A bit of a rammie…

Voices in Ma Heid is FREE to download tomorrow 31st May  (well, I know some people are too tight to pay 79p for something they don’t  want/won’t read and isn’t the talk of the watercooler) But for the rest of you – here’s the rationale.

Voices in Ma Heid was the short story collection I never expected anyone to want – even for free.  But if you go to the Indieebookreview site tomorrow (or amazon today) you’ll find reviews from people who didn’t only download it (some of them even paid) but actually grappled with the Scots dialect it’s written in (and only one of them a native Scot) and gave it the thumbs up.

And in honour of this amazing result – and the milestone of the 50th post on the Indie Ebook review site (which turns out to have been one of my better ideas) which I  first thought about at the turn of the year, started on 21st Feb (in accordance with my love of pallindromes 21.02. 20.12  (symmetrical pallindromes are a speciality for me!) and has now been running (my life) for just over 3 months.

Everyone has their views on the Brave New World that is epublishing. It’s a revolution. It’s OUR revolution. There are opportunities for all. And there are dangers for all.  But most of all there’s debate for and by all.  For me it’s proving an exciting journey and my life has been totally transformed over the last six months. For the better.  Thanks to the people I’ve virtually met and the things I’ve virtually achieved.  You know on the blogger sites where they ask you to type things in to prove you’re not a robot – I have a suspicion I’ve just become a cyborg. And I think I’m quite happy with that.

So please. Take my FREE gift of the VOICES IN MA HEID  while they are free.  And prepare yourself for the next FREE giveaways.

A relaunched THE THREADS OF TIME will be FREE on 4th June and there’s a whole series of little ebooks coming out FREE for Learning Disability Week (18th-24th June) So look out for them. Check back here for more info.

And if you do feel so inclined to help me keep the wolf away from my particular door you can BUY my books in real form from http://www.hoampresst.co.uk  or in virtual form from Amazon.  It really is that simple.

from winter to white nights…

So. What’s new? It’s mental health awareness week. I wasn’t aware of this until a range of unrelated things led me to google mental health week (which is in October) I’m lucky in that I’ve never personally had to deal with extreme mental health issues – unlucky in that while remaining mentally ‘strong’ a certain toll has been taken on me physically – and my condition is, I believe, quite a mimic of depression – I describe it as  a ‘physical’ depression – when active, an extreme lethargy caused by physiological things ( a compromised immune system leading to inflammation and bleeding) so that even if I’m in the happiest of moods my body tells me otherwise. Thus I have quite a lot of sympathy for people who experience what I’d call ‘real’ depression.

I fell into working with people labelled with mental ‘illness’  quite by chance but over the years, I became amazed, then interested at just how many of our symptoms were in fact similar. And convinced that diet has a lot to do with it (and stress of course, there’s always stress to factor in) And most importantly developed a belief which is working it’s way into a theory about the role of creativity in maintaining mental balance.

But it also has made me realise a lot of things, foremost amongst them how unfair it is for the stigma of mental ill health to be so much worse than that of physical ill health. I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a kind of stigma attached to my ‘condition’ (Ulcerative Colitis) because there is – but it’s mainly because people don’t like talking about ‘bottoms’.   Even less do they like talking about the mind it seems and fear and ignorance keep stigma to the fore. So I feel it incumbant on me to ‘speak out’ for mental health issues – be a mental health advocate whenever I can.  Today’s the day.

As I say, I’ve worked with and been friends with people diagnosed or ‘suffering’ from mental health problems.  I’ve got family members who I know have had undiagnosed mental health problems for years.  The 1 in 4 statistic is conservative in my opinion. We are all on a spectrum – but the focus for me definitely comes down on the side of looking at how to look after our mental health, not how to classify or label mental ‘illnesses’

That’s by way of a  long introduction into my work of this week, culminating in a blog post on the indieebook review site.    I’m beginning to see (or at least to hope) that in this brave new world of epublishing there IS scope for actually raising awareness, finding like minded people and generally ‘stirring things up.’   So. This week, following some conversations with folk who were ‘feeling the stress’ in their lives and reading three ebooks on subjects relating to mental health issues: Thank you Stu Ayris and Sherry Ashworth,  I got my arse in gear to compile an ‘awareness’ blog.   And start planning for something bigger and better in October.

All this has been hampered only by my commitment to finally getting The Threads of Time ready for ebook publication with FEWER mistakes than in former incarnations. Going back to a book which, while published 9 years ago was in fact written 16 years ago and I guess I haven’t read in over 7 years, is both interesting and challenging.  Despite the mistakes which I KNOW I wouldn’t make now (but not all of which have been resolved, or I would have re-created it instead of  ‘conserved’ it – and since its subject is archaeology I should be most aware of the differences there!) the story still gripped me and I found more depth to the writing than I remembered.  (Maybe I’m a more enlightened reader now. Maybe I was a better writer then than I give myself credit for) It was, after all, a first novel. By a screenwriter.  We do things (especially punctuation, differently) I also realised it deals quite strongly with issues of the mental health of the main characters!  Paul, after all, may be having a nervous breakdown. It’s one explanation for the events he becomes embroiled in. And as for Diane…. well… jury’s out on her mental state.  I hadn’t remembered, and hadn’t considered the novel as having anything to say about mental health – I wrote it when my experiences of ‘mental health issues’ were limited and unconscious. It was only after I ‘studied’ mental health for an OU diploma, that I realised that close family members had actually been suffering (and I believe they were suffering) from mental health problems for a long, long time.  Too long for me to do anything about it.  Maybe we all have some level of mental health problem. Maybe we all need to be more aware of that and look more closely at how we can reduce mental stress on those we know and love.

Time for reflection has been tempered this week with the fact that it’s changed from being WINTER and I mean winter, to WHITE NIGHTS in one short jump.  I don’t like the dark.  It’s not a fear, not a psychosis, I just don’t actually like it when it’s dark. I don’t like going out in it and I don’t like it. I don’t mind going out looking at the stars before bedtime, but generally speaking, I don’t like the dark. Where I live in the depths of winter its dark from 4pm till 9am. That might make one sad, stressed or generally depressed right? Not me. I just make sure I live my life inside during the dark months. Writing mainly.  And reminding myself that the pay off will come. And the pay off has come. As it does every year.   When I was a teenager I was desperate to go to Leningrad (as it was then) to experience the ‘white nights’  I never went.  I don’t travel now and post communist Russia holds little appeal to me.  If I went to St Petersburg I’d want to go in the 19th century, and that’s not possible right?   However, where I live now (North East Scotland) is actually on the same latitude (or is it longitude?) as Leningrad/St Petersburg and guess what – we get WHITE NIGHTS TOO.  Here we are at the end of May and it’s light from 4am till 11.30pm. SERIOUSLY LIGHT Like you can read a book outside light (or you could if it was ever warm enough to be out that time of night!)  In a months time we’ll be lucky to get 2 hours of dark some time between midnight and three.  I love it.  The plants love it too. We have a short growing season but this week the light and the sun has got everything close to back on schedule after the prolonged winter.   Mental health GOOD.

But lots of outside work to be done and shifting from a writing most of the day schedule to a ‘doing things outside’ most of the day schedule is always a bit of a frenetic thing.  The job that has been hanging on for quite a while is painting and then erecting the SWING SEAT into the ‘Garden of Supreme Harmony’ which is far from Supreme and/or Harmonious at the moment but in another year, or two years or….. well, a work in progress.   However, by the time you read this blog I’m hoping that I’m going to  have :raised awareness of mental health issues,  helped fellow writers log up some sales, AND am sitting on the swing seat – with wi fi access  READING a book  either on Kobo or a real live paperback.

Not bad for a weeks work.  I think I’ll take the weekend off.

Letting the dust settle…

Well, who wants to stir up dust? I write to avoid cleaning! And last week generated a lot of dust.

Externally validated success is not what I aim for in life, and it comes rarely enough, but perhaps one should mark it when it does come.  So I’m reflecting on a week that taught me a lot (and not just about success but about the ‘system’ of Amazon rankings)

On 8th May I put Brand Loyalty

up on free promotion. It’s been available as paperback for 18 months now and an ebook for nearly 6 but I couldn’t get arrested with it.  Yet within 6 hours of being offered as a free download it rose to #1 in the Amazon Political Fiction (free) rankings.  And within 24 hours it hit the same dizzy heights in US.

I took it off free after about 36 hours (not wanting to give it away to everyone in the world in one hit) and because I was a) confused and b) experimenting with the ‘system.’   It disappeared in US rankings but it got to about #7 in Bestselling Political Fiction.  It did pretty well in Literary fiction too (though that is a category bloated with THE CLASSICS) And it hung around the Top 20 for the best part of a week.  It’s still in the Top 100.  And a very reasonably priced £1.95  from Amazon 

Using what I’d learned, or a hunch based upon what I thought I’d learned, I made a quickfire decision.  12th May was World Fair Trade Day. I have a number of short dramatic pieces dating from 2007-8 which I thought could be used to promote Fair Trade. That gave me less than 12 hours to find them, format them and publish them… somehow I did it.

My goal was to push them as high up the Amazon free rankings as possible on the 12th.  Guess what. I managed #1 slot both in UK and US.  (stage/theatre and playwriting categories)   They need a bit of  reformatting (it’s the devils work to format playscript for kindle) but they’re there for 77p at the moment and I’m going to try a regular FREE day a month with them to keep Fair Trade in the collective conscious.  I DON’T want you to buy these really, I want you to download them FREE on their free days so that they keep hitting the top slots.

So all in all, not too shabby for a weeks work.  I expect it’s how The Beatles felt. Actually, I don’t expect it’s anything like The Beatles ever felt, but you know what I mean.

What next? Let the dust settle. But DON’T waste time cleaning it away. No. Now I’m back to editing, formatting, reviewing and all the things that allow me to avoid that horrible task.  Though now I think of it, a lot of the updating, tweeting, blogging and facebooking one has to do to promote work into the rankings is nearly as horrible as dusting.  How do I get round that?

World Fair Trade Day

To mark World Fair Trade Day I’ve epublished Five Fair Play Dramas. These were originally written and performed in 2007 and 2008.

They are FREE from around 9am this morning, 12th until approx midnight on 14th (there’s nothing quite certain in the world of Amazon Select) for download from Amazon UK  or Amazon US And spread the word. Tweet, blog, download. It’s the least you can do to help spread the Fair Trade message.

Please take the opportunity to download Free.

These are Five short dramas with a fair-trade flavour. Originally performed in 2007 and 2008 these plays are a humorous take on a serious issue. They are flexible in style and can be adapted to suit many performance situations.

Go Bananas, Like Chocolate? , Wake up and Smell the Coffee, Cottoning On, and A Nice Cup of Tea?  Address the issues of fair trade in some of the everyday products and commodities we buy and consume.

These plays have been published by HoAmPresst  to raise awareness of World Fair Trade Day 2012.

And incredibly… in the 12 hours before it went free it made it to #17 in UK paid listing. Let’s see if we can make it a #1 for Fair Trade on World Fair Trade Day.

In other news, this morning Brand Loyalty reached it’s dizziest height to date in PAID Kindle store. It’s only £1.95 and if you take advantage of Five Fair Play Dramas for free, I’d really appreciate it if you thought about buying Brand Loyalty. There’s loads more information about it in earlier posts. Last week it was #1 political fiction both sides of the Atlantic in the free promotions.  Now you do have to pay, but like I said, get a BOGOF… take Five Fair Play Dramas AND Brand Loyalty and you’ve got a lot for your money!

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 

It has  received great reviews on the Indie Ebook Review site and various other places. Give it a go.  (See earlier posts for more information)

And to complete the hatrick of joy this weekend  VOICES IN MA HEID my short story collection in Scots has recieved several good reviews, one from a Scot, one from and Englishwoman and one from an American! (yes, really) I’ll collate them at some point in this blog but you can read them yourself on Amazon UK and US.

VOICES IN MA HEID. A bargain at 79p.

But MOST importantly, the message for the weekend is SUPPORT WORLD FAIR TRADE DAY AND DOWNLOAD FIVE FAIR PLAY DRAMAS for free!  It’s one of the rare occasions where free trade is also fair trade.

Guerrilla tactics prevail.

Okay, the decision is made. Quit while you’re ahead. Having consulted my guerrilla handbooks I realise that the element of surprise is important and that hanging around beyond a certain point just gets your head blown off. So…. in the next few hours the FREE downloads will cease.  I think everyone’s had a decent chance to get their hands on a copy and the ULTIMATE objective was achieved much quicker than anticipated – #1 in UK and US political fiction.  Snuck right into the heart of Amazon and….


So if you HAVEN’T DOWNLOADED IT then you’ve got a couple of hours left to do so. How long do you need? And after that it’s only a measly £1.95 (for a while) The price will go up some time soon….. now the guerrilla has learned to play the market game.

I need to get back to real life and start writing THE REVOLUTIONARY’S DAUGHTER.

BRAND LOYALTY Storming the charts


A couple of days in advance (being an organised sort of person) of the big Amazon giveaway, I wrote a piece on indie ebook review site titled The Invisible Guerrilla where I likened ebook publishing to guerrilla warfare based on my lifelong interest (obsession) with the Cuban Revolution.

I am happy to report that we have made great progress.  It took less than 6 hours for BRAND LOYALTY to storm the UK political fiction charts and it’s sat at #1 ever since (I’m getting twitchy, I feel like a sitting duck…) By bedtime in US it had made it to #3 (something I never imagined) and it’s riding high in Literary fiction  – in UK it flitters around #5 and #6 and for the last 12 hours only DEAD classic authors have been higher.

The guerrilla strike has been successful. But there’s a new goal. Apparantly, in order to remain visible long after I’ve cut and run from the free promotion, I have to get into the Top 100 in the Free Kindle Store.  I’m teetering around 120 at the moment so another big push is required to get more downloads and see if I can crack the Top 100. (Then I’m told I should cut my losses and pull the free promotion a day early if I have to) I need to go back to my guerrilla handbook for that one. I’m a person of my word and I said it’d be free for 72hours so SHOOT ME…. I am in the dilemma of do I QUIT while I’m ahead (end justifies the means) or stick to my word (and risk an injury) I am currently asking myself WHAT WOULD CHE DO?  Respond to a flexible situation or stick to principle?  It’s complex.   On the one hand he shot a puppy (yes, shot a puppy!) because it’s whining would give them away and on the other hand he never left a corpse unrecovered.  And he killed people even though he accepted it was morally wrong and he must bear the guilt. He didn’t like wimps but he was morally courageous.  So…. my guerrilla insight and my moral philosophy degrees will be battling it out today while I work out what to do.

Beyond all that though…. when you READ Brand Loyalty I hope you will undertand the ULTIMATE irony of having put it up for free with Amazon anyway!  It’s an act of revolutionary genius in itself.  Or at least very funny.  And it seems only right to tell you that my TRILOGY (now in four parts) scheduled for next year, which has Cuba as a central theme, now (thanks to a fellow author) will feature a work entitled THE REVOLUTIONARY’S DAUGHTER. As soon as this free stuff is over I’m free to get back to it.

What do you expect for free?

Because this is what you can get for the next 3 days.  FREE.

The book they’d try to ban… if they knew it existed. Get to it before THEY do!

Brand Loyalty is free today, tomorrow and Thursday.

You can even get your hands on it if you don’t have a kindle ereader. All you have to do is download the free KINDLE APP for pc, ipad, smart phone or whatever the hell device you do your reading on and download it to your LIBRARY there.

You can of course keep it real and buy the paperback version from HoAmPresst Publishing. But the e-book way, no trees die and as Amazon are so keen to tell us, you can be reading it within just a few minutes.  Not bad for a book whose ideas may stay with you for life.

To download your free copy in UK CLICK HERE and in US CLICK HERE 

For reviews and more information, look at yesterday’s post.

If you go down to the woods today….

You can find a REAL LIVE copy of Brand Loyalty in some unusual places… but for the next 3 days you can download an ecopy for free.  The trees will thank you.

Some books are for the beach. A quick read and then discarded. But other books are keepers. Being on an ereader doesn’t change that. The content and ideas are the same, only the means of delivery is different. I believe that Brand Loyalty is one of these books which change the way you think about things, whose ideas linger with you for years to come.  People who like it seem to agree..

 ‘Brand Loyalty’ is the most challenging, disturbing and fascinating book I’ve read for quite some time. It deserves to be widely read.  (Rosalie Warren)Author

 I may have finished reading this book but I don’t think I will ever stop thinking about it..The author has created a horrifying future that is just simply all too real. (Alan Pearce) Journalist and author of The Google Questions [If you like Brand Loyalty you may like this… or The Contenders by Neil Fraser Addison] 

Chilling but brilliant. [A] sparklingly cerebral mix of contemporary events, analysis and projection to the not-at-all distant future. If you want to think and be stimulated, but also to trust and be encouraged in the power of curiosity, you should read this novel. (Julia Jones) Author  For a fuller review by Julia on Indie ebook review site click HERE 

What is so scary about Brand Loyalty is its plausibility. It is not a comfortable read and this book raises questions… It is a thought provoking, page turner which explores life in a consumerist dystopia. (Mary Smith) Journalist and Author.

I would be the first to admit that my work is not always a ‘novice ride.’  I try my best to give you a good story on top of the layers, but yes, my work has depth. A lot of people don’t like depth. They like easy stuff, plots that just run along to an anticipated conclusion. Don’t buy my books if that’s what you like. But if you like to think when you read and to have your ideas challenged and you find it exhilarating to embark on a communicative relationship where you find out how someone else views the world, then I suggest you give it a try.

You can download it FREE from Amazon 8th/9th and 10th of May

in the UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007W0WATK

in the US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007W0WATK

It’s coming soon….

Having wrested back control of my distribution, it’s time for Brand Loyalty to get some new exposure.  So it’s going on Kindle Select (exclusive for 3 months) For me this is like entering the heart of darkness. But since I’ve begun to equate ebook publishing to guerrilla warfare, I’ve got some renewed vigour for the whole thing.

So below, are some comments and reviews about Brand Loyalty to help you decide whether it’s ‘for you’ or not.  Don’t forget you can read a sample of the first three chapters on Amazon before you download… so really… there’s no excuse to be disappointed.

The following reviews are for the most part from people I’ve never met.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not impressed with ‘sooking up’ (as we Scots call it) and for me, the value of a review lies in another person seeing something of interest or quality in the work itself, it’s not a comment on their relationship to me.

Increasingly the reviews I’m receiving are from other writers with whom I have struck up a professional virtual relationship. I value these comments because I respect the work of the people who made them.  I have attributed links to the authors responsible so that you can judge for yourself.

For the potential reader, to my mind, the purpose of a review is for it to give you an idea of what the book is about (not the plot) and why other people have enjoyed reading it and think it worthy of your time and money. You may disagree of course, but I’m aiming to give you an informed choice BEFORE you part with your money. I want readers, but I don’t want disappointed readers.

Here we go…..

 ‘Brand Loyalty’ is the most challenging, disturbing and fascinating book I’ve read for quite some time. It deserves to be widely read.  (Rosalie Warren)Author  Fuller review forthcoming  here 

 I may have finished reading this book but I don’t think I will ever stop thinking about it. Once you start seeing things in the author’s ULTIMATE ® world, the parallels with our own are rather too close for comfort. The author has created a horrifying future that is just simply all too real. (Alan Pearce) Journalist and author of The Google Questions [If you like Brand Loyalty you may like this… or The Contenders by Neil Fraser Addison] 

Chilling but brilliant. [A] sparklingly cerebral mix of contemporary events, analysis and projection to the not-at-all distant future. If you want to think and be stimulated, but also to trust and be encouraged in the power of curiosity, you should read this novel. (Julia Jones) Author

For a fuller review by Julia on Indie ebook review site click HERE 

What is so scary about Brand Loyalty is its plausibility. It is not a comfortable read and this book raises questions… It is a thought provoking, page turner which explores life in a consumerist dystopia. (Mary Smith) Journalist and Author Smith)

There are also comments from general readers, names attributed where I know them.

Terrifying and believable. Guaranteed to shock and extremely thought provoking. A powerfully cautionary tale of how our ignorance and complacency could lead to the eventual surrender of our very personality (L.Sim)

The ideas stay with me troublingly.. A real page turner, based on an extremely ingenious and unnerving idea..great ending, nice ambiguity… Give this book a go! (J Atkin)

I challenge you to read Brand Loyalty – you’ll revisit the way you manage your relationships: you’ll reconsider how dependent you’ve become on the whole web to actualise your personality, your past, and your network of friends and family.’ (A Walker)

‘This story is a chilling glimpse into a possible future.’

‘I really liked this -excellent characters, interesting ideas, and a good build up of tension and pace.

‘You’ve got me hooked’

‘Thought that it was good read and liked the idea of how branding takes over in the future. Well written, thought provoking and interesting’

‘It struck a chord with me because I don’t think that this story is far off what is really to come!

”I found this to be a hugely original and deeply satirical piece that worked exceptionally well.

The idea behind the story is clever and delivered economically’ ‘

I loved the concept, and it is worryingly believable.’ ‘ The concept of watching the last tiger dying live on TV is really powerful, showing the worst of what our world is becoming … if things don’t change quickly.’

So don’t be a mug….

download your copy today Amazon UK  or Amazon US 

– or if you’re really tight, wait till the free downloads start on 8th May.

If you do take advantage of the free promotion I’d be really grateful if you spread the word as widely as possible using whatever social media you feel most at home with. Thanks. And I hope you enjoy reading the Ultimate book of choice and Value -A-Z (remember, 15 people, most of whom I’ve never met, can’t be wrong!)

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