A welcome reminder of why I write...

If you've been visiting the blog, and perhaps the facebook page, you might notice since the release of "Erasure" in early June that many of the posts that I've added tend to speak more from the "What's wrong with publishing" than anything else.

I really haven't set out to do that, it just seems to be the natural way of things. 

Generally when I sit down to work I don't follow a plan, so to speak. I just write, and pick up the pieces after. But write I do, and the next book in the series is well under way.

When it comes to blogging I take a different approach. If I have nothing to say, I don't blog.

It goes against the grain, I know. 

"You HAVE to blog, if you don't your book will die." Is the slightly exaggerated version of what all the author forums seem to preach. I didn't sign up for that sermon, and yet I still hear it ALL the time.

Today I have something to blog about. 

A solid reminder of what it really means when I say that I'm a writer.

I woke up Saturday morning, thankfully hangover free, and logged on to check out what was happening on that bright sunny day.

I was greeted by this message via facebook - and it made me smile (Thanks Gemma C.):

I have just read an awesome book, I can't remember ever being so taken by a book. I had chills, tears, laughs... the works. needless to say I double locked all my doors tonight and kept the lights on. Check it out guys - the book is called ERASURE www.athwebber.com BIG TIME WOW! and all you computer junkies totally gonna dig this one!

I've just started smiling again as I pasted the message.

I didn't set out to be some kind of writer-rockstar (although I'm not against the idea should the mantle be trust upon me). I write because it is what I do. I find it entertaining. I find the process incredibly detailed and frustrating at times, but while it (the process) might backhand me every now and then, the sense of achievement is a nice thing to feel.

This message reminded me that people do actually read my work.
It reminded me that the work is worthwhile.
It reminded me that someone I didn't know while I was writing the thing would ultimately turn the final page and feel like they had read, really read, what they probably say is a great book.

This whole writing thing can be an unbelievably lonely existence, but little beacons like this message stretch out of the gloom and reach me on my little hill. It is a connection I didn't know I needed until now. If I stand on tip-toe I can almost see the little hill top from where the beacon came, and can see many other little hills around it, all with their own singular inhabitant. 

I hope others see the beacon too. So that one day this valley will be ablaze.

An open letter to Amazon: Things have to change.

To: Amazon.com
CC: kdp.amazon.com

Re: Things have got to change.

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to offer my thoughts on the current state of play in the direct publishing market.

Never before in the history of publishing have so many had the opportunity to publish their own book. Certainly, vanity presses have been around for a significant amount of time, but I am talking about real, "Here's your book's ISBN and a store-front, so your book is now a saleable commodity" publishing.

It is an exciting place to be.

Gone are the days where an independent author would have to pony up for a minimum of a thousand books, which when delivered would take up residence in a handily cleared garage... or spare room, or form the foundations for a good sized coffee table.

Gone are the days when an aspiring author had to enter the lottery that surrounds literary agents-publishers-book-store-owners, and their ability to see a quality product, or product of potential. Or, quite frankly, (and just to add another layer of prize winning bonanza) each segment's inability to keep their desk in order so that every manuscript got read.

The last couple of years have heralded a new wave of publishing, allowing folk to simply write their opus and hit publish.

In short: The best thing about today's new publishing situation is that everyone can write and publish a book.

The worst thing? That in today's new publishing situation, everyone can write an publish a book.

The Balkan Express - Slavenka Drakulic

The Balkan Express:
Fragments from the
other side of war.
I am ashamed to say that I only remember the war depicted in this book as little more than an intellectual enterprise. It was given to me by a friend of my wife's as we had just come back from a holiday in the region, and she thought I might be interested.

In 1991, when the short essays in this book commence, I was 19 years old, and living in Melbourne, Australia.

I remember the news coverage, as limited as it was, showed in point form the actions of one group of people visited upon another group of people, all of whom were on the other side of the world.

News was like that in Australia in the early nineties. It's probably not much better now.

As one of the other reviewers on Amazon.com states:

This book was published in 1993. This makes it hard to read, since several times Drakulic talks about the war being "almost over". When one knows that the worst in the former Yugoslavia was yet to come this makes this depressing book even more depressing.

It's true. This is a hard book to read, not because of Drakulic's lack of writing talent, she writes supremely well, but because it describes the real hardships of everyday folk trying to go about their lives, while the dogs of war slaver in the streets below.

This is a great if somewhat humbling read from someone who was there, but with no political agenda. Just a person whose world crashed around her, leaving her not overly interested in the political why, but definitely the personal processes that happen when war is all around you.

Read this book, it will make you ask again and again: 

If we are supposed to learn from history, why do people repeat these atrocities?

I remember 1999 and what happened in Kosovo far clearer than I do the destruction of Yugoslavia in 1991.

Melbourne took plane loads of Kosovo refugees and I remember watching them disembark via a TV report.
It struck me then that refugee is a divisive term: Years of seeing African refugees starving in shanty towns had given me a pretty solid idea of what a refugee should look like.

The Kosovo arrivals looked like me, they wore the same clothes, same shoes, all looked healthy.

I remember saying to my girlfriend (now my wife): They could be passengers getting off a plane after any domestic Australian flight. These people aren't refugees, they could be us.

A counterpoint to the passage above re: Drakulic's belief that the war was almost over, 5 years and hundreds of thousands of lost lives before.

The Light Between Oceans - M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans
M.L. Stedman
I really wanted to like this book, and on balance it is a good one. But there are some real clanging issues that hold it back.

It is set in the 1920's at what was then an Australian outpost. For the most part it is written in a modern voice - which I don't mind, what I do mind is that the author would go from writing a beautiful, descriptive passage (truly mesmerising painting of landscape and characters) then in dialogue the modern voice would continue until for reasons I can't fathom she seemed to periodically release her inner Steve Irwin. Terms like "doing your 'nana" or "give it a burl" are certainly colloquialisms of the time, but seemed shoe-horned into the text as a reach for Authenticity.

It's probably something that wouldn't be noticed by non-Australians, but adding such terms in the context that they were delivered is akin to writing an American Southern States epic in a modern voice, and then dumping a couple of "y'alls" in as some lame reach for authenticity.Or a Canadian book with some poorly placed "Aboots"

The other clanger, and this one unforgivable, is her switch between past and present tense. While I am aware that this is a technique to create immediacy and drama. It wasn't well applied.

I'd be there on the island, nothing existed but for the words and the image-scapes, and then the tense would change and I would feel like I'd have to interpret it to past and.... BAM I'm back in my reality holding a book. The Island gone and I am having to think about the context/tense/reasons why she chose to switch.

The colloquialism issue could have been resolved by picking a couple of obvious characters - like the boat guys - and made them as Steve Irwin as she liked... it would have given space and presence to the novel without looking like trying too hard.

The tense issue? Unforgivable.

The premise is a good one, the concepts of moral accountability; the isolation that might make people make decisions that they would not have had they been firmly attached to a community, rather than isolated on a rock and away from prying eyes, makes for some pretty hard questions. 

One of which is how not being accountable to the view of a community could sway a situation.

The technical issues though hold this book back for me, although I can see that the book has already gained a lot of traction so I am likely to be firmly in the minority on this. Nonetheless: even though the premise was immense I can only give it a 3 out of 5... at best.

The Dog Stars - Peter Heller

I wish that I could say that someone recommended this book to me.

I wish that there was someone I could figuratively walk up to and thank for telling me about this it.

I stumbled upon it late one night while letting my kindle roam the book lists. I saw it and on a whim hit the purchase button.

What a great find.

It's hard to describe the book without giving a whole lot away, so I won't go in to great detail:

After a flu epidemic, and then - just to make sure - a liberal round of blood poisoning wiped out 99.5% of the world's population, those that survive do what they have to do.

Staying alive is paramount, but the book also alludes to the processing of the grief of loved-ones lost, along with the moral switch that occurs to enable people to carry on and survive the horrors that they have had visited upon them, along with the violence they must inflict upon others that come within the boundaries of tenuous safety.

Unlike "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy - there is some working infrastructure left, and the Narrator, a writer-turned-building-contractor, has use of a plane, (he lives in a rural airport in Colarado) the company of his dog Jasper, and the sometimes overbearing protection of a professional survivor and only human cohabitant - Bangley.

The immediate nature of their lives is counterpoint to the slow unfurling of information about "before".

Brutal, and never without a sense of impending failure or loss the book still manages to deliver some magnificent image-scapes and explores the nature of personal relationships in impossible circumstances.

The writing style is not your run of the mill layout, and takes a couple of pages to get used to - but if the reader lets go of some of the literary  rules that they might expect, and the allow that this is a narrative of an articulate man speaking in his own and honest voice, the rewards are immense.

Available in paperback or Kindle.

US and most other places, get yours here:

UK folk - here's your link.:

Want a free paperback edition? Live in the USA? Come on in...

NOTE: This offer has sadly expired. "Yay" for those that got on to it though!

Back from my travels and refreshed. The adventures I've had, places seen, and people met have left me revitalised, and so ready to start writing again I could burst.

The thing about being self published, though, is that there is always the Albatross of the previous book looming  nearby. The cord attached to it, tightens every time I look away - the connection has a tendency to choke... to stifle the creative process of the new.

So, what am I to do?

I've decided to get some books into peoples hands.

I'll be writing a post about the $500 lesson I learned regarding some social media decisions I made a month or two ago, so without going in to detail, and thus turning this post in to that one, the guts of it is this:

I could have spent five hundred bucks on books, and actually had them in peoples hands to read, and love and talk about.

But I didn't.

Now I aim to rectify that. Although I no longer have five hundred clams to foist at the printer, I will be able to send at least a few to you fine folk out there in the actual world. As opposed to the non-world we inhabit here in the great data stream that is the internet.

I'm talking paperback here, people. Not a kindle promo. Not a .pdf file to squint at on your computer.

A book. A real, book. From a printer.

You get the point.

The way the printing distribution thing goes this offer is only valid to USA folk. Don't hate me "rest of the world", blame the system. It is one that is quite limiting, from an Author-buy-dropship point of view, except to the states, where it is fast and easy.

I have a VERY modest (small) marketing budget now so numbers are limited - to 50. Now... don't think "oooh I'll be too late for this offer" because everyone will say that. Send an email anyway, you might be lucky!


Send an email to: athwebber+freeUSA@gmail.com
With the subject "I want one" and your postal address.

IMPORTANT: Copy and paste the email exactly as it is, athwebber+freeUSA@gmail.com - include the plus sign. Trust me. It will work, even if it looks weird.

That's about it. Oh... except that I intend to try out the Middle Eastern postal Gods, and send a signed bookmark to each of the lucky book aquire-ers. But that's a fingers crossed kind of thing. Not that I won't post the bookmarks I will, but whether they get to your address in the next decade is debatable. Thankfully the books will all be coming to you from within the US.

Get on it.

Charities announced...

Right, so July is marching on and on... and it's about time I mentioned the charities that the cash will be going to, so without further rambling:

http://www.womenheart.org/ gets the heart vote, and doubles up for Melanie, who the book is dedicated to...

http://www.cancerresearch.org/ for my and behalf of my friends who have won, and lost to the bastard that is cancer.

The last charity is up for grabs and I'll gladly take suggestions - the only requirement that I will make of it is that it needs to be depression/bi-polar related. Because that's what I said at the beginning and I am always true to my word.

I am just finding it hard to get hold of a charity that rates well from a financial point of view. Who knew that trying to foist money at a charity would be fraught with such challenges.

If I had it over I would have chosen a "buy a family a flock of chickens and goats and stuff" charity instead.

But the thing about the internet is that once it's out there it's out there.

Send any suggestions for the third charity to athwebber @ gmail.com. Or leave them here. Either way is fine.

UK  and Australian residents: If you want to keep your charity within your respective countries, just let me know by sending a copy of your purchase receipt and I'll pick a charity in each country to hand over to (will post my charity receipts up here in the interests of full disclosure).

NOW - I have not contacted any of these charities directly, and am working in an autonomous fashion.

I don't want to jump through hoops, I just want to hand over cash.

So where are we at?

Where are we for the wonder of social media and the potential it holds?

*drumroll please*


That's right, 21 sales for all of July.

Sure, I've been completely reliant on social media as a bit of an experiment (more on that in another post) but the response has been a little less than was expected.

I won't bore you with the details, BUT July is not over and even if I don't sell another book I am going to take it upon myself to give $100 to the above charities - primarily out of sheer embarrassment. (more on that in the aforementioned "another post")

SO.. it's up to you fine folk who have already read it, or are considering reading it, to get the word out.

This could be a really good thing.

Book of the month...

And so the day has arrived.

What day?

The day that Erasure gets listed as 'book o' the month' on the much visited, irreverent blog, Blogging Dangerously. It's a fun blog, sometimes with a serious message, but mostly about the trials and tribulations of a Mother, Wife, Lover and a personal device called Carmen Electra (more recently usurped by another device called Siri, and we aint talking apples here).

Yes, the fabulous Kit will be singing the book's praises to her connections and, more importantly, adding it to her book club.

Most exciting.

What is more exciting is that for all of July I'll be donating $1 from every book sale to a yet to be decided charity. For those of you who aren't enjoying the wonder that is a published book of one's own, $1 equates to either 50% or 80% of the total after tax proceeds from each book. (depends which country you order from).

Yes, I know I currently reside in a country without a tax system, but because I sell my book exclusively through American owned/based companies, they hold 30% in tax for me. Well, not FOR me, they collect it on my behalf, hopefully it will go to repairing a pothole in a road somewhere. That would be far too wonderful.

I know. you'd think that there was more in the bucket wouldn't you? Well there is, but amazon take a large scoop of it, then tax what's left. Which is perfectly fine, in fact I'm only banging on about it so you, dear reader, don't think I'm using the charity angle to make a stack of cash for myself thus enabling me to get my yacht/gold-plated-porpoises ensemble.

Yet to be decided charity?
The idea of charity is a tricky beast. Well, not charity itself, but the decision on which charity to lob wads of cash at.

  • The book is dedicated to Melanie, a friend of mine who died last year at age 30 of heart disease. So a heart charity is an obvious choice.
  • I've also had friends fight and beat cancer in the last couple of years, so for me that's a tick as well.
  • Depression and related illness? Yup, a little too much experience with such things, so that's a tick too.

See what I mean?
It's a little too, choosey if you take my meaning. Depending on the amount that is accrued I'll probably split it between suitable charities from the check-list above.

Nonetheless there will hopefully be a sizeable wad to disperse at the end of the month, and I'm up for any input people might wish to add. If it's too personal a thing for you to add your suggestions to the blog, shoot me an email to athwebber at gmail dot com. (apologies for the spelled-out email thing, but having a post primarily about charity will have the search bots filling my inbox with junk otherwise)

It would be a dream to be able to donate a thousand bucks. And  impossibly fantastic if at the end of the month there was 50k to disperse to charities - but I'll take what I can get. It really depends on how much people are willing to talk about the whole concept, and how much they recommend the book for July.

Kit won't have posted her links/got the ball rolling yet - due to time differences etc. but please feel free to get the ball rolling. Simply share this post with whatever social media stream takes your fancy, OR if you have any better ideas, try them out.

The book can be purchased in Kindle format AND paper back at:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0087QG37S - US Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Erasure-series-ebook/dp/B0087QG37S - UK Amazon.

All other readers (and for those who simply prefer to buy their eBooks from anywhere BUT Amazon, smashwords has you covered: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/167457

More news as it comes to hand. (along with a less wordy post)

Erasure gets put up for book of the month.

It's a slog, but an interesting one.

Next up in the adventures of Erasure-as-a-book-to-be-sold as opposed to Erasure-as-a-book-to-sit-quietly-in-the-ether is the impending situation of it being listed by the fabulous Kit from BloggingDangerously.com.

Details as they come to hand, but we've agreed that there should be some charitable component to the sale of the book.

Sure, I could just discount the hell out of it for the book club fest that will follow, but I like the idea of the discount cash going somewhere.

I also like the idea of a book being valued, and am a little concerned with the state of play in the 2.99  eReader lists.


We shall see -  I'd love to be in the very rare position to be handing over 50k to a charity, but will be happy will 500.

Or 50.

Or something.

Exciting, no?

Self Publishing: The story so far

"You should totally write a book."

The call from many a fan after reading my adventures about searching for coffee in a new country.

"Should I though?" was my usual answer.

It's fine attempting to be humorous on the pages and posts of a reasonably well attended blog, but a work of fiction is a whole other bag of clams.

Nonetheless, I did, and I am really happy with the result and hope to be as happy with the further instalments of the Erasure series.

On getting older...

I turn 40 today...

...and I am liking it.

While my distaste for birthdays during my twenties confounded my friends and family, getting to thirty was a turning point for me, and for the last decade I have enjoyed the natural progression of years that inevitably comes around every 365 days or so. (taking leap years into account)

More so in the last couple of years after the great-big-dose-of-perspective train pulled into bon anniversaire station (I know, bask in my use of French). The metaphoric train was driven by a guy who I passed every Saturday on the way in to my apartment building.

His name is Charles.

Erasure, out now on Kindle and all other eReaders.

After much teeth gnashing, and a couple of heart stopping moments when it appeared that Amazon were going to drag their feet, at long last the book is available.

Hundreds of hours went in to the writing, editing, re-editing... sending it to someone else to edit - changing things, and the list goes on and on and ON!

But it's on Amazon and smashwords now, and available for any device that can stick a thing on a screen.

You can find it right now at:
 Amazon.com  (links to the book page) Direct to Kindle (or if you have an iPad, go to your App Store and download the free Kindle app for iPad THEN go to Amazon.com to buy the book.

Or if you live in a country that has issues with internationally distributed books through Amazon, you can get a copy at smashwords.com where versions are available for all book readers. No matter which way you go the price is the same.

What is the price? Glad you asked - for the launch weekend Erasure will be available for 2.99... so if you are interested, get in while you can. It will be going up to 4.99 or 5.99 after the weekend, so it won't be THAT much more, but everyone loves a bargain, hey?

Lastly - if you do have access to the Amazon version, please just grab the kindle version from there, it'll help the ranking of the book immensely.

BUT I'll be ecstatic either way.

Don't forget to review the book (after you've read it of course) ...

...and thanks.