Monday 12 August 2013

'Tis the season... the footy season... yet again

The new Premier League season is about to start, so if you haven't already you'd better be quick and sign up to play the free, official Premier League fantasy football game for 2013/14. To enter, simply register for free here. Et voila!

Here's my team, Jack Of Ball Trades, as it is for the start of the season... crap, isn't it? Am already starting to think I should have bought Aspas rather than Sturridge, would have saved myself a couple of million (how casual I am with fantasy money). But anyway, what do I know about football?

Tuesday 6 August 2013

The Last Crusade...

... in which I pursue the Holy Grail (geddit?)

Getting onto's Top 100 list is a big deal, I reckon. A lot of Kindle owner's check that on a regular basis. I'm not talking about genre-specific lists, I'm talking about the big guns: Amazon's top 100 paid-for Kindle books and the top 100 free.

It's a big deal because once you're on there, lots of downloads follow and, presumably, book sales of other titles too. That's the theory anyway.

I run two titles under Amazon's exclusivity programme KDP Select, namely Turn Around Where Possible and Cold. Periodically, I give these away free. The nearest either has ever got to the top 100 list was when Turn Around... peaked, for a few short hours, at #113. To get that high, more than 2,200 free copies were downloaded.

What's all this building to? Well, I'm going to have one more crack at the Holy Grail, the top 100. I've scheduled for both titles to be free on Amazon, simultaneously and worldwide, on the 31st of August and 1st of September. I've submitted my promotion's details just about everywhere I can think of. I've given plenty of notice to untold Twitter book promotion accounts. I've scheduled a number of promotional tweets myself on a (hopefully not too annoying) regular basis. And now I'm blogging about it.

So I need your help. If you have a Kindle, Kindle app or Kindle for PC, you can download either or both of these short stories. I hope you do. I think you might like them. But also please tell your friends. Maybe flatter me with a retweet when you see me plugging the big push. And if you run or write for a book review website or blog, please let me know and maybe we can do something.

Think of this as an experiment. Can a little known indie author crack the top 100 free list with a self-published short story or two? Let's find out...

Footnote: apologies for this kind of blog cross-pollination. I don't do it often, but I really need the most exposure I can generate for this, so forgive me please. If you want to read more about my writing, you can do so here. As for this blog, I'll get back to writing about music, TV, films and life soon, I promise.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Happiness isn't easy

Back in June I wrote about Alex Quick's book 102 Free Things To Do - inspiring ideas for a better life and how I intended to try the suggestions therein to see if life did indeed get better. Of those 102 things, I previously identified 28 that I had already done, five that I would never do...and the other 69 were up for grabs. Anyway, here's an update - newly done are bold:

  1. Go out and look at the stars
  2. Keep a diary - but only one sentence a day
  3. Meter your energy use with a smart meter
  4. Give up your car
  5. Get up earlier
  6. Sketch your relatives - it's better than photos
  7. Treasure your precious human body
  8. Go on an archeological dig
  9. Write a letter to your future self
  10. Don't confuse affluence with well-being
  11. Memorise a poem
  12. Ask a child for advice
  13. Take part in a police line-up
  14. Give up craving for recognition (and be admired for it)
  15. Notice when things have improved
  16. Go on holiday without leaving your bedroom
  17. Practice random acts of kindness (and, if time permits, senseless acts of beauty)
  18. Climb a mountain
  19. Turn your house into a restaurant
  20. Start a film society
  21. Remember that making mistakes is part of being human
  22. See the sun rise and set on a single summer's day
  23. Get fit without joining a gym
  24. Sit still until you see wildlife emerge
  25. Contact a friend you haven't spoken to for years
  26. Go cloud-spotting
  27. Learn to meditate
  28. Volunteer for something
  29. Spend a day and night in a forest
  30. Cherish older people
  31. Reconsider your career
  32. Enlarge your comfort zone
  33. Achieve your ideal weight
  34. Learn how to talk to strangers in public
  35. Visit Project Gutenberg
  36. Gather a meal from the wild
  37. Learn another language
  38. Invent a language
  39. Pretend you are a valet for humanity
  40. Go busking
  41. Start a book in which to record things that have really, really made you laugh
  42. Go somewhere outdoors that is very silent
  43. Make Christmas presents for your whole family one year
  44. Give something up
  45. Cheer up lonely men in public places
  46. Swap your CDs
  47. Adopt or invent a personal motto
  48. Support your local eccentric
  49. Become a freegan
  50. Swim in the sea
  51. Get to know your neighbours
  1. Act without expecting anything back
  2. Deliver meals on wheels
  3. Look for glue
  4. Send a message in a bottle
  5. Have an eco-friendly bonfire
  6. Attempt a world record
  7. Walk in the rain
  8. Give away free trees
  9. Do a sponsored parachute/bungee jump
  10. Perform
  11. Cycle 100 miles in a day
  12. Serenade someone
  13. Reflect on something you're grateful for
  14. Cook and eat a nine-course meal
  15. Write a love letter
  16. Create a lair
  17. Notice beauty
  18. Let go of emotional pain
  19. Write down your parents' or grandparents' stories
  20. Look at your day-to-day concerns from the point of view of five years from now
  21. Fan the flames of desire
  22. Contemplate imperfection and impermanence as forms of beauty
  23. Join a gardening scheme where only your labour is required
  24. Laugh in the face of death
  25. Train your memory
  26. Accept the full catastrophe
  27. Write the first sentence of a novel
  28. Cherish solitude (Sister Wendy does)
  29. Get your friends to sponsor you to go to Spain and celebrate La Tomatina
  30. Embarrass your children/teenagers
  31. Work a room
  32. Confront people politely
  33. Learn a trick
  34. Be a representative of your country, in your country
  35. Try lucid dreaming
  36. Come to terms with ageing
  37. Be a bookcrosser
  38. Teach a child something fun
  39. Make your gratitude less perfunctory
  40. Give away your superfluous possessions
  41. Grow huge sunflowers
  42. Smile
  43. Go bell-ringing
  44. Form a debating club
  45. Take your shoes off and walk in the dew on a sunny morning
  46. Dress up
  47. Give up your TV
  48. Be 'Lord' for a day
  49. Write fewer emails and more letters
  50. Don't expect that things will be different in Tenerife
  51. Find out what's happening near you and join in

So, now 34 done, five nevers... Am I happier?


Still 63 more things to do though, so what do I expect?

Are you happy? What makes that so?