Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Perfect Xmas Present

Just got the perfect Xmas present. The Chicago Manual of Style. Maybe not the most exciting of gifts, but a vital reference. And very interesting to compare with the English standard, Hart’s New Rules A shorter but ironically in many ways more comprehensive work. It was from my Sister in Law, who, apparently, thought it was a book on fashion!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

To my complete astonishment, I was googling Bokasssa’s Last Apostle and I found this: http://tinyurl.com/cwybt5r. It looks as though my book cover has been entered in a competition without my knowledge! How well it is doing I can’t ascertain. Continuing my search I found this on shelfari: http://tinyurl.com/cazq7eu. It lists my cover as a ‘popular cover’, whatever that means.

I guess the answer is that, yes, it is an engaging cover and some people at least think so enough to put my cover forward at their own behest. Now that is good news!

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/c6q297n

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A government for everyone?

David Cameron’s response to Ed Milliband stealing Disraeli’s ‘one nation’ slogan is, apparently, going to be to bang on about how his government will be a ‘government for everyone’. Quite how a government of millionaires aggressively reducing state benefits for poor people to pay for tax cuts for their rich banker friends can present itself as a ‘government for everyone’ is quite beyond me. I'm getting sick and tired of their blaming the Brown administration for the defecit, which is largely there because the same banker friends of the present government gambled with our money and lost and then had to be rescued with borrowed money.

This ‘government for everyone’ is apparently going to be for everyone ‘whether they are gay or straight’. Presumably a reference to their stated policy of having a free vote in the Commons on gay marriage. Yeah right, and when exactly is that going to happen? And, when they have finally finished ‘dithering’ and get around to having a vote, if they have a vote, will Cameron actually have the balls to vote ‘yes’? The issue is so divisive in the tory party that I rather doubt it.

Now exactly why should gay marriage be needed in the first place when we have civil partnerships and refer to them as marriages anyway? A good question, and one which was asked at a meeting of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality I attended last year. Peter Tatchell spoke about the remaining gay rights agenda. Well, the gap between the legislation and attitudes in society at large aside, it can be argued that there is nothing left to campaign for apart from marriage. The reason it is important is that other countries do not recognise British civil partnerships. So whilst two men or women can live together in Britain and have the same legal rights as a married heterosexual couple, they cannot settle overseas in (say) Canada unless they are married.

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme just broadcast an extract from a speech to the tory party conference by Anne Widdecombe defending the central role of the family in British society. This slogan is always a thinly-veiled disguise for an attack on anyone who is ‘different’. Quite why normal, decent, homosexual couples cannot raise children and be considered a family is also beyond me.

I don’t claim to be an economist, or to have the solution to the current financial mess. But I do support gay rights and when the present government has done as much for the cause of gay rights as the previous Labour administration, I might change my mind. It will probably be a cold day in Hell.

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/9ecz6k6

Sunday, 23 September 2012

photoshopped photo sneaks past Attitude editors

Looking through the Attitude website to find out if the October issue had been published, I clicked on a link which just enticingly said ‘MEN’. It took me to this page: http://tinyurl.com/cr2833e which encouraged me to vote for their hukiest cover star. I found the following photo with the caption: ‘Hell Yeah!’

So, my interest firmly aroused, so to speak, I went a googling for ‘Swedish Decathlete‘ and quickly found this item: http://tinyurl.com/c98ug8z, which said the athlete in question, one Björn Barrefors, had been the unfortunate benefactor of a photoshopped penis enhancement. I would have thought Attitude might just have been a tiny bit more careful in their research of this picture before publishing it!

And I found this rather wonderful ‘before and after’ animated gif:

Maybe not the most riveting piece of news, but the opportunity to post the photo was largely irresistible! I could watch this for hours!

Having recently learned how to make my own animated .gifs, I couln't resist the opportunity to try and see if I could return the favour. It proved absurdly easy. Here's the result:

Incidentally, when I tried to download the picture, I got a different file, so I had to do a screenshot of the before and after and make an animated .gif using www.makeagif.com. Then it wouldn’t animate when I looked at the preview of the post. I’ve had to resort to hosting it on my own website and then using the URL of the image in the <img> tag.

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/cevqgu4

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bokassa to Feature in Attitude!

Just received a request for the cover artwork of my book from Attitude Magazine, one of the leading national glossy gay lifestyle magazines here in the UK. Apparently they are planning a feature on my book in their next (October) edition! Whether this will be a very short piece with a cover illustration or something more substantial, I do not know. Hopefully any editorial will not be like that in Bent or Midland Zone who basically just rehashed the blurb. I think it was the Sainted Oscar who said ‘No publicity is bad publicity’? Any coverage in a national magazine with such a high profile is welcome. Interestingly, the email came from one of the interns working with them. This seems to be a growing trend. The Gay Times review was penned by an intern and, in their case, hidden away on their blog (although arguably a blog gets more views than a print publication these days). The online magazines, like Polari had more space to devote to my book and gave a full editorial review.

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/c3wgkhl

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A Tale of TWO Amazons

OK, so now my book is on Amazon and has passed the publication date, I can theoretically do loads of cool stuff to make it look more inviting. Prime amongst these is having an Amazon ‘Author Page’. I duly created an account at ‘Author Central’, created an author page and then tried to customise it. It let me add a photo and bio, but generated an error code when I tried linking my blog and twitter feeds. After a day or so, the error code stopped happening. But I wasn’t able to link my paperback, only my kindle, to the author page. Each time I tried to find my book I was told it was unavailable. I successfully created a unique link to my author page: www.amazon.com/author/rodshelton. Progress, of a sort.

Going to the amazon page for my book now gave a pop-up when I hovered the mouse over my name. On it there was a link to visit my newly-created author page. I clicked. No blog or twitter feed. I went back to author central. It said to click to view my author page. I clicked. There was my last tweet AND my most recent blog posts. Very curious.

Only today have I finally worked out what I had done wrong. Perhaps the address of the author page beginning ‘amazon.com’ should have warned me? Somehow, I had created the author page on amazon.com, NOT amazon.co.uk. Ever likely I couldn’t get there from amazon.co.uk!

I went to amazon.com. I searched for my book. It said ‘out of print – limited availablilty’ and showed no other information about the paperback. The Kindle was listed, however. Clicking on the link to the author page got me to the version with the twitter feed and blog feed.

Going back to amazon.co.uk I found I could create an author central account there as well, only this time I checked the URLs of the pages I got to very carefully as I registered to make sure I was still in the UK. Sucess! I now have TWO author pages and TWO author central accounts. Better still, I added my twitter feed to the UK author page and it came through in a matter of hours, not the days it had taken before. Unfortunately, there seems not to be the option of adding the RSS feed to my blog in the UK at present. dommage. NOW I can tell anyone looking at the US author page to go to Amazon UK if they want to order the paperback.

Although whether a US buyer would want to pay the postage from the UK is another question. OK, so why not set up an account at amazon.com and sell it there? I hear people asking. Simple! I need a US$ bank account IN THE USA. Worse, if I used fulfillment by Amazon, I would have to ship a stock of books TO THE USA. And it is far from clear how shipping could be calculated on amazon.com for books shipped from the UK. And, even if this could be done, the shipping would still be prohibitive.

Although this does rather beg the question of whether I am going to have to set up author central accounts on each and every one of amazon’s various websites in France, Germany, even Japan…?

The dual account problem goes further. To make my book available on Amazon required me setting up an amazon seller account. To add the ability for amazon users to click on the cover of my book and see a sample of the contents, I had to send in a pdf of the text and the cover. But where do I send it to …? That’s right, to the USA. That meant setting up an account at seller central in the USA. And then the UK site was updated with the search inside facility. So I now have no less than SIX accounts with Amazon, my regular customer account, two seller accounts, two author accounts, an amazon associates account and an account at kindle kdp. How confusing is all that?

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/d4q68jd

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Very Different Book Launch

Just back from the Launch of my book Bokassa’s Last Apostle and fellow Paradise Press author Elizabeth Lister’s book My Life Outside at the Wibbly Wobbly Floating Bar in South-East London.

To be honest, I was rather anxious about the outcome. Only two ‘maybes’ from facebook and some ‘no’s from the Paradise Press crew and, crucially, no confirmed attendances apart from Elizabeth. In the morning I hit the bookshops. Gay’s the Word want to put ten copies on the shelves and see how they go. Clone Zone in Old Compton Street only had smut on the shelves and I decided not to bother them. Prowler Soho’s book buyer was ‘on the phone’ and I was asked to leave my number. He hasn’t called back. Foyles LGBT book buyer hasn’t yet been replaced and the person who is looking after that department wasn’t there. Waterstones on the Strand, which had looked like it was closing down last time I passed by has re-opened after what must have been a re-fit. The only difference I could make out was that the Lesbian and Gay section had disappeared. Hummmmmm.

Later that afternoon I made my way to the Wibbly Wobbly with a Sainsbury’s Bag For Life weighed down with 7kg of books, and got there at 6.15. No one was there, so I got myself a coke and sat down at the back of the saloon. Elizabeth turned up at 6.50 with her daughter and a friend, complaining about the long walk around the dock. In my defence I didn’t know she had sustained another Morris Dancing injury. (Yes, it apparently really is that dangerous!) We made our way to the pontoon moored alongside the boat which serves as an outdoor smoking area and enjoyed a pleasantly balmy early evening.

I needn’t have worried, as time passed, most of the Paradise Press gang turned up, fashionably late. Some later than others, because they had gone the wrong way around the dock. (How can ‘keep the water to your left’ be made less ambiguous?) Anyhow, by now there was a sizable Paradise Press presence filling up most of the pontoon, spilling over several tables. Just a few locals grouped in twos at the fringes of our large and rather noisy gathering. After a while, Elizabeth put her teacher’s hat back on, stood up and announced our intention to read from our books to the few who had not come there to listen and asked if they’d mind. A couple of guys at the far end said they wanted to hear, and we were off.

I must admit, I was impressed with Elizabeth’s short but well-prepared presentation about how she came to write her trilogy, and its basis in fact with the shocking death of her mother-in-law, who jumped to her death from a bedroom window. Although I was relieved to hear that the rest of the book is fiction. I read the first chapter of my book. (Something I’m getting quite used to, as I’ve read it to quite a lot of audiences now.) And then we just spent a very congenial evening floating on the calming waters of Greenland Dock.

The surprise was to come later on. Although, as it turned out, it wasn’t ours. I had quickly realised I probably wasn’t going to sell any books as, apart from us, the boat was only sparsely populated with people who weren’t gay. But the male couple might just … We were discussing the possibility when they came up and congratulated me on my book. YES, they were gay. Australians, actually. One was visiting the other, who lived nearby and wanted to show his friend an interesting place to have a drink. They had watched us amassing, and said they had felt the gay and lesbian vibe, but were astonished to find themselves in the middle of what turned out to be an impromtu lesbian and Gay literary salon. So, for them, it really had turned out to be an interesting place!

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/c4uh3pe

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Invitation to my Book Launch

An open invitation to readers of my blog in the London area to join me for a drink at the Wibbly Wobbly Floating Bar, moored alongside Greenland Dock in Surrey Quays, London SE16 7SZ, where I’ll be reading from my book Bokassa’s Last Apostle at its official launch.

The venue features in the book as an important setting and is a relaxing and unusual place to meet. Fellow Paradise Press author Elizabeth Lister’s book My Life Outside launches at the same time.

Copies of my book can be had at a discount at the launch. It’s at 7pm and I’d love to meet you there. To get there, make your way to Surrey Quays underground station. Cross the road outside and go up the hill opposite towards the prominent old red bridge.
The road is signed ‘Redriff Road’. Take the steps at the side of the bridge down to Greenland Dock and turn right. Walk around the dock, keeping the water to your left.
The Wibbly Wobbly is the large white boat moored alongside the dock wall at the far end.
If you are coming by car, you can park in the car park of the Surrey Docks Watersports Centre. Or you could even take the riverbus to Greenland Pier and take in another of the setting for my book at the same time!

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/cvzaze2

Thursday, 16 August 2012

A NEW REVIEW!

(Well, not new exactly, I’ve known the content of this review for weeks, but it hadn’t appeared in Polari Magazine and so I felt honour bound not to divulge the review until they published it.)

Actually there is a rather nice story associated with this review. I had an email from the reviewer saying he was supposed to be finalising two other reviews for Polari, but had dipped into mine and was compelled to continue reading. He wrote this after devouring the first nine chapters. His very words: ‘yep, it’s that grippin.’ What better recommendation could I have wished for?

I felt a bit guilty, actually, as I should have warned him not to do that, but didn’t want to come over as too cocky. One of the other Paradise Press authors told me ‘it makes you want to turn the pages over quickly’. And that hasn’t been achieved without some considerable effort and a complete structural re-write.

I do rather think the review focuses rather too much on the sex, but I’ll admit there’s a fair bit in there. I’d like to think it’s tastefully done, but has enough of an edge in places to get you going.

Anyhow, here’s the complete review, which can be accessed here:

How could I have failed to respond favourably to a novel that starts with a prodigiously well-hung mixed-race young guy running bollock naked through the night streets of north-west London? Having thus captured his reader’s attention, Rod Shelton holds on to it by embarking on a fast-paced, picaresque romp which is funny, sexy and intriguing by turns.

The naked young man is Everton Jones (shades of Henry Fielding’s Tom here perhaps?) who has arrived in London from Dudley only to be robbed, beaten unconscious and stripped of all his possessions and, rather like a latterday Dick Whittington, all of his (designer) clothes too. Finding his way to Hampstead Heath (not without causing some alarmed reports to the police en route in which his uniquely identifying physical characteristic features, as it were, largely) Everton is rescued and taken in by Kash and Edouard, who just happen (like you do) to be manning a free condom and lube stall for night cruisers as the naked vision runs down the path towards them, lost and distressed.

From hereon the story careers, with its own madcap internal logic, through a serious of adventures (and misadventures) featuring the misappropriated (and now missing) diamonds of deposed Emperor Bokassa of the former Central African Empire. In hot pursuit of the same come the police, the diplomatic corps, warring south London street gangs, MI6, and the eponymous Apostles – ex-Emperor Bokassa’s sinisterly-tattooed, armed and highly dangerous followers. The stakes are high and the knives (and guns and torture implements) are out with a vengeance.

In this blackly-comic novel, high drama meets high camp and the reader is rewarded with raunchy gay sex amongst a bevy of beautiful boys, in every imaginable position, on almost every other page. Throw into the mix voodoo-style African magic, grigri (a potent magic charm), demons, drugs, kidnapping and torture – and did I mention sex? – and you have a heady summer cocktail (no pun intended) which will enliven any holiday poolside or beach.

And Bokassa’s diamonds? Well, turns out that Everton’s late father was one of his Apostles and may have had more than a passing interest in the gems, which would explain his frequent trips to Geneva. Does Everton find and claim them? You’ll just have to buy the book and find out for yourselves, won’t you?!


tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/bn3u52v

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Bokassa’s Last Apostle is IN PRINT

It should be easy, shouldn’t it? The printer prints the books, puts them in a delivery truck and they turn up at my place the next day. How different it all turns out in reality.

When I completed the order, I added the launch date to the web form, 20 August. You would think it obvious that I had to have the books in my hands by then at the very latest. A close reading of the confirmation email showed an expected delivery date of 20 August. Well, that’s a Monday, and I will be in London then, so needed the books delivered earlier, which would be … the previous Friday. A phone call to the printers placed a note on their file that they needed to have printed them out by the Thursday and handed over to their courier for delivery overnight. But it wasn’t reassuring.

I called them on Monday (13th). The person who was dealing with printing my books was apparently ‘on holiday’ for the week. Also not encouraging. A colleague called back and to my utter astonishment told me they were ‘ready to go’. Did she mean the job was set up and about to be printed or … YES! apparently they were ready to go on the delivery lorry. I was told they were just waiting to hear from me when it would be convenient to deliver them. I mean … when exactly were they proposing to ask me this? They actually had the books all packed up in their office and were just sitting around waiting for me to call them?

I said I wanted the books as soon as possible, and they sent them out that night. I sat around waiting for them to be delivered all morning yesterday until … out of curiosity I looked in the porch and found a little yellow note saying they had attempted to deliver but been unsuccessful. Do ALL carriers just post the little slip through the door without even bothering to knock?

The slip had an ‘InfoNotice’ number on it and a web address. I went online and entered the number. The delivery had taken place at 8.30am. EIGHT THIRTY? These days I don’ know what eight thirty looks like. And they were going to attempt re-delivery the next day, today. OR, I could call at their depot and collect them. Now that isn’t so very far away. Only were they there yet or still on the delivery van? The website didn’t say.

After an exhaustive search of the website I finally found a phone number. I called. The frustrating process of wading through the automated menu began. I entered the option to track a parcel. Yet another automated process. ‘Ensure you have the tracking number to hand’ the automated voice said. The TRACKING NUMBER. NOT the ‘info notice’ number. I hung up and went back to the website. More delving around and I found the tracking number. A long string of letters and numbers. Back to the phone? Oh no, I was now in a different place on the website. So I had to write down the damn tracking number and hunt afresh for their phone number. Finally back with the tracking service I was prompted to say the number. Only to be told it wasn’t a valid tracking number. I tried again. Same result. Finally I was told I would be transferred to a real live person, only to be promptly placed on hold.

When the real live person finally picked up I learned that the books would remain on the van until 6pm, when it got back into the depot. If I wanted, I could call and pick them up any time up to 8pm, or just wait until tomorrow. I could sign the back of the little yellow slip and authorise the driver to leave the books in the conservatory. I made a mental note to have this all set up in advance by giving clear instructions to the printer next time around. I put the slip in a plastic bag along with a large yellow notice and pinned it to the front door, just in case the lorry arrived unfeasibly early this morning.

In the final event it was I who got up unfeasibly early, only to have to wait until 9.10 for a large white van to show up.

Boxes all checked, only two copies with minor damage, all the covers on the right way up. You may laugh, but it can happen and actually did happen to at least one of the review copies. The paper isn’t as nice as in the review copies, but that was always a compromise to make sure they would fit into a large letter package and save on postage. More annoyingly the print was if anything slightly lighter. But the spine is aligned perfectly – no mean feat with a cover illustration on the spine and the vertical alignment of the pages is mostly spot on. The biggest surprise was that the book was actually slightly smaller than the review copy I compared it with. Measurement proved that the stock copy is the right size, the review copy was 1mm too wide and 2mm too high.

Anyhow, I can now dash off to the post office to deliver four advance copies which have astonishingly already been ordered and get the legal deposit copies off to the British Library.

Don’t forget to enter my book giveaway, click on the yellow panel opposite to participate. And, if you live near London, why not come along to the Launch Party? 7pm Monday 20 August on board the Wibbly Wobbly Floating Bar, moored alongside Greenland Dock, off Rope St. London SE16 7SZ. Nearest Tube: Surrey Quays. Just cross the road after leaving the station and head up the hill (marked Redriff Road) towards the distinctive old red bridge. Take the steps down the side of the red bridge to Greenland Dock. Turn to your right at the bottom and walk around the dock, keeping the water to your left. The Wibbly Wobbly is the large white boat moored at the far end. You can also park in the car park of the Surrey Docks Watersports Centre. If you live in London and have followed my blog, I would LOVE to meet you over a drink at the bar and will be reading from my book.

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/cnvcojg

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Wooden Spoon?

This is absolutely my last Olympics-themed post.

I found this interesting morsel online just now. Apparently the Wall Street Journal is awarding lead, tin and zinc medals for overall last, next-to-last and next highest placed entrants. Apparently 'Team GB' TOP the table for the most of these medals by a country mile. This might be because, as home nation, we don't have to make the qualifying time to enter for an event. It is certainly fantastic news that we have come in third over all and hauled in the largest number of medals in a century. Particularly as the top two spots are countries with far larger populations than ours. But it is interesting to note that we got the wooden spoon as well!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Printer’s Proofs Arrive

The proof of the cover arrived on Thursday (2 Aug)! And posed an intriguing mystery. I measured the cover carefully. The crop marks were exactly the right separation, with the exception of the spine. The printer’s website has a neat spine-width calculator, and the spine worked out to 15.44 mm wide. So I carefully built the cover to this precise dimension. To my extreme surprise, the crop-marks for the spine on my proof were exactly 16mm apart. Yet the original file was narrower. Had they edited the cover, adding an extra 0.56mm to the left-hand side? And would I get billed for that? Whatever would they have done had I put a picture or texture up to the edge of the file? The simple answer turned out to be that the crop-mark at the extreme left-hand side was only about 2.5mm from the edge. They had obviously moved the crop marks over by the difference: 0.56mm

So why provide a tool on their website which gives a misleading figure? They state that I should allow a ±10% tolerance for the spine to allow for ‘swelling’ of the paper. Was this the reason? I have a ‘hard’ edge to the cover. That is to say the front cover is an illustration and the spine is plain yellow. They are going to have to align the cover along that edge. Sure enough, the crop mark for the left-hand edge of the front cover lines up exactly along this edge. So far so good. I suppose everything to the left of this is purely notional, as the precise place where the cover will be folded will depend on the humidity at the time they print it off.

My cover photo is so engaging that I opted to put it on the spine, so that the book screams out at you to pick it up off the shelves of a bookshop. I left a 1mm gap on each side to allow for some variation in the press. But, with the crop marks where they are now, the gap on the left-hand side is bigger by 0.56mm. With the effect that the image on the spine is off centre. Funnily enough, the logo and spine lettering is dead centre with the wider spine. I must have had it slightly out when I created the spine. Well that’s a blessing!

It’s completely academic, anyway. The proof approval form clearly states that any alterations would require submitting replacement files and incur a £100 ‘re-processing’ charge. It looks as though I’m going to hope for the best about the alignment of the cover image on the spine. That £100 fee kaiboshed any thoughts about correcting another niggle. The night before I’d found a typo in the text. A missing ‘a’. I had been busily re-proofing the text to see if there were other errors, and haven’t found one yet, thankfully. Although I have noted a few places where I might want to re-word it ever so slightly. But if getting it ABSOLUTELY right is going to cost me time and money, I think I’m going to have to let it drop. At £100, it would have been the most expensive ‘a’ in the history of publishing! Perhaps I should have a competition to find the typo? Or the one error in the plot sequence?

So why bother about a missing letter ‘a’ and an extra 0.56mm? Funnily enough, if the rest of the book is pixel perfect, even the smallest error seems to stand out more clearly. Still, another milestone in my book’s journey into the bookshops has just been passed.

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/bt9alyw

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Kindle version 1.1 published

The other day I opened my Kindle to see the operating software had been updated. That was surely a good thing, as they said the update improved the way the text was rendered, wasn’t it? Then it crossed my mind that any changes might render my carefully balanced and developed format differently, spoiling my book.

And, surely enough, my worst fears had come horribly true. Well, not seriously but definitely annoyingly. The displayed quotations were now the same size as the main text.

The inability of the device to recognise the margin-right property (or, indeed the margin-top property for that matter) meant that I had decided to represent displayed quotations by setting the font-size property to 0.9em. To my horror, these were now rounded up to 1.0em and were indistinguishable from normal text except for being set-off with white space before and after. Puzzlingly my small-caps solution was working, and that was implemented the same way, or so I thought. Careful examination of the style-sheet revealed that the style for small caps used a font-size of 0.85em. Changing the style for displayed quotations fixed the problem, albeit now showing the quoted material 0.5em smaller than I had originally intended.If I measure it carefully, I suspect I’ll find it’s been rounded down to 0.8em.

Now off to find out how to update the file, now with ‘version 1.1’ on the title page verso. Amazon says to contact them if an updated file is to be provided and they will be able to allow purchasers to update their e-book by going back to their website, but only after a four week delay. I chose the quicker route and just overwrote the file by re-uploading it, as they said. That effectively re-published the file and it is now ‘under review’. Worse, when I clicked the link for further information, it said updating an existing publication would be slower than uploading a new one. However the reality was slightly different. What actually happened was that even though my e-book was showing as ‘under review’, the original listing was still ‘live’ on the Kindlestore. Now after a day everything is fine, the new version 1.1 is live and has seamlessly replaced to old one. Well, Amazon finally got something right!

On a different note, I received notification of two advance orders from Bertrams Book Distributors for no less than THREE copies of the paperback. That perplexed me, as the listing on Nielsens database cleary states it is not published until 20 August. Bertrams tell me it’s not unknown for someone aware of my book’s impending publication to get impatient and place an order for an advance copy. Nice to know there are people out there THAT eager to get their hands on a copy!

Speaking of which, how eager are YOU to get a FREE copy? I just gave away the third free copy to Don Lockwood, who sent me a Facebook friend request. If you have followed me on twitter, thank you, and just a gentle reminder that each time you RETWEET one of my tweets you get ANOTHER chance to win the FOURTH FREE COPY to be given away on Tuesday, 31 July, 2012. Just click on the yellow panel just below the book jacket opposite to find out how.

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/c7o4kty

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Ship and Whale

At the far end of Greenland Dock, in Rotherhithe, London, nestling away almost hidden behind the warehouse conversion along a narrow alley called ‘Randal’s Rents’ lies a big pub called the Ship and Whale. And it is one of the most important settings in my novel, Bokassa’s Last Apostle. This pub was the longest continuously gay pub in London, until it was tragically turned straight in the late nineties (if my memory serves me right). According to Dockyard Doris, in a conversation I had with her – inside the Ship and Whale as it turns out – she opened it as a gay venue back in the fifties. Before that it had been a brothel. This was back in the days when ‘the island’ as the area was called was pretty much a no-go area, cut off from the rest of London by the derelict Surrey Commercial Docks and riddled with gangsters.

So it was a natural place for Everton’s father to hide from Bokassa in my novel. I have rather shamelessly modelled a drag queen whom I’ve named ‘Tomatina’ on Dockyard Doris. The boys run into her at a drag club called ‘The Way Out Club’ which is hidden away behind Tower Gateway station, and she tells them all about it. But I won’t spoil the plot by going on about it here. (Incidentally, I have resisted the temptation to use the curious fact I ran across that there is a street ‘festival’ in Spain called ‘Tomatina’, where the participants throw tomatoes at each other.) Apparently, according to Doris, one day she was playing there when a charabang full of pensioners came in, unaware it was a gay pub. Apparently they absolutely loved her act!

The pub was one of my regular hang-outs in the nineties. It benefitted from a late license, staying open until 2am well before the drinking laws were relaxed. It only managed this by closing the doors at midnight. How many times have I had to call them an be sneaked in via the kitchen! My brother lived in one of the docklands apartments a short walk away, and was completely unaware there actually was a pub there. He even took some of his straight friends there, although they were a bit nervous of visiting the gents. I subsequently moved to New Cross and frequently walked back through a back way in the small hours of the morning after the tube had closed down.

The structure of the building was unsound and, eventually, the brewery had to do something about it. In order to offset the enormous cost of the work, they had to convert the roomy upstairs staff accommodation into flats and surrendered their late licence because of the residents upstairs. In the process they decided it would re-open as a straight bar.

It used to be really cruisy, with a central bar across which it was easy to give the eager eye to someone on the other side, whilst you could have a civilised conversation with fellow drinkers just as well. At one side, there was a dance floor. It was a comfortable place to be, and the atmosphere was made more cruisy by the black wooden floor and painted out windows. To further ruin the atmosphere and to ensure the gay clientèle didn’t return, they laid a floral carpet, moved the bar to the side and opened out the windows. The place feel completely dead now. It was an act of cultural vandalism to turn it over to straight people.

More about the Ship and Whale in a forthcoming blog about the Pepys estate.

TinyURL for this poast: http://tinyurl.com/cmtl49x

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Putting an Infinitely Looping Slideshow on your Blogspot Blog

I would never have imagined how difficult it was going to be to get a simple (?) slideshow for my blog to display quotes and marketing information relating to my book, Bokassa’s Last Apostle! As you can see from the colourful banner at the top of my blog, I have finally found one, thanks to http://www.spiceupyourblog.com/2012/03/simple-stylish-jquery-image-slideshow.html.

There are other solutions, but I just wanted this simple facility to infinitely loop through some .jpgs I have made. I have used the facility to customise the gadget to remove the prev/next buttons and the slide numbers. I have also entered empty strings for the captions. The trick is to upload the .jpg files to a draft post. This stores them in blogger’s filespace. Looking at the draft post in HTML view reveals the URL to the images. This needs to be substituted into the code supplied by www.spiceupyourblog.com and, apart from taking care of the size of the images, that is just about it. The HTML view of the post holding the images will also show you the pixel dimensions of the images you just uploaded. Needless to say the original image files should all be the same size. Then you need to customise the code you inserted from spiceupyourblog.com with the pixel dimensions of the images and that is that! Unfortunately you cannot as far as I can see change the transition speed. For my purposes, displaying pithy slogans, this is just perfect.

(Assumes some familiarity with html, but you wouldn’t be able to use this widget without that.) NB Remember to back-up your template BEFORE editing it, or you could be in deep trouble!

Bokassa’s Last Apostle at the Printer!

The files for my novel Bokassa’s Last Apostle is now with the printer, resplendently adorned with seven juicy quotes from my reviewers. In the process of editing it, I managed to tidy up the chapters so they mostly filled the last page with print. This meant making just a few tiny edits to paragraphs with only a few words on the last line. Hidden away in the text there are eight strategically placed hyphens breaking words at the end of a line in which there were large spaces between the words. Without them, the book would be eight pages longer. As it is, I have increased the gutter by 5mm and reduced the length by 16 pages. Choosing different paper and editing out white space makes it almost 5mm thinner as well.

I’m eagerly awaiting the proofs and hope to get my hands on the finished books well before the launch party on the Wibbly Wobbly (20 August 2012).

Just drew the winner of the second free copy of Bokassa’s Last Apostle. The lucky winner is @EDITIONSDUFRIGO. I’m drawing another on Thursday, 26 August, 2012. So &helip; get busy and make friends on Facebook, use the ‘like’ buttons on this blog or re-tweet any of my tweets and EACH TIME you do you get another chance to win the third free copy on the 26th. Read the sample (there’s a like button at the bottom) by clicking on the book jacket or even click through and get the Kindle version and read it through to the end, if you just can’t wait until it appears in the bookshops!

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/c8wrm4o

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Book Promotion Changes

As the publication date for Bokassa’s Last Apostle approaches (20 August 2012) I have announced a promotional giveaway of TEN free copies of my book. For details, click on the YELLOW box in the menu panel to the right. I’ve decided that to make this more interesting, I’m going to turn this into TEN SEPARATE draws for one book each, spaced so the draws become more frequent as the 20th approaches. And I’ve awarded the first copy to @LGBTQNation on twitter. They were chosen by a random number generator on an excel spreadsheet. The next draw will be made at midnight on Saturday 21 July.

I have made a new page with details of the ticket holders and draw dates etc. which is here. A very brief look at the list will make it perfectly clear that the overwhelming majority of tickets are as a result of follows on Twitter. Reading the rules you will see that ADDITIONAL TICKETS can be had for EVERY retweet, FRIEND request, LIKE on facebook and GOODREADS review. SO IF you REALLY REALLY want a better chance of getting your hands on a FREE copy of Bokassa’s Last Apostle, retweet a few of my tweets and go right to the front of the queue!

Remember to continue following me on twitter or remaining friends on Facebook until the END of the promotion (20 August 2012) as I need to be able to contact you to send out your book.

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/d2vkjcw

Friday, 6 July 2012

Not Quite According to plan...

Just back from my reading on the Heath. To say it didn’t go quite according to plan is a complete understatement! Armed with folding wallpaper-pasting table and a Sainsbury’s ‘bag for life’ packed with wine boxes, nibbles, paper plates, plastic cups, book, flyer, catalogues camping lantern and a handy clip on-reading light, I clambered aboard the 183 bus to Golders Green.

The upstanding black-coated citizens of Golders Green on their way to the Synagogue (it was the Sabbath close to nightfall, after all) alerted me to my impending destination. A short cab ride later (and £5 lighter, this is London, after all, but I sure as hell wasn’t carting my baggage up that hill by myself) and I was down the path and setting-up my illicit stall well before the publicised 9 o'clock start.

It looked deserted, but I managed to attract the attention of some guys out for the night and pressed flyers into their hands and invited them to come back at 9.15 (having already decided I was there too early). Needless to say, none came back, but all were positive about the book and said they would take a look. Let’s see what the ‘click-through’ rate is!

I haven’t had much luck finding a cameraman, and have discovered that the sound quality on the video camera I got on ebay leaves a lot to be desired, so maybe the lack of an audience and technical difficulties weren’t so grave. I decided to change tack and engaged future passers-by with an offer of free wine in return for a chat about my book. Direct, one-to-one contact with customers. Perfect! And, sure enough, as time went by a trickle of people stopped by for a chat and were very positive about the book. I suspect I must have distributed at least twenty flyers to people who expresed a positive interest in my book. Night fell, and I turned on my camping light.

The effect was that I couldn't actually see the people coming down the path, because the glare of the light in my eyes rendered them invisible to me. I had to listen for their footfalls crunching the stony path and then wait until they came into the illuminated perimeter. To my complete surprise, light began approaching from down the path, and a POLICE van came slowly and deliberately into view and, obviously, stopped opposite my stall.

Bear in mind here that even putting up a table on Hampstead Heath is illegal, or at least prohibited under the by-laws, as is reading a book or distributing leaflets. Ironically, making a video isn’t, as the by-laws date back to 1935. I explained myself to the two members of the eight-strong Hampstead Heath Police Force (carefully neglecting to mention the two wine boxes, which they could of course clearly see in the glare of my lantern), but I needn’t have worried. They were as nice as pie and let me tell them about my book. I gave them flyers. They were particularly interested that the book opened on the Heath and especially so because it involved outreach workers distributing condoms. As it happened, the Terrence Higgins Trust were doing precisely that elsewhere on the Heath tonight, accompanied by one of their colleagues. They actually radioed him and got them to come over to talk about my book.

And, whilst I was engaging two other guys, a couple strolled up and made a bee-line directly for me. They said they were interested and I noticed one had a Terrence Higgins Trust tee-shirt. So I rather stupidly said, ‘Oh, so you’ve been sent by Lily Law.’ Which was the wrong thing to say, as the other guy turned out to be Lily Law in the person of the LGBT Liaison Officer for the Heath. Despite a bit of teasing, he assured me I could continue what I was doing and we had a nice chat. I said I was about to go home, and he suggested I stay longer because it would probably get busier. Then he gave me the information I really didn’t want to hear: It had been heaving the weekend before.

So I stayed, and I made further contacts, but, after a while, it became apparent that people were more interested in cruising than in talking to me. Astonishingly, they even refused the free wine, although many had driven to the Heath. I was thinking of packing up when a black guy dressed in leather holding a chain attached to a collar around the neck of an older white guy, otherwise completely naked and shaved from head to toe strolled up and stood in the full light of the camping lantern. We must have talked for several minutes, although he didn't want a flyer and I suspect he was more interested in making the white guy stand lit up for all to see in the glare of the light. Well, that definitely enlivened my evening.

And who should come around a few minutes later, but the guy from the Terrence Higgins Trust and the copper, who was very interested to know if I’d seen them. I said, ‘yes, they went down the path to the S&M area, it’s down there and over to the right,’ but he already knew. Turned out, his interest was just out of personal curiosity. It was getting late, and I needed to get the bus home, so I knocked it on the head at that point.

Now all I’m left pondering is how I’m going to dispose of the rest of the two boxes of wine. Surely even I can’t drink that in three days? Maybe I should save some for the ‘official’ launch of the e-book at the Wibbly Wobbly tommorrow evening. Disasters allowing, of course... ?

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/bwor3ja

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Bokassa goes LIVE on Kindle!

Yes, the Kindle version of Bokassa’s Last Apostle is now live on the Kindle Store. And I just made my very first SALE! Admittedly in the US, and so I won’t be getting any royalties until the sales exceed $100, but so close to uploading my book, it’s extremely encouraging! Click on the BLUE kindle panel in the right hand side of this blog to go to the page for my book on the Kindle store.

I’m looking forward to Pride and my impromtu reading tour (see posts below). Come along to any of the readings and get £2 off the e-book or paperback for a limited period only. But to use the discount code you’ll have to get your book from the paradise press website and enter it when you put the book into your shopping cart.

And don’t forget to enter the draw to win one of TEN free copies of the paperback. Find out how by clicking on the YELLOW panel to the right.

tinyURL for this page: http://tinyurl.com/ca95yn2

Sunday, 24 June 2012

e-books finished!

Bokassa’s Last Apostle, now finally edited and tidied-up has been converted into e-pub and Kindle e-books and will soon be live for purchase on this site. Although the official launch is on the day of Pride, 7 July 2012 at 7pm in the Wibbly Wobbly floating Bar on Greenland Dock, Rope St. SE16. The e-book is priced at £5.49. Come along to one of my readings to get a limited time only £2 off discount code. Facebook event details here: http://www.facebook.com/events/283393135091916/

Directions: Tube: Canada Water / Surrey Quays. Make your way to Surrey Quays Shopping Centre from either station and continue around the side and underneath the red bridge you will see on Redriff Road. Walk along the right hand side of the dock and the Wibbly Wobbly is moored alongside the dock wall near the river end.

Don’t forget to enter the draw for one of TEN free copies of the paperback! Find out how by clicking on the yellow panel opposite.

tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/72x4287

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Review from GScene Magazine

I found another review of my novel, Bokassa’s Last Apostle yesterday. It had been published on the 15th, so it was already five days old. It looks like I’m just going to have to resign myself to actively looking for reviews, rather than relying on them to send me a copy or a notification or anything like that.

The review is on the GScene Magazine website. A free distribution magazine in the Brighton area.

The reviewer is kind enough to compare my plotting with Tom Sharpe’s and, even though he says my characters have the emotional depth of Jordan (I had to google to find out that’s who ‘Katie Price’ used to be), he recognises that a lot of gay men will readily identify with emotionally shallow characters! And then he says it opens like Great Expectations and likewise is full of memorable characters. Is my characterisation being compared with that of Charles Dickens? Praise indeed! But I guess the best thing is that he ‘really (really) liked it’. My only problem now is distilling out another cover quote which will make someone browsing the shelves want to pick it up and proceed to the checkout! For what it’s worth, here’s the full text:

In this pacy and funny thriller, we follow the fortunes of Everton Jones, a mixed race boy from Dudley, as an inheritance left hidden in a bank vault by the Central African father he never knew leads him into a race against time to find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa's diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them before Bokassa's remaining followers, his "apostles" get there first.
Well this was interesting, daft and more than a little funny too, even if it’s got the emotional depth of Katie Price, but lets not open this review with a downer as I really (really) enjoyed this book.
The strongly plotted story is simple and easy, boy gets mugged, gets helped, discovers he’s got an inheritance, and then goes off with friends to find it. Sounds like Great Expectations and like that book this is full of memorable characters, wonderfully witty lines, some delightfully entertaining scenes, some hard truths and a happy ending, it’s even got some supernatural sidelines in it which are both scary and funny.
The gay protagonist gets more than he bargained for as he’s dragged into his new London life, he’s exposed to love and lust and has to grow up pretty fast and it’s the emotional exploration of the characters that I found least convincing, although I’m sure there’s a certain type of gay man who would sympathise completely with the shallowness of these men.
The gay life of London is described with a real wit and it’s nice that most of the characters are black or working class; makes a nice change. There’s some hot erotic scenes mixed in although they are strictly part of the story development, this is a novel not a one handed read. The rest of the loony plot more than makes up for this slight emotional over-sight though and as the characters get closer to the truth and the narrative tension rises there are some wonderful scenes, some laugh out loud moments and some darker ones too.
Shelton reminds me of Tom Sharp in the way that as the narrative engine gets going, and all the various plot elements get engaged with each other, it starts to pound with a fury towards a brilliantly neat ending.
Great fun, some history thrown in there too, an interesting exploration of black gay London life and the tender adventure of a young gay man on his exploration into the unforgiving London scene and the way groups of gay men come together to meld freindships.
For a first novel this is a wonderful introduction to the authors - Rod Shelton -imagination and I enjoyed every page of it and was disappointed when I’d got to the end. I’ve put it to one side for a re-reading at some point. Which is the best review I could possibly give it.
It might not be great literature, but it’s great fun and the perfect holiday read.
If you’re after a positive fun book which some delightfully mischief characters and a thumping good plot then I’d say go buy it, now. It will leave you smiling.

tiny URL for this post:http://tinyurl.com/crl7tbj

and here’s the link to the original review: http://www.gscene.com/books/Bokassa_s_Last_Apostle_by_Rod_Shelton.shtml

Don’t forget to enter the draw for one of TEN free copies of the book! Just click on the yellow panel in the right-hand column for details. Or come along to any of the readings planned in London at Pride (6-8 July 2012). Watch this space or look at earlier posts for details. NB The e-book is now ready in e-pub format and is being converted to Kindle. It launches officially at Pride on 7 July. Come along to my readings to get a discount code and get £2 off the e-book!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Bokassa makes Gay Times Summer Reading List

Sometimes, you get nice surprises. Gay Times was mailed a free copy of my book at the end of April and sent a letter asking if they had any pithy quotes to use on the cover. No news came from them. And then… and then… in an idle and curious moment I googled "Bokassa’s Last Apostle and, after wading through the pages of results from peer review sites and my blog, I found this: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk/Interact/Blogs-articleid-9041-sectionid-767.html Gay Times blog site carrying an article listing MY book as one of their five chosen ‘summer reads’. Not only that, but a very nice review and they have even used the cover to mock up a travel bag!

On a sour note, they have got my name wrong And they can’t spell ‘Emperor’. Oh well, that’s a phone call on Wednesday.

Here’s the text of the review:
Bokassa’s Last Apostle – Paul[sic] Shelton’s debut novel takes its reader to places it never expects to go. From running naked on Hampstead Heath with our protagonist, Everton Jones, we go on to meet a hilarious cast of characters in London’s gay scene to help him find the secret diamond cache of the Emporer[sic] Bokassa. But before he can get his hands on the treasure he has to contend with the an army of mimes, a demon, and a violent gang war. With a plot that reads like Alice in Wonderland on poppers, you’ll be laughing at this little diamond all the way back from the airport.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to win a free copy! click on the yellow box opposite to find out how!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Bokassa gets a good review!

Having sent out review copies to all the usual suspects, and a bit disappointed at not hearing what had happened to the copies I’d sent, I realised I hadn’t heard from Polari Magazine. For some reason they don’t put an address on their website, and I emailed the editor asking him where to send my book. I sent a reminder email and finally got the address of their reviewer. He got back to me thanking me for the book and saying he was inevitably busy with two other reviews and would get to mine in due course. To my enormous surprise, I just got an email from him saying he was reading it now, at the expense of the other two reviews, because it was such a gripping read! AND he gave me a cover quote:
‘a fast-paced and picaresque romp – funny, sexy and intriguing’
I couldn’t have asked for a better write-up! It’s going to have pride of place just above Everton’s hair on the front cover.

I feel a bit guilty, really,because I should have warned him not to ‘dip in’ before he was ready to do the review. But I didn’t want to seem to be blowing my own trumpet. Unfortunately for him, the story keeps up the same pace right until the very end, and he’s only got to chapter 9. Still, I now know the book does what it says on the lid!

Don’t forget to interact with my social media to get the chance of getting one of TEN free copies. Or come to the reading on Hampstead Heath on the Friday before Pride. Or to the others on the day of Pride. But, if you do win one of them, don’t ‘dip in’ unless you have the time to read it all! Tiny url for this post: http://tinyurl.com/d72azem

Friday, 11 May 2012

Sleaze Sells

I was browsing the Kindle store’s Lesbian and Gay section and was struck by the large number of e-books with lurid covers promising (and delivering, boy were they delivering) rampant and graphic sex. Cool, everyone loves sex. And they do say it’s difficult to get right. Although I suppose writing sex could be considered like performing it. Some people are just good at it, some people have to practice and some people just suck. Anwyay, I was put in mind of an observation on a programme about e-books on the radio a few months back. Apparently, a large percentage of Kindle owners, when asked, said they would not want to have their Kindle returned to them if it were lost. Curious, you might think, until you realise that their Kindle was probably loaded with books they bought cheaply and of which they are not particularly proud. In other words, it was full of smut. Those graphic covers of the books on the shelves of the shops in Soho with blacked-out windows are not the sort of thing you want to be seen reading in the Tube on the way home, however much you want to dive into the steamy, sweaty coupling promised by the picture on the front. And that’s where the Kindle has worked yet another revolution in our lives. Smut can be downloaded and read completely anonymously. You might as well be reading Thomas Hardy or Jane Austin, so far as the people on the bus are aware. Always provided you can conceal the bulge in your trousers and remember when to get off …

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Yet another reading (well two, actually)

As part of my July Pride reading of Bokassa’s Last Apostle, I'm going to be getting the 10.23am riverbus from Greenwich Pier to Tower Millenium Pier and reading from my book at the back of the bus. Then getting off at Tower Pier, I’ll be taking a very short tube ride to the Monument and reading again from my novel at the very top. Both readings will be videoed. Anyone and everyone is welcome to turn up. If you are intending to come, please visit my facebook profile and RSVP. The link to the Riverbus event is here and the link to the Monument event is here.

Date: 7 July 2012.

Riverbus: leaves Greenwich at 10.23am. Cost: £6 single. 10% discount with Oyster Pay as you go.

Monument: I will be at the foot of the Monument at 11.00am and need to be at the bottom by 12pm at the absolute latest. Be prepared for a long climb up the spiral staircase inside! Cost: £3.

I’m then going off to do a reading at Wood Green Library, then returning to central London hopefully to have some fun at the Pride festival. And fitting in another one or two readings.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A Gay Olympics flag?

I suppose it’s a bit obvious but, if queers in London want to support the Olympics, they could do worse than switch the colours of the Olympic flag for those of the gay rainbow flag. Pictured is my version of a gay olympic flag. The colours are identical with those of the gay rainbow flag in Wikipedia. Before I posted this I googled "gay olympic flag" to discover that Gay Star News had run an April Fool’s joke about the IOC having decided to add a pink ring to the Olympic flag! Read the article here. Midland Zone for one seems to have been suckered in. Details here. Google images search seems not to have found any matches for anything looking like what I have come up with. It’s probably copyright heresy, but, what the hell. If you like the idea of a gay olympic flag, please tell everyone! If anyone wants to get some made, I'll sue your balls off if you don't cut me in! In fact damn me, I'm asserting my moral rights to the copyright! © Rod Shelton 2012. So there! If it’s already been suggested, please let me know!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Monkey Elected as Mayor

Random but amusing post: The News Quizz today brought this to my attention. Back in 2002, the Mayoral Election in Hartlepool was won by... A monkey! The mascot of the local football club decided to stand as mayor in an attempt to ridicule the office. His campaign had "Free bananas for schoolchildren". Much to the chagrin of the main political parties, he actually WON! He’s obviously a colorful character, as he has been twice thrown out of away games for simulating sex with a female steward and an inflatable doll. The football club is called ‘the Monkey Hangers’ because the town once hanged a monkey one the basis that it was a spy for Napoleon. Apparently the monkey was re-elected on Thursday. He began campaigning wearing the usual business suit, but after strident demands from the townsfolk he was forced to put the monkey suit back on! You just couldn’t make it up! OK, so it ain’t exactly today’s news, but it is amusing!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

On Hampstead Heath ...

So begins the scene where we meet Kash and Édouard in my novel, Bokassa’s Last Apostle. They are manning a stall on Hampstead Heath, giving out free condoms and lube. I took a stroll onto the heath recently on a damp and drizzly spring afternoon. Obviously, there was nothing untoward going on, just a lady walking her dogs. It is very different at nighttime, when the opening of my novel is set. My hero, Everton Jones, wakes up after being beaten unconscious and having all his possessions stolen, including his clothes. At the junction of the path in the picture above, Kash and Édouard have set up a folding table and are giving out the free packets of condoms. When Everton runs, stark naked, down this path:



I'm planning to read the first chapter of my book at this very spot on the Friday before Pride, that’s 6 July 2012 at 9pm. (provisionally). This, and a series of readings in the places where the action takes place, are going to be videoed and put up on youTube and here, of course. But, how do you get there?

Everton gets there by getting off the bus from Birmingham at Golders Green to look for a pub. He turns the wrong way out of the bus station and goes to his left, up the hill. He eventually does find a pub, this pub:

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Update on Bokassa's Last Apostle

The review copies of Bokassa’s Last Apostle arrived on Thursday and half have already been sent out! Watch this space to hear what the great and the good think of my book. Just began an internet raffle to get the message out about the book. I’m asking people to use their social media to widen awareness of the book and to get people reading the sample. Check this link for details. TEN copies must be given away! Plans for a series of videoed readings around London at Pride, including one on Hampstead Heath and another one (or maybe two) in saunas (OK, so I like saunas!). I’ve also just had my book accepted to be read at the Third Unpublished Fiction Writers Open reading 2012, at Wood Green Library on 7th July from 1–4pm. Even though it will be unpublished for not much longer! here’s the link to the details of the event. Catch me on the 7th at the top of the Monument, in the bar at the Wibbley Wobbley Restaurant boat/Bar at Surrey Quays/Greenland Dock, in the Jamaican Café at New Cross Gate and as many other locations as I can fit in! Watch this space and facebook for details!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The efficacy of a Grigri



In my novel, Bokassa’s Last Apostle, the hero, Everton is given an envelope, containing a ring once owned by Emperor Bokassa and what he thinks is a necklace. It turns out to be a ‘grigri’, an African charm to ward off demons. They are sometimes called ‘fetishes’ and typically contain some sort of object to give them their alleged magical power. Pictured above is the Marché des Fétiches in Lomé, Togo, a famous street market, reminiscent of Diagon Alley in a novel by someone or other, I can’t quite remember. (LOL) I’ve encountered one of these myself, when I went with a guy from Sénégal many years ago.  A black leather pouch on a thread dangling around his balls. The wearer is sometimes supposed to be invisible, or to have the ability to deflect the path of bullets to escape being shot, but, in return, has to avoid eating certain foods and even to refrain from sexual activity, or the grigri loses its potency.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Kudos Closes

Researching some of the  settings in my book, Bokassa’s Last Apostle, for a planned series of filmed readings, I googled ‘Kudos’, only to find the first hit said ‘Kudos-closed’! Further down the search results I found another entry, stating it had changed to ‘Gilberts Bar’. I visited it on Sunday and the reality is even worse. Whatever it had become, it is now very obviously CLOSED! Asking around at Halfway to Heaven, the nearest gay bar, the barman had no idea what had become of it. I finally got an answer at Old Comptons. It had been off the gaydar ‘for years’. It has clearly been rebranded at least once after becoming ‘Gilberts’, as the building had a sign saying Blitz on the front. Peeking through the door, the inside looked like a bomb had hit it.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Bokassa's Last Apostle with the printer

Bokassa’s Last Apostle finally makes it into hard copy! I received the printer's proof and signed it off yesterday. Hopefully, by the end of the week the finished review copies should be in my hands!

But it hasn’t been without its difficulties. At the very last minute, I was "lucky" enough to happen across www.londonstreetgangs.com, and an answer to a niggling question: what colour are the bandannas of the ‘Ghetto Boys’? (A street gang in New Cross I have incorporated into my storyline.) Literally at the last miute I was able to get the correct colour written into the text.

The sample opposite can be read by clicking on the cover image.
 
Twitter Bird Gadget