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State of the Experiment: An Update on Lazarus

State of the Experiment: An Update on Lazarus

On the 11th March 2011, www.Bookstogonow.com a Seattle based epublisher released The Lazarus Experiment on to the US and UK Amazon Kindle stores and the Barnes and Noble Nook Store. It remains a great point of pride to have someone look at your work, edit it with you and want to publish it (and publicise your talents). I have enjoyed the experience of going through the revision process with them – a first for me as my work for Ether Books didn’t go through a third party editing process. I had been nervous about it, not being sure how far I could push the defence of aspects of the story against the editors axe. I wanted to be published, but I wanted it to be my story that was published. The Seattle company were fully understanding and engaged on a reasoned debate. I gave on certain issues for them and they accepted my defence of other passages. The finished story, available to buy today, is undoubtedly superior, tighter and more polished than the one that debuted as a free Tuesday Serial in January. Publishing a story is only half the battle.

Does anyone actually want to read it?

I have an ideological perspective on this question. If you are interested, somebody else will be, its natural. It boils down to finding that person and getting that story in their hands. The big publishing houses will blanket advertising hoardings, subway trains, bins, web advertising, television and radio slots to find those people who are interested. For most of the small outfits and the Indy publishers, they don’t have the luxury of such a war chest. The strategy becomes refined even further to targeting each individual sale. I have used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Shelfari so far to promote The Lazarus Experiment. I have discussed it with strangers and friends of friends in bars when watching Champions League soccer and seen a direct consequence of it being a sale. They in turn have discussed it with friends and lecturers at the local University. I have reached a lot more people than I had thought possible on an advertising budget of £0.00. Not being the publisher I do not have sales figures but have been able to use the Author Central websites for the UK, US and German Amazon sites to track the sales ranking.

My Amazon.co.uk sales ranking has looked like a dodgy heart monitor, stuttering up and down every week since publication. The good news is this tells me that there are sales being made, that if I link the days when I spike (to a highest of 9,271, low of 81,363 and as of posting current rank of 26,502) then I can relate it to my marketing activity. The Amazon.com sales figures sailed consistently down since publication, giving me the distinct impression of irony that my story which was published by an American company wasn’t selling in America. That changed this Thursday when I must have shifted a fair few downloads as I lifted from an all time low of 346,821 to a four week high of 66,511.

I have learned two things from this. On the one hand not to despair when the blue line seems to be going consistently down, you won’t lose your shelf space after all, when the customer turns up they will find it. Secondly, twitter is an incredibly powerful niche marketing tool. Yes we’ve heard it before, social media is great for marketing. Its still nice to have proof in the return of dollars/euros/pounds though isn’t it?

I embraced the book trailer rather after the fact and more as an experiment than any serious effort. I realised that having a discussion page on Facebook and an advertising/networking platform on Twitter was great, but I had no presence on that other behemoth of social media – Google’s YouTube. I have no software besides the abysmal Windows Movie Maker, and no funds to purchase images so I was limited to using just the book cover, scrolling text and a voice over.

I scripted several voice overs to dramatize the plot without giving anything away and lucked out in being able to turn to my voice over producing, international DJ, father Jonathon Wesley over at www.cjmq.fm. We worked back and forth for a week on getting the sound and pacing right, his voice certainly lending considerably more credibility than my squeaky pitch. I then put everything together and published it to my Facebook profile and YouTube account. It was a good learning experience. What do you think of the effort?

I mentioned the German Amazon website. I have to thank the Mad Pulp Bastard Bill Cunningham over at Pulp 2.0 for pointing out that his recent release Frankenstein Lives Again! had surprisingly gone live on the German kindle store. I had a quick search and found my own baby The Lazarus Experiment on sale there too! I will be sure to nudge my publishers to ensure that their eBooks go out on the other Amazon sites. Even without translation there is a large English speaking audience just waiting for our material in those countries.

That pretty much sums up my activities promoting The Lazarus Experiment in the last couple of months. Remember if you are having a story published or publishing one yourself – never stop marketing it, the problem particularly with ‘streams’ is that your audience may simply not be looking one week when you plug your baby. Be proud of your accomplishment and don’t let modesty get in the way of a possible sale when your out and about. Writing is like having a kid. Takes you a set amount of time to create the thing, but your left being responsible for it for the rest of your life. Don’t neglect it!

Do you have any suggestions for ways/places I could be marketing The Lazarus Experiment?

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Publishing

 

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Bookstogonow.com publish ‘The Lazarus Experiment’

Bookstogonow.com publish ‘The Lazarus Experiment’

It is with great pleasure that I can announce the publication this weekend for download of my mini-serial The Lazarus Experiment, penned this January and first shared through the Tuesday Serial network of writers and readers. The Lazarus Experiment has been published by Seattle-based electronic publishers Bookstogonow.com who have been wonderfully patient with me over the editing process given how new it was for me to be working with somebody on polishing my work. It follows the publication of several of my short stories including the suspense thriller KATAKOMBY on the Ether Books mobile platform in late 2010.

The Lazarus Experiment is available as a pdf, a Kindle book and a Nookbook making it available on any kind of electronic device you can think of. Readers should note that it is a short story, and I hope an entertaining ride through its electronic pages.

Product Description (from Amazon):

Condemned to death by gas chamber, Frank Swan has little to lose when he agrees to a secret military experiment at the height of World War 2. Little did he realize that he was about to get a second shot at redemption.

Retailers:

Bookstogonow.com

Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble 

Amazon – Germany

Amazon.co.uk

WHSmith.co.uk 

Android Marketplace

Booku.com

Booksonboard.com

Alternatively – ask your local library to get The Lazarus Experiment for digital loan! It’ll cost you nothing!

If you do not have a Kindle or Nook Book you can download reading apps for FREE on to your PC or Mobile Platform. For Barnes and Noble NOOK Apps click here. For Amazon Kindle Apps click here.

Read a Sample! Click here for Part 1.

Don’t forget to stop on by my Facebook page and click Like for future alerts on short stories. If you read the story, why not leave a review? Thank you to everybody who encouraged the completion of the serial in January. I couldn’t have done it without the enthusiasm of you readers.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Publishing

 

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Review: Metamorphosis by Kafka

When I wrote For Daniels Benefit, I had never read Kafka’s short story Metamorphosis nor was I familiar with the details as I was with George Orwells Animal Farm. Yet people assumed I had read it due to the transformations – the metamorphosis – of the staff working for Southborough Council. I can understand where comparisons come from on a superficial level.

I’ll be honest though. When I did start reading Metamorphosis in January on my Kindle, I found the start of the story very uninspiring. Rather dense and lifeless. It didn’t spark. I kept reading though because it was one of those books the literati declare must be read and, after all, it was only a short story. Gradually Kafka’s sense of humor and ability to observe human behavior won me over. By story’s end, don’t worry I won’t spoil it, I was very saddened by what had happened to the protagonist. Most fiction has a conflict and resolution, often happy, Kafka brings a sense of realism to his fantasy.

If you can get through the opening pages to develop a connection with the characters, Metamorphosis is an absorbing read and certainly one I would recommend. My fiancée has a graphic novel version of Kafkas ‘The Trial’ and I will probably read that sometime soon following my enjoyment of this story.

Below I have attached an animated version of the first third of the story which I feel captures my impression of the tale vividly. I watched a few of the live action videos but none really caught my imagination, but this little animated one is spot on. Obviously, it will spoil plot elements of the first third but may interest you in reading the whole story.

If you have any favorite audio or video telling of the story feel free to share it in the comments below, as well as your first impressions on reading this so definitively ‘Kafka’ story.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in Fiction, Reviews

 

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The Lazarus Experiment – Part I

deathlakeIn the 1930’s a researcher from the University of California called Robert Cornish embarked on an ambitious project to see if it was possible to bring dead dogs back to life by using a mixture of adrenaline, anti-coagulants and a see-saw style machine that would rock the corpses up and down in order to help the recirculation of the blood. Incredibly the process worked and some of the dogs were brought back to life though severely brain damaged.

In 1947 Cornish resurfaced armed with a heart-lung machine made out of parts from a vacuum cleaner and other devices and declared he was ready to test out his process on a human. A death row inmate volunteered for the experiment however Cornish was refused permission. This much is public record. What the public did not know was the real reason he had been refused permission.

Three years earlier, at the start of 1944, the US Government had already brought a man back from the dead.

*

In November 1943, a thousand American scientists were shown a film by their Soviet counterparts demonstrating the process by which the organs of dead animals could be coaxed back to life outside the body. The video concluded by demonstrating what the Soviets claimed to be a dog being killed and then brought back to life 15 minutes later no worse for wear. A family of dogs, who had been experimented on in the 1930s, were paraded showing that the animals went on to live normal long lives, and even reproduce.  In the throes of total war, the possibility that Allied scientists may be able to revive dead soldiers offered a strategic advantage that should not be overlooked. The imaginations of the scientists, the generals and the politicians were captured. If possible, a straight forward war of attrition would result which Germany and Japan could not hope to win.

The approval for a research program into reanimating recently killed humans was swiftly approved and supported from a secret military research fund. Dr Conrad Kissinger, a sixty one year old researcher was appointed the head of a team of twenty who set up their operation in an undisclosed military base in the ‘Battle Born State’ of Nevada. Taking the research of their Soviet counterparts as the starting point, Kissinger’s team hastened by war canvassed the prisoners on death row at Ely State Prison. A handful obliged to give consent for the experiment when the proposal was sweetened.

“The execution shall proceed as previously discussed. In the morning you’ll have the opportunity for a last meal and a priest shall come to take confession if that is something you would like.  Your execution will be monitored by a representative from the attorney general’s office and an independent doctor, who will verify that you are indeed dead. After which we will move in and begin the revival. Do you understand?”

Kissinger observed his volunteer through steel rimmed glasses. The Caucasian male was about 6’1’’ in height, well built – formerly employed by the construction trade – and with dark brown hair. Frank Swan, convicted arsonist and multiple murderer, sat up on his cell bunk.

“And after you work your magic… I’m free?”

For Swan, Kissinger’s face was inscrutable. The scientist barely exercised a muscle in his face to reply with reassuring words. “You were sentenced to death Mr Swan. Once you’re dead, you’re debt to society is paid.”

Swan turned his eyes to stare at the gray wall of his cell opposite and nodded taking a few deep breaths. He signed the documents provided by Dr Kissinger and laid back down on his bunk when the researcher left. One last sleep, then he would be born again.

He awoke to a clanging on the bars of his cell in the early hours. A shave, a wash, a good last meal of steak and potatoes… it was effectively breakfast but he didn’t mind. It was the best meal he’d had in six years. No family visited him. There was nobody left to visit him. His closest relatives, two cousins were overseas fighting in the Pacific theatre. The priest came but Frank had no time for him. He would have felt like he was cheating God if he had given his last confession and the experiment to revive him worked. No, Frank told the Priest he would make his case in person when he’s ready. The waiting after the meal was the most unsettling time. He had spent days since being moved to his final home listening to men screaming, wailing, and begging to escape the gas chamber. Yet all Frank felt was not terror, but nerves. He wasn’t sure what to expect but just clung to the freedom he had been promised.

As Frank was being led into the gas chamber he noticed a cluster of researchers scurrying around an anteroom with an odd looking apparatus, getting ready for their experiment. The DA’s representative and other witnesses observed him coldly through the glass of the chamber wall as he came into view. He sat in the centre of the room, glancing briefly over his shoulder to the door that led out to the men who were entrusted with bringing him back. His legs and arms were strapped to the chair. Swan waited as his crimes were read out.

For the arson of his family home…

For the murder of his wife and two children…

He had been condemned to death.

“Do you have any last words?”

“I’m innocent.”

The gas was released. At first Frank instinctively held his breath but remembered the advice he had been given about the death being worse if it’s fought and tentatively inhaled the colorless gas that surrounded him. From outside of the chamber it appeared he simply went to sleep, shaking a little, but otherwise without struggle. The independent Doctor monitored a Bowles stethoscope that was strapped onto Frank’s chest inside the chamber and pronounced him dead at 8:02 am.

At 9:26 he woke up to the roar of an engine and the rocking of a van speeding over uneven road surfaces. He groaned as his entire body ached. The grotesque face of his prison guard loomed into view.

“I’ll give you this you rotten bastard. You got balls. I can’t believe you agreed to that ungodly experiment!”

Franks throat was dry, “I can’t believe you agreed to let me. When can I… leave… ?”

“Leave? What are you talking about? Until we get to the military base your still my responsibility.”

Frank coughed. Tried to move, and found that he was restrained. He identified three straps; one over his legs, one across his lower waist and the other his upper chest.

“Kissinger… said I was free if… if it was successful…”

The guard grinned at Frank and shook his head.

“My word, he sold you one didn’t he? They just brought you back from the dead Swan. You’re their lab rat. They’re never going to let you go till they have prodded and poked you back to death! You belong to the US Government now.”

———————-

Enjoy this sample chapter? You can now buy the full story from any of the following retailers;

Bookstogonow.com ($1.99)

Amazon.com ($2.30)

Barnes and Noble ($1.99)

Amazon – Germany (€1.63)

Amazon.co.uk (£1.43)

WHSmith.co.uk (£1.07 – saving 28%!)

Android Marketplace (for your Android Phone! 99c / 62p)]

Alternatively – ask your local library to get The Lazarus Experiment for digital loan! It’ll cost you nothing!

If you do not have a Kindle or Nook Book you can download reading apps for FREE on to your PC or Mobile Platform. For Barnes and Noble NOOK Apps click here. For Amazon Kindle Apps click here.

You can read about the research that went in to this serial by clicking here.

If you like the story why not Like it below, write a short review on Amazon, or share it on twitter!

Story Short URL:  http://wp.me/pYPaH-2r

Image: Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2011 in Scifi

 

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Christmas Dinner: Tinsel Tales Entry

Chaffinch

Read My Entry Here

The Writelinks Community have an annual christmas themed competition called Tinsel Tales. I was looking at a few of the entries so far for this years edition and thought I could give it a go. After all, with all the snow outside theres plenty of inspiration to be had… and I’m not likely to be getting much else done till the weather improves.

The only stipulations for the contest are that the story had to be on a christmas related theme and be a maximum of 250 words long including title. £5 to enter with prizes of £40, £20 and £20 along with bonus prizes of free membership to the Writelinks community and an ebook for finding markets for poetry.

***The Competition Closed on January 1st 2011: Below is my entry***

The attractive Chaffinch with its pink chest and slate blue head had gone through a frightening and exhausting trial to bring food back to its mossy nest in the hedge.

Winter had struck early and the gardens were a blanket of snow wherever one looked. Food was scarce so he was delighted to have found a bag of peanuts next to a bin. It was at the last moment he noticed the cat lurking in the shadows, the snow silencing his stalkers approach. Escaping by a whisker the bird with its prize subsequently flew against a window and had to risk returning to the ground to collect the peanuts again.

Flying back towards the nest the cloud emptied again, raining down icy rocks almost as big as the poor bird’s beak. He dodged and weaved through the storm flying against the wind that kicked up snow devils in the large garden. On reaching the shelter of his nest he dropped the bag and pecked at the peanuts that remained inside, breaking them up as best he could.

He perched exhausted but happy as he admired his meal. A rustle of the hedge alerted him to another; he hopped around in fear of the cat but saw a pathetic looking half starved Coal Tit that gave him a pleading look. He sighed and dropped the bag with a few remaining peanuts out of his nest.

The other bird may have been a Tit, but it was Christmas after all.

Image: Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2010 in Christmas

 

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