Category Archives: Amazon

Crow’s Map: an excerpt from Cutthroats & Curses

Cutthroats and Curses

Here’s a quick excerpt for you from one of my stories in the thrilling pirate anthology, Cutthroats & Curses, which you can buy for your Kindle RIGHT NOW! (US readers click here).

“Oh, then that’s fine,” the Captain said, cheering up. “Right, let’s have a look at this map you got for me.”

Crow pushed aside his bowl of rum and rolled out on the rickety table a crackly old parchment. He and the Captain bent over it, peering intently in the dim, pungent glow cast by the sputtering gull-lamps that were the only source of light in The Dirty Doxy tavern.

The Isle of the Drowned?” the Captain read, “Why do you always want to take us to some doom-laden place or other? When are we going to go on a day trip to The Valley of Happy Unicorns, eh?”

Crow said nothing. He knew better than to bring up again the matter of the unicorn with the wonky horn. That was a sure way to get the Captain tediously wittering on for hours about old adventures.

“And what, you scab, are these numbers?” the Captain continued.

“Cap’n, it really is beyond time you learned how to navigate – you know, what with being a ship’s captain and all. Those numbers show the location of the island. Latitude and longitude.”

“Latitude and longitude be buggered. I can’t do everything, can I? That’s why I pay you to steer the ship. I’m far too busy scheming and planning to get involved in every little detail. I’m the brains of this outfit, Crow.”

Crow took out his glass eye, gave it a polish and opened his mouth to speak.

“Don’t even think of saying what’s in your head,” the Captain interrupted, removing his tricorn hat ready to wallop Crow should the first mate utter one wrong word.

“I love my Captain,” said Crow. Mollified, the Captain put his hat back over his greasy hair.

“Hmm,” growled the Captain, peering once more at the map. “There aren’t many landmarks on this, are there? What’s this say here?”

“Ah now, that’s where we’d land. Sudden Death Cove.”

The Captain gave Crow a look and took off his hat once more.

“No, no! Listen,” Crow explained hastily, “The skinny bloke reckoned that this map would lead us to treasure. Buried here, where there’s a big ‘X’, near this pool that feeds down into the bay.”

“What does the ‘X’ stand for? Oh hell, it’s not ‘xylophones’, is it? Not much call for xylophones along the Skull Coast. No wait, it’s ‘xenopus’, isn’t it? You want me to load the Little Mavis with xenopusses.”

“No, no, no, the—” Crow began, then paused. “What the flaming hell is a xenopus?”

“African clawed frog. Produces eggs in response to the urine of a pregnant woman. Used for pregnancy testing.”

“Oh,” said Crow, pausing for a moment to consider the odd mind of his captain. “No, it does not indicate the location of a xenopus. The ‘X’ doesn’t stand for anything. It just marks the spot where the treasure is buried.”

“Then why didn’t they put a ‘T’, for ‘treasure’? That would make much more sense.”

“I don’t know why they didn’t put a ‘T’,” sighed Crow, “It doesn’t matter why they didn’t put a ‘T’. What matters is that the skinny feller said that here,” Crow’s grimy fingernail indicated a scratchy ‘X’ in the centre of the map, “is a treasure more valuable than gold coin.”

“Don’t give me that malarkey. What on earth could be more valuable than gold?”

“I don’t know. Lots of things.” Crow struggled to think of an example. The Captain was a big one for examples.

“Maybe…” Crow said, off the top of his head, “Right, how about a hat that made you invisible, so you could go wherever you liked without being seen –– merchant shops, inns, anywhere – think of the potential for profit in that.”

The Captain’s eyes drifted upwards to gaze at the dark smoky roof as he considered this, and a smile appeared in the middle of his bushy dreadlocked beard.

Bingo.

“The point is,” Crow continued, “I don’t know what we’ll find, but the skinny bloke was not lying, I’ll warrant that. And the map cost us nothing. So what have we got to lose?”

“With such a hat I could go into ladies’ boudoirs unseen,” said the Captain, huskily, “Or bathrooms.”

“Cap’n, concentrate! What is your command? Do we follow the map?”

“Aye, Crow, we follow the map!” The Captain’s eyes gleamed. “Alert the crew. We sail on the dawn tide.”

Crow stood and bellowed loudly above the cacophonous babble in the crowded tavern.

“THE CAP’N ORDERS THAT WE SAIL ON THE DAWN TIDE!”

Every person in The Dirty Doxy, save Big Tam who owned it and Dolly the Wench, let out a huge cheer, both man and woman alike, for every customer in the tavern this night served aboard the good ship Little Mavis.

“Crew alerted, Captain,” said Crow.

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Verdict – Free Warren Peace eBook Weekend

104In case you were away, let me just tell you that I made Warren Peace available on Kindle free of charge for three days around my birthday, the aim being to increase readership and get my name as an author more widely known. This is what happened. (Let me first say that I adore those of you who went and bought a copy of the book earlier. You are true fans and supporters and I want to have your babies).

OK, my overall impression of the free promotion? Vague disappointment mixed with delight at my Twitter family. Over the three days that the book was free I bombarded Twitter, Facebook, G+ and Goodreads with (as I thought) varied and amusing reminders. I was given sterling help in publicising the offer by many followers, which warmed my heart, and for which they have my undying thanks. Chief among these, and deserving of particular mention, is @MrsAshborosCat who never stopped working in Cuetip’s cause. I also received greatly appreciated assistance from more high profile followers, such as Nicky Campbell, Sharon Corr, Steve Baxter and Norman Lovett. These lovely people hare followed by tens of thousands – their pimping could only increase uptake significantly, surely.

Despite all of the above, however, downloads remained comparatively low. I can only conclude that the general public don’t like either rabbits or punning titles. Perhaps too everyone thought the book was a Watership Down rip-off – an easy mistake to make. I suppose I might also conclude that I design crap covers. On top of all that, I did make a few mistakes during the weekend, such as failing to ask some folk who I’m sure would have helped, and being in an unaccountably bad mood on Saturday night. Maybe my gin had gone off.

In the end I was disappointed that the take-up didn’t get close to a thousand, with roughly 900 free copies downloaded. Most of these were in the UK, with a fair wodge in the US. Four German and two Japanese stalwarts also added to the total, bless them. Don’t for a second think that I don’t love those 900 people of taste with all my heart, and clasp them metaphorically to my bosom.

chartA further wish of mine was that at least the book might briefly poke its nose into the Top 100 Free Downloads chart on Amazon, and it got mighty close to that, reaching a high of #104. Mind you, it did climb to Number Two in the “Action & Adventure” category, only kept off the top by a true classic – Treasure Island. There’s a joke there somewhere about the book being a number two.

So, was it worth giving away the Kindle version of Warren Peace? Hell yeah, for all these reasons:

    • I did reach new readers and new followers, who are all lovely people.
    • I was given immense help by my Twitter family, which warmed my heart.
    • I learned a lot from my mistakes for any future event.
    • Several more people reviewed the book, all of them very complimentary.
    • We had a lot of fun over the three days talking about the book.
    • New followers FINALLY took me over my old glass ceiling of 1900, off which number I’d been bouncing for nine months.

I have two more days of Free Promotion available before I drop the book out of KDP Select (and I will do that, so that I can make an ePub copy available) – maybe I’ll offer it as a Christmas present to those who were unconscious this time round. And the next book? I’m thinking of calling it “Sex”. That’ll sell, surely? (I’m not really going to call it that).

Thanks again to everyone who helped.

WOMBAT’S BIRTHDAY PRESENT – FREE eBOOK WEEKEND

My thanks to the delightful @lottedh for the picturePlease invite all your family, friends, neighbours, Twitter followers, that nice Mr. Henderson from the corner shop, and everyone else in your world.

To celebrate my birthday this year, I’ll be giving you all a present. Starting on Friday 26th October and running through to Sunday 28th October for three whole days, the e-book Kindle version of my first novel Warren Peace will be downloadable for FREE from all Amazon Stores online, the world over.

If you haven’t got your copy yet, then here’s the perfect chance for you to grab it for nowt. My birthday hope is to see Warren Peace get into the top 100 in the free downloads chart. It’d be heart-warmingly splendid if we could do that over the weekend, but I’ll need all your help. Please tell ALL your friends about it, RT the hell out of it on Twitter, and maybe – just maybe – we can do it together.

Why am I pimping the book out in this way? To get more people to read, obviously. I hope that new readers will enjoy the book and that they’ll tell their friends, and recommend me as an author. It’s about getting my rather silly name known by more people as someone worth reading.

You can read real REVIEWS of the book here. Please, if you do download the book and have fun with it, consider also leaving a positive review and spread the good word as payback. No pressure, though.
Oh, and if you don’t have a Kindle, fret you not, young warrior. You can get a free Kindle reading app for a huge variety of alternative devices. See the link at the bottom. Of the blog post, I mean, not my bottom. That would be absurd.

“Influenced more by Seven Samurai, Zulu and Joss Whedon than by Watership Down, Warren Peace is a novel about talking animals, but definitely not for smaller children. It will grab both your heart and your funny bone and shake them silly”

Links:

The Facebook Event (‘attend’ to get reminders and updates): CLICK JUST HERE
The Goodreads Event (ditto): CLICKEZ ICI (oh yeah, multilingual)
Warren Peace at Amazon UK: CLICK HERE
Warren Peace at Amazon US: CLICKY CLICKY
Kindle app for your not-a-Kindle device: CLICK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

Warren Peace

Warren Peace coverMy book’s finally out on Kindle, and has actually sold copies. To say that I’m chuffed to little mintballs would be to use an outdated anachronism, but would be accurate. I changed at the last minute to a far better title, prompted by the horrible apostrophe used by the font I’d chosen.

As you can see, I went with cover B since that was your favourite by a long chalk. If someone could please find out WHY it’s a “long chalk”, then let me know in the comments? Ta.

Now to get a print version out for anyone out there who’d like to drop my book into the bath cos they’ve fallen asleep.

You can find the Kindle version HERE and my Author Page (I’VE GOT AN AUTHOR PAGE!) by clicking this bit.

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