Trying something a little different!

As you are aware I am launching Ascension next month, the first part of the Queen of Ages trilogy, that means the next couple of weeks I shall be busy doing final edits and playback to catch those silly little errors we so often miss that spell check cannot spot, where we put in rather than is for example.

So in an attempt to stay off FB and other social media when I should be working have switched WiFi off on my computer 💻 and will only be accessing it via my phone, I intend to try to post everyday and hopefully the fact they will be brief daily blogs will be interesting to you and hopefully by the time I am ready to be back all over social media the passions regarding politics may be dying down and the name calling stop.

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One thing I do still need to do is the blurb for the back of the book and also for the description section of various places, I must be honest it is one thing I do find difficult, how to sum up a plot and a story in a few lines, giving enough to draw the reader in while not actually revealing anything important.

I also tried firing up my old phone this week in the hope of using it do do fb live and snap chat, however it seems the phone was more useless than I remembered so that plan is down the drain, I had thought it was just the battery that had gone on it but seems to be the whole android processor.

Will leave it here for today and finish eating my porridge, then the morning will be spent editing the afternoon at the day job. Catch you all tomorrow.

Thoughts On Thursday – The Learning Curve!

You write a book, you put it up on Amazon, your done, right? Wrong!

I have decided to run this, a new series of posts on a Thursday discussing the things I learn about the self publishing journey as I go along.

There are so many things now that you have no idea about when you start out as a self published author, things that you might think should be simple but oh no there are a thousand pitfalls awaiting you. So what I am going to do over the next few weeks is discuss some of the things I have learnt about so far on my publishing journey, some mistakes have been more costly than others.

Lets start with a pretty basic one, a business card. Everyone who has any type of business needs to have a card they an hand out, you can get them from a thousand printers on line and in your local area but getting it right is a whole different ball game, and one I got wrong the first time round.

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Now at first glance you might look at it and wonder what is wrong, it looks okay but then think bout what it tells you.

It tells you I have written one book, the book featured on the card, a ghost story book, it does not tell you that my novels I am realising are a completely different genre, or even that I have other books.

It gives you some information about the places you can find me on social media but misses out the website, now to be fair I did not have the website when I designed these but because I was naive I ordered a few hundred cards I then had a website and no one knew about it and I had a pile of cards so did not feel I could buy new ones until I used the ones I had up.

The next thing was the price and quality, I could have bought them cheaper but I heard from various sources that some of the ‘offers’ I had seen advertised turned out to be poor quality, I found somewhere I thought was fairly cheap and spent extra on the glossy finish and thicker card, and they were good in that respect, but there really are so many companies now that it is impossible to check them all out so a couple of things I learnt along the way…

  • Ask other people, both personally and online about the companies they have used, most people if you ask politely and respectfully will be happy to help with information like this.
  • Go onto the various sites and take a look, run through the process of designing or uploading your design, see how easy their system is to use, check out the pricing options and shipping remember just because you put the stuff into the computer does not mean you are obliged to buy them just stop before you hit the pay button.
  • Check out on their website if they offer samples, I sent to two different companies for sample packs, these give you an idea of not only the size of their cards but generally other products like flyers etc you may wish to consider at a later date and allows you to feel the different card qualities and finishes before you commit to ordering.
  • Make sure you save your design somewhere safe on your computer, just because you order from a place once does not mean you are tied to them, I would suggest ordering the smallest amount option for your first order, you can always order more at a later date if you are satisfied with the product and service.

So as you may have glanced on my vlog this is my new business card…

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Now the one thing you might notice I have included on this one is a phone number and this is another tip, at a small cost you can get a skype phone number, the great thing about this is you can literally set yourself business hours, I am at my desk Monday to Friday mornings most weeks, I tend to do blog posts, read emails, for the first couple of hours each day then afternoons and evenings are reserved for friends, family and writing. The great thing about the skype number is it goes to the computer and means I do not have to give out my personal mobile or my home phone, I chose to add it because as a chose dark colours for the background and a glossy finish, scribbling it on individual cards as need was not an option, plus if anyone abuses the number it is very easy to block using skype as I have to do several times a week with scam contacts. I would also say if you try to contact anyone via a skype number make sure from the message you send they know who you are and why they should add you to their contacts. Generally  business cards ware only given out to business contacts so unwanted calls should not be too much of an issue.

Okay so hope someone might have found something useful in this post and I shall do another next week if you enjoyed it.

Book Review – Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone By JK Rowling

I decided to reread this series in the lead up to getting and reading the new releases so let’s see how it lived up to memory…

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So as always we will begin with the Goodreads blurb…

 

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

First thing I have to say as a reread this was a little bit of a shock to the system. You might ask why, after all the book has been around for ages as have the films but that is exactly what the issue was. Over the years I have watched the films with the kids far more times than I have read the books, and the films are so well done gradually you forget what was left out of the films from the books or added in. First I have to say the writing style is really simple, no frills, exactly as it should be for the age group it is aimed at, it is of course now impossible unless you have been living under a stone not to visualise the characters as those portrayed by the actors in the films, this does make it harder to now regard the book as an individual entity.
There are a few things that I realise I had maybe not really noticed for example, I am now convinced Mrs Weasley was out to sabotage Ron’s Hogwort’s education from the start, when we know how important it is ‘The wand chooses the wizard Harry!” So the fact poor Ron is sent to start his wizarding education with his brothers second hand wand which was obviously faulty otherwise he would not have replaced it. My theory is she knows she cannot keep any of the others at home with her, especially her strong willed daughter and Ron seems like the best bet for her to be able to keep with her to mother.
The best thing about these books is the fact it made reading cool with kids again, it made parents who maybe didn’t bother take the time to read the stories with their kids, have to be honest no idea why people felt they needed an adult cover on the books, if you are going to read something don’t be afraid to let people see what it is. The style is fairly simple and yes you can pick out influences from other works but I feel that criticism is unfair, after all every thing we read influences us in one way or another.
So scores, what else can I give this other than 5 out of 5, my daughter loved the books as they came out, my son now enjoys them via audiobook and I am enjoying revisiting them.
Gold star

Audio Book Review – The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins

This book had been sat on my TBR pile for ages and I confess I had got a little worried it would not live up to the hype, finally I decided to take the plunge but in audio book format…

Running Length; 10 hours and 59 minutes

Narrated by; Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher

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The Goodreads Blurb…

A debut psychological thriller about a woman who becomes emotionally entangled in a murder investigation because of something she witnesses on her daily commute.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every night. Every day she rattles over the same track junctions, flashes past the same stretch of cozy suburban homes. And every day she stops at the same signal and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof deck, living the perfect life that Rachel craves for herself – a lifestyle she recently lost. She looks forward to observing this household every morning, even makes up names and narratives for its residents. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden, and soon after, the woman who lived there disappears.

Unable to keep this information to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and in the process is drawn into the lives of the couple she thought of as Jason and Jess but whose names – she has learned from the news – are really Megan and Scott Hipwell.

But the police accuse Rachel of being unreliable, and it’s true that her memories can’t always be trusted. Plus there are the stories that her ex-husband’s new wife has been spreading about her. By the time Megan’s body is found, Rachel is in over her head, intricately entangled in the details of the investigation, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she put others in danger? Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by listeners across markets and categories.

Strangely given all the hype I was surprised when I went to get the blurb how low the rating is for this book but I think I get why and also why as an audio book this might actually blow the written version out of the water.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints, three distinctively different women with three very different views on what is happening within the story, obviously I can only speculate given I did not read the written version but I suspect it can get hard to keep the three separate in your head. The advantage of this audio version is each of the women is narrated by a different actress, and they are all incredibly talented ladies.

The story plays with the idea of memory, not only the unreliable one of Rachel but also the way in which it is selective and allows people to fool themselves into believing their own take on things. In the end though the story is about love, betrayal and heartbreak, though the characters are very different in one way or another they are all self destructive, searching to find fulfilment in the wrong places and irreconcilably bound together by an invisible thread.

Would I recommend this book yes but I would add the proviso that I would recommend this audio book even higher, there is talk of a film but I have to say if they do they need to use this same cast and even then I am not sure it can out do this, a huge 5 out of 5 stars.

Gold star

Audio Book Review – One Of Your Own By Carol Ann Lee

This is the first true crime/biography audio book I have listened to and I was a little unsure of what to expect…

Running Length; Approx 18 hours 9 minutes

Narrated by: Maggie Mash

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The Goodreads Blurb…

On 15 November 2002, Myra Hindley died in prison, one of the few women in the UK whose crimes were deemed so indefensible that ‘life’ really did mean ‘life’. Without a doubt Britain’s most notorious murderess, her death has done nothing to diminish the shadow she casts across our collective consciousness. This book presents a study of Hindley.

I was not sure what to expect from this, so far my experiences with audio books had revolved around fiction so when I decided to try out the true crime genre and this popped up I thought why not, I am pretty sure everyone is familiar with the story of the Moors Murders so I am not going to discuss that here in detail, but before we discuss the content I want to talk about the narration.

I had to go double check the narrators name as she was not known to me, it seems she is most known for audio work and has split the reviews down the middle when it comes to narration. I lot of people did not like the ways she attempts various accents as she was reading the book, and I will confess a couple did jar, but overall I liked her voice, it was quite conversational, almost as if she were sat across from you telling you the story.

However, I have to say when she puts on the Lancashire accent and you here her speak Myra Hindley’s own words, it sends chills down the spine, but that is nothing to when she reads the words from the Lesley Ann Downey tape. For me her narration works but I can understand who it might distract people who are less used to the accents she depicts.

So the story itself, well, it is fascinating. I don’t think you necessarily learn anything new about the case but what you do get is a slightly different perspective on some things, and there was one aspect I had never thought of before. we all consider the pain left for the family of the victims but I had never really stopped to think about Myra’s family, they did nothing wrong, played no part in the crimes but their lives were also changed forever. You here about her mother, ending her life in a nursing home, spending most of her life living under different names and hiding in her room so no one knew of the relationship and the other event which made me stop and think was her sister’s funeral. Myra was refused the right to go, quite rightly I believe but what I found disturbing was that the flowers at the grave where ripped apart and destroyed, now maybe I misunderstood, but it sounded like it was not just flowers that might have been sent by Myra but all of them and I could not help but feel anger and sadness for her family, they did not do anything but at a time where they are grieving for someone who was innocent and had suffered terribly, both through illness, personal loss and the infamy of her sister, for her grave to be wrecked as a way of lashing out at someone else seems cruel, if someone had done that to a victims grave or the relative of a victim there would have been an outcry, but are Myra’s family not as much victims of her actions as the others? Some may argue if the stories of childhood abuse are true you might pass some level of blame onto the parents but her sibling did not deserve that, my feelings after listening to this anyway.

It also raised another question in my mind, one which has been asked over and over again, would either of the have committed crimes if Myra had never met Ian? My feelings are that Ian would have still gone on to abuse if not kill, he might not have been as prolific but I think he sexual proclivities would have surfaced no matter what, Myra is a different matter. I think she would have moulded herself to fit whatever was required by the person she fell for, if it had been a gangster she would have been a moll, if it had been a banker she would have turned herself into the perfect businessman’s wife, the fact it was a psychopath meant she become his partner in crime.

This book worked well on audio book I think partly because the case is so well known, obviously you miss out on the photos, maps etc that feature in the actual book but because it is well know it does not diminish your understanding of events. I do recommend it and I will certainly try other biographies and true crime books on audio.

The score for this one is 4.5 out of 5 stars it would be five if maybe they offered some for of file download option for the images in the book, as I say maybe not as big an issue for those acquainted with the case but would be useful to someone who was not.

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The Hard Work Starts When The Writing Is Done

When you get an idea for a story, when you feel inspired by the voices in your head to sit and write, your biggest challenge is getting your fingers to keep up with the words. You sit and hammer on the keyboard as fast as you can, hundreds if not thousands of words flowing from you at each sitting. Eventually you reach the end and then the real work starts.

I think it is fair to say right now I hate editing, I am more or less in the process of editing voices from one document to another because despite hitting a clear formatting button something is wrong with the file and it keeps resetting things I don’t want. To be fair this is working in my favour in the long run though as with each pass I am doing I am picking up on more silly errors. You know the type, the silly typos spell-check misses because nothing is spelt wrong you just intended to type on and ended up with no. But even this is not the hardest bit, because you know this is the necessary evil you have to go through to get that book out there.

The hardest part for most of us is the next stage.

You have your book, it looks all pretty, you have editing, double checked, banged your head against the wall, edited again, bought proof copies, spotted a couple of error you still missed and fixed them, then you hit the publish button and any confidence you had disappears.

You now have to sell your book, it sounds so simple, Twitter is full of people selling books but be honest how often have you every clicked on a link? You share to your Facebook page but unless you have already got a few books out there selling well most of the people seeing the posts are friends who either believe you should give them a copy for free or they want to support you but they are not really interested in buying or reading your books. Even when you do a give-away and people read it so few leave reviews that it makes it impossible to bump your books up the Amazon logistics chain to get it to a point where they get recommended.

Amazon are also now taking away the cheque option for payment, no I admit the idea of waiting until you have earned enough to receive a cheque was frustrating but more frustrating is trying to find a bank account here in the UK where you will not end up paying the bank more than you are receiving from Amazon.  The cheapest one I have now found is going to cost me £2 for each overseas payment received which means I need to earn at least that each months from book sales before I cover the costs and that goes for each market.  I don’t know if the decision to change this policy was due to people taking too long to earn enough to receive the cheque and it was messing up Amazon’s books or whether it is a way to reduce the number of people who decide to self publish but it does mean that instead of moving on to the next project the amount of time taken up doing marketing will have to increase.

Of course it is not all doom and gloom if you can just stick at it and increase the number of titles you have out there up for sale, and that is may aim for the next six months, life is going to get hectic and I might miss out on some of the summer sun by being sat at my desk but I want this enough to make those sacrifices.

Does the change to the way Amazon pays effect you? Any tips for marketing?