Saturday, 12 December 2015

Saying goodbye to your book - the zombies are here



meet the zombie snowman in Dead Bastards

Dead Bastards is now done and dusted and the final galley proofs are now with my wonderful publisher as the zombie novel I never thought I'd ever finish has been published . 

Do I feel like celebrating? No. Instead I feel a sense of loss. Almost like a bereavement, which seems stupid. Right?

I've finished the book and I should be celebrating. Instead, I feel empty inside. 







The characters in my book were only alive because I was writing about them - though on many occasions I felt as though they were talking to me and I was just writing it down.

Talking to other writers, I can see that it's not just me who feels that way and it's easy to understand why. You live with those characters for so long. 

Weeks, months, even years. You give them life and they're no longer characters; they're real people with hopes, dreams and fears like you or I.

Then they're snatched away from you because you've finished the book.

How do you handle that? 

Here are some things that have helped me -

1. Start work on something new. I'd started Throwaways, the second Die Hard for Girls book and the follow up to Hell To Pay (the first Die Hard for Girls and Nancy Kerr and Tommy McIntyre book) before I finished my other books.

2. Update your blog. Share your experiences. It's cathartic.

3. Work on other shorter writing projects. I write reviews for a few sites. 

4. Chill out, catch up on your favourite TV shows, don't work the crazy hours you were before.

Click on the title f you want to know more about Dead Bastards 







Thursday, 17 September 2015

Time the Gotham haters buzzed off

The brilliant Robin Lord Taylor


And here he is in The Walking Dead.
The new season of one of my favourite shows, Gotham was starting (isn't Walking Dead star Robin Lord Taylor great as Penguin) and I couldn't remember what happened in the season finale so I decided to look for a recap.

I came across this recap
Titled a recap, it was more like a hatchet job.

Honesty, you'd think the show had slept with the writer's mamma and he had his dad had caught them at it, because they tore into the show in what was meant to be a recap and not a review. 

The main beef seemed to be that it wasn't real to life.

Of course, the writer forgot one key thing - GOTHAM IS FICTION!



It's not a documentary, or a self-help guide: its fiction. It ain't real!

I had a similar experience when Throwaways first came out, when a prison officer reviewed it and complained that my two intrepid detectives would never have been allowed to interview a prison teacher in the prison. Of course I do my research, but I'm writing fiction. 

I'm currently working on Cannibal City where a serial killer is abducting men and eating their livers. Once its published maybe the person who savaged Gotham will read it and realise its not meant to be a manual aimed at cannibals! 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

My Nightmare with John Hunt Publishing

You might as well burn your books than be in publisher hell.

I was advised by other writers not to write a blog about my experience with John Hunt Publishing.

"It could ruin your future writing career," a writer friend said.

"It might make you sound like you're a nightmare to deal with," said another. 

Of course I thought about it. These guys know what they're talking about. They were concerned about me. But, in the end I decided that I had to write this blog because other authors deserve to know what they might get into if they sign up with this publisher. And how can they know anything if authors don't share information? 

Besides, I know the points I make are valid. I didn’t just write the books and sit back and expect them to sell. I put my heart and soul into them and worked 100-hour weeks to promote them. I felt let down that I was the only one trying to sell my books. At times, I felt like John Hunt Publishing were sabotaging me.

When John Hunt Publishing offered me a contract, I looked around the web for information and found very little. I wish I'd known then what I know now because my relationship with them was a nightmare. 

It started off well enough. Their readers' reports were extremely positive. Comments like "what's not to love here" and "this could sell in the thousands." And, I had a right to have high hopes. I’m an award-winning writing and have been writing for 20-odd years.

Then the reality started to bite and what I found is the most disappointing experience I’ve ever had in 13 years of getting books published -

JHP make a big thing about their marketing and their author database, both of which sound impressive, but they didn't deliver.
- The database had important details missing like email addresses, phone numbers and contact details.

- You had to pay for any real marketing - You had to pay for any marketing that went beyond sending automated press releases that are cobbled together with the words authors put in their proposals. Yes, in my case and many other authors, the press release was generated word for word by the words I put in the proposal. The way the online system worked, you could see the proposals authors inputted and their press releases. There was no effort on the part of the staff. In my case, a basic spell check wasn't even done. This marketing cost 150 for 6 hours of work, which seemed to involve them doing pretty little.

Valuable marketing and promotional opportunities were wasted
For example, over a number of months I worked towards getting my book Hell To Pay featured in a top newspaper with a 250, 000 readership. I knew 2 weeks in advance that my book would be featured and told the marketing department. I stupidly thought because the book was set in Glasgow and the newspaper was based in Glasgow that the publisher would contact the big bookstores in the city, including Waterstone’s and say, "Hey, one of our books will be featured in the country's bestselling newspaper, would you like some on a sale or return basis?"

They did absolutely nothing and wasted the opportunity. Yes, free publicity that money can't buy, that they were notified about two weeks in advance and they did nothing. 

I felt demoralised. That my time had been completely wasted. That my publisher they didn't care about whether my book sold or not. 

I was contacted by several people who saw my book and told me they tried to buy my book in a store and it wasn't for sale.

John Hunt Publishing missed a golden opportunity to sell more books.


Note - I could have contacted bookshops myself, but my royalty on paperbacks was 10 percent and the publisher's was 90 percent. 



There was a catalogue of errors in the book listing.
They wrongly spelt my surname on all the book sites and I had to get it changed myself. That was made more difficult because it was the publisher who were meant to make changes, not the author.

They didn't even check sites had my books and others correctly categorised.
For instance, Throwaways, my novella about murdered Glasgow sex workers was listed as erotic fiction and also as true life, which was news to my family.

There was a pattern of disrespect, pithy and aggressive behaviour from staff.
They have a closed online forum for authors and after repeatedly being ignored about certain issues, I started to post on the Facebook page - a few posts, written in a friendly way - that's when without a word I was kicked off FB and the JHP forum with no explanation after one of the head honchos at the publisher accused me of "aggressive and bullying behaviour." I asked others on the page if they thought that had been the case and nobody did.


Seven authors sent me a message saying that their experience of JHP had been very poor and they wanted their rights back. Eventually, I was given ALL my rights back, but only because I suspect they wanted rid of me. 

When I politely asked why my books imprint didn't appear on their fiction blog alongside a few others, I was told my imprint was MBS even although over half the books were fiction and my books were CRIME FICTION.
When I asked why certain marketing tasks weren't done, I'd get answers that were more "go away" than "we want to sell books."


Contracts offered were often contributory. 
Before they signed me up, they made it sound like they only asked for contributions when the book in question was niche, but once I was allowed onto the forum I discovered there was a very high amount of authors who'd paid huge sums, despite what the publisher claimed. And those books were far from niche. One was even entered for a fiction award by the publisher. 

Many authors queried their contracts on the online forum and those contracts seemed to average 2-3 thousand pounds. Note - that was just for editing. They also paid for marketing. One author I know spent over £4, 000 in total.
To me, that's a publisher taking advantage of an author's dream at a time when very none of the big publishers accept contributions unless you have an agent.

They charged for your book to be converted into an eBook.
No, I'm not kidding. Both my novellas cost around £60. It was deducted from royalties.
NO LEGITIMATE PUBLISHER SHOULD CHARGE TO CONVERT YOUR BOOK.

Later on, they came up with the bright idea of charging £100 to put your book into print. Yeah, really. After complaints they decided not to go ahead.

In conclusion -
- I believe John Hunt Publishing take advantage of the lines being blurred between vanity presses and self publishing. They charge for many authors’ services like editing and marketing.

- They should tell you BEFORE you submit the initial query that they may charge you for services that every other traditional publisher does gratis. Things like editing, proof reading and marketing that goes beyond sending automated press releases that are cobbled together with the words authors put in their proposals. Yes, in my case and many other authors, the press release was generated word for word by the words I put in the proposal. The way the online system worked, you could see the proposals authors inputted and their press releases. There was no effort on the part of the staff. In my case, a basic spell check wasn't even done.

- Many awards are not open to people who paid towards the cost of being published, which many authors did. Because the lines between self-publishing and vanity publishing are so blurred, authors who paid towards the cost of their books being published often thought that they would still be considered to be traditionally published and could enter these awards. 

Truth was, they were ineligible.





What have I learned?
1. If a publisher has contracts where you contribute financially (on any level) avoid them like the plague. They're a vanity publisher.

2. If a publisher talks about their wonderful marketing, have a look at what they actually do. Do they have a strong social media presence? Do they have a list of blogs who review their books? Do they have readers groups - something JHP promised on their home page, but never produced?

3. If they charge fees for eBook conversion, they're a vanity publisher. 
I was charged for both my books. A genuine publisher shouldn't charge you a penny. A vanity publisher will.

4. If a publisher charges you a penny for marketing/promotion, avoid them - JHP did very basic marketing. So basic in fact, that press releases were simply lifted from authors and in my case, not even given a basic spell check. The very same publicists who did the promo for books wanted £150 each time to do 6 hours of publicity. That included things that most publishers did as a matter of course. A genuine publisher shouldn't charge you a penny. A vanity publisher will. Note - before I signed my contracts I didn't know they charged like this.

In conclusion, I would advise anyone to self-publish rather than sign up with John Hunt Publishing. Before you know it, like many of their authors, you could end up with a huge dent in your bank balance as you pay for editing and marketing and promotion. All things a traditional publisher should be providing for free.

Thankfully, although they published Hell to Pay and Throwaways, I didn't give this bunch a penny and when I self-published the books, I sold 6 times more books than they ever did.

Note - this is my experience with John Hunt Publishing. Other authors may have had a more positive experience.



TMJ and the problem with Baclofen - it can cause leg pain




I suffer from TMJ which is defined as "temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called TMJ, are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement."

TMJ
The cause of my jaw problem is stress. I clench my teeth when I sleep. The more stressed I am, the worse it gets. My jaw clicks, one jaw joint moves in and out, I wake up with headaches and neck pain and the pain can be excruciating.

TMJ saps me of energy and I have to take pain relief every day. A few times my jaw has locked and the condition means I have to stick to a soft diet. No baguettes or chews. 

BACLOFEN
One of the many medications I've been put on was Baclofen. It's a drug used to treat many conditions such as strokes and multiple sclerosis. What it does is stops the spasms and involuntary movements associated with these conditions. The reason it's prescribed for jaw pain is it theoretically stops you clenching your jaw when you sleep. 

At first, the Baclofen worked fine. My jaw pain eased, although I still had to take few painkillers a day. I was allowed to take up to 6 Baclofen a day.




I started to notice that when I got up in the morning my right leg was painful. It would also cramp up. I'd wake up screaming. I was terrified that I had arthritis even although I'm only 42 and have an almost dairy free diet (dairy has been linked to arthritis and you're meant to restrict dairy in your diet if you have the condition). 

I didn't immediately attribute this leg pain to the Baclofen until one morning I woke up and I couldn't move my right leg. I managed to roll myself out of bed and spent fifteen minutes rubbing my leg trying to get the circulation back into it. I'd taken 4 Baclofen that day because my jaw was so painful.

NO BACLOFEN, NO LEG PAIN
I haven't taken any Baclofen since and I'm now on new medication and guess what, I've had no leg pain since. When I mentioned this to my doctor, she told me that because Baclofen stops spasms it can stop your limbs moving whilst you sleep. Hence the leg pain I experienced.


Monolith by horror giant Shaun Hutson is a scary read



Was this book scary? Well, put it this way, I was reading it at 4am and I became convinced there was a dark entity like the one in the book in my house.


I was preparing to defend myself when I discovered it was my partner up for a glass of water.


And that folks is Shaun Hutson. He writes horror that gets under your skin and raises the hair on the back of your neck and you don't realise until 4 in the morning when you think one of the monsters in his books is out to get you.


Monolith is available on Amazon and published by Caffeine Nights. 




Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Don't Let the Bullies Win - How to Get your confidence back is out now


Don’t Let the Bullies Win: How to get your confidence, back is aimed at a much neglected group, the adult survivors of bullying, whether that bullying took place at school, in the workplace or in the confines of a relationship.

This book was written by a bully survivor and is part misery memoir/self-help and will aim to do exactly what the title suggests.

The emphasis is firmly on dealing with the aftermath of bullying, whether it’s still going on or happened years ago, and making the bullied person feel more confident using a mixture of chatty advice, humour and fun exercises.

Inside this book there are tips and strategies on:
•           How to stop blaming yourself for what happened
•           How to stop bullying and bullying behaviour from ruining your life and your relationships
•           Learning to like yourself 
•           Standing up for yourself, including how to say no to people
•           Learning to let go of what happened to you
•           Helping yourself to feel better without relying on others
•           Facing up to the bully

Also includes tips on dealing with difficult people.

Note - to keep the cost down so the book can help as many people as possible, Don't Let the Bullies Win is currently only available in eBook form. 



Monday, 31 August 2015

Secrets to getting published - from someone who knows



You can have a love in with your book or send the damn thing out.

Okay, you've written the best book you can. What next?

You could shove it in a drawer, gathering dust, until you’re dead and a relative finds it, gets engrossed in the wonderful words you've created and says, "Wow, great Aunt Matilda or Grandpa Harry could really write."


Or, you could actually send it to a publisher or agent. What have you got to lose - your dignity, self-respect and confidence? But, hey you won't get published without putting your work out there.


So, you will feel defeated if you get a flurry of rejection letters, but what is defeat? It's never trying and never putting yourself in a position to fail.


Repeat after me - Defeat is never trying and never putting yourself in a position to fail.

When it comes to sending out your work, up your odds of success by -


Sticking to the word count. They've asked for the first 2 chapters or first 5, 000 words, don't send 70, 000 words.

Sending it to the right publisher. If a publisher is looking for quality, literary fiction, don't send them erotic fiction or horror. They don't want it.

Yet you'd be amazed how many writers waste their time and the publishers by sending completely unsuitable manuscripts either because 1. They haven't done their research, or, 2. They think their writing is so blindingly brilliant that the publisher won't care that the book's a fictionalised account of a dog's life when the publisher's looking for historical fiction.

Making sure your work is laid out properly. Check out the publisher's guidelines. If it says to use Times or Arial point 12, then do that. Make it double spaced, typed on one side of the paper only with wide margins in case its printed out.



Make sure your work is printed out legibly so it can be easily read. No fading print, toilet roll thin paper or words written in using felt tip pen, because the ink's starting to fade.

Don't get fancy or wacky. No coloured paper, cut into fancy shapes or fancy paper clips. No weird gifts for publishers, like cakes or a chapter written on a piece of toast using jam (the submission was a crime novel).

Come up with one sentence that sums up what your book's about. For How KirstyGets Her Kicks, I had - A one-legged Glasgow barmaid goes on the run with a gangster's cash and gun after she kills one of his henchmen. One publisher said it was the best one line pitch they'd ever read.


Footnote - Sometimes, no matter how good your work is or how well presented, you will still get a "no" or no reply at all. This could be for a number of reasons; none of which you can do anything about.

Stick in there. The difference between a published writer and an unpublished one, is the former never gave up. I know that can be you:)


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Everybody Say EE - my Nightmare with my EE mobile phone



Finally, after a nightmare three years with Orange after they became EE. Or, was it longer?

When they were Orange, the mobile phone company's service was good, then EE came along. Uh, uh. Cue the horror music.

1. Topping up became almost impossible. Couldn't do it by text. It wouldn't recognise the credit card I'd been topping my phone up with for two years.

2. Getting a balance became impossible. "Sorry, we can't tell you your balance at the moment" became the stock response.

3. Their website where you can top up and check your balance was ALWAYS down. It never worked properly in 2 whole years.

4. I was on the Dolphin plan. Regularly top up by ten pounds and you're meant to get free texts. On too many occasions to count, I didn't get my free texts. Sometimes they were days late.

5. My boyfriend's phone (bought under my name) was stolen. I reported it to EE and they cancelled it. They were meant to transfer the remaining balance to his new phone. They didn't. He had £7.50 left. Not tonnes of money, but £7.50 is better in his pocket than EE's.

Think about how much cash EE must have in their bank account from the phones of customers whose phones have been lost or stolen. Say 10, 000 customers lose/have their phones stolen with a balance of £7.50. That's £75k they've got of OUR MONEY!



6. I phoned to top up my boyfriend's PAYG phone. I got the Indian call centre, explained his phone had been stolen and he had a new phone from EE and I wanted to top that up. THEY TOPPED UP THE WRONG PHONE!

I got my own Nokia 5800 PAYG phone unlocked from their network, but only after a big song and dance.

After a week, they told me I didn't have enough credit in my phone to cover the unlocking fee when I did. TWICE. I topped up before I put in my order. So, two weeks were wasted because of EE's mistake.

I contacted them on Twitter and through the form on their website. Twitter EE were hopeless. I had to wait two weeks to finally get a reply.



I had to phone customer service. Oh no! I got their overseas call centre (India, I think). After several times of being cut off by them or waiting 30 minutes and losing the will to live, I finally got through.

The person didn't know what unlocking meant. When I explained, he couldn't believe I would want to leave their "fine network." Finally, after lots of waiting, he said he'd email me the unlock code.

The code didn't arrive.

They sent me the wrong code. They missed out vital instructions.

Everybody say EE! 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Editing for authors - Have you bawled at the muddle with your puddle?






Going through your work, bit by bit can be a long and laborious process, but you have to get it right. 

Who wants to press that SEND button and then discover after that you've used there instead of their, or changed character names halfway through a chapter? 

Here's some examples from my latest book, the 2nd Detective in a Coma book, Cannibal City. Read them and weep with laughter fellow writers and readers -

His fist bawled into a fist.


Oops, sounds like his fist was crying.



It's not a puddle it's a muddle.

He landed his size 12 loafers in a muddle.


It was me that got in a muddle because I meant puddle. 


He shoved tape over her mouth and she could hardly breathe and she screamed.


That takes some doing screaming when you're gagged. Of course, she could scream under the gag.


I've also had people coming out of doors they never went in. My personal favourite was a dead man coming back to life and, no it wasn't my zombie novel The Restless Dead. This was another crime novel:) 


I'd love to hear what mistakes you've spotted in your work. Have you bawled at the muddle with your puddle? 


Please leave a comment so we can chortle away together. 



Saturday, 11 July 2015

At £10.52 is this the most expensive bottle of mineral water ever?



Internet Shopping's great, isn't it? The convenience. Being able to browse in your own home, at your own leisure.

It is great, until things go wrong and the retailer you're dealing with are Amazon.

I ordered 24x 50cl of Vittel mineral water from Amazon.co.UK
The price was £10.52.

Today, I received "my order." A box with ONE tiny 50cl bottle. Yep, one, not the 24 I ordered that I was meant to be receiving, but one single, solitary, lonely bottle.

I contacted Amazon on live chat. I expected to get a profuse apology. Instead, I was told "oh, that item is no longer available," although I'd ordered it. There was no offer of a refund.

Then I was told "oh, you only ordered one bottle," probably because the customer service woman was too lazy to check my full order showing a quantity of one in this case meant 24 bottles and not one.

How I felt when Amazon messed up my order

I tried to leave a review. It was polite and factual. Amazon rejected it. Maybe because it pointed out that I'd been charged £10.52 for one tiny bottle of water.

Finally, I did get my refund, but that's not the point. Amazon made the mistake, yet I'm the one who had to waste some of my Saturday trying to fix it (most of that time I spent getting more and more stressed out).

So, that's my story of the most expensive bottle of water on Amazon.

Here's a screen grab of the chat with the ever helpful Amazon


I'd love to hear you're messed around by Amazon stories.
Come on, share your misery.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Monday, 29 June 2015

Get Hell to Pay (Crime Files Book 1) by Jenny Thomson FREE for a limited time



Starting on the 29th of June and lasting 5 days, Hell to Pay is FREE to download on Amazon. 
 Cometh the hour


Cometh the woman. 



Cometh the revenge




Glasgow's about to get meaner with Nancy hell-bent on revenge. 


You won't believe what she does.




It’s the first book in a 3 book series called the Crime Files. Books 2 and 3, Throwaways and Don’t Come For Me, are already published.

Click HERE to take you to your country's Amazon. 

Thanks for reading my post! And if you do download the book, I would be really delighted if you'd leave a review even if its to say you thought the book sucked:) 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Psychological thriller Don't Come For Me by Jenny Thomson is out now





You're in the bathroom

You hear a noise

You come out and your boyfriend is gone

There's a pool of blood on the floor and a knife



The police think you've killed him

You need to prove your innocence


But how?

When you're not sure you didn't kill him?



Don't Come For Me by Jenny Thomson is out now on Kindle and paperback. 
You can read more here

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Welcome to the Crime Files - a new 3 book series by Jenny Thomson




(Crime Files Book series)
by Jenny Thomson
Genre: #MysteryThriller
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Introducing the Crime Files

The Crime Files features tough rape survivor Nancy Kerr and her smoking hot ex-Special Forces boyfriend Tommy McIntyre. Together they investigate cases that nobody will touch – often for no payment – putting themselves in danger.

Jenny Thomson came up with the idea for the Crime Files because she was angry reading about women who were the victims of awful crimes who never get justice. The intrepid duo of Nancy and Tommy try and make sure that doesn’t happen.



Synopsis – Hell To Pay (Crime Files Book 1)

Nancy Kerr refuses to be a victim—even when she walks in on her parents’ killers and is raped and left for dead…

Fourteen months later, Nancy wakes up in a psychiatric hospital with no knowledge of how she got there.

Slowly, her memory starts to return.

Released from the institution, she has just one thing on her mind—two men brought hell to her family home.

Now they’re in for some hell of their own…



   Oneclick   



Synopsis – Throwaways (Crime Files Book 2)

Huddled in a doorway, in a blonde wig, and my best Pretty Woman outfit, I'm already soaked to the skin. As downward spirals go, this was bad.

But I wasn’t here because I was reduced to turning tricks for a living. I was here to catch a killer…

Throwaways. That's the word they're using for the four Glasgow sex workers who've gone missing. But two people do care.

When Suzy Henderson is found dead in a landfill site, her eyes pecked out by crows, they find the finger of another missing woman wedged in her throat.

Nancy Kerr and Tommy McIntyre are on the case and they won’t stop until they find the missing women. But, how can they trust anyone when they can’t even trust each other?


   Oneclick   




Synopsis – Don’t Come for Me (Crime Files Book 3)

My name is Nancy Kerr and I'm not a murderer. Since my parents were murdered I've come close a few times, but I've never done the deed.

I did tattoo the world RAPIST across the stomach of one of my parents' killers. But to me that was justified, righteous revenge because when I walked in on those monsters who killed my parents, they raped me and left me bleeding to death on the kitchen floor of my childhood home. What happened caused me to have a breakdown and I ended up in a psychiatric hospital where I was in the land of the zombies for fourteen months. I have no memory of most of what happened there.

But, hey, that's another story.

Accused of my boyfriend Tommy's murder, I need to prove my innocence. It won't be easy. Confronted by the same scene as the police, I would think I was guilty too. And, Tommy's still missing, presumed dead; murdered by me.
The clock's ticking…





   Oneclick   


✢✢✢About the Author✢✢✢

Jenny Thomson is an award-winning crime writer who has been scribbling away all her life. She also writes non-fiction as Jennifer Thomson.

Inspired by her love of zombies and The Walking Dead, she wrote The Restless Dead.

She kills people for a living in the Crime File series of books for Limitless Publishing.
To find out more details about her and the Crime Files, check out her publisher's site at http://www.limitlesspublishing.net/authors/jenny-thomson/

Her novella, How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks, about a one legged Glasgow barmaid who goes on the run with a gun and a safe load of gangster's cash after killing one of his henchmen, will be published by the critically acclaimed Snubnose Press.





How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks heads over to Shotgun Honey

Kirsty's loosely based on Rose McGowan's character Cherry Darling I'm delighted to announce that I've just signed a ...