July 30, 2012

"Spread the word on...Tale of the Unnamed Engine"

One of the things which delighted me recently was a fan from the United States taking it upon himself to advertise our first eBook at one of his club's open days. Here's James' take on the "Tale of the Unnamed Engine", complete with a model of 60114 as made by Bachmann for good effect! Here's James' email to me, complete with his fantastic photographs below.


The Chesapeake Bay & Western Model Railroad Club is (on current record) the largest HO (OO) scale layout in the state of Virginia. We usually do what we want to do, to make new parts for the layout, repairing the old parts, or to run and fix up your own trains.

To know more info, check out our website here. ==> http://www.trainweb.org/cbw/
You can check out my video's on what the place looks like here. ==> http://www.youtube.com/user/steamie58?feature=mhee

 Our club usually host these open houses three or four times a year. Sometimes a day, sometimes a weekend. These open house was just for a Saturday due for an experiment (new air conditioning system). The display was to be set up due to me liking... no, loving you first book and me wanting to help you get more popularity. 

So I decided to make a presentable display of your own series. Simply posters, engines, and a bit of charm. The engines I got quite awhile ago, being a fan of your series.

 Now during the show, lot of people came as usual. To let you know, people come from many states of the USA. Just to see us. The displays caught the eyes of many... I was running trains on the main line, but when I was either stopped, waiting for clearance or not running at all. I came along side the display. The guest where curious of what this was all about. I explained and they where impressed. Though there was one certain request that kept coming up...

*koff koff* One word = Hardcover

You see, most of us here are really still used to real books that evolve real book holding, the sound of turn pages, or that object that you put on a bookshelf in your living room to make others think you don't watch too much TV. But seriously, by popular demand, hardcover is most pleasant to us. But don't worry. I explained that situation and they were really interested. 

No promises, but I think you got a couple more buyers. Also a photographer came, I didn't catch his name but he was really interested in my freight train. So I pointed out my display and he took photos of it. He says he has his own website and will post his photo's eventually. I'll let you know when that happens.

So that's basically it. Your book...*KOFF*Master Piece is a real gem in my book. I ask my Aunt to buy it on her Kindle and when I read the whole book. Again, love it!  Sooner or later I really want it on my phone on iBooks. So that way I appreciate Dean's artwork even more (aunt own's the Black and White version ) and I'll have it with me at all times. But not any more than how much I want it in hardcover version. *on my knees* Praise the Lord to come very soon!!!

Good Luck for the future...
Well James, may I say thank you on behalf of the company (myself and Dean!) for displaying your wonderful model trains, and for advertising our eBook so wonderfully too. 

We will have news on the limited print run of the hardback book most likely by the end of the year, but the only way we will get a print run is if the eBook sells. At the minute, two weeks after release, we have sold a little under 200 books, and it is doing very well in the USA and UK (and a few sales in Germany to boot!)

Thanks to everyone for their support, and we should have some news on the next few projects too in the run up to September.

Until next time!

July 18, 2012

"Tale of the Unnamed Engine - Reviews"

So far, it's a 100% score on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk - 5 star reviews everywhere! Here's a sample of my favourite reviews.

"I bought this for my two boys as they wanted a more 'grown up' story about trains instead of Thomas the tank engine. They absolutely loved the story and the illustrations are just breath taking. The story also included lots of historical detail so the boys could actually learn about the history of Britain and the railways as well (tied in well with a history project at school!) As a mother of two, I could not recommend this book enough". Sarah Reed

 "A remarkable piece of work by an author new to the scene. S.A.C Martin clearly lives and breathes his subject matter and this fact shows immensely in this book. He has managed to capture the essence of both the modern day preservation movement and the heydays of steam in this and his popular Youtube series[...]. Accompanying the remarkable storytelling is the atmospheric and colourful artwork of Dean Walker, another member of the railway fraternity and an accompished artist".

"You will not only read a great story, but learn about the railways in britain, the cornerstone of the industrial revolution".CA Durham

 "The first of what will hopefully develop into a long and prosperous series, 'Tale of The Unnamed Engine' could so easily be dismissed at first glance as being 'another book about talking trains'. Where this differs greatly from other well-known, established character series is the amount of factual content almost seamlessly woven into both text and illustrations alike".

"You won't find any of your garishly coloured, made-up engines doing silly things here, and you won't find a story that sets out to insult the intelligence of kids, or bore adults who are asked to read them over and over again".

"Instead, the reader is taken on a journey back to a lost but fondly remembered age. It sets out not just to entertain but also inform, and achieves this incredibly tricky balancing act with considerable style and apparent ease. The mix of engaging story (featuring strong and well-defined characters), laced with clear and concise explanations and descriptions of historical points of interest, accompanied by a breath-taking range of fresh, colourful and wonderfully atmospheric artwork make this a joy to behold".

"The author's clear enthusiasm for the subject shines through, and the volume demonstrates a desire to educate without ever being stuffy or overbearing. This is a great way of encouraging development from pre-school series to something more factual and informative, and is highly recommended to children and adults alike". PI Jackson

"Well, what can I say about this book. I am been waiting in anticipation for this book for some time, and I speak not only as a customer, but as a follower of Simon Martin's work for some years now".

"The book itself is a fantastic read, even to adults. Yes its target audience is children, but its a fantastic return to the golden age of Children's literature before the days of over protective parents and crazed health and safety fanatics. Many younger fans of series like Thomas the tank engine actually have no idea of what a steam locomotive is, or how it even works, and in some circumstances the show has been criticised for apparently being politically incorrect and apparently scaring people into believing that all trains are going to crash and burn every 30 seconds".

"Simon's work has shown just what children's literature should be like. Interesting, Informative, absoloutley smashing illustrations and with a great story line. It is especially apparent how much enthusiasm that both Simon and Dean have for the subject of Railways, which really has shown in the quality of work they have produced together. (Dean Walker being responsible for the fantastic illustrations in the book). When I was a child and growing up, I always found the subject of railways to be fascinating and the original Thomas story's did much to enforce that interest. The more recent renditions of Thomas have been a considerable let down, and quite frankly an insult to the work of the Reverend W Awdry, however that is my own personal opinion".

"So therefore, I would be more than willing to rate this book 10 out of 10, and what is more, I would have absoloutley no quarrel with reading this book to my child (If I had one). If I had one request, it would be to see this book in a hardback colour edition, which I am sure given the success of this book, will soon be upon us. An absoloutley fantastic piece of work, and I am very much looking forward to the next one that Simon releases!" Rhysicus

" If your child is interested in locomotives and railways, but is growing too old for the likes of Thomas the Tank Engine, then this is a definite must buy for you. A book six years in the making, and with all the effort that has been put into the publication, it's been well worth the wait".

"The story is excellent, with brilliant structure and a choice of vocabulary that clearly shows that the author knows his subject fantastically well. Don't know what some of the terms mean? No worries, there is a glossary at the end, which shows that the author knows that a wide range of people will read this. Some will be railway enthusiasts, some may want to be one".

"After the story, there are fantastic fact files on the characters and locations focused on in the story, with some historical information on the locomotive classes that the characters are based on".

"I've followed Simon's journey as a fan, from the first episode of the web series on YouTube up to this point, and it's great to see how far he's come".

"I cannot finish the review without mentioning the breathtaking illustrations from Dean Walker. A very talented man, producing absolutely stunning illustrations of each engine, person, location, coach and truck. They say pictures tell a thousand words and they definitely do in this book".

"Overall, it's a marvellous piece of work that I highly recommend reading. It's definitely worth the price you pay". Chris

And of course, how can we not put up the stories' most ardent supporter and his views? Which in my opinion, absolutely nail what I was thinking when I was writing this story originally, all the way back in 2006!

"I've been a friend of the creator since 2008 and have been an ardent supporter and fan of what he's been trying to build up over the last few years. The culmination of his work in this work is a testament to his commitment to his product and his passion for his characters and subject matter".
"You're not in for a roller-coaster ride of a book, you're going to be taken for a gentle stroll where you get to admire every little fine detail as you go, and with traditional illustrations of outstanding quality and mesmerising colour, you're going to enjoy and appreciate every second of it fully".
"And in the 21st century where 'extras' are all important - this book has them in abundance with info on the real life locomotives and locations featured throughout as well as a bibliography for those who may be more intrigued than others". Ryan Hagan

To say I am overwhelmed by the posivitity to the release is an understatement. Dean and I are delighted. Long may it continue, particularly as we are gearing up to announcing the next one's title and its content later this year...

Until next time, thanks for all of your support thus far.


July 14, 2012

"Special Thanks"

One of the things about the book which will forever irritate me is the fact I had to cut my Special Thanks & Acknowledgements page down to just under 500 words. It was originally much longer...!
Here is the special thanks page as it was originally intended!

I’d like to give special thanks to my immediate family; my parents Jill & Jerry, my sister Claire and my grandmother, Monica. Without your help and support, The British Railway Stories wouldn’t have got off the ground.

Special thanks too, to my wonderful girlfriend, Charlotte; who has supported me through thick and thin throughout the development of the book.

Special thanks to the Sidcup Crew of Mark, Nick, Matt, Ted & Becky. Thank you for being there in the hard times, and for all times.

To Kaylee Clark (nee Davidson!). You saved me in my darkest hour and urged me to keep going. Thank you for everything.
To Leo Henry, of the Leokimvideo channel, who gave me the "keys to the kingdom". Thank you for your mentorship and friendship, I value it so much.
Special thanks to the Loughborough Crew of Nick, Sarah, Martyn, Jezz, Tim & Alex, Clare & Matt, Pete, and Jim. I remember the first time I thought the book was being published, and many of us shared a champagne bottle in the Moon & Bell! How times have changed, but we shall celebrate together again one day soon.

Special thanks to my artist, Dean Walker, whose superb talents and wonderful sense of humour can be seen throughout this book. He is an inspiration and someone I am very proud to call my friend.

To Ryan Hagan, of the Sodor Island Forums. Without whom, I sincerely doubt that we would have got where we are. You have my eternal gratitude and friendship for all the things you've supported me on.

To Sean, Doug, Chris, Gavin, Eric, Steve, Ian, Ross, “Wee Chris”, Christopher, Evan, Clay, Davey, Keith, Jim, Zach and Ajani. You guys rock. Thank you so much for being such awesome friends and part of the “railway” crew!

To all of my friends on the various online forums such as YouTube, Facebook, RMweb, the Sodor Island Forums, the LNER Forum, and the like. Thanks for your wonderful support over the years; whether with the videos or the book incarnation of The British Railway Stories.

Special thanks to the good people of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the Wandering 1500 Club, the superb fountain of knowledge that is the National Railway Museum, and in particular, the late Malcolm Crawley, for being such inspirational people.

Finally; I’d like to give special thanks, and eternal gratitude to the man who instilled that original passion for history, railways, and a love of engineering and literature combined, in me.

To my late grandfather, Stanley Charles Carvin, who is much missed by all who knew him, but will be remembered forever.

"Tale of the Unnamed Engine - ON SALE"

I've identified a few things wrong in the description - these will be fixed - but otherwise the book is in the store, ready for download, from tonight!

Please don't forget to leave a review in the store when you've read the book - every review helps push the book up a bit in the search algorithm.

Thanks to everyone for their support, I will be posting my full special thanks and acknowledgements page (the one which didn't make it into the book!) tomorrow morning.

A new YouTube video is to follow later today to help advertise and celebrate the release of our first eBook.

Until next time!

July 13, 2012

"Teaser Trailers & Competitions"


This weekend, the first companion eBook for The British Railway Stories will be available for sale on the Amazon Kindle platform. To celebrate and advertise this, a new trailer will air giving the exact details, and the website link to download the book from.

However...there will also be a VERY short teaser at the end of the video for our next project...which can only continue if this eBook does well! So in short, share the flyer around (attached above), share the video around when it arrives, and help us keep our dream of writing historical, entertaining and educational children's literature alive.

I will also be announcing the start of a competition (with rules and prizes to be confirmed shortly) called "Name our Unnamed Engine" to celebrate the release of the first eBook.

In all, the next month leading up to the 5th anniversary of The British Railway Stories on YouTube is going to be an exciting one...!

Until next time!


July 12, 2012

"The YouTube Channel - Refreshed!"

Just to say the last of the YouTube updates has been made to the channel for the time being. All videos are now under "Stories" not "Series" and this is due in part to YouTube changing the algorithm for my channel to redirect people who search for "British railway series".

The descriptions and links have been updated, and you'll note almost every single video has an advert for the new eBook...which will be one of the first items in my new YouTube shop! Yes, YouTube have given partners a shop function!

The channel has also been renamed "The British Railway Stories Ltd" and the lion logo is now in place as the new avatar. All is go for the weekend I think...!

July 09, 2012

"Under a week..."

...until Tale of the Unnamed Engine goes on sale for the first time. I am very very excited, but also extremely nervous. Every writer is, when it has their name on it, and they've invested so much of their time, money, heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into a publication; but there's something more at stake here.

The possibility of presenting an opportunity for something better, for a whole host of people.

A community which supports, and directly contributes to, something much larger than myself.

A grand vision, encompassing many peoples of different creeds, across the length and breadth of Great Britain, and across the seas to other countries such as the United States, where (perhaps surprisingly!) The British Railway Stories is more popular on YouTube.

I know that Dean and I have produced something really special here, and we'd like to keep on producing these books for as long as they wanted. There's so much good we can do through this medium, whether its moral lessons, learned for life, an instillment of a love of railway history, or just something which in later years, you can look back on fondly and say "that changed me".

Tale of the Unnamed Engine is a first step, that difficult first album, and its genesis has been drawn out, and its form changed many times. But the story at its heart, that of identity, and finding it, has never been lost from its pages, and I hope will resonate with many people for years to come.


July 06, 2012

Hornby Valve Gear: Interchangeability between A1, A3, A4

You may remember my Graeme King 60700 model from an earlier blog post - apparently from as far back as 2010! This model was based on a modification of the Railroad Mallard 60022 model. The model originally sported the clunky Railroad valve gear - but no more, in preparation for a complete repaint to its 1949 era livery.

The model has had a change of valve gear, and cylinders. Both sets of valve gear are available on eBay from Peter's Spares from time to time. In this case, the super detail valve gear came from 60073 St Gatien, a badly damaged model I bought to break up for spares. The valve gear was in surprisingly good nick, and along with a brand new set of matching A4 cylinders (for the current super detail A3 and A4 models use the same valve gear with different cylinders), 60700's overall look has been markedly improved, and very cheaply!

This would more or less prove how interchangeable the components between the Railroad Hornby Pacifics and the super detail Pacifics are.

In fact...you'd be surprised how far back the parts are interchangeable!

60103 Flying Scotsman was bought off eBay a few years back with damaged valve gear. I thought nothing of it at the time, but I used the older tender drive valve gear as a direct replacement. The only change you need to make to this valve gear to fit is to bend it carefully so the bracket fits under the running plate. I don't think it looks different enough from the top version of the valve gear to warrant changing it again, so it will stay like this, albeit weathered at some point in the near future.

And to compare further, the "optimum" combination using Sandwich as an example.

Hornby's "future proofing" and reuse of standard components between models of the tender drive, and locomotive drive era is rather impressive in my view, and shows what can be done if you are working to a budget.

The main chassis block is shared between Super detail A1s, A3s and A4s, and the older Railroad A1 and current Railroad A4 models, and everything else including the flanged or flangeless cartazzi wheels are more or less bolt ons for the overall detail for the model. I am looking to buy the latest Railroad A1 for a more full comparison, but I suspect that shares more in common with the Railroad Tornado model.

Until next time!

July 04, 2012

"The British Railway Stories Ltd"

The company, "The British Railway Stories Ltd" has today been registered with Companies House, and is active from today, with myself as sole owner and shareholder. The incoming company secretary is J.P. Martin.

There is not at this time (unsurprisingly!) any intention to float the business on the stock market, as all we have currently is a company registration and a company account. No premises, no merchandise (as yet...), no assets, and no employees or employee structure in place yet.

However, this is the first step towards creating a new and viable business, which I am determined to see through and producing quality children's literature and films in the years to come.

We already have a superb fanbase, a very active and profitable YouTube channel, and the first eBook on the way (Tale of the Unnamed Engine, coming July 15th on the Amazon Kindle, then on iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other eReaders in 2012 ), along with some test footage for the new series on YouTube, coming late 2012.

To say I am delighted is something else! I have always wanted to run my own business and now is the best opportunity to push it forward.

Secondly, the ISBNs for the Kindle and ePub versions of Tale of the Unnamed Engine have been confirmed today, as: 
ISBN 978-0-9573377-0-1

For the Kindle version, and...

ISBN 978-0-9573377-1-8

For the ePub version (which will be out on iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and a whole host of other eReaders and mobile phone platforms. Full details will be confirmed after the release of the Kindle eBook).

And finally...I am happy to announce a special offer for anyone who purchases the eBook, on whatever format they choose.

We will be giving a discount of £1.14 off the cost of a hardback copy of the eBook, which will be released in strictly limited numbers towards the end of 2012. The offer runs until the 15th July 2013, and while stocks last. I will be personally signing every single copy.

So, with just 11 days to go until the book is released - the countdown starts here...

Simon A.C. Martin

July 03, 2012

"Busy busy"

The last few things to be sorted for the book (the setting up of the company, its account, and the ISBNs for the three different eBook formats it will be published in) are well on their way to completion as of this morning.

The final countdown to publication will start Sunday the 8th of July, with a series of blog posts, a YouTube video, and some fun and games on the Facebook group to follow.

We're getting closer and closer; the excitement is building! Spread the word. Tale of the Unnamed Engine is out very soon.


July 01, 2012

"The British Railway Stories goes Live Steam!"

In our quest for global domination (!!!) we've recently bought a part-complete 3.5in gauge LBSC "Hielan Lassie" to form the basis of the stories' first mascot. An actual steam locomotive to help advertise, and promote the stories when we're out and about with the stall (which is part of the overall business plan being worked on).

It'll need a lot of work, and will probably take two to three years to complete, but it'll be an interesting journey nonetheless, and one which will hopefully end with a wonderful apple green Pacific locomotive, for which the stories are well known.

Until next time, when I hope to have pictures of our purchase for perusal.