Other stories, many languages: Jalada

Outside of writing, I work at a University and have a very deep and ongoing commitment to education. As part of this, I have helped to develop resources for teaching (among other things) Computer Science and programming. One of my aims has been to provide these resources to other people as frames upon which they can build materials that speak to their culture, in their language.

We recently ran a course that reached over 40,000 people, across 180 countries. But many countries in Africa were not heavily involved, because of some limitations of network access but also because of translation issues. English is not the only language of the world.

Thus, I am excited to share this link with you from Jalada, a pan-African writers’ collective. This is a short story by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, originally written in Kikuyu, and translated into many, many other languages used across Africa.

In English, the story is called “The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright.” I enjoyed both the story and how it is presented as many languages. I hope that you do, too.

Jalada’s logo, used here to share their presence.

Minor update to Five Stories

Hi everyone,

I’ve just noticed that I had published Five Stories on Amazon as “Nickolas Falkner”, rather than “Nick Falkner”. It’s minor but it makes it harder for people to find me. I’ve requested a minor change and this will propagate through.

I don’t think it should change availability but, in case it does, now you know.

In other news, now is a great time to buy “Five Stories” and get a real taste of my work before the novel launches. 🙂



Can you help? You certainly can! #curseofkerevesdere

Some of my friends have started asking how they can help with the novel and its launch. As I’m self-publishing and lurking in the indie sector, some of these questions are directed at non-traditional publishing.

But my answers apply to how you can help any author, focused on those who have eBook publishing. (Other authors, I would love additional comments if you felt like it.) Ultimately, if you want the author to keep writing, she or he has to feel that it is worthwhile to keep writing, which may or may not include making enough money. How can we keep an author writing?

  1. Buy the author’s books. That’s a fairly obvious way to show support for an author. It’s not compulsory and we all know that money is tight these days but sales translate into direct feedback to the author that the work is appealing to people.
  2. Tell other people about the book, if you like it. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. There are millions of books being published every year and finding the ones that you might want to read can be hard. Personal recommendations help a lot here.
  3. Write a review on the site you bought it from. Websites such as Amazon and iBooks have a required number of reviews before they’ll display meaningful data. Their display algorithms often favour books with higher ratings. If you think a book is good, take the time to rate it and write a short review. That will keep helping the author for some time to come.

    (As a note, please think carefully before leaving a negative review. If a work is unreadable because of editing mistakes, is blatant plagiarism, or is so bad that it gives you hives, then a negative review may be fair. If you just didn’t like it, maybe it’s just not to your taste. That may not be review-worthy. But, hey, it’s up to you.)

  4. Rate it and write a review on Goodreads (or similar). The review aggregators span all of the distributors and have a lot of influence. A good review and rating here will bring more people to the author. This transcends the more closed communities of distribution channels.
  5. Buy from the back catalogue. One of the advantages of eBooks is that back catalogue (older books) may still be available and, if you like something, you can fill up your bookshelf from work that the author previously released. Take advantage of the persistence of e-materials!
  6. Keep track of the author’s public presence. Many authors will do signings, speaking events, or have extensive on-line presences. Going to those events, participating in message boards, dropping a line that says “I liked this”: all of these are great ways to show support and to achieve your aim, which is to keep the author writing!

I’m very lucky to have had so many people show me support so far, in buying “Five Stories” and in the growing pre-orders for “Kereves Dere”. But there are many authors out there and they need to know that what they are writing is something that you want to read.

Let’s make it “Give an author some love” day!

Have fun! Launch in ten days! Woohoo-argh!



On the twelfth day of pre-launch, my true love gave to me… #curseofkerevesdere

Yesterday was a blur of production but the novel is slowly starting to appear in the various stores for pre-order. Apple’s distribution model is slightly unpredictable in terms of what is visible where during this phase. As a result, I’m not advertising the pre-order locations yet but there will be a “Kereves Dere” page for this blog that will show you where you can get it!

I’m delighted that the sample appears to finish on a cliff-hanger. Let’s hope that people can’t then resist buying the book.

I had some problems with the Sony LRF format on Smashwords but it’s a legacy format and I’ve decided to drop it, as I have no detailed debugging instructions beyond “it doesn’t convert to LRF”. Sorry, people with legacy Sony devices but it’s not too bad, you’ll still be able to get it as a PDF from Smashwords!


Oh, unlucky thirteen… #curseofkerevesdere

Somewhat despite myself, I have managed to push the book into both the iBooks and Kindle distribution channels, which should mean pre-orders available soon on both and sales, on time, for the 1st of April.

That’s all I’m saying. I don’t want to jinx it. Between having to relearn XPath commands to force the eBook to open in the right place and some ISBN shenanigans, I’m going to call today an acceptable state of affairs and quietly walk away.


Fourteen days! #curseofkerevesdere #boscoestmoncopilote

I’ve reached that tricky point where everything has to be submitted and…

I have to confess that I’m a little scared.

I’m about to say “Yes, this book is good enough to sell to people.” Now, I’m not asking for your life’s savings with a list price of USD 2.99 but that’s not the point. What I want is to produce something that surprises people with how good it is, that has interesting and enjoyable writing, and that has high production values for a self-published work.

It is intimidating. Yet it has to happen. Fortunately, I have help in quelling my fears.

One of the features of the book is a wonderful character named Bosco. He is, among many other things, a French survivor of exile and the decimation of the French Foreign Legion at Kereves Dere, on the Gallipoli peninsular during the First World War. The book links him with all of the events and people to ground the reader, to bring them into the emotional landscape, and to engage them with the narrative.

He is wonderfully loyal and brave. He is, very much, the voice in my head that tells me to dare and to be bold. Right now, I have him in my ear.

“This book, it is good, patron?”

“I like to think so, Bosco.”

“And what of other people? What do they think?”

“They think it’s pretty good, too. Even after re-readings.”

“Then it must go out. It is either ready now or it never will be. You will never let it be ready.”

“But, of course, Bosco. Out it must go. You are very wise.”

“Wisdom is the memory of all of the mistakes that did not kill us, Monsieur. This book will not kill you, I think. Release it!”

How can I argue with that? Onwards! To production!

Gorgeous free to use image from Eva the Weaver on Flickr.

Fifteen days to go. #curseofkerevesdere

Oh, the places you’ll go… when you start trying to produce large eBooks.

There are fifteen days to go until the book launch. It’s not too late to let us know that you’re coming to the launch!

What have I learned about eBook production? I’ve learned that superscripts such as the ‘th’ in 18th transform differently depending upon which eBook format you target. MOBI seems to be produced without any trouble but the baseline gets messed up in EPUB and it’s a manual (not entertaining) task to manually edit the EPUB in Sigil to replace the rather bizarre span information with simple ‘sup’ tags. (Please ignore this paragraph if it makes no sense.)

In other news, I’ve learned that a 15-gun salute is awarded to three star generals and vice admirals. I’ve also learned that if the birthdays of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh happen to be on the same day, then some poor soldiers in the Tower of London have to fire a combined 124 gun salute. I have no idea if that is going to be useful one day but it’s too late, I already know it.

If you’re ever in London on a Saturday that is the 10th of June and also the official Queen’s birthday, wear earplugs.

If you liked the short stories, you’ll love the book!

(If you liked the short stories, please consider leaving a positive review as there are numerical thresholds to pass before ratings will be displayed. Thank you!)