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Sunday 27 February 2011

Weekly Round-up

Right. After the mother of all computer malfunctions, I finally have access to the internet again. I still have no idea what the problem was, but the connection suddenly died earlier this evening. Since I'm now way behind on both writing and university assignments, I'm going to post this, go for a bath, and gibber gently until the world becomes a nicer place.

Busy week on travel - hit Manchester, Watford and Bristol. I really like Bristol, it reminds me a lot of Edinburgh with the hills and old, old buildings. If I ever move south of London it would be my pick. The drawback to travelling to this extent? I woke up on Friday morning and it took me nearly five minutes to remember which city I was in.

Was nicely on track until my computer decided demonic possession was the new way forward this evening. Since it is now working again, but appears to have either eaten the assignment I was working on (or transported it to some alternate dimension where I am filthy rich, skinny,  and confused as to why I suddenly have a partially completed power point presentation on stress appearing on my machine.), I am no longer screaming hysterically at a black screen and LSH has stopped hiding in her room.

Apart from Amanda Hocking's Switched, which I seriously recommend, I've also finished The Vampire Kitty- cat Chronicles by Ray Rhamsey (great political satire with some real laugh out loud moments) and the latest J D Robb, Treachery In Death. 
I'm addicted to the J D Robb series, although the only reason I got this was because it was pay day  and I wanted to spoil myself. There is more than one reason Indie writers are burning up the kindle charts, and a big one is price. Great stories at less than £5? Sold. Anything higher on my budget makes me twitchy. So although the book was great, I'm unlikely to buy new releases from main stream publishers because of the price.
I finished The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker - great read & I recommend this one. I'm starting to pick my reading list based strongly on Indie Book Blogger's recommendations, which is saving me a lot of hunting for good new fantasy.
Currently reading Protector, by Laurel Dewey.

Writing and stuff
Worked a bit on rewrites for the next Crescent book. There are still a couple of paragraphs in the chapter I'm on that clunk a bit for me, so they might have to go. Still struggling with Fur, the vampire short. I think half the problem is the M.C. makes my hands itch. Wanting to bitch slap your protagonist is never a good sign..

Scott was an absolute sweetheart and re-posted his reviews to the new edition of WolfSong, which is brilliant.
 He has now joined twitter. You can find him under the user name @indiebookblogge.
 I did a second round of interview questions of my interview on Indie Book Blogger - we'll be giving away a copy of the book when he posts the interview, so quite excited and hoping this drums up a bit more interest. (Also known as  Praying to Gods of Kindle).

Jeffrey M Poole, author of The Bakkian Chronicles, is offering help on technical issues and formatting over at - great looking site as well. Considering I'm about as technical as a small drunken goldfish, this is huge. Thanks, Mr. Poole!

Mood: Computers hate me.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

New Edition of WolfSong

The re-formatted edition of WolfSong is now up on both and I really hope I caught all the formatting issues; I also really hope this fixes the issue I was told about on ipad readers.

I've just got through my first Amanda Hocking. All I can say is - no wonder she has sold the quantity of books she does. This lady can write!

Monday 21 February 2011

Weekly Round-up

I'm keeping this one brief, it's been a very long day what with studying and having a minor panic attack over the finance assignment.

Leicester for 3 days. Gotta say I like the city. The guys I deal with there are probably the reason - people like that are why I love my job. Plus a really awesome fresh food market, and a weekly farmers market - if you're in Leicester on a Thursday, hit the town centre for some really good cooked food from the stalls.

Gah. At least an hour most nights. I'm enough of a geek that I'm loving the textbook on work psychology (I've ended up reading chapters I didn't need to for the assignment, and thinking of buying the book in hard copy). So far, so good. Tonight though, I realised the finance assessment had been posted... To explain : Although reasonably intelligent, when I look at figures my IQ automatically drops about 80 points. If this was a  relationship, it would be the kind that ends with one partner sewing sardines into the other's curtains before leaving the house for the last time. I opened the assignment and read it, and pretty much hyper-ventilated on the spot. 
LSH (who is actually pretty good at figures) came through while I was rocking gently and hugging myself. She took look at the brief, turned and patted me gently on the arm, and said, "You're screwed."
Which, frankly, would be the most fun I've ever had with financial studies. 

Finished CS Marks Elfhunter. Get it. This is going to be a classic people are still reading in 15, 20 years.
Finished  The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu.    Some real laugh out loud moments here; I'll be looking for more by this author.
Finished The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock - this was free at Amazon (gotta love the free kindle stuff!). I didn't realise it was Christian fantasy when I downloaded it (although got that pretty fast in the book). It's actually not a bad story at all, although it did get a bit preachy at times. Still, no worse than a lot of-non-Christian fantasy gets, despite some really bitchy reviews on Amazon (some from Christian readers because it wasn't written to their ideal standards. WTF? Give the bloody woman a break.)

Currently reading The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker, for which I blame Scott at Indie Book Blog. (I read his review.) This is a lot of fun - it's kept me intrigued all the way so far & the price is good. Love the main character as well and as the plot is far from obvious I have no idea where it's going to - can't wait to find out though.

Still over the moon about my first review - although I'm now panicking that when the new version uploads it won't have any. I don't want to leave the old one up with the formatting issues in it - that's just shoddy and won't win me any fans. Not sure what to do here - I'll have to sleep on it.

Re-started the short story that died a couple of weeks ago - let's see if this one works better. It's hopefully a totally different spin on the vampire myth. 

Saturday 19 February 2011

New version of WolfSong uploaded

I've uploaded the reformatted version to Kindle - now need to wait until it goes live.

I've kept the price at 0.99c for The UK price is linked to the US version so the price in the UK should stay at 0.71p. I have a better chance of getting an audience if the price stays low, so here's hoping it starts selling a bit more.

I'm wondering about changing the cover to see if that will boost sales a bit as well. I'm attached to that cover, but if it isn't working I'll have to re-vamp it.

Friday 18 February 2011

WolfSong - first review on

Scott from Indie Book Blog was kind enough to review WolfSong and the review is posted on here.

It's my first ever review, and I was nervous.      

I read the review.

I read the review again.

Then I went to the kitchen and did a happy dance around LSH while making high pitched squealing noises.

Limped back to my room, (concrete floor + soft slippers = sore feet) and read the review again. Text messaged my folks (South Africa), my brother (Australia), friend (London).

Typed a couple of thank you's to Scott on the forum he started, as a direct response to the review, and on his blog (which I sincerely hope were coherent, because my brain was still doing back flips & giggling gently to itself) and decided to post this before crashing.

He gave me four stars (FOUR!! STARS!! OMGOMGOMG!!) and incredible feedback, both by e-mail and in the review.

Thanks to the feedback I'll be uploading a re-formatted version to kindle tomorrow - right now I'm so tired I'm having trouble focusing on the keyboard - and hopefully that issue is fixed. The other points he made (all valid) I'm going to do my best to fix in the next book.

He also gave a really good summary of the book; something I struggle to do, so I owe a huge thanks to him for that as well.

Mood: Happy, happy bunny!

Sunday 13 February 2011

Weekly Roundup

The day by day thing is getting a little old, & since I'm usually working more than a little boring, so I'm going to try it another way..

Writing news:
Uploaded Dim as part of Sample Sunday to Scribd here. Not sure if I'm getting the hang of the tweet thing yet or not, but it can't hurt.
Have gone through WolfSong with a fine tooth comb (again!) and hopefully fixed all the issues. Which I am still sulking over - the biggest gripe a lot of readers have about Indies is poor editing and formatting. It doesn't matter that tree books have the same problem (some of which are worse that the average indie book by far) - if we want to take on the big boys, we need to better than average. So I may have shot myself in the foot by missing the word runs during the last edit before I hit the publish button.

 Also found a free programme called Calibre through Guido Henkel's blog, so I'm going to run the entire book through that & upload it back to Amazon next week. Hopefully this will also fix the ipad formatting issue - crossing fingers & toes on that one. All the creator asks for is a donation if you can afford it - for a programme that seems to eliminate 99% of formatting issues, this is a bargain, and a cause worth supporting.

Tossing an idea around for a new short story - I tend to write at least the first couple of pages purely in my head to see if it will go somewhere. This one is being stubborn - I know the end, and most of the middle, but it's having trouble starting off.

I seem to be losing weight (yay!) with the healthy meals LSH is feeding me. I'm going to have withdrawal symptoms next week - I'm away 3 days for work - but can't complain. If this carries on, I will no longer look like a  pregnant hobbit, which can only be a good thing. (On a slightly less pleasant note, the two of us discovered an very unwanted side effect of the allowed chocolate on this diet. Let's just say if someone lit a match in the room the roof would leave the building. Fast.)

University is keeping me busy most nights & at the weekends. The subject of finance still makes me feel like I've just lost 50 IQ points, but thankfully it's one of the first modules. As long as I pass it, I'm happy. Unfortunately, it means sacrificing a lot of promotion time on the net - c'est la vie.

Like the rest of the world, (except China) I've been watching the situation in Egypt this week. Part of me is extremely glad another dictator has left the room. The rest of me is mourning the people that had to die for this to happen. Whether 1 person, a 100, or a 100 000 - the payment in blood is always too damn high.
My personal view on politicians is that anyone who wants that amount of power shouldn't be allowed anywhere near it.

I was lucky enough to pick up Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble for free this week - the price has now gone up. I loved this - I'm waiting for pay day so I can get the follow-up.  Usually books written in the present tense irritate me - this was an absolute joy.
33 AD by David McAfee - a really cool take on the vampire myth; if you like an action packed read (call it swords & sandals) -  get this. Unfortunately, David has just made my books for pay day list that little bit longer.
I've already posted my review on The Judas Syndrome by Michael Poeltl, which I've been reading for a while. I'm going to be watching this author closely; I think there is serious blockbuster potential waiting to come out.

I'm currently busy with The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu. This is aimed at younger readers, but the sense of humour is wicked - I'm enjoying this.
Added to my pay day list is The Vampire Kitty Cat Chronicles. The sample should have come with a keyboard alert. The price on Amazon is pretty cheap; but since I'm doing my usual so-broke-can't-pay-attention thing, it has to wait.

Reviews by Request AKA Sheer, unmitigated terror

A couple of weeks ago, just after I bounced onto the Kindle Boards for the first time, an author posted requesting reviews. I happily accepted, based on the fact that a) I thought it would be good experience b) I'd get a free book and c) most importantly, it wasn't my genre. I read post apocalyptic fiction, I have never written it.

A couple of hours later, the book landed in my in-box, and I started to panic. I've posted about books before - but these are books I have bought and read voluntarily.

Who the hell am I, someone who at that stage had sold maybe ten books (slightly higher now, but not by much) to review an established author? Mike Poeltl has books selling - and already reviewed - all over the net, in physical book form and e-books. He has 2 books out and a third  due for release in 2012.

I have 1. An e-book. With NO reviews.

I've seen some truly vicious reviews on Amazon and other places. Some of them incoherent, some of them by people who never even read the bloody book to start with - those tend to irritate the daylights out of me. But others have been well written, spell checked - and rip the author a new one right off the bat.

I'm not prepared to do that. If I don't like a book, I'm not going to post a review. At the end of the day it's only my personal opinion. Why be a bitch about someone else's hard work? Somebody is going to open that page up, read what you've written - and either feel ok, pretty damn good, or like they just got punched in the gut. If I'm going to make someone cry over something I've written, I'd really prefer it to be fiction.

So one of my biggest fears when I started The Judas Syndrome was simply - what if I hate the book? I'd promised a review, after all - and if you don't keep your promise what are you worth, at the end of the day?

I read the book. Then I went back and re-read it. If I was going to post a review, I wanted it to be honest and thoughtful, not something I rushed through. This guy had spent who knows how long writing the book; it deserved some decent attention.
I liked it. It wasn't perfect for me as a reader - but it made me think about the situation the characters were in.

I e-mailed Mike back, who has waited patiently for a while, and told him what I wanted to say - good and bad.   I freely admit I was nervous about pushing the send button. I've heard of less than pleasant responses by authors to anything remotely negative, and I had a few issues with parts of the book.

I left the decision of whether or not he wanted it posted up to him; this is his baby I'm about to simultaneously pat on the head and swot on the butt.

The response was pretty much immediate, and very gracious; he thanked me for my time, my feedback,  and told me to go ahead and post it, which I did.

I then went and had a (very) large beer and watched Bedlam - fun stuff if you like a mix of pretty with spooky.
Overall this was a positive experience. But I don't think I'll be reviewing like this again in a hurry; my nerves just won't take it.

And finally - the review itself. I gave this 4 stars on Amazon uk; for me what pushed it over the three star mark was the main character, Joel and the brilliant way the author fleshed him out.

This is a pretty intense book that I think will polarise readers - they are either going to love it or hate it.
It deals openly with a number of subjects that more conservative readers will be uncomfortable with, including fairly prolific drug use and some fairly harsh language. Although the main character and his friends are teenagers, this is not a children's book by any means.

For me the book had some excellent points and a couple of jarring notes. I'll start with the negatives first, since I think firstly they are pretty minor & easily fixed in future books, and secondly - what I didn't like is not going to apply to everyone.

1) Too much back-story. The first couple of chapters could have been condensed without losing the overall feel for the characters. Got to say though - absolutely LOVED the first page - Joel speaks.

2) I had trouble distinguishing between character voices, especially where there was a lot of dialogue. To me this was because they all seemed to have the same style of speaking for long periods of time. Not always, but enough that I had to flip back a couple of times to check who was speaking.

3) A lot of dialogue came across more as personal philosophy or thought instead of conversation between people - interesting, but not something I come across often and it did tend to jar me out of the story a bit.

What I loved:

1 - The concept was brilliant. I've read a number of post-apocalypse type books; this one struck me as quite different to the run-of-the-mill stuff.

2 - Joel. For me this guy was the perfect anti-hero - difficult to like, remarkably easy to sympathise with. No attempt at covering his flaws or making him a saint. What really struck me was watching this guy devolve slowly into utter paranoia and self-hate, and eventually self-destruct in every sense of the word, while constantly trying to do what he thinks is right. Joel in the end is the personification of the apocalypse, and I thought this was beautifully done.

3 - Stinky. How can you not love a talking skunk/avatar?

4 - The ending. I really, really liked it - very powerful way to end this story, and for me it made perfect sense in light of both the book and Joel's character.

I'd recommend it, although it takes time to get through. This is not a cute or fluffy book and there are some pretty hard hitting scenes in it that will stay with the reader for a while. 

Sunday 6 February 2011

Books this week

I'm not going to post the books I'm busy with for university (there's a limit), but even though my reading is going to slow down drastically, I've found some real gems this week.

Books I've read this week:

Joe Hill - 21st Century Ghosts - Wow. 5 Stars. I'd already read Horns and Heart-Shaped Box, and I love short stories, so I was looking forward to this. I'd put Joe Hill up there with Neill Gaiman and Stephen King; stuff that just keeps me coming back for more. 

Mike McIntyre - The Scavengers Daughter. I think this might be the first book from this author, & I'll be keeping an eye out for more. It's patchy in places but strangely addictive. I think this writer will be one to watch in the future.

James Roy Daley - 13 Drops of Blood. Another book of shorts. These ranged from what I always think of as "Creature Features" to the hysterically funny (crude, but funny). I showed LSH the last story & she bought the book based on that, so I'm not the only one. I won't give anything away but will state it's the most novel and disgusting way of dealing with vampires that I've ever read. Wouldn't read this particular story on a full stomach though.

Jon F. Merz - The Fixer- A fun read about a ninja trained vampire. The main character is an absolute riot.

Books I'm reading:

Still on Elfhunter by C.S. Marks, mainly because I don't want it to end. It's  my comfort read for Bad Days.
Just started AD33 by David McAfee - I loved the idea of  vampires vs. Jesus of Nazareth, this looks really promising. 

Weekly Round-up

Work in London today, so get home fairly early around 7). Log on to university and found 3 assignments now up. Promptly have valium moment. (To put this in perspective, 3 different papers on various dates from end of April until May. When you work full time, try to sell an indie book, are working on the next one and travel a lot, this makes for an absolutely frantic first semester.) Start  working through finance module. Go  to bath around 11 p.m. feeling like my brain is going to melt through my ears.
Work  in London again.  Log on to university. Gibber at LSH regarding coursework when she hauls me away from the p.c for dinner. LSH makes soothing noises, feeds me and lets me go back to bedroom (also currently known as Pit of Doom). Look up and realise it's 11:30. Lie in bath fantasising about winning lottery and chocolate. I'm eating a lot of fruit & drinking water by the litre to try to get energy levels up, with the result that my bladder wakes me up singing Ave Maria twice.
Cranky as hell. Zombie shuffle to tube station with LSH and promise to take tonight off from studying - Wednesdays are now officially my night off. Drink a lot of coffee at work. Get home, eat, bath, crash.
Same  as Tuesday - rinse & repeat. 
Travelling again. While waiting for train at Paddington station am treated to delightful experience of guy sitting next to me and adjusting a certain part of his anatomy for nearly 15 minutes. Firmly restrain myself from telling him that if it takes that long to find, he has a problem. Guy then rests a large sandwich on the results of said adjustment. WTF? Was he trying to coil it into a frigging place-mat? Guy eats sandwich, reach into tracksuit pants every so often for further tweaking. Feeling mildly traumatised and wishing desperately for mind-bleach, I get to the train. Guess who is sitting at the same table on the train? Train is packed and seats are booked - I can't even move. Dial up Rammstein at full volume on iphone and try to pretend today isn't happening to me.
 Bit of a sad moment when I get to the office I'm visiting - they are relocating and one of the girls has decided she can't go with. Sad because she is one of the bright stars; I'll miss working with her. The team left in place though absolutely rock, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens after the move.
Get onto a slightly earlier train than normal to head back to London. Some sort of issue means the train stops outside every station, at every station, and on occasion at random places on the line. I reach London way later than expected, too late to head back to office - by time I reach it, it would be after closing time. Decide to head home and catch up from there. Get home and electrics are out - meaning no computer, until nearly 9 p.m. 
Monday is going to hurt.
Busy with coursework. Take an hour to tweak to shorts for the collection that I'm quite happy with, jump  onto Kindle boards and post  a review on Amazon for The Scavengers Daughter.  Get almost immediate  feedback from the author, which is seriously cool. 
LSH feeds me (Lamb & Apricot casserole type thingy from the Tony Ferguson diet - Yum!) and we watch True Blood while we eat.
Back to studying until around 3:30 a.m.
Coursework. Updating blog; will be back to coursework immediately afterwards.
LSH has promised to drag me away from the pc for at least two hours  tonight, which will be a good thing. 

Mood: Busy, stressed, want my mom.

Amazon ate my author page

I tried to log onto Author Central to since my pic since a) it's old and b) I look like a gap toothed yeti in it. Nope. Author Central didn't want to know me. Anything electronic or computerised has issues with me; this isn't news to anyone who knows me. I have an entire IT division at work that flinches every time I walk over there.
So I've gone through the whole sad registration/biography/photo thing again.
Hopefully this one sticks.

Saturday 5 February 2011

The Horror!

I was browsing through WolfSong on my kindle and found a typo that I've never seen before. Two words somehow managing to run together. I know it happens - hell, I've seen it in top 10 traditionally published  books - but I am not a happy camper. I'm going to have to go through the whole book again and see if there is anything else that I missed.

 I've also had feedback from a lovely guy on the kindle boards that the formatting is all over the show on the ipad version. The problem is, I have no access to an ipad so can't actually tell what the problem is. I have no idea how to fix it.

I have an hour set aside later for writing; the rest of the day will be studying since the university course has started and the workload is massive for someone who works full-time. My inner writer is whimpering gently.My inner rent-payer is telling her to suck it up and move on.

Mood: Head. Desk. Repeat.