Book Reviews

Book Review – The Hunted And Other Twisted Tales By Paul J Kearns.

The Hunted and other Twisted Tales is an anthology.

The titular story, The Hunted, tells of two young vampires caught in a mortal battle with an ancient werewolf. They will have to use all their abilities to try and outsmart an enemy who is far superior to them in every aspect.

Within the other pages of the book you will find six more short stories crossing genres of horror, action and dark fantasy. They have a running theme of supernatural transformation and supernatural beings beyond the realm human of human understanding.

With elements of gore and dark humour these stories are not intender for the faint of heart.

This is a book that has me divided because I actually enjoyed the stories, my favourite and one I highly recommend is In The Basement, but I have to be honest I hated the actual book itself. So, let’s take this one bit at a time.

The stories themselves are well crafted and had some interesting plot twists, I liked them enough to have a favourite, as mentioned previously, and I would highly recommend this as a book to read on kindle.

Here is where it gets tricky, and I feel bad. I like the cover, black, white, and read classic horror colours and fangs, of course, leave you in no doubt what you are about to get, I did remind me of Hammer House of Horror, and some people might think it looks a little dated and simple but for me it was okay.

The problems start when you open the book and are met by stark white sheets rather than cream (a mistake I made when I first published Disintegration. and one that I have to confess I am stuck with as Amazon does not allow you to change). This is something that is part of the learning curve, the next bit is a personal bugbear of mine, if you are going to publish an anthology or short story collection you need to put in a contents page. I know it is not a long book and I did read it in one session, but it is still something I would expect to see.

Now, the next thing is something that I was also guilty of when I first published but have since gone back and remedied, and that is that the text has not been justified, when you do the copy for Kindle it doesn’t matter their software does it for you, but once you put it into the print form you really should, it just looks so much better and more professional. And again you could say that does not matter but when you are competing against so many other books you have to present your work as best you can, which brings me to the final thing, the editing.

Throughout the book it is just too inconsistent, one paragraph is indented then the next half a dozen are not, speech seems to be indented the majority of the time. I am not going to say it stopped me wanting to read the book but several times when I had to put it down it made it hard to find my place again which annoyed me.

All the issues are so easy to fix (except the white paper he is stuck with that) he just needs to find to find someone to help him with the editing or proofreading just to point things out, something we all needed when beginning our writing journey. I really hope he does find someone to help him because he has real talent with the writing side of things, and that he is not too upset when he reads this.

Because of the issues I have to give this book 3.5 out of five stars if it was edited properly there would be an extra full star there, but please consider reading this on your kindle as I say the stories are actually good.

If you want to find out more about Paul you can find him here.

Lazy Sunday

Lazy Sunday #34

Apologies for missing last week but as I had a busy weekend I had been trying to catch up on housework when my daughter rung to take me out for dinner, you can see what I ate over on instagram and if you don’t follow me there and have an account that look me up here hopefully over the next few months I will have far more to share there.

Today is the first day of the year where I have been able to get some washing out on the line with the hope of it drying and I want to get some extra washing caught up with today so forgive me if this ends up being posted late as I am back and forth between writing and house work.

So what do I have to share today…

  1. Last week at the Leeds ticket launch I met the lovely Nadia and it gives me great pleasure to introduce her blog here through this very heartfelt post about self published authors
  2. As Saint Patrick’s  day is just around the corner I thought it would be cool to hare this, not that I think you really need a recipe to make stew but because the recipe featured is over a hundred years old and also because despite my Irish heritage it is one I will never make, the truth is I don’t like lamb in fact if I ever have to eat it the only way I can get it down is to drown it in mint sauce
  3. The wonderfully talented Lucy has a new facebook page so visit her post like her poem then head over to her facebook page and give her a like you won’t regret it
  4. I love it when people I have been lucky enough to get acquainted with are successful, not only is it obviously fantastic from them but it also allows you hope that one day it might happen for you too
  5. A final link for today but it is mainly the link within the link you need because we all like to read a good story especially if it is a freebie

I hope you enjoyed these, I really should go outside and do a little gardening while the weather is good but to be honest I am not really in a the gardening mood, instead I think I might sit and write a little more.

Editing · WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday, Inspirations!

As you know I am busy working away at finishing Voices Across The Void, and today I thought I would share a little bit about the inspiration behind the stories. Voices is not your typical ghost story collection, not all the stories are intended to scare, that maybe in part because I do not find the dead anywhere near as scary as the living.

Voices is about just that, the voices of both the living and the dead, the ways in which they may connect and communicate. Just as no two people are the same, it would be wrong to think that in death everyone becomes clone like and act in the same way for the same motivations. just like the living they are all different.

That is the premise of this book, stories are told from both sides of the Void, some by the living some by the dead, some well you will see for yourselves if you read the book. There are stories to hopefully make you laugh, think, possibly feel the hairs on your neck go up, and one, well one has made every who has read it so far cry. One story, a humorous one was inspired by one of the programmes I discussed yesterday, it plays with the idea of ghost hunting shows and what would happen if the ghosts were not quite so subtle in their responses, that is one of my favourites but as always with my stories has a little bit of a twist.

Anyway that is it for today as I need to get a couple of other things done before I delve back into editing, I do however want to thank Heidi for her suggestion that is helping so much in the editing process. At her suggestion I am using text to speech software to read back my work to me, it works really well for those silly typos where you type in instead of on and the spell check obviously fails to see it. It also reminds me to add extra commas and shorten sentences, I have a horrible habit of forgetting readers need to breathe.

3. Wednesday · Marketing · WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday – Balancing The Books

So the last couple of weeks I have been talking about the other side of preparing to publish, the setting everything up and getting all your social media, website and Amazon looking professional.  Today I want to talk about another part finances!

Now the first thing I have to point out is not only am I not an accountant but I am not really expecting to make millions from my writing, though of course it would be nice.  What I do want to do is eventually make enough money to not have to do the day job, and if I want that to be a realistic aim I have to be realistic and that means taking stock and learning to keep track of the pennies.  Everyone says if you want to make a living from writing you have to treat it in many ways like any other business and that means keeping track of the money going out and the money coming in, though at the minute in my case it is all still one way.

I am going to share with you my spreadsheet or to be truthful the one I found online and changed the name on…

Screenshot 2015-07-01 09.42.58

I started it in April which is of course start of the tax year here in the UK and at the end of June I stand at £88 and change in the red in terms of what I class as writing expenses.  I thought it would be interesting to discuss a couple of them here.

Duotrope – I pay a monthly subscription of £3.39 each month, roughly $5, this gives me access to a market that lists journals and magazines actively seeking material as well as details for a whole range of others, it gives me details of their rates of acceptance, turn around, speed of initial response, as well as rates of pay.  It also has a really good online submission tracker where you can enter details of each story and submission you make, which is very reassuring when you are waiting to hear back and it feels like you have been waiting months and in fact it has only been a fortnight.  I think this is a really good resource for anyone wanting to get short stories or poetry out there.

Office 365 – I have had a nightmare with this, I decided to go with the 5 machine option at £7.99 per month, mainly as I thought it would be good to put my daughters laptop on the same account for when she was having a read though for me but also I hope in the near future to invest in a desktop set up as well as the laptop and I even considered putting it on the tablet.  First they have messed me about a couple of times over the subscription but I did not want to shell out for 12 months at once even though it would have worked out a couple of pounds cheaper, then I discovered I cannot put it on the tablet because the tablet does not have windows.  I think I may purchase a windows tablet for writing but to be honest that is not in the near future. The plus side of having the Office 365 is all the bonus features for online storage, templates and other things you don’t know you need until you do. As a writer Word is a must this ensures you have all possible versions available according to submission guidelines.

Skype – As part of my Office package I also get 60 minutes of international calls, I took out a yearly number rental which worked out a lot cheaper than doing it monthly and I also decided to add on a UK calls subscription for £1.55 a month which to be fair I don’t really need unless I am doing interviews online but as I hope to start doing those soon then it is worth it plus the combination of that with the number gives me a purely business number rather than using my personal ones.

Phone – now this one is probably wrongly labelled as maybe internet should be a better label, I used the amount as a round up figure taking both my broadband and mobile internet expenditure into account, however this is where things start to get more technical as I will explain in a minute.

Obviously there are other things I have paid for that are not in there, ink and paper for the printer, pens, journals, these are things I can actually put in but hadn’t thought to add in but will in future.  The larger purchases such as domain names and websites, editing software for videos to make vlogs and also things like the camera and laptop.  These are all things I had already paid out for, I cannot now add them into this year however things like my wordpress domain name and website domain name will be added in when I renew them and an new software or hardware will be also added which will take me further and further into the red.  Several articles have mentioned if you write at home you can claim back for your office space but you need to work out exactly what proportion of your home in terms of square feet vs rent you can actually claim for. Likewise to fully claim for internet I would have to work out the exact amount of time spent on writing related online time vs leisure time for a percentage of the bill. You could also claim back for clothes to wear for book signings likewise possibly beauty treatments such as a trip to the hairdresser to do a public appearance.

The thing with all these things are you have to be making money before any of them become an issue but I have had it pointed out to me that getting into the habit of tracking these expenses now before they start building is a good practise to get into.

It would be nice if this time next year I could be starting the year in the black rather than the red.


3. Wednesday · Editing · Plots · WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday – Keeping the motivation going.

First up if you want to check out the resolution round up for May you can do so by clicking here.

One of my major issues is seeing things through to the end, I write a story then things either go wrong or it just gets to the editing stage and I lose momentum.  As much as I want to finish a project my mind has finished with it and wants to move on to the next, it does not want to carry on doing the tedious work of editing.  I know if I exert myself and become even semi successful this will get easier, once I start to make money back I can look at hiring editors and getting help with that part or the process.  My daughter was helping with it at one point but she has a full time job and life of her own and that has to be her priority I would not have it any other way though of course I would love to be able to hire her as my editor full time there is very little chance of that ever happening.

Voices is proving extremely hard to finish, I have lost stories that were completed, some of which I have printed off and am in the process of editing as I type them up, others require more or less a full rewrite from skeleton outlines of stories.  I know I will get there and I am forcing myself to persevere.  The one thing I have done is to begin working on two projects at a time rather than one, now by that I do not mean two novels at a time, rather while working on Voices I am also working on Disintegration and swapping between the two when I find myself hitting a wall with one.  Once Disintegration in completed I will alternate with a bonus short story of a different genre for submission to journals.

I am feeling very positive still even though at times it is easy to feel like I am climbing a mountain wearing flip flops but I know I will get there.

Editing · WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday – More Rejections

Just a quick post today as I am getting for the monster’s birthday which is tomorrow as I write this but today as you read it.  I am hoping he loves his presents and I can get some footage of him opening a present in the morning and his cake in the afternoon.

I am determined to keep positive in the face of adversity at the minute so the latest rejection has not phased me, infact I was positively delighted by it!

No, I have not lost my final marble, let me explain.  I decided that I should as they say reach for the moon in the hope of ending up amongst the stars, so I submitted my story to what I consider one of the best Sci-Fi magazines out there, (should you be part of a different Sci-Fi mag don’t take it personally I am sure I will get to you) this is an award winning magazine so as a totally unpublished writer I fully expected to be rejected.  Now let me tell you why I was so thrilled, firstly I did not receive the form email, I actually got a personal response from the editor then as a bonus he pointed out that although my story was not what they were looking for at the minute I had actually not got the right format they like for submissions and he provided a link showing how they like work submitted for future reference.  I want you to bear in mind I was physically shaking last week when I hit the submission button, though why I am not sure it is not as if they were going to come to my work and scream in my face I was rubbish and never to write again but I guess that is what nerves do to you.  I could get really down this is the second rejection for this story but I really like this story and believe in it, for me it is a case of finding the right place for it and I will keep submitting it until I find a market or until I decide to use it in a different way as part of an anthology or collection.

With reference to the competition I mentioned last week I did message them for more clarification on certain points and do feel a little more comfortable about their responses, the reason for not dates announced was they expected to have to extend the deadline (I am guessing to get enough entries to cover the prize money) I have not decided if I am going to enter yet mainly now as the story I was writing took a path I am not sure is right for the competition but we shall see, I may take a chance with it knowing even if it gets no where I have another piece for submission to other areas.

Okay better go get stuff organised and let the dogs out, then towel them off as it is throwing it down here once again and I am sure the fox has been back in the garden judging from the smell of the spaniel when he comes back in.

Editing · Research · WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesdays – Getting the house in order.

There is a Kylie song which pretty much sums up how I am feeling at the minute in fact lets insert it here and you can listen while reading as long as you don’t get distracted by the hot pants…

Okay so now we have the music pumping lets crack on, first you will have noticed Monday remains book reviews but the TV post on a Tuesday has undergone a little transformation towards more of a writing view point.  Here on a Wednesday I will talk about my writing in the previous week, so this week I would mention the fact I have been reworking the story which was rejected into a longer form for submission to a Sci-Fi market and that I have now moved on to reworking an old serial I posted on here to try to extend it with the intention of publishing it as a novella.  I felt a brief break from Voices was needed for a couple of weeks while I get into the swing of my timetable/scheduling routine.

For those of you who want to see who I am doing with the resolutions I posted back in January the last months round up is published and you can read that here.

I feel I should briefly touch on that here I am a list addict I find I am more productive if I can see exactly what needs doing and what has been accomplished. Previously I seemed to have different lists all over the place but then I bought this…

index71cJ64-A3BL._SL1500_I am loving it and although it has taken a week of two moving things round to find a way to make it work best for me I am really happy with it.  At £17.99 it was not exactly cheap but it has some brilliant exercises in the front as well to help keep you mentally focused and motivated I just hope they make one or next year now, if you want a better look you can find it here.

Thursdays for now will continues as Throwback Thursdays partly because they are quick to post and secondly I have lots of old photos and as time goes on new photos become old ones, not sure I would continue it next year but for the rest of this year you get to look at my mug at least once a week.

Fridays will remain Vlog Time though I would like to improve these and add a little more in terms of content I also know a few people would like to see and hear more from the monster so maybe I will look at when I film them and see if that can be changed.

Saturdays will become a little more about me, once a month will be the Glossybox review, my friend Deborah gave me lots of grief when I stopped those before and as she has my phone number and knows where I work I better not upset her any more. I will use this day to talk about any days out I have had, plays I have been to etc.  It may be in the form of a blog post or some video footage depending where I have been or most likely a mixture of both. I also listen to a lot of podcasts so I may discuss issues from them or the news at this point but I do not want this to get heavy and serious I would rather keep up with a light hearted tone similar to the one I used during A-Z.

Sunday will see the return of Sunday Story, at the minute I am aiming to post a flash piece or a character scene and keeping it under a 1000 words, half my flash fiction pieces seem to end up getting reused at a later date as the start point for longer pieces and that is a failing of my flash fiction writing that I can never tell the full story in so few words people always ask for more so we shall see what happens with them.  I do think by having at least one separate piece to work on each week it will give me a break from my main WIP and take some of the pressure off myself.

Write back to writing now I hope you like the sound of the changes I am making and really hope you will all enjoy what is to come.  And I want to say thank you to all of you for being there through the last few dark months, your likes, comments and support has meant more than you can ever know xx

4. Thursday · The Muse · Thoughts on thursday

Contests – Worth the investment?


Recently I seem to have been hearing the same advice everywhere, blogs, podcasts, magazines they all say the same thing enter competitions.

I do have writer friends who do enter lots of contests, partly in the hope of getting a little financial remuneration for the hours at the keyboard but most of the time I think for the sheer fun of it, but there is a more serious side to contest entry.

This is where the advice comes in, it is suggested that if you do enter and win or if it is one of the bigger more prestigious contests are short-listed that this achievement on your writing CV or cover letter could seriously enhance your chances of an agent or publisher actually taking the time to read your work.

Now no way am I going to be entering anything this side of Christmas life is far too hectic but I have taken the time to actually look though a couple of my Writers Forum magazines at some of the contests in there.  It is eye opening to see not only the range of contests out there but also the range of prizes from dictionaries and a smile to publishing deals.

The other thing which also varies is the cost of entering, while there are free ones there are also a range of contests who charge for entry, I think the thing to do is actually consider very carefully whether you really want to enter these and what they offer in return.  Some offer detailed critiques of your entries for an extra fee of course and the cost-prize ratio also is something to take into account is is worth entering a competition which charges you £10 to possibly win a hundred when if you had researched better you could have won a thousand.  It can also be worth keeping an eye out for who judges which competitions, it costs £15 to enter the Ruth Rendall competition which she judges herself but if you write in that genre being able to add her vote to a cover letter by winning or being short-listed in her competition cannot do you any harm.

I really don’t have the time to do this this year but as one of my writing resolutions for next year I am going to enter at least one competition per month fingers crossed if I could win one or get a couple of places it would cover the cost of the rest lol