My Books

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The End of June

Well all, it's been a great month, blog-wise. The final numbers will be due in today and I want to thank all of you that have clicked a link for me this month. I hope you've found some interesting stuff to read.

Visitors for the month: 22,000
Total Visitors: 47,500

Yes, it's been a great month and traffic is building very well after only my fourth full month of this blog. Thank you all.

So, while you're here, why not download a copy of my latest book, How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel? It's only $0.99 and has received great feedback on this blog.

Mary Had A Little Lamb

Mary had a little lamb,
It's fleece as black as soot,
And everywhere that Mary went,
A sooty foot he put.

Mary had a little lamb,
She also had a bear,
I've often seen her little lamb,
But I've never seen her bear.

Mary had a little lamb,
She also had a duck...

Mary had a lot of animals.

Have a great day...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Americans Buying E-Readers than Tablets

...So says CNN in THIS article.
"Last winter, tablets had a slight market lead. According to Pew, as of that time, 7% of U.S. adults owned a tablet computer (such as the iPad or Motorola Mobility's Xoom), while only 6% owned an e-reader device. 
"But that picture soon changed drastically. By May, 12% of U.S. adults owned an e-reader, while tablet ownership expanded only to 8%. (Note: the margin of error on this survey is 2%, but that would not challenge the market lead of e-readers.)"

So I guess that now is the time to buy your Kindle if you haven't already done so. My wife has one and she loves it. It's so easy to carry around and to read any book on. What's more, the slim little device can hold thousands of books on it. Try carrying all those paperbacks around with you when you go on vacation! And finally, they only cost $114!!

Of course, all my books are available on the Kindle. To see them all click HERE. Otherwise, take a look below and buy one of my most popular ebooks. Have a great day!

Click an image below...

Xannu - The Prophecy : Only $0.99

How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel : Only $2.99

The 10 Hour Project Manager : Only $5.99

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Choosing Great Character Names

A great novel needs great character names. Well, that's my opening gambit anyway. I mean, there are plenty of books out there with plain Johns, Stephens, Susans and Janes. But you spent a lot of time thinking of a great story, so the least you can do is to work just as hard on the character names. Heck, I've even been known to change my character names halfway through a book!

So, let's look at a couple of characters from my first novel, Xannu - The Prophecy:

  • Teern Truthbringer - A soldier armed with an ancient sword that carries the mark of a winged cobra, who is tasked with protecting the Xannu, the central story figure of the series
  • Kriks - Short, armor-clad skin, specialist fighting creatures (they are only three feet tall and would no doubt give attackers cricks in their necks)
  • Amber Fleetfoot - A savage yet gentle B'Wot (think saber tooth tiger)
  • Vixxa - The cunning seductress and sorceress from the Island of Tane
  • Stanton and Tenshun - Princess Ariana's bodyguards (think 'stand to attention')
You're getting the idea. Character names are an important element of any story and you should spend time getting their names just right. Even if your novels are set in contemporary times, it's important to choose a Ben over a Tim depending on the circumstances. Names mean something to us all and if we choose the right name we will write the character better. At school there was a kid named Billy and he was a bit of a bully. I now know that any bully I put in my books will probably be called Billy. It will help me write the character better. Likewise I knew a beautiful girl named Susan (thankfully I've dated several so no secrets given away there!)... You get the idea.

One of the main characters in my latest novel, Melrose - First Blood, is named Beau Tempest. And as one character says when she hears his name: "It sounds like something out of a romance novel. Something my mother would read." It's cheesy. Deliberately so. Beau is a really nasty character and I wanted to give him a cheesy name. For a reason (but I can't give that part away yet, can I?).

So, as you write your novel, spend some time making sure your characters have the correct name. Character names (and their characterization) can turn books into great books. Oh well, I'm off to write some more Melrose. I've got an especially nasty piece of Beau storyline to write...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blog Traffic Numbers Slow - Time To Fix Them

It's been a slower week on the blog this week. I haven't figured out exactly why. Maybe I've over saturated my links on Twitter. Maybe I've already hit my target market too much. Maybe I'm not writing enough interesting content. Either way I'm going to have to step up my game this week if I'm to get back to my previous level of hits per day. Not that it's bad per se. Heck, I would have been the happiest man there was a month ago to be getting 700 hits a day. It's just that I've had a couple of days when I hit 1,000 and I want some more, thank you very much!

The thing I've noticed that makes a difference to traffic is referrals (or re-tweets) on Twitter. Get a load of those and you get a lot more hits. Also keeping your content fresh is important too. You can only recycle your previous blog posts a certain number of time. I may be reaching that limit and it's time to shake things up a bit.

So people, I need a few ideas of topics to write about. I've done a writing series already and that has proved most popular. That is what got me the most number of new readers. Now I need to get another new batch. I need another series of articles to write about. If you have any ideas, please send them to me. In the meantime, I'll keep trying to find new ways of keeping people on my blog.

On other fronts, it's the weekend and summer is approaching. Today would be a great day to try one of my Fantasy novels - Xannu - The Prophecy. It's only $0.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. The reviews for it have been wonderful, so why not head over and try it out? What have you got to lose? Furthermore, on Smashwords you can download and read 20% of the book for free. That's a whopping 25,000 words - a mini-novel in itself!

I'll be back later.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Random Thoughts of the Day

My latest book, Melrose – First Blood, is turning out to be something special. Writing it has taken me to places I didn’t know I would go. I first decided to write the book to try something new and kick-start a different YA series. First Blood is aimed at 16+ YA and is definitely for a slightly more mature audience. It’s also a paranormal story with, I believe, some wonderful twists.

The idea for this book has evolved differently from my other books and at first I wasn’t sure whether it was going to work out or not. But it is. I re-read some the other morning as I wanted to double-check a part of the plot and I surprised myself. That’s always a pleasant thing.

I’m on track to finish the manuscript by the end of July and then it will be a few months to get it cooked and ready. So it’s looking like a fall release for the book. I need to decide whether to launch it before or after my next Xannu book, number three in the series, which is also manuscript ready and awaiting edits and tidy-ups.

Spending a lot more time dedicated to writing this year is proving to be an interesting journey. Seeing what sells and what doesn’t has been a daily surprise. Ultimately it’s the reader who decides what they like and not the author! I just hope First Blood turns out to be the success I believe it will be.

It’s also the first time I’ve written a fiction novel set in contemporary surroundings and not in a fantasy world. I decided to set it in and around the area I live and so it’s been fun using real landmarks for parts of the story. It certainly makes a change from having to make everything up!

So there we go, a few random thoughts for the day from an aspiring author who is determined to succeed. Catch you later.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Picture of the Week (#5) - Summer Solstice

Today I am continuing my weekly series that shows my picture of the week. It's just something that struck a chord with me for whatever reason. This week it's a picture of the center of our universe - The Sun.

It's the summer solstice again and this wonderful little ball of stuff powers our planet and keeps it going. What would we do without it?... Have a great weekend!

(Click picture for original size)
Picture from Boston.Com

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing for Yourself or for an Audience?

Who do you write for? Is it for yourself or for an audience? It's a tough topic because one of the main reasons that we write is to please ourselves. But another part of us has a desire to please others with what we write too. Sometimes this leads to a bit of a compromise. So, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Some writers don't care at all what others think about their writing. Heck, they don't even care if they sell any books or not. But they are the few. The many consist of those who write not only for their own enjoyment but also to make others happy. They want readers to read what they have written and to touch them in some way or other. I know I fall into this camp.

I write my novels for the experience and the enjoyment I get out of them, but at the same time I hope other people will share the emotions I am trying to convey and love the story that I tell. As a writer I just have to make sure I don't compromise the story I'm telling in order to keep the masses happy. Some writers do that. You can tell. Their books are formulaic and they churn out the same things again and again, just repackaged and recovered. I guess that's their choice. For me, unless it's a unique story I want to tell, I'm not going to write it. I will not just write some formulaic book.

We are born individuals in this world and we should retain our individuality. If others agree with that, great. And if not, then why should that matter? I will stay true to who I am when I write. I will continue to write for myself in the hope that others will like what I write too and buy a book or two.

Okay, off to write a little more about Lucy Weatherington. Be yourself.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Seattle, Fremont Naked Solstice Cyclists

We are all promised 15 minutes of fame... These people have had it...

On Saturday I went to the Fremont area of Seattle where once a year they have the Fremont Summer Solstice Festival. If you like watching people covered in body paint cycling naked through the streets of a major city in the USA then this YouTube video is for you. If you don't, don't watch it.

Have a great week!

For those of you that are viewing on a smartphone or other mobile device: click THIS link.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The 10 Hour Project Manager - An excerpt

CHAPTER 4: Juggle the balls or play the chess game?

Back in Chapter One I discussed how many project managers talk about ‘juggling balls’ as a way to explain how they run their projects. Personally I have a big problem with this. I’ve seen jugglers. They are amazing people. They pick up all sorts of objects, throw them up in the air, catch them, throw another, all the while moving and watching and praying that nothing will fall to the ground. Now don’t get me wrong, I admire jugglers. I just wouldn’t want them running any projects. You see, one of the impressions I’m always left with after seeing a juggler is that they’re out there for the ‘wow’ factor. How many objects they can keep up in the air at any one time. The more, the merrier. The more they have, the more they feel they will impress you. But it’s a game you can never win. To continue to impress you have to keep juggling more and more things and make the possible seem so close to impossible. Wait a minute, isn’t that how a lot of project managers appear to be? We’ve all seen them, laptops and bluster, scurrying from meeting to meeting, never a moment to spare. In the office before 8am and turning the lights off after 7pm. They must have really difficult projects to run!

Consider, on the other hand the world’s greatest chess players, the picture of serenity, water or coffee by their side, a quiet pensive look on their faces and concentration on all the things that are happening around them. They are even conscious about the time they take for things, pressing a button on a clock to signify the handover of participation in the event to someone else.

Now I’m not suggesting that either juggling or chess playing performed at the highest level is easy. And I’m not suggesting that both performers don’t practice for many hours to achieve what they do. But I will admit, jugglers do look damn impressive compared to chess players!

But let’s take a step back from these analogies and examine some of the parts behind the vision. Juggling involves becoming close with the objects you are juggling, getting to know them intimately and then controlling their every individual movement, never letting your guard down for a moment, even when objects aren’t quite in the exact place you had expected them to be. Chess, on the other hand, requires an understanding of the pieces at your disposal, understanding how they do and don’t work together, and how they can work together for you to achieve an end result against a somewhat unpredictable opponent. Like juggling, you can never let your guard down in case some of the pieces get out of place on the board.

There are lots of other analogies I could make, but hopefully you’re starting to get the picture by now. Juggling is ultimately about how many individual objects you can keep up in the air at any one moment and chess is about how you can tactically achieve an objective with a fixed set of pieces. Stated this way, why do any project managers ever talk about juggling balls? What has juggling got to do with successfully completing a project objective?

There’s another huge difference between juggling and chess playing that I alluded to in the last paragraph and that is how close you get to all the individual pieces. The juggler keeps everything up in the air, every problem and every issue. Every passing comment by a project member has to be juggled and kept moving. The chess player, on the other hand, understands who is responsible for each of the problems, issues, passing comment, and tracks with that person, not letting it interrupt the big picture.

I’m a chess player, and I’m proud of it!

Read more about this book HERE and pick up a copy at Amazon. For the price of a beer you're going to get lessons that will last you a lifetime...

This book is filled with genuine, practical insights from an expert in the field of project management. The author describes a project management approach that you can apply to any type of project, whether you are a new or seasoned project manager. Read this book if you desire to be a project manager who adds value to your team and organization.

If you are looking to do a great job as a PM and still have a life, get this book. It is written by a very practical project manager for individuals who would like to be more effective and practical in their role as PM. How do I know this? I worked with him for several years on long term international projects with large multinational team. This book accurately reflects what he preached and practiced on the projects and hence my recommendation. I did not decide to write this recommendation as a favor to the author but as a favor to individuals, who can use a really practical guide to managing project and have a life. This author with his approach made it possible for all the team members to have a real work-life balance even on the road. Under him, our team excelled in every area imaginable on a project. I am glad that he decided to put his thoughts into writing so others can benefit from his approach. This would also be a great book for someone starting out as a Project Manager, as well.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Picture of the Week (#4) - Japan Still Devastated

This Saturday I am continuing my weekly series that shows my picture of the week. It's just something that struck a chord with me for whatever reason. This week it's a picture of Japan. Before and after the earthquake and tsunami. As my friend Hamish travels to the area this week, I wish him godspeed. Take care. Nature is a powerful thing...

(Click picture for original size)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hooray! USA Buys: How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel

At last the message has reached across the Atlantic from England to USA. Here's the latest rankings on Amazon USA:

Woo Hoo! So, what are you waiting for? Jump over to Amazon and pick up a copy for only $0.99. It's a steal!

As recent purchaser Salgado Reyes says:
"Are you trying to write your first novel or even your second or your third? Well you will appreciate the grand investment of £1.14! That's right £1.14 is all this great book cost me. 
"This book has many tips about writing and self-publishing. It is really helping me with my novel."

1. Don't Start the Story at the Beginning
2. Become a Successful Writer in 2,000 Hours
3. Poems and Short Stories
4. Creating a Good Plot
5. How Long Should a First Novel Be?
6. Writing in the First Person
7. Writing in the Third Person
8. Dialog Versus Narrative – Show Versus Tell
9. Writing Your First Novel: Words & Routine
10. Conflict and Its Importance
11. Plot Pace
12. Creating Believable and Well Rounded Characters
13. Writing Dialog – Or ‘He Said, She Said’
14. Creating a Page Turner
15. Letting the Book 'Cook'
16. Self-Editing Your Novel
17. The Process of Pre-Reads
18. Creating a World of Fantasy
19. How to Write & Self-Publish a Novel: The End-To-End Process Checklist
20. Creating a Writing Environment without Interruptions
21. Reading to Write
22. Encouraging All Would Be Authors
23. The Self-Publishing Process - The COMPLETE A-Z Instructions
24. Marketing Your Novel - The Relevance of Social Media, ARCs and Book Bloggers

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brand Yourself for Success in Self-Publishing

The June 7th edition of the Journal in Seattle features an interview with me. The link to the soft copy is HERE, and the link to The Journal article is here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Xannu - The Prophecy : The reviews keep coming!

Yesterday, Eva's Sanctuary reviewed a copy of my first YA Fantasy book, Xannu - The Prophecy. This is what she wrote:

Terry West is a twelve year old English boy who travels between alternate worlds using rune coins he found when digging for bottles. In his alternate world he is an eighteen year old soldier named Teern Truthbringer, who's task is to find the Xannu who will lead the people to deliverance. 
In both worlds, Terry is faced with tasks and challenges that force him to look deep inside himself. Terry has to learn to shift between his two worlds and is forced to face different obstacles in both. He must face a journey of discovery in his alternate world and attempt to remain an integral part with his friends in this world. Will he be able to balance both lives, solve the problems in both and learn the lessons that both provide? 
This is the first book in a five book series titled 'The Southern Lands.' This book is extremely well written and is an amazing story to say the least. The storyline flows very nicely considering the fact you are back and forth between the two worlds. I had absolutely no trouble following any of the story. If you are a fan of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, you will surely fall in love with this book. 
The more fantasy tales I read, the more I have come to love them. This is no exception. You have other world creatures, sorcery, giant men nine feet tall, warlocks, you name it. This book kept me glued and I could not put it down. I will anxiously await the next installment to see what adventures we are in for next. Check this book out for yourself. You will not be disappointed. 
I wish to thank Paul Dorset for providing me with a copy to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any way except for the privilege of reading and reviewing the book.

Go read the review yourself. Then head over to Amazon or Smashwords and pick up a copy. It's only $0.99!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is Bill Gates Returning to Microsoft?

Great companies are created by visionaries. Furthermore, companies only stay great when they are controlled by those visionaries. Apple is a great example of this. When Steve Jobs left Apple, the company slipped into near obscurity and it was only when he returned that the company was reborn to what it now is today.

Ever since Steve Balmer has been in charge at Microsoft, its stock prices have languished at more or less the same price. Microsoft is also no longer the most capitalized technology company in the world. First Apple surpassed it and more recently IBM also surpassed it. Microsoft is on its way to its own obscurity. What can be done about it?

The simple answer is to bring Bill Gates back to Microsoft. Sounds crazy? Maybe not. Bill Gates is reliant on Microsoft doing well in order for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to also succeed. Money begets money and Bill needs Microsoft’s money. So maybe it’s time for Bill to spend a little time back in charge of the mother company. Maybe it’s time for Bill to shake up the Microsoft world a little. The days of Windows are fast disappearing, and the days of Xbox (and its successor) are coming into prevalence. Microsoft needs the next big thing and Bill Gates is the man to deliver it.

Visionaries define a company’s success. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg. These people are winners. Steve Balmer, not so much. So from someone who has spent his life in technology, I am asking please Mr. Gates, do the right thing and rescue the company you built from nothing and now needs your help. I know you have more to give this world and it’s not just the cure for Polio. Technology is the cornerstone of breakthroughs in many fields and perhaps the Gates Foundation can benefit from work you now need to do back at Microsoft.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel - Writing For Success

I've said it once and I'll say it again - now's the time to buy a copy of my latest book: How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel. Amazon readers in the UK have figured it out, but it's time all my US readers jumped on board too. This morning, the book was high in the sales rankings again:

There are some great articles in this book:

1. Don't Start the Story at the Beginning
2. Become a Successful Writer in 2,000 Hours
3. Poems and Short Stories
4. Creating a Good Plot
5. How Long Should a First Novel Be?
6. Writing in the First Person
7. Writing in the Third Person
8. Dialog Versus Narrative – Show Versus Tell
9. Writing Your First Novel: Words & Routine
10. Conflict and Its Importance
11. Plot Pace
12. Creating Believable and Well Rounded Characters
13. Writing Dialog – Or ‘He Said, She Said’
14. Creating a Page Turner
15. Letting the Book 'Cook'
16. Self-Editing Your Novel
17. The Process of Pre-Reads
18. Creating a World of Fantasy
19. How to Write & Self-Publish a Novel: The End-To-End Process Checklist
20. Creating a Writing Environment without Interruptions
21. Reading to Write
22. Encouraging All Would Be Authors
23. The Self-Publishing Process - The COMPLETE A-Z Instructions
24. Marketing Your Novel - The Relevance of Social Media, ARCs and Book Bloggers

So, jump on over to Amazon  and pick up a Kindle copy. It's only $0.99 and could be just what you need to help you turn your novel into an all-time bestseller!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Busy Saturday - Chili, Pork Tenderloin, Curry and Sounders

Thankfully not necessarily all at once!

Lots to do today. Pork tenderloin already cooked. Beans were soaked overnight. Bacon sizzling in the pan. I think the freezer needs more chili. And probably a curry of some description. Oh - and then it's a Seattle Sounders soccer game later. Busy, busy, busy!

Tomorrow I need to get back to doing some writing. Have a great weekend!

Xannu - The Prophecy (Only $0.99)

Xannu - The Healing (Only $3.99)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Picture of the Week (#3) - Anthony Weiner's Chest

This Friday I am continuing my weekly series that shows my picture of the week. It's just something that struck a chord with me for whatever reason. This week it's a picture of Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner baring his chest.

Now I'm not against chest-baring in general, but there is a time and a place for it. I read an article yesterday that advocates sexting your partner, but for goodness sake don't go doing it to anyone else. What is the world coming to? Don't people realize that technology is everywhere and whatever you do electronically could end up somewhere totally unexpected? Let this be a lesson learned for all of you out there: Keep your chest exposures limited to those people that you're related to... Have a great weekend!

(Click picture for original size)
Picture from CelebBuzz Pics

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Author Interview - Paul Dorset (Journal Newspapers Seattle)

Brand yourself for success in self-publishing

Published: Monday, June 6, 2011 10:10 PM PDT
Globe trotting for the past 30 years as a consultant wasn’t enough for Paul Dorset. In his fine English accent he explained, “We all have passions and they eat away at us, and finally you give in to them.”

His passion was writing and it took the form of a fantasy/adventure novel titled Xannu — The Prophecy, which Dorset shopped around to myriad publishers in 2003, before indie publishing (self-publishing) was trendy.

Dorset took the rejection letters in stride, found some more test readers to iron out some kinks, and then resent his freshly edited book out again — only to receive a fresh round of rejection letters.

Not willing to take no for an answer, the frustrated author found a “vanity printer” to print Xannu and get it distributed. He retained the rights and “knew the joy of having the physical book” in his hands, he said.

“I lost money on the book as I sold less than 100 copies,” said Dorset. “I had started a series [with Xannu] and those who liked it asked, ‘Where is the next book?’ So you think, ‘I guess I had better write the second book.’”

He did, taking about 18 months because he was also working on Xannu — The Healing, which sold even fewer copies.

“If you don’t sell the first one, you aren’t going to sell the second,” he said. However, he admits he did not put a lot of thought into marketing the books because he did it for his own satisfaction.

Xannu is based in the real world. The main character is a 12-year-old English boy who has dreams (which turn out not to be dreams) in which he is living the life of an 18-year-old soldier in a fantasy land. “The first book seems to have a Christian-based moral to the story,” explained Dorset. “The second book just blows all that away.”

 You would think that the number of books sold would put an end to any self-publishing dreams for Dorset, but two rather random events took place that put him back on the rails. The first was befriending a master ventriloquist puppet maker who told him some great stories. Dorset felt compelled to turn these tales into a book for middle-graders. This project got him back to writing. The second was the growing popularity of e-books.

“With the way e-books are going, I decided ‘Hey, I have as much chance as anybody out there,’ so I came off a contract job and decided to write a book on project management,” he said.

Dorset wrote The 10 Hour Project Manager. It sold well, but there was a market already in place for this type of information and there was Dorset’s professional reputation to back it up. In the book’s first few weeks on the Amazon list it was in the top 100, which Dorset found quite amazing.

“Could I retire off of this success? Absolutely not,” he said. What he could do, however, was utilize the name he was making for himself with The 10 Hour Project Manager and use it to sell his other books.

“So I put all my other books on as e-copies and started cross-marketing them against each other because publishers are looking for someone who isn’t just a one hit wonder,” said Dorset. “It is slowly starting to pick up now and I have sold more of all my books in the last couple of months than I ever sold previously.”

He also made a personal commitment to put all his energy into “being out there” and now he is promoting his latest book, How to Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel. Just out, the book takes his experiences and funnels them into the do’s and don’ts for success. It also includes advice on how to create a plot, write dialogue, and whether to write in the first or third person.

“Everything today is about building a brand,” explained Dorset. “I am a big believer in social media and social marketing so I try to make everything part of my brand. I push everything through my blog and ultimately everything sells everything else. Publicity, good or bad, ends up being just publicity in the end.”

Dorset cites fellow self-publishing author Amanda Hocking as a good example of how to create a brand. Hocking made international headlines as the biggest e-book seller in the world. Since April 2010, she has sold more than 900,000 copies of her nine books about trolls, vampires and zombies. Now she has a $2 million contract with St. Martin’s press for a four-book series entitled Water-song, with the first installment scheduled for a fall 2012 release.

“You build the train up and keep pushing it out of the station. You cross reference everything and eventually things take off,” said Dorset. “Hocking has her own blog and she worked hard just getting the word out: encouraging people to read her books, giving free books away so they will be read and the readers will post reviews, and so on. Ultimately it is reviews that sell books.”

“I have been very fortunate because traveling has been a great boon to my writing,” Dorset said of his life experiences. “What you know ends up in your books, and the rest is what you make up.” 

You can read the original article HERE

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is There a Correct Way to End a Novel?

Judging by the plethora of movie endings on TV you’d think there was a formula. But there isn’t. How many times have you been disappointed by the ending of a movie, or a book? I’m sure it’s a lot of times. Authors end novels in the way they want to, and oftentimes not in the way that the reader wants. So, is that a good thing?

I guess it depends on many factors. It also depends on whether the book is part of a series or not. The most important thing in an ending is to tie up the main theme and plots. If there are a couple of minor points not quite resolved, that may not be important; but there will always be some readers who will notice and be unhappy. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

When you come to write your ending, ask yourself what message you are trying to leave the reader with. Ask yourself if you are really happy with the ending, or whether it feels a bit of a cheat. Inside you will know the answer to these questions. Don’t pretend the reader won’t know either, so write an honest ending that you are happy with. In your hurry to finish your book, don’t skimp on the ending.

Also, try and finish your novel in the style in which it is written. What I mean by this is, if it’s been a really tense book, whodunit style, with lots of action, then let the book end in much the same fashion. If it is a romantic epic, then end it that way too. Readers really do notice when a book ending seems forced and it will spoil their experience of the book and ultimately how they will feel about reading another novel you write.

Finally I want to write a little about series endings and generally leaving the door open. In a mid-series book you cannot close everything off, or else the reader will never need to buy the next book! But, you also can’t leave everything open or they will be really frustrated. You have to strike a balance. The way to do this is to set up a premise or goal for the book and make sure that is fulfilled. Along the way you can introduce the next big thing and that can be the subject of the next book. Just make sure you close off what you implied you would. And what about the topic of leaving the door open? Well, sometimes you may want to finish a book or a series with a closure that is not 100% final. What I mean by this is you deliberately don’t close a particular plot line and the reader understands there may be another story to tell at some point. But, and this is important, everything else they really cared about must be closed out properly.

So there you have it. Don’t cheat the reader. Give them closure, but keep a couple of little things up your sleeve for next time. Which reminds me…

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weird Stories: Police Shoot Fake Alligator After Receiving Concrete Tip

(Reuters Life!) - Police in a suburb in the state of Missouri recently encountered one tough alligator -- or so they thought.

Officers in Independence, a Kansas City suburb, responded to a call on a Saturday evening about a large alligator lurking on the embankment of a pond, police spokesman Tom Gentry said Thursday.

An officer called a state conservation agent, who advised him to shoot the alligator because there was little that conservation officials could do at that time, Gentry said.

As instructed an officer shot the alligator, not once but twice, but both times the bullets bounced off -- because the alligator was made of cement.

The property owner told police later that he placed the ornamental gator by the pond to keep children away. But residents had little to fear.

"There are no alligators around here, we are too far north, it's too cold," said Bill Graham, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Gentry acknowledged the incident is drawing a lot of attention.

"In hindsight, it's humorous," he said. "But we have to take every call seriously."

PS. For a really weird story try this: Solar Powered Bikini Charges Your Gadgets While You Tan

Once in a while it's good to go off topic and post something 'just for the fun of it' - Have a great day!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mega-Trending: Writing for Success - on Amazon UK

Yes, my new ebook How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel is now trending even better than a couple of days ago on Amazon UK. Take a look at the image below:

Oddly enough, it's not doing as well yet in the US. I think it's something to do with the plethora of available books in the Amazon bookstore. But you can rectify this situation!

For only $0.99 you can buy your own version in the US. Click HERE
(And if you're in the UK, click HERE)

What are you waiting for? Take a chance on my book - it really does contain a lot of very good advice!

Seattle Sunny Sunday in June

Here in Seattle it's going to be a sunny Sunday - the first this year! With temperatures rising to maybe the low 80's there's going to be a lot of flesh on display - pallid white flesh that has been kept covered for several months. Beware of the sunburned people tomorrow!

So, it's a day to get out and about and do something different. Yesterday I took a wonderful 2 hour Seattle locks cruise and today it's off to a friends to enjoy an afternoon BBQ. I'm taking along my extra hot Biryani dish too - that should spice up a few people ;-)

Writing begins again in earnest tomorrow morning. I've been too lazy recently and I need to get back on track. So -all of you should enjoy today, wherever you are and whatever you're doing. Embrace the world, breathe in the fresh air and be thankful to be alive. Life is good!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Have a Retail Value of $15.94

That’s all it costs to buy a copy of each of my published books in digital format. Scary. The sum total of my retail life for sale is $15.94. Mind you, if 10,000 people buy me that would add up to $159,400. Not too shabby!

The reason I am writing this blog post is to try and understand just what motivates people. It’s obviously not everything to do with the money. If it was then anyone buying one of my books would simply buy them all. Maybe I should increase my book prices to $14.99 each. Would I sell more, or less? Probably a lot less. So that leads me to believe it’s also a lot to do with exposure. I have limited means to get exposure for my books. I’m just going to have to try harder somehow. My 2,000 Facebook friends and 54,000 Twitter followers equates to a very small percentage of the world’s population (in my case 0.001%), and that’s just my potential reach (not including drop-bys to my blog, etc.). When you look at things this way, it’s no wonder that new authors struggle to make a breakthrough in book sales.

So, I’ve decided to make June another crazy marketing month. I don’t know quite how I’m going to do this yet, but I need to somehow get my potential reach numbers higher. I’ve begged and pleaded for book reviews and I’ve had a few (it seems everyone is just so busy nowadays) and I’ve tried to get newspaper interviews. I’ve tried a lot of things, but it’s very tough and it all shows slow progress. I also need to publish more books (but come on, there are only so many hours in the day).

Anyway, there will be more on my marketing effort in the next few days. In the meantime, I am going to shamelessly promote this blog post and provide links to all of my books that are currently on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. The links below all point to Smashwords. Smashwords allows you to read a portion of my books for FREE (usually around 20%). You don’t even need an ereader to read the books – they can be read directly onto your computer! Then, if you like the FREE sample, you can either buy the book on Smashwords, or head over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to find them there. So, go ahead, knock yourself out. Read a sample of my writing and help me realize my retail worth of $15.94.

PS. If you liked this post or can empathize with it, please re-post, link to it, or retweet it. Thanks!

Xannu - The Prophecy by Paul Dorset. $0.99 from
For fans of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter & The Narnia Chronicles, the 1st in a thrilling epic fantasy series. Would you wake up in a hot sweat if you lived your night’s dreams as a soldier battling un-earthly creatures, witnessing powerful magic and fighting to save your own life on a daily basis? English schoolboy Terry West does. Frequently. And someone wants him dead... *** READ 20% FOR FREE ***

Xannu - The Healing by Paul Dorset. $3.99 from
Continuing on from The Prophecy, this book follows the journeys of two groups of travelers who are both trying to heal their charges. Back in England, Terry West is distraught after the loss of his best friend. But as Teern Truthbringer the soldier, Terry is busy battling un-earthly creatures & witnessing powerful magic on a daily basis. But is he prepared for the perilous journey he has to take to heal his charge; the Xannu.   *** READ 20% FOR FREE ***

Fergus Fedderfeeny's Food Factory by Paul Dorset. $0.99 from
Farnsworth is worried. Bags of the Food Factory’s vegetables are definitely missing! What will his boss, Fergus Fedderfeeny, say when he finds out? Then there’s the wonderful tasting pies. He doesn’t know how the recipes got changed or if it’s because of the missing vegetables. Armed with a toolbox of hammers & staying well away from The Mangler, Farnsworth is going to solve the mystery.*** READ 20% FOR FREE ***

Jai and Jasmine's Jeopardous Journey by Paul Dorset. $2.99 from
Jai hates the stink of rotting vegetables and he’s been thinking about them and the smelly ship ever since he arrived in Gwillville. Maybe the ship is the secret to being reborn and maybe it’s a way to find Farnsworth’s missing father. Jai is convinced he needs to make a jeopardous journey of discovery, but his cousin Jasmine is not so sure it’s such a good idea. *** READ 20% FOR FREE ***

The 10 Hour Project Manager by Paul Dorset. $5.99 from
This book gives you the tools to successfully manage the majority of most projects in only 10 hrs a week. It is about the meta-rules associated with projects and the management skills that help you decide what to pay close attention to and what can safely be de-prioritized. You will learn the important things to focus on, because although every project is different the meta-rules are the same. *** READ 20% FOR FREE ***

How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel by Paul Dorset. $0.99 from
Writing and publishing your first novel is tough. It usually takes a long time. Years for most people. It can be soul destroying too. This ebook is a series of essays solely concerned with improving your writing skills and getting your first novel successfully self-published, and marketed. It is written from thousands of hours of experience and every essay in it is relevant and has a purpose. *** READ 15% FOR FREE ***

Friday, June 3, 2011

Picture of the Week (#2) - Obama and the Pint of Guinness

This Friday I am continuing my weekly series that shows my picture of the week. It's just something that struck a chord with me for whatever reason. This week it's a picture of President Obama claiming his Irish roots. I call it: O'Bama Drinks the Irish Gold. Apparently he even paid for it himself. To be sure.

If I didn't know any different, he could easily be in my local Irish pub - J J Mahoney's. Enjoy a pint of Guinness this evening!

(Click picture for original size)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trending: Writing for Success - on Amazon UK

Yes, my new ebook How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel is trending on Amazon UK. Take a look at the image below:

Oddly enough, it's not doing as well yet in the US. I think it's something to do with the plethora of available books in the Amazon bookstore. But you can rectify this situation!

For only $0.99 you can buy your own version in the US. Click HERE
(And if you're in the UK, click HERE)

Take a chance on my book - it really does contain a lot of very good advice!

Amazon Won't Let Me Give My Books Away For FREE

Getting into the top 100 books at Amazon is a dream that everyone aspires to. Getting into the top 10 is an even loftier one. But getting there is very difficult and made more so by one interesting policy that Amazon has. Did you know that as a self-published (Indie) author you cannot set your book price to free at Amazon? No, the minimum price you can set is $0.99. Why is this important? Just take a look at the top 100 ebooks at Amazon and you will see the list littered with free books. Yes, there are several that are $0.99 or $1.99, but did you also know that a lot of these books were once originally free too?

Amazon has an arrangement with publishers whereby it can agree to give a book away for free in order to generate cross-sales. Are you an established traditionally published author with a back-catalog? Chances are that Amazon will give away one of your first books for free in order to generate sales of the other books. But you and me? Sorry, ain’t going to happen. We have to stick with the $0.99 model and hope we can generate sales that way. Some authors have tried to beat the system by giving their book away on Smashwords in an effort to force Amazon to lower their price too. Doesn’t work. You can even try it on Apple’s iBooks. Still doesn’t work for Amazon. Interesting.

So the question is, does giving your book away really help to generate sales? I guess the short answer is yes, it does. If it didn’t then people wouldn’t do it. But, and here’s the rub, how many of those free downloaders will never read your book? I know personally that books that are free are generally bottom of my reading pile. If I pay $0.99 for a book then I have a vested interest in reading it. But let’s say 10,000 people download your free book and just %5 read it, that’s still 500 first-time potential purchasers of your other books – not a bad marketing campaign.

Of course, if you have only written one self-published book to date then giving it away for free is not very attractive for you anyway. Why write it in the first place? The system only works when you have several books to sell. Another nail in the coffin of first-time authors. Well, no one said it was easy becoming an established first-time author, did they?

Us Indie authors will continue to try to beat the system and get our books out there in every way we can. I am trying hard to build a catalog of books so that people understand I’m not a single book author; I’m in it for the long haul. Becoming established takes time, so stick at it, break as many rules as you can and just keep doing what you do best – writing. One day Amazon may give one of our books away for free too. In the meantime, please buy one of my books on sale at $0.99 and spread the word!

UPDATE: Please read my later post HERE

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reading eBooks May Cause Cancer

Now that we have been told that using cellphones can cause cancer, it is only a logical step to realize that reading ebooks on cellphones or iPads could also cause cancer. Wow! I can just see how this headline will go down with Apple, Android and Amazon.

Maybe paper is about to make a comeback! Perhaps this is a plan by the major publishers to stop people from buying ebooks and force them to buy the expensive and bulky printed versions. Maybe it’s a government conspiracy to force people to build libraries once more. Perhaps it’s even bigger than this. Perhaps it’s a way to force the whole of technology to be abandoned in favor of luddite practices.

Whoops, I’m getting a little carried away now. But am I? This is how it starts. One day there’s a rumor. The next day it goes viral. Then finally, it’s fact. Then you have it. People proclaim from the streets that reading books causes cancer. Oh well, I guess if that were true I’d be riddled with the stuff by now. Maybe I am. Maybe the ‘cancer’ we’re talking about here is just a different type of cancer. Maybe it’s just like a disease that eats away at you. Maybe the cancer we’re talking about here comes from reading hundreds of books. After all that reading your brain just craves more and more until it completely self-destructs. The cancer wins.

Okay, enough. I can’t believe for one second that the world we’ve come to know for the past fifteen years is going to get turned upside down like this. Like the men in white coats said, there’s no actual evidence that cellphones cause cancer, just a reasonable suspicion. And the people who are saying this are all old people that never got their chance to do anything else amazing before. They don’t understand technology and they ‘poo poo’ technological breakthroughs. Of course, to them it makes sense that they should shun cellphones, ebooks and probably even xBox Kinect (how could they?).

Me? My life is already too short to worry about whether everything I do is dangerous or not. OF COURSE IT IS! I’m going to keep reading (and writing) ebooks, cancer causing or not!