Reviews are the way to an Author’s heart

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Generally speaking, when buying a book (I mean an actual physical book), once completed, I do not go in search of sites to leave reviews for it. Bearing in mind that my general ‘To read list’ consists of authors such as David Baldacci, Stephen King and James Patterson, It never really occurred to me that they would need little old me to leave them a review.

Since acquiring my tablet and getting better acquainted with my kindle app *Grr*, I have found myself reading novels from lesser known authors such as Deirdre Gould and Ryan Cassey. Granted, the lesser known authors populate a genre that the others do not, but I find myself feeling more compelled to leave reviews on Amazon, from which I downloaded them.

Now, I must admit that bar Stephen King, I am new to this Horror genre and have not yet explored the vast corners and works that it has to offer so my knowledge is limited. Maybe the author’s I mentioned are indeed bigger than I seem to think. I got me thinking though. Does the size of the Author’s brand influence you in your decision to leave reviews of their work? And if it does, should it?

I know that as I am a new writer, reviews could mean the difference between life and death for my much loved characters that I have spent countless hours getting to know and exploring. I will no doubt swing from the rafters and declare myself king of the world upon the receipt of my first positive review *Does a little dance*. But if I am not willing to spare a precious few minutes to leave a few kind words on someone else’s work, that they too spent countless hours over, what right do I have to expect the same from another.

Surely, the likes of Stephen King and David Baldacci did not just explode out of nowhere (although we know that the internet definitely a more integral part of the author process that it once was) and they too, must have been desperate for feedback from their peers and fans alike whether it be on the internet or via the hand written word. Even now, they may be repeatedly typing their novel names into Amazon just so that they can read what the general public thought of their hard work. I know I would. As much as we all write because we love it, surely there is a small part of us that also does it because we want to make people happy and give them an escape from their realities. Otherwise why would we bother publishing our works?

From now on, I am going to make a conscious effort to leave a review on every novel I read, be it from an unknown author or one of the all-time greats.

Every Author deserves feedback and I think knowing how much time goes into writing a novel, we owe them that much.

Interview with Author Lewis J. F Clarke

Lewis J F Clarke

Among many of my ever so talented friends, i have one who has managed to achieve 3 times what all of us aspiring author’s strive everyday to do once. Did i mention that has now done it 3 times?!

He has now self published, through Createspace, 3 novels out of around 7 that he has already written and all while travelling the world . I will add the links below for you to find them as i would recommend all of them.

Well without further adue, i would like to introduce to you, a very special friend of mine, Author Lewis J F Clarke.

Hi Lewis, What inspired you to write your first novel?

I never get tired of telling this story! About two years ago I was living in Thailand and decided to go back to England around November time. For some reason my boss back in Thailand sacked me and then re-hired me when I came back. However when I returned I hardly had any classes (I was teaching English out there) so one night I had a few drinks and when I got home I drunkenly said to myself “Sod it, I’m gonna write a book!” (as you do…) assuming that after two or three days I’d get bored of the idea. Three weeks in I realized that I was half way through and decided that I might as well finish it, and the rest is history…

How long did it take you from the first word to publishing?

I finished the first draft in six weeks. I then spent a couple of weeks not knowing what to do with it because admittedly I was too scared to let anyone read it in case it was terrible. I finally tentatively gave it to a friend of mine to read and she took a fair while to read it. In the meantime I actually wrote a second book! After she finished reading it and encouraged me to publish it I finally managed to get it on Amazon eight months after that day where I was off my face insisting that ‘anyone could write a book’…

The price of fame

Have you self-published or have you taken the traditional route?

I self-published. I got told by a blogger quite bluntly that ‘if you don’t have an English degree, you will never get published’. Me being the naïve and insecure person that I am I accepted this as fact and believed I would never be picked up by a publisher due to the fact I never went to university, and went down the self-publishing route. Of course, now I know he wasn’t a very good writer, and was trying to hold me back to stop surpassing what he had achieved, but in the end it had an adverse effect and spurred me on to prove him wrong.

Do you work with an editor or do you prefer to work alone?

I have various editors. I feel it’s very important to use editors as they are at the very least another pair of eyes to look at the book from another point of view and say, “Hold on, I think you need to change this because…” Also if you edit something yourself, you can edit it a hundred times and still miss out basic mistakes, because you are reading it in your head how it should be and could miss stupid mistakes. However when you use an editor it’s important to know that you don’t have to use their changes. There have been times where I have changed over 90% of the changes in a chapter because I didn’t feel like it was coming from me.

How did you find the process of self-publishing? (Was it daunting, was there enough information, is it an easy enough process?)

Daunting is definitely the right word to use; I was petrified of all the legal jargon that Amazon threw at me, but luckily a friend of mine (a very gifted writer by the name of Alec Hawkes) helped me through the process. Telling me to take my time and understand what was being asked of me. Now it’s easy. It’s like anything, once you’ve done it a few times you can do it in your sleep. But trust me, any first time authors, I feel your pain!

How would you describe your writing style? Are you a pantser or are you a planner?

I had to go online and find out what ‘pantser’ means. Although I took an educated guess and assumed it meant going with the flow. Yes, I’m definitely a pantser. I usually (but not always) have a spine for a story and I let my mind wander and branch off to come up with sub plots and plot twists. If I plan a book it tends to not come out naturally. I think of it like being a comedian; if you say the same joke over and over it’s not funny because you can tell it’s well-rehearsed. Whereas if it sounds natural and unplanned it’s much funnier. I do vaguely plan some complex scenes, but more often than not I let my fingers type and see where they take me…

What genre would you class your writing?

If I had to choose, I’d say they are psychological fiction. But my books range from horror to comedy to romance. I didn’t want to be the kind of writer who writes the same stuff over and over again but slightly changes the plot and the characters, so I took myself out of my comfort zone to see what I could come up with, and I must say I surprised myself.

Do you prefer to stick to one genre or are you happy to go wherever the ideas take you?

If I have a good idea for a book, then I’ll run with it and see if I can make it an interesting read. I have another six ideas for books at the moment. Some may be terrible, and others may be future bestsellers, but I’ll never know unless I attempt it…

The butterfly killings

Where does the inspiration for your novels come from?

I’m a classic over thinker. So I let my mind run away with itself and see what happens. I haven’t had a good idea for a book in over 5 months, however in a 2 month period last year I came up with 7 book ideas. It’s not really something you can sit down and say ‘OK, I’m going to come up with a book idea before lunchtime’, normally I randomly get an idea that I think to myself that psychologically I’d like to explore, and if it feels right when I’m about to start a book then that’s what I write about. In fact on more than one occasion I have changed my mind at the last minute what book I’m going to write because it simply ‘felt right’.

Are you inspired by any particular Author?

I’m not really a big reader to be honest. I know that sounds bizarre but the only books I tend to read are autobiographies, which I suppose is why the majority of my books are written in the first person.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

I read a book called ‘A Simple Plan’ by Scott Smith, and it was one of those books that once I finished a chapter I went to put it down before saying “go on then, one more chapter!” But like I said I’m not an avid reader. If you were to ask me about a film I would say ‘Fight Club’. Because it is one of those films that is so well written and has so much depth to it that you can watch it five times and still see something new and enjoy it just as much as you did the first time. That’s how I try to write my books. Whether I do or not is not for me to judge.

Do you have any advice for first time writers?

Just write. Fuck what everyone thinks and just write. Most successful writers nowadays appeal to the general public because they don’t write in a pretentious way, they write in a style that is easy for the average person to follow. I’m fortunate enough to have had many people come up to me and say that I’ve inspired them to write, and I’m happy, because the next generation needs something to read. I know one way I will be a successful writer so I have no need to hold people down like the guy I mentioned before who said I will never be published by a recognized publisher. I want to see talented writers shine through, but so many people are scared to take the first step out of fear of being ridiculed. I say those people are the people who should drive you to write that best seller even more.

Do you have any advice for first time self-publishers?

Like I said before, read all the legal jargon carefully. I know it’s overwhelming because most of us didn’t go to university to study law. So don’t be put off if you don’t understand any of it, you are not supposed to! Take your time and sometimes you may even have to leave it and attack it another day. It took me over a month before I felt confident enough to press the publish button, and even then I was convinced I’d missed something out!

How do you go about getting a cover designed?

I’m incredibly lucky, because my sister happens to be a world class artist. I know everyone is supposed to say how great their friends and family are at certain things but my sister is actually that good! So I contact her and tell her a vague idea of what I want, we talk about it for a while in-between chatting about what siblings usually talk about, then she goes off and creates three or four different covers and I tell her which one I like best, or if she could slightly change one of them. Normally though she is bang on.

What other platforms, apart from Facebook, do you use to stay in contact with your fans?

I have a blog (sirlewisofclarke.wordpress.com) that is predominantly about my books but also about my life on the road. I was in Thailand teaching English for a while but now I’m travelling back to England by land (and a couple of boats) so that attracts an audience I wouldn’t normally reach. Other than that I’m not very good at marketing, and most likely need to employ a marketing manager if I ever want my books to become common knowledge.

Finally, If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing that you know now, to your first time writer self, what would it be?

“Believe in yourself. You have a natural talent for this and you need to embrace it.”

I’m my own biggest critic which is good for writing because it helps me maintain a high standard, and when I write something that is simply not good enough I delete the whole thing. However this stops me from enjoying the writing process. I’m normally convinced the book I’m writing is terrible, and that ‘my last book was so much better’. Then when I start the next book I say the same thing. I would also say ignore the doubters and look for a publisher. I heard that J.K. Rowling got rejected sixteen times before someone took a punt on an obscure book known as ‘Harry Potter’ so don’t feel bad if one person closes the door on you.

Destiny

So there you have it, some very wise words from someone who has been there and done it.

If you would like to purchase any of his books, they are available on amazon and the link to each one can be found within the book cover image.

 

Book of the Week

stephen king, cell

Stephen King’s, Cell

After finishing one of the best books i have ever read, i thought that i would start a new feature, Book of the Week.

Having never read or watched anything ever written by the legend that is Stephen King, i thought i knew what his novels would be like. Im not a fan of horror as i suffered from night terrors as a child. Nothing could have prepared me for his Epic Thrillers. The writing style, the ease at which he narrates his story, transports you to his world at the blink of an eye.

I am by no means qualified to critique a legend such as King which is lucky because i do not have a bad word to say about it.

The blurb on the back cover reads…

” The event which properly civilisation into its second dark age is known as The Pulse. The virus is carried by every cellular phone operating in the world. Within hours, those receiving calls will be infected.

Clayton Riddle, a young artist, knows he has to reach his son before the young boy switches on his phone. And time is running out…”

The story begins with Clayton Riddle who has just finally succeeded in selling his graphic novel to a publishing house. He buys his estranged wife a present to celebrate and to try and start them off down the right path again. He is standing at an ice cream when The Pulse hits. In the first riots he befriends another non infected guy called Tom McCourt. They agree to stick together as far as they can and protect each other. They meet another non infected, this time a 16 year girl called Alice, before heading on the road back to Tom’s house to stock up and rest.

Those that have been infected are tearing around attacking each other and anyone that moves. They are talking gibberish, nothing slightly coherent. Their basic intellectual code has been over written by The Pulse. Their basic animal instincts have been brought back to the surface and replaced any sense of polite and ordinary standards that would be respectable in modern society.

As they make their way towards Clay’s wife’s house, they discover that the infected are starting to show signs of higher brain power. They can summon powers that the normal human cannot exhibit. They are confronted with the leader of the infected, Harvard Man, who harasses and terrorises them after they burned a flock of phoners.

I won’t spoil the ending but it is definitely one you want to read.

Based on this book i have become an avid fan of King and have began my collection of his work.

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone that will listen.

This, for me, is without a doubt one of the best books i’ve ever read.

Why not give it a go and let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

To write or Type, that is the question

Generally speaking I would consider myself a pen and paper kind of person. I detest the kindle (although I can see why people like them), I have a gargantuan stash of stationary including notepads, books and pens, and if I could bottle the smell of books and market it, I would be a billionaire. However, when it comes to actually writing my novel, I am stuck to my Mac like you wouldn’t believe.

I would love to be able to sit down and write an entire novel in a beautifully bound leather notebook, but there are many things that distract me from doing this. One of them is the state of my handwriting. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have lovely handwriting, but when it comes to keeping up with the words that eventually fall out of my hand onto the paper, it tends to get a little scruffy to say the least. Although there is something very beautiful and organic about writing your ideas and work in pen and ink, I think my perfectionism is getting the better of me once again.

Also, how do you keep up with the mass exodus of words that happen when you actually get those creative juices flowing? I mean, really, is it even possible? In an information age that we now live in, do we all not type faster that we can write? I am always worried that I will forget whatever nugget of gold that i just thought of, before I get a chance to record it.

When it comes to writing down raw ideas, I use a pen and my dedicated Novel Idea book. This I carry everywhere with me as you never know when genius is going to strike. Laptops are pretty tiny these days but they still aren’t as easy to use in public as a good old piece of paper and your favourite pen (And before you ask, yes I have a favourite pen.)

I always see pictures of notebooks filled with elegant writing and I think ‘why can’t my notebooks look like that when I’m in a rush’. Why can’t I be the type of writer to sit in a wine bar with a hearty glass of red while I scratch out the next bestselling novel with a beautiful fountain pen and notebook? Maybe it is a good thing that I have the best of both worlds. By day I work in Europe’s largest IT Company, by night I write my ideas in a note book and then type them out again on my Mac. Maybe I’m just stuck in between again.

Do you ever think that your brain functions differently dependant on the output of your efforts? Do writing in a notebook make you more educated and linguistic than tapping away at a computer? Are we barbaric for try taking the easy way out and typing instead of writing. I wonder what Shakespeare and Hemingway would have thought of the computer age.
We can only guess.

How do you prefer to write? Do you mix it up like me or are you one way or the other?

Happy Writing All 

B

Oh to be a Writer…. The weekly lowdown!

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So i wrote a post called ‘Oh to be a writer’, and after thinking on it, i decided to make it into a series. A series, in the sense that i will now write, every single day about my high’s, my low’s, my successes and my failures, in my pursuit of the day i can say that i finally finished my first novel.

Along the way, i will be pursuing other writing ventures including more short stories, hopefully some writing competitions and some writing tips i find along the way.

I may also publish my reading list as i have numerous books that i have collected over the last few months that i havent even attempted to open recently. Reading can only improve my writing and there is no point reading all of these advice books if am not going to do the most fundamentally important thing for a writer. READ.

So, you lucky lot get to see a lot more of me and my writing 🙂

Happy writing everyone!

B

Facebook Author Page

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Howdy All!

So as you have probably guessed, i like to call myself an Author. After much deliberation with my inner critic, i came to the conclusion that i should actually start sharing my work so that people actually believed me.

This is where you will find all of my ramblings and writing mumbo jumbo. I tend to write about my journey, finishing my debut novel (if i ever get there) and the odd short story i throw out to the masses.

If you are at a loss as what to do this fine evening, why not stop by my Facebook and Twitter pages and say hi!

I’d love to hear from all like minded peeps, maybe we can swap war stories 🙂

B B Lewis

Smooshy Brain today…

brain-fog

 

Today, my brain does not want to function at the same high level it did yesterday.

Yesterday, i managed to smash out over 3000 words which is pretty good for me but today, I’m seriously struggling to get that sort of momentum going again. So, because my mind was finding it so difficult to be creative, I decided to reread all that I have written so far to see if I could edit or tweek some bits.

Funnily enough, I have managed to spot some of my own plot holes and come up with a strategic plan to fix them. I have corrected any grammer or spelling mistakes and I have even found the need for a few new chapters in between pre-existing ones which should be pretty easy to write considering they are in the middle of things. This should tie it all together a bit better and give the characters and story more depth. It may even make it feel fuller and expand the world in which they live.

So the moral of this story is, even if you’re finding it difficult to write new material each day, maybe re-evaluate the material you have already written. You never know, you might find a few things that need fixings and it all contributes to the final word count and that elusive first completed draft.

Never a wasted day 🙂

Powering through…

books couch

 

Today I seem to be on a roll or sorts. I have managed to smash out 1500+ words and it is only 2pm. If only I could sustain this sort of momentum for the next week weeks, I could have the first draft finished by the end of the month 🙂

I’m finding that the more I write, the more the story plays out in my minds eye just begging to be recorded on paper. My word count is slowly creeping up and its not feeling like a chore. I know where I want to go with my story, its only a matter of time before I get there.

Kudos to me lol

Wishing you all the best of luck with your own writing projects. May this be a productive week for all!

Happy Monday!

NANOWRIMO – A NOVEL IN A MONTH

Keep calm and write 50k

So as most of you know, today was the start of NaNoWriMo!

This isn’t something that i have always wanted to do but never been actually got round to it. This month i was determined to join a cabin to reach my target of 50,000 words in the month of April.

Tonight i sat and forced myself through my writers block to finally get going on my long awaited, many times scraped, first ever novel. Well it won’t be a polished, ready for publishing, end product novel but it will be a massive chunk out of it. Plus maybe if i can stick with it for the entire month, it will put me in a good routine to power through the second 50,000 words to finally have a first draft in my hands. This is a day i have been waiting for for so long and I’m really excited to keep this going.

Tonight i managed to knock out an impressive (for me), credible daily word count of 1,755 words and i have even writing a quick note to kick start me into tomorrow’s writing sesh.

For all of you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, i wish you all the luck in the world.

Good luck and feel free to keep me updated on your progress or any speed bumps your hitting!

Happy Writing!

PROCRASTINATION IS THE DEVILS WORK

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So as some of you may know, i am currently working on my first novel and well lets just say that the first draft has been scrapped before i even progressed past chapter 8. That’s 8k words discarded and currently gathering dust in my hard drive. Now, before you all feel sorry for me, i have come to the conclusion that this is actually a good thing. Even though i had reached chapter 8, and 8k words, i suddenly became stuck like never before. I hadn’t really made a solid plan of the plot, although i knew my protagonist pretty well. This lead to me hitting a brick wall pretty early on. As i was free writing, i didn’t have a plan as such to refer back to and keep me on track, so i put it away for some time. In the meantime, i wasn’t a complete waste of space. I bought a few books on writing and how to improve my prose etc. It wasn’t that i was being lazy or anything but i couldn’t figure a way to move past the last chapter which then lead to the dreaded writer’s block. The funny thing is, all that reading i did actually did me some good. I suddenly got the bug for writing again, as i suddenly had a better starting place. I had set things in place so that i knew where i was going with my plot and also some of the finer details that i didn’t think about the first time round. This resulted in me scraping the entire first draft and the original plot. Unfinished.

I was sitting at work and all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, i had a bolt of inspiration and in ten minutes i managed to use some of the techniques in the books i had bought to completely re-write the entire plot for my novel. Now i feel more confident that i know where i am going but more importantly, i feel more confident that i can power through and make it through to then end of my first draft of my first ever novel.

Although, initially i was procrastinating, i used it as an educational period so that i wasn’t completely out of the writing loop. I would recommend home study for anyone that hasn’t got the time or means to attend writing classes. There are some fantastic books that can help you on your quest and should you get stuck, you always have them there to refer back to.

I am now 100% more happy with my direction and focus and who knows, maybe some time soon, i will have a first draft to brag about!

Happy Tuesday everyone! Happy Writing!