Friday, March 29, 2013

Welcome to My "HOBBIT BIRTHDAY" Weekend...

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a "Hobbit Birthday", it is one where the birthday person gives presents to those who come to celebrate with him/her.  And that's what I'm doing here with my birthday, which is March 30th.  

I'm giving you all a chance to get a free e-copy of my novel "THE BRIDGE".  Just go the link below which will take you to Smashwords and use this coupon code: XS86Y to get a free e-book copy.  Smashwords will give you selection of different versions of the book to choose from MOBI (Kindle), Nook, Apple, EPUB, and PDF.  

****NOTE: the coupon is only good from now through midnight April 1st, so make sure you get yours as soon as possible****

And what does this birthday boy ask for in return?  Simply this, leave a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon if you don't mind.nd if you enjoyed the book, please help spread the word about it through your networks.  The biggest battle any new author faces is getting the word out about their books, so this would be a huge help. 

SO LET THE PARTY BEGIN.  Here's the Smashwords Link:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sample Sunday...

I got the idea for "Sample Sunday" from one of my fellow authors, namely Scarlet Black.  She is the author of "Wisdom Of Evil", "Salem Moon" 1 and 2, "The Last Gift" and most recently "E-Vamp" which is taking the European market by storm.   I strongly recommend checking her out on Amazon folks, you won't be disappointed.

Anyway, today I decided to give you all a brief glimpse into a scene in "THE BRIDGE".  I thought it might be nice to show you some of what goes on during one of my lead characters psychic visions.  Once you've read it, remember the book is available for all e-readers and in print.   You can find all these versions  at my new webpage:  Just click on the one you want and the link will take you to where you need to go for it.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this snippet:

     Alex, blissfully unaware of all that had taken place, boarded a train at Grand Central station, eager to go home.  He had been in the city all day and was glad to be leaving.  He had met with clients, visited contractors, and then checked on a couple of jobs his office was overseeing.   Then he’d met up with his sister and her husband for lunch.
     And as usual Sharon was in top form, going on about how tired he looked and that he needed to spend more time back on Long Island.  Maybe go to the beach.  Of course he could bring Veronica, but she’d heard that too much sun was bad for older skin, and so on and so forth.
     Now, he was comfortably settled in a seat on the train and allowed himself to lean back and relaxed.  The gentle swaying and clicking sound of the wheels were soothing, almost hypnotic.  His eyes slowly lowered and he fell asleep…

     … and once again found himself in the strange hallway with the four doors waiting for him.  How had he gotten up here?
     Up here?  Yes, this was an upper story that was rarely used anymore.  A thin layer of dust covering the carpet was testimony to that fact. No one had been up here in some time.
   Brushing aside a cobweb he went over to the nearest door and tried the handle, it was unlocked.  Suddenly it swung inwards, revealing a bedroom furnished in Colonial style. Though he was no expert, he was sure the furnishings were originals, not modern copies.  And unlike the hallway, everything in here was immaculately clean and well cared for.  There was some clothing laid out on the bed which indicated this room belonged to a woman.
     Instinct told him not to enter, so he decided to make his way towards the next room. As soon as he turned away, the door behind him slammed shut.  Then the unmistakable sound of keys in a lock could be heard.  Looking back, he saw the door was now bolted shut and thought he heard movement inside.  Looking down at the lighted crack at the bottom of the door, he spotted the shadow of feet pacing back and forth from the other side of the barrier.  He quickly went over to the other doors and saw no light or shadows coming from them.
      Coming back to the locked door he found wooden slats now covered the portal.  At first he felt panic for the owner of those shadowy footsteps, but then he realized the room was now empty.  He could sense no one within.
    From behind him came the sound of creaking.  Turning he saw the door opposite this one slowly opening.
    He took one final look at the barred doorway and found it was now bricked up.  And half of the brickwork was already covered by dark paneling that matched the rest of the corridor.
There was nothing more he could do here.  And the room behind him waited patiently.  Taking a deep breath, he turned and headed over to the room across the hallway.  He didn’t bother looking back, knowing that any sign a room had been there would be gone.

     On the old stone bridge over the stream, a woman stood silent and motionless.  In her arms she cradled what appeared to be a small bundle.  Her eyes were fixed on the line of tall trees surrounding the rear half of the great mansion.  Their many branches practically obscured the entire third floor.
    Nearby, at the foot of the bridge a man wearing a white wolf skin knelt.  His head was bowed as he chanted in a tongue not heard in centuries...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Have a Vlog Over On YouTube...

For those who didn't already know, I have a Vlog over on YouTube.  Now I know I've gained more readers over time, especially since I last posted any videos here.  And those I believe were from Christmas here in Marina California.
Normally my videos are all about writing and its many aspects:  settings, plot, character development, getting ideas, finding inspiration, dealing with writer's block, publishing on Createspace and Smashwords, etc.

Here is the latest video I posted a few weeks ago.  You may want to check it out or go to my YouTube channel to check out some of the other videos I've made.  I tried making this last one a bit more amusing, but without going overboard and ruining the main point I was trying to make in the video of how to make a mistake into a plus.


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Last Five 1st Edition Copies of "THE BRIDGE" Left For Sale At This Time

I'm down to my last five 1st edition copies of my novel "THE BRIDGE".  

Now, there may be more available in six months from now, but don't count on it. Last week I placed 9 of these first edition copies in two local bookstores. If they don't sell there, I'll be making whatever is left of them available for purchase here. I'm hoping I'll get cleaned out and asked to bring in more copies (those will be 2nd edition ones).

So if anyone is interested in getting a personalized/signed 1st edition please let me know. I don't know how much longer these will last. Price $15.00, plus $3.00 shipping and handling here in the U. S. Outside of the U. S. will cost more.

REMEMBER: These are the copies that still have some errors in them, but not enough to really interrupt the story or your enjoyment.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Getting On Bookshelves...

Okay, yesterday was a big day for me.  My novel "THE BRIDGE" is now available in two 'brick-and-mortar' bookstores.  How did I make this happen?  Are sales jumping through the roof?  Is my name out there so much that fans are demanding it be available everywhere?  Two words.... I WISH!

No, the simple truth is when you're an Indie Author (someone who has published through Createspace or other means to make a printed copy of your book), you have to do a lot of things yourself.  One of them is marketing and getting your book into stores.  Now, if you've done a good job marketing and your sales on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites are going really well, you might land up in bookstores.  Some chains look to those sites to see what's the hottest sellers going and is it available in print form.  They don't want to be left out of the loop and fall behind.  But you have to have great sales for that to happen.  But if you're just starting out and are still building your reputation, you have to do research and make inquiries to bookstores about getting your work on their shelves.

Now, one of those methods is 'consignment'.  And that's what I did with these two bookstores.  Consignment is where the bookstore will split the profit on every sale of your book, in return for letting your product be on their shelves.  Now remember, space is a premium at a bookstore.  They want things on their shelves that's going to sell and not just gather dust forever.  So consignment arrangements can take two forms.  One is a straight split 50/50 or you can be charged a fee plus a portion of the sales.  Now I encountered both types.  One store is giving me a 60/40 split in my favor, but also charged small fee.  Now to me, this was fair and reasonable since I'm also an artist.  I'm used to this kind of arrangement because it's used in some art galleries.  You're renting space inside that business and they are taking a risk in the respect that if you don't sell at all that they still get a little something for having that space occupied inside their business by work that is not generating any profit for them.  The other store, went for a straight 50/50 split with me.  

Now, in both cases, the books are going to be on their shelves for the next 6 months.  So for at least 1/2 a year, my books have a presence out there where people can see it and become intrigued.  I also took the precaution of autographing all of them to help entice prospective buyers.  Plus I also made mention that these were 1st edition, signed copies.  Again, another method of trying to entice buyers.  People are always hoping that they might have a piece of something that becomes a big thing down the road.  And 1st edition, signed copies can be worth a lot down the road if that happens.

But that's not enough.  I have to get the word out that these stores are now carrying my work to help increase the sales.  Because the more that happens, the stores will want more copies.  Plus they'll also want the work to stay on their shelves even longer and be asking about future books you have coming out.  Now, am I finished approaching bookstores and asking if they carry Indie Author books?  Absolutely not.  I'm still building my reputation.  I've covered the local area stores, now I have to spread out farther.  The next towns are on my list, and contacting friends through FB, LinkedIn, my blogs, etc. and asking them if they know of bookstores where they live that would be interested in carrying copies of my book.  When you are starting out, building the reputation and getting your work known is ALL UP TO YOU!  I know I'd rather be working on the sequels, but they are going to go nowhere without the first one building a following.  

To that end, I'm in talks with 2 radio stations for interviews.  I'm also putting together press release packages and researching where to send them to (newspapers, magazines, television stations, etc.).  Some are going to go nowhere, others will be given a chance and help get my name out there.  But I'm the one who has to take the initiative and make it happen.  And so do you.  That's how we build ourselves up and gain fans.  

Amazon and Smashwords are great starts, especially when it comes to reviews.  But you need a lot of reviews to get that reputation going.  So far I've got only 6 on Amazon, all of them 4 and 5 stars (split between the Kindle version and the Paperback version).  However, I need a lot more.  If you'd like to see some of these reviews here's the link to see what people are saying.  If you like what you're seeing and would like to help out, please share the link and help spread the word.  That's another method for letting people know you've got a book out.  Using your network of friends and asking flat out "Can you help spread the word?"  And be willing to reciprocate down the road when friends ask you to do the same for them.  Thanks again and take care all.  And keep writing.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


MARCH MADNESS HAS CAUGHT UP WITH ME! For rest of this month, I've lowered the price on e-book copies of my novel "THE BRIDGE" by 25%. You can find it at Amazon and Smashwords for the format that suits your e-reader:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Today's Guest Blogger Michael Brookes

I'd like to welcome my guest blogger Michael Brookes who will be discussing book covers.  In particular, he'll be addressing how he chose the cover for his new book "CONVERSATIONS IN THE ABYSS".

Cover Me:

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the cover is the gateway to your book. Whether it is a paperback or a Kindle download, the cover is usually the first thing the reader sees. A good cover attracts the reader’s interest. Hopefully it interests them enough so they read the blurb (that’s a whole other topic!) and then purchase the book.

It’s also a part of the publishing process that I enjoy. Not as much as writing the book, but it’s still a fun part of releasing a book. I’m no great artist, but as I’m writing I usually have some idea of what I want the cover to be.

That’s the first stage of the process. You need something strong. The cover not only needs to attract attention, but convey what the story is about.

For ‘Conversations in the Abyss’ much of the story is about a character who creates his own tableau of a Parisian cafe alongside the abyss. In this case the abyss is a river of souls that acts as a border between his mind and the next world. I felt this was such a strong image it needed to be the cover for the novel.

A great idea, but I bumped into another key aspect to creating a good cover. It needs to be achievable. As already mentioned I’m no great artist. I am lucky enough to work with talented artists in my day job and I realised I couldn’t do the idea justice.

By this stage the book had been sent off for a final edit pass so I had time to focus on the cover. I needed something simpler, but still strong enough to represent the story. I trawled through stock photography and illustration sites looking for inspiration. I tried a few ideas, but nothing worked. I was still fixated on the idea of providing a sense of location. Unfortunately the key locations are fantastical, so finding the right images was impossible.

The breakthrough came when I changed my approach. The main character steals a miracle that grants him immortality, but the miracle wasn’t intended for him, so it comes with a price. The price is a fire that burns all through his body. This suffering is a key part of his experience. Coming from this angle I found a couple of key images that when combined provided the concept I wanted.
Or rather it gave me two concepts I wanted.

I liked the subtlety of the first concept, although as somebody pointed out it would get lost when displayed on the Amazon web site. That raises another point, the cover needs to work where it is being used. So for the e-book I’ll use the cover with the fiery background. I’ll use the white concept for the print edition. The best of both worlds!

Finally the cover needs text, the name of the book and who the author is. Naming a story is an art in itself, I was lucky that the name triggered the story so I didn’t have to worry about that. When it comes to typography I’m a great believer in keeping it simple. The text needs to be readable above all else. At a glance you should be able to read the title. In this online age you also need to be aware that the cover will be displayed at small sizes, so zoom the image out and make sure you can still read the title and author.

Finally let’s touch on the tricky subject of licensing. Make sure you are allowed to use the images and fonts you pick. It’s not too expensive; I paid £25 for the images I used and have a suitable commercial licence for them. Check the terms and conditions of the sites you get your images from. Don’t just download images you find on the Internet without checking, you might be creating a legal problem for yourself.

In the end I didn’t get the cover I thought I wanted, but I did get the cover that I am pleased with and I hope will sell the book. I hope you agree.

Conversations in the Abyss

‘Conversations in the Abyss’ is the sequel to the 5 star rated supernatural thriller ‘The Cult of Me’
Stealing Lazarus’s miracle gifted him immortality. Combined with his natural ability of invading and controlling people’s minds this made him one of the most dangerous people on Earth.
But the miracle came with a price. His punishment was to be imprisoned within the walls of an ancient monastery and tormented by an invisible fire that burned his body perpetually. To escape the pain he retreated deep into his own mind.
There he discovers the truth of the universe and that only he can stop the coming Apocalypse.
Buy now from Amazon:

About Michael Brookes

Michael Brookes is an Executive Producer with a leading UK games developer. Working in games and writing are two of his life passions and considers himself fortunate to be able to indulge them both. He lives in the east of England, enjoying starry skies in the flattest part of the country. When not working or writing he can sometimes be found sleeping. Which is good as that is where many good ideas come from.

Other Books by Michael Brookes

The Cult of Me
For too long he dwelt apart, watched those who passed him by. With his unique abilities he entered their minds and inflicted terrible suffering upon them. They didn't even know who he was. The game has lasted for years, but now the game has become stale. On an impulse he decides to make a final and very public last stand. After surrendering himself to the police he enacts his plan to seize the prison for his final bloody act. 

There he discovers that he's not as unique as he once thought.
An Odd Quartet
A quartet of dark short stories (10,000 words) to thrill and chill.

The Yellow Lady
Grave robbing is a dirty business, in more ways than one. When he disturbs the grave from a childhood scary story he discovers it's not always treasure to be found.

This Empty Place
At the heat death of the universe, Death contemplates his existence.

Forced Entry
Terrorists seize an average suburban house. A Special Forces hostage rescue team is sent in and encounter more than they were trained for.

The Reluctant Demon
A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.

And Another...

Wow! Another 5 star review for "THE BRIDGE". And in this case, I KNOW the reviewer had one of the earlier flawed 1st editions. Most of the errors have been dealt with in the current 2nd edition (which for the record is kind of a 3rd edition really).

I made changes once before and still didn't get a lot of the errors , luckily only 1 or 2 people got free review copies of that version which I was starting to call the 2nd edition.   Then I went back and edited AGAIN, to create the current 2nd edition which has been gathering most of the more recent 5 star reviews.