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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Did you buy e-books on Black Friday?


Every year since I published my first book, I've participated in Black Friday, without much success. I don't know if it's just that people don't buy e-books on Black Friday (see the title: do you?), or my books just aren't very appealing, but that seems to be the way it is for me.

This year, I had actually decided to not take part. It just didn't seem like it was worth the effort. But then the admins of The Secret Book Club group on Facebook sent out a message to all resident authors, inviting them to post their Black Friday deals in the group.

If you're not a member of that group, you really should consider joining. There are over 4 000 members, all of whom love reading, and love talking about books. People post funny book memes, ask for recommendations, and review books they've read. It's very well maintained and administered, and the membership is well represented between young and old, men and women, e-book lovers and print book lovers, and lots of different countries.

Although there are many authors, publishers, and book PR people in the group, self-promotion is generally not allowed. Except for occasional, special "Admin Approved" posts. Of which the Black Friday deal was one.

When I got this message, I decided to give it a try. I went over to Smashwords and generated coupon codes, offering 100% discount off all my books there. Then I made a post to the group, where I listed out all the links and coupon codes. I made my deal exclusive to The Secret Book Club members and did not mention any Black Friday deals anywhere else.

If you're a member of the group, click here to see my Black Friday post, and let me know what you think.

It worked out pretty well, I think. People like exclusive deals, so I think the members really appreciated the fact that the deals I was offering weren't available anywhere else.

I "sold" seven copies.

If you're a reader, did you buy any e-books on Black Friday? Why or why not?

If you're an author or otherwise involved in the book industry, did you offer any special deals on e-books? How did you do?

Thursday, 23 November 2017

All Rights Reserved: A New YA Science Fiction Book by Gregory Scott Katsoulis (Book Review)



This is easily my favourite book of the year.

It reminds me a lot of Orwell's 1984 (which I've actually never read, but know enough about to make it feel like I have).

In the distant future, all forms of communication are copyrighted. A shrug more than 2.5cm high costs you money. Crying or laughing, unless you can prove it's involuntary, costs you money. Speaking costs you money. The word "Sorry" costs a flat $10, and is considered an admission of guilt which opens you up to an InstaSuit from the person you're saying it to. The value of other words fluctuate wildly, depending on the market, and some people make it their business to scour those markets and use the cheapest possible words to say what they want to say (which change from day to day).

It's not just communication - all forms of expression carry a cost. There are a few hairstyles still in the public domain, but wearing your hair in any other style incurs a monthly fee. Likewise with clothes.

And the penalties for copyright violation are far-reaching. If your great-grandparents once illegally downloaded a song, you can be held liable to pay damages, or be carried off into lifetime servitude if you can't afford it.

That particular part of the book fascinated me, because the whole idea that people should be held liable, and have to pay for something their long-dead ancestors did reminds me of what's happening in South Africa right now with land reform and Black Economic Empowerment. I know that's not the intent, and in South Africa's case, the motivation is ostensibly more altruistic, but it goes to show how easily things can get out of control.

And everything in this dyspotia is out of control. And it's not too far-fetched, either. A couple of tweaks to copyright law here, a few fudges of Free Speech there, and we're on a slippery slope. You already can't technically sing the melody to "Happy Birthday" without paying someone royalties. All the rights holders need is a way to enforce it so that it's not prohibitively expensive to collect, and you'll have to pay $100 whenever you sing it at someone's birthday party.

Scary stuff.

Editing-wise, it's no worse than some of the bestsellers I've read, and it's better than most. But I long to read a flawless book again. It's been a long time since I've clicked that fifth star....

My Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Click here to find out where you can get your hands on a copy.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Need Editing for your Flash Fiction Story? I'm now available on Fiverr


As a multi-genre author of short stories, flash fiction collections, and novelettes, I am uniquely skilled in the English language.

As such, I can provide proofreading of your flash fiction story, in any genre, catching spelling errors, typos, and glaring plot holes.

My own work is written in British English, but I'm fully capable of sticking to American spellings and phrasings if you prefer.

Click here to find out more. It's only $5. :)

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Friday is International Stand Up to Bullying Day

This Friday (17 November) is International Stand Up to Bullying Day, and bullying's a topic that's very close to my heart.

A couple of years ago, I published a story called Stingers. It's a shocking story about what can happen when bullying goes too far, and it was recently taught as a set work in a High School English class in South Africa. Please take a look and consider buying a copy. And if you like it, please share this post with your friends. :)

Click the cover for more information:


Monday, 13 November 2017

The Art of Forgetting by Peter Palmieri (Book Review)


About the Book


A contemporary medical suspense with an engaging romantic element, set in the western suburbs of Chicago. A brilliant author trapped by his crippling amnesia. The only one who can free him, a doctor plagued by his past. When dark forces threatens to quash Dr. Lloyd Copeland's controversial cure, his career and his life, he discovers that falling in love is the ultimate complication. Dr. Lloyd Copeland is a young neurologist who is tormented by the conviction that he has inherited the severe, early-onset dementia that has plagued his family for generations - the very disease which spurred his father to take his own life when Lloyd was just a child. Withdrawn to a life of emotional detachment, he looks for solace in hollow sexual trysts as a way to escape his throbbing loneliness. Still, he clings to the hope that the highly controversial treatment for memory loss he has devised may stem his genetic destiny and free him from his family's curse. But when odd mishaps take place in his laboratory, his research is blocked by a hospital review board headed by Erin Kennedy: a beautiful medical ethicist with a link to his troubled childhood. The fight to salvage his reputation and recover the hope for his own cure brings him face to face with sordid secrets that rock his very self-identity. And to make matters worse, he finds himself falling irretrievably in love with the very woman who seems intent on thwarting his efforts. The Art of Forgetting weaves the suspense of a Tess Gerritsen novel with the heartfelt contemplation of Abraham Verghese. The result is a memorable story that will keep you thinking long after you read the last page.

My Review (4 / 5 Stars)


Rivetting. What a great story.

There's this doctor, a neuroscientist, in truth. He's afflicted with a family curse: every man in his family for generations has succumbed to the effects of Alzheimer's Disease. Because of this, he's made it his life's work to try to find a cure, but he's also foresworn himself to love, because after seeing what his mother went through when his father committed suicide, he never wants to put a woman through that pain.

When he gets caught in some sticky legal situations with his research, though, it's up to him to try and find out what's going on. Is he being deliberately blocked and, if so, why and by whom?

The pacing is just perfect, and the stakes are nice and high. The copy needs some work, but it's very well researched. If you enjoy a good medical drama, you're sure to enjoy this book.

Click here to find out where you can pick up a copy.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Bread and Milk: A Black Friday Horror Story



16:45

Friday at last!

Mark stifled a yawn and glanced at his watch. What a long week. All he wanted to do was go home, crack open a beer and snuggle on the couch in front of the TV with his wife.

His phone vibrated on the desk. He picked it up and glanced at the screen.

Kate:
Hi honey. Would you please stop at the shops on the way home and pick us up a loaf of bread and some milk? Love you.

Mark sighed. He peaked his head over his cubicle dividers. Everyone was still hard at work, their heads down. He supposed nobody would miss him if he snuck out now.

17:32

The parking lot was a mess. At this time on a Friday afternoon? And then it hit him: Black Friday. He groaned. Outside of Christmas Eve, the worst possible day to be at the shops. Why South Africa had seen fit to pick up on this obscene American tradition, he couldn’t say.

After driving around for ten minutes, he finally found a space, as far away from the entrance as it was possible, it seemed.

17:44

As he predicted, the shop inside was a nightmare. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting someone. Glancing around, he saw people pushing and shoving to get at the last remaining items on almost empty shelves. It seemed like there was nothing left. What was everyone still doing here? He hunched his shoulders, stuck his hands in his pockets, and made a beeline for the bread.

It actually wasn’t so bad at the bread racks. There was still quite a bit left, and the crowd had thinned a bit. With a muffled “Excuse me,” he stuck his hand between two women who were arguing over expiry dates, grabbed a loaf, and hugged it to his chest as he headed towards the milk—which of course was all the way at the back of the shop.

17:52

To get to the dairy aisle, he had to go through the toy section. That was quite an achievement. Soccer moms crammed the aisle, bustling to get at blonde haired dolls or the latest robotic dogs. Nobody seemed to pay him any attention as he shouldered his way through.

By the time he reached the milk, the loaf of bread in his hands had been squished to the point where it might have been mistaken for a bag of hamburger rolls.

There were two bottles of milk left by the time he reached the refrigerated shelves, and as he got there, a burly man lunged in front of him. With a “Sorry boet,” he snatched up one of the bottles. Mark reached in and grabbed the last one, before turning to see a woman scowling at him. He smiled a sheepish apology and started towards the checkout lines.

17:58

Standing in the line, Mark groaned inwardly as he saw the massive queue of people in front of him. Many had trolleys fully loaded with electronic devices, toys, and groceries. At this rate, it would take an hour to reach the front. He looked around frantically, to see if there was perhaps a shorter line. There wasn’t.

He spied a coffee display with a sign advertising 50% off his favourite brand. People were literally stampeding to get at that; an old lady had been knocked to the ground. He briefly considered leaving his queue to fetch himself one, but one look behind him changed his mind. At least twenty people were now lined up behind him. Besides, he remembered there was still a full pot in the cupboard at home. Best to stay put.

18:22

Three more people ahead of him. And they didn’t look like they had too much stuff. He’d be home soon.

He felt a vibration in his pocket. He shifted the milk into his other hand and tucked the bread under his arm so he could fish out his phone. Then, realising he’d reached into the wrong pocket, blushed and swapped everything over the other way.

Mark glanced at the screen.

Another message from Kate:
Oh, by the way, babes, are you still at the shops? I see there’s 50% off coffee. Won’t you pick up three pots for us?

Mark hit reply, and hastily typed:
Saw it too. All out. Sorry.