Tuesday, 28 December 2010

smashwords & ebooks

Hi all,
In my last post I mentioned that I had just published a free ebook with a company called smashwords.com. Well, I thought it would be worth telling those of you who haven't come across smashwords before a little more about them because the news is all good.

After I'd written and published a print copy of my fishing book: Learn from the Tips & Laugh at the Tales, I thought it would be a good idea to publish it in ebook format. My first thoughts led me to amazon, and I published it quite easily through their Kindle platform. I was happy with the results and soon started selling ebooks. Anyway, all was well with the world, I had my book available in print from most big retailers and in an electronic version with amazon, but then I read an article in Writing Magazine about publishing ebooks.

The article suggested several routes that authors could take when looking to publish an ebook and smashwords was one of the companies mentioned. To cut a long story short, I decided to publish my book with them. They have a brilliant website, with free downloads to help authors achieve their goals and they only take a small commission from every book sold.

Publishing with smashwords makes your book available in every ebook format worth talking about. These include Epub, which is the open industry format and used by a lot of ereaders including Stanza.
Other formats include:
PDF = Highly formatted and useful for home printing.
RTF = A format that can be read on most word processors.
LRF = The format used by the Sony Reader.
PDB = A format used by many palm reading devices.

It is by making so many formats available that smashwords is able to distribute books through major retails like: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel.

It may be of interest to those who are still not sure about the popularity of ebooks when I tell you this. Stanza, which is an ereading apps for iPhones and ipads, has been downloaded more than 2.5 million times.

So if you are an author, and have not yet published your book in an electronic format, I suggest you check out smashwords because you will have nothing to lose. If you are just a reader and haven't yet bought an ereader, it will still be worth having a look at smashwords because they have lots of books available that can be read on your computer. Even better news, many books are free including one of mine which can be seen in the photo on the right. Click here to go to smashwords Here is a link to my free book on smashwords. If you would like to find out more about my books, writing and proofreading services,
Click here

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Barbel + Free Book

Hi all,
What's going on with the weather? Every time I dig my drive out, it snows again and ruins all my hard work. I feel really sorry for those with heating problems, there is nothing worse than being cold. Still that's enough gloom here's is a picture to warm any angler's heart.

Fish are probably the last thing on your mind, but it's time to reveal which fish takes up the number five slot in my top ten fish. Actually, you've probably guessed from the title of this piece, yes you're right, it's the barbel.

The barbel is ranked so high because of it's fighting qualities. I know many of you have encountered barbel in still waters, but it's in rivers that barbel will give you the fight of your life.

They are designed to cope with fast flowing water and they know how to use the current to best effect as soon as they are hooked. The river Severn is well stocked with barbel and it was on this river at Coalport in Shropshire that I had my first encounter with this fish. It was in the early seventies; I'd purchased my first car (a MK1 Cortina 1500 Super)and I thought a fishing trip to the Severn would give it a nice run out.

Anyway, I told my father what I'd read in the angling press about this fish called a barbel, and he agreed to accompany on my trip from Stafford. He thought I'd gone mad when I showed him the two tins of luncheon meat I intended to use for bait. I did offer him some, but he gave a hearty laugh and said, he'd stick with his worms.

I won't bore you with the details, but I remember casting out my ledger and a cube of luncheon meat and setting the rod up at 45 degrees to the river. By doing this I expected I'd see a bit of tremble on the end if I managed to get a bite. Well I needn't have worried about missing a bite because when my first barbel took the luncheon meat I throught it was going to snap my rod in half. I was using 5lb breaking strain line and it took me about ten minutes to get the fish under control. My dad stood by and watched the fight and agreed that the bend in my rod could indicate that I'd hooked a fish of record breaking proportions

I guess you can imagine the look of bewilderment on our faces when the fish broke the surface and we realised it wouldn't weigh much more than a pound. It wasn't a record breaker, but it had been exciting and I went on to catch a lot more of the same. And my dad, well after I'd caught the first five, he couldn't stand it any longer. He chucked his worms in a bush and begged me for a bit of meat.

I've haven't been down the Severn for a long while, because I don't think it is as good as it was in the seventies, but I'm still catching a few barbel in still waters like Baden Hall, near Stafford. The picture on the right shows me slipping the net under another fish. They don't fight as well as those on the severn, but they are as welcome as any other fish and more so than most.

Just to finish, I thought I'd tell you about my free e-book, My Coarse Fishing A to Z, which is available from smashwords.com Click here to go to smashwords website
Or you can also find details on my website Click here where you will find lots of other information and even a free to enter competition

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Kailzie and Traquair

Hi all,
If you remember from my last post about Scotland, we'd just arrived for a week's holiday in the border town of Peebles. Although our accommodation was in a static caravan right next to a busy main road it wouldn't bother is too much because we'd be spending the week taking in the sights that the region had to offer.

On our first day we decided we'd stay close to base and allow the weariness that had come from the previous day's journey to subside. With that in mind we started our day in Peebles and after parking by the river Tweed we took a look around the town. We found it to be a pleasant place, but being a Sunday a lot of shops were shut so we thought we'd come back later in the week, (sadly that didn't happen because we just ran out of time.

After our stroll around Peebles, we took a scenic back road along the river Tweed to Kailzie gardens. If you've been following my posts about Scotland you will know that we like to visit gardens and this holiday in Peebles wouldn't be an exception.

Kailzie Gardens is set is some of the nicest countryside you will find anywhere in the British Isles, and the garden itself was a delight. It wasn't big like Castle Kennedy and it wasn't full of exotic plants like Logan Botanical Gardens, but it was very quiet and had a charm of its own. When we were there we had the place to ourselves which is always nice in a garden, having kids running about playing hide and seek in the bushes sort of ruins the ambience for me. However, that was in 2001 and I believe things have changed and there is now a children's corner and other activities that will bring in more people. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted and the new set up will probably suit a lot of people not everybody can find pleasure in peace and quiet.

After taking in the delights of Kailzie Gardens we travelled a little further down the same road, following the twist and turns of the Tweed, until we came to Traquair House. We knew we'd arrived when we saw the famous Bear Gates which were firmly and unsurprisingly shut. History tells us that Traquair supported the Jacobites cause and was visited by Bonnie Prince Charles who was just popping down to London to reclaim the throne. So impressed by his visit was the then fifth Earl of Traquair, that he proclaimed that the Bear Gates would not be opened again until a Stuart was back on the throne.

So with the front gates firmly still shut, we followed the rest of the visitors and went in through the tradesman's entrance. Traquair House has grown over the years and is now a magnificent building with extensive grounds. When walking around the property one really gets a feel for Scotland and what it must have been like living there all those years ago. It is hard to describe, but the place had an authentic atmosphere especially when compared with some of the homogonised houses that are owned by the National Trust in England.

I guess it has come a long way since it was originally build in 1107 to serve as a hunting lodge for the upper classes of Scottish society. At that time the place would have been surround by thousands of acres of the Ettrick forrest and full of wolves, deer, boar and wild cats.

Beside visiting the house and walking around the grounds, we also took in a visit to its own brewery, which is pretty unique for a stately home. The last thing we did before leaving Traquair was to take a look at the craft shop and while we were in there Terry Anne got talking to one of the crafts people. The upshot was that he told her that if she liked to see beautiful things that a visit to Rosslyn Chapel should be a must. Now this was before the Da vinci code, and we'd never heard of the place, but we would keep it mind for a visit later in the week if we got a chance.

Anyway, having taken a walk around Peebles, strolled through Kailzie gardens and crawled around Traquair House, we reckoned we'd done enough for our first day in the Borders and went back to our noisy caravan for a rest.

This seems like a good time to leave this post, but if you want any more information about me, my books or my writing services, please click here.

Friday, 10 December 2010

E-books and Distribution

Hi all,
On Wednesday I had some good news on the writing front. If you've been following my blog you will know that my Fishing book has been available from Amazon.co.uk, in their Kindle version for quite a while. However, there are other e-book platforms to be exploited, so I decided to find out more.

Having done some research I found a company called Smashwords.com, that seemed to offer everything I wanted. When I tell you that they will distribute my book to all the major e-book retailers and I get to keep 80% of the revenue from each book sold, you'll understand why that's a cracking deal for any author.

Smashwords, will distribute your book to: Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple ipad, ibookstore, Borders, and the Diesel ebook store, plus all major smart phone platforms via app providers, such as Stanza, Aldiko, Kobo, and Word Player. They also distribute to Amazon for sale in their Kindle store, but I opted out of that distribution channel because I already have an agreement in place with Amazon.

Now, before you all nip over to Smashwords to publish your latest blockbuster, there is something important that you need to know. The standards at Smashwords are very high; books have to be formatted to a certain standard before they are accepted and your book will also need to have an acceptable cover image. Well in my mind there's nothing wrong with that, In fact I actually think it's a great idea because I welcome high standards. After all, if my book is going to be sold through the biggest book retailers in the world, it needs to be damn good and indistinguishable from the books of major publishers.

Right, having told you that the standards are high, don't get all down-hearted because help is at hand. Log onto Smashwords.com, (Click here to visit the Smashwords site) and you will find they have a free downloadable book that will take you through the formatting process, step by jolly step. It's a lengthy book, but following it religiously is the only way to get your book into the premium catalogue that gives you access to the full distribution service.

The process is easy to follow. If you've got a print version of your book just do a "save as" and create a separate copy which will be your e-book. The next thing to do is follow the free guide and create your e-book. The next stage is to join Smashwords and upload your book. Once you have done this, you will be faced with a spinning wheel that says your book is being processed. Don't sit there looking at the wheel waiting for something to happen because it could take a couple of days. The best thing to do is get on with writing your next book and check progress every now and again.

What happens after you've uploaded your book is that it goes into something called the meatgrinder. This apparently is a piece of software that does a rough check on your book, to make sure it is at least something like acceptable. If it gets past the meatgrinder, it then goes into another approvals process that is even tighter. Don't be surprised, if on your first attempt you fail at this stage because that is what happened to me. My sin was that I'd got a paragraph return in mid-sentence and that is not allowed. Anyway I fixed my mistake and uploaded the book again.

And that brings us neatly back to the good news I spoke about at the beginning of this post. On Wednesday, I went onto the Smashwords site and found that my book had been approved for the premium catalogue. Then later in the day, I received an e-mail to say that I'd just sold my first copy, which was fantastic news and hopefully just the first of many. Click here to see my Smashwords page

Having become involved in the world of e-books, I am now considering whether it's worth while bothering with creating a print version at all, especially when you look at the costs involved.

In my next writing post I will give you my thoughts on print versions and information about the book I'm working on which I'll be giving away absolutely free? If you would like more information about me or my books and even a free to enter competion Click here

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Sorry it's been a while, but it's time for me to keep my promise and reveal the species of fish that can claim the number six spot in my top ten coarse fish. I said it was a fish with plenty of attitude, so what else could it possibly be other than the perch. (the Photo is of Copmere near Stafford; it looks nice, but the fishing is hard)
Old stripey, otherwise known as the perch, has a lot going for it. Firstly, when a perch bites, it bites, it doesn't fuss about with your maggot like an old lady, the perch puts it straight in its mouth. This probably accounts for why the perch was the first fish most anglers ever caught, and therefore the very fish that set them onto a lifetime of pleasure.

The second great attribute of the perch, is that pound for pound, it can put up a decent fight, especially when compared with cissies like bream and the pike.

Perch have also been responsible for many match wins especially on the canal because they often turn up as a bonus fish. Most anglers could have caught a couple of pounds of gudgeon, but the one with the bonus perch was the jammy bugger who went off homw with a pocket full of pools money.

However, having sung its praises, the perch does have a couple of weak points and that's why it occupies the number six spot.Firstly, it is so voracious and has such a big mouth that it often swallows the hook. Now I'm a gentle soul and hate to think I was causing fish any pain, (If I did I'd give up fishing) so a fish that swallows the hook is not a good thing for me. Thankfully I'm so damned good with the disgorger(perhaps I should've been a brain surgeon)I can usually remove the hook without the perch even twitchin a fin.

Secondly, they are a bit spiky. The first thing you learn when you catch your first perch is to make sure you fold down its dorsal fin as you grab a hold of it. However, the perch has more than one spike that it uses to inflict pain on the nasty anglers. Just behind the gills it has another couple of spikes that have managed to get me on several occasions. I know they are there and I don't know if I'm just being clumsy or I'm worried too much about the dorsal fin getting me, but I've been done by the spikes on a perch's gills several times. If you've suffered the same fate, you'll know what I'm talking about.

In my second book about angling, (click here to see details of the first, pictured on the left) which is almost finished, you can read more about the perch, and how my father ended smacking a innocent cow in the face with one. In my next fishing blog I'll reveal my number 5, a fish with whiskers. By the way if you've got an electronic book reader my fishing book is avaiable on Kindle and several other formats that can be found at smashwords at an almost give away price of £2.99. Click here to go to smashwords