The Bookmuse Readers' Journal contains an entertaining selection of spoof stories written in various genres. The ink flowed when I tried my hand at spoof fiction, and I bombarded the editors with my offerings. In the end they chose my cosy crime story, featuring a pet cat who claws items from the local newspaper to provide its owner with clues for solving the mystery.
I would recommend writing spoof fiction to anyone who has writer's block. Spoofs give a writer licence to experiment, treading a fine line between parody and homage. From dukes and highwaymen in a Regency romance, to lugubrious ruminations in the style of Anita Brookner, I forgot my inner censor and enjoyed myself. .
Today, 3 November, fellow author Angela Hayes features me in her round-up of thankful authors. I have much to be thankful for and wrote a tribute to my Dad. Dad left school at 16 and consequently had an exaggerated respect for education, combined with wariness when dealing with educated people. His early encouragement of my yen to write took the form of saying, "You write some peculiar things. Why don't you send something to Radio 3?" BBC Radio 3, in those days, was the natural home of eggheads. I wish I had been brave enough to follow his advice, but in those days I too thought eggheads were superior beings, born different to us ordinary folk.
I never made it onto Radio 3, but have had short pieces on BBC local radio. I wish Dad had been alive to hear them.
Today I received an invitation to submit a romance story to an anthology. If accepted, I would have to pay $597 (£364) to have my story edited, formatted and printed and I would also receive ten "free" print copies. That means each copy would cost me $59.70. For an additional $297 (£185) I could attend a weekend party to launch the book.
Compare this rapacious exercise in vanity publishing with the work of genuine publishers, which bear the full financial risk when they back little known authors. I know from working with the great team at The Wild Rose Press how much work is done behind the scenes.
Bridge House Publishing in England will soon publish its annual anthology. It also plans a launch party in December, to be held in a London pub. I and my fellow contributors will each pay a modest £15 ($24) for lunch, followed by readings and the chance to get to know each other. Not a money-making scam but a nice gesture from an author-friendly publisher.
Writing is a long, lonely slog. If only there was some way of warning would-be authors that success costs time and effort, not money.
My spy in Switzerland today told me The Rescued Heart (set in Basel and Scotland) is on sale at Bider and Tanner, a bookshop in Basel.that carries works in English. A bit of a mystery how a book published in America found its way there. However, I hope any Swiss readers agree that I have written about their city with enduring affection. Basel remains one of my favourite places: small enough to walk everywhere, large enough to have theatres and art galleries. Having France and Germany on the doorstep adds a touch of zest to Swiss reliability and efficiency. If only I could wave a magic wand and be on the spot to sign copies.