Phil Rowlands's Blog, page 3

July 11, 2013

Bitten by the 'Sound Bite'.

“In the context of journalism, a sound bite is characterized by a short phrase or sentence that captures the essence of what the speaker was trying to say, and is used to summarize information and entice the reader or viewer. . .
Due to its brevity, the sound bite often overshadows the broader context in which it was spoken, and can be misleading or inaccurate. The insertion of sound bites into news broadcasts or documentaries is open to manipulation, leading to conflict over journalistic ethics.”  Wikpedia.

Though not strictly about writing I am sharing this with you to demonstrate the power of the sound-bite to influence the way we think so that the real issues are overshadowed and overlooked.
For those of us involved in the fight to save Pentre Primary School from closure Wikpedia’s definition of ‘sound bite’ has a haunting resonance.
From the outset we wanted our campaign to focus on the fact that should the proposals be ratified our children would inevitably be placed at risk given the distance they would have to travel to their new school along a heavily congested route. The imminent development of a Tesco store and filling station adjacent to the route further heightened our concerns.
Another concern was that in times of economic hardship many parents from within one of the most deprived communities in Waleswould be faced with an additional financial burden many simply cannot afford. Child poverty is something RCT have pledged to address through the Children and Young People’s Plan 2011 – 14. How could a Labour led council possibly endorse a proposal that would exacerbate the problem in one of their most needy communities?
Rhondda AM, Leighton Andrews, shared our concerns but it became immediately apparent that his political opponents were more intent on shifting the focus and hence the term ‘surplus places’ was repeated loudly and often at every given opportunity. ‘Surplus Places’ became the perceived rallying cry, a trigger phrase that could induce paroxysms of frenzy among political opponents and those who oppose the ‘Surplus Places Policy’. Battle lines were drawn and our school became part of the collateral damage that ensued.
 School closures are inevitably emotive and sensitive issues no matter what the reason or prevailing policy. It was not surprising that many people were angered by what they saw as Mr Andrews trying to have his cake and eat it. However if his support for our campaign contravened ministerial guidelines it is a matter of grave concern for us all. In his capacity as AM he listened to our concerns but his subsequent actions were undertaken to ensure the LEAwas following the procedure laid down in The School Organisation Proposals 2009 – the Surplus Places policy. In effect he was ensuring his own policy guidelines were given due and proper regard. There was no conflict of interest apparent or otherwise.
That did not stop the hue and cry of ‘surplus places’ as politicians and the media smelt blood and set off in pursuit of Mr Andrews. Misinformation regarding the school was broadcast nationally in an effort to embarrass the Minister for Education regardless of the damage inflicted on the community of Pentre. In his article, ‘Did Leanne Spook Leighton?”(, John Osmond is at a loss to understand how “a trivial issue” was sufficient “to occasion the first such resignation in the history of Welsh democratic devolution.”
Since when has the safety and welfare of children been “a trivial issue?”Parents the length and breadth of the country will be outraged by a comment that sadly appears to reflect the opinion of the majority of political commentators in Wales. Does the National assembly exist to represent and promote the welfare of the people of Wales or has it become some kind of Mount Olympus where the elected ‘gods’ of the Senedd conduct their Machiavellian business aloof from the day to day concerns of ordinary citizens and voters?
At least the AM and MP for Rhonddahad the courage to show they shared the concerns of their constituents. Apparently the parents and supporters of Gaer schools in Newportwere far less successful when they sought the support of their elected representatives.
“Rosemary Butler and Paul Flynn both declined to even look at – let alone scrutinise – this proposal.  It is not in the best interests of the community and makes little educational sense. Yet neither of our senior elected representatives know this as they preferred not to hear about the proposal.” (
Unbelievable! Who are these people elected to represent? I understand that in some cases school closure is in the best interests of children but each case should be judged on its own merit in accordance with ministerial guidelines. The minimum we should expect is to be heard.
“.. . my personal view is that Councils in some cases have used the vague cover of “surplus” as a kind of “catch-all”, “get-out-of-jail-free” card to push through other proposals they want to see happen, especially when they do not have the money to accomplish them in other ways.” (
This week the Rhondda Leader featured a letter from a Mr Andrew Nutt who obviously felt qualified to offer his considered opinion despite the fact he resides in Bargoed and has no knowledge of the local issues surrounding the proposed closure. The sound bite has obviously worked its magic in his case.
The BBC took a similar tack when they misreported the numbers on roll in our school to the nation, seriously compromising our campaign in the process. Why let accurate reporting stand in the way of a good sound bite?
Here are some alternative sound bites the Pentre Action Group would like the Senedd and our local cabinet to consider. How about,CHILD SAFETY,CHILD POVERTY,FINANCIAL HARDSHIP,COMMUNITY REGENERATION,for starters?
We can only hope that our locally elected representatives are strong enough to ignore the ‘surplus places’ sound bite and focus on the real issues confronting Pentre school and the wider community. When the cabinet meet to make a final decision on the future of the school later this month they will have had time to reflect on the objections raised by the community.
Parents deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of their children. Parents worried sick that they will not be able to afford the bus fare required to transport their children to school. Families facing increased financial pressure and over reliance on elderly relatives if they are to hold down their jobs and ensure children get to school safely.
The Director of Education for Rhondda Cynon Taff stated in his response to concerns raised by parents that children would miss out on the free breakfasts available at Pentre school by stating: “Treorchy Primary School has a well attended breakfast club, which will continue for the benefit of all pupils who may attend that school”. The Director obviously does not inhabit the same world. Does he not realise children living in Pentre will have to get up very early to be able to access it and either walk or catch a bus in the dark during the winter months when arguably this provision is of maximum benefit. Is this acceptable?
These are the issues that are struggling to be heard above the sound bite ‘surplus places’. Wikpedia’s definition that, “Due to its brevity, the sound bite often overshadows the broader context in which it was spoken, and can be misleading or inaccurate.” is certainly true in the case of Pentre Primary School.
The question is, will our ‘trvial’ issues be heard above the ubiquitous SURPLUS PLACES sound bite?

Is it a case of, “If you tolerate this then your children could be next?”
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on July 11, 2013 03:52

June 7, 2013

When Life Overtakes Art

Apologies for not having posted for the past few weeks but life events have a habit of interrupting the best laid of plans. Mine were certainly knocked sideways with the news our Local Education Authority were submitting a proposal to close my old school and ship pupils a mile further up the valley. Before I knew it I was standing in the massed ranks of protesting parents plotting a counter offensive. 

Instead of writing another chapter of my book I found myself writing protest letters to local politicians and Directors of Education. The sound of ranks closing and people easing their backsides onto fences echoed around the valley. One local politician surpassed himself by posing in front of a derelict building on his party's newsletter that trumpeted the need for investment and regeneration in Pentre. Later that same day in a council meeting he seconded a proposal to close the school. So much for investment and regeneration. Honestly, you couldn't make it up!

The school in question is in the forefront of the picture. While it still retains its Victorian facade the interior is equipped to meet the needs of 21st Century students. This photo was taken when Pentre was in its prime and the civic centre of the Rhondda Valleys. The Rhondda itself is situated in South Wales and is probably the most famous of all those mining communities that fuelled the industrial revolution and helped forge an Empire. Like mining communities around the world its history often makes grim reading. Hardship and poverty were familiar companions and people learnt to embrace a black sardonic humour that reflected their daily flirtation with the Angel of  Death. The name Senghenydd is synonymous with the risk miners took every day as a matter of course. In that little pit village on October 14th, one hundred years ago, 439 men lost their lives in an explosion. Nearly every family in the village was touched by the tragedy.

Now there are no mines left in the valleys but communities are still close-knit and resilient in the face of economic decline and hardship. Pentre has been particularly hard hit over the years and  the loss of the school would inflict irreparable damage upon the village. There is a deep sense of betrayal within the community and this has been given expression through protest marches and public meetings. In the picture the school just in shot in the top right corner has been abandoned and demolished. The site is now overgrown wasteland. We are determined not to allow this to happen to Pentre Primary.

It has been a privilege to be involved with such a passionate and dynamic group of people who reminded me of something very important. As writers we should stay close to our roots. They are what make us not just different but unique. In the children's novel I am currently writing Billy, who lives in a deprived community like Pentre, is handed the family album and for the first time reaches out to his past:

“Look,” she said, pointing to a faded sepia photograph on the first page. “I bet you can't guess who that is?”A stern gaunt individual stared at Billy from a frozen distance in time. He wore a flat cap and crumpled baggy trousers. A long jacket covered what appeared to be some kind of vest. His dark eyes and hooked nose reminded Billy of  a hungry watchful sparrow-hawk. A long drooping moustache made him look miserable, as if he had just missed a kill. He could certainly do with a good feed. Billy couldn't imagine anybody messing around if he was headmaster. But what impressed Billy most was the fact he was covered from head to toe in what appeared to be black dust.“I expect he's just had a row for getting dirty,” observed Billy knowingly, “and that's why he looks so sad.”“He's a miner,” laughed Mum, “they used to work underground digging for coal.” Billy thought that was something he might like to do. He couldn't believe you could actually get paid for getting dirty. “There used to be lots of coal mines but that was a long time ago.” Billy's dream of becoming a miner died almost before it had chance to take breath. “They say the  valley is riddled with abandoned tunnels deep underground.” Billy was alarmed. Supposing some of the tunnels collapsed under the weight of the buildings on top of them. Suddenly the world did not feel such a safe place.“But you still haven't said who you think is in the photo.” Mum pressed.“It's not Nan's twin sister any way.” replied Billy confidently. Mum smiled. “No its  Nan's father, your great-grandfather.”Billy stared at the photograph and the piercing dark eyes stared straight back at him. It didn't look like his great grandfather shared Nan's sense of humour.“What was his name?” asked Billy.“Glyn. That was the last photo he ever had taken.” Mum added mysteriously.“Why? Couldn't he afford to pay?” Billy hated the days when the school photographer visited. He always took a note asking to be excused and watched while classmates in their best clothes were called out one by one while Billy sat at his desk and pretended he didn't care. Mum placed an arm around his shoulders and when she spoke her voice was deep and husky.
“He went to work that afternoon and never came back. Just disappeared. There was no explosion or roof fall. His work mates say he just turned a corner and vanished. He became a bit of a legend. He had already survived an explosion that killed four others just after they were first married.”
I imagine that no matter what we write we cannot escape from what we are and the influences that made us that way. My advice would be, embrace them.

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on June 07, 2013 06:38

May 9, 2013

How To Attract Readers - Expert Advice From Jonathan Gunson.

Some time back I invested just over $30 in Jonathan Gunsons' 'BestSellerLabs'. It proved a sound investment. 

Here for once was a practical approach for authors that did not involve hours of watching videos or drowning in social networks. It inspired me to:

1. Remember writing was my main focus.
2. Do a little focused marketing and promoting every day.
3. Try my and evolve my own strategies.

Jonathan also sends regular posts to my inbox. I have enjoyed every one and always found something helpful, encouraging or downright inspirational. I asked if I could reproduce one of his blog posts and he kindly gave me permission to post the first third. You will have to go to his blog to read the rest! Here it is:

How To Attract Readers By Creating A ‘Lighthouse’ Author BrandBy Jonathan GunsonMay 8th 2013

Recently I’ve been watching with increasing dismay as one of my author friends rushes around, relentlessly trying to push her books in every single social media channel on earth, while hassling book bloggers, reviewers and online media to the point of exhaustion.

As well as turning herself into a social media train wreck, she also continues to ignore the most powerful selling force that’s staring her in the face.reader3You see, hidden behind the covers of your books are features unique to you that can create a memorable  Lighthouse Author Brand , making yours the first books that come to mind when readers decide to look for something to read.The fact is, an author brand is built by readers, not by you.  You cannot push it.Instead, your brand is built by readers discovering your author identity while reading.  If your books have appeal, they’ll remember you forever, tell all their friends, and increasingly want more of you.So I’m going to highlight seven tactics based on your writing to help establish a Lighthouse Brand in readers’ minds and grow your long-term readership.7 Winning Ways To Spotlight Your Author Brand And Grow Readership:1.  Create an overarching theme-tagline to wrap around your booksIf you write individual one-off novels, you’ll have discovered a downside.  Without the addictive power of a series, it can be prove difficult in the early stages of your career to persuade readers to buy another of your books – even though your author name may be prominently displayed.What to do?A simple way to keep your novels top of mind is to create a distinctive theme-tagline that draws your books together under a single overarching identity, giving them a memorable point of difference that enhances your Author Brand.Racy blockbuster author Jackie Collins, for example, has a tagline that I feel is a work of pure genius because of its tongue in cheek simplicity:Jackie CollinsJackie Collins’ winning tagline:  “She’ll keep you up all night”… If your tagline is memorable enough, it will capture a reader’s imagination and be quoted by them, adding fuel to the ‘word-of-mouth recommendation’ wildfire.  But it does need to be remarkable, meaning it has to be different, noticeable, and causes people to remark on it.Examples of places where your tagline and graphic can be featured:Emblazoned on your book coversOn the title page of your booksIn the blurbs about your other books at the end of each bookIn your Amazon descriptionsAs part of your Amazon author profileIn your blog headerIn your Twitter backgroundIn your Facebook author page headerAs your email signatureOn paper book-marks that you give awayIt can even be used to introduce your books when you speak – as a giant ‘slide image’ projected behind you, along with your latest book cover.Eventually your author name itself will acquire the same meaning as the ‘tagline’. It’s all part of growing your Lighthouse Author Brand.You can read the rest of the post here: I am not on any kind of commission for recommending Jonathan. He is someone well worth listening to if you want start taking responsibility for promoting your book effectively.ETO Is Now Available In Hard Copy eto is a collaborative publication by Welsh author Phillip Stephen Rowlands and Ceri Shaw and Gaabriel Becket, the founders of the AmeriCymru Welsh-American social network and the West Coast Eisteddfod Welsh-American performing arts festival. 

Volume 1 includes work by Welsh poets Mike Jenkins, Paul Steffan Jones and Saul Hughes and Welsh and Welsh-American authors Lloyd Jones, Chris Keil, Phil Rowlands, Jude Johnson, Jean Mead, Glyn Scott, Thomas Morris, Gaynor Madoc Leonard, John Good and Gaabriel Becket

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on May 09, 2013 16:41

April 18, 2013

Ooops! Billy's Been A Naughty Boy

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you will know that I am a writer who:
Does his best to help and support other authors.  Explores ways of promoting his own books and passes that information on to fellow writers.Just recently I gave away free copies of my report The Mavis Trott Twitter Campaign otherwise referred to as the Twitter Download Wave. It’s a strategy I find hugely effective in getting extracts of my books into the hands of potential readers/purchasers. If we are honest that’s the most important goal for any writer. Stuff posterity let’s get the bread on the table!

(Anyone interested in obtaining a copy can find out how by reading my last two blogs).
I’m currently trialling a promotional method that has got off to a less than auspicious start. It’s not a new approach but one I hadn’t tried personally until now. I have to say though I loved the concept so much I decided to give it a go. The idea is to set up a fictional account for your character on Twitter or Facebook. In my case for Billy Jenkins the focal character of my work in progress Billy and the Pit of Shadows. My initial mistake was not letting people know up front that Billy was not a real person although as most of you probably know already the characters you create become very real indeed.
Apparently a few people reported me as a spammer and my account was suspended. It proved only temporary as Twitter realised I was not aggressively following other users and reinstated my account in a matter of hours. So the first thing I learnt using this approach is to ensure other Twitter users know you are a fictional character before you start following them   What would be a great help at this stage is for everyone reading this blog with a Twitter account to follow Billy at @billyangelis.

Follow @BillyAngelis

This is another way we could help with each others promotions. Anyone wishing to try this for themselves simply let me know and I will post it on this blog so we can show our support by following you. This would give us a lot more latitude with Twitter if the number of Followers exceeded the number of Twitter users we are following from the outset.
 From a purely writing perspective creating a social media account for your characters is also a great way of developing a deeper knowledge and understanding of them. The more real your characters become the more persuasive and believable your writing will be. The easier it becomes for the reader to relate to them and to be drawn into your world.  Engagement is key.
 I will keep you posted as to how effective this campaign is but the best way to monitor my progress is to Follow at @billyangelis. Just don’t laugh if I get sent to the Twitter naughty corner again!

Thanks in anticipation to everyone who rallies to the call and follows Billy.

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on April 18, 2013 15:45

April 12, 2013

Google+ Events - How They Can Help Authors

 Most authors are familiar with Goodreads. One of Goodreads most overused facilities is the Events feature. Once you accumulate a list of Friends you can post them notice of a coming event and request a response. Lots of these events tend to feature free giveaways of books. In fact so many books are given away using this feature that you could well overload your Kindle!
The problem with Goodreads is that most of your friends are also likely to be authors or readers saturated with offers of free books. Google+ can actually support your Goodreads Event by reaching a wider audience with its own Events feature.
Obviously to use this feature you are going to need a Google+ account. If you haven’t already got one I’m giving away a copy of Google+ eXplosion which explains exactly how to open an account plus much more. One of the biggest benefits of Google+ Events is the fact that anyone using Gmail or Google Calendar will easily be able to add the event right onto their calendars. With just the click of a button, all the information and details about that event will populate in their calendars. What a time saver! Furthermore, the event will automatically be added to the Google Calendars of anyone who is already in the Circles you invite

Step 1: Click on the 'Events' Tab
No matter which section of Google+ you're looking at, if you're logged in to your account, you will see a sidebar on the left-hand side of the page. This sidebar includes options to select HomeProfilePagesHangoutsCommunitiesEventsPhotos, and More. In this scenario, you'll want to click on the 'Events' tab, which is listed as the sixth icon from the top.

Once you've clicked on the 'Events' tab, you'll be directed to a page that will guide you through creating your event. The images you see are various options for event cover images, and above these you'll see a bold, red button that says 'Create Event.' 
Step 2: Click 'Create Event'
Once you've clicked on the 'Events' tab, you'll be directed to a page that will guide you through creating your event. The images you see are various options for event cover images, and above these you'll see a bold, red button that says 'Create Event.'

   Step 3: Fill in Your Event Information
Once you've clicked on the red, 'Create Event' button, an event template will pop up where you can add your event information. Is this event a Google+ Hangout? Is it a webinar? Be as specific and explicit as possible, and make sure you fill out every form as best you can. 
Tip: It's best to include both a start and end time for your event so people using Google Calendar can add the event to their calendar without any question about the event's end date.
  In this instance I am giving away a copy of my report ‘How To Create A Twitter Download Wave For Your Book’ which explains how I create Twitter promotions with a small account that consistently persuaded an average of 200+ Followers to download extracts from my book or visits to my website each campaign, a total of 1,221 over several weeks.
This particular event will run from Saturday 13thApril until Friday 19th April.
If you would like a copy of the 11 page report entitled ‘AUTHORS: how To Create Your Own Twitter Download Wave’ please visit:   

Step 4: Customize Your Event's Cover Photo
To customize your event, click the transparent grey, 'Change Theme' button in the bottom left corner of the current cover image you see (see image above). Once you've clicked this button, you'll be brought to a page that shows you a variety of options for your Google+ Event's cover photo -- all provided by Google.
 Of course, if you're a DIY design whiz, you'll probably want to upload your own cover photo. Creating a cover image that's unique to you and your specific event or book is a great way to differentiate it from any other created by the people you're following. To upload your own cover photo, choose 'Upload' from the list of theme options:
 Some social networks will allow you to choose a photo of any size, and will resize it to fit the dimensions of the cover photo. But because the cover photo for Google+ is so long and narrow, you're going to have a hard time using a pre-existing image without resizing it. Your best bet is to create a custom image that's exactly 940 pixels wide by 280 pixels tall
Once you have sizing down pat, upload your image, and test it out. Keep in mind that you should leave some white space open in the bottom left corner, because on the final event page, this space will be taken up by your event's title.
If techie stuff is not your thing use Google’s templates but just think how much better it would be if you could get an image of your book up there.
Here's how you event might look in edit mode up until this point:

Step 5: Add More Details Via the 'Advanced' Tab
But wait ... there's more! To add even more information to your event, under 'Event Options,' click 'Advanced.'


By clicking 'Advanced,' you'll be able to notify people that this is a Google Hangout, an on-air event, or provide a URL where people can learn more about the event. This is particularly important if you want people to register elsewhere or take a specific action. In the case of my event, to join a specific community in order to get access to the information.

To add a URL, click 'Show Additional Fields.'
Here, you can add a URL and other details for your event:

Step 6: Invite Guests
Once you're satisfied with your event, you can start inviting guests. Depending on who the target audience for your event is, you can add specific Circles, Communities, email addresses, or simply make the event public on your website or blog. Once you've added the names of the people you think would be most appropriate for this event, click the green 'Invite' button. Remember, the beauty of Google+ Events are that they automatically get added to the Google Calendars of the people in the Circles you invite.

Once you've published your event it will look something like this:
  That’s it! You've successfully created an event for your book on Google+. Once the event is over, you still have the option to communicate with folks who attended through the Event page. This is a great place to upload photos of the event, give any updates about next year's event, etc.

Copies of Google+ eXplosion will be made available on this blog next week. See you then!

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on April 12, 2013 06:19

March 22, 2013

Effective Promotion For Aspiring Authors.

 Question: When do you start marketing and promoting your book? Answer: As soon as you start writing it.
Building a potential readership will also add momentum to your efforts especially on those days when the blank sheet of paper or computer screen just stares defiantly back at you.
Question: How do I start building a potential readership?Answer: Social media.

Don’t make the big mistake of trying to engage with every social media channel out there. Take one at a time. Always remember your first priority is to get your book written.
Question: Which should I choose?Answer: My first choice would be Twitter.

I know I wrote an ebook on why and how authors should engage with Google+ but Twitter is the easiest place to find and build a following who may well be interested in reading your book. Google+ is a great place for communicating with your established followers but your first priority in terms of promotion is to locate that potential fan base.
Question: Why Twitter?Answer: Because the least amount of effort will produce the greatest results.

Finding followers on Twitter is relatively simple. When you follow people, usually around 30-50% will follow back.
Question: Who should I follow?Answer: People who might be interested in reading your book.

The more focused you are the more effective your results will be. Don’t take the shotgun approach and follow anyone. Your time spent on social media networks should be limited so make the best use of it. Allocate 30 minutes a day to build your follower base. If you are a writer of Science Fiction type in the names of your favourite authors. Many are sure to have a Twitter account. Once you find one click on their list of Followers and follow them yourself. Obviously don’t follow those who are selling totally unrelated products or offering services of some kind. Don’t ignore other authors though, especially aspiring writers who are always anxious to read and compare the ‘competition’s’ work.
Question: Are there any do’s and don’ts I should know about?Answer: Most definitely.

Restrict your following to a maximum 50 a day. After a fortnight you may have around 200 followers. You will be following 700. Occasionally you may want to prune back the number you are following but who are not following you back. Tweepi is a free service that allows you to flush those people who have not reciprocated. It is a very useful tool as it indicates just how many tweets they send and how often. For example I tend to ‘flush’ those unfollowers who have not tweeted for a month or over as it suggests they are not very active.
Be warned Twitter takes a dim view of people who ‘aggressively’ follow and unfollow large numbers of people and may well suspend your account. Keep within my guidelines and you should be fine. 
The biggest DON’T of all is one I commonly see made on Twitter. Please don’t try and sell your book directly from your Twitter account. There is no bigger turn off. 

Question: Once I have built a list of Twitter followers what should I do with them?
Answer: Engage with them.

People join social network sites primarily to interact with others. They like receiving useful information, having comments made on their tweets, being retweeted and being entertained by amusing or thoughtful Tweets.

“But isn’t the whole reason I built a following in the first place to promote my books.?”

Absolutely, but there is a right way and a wrong way of doing it. I recently ran a campaign that took me about twenty minutes to set up. Within a couple of hours over 200 people had downloaded a sample pdf of an extract from my book. The sample included a link to my Google+ Community entitled ‘Billy and The Pit of Shadows. You’ve guessed it! The community is built around the book I am currently writing.

Just think, in a matter of hours my work was being read by a large number of people and this from a relatively new Twitter account with less than 400 Followers! I replicated the campaign with exactly the same results and this was not an account specifically dedicated to my book’s genre. It worked!

“OK so what is this campaign?”

If you want to know the details you have to join my community on Google+. I will be sharing it freely with my members along with any other ideas I discover that work. 

“What’s the catch?

No catch. I believe in being upfront and honest. To me one of the negative aspects of Kindle publishing is that writers are so desperate to get their books into other peoples hands, or Kindle’s, that they give them away for free. Free implies little or no value. Listen people, ‘the workman is worthy of his hire’. Don’t devalue your work. I will never give any of my books away for free. 

“But you just said. . . "

Let me qualify. I will give information away for free but not my novels. Hopefully when I provide information that is genuinely helpful I create a degree of trust with my followers and members. When my book is completed I hope they will have received so much of value from me freely that they will be prepared to invest a little something in return by purchasing my book. Of course I would much prefer that they bought my book because of the buzz I have created via campaigns like the one I am about to share with them.

To join Billy and The Pit of Shadows Community CLICK HERE

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on March 22, 2013 01:09

March 13, 2013

ETO: Birth Of A Magazine

No title For writers a new magazine dedicated to fiction is always an exciting event. At the very least it provides another avenue to explore, another possible showcase for our talents. Often however, as with the ETO, the opportunities fall within a specific niche or genre. ETO is primarily Ceri Shaw’s and Gaabriel Becket’s baby. It is the realisation of a long cherished dream of providing a platform for established and emerging Welsh writers the world over. When Ceri moved from Cardiffto Portland, Oregon, he was dismayed to discover how little Americans actually knew about Wales. To help rectify the situation Ceri and Gaabi created, a global social site for Welsh people. It has been a huge success. We hope Eto proves equally successful.I was delighted when Ceri offered me the opportunity to become their partner in Wales. My blog has always been designed at supporting and encouraging aspiring writers the world over. Any opportunity to help further that objective was seized upon eagerly. “Great, but what’s in it for me?” I hear most of you say. “We’re not Welsh!” No, but my ongoing experience gained with Eto will help me advise others how to set up and launch their own magazines. For example among my 4,000+ Twitter followers there are a very large number whose genre is Science Fiction. It is now possible for individuals to set up a magazine and make it available in digital and hard copy thanks to Amazon and Amazon’s publishing arm Create Space. Other options like Smashwords and Lightning Source are also available. Why not a new Sci Fi and Fantasy magazine? In future posts I will be showing you how it can be done. For now I would ask as many as you as can to support our new baby and help it grow. So, what can you expect to find in the first edition of Eto?   When The Yoghurts Run Dry
by Phil Rowlands
Passion, cannibalism, zombies, jealousy and heroism all within the confines of a malfunctioning lift!   Elgin Evans and The Summer of Love
by Lloyd Jones
Lauded by critics but not yet receiving the universal acclaim his writing merits. Elgin Evans will undoubtedly win him more fans and acclaim.   Number Forty
by Jude Johnson
A smooth and stylish blend of crime and love. After Damnation We Continue To Dream, Briar Times, Guerilla
by Paul Steffan Jones
It is no exaggeration that Paul Steffan Jones appears destined to inherit the mantle as one of Wales' truly outstanding poets.   Wedded Bliss
by Jean Mead
If you like your stories with a wicked twist in the tail then Jean has served up the perfect cocktail. Miner's Fortnight
by Glyn Scott
An evokative, humourus and poignant reminder of bygone days. I loved it! An unmissable read for those of my generation. Bus-Station Clinic
by Mike Jenkins
A contemporary tale woven with pathos and humour. Mike holds up a mirror to our times. Quite brilliant! [image error] The Diplomats of Refusal
by Saul Hughes
A cautionary and timely story that confronts one of the most emotive issues of our day.Fox Thoughts, And People Make Love in Nantyglo, Chip Shop, Ebbw Vale
poems by Saul Hughes
More examples of Saul's versatility and undoubted talent. Aston Villa Baby and Terramundi
by Thomas Morris
Thomas is definitely a rising talent. Quirky humour, sharp dialogue and a risque storyline prove a compulsive mix. All For The Best
by Gaynor Madoc Leonard
Only you can decide whether the events surrounding Edgar are indeed, all for the best! Pests
by Gaabriel Becket
Echoes of The Birds in this vision, or should I say nightmare, of an agricultural future fraught with peril.   Take Any Shape But That by Chris Keil
A dark tale from the acclaimed author of Flirting At The Funeral. My Fellow Americymros
by John Good
John Good provides a masterly, informative and highly engaging account of the deep roots that exist between America and Wales. Thoroughly educational, thoroughly entertaining.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on March 13, 2013 06:34

February 28, 2013


Perhaps I’d better explain before any SWAT teams or FBI agents break down my door. This is not an incitement to violence of any kind. No, I’ve not been watching too many gory horror movies but if you are a struggling writer who wants to become successful there is one thing you should very seriously consider doing. Create your own series of books.

Let’s be honest writers write because they love writing but that’s not the sole motivation for everyone. Shakespeare and Dickens wrote to make a living and did it very successfully! The majority of us dream of being as successful as J.K.Rowling or Amanda Hocking whatever we might say to the contrary. One thing these writers had in common was they were all pretty good at story telling and they weren’t bad wordsmiths either! I don’t know how you compare but I do know that creating a series and building a brand is almost essential for ongoing success.
When I was a boy the Just William books by Richmal Crompton were my favourites. On every cover there was a picture of a scruffy boy with a striped hat. He was instantly recognisable. Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series were hugely successful. They were constructed around:
Distinctive and engaging characters who appeared in each book.Story lines within the same genre.Story lines that were often progressive or developed a recurring  theme.Easily identifiable cover images.Fast forward and we see these same elements within series like Harry Potter and Lemony Snickett. In both cases the authors have built an easily recognisable and memorable brand. Readers who enjoyed these books would immediately want to read more and this affords authors another opportunity. It is now possible to create links within your eBooks directly back to your authors website where you can create an interest in the next book or refer readers to the complete series. Alternatively why not include a chapter from your next book at the end.

“Hold on!” you cry, “I haven’t finished my first book yet!”
Not a problem. Having decided to embark upon writing a series of books your brain will subconsciously begin to identify: ·        Possible future story lines.

·        Characters and their potential for development.
Rather than a hindrance the decision to write a series can provide creative motivation.I have to mention the possible downside of course.

The authors already referred to happen to be very good authors. The danger is if your first book sucks then the concept of a series becomes counter productive. But isn’t that the risk we all take when we put our work out there? I don’t know if anyone will consider ‘Billy and The Pit ofShadows’ worth reading but it won’t stop me writing it. Even if it doesn’t sell one copy I will have enjoyed the experience tremendously and feel a great sense of satisfaction at having completed it.
The other thing that might be considered a downside is the cost of creating a cover for your book. It is absolutely vital you have a compelling and striking cover. Many people purchase a book because they are attracted by the cover alone. It is also important you find someone right for your book. This is a process I am currently engaged in. Elance provides a list of artists and graphic designers who display a showcase of their work. It is worth taking a good look until you find someone you feel can create the image that reflects your work. A Google search will also throw up a list of graphic designers and artists.
I hope I have encouraged you to get cracking on your killer series. * * *   ST DAVID’S DAY APOLOGIES  We were hoping to launch ETO our new fiction anthology for Welsh writers today on St David’s Day, March 1st. Unfortunately we underestimated the amount of work involved and will now launch in mid March. The good news is it should be well worth waiting for.
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on February 28, 2013 17:51

February 22, 2013

Pond Life or Writers Groups?

I must admit the idea of joining a writers group or circle had never really appealed to me. My most recent experience of a writers group on Facebook served only to reinforce my negative attitude. The title of the group was what attracted me as it purported to be authors helping out other authors. It proved a misleading title.
Some, and I hasten to add not all, groups and forums bear a striking resemblance to life in a pond. Every inhabitant has its own place in the social hierarchy and protects their social status jealously. I must have really muddied the waters when I jumped in to this particular pond with both feet blazing. I had the temerity to place a link to a promotional video I had created for Google+ eXplosion a book I had written to help other authors get to grips with Google+. Incidentally it was not long before I was giving it away for free on my blog.
Apparently I had committed a social faux pas akin to breaking wind during the exchange of vows at somebody’s wedding. “Self promotion!” You could hear the communal gasps as the ripples of outrage spread across the communal waters. One author asked what the heck else I had written anyway.  Soon other members of the group entered the fray. My motives for joining were thrown into question and my humorous attempt to defuse the situation only seemed to make matters worse.

XXX, Thanks for the welcome. I feel like a kid who just started a new school. Just hope you are not one of the milk monitors. Hmm. I have participated in this group prior to uploading the infomercial. Posts mainly from my blog.

It didn’t help!
Another member accused me of having a ‘snit fit’. I’m still not sure what that is.
However a certain lady Patricia Reed did rush to my defence and appeared to be as confused as me regarding the groups remit.

I was under the impression that this group was for "authors helping authors". . .

The reason I felt compelled to share this experience is that another writer suffered the same fate at the hands of the same group only this week. (You can visit her blog here.) I was able to reassure her that she was not alone. The groups' response was predictable and at one point I was accused of ‘flouncing’. Anyone who knows me personally knows I do not flounce, have snit fits, or take kindly to bullies of the physical or literary variety.
The point is it can be a demoralising experience to encounter criticism of a personal nature where you expected to find help and support.
It was with certain misgivings therefore that I attended the writers group in my local library this week. My reservation proved groundless.  I spent two hours in the company of some of the most supportive and inspirational people I have met for a long time. The range and quality of their writing left me feeling humbled.
The group is run by Lesley Berry the daughter of that great Welsh author Ron Berry. It is literally two hundred yards from my home. I would never have stumbled upon it if I hadn’t been actively looking for groups so that I could tell them about Eto.
As much as I love the internet for the way it has opened up the world to me and allowed me to make many new friends and acquaintancest there is nothing quite like personal interaction with real people. So my advice would be, if there is a writers group near you, join it!
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on February 22, 2013 05:12

February 15, 2013

Commit To Your Community

“This is a blog for Indie writers everywhere, right?” you ask.
“Absolutely!” I reply looking sincere.
“So why is this Eto magazine you seem to be spending so much time on exclusively for Welsh writers and not everyone then?” a hint of accusation in your voice.
“I can best answer that by telling you a true story.” I reply.
So here it is
The story takes place back in the dim distant past when I still had black hair and computers hadn’t begun to roam the earth. I was head teacher of a small village school at the top end of the Rhondda Valley called Blaencwm. Blaencwm nestled snugly among the mountains and if it snowed there was no way in or out. It truly was a very close knit community.
At one time a tunnel had been driven through the mountain at the top end of the village to provide easy access to places like Aberavon, a staggering feat of engineering. When the government instigated cuts to the railway network in the 60’s Blaencwm was left stranded on the economic beach with no hope of the tide ever turning. My years spent in this vibrant community were among the happiest of my life.
“All very nice.” I hear you say. “But what’s the point?”
One day during a drama lesson a little girl said to me. “My Uncle’s a writer.” My response was something condescending like, “That’s nice.” While secretly hoping it wasn’t the school wall he had daubed with graffiti.
The little girl’s name was Elaine Berry. Her uncle was Ron Berry.
Niall Griffiths has described Ron Berry’s novel ‘SO LONG HECTOR BEBB’ as “one of the greatest novels to come out of the twentieth century.” 
Ron Berry was probably living in Blaencwm, or very close by, at the time. It frustrates the hell out of me to think I could have actually met him. Here was a writer ignored by the world at large and relatively unknown in his own community. Having just read his book for the first time I realise what an opportunity was lost. Never in a million years could I hope to write something like that!
Now as a writer myself I feel a responsibility to my own community. Eto is one of the ways in which I hope to discharge that responsibility by providing a platform for local authors so that writer’s of the future will be less likely to suffer the fate that Ron Berry endured. A towering talent that very few people knew existed.
So having answered your question let me ask you one.
“What commitment are you prepared to make to writers within your community wherever you live?” As Ron said through one of his characters:
We’re each and every one of us shaped for muck and glory, thank the Jesus Christ All-bloody-mighty for it an all.

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on February 15, 2013 04:27