Tag Archives: Ebooks
Top of the Lake Bottoms Out Again

China Girl TOTL

Okay, it’s kind of my fault for not learning my lesson the first time… check this out.

When it comes to “Top of the Lake, China Girl” it’s a bit of a giveaway to tell you – there’s no Chinese girl in the story and not even any bloody lake. Sure, there’s a bunch of Asian hookers, but I’m pretty sure none of them are actually Chinese.

You get to see a bit more of the star actress, Elizabeth Moss… she’s put on about fifteen kilos. Maybe that’s why she spends most of every episode on the brink of tears and about to collapse into a puddle of self-pity. Likewise, her cost-star, Gwendoline Christie (above) has a tendency to go all sooky and needy. My issue is that these are supposed to be gun-toting, hardened police officers. For god’s sake, if you’ve got a problem, just shoot some bastard. Don’t burst into fucking tears and sit cross-legged on the floor and binge-drinking alcohpops.

Talking of hardened, apparently it’s a requirement for inner-city Sydney male detectives in 2017 to appear like, dress and act like 1970’s porn stars, complete with weird little mustaches. These guys give misogyny a bad name – and I don’t mean in the usual, unpleasant context. I mean, they do it so badly. Seriously, if you want to commit any crime in Sydney, I recommend targeting the inner-city and King’s Cross. All the cops stationed there are either women who break into hysterical tears at the first sign of trouble, or weedy little detectives with a stack of Playboy magazines in the bottom drawer.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Moss has a strange habit of standing really close to people who want to attack her – so, no surprise, she gets attacked a lot. Even David Wenham, who’s crippled and in a wheelchair – and achieves looking even more creepy than usual with a really bad haircut –  manages to trundle around the desk and start strangling her.  For fuck’s sake, Liz! He’s in a wheelchair. Just tip the dickhead over on his side and kick him the nuts. Or shoot him.

Another bloke, the Main Obnoxious Villain, is someone Moss allows to sit right next to her on the beach. She gets all uppity and upset when he suddenly starts gnawing on her nose. And she still doesn’t shoot him.

In fact, the only thing in the whole series that gets shot to pieces is the credibility of the characters, the plot and possibly the careers of several well-known actors. I reckon Elizabeth Moss is a great actress, so I’m intrigued to understand how things can go so wrong. Jane Campion’s got production and script writing credits for TOTLCG, maybe she just wrote the title and left the rest stuck to a table in McDonald’s for someone else to finish – and didn’t bother to check later about the lack of any lakes or Chinese girls in the story.

Nicole Kidman, as it’s well-known, appears in the show doing her bit for Oz TV… a very odd bit. She’s a married woman who has discovered late in life she prefers to be a grumpy lesbian. Apparently lesbians aren’t allowed to go into hairdressing salons  and get a decent hairstyle – or maybe she goes to the same place as David Wenham?  She has that permanent “finger stuck in a power socket” look. Maybe it’s a result of having to listen to Keith Urban writing songs all time?

I hung in there and watched it through to see who killed the not-Chinese prostitute… and I still don’t know. The storyline kind of whimpered into nothing (a bit like Moss’s character). If anyone can tell me who murdered who, I’d appreciate letting me know in the Comments.

Talking of murdering, I’ve mapped out my next horror book. It’s about a school reunion – except one of the classmates who rolls up has been dead for years. Looking forward to writing new stuff again.

By the way, if you want to try any of my audiobooks, I’ve revamped the website page here. And in a few days my books will be available “wide” again at iBooks, Kobo and so on. I’ll be adding links.

New Lukas Boston Covers… Again

All Covers

When you self-publish on Amazon there’s this thing you have to do, which is about choosing an appropriate category for your books. You know, like “Crime” or “Mystery” or, of course, “Romance” with shape-shifting werewolves that look like Brad Pitt… and so on.

In the past I’ve tried to dip my toe in lots of different categories at the same time in the hope of reaching a wider browsing audience – more results in Searches, in other words. Seems that’s a bad idea, because instead of creating more results it kind of dilutes the effectiveness of your Search terms in all those categories, rather than concentrating on just one or two.

So with that in mind, I’ve gone back to the “Mystery” theme for my Lukas Boston books and redesigned the covers… again. I’m also going to make the first book free permanently, but that’ll take a few days. I’ll let you know when it’s done.

In the meantime, what do you think of the new covers?

How To Read Books Germ-Free

Kindle

Yes, yes… I know…

Die-hard readers of printed books argue that there’s nothing to match the “feel” of those real pages. The crunchy noise they make as you turn them, keeping your partner awake in bed beside you and prompting hissed threats of divorce if you don’t keep quiet. The way that books, like bits of toast, always fall on the floor the wrong way and flip closed, losing your place. The comforting weight of a good tome, like carry around a loaf of rye bread in your backpack. Attracting rats and mice.

Don’t forget germs. A good book can cause people to burst into tears. Tears means sniffles, sniffles means snot, and snot means germs — this stuff’s bubbling out of your nose for God’s sake. It’s hardly going to be sterile, is it? The avid reader probably leaves enough germs on a book’s cover to wipe out an entire city with pneumonia.

Still, we’re very sentimental about the printed novel. It’s kind of romantic in a sleeping spouse-enraging, doughy, germ-ridden sort of way.

Okay, to be fair in this digital, piracy-plagued age there’s a lot to be said for a real book. Your average Stephen King-like novel is around 200,000 words. A printed book is a bloody efficient way to store 200K words. It doesn’t need batteries or a power outlet, it won’t break if you drop it, and when someone else wants to borrow your book it means you’ll hand over your copy, which should prompt many people to say, “Piss off, buy your own — you bloody cheapskate.” That’s good for the author’s sales.

But be honest, as much as you’re keen to hang onto the past and bury your face in several pulped trees when you’re reading, have you ever tried an eReader?

They’re awesome. If you consider buying something like a Kindle Paperwhite it’s not like reading from a screen at all. Amazon has gone to great lengths to create an experience akin to reading a printed paper page — without the snot and germs. However, if you want to try ebooks cost-free you don’t need an eReader at all, if you already own some kind of tablet. Free apps will mimic a Kindle perfectly.

Personally, although I own one of the original Kindles, lately I prefer to read books on my iPad using the Kindle app. For a very simple reason — I can set the app to display white text on a black background and read in the complete dark without disturbing my wife in bed… apart from the constant sniffing, burping, farting and yawning of which I’m apparently guilty of (yes me, not her, but I think she’s making it up). The app never forgets what page I’m on — although I often forget what I read the night before — I can increase the size of the text when I’ve been drinking, and being an iPad I can plug in some headphones and listen to soothing book-reading music at the same time (like Nine Inch Nails or Ozzy Osbourne).

Ebooks are generally cheaper, even best-sellers are usually much less in price than the printed versions. There is a wealth of very cheap, “indie” authors’ books, too. In fact, a zillion free books are out there. Okay, not all of them are well-written. In fact, there’s a lot of crap self-published and the good indie authors are the first to acknowledge this, but don’t let that deter you, because there really are some excellent indie authors doing sci-fi, thrillers, horror — it’s not just about romance and erotica like 50 Shades of Grey. Of course, if you are on the look-out for a bit of naughty porn-without-pictures you should find the odd title or two… yes, I’m being sarcastic.

I don’t have to convince you about eReaders. The apps are free, almost every ebook is available in a decent-sized sample that’s free so it’s a “try before you buy” no-risk purchase. In Australia (dunno about anywhere else) you can even borrow ebooks through your local library. For free — it’s a library, right?

Trust me, eReaders in all shapes and sizes are brilliant. What have you got to lose by trying one? Only a couple of hours reading a really good book… maybe even one of mine?

 

Featured Book, Twice As Dead US$2.99 from Amazon

Urban Twice As Dead

“The first time anyone encounters a ghost it helps to be wearing some pants. Wearing anything really, but pants is a good start.”
Lukas Boston is a private detective who attracts beautiful women, annoying ghosts and murder investigations no one else will take on. He’s also caught the attention of a sniper, who is getting closer to Lukas with every shot.
Thanks to his grandmother’s gypsy blood, Lukas has the Gift to see the Dead, but the spirit world only brings him trouble. When the spectre of a dead drug courier starts visiting Lukas, it reopens a case involving a long-missing shipment of cocaine. Word gets out on the street that Lukas somehow has fresh clues and suddenly everyone wants Lukas to find the stolen drugs. Some people will pay Lukas very well if he does – and others will kill him, if he doesn’t.
Welcome to the world of Lukas Boston, a place filled with crime, sex, ghosts and Lukas’ very annoyed landlady

Time for a new book and new website look.

Blood Money For Nothing Cover

Here’s the latest installment in my Lukas Boston paranormal thrillers. This is what they call a full-length book at 60K words, but you know… back in the good ol’ days that’d be about half a book – hey still, for US$2.99 you can’t wrong. You can buy it from Amazon here.

Lately with the rebranding of my Lukas Boston thrillers and the Horror Story books my website hasn’t really matched the look and feel of the cover designs, so I’ve gone for a new theme with bits of dripping blood and whatever (sorry Manu, after all your work). It’s still a bit of a work in progress while I get my head around what the theme has to offer.

Let me know what you think!

Latest cover for my collection of Lukas Boston

Hey everyone, here’s another cover we’re working on – posted here so I can link to it in forums. More info soon!

Cover Example 1

New Covers

All First Three covers copy

Here’s a montage of all three of my Lukas Boston covers. What do you think?

The Lukas Boston Mystery Books have launched

Twice as Dead Cover smaller Damned If You Do Cover smaller The Man Who Death Forgot Cover smaller

 

I’ve been working towards this for a few months now. Here are the first three novellas of my Lukas Boston Mystery series and as part of the official launch Book 1 is discounted to $0.99 for a limited time. With a mixture of crime, thriller, suspense, the paranormal and dark humour, these books have been great fun to write and I’m really looking forward to doing more. You can go to the Lukas Boston Mystery page on this site for Amazon links and other outlets such as Kobo, iTunes and Nook. All the non-Amazon resellers are handled by Draft2Digital and it might take a little more time for the books to become available, but they’re definitely on the way. I’d love to hear from any readers what you think.

 

 

Writing the Unthinkable

Sorry for not blogging awhile. I’ve been attending a friend’s wedding on the other side of the country and it’s taken weeks to catch up. So… what better a writing subject after a longish break than discussing toilets? More specifically, what we do in them and when. Which, according to 99.99% of fiction is nothing – and never.

You see, I was reading a Neville DeMille novel. I’ve been a fan of DeMille for years. In this particular book it’s a fairly typical “chase” story with our hero and a somewhat reluctant heroine racing across the country either fleeing from, or madly pursuing, some villainous dude and, of course, they regularly find themselves holed up in hotels taking stock of the situation. It’s during these occasions that our hero manages to slip into a nearby store and buy some clean shorts and a shirt. DeMille’s slight obsession with our hero’s personal hygiene was intriguing.

To be honest, I’m quite happy to assume my heroes somehow deal with the sticky issue of soiled undies and even taking a dump somewhere without drawing my attention to the realities. I mean, during the God-knows-how-long trek by Frodo to Mordor to ditch the One Ring, was it mentioned at any time that he needed to nip behind the nearest Ent for a noisy Number Two’s? Nope, of course not.

Fictional heroes don’t do a lot of things. Like fart, scratch unseemly places, discreetly pick their nose when no one’s looking… which is a good thing, since most of this stuff comes under the “Too much information” category. Of course, there are exceptions to the unwritten, writing rule and some authors use such moments to advantage, but generally even our most flawed characters don’t require toilet breaks.

They don’t need a shower unless someone plans to stab them through the curtain. They eat about two meals per book. Many of them don’t have to call their mother. They rarely go shopping for normal stuff.

Wouldn’t it be a challenge to write a novel and include all  the mundane, everyday things for the sake of authenticity? It’d probably get some kind of major, literary prize.

But no one would read it.

There are good books, bad books and… maybe something else.

Beware researching all this self-publishing stuff. It’s got a plot that thickens far more than any Agatha Christie novel – and I’ve got a feeling the ending will be just as much a surprise.

You see so many posts on forums, and in Google communities, and it’s a battle to figure which ones are worth giving credit. I don’t mean the blatant spam and scams. I’m talking about the posts that give you a true indication of what’s really happening – or not. I read something today that kind of worries me in a new way (as if I needed any more to worry about when it comes to a writing career).

On a writer’s forum a successful author outlined his sales, his success and how he did it, all for the benefit of other forum members. It was a genuine, selfless act that told us a lot. This guy is selling over 100,000 books a year. He writes fantasy and publishes around 6-7 books a year, and claims to write almost 70 hours a week to achieve this and there’s no reason to disbelieve him. He has effectively pushed through the barrier of becoming a full-time, successful author and reached the tipping point where his output, his books and sales are kind of self-perpetuating. The secret, by the way, is now his backlist – it’s the sheer amount of titles he has on sale.

The problem I’m having is that there’s a lot of evidence – a lot – that his books are fucking rubbish. There’s a disturbing trend in the Amazon reviews. Sure, he has literally hundreds of positive, 5 Star reviews, but the 40-50 1 Star reviews on some of his books have this ring of authenticity that’s hard to ignore. It isn’t childish trolling saying the books are crap, and so on. These have a recurring, informed theme that complains about the total lack of character development, awful dialogue, holes in a non-existent plot, constant and mindless sword fights, raping, pillaging and violence for the sake of violence. Attempts to clone the Game of Thrones franchise are all too obvious and poorly carried out.

So how is he selling so many books?

It looks like the slavish application of a genre formula has become even more successful than it ever was in traditional print publishing. People will apparently buy and read anything as long as it has the prerequisite magic sword, nasty wizard and naked damsel tied to a tree in the forest. A sort of “fantasy, sword fight porn” thing where the quality of the writing hardly matters at all for most fans. Something similar has happened in the romance/erotica genre – but at least they admit it’s a type of soft porn.

So I’m wondering if there truly is a market for good fiction in the self-publishing world? Or to look at the issue a different way, how good is the self-publishing market for quality writing, if you take all the genre-driven, formulaic writing out of the data that says self-publishing is working? At the moment self-publishing is looking like a golden goose just waiting to be plucked, but if you want to write outside of these narrow, formula genres are the opportunities still there?

Well, obviously the opportunities are there, but what about the perceived levels of success? Hmm… not sure. Anyone?

The Grand Experiment Begins…

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, research, study, surfing… you name it – into self-publishing novels and the benefits to be had. I’m more than happy with my “traditional” publishers, Momentum Books (Pan Macmillan) and – well, the damned bankrupt Weltbild in Germany are in my bad books at the moment, but I’m guessing that’ll sort itself out. However, these publishers are limited in what they can do each year, they can’t put out everything I write, and I’ve got stories and manuscripts that simply won’t fit the picture anyway. Self-publishing these is the option, risking only my own time and, I suppose, reputation if these books completely suck.

Actually, publishing these books is relatively easy. Getting them noticed among the daily deluge of books that hit Amazon every hour is the real challenge. This needs self-promotion, which isn’t easy. 

With this in mind I’ve enrolled one of my books, called “Ghost Tales, Four Stories Of The Dead Among Us” in the Amazon KDP Select program. In a nutshell, in return for various advantages, I get to give away completely free this book for five days during a ninety day exclusive contract with Amazon – the free ebook market being particularly voracious with a much higher profile. I don’t have to use all five days in one go. I can select five different days over that ninety day period. The idea isn’t so much to sell “Ghost Tales…”, but to attract readers to my other published books, which they’ll pay for.

The jury is kind of out on whether KDP Select works, but I can say that I’m in the bracket to see some level of success, because I have other titles to sell. If you’re a new author with only one book, it may not be so good.

So if you’re into writing, self-publishing and self-promoting I’ll be more than happy to share how this experiment goes. I expect in this first instance – meaning the first free day – not much will happen, because I’ll need to do other things to make the world aware the free promotion is available, but you never know… In fact, I don’t know exactly what Amazon will do.

Interesting times ahead. “Ghost Tales, Four Stories Of The Dead Among Us” will be available as a free download from Amazon for approximately 24 hours on March 12th – and if that makes you think “crap, I’m too late”,  don’t forget Amazon is on Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) and a full 15 hours behind us here in Western Australia. Wherever you are, just Google PDT Time and you’ll find out the time of day according to Amazon.

Wish me luck. Get in touch or leave a comment, if you want to know more.

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