13 December 2014


The Darkest Hour
by Barbara Erskine

Set in both the present day and the summer of 1940, The Darkest Hour takes the reader on two journeys. One tells the story of Evelyn Lucas, a young war artist during the Battle of Britain, the other of Lucy Standish, a recently widowed art historian in the present day.

With Spitfires taking off from the Westhampnett air field and the Battle of Britain raging in the skies above the Sussex countryside, Evelyn records it all in her paintings.

Seventy years on, Lucy becomes aware of Evelyn and her work when she attempts to put the pieces of her own shattered world back together. Unaware of what has gone before, she finds herself inextricably caught in the tangled web of deception, jealousy and greed surrounding Evelyn’s life as she tries to unravel the mystery.

Full of twists and turns, with a colourful array of strong and wonderful characters, Barbara Erskine has told a fascinating story full of mystery, and cleverly woven around those brave young men who risked their lives in their Spitfires in the skies above Britain.

22 November 2014

How To Prepare To Write Your Book

If you don’t prepare, this might happen:-
After the initial excitement of starting to write your book, as you near the middle it’s become a bit of a slog.  This is because along the way, some of your initial ideas fizzled out, you hit a dead end with one or more of your sub-plots, and now, a third of the way through, you’ve run out of plot. You feel like you’re dangling on a precipice. Below is a deep black hole so, what do you do? You put your unfinished manuscript in a drawer to collect dust.

How can you prepare to write your book:-
  • It’s fairly easy to write the beginning of a story. Similarly, it’s easy to write the end, but the middle, that’s the killer. It’s the place you can find yourself looking into that deep black hole!
  • To make it easier, it helps to think of your story in three acts. The set up, the middle and the conclusion.
First Act
Set up and present your main character’s goal
Establish the conflict
Introduce the characters and their relationships
Establish the setting and sub-plots

If you set up your first act properly, you’ll have enough fuel in the tank to carry you through the second act to the conclusion. To do this:-
  • Make sure that your protagonist has a goal. 
  • Ask yourself what disaster will happen if he doesn’t reach his goal? 
  • What must he do to achieve the goal? 
  • Think about what could stop him from reaching that goal. 
  • Introduce all your characters. If they do not appear in a scene in the first act, invent a way that their name can be mentioned so that your readers know they exist. Give your characters life and a reason to be in your story. 
  • Give your protagonist a worthy antagonist (villain)! 
  • Think of a sub-plot or two that can be running along in the story while your protagonist is striving toward his goal.

Second Act
Complications and crises arise as your main character tries to reach his goal
If it’s a mystery, this is where the sleuthing takes place
Further threats and escalating dangers
Protagonist tries and fails and tries again

The second act is the longest because it’s where your story is played out:-
  • Your protagonist tries to reach his goal but fails when he meets problem after problem, but he carries on. 
  • It's where we see the full measure of the villain. 
  • Where the sub-plots come into play, helping you build that bridge from the first act to the third, over that gaping black hole. Don’t look down!

Third Act
Eliminate theories
Tie up subplots
The crisis when the protagonist finally figures out the truth and confronts the anatagonist.

The third act is where you can give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve reached the far side of the bridge. You’re nearly there! But not quite:-
  • Your protagonist confronts the villain and is successful in reaching his goal. 
  • Sub-plots are tied up successfully. 
  • Make doubly sure that all loose ends are also tied up because if they aren’t, your readers will tell you.

20 October 2014

How To Do A Countdown Deal on KDP Select

If you've published your eBook through Kindle Direct Publishing, you have the option to enroll in KDP Select and take advantage of their Countdown Deals.

To create a Countdown Deal:-

  • Go into Kindle Direct Publishing and click on Bookshelf.

FIG 1.

  • When you do so, you will see your published book listed.
  • To the right, click on Manage Benefits.
  • The following window will pop up and you will see the Countdown Deal circled in red below.

  • Click on Create A New Countdown Deal For This Book

FIG 2.

A drop down menu will appear.  One for Amazon.com and the other for Amazon.UK.  This means, of course, that you can do your Deal on both the US and UK Amazon sites.  However, you organise these Deals one at a time.
  • First, click on Amazon.com
FIG 3.

Below is the next window you will see.  Here you will choose what dates you wish to have your Countdown Deal on Amazon.com, and how many increments you wish.  For example, if you choose to have 3 increments, your Deal will start off at 99cents and over the period of days you have chosen, it will go to $1.99, $2.99 and finally back to your full price of $3.99.

FIG 4.

Below you can see that the increments has a drop down mention for your choice.  Please note, however, that when you come to do your Amazon.UK Deal, there is only 1 increment.

FIG 5.

When you have made your increment choice, the following window will appear which gives you a list of the dates of your increments and how many hours each one will be.  If you're happy with your choices, you then press Add Promotion.

FIG 6.

From here, you can go back and choose Amazon.UK from the drop down menu in Fig 3. and repeat the above process.

Once you Countdown Deal is running, you can track sales by going into Promotions as shown below in Fig 7.

FIG 7.
When planning a Countdown Deal, it's wise to organise some advertising to help it along.  A few websites that I can recommend are:-

Kindle Book Review
eReader News Today
Bargain Booksy

It's also important to note that the calendar on these sites fills up fast so make sure you give yourself a bit of lead time so that you can choose the dates that suit you best.

Any question?

16 October 2014

BOOK LAUNCH, October 30th

LANE'S END, the 4th Fitzjohn Mystery.

Pre-Orders available on Amazon at  http://t.co/ZG0AVwaprW

Sydney’s Observatory on a balmy summer evening is the perfect venue for a cocktail party and, it would seem, a murder, for Peter Van Goren’s body is discovered bludgeoned to death in the grounds.  The first question Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn must answer is why Van Goren was present given his name does not appear on the guest list.  The second is what was the subject of Van Goren’s vehement argument with Richard Carmichael, one of the function’s hosts.

Meanwhile, Richard’s son, Ben Carmichael, a photojournalist, returns to Sydney from an overseas assignment to find his fiancĂ©e, Emma Phillips, has gone missing.  Although unavoidably dragged into the police investigation, Ben goes in search of her.  In so doing, he is drawn to Lane’s End, the abandoned family estate where the very atmosphere awakens disturbing memories.

Through a maze of twisted stories, Fitzjohn follows a winding path to solve his case, but he is not prepared for the spiralling perplexity his quest creates.

9 October 2014

Tips On Writing A Series Rather Than A Stand-Alone Novel

One of the things you might consider before you embark on writing a book is whether it will be the first in a series or a stand-alone novel.  Of course, this can always be decided upon after you have finished writing your book.  After all, you might have become particularly attached to one of your characters and want to continue your association with him or her.

Benefits of writing a series:-
  • You have a certain number of characters that are already formed and appear in each book.
  • You are able to develop these characters further as you write the series.
  • You become attached to these characters and the best part is, you decide their destiny.
  • You are familiar with your story line.
  • If a reader likes one book in the series, it is likely he/she will want to read others.
Things that you must make sure of when writing a series:-
  • Your repeat characters are consistent throughout the series.  As should your writing style.
  • Your plot must be fresh in each consecutive book.
  • All the facts about your repeat characters lives and what has happened to them in previous books must be kept in mind.
One thing to keep in mind before you make your decision:-
  • A series can take years to write, so it’s essential that you like your repeat characters.
Benefits for your readers:-
  • If your reader enjoyed the first book in the series, there are others that follow on.
  • The reader gets to know the main characters and looks forward to reading what happens next in their lives.
  • The reader knows that the protagonist will succeed.
  • Have you ever got to the end of a book and wished there was more.  As you neared the end your reading slowed because you didn’t want the story to end.  Well, with a series, the reader can look forward to more books.
Do you have any tips to add?

30 September 2014

6 Questions To Answer Before You Start To Write That Book

Why write an outline?  Wouldn’t it be easier to just start writing and see where your imagination takes you?  After all, you’ve had this idea swimming around in your head for a long time and you’re eager to get started.  However, before you do, can you answer these 6 questions?:-

1.      Who is your main character?
2.      What is your main character’s goal?
3.      What is stopping your main character from achieving that goal?
4.      What time and place is your story set?
5.      What genre is your story?  Mystery, Romance, Comedy, Thriller etc.
6.      Are you going to have one viewpoint character or more than one?

Whether you plan to be an outliner or write by the seat of your pants, having answers to the above questions is the place to start.

What are the benefits of making an outline?
·         An outline is a roadmap for you to follow.  This doesn’t mean it can’t be flexible.
·         It avoids spending time writing scenes that do not further the plot or they come to a dead-end.
·         Enables you to plan what pitfalls your protagonist is to come across.
·         It enables you to set up the end of your story.  In turn, you can write scenes that lead to this end.
·         Sub-plots can be entwined throughout the story along with a few red herrings.
·         Lessons the probability that you will have to do a lot of rewriting.

I have been both an Outliner and a Pantser, and have found that having some kind of an outline is good for me.

What is your preference, and why?

18 September 2014


On this 100th anniversary of the Great War (1914-1918), I found myself reading the first book in a trilogy called ThePassing Bells by Phillip Rock. (First publishing in 1978.)

Set in both England and France this story opens during the summer of 1914 when the rumblings of the war to come is evident.  Nevertheless, Anthony Greville, 9th Earl of Stanmore and his family continue on with their privileged lives at Abingdon Pryor.  Alexandra Greville is embarking on her debutante season and her brother Charles is hopelessly in love with Lydia Foxe, the untitled daughter of an influential businessman.  Martin Rilke, a cousin, arrives from America with plans to spend the summer touring England.  Little do they know that the very fabric of their lives is about to change forever helped along when many of their servants leave to serve at the front.

This is a moving story with fictional characters interwoven with historical personages and events.  The reader is taken from the English manor house into the trenches in France to witness the depredation and misery endured by those who fought.  So many brave young men who went “over the top” perhaps to die minutes later, mowed down by machine gun fire as they ran toward the enemy through the mud encrusted landscape.  Over 16 million died - 20 million were wounded.  A whole generation lost.

Phillip Rock (1927-2004) was born in Hollywood, California.  He spent his younger years in England with his family until the blitz of 1940.  His adult years were spent in Los Angles.

Other books in this trilogy:-  Circles of Time and A Future Arrived.

14 August 2014


by Tony Riches

If you are wanting to build an author platform but don’t know where to start, this book by Tony Riches will set you on the right path.  It features each of the major media platforms including Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and YouTube with 10 top tips for using each.  Also included are chapters on how to develop your blog, how to set up your Amazon author page as well as information on free book promotion sites.

All in all, I’d say it’s a must for your writer’s bookshelf!

Tony Riches lives in Pembrokeshire, UK.  A prolific writer, he has authored a number of books besides How To Build Your Online Author Platform.  These include Warwick:The Man behind The War of the Roses and Atlantis-The Final Space Shuttle Mission.  You can view these titles and more on Tony's Amazon author page at:-  http://www.amazon.com/Tony-Riches/e/B006UZWOXA