A gift

Deep down in my secret self I wanted my books, or someone else at least, to sell


One of the “classrooms” at Arte Umbria

themselves. Like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, I love to sink, undisturbed, into the depths of my work in progress. I do not like to talk about or sell myself or my books.


My first book, A Life Less Lost, came out in paperback. I was just beginning to give successful talks without having to lie in a darkened room for hours afterwards, when my second book, Once Removed, came out as an ebook. Being slow to grasp a whole new set of promotional skills, impacted on sales and self-confidence. Several false starts on the next book left me paralysed by doubt in my ability to write. And why would I want to, if it meant I had to face the marketing challenges that came with completion?


Mealtimes on the terrace

I tried to fill the void with other things but the ache wouldn’t stop howling. Then as a very special birthday present (for one of those with a zero in it) I was given the chance of a writing holiday in Italy! WOW, I know, I couldn’t believe it.

Arte Umbria, about half an hour from Perugia, up in the hills provided an exquisite venue, Sue Moorcroft provided the tuition and the other members of the course gave endless encouragement and fun. The result? I’m writing again! Full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. Watch this space…


Thank you everyone!


Paranormal anyone?

I asked Shani Struthers, fellow Crooked Cat author, what drew her to her favourite genre and this is what she said ~

Shani PicFor as long as I can remember the paranormal has fascinated me. Even as a child I preferred darker stories and devoured Ruth Manning-Saunders’ twisted fairytales. I also had a strong stomach for horror films and loved nothing more than cosying up with my family to watch a scary movie on the TV – it was seen as something fun in our house! Although I kick-started my writing career in the romance genre, I quickly switched to paranormal as it’s where my heart truly lies. I’ve also had a lot of knowledge passed down to me from my mother who has a life-long intellectual interest in the Occult, so in a way I’ve grown up with the paranormal all around me. It simply makes sense to me that there’s a spiritual world as well as a material one. Regarding fellow paranormal authors, I’m inspired by Shirley Jackson, Susan Hill, Stephen King and Dean Koontz – all writers I aspire to rank alongside one day!

Shani’s latest book, Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street, comes out on Friday, 27th May.YES2-2

“We all have to face our demons at some point.”

Psychic Surveys – specialists in domestic spiritual clearance – have never been busier. Although exhausted, Ruby is pleased. Her track record as well as her down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach inspires faith in the haunted, who willingly call on her high street consultancy when the supernatural takes hold.

But that’s all about to change.

Two cases prove trying: 44 Gilmore Street, home to a particularly violent spirit, and the reincarnation case of Elisha Grey. When Gilmore Street attracts press attention, matters quickly deteriorate. Dubbed the ‘New Enfield’, the ‘Ghost of Gilmore Street’ inflames public imagination, but as Ruby and the team fail repeatedly to evict the entity, faith in them wavers.

Dealing with negative press, the strangeness surrounding Elisha, and a spirit that’s becoming increasingly territorial, Ruby’s at breaking point. So much is pushing her towards the abyss, not least her own past. It seems some demons just won’t let go…

Gilmore multi


I write ghost stories – vampires, werewolves and shape shifters need not apply! Influences include the great Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m also a mum of three children, and live in the funky city of Brighton with them, my husband and four mad cats. I’ve always loved reading and writing but occasionally I venture outdoors on sunny days and walk in the stunning green downs that surround us. Other pastimes include hanging out with friends and just having fun – life’s too short not to.

Buy Links

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo

US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Social Media Links

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: http://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Website: http://www.shanistruthers.com




Did you know you can post reviews on Smashwords?

cover LLLI’ve had my first review on Smashwords, for A Life Less Lost. It’s a doozy, as they say in the States and I’m thrilled. To read it, just click on the link http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/19453

With Amazon apparently set to increase its greediness quotient, perhaps readers and writers should support this alternative. As you’ll see from the range of related articles, Smashwords has launched “Read and Ebook Week” with lots of discounts so now would be a good time to go have a look.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

‘I’ll never buy a Kindle’

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

And I kept saying it for quite a while. I had all the usual complaints.

‘I like to feel a book in my hands, not a piece of plastic.’

‘What about the bookshops and libraries?’

‘It’ll never catch on.’

As a self-publisher with my own publishing company, I realised that it was getting harder and harder to self-publish as the printing costs were increasing and I couldn’t keep up with big firm’s special ‘2 for 1’ offers and low budget books. Something had to give.

‘Make your books as ebooks’, a friend suggested. I looked at her as if she’d suggested a trip to the moon. Eventually I was worn down, after having decided that I’d published my last book. (Weaving Through the Years, 2012).41pgIKxVNML._AA160_

‘You’ll need a Kindle so that you can check them as the text sometimes get corrupted when files are converted to PDF format,’ another friend said.

So I bought one. And the sky didn’t fall down, Chicken Licken.

‘Why don’t you upload all your books to Amazon?’ my nephew Richard suggested. (He’s the technical part of my publishing company; the ‘Ric’ of Linric).

‘How do I do that?’ I asked nervously.

51IS+kK8zUL._AA160_‘I’ll do it,’ he offered. Phew! What a relief. And half an hour later, that’s what he’d done. All eight of them! And no need to change the format either – they all went in Word format.

It was very nice to see them on Amazon, available as downloads, but really, I thought, not much point, as no one will buy them, even though I had some good reviews.

I was wrong. The first and second month I only sold one download each month. So then I forgot about it. I didn’t know how to access my sales reports anyway at that time. But next time the nephew looked for me, I’d sold 16 downloads each month in the third and fourth book. And two of the sales were from America.

No books to be printed and stored in my house.

Pure profit!

Well, apart from Amazon’s cut of course. And I’ve just had notification that Amazon is making first payment this week. Momentous!41a9WbhVKNL._AA160_

So if you are in the same boat as I was, my suggestion is to just go for it! Or have a techy-savvy nephew handy if you can’t do it yourself. You never know ‘til you try?

And my Kindle? Well, it’s a bit dusty. I still don’t like it and prefer a book, except of course, when I go on holiday. Then it gets dusted off and is an important part of my luggage. The only problem I have now is that I want to download my own books on to my Kindle. But it’s ‘not possible at the present time’ according to Kindle Direct Publishing, without paying for them. Pay for my own books? Humph!


If you search for Linda Sawley on Amazon you’ll find paper & ‘e’ versions of all her books.

Fishcake Publications ~ the story

Fishcakes Logo copyI’ll let my guest, Martin Rothery, tell us his story.

The Birth of Fishcake Publications.

It all started when I was made redundant in December 2011 and I thought ‘Oh no, what am I going to do now?’

Firstly, I didn’t panic.

Secondly, I was relieved, as I’d been miserable in that job anyway.

Thirdly, I took stock of my life, looked at my skills and ambitions and made the big decision – I was going to work for myself. But doing what?


A big leap, I know. So how did I come up with this fantastic plan?

Well, I’d been laying the foundations for a few years. I’d started writing in 2008, attending creative writing classes through adult education. I’d attended various workshops over the years to get a feel for all types of writing. I’d joined the Holmfirth Writers’ Group which provided a great support network, and where I was lucky enough to spend some time as treasurer. As a group, we’d also launched two anthologies. This provided some great experience.

But most importantly, I’d written a book that was ready for publishing and so I had something to act as the launch vehicle for my business. However, I found writing was the easy part. Starting a business is scary when you’re unsure what you’re doing. Luckily, I found plenty of free business courses and the most useful ones were run by Her Majesties Revenue & Customs, which was quite handy since these were the people I feared the most.

Cows! Front Cover

So, in February 2012, Fishcake Publications was launched with my first book, COWS!. Initially launched as an eBook, a printed copy soon followed. This has now sold over 110 copies in the UK and the USA, which I’m quite pleased with (although I’m striving to sell more!)

I have also released a book called Nonagenarians in memory of my grandparents and containing poetry written by them. This is currently free on Smashwords, as I wanted to share this with as many people as possible. It was also produced in a small booklet which raised over £140 for the Parkwood Methodist Old Folks Luncheon Club, a cause close to their hearts.

Souls_Of_Darkness_1400 (Cover_b)Fishcake’s latest release was a book called Souls of Darkness and was a collaboration between three authors (me being one of them).  I am currently marketing and promoting this and, hopefully, there will be a printed copy available soon.

At the end of last year, I was also very pleased to launch my own website www.fishcakepublications.com (of which, I am proud to say, I did all the work myself). I now offer my services to the public in general. I am especially keen to help new unpublished writers, as I believe every new writer needs a step up the ladder and if someone’s taken the time to write something, it deserves to be read. I have received a few submissions over the last few months that I’m very excited about, and I hope I will be able to bring to the world in the near future.

After doing all this, my advice to anyone nowadays is, if you believe in your ideas, don’t be afraid to give them a go.

Amazon Kindle links:

Cows! http://www.amazon.co.uk/COWS-ebook/dp/B0075L8DM4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359042480&sr=8-1

Souls of Darkness  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Souls-of-Darkness-ebook/dp/B0088DCG4Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1359042495&sr=1-1

Nonagenarians http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nonagenarians-ebook/dp/B0078MXHQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359043823&sr=8-1

Smashwords links:

Cows! http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/129478

Souls of Darkness http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/168150

Nonagenarians http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/237120

Smashwords ~ Friend to Readers and Writers

Publishing is a very competitive business.


Businesses have to make money in order to pay their staff, rent and other bills. You only have to watch the news to see how many big established businesses, like HMV & Jessops, are failing in these difficult financial times, to realise that the pressure to  make money never lets up.

Busy readers tend to buy authors they know or a quick bargain from the supermarket or a well-publicised ebook from Amazon. Fierce competition to sell books to these readers drives publishing houses to “play safe”. Playing safe makes it extremely difficult for unknown authors or unusual stories to find a place with these companies.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Enter Smashwords. Owner and visionary, Mark Coker has provided free tools and an easy to access platform for self-publishers and independent publishers to get these new writers and fresh stories out into the market.

For readers this is an opportunity to access exciting new books and, because they are inexpensive to produce, at very low prices. Sometimes they’re even free.

Writers are able to generate coupons on their books to provide incentives to readers, free copies for review and other promotional purposes.

And this competition encourages the big houses to keep their prices reasonable. So three cheers for Smashwords!

cover LLLToday I was generating a coupon for my memoir, A Life Less Lost, and thought I’d share it with you all. It’s had great reviews but my favourite bit of feedback came from a friend of my son. She told me, “I couldn’t put it down and was up until 3am reading. At one point I was gripping the book so tightly my knuckles were white. I was thinking please be alright, please be alright, until I stopped and remembered that I knew what was going to happen.”

As a New Year’s treat, I’m offering the coupon to anyone who’d like to download a free copy before the 16th February. If you’d like to know more about the book, please point your cursor over My Books (above) and click on the A Life Less Lost page from the drop down menu.

Promotional price: $0.00  Coupon Code: XY74F   Expires: February 16, 2013

A kitten on speed?

Crooked Cat Publishing is a mere kitten beside the older, bigger and more established publishing houses. But through the tireless work of Steph and Laurence they have now expanded into paperbacks to compliment their ever-growing eBook list.

The “lions” in the industry have much on their side. Size does matter. For example:

  • They print books at a fraction of the cost
  • They can thus afford distribution and retail costs (and these are substantial)
  • They have marketing and promotion teams and strategies
  • They have access to larger media outlets, major TV, radio and print producers for promoting their books and authors
  • They are very selective and have the big names

I’m a reader as well as a writer so I appreciate competitive prices and easy access to my favourite authors. But I think there is a case for supporting the independents.

The problem large companies have is risk aversion. They want safe story lines and saleable names. This means we get lots of books by celebrities and psuedo-celebs and stories with proven marketability, ones that fit neatly into tidy boxes.

There was a time in the 60s and 70s, when cinemas were shutting everywhere and I suspect risk aversion was part of the problem. People tire of same old, same old.

Hollywood was renewed and reborn with the earlier collapse of the studio system, and the works of many new and experimental film-makers (Tim Dirks, AMC Filmsite)

The same thing happened in children’s literature. The first Harry Potter book was rejected by a dozen of publishers before it was taken on and brought reading alive for millions of children around the world.

So I urge readers to take a chance on the independent publishers. Their paperbacks may cost a little more but often their eBooks are cheaper.  Amazon may have its faults but they’ve opened the door for these companies, as well as self-publishers. And if you like one of these indie books, do please tell your friends. Look what word of mouth did for self-published novel, The Shack.

My book, Once Removed, is now available in paperback.

In the USA: http://www.amazon.com/Once-Removed-KB-Walker/dp/1908910283/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348223593&sr=1-2&keywords=Once+Removed

And in the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Once-Removed-KB-Walker/dp/1908910283/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348223668&sr=1-1

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