Monday, 28 September 2015

Introducing Born Zero



“Born Zero” are a new four piece band ready to rip up the rock world and it was my pleasure to have the opportunity to chat with three of them, lead singer Jack, drummer Charlie and lead guitarist Iggy.

Having known each other for eight years, the three were originally in a five piece band before two left to pursue other interests and Frankie came in as the bass player.  So it was no more Voltage and Born Zero was born, which is quite appropriate as with all the lads being born in the 2000, the name was effectively born in more ways than one.  I found out that Charlie originally hated the name but was sold once the logo was designed.

Rehearsing at Charlie’s house, mainly due to that’s where the drum kit is as well as a customed built sound proof studio, every Saturday the guys meet up and thrash out their latest set.  Each of them introduces new material into the bands, with Iggy loving his guitar solos and Charlie always wanting to show off his latest addition to his drum kit.  The band has moved on dramatically from performing covers to writing and now performing their own material.  “Blinded By The Light” debuted on youtube on 21st August and, within the first two weeks, had already climbed to nearly 1400 views.

Taking influences from the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Killswitch Engage, Bullet for my Valentine and of course, Metallica, their music steadily got heavier until the new brand of Born Zero was ready for the world to hear.

The biggest challenge of the band has mainly been getting to agree what to do.  The naming caused some issues until it was settled upon and the main challenges are now knowing when to finish the song writing, always wanting to add that little bit extra as well as keeping Charlie from wanting his new bit of kit to play centre stage!

Managed by Mick Pritchard, who has some two decades in the industry, there is a great decision making process in place, starting with Iggy and Mick, going to the band before Mick advises them of the best decision to take.

With their debut single now being played to the world, it was interesting to find out that it was Frankie who came in one day with a new riff and showed it off.  Iggy was soon adding to it and before they knew what happened, the song was born.  Mick wrote the original lyrics which Jack added to, especially the lead phrase which became the title.

While each of the four contributes musically, it was great to know that their talents don’t stop there.  Charlie loves his artwork and came up with the logo for the band while Jack isn’t just a good voice.  His online computer skills have gained him the role of Digital Manager for the band and has already uploaded a behind the scenes look.

Having already performed at various venues, their favourite being the Birmingham Town Hall, I couldn’t believe it when they told me that they counted themselves lucky to escape from one venue with their lives and instruments intact!  Apparently a group of fresh faced teens shouldn’t have been performing heavy rock!

However, they received a warmer welcome when performing in their own back yard at Festival on the Green on the 12th September.

After we had finished discussing the origins and the future of the band, I decided to have a bit of fun and get to know the lads a little better.  Unfortunately Frankie was on holiday so he wasn’t around to answer, but Jack, Charlie and Iggy certainly had some interesting answers to the quickfire questions.

Q: Peanut butter or marmite?
Jack: Peanut butter
Iggy: Neither
Charlie: Neither

Q: Morning, Noon or Night?
J: Night (for cuddling)
I: Night
C: Night (for the darkness!)

Q: What was the last film that you watched?
J: Metallica Through the Never
I: Ouija
C: Erm… Barbie’s Xmas Movie (because my younger sister made me!)

Q: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
J: Bacon & Brown sauce sandwich
I: Sausage & Egg sandwich
C: Toast with lemon curd

Q: Ninja or Pirates?
J: Ninja
I: Pirates
C: Ninjas (because I don’t like bangs!)

Q: What’s your favourite clothes shop@
J: River Island
I: Attitude
C: Spiral Direct

Q: Given the chance, where would you like to visit?
J: New York
I: Japan
C: Pakistan (for the photos)

Q: Favourite colour?
J: Rainbows (really??? Asked Michael)
I: Blue
C: Black (obviously)

Q: You are given one superpower.  What is it?
J: The ability not to embarrass myself in public
I: Invisibility
C: Telekinesis

Q: What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?
J: I’ve gotta work today!
I: Crap!  Work!
C: Haha, the other two will be at work (as I woke up at 11am!)

Q: Describe 1 important item from your childhood and where is it now?
J: Teddy bear called Snuggly and it’s still on my bed
I: A seahorse soft toy and it’s probably boxed up in the garage


Q: Do you have any scars and how did you get the last one?
J: No scars
I: Not a scar as such but I’ve got a big lump on the back of my head where I got punched in the Mosh pit at Leeds and Reading festival
C: On my knee from playing British Bulldog.  The skin was floppy and hanging off!

Q: Who would be your ideal room-mate?
J: James Hetfield from Metallica
I: Phil Anselmo
C: My friend Leah

Q: Favourite radio station (expecting a clean sweep here!!)
J: Kerrang
I: Kerrang
C: Kerrang!

Q: Excluding music, what is your favourite subject at school?
J: Geography
I: Science
C: English Lit

Q: Do you believe in life on other planets?
J: Yes!
I: Yes
C: Yes

Q:  Do you have any bad habits?
J: Biting my nails, (at which point the others added – eating with his mouth open!)
I: Scratching in a certain place in public
C: Obsession with cleaning

Q: Are you a clean or messy person?
J: Clean
I: Messy
C: Obviously clean!

Q: What was the last household chore that you did and when?
J: Made my bed this morning
I: Loaded the dishwasher this morning
C: Cleaned the house today (obviously)

Q: Name 1 thing that not many people know about you?
J: I’m slightly deaf in my left ear
I: I’m a poet at heart


Q: If you HAD to change your first name, what would it be?
J: Jesse
I: Zack
C: Zadock

Q:  The band has made it through Boot Camp on the X-Factor.  Who would you want as your mentor?
J: Rita Ora
I: Simon Cowell
C: Rita Ora

Q: If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
J: Draco Malfoy
I: Aragorn
C: Faramir

Q: What was the last thing that you did that got you into trouble?
J: Nothing – I don’t do trouble 
I: Being noisy and keeping my parents awake until 7AM
C: I cut off half the hair of my sister’s Barbie and gave her a kiss scar.  (Michael – think Spike from Toy Story!)

Q: Would you do a bungee jump?
J: Yes
I: Maayyybbeee?
C: Nope

Q:  If we were to press play on your i-pod, what song would be playing?
J: Black Storm Cherry – Lonely Train
I: Ingested – Divine Right of Kings
C: My Chemical Romance – Na Na Na

Q: Scary Movies or Happy Endings?
J: Scary
I: Scary
C: Happy!

Q: Born Zero the movie is being cast.  Who would play each band member?  (We took a consensus approach to this one)
Jack would be played by Leonardo diCapprio
Iggy would be played by Orlando Bloom
Charlie would be played by Johnny Depp
Frankie would be played by Kyle Gass

You can find out more information about the band, and watch their debut song by going onto youtube, following them on Twitter @BornZeroBand, and on their Facebook page, Born Zero.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Where am I? What have I been doing?

Ooopise!!!  Once again, my blogging has taken a back seat as I've been concentrating on various writing projects and also other social aspects of my life.  No apologies for that, I guess, but heck, I really do need to make more of an effort with my blog.

Therefore, this is the first of two blog posts that will hit the page over the next week to ten days!  PROMISE!!!

So what are these projects that I've been upto?

Well, Dragonfire is coming along... slowly!  Chapters 1-7 are off at the editors and I'd say that I am somewhere between a quarter and a third through the story.  There are new character to meet, old friends and foes who reappear and, of course, where would we be without a death to a major character!!!  It's been a while since the last big death so I thought it was about time to send one of the gang off to meet their maker!  Don't hate me when you read it :-))

The writers group is also keeping me busy.  There are a group of five of us who meet up each month and encourage each others efforts.  Somehow, I got landed with the job of being the chairman so I responded by setting some tricky homework assignments haha.  This month's is particularly hard.  If anybody fancies a go, the assignment was to write a story, any story, any genre.  However, it has to be 26 sentences long.  Each sentence has to start with the next letter in the alphabet to the previous.  BUT you don't have to start at A, you can start anywhere.  If you do have a go and want some feedback from the group, feel free to email it to me at michael@michaelandrews.co.uk

You may have noticed a different email address to my usual one.  That's because FINALLY I have my own website!  With a great deal of appreciation to Pete at App Intelligence, you can see all of my books, latest news, my book club and even links to download sample and buy my books by visiting www.michaelandrews.co.uk

I have also been doing some more book reviews and this is my latest one.  It's not what I would normally read, being a scifi / fantasy geek, but I can thoroughly recommend this to anyone who has a young child.

I Am Here!  Where are you? by Anita Jones

5 stars - An excellent book for parents with younger childres.

I am here! Where are you? tells the story of Ajay, a young Indian boy living in a suburb of Mumbai.  It starts off in his room before zooming out step by step until you get to see the universe.  On each page, you are invited to discuss the space where Ajay is and then compare it with the space that you and your child are in.

As an education tool, it is a wonderful idea, teaching children about spacial awareness while comparing it with an environment that they probably would not be aware of, ie Ajay's life in India.  It introduces the idea of cultural diversity as well as giving a very brief lesson about world conservation.

I can see that Ms Jones is well versed in children's education, with the idea to stimulate speaking and listening with observations, while Sam Smith has done a brilliant job with the illustrations.  They are bright and colourful and should be guaranteed to hold a young child's interest.

Aimed at children between the ages of four and eight, it is a clever concept to engage parents and children.

I am here! Where are you? is available on Amazon, currently at £2.99 and you can get it by clicking here



http://www.amazon.co.uk/here-Where-are-you-ebook/dp/B00F2P9B4O/
 
 

Well that's it for this quick update.  Next up is an interview with an exciting new band, Born Zero, who have just released their debut song.  We are just finalising the details of the interview, making sure that there is nothing untoward in their answers haha so expect to see that posted, with links about how to find out about the band in the next few days.
 
Peace out!



Friday, 26 June 2015

Amazon to pay author royalties by the page

There has been a lot of hoo-hah on websites, forums and in the media over the last couple of days with regards to the announcement by Amazon about how they are introducing a pay per page read royalty scheme.

Unfortunately, a lot of what has been reported is mis-informed at best and malicious at worst.

Authors, like myself, who publish their works through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, have the opportunity to make their works available to the world, given to them by Amazon unlike the traditional publishing houses who accept a tiny percentage of author submissions.

We publish our work, set our own price and depending on how much we charge, we gain either 35% or 70% royalty.  Compare this to the normal 5 - 10% that a traditionally published author will garner.

Amazon also give us the tools to make our ebooks available in paperback through a sister company called Createspace.  This company charges no upfront cost to the author.  I upload my book, it works out the minimum cost of making a paperback based on my book and again, I set the price and gain a royalty from it, normally in the 50% mark.

One further option that Amazon offer, which is completely at the author's own choosing to opt in, is their reader subscription service.  For a flat monthly fee of $10, or £8, a customer can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, a service which allows the reader to download upto ten books at a time, and read as many books during the month as they want.  That sounds brilliant for readers doesn't it.  After all, for just $10, you can read as many books as you can.  Most novels these days are prices in the $2.99 or $3.99 bracket so it doesn't take many books read to get your money's worth.

However, the only books that you can borrow through this scheme are the ones which authors place in it.  At last count, I believe there are over 700,000 titles available.  Now how does Amazon pay the author a royalty for this?  After all, the reader isn't actually buying the book, just borrowing.

So Amazon came up with a scheme that paid an author a royalty if their borrowed book was read beyond 10%.  What figure did they come up with?  Well, that was all dependent on how many subscribers paid in, how many books were borrowed and read past 10% and how many of MY books were borrowed and read past 10%.  Generally it has averaged out at around the $1.35 mark per book.

Now, that isn't a bad deal really... is it?  Of course, my book selling at $3.99 would make me $2.80 but would the person borrowing my book have actually bought it, when there are so many other books that they could borrow instead?

So, many authors decided to take borrows as a bonus as, after all, it puts our work in front of a larger audience and, in terms of sales ranking, a borrow counts as a sale.  This is vitally important.  After all, if you do a search on, say vampire books, how many of you will scroll past the first 1000 to find a book?  Very few.  How many actually go past the first 100?  So it is worth taking a hit on the royalty for a borrow to get yourself up the charts for those customers who buy.

Now... this is where the problems started.  You see, the royalty for a borrow is a flat amount.  It doesn't matter if your book is 400 pages long, or 200 pages, or 20 pages.  And yes, there are short stories out there which are 20 pages long.

Remember what I said about when the royalty kicked in?  10% read.  So the 400 page book has to be read past page 40 to garner the royalty.  The 20 page short story has to get to page... 2!!  And for this, the author receives the same $1.35 as the other.

I have written some short stories, most of which are in the 50 page bracket, and they sell at 99c.  For a sale, I get 35c.  For a borrow, I get $1.35.  Woo hoo, get me on that gravy train!

Unfortunately this is what a lot of opportunists have done and in the last six to twelve months, we have seen an influx of poorly written, 10-20 page stories flooding Amazon.  As long as they have a decent cover and an interesting blurb, somebody who isn't really paying for the book as they have paid their monthly fee, will borrow it, open it, read the first couple of pages before deleting it.  However, by that point, the 10% mark has been hit and the author gets his $1.35.

Authors who are part of the Kindle Unlimited service have long complained about the unfairness of the system, but at the time, it was the best that Amazon could come up with.

But was it fair?  Paying two authors the same in royalty for a reader to read 2 pages and delete onebook, as opposed to a reader who gets hooked into a story and reads all 400 pages of another?

This is where the new system come into play.

Amazon have done away with the 10% rule.  From now, authors get a royalty from the very first page read on a borrow.  That's fair after all.  From there, each page that is read gets another share of the royalty pot.  And so on and so on.

Who benefits?  Obviously the author who writes a well crafted story that engages the reader right up to the final page, rather than an author who bores the reader to the point where they cannot read on.

Now... certain sections of the media will have you believe that Amazon is doing this to pay less in royalties.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  A recent communication to all authors who publish through Amazon has guaranteed that July and August's royalty pot for borrows will be at a record level.  That doesn't sound like they are paying us less?

What they are doing is ensuring that the split of royalties for borrows is better spread to the authors who engage with readers and keep them coming back for more.  After all, Amazon is in it to make money so they want readers signing up to the subscription service and to keep renewing.

I, for one, am fully behind this sensible decision by Amazon as it should make reading more enjoyable for you, the readers.  After all, this will make us authors write better stories, to keep you interested in our work and to use the age old phrase associated with books... to make our books 'page turners'.

Please, please do not be drawn in to the mis-information that this is about purchased books.  The current payment system for that has not been altered in any way.  Amazon are paying far more than any traditional publisher.

All of my books are available to buy, or to borrow, so please, if you want to, check out my website www.michaelandrews.co.uk to have a look and the links will take you to my product pages on Amazon.

Thanks for listening folks.  Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Bullying. Does it never end?

Please forgive the formatting but I want to get this out today rather than spend days formating it,

I've not mentioned this much recently but it is still an issue close to my heart, especially with recent incidents that have happened. Bullying is despicable and should not, will not and cannot be tolerated. How many more lives must be lost before we take a stand and stop it?
Recent records show that 4400 deaths in under 16's in the US are as a direct result of bullying. How is that right?
To some people, bullying is not something that they think happens. Its the funny joke. It's the bit of fun that they have at someone else's expense. Its the silly name calling that they do, the silly texts and emails. The facebook posts.
But for those on the receiving end of the endless abuse, it isnt a joke. It is bullying. It makes their life hell.

In the UK, yesterday it was announced that a 13 yo boy killed himself after a video of him being beaten up went viral.
There are so many more stories. When are we going to try to protect our children? Do you want to protect your children?
Or do you think it is just "part of growing up?"

If you do, I say "fuck you!" If you are willing to let a child be pushed to the point of where the only way they feel they can end their torment is to kill themselves, then you are scum. If you do not like that, please feel free to defriend me because you are certainly no friend of mine.
Here is a reminder of what could happen.  Please watch.
Cyber bullying hurts!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

News update with a Kindle deal

Ah...whoopsie!  It's been far too long since I updated and so for that I apologise!  I have been hard at work, trying to get the third Alex Hayden book finished so I'll hope you all forgive me?

So what's been happening in the world of Michael Andrews since my last post?

How can I not start without mentioning my beloved Leicester City?  The mighty Foxes, who had spent 140 days rooted to the bottom of the English Premier League have seen an unbelievable turnaround, winning six of their last seven games, including a fine 2-0 win against Southampton today.  This has lifted us to 15th in the League, 3 points above the drop with just two games to go.

Dare we believe that we are going to defy all expections and pull off the great escape?

Next, the injured beleaguered Leicester Tigers have taken a massive step to securing a play off spot with a brilliant away win at the Coventry Wasps, a result which all but ends the former London club's own play off intentions.  At one point earlier in the season, Tigers were missing an incredible 23 players through injuries or international duties so to still be in with a chance of grabbing a play off spot shows the tremendous character of the players.

This update is a short one I'm afraid as I do want to get back to completing The Cauldron of Fire in time for release within a couple of weeks.

So my final tidbit of news is that I've had a new cover designed and a re-edit of the first Alex Hayden book, Under A Blood Moon.  To celebrate, it's available this week on a Kindle Countdown deal, which means you can pick up a copy for just 99p or 99cs.  Just click on here to go to your local Amazon store where you can read one of the reviews which average up at over 4.5/5

Monday, 16 February 2015

Breaking the Lost Soul

So just as I thought that I was back on track following my dislocated thumb, a trip to the doctors turned into a literal one.  Not seeing the step ended up with me flat on my face and after a visit to A&E, it turned out that instead of bruising my elbow, I had actually fractured the ball socket!!

One month... thirty three days of not being able to use my right arm meant that I couldn't follow up the launch of The Howling Wind with anything useful.  I did manage to get through five seasons of The West Wing however!

But now I'm back with a vengeance.  In just one week, I have already written up three chapters of "The Cauldron of Fire" so the third Alex Hayden book is now well underway.

To celebrate my return to action, I've made my debut novel, "For The Lost Soul" available on Kindle for just 99c/99p for the rest of the week.  This is what Amazon customers think of my first ever book.

A book you don't want to put down. - 5 stars
This is not my usual genre of reading matter but I thought I would give it a try and I am so glad I did! The characters spring to life and you find yourself lost in the story. Well written by this new author this story is sometimes disturbing and upsetting but full of humanity and the fight between good and evil! I will be looking out for his next novel.

Dark Supernatural Thriller - 4 stars
The plot is well conceived, and maintained my interest throughout. A word of caution about this cautionary tale though; it is filled with emotionally painful subject matter and not recommended for the faint-hearted; bullying, suicide, loss, sexual assault, and acts of bigotry and inhumanity. Michael Andrews has been quite clever to package this material up as a supernatural thriller.

Angels and Demons battle over souls - 4 stars
This imaginative tale has a full cast of characters from earth, heaven, purgatory, and hell. Beneath the coming and goings of humans, angels and demons is a cautionary tale of how bullying can adversely influence, ruin,and even end young lives.  This is a well written and thought provoking book that goes far into the world of the supernatural. As the author's first book it is a remarkable achievement.

A story of hope - 5 stars
This was a great story of hope and good overcoming all. This has a different twist on things being a supernatural novel but it isn't so far out there that it is totally unbelievable. I couldn't put this book down as I had to know what was going to happen next. A must read story for all.

So to grab your copy, just click here and it can be yours for less than a dollar/pound!



It is just a quick post this time, just to get back on track.  Next time I'll talk football, rugby, and also discuss books that I have read while I was on my enforced break from writing.

I know it's late but I hope everyone has a great 2015!







Friday, 19 December 2014

Official Release - The Howling Wind


Millennia old teenage vampire Alex Hayden is back in a new adventure!  With the official release of “The Howling Wind”, book two of the Alex Hayden Chronicles, Alex, Harry and the rest of the gang return to action in a Christmassy Blackpool.



Here’s the blurb for the book, which is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions by clicking here.

 It's been a peaceful two months in Blackpool since the battle at the Church of the Merciful Heart and the destruction of the vampire pack, but when human remains are discovered on Marton Mere, the police try to play it off as a wild animal attack.

Teenage vampire Alex Hayden is not so easily convinced and soon reveals a cover up of the murders. However, he discovers that the truth is worse than he feared.

A pack of Lycans have made their home in Blackpool and with the full moon just days away, it's up to Alex, detective Harry Shepherd and their friends to stop the werewolves before they kill again.

I’m very excited about the release of this sequel as it’s the first real follow on book that I’ve written.  The challenge for me has been to reintroduce the character from “Under A Blood Moon” and put them into a new story, without compromising the history of the first.

Of course, there are new characters and new villains, this time with a werewolf pack moving in but trust me, a Twilight rewrite this is not.  I’ve tried to stay true to my plans for the series and kept to the old myths and lore about the paranormal world, while still introducing a couple of twists of my own.  However, be warned, I have taken the proverbial sword to the cast list so don’t expect everyone to make it out alive this time!

Anyway, it’s now up and available, perfect in time for Christmas (if Mr Postman delivers on time!)

 

Away from Alex and Harry, work is now underway on a side project that has been kicking around in my head for some time.  With a work in progress title of “Left Behind”, I’m waiting to see how the plot inspires me to discover if it will be a short story or a full length novel.  A nice little chiller thriller and a lovely front cover.

I have also been a busy little reader as well and have recently read two very different but very good books.  “Ephraim’s Curious Device” by Lita Burke is the sequel to the Clockpunk story “Forever Boy” while “The Sleeping Pool” by P. Zoro is an imaginative thriller set in Zimbabwe.

This is my four star review of “Ephraim’s Curious Device” which you can buy here.

I was introduced to the genre of Clockpunk through Ms Burke's first book Forever Boy and so I was delighted when I received a copy of the sequel in exchange for my honest, non-reciprical review.

The story is longer than Forever Boy, coming in at around double the length, which allowed the author to take me on a longer journey within her magical world. We are re-introduced to Kadmeion and Sir Bright, along with the cyanthrope Furgo and meet a host of new creatures and characters along the way.

The plot itself is a simple but effective one. Something is taken from the main characters and held hostage and in exchange, they have to discover Ephraim's Curious Device. They set off on a journey that takes in several widely different magical locations and they battle to overcome the problems caused not only by the creatures living there but also the Goons sent to protect them. Imagine the village idiot and then make him dumber. That's a Goon!

The narrative is mostly good, although personally I found in parts that the sentences were broken and too short. Not a grammatical error at all, just a different style of writing than I am used to reading. The descriptions of the locations are excellent, leaving you with the images that you need without going overboard but for me, what worked the best was the interaction between Sir Bright and his travelling companions. The conversations flowed well and were just enough that you could imagine being part of their group, trapsing along on the quest, listening to the banter back and forth.

All in all this is a solid fantasy book and an very good sequel to the first.

 





This is my four star review of “The Sleeping Pool” which you can buy here.

  This is not my normal genre of reading but I was pulled into the story within the first few pages and found it difficult to stop reading when it was time to turn off the light. The author’s descriptive talents are excellent and you can easily imagine that you are there, in Zimbabwe, next to the pool or in the caves beneath.

Ms Zoro creates a wonderful cast of characters, all of them believable, as the battle for the boardroom takes a dramatic twist into a battle for life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to those readers who like a little bit of magic in their suspense thrillers.

 

In my last blog, I did say that I was going to review a new band, but unfortunately with the pressure of finishing up “The Howling Wind”, I just ran out of time and with Christmas already here, I spent far too long in the shops getting presents.  So look out next time for my first ever music review!

Finally, I’d just like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  See you all in 2015!