I love fantasy, science fiction, true crime, historical (non fic), classics, gothic horror and books about language and words. I’d be interested to see what my readers prefer. In fact I’ll make you a deal – whatever wins I’ll read a book from that category for my next read and review it – even if it’s not within my usual genre.
This is my response to post on Mythic Scribes.
The original blogger explained how he would be asked why he bothered to write – it wasn’t his day job, he didn’t make much money from it and it was a lot of effort. It’s a good question.
I get asked similar questions – why do I write? When do I expect to be famous? Wearily I try and explain again. Writing keeps me (fairly) sane, it’s relaxing and because I can’t not write. The stories are there, clamouring to be heard and whether I get them onto paper or the screen that isn’t going to change. I write because I can and I do. It makes me happy, it lets me escape. It lets me create something – and that, as you say, is wonderful. I sell books (not many but I do sell), but I don’t write for the money or I’d have starved long ago.
I’ve always made up stories, worlds and situations. It’s a part of who and what I am. If other people decide to mock it then that’s their problem. I’m not going to stop doing something I love because someone is too foolish or unthinking to think it worthwhile.
I’ve been asked what constitutes ‘success’. I think that’s relative. 6 or so years ago I wrote for myself and a small group of friends, someone convinced me to self-publish and see what happened. I sold a few books, then a few more. It wasn’t the ‘give up the day job’ level but then I never imagined it would be. More importantly whilst I was writing book 1 my mother was suffering from cancer she’d bravely fought for 18 years. It was a long and awful struggle, but she was stoic, courageous and I only heard her complain once. I published book 1 in June 2012 and she died in September of that year. I took a printed copy home to show her, and my disabled father – a man whose world was about to be shattered – and she smiled. Really, really smiled. Mum was pretty much bedbound by then but she got up and went downstairs. She called her mother, my sisters, told the carers, and the neighbours who visited. Despite it all, despite all the pain, and the indignity of her awful illness my book made her happy and proud. That is success.
The comments in the original post disparaging Indie/Self Publishing are interesting. I’ve had that too. Personally, I like self-publishing. It works for me. The deadlines are my own (and thus flexible), I can write what want to write and not what a publisher tells me. OK so all the marketing, editing and cover art is my problem but I know a good editor and several cover artists, plus I am learning some of this aspect.
It’s true there are some shoddy SP books on the market, but there are also some excellent ones. I’ve read plenty of traditionally published books which are crap – badly edited, badly written and should never have seen the light of day! Many self-published authors are extremely meticulous, very talented and dare to write edgier work.
I’d bet that many of the readers who disparage SPAs have read self or indie published work and not realised.
Check out Mythic Scribes.
It’s a very useful resource.
What are your views on this? If you’re a writer – why do you write? If you’re a reader then do you read self-published work.
Today we welcome author Ron Vitalie – who brings with him some awesome tips for indies.
How to Get Rich in Indie Publishing: Marketing Tips for Authors
By Ron Vitale
Catchy title, right?Unfortunately, only a tiny number of indie authors have cracked the $100,000+ club on Amazon. In his May 2016 report, Data Guy reported that “1,340 authors are earning $100,000/year or more from Amazon sales. But half of them are indies and Amazon-imprint authors.”
With millions of ebooks competing for readers’ attention, there is a lot of supply, and demand is hot or cold—depending on your genre. A literary memoir? Probably isn’t going to earn you $100,000. Putting out one military science fiction book every month over the next year, odds are better that you’ll earn money with this strategy (for the short term).
I’ve been an indie author since 2011 and continue to struggle to make a profit off of selling my books. With my full-time day job, I release a book once or twice a year. My strategy has been to slowly build up my backlist and increase my readership over time.
I only know a few people who have struck gold being an indie author and many of them have since left the industry. Fads come and go. But writing good books and learning effective marketing strategies will help you succeed for the life of your author career.
Long gone are the gold rush days of indie publishing. The market has matured and what worked then (free days on KDP select), does not work today. Instead of getting frustrated, you have three options:
- Adapt and learn new skills
- Give up
- Or worse: keep doing the same things and don’t change
Write and Keep Writing
The best advice that I can share is for an author to keep writing. This advice is often given, but I don’t know if authors take it to heart. Writing means that: Keep writing books. Devise series, different genres, experiment and allow your creativity to fly free. If the only reason why you’re writing is to make money, well, there are much easier ways to be successful.
Writing novels or short stories is great, but an author also needs to know how to write effective book descriptions, ad copy, email autoresponders and other marketing promotional materials. If you can’t do that, then hire a virtual assistant, learn how to do it or barter with another author.
In my experience, the authors who are doing the best (yes, this is a generalization) are those who are publishing books on a regular basis.
For me, this means that I don’t just write when I feel like it. No. I have a schedule and stick to it no matter what. If I’m sick or something comes up with the kids, I make the time up. To hold myself accountable, I do two things:
1. I tell my family and friends that I’m writing a book.
2. I track all the words I write in a Google sheet.
I used to write when the “muses came to me.” Then I wised up. I don’t go to work at my full-time job when I feel like it. I go because I want to be productive and earn a paycheck to provide for my family.
It took me a long time to understand this and to wrestle with not wanting to put my butt in the chair and do the work. But now I have 8 novels published and 2 more in the works.
Writing, like tennis or running, is all about mind over matter. It’s like a mental game.
If you believe you can’t do it, then you’ll fail. But if you work hard, get better, keep plugging away, chances are that you’ll still fail (since few authors earn back the money they put out to make the book), but that’s where marketing comes in.
First step is to write books and to keep on doing that.
Be a Unicorn
Now that you have a book ready to share with the world, what do you do?
Write the next book and then the third.
If I could pass anything that I’ve learned to new authors, it would be to think like a marketer.
When I published my first book, Lost (Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries), I fantasized that I would release it and I’d be raking in the money. Everyone would love my book. I worked hard, published the book and my dream fell flat. I think I tried to fly without wings and hit the concrete hard. Thankfully, I could still pick myself up, learn from my mistakes and keep writing.
The mistake I made is a classic one: I only had one product to sell. I used my five free days on KDP Select to give my book away and there was nothing else for readers to buy. I didn’t have an email list, I didn’t have autoresponders created, a funnel, an editorial calendar or email strategy that would help promote my brand.
I had none of that.
I only had a desire to write, but no idea how to get there. For the last five years, I’ve read, studied, experimented and watched more training sessions than I can remember. And that learning is never going to end. I need to keep evolving, learning and growing.
I like that because that fits nicely with my personality. I love learning.
To succeed, I recommend becoming a unicorn: An author who not only can write good books, but knows how to connect with people and apply that to marketing.
Email Equals Love
If you’re looking where to spend your energy, then the choice is simple: Build your email list. I use Mailchimp, love it (though it does get expensive) and I took the time to build out a 6 part autoresponder chain.
Either through Instafreebie or my website, I offer a reader a free book if they sign up on my email list. Once they signup, they receive (over 6 weeks) an email every week on topics related to what my brand is.
My mission (branding statement) is simple:
I believe that, no matter how difficult our childhood, we can use imaginative stories to heal ourselves and lead lives filled with love and hope.
The characters in my books reflect and live that theme. After users receive my emails, I then start sharing my bi-monthly newsletter. Some readers love it and write to me while some unsubscribe. But that’s a good thing because I want to make certain that my list contains people who are into what I stand for and what I write about.
It’s taking much longer than I had expected, but building the list organically is a slow burn.
To start out, ask yourself: What value can you give to readers that will make your emails stand out?
How does one actually do that with readers? It’s pretty simple if you stop and think about it.
- Ask people what they want.
- Provide good and useful content on a regular basis.
- Open up to your readers: Be authentic (and sometimes vulnerable)
I like to think of things this way: If I meet someone for the first time and they shake my hand and say: “Would you like to buy my book? It’s on sale for $.99.” Well, I’d slowly walk away from that person.
Just because someone gives you their email address doesn’t mean that they want to be spammed by you.
Not only is that type of marketing unsuccessful, but most readers tune that out. Especially in the area of social media, there’s the 90-10 rule:
90% of the time, share content that’s helpful and useful to people. The other 10%, you can promote your own work.
I highly recommend that you sign up to Seth Godin’s email list and read his books if you haven’t already. His marketing style is honest, helpful and is a great model for what works. Every single day I read the short email he sends out. Over time, I’ve come to look forward to his emails because I learn something and find them useful. It’s not just him trying to sell me a book or a class. Yes, he does do that (very infrequently), but he provides not only good content, but writing that causes me to question why I’m doing what I’m doing. He’s upbeat, personable and extremely relatable with his posts.
When I first started my email list, I sent out emails when I remembered. I was scattered, had no editorial plan and no idea what to write about. I’ve come a long way in the last year. I now send an email out every two weeks (I chose this because the majority of my readers picked this option in a survey I had sent to them) and I share updates on my creative process, but have found that the most popular emails are those that relate to my brand—personal stories about my upbringing that I share with readers.
I’ve had people from all over the world respond with their own stories and it allows me to see how interconnected we all are. I’m not alone and neither are those who also went through difficult childhoods. That commonality is a thread that binds us together and by sharing our stories, we own them and can heal rather than being poisoned and trapped by the difficulty we grew up with as kids. That’s a heavy topic to sometimes discuss and share, but it’s also what I believe is needed in today’s world. I was tired of feeling ashamed and decided to talk about my past in a way that was not only healing for myself, but for others. The benefit is that I not only get to connect with people from around the globe, but readers get a glimpse into what my writing style is like and what I write about. It’s honest and true.
I once believed that if I just wrote my heart out that my book would be “discovered” and I’d be selling copies easily. That didn’t happen. Yes, some authors have had success like that, but that’s not happened to me and to thousands like me. The reality is that authors need to juggle multiple hats and not only need to know how to write, but we need to also market our books.
Today we have Amazon (AMS), Facebook, Google, Bookbub and dozens upon dozens of other options out there. Some authors swear that this one technique on this certain platform works. Others say it doesn’t work.
Unfortunately, the only way to know what does (or doesn’t) work for you is to experiment. I’ve not had success with Facebook ads, but know that others have. The possibilities are tremendous because we can target people by demographic, location and interest. You could even send an email to your readers and then retarget them via Facebook, so that they’d see an ad for your book that way as well.
The big question is: How much are you willing to invest in marketing?
And when I say invest, I don’t refer just to money, but also to time. If you have unlimited funds, then you can hire a virtual assistant to run this all for you. And if you have that type of money, you probably aren’t in need of this article.
The biggest benefit is that authors can (and do) help each other. Email swaps, webinars, blog posts with actual sales numbers, there’s more information out there than there is time. I find that to be my biggest challenge. As I learned back in 2015, I can’t work full-time, raise two kids with my wife, be an author popping out books every few months and learn everything I need to know about marketing. I tried that and nearly imploded. I failed because I tried to take too much on. I need sleep, mental rest, time to have fun with my family and friends, and room to breathe. I can’t have every second of every day scheduled for work. That type of commitment nearly broke me and wasn’t healthy for me or my family.
It’s the dark side to being an indie author that many don’t talk about. We read and see all the success stories, but what about the failures? That’s where I come in. I share what I’ve been through because I think it’s important to give a true rundown of what I’ve experienced (and what many others are experiencing as well).
In my book, How to Become a Successful Author While Working Full-time: The Secret to Work-Life Balance, I go into detail about my personal experiences from the last six years of trying to figure out how to be an author in today’s vastly changed publishing landscape. I share it all—the highs and the lows.
Even if you have had success, maintaining that over years and decades will be hard. The challenge is being flexible and continuing to learn.
In 2017, without a sound marketing strategy, I think it’s extremely rare that a new indie author will find financial success. For me personally, I had some success in the early years, but as I’ve needed to grow my business, I’ve had to spend more on services to keep my business running.
Now I need to pay for website hosting, editing, covers, Mailchimp, advertising, and a bunch of other fees. I track how much I spend and how much I earn and there’s no shame in my sharing that I’m struggling. It’s the truth because I’m making choices to invest in my business and those expenses need to be spent or I cannot grow to where I want to be. I’m investing in my future because I see great potential in the long term.
No matter if you’re extremely successful as an indie author or just starting out, all of us will need to adapt and change. Maybe Amazon will change KNEP again or another service will rise up while others go extinct (I see your days numbered, Nook). We have virtual reality, augmented reality and who know what other “reality” is coming down the pike. Change will continue to happen and disrupters (like the Amazons of the world) will continue to affect the publishing industry.
The challenge for us as authors is to hold two incongruent ideas in our mind at the same time: We need to be as creative and inspiring as we can with our fiction but also need to understand marketing and its implementation in the real world.
Sometimes those two ideas will war with each other. I personally don’t believe that we only write to market. Someone will need to take a risk and try something different. Remember Harry Potter? The Twilight Series? Fifty Shades of Gray? Times and tastes change and I don’t always want to be following the herd. I need to write what moves me and inspired me to be an author from the start. The honesty that I write about in my books is what enables me to get up at 5:30 a.m. to write. Sometimes my main characters make mistakes, just like me. I like displaying the truth and complexities of my characters’ lives. But everything can’t just be about creation. I also need to take my author career and treat it like a business. I need to show up, write regularly, publish books and market them well. Having the tension between creativity and selling can be a challenge sometimes, but I choose to see it as a healthy struggle. I hope you do as well. Have questions? Feel free to contact me.
Ron Vitale is a fantasy, science fiction and nonfiction author. He’s written the Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries series, the Witch’s Coven series, book one in the Jovian Gate Chronicles, and the Werewhale Saga. His first nonfiction book, How to Be a Successful Author While Working Full-Time: The Secret to Work/Life Balance is also now available. When not writing, Ron loves spending time with his kids even when they beat him in the fun card game Kittens in a Blender.
So now you’ve set up your account, and know about royalties so what’s next?
- How do I add my book?
Once your account is set up go to ADD MY TITLE link in the top right – this will allow you to search if you have the book on Amazon already or create a Title Profile for your book – This is what it says on the tin – Title – genre – word count – synopsis etc. If you have a decent following it’s more likely narrators will want to produce your book – especially with royalty share. It’s worth stating if you have an active blog, facebook following and other social media.
Or Assert More Titles – this screen will also tell you if there are any offers to produce your book, how many are in production, if you have asserted a title but not produced it.
ACX generally works in hours – so if you buy a book on Audible it’s so many listening hours
For an example, The Count of Monte Cristo comes up at between 40-50 hours depending on the version/narrator. It’s close on 100 chapters – Imagine how long that took to produce!
But my poetry book is 18 minutes….
So keep in mind you will need to have the time available to listen to the files your narrator uploads before the book is approved. He or she will upload the files and these need to be listened to CAREFULLY. From the point of view of the narrator I have been told it’s 2- 2.5 hours of work per finished hour – so producing an audio book is NOT a quick process. It has to be checked for background noises, mispronunciations, and the timing has to be correct. There is a set time between chapters/scenes and ACX will not approve for sale if this is incorrect.
This is a legal contract – keep that in mind – so ensure you find the right narrator for your work. If you do have problems with the narrator there are ways to break the agreement but it is complicated and you may have to pay out for work done. When setting up you are asked to provide a 5 minute sample in PDF – say a chapter – so narrators can audition. This should give you an idea of how the narrator sounds.
This is where you can specify your preferred type of narrator – male/female; US/English etc. It’s pretty specific. Of course, you may not get the ideal person you’ve imagined so keep an open mind.
5 )How do I find a narrator?
Ideally, they come to you but all the narrators have profiles so you can search and approach them if you wish.
It’s a lot more time consuming for the narrator – I understand it’s about two hours work per finished hour – and thenn they have to ensure there are no background noises, the pronunciation is alright, the gaps between the chapters are the right length etc. ACX has strict criteria about how long the silence is at the beginning or end of each chapter and if it’s too long or too short they won’t approve it. Honestly, I can’t tell unless it’s really obvious so I have to trust my narrator on that.
Officially once the narrator has uploaded the files the author can request up to two rounds of editing – so the author needs to listen to the files carefully to decide on any changes. Some narrators will do more but as it’s so time-consuming the author can’t send them notes on every little thing unless it really is an error/revision.
The cover art – that has to be square (think a CD case) so that has to be adapted, but there is guidance in the FAQ.
Then there’s a suitable sample to be agreed.
Once both sides are happy the narrator signs off his or her side and the author approves it.
The book will then go to review – which can take a couple of weeks. It’s checked for obvious errors, whether it meets the sound quality and the time between chapters. At this point, it’s possible for ACX to reject (say there is a big silence between chapter 1 and chapter 2). Changes can be made if requested by ACX. Once it’s approved it will ‘head to retail’ and appear in the store a week or so later.
Once or twice I’ve had to contact ACX support (long story) but they aren’t great. The changes took weeks to go through, even though I was told it would be a couple of days. I had to email regularly for updates. That said if it’s an easy question then they do respond.
I love having audio books, and I love listening to audio books. Recently I was helping another author with advice on getting her books converted to audio. I thought I’d share my notes.
A quick guide on turning your book into an audio book with ACX – part 1
- Why should I turn my book into an audio edition?
Audio books are very popular – they are great for the commute to work (which is usually when I listen to them), around the house, in bed or just about anywhere. Many people don’t have the time to sit and read, but as an audio book can be playing whilst you do other things a listener can hear and appreciate the story and not need to put time aside to look at a book. They are also, of course, a great format for people with restricted sight, who might find it difficult or impossible to read from a book or e-reader.
As an author, it is also very useful to have your books in as many accessible formats as possible. More avenues of sale = more potential sales.
- What is ACX and how do I sign up?
https://www.acx.com/help/authors/200484540 – author help and advice
ACX distributes to Amazon, Audible (an Amazon company) and I-books and if you have an Amazon account then you can use that to log in. Otherwise, it’s a case of setting it up. ACX has a reasonable set of help pages https://www.acx.com/help/about-acx/200484860 and it’s useful to start there. Do read the TOS and the FAQ, it will save a lot of heartache later if something goes wrong or you don’t understand something.
You have to provide your bank details, tax info and all the usual legal and financial malarky otherwise you won’t get paid. And yes, if you aren’t a US citizen you still need to provide your tax details – the IRS states that ANY goods sold in or through the US are subject to tax. This is NOT Amazon’s rule – it’s the law. If you are not a US citizen and your country has a withholding agreement hopefully you will not actually have to pay the tax – it still gets declared though. Anyway enough of that tedium.
‘Anyone who holds the rights to an audiobook (a Rights Holder) can connect with the people who can get those audiobooks made (the Producers).’
Basically, if you are the copyright holder you can turn your book into an audio edition.
- What are the royalties?
ROYALTY SHARE it will 20% for you and 20% for the narrator. ACX sets the price so you won’t necessarily know what you’ll get.
NON ROYALTY SHARE means you’ll get 40% but you will have to pay the narrator up front. Narrators will state their fee (expect to pay out quite a bit for a novel) but of course, once it’s paid then any royalties are all yours.
Some narrators only work for money up front so royalty share does restrict your pool of talent – but it still quite large.
There is also $50 bonus scheme – put simply this means if yours is the first book a new customer buys with their audible credits you get a bonus ($25 if royalty share).
Royalties are paid monthly, at the end of the second month (So Jan paid in Feb, Feb in March etc). Personally, I find the payments confusing – as there are payments for:
AL: Audible Listener – purchases made by members with membership credits.
ALOP: Audible Listener Over Plan – purchases made by members with cash (not with membership credits).
ALC: A la carte – purchases made by customers, not in an Audible Listener membership.
Basically, members buying with credits, members without credits and non-members with cash.
Thus far I have not managed to work out how ACX defines the separate payments for these.
You’ll be sent an email saying royalties are now payable. Log in to your sales dashboard and this will show you how many of each title you’ve sold. Below this is the earnings report page – you can download a summary report (says how many you’ve sold of each title per month) and a royalty report (how much money is coming your way).
More information to follow on how to upload your book, and finding a narrator.
So, you joined BundleRabbit… great! You’re just another hopeful author waiting to be picked up! And when you do get picked up, all you have to do is follow Diane’s advice – she is one of the authors of my first bundle and I couldn’t have said it better. She explains everything about how BR works for authors.
But wait, months go by and nobody requests anything. You see dozens of other great authors and start thinking… why not? Maybe I should become a curator! How hard can it be?
Putting bundles together at BundleRabbit is great fun, but it’s also exhausting. Not very hard, but there is a small learning curve.
First of all, you apply for “curator” status. Create a draft with your vision (it can include your book or not) and choose a release date, but check what else is coming out that month.
Try to book a release date that is not already taken. When too many bundles come out at the same time, even though they’re not in the same genre, it kind of clutters even BundleRabbit’s page… So please take a look at the calendar and select a date – and keep in mind it takes at least a couple of weeks for the whole publishing process, so it can’t be tomorrow because you’re so excited and just can’t wait!
Then you start browsing the marketplace. Since not all authors upload a preview, if you’re not already familiar with their work, I suggest you read at least an excerpt before choosing someone for your awesome bundle.
Even though BundleRabbit allows bundling from a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 25 books, try to stick to 10, especially if it’s novels, and don’t price them too low. You can always make a sale for a holiday, a special occasion, etc.
Create a Sales Blurb telling about all the great stories included and in the About section write some kind of curator’s note – like how fun it was to gather these people together and things like that. Don’t just repeat the Sales Blurb or the Vision! And don’t forget to fill the Thank You note!
You only need to provide a 2D cover and a background image – BR will take care of making the 3D cover, cover fan and… contributor’s copy, plus the “ads” for each title. You can use the forum of the bundle at first to communicate with authors (I did it with the fantasy bundle to ask their world’s name), but then you better create a mailing list, since not everyone wants to check the BR forums (or gets the email notifications).
And when your bundle is publishing, and you see the contributor’s copy is ready, please tell the authors they can download their own copy by going to their dashboard – bundles you’re in – and to the book in the bundle (where they will also find the “ad” a few days later).
It’s up to you or not to make a Facebook page for the bundle(s). I made just one for all my SFF bundles, both the ones I curate and the ones I’m in. Send out clear messages to the authors: when the bundle will go live on BR (it goes on pre-order on Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Barnes&Noble), when you do a sale on BR – and if you have a bundle that allows coupons, ask the authors if they need any for their giveaways.
Try to coordinate the efforts to boost the signal! And have fun!
#Mindfulness #Fibromyalgia #meditation #courses
As some of you may know I suffer from anxiety and have recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It sucks. But it could be worse.
Anyway one of the suggestions from my GP was to find a Mindfulness course, this helps to deal with anxiety and the suffering caused by chronic pain and chronic fatigue.
My partner and I have both used Udemy.com and thus that is where I went. Mindfulness and Meditation teaches a new way to look at life and the world. It focuses on the moment, the now. The tutor, Libby Seery, is experienced in her field and presents the course well.
From the course homepage
What are the requirements?
- Everything you need for a life changing experience is contained within the course
- The only thing you will need to get the most from this course is somewhere quiet to practise the meditation
- If you prefer, you may use a chair or yoga mat, but these are optional and certainly not essential
- Suitable for every level
What am I going to get from this course?
- Live in the here and now
- Experience the joys of life and how it feels to live in the present moment
- Master the art of meditation with guided audio and silent meditation
- Learn to overcome physical and emotional pain with the use of mindfulness techniques
- Discover how you can apply mindfulness to make profound positive changes to your life starting immediately
- Learn to appreciate everyday events in a mindful way, bringing you a happier, healthier life
- Develop a greater sense of self-awareness
What is the target audience?
- This course is perfect for those people wishing to explore mindfulness for the right time as well as those people looking to further their experience of mindfulness
- It is a great introduction to meditation, both silent and guided
- It is a great tool for anyone wanting to manage emotional and physical pain
- Take this course if you want to discover a more meaningful and joyful life
This is the 1001st post on this blog. Hurrah! OK, so I know some folks post way more than that, and I don’t post every day but when I began the blog I wasn’t even sure it would last ten posts. New content is welcome, and followers don’t want the same old articles, or hear moaning every day – that is what Facebook is for…
I try and keep a mix, and hence the gaps. Also some days there is simply not enough useful content. I am sure most of you don’t give a damn I wrote 200 words, or saw a squirrel in the garden, or had a cold. I don’t know – do you?
So what’s happened over the last thousand posts:
Author interviews – many, many author interviews from a whole range of folks in a whole range of countries, writing a whole range of genres – fantasy, historical, science fiction, biography, books for kids, LGBTQ fiction, paranormal, romance, poets, black fiction, erotica, literary fiction and multi-genre.
Character interviews – I must say these are my favourite interviews. We’ve met gods, demons, vampires, demi-gods, an undead horse, heroes, villains, animals, men, women, gay folks, straight folks, folks who aren’t sure/bothered about that sort of thing, aliens, royalty, slaves and more.
Cover artists, narrators, editors and, of course, readers.
I’ve posted guides to Self-Pubbing on KDP and audio books; reviews; text speech and the evolution of language; the challenges facing authors and readers who have lost, or are losing, their sight; course reviews (historical fantasy, magic in medieval Europe, writing, social media marketing, Roman history); articles about how useful reviews are (or not); Hell Week promoting the Perseid Press Heroes in Hell series (look out for Hell Week 2017; Monsters and Myth; Greek Mythology; the influence of Fantasy in our society; Guest posts about research; important military anniversaries; Thunderclap. And information and news about my own books.
Blogging has brought me friends, useful contacts, a wider pool of resources (very useful – it’s amazing what you learn whilst looking for other things), and led me to look at articles I wouldn’t else have found. Blogging has taught me the uses of social media. Not to mention the wide and supportive network of indie authors out there, the challenges we face and the joys and successes of writing and publishing. It can be daunting and lonely, especially when new to the arena, but the world of social media, is large indeed. And blogging can bring promotion, laughs, support, information, advice and a field as wide as the world if used correctly. It’s also a good diary, a good way of processing thoughts and organising things (unless you’re me) and a good sounding board.
Yippee for blogs! May there be many more posts to come.
Review- Judy: A Dog in A Million
The impossibly moving story of how Judy, World War Two’s only animal POW, brought hope in the midst of hell.
Judy, a beautiful liver and white English pointer, and the only animal POW of WWII, truly was a dog in a million, cherished and adored by the British, Australian, American and other Allied servicemen who fought to survive alongside her.
Viewed largely as human by those who shared her extraordinary life, Judy’s uncanny ability to sense danger, matched with her quick-thinking and impossible daring saved countless lives. She was a close companion to men who became like a family to her, sharing in both the tragedies and joys they faced. It was in recognition of the extraordinary friendship and protection she offered amidst the unforgiving and savage environment of a Japanese prison camp in Indonesia that she gained her formal status as a POW.
Judy’s unique combination of courage, kindness and fun repaid that honour a thousand times over and her incredible story is one of the most heartwarming and inspiring tales you will ever read.
If you only read one book in your life read this book. And have the tissues to hand, as you’ll need them!
A puppy born in Shanghai started her life of adventure and courage by running away from her siblings, mother and human carers. Judy was finally rescued and adopted by the Royal Navy as a ship’s mascot on HMS Gnat, and then patrolling the turbulent and dangerous waters of the Yangtze river, during the China/Japan conflicts. She fought pirates, gave early warning for hostiles and increased the morale on board. Later assigned to HMS Grasshopper Judy and her crewmates were engaged in warfare against the Japanese in World War Two and in 1942 the ship was torpedoed. Not only did Judy survive this but she pulled men to safety, found water on the largely hostile island the survivors of HMS Grasshopper and HMS Dragonfly found themselves and fought with local wildlife to protect her companions.
Judy and the soldiers trekked hundreds of miles – hoping to reach safety in Sumatra (then a British protectorate). They were too late, as it had fallen into Japanese hands.
Taken to a POW camp in Northern Sumatra the sailors, Judy included, were taken to the very pit of hell. One particular man shared his meagre rations with a starving dog and a life-long and incredibly close friendship was born. Smuggled out of one camp and into another via a sack on the back of her human (which saved Judy’s life) she again was a rescuer when the ship transporting the captives was torpedoed, with great loss of life. She dragged men towards what little floating wreckage there was, and pushed wood towards others when she was too exhausted to drag anyone else. The death count would undoubtedly have been higher that day if Judy had not been there.
The men were forced to work on the Pekanbaru Death Railway, and again Judy was there to keep soul and body together (such as there were then) and would even steal food from under the noses of the captors in order to help feed the starving, emaciated men she loved.
Primarily this is her story, but it’s also a story of human survival and the enormous capacity for love between humans and dogs. She kept man and mind together in the darkest days, with her love and her loyalty. More than one man is quoted in the book that they would not have survived those terrible months and years without her. Lives were risked by men and dog every day in the fight to survive, and the fight to stay together.
Awarded the Dicken Medal (the animal VC) for bravery the citation stated -“For magnificent courage and endurance in Japanese prison camps, which helped to maintain morale among her fellow prisoners and also for saving many lives through her intelligence and watchfulness.”
The author, clearly, has researched this book well, speaking to some of the remaining survivors of the terrible camps, and terrible days. She truly was ‘a dog in a million’.
For more information about the Dicken Medal – go here: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/what-we-do/animal-honours/the-dickin-medal
For more info on Judy’s remarkable life please see the links below.
For more information on the Pekanbaru railway (believe me it’s not easy reading). http://www.pekanbarudeathrailway.com/