Criticism versus Reviews

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What any writer dreads the most are attacks by members of the public, often with an axe to grind…

In days gone by every writer knew that the only individuals who offered opinions about their work were journalists working for leading newspapers, in the guise of literary critics. Back then they encapsulated the essence of a new work of fiction in one line of carefully chosen words taken from the text in question. Never once did their newspaper’s editor allow them to speak harshly against a given work. Instead, they chose to beguile future readers with the use of a single sentence from the book in question as an enticement like the following:

“A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

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Sadly those days are no more. Today, every reader has the freedom to criticise by writing whatever they believe is a review, knowing that they can get away with blue murder, then posting it on book sites such as Amazon. Most are not true reviews at all. Instead what you will see are endless examples of critiques, or far worse! The vast majority believe it is their god given right to tear apart any and every book, in particular ebooks by both traditional and indie authors.

It isn’t! All you are doing is showing your ignorance to the world at large. Some, not all, make it their business to harangue the author of the work they have just written about. A small number will insist that they could have made a far better job of writing the story!

To all of them I ask this – how many of them have ever written anything longer than their own signature I wonder? Have any of them ever had a book published? How would they feel if the boot was on the other foot? Would they feel outraged about the product of all their hard work being considered rubbish by hateful individuals? These people who go on the offensive are too cowardly to use their own name, preferring instead to remain anonymous by hiding behind a pseudonym.

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Always be careful on social media…

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A couple of days ago someone pretending to be the well known American movie star Scarlett Johansson who I consider to be an absolute stunner, befriended me on Facebook. The alarm bells should have immediately sounded. But for a few minutes they didn’t, because I was still half asleep and I admit that I was initially flattered, not to say puzzled. Although why a beautiful young woman like Scarlett who doesn’t know me from Adam should want to send a friend request to a man in his sixty-ninth year bothered me?

Within a half hour all became clear. I was dealing with a money scammer hiding behind Scarlett’s full married name. I kept them talking for a while before giving them a piece of my mind in the form of a few choice words – mainly expletives! What was the reaction? They disappeared like a rat up a drain pipe.

It turns out that at least two of my male friends of a similar age, one two months older than me, the other a few years younger were also targeted by exactly the same scammer. Fortunately for them, unlike stupid me, they were both wide awake and didn’t rise to the bait.

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The real Scarlett

I know, I know – there is no fool like an old fool. But I can dream can’t I?

PS – it’s not just scammers that are on the hunt on Facebook. For instance, don’t take sponsored adverts at face value. Currently there is one appearing with the English actor Ian McShane’s picture on it about his death. DO NOT CLICK ON IT LIKE I DID. MY LAPTOP LOCKED UP AND A PHISHING PROGRAM DISGUISED AS A WINDOWS ALERT BEGAN TRYING TO COLLECT ALL OF MY COMPUTER’S PASSWORDS ETC. FORTUNATELY I KNEW HOW TO STOP IT. MANY DON’T..

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Pseudo-experts and other lunatics

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

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Once you have published a book or books, it is inevitable that you will attract the attention of individuals with a doctorate in incomprehensibly stupid! 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 pseudo-expertise. 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 colleagues 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 are willing to accept is that first of all your story is yours not theirs. Secondly, who better than you knows its ins and outs, plot and counter plot?

If you are lucky, people 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 their green with envy. Or more than likely, they’re angry that they didn’t come up with it first. What other reason(s) could there possibly be?

What about the literary snobs, pedants, anal retentives, pretentious poseurs, grammar nazis and other self-important armchair critics who inhabit the internet these days? If you will take some advice from an old campaigner – 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. Guess what, neither have any of my published writing colleagues either…

Happy New Year.

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A rewrite is underway

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When I wrote and published The Seventh Age back in 2012, my thinking at the time was to get it out as quickly as possible before the winter solstice in that year, mistakes and all. Why? To appeal to those who firmly believed the Mayan calendar predictions that the world would end on December 21st of that year. Obviously it didn’t happen, but the book enjoyed a lot of success, selling in excess of a quarter of a million copies.

Now, having finally got round to re-reading it four years on, its time to produce a second edition, correcting the spelling errors as well as adding the few words missing throughout the story, principally to get the damned grammar nazis and assorted idiots of my back! Let’s face it, by not editing I gave them what they wanted. Unless they can tear a book apart, they’re not happy. And yet what really galls them to this day is that a book written by an Indie author became an overnight best seller despite the editing errors and their worst efforts.

So, this morning I’ve already begun while the rest of the world was still asleep. I’ll keep you updated with its progress. Meantime here is a direct quote from the original regarding the love affair between the two main characters Ithis, a crypto terrestrial and the archaeologist, Dr Nick Palmer at a critical juncture in the story:

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My heroine Ithis

From now on at night while he slept, Ithis entered his mind tenderly making gentle love to his soul, taking him beyond the normal wonderful sensations of lovemaking, ever mindful that she must not make actual physical contact – at least not just yet…’

PS – will it have a new cover? I have no plans to replace the original as it shows what the book is all about – time.

More later

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Why Did He Do It? What possessed him?

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Do you remember the positive review for my best seller The Seventh Age?

Stand by to be flabbergasted! I draw your attention to the hate and vitriol that its sequel received from one individual in his one star rant. You can fully expect the same kind of vicious attack if any book you write becomes popular on Amazon. Before you ask, Angus is a pseudonym for a self styled reviewer in the US. God only knows why he launched into his tirade:

1.0 out of 5 stars An unfortunate waste of time, November 7, 2013
By
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Forgotten Age (Kindle Edition)

I really wish to forget this unfortunate book because it is forcing me to violate my rules regarding book reviews but I am angry. I do not generally do negative reviews. If a book is going poorly, the story doesn’t grab me or the genre is not my normal flavor and not changing my mind by fifty percent completed then I bail and give it the review of silence. This aberration drew me in past the fifty percent mark even through the poor editing and character development so here goes.

The Forgotten Age is a novella trying to paint a story of a pre-Pharonic civilization in Egypt using a protagonist who is supposed to be a modern English (pun-intended) Indiana Jones with all of his compatriots being Ukrainian mafia and corrupt Egyptian bureaucrats. Oops, can’t forget the clever American sidekick who has some unexplained religious beliefs that must come into conflict with the protagonist’s mystery solving because…it just does.

List of crap:
1) Do not build paragraphs by pairing three or more sentences saying exactly the same thing. Paragraphs have a point and supporting sentences, and yes there is a difference.

2) It is a bad idea to bombard the reader suddenly with hyped up drama where there has been no build up of conflict.

3) Point of view issues can be catalogued using this one work. Narrator dumps are an extremely poor method of telling fiction. Moving on.

4) Time scale within this story is so skewed you would have the reader believe the group of explorers spent almost a year under Ghiza with just the supplies they had carried on their backs.

Lastly do not try to suspend the disbelief of the reader so that in their struggle to reach the end of your…thing…they are rewarded by you pulling the ripcord and sealing (not ceiling) in the protagonists and all of his lemming helpers for the remainder of eternity just because your brain went on vacation. Was that sentence long enough to make it onto your radar?

The Forgotten Age will not be receiving any of my usual promo. I intend to post this on my blog, Facebook, Google+, Amazon and Goodreads as a warning buoy. ‘Beware, someone soiled themselves here.’ Now you know why I have my rules of review. I don’t like doing this. Enjoy.

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Besides ‘Angus’ there was one other individual that had the temerity to suggest that because the story is based in Egypt, and one or two of the baddies in the story were locals, that by his thinking I denigrated all Arabs. Rational human beings who have read it know that is not the case.
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Now for a few of those who actually liked it including the best selling author Robert Bauval:
on November 20, 2012
“Jack Eason is a master storyteller of this historic-cum-science fiction genre. His latest book Forgotten Age is a riveting page-turner tale..read it!” Robert Bauval, author of The Orion Mystery
on November 28, 2012
The Forgotten Age I don’t often give out five stars on a review but Jack Eason’s The Forgotten Age deserves all five. This book that follows on from The Seventh Age, enthralled me from Prologue to Epilogue and all chapters between. I have to declare an interest here, as I’ve always been fascinated with Egyptology and archaeology so it was no hardship for me to read this new Nick Palmer adventure that kept rolling along like a runaway roller coaster – and with such credible characters for first-rate company along the way. I can say definitely worth adding to your wish list or better still buy it today.
on July 30, 2013
I started with this book, not the ones that came before. I am not a scifi reader, so I was amazed at this books ability to keep me up all night. This book focused on the action and characters. Well written and just wonderful. I liked the interaction and even though it did not have the depth of the other historical fiction books I usually read, I liked this book. I hope to get the next one and am interested to find out if and how this author brings the library “out” to the rest of the world. It is interesting to me that this story makes the premise that our history – world view has been the product of the few as opposed to what has really been found in archeology.
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So there you have it. Welcome to the world of modern day literature. In the meantime I invite you all to make up your own minds by reading your own copy.
The Forgotten Age – Amazon.com
The Forgotten Age – Amazon.co.uk

Is it just me…

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Is it just me or have the rest of you noticed the disturbing increase in the number of thoroughly nasty individuals appearing on all social media sites lately?

If like myself you have the effrontary to raise your head above the parapet, by that I mean, advertise the fact that you are an active writer, by advertising your work or even supplying the link to blog posts like this one on any social media site, inevitably you will be attacked by someone who simply loves to hate. Sounds completely crazy I know, but we’re not talking about normal people here, instead I refer to the totally unhinged, common or garden, lesser spotted internet troll.

These days as a writer you fully expect it to happen sooner or later whenever a book you have written is published, especially by those who make it their personal business to pounce and attack from the shadows on major book sites such as Amazon or Goodreads.

Bizarrely, if you are not being publically derided by people like them, it usually means that your book isn’t being bought. Once the trolls find you, never ever enter into dialogue with any of them, no matter how sorely tempted you are. Just ignore the crettins! The thing to remember with trolls is that were you to physically confront them in the street, they would soon slink away, because without exception they are all cowards.

Occasionally one seemingly normal individual will appear, wanting to befriend you by employing the ruse that you share internet friends in common on a major social media site like Facebook. Normally those I keep in constant contact with on a daily basis, apart from my close personal friends and my distant cousins, are fellow writers. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been forced to ‘unfriend’ a non writer, the minute they show their true colours by making the mistake of either attacking me, or far worse in my eyes, attacking one of my writing colleagues. I had to unfriend someone recently, when the person concerned turned on me totally out of the blue while we were ‘chatting’. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have absolutely no time whatsoever for nasty individuals like that.

Recently a few cretins, (sadly one of their number is known to me) have begun attacking a lovely lady and fellow writer I’m proud to call my friend on Facebook. As a successful writer, I feel it is incumbent upon me to stand up for her and all of my fellow writers when they are being publically attacked on social media, even though many of my colleagues won’t, for fear of being targeted themselves.

So my message to all of you is to be extremely wary when someone wants to befriend you from now on. This is the latest tactic being employed by the Internet Troll – first befriend, then destroy!!! If you are the least bit unsure about it, either decline the request, or failing that, ask the friends you supposedly share in common about them first. If they are the least bit concerned, don’t befriend the individual. Better safe than sorry. It’s that simple. In the past I’ve always tended to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone who wants to add me to their number of internet friends. No more!

Meantime, I invite you all to voice your views on the subject by leaving a comment below this post.

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A Couple Of Problems With Social Media Sites That Need Addressing

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Ever noticed how when setting yourselves up on any Social Media site, how they all appear to be blighted by exactly the same problems? Crass stupidity seems to be the order of the day, or could that be just sheer ignorance on the part of those responsible for the sites?

For example, take the field to be filled in re your current work status in the section where your personal details are held. If you are retired, as I am, no Social Media site appears to be able to comprehend the fact that you are no longer part of the workforce. Facebook is a glaring example of what I’m talking about. When I retired almost two years ago, I changed the information to simply read retired. Job done, or so I thought. But no. According to Facebook I now ‘work’ at retired. Duh! No I don’t! What part of the fact that I am retired are you dipsticks unable to grasp?

The same stupidity applies when it comes to your educational status. Why do any of the Social Media sites automatically assume that everyone must have gone to university? Could it be because they were set up by young graduate American entrepreneurs, with no awareness of how people in the real word actually exist?

While it may be the case for a large percentage of today’s generation like them, for people my age and older, most left high school and went into the workforce, or into the armed forces as I did. Very few ever got the chance to do a degree. Most didn’t even want to. Back when I was at school we were ‘streamed’. The few academically bright ones were either groomed for University or Teachers College, while the rest of us were directed elsewhere. Most either entered a trade learning on the job (apprenticeship), or became part of the general workforce, where you were expected to turn your hand to everything and anything, unlike today when you need to have served an apprenticeship (they call it an inhouse degree for some weird reason), to even make and serve a cup of coffee in a certain well known American coffee chain. Perhaps the management think that a degree in coffee making is far more prestigious, who knows. Either way its still learning on the job.

Linkedin is another classic example of a Social Media site suffering from this shared insanity. According to them, I’m retired at retired, whatever that means. Even after I entered the fact in their system, for some strange reason, probably something to do with my full to bursting ‘Skills’ page where other people tell the world what you are good at, they keep on suggesting job offers which they think I may be suited too!

Once again – no, I’m retired you idiots. Get over it! I worked full time for forty years from my fifteenth year until the end of 2003, when at fifty-five, I experienced a total mental breakdown, brought on by stress in the workplace, rendering me unemployable. From then until my sixty-fifth birthday, I existed (barely) on a mental health benefit.

When someone updates their personal information, especially regarding their work status, to read retired, we are not working at retired, nor are we retired at retired. We’re just retired, no longer working, no longer commuting, no longer part of the rat race. We’ve done our bit, paid income tax, worked for various businesses and other employers. We have earned the right to be retired and to finally do what we want, not what an employer demands we do for an often paltry weekly wage. What part of any of that don’t the idiotic dipsticks in charge of Social Media sites seem to be able to fully appreciate?

Rant over…

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