Netflix Review: ‘Sweet Tooth’

A boy with innocent determination can be a dangerous thing in a volatile post-apocalyptic world…

The post apocalyptic world is a popular concept in story-telling right now and some of the themes in Netflix’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ are a little close to home perhaps, but many of us find a strange type of comfort in realism with me included. It wasn’t that long ago when the world seemingly faced the potential brink of collapse but only very briefly – this show capitalises on that concept and takes things a step further after a deadly contagion sweeps across the world. At the same time something extraordinary happens, children are being born partly crossed with animals – fear begins to spread about these ‘hybrids’ being the cause. A totalitarian army rises and we have all the makings of that dystopia . If you can allow your imagination to bend to that initially weird hybrid idea then you’ll probably be immersed by this show after just one episode like me.

And that first episode sets the bar for a strong story told by a strong diverse cast led by child actor Christian Convery who plays ‘Gus’ a half-human half-deer. Whisked away from the apocalyptic clutches as a baby and raised by his father in the woods, he is somewhat protected from what is unfolding. It isn’t until he realises there is a bigger world out beyond those tress that the story begins and our young hero finds out first-hand how dangerous it can be. He meets ‘Big Man’ Tommy Jepperd portrayed perfectly by Nonso Anozie as the rugged and tough drifter who takes the boy under his wing – their chemistry develops as the show unfolds. There are second and third story arcs which all come together by the final episode which I’ll admit choked me up just a little.

Netfilx continue to lead the charge with television binge-a-bility and Sweet Tooth was a show I consumed in less than a week. The themes throughout range from political to scientific and even to just fitting in, this show carries an iceberg of powerful messages and references to humanity; for that I highly recommend it, but all in all, the story is entertaining and original.

Weekly Ramble 112

Winding down. For real this time. It has been a busy and intense journey but now I’m on my way out of that place to hopefully somewhere a little more calmer. No doubt the last year has been a fight to get my name and words out there but right now I feel like that fight is done and the best thing is, I’m happy with the results.

It feels nice to be able to sit back. By that I mean recede into writing more and more. I’ve got editing to do, I’m going to try and query agents at some point but the wonderful thing is about this stuff, the pressure is off. I was being pulled along by my aspirations to reach 10,000 Twitter followers and releasing a book. Both are now done and so I can relax. This blog wil continue to produce content, it is the pillar of everything no matter how many thousands of social media followers I have.

I’ll be present where I can but for now I’m content with relaxing a little. Maybe that desire to chase and chase and chase will be back again soon, but success is in the eye of the beholder in writing and what I see before me is all good things.

Guest Post: My Personal Journey as a Writer by Danielle Larsen

Introducing Danielle Larsen who shares an insight into her journey as a writer.

I never really thought of myself as a writer. Even now, with a published book, it’s still something I struggle with. I think it’s because I’ve always had this image in my head of what a writer is “supposed to be.” I picture Charles Dickens or Jane Austen sitting by candlelight hunched over pages and pages of handwritten stories. I see Jo March from Little Women feverishly writing into the night until her hand cramps up. I never thought that simply writing about myself was enough to consider me a writer.

Looking back, writing has always been part of my life, but it probably wasn’t in the way that most of my peers came to it. I was the teenager with endless journals and diaries, pouring my heart and thoughts into pages but struggled with writing assignments in school. If there was an opportunity for an alternate assignment that didn’t involve writing a paper, that’s what I was going to do.

When I was in college, my school had a habit of “personal reflection essays.” At the end of each semester, you had to write a paper for almost every single class reflecting on your journey and time in that class. Writing these small essays got me into the habit of looking inward and really putting my thoughts into something coherent. I fully believe this is what eventually led to my current blog, The Mindful Fight, which has been up and running for about a year and a half now.

But writing a memoir, even though people had told me that I should, wasn’t really anything that I thought I’d ever be able to accomplish. While writing any kind of book is a never-ending process of revisions, edits, and late-night writing sessions, when it comes to memoir writing you have to look so deep within yourself that the process itself is extremely exhausting. I knew that writing about my own story, which involves domestic abuse, would be something that would take a lot of strength and courage.

Even as I started writing, though, I doubted myself. The stories and words were pouring out of me, but diving into things that I’d long since buried was extremely difficult. I was finding that if a story was in my head ready to be written that I had to get it down or I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I spent many nights writing until the crack of dawn because of this. The process of tapping into these memories was exhausting enough, and I was burning the candle at both ends.

It’s been 6 months since my book came out and, if I knew then what I know now, I would have taken my time. I would have paced myself instead of subjecting myself to a constant flow of difficult memories. I had friends telling me to, but I simply couldn’t stop writing. This sounds like a good thing, but in hindsight it actually made the process harder. I would write a difficult story and then jump right into the next one. Then I would go back a few days later to reread it and it was like a severe form of immersion therapy: being constantly throw into the deep end hoping that I would swim.

Writing a memoir, no matter the subject, is something extremely personal and unless you’ve done it, it’s hard to explain how difficult it really is. Many people see memoir writing as self-indulgent and I simply don’t think that’s fair. It’s a weird thing to say, “Hey, this book is about me,” and hope that people will read it, but we wouldn’t tell our stories if we didn’t think they were worth telling. My story isn’t unique at all, but many abuse survivors never find their voice. I was able to find the strength to tell my story and my hope is that it can help others in similar situations find theirs. That’s why I called my book From Voiceless To Vocal because I went from being silenced to speaking out in the ultimate way.

As I sit here, with my book on a shelf over my head, it’s still hard to think of myself as a writer. Most of my peers are fiction writers and a lot of the time I feel as though I’m on the outside looking in within the writing community. It’s hard to consider yourself a writer when those around you are promoting their multi-book series and you have a 140 page book about your own life. But at the end of the day, I am a writer. I’m a published author regardless of what exists between those pages and even if I never sell another copy, I’ll always have that.

My advice to anyone struggling with their identity as a writer is to not compare yourself to your peers. Trust me, I know how difficult that is, but we’re all struggling with the same things. Even if you never publish a book or you have 20 by the time you’re finished, simply writing things and committing yourself to the page, regardless of whether others see it or not, makes you a writer.

Maybe some will disagree with that, but that’s part of being a writer too. Not everyone is going to love everything you have to say… but say it anyway. If you have a story you want to tell, tell it. Write the stories that you want to write because you love them and don’t worry about what might happen down the line. It might live in your computer forever or maybe you’ll become a bestseller, but you’ll know that you put those words down and that alone should make you proud.

Danielle’s inspirational memoir ‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ is available now and you can find out more information here.

Click on the book below to see my recent review and be sure to check out her website The Mindful Fight here.

Weekly Ramble #106

The past week has been an intense deep-dive into the editing of a book which is a month away from release. It represents the journey of everything I’ve learned and its intention I hope is to serve as the grandest gesture I can pay to the writing community and my readers – many of which are authors. After all, you folks made me, and you folks decided that my works were going to be a success.

I’ve become one with the journey which has now evolved into a quest. A mission to prove that not only I can find results in indie authoring and blogging but that everyone else can too, no matter where you start. Our words can stand on their own two feet and shoulder to shoulder with the rest of literature. A bold and possibly over ambitious goal but everything else I’ve achieved was and is just that. Not for glory, not for money but for the better of writing; that’s the dream I am now facing because as I said the journey has become part of me.

My numbers across the board have continued to rise and galvanise everything I’ve put into this book with hopes others can take some information and perhaps even leapfrog what I’ve done. That would be the true dream in all of this. Just how are my numbers rising daily? The support from you guys and just by being myself because good people are drawn to honesty. What you see with me, is what you get. No Twitter gimmicks, no controversy grabs, just plain honesty and a drive to help others. Honesty and being genuine always wins the day.

Weekly Ramble #105

Over the past weekend we crossed eight thousand tweet machine followers! Although things are moving real quick at the moment its a pinnacle milestone because this time last year it only stood at half that. I suppose that’s the wonder of social media and being plugged in to it, things can jump quickly sometimes, especially if you put in the time.

This humble blogging effort is also in the milestone territory of 800 follows which I must applaud all of you for. The support you have shown is incredible and good things are coming, I promise. Right now I’m taking a short break to write this entry, a break from being in the intense thunder dome of editing my next release which is less than a month away hopefully.

‘Consistent Creative Content’ has become a mission of mine to get right but I’ve been incredibly lucky to learn so much over the years and then even more fortunate to receive professional level feedback from my BETA readers. Seriously, these folks have gone above and beyond any realm that I expected – knowing good people has become something I’m incredibly lucky at seemingly. If you get yourself out there and connect with others, eventually you’ll find the same. Just got to keep going…

Weekly Ramble #104

As creators who release our work into the public domain we’re always told to prepare for good and bad reactions but it seems none of us are ever told to prepare for the effects of almost instant and explosive success. The truth is and since my book got thrown in front of a huge main stream audience of 10,000 plus, I haven’t been the same and then this weekend just gone I broke more sales records. Things are growing in a short space of time. My mind is still processing how monumental an achievement it was to get that many people download something that’s mostly unknown and then even more awesome things happened.

Recently I’ve found it difficult to think of new ideas and create new works. The sheer level of attention, reviews and continuing aftermath has been distracting and ultimately foreign to me. I’m just not used to the numbers and this is something nobody has ever talked about or given fair warning of. One day, if your work is out there, it might take off without fair warning. All success comes at a price and while recent times have been hard to adjust to, I’m still sitting in a rather good place. My mind is slowly gathering itself and learning to live with this new normal.

This entry might have started out looking like a complaint but I’m truly loving the fruits of this long journey right now. Its just taking time to adjust to what was a major corner turned. I firmly believe that if you keep going, eventually good things happen and this seems to be my year. What did I do? Nothing special, I just kept going because that’s all I know how to do.

In between reading, blogging and having a constantly demanding social media presence I’ve reached a creative plateau but ultimately that’s okay. I’m celebrating books that came out a few years ago and are now finding their success. It’s more than okay to embrace the stuff you currently have published and not worry so much about what’s to come. I have a backlist that I can lean back on and even if I’m not creating anything new right now, the pipeline still has a few more projects. Of course the self help book is just over a month away but right now and probably for the near future I’m just going to enjoy the journey. Truthfully I’m very much enjoying the social element of what has become an engaged social media following. To hear from and speak with so many folks from all over the world has brought so much joy to this journey. Reverting to zero seems like a lifetime away now.

To everyone who has interacted with me recently and those who did buy one or more of my books over the past weekend. Thank you.

Weekly Ramble #103

The stats are the greatest they have ever been for this blog. This month for the first time we broke the 2000 view barrier. Driven by consistent creative content and a loyal readership (you) this Hall of Information is reaching greater and greater heights by the day. Its almost like things are aligning all of a sudden although it has taken a long time to reach this point.

Any worthwhile venture takes time and this blog’s eventual success has proven that. From the initial launch all the way back in 2014 to the many different steps its taken. All of this has been governed by innovation and by that I mean the sheer will to find new ideas that work in reaching readers. Offering book reviews turned a corner although that took at least a year to establish any level of notoriety – only recently have I had to close submissions. And now the next step is upon us.

You can expect even more diverse content as a new era unfolds for this Hall of Information because more and more guest writers are submitting excerpts and articles. We are at a point now where the next two weeks of guest spots are fully booked which tells me we are doing something right. The best way a blog can grow is to produce more content and content that is diverse. I am now outsourcing some of it because only one man can write so much. In the next few weeks you’ll be seeing posts that will hopefully elevate the creators and keep you entertained. My aspiration for the future is to create a network of blogging where more and more writers contribute while also benefiting from the exposure of this blog’s following which is constantly growing. This has been further galvanised by an engaged and responsive Twitter following and I hoping to bring that here.

At the very forefront of this blog is book reviews and author support. That will continue because it is the centre pillar of everything to me only now it will be accompanied by a lot more content that hopes to help others further and inspire readers. We are always looking for new ways to entertain and inform the awesome supporters of this blog and so that next step beckons!

Submissions are still open for guest posts which has now been extended to sharing excerpts of books. Got an awesome first page or a memorable scene? We are happy to feature it here in front of an awesome growing audience. Head on over to the submissions page for more information.

Weekly Ramble #80

Hello friends, today I am re-blogging some reflective thoughts I had last year after realising they were going to demolish my old high school. The difficult years I spent there made for inspiration for my debut novel Open Evening which will be FREE to download next weekend!

Lee's Hall of information

They are going to knock down my old high school. This is a fact that I have recently learned which is both bitter and sweet at the same time for me. This year has presented many opportunities for deep reflection, time on our hands will do that and it’s sometimes important to revisit things with the eyes and mind you’ve grown into.

Many people over the years have relayed or recalled their school days as either mostly positive or straight up terrible while others stand somewhere in between. I’m still processing today that the school I went to and the experiences I had may have been of the worst possible persuasion.

The truth is, that place took years for me to fully recover from. During those years after, I came to realize that there were normal people in this world that you could mostly trust, share real conversations with…

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Weekly Ramble #102

I’m starting to enjoy the whole author social media thing. Twitter engagement has really come into its own over the past few months and my audience seems to be growing by the day. Books are selling and reviews are coming in, not just for The Teleporter but other titles as well. I’m tempting fate by acknowledging my success especially because I said at the very start of this year it was going to be brutal.

I guess if you stick at something and get some experience it eventually pays off. Got to keep going, keep chasing and keep creating – that’s my mantra in recent times and its paying dividends. People are drawn to success and much of this is in the eye of the beholder. I guess perception is part reality although I cannot ignore the statistics which are glaringly phenomenal right now. 2020 was the first full year I had 5 books to promote and they say things turn a corner after 5. While taking the pandemic demand for content in my stride I’ll say that things turned a corner and now the bar is continually rising. A year after that stride, things are going from strength to strength. I’m in a place I wanted to be.

People seem to listen to what I have to say now. That tweeting into the void of invisibility has fallen away. Now my tweets get like by several people, sometimes over a hundred. From where I once stood that’s an incredible feat on its own. I’ve carved this ‘success’ out of helping others and continually producing content while never giving up.

This was always a long game and after a while if you turn around there’s a whole bunch of road that has been travelled. I guess time flies when your kicking ass, especially when you don’t realise you are doing it.

Is Goodreads Any Good for Authors?

The title of this post alone will probably stir some level of reaction from those in the online publishing world and I think its time we talked about Goodreads in detail. I am very much aware that Goodreads is aimed at readers and the platform may be a polarizing topic for debate but we’re going to look through that and try to decipher whether or not its actually beneficial for the modern day author…

Disclaimer:

Much like it says in the title I will state here that this post is aimed at authors, and yes I am aware readers use Goodreads much like I do as a reader. This post is also my opinion from experience of many years as both an author and reader. Those who wish to defend Goodreads as a reader, take it elsewhere because this one is for authors and I have nothing against any reader who uses Goodreads. This post is also just my opinion which doesn’t need to be taken seriously if it upsets you in anyway. I cannot and do not wish to control how you feel so my advice is if you feel so strongly about defending Goodreads then like most things on the Internet, then scroll on by and don’t read this post.

My reasoning behind this post?

Over the many years I have spent active on social media there have been only a few occasions where I got myself into an argument that led to a toxic situation. One of them funnily enough started with me venting about Goodreads and then someone had to use capital letters in a reply to inform me Goodreads was for READERS and not authors. Arguments went back and fourth. People got unfollowed and notifications were turned off in result. I think at one point I was accused of being aggressive – Twitter right? I’m also pretty sure somebody even gave one of my books a one star rating over on Goodreads because of this argument. So of course these days I tend to stay right in the middle and don’t really tweet about anything polarising – I often see folks complain about getting into arguments on the Twitter. My advice: try not to tweet about stuff that will spark heavy debate or passionate opinion…

Very recently I saw on another platform a rather high profile indie author said they no longer look at Goodreads for the sake of their mental health and so it got me thinking. Then my bloggy sense started tingling because we need to talk about it. Truthfully, there are so many authors who live in fear of being ‘review bombed’ on Goodreads I think it’s worth addressing. What is review bombing? Well it’s a term that comes from an angry mob forming online who band together and give an author’s works low ratings on Goodreads – yes this happens and it sometimes goes unnoticed by the platform, or so I have heard. When you publish a book, you essentially build yourself a glass house that will forever be vulnerable. For some this might be a revelation but it is something I now live with, it’s common knowledge that some folks will stoop to responding to me by just rating my book with a single star. This happens to many authors all the time.

What is Goodreads?

I always like to include those of the beginner persuasion in these things and well if you are new to authoring and the online book world you’ll eventually come across Goodreads which is basically the Facebook for books online. To me, it’s a little clunkier and outdated but you can compare it to FB in essence. Authors can list their works, create profiles and even join some groups which over the years I have found quite useful – especially the indie author ones and this is probably the most social part of the platform.

For the reader side of things and probably what the site is more suitable for, you can leave reviews and probably the most important tool for me as a reader/reviewer is the ability to create a ‘to be read’ list (TBR). This way I can track what I have said I would read and review – now this falls down if a newbie author hasn’t listed their work. Top Tip: Even if you never use Goodreads again, list your works so readers and reviewers like me can find them and then remember to read them.

Slipping from my control: My Goodreads Experience

Another disclaimer:

As mentioned above, this account contains my opinion. I’ll happily admit it might not be ‘right’.

Apart from using Goodreads to track my reading/reviewing endeavours a once bright eyed indie author (me) jumped into the foray of the platform and listed his books. Now for a beginner author, Goodreads feels good. You’ve listed your books and maybe a few folks have even reviewed them. Because its normally close friends and supporters the ratings of your works will probably be quite high, to begin with. Happy days. But then things will start to slip away…

I suppose all books go through this, but after some time a book’s rating will start to go down as it picks up more reviews. And so sometimes after a big book promo I’ll see the rating of my book tank along with my mental health. Now who’s leaving all of these low ratings? Well they are not always low but the way the rating system works always seems to be against good ratings. After some years my books ratings slipped from my control even though after publication they aren’t really mine anyway. Recently I made a pact with myself to not really care about the overall rating of my book’s on Goodreads. This was a mental health driven decision. And yes I know that reviews are going to happen, I have no problem with that.

There appears to be a culture beneath the surface of Goodreads where readers can just torpedo a book with one star, even without explanation. These ratings don’t require proof of purchase and normally aren’t even moderated by the site, not to mention they help nobody. Many times I have seen authors campaign to have an abusive review taken down – you’d think they would automatically be flagged these days – as I said, outdated and also a hot bed for potential toxicity in my opinion. Let the dumpster fire burn…

This isn’t just me venting about receiving low ratings or taking shots at Goodreads because in all honesty I don’t have that many, but from my experience the whole one star torpedoing is real and I can even correlate some I’ve received to every time I have shared my honest opinion online… joke, or is it? If you really want some heavy opinion on Goodreads then all you have to do is Google it and you’ll see.

Personally and my own conclusion is that Goodreads shouldn’t be taken that seriously for authors if it stays how it is. How can we if it isn’t basically made to be troll free or at least effort is put in to do that? It is linked to Amazon so I don’t think the whole verified purchase eligibility to leave a review concept would be that hard to set up. That kind of falls down with books that are inherited or gifted so options are thin. Its become a little bit like the wild west in that respect and so if its going to be like that then I can’t take it seriously. For the sake of my mental health, I hardly look into detail at my book’s reviews on the platform, that’s what Amazon is for. (yes I know Amazon are involved with GR’s ownership)

There is however a silver lining to this because I do use Goodreads in a social capacity. The groups can be very helpful for both authors and readers. I tend to lurk mainly in the ‘Support for Indie Authors’ group which boasts several thousand members and is a message board that covers so much from basic book formatting to book promotion. There are other like minded authors out there and the groups are a good way to find them. The support level in these groups is beyond fantastic and really a credit to the platform.

Asking the wider community…

Seeing as I have an engaged responsive Twitter following full of authors I decided to take the plunge and just ask them what they think of Goodreads as a platform for Authors. The response I got was actually a little unexpected because at first nobody said anything…

Now my tweets always stir some responses but when it came to the subject of Goodreads, nothing. This is an immediate red flag because although some authors did eventually respond it says way more than I needed to know – authors are most likely hesitant to give their opinion of Goodreads in fear there will be repercussions that will negatively effect their work’s rating. Is this the modern book world we live in? Its kind of worrying and sobering but probably the true reality of how potentially toxic things can get on social media. (Remember this blog post is an exploration and my opinion, I’m not taking shots at Goodreads in any capacity).

I did however receive a number of private messages from fellow authors requesting not to be named. Their experiences were all similar and all of them mentioned the one star review thing so they would rather talk to me privately which I respect. We are all trying to maintain an image online after all. Some authors mentioned bullying, tactical reviewing so a reviewer can climb the ratings, books receiving bad reviews before release and even abuse. A major point that all of these authors mentioned also was the lack of response or action Goodreads took on certain issues. The site in my opinion appears rather unregulated and in the 21st century something that probably needs looking at.

So my tweeting efforts weren’t a success but that didn’t stop me from using the search bar to find some more author related experiences. I have opted not to include twitter handles to protect authors from any potential repercussions.

As you can see it’s polarising and of course mentions the reading experience side of things which the platform is aimed at but you can see the whole troll review thing is a problem.

Conclusion

From everything laid out I think we can at least try and put together some concluding points that authors tend to have in common. Is Goodreads any good for authors? Well here are my findings in bullet points.

  • It’s a good idea for authors to list their books on the Goodreads even if you don’t actively use it. At least that way readers can put them on their lists.
  • Goodreads would be a much better place for authors and readers if everyone was transparent about the review bomb thing – these one star review bombs help nobody and yes I know readers are entitled to their opinion but manners comes to mind.
  • That one star review bomb thing is a glaring problem but partly a mob culture that is external to Goodreads so they are not fully responsible but should at least acknowledge it.
  • Furthermore, Goodreads would benefit from introducing a review system where people have to write a sentence or two as opposed to ‘hitting and running’ because these type of empty ratings help nobody.
  • Some of the author groups contain some real value and resources that can’t be found anywhere else.
  • Goodreads can just be used as a reader only platform which I tend to do these days.
  • If you are going to use it as an author be prepared for ratings to slip potentially.

My humble opinion doesn’t really matter but it’s obvious to see authors mentioning the same issues so perhaps a little modernisation of the platform is required. As I’m writing this, today is the first day I’ve decided to no longer check my book’s ratings on the platform. They only seem to get lower – that’s my experience anyway. As a reader I will continue using the platform to post reviews and list books I want to read. My primary take away is for authors to just remove themselves from something if isn’t beneficial but if you do enjoy the platform as an author then go for it.

Everything laid out stands as a lesson for anyone potentially looking to get themselves on Goodreads and most of what I’ve said is based upon my own experience and some opinion. But what’s next, can authors go to another similar platform that might feel a little easier to use and feel fresher on the whole?

Going elsewhere

The wonderful thing about the internet is variety and even in the book world which is seemingly monopolised by Goodreads. There is another awesome platform I use. BookBub, they have own site that’s fresh and personally I think its a decent space for authors. You can review books and connect with others. Check out my profile and if you are an author get yourself a profile and list your books on there. At least that way if they are listed on the site you can then apply for a featured deal – the book promotion holy grail – more on that here.

Final Thought

Overall Goodreads is a subject many authors tend to tread lightly on and I might be risking some incoming hatred but remember this post is just my opinion and not an attempt to shutdown the site or anyone who has left a low rating for a book. Goodreads does have a place in online authoring and probably will for a long time. If you do leave a comment reminding me that Goodreads is for readers then I will probably just ignore it.

I know reviews are just opinions and there isn’t much I can do about that. If you do have any grievances then do please leave them in the comments and not through rating my books on Goodreads.

So finally, what do you think of Goodreads for Authors? (and don’t tell me the site is for readers because I know that seriously…)

Thanks for stopping by.