Blog on the Bus pt 43 (et tu adversity)

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God [it’s] free at last!” And so echoed the words of the unforgettable Martin Luther King. A man ready to stand up in the face of adversity. Clearly he was referring to his fight against racism in the States in the 1960s but I don’t believe he would mind me para-phrasing to echo the point of Death Toll.

That’s right fellow bus dwellers Death Toll is free to download this weekend.

Before you threaten to lynch me for stealing an inspiring anti-racism mantra, I wish to argue the point of why I believe it is still befitting of today’s blog.


Modern writers walk in the face of it everyday. Every time I write a new word of a project I am slapping adversity in the face with a glove; challenging it to stop me.

“You’re not good enough.”

“Your story is unoriginal.”

“Your characters are paper thin.”

“You’re just not the sort of author we’re looking for.”

Okay, so my name’s not Brown, Grisham or Rowling, but does that still mean I don’t deserve the right to share my soul’s inner thoughts, feelings and dreams with the world and let them decide?

If you’ve never read any of my work, statistically there’s a 16% chance* that you’ll hate it and condemn it as the worst book you’ve ever read. (*based on the number of 1* / 2* reviews on Amazon).

Of course that leaves an 84% margin that you might just enjoy it.

I’ll let you be the judge.

But for all those rejection notices received from agents who don’t believe my writing will make them millions in commission, there is an audience (albeit a potentially small one) who actually think I’m pretty good (I’m sure they must all be on prescription medication).

Now this is not an uncommon feeling amongst the ever-growing number of indie writers out there battling to get their voice heard over the clamour.

Death Toll is a project where 5 such independent authors (Alex Shaw, Liam Saville, J H Bográn, Howard Manson and Stephen Edger) decided to link arms and stand in the face of adversity together. Death Toll is the first anthology of short stories published by a contingent of indie authors. Does that make it bad then? Well internationally best-selling authors Jake Needham and Stephen Leather don’t believe so. Jake has written the introduction and Stephen contributed 2 of his own stories.

Death Toll is available for free download from today (31 May) until Sunday (02 Jun). We are asking you to link arms with us and to help this movement grow stronger. As Martin Luther King spoke up for his cause in the 1960s, so I am standing up for talented but under-appreciated indie authors everywhere.

Join the cause.

Download a copy today.

Tell your friends about this great collection of short stories.

Re-blog this.

Tweet links to the books.

Scream it from the rooftops!

Every copy of Death Toll downloaded is a slap in the face of the major publishing houses. It’s a slap in the face of adversity too.

Until the next time, happy reading!


(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and the forthcoming Shadow Line. Find his work here or via


Blog on the Bus / Train pt 42 (break the shy habit)

Good morning to those regular bus riders and welcome to those who are embarking on their first journey. Today is a somewhat different ride to the usual ‘X4’ as today we find ourselves aboard a train heading for the bright and dizzying lights of ‘Lundun-tan’ (see I can even speak like a local). Why, I hear you clamour, well I’m on my way to meet some very important people to discuss a new project.

As I look around this carriage at the various suited travellers I’m struck by how similar they all look to the usual troop I see on the bus each morning. Each suit has his head down studying either a mobile (as indeed I am), a newspaper, a Kindle or a book. The important point to notice is that nobody is interacting with anybody else. Could it be that they are all suffering with laryngitis? I doubt it very much. So why do they sit there ignoring one another? It’s incredibly bad mannered when you think about it. Imagine if all life was like that? The trees not talking to the birds, the bees ignoring the plants, the dogs not sniffing each other’s bottoms…you get the picture. What a sad and lonely world that would be.

Before you accuse me of waffling again, I should point out that my allegory is about to reach its peak:

Seven months ago I had an idea to force my followers to become acquainted with some great independent authors (not against their will you understand). I contacted a couple of writing pals that I’ve made along this crazy and diverse path to writer-dom and proposed that we form an anthology of our work and publish it. The notion behind the project was that I would bring my audience to the table (metaphorically speaking) and they would bring their audiences too. In that capacity each of us would have the capacity to share our work with fresh eyes and hopefully make some new friends and loyal readers.

Seven months on and said project Death Toll is live and available on Kindle and in paperback for you to read.

What I should mention now is that our usual audiences (like the passengers on this train) have been a bit shy about coming forward. So, in the interests of brokering an alliance, we (the brilliantly creative authors) have decided to give away copies of Death Toll all weekend on Kindle. So now there is no excuse for you not to download this epic anthology.

Death Toll features contributions from Alex Shaw, Liam Saville, Jose Bográn, Stephen Leather and of course yours truly. It is packed full of great work and offers an aperitif of what we are all about as authors.

So, to recap, Death Toll is £free from Friday 31 May to Sunday 02 June. If you don’t already have your copy, please download it this weekend and tell your friends, family and foes (why not eh? Even assholes read!) to get their copy too.


Until the next time, happy reading.


(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and the forthcoming Shadow Line. Find his work here or via

Blog on the Bus pt 41 (strategy, strategy, strategy)

Morning fellow bus dwellers. Welcome to the ‘X4’ here in drizzly Southampton.

It’s all about strategy!

If you are looking to write a novel, you need to make sure that your plot is structured (strategy), that your characters are rounded and well-developed (strategy) and that you have the discipline to make the time to write, edit and revise (strategy). So you see it’s all about strategy!

If you are planning to publish your work, you need to design your cover right (strategy), set the right price (too high and you put off potential customers; too low and it gets lost in the mire of cheap ebooks = strategy), and you need to market / promote it to the right people (strategy).

For those who have been riding this bus blog for some time, you will know that I was part of a writing project that published an anthology of short stories last month. The project (a.k.a. Death Toll) included contributions from the brilliant Stephen Leather as well as up-and-coming talents Alex Shaw, Liam Saville, J H Bográn and of course me! It is a fantastic collection of stories of suspense, action and revenge.

We published it at nearly £4 (and whilst I assure you it is worth every penny), unfortunately the cost has deterred some.

So…we have cut the price with immediate effect! Don’t believe me? Here is the proof.

But wait a minute. I know you can’t wait to click and buy but remain patient a little longer and this weekend download it for free!

From Friday 31 May until midnight on Sunday 02 June Death Toll will be absolutely £free.

I really do encourage you to download your own copy and see how great it is. If you think I’m a decent writer (God only knows why!) then you will love my exclusive short Best Served Cold. It’s about a man who wakes one morning accused of murdering his wife with no recollection of what occurred the previous night. The other contributors each share their unique style too.

So, back to that strategy word. Here’s where I need your help.

I need you to tell your best friend, your partner or spouse, your brother, your sister, your mother and father, your son, your daughter, your uncle and aunt, your Godson, your Goddaughter, your second cousin-twice-removed, that neighbour who feeds the fish when you’re on holiday, any stranger you meet in the street: Death Toll is £free for 3 days only on Kindle!!!

I’ll be tweeting and blogging till I’m blue in the face. If you’ve ever read my work or chuckled at my blog then pay it forward and become part of our strategy to share 6 fantastic authors’ work with the wider world.

Thanks for stopping by. The bus is pulling up and it is time for me to alight. Until next time, happy reading!


(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and the forthcoming Shadow Line. Find his work here or via

Re-blog: What’s The Deal With Reviews?

Came across this post earlier. As a learning-author, who has been on the end of more than a couple of reviews questioning my ability to string words together, I can wholeheartedly affirm everything in this blog.

What’s The Deal With Reviews?.

It is soul destroying when someone describes something I’ve spent a year of my life plotting, writing and editing as “laughable” or “the worst thing I’ve ever read” (I’m quite proud of this last one to be honest as I clearly struck a nerve!)

Since taking up this writing-madness I’ve developed a far greater empathy towards other artists when it comes to the aforementioned review. I hope others will follow suit (at least then I can stop crying myself to sleep!)

Happy reading!


Blog on the Bus pt 40 (if you get lost, go back to the beginning)

Good morning dear reader. It feels like an age since we interacted and quite frankly I’ve missed you. Just to give you a catch up on the last week for me, here it is in rhyme:

Diagnosed with shingles (itchy and sore),
Still hobbling about with a broken toe (kicked a door),
May have early signs of a hernia (terribly raw),
Been to London to visit friends (didn’t break the law),
And finally decided on a new book title (hip hip hoo-raw!)

It’s the oddest feeling when I’m not writing; when I’m between projects. Gone is the desire to wake up early to rush to the office to get some writing in before work. Suddenly, I have free time for lunch but find I have nothing to do. It’s like some kind of author’s limbo.

Although the current book isn’t due for release until June, there is little I can do with it until the proof readers complete their reviews. I wouldn’t dream of starting a new project until the current one (Shadow Line) is live so this waif-like state remains.

The outline for the next project is drafted (just a couple of kinks to work through and some additional research) and I’m looking forward to starting it. But as I said I’m not due to commence that until July.

I wasn’t sure what to blog about this morning but then I noticed that this is the 40th blog entry I’ve made (if I had £1 for every blog I’d have…not much money!), so I went back and re-read the first blog post (Blog on the Bus pt 1) to see how I have changed in the last year. My spelling has improved since I turned off predictive text so that’s at least one lesson learned.

It’s strange though: I only started on this road to author-dom under three years ago and now I sit here with 5 books and 2 short stories to my name with sales in the region of 20k. This writing malarky has certainly changed my approach to life and I feel incredibly proud of how my writing is improving with each punt.

What I’ve realised since that inaugural blog entry: if I keep believing, keep trying, keep reading, keep writing, keep reviewing then one day, maybe…just maybe…I might just make it!

Thanks for dropping by. The bus driver has been glaring at me for the last two minutes. The bus is empty and I think he wants a smoke so I better alight.

Until the next time, happy reading!


Blog on the Bus pt 39 (new shoes)

Morning. As I sit on this morning’s ‘4A’ bus in discomfort I am reminded of the dilemma currently rocking my writing life.

I bought new work shoes on Sunday (bear with me…it’s one of those long, drawn-out ramble-things I do – like a poor man’s Ronnie Corbett!). My old shoes had seen better days and I found a pair I liked the look of in Asda (us writers really aren’t made of money you know) so I bought them. I wore the new chaussures to work yesterday and to my horror found that the right shoe had rubbed skin the size of a 5p coin from my heel. I’m sure you can understand the pain. But now a new day has dawned and I still need to wear shoes to work today but I don’t want to worsen my (minor) injury.

‘Why not go back to your old shoes?’ I hear you shout. As I said earlier they were no longer fit for purpose and I’ve thrown them away (bin men collected them yesterday). I can’t wear trainers to work as my office isn’t that liberal and I don’t own a second pair of shoes (I’m a writer, remember). So what do I do?

Well, I’ve put a plaster on my heel and a thicker pair of socks on my foot and have squeezed my foot in. I know it will be uncomfortable to walk around today but what other choice do I have, right?

So, onto my writing dilemma (hopefully you’ll recognise the parallel).

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook will already know I have had to scrap the title of my new novel (due out 01 June) as another better-known author has just published a short story with the same title (Dead Drop). So like with my new shoes, I need to choose a new title (did you just have one of those light bulb moments?). I have been playing around with a couple of ideas and have settled on one but like with the right shoe it doesn’t quite fit as it should and so I will need to edit my manuscript a bit to explain it’s meaning (like putting on a plaster you could say).

As with the shoe situation, I’m not in a position to return to the old title so I will have to persevere through the pain (I bet those of you who are ladies will empathise with persevering with an uncomfortable pair of shoes to maintain a look of decorum)

For now, I’m keeping the new title up my sleeve so no bugger can pinch it at the last minute! I should add that Death Toll has received it’s first 5* review and those of you who received a free copy of it can still have a £free copy of Death Toll if you post a review before 01 June.

Until next time, happy reading!


Blog on the Bus pt 38 (in search of a title)

Morning friends and welcome to this morning’s blog. My new good friend José Bográn has paid his fare and is here to share (hey maybe I should be a poet?) Over to José:

What’s in a name? From a sales point of view, it is the initial hook, a partner in crime that, along with the cover, will make potential readers interested in our novels. In short, it’s invaluable.

Invariably, when selecting a title for one of my works I must hear a “click”. No kidding. It is the actual sound of something falling into place, like the cogs of a safety box when you put the right combination. Hey, most writers claim they hear voices—their muses, why can´t I hear a click? To select a title I play with different words. Sometimes it happens before the first draft is over, other times until after the tale is told. However, they all come from me. Until now.

There’s this manuscript I began in 2006 with the working title of “Shattered Plans.” The main character, former firefighter Sebastian Martin, had lost his family in an air accident and now must make a last effort to cling to life, or at least, get a semblance of one. Yes, this is how my damaged hero begins his journey. Of course I had worse things in store for him. By the second third of the book he’s strapped to a chair facing torture at the hands of a former K.G.B. operative. I had decided that the climax of the story would be in my home country Honduras. In searching for a suitable location, I came across this little bridge over the main road.


The area of Tela had been the base of operation for the Chiquita Brand Company in Honduras—known domestically as the Tela Railroad Company. The company had developed the lands for banana plantations and, along the way, they had christened a few places with names in their native language, English. Thus, we have a small stream in a Spanish-speaking country with an English name: Highland Creek.

So, very clever of me, I renamed my novel with the same name of the location of the bad guys’ hideaway: Highland Creek. Or so I thought.

In 2012 I signed with Rebel E-publishers to release the novel. After the first round of edits, it became apparent the name didn’t evoke any images related to my plot, except to people familiar with Honduran geography.

The search for a new title took the shape of hundreds of emails back and forth with my editor: Random Casualties, Sebastian Saved, Deliverance at Highland, An Arbitrary Inception, The Rage of Angels, A Time for Rage, A Random Loss, The Implacable, Husband, The Formidable Helpmate, The Implacable Helpmate, An Authentic Rage, and a prolonged, steady, annoying Etcetera!

Nothing clicked. Did I mention already how important was for me to hear that “click”? Well, I didn’t hear it.

Then I turned to Backspace, an online forum whose motto is “writers helping writers.” I figured it was time I tested that motto. My editor and I selected five finalists. The idea was to simply run a poll and have my friends decide the winner. Yeah…easy…right? NOT!

Of course, the titles earned a few votes, but the comment section was in turmoil. Many complained that the offered titles were not a good match to the story. They said that the word “highland” didn’t sound like anything even remotely related to Hondurans. Heck, an author friend thought Highland Creek was an Irish whiskey!

Among the commentators appeared one that suggested a simple word for the title: Firefall. Well, she made other suggestions, but I heard the click. And a weird click it was because it came from a word I didn’t come up with. After I cleared it with both my editor and my publisher, it was confirmed. Catherine Lea, thank you for naming my book!

FIREFALL will be released during Fall 2013. In the meantime, I invite you to take a look at my debut novel TREASURE HUNT. Oh, and don’t miss this amazing short story collection with some awesome thriller writers (and Stephen and me) in DEATH TOLL.

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator.

You can find him on the WEB, on Twitter, and Facebook

Thanks for stopping by José, it was nice to hear from you. Until the next time, happy reading!