Pirates Ahoy! A Writer’s Frustration

Being a writer isn’t all lattes in coffee shops and glowing bursts of inspiration. There’s quite a bit of hard work involved too, as many of you know. Writing a novel and then getting it out into the world is a huge effort, especially for independent authors like myself. I work with a professional editor and cover designer, have a critique partner and several beta readers, not to mention the endless rewrites, edits and formatting to get it ready for the reading public. Basically, it’s a big job.

But I love to write and share my stories, which is why I do it. However, one of the big downsides, especially with the rise of e-books, is piracy on the web. I know my books are out there as free downloads or, even more irritatingly, to purchase, on various pirate sites. I tried Blasty for a while, but now just do the occasional search and destroy method, following tips from fellow authors or online trails. I’m resigned to the fact I’ll never get all of them, but finding and deleting a title every once in a while makes me feel as though I’m doing something at least.

I was recently alerted to Kiss Library (google them, I’m not going to do them the favour of sharing their link) and, when I went to their site, I found both Oak and Mist, the first book in my Ambeth series, and A Thousand Rooms, my standalone novel, available to purchase. Oak and Mist is exclusive to Amazon – I can’t even sell it from my own website – so it was galling to see both my books available for sale on some pirate site, with none of the proceeds coming my way.

Kiss Library purports to be fully compliant with copyright laws, and has a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Form) link at the bottom of their site, which takes you to a simple form. You fill in a few details, add the link to your (pirated) books – there’s even a space to leave them a message if you so desire. It all seems very polite and above board. So I filled in the form, adding a few choice comments about them making money from my work, and pressed submit.

Within a few minutes of submitting the form, I received an email from them apologising and saying they were ‘very sorry about this situation – we’ve had an influx of copyright complaints recently which we haven’t seen before. Apparently someone has found a way to work around our copyright protection mechanism.’ A quick search of review forums found that this is a standard email they’ve been sending for at least a year, so I very much doubt this influx is ‘recent.’ They also said they would contact the parties involved and make sure I received any payments outstanding. Sure…

Several of the reviewers on the forums mentioned they’ve had their credit card/bank details stolen as well, so I don’t think I’ll be giving Kiss Library any further information, even if they do offer payment. And, in the meantime, if you’re an author, check the site to make sure your books aren’t on there. And if you’re a reader… buy your books from a reputable retailer. We authors really appreciate it!


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Finding My Way Back #amwriting

I have a new desk.

For writers, this can be kind of a big deal.

I’m quite pleased with it. It’s a bit smaller than my other desk, which makes my tiny study feel bigger. There’s still room for my bits and pieces; trinket boxes, a set of vintage tins I use for pens, some interesting stones and feathers I’ve collected. However, I’ve had to clear out a load of papers, which is not a bad thing. I’ve found some treasure, like a list my daughter wrote a couple of years ago about her ‘Favourite times’. My favourite entry is ‘Being kept warm.’ Such a simple thing, yet to my small girl it was important enough to put on her list, and a reminder to me not to take such privilege for granted.

I also found a list of agents and publishers to whom I submitted Oak and Mist, when it was just a fledgling manuscript. It was in no way ready to be sent out, but I didn’t realise at the time, so I shoved it from its nest out into the big world. It came back to me thoroughly rejected, of course, although I did get a couple of requests for the full manuscript. It was a learning experience, if nothing else, and I suppose part of the process of being a writer.

There’s a lot to go through, and I’m still not quite finished. But I did discover one other thing, which I was very pleased to find. I found my way back. Back to writing again, to writing for my own pleasure as well as for others. This past year has been good for me – it’s challenged me and taken me out of my comfort zone. However, it’s come to an end and I’m happy to be back in my office once more.

In Stephen King’s On Writing (which I think is one of the best writing craft books I’ve read), he talks about returning to writing after his accident, and how he felt rusty at first, that his ‘tricks’ had deserted him. But he persevered, and soon found his way back to the page. In my own far less illustrious way, I feel the same. A little bit rusty, my writing mojo not quite back yet. But today, as I set up my desk, I felt the beginning. As though I were back on the path again.

And that was a great thing to find.


Oak and Mist, the first book in The Ambeth Chronicles, is on sale for 99c/99p until January 31st! Get your copy here

And don’t forget to get your Bloggers Bash tickets – follow this link to join the fun 🙂

Oak And Mist – On Sale!

**SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE**

In case you missed it in yesterday’s post

To celebrate the release of Under Stone, the fourth book in my Ambeth series, Oak and Mist, the first book in the series, is currently on sale until the end of January, for the rather cheeky price of 99p/99c in the Kindle store!

‘The end of everything? Great. No pressure then.’

Pushed between two trees at her local park, Alma finds herself in another world. Ambeth. Where a Palace gleams in green gardens by the sea, and the Balance of the worlds is held.

However, all is not as perfect as it seems. Three items are lost. A Sword, A Cup and a Crown. Light and Dark are embroiled in an ancient battle for control.

And both sides have been waiting for Alma to arrive…

So, if you’ve ever fancied taking a journey to Ambeth, now’s the time to start. Get your discounted e-book copy of Oak and Mist here.

But only till the end of January!


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

 

New Year, New Book! Launch Day for Under Stone

What better way to start the new year than with a brand new book? Under Stone, the fourth instalment of my Ambeth Chronicles, is now live on Amazon! Get your copy here.

‘Help will come to you, Alma, you will not be alone.’

Accepting her new powers hasn’t been easy for Alma. Nor has finding out the truth about her father. And she’s still not sure about the prophecy, or about going back to Ambeth. But the Dark are gathering, Denoris on her trail. Deryck hasn’t forgotten about her either… Events past and present converge on a small Welsh town as Alma, and the Dark, choose their path. Who will reach the Cup first?

I’m thrilled to be starting the year with a new title and, for those of you who are new to Ambeth, Oak and Mist, the first book in the series, is 99p/99c to download in the Kindle store, but only until the end of January.

So what are you waiting for? New year, new series – take a journey to Ambeth.

 

A Coventry Win, And A Guardian Article – Happy Weekend!

If you’ve read my Author Bio, or my About page, you’ll know that I grew up in Coventry, England. My family have deep ties to the City and most of them still live there, so I visit often. When I returned to the UK in 2012, I spent my first six months back in the country living there again, only moving away due to my husband’s work. It’s a place that holds a lot of happy memories for me.

Coventry is also the real-world setting for my Ambeth books. Alma lives on my old street, and the Gate of Oak is in the Memorial Park, a place that has always held magic for me. It is telling that, when I sat down to write my first book, Coventry was the inspiration and starting point. It is a city I still hold close to my heart.

So, when Coventry was named 2021 UK City of Culture this past week, I was thrilled! I tweeted out my congratulations, adding that I thought it a well-deserved win. Less than an hour later, through the strange workings of Twitter, The Guardian newspaper had contacted me. Would I like to write a piece about the city and why I love it, they asked. Would I? I jumped at the chance, even though they needed it done that afternoon and I was at work – there was no way I was missing this opportunity.

I was given 700 words and a short brief – truly, I could have written double that amount – and feel I only touched on the many layers of history and culture the city holds. The article was approved, and is now live on the Guardian site, less than 24 hours after my original tweet. (If you’d like to read it, click here)

And that’s it! A wonderful, and quite unexpected, start to my weekend 🙂 Wishing you all a great weekend wherever you are and, #happywriting.

xx

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Seventeen – Early Morning

img_4673Earlier this week I shared this image on my Instagram account. It was taken one early morning as I walked past the park. Mist hung low beneath the trees, the light behind turning them to silhouettes and it seemed so serene to me, the mist like a blanket on the grass, that I had to stop and take a photo. It also reminded me a little of my first Ambeth book, Oak and Mist. Perhaps if I’d stepped between the trees I would have found myself… somewhere else.

I usually wake up early. I am a morning person – once I’m awake it’s very tough for me to go back to sleep again. However, I don’t like to feel rushed in the morning. I’d much prefer to wake a half hour earlier and breakfast leisurely, rather than running around in a panic to leave the house on time.

img_3684While away with The Silent Eye on a magical weekend, we watched the sun rise. It was bitterly cold but clear, ancient rock formations wreathed with mist like dragon’s breath, golden light turning small graven pools to mirrors. It was utterly beautiful. I do believe there is magic in the  turn from night to day, and day to night – they are moments of power, of possibility.

img_3702And so early morning, like early evening, is one of my favourite times of day.

This was my response to Day 17 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge – today’s prompt is: Early Morning


If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Oak And Mist on Sale, Plus Some Other Stuff!

Book One of The Ambeth Chronicles*trumpet fanfare* Oak and Mist is now on a Kindle Countdown Sale! For a limited time only, get your copy for the low price of 99c or 99p, depending where you are (e-book only, just so you know).

It’s been a funny old weekend. I posted about this yesterday – well, I meant to write a draft but published by accident, then took it down, then put it back up again. I also just discovered a whole bunch of comments, including a couple of reblogs, in my spam folder! They have been restored, and thanks to you all for commenting and sharing my work. Finally, I’d like to welcome some new followers to the blog – thanks so much for coming to visit and choosing to take the journey with me.

Right, I’m off to a family lunch now, the rain has cleared and I can even see a hint of blue sky. Wishing you all a blue sky happy Sunday wherever you are and, if you’re looking for something to read, Oak and Mist is on sale – yay!

Oak And Mist Kindle Countdown Sale! Oct 16-20

oak-and-mist-final-coverHello everyone! Just a very quick little post to say that Oak and Mist (e-book only) will be discounted on Kindle in both the US and the UK from October 16th to October 20th, 2016! The deal starts at 99c or 99p, depending on where you are, so if you’ve thought about getting a copy, now’s your chance to do so.

‘The end of everything? Great, no pressure then.”

Pushed between two trees at her local park, Alma never expected to find another world. But Ambeth, where a palace gleams in green gardens by a wild sea, has been expecting her.

Now she has to find a lost sword or the consequences for humanity will be dire. With no idea where to look, despite help from her new friend Caleb, things get even more complicated when a handsome prince of the Dark seems to be interested in her. Add in some time-twisting, concerned parents and a battle between Light and Dark for control of a lost sword, and it’s enough to make any fifteen-year-old want to give up. But then she wouldn’t see Caleb any more. Or Deryck…

For your copy of Oak and Mist, book one of The Ambeth Chronicles, click here

 

 

A Journey Through Ambeth, Part II

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the real landscapes that had inspired Oak and Mist, my first Ambeth book. With the release of Hills And Valleys, the third book in the series, that landscape has now expanded somewhat. So, with the past week being what it was, I thought I might take a wander through my fantasy world, and share it with you 🙂

I hope this isn’t too much like Toto pulling back the wizard’s curtain in Oz – I just wanted to share the landscapes I had in mind when I wrote the Chronicles. For Alma’s adventures in the human world, I used real locations – places I’d lived in or visited many times that had left an impression on me. However, when I created Ambeth, I didn’t have specific places in mind, wanting instead to write the world I could see in my mind’s eye. Later, when I looked back, I could see where the influences had come from.

IMG_0541

Hearst Castle, California

‘From out of an immense structure of white stone came towers topped with tiles that gleamed like mother of pearl… It shone so brightly in the sun that Alma blinked, shading her eyes.’  Oak and Mist

IMG_2028

Criccieth Castle, Wales

‘My heart rejoices at the thought that our old castle will guard my secret, high on its mound behind its twin-towered gate.’ Hills and Valleys

Notre Dame Doors

Doors to Notre Dame, Paris

‘The large wooden doors… were wondrously crafted, with hinges made from intricately shaped and figured metal that curved across the… wood like living things.’ Oak and Mist

Criccieth, Wales

Criccieth, Wales

‘Alma sat with Merewyn on a low wall near the jetty, looking along the curving beach to the mountains beyond.’ Hills And Valleys

Inspiration comes to us from many places. I recently walked past a grove of trees in my neighbourhood and immediately had another book idea. An unusual outside light on a neighbour’s house inspired a short story. So how about my fellow writers out there? Do you write from the real world, or gather influences to shape a new landscape? And where have you been that has inspired you?

#WritePhoto – A Glimpse of Ambeth

Sue's Tower Prompt

The ground began to rise beneath them, their horses’ hooves thundering as they entered the pass leading towards Etras’ stronghold, a castle set high among the crags. Pointed towers of grey stone rose above a solid keep, black flecks swirling around one of the towers. The faint shrieking of winged Watchers could be heard, growing louder as they drew near.

‘Are you ready?’ asked Denoris, pitching his voice to carry above the sound of their approach. Gwenene glanced at him briefly, a flick of dark hair and sapphire eyes, but did not slow her pace.

‘I am.’


When I saw Sue’s #writephoto prompt for this week, I couldn’t believe how well it tied into a scene from book four of my Ambeth Chronicles, when Dark Elders Denoris and Gwenene are headed for the mountains, hoping for help from an old friend. And so I thought I’d share it as part of the photo prompt – just a small glimpse of Ambeth, as I’ve yet to publish this instalment.

If you’ve read the first two books, you might have an idea of who Etras is, and why the Elders might want to visit him. And if you haven’t – well, what are you waiting for? 🙂 Click the links and start the journey.