THE 'HOOK' AND THE AUTHOR
Why did I begin writing the story of "The Rosario"? Simply because of two doors.
I have always been fascinated by what appears to be a pair of 16th-century wooden doors, which I'd seen hanging in an old Devon property. Both doors had six relief panels, not depicting the plain English carved "Linen Fold" design, but one originating from Flanders - a more detailed and stylised pattern.
It's not commonly known that Flanders (present day north-east France, Belgium and Holland) in the 16th-century was governed by the Spanish. It is quite possible these door panels were carved in Flanders and 'exported' to Spain by Spanish merchants. Being of the finest quality, they would have been chosen as suitable carved panels for the doors of an admiral's cabin belonging to the Spanish navy.
In 1588, the ill-fated Spanish Armada set sail from Portugal heading for the English Channel, trying to reach Calais in France. There, it had planned to meet up with a large army to overthrow the English protestants, using invasion barges, carrying troops and equipment.
One of the largest Spanish naos or galleons of the Armada, was badly damaged and crippled in two collisions, causing the Armada's leader to leave the stricken ship to drift. That ship was the Nuestra Senora del Rosario - similar to the Spanish nao or galleon below.
The Rosario was 'relieved' of its considerable wealth (and other objects in "The Rosario") by the famous English sailor, Sir Francis Drake, who ensured that he kept the majority of the 'spoils', but left enough for his queen - Elizabeth I.
In 1588 the Rosario was moved by the English navy into Torquay harbour in Devon, then towed up the river Dart, pass the mediaeval Dartmouth castle and St.Petrox church. It was finally anchored at a quayside belonging to a long-gone Tudor manor house.
On that site, and not far from this rolling Devon countryside, is the imposing house of the famous crime writer, Agatha Christie.
I trained as an architect in Yorkshire, a northern county of England and practiced there at conventional draughting offices until 1982.
I moved to Oxford, obtaining a position at a fantastic architect's practice called D'Arcy Race. In the early 80s, I believe that practice was the only architect's office in the world that didn't possess one drawing board -- all their architectural drawings were 'drawn' using CAD - Computer Aided Design.
I had six extremely fascinating and intellectually stimulating years there, with visitors from all over the world wanting to see how the office existed without drawing boards, pencils and pens.
Next, I was offered a part-time position at D'Arcy Race after the practice was absorbed into a large firm of architects in London. During the days of the week that were spare, I set up my new artist's business.
After leaving my part-time position in London in 1989, I began painting professionally in acrylics in a studio near Oxford. Over the next years, I painted work covering every subject under the sun; many of my paintings found their way to other countries, such as the US, Finland and Japan - see my site www.sissonsfineart.co.uk.
Richard Branson and Nigel Mansell, the 1992 Formula 1 champion, have paintings by me, as do companies, such as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train company and Volvo cars in Sweden.
In 2006 I was itching to get back into design work, but this time Industrial or product design.
In Southampton, as a 'slightly mature' student, I obtained a degree with honours in product design. Very soon after that event, my principal tutor aked me if I would like to become a lecturer in product design.
Even though I was surprised to be asked to change 'course' so suddenly after getting my degree, I accepted the part-time appointment and had five wonderful years teaching students in Southampton.
Due to university changes, and commuting from Oxford, I left my part-time position and continued design work from an office I designed and built in my garden - see the picture below and my Linkedin Post on this subject.
I now help my son, Robin, with his industrial design work, since he obtained a degree in the subject at Bristol.
Several years ago, it was suggested by someone that it would be too difficult to write a novel - and this was the challenge that has got me to this point!
After trying - extremely hard! - to find an agent and publisher, I decided to head down the self-publishing route.
After completing an enormous amount of due diligence to find a trustworthy self-publishing company, I plumped for one that was recommended to me - LULU in America - which is based in Indiana.
Oh, my word, what a journey it was to get self-published! Remember, if I'd found a publisher, they would have taken all the risk for me - organising editing, the production of the eBook, paperbacks and hardbacks, designing the covers, and the extremely important part of publicising and marketing my book. It's been hard work to get to this point, but LULU was, and still is fantastic helping me all the way. I have to say, considering what was included in my LULU package, it was incredibly good value. And, with the 'print-on-demand' service as part of the whole process, my first large order of books for publicity purposes, came within a few days - an impressive and efficient service!
Thank you all at LULU!
Now... the business part of selling my books. LULU looks after selling them off their site and other outlets, such as Amazon, etc, but having examined in detail the challenges facing me publicising and marketing "The Rosario" in the UK and in Europe, I decided I needed help!
After more due diligence I chose the dynamic Cameron Publicity and Marketing company, based in Piccadilly, London.
It is run by the wonderful Ben Cameron - a American bouncing with energy to sell my book. I will let you know how that pans out!
"The Rosario" is my first novel, however, I write extensively on Linkedin - Posts and Articles - growing my followers to 8,677, and on average having 4,000 to 5,000 views of whatever subject I am describing. I built up my following on Linkedin primarily to have an instant and relevant audience to announce the launch of "The Rosario". Before the book launch in the US, UK and Europe, I began writing posts and articles dealing with writing and self-publishing - basically to show my credentials as an author. I followed those with others, including showing and discussing the book cover before the launch date.
I also have a website exhibiting my paintings -- www.sissonsfineart.co.uk.
That's about it really!
I hope everyone enjoys "The Rosario" - as much as I did writing it! I absolute love writing, especially looking forward to beginning my follow-up novel!