Thursday, 29 December 2011

Surprise!

Yes, when I think about everything that's happened in 2011, the word 'surprise' seems to sum it all up nicely!
   This time last year I had just set up the writers' group Writebulb with my friends Stuart, Brigid and Jane and we were looking forward to our first meeting. Throughout my life I'd always written but never thought I'd ever be published; I'd let very few people read my writing, I'd barely heard of a Kindle and although I used the internet I knew nothing about social networking.
   The turning point came when Stuart asked Penelope Fletcher to speak to the Writebulb group about her work. I can honestly say that until that point I'd never even heard the phrase 'indie author'! I still have an image of me sitting there, listening to her speak, scribbling down everything she said about putting your work on the web - what an inspiration she was (and still is) to me! I remember thinking 'I can do that'. So I did. I rushed home, dug out a story I'd written some years ago for my son, worked hard on it and then self published.
   I'm now on the point of publishing my third Burly and Grum book. The second book, The Secret City, has been downloaded over 22,000 times just in the month of December from amazon.com. I haven't made any money so far but I have to say that I've learnt an incredible amount!
   I have surprised myself on so many levels. I bought a Kindle (love it just as much as I love 'real' books!), created this blog when I'd never even read a blog before, cursed and sweated as I set up the Burly & Grum website and Facebook page. I'd never understood Twitter but set up an account and have started tweeting and I've also given interviews (BBC Radio Essex and the GMTA literary community). I have published my books on Smashwords and personally, I can't say enough good things about Mark Coker who heads it up, he really leads the way for us indie authors. I've also self published on Amazon, found out about ITIN numbers, visited the US Embassy and I'm just about to put my books into print - it's been quite a journey!
   Every single one one of those statements above could start with the words "I surprised myself by...."
   But the biggest single surprise this year has been how supportive and wonderful people are. So many people have given me their help without asking anything in return - Rob (the incredibly talented artist who has brought Burly and Grum to life), Stuart, who has helped me in my struggles with technology, Richard Farr who is helping with the design of the book covers, Linda Palmer who has just put her hand up and said she'll do the editing, Kitty Bullard from the Great Minds Literary Community (thank you for the great reviews Kitty!), Penelope Fletcher who is so inspiring, Mark from Witherbys done so much scanning for me, Joanne from the Born Free Foundation and all my family and friends - Angus my son (who has been very patient), Dawn and Eddie, Carol, Anna, Gemma, Heather - everyone has been so supportive. Thank you all and one day I hope I'll be able to surprise you all by being able to pay you back with more than just a cup of coffee!
   As 2011 ends I feel as though I've accomplished a huge amount and if you've managed to read through this far, it will come as no surprise to you that in 2012 I'll be working just hard to learn, improve and make the Burly & Grum books as good as they can be!
   Wishing you all a most wonderful New Year!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Happy Christmas from Burly and Grum!


Christmas is coming! Yes, my first Burly and Grum Christmas - I'm very excited and hope there will be many more to come! As you can see from the picture, they've been getting into the festive spirit and have been practising their cracker pulling technique (Burly nearly always manages to get the end with the little gift!). 
    This last week I somehow picked up a rotten head cold and have been feeling very sorry for myself but, through streaming eyes, managed to tweak the Burly and Grum website so it looks quite festive now. Web design isn't my strongest point and I have to admit that I was very relieved to get a snowflake effect without too many problems! I also printed out some Burly and Grum Christmas cards and have given them away but next year I'd like to be a little better prepared and have Christmas cards and calendar ready to sell.
   Meanwhile, I've finished the third book, Burly & Grum and The Birthday Surprise and hope to have it out in the New Year (I'll keep you posted). There are more colourful characters in this book, a bit of adventure and a few surprises. I've been so pleased that those who have proof read it have fed back that they think it's the best so far. I know I enjoyed writing it - I'm definitely getting to know Burly and Grum a little better with each book and am feeling more and more comfortable writing about their adventures. Over the Christmas break I have to give some serious thought to marketing because although the downloads are still very healthy (over 5,500 so far this month) and I'm very happy that people are reading them, it would be nice to actually earn some money!
    So although I'll still be working hard over the Christmas break I will find time to kick back and celebrate Burly and Grum style (eating a lot and getting into trouble!). From myself, Burly and Grum - we hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends! 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Downloads, Front Covers and Proofs!

This has been such an interesting week!
   On 30th November I checked the number of downloads from Amazon.com and discovered that 6,666 copies of The Secret City had been downloaded during the month. I did a little swivel of happiness on my office chair and then started hoping that those people who have downloaded it actually like it!
   The proof copies of Beyond the Forest and The Secret City arrived the next day and I've been going through them with a fine toothcomb. It's so helpful having a printed copy to hand because not only can I visually see what needs tweaking format-wise to make the book look better but I've picked up a couple of typos I'd missed. (Tsk - how could I have missed them?)
   And on an even more positive note, I've met up with the most wonderful graphic designer, Richard Farr, who is going to help me improve the covers of the books. I felt that the backs of the books were just not up to scratch and with only Mircrosoft Publisher to work with, I was becoming frustrated because I couldn't do what I wanted and make them look the way I had in my mind's eye.
   But Richard has the tools, the technology, the training - way to go Richard!  We met last weekend and went through what needed to be done and he's already sent a draft of the Secret City cover with some of his ideas. It looks much more professional, more appealing and I'm very pleased indeed - I knew I was falling way short but it wasn't until I saw his draft version that I realised just how amateur mine was! 
  So all in all, things are good. This week I'll be editing and tweaking the third book and, fingers crossed, it will be out in a few weeks. I have to say that I'm looking forward to the New Year and whatever it brings!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Happy Days and Biscuit Tins!

Yay - oh happy days! I've finally finished the first draft of the third Burly and Grum book. A round of applause, please!
   Yes, the auspicious moment happened at just past one this morning; I'd got so caught up in writing that I hadn't realised the time; everyone in the house including the cats had given up and gone to bed by the time I typed that last full stop. As I saved the document and then pottered about making a cup of tea, I felt a great sense of achievement, and when I finally got to bed I slept like a log.
   Waking up this morning wasn't easy and yes, I did nap on the train journey into London. I had a busy day at work and didn't have time to feel tired, and now I'm home and flagging a bit - I need a biscuit, that's what I need - bit of sugar to keep me going!  Maybe I'll start the editing tomorrow....
   And that's what I'd like to talk about today - editing. As much as I love writing I find I put off editing. I'm using the blog as an excuse today, tomorrow it'll be something else - I've even been known to do the ironing rather than start the editing process. And why do I hate it so much? Because I know that once I start there'll be no stopping me, I'll tweak text, tweak it some more, and will probably spend more time 'improving' it than I did writing it! Does anyone else do that and, if so, is there a cure? I just lose all perspective once I start! Editing is a never ending process and I sometimes wonder just what I would have done if I'd have been a writer before the invention of the computer. Would I have been less fussy or would the process just have taken even longer?
   I'll start the editing tomorrow. Promise.
   Just one last thing before I go and raid the biscuit tin - I have an  author interview on http://dreamsofalifeinthecountry.blogspot.com/2011/11/author-interview-with-kate-tenbeth.html and I'd like to thank Gem for inviting me on her blog post. She's a lovely lady who I met on the daily commute into London, which just goes to show that there's a bright side even to commuting!
  Right - to the biscuit tin!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Waking up and getting going!

I feel that after a quiet period, things are really getting going again.
    You may remember that about ten weeks ago I went through the process of trying to obtain an ITIN number (to do with American tax...); I'd been told it was very difficult to obtain because of the all the red tape, but the man at the American Embassy was very helpful and off the form was sent.  Well, it may have taken a few weeks, but I finally have my ITIN number. Now I just need to sell some books! The Secret City on Amazon.com is still free and last month over 3,000 were downloaded which I'm happy about; I'm very grateful that people are reading the books and giving me positive feedback, but there's a small part of me that says ooh, how wonderful would it be if I were to get some money as well! One day maybe!
    Also this week, I received the improved scanned images and I'm so pleased that I decided to wait for them before sending off for the proof copy of the print version of both books. I've replaced all the old images with the 300dpi ones and although the older images were good, the new ones are so much crisper and sharper. Both books are looking good, and I can't wait to see them in print. I'm also going to work my way through the website and facebook page to replace the images because I want Burly and Grum to be the very best they can be!
    I have been asked to give an author interview by Gem, who is a fellow commuter and writes the blog http://dreamsofalifeinthecountry.blogspot.com/. I think it's pretty amazing and wonderful that people are interested in what I'm doing and are trying to help me. Thank you Gem - I'm working on my replies to your questions!
    I'm not taking part in NaNoWriMo but the majority of my writing buddies in the Essex area are, and to them I say well done, keep up the word count - you will reach 50,000 words!
    Book three is really coming together now. It's interesting that as the books go on I can feel their characters developing and it's getting easier to know their reaction to situations. I'm really enjoying writing so things are looking good. This week will be busy and my energy levels are high - I'll be updating, writing, networking - I'll let you know how everything is going!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Those Simple Bear Necessities

Last weekend I was very happy - I had a whole week's leave to look forward to and although I'd made a list of Burly and Grum things to do, I knew I could do it all at my own pace and take my time. Usually I work all day, come back home and then start all over again on Burly and Grum (there's always something to do!), so it was a great treat just knowing I could kick back and do things at a speed slightly less than sound.
   I think I may have kicked back too much! I'm going back to work tomorrow, and according to my my list I still haven't done half of the things I wrote down.  
   I'd planned to finish the third book in the Burly & Grum series but I'm only just over half the way through. I intended to sort out a marketing plan and that hasn't even been started (although some thinking has been taking place in the background...). I was going to upgrade the black and white drawings to a higher quality resolution so I could then send off for the second proof but that never happened (I do have an excuse there because the person who is scanning the images hasn't done them as yet).  Ho hum. So why am I not feeling guilty? I'm not really sure but I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm feeling so relaxed I'm almost horizontal!  The 'bear' necessities of life were all I needed this week - plenty of sleep, lots to eat, good company - it's been fun. I'll leave guilt until tomorrow when I'm back at work...
   PS: I should say that what I have written of the third book I've really loved and there was a lot of laughing going on as I was typing. Burly and Grum go to the beach and, of course, they get into trouble again - there's a pirate, a crab with attitude, stolen gold, a detective and Burly has a cool set of shades. Oh yeah, it's good!
  

Monday, 24 October 2011

EXCLUSIVE! BURLY AND GRUM'S FIRST INTERVIEW - READ IT HERE!

When Kitty Bullard of Great Minds Think Aloud Literary Community
asked Burly and Grum if they would like to take part in an interview they didn't hesitate! Read below...


Kitty Bullard from Great Minds Literary Community enters the chat room designated for this exclusive interview with a smile, offering her hand first to Burlington Bear and then to Grum the Groblin. Slightly taken aback at Grum's appearance she does her best to show no sign of this and her smile never falters. "It is so nice to finally meet you both. When Kate told me you were interested in doing an interview I was extremely excited."

Glancing at Grum again she clears her throat. It's odd being in a room with two so very diverse characters; while having the urge to wrap her arms around Burly and give him a big hug, she is a little worried that Grum may be interested in seeing if she tastes good.

Settling in a chair she shuffles her papers and begins.

"Burly, may I call you Burly? I was wondering if you could tell us what it's like living inside the very imaginative mind of Kate Tenbeth?

Burly smiles at Kitty and when he speaks his voice is deep but mellow. “Well, first of all thank you very much for inviting us here Kitty and yes, please do call me Burly. We’re both delighted to be able to come here and talk to you aren’t we Grum?” Grum is sitting next to Burly and is obviously trying to sit still but it’s difficult and he’s swinging his legs. “But I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight,” Burly continues, his voice taking on very serious tone and he sits upright. Kitty leans forward in anticipation of some juicy news. “We are real,” states Burly firmly.

Kitty raises her eyebrows in astonishment.

“Yes, I’m real and Grum is real - we are not imaginary. We met Kate not long after we’d visited the human town. She’s a friend of Mike’s and had popped around for tea and cake when Grum and I were there as well and we ended up telling her the whole story - how we met, what happened in town, etc. For some reason, she seemed to think that humans would love to hear about it and asked if she could write it up. I didn’t think anything about it until I saw myself on the front cover of her first book. So what you’re reading is not the result of Kate’s imagination - it all really happened. And Grum, please stop swinging your legs and sit still.”

Kitty is truly amazed. “So you really are real?”

“Absolutely - always have been, always will be.”

Kitty addresses her next question to Grum and wonders what other surprises are in store. She’s a still little nervous of Grum and hopes the question doesn’t make him cross.

"Grum, I wanted to know the same from you, but I also wanted to ask about your um... brothers. I know they seem to tease you a lot but do you have a good relationship with them otherwise?”

She hopes this subject doesn't make him grumpy as she knows his brothers are something of a cause of his turmoil at times. Burly seems to be reassuring as he glances at her and she can feel the warmth he radiates. If it were possible to fall in love with a bear who is one of the main characters of a story then Burly would definitely be her choice.

Grum shuffles about in his chair and thinks hard. “Grimly and Gripe? Well, when I was a grob....”

“Er, sorry Grum,” interrupts Kitty, “what’s a grob?”

“A grob - you know a young groblin...”

“Oh, of course,” nods Kitty. “Please go on.”

“Well, when I was a grob, they were okay - mostly ignored me really but then when I got a bit older and wanted to hang out with them that’s when they became mean - said I spoilt their games which is rubbish. Mum used to make them take me places but they’d always lose me - if I ever have a younger brother I’m never going to do that. Not ever. Anyway, they’re okay now.”

"Burly, I have heard you are extremely inquisitive and curious. Can you tell us about times where your curiosity has gotten you into a jam?”

Burly laughs out loud. “I’ve always been curious, always off exploring and getting into trouble even when I was a cub - once when I’d just started learning how to catch fish I was swept downstream for miles and it took my father a day to find me.”

“Tell her about the time you got your nose stuck in a jar, that was really funny!” says Grum.

“Okay,” nods Burly, “I guess that was a bit funny... I was at Mike’s, and Tyre - you know Tyre, Mike’s assistant? He’d been trying to help a deer with an upset stomach and had made up some medicine which he’d mixed with honey to make it taste nicer without realising that deer hate honey...”

“...he should have tried smooth peanut butter,” interrupts Grum, “deer love peanut butter.”

“Anyway,” continues Burly, “he left the mixture in a jar by the slide, I came along and smelt it and just couldn’t resist...”

“...he put his nose right in the jar,” Grum roars with laughter, “and then couldn’t get it off! Walked around wtih it stuck on his nose until Tyre came back and pulled it off!”

“You could have helped,” points out Burly.

“Nuhuh, it was way too much fun watching you,” replies Grum with a grin.

Kitty offers a smile to Grum.

"Grum, tell us how you feel about Burly. I hear he's your best friend yet you are so different from one another. Do you ever argue a lot?”

“We never argue,” says Grum happily. Burly raises his eyebrows. “Burly’s my best friend and we get on no matter what.”

Kitty can't remember when she has been so nervous doing an interview and wipes her sweating palms along her slacks as she listens to Grum speak.

"Burly, there isn't much mentioned about your family. I'd like to know more about them if you'd be so kind as to tell us.”

Burly smoothes down his shining fur and replies with pride. “My family all live in the Great Forest - my mother and father, my two older brothers and my sister, but we bears need lots to eat so we each have our own large territory and tend to stick to that although, of course, we get together for birthdays, holidays, that sort of thing. My brothers are a lot older and live a lot further north where it’s colder and tend to keep themselves to themselves. But my sister, Ginny, well, she’s even more famous than me. She campaigns for the charity Born Free which helps animals who are in trouble and she’s well known all over the world.”

"Grum, tell us more about yours and Burly's friends, Mike and the young boy that sometimes hangs out with you both.”

“Well, Max’s ok, not bad for a human I suppose - he sticks up for himself and isn’t afraid of much but the food he eats,” Grum makes a face, “ugh, I don’t know how he can even touch it, it smells so gross. And Mike - I wasn’t sure of him at first because he’s so shiny but he always makes me the best crispy fried earwigs ever.” Grum pauses and looks about. “My mum isn’t going to find out I said that is she?” he asks, his hands reaching protectively over his large ears.

Starting to relax Kitty listens intently and grasps the handles of the bag at her feet shifting it to the opposite side. She wonders if Grum can smell the gifts she's brought for them both. She's sure a creature with such a large nose would have a very keen sense of smell. Trying hard not to let the warts on it make her stare she smiles still. Trying to use her charm after Grum finishes with his answer she glances back to Burly.

"Now Burly, I have heard it said that you do not care to disclose your age. Though I can't tell you how honored I'd be if you were to at least give us a hint in this interview."

Burly’s eyes sparkle with amusement. “I’m younger than my brothers and I’m definitely in my prime but I’m afraid I can’t say any more than that, a bear has to have some secrets.”

"Grum I have heard that you are your mother's favorite. Do you think it's because you are the youngest or just because you are so much braver than your brothers? I'd also like to know more about the Griff clan and any friends you have there.”

Grum grins widely. “I think mum’s life must have been boring before me - she often says she’s sure she used to have a nice peaceful life before I came along - so that’s got to be why I’m her favourite. The Griff clan’s quite small, there’s only about 300 of us but there are loads of other clans all over the place. We don’t have school or anything like that, which is great but mum makes us work hard. If I get free time I go hang out with my friends and go for a soak in the local mud bath.”

The more Kitty listens to Grum talk the more she starts to find him endearing... and even somehow cute.

"Now my last question is for Burly, do you like to cuddle?"

“I love all hugs, cuddles and most definitely a good tummy scratch,” says Burly firmly.

Kitty had a look of hope in her eyes, and was determined she was going to hug this great fluffy teddy bear before she left this interview. After Burly had answered she stood and placed the bag on the chair she had recently sat in, opening it up. "I have brought you both some gifts. Grum, for you I have a rotted ham, and a new skateboard." She pulled both out and handed them over.

“Yay! that is so cool - look Burly! A skateboard - I can go down Mike’s slide extra fast now!” yells Grum.

“You are NOT to use that on the slide,” Burly replied quickly. “Not now, not ever, okay?”

"Burly I have brought you a jar of honey and a salmon. This is my thank you for allowing me this interview, it has been wonderful speaking with you both.”

Burly’s mouth waters and he takes the gift eagerly. “Thank you Kitty, they smell wonderful” he says politely. “It’s been lovely talking to you too.”

Smiling, Kitty looked at Burly, and could not contain herself any longer. "Can... can I have a hug?" He just looked so cuddly she just had to ask. Not intending to leave Grum out and having grown quite accustomed to him she turned and held out her arms.... would he accept?

Burly ambled over towards Kitty but Grum jumped on his skateboard and scooted quickly along, beating him to it and wrapped his long arms around Kitty and hugged her hard. “Brilliant present, my brothers are going to be soooo jealous - thanks!” He yelled in her ear. Kitty smiled faintly but hugged Grum right back.

Burly put out a large paw and pulled Grum off Kitty. “Not too rough Grum,” he said sternly. “Now, let’s have group hug.” And so the three of them hugged each other until Grum broke free. “Got to go,” he said, “mum’ll kill me if I’m late. Bye Kitty - I’ll bring you some crispy fried earwigs next time, they’re brilliant.”

“I’d better go as well,” said Burly. “Bye Kitty - keep writing those great reviews and thanks again.”

Kitty gave a small wave of her hand and watched as Burly and Grum left the chat room.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Burly & Grum Logo!

Since I last wrote, I think I may have spent almost every lunchtime in Waterstones looking at the design and format of the covers of children's books so I can get ideas on how to improve my own two books.
    Having the proof copies has really made me focus and I want my books to be as professional and as appealing as possible. One thing I noticed almost immediately was the fact I had nothing on the spine of my books so I asked Rob if he could design a logo for Burly & Grum to help improve its identity - I'd like people to look along bookshelves and immediately spot the Burly & Grum books (yes, I know I've got a long way to go before I'm on any bookshelf, but I can dream!).
   I really love the design - how anyone can give a letter of the alphabet character is beyond me but he's managed it beautifully. B looks like Burly and G looks like Grum! Pretty cool eh? Thank you Rob!
  So I'm now working once more on the covers, tidying them up, improving them (I hope...) and I've also corrected all the mistakes on the text (I say again - I hope...) and am almost ready to press the button and send off for the second proof copy.  If I can find a way to copy the covers from Publication I'll pop them up on the blog so you can see what they look like.
  I've also been working away on book three but a couple of days ago I realised I'd gone astray a bit and that I'd have to rework a large chunk. I'm looking forward to the week after next because I have some time off work and can sit and solidly concentrate on writing - it's very difficult to keep a sense of continuity in the plot when some days I can only write for half an hour or so. I'm looking forward to getting my head down and writing - I'll let you know how it all goes!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The proof is in the printing!

The proof versions of my books finally arrrived last week and I have to say that I was (and still am) very impressed by the quality of the printing. I'm not sure quite what I was expecting but, as I looked them over, I knew they could hold their own against books which are more conventionally published. I made a quick dash into Waterstone's one lunch hour just to double check and yes, the two Burly & Grum books would look darn good up there on the shelves!
     Once the copies had been duly admired and shown to everyone, out came the pen to make all the necessary corrections. It's amazing how much easier it is to edit a book when it looks like a book! For example, looking at them made me immediately realise that single line spacing wasn't going to work and I changed to one and a half line spacing. I've also removed end of line justification. Hopefully, making these changes will make it easier for children to read the stories.
     The two books have now been edited to within an inch of their lives although, having said that, my friend James pointed out that I'd missed the 'r' out of the word 'brother'. Do you know how many times I've read that book?! Just how I missed it I've no idea but I have a feeling that one or two more typos could still lurking within the pages somewhere just waiting to embarrass me at some point!
      Now I'm just waiting for the pictures to be rescanned at a higher quality and then I'll resubmit the books to Createspace and then - yes, they'll be real - people will be able to buy print versions! 
     Sometimes I feel as if I'm moving very slowly through this whole process and other times I look back over the last few months and think I've accomplished a great deal. Although the Secret City is still being downloaded at a very healthy rate from Amazon.com I have to work on a marketing plan for the books, especially here in the UK, so that when I start charging money they won't fall flat on their faces. Hopefully by Christmas the third book, the print version and the audio versions will all be ready and people will want to buy them. It would be a nice ho ho ho sort of moment if they were!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

A bear with a sore head...

Head colds! Why hasn't anyone found a cure for a head cold yet? I'm just coming to the end of one and I'm amazed (and a bit fed up) at how much it's affected me - I just haven't been able to think - I've come home from work at the end of each day and instead of being filled with the joys of spring at the thought of sitting down and writing, have just drooled and snuffled on the sofa (sorry to have imposed that image on you!).
   The third Burly & Grum book has suffered and I'm only just able to think about progressing the story. Having been like a bear with a sore head I was thinking about giving Burly a head cold but maybe that would be a bit mean of me? I'll think about it! 
   Even though I've been quiet the books have been busy and almost two and a half thousand copies of Burly & Grum and the Secret City have been downloaded this month on Amazon.com, and Beyond the Forest has now reached 500 downloads on Smashwords! People are reading the Burly & Grum Tales - yay! (I only hope they like them...)
   I've got to give careful thought to marketing now. I'm progressing with making the books available on audio but am still waiting for hard copies of the first two books to arrive from Createspace so I can proof them. I'd really like to have printed versions and audio versions of the books available by Christmas. Oh, and that includes the third book in the Burly & Grum Tales! Good job my headcold is now over and done with because I think I'm going to be busy. 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Forget the admin - let's party!

I'm feeling a bit more upbeat this week! I've (sort of) solved the 300 dpi problem of last week and am now waiting for printed copies of the two books to arrive hot off the press from the States. Eeep! - hopefully the quality will be good, if not a lot of sobbing and gin drinking will take place... I'll tell you next week how they've turned out.
   Tomorrow afternoon I'm hoping to solve the problem of the W-7 form and will be making my way to the American Embassy where I've been assured that a very nice member of staff will help me fill it in. Properly. In blue ink (not black).
  For those of you who don't know what a W-7 is, it's a form you have to fill in if you don't want to be hit by the 30% American tax rate - always handy for those of us who also have to pay UK tax. Although filling in a form may sound easy, apparently the W-7 can be a trial on a par with the labours of Hercules, and I have it on good authority from other writers that it can take up to 8 months to process. I do hope that the people at the American embassy are kind to me...
    But more importantly than all that is the fact that I'm really getting into the third Burly & Grum tale. I'm loving the fact that I the characters are developing and I'm becoming more and more comfortable with them. I'm laughing a lot as I type which is (I think) a good sign. A beach party is on the cards this time although I'm uncertain how Burly's going to cope with all that sand in his fur. Maybe Grum will have a pair of snazzy shorts - who can say? A lot can happen on a beach!
   So, as you can see, despite all the W-7s, dpi and goodness knows what else, I'm still loving the writing and frankly that's what counts. Now, enough rambling and on with the beach party! 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Who'd have thought dots would be so important?

You may have noticed that I've been a bit quiet over the past week. Unusual I know. I've been busy trying to use Createspace, i.e. converting my ebooks into 'proper' printed books. If you look at the picture of Grum, that'll tell you how it's been going.
    Both of my Burly & Grum books are ebooks at the moment but I've had a lot of feedback over the last few weeks from parents, and the majority of them tell me that they still prefer to read printed books to their children and actually, I have to agree that there is nothing quite like sitting down with your child and reading to them. I've just been putting off doing the conversion to print because I had this sneaking feeling in the pit of my stomach that it wouldn't be straightforward and hey, guess what, my gut feeling was spot on!
    Don't get me wrong, Createspace is great, it gives you all the tools and templates but the problem with my books is the fact I have quite a few drawings in the body of the text. 
    I spent one weekend doing the conversion. I designed a jacket cover for each book and worked hard on the content to ensure it was as perfect as possible before sending them off for the first part of the review process. It took less than 24 hours for Createspace to come back and tell me that some of the pictures were not of a good enough quality, that the dpi (dots per square inch) were below 300. If I wanted sharp, quality pictures I had to get them above the 300 mark. 
    There was no way I could let either Burly or Grum be fuzzy so I took a deep breath, sat down at the computer once more and painstakingly went through the drawings again and again trying to improve the quality. 
    I sent the books off for a second time but the feedback once more was polite but to the point - some of the the drawings are apparently still below 300dpi. Mind you, I have to stand and do a little cheer at this point because I had actually managed to improve the quality of the majority of drawings so it wasn't all bad (I'll just keep tell myself that!).
    Anyway, I'm going to keep plugging away at this - I just needed a breather before delving back into the world of dpi... wish me luck folks!  
    

Sunday, 28 August 2011

A Postcard from Kate

Yes, I've been on holiday for the last week - I visited my sister who lives on the Isle of Wight. In the very best possible way, my sister is like Daffodil and tries to look after my best interests by cooking me wonderful meals, making me go for long walks and generally encouraging me to relax. 
   Despite the fact I had my sister looking after me and the Isle of Wight is not exactly bear country, I still couldn't get away from Burly and Grum - downloads of The Secret City continued to steadily rise (over 5,300 now), I had my first author interview by the wonderful Kitty Bullard from Great Minds Think Aloud blogspot (and a great deal of fun it was too!), I updated the Burly & Grum website with Stuart's help (finally cracked the Facebook like link!), I've started work on the third book and am now formatting the first two books for print on demand. 
     I'm trying to keep my logical head on when I think of the breath-taking number of downloads I've had for the Secret City as Beyond the Forest is only just into double figures! It will only be when those who have downloaded The Secret City have actually read the story and then actively search for other books I've written, will I know whether I've been successful or not.
   However, I'd like to digress for a moment and go back to Great Minds Think Aloud. I first came across this group when I joined Goodreads and they kindly invited me to join their Facebook Literary Community. I'd recommend this group to any aspiring author; the organisers take a genuine interest in your work, give you a platform to tell people about your writing and the opportunity to meet other authors. They are extremely positive and very welcoming and have been very supportive to me so thank you GMTA!
   When I first set out to become an indie author I had no idea how eventful it would be, how supportive other writers were, how many skills I'd have to learn and I certainly had no idea just much it would take over my life. Next year it'll all be under control and I'm going to have a proper holiday away from it all! (Did you believe that?!)
  
  

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Burly & Grum and the Secret City - ranked 152 on Amazon.com!

Last week I wrote about the quickly changing dynamics of the publishing industry and the impact ebooks are having on it. This week I've felt the full force of the power of social media networking.
   On Tuesday, I popped into my kindle publishing account to see how my books were doing. I don't go very often because, to be honest, I don't sell very many - the Smashwords site is where I usually have a greater number of books downloaded. To my amazement the figures on Amazon.com showed that over 2,300 copies of Burly & Grum and the Secret City had been dowloaded. I ran around in little circles and then lay down on the floor before writing to Amazon to check whether or not there had been a mistake!
   Burly & Grum and the Secret City is now ranked 152 on amazon.com (it was 93 earlier this week) and as of this morning over 4,300 people have downloaded it! This all happened because one site PixelofInk picked up my book via Penelope Fletcher. Thank you Penelope and PixelofInk!
   However, heaven forbid I should get big headed and just to keep myself grounded, Beyond the Forest has sold 7 and is ranked 46,227 on Amazon!!
   Just to keep myself even more grounded, I hadn't realised that even though I'd listed the Secret City to sell at .99c, Amazon matched the price with Smashwords and Barnes & Nobel where my books are free so I've made no money. But then if it had been priced at .99c, the chances are that no one would have downloaded it. So I'm very happy - people are reading my work and I can't ask for any more than that.
   On Thursday I was interviewed by Steve Scruton on BBC Essex. I spoke about indie authors and the writing group Ithat I'm part of here in Chelmsford. Although I've previously worked on radio, I was on the production side so I was very nervous about being live on air and spent the morning pacing and talking to myself! I didn't have to be nervous though, Steve put me at my ease and the time sped by - it was all quite painless although I have to admit I haven't  been brave enough to listen to it yet! 
   Yes, it's been an exciting and wonderful week and I'm looking forward to what the next week has to offer.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Changing dynamics of the publishing industry, ie. learning to move fast enough

I forgot my kindle today and felt somewhat bereft on my way into work - it's hard to believe that six months ago I didn't even know what a kindle was!
So with 40 minutes to kill I sat on the train and thought about how much I've learnt over the last few months, especially about social media networking and marketing, and how excited I am by it all.  When I say 'all' I mean the ongoing dramatic changes in the publishing world and the opportunities for indie writers. People like myself are grasping the opportunity to self publish with huge enthusiasm and energy.
Meanwhile, publishing companies and literary agents have been slow to grasp the fact that self published writers can, if they have enough talent and dedication, become successful without their help. As more and more indie writers like Louise Voss are hitting the headlines with their success it is an issue that publishers have to face up to. Or are they already being smart? In theory, now all the publishers and agents just have to sit and wait for dynamic authors to do all the hard work to get to the top of the pile and then step in with an offer. Some indie authors love the social media and marketing side of their business, some just want to write and have the security of a large organisation support them.  On the other side of the fence meanwhile, long established authors are rebelling against publishers and, seeing what royalties indie authors can achieve, are demanding a higher percentage, better services. It's all fascinating stuff and it's going to become even more complex and fascinating as time goes on.  I'm looking forward to it!
If you're interesting in the changing dynamics of the publishing world read Mark Coker's presentation - Literary Agents' ebook Roadmap - it really does give you a lot to think about.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Marketing Bears and Groblins

It's the end of another busy week and I've had a lot to think about. With the release of the second book in the Burly and Grum series I decided to experiment and offered both books free on Smashwords.  The result has been that more copies have been downloaded in one week than have been downloaded in the previous three months.  Although this is good because the books are being read by a wider audience I keep coming back to the same problem, i.e. how do I effectively market them? The children's ebook market is notoriously difficult to break into with the majority of parents still prefering to have hard copy of books to read to their children (and I have to say I do empathise with this!). So how do I find those parents who are willing to take the next step and encourage their children to use a Kindle, an ipad, etc.to read?  There's lots of advice regarding the marketing of ebooks but the children's market does have particular problems. I do have a few ideas of my own about marketing which I'm going try over the next few weeks. The phrase that keeps going through my mind is that problems only delay you. I will keep trying to find the right strategies - might take some time but that's not a problem. 
    Meanwhile, the Burly and Grum trailer is now up on YouTube and thank you so much Stu for helping me with this (I really couldn't have done without you!). I should say, however, that I'm not a 100% sure about the music so if anyone has any ideas about something more suitable and bear-like do let me know!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

In praise of indie writers!

It's a sunny afternoon here in Essex and I'm in a yip yipee kind of mood - my second ebook, Burly and Grum and the Secret City, has now been published! Yes, finally, everything came together and it's now available on Smashwords FREE - what a bargain eh?
I know I keep saying this but self publishing has been both surprising and amazing, and the further along the road I travel, the more I learn (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, how to create a website, I could go on and on...).
The indie writers I've come across have been incredibly generous - they're keen to share their knowledge, ideas and to offer support and practical help when it's needed. There's never been a better time for writers to finish that final chapter, get their books published, join a vast community of other indie authors (and my goodness we're an interesting and diverse bunch of people!) and have their work read across the globe. I would advise anyone who is hesitating about self-publishing – don't! Just do it – it's hard work but the rewards are well worth it.
And, as I've already mentioned, there's always something else to learn... my task this evening is to find out how to put music onto the book trailer I've put together and to read up about print on demand – wish me luck! :)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sanity Narrowly Won...

Of all the things I've done so far on this rather odd road to being an independent writer, setting up a Burly & Grum website via my little netbook has been the most difficult. I spent four hours last Sunday trying to get a Facebook 'like' thumb on the site but in the end had to compromise - it was either my sanity or the 'like' thumb and sanity narrowly won - the site is thumb-free!  (I'll try to figure it out another day...)
I've still got quite a bit to do to improve the site, but I'm proud of what I've achieved considering that last week I didn't even know what a domain was; when I first started, I definitely felt like Burly and Grum in the picture - completely baffled! If you'd like to take a look, the site is http://www.burlyandgrum.com/ and if you can suggest anything (easy) that I can do to improve it, please let me know!
This week I also managed to finish the Born Free Cat Nap challenge that I set myself last week, i.e. I've finished the second book, Burly and Grum and the Secret City and have started the third book. I hope to have the Secret City up on Amazon and Smashwords within the next week or two. But my learning curve is not yet over - I'd like to create booktrailers to put on Youtube and a talented actor, Paul Burnham, has agreed to help me create Burly & Grum audio books - I need more hours in my day but I'm enjoying the journey! 

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Big Cat Nap

Well, this past week has been very hectic - a member of my family came down with a virus that had him in A&E, I took an afternoon off work to take another member of my family to hospital and then my car broke down on a busy road and I had to be towed home. Oh, and I can't forget that a large event I've been working on for weeks on took place. I've been cool, I've been calm but trust me I was core tired on Friday night (I think I may have snored and even drooled a little on the train journey home....)
     With brilliant timing, right on queue, comes a fundraising event called the Big Cat Nap http://www.bornfree.org.uk/the-big-cat-nap/   In order to take part all you have to do is relax - yes, relax! Ever heard anything so wonderful? Whoever came up with that at Born Free will get a Christmas card from me. The idea is you take time out of your busy schedule for yourself - have a cup of tea, watch a film, sit and read a book - whatever it takes to put a relaxed smile on your face. At this point I have to put my hand up and say I've known about this for a few weeks now and have been running around waving my sponsorship form in front of my friends' faces, but they've been less than impressed at the thought of giving me money for doing nothing! Yes, I'm going to have to change my friends (only joking, love you really). However, as you can see from the above photo, my cats are very supportive - Bud threaded himself through the vacuum hose because he knew I wouldn't have the heart to disturb him. What a trooper!
      I've come up with a compromise - one of the things that makes me happy and relaxed is writing, so this coming week I'm going to set myself two targets - I'm going to edit book 2 in the Burly & Grum series and start book 3. Wish me luck! Oh, and please also wish me a quiet, relaxing week because, frankly, I need one!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Excerpts from the second book

Hi - this week I thought you'd like to read a couple of excerpts from the second book which I'll be publishing in a few weeks. This time the action takes place in the forest when Burly, Grum and Max meet up for a picnic and run into a couple of hunters, Captain Quentin Tee and Tyre, his sidekick. 

1: 
...The deer stepped out into the clearing. She had a dappled honey brown coat and delicate features; she walked daintily past them to the water's edge and lowered her head to sip the water.
“Oh wow,” said Max quietly, “this is such a cool place.”
Burly nodded his head and smiled. “It certainly is,” he replied. “Now, I think we should just carry on but be just a bit quiet so we don’t frighten her.”
They continued their picnic. “Here,” said Max, “do you want a peanut butter sandwich Burly, mum always makes way too many.”
Burly sniffed it with his snout and popped it in his mouth. “Mmmm, good,” he mumbled, “crunchy.”
“The only way to go,” said Max. “Smooth peanut butter is rubbish.”
The deer finished drinking and shook her head. Drops of water plinked into the river.
“She's beautiful,” said Max.
“Why thank you,” replied the deer.
Max dropped his sandwich. “She.... it... just spoke...”
Grum sniggered. “Any reason why she shouldn't? You've been talking to a bear and groblin for a few weeks now.”
“I suppose you’ve got a point,” muttered Max picking up his sandwich and flicking off the bits of dirt. “Why was I even surprised?”
The deer walked daintily towards them. “Hello,” she said and lifted her nose to sniff the air. “Are those peanut butter sandwiches you're eating? They smell good.”
“Here you can have one,” offered Max.
“Smooth or crunchy?”
“Crunchy.”
“Ah, thank you, but I prefer smooth.”
Burly laughed out loud at the expression on Max’s face.
“You want some crispy fried earwigs instead?” asked Grum.
The deer flicked her ears and looked around. “I must be going,” she said politely. “Good day,” and she disappeared quietly into the wood.
“Wow,” said Max, “that was really cool. And odd. Cool and odd. And weird.”
“The forest,” said Burly, “is all those things, now come on you two, let’s get looking for something to take back for Mike.” ....

2:
Max felt his heart beating wildly and he hurried along next to Burly who was moving quickly through the forest. Grum sprang into action and tried to cover up the fact a bear that weighed a ton and was the size of a small house had walked that way. “Give me the easy job why don’t you,” he muttered as he looked at the trail of broken branches and squashed vegetation behind them.

Burly was thinking hard as he walked. It was only a matter of time before the hunters found their tracks and he had to get Max and Grum to safety. He made a decision and stopped.
“Grum,” he called.
Grum’s face appeared behind a bush he’d been trying to make look natural. “What?” he asked tetchily holding large pieces of broken branch in each hand.
“The hunters,” said Burly. “They’re after me, not you. We got to split up - take Max back to groblin territory and then make sure he gets home safely, and I’ll lead them away. Do you understand?”
Max’s eyes immediately filled with tears. “No Burly! You can’t do that! We’ll come with you, we’ll lose them somehow!”
Burly looked at the trampled vegetation behind him and knew it was just a question of time. “Max,” he said gently. “Max, you have to do what I say. I’ll be alright I promise. You both promised you would do as I asked, now I’m asking you to leave. Grum, take Max.”
Grum’s face was pale, but he took Max’s arm.
“No!” shouted Max and held on to Burly’s fur.
“Max, I can move faster, I’ll stand a better chance without you, do you understand?”
Max wiped his nose. “Oh Burly...”
Come on,” said Grum, tugging Max’s arm. “We’ve got to go. Good luck Burly.” Grum turned quickly so Burly couldn’t see that he, too, was close to tears...



Sunday, 12 June 2011

A cunning plan!

Last week I wrote about thinking, planning and background research but 
this week my blog is going to be about taking action! I was galvanised by the members of the Writebulb group at our meeting yesterday who all seemed genuinely interested in the process of self-publishing and what I'm up to, so here I am - all spurred on and raring to go!
Here's my cunning plan:
First part: I'm going to finish book 2 of the Burly and Grum Tales by the end of this month. I'm still laughing and typing by the way so if nothing else I'm having a good time!  Once it's completed I'm going to download it onto Smashwords. Just before I do that, however, I am going to make Beyond the Forest (book 1) free to readers. 
Second part: I'm going to spend more quality time on forums (yes, even though I've confessed I'm not that great at forums!), for example, Kindle/Amazon and try to find the right platform for myself.
Third part: Continue to work with the wonderful Joanne at Born Free, try to get more feed back from parents about their view on ebooks and generally keep plugging away in the background. 
Fourth and most important part!: Keep a level head. Being successful is important to me but at the same time I have to think smart and not get too drawn into the emotion of it all. Why is success important?  Because I would love the opportunity to do something I love every day of my life and have it mean something (but still keep my day job because I do enjoy that as well), and also because I owe Rob Jones, the artist, big time! I would love him to get the recognition he deserves as an artist and also frankly, I'd love to be able to pay him!! So here's to the future and finding the right road to success!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

When Life Makes You Stop and Pause for Thought

This week I've been doing a lot of thinking. My journey on the road to being published is an interesting one and I'm gathering as much information as I can along the way. I didn't think I'd rise instantly to success, I knew it would mean hard work and that I would have low times. I now need to look objectively at where I am and take stock. The facts are:
1)  The children's e-book market is a tough one to crack. Most children don't own kindles or iPads, it has to be the parent who makes the decision. So question 1: how do I find mothers who are interested in the concept of e-books for children? I've got an ad on Netmums and EssexMum asking them their opinion on e-books but have not had much interest even though the book is free.  
2)  I'm discovering that although I enjoy networking, I'm useless at forums - in order to contribute in a way that adds value means you have to spend time doing it properly, read other authors' works, review books, etc. and that is time consuming. I work full time, commute, write, take care of a house and son and father, spend my evenings on the web, help run Writebulb - I can't find the time I need.  So my second question is: is there a way around this (apart from going back 20 years when I would have had the stamina to sustain that kind of commitment!)
3) The third fact I have to face is that people are not as excited as I am about how wonderful self-publishing is!  I want to tell the whole world!  I've written to local newspapers and radio sites, I've refreshed LinkedIn, learnt to tweet, I'm working with Born Free etc. etc.  I'm still missing something that is the key to grabbing their attention - what is it? 
Puzzle - life is a puzzle - I just have to get the right pieces in the right places and if anyone can offer advice as to which bit goes where then do please let me know!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Writing, laughing, bears and self-publishing...

I'm feeling all skippy - my writing is going well and I got so caught up in it last night and this morning that I found myself chuckling to myself as I was typing away.  Yes, I'm writing the second book in the Burly and Grum series and I only hope that those who read it find it funny as well!  If they don't I'll never laugh and type at the same time again...

But I digress!  I promised a few tips in this blog for those of you who may be interested in publishing your own work.  The first thing I have to say is, be confident and give self-publishing a go, you have nothing to lose. Go to a site like Smashwords that will give you lots of advice on how to adapt your book so it can be read by hand held devices.  It's called DMF - digital media formatting - don't be put off by the jargon, it's only a matter of tweaking a word document!  Once you've formatted it, you can submit it and it will be transformed into a document that can be read on a computer, a Kindle, an iPhone, iPad, etc. Once you've done that you'll find it easy to upload your book onto Amazon. 
The next step is quite a personal one - you'll now have to network, i.e. join groups, set up a facebook site, a blog, take part in debates, review the work of other authors and have yours reviewed.  You have to do as much or as little as you feel comfortable with, but the more you put in the more you'll get back.  One thing I did was to link up with the charity Born Free because one of the main characters in my book was a bear. See that picture up there?  That's the beautiful Ginny who was rescued by Born Free and I strongly felt that if my book did by any chance take off, then I wanted them to be part of it so they could reap the rewards as well. But everyone is different, just go with your instinct and if in doubt, ask - people are very helpful, very receptive.
Self publishing is time consuming, it can be hard work, but it is worthwhile so bite the bullet, be brave and venture out! And if you need any more advice, some good links, let me know and I'll gladly try and help. Good luck!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Me? Did I do that?

See that look of suprise and 'what me?' on Grum's face - well, that's just how I feel!
So much has happened over the last few months - I've worked hard, learnt an incredible amount (still a long way to go there!) and it's been a privilege working with people like Rob (who illustrated Beyond the Forest), my colleagues at WriteBulb, Mark Coker from Smashwords and, of course everyone of my friends who has been enthusiastic and supported me. Yes, self-publishing is one of the most satisfying things I've ever done.
I have genuinely always loved writing. I want to be a successful author and so far I haven't come across one negative thing since I started along the road of self-publishing.  Yes, it's hard work and there are never enough hours in the day but I have control over what I publish, I can make my own decisions and, if they go wrong, I learn and move on, and also I can work with people I genuinely like.  The latter is one of the most important aspects to doing this. I want to build good and honest working relationships with people who are as enthusiastic as I am and I want to pass on what I've learnt to others.
I'm genuinely delighted with the response I've had to Beyond the Forest - people are reading it, reviewing it, coming back to me with comments. If anyone is thinking about becoming an Indie writer, all I can say is - do it!  Yes, it's a huge commitment but it's so satisfying and the sense of achievement is immense - honestly, just go ahead, take that step, you'll never regret it.  The only regret you'll ever feel is if you don't give it a go!
And if you'd like a free copy of Beyond the Forest click on the link Beyond the Forest put the book in your cart and then enter the code WX39U when asked.  Happy reading! 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Beware large cookies bearing messages...

It's not often anyone surprises me but yesterday the Writebulb group managed to do just that.  We held our monthly meeting and in the break they produced a very, very large cookie with a very, very long message piped on it - "Congratulations Kate on the Launch of Burly and Grum".  I couldn't believe they'd gone to so much trouble and was totally overwhelmed by the feeling they must be meaning someone else!  Yes, I've self published an ebook but it's not as if it's been successful (yet - think positive Kate!) and it's not as if I'd exactly been talent spotted by an agent or anything like that. 
However, Burly and Grum is now approved by Smashwords and can be downloaded in various formats, it is on Amazon and now I just have to work on some marketing! 

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Surprises along the way

I've just finished uploading Beyond the Forest to Amazon. It will take a couple of days for it to be reviewed and then hopefully it will be available on line. It's still being reviewed at Smashwords. I've learnt so much in the last few months - I've bought a Kindle, set up Facebook page, started this blog (I'm building up to tweeting...). I always thought I was pretty good at networking, but it turns out I'm a bit of an amateur - social media networking is in a different league! I've also learnt an enormous about formatting and have enjoyed discovering how to adapt a book for the digital world.
All this has been done inbetween working full time and running a home (mind you, the dust is mounting up now!) and I've been pretty stretched. I manage (a) by relying on the support of a group of friends who also write and who are travelling along the same path, and (b) by napping on the train into work!
It's been hard, I often feel stupid, I get tired but more than anything else I feel a great sense of achievement. 
I may not sell more than a handful of books, but once I found out about self-publishing I could not have done anything else other than become an independent author.   
It feels really good to know I can take more control of my work.  I was able to choose my own illustrator rather than have that decision made for me, I was able to contact the Born Free Foundation to see if they would be interested in working with me (thank you Born Free for agreeing!) and I just feel that my path is becoming wider and clearer in front of me. 
I want to learn, I want to do the best I can and even though I may have a few bumps and surprises along the way, I'm looking forward to the future.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Final Frontier!

Rather like Burly I feel as though the vast unknown is stretching out before me but I'm just as determined as he is to explore and find out what's out there.
These last few months really have been a steep learning curve for me and I'm learning something new every day about how social media works and the way everything links up - blogs, facebook, websites, linked in, etc. - it's vaster than anything I could have ever imagined.
The young seem to have it sussed though!  I thought I was pretty clever in setting up a Burly and Grum facebook site http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Burly-and-Grum/220263631322349 but was struggling to get followers (or maybe I was being impatient!).  Then a 17 year old showed me how it was done - her fingers moved like a colony of tiny ants running over the keyboard and within 20 minutes she had got me another 14 followers!  I was in absolute awe - thank you Rosie, you are now officially my social media manager! 
This weekend I'm going to insert the new artwork Rob has sent me, I'm going to proof read the copy once more (or maybe a few times more!) and then finally, yes, finally send it off to Smashwords to process.  I'll let you know how I get on!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Beyond the Forest

Beyond the Forest is my first book and I have been incredibly lucky to have had the support of Rob Jones, a talented illustrator who has brought my characters to life. Thank you Rob!
The story line is that Grum has been thrown out of his home and has to prove himself a brave and worthy groblin, so he goes to town to find a human and bring it home. He has many adventures along the way!
The following piece will give you a flavour of the book - I hope you like it!
"Burly was overwhelmed immediately he entered the pet shop. Birds squawked, mice and hamsters scrabbled, puppies yipped and the smell... He looked around in panic, his first instinct to run, his breath became short and ragged. These animals were captured and stuffed in cages - what did humans do with them? Kill them? He was about to rear up when he saw Max reach down and pick up a tiny black and white kitten. Max’s face softened and he was gentle as he held it, making mewing sounds to it.
“What do you think?” asked Max holding up the furry creature to show him. The kitten mewed and tried to climb onto Burly's arm. “Hey he likes you!”
Burly relaxed and smiled. Then he looked over Max's shoulder. A kitten's tail was hanging out of Grum's mouth. With a quick slurp Grum sucked the tail in. “Grum!”
Burly smacked Grum hard between the shoulder blades and a kitten shot out and landed on the floor. Max stared open mouthed at Grum, his eyes like saucers.
“What?” said Grum. “I'm hungry!”
The three of them stared at the slightly damp kitten who was making his way back in a rather wobbly fashion to his friends. Max gently put his kitten down next to him. “I think we'd better go,” he suggested.
“Good idea,” said Burly tightly.
“What?” Grum was cross. “We have them all the time at home - delicious and nutritious my mum says.”
“Are you sure you're in the parade?” asked Max suspiciously.
“Positive,” said Burly. “Now come on Grum and don't do that again.”
Mumbling and complaining about harassment Grum left the shop closely followed by Burly and Max.