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Latest Praise

Here is a link to the LiveJournal blog of a review for The Norwood Author.

http://community.livejournal.com/221b_bakerst/530074.html

The review gets a little lost in places but I get a resounding thumbs-up !

Thanks very much.

The National Television Awards

I don't think I'm the only one to have been disappointed by the UK National Television Awards last night. There was not a single nod for the BBC's Sherlock. In the programme category it lost out to Waterloo Road and BC lost out to David Jason in the actor category.

Both awards left me speechless. However, as I've never watched Waterloo Road (and don't intend to) I cannot really comment on how it compares to Sherlock. As for David Jason - well. He may have attained National Treasure status but he's not exactly lacking in awards and has won at the NTAs many times in the past (some seven including this year if Wikipedia can be believed). His performance as Jack Frost may be good but it simply was not a patch on BC as Sherlock Holmes. I cannot help but feel that he got the award in part because people felt he should and not because of his acting.

I daresay there will be DJ fans who disagree but sorry that's my opinion.

Image Licencing

I feel compelled to have a small rant and I hope you will forgive me. I have just had an exchange of emails with a certain popular newspaper. This exchange (which was perfectly civil I hasten to add) concerned my desire to licence a photograph for use in my next book.

The outrageous cost of image licencing is something I have encountered before where many bodies charge three figure sums for a picture that only covers half a page. The bizarre thing is that pricing is partly driven by the percentage of space the image takes on the page rather than the size of the image itself. This means that a full page picture in a book whose pages are close to A5 would cost more than a half page picture in a book whose pages are close to A4 (even though the size of the image would be the same).

I was quoted £200 to have my chosen picture occupy a full page. The place where I get confused is that I am sure that photographs only enjoy copyright of 50 years from the time they are taken. The picture in question was taken in 1907 so this has definitely expired. Why therefore can I not just scan and use it?

Are there any copyright experts out there that can answer that one?

A silly conspiracy

One of the Doylean conspiracies that refuses to go away is that concerning the authorship of The Hound of the Baskervilles. This, as many people know, started out as a joint project between Conan Doyle and Daily Express journalist Bertram Fletcher Robinson.

Some people continue to put about the idea that the book was mostly written by Robinson and that Conan Doyle took the credit. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that Conan Doyle brought about Robinson's early death to prevent the truth from coming out.

Now many books have gone out of their way to destroy this theory. My forthcoming book will also attempt to hammer the odd extra nail into this particular theory's coffin.


Arthur Conan Doyle (back row, centre) - Bertram Fletcher Robinson (seated, middle). This picture was taken on the steam ship Briton en route between South Africa and Britain 1900.

Work halted

Regrettably, thanks to a couple of days of absurd workload levels, I have not been able to progress with the book. This enforced writing inactivity really drives me up the wall. As long as I can put down a minimum of 100 words a day I'm happy. At the moment I'm not happy.

Partial Victory

Although some details remain to be decided upon, my understanding is that the efforts of myself and others have saved some of the arts in the Croydon Borough. Although the axe is to fall quite heavily in a number of areas it looks like we may have saved (to some degree) the local studies & archives section of the library.

How this will work remains to be seen.

Cover has been completed

Sorry to be a tease folks but I just thought I'd let you know that I received the cover design for my latest book today. I am very pleased with it indeed but regretably I cannot share it yet.

You can tell it's January

We have entered firmly into the slow period for book sales and this is reflected in my sales as much as anyone else's. My last three books were all released in the first quarter of the year which was probably a mistake. My latest book will hopefully be released towards the end of this year (finger crossed).

I look forward to seeing whether that assists its sales or not.

Amazon.com book links

For my North American readers here is a link to my books on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Alistair-Duncan/e/B0036Q0N5M/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

The cover makes it real

I have high hopes that I'll be shown the first draft of my latest book's cover in the next couple of weeks or so. I've generally had a hand in the design. With my second book I commissioned the main cover illustration and gave a description of what I was seeking. It was the same with the third book.

With my latest work I went to the trouble of putting together something approaching a formal specification. So even though I know what I asked for I am still excited to see how my vision is interpreted.

Latest eBay curiosity

I've been on eBay again (I'm bad for this) and this is the latest Sherlockian(ish) item to amuse me. I assure you I haven't bid on it.

Perhaps he should be called Toby.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Robert-Harrop-BLOODHOUND-Sherlock-Holmes-CC116-/150543988574?pt=UK_Collectables_Ornaments_RL&hash=item230d1ef75e

A level of understanding

The more I write about Arthur Conan Doyle the more I understand his frustration with Sherlock Holmes. To Conan Doyle, Holmes became the name that brought him wealth but also stood between him and his personal goals as a writer.

In the years that have elapsed since then the public fascination has not changed and this is reflected in my own books where the ones concerning Sherlock Holmes outsell those concerning Conan Doyle.

I am not entirely innocent in this direction either. I have read precious little of Conan Doyle's work outside of Holmes. I have read his autobiography, some of A Duet, and one or two of his Round the Fire Stories but that's it.

I don't generally make resolutions but this year I intend to make a concerted effort to read more of Conan Doyle's non-Holmes output. I think it is the best way open to me to honour this great writer.

Audience spike

The past 24 hours have shown a radical surge in readers of this blog. I cannot help but wonder what I wrote that got you all so interested.

A non-Sherlockian moment

I have been informed today that plans are afoot to close Britain's Forensic Science Service. This would mean that all future forensic work would have to be farmed out to the private sector.

The following petition needs 100,000 people to sign up in order for it to be noticed.


www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savethefss/0/27

History Resource in danger

According to my information, today is the day that Croydon Council decide whether or not the Local Studies Archives (amongst other things) will be mothballed to save money.

It was this facility that enabled me to write large sections of my book The Norwood Author and it is sad that other people's attempts to research into this part of Conan Doyle's life will be hampered.

For more details see this link on the Croydon Guardian website:

http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/savecroydonheritage/8670763.Historians__horror_at_proposals_to_close_our_library/

Amusing item on eBay

I came across this rather amusing little item on eBay. It's certainly not the weirdest idea ever but I wonder how practical it would be to use.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Sherlock-Holmes-Pen-Tom-Richmond-NEW-/150542362013?pt=UK_Home_Garden_PensPencils_WritingEquipment_SM&hash=item230d06259d

Cover Story

Initial conversations are taking place regarding the design of the cover of my next book. The title is all but decided but will not be revealed for the time being just in case it does get changed.

I have made my contribution and am now waiting for the designer's interpretation of my ideas. It's always an interesting time.

The fight goes on

We may be in a New Year but we are still fighting old battles. Please remember the fight to save Undershaw and let the Undershaw Preservation Trust know of any way you can help. Simple words of support are equally welcome.

http://www.saveundershaw.com/

Word count update

Okay folks. Make that 380 word.

A.

On the road again

I have managed to knock out another 250 words today. That's not bad given that I've done nothing over the festive period. I find writing a bit like exercising - after a period of inactivity start small and work up.

A.

Happy New Year

Normal service resumes from tomorrow. I hope you all had a good holiday.