Never work with children or animals.

VITA BREVIS finally makes it into paperback in the UK today (hooray!) so it seems right to mark the occasion. I can hardly have a launch party for a book that’s been out in hardback and ebook for some time now, but on the other hand, unless people know it’s there, who will buy it?  In any case, who will notice my modest efforts at publicity in the plethora of “look at my book!” appeals on social media? Luckily I hit upon a cunning plan.

What people really seem to like on social media is pictures of cats. Or small children. Or both. There are no small children at Downie Towers,  but if I were to sneakily photograph a cat next to my book . . . what could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out, quite a lot.

Hand holding up book, tabby cat.
Does this look a bit staged?

 

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Not really what I had in mind.
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The photographer’s knee really adds to the composition here.
Cat looking indifferent
No interest
Cat with head obscuring book
Too much interest
Cat standing over book, looking disdainful
“I read it and I didn’t like it.”
Blurred shot of cat's departing back: half book visible
Wrong in so many ways.
Cat standing over book with head blurred
Speed reading
Cat smelling book.
Always smell a book first.
Cat dozing over book
This book will send you to sleep.
Cat with head obscuring book
Too much cat, not enough book
Cat with head turned away
Too much book, not enought cat
Cat with back to book, looking elsewhere.
Strike action is under way.
Cat staring at cat treat placed on book
Finally, the secret of arousing interest: a free cat treat with every copy.

Read the start of VITA BREVIS in a cat-free zone here.

 

VITA BREVIS now in paperback in the USA!

Vita Brevis HB coverVITA BREVIS, the story of Ruso and Tilla’s trip to Rome, is published in paperback in America today!

Ask at your local bookshop, or find it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Meanwhile, also in the USA, MEDICUS – the first book in the series – is still a July Deal on Kindle.

Apologies to friends here in the UK – the paperback IS on the way, and will appear on 7 September.  Hive (which supports your local bookshop), Amazon and The Book Depository already have it listed and will be very happy to receive pre-orders.

 

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Saturday, final stop on the Blog Tour – For Winter Nights

Many thanks to For Winter Nights, the final host on the Blog Tour!

If you haven’t yet discovered this excellent book blog, now is a good time to nip across there – not only for the chance to win a copy of Vita Brevis, but also to browse a splendid collection of reviews and articles, and to get some ideas for good books to fill those long winter evenings.

In case anyone wants to catch up, here’s the list of people who’ve been kind enough to host the tour over the past week. My thanks to all of them, and also to the fine folk of Bloomsbury UK (you know who you are!) who did all the legwork making the arrangements.

Blog tour schedule

 

Friday on the Blog Tour – Hoover Book Reviews

Day 7, and the last-but-one stop on the tour today! Across the water to Detroit and Hoover Book Reviews,  which is a splendid place to browse if you’re on the hunt for contemporary fiction based in the ancient world – and more. (Nip across there and scroll down to where it says ‘categories’ on the right, and you’ll see what I mean.)

Big thanks to Paul Bennett, the man behind it all, for his very kind words about Vita Brevis.

Thursday on the blog tour – Roma Nova

Blog tour day 6, and thanks to the splendid Alison Morton for the invitation to join her love-me*-love-my-character series for a chat about Ruso. (*this part, as an Italian driver once said to my husband when discussing traffic lights, is ‘merely a suggestion’.)
Alison is the creator not only of thrillers but of a whole world, Roma Nova, in which Rome never fell but remains a modern European state – and believe me, you wouldn’t want to mess with it.

Monday on the blog tour – A Fantastical Librarian

Today I’m honoured to join Mieneke van der Salm, the award-nominated Fantastical Librarian. Check out her web pages for a wide selection of reviews and author interviews, and this link  for a chance to win a copy of VITA BREVIS wherever you live.

If I’d realised Mieneke was also a real librarian, I’d have tidied the shelves at Downie Towers…

Sunday on the blog tour – SJA Turney, plus a brief diversion

 

Today I’m visiting The Worlds of SJA Turney. Simon was one of the co-conspirators on our book about the Boudiccan rebellion, A Year of Ravens, but there are no rebel queens in this piece – I’ve been pondering the difference between writing about Roman Britain and writing about Rome itself.

Not content with living in one world, Simon has several at his fingertips – do take a stroll around his site and find out more.

LATER – and today is the day I take a quick diversion from the tour – Diana Milne of The Review has kindly posted a ‘virtual’ interview from the HNS conference, where I reveal the guilty truth about what I’d write for fun, and there’s a chance to win a copy of VITA BREVIS.

Incidentally, this business of being in two places at once has a long history. Apparently it was one of the skills of Pythagoras, now more famous as a mathematician.

VITA BREVIS is (almost) out in the UK!

At last! The hardback of VITA BREVIS, the story of Ruso and Tilla’s trip to Rome, goes on sale in the UK tomorrow (22 September). Vita Brevis HB coverYou can read the beginning here.

This publication is less nerve-wracking than usual because the book’s already been released in the US and in other formats here, and I’m grateful to everyone who’s said kind things about it.  It may well come to a bookshop or library near you, and is available online (see below). But…  the mighty Amazon UK don’t have it in stock. It’s probably a glitch that’ll be fixed before I’ve finished typing this*, but I was surprised – and ashamed, to be honest – by how alarmed I felt at facing publication day without the Big A on board. (*LATER – it wasn’t, but it is now.)

All of which left me thinking that life must have been so much simpler in the days when a book was either on the shelf in front of you, or it wasn’t. So I took a little look back to the early 1900’s, when one small seaside resort in Devon could support FIVE circulating libraries/bookshops, all competing for the cash of locals and visitors alike:Advertisement for circulating library

As each library was run on a subscription basis, readers would have to choose between them. (Maybe things weren’t as different then as we imagine. It’s not so far from the Netflix/Prime/Other-subscriptions-are-available debate, is it?) There’s a refreshing honesty about the advertising, though:

Advertisement for library

Perhaps the deciding factor would be price.

List of subscription prices

Hm. Shall I buy a year’s access to Class A books, or nine gallons of stout?

Brewery price list

Rather than commit to a subscription, you could always buy books outright from the same shop.

WH Smith advert for Cheap Editions

Some of the books on sale would be published on the premises. Indeed, should you wish to write your own book, pens and paper would be readily available to purchase. Sadly delivery by drone was not on offer, but someone from Vince’s would obligingly wheel your books through the streets to you in a splendid wooden hand-cart. (I used to have a photo of this but annoyingly, I can’t find it.)

Full marks to Vince’s yet again for imaginative marketing…

Advert for paper to make hats with

I have no idea why enough people might want a paper hat to warrant the cost of the advertisement. Maybe they were sunning themselves on the beaches? It’s a reminder that despite the parallels, those were very different times. Here’s an advertisement from the autumn of 1914.

Advert for maps made by Englishmen

I like to think we’ve moved on. And mindful of the awful events about to engulf the readers of these advertisements, I think I’ve got that mere hiccup on a 21st century website back into some sort of proportion.

 

The research for this post was done at the delightful Ilfracombe Museum.

* VITA BREVIS is available from bookshops or online at:

Bloomsbury UK

Hive

Blackwells (who also own Heffers in Cambridge, where I believe there is stock on the shelf.)

Waterstones

The Book Depository

Amazon UK

If anyone has any other suggestions, please share.

 

Caption Competition winner!

Mosaic of two men

Many thanks to everyone who’s kept Downie Towers chuckling over the last couple of weeks with captions for the mosaic, both here and on Facebook. Special mentions go to:

Paul Bennett for, “Honey, I shrunk the Emperor.”

Ian Hobbs for, “I don’t care how proud you are, you cannot send a picture of that over Twitter!”

Helen Hollick for, “(Man standing:) ‘Look Ruso, if you really want to get that First Aid book of yours written do it somewhere else, I’m here to rehearse the lavy scene with Mr Jacobi for the BBC series I Claudius. And in answer to your question, no I don’t think sitting here in the buff will cure you of writer’s block.’ ”

Jonathan Palfrey for, “And you thought you could win the Virility Trophy with that? Next!”

but… the overall UK winner of a copy of VITA BREVIS is

CORVIA, with, “Which part of ‘Toga Party’ didn’t you understand?”

Congratulations, Corvia! I’ll email you to find out where to send the book.