Tag Archives: Amazon

Today’s the day!

At last the day has arrived!

‘The Cavalier Historian’  is now available in e-book form.

Cover_Kindle_front cover

If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy you can buy it now on
Amazon for Kindle and Smashwords for all other e-book formats

Civil war. Witchcraft. Persecution. Injustice.

Can Rob right a past wrong and save his future?

Marston Manor is an old manor house in Oxfordshire which the new owner plans to turn into a ‘themed’ attraction based on the years of the English Civil War.  When historian Robert Hardwick joins the project he is delighted to discover a family link with Marston dating back to the time of King Charles I and the witch persecutions of the 17th century.

But right from the start disturbing events raise mistrust and fear on the estate.  Who, or what, is trying to halt the plans for the Manor?  Can the disruption and sabotage be linked to the traveller camp in the woods or to the more sinister appearances of a ghostly old woman?  And just who is Rebekah, and why does she have such a hold over Rob?

In his haunted dreams Rob finds himself living through the turbulent years of the English Civil War, experiencing it all through the eyes of his ancestor, Simon. Dreams which begin gently enough in the days leading up to war in 1642 but which become ever more frightening, ending with the terrifying events of the witch trials of 1651.

The Cavalier Historian is a novel which follows characters separated by more than three centuries, living in the 17th century yet somehow linked through time to present day events.  Over the centuries they live through war and peace, experience love and loss, suffer fear and persecution yet, at the very end, is it possible for them to find hope for the future?

Book Review – ‘The Royalist’ and ‘The Protector’ by S J Deas

Unusually, I am recommending two books for you to read this month.

The Royalist‘The Royalist’ is the first book about William Falkland by S. J. Deas, set during the English Civil War. The main character, William Falkland, fought for the king but was captured and, as the novel opens, he is in prison awaiting execution. Falkland is led out, presumably to his death, but instead he has a surprising meeting with Oliver Cromwell who wants him to investigate some suspicious deaths in an army camp. To do what Cromwell wants is the only way that Falkland can save his own life, and return to his family.

‘The Royalist’ is a real page-turner, with many plot twists which keep you guessing to the very end. Are the deaths suicides, or something more sinister? What is the reason for Cromwell calling on a royalist to investigate, rather than one of his own men? Falkland finds the answers Cromwell wants (no spoilers here!) and is free to return to his family.

The Protector‘The Protector’ continues the story of William Falkland which began in ‘The Royalist’. Still searching for his family, Falkland is once more called upon by Cromwell, this time to investigate the disappearance of a woman – the sister of the renowned John Milton. Once again the author creates a compelling mystery. Why would someone kidnap Milton’s sister? Is it to silence the writer, or for some other reason? What happened to Ann’s husband? What secrets are hidden in a ruined manor house in Lincolnshire? Deas masterfully weaves a detective story with a picture of life during the English Civil War. Rather than a straight history, details of the war are revealed through conversations amongst the characters, as part of the plot rather than a telling of facts. Deas also conjures the feelings of insecurity, threat, suspense and suspicion which were rife in England at the time as friends, neighbours and families chose sides and fought for what they believed was right.

These two books about William Falkland are thoroughly enjoyable historical mysteries. The characters are well-rounded and totally believable. Falkland is a sympathetic hero, Milton is a complex character who draws out conflicting emotions in Falkland (and the reader!), Miss Cain is a resourceful woman who ably assists in the investigations, and the initially simple Warbeck turns out to be a more complex character than first imagined.

I thoroughly enjoyed the history and mystery in these two books, and hope that there will be more novels about William Falkland in the future.

I heartily recommend both books to you.

Mr Deas website can be found here

The Royalist can be found on Amazon

The Protector can be found on Amazon

You can find more of my Book Reviews here

Brand new Heronfield!

Heronfield has just undergone a professional proof-read and re-edit. There have been no changes to the storyline, but some sections  have been tightened up and a few minor grammatical errors corrected. My thanks to Maxine Linnell for an amazing piece of work. Living on different continents has not prevented us working well together; Maxine has a great understanding of my style and what I wanted – and has helped me to provide you with a great read.

If you have already purchased a Kindle version then you can download the new versions for free.

Print copies can be purchased from Lulu for just £12.99.

If you have a Kindle then take a look a Amazon where you can get a copy for just £2.99.

If you have any other type of ebook then buy your copy of Heronfield from Smashwords for £2.99.

Heronfield is a saga set in Europe during WWII following the interwoven lives of those who meet through Heronfield, a convalescent hospital. Life in the skies during the Battle of Britain, with the French Resistance, on the Home Front, in the push from D Day to final victory in Europe. Loyalty and love, anger and hatred, loss and betrayal – the characters of Heronfield bring the history of WWII to life.

At almost 295,000 words Heronfield is great value for money.

Her style of writing reminds me of Nevil Shute

Yet another 5* review for Heronfield.
However, in my mind, the number of stars is far outweighed by the very kind comment about my writing style.  To be likened to such a great author as Nevil Shute is truly an honour.  Thank you lizziep
5.0 out of 5 stars authentic, 1 Nov 2013 By lizziep
This review is from Amazon
Having read a number of books set in the war, I started to read this book with a certain amount of trepidation – too often authors are not able to convey the real sense of what it must have been like to be in that situation. “Heronfield” was a most ‘pleasant’ surprise (I use the word ‘pleasant’ in quotation marks as I have to admit that some of the descriptions were unpleasantly graphic – but even this added to the feeling of reality and authenticity) in that it was obvious that the author had not only spent a great deal of time researching her subject, but had complete immersed herself in it. From the descriptions of pre-war life in the big house, to the description of life in an interment camp, the whole novel had a feeling of authenticity and was able to indicate to me what it must have been like to have been alive during that whole dreadful period – not just a serving member of the forces, but also the civilians living (or existing) back at home and how they coped. Ms Balchin is a relatively new author, however, her style of writing reminds me very much of the style of Nevil Shute – an author I have gone back to time after time. I suspect that Ms Balchin will have a similar effect.

Is the Amazon Review system fair?

Many authors are questioning that validity of Amazon reviews at present. I can sympathise.

Some people who have read Heronfield, but not purchased it from Amazon, have tried to review the book but the reviews do not get posted. You can imagine my surprise then, on 2nd November 2013, to find a book to be published on 7th November 2013 already reviewed and ranked!

So what star rating does this unpublished book have?
10 reviews with an average of 4.1* On the kindle page Amazon states ‘This item has not been released yet and is not eligible to be reviewed. Reviews shown are from other formats of this item’. In fact it has not yet been released in any format and the reviews are from Amazon Vine. What is that you ask? Amazon says Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions’. 

Bearing in mind that the book has not yet been published Amazon shows a ranking (based presumably on pre-publication orders) of:
#558 Paid in Kindle Store
#4 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Fiction Classics
#10 in Books > Fiction > Classics
#12 in Books > Fiction > Romance > Historical

As an author, I know that I would like to get my books reviewed by as many people as possible, so I can hardly criticise someone else for feeling the same.  However, Amazon Vine does not appear to be available to self-published authors (please do feel free to contact me and  correct me if I’m wrong).  All I would argue for is a level playing-field for all authors.

What is your opinion?

Do you think this system is fair?

Can an unpublished book actually be regarded as a ‘classic’?

I would be interested to hear your views.

Finally though, as a new author, I recognise that no matter what system Amazon uses reviews are incredibly important for building the reputation of an author, and for sales. I would therefore like to thank the people who have been able to post reviews for Heronfield. I value your feedback to help me to become a better writer, and to produce other books that you might like to read as well.  All of your kind words and encouragement are much appreciated!

Another great review for Heronfield!

If you want action, adventure, romance, and history all rolled in to one absorbing read give this a go.

4.0 out of 5 stars I’d give this 4.5 stars if I could!
31 Oct 2013
By Sarah
Another book I downloaded to my Kindle while listed as free, and while I very rarely give 5 star reviews this almost managed it! Set during WWII Heronfield is set in a stately home that is commandeered for the war effort. I’d almost class this as an epic saga, we cover the whole of WWII with the characters but without ever feeling like it’s dragging.
I found Tony’s central story line pretty gripping and was really annoyed when the other characters interrupted, then almost couldn’t bear to leave them to get back to Tony!
I love my books to be character driven and this ticks the box, however there is a huge amount of historical fact woven in to the novel, the author explains this in the preface and it’s worked into the fictional story line quite well. Some of the historical info is less necessary to the plot but it does give an idea of the scale of the conflict and is interesting.
There was nothing really wrong with the story but I’m not a huge fan of massive literary coincidences and two of the male characters run into each other towards the end rather conveniently. I’ll say no more as I don’t want to give anything away but the world is a big place so it lost half a star for that.
This is a self published novel so don’t expect perfection, having said that though it has been written to a very high standard and I would highly recommend even the paid version as you get a lot of book for your buck. I believe that the author’s website states the book is being given a professional edit and I think it will benefit a little from the final polish.
If you want action, adventure, romance, and history all rolled in to one absorbing read give this a go.

Thank you Sarah for your great review on Amazon. I understand what you say about ‘literary coincidences’, they can sometimes spoil a good story. I did a great deal of detailed research for the book and would just like to put your mind at rest – The SS did send people who did that type of work to ‘that place’ towards the end of the war; the other character was with a unit that was in the area on that day. So while it was a big coincidence, it was not impossible that they would meet there!

For anyone who has not read Heronfield and wonders what that is all about – maybe you’re missing out on something!

Another 5* Amazon review for Heronfield!

Thank you for your kind words P J Sowler. Your comments have been noted and Heronfield is back with a very experienced proofreader/copy editor. Fingers crossed that the changes will be available in print for Christmas! Please do update your Kindle version in the new year.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful! October 25, 2013
By P J Sowler
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

What a fantastic read. Just the sort of story I like. Set in WW2 it not only gives plenty of facts but a great story too with the right balance between the two. My only criticism is that it could have been edited better but certainly didn’t spoil it for me. More please.

Get your free copy of Heronfield for Kindle today!

Today is the first day of my free give-away of Heronfield for Kindle!
Please do grab yourself a copy – I hope you enjoy it.
If you would like to write a review and let everyone know what you thought of the book it would be much appreciated.
Happy reading!

Should a new author self publish? A brief introduction to self-publishing an ebook.

Just a few years ago the question ‘should a new author self-publish’ would have received a very different answer to the one I am giving today. In the past you would have exchanged the term ‘vanity publish’ for ‘self-publish’, and that is a whole different kettle of fish.

There are still plenty of vanity publishing companies out there – do an internet search and you will find yourself inundated with names. So, is vanity publishing a good idea? It was the only way to self-publish when I first contemplated the idea and, personally, the thought of paying a substantial amount of money to have my book published and then to have to sell copies myself from ‘door to door’ so to speak did not appeal to me and I decided not to go down that route. That left me with the usual task of trying to find an agent who would then try to find a publisher which, for many, is an unfruitful search; even some of the most famous authors have had their books rejected time and time again by agents. Finding an agent and publisher, then getting the book published is also a very long-winded process and it could take a year or two for you to see your book in print (assuming you can get an agent in the first place of course!) Self-publishing an ebook is much more appealing for many a new author who wants to see their book out there in weeks or months not years!

With the development of technology over the last few years ‘self-published’ now takes on a whole new meaning, I really can publish my work myself, and it is an exhilarating experience. The question now becomes ebook, print or both?

There are many options out there. Again an internet search will leave your mind reeling and you will begin to wonder where to start, or maybe even whether to start. I’ve been through all that and would say that if you are happy with your writing and think that other people will be interested in it then get out there and have a go. It need not cost you anything so if you make a mistake – so what? It was an experience to learn from and build upon.

I will begin with the ebook market today. When I decided to self-publish my novel ‘Heronfield’ I looked at all of the options and decided to publish through two companies. Amazon and Smashwords.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
I decided to go with KDP because, like it or not, everyone the world over knows Amazon so if your book is sold there you are likely to get far more people stumbling across it, and hopefully that will lead to far more sales.

You can hire a company to help you format your book for KDP, or you can have a go yourself. I would not call myself an IT expert, but with a little time and patience I was able to format Heronfield and have it accepted by KDP at the first attempt. If I can do it anyone can! KDP provide a clear guide on how to format the book, just follow that and everything should be OK.

That is fine for the manuscript, but as your book will be seen on the internet you will need a cover, and it will need to be attractive and attention grabbing. If people are not intrigued by your cover they will quickly move on to something else so, unless you are a great artist, I would advise you to get an expert in to do it for you, it is well worth the cost.

Before you click the button to publish take a look at the Kindle Select Programme. If you choose this you are committing to sell exclusively on Amazon for a period of time and allowing people to download your book from the Kindle library; you will receive a payment for this. Weigh up carefully if this is the route you want to go – then make sure you click on the appropriate button!

Before you know it you will have a book for sale on Amazon!

That takes care of Amazon and Kindle, but what of other formats? Do you want people with a Nook or iPad to be able to read you book? I looked long and hard at the different formats I would need and I must admit I found it daunting. That is why I decided to publish on Smashwords.

Smashwords was a pioneer in ebook publishing and is currently the largest distributor of self-published ebooks. It is easy to format your work, just make sure that your Word document is formatted as described in the Smashwords guide then upload it and their ‘Meatgrinder’ tool does all the hard work of formatting it for different ebooks for you. Upload your cover as well and you are ready to go – you can sell on Smashwords and also have them distribute to other ebook sellers for you. Suddenly you find your book for sale on Barnes & Noble, Apples iBooks, Sony Kobo etc. etc. – all from one upload!

So, there you go, you have a self-published ebook in multiple formats and it didn’t hurt a bit! But do you have your ISBN? The ISBN is a unique identification number for your book, and you need a different one for each format – print, Kindle etc. This is another of those things that a first-time self-publisher can find daunting; Smashwords has a good guide to ebook ISBNs which you might find useful if you need to take a more in-depth look at this topic.

Most companies will issue an ISBN when they publish your work (either free as part of the package price), or you can purchase your own list of ISBNs and issue them to your work each time you publish something new or in a new format. Be aware though that whoever issues the ISBN will be listed as the publisher. If you want to be your own publisher rather than Smashwords, KDP or someone else then you will need to buy your own ISBNs.

This is something that you need to look at carefully when putting your book on the market and setting the price. Smashwords and KDP can give anything between 60% and 80% depending on different criteria, so read their guides carefully. Whatever you get it is likely to be much higher than any royalties made through traditional publishing.

So, there you have it. I took a deep breath and decided to self-publish, and thoroughly enjoyed the process! For me KDP and Smashwords do what I want at the moment but I may decide on a different approach in the future. If this article has encouraged you to try the self-publishing route then please remember to look at other companies and formats too before making your choice.

Good luck and let me know when your book is out there!

(I plan to do a short blog on self-publishing in print soon so watch this space).

Another five star review for Heronfield

Thank you to AS for the review which can be found on my Review page along with others.

Here is what was said:

Review by AS

A real page turner I would give it 5 stars *****

I have tried to review this book on Amazon but so far my review hasn’t appeared so I will do it here.

I was given a copy of Heronfield as a gift and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know much about the Second World War but found that I learned a lot from this story through the experiences of the characters. I liked the short linking passages which showed how this story fitted into the world situation at the time but without any loss of pace.

I was impressed with the way the author carefully created her characters so that they could each portray one aspect of the war – fighter pilot, nurse, secret agent, the French Resistance, the Americans in Britain, the concentration camps – yet their lives were all carefully linked and interwoven in a very uncontrived way. The main storyline was very ‘real’ in the way it showed how duty and misunderstanding must cause problems in war time situations. I found myself really rooting for the two main characters and it was hard to put the book down!

All in all, a very enjoyable read which I would thoroughly recommend.

(Hopefully Amazon will soon be showing all reviews posted!)