Thursday, 20 December 2012

To Go Free Or Not To Go Free? That Is The....

I've read quite a lot lately about whether or not one should offer one's books for free. Many people feel that to do this cheapens not only one's own work but also the market as a whole.  There are many arguments for and against, and I daresay you might have seen one or two of them yourself.  I was reading one on the blog of Geoff West yesterday....

...which you might like to look at, too, as both the blog and its comments feature both schools of thought.

What do I think?

About three years ago, when I had written much but had not yet heard of Amazon KDP or even Kindles, I was browsing my local library.  I came across a book entitled 'Mutiny On The Bounty' by John Boyne, which I imagined, rightly, to be a fictional account based on the true story.  I love this genre anyway, and have always been fascinated by the tale of this famous mutiny, so I got the book out.

It was marvellous, unputdownable.  I then went on to read the rest of John Boyne's books, and extol his genius far and wide. I will add that he was good enough to accept my friend request on Facebook, and seems to be a thoroughly nice chap.  

Now, John Boyne is an internationally acclaimed author, anyway, and you could argue that he didn't need my approval. Indeed, he could probably live without mine alone.  However, the approval of thousands like me, as a group of people who love his work as much as I do, has got him where he is today.  I probably wouldn't have bought 'Mutiny' if I'd seen it in a shop. But I had the chance to try for free the books of this author about whom I knew nowt.  I wonder how many of his other devotees discovered him in the the same way?

Here's another story.  A couple of years ago, my sister read a book that had been a free giveaway in some magazine; it was called 'The Big Picture' by Douglas Kennedy.  She had never heard of Douglas Kennedy, and nor had I.  She read it, then phoned me and said "You MUST read this book!"  Since then, she and I have both bought and read all ten of his books, and extolled his virtues ... ditto the above, re John Boyne (minus the Facebook bit!)

I discovered Emily Barr in a second hand shop.  Well, not her in person, but her book 'Plan B', for about a quid.  Need I say more?

Speaking of Emily Barr, I was delighted to see that my book 'The Other Side' now features in the 'Customers also bought' lists of several of her books on Amazon!  How cool is that?  Now, this wouldn't have happened if I had never put my first book, 'You Wish', out there for a three day free promotion.  I'd still be selling about six books a month, like I was when I first started!  The free download opportunity gave people the opportunity to try out my novels without spending a penny.  

Yes, I do value my work.  I value it so much that I want as many people to read it as possible, which is why giving out free copies is something I am happy to do.  It's only the same as having them in a library.  Of course I want to make money from writing.  I have international bestseller fantasies, the same as anyone!  But the main reason I write is because I love it, and I want other people to love what I do.  The more people who read my books, the more are likely to do so.

Oh, here's 'The Other Side', by the way!

What do you think about all this?

Writing six weeks later....  I just wanted to say one thing, though....  since Christmas the amount of books that are on free promotion at any one time seems to have quadrupled - which makes me wonder if anyone actually need pay for a book ever again.  There's an air of desperation about it ~ writers seem to be putting a book out on sale for a month, then, when it doesn't become an instant bestseller, shoving it on for free, in the hope that it will boost post-promotion sales.  Thus, the free promotion no longer has the effect it used to, because everyone's doing it.  Ah, well.  All markets flood, eventually, I suppose.  My thoughts on the rest of it, as a principle, still stand, though, and I will still put my books on for free from time to time.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

It gets right on my nerves, it does.....

....just me talking about things that annoy me again!!

'Are you ready for Christmas?'  
     Have you had your first one yet this year?  I got mine yesterday.  I don't expect the person who asked me this will have a very good one, as I was forced to cut her head off.

Why is it always so HOT everywhere?  
     Since about the end of September this year, every time I go into a doctor's or hospital waiting room, or on a train, I feel about fit to pass out because the heating is always turned up full blast. Don't the people who recklessly whack up the thermostats in these places realise that most who visit them will be wearing coats?  
     Shops are as bad; until I get to the chilled section in Morrissons I have to walk around with my coat hanging over my trolley, thus revealing that I couldn't be bothered to change out of my bleach stained leezurewear t-shirt before I came out (my fault - I should learn). In early October I went into Marks & Spencer to buy a winter coat, and the mere activity involved in trying a few on actually made attractive beads of sweat appear on my face.  I mentioned it to one of the shop assistants; she said, 'oh yes, it's awful, isn't it.  I just try to move around really slowly.' 
     Taxis are usually dry and airless, too - and some people's houses - what happened to wearing a jumper?  I haven't worn or bought one for years.  Can't be healthy, being so artificially hot all the time, can it?

Talking of shops, I'd like to say this:
     I want to buy the bottle of shampoo I've just brought up to the counter.  I don't want to top up my mobile, buy stamps (postal, saving or otherwise), invest in an aftershave gift set for 'just' £12.99, add a family sized bar of chocolate to my shopping list, get that DVD for half price because I've spent over 50 quid (and, presumably, because it isn't selling at the normal price), change my house insurance or anything else you're offering me.  
     Yes, I know it's not the fault of the sales people who have to offer all these things.  I feel sorry for them having to say it two hundred times a day.  I usually hold up my hand to stop them as soon as they launch into the speech;  recently, one young chap in Savers thanked me most profusely, saying that his mouth was permanently dry and it made him feel like a right idiot. Sales promotion 'experts', listen to your staff and customers!

     How come women who are more than three stone overweight are no longer just 'fat', 'big', or the ghastly 'curvy', but, apparently, now 'sassy'too?

     And don't start me off on 'rocking' - "I'm currently rocking this really cool suit"; "Next time I'm rocking down to the supermarket..", etc etc.  Only acceptable if you're in Van Halen, otherwise it just makes you sound like a prat.  Still, at least the people who are currently saying it will have jumped onto the next bandwagon in a month or so.  That moment when..  Just sayin'...

     Clicking 'like' on someone's Facebook status update about people with an incurable disease/bad treatment of some monkey or other doesn't 'raise awareness' of it if you don't know what that disease etc is, and have forgotten all about it two minutes later, anyway.  
     It just makes you feel as if you've done something good.
     Guess what - you haven't!
     Even if your awareness is momentarily raised, this still doesn't actually do anything about it. Copy-and-pasting the actual Facebook status update doesn't do a great deal, either, unless you're actively involved in fund raising or spreading the word about new solutions for whatever it is. I think it was a journalist in the Guardian who invented the word for people who do this - Clicktivist.  Nice one!

Taxi drivers:
     Generally speaking, if people sit in the back of the car and answer your questions in monosyllables, it means they don't feel like talking. 

     Anyone else weary of the overuse (and often misuse) of these words? Genre.  Generic.  Exponential. Demographic.  Iconic.  Literally.  Ironic.

     I really, really hate the way that someone being sick on a television drama/soap/film is portrayed so graphically these days.  We don't actually need to see it coming out of their mouths, or, indeed, the remnants as they are wiped away.  Gross me out!

     Similarly, can't people ever kiss on telly/films without the sloppy, squelchy sounds???

     This isn't annoying, just something that amuses me. On films in which someone is going to confront a dangerous person, or in which a group of teenagers are going away for the weekend to some cottage in the hills where, inevitably, there will be a resident psycho waiting to pick them off one by one, have you noticed how, within the first ten minutes of the film, the fact that there is no mobile/cell reception is always established via one of them trying to make a phone call to their mum? Producers of such pictures must have cursed the advent of the mobile phone.  
     'Hey, Mr Huston, I don't like to mention this, me being just a lowly stage-hand an' all, but while he was hiding in that attic with the knife wielding maniac mooching around below, couldn't he have just called 911 on his cell?'

     Perhaps I just watch too many crap films!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A solution to the endless 'dodgy five star review' problem!

This isn't another moan about not-very-good books having five stars and the reviews all being from their mates, incidentally.

I've had my say before on this one I won't repeat myself.  I'd just like to say this - reviewers, please look at what the stars actually mean before you post a review.  If you hover over the stars on Amazon and on Goodreads, they show you what they indicate.

Anyway, whatever happened to the 3 star review?  That quiet little cheeky one twiddling its thumbs, minding its own business in an average kind of way, in between 'it was fab' and 'it was crap'?  Don't see many of these little fellas, do you?

Let's hear it for the 3 star review!  Let's hear it for, "it was very good in parts, but I skip-read some of it, it wasn't quite my thing, but someone who loves this particular genre might lap it up.  If it was given a professional edit I might have given it four stars.  It was okay, fine, something pleasant enough to read on the beach that afternoon."

There, that's okay, isn't it?  It doesn't mean the author will hunt you down and set fire to your house, or unfollow you on Twitter, does it?

Now, the solution!

I think this would be for Amazon to introduce more stars.  I finished a book last night.  I read every word, read it quickly, found it fascinating, but can't quite give it five stars, because that would put it up there with my favourite books, wouldn't it?  Wish I could give it four and a half. So, how about a seven star scale?  Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't it be good if you could give six stars on the seven star scale - equivalent to the four and a half star review?  Because that is what I think some five star reviews often are.  I would give four and a half stars to the book I finished last night.  So I'll give it five.  Because it was better than a book to which I would have given four.

Amazon's new scale should be:

7 - Amazing, loved it, didn't want it to end, right up there with my favourites
6 - Seriously good stuff, will recommend, but not quite up there with my favourites
5 - Good, I enjoyed it. 
4 - Good, a few dodgy bits, but on the whole it was pretty fair.
3 - Skip read it a bit.  Not too bad if you like that sort of thing
2 - Boring, not very well written, hardly managed to struggle through to the end
1 - Badly written shite, gave up without finishing.

There!  Wouldn't that be better?

Thursday, 22 November 2012

My Top Four Independently Published Books This Year.....

What are yours?  

Now that we are eleven months into the year, I've been thinking about this.  So, in no particular order, here are my favourite four 'indie' books of this year.  

Drum roll.....


Time travel and rock 'n' roll - what's not to like?

1923: A MEMOIR by Harry Leslie Smith 

Struggling through the early years of this century in northern England - fascinating stuff

DUNGDA DE ISLAN' by Charles Dougherty

Charles and his wife's adventures around the Caribbean islands - wonderful!

THRIFT by Phil Church

Hilarious tale about a teacher losing the will to teach...

My reviews of all these are on the Amazon links :)

I am also very much looking forward to reading:

NORTHMAN by J D Hughes



not to mention.......

COMING HOME by Chris Gallagher 



a special mention, for anyone who loves more girly stuff...

THE DATING GAME by Susan Buchanan

or if you prefer the psychologically thrilling, you could try 

HAUNTED by Maria Savva

One day when I have a lot of time on my hands I really, really want to get stuck into the fantasy world of 


I hope you've found something to interest you there - and I'd love to hear what your favourite books of the year have been, and also the ones you recommend and are looking forward to reading.

There are so many more I am interested in reading or would like to mention, but I tried to just pick my favourites, ones I think may become favourites, or that might appeal to many others, too.

Thanks for reading this, too!

Monday, 12 November 2012

A HUGE thank you.....

..... to everyone who's helped me out this weekend - list below!

I've just finished a 3 day free promotion for my book, Dream On - I am happy to announce that you will no longer see my tweets about it all over Twitter! :)

If you have downloaded the book, you might be interested in this interview that the delightful Clive Eaton did with me on his blog - amongst other things, I've talked a bit about 'Dream On' and where the idea came from, and the research for it.

Now!  Most importantly I had LOADS of help with the free promotion, without which I would not have been able to make a success of it.  I would like to thank EVERYONE who downloaded it, shared the link on Facebook, stuck it on other sites for me, and, most of all tweeted it and retweeted it on Twitter!  I've tried to keep up with reciprocating all the RTs as I was going along, and will continue to do so.

I'd like to give a special mention to some people who really 'went the extra mile', tweeting the book for me over and over and over again.  I am most touched by your help, and hope to be able to give similar help back to you in the future.  I apologise to anyone I've left out - I was frantically scribbling names down on lists all weekend!

Special thanks to (some will be with Twitter name, I'm afraid!): 

Susan Buchanan, Bev Spicer, Zoe Saadia, Charles Gonzo, Angela Fiendishly Fab, Ian Little, Dave Perlmutter, Electa Graham, Chantal Merlin, T W Luedke, K J Waters, Stephen Venables, Brian Menard, Geoffrey D West, K J Bennett, Gary R Walker, Maria Savva, Jane Sleuth 62, Carol Hedges, I C Camilleri, Proofreader Julia, Sonya Kemp, Vanessa Wester, Sherrie Lowe, Jennie Orbell, Emma Covill, Penelope Hellyer, Judee B, Andy Lucas, Lisa Corelli, Tony Huby, Kate Hanney, J D Hughes, E Lindley, Melodie Ramone, Neil Low, Patric Guntert, Richie Earl, Crystal Marcos, V T Vaughn, Laurie Breton, C S Sanders, Robbie Thomas, Bev Jones, David Leadbeater, Janice Ross, Kayla Stonor, Chris Gallagher, Peter Davey, Paul Shawcross, Lynn Gerrard, AreoMc, Roy Murry, Barbara Rumbarbar (!), Great One 04, Olivia M (Bunny lady), RM Duchene, Flick Merauld, Positive Jules, Bill Carson, Danny Kemp, Kerry Parkinson, Diane Major, L J Bush, Tim Prive, P J La Rue, Phillip Mayes, Tim Davis, Teresa Hamilton, Jonathan Grimm, Marie Fostino, Jeff Whelan, Wendy Potocki, Lisa Richardson, George Angus, Dan Chamberlain, Chris Petersen, Charity Parkerson, Josie Noonan, Emily Guido, I M Telling, Blue Harmonie, Dianna Bellerose, Ross Kitson, Mackenzie Brown, Clive Johnson,Roger Grubbs, Anita Philmar - and sorry if I've missed anyone out!

Thank you!  

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

DREAM ON IS FREE!!! From 9th - 11th November!

As above!  I'm crossing fingers that Amazon doesn't muck it up - I felt absolutely gutted for a fellow writer friend who had that happen  - she'd publicised it all over the place, but Amazon failed to put it on for free - please cross fingers for me too :)

DREAM ON will be free from approximately 9.30 am on Friday in the UK (and various times everywhere else!) - when I've done free promotions in the past that's about when they start. I hope that anyone who is interested in reading this will download it, and spread the word on Twitter, etc - many thanks in advance!  Oh, and it has 17 reviews on Amazon UK - and they're all five stars... 

Here's the synopsis:

Dave Bentley was born to be a rock star.  He's a reincarnated Viking warrior, too...

When Dave forms his new band, Thor, there are  many sleepless nights for Janice, his on-off girlfriend and mother of his son. Not only must she deal with the thrills and spills of life as a hardworking single mum, but also the imminent return of singer-songwriter Ariel Swan, Dave's one true love.

Poor Janice. Dave is still the love of her life.

Ariel Swan returns to small town life - and Dave's heart.
She and her friend Melodie (whose ambition is to be "a celebrity") enter a TV talent competition, so Dave and the rest of Thor decide to make the most of the opportunity for possible fame and fortune, too. This adventure brings about big changes in the lives of all of them – none of which Dave could have anticipated.

One member of Thor even ends up on The Jeremy Kyle Show...

Here's the Amazon link, in case you would like to read the reviews - I've got some that have made me very proud indeed, including ones from book bloggers, other authors and a top Amazon reviewer :)

If you download it, I hope you enjoy it! 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Love Truths.....

I have no qualifications for writing this, other than years of experience and observation of others, and an analytical mind!  Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but.... love, men mostly treat women much worse than women do men.  That’s mostly, not always. 

You can’t change people.  If someone is going to moderate bad behaviour to make your relationship work, it has to be their own choice. 

People either fancy someone or they don’t.  Chemistry is a weird thing; it’s either there or it’s not.  You can’t make someone fancy you if you leave them cold.  If you get super-dolled up (men or women!) they might think you look nice, but they still won’t have the serious hots for you.  However, you can work at bringing yourself to the attention of someone who hasn’t noticed you – yet … 

You have to work 10 times harder than normal to make a success of a relationship with any sort of addict, be the addiction drink, drugs, gambling, or whatever.  Is it worth it?  I used to think 'well, Sharon hung on in there with Ozzy, and came out the other side'.  Then I saw sense....

In any relationship, there is always one who kisses and one who turns the cheek.  Even if the power seems to change from time to time, one always loves slightly more than the other.

However bad it feels right now, you will get over it.  Every day you struggle through is a day closer to getting there. 

You know those magazine articles that tell you that if someone says ‘x’ they really mean ‘z’?  Like, if someone says, “I need a bit of time on my own, y'know, I just need a bit of space” it really means “I’m seeing someone else”?  You know how you go, oh yes, ha ha ha, that's so true!! – then, when someone repeats this cliché to you, you find yourself believing (hoping) that they really do just want some space?  Sorry, but you were right the first time – they’re seeing someone else.

You can’t stop yourself being in love with someone if you are.  You can stop yourself seeing them, start up distracting dalliances with other people, tell yourself its wrong and therefore must not happen, but to deny the love is pointless.  Once that roller coaster ride has begun, you can't get off until it's over....

If someone tells you they’re not looking for a relationship right now, it usually means they’re not looking for a relationship with you.

Women will leave a relationship if they are unhappy within it, although this might mean being alone for a while.  Men stick it out until they have another woman to go to.  So yes – sadly, there probably is someone else, or at least someone he hopes will soon become his 'somebody else'.

If someone is violent/threatening towards you, you should leave them immediately, even if it means sleeping on someone’s sofa for three months.  Staying with them will at best do lasting damage to your self-esteem, and at worst get you seriously injured/killed. 

If you've been lonely for a long time and you want to find a new partner, go and do a load of other stuff.  Anything - just don't make finding a new partner your main objective in life.  Such desperation is off-putting.

Recovery from heartbreak usually goes through five stages: shock, grief, anger, acceptance and resolution.  You can zig-zag between these phases, though.  You’ll also have good days and bad days; make the most of the good ones and do as much as you can to push your life on to its next phase.

Not sure where you stand?  Don’t spend hours analyzing someone’s motives/true feelings.  If they really want to be with you, you’ll know about it.

Loads of people have office crushes.  Don’t worry about it; it makes the working day more fun.  Much of the time, you probably wouldn’t fancy that person, in particular, if you met them outside work.  Some people meet their long term partners at work, but thousands more have ludicrous crushes.

Take heart - there really, really is  
someone for everyone.

If someone hasn’t responded to your voicemail message/text/email/message on Facebook, it’s because they don’t want to (in love, I mean – a friend might just be busy!).

If someone is hounding you and you’re not interested, tell them straight.  Don’t keep them on a string just to boost your ego/provide company when you’re lonely.  It’s cruel, and if they’re not getting the message, who knows; you could end up with your very own stalker.  Won’t be quite so much fun, then.

When life’s at its most bleak, remember this – you can fall in love again.  He/she doesn’t have to be the only person you will ever love, if you get out there and live and open your mind and heart to others.  You can be just as happy with someone else, and you will, if you allow yourself to be so.

Just for Men

If a woman tells you you’re ‘too nice’, it means that a) you’re a pushover b) she doesn’t fancy you, and c) you’re getting on her nerves.

A woman will be comfortable with you seeing her with no make-up and dressed in her leisurewear approximately two years before she will be comfortable with you seeing her in a shower cap.

Want to make her go off you?  Do these things:    Fart in front of her.   Tell her how attractive you think her friend is.    Let her down.   Don’t bother about her birthday.   Fail to keep up with personal hygiene.

‘New Man’ and ‘getting in touch with your feminine side’ is okay, but don’t let it slide into wimpy.  Wimpy is SO not sexy.  We were made to be different, after all (nb, the man in the photo below is SO not wimpy).

Most women have the same view of men who put it about all over the place, as men do of women who do similar.  It doesn’t make you look like a desirable Lothario, it just makes you look like an indiscriminate slapper.

Just because she's talking to you - yes, and smiling, too! - it doesn't mean she fancies you.  Learn to tell the difference between being friendly and flirting....

If I was a man I’d be extremely wary of a woman who kept stuffed toys/her old teddy/dolls on her bed.  Might mean she’s never grown up and is still looking for Daddy – or that she still believes in fairy godmothers and Prince Charming (translate: will have completely unrealistic expectations of relationships).

Women’s Stuff

Are you in love/having an affair with another woman’s husband/partner?  If he’s really going to leave her for you, he’ll do it sooner rather than later.   There is a world of difference between a man who’s unhappy in his relationship and falls in love with someone else, and a philandering jerk who simply likes a bit on the side outside his marriage.  Of course he tells you he loves you; you’re supplying the thrills and spills of romance he craves  outside his marriage, as well as the exciting sex.  Doesn’t mean he’s going to turn his life upside down so he can be with you all the time, though.

If you think you look fat in that dress you probably do.  But he isn’t going to tell you; don’t bother to ask.

If men just try to get you in the sack instead of asking you out, maybe you should think about the way your behaviour is coming across.

Just because you’ve just had your heart badly broken by one man, discovered the next one was a secret cross dresser, then experienced a no-man’s land lasting a whole year, it does not, alas, necessarily follow that the next man you meet will be an absolute peach.  Alas, life is not chick lit; we do not find someone good when, simply by having been through a whole bunch of crap, we feel we ‘deserve’ to.  Sometimes the hits just keep on coming.  A bummer, but true.  Mr Right often appears around the time we’ve given up.

Don’t believe all that crap about certain men being commitment phobes.  Just because they don’t want to commit to you doesn’t mean they don’t want to commit to anyone.

Being very attractive to men doesn't necessarily mean being happy in love. Sometimes, too much choice can be a bad thing.

Man leaves woman after long relationship.  She exerts usual break up behaviour while still in the throes of heartbreak - the lost dress size, the new hair cut, the great clothes that she can suddenly get into.  She then goes somewhere he will be, especially if he will be there with the new woman, to show him what he's missing.  BIG MISTAKE.  He knows what he's missing, he was with her for 10 years and he's seen her at her best, and at her worst, and all the stages in between, and he decided to move on.  Looking great won't get back a man who doesn't want you anymore.  It WILL, however, increase your confidence, make you go 'Yippee!' when you look in the mirror, however heartbroken you are, and get you some new admirers, so do it anyway!

Don’t moan when he falls asleep straight after sex; he’s physiologically programmed to do so, it doesn’t mean he’s an uncaring mollusc.  See it as a positive; if in a new relationship, this is a chance to go and take your make-up off (because no man wants to see his new lust object cleanse, tone and moisturise before bed, does he?).  If in an older relationship, it’s your chance to read a book/eat sweets in bed.

And finally….for both sexes….

Guaranteed to put off a new lover….

  • Fall asleep during the act.  Worse if heavily, on top of partner, and snoring.  (I speak from experience.  I won't tell you from which side).
  • Call partner by wrong name (it’s a cliché, I know, but more common than you might think).  (Ditto the above).
  • Keep a receptacle for bladder relief under the bed.  It doesn’t matter if the loo is four floors up – just don’t do it.  You may be thinking 'ugh!  Who on earth would do that?'  But an ex of mine went out with a woman who did. I believe the relationship only lasted a matter of days!