Category Archives: It Never Was You

Just 48 hours to go to help make it happen for Gramps

There are just 2 days left before our Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the initial print run of It Never Was You finishes, and we’re still short of the target amount needed to make it happen.

We’re trying to raise funds through Indiegogo for two reasons.

1. We need to secure funds to pay the printers who will run off the first 100 copies of William’s wonderful new book.
2. By asking our friends, family, loyal and new readers to contribute this way, we’re giving them the chance to read the book well ahead of its official release date in April.

It’s a win-win scenario. Everyone who contributes £5 can choose to receive the ebook version of It Never Was You. By contributing £10, you can choose to receive the paperback, hot off the press! I’m expecting the ebooks to be available mid-March, with the paperbacks expected back from the printers late-March. They’ll be sent to contributors the moment they’re ready. They won’t be available to buy until late April.

It Never Was You is a truly epic love story. Set amongst the sprawling Liverpool docks during the Second World War, it continues the saga started in Pegasus Falling, I am certain that it will become a classic, but that will only happen if we can give it the launch it deserves.

How can I make a contribution? 

1. Head to http://igg.me/at/cypressbranches/x/2088376
2. Scroll down to the Perks (on the right) and choose either the “It Never Was You advance ebook” (minimum contribution £5) or “It Never Was You paperback” (minimum contribution £10).
3. Enter your details (I’ll need a postal address to send the paperback to) and click on “Check out with PayPal”. You don’t have to have a PayPal account to contribute – click on “Pay with a credit or debit card” when you get to the PayPal checkout and uncheck the box where it asks you to enter log in details.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has or is about to contribute, as well as all the wonderful bloggers, tweeters and Facebook friends who have been busily helping me get the word out about this campaign over the past month. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you, all!

Happy reading!

Mike

It Never Was You is ready to (indiego)go!

It Never Was You will be released some time in April. Yep, that’s a month later than previously announced, but having looked at the lead times, I realised I was being a little hasty and have had to put it back by a few weeks.

I know that will come as a blow to many readers who are waiting patiently to read it. However, there is a way to get your hands on a copy early. Want to know how? Then read on…

Want to get hold of It Never Was You before anyone else?
Click here to head to the campaign and grab the perk!

In order to give It Never Was You the launch it deserves, I’ve put together a crowd funding campaign on indiegogo.com.

indiegogo is a great place where all sorts of people from around the world are raising money for all kinds of concerns. From film makers trying to get their latest project off the ground to charities raising awareness of their cause, it’s full of inspiring stories and projects and well worth a browse.

Publishing the Cypress Branches trilogy is a labour of love for me, and it’s something I do without the aim of making a profit – in fact, I’ve ploughed a lot more money in than I’ve got out. The reason I do it is because I’m determined to see William’s work in print. That vision, and this project, costs money, and that’s where this campaign comes in.

Last year I was able to fund a print run and the beginnings of a marketing push for Pegasus Falling using my own funds before selling one book. This year, I was facing the possibility of having to launch It Never Was You without any funding available. Whilst I would have been able to launch the books by making them available as an ebook and via print-on-demand on Amazon, I would not have been able to distribute them to a wider audience. That would mean that I would not be able to supply the shops which stock Pegasus Falling with stocks of its sequel, or send copies to journalists, reviewers and bloggers. Not the best way to keep the momentum going! By creating this campaign, I should be able to give It Never Was You the push it deserves.

So why indiegogo? 

One of the great innovations of the site is something they call “perks”. Perks are rewards which people can claim in exchange for a contribution. Film makers provide anything from a DVD of their finished movie to the chance to go on set during filming. Charities offer a warm fuzzy feeling or priority booking on fundraising events.

I’ve made one of the perks of contributing to the Cypress Branches campaign being able to get your hands on an advance copy of It Never Was You. Depending on your budget (or your preference!) you can request an ebook or paperback copy as a perk, sent to you as soon as the files are ready / the books are printed in mid March, and before they appear on Amazon or in the shops. By grabbing one of these perks, you’ll get a copy at the same time as the review copies go out, and be amongst the first to read it.

It’s the perfect solution, I think. I can raise funds to ensure that I can give It Never Was You the perfect launch, and also make sure that all you lovely lot who have supported me over the past year or more get the chance to read the book sooner. (And enjoy the bragging rights!)

If you’re feeling generous and fancy treating yourself to an extra special perk, there is also the chance to own a copy with a personal handwritten note from me inside, or a rare copy of the hardback edition featuring the original manuscript we printed back in 2009 or even get your name added to the acknowledgements page.

Whatever way of contributing you choose, you can be sure that every penny raised will go towards getting William’s books into print. I’ve set the target at £2,000. This will pay for an initial print run of It Never Was You, a second run of Pegasus Falling and a big marketing push to get sales going.

The great thing is that we can keep raising money, even if we reach the target before the end of the campaign. If we can smash the target, I’ll plough all the extra money straight back into the project, starting work on Part Three of the trilogy as soon as possible.

If we don’t reach the target, I will still receive around 90% of the funds pledged (indiegogo raise their fees to 9% if you don’t reach your target). Whilst this would be less than ideal, it will still mean that I can go ahead with launching It Never Was You – but the print run may have to be postponed or curtailed and the marketing will be much scaled back. This would be sad. Let’s not think about it.

Spread the word…

The success of the campaign very much depends on how far we can spread the word. If you’d love to see William’s trilogy taking a significant step closer to completion, then please help get the word out there by heading to the campaign page and using the “share this campaign” tools. You can “Like” it on Facebook, send a tweet, do whatever you do on G+, share on your blog or website, send your friends an email or do all of the above, all from within the campaign. You can also post comments, check for updates and brag to your friends that you’re helping William get his books printed.

And the cool thing is that the more of us who share, the greater chance we have of raising the profile of the campaign on indiegogo itself! They use an algorithm which measures a campaign’s success and attributes it a “gogofactor”. The higher the gogofactor, the higher up the campaign goes in the listings, and the better chance it has of being spotted by others using the site.

I won’t be releasing any copies of It Never Was You to general buyers until the official launch date. The only way to get a copy before then is to contribute to the campaign and request the perk. Then you’ll not only get that warm fuzzy feeling from knowing you’re helping me get William’s books out there and into the hands of the audience we all know will love them, but you’ll also be able to read them before anyone else! Now there’s bragging rights!

Head to the campaign page now, grab your perk and get sharing! 

As ever, happy reading, everyone and thank you all for your continued support!

COVER REVEAL: It Never Was You

It is with great pleasure, and a lot of excitement, that I can reveal the front cover image of It Never Was You, part two of the Cypress Branches trilogy.

I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s a very powerful image and captures the essence of what It Never Was You is all about – a powerful love story set against the backdrop of post-war Liverpool.

Remember the images this cover has been derived from (click here for the post)? It’s taken a lot of hard work (and steep learning curves!) to turn those images into this cover. Thanks again to our wonderful actors/models, Mark and Geri, the photographer Dewi, stylist Becky, Katie our host for the day, and everyone else who helped with the photo shoot. It was a great day and I hope you agree when I say I think it was well worth the effort.

“Yeah, yeah, but when do we get to read it?!” I hear you all crying. Well, there’s not long to wait now. The book is being proofread at the moment, and the finishing touches will be made to the paperback and the ebook in the coming weeks.

There’s no exact launch date yet, but I’m hoping that advance copies will be available by early February with a full-blown launch in March. I’m doing things a bit differently this time, and I’ll be posting more information about our launch campaign and how to get hold of your copy in the next couple of weeks.

This blog is the best place for news and updates which I’ll be posting throughout January and February, so why not subscribe to get the latest updates directly in your in-box the minute they’re posted? (Click on one of the “subscribe” options in the panel on the right.)

So what do you think? Feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Happy reading!

Mike

2013 and all that – what to expect from the year ahead

2012 was a year of change for me. I left a job which I’d been doing for 10 years to concentrate on publishing the trilogy, I moved house…twice, studied a bit and learned a hell of a lot about an industry which I didn’t have much of a clue about before I started. It was a year for learning, for trying new things out, reaching out to new people, making friends, making mistakes, getting better at what I’m doing and figuring out how to achieve what I want in the future.
This year is bound to be different. It will be a year of building on the foundations which were laid last year, of learning from those mistakes I made, making the most of my new connections and moving the Cypress Branches project forward. It should be an exciting year, and I have high hopes for a successful and prosperous one, but my approach will have to be different.
2012 was kind to me in that I found myself in a position where I could afford to take time out of work to concentrate on Pegasus Falling. But I’m going to have to move forward with a lot less time and money available.
I have always been realistic and never expected to make much, if anything, from this project, and sure enough, I haven’t. The most important thing was to do justice to William’s work and get the books out there so that people could read them. I’m now well over half way to making that happen. 
Much as I’d love to, I won’t be able to work on the books full-time, as I have done this year. I wish I could, but if you think that publishing a book will lead to instant millionaire status and the easy life, then think again. It’s been a tough slog this year and there have been virtually no financial rewards to speak of.
The pot of gold which I found myself with last year was never going to last forever, and I no longer have the luxury of being able to treat the Cypress Branches as my job. I need to return to paid employment, which means going back to working on the books part-time.
The year I have spent foundation-building has been important and I’m certainly glad I did it. It means that there is an audience for the books, which will hopefully continue to grow, and that I’m now in a position – 10 months after the publication of Pegasus Falling – to publish It Never Was You. Considering it took the best part of three years to get Pegasus Falling off the ground, because I was doing it in fits and starts between work contracts, I’m very pleased with that kind of progress!
So, it’s hi-ho, hi-ho and back off to work I go. And I’m glad, actually. As much as I’ve enjoyed working from home and being my own boss, I do miss the work routine – especially the commute. (Call me mad, but it’s true. Honestly, last year was dire from a reading point of view. I always read on the train, and because I wasn’t commuting, I virtually stopped reading. I’ve now got a TBR pile that’s about to collapse and I’m looking forward to enjoying my morning and evening read again.)
But that doesn’t mean that the Cypress Branches project is on hold. Oh no, there’s plenty to look forward to! I’m now looking forward to building on those foundations laid in 2012 and starting to add bricks and mortar over the coming months.
So, what is the plan?

The blog

I’m planning to make much more use of the blog this year, and to create more exciting content for readers of the books. I’m hoping to post much more frequently – at least once a week, on average – and with content which is much more relevant to readers.
I’ve got plenty of ideas in the pipeline which I hope will allow readers and fans to find out more about William and his writing. There are plenty of themes to explore, characters to profile and history to delve in to, and my aim is to build up a collection of interesting articles and resources which readers can dip in and out of to enhance their reading experience.
To help readers find the posts, the pages (which you may have noticed popped up on the site just before Christmas) will be updated with links and I’ll look into adding “further reading” links to the bottom of posts, should readers want to continue exploring. The plan is that over the course of the year Pegasus Falling and It Never Was You will both have the beginnings of an extensive archive which (hopefully!) readers will find valuable.
I’ve got reading groups as well as individuals in mind here, and if any of you have got any suggestions, please do get in touch.

It Never Was You

I am on the cusp of announcing the details for the release of It Never Was You – part two of the trilogy. The paperback and ebook will be released in late February, but keep an eye out for posts in the run up to the release date which will include the cover reveal, extracts and an exploration of the themes.

Part Three

Although Part Three of the trilogy is still nameless and still requires a lot of editing, it is still my plan to release it later this year – hopefully in time for Christmas. That seems a long way off, but it’s actually a very tight deadline! I’m certain that when people have read It Never Was You, they’ll be baying for Part Three, and I don’t intend keeping them waiting too long. It will be an exciting day when I can say that William’s trilogy is finished, and I don’t want to wait either! Once It Never Was You has been published and the initial publicity push has quietened down, I’ll be ploughing straight on with Part Three. (The first job will be naming it!)

More interaction

I wish that William was able to interact with his readers personally, but alas, that is not possible.
As William’s grandson, and his publisher, I’m very keen to interact with more and more readers on his behalf. I’d love for readers to be able to get to know him better, and I’ll be writing a number of articles to allow that to happen over the coming year.
In the mean time, I would love to hear from you, so get in touch if you have a question, have something to share or if there is something in particular you’d like to know more about William and his books.
I’ll be keeping in touch with the brilliant bloggers I got to know in 2012, and I’m aiming to get to know even more over the next 12 months. The indie publishing game is all about networking, and I’m hoping that with the new content on the blog, more interaction on various forums, as well as the completion of the trilogy, I’ll be able to connect with more and more readers.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads have all been brilliant for connecting with readers and other authors, and I plan to continue ploughing that furrow through 2013. If you haven’t already, please follow / like / add us wherever you find us.
So, that’s the plan. Now to put it into action!
First up, look out next week for a very exciting post. I’ll be revealing the cover image of It Never Was You. Can’t wait!
Happy reading…
Mike

FIRST LOOK – It Never Was You cover images

Saturday was a very exciting day. It was the photo shoot for the images which will be used to create the cover of book two of the Cypress Branches trilogy – It Never Was You.

The day followed the same format as the previous shoot for Pegasus Falling‘s cover, gathering family and friends on a shoestring budget and having some fun with actors, period costumes and a camera. I am lucky enough to know some very skilled, very generous (and very patient) people who agreed to help me out, and must thank Geraldine Allen and Mark Godfrey for allowing themselves to be transformed into Mary and Harry (the two main characters in the second book) for the day, and once again to Rebecca Potter for her wonderful hair, make-up and 1940s styling prowess and to Dewi Clough for taking these very evocative shots.

There is a very simple theme running through the Cypress Branches covers – strong women. There is a series of strong female characters at the heart of the novels, and I thought it would be appropriate to highlight them on the covers. Lesley is depicted on the first cover, holding Sammy’s red paratrooper’s beret. The vivacious and charismatic Mary will adorn book two. I already know who will appear on book three, but I won’t spill the beans just yet.

It was a fun day and I think we’ve ended up with some very powerful images which we’ll be able to coax into a great cover artwork. Of course, the finished cover will look very different to these images (please ignore the backgrounds – they’ll be painted out). There’s a lot of work to do, but in the mean time, here’s a taster of the shots we managed to get in the can.

MARY

HARRY & MARY EMBRACE

Ignore the backgrounds in these two pictures – they’ll be edited out!

ABSTRACT

What do you think? Is there a powerful book cover in here somewhere? Do you have a favourite? What do you think we should do with the images? There are plenty of ideas that I’m keen to play around with, but any suggestions or comments are always gratefully received…

Here we go again

Time has come to start preparing the second instalment of the Cypress Branches trilogy for publication. At the moment, there’s no firm publication date set, but I’m aiming for some time between November this year and March next year. I know, it’s a very wide window, but I need to see how things go before setting a firmer time. It would be nice to hit the November deadline (for more than just the obvious reasons), but I’ve got to be realistic and consider the fact that it took me nearly three years to get the first part ready to print. And now I’ve got to get part two ready whilst keeping everything going with Pegasus Falling. As much as I’d love to consider this my full time job, the truth is that I’m not Amanda Hocking or Kerry Wilkinson and a real job will beckon soon…so I must spend what time I have before the world of work calls me back making sure that as much as possible of the labour intensive work on It Never Was Youhas been done.
Having already launched Pegasus Falling and gone through the aches and pains that is self-publishing a novel, you’d think that doing it again would be a piece of cake, wouldn’t you? Well, truth be told, I’m kind of dreading it.  
For those of you who don’t know, William wrote The Cypress Branches as one large work. Not quite Lord of the Rings or War & Peace, but big enough to make it a substantial tome. It was an incredible feat, and one which took over his life for a significant portion of his retirement. It made a beautiful hardback, but was totally uneconomical to produce in its entirety as a paperback in its full form and the idea of producing a trilogy of paperbacks first came up on the day we launched the hardback way back in 2009.
With its episodic format, being split into six “books” and with the action passing from one set of characters to another, it appeared at first glance to lend itself perfectly to splitting into smaller chunks. A trilogy would surely be easy enough to pull off…with two “books” making up each part of the trilogy.
There’s always been a major problem with doing that though. And that’s that the action in The Cypress Branches starts with one set of characters (Harry and Mary) for the first five chapters, then abruptly switches to the second set (Sammy, Naomi and Lesley) and stays with them almost constantly until the end of book two, with hardly a mention of Harry and Mary again until book three begins. The reason for this becomes clear the further in to the book you venture.
That’s fine if you’re reading the whole work in one go. But If I had included those chapters in Pegasus Falling, readers would reach the dramatic conclusion of Sammy, Naomi and Lesley’s story and then, quite rightly, ask, “What on earth happened to Mary and Harry…and what did they have to do with what just happened?!”
So that’s why Harry and Mary’s story has been left out of Pegasus Falling. Those chapters from book one which have been omitted will form the beginning of It Never Was You, which will then pick up their story again. (And what does Harry and Mary’s story actually have to do with the proceedings of Pegasus Falling, I hear many readers cry? Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out, I’m afraid!)
So, problem solved with Pegasus Falling, but by cherry picking the chapters to include in that book, I have left myself with some burning questions and problems when putting together book two. There are several loose ends which need tidying up. That’s not to say It Never Was You will be inferior to Pegasus Falling – in fact, in my personal opinion, Harry and Mary’s story is equal to, if not more emotional than Sammy, Naomi and Lesley’s – it just means that I have to make some decisions – some hard decisions in some cases – about how to thread some parts together. As with Pegasus Falling, some sections may need to go. Others will need a bit of polishing. And I have to make sure that I don’t let emotional attachment get in the way. And without William there to discuss these problems with, it’s a heavy responsibility.
I said earlier that I was dreading this. That’s probably a little disingenuous. I’m probably looking forward to it more than dreading it – it’s just that there are some difficult choices to be made, choices which I would have much preferred to make in consultation with the author. I’ll blog more about that soon, but in the mean time, I need to knuckle down with the manuscript and familiarise myself with Harry, Mary and the Liverpool docks, the main setting of this particular piece of the story.
Yeah, ok, I am looking forward to it. It’s been a long time since I read this part of the book, and I have very fond memories of the characters. It’ll be good to see them again.