A new week, a new beginning…

One month to the day after the publication of A House Divided I am coming to a (temporary) end of promotional activities and beginning to look forward to Book No 3. Which means I can happily begin to immerse myself once again in the closing years of the 16th century, though I just might stray into the 17th…

Either way I am starting my research – first to find appropriate key events to form the backdrop for the new story and then to start fleshing out my characters’ likely reactions to them.

Will there be new characters? – Who will take centre stage? What will be the time frame? Will it be set in a single or in multiple locations? I have no idea of the answers to all these and many other questions, so there are exciting times ahead…

Screenshot 2015-11-15 19.53.42

(And a deadline to find some answers – I want to have lots of ideas / plot points to work on when I go to Hawthornden Castle – probably half-way through February.)

That was a week, that was.

I know – slight mis-quote, but you get the message.

Having spent half of the week wrestling with an Amazon glitch, I am pleased to announce that anyone buying Turn of the Tide for the first time can now be confident they will receive the correct file. Whoo hoo!

For those who downloaded Turn of the Tide last weekend and may have got the text of a House Divided you will all have been offerred an updated file – take it just in case – that way you too will be sure of the correct file.

For the 5 people who returned the book earlier this week I haven’t yet received a definitive answer to the question of how you can get the Amazon computer to send you an updated file, without the hassle of re-purchasing. – But if you do re-purchase you will (so I’ve been told) get the same file as before and should then be able to ask for an update. A roundabout route I know – sorry!

Hopefully this won’t ever happen again…

On the plus side this week I’ve done an interview for the Ayrshire Post which will appear before my trip to Ayr Writers Club at the end of the month – all I need now is a decent photograph to email them.

And completely off-topic, I’ve just been to Lyme Regis and walked out to the end of the Cobb. Hard to believe that as a convinced Jane Austen fan I’ve never done that before. The wind was quite strong, but the tide was quite far out so no waves crashing over the Cobb – pity – that would have been quite exciting.

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Amazon Glitch Update.

Ridiculous as it seems the only way that the small number of people who were sent the wrong file when they tried to buy Turn of the Tide can ever get the right one is to re-puchase the book, which because the system remembers them will mean that they are sent the wrong file for the second time. They will then be able to contact Amazon via


explaining they have the wrong book and ask for an updated file. Which apparently should be forthcoming.

I have repeatedly contacted Amazon over the last several days. if this isn’t resolved soon I’ll need to go right to the top. Anyone know who is Amazon’s CEO?

Amazon glitch – Writers and readers beware!

Readers and writers beware – there are some features of Amazon’s ebook system that could give you a major headache if something goes wrong.

This week I had a problem with the ebook file of Turn of the Tide. Bizarrely (I’m not sure how) some folk downloading it around last weekend got the cover, description and title heading of Turn of the Tide, but the text of A House Divided. One reader commented online that they were reading TotT and enjoying it, but the reasons they mentioned made me realise that it couldn’t be TotT they were reading.
Fortunately as it happens otherwise I wouldn’t have known there was a glitch.

Just so you know – Turn of the Tide has an historical note at the start referring to Mary Queen of Scots’ abdication in favour of her infant son James. If your version doesn’t have this historical note it isn’t the right file.

But don’t rush straight out to return it and buy the newly sorted file.

This is what happened when the reader who had alerted me to the problem tried to do exactly that. They returned the book, I contacted Amazon and was told that the problem had been sorted. That same reader then re-bought it and received the same (wrong) file for the second time.

I contacted Amazon again and below is their response. – There is a logic to it, but it makes solving a problem like this tricky.

Hello Margaret,

This is Anna from Kindle Direct Publishing.

I understand that your customer returned the book and now purchased it again. Please note that at this time, customers who bought your Kindle book aren’t able to download updates automatically. This also means that our system remembers what version a customer originally bought and when trying to buy it again delivers the same version. At the moment this is a current limitation of our system and our technical team is working on improving this process.

Since your customer already bought your book, there is one option for her to receive the updated copy in case if the updated copy has not pushed to her already. Please let her know that she can contact Kindle Department via this form and they are able to push the newest content to her Kindle Library:


I am sorry for the inconvenience this issue has caused!

She’s sorry? I am too!!!

Now here’s the thing. This will hopefully solve the problem for the reader who alerted me to the issue (I’m waiting to get a linkedIn message to set my mind at rest on that score) but via KDP reports I know there are 5 other people who have returned the book in the last couple of days, presumably because they also realised it was the wrong file.

I have no idea who they are – if you are one of them the above advice from Amazon should make it possible for you to receive the right file too.

I certainly hope so!

In the meantime I’m writing back to Amazon to ask if they could contact those who returned the wrong file and explain to them how they too can get the right one.

This publishing business defintiely isn’t a piece of cake…

Oops! (And apologies.)

Anyone following this blog will probably remember me mentioning my first ‘return’ of Turn of the Tide and my wondering what in the title page could possibly have turned someone off.

All has been revealed. It appears that (and I don’t quite know how) at some point in the last 2 weeks the text file for Turn of the Tide was replaced by the text file for A House Divided. Net result – anyone attempting to download Turn of the Tide in the period between 26th October and yesterday (10th November) may have been sent the wrong file. I say may because I checked with someone who downloaded it on the 30th October and their’s was ok, but someone downloading last weekend got the wrong one.

And my first ever return? Probably (hopefully) someone who immediately picked up on the error.

So huge apologies to anyone who was expecting to read Turn of the Tide and got A House Divided instead. I hope you will all realise and return the ebook file.
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And to the 6 people who have already done so – the problem has now been solved, and you are safe to re-order. This time it should be right.

A very frustrating problem to have arisen – especially as I don’t know how many folk have been affected, in fact the problem was only discovereed because one reader kindly sent me a message on LinkedIn to alert me.

It looks like November may also be a roller-coaster month!

Positives: In the last week I have had the feature in the Southern Reporter (local newspaper), a review in the Scottish Herald (national newspaper) and have just been interviewed for a feature in the Ayrshire Post. Brechin Library Reading Group have begun reading A House Divided (as part of a Reading Agency ‘Home Grown Talent’ initiative) and I will be making a visit next Monday evening to a local Book Group, who are also currently reading A House Divided. I’m really looking forward to their feedback and discussion.
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Negatives: The biggest one is, of course the problem with the ebook file – and I do hope not too many folk have been affected (not often an author hopes that there haven’t been many sales). But running a close second was the discovery that there was a mistake in the bookshop discount set for the paperbacks of both books on the distributor’s system, resulting in a net profit to me for any sale of the princely sum of 10p per book. Not the best hourly rate for the effort involved!

Happily that has now also been rectified and the book is set to a normal shop discount, but yet again I found myself hoping that sales over the past 2 1/2 weeks have been slow.

But now I’m looking ahead to Book Week Scotland when I have several speaking engagements and hoping, now that these teething problems are sorted that sales will start to increase… and especially that folk haven’t been put off by the glitches.

Still, winter is coming and the long dark evenings – perfect for curling up by the fire with a book…

Roller-coaster month…

October was interesting, exciting, nerve-wracking, scary, in almost equal measures, but ultimately very encouraging.

Perhaps the most interesting – daily (well, ok, hourly for the first few days – I’ve calmed down now) watching the totals of sales

Screenshot 2015-11-03 15.10.23 and pages read of both books on Amazon,

Screenshot 2015-10-28 23.37.45 and armed with a currency converter working out the royalties. I’m not planning a holiday in the Bahamas yet, but I am pleased so far – no days with nothing happening – definitely beats the last few quiet months as a mainstream published author. It’s hard to describe how excited I was the first day I topped 1000 pages read (sad, I know) and I’d love to have a breakdown of that – was it 3 people each reading a whole book or 33 people reading a little each?

Then there was the day I had 1 page read – yes you have read that right – 1 page. Now, assuming Amazon doesn’t count the cover that means only the Title page – what could have turned someone off there I wonder? And turned off I assume they were because that co-incided with the day I got my first return…

Also exciting was watching the rankings change

Screenshot 2014-11-07 14.36.53– the high point when Turn of the Tide was sitting at #4 in British / Irish Historical right next to Bernard Cornwell. – Sadly I didn’t think to get a screen shot of that, but I did remember later when it was at #6 – just underneath Cornwell. Nice picture to have.Screenshot 2015-10-03 08.26.00

Definitely into the ‘exciting’ category – Two separate bookshop launches of my new novel – thank you Blackwells in Edinburgh and Mainstreet Trading in St Boswells – both lovely bookshops. Favourite comments – from Ann Landmann – bookshop organiser in Edinburgh – ‘See you next year!’ (That’s a bit optimistic actually – I’m planning on spring 2017 for Munro 3) and from John Wood – chair of the St Boswells event – ‘You can bag a couple of Munros without leaving your armchair.’ (For those who mightn’t know a ‘Munro’also refers to any mountain in Scotland over 3,000 feet and climbing them is called ‘Munro-bagging’.)

John Wood giving his introduction.
Reading an extract.
Book signing.

Also exciting – my first real royalty statement from the distributors – I discounted the several (pre-launch) statements with 0.00 in every column!

The printing of the physical copies of the books went right down to the wire – that was nerve-wracking in the extreme – a huge thank you to the printers, Anthony Rowe of Chippenham, both for the fabulous job and for pushing me up the queue a little to make sure I had them in time. I won’t say how many panicky emails I sent them in the last few weeks.

And scary? I’ve just had a photograher from the local paper around to take pictures for a feature they will be running later this week on me and my journey as a writer. Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate getting my photo taken – hopefully it won’t look too bad. But a big thank you to the Johnson newspaper Group for suggesting an interview. Hopefully I was reasonably coherent – it’s quite hard to do a telephone interview. Slightly apprehensive as to how it will all come out, but pleased that they were interested.

And who knows maybe some folk will be inspired to pop along to one of the local bookshops – Mainstreet Trading in St Boswells and Grieves in Berwick-upon-Tweed – to buy a copy of my book(s) – ideal Christmas presents…

And didn’t the designer www.hayesdesign.co.uk make a fabulous job of the covers?

Turn of the Tide / A House Divided
Turn of the Tide cover Layout 1