Is Waterstones cheating independent bookshops and readers?

Books in the Dark

When is an independent bookshop not an independent bookshop? When it’s a Waterstones in disguise.

The stores all have their own unique names and branding, with just a small notice in the window pointing out that they are a trading name of Waterstones Ltd. Many local business owners are up in arms, claiming that the chain is deliberately trying to deceive customers looking to do business with an independent store.

Unsurprisingly, the owner of the local bookshop is not happy about it. Also unsurprisingly, Waterstones have rubbished claims there is anything underhand going on.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I don’t think a national chain pretending to be an independent store is a good thing, if that is indeed what Waterstones was attempting. People have their preferences over where to shop, and regardless of whether those preferences are driven by logic or prejudice (I mean only the kind of soft prejudices like a dislike of corporations, obviously) they deserve to know into whose bank account the money they are spending is going to end up.

Villages and towns with a strong sense of community often like to support their local shops, so for someone to think that their money was going to a small business owner, or staying within the local economy, when in fact it would end up in corporate coffers or lining the wallets of shareholders isn’t fair.

But at the same time, I don’t know whether this is really an act of treachery on par with something you would expect from a character Sean Bean plays in a film. While I do understand the ‘big brand versus small business’ argument, I can’t help but appreciate the fact that many global corporations operating today started out a century or so ago as homegrown local businesses.

Look at McDonald’s for instance, the second largest employer in the world (according to data from 2012). The ubiquitous restaurant chain started life around 1940, founded by two brothers. Although it is putting it incredibly prosaically, the reason McDonald’s dominates in the way it does today is because it started out as a small business that did what it did incredibly well. Becoming a global brand, admittedly while not happening by accident, is a side-effect of business acumen, great products or services, and an ability to cater to local demand.

There are obviously lots of ways in which the ‘corporations are evil’ axiom can ring true. But to say that a shop should be avoided or demonised because it has a name and branding that you already recognise seems to me to be an oversimplification.

And of course local businesses are going to complain: Waterstones is a threat to them. It is worth remembering that the same narrative that paints all chains as heartless and profiteering paints all small business owners as people of great integrity struggling to get by.

While it is true that being a small business owner is a great way of realising a passion and pursuing your dreams, there are plenty of people who open small businesses simply because they can see an opportunity to make money.

To return to the issue at hand, is Waterstones doing something that it shouldn’t? I guess it depends on your attitude towards independent bookshops. I love any kind of bookshop; I have to admit that local ones often do have more personality and flexibility to be different.

But it’s unsurprising to think that chains can often offer more: my local Waterstones (I say local, it’s still over half an hour away from where I live) is many times larger than the bookshops in my local town. But at the same time, one of my local bookshops always has windows brimming full of signed copies of the latest books by bigshot authors. It’s a bookshop you should take seriously: these are book-loving professionals running their business well.

So I suppose if you hate chain bookshops then this might seem like a bad precedent. While the idea that people working in a small family-owned bookshop love books, while those working in a chain hate them and just want a job, seems rather childish, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no truth in the point.

But looking like an independent bookshop can also be a double-edged sword. Not everybody loves independent shops. Some of them prefer chain bookshops, believing them to offer more variety and better service – I’m not saying it’s true, just that there are prejudices against small business owners and unique shops as well as there are national chains and global corporations. So Waterstones could find itself losing customers because they don’t realise it’s a chain and thus keep walking down the street instead of going in to browse.

Only if you dislike large chains do you see their branding and corporate identity as some kind of dirty secret they need to be rid of. Companies love their branding: that’s why they spend so much money on it. That’s why their carrier bags, pens, staff uniforms and delivery trucks are decorated in corporate livery. It is the brand that attracts the customer.

So while the one point of view casts Waterstones as some creeping and insidious force, attempting to infiltrate the local high street in disguise, the other depicts a well-known chain sacrificing its valued and advantageous branding for the sake of blending in with the aesthetic of its local trading environment. The move could be a concession on behalf of Waterstones; an acknowledgement that they are the outsider, and a sign that they’re making an effort to blend in.

I think that both these for and against arguments are a little too fairytale. Waterstones’ move was based upon a business decision, and, equally, it’s money that motivates the objections.

Ultimately, I’d say the outlook for those particular high streets is pretty rosy from the point of view of booklovers. More choice in books is never a negative, and if we can all agree on just one thing, it’s that readers are not the type of people to come out of one bookshop and say ‘I’d better not browse in that bookshop as well, I’ve bought enough books today.”

What about you? Are you Team Waterstones or Team Independent? Scroll down and leave a comment to let me know if you think Waterstones has done a bad thing, a good thing, or an irrelevant thing.

Chipping Away at New Year’s Resolutions

Fountain pen and letter on wooden background

Well, rest in peace January. We had a good run, but now it’s over. Time to abandon your New Year’s Resolutions, everyone, and go back to the bad habits.

What exactly were my New Year’s Resolutions again? Hopefully not ‘Improve your memory’, because in that case I’ve definitely failed.

In actual fact, my resolution this year was basically just ‘2016 and then some’ (I originally wrote ‘2016+1’, but realised that’s just 2017, which I technically what everyone will be doing). I don’t mean ‘kill beloved celebrities’, though. Last year I took a leap towards unlearning my habit of thinking that progress can only be made in big steps.

I spent a lot of time thinking that I wasn’t getting very far on the second Laslo Kane book. Partly because I managed to get my dates confused and was therefore under the impression Fallen on Good Times came out around five years ago. It’s more like half that. Taking around three years to write another book isn’t bad, in my opinion (assuming, that is, I get it finished this year). Even full time professional authors usually have a couple of years between books. Considering all my other commitments and time drains, I’m doing pretty well.

The bigger issue was that I often didn’t make any progress because the task seemed so big that I couldn’t see the point in writing 100 words or so; in my mind each session should have been a few thousand or it wasn’t worth bothering to switch the computer on. But when you have a baby who could wake up at any second, you can’t guarantee that you’ll have a couple of hours of writing time. Thus, little got done.

At the beginning of last year – downtrodden by the misapprehension that it had been four or so years since Fallen on Good Times had been published – I decided I needed a change of attitude. And so I vowed to do whatever, whenever. I forced myself to view even a single extra sentence as progress. On occasions I wrote just 100 words before closing the document; on others I wrote several thousand.

It worked. On New Year’s Day 2016 I already had around 30,000 words of book II written. By New Year’s Day 2017, the word count had risen to 110,000. I wrote 80,000 words last year, all while learning to value every word typed as a little victory. Fallen on Good Times is just over 65,000 words; so just in terms of word count I wrote more than another book.

It just goes to show that making glacial progress is much more effective than making no progress. I was genuinely surprised last year when I realised just how much I had managed to write.

So my resolution for this year is simply to take that attitude and try and keep at it. I’ve had lots of dormant projects lying in wait for me to have the time to pay them attention. I don’t think I’ll ever have ‘the time’, but from the outside I didn’t really have the time to write 80,000 words last year. I still did.

2017 will be another year of chipping away. Even if I end the year only having added a hundred words or so to each of my other projects (or the equivalent of a hundred words if it’s not a writing project), that’s still an achievement.

Then again, January’s over now. Who keeps their New Year’s resolutions past January? February is the month of ‘Drink a Pint of Cigarettes While Eating Pizza in Your Old Job’.

Good luck, everyone.

I Never Thought I’d Be This Happy to Get Rejected

Fountain pen and letter on wooden background

Aspiring novelists must have issues. Getting published is a process which involves being rejected so much you could probably put it on your CV as a part-time role. In order to be an aspiring novelist, you have to have a very thick skin, or at least the ability to keep your crying on the inside when you’re at a party and someone asks: ‘So, how’s the writing going?’

Like any wannabe famous published author, I’ve had my fair share of rejections. If anything, I haven’t had nearly as many as I should have, because I’ve been busy; because I’ve been afraid; because I didn’t think I was good enough to even bother sending it out; because I spilled jam on the keyboard – the list goes on.

I did, however, rather recently get rejected again. And, surprisingly, I’m now going to tell you why that’s made me very happy. All right, I admit, I’m actually going to brag a little bit. But I need to tell as many people as possible, so it is either blog about it, or stand out in the street with a megaphone and accost people trying to buy shoes, and mobile phones, and cabbages, and bits of string, et cetera.

It all began just under a year ago (cue wistful, memory inducing harp music). The fantasy and science fiction publisher HodderScape held an ‘open submissions’. Basically these days if you want to submit your manuscript to a publisher, you have to go through an agent. Getting an agent involves pretty much the same process as you used to have to go through to get a publisher, which means your book now has to do it all twice, and the odds of success are probably considerably lessened. Open submissions are when a publisher invites people who don’t have an agent to submit their manuscripts.

Considering how hard it is to get an agent, an opportunity like this is golden for aspiring writers. It’s the kind of thing a lot of people would jump at the chance to have. In fact, a lot of people did. That’s important to remember.


I submitted a couple of things. One of them was a book I’ve been working on pretty much since childhood, which keeps accidentally evolving and getting more complicated (although not a boring, overworked kind of way) and so was never actually finished. I got the first three chapters all nice and polished – for what felt like the 15th or so iteration – wrote a synopsis for the novel, which is painful by the way, and sent it off along with a covering letter.

Incidentally, I also submitted Fallen on Good Times, just because I could. That one didn’t get very far, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s already published, after all.

Shortly after this – five days in fact – my son was born. This somewhat altered the paradigms of my life, and I forgot about such trivial things as hopes and dreams. Over the next 10 or so months my focus became one of eagerly anticipating and celebrating the micro things in life: Logan opening his eyes; my wife allowing me to get Logan a Batman onesie; Logan saying ‘Guuuuu’. I didn’t have time for my future; his was all that mattered. And it was happening a lot faster than mine.

It did occur to me once or twice to wonder what happened to my other book. It hadn’t been explicitly rejected, but publishers and agents are a bit like jobs – you’re very unlikely to hear back if you don’t get one. I assumed that the book had been read and passed over not long after Fallen on Good Times, and that HodderScape were simply too busy to get in touch and let me know.

I was wrong.


So fast forward, or rewind depending upon whether you are still living in my narrative past or your actual present, to last Thursday. Walking home from work I checked my emails on my phone and found one from a certain large fantasy/science fiction publisher. It was largely a form rejection, but there were a couple of interesting pieces of information, namely the fact that 1,500 manuscripts were submitted, under this paragraph:

‘We are aware that you submitted your novel to us quite some time ago. Multiple members of the team read and discussed your manuscript before we came to a decision, and we were all very impressed with it, which is why it has been a while since you last heard from us.’

I’ll come back to the number of manuscripts in a minute, because there is something very cool about that which I want to tell you. But I didn’t find out the really cool thing until later that evening. The information in the paragraph above is cool enough, though.

When a book is submitted to a publisher it is usually assessed by the aptly named ‘reader’. This is a person whose job it is to wade through the hundreds upon hundreds of manuscripts from aspiring authors and to sift out those of some merit. The huge majority of submissions to a publisher or agent fall at this first hurdle. If the reader finds a manuscript that they think has promise then it gets passed higher.

So the fact that this email from Hodder told me that my opening chapters had been read by several people in the team was incredibly heartening. This meant those chapters hadn’t just impressed one person: they had impressed several. While they were eventually rejected, doing so was a tough decision. This was not a case that one person picked up my opening chapters, read the first few lines and went ‘Well this is terrible’, before shredding the pages, setting fire to the shredded debris, burying the burning embers under three feet of concrete, and then blowing up the concrete. They were ‘very impressed’, and my opening chapters must have shown a lot of promise.

vintage clock

But now let’s get onto the really cool thing. The really heartening thing. You see, about this time I was scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw a status from a previous university lecturer of mine – the insanely prolific creator of National Flash Fiction Day, Calum Kerr – saying how excited he was that the book he had submitted to a publisher who had an open call for submissions had made it into the top 25. It was the fact he said that the publisher had been assessing 1,500 manuscripts that piqued my interest.

Could this have been the same publisher, HodderScape? But as soon as I wondered this I was confused. His status had been posted a couple of days before I received my rejection. So if he knew that his book had made it into the top 25, and he knew that before I was rejected, what did that mean for me? Sure enough, I got in touch and discovered that it was the same publisher. Not only this, but I found out that he only knew his book had made it into the top 25 because Hodder had been commenting on a recent blog post they wrote to keep everybody up to date on how they were progressing through the huge pile of submissions. And at just after midday, on 5th July, they commented to let everybody know that:

‘We’ve got about 25 manuscripts left to make decisions on, which means we have contacted slightly more than 98% of everyone who submitted to us.’

That was two days before I received my rejection. Which means that out of 1,500 (yes, 1,499 once you take Fallen on Good Times into account, but I’m sure they rounded the figure, and so will I) my opening chapters made it into the top 25. My chapters, my synopsis, my idea, survived the process where 1,475 others did not. My work made it into the top 1.67%.

I said at the beginning that getting rejected is a big part of being a writer. Well, so is self-doubt. I have plenty of comments, compliments, and indications that I am a good writer. It should be enough to have an unshakeable faith in my ability, but it’s not. I still fear, in my darkest moments, that I’ll never make it all of the way.

Developments like this remind me why I keep going. They remind me why I’ve always had the determination to keep on working. Being in the top 25 of most things is good (unless you’re in a ‘Best Door In An Advent Calendar’ competition, or ‘Best Episode In A Season Of 24’ countdown). Yes, I got rejected because there were better books. There are always better books.

libro antico aperto

One of the problems with being a writer is the uncertainty. I have plenty of rejections that comprise of nothing more than a couple of polite sentences on a sheet of A4 paper. Agents and publishers are usually too busy to provide personalised feedback. Which means you usually never know how your work really fared.

They might have thought it was the worst thing they had ever read; they might have thought it was great, but just needed one more rewrite. There is a huge spectrum spanning failure and success upon which your work could fall at any point, yet the average rejection letter gives you no indication whatsoever as to your bearing. It can be excruciating.

On the other hand, you could be holding something brilliant, but only failed due to the personality, tastes, or idiosyncrasies of that particular reader for that particular publisher. The next one on your list could be the one who absolutely loves it. We all know the stories of the famous authors who got rejected multiple times. But at the same time, the words on the page could be all wrong, the characters could be weak, the plot could be boring. You could be wasting your time, and opportunities, by sending out dirge.

Which is what makes this rejection so special. It’s why I’m so happy to have been rejected. Because this rejection tells me something that rejections usually don’t. It might seem oxymoronic, but this rejection has told me I’m good. I nearly got all the way to the end (although, in this case the end is actually technically the beginning: having the opportunity to submit the full manuscript to the editor for assessing).

So now I know that those opening chapters are solid. They did get rejected, so maybe they need a few tweaks here and there. Maybe a key essence of the character was missing, perhaps the world wasn’t quite as developed as it needed to be. Maybe the sentence structure exhibited some repeat issues. But overall it’s got a lot of promise. I know that I can send those opening chapters out to other agents and publishers, knowing that they are good enough to get far. They might not have quite worked for Hodder, but they might work perfectly for someone else.

Oh, and there’s also the small issue of the fact that, because Logan was born pretty much as soon as these chapters were submitted, I never actually had time to rework the rest of the book in-line with this new opening. So, to be honest, if they’d accepted them and asked for the full manuscript, the next few weeks of my life would have been frantic, frenzied, and frenetic.

I mean I do have a book to be writing – the follow-up to Fallen on Good Times isn’t going to produce itself. But finishing the second book is going to be somewhat easier now. I’m still level-headed, I’m still objective, I’m still well aware of my flaws, but thanks to the events of last week, I can sit back in my chair and get to work on book 2 knowing that every sentence I dictate is coming out of the mind of an author who, if he works hard, has a tangible – if remote – chance of getting all the way.

70,000 words and counting

quill pen in inkwell on antique paper

A few days ago I broke through the 70,000 word mark on the follow-up to Fallen on Good Times. It’s really opened my eyes to what you can achieve when you chip away at something a little bit at a time. What always held me back was the sheer size of the task ahead of me. Every time I would sit down at my computer, or think about working on the book, I would simply realise just how many tens of thousands of words were required from me and give up, overwhelmed by the scale of it all.

But since Christmas I’ve been reinvigorated. I started 2016 with a very old draft of the book that was about 30,000 words long. Simply by adopting the philosophy that writing even 100 words was better than writing nothing, I find myself now having averaged 10,000 words a month and well past the halfway point. I’m currently in the middle of writing one of the key scenes in the book – a scene which I’ve been visualising for over three years now.

It reminds me of that Lao Tzu proverb – overused, but incredibly accurate (as cliches often are) – ‘a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step’.

I’ve begun building up momentum now, driven by the fact that not only am I approaching the finish line, but also the realisation that the finish line has moved closer towards me.

If you read this post on the fact that book II is going to be a very long one, you’ll know that I estimated the final word count at around 135,000 words. I arrived at that number by dividing the amount of words I had done so far by the number of plot points I had completed writing, then multiplied that by the total number of plot points in my synopsis.

Well, as I progressed through the synopsis, I realised that in shuffling scenes around I’d accidentally duplicated five of the plot points. This takes the synopsis down to 40 key developments, which has had the effect of shaving about 15,000 words off the projected total.

All of a sudden, I’m excited again. I’m no longer just trudging along, reminding myself of the big picture (that one day I’ll turn around and give myself a damn good kicking over the fact it’s taken me four years to write another book, all the while lamenting the other volumes I could have written if I just had the discipline and the motivation). Now, I’ve begun to think about the finished book: about how exciting it will be to market another volume; to hold the finished novel in my hands; to put on the shelf with my other work. I’ve started dreaming up ideas for book trailers and other such promotion.

But it’s not that I’m getting ahead of myself: there’s still a long way to go before I’ve even finished draft one, let alone the extensive edits and reader feedback that are going to come before this book is ready to go. This foresight is not jumping the gun, it’s simply the by-product of enthusiasm. It’s similar to the way in which you speed up the pace of your reading as you reach the most tense part of a novel; you aren’t wishing it away, you’re simply eager to see how it unfolds.

Plus there are lots of things that I didn’t get to do when marketing Fallen on Good Times, which I’m excited to try out for book II. I’m also interested to see if the simple act of having two published novels will improve my sales (it couldn’t make them any worse).

There is still quite a way to go yet. Which reminds me: 80,000 words beckons. If you’ll excuse me…

The Wilderhark Tales come to an end

I think Danielle E. Shipley is just doing this all to spite me, really. She seems to have taken it upon herself to make a lot of self-published authors look bad. A couple of years ago she published Book One of the Wilderhark Tales – a clever reimagining of some classic stories and fables. It was entitled The Swan Prince, and it was very good. Now, with the pending release of the aptly titled The Story’s End, the 7-part novella series comes to…well, an end.

Today is the cover reveal for that final book. And what a cover it is, too:


As if the cover alone wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, here’s some info:

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales”, coming October 13, 2015; now available to add to your Goodreads “To Read” shelf.

You can buy and read the other six volumes from Amazon. Head on over to Danielle’s website to learn more about them.

Can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned next, Danielle.


Kicking off 2015 with a dark, paranormal fantasy anthology

Gates of Erebus CoverIntroducing Gates of Erebus, a dark paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction anthology featuring some of the best indie authors from around the world. And me.

Towards the end of last year I was approached by Su Williams about a fantasy anthology she was planning on putting together. Su wanted stories a bit on the darker side, and I jumped at the chance to have something published in the company of some great writers.

It had also been a while since I had written a short story, and I felt like stretching some unused writing muscles. Short stories are very different to novels, being more of a snapshot of narrative. I think of them more as raising a point, where a novel would raise the issue, explore its themes, and resolves its plotline.

My story started with a very simple concept. If you were to imprison a vampire, because they live forever, their guards would spend their entire life in the monster’s company. What would happen if a guard, on her way up the ranks and fighting in wars, had to chance to understand killing and evil from the point of view of the vampire?

On One Side, a Monster tells the story of an ambitious soldier who returns to the vampire at various points in her life. But is she looking to understand, or is she looking for guidance?

Gates of Erebus is an anthology featuring short stories on a range of subjects, from deadly serious to darkly humorous. You can get it in Kindle and in Paperback, and all profits go to the charity Reading Is Fundamental. You can find the buy links at the bottom of this page.

So that’s another book on my published shelf. Hopefully a couple more will join it; the second Laslo Kane book for starters. Which reminds me, I’ve got some chapters to write.

Gates of Erebus Amazon UK

Gates of Erebus Amazon US

If Zoella did need a ghostwriter, why is she writing books at all?

Zoella Girl Online
Zoe Suggs – AKA Zoella – with her new book, Girl Online, which has become the fastest selling debut novel of all time. Image Credit: Nerve Media

Beauty and fashion blogger Zoella has become one of the UK’s biggest YouTube stars. With six million YouTube subscribers, nearly 2million Facebook Likes, and 2.6million Twitter followers, Zoella has amassed a legion of fans, and is a demonstration of the powers of social media when used correctly. She’s even released her first novel, although perhaps a writer she is not.

Girl Online has become the fastest selling debut novel of all time, recording 78,000 copies in its first week. The writer part of me wants to be mad about that, but the business part of me understands how branding works, and thinks that’s fair enough. Maybe. Except that it’s now emerging that Zoella collaborated with a ghostwriter to craft her record-breaking debut. Depending upon which sources you trust (from Zoella to the broadsheets), she either had help, a co-author, or someone who wrote the whole book for her.

Penguin, the publishers of Girl Online, have said in a statement, that “to be factually accurate you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own”.

Zoella herself has said that she of course had help – this is her first novel, after all. In her acknowledgments she thanks two known Penguin ghostwriters: Amy Alward and Siobhan Curham. Alward was Zoella’s editor for the book, but the extent of Curham’s contribution is what is causing speculation. A deleted blog post from Curham’s blog suggests that a publisher asked her to write an 80,000 word novel in six weeks, which coincides with the timings and lengths of Zoella’s announcements regarding the book, and the book itself. Hardly conclusive, but worth an ‘hmmmm’.

If it turns out that, in fact, Zoella’s only contribution to the book was to have her name put on the front and sign lots of copies, we shouldn’t be surprised. In the same way we shouldn’t be shocked that Katie Price didn’t write any of her books. Or that not every footballer who releases an autobiography has suddenly become articulate and literary enough to tell their own story. It’s not unexpected. But it is wrong.

Here’s why. Zoella is a very talented and hardworking person. She’s done a great thing to become so well known and build her brand. Kudos to her. Vlogging, blogging, social media marketing – that’s her thing. She’s good at that. But if she used a ghostwriter to write her book, she’s pretending to be good at something she isn’t.

The charts are full of books that are being bought because of the name on the cover and not the content of the pages behind it.

We see it a lot with pop stars who suddenly decide they want to be actors. They’re too famous and successful for anyone to tell them the truth – that acting requires a lot of talent and hardwork, and is very, very different from writing and selling a few million albums – so they go for it, and everyone encourages them. It usually turns out to be bad.

Celebrities who use ghostwriters are making it all about branding. The charts are full of books that are being bought because of the name on the cover and not the content of the pages behind it. Sometimes it’s fine – many celebrities and other people have great stories that deserve to be told, but don’t have the skills to express it themselves in a compelling and accurate way. But Zoella’s book isn’t her autobiography, it’s a work of fiction.

If Siobhan Curham wrote Girl Online on her own, she should be getting the credit. She is the writer with the skillset and drive to create the book.

There’s plenty of great fiction out there struggling to get noticed. Fantastic works that deserve much more credit than they are getting, but are ignored because their writers haven’t yet built up a huge platform from which to market themselves. Zoella is a brand, and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t use that brand to promote products and make money. But why is she going into fiction when there are a lot of relevant industries she could be working with. As far as I’m aware, Iain M Banks never released his own nail varnish. Robin Hobb doesn’t have her own set of curling tongs on the market. Yet those are products, not works of art. It’s OK to endorse something like that, because no one expects you to do 10 hour shifts in the factory that makes them.

What is worst about this, assuming it is all true, is that it once again reinforces the idea that celebrity is an adequate replacement for talent. If Siobhan Curham wrote Girl Online on her own, she should be getting the credit. She is the writer with the skillset and drive to create the book. Zoella says the characters and story are her own, but a lot of people I have talked to have tried writing a book at some point in their lives. Coming up with a story and characters is only a small part of the process. The part she may have missed out is the hard work and drudgery – the bit where mediocre ideas can be realised as fantastic concepts and situations.

People who can’t really sing have albums in the charts, pop stars are in major Hollywood films (and often doing a terrible job), and people who can’t write books have bestselling novels sitting at the top of the book charts. Why is this happening? Why have we entered an age where having people know who you are is more important than actually being good at something?

But Zoella is talented. It just might be that she doesn’t have the ability to write books (or that she doesn’t know that she has because she has never actually tried it). Why is she diversifying into a format she isn’t familiar with when there are so many natural avenues open to her?

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’ve got to get busy making my name as a writer so I can finally achieve my dream of having my own brand of cupcake moulds.

Do you think Zoella wrote Girl Online? Does it matter if she didn’t? Tell me your thoughts in the comment’s box below.

Want a free book? Win a signed copy of Fallen on Good Times

Fallen on Good Times Front Cover 600x375There are 3 signed copies of Fallen on Good Times, my paranormal detective noir, up for grabs. All you have to do is head over to my Facebook page and ‘Like’ the page to be in with a chance of winning. Three of my Facebook fans will be randomly selected after the cut-off point of 5pm (GMT) tomorrow (Wednesday 8th).

Paranormal private detective Laslo Kane is ready to leave the game, but how can he resist one last case when the fee could change his life forever? All around the city, people are being murdered, but the mob seems to be acting like it is doing them a favour. Can Laslo find out why? Can he reconcile himself to his ex-girlfriend, Kitty?

Most importantly – can Laslo stay alive, when earning a living threatens to be the death of him?


So what are you waiting for? With two clicks, a free paperback copy of my ‘whirlwind debut’ could be yours!

Good luck.

Find out more about Fallen on Good Times at the Amazon pages below.







Out now on Kindle – Fallen on Good Times: a paranormal detective noir

Fairy tales are warnings. Legend is history. Monsters are real.

Fallen on Good Times Front Cover 600x375Paranormal detective Laslo Kane wants to escape his dangerous life. When a terrified investor offers him a huge sum of money to solve the murder of his business partner, Laslo sees his chance. But to claim his fee, Laslo will have to follow a trail of connected murders right back to their source: the mob.

On his side are an oblivious journalist, his reluctant ex-girlfriend, and a spiritualist medium who hasn’t realised that he himself is dead. But against him are vampires, a pet werewolf, and the mob’s most terrifying weapon of all – the ghoulish Pottelli Spectres.

Can Laslo solve the case and collect his fee, or will earning a living be the death of him?

Laslo Kane, Paranormal Detective

For Laslo Kane, life hasn’t quite turned out the way he imagined it. Being a private detective is nothing like he thought it would be, and it’s all because he discovered the truth about Pilgrim’s Wane. When you are a terrible detective, the only people that come to you are those with nowhere else to turn.

Laslo is used to hearing extraordinary tales from people other detectives would dismiss as crazy. Laslo can’t afford to do that, and that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that, more often than not, these tales turn out to be true.

There’s a lot more to Pilgrim’s Wane that meets the eye.

A paranormal crime novel

Fallen on Good Times is part comedy, part Noir, and all mystery. You can find out all the latest news about this mystery novel by signing up to my mailing list below, or visiting me on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to follow me and Like my page to ensure you don’t miss news on the novel.

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Out now on Amazon Kindle – Fallen on Good Times Kindle eBook

Fallen on Good Times is a paranormal mystery novel available as an eBook from Amazon. Click the relevant button below to go to Amazon and buy your copy today.



Prefer a physical copy? Paperback book released on Saturday June 7th

Keep in touch for all the latest updates to ensure that you don’t miss the release of the paperback version.


Busy blog touring and paranormal detective noir book launch

So, as you might expect for someone launching a book, the past few weeks have been pretty hectic. The trailers have been released, the covers finalised, the manuscript typeset.

There’s also been the matter of a blog tour. Mine has been rather haphazard, I must admit, but I’ve still managed to get some interesting articles written and featured on some fantastic blogs, as well as being interviewed by some great people. Each stop on the tour offers something slightly different, so do check them all out. I suppose in a way it’s quite fitting that I tell of my blog tour after it’s (mostly happened), considering it is for a book set in 1920s America.

You can keep up to date with all the latest news as it actually happens by Liking my page on Facebook.

Where I’ve been touring:

Chaosmos – Writing my way to self discovery. And biscuits.

Paddy’s Daddy Publishing Blog – Getting discovered at the perfect time.

It’ll All Work Out (Janet Rundquist) – Questions on reading and writing

Books Are Cool – Interview

Ellen Gregory – Interview about Fantasy/Paranormal writing

Sharon Sant – From hobbyist to professional. A reader’s guide to a writer’s plight.

Nyx Book Reviews – Interview

Paul D. Brazill – Short, sharp interview

Ryan Bracha – Jeremy Bracsman vs Rewan Tremethick

29th May – Ever on Word – Gosh, would you mind? Promoting as a British Author.

30th May – Emerald Barnes – Fallen on Good Times character bios

Fallen on Good Times – out Saturday May 31st

Fallen on Good Times Front Cover 600x375

Watch the trailers below, and then go here to sign up and get the first three chapters for free, in both Kindle and PDF format, so you don’t miss out no matter what device you want to read them on.


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