Friday, 21 February 2014

The Year of Unemployment

Pleased to announce my new release, a factual account of the year I graduated and was unemployed.

The optimistic – arrogant, perhaps – vision of a graduate’s future career is quickly beaten out of him by a sequence of hilarious and cringe inducing failures to secure work. Living at home with his Mum, this is an unimpeded insight into a young man’s struggles and successes in work, love and computer games! 

Laugh at the honest self-appraisals with a knowing nod to having shared those same experiences. If you cannot empathise with Michael, you are probably young enough to learn from his mistakes and commit his advice to memory. Ten pounds says you won’t, but you’ll have the chance to remember this amusing account of a year of unemployment in the future!    

I hope the Year of Unemployment will strike a chord with undergraduates, graduates and basically anyone who appreciates a funny, honest read packed with self-depreciating humour.  

Available on Amazon for only 77p!


Thursday, 20 February 2014

The only way England can make an impact at the Brazil world cup

Let’s face it: England is a mediocre side at best.  We’re hanging on to our past one glory from 1966 and still assuming we can cut it with the top teams.  I don’t even rate Rooney as a world-class footballer anymore; he’s an unfit baboon, greedy and a bad moral example.  We may, if we’re lucky, progress out of the group stage but that’s as far as we’ll go.  We’re not in the same league as Spain, Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina (plus many others).

What’s happening in Qatar is a disgrace, as someone who works in the Middle-East I’m fully aware of the situation.  Indians, Pakistanis and Nepali workers are used as cheap labour, in punishing heat and are paid bugger all.  They live in cramped accommodations and work non-stop, over 12 hours a day for a year or more.  

Latest reports say 500 Indian workers died last year, the figure is likely to be far higher.  FIFA don’t care, it’s that simple and the Qatar World Cup will not be cancelled.  

I’d be very proud to see the English team make a statement at Brazil, just as the kick-off is about to begin they could line up, drop their heads for a minute’s sympathy and then walk off and refuse to compete.  The British FA could also refund supporter’s tickets and airfare to keep the peace with traveling fans.    

I love football: it’s a joy to watch.  But hosting these elaborate tournaments at the expense of human lives, displacement and misery is inexcusable and defeats the spirit of sport.   

The biggest and only impact England can make is by doing something like this and I know it would make me proud to be an Englishman, a football fan and a human.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Dream world

Over the course of four days I jotted down my dreams as soon as I woke up.  Welcome to my dream world.

Night 1

I was selling my house, which was a detached mansion and nothing like my real life flat. In the basement there were zombies, unfortunately, but this didn’t present a problem to the prospective buyers. In fact, they were looking forward to the challenge.  What was problematic for them, though, was next door’s reptile problem: thousands of silver snakes, no bigger than a foot long and as thin as worms. These snakes were invading my neighbour’s driveway and slithering around their gardens.  They began to creep into my garden and scared away the would-be buyers, as well as me.  As I ran away from the snakes, I watched a Boeing-747 plane coming into land at the airport but it botched the landing, went around and soon developed a mechanical problem, subsequently heading for a crash landing on my street.  I ran and hid amongst the many back alleys as the plane crashed with a mighty boom.  

The dream then switched to me watching a UFC match on television, but this one had no rules and the fighters were brawling outside the cage.  The referee never stopped the fight, even when one fighter was clearly beating to death the other.  It was brutal to watch.  Then I was in a micro-machine car with a high-school friend called George, we were racing along the streets of my hometown of Morecambe and every time I crashed I was flung from the car and I felt the pain, although I was seemingly invincible to the death-inducing crashes.  After one crash I ended up alone outside Charing Cross tube station in London, asking passers-by to phone for an ambulance.  They did and as I sat waiting, one of my childhood friends called Michael was sat with me, but he was crying as the sirens approached.  I got in the ambulance and was transported to a big warehouse.  In the warehouse there were two suitcases and another man, who I didn’t recognise.  He told me we were spies and that we had to open the suitcases.  We did.  Other than clothing, there was nothing unusual inside the suitcases but at the bottom of each was an envelope. As I opened it - at the same time as the other man - we both read what it said and ducked for cover. The letter wanted us to kill the other man.  The rest of the dream was a battle between us two, involving detectives investigating us, barrels of acid and my mother begging me to stop the warfare.

Night 2

I was with my girlfriend’s family preparing the table for dinner, everything was normal.  Until my girlfriend started crying and I said we’d go for a walk instead.  We were walking through the streets when a giant red demon’s face appeared on one of the buildings, instructing everybody that the city was now in a game-world and people could do what they liked.  Immediately we were mugged by a little kid and after handing over our possessions I found my courage and chased him, tackled him and stole his weapon.  However, after recovering our belongings the mugger’s friends arrived and my girlfriend and I got into the back of a vehicle, ordering the driver to drive as fast as possible.  It was an epic car chase finishing with us in a jungle with the muggers still on our tail.  Our car was driving up a very steep slope but it stalled and we got out, thinking we were doomed until King Kong appeared and transformed me into a gorilla.  King Kong then challenged me to a tree-top race swinging from branch to branch and collecting bananas.  I won the challenge, surprisingly, whereupon I was rewarded with scratch-cards but told that I couldn’t claim the prize unless I saved the game.

Night 3    

I was in a large house, that had a converted loft, with my friends from high-school.  For some reason there was a polar bear outside the door and we had to fight to keep it at bay during the night.  We succeeded and then watched my friend George do some impressive acrobatics off the old, wooden beams which traversed the roof.  I was then in Asda, trying to find some jogging pants but whenever I picked them up they turned into cheese pizzas.  My old high-school teacher, Mr Walker, was also in Asda bellowing orders at the checkout girl.

The dream quickly switched to me walking around a university campus, which I didn’t recognise, and all of the buildings were located in the countryside.  I looked at the map of the campus, which turned out to be the Hyrule map from Zelda: Ocarina of Time and as I pointed at an old church I was transported to the exact place.  The church turned out to be a chemistry lab, which I broke into and hid within the cupboards while the scientists walked around.  They left and I got out, stumbling upon a man’s body and, finding he was unconscious, I carried his body to the nearby clinic and with the help of the doctor, frantically tried to resuscitate him.  Next thing I knew I was in a lift with Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover.  We were all in amazing, tailored black tuxedos and we were armed to the max with shotguns, machine guns and pistols.  The lift doors opened and we were in a gunfight with dozens of Chinese men, who got slaughtered by us.  Bradley Cooper and Zach left, base-jumping off the building’s roof but leaving me behind.  

One of the Chinese gunmen survived and stood back up, asking for forgiveness. I spoke with him, in English, and he told me his life story and how the woman he loved was alone back home.  I told him to go back home to the woman he loved but if he didn’t get there before I did I’d shoot her.  

Night 4

I was due to participate in the cross bay walk at Morecambe Bay with my girlfriend, but the wind was too strong and the event was called off.  I was disappointed and looked across the bay, surprised to see that not only was the tide still in, but there were a dozen massive cruise liners anchored stern-to against the coastal sea wall.  I turned around and walked back to bump into Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, who I promptly ignored and instead stopped to shake hands with an old school friend called Tom.   I was surprised to find out that Tom was the Royal Trombone player even though he never played any instruments in school.  Next thing I knew I was walking passed a shop when I noticed Arnold Schwarzenegger within a glass display cabinet that was packed with ice, and him shouting ‘ice-cold sales’ every ten seconds while flexing his pecks.  So I went into the shop but was deceived, as Arnold immediately broke out of the glass and then rushed me into a secret room at the back of the shop.  He told me the Columbians were coming any minute as we hid under rugs. The Columbians turned up and began shooting at the shop with machine guns.  Arnold handed me a remote device which detonated the floor we were on and we fell into a tunnel, which we escaped through and came out into a futuristic station of thousands of metal tubes.  Arnold and I crawled into a tube and fastened into our bobsleigh-like shuttle and were whisked far away to the other side of the world.  

Unfortunately the bobsleigh was then stopped half-way through the journey by the police.  Arnold handed me a laser gun and told me to fire.  The police turned out to be vampires who didn’t like the heat of the laser pen and backed away.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

My experiences of self-publishing and a guide

My experiences of being a self-published writer

The best thing you can do as a writer is to simply keep on writing.  It doesn’t matter if this is in the form of more books, short stories or reviews – everything helps and it stops you going insane from marketing.  I’ve been doing this for nearly two years now.  After releasing my first book I didn’t write for eight months and it was really getting me down, the non-stop marketing and trying everything possible just to get one sale a month!  

For the last few months I’ve changed tactics.  I still market, but I do it on a small-scale, person-to-person basis and more importantly, I make time for doing what I enjoy: writing.  I write because it’s my hobby, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to make money from it.  I dream of being paid to write three or four books a year by a publisher, even though it would pay less than my current job it would make me infinitely happier.  


Goodreads is a huge website, and very confusing for a beginner.  If you’ve just released your book don’t spam every forum, it’s a sure fire way to make enemies and get booted out.  Instead, join groups that you want to join because you are interested in discussions.  For example, I joined many fantasy groups where we talk about our favourite fantasy series and discuss Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings.  I don’t mention my books, ever, unless someone asks me about my writing.  Think long-term, like years, and build up an audience by interacting with readers and reviewing books.  Spend your day writing, and when your brain is numb and tired; then spend thirty minutes on Goodreads.  


Do not waste your money on advertising, you will never get your money back because even if one hundred people saw your book, maybe five would click on the banner, and then only one, or none, would go on to buy it.  

What is effective, however, are a few, small number of websites which have subscribers and a tailored, target audience for your  genre.  Because I’m nice here they are: Bookbub and Enewsreadertoday.

Bookbub is expensive but I’ve read and heard nothing but good things.  A promotion with these guys will boost your book sky high. The tricky part is being accepted so you will have to read the guidelines very carefully.  I’ve yet to be accepted, sad face, but you’re allowed to re-apply every two weeks.  Which I will keep doing until they are sick of me, like Andy does in The Shawshank Redemption sending out letters every week demanding a library fund!

But ENT is great because you pay them a share of whatever sales you make, so it’s a win-win.  

Of course, the hardest part is getting reviews in the first place.  Unless I have a new book out, I don’t discuss my books anymore with my friends or family because I know they are sick about me going on about it.  You will have to do the hard part, research bloggers for your genre and contact them, but make sure you read their review policy.  I’ll be honest, it looks like it’s getting incredibly tough to do this now because the market is saturated and reviewers are inundated with hundreds of requests a week.  

Amazon is also getting tougher with its reviews, they clamp down on friends and family posting reviews, especially if that person has never reviewed products before on the website, then comes along with a five star for your book.  The reader isn’t stupid either, they will see this.  

Don’t be disheartened either by one star reviews if you get them, I’ve seen a huge rise in one-star reviews dished out for such silly reasons.  I’ll judge a book by its cover, the quality of the blurb, and the ‘look inside feature’ – if I’m still hooked by the end I’ll buy it regardless of the reviews.  

Also: think long-term.  I plan to release two books every year until I’ve got perhaps twenty books out.  At the end of every new book, you can put a link to your other books and a little note saying: “Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this book please check out my others.”  It might not lead to sales, but it might do, especially if the reader enjoyed your writing style.  That’s the good thing with self-publishing, you are free to edit your manuscript and re-publish whenever you want.  

Get a professional editor; that goes without saying.  They can be expensive, but quality prevails and if you’re serious about being a writer, why would you take shortcuts on the most fundamental part?  As many times as you re-read your own novel, you always miss mistakes because your brain is reading it differently and letting you see what it wants you to see.  

I don’t know what constitutes success for being a self-published author.  I made 76 sales in January, my best month ever.  But it’s highly likely I’ll make less than ten for February just like the other months.  I honestly believe word-of-mouth is the best marketing strategy.  Think about it, how many times have you bought something because your friend has mentioned it? Or you have stayed clear of a product or a shop or a firm because others have bad-mouthed it? It’s the same with books: the best thing you can do is a put a well-edited, quality manuscript out there and keep on writing.   

Have faith that if someone enjoys your work, they’ll let others know too!