Cheap ebooks and a short story contest!

Marketing your books when there’s a huge amount of competition can be hard, especially if you’re an indie. That’s why it’s a good idea to take advantage of some avenues other than Facebook, Twitter and general blog advertising. This week I’ve teamed together with some other fantasy authors to promote our books as a package. In addition, Michael Brookes (of the The Cult of Me titles) is running a short story competition over on his blog.

Cheap eBooks

It’s never a bad idea to offer stories for sale now and then, and by teaming together with other authors, you can really get that sense of camaraderie. This week, Vera Nazarian is celebrating her birthday by offering a page full of epic fantasy books for sale. You’ll find Inside Evil there, along with Vera’s own Lords of Rainbow. In addition, there are another 32 fantasy books all available from the Amazon store at a reduced price. So, if you want some new and cheap reading this week, then head over to Vera’s celebration page!

Short Story Contest

Meanwhile, Michael Brookes has unveiled a new short story contest with a winning prize of a £50 Amazon gift card. To enter, all you have to do is write a short story using the picture on his blog for inspiration. The winner gets £50, and the runners up in 2nd and 3rd get £20 and £10 respectively.

If you’re a budding writer and want some new money for books, then this is a great opportunity to take advantage of. It’s also a nice little expose for current writers because if you win there’s yet another chance to get your name and some of your work published in yet another place on the web. More places equals more exposure, which is rarely a bad thing! If short stories are your thing, then head on over and check out all the details.

Creature Characters

ImageWhen I was young I was obsessed with many creature driven stories. Many still make my shelves groan with their weight – The Animals of Farthing Wood, Redwall, Mossflower, The Dark Portal. They were stories that inspired me, that drew me in so deeply to their creative worlds that I couldn’t put them down. They were tales of fantastic creatures living in their own little societies all around us.

I’ve never attempted to write an actual animal character driven book – though I’m realising that perhaps I should – but anyone who’s read the Inside Evil series will know that nature is an essential part of my writing. Whilst some world-builders might talk about geological formations or towering skyscrapers to create their setting, my paragraphs are filled with trees, foxes or little bugs even if they have nothing to do with the story at all. In CRYO you’ll find birds flitting around or follow Ann’s wonder as she discovers the rainforest. In Pacifier 6, as Carl makes his way through the zombie apocalypse, there are still signs of the natural world in London. In Inside Evil, however, these creatures became so much more.

I’m a complete pantser when it comes to writing, and nothing is normally planned aside from major milestones and plots. I never intended fantastic Faithful to appear between the pages and become such an important cat. The Ammokra Arbor, with its glittering moths, spun its own way out of my mind and into the novel, whilst Elrick, and subsequently Montgomery, were complete surprises. Now, as I’m writing book four, I’m realising that there’s quite a cast of creature characters within the pages of the Inside Evil series. With good and bad creatures on both side of the rift, my zoological path and childhood reading seems to have made quite an impact upon my writing without me even realising it to begin with. I wouldn’t have any of these novels without my favourite little animal friends. So much so, that I’m thinking about writing a short story set in the Middlelands with Faithful, or his ancestors, taking the lead.

Who would you cast?

Hi folks! I’m still around, and working hard on the fourth Inside Evil book which has yet to be titled. Like The Tower of Souls, this fourth instalment is split between Ridgewood and Gathin so I’m having a blast getting back into all these doppelganger minds.

I’ve been having a few conversations on Twitter of late about casting. It seems that all the best books or best-selling series are getting spun into movies or television series, whether to make a quick buck or actually provide us with some real entertainment. Sometimes the casting is spot on, and you watch a show and are enthralled at how close to a character an actor is. At other times it’s way off and you’re left feeling a little disappointed. The most obvious bad casting for me was Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter. I love Imelda and think she’s a fine actress, but she was just too sweet for me. I’d always imagined Dolores as uglier, rotund and altogether unpleasant in looks and manner.

ruth fisherWhen asked about my own casting for novels, I’ve had a hard time. My characters tend to create themselves out of my mind and, as such, are not usually inspired by actors. The only contradiction to this is Valaria Carlody in CRYO: Rise of the Immortals who I always believed would be ideally played by Francis Conroy. Meanwhile, it has crossed my mind that Rebecca Mader, of Lost fame, could be a good possibility for the styled, intellectual and sometimes drug stimulated Evie Zianter.

In regards to Inside Evil, I often find it hard to cast Martha, Roberta, Sam etc because they’re visions in my head who don’t look like anyone else. I’ve had Felicity Montagu mentioned as a possible Martha, and today, another lovely fan said she’d always thought of Susan as Helena Bonham Carter. I know, odd right? But then I looked up a blonde HBC (see below) and guess what? She could easily play Susan Lingly and could create a very interesting take on this lady! This had never crossed my mind before but now I feel enlightened as a result!

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It got me thinking; everyone who reads a book has an interesting take on both the story and characters. I avoid putting obvious characters on my book covers for this exact reason.

So, if you were casting Inside Evil, CRYO or Pacifier Six, which actresses and actors would make your lineup? Which books to movies have you seen where the characters were perfect or far from who you’d imagined?

Spirits of the Middlelands is here

Spirits of the Middlelands 270pxIt’s been a long time coming, especially for Inside Evil fans who have had to wait since last summer when The Tower of Souls came out, but Spirits of the Middlelands has finally arrived! I’m really pleased with how the story ended up, answering many of the questions from the previous two books, but also setting the way for the next two novels. There’s something for everyone – gin swilling Susan, Roberta and Sam’s close friendship and, of course, lots of Faithful (though he’s not longer the fluffy kitten he used to be).

If you want to buy or simply look at samples, then head to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or Smashwords to take a look. It’ll be coming to Apple, B&N and Kobo over the next few days, so I’ll provide the link on the sidebar as soon as they’re available.

So, what’s next?

There are lots of plans afoot, but the two major projects for 2013 are Inside Evil Book 4, and the second instalment of CRYO. I’m desperate to get back to John, Amity…even Agnes, and discover what’s happening in their new found world, but I can’t wait to explore more of Gathin with the Ridgewood gang either. Decisions, decisions. Both books will be completed this year though…so plenty of writing and reading to do!

Inside Evil, Spirits of the Middlelands, is completed

Spirits of the Middlelands 270pxI’m so happy! Yesterday, I wrote the epilogue for Spirits of the Middlelands and finally got that all important final sentence for this third book in the Inside Evil series onto paper – aka – word. I have to admit, it didn’t start off so well. Having taken several months out to complete CRYO and Pacifier 6, getting back to Ridgewood and rediscovering Roberta, Susan and Karl took a while. I had writer’s block, I tried to force the story, and I got absolutely nowhere. But, then things started kicking into place, twists that even I hadn’t foreseen began to occur and my nimble fingers were back on track. I got the great cover art done and released a few teasers and everything started to snowball in the right direction.

Having now finished Spirits of the Middlelands, I’ll need a week or so to re-read the first draft, make improvements, fix some continuity issues and take out a couple of paragraphs that began story threads which didn’t actually transpire into anything. Then, it’s off to my editor. So, with us already heading towards mid-March, I would think this release will due at the end of the month at best, but more likely early April. If you don’t want to miss it, then make sure to sign up to the newsletter.

WHAT’S NEXT?

As much as I want to write the next CRYO book and have ideas formulating for another Pacifier 6 novella, Inside Evil fans will be pleased to know that I’m going to crack straight on with book number four. My mind is filled with Ridgewood right now, with each character’s fate, and I’m keen to capitalise on this. With the middle book now complete, there’s just two more to write – I can’t believe it! If you haven’t had a chance to read Inside Evil yet, grab it – it’s FREE ;P

Now, I must be off to correct typo’s and ensure continuity!

Indie Scene – a new magazine for short stories, indie fiction and readers of independently published books

cover_issue_1_smallIt’s hard enough getting your name out as an author, let alone if you choose to go down the route of becoming an indie author. There’s A LOT of us out there, and whilst we compete for shelf space, we rarely spare a thought for readers. As much as we’re trying to promote our books, readers are desperately trying to sift through the self-published masses and find great reads that really grab their attention. This is why Indie Scene has launched; a new place for readers to find free short stories, interesting articles and some of the best indie books around.

You might think this magazine is just another chance for us indie authors to be seen, and, in many ways, it is. But the real emphasis here has been put on readers, and giving our fans something back. There are articles on writers and the craft of telling a story, but there are also six free short stories in the debut edition. In addition, there’s an article on the many ways to read Kindle ebooks even if you don’t have a Kindle yourself, a selection of new releases and all manner of other goodies for people to enjoy.

Indie Scene is completely free to download as a PDF (or read in your browser if you choose), so feel free to take a look. If you love the magazine, then let us know, give us your feedback. We’d love to keep creating a publication that has a reader focus and offers something new to the community, so download, have a read and if you like it, tell us!

Inside Evil’s available – FREE

After reading a gargantuan number of blogs about marketing, advertising and general other book selling ideas, I’d realised a few months ago that it was probably best to make Inside Evil free at some point. I’m not in Amazon’s KDP Select so I have no way of taking advantage of free days. However, taking point from the lovely Lindsay Buroker, I thought that I’d make Inside Evil free when Spirits of the Middlelands was published at the end of March…thereby encouraging people to try out the series without having to make a financial commitment.

Cover - smallSo, a few weeks ago I ran a tester, reducing my Kobo price to zero. Any sales? Fat chance. Kobo really is a non-starter for me, but the fact that I had a free book there and got not downloads demoralised me – A LOT. I decided that if I was going to give this a proper crack, then I’d have to take a stab at price-matching on Amazon. There’s no clear deadline for this to occur…it’s down to the Amazon gods.

Yesterday morning I logged into Amazon and found, to my absolute shock, there were 89 price-matched downloads. 89 people saw my book and wanted to try it out. WOW. Then figures started to climb, and climb, and climb. As of this minute, I’m #1 in free horror/occult and #330 in the overall Amazon free store. I’ve had 900 downloads (I’ve just checked – exactly 900) and I’ve sold 4 of my other books. Wow. WOW. This is on NO promotion as I didn’t have a clue when Amazon would price-match…it’s just spiralled.

I’m keeping track of my statistics and will write a more in-depth piece after a few days have run their course and things have settled down a bit. Unfortunately, at this juncture, only Amazon.com has the free listing as I didn’t know that I had to price-match across channels. I’m also not sure whether this will be a perma-free or a month’s promotion before the release of book three. But, for someone who has been selling only tens of books per month, and was seriously wondering whether people were even interested in trying out my work, this has been a huge motivator. I KNOW that there are a lot of freebie grabbers out there, and that lots of people won’t even read it, but the fact that over 900 people (I just checked again) have downloaded it, AND book two, The Tower of Souls, has started selling is a GOOD boost.

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Anyway, if you want to try Inside Evil out for FREE, head to Amazon. I’ll report back soon with more results.

A Bloody Kind of Lust

Everyone loves a bad boy, right? Or has indulged in unrequited love, or perhaps fallen a little too far for someone completely inappropriate. It’s Valentines Day, and we all know that this day of the year is about sharing time with your partner (or getting drunk if you’re single). But what if you’re love isn’t the average? What you’re in love with a monster? A zombie?

Love between a mortal and a zombie

Love between a mortal and a zombie

Whilst I’m no fan, Twilight has certainly pushed away the boundaries over loving monsters. Tales have been spun throughout the decades of mere mortals falling for deadly and vicious monsters, but Stephanie Meyer really managed to bring monster love back into the spotlight….though Edward Cullen wasn’t quite the vicious vampire that we’re all used to. Perhaps, for that, it’s best to look towards the realm of True Blod and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. More recently, Warm Bodies has found a spotlight, with the film adaptation of Isaac Marion’s book showing that love can really cure all. But can it? And, more importantly, should it?

I’ve been grappling with this idea in my latest novella, Pacifier 6, The Shadows Within. Set after a zombie apocalypse, the human race is trying to rebuild society. Zombies decimated our population, but there were those that survived, and with the emergence of a new drug – Pacifier 6 – the remaining zombies have been drugged and farmed into a new workforce. But whilst decomposing, mute and all together nasty looking, is there still a place for love?

I’m not sure that love is the correct word, and it’s more like bloody lust. A zombie is a zombie, even when pacified, and despite that there’s a new creature lurking within, I was torn between all out love and showing just the flickering of an emotional connection. If you read the tale, you’ll discover that it isn’t really a love story, but more of a discovery of feelings. Is Carl attracted to his zombie worker because he likes a bad boy? Because there’s a consciousness deep within? Or is it simply that there aren’t many people left to choose from?

At any length, I’m not sure that love between monsters and mortals should be an easy ride. After all, love between two humans is normally less than smooth. And, if I’m honest, monsters are still monsters whatever the show they put on…they’re supposed to be scary, to creep us out, to put the fear of god into our souls. Love tends to be enduring. Lust, however, it an instant overtaking emotion that gets us into all manner of problems, especially when we’re ogling a monster.

*THIS IS PART OF A VALENTINE’S BLOG HOP - Click here for the other members of this Blog Hop.*

CRYO; Rise of the Immortals at Barnes & Noble

cryofor kindle-revMorning all, just a little book update today to let you know that CRYO: Rise of the Immortals has finally landed at B&N. It can be a little frustrating waiting for B&N to pick up Smashwords distributions, especially when other places, such as iBooks, pick new works up so quickly. However, it’s finally available – HERE.

CRYO is one of my real book loves, and John Carlody is very like me in many ways. He dreams of going to the future and finding his place in the world, but when given that golden opportunity, he finds himself second guessing and wondering if he’s making the right choice.

John’s life is ordinary. Whilst skyscrapers soar towards the heavens, leaving a dying Earth far below, John has little to enthuse him about the modern world. He’s the black sheep of the family, the recluse, the one who never did anything worthwhile. That is, until John wins an elusive ticket to the CRYO program. Within seconds, his life explodes in a flash of cameras, notoriety and intrigue.

The chance to sleep for a few decades and wake in a new world, a place where life might be better, is all that John can hope for. But, is CRYO everything it says it is? Is the promise of a prosperous future unfounded? Only time will tell, as John becomes one of 50 new immortal souls to ride out the journey of time….

If you’ve had your appetite wetted, then you can download the sample at B&N. CRYO, is also available at Amazon, Kobo and iBooks, and there’s a couple of reviews over at Amazon.co.uk.

Happy Hump Day! :)

Spirits of the Middlelands (Inside Evil 3) Cover, News and Teasers

Spirits of the Middlelands (1)As many of you know I’m extremely busy getting involved with the Ridgewood gang again. I seem to have left this bunch behind for far too long, and I’ve loved getting back into the thick of it with Roberta, Susan and the other cast members. Today I hit 40,000 words for Book 3 of this five book saga, so I’m just over halfway through and there’s some interesting developments occurring. You may all be wondering about the child at the end of The Tower of Souls….well, she’s a very important piece of the puzzle! There’s also some old faces appearing (Galdur and Vronny), as well as the story of the Ammokra and Gathin progressing nicely.

I’m aiming at an end of March launch for this Spirits of the Middlelands, so if you want to be the first to know when it’s released, then feel free to sign up to the newsletter.

Here’s a couple of dialogue teasers:

“Don’t bring them through here, Barry! Down the hall!”

“Like I would,” Barry replied with a grin, though he cast his hand towards the pristine carpet and watched as Martha’s eyes bulged when the wet trout tails dripped perilously close to her furnishings. 

“I need to know about the Middlelands.”

“It’s 4.30 in the morning,” Galdur groaned, his face still scrunched up, his hands tiredly wiping his eyes.

“I know, I’m sorry, I couldn’t sleep and I just thought you might be up,” Susan apologised as realistically as possible. She’d known quite well that she could be waking him, but Susan was becoming tired of waiting for answers to magically appear out of the air.

“I’m up now,” Galdur groaned again, reaching out of view and pulling a vest over his head. “Are you still guarding the portal?”

“I was a lot of fun in college, I’ll have you know,” Roberta replied as she allowed her guard to slide slightly and enjoyed a sip of wine. “It wasn’t until my little sister ran off with a sailor that I found responsibility.”

“He was incredibly handsome. I just couldn’t say no.”

“Not saying no is the story of your life,” Roberta smiled as she rolled her eyes in Sam’s direction.

I think those few quotes have a few interesting titbits to mull over for you! In more book news, I’m also in the process of making Inside Evil FREE in the lead up to the launch. It’s already listed for FREE on Kobo and I’m waiting for the price match to trickle across to Amazon.

Now, I better go and continue writing!