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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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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It’s inevitable whenever you publish…

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Hi kiddies, I’m back on the offensive once again.

The following is a classic example of what happens when a Troll goes on the attack by looking for the next title on their hate list:

The text does not flow. I was frequently jolted by missing punctuation and poor sentence structure.
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In this particular instance, the targeted book is my scifi love story:

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Céleste: Love, Hate, Revenge and Danger among the Stars.

And yet, despite the above pathetic attempt to rubbish the book by a specific troll living in Vermont, one Sligo McKluge, when he delivered his blatantly obvious attack, the book continues to receive nothing but praise by those who have actually bought and read it from the beginning to the end. Which begs the simple question – why the hell does Amazon still allow bitter and twisted morons like McKluge to comment in the first place?

Before the peace and brotherly love set jump in to defend him by preaching about the fundamental rights of the individual, insisting McKluge was merely exercising his/its/her/their right to express their personal opinion according to the section on the democratic right to freedom of speech in the first amendment of United States’ Constitution, I would remind you that like every other successfully published author of my acquaintance who are constantly targeted by total fwits like McKluge, I can tell you that that particular argument does not wash! It is nothing more or less than a load of old horse manure, especially when authors do not have the right to veto all one and two star reviews. Or better still, like Facebook, be allowed to block certain people from commenting, or in this instance reviewing!!!

PS – according to KDP, its being read in the US at the moment McKluge, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it!!!

Bah Bloody humbug

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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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What Not To Do

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I recently read something by someone who seems to have sold themselves out for the sake of their reputation as a reviewer. When I mentioned that to point up formatting issues, inferring that it only happened with ‘Indie’ books, was to say the least ‘extremely bad form’ not to mention incorrect, I qualified my statement by pointing out that even some mainstream published books contain errors. The person tried to justify their action by saying that the review site they contribute to expect errors to be pointed out! They went further by saying – “I also think that some critical observations are helpful to deter some readers who 1 star books on such minor issues.”

I could not disagree more! If anything, comments of this nature by those who believe they are doing all authors a favour, inevitably attract the wrong kind of attention to the book in question! The reviewer doesn’t care,  but the author most certainly does!!!

I would strongly urge anyone who is contemplating setting themselves up as a reviewer, to avoid such sites like the plague if you wish to be taken seriously by all writers, whether Indie or Traditional. Its bad enough that we are already subjected to these kinds of finger pointing ‘reviews’ by Amazon’s trolls.

It always saddens me when someone forgoes decency for personal ambition…

It’s Research Time Once Again

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)

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I’ve just finished editing my old mate Derek Haines’ dystopian WIP, at the moment entitled God’s Gone Fishing, yesterday (Friday 18th March). Now at last I can turn all of my attention to beginning my research into the man pictured above, starting today with Desmond Seward’s book, Caravaggio – A Passionate Life.

For a long time now, (decades in fact) I’ve wanted to write a fiction loosely based on his relatively short, often violent, life. For anyone who has absolutely no clue whatsoever about him, let me just say that as far as I’m concerned Caravaggio was one of the most brilliant artists of his age, when he wasn’t being accused of murdering someone, thanks to his fiery temperament. Or spending time under lock and key, as he did when he got into trouble on the fortress island of Malta.

Extensive research on my part is absolutely necessary to do justice to the story. I need to glean all the known facts and fallacies about Caravaggio for the crib sheets I will need for background detail.

Here are just two of the fifty original works (not including versions he painted) that quiet clearly demonstrate his talent to anyone with an appreciation for fine art at its zenith:

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The Calling of Saint Matthew

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Judith Beheading Holofernes

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it! Why? To keep the anal retentives and other asssorted tosspots out there from attacking the end product if I get anything factually incorrect.

To this day, they never let me forget for one moment that in my best seller back in 2012, The Seventh Age, I misspelt the name of Gobekli Tepe, a neolithic site still being excavated by archaeologists to this day in South Eastern Anatolia (Turkey). To hear them complain, anyone would think that the world had ended because of one honest spelling mistake on my part. Did I ever go back to correct it? Hell no. Never acknowledge any mistake you make on Amazon, unless you have a death wish!!!

See what all you aspiring writers out there have to look forward to… 😉

With all the months of reading/research ahead of me, I can’t see myself writing word one this year, let alone whether or not the end product will prove good enough to offer to one of the big five publishing houses. If it doesn’t come up to their exacting standards, I’ll simply publish it in Kindle form along with the ten other’s I’ve written so far…

PS – back in 2002 while on the one and only proper holiday I’ve ever had in my entire life, I actually climbed down a rickety ladder into the freezing cold underground cell Caravaggio was briefly incarcerated in on Malta.

PPS – for the less computer savvy among you, if you click on any highlighted (coloured) word on this or any other blog post of mine, you immediately gain access to pertinent information for each post. Just thought I’d mention it. One less than intelligent individual a long time ago asked me why some of the words in my posts are different colours. Needless to say they went away red faced. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand idiots…

The Modern Day Penny Dreadful

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While many authors and certainly the entire literary world turn up their noses at the phenomena of the eBook, there is no getting away from the fact that being able to buy a book cheaply, or more often than not these days, getting it for free to download to the ereader of your choice, resonates with the public at large, particularly in the United States. But if you expect to get your next read for $0.99 or less, don’t complain when the book that has taken your fancy is not a literary masterpiece.

Time and time again some authors together with assorted literary snobs, armchair critics and pedants, endlessly decry an eBook for its lack of literary quality. All too often they take great delight in pointing up any given eBook’s faults.

But does it really matter when it is free or priced so cheaply? The short answer is no. The vast majority of the reading public these days only care about whether or not the story appeals to them. They couldn’t care less about whether or not the author over uses the comma, or for that matter the colon or semi-colon, or which form of a particular word is used in any given circumstance. If asked about their views on the particular author’s use of the colon or sem-icolon, chances are they would think you were referring to a particular part of the anatomy rather than two types of punctuation mark. As for whether or not they considered that the author in question used far too much passive voice or descriptive prose…

Today’s eBook is the modern day equivalent of the Victorian Penny Dreadful. Rather than throwing any book written by myself which I consider to be sub-standard, into the corner, If its still a good story it ends up in the eBook market. Judging by the hundreds of thousands of copies of my eBooks out there, my storytelling appeals. In the end that is all that matters.

Yes, each and every eBook penned by myself automatically attracts the attention of the trolls. But so do eBooks by any author for that matter, Even best selling authors working through the big five publishing houses are not safe from scorn being poured on their eBooks by trolls. In that regard the literary world is a natural habitat for bitchy individuals jealous of the fact that our cheap books, yours and mine, are being read. To them I would only say this – FOR GOODNESS SAKE GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!

Meanwhile I’ll keep writing until I’m happy that the book I’m working on fulfills all the requirements necessary to make it worthy of the appelation ‘Literary Masterpiece’.

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