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I don’t know about you – and most people don’t agree with me, get upset and throw me in the bin (I’m sure they’d like to literally) – but, I’m really disillusioned over this whole social media business. Using it as a promotional tool, I mean. Does it work? I’m not convinced. Let’s be honest, often when I go on Facebook I see quite a lot of promotional stuff, covers of books, people telling me how great they are, and I simply delete them. I do think a lot of authors get carried away, that they believe social media is working, so they are afraid to stop. Unfortunately, by dominating the pages the way they do, it feels almost as if they are spamming. I like to go on FB to interact with people, usually people I know personally or have a strong connection through the site. I myself do use it to occasionally promote my work, but this is purely because I feel pressurised to do so. But it doesn’t work.

And then there is Twitter. Twitter is now simply a promotional site, with so many screaming headlines about ‘my wonderful book’ or ‘the latest from best-selling author bla de blar’…I’ve often wondered, if they are best-sellers, why are they still promoting their book in this way? I still feel word of mouth is the best recommendation, with browsing in a bookshop coming a close second. I love that about Waterstones, where the members of staff write down their own recommendations. I’ve bought quite a few books this way. I remember many years ago going into my local W’s and finding a recommendation card, written in a spidery hand, spouting off about a little known Swedish author called Henning Mankell. I was so won over by the recommendation that I bought the book and, from that moment, bought every other thing Mankell has written!

Wow…to get a book on the shelves of Waterstones…

That’s my ambition, my dream…

I know most of you will scream in derision, but I do not believe I will not have ‘made it’ as a writer until I see one of my books in there.

Anyway, the thing is, what to do. I don’t know, is my answer. Just keep plugging away, I suppose. But I am sick and tired of reading about other people’s books on social media, so I am sure people must be sick of reading mine. I try to keep all my author stuff on my FB author page, with links to my website where I usually try to put some excerpts from my books. I’m going to try not to put much on my personal FB page. And I’m culling my list of ‘friends’ as a lot of them have ideas that are totally contrary to mine. I actually feel a lot better for this.

I remember when I first started buying books, for pleasure. Agatha Christie, Sven Hassel, Ian Fleming, they were the big three. I read every book Sven and Fleming wrote, but I’ve still got some way to go with Christie. But here’s a thought – I never once thought I’d like to meet the author, interact. For me, an author was like a god-like figure, distant, all-powerful. Their words, their creations were enough for me. Now, we are bombarded with interviews, webinars and all sorts of stuff. I never read them. I’m not convinced they serve any purpose, I’m really not.

Well, I have good news. My dystopian thriller ‘Tears in the Fabric of Time’ is about to be published and I can’t wait. This has been a labour of love for me for many years. I loved writing it and now it is going to be published! The cover looks cool and the first chapter is available on my website, so go and have a look.fabric-of-time-cover

Also, Varangian Volume 3 – HARDRADA – is out soon too. This has been a long haul but we’re almost there. Some people have asked me about Hardrada (YES, on social media…wow!), so here is a little taster about Volume 1:

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His name was Harald Sigurdsson, but the world knows him as Hardrada. Having fought his first battle at fifteen, where he watched his brother, King Olaf, die, he fled south to the fabled city of Constantinople. Here he enrolled in the legendary fighting unit known as the Varangian Guard. His love for the Empress Zoe is legendary, but Harald seeks more than mere love. To regain his birthright drives him forever onward. To be the King of Norway. The year is 1042 and Harald is imprisoned, betrayed. The first volume of this great Viking king tells of his attempt to flee the great city and return north. It is a violent, uncompromising tale of murder, deception and depravity, for the Emperor is the lust-filled Michael V, and he wants Hardrada’s head. Hardrada, the very name means ‘Hard Ruler’, but how can he ever rule unless he can escape. And to escape he must forge allegiances with some of the most despicable men in the entire empire.

HERE is a link to the Amazon page for Varangian.

My website: www.stuartgyates.com for further information.

Thanks for dropping by and thanks to those of you who have bought my books. I hope you like them.

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Adventures in writing…westerns at 84

Okay, so this month, I’m off to the UK for a well-deserved holiday. Well, that’s how I see it. I’m worried about the heat. It is 40 degrees here in Spain (that’s about 110 degrees Fahrenheit), but I see on the news temperatures are hitting 35 over in Blighty! Maybe it will be like the time I went to Berlin, thinking it would be so much cooler. So much so, I didn’t pack any shorts. And boy did I regret it! I’ve known such heat. Anyway, this time I will pack some, as I will be visiting Parkgate and, as you all know, that is an infamous place for getting burnt, so I’ll pack the sun cream too.

Well, here I am getting all excited and just before I go, I have read an interesting post from Simon Kernick about his struggles with his latest book. Simon is a great writer, with a list of truly fantastic thrillers, so the thought of him battling over a book, reaching 20 pages and abandoning it, kind of gives me some hope.

Well, I say that, but having just entered a writing competition, I’m not so sure.

This competition was supposed to be therapy for the state of the publishing industry at the moment. I am becoming increasingly frustrated at the speed with which they work. I want my books out there, but no…I have to wait. And I’m very impatient. I’m old. I am running out of time and I’m trying to make up for all those years I’ve lost being a pratt. I write like a lunatic, but the publishers don’t care. They go along at their sweet merry rate. Snail-s pace that means. No wonder so many opt for self-publishing. Anyway, that’s beside the point. I entered this competition to prove I have lots of other books waiting, waiting, forever waiting. But I was hoodwinked into believing this had something to do with writing. It hadn’t. It was a popularity competition and, as I know full well, I’m not very popular. I didn’t realise this until my good friends began to vote. Five votes. The leader had 50. I had no chance, so I withdrew.

So now, I’m totally pissed off.

I had thought about giving it all up. I still might. Maybe when I’ve completed my Hardrada series. I’m going to write the fifth volume, then perhaps jack it all in. When I’m…around 85 maybe. That seems like a good time.

We’ll see.

Until then, I have tons of books to write. I believe my best one hasn’t been written yet.

But I’m not going to be put off because people don’t buy my books, or support me, or anything else. Well, I say no ne. That’s not quite true. A lovely, lovely friend at work bought my first Varangian book and she was so amazed I almost burst into tears. Sometimes, people say and do the most amazing things.

I’m going to keep going, keep writing. I have the sequel to my don Luis book to complete AND, as a little tonic, I have decided to write a Western. And, do you know what, I love it. You never know, this just might be the one.

But it won’t be until I’m 84 before I know it.

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Adventures in writing…a month of commemorations!

This has been an interesting, and moving year, so far.

Interesting because it has been a steep learning curve for me with regard to publishers. I knew they worked slowly, but never quite how slowly. Of course, this is because they have lots of work with mountains of authors in the queue before me, I understand that, but nevertheless it is frustrating.

But I’m philosophical. I have now reached the stage where I don’t care.

If it takes them three years to get round to me, then so be it. I’m not going to worry. What will be will be. When they ask me to promote, get in touch with the press, libraries, Twitter and Facebook…I might just wait myself. Wait and wait.

Let me reiterate. I DO NOT CARE. I forked out a lot of money for a virtual book tour, a Twitter campaign, etc., etc., Result? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. So, no more of that thank you very much. I’m not wasting another penny on any of these awful campaigns. They don’t work. End of.

Now, the moving bit, for which I DO care. Quite a lot.

2015 has been an extraordinary year for commemorating some of the most important dates in our calendar.

April was a time to remember the horrors of Gallipoli, Churchill’s dream of knocking Turkey out of the Great War and putting immense pressure on the Germans. It was a disaster. battle_of_gallipoliToo many died in what was to become a nightmare campaign. But we need to remember; for the men who gave their lives and to instruct our youth about the utter futility of war.

June. What a month (as I’m writing this, it is not yet over!). The fifteenth saw my school joining in with many others in the commemorations going on all around Runnymede for the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Actually, that is wrong. King John didn’t sign it, he couldn’t read or write. He put his seal on it. Anyway, my school asked the question and were given the answer, and named, by Dan Snow, who is a cool guy.

Then, the 18th June. Waterloo. waterlooThere is not much more to be said about this battle, one of the most important ever fought. A terrible day, but even so I would have loved to have gone to Belgium to watch the re-enactment, but of course I couldn’t. I have bought all the stamps and the coins…and a French army in 10mm however, so that is something!

In October, it is the 600th anniversary of Agincourt…

What a year…and next year…2016, is the Somme, and the Norman invasion (950 years since Duke William came a-calling!).

Mm…I might have to buy some more figures!

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Adventures in writing – sick of scams

Oh Goddddddddddddddddddddd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sometimes truly believe I am a lone voice in the wilderness.

Okay, here we go.

I came across a ‘free’ course on how to promote books, as I am pants at promoting. I don’t have it in me. I may not be alone in this. I’m not a salesman. I write, I create, and I know there are a hundred and fifty thousand people out there right this minute screaming at me (hah! ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND? What am I, nuts?) telling me that in this modern world, you have to be a salesperson, you have to get out there, promote yourself, give your all. Find your platform, your voice, and shout it out…Jeez, I’m even beginning to sound like all of these people!

Look, I can’t do it, ok. I’ve acted on stage. Biggest audience? Three thousand people, baying for blood. Live. I did it. Smallest audience? One old lady, seeking warmth from the cold, and I put in a performance that would have you eating your own heart! I can act, but I can’t be myself. I’m no good at that. Here’s an example…I had a colleague come up to me who had just requested me as a friend on FaceBook. ‘I never knew you were an author!’She’s been in school for FIVE YEARS. I’ve been writing since…well…since. I am NO GOOD at this sort of stuff…So, I downloaded this ‘course’.

It was pants.

I remember when I was selling magazines in John Menzies and this guy, who always came in and bought his newspaper from us, suddenly said to me, ‘What are you going to do when you retire?’ I looked, blinked, didn’t know what to say, couldn’t find the words, so I shrugged. He laughed and said, ‘When do you want to retire?’ Again, I sort of danced around the question…’Er, when I’m old and I can’t go to the toilet any longer without help.’

This was not the answer he was looking for. So, he invited me back to his home for a ‘seminar’. And there I sat, listening to the BS. How to earn fifty thousand in your first year, a hundred thousand in your second…and so on and so on.

This is the same.

And after this wonderful course that taught me absolutely sweet Fanny Adams…I get an e-mail inviting me to purchase the all new, all dancing super-dooper course on ‘How to be a best-selling author’ and if I did it NOW, I could save, save, save. Yey!!!

At the amazing bumper price of only $99 dollars a month (reduced from $127…wow, really? SUCH a saving!!!) I could learn how to be a best-selling author.

Oh Goddddddddddddddddddddddd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am reminded of those scams from Nigeria, where they drop you an e-mail to ask you to send them all your personal details (including the location of birthmarks on your children) and all you have to do is say yes, and they will deposit 10 million dollars into your account. Keep it there for a week, keep half of it, and sit back and count all those lovely greenbacks!

It’s all BALLS!!!! And the sooner we wake up to it the better. There is no easy way of creating a best-seller, people. Unless, of course, you can write a book telling everyone how to write!  Wouldn’t that be cool. I’ve looked up these ‘experts’ and they have written lots of books. All around 20 pages long and all to do with how to write a best seller. And the mad thing is, people are buying this BS!!!

Look, it’s not rocket science. The first part is the hardest, no matter what all these idiots say –  you have to be able to write and then YOU HAVE TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD BOOK. And after that, you write another, then another, and you don’t stop. That’s my credo. Don’t stop. To hell with them all. Just keep writing!

Oh…just to prove any form of marketing doesn’t work at all, my book ‘Whipped Up’ is on special offer and on virtual tour. You can read the reviews, but nobody is buying it, not now, not ever, so…nuff said.

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Adventures in writing … pot pourri!

Bit of a mixed bag this month, so feel free to skim!

They say Twitter is good.

Just who are ‘they’ I hear you ask. Well, experts I suppose. I’m not an expert, so all I can go by is my gut-reaction, my instincts. So, I’m probably wrong, but nevertheless, I just don’t get it.

Okay, so I looked last time at how many followers some of the top authors have and, yes, they have lots. But does it help their sales? This is where I have the problems. I’m not sure who generates all this advice, you see. I suspects they are associates of Twitter, Facebook, Book Baby and Amazon. They are all in each other’s pockets anyway. Any idiot can see that. So, can we trust them?

I’m not sure.

I have just received an email informing me I have a new follower on Twitter. I wonder why, as the person is somebody I have never heard of. Perhaps they have bought one of my books, a new fan? With beating, expectant heart, I checked out their profile.

This person follows around 200 people. And how many follow him? 75,000. Say that back to yourself, slowly. SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND! I mean, how does he get the time to even obtain that many followers? And does it actually mean anything? Imagine if every one of those followers went out and bought his book. Imagine! In a flash, he’d be more successful than almost everyone else on the best-sellers list. However, a quick check on Amazon reveals he is not.

So … what is the point?

I don’t know. I’m very cynical. I don’t think it means diddly. I follow more people than I have followers. I’m not sure if I have ever bought anybody’s book from a tweet on Twitter. And I do read. I read a lot. I suppose all of us struggling to make it in this over-loaded world of authors and publishers need to explore every avenue in getting ourselves known. But it’s a long old road and it is very disheartening when I see the sort of thing described appearing on Twitter. I will never have 1,000 followers, let alone 75 thousand of them. Perhaps I should give up and not worry so much.

Well, I’m not giving up writing, that’s for sure. I’m working on a screenplay of one of my books at the moment, but as the gales are roaring through my village, knocking out the electricity every five minutes, I have resorted to using my notebook. It has a battery you see, and can continue when the house is stripped of power. Ah, the joys of living in the dark ages!

I received a post from a friend, about Stephen King’s top 10 best reads.

Here it is: http://www.openculture.com/2014/11/stephen-kings-top-10-all-time-favorite-books.html

It’s really interesting because as a horror/thriller writer you’d expect his list to be peppered with titles from the genres he writes in, but it’s not. You could say, at a push, that 1984, even Bleak house, have scary moments, and ‘Lord of the Flies’ is certainly very dark, but … not your true-blue horror. I guess it all has to do with what you like to read. My interests are very wide.  It got me to thinking about my own top-ten, so I-ll work on that and present it next time. What is yours?

I’ve finished the third in my Hardrada series and will send it off to my lovely publisher soon. Enjoy the first two volumes, both of which receiving super reviews. If you like historical fiction, with plenty of twists and turns, and written at a cracking pace, you’ll enjoy these. Oh, they have Vikings in them, so that can’t be bad!

I have other genres too. Check them out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/279-4230230-2335426?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=stuart%20g%20yates

Thanks for dropping by, and happy reading.

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Adventures in Writing…a little taste of ‘Whipped Up’

Hi everyone, and I hope you all have a wonderful 2015!

To start things off, my brand new novel, ‘Whipped Up’ is published on the 5th January, so I thought why not give you a taster. So, here it is, and I hope you enjoy it enjoy to rush out and buy the book. It’s a contemporary thriller, with Paul Chaise back in the UK looking for his girlfriend, Linny. But, as he is Paul Chaise, ex-SBS and trained killer, nothing runs smooth as he becomes embroiled with some very nasty people indeed.

whippedup_cover_big

Amazon tends to post the first couple of chapters, so here is some of the action from later in the book…

‘He drove out of town towards Lowestoft, making a turn down a narrow country lane, signposted for Gisleham. At a quiet, deserted spot he pulled over and got out. He checked nobody was around and opened the boot. The shadow seemed in a bad way, with blood trailing from his nostrils, his face chalk white with purple blotches. Without a pause, Chaise took him by the lapels and heaved him into the road. He draped him over his shoulder, carried him to the other side and propped him up against a solid tree in the middle of a copse. He stepped back to have a good look. The force of the blow to his neck had almost taken the man’s head off and a nasty red welt had developed across his throat. He continued breathing, however, so it did not seem he was about to expire. Reassured, Chaise used his tie to lash the shadow’s hands together, returned to the back seat of the rental and rooted inside. He found the bottle, swished it around. Little more than a mouthful of water left, it would have to be enough. He crossed the road again, unscrewed the cap, and threw the contents into the shadow’s face.

It had minimal effect.

Chaise went down on his haunches and picked up little stones, throwing them one at a time at the unconscious shadow. The first few brought no change, but after a dozen or so well-placed strikes on the man’s forehead, he stirred. He coughed, moaned, shook his head and opened his eyes as a final stone struck him in the cheek. He growled, blinked a few times and realised his hands were tied. After a moment or two of fruitless struggling, he focused in on his assailant, recognised Chaise and fell back against the tree with a loud sigh.

“What’s your name?”

A few laboured breaths, eyes closed, head lolling. “Colin.”

“Colin? Pleased to meet you. I’m Paul, but you know that already.” He dangled the snub-nose from a finger stuck through the trigger guard. “Colin, I’m getting a little sick of being tailed now. I’m tired and I’ve got a lot to do, so I’ll get straight to the point. I want you to tell me who you are and who you work for, or I’ll kill you.” Paul smiled, twirled the snub-nose in best Western-roll fashion and pointed it directly towards Colin. “With your own gun.” ’

‘Whipped Up’ is available for a range of e-readers at Smashwords, and on the Kindle at Amazon.

Thanks for reading.

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Adventures in writing – a personal journey by Stuart G Yates. A reaction against being ‘self righteous’.

Straight off, what I’m going to say is going to upset quite a few people.

But not Henning Mankell, or Cormac McCarthy, my two author heroes.

I was told the other day that I am ‘self righteous’ and ‘a hypocrite’. When I first read those comments, after the initial shock, a few thoughts rushed through my mind on how to respond. Well, I had some choices.

One, the obvious reaction I suppose, was to become defensive and angry. So, I hastily sent my indignant reply. ‘Who the hell do you think you are, talking to me like that?’ A perfectly natural response because, in this particular case, I had absolutely no idea what had brought this on.

I’m a member of a few writing forums, most of which are fine, and many of the posts are thought provoking, interesting and engender varied responses. I’m not a self-published author, and never will be. I commented on one of the recent forums that spouts off about the wonders of SP as opposed to Traditional Publishing, how agents rip you off, and the big guns are only interested in you if you are a ‘celebrity’ or a sports star. Well, I don’t subscribe to that view. I believe, whole-heartedly, that companies such as Harper know what they are doing. If an agent picks you up, it is because you are good, that your words touch a chord. I shudder when I hear some people declaring that they have been rejected X number of times, and so have sought the self-published route. They are happy. And, I suppose for them, that is fine.

It wouldn’t be for me.

I happened to say on this particular forum that I still believed that traditional publishing was the only way to go if you wish to become a professional author.

Hence, the self-righteous moniker.

I also happened to mention that my latest book, ‘ROADKILL’ is now published and available.

Roadkill_Cover

The cover of my latest thriller, set on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, and guaranteed to make you want to keep reading right to the end.

What I unfortunately omitted from this declaration was that the book had been published by a publisher, that I hadn’t paid a single penny for any part of the process.

Hence my being called ‘a hypocrite’ because, of course, it was assumed I had self-published. When I pointed this fact out to the idiot who had lambasted me, she replied with a very badly written apology which said ,’It was only a joke, tongue and cheek’. Yes, you read that, ‘tongue and cheek’. This from a self-published author.

It was later that I realised that, in all truth, there a lot of disillusioned people out there. And a huge swell of arrogance.

So, let me ask, why on earth don’t these authors try and get taken up by a publisher, one who will edit the book with you, sort out the ISBNs, the blurb, the cover…and all of it for nothing? What is wrong with people that they think that all publishers charge money? None of mine do, and one of them is so brilliant and forward-looking that they actually market the book too. I read about many self-published authors trawling around for companies to publish their book for them, and they pay for the service! WHY??? I’m absolutely perplexed, befuddled and speechless at this.

Rubbing salt in the wounds, the amount of ‘How to be a successful author’ books which are appearing all over the place simply beggars belief. We went through all this years ago. I remember the mail shots, the ads in the local press, the ubiquitous ‘BE YOUR OWN BOSS’ and retire to the Maldives in ten years. Maybe even five. How? Well, by selling cleaning products door to door, working from home, selling this, doing that, etc, etc. I even went to one such seminar. Would you believe it? Me! Some guy at work asked me if I was looking forward to retirement. I did a double take. ‘What?’ He invited me to a meeting, at some guy’s house, where I would learn something ‘very interesting and important’. Yeah right. I sat there and listened to the usual bilge. Environmentally friendly cleaning products, the thing of the future. How to build up your own business, control your destiny, etc, etc. It sounded great. So great I still haven’t seen any of those products on the shelf of any shelf in any shop in the thirty-plus years since I went to that meeting. It’s all balls. And now it’s happening to the business of writing. Since the advent of Kindle, writing is becoming just like any other self-employed business, with tag lines such as ‘how to win your market’, ‘have you achieved your goals’, ‘what to do when nobody wants to buy what you’ve written’. Actually, that last one is pure fantasy, but I tend to think all of them are. And the ones who peddle this rubbish, they all seem to be the same sort of person. I take one look and want to run. The sad thing is, the more people become desperate to see their name in ‘print’ the more these sharks will make money.

So, take a big breath.

I’ll repeat it, writing is NOT a ‘get rich quick scheme’, but so many think it is. It is damned hard work. AND, not only do you have to be a capable wordsmith, you also have to have a very vivid imagination, coupled with knowledge of how to plot and structure stories which will engage your reader. If you have those, then write. And when you have your book, and you’ve polished it to the nth degree, submit it to agents. And if you do not have success there, submit it to independent publishers. If you do not find success there, well…time to pop it in the bottom drawer and do something else creative. These professional people know what they are doing. They’ve been doing it for a long time. Take the hint, if it comes. Please.

Harsh words, but not self-righteous. I write every day, and every day I learn a little bit more about this wonderful occupation called writing. I create, and my prime motivator is for people to enjoy my stories, not to make money. But one thing is absolutely certain – I’ll never self-publish, even if my next forty or fifty books never find a home.

For those not too upset, I write fiction, and my work can be found on my websites, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Read my ‘About Me’ page to find out a little more.

Thanks for dropping by, and carry on reading!

And if you’re on FaceBook, I’m being interviewed live next Thursday by Fran Lewis, so why not eavesdrop for a while. Details on her page.

 

 

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