And I Have Shared A Thousand Tweets, And I'll Probably Share A Thousand More...

Yes, I can't help but feel the need to mark a little Twitterversary, if you please.

Earlier this month saw the occasion of my 1,000th Tweet (spontaneous round of applause imagined, but not actually forthcoming).

While many Tweet this per month, I'm pleased to say it has taken me the best part of a year to reach this milestone, evidence surely of the quality of every Tweet I deign to share with whoever happens to stumble upon it.

Alack, many of my Tweets are repeats of older ones. So to say I've Tweeted 1,000 different messages is a bawdy lie. But, I've got books I need to draw people's attention to. And with every Tweet I've tried to be entertaining, and to not just say, here's my book, now click this link and go effing buy it. Although, I might try a Tweet along those lines to see if it works.

Because Twitter doesn't really work as a book selling medium, and nor is it designed to. It's good at drawing people's attention to blogposts like this, and I quite like posting the odd quote from one of my novels on there.

But don't expect it to act as a sales window for your novels. I didn't, and I haven't been disappointed.

Here's to the next thousand Tweets...

Who's Got A Cure For Tweeter's Block?

It's been coming, and it's finally here.
And I know it's going to take a bit of surgery to cure.

Yes, I've reached the point on Twitter when I'm now following 2000 other Twitterers and Twitterees.
But because I don't have 2000 following me, (1650 at the last count) that's it.
My expansion plans are scuppered until I can even up the number of following and followers.

That means trawling through everyone I'm following and seeing who's not following me back and giving them the old Spanish Archer (el bow for those not in the know).

And I know there's a few apps and the like that make it easy to see who out of the people you're following isn't returning the compliment.

But it seems a little childish, giving them the flick just because they don't want to see my Tweets.

So, what do I do, wait for 350 more people to follow me, even though I can't follow them back, or roll up my sleeves and get the scalpel out?

A definite #firstworldproblem

Advertising On

Continuing my occasional and occasionally interesting look at different places fellow deluded self-publishers like myself can advertise their wares, I stumbled across

The chap looks decent enough in his picture, if slightly blurred and a little white at the tips of his spiky hair. But that's nit-picking.

Having decided to look for somewhere else to advertise my books other than Adwords, askdavid seemed like a good way to spend $15 that I'd only waste on essential food or some other flamboyance.

It was easy enough submitting the book, though I had to write some new blurb about it, as David is dead against using blurb that appears anywhere else. Fair enough, it's his site.

So my new review of Last Night At The Stairways is up there, and I get 10 free chances to tweet David's Twitter followers (all 21,800 of them at the time of writing). I also got a thumbnail of my head and shoulders on his homepage for a while, until more authors who'd spent $15 signing up more recently than me pushed me off the page.

Now, the all important results. I've not sold any more copies of Last Night At The Stairways than I did before signing up, though the number of sample downloads on Smashwords is up significantly. (Yes, reader, I can read between those lines).

In conclusion, David offers a professional enough service, so I'd probably recommend it, though you have to wonder how many actual readers look at his site, and how many of them are just fellow, deluded authors like me?

Why My Books Were Nearly Banned From Amazon

Naughty, naughty, slap wrist, bedroom sans supper for Lymon.

I've been warned that I'm one more warning letter away from getting my books scrubbed off Amazon for good.

And I've come to the conclusion that that'd be a bad thing.

It's all down to my recent foray back into KDP Select land with 'The Diamond Rush'. As my reader will know, Amazon demands digital exclusivity for titles registered 'Select'. So I unpublished my book from Smashwords and decommissioned it from Draft2Digital and pulled it off Kobo thinking that'd do the trick.

But Amazon's bots spotted 'The Diamond Rush' was still on sale somewhere (without my knowledge m'lud', honest). And a couple of sales via Draft2Digital proved it. Gulp. I'd accidentally broken the rules and got caught.

I was sent a stern but fair letter to which I had to hold up my hands. I thought 'The Diamond Rush' was exclusive to Amazon. Apparently not. But how difficult is it to keep track of where your titles are being sold, and how long does it take to unpublish them?

Anyway, lesson learnt. One more misdemeanour and I'm out of Amazon. So I just can't risk KDP Selecting any of my existing titles again.


Super short


in this one.

158 chapters in 406 pages. You do the math.

Designed for the short attention spanners.

Those with an appetite for bitesize chunks.

Look, it was a good read. A compelling story. Part of a series featuring Alex Cross, a defective detective of course. Got family problems, bit of history with some nasty people etc. This one takes him to Africa in the wake of some truly nasty family-size slaughters, in pursuit of the perpetrators. And he gets a beating along the way - if they make a film of this, his face is gonna be a mess throughout.

It's all pretty top line with some attempt to dig deeper. Didn't hate it. Didn't love it.


KDP Select - one last hurrah.

Through the floor.

That's where my Amazon sales have gone recently. Not that they ever went through the roof. But there was regular interest, back in the day.

But the day was 2012. In 2013, with all the changes that have been outlined on better blogs than this, it's been tough for self publishers like me.

And now with a massive section of my dashboard dominated by an ultimatum for tax information that I quite frankly can't be arsed with, Amazon seems like a very unfriendly place for my books to be.

So, I've decided to go out the way I came in, with my first novel on KDP Select. It's changed names since early 2012. But the name change hasn't seen a massive raise in the downloads.

My books have never scaled the heights of those who've had their freebies downloaded by thousands through KDP Select. Couple of hundred is the best I've seen. Back in the day.

But for me, Amazon's had its day. They don't want self-publishers on there, and this turgid tax info request is just another way to get people to drop out.

And, I think in my case, it's worked.

Over and almost out.

Advertising On Google Adwords

This is the second in a very occasional series that follows my experiences of advertising my books on various web platforms. The first, Advertising on Goodreads can be found somewhere else in the blog.

The reasons why I was drawn toward advertising my novels on Google, were, errr, it's Google. Everyone knows it. Plus, if I spent something like 30 quid in the first month, I'd get 75 quid of free advertising. That's, like, 75 quid of free advertising.

The writing of the ads was a bit of a challenge, and that's saying something, seeing as I do the writing of ads for a living. The word count is strict, and it's on a line by line basis. You basically get three lines to work with, one's your title, the other two explanation, and there's a final fourth one that's your link.

There's never enough room to say what you want to say. But the big question is do they work? Well, Google likes a stat and they can give you plenty. Like how many times your ad is clicked.  But crucially a clicked ad does not equal a sale. And despite attracting plenty of clicks which is what you pay for, I've not experienced much of a spike in sales since I kicked off my various campaigns.

But, if Google is still doing some kind of introductory deal like the one I experienced, then it's got to be worth it as some kind of advertising is always better than no kind of advertising.

Just don't expect amazing results. As I said in my last advertising related post, ads on the Internet are not very effective, whether you're an unknown writer or an unbelievably huge and wealthy multi-national.


What. A. Title.

I wonder how many copies of this were shifted on the strength of that alone.

It sends intrigue levels off the scale, gets money jangling in purses and fingers eager to enter credit card PIN numbers into whichever machine needs them to complete the sale.

And the intrigue doesn't end at the cover. But this reviewer is no spoiler. All I can say is it's one of the most original concepts I've encountered for a while, with a theme that's mind-blowing but not to the extent that it's all too implausible.

And, like this review, it's refreshingly short, even though the subject matter could have led the author to write a thick, headaching tome.

**** (Four out of five)

Why An Ebook Will Never Be Enough

When you were a kid, or whenever you started dreaming of being a successful novelist, chances are you never dreamt of seeing your work on a mobile phone or tablet screen (probably because neither was around back then).

A print copy you could hold in your hand and get others to hold in their hands was what it was all about. Seeing your name on a glossy dust jacket, your words beautifully typeset on high quality paper. Signing copies at your local bookstore in front of a queue of excited fans that was so long, it snaked through the fiction, non-fiction and travel sections and out of the door.

Surely, that was the stuff of your dreams?

Ebooks are inexpensive, quick and convenient, and better for the forests. But it's seeing our work in hardback and paperback, even if it's through Createspace, that's still the be-all and end-all.

Isn't it?

Thoughts On Self Serve Author Interviews

Nobody wants to interview you.

That's the first reality that needs to be dealt with here. As an unknown, self-published author totting up moderate sales, there are no journalists knocking at the door, clogging up your inbox or hassling your phone. No editors are sending hacks to get a scoop off you on your latest book.

But there are a few sites about that offer Self Serve Author interviews. Basically, they give you a list of questions and you fill out the answers. It's more of an application form than an interview really. And, much like applying for a job, you've no idea who, if anyone, will read your answers. And don't expect any replies.

But is it worth doing?

YES, because you're able to think about and write down and correct your answers. You're not being recorded so you can say something, think twice about it and say something else, while deleting your first answer forever. And we're writers, so we've got to be better, more experienced at writing answers rather than speaking them.

NO if you're going to be dull, boring or formulaic. You're an unknown, so interest levels in you are seriously low. So try and think of a way you can make your answers stand out from the hundreds of others. You might not grab any headlines, but you might, just might, interest a few readers enough to check out what else you've written...

I completed another interview last week. My first answers were dull and formulaic. Even I couldn't be bothered to re-read them. Then I deleted them all, and went with this... way more interesting, I think.
Will it help me sell more books? Who knows?

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself...
Chapter One
Jon Lymon toyed with an extra long hair in his eyebrow, one of the joys of being the wrong side of forty. He was troubled by the question he'd just been asked. 'Tell us about yourself.' What was there to tell? What order to tell it in? What did his audience need to know right now? What kind of information did he need to keep from them in order to maintain interest and suspense for as long as possible?
He figured it was OK to tell them he was from south London in England. And that he had two young daughters. He figured revealing that he’d written three novels was none too controversial either. That was why he was here, right, to tell people about his books, so maybe, just maybe, one or maybe even three of them clicked download on Amazon.
So yeah, three books, all thrillers, the last two a little more horrifying than the first.
Being British, he was a little reluctant to namecheck the books here. Seemed a bit salesy, a bit too in your face for him, surely.
The Diamond Rush. Last Night At The Stairways. The Wronged.
He clearly wasn’t as British as he thought.
Now Lymon began to worry that his answer to the question was getting a bit too long. He’d lose his audience. He had to do something, and fast. Before it was too late.

Tell us about your latest book
Chapter Two
Lymon’s latest book, The Wronged, was a horror thriller that he’d originally written as a screenplay in the early Noughties. The screenplay had picked up some positive reviews, but he knew there were faults with it. He fixed those faults and repackaged it as a novel.
A lot of the new stuff in it was inspired by him being a father and how that was changing him as a person, and how he knew he couldn’t let those changes take over his life. He had to retain some of the free will, the passion and the danger that had been in his life up until then. But what if someone totally changed and completely denied the person they were for the sake of their child. Surely, there’d be a backlash. Surely, the original animal inside would want to get out… 

A Pro Procrastinator (Six Reasons Why You're Putting Off Starting Writing Your Next Novel)

My fourth novel is all planned. Just need to write it. And think of a title for it.

It's been ready to write since April. Yet I haven't got round to writing it. I know it's there, sending me nudging reminders, and yet I've been putting off double-clicking the icon on my desktop that'll take me there.

I know for a fact I'm not the only writer to suffer from this procrastination, but what can be the cause of it, and how can you stop yourself getting really good at it? Here's a few theories behind what might be causing it:

1) LAZINESS. Obvious cause, but most writers aren't lazy. Most of us are writing books in the spare time we get between working jobs that pay and looking after kids that cost.

2) THE BOOK SEEMS SO GREAT IN MY MIND. WHAT IF IT DOESN'T LIVE UP TO EXPECTATIONS WHEN I WRITE IT? All the excitement of the possibilities that you feel during the planning of a book have to be realised when you start writing the thing. And sometimes they're not. Sometimes that twist that seemed so groundbreaking during your planning phase just doesn't work when you start turning notes and thoughts into prose. It's this fear of your book turning out to be more average that you pictured it being that can stop you taking the plunge in the first place.

3) THERE'S OTHER STUFF YOU'D RATHER BE WRITING RIGHT NOW. Maybe your last novel was a bit of a hassle to write (mine was) and you're waiting for the scars to heal. Writing short stories or something under an alias for a totally different market seems more appealing right now. You need to pen something you'll enjoy, and you know a novel is six months of your life signed away.

4) WRITER'S BLOCK It's the big fear that loiters in the back of all writers' minds. Have my ideas dried up? Have I exhausted all the energy needed to commit to a novel? The only way around it is to start writing something, however bad.

5) WAITING FOR INSPIRATION This is usually a bad idea. Often, inspiration comes while you're writing. It shouldn't be used as the spark to get you writing. Best to get your head down and stuck in, however unappealing the prospect may be.

6) DEMORALISED BY THE SALES OF YOUR PREVIOUS BOOK All this self-publishing has brought the idea of making a living out of writing tantalisingly close to everyone with a computer and an internet connection. Just write, package, do a bit of marketing and watch the sales roll in. But if that's not happening, it takes a lot of willpower to start another project from scratch. What's going to make this new book perform better than the old one that's shifting at best a copy a month? How are you going to make anything new you write stand out when your old stuff is hidden among the thousands who are uploading to Amazon and Smashwords every day? 


I saw the technique at work here, and became frustrated.

Some books can pull you in without revealing their techniques, but not this one.

Oh no. So often Koontz withholds vital information by cutting to backstory, or by getting the character to say 'I wasn't ready for the truth yet,' or some such cop out, that prevents him from revealing plot info when you, the reader, are ready for it.

Yes, it made 'Fear Nothing' a page turner. But I found myself rapidly turning pages because I was skimming swathes of back story and blocks of description to get to the twists.

And sometimes it took forever. Sometimes the delay was too long. Sometimes scenes went on too long, like near the start when Christopher Snow was running away, freaked by a cat and escaping into some underground pipe.

I did sympathise with the protagonist (yes, it's Christopher Snow) because of his medical condition, but ended up frustrated by everyone else in Moonlight Bay who all, without exception, took so long telling him what they knew or took great delight in spinning out what he needed to know, that it was as if they were waiting to get killed before they could reveal their information.  The whole approach just didn't ring true. I felt myself shouting at the characters, "just tell him what you know and stop fucking about talking about other stuff." I felt Snow should have been this frustrated too, but he seemed unflappable.

On the plus side, Koontz's attention to detail was good, his descriptions vivid. There was just too much 'I'm going to make you wait for the juicy bits' that I ended up seeing through the technique and becoming thoroughly annoyed by it.

** (Two out of five)



I didn't buy this to like it! I bought it to see what best sellers read like. I didn't expect to zip through it in little over a week and actually enjoy it.

Bugger. No, no, no. That wasn't the idea at all.

I was feeling a bit smug at the start as I struggled with the opening. But brave old me persevered and when Jack Reacher finally turned up in the pages of his own book, all six-five, broad expanse of him, dressed like someone out of Miami Vice, I found it a rewarding experience. Although Tom Cruise playing him in the movie??? Let me check Reacher’s description again…

Let’s move on to the writing, which flowed like blood into the drains around the town square where five seemingly innocent people get shot down by a sniper. Lee Child even has his own style quirk, starting some sentences midway through. I like writing quirks. And it's refreshing to find them floating around in the mainstream.

The plot was tight, the writing convincingly American, given the writer hails from my side of the pond. It’s easy to see why the Reacher series is so popular, he’s a likeable outsider, well versed in the stealthy moves needed to evade the various nasties who want to ‘pop a cap in his bottom’ to use watered-down parlance.

Yes, maybe the ending was over a little quickly, but that’s how Reacher likes to operate. Get in, do the business and then get out before any of the ladies he’s impressed try to tie him down.


REVIEW: IT by Stephen King

Got there.

It took over a year but I finally nailed this epic doorstop of a tome.
But I'm not sure how I can review it, as I can't remember the first half of it (like I said, it's taken me over a year). All I know is a lot of people died, some getting dragged into the gutter, like loose dog stools. Nasty way to go.

It was long, IT. Short title, long book. Could it have been trimmed in places? Quite possibly. But I'm no editor or hairdresser.

It was certainly episodic, flipping between viewpoints and locations and eras, the 1950s childhood of its seven protagonists raised in Derry the main focus, together with their 1985 return to deal with the 'demon' that lurked within the sewers of their hometown.

This was my first taster of the king, King, and I'm not sure if it's his jewel in the crown, but hey, there was enough to keep me interested for a year and 1116 pages (of small, tightly packed words).

There was plenty of the nasty side of humunkind on display within its many and yes, varied pages, as well as more swearing than I expected. Dunno why I expected less, just did.

You've got to read some King in your life, aintcha, and I've done that now, and I might be back for more, though I'll be aiming for something a bit more concise that'll take me less than a year. ***

PS I struggled to find an exact replica of the cover of the version of the book I read. The one above is closest, although on mine, the author's name is in gold with King way bigger than Stephen, and the balloon is on the other side of the gutter. Have I got a rarity on my hands here, or does this cover move like that picture Bill Denbrough has? Don't answer that, I've got to sleep tonight.

Changing The Name Of Your Novel

Michael Caine. Cliff Richard. That other fella. They've all changed their names and found success. So why not a book, I ask you?

It can't be a good idea, can it? Not a year after its release. In fact, it's so far from being a good idea that I can barely see it from where I'm standing here on the shoreline of Good Idea Land.

And yet I'm seriously considering doing it.

The novel in question is my debut, The Money Star.

Sales are sluggier than sluggish, and although that's not all down to the title I suspect (I was naive back then, and wrote the thing without a genre in mind, so marketing it has been tricky to say the least) the title isn't doing it any favours methinks.

The title that methinks might do it a bit more of a favour is The Diamond Rush. That's what it's about, essentially a 21st Century space version of The Gold Rush.

And the title will sit well with the current cover artwork below, so what's to lose apart from sales that I'm not getting?

Dear faithful, solitary reader, I shall let you know how I get on as soon as I get on and do it.

Wish me luck, and plenteous sales.


ALMOST EXCLUSIVE!* The first chapter of my new novel, THE WRONGED, out next month.

A whetter of appetites. A teaser of minds. There now follows an exclusive preview of my forthcoming horror thriller The Wronged. Here's how the story starts...

*This excerpt also appears at so don't go suing me for wrongful claims or whatever it is.

Saltonstall Farm was not a regular haunted house, and yet outwardly it possessed all of the traits necessary to be classed as one. Its location was isolated, set back from a seldom-used road in the southern English countryside. Its entrance was hidden by an army of overgrown pine and beech trees. And it enjoyed local notoriety, people in the area aware of its macabre recent history and, as a result, preferring to pretend Saltonstall didn’t exist. Only local school kids mentioned the place, scaring each other with torchlit faces that boomed tall tales of ghosts in the barn, zombies in the kitchen, corpses in the wood. But few knew the precise location of the farm’s entrance, denoted by a beech tree with a thick, white horizontal line daubed across its trunk. Even fewer knew that if you fought your way through the overgrown undergrowth you’d stumble across a crooked wooden, five-foot-high sign featuring the farm’s name in a dark red that legend insisted was blood. Truth or not, even in the scarce light that pierced through the confusion of intertwined stems and twigs, the lettering possessed a strange glow, and the sign pointed inaccurately up a narrow lane made claustrophobic by branches whose neglect had allowed them to grow unchallenged for so long they were ready to finger and scratch and claw at the faces arms legs of anyone who walked that way, and scrape and slash and grab at the roofs windows wing mirrors of any vehicles that drove that way.
At the end of the lane, the overgrowth ended suddenly, giving way to a patch of unkempt grass half the size of a football field. To its right, the gravelly drive fell away, separating the grass from the two-storey farmhouse, which was set at a curious angle to the lane, making it look like it was leering at new arrivals.
The house had fallen into major disrepair. The front door hung from its one remaining hinge in the crumbling portico, its thick, once-varnished oakwood rotting, the doorstep and frame overgrown with an unsightly and unwelcoming combination of spear thistle, chickweed and ragwort.
But Saltonstall Farm had plenty more wrong with it than these cosmetic shortcomings. As those who worked the surrounding land were at pains to point out, ‘a decrepit barn, an even more decrepit shepherd’s hut, a couple of fields and a ring of dense woodland do not a farm make.’ Saltonstall was, more accurately, a smallholding.
It had been built in 1786 by two brothers. Its haunting, however, like the wooden patio decking between the rear of the farmhouse and its adjacent barn, was a more recent addition. The fact that all was not well at Saltonstall was announced innocently enough, a crow’s squawk disturbing the uneasy silence of a late summer’s afternoon in 2002, the flap of its wings fanning the dust that hung in the still, humid air as it launched itself from a broken upstairs window like a suicidal, leaving behind a rotting oak framed window ledge splattered with the white paint of its own dung.
The squawk was followed by a scream that was not immediately recognisable as coming from either human or beast. Not that the hundred birds that instantly fled the treetops en masse like rising flour dust cared. They were out of there, those that stayed soon witnesses to three gunshots that rang out in quick succession.
A wild boar, fattened by the thickness of its own unkempt coat, scampered from the cedarwood barn behind the farmhouse, its head down, eyes startled. It was followed out by Lucas Berner, a sixty-year-old with skin as grey as his ponytailed hair, squinting along the barrel of his smoking Country Hunter .50 calibre flintlock rifle. He took aim at the boar running for its life up the mud track that led away from the farmhouse in between its two fields to the woodland at its distant end. His forefinger flicked the trigger but there was no give. He pulled the gun away, cursing its age and unreliability, briefly examining the jammed trigger before taking aim again. He flicked the rifle first left then right. But the boar was gone.
Lucas lowered the weapon and turned his attention back to the barn, a crooked structure that leant away from Saltonstall farmhouse as though afraid of it, almost to the point of collapse. Gripping the rifle, he trudged across the mud and peered through a gap in its uneven slats.
‘I’m sorry, bro’ he shouted into the barn, his breath laboured, his frequent gulping betraying just how scared he was. ‘I had to do something.’ He poked the rifle’s bore through the crack, squinting, finger hovering over the trigger.
‘You’ve been sick awhile and slowly getting worse,’ he continued. ‘I was scared. You proper scared me bro. I dunno if you’re hit. But if you come on out slowly, I won’t fire. I’ll take you in.’
A thud from the far corner caused Lucas to swing from his waist like he was tracking pheasant. His ears fancied they’d heard something heavy falling on damp wood, but in the failing light, exacerbated by his failing eyesight, he couldn’t be sure. The subsequent silence was broken by a low snort, then a snap of brittle bone.
‘What’s going on in there?’ Lucas shouted, his blood pressure higher than his doctor would have recommended, had he been brave enough to see one in the last twenty years. ‘C’mon bro. I can get you help.’
More thuds were followed by a rustle of hay. Then a black boot, its toecaps scuffed and leather creased, slid into view.
‘Get up,’ Lucas shouted, still squinting through the crosshatch. The heel of the boot thudded against the barn floor in the farthest stall.
‘I’m going to fire again,’ Lucas shouted, shifting slightly to his left to get a better angle, looking past the cartwheel that hung pointlessly from the barn wall, beyond the rusty pig’s trough and metallic confusion of the red and yellow thresher that stood lop-sided on one punctured wheel, blackening the hay underneath as it leaked oil like blood from a wound, drip by slow drip.
This new angle brought into play another boot, laying at an unnatural angle to the first. Above it, an ill-fitting navy blue trouser leg, shapeless and speckled with dusty brown stains. Lucas tracked up and gasped. In an instant, he felt bitter bile force its way up from his stomach into the back of his throat. Gagging, he turned away, dropping the rifle as his hands covered his mouth.
He spat out the bile and recovered his composure with deep breaths. Picking up the gun, he peered back into the barn.
His eyes returned to the leg, stained red, blood soaking into the strands of hay beneath it like mercury rising up a thermometer’s stem. He tracked the blue trousered lower leg up to the knee, pausing, not wanting to look higher, because he knew… he knew he had to see it again. There was nothing above the knee. Nothing but hay drowning in blood.
A sudden squeal rocked Lucas back, the shock almost proving too much for his heart. He lurched forward, fumbling the rifle until it pointed into the barn. Another wild boar was sniffing the wounded legs, its snout bloodied, red saliva dripping from its mouth as it chewed, chomped on flesh.
Lucas struggled to comprehend what he was seeing. He knew he and his brother hadn’t fed any of Saltonstall’s animals for weeks. But this? The nature of the boar’s desperate meal sent chills pulsing down his spine.
He steered the rifle toward the boar, splitting wood as he sought out a clear shot, a chance to spare his brother this indignity. He took aim, and fired, the boar’s flank bursting open as if it had swallowed a stick of lit dynamite. Flesh and blood rained against the barn’s walls. Strange circular sparks floated out of the exposed wound. Lucas turned away, not wishing to bear witness to the beast’s last kicks and thrashes. He clenched his eyes shut and waited for the sound of hooves scraping, flailing along wood and through hay to cease.
When the dying was done, he took a deep breath, enjoying the total silence of the countryside, a serenity that was quickly invaded by thoughts of what to do with his brother’s corpse. There were plenty of places to bury a body out here and few people who’d miss Casper. Neither brother had left Saltonstall for over a year, and no one had paid a visit in that time.
Lucas decided he would bag-up his brother’s corpse and bury it amid one of the many bramble bushes that grew unchallenged up in the woods. He rested his rifle against the wall and walked toward the house to get binbags from the kitchen. As he stepped through the patio doors he stopped and cocked his head. That was definitely a scraping sound coming from the barn. An unexpected last twitch from the pig? He slowly opened the door. The boar lay at the far end exactly where it had fallen, its midriff an exploded mess.
Another scrape. Definitely not the boar.
Lucas edged further into the barn, his boots thudding against the hardwood floor as he moved closer to his brother’s corpse which lay in the third and final stall on the left.
Another scrape. Coming from that direction. A rat, quick to scent the feast that awaited? Saltonstall had a major rodent problem. Lucas lost count of the number of times he’d told Casper they needed a cat, but his brother had always refused. ‘Just another mouth to feed,’ he reasoned.
He edged closer until his brother’s shock of grey hair was visible over the top of the fence that divided the final two stalls. Fine hairs were dancing on his scalp, catching the breeze that sneaked through the gaps in the barn wall.
Casper was slumped in the corner of the stall, leaning slightly forward, leaking blood from two gunshot wounds in his chest, with a third wound just above the knee. The hay around his corpse was slowly turning from an oily yellow to a brilliant red. Lucas’ thoughts reverted to how he was going to get the body out and clean up the mess. He turned away, looking for the wheelbarrow (there was definitely one somewhere).
When he turned back, Lucas froze. His brother’s head was gradually rising. His brother was slowly sitting up. His brother was trying to stand up. Lucas backed away, trying to shake this horrific vision out of his head. Casper leant against the stall fence and pulled himself up then looked down, disgusted by the wounds in his chest, dismayed that half of his leg remained on the barn floor, separated from the rest of his body, a chunk bitten out of its calf by the bloodthirsty boar whose carcass lay on the floor in front of him.
Casper leered at Lucas then grabbed the pitchfork that protruded from the haystack in the corner of the stall. Lucas backed away, fearing Casper was about to launch it at him. But his brother needed it as a makeshift walking stick.
After hobbling a few steps, he stopped and looked down into the hay. The amputated section of his leg twitched, then spun three hundred and sixty degrees, taking on a life of its own. Lucas looked at it aghast. Casper eyed Lucas and smiled, then raised the pitchfork above his head and mercilessly plunged it into the quivering flesh, twisting the tines until the leg was still.
Lucas backed away, shaking his head, as he tried to convince himself none of this was happening while searching for a weapon he could defend himself with in case it really was. He tried to rip the cartwheel from the wall, but it had hung there for a generation and planned on staying another. He skirted the thresher and backed into the pigs’ trough, its lightweight tin making a thin, hollow clang as it scraped along the barn floor.
‘You are not my brother,’ Lucas shouted at his brother.
Casper tried to speak, but succeeded only in producing a rasping gargle. His eyeballs rolled up into his head as if he were experiencing an intense pain beyond anything he’d endured before.
Lucas retreated to the entrance of the barn, never once taking his eyes off his slowly advancing brother.
‘There’s a gun out here, bro,’ he warned. ‘And I won’t hesitate to use it and separate your head from your shoulders.’
Casper continued to hobble forward, the three tines of the pitchfork thudding against the floor, splitting the moist wood as they dug in. When he reached the barn door he stopped, the harsh shafts of daylight stealing in through the open door causing his head to roll and duck and shake like his neck was made of putty. He lurched from side to side then his head swung round and round as his mouth was forced open, like he was letting out a piercing, bone-shaking shriek.
Only he made no noise.
Outside on the decking, Lucas glanced furtively to his left and was greeted by the reassuring sight of his rifle. In a flash his hands were on it and it was in front of his head and he was squinting and fumbling for the trigger, but nothing was happening. He was pressing the trigger but he wasn’t blowing his brother away. His brother was filling the barn doorway, squinting in the brightness, mocking his brother’s inability.
‘Bastard thing,’ Lucas shouted. He shaped to throw the weapon to the ground but checked himself. If his brother got hold of it, the consequences would be catastrophic.
Confused, repelled and scared, Lucas ran, away from the barn, up the track toward the woods, slashing at invisible assailants with the rifle, yelling incoherence as he stumbled into the right-hand field, running as fast as his sixty-year-old lungs and legs would let him, through patches of bare ground and areas of lush grass where the few remaining sheep and goats hadn’t yet grazed. As he ran up the field toward the shepherd’s hut, he held the rifle at arm’s length in front of him, and looked over his shoulder to see if his brother was gaining.
The sheep saw Lucas approaching with the gun and fled en mass up a gently undulating bank of sun-yellowed grass peppered with molehills of dung in various stages of decay.
Lucas didn’t know where he was going, only that he wanted to get there fast. He had to be hallucinating, had to be. This was down to lack of food. He hadn’t eaten well for days. Longer. Weeks. Neither of them had. He turned again and saw his brother staggering up the track, one arm leaning on the pitchfork, the other extended straight in front of his face, like a, like a… Lucas couldn’t bring himself to think it, let alone say it.
As the gloom of evening took its rapid hold on the fast-fading light of day, Lucas quickened his pace and plunged into the woods. Casper gave up the chase and stood guard outside Saltonstall farmhouse, waiting for his brother’s inevitable return.

Want To Review My New Novel Before It Gets Released?

With the first two still doing brisk business through some online channels, it'll soon be time to add to the  family.

This time, I'm looking to get a few reviews in the bag before the launch. Bit of a risk, of course, as if the book gets panned, sales will slump. But hey, that's the risk you take.

So here's the blurb for THE WRONGED. If you're interested in reviewing it, please leave your details in the comments section, or email

‘This place. There’s something evil in it. Something that changes people. Get out now, before it changes you. Before it kills you and your daughter.’

There’s nothing working mom Caitlin Carragher isn’t prepared to sacrifice for the good of her only child, Holly. The drinking and smoking are the first to go. But when she begins to sacrifice everything that makes her the person she is, including swapping her career and penthouse in the city for an isolated existence at the haunted Saltonstall Farm, Caitlin unwittingly puts her own life – and her daughter’s – in grave danger.

The Wronged is Lymon’s third and undoubtedly most gripping novel to date. Dealing with the strains of parenthood, the pains of isolation, and a unique haunting, this utterly compelling thriller builds to a totally unpredictable and typically outlandish climax.

When Someone Refunds Your Book on Kindle

 A paper cut to that flap of skin between thumb and forefinger. An errant hair plucked from your nostril. A blunt stake driven through your heart. None is as painful as checking your KDP reports and finding someone who bought your book has asked for a refund.

The first time it happened to me was for a book that was free. Yes, someone had downloaded a non-fiction book. by me, for free, and disliked it so much, they demanded a refund of all the money they hadn’t spent on it. That is dislike, writ large.

The second refund happened just last week, hours after the purchase, it seems.

Why, why, why? are the thoughts that run through your mind. They hated it and hate me. They think I can’t write or my plotting’s crap, my characters cardboard and they’re going to tell everyone they know not to touch my stuff.

After this vicious paranoia came a spell where I tried to reassure myself. They only had the book a few hours, maybe they downloaded it by mistake, they were looking for a similar title and got it all wrong. Fair enough, no problem.

Then the paranoia returned. They read the first chapter and laughingly threw the book aside. (Bit difficult, when it’s digital, but that sort of thing) They disliked it so much, they couldn’t get their money back quickly enough.

That attack eventually died down, and now I’ve come to accept that I’ll never know who downloaded it and why they asked for a refund. It’s just part of the process. But I’ll be waiting for that paranoia to return when the next refund gets processed…

How do you handle your book getting refunded?

REVIEW: Immortal by Dean Crawford

First up, this book wins an accolade that no subsequent work can ever take away from it, (cue drumroll):

Immortal, by Dean Crawford is the first digital book I've finished.

There you go. Now onto the review.

As a writer of thrillers, I feel the need to see what's being picked up by publishers out there (and, in this case, being given away free at Starbucks).

And this was OK. Three stars.

Biggest plus points: the quality of the writing, the smooth flow, the varied vocab, the attention to detail.

On the downside, I wasn't really feeling every blow with the lead characters (Ethan and Lopez). I got that Lopez was sexy, sassy, a bit of a loose cannon, and that Ethan was carrying some baggage concerning his missing girlfriend. But it wasn't until Ethan got in touch with his father at the end that he started to become a fully-rounded character.

I also found there was way too much exposition delivered in rambling character monologues that were overflowing with technical details.

But, the concept was strong, the start beguiling, and the whole story a little far-fetched for some tastes maybe, though not mine. I also think the author captured the tone of voice and vocab of the civil war vets brilliantly,  somewhat pouring scorn on my belief that not all characters in literature speak with a different voice.

Biggest surprise? That the author is English and lives in Surrey (the story is totally set in the USA, and the author knows plenty of details about the landscapes there).

Since my screenwriting days, I've always known that for the best chance of anything getting picked up by Hollywood, it's best to set some or all of your story in the US, or at least to have a key character who's American. It's a lesson Mr Crawford has certainly learnt.

Billed as the Michael Crichton for the next generation, he's got a lot to live up to.

Advertising on Goodreads

 Boxing Day, 2012, and still full of mince pie, turkey and Christmas TV specials, I was feeling a little flush, having received a small amount of cash from a generous, and generously white-bearded chap with a penchant for red suits and scaling chimneys.

Anyway, with two novels selling sluggishly, I decided to invest some in a Goodreads advertising campaign. Just $40 to begin with. Not a vast amount. Childs, Rowling, King et al probably get a marketing budget that’s a bit bigger.

First task – write some ads. I’m a copywriter. Do it every day. Should be easy, right? Hmmm. The word limit was tricky. What do you say? How do you distill tens of thousands of words, several twists and turns, and dozens of characters into just 140. Do you need to get the name of the book in somewhere, even though it’s on the image beside it?

What about the call to action? If I send people to my Goodreads page (as recommended) they might not buy it. If I put a link straight to Amazon, they might not even bother clicking it. Then there’s the targeting, blah blah blah.

To abridge a post that could easily turn into an epic, a month on, I haven’t sold any extra books (and yes, that may be down to their quality, or lack thereof).

Out of 120,000 views of my ads (I wrote 5 variants), there’s an average clickthrough rate of 0.05%. Working in advertising, I know this is pretty much par for the course. People don’t often click web ads, I know I don’t.

But one ad outperformed all the others, with a stratospheric 0.12% clickthrough rate. If I were a marketing guru I’d probably say ‘PayPal me $10 and I’ll tell you the secret of my success’ or somesuch crap.’ But I’m not.

The ad simply had the name of the book as the title, then a couple of quotes pulled from (good) reviews it’s had, together with 5 stars and a link to my Goodreads page. That’s all.

It hasn’t generated loads of new sales, but the number of people who have the book ‘to-read’ on Goodreads has shot up. Although a lot of them have thousands on their to-read list. Maybe they’ll get round to mine before the next century.

In conclusion, I don’t see advertising on Goodreads as a quick way to boost sales. And I’m not going to get a return on my investment. But some advertising is always better than none at all. And at least a few more people know my books are out there.

So thanks for that cash, Santa. Now come back and clear up that mess you left around my fireplace.

Happy New Year of Delusion

As the regular reader of this blog will know, I believe self-publishers like myself have to be seriously deluded to think their novel can be the next million seller.

Every single person who uploads their book to Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc believes what they've written is worthy of a place on a bestseller's list.

It's going to take a professional editor to tell them their intro is dull, their character's cardboard, their concept unbelievable, their ending just plain shit. But, like me, most can't afford the £500 / $1000 it takes to hire someone who knows what they're looking for to look for it. So they'll just re-read their book and run another spellcheck to make sure there's no glaring errors.

BUT, enough of this negativity. Because, some self-published novelist will rise out of the pack this year, making waves, headlines and a useful income. Someone will be branded 'This year's E.L. James,' their book "2013's Fifty Shades Of... whatever."

It could be me, it could be you. And that's why, like the lottery, we keep doing what we're doing. Because someone's got to win. And even though it's a million to one shot, we'd give everything to be that one.

Here's to a successful 2013 for someone out there.

No January Mails This Year.

Usually, January is spent thumbing through the thick pages of the latest edition of The Writers And Artists' Yearbook, looking for agents to whom I've yet to send an upbeat, slightly grovelly covering letter together with a synopsis, and the first five chapters of my surefire bestselling thriller.

Can't be arsed this year.

And that's not me giving up. It's me giving the whole situation a much needed reality check.

How many other authors as deluded as me spent their Christmas telling themselves next year will be my breakthrough year?

How many have then gone on to mail out their manuscripts in betwixt Christmas and New Year, bemoaning the price of stamps, yet hoping their delusions turn into reality?

I reckon slush piles will be at their peak this time of year, giving whoever has the onerous task of wading through the piles of paper even less time to give each submission their divided attention.

Given most agents try to get back to you with a rejection, I mean a reply, within three months, surely that makes Easter the best time of year to start the mass mailing?

I might give it a try, only if I'm not a multi-million bestselling author by then, of course.