me unless I ask you a direct question.”

Miriam felt a rush of anger. Once, at a dinner party that her father had given, she had been allowed to squirt some soda water from a large siphon into a glass and taste it. Some had gone up her nose in her haste to drink the unexpected treat, and the prickling, stinging sensation in her nostrils was just like the fury that she felt now.

“You will work for the factory here,” the Headmistress said. “Mrs. Siddons will show you your duties tomorrow. You will start at the very bottom of the task list and, if you do as you are bid, you might possibly work your way up to a better position. Do you understand?”

Miriam gritted her teeth. She’d be damned before she gave this woman the satisfaction of an answer.

Books in the Crown Phoenix series:

  1. The Night Watchman Express
  2. Devil’s Kitchen
  3. The Lamplighter’s Special


Abput Alison DeLuca

Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books. She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

You can find Alison here:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/alison.deluca.author

OR http://on.fb.me/TNWEfb

Twitter – http://twitter.com/ – !/AlisonDeLuca

Google + http://bit.ly/ADGoogle

Author Central: http://amzn.to/ADeLucaAuthorCentral

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/alisondeluca/


Alison DeLuca’s Crown Phoenix Series Blog Tour – The Night Watchman Express

Alison DeLuca’s fabulous Crown Phoenix Series books have now launched with a bang. If you haven’t heard about them yet, where have you been? There are three books in the series, all available on Kindle and Nook.

Set in a Steampunk world , they are an original and riveting read. To get your appetite running I will be posting an excerpt for one book over the next few days.

The Night Watchman Express:

The  Night Watchman Express cover

“Oh, come on,” he said, pushing past the heavy desk and large chair to where she stood. “What have you got there, behind your back? I won’t tell on you; I just want to see what you’ve got.” Miriam twisted away from him, but Simon managed to get an arm around her and grab the paper.

“Ha ha!” he said, releasing her and holding the paper above his head. “Success!” He put a hand out and grabbed her arm.  “No, hold on, don’t leave; I just want to see…”

His voice died out as he stared at the letter. For an instant, he was frozen in disbelief. Then he looked up at her, mouth hanging open. “What on earth?”

“Well, don’t think that I had anything to do with it!” Miriam cried out.

“Yes, but-”

At that moment, they heard Theodosia’s voice at the front door, demanding that a servant come to take her parcels. Simon held the paper out to Miriam, and she thrust it back it him as if it were a live snake. He looked around the study and pushed it under the corner of the blotter. They retreated from the desk, escaped from the room and, as if with mute accord, ran for the back door as quickly as they could.

Outside, Simon took a deep breath and blew it out. He laughed a bit, feeling a certain exultation at avoiding his mother.

Miriam, leaning against the house and feeling her own heart thud in her chest, laughed as well. The next moment she opened her eyes and realized where she was. She was standing there with Simon, alone.

“Um, just realized. I must be off. ’Bye,” she announced hastily.

Simon frowned and reached out a hand to grab her arm again, but she slipped away and disappeared back into the house. He dropped his hand and started after her.

Neil came up behind him and grabbed his collar. “Hey, you abandoned me! Where’ve you been?” he demanded. “Did you find the string we needed?”

“What?” Simon turned to him and blinked.

“What’s the matter with you? You look like you just saw Old Harry himself. Where’s that string, idiot?”

Simon appeared to recall where he was. “String, right. String.” He squared his shoulders and marched away. Neil was left behind, scratching his head.

 Abput Alison DeLuca

Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

You can find Alison here:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/alison.deluca.author

OR http://on.fb.me/TNWEfb

Twitter – http://twitter.com/ – !/AlisonDeLuca

Google + http://bit.ly/ADGoogle

Author Central: http://amzn.to/ADeLucaAuthorCentral

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/alisondeluca/


Designing the Myrddin Publishing website

After leaving my previous publisher, I joined a group of authors who decided to group together to create our own ‘true’ cooperative.
We were all very excited to do this. We would all be Indie authors but have the support and combined experience of the group. We all have talents we could share and with the enhanced marketing and bulk buying power of several people we thought we could try something different.

The beauty of the cooperative was that any author could stay in the group even if they were traditionally published or even if we started our own companies. For example I created my own label (Lycan Books) which is in association with the Myrddin Publishing Group.

After getting together with some of my fellow authors online, I went ahead and started on the website (http://www.myrddinpublishing.com/). I decided to go with WordPress because of the flexibility and ease of use.

The website is a showcase of all our best work and is growing – even though we are not accepting new authors. Readers can browse author bios and all our books in one place.

For those interested in the nitty-gritty, I used the Suffusion theme which has sliders incorporated in the theme.
An app I found really useful was the Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer plugin which allowed us to put any link on the site but any visitor would be sent to a customised link based on the country they are visiting from. This along with a YouTube plugin really makes the website ‘pop’.

I really hope you enjoy browsing the site as much as I enjoyed making it.

So you want to be a Librarian?

Before you take on a job as a librarian, first find out if it is what you really want to do.

The majority of jobs require a degree in librarianship and some demand a post-graduate degree in the subject. Sometimes the pay is really good, but at other times not so good. I would say you have to look at each job on its merits. For an example of wages, my job as a school librarian (in 2008) before it was pro-rata’d was around £26,000, I know the public sector school librarian’s pay was around £17,000 – and they are the highly paid ones! As a Library Manager at the Audit Commission I make just shy of £27,000 pro rata’d, if I worked in a university the same job would net me around £35,000 in my ‘catchment area’.

Also look at the job spec.. In the school, there were parts I hated but there were others I really loved as well. Notably I loved the actual librarian side stuff but schools expect more. For example I looked after 40-60 school children on my own for two hours each evening. Not really clever considering I am partially sighted but that is what the school wanted – a part time librarian who doesn’t mind baby sitting.  School Librarians do not have the same authority as a school teacher for example and the children for the most part know it. It is a constant battle of wits with certain segments of the school population with the minimum of help from the Academic staff. But, and that is an extremely big but, working with children is worth it. They brighten your day and make you enjoy life without trying.

Things to love about being a Librarian:
Buying new books – ooh they smell gooood
Cataloguing- mindless but relaxing
The interaction with the good kids – they can be really funny!
Interaction with people.
Having control of your department, from spending to how the library looks.
Getting to read kiddie books
The HOLIDAYS (only working in a school).

Things to hate about being a Librarian:
Interaction with the bad kids
Having to shout at/tell off kids

The job is firmly weighted in the advantages side of the debate. Only you can say if it would appeal to you but I love being a Librarian and I can’t think of a better job – except a writer :-).

THE Carnegie Event

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Carnegie Medal time has arrived again. While this does enable me to have two days out of the library it also means a small amount of stress organising the trip.

I should explain what we do to shadow the Carnegie Awards here. Well as you know there are seven books on the shortlist this year. We have to select seven pupils – one for each book and take them over to a school where each kid designs (with 12 other kids from other schools) a play based on the books. The next day they perform it at a local theatre with authors and dignitaries judging.

This year is easier and yet harder at the same time for me. The event cincidentally occurs in Activities week in our school so most of the children are on other school trips abroad. The ones that stay behind have to help with ecoschools and from what I gather it basically means cleaning the school up!

Anyway so I have a finite group to choose from (some I won’t touch with a barge pole but some are great) Unfortunately I may have to choose some of the first group to go with me. Woe is me.

The budget is also a bit of a problem at the moment. It’s at the end of the year and the accounts department get a bit ancy about spending money (even though I have enough in my budget!

The other librarians I’m told usually buy three books of each of the shortlisted titles. They then get the children to write reviews on each one and choose the best. I can’t afford to do this so I’ve got them telling me their first, second and third choice and pulling their names out of a hat so I only have to buy one of each.

Then it’s actually getting them to want to go. A couple were like “yeah yeah, I really want to go. Can I go? please, please, I’ll be good!” Others were like “um, I’ll have to tink about it, what else is going on that week?”

Interestingly enough when I mention that the alternative is to pick up litter in the school, they become strangely interested…

Just another school book fair

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

From World Book Day I have ben presiding over our second book fair since joining my school. I got to tell you – its no picnic.

First day we did it (6 March) was a preview day so we just had to worry about setting up but even that day had its problems. As you know from reading this blog, the daily baby-sitting session known as prep is in the library. So try to imagine keeping 45 kids quiet with all those shiny new books just begging to be picked up and oohed and aahed over. Needless to say I failed.

Day two, we decided to make break for reservatios only as it is only for fifteen minutes. We’re librarians not mathematicians – you try working out the cost of several books, with a voucher nad answering questions while making sure they don’t destroy any more books than you can prevent! If you are wondering we got that down to one. They took out toy bits from one book and put the on a different shelf. Aargh.

Lunchtime arrives, hordes of kids descend on us, all asking for their reservaions, to buy other books. oh and “Miss, I don’t want that book now, can I have this one.” Yeah if you can do the maths for me, Of course I don’t say that, I just smile sweetly and say “yes”, getting out the calculator.

So there we were, about ten kids in my queue and ten kids in my assistant’s. …and the book fair people call. I mean they were calling a library in a school. Is calling at lunchtime a really sensible thing to do to get on the librarian’s good side? hmm. Finally get her off the line with non-committal answers and get back to to the hordes. Ten minutes later, 2 o’clcck and bliss. We’ve stil got two more days of this…


Librarians writing books…

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Apparently from various forums I have been reading, getting feedback from children from a book you are writing is pointless but still, I work in a school and I know quite a few good readers who like fantasy books, the genre I wrote my story in. …so I took the opportunity.

I gave the story to a couple of 11-12 year olds (year 7), the funny thing is, I never tend to see these two girls – only during Prep. I thought If I gave it to these ones then they wouldn’t see me all the time and feel pressurised into telling me what they think.

With this in mind I stayed away from the girls purposely. Except that one of the girls nagged me incessantly if she could finish it during prep on my computer. When she said she stayed up to four hours to read the book the night before, I felt so flattered I let her.

Not so good for me though as that was MY computer and I couldn’t do any work. On the other hand I justified to myself, I never get any work done during Prep anyway – most of the time is spent patrolling and yelling at people to be quiet.

So that was before half-term. I got some lovely feedback from her. I tried to ask her if the ending was too sudden or did she want more description but no she loved it all – You got to love her.

I didn’t see the other one until the end of last week – although I gave her the book at the same time. the great thing was I didn’t go up to her – she came bounding up to me saying she liked it.

Wonderful, I now just need to actually finish it. The story is finished but It needs editing. The problem is I keep getting nagged by the first girl when I am going to right the sequel… Aargh there is not enough hours in the day…