Monday, 17 December 2012

Authors: Create a Simple Twitter Header to Look More Professional

Twitter now offers you the chance of upgrading the background image behind the header picture and profile description. Doing it makes your Twitter account look more professional. Check-out mine at @authorkingsley to see what I am talking about.

Just open your Twitter profile to Edit and you will see the 'Change Header' dropdown button offering 'Choose existing image'. OK, so you need to generate an image first. Here's how.

I suggest you go for the maximum size they allow which is 1252 pixels wide by 626 pixels high. Use whatever graphics program you are familiar with to set up an image, remembering that: a) the default white text of your profile needs a dark area for the bottom half of the image to be readable; b) your photo will be superimposed centre-top, and you need to allow for that. Be aware that Twitter automatically darkens the bottom of any image you upload so as to aid a satisfactory contrast between the superimposed profile lettering and your image.

Some people have managed to merge a head-and-shoulders into the profile full-face picture but the chances of you getting that to align well and look good are very small. So why try?

What I did on my page was to plant a book cover image on either side of the profile picture, each at around 300-350 pixels high. You could use a straight black background on which to mount them. I used a stars background to add a little more interest. Putting cover images is a great way of signalling what you are and what you have produced. You get a preview during the initial phase of uploading so, if things don't look quite right, adjust the source image. Be prepared to slide the book cover images around to look their best.

You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words - and Twitter will never let you have those!

That's it! Just upload that image and there you go. If necessary afterwards, change the background image to better match the header, via Settings > Design and then the 'Change background' tab. (You can also upload your own image here, but beware of getting too clever and presenting a busy-busy appearance which can be off-putting. I believe simple background images work best.)

Oh, and if you found this article helpful, please follow me on Twitter. And, as a fellow author, it would be fantastic if you re-tweeted the odd tweet about my books now and then. Thanks a lot!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Coincidence: a Great Pitfall for Novelists

I speak here mainly as a reader - but to writers. 'Coincidence' should be avoided like the plague.

So what inspires me to write on this subject? What has riled me enough to warrant a new posting when all my attention is usually directed to my own writing or those few 140 characters required for tweets? It is my hatred of unbelievable coincidence as a prime mover in a novel. Coincidence is an error to avoid for would-be authors and a great pitfall for established authors. Let me give you an example from the book I am reading right now.

Firstly, I am not going to tell you the (well established) author or the book title. Why? I do not like to put another author down. I wish them all well. I seek only to make a point about style to help other writers avoid this pitfall. Here is what has happened in this book as an example of what I am talking about.

A married woman accidentally meets a recently separated guy she fancies in a supermarket, has a brief conversation with him, learns his name, and then they part. After that she longs to see him again. Fast forward. She accompanies her doctor husband for the first time ever when he makes a middle-of-the-night call to a patient and, from that incident, learns that hubby made his first ever house call to this same house, and also learns something about him she doesn't like very much. As a result she walks out of his house after a row, that night, still in night clothes, walks and walks, then, despite deserted dark streets, collides with her hunk putting his dog out for a wee. Yeah, right!

Get the picture? Coincidence 1: The first time she does a house call with her hubby it is to the house he made his first house call to (and that is significant, in itself). Coincidence 2: As a result she learns of his unfortunate previous disclosure - immediately in brief conversation. Coincidence 3: Having longed to meet her hunk again, she collides with him in the dark. Three coincidence in the middle of one night! How real is that?

Okay, coincidences happen, but in fiction, you cannot rely on that sort of thing - and fiction needs to be more real than real. In this case coincidence is responsible for inciting incidents upon which the story outcome hinges. As a reader, a coincidence as large as the last one - bumping into hunk on deserted streets in the middle of the night - is a warning. The author is lucky if I read on and, any more like this and I shall stop reading. My 'suspension of disbelief' has been broken.

The author might claim it was essential the heroine meets her hunk. But how long does it take to come up with a more believable solution? In two minutes I thought of two alternatives. Knowing his name (as she does), what if she just found him in the phone book and went round there desperate to talk because she thought he would be sympathetic? Or, given the guy seemed to fancy her, what if he had given her his card with an invitation to call him? You see, it is not too difficult to find more plausible ways of bringing boy and girl together. It is lazy not to look for the best - and most believable - way to do it. Professionalism demands it.

So I read on, with trepidation, awaiting the next coincidence - and it is unlikely I shall read another book by the same author. Authors have a responsibility to deal with their readers well, given they invest their time - and money - in the author's product.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Blurb for my forthcoming novel: 'Flying a Kite'

Dear Readers,

This post includes the rear cover blurb for my forthcoming novel: 'Flying a Kite'. (There is a draft cover image at the bottom of this post.)

If you are an avid reader interested in reading this novel prior to publication and then posting an Amazon (and optionally a Goodreads) review when it comes out, please contact me via my website I can send you a pdf copy. Please let me know the genres that most interest you when you do so. This book is 123,000 words (around 300 pages). I love to get early feedback. Please tell me your Twitter handle (if appropriate) and indicate to which Amazon site you would be able to post (eg,,, etc). My Twitter followers are especially welcome!

Many thanks for the time you give undertaking this reader review. It is really appreciated. The way it will work is you email me your review after reading the book. Ideally I would like to get your feedback within 2-3 weeks. I will later advise you when the book is available on Amazon. After that I would appreciate it if you could post your review there within a week.   Looking forward to hearing from you if you can fit in with this request.  

Kind regards,
Ian Kingsley


Money had always solved everything for multi-millionaire Aldo Galliano. So when faced with his trickiest decision ever - whether to counter imminent death by cryonics or faith - he offers a one-million pound prize for the most convincing argument either ‘for’ or ‘against’ the existence of God. Enter Bruce Kramer, a dropout theology graduate, who takes on mankind’s ultimate challenge. But dangerous rivals will stop at nothing to prevent his success.

Set in Bath, Rome, Lake Garda, Tenerife, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, this novel sweeps the reader along in the wake of its numerous eccentric characters - all driven by their own hidden agendas. These include resolute yet romantically-challenged Bruce, canny but clown-like Bertie, geeky and gobsmacked Martin, flirty flame-from-the-past Carla, possessive and put- upon girlfriend Julia, stunningly sexy model Sofia and her pragmatic photographer boyfriend Luigi, prim and prickly mother Ada, smart and sassy PA Emma, psychotic psychologist Max, nutty ex-NASA engineer Victor... and maybe even God. (Or was that just in Bruce’s mind?)

Combining the wit of Marina Lewycka, the spiritual insight of C. S. Lewis, and all the twists and turns of a great mystery thriller, this unforgettable novel is both entertaining and thought-provoking. But beware. Like one of Galliano’s favourite lattes, while it might appear frothy on the surface, a high caffeine brew lurks deep below that may keep you awake at night... thinking. In fact, you may never think the same way again.

‘Very fluid, smooth and flows along at a lovely pace. Really engaging from the start. Like The Shack, there is a niche for this kind of book.' -Gillian McDade, author of Standing Man.

‘Very good, and addresses a universal question in a much better way than Dan Brown in Angels & Demons where the God vs science debate is just another sub-plot in another ciphering book. In Flying a Kite it's the main plot thread, convincingly dealt with, and riveting.’ -Richard Pierce author of Dead Men.

‘Characters are direct and effective. I enjoyed the pace which allows the reader to think about the important concepts by himself.' -Heikki Hietala, author of Tulagi Hotel.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Guaranteed book promotion in return for a peer author review

I am looking for a peer author review - or more particularly, a cover endorsement - for my upcoming book with the working title 'Flying a Kite' - to be published shortly. The bottom of this post contains the blurb. Any published authors of fictional works interested in undertaking this will be amply rewarded in return by way of a year's free promotion of any of their published books in the 'Departure Lounge Bookshop' of my popular travel website. This is the online equivalent of the departure lounge bookshop in an airport. People planning vacations on the travel site see four books on a bookshelf on each travel article page. Titles are chosen randomly to appear on any given page, so your title will appear on every bookself page in due course, covering hundreds of great travel articles. Every bookshelf display contains a bestselling title, so your title always appears with a bestseller. Purchases are spontaneous, with vacation reading in mind.

The bookshelf display shows a good side cover image, a sell paragraph, and up to four buttons leading to sales, reviews or author website pages. The well-ranked travel website,, gets over 8,000 unique visitors every week, and, unlike Amazon, the competition for your title to be seen is small. Typically we only cover around 50 titles at a time. For more information go to:

The blurb for the book I wish to be reviewed is as follows. It is a supernatural thriller...
Money has always solved everything for dying multi-millionaire Aldo Galliano, so when faced with his trickiest decision ever – whether to parry the sting of death through cryonics or faith – he offers a one-million pound prize for the best argument ‘for’ or against ‘God’. Bruce Kramer, a wavering theology graduate, decides to take on mankind’s ultimate challenge. With just 6 months in hand, his team battles to succeed against enemies who will stop at nothing to prevent him winning the prize and ratifying modern science with the Bible – a task only surpassed by the difficulty of sorting out his own tangled love-life! This thought-provoking and memorable novel will entertain and amuse with its array of eccentric but wise characters. It is an inspiration for the soul in a doubting and troubled age.
 If you are interested please contact me as soon as possible using the contact information on the following page of my author website:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Looking for God in the Modern World

Has science given us adequate grounds for assuming there is no God? Can there be no God because there is nowhere for him to reside? Can there be no Heaven because there is nowhere within the universe which would match up to what religion leads us to believe? Can we talk of God as ‘Him’ when there seems no place in the universe to contain him? And if God is a ‘He’, where IS He? Where could he be, since he could hardly be part of his own creation?

Richard Dawkins argues it is illogical to assume there could be a God. But would Dawkins exist without there being a God? He thinks our world happened by chance. Yet, although he allows chance to come up with all the extraordinary coincidences that allowed for life, he does not feel there is any chance that he could believe there was a creating force behind it all. Yet even Dawkins creates worlds when he is dreaming - ‘dream worlds’ - yet they would not exist without the mind of Dawkins. Now ask yourself this. Where is the mind of Dawkins which creates those dreams? Where is your own mind?

Perhaps you think your ‘mind’ and ‘brain’ are the same things, but they are not. In my book Reality Check: Science Meets Religion, I provide ample evidence they cannot be the same thing. For example, there is ample evidence of telepathy, and if that is true, how could thoughts pass between physical brains? Consider, instead, that ‘brain’ is merely the physical representation of - or interface with - ‘mind’. Imagine it to be a bit like a radio tuner. The electrical signals within the tuner reflect what is going on in the brain, but I am suggesting the thoughts giving rise to that activity comes from a separate mind - like the transmitter which transmits radio signals. Imagine mind is something quite distinct from space and time and that your mind is just an autonomous part of a bigger conscious entity. Telepathy is then explained as transference of data between different areas of that consciousness, just like data transfer from one part of a computer’s memory to another.

As I relate in my book, I had a shared dream with my wife, confirmed when we awoke in the middle of the night and discussed the tremendous identical detail we shared. Again, I can assure you our brains never touched! Shared - or ‘reciprocal’ - dreams are further evidence of a consciousness that is separate to brain. And just like your own consciousness can create dream worlds in which everything seems real to us, so a higher mind - the Mind of God - can create the apparent reality of our universe.

Imagine this to be correct for a moment. The universe - in fact the entire space-time world - then becomes a product of that mind since the original idea came into God’s mind: at the ‘Big Bang’. Science merely seeks to understand that creation but, growing ‘understanding’ and ‘discovery’ does not exclude the forces which created it. The creating force then lies beyond space-time, which is a more logical assumption than there being a physical God within our physical world, who created our physical world. A creator cannot be part of his own creation. The Bible tells us ‘man’ was created in the ‘image of God’. If the essence of us is our minds then we are in the ‘mental’ - not ‘physical’ - image of God. That makes more sense, doesn’t it?
The more science learns about our world, the more it discovers it has yet to learn. Yet the ‘models’ science creates are no more than that: ‘models’. We might have originally imagined substance to be lumps of matter (molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles). We may now imagine ‘wave theory’ better explains it today. Or that the latest advances in thinking about multi-dimensional worlds may be nearer the truth. But, in essence, our ‘reality’ is no more than an image within our non-physical minds. That is why this ‘apparent’ world and your dream worlds seem equally real at the time you experience them.

Wonder if there is a Heaven? In theoretical physics, ‘M-theory’ is an extension of string theory which assumes there are multiple dimensions; that ‘strings’ form the visible world - and invisible worlds. So Heaven could also be an invisible world which can interpenetrate our own world. Radio waves do that, we do not see them, but our radios and TVs prove they exist. When Jesus was asked by some Pharisees when the Kingdom of Godwould come, he replied, “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21.) Please note that Jesus used the present tense, so it already existed, and the ‘within you’ could have been a ‘tongue in cheek’ remark to also mean it interpenetrated our world - unseen. Jesus loved word-play. Heaven need not have physical limits in another realm - so plenty of room for everyone.

Our world - and potentially other worlds - are fantastically complicated, and the fact they co-exist in such stability does suggest they all stem from a single force. Indeed, the ultimate aim of science is to come up with a single ‘Theory of Everything’; so scientists even think that way. And if everything follows a single theory, it comes from a single source. And what do some people call that single force? Why, GOD, of course!
If this line of thought interests you, please visit my author website and read about my book ‘Reality Check: Science Meets Religion’. It provides both the evidence to support the theory that mind is separate to brain, and that science is merely the study of God’s creation. With this new viewpoint, science and the Bible are seen to be complimentary, not contradictory. And if you can ratify science and God in your mind, you are in a favourable position to truly believe in God and thereby find your entire life changed, if you were not a believer. And if you were a believer who found it necessary to ‘be in two minds’ in order to ratify your faith and your belief in science, this evidence could be a great relief. I believe in God AND science. I hope this short argument makes you want to discover why you can too. And if this article interested you, please tell your friends to read it too.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Twitter needs a #timeshift function

The term 'global village' might be 'old hat' but it does reflect the world as we see it today through the internet and social media. Especially so in Twitter. Yet the Twitter timeline means even fantastic tweets disappear into a black hole far too quickly - unless you take the trouble to check out an individual's specific timeline of tweets.

That is why I am campaigning to Twitter to create a time-shift dropdown box on the home page. I suggest it has the following options: 'NOW, -6hr, -12hr, -18hr'. Talk about it on Twitter using the hashtag: #timeshift.

For example, if I, in the UK, set it at say '-18hr', I would see my timeline as it would have appeared 18 hours previously: when the US was truly awake and I was asleep. I could respond to people who tweeted a given afternoon during the following morning. By using a tweet scheduler, so my tweets also appeared time-shifted, they could view my responses around the same time the following day: the time they are likely to be online. As an author it would put me in better touch with readers and potential readers in other parts of the world. At present I must remember to tweet when I am about to pack in after a working day in order to be seen on the Atlantic coast. Yes, I can use a tweet scheduler to be seen by them, but not to see their tweets.

So how about it Twitter? In any case, a time-shifter would be great since it would give me access to the wisdom of people I would never otherwise see.

Here is a tweet you could use to help promote this:

#Twitter needs #timeshift function to open us to other time zones. Check this out to see why and then RT to trend:

If enough people did this it could trend - and get Twitter's attention! Thank you if you support this through tweets!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

A New Role for Publishers?

More and more authors will inevitably move towards self-publishing now the world is changing. After all, they offer little to new writers today, and they confirm this is true by closing their doors to submissions. They rely on 'heroes of old' to keep them going - and agents finding new blood. But agents will start to disappear as well if things don't improve for publishers. Agents cannot live on stagnation. Hello publishers! You do not have a sustainable plan.

Conventional publishers should perhaps ask themselves the question of what their new role can be in such a world. Let's start with the fact that much of what is self-published is actually mediocre. There, perhaps, lies a clue. Perhaps the new role of a publisher should be to filter out the good writers from all that chaff. Make it worthwhile for new authors to consider approaching them. As more and more bookshops close, the old sale-or-return model is defunct. Instead, put exciting new authors on the shelves, go back to the old notion that bringing new talent to the fore was the way forward. Why not? Yes, it would force booksellers to choose their stock more carefully, but that is what all other retailers do, after all. New talent is, after all, the new way forward. And if conventional publishers get rid of returns, they can afford the extra cost of selling by print-on-demand methods. Do not despise it, embrace it instead! PoD is the ace which should be up your sleeves. PoD profits are not eaten away by returns. Sales actually mean SALES! And, guess what, as a result of greater numbers, PoD printing would become much cheaper for publishers - and further increase their profits.

A new model like this can support publishing new authors: in both print and eBook. It could also lead to profits and, with profits, there is the opportunity to actually employ people to rummage around in a slush pile again!

Monday, 30 April 2012

OTT Security on Savings Accounts

OK, I know security is a big issue today. I am not naive. But when my joint building society savings account was recently taken over by one of the Big Five banks it looked so over the top I bailed out before the transfer date. My wife and I were showered with letters about authorization numbers, pin numbers, membership numbers, plastic cards, even pin numbers for website, all different for internet and phone and for each of us, some ten letters to date, and still counting. It seemed as if they wanted to lock our money into their safe for *their* safekeeping, never to be retrieved again - they hope. Come on, let's be sensible about this. Life it too short.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Have Publishers Finally Lost the Plot?

Have you stepped into a UK bookshop lately? Suddenly there seems to be an upsurge of trade paperbacks: you know, those large, weighty tomes the size of hardbacks. In fact, they are hardbacks disguised as paperbacks. And guess what. They cost a lot more than conventional paperbacks. You get larger print for your money, and more paper - if a heavy wad of the stuff is what you want - but what you don't get is something light and easy to carry around and read - like a Kindle, say. (Oh, and Kindle can do large print as well!)

Yes, I think publishers have finally lost the plot. I imagine this is their desperate response to the trend towards the eBook reader. But if people want cheap and light reading material, as they get with an eBook reader, why would trade paperbacks be the answer to pull them back to print publications? I can see that the publisher expects to get a bigger profit because of the higher price, and there is no work to do if the hardback has already been published: just slap on different covers. But do readers want to pay a higher price and clog up more of their bookshelf? So, please, think on. I prefer paperbacks to Kindles, I like to see more than a paragraph at a time, I like the smell and feel of a book, I like books on my bookshelf, but I HATE holding heavy ones. I avoided hardbacks because of this (and price), and I shall avoid trade paperbacks for the same reason. And if that trend continues, it might well push me over the edge to Kindle!

Publishers got themselves into this pickle when they went for quick profits - at the cost of not developing new authors to take them into the future. Now they are reaping a lean harvest as a return. We are now at another ground-breaking point, so might I now humbly suggest that publishers forget trying to re-invent print and embrace the eBook while establishing a sensible price that becomes standard. They do not, after all, have Tesco twisting their arm in this arena. Self-publishing authors are forced to charge peanuts for eBooks, but something significantly above the £1/$1 mark, yet below the paperback mark, would be ideal as a norm. It might allow self-publishers to charge something similar instead of working for scraps. And given the low production costs for eBooks compared with print, please can publishers then be fair with authors and give they a high royalty? And a budget towards promotion, too? After all, promotion is all the publisher can tempt the author with when the can quite easily publish an eBook themselves.

The people who reap rewards with eBooks do so through bulk sales. Hear that, publishers? BULK SALES? Go for that - with a mid-price - and everyone can win: authors, publishers and readers.

So far as print is concerned, the sale-or-return model that publishers have used for generations was never a good one, and that should now be trashed - instead of returned books. Offer retailers more profit margin as compensation for no returns, and offer authors a higher royalty when you don't have to build in the budget for recycling returned books to make motorways.

Now, despite all this electronic stuff, we must not see the death of the printed book. And I am sure we will not. But we must embrace the electronic word as well. Now is the time to establish some common sense when it comes to pricing and royalties and in the way forward in both print and eBook. The trouble is, common sense is not all that common when it comes to breaking a mould.