Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Ebooks aren't REAL Books... Are They?

Somebody posted this meme in a readers' group I belong to on Facebook, and I just rolled my eyes and thought "Here we go again...."

I rolled my eyes because images like this always come with this implied declaration: "Digital books aren't books." And, sure enough, the comments came thick and fast, just as I'd predicted: 
  • "Books are better than digital because..."
  • "Digital isn't real reading..."
  • "Those [digital publications] aren't real books."
And just like a few people commented, I'm so sick of this debate. Are you saying that you'd rather people didn't read at all, unless they read books printed on paper?

Let me make this clear:

  • Paper books are books, but I don't read them because my eyes are too bad, plus I find them inconvenient, and cumbersome to lug around.
  • Digital books are books, and I read them exclusively for a host of reasons that I won't get into here, but have explained to death elsewhere.
  • Audiobooks are books, but I don't like them, personally.
  • Books on Microfilm are books
  • Books on papyrus are books
  • Books scratched into bark are books
  • Books on wax tablets are books (even if they probably won't last too long)
  • Books chiselled on stone tablets are books
They're all books. Consume them in whatever format makes you happy. But never state or imply that any of the above are not real books - even with some seemingly innocuous comment like "I prefer books to digital".

What I'm more concerned about, to be honest, is when people use "Kindle" as a generic term for "ebook", because some of those comments were actually written as "Books are better than Kindle because...."

I wish we'd stop doing that; it isn't fair to all the other ebook retailers out there. Kindle isn't the only way to consume ebooks, and Amazon isn't the only company that sells them... hell, they weren't even the first to sell them! I can think of at least ten other companies, many of whom were selling ebooks long before Amazon, but are now defunct, because people wouldn't stop equating "ebook" with "Kindle".

In fact, it's no secret that I think Amazon and their draconian business practices are terrible for the whole industry - particularly with their "Kindle Unlimited" service. I spoke a bit more about that in my post Why I Will No Longer Buy Books From Amazon, If They're in KDP Select / Kindle Unlimited, and then again in Want to Read/Listen to Unlimited Books/Audiobooks, Free for 60 Days?, where I mentioned Scribd as a great alternative (which has actually been around longer than Kindle Unlimited has).

So what do you think? Are ebooks "real books"? How about audiobooks? Let me know your stance and why, in the comments... if you dare.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

When is Romance not Romance?

This is a follow-up to my post last week, In Which Genre Would You Put These Books?, where I spoke about how difficult "genre" was to define. The title of this one may sound like a brain-teaser, riddle, or joke, but hear me out.

Because all of my books are published and distributed through Smashwords, I like to follow Publishers' Weekly's Smashwords Bestseller list. This list tracks the top-selling books each month, both on Smashwords' own site, and all the retailers they distribute to.

I don't write romance, so I'm often frustrated by the sheer number of Romance titles on the list. Case in point, the April 2019 list. There are 25 books on the list, and literally. the top five bestselling books on that list are all Romance. Then Romance appears again in positions 7, 9, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, and 24. That's a total of 14 Romance titles, on a list of 25. For those of you who are mathematically challenged, that translates to 56%!

There's no doubt that Romance is a massively popular genre, with loads of devoted readers who devour books at a rapid clip (often reading entire series in a single day), and I've often wondered how we non-Romance writers can possibly hope to break into those coveted top spots. But something someone said to me last month shocked me to the core.

You see, many authors, hoping to capitalise on this enormous popularity, apparently deliberately miscategorise their books at retailers. They create tenuous links in their minds, where if their book happens to have a romantic sub-plot, they can call it Romance. Sometimes, even an incidental love interest will do -- but I'm willing to bet 99% of all fiction has one of those.

No. I was always led to believe that a book can only be called Romance if the main plot depends on the Romance. If the story wouldn't be able to stand without the Romance element. Was I wrong?

I decided to test this theory out. So let's take those top five books from the April list, read through the descriptions, and decide for ourselves whether they're in the right category.

Here we go:

Note: You can click on the covers to find out where you can buy each one. You'll notice that all but one of them are available on Scribd's subscription reading service. If you're not already subscribed, they will give you the opportunity take out a 30-day free trial. Please don't click on that link. Rather use my affiliate link, which will give you 60 days instead (and I'll get 30 days of free time as a reward for referring you). So if you're interested in taking Scribd for a test drive, click here for my affiliate link.

Best I've Ever Had

By Abbi Glines

Summer had returned. The nightlife lit up the coastal town of Sea Breeze, Alabama with scantily clad sun-kissed bodies, live music, the smell of fresh cooked seafood.

Taking it all in, he wondered if coming back had been the best thing. He wasn’t the same man who had driven out of town a year ago on the motorcycle he’d bought after his best friend’s wedding. From the messy blonde curls he’d let grow out, to the tattoos now covering his arms, part of his chest and even the side of his neck, it all represented a part of his journey.

Eli Hardy was back, but he didn’t plan on staying for long.

The Slow Burn

By Kristen Ashley

Tobias Gamble knew from a young age precisely the kind of woman he was going to make his. She was not going to be like his mother. She was going to be like the mother he claimed. 

In other words, she was going to be just right.

And when Toby returns to his hometown of Matlock, Kentucky and claps eyes on Adeline Forrester, he knows she’s the one.

The problem is, his brother Johnny has a new girlfriend. And Addie is her sister. Last, Toby would do nothing to hurt Johnny’s chance at happiness.

Toby hangs around town to get to know the woman Johnny fell in love with. He also hangs around to get to know Addie.

But he’s fallen hard, and he knows the best thing for him—and Addie—is for him to leave.

Addie Forrester is thrilled her sister Eliza found a good, solid man. Johnny Gamble is the salt of the earth. The best guy in the world.

The best except for his brother, Toby.

Toby doesn’t know it, but Addie’s fallen hard too. He’s perfect, except for the fact that he’s hands off and it’s torture, being friends with Toby when she wants so much more.

Addie also has a lot on her mind. She’s got bills to pay, her young son needs food, Christmas is coming and her job at the grocery store just isn’t cutting it.

Toby is steering clear of Addie. Addie is steering clear of Toby. But everyone around them knows this is the slow burn.

Because just like Eliza and Johnny, Addie and Toby were made for each other.

Unforeseen (Vampire Awakenings, Book 9)

By Brenda K. Davies

When Jack escapes the vampires holding him captive, he thinks his biggest worries are finding his friends and avoiding the Savages pursuing him...until he stumbles across Charlie. He’s not sure what’s more dangerous, the vampires hunting him or the woman who harbors more secrets than the island where he’s trapped.

Charlie wasn’t expecting Jack to fall into her life, but now that he has, she doesn't know what to do with him. She can’t leave him behind to be hunted, but her growing attraction to him frightens her more than the Savages. Though Jack’s a tempting distraction, love has no place on this island, and Charlie refuses to let him get in her way. She’s escaping the island—with or without him. 

Can they work together to survive the horrors of the island, or will they perish like so many before them? 

Broken Silence

By Natasha Preston

It has been four years since Oakley, her mum, and brother fled to Australia. With the trials looming, she makes the decision to return to England. Oakley is desperate for closure so she can put the past behind her and move on with her life. 

How will she cope when she comes face to face with the two people that hurt her the most, and the one person that she hurt the most? 

Her love for Cole never faded, but how will he react to her return after so long? Will they be able to put everything behind them in order to have a happy ending?

The Roommate Agreement

By Emma Hart

Let your homeless best friend stay with you, he said. Being roommates will be fun, he said. It's only temporary, he said.
He never said I'd fall for him.

You know what isn't 'temporary?' The endless stream of dirty socks in my bathroom and empty food packets under the sofa—and don't even get me started on the hot guys who take over my living room every Sunday to watch sports.

I can't take anymore. 

So I propose a roommate agreement. One that will bring peace and order back to my life, complete with rules that might just stop my newfound crush on my best friend in its tracks.

After all, there’s only so many times you can see your best friend naked before you start to lose your mind.

Rules. They're meant to be broken... Aren't they?

So, I must be honest, having not actually read any of these books. If I look at the blurbs, they all do seem to fit - except maybe the vampire one, which I think may be a bit tenuous. And if I look at the covers (even/especially the vampires one), they all seem to fit - except for Slow Burn, whose cover is quite generic.

It seems like I was misinformed about how widespread this problem is. Either that, or miscategorising your book doesn't work because readers are smarter than that, and won't buy it (so it won't get on these bestseller lists). Or, perhaps they're better than I thought because the blurb and cover fit the genre, but if I were to actually read the book, I'd find that it actually didn't.

What do you think? Do you think authors do this, and if they do, does it work for them? And have you read any of these books? Do you think they fit the genre?

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

In Which Genre Would You Put These Books?

You know what subject keeps coming up? Genre. Like, what does it mean? You get Thriller, Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Comedy... and so many subgenres in each. And each one seems to mean a different thing depending on who you are. It's so confusing.

Just the other day I was having a discussion with a friend about whether a popular Fantasy series could rightly be called Sword and Sorcery (I said it couldn't, because Sword and Sorcery stories had to be simplistic affairs with one hero(ine) going around slaying monsters with little moral consequence). This led to a much bigger discussion about what constitutes High Fantasy, with me saying High Fantasy just implies stories set in a created world, but with him saying that a story had to be particularly well written or have some literary significance before it could be classified in that genre.

With that in mind, dear reader, I ask you - what's your favourite genre, and how do you define it?

Furthermore, I'm going to present my own books to you, and ask you to weigh in on which genre you would put them in. I've already made a call for each and put them into specific genre-based categories on the various retailers, but after having these discussions, I'm not so sure if my decisions were right. I'm not going to tell you which categories I chose for each because that might bias you. Please comment at the end of this post, and let me know what you think.

By the way, if you need more information to make your decision, you can click on the covers to visit the books on my website.

Memoirs of a Guardian Angel

Have you thanked your Guardian Angel today?

I never did... now I wish I had.

I now understand the hard work and difficult situations they face every day. That car that veered off course, the knife that slipped or even the close call when you nearly tumbled from a tree.

It wasn't good luck that saved you, it was me.

My name is Adam and I'm a guardian angel.

Tales From Virdura

Explore Virdura, a world of fantasy, drama and magic.

  • Find out what happens when a dashing young farmer’s son sweeps a neighbouring daughter off her feet.
  • Meet Queen Tricia and the Royal Wizard Solon. Or Queen Celeste, her daughter, as she continues to struggle to come to terms with her new role as queen after the death of her mother.
  • Read about Tobin the Bounty Hunter as he takes down Jarvis, a merciless criminal who brutally slit a blacksmith’s throat.
These stories and more await you in Tales from Virdura, a collection of flash fiction stories that take you deep into the world and the lives of the characters who inhabit it.

You can read this book as a companion volume to A Petition to Magic, find out more about favourite characters and meet new ones within the Kingdom.

You can also enjoy the stories separately from the original short story.

Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-- Hamlet (1.5.167-8)
A perfect introduction into the inner workings of the weird mind of Graham Downs, this collection of flash fiction paranormal stories contains:
  • The Thing in the Window,
  • An Automatic Decision,
  • Telepathic Link,
  • The Witch of Wellington, and
  • The Christmas Bird.
All have been newly edited and polished since publication on his website in 2014, and some with new endings.

It also contains the never-before-published story, Under the Sheets, about an old woman who believes she is being haunted by a strange ghost, living under her bed.

Billy's Zombie

Young Billy MacIntyre has always been a weird kid, always taking every little slight to heart.
One day, he decides to exact his revenge on all those simpletons who have done him wrong. And he does it by taking a book of Necromancy out of the library, and raising a zombie from the dead!


Thirteen-year-old James Clarke is always being picked on in school. He hates sports, and he particularly hates Stingers, a schoolyard game in which children throw tennis balls at each other. The other kids always seem to throw the ball harder, when it's at him. His physical education teacher, Mr Evans, has no sympathy for the boy, believing he just needs to toughen up a bit.
When James returns home from school after a rough game of Stingers, his mother is mortified when she sees the bruises on his arm and chest. She phones the school to try and put a stop to the cruel bullying of her son.

But her phone call only makes things worse, as the bullying escalates to levels that nobody imagined possible.

Stingers was first published in the charity anthology, "I am not Frazzle! And other stories for grown-ups".

Heritage of Deceit

While surfing the Internet at work, Lloyd believes he's found a relic from an old genocide. If he's right, the artefact would be worth a ton of money, and it will give lots of people closure when they find out what really happened to their families.
But there's one problem. The artefact--if it really exists--is in the possession of Carla, a shy woman in the company's Accounts Department, and she never lets it out of her sight.

Lloyd seeks the help of his friend and fellow employee, Robert, whom Carla is desperately in love with. Will Robert agree to use Carla's feelings for him to get information about the mysterious object?

A Petition to Magic

"Graham Downs opens the door to a fantasy world in his short story, A Petition to Magic, a world of emotions, trust, self-searching and enchanted characters that will definitely leave readers wanting more."
Queen Celeste rose to the throne of Virdura a month ago, after the sudden death of her mother.

Desperate to prove herself, she agrees to hear the case of a simple farmer who claims a neighbour stole his cow.

To help her in this task, she orders her chief advisor, the royal wizard Solon, to cast a spell and divine the truth for her. Solon, however, is keeping a terrible secret. He is unable to perform any magic, and he cannot afford to let the queen find out the reason why.

So what do you think? Care to give your opinion on which genres you think fits each of the above books?

Especially Stingers. It's Young Adult, sure, but that's not a "genre", per se. Other than that, what is it? It's not a Thriller. It's not really a Mystery. It's certainly not a Romance. And it's set in modern times, so it's neither Fantasy nor Science Fiction. What would you call it?

(Image credit R M Media Ltd. See the original here.)

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Do You Pirate EBooks (Redux)

The quickest way to get a reaction out of any author these days is to mention one word: "piracy". About four years ago, I ran a poll here on this blog, where I asked my readers whether they regularly pirated e-books. The results were quite telling, back then (click here to see them), but the landscape has changed significantly since then, and the topic has reared its ugly head again in recent months.

Whether it's technically true or not, many authors can't help but see piracy as nothing more than simple theft, and often blame rampant piracy of their books for their financial woes -- particularly if they write full time and rely on income from book sales to support their families. Others who've kept their day jobs, swear that were it not for piracy, they'd be writing full time by now. And still others have given up writing altogether, believing it's not worth creating art at all anymore if people are just going to steal it.

A more concrete, provable consequence is that many authors, who are enrolled in KDP Select, have found themselves in breach of contract with Amazon, because their books have appeared on pirate sites. Sure, this is one of the reasons why I refuse to support Kindle Unlimited (see my blog post about it, here), but that still doesn't justify piracy.

All this means that it's impossible to have a reasonable, dispassionate discussion with authors about piracy, and if you're a pirate who feels justified, your situation will fall on deaf ears, almost guaranteed.

So I've created this new poll. And it's completely anonymous, and super simple -- it'll take you under a minute to answer these questions, and I will never know who you are.

Please click one of the options below, and then click the Next button to tell me: do you pirate books? If you answer Yes, you'll be presented with a single additional question, to help me understand why.

 Similar to last time, I'm going to leave this poll running for a while. I'll close it down on 25 June 2019, to give me some time to crunch the results, and then I'll post those results here in my blog post on 2 July.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Want to Read/Listen to Unlimited Books/Audiobooks, Free for 60 Days?

If you can't get Kindle Unlimited where you live, or you find Audible too expensive, you might be interested to know that Scribd lets you read/listen to as many books/audiobooks as you want for $8.99 per month.

Normally, you'd get 30 days to try it out, but if you use my affiliate link, you'll get 60 days instead (and I'll get 30 days for referring you, whether you end up paying or not, so help a fella out, will ya?)

What is Scribd?

In case you didn't know, Scribd is a subscription reading service. It's similar to Kindle Unlimited, only it's available in more regions, and unlike Amazon's counterpart, it doesn't require authors/publishers to make their books exclusive to Scribd (if you want to know more about that, read my post on Why I Will No Longer Buy Books From Amazon, If They're in KDP Select / Kindle Unlimited).

What is Kindle Unlimited?

If you don't know what Kindle Unlimited is, either, it's very similar to something like Netflix for movies and TV shows, or a music streaming service like Spotify or Google Play Music: you pay a flat monthly fee, and you can read as much as you like. There's no time limit for reading a book, and there's no limit to how many books you can be reading at a time. And you can stop reading a book if you decide it's not for you, and start a new one, etc. Authors/publishers earn royalties when you read their books.

You can read the books on their website, and/or you can install their app on your phone and/or tablet, and everything will sync up, so if you read a bit on the website, then switch to your phone, you'll be able to pick up exactly where you left off on the other device.

Tell Me More...

Scribd costs $8.99 per month, and normally they give you 30 days free to try it out. But if you use the link I put in this blog post, you get 60 days free instead (and I get a free month for referring you).

Sadly, you do need to put in your credit card details to sign up, but I can tell you they really don't charge your card before your trial is up. And you can cancel before then, and it'll never be charged.

By the way, if you're into audiobooks, they've got those, too.

Note: It is very important that you use my affiliate link to sign up. If you just go to the website and click the "Sign up" link, you'll get a 30-day trial, but using my link, you'll get 60 instead.

Psst! My books are all available on Scribd, so please read them if you do decide to sign up. ;-)

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Significant Changes on my Website. Go Take a Look!

I took some time over the past few weeks to work on my website a little. I fixed some niggly issues that have been bothering me for a while now, and also added a cool scrolling books "carousel" on the top of most pages.

Being a software developer, I find it really freeing that I can code my website completely from scratch. Most authors just use a Content Management System like Wordpress, but the advantages of doing it my way are that a) I don't have to fight with what's available in Wordpress to achieve what I want, and b) there's no code on my site that I didn't put there.

If you've never visited my website, I urge you to take a look. Here are the changes (I'm specifically not including screenshots - you'll have to go look for yourself):

Collapsible Menu on Mobile

If you browse the site from your desktop computer, there's a menu bar at the top. It has few enough items that they all fit on a screen. However, if you'd visited it from a mobile phone before, you would have noticed that this menu was always displayed, and "wrapped down" to take up half of your vertical screen.

This has now been fixed - you now see the traditional "Hamburger" button at the top-right of the screen, and you can click it on your mobile phone to expand or collapse the menu.

Link to Privacy Policy on Mobile

Another thing you've undoubtedly noticed, if you've ever browsed the site from a mobile device, is that the "Sharing Buttons" are docked to the bottom of the screen. But at the very end of all pages, there's a link to read the Privacy Policy. The problem was, on mobile, you could never see that link because the sharing buttons covered it.

Also fixed: the sharing buttons are still docked to the bottom, but now there's enough space after the last paragraph for you to be able to read it on mobile.

Scrolling Books "Carousel"

This one's a little different. If you've ever browsed the site from a tablet, or your desktop or laptop, you would have noticed a scrolling "slideshow" of my books docked to the top of every page.  It wasn't visible on a mobile phone, because the slides were too big to be practical on such a small screen.

I completely ripped it out. Aside from it not being visible on a mobile phone, each slide only showed a single book, so there was a lot of wasted space.

It's been replaced with a list of book covers that you can click/touch and drag, to scroll through all the books I've written. It looks way more modern, and it looks just fine on a phone, too.

I hope you appreciate all these changes... especially this last one, which I personally think is really cool! :-)

To visit my website and see them for yourself, click here.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Why I Will No Longer Buy Books From Amazon, If They're in KDP Select / Kindle Unlimited

The other week, I mentioned on a readers' group on Facebook, that I'd be cleaning out my Goodreads to-read shelf, and (among other things) removing all books that were in KDP Select.

I got into a bit of hot water over that, with people wanting to know why. I don't mention it that often on my blog (most recently, I alluded to it in the post Alternatives to Kindle Unlimited), but if you follow me elsewhere on social media, or we share any mutual Facebook groups, you might know that Amazon exclusivity is something I whine about often. It's time I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.

What is Amazon Exclusivity?

In order to fully understand my reasoning, it's necessary that you understand a little thing called KDP Select. Unless you're an author, you've probably never heard of it, so let me explain:

When an author uploads their book onto Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform, they get asked if they want to enrol in something called "KDP Select". If they choose to do this, Amazon gives them certain perks, like higher royalty rates, certain marketing and promotional opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be available, and the option to have their books in Kindle Unlimited (Being in KDP Select is the only way for a self-published author's books to get into Kindle Unlimited).

In exchange for this, Amazon requires that that author's ebooks not be available anywhere else. No other retailers, no digital libraries, and certainly not the author's own website. The author isn't allowed to give their ebooks away, either as prizes for contests or as incentives for signing up for newsletters, etc. And Amazon enforces this policy strictly - in fact, they've been known to ban authors in KDP Select because they happened to find one of those books available for download on a pirate site!

Some authors have no problem with this arrangement, and indeed, it can be very lucrative. The higher royalties from sales, and the additional income from people reading their books on Kindle Unlimited, often more than makes up for the lost royalties at the other stores.

The Problem With Amazon Exclusivity

But there's more to this story, and I personally believe that authors who enrol in KDP Select make a conscious decision to put their own selfish, short-term success ahead of the long-term success of the ebook industry in general.

You see, every ebook that's exclusively available at Amazon is another nail in the coffin of every other retailer out there, struggling to stay afloat. Retailers who suddenly aren't allowed to stock that book. This isn't hyperbole: you might have never heard of Sony E-Books, Diesel E-Books, 'txtr, Oyster, or Flipkart E-Books. These were international e-book retailers who went out of business, and whose demise can be directly linked to them being simply unable to compete with Amazon.

And, of course, those companies had employees who found themselves out of work. And those employees had families who found themselves unable to eat, or who lost their homes. Isn't a little bit of social responsibility called for, here?

Why Would Authors Do Such a Thing?

Now, I understand why authors enrol their books in KDP Select. Maybe for some of them, it seems like a no-brainer. It's certainly lucrative, and plenty of authors make buckets and buckets of money off Amazon, and never consider anyone else. At least, the promise is the potential to make buckets and buckets of money by having their books in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, even if few authors ever actually achieve that.

But, as I mentioned in my Alternatives to Kindle Unlimited article, what about those people who don't have access to Amazon (either because of technical restrictions because of where they live, or because they can't afford to buy books)?

But it works for these authors because we readers have created a situation where it works. Those of us with access to Amazon will automatically go straight there to search for books. If Kindle Unlimited is available where we live, we're going to subscribe to it, because why not? We just don't care about all those other companies struggling to make ends meet. And I have this vision in my head of Amazon laughing maniacally at their fates.

How Can You Help?

I'm not saying don't buy books from Amazon. I'll still buy books from Amazon, if they offer me the best deal on any given ebook. I'm saying you should certainly shop around first, and check what the book's price is on Kobo, or Google Play, or (for self-published books) Smashwords... and if a book's not available on those platforms, think twice about buying it because the chances are high that Amazon isn't allowing them to make it available.

And if you want to sign up for a subscription reading service, use an alternative to Kindle Unlimited, knowing that the books in Kindle Unlimited have been paid for in blood - the blood of all those people and their families who work for Scribd. Or 24Symbols. Or Playster.

Lastly, if this article has moved you, please spread the word. Share it widely on your social media platforms, email it to people, and discuss it with your book-buying friends. I've even met some people who actually had no idea there even were alternatives to Amazon, when it comes to buying ebooks. If you were one of those people, prior to reading this article, then I sincerely hope you've found it enlightening. Please share that enlightenment with others.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

How to Get Books Purchased from Smashwords onto Your Kindle

So you have a Kindle, and you've just bought a book from Smashwords (Or perhaps downloaded it from Prolific Works or some other site). As per the Smashwords instructions, you've downloaded it in mobi format, and now you need to get it onto your Amazon Kindle device.

This is also known as "sideloading", and the easiest way I've found is to use your Kindle's unique email address, and send it to your device that way. Here's how to do it.

(Disclaimer: I personally don't have a physical Kindle device. I only have the Kindle app, installed on my tablet and phone. These instructions should still work, however; if you have a physical Kindle, and know of a better way, please let me know in the comments below.)

First, you need to download the mobi file onto your computer.

Then, visit the Amazon website from your computer. Sign in, if you have not already done so:

Hover over "Accounts & Lists", on the right-hand side, below your name. This will pop up a menu. Then click "Your Content and Devices":

Click on the "Devices" tab, and your Kindle should be displayed in the list:

I have a few listed here because I happen to have several apps installed on several different devices. Depending on your setup, you might only have one. Find your Kindle and click on the ellipsis button ("...") to the left of it. This will pop out a panel with all the details of that device:

Look at the line that says Email. That's your Kindle's own personal email address. Open your favourite email client and email your mobi file to that address.

After it's sent, wait a few minutes and refresh your library on your Kindle. Your book should appear. It'll also show up under the "Content" tab of "Your Content and Devices" on the Amazon website.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

How Many Indie Authors Publish Afrikaans Fiction?

My mother-in-law was up from Cape Town the other week. She reads a lot of Afrikaans stories (mostly romance), and when she discovered she'd left all her books at home, I leant her my old iPad and showed her how to borrow e-books from the library.

I was pleasantly surprised at the selection of Afrikaans fiction actually available on OverDrive (never mind actually owned by the Gauteng E-Library). She read a few of them, and incidentally, I think I've turned her on to the joy and convenience of ebooks! ;)

(Click any of the above covers to view those books on OverDrive. In case you can't make them out, they are Die dood van 'n goeie vrou by Chris Karsten, Die rooikop van Sonnerus by Susanna M Lingua, and Hartklop Omnibus 2 by various authors.)

The problem is, all of those books seem to be traditionally published. Not that that bothers her, of course, but it kind of gives me pause.

So I asked on a writers' group I belong to, if anybody self-published Afrikaans fiction, in any genre. Surprisingly, none of the authors on that group does, but one of them pointed me towards a lady by the name of Francine Beaton (click for her website).

I checked Francine's website, and discovered that she's actually self-published quite a few books in the romance genre. Most of them are in English, but I found two of them in Afrikaans: Blou Somer and 'n Stukkie Blou Hemel.

Click the covers to visit the books' pages on Amazon US (Curiously, they're not available on either Kobo or Google Play, both of which have actual South African stores which sell books in South African Rands).

I'd love to hear from you, dear reader. Do you read a lot of Afrikaans ebooks? Are any of the authors you regularly read self-published?

If you know of any other indie authors writing in Afrikaans, please let me know in the comments. Let's make this post a go-to resource for Afrikaans independent authors!

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Do You Buy EBooks in Rands?

Are you in South Africa? Do you buy ebooks? Consider, if you will, the sheer dominance of Amazon in the ebook market.

If I were to ask you where you bought most of your ebooks, you'd probably say you bought them from Amazon (and if you don't, then I'm glad you've decided to broaden your horizons. Well done!).

Now, think about the fact that Amazon has no South African store. As a South African, you're forced to buy your ebooks from their US store, and pay in US dollars. That means book prices which are heavily dependent on the exchange rate - and effectively change every fifteen minutes - and it means paying currency conversion fees to your bank on top of it.

It doesn't really make sense, does it? To go out of your way to pay more for your books, when there are two perfectly good, reputable sellers, which do sell ebooks in South African Rands, and which are frequently cheaper for us than Amazon.

I'm convinced that many ebook buyers in South Africa don't even know that there are options besides Amazon. Or if they do, buying ebooks from anyone but Amazon has become their Green Eggs and Ham: "I will not do it, Sam I Am."

Memoirs of a Guardian Angel for R9.99

So I guess I should put my money where my mouth is, huh? To convince you to try the Green Eggs and Ham (You might love it), for this week and this week only, South Africans can get my Urban Fantasy novella for only R9.99, all-inclusive.

For you Amazon customers, that translates to $0.71 at the time of this writing. You'd never find it on Amazon for that price because Amazon won't let us authors set a list price below $0.99... and they charge 15% VAT on top of that price, if you happen to live in South Africa. And your bank will charge you currency conversion fees on top of that.

And in case you were wondering (or, if you're a die-hard Amazon fan even now), the Amazon price for South Africans is currently $2.17, plus currency conversion fees. If anyone in South Africa would still click through to Amazon and pay that price instead of R9.99, VAT inclusive, I'd love to know why!

The price is valid when you buy it at either Google Play Books or Kobo (Click on the names to visit the book's page at the retailer). If you own an Android phone or tablet, there's a good chance you have Google Play Books already installed. If you have an iOS-based phone or tablet, or a dedicated Kobo ereading device, Kobo will be your thing.

And when you've bought it and read it, dear reader, please do me the biggest favour: return to this blog post and write a comment about your experiences. How did you find it, compared to Amazon? Was it a better experience? About the same? Worse (and if so, in what way)?

Try the Green Eggs and Ham. I'm sure you won't regret it. :-)

Oh, and did I mention, you don't even need a credit card to buy ebooks from Google Play in South Africa? You can pay cash at stores all over the country for Google Play vouchers, which you can then apply to your account, and they work for ebooks too! (You could conceivably buy vouchers for Amazon, but you need a debit or credit card to buy them in the first place... or someone to buy them for you in the States, and send them to you)

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

My most viewed blog post of ALL TIME was a giveaway

Since I'm still on leave, I don't have any new content for you today. But I thought it'd be fun to go look at the most viewed post of all time on this blog, and share it with you.

I was expecting (hoping) it to be an evergreen post, like my list of OverDrive libraries in South Africa or something, but alas, no.

The most viewed post of all time on this blog is the post entitled Short Story MEGA Giveaway from 27 June 2017, and it had a whopping 1595 views!

Go ahead and click on the image above to view that post. While some of the giveaways are no longer active, many are. And even if they aren't, I'm sure if you just Google the book in question, you'll find it for sale (if not free) somewhere on the Internet.


Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Judging a Book by Its Cover: Urban Fantasy

One of my friends, Stephen Hayes, recently wrote a book called The Year of the Dragon, about a group of Christians during the Apartheid era in South Africa. He wasn't sure how to classify it, but a few people (myself included) told him we felt it was clearly Urban Fantasy.

This prompted him to do quite a bit of research on different genres, and Urban Fantasy in particular, and this past weekend, he wrote this blog post:

I found his perspective interesting, and he particularly points out how the vast majority of Urban Fantasy covers these days feature naked, faceless, male torsos. He used City of Bones by Cassandra Clare as an example... but he's right. Do a quick search on Goodreads for "Urban Fantasy", and you'll see what he means.

This got me thinking about my own Urban Fantasy contribution, Memoirs of a Guardian Angel (Cover pictured below):

Funny enough, when I first spoke to my cover designer for that book, I wasn't sure how to classify it, either.

But she has a good feel for what sells, and after hearing my synopsis, she insisted it was Urban Fantasy, and I should go take a look at bestsellers in that genre and let her know what type of covers I liked.

I did so, and presently told her that the one thing I did not want on my cover was a naked male torso. She laughed and said that since she wasn't partial to those either unless the book was also obviously Romance (which mine isn't), she promised to keep bare-chested people off mine.

I'm really happy with what we came up with. There's a male chest, but it isn't bare. It's quite abstract, but I think it fits nicely among the Urban Fantasy bestsellers - which is an important requirement for a cover these days - and also captures the feel of the book really well.

I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you agree. :-)

Now, we often like to decry the fact that people judge books by their covers, and we often quote the old cliché about how you shouldn't.

But the fact is, people do judge books by their covers, and that may not be a bad thing. Ultimately, as authors, we do actually need to sell our work, and most people want to read or listen in the genres they're used to... and the best way for those people to judge whether a book is something they might want to spend their hard-earned money on is the cover.

Do you agree? And how do you feel about the current trend in book covers, particularly for Urban Fantasy? Can you immediately figure out what genre a book is, just by looking at the cover, and are you turned off buying books because the cover implies the book is of a genre you don't normally read?

Please let me know in the comments below. I'd love you hear your opinions!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Does Your Favourite Author Write Under a Pen Name?

There's been a lot of talk lately in writers' groups, about pen names (nom de plumes, if you still have some culture).

There seem to be a few reasons why an author may choose to write under an assumed name. Some writers say they do it because they write true-to-life stories with characters heavily based on people they know in real life, and they live in tiny communities where it'd be impossible to do that under their real names without ostracising themselves.

Others do it because they're known for writing in a particular genre, and they want to branch out and try something different. Sometimes they don't particularly care if people know (for example,. J. K. Rowling and Robert Gailbraith, or Stephen King and Richard Bachman); it's just a way of keeping their fan-bases separate. For others, it may be crucially important that nobody ever finds out - for example, if they're known for Christian or children's fiction, and they decide to try their hand at writing erotica.

Some women even do it because they write in what's perceived to be a male-dominated genre, and they don't want to give away their gender because they feel it might affect their success. Joanna Penn writes supernatural thrillers under J. F. Penn, for this very reason. It's not a huge secret; she doesn't mind the fact that those of us who already know and respect her as a writer know about it. She just doesn't want random browsers who've never heard of her before assuming she's female and letting that bias them against her.

Come to think of it, I'm sure some male romance and erotica writers do the opposite, and invent pen names that make them sound like women.

One of the authors I respect the most, Rayne Hall, writes under a pen name. She doesn't write anything particularly controversial or taboo, but she still keeps her real identity secret. I don't know her real name, myself. She once said that she does that because she wrote some really terrible, cringe-worthy (in terms of quality, not in terms of subject matter) stuff under her real name when she was younger, and she doesn't want any of her professional writing to be associated with that.

As a reader, does your favourite author write under a pen name (or perhaps they do, and you don't even know). If so, do you know their real name?

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Memoirs of a Guardian Angel Broke Kobo South Africa

I woke up on Thursday morning last week, to the most wonderful surprise an author could ever expect to get: Memoirs of a Guardian Angel was trending in the South African Kobo store:

Yip, I don't know who started it, but the book was being shared all over the place!

In case you can't read it so well, when I took that screenshot, the book was #5 overall in Fiction and Literature, #1 in Religious Fiction and Literature, and #2 in Contemporary Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I honestly can't express my gratitude enough, to all of you who made this possible. I truly have the most amazing readers in the world.

If you click the screenshot above, you'll be sent to the book's page on Kobo, where you can take a look at the current rank. As you'll see, it has dipped a bit since last Thursday, but it's still doing admirably well.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Why You Should Shop Around for EBooks

I mentioned two weeks ago on one of my readers' groups on Facebook, that I was shopping around for the best price on the ebook of Stephen King's The Drawing of the Three.

After checking Amazon and Kobo (Barnes & Noble doesn't sell ebooks in South Africa), I settled on Google Play Books, because it was significantly cheaper than both.

Two people commented on that Facebook post. The first said that she'd pay extra at Amazon, simply for the convenience. The other person said she had a physical Kindle, and was always on the lookout for good ebook deals elsewhere, but she asked what format Google Play Books were in. Unfortunately, they're in epub format, which Kindle can't read, but at least she said it wasn't a massive train-smash; just a minor inconvenience.

Now, this is one of the reasons why I believe Amazon's has severely damaged the ebook industry. There are basically two ebook formats in the world today: mobi, which is readable only by Kindles, and epub, which is readable by every other ereader and ereading app on the planet. Amazon's effectively locked everyone who's ever bought a Kindle into their service, by making it (practically) impossible for them to buy ebooks from anyone else.

But I digress. Personally, I don't own a physical ereader. I made a conscious decision not to buy one because I didn't want to be tied to any one retailer. I buy books from whichever store gives me the best deal. Take A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance. I've bought one of them from Amazon, two from Kobo, two from Google Play Books, and read the best from my local elibrary.

And then, of course, there's Smashwords. With Smashwords, you pay for your book with either credit card or PayPal, and then you can download it to your PC in whatever format it's available. The vast majority of them are available in epub format, then most of them are also available in mobi (for your Kindle), and a few are available as PDFs as well.

There are other formats available too, for people with older Sony-type e-readers, or who prefer reading in plain text or whatever, but in general, epub, mobi, and sometimes pdf are the "Big Two/Three".

They don't have their own e-reading software, because their motto is "Your ebook, your way" - their big philosophy is to allow you to read the book you want, on the device you want, in the environment you want.

Oh, and also further to that philosophy, all their books are DRM free. They don't allow authors to apply DRM to their books.

Which is, incidentally, the only downside (if you can call it a downside). On Smashwords, 99%+ of all the books are self-published (and yes, all mine are there too!). You'd be hard pressed to find any traditionally published books on Smashwords, because Smashwords doesn't allow DRM, and most traditional publishers insist on DRM.

So how about you? Are you locked into, or married to, a particular retailer when it comes to your ebook purchases, or are you free to shop around? Particularly if you don't live in the United States, Amazon's often far from the cheapest.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King (Book Review)

Now this is much more like it!

About a month ago, I read and reviewed The Gunslinger, the first volume in this series. It left me disappointed because it was disjointed and confusing; it told me quite a bit about who The Gunslinger was, but almost nothing about his quest, the object of his quest, or why he was seeking it.

If it had been written by any other author, I wouldn't have bothered, but the fact that "this is The King we're talking about here", and the fact that many members of a readers' group I belong to on Facebook urged me to not give up, persuaded me to give it another go. Besides, even though the first book struck me as nothing more than a teaser, it was still a tempting one!

Well, I'm glad I didn't give up. In his Afterword of this book, Stephen King shares how he thinks that this book is a more "complete story" than the previous volume. I have to agree: it has a coherent beginning, middle, and end, and stuff actually happens to carry the story and characters forward.

Also, in his introduction, Mr King gives a short synopsis of what happens in the first book. And I'm glad of that, because that synopsis actually explained and clarified a few things I was confused about while reading said volume in the first place.

I have a few reasons, though, for not bumping this review up to five stars (although they're not severe enough to bring it down to three):

In the first place, there was a formatting/editing issue in the Google Play edition I read. The convention in this book is to put the characters' thoughts in italics. But in this book, I often found that the italics didn't go away when the thought was over. So, for example, you'd get something like "I'm hungry, he thought." where that entire sentence (including the words "he thought") are in italics. It's inconsistent, of course, so some of them are just fine.

The other two are plot related. The first of these comes in part three (The Pusher). At the beginning of that part, the story sets the stage by relating to some previous events, so you get the distinct impression that it's taking place somewhere in the early '60s. But later, the author remarks that one of the characters keeled over of a heart attack nine years later, while watching The Terminator in the cinema.

Maybe there's a perfectly logical explanation for that, which I either missed or didn't understand.

The second of the plot inconsistencies is also in that third part, but it's much simpler. A cop wakes up to find that his gun, holster, and gunbelt have been stolen. Later, he picks up another gun, and remarks how it won't fit in his holster, and so tucks it into the waistband of his pants. Umm... I thought he didn't HAVE his holster anymore?

Now, despite this formatting issue, and the above two plot inconsistencies, this is a fantastic story, definitely in line with what you've come to expect from the great Stephen King. And if you pick up an edition which contains that "Book 1 Synopsis", there's a good chance you'll be able to forego that embarrassment altogether and start the series from here!

Oh, there's one more thing I noticed. I remember when the Dark Tower movie came out, some racist commented on the YouTube trailer how it was a travesty that Idris Alba should play the lead because Stephen King never said The Gunslinger was black. This poor misguided soul promised to boycott every one of King's books from then on, because of it.

Having never read the books before at that time, my first thought was, "So? I doubt he ever said The Gunslinger WASN'T black."

Well, after reading this book, I have to say, "Hmm, okay, fair enough. He kinda does." The Gunslinger is white, and in fact, this volume makes a rather big deal of that fact, because a racist black woman who hates "honky mahfas" plays a significant part in this story.

I mentioned in my review of the first book that I couldn't help seeing Idris Alba. And so it was for the first 20-30% of the second book, too. Until the aforementioned became apparent. Now I have to re-imagine him all over again....

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

About the Book

Part II of an epic saga. Roland, the last gunslinger, encounters three mysterious doorways on the beach. Each one enters into a different person living in New York. Through these doorways, Roland draws the companions who will assist him on his quest to save the Dark Tower. 

Click the cover above to find out where you can buy the ebook.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Hang Out With the Author - Questions & Answers

Remember that "Hang out with the author" event I spoke about last month? The one where you could win a R500 Loot voucher? Well, it happened on Sunday, and I thought it was a roaring success.

I got asked a bunch of questions. You might be interested in hearing about them:

I have a question! Any other books in the pipeline?

Yes there is, actually. But it's early days. I'm working on a sword-and-sorcery story, that I'm hoping to get to novel length (but it might end up being long novella instead, like Memoirs of a Guardian Angel).

It doesn't have a title yet, but the world it's set in actually the inside of a giant cylinder.

The question all authors hate...name your top three books of all time!

I have two, right off the top of my head:

The first is The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr Seuss. My mom read and re-read that book to me until it was falling apart, and when I got old enough to read myself, I must have read it ANOTHER couple of thousand times. ;)

The second is IT by Stephen King. It is LONG, but there's just so much depth to the world and characters, that it's one of the few books I've ever read, where I honestly got lost for hours at a time, and forgot I was reading a book.

I honestly can't think of another single book. I really enjoyed all The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton when I was in Primary School, and when I was in High School, I discovered Gamebooks, and my all-time favourites were the Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever.

What made you start writing, and when did you?

I've always loved telling stories. In Primary School I was always the guy who remembered and re-told long-winded jokes (I often got them wrong, but that's beside the point). ;)

Towards the end of High School, I discovered tabletop roleplaying, and went from AmeriCHAOS 1994, to Werewolf, to Dungeons & Dragons (various editions), to GURPS, back to D&D. Although I enjoyed playing as a character, I soon found that, more often than not, I got lumped with the job of being the Game Master, telling the stories that the characters would participate in.

I think I wrote my first actual story down in Standard 7 (1994, if my maths is correct). It was a Gamebook about a spy. I can't remember much about it--and the manuscript has thankfully been lost to eternity--but I do remember one scene quite vividly, where you as the main character had to follow a trail of stompies (yes, I actually did call them that!) to track down your prey. :D

The next time I wrote anything creative was quite late, in 2012. I had recently discovered ebooks, and a friend of mine on Twitter had just self-published his first book on Smashwords. I read it and thought, "Hey, I can DO this!"

And so A Petition to Magic was born. I had a dream one night, clear as anything, about a wizard standing in his lab, surrounded by flasks and vials of various coloured liquids, and a giant spellbook spread out on the table in front of him. And that became the central scene in the story.

Does that answer your question? :P

And how are you enjoying the journey of being an author?

My favourite quote of all time is "I hate writing. I love having written."

That should tell you something. ;)

No, seriously, it can sometimes be stressful and frustrating, when the ideas just aren't coming. Other times, they flow out of me and it's the most amazing feeling in the world. Either way, there's no greater feeling than typing "The End" on a first draft.

And, unlike most authors, I think, I love re-reading and re-writing what I've written. As another quote famously put it, "You can't edit a blank page." ;)

I also really enjoy the business end. Tinkering with different marketing ideas, writing my monthly newsletter, talking with other people about what works and what doesn't... and I run my author business LIKE a business, with a set of books, and I report on my finances every month to my e-mail list. That kind of thing inspires me and keeps me going, and makes me feel like my fans are really a part of my journey... and I hope they feel like that, too. :)

When writing a book... do you have an overall idea of the whole story or do you start with an idea and see how it develops?

It's kind of a combination of the two. I don't do a formal outline, like many other authors, but I do tend to have an overarching idea of what's going to happen.

For A Petition to Magic, for example, the whole thing started with that ONE dream. When I woke up from that dream, I had no idea where that scene would fit. I didn't know the events leading up to it, or where the story would go from there. I didn't even know the wizard's NAME.

The more I thought about it, the more those things started falling into place in my mind. I don't think I started writing the book immediately; It was probably a couple of days before I felt comfortable enough to put the proverbial pen to paper (fingers to keyboard, heh). :)

All my other books have followed a similar process. Memoirs of a Guardian Angel didn't exactly come from a dream, but it DID come from a scene my wife told me, where she imagined a guardian angel sitting on top of a car careering down the highway. :D

Basically, I get an idea, and I pretty much just run with it. Even when I do have a basic idea of what's going to happen, that tends to change several times while I'm writing, so by the time I'm done, the ending is nothing like what I'd first imagined.

I guess that's one of the reasons why I take so long to write a book. I like to take my time, and I change my mind loads of times before I'm done.

So do you have some sort of a notebook to jot down ideas?

Honestly, no. I know everyone says writers should keep a journal, but I've never had the discipline for that.

I remember one time, reading something Stephen King said, and it kind of reminded me of my process. Paraphrased, it was something along the lines of how you shouldn't write down your ideas. The best books come from those ideas that just won't go away, and some of his bestselling books came to him that way: he would get an idea, but either dismiss it as stupid, or stick it in the back of his mind while he was busy with something else.

He'd end up forgetting most of them, but some of them would just keep asserting themselves. Sometimes for years and years, before he actually took the decision to WRITE those stories.

I have a couple of those, too. I've got plenty of ideas that I THOUGHT I probably should've written down, but didn't, and have since forgotten all the details. But there are others that I just keep remembering (the book I'm busy with now is an idea that first occurred to me at LEAST 15 years ago, but I didn't think I was mature enough to tell it back then).

It's weird how this process works. :)

Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated writing space?

I do. I'm really lucky to have a day-job where I work from home, so I have an office set up at home with a dedicated workspace. I also have a dedicated "work notebook", and my home machine is a desktop PC.

When work is done in the afternoon, I switch off my notebook and switch my keyboard, mouse, and monitor to my home PC. And that's when the writing begins! :D

Here's a photo of my writing space:

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I can't remember wanting to be anything other than a computer programmer, and that, since probably Standard 1 (1988 if my maths serves me again ;) ).

Only back then, all I wanted to do was write games. I matured a little over the years, but never lost that overarching goal.

And guess what I am now? Yip, a computer programmer! :D

I love my job. But I love my writing career too. I'd never want to give either of them up.

What do you enjoy doing, aside from writing, reading and IT? Any hobbies?

We watch a lot of series on TV. In fact, we've just finished binging five seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I also still roleplay, and go to a monthly Dungeons & Dragons session.

I can see a new hobby maybe coming up in the near future; we're going on a cruise, and I want to play shuffleboard. I've ALWAYS wanted to play shuffleboard! :D

Got any questions that haven't been covered above? Pop them into the comments below, and I'll do my best to answer them!

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The 2019 Smashwords Read an Ebook Week Sale is now on

Every year around this time, e-book retailer Smashwords runs a massive sale, with thousands of e-books either free or deeply discounted.

This year, the event runs from 3 - 9 March 2019. Yip, that's right, it's on now, but you need to hurry, because it ends this Saturday.

Click the image above to view the sales page.

Also, as I do every year, my books will be enrolled. See below for prices, and click on the cover to visit the book's page at Smashwords:








Tuesday, 26 February 2019

And Your Favourite Book of All Time is....

In December, I opened up nominations for your favourite book of all time. In January, the shortlist was out.

Well now, dear readers, the wait is finally over. I can officially announce that you have spoken, and your absolute favourite book of all time is....

That Hideous Strength

by C.S. Lewis

The third novel in the science-fiction trilogy by C.S. Lewis. This final story is set on Earth, and tells of a terrifying conspiracy against humanity.
The story surrounds Mark and Jane Studdock, a newly married couple. Mark is a Sociologist who is enticed to join an organisation called N.I.C.E. which aims to control all human life. His wife, meanwhile, has bizarre prophetic dreams about a decapitated scientist, Alcasan. As Mark is drawn inextricably into the sinister organisation, he discovers the truth of his wife’s dreams when he meets the literal head of Alcasan which is being kept alive by infusions of blood.
Jane seeks help concerning her dreams at a community called St Anne’s, where she meets their leader – Dr Ransom (the main character of the previous two titles in the trilogy). The story ends in a final spectacular scene at the N.I.C.E. headquarters where Merlin appears to confront the powers of Hell.
I must say, I've never heard of this book before, much less the series. But with a whopping 26 488 ratings on Goodreads, it can't be all bad. The series is officially going on my to-read shelf!

If you'd like to find out where you can get yourself a copy, click here.

Well, I think this initiative went well. How about you?

I'll see you in December for the next instalment.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Mind Games by B.B. Griffith (Book Review)

This is another great psychological mystery/thriller, featuring the guy who's fast becoming my favourite fictional psychologist, Dr Gordon Pope.

I enjoyed the story, and it's a fine continuation of the series, but in my opinion, it's just not as good as The Sleepwalkers. It just seemed very slow. It dragged along and I skimmed a lot, and stuff only really started happening around the 50% mark.

Like the first book, the editing was flawless, and I'll say again that what I like about this series is that the book can be read completely as a standalone. You need to know very little about what happened last time, and what little you do need to know is explained to you, when you need to know it.

What's more, I don't think you'd miss out on anything at all if you happened to read this book first, and then moved on to Book One afterwards.

I hope Mr Griffith writes more Gordon Pope, and just so I don't miss it, I even signed up for his New Release Mailing List. I never sign up for other authors' mailing lists!

My Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

About the Book

A deadly game of hide and seek with an imaginary friend. 
A wealthy family with secrets they'll do anything to protect. 
Another day on the job for Gordon Pope.

When Sophie West was a child she used to play hide and seek with her imaginary friend Mo. Now she's thirteen and Mo's games are getting more and more dangerous. She knows he's make-believe, but somehow he seems more real every day.

Sophie's mom, Dianne, doesn't know where to turn for help. Someone is starting fires in their exclusive Baltimore neighborhood, and she's terrified it might be Sophie. Desperate, she calls the only person she can think of that might be able to help.

Gordon Pope is still trying to get his fledgling child psychiatry practice off the ground. When he answers Dianne's call, he thinks he's simply taking on another troubled young patient. What he doesn't realize is that he's about to find out just how deadly Mo's games really are.

To find out where you can get your hands on a copy, click the cover image above.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Want to win a R500 Loot voucher?

I'm so excited! On Sunday, 10 March, I'll be hosting an online "Hang out with the author" session on The Secret Book Club Facebook group.

Not only that, but I've secured a sponsor.

That's right - I'll be giving away a R500 Loot voucher on the day, to use for whatever you want from their amazing range of books, electronics, games, and other goodies.

If you want to know how you can win, you'll just have to attend the event on the day. :-)

Just click the picture above to visit the group. If you're not already a member, click "Join Group" and answer their questions. Wait for your request to be approved.

Once approved, go back to the group, and click on Events. Scroll down to my "Hang out with the author" event, and click "Going".

Then, be on Facebook on the day!

Not in South Africa?

If you're not in South Africa, or you'd much rather buy e-books, fear not! I'll also be giving away a gift voucher for the e-book store of your choice, as well as digital copies of my books. I know you don't want to miss this.

But listen here: do it now, right? So it goes in your calendar, and you don't forget. Follow the instructions above and join the event.

Hope to see you there! And pop me a comment in the form below, to let me know if you're going. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

You'll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron (Book Review)

This is truly a Hallmark Channel drama. To be honest, it was a bit different than I expected too; I thought there'd be at least some paranormal stuff going on. But no, it's just a straight, run-of-the-mill mystery drama).

Not that that's a bad thing. I mean, I enjoyed it. It was a good story. There were only a couple of things that gave me pause.

In the first place, the title didn't really make sense to me (other than the fact that every time I picked up the book to read, the song started playing in my head). There's only one reference to the song in the whole book, and it's very much an aside. I thought it could've been emphasised a bit more.

Secondly, the ending. About two-thirds of the way in, I thought I had it figured out. I hoped I was wrong, though, because I thought if I was right, it would be pretty weak. Unfortunately, I was right, and it just didn't make sense. I just didn't buy the culprit being who they turned out to be, based on what I'd learnt about them and their character for the rest of the book. Unless they're schizophrenic or something. But the book gave no indication that they were.

There were other plot twists, though, which I didn't see coming, and which I really enjoyed.

If you like an old-fashioned mystery-drama, with a feel-good emphasis on the nuclear family, I still think this would be a good book for you.

About the Book

An addictive novel of psychological suspense from the award-winning author of Night Night, Sleep Tight, about three generations of women haunted by a little girl’s disappearance, and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to the truth . . .

Seven-year-old Lissie Woodham and her four-year-old sister Janey were playing with their porcelain dolls in the front yard when an adorable puppy scampered by. Eager to pet the pretty dog, Lissie chased after the pup as it ran down the street. When she returned to the yard, Janey’s precious doll was gone . . . and so was Janey.

Forty years after Janey went missing, Lis—now a mother with a college-age daughter of her own—still blames herself for what happened. Every year on the anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, their mother, Miss Sorrel, places a classified ad in the local paper with a picture of the toy Janey had with her that day—a one-of-a-kind porcelain doll—offering a generous cash reward for its return. For years, there’s been no response. But this year, the doll came home.

It is the first clue in a decades-old mystery that is about to turn into something far more sinister—endangering Lis and the lives of her mother and daughter as well. Someone knows the truth about what happened all those years ago, and is desperate to keep it hidden.

Click the cover to find out where you can get a copy.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Want a Free Romance for Valentine's Week?

So, since it is the month of LUURVE, and Thursday is the day of LUURVE, how about a free copy of my (somewhat) romantic story, Heritage of Deceit?

Here's the deal: the first 10 people to follow the instructions below and use the coupon code get a free copy.

Ain't I nice? :-)

You'd better hurry, though. Those ten copies will probably go fast!

Oh, and ff you've already read it, why not use this offer to gift it to a friend, so they can enjoy it, too? :-)

Here's How to Get Your Copy

  1. Click the image above to visit the book's page at Smashwords.
  2. Click Buy Now or Give as a Gift, as appropriate.
  3. If you don't have an account, you'll be prompted to create one (it's free).
  4. When asked for the coupon code, enter AR89Y, and click Apply Coupon. The price will be reduced from $0.99 to $0.00.
  5. If this is a gift, enter the e-mail address and name of the person you're gifting it to.
  6. Click Checkout. You will not be asked for payment information unless you've also added other books to your basket.

You're welcome, and enjoy the book!