Brian Stephen John


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House of Angels -- free for Kindle

By Brian Stephen John, 2013-02-14

Hello all --- House of Angels (volume 2 of the Angel Mountain saga) is free for # Kindle for 5 days as from today . Martha takes a terrible revenge on the villains who have done untold damage to her and her family. This is a Regency tale, but Jane Austen would not have approved -- her little world was so placid that she wouldn't have survived for a moment in the Wild West of Wales.

Five of the 8 novels of the Saga are available for the Kindle -- download and enjoy!!


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Giving away books on Kindle

By Brian Stephen John, 2012-05-24

Very interesting business, this. Having put 5 of my Angel Mountain novels onto the Kindle Store on Amazon, everybody has been telling me that I must do a free promotion. So I have set it all up, and "On Angel Mountain" is available free, for 5 days (that's the maximum allowed in a 90-day period).

So far so good. But it's incredibly difficult to find a new "freebie" like this on the Amazon web site. There is a "top 100 free Kindle books" page, but to get onto that you have to have some free downloads in the bag, and the mechanics that operate are mysterious indeed. So how do you get the downloads rolling? Hard grind, I'm afraid -- lots of Emails to your friends and colleagues, lots of tweeting, lots of Facebook entries. Social media are the things that matter -- and apparently (according to the Ebook millionaires) word of mouth and twittering take over after a while, and your happy fans will run the whole marketing campaign for you by liking you, posting reviews, and texting one another.

Somehow or other I have got "On Angel Mountain" in to the top 100 free Kindle books, and it was up to number 39 last time I looked. It will probably pop up and down depending on how many downloads there are in each hour. There have been 1600 downloads so far -- which I suppose I should be happy about! Interestingly, as things got moving there was a 50-50 split between USA and UK downloads, but now downloads in the UK are about double those in the USA.

I'll keep you posted! here is the essential info, if anybody wants to download the book:

A Welsh bestseller, 26,000 pbs sold. Free /Kindle: On Angel Mountain - Brian John. Enjoy!

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Putting things onto Kindle

By Brian Stephen John, 2012-04-24

Hard grind, but I hope it's worth it...... I've spent most of the last week formatting and uploading five novels for Kindle, available from the Amazon websites worldwide. They tell you it's incredibly simple -- and indeed it is, if you want to upload any old rubbish. But if you want a novel that looks good, reads well, with a Table of Contents that works automatically, and with some chance of selling in that ultra-competitive world, you have to get it right.

So everything has to be transferred from Pages to Word, then reformatted with headings centred, page breaks taken out and put back in the places where they should be, indents for tables and lists etc etc ...... After one novel I felt dizzy and cross-eyed -- now, after five, I feel distinctly shell-shocked!

But Kindle is the way to go, since it makes book a available for a couple of dollars, and since there are all those people (mostly young people?) out there with their Kindles in their bags, commuting and reading every day. Replacing the old market, or just complementing it? Still not sure.......

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The Story of Wales -- a great opportunity missed

By Brian Stephen John, 2012-03-04

The big BBC Wales TV series (made with the cooperation of the OU, Uncle Tom Cobbley et al) has shown two programmes out of the six so far -- and it's proving to be a grave disappointment. The BBC calls it one of the most ambitious series ever produced in Wales. Hmmm. It's full of technical wizardry -- history and archaeology programmes these days clearly have to have computer generated reconstructions of absolutely everything, so as Huw Edwards paddles around in a little rowing boat on Llangorse Lake, a leafy island is miraculously transformed into a busy crannog. You know the sort of thing.....

I think this series is closely modelled on a series last year about the History of Scotland (wasn't the OU also involved, and wasn't Neil Oliver the front man on that one?) Well, this is very much in the Neil Oliver mould -- but this time there's far too much Huw Edwards and far too little of everything else, as Huw struts manfully on top of beetling cliffs, wanders across mountainsides and through verdant pastures, holding forth about this and that. You know the sort of thing...... the trouble is that it's all very shallow and actually rather boring, and I'm beginning to long for just a little humour -- and maybe even a little scepticism and discussion of some issues where there may actually be a little disagreement. Come back, Neil -- all is forgiven!! The commentary (who wrote it, I wonder?) is so terribly sincere and EARNEST.........

There are so many pious platitudes and portentious pronouncements that I am already tearing my hair out, just after two episodes. You know the sort of thing: "This was now the beginning of the end for the world as they knew it....." -- "Nothing would ever be the same again...." -- "For the first time in the history of Wales, something new had happened...." -- "and so the ancient order was swept away..." -- "the old world was disappearing, to be replaced by the new..." --- "This great new leader stirred the soul of the nation as never before..." and so on, and so on, ad infinitum. Seldom can so many cliches have been fitted into a single hour of TV time. I'm actually quite impressed -- is there a BAFTA for cliche density?

No expense has been spared in this series. Every now and then, so that we can get a few seconds without Huw on the screen, there are a few flashing images of hairy fellows dressed up as warriors, or monks, or priests, or Roman legionnaires, with mighty sounds of battle, flames, screams, and flashing weapons. I'm sure I've seen the same faces twenty times already in different guises ..... by the end of the series we'll all be very familiar with them. The other technique is to have some sturdy fellow (they all seem to be men) in fancy dress gazing manfully into the camera lens as it zooms in on him........ It might be Hywel Dda, or Llewelyn the Great, or Owain Glyndwr..... but these fellows do look very fierce and very imposing. Sometimes they look pensive, or even enigmatic, with furrowed brows and a grim set to the jaw. Did any of them ever smile, I wonder, when they were alive?

Lighten up, chaps! History should be fun!!

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Time to hassle BBC Wales TV....

By Brian Stephen John, 2012-01-20

I hope there are some out there who will agree with me that BBC Wales has been somewhat tardy is using its fantastic skill in the making of TV dramas for programmes about Wales. I don't think it has ever made a costume drama set in Wales and designed to show Wales to the world in the way that Poldark has done for Cornwall or Dr Finlay has done for Scotland! With my Angel Mountain books now well established and very popular, my wife is organizing a little campaign to try and convince the BBC Wales bosses to take on the Angel Mountain books (well, the first one first, and then we will see how things go...) as a dramatization and production project which will entertain audiences within the UK and also promote Wales abroad.

If you are interested in this idea, please look at Inger's letter here:

and feel free to write and tell the BBC what you think!

Inger has written to all her friends and contacts to ask them to help. Many letters have already gone to the BBC. We are fully aware that this is a rather blatant bit of campaigning and lobbying, but the BBC is fully in the picture, and since they are currently considering a proposal from me, every extra person that hassles them might (we hope) increase the chances of something positive happening....

Thank you!

PS. And by the way, Martha Morgan is far sexier and far more interesting than Lizzie Bennet!

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A Famous Welshman: Sir Thomas Picton, hero or villain?

By Brian Stephen John, 2011-12-15

A Famous Welshman: Sir Thomas Picton, hero or villain?

Purely by chance, just as I was putting the finishing touches to my new novel, I came across the furore in the media about the status and reputation of Sir Thomas Picton, who figures very prominently in the story. He was one of Wellingtons closest lieutenants in the Battle of Waterloo, and the most senior officer to be killed in the battle. Wellington obviously disliked him intensely, and was not very supportive of the idea that he should be treated as a national hero and buried in St Pauls Cathedral -- but he was without doubt a very effective tactician and leader of men, and Wellington obviously valued him as a soldier who could be trusted to deliver on the battlefield. He was uncultured, foul-mouthed, and short tempered, and was clearly very different in temperament from many of the other army officers of the time, who more often than not came from the ranks of the gentry.

Sir Thomas made his reputation in the West Indies, where he was eventually appointed Governor of Trinidad -- which had been annexed by the British from Spain. As Governor, he ruled with a rod of iron on the principle of Let them hate me, as long as they fear me. He was sadistic and brutal, and used torture and summary executions without trial as a matter of course, to maintain peace on the slave plantations and in the mixed population of free people of mixed races, in which the white settlers were very much in the minority. He claimed that everything he did was in the national interest and was designed for the upkeep of law and order, but a buildup of resentment against his brutal and sadistic regime came to a head when he authorized the torture of a mulatto girl called Louisa Calderon, who was either 13 or 11 years old at the time. She was tortured by a method called picketing -- so as to obtain a confession from her. She was tortured on two successive days, and then imprisoned in irons for a further 8 months. Picton was recalled to Britain and prosecuted, and in a famous court case in 1806 he had to face the wrath of William Garrow, the most famous barrister of the day (as seen on BBC TV!) charged with the torture of a free child. He was found guilty, but powerful allies (including many plantation owners) rallied to his cause and obtained a retrial, at which he was acquitted on the technicality that although the British were in charge on the island, Spanish law still applied! That was of course ludicrous, and Pictons reputation was destroyed.........

Later on he sought to redeem himself through service to his country, and by invitation from Wellington, he resumed his military career, being closely involved in the campaign against Napoleon in Spain and Portugal.

In Trinidad, and in many other places as well, Picton is seen as a brutal thug who should never have held high office and been given a place in St Pauls Cathedral, let alone honoured in place names in Wales and on the island which he terrorised. Streets and even a large secondary school in Haverfordwest are named after him, and of course there is the impressive Picton Monument in Carmarthen -- and one might ask with some justification whether his achievements on the battlefield were sufficient for him to be accorded this level of respect. There is a portrait of him in the Carmarthen court room, and some people who have a real respect for our principles of justice want it removed, in the light of the fact that in his lifetime he applied summary justice, terrorised a whole community, and showed a cavalier disregard for the law. The campaigners have a point.

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Author Celebrates Ten Years with Young Mistress

By Brian Stephen John, 2011-12-09

This Christmas Welsh author Brian John is celebrating ten years in the company of hie eccentric and feisty heroine Martha Morgan, who has become one of the best-loved characters in Welsh fiction.
Mistress Martha made her first appearance in the novel On Angel Mountain in the year 2001, in what was the author's first work of fiction. The book was an instant success, and had to be reprinted within two months of first publication. Ten years later, it is still in the Welsh best-seller list, and sales have racked up to over 25,000 copies. The novel has been followed by six others, each one featuring the same heroine and following a different phase of her life in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Angel Mountain Saga now has a worldwide cult following, and many readers refer to the heroine as "Mother Wales" -- in that she personifies all that is good (and bad) in the Welsh psyche.
Brian is staggered by the success of the novels, in which the heroine herself is the narrator. "She is a deeply flawed heroine, " he says, "and maybe that is why so many people empathise with her. Although the stories are set at the same time as those of Jane Austen, there is no sign of that precious and rarified Regency world in Martha's Wales -- in some ways it had more in common with the Wild West, with lust and betrayal, murder and mayhem pulling the heroine -- and her guardian angels -- into appalling situations over and again. But in spite of everything, she survives, to die in a manner of her own choosing........."
This Christmas, Brian will be chatting to fans of the series and signing copies of all seven of the Angel Mountain books at Victoria Bookshop in Haverfordwest, Scolton Manor, and Ocean Lab in Fishguard. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the "birth" of Martha Morgan, all books purchased will carry an entry ticket for a prize draw, with a full signed set of the novels going to the winner.

Further information: Brian John on 01239-820470


1. Venues for the signings: Ocean Lab, Fishguard, Sunday 11th December, 11.30 am - 1.30 pm; Victoria Bookshop, Haverfordwest, Friday 16th December, 11.30 am - 1.30 pm; Scolton Manor, near Haverfordwest, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th December, 11 am - 4 pm

2. Web site, including reviews:

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Wales hard done by!

By Brian Stephen John, 2011-10-15

That sending off by referee Rolland was totally misjudged -- it changed the complexion of the whole match. It was not a malicious or really dangerous tackle -- Sam pulled out of it when he realised that Clerc was in the air. He was definitely not trying to harm an opponent -- he is not that type of player. Referees need to have empathy with the players and an ability to read a game -- that was one of the most crucial and insensitive decisions I have ever seen.

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