My New Facebook Author Page

Although I have had a book page on Facebook for some time, I have only just got around to creating an Author Page – better late than never, I suppose!

Anyway, please have a look and ‘like/follow’ the page for updates and news about my books and stories here!

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Haiku Experiments

Japanese painting

 

As a Flash Fiction Challenge from Dan Alatorre (Click here to see his original post), I am supposed to write a Haiku about a randomly generated topic – mine was ‘What you shouldn’t say at a funeral’

Faux Pas

‘He was my father.’

‘He was my father as well.’

‘Who the hell are you?’

 

I’m going to try some different ones.

 

Dogs

Dogs like to ‘kiss’ you

Around your face, nose and mouth

After licking bum!

 

My dog had a limp

She had hydrotherapy

She pooed in the pool

 

Lemonade was spilled

I dipped finger and tasted

Gah! It was dog drool!

 

Image in Public domain

How much help are book reviews?

512px-5_stars.svg

 

Well, first of all, are we talking of the reader or the writer of a particular book?

As a fairly new writer, I was appalled to learn that readers often assume that five star reviews are given by friends and family and one star ratings are from people with issues of some kind. As an author, nothing gives me such a thrill as seeing a five star review. What a shame if they are disregarded. Even low reviews can be useful to point out faults you might be able to correct next time, or learn from in some way, but a five star review is a vindication of all your efforts and the work you put in. However, when it comes to reviews the ones you remember most are typically the one star, spiteful nasty ones. Isn’t it typical? You might have twenty four and five star reviews, but its the one or two low ones that you think about the most.I’m pretty thick skinned, but they even get to me. The only comfort I have found is that in two cases, where the reviewer obviously hadn’t read the book (and in one case, actually admitted as much), others have commented that it is unfair to download just the ‘freebie’ part or look only at the ‘Look inside’ section and then post a bad review. But they do it. It’s a part of being a writer. Who knows what their motivations are? However, you can see that reviews are important to us. Apparently, your book gets more prominence if you have over fifty reviews, so please guys! Give a review if you’ve enjoyed a book (or even if you haven’t, if you must -they all count towards our fifty.

As a reader, \i do look at reviews, but if I think by the blurb that I might like a book, I prefer to judge for myself – reviews are a guide and some are really helpful, but not the be-all and end-all of whether or not I will buy a book.

And I have to add that none of my family have reviewed my books. One or two friends have, but they were unsolicited by me and they are absolutely genuine reviews. Goodreads actually has a separate section for ‘friend’ reviews. Good idea, you might think, except that anyone can ‘friend’ you and you may not know them from Adam.Then their review is seen as biased.I suppose you can’t win!

 

 

 

Image credit: By User:Estoy Aquí (Self created (previously on en.wikipedia)) [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Meaning of Fiction

Definition of fiction. 1 a : something invented by the imagination or feigned; specifically : an invented story b : fictitious literature (as novels or short stories) c : a work of fiction; especially : novel.

Pic of fiction shelves

As you may realise if you have been reading this blog for a while, my novels deal with time travel and alternative history.

They have occasionally been criticised for not complying with the laws of physics (‘If you change history, your heroine will not have existed’, ‘You can’t go backwards in time’, ‘You can’t have Richard co-existing with his bones – it breaks the laws of physics’, ‘It would create a paradox’, etc, etc). Well, I’ve got news for you folks: the books are FICTION, products of my own imagination, so actually I can break the laws of physics, the law of the land, the law of gravity or any other law I like. In my books, I am God and I can do whatever I wish. That’s what fiction means (see above) – it doesn’t have to stick to the facts or the rules. And that’s what makes it fun both to write and to read. It gives you the ability to surprise, shock and entertain. It allows for creativity, ingenuity and originality. The ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy didn’t care about the laws of physics as long as the storyline was entertaining and the viewers could follow the plot – and they were great films.

Having said that, I do try to make my fictional world consistent in order to allow the reader to immerse themselves in my world and suspend their disbelief for a while. If everything were completely outlandish the story wouldn’t flow or give the illusion of a ‘real’ situation.

I remember the story of a cartoonist who wrote tales of a hero escaping from all sorts of dire situations – a different one every week. Then he went on holiday and his advance episodes got lost. The hero was tied on a railway track with the train almost upon him. How had the cartoonist got him out of this predicament? They couldn’t work it out. The Editor was beside himself and tried to get an assistant to sort out the ending, but despite wracking his brains, he could think of no way to save the hero. In desperation they sent a telegram to the cartoonist on his holiday and begged him to help them – could he send a reply back telling them how the hero escapes the oncoming train? When the reply arrived they opened it eagerly. The cartoonist had written: ‘In one bound he was free!’

A rather extreme example, but I’m sure you know what I mean!

 

Image credit: By SEMSLibraryLady (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The pros and cons of self-publishing on: Kindle, Amazon (CreateSpace) and Blurb

I have just uploaded my new novel to Amazon and Blurb, as well as having it available on Kindle as an e-book. Each of these publishing platforms require different formats and respond differently. So which is best? Well, the overused phrase ‘swings and roundabouts’ comes to mind.

Let us look first at Kindle. I would recommend downloading their free guides on how to publish on Kindle – they are quite well-explained and easy to follow. You need to have the book saved as a Word document and, if you want readers to be able to navigate through the book properly you have to ensure you create an e-book friendly Table of Contents. You do this in Word and the Kindle guides explain how to do it clearly. You can then upload it to Kindle and either publish or set it up for pre-order with a release date, as long as it is more or less completed. You can also use their software to create a cover. Here is a thumbnail version:

Pic of Kindle cover

If you want to make it available on Amazon in a print version, one advantage is that, providing your title, author name, description, etc are the same, Amazon will automatically link it with the Kindle version. However, a major disadvantage is that if you have to make any corrections you have to go through their review process all over again which takes 24 hours. Also, if you are in the UK and you want a proof copy, it takes weeks to arrive as it’s sent from America. There is an online proof reader, but it isn’t as good as having the book in your hand. CreateSpace also has templates for you to design a cover, but it would be better if it could align with Kindle, so the covers can be the same as, unless you have a complete cover PDF to upload, it turns out differently. This is my uploaded finished version.

CreateSpace cover

So, what about Blurb?  My first book was available on Blurb and there are again advantages and disadvantages to it. In my opinion, the print quality is much better in Blurb as you can use font templates which mean you can have attractive chapter end  icons and titles which have nice little twiddly bits around them. However the down side is that their software (Bookwright) is very laborious to use and even crashed on me just as I had completed the book, which meant I lost several days’ work. Also, if you have to make changes, you get assigned a new ISBN number each time, which seems rather over the top to me. You can design a cover, but have little choice of layout, although I like them as you can use the templates to make the background something other than plain white.

Pic of Blurb cover

You can also use the backgrounds inside for your title pages, etc. I found the page numbering to be fiddly and non-intuitive, although I also had trouble with CreateSpace for this. If you want to be sent a proof from Blurb it is much quicker than CreateSpace. You can save the work in Word, although they recommend installing each chapter separately. Uploading the final book to the website for publishing takes AGES! My latest work which is about 421 pages took THREE HOURS, whereas CreateSpace  only takes a few minutes (but then you have the 24 hour wait for approval and the weeks to get a proof!).

So, in the end, I have published my latest novel on all three. I tend to order from Blurb in batches to get a discount and save on postage and then I sell them personally, whereas for those living outside the UK, ordering on Amazon would probably be more cost-effective.

Another NaNo done!

Last month (November) I took part in another National Novel Writing Month. This was how I originally managed to write my first novel, Richard Liveth Yet.

I find it helpful because I am a terrible procrastinator and I need the target (50,000 words) and the deadline (in a month) to motivate me to get on with it!

There are now three NaNos every year in November (the original) where you are challenged to write a 50,000 novel in a month. In April and July they have Camp NaNo where you set your own target (anything from 10,000 words to 1 million!)

So what did I write this time? Well, I have already almost finished the second part of Richard Liveth Yet (called Richard Liveth Yet Book II – A Foreign Country) so I didn’t have 50,000 words left to write. I therefore decided to get started on the third part, Richard Liveth Yet Book III – Hearts Never Change! Yes it’s going to be a trilogy and I hope to have the second part published early next year.

Here is the proof that I did write 50,000 words! (Joanne Walter is my maiden name and once I used it I can’t change it!)

Graph showing achievment of 50,000 words written

Channel Your Characters

Great advice, thank you!

A Writer's Path

Characters

by Franklin Kendrick

There are a lot of books and articles that talk about the craft of writing good characters, their motivations, how to give them personalities, etc. So, what’s one more added to the list? Well, this is my personal approach to writing a scene by channeling my characters. Perhaps it will help you out if you’re in a jam.

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7 Writing Rules For Fiction

This is great advice!

A Writer's Path

Fiction

Overwhelmed by fiction-writing advice? Me too, and I’m an editor as well as a writer. Everyone and anyone who has a blog or website seems to be keen on throwing in their penny’s worth. A lot of it is genuinely good advice. But what works for them won’t necessarily be right for you.

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