It Helps If You Are Completely Bonkers

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Vain, selfish and lazy? Speak for yourself Eric Blair aka George Orwell. 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 professional 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 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 on a fairly frequent basis – 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. In some cases they are actually disgruntled fellow writers who are seriously annoyed that people buy, like, and praise your work while shunning theirs. 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 for a living? 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 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.

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A Case of Blatant Pretentiousness? Sadly Yes.

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Pretentious adj. attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

***

Why do some people insist on adding the word author to their name on Social Media sites like Facebook? For the greater majority of these people, if you Google them, or type their names on Amazon or any other book site, you will find that very few have actually published anything!

Maybe it helps to boost their flagging ego somehow. Perhaps they delude themselves in believing that it will impress their friends, or somehow elevate their place in society. Sorry people, all it does is confirm the suspicions of everyone who knows you personally, that you are nothing more than just another poser.

So, posers please take note – the only time the word author comes into play, is when a writer is referred to as the author of a specific book. You do not author a book, you write one!

Genuine published writers do not adopt such nonsensicle tactics. You will find that most of us just use our given names. Attributing the epithet author, or even novelist, is for others to use when referring to a writer, not for you or I to assume as some kind of title.

Despite the fact that with a few judicious inquiries, the lie these people are living will be easily exposed, they still persist in referring to themselves as Author Joe Bloggs ,or Joe Bloggs, author. Why? What’s the point? Who do they think they are kidding?

When challenged, not only by me, but by others over recent years, a few of my FB aquaintances said that when they were first creating a profile on Facebook, when it came to filling in the various fields, without thinking they inserted ‘author’ instead of leaving that part of their profile blank, at the time seeing nothing wrong with using the word, being totally unaware of the subtle difference between both words, even though they refer to the same thing. None of my published writer friends, nor myself, have adopted either word as an epithet. Funny thing that, we don’t need to. Our work speaks for us…

Think about it? Does Wilbur Smith, J.K Rowling, Dan Brown or any other writer you care to name refer to themselves as ‘author’? No of course not!

So, if anyone reading this associates the word author in any way, shape or form with their name, believing that it is somehow prestigious, or perhaps means that they are a cut above hard working genuine published writers, think on!

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Cyber Bullying On GoodReads

It’s to be expected given that it is now wholly owned and controlled by Amazon, who allow cyber bullies to attack anyone and everyone who publishes books. A lot of rhetoric abounds from both sites about ridding themselves of the problem, and yet to date nothing positive has happened. While I’m all for freedom of speech, there are limits!

Cyber Bullying On GoodReads.

Creative writing courses are killing western literature, claims Nobel judge

I totally agree with what Horace says. How about you?

Creative writing courses are killing western literature, claims Nobel judge.

The Publishing Establishment’s Delusion | Just Publishing

Derek exposes the way the publishing establishment sees Indies

The Publishing Establishment’s Delusion | Just Publishing.

Remember That Words Are Our Craft

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As writers we are always on the lookout for those personality traits which each human being has within them when creating our characters.

To that end, besides acting as a means for our readers to get to know us, blogs are a positive gold mine, especially when certain commenters lose their composure, and drop their guard. Remember that words are our craft. What you say, or don’t say, how you react to a post, gives all of us useful information to draw upon. So don’t be surprised if one day when you are reading one of our books, that a particular character seems very familiar to you.

People simply can’t help themselves when any blogger writes a piece that they feel needs to be commented on. Some have extremely strong views on a specific subject. Others simply agree with what was said. Yesterday’s post on spamming and unsolicited book links in proposed comments certainly qualified. One or two of the commenters where forthright in their opinions.

Some hopefuls even attempted to chastise the blogger in question, taking offence at what was said, often resorting to foul languge. Needless to say, certain comments wind up in the bin, unpublished, having given us useful information for a particular type of future character, usually of the evil kind.  Still others tend to go off at a tangent, talking about something else entirely.

So, to all of you, bear in mind that once your comment has been approved by the blogger, literally everyone who reads the blog, and your comments, instantly forms their own opinion about you. In short, unless you are careful, you will expose your real selves to the world and everyone who reads a blog, intentionally or otherwise.

Having spent twenty-five years in a university in New Zealand, without exception every one of the academics I worked with gave me an endless supply of character traits, which I have used in two of my books. The same can be said for the people I met and served alongside in the military back in the nineteen-sixties. In their case I created military style characters for two of my science fiction novels.

Even talking to our friends give us useful character traits. So, if you don’t want to wind up in any writer’s next novel as a shady, or even a bad character, think long and hard before you loose all sense of decorum…

On second thoughts, don’t. We need you to lay yourselves wide open. Far too many books these days contain shallow uninteresting characters…

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Arrogance, Snobbery and Professionalism in the Writing World

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One of the comments in yesterday’s blog post Writers, Believe in Yourselves – Stand On Your Own Two Feet touched on the arrogance and downright snobbery rife within the editing and publishing communities. She quoted the following, which as writers we have all seen in various versions on writing sites and in literary magazines and newsletters over the years – “A writer who decides to be his/her own editor has a fool for a client. Only a professional editor can ensure that the indie author will produce something better than crap.”

She chooses to ignore the simple fact that there is no accrediting body for editors, so no editor can call themselves a professional!!! The problem is that all editors and literary agents delude themselves into believing that they are a cut above the very people who guarantee them employment – the humble writer, be they in one of the big five ‘stables’ or as in my case, a successful self published mid list author. How arrogant, let alone ungrateful, can a person be? Without us they would not make money! Here’s a question for you, how many editors and literary agents do you know who have produced a best selling novel of their own? I can’t think of one, can you?

Before you start, no I’m not being arrogant. I’m merely stating the facts. When it comes to professionalism, most writers who enjoy regular sales of their books can be considered to be professionals. Not that any of us do. At best we consider ourselves to be ‘seasoned’.

In the case of the editors, just because they attended a university somewhere, gaining a lowly BA in English Literature, they automatically assume that they now know far more about story telling and structure than the writer. Could it be that they are envious of the writer’s natural bent for story telling perhaps?

Without naming names, the chief editor and owner of the small press I made the mistake of signing up to several years ago, before I finally saw sense and parted company with him, is still a senior executive in a well known american computer company. Like most editors, he considers himself to be a professional. He is a ten a penny company executive. The one thing he defiitely is not, nor can he ever claim to be, is a professional editor!!!

Is it any wonder that so many hard working writers have had enough of the arrogance and the snobbery endemic within the establishment, choosing to leave the traditional publishing world to become an independent self- publisher?

I think not…

Writing a book?

Liz-S-Writing-Workshop-101Over the past couple of months on several Internet sites for writers, I’ve read many questions and queries plus suggestions and comments regarding the use of correct grammar and speech.

The academically minded among us, plus the vast majority of editors still cling desperately to the fervent belief that a book sans correct grammar will inevitably never make it. While that may be true for books of a historical, biographical or academic nature  – for example, text books, when it comes to fiction the real key is whether or not the writer can actually tell a story, not if he or she adheres to the accepted rules of English.

When your characters speak, by insisting that they speak correctly you will do yourself no favours. In fact these days it almost guarantees that your book will be lucky to sell more than a dozen copies. In essence, the story and the way your characters converse in common parlance is the key, not the use of perfect English as rigidly laid down by close-minded professors within the English departments of universities worldwide, or even the majority of editors come to that.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the comments in favour of correct grammar are contributed by people from countries whose native language is not English. It’s not their fault. They are merely echoing what they were taught by their teachers.

Think about today’s best selling writers. Do they stick rigidly to the rules of grammar? Most don’t. Gone are the days when the likes of Emile Bronte, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe etal wrote to entertain the educated elite minority. And yet they are still held up as the ideal in literature. Why?

Today’s writers must write for the majority. In fact you must know your target readers better than they do themselves. I write specifically for the US market for two reasons.

1. The greater majority are brought up on soap opera and film, not so-called classic literature.

2. Because they are more switched on than any other people, I also only publish my books in Kindle form.

Trust me when I tell you that they are my readers, not my own countrymen (the English) and academics. They will be yours as well if you are brave enough to break away from the so-called rules.

Writing this article is one example of using correct English. But if I had written my books in the same way, I would not now be enjoying my regular monthly royalty income from them.

If you feel strongly one way or another about the subject of correct English and grammar, don’t just read this article and tut-tut under your breath. I don’t bite. Be brave. Write your comments below.

 

Its time to wake up and smell the roses…

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I don’t know about you, but to my mind within the world of traditional literature there is an inordinate amount of pretentiousness and snobbery, traits which I cannot abide.  Without exception the gatekeepers employed by the major publishing houses, whose job it is to weed out the dross when it comes to prospective new manuscripts are guilty of both of these thoroughly undesirable failings.

Most within the traditional publishing world would have you believe that all independent writers are by definition talentless. Nothing could be further from the truth. While its true that thousands of prospective writers who currently independently publish via outlets like Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace and Smashwords (to name three options currently available) will never be able to produce a book that people other than their nearest and dearest will actually want to read, some of us are highly successful.

I look upon my time as a best selling independent writer, whose work is published exclusively as eBooks, as serving my apprenticeship in literature while at the same time being paid as a professional through the act of receiving regular monthly royalty payments. To back up my claim, the Oxford English Dictionary clearly defines the professional as one who is engaged in a specific activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.

So you see gatekeepers, some of us are professionals in every sense of the word despite your contention that people like myself are nothing more than mere wannabe’s. The fact that we prefer to publish independently is our prerogative. Several of us, myself included, left your world to become Indies purely because we were not prepared to doff our metaphoric caps in your presence, or be treated like low paid minions who should know their place within your writer stables any longer.

As for getting others to attempt to belittle and humiliate us by encouraging the bitter individuals that abound on internet book sites like Goodreads, most of whom tried their hand at writing and failed miserably for varying reasons, won’t necessarily put us off either. Most of us are made of far sterner stuff…

The time is long overdue for all conventional publishing houses to wake up and smell the roses if you want to survive. By insisting on blindly continuing to spend copious amounts of money on print runs, only to have them end up as pulp after they have been remaindered by the dwindling number of book shops through low sales, over the far cheaper and fastest growing area within literature today – the eBook, does you no favours whatsoever.

While it is true that many people still prefer to actually hold a physical book in their hands, millions of today’s readers do not. Accept the fact that the eBook is here to stay! If for no other reason, it never becomes dog-eared. It will never suffer the humiliation of its paper cousins by having the corners of its pages folded over, or have its spine broken by those individuals who fold a paperback.

The sooner you all accept that the Indie and the eBook is here to stay, the better.  Instead of vilifying us and the eBook you should be embracing both. Finally, if for no other reason than a purely financial one I would have thought that you would have adopted the eBook concept long ago, simply because the cost of producing it is negligible in comparison to a printed book …

One last thing – whenever I read or hear that someone hated a book because the author failed to go into great detail regarding, plot, characters etc, I tend to get extremely annoyed. Not with the author of the book, but with the reader. A great majority of today’s potential reading public blatently don’t understand the way a book is written. So, for their (your) benefit here is the gospel. A book never has to spell out every detail, merely drop hints, allowing your imagination free reign. If you need everything spelt out for you, forget about books and concentrate on television and film. Both mediums are designed for the brain dead!!!