Monday, 30 April 2012

First impressions aren’t really that important. Are they?

You probably noticed that I launched my new novel Working from Home: Mixing business with pleasure? recently. One of the stressful situations I put my characters through in the name of literature was walking into a roomful of strangers – otherwise known as business networking breakfasts.

Usually you know a few people at any meeting you attend but being new in this I knew one attendee when I sauntered through the door of my local 4networking business breakfast. Well, perhaps sauntering is not quite the correct word to use.

The trouble started before the event when I realised that none of my ironed shirts had a pocket. This lack of pocket means your name badge swings askew and people have to twist their necks to read your name.

I decided to risk it and wear a shirt and suit that between them offered no name badge clipping opportunities. Why? Because I feel good in it and I think self-confidence is more important in a first impression than looking immaculate. After all, my second impression is a long way from perfection. I try to be charming, sometimes I am funny, but I often get tongue-tied and forget important names.

The weather was atrocious and the rain had blasted most of the pink blossom from a cherry tree onto my car. So I set off to the meeting driving a pink and silver car that left a confetti trail of pink petals behind me. That first impression is starting to look a bit comedic.

I found the venue, but had a long sprint through the torrential rain to the entrance where I shook myself off in the foyer. I took a deep breath and walked into the meeting where lots of dry, unruffled people were chatting over coffee. The first thing that anyone said to me is “Did you walk all the way here?”

The good news is that I was welcomed very warmly to a fun group of people who livened up the morning with lots of banter and business. I was surprised to find quite a few of them had already bought my book and it had been discussed as ‘business networking with sex’. I will use this in my marketing in future as it obviously works.

If you have never experienced walking into a room of strangers and leaving a roomful of new friends then I suggest you give business networking a shot.

I know you’re wondering where I put my name tag but in the end it wasn’t relevant. The members had name tags but I didn’t need one so my choice for feel-good clothes worked. Sort of. After about 15 minutes of me trying to be erudite and charming someone whispered to me that my jacket lapel was sticking up. It must have happened when I shook the water off it in the hotel foyer.

Considering that I made a few people laugh and I forgot the name of a few things, including my son’s school, I’d say that my first impression was spot on.

There’s lots of banter, laughs and even flirting in business networking meetings in my novel Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? available at the bargain price of £1.98/$3.10 on all e-readers (prices vary slightly), just choose a link on the top right of this blog. There’s also a lot of insider knowledge that might just help you start a business or sell your services.

You can find out more about 4Networking business networking here. (not an affiliate link, just for information).

Friday, 27 April 2012

Winner of Working from Home book launch competition to win a Kindle announced

I had a glimpse of Twitter celebrity status over the past week with the Working from home competition to win a Kindle. My ‘mentions’ column was running as fast as a senior politician after the Murdochs’ dropped them in it at the Leveson enquiry. It’s quite a relief to return to the manageable levels of cheeky banter that normally loiter there.

In all there were 643 entries into the competition from the retweets and the people who liked the Working from home Facebook page. I put the names into a spreadsheet and would you believe it that picked number 13? Lucky for some. Lucky for you? You’ll have to read on to find out!

Now, if 643 people had bought the book I would be a very happy bunny! I sold books in four different countries and from the early reviews it seems I have hit my goal of making people laugh out loud (three reviewers said they did and the fourth said it had ‘lots of laughs’. However, I did miss out on my challenging goal of breaking into the top 10 Kindle books.

Thank you for everyone who entered the competition and who shared, forwarded and generally told their friends about my book. If you were thinking of buying it but didn’t get round to it – now is a good time to do it!

You can buy Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? here for the bargain prices of £2.99

You DON’T need have a Kindle to read it. Amazon provide free apps so you can read it on your PC, Mac, iPad or smart phone. So go ahead and have a laugh with me.

Oh yes, you wanted to know who won the competition didn’t you? The lucky number 13 was a Twitter entry and is @networkinggirls. Congratulations to you and I’ll be in touch about getting the prize to you!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Welcome to the launch of the novel Working from Home and win a Kindle!

It’s taken blood, sweat and beers to get here but Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure has finally been launched and a bohemian storm is brewing!

The first reviews on Amazon show that Working from Home is making people laugh out loud:

"This is a fun, but yet informative novel which not only contains a racy, romantic storyline but highlights the power of networking in order to set up business." "this was a well-written book with points that made me laugh out loud" - June Louise

"The story line is funny, sexy, playful and warm and I enjoyed getting to know the characters and how they developed and related to one another." "King's portrayal of the stereotypical networking characters and their conversations and dynamics were so true to life they made me laugh out loud." - Kay Hebbourn

"What can be more fun than a book that mixes business with pleasure, a dash of romance and lots of laughs?" - Olive

Buy Working from home here on Amazon for the special price of £1.98 and start reading it in seconds! If you are not from the UK, you can also buy it on or Amazon in Spain, Germany, Italy and France.

Win a Kindle with Working from home

To celebrate the Working from home launch we are giving away an Amazon Kindle Wi Fi 6 inch worth £89 (or £90 of Amazon vouchers) to one lucky winner who helps with the campaign.

To enter the competition you need to either retweet my launch tweet on Twitter (my account is @RussWrites or you can copy and paste the tweet from the bottom of this article) or like the Working from Home Facebook page. If you do both you will get two entries. The promotion will run for a week and ends on April 24th (midnight).See bottom of article for boring bits about how I will select a winner.

How else can you help?

Please help a nervous writer who is wearing his lucky orange pants and staring at the computer screen watching four years work creeping up the Amazon charts.

Did I mention that you should buy the book? The first reviews are agreeing that it is laugh out loud so cheer yourself up for £2.99. You don't need a Kindle to read it. Amazon have free apps so you can read it on your PC, ipad, smartphone etc. You can buy it here.

Apart from that you can share this blog article on your social networks, email it to your friends or be really old-fashioned and just tell people about it.

My goal is to get Working from home into the top 10 Kindle charts so I can then work to keep it in the top 100. I’m up against some fantastic books, many of which have a lot of marketing money behind them. I will be SO grateful for your time and effort!

So far it has been settled in the top 50 for humorous fiction and just one sale helps it to push that further up where more people will see it while browsing on Amazon.

The small print for the competition

This is a serious competition and the prize will be picked at random. I’ll put all the entries (retweets or Facebook likes) into a spreadsheet listed and sort it alphabetically to remove any duplicates (in terms of people retweeting more than once – VERY welcome but only one entry will count). I will then use this web site to generate a random number from the number of entries. I aim to select the winner and get the prize to them within two weeks. If the winner is not in the UK I will send vouchers to cover the cost so they can buy the Kindle themselves.

You don’t have to buy a copy of Working from Home to enter the competition (but why wouldn't you?!)

Competition tweet

RT: @RussWrites RT to win a Kindle with fun novel Working from Home: Mixing business with pleasure? #workingfromhome

You can buy Working from home on Amazon here.

Thanks to and for spreading the news about the competition.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Could you help me with my hugely glamorous book launch for Working from Home?

I’m launching my new novel Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? on 18th April and I’m on a mission to get into the Kindle top 10. This is going to take the appearance of some gorgeous, sexy and clever people. Have you guessed that I’m talking about you yet?

Now, here’s the interesting bit. The campaign will be a stellar example of guerrilla marketing which means that I have bugger all in the way of a marketing budget. I will however be giving away an Amazon Kindle Wi Fi 6 inch worth £89 (or £90 of Amazon vouchers) to one lucky winner who helps with the campaign. So there’s no excuse for anyone saying that they can’t read ebooks especially as you can read Kindle books on practically everything these days – except perhaps your toaster.

Working from home is fast, funny and just a little flirty. It has been described as chick lit with balls and is full of insider information about the challenges of running your own business. For £2.99 it is a bargain for a high quality novel that will make you laugh and probably give you a few business ideas too.

Working from home Book blurb

Jonny has an interesting twenty-four hours. One evening he walks in on his naked flatmates in a compromising position on the sofa. The next morning he discovers that the improper use of a Matalan card can result in a bloody nose for the woman of his dreams. By lunch time he discovers that the huge company he works for is shipping out making him and hundreds of others in the area redundant.

Cat is one of those employees and her efforts to turn to freelancing are hindered by someone trying to black-ball her in the industry unless she agrees to sleep with him. Added to this she is just about to catch the attention of a serial adulterer via her new age sister, whose idea of a business plan for her local pub is persuading the barmaids to wear low-cut tops.

Will Jonny and Cat find enough work to pay for the necessities in life like beer and shoes? Can you really work via the Internet from home in your pyjamas? Will Jonny and Cat manage to mix business and pleasure, or will they fail to close the win-win deal?

Working from home is lads’ lit asking chick lit out for an adventurous date into the serious world of business networking, where it’s not who you know that really matters, but who knows you.

How do I help or enter?

The whole aim of the campaign is to persuade people to buy the book at the same time so it has a chance of breaking into the Kindle top 10. So I need to create a lot of awareness in a short period of time.

To enter the competition you need to either retweet my launch tweet on Twitter (my account is @RussWrites) on Wednesday 18th April or like the Working from Home Facebook page. If you do both you will get two entries. The promotion will run for a week but it’s best if you do your bit on launch day. (See bottom of article for boring bits about how I will select a winner)

Anything else you can do to promote the book would be hugely appreciated! This book has been a big part of my life for a long time now and lots of effort has gone into the highly polished novel that it is now.

Emailing your friends the link to this blog or inviting them to the Facebook page would be a HUGE help but I can’t track this for the competition. However, I would be REALLY grateful if you did this though.

Obviously I’d love you to buy a copy of the book because this is how the book will get up the charts. However, mostly I want you to read and enjoy my work and let me know what you thought of it. You can buy a copy of Working from Home here on Amazon.

If you are not from the UK, you can also buy it on or Amazon in Spain, Germany, Italy and France.

So where’s the glamour?

Erm, the glamour part comes from you as you’re very welcome to dress up for the event wherever you may be. I’d suggest smart casual. Ladies, this is a fab excuse to get a new pair of shoes and gents, well, you’ll probably want to save your money for some more alcohol. Happy days!

Me? Due to their popularity on Twitter I will be wearing my lucky orange pants for the event (even if they were briefly renamed my silly orange pants when I locked myself out of my house while I was wearing them). I have also pledged to never mention my lucky orange pants again if Working from Home hits the top 10 Kindle bestsellers list.

Small print for the competition

This is a serious competition and the prize will be picked at random. I’ll put all the entries (retweets or Facebook likes) into a spreadsheet listed and sort it alphabetically to remove any duplicates (in terms of people retweeting more than once – VERY welcome but only one entry will count). I will then use this web site to generate a random number from the number of entries. I aim to select the winner and get the prize to them within two weeks. If the winner is not in the UK I will send vouchers to cover the cost so they can buy the Kindle themselves.

You don’t have to buy a copy of Working from Home to enter the competition.

See? I told you this bit was boring!

Finally a HUGE thank you from me if you help promote my book launch and buy a book. It really means a lot to me.

Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure by Russ King

Friday, 13 April 2012

Working from home book review: Package deal by Tasha Harrison

This is a vivacious book that is fun, sunny and compelling. It follows a group of Brits abroad in Kefalonia taking in their stereotypical behaviour and turning it into an adventurous romp. It brings together the fun of Carry On films without the cheesy jokes or the sexist behaviour (well, apart from a few characters) and a huge helping of soap opera.

However, as with all the best ‘light-hearted’ reading this is more complex than it appears. Harrison has 12 main characters, all with excess baggage and a life-changing journey to complete in two weeks. She handles this well and drip feeds the information as we need it without it becoming frustrating.

My only criticism is that the characters socialise with each other sooner than you would expect; especially for Brits, but this interaction fuels the plot and is easily forgivable.

The plot centers around Mia who has come to Kefalonia on a secret mission. In her quiet holiday complex she is put in close proximity to a young couple who just want sun, sea and lots of sex; two middle aged friends who are celebrating their divorces; two single lads who thought they were coming to a party resort; a gay yoga teacher on a pledge of sexual abstinence; a couple celebrating their 40th anniversary; a jilted lover attending his honeymoon by himself and the gorgeous, buff caretaker who desperately wants to escape the island.

These are characters you believe in and root for even though many of them start out as stereotypes. It is a brave transition but Harrison pulls it off partly through the interesting back stories but also in the way she understands her characters.

Summer holiday reading doesn’t get much better than this as you will find yourself snooping on your fellow holiday makers to sniff out scandals. If you find yourself reading this on a dull, grey day in Blighty you might find yourself researching a few holiday deals (while praying that you will not be mixing with a group quite like this).

Package deal by Tasha Harrison is available on Amazon here.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The sexual issues of choosing a supermarket cashier

In my previous life before I was working from home I was a scientist and one of the topics I studied was sexual selection – why animals or humans choose a particular mate. As a result I often see the world through the eyes of a nosy scientist, otherwise known as being a nosy git.

The act of paying for your food at a supermarket is an interesting interaction to observe. Especially for male shoppers as the majority of supermarket cashiers are female. It breaks down like this:

It’s no secret that men are drawn to attractive women so a foxy cashier will always have more men in her queue in proportion to less appealing female cashiers around her. If faced with a choice of two roughly equal queues the vast majority of men would pick the foxy cashier.

If this sounds pathetic to women it’s worth bearing in mind a study where men had to press a button a number of times just to keep pictures of attractive women on a computer screen. They button-pressed so quickly they outperformed cocaine-addicted rats who were having to button-press for their cocaine fix. In a supermarket men can talk to the babe as well – and, even better – she is obliged to talk back.

The other main factor in choosing on the basis of attractiveness is how much help they get with the packing. A babe is much less likely to give a man extra help, unless she does actually fancy him. A more mumsie or mature cashier may sort the items and help with packing as they may not trust the male shopper to do this himself. This is very different from a bored offer to pack which involves shoving random items into carrier bags.

These rules are no secret to the cashiers and a man can earn distain from the babe and evil looks from her female colleagues if he chooses the babe’s checkout when a less enticing cashier has a much shorter queue. Just try doing this when this conveyor is empty for extra effect. It is even better when you have loads of kiddies food and perhaps some female sanitary products in your trolley.

Yes, I admit it. I am talking from experience, but I do have an excuse and I’d like to explain myself to cashiers across the land – or in my local area anyway.

There is another factor involved and it’s mathematical. If the load in my trolley exceeds the space on the empty conveyor I will always choose a cashier who is serving a customer over one with an empty conveyor. This gives me time to get my shopping loaded before the cashier starts to process it so I can pack my shopping at leisure and not have to run from one end to the other like a blue-arsed fly.

It has nothing to do with the attractiveness of the cashier. Well, not usually. Honest!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Working from home book review: Song in the wrong key by Simon Lipson

This is definitely a book for people who like to laugh at characters as they slide down to rock-bottom, hitting painful obstacles all the way down. It reminded me of watching the film Clockwise as you feel yourself tensing while you wish better fortunes for Mike, the main character.

Mike was ticking along nicely with two children, an ├╝ber-successful wife and an undemanding job when he is made redundant and finds that middle-aged, slightly underperforming technical sales people are not in high demand on the job market.

His life free-falls as he loses the respect of his daughters, disgraces his wife and insults his best friend. A chance event sees him returning to his student days of playing guitar and singing to people in restaurants. He even checks up on his unrequited love from university on Facebook. All of a sudden there is a chance he might be involved in the tackiest music event in the world – the Eurovision song contest.

Lipson creates believable characters and events and despite humiliating his main character he infuses his writing with lots of natural humour. The book has a cracking ending with an intriguing insight into the experiences of second-rate celebrity and the inner mechanics of the Eurovision song contest.

It’s a book for everyone who enjoys the prospect of a second chance, of a return to teenage dreams and the realities of how quickly things can change – both for good and for bad.

Strangely enough it is the Eurovision experience climax that will appeal to everyone; yes everyone. There is something there for true fans and real haters of the Eurovision experience as Mike goes from nil points in his life to … ah that would be telling!

Song in the wrong key by Simon Lipson is available on Amazon.

Friday, 6 April 2012

When being sensible gets you a bad reception

When you’re working from home via the Internet you need to ensure you can always get broadband access. I changed my mobile phone a few months before we moved from the Scottish Borders to Somerset and I needed to know if there was good reception in the new area. However, we didn’t know exactly where we were going to live.

I checked the coverage maps online and it was obvious that none of the companies claimed blanket coverage of the area. My wife and I were both using Vodafone so with my sensible hat on I chose 3 Mobile on the theory that we will have at least one phone that works.

In one way it worked perfectly as Vodafone has excellent coverage in our new age. Sadly 3 does not. If I want to use my phone at home I have to stand out in the garden on a raised patio. It seems to work better if I raise one leg in the air.

For phone Internet access at home I rely on our wireless modem. When I am out and about my phone erupts with beeps and alerts when we slip into a pocket of reception.

Over the past few days I have received a number of calls when I am at home from an 0800 number. Of course, the lack of reception means the call cuts off when I answer it.

Last night they finally managed to get through and it was a nice man from the sub-continent offering me great deals for a new iPhone. It was actually a good deal so it was unfortunate that I had to refuse citing that I will leave 3 as soon as my contract ends as I can hardly use my phone.

To the caller’s credit he did sound genuinely upset for me. He may have even had some possible solutions for me but the reception died and he disappeared.

So the moral of the story is that being sensible doesn’t pay. I’m considering taking this motto into all areas of my life from now. I’m hoping I will have a lot more fun.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Some day my au pair will come – when good plans go bad

Working from home is coming from my parent’s farm in North Devon today as the kids and I have escaped south. After the recent amazing weather it’s not surprising it’s now much more spring-like with dark, heavy clouds and a chilling wind.

No matter. Today I decided to drag poor Nana and the kids out on another expedition like the one where I scared the kids. The reasoning was that if it worked before it will work again. Wrong!

My parents have some woods on their farm and this time, rather than pretending there were pirate ghosts hiding (as they were a bit scary, I played it safe and told Thing 1 and Thing 2 that the Seven Dwarfs were on holiday in the woods. A cunning plan as Thing 2 loves Snow White and often sings ‘One day my prince will come’ that I promptly change to ‘One day my au-pair will come.’

It all started so well. We left the house with a spring in our step despite the cold and were even accompanied for some way by Hen, possibly the oldest hen in the world. We walked past the lambs, talked a lot about sheep poo and stinging nettles and then approached the woods.

The sound of hammering from far away drifted to us in the bitter wind and so Nana and I told the Things that the dwarves were busy in the woods. We left some sweets for the fairies in a likely looking enchanted tree stump and struggled over the rough ground to find a likely spot for treasure hunting.

I went ahead and hid some sweets and we got the Things to sing the ‘Heigh ho’ song to the dwarves. It was then that I noticed that Thing 2 was scared. I think the noise of the ‘dwarves’ hammering made it too realistic. She was also cold and grumpy. She cheered up when she found the sweets – for the time it took her to eat them – and then went into meltdown.

One sore neck later, after carrying her back home on my shoulders I bundle her in a blanket and she is asleep almost instantly. At 11am. Unheard of.

Thing 1 had a good time though. He threw lots of logs and sticks off the path in the wood; nearly decapitating Nana at one point. He is now telling anyone who will listen that Daddy lied about the dwarves leaving us sweets as it was Daddy who hid them and it’s really naughty to lie.

I’ve got to go out again to retrieve the sweets (unless the fairies eat them) as we used a whole packet of Opal Fruits. I might sing for an au-pair to come and rescue me.