Tuesday, 16 January 2018

I Have a New Book Coming: Memoirs of a Guardian Angel

Well, I guess the cat's out of the bag.

This December, I finished a draft of a book I've been working on since mid-2016. This week, it's with Alpha Readers, after which changes will be made, and it'll go into Beta.

I was hoping to announce it sometime in February, and aim for release around April or so, but on Friday, the W24.co.za Books Editor tweeted a bunch of indie authors. She intended to write an article on upcoming books for 2018, and wanted to know if any of us had books coming out this year.

What could I say?

The article's now been published, and you can read it here (or click the image below). There are a whole bunch of books coming this year by some great authors, including a couple of friends of mine. Go check it out.

The book in question is called Memoirs of a Guardian Angel, and here's the preliminary blurb:

Do you believe in Guardian Angels? 

When he was alive, Adam was one of the few people who did. Now he's one himself. From teen suicides to professional assassins, Adam discovers what it's like to deal with the harsh realities of humanity, from the other side of the fence.

There's no cover yet, but the book's up on Goodreads if you want to mark it as "Want to Read" so long.

Watch this space!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Sliced and Diced by Joan De La Haye (Book Review)

A collection of 17 dark and twisted tales that will entertain, scare, shock, and disturb you.

Stories include a serial killer on the hunt for his next trophy, ghosts on a murderous reunion tour, a jealous girlfriend killing her boyfriend’s beloved pet, a ghost bride, and a demon tormenting a nun.

Author Joan De La Haye presents an assortment of narratives; some have been previously published in acclaimed anthologies, while others have never seen the light of day. All are sure to provide thrills and chills but are best read with the lights on.

My Review (4 / 5 Stars)

This is a pretty mixed bag of stories. Some good, some... not so good. Thankfully, there are plenty more good than not.

Most of these stories are set in South Africa, and it was those that I enjoyed the best. Some are set in unspecified locations; I found those to be quite "meh".

My two favourites, by far, were Sliced, a ghost story set against the backdrop of farm killings in rural South Africa, and Forest, set in Johannesburg and about an actress filming an advertisement.

Both those stories were beautifully described, and I could really feel the forests of Johannesburg and the ice cold 100-year-old farmhouse in the dead of winter.

As a South African, it's great to read about locations that I can identify with, with characters using language that's familiar to me. The author doesn't try to be something she's not, so everything feels authentic, the way I would speak to my buddies.

Ms De La Haye clearly loves her beautiful country, and it shines through in her writing. Having said that, she doesn't stray away from problems we have in this country, so you do read references to security guards (where one of the characters wonders what they would do if there was actually a robbery), or the high walls we build around our properties, or the aforementioned farm killings.

In general, this book is an honest reflection on daily life in South Africa (notwithstanding ghosts, monsters, and other paranormal weirdness), and will make you feel at home!

Click here to find out where you can pick up a copy.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Stingers is a Set Work Again!

This year, I am very pleased to announce that Stingers, my novelette about bullying in High School, has once again been selected as a Grade 9 English set work at a local school here in Alberton!
The Grade 9's did it last year, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Apparently, one of the students--a macho boy--even went up to the teacher and said something to the effect of "Yoh, Ma'am. I never knew bullying could go so far!"
It's about a thirteen-year-old High School boy, who is severely bullied, and one day the bullying actually lands him in hospital.
If you have kids around 14 to 15 or so, or even younger kids whom you consider mature readers (although there is some violence and bad language in it), maybe they'd enjoy it too?


Monday, 8 January 2018

Will by Christine Bernard (Book Review)

About the Book

No power comes without a price! A supernatural thriller that will make you wonder, "What would I have done?"

What would you do if you stumbled across a magic eight ball with all the answers? Would you ask it for lottery numbers? Would you ask about the love of your life? That’s what thirty-six-year-old Will Pearce did. However, nothing good comes without a price. Will learn ...

My Review (4 / 5 Stars)

Having read Unravel, Christine Bernard's previous work (Which has nothing to do with Will, but I only mention it for comparative purposes), I should have known what to expect from this one. And I guess I kind of did, but it still took me by surprise.

This book is amazing. The pacing is just perfect, and the pain our protagonist goes through is just delicious in the way it's described.

Here's a brief synopsis, in my own words:

Meet Will. Will is your everyday normal, boring guy. Every day, he wakes up in his boring bedroom, makes himself a boring slice of toast, which he drinks with his boring regular tea on his boring balcony. Then he heads off to his boring advertising job in a boring grey building, where he sits staring at a toilet door opening and closing all day.

One day, Will discovers an old Magic Eight Ball in a shop, buys it, and his life changes forever. It's a MAGIC Magic Eight Ball! What follows is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, ups and downs, as the ball sends him to new heights... and then makes him pay the price.

I won't give anything away, but the ending is so completely unexpected, it left me reeling for days.

The copy editing of this book is way better than it was in Unravel, and I hear the author got a new editor for her second book. Still not perfect, but what book is these days? It holds its own amongst the most popular traditionally published books, anyway.

I still had that annoying lack of a linked table of contents, but it didn't bug me so much in this one as it did in Unravel. I guess I was expecting it....

Click here to find out where you can get yourself a copy.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Massive $0.99 Science-Fiction / Fantasy Sale

Happy New Year!

Between now and 4 January, I'm participating in a huge sale of Science Fiction and Fantasy e-books. This is to mark the launch of an anthology by my friends over at Claymore Publishing.

Among the books on sale is Tales From Virdura, which costs only $0.99 for the next three days.

Click the image below to see all the deals:

Please note, depending on where you are in the world, and what store you choose to buy the books at, you may see a price slightly higher than $0.99. This is to account for VAT/Sales Tax in your country.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

My Blog Stats for 2017, Revealed

It's that time of year again, folks. It's time for me to share some insights with you, into who's reading my blog, and what time of content they're reading. A lot has changed since last year's update, so sit back, relax, and read on.

Top Countries

  1. United States
  2. South Africa
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Australia
  5. Canada
The top five is almost identical to my 2016 stats, except that in position 4 and 5, Australia and Canada usurped Brazil and Germany, respectively. As I mentioned last year, it's a bit strange that a South African author's blog sees most of his traffic coming from the United States. And it's by a large margin, too!

Top Searches

A lot more people are finding me through search engines this year. Last year, there were only two searches worth mentioning (witch of wellington and cartoon island survival guide). This year, the results are more varied:
  1. youtube audio storey (sic)
  2. alibris south africa
  3. crossword puzzle
  4. e-library
  5. facebook lead ads
I can't believe people are still searching for my crossword puzzles. I stopped doing those years ago. I never had much participation in my monthly contests, and it was starting to take up way too much of my time.

Top Posts

  1. Short Story MEGA Giveaway
  2. How I (More Than) Doubled My Newsletter Subscribers on Instafreebie
  3. Buying E-Books in South Africa
  4. Buddy Ads - Support Your Local Communities
  5. MailChimp Automation, Facebook Lead Ads, and Zapier
This list is radically different from last year. For one, all of these posts were from 2017. Which kind of makes sense, as my older posts start to languish into obscurity. It's nice to see that people in South Africa are interested in finding out where they can buy e-books in South African Rands, though.

It also shows that people are actually interested in following me on my publishing and marketing journey since three of those top five posts are related to marketing.

Another Year, Done and Dusted

Well, that's it for me for 2017, everybody. I truly hope you had an amazing Christmas yesterday, and that you're having an amazing Day of Goodwill today (or Boxing Day, depending on where you are in the world).

If you got a shiny new e-reader for Christmas, you know what to do. :-)

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Diamonds and Fur: A Free Flash Fiction Story by Graham Downs

“What are you doing?” she hissed from the floor.

“Eating,” I replied.

“We’ve been held hostage, and you decide to raid the kitchen?”

“What? They didn’t say the fridge was off limits.”

Sarah put her finger to her lips. “Shh! They’re coming. Get back on the ground.”

Obediently, I sat my bum down on the floor and pressed my back against the kitchen counter.

A moment later, the two re-entered the room, brandishing their rifles. They were wearing balaclavas so we couldn’t see their faces. The one whom I assumed was the leader growled at me. “I thought I told you to be quiet in here. One more word outta you, and it’ll be your last.”

“Look,” I said, “if you’ll just hurry up and tell us what you’re looking for, I could help you, and we could all get back to our lives.”

The man slammed the butt of his rifle down into my midriff, winding me.

“None of your damn business. I said be quiet!”

I groaned in pain as the man stormed out of the kitchen. As soon as he was out of sight, Sarah rushed over to me.

She put her arm around my shoulder. “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” I wheezed. “Just a little winded.”

“Well, I’m not going to stand for this any longer.” She shot up to her feet and opened the cupboard above the stove.

“What are you doing?” I watched her frantically rifling through plastic containers.

“Aha!” she said and pulled out a bottle of sunflower oil. “These idiots were stupid enough to lock us in our own kitchen, and I’m not going to look a gift-horse in the mouth.” With that, she unscrewed the cap, and poured the oil all over the floor, in front of the closed door.

I tried to laugh but clutched my chest in pain. I thought a rib must be broken. Sarah looked at me apologetically. “Don’t worry, my love,” she said. “It’ll all be over soon."

A few moments later, we heard shouting coming from down the passage.

“Where is that stupid teddy bear? The Boss said it’d be here.”

“Quiet down! We don’t want these fools to hear us. What would they think if they knew there was eleven million in diamonds hidden away in their house?”

With that, the two fell silent. A moment later, a stomping noise, coming down the passage. It stopped, just outside the door, which flung open, and the man who had broken my rib stormed in.

“All right, you–“

He slipped on the oil and fell backward. On his way down, his finger squeezed the trigger of the rifle he was holding. The noise was deafening; the bullets punched holes in our kitchen ceiling.

Sarah wasted no time. She leapt on top of the man and yanked the rifle out of his hands. Taking a step back, she took aim and fired. The man’s head exploded in a red mist. She lifted the rifle and aimed it towards the door, just in time to see the other man rush through the open doorway.

“Jimmy, what the-”


The second man went down as well.

A nauseous feeling rushed up my gullet, at the sight of my sweet, beautiful wife, now a cold-blooded killer.

“Sarah,” I gulped. “Sarah, what did you just do?”

“Nobody hurts my husband and gets away with it.” Sarah spat onto the floor. Standing there, brandishing the rifle, she looked like Lara Croft. Or maybe some female John Rambo. Jane Rambo? I chucked at the thought, then winced in pain.

Sarah dropped the rifle and rushed to my side. Gently, she lay her hand on my chest. “We need to get you to a doctor.”

“In a minute,” I wheezed. “Do you know what they were looking for? The teddy bear?”

“Oh, don’t you remember? I gave that to my god-daughter years ago. I had no idea there were diamonds in it. I’ll give her mother a call later. But first,” she hooked her arm around me and helped me to my feet. “Let’s get you out of here.”