Tag Archives: ebooks

The Unquiet Sword is Available on Amazon

Cover to The Unquiet Sword, book two of the Fair Folk seriesAmazon offer a much shorter preorder period than the other retailers, but with the release date for The Unquiet Sword getting closer and closer, the ebook is finally available for preorder.

Unfortunately, Amazon don’t allow preorders for paperbacks, so be sure to sign up to my email list to find out as soon as they’re available for purchase!

Preorder The Unquiet Sword for just 0.99 today: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Faerie is forgotten. The Western King must be brought to his knees.

Thomas Rymour and his friends are free from the stinking prisons of the Western Kingdom. Their quest is clear: stop the war and free the dragons of Tir. But they have no food, no horses, no maps, and a traitor in their midst. Their hopes of success are small.

But the Western Kingdom is not a kingdom united. The dwarfs strain against their contracted servitude to the elfs. And there are fanatics and terrorists that seek to bring about the end of the world. Scattered malcontents that might be persuaded to rise up and offer their aid.

And they have Caledyr, the ancient sword that can break the Western magics. A sword that whispers to Tom. The more he uses its power, the stronger its hold on him. And now Tom isn’t sure if his journey is one of liberation or vengeance.

Is it the sword that thirsts for violence and blood? Or is there something dark growing inside Tom himself?

The Unquiet Sword is just 0.99 for the peorder period only. Don’t miss out! Amazon UK | Amazon US | Kobo | Apple iBookstore | Barnes & Noble

Outcast Journeys is a box set of nine SF&F ebooks featuring The Fey Man

Outcast Journeys fantasy ebook box set

Everyone loves a deal. And an ebook box set is a great deal for everyone. The authors get more exposure, the readers get a bundle of ebooks for a bargain price. So it’s great to be able to tell you about Outcast Journeys, a box set of nine SF&F ebooks for 0.99 which features The Fey Man!

From dragons to space ships, experience the trials and battles of memorable characters as they navigate magical worlds.

The box set offers nine ebooks for just 0.99. That’s a pretty good deal! Get Outcast Journeys today.

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Apple iBookstore | Kobo | Smashwords | Nook

The books of Outcast Journeys

Leros of the Underworld: The Tournament by Nathan Anton

Introducing Leros and his sinister alter ego, Demiro. His adventures in Earth Alpha pit him against a tyrannical queen.

Forgotten Relics by Tiffany Cherney

Leader of a crew of thieves on the starship Kathya, Rei’s attempt to strike back against her foes could change her life forever.

The Unfinished Song: Book 1 Initiate by Tara Maya

In a world of pixies, roving cannibals, and hexers, exiled warrior Kavio searches for a new life, while Dindi faces an initiation that no one in her clan has ever survived.

Sky Stone by Scarlett Van Dijk

When a magical journey transfers Skyla to a magical medieval land at war, she steps into a destiny made for her by the gods.

Rys Rising by Tracy Falbe

The magical tabre created the rys, but then reviled them as unworthy failures. The fallout will drag two human civilizations into a war that tests the faith of all involved.

The Amber Isle by Ashley Capes

A rogue named Never is on a quest to learn his true name and lift a curse on his blood.

A Forest of Eyes by Ashley Capes (Special bonus sequel to the Amber Isle)

Poisoned and furious, Never must add a desperate quest for a cure to his existing search for truth.

Roc Isle: The Descent by Alex James

Lord Azure of the Azure-Cloud Clan struggles to raise an army against those who assassinated his parents.

The Fey Man by James T Kelly

Thomas Rymour, a prophet who cannot lie, joins the battle to free the dragons, but can he ignore the lure of Faerie?

Nine SF&F ebooks for just 0.99. Get Outcast Journeys today.

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Apple iBookstore | Kobo | Smashwords | Nook

VAT regulations will mean ebooks prices increase.

VAT and Ebooks: Price Hikes on the Horizon?

Let’s get this out of the way: some time ago there was some brouhaha about big companies using loopholes to avoid paying tax to the countries in which they operate. I’m sure we can all agree that this is sneaky and naughty. The European Union agrees so, from 1st January, VAT (Value Added Tax) will be calculated based on the which country the sale took place in. Buy an ebook in the UK and the UK government gets 20% VAT. Great. But it also means ebooks are going to get more expensive.

Here’s the problem. Right now Amazon ask me how much I want to charge when I set up a new ebook. For example, right now The Fey Man is £1.83 for the UK. From that, Amazon deduct a 30% cut and a delivery fee of £0.07, leaving me an estimated royalty of £1.23. Until January 1st.

When the new EU regulations come into effect, Amazon will also deduct 20% UK VAT. So, based on the same list price, I’d be left with an estimated royalty of £0.95. Ouch.

Passing the cost along forces writers to make a choice: raise prices or lose royalties. Indie writers are lucky; we at least get to make that choice for ourselves. I suspect the big publishing houses will opt to raise prices and their writers won’t get much say in it.

But making that decision won’t be easy for the indie writer. No-one wants to make less money for the same work. But readers of ebooks are still very price-sensitive; will they balk at an extra 20%? Making it trickier, Amazon will be automatically hiking the price for us on January 1st; if we choose to keep prices static, we’ll have to manually lower them again. I imagine many won’t bother.

The take-away here? There’ll be no January sales for ebooks, so you’d better buy them now.

What do you think about the new VAT regulations? Are you willing to pay more for your ebooks? Leave a comment and let me know.

Has Amazon Ruined Goodreads?

It’s a burden being right all the time. Not too long ago I wrote a post stating that Amazon needs to embrace social media. And what happened? Amazon bought Goodreads, the leading social media site for book readers. Did I call it or what?

Well, not really. I had imagined Amazon introducing some homegrown social solutions. But I forgot the Golden Rule: when you’re as big as Amazon, you don’t have to make your own products; you just have to buy other people’s. So Amazon saw what Goodreads had created and got them some of that. But is this a good thing for readers?

Otis Chandler, one of the founders of Goodreads, claims that he sold the site to Amazon for three reasons:

• Greater reach – Amazon can extend Goodreads services to all of its customers now;
• Ereader integration – Amazon can now bring social interaction directly into the reading experience;
• Independence – Amazon will keep their hands off the wheel.

Yeah, I’m not buying that last one.

That Goodreads was an independent entity was what made it so great. It fostered a truly open environment and encouraged free discussion. Goodreads was somewhere you could go to talk books online without a salesman taking notes over your shoulder. But now it has a vested interest in making you buy from Amazon. Cue heavy advertising, links aplenty and pretty soon features will be exclusive to the Kindle. And Goodreads will exist solely to build up Amazon and break down its competition.

Are there any upsides to the deal? I’m not counting all these social reading ideas; reading will always be a solitary experience no matter how many buttons you add to the ereader. But Amazon will bring money and resources to the party. That might help Goodreads develop their mobile app, for instance, or improve the online interface. And it’s unlikely that Amazon are going to mess much the site, other than channeling buyers to their site. So the Goodreads we know won’t go anywhere any time soon.

But the data belongs to the Mighty Zon now. That will be a bitter pill for some people to swallow.

But perhaps I’m being too negative. What do you think? Is Amazon going to break Goodreads or can things only get better?

Books Don’t Need Reinventing

I recently watched a fascinating presentation by Mark Waid called Reinventing Comics. If you like comics it’s worth a watch (I believe it’s a preview of the future), but today I’m writing about books. Because while comics might need reinventing, books do not.

A lot of the comments I read on this video said things like “now someone needs to do this for novels” and “when will this be done for all books?” I was surprised because it’s been tried and people are still trying.

Reinventing books is an old idea that isn’t gaining any traction.

Apple released software that makes it easy to create interactive ebooks with video, audio, multi-touch models and more. Booktrack lets you add effects and a soundtrack to ebooks. And now Socialbook wants to make reading a social experience, letting your friends scribble notes in the margins of your book, highlight portions, pull out quotes and even re-arrange the content.

But none of these gimmicks have revolutionised books which remain, largely, words on the page. And for one very simple reason:

Gimmicks are distractions from the narrative.

I downloaded the Charlie Brown’s Christmas app last year. I was all hopped up on Christmas chocolate and wanted to try an interactive book. And while it’s not an awful little app, all the interactive elements were just…naff.

•Voiceover? Switched off; I like reading, not being read to.
•Tap the pictures to make them move? Why? All they do is wiggle to a sound effect.
• Play the music along with Schroeder? All that does is remind me I’m no good at music.

And all of these things stopped the story from flowing and yanked me out of the narrative again and again. No-one likes being interrupted while they read, but in this case I had paid for the interruptions to be part and parcel of the book itself.

Trying to cram in interactivity and video and the social media isn’t reinventing books.

It’s creating a bastard of book and app, a Jack of all trades. It removes focus from the key element, the words, in favour of bells and whistles. But people who want bells and whistlea buy apps. And people who want words buy books.

So to the people who think that books need to enter the 21st Century, I have only this to say: keep all your bells and whistles. A good book needs only the words and a quiet place to read them in.

And letting your friends rearrange the content of your book? Are you high?

Why Amazon Needs To Be More Like Facebook

Amazon’s review system is broken and open to abuse. Certain writers were posting damning reviews on competitors’ books and glowing reviews on their own. Others were paying strangers to leave reviews. And readers were swarming good books with bad reviews because they didn’t like what it had to say and wanted it to fail. It’s all bad voodoo and something needs to change. So Amazon decreed that no writer is permitted to review books in their own genre. But that punishes every writer for the sins of the few. And it doesn’t stop the swarming problem. So what are they to do?

Easy. Make Amazon more like Facebook.

Sounds strange? Not at all. There’s three good reasons for my cockamamie scheme.

1. Transparency

A major problem with Amazon reviews right now is the anonymity; anyone can create multiple accounts and hide behind a username. Obi1 can swarm a book and drag down its star rating. lukes88 can post fake reviews of his book. But Facebook demands your real name. And a picture. There’s nothing to hide behind.

2. Conversation

Furthermore such a system wouldn’t even require formal reviews. Each product page could collate conversations about the product. So sending a public message to a friend suggesting they check out a book pops up as a “review”. And though these people are strangers, a shopper can see someone making the effort to recommend the book. That’s a strong review in and of itself!

3. Judge and ye be judged too

Doing all of this will also mean that when I review a book you’re better equipped to judge me as well as my review. After all you can see my activity. You can see I’m a writer, for instance. You can also see that I have a hardcore devotion to Michael Jackson. And look, I’ve liked a page called “Vote down this Michael Jackson book”. My review probably isn’t legit…

If this all sounds like an extreme solution to the problem, it shouldn’t be. If readers can’t trust the reviews on Amazon then Amazon itself becomes viewed as unreliable as the reviews it allows to remain on its site. And the same applies to others; Goodreads, for instance, has suffered from swarming as well.

Trustworthy reviews are vital to any online book seller. Removing the anonymity and adding a social element can go a long way towards restoring them. And then I can review books again.

Would you like to see Amazon become more like Facebook? Or would you avoid that like a big, corporate plague? Please let me know; I’m interested to hear what people think!

Review: Terry Pratchett’s Nome Trilogy

“They say things like ‘How are you?’ and ‘Have a nice day’ and ‘What do you think of this weather, then?’ What these sounds mean is: I am alive and so are you.”

No More Books 2012 didn’t just mean I couldn’t buy new books; it meant I couldn’t reread any I already owned. That was tougher than I originally thought. I didn’t realise how often I reread my favourite books and I missed it terribly. So one of the first things I did this year was reread one of my favourite trilogies.

Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad Trilogy is, in a word, brilliant. It tells the tale of the nomes, little people that live amongst us unnoticed. This group is led by Masklin who wants nomes to be able to go home and be safe. And he learns that home is another planet.

Made up of Truckers, Diggers and Wings, these are kids books written in the best way possible. They don’t talk down to the reader and there are plenty of jokes for the adults too (although some of them are a little groan-worthy).

“Do you not even remember that you are shipwrecked?”
“I’m Masklin,” said Masklin. “I don’t know who shipwrecked is.”

The nomes are very literal-minded and don’t quite understand the human world (not unlike children themselves) which grants Pratchett carte blanche to make fun of anything and everything. He has a gift for picking out the ludicrous in our lives and ‘explaining’ it in the most hilarious way. He doesn’t hold back here. Nor does he shy away from big ideas. I’ve reread these books a dozen times each and they’re still making me think!

Humans were big and stupid, that was true enough, but there was something unstoppable about them and they seemed to be controlled by bits of paper.

If you’ve ever thought of reading a Terry Pratchett book, you couldn’t find a better introduction. Short, hilarious, a great story and it will even make you think a little. I cannot recommend these books enough. The fact that I’ve reread them a dozen times tells you everything you need to know.

Year in Review: Books of 2012

With 2013 around the corner and that Mayan nonsense finally disproven once and for all, it’s time to look back at 2012. Of course, just as my review of 2011 was hardly timely, being unable to purchase new books means this is more a list of good books you’ve probably already heard of. But you should still read them. Here’s the best of No More Books 2012 (in no particular order):

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Purchased purely because of all the fuss being made over the series and read purely so I could watch said series, I must say I did really enjoy this. I found myself tearing through it. Martin manages to create an enormous and grounded world without needing to refer to maps or requiring you to memorise a thousand place names. It’s a remarkable feat. He draws characters well, too. I found myself very attached to a number of them (although perhaps not as many as he’d hoped; there’s dozens of viewpoint characters!)

It is very dark, however. The good guys never seem able to catch a break. That said, I’m not entirely certain who the good guys are.

Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer

This is the non-fiction I dream about. This is a book so fascinating, so endlessly interesting, that for weeks after finishing it I was talking about it to anyone who would listen. Parasites seem so uncommon in the Western world yet not only is this a mistaken belief but they have also had a much greater effect on us then we’d like to believe. Zimmer even puts forward a good argument to suggest that parasites helped create sex!

It’ll make your skin itch like crazy but, if you’re at all into science, you have to read this book.

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

I’m a big fan of Hobb’s Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies but I was unsure about this one. With different characters and a different setting, would I still enjoy her work?

I should never have doubted her. Hobb writes compelling characters and that’s what keeps you reading. Hero or villain, you want the characters to achieve their goals and you suffer when they don’t get them. And you suffer a lot, because Hobb seems to delight in torturing her characters. And it’s brilliantly entertaining.

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

This is a marvellous story in the same vein as The Turn of the Screw. Just like James’ novel, Woman in Black is short and without filler, offering only a building tension that doesn’t explode into cheap imagery or easy scares. Instead it leaves you unsettled, even after you’ve put it down. It stays with you for a long time; the best sign possible for a ghost story.

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

I didn’t see the twist coming. There, I said it. I appear to be the only one but, even if I had predicted the ending, that wouldn’t stop me recommending this novel. Watson managed to write a touching novel that’s also a master class in the slow-build, the tension rising slowly but surely until I was tearing through the pages, desperate to get to the end.

So those are my top books of 2012. What were yours? Leave a comment and let me know.

Lessons From No More Books 2012

They said I’d never make it. Ten months without buying, borrowing or otherwise acquiring any new books? Popular opinion had me snapping and going on an Amazon binge within weeks. That or turning into a drooling fool (more so, that is).

But it’s almost here. The end of No More Books 2012. It’s not been easy. Nor has it been fun. And with my list of books to buy longer than it’s ever been, some people might be asking why I bothered. I asked myself that question many times but I believe it’s a good idea for any bookaholic. Here’s what No More Books has taught me:

1. Use Your Library.

Like most bookaholics, I buy books in the belief that I’ll read them one day. Of course, one day is only rarely today. Until that happens, you’re building up a library with only one member who never steps foot inside. But No More Books forced me to dust off that library card and wander the shelves.

2. There’s Too Many Of Them.

That said, I told myself 2013 would see the library almost exhausted. I was wrong. It won’t make a dent. And, as any character who says “there’s too many of them” is invariably caught and killed, expect my books to devour me any minute.

3. Who Needs New Books?

Why does someone with a burgeoning library of unread books need new ones anyway? No More Books has made me realise that, a lot of the time, buying books comes more from a collector’s mindset than anything else. And whilst owning books gives me pleasure, it’s a hollow joy if I’ll never have time to read them.

4. Kill The Impulse Buy.

It’s easy to rationalise impulse buying a book because society tells us that books are good. They’re educational, increase literacy and all that jazz. Society wants me to buy a book. How can I refuse?

But I’m not made of money and impulse buys can often become paperweights. No More Books stamps out the impulse to buy first and think later. Hopefully that habit will last and make me a more discerning shopper.

5. Discerning Shoppers Save Money.

In theory, anyway. I may or may not have significantly contributed to my DVD collection instead.

Think you’ll give No More Books a try? Or have these been the ravings of a madman? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Interview with Paranormal Young Adult Author Airicka Phoenix

Next up in my sporadic series of author interviews is Airicka Phoenix. I can’t remember who followed whom first, but it’s safe to say that my Twitter feed certainly became a lot livelier once Airicka was amongst the little blue pigeons! She’s got a good sense of humour and is always fun to talk to, so I thought I would have a few words with her about her new novel.

So, Airicka, the soapbox is yours. Could you start by telling us a little about your path to becoming a writer?

I suppose the only answer I can give to this that will make no sense at all is that Beauty and the Beast brought me here. It was grade 3 and we were supposed to draw pictures that told a story then put words to them. I was obsessed with Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast, but I never liked how Belle didn’t get the chance to kick butt and it was too sappy (I was 8!). So I rewrote the story. The pictures were horrible and you can’t make out a word, but it was good enough to get framed by my mother! Lol. I’ve been hooked to writing ever since. Touching Smoke is only one book in a long line of plots and characters just waiting to get out.

Airicka Phoenix's Touching Smoke will be released at the end of July 2012.Tell us about Touching Smoke.

Touching Smoke is about a girl’s desire to know her past, only to discover her past is better left in the dark. It’s a young adult cocktail of romance, adventure, mystery, and fantasy and paranormal. The story stars Fallon Braeden, a sixteen-year-old gypsy on the run with her mother in their beat up Impala. Things haven’t always been normal, but they take a drastic dip for the downright insane the day Fallen starts an earthquake and everything falls apart. Suddenly, she finds herself hunted by creatures with unusual abilities, haunted by a ghost baring a frighteningly familiar resemblance and falls in love with the last person she should ever give her heart to. So as her foundation crumbles beneath her, Fallon teeters on the brink of two devastating revelations: follow her heart or save the world.

What inspired this trilogy?

Touching Smoke came to me by accident. I was actually vanquishing a demon in another story when the idea for Touching Smoke popped into my head. It took me about a day to write out the plot, fill in the characters and Touching Smoke was born.

You describe yourself as a paranormal young adult (or YA) author. The genre has been made very popular of late by the Twilight books. Did they have an influence on you?

Getting inspired has never been an issue. Getting all the stories bubbling up in my head out is the real problem. On whether or not Touching Smoke was directly inspired by Twilight or any other book/movie, etc, I can say with complete honesty that it wasn’t. However, in that same breath, Touching Smoke was inspired by another book that I will be releasing soon.

Can you tell us anything about that book?

It’s also a YA novel. I like to think it is a Buffy meets Romeo & Juliet. It’s about a girl named Clara who is a Hunter for the human race. Her job is to kill the supernatural, until she comes across a demon she can’t kill and breaks all the rules to keep him alive.

I’m not sure when this book will come out, but I’m hoping soon.

What is it that drew you to the paranormal YA genre?

I have my mom to thank for that. I grew up watching The Witches, The NeverEnding Story and The Labyrinth, just to name a few. My mom always had a passion for anything that had magic so our house was always full of superstitious stories and stories of romance and danger. My mom had a flare for making up some of the most amazing stories and I would sit up for hours listening to her. When I got older, I started writing my own. The young adult genre has always held something special for me. I love the innocence of the characters and those stages between childhood and adulthood when everything is the most fragile.

Touching Smoke will be published via Treasureline Publishing. What made you work with them rather than go it alone?

I thought of going at it alone several times, but the process had always daunted me so much that I kept waiting for Touching Smoke to get noticed by a publisher or waste away on my hard drive. Treasureline Publishing actually published my first short story, Torrid, and took up Touching Smoke after I got to talking with the lady in charge of the company. She took Touching Smoke under her wing, I designed the cover and the rest is history.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be a writer?

It’s only as hard as you let it be. Be wary of who you let into those fragile moments when you are at your most vulnerable and always keep moving.

And, finally, what’s the problem with red Smarties?

OMG! LOL!! I think I cracked a rib! Oh my goodness! I thought we agreed this discussion would remain hush-hush! *sigh* all right, well, I actually have a phobia against most ‘red’ foods. So it’s not just smarties. I won’t eat or drink or touch most things red. But I do like strawberries, raspberries and applies which seem to be exempted in my weirdness.

If this has whetted your appetite, you can download Touching Smoke here (if you’re in the UK) or here (if you’re in the US)will be released at the end of July. You can also visit Airicka’s website and let her know what you think of her red food phobia. She’s on Twitter and Goodreads too, so she hasn’t anywhere to hide…