Dog days

It’s been a while. Longer than I realised, to be perfectly honest. Where does the time go?

I haven’t been doing nothing, although the frenzy of writing, editing, cover design perfecting, book blurb fretting, wrangling with new stuff such as ordering ISBNs, setting up my first ever KDP account for publishing on Amazon and all that jazz has passed.

Now is the season of dog days. As I wait for my ARC readers to read. As every now and again I receive a comment or question from one or two of them. As I think ‘hell, reviews will be happening soon’ and ‘I really hope I haven’t oversold and under-delivered on Instagram’… you know, the usual doubts that creatives indulge in when there’s nothing else to distract them.

But – here we are. The last day of July. Only a few weeks until I publish. I’m not convinced past me ever thought I would get to this point. Actually, I’m convinced that past me thought I wouldn’t get to this point. It’s been a long old road, with life throwing a fair few spanners in the works. You know how life is, right?

I was going to redesign my blog into more of a website today, but having thought about it and taken a look at a few other authors’ websites. I’ve decided to wait until Anti-Virus is published. More for the sake of efficiency than anything else. I don’t want to revamp it now and then have to revamp it again once my novel is out. That seems like a waste of time to me. And time is precious.

Anyhoo… I am now set up on Goodreads as a Goodreads Author and Anti-Virus is on there, marked as ‘to be published’ – do look me up, Freya McMillan is the name! That’s exciting, because my ARC readers can post reviews on there before publication, which is great from a marketing point of view! Goodreads also kindly linked me to Jessica, for which I was one of the contributing authors back in 2014. I hadn’t forgotten about that, but it hadn’t occurred to me I would be linked to it on Goodreads, so that was a lovely surprise. I am still proud of the piece I wrote for Jessica, called The Magpie’s Tongue. It’s dark. There’s death. And destruction. No surprises there.

It’s time for me to have some lunch. I’ll sign off now and leave you with the cover of Anti-Virus, created with the design skills of the fabulous Platform House Publishing – thank you James!

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

If there’s one certainty in life, it is that things are constantly changing.

And yet I am being consistently inconsistent by not posting every weekend, like I had planned to do, and like I had probably written somewhere on here that I was going to do.

I know, because I know roughly how social media works, that if you aren’t consistent in your presence, it negatively impacts The Algorithm and The Metrics. You know what else I know? Life is way, way too short and my mental health is way, way too important, to get myself tied up in knots over that stuff.

To be perfectly, bluntly honest with you, I get overwhelmed by the accounts on the tiny number of social media platforms that I use that are unfailingly, Swiss watch consistent in their output and/or have an aesthetic that makes their posts instantly recognisable. Maybe it’s just me who feels like that, maybe there’s something wrong with my attitude to the whole social media bandwagon. (I’ll just add a little side note here – I admire the people who have the ability to ride the wave of social media and have the energy to be so consistent, polished and professional. I don’t have the resources to be always ‘on’ in that way, sadly).

Despite my somewhat lackadaisical approach to the social media aspect of self-publishing, I have reached the point where Anti-Virus is now with my lovely ARC readers, or as I somehow managed to name them ‘Team AV’ (sometimes I can be down with the kids and get a tiny little bit social media savvy). Other authors are reading my work – gulp!

All joking aside and all social media ambivalence aside, I am damned proud I I have got this far. Sometimes I have wanted to tear my hair out, sometimes I have given my manuscript the side-eye and hated it with a burning passion that has been breathtaking (often when I have got up from my working from home computer after a long hard day and then sat down at my own laptop), but now, now all is forgiven. It has all been worth it.

I’ll be firming up my publication date and announcing it to the world in the next few weeks.

And I can introduce you all to Callie Hannigan. She’s been waiting so long. So have I.

Welcome to the world of Anti-Virus.

So close, I can almost taste it

Although, what do books taste like?

I imagine the boys in J2 could tell me, as they used to chew up pieces of paper and spit them at anyone within spitting distance (except teachers). Charming, but then nine year olds are pretty uncouth and (literally) unwashed, aren’t they? Or maybe that was just the 1970s. Or just Birmingham. I dread to think. Although having said that, I am reliably informed that it wasn’t just the Wumpty buses that had ‘No Spitting’ signs painted on the interior walls…

What’s a Wumpty bus? Ahhhh… So, here’s a bit of history. The Transport Act of 1968 created Passenger Transport Executives in four major British conurbations. Each PTE was managed by transport professionals carrying out the policies of a Passenger Transport Authority made up of elected representatives from local authorities. Their task was ‘….to secure or promote the provision of a properly integrated and efficient system of public passenger transport to meet the needs of that area….’

The initial tools were the municipal bus undertakings in the relevant areas. The West Midlands PTE absorbed the Corporation buses of Birmingham, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton with effect from 1 October 1969. The largest contribution to the new WMPTE came from Birmingham City Transport, accounting for around two-thirds of the new 2,100 strong fleet and 8,500 employees. Birmingham’s dark blue and cream buses were well constructed and maintained so the new PTE operations began life in good condition. (I found this information on the Transport Museum Wythall website, in case you’re a fan of public transport!).

So, WMPTE becomes Wumpty, and Wumpty was also a cheerful bus conductor mascot for the transport executive, as you can see (I remember him well!). I found him in the comments on the Beauty of Transport blog. Ah, the 1970s, when bus conductors were still a thing… (along with power cuts and three day weeks). How times have… improved…?

Anyhoo… back to my initial reason for picking up the blogging ‘pen’ again. I’ve finished my final post-editor edit. There’ll be just one more read through to check for those sneaky typos that seem to regenerate when your back is turned (I know, right?), and then Anti-Virus will be winging its way to the magical Becky at Platform House Publishing who will be waving her formatting wand and making it look professional on the inside (thank goodness for Becky, I have minimal patience for that kind of task). Her husband James is the marvellous book cover designer – they are a dynamic duo between them and I highly recommend them!

So, this is the state of play. It’s getting closer, ever closer, this publishing my first novel lark.

Gulp!