10 reasons why writing is easier than ever

Last year I established an organisation called Writing2day. The aim is to inform, educate and resource writers from a current perspective on the craft of writing. We are beginning to fulfill our mission statement.

So, with the thought on writing today, I offer the following bold statement that ‘writing is easier today than ever before’.

Here are the reasons.  Continue reading “10 reasons why writing is easier than ever”

Does independent book marketing work?

This week I have the pleasure of welcoming Tim Ellis as the guest Blogger for Muse Shack.

Tim impressed me with his incisive questioning that we all do well to employ. I was convinced after reading Tim’s article that his questions forced me to ask another question, ‘How can independent book marketing be done well’? I found my answer, I wonder will you.
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Here’s the thing! Now, it might be that my eleven ebooks are  total rubbish, and  although I’ve had a couple of harsh reviews about two of my  books because I  like sex, I have had some 4 and 5-star reviews of two of my   other books. Reviews, however, are not the subject of this blog – although  reviews do deserve a blog of their own, and I will put index finger to keyboard in the near future.For my first blog I’d like to talk about the dilemma that is ebook marketing,  promotion, advertising, etc. There’s been a few people blogging about this black art as if they knew what they were talking about – do they? How did they find out? Where’s the objective evidence? I’ve got a PhD, so I know about research, objective evidence, statistical significance, etc., and I haven’t seen the figures – show me the damn figures to prove that any of it works.


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Social networking it’s called – Facebook, Fan Pages, Twitter, Kindleboards, Amazon Forums, Bookbuzzr, Goodreads, but there are thousands (maybe millions) of sites out there, and new ones sprouting up every day. Here’s a link to get you started: http://traffikd.com/social-media-websites/ Also, there’s guest blogging, featured author, featured book, ebook giveaways, etc.Call me a whore, but I ventured down this road into  purgatory. I joined Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ (timellis13) and started tweeting, retweeting, following and being followed, but did it result in any of my ebooks going viral (definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_phenomenon)? The answer – in case you were wondering – is NO!


I’d joined Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1117655869 way back when, but hadn’t bothered with it. Then, when I Kindled all my books, I thought I’d have another stab. I joined Writing Kindle Books – a group of like-minded ebook authors who chatter, tag, like, tweet, moan, groan, love, share, and Digg each other like any extended family. I’ve made a lot of friends, but has the word got out about my books? Have just one of the wonderful titles on offer shot off into the stratosphere? The answer – in case you were wondering – is a down-to-earth NO!

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I saw a FB friend with a widget, and I lusted after it. I joined the free  part of Bookbuzzr or fReado – there’s a premium (pay) membership as well – and I uploaded all my  books onto the site. I got those nifty widgets. Here – take a look – http://timellis.weebly.com/my-books.html – do they make you want to read, steal, download, or otherwise purloin my books? Have these widgets (and the automated tweets) resulted in a  conflagration of sales (a fire sale)? The answer – in case you were wondering – is NO!

The Amazon Kindle/book forums were the place to be. Like Danny Gillan http://susannefromsweden.wordpress.com/  I ventured on there, hunted out the UK and USA forums for the  different genres I write in, made some acquaintances in the fantasy forum, advertised my books, but to a large extent the squatters in the threads made it quite clear that authors promoting their books are lower than a snake’s belly and viewed as the second coming of Bubonic Plague (definition and nice picture here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague). Anyway, I persisted, until I got an email from the wonderful people  in Customer Services at Amazon saying my posts were not posts, but blatant self promotion and if I didn’t stop it my forum rights would be curtailed – told off good and proper. I tracked over a Baker’s dozen of threads and received notification by email of new posts – everybody was doing it, but they picked on me! I’m not tracking any threads now. I’m not posting on anymore threads either – I know when I’m not wanted. Did this embarrassing sortie into the Amazon jungle of forums result in me being compared to Steig Larsson, JRR Tolkien, Arthur C Clarke, or any of the other dead greats? The answer – if you were wondering – is a resounding NO!

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I went on the Kindleboards. I got told off because I had too many books – the  covers looked very nice all lined up next to each other – but apparently, I  wasn’t meant to advertise on any forum except the self-promotion forum. I  chatted, introduced myself, talked about esoteric things, made observations,  asked questions, jumped from thread to thread with casual abandon, exuded wonderfulness, but did any  of my books become bestsellers, a top-ten chartbuster, a mover or a shaker? The  answer – if you were wondering – is a Top Ten NO!

I gave some books away:  http://indiebookblogger.blogspot.com/2011/04/free-ebooks-galore.html, and put myself about a bit: http://indieebooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/knowledge-of-time-second-civilization.html?spref=tw, and in a couple of other places that I can’t remember (note to self – must write things down!). Did these forays into the blogosphere turn any of my  books into blockbusters? Was my email clogged up with agent’s begging to represent me, or publishers offering me six-figure advances, or Steven Spielberg wanting the film rights to at least one of my books? The answer – if you were wondering – is a big fat NO!

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I could talk about Amanda Hocking, but I’m not going to. She’s now signed for a traditional publisher so she doesn’t have to do any Social networking. Now there’s an idea!This is my incursion into blogging. Will it result in sales, spikes in the Excel chart, emails from Amazon saying I’m now in their Top Ten all-time favourites and they’d like me to come back to the forums? The answer – if you were wondering is – let’s wait and see!

Please feel free to tell me if I’ve missed something, or you’ve been offended by anything I’ve mentioned. And if you like it, feel free to Tweet and Share – you never know – I might get a sale!

The King Whisperers

Just when you thought that royalty, politicians and  history were boring, along comes Kerwin Swint and The King Whisperers.

The King Whisperers breaks upon our senses at exactly the right moment. Society is growing tired of rulers and politicians, yet is excited by a film about a stuttering King that swept up all the Oscars and the fast-approaching Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton –The King Whisperers positions itself as a worthy contender for our attention.

To be honest, when the book arrived by courier, I thought to myself, this is going to be a dry read. How wrong I was. Once opened, I could not put it down and was soon recommending it to all my colleagues and friends. The King Whisperers turned out to be an engrossing insight into the lives of charismatic, shrewd, masterful, cruel and downright devious puppet-masters who have shaped the course of events in palaces, parliaments and nations throughout history. Never was history so interesting and exciting to read.

Chronicling the lives of some of the most powerful and devious individuals who would stop at nothing to ensure their own ends, Kerwin Swint shows us human-nature at its darkest and most selfish, yet sometimes at  its most altruistic. Here is shameless cruelty and sometimes sheer love; often devotion and commitment to a person, nation or cause and for which the reward is cruel and premature death. Could you have the person you had loved and shared half a lifetime with, murdered for uttering one word out-of-place? Such was the fate of Ibrahim Pashar, known as the ‘most beautiful man in the state’.

The reader will be familiar with many of the characters throughout the book. However, preconceptions will be swept away as the author demonstrates that these puppet-masters were not simply motivated by personal ambition, the struggle for power or greed as we may assume, but also by altruism, ideology and devotion that transcended any sense of personal gain. In some cases, readers will discover a sympathy with elements in a character’s personality who before  may have been despised, such as the She-Wolf Isabella of France whose love and compassion for Mortimer at his end, (“Fair son, have pity on gentle Mortimer,”) softens the devious and scheming harshness that caused her to rise against her husband Edward II.

Kerwin Swint presents his characters in a lively and engaging format, making this book an exciting read. Unlike the turgid flow of many histories – The King Whisperers sparkles with the pace and interest of a CNN or BBC report. In spite of the one negative review on Amazon, this is a book that will appeal to everybody, from the biography tourist to the serious academic in search of new information and sources. The language is accessible to all and stimulates enquiry. By the end of your read-through, you will be heading to Amazon to purchase biographies of the favourites you have bookmarked through almost 300  pages of ruthless self-serving and compassionate demise.

The only disappointment for me was that I was left wanting to know more. Now!

I didn’t want to have to run off and order copies of the lives I had read about; I was engrossed in certain characters such as Bernard of Clairvaux and Francis Walsingham. I wanted to see them in action; to see the twists and turns as they played with their masters and the affections of followers and nations. I realise however, that with 47 distinct individuals to discuss, such in-depth treatment was not possible in a single book. One thing is certain, Kerwin Swint has ensured that there will be more biographies of some interesting, though often disturbing shakers and movers on my bookshelf.

The book itself is a whisper. Each vignette is like a secret whispered in our ear, stirring the imagination and our own devious need to inform as we discover something new about one of the players.

I found myself meeting with a poet friend who had written a piece about the Battle of Towton; I had come across a little known snippet in the chapter on Kingmakers…did my friend know it, I wondered. He didn’t! I felt for a moment a little of what it was like to be a Richard Neville or a Francis Walsingham…I had passed the whisper on, and in so doing, became part of that history of shaping thought and controlling outcomes that is part of all of us.

The King Whisperers will entice, excite, educate, stimulate and motivate to further reading. I’ve already decided that Clairvaux, Walsingham and Isabella will be on my bookshelf. I am hoping that Kerwin Swint will be the author of one or more of these lives. I wonder whose schemings you will rush to read after observing The King Whisperers at work.

Tour Notes:

Please vote for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins a free promotional twitterview and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official King Whisperers blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.

The next word for the book give-away is (PUBLICITY). Learn more about the give-away and enter to win 1 of 3 copies on the official King Whisperers blog tour page. The other 2 copies are being given-away courtesy of the GoodReads author program, go here to enter. And don’t forget to stop by the Q&A with Kerwin Swint Group to discuss the King Whisperers (including questions from the official book club guide), the author, and his previous works.

Time For Reflection

Do you feel the well has dried up? Have you hit a blank page? Has the light gone out? Is the Muse departed? Is the flow of your imaginings dammed up? Yes, I know you are probably reading this and screaming ‘mixed metaphors!’ But I have a purpose.

Whatever genre of writing we are involved in and however much we may wake up full of vigour for the writing task – the truth is, when we least want it, need it or expect it, our gift vanishes. That’s why the Muse and I have so many spats…I love her dearly, but she goes away without a word…like a morning cloud vanishes from the mountain top. When the gift is gone, the worst thing we can do is stress and try to make it work. Here’s my suggestion for restarting the flow:

Take a seat in a quiet and favoured spot and relax. For me it is the old log outside the Muse Shack that is a fallen tree. Something happens when I sit there. I connect with something beyond myself…a stirring begins that is different every time, but looks a bit like this:

All the pent-up and unacknowledged stresses of my life are laid down as I give myself to the inspiration of my landscapes. As soon as my body and hands interact with that ancient seat…I become aware of all the things I could not experience five minutes before…textures, colors, smells, scents, sounds (minute some of them), feelings, emotions, desires, wishes, memories, people, places, events (gone and yet to be), pain, happiness, special joys, accolades, disappointments, fears, hopes, dreams, places that fascinated, dark places I never want to see…and shall I go on? In a few minutes of respite in a favoured place, the well is flowing, the light has come on…get the picture?

The secret is to allow yourself to feel, to sense, to smell, to hear…extend every little thought and experience out in a ‘free-flow’ way…what does it feel like when a bug from the tree is crawling up my leg? There’s a character in there…a scene…a  moment of hilarity or anger in the past. Sight of a Damselfly and the scent of Barley fumes sparked my poem ‘North East in Eden’. I’m sure you get my drift!

You see…the Muse is never far away! She is always ready to fly to my need…all I need to do is allow her freedom and then sit quietly and let her know I need her. She never disappoints.

Oh…I carry a notebook and a sharpened memory because the Muse gives me a hard time if I forget what she has brought to my attention.