Where does the publishing fraternity get their editors?

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… from a plethora of totally disenchanted, bitter and twisted former writers with no staying power!!!

Sooner or later once published, every writer will automatically become the target of hate and envy. Both traits manifest themselves in one, two and some three star reviews. Usually they are written by Trolls lurking among the general public, some are written by deeply envious writers. Both types usually hide behind pseudonyms.

What the latter of the two groups conveniently forget is that the writing community is a small place. Sooner or later one or other of us will recognise a particular miscreant by his, or her, unique scathing attacks. This is the moment when it is incumbent upon us to expose them to the rest of our community!

I won’t mention any names here – many of you will already know who I’m talking about,  but a few months ago I managed to dissuade a fellow writer living in South Eastern Europe, who I considered to be a friend at the time from posting his review for my extremely short historical novella Autumn 1066 earlier this year. Given that he rubbished one of my other books, based on one particular descriptive scene in it, I should have refrained from asking him to read and review another one of mine! But, I only ever see the good in others. A weakness on my part…

Why he said what he did I can only put down to envy or a brain storm. As I still follow him on Facebook, even if we don’t talk anymore, I noted recently that he had been offered the senior editor’s position for a publisher in his own country. In my experience it’s always better to keep an eye on this kind of individual, or to put it another way – forewarned is forearmed! Here’s hoping that from now on he will put his mind to doing good. If he trashes every manuscript crossing his desk, I can’t see him holding onto the position for very long.

It’s not exactly rocket science folks – If you have nothing good to say about any given work of literature – say nothing! Better that than announcing to the world that you are a fool!!!

It’s December 24th. A time of peace and goodwill, even towards individuals like him.

Καλά Χριστούγεννα 

😉

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A Christmas Wish is Finally Fullfilled

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After I first read about the original sets of Ivory chess pieces found in the vicinity of Uig on the Isle of Lewis sometime around 1831, I’ve lusted after a full-sized set of my own. 

With the worldwide ban on collecting Ivory thanks to the CITES convention, the only sets available are made from resin like mine pictured above, or maybe cattle bone. Although I’ve yet to hear of any in the latter medium…

The main difference between this set and others is that the pawns look like grave markers and the queen is decidedly masculine. The pieces are massive in comparison to traditional chess sets. Take the King for instance. He measures in at 2 inches wide by 1and a 1/4 inches deep by 3 and a 1/2 inches tall. As a consequence I’ve had to order a much bigger chess board – 19″ made from Mahogany and Sycamore to accommodate them. It’s scheduled to arrive later today (Friday 22nd December 2017).

To be any good at chess you need to have a tactical mind, something I’ve never had. Which is probably why I’m so hopeless at the game. Years ago I taught my mother all of the moves. Never once did I win against her. She was ruthless. She never went easy on me. Had she lived I suspect she would have reduced the Chess Grand Master Garry Kasperov to tears. Having said all that, it doesn’t really matter, I still love the game and my new replica Isle of Lewis chess set.

Writing this brought back a childhood memory. I forget how old I was at the time (probably eight or nine), but I do remember stealing a brand new stick of white chalk from the teacher’s desk. Thankfully I got it back home in one piece. For several nights using a modelling knife I slowly transformed it into a Viking warrior, complete with his axe and shield. I was so proud of it, even if it didn’t last long. From memory his head fell off…

Merry Christmas from this old scribbler, and a happy New Year to you all.

😉

I’m starting my latest research project, with maybe a book in mind…

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Dagobert the 1st

I’ve long held a fascination with the Merovingian dynasty. From Clovis the first king of the Franks (466-511AD) onward, they became some of the most powerful rulers in Europe.

At the moment I’m in the process of re-reading The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail (Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln). This was the first book that made me curious about them and the claims that they were part of the alleged royal bloodline that supposedly started when Mary Magdalene bore the Palestinian jew, Jeshua Ben Joseph’s child. Think san graal, meaning “royal blood” in Dan Brown’s brilliant story The Da Vinci Code.

What the vatican’s reaction was back in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries, I’ve yet to find out. Bouts of apoplexy at the very least I should have thought. Even if the idea of the san graal is not true, does it really matter? The religious among you would have to agree, it makes one hell of an intriguing story…

Whether or not I turn the results of my current research project into a book of some kind, only time will tell…

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This book is just one of many in my library that speak of the Merovingians. All I’ve got do now is to psych myself into what will be a lot of re-reading and cross-referencing over the next several months…

Wise words from one of my literary heroes

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Vain, selfish and lazy? Those sentiments Eric Blair aka George Orwell stated still apply for some within the writing community. Fortunately most writers I know are none of those things. These days the only people you will come across like that are certain editors and literary agents as well as some writers and literary critics. The latter category, especially the odd one or two who write for newspapers and literary magazines here in the UK, can definitely be said to be vain and selfish. To those two unsavoury qualities I would add a few others – condescending, snobbish, scathing and vicious, particularly when it comes to one leading newspaper’s literary critic and his deep loathing of Indies. Compared to him, internet trolls are rank amateurs.

As for the rest of what Eric is quoted as saying – writing is a long exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness, he’s perfectly correct. It still is. With a few exceptions, I seriously doubt that anyone who reads books has the faintest notion of what we go through when writing one. Blair was also right when he said that – one would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist, nor understand.

In my own case, what drives me to write is not so much a demon as the burning desire to share a story with you the reader. So the next time you read any book, whether you liked it or not, ask yourself what kind of hell did the author of this book put themselves through when he or she wrote this? How many sleepless nights did they suffer to bring the story to me? How many times were they afflicted with the one problem all writers suffer from time to time – writer’s block?

As if all of that wasn’t enough for the writer to contend with, there are the endless attacks by internet trolls, once published. In some cases they are actually disgruntled fellow writers who are seriously annoyed that people buy, like, and praise your work while shunning their own. As writers we all know at least one of these often angry individuals.

Some trolls are nothing more than malicious individuals hiding behind pseudonyms, thriving on hate while hoping that you will react, judging by their often incomprehensible one star reviews.

Do I still want to write? Hell yes, even though it often drives me to distraction. Once you have been bitten by the writing bug, everything else in your life apart from writing posts like this, and chatting to readers, writers and friends on Facebook, rapidly vanishes into the distance.

You heard it here first folks. It helps if you are completely bonkers with a masochistic streak when it comes to writing.

😉

Pseudo-experts and other lunatics

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Here’s another post about some of the sharks waiting to pounce on the unwary writer…

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As a published writer, sooner or later you will encounter one or more of the following!

Once you have published a book or books, it is inevitable that you will attract the attention of individuals with a doctorate obtained via the internet specializing in incomprehensibly stupid!

The day when Amazon opened the can of worms by giving everyone and their dog the privilege of being able to offer their opinion on your work on their sites worldwide, was the day the age of the internet troll and other non-entities was born.

Today, not only Indie writers, but also traditionally published ones find themselves on the receiving end of what can only be described as complete hokum by pseudo-experts. For the latter its bad enough that their editors are imposing their often misguided personal opinions on how a book should be written, often to the detriment of the story, instead of sticking to correcting grammar and punctuation. But now all writers are endlessly being bombarded by totally baffling comments by some other published writers, who quite frankly should know better than to openly criticise someone elses work in public.

What you and they have to realise is that they are expert in only one thing – destroying their own reputation just for the sake of pouring scorn on a fellow writer’s work. Not everyone can write a story worthy of being read, let alone be published. Which is why so many who entertained the idea of fame and fortune by writing the definitive novel of the age fail and soon resurface as literary experts and critics. Or worse, offer their services as editors, always for a fee of course!!!

What none of them are willing to accept is that first of all your story is yours not theirs. Secondly, who better than you to know its ins and outs, plot and counter plot?

If you are lucky, people will find it among the millions of books on offer and read it. Some will like it. Others not, so they do their damnedest to convince the public to stay away, which begs the question why? In the case of failed writers, it has to be that they are quite literally green with envy. More than likely, they’re angry that they didn’t come up with the best seller first. What other reason could there possibly be for all the bile and invective showered on successful writers that we see on most social media sites on a daily basis?

What about what the literary snobs, pedants, anal retentives, pretentious poseurs, grammar nazis and other self-important armchair critics who inhabit the internet these days say? If you will take some advice from an old campaigner – JUST LIKE THE TROLLS, IGNORE THEM ALL LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

Having read this, you will now know that I have zero tolerance for any of the above types. Guess what, neither have any of my published writing colleagues either…

😉

My message may be unpalatable to some…

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…certain individuals don’t like plain speaking, preferring to bury their heads in the sand.

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One current ugly stumbling block for all writers these days to be ignored at all costs is the average inbred moron seated at his/her computer who deludes him/herself into believing that what he/she says on a public book based forum, actually matters. His/her kind set themselves up as self-styled critics, typically wittering on endlessly about subjects such as non-American spelling and grammar in books written by anyone living beyond the borders of the US for instance. Thereby clearly demonstrating their ignorance of the English language to the world at large. The aforementioned description while general, nevertheless fits the individuals currently responsible for the majority of one, two and three star reviews for any book you care to name on Amazon, to the detriment of the genuine reviewer.

Not one of them has ever written a book in their entire lives, let alone had one published, and yet they feel it is their bounden duty to harshly criticise, especially when it comes to newbies, no matter whether or not they are self-publishers or mainstream. There are also a few unscrupulous individuals who see absolutely nothing wrong in adding a link to their review of your book, to advertise their own efforts – extremely bad form!

Like most writers these days, I simply fail to understand why Amazon seemingly encourages and condones what amounts to nothing more than often vicious attacks. As a writer, for the sake of your sanity take my advice and never read the reviews. Above all refrain from entering the forums, no matter how indignant you may feel.

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As a successful writer I see far more pressing issues in a lot of what today’s eBooks have to offer. The main one often being the new writer’s poor choice of genre. A lot simply jump on the bandwagon hoping to cash in on what is portrayed as popular by various advertising campaigns by publishers and so-called professional editors and book touts, such as the current trend in nauseating vampire and zombie based stories and what can only be described as badly written pornography (think Fifty Shades of Grey). While it is true to say that largely these genres appeal to the uneducated, those who write more thought provoking novels are left by the wayside, struggling to survive.

Some writers become convinced that niche markets is the way to go, which in reality means the product of their efforts will barely sell in the dozens rather than the thousands.

Face it people, the only book that will sell in its thousands is the one whose subject matter initially provokes curiosity in the mind of the often fickle reader. A growing number of writers cling desperately to the belief that by writing in a largely unpopular genre, the product of their toil will be noticed. How many times recently have I seen writers desperate to sell their wares, spend money time and effort to change a cover for instance and to produce actual paperback copies, which they then hawk around the many small time book fairs, largely at their own expense? In the end none of the aforesaid will make a damned bit of difference if your favourite genre is currently out of fashion. To my mind this kind of thinking is nothing more than an example of self induced vanity press. In other words spending money you can ill afford.

Just remember this – if you have to shell out good money after bad to get your manuscript edited by a so-called professional, you have to recover that cost as well as the cost of the cover and printing before you are in profit – something which a lot of modern day writers ignore at their peril… Remember this – if a book fails to sell in the traditional publishing world it is remaindered (pulped) and a line is drawn under your name with the words DO NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING FURTHER FROM THIS AUTHOR! Traditional publishing hates loosing money. So should you!!!

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Next comes the biggest stumbling block for a lot of writers – editing and proof reading. Many pay someone to edit for them. However, using the ‘look inside’ feature available on Amazon, it would appear that many mainstream editors let alone self-published writers simply fail to use a Spell checker, common to all writing software packages. The same goes for the humble Grammar checker – patently ignored by the majority. How many even use the Look up or Synonym features, accessed simply by right clicking over a word? Not many it would appear…

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We now arrive at colloquial language and writing in the first person. Many fall into the trap of using colloquial language when two characters are conversing within the context of a story – bad idea! The other big no-no is to write in the first person. It is not easy to do. The use of first person is chock full of pitfalls for the unsuspecting. Avoid using it if you can. Loathsome as it may be, even third person is preferable.

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Finally remember this simple fact – the product of all your hard work is just one among millions currently available. If its content doesn’t stand out, especially these days where people prefer to wait until you buckle and offer it for free, (even then there is no guarantee it will be read) it is destined to sit in the literary equivalent of the doldrums for ever more. No amount of cover changes, giveaways and signed copies in an internet contest will increase its chances of becoming a best seller one iota…

Just imagine, you have all of the above to look forward to. Do you still want to publish that book?

😉

Crawling backwards and other things…

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A typical priest hole

The following is drawn from what I was told by my grandmothers, my three aunts and my mother at various times…

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When I was born on the eighth of March 1948, my parents had a jet black Cocker Spaniel barely out of puppy-hood named Rex.

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From what mum told me Rex decided I was his responsibility. I remember seeing a black and white photo taken on dad’s Box Brownie showing me in my pram with Rex laying on top of my legs. Whenever I was on the ground, unlike most babies I crawled backwards everywhere. Better to bump into things with your bottom swathed in nappies than to bump your head. Well that’s my explanation for the way I crawled – so there! 😉

But there were times when even Rex couldn’t keep his eyes on me all the time. Apparently one day I disappeared. Mum panicked and sent one of the farm workers to get dad. Between them they searched for my throughout the house. Finding no sign of me they then went out into the back garden. During summer, mum would put me in my pram in the shade of the Oak tree in the center of the lawn. This time however apparently I had crawled out into the back garden through the opened french windows in the living room. At the bottom of the garden was a very deep pond.

Yes, you guessed it. I had crawled backwards towards the pond. When mum, Rex and dad found me I was suspended by the heel of my left thumb on one barb of the barbed wire fence at the top of the pond’s steep bank. According to what I was told I wasn’t crying. Nor was I wriggling. If it hadn’t been for the barbed wire arresting me I wouldn’t be here today! I still have the tiny arrow-head shaped scar to this day.

The next time I went missing has to do with a very small priest hole entered from the top of the stairs. The priest hole was situated beneath the stairs themselves. To one side of the stairs was my slide. It was the wooden roof of the priest hole. From about three until I turned nine or ten I loved to slide down it. Anyway, back to how Rex found me. I think I was about four or five at the time, I can’t be certain as it was such a long time ago now. I had been playing with some of my Dinky toys on the landing at the top of the stairs. It was while running them across the landing that one of them hit the skirting board in a particular place.

Before me was a partial opening in the old house’s internal wall. You guessed it, I just had to explore. So in I went. Unfortunately for me the door shut behind me, leaving me in the dark somewhere behind and below the stairs. Once again Rex, mum and dad soon missed me. According to dad, Rex spent ages going up and down the stairs, in and out of my bedroom looking for me. Then he started sniffing at the hidden door, scratching at the skirting board until he managed to open it, much to my parent’s great surprise. According to mum, when dad squeezed himself inside he found me at the bottom fast asleep. Even the farm’s owner Mrs Mather knew nothing of the priest-hole when dad told her about it! Thank goodness for barbed wire and Rex’s nose!!!

PS – Rex and I went everywhere together on the farm for several years before he sadly died long before his time after contracting distemper. Every young child needs a four-legged best friend and protector like I had way back then…

😉

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