When you Walked Back into my Life by Hilary Boyd

A moving story about a woman who, having suffered a nervous breakdown after the love of her life left her suddenly and without a word, has started to piece together a quiet existence, unable to countenance building a new life without the man she loved. When her lost lover walks back in to her life as suddenly as he had left it, she is angry and afraid to trust him again but eventually gives in to the love that had always remained and they try to pick up the lifImagee they had before.

However, conflict soon emerges between the life that her lover has envisaged for them and the new life she has built for herself and which she is not so sure she wants to give up.

This is as much a story about a woman’s journey towards strength and independence as it is a love story and it is one that is told with style.

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

This is Kelly’s best novel so far.

IImagef you preferred The Poison Tree to The Sick Rose then you’ll probably like this. If you’ve never read anything by Erin Kelly then this is the one to read.

The characters in The Burning Air show a return to the type of damaged yet vulnerable characters that we met in The Poison Tree, occupying a grey area of moral ambiguity, neither entirely good nor entirely bad. Many of the characters do bad things for what they believe are good reasons, even if we can see that their reasoning has been damaged by the events that have shaped them. I have read some reviews that claim that the characters are one dimensional and do not develop. I find it hard to understand how anybody could come to this conclusion. So much of the book is about character and the way its development can be nurtured or stilted by those around us.

The story essentially revolves around two families, the MacBrides and the Kellaways. The MacBrides are wealthy and privileged whereas the Kellaways, although perhaps intellectually equal and from a similar background, are a single mother, her son and a distant relative who live on the edge of poverty. Throughout the story there are parallels between the two families that raise questions about the nature of entitlement and how privilege effects society’s perception of it.

It has been a long time since I have read a novel that really made me think but this did, and it is quite a good plot too!

The Runner and the Saint by Dave Duncan

This is a book that grew on me the further into it I got. The author demonstrates a fluid, intelligent writing style and I considered it to be very well written.Image
It is very much a plot driven story with only brief descriptions of the characters and their surroundings, rather than paragraphs devoted to a single mountain. This isn’t literary fiction; the focus is on the action. Neverthless, the main character is likeable and believable and there are some hints towards the end of the story of character/life developments in later books. However, at 118 pages, it is quite short and I think that there was room for developing some of the relationships and allowing the reader to get to know some of the lesser characters. The plot itself is well constructed and, although slow to start, carries itself through to a plausible and satisfying conclusion, albeit one that leaves the way open for a sequel.
At times, I found myself having to delve deep into my memory to recall the meaning of some of the specifically Scottish tribal terms used or the historical/social significance of piece of the text and I think, without a basic understanding of Scottish history and tribal traditions a reader might find some parts difficult to understand and enjoy, particularly with regard to the meaning of some of the ancient titles and social positions. There is a very brief explanation at the end of the book (which I think would be more useful at the beginning) but I think that a few in text notes would be more helpful.
Apart from that, my only other criticism is regarding the front cover, which seems too modern for the story and would ordinarily have put me off.

The Doing Nothing Update

Well I gave it a try. I decided to go with a marketing strategy of doing nothing.

It as been 5 months, during which time I have sat back and watched what happened (with a bit of writing and real life going on in the background). I didn’t tout my books in any way at all: no ‘buy my book’ tweets, no KDP free promos, nothing. I didn’t even update the blog.

How did it go I hear you ask? Did your sales nosedive? Do you regret such a silly experiment? The answer to these questions is ‘no’. Whilst I did notice a steady but slow decline in sales via Amazon, this appears to have been matched by an equally slow but steady increase in sales via other outlets (only possible because I had withdrawn the books from the KDP select programme). This was achieved despite a social media silence with regard to marketing, which leads me to the conclusion that it is less effective than some would have us believe.

However, I have a confession to make. During this time I did try some less overt marketing. I succeeded in making one of my titles free via all outlets (in the USA at least – I’m having more trouble getting Amazon UK to price match). Whether it helped or it didn’t, it required little effort on my part so I’m happy to stick with it.

Author seeks readers

CofusedAsk any indie author what their least favourite part of the job is and they are likely to say “marketing” or “getting people to read my bloody books”.

There seem to be an infinite number of tried and tested marketing strategies, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Joining social networking sites, acquiring a huge following of fellow authors and touting your wares at them on a daily basis.  This method seems to work best for the self-publishing how-to books that expound the virtues of it.
  • KDP Select Kindle promotion days when you give your work away for free. The disadvantages of this method are that you cannot sell your books in digital form anywhere other than Amazon for three months and, perhaps more frustrating, that the free promotion days themselves have to be promoted!
  • Having a large portfolio of work for sale and keeping one title permanently free so as to attract new readers who will, hopefully, like your writing so much that they will buy all your other work. It works particularly well with the first in a series of books and is a great way for talented writers to demonstrate their skill and build a fan base. Alas, even this is not without its problems. Firstly, there is the difficulty in getting the books free on Amazon (a significant player in the game whether we like it or not) as it can take weeks to get them to price match. The downside is that the author really does need a significant portfolio to make it worthwhile. Nevertheless, still probably the best option if you can do it.
  • Getting all your friends and family to write glowing reviews and generally doing all kinds of other things to skewer the ratings of your book. Do I even need to say that this is the least likely to succeed in the long term? Readers are becoming very good at spotting desperate marketing tactics and are likely to be put off no matter how good your writing is.

There are any number of articles that analyse the relative success of the various methods and so many of them conflict that I have come to the conclusion that doing nothing might be just as effective as anything. I wonder if I have the nerve to give it a try.

More iPad: Using Scrivener and Pages…

I use Scrivener for my writing projects and I love it. However, since I got an iPad earlier this year, I’ve been looking around for a way to work on them while mobile. It seemed like an impossible ask and I was about ready to give up and switch to a different application. I’d even bought an app which, although nowhere near as good as Scrivener, held all documents online and was available for the iPad.

I’m so glad I found this post before I went to the trouble of migrating all my projects to the new app. It’s early days yet but it looks like it might be exactly what I’m looking for. Thank you so much to Todd Kersh for sharing his expertise.

Guest Post by Jay Wilburn

Today, I am very happy to introduce author Jay Wilburn to talk about his current Indiegogo project.


My name is Jay Wilburn. I am a teacher and a writer. I am not new at either pursuit. I’ve spent about sixteen years in the classroom between grades fourth through eighth in each of the academic subjects. I was also a stay at home dad for the first year of my first son’s life. I worked nights busing tables to pay for that adventure. A lot has happened in education from when I was a first year started teaching some seventeen years ago.

I started writing when I was a kid. I started publishing a few years ago. I have a few stories under my belt in various anthologies and with various publishers. I write columns for a couple different groups too.

I want to accomplish something different from I have created in the past.

I am attempting my first indiegogo campaign. I’ve set the bar high on the goal because I want to make the most out of my current work. I want to begin to create a community of readers and fellow writers around the work and its promotion.

The novel connected to the project is The Great Interruption. It follows the life of a young girl through different time periods in her life as she grows up through a significant world event. Everyone she knows seems to mysteriously vanish leaving her alone in the world to fend for herself for half of her life. Then, she has to deal with jarring return of all these people into the world they abandoned just as mysteriously and destructively as they left. The main character must try to unravel the mystery of what happened even as she struggles with her own place and identity in a world she does not understand.

I want the supernatural adventures of the girl’s growing up in The Great Interruption to parallel the jarring act of growing up in the natural world. As we all separate physically and symbolically from our families, we must decide what of them we want to carry with us and what we feel we must abandon on our own journeys. As we return to the places and people we left behind so long ago, we face new challenges. As the world seems to have become shockingly different during our own interrupted lives, the people and places we abandoned or that abandoned us seem to have in some ways stayed unnaturally preserved in a state that no longer serves us. We are left again to decide what to keep and what we feel we must abandon from our pasts sitting right in front of us again.

At the moment, I’m also researching disappearances in our real world. The numbers are shocking. The increases over the last few decades are shocking. I’m also researching the history of solitary confinement and the effects on the human mind and body. Even though our heroine in The Great Interruption seems to have the whole world at her disposal, she is experiencing a great solitary confinement as a result of the great interruption and its strange rapture.

In the future, I’m looking at a much larger project related to the Dark and Bookish initiative I’m setting up now. The success of this current indiegogo project will give me the skills I need to set up a future event that will serve struggling authors, small presses, and independent bookstores. This future project will involve a tour and a documentary.

For now, consider supporting and sharing the project The Great Interruption. For small donations, you can be connected with this novel, its promotion, and its author. The perks include sneak peeks, a copy of the finished work, and possibly ongoing copies of my future works as an author. Take a moment to look and to contribute. Take a moment to pass this on to others as well.

Your support is greatly appreciated.


Review of October Rain by Dylan J. Morgan

An Unexpected Ending

Set in the (hopefully) distant future Imagewhen Earth has long since disappeared into the sun and what is left of its inhabitants have colonised the remaining planets of the solar system.  The main character, having been born and grown up on Titan, is now living and working in the rapidly disintegrating settlement of Olympia on Mars. Working for the Government, his job is to dispose of the City’s undesirables.

This is an easy story to read in a single sitting. It moves on quickly and the style of writing is quite captivating. There is a good balance between action and description with neither seeming to be lacking. I had to re-read parts of it to work out how this was achieved and I think the main reason is that all of the description is very carefully chosen to heighten the tension.

There were a couple of places where I felt that the elements of the plot were a little overstated (i.e. the reader is told after having already worked it out for themselves) but they are so minor that I don’t think they detract from the entertainment value at all.

The story didn’t end as I had wanted it to but it was certainly quite powerful nevertheless.

I liked it. A good way to spend an evening.