A Good Home

A Literary Ape

Be warned: today I’m writing about a great ape. One who does a lot for authors around the world, and accepts payment only in virtual bananas.  


If you love books – reading them or writing them — you may have visited the Story Reading Ape website. It’s a treasure trove of  books, authors from around the world and the craft of writing and publishing.

Small TSRA Blog Logo showing a silverback gorilla reading an Origin of Man book

But the ape, aka Chris Graham, writes almost nothing about himself. 

We know he loves books (“I don’t so much read books as devour them”), that author Terry Pratchett is a literary hero, and not much else.

I count Chris as a friend. I should.  It’s partly because of Chris that the first Myrtle the Purple Turtle book was published, despite my lack of confidence. (It went on to win media headlines, an award, much praise from critics and bestseller status, and Chris has rejoiced with me at each achievement.)  

Myrtle - Cover latest at 2MB

But I don’t know what Chris looks like.  He claims his only photos are on his driver’s license and passport.

Some apes — erm… people — are so darned difficult!

When pushed, Chris admits to being a retired mechanical / electrical consultant engineer, whose work took him around the world.

He and his wife now live in Hereford Cathedral City, Herefordshire, England, “in a small one bedroom 3rd floor apartment with a view of trees, rooftops and four small carparks”.   He has a daughter and a younger sister. 

3 December: Hereford Cathedral - Classical Music
Photo Credit: BBC

I had more questions.

Q: What led you to start the Story Reading Ape?

A: I’ve always been an avid reader. After years of lugging books around various parts of the world, in December 2012 I bought an eBook Reader (a Nook). On it was a free app for Goodreads.

There, I not only recorded as many of the books I could remember reading, I learned the how and why of book reviews and started doing them, on Barnes & Noble and Amazon, as well as Goodreads. 

Blog Photo - Chris reading ebook

However, I was shocked to see so many authors pleading with Goodreads members, to help them promote their books.

These were a different breed to the traditionally published authors I was familiar with; these were self-published authors.

To help out, I started reading and reviewing self-published books and I found that many of the stories were just as entertaining and well written as traditional versions.

However, as well as reviews, there were pleas for people to promote books on blogs, so I researched the hows and popularity of blogs, leading me to start one in March 2013.

Instead of blogging my book reviews, I decided to feature and promote authors (as well as their books), plus build up writer resources to help them hone and enhance their writing and provide book marketing ideas.

Q: How does it feel to realize the impact you’ve had?

A: I don’t think I’ve made any particular impact. There are thousands of blogs who do what I do, much better and more professionally.

(Cynthia quietly scoffs at this piece of modesty. The blog has more than 15-thousand regular followers, and many more visitors from around the world.  Numerous authors have been helped by its articles.)

Q: What are some of the most surprising things that have happened since you started it?

Having people regularly follow, read, like and share blog posts garnered together by a great ape 😃

Q: What’s changed about Indie writing-publishing since you started the site?

A: It has to be the increasing popularity of self publishing, instead of going through the agonies of trying to get traditionally published.

Q: How have you personally grown/changed as a result of the site?

A: I’ve learned (and continue to learn) a LOT about what is involved in writing stories, poems, blogging and book marketing. I’m also pleased with my own efforts in book cover design (which I no longer do, due to time constraints).

Blog Photo - Chris Graham book cover designs

 I even managed to publish a book of my Mum’s poetry (I made the cover as well).

My Vibrating Vertebrae: and other poems - Kindle edition by Graham ...

My Vibrating Vertebrae: and other poems

Q: What is your life like outside the site?

A: I alternate between reading, researching articles for my blog’s author resources, developing skills in graphics and animation.

My wife makes sure I get plenty of exercise by taking me for walks (the area being confined to around the cathedral city of Hereford at present, due to the COVID-19 restrictions).

Q: And what are your hopes for yourself and the Story Reading Ape?

A: A long life, health and continued enjoyment blogging.

Thanks, Chris — you reluctant hero, you!

A Good Home, Blogger Friends, Blogging Community, Blogging Considerately, Book Reviews, Children's Books, New Books, Newly Released Books, Prize-winning Books, Tips for Blogging, Young Adult Books

Bloggers Helping Bloggers

It’s one of the big surprises of my writing life.

Discovering that becoming a blogger meant I was joining a worldwide community.  A community that cares, and helps.

I became a blogger because my daughters thought I needed to “get myself out there”. I was struggling with the effects of a head injury and damage to my body; I’d become ashamed of myself and extremely reclusive.

Blog Photo - Pink Phlox and Butterfly

Blogging helped pull me out of hiding by giving me pen-pals all over the world.  As I read their stories — or their comments on mine — we started getting to know and care about each other’s projects and well-being.  They inspired and uplifted me.

Bloggers also help each other in practical ways:

Tweeting: Some bloggers often/routinely retweet my (and others’) posts. Take a bow, Wendy MacDonald, Sally Cronin, Sarah Vernon, Tina Frisco, Annika Perry, D.G. Kaye and all of you who do this!

Reblogging: It’s a great compliment when followers reblog a post. Props to Sally Cronin; Chris (The StoryReadingApe); Marcia Meara;  Bernadette; and many others who do this routinely.

Blog Photo - Sally Cronin2
Sally Cronin

Helpful insights: Bloggers such as Gallivanta, Clare Pooley and Lavinia are likely to share a helpful insight, fact or contact in their comments. I always take note!

Writing Tips: Bloggers share tips to improve our writing — blogs or books. Props to Michael Dellert, Sue Uttendorfsky, and many others.

Connections: The best story I know is my own. Chris Graham connected me with Jo Robinson to illustrate Myrtle the Purple Turtle. A great partnership was born. I’ve been recommending Jo as an illustrator and editor ever since.

Author Services:  Jo, Kev Cooper,  Jeanne Balsam and others offer one or a range of services at affordable rates:  editing, design, illustration, publishing, promotions and promotional materials such as bookmarks and posters.

Recognition:  Blogger-reviewer-author Kev Cooper reads many books and started the Diamond Book Awards. Other bloggers give book/blog awards too.

Blog Photo - Diamond Book Award 2017

Promotions: Sally and Chris are the best I know, generously promoting what seems like hundreds of authors each year. How they find the time, I don’t know, but  — take a bow, you two!

Featuring other Bloggers: I do this on my blog, as do many others.

Blog Photo - Yvonne at Desk
Yvonne Blackwood

Blog Photo - Gift of memoir front cover

Blog Photo - Diane Taylor1
Diane Taylor

Deliberately Buying each other’s Books:   All my purchases/requested Christmas gifts from family are books from small presses and especially by indie authors who blog.  I borrow books by the big-name authors from the library.

Blog Photo - Sally Cronin book

Blog Photo - Maya and the book of everything

Blog Photo - Donna K Mind Book

Blog Photo - PS I forgive you.jpg

Giving feedback on Manuscripts: When the draft is done but you’re still not sure and a blogger gives feedback, that’s a major gift.

Reading and Reviewing each other’s books: When a blogger reads my book then reviews it on Goodreads, Amazon or even better – their own blog — that’s a gift! Take a bow, everyone who does this! Thanks to bloggers who’ve done this for me.

Blog Photo - Lavinia Album cover

Spreading the Word:  We spread the word about each other’s books in circles beyond blogging. Lavinia Ross and Gallivanta: Thank you for spreading the word about Myrtle in your own circles and beyond.

Praying/holding faith for each other: We celebrate other bloggers’ “wins”. Invariably, we also learn about their life struggles. When my husband was critically ill, bloggers around the world expressed concern. Many were praying. And when my blogger friends or loved ones face troubles, I do the same.

Been helped by bloggers or helped? Please share!