Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Why can't you buy low calorie snacks?

I'm just back from a rain-drenched walk to the shops. Whilst seeking inspiration amongst the aisles I started picking up the snacks and examining the calorie content. I noticed a very weird thing. Crisps, chocolate, biscuits or sweets (or chips, cookies, candies and... chocolate. Is there a thing in the US that all types of snacks must be spelled with the letter 'C'?), it didn't matter what I picked up, each had between 450 and 550 calories per 100g.

Why? There has to be a reason. Is it something to do with manufacturing methods? Has  market research discovered that anything less than 450 (like the bag of popcorn I bought at the weekend) leaves a customer so unsatisfied that they won't buy it again? Or is it just a coincidence, some quirk caused by a confluence of halloween treats and limited shelf space, and next week I'll go in and find a variety of foods to fill every caloric gradation.

I don't think it's the latter. The cost of re-printing the packaging would be too great. But it does remind me of a rather interesting programme on planet money that solved a similar puzzle, as to why peanut M&Ms come are sold at a different weight to milk chocolate ones;

Anyway. That's enough procrastination. I went out in search of inspiration for a way to describe a ship's passengers travelling down from Svalbard, approaching Holyhead (on Anglesey) and being presented with a flotilla of small ships huddling against the shore. I should have written this part on the ferry over from Ireland, but instead I've got to try and find my muse in the puddle-filled pavements of London. Lesson learnt for next time.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Want to make your own dinosaur?

Just heard a great TED talk on how to make your own dinosaur (ok, so not really how to make one at home, but close enough.) very very cool!

Renowned palaeontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to reconstruct a dinosaur. He's found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues, but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he's taking living descendants of the dinosaur (chickens) and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails, and even hands — to make a "Chickenosaurus".

Jack Horner is a consultant on the upcoming Jurassic Park IV, so expect the Chickenosaurus in the movie. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Books now available in WH Smith's

My writing 'process' (which is an incredible organised sounding phrase for what is really a frenetic assault on a keyboard) involves a notebook and a computer. Into the notebook goes every cool line, important scene, character name and so on. When I go off on a field trip, travelling the country working out which route the characters will take to or from Anglesey (or from Washington to the remote spot in Maine), the notebook comes with me, and the directions get scrawled down.

So, last night, I was looking through the notes for Book 5: Radio Free England. Underneath a line that read; "Look at him! You know how I'd describe him? A guy in desperate need of a belt."
I found another note saying that, by the end of the year, I should aim to get the books into Smith's, Foyle's and Waterstone's (they're the three largest bookstores in the UK). I'd become so lost in getting these stories written that I'd completely forgotten about that.

Well, I went online this morning and found that the books did get into Smith's. Or, the ebooks, at least. Next stop is getting the paperbacks in there, but that'll have to wait. Book 4 is heading towards completion. I've got another 10 pages to read through and then it's just the prologue and epilogue to finish. Time to get on.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Free Ebook Code For Inktera & Caffeine Nights

The kind people at pagefoundry, the operators of the Inktera store and the Caffeine Nights app have given me 10 free ebook codes. This will definitely work with Book 1: London, and may work with other books.

The Code: TAYELL

This is a first come first serve deal, there's only 10 of them.

The Inktera store link link:

The apps:

The apps are genre specific, and I have to say this has to be the next generation in book purchasing, cutting down on the whole  click-wait-sync time. So, give it a try, I think this is a really neat idea.
(prices for non-US readers may work out cheaper here than on other stores, as they are set using US dollars, then converted.)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Heath Robinson Mornings

I thought I'd been clever. At night I've taken to leaving the curtains open, so as to be woken by the first light of dawn. In this way I can capitalise on those oh-so-productive early hours of the day. It worked brilliantly in the summer, not so much these days. As I look at the clock here, and see three hours already wasted, I'm resolved on buying a new alarm clock. Something like this one designed by Heath Robinson, perhaps;

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started" - Mark Twain said that. So I should probably stop browsing the web and get on. Today we begin the final draft-edit of Book 4.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Book: 0.5 Free (again) on Amazon          

The glitch has been fixed. The book is now free on Amazon again. Sorry for any inconvenience.

How (not) to start a business - Start Up by Alex Blumberg

I've just listened to all five episodes of this podcast. It's brilliant. It's presented by Alex Blumberg, formerly of Planet Money and This American Life, charting his ongoing journey to achieve fame and riches by setting up a podcast company (meta, right?)

So it's a fun listen, but it's a pretty informative step by step guide to how you do actually create a business. From sourcing venture capital to choosing names to hiring a business partner. Well worth a listen. So persuasive, in fact, if I'd signed my movie deal by now, I'd be down as an investor.

(PS: One of the names he ends up not using for the business is 'The Global Listening Service'. I'm definitely stealing that as the plot for the next book.)

Monday, 13 October 2014

Zombies vs Living Dead free on Kobo & Itunes

Hi, I've just seen that the Book 0.5: Zombies vs The Living Dead is currently not free on the UK Amazon store. Amazon don't allow authors to permanently set the price to 0.00, but price match against other stores, and reserve the right to raise the price as and when they wish.

I'm not sure if this is a temporary glitch, but you can find the book elsewhere for free.
Whilst I'm appreciative of the £0.20 a copy I get from each sale, I really think you'd enjoy Book 3 more if you've read this short story. You're certainly going to have want to have read it before Book 4: Unsafe Haven and... (though I'm not confirming this as definite until I've got the covers)... Book 3.5: Svalbard, Book 4.5: AWOL, Book 5: Return and the absolutely final book in the series Book 6: The Blood Red Line.
(I'm also planning a separate 1 novel, 1 short story spin off set in the US, but more on that closer to the time.)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Check out Limerence 2 - A new release (& a freebie)

Claire C Riley, another of the authors with whom I'm collaborating on the 'At Hell's Gate' project has a new release out this weekend. (and the first book in the series is free!)

Limerence 2 (The Obsession Series) by Clare Riley 

When you see life through the eyes of a vampire, you see the true colors of the world. 

It’s been almost a year since Mia’s life was forever altered, and each day is a battle as she fights the dark vampire trapped within her. She is strong, and powerful, and she wants control. She will do anything to be free. Even if it means destroying them both.

Link to book 1:

Braineater Jones - A weekend recomendation

I've been putting together (on top of editing the next Evacuation book, and a short story staring Kim) a  story for the next volume of the At Hell's Gate Anthology. Stephen Kozeniewski, one of the authors I'm collaborating with has a book on offer this weekend. Thought you might like to check it out.

Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski

Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A note on publishing (alright, marketing)

Writing is my full time occupation. I wake, I write until the words lose all meaning, then I get on with the marketing. And there’s as much marketing in books as there is in any other product under the sun.

I had a chat the other day with a chap who’s somewhat of an expert in advertising. He finds my foray into self-publishing fascinating. As in “And that promotion cost you $200 and netted only an additional 4 sales per day, fascinating. Why do you think that was?”

The answer is I don’t really know (nor why a $25 promotion a couple of months ago netted 300 sales in an hour. A lot of people would say it’s down to luck. I’m not sure I believe in luck. Circumstance and coincidence, sure. But luck? No.)
"Why do you think?" I asked him. "You are, after all, meant to be an expert in this sort of thing."
"Well," he said, "there was <name redacted>, they launched a £25,000,000 marketing push in Russia, timing it to coincide with the winter Olympics. Then came the Crimean Crisis."
He sipped on his coffee for a while, as I waited for him to continue.

“Timing,” I said when it was evident he was finished. “You’re saying that’s what it’s all about.”
“Being at the right place, just before the right time, so that when the perfect moment comes around, you’re already there.”

Good advice for some, perhaps, but not so much for a writer of post-apocalyptic fiction. I mean, if I were to write a prescient novel, there wouldn’t be anyone left to notice how foresighted I’d been. But Timing does have a part to play. I’ve noticed that. With a book about zombies with ‘London’ in the title, it’s no wonder I noticed sales collapse on those warm summer evenings.

Knowing that doesn’t help me improve my sales figures to the point I could afford a <name redacted> myself, though. But I need to be pro-active. As I see it, I’ve two choices. Either I stop global warming, so Britain returns to that damp miserable weather I remember as a child, or I build a machine to bring on a new ice age. Or maybe I can just buy a machine like that. I’m off to ebay to check.

[to other authors who are interested, the $25 promotion was with, I highly recommend their services. I’d also recommend The Fussy Librarian and The $200 was spent across about 30 different sites, during a week long promotion. I won’t name them here as I and others have had great success with them in the past.]

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A thought (Elbert Hubbard's) on reviews

I was looking up the origin of a quote for a short story I've just finished; 'Life is just one damned thing after another.' 

Thanks to the marvels of the internet I quickly confirmed it's from Elbert Hubbard. In my search I came across this other quote of his:

"Most Authors cringe and flatter and Fish for compliments. If they fail to get Applause, they say the World is a Scurvy Place and those who dwell therein a Dirty Lot: if they succeed, they give thanks to Nobody, saying they got only what their Meritt entitles them to. But I rather like the World. The Flesh is pleasing and the Devil does not trouble me."
 Love Ballads of the Sixteenth Century (1897)

That made me smile. 

He is a fascinating chap, though. If you're not familiar with him I do recommend spending a few minutes just reading about his life. Seriously, one of the most interesting potted biographies I've read.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Hollywood and Dystopian Fiction

My take; An image of a half-submerged landmark will intrigue people more than some alien ruins. I want to know what happened to the Statue of Liberty. How did the seas rise up so much. That's easier to sell, and can be sold with that single image.

Now, I'm off to rent that movie.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Simultaneous Translations & The Nuremberg Trials - PRI's The World

Just heard this on public radio international's 'The World'. Very interesting piece about how simultaneous translation came about, and how it works. Something I'd never thought of before. Worth a listen!