Monday, March 9, 2020

Building a Review Crew!

Want the chance to read my stuff before it hits Amazon? Read on.

One of the first things I want to do in 2020 is build up a solid Review Crew. It's so important to get reviews on new books as soon as they launch. Heck, you probably weigh reviews highly when making a decision whether to try a new author or rely on an old favorite - I know I do.

Apart from helping to persuade people to give a new writer a shot, reviews help drive early sales which, in turn, means that Amazon takes notice and starts to market on my behalf. And no-one markets books better than Amazon. In order to make that happen I need to find a small team of Advance Readers.

It's pretty simple and is, I hope, lots of fun. It involves them being sent a copy of whatever book I've just finished and then, when it is published, firing up a quick and honest review. Simple as that. I've had early readers in the past who picked up errors that I was then able to correct and others have even suggested changes to the plot that I incorporated.

Aside from getting a copy of the book before anyone else, I try and say thanks with some nice bonuses. In some circumstances I'll offer signed print editions and there will, soon, be free audiobooks for some of my readers. I want to keep the team relatively small, probably only twenty readers to start with.

If you would like to get involved, please let me know. You can email me at (you'll need to be signed up for the newsletter to join the team, there are links in the sidebar of this very blog!) or even by messaging me on any of my social media accounts.

Right now, to get the Review Crew off to a good start, I'm offering a free digital copy of each of my already available Gavin English Thrillers to everyone who joins by March 23rd (so, make sure to reach out before then if you want those freebies!).

Oh! Oh! And also...

I'm thrilled to announce that I've found a fantastic narrator, Neil Holmes, and To the Bone (to be followed shortly after by the rest of the series) should be available on Audible later this month. I'll be sure to let you all know when that happens, and I'm hoping to have some free copies to give away the day it launches.

Well that's it for now. Thanks for reading!


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Full Throttle

The title of this post has more than one meaning today. First, I want to say that I have been writing my ass off lately and it feels amazing! I've been in a slump for so long, bogged down by all the things that go along with writing (marketing is the big one that kills me-I'm learning, though, and not going to let it stop my momentum again) until I lost the will to do thing that I love so much.

I couldn't see the forest for the trees, so I stopped looking. That was the wrong decision. I feel like I've missed so many opportunities over the last few years because I let the passion I have for the work fall away. Not any more. I'm back at it, murdering the empty page one line at a time. Full throttle.

I'll talk about the stuff I'm working on when I get closer to having finished products. There will be several more Gavin English Thrillers rolling out over the next year, as well as some secret, fun stuff I can't wait to share with everyone.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

And now let's get to the second meaning.  Joe Hill, one of my top five authors of all-time, dropped his second collection of short stories a week or so back, titled: Full Throttle. His first collection, 20th Century Ghosts, re-ignited my love of short stories almost ten years ago, and I've been waiting for a follow up since then. I listened to both books in audio book format, although 20th Century Ghosts was a bunch of CDs I borrowed from the library, and I got Full Throttle as a download from Audible. Here's the blurb:

In this masterful collection of short fiction, Joe Hill dissects timeless human struggles in 13 relentless tales of supernatural suspense, including "In The Tall Grass", one of two stories cowritten with Stephen King, basis for the terrifying feature film from Netflix.
A little door that opens to a world of fairy-tale wonders becomes the blood-drenched stomping ground for a gang of hunters in "Faun". A grief-stricken librarian climbs behind the wheel of an antique bookmobile to deliver fresh reads to the dead in "Late Returns". In "By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain", two young friends stumble on the corpse of a plesiosaur at the water's edge, a discovery that forces them to confront the inescapable truth of their own mortality...and other horrors that lurk in the water's shivery depths. And tension shimmers in the sweltering heat of the Nevada desert as a faceless trucker finds himself caught in a sinister dance with a tribe of motorcycle outlaws in "Throttle", cowritten with Stephen King.
Featuring two previously unpublished stories and a brace of shocking chillers, Full Throttle is a darkly imagined odyssey through the complexities of the human psyche. Hypnotic and disquieting, it mines our tormented secrets, hidden vulnerabilities, and basest fears and demonstrates this exceptional talent at his very best.
If you follow any of my social media accounts, then you'll already know that I absolutely loved this collection. Joe Hill's writing is heart-breaking and vivid and terribly honest. The stories range from tragic to terrifying. Parts of Late Returns are so sad, I almost wanted to stop listening, but other parts are filled with hope and love, so I never did. Faun brought me right back to my childhood, when I read the Narnia books religiously, and then reminded me that being an adult sometimes means ruining beautiful things for selfish reasons. My favorite story in the collection may have been Mums. It's filled with troubling imagery and even more troubling characters.

I can't say enough about Full Throttle. Go read it, you can thank me later. I also won't hesitate to say that if you like audio books, the voiceover cast is amazing. Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton, Zachary Quinto, and even Joe Hill himself tell these stories passionately and carry you through the good and bad without a hitch. Also, if you like audio books and have never tried Audible, you can get two free books if you start your free trial right now.

And if you haven't read 20th Century Ghosts, or really anything from Joe Hill, I recommend you change that right away. I got his book, Heart-Shaped Box, from a blogger giveaway years ago, and have been in love with his writing ever since.

Okay, I need to get back to work. Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Back on the Wagon

This has been a fantastic week for me. I'm choosing to ignore the snow that showed up before Halloween and, of course, all the insanity that is happening in the world right now. Personally, the week has been awesome.

I've been meeting my word count goals all week, I believe for the first time since 2016. It feels so good to be writing again. My books also have steady sales and KU page reads rolling in (which means rather than buying a cup of coffee with my book money, I'm now able to buy a couple books, or even go grocery shopping with it!) which at some points over the last decade I kind of thought might never happen.

I've also been reading some good books lately, which is always a mood saver for me.

I listened to Stephen King's The Institute in audiobook format on my commute to and from work over the last couple of weeks. It's no surprise that I loved this book. King has been one of my absolute favorites since I was rolling my awkward ass through puberty, and he still knows how to tell a story that wrings emotions out of you.  Anger, fear, sadness, joy... The Institute hits all the buttons.  Here's the blurb:

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis' parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there's no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents - telekinesis and telepathy - who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and 10-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, "like the roach motel," Kalisha says. "You check in, but you don't check out."
In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don't, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from The Institute.
As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of ItThe Institute is Stephen King's gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don't always win.

If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to give it a shot. If you have read it, please let me know what you thought!

Right now, I'm reading through Shot Girl, by J.A. Konrath, and listening to Joe Hill's new collection of short stories, Full Throttle. I'll let you know my thoughts on those next week.

And don't forget about the giveaway!

Ok, well I have hot coffee to get me through this cold, cold Autumn morning, and lots of writing to do. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Re-Launch, Free Book, and a Monthly Giveaway

Hey all! This morning I am happy to say that I am finally re-launching the blog and the newsletter, as well as re-branding the Gavin English Thriller series with all new covers by Carl Graves at Extended Imagery.  Although I won't be changing the covers on Amazon until book three, For the Just, is released at the end of November, I wanted to share the new cover for To the Bone with my blog and newsletter subscribers.  Please let me know what you think!

I am also running $0.99 Amazon promotions on books one and two, To the Bone and On the Edge, this week, as well as giving away the short story I co-wrote with J.A. Konrath, Babysitting Money, for free. If you haven't read any of the series, right now is the perfect time to give it a shot! And if you have, I hope you'll take this opportunity to get the books you're missing. If you do read, or have read, any of my books, I'd love it if you'd leave an honest review on Amazon. Reviews help more readers find my books, and that is a huge help for indie authors like myself.

In addition to re-launching the newsletter and blog, I've also re-launched the website. I think it's sleek and easy to use, please check it out at and let me know what you think.

As I prepare to launch book three, I am also offering a $25 Amazon Gift Card giveaway to my blog and newsletter subscribers. Please join for you chance to win, and share if you feel like being extra nice.

Thank you so much for reading! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Let's talk about burnout.

I'm not honestly sure I know how to go about starting a blog post anymore.  It's been forever.  I've tried to put up new posts dozens of times over the last year, and it always winds up with me shutting it down because, "Who gives a damn what I have to say about anything?"

Maybe someone.  Maybe not.  But here I am anyhow.  And if you're here with me, then that's pretty cool.

I haven't been totally inactive over the last year.  I mean, social media-wise, yeah I've been gone.  Writing-wise, though, not quite as bad.  I've put some words on paper, I've come up with new ideas to be excited about, and I've even been able to get over the hump of my long (looooooooonnnnnggggg) case of burnout.  And that's what it was/is.  I got burnt way the hell out.  Burnt out on social media.  Burnt out on promoting my stuff.  Burnt out on the entire business of being an author.

There's no one reason.  I just... ugh, I just couldn't do it one day.  I knew that if I wanted people to read my stuff, I needed to tell them about it, but my fingers wouldn't let me hit publish on the blog here.  They wouldn't let me tweet about promotions, write about my process, or even send out an update to my tiny mailing list (which you can sign up for RIGHT HERE btw).

I simply lost the will to do anything other than write.  Hell, days where any real writing got done were few and far between, if I'm being honest.  When they came, though, it was like being able to breathe clean air again (which was also a hard thing to do in my neck-o-the-woods over the last couple months).  Being away from all the hubbub of social media and self-advertising, marketing tools and email-list-building seminars, well it's really given me a chance to fall back in love with the work I live for.

It's also given me time to realize that I need to pace myself.  Take a breath once in awhile.  I can't do everything at once, and that's OK.

Have you ever been burnt way the hell out?  How'd you deal with it?  Did you deal with it?

So, I'm starting slow.  I'm building a realistic schedule.  I'll probably post to this blog once every other week.  Maybe more, maybe less.  I just know I'm not letting it go any time soon.

Same goes for the mailing list.  I'm going to use all the tools I've found for building and working the mailing list, but I'm not going to try and do it all overnight.  It's got to be organic.  I'll do some giveaways here and there, I'll let folks know about stuff I've got coming out or when my books are on sale or free (Which happens to be the case for To The Bone right now, so go get a copy if you don't already have one!) and I'll use it in a way that doesn't make it feel like a chore for me.  I've got enough chores.

And then there's Inkshares, where I still have Clockwork Charlie listed as an active project, but have not touched in maybe a year.  I've touched the book, just not the campaign over there.  I need to get back to it, Clockwork Charlie is the largest and most in-depth writing project I've ever taken on, and I'm still so excited to see where it goes.  And Inkshares is still an exciting prospect to me, so I'll need to carve out a piece of time for that as well.

See how these little chunks of time start to grow?  I need to be better at managing my time than I have been in the past.

How do you do it?

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Murder at the Veterans' Club" -Chrisopher Huang

Hey everyone, Ken here.  Starting today and carrying on for... well until it stops, I'll be inviting authors from Inkshares to come by the blog on Mondays and share a bit about themselves and the work they are promoting on the site.  Please take a look, leave a comment, and make sure to follow the links and find out more!

My name is Christopher Huang. I used to be an architectural technician--back in the days of hand-draughting, I'd be a "draughtsman"--until about October last year. Rather than look for other work in the same field, I decided to take a few years off to pursue the dream of full-time writing.
I enjoy mysteries, and I enjoy puzzle games. I think mysteries are the most gamelike of the literary genres, and the closest sort of game they come to is the puzzle game. It's all about following the clues as they drop in the text, and trying to reason out the solution before the detective lays it all out in the final chapter. Funnily enough, it's also a game where the player (or reader) never minds "losing", because the explication of the puzzle is often quite marvelous in its own right.
That's the sort of thing I was going for when I wrote "Murder at the Veterans' Club". Of course I wrote a mystery, and of course I went with the old-school "puzzle/game" concept envisioned by the mystery writers of the 1920s and 1930s ... and of course I set it in that same era. Not that I had to, but it seemed to make sense.
"Murder at the Veterans' Club" is set in 1924 England, at a gentlemen's club for war veterans. Quite aside from the puzzle aspect, one thing I did notice about the era was that it comes hard on the heels of the first World War and sits right in the middle of the aftermath. I don't know if very many mysteries really focus on the significance. PTSD--what they called "shell shock" or "war neuroses"--wasn't very well understood. And when most of your cast has been in the trenches, it's almost a given that they will be affected, some more severely than others.
I guess, in a sense, I'm gambling my life on this book. I know I can't expect to hit Rowling levels of success--that's sort of like winning the lottery with a ticket you found after being hit by lightning--but it would be a start towards building up a modest future. I intend to eventually produce a mystery novel series, and maybe I'll break even then; but for that to happen, I need to take a first step. That's this novel: "Murder at the Veterans' Club".

You can find out more about Christopher and "Murder at the Veteran's Club" by following This Link.  I hope you will, I promise it will be worth your time!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

WTF is Inkshares?!?

Wow.  Yeah.  I still suck at blogging with any kind of schedule.  Let's gloss over that and move on, shall we?

Yes, yes we shall.

If you clicked my blog link, you may just be here to find out, "Just exactly WTF is Inkshares?"  You've read about it online, or seen it mentioned on Twitter, or even heard about it on some podcast or another.  Or, maybe you've never heard about it, and you just happen to read my blog (if so, you are obviously intelligent, beautiful, suave, and I bet you smell fantastic).  Whatever the case, I'll do my best to shed some light on the Inkshares of it all.

It might be best if we start by thinking of Inkshares as a crowdfunding platform (i.e. things like Kickstarter and Go Fund Me) because there are certainly some of those same dynamics built-in (also, the logo... "Crowdfunded Publishing" might be a hint).  However, in joining the site and taking part in the community there, I've found out that it is a lot more than that.

Inkshares is a legitimate publishing company, with full editing and book formatting teams, traditional and online marketing, and distribution to both independent and major book-sellers all over the world.  However, Inkshares is not a traditional publishing company.  They don't force authors into eternally binding contracts or make them sign non-compete agreements.  They do offer fair royalty terms to their authors.

From the Inkshares website: "You'll make 50% of gross revenue for each printed book we sell, and 70% for each ebook."

And for some people, the biggest reason to check out Inkshares might just be this: Inkshares let's readers be the gatekeepers.  That means that people like you and I get to decide what becomes a published book.  If you find an idea or draft that you like, you can help to make sure it gets published.  And that's where the "crowdfunding" part comes in.  Inkshares gives authors a chunk of time (it seems to usually sit around ninety days, though I've seen some go for much longer, and others reach their publishing goals early) in which they can market and share their ideas and drafts to the world and make the case to get pre-orders on their book.

If they reach their pre-order goals, then... BAM! They can be published by Inkshares.

Can be.

If they so choose.

There's a lot of info out there, I'm not going to keep trying to explain it all in a single blog.  But I urge you to check it out for yourself, ask questions in the forums, reach out to Inkshares staff.  It's a pretty awesome place for authors and readers alike, and I am absolutely in love with the community there.  People support each other in their funding campaigns, offer editorial critiques, help spread the word about each other's projects... and generally it's just a bunch of people who love books, reaching out to other people who love books.

Here's a link so you can find out more about Inkshares. I highly recommend you click it.

And since I'm giving you links to click, I actually have a book up on Inkshares right now.  It's called Clockwork Charlie (if you've followed the blog for very long, you've certainly heard of it before) and I'd love if you'd check it out.  Clockwork Charlie Link  It's not in the pre-ordering stage yet, but you can read some excerpts and offer your thoughts or criticisms on my project page.

Once you join the site, find me and let me know you're there.  It's a pretty amazing place, filled with great people, and you won't be sorry you checked it out.