Thursday, 16 August 2012

Are you creative? Got what it takes to make a blockbuster?

This month we're giving you a chance to flex your creative muscles.

Taylor Street Publishing are offering an exciting opportunity to come up with a new title for one of their books.

'Casablanca - My Heart' by Hannah Warren is a spellbinding romance set against the glorious backdrop of Morroco. Kathleen Hewtson, Managing Director explains:

"Occasionally a book doesn't take off as we were expecting. In this case we feel that the title may be failing to excite the target audience and as we have such faith in the writing, we've decided to take the unusual step of re-branding and re-launching the book. We are sourcing some beautiful new artwork but we'd like some help with the most important change - the title!"

How do you enter?

"You can download the book with its current name - Casablanca-My Heart - from here for 77 pence, or for a similarly low price from your region's Amazon site. We have also put some of the reviews below, which we feel may help give a feel of the book. Simply suggest a name by commenting on the below post and on Thursday 23rd August, well announce the one we like best!! The winner will receive an acknowledgement in the front of the book, a paperback copy of the book and an Amazon gift voucher for £15."*

Fancy a go? Better get reading - you've only got a week!!

REVIEWS for 'Casablanca - My Heart'

I confess that the title of this book made me think it would be a pleasant but unedifying Mills and Boon style of story. And it is written in present tense throughout, another of my peeves. But Hannah Warren handles this style of writing so skilfully that it felt natural and not intrusive in any way. This is not her first language but, my goodness, she writes far better than many an English native. She employs simple elegant sentences, brings to life places and people, colour, atmosphere and beauty. Even the minor characters feel so real they are there before your eyes, the mark of a truly good writer.
The main character Heather, a successful writer of romance novels, is a woman torn by guilt and pain. She feels it is her fault that her beloved husband, Luuk, lies in a coma after a terrible motor accident. In an effort to get away for a while, she books a cruise to Casablanca and meets there a handsome Persian who, while appearing a bit of a playboy, is very attractive. (Yes, I see Omar Sharif too!) He in turn is determined to meet her and seems to know all about her life and loves. The mystery intrigues and terrifies her.
The characters with their complexities, their needs, their feelings are beautifully fleshed out. It's truly a story with a soul, not a mere amusing romance. In some places reminiscent of a Francoise Sagan novel.


English is not Hannah Warren's first language but this book is written to perfection. Editors play their part of course but they cannot capture the soul of a book. This comes from the author and Hannah has left her soul in this book in my humble opinion.
Just say the name Casablanca and it conjures up the feeling of romance, exotic spices, and hot nights in the Casbah.
As the story opens from Heather's perspective she looks across the dining table on board ship and is aware of Ghalib a Moroccan Prince. A modern day Omah Sharif if you will. So begins the love story.
As the story twists and turns through the years from Ghalib's prospective and then Heather's, we discover how their lives become entwined and how fate finally takes a hand in their lives.
This is not just a wonderful romantic story it has depth of soul and eventually all soul mates come together regardless of where they are in the world.
I loved every moment and was disappointed when I finally read the last page as this reader wanted more.
I thoroughly recommend this captivating story.

Suggestions below - good luck!!

In association with UK Prize Finder: The number one community for competitions<a href="" title=" - home of competitions and prize winning" target="_blank">ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions</a>

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

We're back! Check out this great interview:

After a month away for summer (or what passes as an English summer) along with the excitement of the Olympics, Kings of Kindle are back in the office and ready to uncover some serious gems for your e-reader.

We kick off with a fantastic interview with the ridiculously talented Matt Shaw….

We all remember those books from when we were younger – the adventure ones where you chose how the book went – ‘if you think that he should take the mountain path, turn to page 32.’ ‘If you think he should fight the yeti, turn to page 14.”
Matt Shaw, the prolific and bestselling author, has produced a grown up version – complete with his own personal and self-admitted brand of ‘sick’.

We got to chat with him...

So, Matt – a choose your own adventure book for grown-ups. What a brilliant idea, how did you come up with the concept?

I was chatting with some friends (yes, I do actually have some.... well, okay... it was a ‘friend’ but regardless, I was still chatting to them) about the books we used to read as a kid. The Choose Your Own range came into the conversation and, the more we were fondly recalling our experiences with them (I used to cheat) the more I thought it would be sweet to do a version for adults. Chatting with some of readers on my author page, some of them hadn’t even heard of this style of book but were still well up for having a blast with one.

It helps the E-Reader platform lends itself to the gimmick really well too. You don’t need page numbers, you don’t need chapters. Just sentences at the end of each ‘segment’ giving you a choice of what you want the main character to do next. All you need to do is click on the hyperlink (even more fun if you have a touch screen!) and you’re magically whisked away to the next part of the story. And it makes it really, really hard for the cheating gits out there who try and go backwards if they’ve made a mistake.

The book is not for the faint of heart. Are you particularly fond of horror as a genre?

I actually like comedy books best of all (one of my favourite books, I wrote, is ‘The Vampire’s Treaty) but I’ve found they don’t sell as well as ‘horror’. Early on, I found people liked the horror stories I did write so I’ve kind of gone on from there - following the market but I’ll never ignore the ‘funnies’ which is why there’s always a hint of comedy in my darker books. Yes the situations are particularly nasty (kidnap, murder etc) but, because I write through the first person perspective, it allows me to drop in the odd throw-away line or jokey comment. I think humour, even in horror, is important.  

I was criticised for this in a recent review. Apparently the ‘humour’ stops my books from being truly horrifying but I believe sometimes it helps make the horror even worse when it does rear it’s ugly head.

The Happy Ever After’ series of books are extremely dark but people loved the main character, Peter, because of his many quirks and witty, little thoughts he has through-out the story. I think, if you take those away, what you’re left with is just another tale of kidnap...zzzzzzzzzzzz

There seems to be a certain amount of glee in pushing boundaries and seeing how far you can take things. Would you agree with that and does that come out in your other writings or creative activities?

I was worried about this interactive story, ‘A Christmas to Remember’, because I thought I had pushed a scene too far. I don’t want to give it away but it involves a severed head. I sent the book to various people, so they could test it for me, and it came back with a mixed reaction. They all agreed it was shocking but seventy percent of them reckon they had seen worse so.... yeah... it stayed in the book.

Sometimes I have really dark ideas, for stories, but then I bottle them because I know it would turn so many people off my writing that it’s just not worth it. There is a fine line. Just comes down to being able to recognise where it is before you’ve crossed it. You only need to push as close as you can possibly get without falling over it.

If you’re not willing to push boundaries and take things as far as they can possibly go (before they turn ‘ridiculous’ or ‘extremely offensive’) then how are you ever going to write something which stands out from the rest of the published words out there?!

You are an astonishingly prolific author with over 25 titles currently available on Amazon. What is the secret to churning out so many novels and do you have any tips for aspiring writers who lack the self-motivation?

If you lack self-motivation give up now. That’s not me being harsh either. There’s just very little point in going for a career in writing if you can’t even be dedicated enough to sit at a computer and bash away at the keyboard. I’d even tell them to give up if they only have a little motivation too. You have to be one hundred percent dedicated to it or the slightest little upset will cause you to stop writing (bad review, bad feedback from a friend.... something good on the telly). Sometimes I’d like nothing more than to sit on my arse with a Playstation controller but I don’t dare. It’s taken me years to build up a readership and I fret that, as soon as I stop writing, they’ll stop following...

As for what I write: I used to write, about, a book a month. About. Roughly. That was whilst I was holding down a full-time job in Hell (not really Hell but... if Hell existed... it would have been that office). I gave that up a few months ago and now all I do is write. I have to as I have bills that need to be paid (and sometimes they aren’t!)

I sit at the computer early in the morning and stay there until late at night. If I’m not writing a story, I’m pushing my books on different book groups on Facebook or chatting with people who are members of my author page. Facebook being the only real place I actively utilise. I’m a member of Goodreads but.... only so I can keep an eye on what people are saying about my work! If I’m not at the computer, I’ll be on the settee with my notebook - scribbling down ideas from the dark recesses of my damaged imagination (some of which go onto become books, some of which just sit there until the ink fades on the page). Basically, I’m always ‘thinking’ stories. To give you an idea of how long I am at the computer for - I have to change my keyboard batteries once a month, if not more.

But there’s other little factors too which help me knock out the books quickly too...

I never do ‘re-writes’. If a book I’m working on isn’t working out. I jump ship and start something else. Once I’ve finished writing the book, I pass it onto someone else to edit (NEVER edit your own work). They pass it back, I give it a once over.... and release.

I keep them short and sweet. My books are usually around 90-150 pages in length. Novellas. I like them like this because they’re what I call ‘quick reads’. Sometimes people don’t have time to sit in a book for days in and days out and they want something quick they can read. A story they can start and finish - without ageing another year in the process. The length of my work is reflected in the price - I don’t charge over £3 for a book. Some of my books are even as little as 77p. See, I think it’s important to keep prices low to encourage people to give you a go (another reason why I’m always offering free book promotions and giving books away on my author page.... I want people to give me a go!)

I once had a lady send me a book (please don’t do this) about werewolves. Now, I know I’m no Stephen King but, honestly, this was proper bollocks. It was poorly written, dull, flat characters.... she was adamant she wanted to release it so I talked her through the process and told her she’d be best off keeping the price low if she wanted to sell any copies as people are reluctant to fork out big money on Kindle.

“No way!” she said. “My work is worth at least £9.99...”

Last I heard, she sold one copy. To her mum.

Just realised that has nothing to do with this. Let’s move on....

(Goes off to get some toast, whilst contemplating moving on....)

You once had a column in NUTS Magazine, and are a cartoonist. With your irreverent sense of humour you are not the normal image people have of an author. What did you want to be when you were at school and what do your friends from that period think of your success these days?

My friends thought I’d grow up to be a serial killer or some kind of psycho. Seems apt that I write about those kinds of characters, really.

I always wanted to be on stage, in films or writing screenplays. I only turned to writing books because people used to love my stories and I figured I’d have more chance selling a novel compared to a screenplay. When self-publishing came about, I didn’t think twice - especially having wasted so much time sending off to publishers and agents.... people who wouldn’t even LOOK at my work.

As for the ‘success’ of selling books at the moment - I’m happy with where things are headed (could always be better) but my friends don’t know. Don’t talk to them anymore. Not since I killed them.

Which authors work do you most enjoy and what, if any, genres do you dislike?

You know, I rarely read. How bad is that? I’m more of a cartoon kind of bloke. Love the work of Gary Larson (‘Far Side’) and, of course, Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes). If I read a book it’s normally one of mine because they’re THAT amazing. Cough. Not really, I like autobiographies - like ‘My Booky Wook’ by Russell Brand (follow-up was wank, though). And if you haven’t read ‘Billy’ by Pamela Stephenson, you really need to!

If I’m in the mood for stories, I always look for the darker stuff of Roald Dahl. His short stories are just about long enough to hold my attention and are awesome! I love the way he throws a twist at the end. He inspires me (or did anyway, he’s dead now ever since that train accident.....) Guess that’s why I like writing short stories and novellas too with a nice twist in the end!

Finally, Matt – as a writer what are the feelings that you are trying to provoke in your readers when they close the final pages (e-close, naturally) on one of your books?

Goosebumps. To me the ending is the most important aspect of the book. The opening gets their attention. The ending makes them buy another. Can’t remember who said that (might have been my Nan) but... ‘tis very true.

I had a message, the other day, via a psychic medium (not really, was on Facebook). Some nice lady, on my author page, who said she was sat in the car reading ‘9 Months - Book One’ when she suddenly screamed at the ending. Apparently the driver nearly crashed. Obviously I don’t want my readers to crash in horrific accidents but, if they scream.... I’m good with that.

One review (I read them all) has mentioned how the ending has haunted them for days after they finished the book. I call that a result.

Thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed by us today, Matt.

No. Thank you.

For the record, the toast I mentioned earlier - I burnt.

So, there you have it. A gruesome, grotesque Choose Your Own Adventure book. No doubt your interest is piqued so, will you:

  1. Buy it immediately from here
  2. Check out Matt’s other titles on Amazon.
  3. Check out Matt's Facebook Page
You decide!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Drum roll.... drrrr.... drrr... drrr - And The Winner Is:

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition to win an entire Kindle library - One HUNDRED books!

All the names were printed out, torn into tiny little pieces and then we scattered them on the floor and gave the job of choosing a winner to our office cat - Patrick. He looked for a while like he might just lie down, but then suddenly, he had a rare moment of activity and quite clearly put his big fat tabby paw on the following folded piece of paper..... once we had wrestled it off  him, we were able to unfold it and announce that... the winner is:

Congratulatons Elisha - you have 100 Kindle books coming to you soon.

Let us know your email address please, and we'll sort everything out.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who got involved - we have another sexy little competition coming to you soon - and yes, it's sexy. The Fifty Shades Trilogy, plus assorted extras.

Ready yourselves, gentlemen.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A Zombie With More Brains Than He Can Eat...

This week we're just going bonkers for 'I've Been Deader' by Adam Sifre, a comedy zombie novel that was launched earlier this week by Taylor Street Publishing.

Not only is his book very funny, but we've discovered Adam is handsome AND a lawyer. We envisage a plethora of Zombielevers swooning outside bookshops near you somtime soon.

Lillian Kendrick, the lucky, lucky lady, got to interview him...

What made you start writing in the first place? I don’t even know what made me start eating raisin bread for breakfast. It’s just something I started doing. People liked what they read, my ego grew and demanded that more people like me, so I kept on writing. Then, just when I thought my ego could not possibly get any bigger, I wrote “I’ve Been Deader.”
Where and when do you usually write?
I usually write in the early morning and late evening. Sometimes I’ll write in the afternoons or early evenings; sometimes a little after dusk or if it’s raining. I write when I’m stressed and want to do something I’m good at.

Which writers have inspired you?
Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Adam Sifre (his early stuff).
How do you handle Writer’s Block?

I find that bitching about it for several days often helps. Then I sit down and write something that I think is terrible. Then I wait another few weeks and try again.

Are any of your characters based on real people?

Fred is loosely based on me. People think that zombies are fictional, but believe me, there are plenty of us shambling from place to place with vacant stares and not a functional thought in our heads. You can find us at shopping malls, the motor vehicle department, office parties, blind dates – we are legion.

There are a few gloriously ‘yucky’ scenes in “I’ve Been Deader” – where do you get your ideas from? (The drag queens, "Dead Divas", spring to mind!)
Usually when I’m driving. I’m always thinking about weird and funny situations. I do very little outlining before I write. I just wait for an interesting thought to make itself known, write it down, and start tweaking it. The idea for the “Dead Divas” for example, occurred to me when I passed some prostitutes outside the Lincoln tunnel in New York City. The thought of paying a stranger for sex terrified me. I mean, who knows what someone will do to you if they get close enough?
What has been the most encouraging comment you have received in the process of bringing “I’ve Been Deader” to the attention of horror and comedy fans around the world?
I know that I have a tendency to come off as a bit egotistical, but in all honesty, I’ve received comments from hundreds of readers telling me how much they loved the book (and not just from writers looking for return compliments – the jackals). My memory is worse than Charlie Sheen’s, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten many great ones. So I’ll just post one comment that I picked at random, sent to me last year from a reader on “I’m not a fan of the horror genre. You can watch your undead movie while I watch Angeline Jolie. But you’ve got something. Perhaps it’s the perfect comedy timing. Perhaps it’s because you somehow manage to make us identify with rotten old Fred.”

Comments like that make it all worthwhile. Well, impressive sales figures will really make it all worthwhile, but until that happens I’m stuck with comments and good wishes.

Well - you've got our backing, Adam. You can find I've Been Deader here and also on our fancy carrousel over to the right.

Win books and join the Zombie Apocalypse!

Our fabulous competition to win a whole library of books for your e-reader comes to a close at midnight tomorrow. Get those entries in here and be entered into the draw for this brilliant prize. 100 books! It's a reader's dream!

In more news, we'll be taking a look later today at a new Kindle book on the block, Adam Sifre's 'I've Been Deader' - a comedy zombie novel with a difference. Zombies have never been hotter (in a cold, dead way) and we're leaping on the bandwagon - arms outstretched and moaning 'braaaaains'.

Get those entries in, winner will be announced on Saturday. In the meantime, here's a little preview of our latest favourite read:

Being a zombie is no picnic and it's one hell of a handicap in the romance department when you fall in love with a 'breather':

Aleta is a breather with short blonde hair and brown eyes - two of them! - and the whitest smile Fred has ever seen. Every day at a certain time she sits at her window, and every day he stands in the rubble across the street among a crowd of zombies waiting to break through the fence and eat her.

'You are beautiful, like an angel', he thinks, but all he can moan is, “Braaaiiinss."

Still, as zombies go, Fred's quite a catch. Underneath all the gangrene and rot, Fred is different. This girl will probably turn out to be yet another dead end, an infatuation, someone whose image he cannot get out of his mind and whose taste he cannot get out of his mouth, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

For breathers, it is always only a matter of time, however beautiful they are and whatever the government is assuring people.

Which makes Fred sad because he has a beautiful 11 year old son called Timmy, and Timmy may still be alive.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Party with us! Follow Party, Friday 22nd June 6pm

We're having a party!

True to form we'll be having a right royal shindig on Friday 22nd June at 6pm.... the only catch, is that it's online.

Do you have a blog? Would you like more followers?

The number of followers you have on your blog can be a visible indication to potential readers, PR professionals and marketers that your blog is worthy of their interest.

Join us next Friday for our very first Follow Party. To join, simply visit this facebook page:

Leave us a link to your blog and we'll add you to the Guest List!

Come back to the Facebook page next Friday. An hour before the party starts, the full list of attendees will be posted up on the event page. Each guest then visits and follows every blog on the list - which should only take around half an hour, dependent on the length of the guest list, and should result in a substantial increase in your own followers.

This is not a private event - feel free to invite any bloggers that you know. Remember, the more guests we have, the better for your followship numbers.

Oh, one last thing... bring a bottle!

See you there,


PS: Please note that we will be holding a similar event for those in parts of the world for whom this time is inconvenient. It would be helpful to know what the demand for a second event would be, so if you like the sound of this, but don't want to get up at 3am, let us know below.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Fifty Shades of.... pink?!

With the Shades of Grey trilogy dominating the book charts at the moment, we sent our Fifty Shades Virgin (as in, she hasn’t read the books) on a quest to find out why these saucy books are just so sellable. Charlotte Castle reports.

I have a friend who is an Ann Summers Rep.  She makes a bit of pocket money and has a monthly giggle selling crotch-less knickers and Rampant Rabbits to tipsy women at hen parties. Recently though, she’s noticed a new trend. “No sooner than I’ve got my first edible bra out of my product bag and they’re all asking me about Shades of Grey – and enquiring whether I stock feathers and whips.”

It’s what the sex industry is calling ‘The Grey Effect’ and its sweeping through society from an unusual starting point – the 30 – 40 year old female reader.

The first book, Fifty Shades of Grey, follows Ana, a virginal literature student and her growing relationship with the handsome but troubled Billionaire, Christian Grey, who educates her in the ways of love and passion in his Red Room of Pain – a bondage dungeon in his apartment.

But come on. Surely this is just porn? The written version of 1970’s porn films - which also boasted a flimsy plot (“Oh! Derek! I didn’t realise you were cleaning the windows. Oh! And look! My sister has just arrived! Well since you’re all here….”) surely any pretence at literature is a farce?

“It’s a love story” says Christina Glynn, a 30 year old Health Care Assistant from London, with the passionately defensive tones I’ve come to expect from fans of the series. “I suppose on the surface the sexual content, could be used for a cheap thrill, if that was the case then the reader isn't really following the story. The sex scenes are about trust - both characters breaking down their own barriers and discovering love for the first time. The story deals with the characters battling with their own emotions and feelings, and discovering firsts together - albeit on different levels. It is by the far the most graphic and passionate book I have encountered, but truthfully that’s just at surface level.”

Yet just as Christina was beginning to sell it for me, the best-selling author Matt Shaw added his views. “Filthy, yes. Dull, absolutely.  The author needs to learn new adjectives to describe feelings. There are only so many times a person can look at someone through their lashes and blush."


Antonia Hopkins, 31 of Windsor added, “The filth side gets a bit boring in all honesty, I found myself skipping through the parts where they have sex after the first few times! I did feel compelled to finish them all though [the books] as I had to find out what happened.”


It seems that the Shades of Grey series, just like sex and love, have an intensely personal and individual effect on each person. I think the only thing I can do is download it and read it. You never know - my next purchase just might be a riding crop.

Fifty Shades of Grey is available to download for e-readers from Amazon, here.