Ocean of Dust Kindle FREE Sat 10th/11th only)

For this weekend ONLY, you can get the Kindle edition of Ocean of Dust Free! Tell your friends. Enjoy! (And if you do, please leave a review ? )


Get For Free



Ocean of Dust Audiobook Blog Tour

BBT Ocean of Dust Banner copy

My Ocean of Dust audiobook is going on tour between the 7th and 25th of this month – a sort of post-Independence Day parade. A bunch of great blogs are taking part, pretty much one a day. The full list is below.

Why not visit and support some of these review blogs. They’re a great way to learn about cool new books to read. If you do, you can also read and listen to some excerpts from Ocean of Dust. Plus… a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.


Ocean of Dust now on Audiobook


The title says it all: Ocean of Dust is now available on audiobook. My narrator, Becky Doughty, did a fantastic job bringing each character alive. You can hear a free sample on Amazon or Audible.

Check it out here:


Coming soon on iTunes too, and you can also find it on the UK stores for Amazon and Audible. If you make Ocean of Dust the first book you buy when opening a new Audible membership then I get a bonus!

Please tell your friends that love audiobooks, thank you.


Audiobook of “Ocean of Dust” – In Production

oceanofdustaudiobook250 I talked all last year about an audiobook version of Ocean of Dust, and it is finally in production! At left is the cover art, a little different to the book versions because audiobook covers are square.

Below is a sample to whet your appetite, but first a little bit about the production. The narrator is the wonderful Becky Doughty. She and her husband recently started an audiobook production service called BraveHearts. I love what I’ve heard of her narration so far – very expressive and fun, and I can’t imagine how she keeps all the different voices in her head. Pop over to her site if you want to hear samples of her reading from other books.

We’re collaborating using Amazon’s awesome ACX service, and the audiobook will be available on Amazon (obviously), and iTunes.

We’re shooting for a release in April this year. Watch this space!

BraveHeartsAnd as promised, here’s a sample from near the beginning of Chapter 2 where Lissa and the snobby boy Lyndon are chained on a boat dock:



Video Reading from “Ocean of Dust”

Happy Sunday everyone. Most of my friends know that I’m pretty introverted (maybe that’s why I like writing?), so I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try video blogging. Below is my first attempt, and I thought it fitting to read a short excerpt from Ocean of Dust. I hope you enjoy it, or at the very least have a good laugh because I’m a dork. :) Either way, it should brighten your Sunday.



Ocean of Dust: Sketch of ship

A little whole ago I published some awesome anime-inspired pictures of Lissa and Alice.

I’ve been digging into my files and here’s some more Ocean of Dust art. This one is a sketch of the ship I did early on when writing the book. I warn you, it’s very crude but it does give an impression of how the flux vanes were lowered off the ship’s sides. In case you are eagle-eyed, yes it does resemble a sword fishing boat. Click to see a larger version. ShipSketch520w


Ocean of Dust: Glossary

Final147x220Have you read Ocean of Dust and wondered what all those strange words meant? I thought about including a glossary in the book, and might add one for a future revision. Meanwhile, for your edification, here it is. It includes characters and a handy pronunciation guide. Isn’t it funny when you pronounce something one way, and then realize the author intended something entirely different. Let me know which ones you got wrong in the comments. Enjoy. :) Oh, and don’t miss the link to some piccies at the end.

Adilo  – (a-DEE-low) Base star of the Drakbar constellation. Brightest star in the sky, a deep orange colour.

Aggleberry  – Blackberry-like fruit used to make pies.

Alice  – 16-year old galley girl.

Anjan  – Main God of the people.

Azk-ore  – Radioactive stone that can be heated to high temperatures if agitated by Flux energy. Perfect for ovens.

Bandit  – Popular card game.

Bardas  – Sailor with bulging eyes and a serpent tattoo on his cheek.

Bell  – One hour.

Bem-spice – Sweet flavouring, a little like ginger.

Blab  – Burly, bald sailor.

Branda  – (BRAN-da) 12-year old Valinese girl. Lissa’s best friend.

Carg  – Scrawny sailor.

Cook  – Her real name is Madam Margaret, but most people call her Cook. Gaunt, skeletal woman.

Coy  – 13-year old boy.

Crawlie  – Spider.

Crew Chief  – See Sam.

Criandor  – (cree-AN-door) Ship’s Physiker. Elderly man with grey air, spectacles and a cane.

Dajech  – (da-JEK) Herb that induces sleep.

Deckbones  – Dice game played with cubes carved from bone.

Drakbar  – A star constellation shaped like a double V.

Druja — (DREW-ja) Country on the western continent. Drujans are obvious by their curly hair, dazzling yellow eyes and that men and women wear ear and hair jewelry.

Echpla  – (ESCH-pla) Valinese curse word.

Dujin  – Coin.

Edap  – Third largest of the 4 moons.

Eight-day  – One week.

Eldap  – Smallest of the 4 moons.

Eldrar  – Larger of the twin suns, blue/white in colour.

Etra  – Country north west of Markka, home of the University of Flux Navigation.

Fair Maiden of Yamin, The  – Captain Porrensa’s trading ship on the Dust Ocean.

Fak  – Red powder, sweet, addictive, often used to flavour Gej-juice.

Farq  – (FARK) Ship Master. Weasely-faced , cruel man. Wears a single brunette braid that reaches the middle of his back.

Flux  – Electro-magnetic currents that flow beneath the Dust Ocean, harnessed by ships using metal plates called Flux Vanes, and then used to power and move the ship.

Gal-mas  – A fealty that one person swears to another, to serve them until the end of their days.

Gardens of Eternity  – A sanctuary for the dead, prior to travelling to Heaven. Dead souls are ferried by the servants of Anjan to the second moon, Labago.

Gej-juice  – Yellow/green coloured cold drink.

Gilli-grass  – Used in the care of livestock, a hay-like grass.

Globelight  – A crystal-like orb that can store power when charged by Flux, and release it as light.

Goballian  – Principality west of Pelen.

Gobar  – Chief port city of Goballian.

Gowser-monkeys  – Agile apes that swing through trees.

Grad  – Large sailor with a thick brown beard.

Hoobin  – Beet vegetable.

Hossiw  – (HOSS-eww) Fortified, spiced wine.

Imyan  – (IM-yan) The native people of Us-imyan.

Indar  – Smaller of the twin suns, yellow in colour.

Jab-bird  – Tasty, turkey-like birds.

Jalak  – Its leaf is used to make a hot, stimulating drink, like tea.

Jaleraj  – (JAL-eh-RAJ) Chief port in Patraj.

Jancid  – (JAN-sid) Elderly, white-haired sailor.

Jeffsa  – 12-year old boy, one of Mampalo’s navigation students.

Jeranda  – Kingdom in which lies Lissa’s home town of Pelen.

Jherodan – Large nut, like a coconut with yellow, edible flesh inside.

Kee-shar  – Klynak phrase for the ship’s Captain, literally “leader”.

Klynaks  – Squid-like creatures that live in the Dust Ocean. They have brown domed heads with 4 stumpy horns that glow green from within.

Labago  – (la-BAY-go) Second largest of the 4 moons, white, about twice the brightness of Venus.

Lan – Tuber vegetable.

Lanaling  – Herb used to soothe pain.

Logay  – Stew.

Lyndon  – (LIN-dun) 14-yr old son of a rich merchant of Pelen.

Lyssa  – (LISS-a) Heroine. 14-year old girl with long, auburn hair.

Mampalo  – (mam-PAH-low) Also referred to as Mamp. 18-year old ship’s officer. A Drujan.

Margaret, Madam  – See Cook.

Markka  – Country to the west of Goballian.

Medepo  – (meh-DEEP-o) Largest of the 4 moons, orange in colour and about 1/4 size of Earth’s moon.

Moon-cycle  – One month, or 45 days.

Mulan  – Hairless livestock, larger than a goat but smaller than a cow.

Mursch  – (MURSH) “Amazing” in Valinese.

Nab  – Sailor.

Nib  – Sam’s second. Cocky and mean and disliked among the crew.

Oban  – (oh-BARN) Ship’s navigator. Haggard, with weathered skin and horrible, pulsing blue veins. Dirty, almost purple eyes.

Oglon  – Bison-like animals that can be eaten or used to pull carts.

Oodspal  – A breakfast something like grits or porridge.

Pastoy  – Spicy, creamy dip that resembles hummus.

Patraj  – (peh-TRAJ) Country north-east of the uninhabited island.

Pecknut  – Green-shelled nut that tastes like a pecan. Often used to make pies.

Pelen  – Town where Lissa, Pete and Lyndon are from, in the country of Jerranda.

Pete  – 13-year old boy.

Physiker  – (FIZZ-ick-ker) See Criandor.

Porrensa  – (puh-REN-sah) Captain of The Fair Maiden of Yamin. Wears a pair of brunette braids that reach his waist.

Pwam – Mango-like fruit. The green-blotched rind is inedible and gives the runs. The pale, chewy interior is delicious.

Quarter  – 15 minutes.

Sakdra  – Woodwind instrument like an oboe. Valinese women play a unique version of this instrument fashioned entirely from crystal.

Sam  – Crew Chief on board ship. Huge, giant of a man with a drooping black beard tied into two braids with purple ribbons.

Sawall  – (sah-WALL) Young, balding sailor.

Sebar  – Canine.

Seben  – (SEE-ben) Young sailor.

Shee-amar  – “tit for tat” in Valinese.

Ship Master  – First officer that reports only to the Captain. See Farq.

Sigilits  – (SIJ-ee-lits) Guitar-like instrument.

Soapsand  – Sand that foams and cleans when damp.

Solag  – Brown-haired, pig-like livestock.

Spoola  – Root vegetable with a buttery taste.

Sunturn  – One year, or 15 Moon-cycles, or 675 days.

Sweet-crystals  – Sugar.

Tagrak  – Mountain lion.

Tarba  – Ship’s officer, wears a short, blonde ponytail.

Totalamon  – God of the sea or ocean, often abbreviated to “Totey”.

Us-imyan  – (OOS-IM-yan) Small island in middle of the Dust Ocean, acts as a trading center.

Valin  – (VAH-lin) Country on southern continent. Valinese (like Branda) are short, almost elfin people. Girls usually have short-cut blonde hair and tattoos on their forehead.

Vraschatta  – (vra-SHAT-tah) “Good Night” in Valinese.

War-blit  – Huge, hornet-like insect, its body covered in red stripes.

Y’Seliche  – (EE-sell-EESH) Tall and thin creatures of enormous intelligence, often used as advisors and ambassadors.

Yat  – Fat and ugly sailor.

Zrak  – (zz-RACK) Large lizard, about 4 feet long with a sharp horn in its forehead. Its eyes seem to glow green.


Pictures of Lissa and Alice drawn by Jilliane, a friend of the family.



Why my book was free for 5 days

KDPS I recently made Ocean of Dust FREE for 5 days on Kindle. Worldwide, anyone could obtain my book for absolutely nothing. Um… aren’t I writing books to make money? Well yes… and no. Why (and how) did I make my book free to so many people?

First the How

Most authors, especially in the Indie scene, are familiar or at least have heard of Amazon’s KDP Select program. It has two components:

  1. You make your book(s) exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. Your book is entered into their Kindle Owners Lending Library, meaning that subscribers to Amazon Prime (incidentally one of the best time and money savers on the planet!) can borrow your book on the Kindle for free. Amazon actually pays you for these too.
  2. For 5 days, any time within that 90 days, you can make your Kindle Book free. This is optional but usually the primary reason authors put their books into KDPS, as we will see below.

The caveat to this program is that your book has to be exclusive to Amazon. That means you must withdraw your book from all other distributors, i.e. Kobo, Nook, SmashWords, Apple’s iBooks etc. Authors, consider this carefully. By un-publishing your book from other distributors you are limiting your audience to Kindle users only, and buying in to the idea of a monopoly, albeit a limited 90 day one. After 90 days, you can either extend your time in KDPS or withdraw, and are then free to re-publish your book through other distributors. Caveat: Doing so negates any ranking you might have built with them, and your book starts from scratch again.

So Ocean of Dust remains in KDPS at its usual $2.99 price point until December 18th, and then I will withdraw from KDPS and re-publish across all formats. Ideally I want my book available in all formats. I am a firm believer in healthy competition and a reader’s freedom to choose any ebook device.

Why give my book away?

As a debut author, my experience was typical of 95% of first time Indie publishers. After almost a year, sales on my book were flagging. The reviews on Ocean of Dust remain high (4.7+ out of 5) and I am thrilled to have received very kind words from readers. The largest problem debut authors face is getting known, getting the book in front of more people. Audience is far more important than sales, especially in the early days when an author has to earn the respect and loyalty of readers one by one.

So I needed a big promotion. There are literally thousands of services that can help promote an author and his book, but there is one kind of promotion that beats all: Something for nothing! Who can turn that offer down? :) OK, so I could have just made my book free on all formats and promoted it thus. That would work great, but KDPS offers something even better: Book charts that are read by millions of people.

Here’s how that works. Make a book free on KDPS and promote it. As people download it, it starts to climb up the charts, maybe from #10,000 in the Fantasy category to #2000. More downloads, higher ranking. Amazon is smart. They put those rankings right on the book page so a reader can view them. Everyone likes to check out a popular book, right? Once the book hits the Top 100 then the lists become more visible, and downloads increase. The Top 10 lists are constantly checked by savvy readers.

Technical details aside, the more people I can get to download the book, the more people hear about me. Simple!

Sort of. Just being in the Top 10 doesn’t mean an automatic download. The book needs to have a compelling title, cover and interesting blurb. Never skimp on those things.  Also, we all know that downloading a free book doesn’t mean that it will get read. Some people just like free things, others want to get it before the price goes up. It might languish on their Kindle for weeks, months, even years. If just 10% of all downloads are read, I have just increased my audience considerably. And if it isn’t read… well, they probably wouldn’t have bought it anyway. It’s a win-win.

Before we go into the additional benefits, I’m sure you want to see the numbers, right?

The numbers

The highest rankings I achieved over the 5 days: (Remember these are Free charts, Paid charts are separate)

  • #44 of ALL free books on the Kindle
  • #1 in Fantasy – Swords and Sorcery
  • #1 in Teen/Young Adult

I’m very happy with that.

Country Downloads
USA 6406
Germany 161
UK 154
Canada 42
India 13
France 3
Brazil 3
Italy 2
Japan 1
TOTAL 6785

I know, we are used to seeing bestsellers in the millions, making these numbers look pitiful, but these are many times my previous sales.

Other Benefits

  • The Germany and India numbers were a large surprise. The UK I expected. I have since been contacted by over a dozen readers in Germany who have read and enjoyed the book. My first major push into a non-English country. :)
  • I was also surprised just how many people read the book in the first couple of days. That supports my theory that getting the book in front of people does work.
  • Within days, my social media numbers increased: Facebook, Twitter, visitors to my site, adds to GoodReads, subscribers to my newsletter. I’m sure these will continue to increase over the coming months as more folk get around to reading the book.
  • I have received dozens and dozens of notes from people wanting to know when my next book came out. That to me is the real success: turning casual readers into fans.
  • Even if a person did not download my book, they likely saw my name on the Kindle charts. When they see my next book, hopefully that spark of recognition will make them more likely to look further.
  • Most importantly, I have already made a bunch of new friends, readers and authors, since my promotion.

More on Promotion

A huge, huge thank you to everyone who helped me promote the giveaway by telling your friends, sharing my posts, tweeting etc. You guys helped big time, and I really do appreciate it!

This last bit is for the benefit of Indie authors. A friend did a similar KDPS  experiment a couple of weeks before mine. My numbers were much higher. Not because I had the better book, but because I took a few extra steps than he, and I strongly advise you do similar if considering 5-free days on KDPS:

  • Investigate the hordes of web sites that will promote your book, particularly those specializing in Kindle freebies. A google search will show a ton of them. Most are free. I used 12 such services for a total of $20. Choose carefully and be sure to go for the ones that operate email lists. If someone has subscribed to a list, they are obviously hungry for books.
  • Approach the bigger names like Bookbub. They operate genre-specific email lists and some of them have a quarter of a million subscribers on them.
  • Post to all the social media sites. This should go without saying. If you’ve been reciprocating sharing and tweeting for fellow authors, they are going to be happy to help you spread the word.
  • If you are sending emails, e.g. a newsletter, or to friends or family, be careful how you phrase your promotion. “FREE for 5-days only” is likely to hit spam filters, so be creative.
  • The one thing I didn’t do, and should have, was a Facebook Ad. For a small cost you can hit a huge number of people.


KDPS is widely debated among authors, some claiming incredible success, others none. I am extremely happy with the publicity I received for $20. :)

Would I do it again? Not if I am consistently selling across all ebook formats. If I had a well-received book whose sales are flagging, then maybe.


[KDP Select and the graphic above are trademarks and copyright of]



Best offer on Ocean of Dust

Final200x300 Happy Saturday everyone!

First off, thanks to all of you for your support since starting my author “career” almost a year ago. I really appreciate your kind words, reviews, comments and spreading the word.

For everyone who has been thinking about reading Ocean of Dust but hasn’t gotten around to it, it is now FREE on Kindle for 5 days only, starting today. You can’t get a better deal than that. Please tell your friends.

Thanks everyone!


Who wants to write a book blurb?

Final147x220Who thinks they can write a book blurb?

I’m considering re-doing the blurb for Ocean of Dust, and it would be really fun to see what you come up with. I’ll give away signed paperbacks to anyone whose snippets I use. I might combine several of your pieces into one. This is open to anyone, whether you’ve read the book or not, though those that have clearly possess an advantage.

Here’s the existing blurb:

Fourteen-year old Lissa is snatched from her home and finds herself a slave on a trading ship traveling on a waterless ocean of nothing but gray dust. A feisty, curious and intelligent girl, her desire to explore the ship earns her the hatred of the cruel first officer, Farq.

Fascinated by the ocean of dust, Lissa becomes embroiled in its mysteries, sensing things that the crew cannot, while cryptic whispers in her head are leading her toward a destiny linked to the dust itself. Only one man aboard can help her make sense of her new talent, but can she trust him? All is not as it seems, and she must unravel the clues before it’s too late.

When a sinister plot casts her adrift on the barren ocean, her best friend is left in the hands of the treacherous crew. Everything hinges upon her courage, quick wits, and her ability to master her new talent.

Post your blurb in the comments, or email it, either works. Go on, have some fun!

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