From novel to eBook

In November 2011, I wrote a novel as a NaNoWriMo project. I was encouraged to do it by Julia Crouch, author of Cuckoo, which also started life as a NaNoWriMo project. She told me to write it in November, but don’t look at it again until January. I followed her advice, but let it rest for a whole year in between. (In the novel I changed November to October, and the year it which it was set in to 2010, so as to allow for the twist at the very end – did you see it coming?)

The idea of NaNoWriMo, as outlined in Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem! is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, the premise being that every potential author needs a deadline to get started, else they become a ‘one day’ author, never getting round to it. You write, but don’t edit, yet, just keep going until the month is done and you have a complete first draft to work on.

When I came to edit my novel, I was reluctant to change much. In fact I only corrected spelling mistakes and changed the characters’ names. My friend Jenny Millington - a copy editor by trade - pointed out some errors in my grammar that I attended to. So why have I published it in an ‘unfinished’ form? Well, I quite like it, and would like to get it out there, rather than just languishing on my hard drive. Only today, I saw an item in the paper about some teenagers in Oslo finding a wad of money and a passport on a train. They sensibly handed them in and the dosh was reunited with its 70-year-old owner. Since I wrote the novel, several of the things that happen in the book have also taken place in real life, so I'd like to have it in the public domain to prove I thought of them first!

So here it is. If you spot any glaring errors or plot holes, please get in touch. And next November, why not have a go at writing a novel of your own?

Getting it from a novel in a word-processing program (in this case Mariner Write) to an ebook is another story. Read on...

Being a Mac man, I thought I'd use Apple's free app iBooks Author. So far so good, and I copied it over chapter by chapter, foolishly making corrections and revisions as I went along. The trouble with the program however is that it only outputs in iBook format (for the iBook Store), or as a PDF or as plain text. First obstacle was that I needed to get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) number from the US IRS tax office and the only way to do it was to phone them up! So I did (heavens know how much it cost me), cribbing from an SS-4 form you can download. (A letter evenually arrived from the IRS confirming it.) But when I went back to register with Apple it wanted the EIN number without dashes and spaces and kept rejecting mine. Grrr.

So after wasting lots of time on the internet, I put the whole thing on hold and went on holiday. When I got back iBooks Author still wouldn't let me publish my book, so I decided to go the Kindle route. Now, the trouble with eBooks is that there are lots of different formats, and the one for Kindle is .mobi. I trawled the net and found a 'how-to' that seemed reasonably stress-free. It was a blog by Ed Ditto and entitled rather optimistically How to Publish Your eBook from Word to Kindle in under Ten Minutes. I don't have Word, so I decided to use the text file output from iBooks Author as it was the most up-to-date version. So, I downloaded a trial version of Scrivener, and followed the tutorial. First I dragged the book into Scrivener and then had to use the Split command to separate it back into chapters. After a lot of faffing about trying to get the Chapter headings right, I got it to more or less look OK and uploaded to Amazon. If I could be arsed I could read his eBook (which I bought) and work through Scrivener's help manual, but I'd had enough by then.

What is lost, and I may fix at some point is that the flashbacks - what Eddy/Duane is typing - should be in a different font (Courier at least) and indented as a blockquote. But I think it still makes sense without this. The cover (and title!) could be better too, but I just wanted to make it available as soon as possible.

So if you're interested, download it at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CBWQ1GC - it's free for the next few days!

You don't need an actual Kindle to read it - you can download a Kindle reader for your phone or computer from here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000425503. Enjoy!


Hebden Bridge, Haworth and beyond

This was to be a complex excursion. There is only one bus an hour between Hebdon Bridge and Haworth and the last one back was 5.18. I didn't count on other difficulties! The objective was the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. First setback was not finding Rochdale railway station. I took the 471 bus into Bury and on through Heywood (past Wham Street) to Rochdale. No sign of the station and when I reached the bus station found that the nearest bus to it was... the 471. So back I went, got off at the roadworks where they are installing tram lines, and eventually reached the station bursting for the loo. Luckily they had one!

The moors

The train to Hebden Bridge, via Todmorden and many tunnels, was very scenic and the 500 bus was waiting outside. The journey up and over the tops was exhilarating, with lots of snow remaining from the recent showers. At Haworth the train was already in, so I jumped on board and bought a round ticket at the end of the line at Oxenhope. It was pulled by a Standard 4 tank similar to the one I saw at the ELR the day before, 80002, built at Derby in 1952. It went back to Keighley, via Oakworth, where the Railway Children was filmed, and I grabbed a sandwich at the end of the line when the loco took on water.

  Inside Ingrow Loco

I now had a dilemma: to get off at Ingrow West to see the two museums, or carry on back to Oxenhope to see the locos there. I decided to hop off at Ingrow, but the Loco museum was a disappointment: only three small locos inside, with another small tank down the road at the Museum of Rail Travel. I should have got a Rover, which would have entitled me to free entry to both museums, but I coughed up £2 to get into Ingrow loco, and the Jubilee 5596 Bahamas wasn't even there (it's at York). I didn't bother with the Museum of Rail Travel.


So, I waited on the platform for the one train operating to get back and I returned to Keighley, then back to Oxenhope where I thought I could have a quick look in the museum while the engine was changing ends. The Oxenhope exhibit was much better, more like a shed with loads of top class engines on view. And it's free! I grabbed a tea and rode back to Haworth where I'd just missed the penultimate bus. Took a look round by the sheds where 43924 was outside, and up the hill for a bit to see if I could spot any Bronte stuff, but no joy, so spent half an hour in the pub with a dodgy pint of IPA throwing a squeaky toy for a puppy that befriended me. Then it was back over the moors, the train to Rochdale, walk to the bus stop where they stop stopping after 7pm. Luckily one came along before then but it terminated at Bury. After 7pm, the buses, which are every ten minutes during the day, go to being one an hour, so I took refuge in the Art Picture House, now a JD Wetherspoons pub, for a quick half of Thwaites Nutty Black. Made it! Another heritage railway ticked off the list.

Preston Bus Station

Preston Bus Station

On Easter Monday I took the train from Scarborough to Manchester, seeing some magnificent scenery between Huddersfield and Stalybridge, to stay in Bury for a few days. On the Tuesday, I took the bus to Bolton and the train up to Preston to see the famous Brutalist bus station, which is under threat of demolition. I took a bus from the station so as to arrive in style and what a fine building it is. I had a wander round the interior taking photos, lunch (egg and tomato sandwich and a mug of tea - I could have had a potato and butter pie, but resisted the temptation) in the cafeteria and even made use of the gents. I took a lift up to the car park decks too. What I didn't realise is that it is double sided with plenty of spaces for buses. The far side has older signage, some in need of repair.

  Preston Bus Station

Unless there's something drastically wrong with the concrete I don't see why it has to go. It is a beautiful structure surrounded by ugly buildings. What else does Preston offer? Read on...

Afterwards I headed for the Harris Museum, which has a truly superb art gallery on the top floor, with lots of wonderful Victorian and early 20th century paintings. It also houses a fine collection of ceramics and the 13,500 year old Poulton Elk. The star however is the building itself, the interior of which is decorated with friezes and murals depicting all ages of art history. The Egyptian balcony (not accessible) features murals painted by John Somerscales between 1909 and 1913.

Baptistry gates from Florence (replica)

From their website:
As part of the design Hibbert also obtained plaster copies of Classical and Renaissance sculpture to illustrate the “whole range and history of the world’s greatest achievements in art”. These started at the top with Assyrian art, then classical Greek sculpture and down to Renaissance art on the ground floor. Only the Greek and Assyrian friezes on the upper floors of the central hall and copy of the Gates of Paradise, Lorenzo Ghiberti (c.1378-1455) from Florence on the ground floor still survive [see photo above]. The friezes are reproductions of the frieze from the palace of King Ashurnasirpal at Nimrud (885 to 860 BC), the frieze and the metopes from the Parthenon in Athens (438-32 BC) and a cast of the frieze of the temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Greece (420-400 BC).
And unlike Scarborough art gallery, it's all absolutely free. I had a 75p tub of parched peas (black peas, pigeon peas, maple peas, carlins) from the stall outside, then wandered back to the station and home to Bury via Bolton.

  Northern street food

Now, I probably wouldn't have visited Preston if it wasn't for the Bus Station being under threat, and so I wouldn't have discovered the Harris Museum (there's also the Ribble Steam Railway, down by the docks to see). So a top tip to tourist boards: announce that one of your iconic buildings is to be demolished, and they will come!

Liquorice root

On Wednesday, I had a wander round Bury Market, bought some dried black peas to take home, and had a (free - I'm a member) round trip on the East Lancs Railway, pulled by Standard 4 tank 80080 (made in Brighton). I also made my way to Bury Art Gallery to find many of its most famous paintings were abroad, in China, so there were some substitutes from the vaults to admire. I also had a cappuccino in the new cafe on the balcony. The woman asked me if I wanted one shot or two. I had no idea and opted for the one - I should have asked for two! Thursday was to be my most ambitious excursion - to Haworth and the Keighley and Worth Valley railway.

Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay

Whitby Abbey

 I've only ever seen Whitby from afar - when I went on my coach trip to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Grosmont in 2009, so I planned an excursion by bus while I was at Scarborough. However fellow Clarionettes Ian and Sue were going by car so I tagged along. The moors north of Scarborough were very bleak, with little traffic and little evidence of the recent snow. We stopped off to look at Robin Hood's Bay, and I wasn't looking forwards to the climb back up the steep steps! We made it to the bottom, however, and took our time getting back, stopping off for a coffee half way.

Sea defences in need of some art

 The sea defences were huge, and badly in need of some public art.

  Queue at the Magpie Cafe

At Whitby we parked by the harbour and had a good view of the demolished houses below the Abbey. We had a stroll round the little streets over the bridge, looking for jet charms to no avail, but didn't try the steps up to the abbey. Back over the bridge, we marvelled at the queues outside the magpie Cafe and the Quayside (voted best chippy in Yorkshire) and carried on towards the lighthouses and tea at the Battery Parade Cafe. On the way back we stopped at a scampi stall owned by the Magpie for a snack, and Ian had some whelks from another stall. There was a steam bus operating, but we didn't have time to ride on it.

  Elizabeth the steam bus

Back on the road, we visited Grosmont and the sheds of the NYMR. To get to them you go down a long foot tunnel, built between 1833-1835 by George Stephenson. In the shed was the magnificent A4 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, a Southern loco 826, and a 'mickey' 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier. Back at the station we spotted 75029 The Green Knight and another Black 5 No. 44871. B1 61264 was also in steam but we didn't see it.

  Foot tunnel

 Then it was back to Scarborough via Pickering for the Clarion Gala Dinner.

Scarborough 2013

I can just about remember going to Scarborough as a lad, but I only recall one thing: The Battle of the River Plate, enacted by man-operated boats in Peasholm Park. It still goes on, but only from the end of May, however when I discovered the Clarion Cycling Club Easter Meet was to be held there I just had to go. What I'd forgotten, however, was how hilly it was!

Scarborough, from the hotel

I travelled up via York prepared for snow, but my warm clothing wasn't needed - it was a glorious sunny weekend, albeit with a chilly breeze. The Ambassador Spa hotel, on the South Bay Esplanade was a slog from the railway station, pulling my wheelie suitcase, over a land bridge - but I discovered there was a cliff lift operating nearby down to the beach, so the next morning, after the AGM, I bought a £1.20 return ticket down to sea level. The Spa below was overrun with elderly mods and their scooters on a rally.

Scooters at the Spa

I caught a 109 bus around the headland. Now, this bus route was exempt from the bus pass, so I bought a day ticket for £2. But beware, there are two companies running this service and, as I found out on the way back, they don't accept the other's tickets! At the North Bay terminus I walked to the North Bay Railway and bought a return to Scalby Mills and enjoyed the ride further north, past the water chute and along the bay. Although the engines look like steam locos, they are actually diesels - but they are old, 1931 Neptune was built in... 1931!

  1931 Neptune

I got a 109 back to the pier and went for a coffee at Pacitto's a retro looking cafe overlooking the sea. They had no toilets and the nearest were 'attended', ie you had to pay, so I headed off to find the art gallery, where you can always count on a decent jakes. After a schlep up the hill I found that you had to pay to get in - £1.80 for me, and to be honest apart from the toilets here's not a lot to see apart from some shipwreck paintings, an Edward Bawden watercolour and a big Lord Leighton.

  Art gallery

After a quick nosey round the not-so-grand Grand Hotel, I got the cliff lift (a different one - looks like there were three at one time, but one looks derelict) down to the beach and a number 6 bus (with my bus pass) back up to the station where I bought a bottle of wine for that night's ceilidh from Tesco. Killed an hour at The Cask Inn, the other side of the land bridge with a pint of Old Peculiar and some cheesy chips, then set off to the dance. Got a lift back to the hotel, thankfully!