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 effect of price points on Kindle sales…

…is not as direct or simple as you might think. I changed the price of ‘New Fire’ from £3.50 down to 95 pence on Kindle thinking that it might boost sales as it brought the book within range of many casual purchasers, those prepared to take punt on an unknown book and author for the loss of a handful of small change.

If anything, the effect has been the reverse. From a post a few weeks back, you can see a chart that shows sales were dropping but since the reduction, I’ve sold just one eBook in four weeks! Although it’s hardly a statistically significant sample, I’m convinved that there’s an important link between price and perceived value, much like two identical but unkown vases; one in a charity shop and the other in an antiques store at 100x the price. Which is the more desirable? How many people will walk past the ‘junk’ in the charity shop without a second glance?

I’ll be raising the price to £2.99 or thereabouts at the end of the month. Or…do you think I should bump it up to £4.99 to continue the experiment? After all, I’ve got nothing to lose.

‘New Fire’ exerpt – Crocodile’s Story, Part 1

Night was absolute beneath the foliage and the only cue that Two Sign was there was the sound of his deep, steady voice.

‘This story begins with a happy child and a loving family who live in a peaceful village in a clearing in the woods. This child has two older sisters and an older brother.’

Jaguar guessed that the story was about Crocodile even though his friend had spoken very little of his life before he came to the city.

‘One day, while many of the men were out hunting and only the frail old men and the youngest warriors – like this boy’s older brother – were left to guard the village, a fearsome tribe of warriors swoops down upon them. The leader of this band of warriors was called Stone Monkey, a thin and evil man with one white eye and a lust to kill. Stone Monkey questioned the eldest of the village wanting to know the whereabouts of the fighting men and older women. The eldest told them they were all out, but refused to say anything more, so Stone Monkey beat him and still the old man held his tongue. Now the boy saw nothing of this. He was out, dutifully collecting firewood when these foreigners descended on his village.’

Two Sign let out a deep sigh.

‘Stone Monkey grew angry and stuck a spear in the old man’s stomach and then made him watch while he killed one of the boys who had been left on guard duty, the little boy’s brother as it happened. “I’ll kill another if you do not tell me where the rest of your people have gone!” he said. “And then I’ll kill another, then another.” The old man knew that nothing would spare the people who had been rounded up so he said nothing, concentrating instead on holding down the pain that burned in his belly. He knew Stone Monkey wished to see him suffer and refused to give him that satisfaction.’

Here Two Sign took out a gourd and drank a sip. Jaguar felt a nudge and realised that the Eagle Knight was offering him some water. He took a swig and passed the container back. There was a noise of the plug being turned in the neck of the gourd and then Two Sign began talking again.

‘The boy heard the commotion and the screaming from his village. He wasn’t far away. Returning cautiously to the edge of the clearing where the trees were thickest, he watched as his own brother was cut down. He saw Stone Monkey give the word to his men to burn the houses and watched as his sisters were tied up in a line with anyone else who was fit enough to run. Babies, toddlers and the infirm were butchered in the centre of the village or pushed into the flaming huts.’

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.

Nezahualcoyotl – Flute of the Smoking Mirror

I’m reading ‘Flute of the Smoking Mirror’ by Frances Gillmor. It’s a real gem and is providing me with ideas for book two. Here’s an extract…

One day in the market place he saw a procession of herb women and midwives leading a woman through the aisles between the close-shaded stalls. She scattered corn meal before her where she went, bidding farewell to the place forever.
    “For tonight you go to the bed of a great lord,” one of the women told her in the hearing of the boy.
    But the boys in the Calmecac whispered to him the truth.
    “Tonight she will be killed and skinned in honour of Toci, our Grandmother. Her skin will be taken to the temple of Cineteotl, son of Toci, as has been done since the princess of Culhuacan was skinned in Tenochtitlan…”
    He watched her go in the procession of midwives. He watched the mock battle in which she was pelted with yellow flowers so that she would not weep…she must go gladly to her death, deceived into happiness.

Library promotes local author’s book

A few months ago, I tried to persuade my local library to carry a poster advertising this website and the forthcoming book. I had to break out my best bottle of charm, but it did work. Since then, the poster’s gone, but I dropped by the library again just before Christmas to ask them if they’d like to adopt a copy of my book which they eagerly agreed to. So I dropped in today, to see where they’d put ‘New Fire’, and bless me if they haven’t gone and put a nice see-through plastic jacket on it and put it right next to the door on a promotional stand with about two-dozen other books! I sneaked a look inside at the lending record and things are less happy there. It’s yet to be loaned out. :( Still, sooner or later, it will snare some unsuspecting passer-by.

Tomorrow, ‘New Fire’ is free to Kindle owners. After tomorrow, there will only be one more day it will be available for free and that will be in February.

Amazon UK – ‘New Fire’ – Free on Kindle, 20/01/2013

Amazon USA – ‘New Fire’ – Free on Kindle, 20/01/13

Please let your reading friends know if they haven’t already got it.

Progress update – a journey in self-publishing

It’s a month since I published and it ought to be a good time to take stock. Here are some facts and figures on the ‘New Fire’.

Kindle copies sold in the UK: 17
Kindle copies sold in the US: 3
Paperback copies sold via Amazon UK: 6 (estimate)
Paperback copies sold via Amazon US: 2 (estimate)
Paperback copies sold myself: 10
Paperback copies as gifts: 17
Number of Amazon reviews: 3
Average Amazon review rating: 5-star!!!

Costs of publishing, website, business cards, posters and miscellaneous: £2000
Estimated breakeven date (based on above rates of return): June 2025.

My latest initiative to raise the profile is to ask reviewers on if they would consider ‘New Fire’. Aside from the 5-star reviews, the most important thing to me is that I’ve made an earnest start on book 2 now! As alluded to before, I have enough historical material to write a trilogy. Here goes…

The final stages in the run-up to publication

The good news is that I have the typeset proof back in PDF form.

The bad news is that I won’t be able – as I’d hoped – to give it the once over and send it back approved. I don’t like the way they’ve laid the chapter headings out. See what you think.

Layout of the chaoter headings for the novel 'New Fire'

Layout of the chaoter headings for the novel ‘New Fire’

Of course this means the publication date will be pushed back a few days.

Free, signed copies of ‘New Fire’ go to…

I’m pleased to announce the lucky recipients of a free, signed copy of ‘New Fire’ are:

1) sushil@rapatwar
2) TheWord
3) jcoldridge
4) marquzz295
5) roger_hartshorn
6) slimyedda
7) da
8) Wicks Wickramasinghe
9) wk57
10) Russell

These winners have been chosen at random from those of you who registered with this blog before the 1st of October. I will email each of the winners individually to ask for a postal address so that I can dispatch the book when it’s finally published. As the manuscript is going through the typesetting process right now, this shouldn’t be more than six weeks away.

I received the exciting news on Monday that ‘New Fire’ now has an ISBN number! Here it is: ISBN 978-1-78148-789-1