Monday, 28 February 2011

Free ebooks, cheap ebooks, new ebooks, book blogs

All my books are on offer at low prices.

You can find more information at and


Daily Cheap Reads UK finds and lists free and cheap ebooks in the UK. It's run by the same people who run the popular Daily Cheap Reads site in the US . You don't need a Kindle to read the books - you can use a free kindle app for your iPad or smartphone, or you can download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac for free. You can also use Cloudreader to read books in your browser on your computer if you use Chrome or Safari.

The Frugal Ereader has regular posts about free and cheap ebooks in the US, as well as news, features and giveaways. There is an anniversary giveaway running on the site with a book being given away every day this month.

Ereadernewstoday has news about free and cheap ebooks in the US, as well as Kindle accessories.

I also use EreaderIQ to notify me about price drops of ebooks I'd like to buy. It has both a US and a UK site.

Indie Book Bargains in the UK has a daily newsletter with cheap and bargain-priced books in the UK
The Kindle Daily Deal launched on 15th November 2011 in the UK. Each day a different book will be offered for 24 hours at a discount of around 70-80%. The Kindle Daily Deal has been operating successfully in the US for a while, with books by popular/famous authors on offer at a very cheap price.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Merry-Go-Round - Experiments with Pricing

I read The Merry-Go-Round last year and I really enjoyed it. It's a romantic comedy by Donna Fasano, an award-winning American writer who has written more than thirty novels and sold more than 3.5 million books worldwide. She writes women's fiction under her own name and romance books under the pen name of Donna Clayton.

After reading her book I made contact with Donna and we have kept in touch. I consider her a friend though we have never met and probably never will - she lives in America. It's her birthday today. Happy birthday, Donna!

She's celebrating the release of one of her backlist books, Mountain Laurel, by reducing the Kindle price of The Merry-Go-Round to 99 cents in the US and 70p in the UK.

She has just started a blog, if you'd like to visit and say hello.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Parallel Worlds - Proof of their existence

Oh look. Last week I went to Literary Death Match, Polari and YARN. At YARN's Illustrationarium Live I told a story about the mysterious disappearance of my oldest friend, Araminta Claremont, a time traveller. My story was illustrated live on the night by the artist Jessica Allan. Yesterday I wrote about it on my blog.

And when I searched on the internet for 'Illustrationarium Live' to see if anyone else had written about it, I discovered that someone else had visited exactly the same events last week! They had even told a time travel story at YARN. And they had posted about it in exactly the same words. Wow. I never used to believe in parallel worlds but this is proof, at last, of their existence.

The only difference between my post and the one filed by the 'editor' of that other blog is that the other post was tagged 'writing and bloggin' and the pictures weren't laid out neatly. Also, the other post was filed under 'writing jobs'. This is the worrying part.

Please don't apply for the job of being me or accept it, if it should be offered to you - not in this world, anyway. I suppose I have no control over the vacancies for Helen Smiths in other worlds.

I like the way things are going for me in 2011. Besides, what else would I do?

Three Sisters - review

There's a lovely review for Three Sisters over at Socrates' Book Reviews:

"It’s fast-paced, funny, and mysterious all at the same time. I’ve never read anything by Helen Smith before, but she’s a new-to-me author that I will be looking for in the future. I can’t wait to see what Emily’s next adventure will be."

Monday, 21 February 2011

Everyone's a Winner

There are a few opportunities to win copies of my books this week.

There's a great new book review blog called Big Al's Books and Pals. Al has been writing professional music reviews for many years, and writing book reviews for pleasure, posting them on Amazon and Goodreads as a way of keeping a record of the books he has read. His reviews are always well-written and interesting, so I'm glad he has started his review blog. He reviewed Three Sisters last week and is now giving away a copy of the book if you'd like one - just comment on the review. For a 'bonus entry' (and to keep up with news of future reviews and giveaways) you can follow the blog on Facebook, Twitter and via Google Friend Connect on his blog. You have until 28th Feb to sign up for a copy of Three Sisters.

If you want to know how to find free ebooks for the Kindle you may already be following ereaderfreebies. The site posts news of free books available in the Kindle store and this week, as a special promotion, they are giving away copies of The Miracle Inspector. You have until 5th March to enter.

Both giveaways are available in kindle format to anyone, anywhere in the world. If you don't have a kindle, you can download a free app for your pc, Mac, smartphone, Android or iPad.

Lovely Literary Events - Literary Death Match, Polari and YARN

Literary events are a wonderful way of discovering new authors, or authors you might have heard of but never got round to reading - and we're fortunate to have quite a few of these events in London.

On Wednesday I went to Literary Death Match at Shoreditch House. It was hosted by Todd Zuniga and Suzanne Azzopardi and featured Esther Freud (author of seven novels including Lucky Break & Hideous Kinky), playwright/novelist/actress/friend of this blog Julie Mayhew (Red Ink & Stopgap), G S Mattu (Sons and Fascination) and Guy Folligrey who read from his new book and performed on the ukulele, and was judged the winner of the evening.

There was an anarchic feel to the evening as the readers competed for the attention of judges Rowland Rivron, Simon Hickson and Sam Leith. Despite the competitive element, it's a very good-natured event - the judges were warm-hearted and witty, and anyway part of the performers' success depended on being able to catch marshmallows in their mouths, and shoot a lipsticked cupid's arrow as accurately as possible at a large photo of romance writer Barbara Cartland (bonus points if their arrow landed on her pug's snout in the photo). So none of the participants went away feeling that they had failed to win because their work lacked literary merit...

On Friday evening I went to Polari, a literary event held monthly at the Royal Festival Hall in London, hosted by Paul Burston.

The readers were Christopher Fowler, Mark Gevisser, Paul Harding, Lois Walden and Rebecca Chance. Check out Chris's fascinating blog, if you haven't come across it already - he uses London as a backdrop for his novels and often mentions interesting reference books he has collected on London, as well as other books he has read, films and exhibitions he has seen, and so on.

Chris and Mark read autobiographical extracts. Chris talked about how he got his start in advertising in the 1970s before going on to write fiction, including scripts and novels. Mark's moving excerpt was taken from Edenvale (which is published in Aliens, the new edition of Granta). He talked about his marriage to his partner in South Africa, and the exhortation of the registrar that they should make more of a fuss of the event than they had planned. I quoted it last night when discussing plans with my daughter for her wedding next year (not that she wasn't planning to make some kind of a fuss on her big day.)

Lois Walden's reading was from an autobiographical novel called One More Stop, and Paul Harding's tale of infidelity in Greece had a ring of truth to it, though he didn't reveal how much of what he described in his work of fiction was based on what might have happened to him. Which brings me to my friend Rebecca Chance's reading, which was a fabulously camp story of a cat fight in a burlesque club in New York between a stripper dressed as a mermaid and a coked-up woman in a wig whose father has been the stripper's lover. I'm glad she chose it, as it's my favourite part of her book, Divas. I do sometimes wonder, as I read her highly entertaining 'bonk-busters', just how much of what she writes is based on her life's experiences...

Last night I took part in YARN's Illustrationarium Live. YARN is a festival of story and story-telling that incorporates theatre, film, music and art. Illustrationarium Live matched authors and story-tellers with artists who illustrated live while we told our tales. I performed a half hour comic monologue I had written about time travel while Jessica Allan illustrated on an acetate on an OHP. Her illustration was brilliant and the event was hugely enjoyable. I was delighted to be a part of it. There's a set of photos on Flickr here by the Soupa creative network and some more on Facebook from Cure Studio.

YARN continues with 'cover wars' tonight - four teams of illustrators 'compete' to illustrate a cover for Hanif Kureishi's Buddha of Suburbia while he reads from the book. Then on Tuesday there's The Special Relationship, another story-telling event featuring Simon Munnery, Jarred McGinnis, Sam Taradash and Matthew Robins. On Wednesday, the festival finishes with the launch of Ten Stories about Smoking by Stuart Evers. His stories will be intepreted into film, theatre, music and spoken word by artists including The Strumpettes, Quattro Formaggio, Verity Flecknell (Storm in a Teacup collective) and Camila Fiori.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Illustrationarium Live - 20th February, London

Please check out Jessica Allan's website and blog. She's a very talented artist and illustrator and she'll be illustrating my story Aviatrix live as I tell it on Sunday 20th February at the Illustrationarium - Live as part of the YARN festival of story and storytelling.

There will be other stories on the night from Chris Cleave, Katy Darby and Rachel Rose Reid. Their stories will be illustrated live by Carlos Garde-Martin, Neil McFarland and Luke Waller.

The event is 6.00pm - 8.00pm at The Book Club in Shoreditch and it's only £3.

If you're interested in illustrating some of our stories yourself there will be excerpts up on the walls of the Book Club - you can turn up between 12.00pm and 5.00 pm on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th to do your own illustrations. This Illustrationarium event is free - please register here.

The Illustrationarium events are run in partnership with Cure Studio and Soupa Creative Network. The YARN Festival is run by Gemma Mitchell and sponsored by

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Penguin Classic Shorts

In a recent blog post I mentioned the lovely Penguin 60s collection of individual short stories, published a few year ago to celebrate Penguin's 60th anniversary.

This morning I got an email from the London Review of Books bookshop about Penguin Mini Modern Classics, described by Penguin as "the best short fiction by the greatest writers of the last century - from Beckett to Kafka, Nabokov to Saki and Updike to Wodehouse. Each little book is a quick literary hit, a satisfying shot of storytelling." Each book is £3.

B&W Book Bloggers Ball

If you're visiting this blog as part of the B&W Book Bloggers Ball organised by Meg Clayton, welcome!

If you have a book blog, you may be familiar with the idea of a 'blog hop'. This is a way of encouraging readers of one blog to visit other interesting blogs.

Meg Clayton and I are members of She Writes, an online collective of women writers who share news about our books and the process of writing. Many of us have blogs. Please visit Meg's site to get the links to some of the other writers who are participating, and hop in and say hello. Hopefully you'll find some interesting new blogs to follow.

Three Sisters - 5* Review

There's a lovely 5* review for Three Sisters over at Peter Salisbury's blog:

"Helen Smith's story glows like a roman candle: bright, colourful and full of surprises. This is a perfectly formed mystery in every way."

You can buy it at for 99 cents or for 71p. If you don't have a Kindle, you can get a free Kindle app for your pc, Mac, smartphone or iPad.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Lovely Literary Events in London - Literary Death Match, 16th February

Literary Death Match returns to London tonight for a post-Valentine's 'Love Hurts' evening.

Readers tonight will be Esther Freud (author of Lucky Break & Hideous Kinky), playwright/novelist/actress/friend of this blog Julie Mayhew (Red Ink & Stopgap), Sunjeev Sahota (Ours Are the Streets) and Guy Folligrey.

Judges are Rowland Rivron, Simon Hickson and Sam Leith.

It starts at 8.00 pm at Shoreditch House. Tickets are £5 in advance, £8 on the door.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

You're still here? Thank you!

Hey, thanks for sticking with me in recent months when all I have done is drone on about my books.

So far as I can tell from my reader stats, a few people unsubscribed from this blog in the past couple of weeks as I posted link after link to various reviews and Q&As. I wish I could say to them that I quite understand how irritating it is to have people talking cheerily about the minor successes in their lives. But, of course, they will never see it.

For those of you still reading this - the loyal ones, the kind friends, the recidivists, the success-celebrators - I'd like to say, Thank you. And if you're still here but you've been thinking about unsubscribing, or you unsubscribed but you couldn't resist coming back and peeking, it may help to know that although I have some more good news coming up soon, I'll spread it a bit thinner if I can. For those of you following the money under the mat experiment, I'll also have an update on that.

For now, I'm back to talking about the minutiae of my life and celebrating other people's success. With that in mind, I'd like to draw your attention to Persona, the world's first online drama created exclusively for smartphones. It's a project created by Phil Barron, and Laurence Timms is on the writing team. It only costs £1.50 for 365 days of drama. If that sounds a bit steep, you can find it for £1.19 at iTunes.

As to the minutiae of my life, I'm working on a half hour monologue which I hope to deliver in a Ronnie Corbett style, but without the armchair or the benefit of fifty years of show business experience. It's going OK, though don't have an ending or enough jokes. (And if you don't know who Ronnie Corbett is, bless you. He's a bit like Justin Bieber, if that helps.)

Book of the Dead at The British Museum - free event, 17th February

There's a free late night Book of the Dead event at the British Museum on 17th February from 6.30 pm.

You can listen to storytelling, join a choir, watch a film installation, watch classical and folk dancing, play ancient Egyptian board games, and make your own shabti figures.

I know the people who are organising it. It should be interesting. It's a drop-in event and everything is free, though some sessions will be ticketed because of restrictions on participant numbers.

New service for advertising agencies - free

You'd think that the people who write adverts would show them to at least one other person before going to print. They might ask questions such as: Do you think this advert is likely to offend more potential customers than it attracts?

I suppose that as the recession bites and foolish young people are put in charge of writing advertisements, there simply isn't time to read through adverts these days before printing them and displaying them to thousands of people. Fortunately I'm here to help.

Here's one that shouldn't have been allowed through:

In a poster campaign currently running on London's tube system, an apparently healthy, youngish, smug-looking man assuages his guilt about not giving up his seat by eating McCain's chips. Since this fictional character would only feel guilty in the first place if he hadn't given up his seat to an elderly or disabled person or a pregnant woman, I find it impossible to understand how we're supposed to empathise with him. While this campaign is clearly aimed at single men, there will be plenty of women who read it. It is women who do most of the food shopping in Britain's households. Since many of them will have been pregnant at some time in their lives, and will have been ignored by smug, healthy young men sitting comfortably while they stand on the tube on their way to and from work, I doubt this ad will encourage them to buy McCain's products.

How to find cheap ebooks

How to find cheap books for your Kindle
I have updated my list of sites for finding cheap ebooks because this post is still getting visitors. Please share if you find it useful!

Sign up for Amazon's Kindle Daily Deal (UK) several new deals every day
Sign up for Amazon's Kindle Dail Deal (US) several new deals every day

Ereader News Today (US) Useful info, including free and bargain ebooks
Daily CheapReads US Recommends cheap & free ebooks
Daily CheapReads UK Recommends cheap & free ebooks
BookBub (US) Sign up for a newsletter with offers in the genres that interest you
The FrugalEreader (US) Recommended bargain books
Indie Book Bargains (UK) Sign up for a daily newsletter listing free and bargain UK books
Kindle User Forum (UK) Browse free UK ebooks here.
DailyFreeBooks (US) Free books in the US
EreaderIQ US Use their pricewatch to track ebooks so you can buy them when the price drops
EreaderIQ UK Use their pricewatch to track ebooks so you can buy them when the price drops
EreaderIQ Canada Use their pricewatch to track ebooks

Don't forget that if you're a member of Amazon Prime you can borrow selected Kindle books (including mine) for FREE... as well as getting free delivery on paperbacks + free streaming of TV/films and other benefits. Sign up for a FREE trial of Amazon Prime in the US here or the UK here.

If you're in the US, Kindle Matchbook allows you to buy Kindle editions of print books you bought from This means you can buy a paperback as a gift for a friend and get the ebook for yourself at a reduced price. Useful for birthdays and Christmas presents! My books are enrolled. Look here to see which other books are in the program.

More information about my books here

Sign up here for an email alert when a new book is published.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Falling in love... with short stories

Musician and author Alain Gomez has started a new blog devoted to short stories because, as she explains: "I was introduced to the short story genre in high school and simply fell in love."

As part of her Short Story Project she'll be featuring authors who have written short stories on her blog. She has been kind enough to feature mine today. Please visit the site to see what she has to say about the Short Story Project, and bookmark it for recommendations and discussions about short form fiction.

One of the many brilliant things about ereaders is that technology makes it possible to produce short stories cheaply, and sell them cheaply, in ebook form. I remember a few years ago Penguin produced a series of paperback single short stories called Penguin 60s, to celebrate the publisher's sixtieth anniversary in publishing. The paperbacks were tiny, about 4.5 ins x 5.5 (or 10 cm x 14.4) and they cost 60p (or about a $1). I snapped up loads of them: lovely little books with a single story in each by Truman Capote, Conan Doyle, Paul Theroux, Annie Proulx, Damon Runyon, Poppy Z Brite and John Updike and more. It was a wonderful promotion but they must have cost Penguin more to produce than they recouped in sales from the books themselves - though hopefully people discovered new authors and went on to buy longer, more expensive books by their favourites.

I have mentioned Granta a few times on here. It's an anthology of new writing - a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, and photo essays. That's another way fantastic to discover new authors.

Amazon have recently launched Kindle Singles - short stories or novellas of between 10,000 and 30,000 words priced between 99 cents and $2.99 (or about 65p - £2) that are selected by Amazon's in-house editors and promoted by their marketing team. The first round of Kindle Singles includes stories or essays from a diverse range of writers, including Jodi Picoult giving advice to her son on leaving home in Leaving Home and Jonathan Littel talking about the war in Congo in Invisible Enemy.

Now it's possible for writers to put short essays and short fiction in the kindle store, either as a way of encouraging readers to try their writing at a bargain price, or because they have a piece of writing that deserves to stand alone or doesn't fit as part of a collection anywhere else.

As you will probably know if you are a regular reader of this blog, I have just released my first piece of short fiction exclusively for the kindle. Three Sisters is the first story in a new mystery series about an amateur sleuth, Emily Castles. I'd like each 'episode' to be a fun, fast read that functions rather like an episode of one of those successful British TV mysteries that we all love to watch - long enough to allow the characters to develop, but without demanding the kind of time commitment that a novel requires from a reader. And because it doesn't take as long to write as a novel, and doesn't cost very much to produce, each episode can be delightfully cheap. It's yours, my friend, for only 99 cents or 71p.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Useful list of cheap ebooks

All my books are on offer at low prices.

You can find more information at and


Daily Cheap Reads UK finds and posts about cheap, super-cheap and free ebooks in the UK kindle store,

Daily Cheap Reads site in the US. This site specifically features bargain ebooks available in the US. You don't need a kindle to read the books - you can use a free kindle app for your iPad or smartphone, or you can download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac for free.

The Frugal Ereader has regular posts about free and cheap ebooks in the US, as well as news, features and giveaways.

Ereadernewstoday has news about free and cheap ebooks in the US, as well as Kindle accessories.

I use EreaderIQ to notify me about price drops of ebooks I'd like to buy. It has both a US and a UK site.

The Kindle Daily Deal in the UK and the US feature a different book each day that has been discounted by up to 80%.

If you're looking for information about my books, here's the link to where you can buy them in the US and the UK.

Helen Smith - Author Q&A - Word Pursuit

I took part in a Q&A about my books over at Word Pursuit. There's a chance to win a copy of Three Sisters. Please take a look.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Helen Smith - Author Q&A - Booked Up

I took part in a Q&A about my books over at the Booked Up blog.

Three Sisters - Reviews

There are a couple of lovely reviews in for Three Sisters:

Booked Up 5* "I thought this was a great read from start to finish."
Dru's Book Musings 4* "This was a good short story."

Customer reviews are also coming in on Amazon. The book reached no. 9 in 'women sleuths' on Amazon's bestseller chart yesterday. Very exciting!

You can find it in the kindle store at and

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

YARN Festival - Programme

The full programme has been announced for the YARN festival in London in February. I'm taking part in the Illustrationarium at the Book Club on Sunday 20th:

Tues 15th Feb // The Social // free
A collection of images and words conjuring up the murky world of Victorian entertainment and show-business. Marvel at strongmen, bearded women, strippers, and exotic oddities of all kinds in this series of drawings by artist Jason Butler and accompanying poems from Will Burns.

5-Aside Story
18th Feb – 23rd Feb //
Collaborate in the world's first online 5-aside story where each writer can contribute just 5 sentences to the mix. Chris Cleave will be kicking off the story on the 18th. Get involved at Acorn Independent Press' blog.

sat19 & sun20 12pm-5pm // The Book Club // free
Release the doodle and turn words into pictures. Join in with YARN downstairs at the Book Club and create your own illustrations using an OHP, pens, paper and whatever else you can find!

Zine Workshop
Sat19 12pm – 5pm // The Book Club // free (donations to materials welcome!)
Always fancied making a zine but not sure where to start? This workshop will help you make the most of your ideas. Learn how to incorporate story telling with illustration and image making and get tips from professional illustrators and designers.

Libations, Laughs and Literature
Sun20 3pm-4.30pm // The Book Club // £3 + a free libation
Enjoy a Sunday afternoon libation whilst exercising your literary muscles with an afternoon pub quiz with a twist.

Lights! Camera! Improvise!
The Improvised Movie Live On Stage
Sun20 5pm-6pm // The Book Club // £3
Oscar has the biggest movie collection in the world. He has every film you could ever imagine. The audience suggest a genre, location, theme and title. Oscar finds the DVD.
The company improvise the whole movie; complete with awesome action sequences, captivating plot and a thrilling live film score. Oscar pauses and rewinds the best bits and cuts to hilarious DVD extras.

Illustrationarium – LIVE!
Sun20 6.30pm-8.30pm // The Book Club // £3
Hear the words and see the story illustrated live. Authors, storytellers and illustrators, include Chris Cleave, Helen Smith, Rachel Rose Reid, Katy Darby, Neil McFarland, Carlos Garde-Martin, and, Luke Waller.

Cover Wars – The Buddha of Suburbia
Mon21 7.30pm-10pm // The Queen of Hoxton // £5
Four Illustrators, one book cover, who will win?
Four illustrators representing illustration networks across London will pit their pens, pencils, brushes and glue against each other in a battle to create the best book cover for Hanif Kureishi’s ‘Buddha of Suburbia’ live on the night. Hanif Kureishi will read excerpts on the night as well join Jon Gray of Gray318 on the judging panel.

The Special Relationship
Tues22 7.30pm – 10.30pm // Concrete // £5
Comedian and playwright Tom Basden and the American short story writers Jarred McGinnis and Sam Taradash bring their Camden show "The Special Relationship" to the East End. A night of literary entertainment where award-winning writers, poets, comedians and filmmakers have a story to tell. Matthew Robins joins the Special Relationship to bring his songs, shadow puppets and strangeness.

Ten Stories about Smoking
Wed 23 7.30pm – 10.30pm // The Queen of Hoxton // £5
Stuart Evers launches his new collection ‘Ten Stories About Smoking’. See the collection interpreted into film, theatre, music and spoken word by artists including The Strumpettes, Quattro Formaggio, Verity Flecknell, The Android Angel, Chimene Suleyman and Camila Fiori

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Muriel Spark - World Book Night, 5th March

I'm delighted that I have been chosen as one of 20,000 'givers' on World Book Night, 5th March. I'll be giving away 48 copies of Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

In total, one million books will be given away in the UK and Ireland on 5th March.

Are you participating? Please let me know.