Candice: I had a moment the other week were I realised I was trying to be superwoman, and I had to just give up.

The week before I went on holiday I’d been to Leeds for a meeting on the Monday, London for the same on the Tuesday and then down to London again on the Wednesday night for our speaking event.  I then had a weekend of packing and child entertaining before three more days of work, two trips to the gym and then off on hols.  I remember putting a post on Facebook saying I was a little overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done  before we went away. I then also promised Phil a blog post on our Books show off experience before the flight.

Well the morning of our holiday it was spent running around like a headless chicken packing and sorting before the parents arrived to give us a lift to the airport. There were documents to print, cats to sort and children to collect.  In the middle of it all I managed to cut my finger open on a broken glass so ended up going to the airport with dried blood still on my hand!

Two days into the holiday I had finally started to relax.  We’d sorted out sleeping arrangements (child with bedroom, parents on pull out bed in lounge), where breakfast was, the best sun loungers and optimal child entertainment. I’d even managed to crack open my first book of the trip. Then I realised… the promised blog post had not been written.

And I’m sorry, Phil, I just gave up on trying to be everything to everyone.

I had really enjoyed our event in London.  I’d been quite nervous but once I got up there, as always happens, I was fine.  I actually struggled to let Phil get a word in edgeways!


But then life took over and I think that week took its toll.

Just before Erin was born Phil gave me a signed copy of a book by a lady we had been corresponding with, writer Daisy Waugh. Called “I don’t know why she bothers”, it is all about women trying to do too much for their children; baking cakes at midnight, making costumes etc.  Well this isn’t me trying to do it for my daughter, its me trying to do it for me.

I’m glad I tried to stop being a superwoman for a week.  We had a great holiday and I now feel much more relaxed as I try and get back into work.  I’m sure that frantic nature will rear its head again but I’ll be keeping it in check as best as I can.

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History repeats itself


Phil: Life is funny isn’t it?

Many years ago, I used to be an obsessive visitor to my little local library. I’d head straight into the children’s section and delight in picking interesting looking books from the shelves. My default choice would be stories of the Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I read each book more than once. The Kirrin Island one never seemed popular with other borrowers so I know it cam home with me many times in lieu of anything better.

Decades later, I’m back.

This time the reading is rather more adult. Candice introduced me to David Baldacci and I find that there are several of his books on the shelf. I know I’m going to work my way through all these.

But I can. That’s what’s so wonderful about a library. And that hasn’t changed in years.

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Print On Demand. Not for losers.

Bello is a digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan, established to breath new life into previously published, classic books.

We publish in ebook and print-on-demand formats to bring these wonderful books to new audiences.


Ann Cleeves is the author behind ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s SHETLAND. She has written over twenty-five novels, and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez – characters loved both on scree and in print. Her books have now sold over one million copies worldwide.


anncelevesbookPhil: I acquired this book from my local railway station “library” – a bookcase in the waiting room on platform 3. With a journey ahead, I’d planned to drop a couple of books in and find something random and unexpected to read. I chose The Healers because it felt like the print copy of our book. Satin finish cover with no frills but otherwise just like any other paperback.

When I read the above, I understood why. It’s the offspring of the same printing machine, or at least a very close relative.

The idea that a major publisher maintains a digital and print-on-demand imprint is fascinating. We all know that putting books on the shelves of shops costs lots of money. This limits those books to those that the publisher and shop are certain will sell – mainly ones with someone off the telly named on the cover.

But what about the rest?

Print-on-demand offers the chance for publishers to leverage “the long tail” of the book world. The same business model that makes Amazon a success. The idea is that there is a large body of work that will sell in tiny numbers over a long period of time. For a shop this is bad news as they simply can’t keep all the slow movers on the shelf.

If your business is based on enormous warehouses or even POD then this isn’t a problem. If you have 2 copies of a thousand books that sell 1 copy a year, that’s still a thousand books sold. Best of all, they all sell at full price, unlike the best sellers which are heavily discounted so no-one makes any money.

Maybe POD is the future for lots of novelists. You’ll never be out of print for a start and there is always the dream of sudden interest in a title pushing sales.

For those lower down the author ladder like us, it’s comforting to know that our book is in the same market as people who have written for the telly. And that you can own a copy that will be just as good as theirs.


The Healers?

It’s a good fun whodunnit novel. I rattled through it very quickly – always the sign of an enjoyable read. It has the hallmarks of an early novel with a bit more set-up than you might like at the start, but if you can find a copy then grab it.

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Showing off our book


Phil: We came, we drank cocktails and we told our story in front of a crowd.

Yesterday evening at Books Showoff was great fun. In the bunker underneath Tottenham Court Road Waterstones, we were the last act on stage (we’ll be calling that the Headline Act as it makes us seem more important) and wowed the audience.

There was much booing and hissing at pictures of Michael Gove. We went off piste from the planned words to accompany the slides a bit, but it didn’t matter. Someone suddenly found she really owned the microphone when she got hold of it, something to do with the fancy shoes bought for the occasion I suspect.

Great fun. Sadly we had to run for the tube straight afterwards but if you saw us and enjoyed our stuff then please buy a copy of da book. Link on the left or drop me an e-mail and for £7.99, I’ll send you a signed copy.

Thanks to Steve X for putting this on. Keep an eye on the web page if you are within striking distance of London. A fiver well spent for a great fun evening.


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Nearly ready for Books Showoff tonight!

talkcheckingPhil: Last Friday was the final meeting ahead of our appearance tonight at Books Showoff tonight.

Sitting down in an artisan bakery, Candice started to tell me about potty training, so I quickly changed the subject to the slides prepared for the evening entertainment. As anyone who has friends with small children knows, the obsess about the topic and there are some things that can put you right off your hot chocolate.

All words have been expunged from the slides. It was just left to sort out what we are going to say. The audience needs entertaining, not just a selection of pictures to look at.

Doing a two-hander talk is a bit of a challenge. We don’t want to talk over each other, but there must be banter. That’s easy when you are sitting opposite each other and stuffing some delicious sandwiches and cake in your gob. I’ll shut up when I’m eating for a start, but you can’t rely on that on stage.

So, we have a sort of script. Not a strict one as that would be rubbish, but an idea what we’ll be filling our alloted 9 minutes with.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to write a rant to accompany a certain photo. Come along to see if I manage it.

Books Showoff, London 28th Sept at 7pm

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Sign your name


Phil: My trip to Brum last week involved a good workout. A backpack full of books for the yomp across the city centre certainly added something!

I was keen that Candice took away some of the copies with our lovely new cover – so keen that I put them in a suitable plastic bag from a shop that wouldn’t embarrass her, I doubted that her designer handback would be big enough to tote them. A second bag contained some for me. I wanted these signed.

Over tea, an interesting question was raised – which signature to use?

Using your normal one isn’t a good idea – at least not unless you want people copying it in cheques, contracts and anything else that gets scribbled on. What is required is a “public” signature that is different from the “official” version.

This must be a real nightmare for the Bank of England’s chief cashier, Victoria Cleland. Her monica is on every new note issued by the bank, so if any of us want to fake a copy, we have a handy example in our wallets. Presumably she also has a “public” version, possibly worked over by the banks graphics department to perfect it.

We have to be practical. In our dreams there will be book signings, whatever we do needs to be quick so the lines of adoring fans aren’t kept waiting.


So, I’ve gone for a simple Phil, with a my little cartoon face. Candice has a cat paw print after hers. Personal but if you see them on a cheque, it’s pretty obvious that something is amiss.

With that solved, I know you are thinking of another question:

“How can I get hold of one of those signed copies?”

Well, the answer is simple – send me an e-mail – and I’ll reply with a PayPal invoice and pop a copy in the post. Price £7.99 including free postage in the UK (Overseas at cost but we’ll sort something out).

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Stalking Spielberg

nolan_signCandice: Phil and I met in Birmingham last week for our customary writing and discussion meeting.  I’d been supposed to be filming that day on BBC drama ‘Father Brown’ but at the last minute had been replaced by a bloke.  I’ll be interested to see that episode as when the agency told me what I would be doing I misread the email and thought I’d be a woman in her nineties, not one in a nightie.  What the chap they cast instead will be doing who knows?

Anyway, that was my second rejection in the last few weeks as I’d applied to be in the next Spielberg film, ‘Ready Player One‘, as they were filming part of it in Brum.  What, Birmingham as a dystopian future American, surely not.  But yes, their location scout had found somewhere that fitted the bill. This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often in the West Midlands so when I saw the ad I jumped at the chance.

Well my lack of involvement was only confirmed at 8.30pm on the night before the fitting so I was a bit put out to say the least.  So when I was given a free day I thought I’d take the opportunity to go and see what the crew was up to.

I did some online surfing and found out where the crew was based – just outside the ‘jewellery quarter’.  There was loads of stuff on line, the one thing the locals haven’t been good at is keeping the set quiet.  I’m not sure they will come back if we can’t keep our phones to ourselves.

So Phil and I were all ready, copies of book in hand (not specifically for this but because I hadn’t had a copy with the new cover).  Phil even suggested I book Monday off to get ready for the calls from Spielberg’s agent. However, when we got there dystopia had moved on!

Yep, taking to the props guys who were clearing up, they had moved on just the night before to a set under spaghetti junction, further out of town.

So out plans were scuppered and books went home in their plastic bag, but it was still cool to see them clearing up – taking the graffiti covered walls back to bare and working out how they could make a plain street look like something completely different.

Next time…..


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