Free listings on Amazon for KDP Select publishers like myself, whilst less effective than they used to be (more on that another time) are still a good way of getting your work out there when no-one knows who the hell you are. Like myself. 
But it’s ALSO a good idea to get your work submitted to the various sites that promote said free ebook listings (of any type, not just Kindle); they’ll not only put your work on their front pages (provided you meet their varying requirements, and that they like you) but often tweet the link to their thousands of followers too. There’s an immense market of people that only read free books on their Kindles; whilst, in the long run, you won’t make any money off them, a lot of them will give you the vital reviews you need to help you on your way. If you think about it, it’s quite a nice two-way relationship; because these people are happy to try out new authors, a lot of them are happy to post a review, more so, in many ways, than your paying customers, many of whom will think that they’ve paid you your money for the book, so they don’t owe you a review (they’re right, they don’t owe you anything…but it’s makes an author extremely grateful when they do.)
Anyway, something I discovered on my free-listing-promotional-insanity-day was the extremely useful Author Marketing Club. It has a load of free ebook ‘marketing tools’ – nothing new there – but best of all, it has a page where the best of the free ebook marketing link sites all in one place. Even better, the links on that page (the page the above link takes you to) all go directly to those sites’ book promotion submission pages. It saves a lot of time, and you can go through the whole list in an hour or two. 
It might only get you another 30 downloads, but hey, if those generate even one new review, that makes it worth it, right?
To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.


Just a quickie; The Stone Man has three free listing days that need using up by June, so I’m using ’em. I’ll be honest, since Amazon took down the tags on KDP listings, the free days (for me at least) aren’t the nuclear promotional option that they once were. Either way, if you fancy sharing the link, that’d be great. It’s quite a long book, and it’s FREE; whatcha got to lose?

The Stone Man-USA Amazon Link

The Stone Man-UK Amazon Link


From early 2010 until about February of last year, I practiced playing darts anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a week, in hopes of one day becoming a professional darts player; I logged nearly 1000 practice hours, and walked around 800 miles back and forth across the oche in the process.
Yes, I’m serious. And I took it VERY seriously.
It was only in 2012 that I kind-of-but-not-officially stopped, and this was because, in a roundabout way, of the whole book writing thing. Obviously, when you set aside four hours a day for practice, it doesn’t leave a huge amount of time to get everything else done; and so, after a period of about two weeks during which I’d been laid up with the ‘flu, I decided to have a week or two off the practice to get caught up with other things (like getting The Stone Man written.)
Weeks became months, and I haven’t done a single hour of home practice since. The weirdest, craziest thing is that I haven’t really, apart from a few brief instants, felt any urge to do any either, and this is after a time when the idea of stopping–even when I thought about it–was horrifying, the concept of wasting all those sore-back-and-neck inducing hours being just too much to even think about.
I haven’t given up on the idea totally; it’s something too close to my heart, and something I’m too proud of to ever dismiss. The blog drew in quite a lot of readers (especially from Belgium, for some reason) and I really need to update it if only so it doesn’t seem like I’ve suddenly stopped caring. I’d hate it if regular readers who’d taken an interest felt like I just didn’t give a shit about their support, and they’re owed a state-of-the-darts-career address…but that to me would also feel like I’ve given it an ending, and I don’t want to do that yet. Or maybe I just don’t want to admit it, who knows; but it’s also funny how you can slowly ease in or out of something and not really realise–or again, admit–that you’re doing it.
Either way, the blog covers about two years of my life, and is an interesting (and, I’d like to think, funny) account of one man’s obsession. There’s triumphs and tragedies along the way, visits to a hypnotist, arguments with players at tournaments, purchases of every dumb gadget under the sun, self-doubt, injury and other nonsense. And technically, it’s not over yet. Even if you’re not interested in darts, it’s worth a look. Click the link below.
PS The Future Of Darts World Championships (FOD) is a tournament that myself and my friends partake in amongst ourselves; click on the youtube link on to see some of the ‘montages’. It gets ugly.

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.


Here’s an old post I put on my old Facebook page a few years back; it might make you laugh and explain the concept of proper chobbing to you, if you don’t already get it. Remember: there’s a very key difference between just watching bad films and proper chobbing. Read on.

My Top Ten Chobbing Films Of All Time.
by Luke Smitherd (Notes) on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 5:06pm

…well, today’s list, anyway. I’ve done this pretty much on the fly, and I’m sure I’ll look at it tomorrow and go ‘What was I THINKING?!’ but here it is. These are not just the selection of memorable chobs (otherwise In The Mouth Of Madness and The Kiss would be in there) but chobbing films that I look back on and think ‘Ah…that’s a great chobbing film.’

If you don’t know what chobbing is, it’s hard to explain, but the best way I can put it is there’s watching proper, quality, well-made films and then there’s chobbing. Chobbing cannot be performed solo, and due to the nature of the films involved, picking a quality chobbing film is hard (because the film itself really shouldn’t be quality.)

A common mistake is to get a shit film and think you can just laugh at how shit it is. This isn’t true. You will not find it funny or entertaining because it will be fucking boring. Plus, a chobbing film doesn’t necessarily have to BE shit, just a bit daft and over-the-top (see: Total Recall, Mortal Kombat, TimeCop.) The first key to a truly great chobber-from multiplex international releases to straight to DVD low budget efforts-is a distinct lack of logic or effort on the part of the filmmakers, and any other icing (poor acting, cliched dialogue and characters, hilarious deaths, and ridiculous character decisions) is a bonus. The second (and for the me, the most important of all, no matter what the chobbing film) is PACE. If it’s cheap and crap and badly acted,this won’t actually be so-bad-it’s-good, it’ll just be dull, dull, dull. BUT if it rattles along nicely, you will have a great chob; so-bad-it’s-good only works if the pace stops you getting bogged down in the shitness. If the Paceometer is through the floor the wrong way, you are in for a poor time.

Generally, horror, sci-fi, and martial arts films are your best bet.

So, to help you get started, here’s a sample of my current Top Ten Chobbing Films Of All Time, in no particular order. If I’ve forgotten any honourable mentions, do tell me:

1.Braindead (Believe or not, the director went on to become Peter ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Jackson. Paceometer off the charts.)

2.King Of The Kickboxers (“Wha..what are you guys waiting for?!” Enter Billy Blanks. “They’re waiting for ME!!”)
3.Bloodfight (“Wow…with these moves, I could kick the shit out of anybody!” Yes, this is a real film.)
4.Total Recall (“You gotta lotta nerve showing your face round here!” “LOOK WHOOOS TAR-KING…”)
5.Kickboxer (“Yeah…yeah, I’m a great dancer…”)
6.Bloodsport (“Nonono, it’s ‘Dux’)
7.No Retreat, No Surrender (“Chi…equals POWER!!” As Bruce Lee’s ghost one-inch punches our young hero across the room.)
8.Predator (Take your pick. Awesome, awesome, awesome, 80s sci-fi machofest, fantastically paced, steadily growing sense of doom, more one-liners than you can shake a stick at, classic villain, and a criminally overlooked orchestral score. This shouldn’t really be in here as it is, in my opinion, a classic of the genre, but it’s a fucking great chobber none the less.
9.Ring (The japanese original. Again, too great a film to be in here, but every now and then a chobber should bite you in the ass as you think ‘Ha, ha, this will be shit and funny!’ but it actually scares the living piss out of you. This entry could also be replaced with John Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness, the film that scared me more than any other movie ever has before or since, none even coming close. It made me feel like I was doomed. I didn’t sleep. The trailer doesn’t do it justice at ALL…)
10.Tales From The Darkside (Still the funniest screen death ever for me, when the guy’s mate gets   killed at the start of the gargoyle story. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH-“(slice.)

So, there you have it. Get some friends, some booze, some food, and rent any of the above for a great chob.

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.


Forced into costume work, DeVito’s career hit a new low.
In the early stages of everyone’s career, they find themselves forced into taking on jobs of a more demeaning nature than they would like. This isn’t so bad if you are, say, a toilet attendant (those used tampons and syringes aren’t going to walk themselves to the landfill, now are they?) as whatever downsides there are to your job, the odds are no-one is really going to find out about it. Not so for aspiring actors; these poor saps are forced to take on all comers (and if they’re REALLY desperate, they might find themselves in a genre of film where that sentence has a more literal meaning) and when they move on to loftier heights, those early efforts are left for all the word to see. Actors such as…

Say what you like about Hercules, there aren’t many people who can fart out actual horses.
I’d explain the plot, but it’d be so painful to read that your eyes would leap out of your head and go and look at some snuff films in order to see something a little easier to put up with. All you need to know about ‘Hercules In New York’ is a: Arnold’s voice is hilariously dubbed all the way through with someone else’s, b: it’s so low budget that Central Park is used as a set to represent Mount Olympus (where, presumably, all the cherubs and satyrs drink meths and look suspiciously like hobos) and c: Arnold was so unknown at this point in his career that they changed his name to Arnold Strong upon it’s original release. The whole thing is an abomination of a fish-out-of-water ‘comedy’, albeit without any intentional laughs. ‘Hercules In His Final Death Throes At The End Of A Brave And Drawn Out Battle With Ebola’ would have been more fun that this. One poster claimed ‘It’s Tremendous! It’s Stupendous! It’s FUN!!!’ By God, it’s not.
Stallone, pictured spotting the late ’90s and early 2000s in the distance.
Originally entitled ‘The Party At Kitty And Stud’s’, the movie was retitled and re-released in an attempt to cash in on the now world famous Stallone’s nickname. Stallone got $200 for it when he was penniless and ‘at the end of (his) rope”; which is where anyone watching a copy of the original edit looking for some hot action may well find themselves, as it was so tame that Stallone said ‘By today’s standards, it would probably be rated PG.’ The studio since released a version with some close up shots of actual penetration, but don’t get excited; it’s not Stallone’s Stallion, but a stand in added afterwards. By the way, in case you were wondering, Stallone plays Stud, not Kitty. Personally, I’m more interested in the title of one of the other films by the same director mentioned in the trailer; ‘The Longest Foot’, starring John Holmes. I assume it’s a film about javelin throwing.
Van Damme, pictured after another naked table tennis win.
A bit part in a film made up of bit parts, Van Damme is billed simply as ‘ Gay Karate Man’, appearing in a brief scene where he picks up the hitchhiking hero of the film. Of course, being gay, his character instantly tries to seduce our hero because he’s a man (in the 80s, this was generally accepted as What Gay Guys Do) and then, when his advances are aggressively rebuffed and is challenged to a fight, he takes his karate suit off (that’s right; he’s wearing a full karate suit whilst driving. He’s Gay Karate Man. Our hero still feels utterly confident in challenging him to a fight, despite the fact the only clothing he’s wearing to demonstrate HIS fighting prowess is a tuxedo) and performs a series of kicks that scares the object of his affections away. JCVD then comedically minces back off towards his car, no doubt already planning his next roadside seduction. Van Damme allegedly takes great pleasure in destroying copies of this film, a passion he would sadly transfer to the rest of his career.
 The look of dawning confusion of Douglas’ face says it all.
Known by both titles, Schwarzenneger makes the list again with this early pile of hot comedic western garbage. With a poster that looks like Arnold has been cast by the producers of Monaco Forever as ‘Gay Cowboy Man’ (and from Douglas’ expression, we can guess where Arnold’s hand might be) this description by the producers of this film damns it far more than any description I could give; ‘A live action road runner and coyote movie, set in the old west.’ Say no more.
      Douglas does his absolute best to save this disaster of a ‘comedy’, gamely playing his scenes for laughs and almost managing to pull it off thanks to his natural comic timing, but with a script that must have written by someone who decided that comedy=extremely slow and drawn out set pieces that end when something falls on Kirk Douglas, and with Schwarzenegger delivering his lines like Stephen Hawking’s computer was his voice coach, this horrific mash-up of cartoon action done on a budget normally reserved for church raffle prizes and ‘jokes’ with all the wit of a hippo covered in cement ends up being so torturous that the descendants of people forced to sit through it regularly wake up in the night, sweating after nightmares of falling boulders and anvils that are obviously made of polystyrene coming to bounce ineffectively and ‘hilariously’ off their heads. Years later, professional wrestler Mick Foley would take the name Cactus Jack as one of his many in-ring personae, with the idea being that CJ was by far the most brutal of all of his characters. Brutal is right.

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.


Heard about Dog the other day; it’s an online streaming service designed to keep dogs entertained, I guess, as the product is entirely aimed at our canine chums. My two are normally in the room with me for most of the day, due to my job as musician obviously being mainly evenings, but I thought it might be nice to have something on in the background to help keep them happy.
 “This just in; tonight’s dinner will be DOG FOOD!! YEEEAAHHHHH!!!”
It doesn’t seem very effective so far, but that could be due to the fact that I’m having to screen it on my iPad via their app, so the screen might be too small for them to appreciate; my laptop is obviously in use by me, and it’s not on TV over here (although I think it it’s on cable in the US and mainland Europe (although that being said, literally as I write this, Jeff has suddenly seemed to have become interested…he’s not taken his eyes off it for about five minutes now.) Either way, I have a free trial subscription to use, and I like to have it on just in case the dogs take to it. The other reason is the instrumental muzak they use; I’d love to have the radio on, but the lyrical content and DJ speak is too distracting to write against. Dog TV seems to have a constantly changing background tune that stops the room from becoming silent.
It’s also nearly unbearably tragic.
Every now and then they pepper it with brief spoken words, usually said by a child, to get the dog’s attention (it doesn’t work with my two, however…Jeff has now given up and gone for a sleep) such as ‘Hey doggy’ or ‘Good boy.’ The one that twists in my gut like a knife made of dog-owner guilt is ‘I’m over here!’ presumably to get your dog engaged, looking around for whoever is calling them. It doesn’t affect my pair, as I say, but it still kills me on two levels. 
One, it’s a constant reminder that, unless your dogs are asleep or relaxed, they would rather be playing or running, and would dearly love a child to play with them. I know it’s not realistic to keep your dogs entertained 24/7, but when I look at mine, currently stretched out on the sofa to my right (the one they’re allowed on) and lying in a position where I can’t see their faces, it makes me wonder (regularly) if they’re merely asleep, or unbearably bored, wishing they lived on a farm.We live in a flat, and they’re walked every day, and played with, but we don’t have a garden (they hate the rain and cold anyway, so they’d only be outside about 10 weeks of the year, but even so.)
Two (and I think this might be the one that hits me worse) it makes me think–every time–of dogs that never get walked, or played with, dogs that were bought as a novelty and then neglected ever since, merely fed and allowed to live…dogs that would probably be the ones that their owners expect to be entertained by something like Dog TV, owners who make themselves feel better by sticking their pets in front of the channel all day long and think it makes up for their pets’ complete lack of being walked. Obviously, there are dogs that are straight-up abused, but they don’t even get fed, let alone ‘treated’ to Dog TV; they, therefore, are not the image that comes to mind. That’s an injustice on a whole other level; the image brought to mind by this sound is just one of sad dogs, the dogs who hear ‘Over here, I wanna play!’ and leap to their feet, so desperate for any kind of love or attention that even a recorded voice saying it has that effect on them.
That said, if Dog TV makes me feel so guilty that they get an extra ten minutes on their walk today, then maybe it can’t be so bad.
“Are you happy yet? ARE YOU HAPPY YET?!?”
To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.


Anyone who has a MAJOR problem with procrastination, such as myself, knows how tough it is when it comes to just sitting down and contiuing to write your book, or to start that day’s chunk of writing; you feel like you’re not aware enough of the rest of the story (if it’s a project that’s already in progress) it feels cold and alien, and the zone you were happily beavering away in the last time you were adding to your novel seems a million miles away. The main problem, of course, is that you’re not only trying to start writing out of nowhere (the literary equivalent of going 0-60) but you’re trying to do that whilst adding to a huge chunk of text that already exists. And if you’re starting your book or essay full stop, trying to find a way to begin, you can feel like your opening words won’t be good enough because you’re coming to it cold. It’s not always like this, of course, but there’s a lot of days where it is. On days like that, the way to solve the problem is to have a quick warm-up; it won’t solve the adding-onto-existing-text problem, but it certainly makes it feel a damn sight easier when your writing brain is prepped an ready. 
So how do you do it? For me, one of the bonuses I’ve found about writing this blog is that it works as an excellent warm up on days when I’m sat in front of the laptop and pissing around on Facebook instead of getting down to the job in hand. It gets the juices flowing before diving back into my latest undertaking, helping me get it nice and ready to sit unnoticed at the bottom of the Kindle store listings…(feeling rather bitter about failed free listings today.) So getting a blog going is one idea, even if it’s just a blog for random thoughts. Blogging is fun, and you never know who might be reading (the police, for one, so keep those thoughts clean.)
But here’s an excellent, excellent writing warm up for you; the wonderful , a small and simple website with a built in tool that works on a simple concept. To use their words:

“One Two Fiver is a series of stretches for warming up your writing muscles.
Start with a single word.
Type it like you mean it.
Now write two words.
Move on to five…
Keep typing until you are writing.”
It’s like’s an extended version of that old game where you take it in turns to say the next word in a sentence…except each time you keep saying more words. It sounds daft, but it is indescribably useful on those days where you just can’t seem to get started (on anything, not just writing fiction; it works equally well for bringing yourself to getting round to sending a lengthy complaint email to WWE for giving you horrendous seats for Wrestlemania without telling you that the view would be highly restricted….for example.) I highly recommend giving onetwofiver a go anytime you just can’t seem to get your A into G.
Whilst I’m here, I thought you might find it fun to see a sample of what I produced one of the times that I used it; admittedly I started with ‘Once’ because I knew I was going with ‘Once upon a time’, but once I got to ‘…there was a’ I added ‘Pig’ and away I went. Not really the way it’s supposed to be used, I know, and normally I start with just a random word and go from there, but this is the only one that I still have a copy of. I remembered that I’d copied all of the text and kept it for some reason (I liked it as a beginning and thought I might go somewhere with it eventually, just as a short story.) And if you’re REALLY bored, why not try and finish off the story and post your results below? I’d love to see them.
Your messages are always so kind.

Here’s what I came up with as a writing warm-up:

Once upon a time there was a pig called Steve, unremarkable in appearance and manner, but reknowned amongst the other animals on the farm for being an all round likeable chap. Whenever, say, one of the lambs were worried about their first shearing, or one of the horses were concerned about the appearance of their coat, or the cockerel was feeling inadequate in his role as leader of poultry, all would come to Steve for a kind word, sage advice, or just to have a friendly pig’s ear to talk into.

And so it was in this manner that the farmhouse cat came to Steve one day, leaping up onto the wall of the pigsty and nervously clearing his throat. Unfortunately, this also caused the start of a hairball retch, but once he’d cleared it he regained his composure. The cat rarely deigned to put in an appearance with the farmyard animals; they thought him aloof, he secretly thought them uncultured, but there was no genuine malice between them. Even so, his appearance at the pigsty was a mild surprise, and all the pigs-including Steve-turned to look at him. Trying to look and sound casual, the cat spoke.

“Yes,” said the cat, feigning a casual air, “I…I’d like to talk to Steve please, if he has a minute?” The pigs all turned to look at Steve, who blushed slightly. It looked unusual on a pig.
“Um…of course,” replied Steve, finding himself feeling strangely nervous, “What’s the matter?” The cat didn’t respond at first, and instead just looked around, scratching at his neck in a manner that was supposed to look relaxed but actually just made him look even more furtive.
“Any chance,” said the cat finally, inspecting some unseen object in the middle distance and still not addressing Steve directly, “We could talk a little more privately, Steven?” Steve bristled slightly at this (easy for a pig) as he didn’t like being called Steven. It reminded him of his mother, long since taken away to what the animals called ‘The Happy Pasture.’
“Nope,” replied Steve, bolder now, “I think we’ll talk right here, actually.”

That’s where I stopped. See what you can do, if you can be arsed.

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.


 “No, of course I won’t be selling this on the Kindle store. What do I look like, an asshole?”
I’ve had a bit of a theory, and as of yet I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be true. Here it is: since getting a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas (previously I was reading all my eBooks on the Kindle app for the iPhone which was perfectly fine, but the Paperwhite with its e-ink screen is SO much better to allow for restful sleep/rested eyes when reading in bed, plus the bigger screen obviously allows for less swiping) I’ve been buying a lot more books than before from the Kindle store.
(Right, here’s where it gets mildly complicated, so keep up.)
However, after seeing my own books occasionally popping up in the ‘customers who bought this also bought’ section of other books that I’VE bought (I always buy a copy or two of my own books on free listing days; doesn’t hurt) I got to thinking thusly: “If I buy my OWN book…then buy someone ELSE’S book…surely therefore there’s a good chance that people who see the other books listing might have MY book come up in the ‘customers who bought this also bought’ section for that book.”
If you followed that, the thinking makes sense at least, right?
If that’s true, then it’s a beautiful win/win situation; you read new books, and potentially promote your own book in the process (providing you’ve bought your own book before.) In other news, the free listing of TBRP1 was a total failure. First time that’s happened. Very worrying, as the free listings were always the thing I banked on to get the books (and thus my work in general) out there. I hope this is just a one-off, and that something in the The Black Room’s tags or listing is causing it to be a specific no-show, but this could spell disaster, and the end of a literary dream…
“You want magical-realist fiction with that? I mean, fries?”

 To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.


Just a quick one here; The Black Room, Part Two: The Woman In The Night is out NOW; and Part One is free until the end of May 5th! Perfect for the Bank Holiday Weekend, if you associate out-of-body experiences with your Bank Holiday weekend. Depends how much you drink, I suppose.
Here’s the link for the Amazon US link for it too. Just don’t forget to leave a goddamn review, eh?

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.


“Hello, ambulance? My legs have been severed off at the knee by a falling Monolith.”

As someone who’s always struggled with sleep (I was diagnosed with Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder several years back. Basically means that I’m programmed to fall asleep several hours after midnight and not wake up properly until ten. Effectively I’m built for the sleep pattern of a student) I’ve tried everything to help fix it, and I’m well aware of the horrendous effect poor sleep has on someone’s productivity. Sleep issues and aids will therefore be a large part of this blog in future, so I’m gonna start by talking about the pre-sleep shutdown, and why it’s more important than getting that extra episode of Breaking Bad in before you pass out. Even if you sleep pretty easily, keep reading; I’m gonna help you sleep better. And everything I say here is probably something that you already know, in your heart of hearts, to be true. You just need tellin’.

I’m sure, like me, you spend a lot of your day looking at some sort electronic screen, be it laptop, phone, TV tablet, or anything that shows Craigslist ads for live-in submissive slaves. Right? Well, all that eye stimulation leaves your brain more wired than you think, to the point that even when you’re exhausted you’ll either struggle to drop off, or even when you do manage to pass out you don’t properly drop into REM sleep and wake up feeling tired and unrested. Basically, you’re spoiling the effectiveness of your own sleep.
Your eyes-and brain-need to reset before that sleep happens; watching TV right up until bed is bad for your life in the bedroom (unless it’s the Playboy channel…no, wait, that’s still bad) and getting into bed and monkeying around on your phone is a no-go too. So you need to spend half an hour to an hour doing something that takes your eyes and mind away from that kind of stimulation. Reading is an excellent way to do this (and yes, the e-Ink displays on a Kindle are fine as they don’t flicker at a high rate like conventional screens) or even an audiobook or podcast. Your eyes therefore have plenty of time to settle before you pass out (this sounds like a contradiction in terms, but trust me, it isn’t) and your brain has the load taken off it at the same time.
Now, this might sound counterproductive to clearing things off the Endless To Do List; an hour’s less precious ‘fun’ time means either exactly that or taking an hour out of your ‘producing’ time, but not only is reading and/or listening to podcasts fun, it also means that you’ll awake feeling more refreshed, more mentally capable, and it’ll help make the most of the working time you have. Trust me. It helps. And if you REALLY can’t do without the Playboy channel, read some erotic literature instead, and kill two birds with one stone. In fact, ‘Two Birds With One Stone’ is actually the title of this great saucy novel I read 0nce where the twin Countesses, Letha and Lase, ask the gardener….nevermind.

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit where you can buy them for Kindle.
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