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Welcome. Whether you read, write, or both, you'll find something here. Free reads, book reviews, writing contest details and links, and much about the writing process. By all means comment; I'm always interested in the views of readers and writers. Follow the blog and connect with me on social networks; the more, the merrier.
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Sunday, 21 December 2014

It’s Out! Book Three of A Seared Sky Hits the Shelves.

For all you fans of fantasy, the third book in my epic fantasy series, A Seared Sky, is now out, completing the trilogy. At present, Convergence is available in digital form only, but the print version will be out soon in the New Year.

So, what is book three, Convergence, about? I assume that you’ll have read, or intend to read, books one and two, as this is a sequential story set over the three books.

Wise woman, Ivdulon, finally discovers how the world is in danger, but knows only young Tumalind, a gifted female mindtalker, has the means to save it.
Dagla Kaz, fanatical High Priest, fights to prevent changes that will undo all his power and prestige, engaging with evil forces to get his way.
Aklon-Dji, fighting to save the future of his islanders, faces war, treachery and violent death to bring justice to his land and security to the woman he loves.
Tumalind, gifted and brave, faces unknown terrors and the peril of utter destruction for herself, as she sends her beloved Okkyntalah into great danger in hope of saving the world from evil.

As a gift for the Christmas period, my publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing, is offering the new book as part of a package of all three in digital form with a substantial discount. Bought separately, they’re £9.27 (already good value for 660,000 words of adventure, excitement and character-driven action), but you can have them for £7.99 as a set, saving you 14%. Just click this link.
And remember, 10% of all proceeds go to charity, funding research into ME/CFS.

To buy book one, Joinings, in digital form, click here. In paperback, click here.
For book two, Partings, clickhere.
And for all three in digital form, either separately or as a bundle, click here.

How to Market a Book, by Joanna Penn, Reviewed.

The third in a package of books on writing in the digital age, this one deals with the nuts and bolts of getting your books to market. That may sound daunting or technical or simply distasteful to many writers. It did to me. We are, after all, artists. We have souls and care about the words we share, the stories we tell, the characters we invent. Surely selling is a dirty world full of shysters, slimy creeps and people bent on separating the gullible from their money for personal gain, isn’t it? Well, it turns out that isn’t actually what it’s about.

The author, a writer of both nonfiction and fiction, explains in great detail, and to great effect, the reality behind the art of selling your books. You are a writer. Writing is communication and entertainment, as well as many other positive things. You have talent, you have imagination, you have knowledge. Are you writing to keep these things to yourself? I hope not. I certainly aren’t. We write to pass on our gifts, knowledge, imagination. But hiding your work in a cupboard or drawer is hardly going to get those words out there, is it?

In reality, marketing a book is passing information to people, readers, who are actively seeking your words. You are providing a service to the very people you wish to reach. They want to know about your books. They want to read your stories. They want to be able to find and buy your output. Are you going to prevent them by being all precious and mistakenly coy about the act of actually selling those works?

If you want to remain in obscurity, keep your efforts hidden from public gaze, hide away from the possibility of having readers actually read your books, then don’t read this book. It will educate and convert you. It will place you on the path to reaching readers. It may even make you see selling your wares as an honourable and desirable part of your craft that you could enjoy!

The book has multiple sections, all of them giving practical advice and some attempting to put right the ill-informed attitude that I and others may possess regarding the marketing of our books. I was one of those who considered himself an artist and unsuited to the world of sales. Mind you, I have a brief and troubled background in that world that undoubtedly tainted my opinion. But that was a different world, a commercially predatory place where the customer was seen as a target for the unscrupulous to cheat and legally rob. Marketing and selling your book does not have to be like that at all. In this field, potential buyers are actively seeking your books. And this book has left me feeling positive, enthusiastic and ‘clean’ about marketing and promoting my own work.


So, if you’re a writer just starting out, uncertainly stepping into the world of words, or a veteran with many titles under your belt, all unsold and under-promoted, this is definitely the book for you. Read it. Act on the advice. And sell your books to people who want to read them. Thoroughly recommended.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #15

Love Bliss
Love Bliss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. As writers, we all know this, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

For these few weeks, I’m looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect. You won’t always agree with me, of course; you’re writers. But, hopefully, my suggestions will get the thought processes going.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that evoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Contact You
Emotional: Write To You

‘We will contact you in writing to confirm the termination of your employment.’

‘I’ll write to you everyday, so you’ll know where I am and what I’m doing whilst we’re apart.’

Intellectual: Famine
Emotional: Hunger

The likelihood of devastating famine in much of Africa during the coming decades is increased by the effects of Global climate change.

‘I feel such hunger for you, for your body, for your touch, for your utter surrender to my desire.’

Intellectual: Ill
Emotional: Sick

‘The man is ill; that much is obvious. I expect we will have to terminate his employment, since we cannot afford to have idle hands on the payroll.’


‘I’m sick with longing for you. My every waking hour is haunted by my want of you.’

Please Note: regular visitors, I'm currently developing a new blog/website with Wordpress, due to its larger spread and versatility. You'll find it here:  In the not too distant future, I shall probably migrate all my posts to the new site. For now, I'm trying to keep the content similar, until I get used to the new site and have settled into my new home (moving just after Xmas).

Monday, 15 December 2014

Writing and Running for ME/CFS #12

This should have been posted yesterday, but I was somewhat otherwise occupied, so my apologies. I have two brothers in hospital at present, a house move that is proving far more problematic than any other I’ve experienced (and I’ve moved home 14 times!), a new blog I’m trying to develop (that’s at www.stuartaken.net ) and all those other everyday things we, as writers, husbands, fathers et al deal with. So, excuses made; here’s the progress report:

Writing: I’m half way through the curation of the diary excerpts, so I’ll be able to start on the actual writing of the book in the very near future. I’m intending to publish this as both digital and print so that it’s available to as many people as possible.

Running: Missed the first 15 minute run on Monday– it was freezing out there, with ice on the pavements, and the cold always affects my health badly. If anything, this factor has increased since my recovery from ME/CFS, but that might simply be because another 10 years have zoomed past since I started the condition! Anyway, I did manage the 10 minute run on Thursday and I did the 20 minute run, on Saturday, indoors, since the weather was again very cold and icy.
This week has already started well, with a 15 minute run today – still relatively cold out there, but frost and ice free. I’ve another 15 minute run due on Thursday and a 20 minute run on Saturday. Tonight, I’ll be dancing (ballroom and Latin) with my wife at our usual dance class, so that’ll be more steps on the road back to full fitness.


As soon as I have confirmation that I’ve been accepted for the targeted run, I’ll post the link for sponsorship. But that may be some months ahead, as the run takes place in August (at least it’ll be warm!)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Let’s Get Digital, by David Gaughran, Reviewed.

A book I bought as part of a package for indie authors. I’m glad I did. So far, and this is the second in the pack of three, it has been a thoroughly worthwhile investment in terms of time and money. In fact, I would happily have paid significantly more for these books.

This volume is very much about the nuts and bolts of indie publishing. There is a good deal of history and background, which it is tempting to skip. Don’t: you’ll miss out on some very useful information. There are sections on the craft of putting a book out there as an indie author, and sections on why you should do this.

It’s a real eye-opener; giving background to the now fast-decaying idea that self-publishing is naff, or for those who can’t get a ‘real’ publisher, or is a route to poor quality. Self-publishing has been accused of all these things and, in the recent past, there has been some justification for this. However, bear in mind that Thackeray, Dickens and Johnson all self-published. And, these days, many well-known mainstream authors are turning to self-publishing simply because it gives them complete control over their books and invariably leads to much higher returns than those made with traditional publishers. I exclude small independent publishers from this description: many of them do a very good job indeed.

Ever since the bean-counters overtook the running of the now corporate structures that play, badly, at publishing, the author has been viewed as a necessary evil by most of them. Instead of seeing the creators of their books as an asset, these ‘bottom line’ merchants consider most authors a distraction from the making of money.

Self-publishing is a route to real success for a growing number of writers. But if you’re wondering whether it’s for you, read this book first. It will smooth out a lot of the kinks you might otherwise encounter and it will guide you through the process in easy steps.


There is a wealth of information within these pages (screens) and the appendix alone is worth the price of the book; the resources section is invaluable. Easy to read, easy to absorb. I fully recommend it to any writer considering self-publishing, and even for those who have already started along the path.