Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Has Dark Steps been one of your Goodreads this year?

Do you use Goodreads? If you do, you can find me and Dark Steps on there - here's a widget that will help you do exactly that.

Dark Steps

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Ah, Kobo! At last we meet...

After a very long wait (due to a backlog, I am reliably informed), Dark Steps has finally made it onto Kobo. Look - here it is.

I'm excited by this. Not because I expect a deluge of sales from Kobo but because, following their recent tie-up, this presumably means my little book will eventually be available from W H Smith. And this excites me because, as a child, W H Smith was where I did a lot of my book buying - there and in the excellent but now defunct Albion Bookshop. So the prospect of being sold by W H Smith makes me feel more like a proper author. Silly, I know, but true.

Note I said "presumably" though. Dark Steps isn't on the Smith's website yet. I'm expecting another backlog...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

New cover art for Dark Steps

Dark Steps has new cover art!

The third edition of Dark Steps features the new design, shown right, which hopefully will help the book stand out a bit more.

To ensure a bit of continuity from the artwork from previous editions (which you can see here), I've stuck with a broadly similar palette of colours, and have used the same story from within the book (Waiting Room) as inspiration for the picture, specifically the EARN YOUR PLACE slogan.

So what do you think? Better? Worse? Hopefully the former, as the new cover will start filtering through to various outlets from today, and is already live on Lulu. Experience suggests Amazon will be next, and then all the channels that are fed by Smashwords.

P.S. In case you were wondering about the second edition... it fixed a solitary typo.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Three copies for the price of two!

I know, you love Dark Steps that much you want to get copies for all your friends and family for Christmas. Great! Then today's the day to place your orders, because if you use promo code BUY2GETONEUK305 over at Lulu (offer ends at midnight) you can get three copies of Dark Steps (and, indeed, anything else you want to buy at Lulu) for the price of two.

Go! Shop!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas comes early

Thinking of buying Dark Steps, my collection of short fiction? Well now could be the time, because from today until Christmas you can use the promo code EN69V at Smashwords to secure a whopping 17% off the price.

That's right - 17%. That's like saying one sixth of the words are free... what are you waiting for?

Note: this code only works at Smashwords, and only for buying Dark Steps, and only up to and including 24th December.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dark Steps reviewed at Sabotage (or, 'on being reviewed')

My collection of short fiction, Dark Steps, has been reviewed by Ian Chung for Sabotage. Like all the best reviews, it isn't a breathless love song to the book, neither is it a hatchet job. Ian has written a balanced, fair review in which he, knowingly or otherwise, adheres to the 'feedback sandwich' approach of couching constructive criticism within praise.

Of course all such critiques are subjective. I don't necessarily agree with everything Ian says, but equally he does raise some interesting and valid points. And no, I'm not just talking about the discussion of things in the book that he likes.

Now being the author (and, for Dark Steps, editor, cover artist, agent, promoter, manager, chief cook and bottle-washer), I am naturally going to cherry-pick the best bits out of the review, and use them whenever and wherever I can. Things like:
When the techniques [narrator-reader gap and ending with a twist] succeed, the outcome is masterful.
And:
...the surprise reveal ... forces the reader to rethink the significance of everything that has just been read.
And I'm going to ignore some bits too. You can cherry-pick those for yourself.

All in all though, Ian's review makes for very interesting reading, and I am grateful to him and Sabotage for its publication. Have you read Dark Steps yet? How does the review equate to your impression of the book? I'd love to know. You can comment below or after the review itself, which you can find here.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

25% off at Lulu

Until 28th November you can get 25% off site-wide at Lulu... and that means you can pick up a paperback copy of Dark Steps for the tiny sum of £2.36 plus postage. Bargain! Just enter the promo code CYBERWEEKUK305 at checkout and Bob's your uncle.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The thing about writing is...

I know not all writers will agree with this view, but sharing something you've written with the world is hard. No, not brain surgery hard, or rocket science hard, but emotionally hard. You invest time, effort, energy and yourself into something, struggle to find the time and words to get it down on paper, and then have to sit back while others decide whether it's any good.

There's a line in the excellent Black Swan Green by David Mitchell that captures it perfectly. Our protagonist, Jason, has just shown the eccentric Madame Crommelnyck some of his poetry. And this is his reaction.
I felt giddy with importance that my words had captured the attention of this exotic woman. Fear, too. If you show someone something you've written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin and say, "When you're ready."
And that's exactly how it feels, for me at least. Sticking your head up above the parapet in the full expectation of being knocked down.

Publishing Dark Steps was therefore a big thing for me, a literal dark step into uncomfortable and scary territory. So far, the reviews have been kind. And I'm actively searching for book review websites and blogs that will publish a review of my little book. It's hard though - lots won't take what is, effectively, a self-published book. Others are so swamped with submissions that they've temporarily closed their doors. Others will write reviews for money, and I'm definitely not going there. I have a couple of irons in the fire though, so hopefully something will come good. I need publicity, and reviews can only help!

But back to the Black Swan Green quote. I am a one-man band. I don't have someone to prepare artwork, or edit, or proof-read for me. I don't have an intern tweeting on my behalf. I don't have an agent or a publisher or even someone doing my marketing and publicity. I have to do it all myself. This is difficult, and actually impacts on writing time, but more than that, if showing someone something you've written is handing them a stake and lying prone for them, then trying to do your own publicity is forcing a mallet into their free hand. Go on, world, knock yourself out!

The point of this post? I don't know, really. I do know that Black Swan Green is an excellent read, and I'd recommend it to anyone, especially if you were twelve or thirteen around the time of the Falklands War - you'll love the cultural references. Beyond that... well, I've tried all kinds of things to promote Dark Steps, really forcing the mallet and stake into your hands. I haven't had the success yet that I'd hoped for (and I had very modest expectations)... but then I haven't been staked through the heart either. Yet.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

I don't know anyone that uses the Diesel e-books store but...

...if you do you'll be thrilled to learn that you can now buy Dark Steps there. Here's the link. Now go, Diesellers, and buy!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

So, you've got a Sony e-reader, eh?

Then chances are you've paid their e-bookstore a visit or two. Okay, yes, I know the UK version was supposed to launch in October and today's the first of November and it's still not there. But the US version persists. And now, finally, Dark Steps has appeared there - here it is.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Help me out... host an ad?

I don't have an agent, let alone a publisher. I don't have an intern or a PA. I am a one-man band. On the one hand, this is great - I have full, sole creative control, for starters. But on the other, this can be very hard work - I have to do everything myself. All the promo, all the publicity, every website change or new page you see here, the lot. It's a wonder I have time to do any writing.

So I'm going to ask for a little help... from you, if that's alright. Would you be so kind as to host an ad for Dark Steps? Perhaps you have your own website or blog. Perhaps you tweet about books. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.... would you be so kind? If you could host an ad for the Amazon/Kindle version of Dark Steps that would be truly lovely. Here's the code you would need to embed on your site or blog.

<iframe src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?lt1=_blank&amp;bc1=FFFFFF&amp;IS2=1&amp;nou=1&amp;bg1=FFFFFF&amp;fc1=000000&amp;lc1=0000FF&amp;t=waddly-21&amp;o=2&amp;p=8&amp;l=as1&amp;m=amazon&amp;f=ifr&amp;ref=tf_til&amp;asins=B005GQ84CE" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe>Thanks - you're very kind.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Platform podcast now available

I promise this'll be the last time I mention that I was on the radio recently. But just so you don't miss it, I was talking about Dark Steps on Future Radio's Plaform arts programme last Sunday. The podcast of that show is now available here - I think my interview starts at about 17:45 in. And don't think I don't cringe every time I hear myself say hello in that "I am on the radio" voice....

Take Dark Steps into the iBookstore...

At last! If you're an Apple disciple and do your e-book reading through an iPad or iPod, now you can get Dark Steps from the iBookstore. Here's the link.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

...today we've got Martin Pond in the studio...

Following on from my recent phone interview with Future Radio's Kate Roma, last Sunday I went into the studio to do a longer interview with David Eastaugh as part of Future's arts programme, Platform. David is pictured left, holding a preview copy of Dark Steps. I was very nervous but David put me at ease and we had a nice chat about writing, the book and more besides. You can have a listen below - sorry if the sound quality is a bit tinny, but I had to really compress it to beat my host's 5MB file size limit.

Future Radio interview, 23-Oct-2011

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Entering the Apple universe...

If you are an Apple consumer, and by that I don't mean that you eat one a day to keep the doctor away but that you have an iPad or an iPhone, that kind of thing, then I'm pleased to announce that Unthology No. 1 from Unthank Books, featuring my story Waiting Room amongst many other fine stories, is now available from the iBookstore.

For the untold thousands (I can dream, can't I?) who have asked when Dark Steps will also be available there... I'm working on it.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Si vous habitez en France...

Si vous habitez en France, maintenant vous pouvez acheter Dark Steps (ça c'est-a-dire Étapes sombres) chez Amazon.fr (et je suis désolé pour mon Français écolier...)

Friday, 7 October 2011

More radio!

The interview on Future Radio's drivetime show, with Kate Roma, must have gone well. They've invited me into the studio on the 23rd October to do a longer interview, live, for their arts programme, Platform, with David Eastaugh. Naturally I've said yes - watch this space, and I'll tell you how it goes. You'll be able to listen live online here and, of course, if you're in the Norwich area you'll be able to tune in on 107.8 FM. The programme will start at 5pm.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Radio ga-ga (or, the Future's bright)

I've been trying all manner of ways to promote Dark Steps lately, some more successful than others. I've been tweeting relentlessly, for example, and it was by the miracle of Twitter that I discovered Kate Roma, a director and drivetime DJ at nearby Future Radio. Turns out we have mutual friends at Unthank Books.

I emailed Kate explaining that I'm a local author promoting his first collection of short stories and would Future be interested in giving me, or it, a mention. As it happens, Kate suggested a little more than that. She emailed me this afternoon asking if I would do a five-minute telephone interview, to go out live on her drivetime show at 4.30pm today. Yes, today! My first reaction was "blimey" but luckily my second was "yes please". Although I've been interviewed for radio once before, when I was involved in the (unsuccessful) campaign to get The Who a number one single, I was still a bit nervous.

I needn't have been; the interview has just happened. The entirely lovely Kate phoned and explained how she would introduce me. I sat listening to the end of The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen down the phone and then suddenly Kate was saying hello and we were on the air. And apart from one moment when I had a complete mental blank and couldn't think of the word "consideration" (as in "I submitted a story for consideration...") it went pretty well, I think. We talked a little about my writing history; we talked about the case for e-readers; we talked about Dark Steps (obviously), particularly which genre the stores therein might fall into (not horror, just unsettling - tales of the unexpected, perhaps); we mentioned this website a couple of times; and then, all too quickly. it was time to go.

Kate tells me I can get a recording of the interview from them in a couple of days time - if I can I'll try to post it here for your listening pleasure.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Nook-readers of the world, unite and take over

Got a Nook? Then you might be pleased to know that Dark Steps is now available for you from Barnes and Noble, in addition to Smashwords or direct from me.

I guess you could go to bn.com and search for it, but I'll save you the trouble - here's a direct link.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Alltop? Big deal? Or not...

My ongoing novel-length blog project, Drawn To The Deep End, has been picked up by a directory-style website called Alltop, and features in their "writing" sub-directory. Admittedly fairly near the bottom, but hey. I don't know whether this is a big deal or not, but I guess it can't hurt.

Talking of Drawn To The Deep End, stop by this Friday for a bumper-length instalment and gaze with morbid fascination at Peter's continued decline...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Another nice review

One of the hardest things about getting publicity for a new book, especially if you are an undiscovered writer doing his own PR, is having your work reviewed. I mean properly reviewed too, where the reviewer actually takes the time to read the whole book and construct their own opinion about the contents, rather than just cobble together a 50-word summary based on the Amazon synopsis.

Imagine my delight, then, at having Dark Steps reviewed by well-read (in both senses of the phrase) blogger and professional word wrestler Rol Hirst at Sunset Over Slawit.

Not only was Rol very complimentary, he also offers interesting perspectives on some of the stories in Dark Steps that are perhaps different from those you'd get from me. And that's one of many beauties of story telling - each reader adds their own layer of meaning to those intended by the author.

Rol has also added the nuts and bolts of his review to Dark Steps on Amazon.co.uk and given it four stars - result!

Monday, 5 September 2011

First rating for Dark Steps on Lulu

Dark Steps has received its first rating on Lulu (here) - someone has downloaded it (a bargain for 99p, though I do say so myself) and given it four stars!

That'll go nicely with the review on Amazon.com. Still waiting for the first review on Amazon.co.uk though...

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

So what's the deal with Smashwords?

Many (okay, some) people have asked if I could make Dark Steps available on Smashwords. Until they asked, I hadn't even heard of Smashwords! But I took a look and, as it turns out, it seems to be a half-decent way of making books available to the e-readers of the world that aren't Kindles.

So for the many (okay, some!) who have asked, Dark Steps is now available on Smashwords - you can find it right here.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Don't have a Kindle or a Lulu account?

Don't worry, you can now buy Dark Steps from me directly in a variety of popular e-book formats, over at my somewhat grandly title shop.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Interview on Kindle Author

Kindle Author is an excellent endeavour by one David Wisehart, its aim being to help you discover new writers. To that end, David conducts interviews by email with Kindle authors, and blogs the results. And he's interviewed me!

You can read the terrible truth (don't worry, it's not so terrible) here at Kindle Author... and observe the fact that I suddenly realised I didn't have an author photo to go with my bio. Oh well.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Dark Steps gets its first review on Amazon

The great thing about buying and selling on Amazon is that people can, and do, leave reviews.

For someone who's published a book on Amazon, this could be a double-edged sword though. Okay, so nothing is going to appeal to everybody, but what if you get lots of negative reviews? Unhappy days...

Having said all that, I'm pleased to report that Dark Steps has got it's first review on Amazon (here) and it's a good one - four stars and lots of nice comments ("an excellent collection of short fiction", "didn't want to put it down", and so on). Happy days...

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Online preview of Dark Steps now available

I know that Amazon let you sample ebooks on your Kindle, and both Amazon and Lulu now offer preview functions... but in case that's not enough, I've done my own free sample preview of Dark Steps as a kind of online "flipping book" (I know, who thinks of these names?). If I was to slip my IT-guy hat back on, I'd say my preview is more feature-rich than either Amazon's or Lulu's... but then I would say that, wouldn't I?

What not take a peak at the free preview for yourself and make your own mind up?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

So you don't have a Kindle but still want Dark Steps?

Ooh, get you with your "reading a real, physical book" shenanigans. No ebook readers for you, no sir.

But really, I'd still like you to read Dark Steps, I really would. So now, in addition to being able to buy it for your Kindle, you can now buy a real, physical book courtesy of those kind folk at Lulu. Okay, yes, it's dearer (sorry, there's a limit to how much I can do about that) but think of it this way - you, Constant Reader, get some back cover art and blurb. Those Kindle folk have no such luxury...

Does this make me a proper author?

I have an Amazon Author Page now and everything...

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Dark Steps published

Dark Steps, my collection of eight short stories, is published as a Kindle ebook on Amazon today. Take a look if you don't believe me.

The eight stories included therein are Waiting Room, Dream Feed, Egg, Near-Death Experience, A Bit Christmassy, Resolution, The Inheritance and an extract from the forthcoming novel Drawn To The Deep End.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Near-Death Experience is published in Alliterati magazine

Another short story, Near-Death Experience, made it into Issue 4 of Alliterati magazine.

In case you wondered, it's here.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Unthology reviewed again - Waiting Room gets a mention

Unthology No.1 has been reviewed by Ian Chung at Sabotage Reviews. In a paragraph that begins "there are many other points at which Unthology 1 rises to a level that has earned my profound respect", my story, Waiting Room, gets a mention, as follows:
Martin Pond conjures up a near-futuristic world in which a boy is about to take a test, except no one will tell him what it is about, which has disastrous consequences for him.
Which is a neat summary without being explicit praise, but I take it to be an example of something that earned Ian's profound respect. Cheers Ian!

Read the full review at Sabotage, and see if you agree with my interpretation.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Big Smoke

Tonight sees the London launch of Unthology No.1 - it takes places in the rather fantastic Old Bank Of England pub, right where Fleet Street joins The Strand.

Proceedings kick off around 7pm. I'll be reading, as will Deborah Arnander, Karen Whiteson, Sarah Dobbs and Ashley Stokes.

See you there?

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Dream Feed is published in Streetcake magazine

Another little short story of mine, Dream Feed, is published in Issue 15 of the always-interesting Streetcake magazine.

I'll save you Googling - you can find it here.