Monthly Archives: August 2016

Vampire banjos – a new genre?

Phil: So I’m at the Warwick Rocks Fringe Festival last week. Sitting at the bar eating bruschetta and drinking Diet Coke, I’m chatting to the bloke next to me as we wait for Liam Brown to be replaced on stage by Nico Reznick.

As ever, this being a literary event, I’m shoe-horning our novel into the conversation at every opportunity. We got talking about the difficulties of being picked up by a big publishing house and I explain that most receive over 1000 submissions a year, of which only 1 or 2 will make it to print.

The game is to be lucky. If that morning the publisher is looking for wizards and your book includes one then you’re in. If they want cup cakes then forget it.

It’s all about being in the fashionable genre of the moment.

Somewhere along the line, I managed to invent a new one: Vampire Banjo Fiction, or VBF for short.

It’s perfect. Just think how scary banjos can be. Imagine walking along a quiet street at night and all you can hear is this.

You walk faster but the finger pickin’ just gets faster.

You try to run but the tempo rises to a cruscendo.

Suddenly you feel a sharp pain on your neck and the sound fades away…

NOW you’re scared.

Vampire banjo fiction is a commercial winner. As well as the book sales, there is a CD and even a tour to plump those coffers. Then there are the spin-off instrument sales so da kidz can turn teenage angst into music.

Perhaps the Monkees had a blood-sucking past? (Actually I think they morphed into the Banana Splits on a full moon, but that’s another genre).  Is this why Mike Nesmith’s mother had to invent correction fluid? To erase his terrible crimes?

The Internet even found me a picture from Angela Matteson, so I’m not alone in my thinking.

Take it from me though, Vampire Banjo Fiction, it’s the future. You heard it here first.


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Kate vs the Dirtboffins – now on paper!


Phil: Exciting times for Team NolanParker – the paperback version of our novel has arrived!

While we might be very pleased with the e-book version, and it’s on over 100 reading devices now, for some jobs, only paper will do.

Let’s face it, we all like to hold a novel in our hands and if that novel is one you have written then it’s even more exciting.

So, working with Clink Street Publishing, we’ve created a real book. It’s has out new cover and inside you’ll find professionally laid out pages – the difference between these and my efforts is considerable. Not that mine were terrible, but there is an indefinable “something” that employing a professional brings to the job that makes it look and feel like a “proper” book.

The good news is that in a few weeks, the book will be orderable (ISBN 978-1-911110-42-2) from Waterstones and other high street book shops. We’ll also be happy to sell signed copies direct from this website as well for the same price. I’ll fill you in on this later but you need to start saving a tiny £7.99 for this…

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Writing progress – BOOM!

Library CakePhil: There I am, sitting in a deck chair besides Solihull’s latest tourist attraction – a beach – perusing a magazine about fixing rusty cars, when I’m tapped on the shoulder.

“Don’t you want any cake then?”

Shockingly, I’d been so excited about the mock seaside, I’d not spotted that Candice had lined up pots of tea and a choice of cake in the cafe behind me.

Not to worry, once we’d polished off the refreshments (sparkly cake – excellent!) and I’d established that she’d not brough me any souvenirs back from the previous days trip to Cadbury World (Boo), we got on to discussing the book.

Writers – here’s a handy hint. If you’ve lost your mojo, give some copies of your book away. Once people start talking about it, you’ll be back at the keyboard toot sweet.

It’s certainly working for us. My friend is giddy with excitement about the book now she’s passing copies around her friends and we can see loads of people have downloaded copies. OK, we’re not making money but then we never expected to become as rich as Rowling. We just want people to read and enjoy the story.

And the reviews say they are. It’s a wonderful feeling.

All of which got us sat around a library table with laptops out. At first we discussed how the overall story arc should go in the second book. We’ve worked this out already but this time there was detail. There has to be when the words are to hit the page.

Not only this, we filled in some blanks for the books to follow this as well. It was very exciting to be back discussing plots and ideas.

After this, there was writing. Maybe the sugar rush from the cake was powering us, but after an hour or so, we swapped computers and read the 1000 or so words we’d each written. New words but ones that fitted like jigsaw pieces into the story we are telling.

So, giving away a few copies of our book isn’t such a daft idea after all.

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Why are you giving away your book?

Candice: I’ve been taking a good, hard look at book selling in the modern age. It seems to me there are two routes to success:

Be a celebrity. Phil hates this but you can’t deny that a famous name on the cover sells copies. Sadly, I didn’t end up writing with Joey Essex so that’s not going to work.

Create some word-of-mouth. Get people talking about your book and hopefully sales will grow by recommendation.

So, I have decided that we need to concentrate on reviews, not sales.

This sounds stupid. After all, we ought to be trying to sell books shouldn’t we? At this stage, I don’t think so. What I want to do is establish us as authors whose work people like. If we can get them hooked on our first book, selling the second one should be a lot easier.

So, we’ve decided to give the electronic copy away on 3 summer Sundays. We’ll plug it on various social media outlets, including our new Facebook page. There’s even a video of us waving the new look book around on there and Phil is fiddling with his camera to make some funny photos up.

What we need out of all this is a selection of reviews. We’ve got some good one so far now people are being bullied or bribed to do more than just read it. Even this is helping as people at work are now reading it on the recommendation of others!

Hopefully, once we’ve collected a healthy number, somewhere between 25 and 50 seems to be the target, sales will start to grow.

In the meantime, all the good feedback has encouraged us to get back to Book 2, so watch out for us holed up in a library any day soon.

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New cover!

Phil: The sharp eyed  will have noticed that we have a shiny new book cover.



Simple – when we started this, we assumed that we were writing chick-lit. Hence, Kari designed us an excellent chick-lit cover. The strong image of a red shoe looks fantastic.

But, with the book out in the wild, we find that many of our most enthusiastic readers are male. And that cover was putting them off. For the moment, we’ve been able to rely on explaining that it’s a funny book, and you’ll be reading it on an e-reader so no-one will see you reading a “girlie” book.

Now we are working on a physical book, this won’t wash. We’re working with Clink Street Publishing for the paper book and have taken the opportunity to work with Hayley, one of their designers on a new look.

Hayley came up with 4 initial ideas, from which we picked one. Then there were many rounds of changes and discussions until we arrived at the version you see above. The tractor tyre tracks were once leaves for a start. She was very patient with us!

We can both see this sitting on the shelves  bookshop. It fits. And it shouldn’t scare the blokes away. Even if they don’t by it themselves, they won’t embarrassed to read it on a sun lounger.

So, if you have even judged a book by its cover,, then let’s hope you like ours.

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