For anyone wandering this way, here are a few of my favourite blogs that I don’t want to be forgotten.
The Lost Islands of Xogulano
There’s the story of a woman on a mission to catalogue the bizarre plants and animals of the Island of Xogulano. But she finds a world more dangerous than she expected. In the Lost Islands of Xogulano.
Inspirational Posters for the Inept
There’s the Motivational Posters for the Inept where you won’t find ‘If you can’t handle me at my best’ or ‘dance like no one’s watching.’ But you might find something that makes you smile.
And finally, you can find me talking about the brain injury and PTSD that happened to me thirteen years ago. These weren’t easy to write about, but I figured out so many things about how to care for myself that I believed could be useful to other people going through the same. Some also commented it at the time that the ideas were helpful for anyone, brain damage or not.
Take care of yourselves, blogsters! I look forward to visiting again soon.
I’ve been a bit absent recently, I’ve been wildly busy dancing with aliens and building underground tunnels ready for when the Earth’s surface turns to fire. Today I have a fever, so I’m taking a break from all of that to introduce to any of you who don’t subscribe to Samantha Henthorn’s blog, a chapter from her just released book, because I thought it was great. I love its energy and strangeness. For some reason I couldn’t get it to reblog, so I’m just going to post an extract with a link. Go and have a look at the whole chapter, plus the new one that’s just gone up, they’re ace! Or just buy the book, go on! Note: any incoherence in this post is due to the fever, and not due to incompetence, for once.
Curmudgeon Avenue Chapter 10: ‘Todger’ wanted
Things were really not going well in Edith and Edna’s search for a todger. I mean a lodger. Wantha and Toonan were the first of a long line of unsuitable potentials. First, there was the woman Edna was convinced she had seen on the reality eviction programme. Then there was the man Edith thought had a liking to one of the mug-shots of local ‘wanteds’ from the local paper. Then there was the family with all their belongings squashed into checked launderette bags. It took all of Edna’s posh-voice-strength to explain that the room was for single occupancy only. ‘For goodness sake! Please stop unpacking your chattels!’ She had screamed.
Of course, Ricky Ricketts heard on Wantha’s grapevine that his mother had a room up for rent. He appeared in the vestibule of number one, Curmudgeon Avenue on a day where the sky looked like porridge. Skies, of course, do not really look like porridge. Unless we are talking about the sky on one of Edna’s pieces of art, a painting that she painstakingly continued with when she heard Ricky Ricketts’ voice.
‘I need you to transfer two hundred quid into my account, otherwise, I’m gonna be overdrawn. I can’t tell them it’s my mum’s fault can I?’
‘Right… I’ve told you, stop looking over my shoulder when I’m on the internet banking Richard!’ Edith’s shaky little voice was observed by Edna upstairs. She would not come down, she hated her nephew and scolded her sister for being so soft with him. She carried on painting her picture of lumpy sky in cheap acrylic (white paint is most likely to run out first, and Edith had Edna on a strict budget because of the roof don’t forget). Yes the sky painting would not be finished until Ricky had left, exiting with the roof fund transferred into his current account. It was too cold for naked self portrait painting, unless she put the heating on. But that would mean more expense, and more risk of bumping in to her horrible nephew downstairs. Edna continued painting. She opened the skylight out wide to take in inspiration of the outside world of Curmudgeon Avenue, Whitefield on this miserable Saturday. She observed two cars passing each other on the road below. Sliding around like the sausages in a tin of beans and sausages, gliding and almost colliding slowly. Slowly enough for the drivers of each car to glance recognition at one another before speeding off in opposite directions…
These are the second two reviews I promised, again, by two of my favourite bloggers.
Firstly The Shameful Narcissist Speaks, link here, who writes about gaming, books and her own writing projects. If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, then you definitely have to pay her a visit. Or if you’re just fond of good writing and cats. Here’s her review.
If you want to delve into the machinations of how a cult can draw in and take over “normal” people, this is the book you want to read. Looking at it from the outside, it’s easy to see what’s going on, but if you really want to believe something because you have nothing else, you will. That’s how these kinds of people prey on the most vulnerable. This novel is a disturbing journey, but that’s what makes it worth the read.
And last but not least, Darnell Cureton’s Writing Block, link here, who writes stories and explores writing ideas, always an entertaining read. His latest story, The Dreamers Door was brilliant, a dark, twisting tale. And the review for my book!
The novel PEDDLING DOOMSDAY by Petra Jacob is a fascinating read. It tells the story of normal people, like you and me searching for a better life. People searching for purpose, for meaning in their lives. Peddling Doomsday tells the story of vulnerable people recruited into a religious cult.
Induction into The Center Of Truth is a gradual process. Our protagonist Deirdre, unhappy with her marketing job, starts reading their media: ‘Youdon’t know how significant you are. We Need You.’ In time she was convinced someone needed her for a higher calling.
Psychology, emotional manipulations, and external stimuli inevitably convinced Deirdre and other followers to sever ties with the outside world. Isolation of recruits leads to reliance on ranking cult members like the Captain, as they are stripped of outside support.
To prevent hiding behind your flaws, followers replaced given names with Cinnamon, Cabbage, Bear, Night and Torque.
Cult jargon – Interference, Brilliance, The Shadows, The Elite, and Defts – only true believers understood the meaning. This cultivated a sense of exclusiveness among members. Everyone wanted to be a believer, to be in the inner circle.
The story tells of Myra, the cult leader sharing the truth that has been revealed to her. She has the answers as to who is really running the world and why a great fight is coming. Deirdre begins to mentally question the soundness of the sect as she is instructed to perform odd rituals. Her paranoia increases while she tries to separate reality from delusion. This story is fiction, but could very well be today’s reality. For that, Peddling Doomsday gets 5 stars – or 5 spectacular Defts as I compel you to like this post.
My book has been available for a little while now. I’ve had some great reviews, but a few have really stood out as my favourites, partly because the people who wrote them are some of my favourite bloggers. I’m going to repost two today, and two more later this week.
If you enjoyed Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or Laline Paull’s ‘The Bees’ then this book will appeal to you. In actual fact, I am sure this book will appeal to you anyway when I finished reading it earlier today I thought, wow! That was amazing! I’ve just finished reading this book and couldn’t put it down. We get to meet poor Deirdre who is cajoled into joining a weird cult where everyone gets a new name apart from… well I wouldn’t want to spoil that bit it’s priceless! This dystopian mayhem tells of the wrongs of modern life .. I was reading and giving Petra Jacob an imaginary high five!
Page turner rating :5/5
Three word review: Social Networking lies!
Then Jeyran Main, who writes honest reviews, that always show an insightful understanding of what she’s read. If you want the low down on what to read, she’s a great choice.
Peddling Doomsday is a psychological thriller written about a girl who joins a cult named the ‘centre”, in order to prove herself worthwhile. Once, she joins the group she realizes that not everything she has been told is the truth. Delusions begin to overtake her and she begins to question herself.
I found the story to be exceptionally well written. I particularly enjoyed the strong female character side of the story and how complex a female mind can work, think, operation and feel.
The author emphasizes more on the physiological aspect of the story yet made the book very thrilling to read. The path was not straightforward and the twists kept the reader intrigued wanting to know more.
I believe every story has to always have an impacting side to it. A factor that influences the reader’s mind and makes the individual lose their selves into the adventurous path. This book did just that and by displaying the problems we could face with the modern living, I think it would suit most fiction readers.
There is lots of information around the internet on self-publishing, but what I found difficult was that all the information seemed to start in the middle, assuming that I already knew what all the programs were, and terms meant. To try and help any of you new to this to avoid the same confusion, here’s a glossary.
Publishing programs and files
Ebooks can be published in a number of different formats, each of which can be used on different ereaders and devices. Other file types here . I’ve just referenced the ones I know.
Mobi – a file used on Kindle ereaders
Epub – a file for kobo ereader and Blackberry
PDF – a type of file often used for other documents, but sometimes requested from reviewers to play on Acrobat.
Kindle – refers to the electronic book reader made by Amazon or the type of file for that reader.
Calibre – a program that can be downloaded for free to convert any of the above files (or a word file) to any other of the above files.
Createspace – the program that can be used on Amazon to create a paperback. Most simply it involves downloading a template and then putting your book into that template and releasing it online. Once up, Createspace is the website you use to check your book, sort out blurb, price etc, and then shows you how many books you’ve sold. You can use this website to make changes also.
KDP – like Createspace, but for ebook publishing. Note: you can use KDP to publish paperbacks, but I have no idea how good that is.
Sellers of ebooks
Kindle Unlimited – a subscription to Amazon ebooks that allows readers to download a few at a time for free. A little like an online library that you pay a monthly fee for.
Kindle Select – you can choose to enrol in Kindle Select. The downside is you can’t use any other publishing platform, like those below. However you can get a higher percentage of the profits of each book you sell (but only if it’s $1.99 or above) People who are paying a subscription to Kindle Unlimited can download it for free, and you are paid for page views.
Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Ibooks, Gardners – I’ve not used these, because I’m enrolled in Kindle Select. There are more publishers, but these are the big ones. You can upload to each one individually, but it’s easier to use a distributor.
Distributor – InGram Spark, Smashwords, D2D. Each of these will distribute your book to multiple platforms, like those listed above.
Categories – a word to broadly describe the book eg ‘Thriller’ or ‘romance’. Used on KDP and Createspace (and no doubt on the various publishing platforms)
Keywords – More detailed words or phrases used to help a reader find the kind of book they’re looking for, can be titles/authors of similar books. Eg ‘Female protagonist’ ‘George Orwell’. When the reader searches for these phrases, your book comes up in the results.
Teasers – short quotes from the book or blurb, with a photo/image background. Used to advertise the book
Blurb – a description of a book’s plot, usually a paragraph or two. Focuses on being catchy, rather than complete.
Synopsis – a more complete explanation of the plot. May or may not include the ending (depends on who is asking). Usually more focused on being clear rather than being catchy.
Video adverts – short videos to promote a book. Often with music, pretty scenery in the background and with quotes or ideas from the book overlaid in text
ARC – author review copy, a copy of the book usually sent out to reviewers/promoters before the book is published.
Blog Tour – a service an author signs up to. The book is sent to various review blogs, who write about it. It is also tweeted about, and plugged on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform.
Author spotlight – Attention paid to one author, often with an interview, review, photos of the author. Used for promotion, usually on a review site.
AMS – Amazon Marketing Services. A paid for promotion. The author chooses ‘keywords’ that will lead to their book being inserted into searches by a reader. The author pays a set amount for ‘click’ (every time someone clicks the link to their book) although this doesn’t guarantee a sale.
KDP Rocket – a program you can use to help you get AMS keywords. Since you need a thousand keywords, this program is invaluable.
Click rates/click-through rates – how many times a link to the author’s book is clicked (but not necessarily bought) on a site or in an email.
Countdowns – a promotion whereby a book is cheaper, or free, for a limited time. Mostly an Amazon thing.
Giveaways – a promotion whereby a select number of people get free books and/or other goodies. An Amazon and Goodreads thing.
Kindlepreneur.com – a very helpful set of videos with information about publishing
Beta readers – people paid or unpaid who read through a book specifically to look for flaws, whether grammatical or structural. Like an amateur editor.
Goodreads – a very informative site. Primarily created for readers, but has become a place for self-published authors to discuss the trials and tribulations of getting their book finished and read.
Anything I’ve missed? Let me know, the more information the better.
And if you found this helpful, then please share or reblog!
As promised, here are some further tales of my adventures into self-publishing, I hope you find them useful. I’m pretty atrocious at self-pubbing, I’ve made mistake after mistake, and the different programs and websites I use all clash and crash and do totally nonsense things. I don’t know if that’s just me being hopeless, or it’s a corporate plot, but either way, I’ll list a few of the problems that I’ve had, with solutions that I’ve come up with.
You don’t need them. If you publish a paperback you can get an automatic ISBN generated by Createspace. Ebooks don’t need them at all. And ISBN’s aren’t cheap. I paid £160 for ten (I thought you needed at least two, one for ebook and one for paperback) and ten is cheaper than two. They say you absolutely can’t get a refund, but I hadn’t assigned them, so they refunded me anyway which was much appreciated.
Don’t trust Word. Don’t trust Mobi. Don’t trust Createspace. Don’t trust KDP. Each program will take your careful and consistent formatting and throw it up in the air, letting it fall randomly. Problems I had – pages disappearing (although they reappeared again). Page breaks working in only some formats (in one, the dedication became the first paragraph in the story.) Page numbers being at one height on some pages, then at a totally different height on others (fixed this by making the left and right pages the same). Often I would find that a problem with formatting only occurred on some uploads, so it was possible to just reupload and the issues would go away.
Doing everything the way the programs requested didn’t help at all. You need to check through the book each time, all programs do have facilities for doing this, they are mostly slow, but essential. Once the book is published, download it and CHECK IT AGAIN. TRUST NO ONE.
I set my price in the UK at 99p and my price in the US at 99c. I then went to Amazon.com via their link to check the page and found my book to be at $1.31. Once I’d checked I’d completed everything right, I wrote to Amazon. They wrote a vague confusing email telling me that the extra money was tax. Which: a. Seemed like a lot of tax and b. Didn’t help me put the book at the right price. After checking on Goodreads to see if anyone had the same problem (Goodreads is excellent for solutions like this) I learned that the price probably IS 99c in the US, but costs more when seen from the UK. Then Amazon wrote me another vague confusing email that sort of confirmed this.
Searching the title
When I first put the book up, I could only find it via a direct link. If I searched the title it insisted that I had misspelled ‘Paddling Doomsday’ (wtf? That is a scary paddling pool) and that there was no such thing. I thought it would take a few days to right itself. It still wasn’t showing up after a week, so I wrote to KDP. I got a nice clear email saying they didn’t know what the problem was, but would have it fixed in ten days. When I checked again the next day, the title could be found. So I guess they fixed it.
I had a promotion running from the 7th of June. When I was first planning this, I figured I’d publish the book on the 5th, just to allow for any problems to show up, so I could fix them before the promo started. DON’T DO THIS, A FEW DAYS IS NOT ENOUGH TIME. In the end, I didn’t do this, luckily I published about a week before. Firstly it takes up to 72 hours for an ebook to be available. Then there are all the problems I’ve described above, that each take up to 72 hours to change. The paperback version takes much longer, I think it was another week before that was up, but I reckon that’s ok. The paperback is maybe for people who have an interest in your book specifically.
Uploading the paperback from Createspace to KDP
Ebooks are created in KDP, and paperbacks can be KDP or Createspace. I used Createspace. Once the book was ready, I set the price of the paperback (the minimum is $9.99 wtf? That seems awfully high), then pressed the button to send the book to KDP (you can create a paperback in KDP, but rumour has it, it doesn’t do a great job with paperback formatting). It came up with a little box saying Your book is uploading to KDP and will be ready in a few moments. It said that for a few hours, then I left it running over night, it still said that. I wrote YET ANOTHER message to KDP and they replied asking for a screenshot of the uploading page (although I told them exactly what it said, and it’s their screen, they must know what it looks like). I gave up trying. Anyway, having looked, the paperback is available online, which is the main thing.
Any problems and/or solutions of your own, I’d love to hear them 🙂
The printer was flashing a blue light, which made a change from the red light it usually flashed when refusing to work. However, it was still refusing to work. Deirdre looked around for assistance. But in the open-plan office, sixteen people were suddenly talking on the phone or staring at their computers to avoid having to face the fiendish machinations of the printer. Deirdre sighed to herself, and went through the usual routine to get a printout. She pressed each button in turn, turned it off and slapped the top twice. Then she unplugged it, slapped it again, plugged it back in and turned it on. What she refused to do was think happy thoughts while she did this, despite the written instructions on the wall telling her to do so. Deirdre found that small, unobserved rebellions caused less trouble.
The printer had arrived three months ago. Deirdre’s boss’s boss, Dove, marched into the office in his leather trousers, a printer-laden minion struggling behind him. Dove had stated this was the absolute latest in artificially intelligent technology. This printer would eliminate the need for excuses. This printer would not simply print when they pressed a button, but would anticipate, adapt and evolve to create the perfect printing experience.
‘In time,’ Dove had said, swaying on his hips, face shiny with the excitement of his own importance. ‘In time you’ll see this as the most vital member of our little team.’ The reality was that the printer simply would not print when they pressed a button; it took a good twenty minutes of cajoling, resetting and violence. Whenever Sarah, Deirdre’s boss, tried to persuade Dove the printer needed fixing, his argument was,
‘It’s a highly sophisticated machine, Sarah, it requires highly sophisticated usership. You need to take a step into the technology of tomorrow. I’ll book you onto a seminar.’ Seminars were how Dove battered dissent out of his employees, their will broken by tedium; trodden into submission by PowerPoint presentations and flipcharts.
‘But it doesn’t work,’ Sarah had persisted.
‘It knows you’re complaining about it. Try asking it nicely while thinking happy thoughts. Negativity is the enemy of success!’
Deirdre’s office was at Stronk and Lowry, the backwater branch of a corporate advertising agency, and happy thoughts weren’t easy to come by. However, Deirdre’s colleagues all tried, and then blamed themselves when the ink refused to flow.
‘I think I’m thinking happy thoughts, but what do happy thoughts, you know, feel like?’ said John, a creative, his quirky hat perched to hide his balding head. Deirdre didn’t have an answer and shrugged.
When Deirdre had discussed the printer with Henry, her erstwhile boyfriend, he was convinced artificial intelligence hadn’t been invented yet.
‘And definitely not artificial sulking, why would they bother?’
‘What about psychic artificial intelligence that senses negative thoughts?’ Deirdre had asked, and Henry gave her a look. Together they Googled the make of printer and discovered it was a perfectly normal, cheap printer that happened to not work very well. Erstwhile Henry found this incredibly funny and had fallen off the sofa with laughter. Office insanity had been bearable when she could use it to make Henry laugh. Now there was no one to laugh with, and Deirdre kept her head low and pretended that foolish things were a natural part of working life. She let her inner mockery wither.
Wherever possible, workers in the office did their work-printing at home and brought it in the next day, meaning printing costs at Stronk and Lowry had dramatically decreased. This was seen as a win by management and the one-printer-system spread throughout the branches.
Deirdre gave the machine a kick, it whirred indignantly and then deposited the letter she was printing at a diagonal. She shrugged, that would have to do. Mission accomplished, she got herself a chocolate Hobnob. They had been her dad’s favorites, and she sucked on it as he would have done. As she passed, she picked a few cigarette butts out of the peace plant growing on the window sill of the kitchen, and returned to Sarah’s office to chop the letter straight.
It’s a psychological drama about a woman who escapes her life to join a cult.
You don’t know how significant you are. We need you.
No matter where she is, Deirdre feels out of place. So when a cult known as the Center contacts her, wanting her join up, she’s intrigued. They say a terrible war is coming, humanity is in danger and without explaining why, say she’s needed for the fight. Suddenly the chance to be spectacular is within her grasp. With the charismatic Myra as the cult leader, and talk of prophecies and psychic abilities, Deirdre is soon seduced and ditches her humdrum life to join up.
Once inside, her understanding of the world shifts. She learns the truth about the elite, a secret organisation that has meddled with humanity since the beginning of time. The elite use entertainment and the media as a constant distraction to stop people from reaching their true potential. To free themselves of this conditioning, the followers must give up ‘excessive’ food and sleep. They also carry out increasingly bizarre rituals under the critical eye of the Captain, a minor leader of the new followers. He seems to take pleasure from turning them against one another.
Tensions increase. The followers gain odd new abilities, but bullying and hysteria also grow. Meanwhile Myra’s prophecies become increasingly extreme. As paranoia intensifies, Deirdre questions where the belief ends and delusion begins.
It’s now free on Kindle Unlimited. To buy it’s 99p, 99c or equivalent.