Why I am wrong.

As both of my readers know, I have been quite vocal about being an independent writer and suggesting we don’t need publishers, and agents in particular; am I wrong?

Self-publishing was recommended to me when I first started this writing malarkey and I have no regrets about setting out along that path. When I was an apprentice in the airline business, I spent time in many different departments and it gave me an appreciation of the industry and how it worked. By being involved in the whole book making process, I now have an understanding of some of the problems associated with publishing and printing a book.

By doing it myself, I’ve learned about editing, creating a cover, formatting the interior, obtaining an ISBN, registering copyright and I’ve seen the printing process. I’m not an expert in any of those fields, but at least I have an understanding.

But, and it is a big but again (get that image out of your head,) there is one part I still struggle with, selling. It doesn’t matter what I do in the way of advertising, cajoling, suggesting or pleading, my book sales remain abysmally low, unless I am selling direct to the public at a signing.

Now, there are some out there who would suggest it is because my writing is rubbish, it must be, that’s why I am an indie. Well, I don’t believe it is, although it certainly improves with everything I write. So I have a  question for those who suggest it is – how do you know? If you haven’t read my work, you can’t possibly say what it is like, yet some remain unconvinced and tar all of us indies with the same brush. It is because of this I came to the conclusion, yes, I am wrong.

Some time ago I wrote a post about having direct access to some publishers thesePublishing Contract days, and I no longer saw the point of having agents. Well, I do now.

Agents are there working for you, doing the things that either you can’t or don’t have the time to do, with people who remain inaccessible to you as an independent, and that is why I have decided I must have some form of representation and that is the reason I am wrong about the industry. What we all need to realise is we are really on the same side, trying to achieve the same aims; getting readers to buy books which give them value for money and have them wanting more by the same author.

I will still self-publish some titles (I have a cookbook coming out in the near future, so watch this space,) but I think the bulk of my writing must be represented in some way.

This doesn’t mean I will jump at a contract if offered. I will need to feel it is the right person and the right contract for me. I want to establish a growing relationship, something that will be long lasting and fruitful. The right person and agency is out there, and so my journey begins.

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I was born under a wandering…fish?

Ill manIt has been several weeks since I posted anything on the blog. Whilst illness was the initial cause of my absence, I must confess sheer laziness and a lack of subject matter were the more recent causes.

At breakfast this morning, my wife was reading a newspaper, not something she does frequently, but on this occasion, it turned out to be somewhat fortuitous, as I now have a subject for a blog post.

As she turned the page, a headline caught my eye, ‘A Fish Called Wander.’ Whilst an obvious play on the name of the film, the content of the article proved to be interesting.

I’m not going to get into the evolution/creationism debate, but suffice to say I believe we climbed out of the primordial soup around 3.8 billion years ago, give or take a few millennia. Over millions of years we evolved into the magnificent specimens that you see before you, every time you look in the mirror; masters of all we survey and guardians of the planet…ok, I’ll come back to that one in a moment.

Sir David Attenborough, who has been on the planet a fair amount of time himself, long may it continue, presents one of the Broken Biscuit Corporations better offerings, Blue Planet II.  Not a flashback to the decorating programmes of the late nineties and early noughts,  the programme celebrates the amazing diversity of life on earth.

What caused me to read this article was the revelation that Sir David’s teamFish with legs had found a species of fish that had evolved to use its pectoral fins as feet and could walk along the bottom.

Although I am of a certain age, I am not old enough to remember when life first emerged from the oceans, but I am fairly sure it would be in a way similar to how this fish has evolved. Now, given the state of the planet under our guardianship… I told you I would come back to this… and the fact there are many who would rather put profit before planet, I couldn’t help wondering if we are witnessing the emergence of a new master race. One which perhaps understands that money isn’t real, you can’t eat it and the accumulation of wealth beyond a certain amount is pointless.

You have been warned, A Fish Called Wander is coming to a beach near you.

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Adult advisory – for the easily offended

*Adult content* – well…almost.

Sometimes, you will catch sight of something and it will stop you in your tracks. A couple of days ago, this happened to me. The something in question was a TV clip my wife was watching on the internet and I must say it left us both a little – well – confused.

The program from which the clip originated, is a daytime TV chat show from the UK, and often features subjects such as cooking, medical issues and any items of general interest to the viewer.

Now, we didn’t see the full interview, but I have read a transcript and it makes me a little uncomfortable. On the studio couch sat a man and a doll. We are not talking about a child’s toy here, but a full-size replica of a human female and Ithink you can already guess where we are going here. The doll is a sex toy.

Surprised emoticon

As was pointed out by one of the presenters, most toys of this type are capable of being hidden away in a drawer, or at the back of the wardrobe. And this is where it gets weird. Samantha, as she is known, is not just your average inflatable, highly surprised looking, adult toy, she is a fully functioning robot.  Can you imagine the shock of finding a female body hanging among the shirts?

She has a repertoire of jokes, can discuss animals with the children and is capable of discourse on philosophy or science (not to mention intercourse on the kitchen table – sorry, couldn’t resist.)  She is programmed to be part of the family. Yes, you did read that right, the designer believes she is part of the family.

Apparently, his children, aged five and three, already ask where she is and his wife is totally comfortable with her being around. They even had fun in the car on the way to the studio – okay, we are not going anywhere with that one.

Duracell Bunny
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48645665

Personally, I think it is like having your mistress out in

the open, but the designer believes times are a-changing and this type of thing will become more acceptable.

If he is correct and these robots become a part of our daily life, even a simple form will have to change with the addition of ‘with robot’ to marital status, and

programmable.’ to any gender questions.

Of course, it isn’t up to me to judge, so all I can say is, if in the future, a neighbour asks if you have seen her rabbit, it might be worthwhile clarifying things before answering.

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When a dog’s life isn’t a dog’s life

Dog with no name

As a Jedi, no – seriously, I am – anyway, as I was saying, as a Jedi, I believe things happen to us for a reason. We aren’t always sure what the reason is, and it may never become obvious to us, but it is part of your destiny, young Luke. On Sunday, one such thing happened and whilst it is a tiny thing, figuratively and literally, it is going to have an enormous effect on our lives.

Bahrain has a massive problem with stray dogs. Initially, these would have been dogs abandoned by their owners when they left the island, (just how someone can do that to any animal is beyond me, but that’s another story,) but now they are breeding amongst themselves and it is not unusual to see and hear large packs of dogs roaming around in the late evening and during the night. How they survive in this heat, with virtually no water, I am not sure, but survive they do and we see mothers with pups on a regular basis.

Dog with no name
© 2017 Glen R Stansfield. All Rights Reserved.

So, when our cleaner told us she had just found a puppy at the entrance to the compound, with no mother in sight, we were not prepared for the tiny, dehydrated, tick infested, bundle that was lying on our back doorstep. Her respiration rate and lethargy told me this dog did not have long for this world.

We cooled her by wetting her and she responded by trying to lick the water on the ground, so we gave her small amounts of water to drink and brought her into the house in a cardboard box. Mindful of the tick infestation and our two resident cats, the box was placed inside a plastic carrier bag to contain the myriad of ticks that were now dropping off her.

My wife spent the day looking for signs of the mother, as we weren’t sure if this little bundle was even weaned. Sadly, she was nowhere to be found and the poor little thing spent the night with us, hardly moving.

The following day she had regained some of her strength and found the cat food, not a good diet for dogs, but in the interim it was preferable to no food at all. Clearly, she had been weaned and was perfectly capable of wolfing down food as well as lapping the water, although still somewhat unsteady on her feet.

One trip to the vet later, the dog with no name has been estimated to be  just five-weeks old, de-ticked and de-wormed, supplied with suitable food and my wallet depleted.

A long discussion ensued as to what we were going to do with her in the long term (the cats never moved their position on this; one now lives upstairs and the other lives in fear of this overgrown mouse.) This resulted in us buying the inevitable chewy rubber toys, (which she ignores in preference for the tassels on the rug,) two feeding bowls and a litter tray (how she knows to do it on paper already, is beyond us)

I knew after day one, this little bundle of mischief was destined to be with us and was going to stay.

I am just looking forward to the day when I can teach her to drive like this owner has. What a dog’s life, eh?

Dog Driver
© 2017 Glen R Stansfield. All Rights Reserved.

Sixty – going on twenty-five

When I was twenty-one years old (some four or five years ago…if you believe that, would you like to buy a used car? One careful lady owner, never raced or rallied,) it seemed to be that anyone reaching sixty years of age could be considered to have had a good innings. Let’s face it, once you reach that age you’re past your prime, physically and mentally, ready to be put out to pasture Old Man in a Bath Chairand see out your last couple of years in a bath chair, covered with a blanket, living in a world of your own, right?

On the twenty-fourth of June, I had what they call a significant birthday. As far as I’m concerned, all birthdays are significant because it means I’m still alive, but this was one of the biggies, apparently. I have reached the age I once considered to be the turning point, and you know what? It is.

I am not ready for the bath chair just yet, although my joints ache enough for me to consider one; it’s too hot here to be covered with a tissue, let alone a blanket, and my wife would tell you I already live in a little world of my own, but mentally I don’t think I have ever gone past the age of twenty-five. Combine that with another thirty-five years’ experience of living on this planet and you have a pretty awesome combination; experience and youth.

No longer how I imagine sixty years of ageI will continue with my writing, which like me, can only improve with age, I will continue to have an opinion, tempered with experience meaning I won’t necessarily voice it (who am I kidding?) and I feel ready to take on the world.

Does that mean I’m not ready for retirement in a few years’ time? You bet, I’m ready, but retirement for me will mean having the time to do all those things I don’t have time to do now, because someone expects me to turn up every day to work for them (okay, I need the money too.) I have a list as long as your arm of things to be done and they are just the ones my wife has waiting for me, but I’m not ready to be put out to pasture, not by a long chalk.

Sixty is no longer the new forty, it’s the new twenty-five; I say so.

 

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What a Hullaba..loo

As both my readers know by now, I am constantly trawling the news sites for snippets which are worthy of inclusion in this esteemed literary masterpiece (okay, it’s a tatty old blog, but my first version sounds far better.)

Once again, the famous news site, run by the Broken Biscuit Company, has come to my aid in finding something on which to comment.

Man on a toiletNow, we Brits have always found both embarrassment and humour in the most basic of bodily functions, number ones and twos, tinkles and poos, call it what you will, but there is a love-hate relationship with the process that every human, and indeed living creature on this planet must go through, the excretion of waste.

We all know a least one person who delights in the passing of gas at the most inappropriate times, and another who never seems to visit a toilet, ever, but it would appear embarrassment far outweighs entertainment for many people, regarding all matters toilet.

Renowned for being something of a reserved nation, I thought the Brits would be at the top of the league in this department, but according to the article I read, the Swedes are up there too. What we sometimes refer to as schoolboy humour isn’t at all humorous to schoolboys after all.

One town has come up with an idea to drown out the nefarious sounds of the

Brass Band
This may be a common sight in toilets in the future..
By NawlinWiki at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3960443

loo by installing music in the school toilets. It seems that both primary and senior high school students are loath to use the loo for fear of being overheard.

According to Centre Party Councillor Cecilia Cato, in the town of Tingsryd, some children are so concerned that they refuse to use the toilet all day. She suggested the musical solution to the local council.

“I don’t think it’s just about number two on the toilet, but many also don’t do number one,” Ms. Cato said.

I just wonder about the choice of music. Would that be left to the individual concerned, depending on their circumstances? On occasion, I have been in public toilets when the person concerned would probably require Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannons and for some, maybe Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee would find favour. Then of course there is Handel’s Water Music….perhaps I should leave it right there.

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A Day in the Life of an Author

Walk into any bookstore or library and you are walking into a multitude of worlds; worlds created in the mind of a writer or author. The books you see are the result of hundreds of hours of angst, perspiration, joy, anger, tears, frustration and relief. Relief? Yes, relief that finally all those ideas spinning around in your head have wormed their way from your brain to the paper, in what you hope is a meaningful order.

Have you ever wondered how those words got there? I have created a snapshot of a typical weekend in the life of an author, (an author who has a day job,) so you can see how all those random thoughts are processed to create the wondrous work you see on the bookshelves.

10:00pm          Decide on an early night to tackle a full day writing tomorrow, starting at 8am.

11:59pm          Stop looking at silly cat videos on YouTube.

01:00am          Think of a marvellous plot twist as you are finally dropping off to sleep, one so brilliant you are certain to remember it in the morning.

05:00am          Wake up at your normal weekday time. Find a cat pawing you in the face looking to be fed (cats do not understand weekends and neither does your body clock.)

05:10am          Get up. Trip over the other cat lurking at the foot of the bed (cats work in pairs to trap humans; even cats who hate each other do this. It’s a basic instinct.) Feed the cats to keep them quiet.

05:15am          Go back to bed for a further half-hour sleep.

09:30am          Wake up and realise your day is off to a late start.

09:40am          Decide you should have a full English breakfast before getting to work. Spend the next ten minutes debating with your wife whether to cook or to go to a café.

09:50am          Having decided on the latter, start writing a shopping list to kill two birds with one stone. No sense in going out and not doing the shopping at the same time.

09:51am          Remember you had a brilliant idea for a plot twist the previous night. Fail to remember what it was. Resolve to buy another notebook to put at the side of the bed, along with a pen (the previous twenty-three notebooks and pens appear to have been taken by aliens. What they are going to do with all those notebooks and pens, you have no idea, but the germ of an idea for a sci-fi novel pops into your head.)

09:55am          Complete shopping list, failing to add notebook and pen as you have been distracted by the sci-fi book plot.

10:00am          Leave the house resolving to be back by midday.

02:15pm          Arrive back with the shopping.

02:30pm          Having packed the shopping away, decide to have a cup of tea before getting to work on the next chapter.

04:00pm          Stop looking at Facebook and open your writing program.

05:00pm          Having written six words, which do not quite convey what you have in your mind. Decide to cook the evening meal.

05:01pm          Open a bottle of wine while you and your wife decide on what to cook.

05:20pm          Order a take-away as you don’t fancy any of the food you bought that morning.

05:25pm          Have another glass of wine while you wait for the take-away to be delivered. Pointless to start writing now, only to be interrupted by the delivery driver.

07:00pm          Get back to work on the next chapter, glass of wine in hand.

07:05pm          Open another bottle of wine because the first one seems to be empty. Squint at the old bottle to see if it is cracked anywhere and has been leaking.

07:20pm          Look at the thirty-seven new words you have written and try to think of a better way it could be worded.

07:25pm          Start researching on the internet for a suitable location for your two main characters to have a meeting.

09:35pm          Stop looking at silly cat videos on YouTube and resolve to finish this chapter before bed.

11:55pm          Wake up with a stiff neck because you have been slumped on your desk for the last two hours.

12:01am          Go to bed.

12:15am          Remember the marvellous plot twist as you are dropping off to sleep. Also remember you forgot to buy a notebook and pen.

This is likely to be repeated the next day, shopping included as many items were missed off the list the first time around while you considered the sci-fi plot.
So, next time you complain the sequel to your favourite novel is taking too long to appear, give the author a break, you now know why.

Emirates Festival of Literature

Emirates Festival of Literature

Last weekend, my wife and I were lucky enough to get a chance to go to the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai. This festival has been in existence since 2009 and is an opportunity not only to purchase a

The Burj Khalifa early morning. (Taken from our hotel room)

selection of books, but to see and hear the authors talk about their work.

Unfortunately, we were only able to spend one full day at the festival, but manage to cram a lot into that day, starting off by having a chat with the lovely Sue Moorcroft, Romantic Fiction author; an arrangement we had made earlier in the week.

Kathy Reichs is a name you will either know well or have never heard of, depending on the type of books you like to read. Whether you know Kathy or not, I suspect most of you will have heard of the TV series, Bones, and that is based on the forensic anthropologist character of Temperance Brennan, featured in her novels. The interview with Kathy, conducted by the talented Paul Blezard was in my opinion, far too short; the hour flew by. Paul’s relaxed style made it feel as though we were at dinner with a couple of friends discussing their work.

After this feast for forensic lovers, my wife and I parted company, temporarily I might add, whilst I went off to do a two-hour workshop on screenwriting; a subject in which I am very much interested. Conducted by the talented Nicholas Forzy, I was soon immersed in the intricacies of setting scenes and creating characters. His dynamic approach to the subject had us all caught up in the excitement of creating a world of characters for the screen; again, it was over, seemingly almost before it had started.

Another session with Kathy Reichs, this time on stage with another

talented writer, Andrew Davies, whose historical screenplay adaptations are

By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12082893

widely acclaimed by TV and cinema audiences alike, was our first fayre after lunch. Again, the stage was oozing talent, and not without its moments of comedy too, when someone asked if Kathy Reichs thought President Trump would make a good character in one of her books; “As a victim?” Kathy asked.

It is many years since I picked up a Jeffrey Archer novel, so many, that I am not sure even of the title, but there is no doubt he has a large and loyal following. Our final session of the day was an audience with the man himself. Love him or loathe him (much like Marmite), without a shadow of a doubt, that man knows how to entertain an audience and tell a story.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to the festival, grab it with both hands. I will be back next year, as a member of the public if need be, but I do intend to go back one day as an attending author and talk about some aspect of my own work.

 

Is there anybody there?

IS THERE ANYBODY THERE?

Last year I did something I had said I would never do, I submitted my novel, Harry, to a literary agent, and to compound my moment of madness, I sent it to a second one a few days later.

Harry - Glen R StansfieldWhen I started doing this writing malarkey, that was what I’d intended to do; get an agent, get a publisher and be happy. But then I attended a writers’ gathering near to my home in Scotland, which I covered in previous blog posts, and that set me on the path of self-publishing and a vow to stay that way. Master of my own destiny and lack of sales.

However, I digress. Two days ago, I got a rejection email from one of the two agents. Not bad going, a promise to respond within twelve weeks and twenty-three weeks later I get a rejection. The other agent hasn’t even responded.

And you know what? I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed, because what I’d done was the wrong thing for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I still intend to seek an agent because I now know enough about the industry to know that is the only way I am going to sell books. ‘What?’ I hear you cry. ‘What about all those people that sell hundreds of thousands of books without an agent and aGlen R Stansfield publisher?’ Well, that’s because they can. They have the know-how and the wherewithal to do this and I’m not sure I do. I can sell books when I meet people, but I just don’t seem to be getting them in front of the right people to make a difference to my online sales.

So why was I pleased to have been rejected? Because I had gone for two of the biggest names in the industry and that would not be the right fit for me. What I need is someone who perhaps knows the industry but is just starting out as an agent in their own right. Someone who is looking to grow with me as I grow as an author, someone with whom I can have a telephone conversation or a meeting without them dashing off to tend to Ian Rankine or Val McDermid.

So, if there is anyone out there that fits the bill, I am open to offers; I’ll even buy the first coffee.

Guest post from Voinks

My thanks to fellow author Voinks for permission to repost her latest blog here. She is on the nail when it comes to the writing process. You can find out more about her by visiting her website.

Writing can be one of the loneliest professions. Even if we’re not stuck away in the proverbial attic our quill pens or laptops are not the friendliest of company.

Luckily the ‘family’ of authors are one of the most supportive group I’ve ever come across. Having been there, done that and bought the printing paper I’ve learnt that experienced, best selling, traditionally published scribblers are as likely to offer their advice and support as others still struggling to understand the vagaries of the Indie route.

writing-home-office-336581_960_720-19-1-17

Here’s a quick guide to writing a book and becoming an overnight success:

  • Have an idea.
  • Start typing (or writing) feeling inspired.
  • Get stuck half way through.
  • Finally type ‘The End.’
  • Sit back and wait to become famous.
  • Realise that’s not going to work.
  • Re-read your masterpiece and discover all the errors.
  • Friends and family re-assure you it’s wonderful.
  • Re-write your blockbuster.
  • Proof read.
  • Get other authors to beta read.
  • Cry when you realise how much work it still needs.
  • Revise and proof read again.
  • Send off to publishers. Bite nails while you wait for a response.
  • (If you’re lucky) get a rejection letter. Cry again.
  • Repeat ad infinitum with proof reading, rejection letters and sobbing.
  • Start learning about self-publishing.
  • Despair (and cry).
  • Discover the joys of metatags, formatting, page layout, editing, synopsis, blurb, printing, cover design and don’t even begin to think about marketing as you realise how little you actually know.
    (I’ve left out quite a few stages as my laptop is now sodden with all the tears.)
  • Take out a second mortgage to buy more print cartridges and paper as you are now firmly hooked into the crazy idea of actually getting your book into print.
  • Daily check your number of sales- Despair.
  • Make a sale. Celebrate. That ten pence/cents royalty will make you rich- er, maybe not quite yet time to give up the day job.
  • Try to persuade everyone who has read your book to write a review.

feedback-19-1-17-1291746_960_720     Feed an author 14.9.15  Realise how important reviews are to an author.

It doesn’t matter what you say, or even if you have never written one before, I can’t stress enough how important they are to spread the word and support the ‘newbie’ authors. Thank you.

Here are some suggestions for books you might like to read and the writers who will totally understand the problems. 😀

Voinks
Changes     www.amazon.co.uk/Changes-Voinks/dp/1848972997

Romance

ABC Destiny http://www.amazon.co.uk/ABC-Destiny-Voinks/dp/1784556963

Mystery
(Watch this space for the next release, hopefully this year.)

Drama/Thriller

Paula Harmon
Kindling     http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kindling-Paula-Harmon-ebook/dp/B01LYMHUMB
The Advent Calendar  www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N8R4XR3/
Short stories

Glen R Stansfield
Harry        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Harry-Glen-R-Stansfield-ebook/dp/B01JLO67CA/ 
Crime/Thriller

Julie Eger
Eeny Meeny Criminy Crow    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eeny-Meeny-Criminy-Crow-residents-ebook
Fantasy/Mystery

Rick Haynes
Evil never dies    http://www.amazon.co.uk/CHOCOLATE-CHUNKS-CRAZY-CRETE-Haynes-ebook/dp/B01M7WRPSF
Medieval fantasy
Chocolate chunks from Crazy Crete     http://www.amazon.co.uk/EVIL-NEVER-DIES-MAXILLA-TALES-ebook/dp/B011GP1LQO
Short stories

Mike Williams
Lavender and Haddock  www.amazon.co.uk/LAVENDER-HADDOCK-Trouble-Wyrms-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00JX8UQEU
The allure of the Red Wyrm  http://www.amazon.co.uk/ALLURE-RED-WYRM-Trouble-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00K7DMWX8
Educating creatures   http://www.amazon.co.uk/EDUCATING-CREATURES-Trouble-Wyrms-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00K0TPBNC
Comedy trilogy

Jo Roderick
Format it yourself  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Format-Yourself-P-I-Y-Step-step-ebook/dp/B01GARM58G
Non Fiction. Part of a series giving guidance on formatting for self-publishing
Bermuda Phoenix  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bermuda-Phoenix-Beach-Read-RomCom-ebook/dp/B01N7U89WQ
Romantic comedy

Yasmin Selina Butt
Gunshot Glitter   http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gunshot-Glitter-Yasmin-Selena-Butt-ebook/dp/B00916B4OU
Thriller/Mystery

Seumas Gallacher
Killer City  http://www.amazon.co.uk/KILLER-CITY-Jack-Calder-Crime-ebook/dp/B01B7IMYES
Part of the Jack Calder Crime Fiction series

To our readers: Hopefully there’s something for everyone in these suggestions. Please check them out, tell your friends and help to spread the word.
Even better, buy our books and leave a review.

On behalf of authors everywhere, thank you for your support.

© Voinks January 2017