Writers’ Block – like Global Warming – An Excuse for Waffle Time

September 14, 2014 in Articles, Writing & Publishing

writers-block

Image courtesy of photoXpress.com

Ever heard of Talker’s Block. Always keen for fame, just by writing this I’ve copyrighted the phrase. But could such a thing exist? Yes – so I gather, but it’s invariably a medical condition prompted by either physical or mental trauma. So, pull yourself together, writers, and forget about writers’ block. If all you are doing is waiting for ‘spontaneous combustion’ in the form of great literature transferring itself effortlessly from your brain to the keyboard, think again. It’s not going to happen.

Think about it! Did Mr Hoover (the ‘keep carpets clean’ campaigner) come up with the idea for his vacuum cleaner ‘out of the blue’ – a notion that just flew in through the window one morning – and had he never previously entertained a thought about dust, brushes and machinery that could make his wife’s life easier. He was a doer as well as a thinker; a man constantly imagining how to improve machines and through them, make life better for us all. Not for him, countless hours sitting in front of a drawing board praying for inspiration. His mind was always full of projects. And so should yours be!

Of course there are days, and sometimes months, when writing is just not on the cards; not something that suits, for a variety of reasons. But this isn’t writers’ block, it’s the human condition that conspires occasionally to make us apathetic. In such times, it’s pointless to sit in front of a keyboard. In fact, I’d go further and say it borders on the insane. If ones’ mind and body are at a low ebb, what could possibly be worse than sitting before a blank screen awaiting salvation. Even idiots have more sense – and walk around talking to themselves. Perhaps that’s a better answer. At least some words are coming out. If you want to write and publish a book, you will, but first, release your mind and get on with something else, anything else, if you are currently going through a ‘can’t think of anything’ stage.

No – the solution to this ludicrous notion of writers’ block is to come at the problem from an oblique angle. Set yourself a task, or a series of tasks that will have the effect of releasing energy rather than damming it up. Take on physically draining tasks, even if it’s only cleaning the bath, and release your mind to think about themes you feel passionate about. Any theme, any passion. If you are down in the dumps you have to climb out of them – perhaps by kidding your brain that the worst is over, and soon you will be OK again. A clean and sparkling bath is a great improvement on a still-empty screen or blank sheet of paper. And while you are scrubbing away as though your life depends on it, let the mind wander abroad. It will. They always do.

I remember as a boy, riding to school on my bike, (yes – I’m that ancient) and passing an old horse that stood motionless in a paddock. Week after week I swear it never moved more than a foot from the spot. And it was getting progressively thinner and weaker, too, staring into the distance, taking nothing in. And yes, I’m afraid, there was no happy ending. It was seeing life out – literally – and one day all that remained was a bare patch in the middle of an otherwise fertile field. Don’t be a donkey – get on with life. A writer you will be, once your mind is released.

  Voice Of The Tiger – A Book Review by Samantha Ford

August 30, 2014 in Articles, Book Reviews

Samantha Ford Romance NovelistSamantha’s Review of the Voice of the Tiger

This delightful story is told against the backdrop of the lush jungles of the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. The authors knowledge of the ways of the aboriginal people is particularly impressive giving a unique insight into their cultural ways.

The main character in the story is Vince, a young soldier from New Zealand who has joined thousands of other young men to fight in the war against communism at the end of the “Emergency” in the early 1960’s.

Vince meets the lovely Audrey, in the Cameron Highlands, but their relationship seems doomed after she falls into a deep coma. Reluctantly he leaves her to continue his duties but promises to return.

Whilst out on patrol Vince becomes separated from his platoon and finds himself lost in the jungle. By chance he saves a young fisherman’s life and, with gratitude, he is welcomed into the secret and fascinating ways of a small aborigine community.

tigerHere he moves into a completely different world unlike anything he has ever known before. Although teetering on the realms of fantasy it somehow works very well. I particularly loved the rather posh tiger.

The story of Vince takes the reader through the world of steaming jungles, the secret lives of the aborigine people and his encounters with various women along the way. But despite these brief affairs he remains true to his love of Audrey.

The story ends in a most satisfying way and leaves the reader with one thought.

Is there more out there than we could ever imagine? Is there life after death, in one form or another?

The possibilities seem endless…

You can buy the book with this link The Voice of the Tiger or if you need more information you can find it here

Samantha is no slouch either when it comes to writing books, her’s is a Romantic Novel From Africa and you can find out more about Samantha here Samantha Ford

Tiger Image courtesy of photoXpress.com

The Video Review

Goodreads – A Good Choice for Authors

August 5, 2014 in Articles, Book Marketing, Book promotions

social media for booksIt has to be said there are social media sites and there are social media sites for independent publishers, authors and writers. Goodreads fits into the latter category. Why? Because that is where book lovers hang out, writers and readers.

Now if you are a writer then there is one thing you will be desperate for and, yes, that is readers.

Goodreads then should definitely be on your list of social media sites, because in reality that is the biggest social media site for book readers. Yes of course you will also find them on Facebook, Google+, Twitter etc. But they could be on those sites for any number of reasons. For example they may be there to stay in touch with family or be keeping up to speed with friends old and new or they may simply be promoting their business or looking for services.

But one thing you know for sure, if they are on Goodreads, is that they have either written or published a book and are promoting it, or they are there looking for the next good book to read. They are not going to be there discussing the great family party the night before, or asking you to play Candy Crush. No, there is only one reason people register on Goodreads and that is books.

Don’t get me wrong, you can find groups on all the social media sites that talk about and are interested in books and of course you can try and interact with those groups to see if you can find readers. In fact when you have time you should probably do that.

But on Goodreads you know you have an audience that is genuinely interested in books, a captive audience for all intents and purposes. Plus you have all the Goodreads tools at your disposal, you can for example:

  • add your books with all the relevant information
  • share the status of the book
  • recommend it to groups of friends or followers
  • create custom shelves for specific genres
  • create posts for your own blog
  • start discussions about a book
  • create quizzes for a bit of visitor interaction
  • share your book news using the various widgets that are available to embed it in your own blog or website

All this is completely free of charge. Plus of course you can be talking about, recommending and categorizing the books you like or have published and adding them to Listmania lists so readers can find them, not to mention the review feature of Goodreads which is the most basic function of the site.

Goodreads Social Media for Books

Authors can even sell their books on Goodreads or upload an epub or pdf file to allow Goodreads members to read the whole book or an excerpt from the book. This functionality is found via the author page, which you can only have if you have written and published a book.

Of course you have to remember that the site is primarily intended for book lovers to share and recommend their book experiences and no-one wants to be bored to death by a writer with only one obvious and sole intention - to sell their book.  I am afraid that even on a social site for books you will have to behave appropriately, perhaps even share your opinion about someone else’s book ~ heaven forbid ~ so that people can see you actually have an interest in books beyond your own or just trying to sell them.

I am sure I have probably forgotten some of the services that Goodreads offers to both writers and readers, but you should be getting my gist. If you have a genuine interest in books and want to find other people that share that interest, then Goodreads is a great place to do it. Plus if you approach it in that way i.e. show you have a real interest in books, then you will soon find that people warm to you and, after a while, they might even buy some of your books.

So if you are a writer or publisher and you have books you would like to promote – what are you waiting for. Goodreads is one of the best marketing tools you have available.

Related Posts

photo credit: boltron- via photopin cc

Book Publishing Options for Independent Authors

August 3, 2014 in Articles, eBook publishing

Author Publishing OptionsIn this world of ever changing technology the mainstay of publishing and the written word, printed books, are under threat. The common, new usurper is the eBook, rapidly becoming the media choice of multitudes of avid readers.

The reason why is pretty clear, the parallel and exponential rise of mobile technology that provides a means of downloading and reading eBooks from the Internet. And we are not just talking about Kindle, Nook or Kobo dedicated ereaders, there are now apps available for any number of tablet devices or smartphones in addition to dedicated ereaders.

Highly powerful miniature computers that can literally be carried in a pocket or bag and that offer virtually all the functionality of a notebook or desktop computer with the advantages that they are small, lightweight and can be taken with you everywhere you go.

You probably only need to observe your kids, or in some cases grand-kids, to find out how they prefer to read a book these days and it is becoming obvious that a paperback version of their favorite book or novel is now much more rarely seen. So whether they are relaxing in an armchair or lounging by a pool, it is usually with their preferred mobile device in their hands. Sometimes they will be reading the latest trend on Twitter, playing games, catching up with friends on Facebook or of course reading the latest novel.

So now we come to why this presents a new and exciting opportunity for wannabe and existing authors. For a start the traditional method for publishing a book was to approach an established publisher, usually through a literary agent, to present a manuscript and then sit back and wait for months to get a decision, usually a rejection.

Then there was the cost barrier, getting a book laid out ready for printing and then actually printed can be very expensive. Even print on demand can be a bit tricky and prices need to be carefully worked out to ensure production costs are met, the books are competitive and you can actually make a little bit of profit.

But all these problems go away with eBooks, they offer a real alternative for new and existing authors. 

Formatting for publication is much more straightforward, especially for a novel devoid of graphics, and even if you don’t have the technical skills yourself there are eBook formatting services available at a much better rate than the equivalent for printed books.

Then there are the online distributors that welcome independent authors with open arms, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and even Google. They are all desperate for new books and new authors, there is no waiting time. Format your book properly and you can be published in hours.

Just one word of caution however, don’t let standards drop. You may not be being judged by a publisher taking this route, but you will certainly be judged by a paying public and reviews never come faster than when you have got it wrong. Spelling mistakes, punctuation errors and bad grammar will be homed in on and your book rubbished if you get it wrong. So don’t take shortcuts, make sure your book is properly edited and proofread.

Marketing is a big part of independent publishing and it is much harder to market a book full of errors than one that is well written, clear of spelling mistakes and with a story that flows naturally from beginning to end.

Photo – courtesy of PhotoXpress.com

Finding Good Books to Read

June 21, 2014 in Articles

Good Books To ReadYou would think that finding a good book to read in this new world of digital technology would be a synch! Not always the case though, traditional publishing is in decline and the time of the independent publisher is definitely here, but with a few drawbacks.

Love them or loathe them traditional publishers, good ones at least, did tend to ensure that a certain level of quality was maintained in the world of books. They were the gatekeepers and quality controllers of the publishing world. Any book that was not properly edited, proof read and formatted simply didn’t get out of the door. Then of course there is the content to consider, now that’s where things could become a bit subjective. For example Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishing houses before being taken on by a small publishing house at the behest of the CEO’s eight year old daughter. So basically it took a child to spot the magic of Harry Potter and bring it into the public domain. There have also been plenty of other famous authors that were rejected. So clearly the publishing houses don’t always get it right and who knows how many brilliant authors with fantastic books simply gave up and failed to reach the illustrious position of ‘innovation’ (that means commercial release in the development world).

Clearly then there is a strong case for independent publishing, because authors can in effect bypass the gatekeepers and let the public be the judge of their work. The problem is that they can, to a certain extent, bypass the quality control process as well. Some may decide not to use an editor or even get their book proof read. And as for the formatting, for digital books at least, anyone that has tried to read a badly formatted eBook will tell you, even if the story is a good one, the frustration may just see it thrown to one side and discarded before it is finished.

Which brings us back to the question of how to find a decent book that is worth reading from the content perspective as well as the quality perspective, in what is rapidly becoming an ocean of new independent publishers.

Basically what most avid readers want are books where you can simply enjoy a good story without being driven mad by the spelling mistakes, loss of a story line or complete inconsistency in font type, line spacing or size . Well you will be glad to hear that there are ways in which you can separate the wheat from the chaff, read on below for a few suggestions.

Photos Courtesy of PhotoXpress

How to Find a Good Book to Read

Amazon does have some great tools you can use for finding good books based on your past history, preferences, books you like and what other people bought. But they are not the only game in town, even if they are the biggest. That said the first few tips are for finding good books on Amazon.

  1. Amazon book lists, check out the best sellers or hotest new releases lists
  2. Use the ‘What other people bought’ feature on Amazon to find books that other people have read
  3. Scroll to the bottom of a book page to click on tags or categories to get the highest ranking books with the same tags or in the same categories
  4. Look out for ‘Listmania’ lists, they usually appear at the left hand side of search results and sometimes you can search Listmania so just put in what you are searching for.
  5. Register with book review sites where you can list the books you have read, review them and recommend them to others. And of course visa versa. Probably the best known of these sites is GoodReads
  6. Look for blogs that publish, distribute and/or review books. eBookIssues for example.
  7. You can look on social media sites and search for books or genres of books, sites like Stumbleupon and Delicious are particularly good for books.
  8. Micro-blogging sites such as the famous Twitter remember to use the # when you search e.g. #ebooks #indies #books #romance etc.
  9. Multiple digital format distributors such as Smashwords so that you can get your books in a format to suit your eReading devices.

Book Distributors Other Than Amazon

Not all of these distributors offer ‘look inside’ or free samples but most do and you can always check the books out on the sites that do and then purchase in your preferred format.

Both Barnes & Noble and Smashwords offer free samples to download for sure.

Smashwords
This is the biography page for Moulin Publications. Moulin Publications provides a specialist eBook publishing service to all authors struggling to deal with the file formatting requirements asked of them to get their books published on Smashwords and other popular eBook distribution sites.

iTunes – Books
Get a free sample or buy The Mobius Twist – Alien Abduction and Judgement of the Human Race by Markham Turner on the iTunes Store. You can read this book with iBooks on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Barnes and Noble – Books, Textbooks, eBooks and More
Lower Prices on Millions of Books, Movies and TV Show DVDs and Blu-ray, Music, Toys, and Games. Shop online for eBooks, NOOK, and textbooks. FREE Shipping on $25 orders!

World Famous eBook Store | Diesel eBook Store
Millions of free eBooks, New York Times Bestsellers for $9.99, device freedom to transfer between ebook stores, free mobile ereader apps for android, iphone, ipad, smartphone

Kobo eBooks
Free eBooks, thousands of bestsellers for $9.99, millions of free classic books. Read anytime on your Kobo eReader, tablet, smartphone or computer. Sign up for free today.

AbeBooks Official Site – New & Used Books, New & Used Textbooks, Rare & Out of Print Books
AbeBooks is your source for Used Books, New Books, Rare Books and Out of print books. Find classic collectibles, rare signed editions, used textbooks, and inexpensive bestsellers from independent booksellers worldwide.

A New Way to Choose Which Book to Read
Whichbook is a unique site for choosing what to read. Whichbook offers choices which are not available anywhere else – mood, emotion, plot shape, type of main character, country the book is set in.

How You Can Identify A Good Book To Read

  • Read the reviews on the distributor site, note the new ‘verified purchaser’ indicator on Amazon that tells you the reviewer actually bought the book. Doesn’t always mean they haven’t read it if they are not verified because authors do give away free samples to professional or amateur reviewers
  • Use the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon, you can usually read up to 20% of the book before committing to purchase. Should be enough to get a feel for the quality and the content.
  • Use the request a sample feature or download options on distributor sites. This is similar to look inside but you actually get the sample downloaded to your device
  • Join an on-line book club, GoodReads is one example but you can also look for book clubs that specialise in the genre you are interested in so you can really home in on your favourite types of books. You can look at the reviews and recommendations for books of interest.
  • Join Shelfari this is Amazon’s own book club. You can add books add extra information, join specific groups and so on. The information also feeds back to the book in Amazon. Pretty neat resource for authors and readers.

What Makes a Book Worth Reading Anyway

Makes you laugh or cry or both?

Good booksWhat makes a book worth reading is the million dollar question. Why? Because that is totally subjective and depends on the perspective of the reader. Adults have different perspectives to children, men have different perspectives to women, some people are serious and some people are frivolous. You can probably see where I am going here, we are all different and I have pointed out some of the obvious ones, but there are many others much more subtle than the ones illustrated. So is there a common ground?

I actually don’t think there is, not in terms of perspective anyway, but people do read books for different reasons and these can probably be categorised more easily. For example the two clear functions of a book are either to inform or to entertain. Yes you can then delve into those categories and be more specific, some people are entertained by horror thrillers, or psychological thrillers of the paranormal others by funny books that make them laugh or romantic novels that carry them into a world of fantasy. This is why there are so many different genres and categories associated with books and perhaps why some publishers of books can struggle to place their books in the right places for their readers to find them.

That doesn’t really help anyone looking for a good book to read, if a book they would really enjoy is categorised in a way they simply wouldn’t think of searching for it then the likelihood is that they will never find it; other than by accident. I also think that sometimes people don’t actually know what they are looking for or in fact what they will enjoy. So what happens?

Typically people latch onto one author or genre and stick with it or her/him, probably why recently best selling Trilogy’s have been so successful (assuming of course that the second and third are not required reading to find out what actually happened). Everyone is playing safe, sticking to what they know or what the masses dictate is a good book. Best sellers for example are self perpetuating, the more people that read them the more people there are that want to read them, and why not I hear people saying. Because we are all different is what I say, so instead of being a bit of a sheep, perhaps we should get off the main rail and take a side track, even if it’s only once in a while.

I seem to have digressed onto a soapbox for some reason, so I had better hop back down onto terra-firma and just finish by saying that what makes a good book is whether it delivered to you, as an individual, what you wanted. Whether that was in an expected or surprising way. Actually the latter would probably be more enjoyable, the fact that you got what you wanted was a surprise, it even sounds better.

So don’t let someone else put you off a book, read the description and yes take in the book reviews but most important of all take a look at the sample for the first few chapters and make up your own mind whether you think you will like it or not. And of course I do have to take a step back from my earlier statement, if you find an author or a genre you really enjoy, then why not take on more of the same, just don’t forget that sometimes a change is as good as a rest. Plus these days in the world of digital eReaders and eBooks, most literary exhibits are very affordable so the risk you are taking is small.

Of course if you are interested in the books on this site you can click on the BOOKS category and browse away.

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