Joining Reedsy Discovery…

So it seems my book reviewing efforts have been noticed. Last month Reedsy Discovery reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in joining their platform. After some consideration I’ve taken the plunge in what I hope to be new sights and new heights for the Hall of Information.

Reviewing Independently published books for me carries an abundance of rewards from discovering great stories to connecting with fellow authors who also struggle to get their words seen by the world. Along the way I’ve connected with some wonderful people from all over the world who not only appreciate my reviewing efforts but in return have supported me and stuck around to check out my blogging. Some have even taken strides towards buying my books and so the circle of  life books is complete…

A New Concept in Book Discoverability: Reedsy Discovery Book ...

Reedsy Discovery is a reviewing platform that champions new and indie published books but just at a higher level than I am doing right now. The truth is I am still a small island and can only reach so many wordsmiths who are in need of support. The platform provides a greater reach and provides reviewers with a free copy in exchange for a review within a certain time frame. Looking at the site and how it works is a step up from my usual take my time endeavours and so I consider this a massive move in the world of book reviewing. The good thing is I am still able to support indies who have submitted to the site and so the blogging efforts on here shall continue! Reedsy have a certain submission standard and so you can expect me to be reviewing indie books of a the highest quality.

The reviews I do with Reedsy will first premiere on their platform via my profile and then arrive here and the usual places after. You can check out my profile here  and of course if you are on Reedsy let’s connect!

What does this mean for authors who have reached out to me and their stuff that I have on my tbr? 

I’m still committed to reviewing and reading indie books from all over and not just specifically Reedsy so this blog and it’s efforts won’t be going far. The hope is for it’s reach to increase!

For all those who have helped the Hall of Information get noticed like this, I salute you!

 

The Paris Rescue: The Willie Abrams Saga by C.J. Evans – Review

Action, adventure and history; a combination that makes for a good read and sequel…

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The story of Willie Abrams continues and this time he must face the place that haunts his war time past, peacetime France. We’re taken specifically to the city of Paris on a rescue mission first planted in the previous outing. This time around Abrams is accompanied by long time friend Banesfield and of course old flame Julie who’s father they are looking to save. They carry a dynamic and likeable chemistry that fits well into the the genre which has action, deception and twists.

From the Eiffel tower to the catacombs below this adventure spans the city where the trio team up with someone they first thought were adversaries making for a unique scenario where Julie wants her father returned safe. It becomes a sort of cat and mouse chase that is capped off with an action packed shoot out.

The Paris Rescue is a fun immersive read with a satisfying feel good resolve while also nodding to a potential sequel.

4 Stars 

Weekly Ramble #74

I’m starting to embrace and enjoy the semi lock down lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I miss people, I miss gatherings, I miss the opportunity to have conversations but many of the lifestyle elements right now I am enjoying. 

It’s a case of embracing what is good in a shituation. That’s what this is and for so much bad that has come from this, it’s also been a huge opportunity to take on things that I wouldn’t normally take on. In the beginning I got myself back into booze nearly every night. Drinking for me has always been a vessel to good times and so I leaned on that perception to have a ‘few’ every night and for a while it worked as a coping mechanism. We all know that’s a slippery very short term slope and especially so for the health situation and of course the scales which I quickly became unhappy with.

The lock down was something that began to piss me off, no matter what I did and so my mental health took a hit for a small time but I’m pretty damn good at getting my ass up off the ground. I took one big look at myself and said ‘I can do more with these days’ and I’m lucky enough to have a work that has continued to pay and employ me, just on a different basis. I have to attend work for two shifts every 6 days, day time or night time.

For someone who’s been held down by the excuse of work for pretty much everything I eventually crawled away from that because of all this time I now have. I’m getting up before 9 every day, I’m eating clean, I’m exercising every morning and then leaving my afternoons to write and read. This is the best shape my schedule has been in for a long time. It’s like being semi retired and I’m doing stuff I’ve always wanted to do. Maybe finding the best out of a bad situation is really the best way any of us can cope…

How are you coping right now? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #73

I’m off booze. Abstaining from excessive snacking. Taken away the junk. But still scales you deceive me with your consistent high numbers… Is this lock down fat more stubborn? Is the increased amount of running not enough? What else do I need to do in order to get that number you deceive me with down, you dirty deceiver… 

There ain’t much to get out of bed early for in these times. To go running so I don’t get heat stroke or have to cross the damn street because everyone and their mates dog has taken up walking. I get up for that and for the weigh in with hopes its less than before. Still the results aren’t happening. I’m literally running distances I haven’t since the beginning of my twenties. Injuries throughout the past ten years kept me back but now I am bombarding this campaign with good stuff.

Do I have to take away everything nice I eat and drink in order to drop just one measly pound. Just one less than yesterday please. Must heaven and earth be moved for just a slight decline in numbers?  God I’ve never been so damn hungry…

‘I Will Kill You in My Dream’ by Kristina Gallo – Review

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Be careful with dreams, they may come true….

Everyone who has been through the struggle of fitting in at school can relate to this short story about teens in Croatia during a time of transition for the country. Teachers from the previous political regime don’t help, parents cannot relate and the popular kids don’t help. If you’re not one of them it’s difficult. Even if you attempt to get in on the social scene it involves going to a seedy club where ‘whoever survives could make a story’ which works as a metaphor for the wider environment this story is set.

‘Helena’ like a lot of teens has potential but is otherwise engaged, for this she is berated by the school while also made to feel invisible. She’s not a bad student but perhaps she attracts bad things and then the dreams begin…

‘I will Kill You in My Dream is an engaging and satisfying short story with a supernatural edge about the struggle of being a teen.

4 Stars

Let’s talk about… Bad Reviews

It’s a fantasy to think everyone is going to like your writing and as soon as you become active in the social media arena or have achieved publication, that work no longer belongs to you.

SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP! How to Handle Bad Book Reviews (Hint: Do ...

Dealing with reviews of all types is a letting go exercise trust me and this relates to the coping mechanism I have in place when someone calls bullshit on my work or fixates on something arbitrary that spoiled their reading experience and totally didn’t grasp what I tried to achieve in writing…

I could go on, but you have to accept that firstly be proud of your work but remember it’s up to everyone else to interpret the words, so to cope you must let it go man… 

There isn’t much you can do to stop bad reviews and how exactly does one define ‘bad’?

Again we mustn’t dwell on content of the review but look past it towards coping because this stuff like most publishing ‘success’ is in the eye of the beholder and you’ve gained that review because someone took the time to read your work and perhaps even found it via their own accord.

Criticism is a sign you are a known entity in your field and so let’s look at why someone could have left a scathing review by analyzing the type of review it is… (I may or may not have received some on these…) while also sourcing a solution or at least a way to cope.

The Revenge /Retaliation Review 

This type of review is most probably a direct response to something you’ve possibly reviewed or called out as bad in the past. The person has taken it very personally and so they’ve taken that and converted it into a short but very insulting review. It could even be borderline abusive and compulsive and is highly unlikely that they’ve actually read your work. There’s probably nothing in the review that relates to the story.

Solution: Oh boy, integrity is the word here. That investigative blog post you wrote has backfired a little… or that review for a book you didn’t like has opened a can of worms…

Look at it like this; you have work published which is just a vulnerable outlet for someone to retaliate. Stand strong, take a breath and know the person just left these words to be spiteful. If it is abusive and on Amazon, you can always report it or if you have the tact, maybe take down whatever triggered the review. But as I say, have some integrity, this type of review will stick out like a sore thumb and most likely not be taken into account by readers. Let it be.

 The ‘Fixation Excuse’ review

Every now and then someone will take on your work and deliberately go looking for something they can use to bash it. They will fixate on something that happens in the story and won’t be able to look past it. Maybe you’ve used a slang word or god forbid even a swear word that they just cannot forgive. Did your character do something out of character? How dare they… Even in this world of adults writing books, some reviewers will lower themselves to childish levels just to not like something.

Whatever they’ve fixated their excuse upon means they probably haven’t grasped the story you wrote – they most probably know fuck all about writing either…

Solution: That book bloggstagrammer you gave a free e copy to has backfired big time! But use it to your advantage. Console in your twitter following and watch people come swooping in to put in the save because for every two star review I’ve got and bunch of better reviews came after. These type of reviews make great material to use for marketing trust me…

I even responded to such a review via one of my weekly ramble posts which got a serious amount of views. Of course you want to see that now don’t you? It’s here...

The ‘wannabe columnist/scholar’ review

Who Gets to be Called "Scholar of Islam"? | The Muslim Skeptic

this picture makes me laugh

There’s a special place in reviewer hell for people who want to ultra analyse stories and find every possible flaw while also trying to be a scholar when comparing your work to others. They would have read your work in its entirety but would have also dissected it like it were a final dissertation or essay about the themes of an avocado…

Trust me when I say there are people out there who try to out write and even try to look more intelligent than the writer by being rather overindulgent in their words. They might even use the phrase ‘diablo ex machina’ to describe your debut novel – whatever the fuck that means… other words that frequent are: archetype, participles, and apathetic.

Solution: Sit back and laugh at how much effort they’ve put in to try and appear like a scholarly critic. I will say this once and once only THEY ARE JUST BOOKS!

But seriously you will need to look at the star rating to tell if they liked it. Treat it like a one off…

The ‘Did they like it or not?’ Review

Okay so we’re moving into the realms of comedy now which means these types of review are a lot easier to swallow. This review may appear in many types of form but will include an introductory compliment before a ‘not my cup of tea’ type insult before more compliments along the lines of ‘I didn’t like this one, but I will be sure to check out his other works although he’s a pig…’

You’re left thinking ‘did they like it or not’ and well the solution is this…

Solution: At this point who gives a shit if they liked it or not, they left a review which will contribute to your Goodreads stats. Thank you kind or unkind stranger…

Final Thought and The ‘Dont’s’ of bad reviews

It’s cliche to say but don’t respond to any type of review directly. Good or bad stay away. If you are particularly bothered by it then do blog, tweet and shout about it. Reviews are the pipeline to publicity for your work. Embrace them even the ‘diablo ex machina’ whatever that means ones, even the bad ones and remember like a balloon filled with helium, letting it go means it will disappear. 

You just need to find a way to cope and then all reviews will have a positive outcome,

Thank you for reading. How do you face ‘bad reviews’?

No ‘diablo ex machinas’ were harmed in the making of this blog post… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Mr Mercedes’ by Stephen King – Review

Satisfying and suspenseful crime thriller that’ll keep you reading….

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While Stephen King might be known for stories with a paranormal edge he’s more than capable of delivering one in the realms of a modern crime thriller. Of course he keeps the depravity and absurdity close nit because that’s what he does and I might be questioning my own tastefulness here when I say I kind of enjoy where he goes sometimes; even if its on the fringes sick. This is for all intents and purposes to tell a story and that he does here.

We see the typical loner/mother issues/tech nerd killer who takes his own aspirations to more and more depraved heights while he also taunts the cop who could never catch him, a retired detective. This could have been a police procedural if the main character ‘ Bill Hodges’ hadn’t given back his badge so instead its a cat and mouse private investigator type set up that grows more and more dramatic. While he chooses not to confide in old colleagues about a still to be caught perp, he takes the taunting personally and this sets up the perfect conflict that double backs on the story.

There are secondary characters that bring possibly more dimension than the mains and they become needed by ‘Hodges’ in this world of computers, social media and technology. By the end you’re rooting for them to pull out the win. It’s dark, urban, mystery intertwined and thrilling fun written in the highest quality.

5 Stars – My first paperback read in nearly two years. Back to indie reads now…. 

Let’s talk about… Book Marketing

Do you feel slightly dirty whenever you spam the link to your book on social media? People who see it feel the same too because nothing is worse than seeing an author constantly spamming their own social media platforms with their own stuff…

I thought its best I put together some other methods to get folks to buy and more importantly read your books. Marketing is the most overlooked part of being a writer and the excuses range from ‘I’m an introvert’ to ‘I’m not a salesman’. Well the truth is you need to be neither to get reads and sales. While selling stuff is subjective I can happily admit I’ve sold a few books in most corners of the civilised world so this is my talk about book marketing…

What you need to do above all is to set out a realistic and achievable goal. Before you even start, ask yourself what I do want to get out of this book I have bestowed upon the world?

What do you want and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Sales and money ? – in this age of everyone self publishing (which is good and sometimes very bad…) I wish you all the luck in the world. Unless it’s about a real current thing that’s gone crazily popular or even a masterpiece you’ve written, don’t expect instant bucks, just don’t. Breaking even is a dirty word around here… and so I can’t help with this one…

sales

People reading and reviewing your work – now this is a very achievable goal and the chances are of it happening will grow as you release more stuff – that is if you intend to write more than one book like a real writer… There are many a different factors that govern whether or not people will see you work, pick it up and then review it. I can’t list them all but here’s a mini breakdown.

  1. Reasonable Price
  2. Decent Blurb
  3. Decent pro cover art
  4. Catchy title that matches genre and cover
  5.  A social media presence of some kind

That’s great and all but HOW can I get people to read my work?

Well if you have the 5 factors above ticked then all you have to do is let the world know about it. And no don’t just go spamming the link every 5 minutes. Do these things instead:

  1. Reach out to book bloggers for a review – offer a free copy in exchange. We don’t bite…
  2. Friends and relatives are a great starting point for reads/reviews. Ask them to help.
  3. Give your E-book away for free and pay for advertising through many book promo sites – check this post out for more info on that 
  4. Read and review other authors works – many writers will repay you because that’s just manners (don’t expect this though).
  5. Write another book and then another – writers with a back catalogue will most likely have returning readers if they liked one of your titles. Immediately after reading my first Crichton novel, I pursued his whole catalogue…
  6. Start a blog like this and talk about the laments of being a writer. Share your woes, book sales results and give back to the community.

Some writers who stubbornly say they wont give their work away for free will not get very far. Unless you are already famous or some kind of popular figure it’s highly likely you are starting this from zero. Sometimes setting the price to zero will attract readers who might buy at full price next time.. this then leads into…

Use social media properly – The word ‘properly’ is just my humble opinion but I cannot stress enough how important it is to be active on social media and to engage with others both respectfully and genuinely.

What is social media? Here are 34 definitions… – Econsultancy

Don’t just share your book link, don’t, I see you’re about to do it, just don’t!

Instead comment on other authors posts, be encouraging, friendly, follow back and retweet stuff. Trust me this will turn more heads than anything else on social media and of course Twitter. Be genuine.

If you want my top tip have a real profile picture. This is a very simple and effective way to be genuine. People who don’t have an actual person as a profile picture have an incomplete stance on social media, plus it’s kinda creepy that you would wish to remain anonymous. Honestly show your pretty face, it can’t be that bad…

Be patient – okay this one might be a cop out, but good things like having sales and reads take time, commitment and books. Write more, dive into the words and don’t dwell on people who haven’t discovered your work.

Many many more things – there are a stack of more things that come into play with book marketing, perhaps for another post sometime. But don’t forget luck, the time of year, what’s happening in the world and many many more things need to be taken into account in book marketing…

The biggest challenge any author faces is not the writing but what comes after. Informing the world you exist is that challenge. Embrace it, go after it and more importantly don’t give up on it. Giving literature to the world is a gift trust me…

And if you enjoyed this post head on over to my Facebook page and give it a like becasue that’s the place where I give away books!

 

 

 

 

 

Darke Blood 3 year ‘Book-iversaire’

It’s been three years since Darke Blood was released. The reason I acknowledge this milestone is because during the writing process of that book I firmly believe I hit the point of no return on the road to becoming a writer. And plus in life, you should celebrate the little things… image

Now I firmly believe a true writer isn’t just someone who puts together one story and a bunch of concepts to then throw into the world. A writer is someone who can fashion a story from very little to create a lot multiple times. One book isn’t enough to find yourself as a story teller, but two, means it was no fluke.

I could lather it up with this artistic talk but I’ll just admit ‘Darke Blood’ was a pain in my ass to write and put together. 2016 – the year I drafted it was a tough year, I had bad sciatica, I was getting used to working shifts (albeit badly) and all around the writing stuff didn’t seem to be flowing. A few times I almost dragged DB to the recycling bin but now I don’t regret persevering once. Digging deep in times of struggle comes with reward and that’s what I got with ‘DB’.

It has become my most successful and most critically acclaimed book. Yes there a few moments where the story is a bit ‘out there’ and trust me I know it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to immerse a reader and that’s what story telling sometimes needs to be. As book it must have worked and this one fashioned and shaped my tenure as a pensmith while also shaping the Order of the Following Series which it is now a part of.

You can expect more from the ‘Darke’ series this September as the follow up and sequel ‘Darke Awakening’ arrives which is also a crossover to Open Evening and Cemetery House. Currently I am drafting the third and final ‘Darke’ book which will cap the pentalogy that is the Order of the Following.

Happy ‘Darke’ Day! 

Let’s talk about… writing – The First Draft…

A new blog series emerges, out of the unknown void of creativity where I sometimes have ideas…

Let’s talk about writing. You’re probably not going far and neither am I.

So while I’m here and you are (hopefully) let’s use this time to reflect on writing, after all it’s what most of us blogger types do.

Personally there is no full proof blue print to teach someone to write. You have to find that within yourself but I can sure as hell talk about it and hopefully pass on some ‘wisdom’ about the craft. If you tuned in to Twitter recently you may have seen my recent thread that 4 people probably read all about that first draft.

15 Websites And Apps For Creative, Fiction, and Short Story ...

It’s easier and relatable to think of writing in a way that everyone can. So for this post, we are going to use the analogy of cooking to represent writing that first draft…

Drafting a book 101 – The Omelette Analogy

 Egg sales have soared to a 30-year high  — smashing the 6.5billion barrier

So, you’re hungry and it’s approaching lunchtime. You have a hankering for an omelette…

* Translation – you have an idea and want to write a book. 

For a while you’ve been thinking about what you want to put into this omelette and you have some ideas. Do you have the ingredients? Do you have long enough in your lunch break to pull it off? Is there is decent frying pan in the kitchen. Do you even have a kitchen?

* Translation – you have some story ideas that could link together to make an entire book, and you’re set on a genre. Do you have enough ideas to run the course of a book? Do you have the time in your schedule to dedicate to writing. This will need to be a regular time nearly everyday. Do you have a laptop or a working computer? Do you have a dedicated writing space – I wrote on my bed for 4 years, ask my back about it… 

You’ve got several eggs and various other ingredients (ideas) some you know work and others that don’t but you figure ‘what the hell, this art and I am an artiste’. You grab the frying pan (laptop or notepad), make some time and start cracking eggs. You set the heat to medium and begin to mix..

*Translation – you’ve answered most of the questions above and dive in! 

Even though you’ve never cooked an omelette of this kind in full, you are getting a feel for the process and are learning by doing. This is probably the way I found my chef’s voice (writing voice) by spending hours upon hours of cooking (typing).  

*Translation – you’ve probably dabbled in some kind of writing before. A short story here or essay there… 

You then omit some ingredients (story ideas) because there are too many things going on at once hence disrupting the overall flow of things (the story) and so now you pour the mix into the pan. Of course you haven’t greased the pan (know what you’re really doing yet) but go with it and set the heat lower..

*Translation – although things might not have fully formed, you see the potential in your own work – its important to encourage yourself in the early stages because this is solitary effort. Nobody is on the sidelines cheering you on, nobody probably knows or ever will appreciate the time you put in to get better and make a story better…

Things start to shape up pretty well and you grab a spatula to shape the omelette into what omelette’s look like (you’ve read books, lots of them and know what they look like…) although at this point you should be concentrating more on the eggs (story) really being cooked… (you may even go back a few pages and do some editing) 

You move to flip the omelette although it’s stuck to the bottom of the pan but you persevere and manage to flip the thing although it breaks up and is partially burnt. Basically one hot mess…

They feel that it is acceptable to serve a burnt omelette for ...

bon appetite, this isn’t mine….

* Translation – you realise writing is hard, this is where most give up but you persevered no matter how ugly it looks and somehow you’ve dedicated the time to completing the first draft…

You take a bite and although you probably wouldn’t serve this up to anyone else, you like it, and you can see some potential. But a first draft is many things, telling yourself the story, the foundations or even the skeleton of a dream. 

For those who persevere with their dream they know things aren’t fully ‘right’ so they continue to go back and change a few things such as the heat level of the pan, what gets used to grease it, the quality of eggs and ingredients. Some of these can be worked on, but only the cook who wants to cook the omelette can do it on their own accord by carving their own path… 

And so I hope you are still with us and that analogy didn’t quite clog up the brain. Drafting a book is just the first step and I hope you can see what I did in comparing it with cooking. This is just like making an omelette and much like you need the tools to execute in the making, you’ll need the same for writing.

Thanks for reading…

Does your writing process compare to something relatable like cooking?