Monday, 25 October 2021

The Bond Conundrum


Starting with Dr No in 1962 and continuing until Die Another Day in 2002, the James Bond film series followed a loosely connected narrative that spawned twenty financially and mostly critically successful films, but then in 2006 the franchise rebooted itself with Casino Royale - it was from this point on that the James Bond films became a separate entity to what went before. And whilst Casino Royale is a good well made and well acted movie it is not, at least in the traditional sense, a James Bond movie.

And that would be fine if the producers stuck to that, but they didn't and Skyfall and perhaps Spectre very much want to be James Bond movies, in the traditional sense that is, whilst the latest Bond, No Time to Die is more soap opera with blistering action scenes than James Bond movie. It seems that the current producers want to have their cake and eat it. They want their movies to be James Bond movies and yet not be James Bond movies. It's a conundrum, indeed.

At the end of Die Another Day we were told that James Bond would return...we're still waiting.

Let's look at the recipe for Bond, the ingredients created way back when Ian Lancaster Fleming relaxed in Goldeneye for six weeks to write that first novel, Casino Royale: 

James Bond, the name considered bland and boring and pilfered from a bird book that Fleming owned.

Two parts womaniser.

Mix with one part cold, calculated, aloofness.

Add a lot of over the top villains with world domination schemes.

Toss in fast cars, good clothes and expensive cigarettes.

Stir in a good measure of sexism and misogyny.

Add a touch of toxic masculinity.

Bake solidly.

That recipe served the films well right up until Die Another Day. No matter what fashions came and went the Bond films remained essentially the same. 

Though that recipe has been amended by the current producers. They have come up with a low fat, gluten free version to carry the series forward, and whilst that may seem sensible in order to keep the franchise relevant it's resulted in all the flavours being removed. It's given us a very bland tasting Bond. They can have their cake and eat it. I don't want any of it.

The truth is that the Craig movies have been generic action films featuring James Bond in name only, with a few winks and nods to past glories - again they want their cake and eat it.

However, I will say that No Time to Die has been a fitting end to Craig's era. Since the Eon team have spent the past four movies trying to kill everything James Bond and this time they actually did kill Bond. Well, they have him commit suicide by allowing a pile of missiles to blow him to pieces.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Is self digital publishing dead?

 One of the most well known platforms for digital publishing is Amazon's Kindle digital publishing - anyone can publish a book here -It simply means authors can sell their digital version works on For the writers who already have a dedicated following, it would be a good idea to utilize the audience source to publish and sell books. In this case, self-publishing may present long-term challenges to book publishers, as they are now losing those potential and probably profitable works.

The problem with this is that it is often not the best writers who are the most successful here, but rather the best at handling marketing. I've lost count of the amount of times I've read a massive selling author, only to discover that the books are cliched, badly written and hardly engaging. Still these books seem to attract scores of reviews and sell like crazy. Go figure!

That's not to say there are not some great writers out there who have mastered selling through Kindle - there are many many of them. but the fact remains that it is getting increasingly difficult to get noticed in the crowded digital marketplace. There are some excellent books out there that have yet to achieve the sales they deserve.

Writers going down the digital publishing route need to beware.

  • A lot of small presses will say “we want to publish your book” but actually make you pay for some of the services or split the costs.
  • A lot of small presses have good intentions but actually know nothing about book design or book marketing, which means you’re giving them the lion’s share of profits but they can’t help you sell the book.
  • Nobody is going to give up their own time and money to support your dreams, nor should they. (But there are “book coaches” who will take thousands of dollars and help along the path… they may be helpful for finishing a great book, but you really need to hire the best editor, best cover designer, etc rather than leave it up to one “expert”).

Though with the right approach self publishing can work -  you should do everything you can to do it well. Set a goal of 5,000 copies, and treat your writing and publishing like a business.

That means, stop asking for help and support. Stop desperate, largely useless marketing tactics like spamming Facebook or blasting Twitter. It would be nice if all your Facebook friends bought a copy of your book, but believe me they wont.

To sell 5,000 copies, you need to reach about 50,000 readers in your target genre or topic, get their attention with amazing content, and then convince them they need to read your book. You can do this with:


Blurbs and testimonials

An amazing cover design

A great book description.


Friday, 22 October 2021

Thursday Murder Club Book Review Richard Osman

 This is one of those books where the characterisation is far more important than the plot  - not that the plot itself is not well enough done, but it is the characters that carry the reader forward. The Book really is a joy to read - I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end.

The four main characters are quite a varied bunch - they are all elderly and live in a retirement home where they pass the time with the Thursday Murder Club. The spend their time looking over cold cases in the hope that they can spot something the police failed to see - it hasn't happened yet though. No matter since there's plenty of lemon drizzle cake and tea to go round.

The four members of the murder club are made up of ( all retired), a spy chief, a nurse, a psychiatrist and a militant socialist.

Soon there is a murder in the area when local businessman Tony Curran is bludgeoned to death in his kitchen and the fantastic four and now on the case - 'Isn't it delightful. A fresh murder for us to look into.'

There are some beautiful character moments throughout the book, and a lot of poignant scenes that deal with the reality of growing old.

This truly is a fantastic book.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021


 The Amazon bestseller - twice topping the crime charts!

The start of a world war two set crime/mystery series featuring the incredible, Chief Inspector Frank Parade.

Everything a mystery lover could want.

The early days of WWII, and murder has definitely not taken a holiday. Chief Inspector Frank Parade has first one and then another murder on his hands, and it's up to him and his depleted force to solve them both. Which he does, of course. As said in his own words, "Sooner or later the long arm of the law will catch up with you." *****

Available in all formats with the Amazon eBook at an incredible low price for a limited period only. CLICK HERE...IT'S A STEAL.



The Best ways to download and read comic books online

 There are a lot of comic book fans among Archive readers, so I thought it would be nice to point readers in the direction - what direction is that, you ask! 

Well follow me, down that rabbit hole.

When you download a comic online you'll need software that can open the files - formats like CBR, PDF or even Mobi are quite common and there are many comic book readers apps/programs online for free. So just take a browse with the search term: Comic Book Reader and you'll find a suitable program. Personally I swear by cDisplay

 Comixology  is an Amazon owned site and contains stuff by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and a lot of independent houses. There are also free comics on the website so it is well worth a visit.

DriveThruComics   is a great website that contains a lot of older comics as well as the new stuff.

GetComics is awesome, even if the website is a bit clunky but best of all everything here is Free to download and you can download entire runs of issues in one click. Bodacious, dude!

Internet Archive for nostalgia fans then this is the website to visit. It's comics and graphic novel section is filled to the brim with some great stuff.

British Comics is my website of choice, mainly because the archives are full to bursting with classic British comics, all of them free to download. This website is a comic historians wet dream.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

The Rise of the independent Publisher: Publicity


Available now
Mr. Dobbs has created a complex character who is both diligent and compassionate. This is a well written story. a tantalizing mystery and a excellent description of the difficulty of policing in war time.   *****

I'm what you call an hybrid author - I've been published traditionally, and continue to be so but for the Frank Parade wartime mysteries I decided to go down the self publishing route - well sort of. 

I've set up my own publishing house for these books - Red Valley Publishing. The books are set in my home village of Gilfach Goch and the name translates as little red nook or red valley and so the name Red Valley Publishing is apt.

The book, Down Among the Dead is the first in a series to feature the police detective Frank Parade and the second, provisionally titled Listen to the Wind should see print during the first quarter of 2022.

I believe Down Among the Dead is a good book and the many reviews seem to agree with this assessment.

The author made me feel like I was actually stood at the side of Chief Inspector Frank Parade watching him work. So if you like murder mysteries I highly recommend you give this book a go *****

But  writing a good book, while paramount, is only half the battle. These days the author, particularly if going down the route of independent publishing must publicise their work. There are ways to do this but be warned it takes time, and of course the author is walking a fine line between being a nuisance and offering the reader something they actually want.

  1. Create a killer landing page. ...
  2. Promote it within your website. ...
  3. Use supporting content formats. ...
  4. Go all-out on social media. ...
  5. Explore other content sharing platforms. ...
  6. Use free tools to make your eBook go viral. ...
  7. Try guest blogging on authority sites. ...
  8. Invest time in traditional email outreach.

Skilful marketing is something that all authors must learn to master if they want their books to stand out amongst the many many that are available, particularly digitally, and often it is not the best authors who manage to score a hit with publicity. I've lost count of all the badly written books I've seen selling in high numbers simply because the author has managed to get the hang of digital marketing. Similarly there are some great even excellent books out there that don't get the sales they deserve because - and here's the thing, being a brilliant writer doesn't mean you will be brilliant at marketing your work.

So what's the answer?

 I'm blown if I know!

I'm simply stumbling about in the dark but I'm learning as I go along.

The steps highlighted above are a must for any writer to try, but maybe the best advice I can give is to target your audience and reach out to them. Use systems like Mail Chimp to build up a mailing list, and find blogs that cover the genre you work in. Become active there, reach out and see if you can get your book reviewed  or maybe you can write a guest post yourself.

Reviews are the lifeblood of the small independent publisher.

Coming 2022
Don't give up - the book pictured above, Down Among the Dead was published in 2018 and yet in the last month it's sold more copies than it managed in the last few years. This is good for me since the second book in the series is nearing completion and should see print around March of 2022. I've been plugging this book like crazy recently because I'm proud of it; believe it is a damn good thriller and will satisfy crime/mystery/thriller readers. If I didn't believe that then I wouldn't bother.

These days it is not just enough to write a brilliant unputdownable book - you'd got to find the market for that book, build your brand and hopefully then you can watch sales rack up.

REMEMBER First and foremost though you've got to write a bloody good book, because good marketing or not poor work will eventually lose readers. It's all about hard work and the unpleasant fact is that after all the hard work of writing and perfecting your book, the real hard work begins.

If you're reading this then the chances are that you are a writer yourself, and it would be nice to think that all writers leave reviews, good or bad, of the books they read. I always do. It helps get books noticed . So each time you buy a book then please leave a Amazon, Goodreads or blog review. It's the least we can do. After all, we'd like others to review our work.

Down Among the Dead is currently available in print, audio and eBook. Amazon currently have the eBook for a limited time at 99p.

Listen to the Wind will be published in 2022.