New Cookery Book by Tracey Slocombe (AKA Mrs Slocombe) from North Devon
Blue Poppy Publishing are immensely excited to be about to launch* “Mrs Slocombe’s Bull at a Gate Cookery Book on the good people of Devon and beyond. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill cookery book. While there are plenty of great recipes for a wide range of dishes straight from Mrs Slocombe’s own personal repertoire, it also includes humorous stories of her misadventures in search of good food and convivial company. So if you like a full belly, and plenty of belly laughs then this is the book for you.
* At time of writing the book is due in a couple of weeks.
Serious Recipes – With a Fun Accompaniment
Mrs Slocombe’s Bull at a Gate Cookery Book is packed full of
great tried and trusted recipes accompanied by mouth-watering photographs of
the finished dish, so you know what it was supposed to look like. And then,
interspersed with the serious stuff there are the funny stories, such as how
Tracey Slocombe came to produce her famous chilli beef, or her lengthy recipe
for rice pudding (the hard way!). Tracey’s style includes plenty of humour even
within the recipes as she just can’t resist a double entendre if one presents
Famous Guest Recipes
Tracey has called on one or two of her friends to make a
small contribution to her Bull at a Gate Cookery Book.
Simon Dawson; smallholder, radio presenter
and published author, has contributed his recipe for Beer Bread.
Oliver Tooley; former radio presenter,
author and publisher, has contributed a tongue-in-cheek recipe for drunken
cooking. (We don’t recommend you actually follow that recipe).
Julie Kingdom; has provided the recipe
for her fruit cake, which was always a favourite of her husband, the late great
Julian Seager; the TV and film actor
known for such things as Fisherman’s Friends, Poldark, Doc Martin, and Viking
Legacy doesn’t have much time for cooking, but Tracey does create an easy Viking
mead for him.
Mr Slocombe, as Tracey Slocombe’s other half has become
known by default was involved with the All New Monty on ITV this year 2019,
along with celebrities like comedian Joe Pasquale, and snooker ace Willie
Thorne. In honour of the appearance, Mrs Slocombe cooked up a special batch of
gingerbread. The book includes the recipe and takes a moment to extol the
virtues of regular check ups for such things as prostate cancer.
North Devon Inspired Recipes
Included in Mrs Slocombe’s Bull at a Gate Cookery Book are several
recipes which take a touch of inspiration for the Devon countryside that Tracey
calls home. There are a couple of tasty cocktails, the “River Taw” and the “Ilfracombe
Slammer”, the South Molten pudding, Milton Damerel Pork Pie, and Hartland
Tiddy/Teddy/Toddy Pastries. There’s also Beef Torrington, which is inspired by
the Torrington Cavaliers.
Speaking of Charity…
As well as the Beef Torrington there is a brilliant recipe, inspired by K9 Focus, called “Lickin’ Lips Liver Cake”. This one is strictly intended for the beloved pooch or pussy in your life.
Where Can I Buy Mrs Slocombe’s Bull at a Gate Cookery Book?
You can buy this book from any bookshop anywhere in the UK. (Even if they don’t have it in stock they can order it. All Blue Poppy Publishing books are distributed via the standard book ordering system used by all book retailers and libraries.) There’s a list of bookshops in Devon in this blog post.
You can also order it direct from this website or in person from Tracey Slocombe, and there will be a long list of other outlets stocking it that I will try to post up for you at a later date. Before you buy it online, have a think about where you want the profit to go. If you buy it from us, we get the most profit which is nice for us, but if you want to support local business feel free to get it in your local bookshop. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes. Alternatively, if you are good friends with Tracey she will probably sign it for you, and she has worked like crazy on this book and she deserves to make something back from it.
As well as being a writer, and a publisher of other writers, I present a radio show called “Book Club” on The Voice, a local community radio station in North Devon (as a volunteer). I see lots of self-published books. Most are reasonably well edited, but one or two have come to my attention which appear to have been written for school homework and not even marked. One of the worst had an error in the dedication and multiple errors on the first page. That book and, many like it, are not just embarrassing to the author, they give the world of self-publishing a bad reputation that the rest of us have to work twice as hard to shake off. Sorry if that sounds overdramatic.
I know a few authors who do a passable job of self-editing although I would never recommend it (few of us are blessed with the ability to see our own mistakes, as a cursory glance over the articles in this website will illustrate!) Many more will pass their manuscript over to a trusted friend or family member who has a talent for spotting mistakes, but by far the best option is to get a professional editor. It need not cost the earth, and is money well spent if you aim to sell beyond your closest circle of friends.
There are three broad types of editing as follows. Unfortunately, the terms used and their definitions are not universally agreed on, as a brief serach of the internet will reveal. I am using the following terms and will explain each below.
A structural edit or developmental edit will look at the overall structure of the book. If it is a novel, the editor may suggest removal of entire paragraphs or even chapters, adding new chapters, changing the sequence of chapters, changing the ending, the motivation of the main characters, removal of excessive characters, speeding up the pace by removing description, changing “tell” to “show” etc etc.
N.B. We’ve never consciously done this at Blue Poppy Publishing partly because our authors are already pretty good at telling their story, and partly because we don’t work to a formula. That’s not to say we will never go down this route, but I don’t expect to any time soon. What almost always happens, however, is that the author will send their first draft to a few trusted Beta readers who will, sometimes, read it and provide feedback. If the author agrees with the feedback they will make changes, usually before we see the M/S.
A line edit is more about checking for things like overall sentence structure, e.g. avoiding run on sentences, clunky grammar, etc. , consistency, e.g. do the heroe’s eyes change colour, or does a supporting character change name part way through the book? The line edit will also correct spellings, grammar, and punctuation as it goes through but this is also considered in more detail at the copy edit stage.
The copy edit, also sometimes called proofreading, is the final nit-picking stage. This is where, we hope, the last stray spelling error, abberrant or superfluous comma, and missing full-stop is corrected. I say “we hope” because while we aim for perfection, I suspect that typographical errors are a little like bacteria; you can only reduce them to an acceptable level, and never eradicate them completely. As an example, after three passes of editing, and during the formatting stage, I noticed that “St. Pancras Station” in London, had been rendered as “St. Pancreas”! I corrected that, but we still found four or five things that were arguably incorrect after printing. The book concerned currently has 55 reviews and an average 4.4 stars on Amazon, so I think we got away with it.
In the main, because we have to work to a tight budget, we usually get a general line edit and copy edit rolled into one.
You should anticipate costs of at least £10 per thousand words for a decent job of editing. More if your manuscript requires it and a LOT more if you also need a structural edit.
Most editors will edit a few pages of your MS and give you a clear idea of their costs once they know your style and the work likely to be involved. This will also give you a clear indication of the sort of improvements they are likely to make.
We have used a number of editors in particular Sarah Dawes firstname.lastname@example.org who edits all of my (Oliver’s) books. Sarah is my top recommendation. I can wholeheartedly recommend Sarah. She will not only pick up obvious typographical, punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors, as you would expect, but will also fact check all sorts of things, from historical details and anachronisms, to foreign words and phrases (she sent my Latin to her old Latin teacher for marking! Oh the shame!) She will also pick up on continuity errors, and will frequently rewrite clunky sentences in vastly better prose than I could conjure up. (Her experience as a ghostwriter probably comes in useful here).
Helen Baggot edited “And the Wolf Shall Dwell”. Her website is helenbaggott.co.uk/ It is worth noting that Helen works a little differently from most editors usually doing a series of passes for a lower rate per thousand words, and then passing the MS back to the author for approval. This is a useful method for self-published authors on a tight budget because if they feel confident enough in their work that they can get away with only one or two passes of editing, then they may save money. It also allows them to spread out the cost of editing; usually the largest single expense apart from printing, over a period of time.
Another lady who has edited and helped to publish other authors, in Ilfracombe and North Devon, is Paula Good at PG Office Services who offers a range of services beyond editing including formatting and print services.
It is worth noting that all good editors are ruthlessly efficient, but don’t be afraid. They are on your side! I will add others here as and when.
In a perfect world, with unlimited money, you would have three or four separate pairs of eyes, one for each stage of the editing process, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and writers like to eat food just like normal people. You can get a good full editing job done with one editor for around £10-£20 per thousand words (at the time of writing).
Formatting is still partly editing, but is also a separate stage in which the priority is no longer correcting mistakes. This is the part where your raw manuscript, possibly still typed out in double-line spacing and the default font of your word processor, is turned into a beautifully laid out book and exported as a PDF ready for printing. There is a cheap way of doing this which involves pouring your text into a formatting software app and accepting whatever comes out the other side. The better way is to format it properly by human hand and eye. You can learn to do this yourself, or pay someoen like me to do it for you. At the moment I cahrge £1 per 1,000 words, so even if it’s a massive tome of 100k words, you’ll only be forking out a ton. If money is really tight (I know the feeling) then I’ll be writing a “how to format” article soon.
Strictly speaking, the term “proofreading” refers to the process of reading the “proof” copy and checking for any last minute errors, in particular any errors which only manifest themselves when the book is printed. This could include abberrant punctuation or spelling errors that somehow got through the entire process of editing, but it is more about making sure the gutter is wide enough, the pages are all actually assembled correctly* and that everything looks as it should before we give the final instruction to the printer to proceed. This is a step which most self-published authors probably miss but if you can take the time at least to check every page and the front and back cover for any last minute inconsistencies then it may save you an expensive mistake on a long print run.
*Yes, we once had a consignement of books in which the last 64 pages were in the wrong order – not our error, thank goodness!
A famous quotation goes something like “Everyone has a book in them.” and, although the quote goes on to say, “…and in most cases that’s where it should stay.” we at Blue Poppy Publishing think that there are still a lot of great books, both fiction and non-fiction that could and should be published.
A bit about Blue Poppy Publishing, Devon.
I am at great pains to point out that we are not a vanity publisher, but also we are not a traditional publisher either. I guess we are really an “assisted self-publishing” company, suitable for someone who has already decided to self-publish anyway but needs a little extra help.
That means that if we publish your book, we don’t buy the rights, or guarantee sales, but we will help with those aspects of self-publishing that you either can’t or won’t do yourself and, while we try to keep costs to a minimum, it will be you paying the bills just as if you did it all yourself.
Of course, we do still have to make sure we don’t publish a book that isn’t well written, interesting, original and well produced. Every book that carries the “Blue Poppy Publishing” logo will affect the sales of our other books. If it is good, then readers may want to try our other authors. If it is awful they will never forgive us.
Also, we tend only to want to work with authors from our local area, and then again, you might just want to do it all yourself and not involve us at all. So as crazy as it may seem, I’m going to set out some of the things you need to know to self-publish a book in the UK.
This will then link to other articles giving you more detail on each area.
The Basics of Self-Publishing.
Cost of Self-Publishing
Anything from nothing to a few thousand pounds is usual.
You can publish a book for zero cost, but you should be careful. A great deal depends on what your hopes and aspirations are for your book, but even if you only want to print off a few copies for close friends and family, you should at least take the time to ensure your book has been properly edited, even if that just means re-reading what you have written and trying to correct obvious spelling mistakes. You will also need to format the book and create a cover. If you are good at these things already, or are willing to learn, you may be able to do them yourself, although there is an art to book cover design that arguably extends beyond what can realistically be taught.
If you have ambitions to be a professional or semi-professional writer, then you really do need to spend some money to make sure your book is up to scratch. But how much should you spend and who can you trust in a minefield of companies who are out to take your money?
We have certain trusted editors, illustrators, cover designers, and printers whom we have used on previous occasions and I will provide their details. We also offer formatting and cover design and preparation in-house, although I make no claim to being a top cover designer I don’t charge much.
Yes, but how much?
How long is a piece of string? Well here goes.
Basic editing costs, as a rough rule of thumb, £10 per 1,000 words. If your book needs a structural edit and major rewriting then I don’t know because we’ve never done that, all our authors can write a good enough book to start with. For more on editing see here.
Formatting is something you can do yourself, but if you don’t want to learn how, we can format a typical digital manuscript in ‘Word’ for £1 per 1,000 words. If your book needs to be formatted using inDesign it will be more and depends on several factors.
For cover design, again, most people can do this themselves, but if you can’t or don’t want to, you can spend anything from £10 for a plain one-colour cover with the title and author name, to several thousand pounds on a fancy production from a famous cover designer. We would suggest you don’t spend more than £500 though. The most we ever spent was £600 for artwork.
Printing; of course you don’t have to do a print run at all. You can use a Print on Demand (PoD) service, such as Ingram Spark and or Amazon KDP. We like to do a print run if we can though because the unit cost per book works out cheaper; sometimes a lot cheaper.
UK book parameters.
How big should your book be? What type of paper? Which font should you use? These are all questions that plague new self-publishing authors. The problem is there is no single correct answer to any of these type of questions, but there are at least a few possible guidelines you might want to follow.
One option is to take a ruler into a bookshop and measure books similar to the one you have written. I did that. I felt stupid.
If you are talking about a novel, there is one best size for UK distribution. It’s 198mm x 129mm (we also produce some books in 195 x 125 for cost reasons of which more later) Other sizes can be used, but this is the size of most paperbacks you can buy in bookshops.
While on the subject of novels, there is a lot of dispute about how many words constitutes a novel. NaNoWriMo accepts 50,000 words as a full length novel and I’m going to accept that, although a great many novels are from 85-100k words these days. I think that fewer than 50k is a novella, and 10k is a short story.
There are a range of sizes in non-fiction which can include the standard novel size, mentioned above. This is ideal for memoirs and narrative non-fiction for example. Other sizes, such as A4, A5, 9″ x 6″, 10″ x 8″ etc. are also common. A lot will depend on things like how and where you expect people to read the book. A coffee table book will want a large format, whereas a pocket guide to cheese will need to be, well, pocket sized. Who you choose to do your printing may also be a factor in your choice.
With younger children’s books (3-7+ years) all bets are off. They can be all sorts of sizes. That said, a square format 8″ x 8″ is a good starting point. 8″ x 10″ in either landcape or portrait can also work, as can A4 or A5.
Novels for older children (6+ years) will usualy fall into the same category as novels for adults. Rules for children’s non-fiction are equally reflected in those for adults.
If you use a PoD publisher like KDP then you don’t get much choice. You can’t uaully print hardback editions either. If you use a printer you have far more parameters. It’s a minefield of options for different purposes, but the first and biggest choice you have to make is whether to use white paper or cream (or beige or whatever they call it). The choice is relatively simple.
Kids’ picture book? White
I like to use 90gsm instead of the standard 80gsm because a teeny bit more luxury is worth it for a nicer product feel. Will the customer notice? Not consiciously, no; but subconsciously they will.
For children’s books I tend to think 115gsm is preferable, and have even gone to 150 gsm, for example on the luxury edition of “Teeny Tiny Witch”.
This begins to fall under formatting, which is a whole separate subject in itself. As a very rough guide, print books for regular readers should use a “serif” font. I use Garamond for adults and young adult books or Century Schoolbook for children’s books, although others, such as Times New Roman, Georgia, or Palatino are just as good. Note that different fonts look larger or smaller than each other for a given size. Of these Garamond is the smallest, which is why I usually use it at 12pt. Century schoolbook is the largest of those shown here, and I tend to use 12pt for older children (8-12) and 14 point for younger readers (6-10).
For very young children, beginner readers, I prefer to use a simple sans serif font with ‘single story’ A, and G etc. however, following the golden rule of never using ‘Comic Sans’ I searched for alternatives.
Please don’t imagine there are any hard and fast rules for children’s books, but I like to try and give them a fighting chance of reading for themselves by using a familiar and fairly regular font which resembles how they are first taught to write.
If you want to get creative, do it in the headings.
Fonts for reading are clean and simple. It is never a good idea to use any fancy font for the main body text. If you want to use a fancy font on the cover, or in the chapter headings go for it. But even then, don’t go too crazy.
Janet Few, author of our bestselling “Barefoot on the Cobbles” writes and talks on history and genealogy travelling all over the world even as far as New Zealand. However, in this very personal blog post she covers a different subject, that of her grandson (with his parent’s permission) and his Autism and Passive Demand Avoidance, and the difficulties that can cause when interacting with members of the public who don’t understand the condition.
Janet Few’s brilliant historical novel set in Clovelly and surrounding areas at the turn of the 19th century and through the First World War has been going from strength to strength since it’s launch in November of last year.
Now it has been given a Chill With A Book – reader’s award as well as gaining several four and five star reviews on major websites.
Blue Poppy Publishing wish to congratulate Janet on her well deserved award.
One of my characters, Maarten, who appears in “Time Tunnel to West Leighton” and “Time Tunnel to Ironbridge” is autistic.
I have created a hi-resolution image because someone I know wanted to make a poster for their classroom, and I’m sharing it below because I couldn’t get it to go through on Facebook uncompressed. The format is A3 300 dpi so should be easy to convert to PDF for printers.
I (Oliver Tooley) am autistic although I was never diagnosed. Two of my children are diagnosed and they get help to cope with society as it currently operates. Yet, as the words in this image imply, it’s all those neurotypical people who are weird, not us.
I think it’s fair to say this is partly tongue in cheek, but there is a serious note backing it up.
You need to click on the image to open it up full size, then right click to save.
“I’m autistic, which means everyone around me has a disorder which makes them say things they don’t mean, not care about structure, fail to hyperfocus on singular important topics, have unreliable memories, drop weird hints, and stare creepily into my eyeballs.
So why do people treat me as the weird one?
Because there are more of them than people like me.”
Friday the 15th of December
3:30pm – 6:00pm at Ilfracombe Library
Every child (age 0-16) with a valid Devon Library card, who comes to the library in Ilfracombe on Friday 15th December, between 3:30 and 6:00 pm will receive a FREE copy of “Dr Gnaw” the latest Felix Whiter book, and sequel to “For Cats’ Eyes Only”
This event is once again made possible by Ilfracombe’s very own David Tubby. Olli will be there with the illustrator Amii James to sign books. David Tubby won’t be able to make it but he has arranged for none other than Father Christmas himself to be there in his place.
make sure you have a valid library card
Check your card is up to date, or if you don’t have one, head on down to the library and get one. You don’t have to register at Ilfracombe, as long as you have a Devon Libraries card, and are 0-16 years of age, and you come into Ilfracombe Library at the time stated above, you will get your book.
I stopped writing my NaNoWriMo at 17,796 words on day 8
I only started it for a giggle, I was well on target, but the story just didn’t have the legs for 50,ooo words, in my humble opinion.
Actually, perhaps with time or sufficient motivation I could have done it, but I really do have better things to do.
Anyway, I thought I may as well offer up my efforts so you can have a giggle, at my unpolished pantsing.
‘Don’t look back,’ John thought, ‘just keep running’. He crossed the street and a cab screeched to a halt, the driver waving a fist. John looked back. They were gaining. Crowds; crowds were useful, he was small, with a low centre of gravity. He could twist and turn, disappear into crowds, invisible among tall people in heavy cloaks. A marketplace would be great; redolent of spices from the farthest corners of the empire, or a port! Ports were a good place to lose oneself among travellers. There was the entrance to the underground up ahead. People were entering and leaving in large numbers. He focussed his thoughts on reaching the safety of the crowd and put on an extra spurt. A gust of warm stale air rushed up the stairs as he dived among the harried commuters.
“Hey, watch where you’re goin’ asshole!”
A woman crossed his path dragging a bright red case on wheels. He hurdled it like he was a youth, jumping a bonfire. ‘The onlookers roared with approval as John the minstrel leapt the flames to purify his soul…’ his thoughts were interrupted by a man carrying two bags of groceries clasped to his chest between outstretched arms. There was no way to avoid a collision. He was a big man, the look in his eyes spelled murder, but somehow, despite the speed of the collision, nothing was spilled. John cradled the bags as though he was the saviour and not the cause of the whirlwind of chaos that had briefly engulfed the big man. Smiling cheekily, he said, “My lord, you dance divinely, but I must not tarry, I bid you good-day sir.”
And then after a brief involuntary tango, the two men parted, no better acquainted than when they had met, and John sprinted down into the cavernous dungeon where metal serpents roared through tunnels, spewing sparks. The barriers ahead were no obstacle. He slid under them. Timing was everything. He chanced another glance back, he couldn’t see them, but they would surely follow. Another sprint took him onto the train, and then moving along the carriage, between surly teenagers and elderly couples. A man with a bushy red beard, and amateurish tattoos, looked like he might be a Pictish warrior, although the MP3 player and the little earbuds suggested otherwise.
‘Come on doors. CLOSE!’
The background music was fast and intense in his mind, snare drums featured heavily in the mix, power chords, and… was that mandolin? The rhythm was intensifying, it was keeping time with his heartbeat, which was already too fast, but seemed to be getting fasterer. And there they were, sprinting towards the train where he was either a rat in a trap, or safe and sound. It all depended on the doors closing. ‘NOW!’
There were three of them. Warriors of the Eastern steppes, in leather and high boots, he couldn’t see weapons, but of course, they would be sheathed until combat, the blade sharp enough to cut through chain mail. The doors closed; the barbarians were defeated. The serpent moved forwards, slowly at first, then gaining speed, it roared into the labyrinthine tunnels towards the next valley. He fingered the item in his pocket. It seemed alien, a palm sized rectangle of smooth black obsidian. He touched a raised area on the side and the obsidian surface lit up. He slid his finger across the smooth stone and revealed the news that he had no internet connection. John put the phone back in his pocket and tried to focus on what was real and what was not.
The subway train slowed, and John stepped out onto the platform. In his haste, he had gone in the wrong direction. It didn’t matter, he had nowhere special he needed to be. The barriers were attended though. That was awkward, he would need a diversion. He looked around. The platform was deserted. His heart was beating faster again. He could feel it, bursting from his chest.
‘Run into him. The shock will give you time to escape. There’s nobody else around,’ the internal monologue said.
John shook his head. He had already spent most of the day running away from those other guys. He didn’t need to kick their horses, err, bikes. He didn’t need to call them hairy barbarian scum. But he had done it anyway. There was a rushing noise like another train coming into the station. But there was no train, no serpent, no magical sparks, and there was the royal guard, waiting at the gates to the city. He was an outsider, an interloper, outlawed. There was a price on his head, the King himself would surely oversee the torture, unless he could get past un-noticed.
He ran, only he wasn’t running, he was moving as though through treacle, the rushing noise was deafening now. Another metal serpent curved into the station spitting fire, but the sound was drowned out by the waterfall, the roaring screaming noise of water, falling and slowing him down, and then, there was nothing.
It only takes ONE comment from a reader who wants to read chapter 2, and I will post it up for you.
If you don’t want to follow the link, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, and it is now an international event every November when writers take on the challenge of finishing a 50k + word novel in 30 days.
Pros and Cons
First off, I should say that I wasn’t really that fussed about doing it in the first place, but I fancied having a go after deriding the whole idea.
Actually, I seriously don’t know what I feel about this idea. In one way, I can see it is a great way to focus writers’ minds on a deadline, and getting them all to work together and encourage each other; but in another way, I don’t think great novels are written in a month. I’d go so far as to suggest that NO worthwhile novel was EVER written in a month.
Now, I can almost hear you screaming, “But that’s not the point!”
A lot of writers will have plotted aspects of their novel in the months leading up to NaNoWriMo, and anyone who has written anything they want to publish will no doubt put their manuscript through a full editing process before it reaches the market.
Another thing I don’t much like is the constant badgering you to contribute to their “non-profit”. What exactly does my money go to?
Well, it goes towards running the site, and funding educational programs, but at this stage in my writing career, I am the one who needs funding. I think a lot of us probably feel that way too.
OK, so fair enough, nobody forces you to donate, and they do good work with it, but it was a bit incessant; a bit “American”, if I am honest. Anyway, that’s not why I stopped.
Here’s why I stopped.
I decided to be a total purist. I had no need or reason to do NaNoWriMo apart from the curiosity to see if I could write a 50,ooo word novel in a month. So there was no point in using an idea that I was already working on.
I set out with nothing more than a few suggestions from Facebook friends on November the 1st, and I ‘pantsed’* it the whole way.
*New word; “pantsed” verb “to pants” – from the noun “pantser” one who writes by the seat of their pants; as opposed to a “plotter” one who plots the story beforehand.
I got as as far as 17,796 words in the first 8 days when I decided that there was simply not enough meat in the idea for 50,ooo words.
Since it did not matter to me, I stopped. Simple as that.
It was a fairly daft idea, but maybe fun.
Possibly someone might enjoy it, or possibly someone might even want to take it over and make it work. I don’t care. I have too many book ideas, and nothing like enough time.
I am going to post it up on the blog, and even if just one person wants to read it, they can.