It’s an ePODemic

Print on Demand.  There’s so many options, it’s difficult to know where to turn.


And that’s my problem.  I don’t know where to turn.  A veritable plethora of PODs to pick from.  But which is the best?


Everyone seems to have their own opinions and pertinent points.  One offers free alterations, another has lower shipping costs, another better distribution.  But one might insist on a larger wholesale discount and another has greater printing costs.  It’s a conundrum which has my head spinning.


I’m looking from a UK point of view, remember.  I don’t know how these companies work in your respective countries, but the main options here include:





Lightning Source

Ingram Spark


FeedARead is sponsored by the UK Arts Council, I believe, and Ingram Spark is essentially Lightning Source for people with less than 30 books – which removes Lightning Source from the options anyway.  CreateSpace doesn’t actually print in the UK (I could be wrong) and I’m worried about shipping costs.  Lulu is OK (I’ve used them before), but the shipping costs aren’t cheap and others have less production costs too.


Then there’s ‘Global Marketing’ or ‘Extended Distribution’ or whatever each company wants to call their particular flavour of getting your book out into the big wide world.  They don’t all take returns, which could rule out independent bookstores taking on copies.


CreateSpace are part of Amazon, so your books will be on there, which is great, but they all, pretty much, get your book on the Mighty A.  With CS, your book will always be in stock, whereas with others it could say it’s normally 3 weeks delivery.  Or 6 weeks, even.


Ingram Spark are, as the name suggests (and by association Lightning Source), part of Ingrams.  This means your book is automatically on the Ingrams catalogue, a very useful thing to have.  FeedARead apparently make sure you’re listed on Bertrms and Gardners, again, very useful when you want your baby in bricks’n’mortar stores.  In the UK, some of these list on Waterstones too.


I’m heard the CreateSpace interface for adding your book is fantastic, a real breeze.  Lightning Source, on the other hand, is meant to a real pain.  Lulu isn’t too bad but is somewhat awkward.


Who do you use?  And why?  And why not one of the others?  Of course, it’s each to their own.  It could come down to the toss of a coin, but I’d be interested in views.


It’ll help me make my own mind up!

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Stealing Moments…

Some ideas come from nowhere you can properly our your finger on. They seem to leap into your mind as if they were hiding behind that door wanting to make you jump. Or they feel like they’ve always been there, sneaking into your thoughts to the point where you can’t actually remember not having the idea in your head at all.
Then there’s the idea which comes from a word or a phrase or a picture or TV show. One that pops like a lightbulb and gets it’s claws into your brain and refusing to shake its grip. 
Last year, I went to the Manchester Ethiad stadium to see Bon Jovi.  It was a concert is wanted to go to for years and I have to admit I wish I’d done it years before as it didn’t live up to expectations. But that’s as may be. 
One if the support acts was excellent. James Walsh, ex of Starsailor, was grey and a pleasure to watch and listen to. One of his songs was Precious Stolen Moments, and an idea formed. 
Or the hint of an idea, at least. 
In fact, I don’t think it was even that. I think it was more like the title dug in for the winter, hibernating until the spring came and it could germinate into something much more. 
Well, spring is here. 
And the idea is germination and blossoming. 
Only the other day something was said about ‘stolen moments’ in a conversation with my wife, and that became the fertiliser I needed. 
Last week, I finished my story Secrets, the latest entry for my Darker Places collection – the follow up to Dark Places. My intention was to finish off Puddlebrain and continue to work on Mortal Sin, the sequel to Sin
Things don’t always happen as I intend, and I felt the need to finally begin the story about these ‘stolen moments’. 
And so it begins. I keep writing little bits as time allows, thankful for finally discovering OneNote on my iphone to let me keep track of such scribblings. 
Here it is so far. It’s not much but, and this is something which happens very rarely, I know where it’s going. I’ve even, after a fashion, written the ending. 
Stolen Moments
I help people. I help them. 
I don’t kill them. I… I help them. I…
When they have nowhere to go except into the hearafter, I bring the hand of Death and theirs together, to be led peacefully wherever they would be taken.  
When the edge of night threatens to darken their day, I bring a torch with which to guide them on.
I don’t kill them. 
I don’t…
It started…  Oh God, when did it start?  It seems so long ago. Another lifetime. Another me. Another town. Another…
Well. Just ‘another’ everything.
Then things changed. Things changed so much. It was as if space and time were spinning about their singularity and one dipped its toe into the chaotic waters and I was one of the ripples. 
The crow, I think. 
It started with the crow.
I hope it shows promise. I think it does. It has its claws in me anywho, so I’m stuck with finishing it. I’ll let you know when we’re done! 
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A Special Event

The game is a foot.  Hold on…  A foot?  Left or right?  Does it have one of those toes next to the big toe that super long and pokes out past its plumper sibling?  Erm…
No, the game is afoot.  That’s better.
I have to admit to being a massive Sherlock Holmes fan.  I always have enjoyed the character – though I’ve yet to actually read one of the books…  But, from Basil Rathbone through Jeremy Brett, via Robert Downey Jr. to the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch (well done on your NTA award!) I’ve watched the shows and films.  I even have the Sherlock Network mobile game.
Anywho.  What was I going on about?  Feet.  No.  Games.  Ah, I know – Author Days.
Yes, I know that was a bit random, but the connection, however tenuous, was right there in my head.
Author Days.  Or, rather, Day.  Singular.
Book signings are pretty cool, I think.  I enjoy them, personally, and I think those that come to meet, greet and grab a signed copy of one of my books like them too.  It’s a chance, not just to hand over cash for what I hope is a good read, it’s a chance to get inside the head of the person who created this world you’re going to be venturing into.  Granted, there aren’t that many who actually ask questions or sit awhile and chat, but those that do add a great deal to the day.  I’ve been asked about the locations in Sin.  I’ve been quizzed on the connections between the book, the Prologue and Sin’s blog, his ‘Diary of a Madman’.
Being able to talk to potential fans about such things often prompts thoughts and realisations about my writing.  It helps me see insights about the characters and myself I, perhaps, didn’t actually see beforehand.
So.  Soon, I’ll be joining local authors Lynette Creswell and A.E. Murphy (Alex) to lay ourselves open for just such in-depth chats.  Well, not just that – there’s a whole lot more too.
On Saturday, 15th March, from 10am to 3pm, we’ll be holding an Author Day.
So what differentiates an Author Day from a simple book signing?  Well, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to purchase our books, but we’ll also be there to talk about writing.
None of us are saying we’re experts – far from it.  In fact, if we did, I’d hope you’d turn and walk away!  No.  What we are is experienced.  For aspiring writers and the like, we would like to take the time to share what we’ve learned.  If you’re wishing you could write that book, let us help with prompts and tips.  If you’ve written a book and want to publish, we’ll give advice on ways to self-publish and recommendations on queries and synopses.
We’ll also have with us handouts with copies of successful query letters and other information.  Added to this there’ll be sample chapters from our books as tasters and even as examples of writing methods.
And, all this advice will be completely free.  Each of the three of us had to start somewhere.  Each of us is still learning, too.  We genuinely do know what it’s like to feel afloat in a sea of possibilities.  If we can throw you a rope and help guide you to shore, it will be our pleasure.
Of course, you will be able, if you so choose, to buy our books.  Lynette and I have our books in both paperback and ebook, and Alex’s wonderful series is available in ebook form.
Buying a book, however, is not a prerequisite to asking for our help.  If you simply want to chat, be our guest.

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Just Keep Swimming…

So much to do and so little time.
I admit, I’ve been a little (a lot) lax in my postings of late.  Sin has been too.  I’m trying to dedicate some time to writing so blog posts get left behind in the wake, bobbing about on the surface of my musings without being able to put their feet down and gain purchase.
There’s a number of things I want to blog about.  A fab meal I had at the Spice Hut in Cleethorpes.  My trip to Disneyland Paris last week (great trip apart from a few incidents with the coach).  Watching the excellent Captain Phillips.  More!
But, I’m not getting round to it.  I need a PA or something, it seems.  Or a clone.  Maybe I should talk to the producers of Orphan Black (worthy of a blog post in itself – brilliant show) to see if they have a spare.
Anywho.  I haven’t forgotten you.  I’m just trying, and I mean trying, to write.  I’m working on the sequel to Sin, but he’s gone and gotten himself arrested.  I wasn’t expecting that, so I’m a bit stumped as to what’s going to happen next.  I’ve got Puddlebrain, my children’s book.  I know exactly what’s going to happen (a first for me, I think), but I have to get to finishing it.  Perhaps it’s because I know it needs a good edit.  I used a few too many ‘big’ words for the age range, for a start.  But I’ll get there.  Puddlebrain is the story I began whilst writing Sin.  I’d written about 40,000 words and forgotten about them.  I do like what I’ve written, I just need to refine it.
Then there’s my current story, ‘Home’.  With inspiration coming from the same place as The Lake and Summer Loving, it’s sort of tied me up.  I’m revisiting an alternative version of my youth, and it won’t be pretty.  I expected this to be a short story of, perhaps, a couple of thousand words.  I’m at 3,000 already and still scope for more.
Excerpt from ‘Home’
The trip to school seemed to take all day.  I could imagine getting there just in time to turn around and go back home.  Unfortunately, the minutes were just taking their time, spacing out the seconds in between like a trail of sweets, with me as Hansel following politely and hungrily along.  I arrived at the school gates with just enough time to spare for my friends to semi-playfully make fun of my fainting episode.  I took the brunt of the jibes and jokes with a facade of smiles.  I’d do the same if I were them.  Cracking jokes, poking ribs.  It was part of being at school.
Of course, when I saw the blood dripping off my desk in English later that morning, not quite coagulating but thick enough to look like crimson snot dangling off the edge of the desk lid, the teasing ceased.  I didn’t scream.  I didn’t faint.  I simply stopped.  My feet no longer worked.  My eyes no longer blinked.  I suppose my lungs alternatively inflated and deflated and my heart continued to pump, though maybe a little faster, but I couldn’t tell.  I couldn’t hear the teacher or the pupils talking to me nor could I feel them pulling at me to make me move.
My world had disappeared and all I could see was the blood.
Then, I think, I did faint.
At least it would give my friends something more to take the Mickey out of me for.
So.  I’ll be back.  How many of you just said that in an Arnie-style voice?  I know I did when I wrote it.
Bear with me.  Hopefully it’ll be worth the wait.  Just keep swimming, as the epic Dory would say, and I will too.
UPDATE:  Home, a ‘short story’ was finished a couple of days ago, to the tune of a smidgen over 9,500 words.  I quite like it.  You’ll, hopefully, see it in Darker Places…
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Win With Sin…

Wow! I’m delighted to have just passed 16000 Twitter followers! I feel a giveaway coming on!
The question: Name Sin’s sister.
If you haven’t read Sin, there’s info on my website, in interviews and she has her own story (the last one) in Dark Places.  And she’s the ‘opposite’ to Sin.
The prize? A compendium of ebooks, including Sin, Dark Places, Zits’n’Bits and Rudolph Saves Christmas.
Closing date end of August!
Either post your answer to my Facebook page or tweet me @singularityspnt with the hashtag #WinWithSin
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Sing a Song of Singapore…

Sin here.  I do enjoy taking control of young (yeah right) Mr. Allan’s blog to carry out these interviews!  Today, I’m visited by someone who has travelled a looong way to the asylum – Singapore based Giok Ping Ang.


What’s your name?

Giok Ping Ang


Where are you from?

The small red dot on the world atlas known as Singapore where five million people share 250 square miles of land. We’re busy ants dashing and rushing on a heated pan trying to look for that scrap of sugar or bread accidentally scattered by the big Man. 


It sounds a bit cramped.  A bit like the Recreation Room when the Coronation Street Omnibus is on.  Do you like living there?  If not, where would your favourite place to live be?  Is yes, where would you least like to live?

Not really as it is 33 degree Celsius everyday with 65% humidity – climate of a slow cooked stew.


It used to be New Zealand until I found out sheep fart a lot, not surprising with the amount of roughage in their gut.


Now, I just want to be in a temperate place with fewer people than Singapore and fewer sheep than New Zealand.


A place with some decent museums and concert halls, some rivers and mountains and parks would be perfect, and of course, a place where food is abundant.


I bet there’s a few ‘dumplings’ in that there stew, too.  I didn’t know sheep farted that much.  I think I would have thought that of cows.  Go figure.  As you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?

Yes, it is my day, midday, night and midnight job.


Ah, midnight.  A wonderful time – when Death uses the Null to collect the souls of those he’s missed during the day.  Tell me about your latest project.

It is a psychological thriller short stories collection.


Cool.  I like the sound of that.  How do you feel about bacon?  A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods.  OK, I admit that person was myself…

It tastes good with anything, and would probably turn the most repulsive food palatable. I am trying to think of a repulsive food but am having a tough time. As you know, Chinese eat anything that moves and does not move. We eat things that are deemed dangerous by others.


My mother was from China and went through famine and second world war. To her, any food and every food was precious.


So, yes, if you are brought up to eat anything under the sun, you’ll find bacon heavenly.


I’ve never actually called bacon ‘My Precious’, but I’m now imagining myself in a Gollum style pose doing exactly that…  What is your favourite film?

This is really tough for I love so many, from Blade Runner to Sense and Sensibility, and everything in between, from Dawn of the Dead to The Sound Of Music. Well, you can pretty much get the picture here. I do however have a preference for dramas. I cry watching Joy Luck Club for the hundredth time, but I will watch The Exorcist again for the hundredth time as well if it is playing tonight


Is it playing tonight?


Well, there’s some in here who think they’re possessed, if that counts?  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?

I have honestly never wanted to do anything remotely as tiresome as writing. But I have not been told of the excitement that comes along with it either. So, I have discovered something too exciting to pass up and completely lost myself in it.


It’s a great feeling, isn’t it, when the words run away and you’re breathless trying to keep up?  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?

They dribble out of my nose really badly. I see potential for every situation. I seem to be in a permanent trance of visualization of ideas and scenes. It can be disturbing. It wakes me up sometimes. It is more like I have to hide from my muse. It chases me.


I should introduce you to Mucous Mickey.  He has plenty of tissue for your dribbles.  If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?

That I am flying over different places, different people all the time. Seeing the world from high up. I live in the clouds.

And when I am on ground, my roommate would most naturally be Van Gogh, who would be trying earnestly to show me the benefits of cutting off one’s ear. But all I would care about would be to ask him for another sunflowers’ masterpiece, dedicated to none other than me, his interesting Asian roommate. We would be having long conversations about painting and why people do not appreciate good art, and why it is so hard for people to understand us.


Now that particular delusion is a new one.  A flying fan of Van Gogh.  Connors would have a field day!  What genre(s) do you write?

My first published book entitled ”10276 in Two Months” is a Cyber Romance that has more than a twist in it. Future genres would be Thrillers (tend to be of the mental sort that turns stomachs), and I’d love to try Noir. I am going to follow my muse to wherever it takes me. I do not want to be constrained by a boundary.


That’s the best way.  When Shaun writes, it’s whatever is in his head at the time.  That’s not always me!  What genres(s) do you read?

I love the element of magic realism in Gabriel Garcia Marques’ “One Hundred Years Of Solitude”, Japanese author such as Murakami, books with unusual styles or structure such as “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga. French author Marguerite Duras’ delicate prose. There is no fixed genre. I’ll read it as long as the book has a gripping story and not too thick. I’m a slow reader and tend to chew on the words. I am on a perpetual look-out for thin books that pack a lot of punches.


I find myself suddenly educated.  I must look into these, though the asylum library is sparse – as in non-existent


Bacon – just cooked or crispy?

Haha, food question again. I love it. I would love it if there’s a bacon chewing gum!! Bacon bits in a drink, Bacon jelly, Bacon shortcake, Bacon dumplings! No, I don’t care if it is cooked just right or crispy unless I’m going on an expedition where I will surely lose my direction in the middle of no-where. I would then prefer it crispy for I could hear the sounds as I crunch away and feel less alone.


Bacon chewing gum!  A definite gap in the market!  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out?  Do you have an escape plan?

Fly away of course. I don’t need a plan, I am on the ceiling, above everyone’s eye level. No one knows that I could just easily think of bacon and drool on them. I rise above them, their panic and worldly worries written all over their faces. I do not have fears nor worries at this very moment. All I want to do is continue flying.


No I don’t need a plan to escape. Why would I need one when I am home?


Well, if you’re home, I’d ask you to pull up a chair and chill with me.  Unfortunately they’re bolted down, so I can’t.



Giok Ping Ang was born in Singapore. She graduated from the University of Oregon in Science and later obtained a diploma in Accounting from UCLA. In 2012, her poem “An Invitation” received an honourable mention in the Writer’s Digest 7th annual poetry competition, and was published in the WD competition compilation. She enjoys painting and photography. 10276 in Two Months is her first novel.

10276 in Two Months:


They are hundred thousand miles apart, and could not love in flesh, not in part, so they love with their hearts. Every day they chat on Facebook, and every day they live, love and die a little. 10276 is the number of love messages they chatted in two months. Mark Fallen is a screenwriter from England, and Lim Shi Yi is a poet and novelist from Singapore who is married with two daughters.


It seems a perfect love made in heaven as they both share the same interests in calligraphy, music, painting, cooking and above all, poetry. She decides to write a script to document their love entitling The Secret Love Of Two Poets and he becomes her script mentor as they spiral deeper into a painful love affair.


Two parallel love stories, both virtual, both intense and life altering yet contrasting in development. She is to find out that it is much easier conjuring physical contacts and rendezvous for her characters in her script than it is for her own love and in the end has to choose between family and success or true love.


Lim Shi Yi:

Why did you pursue me? Knowing I am married and we are continents apart.

Mark Fallen:

I don’t know. Maybe I want to die.


An Excerpt:


I told him I wrote a eulogy for my dear friend and I would like him to read it. So I posted a piece of my love on the message. It was not love for him but I hoped it would help him understand how a woman felt in situations as such.




I met her in an art class when I was painting a lotus and she was painting nudes. I was forty and she sixty-five. She had no breasts so she painted a lot of them, nudes of damsels of all races with creamy succulent breasts. “I have none, and I have to make up for my loss.” She said. Her eyes were teary and her hand moved like flowing water, fluid and soft on the canvas.


They cut her breasts off as they were diseased and removed the well where she fed her hungry babies. They removed her pride and identity. She was given six months but she lasted twenty years. “They couldn’t put out the fire in me,” she said. I admired her, respected her and loved her. Her name was June.


We sauntered from galleries to galleries holding hands in search for perfect breasts on the walls. We sat on different floors of fancy bookstores flipping through and pouring our love on the beautiful pages till they chased us out the door.


We continued painting, she the nudes and I the lotus and sunflowers. Her skeletal arm transferred her pain onto the canvas, the faces became sad and the flesh sallow. We forgot the time and forgot to eat. She was getting weak and her wasted body gave up in the face of her passion and will. One morning, she could no longer hold the brush and although she mixed the ochres and the whites and the blues and the reds, the brush stayed dipped in the palette.


Her legs gave way so I brought the galleries to her. We lay in bed and read an art book I bought and gurgled like two little girls gazing at a jar of sweets, pretending nothing had changed. We wanted a last ride before they called her name. That morning in bed, her eyes twinkled with fire, her last flame burned long and bright, her heart beat with passion and filled with beauty as a young heart might.


The next day I was on the beach, squatting and picking corals with my girls. The ocean breeze ruffled my peace. “Shi Yi, don’t be sad.” She whispered in my ears. I knew she was gone, but I knew somewhere in space she was watching over me.


Somewhere, in a different world she was whole and complete.


Take away my pain.


I shall die. Only a little.


A consciousness is there.


To smell the flower.




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