Swallows & Amazon : The super summer of 2012 and what Saffina Desforges did next

They say hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I say:

Who needs hindsight when you have the internet?

These days, I am very careful about what I write. Always. I know several authors/bloggers that have quickly come to regret comments on facebook or twitter or had to backtrack on statements made six months ago on the barely-still industry we have the pleasure of being involved in.

Abraham Lincoln was a wise man indeed when he warned us:

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

No, nowadays, it really is best to listen and learn. What was true yesterday might be ridiculed a week on Friday. Publishing changes quicker than Ussain Bolt running a bend and what you really need is a crystal ball.

That, or cahones as big as shot puts and the nerve to write and publish whatever it is you like – and to hell with the rapidly becoming redundant gatekeepers! 😉

Speaking of balls of steel, what a summer it’s been eh? For Great Britain especially. We have had a wondrous summer of sport and music; Diamond Jubilee, the Euro’s and the unforgettable Olympic games.

The Paralympics has recently started and in a few days the closing ceremony will lower the curtain on a season that will be remembered by a generation for many, many years to come. I for one am dreading the imminent post-summer hangover that will start as the nights pull in and you watch the last swallow take to the skies for another year…

But panic not! After Summer comes Autumn, which means Halloween.

Halloween gives way to Bonfire/Guy Fawkes night and no sooner have the sparklers fizzled out and the embers died on the bonfires, then the countdown to Christmas begins…

And so we do it all again.

We find ourselves another year older (you have no idea how much dread the thought of my next birthday celebration fills me with! I cannot be forty, I CANNOT be forty) and hopefully, wiser and the seasons continue to change.

It’s been that way always.

What you do with it is another matter.

Since I last posted on this official blog (for a weekly dose of  my hugely popular Banning the Bullsh*t blog, go here) quite a few things have happened, not least, in the publishing industry.

The already-mighty ‘zon joined forces with the weedy-by-comparison (in the digital publishing stakes) Waterstones in a huge one-eighty that left lots of people frantically stuffing their ill-thought words back in their mouths and going back on previously professed declarations of abhorrence for the Kindle (see earlier statement about thinking before you speak/type/tweet) and with more than a smidge of egg on their faces. Still, it will no doubt have a huge impact on digital publishing in the year to come.

Enter the only other (but slightly battle-worn) worthy opponent into the digi-arena to have one last crack at the ‘zon with its patched-up sling-shot.

Barnes & Noble have just announced that the Nook will be gracing our shores come October and not only has it got software giant Microsoft in its corner, but it’s had a make-over too and the new-look-Nook has a trick up its sleeve. A secret move that may just catch Amazon square on the jaw and leave the ref pounding the canvas in a ten-count.

It glows.

Yes. Not only does it have up-to-date eInk technology, but it allows you to do the one thing that the Kindle can’t without performance enhancing asssitance. You can read it in the dark.

B&N aren’t stupid. Rumour has it that they have hand-picked three MONSTER retailers in the UK to help them in the war against Amazon, John Lewis and Argos being their best-equipped allies.

You can read all about it here.

So what does that mean for us mere minions? Well, as writers, it can only be good news, right? What with Kobo allowing us to directly upload to their sites and these two beasts fighting it out for supremecy it only provides more ways for us to get our books in front of readers, wherever they decide to download them from and whatever device they select to read them on.

So everything’s groovy and being a writer now is the best time ever to earn your millions?

No. Not unless you wrote ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and didn’t tell anybody.

Why? Precisely because of the above.

There are more books than ever before digitally available and more places to get them from, so unless you are already very well-known and have the rights to a massive backlist and want to stick them out there for twenty pence a pop or have a huge publisher with an even bigger marketing budget behind you, you’re gonna have to work harder than ever to get your books noticed. And then some.

So how do we do it?

Sorry, I don’t have a draft ready to stick on (insert your preferred digital platform here but discount others at your peril) entitled ‘A guaranteed best-seller in forty eight hours without paying for reviews or writing mummy-porn or your money back’…all I can tell you is what Saffina Desforges is doing next. The rest, you’ll need the aforementioned crystal ball for… and a big dose of luck!

A few days ago we clinched our very first Amazon.COM category #1 with a book that is totally out of our comfort zone. Soooo un-Saffi’fied that unless you looked closely, you wouldn’t even know it was one of ours.

Anca’s  Story  is no-holds-barred, Young Adult, Historical, literary fiction. If you’re gonna stick a label on it.

Some time back, we were told by an uber-respected agent (not our current agent, I might add) that we couldn’t release anything  that ‘wasn’t a crime thriller’ and we were ‘risking literary suicide’ if we did so.

Anca’s Story has only been out a couple of months and is selling very well thank you, on both sides of the pond and will soon be available on all digital platforms and in paperback on Amazon.

For the next five days in the UK/Europe, you can get Anca’s Story FREE here (UK).

And here for France

And for Germany here.

Just a little thank you to our loyal Brit’/European readers and a final hoorah before we take it out of KDP Select. That is one for another day…

Within the next fortnight, the second book in our Rose Red crime thriller series, ‘Rapunzel’ will be available on Amazon and within the next month, Kobo, Waterstones and iTunes, plus a handful of other retailers. Book One, ‘Snow White’, plus ‘Sugar & Spice’ will also be available in paperback from Amazon in time for Christmas.

Look out on Amazon for the first in our new short story series, Rose Red Rhymes too.

‘Ring-a-ring o’roses’ will be out in October!

See? There is no magic formula. We just keep writing and writing what we think readers want to read.

And we make sure they are in as many places at possible.

Oh, and a couple of other things we have learned along the way and we might have mentioned before:

  • Get a great cover
  • Write an exciting blurb
  • Get your book proof-read. Upload a clean version of your book and if readers find mistakes, correct them and upload a new version until it’s as perfect as can be
  • Keep the price affordable

Other than that, just keep writing!

Write blogs, tweet, write posts on facebook, comment on other blogs.

Write short stories, write under a pseudonym, write local newspaper articles, write guest blogs, write goddam erotica if you’re good at it and you think your readers will like it (your current readers might not, but new readers might, then they might read your other stuff!) hell, write chic-lit or  fantasy if the mood takes you, as long as you’re writing!

Phew! Did I mention that you should be writing?

As we speak, one of our two preferred cover designers is beavering away on some new stuff for our late 2012/2013 releases (you can find links to Athanasios and Jeroen on this blog) and Jeroen has just shown us the fabulous new cover for Book three in the Rose Red Series, ‘Beauty & the beast’.

What do you think to this?



Awesome huh?

2013 is hopefully going to be another great year for Saffina Desforges and a very exciting one too!

We can’t reveal too much other than what we have already given away, but we’re going to be putting some new stuff out there that will not be what you’re expecting!

More to follow on The China Town Mysteries, The Dark Halo trilogy and a few other surprises along the way.

So what does all of this mean for the shape of publishing over the coming 12 months? Truth? We don’t know. We don’t have said crystal ball.

There will be a next-big-thing. Shades of Grey will topple at some point, the erotica market will reach saturation point and readers will be looking for something new. No-one can say what that will be. The agents and publishers don’t even know!

But I’ll tell you this for free: If you haven’t got a book out there, it won’t be you.

AND, whatever it is, you can bet your bottom dollar/pound/yen/euro that it’ll have been an ebook first.

So what are you waiting for?


Sugar & Spice: The real facts behind things not so nice… a reader’s story. The final chapter

When I first started this journey with Cheryl some months ago now, not for a second did I think this was ever anything to do with ‘Sugar & Spice’. Our story was fiction. True, it was based on extensive research and real-life events, but it was and still is, a made-up story.

When Cheryl first emailed offering her support after reading some negative reviews about the book, I was, of course, pleased that someone had finally understood the subliminal message and seen past the supposed ‘shock factor’ that many believe was the premise for the book. After exchanging numerous emails and now having met her in real life, this has become about much more than that.

Cheryl has become much more than another reader sending fan mail.

Today, Cheryl has sent me the final installment in her story. As I type this, I am consumed with an anger that knows no limits. Obvious anger at the animal at the centre of all this, who has forced Cheryl and her family to endure this living hell (but as Cheryl says, he doesn’t deserve such intense emotion, so I won’t dwell on that), at a failed justice? system and so-called support network that let them down so badly and anger at society in general, for continuing to kick these kind of stories like muck under the carpet, whistle and walk away, pretending that it isn’t there and no-one will see it.

BUT, most of all, my anger is directed at at person who I don’t even know and nor do you. Unfortunately, you will never know who that person is, but let’s just say, this person has let this family down just as badly, if not more, than everyone else involved in this case.

Cheryl knows who they are and I hope one day, they do too.

Anyway, here’s Cheryl’s final email, totally unedited (as she threatened to kill me if I did):

I received a phone call yesterday from the CPS Lawyer to explain to me why she felt they could not carry on with the proceedings, although to be honest i couldn’t take it all in on the phone so she said she would pop it in the post and I could read it through and get back to her if I had any questions. I will copy you the letter word for word so you can make your own decisions!

‘Firstly, thank you for telling ********** police about what happened to your daughter Amy. I recognise how difficult it can be to report sexual offences. As a result of police enquiries ******** was arrested for a sexual assault on Amy and the police carried out their investigations. The police have now finished their inquiries and I have carefully considered all of the evidence.

I have reached the conclusion that there is not enough evidence to prosecute the suspect for an offence and I have decided to stop the case.

In considering this case, I watched in its entirety the video recorded interview which was made with Amy. I also watched the video interview with your other daughter, Lily, as well as reading all of the statements and evidential material provided by the police. I want you to know that I considered the case very carefully in order to assess the position properly and in the light of all of the evidence.

Some cases are easier than others, for example if there is medical or forensic evidence to lend support to what is said, or where there is an eye witness to confirm the victim’s account. This was not such a case. If I had proceeded, it would have had to have been on the basis of what Amy herself said in her video interview. Sadly, her account was just not sufficiently detailed to give a clear picture of exactly what happened. Even making allowances for Amy’s age and the fact that it must have been very difficult for her to speak to a stranger about what had happened, I was not satisfied that her evidence was strong enough to satisfy the evidential test.

From the video evidence it was just not clear where precisely Amy had been touched, whether it was under or over clothing, how long it lasted or in what circumstances it came about. Moreover, as she described what happened as a “scratch”, this made the situation even more unclear, as she never explained what she meant by this. This term, of course, has a innocent, non sexual meaning in usual circumstance.

The final problem was the fact that nothing was said by Amy at the time.

Give the various difficulties with the evidence, I was not satisfied that there was a realistic prospect of conviction and I therefore stopped the case. It is important that you know that in deciding whether or not to prosecute I based my decision on what we could prove at court and not, as people often assume, whether I believed Amy’s account.’

The reason I first approached Saffina after I read her book was because it had got criticism, which in every walk off life we receive, its part of being human and not all agreeing! But Saffina was brave writing the book, she is a sassy and clever lady who thinks outside the box and instead of being judged for this, she needs to be praised.

Sugar and Spice was fictional, but it does happen and i wanted people to know that there are normal people out there experiencing awful things. I will now get on with my life and give my daughter all the love and support in the world any child deserves and until the police close in on these despicable and disgusting things (i can’t call them humans) it is the job for people like Saffina to bring this into our living rooms and let us know that this does exist… it does happen and too many people shy away from sexual abuse and cause it to be such a taboo subject that absentmindedly we allow it to happen.

Cheryl, whilst we thank you for your support of the book and your kind words, I think if people were to look up the definition of bravery, it wouldn’t have my name underneath it.

I sign off with one final comment and one that I ended my last email to Cheryl with:

Thank you for writing this and entrusting me with your story. I am sorry that you and your family ever had to go through this, but if there was one good thing to come out of it all, it is this: you have a new friend for life.


Raise your glass! Goodbye 2011 and what’s on the way in 2012

So, happy New Years Eve eve! 😉

By the way, that was a question?

What IS on the way for 2012?

Now, as I’ve said before, my co-writer, mystic Mark (Williams), is the one with the crystal ball, so you won’t find much in the way of predictions here on this blog, more a review and reaction to what HAS happened, not what MIGHT. For all things digital publishing and spooky speculation, check Mark’s blog out. MWi.

But here, today, let me tell you what HAS happened in 2011 and what WILL happen in 2012.

  • We were the only TRUE indie writers to make #2 in the Amazon (UK) paid store and #1 in Thrillers with Sugar & Spice
  • We sold over 125,000 books in our first year of publication
  • We set up MWiDP and now have over 100 titles from 40 odd cool writers live on Amazon
  • We made #2 on Waterstones ebook chart
  • We turned down two of the biggest lit agents in the US
  • We accepted a French translation and publishing deal for Sugar & Spice from a forward-thinking publisher who listens
  • We teamed up with some awesome people (Miriam Joy, Charley Robson and Elizabeth Ann West. Jeroen ten Berge & Athanasios to name but a few) who we are hoping to do more brilliant things with in the next year!
  • We wrote and published 4 books
  • We built (with the help of the brilliant Kristen Lamb) a social platform across several blogs, twitter, Facebook and every other social networking tool imaginable, that now reaches and connects tens of thousands of people
  • We spent our lives in front of a computer (without which, none of the above would have been possible)

We did a lot of other things too. Occasionally slept, ate and saw friends and family, but not so much of that! 😉

It’s been a blast.

So, what’s next?

  • We will release Rapunzel in the first part of 2012
  • We will release Saffina Desforges presents...Vols 2 & 3 in the first quarter of 2012
  • We will release the co-written St.Mallory’s forever! in the first quarter of 2012
  • We will release the first book of The Chinatown Mysteries, co-written with Elizabeth Ann West in the summer of 2012
  • We will release Book One in our new dark, urban fantasy trilogy for Halloween 2012
  • We will release Beauty & the Beast (book 3) and Little Red Riding Hood (book 4) of The Rose Red crime thriller series
  • We will open our new indie world bookstore IBU (indiebooksunited.com) coming soon!
  • We will release Vols 4, 5 & 6 of Saffina Desforges presents…
  • We will continue to build and grow the MWiDP cloud sharing partnership
  • We will fall out and disagree A LOT (Mark and I, that is)
  • We might even sleep
Oh and in-between all that, we’re gonna teach the world to read!
In our spare time, we were planning on finding a way to shut Justin Beiber up, but that’s secondary! 😉 (I am also doing the Four Peaks challenge in May for charity and will be bugging you all to sponsor me. Details to come)
So, we’re gonna be busy to say the least.
We are HUGELY excited about the next twelve months and we wave good bye to the last with fondness as far as our writing and publishing careers are concerned.
All that remains is to wish you and yours a Happy New Year and hope that 2012 is great for you. Oh and to ask you this:
Will you be coming along for the ride?

Robert Black: How many more? ‘Sugar & Spice’ murderer found guilty of a fourth

Well, sometimes, life never ceases to amaze me.

Here I was, after having spent all day online, promoting our authors in our new digi-publishing venture (MWiDP), blogging, checking the charts, writing about Halloween on my sister blog etc etc, looking at the news… you know, generally being a writer in the 21st century, and I see this article on the Daily Telegraph site:



This was the man (and I use the term loosely) that inspired our best-seller Sugar & Spice. This is the monstrous serial killer that caused my writing partner, Mark, so many sleepless nights. Cost him two years of his life whilst he researched him, robbed the families of three precious girls their futures.

He actually doesn’t deserve our time and thoughts.

He has been found guilty of a FOURTH murder.

Robert Black now ranks among Britain’s most prolific serial killers.

Scotland-born Black had denied murdering Jennifer Cardy in August 1981.

The nine-year-old disappeared after leaving her home at Balinderry in County Antrim to cycle the short distance to a friend’s house.

The discovery of her red bicycle sparked a six-day search.

If you’ve read ‘Sugar & Spice’, you’ll already see the similarities. Although our story is very far removed from these heinous crimes, the murders were what inspired the book that has now sold over 100,000 copies. But, there’s a difference:

Our book is fiction. Purely an idea from something real. This guy, well, he crossed the line. In fact, the reporter today called him a “lost cause of humanity”

We have been slated in some areas for how close to the mark ‘Sugar & Spice’ is and had numerous communications from police offers and social workers not liking how they were portrayed in the book. Let me tell you now, make no mistake; the research came from first-hand experience. If only things had been done differently at the time?

Anyway, I am not here to talk about that, I am here to marvel at the forensic science that has enabled this monster to be convicted yet again. A till recipe. Sheesh. I think they said nine and a half years that the parents of that little girl have had to wait for a verdict. Jennifer Cardy, today was about you and your family and the girls and families of the other victims, not him.

I know it will be of little comfort that he (no longer afforded a name, as he isn’t of this world) is convicted of one more crime, but please take heart that the nation and the world are with you. And they’re pleased. Pleased that this monster is no longer free to walk the streets. Sorry that he wasn’t stopped.

This blog is for you, Jennifer Cardy and the others, not him.

May you RIP. xxx

As for him: “He killed childhood as much as he killed children.”

Let’s hope not…

I predict a riot

Well, it’s been a pretty eventful week. Riots – everywhere.

London rioted, quickly followed by Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. Looters and mindless vandals burnt down shops and homes and helped themselves to whatever they could get their hands on.

Then they blamed it all on the government.

Only in England eh?

Personally, I have had a pretty tough month too and to top it all off, my co-writer Mark Williams landed back in Britain and wanted to work! I mean, honestly, doesn’t he know that the country is in a mess? Write? Pfft… 😉

Seriously though, we had a lot to discuss. Our new book, ‘Snow White’ comes out next week (squeeeee!), we are setting up a new venture (more on that in due course) are hoping to have some ‘Saffina Desforges presents’ short story anthologies out before Christmas (accepting submissions from indie writers. Email Mark Williams at crossingthepond@rocketmail.com) and have two or three other WIP, so things are pretty hectic!

It’s an exciting time for all writers that’s for sure. ‘Sugar & Spice’ is still selling steadily and we received news yesterday that we had made the Top 20 on the Waterstones ebook chart. How cool is that?

So it’s all go at the moment for the Saffina Desforges duo, exciting times indeed. Mark and I haven’t spent much time together, face to face, on the same continent, writing – it could get messy. In fact, I predict a riot! 😉



  • Buy Sugar & Spice from Amazon

  • Buy the French edition of Sugar & Spice (Paraphilia)

  • Buy Snow White from Amazon

  • Buy Snow White in PRINT from Amazon

  • Buy Rapunzel from Amazon

  • Buy London’s Burning from Amazon

  • Buy Ring A-Ring O’Roses from Amazon

  • Buy The Night Before Christmas from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story in PRINT from Amazon

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  • Buy ‘Awakenings’ – Book ONE of INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

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