Post Publication and 2020

Happy New Year to all my loyal readers.

Well, loyal may be pushing it a bit. The word implies that you may have purchased and devoured ALL my books and as I’ve only written one so far, that would be difficult.

So, to rephrase, may I wish a Happy New Year to anybody reading this, whether or not you have read A Very Important Teapot. If you haven’t, I hope you do. If you’ve found this website, there must be  at least a smidgen of interest in me or the book, so please, invest a tenner in Teapot and cheer yourself up as we enter what could be a, shall we say, challenging year in a national and global sense.

Apparently it’s 2020. I find that hard to believe. It seems only yesterday we were just recovering from the knowledge that the millennium bug had not caused all the planes to fall out of the sky.  Maybe the doom mongers now are as inaccurate as they were then. We shall see.   

From a personal perspective, a few days in, I’m very disappointed that 2020 has not thusfar given me perfect vision. I shall just have to carry on wearing specs. Shame.

So, looking back, October 18th brought the publication of A Very Important Teapot. Absolutely astounding at my advanced age, so huge thanks to Katie Isbester and Claret Press for having the faith in me and it to go ahead. It has as yet made neither of us rich but, realistically at least, early sales have been pretty encouraging and I’m especially grateful to all my friends, in the UK and worldwide, who, almost  without exception, have dipped their hand in their pocket to buy a copy. Even those who have no reason to suppose that I can actually write.

Again, if you haven’t bought it, you can of course obtain a copy via the services of Mr Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Very-Important-Teapot-Sheppard-Steve/dp/1910461407

or via ANY bookshop (even those who haven’t placed it on their shelves (and yes, Waterstones, I mean you) or I am always happy to send out a signed copy, whether or not you know me. Contact me here via this website or on 07919 344336 if you’d like me to. There is a school of thought that suggests that my signature constitutes graffiti and will reduce the book’s value but you may be willing to take a chance on that.

If you’ve read it already and enjoyed it (and I fully appreciate it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea – see what I did there?), then please can I ask you to take the trouble to leave a review (or just a rating) on Amazon or Goodreads. Unknown debutant authors without the marketing budget of a Big 5 publisher behind them find it virtually impossible to find a wider readership without reviews so I would be eternally grateful for any written feedback (and that includes critical feedback, genuinely – without it, I will struggle to improve).

So that was then and what now? you probably aren’t asking.

Well, as I scribble these random thoughtlets down, I am currently 72,000 words into Dawson & Lucy – The Sequel. Not just Dawson and Lucy, one or two other players from Teapot strut their stuff too along with a host of new people, good and bad. Anyway, the plot is pretty much finalised which, for me, is quite a biggy. Those who know me and have been bored by me on the subject, will know that I am not an intricate plotter. Not only did I not know where Teapot would end up when I started it, I rarely began a chapter with a clear idea of how it would look once finished and in what direction it would have taken the story. The ultimate pantser, that’s me. It’s fun writing like that, for me at any rate, but it does mean that once I’m well into the tale, as in Book 2 now, I have to take a huge breath and a bigger step back to make sure it actually makes sense. At this moment in time, the sequel does not (quite) but it will do (he says confidently).

Anyway, you’ll notice that I have not yet given the second book a title. This is for the very good reason that it doesn’t have one yet. Well, that’s not quite accurate. I have a page of titles written down but none that have yet jumped off the page. I (modestly) think that I set the titular bar quite high with A Very Important Teapot and I’m reluctant to lower it. Any ideas will be gratefully considered. The only plot spoiler I’m prepared to give at the moment is that the country of Estonia plays quite a big part.

So, I hope to have finished the first draft of the book within the next few weeks, so that’s a tight deadline, 72,000 words so far or not. It would be nice to see it published this year but that’s quite a big if. IF it’s good enough, IF Claret like it enough to give me another go and, if they don’t, IF I decide to publish it myself. I certainly don’t feel much inclined to run the gamut of agents’ rejections again as I did in 2018 (and if you’re an agent who is reading this, I mean you, but even so, a quick, exploratory email wouldn’t go amiss).

If you have not already done so, and are struggling to wait patiently for Book 2, then this website contains a number of my short stories, varying in length and quality but nearly all aiming to be funny. One of them is Geronimo, which came 2nd out of 582 entries in the 2019 To Hull and Back humorous story competition. There is an anthology of the top 20 or so stories from To Hull available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hull-Back-Short-Story-Anthology/dp/1695078179. I am adding to these stories on an irregular basis although most of my energy now is being devoted to finishing Book 2.

Looking further ahead, I will have a stand at an Oxford Indie Book Fair on Saturday 4 April to coincide with the Literary Festival in the city. And at 6.30 on Friday 24 July I shall be speaking at Carterton Library about all things Teapotty and Sequelly. Hope to see as many people as possible at either of those events.

May 2020 bring us all hope, peace and laughter.

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