Monthly Archives: February 2017

How To Set Up Twitter Ads For Your Books: A Complete Guide By Alfageek

Detailed plan for preparing and setting up Twitter ads for books! Many thanks to Alfageek for this great insight and to Nicholas Rossis for sharing….

Nicholas C. Rossis

Joshua Edward Smith | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksI’ve mentioned Joshua Smith’s (aka Alfageek’s) excellent blog in the past (in Alfageek Shares His Bookbub Ads Experience and The Benefits Of KDP Select: One Author’s Experience).

Well, the man has done it again and produced the best guide in setting up Twitter ads I’ve ever seen. He has detailed everything in six (!) consecutive posts aptly titled Step By Step Instructions for Promotion of your Book with Twitter Ads. I will be repeating here the gist of it in a single, easy-to-bookmark post with my experience added to Joshua’s, but be sure to check out the complete posts on his blog if you decide to go down the Twitter ads route.

How To Set Up Twitter Ads For Your Books

twitter tips | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Photo by

Using Twitter Ads, Joshua has been able to sell an average of almost 3 copies of his first novel a day, day in…

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Children’s Corner – Winnie and Wilbur by Valerie Thomas

img_1994Known in its original form simply as Winnie the Witch this wonderful book has since grown into a whole series and Winnie and Wilbur is the new edition of that first book.

The story is simple but brilliant. Winnie the Witch lives in a black house with a black door and black furniture; everything is black. This does not work well when Winnie’s black cat Wilbur is curled up on a chair or the top of the stairs. With his beautiful green eyes closed he becomes invisible and Winnie is always tripping over him.

But Winnie has the answer, she is a witch after all. So she sets about casting spells to turn Wilbur all sorts of bright colours so that he can been seen. At first Winnie is delighted with the results but poor Wilbur is miserable until the perfect solution occurs to Winnie, to turn her house into bright colours and give Wilbur back his beautiful black fur.

This is such a classic and fun picture book with a story brought to life by Korey Paul’s fantastic illustrations. A must for every small child’s book shelf.

Review Wednesday – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

img_1987The story begins with the most unlikely of events, a death at a school fundraising night in the small beachside town of Pirriwee. We then go back six months to begin a countdown of happenings and misunderstandings that will eventually lead to that death.

Jane has moved into the community with young son Ziggy who is just about to start nursery school. On the way to the all-important orientation morning Jane meets Madeline and Madeline introduces her to Celeste. It turns out they are all on their way to the orientation meeting. 

This is an upmarket community where the important things in life like money and status are what matter most. The topics of conversation are what someone was wearing, hair-dos, ex husbands, ex wives and school politics. As a single mother Jane is an outsider to this exclusive club but soon finds allies. 

There are lots of little sub-plots. Madeline is having problems with her 14 year old daughter, Celeste is unhappy at home and Jane has a deep, dark secret that is going to shatter them all. There are serious issues covered here in a way that I felt was both sympathetic and realistic.

Throughout the narrative we hear commentary from some of those that were there at the fundraiser-from-hell. Everyone has their own opinion as to who was to blame for the untimely death.

I have to say I didn’t love this book. At times, I didn’t even like it and it was tough to go on to the end, but I did always admire it. The writing is confident, the dialogue spot on and the story cleverly wends its way to a conclusion  that is unexpected but also neatly ties in all the loose ends.

My problem was the characters and their self-centred, self important ways. After a reading session I felt as if I needed a long walk on a deserted beach to appreciate the simple and good things in life and that I should drag these characters along with me, (away from their poor children), kicking and screaming if necessary and say LOOK AROUND YOU. APPRECIATE NATURE. FORGET ABOUT WHO HAS A BLONDE BOB AND WHO HIT WHO IN THE PLAYGROUND.

Lesson learned. This book has great reviews but it just wasn’t a good choice for me.

Children’s Books and What They Mean to Me

img_1990Books. When I was a child, I couldn’t get enough of them. Picture books, children’s encyclopaedia’s especially the sections on Volcanoes, tropical islands and exotic animals! I loved Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five series, because those kids had such adventures. Also, just William by Richmal Crompton and Jennings and Derbyshire by Anthony Buckeridge for their downright naughtiness. Later I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries.

When my children were small I began to discover children’s books all over again, old favourites and bright, new books. Parents are so lucky, moving through a few short years of The Hungry Caterpillar and Dear Zoo to The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Mog and Winnie the Witch and on to longer stories. When we read together (long after the children could read for themselves) The Animals of Farthing Wood, Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad Series, Diggers, Truckers and Wings, and of course Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox and others I couldn’t wait for the next chapter any more than the children. I never got to read the Harry Potter books to my children as they came a little too late but I’m looking forward to that pleasure with my grandchildren.

At the time that I finished writing my first novel, The Palaver Tree, we also happened to be moving house and I came across an old box file of my writing from way back when I used a typewriter. In there was the outline for a children’s book that I had long ago imagined and named Kelly at Come-alive Cottage. I was excited by the story that I had forgotten and decided there and then that I would next produce a children’s book. After all, I told myself,  the process of writing a novel is a long and sometimes arduous task. I thought my little fifty page chapter book would be a breeze.


It  was hard, just like any writing project, but it was fun and different and also gave me a new respect for children’s writers.

My blog is all about my love of and experience with books and, for a while I have wanted to separately feature some of the best children’s books, both old and new.  This is what Fridays will look like on the blog.

I started last Friday with a brand new and lovely book by Cat Michaels, The Magical Aquarium.

Which  children’s books have you loved and remembered? If you can recommend a favourite old or new or have written a children’s book please contact me with ideas for this feature. I will be choosy, I want to feature those that I would love to share with the next generation of readers (and parents!) I will be reading and reviewing each book, so please, none longer than about fifty pages. There  are still a lot of novels out there to read too!

Children are the next generation of readers. Who knows what publishing will look like by the time they grow up? Let’s give them all the encouragement we can with great books to start their reading journey.

My Come-alive Cottage Series





Books for Children -The Magical Aquarium by Cat Michaels

img_1989PJ and big sister Blake take a fun trip to a new aquarium in The Magical Aquarium by Cat Michaels. The first surprise is that Blake (a second grader) is driving her younger sister to the aquarium, but this is a book about magic and so anything can happen. The author leaves a nice little note at the end of the book telling children they will have to wait a while longer before they can really drive a car.

Once safely at the aquarium the two girls soon make friends with Merrie who shows them around and there are some special surprises in store involving meeting talking sea creatures and tea-time with mermaids.

This is a charming story. Pj and Blake’s love for sea-life shines through right from the very start. Though the narrative is, in one way, quite whimsical it is dotted very cleverly with fun facts about sea creatures. There is a mix of photographs and illustrations and, at the end, some words to discuss (lagoon, kelp, coral) as well as some more photos and descriptions of creatures children might see on their own visit to an aquarium. There is even a short video clip of a scuba diver in shark tank.

This is a lovely story, with just the right amount of interesting information added. Great to be read before a visit to a real aquarium, especially for children visiting for the first time. I expect some little ones (and some not so little) will be hoping to get a peak at a mermaid too.

*With thanks to the author who provided and Advanced Copy with no obligation to review*

Review Wednesday – Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

img_1988Ragdoll has already been getting some seriously good attention from reviewers in advance of publication and it’s not difficult to see why. The blurb is sensational. A killer who stitches together the parts of his victims to make a puppet-like corpse dubbed The Ragdoll by the press. Not only that, he has more murders planned and releases a list and the dates when he will  kill these latest victims.

The rush is on to hunt down the killer and save those intended to die next.

Detective Wlliam Fawkes (Wolf) is on the case in many more ways than one. He has a history that is interwoven with this new crime and even those closest to him are not sure what that is.

The story is complex with twists, some of them truly horrible, as are the ongoing crimes committed during the final race to catch the killer.

Several reviewers have commented that this was originally a rejected screenplay but surely, after the book, it will finally make the screen in one form or another. The characters are larger than life, the killings are larger than life and the final scene is something straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. Highly recommended – cast Iron stomach required!

*Many thanks to Orion Publishing Group and Netgalley for an Advanced Review Copy of this book


How Many Stars – How Do You Rate A Book?

img_1986When I post a review here on my blog I don’t give the book a star rating but when I share the reviews with Amazon and Goodreads I do.

Of course without star ratings on a huge site like Amazon it would be very difficult (or next to impossible)  for readers who are browsing for their next book to find something quickly. Without being able to see the general consensus through star ratings they would have to trawl through thousands of reviews. Clearly that couldn’t work.

Yet I am still a little at odds with myself over the awarding of stars. Quite often I have seen a book with great reviews get a one star for reasons that, to me at least, are unreasonable. Sometimes it seems to have been a technical difficulty with the download or, just as bad, because the reader didn’t agree with the outcome. Whilst, as a reader, I have a dislike of what I would judge as unlikely or rushed endings, and would make that point within a review I would never mark a review down because the main character dies in the end or doesn’t get the girl even if I personally  thought that would have been a better conclusion. After all it’s the author’s story and as long it is well executed, that is how the ending is, as far as I’m concerned. Their decision.

So, here is the thing I am getting to. I read a book last week that I thought img_1985was perfectly written, good characterisation, a clever plot and a satisfying, clever and unexpected conclusion but, guess what? I really didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t the ending, it wasn’t the middle, it was all of it.  (I should add here that a quick scan of reviews shows I am vastly in the minority)

Although I do try to read widely, I am wary of some genres, foe example, Science Fiction as there is a good chance the book won’t appeal to me, (although The Martian was one of my top reads last year). But when I picked up a book on Audible I thought I was onto a  sure thing. A small town, lots of secrets, a disagreement that leads to murder. Perfect.

I don’t want to actually review the book here, that will come later, but I do want to say that the story revolves around a nursery school, the children, the mother’s and the minutiae of their lives. There are important issues, domestic violence, broken families but there are also outfits, shoes, money and the absolutely endless  politics surrounding school life. I couldn’t bear these characters,  their self importance and their duplicity anymore than I could in real life.

Now I ask myself, what is a fair star rating for this book as far as my reading experience of it goes? I have no doubt at all of the author’s talent. The book has a strong storyline and fast, witty dialogue. I know other readers loved this book.

I am giving it a three. I couldn’t give it less because the book doesn’t deserve it and I can’t give it more because I couldn’t enjoy it.

Is that fair?


Review Wednesday -The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza

img_1983This is the second book in Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster crime novels series and, if anything, I think the author had upped his game. I loved this story, a quick and exhilarating read.

Erika is on the trail of a serial killer and via an internet chat room we, the reader, are soon introduced to Duke and Night Owl, persons of undoubted interest as far as this case is concerned, though the police are unaware of their existence at that time. Most readers will put two and two togther and realise the identity of the killer even before the author reveals the truth but it is meant to be that way. We know more than Erika and her team and can only hope that she can pull the pieces of the puzzle togther before more people die.

Erika is in trouble with her superiors again, always having a little too much to say but no one can deny she is fiercely loyal to her friends and to her job. Getting suspended from work She is out on her own again and, because of the strong story line I didn’t mind, but I think it will be a bit of a stretch if it keeps happening.

Erika’s backstory (the death of her husband) is nicely continued without the need to throw her headlong into new relationships, which is refreshing.

I will definitely be back for more.

Review Wednesday – The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler

img_1982The question at the heart of The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler is ‘Do we ever really know anyone, even our nearest and dearest? The answer, clearly, is no. We can’t ever know for sure what goes on in someone else’s mind but also they can never know what goes through ours and so there is a vast capacity for misconception.
The story is split into parts that go beyond viewpoint. We meet The Wife, the Colleague, The Mother etc and at first I thought each was connected to the Lyndford Strangler who is terrorising the local area  but no, each person had a separate story to tell and the links back to the crime  were sometimes direct, sometimes tenuous. This was the whole point, to keep the reader guessing and to contemplate the real identity of the killer through the eyes of ordinary people who feared him.

It took me a little while to get to know the characters of each part of the story but once I did I wanted to know how each little scenario would play out. This is a really original and clever modus operandi for a crime mystery. We peek into the lives of different groups and I was invested in every one. I loved the way the author played on the worries, fears and the shortcomings of the characters, (some of them quite sinister), making the story multi-layered.

The narrative is straightforward and fluid and the dialogue spot on.

Very enjoyable.