Request for Tour Hosts and Google Whine

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Firstly, I’d like to find out if any of you guys would be willing to host me for a launch tour for my next book release towards the end of December this year. I would email everything to you, and all you’d have to do would be to copy and paste. Anyone who hosts me would get Mobi copies of all my books, including the new release, just in case you don’t already have enough books, with absolutely no expectation that you read any of them. I’ll add a Contact Me page below for if you’d like to so I can get your email address.

Secondly, the very book I’m talking about is sometimes quite painful to work on, and I occasionally get myself well wound up and in need of an internet fix to get out of the zone. So earlier on I did just that and had a little zoom through my Google home page. Massive eyeball burn for me. Blech. I don’t know why some people feel such terrible urges to display their parts for unsuspecting scribblers to stumble upon. Rotten pervs. At least it got me out of the zone. I checked the purveyor of gnarly appendages profile, and realised that if I’d had a proper look to begin with I would never have added him to my circles. More blech.

Up to now I pretty much always follow back everyone who follows me. Twitter is easy to see if a site posts actual pornographic pictures, and obviously I’m not going to follow those, although I do quite happily follow and retweet erotica writers. Even though I don’t read or write it, I find them a really supportive and happy bunch of scribblers. It seems counterproductive to me to only follow other writers though, when it’s the people who don’t write who will hopefully turn into future readers, so I’ve always been a follow back bunny and try to interact with a broad spectrum of people.

On Google though, it’s a schlep to open everyone’s profile, especially if you have multiple new followers at a time, and you’re busy busy busy, so generally I just add them all with the Add All button. I won’t be doing that anymore though. I also had a clear out of unfollowers while I was at it today. I follow a lot of sites on all platforms that don’t follow me back, and I don’t expect them to. I’m following because what they have to share interests me. But ninety percent of those I follow is generally out of courtesy because they followed me first. Those arb people who follow thousands on Twitter and then unfollow the lot in one go are all over the place. Google will have the green Friends icon beneath someone’s avatar if you have them in your circles, regardless of whether they have you in theirs, and I’ll always support a friend if I see they’re trying to promote something or get a message across. But I don’t see the point of helping out some tool who is just using me as a number on his massive followers list. In case anyone’s having similar problems there’s a cool app that can help. Circloscope is the G+ equivalent of JustUnfollow on Twitter so the purge was pretty painless today, but definitely no more following back just because I’m nice anymore.

So after that tiny, totally un-blog tour related rant, I’ll add the form and hold thumbs that someone signs up.

Book Worlds

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Reading has to be one of the best stress relievers there are. I haven’t had much time to read for pleasure lately, but after finishing up a couple of projects by the end of next week, I intend to make some. Reading a lovely review of one of my favourite historical writers today (Philippa Gregory – born in Kenya by the way – another notch in our African belt of great ones) brought on a terrible urge to grab one of her books, curl up somewhere comfy, and get reading.

Books take you away from everyday life to other worlds, times, and places. Movies are good, but with a book, you translate the script into what you see with your mind’s eye. I’m sure that every reader sees the world in a book differently to the way the author visualised it.

I read Stephen King’s, The Shining before I saw the movie, and my visuals of those spooks had been a lot scarier than depicted on the big screen.

Reading isn’t only entertainment, it’s creativity. I don’t know if Anne McCaffrey’s Pern dragon series (the best dragon books ever written in my opinion) were ever turned into movies, but if they were, I don’t want to see them. The cover art was more than enough to start me off, and Pern and its dragonriders have very distinct lives in my mind. I don’t want to change that.

Apart from zooming off to distant planets, or times long gone, sometimes when real life gets a bit tedious or generally not much fun, I’ve headed off to the worlds of my favourite funny guys. Not many of my friends love Terry Pratchett quite as much as I do, but his Discworld series has to be one of the cleverest, funniest ever written. It’s not just the humour, which has had me in half an hour, jaw aching, unstoppable laughathons, it’s the sweet little digs at everyone and everything on this planet. These are not children’s books at all by the way – this author can wield sexual innuendo better than most.

Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy series is another pick me up go to place,

as are all of Robert Rankin’s brilliant books,

but I have to say that the funniest books I’ve ever read have been by Tom Sharpe. Definitely not for under eighteens, but as far as I’m concerned, his books are some of the rudest, most hilarious ever written.

So… If you are not having the best day ever, and things all just seem a little too much, whether it’s tedious relatives having partaken of too much gin after the Easter Sunday lunch, or life just getting you down in general, I suggest you zoom on over to Amazon, or your book supplier of choice, and find a lovely little place elsewhere to spend the rest of your day. Also, find some lovely friends, readers, bloggers, and authors on Google+ – I’d love to see you there. And as a P.S. – any of my African friends (or friends from anywhere really), who might have trouble buying books online, give me a shout, and I will be more than happy to send you any of my scribbles that you might want to read for free.

Till next time friends. xxx


Indie Waffle

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My Facebook cut-back is slowly working out. I still have a pile of things to catch up on, but it’s getting smaller now, and not always growing like it used to. My internet signal is still pretty rubbish but at least now I know my regular catch ups will be doable, and at this rate I should have at least one foot on the ground in a few weeks. My excessive reading lately, of things related to SEO and the best ways to market books as an indie author has also led to me reading other related things.

Random House has changed in the royalty payment department, making it appear to be much more author friendly and, for some, make the decision to go indie a little harder. Facebook has been shutting down pages where giveaways are happening, and Amazon now appears to have removed the “Like” button on books. I think that you can “Like” a book if you buy it legitimately though. I’m sensing winds of change coming. Some indie authors who have been working their little backsides off are saying that they’ve had enough of it all. They’re tired. I’ve seen one or two get off the merry go round in the last few weeks, and been very sad to watch them go.

I’ve read articles with opinions on self-publishing that are polar opposites. Some say that reviews are key, and to be obtained at all costs. Others say that reviews have to be honest and freely given – never asked for. Some say that free promotion days are key, and the more books you give away, the more you’ll grow your readership base. Others say that the free days are killing the industry, and that if you wait long enough, you can get any indie book you like for free anyway, so why pay for it in the first place? Some say that books downloaded on free days don’t count as “sales” and should never be taken into account when talking bestseller status. Other’s say a sale is a sale even if the price is $0.00. I’m nowhere near finished my research into all of this, but I’m slowly starting to form opinions. I try never to say never, so they might – probably will – change. I haven’t yet implemented these opinions yet. I’ll wait a little till I’ve read through my whole pile.

With the Amazon search engine, your tagging when you load your book is important. It’s a good idea to have keywords in your product description, and if you can, also your title. This will put your book ahead when anyone searches for a genre or name. Don’t use the names of other already famous authors though – Amazon doesn’t look fondly on this. Or on any other obvious ploys to get good tag words into your title. You need to be clever about the whole thing. Indies are, so you’ll figure it out I’m sure.

My opinion on reviews isn’t properly formed yet. I haven’t actually asked for reviews yet, but I’m thinking that I will, as long as they’re honest. On that subject, and while I’m here, if anyone would like to review Shadow People, please give me a shout, and I’ll happily and speedily send you a copy. Still on the subject, if you spot a typo it’s nicer to tell the author rather than announce it to the world. Typos can be fixed in a jiffy, and a heads up in that department is always appreciated. Even the big guys have gremlins in their e-books – I’ve spotted them in quite a few. Unless a book is absolutely riddled with these little devils, I always focus on the story when I do reviews.

As far as free days are concerned, I do believe that they are very important for indie writers to get their scribbles out to the public. I don’t believe that you should make all your books free though. Short stories are brilliant as freebies, to give readers an idea of whether or not they’d like to read more of what you write, and maybe have one novel, or first book in a series, that you regularly give away for free. There’s not much point in putting in the amount of work that it takes to write, edit, and publish books, if you’re going to give them all away for free.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook shouldn’t be used for hard marketing of anything, including books. Being a writer in a writer’s world, I will share my author friends books and freebies on occasion, but personally, I’m going to use it for what it was created for – socialising. Groups are good for writing talk, but mainly I’ll stick to the friendly waffle on my newsfeed, and use my pages for book related posting.

Twitter so far for me, is the best marketing tool a writer can have. I’ve found friends and readers there, and picked up on a lot of information that I would never had come across anywhere else, or even thought of looking for. I love the 140 letter allocation too – it makes for lots of funnies, and keeps most chats light and easy.

I’m just sticking my toe into LinkdIn groups, and PinInterest and the other social sites are still on my To Do list, so no opinions there yet.

Google right now is a lovely, friendly place to be, and even though there is book marketing going on, it’s not encroaching on our happy chats and posts. The +1’s there are working towards getting our book and blog links out there in the public stream, which is something Facebook can’t do, so that is indeed a bonus. I enjoy socialising on Google, and I love the friends I have there. What we have done is create a community that is all about readers getting to have one on one chats with authors and bloggers if they want to, or even just hang around in the background and watch our antics. Watching writers in their natural environment must be fascinating for “normal” people. Free days and promotions there can only be good, because books and writing in all its forms is what that community is all about. I have a feeling though that us indie authors should be wary of flooding Google, or any other site for that matter, with only book link plugs. Interaction is the key and I believe we’ll get where we’re going there.

So. Tagging and patience seem to be the way to go for right now. Tag the crap out of everything you put out there, and be patient. Some books will never be successful and make millions of dollars. Very few have overnight success. Not many authors hit star status, but quite a lot live very comfortably from the sales of their books. What you put into your marketing campaign is your personal choice. I know that some people set out to write something particular, in a specific genre, specifically to make lots of money, and not necessarily for the love of story telling. And they do make lots of money. You can pay for marketing, you can buy reviews – good ones – and I’m very sorry to say, bad ones too. I read lately that this method of nobbling the competition is not at all uncommon. Most uncool! You can even arrange for thousands of books to be “bought” to lift you up in the rankings – only to be returned shortly afterwards. Again – this is not right. With Amazon and other places apparently trying to level the playing field, I’m sure that new ways of getting readers and sales will be found.

Personally, for now, while doing everything I can to become visible to first time readers of my scribbles, and carrying on with my big digs into how to sell e-books in general, I’m taking the patient route. I want people to want to read my next book, buy it, and with a bit of luck review it. All I’ve picked up from the madness so far, is that apart from doing all you can with the technicalities of search engine optimisation with tags on Amazon, Google, blog and Twitter posts, and being active on Goodreads and related readers sites, the things most beneficial to indie authors are genuine and friendly interactions with your readers, and patience. I’m thinking that slow and steady wins this particular race. Oh – and have more than one book out there, so you can keep some to actually sell, and only one or two for the free. That’s my opinion anyway. Now to get to doing all of these things myself.

Till next time friends. xxx

Van Gogh pd book

Onward And Google

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I’ve made an amazing discovery. Coming back this time after a big internet break, I looked at everything that was “waiting” for me to catch up with, and my heart sank to my feet. Even if I stayed up twenty four hours for a couple of days there was no way I could look at everything that had come in, and I didn’t have a hope of doing everything that had been asked of me. Looking at the little pile of things that I really want to do for myself, and have been putting off in favour of these manic internet catch-ups, it occurred to me that I was missing the point entirely. By taking on too much I wasn’t doing anyone any favours, least of all myself. So I made a very large decision. Something big had to go. I’ll never give up my lovely Twitter, and most certainly not my blog addiction, so it was cut back pretty much all the way either on Facebook or Google+. With Google surging ahead in popularity, and having all the pros with its search engine, new communities and hangouts, Facebook lost the toss up fairly quickly. I nervously set about reversing from the many things I’ve been active with on that site, expecting anger or irritation because I was “letting people down”. Across the board, all I got was not only support and kindness, but also total agreement. Facebook is not working out as the best platform for indie writers to sell books.

We’re all zooming around sharing our work with each other there. We have formed amazing friendships and bonds with other writers. We’ve supported each other, cheered each other on, and read each others books, which is lovely, and we’ll hopefully stay friends forever. But if this particular form of marketing is selling thousands of books for some I haven’t seen it. What I have experienced myself is a manic feeling that I “must” join everything, post everywhere, and do everything on Facebook, and somewhere along the way I stopped chatting to friends on my wall, catching up on their news, and seeing the pictures and photos that mark their journeys. I missed this. In fact there are always so many notifications to deal with that I haven’t cruised down my newsfeed for months. Even so I still wasn’t able to keep up, and I kept finding posts on my pages or elsewhere from friends put there weeks ago that I missed, and I cringed at the thought of how thoughtless and rude I must appear. Not being answered can be very hurtful, and I certainly wouldn’t want to hurt my friends. So now the deed is done, and I’m exploring different ways of uniting my stories with readers who want to read them. I believe there are better ways than only posting links to books on purely social sites, and that’s what I’ll be working on for the next few days. My first day without hundreds of Facebook notifications to attend to has been fantastic so far, and I do believe that I’ll be much more productive in general from now on, never fail to notice another comment from a friend again, and in the end, do more of what I set out to do in the first place. Write books.

I think that my point would be that quantity can never beat quality. Do fewer things for fewer people, but do them well. Spreading yourself too thin isn’t only bad for you, but for all those around you too. Running yourself ragged is not the way to go at all. It’s also good for you and those around you to also do what you want to do. I’m not saying that you should only ever do what you want to do. We all have to do things that we don’t really want to. That’s what life’s all about. But there is not much point to a life lived purely doing what others want, or what you think others want. I certainly got that wrong. Nobody expects too much of you at all, and most people are a lot nicer than we give them credit for. They mostly wish only the best for you too. Well. There are maybe one or two pucker nasty people, but not many, and certainly not one of those beauties are worth wasting any seconds on. In celebration of this new found freedom, I’m off to read Guy Kawasaki’s, What The Plus!, and have pea soup with a poached egg floater for breakfast. Why not?

Come and join us at my favourite Google+ community, and the place where I’ll be hanging out the most. Everyone’s welcome. We’re a friendly bunch.

Till next time friends. xxx

Van Gogh pd book

Where Aliens Fear To Tread

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It’s finally happened. I asked my computer a question it couldn’t answer. Rather, I googled a question that answered most unsatisfactorily. What I want to know is, what would actually happen if an alien-ish spacecraft landed on the Whitehouse lawn? I promise that I haven’t been relieved of my very last marble. It’s just that I’m writing a scene where that happens. I was about to Google and ask about the whole security setup there, as you do, then it occurred to me that that might upset people. To be honest, knowing the sorts of things us scribblers get up to, more than likely the Chief of Security for Alien Spaceships Landing in the Rosebushes would just say, “Aaah. Another one of those weird writer people again.” And ignore me completely. But on the off-chance that they might think I was trying to figure out a way to come for tea and crumpets with the big guy, I changed the wording. I’m thinking I should just make something up in this instance. Considering some of the aliens in my worlds, it’s probably better that I don’t give them the lay of the land. You never know who eyeballs your blog posts these days. I saw the video of that snake-eyed television presenter. I’ve probably said too much already. Anyway.

Apart from slowly catching up in general with various projects, I’m working harder than I knew I could getting Shadow People ready for its zero birthday on the 8th February. January was pretty much a write-off as far as work was concerned, so I’m pleased with myself right now. I’m actually really enjoying reading it as I check for typos, and thinking that one or two other people might too. Getting ignored for a few weeks seems to have made it easier to edit. When I read that Stephen King writes a story all the way through, and then puts it aside for seven months before editing and publishing, it didn’t really make sense to me. Surely it’s better to edit when the story is fresh in your mind? Looks like our Steve is right again. Right now though, I’d better get back to figuring out whether to wait politely for the aliens to exit their ship, or blast the little buggers for squishing the hydrangeas.

Till next time friends. xxx

No Ninnies Allowed

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I am most thankful to my friends, not only for all of your kind words, but also for not forgetting me during my latest disappearance. Booting up my old desk dinosaur this morning and seeing all your tweets, shares and mentions, when you really didn’t have to, has warmed my old heart, and made me come over all slooshy now. Thank you for being most cool my friends. I will get all of you right back.

It’s not easy to flatten me. This particular dose of malaria is a doozy. Going by my own track record, I should be feeling a lot better than I am today, so I’ll have to take a course of antibiotics too, and hope that that does the trick. I reckon that I recognised the symptoms just a tad late this time. Yesterday I was flattened. Today is better only in that my eyes are open, and I can sit on my chair without falling off it. The fever’s still hanging in there though, and I’m far from steady on my pins. Shake, rattle, and roll it is. I have the whole Morticia Adams look going on, and my kidneys feel like they’ve already done the steak and kidney pie route, and just been reinserted. Actually, the mention of any sort of food is really not a good idea. I’m not the best patient in the world anyway. I also have a terrible aversion to needles in veins. A good old injection that doesn’t involve arteries is no problem at all, and I tend to doze off at the dentist – so I’m not an actual ninny. It’s just the thought of the whole needle, vein intrusion thing that I don’t like.

As soon as I could focus my eyes after my first caesarean section, way back in the mists of time, I really just couldn’t deal with looking at the drip attached to my hand. It gave me the willies. The nurses refused to remove it, as did the doctor, so I took it out myself, waddled off to the loo, and refused to come out until they promised to leave my veins totally unprobed for the duration of my stay there. I think that the speed that I zoomed off with so soon after major surgery must have convinced them of my indestructibility so they reluctantly agreed. Having a blood test for me is always epic. Even though the prick of the needle doesn’t bother me at all, I always have to cover my eyes. There is no way I could look at that vial filling redly. I have been conned in multiple ways, because I never go willingly. It takes a heart of gold and much patience to be my physician, so I generally forgive all the doctorly laughter and snide remarks about my cowardice, and the pillow on my face. Not so sure about bedside manners around here.

I’m one of those people most hated by medical practitioners the world over. When I’m confronted by any sort of illness or injury, I tend to research it first, and head off to my MD armed with my Google obtained knowledge. Actually, I also have my very own copy of the Merck Manual, which has over the years often convinced me that I’ve had everything from botulism to heart disease. I haven’t found and trained a new doctor yet since we moved here last year. I should probably get on to that, considering my current state. Some of them get quite beady though, point out all their certificates on the walls, and bang on about the years of study, internship, and sleepless weeks tending to the ailing and infirm. Well. I’ve read Sydney Sheldon, so I know what you lot really get up to. I’m missing my old doctor quite a bit right now. He was very sweet, and always listened patiently to my arguments for and against his own professional diagnoses. My medical chest is filled with all sorts of tablets that I bought only so as not to hurt his feelings. My suspicion of any medication other than vitamin c is huge, and I will indeed bite any hand that tries to force anything into my beak if I suffer infirmity when I get old. I doubt the infirmity thing though. I’m far too stubborn. I reckon I’ll be one of those tough old nuts that zooms around until one day they just fall over.

I’m back on track now, albeit very slowly for a bit. My feathered flock have relaxed too. Yesterday, every time I opened a fevered lid, I found myself eyeball to eyeball with a concerned parrot or weaver. The weaver was mainly intent on pecking my eyeball I think though. I wonder about our little Jelly sometimes. So now, before I begin to find out all that I’ve been missing, I invite you all to join our community of lovely warm people, talented authors, bloggers, and poets, for chats about anything at all.

Also, check out this little book I found on Amazon. I’m not sure if it’s always free, but it is today. Grab it for the basics on navigating Google+.

Till next time friends. xxx