Tag Archive | Amazon

Five Years Down the Road

Five years ago yesterday, I began constructing my own website. At the time, I had been thinking about this for more than half a year. As a novelist with one eBook self-published on Amazon in December 2011, the next logical step was to get my name “out there” by creating some sort of author platform.

Six months before, I had discussed this with my three trusty writing buddies. We all had full-time jobs and we were all writing novels or novellas, so none of us had much spare time available. I suggested that together we start some kind of blog to give us a little exposure on the World Wide Web. If each of us wrote a post once a month, then together the site would have a new post once a week. We decided that this was manageable.

Thus, Scribbling Scribes was born in February 2012.

Within the next few months I decided that I needed my own website as well. We had begun Scribbling Scribes on Weebly, and the process was simple, so that was the platform I chose for my website. I launched the eBook version of my novella on Amazon on June 8, 2012, and began building my website on Weebly the very next day. Less than two weeks later, my website went live, on June 21.

I had great fun constructing all the pages – my bio, my favourite books about writing, the blurbs of my two books (including links to their product pages on Amazon), other links to my Goodreads and Amazon author pages, and a gallery with some of the photos used as inspiration during the writing of those books. I also constructed a contact form so that visitors to my website could get in touch with me. And they have. I’ve had messages from far and wide, friends both new and old.

Before the launch of my third book a few months later, I started a blog on the same website, to keep readers informed of my writing progress.

Two years on, we moved Scribbling Scribes to WordPress, and within three months I had migrated my blog to WordPress as well, but I kept the archive on my website. I also started a second blog about working in the theatre industry, but since leaving that industry two years ago I don’t often post on it any more.

So how has my writing career progressed in the five years since I started my website? Feast and famine, it must be admitted. The fourth novel took ages to write and was finally uploaded as an eBook exactly a year ago today. My excuse is that I was distracted by moving house twice in South Africa, before the giant move from there to Australia, where it has taken me a while to find my feet.

My fifth novel is half-written; the second half slipped into the background of my life while I was trying to get a job, and it has stayed there while I juggle two of them, one of which is a writing job.

All in all, I’m happy with where I am in life at the moment, but I do wish things would move a bit faster because I seem to be growing older. (How did that happen?!) However, I refuse to stand still and wait. I am trying to wring as much as I can out of life in general.

When my new boss found out my age (he’s twenty years older than I am), he told me I was a spring chicken and had at least another thirty years of work ahead of me. I wonder if that means he intends to keep me employed there for all of them…

Those who follow this blog regularly will know that I regard every experience in life as research for future novels, so let’s just say that I’m doing an awful lot of research at the moment!

The Trojan Legacy – Free on Amazon for 5 Days


My latest romantic mystery novel The Trojan Legacy is currently free on Amazon for 5 days. That’s from today, Monday 18th July until midnight on Friday 22nd July, Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). After that it will return to its normal price.

This eBook has only been on sale for a month, so this is the perfect opportunity to download it if you haven’t already read it. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free kindle app to your device from any Amazon site, and read it on that.

I’m not giving spoilers by telling my romance readers that they will get the happy ending they expect, but not before my characters have had to work hard against some obstacles in their way. Like my other romantic mysteries, this book has something to interest readers of mysteries and lovers of history as well. It dabbles with bits of the Trojan War (one of my all-time favourite topics) as well as some nostalgic South African history, including a fictional chance meeting with one of my real-life heroes. (Hint – part of it is set in South Africa in 1962 and… okay that’s enough. No more spoilers!)

It’s a dual timeline story and takes place in modern-day Melbourne as well as 1962 South Africa. I hope you find it entertaining.

The quickest way to download the book is to click on the image in the sidebar to the right, and it will take you to the book’s product page in your nearest Amazon store. If you prefer, you can click here instead, or here for the book’s product page at Amazon.com.

As I usually say at times like this: if you enjoy the book, please tell everyone you know. In fact, if you really enjoy it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads so that more people will be able to see what you’ve said and that will hopefully swell future sales.

But if you don’t enjoy reading it please send me a message on the contact form either here or on my website, telling me what you didn’t enjoy about the book. All constructive criticism will be taken on board and will help towards improving future novels.

I do hope you enjoy the read…

A Decent Obsession, But it’s Not a Living – Yet!


Have you ever been so fascinated by something – a person, a place, a concept or a story from history – that you spend almost every waking moment thinking about it? Dreaming about it? And eventually, writing about it?

Anyone who has read my books will know that I have an obsession with the Trojan War, ancient Greek theatres (with or without thunder tunnels), mythical history, my own family’s history, Renaissance art, Delville Wood, antiques and quirky artefacts, museums, the Drakensberg mountains, castles, Indiana Jones and the romantic power of love.

I know – that’s a weird collection, but these obsessions drive my writing, which is an obsession in itself. Why do I write? There is a clumsy definition that says writers can’t NOT write. From as far back as I can remember I have loved reading stories, making up stories and, in the last twelve years or so, writing stories. Somehow, once I started writing them down, all other aspects of my life either fell into perfect harmony, or fell away and no longer mattered.

Being a writer sounds like the dream job – who wouldn’t want to live out their obsession? The problem comes when we try to actually make a living from it.

All three of my books that are currently for sale on Amazon (plus the first eight drafts of my soon-to-be published new novel, all my short stories, plays, articles and essays, as well as the two trunk novels written before any of them), were written while holding down a full-time job, working six days a week in the theatre industry.

I didn’t have lots of time to write every day, but I aimed for at least one hour. Longer if possible. Because my paying job was usually in the afternoons and evenings, mornings were my best writing time. I quickly got into the habit of waking up one hour earlier, and I still find this the best time to write, before the day intrudes.

It took me a long time to write each of my novels. Stephen King says that the first draft should be written within three months, but the novel I now call my first – The Epidaurus Inheritance – took me about six months. This was followed by a year and a half of rewriting and polishing with the help of notes from six beta-readers. For the whole of that time I also sent out queries to agents and publishers around the world.

Living in South Africa and writing a novel that wasn’t relevant to the unique political, social or historical situation meant that my novel didn’t suit the parameters of the publishing market in South Africa, so I tried the overseas market. Most overseas publishers back then didn’t accept submissions that weren’t from agents – I tried all those who did, but got routinely rejected. Next I tried to find an overseas agent, all of whom patronisingly told me to look for an agent in my own country. I tried that too.

There were two literary agents in South Africa at that time and neither was taking on new clients. One – new to the business – had concentrated all its energy on only one author. The other had all but abandoned the business of being an agent and had begun taking on students in a writing course instead, but he was extremely supportive and helpful, and wished me luck because he said he knew I was going to need it!

I tried sending my first three chapters to local South African publishers. One publisher kept the first three chapters for seven months before asking for the full manuscript. By then I had tweaked and re-tweaked those three opening chapters so much that I didn’t have a clue what worked anymore. I explained this to the publisher, knowing that she would be a better judge of which set of three worked.

She considered my novel for another four months before rejecting it, but her rejection letter was so detailed, chatty and positive that I felt uplifted in spite of the content. She explained that, although several people in the office had read and enjoyed my book, it didn’t fit their publishing guidelines. Back to square one – I had known this before I had started writing it, hence my search for an overseas publisher…

All was not lost, however, because she told me that the story was good, there was nothing wrong with the manuscript or the idea, and there were almost no faults in it. She also wished me luck with it, but the best part was when she told me that my three chapters from the year before had been better than the ones I had reworked over the next seven months.

I realised two things from this. First – it is entirely possible to overwork a text and flog it to death. Second – my book deserved to get out there and be read. One of my beta-readers had put his own novel up on Amazon and had been urging me for months to do the same. Within a few weeks of that final rejection letter I self-published my novel on Amazon and I’ve never regretted that decision.

Since then I haven’t bothered submitting my later work to any agents or publishers. I use beta-readers for feedback, do as many rewrites as it takes without thrashing the text into a coma, and then put the finished product up on Amazon.

At the moment I write “full-time” only because I don’t have a job, but I am not making money from it – yet! So far I have had only one royalty payment from Amazon, and if you think that’s bad, I know writers (even traditionally published ones) who are still waiting to receive their first.

I think the only people in the world who actually make a decent living from writing can be counted on one hand – Stephen King, Dan Brown, John Grisham, James Patterson and JK Rowling. However, there are some great writers who have done well with self-publishing. The trick is to keep at it constantly – both the writing and the marketing. And that marketing is never easy.

Have a look on the internet for Nick Stephenson, Russell Blake, and Todd Borg. There are many others, but these are three whom I follow, not only because I enjoy their writing, but because they have found a way to make it work, to the extent that they have been able to give up their day-jobs.

All of them write prolifically – the more books you have out there, the more there are for people to buy – and all of them have a very visible internet presence. They write excellent blogs that are either hugely entertaining or packed with loads of advice for those of us who are struggling, and Nick Stephenson often co-hosts training videos and webinars about marketing.

Sometimes I feel overcome with despair that my three ebooks are wandering around on a cloud somewhere like lost orphans looking for homes, but then I remember that there are ways to make things work down here on the ground, and the best way is to keep chipping away at that block of stone. I read as much advice as I can, and apply it to my own situation – but the most important thing is that I keep writing. Because I must. Because I’m obsessed, and because I can’t NOT write.

I’m not winning yet, but I’m not quitting either. I intend to do everything I can to be successful at this, no matter how long it takes. I know that I need to give those three little orphaned ebooks some siblings so they can all fly around that cloud together and be noticed. One day I hope that my books will pay not only for themselves, but for me as well.

My advice to other writers out there who are going through the throes of agent and publisher rejection is to make your book the best it can be and then stop writing it so you can write the next one – preferably with some of the same characters. Write a series. Don’t spend your life waiting for a publisher who needs to make his or her business pay by using your books. The real trick is for you to make your books pay for your own business, not theirs. I’ll be the first to admit that this is easier said than done, but it’s certainly a goal I’m working towards.

If your book is hiding on your hard drive, knock it into shape in the most thorough way you can, and get it out there. Don’t rework it until you’ve beaten all the good stuff out of it. Make it work and then make it fly, so it too can look for a home in the reading lives of others.

From Daisy with Love – Free on Amazon for 5 Days


My historical romance novella is now free for the next five days on Amazon. From Daisy with Love is a short read of approximately 25 000 words. It is an old-fashioned love story set a hundred years ago in Africa, during the First World War.

If you haven’t already read it, now is a good time because it’ll cost you nothing more than a minute while it downloads. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app to your computer from the same page before you download the book.

Here’s what this novella is all about:

Life is frustrating for eighteen year old Daisy, living with her sister Nellie in Durban in 1915 while their respective men are away fighting in the Great War. As a volunteer letter-writer at the local hospital, Daisy whiles away her hours of boredom by helping Peter, a young British soldier, to pick up the threads of his life after a serious injury.

When her sister’s life falls apart and the letters from her own beloved Gilbert cease to arrive, Daisy must find the strength to pull her family through their loss and persevere through the war, so that she too can live a full life and leave a legacy to her descendants.

As I’ve said with my previous novels that were free over the last two months, if you enjoy the read, please tell all your friends, and if you don’t enjoy it, please drop me a line via my contact form and let me know what you didn’t like. It all goes towards improving the next book.

You can download From Daisy with Love here from Amazon.com, or here from the Amazon store that serves the country in which you live. It’s free right now, and will remain so until Friday night – 27th May – at midnight if you’re on the Pacific coast of the USA. If you are further east, you will have until later on Saturday – 7 am in England, 8 am in South Africa and around 4 pm in Australia. If you are anywhere else in the world, you can check your time zone against my new favourite tool, World Time Buddy.

Happy reading!

The Epidaurus Inheritance – now Free on Amazon for 5 Days


My romantic mystery novel The Epidaurus Inheritance is currently free on Amazon for 5 days. That’s from today, Monday 25th April until midnight on Friday 29th April, Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). After that it will return to its original price of $2.99.

If you haven’t already read this book, now is a good time to download it because it’ll cost you absolutely nothing except the time to read it. Don’t despair if you don’t have a kindle, because you can download a free kindle app to your device from any Amazon site, and read it on that. What could be simpler?

As I said last month when one of my other books – Benicio’s Bequest – was up for free, I know that romantic mysteries are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like writing them because I’ve always enjoyed reading them. I don’t regard mine as regular romances, because there’s always a mystery to solve along the way, usually with a good dollop of history, art and possibly a smattering of the classics thrown in, and this novel is no exception.

The Epidaurus Inheritance is set in Greece, one of my favourite places in the world; a place which, for me, has always been steeped in history, drama and mythology, to say nothing of being the birthplace of theatre as we know it. In fact, that’s where this novel starts – at a modern performance of an ancient Greek play.

Cassie is the set designer for a South African production of a play which is being staged at one of the oldest Greek theatres in the world – the enormous open-air stone structure that is Epidaurus – as part of the annual summer festival. For the design of a ceremonial knife used in the play, Cassie has copied the design of an ancient knife she inherited from her Greek father, which was handed down through the generations before him. Cassie has always been fascinated by the knife and is hoping to find out more about it now that she is in Greece.

Unfortunately for Cassie, she is not the only one interested in it. In addition to Zander, the antiquities investigator who starts badgering her about the original knife, a group of silent men who are part of an obscure religious order always seem to turn up in the same place as Cassie at the wrong time. Before long there is a break-in at Cassie’s hotel and she no longer knows who to trust.

Cassie’s quest takes her to Athens, Galaxidi, Delphi and the island of Poros, and along the way she is dogged by knife-wielding lunatics, murder, betrayal, kidnapping and fire. On the lighter side, she finds love, ancient artworks and an archaeological secret that she thought existed only in her dreams.

To those of you who downloaded last month’s book – Benicio’s Bequest – I hope you enjoyed it enough to want to try this one as well. Thank you to those of you who left reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Your kind words are much appreciated.

As I always say – if you enjoy the read please tell everyone you know, but if you don’t enjoy it please send me a message on the contact form either here or on my website, telling me what you didn’t like. All constructive criticism will go towards improving future novels. And if you really enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Or both.

You can download The Epidaurus Inheritance here from Amazon.com, or here from the Amazon store nearest to you, any time between now and Friday night in the USA. If you are elsewhere in the world, you’ll still have until later on Saturday to download it: 7 am in the UK, 8 am in South Africa and 4 pm in the eastern part of Australia. If you are anywhere else, you can check your time zone against Pacific Daylight Time with world time buddy.

Here’s hoping you have fun on your whirlwind reading trip through Greece…!

Free Novel for 5 Days on Amazon

My romantic mystery novel Benicio’s Bequest is currently free on Amazon for five days. So if you haven’t read it before, now’s your chance. And if you don’t have a Kindle on which to read it, you can download the free Kindle app on the same page at Amazon.

I do understand that if you’re not into romantic mysteries you’ll probably want to give it a miss. However, it is free so it won’t cost you anything other than time, so why not find out whether you might enjoy a romance with a bit of historical mystery thrown in? It’s free until midnight on Friday 18th March. Midnight on Pacific time, that is, so readers in the UK, South Africa, Australia and various other parts of the world have until sometime on Saturday to download it before it goes back to its original price of $2.99.

I don’t write to a specific formula and my style is not that of most books which fall into the popular genre of romance. Obviously I like to give romance readers the ending they expect (hint – I love happy endings), but I also like to give readers of mysteries and lovers of history a little bit of what they enjoy too. Those of us who write mixed genres will tell you that our books are formally categorised into the genre which ticks the most boxes, but there is always room in those pages for a little extra entertainment.

I don’t write erotica, so you won’t find Fifty Shades of Anything Like That between the covers of my books, but if you enjoy good old fashioned romance in the style made famous by Mary Stewart, then you’ll enjoy my feisty heroines and the puzzled chaps they take up with while trying to solve a mystery that involves something historical, in an exotic place.

My heroines always find themselves in what’s known as a fish-out-of-water situation, usually while on holiday overseas or in a new place they have moved to but haven’t yet settled down in. In that place there is a man who might be willing to help, or who needs help himself, and their paths cross.

There is always something historical involved – an artefact, a painting, a box of letters – and the two characters are thrown together and forced to tolerate each other while they navigate unfamiliar waters on their mutual quest.

Inevitably, this leads to conflict, doubt, betrayal, and just a little bit of chemical sparkery along the way. They fall into an adventure with enough danger for them to realise they don’t want to die, or to live without each other, but they have to solve the mystery and vanquish the Bad Guy before they can find their happy ending. There is a climactic confrontation with said Bad Guy, after which our hero and heroine emerge changed, older and much more in love than when they first started.

Benicio’s Bequest is set in Italy and follows the adventures of holidaying art teacher Lisa, who witnesses the murder of a man who has been trying to chat her up in the courtyard of Juliet’s house in Verona. Minutes before he is gunned down, he slips a notebook addressed to his brother into her handbag. Lisa delivers the notebook to the brother, Matteo, a wood artist who lives in Venice. Thus begins an adventure in which Lisa and Matteo have to uncover the art forgery scam that killed Matteo’s painter brother, Benicio.

As I always say – if you enjoy it, please write a review on Amazon or Goodreads (or both!) and if you don’t enjoy it, rather send me a private email via my Contact Me page, telling me why you didn’t like it. I am always open to constructive criticism, and will take valid points on board, in order to improve the next novel.

You can download Benicio’s Bequest here from Amazon.com, or here from the Amazon store nearest to you. Happy reading…!