March 2018: Self-Publishing Tips & Links #IWSG: #AmWriting

About IWSG
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 7 posting of the IWSG are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham,Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

  *None of the following links are sponsored.


My Self-Publishing Tips & Links.

If you’re a newbie self-publisher or just want to brush up on the stages or want some up to date linkage to help you along, read on.

Building up your author platform

Author platforms offer the opportunity to connect with and sell your book to prospective readers. These online channels can serve as the perfect platform to self-publish your book:

  1. Websites offer a place for potential readers to get to know about you and your books, and to contact you. Here are the best platform options for writers and authors.
  2. Social media can help with book promotion. With millions of users worldwide, promoting your book can be as fast and easy as Tweeting a freebie or sharing a great review. Although, to get much out of this now, paid promotions on those platforms with spread the word fairer and wider. Click for all the tips you need!
  3. Email Subscriber Lists –As a first-time author, getting people interested in your book can be tough. An email campaign can entice potential readers into reading your book, even before the publication process ends. First, tempt readers to join your list by offering something they need for their email and keep them on the list by continuing to do so. This could be teaser chapters, freebie fiction, etc. Derek Murphy explains how!
  4. Reviews – Once you have a platform, self-publishing and marketing your book will feel much more doable. However, promoting and selling your book can be a real time-suck, especially if your finances don’t stretch to hiring a publicist. If you need help getting reviews (and who doesn’t?) I can recommend Bookrazor this Facebook group.

*Beware of being spammy: Me, me, me: ‘Buy my book NOW!!!!’ or self-aggrandising, ‘My book is the best book you’ll ever read!!!!’. No one reacts well to either.

Professional editing.

NOTE: Before a professional editor touches your work, take advantage of as many beta readers as possible, then revise, revise, revise. This is a crucial step which will nurture your story and help to shape it into a readable and cohesive story. It will also save reduce those editing costs. These guys offer a range of affordable services.

  1. Hiring a professional editor is something EVERY author needs. No debate! While you will revise and edit multiple times yourself, the book will still need the keen eye of a professional. You will regret skipping this step when you get bad reviews and no sales!
  2. Also, something I learned the hard way – not all editors are equal. Do your research.
  3. Analyse your editor’s advice and learn from it, even if you disagree with some of their ideas or remarks. The more you learn, the crisper and cleaner your writing technique and editing skills will become, meaning the cost of your editing will reduce. Happy days!
  4. After the editor works their magic, you will make changes according to their suggestions, so your book will need a proofreader to buffer out any typos, correct formatting, and tend to any other annoying issues otherwise missed. Each step is different and as important as the other.

Cover design. 

  1. Cover designs matter but even the big publishers get it wrong. Remember you’re your cover should hint at genre and mood and theme—think ‘doorway into your story world’ or ‘the reflection in your protagonist’s eyes’. Let it represent your book. Bad covers should be avoided at all costs!
  2. It should be professional and compete with the bestsellers in your niche.
  3. Choose a cover designer whose work has impressed you to get your cover to stand out and entice readers. If they are too pricey, there are many apps like Canva which, with a little imagination and flare, allow you can make your own covers. And there are freelancer sites like Fiverr which offer much cheaper though still decent cover designers.

Book description

  1. A well-written book description attracts attention and sells books.
  2. Writing book descriptions demands a different skill set to writing prose. Book descriptions are sales copy, which is a marketing tool and not a creative piece. Many authors find this difficult to do. Some will hire a copywriter to write them, which is fine in the short time. But it may be better to learn how to write effective sales copy for yourself. You’re going to need the skill a lot if you’re self-publishing.

And finally…

  1. At each stage, think about potential readers as you would an agent or publisher and pitch your book. Make each decision during the writing, revision, editing and marketing process with them in mind.
  2. Take your time. Follow the steps.
  3. Read the brilliant self-publishing, ‘How to…’ books out there and ask lots of questions of those who are doing a wonderful job, using social media.
  4. Read the best blogs and websites for up to date advice on all author related issues. Here’s a extended list of the very best which I have compiled. Here’s one of my recent finds and go-to guides.
  5. Look into the latest self-publishing tools (I’m excited to try a few of these). Get involved in writing groups like Insecure Writers Support Group.


The Carbynarah Chronicles, Book 1 #EpicFantasy #FantasyFiction

Today I have a feature of an epic fantasy adventure. Take a look! ‘Enter a world of fantasy and magic …’


Book Description

Taken from the author’s website.

The thunder caused by a lightning bolt streaking across the sky brought Yron out of his bed.  Magic, he thought.  In the opening line from his epic book, Jon Franklyn, author of The Carbynarah Chronicles, Book 1, of his Fantasy Fiction series, sets the stage for the reader’s thorough enjoyment as they escape to the land of Carbynarah, a world created specifically for magic.

In his first novel, Franklyn captures the essence of the reader’s imagination and takes them into a magical world unlike anything they have experienced before.  Unlike many series books, Franklyn has beaten the second book blues that many series books face.  With the second book already written and scheduled to be released in March 2018, the reader will have a chance to follow the exploits of the characters as they face the challenges of a magical realm that is losing its ability to keep its magic.

In a world that is crafted with a unique vision into the working of the people of Carbynarah, the reader can enjoy watching how even the most poor and humble can transform the world in which they live.   With The Inset’s distinctive plot twists, the reader can expect the unexpected as events transpire in a way that causes them to reflect back and wonder how they could have missed all the subtle hints.

Carbynarah is a world at war with itself. It was created so that all living things could use the magic that comes from Essence produced by the tree pictured on the cover. Shortly after the creation of Carbynarah, Natural magic users (magic that comes from the DNA of the individual) infested the world.

Over the years, Natural magic users have been unable to overthrow the magic created from the Essence on Carbynarah; but now, as magical essence is diminishing, the Natural magic users believe it is time to try again. The people of Carbynarah are on the verge of uniting, and the Natural magic users realize this may be their last chance…

These two magical factions, Essence Magic and Natural magic, have been at war with each other since the beginning of time, and this story is about the struggle for power that escalates as these two factions make their final bid for the very heart and soul of Carbynarah.

Amazon Digital: US | UK |


Customer reviews

Enter a world of fantasy and magic …
The Carbynarah Chronicles – a new Amazon bestseller

From the pen of author Jon Franklyn, comes an epic tale of two opposing factions locked in a bitter conflict that has waged since the beginning of time.

The Carbynarah Chronicles takes the reader on an epic tale of magic, swords, and sorcery as the battle for the very soul of this magical realm unfolds. With a cast of unforgettable characters, perfectly paced adventures, and epic battles, The Carbynarah Chronicles delivers a world that leaves the reader desperate for more.

Prepare for an epic journey of fantasy, swords, and a battle for a world of unsurpassed magic.

The Carbynarah Chronicles is delighting readers with its epic tale of magic wielders and an ending that blows everyone away. Aimed at the entire family, The Carbynarah Chronicles is destined to become a classic, in science fiction and fantasy, that will capture the imagination of all generations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Franklyn was born in the majestic San Juan Islands, in Washington State (ten miles east of Vancouver Island) surrounded by artists and writers. Inspired by the faculty at his local high school, including the cousin of Kurt Vonnegut, author of over 25 books and plays, Jon always dreamed of writing his own book. Graduating from Anacortes High School, Westminster College, and the American Institute of Applied Politics, Franklyn worked on several political campaigns before he started his foray into business.

His business career eventually led him back to writing. In 2010, Franklyn sat down at a computer, and 90 days later he had written the first draft of “The Inset.” Years later, with the encouragement of his wife, Julie, he picked up the keyboard and pursued his career in writing. Several books later, Jon contacted an editor, and today you are enjoying the fruits of that labor.

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‘Creating a Killer’ Twist by @DWGillespie #Horror #Paranormal #MindControl @Sirens_Call

This is a great post for me, and extremely timely (I’m currently finishing off a short story for a Masters assignment with a mega twist). I always attempt to write a good twist in all my stories, mostly because I love nothing more than being hit in the face with a big fat ‘what F**K moment’, then thinking back and finding all the clues.

Surprises which have no bearing in the story, however often prompt readers to hurl the author’s book against the nearest wall. So, for writers (and readers) who love a great twist, read on for a short masterclass by D.W. Gillespie

Creating a Killer Twist

D.W. Gillespie


My debut novel, Still Dark, is designed specifically to mess with you. It’s the type of book where you know exactly what the antagonist is in the first 50 pages or so. You might even roll your eyes at how similar it is to some books you’ve read in the past. There’s only one problem… you’re totally wrong, and I would bet you a dollar you won’t guess what’s really happening until pretty late in the book.

This is not because I’m an undiscovered genius of literature. I mean, I think I’m okay. Instead, it’s more because of the fact that I’m using what you know against you. I tried hard to connect the dots and make something that actually holds up to scrutiny.

Let’s take a deeper look at the one guy who’s become almost synonymous with the word “twist.” M. Night Shyamalan built a career on messing with audiences, usually successfully.

CLICK TO READ ON: Spoiler warnings from here on out. I mean, we’re talking about movies from 15 years ago, but… maybe someone hasn’t seen them?

So, what are the lessons here? For starters, writers should work hard to make sure everything lines up. And even more importantly, don’t make a twist that negates everything that comes before. A good twist should be like dessert. It makes the whole meal seem better when you look back on it.



Still Dark – D.W. Gillespie

When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…

Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.

Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!

Amazon Digital and Print: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico| Brazil | India | The Netherlands

Kobo | Barnes & Noble (Digital or Print) | iTunes | Smashwords

Available on:


US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

Amazon Print:

US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | CreateSpace (Print)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR — D.W. Gillespie has been writing dark fiction in one form or another since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He’s been featured in multiple horror anthologies, both in print and online. Still Dark is his debut novel, and his second book, a short collection titled Handmade Monsters, arrives in 2017. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.

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101 Damnations: Learn what #writing dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction entails from #horror author, Sam Mortimer. #Amwriting

For horror writer’s like myself, these kinds of posts are perfect. They not only offer insights into the dark minds of other horror writers, but also offer advice and inspiration to fuel our own writing. What follows is Sam Mortimer’s lowdown on getting a feel for writing dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction.

101 Damnations

Sam Mortimer


Let us count the ways civilization could fall, and how humanity would be doomed to a broken existence. That’s typically what writing dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction entails, no? Coolly put on your favorite sunglasses and view the world darkly, because there’s a plethora of material burning with nuclear intensity.

I love dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic scenarios, but only in fiction. In reality, a dystopian or post-apocalyptic environment would abysmally, for lack of more vulgar terms, suck. In Screams The Machine, society’s fall and entrapment begins with a sickness carried by currency. The world becomes more violent. The Solution, a worldwide organization, offers answers and safety, but they will own your mind. That’s some tough luck plucking your knuckles right there, but a smidgen of hope still shimmers; in order to free yourself, you have to go stone-cold turkey from technological addictions you didn’t even know existed.


Here are the first ten methods to help get a feel for some dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction. Though, I’m sure there are at least 101 ways for society to damn itself:


1 – Seek a scary truth and ask, seriously, how many ways can civilization crumble? There’s more than one way. In Screams The Machine, a factor is disease spreading through money. Addiction plays a part, and suppressed emotions become monsters.

2 – Figure out where technology is heading, learn about who has potential to control it. For example, when artificial intelligence can be a viably employed, did you know they could be considered intellectual property? What jobs will they take from humans? Gee, I’m sure AI will be pretty efficient at math, for starters.

3 – Find out what survival products are currently available. Is it wise to stock them? For instance, water filters. How would these products prepare an individual for any sort impending doom?

4 – Visualize the best parts of your life, conveniences, the beauty of human-made structures and nature. Destroy it all in your mind, then, try to live in it. This happens in a different sort of way in Screams The Machine. Convenience is specifically targeted. Convenience does not exist without The Solution.

5 – It’s important to know what hunger feels like beyond that little stomach growl before lunch. See what mood that puts you in, or how weak you feel. Then observe what actual starvation does to people. Starvation kills. It’s not a game; it’s not that little stomach growl before lunch.

6 – Know desperation, emptiness. In a dystopian or post-apocalyptic world, what would keep you going? Why?

7 – Wonder what’s like to not take a bath for a while—please, for everyone sakes, take a bath or shower though.

8 – Treat yourself to a related video game, like Fallout 4, for post-apocalyptic survival. Watch Blade Runner for a ride through a dystopian vision. Those are good examples to learn from.

9 – Read the best books in the genres. What are their premises? Figure out what you can add.

10 – Learn about yourself. Peer deep into the figurative mirror. Who are you?  Listen to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” on repeat. Kidding. There’s a dark truth to dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. Both styles magnify painful aspects of human nature and existence, realizing the same human needs and fears that connect us create schisms. Why? I think dystopian fiction digs down to the core and unearths some hideous actualities, albeit in an interesting and entertaining way.


Check out Sam’s latest publication!



Cash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.

Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.

The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.

Available on:


US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

Amazon Print:

US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | CreateSpace (Print)


Author Bio:

Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven. He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.

Thank Sam for sharing his damn fine

writing insights with us!


Dread: A #Horror Collection available in PRINT! Please spread the word. ;) #Amreading


Lexa Cain is the wonderful host of this meme, so go HERE to sign up and find the other hoppers.  Then each Friday, post on your blog something you wish to celebrate, or have achieved / or are doing that week.

Today I’m celebrating the launch of the print edition of DREAD: A Horror Collection


What’s DREAD? For the past few months I’ve been rewriting horror shorts. Mostly because I’ve been too busy (or ill) to write new stories (although I’m chuffed to say I now have three WIPs). Also, I knew my stories could be, should be, so much better, cleaner, and powerfully structured. This is the hell that is a writer’s lot. We put stories out there, time passes, we learn how to be a better writer and we (I) just can’t help but write another edition. Otherwise, it feels like neglect… or is that just me?

These stories were first developed around five or six years ago (four years ago for A Slow Burn) so when I re-read them recently (oops, alliteration) I cringed at certain aspects. I did do a tidy up on A Slow Burn a while ago, but that was for the odd typo I’d missed (where do they come from?). What I’ve done this year has been much more. Especially with one, Rosa and Bella’s Journal of Decline which was always hit and miss with readers because only a few fully understood it. It had to be clearer.

You should know…  my horror never comes from a love of gore.

Horror is so much more than gore but it’s often a requirement for horror readers. Trouble is, it’s just not what I enjoy watching, reading, or writing. Not because I have a sensitive tummy. I don’t, not in that way at least. But because I don’t find those stories particularly scary. My horror preferences are psychological darkness, twisted humanity, manipulated minds. Even my post-apocalyptic stories concentrate on isolation, the dread of existing in a world largely alone or with strangers you have no choice but to trust. The best monster is a breaking mind, a splintered society, some deviance of humanity (in this life or another). These scare me because they’re closer to reality and can often reflect the darkness within us all. It’s also why zombies and vampires have found such a firm footing in the genre (although fashions are fleeting). These monsters are deviant forms of humanity, they are humanity gone ‘dead’ wrong. *Cringe!

Also, these are UK based and written using UK English. I have been emailed in the past for spelling errors which weren’t there. Just saying 🙂

Some may wonder why I’m bothering with old stuff. Well, the changes are new and the stories aren’t ancient. Apart from that, it’s great for practice. If for any reason writing something new is not an option then I rework something else until I can. This can be another authors work (don’t publish that) or your own (only republish if it’s an improvement). Whatever works, right?

Why PRINT a Story Collection? I never thought about printing this collection before but I’ve been reading a lot about the reemergence of paperback readers (and rise in audiobooks, though that’s not on the cards just yet). Years ago, I printed Finding Esta (no longer for sale) so knew it wouldn’t be a difficult process. Ultimately, the questions became, why not print? Plus, it’s always fun to hold my stories in my hand. 🙂

Here’s the print cover front and back:

If anyone would like to blog about this for me, that would be blummin awesome. 🙂

Alternatively, feel free to use social media, such as Twitter or Facebook to share news about my book. I wish I had buys links for you, but don’t, so I’m sharing my Amazon international author page link, instead

Also, I’m happy to give review copies to those interested in this genre, in your choice of file. Use my CONTACT page to let me know. I’m currently awaiting reviews from two Ginger Nuts of Horror reviews (scariest thing ever)! They’re both local boys, which is rare so it’s fabulous to find them! Fingers crossed they enjoy my words. No seriously, cross your fingers! Ahem.

Here are two Tweet ideas if you feel so inclined:

Feel free to write your own. 

If you’d like to do more, here’ a quick note:

Thank you for your support AWESOME writers and readers!