Goodreads disappoints

I really loved the whole Goodreads idea when I first came across it about five years ago. A site that understands what you like and recommends books in the same genres that other readers have rated. Also, a community of like-minded bookworms, loving books and contributing back into the pool of knowledge, authors answering questions about their books and generating a following…all very sound.

Two problems that I am experiencing with Goodreads now have left me somewhat less enchanted with the concept; the IA behind the recommendations is not as clever as I first thought and the community of users appears to be gravitating towards the common denominator, i.e. no more collaborative or generous minded than a bunch of random people in a bus queue.

Recommendations : The more books you review, the better Goodreads can help you, right? Well, maybe…if you only read one kind of book. If your taste is wide-ranging and you read books that other people recommend, say because you’re in a book club, the less clued-up Goodreads is about what you really like.

Community : This is simple. I don’t have any in-depth psychoanalysis to educate you with. I did a Giveaway of ten copies of my last novel, ‘Dark Water’ nearly three months ago and only one of the ten has been gracious enough to write a review and leave any feedback. Now I know that the rules state that there’s no obligation on the recipients to do this but still, it’s common decency isn’t it?

Am I through with Goodreads? No, I don’t think so. Not yet. I think the soul is still in there. The passionate people are in there and I’m sure the AI will evolve…eventually. Right now though, I’m just a bit disappointed.

Free copies of ‘Dark Water’ – READ THIS

Hi folks, this offer is open to signed up subscribers of this website. I have 3 copies of ‘Dark Water’ to give away. My copies of the book arrive tomorrow. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and I hope the excitement rubs off on you. Reply to this article and say “I want one!” First three respondents will receive a signed copy in the post.

Ideas and suggestions for the title for book #2


Has anyone got any suggestions for the title for book #2? The theme is Aztec Elements. The second word has to be ‘water’ and the first word needs to be an adjective. The current working title is ‘Bad Water’, but my friend John says it’s not a great idea to have the word ‘bad’ in the title. I’ve got to admit that his suggestion, ‘Dark Water’ works well, especially as one of the scenes takes place in a flooded cavern.


The book sales of a self-published author

For anyone out there who has written a book and is wondering whether to self-publish or hold out for an agent and a publisher to say the magic word, ‘Yes’, here is the kind of thing you can expect if you go the SP route.

Go the traditional route and you may well spend months or years trying to get that book deal, but if or when it does, you may just become rich. If you go the self-published route, you’ll be able to start earning almost immediately and unless you’re a celebrity or have a gigantic social network, this is the kind of graph that you’ll be able to plot with your revenue from the first six months.

Graph of book sales

Graph of book sales

J.K. Rowling I ain’t! :-)

Aztecs – The Horoscope People

To my mind, book one of the Aztec Elements, ‘New Fire’ has a slightly modern feel to it. Yes, there are priests and ceremonies but the extent to which these affect the main characters is actually slight. When you read about the Aztecs, the overriding impression you get is that these people would have LOVED Russell Grant! The Aztecs lived their lives by religion and horoscopes. Take a look at this extract from writings by Alfonso Caso…

So great was the importance of religion for the Aztec people that we can say without exaggeration that their existence revolved totally around it. There was not a single act of public or private life which was not coloured by religious sentiment. It controlled commerce, politics and conquest. It intervened in every act of the individual, from birth until the moment when the priests cremated his corpse and interred the ashes.

And this, from a book by Warwick Bray…

Night was a dangerous time, for demons walked in the hours of darkness. Tezcatlipoca, god of the wizards, took many forms, appearing as a shrouded corpse, or a bundle of ashes which groaned as it billowed along, or a headless man with his chest and belly broken open. Anyone bold enough to seize this spectre and tear out its heart could demand a reward for giving it back, but there is no record of anyone having made the attempt.

I’m very happy with ‘New Fire’, but I want book 2, ‘Bad Water’, to feel as though it’s been steeped in superstition and I think that modern day readers, who quietly sneak a look at their horoscopes when no one is looking, will think that it’s all perfectly reasonable.

3 free, signed copies of ‘New Fire’

To enter the competition to win a signed copy of ‘New Fire’, leave a comment here explaining why you deserve a free copy. Competition closes 28th of Feb 2013. Judges decision is final. Submissions on other social media sites are also being taken into consideration but the winning three entries will be posted on this site.

Whole of chapter one

Two new things posted tonight…

Firstly, the third and final scene of chapter one is online. Read it here >> or get the PDF version here.

Secondly, thanks to the lovely Michelle Glithero, I have a Spanish translation of the first scene of chapter one.

Please leave a comment. Everyone registered on this site on the 1st of October 2012 will be entered into a prize draw for one of ten signed copies of the book.

Scene 2 – A little earlier than promised

Tomorrow night (12th July) was probably not a great night to promise to release scene two of chapter one since I’ll be running the J.P. Morgan Chase in Battersea Park and won’t get home until late. So here it is, a little earlier than promised.

The PDF version includes scenes one and two : New Fire – Chapter 1 – Scenes 1 and 2

Click here to see scene two in HTML.

Scene two introduces us to our hero Heart of the Jaguar (Ocelotyolotl in Nahuatl). His friends call him Jaguar. Jaguar’s closest friends are Obsidian Crocodile (Itzcipactli) and Precious Flower (Tlazoxochitl or possibly Quetzalxochitl depending on the context).

Before the ambush

This blog is really starting to be useful. Thanks to Geoff for reading the first section and coming up with some great editorial comments! Thanks to Safder for the encouragement too. Scene two from chapter one will be posted on Thursday. In the meantime, here is a short extract from chapter two.

Jaguar watched his friend examine his sword, checking each of the blades in turn to make sure they were tight. He felt queasy and decided to check his own weapon in the hope that it would calm his nerves. He slung a bag from his shoulder and took out the shield and his own sword. Jaguar’s was the traditional style, with none of the garish embellishments that most warriors favoured. Some carved the wooden hafts and tied colourful feathers to the head, but Jaguar’s father had shown him that clean lines and unfussy design allowed a warrior to check the weapon for faults more easily. He turned it over in his hands a few times, feeling the balance. It was a beautiful piece of work by Achcauhtli, the clan’s armourer. Six razor-sharp shards of polished obsidian gleamed even in the gloom of the ravine. The cutting stones were mounted in two rows of three, set on opposite sides to give a clean slicing action and to allow the weapon to be carried safely.

Jaguar cursed himself, irritated because of the fear that crawled over his skin.

Suddenly, Archer Eagle pulled back from the rift opening. He made a flattening motion with his hand and the warriors shrank back further into their hiding places. The enemy was close.