Showing posts from June, 2014

The dilemma of free school meals

I'm not in agreement with all the new policies and developments that have occurred in education since Michael Gove's regime took over. However the announcement that all children in Key Stage 1 (that's 4 - 6 year olds) will be entitled to a free school meal from September is a fantastic development. There's always been concern that some children don't eat properly and we often hear figures about hundreds of thousands of children living in poverty. I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores of all that here or start trotting out social commentary along the lines of "Oh, they can't afford to feed their children, but they can still afford drink/ fags/ drugs". That's another debate entirely. Let's just say it can only be good for all children. It's good for parents, whether in poverty or not. Not only does it save money but also time for all. I am sure time starved parents will be glad of having one less packed lunch in the morning

Moving with the times

During this whole self-publishing process I've done a lot of soul-searching about what is the best way to go. The traditional route, finding a publisher in the UK and getting things done locally. Or the global approach, via the giant of Amazon - which love them or hate them, are here to stay. I chose the second route. I would liked to have done a mix of the two, but it just didn't make sense for me. There are many reasons for this - but ultimately it came down to what was best for me as a writer and how I envisage the marketplace going in the future. Let's backtrack a little here and look at some other markets. I've talked many times on this blog about the relentless march of progress and how one must adapt or die. In a blog post I wrote back in September 2011 entitled  Weighty Matters  I picked out five retail chains I felt would find themselves in trouble over the next couple of years. Of those five, four have either bit the dust or have been, or are in receiver

The Time Bubble Q&A

So, as they queue outside the doors of the Kindle store in Bicester awaiting the midnight release of The Time Bubble, here on my blog I have secured you an exclusive interview with myself to tell you all about it: Q: So, The Time Bubble. What’s this all about then? A: It’s a story set in a small market town near Oxford about two boys who discover a time portal inside a railway tunnel. Q: That sounds like Bicester? Is it Bicester? A: It’s no more Bicester than Candleford was Bicester in Lark Rise to Candleford. It’s an unnamed town somewhere in the South Midlands on the route of the new HS2 line. There are some scenes set in Oxford, though, which should look good when the movie comes out. Q: So it’s a time travel book then. Hasn't that subject been done to death? A: Well you might think so. But I've come up with a concept that I'm pretty sure has never been done before. Q: What’s that exactly? A: The basic premise is about a bubble in time which people t

Decisions, decisions

Hi all, The decision over what cover to use for the book has been causing considerable angst - and not just for me. A friend offered weeks ago to help design a cover - she didn't want payment as it would be a good project for her and some other students to work on. She (and I) spent a lot of time trying to get it right and incorporate all of the elements of the plot into the cover. However, and this is where I am very much to blame - I just don't have a clue when it comes to design, fonts you name it. Certainly don't ever ask me to help choose a colour scheme for anything - it would be a car crash. We ended up with something that I thought looked pretty decent and that we could use. But I needed to be sure so I got hold of an alternative cover from another source. What many authors do is buy pre-designed covers from websites. How this works is that a site such as the one I used, allow artists to upload covers that they wish to sell. There

Which cover?

Hi, I wonder if you could do me a big favour, blog readers. I've got a couple of possible covers for my new book, a time-travel romcom. Could you tell me which of the two you prefer? Cover A: (NB - ignore the diagonal /vertical/ horizontal lines on it, they won't be on the finished version) This is a cover from a site that has a number of custom made covers that you can adapt for your needs. Or cover B (designed specifically for this book).

Burning the midnight oil

Last night I finished working on the copy for my book, at approximately 2.30am. This must be what it is like to be a workaholic - there's a comment that will make my ex-Nielsen colleagues chuckle. Why was I up so late? Well, I was almost at the end of the final task before being ready to upload, I had worked all evening with the World Cup as a backdrop and I didn't want to go to bed so close to completion. What I was actually doing was going through the copy for the last time, making all the changes that the proofreader found - and there were a lot. I am completely convinced now that hiring a proof reader is essential if you planning to put out any sort of serious publication. My document, whilst looking OK at first glance had many problems that needed resolving. Whilst it wasn't full of spelling errors there were many small punctuation errors such as use of commas that were picked up on. Then there were all the inconsistencies in things such as times - for example 4:

Environmentally conscious?

You know, I'm all for recycling, saving the planet, charitable causes and such like but there are times when I question the motives behind it all. What particularly irks me is when things are done "in the interests of the environment" when really they are not at all - they are done in the interests of the organisation. Hotels are a prime example. In most hotels these days you'll find various planet-saving policies in place. A common one is a complete lack of a plug in the bath - message being - don't have a bath, have a shower. If you can find any literature relating to this you'll find that it's in the interests of conserving that most precious of natural resources - water. Which I think you'll find we have pretty much an inexhaustible supply of - it's recyclable you know. Fair enough if you're in a hotel in the middle of the Sahara desert, I can go along with that policy but when you're looking out of the window of the Holiday Inn a

The Joy Of Tesco

We all make bad decisions in life. Do things we later regret and then think "what the hell was I thinking?" Even I, from my lofty perch of 44 years life experience, am not immune. Why did I do it? I don't know. Perhaps it was some moment of madness. Perhaps it was down to some deep-rooted psychological problem where I feel the need to punish myself for past sins, like a gambler pouring all his rent money into the roulette machine in the bookies. Perhaps it was just because I fancied some cheese flavoured Ritz crackers and I know Sainsbury's don't sell them. Who knows? All I know is that for some reason, last Sunday morning as me and the boys were about to go into Sainsbury's to do our shopping I got some irrational urge to go into Tesco instead. Quite why I should want to do this, I don't know. After many bad experiences in the past with incorrect price labelling, rude staff and all the rest of it, you think I would have learned. Still, I thought, mayb

Author bio

I've just updated my author bio at Amazon as I felt that it was, well, a bit boring. So here's the new improved version. I must point before you get excited that sadly the adventures of Captain Jason, like many 1960s episodes of Doctor Who are missing believed wiped. Unlike the Doctor Who episodes though, I am very relieved about this! My new bio is as follows: Jason Ayres began his writing career at Primary School in 1979 with a 94 chapter epic space adventure featuring the exploits of Captain Jason who bore more than a passing resemblance to a famous starship Captain of the era. Sadly the plot was just getting going when his teacher firmly suggested that he try writing about something else. Never one to let the creative sap rest for long, by the mid 80's he was furiously scribbling down plays in "spare" exercise books liberated from the stationery cupboard featuring his various classmates in a number of outrageous and libellous scenarios. These have now

Film Crew

There's been so much going on over the past week I've barely had time to breathe let alone blog, but just wanted to put in a quick summary of things we've been up to. Dominating proceedings was half-term - and what a miserable one it started out to be weather wise. We had several outings over the week but most of them were indoor based. The highlight was a trip to Bicester Bowl. Now I have seen this place maligned in some quarters with people moaning that "we need a proper bowling alley" but I can't see the problem myself. We went up there on a drab and cold Friday morning and the kids had a great time. It's handy, within walking distance and cheap - I paid just £7 for the four of us to play. That compares very favourably with prices at the Kassam and others you have to drive too. It was Ollie's second visit there in the past month as his friend Thomas had his birthday party there a few weeks ago. Now Ollie has asked if he can have a birthday party