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Monday 25 March 2013

Iceline - $2.99 - BookBarista

 Iceline - $2.99 - BookBarista. listed on the site as Fiction, thriller, ebooks on line with links to major retailers; Apple iTunes, Kobo, WHSmith, Sony, B&N for Nook, and the home base link at Smashwords.com.
While you're there have a look ay what else is available, a wide selection in all genres.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Source material - looking for something original?

Slow word day today, What You Ask For is having one of those days and the word count is apparently going nowhere, a day when staring at the screen seems to be the highest ranking activity, until now that is. The current reading list on the blog needs updating, the listed titles are still being read but I have been distracted. I Recently sat down to watch Disney's John Carter, based on the novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs about the Virginia gentleman soldier whisked away to Mars and his amazing adventures  The byline for the DVD describes it as Star Wars for a new generation;  an interesting viewpoint considering the stories were written decades before Star Wars.

They are very much of their time, and Burroughs makes no apology in his work for that, like all of us who work with words our cultural background and social niceties exert a greater or lesser influence on what and how we write. I downloaded the books from Project Gutenberg, as free ebooks and can currently be found at most opportunities with my nose pressed into my e-reader following the latest tale. 

One description of a particularly loathsome character in the Carter stories flashed a very strong image of Jabba the Hutt, and I started chewing over sources and inspiration, how these two seem to constantly cross fertilise each other. I've used it myself, tucked oblique references into stories, and had readers comment about it.

The mental ramble through this landscape brought me back to my bookshelf and Christopher Booker's "Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories", a weighty chunk even in paperback but the results of years of consideration and an excellent read. The book explores the history of storytelling and compares some of the great and significant stories of the past with their modern siblings.  The premise is that there are seven basic plots, or story-lines and every story is one or a combination of the seven: Overcoming The Monster; Voyage and Return; Comedy; Tragedy; Rebirth; Rags to Riches; The Quest.

The comparison that caught my attention linked an old flood legend and James Bond; in the Seven Basic Plots; the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, among the earliest known stories was aligned with Doctor No, Ian Fleming's James Bond adventure, both are examples of Overcoming the Monster, and similarly the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf stands up with Jaws; Grendel's mother and the shark being the monster. The exploration continues and it is easy to wonder why a work of fiction could ever be called a novel if we, the writer's amongst us are retelling the same story-ies. Novel, something new, and each one searching for that original spark. 

Perhaps we are the spark, the original is the writer and the personal perspective. As witnesses to an event, no two people will tell exactly the same story, some details may match and the general plot will be recognisable but the intimate details of how the tale unfolds will be inspired by our personal story. 

On the slow word days like today, (after this you may wonder what a fast word day looks like) the idea of something to prompt the stream and get things moving becomes attractive. A recent acquisition is a set of story cubes, nine dice with a pictogram on each face, giving fifty four prompts. You roll the dice and use the nine images face up to create a story. An idea of such delicious simplicity it's child's play, and it works, just writing this and thinking about the seven basic plots, nine cubes and the mind-bogglingly huge variables possible kick-started something. Cubes, Borg, Star Trek, Seven, Nine, cybernetic implants, (six things already - and you know where this is going, unfortunately this has been done)
The storyline (of Seven) from the cubes ( Of Nine) is already familiar.

I can always roll the cubes again, and see what they come up with!

Thursday 14 March 2013

Play the game, where's Iceline?

Click the link, type in the URL, the simple way to find anything on the Internet, but what about doing it in a slightly more traditional way. Picture the website in your mind as a bookstore; can you find your novel and how close to the store front is it. The pages become shelves and as in the trad store, the shelves are arranged in sections, labelled with the genre and sub-genre of the books on offer.

Most of the time I have to know exactly where I'm going before I start to find anything on the Internet and the strange hieroglyphic string of a URL can be baffling, take the one for Iceline, my novel at Smashwords.com as an example; https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/216309 (I've typed it at various locations for over six months and I still have to check the details to make sure it's right,). Without knowing it belongs to Iceline there's no clue in the URL as to the book title.

Now let's try the traditional way, sort of, we know the store is Smashwords.com, so that's straightforward enough to find; and the first page is the store front and the key to the store is on the top of the page and the left hand skyscraper, that should narrow down the shelves we have  to search. Iceline is tagged as Thriller and Suspense, so click the listing on the left, go to the top of the page and click Epic (0ver 100k words), $2.99 and units sold, and scroll down the page to find Iceline

So, without the URL we're looking for an epic thriller and suspense novel for $2.99 on sale at Smashwords.com on a shelf close to the store front.

Until the end of March there's a discount code  for Iceline (TA34B) valid at Smashwords for 100% off, and to bag the pair of them and come home with a handsome brace of novels the code for Control Escape is BU95A. play the same game with Control Escape, Thriller and Suspense, $2.99, full length (50K words), and run your eye along the listing.
I've just had a good response back from someone who read Control Escape and wanted to know when they next one will be ready.

Take a look for yourself.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Keep it rolling

There are still Smashwords discount codes available for Iceline and Control Escape, 100% off until the 31st March.
The code for Iceline is TA34B and for Control Escape is BU95A, get hold of one, or bag the brace, spread the word, be part of the action. 

Saturday 9 March 2013

Almost there!

The last few hours of Read An Ebook Week 2013, and the search through the catalogue at Smashwords brings one or two things to notice, Iceline and Control Escape have a good showing in the Fiction - Thriller and Suspense categories; Iceline is hanging around at the bottom of page 1 in the units sold, epic (>100,000 words), RW100 100% off listing; page 2 in the full length (>50,000 words) RW100 100% off and Control Escape is over the page at 3 on page 3 in the full length listings. Like the listing says, Thriller and Suspense, Intrigue and conspiracy.  Not long left for this annual extravaganza, don't be the pumpkin, the codes run out  at midnight Pacific Time tonight, March 9th.
Thanks for your interest, grab one or both, bag the brace, enjoy them!

Friday 8 March 2013

Nano, under a new canvas

I shall slow the posting down next week, less blog and more novel, you might say. Camp Nanowrimo has been announced for April - that's close- and July, which leaves a bit more breathing space.
Camp Nano is the summer outbreak of creative abandon from the people at Nanowrimo, and the itch to get in there and go for another word count challenge is starting to get into my fingers, but I have to finish the Nanowrimo winner from 2012 first, What You Ask for, is still under construction, definitely work in progress and you can help yourself to the story so far over at Smashwords.com. That makes any thoughts of Camp Nanowrimo more likely to be July; it does mean I can start a slow heat on the back burner and see what comes out of the smoke and maybe I'll try something different, have a change from the team at the Grange.
Camp Nano looks more relaxed than the November charge through the novel-ling world, with the choice of word counts, obviously set before you start, and by telling you all this I've just started the process explored by Chris Baty in his book that accompanies Nanowrimo; No Plot No Problem. He tells the story of the first Novel Writing Month and the abandon with which they launched themselves into the adventure totally unprepared (certainly by the usual standards) and went for it, and uses the experience to advise on how to do it and finish the challenge. A prominent piece of advice is tell your friends, garner their support, gather their encouragement and by doing so encourage yourself to stick to it, otherwise you have to explain why it all fell apart.
Their first venture was a few years before I started writing Iceline, under a different title but the method is one which appealed to me, for years I tried the traditional method of plotting and character outlines, spending time working out the storyline and the frustration drove me mad. It all changed with a chance conversation in the local Indie bookstore (Philip Howard Books) about an interview with Philip Pullman. He described how he wrote; working from a start point to a finish, both of which were known but letting the story unfold along the way.
I liked the idea; and applied it to Iceline and for me it works, get the story down on paper and sort out the details afterwards (What to do you mean it shows?). A similar thinking applies at Nanowrimo, the target of 50,000 words in 30 days is an incentive backed by a deadline. The latter in Chris Baty's book is explained as a vital tool, perhaps even the most important one. I certainly noticed the difference when the November ended and the rate of words per day fell through the floor in a pretty spectacular way.
Pre-planning is allowed, but the actual writing kicks off at midnight plus one minute on the first day of the month, and the frenzy follows naturally. The conversations about writing at home tend to be brief, and from my point of view, Nano month or not are usually restricted to the current word count, and the widgets and other devices that can be attached to your blog or website add to the tension.
I thoroughly enjoyed Nanowrimo last year and intend to go for it again this November, the July camp is an added bonus, and will be approached with the abandon required to put the word count down on paper.
Surprise yourself, how you approach either of these challenges, Camp Nano or the full blown November Fest is up to you, but if you have that urge to write a novel and it has been hanging around gathering dust in a cobwebbed corner of life, pick it up and dust it down. Sign up and give it a go. If 50,000 seems to big to start with, have a look at Camp Nanowrimo and choose a word count you think you can achieve (you will be surprised, once the words start flowing how quickly they pour out) and this time next year I may be reading your blog about your novel published at Smashwords, or wherever.
There should be an update on What You Ask For in the next few days, maybe early next week and we'll see where the story has got to, shall we?
The idea of writing a novel, without preparing for it properly, charging in, going live without any rehearsal.
Sounds like being alive to me!
Meanwhile, back at the typeface...

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Area 51?

Area 51 - that got your attention; no, not the place that officially unofficially exists or doesn't somewhere in Nevada, although Google Earth seems convinced it knows where it is, but the 51st area for Apple's iBookstore - Japan. Now open for business
I admit there are certain oriental mysteries about the culture and people of the Japanese islands that have always intrigued me, and a favourite James Bond novel, You Only Live Twice, is set there. The book has a much more exotic element regarding poisons and volcanic vents than the film, but it catches something of the strangeness of the culture.
The news yesterday morning carried a link to the press release announcing the opening and tucked away inside it was a fascinating factoid, a conversational elephant stopper, 130 million iBook apps have been downloaded to iPads, iPhones etc.; now wind it back and run it again. That is a staggering figure, and imagine all that space waiting to be filled with books, 130 million iBook apps, we're already half way through Read an Ebook Week and time to go bobbing in Apple's barrel.
If you haven't had your fill yet, help yourself, my two books Iceline and Control Escape are part of the action this week and the notification emails have never been busier. The discount code until Saturday is RW100, don't keep it to yourself.
A week is said to be a long time in politics, not so when your working through the pages of a book, a week may put ten or fifteen thousand words on the story, more if you're working at it full time - a delightful luxury I'm not in a position to enjoy at the moment, but hey, I can dream.
Be part of it, spread the word.
130 million opportunities for an Indie Author like myself to connect with the reading public: you,  to entertain you, to share the adventures of my characters and hang in there with them through thrills, mystery and danger until  way off in the distance there is a hint of a large lady singing.
Whatever and wherever you're reading, enjoy.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Breakout the Books.

Spot of early morning reading, checking the emails and this blog and the Smashwords blog trumpeted the news, Apple iBookstore in the UK and Ireland (my local iBookstore) is pushing the Breakout Books, 39 of the top 50 Breakout titles are from Smashwords and  the titles are listed in the post.

Hang on a minute here, what are you doing plugging someone else's book? Well, yes, why not. Putting a book together and getting it out there takes a lot of effort and determination, and not everyone who starts the journey finishes. Making that step from "One day I'm going to," to sitting down and mining the typeface, then cutting and polishing the jewels hidden within the prose is a huge one. Being able to pick a book with your name on it, whether off the shelf in a bricks and mortar bookshop or the electronic shelves of an ebookstore is a fantastic feeling. I understand the drive that keeps you working and appreciate when it doesn't, the words dry up and stuff gets in the way.

So what if your storyline is faltering, make tea, coffee, have a beer, walk the dog, have an hour or two in the garden, take a week off, a month, and come back to it. The characters may tell you a different story when you sit down with them again, but go with it and stay the course. When that stack of paper, the manuscript; lies on the desk with an unmistakable, "and now what are you going to do?" air about it, leave it for a few weeks again.

What you do next is an interesting question, the landscape is changing almost daily, Apple are pushing the Breakout Books and other sites are working to promote their writers. the old idea that only one way was the right way is crumbling and the Indie Author is making a mark. Traditional is fine, but true tradition is never static, it changes, because to work it has to mean something; it  has to convey a significant message, and if the message is unintelligible it must change or be left behind. Tradition and storytelling go hand in hand, changing constantly; centuries ago troubadours and balladeers wandered the countryside telling their tales. Now we stay in one place post our comments and stories on the net and they do the travelling, - I like the shaded map of the world in the Stats for this blog that shows where the page views came from, for its journey through the internet and I wonder if there will be anywhere new, a different place where it breaks out on to a new screen for the first time. (Hi there, nice to meet you.).

Yes, I'm giving the other chap a pat on the back, blame it on the rugby football and it's traditions. After ninety minutes of scrummage, ruck and maul, tackles, mud and blood; the defeated side form a tunnel for the victors to walk through and are applauded for the way they played the game, and the victors would return the compliment. Then it is time to get cleaned up and go for a drink together. So here I am, a  Newbie Indie Author applauding the writers who have made it to the Breakout Books, and one day...

Monday 4 March 2013

Don't keep this under your hat!

Spotted this poster on the www.ebookweek.com site, the whole thing is news to me but it's sort of the parent site for all this fun, and I'm having a good time. I loved the atmosphere of this poster and have adopted it; my books are thrillers and this is the archetypal image. Running the whole gamut from The Third Man; the Maltese Falcon etc., all the way down ghetto line. The Give-Aways are going well and the "sales" are encouraging - OK, I've shifted more books in the last twenty four hours than the previous six months, but I'm fine with that. The word from the start was this was a long journey and I'm definitely up for it. I'm enjoying it, and the suspense is there right at the heart of it, wondering when the next ping on the email will log another book on the sales chart.

To all you lovely people who already have Iceline and Control Escape on your e-shelves, thanks for the thumbs up, have a good time with them, I had fun writing them.  Bag the brace if you haven't done so already; I should be cracking on with the third novel, What You Ask For. I'm already being asked when it will be available. It started with the gallop through November and Nanowrimo ( I logged 50,000 plus within the thirty days and the book became a winner) and then it lost impetus and the writing schedule has already been stretched, twisted beyond recognition and lobbed in a corner where it missed the wastebin. What You Ask For is published at Smashwords as a work in progress and free to download; stay with the story if you're following it, and if your new to Steel, Jardine and the people at The Grange, this week is an opportunity to say hello, and have them on me.

There is another story somewhere down the tracks, but that is still working its way out of the back of my mind and the problem with the brilliant idea and the notebook in last night's, or was that this morning's post, is all too familiar; maybe I'll go back to the old style tape recorder and try to look good talking to myself. Generally a fail, even with the ubiquitous bluetooth stuck in your ear. 

As the man in the poster says, this is read an ebook week, don;t keep it under your hat, spread the word and be part of the action; and I'm going to stir up the action in the next book,
 See you soon, I'm off to the typeface. 

Early one morning just as...

Word count, download count, sales figures, for a business that is about words and sentences there are a lot of numbers involved, all useful and interesting, and a bit frustrating sometimes. the interesting bit comes along when you write, post and tucked away behind the website store-front a page view chart spikes. The obvious question is why did that happen, and then the wondering about what it was, if anything that I did perhaps created the spike. The grey porridge inside the head starts to move sluggishly around groping myopically around the corners of an unused attic space where all that information you haven't used since the family stopped playing you at Trivial Pursuit, and occasionally handed your team the edge in the Pub quiz is stashed away. The stuff that stops a conversation the way a field gun stops an elephant
You know the feeling, the bit you're looking for is there and it's brilliant, but you can't pull it out. It has everything a blog piece could want, charm, wit, intellect, and in a thoughtful way provocative - like I said, brilliant. In the end you lose interest and drift off across the internet and the post is forgotten, until you wake up in the middle of the night and try to scribble something down - and the story of the writer who had a notebook beside his bed for just such an occasion and woke up one night with a fantastic plot buzzing in his head, switched on the light; grabbed the notebook and pen and scribbled the idea down. Content that the genius was caught on paper he dropped back on to the bed and was asleep before his head hit the pillow.

Next morning he woke up and checked the notebook; the plot was there, but somehow it lost the magic of the early hours - it read simply Boy Meets Girl!

That is so frustrating!!!

Sunday 3 March 2013

Somebody's reading free ebooks

Is it you, or the person next to you. Are you going to be the only pumpkin in town midnight on the 9th, after all week thinking about it. This is the time for action. That ebook, you know the one I'm talking about; you've hovered on the Smashwords page view for ages, now chase it down. Hunt it across the four corners of the web and bag it. Get a brace of them if they're in a pair, take the trophies back to your favourite chair and enjoy.

Read an ebook

Go on, you know you want to. The week has started at Smashwords, so the code is live and you won't feel like a total pumpkin for jumping the gun. The code is RW100 for free copies of Iceline and Control: Escape, follow the links.

Saturday 2 March 2013

This could be fun - seriously

The annual  Read An Ebook Week is here, this is the first time I've been in a position to take part and it looks like fun, and if something is going to be fun then you have to be serious about it. There is a serious side to it; serious enough for the Canadian Parliament in Motion 239 of the First session of the 41st Parliament to declare March Read An Ebook Month. The host site www.ebookweek.com is worth a look at. The week is featured and discussed on the Smashwords blog,  go for it, dip in and take a look; help yourself to a book, or even stagger out with the electronic equivalent of a shelf full. Your new favourite writer may hiding in the list. The Smashwords Catalogue is open through the week

Be part of the action, spread the word!

Free ebooks for this week

Read An eBook Week starts tomorrow at Smashwords.com, the fifth annual celebration of books on the site, and Iceline and Control: Escape are free for the week. Enter the code RW100 for each book when you go to buy.
What You Ask For is free and downloadable, still a work in progress but updated yesterday.
Go with the links in this post or click on the cover image alongside, but don't forget the code.
(The official start time is one minute past midnight on the 3rd March Pacific time; then the Smashwords catalogue appears, it will disappear at the stroke of midnight pacific time on the 9th.)

You asked for an update - What You Ask For

The latest update for the Nanowrimo winner What You Ask For has just been uploaded at Smashwords.com.

Check out my other books and enjoy a good read. Browse through Smashwords and sample some of the creative talent emerging from independent authors and publishers. Smashwords authors have featured in two recent Breakout book promotions on the Apple ibookstore, in Canada and Australia.

A radio broadcast made last December on the late night library, one of a pair focusing on independent authors, publishers and booksellers and featuring an interview with Mark Coker had interesting points about the spread of the ebook. With over a billion smartphones already out and more and more entry level phone having smart capabilities, each one is a bookstore in a bag or pocket.

The growth of eBook sales over the last few years has been largely centred on the USA, now the focus is shifting and the trends of ereader use and ebook sales are moving to a global level. The interview with Mark Coker can be heard at latenightlibrary.org and was originally broadcast in early December, the following interview with Oren Teicher CEO of the American Booksellers Association covers the agency pricing model and the growth of eBook sales through independent booksellers.
I think both interviews are worth listening to, downloadable as podcasts to be savoured and enjoyed again and again.

Very much like a good book.