Monday, 28 March 2011

The Fun has arrived... with a free book token.

...Yes, that's right, I get to bite my nails and check my stats nervously with all the other Indie Authors/Publishers, because as of this afternoon, I held my nose, closed my eyes and jumped into the Publisher's Pool!

The first book of "The Tower and The Eye" Novella series is available to buy through Smashwords! Ain't that just grand? I'm bouncing up and down with excitement and I feel all fluttery at the thought of people finally being able to download and read the words that I had so much fun putting together. 

So you know what on earth I am wittering on about, here's the details - 

Cover by Noelle Pierce

The world of Quargard is at peace. The Heart Kingdoms of Galivor, Jinran, Franier, Valdir, Reldheim and Alethdariel co-exist harmoniously, but it was not always so.

The stories of the Black Tower War keep the children of the four kingdoms in check. Parents ensure that they eat their greens and go to bed on time by passing on the tales of the Dungeons of Doom, ruled over by The Eye of The Overlord. Adults consider them to be only stories, but stories are sometimes true and they always go around in cycles...

From each land comes a tale of daring do, a Hero or Heroine stepping up to take on the job of Dungeon Destroyer, whether they know it or not.

Can the peace of the Heart Kingdoms survive the re-awakening of the Overlord and his horde of Creatures? Will those who venture into the dungeons return alive? Who knows?

Venture into the World of Quargard and find out for yourself.

Book One: A Beginning.

A mad King rules in Galivor. His sons vie for the right to become his official heir. While the youngest, Korin, chases the bandits plaguing the land, Loric sets out to plunder an abandoned dungeon.

With his dwarven bodyguard Grimhelm Drakesplitter; the elven mage Lord Silvertree; Cleric of Espilieth, Lady Kalytia and the thief, Thiert of Galindren; Loric enters the ruins of a Dungeon of Doom on the outskirts of Pleasemore Village.

Little do they know they are being watched…


So, what do you think? Is it intriguing you? Would you like to read it? Yes?

Well all you have to do is click on the link below. There are a couple of different ways you can get it. 

  1. You can buy a copy for the tiny sum of  $0.99
  2. Or you can get a free copy of the novella with this code - JS78V - just enter it into the appropriate place when you get to the checkout!

Be warned though - this coupon code is for a limited time only - so use it fast!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Broken Dreams and Shattered Promises... the biography of a writer.

Just one warning - if you're looking for something happy, then don't read this. This is not Fiction.

When I was little, we lived in a cottage surrounded by cooking apple trees. We had a huge garden and a swing. I had a next door neighbour and my sister to play with. The fact that it was on an American airbase didn't encroach at all.

We'd go on outings to see Mum's family in Aldeburgh and I would have ice cream and fish and chips with my Nanny. I would play with my friends there and go to the beach, paddle in the cold north sea and make stone castles (the beach at Aldeburgh is shingle) with seaweed banners.

Sweets were fun - I could have a bag full of bananas, shrimps, flying saucers, cola bottles and jelly beans for 10p  that would last me all day. The comics were simple. Dennis the Menace and the Bash St Kids in the Beano and Dangerous Dan with his cow pies in the Dandy.

That all changed when I was eight.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Young Adult Science Fiction literature... is it Creating Pessimism in the next Generation?

My Friend Diane Nelson posted this link - - Don't worry I'll wait while you read it... you'll need to read it to understand what I am about to talk about.
 All done? Okay then, I'll carry on with what I was going to say.

I think the current SF Trend reflects the world this generation live in. 

Far too many parents now don't police what their children watch, play or do. I know 11 year olds that play Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Resident Evil  style games (all rated or should be rated 16+) while their parents watch soaps and drink in the other room. Some of these kids have younger brothers and sisters that sit in the room with them and watch them play the games!

Older Kids watch movies that deal with aspects of human nature that they shouldn't be aware of yet - Rape, Murder, Gore, Terror. They think movies like Final Destination and Saw are funny. Many are sexually aware far too early (consenting 11 year old mum anyone?) and they are bombarded by air brushed / ideal beauty images through the TV shows aired when they are likely to be watching and magazines aimed at them.

I'm not saying that children should be cotton wool wrapped until they are sixteen, but the more disturbing areas of Humanity should be introduced gradually at a rate that is right for the child , not the parent.

YA Literature is one way that these areas can be introduced; Books like Uglies, Hunger Games and Matched do this. The problem lies with how early this kind of literature is introduced.  If you go with when they are capable of reading these books, that brings the faster, brighter children in at 10 (sometimes younger) when they are at their most thirsty for knowledge and at their most absorbent. Some of these kids will not be emotionally mature enough to understand the concepts - no matter how fast they learn or read. But they will absorb the messages contained in the stories and it will change the way they look at the world.

So as a Parent (which I am) can you tell? 

....I don't know...

...I'm hitting that age with my son now.

He's been allowed to play games which are rated slightly older than he would normally, and I have noticed a change in his behaviour. His reading age has improved by a whole year over the last six months and he's now reading Rick Riordan. I've read the books, I know there isn't anything in them that is going to upset him and he always asks me if he comes across things that puzzle him.

I'll let you know how the rest of the teenage stuff goes as and when. My daughter is a different matter - she's one of the faster kids and I'm getting worried I won't be able to keep up with her!

What do you think? Carefully controlled introduction or let them do what they want?

Friday, 11 March 2011

Hmmm... maybe I need to extend myself here.

I've just checked my stats for the whole time this blog has been open - roughly two years - and I've had 1639 views in that whole time! I'm shocked... I thought I was loved!


I got the most page views in January this year. What was I doing? I was reviewing books... so, is that all I'm good for? Does no one want to visit my blog for my witty banter...

The answer to that is no.

Nobody visits my blog... unless I am reviewing a book. Which is a bit of a compliment - after all, I might have helped someone buy a new book that way!

Can I just draw your attention to one fact - one tinsy winsy little fact, that you might have overlooked...


I have several pages here -  there is examples of my creative writing ( Noetry and Short Stories) as well as a look into who I am away from the PC and what I do to relax (I make things, okay!) I have a page for links, I have a page for my novels (just in case anyone is interested) and I am also trying to get an anthology off the ground - it has its own page!

So what's wrong with my blog? Am I not interesting enough? Do I not post enough? TELL ME!

*takes a very deep breath*

Anyway - I've updated my Novels page, so have a look - I've put up an excerpt of the novella I am planning to publish on Smashwords soon, as well as the cover art for both that and the first book of my YA Series "The Secret of Arking Down"
There's even a page telling you about my friend, fellow writer, graphic artist (she did the cover for "Angel's Crown") and colleague in the Jewellery Making circles... Maria Kuroshchepova!

So why do I have so few followers? And so few people reading my blog?


I post when I can - I do have to try and write other things you know - and when I post I try and make it interesting.

Ah well, enough whining. I'm off to write an MC into an impossible situation where she has to solve a probable problem and do it with verve, finesse and style...


Sunday, 6 March 2011

A Toe in the Water…

“So, you’re now describing yourself as an Author? What sort of books do you write?”

“Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult and Children's books mainly.”

“How much have you had published?"

“Fifteen or so short stories published in print anthologies and on websites.”

“I meant books. Everyone knows that short stories don’t count.”

“I have a Novella up on Smashwords and I’m publishing the second one in the series soon.”

“What’s Smashwords?”

“It’s an eBook publishing site. It publishes eBooks in all different formats, so you can reach both Kindle and Nook readers and so on.”

“So it’s like, self publishing? That doesn’t count either. You have to have an agent and a publisher to be a proper Author."

“Really? How much do you know about publishing?”

“People who self publish are just clogging up the market. Agents and proper Publishers like Harper Collins are what distinguish an Author from a Writer. They filter out the rubbish…”

“Really. You don’t know much then. What do you think of Katie Price’s book?”

“You know what I think about it. I blogged about it yesterday.”

“Would you call her an Author? She has an agent and a publisher."

“Don’t go there. I get hot under the collar just thinking hearing her name.”

“How long have you had your blog?”

“I’ve had it for three years. I just write about things that have happened to me and what I think about the world. I get a lot of comments."

“Congratulations! You’re a Self Publisher and you have readers. I’ve been publishing myself for the last year or so, on my blog and I just thought it was time to actually publish something longer than eight thousand words.”

“Makes you think doesn’t it. Anyone who puts writing of any sort up on the net is a Self Publisher; they just don’t get paid for it.”

“Hmm, I’ve never thought of it that way before.”

“Fun isn’t it…”

(This is a fictional conversation by the way…)

* * *

The thing is, while it’s easy now to publish an eBook by yourself, it’s not easy to become successful at it. As one of my friends said:

“Editing, proofreading cover design. All vital steps in the journey even when going to an eBook. Correctly formatting an e-book takes a lot of time and skill, as much, almost, as a print book.” – Andrew Brenton.

Those are the bits that tend to be ignored by the people who just want to be able to say “I’ve published a book”.

It doesn’t matter how good your content is, if you don’t have a cover that will catch the eye, or readable text on the pages (readability is governed by grammar, you know, the stuff that you hated at school?) then you won’t sell very many books, no matter how cheap you make them.

That’s when you farm out the stuff you can’t do to people who can do it. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a friend who can do your book cover and another who is happy to help you line edit. The formatting can be tricky, so you might have to learn how to do it yourself properly, or you might shell out for someone to do it for you.

The ones who don’t do any of that are immediately visible on an eBook sales page. The Book Cover is essential as an attractant here and theirs will be, at worst, badly put together. You might read the blurb and be curious so you read the sample. This is when the grammar and formatting issues rear their ugly heads. It doesn’t take much to put a potential reader off.

It was with much trepidation that I ventured onto the Smashwords site to register. I had a good look around, read the recommended books for starting up and decided that it was good a time as any to have a go.

I knew exactly which stories I wanted to publish. The Tower and The Eye stories are from one of my favourite created worlds and I wasn’t about to just jump in the deep end and ruin them.

So I started with the formatting. Having read the Smashwords Style Guide already, I worked my way through it again, altering the page formatting and creating a template. I contacted a graphic design friend who was going through a dry patch word-wise and asked her to create my covers. After a brief series of emails, the first one came through and it was magnificent!

Cover Design by Noelle Pierce
See what I mean? So I knuckled down and got going on the editing, before sending the file off to someone else for a second edit. It’s incredibly difficult to line edit your own work and I only know of one person who can do it.
Where does that leave me now?

Well I’ve been checking out the competition on the ePublishing scene (thanks to Kindle for PC) and I’ve found some really good books that I’d like to share with everyone.Of course, me being me, I’ve already put a couple of these reviews up already to help the author’s spread the word, but that doesn’t mean I can’t post them again! There are also a couple of books that I haven’t reviewed yet, so bear with me…

* * *

Passion turns to envy. Love to murder. One way or another, everyone is spoilt.

A sadistic killer is stalking the streets, carving his hatred into the bodies of beautiful, young women.

The murders are stirring up bad memories for Detective Lucas Huson, as he struggles to remain focused - juggling the horrors of today with horrors from the past.

When Chelsea Summerville's best friend goes missing, she's unwillingly dragged into the race to stop the killer. As Lucas and Chelsea find happiness together, Chelsea becomes the hunted rather than the hunter.

Can Lucas shake off his demons and save the woman he loves, or will everything he holds dear be spoilt?

Australian Author, Joanne Ellis has made a difficult slipstream look easy with "Spoilt".

This book is going to have an attraction for both Crime novel readers and Romance Novel readers. The two genres are effortlessly intertwined, making the characters feel real and well rounded in a way that doesn't tend to happen in most crime novels. The story is fast paced and gripping, the humour and romance leavening the fear of a killer who gets ever closer to his target without being found.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this on Kindle and will be picking up a paperback copy shortly. I am also looking forward to this author's next book "Firestarter".

Get your copy of Spoilt on Amazon, available in Paperback and Kindle:

Spoilt by Joanne Ellis

Young healthy men are dying, drowning in the Seine with alarming regularity. The only thing they have in common is that they look like each other. Can so many have given up on life and have chosen to kill themselves? There is the faint whiff of otherness about their deaths and when that happens the authorities of Paris turn to the one man who might solve the crime. 

Inspector Monde walks the dark side of Paris where the supernatural can be found. Every police force has an Inspector Monde though they try to deny it. When the blood chills and the hairs on the back of the neck rise they send for him and don't look too closely at what he does. For the Inspector does not particularly believe in the Law but will fight for Justice to his last breath.

This is the first book in the Inspector Monde Series. "Marie" is a macabre tale in the tradition of pulp horror fiction, the chills leavened with John Booth's dry humour.

I love the way the author effortlessly draws you into the story with a few well aimed words and leave you wondering what else the Inspector has dealt with if he shrugs something like this off as normal!

Available now on Smashwords: Marie by John Booth

In a world where superpowers are illegal, the line between the good guys and the bad guys is razor thin.

In the first issue of this high-octane series, Detective Erik Mir finds himself face to face with a very old, and very dangerous enemy by the name of, Mr. Teeth.

Steven Novak is a gargantuanly talented illustrator and graphic designer who is also a comic geek. With the successful children's book “Forts” under his belt and the sequel underway, he turned his attention to comics. The result is the definitely adult and very entertaining “The Bad Guys”

Steven’s artwork is clean and very clearly drawn, with his own personal style that reminds me a lot of Jim Davis, yet has a harder edge than Garfield ever did. The story is simple, but enthralling. Having read Issue 1, I cannot wait for Issue 2…

You can find “The Bad Guys” sales links here: The Bad Guys by Steven Novak

It was disquieting. They were just children after all. Brother and sister. Mama’d gone missing and obviously Inspector Monde would understand … ‘at last’. Understand what exactly? Monde thinks he knows but the knowing brings back memories he’s long kept buried. If he walks down that road, what will he find at the end?

Inspector Monde lurks on the dark side of Paris where the supernatural can be found. Every police force has an Inspector Monde though they try to deny it. When the blood chills and the hairs on the back of the neck rise they send for him and don't look too closely at what he does. For the Inspector does not particularly believe in the Law but will fight for Justice to his last breath.

The indomitable Inspector Monde cannot be fazed.

In the first story it was a ghost getting her own back, in this one it's the tale of two children who have lost their mother. But as always, with Inspector Monde, nothing is as simple as it seems...

John Booth is fast becoming a writer to watch out for. Having published two YA books, he turns his attention to the adults. The Inspector Monde Series is shaping up nicely and I for one cannot wait to pick up the next episode!

Catch this chilling tale on Smashwords: Missing by John Booth

A dark and disturbing glimpse into the mind of a sociopath and the apparently impossible attempt by a young woman to expose his crimes.

Marcus was special. He'd always known it. Even at the age of six when he'd decided to kill his father. His privileged background should have produced a doctor, an academic, perhaps a diplomat. Instead, he killed people for fun.

Donna O'Prey is the most junior member of a small private security firm. A routine search for a missing teenage girl escalates into something much more serious when a ransom demand is received. Donna becomes convinced that Marcus is responsible for the abduction. Eleven years previously, while still a child, Marcus had been convicted of the brutal murder of two young children, but a Home Office review board has now sanctioned his release.

Donna needs all her battling qualities as she attempts to rescue the missing girl, but how will she cope when her own safety is threatened?

This is an edgy, hard hitting crime thriller with all the hallmarks of a damn good read. The characters are well formed and the story has so many twists and turns that you’d need a sat nav to try and document them.

As with many of this genre, there are the usual stereotypes, but written with a fresh point of view that makes them more interesting than usual. The dialogue is clear and appropriate for each character voice; the description engaging and cinematic in quality. All in all, I would say that this book is well worth buying!

Find it at Amazon - Burn, Baby, Burn by Jake Barton

* * *

When you’re up against stories of such calibre it does one of two things – You either get so depressed that you can’t carry on, or you become determined to be as good as, possibly better than, the competition.

I drop into the second group. I haven’t come this far just to give up on my dream of being a published Author and despite the Nay Sayers who think that being self published isn’t nearly as good as having an agent and being published traditionally, I am going to carry on along the path I have chosen.

That’s the beauty of eBooks and POD you see; it allows far more choice, both for the writer and the reader. And for me, the Reader is the most important group for me to impress, if they decide that they like me, then it’s all steam ahead!

Keep an eye out for “The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning”. I’ll post the appropriate details when I finally, actually have it live for download. But until then, keep reading!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A pair of Reviews for a pair of Excellent Books...

Spoilt by Jo Ellis

4 Gold Stars

Australian Author, Joanne Ellis has made a difficult slipstream look easy with "Spoilt".

This book is going to have an attraction for both Crime novel readers and Romance Novel readers. The two genres are effortlessly intertwined, making the characters feel real and well rounded in a way that doesn't tend to happen in most crime novels. The story is fast paced and gripping, the humour and romance leavening the fear of a killer who gets ever closer to his target without being found.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this on Kindle and will be picking up a paperback copy shortly. I am also looking forward to this author's next book "Firestarter". 

* * * * * *

Alternative Poetry Books- Yellow edition 
by Michelle Brenton 

5 Gold Stars

Banana the Poet is one of those rare souls who can capture both serious and fun moods.
I enjoyed all her poetry, but my absolute favourite was "Teapot of Trouble" - especially as I tend to end up making the cups of Tea at home!

This would be a great present for anyone!