Indie Block Party – Post 8 Social Media and Networking

Indie block party small The last post of the Indie Block Event discusses Social Media and Networking.

Social networking is important to authors, especially indies, for the World Wide Web gives a reach further than ever before.  However such a beast should be treated with caution, for it has teeth and may bite back.  It is useful to remember what is posted on the internet stays on the internet.

Listed below are some examples of the good and bad behaviour when dealing with social media, and suggestions of what might and might not work for you.

Spam. No one likes spam, well except Monty Python. There are many ways to promote a book online, but don’t overdo it. I made this mistake shortly after I released my first book but learned quickly form my mistake. Of course you want people to know about your shiny book, and preferably buy it but it is easy to look like a pain in the arse. BUY MY BOOK in every statement on every group on Facebook and people will soon switch off. It is a difficult to know how much is too much, but think about this – how do YOU feel when you see people trying to sell you things all the time? Check the forum/group rules before posting up promo and try and interact.

Share. Share articles, blog posts (hint) and advice. Listen to advice as well as take it. Some people find something which works for them, many don’t but often just chatting with other authors can provide enlightenment. Other writers do not have to be rivals, the market is VERY large. If you have the time to join events then they are a good way to meet writers and readers.

Facebook.  This CAN be useful, there are more groups about writing, reading and books than I thought possible. As with most things some are better than other, (see below). Many let authors promote, many such as Unblocked Writers Group only allow promotion on specific days, which means on the other days the processes of writing (plus many other things) are discussed.  There is a lot of useful advice. (See sharing above)

Authors Helping Authors is another good group, again promo is limited but does vary. Facebook pages, Goodreads listopia, books, freepost weekend, but again there are a lot of useful articles and support.

There are plenty of promotional groups too, which tend to be free for all. I am lazy, I rarely scroll down to the lower posts so if they are just pages of spam (funny image) then I tend to switch off.  Promo interspersed with other articles is more likely to catch my attention. Try and alternate your promotion. Saying the same thing on 50 websites probably won’t help.

I HAVE bought books from Facebook promotions and I have also sold a few that way.  It can work but it really depends on audience and manner of promoting.  There are also paid ads, although how successful these might be I cannot comment.  It is certainly worth getting an author page of some sort there.

Goodreads. I like Goodreads, I spend far too much time there.  It is primarily a group for READERS and this needs to be taken into account. There are plenty of readers who will object to having an author’s book shoved under their nose.  Authors can get an author account, which allows for a blog, limited librarian status as regards adding your own books to the substantial database and, I believe there are paid for ads there too.

As with Facebook, be careful. A lot of the groups don’t allow any sort of author promotion and those that do usually ask authors stick to the relevant threads.  Readers can shelve books, and of course there are reviews. The reviews permissible are …wider than Amazon and as long as they don’t breach guidelines then anything goes, which is not always a good thing, but it does allow for a wide ranging mix of reviews and a lot of Goodreads folk review. There are groups for read and reviews, recommendations, Book of the Month, Author of the Week etc. so can be useful for promotion as well as finding other authors to hang out with and readers. I found Book of the Month particular useful, both as an author and a reader.

Interviews/Guest posts. These can be a lot of fun and a good way to meet new authors. A lot of bloggers run these and blog hops are popular. Spend some time on the answers and vary them, no one wants to read the same interview on seven different blogs. Running interviews on your own blog can be worthwhile as well. New fans, new followers and widening your network is never a bad thing. I have to say before I started running author interviews I wasn’t really that bothered about the authors themselves. It can bring an author closer to the reader, of course, this can back fire. If the author sounds an utter arse or dull as dishwater then they won’t do themselves any favours. I now find I like to read the interviews.

Blogging. My blog is fairly new and I was hesitant to get one as I spend too much time online as it is, I also wasn’t sure what to write.  As mentioned earlier it is not just about the book, a blog is an aspect of the writer, another side if you like and a good way of getting followers who may then check out the books. It is good writing practice and the research needed for articles can be most helpful.

Blogs can provide all sorts of opportunities and although some time is needed to maintain them that is time well spent.  I have found new contacts, written articles I would not have considered before and found useful links.

I have noticed, far more people look at the reviews, reader interviews and non-promo posts than the promo-related ones.


Vary your networking, no one social networking site covers all eventualities.  Each is useful in its own way but together they are more powerful and will reach a larger audience.

Don’t post anything you might later regret. Whilst it is tempting to rant about that reviewer leaving you a one star review, your boss, your neighbour or whatever often it will backfire. For writers we are judged not only by the books we write but our interaction with others.   Bloggers and social networkers share posts and articles and what is said in anger could soon be all over the internet.

You get out what you put in. This is obvious, if you have a blog and never post people will stop following you. If you only go online to spam then you are likely to alienate people. Mixing and matching is a fun game to play.

Do not feed the trolls. Trolls are there and love to be fed. Some people thrive on making nasty comments or winding others up to do so. Ignore them.

Find two or three networks which suit you. Spread yourself too thinly and either you will spend all your time networking and no time writing or one post every three months won’t do you much good. Less is more.

Useful sites, blog posts and links:  Authors Helping Authors. Unblocked Writers Group.

Indie Block Party Post 7 – Writing Tips and Advice

Indie block party small

This week focuses more on sharing advice and resources than actively promoting our own books. Hopefully we can all learn from these tips and find useful links and suggestions. Most of the authors I meet are a supportive and helpful lot, which is just as well as writing itself can be quite lonely and frustrating. I have learned a great deal, and made new friends within the writing community. Shared information is valuable, knowledge is power.

Share your most helpful writing tips and advice. What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started writing?

New writers are given an awful lot of information, much of it contradictory and it is very difficult to know the good advice from the bad. Experience is a great teacher!

Here are my top 6 tips:

1)    Keep writing. This is seems to be consistent advice from all the sources I have seen. A single book is great but it is hard to build a fan base with just one title and if readers like your work they may well look out for other articles and stories. I do as a reader. As your writing experience grows you will learn what works and what doesn’t. Write for anthologies, write for your blog or someone else’s or write for research. Yahoo Voices have many interesting blog-type articles and it is a way to build a fan base. Researching for your novel? Great, use that research to help others. There are lots of anthologies looking for submissions (see links below) and some pay, although some don’t. Even the free ones are useful in getting your name out there and are writing practice.

2)    Have a thick skin, you will need it. There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like your book, will be offended by it, hate the characters or simply not get it. We do not all like the same things, if we did the world would be boring indeed.  Bad reviews hurt, but most books have at least one and unless the reviewer has a personal issue with the author (which occasionally happens) then it is one opinion. Reviews are just that – opinions, which can be as varied as the books they discuss.

No writer likes to be told their book sucks and it can be hard to deal with. One of the best pieces of advice is don’t comment, or if you feel you must then be polite, thank the reviewer for their comments and move on. Commenting, especially negatively will do far more harm, go and rant to your best friend, yell at the wall, go for a walk and release that is one person’s opinion only. The next reviewer may love the book. Even negative reviews, except the spiteful ones, have useful advice.

It is hard to work out how much store readers put on reviews, many do look and most simply filter out those which either say nothing or the obviously spiteful or overly gushing ones, but in a couple of studies I have done reviews are surprisingly low on the scale. A good cover, a synopsis which pulls in the reader and recommendations from friends seem more important. If the book is selling don’t worry too much.

3)    Write the book you want to write. Now I am sure other writers might disagree with this tip but not all. Forcing a story to work, editing out important plot ideas or making characters do something they wouldn’t do may well make the story weaker. Write the book YOU want to read. Would you enjoy it? If the answer is yes then go with it. A forced plot will show itself to be just that.  It may depend on whether you are intending to self-publish or whether you are intending to submit to a publishing house of course and whether you intend to get an editor.

4)    Write the best book you can. No book is perfect. Even best sellers have typos which slip through, weak plots or naff characters. However if you are an indie the threshold seems to be higher…there are plenty of posts and threads berating indie self-published books as being substandard. In some cases this is true, we have all seen them but there are very many books which are great, yes some may be a little rough around the edges but the good stories and talent are out there. There are plenty of traditionally published books which are awful. That said releasing a book full of typos, terrible grammar and weak plot/characters is not advisable. Spellcheckers are useful, but invest in a dictionary, a thesaurus and a writing guide. If you can find beta readers or critique groups then do so.

If you decide to self-edit then put the manuscript aside for a while and write (or read) something new. You will see the work with fresher eyes. I know from experience I see what I think is there not what IS there. If you can afford an editor then it is advisable to consider it, but there are great books which have been self-edited. If you choose this route be thorough, it may take several passes through. Although earlier I said write the book YOU want you do need to be strict when editing. It is easy to get carried away and go off on a tangent. Does the scene add to the story/characterisation/world-building? No – then lose it.

5)    Research and plausibility. This is rather dependent on genre of course but willing suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Fantasy gives a lot of scope, especially magic but it still needs to be consistent. Research gives the writer credibility, if you say something works which we KNOW doesn’t work in that way then at the least back it up in the story with some plausibility, or better still find something which people know does work that way. Gravity is gravity. Research medieval battle, weapons and armour, field medicine, herb-lore and such like if you are planning a fight. Movie fight scenes look great visually but aren’t really that accurate. What damage DOES a long sword do? What IS the range of a long bow. You needn’t go into too much detail in the book, but knowing if your archer can hit that bad-guy lurking in the Dark-lord’s tower is helpful. Books can educate, and encourage people to research for themselves, especially if set in a certain time period but accuracy is the key. Of course many readers won’t go on to research or have any interest in the origins of the long bow, the war horse but some might. Besides research is great, it is amazing what you can discover!

6)    READ THE DAMN MANUAL! Really I mean it. Spend a bit of time not only reading writing guides but the FAQ of KDP, Smashwords, Lulu or wherever it is you choose to publish. It will make life a lot easier. There are several free books available – ‘Publish your work on Kindle’, ‘How to Publish on Smashwords’ for example. Most of the sites have extensive guidelines and forums. That is another thing most people have struggled with whatever it is you are struggling with so search the forums for answers. You are now a business person as well as a writer and it helps to know what to do.

What do I wish I had known at the beginning? Marketing is HARD. Where is the line between being a spammy needy author and promoting in such a way that people will check out your books and not be annoyed? Well that depends on who you ask…some people hate any mention of the product, some don’t mind a small amount and some say as much as you can do is the way to go. If I find the right level I will let you know.

World Building:

Writing generally:

Related articles

Indie Blog Party Reading, Reviews and Recommendations posts 5 and 6.

Indie block party smallDon’t tell anyone but I am going to cheat and post 2 activities for the Indie Block Party as one post. Activities 5 and 6 are to talk about current reading and to recommend our top 5 books, seemed sensible to me to post them together.

I like to read, I always have and my tastes are fairly wide. Reading is a great pleasure and a great privilege for it is only reasonably recently that woman and common folks have had the opportunity to be literate, and it is still the case in many places people cannot read because they are simply too poor or have not the education to do so.  A couple of hundred years ago it is unlikely someone like me, who would not have been from a high-born family would have been educated.

Reading is something taken for granted in the Western world but not everyone likes or is able to read even in the relatively prosperous West. I cannot imagine that part of my life being missing.

So WHAT is it I am reading now and what have I just finished?

I have just finished I, the Sun  (author Janet Morris) – a historical biography recounting the life of King Suppiluliumas, King of the Hittites, which was absolutely amazing! Here is the link to the review

I cannot praise this book highly enough, although it is not for the faint-hearted. I spent quite a bit of time looking at websites about this king, his family and the Hittites and am hoping to find the time to get back into studying history. History teaches us about the past, it teaches us about the future and it teaches us about ourselves.  One thought which occurred to me when I was reading was 3000 plus years on and that region of the world is still at war, still unsettled, and although the battles now are fought with different weapons and slightly different reasons unrest still rumbles around like thunder in the hills.

Being the sort of reader who has a couple of books on the go I am also reading ‘I never knew that about the English’ which is a lighthearted book full of interesting facts about English counties, famous folk and buildings. It is easy bed time reading and quite informative with a paragraph or so about each entry.

The product description on Amazon is this: ‘A wonderful miscellany of great stories and interesting facts about the English’.

Kindle-wise I am about to start which is the Indie Club group read for August. I will post a review when done.

What am I planning next? One of my reading challenges for this year is to reread the complete Cadfael series of which I have read 10 to date, next in  line is ‘The Pilgrim of Hate‘ but as I have one of the three book-chronicles I may read all 3 .

For anyone interested in these who is not familiar Cadfael is a 12th Century Benedictine monk residing in Shrewsbury and solver of mysteries. The stories are relatively formulaic but the period of history, the civil war between Empress Maud (Matilida) and King Stephen for the throne of England is an interesting backdrop and an integral part of the books. Certainly worth checking out for lovers of historical mystery.

I also have a LONG list of fantasy, a fantasy to beta read and another, equally large pile of historical fiction.

The second part of this post are my top 5 recommendations…only 5! How do I choose!

1) Lord of the Rings

2) The Count of Monte Christo

3) The Phantom of the Opera

4) 1, the Sun

5) Schindler’s List.

Indie wise – Dragon Fate and Dragon Blade by JD Hallowell

The Dreamweaver’s Journey – By Diana L Wicker (YA Fantasy)

Viridis by Calista Taylor (Steam Punk Erotic Romance)

Indie-wise is much harder but I think thus far the War of the Blades series (Dragon Fate and Dragon Blade

My reader interview can be found here:

For anyone following the Indie Block Party Event posts to follow will cover social media and writing tips.

Indie Blog Party Post 4 – Author Interview Allie Jean

Indie block party smallThe fourth activity in the Indie Blog Party is to have an interview with a neighbour in the block. I am very happy to chat with Allie Jean, author of Supernatural Romance.

Author Bio: Allie Jean was born with an overactive imagination. She spent her childhood inventing stories and telling tales. Her mind never shut down, even while she slept. Vivid dreams containing extensive, elaborate plot lines of good overcoming evil villains captured her nightly visions, lingering into her waking hours and filling the pages of her well-loved bounded diaries. She was encouraged by her parents, even at a young age, to write down her tales, and it has remained a somewhat secret hobby. As a busy wife, mother and critical care nurse, Allie’s love of storytelling has been reborn through the adventures of her unforgettable characters. 

Please tell us a little about yourself. I am a registered nurse in a local ICU. I have been a writer since I was very young. With the encouragement of some very good friends of mine, I entered my novel into a competition hosted by The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House and was offered a publishing contract for my series. The rest is history.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write a New Adult Supernatural Romance series featuring Chantal Breelan, a girl who has suffered horrific nightmares throughout her life. She was taken from her family at a very young age and doesn’t remember much about her past. She suffers from anxiety due to the dreams, and confides in a shadow that is shaped like a man that sits in her room late at night. She is scared to sleep so feeling like someone is there watching over her gives her comfort. Until the dreams become real, and the shadows reveal a whole new world and the secret to her legacy.

Where can readers find your book? Amazon, Barnes & Noble internationally. Also at through the publishing house, iTunes, Kobo…

How long have you been writing and what made you choose the genre in which you write? I actually write multiple genres, but my favorite is the young adult/new adult supernatural romances. I love the genuine love stories that have to make it through tough times. And I love what this genre has done for the young teenagers today because it has encouraged more readers. Hollywood seems to love this genre as well, if the box office titles are anything to go by.

Who or what are your inspirations/influences? Chantal actually suffers from a lot of the dreams I had as a child. I had night terrors up until I was about 12 years old, and I thought what a better way to use that experience than to make my own series out of it. LOL

Can you name a positive experience from your writing and a negative one? Obviously winning the competition and being offered a contract was pretty awesome. I’d have to say that going through my first edits left me doubting myself as a writer. But it was like giving child birth. All the hard work pays off in the end.

With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? Yes, the house offers paperback versions of our books. I actually prefer a book rather than my kindle because I like the feeling and smell of the paper. It is hard to have a success in sales with paperbacks when the e-book is so much cheaper.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? I do a little of both. I’ll put on a movie and watch it sometimes, or watch my kids swim in the pool while I write. Just depends on what I have going on in my life.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Books are fuel for the imagination!!! Movies and video games are based on someone else’s imagination, and I love how I can make up the characters in my own mind while I’m reading. I do think it’s cool to see characters come to life on the big screen sometimes, with some exceptions.

What advice would you give new writers?  Write how YOU see it. I was given that advice by author Cassandra Clare and it has helped me so much in my writing. I visualize what scene I’m writing, like on a movie screen, and I write what I see.

Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? Mostly I stick to books in my own genre because I love the romance and enchantment of it. But I do travel outside every once in a while.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? Um, I’m double jointed it my shoulder. I can rotate my arms without moving my hands.

If you are having a sale, new book release do please mention it.  Book #2 of the Dreamer Series will be out this October.

If you would like to check out Allie’s book or author pages please look here:

Author Contact Links







Buying Links




Barnes & Noble


Indie Block Party – Post 3 – Work in Progress.

Indie block party small One of the activities suggested for the Indie Blog Party was a brief mention of our Works in Progress. As some of you may know my second novel – The Shining Citadel – was released at the end of May. I had hoped to release it before but due to personal circumstances, including the death of my mother from cancer about a year ago work on that book was delayed.

There was also the matter of changing the ending…which of course means subsequent ideas also have to change.   I am not a planner, I am a ‘pantser’ so more often than not the stories go the way they want to go. I see the beginning and the end but the middle is negotiable, this is within the over-reaching story arc which lives in my head and pokes me at inconvenient moments. Thus book 3 has been tricky. The initial idea I decided was not workable (after about 10 chapters) so I shelved it to work on at a later date in a different guise. Then I came up with this awesome idea…which isn’t… That one may become a short story but until I can work out the holes it goes to live in the “misbehaving story” folder.

So book 3 – well after much contemplating, bouncing ideas around with my sounding board I have found a way of making my original plot for book 3 work. At least I hope so. Book 3 doesn’t yet have a title and is very much a work in progress but IF all goes according to plan will follow on from the events of The Shining Citadel, in the quest for allies, knowledge and magic. Archos and Dii will not feature so prominently but they will feature, and may well have some excitement themselves during the course of the main story. The plan is to follow the adventure of the trolls, Talfor (who was an important character in book 2),  and his his sister Mirandra, who must undergo a rite-of-passage to prove her worthiness to lead her tribe. Of course the adventure is not going to be straight-forward and what they find may have profound influence on later events. The trolls have a complex culture, matrilineal in nature and this will be explored in a world which in many places male dominated.

Book 2 left a few threads untied and these will be picked up in later books, and I am planning some short stories with minor characters both new and established so they should be fun.

I am also working on a collection of short erotica stories the first of which should appear reasonably soon. So if this is to your liking look out for announcements.

Both poetry and short fantasy stories will appear in the next month or so in a couple of anthologies, one of which is a charity event to raise money for a premature baby charity and one which will be a free anthology from a collection of fantasy and sci-fi authors who publish on Smashwords. Again please look here for announcements.

I have just published the large print edition of Book 1 via createspace and book 2 will be along soon. The formatting is …rather fickle so it is taking longer than I anticipated.


Indie Block Party…Character Interview.

Indie block party smallOne of the suggestions for activities for the Indie Block Party was a Character Interview. It was hard, believe me. I wasn’t sure which character to interview, not wanting to end up with spoilers and poor Dii’Athella has had such a difficult life it didn’t seem appropriate.

So here is an interview with my main male character – Lord Archos of Tremellic.

Archos is a mage, and a powerful one. He is quite old (how old gets revealed in book 2) and certainly doesn’t look his age. He is handsome, with long grey-flecked blonde hair, storm-grey eyes and the rest… well find out for yourself.

What was your life like growing up?

I was born during a time of great upheaval, the Plague was rife and the Order of Witch-Hunters imposed martial law. Needless to say as my father was a sorcerer and I was a Skychild we were hunted. I always knew who I was and was not ashamed of it, but even with our wealth life was often difficult. I recall more than one occasion when we had to flee with little more than the packs we could carry. We were very lucky in our friends and allies. Yet no family was left untouched by the wars and the darkness which covered the land. Kin and friends risked their lives to shelter us and some paid the price.

How would you describe your personality? I am the Lord of the Storm, my moods reflect that.

Who are your closest friends? Olek, my faithful Olek. I found him in a condemned cell and his skills were useful to me. More than that he is shrewd, loyal and a close companion. There is nothing with which I would not trust him. He would die for me and I for him.  We have been friends for many years and he has taught me a great deal. I recognise talent and potential, Olek is a very talented thief and assassin but he is also clever. He will put up with my moods uncomplaining, will offer advice when it is needed but unwanted and still care enough to risk my wrath. I am not an easy man to live with. Of course there is my beloved Dii’Athella but more about her later.

Who do you love? My beautiful Dii’Athella, my pretty flower. I loved her the moment I saw her image, the moment I felt her magic.  Even after such a terrible life she is kind and gentle, clever and brave.  My beautiful elven girl makes me a better man.

Who do you hate, and why? I hate the Order of Witch-Hunters and I hate slavers. The Order take life simply because a person happens to be an elf, or born with magic. All they do is for the Order not for the population at large but they hold the people in so much fear their rule is law. Slavers, foul traders of flesh. Destroyers of family, they take people for gold, treat them worse than cattle. The hatred within me burns but they will fall. Erana will be free.

What do you collect? Magical artefacts, books and antiques. I try to preserve what I can from the old world. Lore and history are our past. So much has been lost, and so much taken. That which remains should be protected.


Indie Block Party

Just over 30  authors are participating in this ‘indie block party’ get together.  It is a mixed bag of goodies so please support the other blogs and pay a visit.  contains the complete list of blogs.

#IndieBP for liking and sharing:)

19-24th August:  Indie block party smallAuthors will introduce themselves for newcomers, information about books and Works in Progress, character interviews and guest interviews from neighbours.

25-30th August: Bloggers chat about they books they are currently reading, their top 5 recommended books, writing tips and social networking tips.

It is a great way to meet new folk, find new books and blogs and perhaps pick up some tips.

So here I go….

Introduce yourself….

  • Why did you start writing? Both reading and writing are a good form of escapism, and a great way to discover new worlds, new people and new outlooks. I love creating new worlds and new lives… maybe it is a craving for power…
  • How long have you been writing? As I said I have always loved to read so I suppose I have been making up stories and poems for almost as long. I can’t remember not having something creative on the go. At school I was often asked to write a short story or poem for the class display. Always an imaginative child I had my fair share of imaginary friends…now they live in my books.
  • What is your favourite genre? My reading tastes are quite varied. I love fantasy, some sci-fi, historical fiction (which I am currently reading), erotica, true crime, mystery and history. I read romance too but I prefer historical or fantasy romance to contemporary.  I enjoy the classics and many of these have had a profound effect on me, and my writing.
  • What is your blog about? My blog is about reading, writing and “all things wordy”.  I am running a series of interviews with other authors, and with readers and reviewers. The reader interviews are fascinating; I know what I enjoy in a book but what about the next person. If reviews are anything to go by an author cannot please everyone. Some readers seem to think world-building is important, others prefer strong characters, some hate info dumps, some love them. Reviews play a lesser role on how readers find their books than you would think but there seems to be no hard and fast rule on what works. As a writer this is useful information, as a reader…I am nosy. Please feel free to check out the interviews.
  • The blog also features a series of articles and interviews with readers and authors who have some form of restricted vision. I decided to blog about this as my father’s sight is now very limited due to a combination of age and a long standing injury. I remember him struggling to get large print books from the library and struggling through non-large print books, even though he enjoys reading.  He is not technical and a tablet or kindle is not an option. A good friend is also of low vision and she too finds the choices rather limited.
  • My books are also mentioned on the blog, of course.
  • Plus there are photos and shared articles which interest me.
  • What do you do when you’re not writing? I read a lot. I watch TV and movies, especially fantasy, sci-fi and films in which stuff blows up and the heroes do very improbable things.
  • I used to play a lot of RPGs but since the group had to stop playing I haven’t really got back into it.  I am considering writing an RPG for my world or resurrecting the system I wrote a while ago.
  • I also play PC games if my back problems allow it. Yes I am a geek;) (my author interview)