http://www.public-domain-photos.com/travel/paris

It looks the austerity measures announced in France yesterday may give ebooks a boost. Despite the fact that the founder of the fantastically successful Feedbooks is a Frenchman, Hadrien Gardeur, the French haven’t been very quick to take up ebooks. I have my own theory about this. Books from amazon.fr are more expensive than from amazon.com – which is unnecessary and offputting. Being a Kindle owner living in France, I was kindly invited to switch my account from .com to .fr since this would be better for me, apparently. Well, it isn’t. I now can’t get books that are offered free on amazon.com and all the other books cost more. A 99 US cent book costs 99 Euro cents (about $1.20) and others are even more expensive. I’m not impressed and I’m buying most of my books from the brilliant Smashwords.

The official reason for ebook apathy is that publishers aren’t being very enthusiastic about producing them. However, VAT on physical books will be rising from 5.5% to 7% in January, which might help to make ebooks more attractive, for producers and consumers alike.

A last quick word about Feedbooks. This company distributes 3,000,000 ebooks per month. That is mindboggling. And it also offers indie authors the chance to publish their ebooks to be offered free to clients, an offer I shall be enthusiastically embracing as soon as I can.

Week 3 of montoring my sales.

A bit slower this week, with a total of 244 books downloaded via Smashwords and 2 on Kindle, namely 53 x Oh Gran, 73 x The Witch’s Dog, 65 x Escape the Volcano, 13 x DeWitched, 7 x Witching Again, 2 x Oh Auntie,  2 x Oh Grandad, 2 x Oh Santa! and 3 x Beat the Hackers. (Last week I had 422 sales.) But by no means shameful. I haven’t done any publicity on them during the week, so maybe I should. I’m hoping that Oh Santa! will be distributed to Barnes and Noble by Smashwords very soon  now. That should make a big difference to sales. Also, in a couple more weeks’ time, I can shamelessly promote it as a Christmas book. It’s still too early for that I think. I know I’m not feeling very Christmassy just yet

I hope to have another free ebook out during the week – Best of Blog in France. This is a selection of my best blog posts from my other website and I think it’s going to work very well. Watch this space!

 

Following very nicely on from my last post on serialising fiction, I came across an article from The Guardian about the love of the Chinese people for serialised fiction. Apparently 195 million of them are hooked on this ‘original fiction’. Authors post up their stories in instalments on various self-publishing websites. When a particular author gets a certain critical mass of readers, he or she becomes a VIP and from there on, readers must start paying a small fee to carry on reading their work. They pay 2-3 yuan per 100,000 words, roughly 23 cents (Euro). With millions of readers, this is adding up to very respectable earnings. Some of these stories have become video games and TV programmes.

This freemium publishing model is coming to the States. Shanda Literature, the biggest of the Chinese online publishers, is going to set up a subsidiary in San Francisco to test out what it calls its ‘unique business model’ on the American market. It will be attracting American authors as well as offering translations from its Chinese authors.

I suspect that Shanda is on to a winner. I think serialising and charging what are known as ‘micropayments’ is a very interesting idea indeed.

 

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.

 

Well, I did it – just. I got my three Witch’s Dog stories up there on Smashwords in time for Halloween. By a stroke of luck, while hunting for the missing box of Halloween decorations in the loft, I came across a box of old CDs. Amongst them was one with copies of many of my old stories. De-Witched and Witching Again were there, so saving me several hours of scanning the books in. Huzzah!

The Witch’s Dog I’ve already blogged about. It’s now sold 605 copies through Smashwords and is 27,044 in Barnes and Noble Nook Book sales rank. (My non-Halloweeny ebooks Oh Gran and Escape the Volcano are at 12,332 and 17,034 respectively.)

De-Witched, which got its name when the pop group B*witched was in the charts – just a few years ago now! – follows on from The Witch’s Dog. Cackling Carol the witch gets taken into care by well-meaning social workers. Deposited into a squeaky clean flat and with ten years of old age pension to get through (Carol has lied about her age, she’s in her 400s by now!), our witch discovers shopping and the cinema and turns her back on her witchy life – but more importantly on Big Roddy and Broom. What will they do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then comes Witching Again. This final story in the trilogy sees the three friends reunited, just in time to battle with the evil Blue Wizard Egbert again. It’s a tough fight which sees Broom turned into a floor cloth and Big Roddy into a toy dog. Has Cackling Carol got enough magic left to turn her companions back?

The covers are the best I could do in the time and I think are adequate for a free ebook whose main role, apart from providing some free entertainment, is to start getting my name as an author out there. Nessie was slightly more co-operative than when I did The Witch’s Dog pictures. They demonstrate that the books are in a series and give a nice image of a friendly witch’s dog, which is what Big Roddy is.

Did you check out my Halloween poem here?

Below are two stories that any youngsters in your household might enjoy. Change the character’s name if you like. Webmaster Chris will be putting a selection of my stories to personalise up on this site very soon, so do watch out for those.

 

The Witch’s Broom

“That’s it! I’ve had enough of being a witch’s’ broomstick!” spluttered the angry  broom.

It was the morning of Halloween and he had just come back from a quick warm-up flight with his witch. The broom’s witch was called Witch Ella. Most of the other witches called her Witch Ellaphant, behind her back, of course . She was a very tubby witch and every year she got even tubbier because she ate too much pumpkin pie.

“Huh!” said the cauldron. “You say the same thing every year. I don’t know why you make you such a fuss. You only work one night a year, after all. Now, I work every single day. If it’s not stew she’s cooking in me, then it’s some horrid potion or other. And all day long I sit over the hot fire. I really have got something to moan about.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” muttered the broom. The cauldron was right. The broom did complain every year. Well, this year he would do something about it.

He hopped down from the shelf and shook his bristles.  Several spiders plopped onto the floor and scurried away in alarm.

The broom made his way stiffly to the door of the cavern.

“You really off, then?” asked the cauldron in amazement.

By the door the broom stopped to tickle the cat’s ears with a bristle.

“I’ll miss you, Puss,” he said.

The cat opened one eye and purred a farewell, then went back to sleep.

The broom looked at the stretch of countryside before him. He had never seen it in daylight before. It looked beautiful. There were rolling hills, wooded valleys and even some snow-topped mountains far away. The broom’s gaze fell on a dark forest in the distance.

“That’s where I’ll go,” he decided. And at once he leapt into air the and streaked through the cool morning breeze. How pleasant it was to fly without the Ellaphant!

On the way to the forest, the broom flew over a village of white houses with thick, thatched roofs. Every house had a neat garden filled with late blooming flowers. How much nicer than Ella’s scruffy yard!

“How lovely!” exclaimed the broom. He glided down for a closer look. He had just made himself comfortable against the wall when a woman bustled up and grabbed hold of him.

“Come on, broom! Lots of work to do,” she panted and dragged him indoors. “Got to clean up before the children have their party tonight.”

For the next hour the Broom didn’t stop. He was stuffed into dusty corners and poky cracks. He swept cobwebs down and rustled and hustled all around the house.

At last the woman stopped.

“Well,” she exclaimed. “I need a rest before we start on the paths.”

“What!” gasped the broom. “More sweeping  No thanks!”

He leapt out of the astonished woman’s hands and sailed into the sky. He didn’t stop until he came to the forest. He plopped down into a clearing and was surprised to find a row of brooms there. They were leaning against a wooden stand with a notice that said ‘FIRE BROOMS’ above them.

He settled next to them and closed his eyes for a nap. He was very weary. But suddenly the broom woke in alarm to find the air filled with thick, choking smoke. People were shouting! “Fire! Fire! Get   the brooms! Beat the flames out!”

For the second time that the day the broom was grabbed.

He was crashed down onto the red, licking flames, again and again. The heat singed his bristles and the smoke made him sneeze. He was covered in ash.

“Frogs legs!” he yelped. “I hope this doesn’t go on for too long!”

At long last the fire was out. The people sat down for a rest. The broom decided it was time to leave. He didn’t want to go through that again!

He swooped into the sky and headed quickly for home. Today had shown him that being a witch’s broom wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Ella was out in the yard looking for him. Puss purred happily when she saw her friend again.

“Aha!” Ella croaked. “I thought you would be back. It’s nearly time to go”.

She glanced up at the clock’s skeleton hands. “But there is just time for a couple of spells. First of all, broom, you need to be spruced up. And then I need to be slimmed down. I’m not surprised you flew away. I hadn’t realised what a lump I’d become! You’ve taught me a lesson!”

Side by side, they waddled into the cavern. The broom was looking forward to Halloween after all!

 

Patrick and the Giant Pumpkin

 

It was nearly Halloween. Patrick was very excited. He was jumping around in the hallway, waiting for Mum to come home. She had gone to town to buy a pumpkin. Mum had promised to buy an enormous one.

At last the car drew into the driveway. Dad and Patrick opened the door and watched as Mum opened the boot and lifted a beautiful orange pumpkin out. The only trouble was – it wasn’t very big at all. It was a tiny little pumpkin!

“I’m sorry,” said Mum, seeing Patrick’s sad face. “It was the only one I could find. All the shops have sold out of pumpkins. But look. It’s a lovely, round one. We’ll be able to carve a super scary face onto it. We’ll do that tomorrow.”

Mum put the pumpkin on the kitchen counter. Patrick kept running in to look at it, hoping it might have grown a bit more. But it stayed the same size. Patrick decided it needed some help.

First he decided to water it. He knew that watering plants helped them grow. Mum was busy in another room, and Dad had gone out so the coast was clear. Patrick quietly pulled the stool over to the sink. He got a jug out of the cupboard, then climbed onto the stool, turned on the tap and filled the jug. Next he pushed the stool over to where the pumpkin was and poured the water over it. The water sloshed all over the pumpkin and the counter and the floor and Patrick. But the pumpkin didn’t get any bigger.

Next Patrick decided to feed the pumpkin. He’d heard Dad talking about feeding his plants in the garden. But he wasn’t quite sure what they liked to eat. He went to the fridge and looked inside. There was ham and liver and butter and cold sausages and bacon. Patrick didn’t think the pumpkin would like those very much because he didn’t. But there was some lemon jelly and chocolate mousse. The very thing for a pumpkin! Patrick got them out and  helped himself to a few licks! The jelly and mousse went all over the pumpkin and counter and the floor and Ruadhri. But the pumpkin didn’t get any bigger.

The only other thing Patrick knew was good for plants was soil. He couldn’t go outside on his own so he went into the lounge. There were three pot plants in there. He carried them into the kitchen very carefully. He pulled the plants out and put them in the sink on top of the washing up to keep them moist. Then he tipped the soil out of the three pots. The soil went all over the pumpkin and the counter and the floor and Patrick. But the pumpkin didn’t get any bigger.

Maybe he should just leave it for a while. That might do the trick. So he went to his room to play.

While he was playing, Dad came back. He’d been to the greengrocer’s shop in the village. He’d seen some pumpkins there. He’d gone out and bought a much bigger one than the one Mum had got.

He took his pumpkin to the kitchen. He gasped when he saw the mess. He nearly started shouting because he knew Patrick had done it. But then he realised what Patrick had been trying to do. He chuckled. So he cleared the mess up off the counter and the floor and repotted the plants. Then he put his pumpkin where Patrick’s had been. He hid the little pumpkin in the cupboard. Then he went off to find Mum.

Patrick decided it was time to check his pumpkin. He could hardly believe his eyes when he saw how much it had grown. Wait till Mum and Dad saw it! He was about to rush off and tell them, when he stopped. Seeing that just a little bit of water and a little bit of food and a little bit of soil had made it grow this much, well, just imagine how much bigger it would get if he used more water and more food and more soil. And there was plenty of water in the tap and loads of food in the fridge and lots more potted plants round the house.

Patrick rolled his sleeves up. He was going to have a very busy afternoon. He loved Halloween!

 

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 …

 

As promised last week, every Monday I’ll update you on my ebook sales. I hope it will be an interesting exercise and at least give you one set of figures to compare your own sales/downloads with. You’ll notice the bar chart on the right of this web page which reflects these sales. Chris installed this nifty little widget for me.

This morning, at roughly 11 o’clock, we had the following figures:

Oh Gran! (free)       830 (757 last week = 73 downloads this week)

The Witch’s Dog (free) 483 (336 last week = 153 downloads)

Escape the Volcano (free)  372 (235 last week = 137 downloads)

Oh Auntie! (99 cents)  25 (24 last week = 1 sample downloaded, no sales)

Beat the Hackers (99 cents) 9 (7 last week = 2 samples downloaded, no sales)

Oh Grandad! (99 cents) 13 (9 last week = 3 samples plus 1 sale with coupon code so it was free!)

 

No changes on Kindle sales. 🙁

 

So, the week’s best mover with 153 was The Witch’s Dog, my fun kid’s story for Halloween. A close runner up was Escape the Volcano with a pleasing 137. Booby prize goes to Oh Auntie! with just 1 sample. (Shame, it’s a super little story!) Total downloads for the week were 370, which is pretty fair really.

I’ve issued Smashwords coupon codes for Beat the Hackers (TQ44P) and for Oh Grandad! (LP43H) so you can get those ebooks for free at the moment with those. I’ve Tweeted them but need to keep doing so to get some more downloads.

See my Smashwords page here to get copies of my ebooks.

Who Put the Eye in the Pumpkin Pie? by Stephanie Dagg

It was Halloween, about half past three,

We were sitting down to have some tea.

Mum had made a big, plump pumpkin pie,

But when she cut it open, she found … an eye!

Now as you might guess, that spoilt the meal

And gave it a very creepy feel.

Suddenly no one wanted to eat

That yummy, scrummy Halloween treat.

Mum went mad, she totally freaked,

She roared, she screamed, she yelled, she squeaked!

She glared at us all to try and see

Who had shoved an eyeball into the tea.

But none of us there had an empty socket

Or eye-gouging tools hidden in a pocket.

We weren’t the culprits, we weren’t to blame.

Was this just some ghastly, ghoulish game?

We wondered quite where to begin,

When the door burst wide and a witch flew in.

She was hunched and so bristly it made you itch,

It was Wicked Wanda, the One-Eyed Witch!

She swooped and shrieked. “What’s this I spy?

You guys have got an extra eye!”

She grabbed it and poked it into place

In her warped and wrinkled witchy face.

No sooner had she left the room

Than a mummy stepped in, fresh from the tomb.

He was followed by bats, a frog and toad,

And the mad professor from down the road.

“Has anyone seen my eyeball bomb?”

He asked. ”The wretched thing has gone!”

As we opened our mouths to tell the truth,

We heard a loud bang from the roof.

We rushed outside, and crikey! Jiminy!

Witch Wanda’s remains were stuck to the chimney!

As her tattered hat floated to the ground

We grimly, glumly gathered round.

So the moral of this tale, my dears,

Is that Halloween can end in tears.

So do be warned, please be advised,

To stay clear of eyes in pumpkin pies!