Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Paperback Release: Merzougaville, Baby by Stuart Ayris

I think it every time I read Stuart Ayris's latest offering: this is my favourite. But I think really this time, it is my favourite. There is something so...impossible to explain about Merzougaville, Baby, and, in fact, when I saw Stu in Derby last year and asked him, "What's the novel about?" his answer was, "It's Merzougaville, baby."

Stu writes with a kind of comforting mania. He's a beat writer out of time; he doesn't tell a story, he pours it. It's like wine that could be cheap, could be the dusty vintage from the back of some posh cellar, but when you're halfway down the glass, grimacing and laughing and crying with your mates, no matter the vintage. It's all just wine.
It’s all just words anyhow. It is what it is.
Words, rhythms, Stu-logisms...I'm a fan, I cannot lie.
Down below to my left there were valleys of orange and green, blue streams flecked with splashwhite and burble, shacks and specks and rocklined fields, dotpeople and flowers, all breathing and alive in this gaping glory between our mountain and all the others; all just a painting on the ground and no more, dropped from the high of the sky and unfurled into the world at the feet of these snow-topped cragwonder giants.
It's Merzougaville, baby.

Purchase Links:
Beaten Track [Paperback]
Amazon UK [Kindle Edition]
Amazon US [Kindle Edition]

About Stuart Ayris:
Stuart was born in the summer of 1969. He wrote his first novel, A Cleansing Of Souls, when he was twenty-two years old and then wrote nothing for many years. He then began writing The FRUGALITY Trilogy and published Tollesbury Time Forever in January 2012, The Bird That Nobody Sees in June 2012 and I Woke Up This Morning in April 2013. A novella, The Buddhas of Borneo, and his fifth full-length novel, The Magical Tragical Life of Edward Jarvis Huggins, followed in 2014.

Over the years Stuart has set up stalls in Romford market, spent two years working as a road sweeper and some time as a council gardener. He has been a psychiatric nurse since October 1997 and currently lives in Tollesbury, Essex, England.

He is married to Rebecca and has three children, Matthew, Daniel and James.

By Stuart Ayris:
A Cleansing of Souls
Bighugs, Love and Beer

Frugality (Trilogy)
Tollesbury Time Forever
I Woke Up This Morning
The Bird That Nobody Sees

The Buddhas of Borneo
The Magical Tragical Life of Edward Jarvis Huggins
Elysian Wonderland
Merzougaville, Baby

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

New Release: Turnabout by Jonathan Penn

Jonathan Penn is a very talented author who doesn't write anywhere near as much as he should. These days he's mostly too busy editing to 'put pen to paper'. Nonetheless, to date, he has five published stories, and whilst it was only a few days ago he told me, "If I never read Raising Cade again, it will be far too soon," I will state here, without reservation, I've loved all of his stories, Raising Cade included.

I should probably also mention that I was involved, in one way or another, in the publishing of four of those stories—all five, with the release of Turnabout (2nd ed.). I beta-read Raising Cade; I edited and published Homme for the Holidays and Aloha? Oy! I also edited Forbidden Broadway (MM Romance Group, 2015).

That only one of these stories earns Jonathan royalties (Aloha? Oy!) says much about his generosity. Both Raising Cade and Forbidden Broadway were written for the "Don't Read in the Closet" event organised by the MM Romance Group on Goodreads. The event matches readers with authors via a prompt-claiming system, and the stories are written and published for free.

Homme for the Holidays (an excellent festive sequel to Raising Cade) is part of Boughs of Evergreen anthology, published by Beaten Track in November 2014, royalties from which go to The Trevor Project.

And then there is Turnabout.

Originally published in 2014 as part of the Kickass Anthology (Mugen Press), Turnabout is a short story about self-belief and how the love of another is often the route to finally believing in ourselves. It's the story of Bobby and Cam, whose lives are violently interrupted by a homophobic thug, prompting Bobby to bravery.

Being a short story doesn't mean it packs less of an emotional punch. Jonathan writes scenes that are emotionally intense; they alternately set my heart racing in fear and make me melt in a puddle of tearful sadness/happiness/goo. However, short stories are difficult to review in detail without giving too much away.

The important point here (or one of two important points) is that Turnabout is a wonderful short story that is well worth the 99c cover price - see below for purchase links.

The other important point is that all net proceeds from the sale of Turnabout go to Eric Arvin's medical fund. You can read more about that here:

Purchase Links:
Beaten Track [ebook - multiple formats]
Smashwords [ebook - multiple formats]
Amazon UK [Kindle Edition] [Kindle Edition]
All Romance eBooks [ebook - multiple formats]

Kickass Anthology:
Amazon [ebook/paperback]

About Jonathan Penn:
Jonathan grew up in the South. While relatively new to the world of writing, he has been inventing tales for at least fifty-one years. He was probably also making stuff up during the two years prior to that, but as this was his pre-verbal period, there’s no evidence one way or the other. An armchair linguist, he has taught himself to ask, “Where is the bathroom?” in seven languages. He enjoys gardening, He gardens, and enjoys red wines, cooking, singing, theatre, and of course, writing. Jonathan reminds himself every day how fortunate he is to have shared the best and worst of the last thirty-five years with the man of his dreams.

Email Address:
Twitter: @jpennwrites
Beaten Track:

By Jonathan Penn:
Raising Cade
Homme for the Holidays
Aloha? Oy!
Forbidden Broadway

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Love Unlocked - Blog Tour, Release Day...

February 14th, 2016 - Valentine's Day - sees the release of Love Unlocked.

Love Unlocked is a collection of seven short stories and novellas - unique LGBTQ romances inspired by the Love Lock Bridge.

The Stories:
(click on the story titles for more information - stories can also be purchased individually)

Today is also the start of our blog tour (huge thanks to Pride Promotions) - seven days of author interviews, reviews, giveaways and other fun - details below! 

14-Feb: Boy Meets Boy Reviews
14-Feb: Hearts on Fire
14-Feb: Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
15-Feb: Jessie G. Books
15-Feb: Divine Magazine
15-Feb: Caraway Carter
16-Feb: Multitasking Mommas
16-Feb: Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
16-Feb: BFD Book Blog
17-Feb: Book Lovers 4Ever
17-Feb: Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews
18-Feb: Molly Lolly
18-Feb: Andrew Q. Gordon
19-Feb: Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings
19-Feb: MM Good Book Reviews
20-Feb: Happily Ever Chapter
20-Feb: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
21-Feb: Alpha Book Club
21-Feb: Love Bytes
22-Feb: Wake Up Your Wild Side
22-Feb: Bayou Book Junkie
23-Feb: Boys on the Brink Reviews
23-Feb: A.M. Leibowitz
23-Feb: Inked Rainbow Reads

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Slaves to Creativity - why we need to stop doing stuff for free

Where to begin...

OK, I'm going to try and get this into some sensible form, but I have so many thoughts. The one I need to mention first is that I support Kristen Lamb's 'call to arms', which is why I'm writing this blog post.

 If you haven't already read Kristen's blog post, you can find it here:

We creative people are being exploited, no two ways about it. We are not being paid fairly for our work. And if we complain, we're told it's because the market is over-saturated. After all, the online revolution means anyone can now create content. If we want to make money from what we create, then we need to create quality products of value that people are prepared to pay for.

All nonsense.

There are plenty of examples in Kristen's blog post that make it very clear this is about exploitation, NOT saturation of the market place with valueless products.

Here's a personal example: one of my stories - Breaking Waves - received this one-star review:
Don't waste your money ($1.99) or time getting involved in this so call [sic] "BOOK". Only 66 pages. It was more like a short story. Shame on authors chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of potential readers. SHAME-SHAME ON SUCH AUTHORS.
To clarify, Breaking Waves is a novella of just over 22,000 words. It took me at least a fortnight to write, never mind the rest of the refining, editing, proofreading, formatting and publishing process. But for illustrative purposes, let's go with a really conservative (under)estimate here, and assume it took me two forty-hour weeks from blank page to publication and without having to pay for the services of an editor, proofreader or cover designer (because we all work for free, you know, just for the love of what we do <- sarcasm).

At the UK minimum wage of 6.70 GBP, I should have been paid 536 GPB for my efforts.

I guarantee you, with a cover price of 1.99 USD, I have earned nowhere near that in royalties on Breaking Waves.

In fact, when I analysed my earnings from writing and publishing for 2014-5, I earned 2.90 GBP (4.20 USD) an hour. If I no longer helped other writers publish their work, I could double my hourly pay.

But still I would not earn the UK minimum wage.

Don't waste your money ($1.99) or time getting involved in this so call "BOOK". Only 66 pages. It was more like a short story. Shame on authors chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of potential readers. SHAME-SHAME ON SUCH AUTHORS.
No doubt many of the people who read this (or other posts on the same 'theme') will be thinking I'm skint because the stories I write and publish are not in demand, or they're not a quality product.

I don't care how arrogant it sounds, but that's poppycock. I know, because my own stories and those of the authors I work with get excellent ratings and sell very well. Sadly, because many are short stories (10k words) and we're dealing with greedy readers like the one above (not all readers are like that - thank you to those who buy our books and support us -  we really appreciate it), we have to set low prices on shorter publications.

As most of our sales come via Amazon's Kindle store, we're receiving only 35% of each sale, while they are taking 65%. It's our work, goddamn it!

And that is the thing that Kristen did not say.

Whilst the 'culture of free' is a huge part of the problem and we all need to take a stand against it, it is not THE problem.

Of course Oprah and her team didn't comment on Revolva's situation.
Why would HuffPost have anything to say about Wil Wheaton's refusal to be a part of the rip-off scandal?

They are earning ALL THE MONEY while we, the creators of their content, are EARNING BUTTONS at best.


On one side are the customers demanding free stuff.
On the other are the corporations demanding free stuff. In the middle...

There's us.

Writers, songwriters, musicians, artists, photographers, designers, programmers, editors, etc. etc.

We make the internet.

We do.

We have the power to shift the balance, not in our favour, but in a way that makes it fair for everyone, us included.

We don't work for free.

It has to stop.

What you can do:
Post, repost, comment, make a stand.
Refuse to work for free.
Tell other people why you refuse to work for free.

Link to Kristen's post:

Link to Revolva's open letter to Oprah:

Link to Wil Wheaton's post about not writing for the Huffington Post:

Thanks for reading
Deb x
(Beaten Track Publishing)