Guest Bloggers In The Hut

Out of the Box Promotion with Charles Yallowitz

Posted on Updated on

Who said promoting your book couldn’t be fun? Thank you Charles for these fabulously funny suggestions.

A big thank you to the Jo for having me on for a guest post so soon after being part of the promotional tour for my latest book, Legends of Windemere: Tribe of the Snow Tiger. This is the 10th volume of this series and I’ve found that it’s one of the most difficult to do any promotion for. The entire story revolves around a heavy revelation of Timoran Wrath’s past and the twists that come along with it. It brings the big man into the spotlight for once, so I don’t want to spoil things by saying too much. Yet, I have to say something and I’ve come up with several methods with varying degrees of usefulness.

1. Just put one line from the book in a post behind a ‘Read More’ cut. It doesn’t matter if context is a problem, people complain about the confusion, and that you refuse to explain who Lucy is. You did a promo and got people talking. Though the conversation usually revolves around where to find torches and pitchforks at this time of night.

2. Take a tip from the government and redact until you feel comfortable. Be creative with the colors too. So what if the excerpt looks like a tired college student mistook a permanent marker for a highlighter. You’re pretty sure the essence of the scene can be captured by those 10 words that survived your paranoia.

3. Write fake excerpts that are kind of connected to the story, but never show up in the actual book. What could go wrong since people won’t know until they book and read the thing? There they go talking about torches and pitchforks again. Maybe you shouldn’t have been so open about your home address.

4. Only promote through skywriting. It’s expensive, but you can’t put long messages up there. There would be no temptation to say more than you should. People can see skywriting from everywhere in the world, right?

5. Repeatedly swear that everything on the Internet is a lie, so you can post spoilers that nobody will believe. People will think you’re pulling a gag. At least until those who read the book show up to confirm the information. Maybe you can add a ‘non-disclosure agreement’ to your book. What are the chances of a reader not signing that?

6. Buy a decent video camera, start up a YouTube channel, and promote your book through interpretive dance. You laugh, but this will get you and your books attention. People will wonder what kind of craziness is in those stories if the author is twirling around on camera with a jack o’ lantern painting on their belly. Especially since there is no indication that Halloween has anything to do with the books. Best part of this is that you can go spoiler heavy and nobody will have a clue.

7. Be as vague as possible with all promos. If you get to the point where even you aren’t sure what the book is about then mission accomplished.

Interested in a new adventure? Then grab your Kindle & dive back into the world of Windemere! Don’t forget an apple for Fizzle.

Author PhotoAbout the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.



Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz


Tribe of the Snow Tiger by Charles Yallowitz

Posted on Updated on

Now Available on Amazon for Pre-Order!
Coming to your Kindle on June 1st!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Timoran Wrath has a shameful secret that is about to see the light of day.

The noble barbarian has always been a constant source of strength and wisdom for his beloved friends. His loyalty has been unwavering and they know that he would never hesitate to lay down his life for them. Even in their darkest hour, the champions know that Timoran will come through and fight to the bitter end. Now they must return the favor as he reunites with his tribe and willingly faces the executioner’s blade.

Is it possible that the honorable Timoran was nothing more than an illusion?

Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads ‘To Read’ List too!

Excerpt: The Snow Tiger

Yahoo Image Search
Yahoo Image Search

“The snow is too bright and level for me to see anything clearly,” the barbarian growls. The sound of shuffling and mild cursing draws his attention to Nyx who has sunk up to her nose in snow. “What are you doing, fire sprite?”

Nyx shivers while squinting into the distance, her eyes coated in bronze energy. “The reason you can’t see anything might be because you’re too tall. I’m trying to see if there’s anything that breaks the level ground. My eyes are enhanced right now, but I don’t . . . wait a second . . . I think there’s something buried out there. A beast of some kind? It’s a very subtle up and down motion that reminds me of something breathing. It just stopped moving, but I don’t know what that means. I’ll lead the way.”

Not waiting for a response, Nyx pushes through the thick snow and uses wind magic to gradually shift the powder out of her path. She does her best to move quietly and avoid disturbing whatever they are approaching, but the crunch of frozen grass beneath her boots makes the half-elf cringe with every step. A violent sneeze threatens to erupt from her nose, stifled quickly by a silence spell around her nostrils. Rubbing at her cold legs, Nyx is thankful when Timoran puts a vest made of black fur over her. The Ifrit hair warms her body and drives away the looming cold that has been brewing in her chest for the last few minutes. With renewed energy, the channeler walks a little faster and adds a simple heat spell to the wind that is steadily clearing the path.

“Wow. Such a beautiful creature,” she whispers when she steps into a circular clearing that surrounds the dead beast.

The enormous snow tiger’s blue and black fur is thick, the hairs sparkling when touched by direct sunlight. It has long incisors of glistening white that jut out of its mouth due to their size and sharpness. A slender tail lies limp in the exposed grass and still twitches as the muscles continue to lose their tension. Powerful legs and massive paws are splayed on the ground, giving the body the appearance of having peacefully died in its sleep. The gaping wound in the gorgeous snow tiger’s side is the only sign of an attack, the surrounding fur matted with aromatic blood.

Timoran’s rage boils when he spots the three cubs that are mewling and pushing against their dead mother. Judging from their size and faint, black stripes, he assumes they are no older than three months. Rusty manacles are attached to their back legs, the chains running to a stake that has been driven into the muddy earth. Restraining his anger, the barbarian moves within reach of the animals and gently breaks the metal bindings that are bruising their ankles. Scared and confused, the cubs cower against the still warm corpse and hiss whenever one of the adventurers comes close. One of the snow tigers bravely charges at Timoran and bites his boot, proudly returning to the others when the towering figure moves away.

Need to catch Legends of Windemere from the beginning? Then click on the covers below!

You can start for FREE . . .

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Or grab the $4.99 ‘3 in 1’ bundles!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen 3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen


Also Available:

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Interested in a new adventure? Then grab your Kindle & dive back into the world of Windemere! Don’t forget an apple for Fizzle.

Author PhotoAbout the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz


Ronovan Hester Shares Advice on Writing Collaboration @RonovanWrites

Posted on Updated on

How to Collaborate When Writing a Book by Ronovan Hester

ronovan-hesterAs some of you know by now, if not you will shortly, I co-authored a book with the Award Winning Author PS Bartlett of the Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales. This being my debut novel, it was an interesting experience to go through and one from which I’m taking take a lot away. As with any experience, there was plenty of good and some bad. I’ll explain the bad in the following in the How To parts of the article. This was a first for both of us, the collaborating part.

First I want to put down what you should consider when the idea of collaboration comes your way. In no way does any of this mean to say anything bad about my experience. I am taking good and not as good things I’ve learned and putting them him for you.

Things to do Before Collaborating

  1. Read the work of the other author. You want to see if the two of you have the same ideas, general style, and taste in writing and word usage. I personally loved PS Bartlett’s The Blue Diamond: The Razor’s Edge and that is what led to our becoming friends and co-author.
  2. Establish a rapport with the co-author. You want to be able to communicate with each other. You want to understand the language of the other person. By this, I mean you want to know when they are serious or joking, or when they are having a bad day and you can read emails and know it’s not you but just a bad day.
  3. Exchange writing samples for critique of work unrelated to any project you might work on together. See if you can handle criticism and a give and take process. See if the other person understands what you mean and if you understand them when talking about writing aspects of Character and Plot.

If you don’t do the above three things, your writing experience will likely be a disaster. I’m not saying it will definitely be one, but it could be.

Now you’ve agreed to begin the process of coming up with ideas. What do you do now?

Things to do Before Beginning to Write

  1. Agree on the type of writing process.
  • There are different ways of writing a book with a partner.
  • Each person may write alternating chapters.
  • One person takes the lead on writing the first draft.
  • The lead writer writes a chapter, the co-author reads it, and a discussion takes place before moving to the next chapter. (Although the lead writer in the process may keep writing as the ideas flow.)
  1. Agree on roles in the process.
  • Depending on a book there may be;
    • Who is responsible for what kind of research?
    • Subject matter
    • Style
    • Or Voice, that may lend itself to one writer being the first draft writer, if that is the route you are taking.
  1. Who will be responsible for parts of editing and proofing?
  • Is there one best at catching continuity?
  • Tense
  • Point of view check
  • Tightening up the writing

This is a sticky one as editing will step on toes and possibly hurt feelings. This is why there needs to be a lot of agreements and thought before even beginning a collaboration.

  1. Agree on the final approval process.
  • How do you determine when it is ready for the editor?
  • Who is to say when the final draft is complete?
  • What happens if one of you does not approve in the end?
  1. Agree on what happens if one drops out of the project.
    • Do you scrap the entire project if only a certain percentage of the manuscript is completed?
    • Does the remaining author continue with full credit and rights?
    • Does the remaining author continue writing, with credit given to the co-author, but the continuing writer retaining all rights?
    • Does the remaining author continue and both authors share credit and rights?
    • When I refer to rights above I mean rights to the characters, the intellectual property, all rights related to the ownership of the book and characters, and the profits.

The above looks like a lot to consider and go through, but you need to do it. You don’t want to get to the middle of the process and discover this is not where you want to be, or maybe, just maybe, you discover your co-author is not into the project as much as you are.

Maybe you were expecting something about how to do a collaboration as in how to share documents in Google Docs through Google Drive. People jump into a writing partnership with a friend and end up discovering the friendship isn’t as strong as they thought. When sharing creations and giving some control of your ideas over to another there can be some problems arise. Feelings may be hurt, prides may wound, and friendships may end.

One final thing I would suggest; put it all in writing. Why should you do this? I’m not saying for legal reasons, I’m saying for reference reasons. A writing project can take a long time, and memories can vary. A document agreed on by both authors can be a great thing to have on hand. Document and note everything. It is important when ideas come up and each author agrees to changes. This can be a fun part of your life and a rewarding one, but don’t let it be a regrettable one.

I again want to stress, this article has nothing to do with how my own personal collaboration process went as far as the negatives go. I know what went great and I know what could have gone better.

PS Bartlett allowed me to run rampant with the book. I wrote the first draft, creating the story, and the characters with only one thing she wanted done for the most part, get a man with red hair and blue eyes that could be the captain of a ship to a certain place in the Caribbean by a certain time.

You would think she would have more concerns about a character who ends up being so important to her series of books. She wasn’t. I loved The Blue Diamond: The Razor’s Edge and that world created. I understood it. I discussed with her what this world could be and encouraged her to go for it. She went into her prequel trilogy and I into the book that became Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling. She trusted I would create characters with depth and character to match what she needed in her future books. While writing her trilogy she would ask me if the man I wrote as Captain Gabriel Wallace had certain things she could use in her books or if there were certain characters he had with him she could use. It worked out very well.

After I finished nitpicking my drafts to death, which took me about 4-5 weeks to write, I passed it over to Bartlett, as I call her or Blonde Bartlett the Sea Siren, her Pirate Name. Once some of her trilogy work was done, she then went to work on our book, added her flavor to it, her needed touches to match what all she did in the future with the man known as Wallace in the book, tightened up some of the sections, and added some proper ship and pirate jargon.

The final product was a story about 95-98% what I started with, and a read of language that blends nicely once you get past that initial set up and get on with it stage of unrest conflict causes. With four reviews in so far we have Three 5 Star reviews and One 4.5 Star review.

Here is part of the 4.5 Review.

This prequel is written to explain an enigmatic pirate, Captain Rasmus Bergman, found in a series written by P.S. Bartlett. Author Ronovan Hester was selected by P.S. Bartlett to go back in time to develop the character of this fierce, yet protective man. Set in the early 1700’s, Hester uses a very formal Old English dialogue and non-dialogue language style. The historical descriptions are done smoothly, and flow nicely without being to “teachy”.

A word of advice is to settle into the language as quickly as possible. It was a bit of a stumbling block for me, as I tried to mentally get the long slow phraseology to catch up with the fast scenes. Hester seems to settle into a great story-telling groove after the third chapter. After that I was along for the ride…

As stated above, the language is Old English and a bit stiff at the start. I don’t know if I warmed up or if Ronovan Hester warmed up, but it flowed through my mind smoother after a couple of chapters.
In Amber Wake, Gabriel Falling, Hester takes on the challenge of writing first person and steers clear of some of the pit-falls of that style. He doesn’t describe what is happening behind him or on another boat. As a reader, you only know what Captain Rasmus Bergman knows, which is critical in first-person writing.

Another challenge is developing a character from someone else’s series. Hester takes this in stride and creates a back-story to explain the famous pirate. He includes history of what could explain Rasmus’ high moral standards (for a pirate) and his upper class education. At times the internal and external dialogue, and the actions seemed at odds, but it didn’t stop me from reading.

This is the first I’ve read of The Razor Adventures Pirate Tales. It would be entertaining to get readers together, who read these books in different order, and see if we each have a favorite character based on which book we read first.

So in conclusion; Ivory Dawn, Amber Wake, Demons and Pearls, and Jaded Tides are all prequels to The Blue Diamond. Unlike Ivory Dawn, Amber Wake is a stand-alone novel, but barely.

Why include the review here, and why the 4.5 and not one of the 5’s? This one shows some of those things that can happen with co-authors. However, you can see how overall it worked out nicely. Eventually you have to put the book out and into the hands of the public. We could have spent another month or more . . . maybe . . . and found some of those things mentioned above, but that’s one reason a professional editor was paid. Obviously, the points were not problems to keep from publishing or keeping his reader and others from enjoying the book. With any review, it’s an opinion and a matter of taste, this coming from a man who created and runs a book review and interview site. In reality, the book could be a two. I like it. I am proud of what I’ve done. That’s what matters at the end of the day.

Thank you, Jo, for allowing me to take up some of your space today. You are one of the most highly respected people in the author support world I know and the fact you volunteered for this is truly an honor.

Amazon.comAmber Wake-Gabriel Falling by PS Bartlett and Ronovan Hester

Choose your poison
of connection
with Ronovan.

Amazon Author Page
Amazon Author Page UK
Personal Blog
Author Site

To connect with PS Bartlett:P.S. Bartlett Author

Tales from the Garden – Guest Post by Sally Cronin

Posted on

Thank you so much to my much loved friend and talented author Sally Cronin, for being my guest here today to introduce her new book, Tales from the Garden. It’s full of wonderful, and sometimes wistful tales, as well as gorgeous photos. It’s joyful to move to exciting new climes but also a little sad to leave behind old friends. This is a beautiful book. I’ve been dipping into it now and will review later, but already I recommend it heartily. I’ll be back to normal transmission here tomorrow by the way, and catch up with comments, but for now Sally’s in charge. Over to you Sal!
Tales From The Garden – Behind the scenes – by Sally Cronin

Tales From the Garden small- Cover

My deep thanks to my friend Jo for hosting me today. Also for all her support over the last two years for my blog and other projects that I have been working on.
We are leaving our house here in the mountains at some point as soon as we have sold it and will be returning to Ireland and dare I say; more rain than I care to mention. The realisation that I would have to leave this beautiful mountain garden with sun filled summers and dry and sometimes snowy winters; was the inspiration behind the stories that are a record of all the features that I have come to love. Tales from the Garden began as a weekly short story series but the response was so positive I decided to publish as a permanent record. This is particularly important as many of the statues are simply too heavy to move and will have to remain with a new family that they will watch over.
Until the spring of this year we had a wonderful gardener who came in three times a week for a couple of hours and took care of the basics. We inherited Antonio with the house in 1999 and in total he worked in this garden for 47 years. He used to be a beekeeper up in the hills where the wild flowers add such a delicate flavour to the local honey. However, his wife’s ill health resulted in a need to work part-time and close to home. Hence our great luck in having him as a permanent part of the family. At age 82 he decided that he would like to retire. After issuing strict instructions about the lavish care he expected for this garden he had cared about for nearly 50 years; he left us to find our own green thumbs.
Our dog Sam arrived with me from Ireland by car in 2003 when I moved across permanently. He took to Antonio immediately and they would spend all morning in the garden together. Sam would supervise the watering, picking of the tomatoes, chasing of squirrels and general mischief making. The garden is the quieter for both their departures, although I sometimes feel eyes on me from Sam’s favourite bush behind the pool house!
Sam features in the book of course despite already having his own autobiography. He is The Last Emperor and is one of the stories that I found the most difficult to write. Here he is in his imperial glory.

3. and Emperors reign

Tales from the Garden is a collection of fairy stories and 80 illustrations, for children of all ages, from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.
The tales reveal the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees and you will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories.
The guardians who have kept this sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.
The book is available at a substantial discount via my own website:
Also at Amazon UK:
About Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin spent a number of years in each of the following industries – Retail, Advertising and Telecommunications, Radio & Television; and has taken a great deal of inspiration from each.
She has written short stories and poetry since a very young age and contributed to media in the UK and Spain. In 1996 Sally began studying nutrition to inspire her to lose 150 lbs and her first book, Size Matters published in 2001, told the story of that journey back to health. This was followed by another seven books across a number of genres including health, humour and romance. These include Just Food For Health, Size Matters, Just an Odd Job Girl, Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, Flights of Fancy anthology, Turning Back the Clock and Media Training.
All these can be found on Amazon or smashwords.
For the last two years Sally has written a daily blog covering the subjects close to her heart including writing, health and music: Smorgasbord Invitation – Variety is the Spice of Life. You can link to it from here:
Connect to Sally on social media.
Thank you again Jo for all the support and friendship and for inviting me to guest here today.
It’s an honour to have you here Sally – thanks for being here. Friendship aside, you’re a formidable scribbler and newscaster, and for that you have my undying admiration.

Guest in the Hut – Chris Graham – The Story Reading Ape

Posted on Updated on

I have a very special guest in my hut today. None other than friend to readers around the globe, and tireless supporter and mentor to indie authors. Chris Graham is The Story Reading Ape we know and love. For those of you who know Discworld, you might be surprised to hear that his first cousin is the Librarian at the Unseen University – no need run though – our Ape got all the friendly genes.


Mostly for me Chris is a wonderful friend, and not because he has the klout to make my books visible to real readers, but because for the duration of the time that I’ve known him, he’s often blown me away with his acts of generosity to so many of our tribe of often much maligned indie writers. He promotes our work, shares really useful tips on the nuts and bolts of our profession, and often pops up with hilarious bits of fun just to brighten our days. Mostly he hunts down good reads for his furry following of readers and has regular bookworm goodies to share. For those of you who don’t know him yet – what y’all waiting for then? Thank you so much for joining me in my hut dear Ape – it’s much more spacious on the inside as you can see, and don’t worry about the little feathered guys. I’m sure they realise you’re a bit too big to eat…. I think….. I hope….. Over to you that Ape!


Before we start, I’d like to thank my very good friend Jo for inviting me to her lovely home and also to request her to please turn off the spotlights and loosen my restraining straps, I promise not to rampage or frighten the little Birds, they are perfectly safe perched on my ears (providing the one on my left ear stops trying to pull the fur out of it) 🙂

You are very supportive of self published authors, giving so many the opportunity to be seen on your Story Reading Ape website. What inspired you to do this?

When I got my first eReader (a Nook HD) in December 2012, it had an app already on it for Goodreads. Being a curious (oh, all right – NOSY) ape, I clicked on it and signed up. As I was dragging books I had read out of my ancient (extremely dusty and cobweb packed) furry brain cell (I’ve only got the one very hard working brain cell LOL), I joined a few groups and started receiving notifications from them.

Among these were Indie Authors looking for reviewers, telling about their new book releases, discount and free days, etc, but most were pleas for help in advertising the books.

As I got more familiar with Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and the like, I started looking at the authors profiles and was amazed at how sparse the information was, with a few exceptions.

Most authors were so intent in selling their books, they had missed out on, in my opinion, the opportunity to actually CONNECT with the readers and becoming a familiar, friendly household name, the way more famous authors are.

What do I mean by this? Well, look how much information is available about the authors themselves – the books are only part of what interests readers, they like to learn more about the PEOPLE who WRITE them!
That is why I started my blog, to give Indie authors the same opportunities that the famous authors had.

Tell us – who is Chris Graham, the person? What do you love, not like at all, do for fun?

Reading a Magazine

I, me, myself? I’m no-one special, just an ordinary old ape who loves reading and being transported to other times and worlds.

I don’t like flying – not afraid of it, just fed up doing it for so many years, so I avoid it as much as possible now. For fun, apart from reading, I like to get out for long walks in nature, visit historical places, take photographs, many a poor unsuspecting animal, bird, fish, tree and bush have been snapped unawares (but not in embarrassing situations) 🙂

I also enjoy playing on my computer with my 3D and Image Editing programmes.

Take us on a little tour of your The Story Reading Ape site, and show us around your world.

Well, the main blog is all about authors (as people) and their books, plus helpful editing tips from a Professional Editor every Tuesday, plus, any helpful, informative articles for writers from other blogs.
There are, of course, announcements about new / debut books, bargain or free days.

It also spotlights special people I’ve met online and is a talent showcase for published and unpublished writers.


Associated with the main blog, are eleven (11) bookcases, sorted by genre, where visitors can browse and even get to the relevant online store to buy them. Visitors can even follow these bookcase blogs, so when books are added, they will get an email about them 🙂

Yours is the only site that I personally know of that showcases such a wide variety of genres. What are your favourite genres to read?

Oh, I like most genres from informative to fantasy, historical fiction to science fiction and even books for kids (being just a big overgrown kid at heart myself LOL

What is your opinion of ebooks for children?

I think they’re great!

Nowadays, some kids would be embarrassed to be seen with a real book, but an eReader is acceptable.

I have a special fondness for informative books for kids and read as many as I can, I’ve learned a LOT about animals and things that way 🙂

Who are your top three favourite authors, and why do you love them?

Sir Terry Pratchett is at the top of the list, it was he who gave inspiration for, and life to, my online persona!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for his Sherlock Holmes and non SH books.

Charles Dickens with his entertaining and insightful stories.

I also have favourite Indie Authors, but I’m not going to name them, most have appeared on my blog though and some have yet to visit when they get the time.

Apart from your three top favourites, what books have most influenced you?


Animal Farm and Roots both resonated with me and made me vow not to deliberately oppress anyone or anything, to make amends if I had inadvertently done so and to help those who were being oppressed by others.

I strongly oppose cruelty, bullying, intolerance and terrorism, in ANY form, to ANY creature!
Sorry Jo, I didn’t mean to snap the restraints like that, I’ll just climb back down from your roof and nibble a nice calming banana or three 🙂

Share your best banana recipe. Add a copyright if you’re concerned about any other recipe stealing apes out there.

All apes (and anyone else) are welcome to any banana recipes, but I think it might be better to skip past this question Jo, my furry chin is already dripping wet from the delicious pictures flashing through my braincell LOL

Ha haaa – eeeek! Have you ever written anything yourself, and do you see yourself publishing anything in the future.

Only the odd article on my blog, or other people’s blogs. I can’t say I will never publish, because stranger things have happened 🙂

You are a talented cover art designer, and created the fantastic cover for my Shadow People (I LOVE it!). Tell us about your book art and cover design business.

(Blushes madly – in the furry face you naughty reader!)

It’s still early days Jo, you were kind enough to publish one of my efforts and the late Steve Smy published three covers with my work on them, so my ‘portfolio’ is small, but growing.

At present, the images I show on my Book Covers for Sale blog are just to demonstrate some of the capabilities I have with my software, however, I will be posting an article in January showing much more ‘Book Cover’ like examples, complete with text 🙂

What was the nicest, funniest, or most stand out moment in your online life?

The most stand out moment to date was when the Fourth Grade pupils from Honduras, plus their parents and teachers, visited my blog articles about their interview (by Skype) with two young authors based in the USA.

I was left some lovely comments and they were telling everyone they met that they were famous because they appeared on my blog.


I wish all kids were so enthusiastic and so lucky to have such an inspiring teacher and that all authors, Indie and Established, would take the time that Josh and Jared did to connect with their fans, kids and adults alike.

What is your opinion on self-publishing today, and what do you think readers want from indie writers?

Apart from good entertaining stories, I think better editing and for European authors, better translations from their languages into other languages, not just English.

I know that sometimes books from ‘Established’ authors also contain errors, but not, I have to be frank, to the same extent.

If you suddenly became grand overlord of the planet, and held all the bananas, what would be the first thing you would change about it?

THAT is a TOUGH question Jo and I have to say, there is no easy or simple answer for it.

You can ban and legislate all you want but there will always be someone, somewhere, who will flout it and cause misery, pain or suffering to others.

However, I would make it MANDATORY for ALL politicians to learn a hands on trade and live off its proceeds for a minimum of 15 years before they are allowed to take office, instead of concentrating on Law, Accountancy and Advertising. That way, they may get some insight into the NEEDS of the ‘ordinary person in the street’.

It would be even better if they worked in healthcare for at least 10 years as well, in various parts of the world (poor countries), so they get a grasp of the issues that affect the majority of the world today.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions Chris, you’ve been very patient and resisted diving into the food on the table, so now that we’re finished you can go eat – Where did he go? – Where did all the food go AND my tablecloth – Come back with my tablecloth you big ape!!!!


So, for all you lovers of the written word, find the wonderful Chris Graham below, and make a grand new banana loving Ape friend for life.

The Story Reading Ape Blog
FB My Timeline
Indie Writers Support (IWS)
LinkedIn (LI)

TSRA small

Guest in the Hut – Ryan Peter

Posted on Updated on

My guest blogger today is the lovely and talented Ryan Peter. Ryan is a writer, journalist and ghostwriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes fantasy and sci-fi and anything to do with the “weird” while he enjoys conversing (and writing, of course) on topics such as faith and theology. His books are widely available at Amazon and other major online retailers. His fantasy epic, “When Twins War” is the first in his “The Rise of the Kings” series and is now available wherever good books are sold.
Ryan Peter

Using Pictures for Inspiration

by Ryan Peter

It’s amazing how important a good book cover really is. And it amazes me how much a picture doesn’t just “say a thousand words” but can inspire infinitely more!

When I was a young boy I remember sitting in my grandparents’ house and dreaming over the many books in the bookshelves, looking at the pictures and getting this sense of Something. A Mystery speaking to me. The same sort of experience I believe C.S. Lewis refers to as ‘Joy’ in his biography “Surprised by Joy”. Or what another author, John Eldredge, calls “The Haunting.”

The sense of story and wonder. The excitement of ‘story’. Something about a picture that speaks to your deepest senses and gives you a sense of something bigger, something more grand, something wholly more awesome than yourself – and this feeling, this inkling, that somehow you’re a part of that something as well.

The feeling of a grand story, of which you play a part. The wonder of it all. Where you’re actually not even the hero, but you get to be around the hero, watching them take on dragons and space monsters of all kinds.

It’s this sense of awe and wonder, of mystery and possibility, that I have found to be the inspiration for all my writings – whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. I want to capture something about the depth of what I feel into words. It seems that there’s no better way to truly capture that thing, whatever it is, than to invoke it through the medium of story.

Many book covers and book illustrations have awakened that feeling in me, as well as some notable music albums as well. For example, JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has often had some notable covers that evoke that feeling. My favourite is pictured below. The ability for his writing to do that as well is part of what I think has made his story so successful.


Something about the covers on the Jack Aubrey seafaring novels from Patrick O’Brian do too. It’s like every picture in this series inspires you to imagine some grand, seafaring, swashbuckling, treasure-looting story – and interesting Long John Silver characters to go along with it. Although, the books are a far different animal altogether compared to Treasure Island!


Recently, a school invited me to speak to its students about making writing a career. For the matriculants, I highlighted some fantastic moments in journalism (showing a clip from the original interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon, where Nixon finally admits he felt he was above the law). For the younger kids, however, I went in with three different pictures – one of a space ship on fire; another of a tiny figure of a man with a sword facing a giant, menacing eagle; and another of the fiery, red-head female space commander from the popular video game series Mass Effect. I showed the kids each of the pictures and asked them to construct stories on the fly – to look at the pictures and just say whatever came to mind.

Boy, did they get going! Immediately they all started coming up with some of the most fantastic ideas! Some of the kids who were notably silent earlier also began to lose their inhibitions, adding to the conversation. The teacher was delighted to see her kids exercising their imagination in such a wonderful way and getting excited about writing their next creative writing test! They really loved the exercise, all showing clear disappointment when we had to end it due to time.

I realised then that it’s not only me who is an explorer at heart but that this is common to us all. The job of a storyteller is to take us back to those feelings of awe and mystery and excitement we all feel, even from when we’re small, and remind us all again that the world is indeed a dangerous, difficult place… but it is also a beautiful, wonderful place, where we can all answer that Haunting which comes to us at the most interesting times. And we all have our own story to live within it.

Thank you Ryan for your most cool and inspiring words!

About the book:

“The sun set and the cold night came, but Soi’labi still wailed and wept, lying on his face in the dust. His people could do nothing to help him, and could do nothing to stop the burning. They all watched in horror as the great covenant of over a thousand years between the Twin Cities had come to utter desolation.”

The covenant between the twin desert cities of Iza-Kiêrre and Ben-Kiêrre is broken and their war is feared to be a prophetic sign that the Moncoin has returned.

Tarkanyon the Outlander has been tasked to forge peace between the cities. But when he is embroiled in events that include the return of the Wealth; events that hint that he, himself, may have this ancient magic; his mission becomes filled with more questions and answers as nothing is truly as it seems.

When Twins War is a mix of classic Western fantasy with Arabian Nights adventure and a unique African edge

Find Ryan on Twitter:, on his website at or on Google+ where the coolest people hang out


Guest Blogger in the Hut – Glen Perkins

Posted on Updated on

My good Google+ and blogger friend, Glendon Perkins has bravely agreed to join me in my hut, and share his views on the review rating system, and reviewing in general. My favourite thing about my guest bloggers is that we don’t always have to agree – although we might. I really think that this is a subject that needs to be delved deeply into by indie writers especially, on both sides of the fence.

So here we go! But first, please tell us all about yourself Glen.


I was born in Colorado Springs, CO, but raised in Wyoming, spending all my childhood growing up in Gillette. I attended Campbell County High School, and as a Freshman, starting writing. In 1991 during the first Gulf War, I wrote a poem depicting my views about war. I submitted the poem to the local newspaper in Gillette where is was published. I submitted a short story to a state contest for school-aged writers and received a second place score.
After graduating high school I joined the U.S. Navy. I shipped off to Chicago, IL, where I attended boot camp. From boot camp I went to San Diego, CA. In San Diego I went to school to become a Hospital Corpsman and an X-ray technician. Once I completed my training, I was shipped overseas to the country of Bahrain. Bahrain is an island country in the Arabian Gulf. I spent three and a half years in Bahrain where my military career ended.
I was honorably discharged from the navy in May 2000. I returned to Gillette to go to college. I went to Gillette College and earned a certificate in Diesel Technology. A short time later I attended Casper College in Casper, WY, to earn a degree in radiography. I graduated from Casper College in 2006 and am currently a radiographer in Newcastle, WY.
In January of 2011(after a twenty year hiatus), I returned to writing–mostly as a hobby–when Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, WY, offered a Writing Workshop. Through the constant encouragement of the members in the writing workshop, I submitted a short story to a writing competition in the summer of 2011. I was rejected for publication, but my desire to be published didn’t wane. After another contest submission and subsequent failure, I continued to plug along.
I am now a three time published author of short stories and flash fiction. I am currently working on more short stories and a novella titled “Under the Bridge.”


Is The Five Star Rating System Flawed? by Glen Perkins

Is the five star rating system for book reviews flawed? Yes, and that could be the end of this post, but it’s worth a deeper look.

For a few months now I’ve become increasingly put out by the rating system books are reviewed with, a star system from one to five. One being unreadable and five being the best thing since root beer floats. The burr under my saddle first happened when an author I knew asked me for some feedback. I made the mistake and said sure. I mentioned one word was being overused and mixing it up or cutting it out altogether would improve the story. The response: well that’s how people talk around here. Okay…so put it in dialog and delete it from narrative. It never happened. The following books are just as littered with that overused word. Fast forward to a few months back. I read a book by a fellow author and rated it three stars. I was contacted by the author and asked why I didn’t like the book? I responded I did like the book but I didn’t feel like it was worthy of five stars. Well, why not? Because it needs to be improved. I explained I rated the book against top books in the same genre; books that were five star rates because the masses rate it that high. And that boys and girls is what brings us to our problem, the flawed rating system.

What if I told you a book hardly readable had an overall rating higher than a Pulitzer Prize written book? Would you think I am lying? Well, I can assure you I’m not. I’m not going to identify either the unreadable book nor the prize winner but if you would like to do a little research on your own I think you would be surprised what you find.

Fundamentally, the five star system is deceiving because it doesn’t allow enough input to properly rate anything. Ideally, each star would have a set of check boxes attached and the score would be an average of each box checked for each score. For example: what if under each star there were questions pertaining to readable, flow, interest, relatable, and not applicable. And the questions get more specific for each star, providing a more accurate portrayal of the book’s value. Maybe the N/A box is for things like grammar and spelling, something the average reader may not be familiar with nor care about–my dad being a good example, if he can read it, he will and he likes it or not (he doesn’t have much middle ground). Would this solve all the problems? No way in hell, but it would be a start.

Another significant issue with the five star system is the spamming. I’m not talking about filling the comment boxes with drivel, we will always face the white-knighters and flamers. What I am talking about is the blatant spamming of your own book to boost ratings. I, like many others, have heard of authors creating false accounts and boosting their books ratings by giving fake reviews. Why anyone would choose to lie like this is beyond me, but I guess we can’t count on everyone to be honest, which is going to lead to my next point: who should be rating books?

I recently read a blog post about who should be writing reviews and who should not be writing them. It was stated that only non-authors should be writing reviews. I categorically disagree with this notion. Think about it for a moment. Who better to write a review than someone who knows the flaws? Thousands of books a year top the bestseller list and they all have reviews written by people who write. They may not write fiction, but they certainly write. And they write for nationwide or worldwide publications. But, let’s forget that for a moment. The blog also suggested some authors are publishing books, and are learning from the experience. Okay, fine. So what. If authors are putting out the books to be purchased then the books are subject to bad reviews from anyone. There’s something I will say to defend the authors who are learning: keep the reviews to the books. Bashing the author on a personal level has no impact on the book being reviewed.

In closing, it’s apparent to me the rating system is flawed and should be reworked. If a person sells a book or short story or any writing for that matter, it is subject to review from anyone. Receiving a bad review is part of the learning process and having only readers who may not see the flaws making the review is at minimum deceptive.

Glen Perkins


Thank you Glen for being here with us today, and sharing your review views. I love that we’re all allowed to say exactly what we think here in the hut – it’s my bloggerverse version of Switzerland.

Find the gorgeous Glen Perkins on the following links:

Google Plus profile:

Google Author page:;;


Guest Blogger in the Hut – Marian Allen

Posted on Updated on

I’m very pleased to have as my guest today, an author who is a favourite of mine. I stalk her a little, but she’s gracious enough not to let on if I creep her out. I love her novels, her short stories, and everything she writes actually. If she started charging for her blog posts, I’d pay. Today she writes about the creatures closest to my heart, apart from dragons, those feathered guys real or mythical. So without further waffle from me, here, I hand you over to the lady herself.

For as long as she can remember, Marian Allen has loved telling and being told stories. When, at the age of about six, she was informed that somebody got paid for writing all those books and movies and television shows, she abandoned her previous ambition (beachcomber), and became a writer.

What a Divine Animal is a Bird!

One of the primary influences on my fantasy trilogy, SAGE, was the concept in Chinese mythology of Four Divine Animals. One of those four is Phoenix.
For those who don’t know, the Phoenix is a mythical bird which lives for a very long time, then builds a nest, sits on it, bursts into flames and is consumed, and rises, renewed, from the ashes.
Now, I think birds are magical enough in themselves. The ability to fly is amazing. We grow up knowing that birds fly. It’s just one of those accepted truths that we hardly think about. But what wouldn’t we give to be able to do it, naturally, instinctively?
Their feathers are fascinating, from the jewel-bright or subtly iridescent or perfectly camouflaged colors to the flawlessly engineered construction to the efficient qualities of the various kinds of feathers of each bird.
Migration? I can’t find my way to a new store in my own town with a map and a GPS unit, and birds fly hundreds of miles to places where their parents or grandparents were born?
And anyone who has kept or watched birds knows that “bird-brain” is not an insult: birds are quick and clever and inventive, and each one has a definite personality.
All this being so, I expected Phoenix to be rich with story possibilities.
Here are some notes I took while researching Phoenix for the book: “most honorable among feathered tribes”. The Phoenix has twelve tail feathers in five colors, red, yellow, black, white, and blue. The Phoenix is associated with the pheasant, peacock, and hummingbird. It’s a creature of the Southern Quadrant. It stands six feet in height. It is sun-producing, the spirit of virtue, and the peony is its flower.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that it’s associated with warmth, sun, harvest, and summer, but that it is the essence of water threw me!
Because he’s the spirit of virtue, I decided that Phoenix would be an easy mark for his trickster brother, Tortoise. In the prologue to The Fall of Onagros, Book 1 of Sage, I give a hint of that:

Tortoise took a gray-green step toward Phoenix. “What about you? How about a game?”
“I’ve had enough of your games.” Phoenix lifted his head and gave a ululating cry.
“You won’t interfere with me, then? You promise?”
“Oh, yes. I promise.” Phoenix rose into the air and was gone.

Over the course of the three books, we learn what “game” of Tortoise’s is causing Phoenix’ pain, what new “game” Tortoise is proposing, and what Phoenix will do after having given his word not to interfere. Can the spirit of virtue out-trick a trickster?

Usurper. Lost Heir. Runaway bride. Land on the brink of civil war. All so familiar, until Tortoise — the Divine Creature who ignores the rules of right and wrong — challenges his fellow divinities to meddle. Suddenly, children targeted for murder are adopted, swordsmen turn into blacksmiths, and none are reliably who or what they seem. The four Divine Animals are afoot: Tortoise, Dragon, Unicorn, and Phoenix. Hold on tight.
Book 1: The Fall of Onagros
In the first book of the SAGE trilogy, a legacy is lost, a woman vanishes into thin air, wisdom is found in unexpected places, and a man hopes to defeat a tyrant with tall tales and gossip.

The Fall of Onagros

The Kindle version of The Fall of Onagros will be free July 16-17, 2013!

Thank you so much for gracing my blog with your awesome presence Marian! It’s really an honour to have you here. I take it as I sign that you truly believe me when I say I’m not stalking you, and it wasn’t me at all in the big tree with the bino’s.

My nose is properly in The Fall of Onagros now, and soon everyone else’s can be too, make a note to download it on the 16th or 17th guys!

These are but a few on this author’s works. Find her at the links below. You can find lots more by Marian on her Goodreads page.

Marian Allen on Amazon

Marian Allen’s Blog

Marian Allen on Goodreads

Guest Blogger In The Hut – Lucy Pireel

Posted on Updated on

My guest in the hut today is a wonderful lady of many talents. She is not only a very talented author, but also editor, proof-reader, promoter, and sought after reviewer. Her incredible energy, consistently friendly and approachable character, and a work ethic that you seldom see in us scribblers, have got her where she is today, and I am proud to call her friend. As well as all these things, she finds the time to sometimes post lovely whimsical musings now and then. You will find them in Lucy Pireel’s Blog, but I’ve asked her to share a bit of her awesomeness on my blog too. So without further ado, I give you, my dear friend, Lucy Pireel.

Photo on 2012-12-07 at 18.54 #5

Social Muse

“When men speak ill of thee, live so that nobody will believe them.”
It is what Plato said, muses Lucy.
“It still holds value, you know? Do not let a single human hold any other back from the life that one chooses to live. Writing, reading or listening.”
Lucy sips her coffee, relishing the tranquillity of morning spent on the sofa, and the heavenly taste of dark brown liquid, flowing over her tongue like silk on a baby’s bottom.
“Yes, where was I?”
She shakes her head, and remembers to finish this thought before it flees from her mind, and leaves her head filled with harrowing images of men and mice, of pitchforks and monsters, of …
“No, best not go there.”
Instead she decides to live her life uncaring of the misconception of others and prove the humans wrong. She cannot, will not, let the actions of a single human put her down, not even the lack of action by others who saw it happen and did nothing to stop it.
People feel safety in numbers, in belonging to a group and do not want to be shut out. It is the same in the virtual world which lures and gobbles up human minds. Changes them into creatures different from what a human might be in real life. The fast lane of social media, where things change every other second, and people do not stop to think and consider what is written, do not try and reason, but judge in a split second, and do not for one moment consider the feelings of the ones on the other side. For those are not real people to them. How easy it is to ignore another when one does not have to look the human in the eye and explain ones actions.
“Why not take the time to read what is written and try to unearth what is meant by the writer? Or just be entertained?”
Lucy grins, drinks more coffee and nibbles her toast, offering some to those surrounding her.
“Relax and read, enjoy your tea. Don’t let any human, or their idea of how one should be, hold you back from what could well prove to be the next piece of wonderful writing/reading, or the most wonderful person you have ever encountered in your life.”

Thank you for joining me today dear Lucy, and thank you for those true and wise words. And for the gorgeous picture to go with your thoughts too. And now for a little Kirsch, and some Swiss cheese for us, I think, and a chance for my friends to join your warm and friendly spaces around and about the old world wide web. I’ve listed them all here.

Find Lucy Pireel and her books at the links below:

Facebook Page
Lucy Pireel’s Blog
Lucy Pireel on Twitter
Lucy Pireel on Goodreads
Lucy Pireel on Amazon
Lucy Pireel’s Website
Google Link
Red Gone Bad


Both are of course also available at all other online ebook sellers.

Heaven’s Closed

Guest Blogger In The Hut – Faiz Ahmed

Posted on Updated on

Today I’m very excited to introduce you to my first ever guest blogger. I’ve decided to host a guest every week on my blog, to share other people’s news and opinions here, add a bit of spice, and maybe start up some spritely chats. These posts are completely written by my guests, in their own words, with no interference from me at all. I may agree with them or not – that will generally be my little secret.

So, without further ado – meet my fabulous friend, Faiz Ahmed. Faiz writes because he loves to write. Why else would an engineer with a post graduate degree in business management give up corporate life to enter this profession? You can find him on Google+ but not Facebook. He’s also on LinkedIn but not Twitter. Contact him – he’s more than ready to contribute to your blog as well, and share what he calls his random rants. He replies to every mail that he receives at


The Endangered Species of Writers

Ideas can come easily, however, it is difficult indeed to clearly express them. That is why all are not writers. There are people who say, writing is an art which can be grown (or inculcated). I do not buy this opinion. Either you have this inside you or you don’t. If you have it, it can be polished; the art of concise writing (if desired and needed), for instance, can be worked upon. But until you have this gifted and “inherited from the abode above” quality of expressing yourself using written words, you cannot grow into a writer.

Nowadays I see a new trade called “content writing”. I will be honest, I tried my hand in it as well. Apart from the monotony of writing on the same topic over and over, I received another insight. The writers are like robots, who are given a topic, a fixed word length, a bunch of keywords and they start. Let me share a true example with you. There is this website development company I am associated with called IT Chimes and one content writer there wrote these articles in 3 days.

1. Acknowledge When Your Garage Door Asks for Repairs
2. When You Have To Get Your Garage Doors Repaired?
3. How to Ensure Garage Door Safety?
4. Selecting the Best Garage Door Opener for your Garage Doors
5. Garage Doors – What to Do When They Start to Malfunction?

I am not taking anything away from my good friend Vijay Pratap who wrote these. You must be someone who can never be bored to write these topics which are identical really. Then there is also the point of being ingenious to present the same wine in so many different bottles. But my thought drifted to a different direction. With so much of useless information overloading the web, will the good writing hold any value? After all, we must accept that we are spending less time on webpages than ever. And when we make the internet a place to dump coals, I wonder whether anyone will come looking for the diamonds, such as the writings from Jo Robinson here. How can we stop this proliferation with the democratic equality the internet presents to anyone and everyone?

I personally keep my blog well hidden. Not only have I never promoted, I consciously tried to keep it out of the reach of the search engines. That is me, but there are various other places where people write extremely well and also desire to be recognized. There again, I wonder, how well the search engines will rank these places. Yes, we have the power of social media. I met Jo in Google Plus only, but that is because I consciously made that effort. Will those who are not aware that Jo writes well be able to find her write-ups using any search engine? I wonder….

I would certainly like to see a world where pebbles are differentiated from pearls clearly and distinctively. Not only the writers who use their sincere feelings to create memorable and insightful readings need this but they deserve this.


Thanks for joining me in my guest hut today Faiz! Thank you very much also for the lovely compliments, and the chance to share your view on content writing, and the flooding of the internet with sub-standard scribbles. I’m looking forward to hearing if everyone agrees with you. Now… For some reason I’ve got a terrible urge to write a story about garage doors. And another to quickly Google my name too.

Till next time friends. xxx