Archive for the ‘Erastes’ Category

Public Lending Right

‘PLR’s aim is to provide an excellent service to all our stakeholders making annual payments to writers and other creators whose works are freely available in libraries. We will achieve this by maintaining a highly skilled team and making efficient use of all our resources.’

Basically, if your books (or anything else) are in libraries in the UK then you are eligible to a ‘royalty’ for each time it is loaned out.

Ho ho! I thought – even if Standish is the only book that is in any British libraries, and only in one library that I know of (Chesterfield, because a friend demanded they order it) – this sounds like a good idea!  Even if it’s only a little amont extra, ‘every little helps’ as a famous supermarket slogan says these days (ignoring the fact that the joke it came from was very rude.)

So I logged in and – me being me – did it all completely wrong. See elsewhere for my posts of how NOT to apply for your ITIN for example. The site is ease itself, and very user-friendly. You have to give your personal details before you can register any of your books – the trouble IS is that before the final submit your details page (although it does, very helpfully, give you a percentage of the process so you don’t do exactly what I did) it gets you to print out your application form.  And here’s where I got sidetracked and didn’t progress to the end. D’oh!

So don’t do that.

The reason you have to print out the application form is to get someone you know (not a relative) to simply say that you are you – you post it off and Bob’s your mother’s slightly dubious brother your account will be activated within a few days.

(What I had to do, for those of you who cock up as regularly as I do, was I had to enter all my details again but not print off the form once more. They were incredibly helpful both by email, phone and letter. They obviously have had idiots pass their way before.)

Anyway, my account was authorised yesterday and I logged on and registered all my books. It was a real thrill to just input the ISBNs and find that the computer already knew the names and publishers!  One thing to be aware of, you must be honest about your Lending Right percentage, don’t go putting “100 percent” if you are in a 3-author anthology!

Other countries, Ireland, Canada and many others have a similar system apparently, and I’ll checking them out – and no doubt getting all the forms wrong there too!


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Change of Plans

Ok – made some kind of decision about my next novel, “Hangingstone Hill.”

I had originally planned it to be set in Dartmoor but I’ve changed my mind. This, for a start, will make the name redundant as that’s a place name of a tor in the Dartmoor area.

It seems silly to me to live in one of the most unusual places in the UK and then set a Big Gothic Novel hundreds of miles away which makes it harder to research. So it’s going to be set in the Norfolk Broads, instead – which will be perfect for isolation, as no-one will be able to leave the house without a boat. Granted I’ll need to do a lot of research on the Broads, but that will be easier to do here. Local libraries are stuffed with books on the Broads, whereas they might not have the depth of knowledge of Dartmoor.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to the research, I always enjoy researching about people more than I like researching the history of a place, but I usually like it better when I’m doing it, finding out loads of things I didn’t know before.

First step – getting maps of the area. At least that won’t be difficult!  Then persuading Dad to come out on a Day Boat with me to research a good area to set my manor house. The more remote the better.trinity-broads

What about you? Have you set a story a stupidly long way away? Or have you used a local locale?

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ITIN–How NOT to do it


For the correct and painless way of obtaining your Individual Tax Identification Number – please see THIS POST by Alex Beecroft.  To see exactly the way NOT to do it, read on.

March 2008.  Your publisher supplies the W7 to fill in. The form looks relatively straightforward but has about 12 pages of “goobledegook” attached to it explaining how to fill it in.

April 2008. Ignore the gobbledegook entirely. We are English! We didn’t rule an Empire reading gobbledegook!  These Colonials will realise this! Fill in the form, blithely, missing out anything you don’t understand. Go to a notary, allow yourself to be bullied–get a certified copy of your passport costing £20. Stuff in envelope and send it off to Texas.

May 2008. Frown when you get a letter from Texas telling you you’ve failed miserably and if you need any help with the form you should contact the American Embassy.

May 2008. Send off an email to the American Embassy.

May 2008. Receive extremely helpful email from chap at Embassy. Seems he’s happy to help! Good times!

June-October. Despite this – do nothing.

October 2008. Finally get arse off chair, and work out what an “Apostille” is. Ignore fact entirely that Nice Chap from Embassy has suggested you post passport directly to him and it will cost you nothing other than postage. Instead – go to Notary, get Apostille and get charged over £100.

October 2008. Receive authorised apostille back, send form off to Embassy.

October 2008. Recieve form back rejected.  You didn’t fill it out properly again and you didn’t send a copy of your contract and a letter from the publisher. Something that refers to royalites. Fussy Americans!

November 2008. Spend money on photocopying copying your entire contract and letters from publisher. Send off to Embassy with form filled in as Nice Chap has shown you how by now.

November 2008. Receive email from Nice Chap saying that he doens’t know if the letter you’ve provided will be sufficient as it doesn’t refer to royalties. Reply saying that the contract does. Nice Chap says he “hopes that will do.”  Hope this too.

June-December. Suffer inordinate amount of stress and cause same as your publisher bombards you with emails as to whether you’ve recevied the number yet.

December. Start to panic.

December 10th. Receive ITIN.

The moral of this tale?  Do I need to spell it out?

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Shown on Channel Four this week, I sat down to watch “The Devil’s Whore” with a great deal of interest. My next novel is about the English Civil War and having invested so much research into it, I was curious to see how Channel Four dealt with it. Was it going to be something along the lines of “The Tudors” with bed-hopping and implausible history, or was it actually going to try to portray the English Civil War, a period that is rarely wheeled out on television.

Well, the jury is still out, really – part one was rather breathtakingly speedy. We started in “Whitehall 1638” where our “heroine” Angelica Fanshawe is about to be bedded by her new husband, cousin and childhood best friend) Harry Fanshawe.  Then, with a brief glimpse of the King’s brutality to those who oppose him, we are whisked away to Edgehill, the first battle of the war (which actually took place four years later…) and there’s a great deal of building of sexual tension between the mercenary Edward Sexby (no, not made up!) and Angelica Fanshawe, and leading us along to show us why Angelica goes bad.

Without spoiling it more than I have, all I can say is that it was very enjoyable, although I hope the pace slows down a little – and the camera-work in particular needs a standing ovation. Like many Channel Four series and films, it’s a masterpiece of light and posing – almost every shot is an oil painting. (as you can see by the header alone) The clothes are spectacular, and if you are a period clothes whore like me, you’ll enjoy them particularly.

The battle scenes tried their best, bless ’em – but they couldn’t possibly give the feel of the slaughter without a film-style budget. The canon smoke was the wrong colour for a start, and they could have done a little better if they’d showed what went wrong at Edgehill and why – it would have explained a lot more to people who didn’t know the history. The aftermath of the battle was nicely done though, dead bodies everywhere, which is how it would have been.

Anyway – if you didn’t see it, make an effort to catch it, or look out for the DVD when it comes out, as it looks like it’s shaping up to be something rather special.

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Lost In Austen

Last night I watched Lost in Austen, which I enjoyed, although it surprised me that I did. It’s fairly obviously a clever twist on the Life on Mars idea, someone thrown into an environment that they weren’t expecting.

Basically if you didn’t see it (and there’s bound to be a repeat, or you can catch up on some online player) it’s about a girl who is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice: she reads the book almost constantly and knows it intimately, almost line for line.

It was pretty good – ITV definitely seem to be stealing the crown when it comes to historical drama – the characters from P&P were pretty close to my imagining of them. I personally liked Darcy in this a lot, he very much fit into my image of him much more than Colin Firth ever did – but then I’m not a Darcy-phile (I’ll probably have my membership of many romance blogs rescinded as I admit this) and the only incarnation I’ve ever really liked was David Rintoul in the 1980 version. (see picture, right) This Darcy is very much like him, so that’s probably why I liked him. I was never convinced by Firth, he was FAR too soppy for my money.

Anyway, I did enjoy it and for the most part the 19th century characters kept in character and fitted the language nicely. There were a couple of slips that I noticed but nothing major. I don’t have the instant “eye” for period fashions so I can’t comment on that. What I majorly objected to though was that the main character, Miss Price, was set up to be the complete P&P geek, knew the book so intimately she says that the words almost spoke themselves when she was reading, and yet when she was thrown into the P&P world she seemed to behave like a complete ignoramus. I don’t mean not knowing how to dance a quadrille, but simply making the sort of blunders that you think she’d never make. Kissing Bingley, showing her pubes to Lydia (probably corrupting Lydia completely) that sort of thing. I realise that this is deliberate and set up for comic effect, but as the writers had tried so hard to convince us that she was the expert on the book it didn’t quite gel. It might have worked better if it was someone just coming to the book for the first time and loving it a great deal.

Anyway – if you didn’t see it, try and get hold of it, because it’s fun, and something interesting on the box for a change. I’m thinking I’ll probably put a post up after each episode to discuss.

And for a finisher: Which book would you love to be Lost In? And which would you really really NOT want to be?

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