I mentioned blovels in a previous post. These are novels that are being serialised on people’s blogs. Stu Noss’s was the first I came across, and I’ve since discovered another great one here. Misty Provencher is presenting her blovel Cornerstone on her website a chapter at a time.

I love Misty’s attitude. She explains she decided to become a blovellist after losing her literary agent, failing to find another one who had the same vision as she did, and generally becoming frustrated at not being read. She says:  “But I have a million books in me and I’m tired of having so many barriers between us. I’m just looking for those folks who are my people and who will get into the book and find some joy in it. I hope it brings you that. If it does, please let me know. Tell others I’m here.”

It’s all about the writing for Misty and I totally agree with her point of view. I’ve hit my head against brick walls enough times during my authoring career and I just want my books to be read too. That’s partly why I’m putting so many up for free on Smashwords at the moment. And Misty, my house is never clean either!

A third blovel, very new, is here. I shall be following this one too. And am I tempted to do a blovel? Yes, I am, so watch this space.

Almost blovels are ficlogs, or fictional blogs. I’ve heard about these but haven’t found a good example of one. Whenever I do a search on the Net, the search engine is convinced I want clogs and isn’t terribly helpful!

Now, as well as novels on blogs, there are novels on Twitter. Seriously. Here’s a nice article about it. Writing such a story is really a lesson in learning what to leave out. It would certainly be a very valuable exercise in writing concisely to produce such a novel – Twovel, perhaps? A Twovelist writing in this way is Aden Moss. And there’s a book out there called The History of Rock and Roll in 99 tweets  Ebook By Andy Szpuk  but isn’t in Kindle format at the moment. I’m ignoring epub for a while since Barnes and Noble wouldn’t sell me a Nook Book the other day because I don’t live in the US. Crazy.

Books are serialised on Kindle too. The most famous example is Sean Platt and David Wright’s Yesterday’s Gone. As Platt says, “serialized fiction has been around since Dickens. It just means taking a single storyline and breaking it into several parts to fuel anticipation between episodes.” Other authors are doing this too, notably Roz Morris. But there are pros and cons. We’re the instant gratification generation and don’t want to be kept waiting. A lot of readers want all the content at the same time and don’t want to have to wait a week or a month till the next episode. However, there are plenty of fans of serialised works out there too.

So, the modern inventions of blogs and Twitter might be leading to a return of serialisation in fiction. It will be interesting to see how this all develops.

 

 

I signed up for NaNoWriMo but it’s already obvious I won’t be getting far with it. It was a tad overoptimistic on my side since I knew I had a couple of non-fiction projects to finish and which took priority. And various rooms in the house have reached critical mess and urgently need dealing with. So NaNoWriMo has become NaHoTiMo for me – National House Tidying Month. I shall defer my novel in a month endeavour until January, my NaJaWriMo. The immediate advantage there is that January has 31 days in it – 1 more than November – and also only one national holiday in it here in France, as opposed to two. Also the weather will be a darn sight worse and it will be much easier to be indoors writing.

I’ll still do some fiction writing though – plenty of ideas bubbling around in my head.

OK, sales update time. I’ve fed the new figures into the bar chart on the right. Here’s a summary:

Oh Gran 898 (last week 830 – weekly movement 68, prev week 73 so fairly steady)

The Witch’s Dog 627 (last week 483 – weekly movement 144, prev week 153, so again consistent)

Escape the Volcano 489 (last week 372 – weekly movement 117, prev week 137, again steady)

Oh Auntie 30 (last week 25 – weekly movement 5, prev week 1)

Oh Grandad 19 (last week 13 – weekly movement 5, prev week 4)

Beat the Hackers 12 (last week 9 – weekly movement 3, prev week 2)

 

New kids on the block since last week:

Oh Santa! 11 on Smashwords, 1 on Kindle

De-Witched 51

Witching Again 37

 

That’s a total of 442 books moved for the week, pas mal! All sales/downloads except one have been through Smashwords. Come on Kindle readers, buy my stuff! See my Smashwords page here.

 

Oh Santa!, my latest kids’ ebook, is up on Smashwords here. I’ve also published it on Kindle Direct Publishing, so you can get it from Amazon.com here, from Amazon.co.uk here, and from Amazon.fr here. It’s on Amazon.de too. It’s priced very reasonably so go on, treat yourselves!

I actually priced it at 99 cents on the French site, but I see it’s selling for €1,14 which is puzzling. I’m assuming some kind of tax has been shoved on. This brings me on to my pet grumble about Kindle book pricing. I switched my Kindle account from .com to .fr with Amazon, as they recommended I should since it would be better for me, bla bla, but all that’s happened is that I now have to pay more for my ebooks. Ones that are advertised at 99 US cents on the Net are priced for me at more than two euros. They don’t cost me that since I don’t buy them from Amazon – I track them down on Smashwords (the vast majority are there), buy them for the 99 cents there and then email the file to my Kindle from my computer. And books advertised as free on Kindle end up costing money too.

I’ve downloaded the Barnes and Noble Nook app as another way of getting free and 99 cents books for the proper price. There was one freebie in particular that I wanted, intriguingly entiled The Wee Christmas Homicide. However, I got a bit muddled up with the app and ended up lending that book – I have no idea where it’s gone or if I’ll ever get it back!  I then tried to buy a book but was told my credit card was invalid, which is nonsense, so maybe I won’t be doing that much business with B&N after all!

On the bright side I’ve won three ebooks this week. I’m still waiting for two of them to come, and have been for several days, but The Grimoire Lichgates by S M Boyce is sitting on my Kindle awaiting my attention.

So it’s not all bad in the Kindle kingdom.

No, it’s not too early to be thinking about Christmas – not when you’ve written a Christmassy book that you want to get into all the ebook shops. There are quite a lot out there already and I’m starting to read some so I can publish reviews on this site in a few weeks’ time.

But more importantly – my Christmas book, which is Oh Santa! I’ve just received the cover artwork from Roger Fereday and it’s every bit as fantastic as I knew it would be.Caitlin is adding the title and my name to the graphic as I write this, and then we’ll be in business since the text is ready and waiting.

I honestly think Oh Santa! is my funniest children’s book and I’m sure you’ll love it. It’ll be coming very, very soon to Kindle and Smashwords. Watch this space …

 

My three ebooks are currently being downloaded at a very satisfying rate from Smashwords. The later two, The Witch’s Dog and Escape the Volcano, have just had a very nice boost after appearing on www.getfreeebooks.com. That is definitely a site for indie authors offering free ebooks to know about. It certainly gets results. I’m hoping for another significant jump in downloads once the books get onto Barnes and Noble Nook bookstore.

None of the three books have made it as free books in the Amazon Kindle stores yet, which is a little disappointing. I hadn’t realised it would take so long for them to be distributed to Amazon from Smashwords.

However – despite people helping themselves to the freebies, they’re not splashing out 99 cents to buy my other books. At least not yet! As of Sunday evening, 746 copies of good old Oh Gran have been downloaded, but only 24 samples of Oh Auntie and 9 of Oh Grandad. I’ve yet to make a cash sale on Smashwords!

For me it’s not too drastic since these are backlist titles that I’m getting up and out there mainly to build my profile. I’ve already made some money out of these books when they first appeared in print back in Ireland. But I’d be very happy to be earning a little bit of money from them – as I’ve mentioned on my other blog, I need to keep my student son in pasta!

Then again, I’m just happy they’re being read. All we writers put so much effort into our work with the intention of entertaining and/or informing our fellow human beings, it’s nice to think it’s being consumed, hopefully with appreciation. It’s not an economically viable attitude obviously, but I’m not realistically expecting to make a living from my writing. And since moving to France and drastically changing our lives, taking downsizing to ridiculous extremes, we’ve got used to managing on not very much.

Readers are getting used to being able to obtain ebooks for free. It’s now an expectation. I feel I’m getting my name known, and I think that’s what other indies put their faith in too when they make their work available free of charge.  Will it pay off in the long run? Or we all shooting ourselves in the foot by being over generous and over-obsessed with counting our downloads.

Time will tell …

I love GelaSkins. I’ve mentioned them in my other blog, Blog in France, here. GelaSkins are removable covers for various electronic devices, from phones to laptops, including, of course, the Kindle, amongst other ereaders. (Naff name ereader – can you think of a better one?) As well as prettify your otherwise rather dull gizmo, they protect it from scratches, and from fading due to sunlight.

My kids clubbed together and bought me a GelaSkin for my birthday. Knowing that I’m a Vincent van Gogh fan they chose the skin featuring his ‘Almond Blossom’ design. It looks fabulous on my Kindle.

Admire the GelaSkin, and oh look - it's showing my free ebook!

Here are a few more very attractive GelaSkin Kindle covers to tempt you:

This design is, not surprisingly, called Books

I love Klimt artwork. Here’ his famous Kiss transformed for Kindle:

Another van Gogh design:

The famous café

Here’s the Orion nebula:

And finally another van Gogh (not that I’m biassed or anything):

Starry Night

(All the above pics apart from my photo taken from the GelaSkins website.)

There are loads more designs. I just picked a few of my favourites. And I can vouch for the quality of the covers. My Kindle gets heavy use, and a few months down the line, the GelaSkin looks as good as new. It’s not peeling anywhere, or been scuffed or anything.

I think this a really good product and well priced at $19.95. Treat yourself!

Signs and Wonders by Alex Adena is a fascinating book. Annie Grace is a fraudulent faith healer, although when she was a young child, she once performed a miraculous healing. Her father, Daddy, exploited this and became a very rich man through healing roadshows.

Annie feels like a fraud. A ghost from the past rears its head – Annie faces prosecution for her part in a tragic incident five years before. Two of her employees turn against her. A client secretly taperecords her making tactless remarks. Her latest one-night stand kisses and tells. It seems everyone is trying to bring Annie down. But when it looks like things can’t get any worse, her amazing powers return. The question is, will Annie use them for good this time?

The characters in the story are all rounded and believable. The book is very well written. It’s hard to put down. And events most certainly don’t follow a predictable path.

But there’s more to Signs and Wonders than the story of Annie. As the author says, he wrote it “for everyone who has felt pre-defined by their upbringing and family expectations”. This comes across strongly in the book. Can we change as we grow up, or are we cast in permanent roles as children by the adults around us, whether rightly or wrongly? Should we try and make other people change?

Brilliant book, hugely entertaining and very thought provoking. A definite must-read. Available as a Kindle book from Amazon and from Smashwords. Paperback coming soon too.

Alex Adena has a website here and pages on Goodreads and Smashwords too. He’s a thoroughly nice guy and has given me plenty of useful advice on book marketing, which I’m very grateful for. Do buy his book!

 

 

 

I happened across ‘Kindlegraph’ in some Tweets, so I decided to find out more about it. It’s a way of ‘signing’ a Kindle book for a reader. The website is here.

You log in via your Twitter account and then have to supply the ASIN (the Amazon supplied ISBN) for your book and fill in the inscription you’d like to put. I opted to try the system out with Oh Auntie!  and typed in the dedication: ‘Enjoy the story, best wishes, Stephanie Dagg’. Up came the cover of Oh Auntie! with those words in rather neat handwriting.

So far, so good.

However, the next step took you to another site, docusign, where you had to sign an agreement. You could choose from a list of about a dozen handwriting type scripts. There was one remarkably like my writing. I selected that. Then I read the small print which was along the lines that this signature would become legally binding on documents it was used on, or words roughly to that effect, which freaked me out so I ended the process there.

Am I being a chicken? Plenty of authors are Kindlegraphing. However, I just didn’t like the idea that my electronic signature, floating around in cyberspace, might be used fraudulently without my consent and cause me a lot of trouble.

I guess I’ll think about it a little longer. I don’t imagine there’ll be a massive rush for my Kindlegraph in the imminent future … unfortunately!

UPDATE on 19th August: Kindlegragh creator Jacob Evans contacted me with the comment below. I’ve now found the newer signing system which involves drawing your signature if you wish to. That seems a much less scary way of doing it! Thanks to Jacob and wishing him good luck with this innovative service.

What do you think?

My birthday present from Benj finally made it to France from America. It was a Gelaskin for my Kindle. The design is Almond Branches in Bloom by Vincent van Gogh, my favourite artist.

The gelaskin came on a sheet of card and it was very easy to peel off and stick onto the Kindle. You just need to wipe the Kindle first with a cloth to make sure it’s not greasy or sticky.

I think it’s smashing. It’s not the sort of thing I’d have bought for myself so it’s the perfect present. I shall enjoy using my Kindle even more than ever now!

And on the subject of Kindles, don’t forget you can get my Beat the Hackers for yours from Amazon here!

 

Well, my second book is now up on Amazon in Kindle format. It’s Beat the Hackers, a work of juvenile fiction about hackers and computers with a strong female protagonist. Daughter Caiti designed me a brilliant cover:

And here is a sample from it to whet your appetites. It’s from near the end of the book. Heather and her father Ray are on the run from Domination, a mysterious company that created a universally popular, free anti-hacker software. However, it’s not quite what it seems, and Ray, with Heather’s help, is the only person who can prove it. They have just one possibly ally – Lucien Montgomery, head of Teuthras Communciations. They are meant to meet with him at midday:

Heather wandered over to the coffee bar. She chose four of the stickiest looking muffins they had and ordered two tall, double cappuccinos. She took the heavy tray to a corner table and waited for her father to join her.

They idly watched the passers-by as they ate and drank. Then gradually Heather became aware that they were being watched. She felt a prickling at the back of her neck. She casually glanced around. A few tables away, two people were sitting, apparently minding their own business. But they weren’t ordinary people. The man was tall and blonde and had deep blue eyes. He was immaculately turned out in some sort of designer suit. The woman with him was stunning. She had a beautiful figure and wore a fantastic tailored trouser suit. The perfect couple, thought Heather. Suddenly she stiffened. Perfect. That was it! She thought back to the photos of the perfect people her father had collected when he was researching Domination. Her blood ran cold. These people were too perfect. They were Domination perfect! And they were watching her and her dad.

She glanced away. This time her eye was caught by a tall, good looking man, pretending to window shop a short distance away. Beyond him was another perfect guy, trying to look inconspicuous in an Armani suit and browsing at postcards outside a newsagent’s.

Yes. Domination had definitely found them.

“Don’t look now, Dad,” said Heather quietly, trying to swallow her fear, “but there are some Domination people around. At the table behind us, and two more in the mall.”

Ray almost dropped his cup in alarm.

“What?” he hissed. He glanced around nonchalantly, checking out Heather’s claims. “That’s them, all right. We’re trapped!”

“Stay cool, Dad. Goodness knows how they tracked us down here. But never mind that now. We can run for it, I reckon.” Heather was beginning to make plans.

“We can try,” he said, but without much hope. “Look, I’ll slide you a set of USBs under the table. If we get separated, take these to show Montgomery on your own, OK? If you can’t, never mind. There’s still Marcus to back us up.”

“OK, Dad,” nodded Heather.

Ray discreetly fumbled in his bag and then pushed something under the table towards Heather with his foot. She carelessly leant down, on the pretext of adjusting her sock, picked up the USBs in their bag and slipped them into her jacket pocket.

“Fancy a refill?” she said loudly.

Ray looked at her puzzled for a moment. He was about to say he’d had enough caffeine for now, but Heather winked at him. “Get ready to run,” she hissed. “I’ll slow Mr and Mrs Perfect here down.”

“Thank you, more coffee would be lovely,” trumpeted Ray.

Heather walked up to the counter, passing close to the Domination people. She didn’t look at them, but she could feel their blue eyes on her.

“Two large black coffees, please.”

The counter assistant handed them over. Heather paid and began to walk back with a mug in each hand. She saw her father poised for taking off. She came to Domination’s table. She paused by it. The man and woman looked up at her, intently.

“Here. The coffee’s on me!” cried Heather, and she flung the scalding coffee into their laps.

Pandemonium broke out. The pair leapt up, shouting in pain and shock. Heather had the presence of mind to tip the table over on them too, knocking them down, before she took to her heels with her father. The counter staff began yelling. Out of the corner of her eye, Heather saw the two lurking Domination members in the mall start to run after them.

But she and Ray had a good few metres’ start. If they could just get themselves out of the shopping centre, they’d be able to lose themselves in the crowd outside. The exit wasn’t far. But then disaster struck. Ray’s shoelace had unravelled and sent him flying. Heather could hardly believe he’d fallen over for the second time that day. She stopped and turned back to help him, but he roared at her to leave him.

For a fraction of a second Heather hesitated, uncertain what to do. She didn’t like to desert her father, but the Domination guys were onto them. He was right – she had to go. So with a last despairing look at her father, she turned and fled.

She didn’t stop running for at least five minutes. She barged her way through the shoppers, who grumbled complaints at her. She wove in and out of the crowd until at last she had to pause for breath. She chose a busy corner, close to a flower stall, to stop and take stock.