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 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to have been matched by an equally slow but steady increase in sales via other outlets (only possible because I had withdrawn the books from the KDP select programme).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.

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.

The Devil of Echo Lake by Douglas Wynne

The Devil of Echo Lake sounds like a familiar tale: struggling musician sells his soul to the devil in exchange for fame and fortune.  However, don’t be misled, this story is far more than that, with twists and turns that are really quite inspired.  The author’s biography states that he has worked in the music industry and I certainly had a sense that he knew what he was talking about when describing Billy Moon’s world.

 I felt that the protagonist’s character was very well developed with enough insight into his past and thoughts to enable me to care about him despite his many faults.  Jake too, is a well rounded character, with his own conflicts, who I grew to like very much.  My one complaint with regard to the characterisation is that I would have liked some of the other characters to have been developed a little more.  In particular, I felt that the antagonist was pure bad.  I suspect that this was a deliberate choice on the part of the author to add weight to the idea of him as the devil incarnate but, personally, I would have liked a little more history, especially towards the end of the story.

 The plot is certainly very good and the subplots are woven into it seamlessly with plenty of suspense throughout.  If, like me, you enjoy trying to guess where it is all going then it’s definitely for you.

Will I Never Learn?

My main priority for today is to find somewhere to go on holiday. As usual, I have left it until the last minute. The same thing happens every year, the arrival of August nudges me into action and, after a desperate internet search to find somewhere, I swear to be better organised next year.

This year, I don’t even have any idea what part of the country I want to go to. You would think that this would make the search easier, giving me more chance of finding somewhere that still has places available at such short notice by extending the net. It doesn’t.

Have you ever tried an internet search for ‘bed and breakfast uk’? I’m not sure I even know how to say that number. Even if I decide that I want to limit my travelling time and narrow the search to places in england I have a choice of over 58 million websites. Now, I’m not the world’s greatest statistician but even I know that that is more than the country’s population so I think there might be a bit of doubling up going on.

So now what? I try some of the links but hardly any show availability. I narrow my search some more. How about Norfolk? Ok, so it’s where I go every year but there must be a reason for that, right? Hmm, we’re still in the millions. Pick a town, any town. The pin in the map says Cromer. Yay, we’re now down to a little over a quarter of a million. Manageable, sort of.

Start clicking. Find a b&b that I like and, knowing full well that they will be fully booked, I reach for the phone. I was right. I return to the list. It’s going to be a long afternoon. Time for a cup of tea.

Next year, I’m booking in January, I swear.