Category: Attack Hitler’s Bunker!

My special offers this week and: How do you market your books?

This week: OCD Update, special offers and: How do you market your books?

OCD Update
I am proud to announce that today is my first OCD-FREE day of this year (and for about 20 years for that matter!). It is probably just an excersise but if it works I will stick to it.

Basically I woke up this morning, took a long, hard look at things and decided I didn’t have time for the OCD any more. Anyway, my fear of getting fatal diseases (like AIDs for instance) simply haven’t come true, probably because I have been very careful. For whatever reason, now seems a good time to try this. I already feel I have burned my bridges somewhat so there may not be any way back in the short term.

No doubt, my mind will try to take over and my ‘OCD-self’ will try to gain the upper hand so watch this space. But if you don’t hear any more about my OCD, then I am free of it. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed.

In order to achieve an OCD-FREE state, I need to be very focused on something; I get bored very easily and I have a hyperactive mind, so expect me to be working very hard on the books and promoting myself in the near future. Read on, if you are interested in the promotion and please do buy one of my books if you are at all interested in my views or stories. I really appreciate the support of all of you and I would love to sell more books!

To mark the occasion of my OCD-FREE day attempt, I have changed one of the eyes of my twitter and Facebook header’s. It now represents blue sky, for optimism.

How do you market your books?
This question has plagued me recently. My sales almost stopped after 10 March. I could see no reason why. My sales were good for January and February. I was beginning to sell books at a higher price so I was happy. Then, the slump! I have thought long and hard about it and I conclude that the only possible cause must be that I am marketing less hard lately.

So I have created some new marketing images (see below) and I will be trying a few tools other than the infamous Facebook adverts over the next few weeks.

I have discovered these 2 tools:
https://app.adroll.com/dashboard
http://www.advertisingwebservice.co.uk

I will be spending half of my profits (after personal hours spent writing!) on adverts so I will let you know how I get on.

If anybody has tried either of these tools or knows anything else I can try other than Facebook or Google ads – both of which I have tried and had limited success, please let me know.

I have found that although I can achieve a fairly high CTR (click through rate) of 0.08% on Facebook, these simply don’t convert to sales. This may be because my blurb about the books doesn’t appeal or because my ads don’t relate clearly enough what I am offering. If anybody has any interesting views on this that they wish to share, please do.

Special offers
A reminder: Inchoate: (Short Stories: Volume I) is FREE if you are in the States and I have added Vampire Beneficence to it. Get it here: http://bit.ly/IRGYaE
Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate will be 99c from Friday 2 May until Tuesday 6 May. Get it here: http://bit.ly/15R1xOL

Below are the new marketing images, including my first attempt at a Lazlo Ferran logo. Please let me have your opinions and any other ideas I can try for marketing.

The new Lazlo Ferran logo in red
The new Lazlo Ferran logo in red
The new Lazlo Ferran logo in white
The new Lazlo Ferran logo in white
Ordo lupus and the Temple Gate advert image
Ordo lupus and the Temple Gate advert image
The Devil's Own Dice advert image
The Devil’s Own Dice advert image
Attack Hitler's Bunker advert image
Attack Hitler’s Bunker advert image

How do you get an RAF fighter to Berlin and back in 1943?

This week: U-Boat through Straits of Gibraltar Competition Winner and the new competition: How do you get an RAF fighter to Berlin and back in July 1943?

Sorry for the hiatus in the last week: first I had a bad cold and then my fridge-freezer broke two days ago! Anyway I’m back.

How do you get an RAF fighter to Berlin and back in July 1943?
Since my post about getting a U-boat through the Straits of Gibraltar was my most popular yet, here is a similar post. Let me explain the mission: you need a fighter small enough to fly down Unter den Linden (the equivalent of Oxford Street in Berlin), carrying 1000 lb bombs. The fighter needs to be able to negotiate the Brandenburg gate and fly low over the Reich Chancellery garden and still manage to land somewhere far enough from Berlin that the pilot can safely get back to England. There is only one RAF fighter that could do all this in 1943: the Hawker Hurricane II.

Hawker Hurricane_IIHere is an image of a Hawker Hurricane II.

However the range of the Hurricane II was only 650 miles: that would barely even reach Berlin from Norfolk, let alone get you back.

Short StirlingOf course the contemporary British heavy bombers could reach Berlin and the Lancaster and Stirling could each carry at least 10 tons of bombs that far. Shown here is Short Stirling.

If you have read my book Attack Hitler’s Bunker! or even read the synopsis you might have a clue how 700 Squadron does this for the daring mission in my book.

One possibility would be drop tanks: in 1943 the Germans had already used drop tanks on Stukas and were experimenting with them on Bf 109s. The Americans were also interested and about to introduce a drop tank on the P-47 Thunderbolt. A drop tank is a container attached to the bottom of either each wing or the fuselage which contains 200-500 gallons of fuel. This would extend the P-47 Thunderbolt’s range so that it could reach Berlin. However this wouldn’t actually become operational until September and the British had nothing similar at the time of the mission’s planning; July 1943.

Of course you have to think about lots of other variables and options:
1. Could you remove the guns to save weight?
2. Could you remove anything else to save even more weight?
3. Could you add bigger fuel tanks?
4. Could you use a different type of fuel?
5. Could you use a different type of engine?

P-47 Thunderbolt with Drop tanksShown here is a P-47 Thunderbolt carrying drop tanks.

How would you do it? Answers please by posting a comment here. Best answer gets a free eBook of December Radio when it is published this year.

U-Boat through Straits of Gibraltar Competition Winner
Daniel, the first to comment has won the competition and an Ebook of December Radio when it is published. Well done Daniel.

Apologies for the non-appearance of the guest post by Lifelongexplorer. Job commitments took precedence over blogging. Perhaps he will be able to post something soon.

Blog: The Taste of First Blood

This week: Werewolves in Mauritius, Rewards for Reviews, Short Stirling aircraft recovery, Video Blog Tour

Werewolves in Mauritius
I often feel like a rabbit in the headlights when it comes to blog time. I simply haven’t prepared anything much and I am so busy, yet I want to give something to my readers and fans. This week it is a little easier because I came across this article on Werewolves in Mauritius. Actually it’s not the original recent article I was looking for – I heard of this phenomenon back in the summer – but the frequency of reports shows just how steeped in Werewolf culture Mauritius is.

Werewolves – or Loup Garou – the French equivalent word – inhabit the Mauritian subconscious like the sea and sun of this gorgeous island. They are said to prowl the streets and night, rape women and appear as naked men covered in oil. They are also said to be able to vanish at will but despite having such supernatural powers, they are not averse to a little high-tech gadgetry in their lives. The most recent spate of sighting this year included several eye-witness accounts of the Loup Garou carrying mobile phones and even talking on them!

I am fascinated by Vampire and werewolf… shall we call it culture, for now; I hate the terms mythology and legend. To me, vampires and werewolves are part of our very deepest emotions and views of the world. I believe man has had the idea of vampires and werewolves since he could visualise his own existence. Indeed I have been slowly developing a para-world that includes this as part of its fundamental structure. They may not be part of the physical world around us but their effect is.

I am equally fascinated by werewolves and I think they fit a similar niche in our inner-most thoughts. Shape-shifters or lycanthropes all, and welcome to my world if you believe. To this category we might also add the classic zombie – a creature which is also undead and loves the taste of human flesh. Their only real disadvantage is that they are rather impractically slow. I seriously doubt zombies of the classic Hollywood type could catch a hedge-hog, let alone a terrified human. Perhaps if we allow them a little more speed they too fit this category?

Whether you believe in the benevolent lycanthropes of early Medieval culture, or Jewish views of the seductive Lilith, or the predatory creatures of Hammer Horror, they fascinate most of us.

Getting back to Mauritius, of which I now have some knowledge, this island seems to regard werewolves as no more unusual than rain storm although they engender a much greater fear. A few things strike me about the Mauritian view:

1. The sightings are often most frequent just before, during or after a cyclone. Some claim (as quoted in the linked news report above) that these rumours are circulated by the government to deflect criticism away from their Prime Minister who claims a divine ability to stop Cyclones. If so, making the people even more terrified seems a bad tactic at a time of devastation.
2. Mauritius is not the only island subjected to tropical storms which has an endemic belief in this collection of supernatural beings. Haiti is regularly subjected to these storms and has some of the most fascinating zombie tales of all.
3. Mauritius is not the only former French colony to believe in these supernatural monsters – Haiti does too.
4. Mauritius is not the only Creole speaking community that believes in these creatures. Haiti does too.
5. Mautitius is not the only culture steeped in Voodoo that believes in these creatures. Haiti, and in fact most Caribbean islands do. Some of these use Creole too. Here is the Wikipedia page on Zombies in Haiti.

I think you probably see where I am going with this; rather than the standard view that fear of and belief in shape-changers and zombies comes from backward, third-world countries, are we looking at a belief culture that is being propagated from France – indeed the France of the middle ages?

I believe so. Furthermore, I speculate in my books, Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, and The Devil’s Own Dice, that these creatures are born of the clash of two great cultures – the European and the Eastern which met like great tectonic plates in the Balkans and forced belief systems like Catharism into being some time between the 6th and 10th Centuries.

I do believe whatever forces brought up vampires, werewolves and zombies from the very uttermost depths of our souls, are still acting as well-springs of secret desires and fears today. I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts?

Rewards for Reviews
I am reducing the price of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate to £2.99 for Christmas but I still need more reviews. I also need reviews for my new book Attack Hitler’s Bunker! As you will see further down in this blog post, I am planning a Video Blog Tour for both books soon and more reviews would certainly help persuade more people to try them. So, if you submit a review of either book to Amazon in December or January I will give over my blog for one day to you to post about your book, cd or any other product (within reason!) I will also include you in my Video Blog Tours which will provide you with loads of traffic and plenty of material to post about in the form of interviews. Two things you probably don’t know about these two books:
1) There is a pass called Pas de Loup near Rennes-le-Château which I feature in The Devil’s Own Dice. To the best of my knowledge this translates as Wolf Pass. No idea why it has that name.
2) I knew the Hollywood Oscar Winner Cliff Robertson towards the end of his life through a brief correspondence. He was a very skilled pilot and owned a Spitfire for many years. He was partly the inspiration for Attack Hitler’s Bunker!

So hurry up and get reviewing!

Short Stirling aircraft recovery
stirling
If you’ve been following my blog you will know that I write about, and am mad-keen on World War Two aircraft. I first came across the Short Stirling – the first British 4-engined bomber of WWII, when I made an Airfix model of it in my childhood. Since then I have often wanted to see a real one but there are no Short Stirlings left in the world. This seems a great shame to me. The Stirling Aircraft Society is doing its best to rectify this. Time is running out now for WWII aircraft wrecks that are viable restoration projects. After 70 years those left are mostly in the sea and too corroded to lift. The recent Dornier Do 17 lifted off the English coast may be one of the last that is raised. Let’s hope its not too late for the Stirling.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw a video on youtube showing a fairly intact example, dived on my a French team. I regularly scan the web for any news about Stirlings and hadn’t seen this. I watched it again and then immediately reported it to one of the senior members of The Stirling Aircraft Society. He told me he had seen it and tried to contact the divers but nobody had replied. Knowing how tricky it can be to communicate with youtube, I was determined to try and contact them myself. After a lot of googling and guess-work I found two email addresses and fired off two friendly emails. I received two enthusiastic replies and was able to put them in touch with the Society. Things are moving along now, with both teams working on identifying the aircraft so that the French Authorities can be contacted for permission to dive the wreck. I would be very happy if anything comes of this. Let’s hope so. If you want to watch the video, it’s here. The wreck is on its back but seems relatively intact and in shallow water. If you are interested in The Stirling Aircraft Society, they are here. As an interim measure the Society is attempting to build a replica of the forward fuselage section of a Stirling and you can read about it here. Short Stirlings feature heavily in my WWII action thriller Attack Hitler’s Bunker! Click on the menu item at the top of this page if you want to grab a copy!

Video Blog Tour
I am planning Video Blog Tours – or VBTs for both Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate and Attack Hitler’s Bunker! soon. This will hopefully be a series of interviews I do about these books with the questions set by other blogs talking about related subjects. So if you are blogging about Vampires, Werewolves, WWII, the Luftwaffe, RAF, Short Stirlings or allied bombers of WWII please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. I am now following a long list of such blogs so if I don’t hear from you, I will be in touch!

Blog: Amazon Women on the Moon – Lazlo Ferran

This week: Walking in Buckinghamshire, Reviews, OCD update, Badger culling, Free Offers

Walking in Buckinghamshire
There is no sneak preview this week because the stuff I am working on is very complex and time-consuming. Hence I haven’t actually written that much. If I do sneak previews every week there would be no need to publish. Instead I will tell you about my ramble in the Chiltern Hills of Bucks on Sunday. It was a beautiful day. Originally I had intended to go on Saturday but it clouded over. The forecast said Sunday would be more completely overcast but warmer. In the end, there actually was some sun. The autumn leaves thickly carpet the ground now and bathed these ancient clay woods with a yellow light. I used to spend a lot of time there in my childhood but I don’t remember them looking more bewitching. Most were still in church so the woods were quiet although I had a strange incident. As I parked my car among those of the worshippers at a tiny church, the priest spotted me and said, “Ah! You!”.
He looked Asian which intrigued me; this area of Bucks is true-blue Conservative terrortory (ha! ha! Pun intended). I thought by the way he was talking that he must recognise me from my youth although this seemed very unlikely as I didn’t recognise him and I have a very good memory for faces. When I walked up to him, a crowd gathered around the ‘stranger’ and I asked, “Do you know me?”
He said, “No!”
I wanted to say, “What the fuck did you speak to me like that for then?” but I just said I remembered the place, and the priest, before his time. The onlookers relaxed and nodded with everything I said. I explained I was here to walk and that I had to leave. He mumbled something and seemed to physically reach out for me.
‘Desperate,’ I thought.
I walked away and heard others saying they, “Had to leave.” The crowd scattered and he was left alone.
I know the church is getting desperate – I am a believer but I don’t like the ritualised formality of Church – but why do they have to try desperate tactics like pretending they know you? It’s more like the sort of behaviour I expect from evangelical Born-Again Christians on Tottenham High Road.
Anyway the beauty of the woods soon relaxed me. The sun also came out and while walking along an old track I saw some mushrooms growing on a tree-stump. I had a clean, spare bag with me so I picked them up with this to take home for cooking. Later a woman walking her dog passed and smiled. Even later still she crept up on me and asked me if I was ‘mushrooming’. I had to deny it, explaining I had only picked half a handful. Funny that in this day and age you have to defend picking a few mushrooms. I have head of criminals being caught with 40 tonnes of topsoil containing blue-bells in May. They are the real criminals. But it was all good-natured on Saturday. As the sun began to set I started back towards my car. Imagine my surprise when I saw a dark brown butterfly or moth. I think it was a butterfly actually, but I can’t be sure. Either way to see large lepidoptera on 1 December is very unusual. Perhaps its not so cold an autumn as I thought. I also passed a line of very ancient cherry trees. These are some of the oldest in Britain and nobody is quite sure why they have lived so long or grown so tall. No longer yielding any berries, nevertheless they tower majestically some 80-100 feet above the main path. Normally its unusual for cherry trees to grow taller than a two-storey house. If you know of any similarly tall ones, let me know.
I did notice that the woodland quiet was rent by the squarkings of thousands of birds. Even the pigeons were singing at the top of their lungs. I have no idea why and its the first time I have noticed this.
Then it was back to the car and a nice drive home with a Snickers along the way to fill my hungry stomach.

Update: Despite thoroughly using all the websites I could find to identify the mushrooms, I could not do so. I had to throw them away; there are mushrooms which are so poisonous you have to have a kidney transplant to survive.

OCD update
I am now four weeks into the new course of intensive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I must say doing it once per week instead of every three weeks is helping a lot. My therapist is not wasting time either. He is really encouraging me in getting to the root of the issue and I am even attempting ‘exposures’ myself. ‘Exposure’s are instances of attempting something you usually avoid when you have OCD. In the woods on Sunday I jumped off a fence and although I was wearing gloves, I had to put my hand down during a heavy landing and some mud got on my hands. Normally I would probably get pretty anxious about this but I left it (after checking there were no rabbit droppings on that patch of soil!). Later I cleaned my hand with some clean grass and that was it! When I returned home I didn’t even clean my hands before eating. This could be progress but we will see after I discuss it with my therapist. There was a funnier incident when, in the middle of some dense undergrowth, I found an old abandoned and collapsed shed with some kind of large, heavy bowl outside. It was full of black water and could have once been a tractor hub or something. In any case somebody – probably one of the gypsies who were frequent visitors in the 60s – probably used it as a stove. It was very heavy. I tried turning it over with my foot to see what it was. I couldn’t move it at first but then it moved slightly and spilled all its contents on my foot. Normally I would be horrified; after all there could be anything in that old water. This time I just accepted it as a test. I later thought of the phrase, ‘getting reinfected with reality’ to describe my feelings about it. I will keep you updated, as usual, with my OCD. If you suffer from OCD, or think you do, do not hesitate to seek help. There is plenty out there, even if you just google it on the web. Some websites offer self-help guides but you can get help for free on the NHS although the waiting lists are about 10 weeks at the moment. If you are not sure but think you might have OCD, these are some of my symptoms:
1. Obsessive and repeated washing of hands, accompanied by rituals
2. Fear of dust and germs
3. Anxiety when going outside unless wearing gloves
4. Generally repeating actions a lot to make sure you did them correctly
5. Episodes of Brain-block: this is where your mind gets stuck and you find it hard to start of finish an action. OCD sufferers often have great difficulty moving from ‘inactive’ activities (such as thinking, sleeping) to active activities (such as walking, moving)
6. Using rituals to avoid certain unpleasant thoughts.
This book by David Veale is excellent as a starter but do seek professional help: Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques. I may well do an OCD page in the near future with some useful resources.

Badger Culling
It seems that the two experimental culls have come up way short of the 70% fatality they were aiming at. For those not following this grim story, the Government led culls need to kill at least 70% of the badgers in any area to effectively wipe them out. Any less than this and the colony will survive. The hope is that even babies safe in the set will not survive if 70% of the whole group is not killed.
Of course the Government is claiming ‘illegal activity’ on behalf of protesters as the cause of the failure. Frankly, I don’t care as long as it stops. Killing innocent animals when an effective vaccine (just requiring a little more time and Government investment) is just around the corner is inhumane. Perhaps David Cameron and George Osborne are just hoping an excuse for a return to hunting is in the air?

Reviews
I have had some great reviews on Amazon lately. Here are two:

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate
Exciting read
In the genre of The Da Vinci Code, this is a good read. It is well plotted, very well researched & I liked the characters. If you liked the Da Vinci Code, you will like this book.

Attack Hitler’s Bunker!
Great read
Great concept.It really captured the dedication and spirit.Not to mention the bravery it took to stand up to the task of defeating an evil axis.

Free Offers
With the exception of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, And Attack Hitler’s Bunker!, all my kindle books will be free for periods between now and Christmas to give you a chance to give one as a present.

Other News
In case you’re wondering this title is from the excellent and very funny 1987 film. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. The title is also a reference to my issues with Amazon this week.
I have become weary of sellers on Amazon offering my paperback books at extortionate prices even up to £40 in one case. There are currently more copies on offer than I have actually sold. This means either sellers are offering them (including used and quoting the condition ) before actually buying them or buying them, tearing them apart, copying them and printing them.
I spoke to Amazon’s support about this and the representative said Amazon allows them to charge whatever they like for products and cannot prove if they like and has no way of checking whether they have actually bought the item or not. It seems they don’t even care if the item is a fake or illegal copy. He said the onus was on me to prove something illegal was going on and than to email copyright@amazon.com.
Consequently I have had to spend quite a bit of time getting a detailed royalty payment history from Createspace – who publish my books. I mentioned that Amazon own Createspace but was told it made no difference. They still couldn’t access the data on my behalf! Now I have emailed Amazon at the above email address with the detailed account history and list of the offenders I have found on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. I have also emailed the sellers directly warning them of my actions (one of them – any_book removed the book immediately, another – gb_book is trying to, so they tell me! Another Pamaxs hasn’t responded). If you see these sellers, avoid them. I have also put up the prices of most of the books (older books and Iron I being the exceptions) to make it not worth while anybody copying one and selling it. If you are selling a paperback at a low price and it’s popular, watch out! Somebody might be copying it and selling it!
I guess for a writer publishing on Amazon, being independent means having no support at all!

Update: I just received Amazon’s reply (although I don’t understand it or their apparent lack of interest)
“Amazon respects a manufacturer’s right to enter into exclusive distribution agreements for its products. However, as the enforcement of these agreements is a matter of contract between the manufacturer and the distributors, it would not be appropriate for Amazon to assist in enforcing these agreements.”

Elsewhere
I was a big fan of Time Team in its early days. In recent years its got a bit too long in the tooth. I was fascinated by their Special programme on the 1066 Battlefield. I would love to see more like this. I only regret that they didn’t have enough time to do more than speculate that the actually centre of the battle was at the centre of Battle (no pun intended). Let’s hope they have another go soon. No evidence of the battle has ever been found but it has to be there somewhere.
I have also found the recent series on the Cold War fascinating. It’s very worth watching if you can get it on catch-up TV if only for the idea that Brent Cross shopping centre won Britain and the US the Cold War! The series has been good material for my current project (hint!). The presenter is a bit too pro-Maggie Thatcher for my liking; I am one of those who narrowly avoided a prison sentence for busking under her ‘iron’ rule. Many people suffered terribly and who can forget the pole-tax?

Blog: Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall

This week: Attack Hitler’s Bunker released and a sneak preview.

Attack Hitler’s Bunker
This book is now available as a kindle book on Amazon and will be available as a paperback in the next 6 days. Response has been good so far, plenty of people have responded to my posts and tweets: 190 people read the first post on Facebook which is a higher figure than in the past.

Sneak Preview
This week’s is from a story which I am provisionally calling December Radio (I might have referred to it in the past as September Radio but it’s just a working title). I am back working on this now and I will attempt to complete this before December. This book can best be described as WWII/sci-fi and is about a whole number of characters in the War gradually discovering a secret plot by some unknown enemy. They do this through evidence from a series of supernatural events. It’s quite an existential project.

December Radio
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

07.56. The signal was not clear. Eric thought he might be dreaming. He tried to feel for the signal, twisting the knurled radio tuning knob. He watched the needle hover around 550KHz. Faint, but audible he heard again a Morse code signal: “May Day. May Day. KG100 1H H-Heinz, ditching seven miles north-west of Ostend.” Seven miles north-west of Ostend, and 100 feet beneath the bottle green North Sea swell, a conger eel settled back into the Daimler-Benz cowling on the Heinkel 111 H-Heinz, his home for the last two weeks. The decaying, pale corpses of the two crew members were unable to escape, then and now. They were wafted by the strong current, slow-motion dancers.

***

The farmer’s wife smelled, to her husband, of freshly baked bread. He nuzzled the nape of her neck. The howling wind, screaming across the Veldt was banished from this bedroom, as on many other nights, by the warmth of their love for each other. He slid his ham-hand under her night-dress and around her large, soft breast. She lifted her arm to grant him access.
“Are you asleep?” he whispered.
“No dear.”
Feeling himself stiffen, in response to the call from her timeless body, he eased up the hem of her dress – the one with pretty red flowers which had been a gift from her mother before her death, and placed his hand firmly on the her rounded haunch. His breathing quickened. Hers quickened in reciprocation.
“Can I?”
“Yes.”

Other News
I don’t know if the film in this week’s blog title is any good or not – I haven’t seen it, but I do know that Spike Milligan was a very funny man so this is my tribute to him.

Attack Hitler’s Bunker! Released today

attack-finalAttack Hitler’s Bunker! – a Wartime action adventure about an air-attack on Hitler in Berlin featuring Short stirlings, Hurricane’s and a love-triangle is newly released on Amazon today @ $.99. http://ow.ly/oNW5w GET YOUR FIRST EDITION NOW!