Saturday, 21 July 2018

Book Review: Transient by Zachry Wheeler

This book was awesome! It reminded me so much of True Blood that it made me half want to watch that series all over again.

It concerns vampires in the distant future, except that term has fallen out of favour of late, and most people use "eternals" instead. But these are real vampires, not the sparkly, hunky, romantic vampires we've been so exposed to since the release of Twilight.

The story takes a while to get into. It opens pretty much in the middle of the action, and backstory is given in bits and pieces throughout, so it keeps you interested and curious; I only figured out what was really going on about 25% in.

Editing-wise, it's near-perfect. There are a few WTF moments which disrupted my immersion, but those are few and far between, and shouldn't be nearly bad enough to detract from your enjoyment.

There really isn't much more to say about it without regurgitating the plot, so I'll just reiterate what a fantastic story it is. If you like real, blood-sucking vampires, you should love this book.

My Review: 4 / 5 stars

About the Book

The year is 2578 and immortals control the world. Brutal wars and endless genocide have reduced mankind to a handful of mountain tribes. In order to survive, humans infiltrate the eternal society as transient spies, hoping to uncover a means to regain control of the planet. 

Jonas is a young transient deep undercover in downtown Seattle. He lives underground, works at night, and drinks his daily blood rations, just like any normal eternal. He is a model spy, but also an apostate among extremists, torn between ideologies (as well as lovers) from either side. 

Allegiances are strained to the breaking point when Jonas bears witness to a violent death that rocks the eternal civilization to its core.

Click here to find out where you can buy the e-book.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Results of my BargainBooksy promo

I got a BargainBooksy last week for Memoirs of a Guardian Angel, which ran on Monday. The book was discounted to $0.99 for the duration. Because of technical issues, the BargainBooksy e-mail only went out on Tuesday, so I set the price back to $1.99 on Wednesday.

I thought you might be interested in how it did.

The promo cost me ZAR531.04 ($40), based on the exchange rate at the time of this writing. Here's what I made in Book Sales this week, in ZAR:

Heaven and Earth

  • Amazon (USD) - R4.65

Memoirs of a Guardian Angel

  • Amazon (AUD) - R3.45
  • Amazon (EUR) - R8.68
  • Amazon (GBP) - R5.09
  • Amazon (USD) - R144.09
  • Barnes & Noble - R15.67
  • Google Play - R12.62
  • iBooks - R7.84

Total Sales: R202.09

I included Heaven and Earth in this report, because it may have been buy-throughs from people who bought Memoirs.

One of the things I noticed is that I made far fewer sales on each of the non-Amazon platforms, but made more money per sale--twice as much, in some cases. Amazon's royalty rate is pathetically low.

I knew I probably wasn't going to make my money back on this one promo, because it's a long tail. As more people finish the book they bought, and recommend it to their friends, or buy-through to my other titles, that'll hopefully come with time. Still, I had it in my head that I would make about 75% of my money back. As it stands, I made just under 40% back in sales.

I did, however, get a five-star review of Memoirs on Goodreads, and you can't put a price on that! ;-)

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Do You Read Flat White Magazine?

Flat White Magazine is an online lifestyle magazine with a focus on South Africa, published by my good author friend, Christine Bernard. It's really good, and if you haven't read it yet, you really should.

The July/August 2018 issue is chock-full of recipes, travel, things to do, and author interviews. Including a wonderful interview with yours truly!

I'm so grateful to Christine for interviewing me for this issue (see pages 31-32 for my feature), and was really happy for how it all turned out.

Flat White magazine is completely free to read online. Click the cover image above.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale is in Full Swing

The Smashwords Summer/Winter sale is in full swing.

Every year, from 1--31 July, the e-book retailer runs a massive sale, with books discounted anywhere from 25% to 100% off!

This year, I have three books in the sale. Click on the covers below to view them on the site:

A Petition to Magic

Price: $1.04 (25% off)


Price: $0.99 (50% off)

Memoirs of a Guardian Angel

Price: $0.99 (50% off)

Want More? 

Even if none of those books strikes your fancy (or even if they do, but you're just looking for more), click here to see the rest of the catalogue. There are literally thousands on sale!

Book Review: Sticky Fingers by JT Lawrence

I love short stories, and seeing as I'd just come off the marathon read that is 11.22.63, this collection was just what the doctor ordered.

As most such collections go, though, this one was a mixed bag.

The first story, Bridge Gate, would easily get five stars from me. It was poignant and emotional--actually having me almost tearing up by the end.

I have a friend who reads a lot of e-book samples, and will immediately stop and refuse to buy the book, if he finds just a single editing issue. I couldn't help thinking of him as I read this story; the first half of it contains quite a few, but they're all deliberate. I wonder if he'd actually take the time to catch the joke, or if he'd give up way too soon.

The last story, Escape, is similarly good, but for different reasons. You kind of figure out what's going on quite early into it, and because of that, you think you can predict the ending. But you can't.

I quite liked the story about the pigeons too, but aside from these three, none of them were particularly memorable. They were good... just not that good.

The one about the review of the holiday resort started out quite funny, but quickly became silly. And I struggled to reconcile what exactly was happening. At first, it seems like a guy's making a public review on a public website. The establishment responds to the review, he responds, and so on. After the second reply, it starts looking like a private e-mail conversation instead. Was it ALWAYS a private e-mail conversation, or did it start in public but become private? Or is it private from the beginning?

Either way, the ending, while I can understand the attempt at humour, doesn't make sense. That doesn't look like any non-delivery report I've ever seen coming from a mail server. And his e-mail address/domain name doesn't work, either.

I guess, being in IT, these things just bother me a bit too much.

Grey Magic, which I know is insanely popular (popular enough to warrant a spin-off novel-length work, apparently) wasn't really my cup of tea, although the ending made me chuckle. And the titular story, Sticky Fingers, was amusing, but predictable.

The editing of the whole collection was great. Almost flawless, in fact (which is what brought this review up from three stars to four), except for one little niggle. I know that times are changing, and I'm just being an old fuddy-duddy, but I kept screaming at my e-reader: "Alright is not a word! All right?"

My Review: 4 / 5 stars

About the book

Alternate cover edition for B01F6FAQZC

Diverse, dark-humoured, and deliciously bite-sized, this compelling collection of 12 short stories by JT Lawrence include:

'Escape' -- a story about a suicidal baby who knows he was born into the wrong life, and has to get creative to take measures correct the mistake, much to his mother¹s horror.

'The Itch' -- a story about an intense, uncontrollable, unexplainable itch that lands the protagonist in a mental institution.

'Bridge Gate' -- In this poignant and charming short story, a daughter yearns to connect with her absent father through the letters they exchange. She's not put off by his pedantic corrections of her writing, despite the slow reveal that he is less than perfect himself.

'The Unsuspecting Gold-digger' -- a woman gradually poisons her husband so that she doesn't have to break his heart.

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

Friday, 29 June 2018

Book Review: 11.22.63 by Stephen King

My word, but this book is long! It's good, don't get me wrong, but it's long. It took me exactly a month to read it, and I'm not exactly a slow reader.

I watched the TV series a few years ago when it came out, and I thoroughly enjoyed that. But then, I remember thinking that THAT was a bit long too--only six episodes, sure, but each one was about 58 minutes. That's long for an episode of a TV series.

The book is way longer. There's so much more depth than on TV (which is no surprise), and I particularly enjoyed the references to It in 1958 Derry. All that extra depth, though, while enjoyable and flavourful, weren't really necessary to tell the story, in my opinion.

Yoh, this book is long. I guess it wouldn't have bothered me so much if there were more (but shorter) chapters. What got to me was getting to the end of a particularly long chapter, and having this feeling of achievement because it took two full days of reading sessions to finish, and then starting the next one and having Kindle tell me something like "1 hr and 10 mins left in chapter".

I mean, really?!

My review: 4 / 5 Stars

About the Book

WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11.22.63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless . . . 

King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of Elvis and JFK, of Plymouth Fury cars and Lindy Hopping, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

With extraordinary imaginative power, King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense.

Click here to find out where you can buy the book.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Changing E-Mail Providers: Goodbye Mailchimp; MailerLite, here I come...

I've been using MailChimp to run my e-mail list since I sent out my very first one, back in early 2013. From the beginning, their "Forever Free" plan roped me in; I would never pay them a cent, as long as I had fewer than 2 000 subscribers. And of course, back then, I was so small that I never imagined I'd ever get anywhere near that number. Plus, it was easy to use, and I liked the cute chimpanzee that was their logo.

But over the years, their interface has gotten clunky, busy, and slow. They've added loads of new features which I will probably never use. Some that I probably would use, to be fair, but they're for paid accounts only.

For the past few months, I've been hearing lots about this new kid on the block, called MailerLite. The interface is clean, slick, and fast loading, and their feature set is more suited to the things an indie author might actually use. Their free plan only covers the first 1 000 users (as opposed to Mailchimp's 2 000), but in the first place, I don't even have that many, and in the second place, every single one of their features is included in the free plan. Yes, even a few of the features that Mailchimp charges for.

Plus, it was super-easy to export my list from Mailchimp and import it into MailerLite. MailerLite is also fully-GDPR compliant, plus their form builder's easier to use than Mailchimp's.

Oh, and did I mention MailerLite's 24-hour live chat support is open to everyone, too? With Mailchimp, that support costs extra.

I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.