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? 

 

Weekly Ramble #72

I’ve been watching the news less and writing more. Sometimes you just have to play the adult card and choose to not have certain things in your life, the news is one of them… 

We are 8 or so weeks into this whole deal. A deal where are all home more often and can appreciate our own patch alongside those we share it with. There are some who haven’t stopped working (from home or out there) and those who are on vacation right now (me, most of the time). Technology allows us to see relatives, friends and colleagues easily through a screen. In this big wide world of connectivity, none of us are truly alone anymore.

While I struggle more than ever to blog or at least find subjects to blog about – I’ve taken a break from indie reads right now . I’m still here, trying to be active in the arena and trying to contribute. Last week I ran a giveaway over on Facebook, where my page nearly has 500 likes, only it seems to be the most difficult thing in the world to achieve right now…

The numbers don’t lie and people are still coming to the Hall of information for just that; information. Whether it’s my post about a scammer book reviewer or the many many indie book rec’s you find here, to even my weekly ramblings, writer, blogger or reader, you’ll find something here. And so for as long as those numbers trickle in, so will these words, no matter what is happening out there – right now the sun is shining, guess I better grab my shades…

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff I’m watching right now to stay sane…

Ah yes, sanity, it’s an interesting subject right now and like the elevator industry for me it has it’s ups an downs… The truth is and although ‘governments’ are trying to get folks back to work and out of lock down, it isn’t over yet, not for a long while and personally I’m staying in for the near and possibly distant future. 

Just how am I staying sane every other day in this emerging world of being inside and sat on one’s posterior? It’s simple really, I’m re watching a lot of stuff that I liked in the past so here are a few recommendations that have been keeping me distracted from my own sanity…

Life on Mars – Series by BBC – Available via Netflix 

BBC One - Life on Mars

It’s hard for even me to accept that 2006 is over 15 years ago but facts and age realisations aside because Life on Mars is somewhat of a time travelling gem in my eyes. This is because the show has aged rather well and portrays 1970’s Manchester through the eyes of Detective Sam Tyler who is run over in the present day and wakes up there – it’s a pretty genius and ‘out there’ concept that works. Sam must survive life in the 70’s as a detective and find a way home.

There’s a level of authenticity about the whole thing and not to mention the atmosphere is captured well. Now I was born in the late 80’s but after watching it beside my Old man back in the day who left school in ’74, he can vouch for the authenticity of what is a police procedural show that captures the times and has a side serving of science fiction/Bowie-esqe weirdness. Because it arrived in 2006 there isn’t a lot of PC stuff which makes for more realism and if you do watch it, the show is dominated by a great performance from Phillip Glenister who plays the boozing, scruff snatching, say what he want’s DCI Gene Hunt and not to mention the soundtrack is golden!

The X-Files (Season 2) – Available on Amazon Prime 

Without doubt Sci fi television what not be what it is today without Mulder and Scully’s antics. I’m currently near the end of Season 2 and this show overall is still very watchable and stands up to today’s standards. Just the stand alone capers these agents find themselves in make for some great 45 minute escapism with a hint of the weird.

Amazon.com: The X-Files: Season 2: David Duchovny, Gillian ...

Spotlight – Netflix 

Although it’s not a show, Spotlight is a great film that has been on my sights for a while and so the other day I spent an evening watching what is a gripping roller coaster of deception and unravelling of truth. The film follows a group of investigative journalists in Boston who uncover the truth about a racket of sexual abusers in the Catholic church.

Spotlight (film) - Wikipedia

What hit me the most was how determined these journalists were in finding the truth. They weren’t looking to create a story, they were proper journalists – unlike many in the media we see today. It just reminds us how there can be responsible ways news can be reported as opposed to the fear mongering, bad news churning machines most outlets are today.

The cast is stellar, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo head up a great film and story which will keep you gripped.

The Walking Dead – Season 3 – Available of many platforms 

The Walking Dead season 3: All named character deaths

It’s such a shame this show became what it did, but back in the day in the earlier seasons this show had a heart and soul. It portrayed horror and the struggle of surviving. The characters and their arcs were like nothing we had seen in the genre. It was beyond a soap opera, it was an art that the actors wonderfully created. The acting in this thing has always been great and recently I have been working my way through what is a show that I keep close to my heart- up to season 6 anyway.

For those who have never tasted water from the walking dead well, try the first few season and you’ll understand.

Aliens – DVD 

Aliens (1986) – Deep Focus Review – Movie Reviews, Critical Essays ...

Possibly the finest hour of space action. Aliens is the blockbuster sequel to possibly the finest hour of space horror and they are both in my top 10. James Cameron directs what is both action and horror fused together by the unknown of what a small team of mercenaries and a survivor from last time face. The cast, the production design, the action, the suspense all of it still hold up very well today for what is a film that released way back in 1986. The extended version isn’t that much longer than the cinematic version so it’s worth a look. Of course Sigourney Weaver sealed her place in the action hero hall of fame. Watch it, you will not be disappointed.

And so that wraps up the things I’ve been watching to stay sane. What have you been doing to stay sane? 

Weekly Ramble #71

Everything feels boring at the moment. Social media has gone stale and seems to be the same broken record playing over and over again. As an introvert I’ve never had a problem with being confined to just my own thoughts but when you confine everyone else at the same time, there’s the problem. Maybe because the whole flock is bored too it’s started some vacuum of mundane repetitiveness.

Twitter for me right now has hit rock bottom in my opinion, my following and those I follow are saturated by the writing community which is overall good but I need to branch out. I’ve muted so many writing community hashtags to try and avoid the monotonous repeat of every writers lift or follow train. How can a room full of millionaires appear to be individually rich when their numbers are all the same, everyday?

I turned off the Prime Minister’s brief last night and substituted it for a few hours in Skyrim. My opinion of the authority dwindles as we try to navigate these pain in the ass times which need to fuck off. This isn’t some depressive slump or episode, I’m fine, trust me, but it’s like what someone once said to me;

‘It will always be them and never you…’ 

Wise words…