Finding the Right Cover

Finding the right cover for your book, is one of the hardest things to do as an Indie author.   There is so much to bear in mind. The cover must convey genre, it must stand out and yet fit in so that anyone picking it up will know that it is a book for children, or women’s fiction, or a thriller. And, of course, you want it to be unique and special just as your book is unique and special.

For “City of Secrets” this was particularly hard as right from the start I had a vivid picture of Letty Parker, a twelve year old pie seller, sitting on the wharf side as the sun set into the river. Great image, but it didn’t say enough, Letty might be the main character, but her friends Jeb, Mango and Gabriel play crucial roles and I wanted something that would suggest the sinister, dark magic that runs through the book.

The next step was a quick trawl through the internet, where I found this picture by Arthur Rackham


The atmosphere was right, but there were no gargoyles or dragons.

Luckily, my sister, Anuk Naumann, is an artist, so I rang her and asked if she could do me a gargoyle. Living near Oxford, the breed of stone creatures was a familiar one, and she responded almost immediately with the picture that became the cover for “City of Secrets”.


To her many thanks. And also to Peter Coleborn who made the painting into a cover. As for the original – it will be framed and have a place of honour in my office, where the gargoyle on the bridge will supervise the writing of the next book in “The Adventures of Letty Parker.”

If you would like to read the first in the series, “City of Secrets” is now out on — eBook – book






Courtyard Garden : Autumn Figs #gardening #courtyardgarden #figs #fruittrees

Jan Edwards

20181015_135702Today, once the rain had stopped, I decided that now autumn is truly here, and most of the leaves have dropped from my fig tree,  it was time to remove the unripened figs.

Despite common myth figs are surprisingly easy to grow in this country. All they need is a sheltered spot, preferably against a south facing wall of fence, and they can produce a surprisingly large crop.

This year we had something like 40 ripe figs from this one small tree. I have grown mine in a  pot as figs tend to fruit more when their roots are restricted. Feed it well come the spring and with luck we shall get another good crop next season. Books will tell you to wrap fleece around them during hard winters, but I have had this tree for 12 years, through 2 house moves in the North Midlands, and never had to do…

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Ghosts at the Gladstone


On Saturday we held our annual reading café at the Gladstone, when local writers from a variety of writing groups come together share their stories, or extracts from their books. This year’s theme was “Ghosts at the Gladstone” and we had a great selection of chilling tales of spine tingling horror. Or in some cases amusing stories of Glaswegian ghosts, or Brummie ghost hunters, or Flo who accidentally spreads death wherever she goes.

Gladstone 3

On a grey, October day, the Gladstone was the perfect location for dimming the lights, drawing the blinds and letting yourself face the primal fears of darkness and death. Outside the windows, the solid bulk of the bottle kilns rose into a pewter sky; the wind beat and howled and sirens screeched.

Bring on Halloween!


Our readers, June Palmer, Debbi Voisey, Jan Edwards, Peter Coleborn, Nic Hale, Mick Walters, Margaret Moxon and Dawn Weeks. Front row, me, Jem Shaw, Sue Eaton, Pauline Woodhouse and Bev Adams.

And last, but not least, many thanks to the staff at the Gladstone for hosting our event.

#Friday Favourites: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


The Night CircusDeep in the middle of the world I am building in “City of Secrets” I was drawn to this novel    by its promise of magic and enchantment.

“The circus arrives without warning” it begins, pulling the reader into to its dark and convoluted world where nothing is what it seems, either for those who come to the Night Circus, or the performers themselves. Everything is a game within a game, a labyrinth of stories that weave and merge together. Time is fractured adding to the sense of unreality as we move backwards and forwards through the years of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Also known as “Le Cirque des Reves” is the circus nothing more than a dream? It can only be entered at night, in the morning it disappears as mysteriously as it arrived and its most dedicated followers, who spend their lives attending its shows, if shows they can be called, because many, like the Ice Garden, are more of an installation, are known as reveurs. This a question posed, but never answered.

I love the strangeness of it all: the vivid depiction of the circus with its black and white big top, the smaller tents within it, each containing its own illusion and the performers who use magic and illusion to beguile and dazzle.

The novel is also a love story and for me this is where it did not quite hold its spell as I was never totally convinced by the two lovers. The characters I enjoyed most, were the twins Poppet and Widget, the red-haired twins who were born on the opening night and whose fate was inextricably linked with that of the circus and Bailey, the farm boy, who sneaks in one night and from then on is part of their world.

On the whole, however, I was fascinated by this book and having read it once might well go back to relive the experience of “The Night Circus.”



Butterflies in Hobnail Boots


There are “butterflies in hobnail boots stamping about in my insides” as Letty Parker would say. Letty, the main character in “City of Secrets” has a way with words and I like this analogy because it sums up both the flutter of excitement and the twist of nerves go with launching a book.

On the one hand, I can’t wait to hold the finished product in my hand. The cover is beautiful. The picture painted by my sister, Anuk Naumann, is just right and Peter Coleborn has done a brilliant job in turning it into a book cover.

Book CoverThe The insides, in the proof, look pretty good too and the story, according to my beta-readers, really grips and carries you along.

All good, so far, but in the depths of three o’clock in the morning, the nerves, like the Barbary eels that lurk in the shadows of my “City of Secrets”, start to stir. Have I done enough marketing? Will anyone buy/read/like my book? Should I give up the whole idea and retire to bed with the duvet pulled firmly over my head?

In the broad light of day it’s comforting to know that I am not the only writer who has been plagued by doubt.

At the launch of her new thriller “Hush Hush” best-selling author Mel Sherrratt said the scariest thing she’s ever done was to press the button to self-publish her first novel. “City of Secrets” is not my first book; it’s not even my first book for children but every time one of my novels makes it out into the world, this is something I have to go through. It’s a little like stage fright: that moment in the wings before you step out into the limelight and all I can do at this point is to wish Letty and friends “good luck”.