Tag Archives: Jay Squires

…the Alternative Booker Awards…a welcome little change of pace for this wee blog…#TBSU…

…a change is as good as a holiday, some say…well, I changed my apartment this week, moving no more than a few miles along the road in Abu Dhabi…and I can assure you, it was no holiday...there’s biscuit tins stacked where golf shoes normally reside…folders, files, and fax machine sit fabulously fuddled and fankled (Scots word for twisted and bundled in knots, Mabel…)…rolled-up carpets, rugs, and an assortment of clothing occupy floor space meant for my feet…and hills, nay, mountains, of books and novels lie scattered like a bomb-blasted Mitchell Library…my already precarious level of sanity neared the precipice of no return, coz I DO like things in proper order y’see…comes now the saving grace…my dear author friend, Jane Isaac (http://www.janeisaac.co.uk) tagged me in an interesting blog piece…the Alternative Booker Awards…the idea is to select five of your own favourite books…not the sometimes unfathomable choices made by panels of the alleged literary cognoscenti…in other words…books that are a GOOD ENJOYABLE READ…then like all good enforced labour, tag five other poor unsuspecting souls to do the same… My choices (and there could have been a hundred, believe me…)…

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND  by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is one of the finest reads for me in the past ten years. The translation from the original Spanish, by Lucia Graves is extraordinarily well done. No spoilers allowed here, but suffice to say, the visit by a young boy with his father to the Cemetery of Books in Barcelona in 1945, just after the war, leads to a wonderful story exposition. One of the few books I’ve cared to re-read.

THE SMELL OF MUD  by Jody J. Ballard

Not yet released, I have watched with unmitigated pleasure over the past year, my dear author friend and writing buddy, Jody J. Ballard refine and hone her literary debut, THE SMELL OF MUD, which will be on Kindle within the next couple of weeks. In the small mining post  of Granite, Montana on the late 1890s, a woman falls to the lowest ebb that a female can reach after her husband and young daughter are murdered by outlaws. Her only means of survival is to become part of a group of women who prostitute themselves in order to live day by day. She keeps a diary of the process of recovering dignity and strength of purpose, through the kindness and caring within the group. The bridge to the 21st  century is superbly achieved by the latter-day discovery of the diaries by 16 years-old Lizzy, a descendant of the main protagonist, Elizabeth. The arc follows the eternal questions in any young woman’s soul about men, life, sex, and all the issues of growing into adulthood for a woman. An excellent read and a must buy.

THE LAST LION, biographic trilogy of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill by William Manchester, completed by Paul Reid

I’m a sucker for anything and everything written by and about Churchill, the ultimate maverick. Part of the fascination of Manchester’s writing is his use of vocabulary—not flowery, but old-school, wonderful choice of phrase and precise word-usage—he works your brain over and delights all at the same time. He died during the writing of the third volume, which was completed by Paul Reid and published in November 2012. I am yet to read the last, but if it matches anywhere close to the first two, it will be a reading joy.

EAST OF EDEN by John  Steinbeck

Steinbeck has long been acknowledged as the great literary pillar of American literature from the West Coast.  He finished writing East of Eden in 1952, and claimed it as his Magnum Opus. I recall first reading this morning after morning on the bus  travelling to work  in the City of London during the rail strike in 1973. The hours of traffic jams were a boon to my reading! A monumental novel, and a timeless piece of work by a master craftsman.


As Steinbeck was to the west coast, so O’Hara became the pillar for the Eastern States, particularly Massachusetts and its environs. I loved the inevitability that closes in on the main character, Alfred Eaton. Set in the late 1950s and 1960s the story of Eaton’s ambition as an executive leads him through a loveless marriage, and into a successful Wall Street career, ultimately near his death pondering whether or not his life had been a failure. How many executives caught blindsided by the latest credit crunch would see themselves reflected in this story, I wonder?

My taggees to continue this thread are :

Melissa Robitille

Jim Wright

Joe McCoubrey

Jay Squires

Clive S Johnson


Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…that’s what friends are for, yer Grace, innit?…

ALERT ALERT ALERT —This blog post comes with a ‘look out, he’s getting a bit philosophical’  warning.  My usual feeble attempts at levity in these missives will be marginally subsumed today. My great friend, and unbelievably talented wordsmith, Jay Squires, has posed a question which I think may interest many of our writing fraternity and sorority at large. The conundrum of free promotions on the KINDLE SELECT PROGRAM. Are they worth doing? Should we give away freebies? Do money sales increase as a result? Here’s my ‘umble take on it to date, and I emphasise, this is only MY personal experience .. it may differ from that of others.
Hi Jay
I’ll be glad to share with you (and any of our great writing family friends)  how it’s working for me.
From the outset, and as I continue to hammer on about in my blogs, the promo sequences are just a PART of the overall BUSINESS CAMPAIGN
to get the world to know about the books. The ‘BUILDING THE PLATFORM’ that I screech about constantly, I learned from the great advisory blogs of
Rachel Abbott (worth looking back over her stuff on her website, too).
The key word for me at any rate is ‘awareness’. Giving away books free on Kindle only costs me the potential sale to someone who MAY have paid money for it
(but in reality probably was unlikely to pay).  In effect that costs me nothing.The hope is that FUTURE sales can get generated from the continuing writings
(The third book is now 18,500+ words of Work In Progress).
Now, to facts….numbers of sales…in the four Kindle Select Program promo sequences  I’ve done in the last twelve months, the total FREE downloads between both books was about 21,500+.
Total OVERALL downloads between both books is now 45,000+ , so just better than about 1:1 ratio of  money vs freebies. (and, I dare say, considered ‘best seller’ numbers)
I’m content with that. As for spikes in sales afterwards, in honesty, they’re not spectacular. Some yes, but not greatly significant. I think regular sales
are sourced from getting to be a household name like Child, Macbride, Baldicci, and so on, and we know that takes years to establish, if at all.
As a relative baby in all of this, I believe that my own regular sales are a DIRECT RESULT of two things :
1. REGULAR ‘PAYING IT FORWARD’… doing ReTweets and FaceBook sharing of other people’s efforts, including doing Amazon reviews for them (honest reviews at that,—puff pieces
can ultimately be more harmful if the reviewed work is substandard).. being helpful to others is incredibly fulfilling and in itself generates enormous good will.
2. BEING ACTIVE REGULARLY IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS, (but NOT spamming), to the extent that relationships build up and get sustained. You’ll have seen my weekly
AWARDS lightheartedness. I keep a sheaf of hand-written sheets by my desk and I write down the names of EVERYBODY who has mentioned me in a positive way, or RT’s me etc, and they are on my
TweetDeck filter list as Favourite Guys and Gals. I change the Awards name each week, e.g. ‘Mega Mates Awards’, ‘Best Pals Awards’, ‘Great Buddies Awards’, to try to
keep it fresh. It’s my sincere way of saying THANK YOU to all who’ve been helping me along this fantastic trip. That Awards tweeting exercise I spread out over a day or two, usually Thursdays and Fridays.
These are not done automatically. I type out every name, every week, and that keeps my relationships fresh in my head. (That special list exceeds 300 names now!)
It takes the place of the FFs, and people tell me they love it, as it guides them to new worth while followers too.
Ancillary to all of this. I now have agreement from all of the three major book distributors in the United Arab Emirates to carry my books, including at their airport outlets. I hope to see that
expand across other country outlets and airports across the Gulf.
Now that I’ve responded to all of this. It’s gonna be my blog piece today!!
I hope that’s of some help, my friend.
Yours aye,
Seumas Gallacher
Anybody else out there wanna share their experience with this stuff, positive or otherwise, let’s share it, guys and gals ..
Cheers, I’ve gotta get back into bed before Matron brings the syringe …



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff