Kindling Unlimited Interest

I love my Kindle so much I’ve got two!  I use my original old Kindle ereader when I’m out and about in case I manage to snatch ten minutes to have a quick read, and I have my lovely Kindle Fire HD at home for more luxurious imagineering.

When I received the Kindle Fire (as a gift from my lovely wife), I was first struck by how much it enhanced ebook reading.  It has a much better range of native fonts, the HD screen is pin sharp, book covers and illustrations are now in glorious colour and the virtual bookshelves on which I can browse the covers of my books makes things so much easier than scrolling down endless lists of titles.

The next thing I was struck by was how good it was as a fully functional Android tablet.  I now sit in bed at night streaming my favourite TV shows and movies from Amazon or Netflix, I have all manner of games and apps available to me.  For the price, it was an incredibly priced tablet as well as an ereader beyond compare!

My Kindle Fire HD

My Kindle Fire HD

And now I find that Amazon are due to release a new entry level 7″ Kindle Fire for only £49.99!  As a long time advocate of Kindle, it is my DUTY to share this news.  If you’ve been holding off, jump right in!  Of course, if you want HD or a bigger screen, the other models are still available.  There are a large number of Kindle versions available now to suit every need and budget.  Trust me, though, and get a Fire!  😉

All of my own books are available on Kindle, of course, as well as print, and these days Kindle accounts for about 60-70% of my sales.  But there’s more.

A lot of people still aren’t up to speed with the Kindle Unlimited service.  Basically, in return for a small monthly subscription (£7.99 to be precise), you can borrow any book that participates in the scheme and read it at your own leisure, keeping it as long as you want (you can borrow up to 10 books at any one time, with an unlimited number of borrows).  So for the price of one book per month, you can borrow as many as you can get through.  This isn’t diddling the author either:  I actually receive a higher royalty at the moment for every book read on Kindle Unlimited than I do for a sale!

Not every book is available for the service, of course, but hundreds of thousands are.  And the small, flat monthly fee means that you don’t risk anything any more when you try a new author.  I’ve downloaded and read and loved loads of books that I probably never would have taken a chance on buying.  So my reading horizons have been broadened, I’m feeling satiated with great fiction, and authors who otherwise probably wouldn’t have got a sale from me are getting paid.  Everybody wins!

Kindle … you know you want to!

Advertisements

Damsels on Display

This week saw the release of my latest novel in the Damsels series, the fourth book in the range (or the fifth if you count the side helping of short stories in Auld Bobby Bob’s Campfire Tales For Kiddywinks).  Titled Damsels and the Dark Arts, it elevates fantasy depravity to a high art.

I completed the writing of the novel about three months ago (indeed, I’ve written and published a whole other book since!), but delayed the publication because it was important to me to get the cover right.  Of all the books I write, the Damsels series is the one I love the most.  Ironically, it’s the series that sells the least, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the series that shows me as I really am.  The only readers of my books who truly ‘get’ me are the ones who ‘get’ the Damsels.  That’s not meant to be derogatory to my other books by any means, but the Damsels are what I put my heart and soul into.

So I wanted a really good cover this time around.  I spent a fortune on the cover art for Rampant Damsels, the first book, and the Damsels in Arms cover isn’t too bad.  But I was short of money for both Damsels Go Down and Auld Bobby Bob, so their covers – whilst not utterly dreadful – really aren’t as good as they should be.  So this time I was determined to wait until I could pay for decent art, because the Damsels deserve it!  It is highly likely that I will never sell anywhere near enough copies of this book to recover the cost of commissioning the artwork, but I did it for me and I love it.  After scouring artists’ sites online, I comissioned the cover art from Kelsey Bigelow and it is glorious!  And you know what?  As soon I can afford to, I’m going to commission better covers for Damsels Go Down and Auld Bobby Bob too, even though sales can never justify it.

Damsels and the Dark Arts, cover art by Kelsey Bigelow

Damsels and the Dark Arts, cover art by Kelsey Bigelow

This blog isn’t meant as a moan, by the way, but as an opportunity.  Many of my books sell really well, so that’s great.  But I’m a storyteller at heart and the Damsels are where that heart’s at, so I’ll take every opportunity to point and say, “Hey, if you like my books, these are what you should be reading!”

But what are the Damsels all about?  They’re fantasy novels and they’re comedies.  The humour is smutty, depraved and perverted.  But I think they’re also heartwarming.  For all the sex, violence and perversion in this disgusting little fantasy world, you can’t help but care about these characters.  Each book has its own main plot, but the long-running stories of the various characters weave in and out of the plot and continue across the various volumes.  Also, each book has its own interactive, choose-your-own-adventure chapter, ranging from a dungeon crawl, a rescue mission, the secret diary of a temple prostitute, a desert exploration and – in this latest book – a desperate attempt to get back home when lost on the astral plane.  These adventure chapters can be read several times, following completely different routes, and are a nod to the series’ role-playing roots.

But look!  Here’s a trailer I recently prepared for Rampant Damsels, the first book in the series, that’ll tell you more if you give it a watch!  Just click on the name, go on, I dare you!

Seriously, though, I love my Damsels and now, with a new book, I have the excuse and the opportunity to big them up once more.  If you ever liked a fantasy novel or flick, if you ever valued laughter, my friend, trust me – these are for you!

Smut, Filth and Awkwardness

Sometimes I get nagged.  Perhaps all writers do.  “Why don’t you write such and such?  I’m sure it would do well.”  And of course, I grin and nod, then usually go my own way.  But last year, the pressure was persistent.  “Look at 50 Shades of Grey, it’s a bestseller.  You know that sex sells.  That’s what the public wants:  mummy porn.”

And it’s true, of course.  Sex does sell.  It’s no surprise to anyone that just about every other URL on the internet leads to a porn site.  It’s also true that an erotic book is infinitely more satisfying than a porn movie.  When provided with a good story, your own imagination can construct far more steamy and arousing situations than any number of performers (who invariably all look the same) slapping flesh and faking moans.  In your imagination, the characters possess those little features and quirks that turn YOU on; they don’t have to pander to the bland tastes of others.

So I decided to go for it.  I created my cast of characters, set up a scenario and sat down to write an erotic novel, titled Water Into Whine.

Water_Into_Whine_Cover_for_Kindle

I immediately found that nothing in the world is so difficult to write as a good sex scene, one that is genuinely arousing and turns people on, but is so perfectly balanced that it doesn’t become simply ridiculous.  I don’t think my command of language has ever been so rigorously challenged as when I had to select the right words to keep the reader’s attention fixed right on the brink, before desire collapses into derision.  Erotica – good erotica, that is – is the hardest thing in the world to write.

The only way to approach this problem is to show respect for your novel and treat it as a worthwhile story, not just a piece of smut.  I carefully crafted my characters.  They were all flawed human beings, but all were likeable and relatable, they weren’t supermodels or hunks.  And in spite of all the situations and experiences they had in the novel, they all emerged from it as better people, with relationships that had benefitted from events; the feelgood factor was important to me.

It also helped a great deal to make sure that there was plenty of humour in the story.  Water Into Whine is not a comedy, but it certainly has its tongue in cheek.  Any book which chooses a vicar as its lustful leading man is always going to raise an eyebrow.

This combination of likeable characters and a whiff of humour allowed me to write the (numerous) sex scenes without missing a beat.  They fitted perfectly into the narrative and kept the book steamy and hot throughout, each chapter managing to go a step further than the chapter before it, raising the temperature all the while.

When I had finished, I asked if I had succeeded in emulating 50 Shades of Grey.  I didn’t know, as I hadn’t – and still haven’t – read it.  “Well,” said one lady who had just read my offering, “In book 3, she hints at things that you feature in chapter 1”.

I sat down and reread Water Into Whine the other day, returning to it after a year away.  I spotted three typos (some of those little buggers always manage to slip through, no matter how hard you try!), but I genuinely felt that I had created something truly arousing and ultimately heartwarming.  I am very, very proud of it.

The reason I reread it was that I am now penning a sequel, cheekily titled Vicars and Tarts.  I’m hoping I can recapture the same mix of good humour, steamy sex and human warmth that so characterised Water Into Whine.  I hope you’ll all love it as much as I do.

To celebrate this fact, I’d like to close this blog with a photo of myself as a vicar for your erotic excitation … or not.

author photo

The Legacy of Dr Dee

My latest book, The Sevenfold Mystery, a Draconian adaptation of the Enochian system, has just been published, a hefty volume of 440 pages.  In order to provide a little context, I am posting the book’s foreword here, which provides an overview of its scope:

Dr John Dee

Dr John Dee

The so-called ‘Enochian’ or ‘Angelic’ system of magic outlined in the diaries and papers of the Elizabethan genius Dr John Dee has enthralled, fascinated and befuddled occultists since the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn incorporated it into their eclectic blend of ritual magic in the closing years of the Nineteenth Century.

Of course, the Enochian magic of the Golden Dawn was very, very different from the Enochian magic of John Dee and his roguish skryer Edward Kelly. MacGregor Mathers, who developed most of the Order’s rituals and knowledge papers, tried to integrate it with the rest of the Order’s conglomeration of magical rituals, introducing elements of Qabalah, astrology and Tarot symbolism with the Enochian source material. Some of the Enochian papers – such as the Heptarchia Mystica – were simple ignored altogether by the Golden Dawn. Some of the Enochian words and names were used in the grade rituals of the outer Order, but the full corpus of the Enochian system was reserved for the inner Order, the Roseae Rubae et Aureae Crucis. To quote Israel Regardie, who chronicled the Order’s rituals and publications in his massive tomes, the Enochian system was considered to be quite literally Angelic in origin, and was viewed as “the jewel in the Golden Dawn’s crown”.

Most occultists since that time have tended to follow the Golden Dawn’s approach to Enochian, primarily because that was the system which was available to them, published first in Aleister Crowley’s Equinox and later in Regardie’s volumes. Therefore, Enochian has accrued to itself the reputation of a very secret and sacred and powerful system of magic, something which is very volatile and dangerous to use and which at all costs must be approached by proven Adepts only. This attitude is rooted in the Golden Dawn’s reservation of the material to its inner Order and the insistence upon the Divine providence of the system.

But Enochian magic has not stood still, it has grown and changed and undergone various metamorphoses over the years. Crowley published his utterly sublime The Vision and the Voice, recounting his experiences in the Æthyrs, which changed the philosophical underpinning of Enochian forever, introducing several models and new currents which still ride the crest of modern magic. The Schuelers took the basics of the Golden Dawn model of Enochian and reworked it into an entire magical system in its own right. The philosophical and practical bases of Enochian magic have been advanced and transformed in the crucibles of the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set.

Enochian has played a large role in my own magical history as well. Not only because it’s a fascinating system, but also because of my fascination with Dee as a person. As such, it has necessarily been one of the things that has contributed to the developing philosophy and practice of The Apophis Club. This book therefore seeks to provide a text book suitable for the Club and other interested Initiates, adapting our curriculum of Work to an Enochian flavour.

The book is divided into several sections, which will cover the following subjects:

  1. The first section will contain the basics of the five main components of Enochian magic: the tools of the Art; the Heptarchia Mystica; the four Watchtowers; the Angelic Calls and the Enochian language; the thirty Æthyrs. These will be presented in summary form for easy reference, without any philosophical or practical instruction at this point.

  2. The second section will discuss John Dee and Edward Kelly and the origin of Enochian.

  3. The third section will examine in turn the various claims that others have made about Enochian and the ways it has been adapted by many hands. Some of these adaptations will be adopted, some will be rejected, and others will be at the reader’s discretion.

  4. The fourth and largest section will be the grimoire section of the book. Here, the various parts of Enochian magic will be woven into a coherent, whole system, organised according to the Seven Heads of Vovina, the Stooping Dragon, who will arise in power in the consciousness of the Initiate through this Work. Be warned: this section contains real, transformative practices which are not for dilettantes and may turn your life on its head!

  5. The fifth section is an appendix which explores some controversial additional material which people of a certain disposition may like to explore more thoroughly, but which is incidental to the main curriculum.

There is tremendous power to be found in this book and the Work it contains and it is my ardent hope that it will be as useful and transformative to others as it has been to me. I make no apologies for sacred cows slaughtered along the way, nor for necessary innovations. This is a book for progressive magicians, not Elizabethan purists. And I really do believe – for reasons that will become apparent – that John Dee would approve of the progress that has been made and that time has not stood still.

The book can be ordered in printed form from Amazon in the US or the UK, or as an ebook for Kindle in the US or the UK.  The Kindle version can be read free of charge if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber!