There Are No Excuses Under The Sun For Inaction

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People make me laugh. Whenever you call them out over something, nine times out of ten they will have an excuse for their inaction. A dear friend of mine who shall remain genderless and nameless came up with the absolute classic today – ‘I don’t have time’. That one is usually accompanied by another equally feeble excuse – ‘I’ll get around to it’. Yeh right, pull the other one!

I had made my mind up to give the individual in question a signed copy of my latest science fiction novella – The Guardian to thank them for their unwavering friendship to me over the years. To begin with it took them just over two weeks to wander round the corner from their home to where I live, to collect it. They went away assuring me that they would read it. That was a week ago. Considering the novella is eighty pages and slightly over thirty-thousand words, it would only take you a half day to read if you put your mind to it. But no. It turns out my friend hasn’t even started it yet. When we had our brief discussion this morning via Facebook chat, I threatened them by saying if they have no time to spare as they claim, that I would ask their partner to read it to them. Even that didn’t prick their conscience.

Mind you, my friend is notorious when it comes to time management. Plus, as they were walking down my front path to the street, when they turned round to wave goodbye, I saw that they had bent their signed paperback copy double, which made me cring, to say the least. When someone treats a physical copy of any book in such a callous way, you know you are not dealing with a book lover…

Here’s hoping that when they read this, they feel a pang of conscience and make the time to read it! A chance would be a fine thing lol.

PS – when I was their age, my frequent excuse was always ‘I’ll get around to it’. I was renowned for saying it, until the day my best friend gave me a hexagonal piece of leather with the excuse beautifully pokerworked onto its upper surface. Needless to say, I got the message…

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Book Reviews Versus Critiques

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Since sites like Amazon gave the general public the opportunity to review any book they have read, what many still fail to understand, or indeed appreciate, is the difference between writing a review and what amounts to a critique.

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Here is a typical example of a professional newspaper review:

The Secret History of the Blitz by Joshua Levine, review: ‘tunnels behind clichés’.

Next is an example of a critique by an individual who quite simply failed to appreciate the book they read:

A second weakness in Frankl’s writing is in the assumptions he sometimes makes to prove his point. He makes overarching generalizations several times in his book, making statements that, although may have been true for himself and those around him, might not have been true for every prisoner in every concentration camp during the Holocaust. For example, in one instance, he says, “The prisoner of Auschwitz , in the first phase of shock, did not fear death” (37). It is very bold to say that no prisoner of Auschwitz, one of the most well-known and deadly concentration camps of the Holocaust, did not fear death, as death was all around them and was a very real threat in their daily lives. Although he might have not feared death during his phase of shock, it is impossible for him to guarantee that no prisoner was at all fearful of death in this first psychological phase, and for him to make overarching assumptions like this is a weakness to the overall quality of his book.

Finally, Frankl sometimes becomes too technical and verbose in his writing style, which makes it very hard for the average reader to understand. One example of this is as follows. Frankl states, “I remember an incident when there was an occasion for psychotherapeutic work on the inmates of a whole hut, due to an intensification of their receptiveness because of a certain external situation” (102). This sentence, which is overly wordy and complicated, makes it difficult for the average reader to understand exactly what he is saying. A reader can easily get frustrated when trying to decipher the author’s meaning due to overly complicated language, and this is a third weakness of Frankl’s writing.

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Now do you understand? Unfortunately many people still fail to grasp the fundamental difference!

Reviews are short and to the point without criticism, or for that matter, the need to tell the author how you would have preferred to have seen certain passages written, deleted or expanded in the book in question, while also giving away the plot!

Whenever I read any critique masked as a review, I tend not to the read the book in question. Why? Because you have already told me all about it. Like millions of other readers, I far prefer to find out what’s going on in the story for myself.

Think long and hard before you feel the need to offer a critique rather than a review in the future. No one is in the least bit interested in how you want the book written, especially the author!

😉

 

Beware the Experts

Beware!!!

All I Have to Say

Experts. They’re everywhere. Self-publishing experts, social media experts, writing experts… the list goes on and on.

How can you tell if someone is an expert in their field? Anyone can claim to be an expert. Not everyone who claims to be an expert is an expert. They lack credentials, experience, and sometimes integrity. They sell services to unsuspecting authors and pad their own pockets by destroying a writer’s dreams.

I know an author who paid a “professional” to edit and format her book. When she tried to upload the book, it looked a mess on Kindle. It wouldn’t pass Createspace’s review. Her “formatted” file was useless. When she asked for help in a writer’s group we both belong to, I offered to look at her file. Wow. Not only was the formatting horrible, the editing was a mess too. When I skimmed the document in an attempt to clean up…

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As Writers We Need An Official Voice

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Remember my post about the pitfalls of ‘free books’ the other day https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/whats-wrong-with-getting-an-ebook-for-nothing/ not forgetting this one about reviews https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/are-book-reviews-really-necessary/ Here is another one from Derek on the subject we all hate, but have to participate in to gain publicity for our book(s) http://www.derekhaines.ch/vandal/2014/11/the-land-of-free-shit

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Now back to the reason for this post. As independant writers, from time to time don’t you wish we had a vociferous champion to protect us from the machinations of publishers. Yesterday I chanced upon a possibility in the form of a guild.

Guilds for professional writers are spread throughout the world. In effect they are the literary equivalent of a union. While we Indies are not salaried, (paid a wage for what we do) there’s no getting away from the fact that many of us write full time. In my book that makes us professional writers as well.

So long as we continue being individuals, we have no teeth! But if our publishers knew that we were members of a powerful writing guild, maybe, just maybe, they would think twice before treating us with disdain. Either we amalgamate into an organisation like a guild or we continue on in the same old way as a bunch of individuals tilting at windmills.

Well, what do you think? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m heartily sick of being treated like a second rate citizen and cash cow by my publisher. Here is the link to the guild in question:

http://www.independentauthorsguild.com/

If any of you are already members, perhaps you can enlighten the rest of us about it. How much clout does it have? In other words, does it stick up for its members interests? I’ve read its mission statement. Like all mission statements it says a lot but promises damn all. Therefore I have my doubts as to whether or not it is a true guild and as such is a force to be reckoned with. Judging by what they don’t say, it looks as if they are merely a collection of self-important individuals. In which case calling themselves a guild is a complete misnomer. If I’m proved correct, then its back to searching for the real McCoy. In the meantime, make your own minds up about it by clicking on the link above to examine it. Then leave your thoughts here.

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OOParts – Curiosities That Can’t Be Ignored?

This kind of thing absolutely fascinates me. Thanks to Nicholas Rossis for forwarding the link. 😉

Terri Herman-Ponce

My writing, especially in paranormal and alternate history, takes me to some very interesting places. Lately, I’ve been spending a good amount of time studying up on OOParts (Out Of Place Artifacts), which is a term applied to prehistoric objects found throughout the world that defy their level of technology, and are at odds with their age based on physical, geological, or chemical evidence.

“They are often frustrating to conventional scientists and a delight to adventurous investigators and individuals interested in alternative scientific theories.”

There are many within scientific mainstream who dismiss OOParts in general, claiming their history can be explained, their creation is not out of place to the historical period in which they’re aligned, and that the people who built or constructed them were entirely capable of doing so. In short, it’s Occam’s Razor at work: the simplest answer or explanation is often the correct one.

And yet there…

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Are Book Reviews Really Necessary?

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In a word, yes!!!

To survive, books need reviews like you need to breath. In their case reviews are necessary to bring them to the notice of potential readers out there. Without several reviews they will rapidly disappear into the slush pile along with the millions of unread books out there. One review, no matter how praiseworthy, is not enough to ensure a book’s future. But one negative review will soon attract others, ending a book’s chances of surviving!!

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t make a scrap of difference how eyecatching a book’s cover may be. What helps readers to make up their mind about any book are its reviews. Without them books simply don’t generate curiosity among the millions of jaded readers.

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To give you an example, here are the numbers so far for each of my nine books:

The Adventures of Ursus the Bear (a story for tiny tots) – 1 five star

Cataclysm (a Science Fiction novella) – 4 five star, 3 four star

The Guardian (my latest Science Fiction novella) – 2 four star (with two more reviews promised in the immediate future, which I’m looking forward to it receiving)

The Forgotten Age (an Archaeological adventure) – 5 five star, 7 four star, 1 two star, 3 one star

The Seventh Age (an Archaeological adventure) – 7 five star, 8 four star, 8 three star, 10 two star, 20 one star

The Next Age (a Science Fiction novella) – 3 five star, 1 four star, 1 two star, 1 one star

Goblin Tales (a Fantasy anthology) – 1 five star

Turning Point (a Science Fiction adventure) – 8 five star, 5 four star, 2 three star, 3 two star, 3 one star

Onet’s Tale ( a Science Fiction Space Opera) – 5 five star, 1 four star

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No prizes for guessing which of the above titles consistently sells and which don’t. Believe it or not if potential readers see nothing but five and four star reviews, they are immediately suspicious and won’t buy.

As the old saying goes, “there’s nowt as queer as folk,” especially when it comes to buying a book. The other thing to remember is that these days, anyone with an axe to grind will automatically give any book a one star review, hoping to put off potential readers.

To counter their attack, if you enjoyed it, review that book you’re reading as soon as you finished it. But before you do, take the time to think about what you are going to say. As much as you may be tempted at times, always leave objectionable reviews to those who are insanely jealous of the particular author’s success.

Plus, don’t forget to tell your friends about the book and where they can get a copy of it if you enjoyed it.

😉