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Signed with Riptide Publishing!!

Well, I guess the title says it all, really, but in case you missed it...

As of this morning, I singed a publishing contract with Riptide Publishing!!!



Riptide are a prominent and amazing LGBT publisher and rather brave as they've taken on me and my latest project. I'm incredibly excited to be working with them as they've produced some great titles, some of which have become favourites of mine.*

So, yes, my new project ISN'T a fantasy, of the epic or urban variety, but a romantic suspense/spy thriller thing with two blokes. There's action and intrigue, spies and assassins, an Aston Martin Vanquish and a crazy camel... and some sexy times. I'll update you all with blurbs and covers as they happen, but for right now, I'll give you the title...

Where Death Meets the Devil


I am very excited and scared and hopeful. Fingers crossed everyone else likes the story as much as I do. It's going to be a fun, interesting, nail biting time, that's for sure.

Cheers!!!


* Alexis Hall and Lisa Henry, both awesomely beautiful writers.

Thanks for the happies!!

It's probably not news to anyone that the sale of a book to a new reader is a great thing for the author. Even when that book is offered for free. Each and every download and purchase makes this author happy, and while trying not to show any favouritism, I have to give a special little shout-out to the folks who forked out for a paperback copy--yous guys rock!

Still, what makes me even happier is when this...



...happens. Presumably, someone who enjoyed Blood Work so much they bought not only the sequel, but everything else available as well.

That right there makes it all worth it. It makes me happy to have provided that much enjoyment and entertainment to someone with a single offering they're willing to take that big a chance on everything else.

So many thanks to you, Happy Reader, for making me happy in return. And thanks to everyone out there who's given my weird little story a go. Whether you enjoyed it or not, you've made me smile.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it and to everyone else, be happy!!

Cheers!!

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One of those moments...

So, okay, things have been rather quiet here lately. Totes my fault. Just haven't been in the right headspace for such things for a while now. A long while. That doesn't mean I haven't been 'working', though. I have. Honest! It's a new project, not part of an existing series, and something of a slight departure from fantasy, be it urban or otherwise. Right now, I'm in mad editing mode and getting pretty excited about it, for reasons. ;) Anyway, I had a moment about the new story this morning.

Generally, I will have music playing while I write. Usually the iPod on shuffle, just to have something in the background. If I hit a difficult spot and just can't seem to move past it, stopping and rocking out (or dorking out, more likely) can help. Occasionally, a particular song will sync up with what I'm writing and then it all just grooves along nicely. That was the sort of moment I had.

I'm going to be nasty and not say much about the new project, but when this song...



...began playing, it married up perfectly with the story. Lyrics, music, emotional response (at least in me). If my story were a movie, this would be the credit song*. ;)

Adieu!



* Or this.**



** If you want more hints about the story, go listen to Muse's "Drones".

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Sale Sale Sale!!!

SALE SALE SALE!!

Everything must go!!


Smashwords is having a sale and for the month of July, my books are available at 50% off!


is still FREE!!


will be US$1.50!!


will be FREE!!


will be US$1.84!!


is still FREE!!


is still FREE!!


Just click on the covers and on the Smashwords page for the book will be a coupon code you can use to get the 50% discount.

It's the perfect time to complete your Night Call collection at half the price!! Tell your mum, dad, friends and Dean and Sam!!




But remember, it's for July only and stocks are, well, unlimited. ;)

Couple of Things...

Right, so amongst some other stuff, I have just made Dead Bones available at Smashwords. It can be downloaded in all sorts of formats, so for all those non-Kindle readers out there, now's your chance to grab a copy. ;)

Secondly, the short story I had up on my website, "The Descent", has been removed and is now also on Smashwords with a simple little cover designed by moi (no laughing! ;)). And it's FREE!! I thought it would be much more accessible if people could download it to their favourite e-reading device. It's also now on Goodreads for your rating pleasure.

Hope you all had fabulous festive fun and I'll see you all in the New Year!

Cheers!!

Oh, flush it!

So, in that semi-conscious, dozing, not quite asleep, not quite awake state you sometimes manage before admitting it's time to get up, I had a sort-of dream this morning. In this dream, I had a bundle of books in my arms, paperback versions of the ebooks I've 'indie' published. I was standing in front of a toilet. You can probably guess what happened next. Yes, I flushed the books.

I think I can be forgiven for wondering if there's a bigger meaning behind this 'dream'.

Self publishing a book is relatively easy. Smashwords and Amazon Kindle have very easy to follow instructions on how to get a decently formatted ebook up for sale (content is a different story altogether and not really what I'm talking about here). Inside of a day you can have a story/novella/novel on the market and, if you happen to be one of those lucky ones with supportive family and friends, you could have some nice sales numbers pretty quick. Maybe even a complimentary review or two on Goodreads or Amazon or BookLikes without having to pester people for them.

Then comes the hard part.

Getting your book noticed outside of your personal circle of influence. Getting strangers to look at, contemplate, and then hopefully buy your book. There's advice by the tonne out there about how to advertise your self-published book--blogging; website; joining groups with similar interests as your book; pay-for-click ads on Amazon and Goodreads; paid advertising with a book list like Betty Book Freak or Readers Gazette--and you can follow all of it and end up making decent dollars.

Or you could follow all of it and end up making a buck here or there.

Why? It could be the title of your story, or the cover, or the blurb. Any one of these things could be the reason why no one wants to buy your book. The problem is, you're not really going to know what it is. If something turns a potential purchaser off before they buy and then read (where it's style or content that might turn them off, but hey, at least you got the money, right?), it's extremely rare for them to let you know what it was they didn't like.

And, I'm informed, it's a bit gauche to ask a stranger why they didn't buy your book.

People, however, like a bargain. They like free stuff. But at the same time, if it's free, they tend not to value it as much. I do it myself. I see a book is available as a free download and even if I'm only marginally interested in it, I'll get it and then, a majority of the time, not read it. I have discovered a few good reads this way, though, and I swear, as soon as I run out of other books I simply must read now, I'll go back through those free ones and take them for a trial run. However, a good book is still a good book, no matter if you paid zero for it or $20, right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Perhaps there's some deeper psychological process that goes on when assigning a rating to a book related to personal investment. Say, you shell out for a hardcover of a book because of the promise it holds for being a really good read, be it because it's one of your favourite authors, or you've heard a lot of sterling reviews, or the blurb/premise hits your reading G-spot. In other words, you're so excited to read the book you barely think twice about the cost. But what if it was all a lie, a mirage on the horizon, and nothing about the book is what you expected? It's easy to see resentment for your investment, both financial and emotional, not returning exponentially increased dividends turning into a low, bitter rating and or review.

What happens when it's the other way around?

A free book turns out to be a good read, or a great read. Bonus, right? Does that in turn influence the rating it receives? You didn't have to hand over hard earned cash for this book so the only investment is personal time. Does this then lend a leniency to the eventual rating of said book? For instance, if you'd paid $2.99 for it, enjoyed it enough to get to the end and not resent the journey, you might give it 3 out of 5. But if you didn't have to pay for it, might that not boost your generosity when it comes time to say definitively how much you enjoyed the book? Turn a 3 into a 4, maybe. I don't know.

But I could make wild assumptions.

My first self-pubbed book, Blood Work is available free on Smashwords and for $0.99 US on Amazon. Downloads of the free Smashwords edition have gone past 2000. Amazon sales haven't been great, but I didn't expect them to be with a free version available. The most visible judge of success, to me, are the ratings of books.

Blood Work
Goodreads:- 4.14/5 from 51.
Amazon US:- 4.4/5 from 7.
Smashwords:- 4.57/5 from 7.

This tells me the vast majority of readers have enjoyed to really enjoyed the book. But is it because it's a good book, or because it's a free book?

Either way, with some exposure, some really good reviews and, to me, pretty impressive ratings on book one, you'd think book two would be guaranteed to appeal to the majority of the happy readers of book one.

Right?

The sequel, Demon Dei, is not available for free. It's list price at Smashwords and Amazon is now $2.99 US (it's been up and down a couple of times with no real change in sales). It's ratings are better than the first book.

Demon Dei
Goodreads:- 4.24/7 from 17.
Amazon US:- 4.8/5 from 5.
Smashwords:- 5/5 from 1.

Reviews have said it's better than the first, and yet, going by the number of ratings, it's only a third as popular as Blood Work. Sales of Demon Dei, while expectedly far, far lower than the downloads of the free Blood Work, don't even reach as high as a third. A third would be brilliant. A third would make this post obsolete.

But I'm not here to talk about money. That's, honestly, a secondary concern.

What intrigues me is the reason why of the 50 people who have demonstrably shown real enjoyment of the first book, only a third have gone on to the second. Personally, if I give a book at least 3/5, I will generally seek out more from that author, especially if it's the first in a series. If I didn't have to pay for the first book, I'd be even more willing to fork out for the second. Maybe that's just me, though. I don't know what's driving these statistics. Is it the cover of Demon Dei keeping people away? The blurb? The title?

Or is it that it's not free?

I really don't know and it's been bothering me for a long time. We all know writers are supposed to be neurotic basket cases, worried about popular opinion and, yes, ratings, and, undoubtedly, making money, but we're not allowed to show it. We're supposed to show an upbeat, positive attitude in 'public', to promote our work as 'the best thing since...' even if the visible and not-so-visible marks of success say otherwise. But behind all that is me. Someone who worries about things she can't know for sure, someone who dreams about flushing away all that hard work because it, in my semi-depressive heart of hearts, seems it doesn't matter what I do.

So, yeah, I've been thinking a lot lately about diminishing returns on my personal investment in this self-publishing lark. I'm wondering if I should even bother continuing. And I'm not posting this in hopes of 'poor you, I'll go buy your book right now' comments. I'm posting it to hopefully explain, in part, why I'm not present on line these days. And, okay, so that maybe someone will read it and say, 'hey, I didn't buy your book because of this and this and this', which would help a heap, too.

Cheers for now!

Indie Review - "Kick"



Kick by John L. Monk


I rather enjoyed Kick. But for a few small niggles, this would have been a four star read, but we’ll get to the niggles in a bit. Firstly, the good stuff…

When Dan Jenkins was a mixed up, emotionally confused college kid, he committed suicide. There were issues with his girlfriend, and with himself, and he did something terrible, an act for which he now feels guilty. From the ‘Great Wherever’ where he finds himself after death Dan is dispatched onto ‘missions’ by an unseen, unheard, purely inferred-by-Dan-himself being he calls the ‘Great Whomever’. Each mission sees him ‘possessing’ criminals and responsible for bringing them to some form of justice—usually exposing their nasty ways before ‘suiciding’. Generally, Dan gets about three weeks in each body, before the original consciousness starts kicking him out. In that time, Dan likes to eat bad food, watch movies, fish and hand out fistfuls of cash to those in need, in between finding out what brand of sicko his ride is and doling out the justice.

The first half of Kick takes us through a couple of these rides—a serial killer, a rapist/drug trafficking bikie and a drug addict/serial killer/identity thief. An extended sojourn through the muck at the very bottom of society, just to enforce the next part of the story. Throughout Dan’s rides in these scum-of-the-earth types, he keeps wondering why he can’t have a ‘vacation’. Someone nice he just relax in for a while without having to do the dirty work at the end. As the author himself notes at one point…

“There’s an important lesson to be learned here: never screw around with foreshadowing.”

The foreshadowing did get a little heavy handed at times. All the talk of wanting to find a nice ride for once, naturally, means he does, and when he does, this is when the niggles start.

When Dan wakes up in the body of healthy, rich, seemingly nice guy, he spends a while trying to find the evil. What he finds instead is a drop dead gorgeous fiancé, a rapidly closing in wedding and a couple of not-quite-right friends and family. Dan passes a week doing his usual routine of going to nice restaurants, giving away the dollars and trying to work out just what it is that’s odd about the fiancé. It all comes to a head on the day of the wedding.

For the most part, the story is very good, helped along by above-average writing. Even the episodic nature of the first half of the book doesn’t detract from the overall plot. If all the separate ‘rides’ had somehow linked together, creating an interwoven, slightly more intricate plot, then the niggles wouldn't have mattered as much. Still, the lack of connection isn’t a problem, just a missed opportunity.

As far as he goes, Dan is a decent character. Several flashbacks to his younger years when he was alive give some insight into why he did what he did. He can be generous, with other people’s money, and he cares about the innocents his ‘rides’ hurt. We know he feels guilty for how his suicide impacted his family and friends. He has his morals he tries his hardest to stick to. He thinks he’s funny. But apart from this, we never learn much about him. Nothing really about his childhood, his family, his friends, his personal experiences with his own life. There are the flashbacks, but they’re isolated instances, used to highlight a single point, not illuminate the whole character. His progression as a person seems stalled at twenty, when he died. After living, even short term, in many other bodies, witnessing the horrid depths to which humans can descend, Dan still acts like a bratty college kid. His missions don’t appear to affect him. For all that, he’s not an offensive character, just a tad shallow. Another missed opportunity was the connection between Dan having committed suicide, and the fact he basically ‘suicides’ a lot of the baddies he rides. There’s a sad irony there that was missing.

The twist mentioned in the blurb isn’t that big of a surprise, thanks to the foreshadowing. It’s pretty easy to pick it and what the eventual outcome will be, so much so at times I berated Dan for not picking it up as quickly. For not picking it up at all, in fact, until it’s come down to the guns and bad-guy explanation scene. This in itself isn’t a big problem, either.

Further, there were a couple of instances where I think the author was trying to be funny but it just came across as misogynistic. For example…

“She gave me another one of those great kisses in the driveway and then drove off to Victoria’s Secret or wherever girls like that go when they’re not with their stud boyfriends.”

“But even within species, there are differences. Men are larger and have stronger muscles, and women hurtle down expressways applying cosmetics while talking on cell phones.”

Innocent, flippant misogyny, which it could be argued is worse than deliberate misogyny, as it comes with a sense thoughtlessness, but in this case, I really do think the author just thinks he’s being funny. However, this one…

“Most of all, I admired the brave face she presented to a world filled with hypocritical acrimony. For her, a fallen woman taken with child, bravely bearing society’s scarlet letter upon her heaving breasts.”

…can’t really be excused. Even if Dan died in the early nineties and hasn’t evolved emotionally since then, this is a very nineteenth century opinion and sticks out like the offensive proverbial.

Gay guys get a bit of the same treatment…

““Something’s different about you,” Superman said, in an elevated nasal tone, making me think he was either gay or had a high-pitched cold.”

Still, these moments didn’t detract me from the story as a whole. Overall, Kick is an easy, quick read with a few genuinely fun moments. A bit more depth of character wouldn’t go astray and perhaps that’ll come along in future instalments.



I got Kick as a free download via the author’s mailing list.

Find out more about John L. Monk here and purchase Kick at Amazon.

"Dead Bones" Review

So, as I think I've mentioned earlier, it's incredibly tough to get reviews on independently published books. It's hard to get the exposure in order for people to find your book, or they're not interested in anything other than the traditionally published. However, there are some wonderful folks out there who do take the time to seek out and review independently published books, and Catherine at Unlimited Book Reviews is one of these lovely few and she reviewed Dead Bones...



"A good, solid fantasy of war, politics, and magic, in an original and interesting world. ...the combination of magic, technology, and religion make for an interesting setting which kept me reading... Good writing throughout...
This book is a satisfying standalone read, though the ending clearly indicates a sequel is intended."


Full review here.

As indie publishers, I think it's important to support those who review indie books, so go check out Catherine's blog and you might find something else intriguing to read that you never knew was out there. ;)

Adieu!!

Celebration Sale!

To celebrate the release (finally!) of Night Call Book Three,



Night Call Book Two,




is now on sale for US$0.99 at both Smashwords and Amazon!!


The sale will last two weeks until the 20th October, so you've got plenty of time. ;)

Cheers!!


PS, if the Amazon price hasn't dropped when you go look, give it a day or so. They can be bit a slow sometimes.

"Rock Paper Sorcery" - It's ALIVE!!

I know it's been a long in coming, but finally, the wait is over! I certainly hope you enjoy this latest adventure with Matt, Mercy and Erin.



Sorcery, an arcane mystical power wielded by white-bearded old men with fancy sticks? Or just another pain in Matt Hawkins’ neck? Matt knows which he would prefer, which is more likely, and that they’re not the same thing…

Life’s looking up for Brisbane’s only badarse, supernatural-battling warrior. There’s been a distinct lack of marauding Old World baddies and no noticeable interference from demons. Just a nice steady stream of ‘small’ jobs to keep Matt and the tame vampire, Mercy, in home, food and clothes. And when PI Erin McRea contracts them for a sting, Matt’s happy to oblige. It is, after all, easy money.

Naturally, nothing goes according to plan. Erin’s mark dies in highly suspicious circumstances and Matt earns the ire of an ex-NRL player with a grudge and fists of stone. Then there’s Randy Devantier—Texan, sorcerer and all round badarse… er, badass. Dev’s looking for a rogue sorcerer, a stolen spell and a local guide. Between dodging rampaging footballers, a vampire with mood swings and a lonely PI making demands of his time, Matt also has to chauffer Dev around a town that might not be big enough for two badasses on a mission.

And in the middle of it all, Matt has one, burning question. How do you stop a monkey from stealing grapes out of your cereal bowl?


Available now from Smashwords and Amazon!!

Huzzah!!