My Books

Buy one of my books... Available above at Amazon. Also available at SmashWords, Barnes & Noble and iTunes

Monday, February 28, 2011

Marketing Week...

Well I've been at this new blog a little over a week now. (Why does it feel like months already?) And it's been a very interesting week. I have achieved a lot. Firstly I have my two fantasy novels published on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and SmashWords. That process alone was enough to drive me semi-crazy. Then I had to tidy up my blog and try and monetize it in the best way possible. Then I reworked all my websites to ensure they were all content relevant and cross-referencing each other. Then, of course, I had to actually carry on writing and get new blog posts out every day. Oh, and did I also mention that I created a promo video for my first novel, and finished the first manuscript of my book on project management? Hmmm.

So this week it's time to move into second gear. This week is devoted to out and out writing and shameless marketing. A boy's got to do what a boy's got to do to generate readers. Although I do have to say that I am very pleased with my first week of sales. Not bad for a little old English boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

I read an interesting book on book marketing over the weekend and it's given me lots of ideas. I have to admit I'm not looking forward to the press release writing part but still, it has to be done. I'll be interested to see if anyone picks that up. Then there's the registering for different communities and spending time on those to get your name known. What I want to know is when I am supposed to actually get time to sit down and write? Obviously at some un-earthly time of the day.

Speaking of which, it's now coming up to 7am and it's time to get back to work. Until tomorrow...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Busy Sundays...

Usually my Sundays are quiet and lazy. Not today. After a relatively late start to the day, I brought up my action list of all the things I had written yesterday that I needed to attend to. Basically it all revolved around synchronizing all my websites. A lot has happened in the past week and so I decided it was important to do my  website editing before it gets out of hand.

So, armed with my trusty html and css guides I set to and after about 5 hours I think I'm just about done for now. The three main sites I have;, and this blog are now cross-linked and up to date with all my book information. I also cross-checked them all in all the different browsers too, just to make sure they display correctly on each one. I had to make a major rewrite of part of what I was doing as my firefox browser is set to block ads. And lo and behold, I have been using ads! I ended up making my own display blocks to showcase my books. If you are someone who doesn't block ads then you can probably see the display ad to the left of this post. I am listening to Barry McGuire as I write this. Different music for a change!

Another big win was that I just finished my first draft manuscript for my book on project management. It's my first attempt at a reference book, and it has been an exciting process. I'll be writing more about that in the next few days. I'm also going to start posting a short video blog once a week. I tried that out this morning. I just need to make myself more presentable if I'm going to be showing my ugly mug on camera! Then finally, I am trying to get some book covers designed for another series of books that I hope to start publishing and talking about very soon. Like I said, life is not slow today!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Music to write by...

I guess most people like to listen to music while they work. I'm not any different. When I'm writing I have to 'get into my groove' and I do that by only playing music from a select playlist. All my 'writing music' has no lyrics, I don't want to be distracted. I just want the sound of the music to play in my head so that it takes me 'to my happy place.' It only takes a few minutes for the music to work its charms and then I can happily write away for as long as necessary.

So today I thought I'd go look at that list of music that happily plays to me in my headphones and list it out. It will be interesting to see if it changes much over the next year or so.

My writing playlist consists of:

  • Born by Bond
  • Classified by Bond
  • Shine by Bond
  • A Baroque Collection
  • Original Four Seasons by Vanessa Mae
  • Classical Experiences III and IV
  • The Most Relaxing Classical Music
  • Essential Baroque
  • Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon
  • Jazz Veterans
  • Obrigado Brazil by Yo-Yo Ma
  • Vivaldi's Cello by Yo-Yo Ma
There you have it... An interesting and eclectic collection of music to write by. Until tomorrow...

Friday, February 25, 2011

FREE Xannu excerpt...

Yesterday I promised to publish an excerpt from my book Xannu - The Prophecy. So have at it:

At first she didn’t think anything of the rustling in the trees, the excited squawk of the birds, or the silence that followed. She looked up too late and froze, face to face with a huge cat-like animal. Its mouth was hanging open, revealing two huge canine teeth protruding downwards, drool slowly dripping from its mouth. She did not dare move, and the large orange and black striped creature stood and stared at her, its great pink tongue flicking back and forth across its hungry mouth. It came to a complete stop not four paces from a mortified Maria and squatted down onto its haunches. Maria swallowed loudly, and a small drip of berry juice escaped from the corner of her mouth. She didn’t dare lick her lips and the drip slowly made its way down her face, finally coming to a stop on her chin. She swallowed again and stared at the great beast, easily as big as her, and probably weighing two or three times her own weight. She had never seen a B’Wot before, but had heard all about them. They were said to live in the great forests and mountains, solitary creatures that could kill a fully-grown man as easily as a boy snapping a twig. B’Wots had often been blamed for mysterious deaths in the small foothills of the forests and mountains, and no one had lived to tell the tale of capturing or killing one.

The B’Wot gracefully got back up and sauntered over to Maria, finally resting with its face inches away from hers. She tried to stay completely motionless and the foul stench that came from the creature’s mouth washed over her. She tried not to even breathe. Its large green eyes stared into hers, not blinking or moving, but trying to make out exactly what or who she was. Finally, its tongue flicked at her face and licked the blue drip of berry juice from her chin. Then the B’Wot sat at her feet and started to purr. An enormous purr that almost vibrated the very ground on which she stood.

Maria breathed out again and looked down at the B’Wot. It still did not move, except to rub its head against her legs, purring loudly. She ventured a hand and touched the top of the creature’s head, gently stroking the soft fur that covered it. Its eyes searched her out, but still it made no move. Finally Maria started to relax and absently-mindedly stroked the creature some more. She continued to do this for a further few minutes until she felt confident that the beast was not going to attack her.

“You had me worried for a few moments there,” she said without thinking. The B’Wot raised its head and looked up at her. It opened its mouth and made a kind of guttural sound at her. Looking confused, the creature tried again.

“Maria,” it seemed to say. She couldn’t believe what she thought she heard and laughed to herself.

“Animals don’t talk,” she said out loud. “I must be going crazy too!”

“Maria,” the creature said again, much clearer this time. Maria abruptly stopped stroking the creature and looked down.

“Did you just say my name?” she asked, chuckling because she felt stupid about talking to an animal.

“Maria Pengollen.” It was very clear this time, as if the creature was finding a voice that had not been used for many years. Maria looked astounded at the creature, hardly believing what she was hearing. “I am called Amber Fleetfoot,” it continued. Maria scrunched up her face in confusion. This time she had seen. The B’Wot hadn’t actually said those things. It had spoken, in its way, but Maria had understood what was said. It was as if her mind translated for her.

“Amber Fleetfoot,” she replied, without thinking. Again the B’Wot purred loudly and rubbed up against her. “Well, Amber Fleetfoot,” she continued, “what are we to do?” It was a rhetorical question, for she didn’t really expect an answer from an animal.

“I am here to guide and protect you,” the B’Wot answered. “The creatures of the forest sent word you needed help. I have come to give you that help. I cannot stay long, but it will be time enough for what we have to do.”

Maria sat in silence, reflecting on what was happening about her. No one had ever warned her about this. Of course she had been able to talk to the Prassos, but to understand a B’Wot was another matter completely. She had so many questions, so many things to ask. She didn’t know where to start.

“We will have time along the way,” Amber Fleetfoot said, as if reading her mind. “Come, let us depart.” The B’Wot got to its feet and nudged at Maria. She reached out and took her branch and pulled herself up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Smashwords et al...

I spent several hours last night reading the blog of a certain author who has been very successful epublishing her books. I went right back to the early days and read the sad posts, the depressed posts, the hopeful posts, the 'I wanna get off this planet' posts, the 'agents don't understand me' posts, and finally the 'woo hoo I published myself and see how successful I am' posts! It was a long but very worthwhile read.

So, it got me thinking. There were several things that this author did to get better known:

  1. Firstly, and most importantly, constantly pummeled all her friends into submission until they had bought a copy of her book and written a review about it
  2. Registered with several other book sites and published copies of the book there
  3. Submitted the book for review at a couple of Indie author sites
  4. Relentlessly marketed the hell out of the book at every opportunity
Be warned, people. My campaign starts today! I already registered and uploaded my Xannu books to Smashwords and they promise to help market to the world too. I also took out a small ad on Facebook and am waiting for some other marketing materials to arrive.

That just leaves the 'pummeling all my friends' part. You are all hereby put on notice! All I am asking you to do is to fork out $0.99 to buy a copy of the aforementioned 'Xannu - The Prophecy' (which by the way is a very good read) and then write me an honest review on the site at which you purchased the book. That really isn't too difficult is it? Then, hopefully at some point in the not too distant future I can fulfill my ambition of being able to 'give up my day job' and write full-time. So, is $0.99 a big price to pay for this? I don't think so!

Later today I am going to publish an excerpt from the book, just so you can tell I can actually write a little :-)  And after that I look forward to reading your comments...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I need another 8 hours a day...

Sometimes there's just not enough time in the day. The last few days have demonstrated this to me. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not asking for longer days, it's just that I haven't got all the things I wanted to get done actually done this week. If that makes any sense at all. The thing is, it is actually a full-time job writing a book, keeping a blog up to date, getting books published on Amazon and creating marketing materials. And that's without all the normal things that have to be done during the day.

Over the Christmas period I read Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Workweek (see opposite). I have to say, it's an exceptional book. There is something to learn in every chapter. Now the book is not about only working 4 hours a week (although to a certain extent it is), it's also about changing your habits so that you position yourself to work smarter and earn more 'passive' income.

I have been trying to put his suggestions into practice in 2011 and so far I think I am working much more efficiently. Thankfully I was already doing a lot of the things he suggested. The next obvious step is to employ a factotum from somewhere (Tim suggests India or China) so that I can outsource a lot of the things I don't need to be doing myself. That's a really big step and one that seems difficult to justify when you don't have excessive income to divest. Still, it's going to have to be done at some time during the year if I am to become even more efficient.

Anyway back to the needing another 8 hours a day thing. If you are one of those people who just never seems to have enough time in the day (outside of your work 'day' job) and always seems to be overflowing into tomorrow, maybe you should consider reading Tim's book. The guy makes some really excellent points and as someone who believes I can make a difference to some people in the world, I for one need to get my working hours down to something approaching four hours a week!

PS. It looks like my second book in the Xannu series is just about to go live in the Amazon store - more on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

$0.99 - What are you waiting for?

My first novel has finally arrived in the Amazon Kindle store! Although originally written a few years ago, after re-reading it this week I declare it's still as fresh as the day it was penned! So now you have no excuses. Who can say 'no' to an outlay of $0.99 for a great page-turning read?

As I mentioned before, I am going to shamelessly promote this for a while. After all, if I don't, who else will? I am confident that if you enjoy a good tale, then you will enjoy Xannu - The Prophecy. The first book jumps right into the action and during its nearly 400 page length, allows the reader barely a pause to take breath. Just like the lives of the characters involved too! Although it is targeted at a young adult audience, the book will not disappoint adults.

I spent the day today creating a sort of video book promo which I am also linking within this post. I don't have a large budget and so wanted to do something that was fairly straightforward but piqued the interest of potential readers. But - If you're a budding video producer and want to produce something wonderful for me for free then please contact me and we can create something new!

To buy the book from the Kindle store, you can click the image above (the book is not yet linked to other formats of the book - paperback & hardback; I am told that will happen over the next day or so).  If you have a B&N Nook, you can buy the book here.

Please be kind and write me a review too, once you've read the book (an author has to survive somehow). I will appreciate it. Then, if you like the book, please tell your friends and also purchase the second book in the series, Xannu - The Healing, which is coming to the Kindle store very soon. Until tomorrow, thank you and here's the video:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Publisher Wanted...

I smiled this morning when I read a tweet that simply said: 'Draft manuscript nearly complete. Publisher wanted to make me rich.' At least the words were very similar to that. If only it was that easy. Or maybe it is for some people.

The world of traditional books is changing. Up until 2010 the world revolved around printed books, both hardback and paperback. But the Internet revolution, specifically the iPad I speculate, is changing that model. Amazon itself has now come out and said that ebooks are outselling traditional print books on its site. So what does this mean for the future of books? I'm thinking the switch over to electronic books is going to be a long process. You can't just change 500 years of print in a couple of years. There's going to be a place for print for a long time to come. But, and here's my prediction, all new bestselling authors will come from the eprint side of the business within 5 years. That's not very long at all.

It's not going to be publishers that are going to be in demand soon. It's going to be a more direct model. I'm thinking of writing a new tweet very soon: 'Draft manuscript nearly complete. Readers wanted to make me rich.' Have a great day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I started to re-read my two early novels yesterday, with a view to continuing on with writing the third in the series as soon as possible. It was an odd experience. I wrote my first novel 'Xannu - The Prophecy' back in 2002 and I guess I haven't read it in about 3 or 4 years now. Even though I know the story, it's been interesting re-reading some of the little details that had disappeared into the recesses of my mind. You think you know a story, and you mostly do. But there are always pieces that you read and say 'wow! I'd forgotten about that.' The oddest experience was reading a piece of the book and laughing out loud. Yes, it was supposed to be a comical scene, so that's okay. It's just that you don't expect to laugh out loud to something you yourself have written. It's been nice to pick up a book and enjoy reading it, especially when you know the author so well :-)

The feedback I've been getting from old and new friends alike has also been very encouraging. It's like I have re-awakened a dormant elephant who wants to be loved. Hmm.. That sounds a little weird. Still, it's what came out so I'm sticking to it! So, it's time to write a little more of my project management book and then back to sitting and reading for a few hours. I'll be back soon.

PS. Still waiting for my novels to appear on the Amazon bookstore. I don't know why they're taking so long. I can't really start my all out marketing efforts until they arrive...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

1,000 words a day

Popular belief has it that you should write a thousand words a day if you are to become a real author. That doesn't really sound a lot does it? For example, yesterday's blog post was 345 words. That's over a third of the way there. But if you really do manage to write a thousand words a day, in a year you'd write over 350,000. That's three good sized novels!

If I look back at all the books I've written, it only adds up to about 400,000 words. That's not very good over an eight year period. The crazy thing is though that when I am writing in earnest I tend to write at about 2,000 to 2,500 words a day! I really need to become more disciplined about my writing. There have been several years during which I've written nothing. Shame on me.

So, that's the theme today. A thousand words a day, every day if possible. Little by little they will add up and form themselves into new books. It's not like I have a shortage of things to work on. It's also not like I have a shortage of ideas either. It's like I said, just a matter of discipline. So, onwards and upwards. It's time to write a little more of my book on Project Management...

Friday, February 18, 2011

The epublishing process...

It's been an interesting day. Having decided to get my Xannu books published electronically, I entered a world where there are rules and regulations that vary by platform. And to think I thought it would be fairly straightforward to publish my books myself electronically! But I digress. Let's step back a few hours.

As far as I can tell there are three main epublishing platforms: Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble's Nook. Okay, that's the bases covered. Yesterday evening I uploaded my first book to Amazon and the process went fairly smoothly. However, today nearly 24 hours later I am still waiting for the book to actually hit the Kindle store. Then this morning I uploaded the second Xannu book and that too is now 'in process.' In the process of uploading the second book I discovered that the Kindle store does not handle the Microsoft .docx format very well. After wasting a couple of hours I reloaded the book in .doc format. That worked a lot better.

Once the Amazon process was complete I tried out the Barnes & Noble process. That actually was very straightforward and my books are already available in the Nook store. Score kudos for B&N!

Lastly there's the Apple store. This is where I hit my first brick wall. Unfortunately you can only publish to the Apple store via a Mac computer. Alas I only have a PC. So, I guess this version will just have to wait until a later date. Grrr!

So there you have it. Several hours of my day taken up with uploading and file conversions. Then, after all this I also downloaded an ebook publishing / converting tool. This enabled me to get a copy of my books onto my iPad with the Kindle app. It also enabled me to see just how the books looked in eformat. Maybe there is a reason why all these publishers have had a monopoly on books for five hundred years!

I will post a further update with links as soon as my Amazon books go live...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

'Xannu - The Prophecy' goes to Kindle

Well, it took me about 45 minutes to get my first book uploaded to Amazon's Kindle store. Currently the book is 'under review' for up to 24 hours while the powers to be ensure the format is correct. So, I am anxiously awaiting the book's finalization.

I am excited to be able to offer my books on Kindle. Tomorrow I'll upload the second book in the series and then I can concentrate on the Barnes and Noble reader. It looks like it's going to be a busy week!


A few days ago I read an article about Amanda Hocking and her success with self-publishing. The article, posted in USA Today mentions that in January 2011, Miss Hocking sold 450,000 ebooks. She currently has nine titles published and from the reviews they are getting, she's doing pretty well.

So, I guess the time has finally arrived when an author doesn't necessarily have to go the traditional route of the agent and publisher to get out there. That's not to say that self-publishing is the future - only for some. It is a lot of hard work as Miss Hocking rightly admits to - Reality Check - but if approached correctly can be totally worthwhile. So, it's time to give this a try and see what happens. After all it can't be any harder than writing blindly to a thousand agents!

Next job is to get my two published fantasy books republished as Amazon Kindle books. Seems like a good task for tomorrow :-)

Too Many Years...

It seems like I've been writing all my life and also no time at all - all at the same time. I am a terrible procrastinator sometimes when it comes to writing. The thought of writing excites me and when I'm actually in my groove, all is sweetness and light. But then there are those times when the writing just stays in my mind and doesn't spill onto the paper, so to speak. I hate those times.

The past couple of years have seen those times. I have started lots of projects and finished precisely none of them. Not good enough. Of course, there are a thousand excuses; mostly surrounding my 'day job.' But at the end of the day, they're just excuses.

I was sat in my 'local' last night, chatting with a close friend and of course the topic eventually got around to life choices and what we want to do when we grow up. Shoot, I'm already fifty! But it was an interesting conversation as we sat and contemplated our beers (and I've been so good recently, staying off the evil stuff!). But one thing became very clear to me. I actually do enjoy writing and getting things down for the world to see. I realized that this revelation should also affect my 'day job' choices (until my writing supports me - if ever). I am currently 'between contracts' as they say. My work life is a series of contracts, working for high tech companies, usually hired to solve a particular problem that they are willing to pay a professional for. I am currently interviewing for my next 'day job' and the break has given me a little time to reflect on what I really want to do.

I want to write! I wish I didn't have to worry about money and little things like that, but I do. Of course, that's no different than a million other budding authors out there. The only thing really holding me back is excuses. Lots of them, as I said. So, it's time to put an end to the excuses. It's time to just write and get things done.

I'm going to have to change a few things in my daily routine to make this work, though. In the past I have always written early in the morning (circa 5am), before I leave for my day job. Then, when my job gets busy or there's the odd late night, the writing goes by the board. One missing day becomes two. Two becomes three. You get the picture. Obviously writing can't be that important to me...

Except it is. I'm just easily waylaid by excuses sometimes. So, it's time for a change. I need to do two things: 1/ take a job that allows me an element of being able to schedule my own work hours 2/ be prepared to switch my writing time to a different time of day (evenings I guess). It's going to be a struggle as I never seem to be at my most creative in the evenings (maybe a glass or two of wine while I write might help?). But things are going to have to change.

So, there we go. I've put it down in writing now. I have no excuses (unless I hide this blog or delete the post). Today is Thursday 17th February, 2011 and it's time to refocus on my writing.


"The seekers of knowledge must travel far. Theirs is the most difficult of journeys. The path they take is not mapped out.

In order to grow, you cannot just sit and wait. You must take the initiative and search for the solution. In this way you will be rewarded twofold. Once by never being idle, and once by finding what you seek.

You must look everywhere there is a possibility. Sometimes what you seek will not be apparent. But the very act of seeking will separate you from the others, bring you closer to your goal. For it is important that you, above all others, find what you need. The very survival of the people depends on it.

Knowledge is a dangerous thing. But without knowledge there will be no future and without a future there is no knowledge. Knowledge is power but not all power is good. So grow in knowledge and use it wisely.

Finally when you are fully traveled, you will know your place in the tapestry. Then you can seek out those things that are necessary to return the order to all things.Only then can you consider your job complete."

The Scriptures of Al'Zaneed Chapter 5 (Pika'Al - The Prophecy)

Time passes...

If I could find another rune coin I’d know how my Xannu stories were turning out. It’s been such a long time and there must be a lot of things happening in the Southern Lands. Still, maybe there’ll be an adventure or two soon that I’ll be able to report about…