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 Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk


USEFUL SITES FOR CHEAP EBOOKS:

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 BookHugger.co.uk

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 Amazon.com for 99 cents or Amazon.co.uk 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.)

Why should I give up my seat for you just because you're pregnant?

You could only ask this question if you were a man. It's OK, I get it. You have never been pregnant and you never will be. If your wife or girlfriend falls pregnant you may write cheerful emails to people saying 'we're pregnant' or reminisce about a time 'when we were pregnant'. But, trust me. You are not pregnant. You never were. If you were pregnant, you'd know about it.

But you have a sporting injury that is giving you gyp. You're tired. You're hungover. You're on a bus or the Tube and you don't see why you should give up your seat for a woman just because she's pregnant. She's only having a baby. Loads of women do it. Your mother did it. How hard can it be?

Well, imagine that you are carrying around a 7lb kicking thing, together with another heavyish thing that will later be known as 'the afterbirth' and which looks like a very large slab of veiny liver, and some amniotic fluid, which is watery stuff and also quite heavy. You don't have a womb, so imagine that you are carrying it around in your scrotum. I know that some of you have already imagined this because I have seen you sitting on the Tube with your legs spread wide apart, and I know it's not because you have a big dick. So imagine these heavy items - perhaps you already have a comedy name for the living part of it, like 'junior' or 'festus' - hanging in your scrotum, or (if you prefer) stuffed up your arse. Anywhere you'd swear they don't belong, considering how uncomfortable it all is.

Now imagine getting on the Tube and travelling to work and standing all the way to your destination because all the young men with normal-sized scrotums don't see why the hell they should give up their seats to you. If you can't imagine that, imagine being old or disabled and having to stand up when your legs ache. If you can't imagine that, don't worry about it. Because one day it will happen to you.

---
Edited to add: This post is a response to an advert for McCain's chips that is currently running on London Underground. It suggests that it is amusing, even admirable, for an apparently healthy youngish man to avoid giving up his seat to someone who needs it. I could just as easily have entitled it: Why should I give up my seat for you just because you're disabled/injured/old? But I am not disabled and I have never been injured and I'm not that old, so I found it easier to describe how it feels to be pregnant in case one of those chip-eating morons should read this.

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

All my books are on offer at low prices.

You can find more information at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk


USEFUL SITES FOR CHEAP EBOOKS:

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 very cheap prices.

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 Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk


USEFUL LIST OF SITES FEATURING CHEAP OR FREE EBOOKS:

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.