Monday, 29 December 2014

What's Been Happening / Blood and the Raven Update, Thanks and Happy New Year!

Hello all. Hope you are all keeping well. I've been suffering from a flu bug for best part of a month. But these things can be expected in England at this time of the year.

I'm still keeping up exercise, but you know, you can have those days where the best thing to do is go to bed with a hot drink (or several hot drinks) and read!


I've been reading Stephen King's Revival for most of December. I should have finished it, but concentration has been difficult with being unwell, but it is what it is! Enjoying it so far, and better than his recent efforts Mr Mercedes and Doctor Sleep!


The second Tale of Vampires, er, Tale, is due for release in the next month or so! This tale, entitled The Blood and the Raven,  is separate, but also related to Murderous Little Darlings. As they are novellas, I am keeping them at a relatively cheap price. So please buy, rate, comment, review!

The giveaway for Murderous Little Darlings ends January 1st 2015. 


In 2014,  I released the paperback of Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle. This was followed in April by Stormling, and in the Autumn Dark Winter: Crescent Moon was released.

The release of Murderous Little Darlings (A Tale of Vampires:I) rounded off the year. I have learned a lot, experienced a lot, been elated, been battered, been humbled. But this is a learning process. Financially, it is looking worthwhile. But I realise there is much to do!

In 2015 you'll see the conclusion to the Dark Winter story, with Dark Winter: Last Rites being released.
A Tale of Vampires : III will also be released, as will the dark psychotic chiller thriller Clara's Song.

I may even finish the long awaited Mastery of Martial Arts - that's non-fiction of course. It's just the editing of that one that has taken so long.

THANKS (I really mean it)!

I want to thank each and every one of you who has bought a book this year - not just mine, if you have, but by supporting the book industry, whatever format you chose, is important for authors. There are many of us, and we are trying hard to been seen and heard.

We write the best that we can. We are not trying to be pushy or act needy when we ask you please buy our book - we just need a chance for our little project to catch fire.

My thanks go to, in no particular order, and apologies to anyone left out for your amazing support over the course of my writing adventure:-
  • Maxine Groves
  • Charlotte Henley
  • Cristiane Serruya
  • Vani
  • Merril
  • Geri Walton
  • Elizabeth Hanbury
  • Aditi Saha
  • J Kahele
  • Adriana Girolami
  • Chene Sterckx
  • Rocco R
  • Juanita
  • Hannah Drake
  • Mariana
  • Rachel
  • Manda
  • Kim
And many more.


So have a very happy new year. I hope 2015 is all you wish for and more. Look forward to hearing from you in the new year!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Book Review: The Inner Kingdom (Dragon Quest I) by S.R. Gibbs


Think of the fantasies that thrilled you as a child, and influenced me as a writer, and the usual tales, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and others come to the fore. In the case of CS Lewis' body of work, I felt that in author SR Gibb's debut novel, there lay the hallmarks of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

 Of course, this story seeks to stand on its own, and it tells the tale of three sisters, Angie, April and Ashley, who find their normal day to day routine upturned when they find themselves in a fantastical world, full of danger, thrills and excitement. The book has quite a large cast of characters, but as the action all surrounds the three sisters, and often the chapter focus is told from one sister's POV, it's an enjoyable and always engaging read.

 In particular, I loved the ending. It was a great reveal, that I didn't see coming. Thankfully, the author has another tale in the works. I think SR Gibbs is very talented and will hopefully delight us with a new release soon.

Monday, 8 December 2014

GoodReads Giveaway: Murderous Little Darlings (A Tale of Vampires #1)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Murderous Little Darlings by John    Hennessy

Murderous Little Darlings

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends January 01, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Friday, 5 December 2014

Book Review: The Genesis Reversal by Jillian Cornell


Master Jin: "Are you frightened of your wife, Ip?"
Ip Man: "No men are afraid of their wives. There are just men who respect them."

(from the movie Ip Man, 2008)

Sometimes a book makes you stop everything you're doing, and makes you think. The Genesis Reversal, by Jillian Cornell, is one such book.

If you read a book and can get into it instantly, that's great. Should the reading get too comfortable, however, it loses its possible strength.

Reading The Genesis Reversal was like watching one of those 'mirror universe' episodes of Star Trek where things were the same, but they weren't...and it does take you a little while to get used to the set up.

Fortunately, Miss Cornell's writing style is eloquent and well structured. You can 'buy' the premise of a matriarchal society here, whereas in the aforementioned Star Trek..such ideas were handled rather badly.

The main character of the story is young Tommy, who dreams of being the first male president one day. Such ideas are seen as fanciful, at best, but he watches cartoons like Captain Strong Man, who always helps others, and naturally, the Cap is a hero to him.

The overall message of the book is one of equality, and it remains a very important one. I really like the concept of women owning firearms but the men do not.

Whilst in our world, female killers are in the minority, it's more about attitude and mentality. Fairness, also. What is fairness? Is asking for more of a balance, and less control, actually fair? ask any reasonable person and they'll agree with that statement.

Men are quick to anger in this book, and it's fair to say men are generally more aggressive. I've always said I will avoid a fight where I can, but if in one...I will finish it. Guess who told me that? A woman - who was my first proper kung fu instructor.

I also loved lines like (paraphrased):

"Ruthie, would you explain why you threw rotten eggs at my house?"
"They weren't rotten when we threw them."

Coming from a Catholic family, the concept that God is a woman was a little difficult to get around, but I cannot prove otherwise, so I roll with it.

The Genesis Reversal is a true gem, because it makes you think 'what if' in a really plausible way. It also shows the power of book recommendations by your favourite authors.

I enjoyed this a lot. I'll be looking out for more from this talented author!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Book Review: Facade by J Kahele


In the best tradition of sexually charged thrillers, Facade introduces us to Ally and Liam, two characters that are literally like two asteroids colliding in space.

It can only create a big bang. Ally is a feisty heroine, and I found myself one the one hand cheering for her directness and tough attitude. On other pages pages I was like 'Ally, now why have you done that? It will only make Liam mad.'

Liam has a great relationship with his father, a successful business, and Liam knows too what he wants. Problem is, despite the many proclaimations of love for each other, Ally and Liam don't seem to want to go that bit further, or maybe...learn to back off.

Hence this is the Facade I saw in the title, and how it relates to the story.

Will they end up together, or not? You'll have to read and see. But it is so worth the read!

I think the author of the superb Mine and Mine 2, J Kahele, had a blast writing this tale. There's scope for more too - Caras is actually my favourite character - I warped mind! Anyway, this is a great read that demands your attention. Now.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Cover Reveal: The Blood and the Raven (A Tale of Vampires, #2)

I'm happy to announce the second in my novella-style tale of vampires. Entitled The Blood and the Raven, the story is related to the first Tale, Murderous Little Darlings, and yet any in this series can be read on their own.

Unlike Murderous Little Darlings, which was told rather tongue-in-cheek, The Blood and the Raven is more of a straight up horror tale.

Synopsis: A group of teenagers spend a night amongst the ruins of an old priory, taking turns to scare one other with a tale of horror, each  one more scary than the last.

When it comes to Seth, the last storyteller, he is reluctant to tell the story, because once the story has been told, those who hear it, will begin to die.

As he is still alive, his friends think Seth is bluffing - but is he in fact, telling the truth?

To find out, you must dare to read the tale of The Blood and The Raven. 

Expected release: February 2015. You can read the first tale and buy it here.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Murderous Little Darlings: Paperback Release Announcement!

Hello friends and hope you're having an amazing day.

"Now hear this!" as Lt. Dan says in Forrest Gump.

The Kindle version of my first book in the Tale of Vampires series has been out for  a while now and you can get the e-version here but this post is specifically about the paperback version.

It's done now, so expect it on Amazon soon. Here's a look at the front and back cover.

Murderous Little Darlings is the first in a series of seven tales of vampires. Expect the series to twist and turn, but all relate, once the series has ended. Each story can be read as a standalone too.

I hope you'll give it a go. I had a blast writing this!

Happy reading and writing!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Book Review #31: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins


Mockingjay had some serious living up to do. After The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire, the issue for Suzanne Collins was how to reel readers in for a third time. The possibility of another Hunger Games taking place seemed implausible, and so we are taken on a street level tour of District 13 in this book.

The rebellion appears to be in full swing, but the Capitol have a weapon in the form of Peeta. They use him in the same way that Katniss, for a large part of this book, seems to be used.

Christopher Nolan, director of the Dark Knight trilogy, at first did not want to do a third film in the series. That film, which became The Dark Knight Rises, would have almost certainly featured Heath Ledger's Joker. Given the actor's death, revisions to the script had to be made. 

The general consensus is that 'Rises' is the weakest of the three movies. But I see the series as one whole, and if you look at it in those terms, it's very enjoyable indeed. You have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Mockingjay has this too, and the ending to Catching Fire just made your pulse race harder than anything that was in the first book. Yes, it was that good, in my view. Surely after that, the only way is down? Christopher Nolan didn't want to do the third Batman film because 'how often does the third story beat out the previous ones?'

And he is right. It's so difficult to get the third story in the series right. Mockingjay also seems to have 
polarised many readers, but most seem to think this is a fitting end to the series. Here's my take on it, given I read the book nearly two years ago now, and with the new film coming out, I just had to reacquaint myself with the story.

I had previously rated Mockingjay 4 stars out of 5 on GoodReads. Would this rating stand up?

I recall that my experience mirrored many others. Book 1, read as fast as I could (in my case, 1.5 days - I even wanted to reschedule teaching lessons in order to finish the book!), Catching Fire, best part of a week, Mockingjay....nearly three months.

Was I 'Gamed out' by this point? Had I tired of Panem's situation? No, it wasn't that. The pace of Book 1 and 2 was frenetic, to put it mildly. Book 3, in contrast, was slow, plodding, and yes...a bit depressing. I wanted to know where the spirited Katniss had gone. 

She became one of my favourite heroines in book form, but Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal on the big screen elevated Katniss to something else. That's why I think the film will still be good. Is it really Suzanne Collin's fault that some readers feel let down by the pace of this final book? Most say 'I was expecting something mind blowing'? And of course, that is fair enough.

Another comment was that the publisher pushed Miss Collins to write this third book, one she never intended to write. The whole evolution of Katniss from plucky fighter who replaced her sister in the 74th Games to this inward looking girl, who cannot seem to choose between Peeta and Gale, really irked me.

I know she is young, and she has seen many horrors, but Peeta, though kind to her, was more of the Games's invention - they were star crossed lovers because that's what kept them alive. I never really bought the relationship, and I felt - always - that Gale was closer to her. 

In the latter part of Mockingjay, Katniss still seems very confused, and it's not something I was comfortable with. Maybe it is how the author saw the character growing, but I felt it was a step back. I wanted Katniss not necessarily to be the symbol of the rebellion...after all, anyone could be the Mockingjay, really - it was more that I wanted her to have a happy ending, and I am not sure Suzanne Collins gave us that.

Many of you will have read the series, but on speaking to many people I know, not so many have, so I'll leave the spoilers out.

Ultimately Mockingjay is a case of some missed chances. There's dramatic points parachuted in needlessly, whereas in the first two books, the drama was truly engrossing. These points were introduced in order to make the reader feel some emotion, but I felt a huge disconnect here.

There is one genuine shock I did not see coming, and for those who will just watch the movie, it will be a real high point of the series. 

Catching Fire - the movie, was almost certainly better than the first film. Somehow, I don't think Mockingjay will pull it off. But it will be an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

My rating holds for now.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #3: Scene Hopping - A Good or a Bad Thing?

When you are writing that special story of yours, there's a tendency, no matter how disciplined the mind, to run ahead of certain scenes. That's okay in itself - you need to know where the story is going. But if you scene hop just because you are stuck on the current scene, should you be actually scene hopping?

How helpful, or destructive, is this to your writing process?

We learn as we go. In my case, if I scene hopped, I needed to go back and check that at that moment in time, and how it fitted with the events prior to that, and those that came after it.

It would not be enough to simply suggest that you had reached an end point. The reader needs a reason, a justification as to why you wrote the scene in the way that you did.

It is often said that an author's first book is the one that truly nags to be written. Any book thereafter is an indulgence, no?

No, I don't think so. If you are a writer, at whatever level that may be, a second, third, hundredth book is fine. So long as you are happy with it, and you offer your readers a coherent, believable story.

The breaking of a scene, is a huge decision. You may have to - for example, certain elements aren't working and if you don't get to the scene twenty or fifty pages further on, you cannot make sense of this current one. Makes sense, right?

It only makes sense, if it makes sense to the reader. You cannot second guess how the reader will interpret your story, but try and make the job easy for them. Don't overload a scene with characters who have been barely introduced, or not mentioned for 200 pages. Don't over complicate the scene, so that the important details are lost. Don't bore your reader with too much detail! Sometimes, an oak tree, is just an oak tree!

I do this workshop in the hope it helps some of you, but I also say that I too am learning the craft, and it's something I will never stop learning. If each book I write is better than the last, I feel I am on the right path.

I've mentioned what I think you shouldn't do, so here's what I think you should do.

  • Do finish a scene. Then leave it to 'brew', come back, and flesh it out. 
  • Do not add drama for drama's sake. You are taking your reader on a journey, not an OMG on every page. After a while, they will desensitise to your perceived dramatic points
  • Do make the scene real, even in fiction works, this has to be believable, and relatable for the reader.
  • Make the scene hopping work. Ever tried to drive over a broken bridge? That's okay in GTA, but not in real life. Make the scene (hopping) work.

So, in summary, I don't think scene hopping is a bad thing, but it does make you lose time, and possibly, the thread of the storyline. If this is your first book, you're forgiven, so long as the story is good. If it is your second book, try your best to scrub scene hopping from your writing process.

By then, you'll be well on your way to having a back catalogue for readers to enjoy.

Happy writing!

Catch up on the previous #Tips here

Monday, 27 October 2014

Book Review #30: Revenge of the Knights Templar by Adriana Girolami


 A tale of swords and superstitions, of passion and deception, of political machinations and posturing, Revenge of the Knights Templar is an exceptional debut novel by talented author Adriana Girolami.

This story has been on my to read list for most of 2014. Now, that I have finally completed reading it, I can say that the wait was worth it.

The ability of an author to transport the reader to a different time and place, and do it convincingly, is a task that perhaps only the most seasoned of authors would attempt. So it makes this story all the more remarkable that it sets itself up brilliantly, with the kind of prose I wish I could use in my writing.

After the initial few chapters, where most if not all of the main characters are introduced, the pace picks up and doesn't let go. In fact, I had to stop myself from finishing the novel too quickly.

It is a thoroughly entertaining and thrilling read, set in the 1480s where, as always, who ever wields power can do so with a silken rose or an iron fist.

Our heroine, Polyxena, is destined to become a duchess, but not in the way she envisaged. Her love, the Duke Arsenio is brutally cast aside in a battle of wills and swords, seeing the repugnant Duke of Saxe-Hanover seizing power, with Polyxena, seemingly hapless to play anything but the dutiful wife.

Things can't go on like this forever, and with the tyrant becoming ever more tyrannical (as they do!) the evil Duke begins to make mistakes...the biggest of which seem his superstitions. The fate of one cat in the story was a pivotal moment for me.

Polyxena, as befits a great heroine, is anything but a housemaid and often voices her displeasure at the Duke's actions - especially with his joy at the arrangement of so many executions of his enemies. Polyxena, understandably, is horrified. One of the condemned is her new love, Duccio.

The story has a great premise, but actually backs this up with superb execution. The characters are believeable, you feel hatred for the evil Duke, love and hope for the beautiful and intelligent Polyxena. I even found my distaste of Flavia coming around to better thoughts later on. Such is this beautifully woven tale.

The cover, though stunning, should not hide the fact that the sword fights are realistic in their description, and Miss Girolami places you as if you wielded the sword yourself! I was truly swept into the action of this story, which I will say is as well written as any part of the Lord of the Rings.

The author's wordcraft is exciting and perfectly describes each scene. The characters are superbly drawn, and the detail of her vision leaves nothing to chance. You, dear reader, are transported to 1480s Europe, and can do nothing about it!

This story is a historical epic, a romance, a thriller, a mystery and is full of great lines, written beautifully and without any hint of pretence.

It's not without humour, with great lines such as:

"The erotic spectacle stimulated the drunken crowd, who quickly joined the royal pair in a sexually driven bacchanal. An orgiastic took over the room while everybody rubbed and caressed anything that wasn't theirs."

And stark, great authoritarian lines such as:-

"A river of blood will cleanse you of audacity!"


"It's easy to learn cruelty when you live with evil."

Truly, I can't wait to read this book again. It's been by far one of my favourite reads of 2014, and one can only wait for Miss Girolami's next book. As for Revenge of the Knights Templar, I thoroughly recommend you read it. Now. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Book Review #29: Mine 2 by J. Kahele


You know the often quoted saying, especially in movies, where people say that a follow-up or sequel can never match the original?

That's true. But authors wouldn't write a follow up unless they could beat it. In Mine 2, I believe author J. Kahele has achieved this improbable feat.

Mine 1 was a brutal read, about a woman suffering severe emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her Senator husband, Ben Kramer.

Jenna Kramer is a character I could feel great sympathy for. A common riposte from people about women who stay with the men who hit them is 'why doesn't she leave him?'

And whilst I agree with that, unless I was in the horrific situation Jenna finds herself in, how could I know what I would say, how I would react, what would I do?

It's clear Ben Kramer is a brutal man with few, if any, redeeming qualities. Does this make him sound one-dimensional? No, because if he was, you could predict his next move. You can't. This is masterful story telling.

That said, like Mine 1, this is not an easy read. It is not a book to make you smile. It is not for the faint of heart, because the violence is graphic, very hard-hitting, and relentless.

With so many horrors happening in the world, why read this book?

Well..if you want an utterly compelling story with a thrilling narrative and a woman who you really feel for and want her to come through Mine, then read Mine 2.

The antagonist, Ben Kramer, doesn't love Jenna. He controls her. As I reviewed in Mine 1, she cannot even wear blue jeans because it displeases Ben.

And when Ben is displeased, boy, does he show it.

Fortunately, Jenna is not alone, and she has a new love, Andrew Carington, who really does love Jenna, but when I was reading some of his actions, I found myself shocked.

Can I, as a male, tell you honestly that a woman I have been in love with has never annoyed me, to the point that her words and actions have enraged me?

Of course I cannot say that. But I can say that my discipline means there is a line I would not cross. But there are many men that do, and the women on the end of their cruelty stay with them.

I have taught women martial arts who have previously suffered from abuse from men in their lives. I have heard real horror stories from them, the details of which turned my stomach and made me ashamed that I was the same gender as these torturers.

There is no circumstance in which a man should hit a woman. I don't care what it is. There is nothing that can justify that.

With reference to the book, this is a book everyone should read and they will enjoy it. The author, J. Kahele, is a truly talented writer and I believe she is going to go far.

Here is a lady author who has not gone down the route of 'sex for sex' sake' in her writing. That may be the hot topic right now, but for my own part, I want to read intelligent writing. And it is here in abundance.

Does Jenna find happiness? Is Andrew the answer? Does Ben mend his ways and win Jenna back, or does he get his comeuppance?

The last line of Mine 2 is automatically one of my all-time favourites!

So many haunting lines that just hit you where it hurts, such as:-

"Abusers are not merely low-paid, uneducated alcoholics, like society would like us to believe. They are from all different positions in society; an abuser can be just about anyone, from a factory worker to a senator."

All true. Wearing a suit does not necessarily make me more civilised!

The answers to the questions above are within this fantastic book, arguably my favourite book of 2014. This is such a hard thing to say, amongst so many great titles, but I love this book. I felt all of Jenna's pain, all of Andrew's rage, and I understood his position too (for the most part!) - and I could not stop reading.

The last book I read this fast was the superlative Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. That's how good this is.

Take a bow, J. Kahele. You have won a new fan.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Book Review #28: Mine by J. Kahele


Once in a while, a true edge-of-the-seat (or in this case, page) thriller entertains and enthralls us.

Mine tells us the tale of Jenna Kramer, who comes into contact with handsome attorney Andrew Carington. All well and good, you may say. But Jenna is married. Not only that, she is married to Ben, a Senator. Not only that, Ben is a possessive nutjob, I'm thinking his mother could be Annie Wilkes from Misery.

Mine is a brutal examination of how people can be controlled in relationships. Of course there are things we will do that our partner / spouse will not like. But in Jenna's case, she finds herself eating a wall because she chose to wear blue jeans. Something with Ben doesn't like. He doesn't like this at all.

In fact, when the first assault from Ben happens, it is truly shocking. And the way he follows it up with an 'I Love You' makes it all the more worse.

I have had Mine on my to read list for a while. It's such a pleasure to read a truly thrilling novel, where the author uses great prose to draw us into this world.

You root for Jenna, that's a given, but really, no-one should have to go through what she goes through in this book.

Even more pleasing is the knowledge that a second book in the series exists.

Make sure you read Mine, because I was reminded of Fatal Attraction, Jagged Edge, Stepfather...and similar thrillers of this ilk. Ben could be in any of these kind of films...he is a guy you love to hate. But is down to the author's talent as a writer that this Ben is so utterly chilling.

I find myself still thinking about the book, even though I have read it, and would re-read it!

So buy Mine, and enjoy. You may not look at your relationship in the same way again!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Book Review #27: Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley


Jennifer Ashley is best known for her romance novels, but she writes paranormal on occasion too. This book was recommended to me so I purchased it. This review is for the paperback edition.

I'll sometimes lend my books out. In my mum's case, I'm trying to broaden her reading beyond Catherine Cookson, Maeve Binchy and Danielle Steele. So I lend her the occasional book.

A good thing I read this first then - from the first few pages the rating could be considered as extremely hot, and not the kind of book to lend to Mum!

So this review is based on the second book in the series, and is my first JA read.

Isabella is a strong, independent young woman, and doesn't give in to the affections from men easily. However, in this book, it seems she will wilt in the end, although I won't spoil the ending! 

The book could be considered a Highland romance, as our 'hero' paints whilst wearing a kilt. Fair enough!

It also means he can get his clothes off more quickly, which, if Isabella is as hot as we are led to believe, I'd probably be going for her too!

I like the descriptions of England, which are extremely well done, you really feel like you are there. I suppose it must be hard for American authors to write with true authenticity if they haven't been to the country they write about. But her descriptions are so vivid that the author must have been here.

The ending was actually rather unpredictable. And it's that thought I'll leave you with. Jennifer Ashley has sold tonnes of books, so she must be doing something right. It's an enjoyable romance that has lots of intensity, which puts it above many of its peers, but lack just that bit extra to make it awesome.

A very good read, nonetheless!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #2: My Tips for Writing and Getting That Book Written - Part Two

If you missed the first of my Weekend Writing Workshop tips, then check out this link:- Tips #1

This week, I continue my tips. Whichever ones work for you, build them into your routine, and you will achieve great success! This is what I am wishing for you, and for all of us.

6. Lack of self-belief is your biggest enemy.

There you are, with a great sounding idea in your head. You start writing. Maybe you've already done the synopsis, or you haven't. Maybe you have the story in your head, and just want to get going without fully thinking it through.

But you must start somewhere. There are countless websites and books that will say 'oh you should do this - I did and I sold xxx amount of books'  and others will say 'oh you should do this' completely contradicting the other website.

Ignore them, because whilst you view the pros and cons, you are not writing.

But I digress. Procrastination is a killer of most things, but you need to believe in yourself if you are to get the book written (even if it is a book about self-belief!!).

Family may or may not support you in this venture. Same goes for friends - on and off line.

Writing is a lonely process. But if you have something to say, and you think it could be better served outside of blogging, then get the book done. Believe in yourself. Let no-one say to you 'you can't' when you can. Let no-one affect your goal. Otherwise you, who believes you have a book in you, will never get it done.

It's the fear of the thing, not the actual thing, that is scary - am I right?

Yes. I fear that terrible review. I fear the sales hitting the floor. Or worse - I fear not being able to write something good - something that I can believe in.

You may be thinking - 'but who would really want to read my story?' Well, let me say this - Hollywood pumps billions into making, producing and distributing low brain - high octane action movies (yes, Jason Statham, I am talking about you!) and it's has an audience. Not every movie has to be The Piano or Schlinder's List. I enjoy action movies. I love the stupidity of some of them. But they make money - because the studio believes it will.

The point is, even the worst ones make money. You can make money from your writing enterprise but you know - or may not know, the full extent of the amount of work you are going to have to put in.

But you can perhaps only put out trash once. Reviewers can be very unforgiving, and friends may get bored of you if you have 'yet another book' coming out. Not always the case, but you must push on nonetheless.

Why? Because you are a writer. You have a story to tell. Believe in it and yourself, and there is nothing you cannot achieve.

7. Give yourself a structure.

I like structure. I like process. Affect me in any way, and it could upset what I need to achieve that hour / day / week / month.

For some, it is writing for one hour in the morning before you go to work. For others, it is writing late into the small hours. But do give yourself a structure. Commit to finishing that chapter, or that word milestone, or simply getting particular scene as best as you can.

Don't let it become a chore, though. Actually, even when I knew my writing was substandard, I would still type away. It's like a pianist (also a hobby of mine) trying to find the right note or chord. Keep going. Give yourself a structure. Never stop until you have achieved your goal for that day, and if you do under hit or under achieve, resolve to fix it the very next day.

8. Pick a genre you like, not the hottest thing around.

The beauty of books is that they can be picked up at any time, and can contain absolutely anything within its pages. Imagine this - you read The Hunger Games, loved it, and thought 'hey, I can write a dystopian novel and it will be a hit because it is all the rage now.'

What happens? Many authors try it - Keira Cass, Veronica Roth, and so on. And your interest wanes because it is getting rather samey.

So if you are really set on writing the hottest thing right now, I think you can still write it, but it may get swallowed up by the Suzanne Collins and Co machine!

Quality is quality though - if you can write a quality book, then it will be found.

9. Allow yourself down time and down days.

There are days you simply won't want to write, nor be able to write. So allow yourself these moments of down time. Don't punish yourself. It happens. You have so much going on in your life that you can't focus. But the next day, it's better. And you can focus. Then you write, and you actually write better than you would have if you had forced it.

I'm trying to give myself the weekend off from writing, so that my body can heal from the teaching I do, and my brain can heal from the writing I do. Whatever works for you, do it by NOT doing it!

Go to the cinema, grab an ice cream, go shopping, see the football game, hammer the playstation.

But live.

10. Write the synopsis.

This is a very hard thing to do unless you have a real handle on your story and characters. Who do you mention? Who do you leave out? What significant event can be mentioned without giving the story away? What hook can you include that will make people want to read?

For my first fiction book, Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle, I managed to include two things that I wanted.

i) The short story hook the reason why the book is engaging and should be read
ii) A diary style entry that would get you into the character's head.

The Short Story Hook:-

Romilly Winter is no ordinary heroine, just an ordinary one. 

She has a gift. She can see the future. But can she see far enough? The world in which she lives is under attack - the dead are rising, and evil follows her at every turn.

Will she be able to save herself - and the world?

The synopsis cannot make you care about Romilly at this point, but it does give you an idea of the difficulty in which she finds herself. The cover gives you some idea, but raises more questions than answers. Can she save the world, indeed. If the story is total fantasy, you will have trouble caring about that. But this paranormal tale is told with elements that you have to believe are real, and could happen. That's why the short story hook works.

Again, if you missed the first of my Weekend Writing Workshop tips, then check out this link:- Tips #1

Happy reading and writing!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Book Review #26: The Modern Man by Cristiane Serruya


I do love a well written philosophical book, and one of those that affected me the most over many years is Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

I am an experienced martial arts teacher, but when that book was written, it was ahead of its time. Bruce Lee was ahead of his time. Arguably now, only some of his concepts are being truly understood. I continue to wrestle with them myself.

The next thing to say is that I am a fan of Cristiane Serruya's works, without necessarily being a fan of 'hot romances'.

But her TRUST trilogy was, and is, a revelation.

So where does The Modern Man stack up? Written by the author when aged just 18, it shows a great maturity and, in relation to Bruce Lee - someone else who was ahead of her time.

At times, the book seems dream-like, almost stuck between the haze of half-sleep whilst dealing with the brutality of life. Some may even view this as a pro-feminist text. It may well be, but that's not how I took it.

It is a complex narrative, but beautifully written, and every single line engages you. It is a book worthy of many, many re-reads. In The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, many sentences deserve multiple re-reads.

I have read other philosophy books, but few as good as the one I mentioned. Now we can add this one to the list.

One of the most striking parts of the book, for me, was this:-

'The man has forgotten what is hot or cold.

He forgot what is wind or rain.

The man forgot the elements of Nature.'

I believe this is one of the most damning judgements on our lives today. We are controlled by our electronic devices, that makes me actually shudder at former Sun Microsystems supremo, Scott McNealy, who said 'we want everyone to be connected, everywhere.'

I thought that was a fine ideal at the time. Since then, Sun has gone the way of the technological dodo, and Mark Zuckerburg wants us checking Facebook even when we are outdoors!

No. Let's reclaim our place in the universe - with Nature at our centre.

I'd like to think this is the message the author wishes to convey in those few sentences, but I expect it runs much deeper, much more meaningful than that.

I would like to think Miss Serruya is working on a new non-fiction text. One wonders what she would treat us with.

If you want a book that will make you THINK - get this book. It's wonderful, but not in the literal sense of the word. It is not an easy read, despite its brevity. But then, it doesn't need to be long.

The best authors know when they have arrived at the final page.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

25 Things I Know To Be True (since writing Dark Winter#1)

1. Hormones really are a b*tch.
2. There are some witches really can’t do *everything*.
3. Theory is so much more easier than practice.
4. If you’re attracted to someone, bl**dy tell them so!
5. Kung Fu doesn’t work that great on zombies.
6. Red heads are hot, even if they are flaky.
7. Know the difference between a friendly hug and when someone tries to squeeze the life out of you.
8. Mirrors are scary things (especially at 2am in the morning and you really need the bathroom)

9. Wearing blindfolds is always a bad idea.
10. Going to zombie-self-defence class should be compulsory.
11. Choose your friends carefully.
12. Anything that marks you out as different, makes you special. Not weird.
13. Shadows and shapes always look bigger in the dark.
14. Not every mirror can make you prettier.
15. Always carry your gloves.
16. Never ask a girl to give you her mirror.
17. Falling in love makes you blind to that person’s faults.
18. To avoid disappointment, get your prom date request in early.
19. Chocolate can pretty much defeat anything.
20. Information found on the internet can often be wrong.
21. There is never ANY reason to let a zombie girl into your house.
22. Dead people do keep grudges.
23. Scary things can happen in the daylight too.
24. Accept that you are stuck with the genes your parents gave you.
25. Hope will keep you going, and faith will see you through.

Book Review #25: The Trouble With Honor by Julia London


The Trouble With Honor is an extremely enjoyable work of fiction. The herione, Honor Cabot, could sit almost in any YA fantasy / paranormal novel. Whilst that may seem like a weird reference, bear with me a second.

It's been a while since I reviewed a book, even longer since reviewing a fiction book, so I had to make notes and go back to them. This review is for the paperback edition - this is where Kindle shines because it is so easy to make notes on the app!

Anyway, onto the story, which isn't remarkably original in itself, in that the family faces financial ruin and so it is to Honor we turn to restore some, er...honour to the Cabot family.

However, Honor is a feisty character and I was drawn to her boldness immediately. She's challenging, and daring - which to most men would make her annoying and difficult. I don't doubt it - but she is written so well for the most part by Julia London that you can't help but like Honor Cabot.

As her beau, George puts it, "It is a puzzle to me how one woman can be so clever and fearless, and yet naive, all at once."

I know where he's coming from. It's like Honor has a dual minute she is feisty and fearless, the next, she does  things that bamboozle me! Is this what the author intended?

I don't know. So my feelings are a bit strange about Honor. I'd like to think she is more the former than the latter.

Maybe it's all the Jane Austen I read as a kid, but I have some difficulty accepting that men talked in that period as George Easton does to Honor. He's very forward, brash, and yeah...rather vulgar. Perhaps some women like that in a man, but I didn't believe Honor would fall for that. And yet it seems she does.

Jane Austen's heroes were far more polite. I am not saying every HR should be like JA's works, but vulgarity drops the quality of the book down a notch or two.

That said, The Trouble With Honor ends on a satisfactory note, and I would be encouraged to read the second book in the series. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #1: My Tips for Writing and Getting That Book Written - Part One

I remember an interview on Michael Parkinson's long running chat show where he interviewed Sir Anthony Hopkins.

MP: So how did you get into acting?
AH: By accident, really.

What did he mean by that? Surely someone as good an actor as Anthony Hopkins, who I first saw in The Elephant Man, later, The Silence of the Lambs, and understated but beautiful films like The Remains of the Day, would not have fallen into acting by accident? Yet, that is what he said on the show.

It's true that I've always enjoyed reading and writing. But my start - the actual beginning of getting something down that would end up in a book, was slightly accidental.

As a martial arts teacher, I often scribble down notes outside of the syllabus I am actually teaching. The notes would run and run. It grew legs, you might say. And the first book was created some two years after I finished my scribbles.

So maybe I started by accident, but the basics were always there. I liked reading and exploring new worlds. That's what a book is - an unchartered world and especially so if it is a new author.

So here are some of my tips for writing and getting the book done. I cannot stress the latter part enough, because if it remains as a file on your computer, that's what it will remain. At some point, let it go.

1. Tell the story you want to tell, not the story others may expect of you.

You can write. You have a story, an idea, and you want to flesh it out, and get feedback. I would recommend that if you do have a story to tell, be it fiction or non-fiction, perhaps you should tell it to yourself first.

You will have your influences, but do not write in their voice, no matter how tempting it is. Find your own writing voice. You have to be the next big thing, not the new 'whoever it is.'

If you constantly seek out advice from others, authors or not, you will be stuck in an ever-depressing circle of 'if only I change this, it will be better.' Only you can know that for sure. Be the authority on writing that you want to be - not in an arrogant way, but as a writer confident of knowing their subject and doing it better than anyone else (hopefully) !

2. Fight for privacy in a very open world.

Writing is a private thing, but in today's fast moving and demanding social environment, you are expected to share, share and keep on sharing. No bad thing in itself, but in a bid to be heard we've sometimes given in to
Amazon free downloads and the campaigns they entail. Do they work? Only if they give you long lasting exposure and a real climb up the rankings. Otherwise you fall off the radar very quickly.

When you write, get your writing space as you want it. I have heard from family that 'a writer can write whenever and wherever'. Spoken like true non-writers. For me, I need peace and quiet. That means house empty or those in it keeping the noise down, and the cats....they must be fed.

Otherwise you will find these time-eaters destroying your project. It's not that you shouldn't care about these things, but those in your life must support you too.

Shut the door, unplug the phone, cut the internet connection. And start writing.

3. Goals - Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly

What are your writing goals? To 'write a book' is a fine, and yes, realistic goal. It won't be done without hard work, and without a plan.

People, life and other things will mess up the plan. Don't let your writing be the be all and end all (unlike the very funny scene in Blackadder with Dr Samuel Johnson!!!) -

you've got to be alive and living in those around you. So what should your goals be, when there are so many Time-Eaters around?

Every day, write something / plan something / note something / read something.

Because you may not be able to write every day, not even a hundred words. Am I joking? No - life gets in the way. The people in your life are a priority, but no matter what you do, life will play out the way it is going to play out. In the end, the book lives and dies with you. If you don't get it done, you will be in a continual spiral of hate and self loathing - at least I feel like that sometimes!

It's no-one's fault but your own, if that book doesn't happen.

So....Every day, write something / plan something / note something / read something.

You will reach your goal.

For some, it's writing 250 words of absolute clarity that somehow, they know will make it into the book. These words won't be deleted. 

For me, it's anything between 200 and 5000 words a day. And I will probably end up deleting a lot of it and re-writing it (more about drafts in a future post, but if you want some motivation about getting to that first draft and editorial critique, read my thoughts on it here).

Some make a plan at the start of the week to state that 'by the end of this week, I will have written 10,000 words / completed four chapters' and so on..

But - It is not just about a word count. Whatever you write, it must be quality. I don't speak as an expert, but I am probably my own worst critic, so any abuse I received in real life or on-line no longer hurts. Get something quality written, and how it looks to you - that is the most important thing.

Then, under your critical glare, if you believe you have written something of quality, find an agent, get a publisher, or go independent. But if you have done all you can, let the book go with your good wishes.

Then work on the next one.

In the end, your writing goals can be summarised into one goal - get the book done. Nothing else is relevant.

4. Handle your time better.

You cannot save time, but you can manage it better. Ask yourself truly what your on-line presence actually adds to your daily life. If it impacts your writing, take a break from it. Your true fans and on-line friends, as well as real life friends, will understand, wait, be supportive, and will be there for you when you return.

Don't simply dump or ignore them though. They've invested in the friendships and you do need to maintain them. If they remove themselves from your life, as people do sometimes, let them go. Their loss.

Do prioritise. Your writing is a personal project, that at some point, you can involve everyone in. Not to beta read, not to critique as you are learning your craft - there are professional editors who you can and should pay for proper, brutal critique. Others, who may handle you with kid gloves (but made from real kids) are perhaps not the best ones to assist you.

Maybe you are a morning person. If so, get up even half an hour earlier, and start typing. You'll be amazed that you can get 500 words down in half an hour or less!

Whatever works for you, handle your time better. Phones are a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean you have to answer every time it answers. Turn it on silent. I do!

5. Show interest in others, and LISTEN.

Whilst you are writing that first mega blockbuster, as much as it is exciting to talk about the project, it can't always be about you. Show interest in others, ask them about their day, don't just ping them on facebook - write an email, phone them, chat on-line or in real life. But take interest in others. One of the most valuable things I have learned is to listen to others. Not whilst playing with your phone or iPad. Put it down, and listen.

Why? Will it get you more sales? Who knows, who cares? But the people you interact with will recall you as someone who is interested in them.

This may seem to go against the whole 'get your book done and written' principles above, but once in a while, you have to take a break, look up, and see the world around you. Maybe your fantasy world is a great escape, and that's fine. But if you deal with the real world, and do it properly, you can spend more time in your writing world.

More tips next week on WWW - The Weekend Writing Workshop.

See also: Editorial critique and how it helped me

Happy reading and writing!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Dark Winter: Crescent Moon - Special Preview

Hi friends! Well here is an excerpt from the book's opening prologue. Enjoy...I think...!

From the Diary of Romilly Winter, April 14th.

Aged 18, I’m probably too old to keep a diary now, still I write words nonetheless, hoping for something coherent, something real, something I can believe in to come out of it. Maybe I have written a lot this winter because it’s the kind of season that ceases to end. When will the snow stop? Even when I want to see blue skies, my eyes are tricked into seeing pitch-black night.

Dana Cullen told Beth one time that ‘Nothing ever just happens, there is always a design.’ But I have seen enough in my short life to know that things don’t just happen. Maybe my faith is to be tested at every turn, so I hope to God that there is some design amongst the chaos.

Another part of me believes that things don’t just happen for a reason, and all we’re doing is fighting to make sense of the chaos that surrounds us. The kind of chaos that would become us, if it went unchallenged. It is a battle I find myself losing, and yet those around me think I am so strong for keeping it together.

I hope to God with my every breath, but what is hope anyway? Does it fool us into forgetting what is real in our lives? What if it is all wrong, that we are all lost souls wandering around with no meaning to our existence? What can hope do for us then?

It could be that I think things over too much. It could be that the Mirror of Souls has affected me for far too long. It could be that I have convinced myself that everything will work out just fine. There’s a strong chance I’m just playing tricks on myself and those around me. 

There is a very strong chance things will not work out fine.
There’s a very strong chance that the Demon inside me will win.

I hope to God I am wrong.


I plant this tree with some aversion,
As nature controls her own reversion,
When reversion is completed,
All those lives will be deleted.
Whoever cuts or harms the tree,
Will likewise suffer some adversity.

- A local Midlands curse.


1 Corinthians 15:51

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.

Luke 22:3

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.

Revelation 12:4

His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.



49 years ago.

His eyes were black. Not his pupils. His eyes. Only five years old, and Donald Curie was making people scream. The boys had blindfolded the girl; an innocent game of kiss-chase. In this regard, Donald was a boy typical for his age. He didn’t really want to kiss the girl the group had caught for him.

He had a surprise for her in his small hand. Something that was doing all it could to emerge.

Hold her still, Joey, he’d say. Joey would guffaw and say yes, that he would hold her still. Not that blonde-curled, eyes-as-large-as milk-bottle tops Janey Reid was fighting it. She liked kiss-chase. She giggled as she could make out the shape of the boy in front of her. Her friends were pushing her forward gently towards Donald, unaware of the event unfolding in his head.

He took one smile at Joey, opened his hand, then shoved the hairy spider into Janey’s mouth and used his two fingers under her chin to push her jaw shut.

He laughed, but no-one else did. Not Joey. Not Janey’s girlfriends. Least of all, Janey, who vomited into the tall grass.

A teacher, Mr Daniels, grabbed Donald by the shoulders and ordered a supervisor to tend to Janey, who by now was an unattractive mix of vomit, tears and red-rimmed eyes. Not to mention the hairs of the spider’s legs which clung to her lips and chin. He uttered no words to the boy, because Mr Daniels wanted rid of him. Not to another school, not even to the police. He wanted rid of the boy with the black eyes and empty expression. Talking with the boy’s mother, Mrs Eloisa Curie, was certain to be a waste of time.

Mr Daniels knew, because this would not be the first time he had locked horns with the parents of wayward children.

Wayward would be easy to deal with. A fairground ride. This child, he was convinced, was as close to total and utter evil in a human being as you could possibly get. He had said as much to Eloisa Curie on the previous occurrence of Donald’s special brand of playground fun.

“His eyes are black, Mrs Curie. I don’t see any kindness, anything good. No sense of compassion for his classmates. It’s not school policy to pry-”

“Then pray, Mr Daniels. Do not pry,” interrupted Eloisa curtly.

“I must.” Mr Daniels, Bernard to Donald, who thought the portly teacher’s first name was hilarious, spoke hurriedly to avoid another interruption. Eloisa Curie was 5’1” tall, wore her hair in a bun, dressed in imitation Chanel suits from China, and spoke her words like a diamond cutting glass. She would not have her boy criticised, especially by some breast-groping middle-aged fatso who would go on strike at the drop of a hat if his union said so. Bloody socialists always wanting a free lunch, thought Eloisa scornfully.

“Any history of abuse at home, Mrs Curie? Where is Mr Curie? We cannot afford a repeat of this kind of incident.” The words came out, rapid-fire style, as if the speed would lessen the intensity of the statement. It didn’t.

Eloisa smoothed the crease in her skirt and crossed her legs. Her chest knitted closer together, and Bernard’s eyes glimmered with delight as her breasts pushed upwards by the slightest of notches.

Have a good gawp, you bald-headed bastard, thought Eloisa.

“No abuse. Mr Curie died whilst on a training exercise with the RAF. He was due to be discharged this year.” She took a breath. “There will not be a repeat of this kind of incident.”

Understanding the limitation of his powers, Mr Daniels let her statement conclude matters. That would be his official report to the Head, along with a letter of apology to Janey Reid’s parents, where he would allude to a typical schoolboy prank and hope you will accept the School’s apology and assurances that this event will not be repeated.

The reality of the meeting’s conclusion was the sight of Eloisa Curie standing up stiffly and leaving the Year Head’s room once the word incident had left her thin lips, which had a tint of rouge. Her stilettos hammered the school floor with purposeful intent. She wanted to show these upstarts at the school she was better than them. Donald was complex, yes. But a good boy. She had no doubt about that. He was just misunderstood. He would grow out of…whatever this was.

As she drove back home, she knew the routine would play out as it had done so before. Donald would do his wide-eyed, lost puppy routine, and she would wilt, and give in once again.

“I’m sorry, Mum. And I’ll say sorry to Janey tomorrow too.”

Eloisa pitied her son. She knew he was fighting some kind of demon. The kind of demons the school teachers couldn’t deal with. The unseen kinds of demon are the worst. They don’t look back at you in the mirror, but you know they’re there. Eloisa had spoken with the new priest at the church, a young man by the name of Fr Brannigan.

While they were talking, Donald’s face convulsed, and he uttered curses that would make the girls at the Meowsa Gentlemen’s Club, opposite the church; blush redder than a London bus, with their gasps falling into stunned silence when they realised it was a five-year-old boy shouting Tonight you’ll be raped by Satan, and bitch you better enjoy it.

“Your son’s behaviour isn’t normal, Eloisa. As your friend, I sometimes might have to say things that are uncomfortable for you to hear.” Cathy Tudor meant well, but it was the last thing Eloisa wanted to hear whilst the two women waited for the school day to end, so that they could collect their children.

Cathy was scared of Donald Curie. Eloisa spun around to challenge her, but as she came to a full stop, she chose her words carefully. “He is only five years of age, and what boy hasn’t played pranks? I’m not defending his actions, just…just see it for what it is, Cath. Don’t blow things out of proportion. He’s always been polite to you, hasn’t he?”

Cathy was scared of Donald Curie. “Polite he may be. Street angel, house devil, is what he is, though.”

Donald was only five years old, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous. He’d had a brother. Malcolm when he did good, Malky when he did really good. But the older boy was still Number-One-Son to Eloisa, even though parents aren’t supposed to have favourites. She’d spoiled Donald rotten too. But that was never enough. He wanted to be Number One.

Donald was lying in bed when it happened. There was a flutter behind the curtain, but the house was old and drafty, so he paid scant attention to it. It was a summer’s evening, but the temperature in the room was dropping fast.

The shapes that appeared above his bed could have been explained away as a child’s overactive imagination. He tried to ignore them, and turned his head to the side on the pillow. There were two of those, but they were thinning. Number-One-Son always had three.

Eyes looked back at him, so he pulled the duvet up above his head and breathed hard. In the blackness where the bottom of his legs would be, two luminous lights concentrated on him. Blue lights.

He could feel something on his bare feet. Strands of hair, perhaps. But they didn’t have the scent or feel of his mother when she would hug him. They felt clotted, uneven. Dead.

A hand, now. At least, it felt like one. It pressed a bony finger behind his knee, and Donald let out a scream. But Eloisa wouldn’t hear. His mother was a heavy sleeper. She was good at sleeping, since the settlement from the divorce came through. A little white lie that would be lost on the likes of Mr Daniels, and she hadn’t cared to enlighten him about that.

Any regular sleep pattern evaporated when she had fallen pregnant. Malcolm had been born seven pounds and one ounce, and right on time. Donald had been born four pounds and eight ounces, and nine weeks ahead of schedule.

The ultrasound showed Malcolm’s pattern, no problem there. Donald’s image continued to escape and confound the doctors, who in the end said Maybe it’s a phantom pregnancy, Mrs Curie.

Eloisa told them that a woman knows when she’s pregnant, and to not belittle my intelligence.

When he was born, Donald was a sickly child. The doctors were not sure if he would survive the first twenty-four hours. At one point, his temperature dropped so much that his lips turned blue. The doctors were about to give Eloisa Curie the bad news, when Donald rat-tat-tapped the incubator with his stubby little fingers, giving the doctors the same, cold, dead-eyed stare for which he would become infamous.

“Better, er….let her know he’s um, alright,” said the main doctor, who had seen a lot of babies over his time, but none that gave him the chills in the way that this boy did.


Want to read more? Now on Amazon for silly-oh-price or you can try and win the giveaway on GoodReads!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Goodreads Giveaway: Dark Winter, Crescent Moon (Dark Winter #2)

Enter...or else...

I have one copy to give away. Check to see if your country is listed. And make sure you have read Book One, The Wicca Circle. You need it before reading this one! Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle - Buy on Amazon here>
If you enter, leave a (hopefully!!!) positive review for The Wicca Circle, you will be entered into a draw to win a crescent moon pendant.

If you leave a review for Dark Winter Crescent Moon, you will be entered into a draw for a $25 Amazon gift voucher.

If you don't enter, I am not responsible for what happens. You'll be referred to Dana, above. Just sayin.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dark Winter by John    Hennessy

Dark Winter

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends November 21, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, 1 September 2014

Book Review #24: Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass by Rick Smith

In the minefield of books, it is difficult, if not near-impossible to select a book you will be happy with. Sure, you can go by the reviews, but ultimately, you go with your gut (unless you have bags of time and money) and with Amazon's Look Inside feature, or the sample you can send to your Kindle, you can get a good feel for a book without actually buying it.

If you are an author, at whatever stage you find yourself, at best, this book will certainly help you sell more books and at the very worst,  you will have learned something about the dark arts. I'm not talking about witchcraft - I am talking about Marketing.

This book is the perfect guide to assist authors who want to publish on Createspace. It's amazing what assumptions people make - the typographer for one of my books said 'Oh all you have to do is send me your Createspace template'...I had no idea what she was on about. That was more than two years ago now (scary) and I can say I do know more about Createspace and what it does.

There are no assumptions that I could find in this book, just clear, concise facts and it is a truly excellent step by step guide to help with publishing on Amazon, which is the easy part. The dark art of Marketing, however, is covered extremely well here and even though I majored in the discipline, that was years ago before the age of social media. The basics of marketing and sales have not changed since the dawn of time. There is a market and there are sellers that operate within that market.

All one has to do, is provide supply for the demand. What demand though? How can you create demand for your book? My other half has a way of putting it, whenever I go into overdrive about one of my favourite books:-

"Whichever book you have, you will still want a new one, a new story, a new adventure. People always want something new."

That's true, and I feel she is right on this. I may love Lord of the Rings, but people will always want the new Lord of the Rings, the new Hunger Games, the new Harry Potter. Dare I say....the new Dark Winter book?

This book helps someone like me....who admits to not being very good at promoting or marketing himself. That's not because I lack confidence - it's more about that I don't want to be a nag, and I believe that if people want to read my books, then they will. I just needed a push to say 'hey, read my book' once in a while, whilst hopefully being supportive to others.

Rick Smith has organised the thoughts we often have, turning them into meaningful actions, and you'll find yourself doing it.

I am trialling a few things from this book:-
  • Doing the Createspace edition first, not the Kindle version
  • Joining relevant groups without being a PITB (pain in the butt)
  • Taking myself seriously as a writer and involving people I know in the process

The last point is very relevant for me. My first non-fiction book came out in 2011, and it was a full two years before I had a meaningful non-fiction book to push out. Two years! Now I do believe in quality over quantity, but we can write more faster than we do. It's shameful when you think about the time we waste.

I have the Kindle version of this book, but I am inclined to purchase the paperback as there is information that may get by you on the e-book. The print edition would force to write your little darlings. Yes, the words nag at you, but unless you park yourself in that chair and disconnect the internet - the words will not get done. Once they are done, you will need a constant reminder to push the book out.

Things I loved:-

"People frequently fail at new things they attempt simply because they do not have a system to follow."
True. Give yourself a system, and follow it, follow it. Follow. IT. (That's enough of the CAPS fury!)

"99c/99p is the new free." 
Yep. 'Free books' don't have a value attached and I am not certain they create run-on sales. My first non-fiction book sold just fine without a free book promotion. That doesn't mean I haven't done one; I have, just in my view they do not work. Rick is right - 99c does at least give you a bump up in the early weeks when you are trying to get traction.

"Even in the lower reaches of the top 10k, you'll be moving anything up to 500 units a month."
Doesn't that motivate you to get there too?

Finally, I have to say thanks to my good friend and fellow author Elizabeth for recommending this book. You see, friends, recommendations are so important. We need them. So get reading, get reviewing, and get productive making the best book you can. Give the readers a professional, awesome book that they will happily recommend too!