Sit a While, but Stay

More on the need for blogs to be maintained, no matter what…

Jo Robinson

These last few weeks I’ve noticed a couple of bloggers I really like disappear. Not just go silent for a bit, as we all have to do now and then, but actually shut down their sites. Every time I see one of those notices my stomach lurches a little at the thought of all the work they’ve put in for years, just totally vanish forever. I always miss them, and I wonder what it was that pushed them over the edge, or made the idea of blogging any more just seem too much. Maybe it’s because a lot of us have really high expectations of ourselves, and we sometimes think that not being able to work pretty much 24/7 equals failure. So we spread ourselves too thin, take on too much, agree with too much, because we’re too nice to ever say no. Procrastination and having a bit of fun…

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To Blog or Not to Blog

shakespeareblog

In this day and age, if you are a writer, one particular tool you definitely should make use of is a blog. In my case I have been regularly contributing to this blog since February 2010. A few days ago the number of my posts finally exceeded three thousand. In fact 3335. This is something I never envisioned happening way back then.

Your readers want to know what makes you tick; maintaining a blog helps to ensure that. Despite what some may think we don’t spend every waking hour at our keyboards writing several thousand words each day. We’re not automatons. Like you we also lead normal lives.

A lot of writers still don’t make use of the humble blog claiming it is a waste of their valuable writing time. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a far better medium to advertise your work as well as engaging with your potential readers than social media sites in general. Some writers merely make use of sites like Facebook, Twitter and the many others out there, believing that that is all they need to do. Wrong! While they are good as they go, they leave a lot to be desired.

Twitter is OK up to a point for links to your books, providing the length of the link doesn’t exceed the rigid limit of characters allowed. But you cannot fully engage with your readers, owing to that same character limit.

Facebook is useful merely because of its ‘Chat’ facility, allowing you to have a conversation with others. But as for advertising your books, the way it is set up means that whatever you post there doesn’t remain in view for more than a day, sometimes far less than that.

Yes you can go to the trouble of setting up an author page where you can place covers, reviews and links for your books. But unless someone is actually looking for you, because the page is not right in front of the potential reader, in other words like the regular ‘home’ page where Facebook users you have made your FB friends see all posts, which is like publishing something in a tabloid newspaper (here today, gone tomorrow), they will hardly, if ever, visit it.

Plus, don’t forget that if someone inhabiting Facebook decides that your advertising posts are spam, they can, and do, have them removed! Endlessly advertising your books on Facebook will soon gain you a reputation for spamming. Not a good idea!

I was forced to have one specific post removed this morning after one fledgling young writer decided to add my name to thousands of others in the vain hope of raising money to have her book published. I believe the practice is called cloud advertising. Had she had the decency to ask me personally, I may have obliged her. Equally I may not have. Either way, like most people in our game, I steer clear of that kind of blatant act! Most midlist writers like myself simply don’t use those kinds of tactics. We don’t need to. Either your talent as a writer ensures that your book sells or it doesn’t!

Some writers make use of the blog feature on book sites like AuthorsDen, but because the sites aren’t as popular as Facebook etc, most people simply don’t bother to go there. I  also had a page there. But all I did was use it as another specific advertising outlet for links to my books on Amazon.

New writers please take note – when setting up an account on Facebook or Twitter, using the word author as part of your name on any social media site is highly undesireable, unless your parents decided to be cruel and christen you ‘Author’ that is, in which case you have my heartfelt condolences. Employing the word in this particular instance is offputting to a lot of people. Serious writers like myself refrain from doing it. You’re impressing no one; merely showing yourselves up as wannabe posers!

Merely advertising your books is not enough! In my case I have placed all of the Amazon links worldwide for my books here on my blog in the ‘About’ page. Yes its true, I do sometimes advertise my books on my blog, or even reproduce reviews pertinent to a specific title. But that’s it! If that was all I used this blog for, potential readers and others would soon stop visiting it. From time to time I have been known to add extracts from some of my books here as well as the odd short story.

Finally, don’t forget that as you become known, your blog will become widely read, plus you will gather followers eager to read what you have to say next. Who knows, they may even feel inclined to read your books…

Use a Thesaurus

Chris-Lonsdale

For any writer, no matter whether or not you are new or seasoned, one thing we all have to take into account when writing a book is the use of appropriate words. There is always a danger of a writer showing off, intentionally or otherwise, by using certain words simply because he or she is familiar with them and likely uses them whenever conversing with people in his or her daily life, instead of making use of a Thesaurus, looking for alternatives.

What do I mean by this? To illustrate my point the following part of a sentence in a book I am currently re-reading by one well known author, quite literally puts words into the mouth of his chief character, which simply were not in use during the time period the story is set in. They came swarming downstream, transports filled with palace servants and slaves and all their accoutrements and paraphernalia.” To begin with the book is set during the the time of the Pharoahs in ancient Egypt. Words like accoutrements and paraphernalia were not in use.

Let us take a look at paraphernalia first. Definition: miscellaneous articles, especially the equipment needed for a particular activity. Using it in the book concerned is incorrect as it didn’t enter the English language until the 17th century, making it unknown in two thousand five hundred BCE.

Ok fine so it wasn’t in use back then clever clogs. So what? Who cares? How about using a word like trappings in its place?

You could, but once again it wasn’t in use at the time. It first appeared during the period of language development known as Late Middle English. What the author should have considered using is the word belongings. In this case it is highly appropriate as it refers to ‘movable possessions’. More importantly it is a word which has been around forever.

Now for accoutrements. Definition: an additional item of dress or equipment.

It sounds acceptable right? Not in this case. It didn’t appear until the 16th century, originating from the French word accoutrer which simply means clothe or equip. So once again the author is putting words into his character’s mouth that simply weren’t in use in the time period the book is set in.

Well, in this instance perhaps he should have considered using the word device.

You could, but it didn’t appear until the period of Early Middle English.

What about using equipment?

Once again, you could. But it didn’t appear in our language until the early 18th century. The word is French in origin – equiper. Now, are you beginning to see what a minefield the English language is for writers?

~~~

In the author in question’s case he simply gets away with it for two reasons, the first being that he is a highly successful and respected author. The second reason is that most people, by that I mean ordinary book lovers, wouldn’t consider questioning his choice of words, merely because they accept and understand the words he uses.

But we’re writers. So we have no excuses. Take a moment when you are writing a book to ask yourself if the language you are using is appropriate. Above all, invest in a Dictionary and Thesaurus, and please make sure the words you employ were common during the time period your book is set in, as far as is practicable. Take a tip from me, try to simplify by striking a sensible balance. Above all, refrain from the use of long words where possible.

Does all of the above really matter these days? Damned right it does! Just wait until your next novel appears in the market. There are pedantic people out there who take great delight in pointing out things like the above, as well as spelling errors under the guise of offering a legitimate review for your work. To survive, you must become not only an editor, but also someone most writers loath, a pedant, to protect your work and your reputation as a writer…

Christian in Iran to have his lips burnt for eating during Ramadan

Christian Man has lips lips burnt

 

This is the twenty-first century not the middle ages, and yet the stealthy spread of radical Islam continues. Will the West ever wake up? Maybe only when Mosques dominate the skylines of London and New York. Ignoring it as our politicians are, hoping it will fade away, won’t make it stop. This is the payback for the Crusades. Islam has a long memory. It’s been a long time coming…

What happened here is nothing short of barbarism!

Christian in Iran to have his lips burnt for eating during Ramadan.

Hey, what’s that book you’re not reading?

Why buy a book if you have no intention of reading it?

Quomodocumque

bookfreshpressIn the Wall Street Journal this weekend I define a new metric aimed at identifying books people are buying but not reading.

How can we find today’s greatest non-reads? Amazon’s “Popular Highlights” feature provides one quick and dirty measure. Every book’s Kindle page lists the five passages most highlighted by readers. If every reader is getting to the end, those highlights could be scattered throughout the length of the book. If nobody has made it past the introduction, the popular highlights will be clustered at the beginning.

Thus, the Hawking Index (HI): Take the page numbers of a book’s five top highlights, average them, and divide by the number of pages in the whole book. The higher the number, the more of the book we’re guessing most people are likely to have read. (Disclaimer: This is not remotely scientific and is for entertainment purposes only!)

At the end I suggest…

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Additional Thoughts on Submitting Manuscripts

Additional Thoughts on Submitting Manuscripts

More thoughts from a successful mid-list author…

writerlywitterings

This post follows on from the video here. The post will make a bit more sense if you watch the video as well.

I am always adding the odd comment, but as you will tell from my video, my daughter was monitoring my wittering from behind the camera. She is very efficient (apart from when she kicks the tripod and stops our recording) and tries to keep me to a sensible time for each video (in other words, she tries – tries – to shut me up). However, there are always a few points I feel the need to expand upon. It’s a bit like my novels. I always like to have an Author’s Note because it’s there that I can throw all the useful and fascinating extra stuff I couldn’t put in the main story.

So these are the extra bits that didn’t fit into the time my…

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Meet Guest Author Kenneth C. Crowe

Another seasoned writer shares his experiences with publishers and publishing…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Collision1865771Writing novels is my passion, a process that started back in the late 1950s when I got out of the army. I went through two agents in the ensuing years. While I was able to get two nonfiction books, AMERICA FOR SALE (about foreign investment in the United States) and COLLISION (about the reform movement in the Teamsters) published, my novels ran into the wall created by traditional publishers.

OIn 1993, I wrote OOOEELIE, a science fiction/fantasy novel. My agent loved it. Six publishers expressed an interest and the book was put out to bid. None bid. Another unpublished novel to my credit.

My agent suggested I stick to nonfiction. I decided to keep pursuing my dream, and besides, I had learned to write novels. She eventually dumped me.

I was never able to find another agent for my novels. Several urged me to do nonfiction.

To support my…

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Warrior

A timeless poem…

Jo Robinson

Warrior

In those old times of war and blight
Faces turned from crimes of day and night
Chose not to see our world die behind lie on lie
When those fiery riders came that final time, to forever shield the light
Falling scales of apathy, too late forced truth to every shuttered eye
It was too late to rebel. Too late to fight

She rose from the ashes after those fire years. That warrior lord
When the Earth could take no more
She allowed no further crime to wound the face of God
She called her hidden armies, so ridiculed before
They came from their secret places, and their places of helpless war
To protect the weak and the voiceless with swords that cut and burned. Words no more

Now we see those wrongs that we unthinking wrought
Those unseen evils of greed, and stolen beauty bought
Shame-filled tears too late…

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What’s wrong with this picture?

muni-urban-youth-david-lytle

I really despair for a nation when its youth shows a clear lack of interest in bettering themselves. Yesterday I took a look at a series of one star reviews by teenagers for books which their schools require them to read such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Virgil’s The Aeneid, Homer’s The Iliad and many more. In this particular instance the nation in question is the United States of America. While I smiled at what was written there, its no laughing matter. To me it shows that something is seriously wrong in Western society today.

I’m not saying that all young American’s are illiterate by any means. But when many other country’s children cry out for education, devouring everything they are taught, why is it that the same can’t be said for some Western nations, particularly those deemed to be leaders? We should be setting an example, not showing clear evidence of decline!

Here in the UK a large percentage of our own youth show the same lack of enthusiasm for education, preferring their smartphones and the inevitable shorthand version of our language such as LOL instead of laugh out loud, along with spending hours playing games, either on their iphones, Tablets, Laptops or game consoles.

What happened to reading books? Playing computer games and using an incorrect abbreviated version of your language won’t educate you!!!

Being able to count, add, subtract, multiply and divide, along with reading and writing are just some of the fundamentals that every human being has the right to be able to master. In particular if you want a job, demonstrating your lack of education by being illiterate and inarticulate will ensure that you remain unemployed and a drain on your country.

When I was a callow youth, I was always useless at mathematics. Only three subjects ever mattered to me during my education, literature, geography and history. I spent every spare moment I had reading. Anyone can learn so much from great works of ancient literature like the Aeneid and The Illiad and more modern works such as the complete works of William Shakespeare, or from nineteenth and twentieth century writers.

Hells teeth! When a teenager believes that a book written by one of his or her fellow countrymen (in this case F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby, written in 1925) is a Victorian novel, what hope is there for the world especially when that child’s nation is a super power with weapons of mass destruction?

I’ve just finished reading the maxims written down over four thousand five hundred years ago by Ptah-Hotep the Egyptian seer. I wonder what those same moronic individuals would have to say about that if it was part of the required reading lists in high schools?

I hate to think…