Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Release Dates

I’ve got dates for my upcoming releases! Yay.

Kissed by a RoseFirst up, Kissed by a Rose, is set for a print release on Monday 29th March. That’s just four weeks away. You can, of course, still pick up a digital edition if you can’t wait. Just follow the links on the Kissed page on my website.

My second Release is Eternally & Evermore, and it will be out on 29th August 2010. Find out more about this exciting new book on my website.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

WIP Update – Slow week

Last week I basically had a week off – from work and from writing. I went across the water to visit the in-laws and so did very little writing even though I had my laptop with me.

I did manage to write almost a whole chapter on the ferry across the channel, but it took me four days to find the time to finish it off. I got back in Blighty on Thursday night to be greeted with a wall of the white stuff falling from the sky when I hit Northamptonshire. Back at work Friday I was obviously in catch up mode, but I did manage to get a half chapter written on Friday evening.

So, I’m now on chapter eighteen, over 30000 words. And I still know where I’m going and how to get there, so all’s good for now. What worries me is that this new piece was supposed to be book one of a trilogy, provisionally called the “Coming of Age” trilogy. Trouble is, the ‘bigger’ story seems to be getting, well, bigger. This might end up being the “Coming of Age” saga rather than trilogy. The other night I tried to rough out the plot of each book in my head and I got up to book five.

Maybe I should do a JKR and try for seven.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Does it work?

My primary e-mail address is with Gmail, or Googlemail as it’s known in the UK (legal issues or something stupid). One of this blog’s outlets is Blogger, which is owned by Google and on that version of the blog I run Adsense ads (I did have them on my website too but removed them). They don’t provide much in the way of income, but, I ain’t about to turn down free money.

Therefore, it was no surprise when Google sent me a voucher for free Adwords ads if I signed up. £75 worth. Ohh. Exciting.

So I opened an account and set up some ads. My budget is 50p a day, which should last me five months or so. Coolness.

To some extent it has worked. I’ve seen traffic to the website increase by between ten and twenty visits a day. And these visitors are being taken straight to my general e-books page or the individual books pages. Indeed, these pages are now the most viewed on the site (apart from the homepage) whereas before it was the free stories page.

Since I started running the ads in mid-January I’ve had three hundred clicks on the ads. That’s three hundred visits to my website that I almost certainly wouldn’t otherwise have had.

But here’s the question – how many of these three hundred extra visitors have actually clicked through and bought a book? And what would be a good ratio of visitors to sales? I’m not even considering a 100% ratio – although three hundred sales would be welcome. Hell, I’m not even expecting a 50%, 30% or 10% ratio. Honestly, if just 1% of these extra visitors have bought a book, it would have been worth while. After all, I’m still running the ads for free right now.

It’ll be a while before I find out what effect the ads have had since the sale figures I get have a two month delay, but I can tell you, I await January’s figures with interest.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Donna Nobel – Simply Brilliant

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I have a weakness for a certain television series featuring a certain alien with two hearts from a planet called Gallifrey. I thought that David Tennant was simply amazing, and I can’t even begin to describe how much I’m looking forward to the new series. From the brief clips we’ve seen, Matt Smith’s Doctor looks to have oodles of energy and with Steven Moffat steering the ship we should be in for a treat. He is, after all, the man responsible for all the best episodes of the revised series, including “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”, “The Girl in the Fireplace” and “Blink”.

But I’m unusual among Who fans in that I, quite simply, adore Donna Nobel.

Donna was introduced in the Christmas special following series two, “The Runaway Bride” and was played by Catherine Tate. Now, I’ll admit that when she turned up in the TARDIS in the last scene of series two, I was as sceptical as the next man. But I actually enjoyed her performance. It was very ‘shouty’ but also had some tender moments of light and shade.

Still, when it was announced that the character was going to come back for series four after Martha Jones lasted only one series, there was a bit of an outcry among Who fans. The thought of putting up with her week in, week out was a bit too much for some people.

As it turned out, series four was easily the best since Who was revived in 2005, and, in my opinion, Donna was the best of the three assistants that The Doctor had. Why? Whenever I state this opinion, people always ask me why.

Well, for me, it’s simple. Donna spent series four acting as The Doctor’s conscience. Rather than just going along for the ride, a little bit in awe of him the same way that Rose and Martha had, Donna actually questioned him. She fought with him. Rose was in love with the Doctor, I suppose that Martha was too. Donna wasn’t, but she and The Doctor were more like a ‘couple’, and an old married couple at that, than either of the other two.

And it’s that sense of conflict between the two that made for such a good series.  After all, I’ve always said, it’s conflict that makes fro great fiction.

So, Donna Nobel, I salute you. Even though many people will disagree, I think you are, simply Brilliant.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Swept Away

It’s been a long, hard week at work. Long, hard and tiring. I’m hoping next week will be a bit easier, but I doubt it. Of course, I haven’t made things easy on myself, staying up late to write.

I know I said recently that I was going to rewrite some of my older stories to bring them up to standard, but that’s not what I’ve been working on. And I haven’t been working on my university based WIP either. No, I’ve started something new.

Last Wednesday I was hit, smack between the eyes, which was a bit of a shock to be honest. JK Rowling has often said that her characters and the basic plot line of the Harry Potter series popped into her head fully formed one day when she was on the train. Well, Wednesday was bit like that for me.

I was driving to work when this group of people started bugging me to tell their story – and they haven’t left me alone since. I’m currently writing at around five thousand words a day, which is unheard of for me, I’m normally at two thousand word a day man at most.

The new story takes place in a small town in my fictional county of Westmouthshire called Micester (pronounced, as the narrator tells us, Mister not My Cester). The narrator is a seventeen year old named Paul and the story follows his final year in school as he hopes to succeed in his A-levels and escape Micester – a town he hates.

I don’t want to give too much away at this early stage, but these characters are driving me to write at a terrific pace and it feels great. I’m going to sleep at night them still in my head saying, “aww, just ten more minutes. Please.”

Let’s hope this pace keeps up. I’ll have this one finished in record time if it does.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

It’s Such an Effort

I had a conversation the other day which made me realise something – I haven’t read a physical book in a long time, probably over a year.

I’ve been mixing up my reading between e-books and printed books for the better part of the past decade – ever since I discovered stories posted for free on the Usenet, then the website StoriesOnline and now e-books. But I never stopped reading physical books. You couldn’t match their portability and there remains something very special about a printed book – its feel, its smell, its… There’s just something about a book that you don’t get from a computer screen.

Then, back in spring of 2009, I got myself a T-Mobile G1 – a Google Android powered smart phone. It was that or an iPhone and frankly I didn’t like the way that the iPhone was tied to iTunes and found the policy of app approval on the App Store to be a bit… well, not in the spirit of things.

And now, on my trusty little phone (sorry, portable communications device) I have the same, in fact better, portability as a paperback book, I can read in the dark (cause the screen lights up) and I can carry around with me a massive range of books as well as being able to access the whole of StoriesOnline. And so I’ve been reading from my phone almost exclusively.

I’ve had Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals on my bedside table since October but the damn thing just seems so big and bulky and heavy compared to my phone that I haven’t bothered to read it. Yes, I know – I apologise, Terry.

However, I truly believe that this year will be the year that a lot more people discover the ease of reading electronically and that e-books and dedicated e-readers take off. The people holding things back at the moment are the big traditional publishers – who for my money seem to be making all the same mistakes that the record companies made when they first faced the prospect of iTunes and other music download services. The world is changing and they have to adjust their business model with it or they will become irrelevant. Just look at the number of e-publishers that are – not all fly-by-nights either. Look at Phaze, they are celebrating their 5th year.

Don’t be surprised, then, when the best seller lists have to start taking e-book editions of titles into account and don’t be surprised when a book that is only published electronically hits the best seller lists.

Times, as they say, they are a-changing.


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