For Cats’ Eyes Only – Preview

Launching soon

For Cats’ Eyes Only was commissioned to coincide with this year’s Big Summer Reading Challenge 2017 (n.b. it is NOT an official BSRC book)

If you are aged 4 – 11 yrs and live in Ilfracombe, you can get a FREE copy just by coming along to Ilfracombe library and signing up for the challenge on Wednesday 19th July

Otherwise, you can still get a copy shortly after that date from all good bookshops, as well as online here or on Amazon.

Young readers in Devon can also come along to their local library and meet the author, as well as do a fun craft session related to the book. See here for confirmed dates. If your local library isn’t on the list, then be sure to ask them why not.

Here’s a sneak preview of the prologue of the book.

Prologue

The End … Or is it?

“Not one more step, Swifty!”

Special Agent Felix Whiter sighted down the barrel of his Buckthorn and Beech .22 pistol at the tortoise, who had thought he was getting away. Swifty knew he could hide in his shell but, either way, there was no escape this time.

“Felix! I wish I could say I’ve been expecting you but, alas, it seems you have the upper hand.”

“Did you really think you could get away with it, Swifty?”

“Well, I guess I didn’t expect that you would be assigned to the investigation. You’re a cool cat, I’ll give you that.”

“My team are already rounding up your minions, and the lettuces are safely back in our warehouse. Now I just have to bring you in to make this a purrfect day.”

As the secret agent spoke, Swifty looked past him with a worried expression.

“I’m not falling for that old trick, Swifty. There’s nothing behind me.”

“Wanna bet?”

Felix swung round and sure enough, a little girl was coming towards them across the grass. She must have seen everything. Desperately he tried to hide the gun behind his back and dropped down onto all fours, purring and flicking his tail, but it was no use. He’d been caught.

The little girl looked at the cat, and then at the tortoise which was trying to look innocent and slowly sidling away towards a large oak stump.

“Did I just see you talking to that tortoise, puss-cat?” the little girl asked.

“Meow?”

“It’s no use pretending, I know I saw you standing up and pointing a stick at the tortoise, and you’re wearing clothes, and you were definitely talking, although I didn’t hear what you were saying.”

“Purr?”

Felix stalked over to the little girl and rubbed hard against her legs with his sides, purring and meowing for all he was worth.

‘Just a few minutes of this and she’s going to forget all about it,’ thought Felix.

Sure enough, the girl began to doubt herself. “I must have imagined it,” she said to herself as she scratched behind the cat’s ears. “I suppose some people do like to dress their cats in clothes as well,” she added.

At that moment, the cat turned its head to look at the point where the tortoise had been, only moments before. It was nowhere to be seen.

‘Drat!’ Felix thought.

Women of the Wise Oak artwork progress update

First pencil sketch

I posted about it earlier, but I’ll just add the first sketch here as well to complete the story.

Preliminary Sketch for “Women of the Wise Oak” cover design.

I’ve just had the latest progress update from Iver Klingenberg who is painting the cover art for Women of the Wise Oak and I have to say, it is going to be absolutely breathtaking.

It features a golden eagle flying over an alpine lake, and Iver is particularly adept at painting water. I don’t know whether to share the half finished painting with you or not. Will it spoil the surprise of seeing the fully finished artwork? Would anyone like to see it? Does anyone even care?

Leave a comment, and if we get enough (let’s say five) then I will post it here. If not then I will send an image to the few who want to see it via email.

Update 27/5/17

O.K. so, we only managed three comments. I guess, that is actually pretty good going for a small and not yet widely followed blog.

Here’s the work in progress. FANFARE!

Isn’t that lush? Can’t wait to see the finished thing.

Finished painting reveal.

Well, I have got a photograph of the finished painting now from Iver Klingenberg and, yes, it is every bit as amazing as I expected it to be.

So, d’ya wanna see it? Do ya? Do ya?

I know you do.

.

.

Scroll down …

.

.

Cover artwork for “Women of the Wise Oak” by Iver Klingenberg.

Sneak peek at a snippet of For Cats Eyes Only

Felix Whiter is a suave, sophisticated, cat detective who works for the Animal Intelligence Service (A.I.S.) and every top detective needs a crack team of dedicated professional experts around him. IT, forensics, gadgets, disguises, and … receptionists.

Olli the Owl’s heart may well be in the right place, but his mind is … well, seemingly elsewhere.

Artwork by Amii James. Olli Tooley would like to make it clear that Olli the Owl is NOT based on him.

Little Bird Publishing friends on the same business journey

Friends in the same business

If you are in business and you see your business competitors as a threat, then I feel sorry for you. There is hardly a business model anywhere in the multiverse where direct competition is not positively beneficial. Indeed, in many businesses it is essential.

I would say that publishing is a good example. It is the almost infinite variety of books that makes them so interesting. If there were not so many books in so many genres, from so many authors, the market would actually stagnate and move backwards.

We, at Blue Poppy publishing have authors at varying stages of interest and development, and too many more would simply swamp us anyway. So it is always nice to find like minded publishers on a similar journey to ourselves, and that is where Little Bird Publishing comes in.

Established by Katie John in 2010 in very similar circumstances to Oliver Tooley founding BPP in 2016 they now have eight or more authors on the books, and everyone involved helps each other with mutual cross-promotion and collaboration. Like us they publish a wide range of genres, but steer clear of erotica and horror and so it is quite probable that our readers will enjoy their books and vice-versa.

I particularly agree with the philosophy of Little Bird, which is fairly well encapsulated in their own words

[Katie] also quickly became aware of the sharks out there, exploiting the new indie author market; expensive vanity publishing schemes, unqualified editors, and people offering to turn authors into millionaires, and USA Today bestsellers overnight. She established Little Bird Publishing as an antidote to this kind of author exploitation and dream peddling.

It’s the same here. We won’t take money up front from authors for anything they wouldn’t spend money on anyway. We’re happy for authors to hire their own editor, cover designer or whatever; or to introduce authors to those people. All we insist on, is that the end product is professional quality such as you would expect from Random House or Bloomsbury.

Artist Selected to Illustrate New Children’s Book For Cats’ Eyes Only

The story so far

  • I got a call from Cathy Newton of Ilfracombe Library asking me to attend a meeting at the home of local philanthropist and benefactor David Tubby. (see his excellent blog on our small but beautiful town).
  • Cathy asked me if I would be willing to write a book especially for the Big Summer Reading Challenge using this year’s theme “Animal Agents”
  • I said yes and we bandied about a number of ideas for the book within minutes. David was persuaded to assist the library with financing the launch of the event and I went off to get writing.
  • Before I got very far, I decided to do some market research among the target audience. My daughter’s form teacher at Ilfracombe Junior School was happy to oblige and I got back nearly thirty filled out questionnaires which helped me to write a well targeted book. (It’s mostly terrible puns, fart jokes, and silliness). The title is “For Cats’ Eyes Only”
  • It took less than a week to write the first draft. A little longer to get beta readers to feed-back and make a few adjustments, and another week for editing. But without illustrations it would miss the needs of the target audience. 6-8 year olds.
  • So the search for an artist began, with many expressing an interest but none fulfilling all the requirements. The money available for this is not huge, because it is an unknown author (me) and a very small publisher (Blue Poppy) and we just can’t pay, up front, the sort of money professional artists demand and deserve.
  • Then a friend suggested I should try the art department of Ilfracombe Academy. I smacked my hand against my head and dashed off an email a.s.a.p. The reply from Mr Lawton was positive and we arranged an opportunity to visit the school and present the brief to a group of young art students.
  • Then last Thursday I saw the submissions. It goes without saying that all of them were excellent, but (much to my relief) one was outstanding and the decision was relatively easy to make.

Watch this space, or keep an eye on the North Devon Gazette for the announcement of the successful artist who is a young student who dared to dream of illustrating children’s books once she had finished her studies. 

New author reveal

Welcome to Blue Poppy Publishing, Joni Dee
Author of “And The Wolf Shall Dwell”

It really is pretty mind-blowing the speed with which Blue Poppy has grown in less than a year. OK, look, it’s not going to threaten Penguin any time soon, but we have now got three confirmed authors all publishing books this year.

The latest author to the fold is Joni Dee, whose thriller “And The Wolf Shall Dwell” already looks set to outsell Oliver J Tooley on launch based on pre-orders alone.

That said, we want to give more people the chance to get a pre-order in before the launch date which has not be set yet. To that end, please check out his website jondbooks.com/ and sign up for updates.

New author announcement coming soon

Blue Poppy is already reeling from the news that Ben Blake, a well established self-publishing author with six titles already in print, wanted to publish his next two novels, “Black Lord of Eagles”, and “Fanged Fish” through us; but now we have been approached by an author from London who had got 750 pre-orders of his first novel before the company supposedly publishing him pulled the rug.

We don’t want to give too much away but it goes without saying we could not pass up the chance to publish someone who has already created so much interest in their first book.

It may mean we have to transform from an imprint, to an actual company with some sort of legal status. That’s going to mean proper accounts and such like. Much to do.

Maps in fantasy books

Interesting thread on Best Fantasy Books Forum recently

Several comments about how maps do not often work well on Kindle. This reminded me that I had intended to include a map for “Children of the Wise Oak” online for Kindle users to look at if they preferred.

I think this would be a good idea anyway for future reference in my series, and in that of other writers for whom maps are important. Even in print books, the map can come out a tad on the teeny side.

 

Map from “Children of the Wise Oak” click to enlarge.

Blue Poppy; what’s it all about?

Introducing Blue Poppy Publishing.

So, last year, 2016, I finally finished my first full novel. I set up a crowdfunding campaign to pay for a professional edit, cover design, and printing. When the money hit my account I went a bit crazy and spent it all and then some trying to produce a really good product. I hope the seventy-plus backers were very pleased with it. I know I was.

Part of publishing that book ended up with me creating an imprint; Blue Poppy Publishing. I say imprint because it could certainly not lay any claim to being a company. It still isn’t; but more of that in future posts.

Why “Blue Poppy”?

I asked my online friends for name suggestions, but it was my son Morton, who suggested the name. It relates to my grandfather, Frank Kingdon-Ward, who was an explorer and botanist. “The Last of the Great Plant Hunters” was the first person to bring back viable seed of Meconopsis betonicifolia, the Himalayan Blue Poppy.

My first website was all about him, and my very first paid writing assignment was a 1,200 word article about him for “The Great Explorers” by Robin Hanbury-Tenison. (Thames & Hudson  ISBN 978-0500251690)


Hence the name.

So what is Blue Poppy Publishing then?

Can we call it BPP for brevity?

It is a very small publisher with absolutely no money, but a big heart and a growing wealth of understanding about the world of self publishing.

We (yes, I can call it “we” now because with the addition of Ben Blake it is no longer just me) are not pretending we know everything, but we are continually learning, and looking for ways to put that experience to good use for ourselves, and others.

We still don’t have any money, but 2017 is the year we will start to change that, in very small ways at first, but building on it.