Tag Archives: books

Adventures in Writing – another summer over

This will be the first month since I started writing this blog that I have got nothing to say.

There are a number of reasons for this.

One, I feel very strongly that anything I say doesn’t really matter (refugees, climate change, they are a LOT more important).

Two, the woes of the world make ANYTHING I say totally irrelevant

Three, writing books is not such a big deal – we authors are not the font of all knowledge

So, to bring things into perspective, I’m going to write about what happened to me this month…a personal overview of four weeks or so of my ever-changing life.

I decided to enrol my youngest daughter in my school. Her mother was not impressed. I tried to convince her that having a choice, having options, is a good thing. Imagine having the option at 18 of either going to a Spanish University or a British one. Or, even at 16, having the option of trying to find a job in Spain, or a having the chance to go to a British FE college and leaning, training for a career that she will love. I wish I had those sorts of options. I left school with not very much. A grade ‘C’ in English and Art. Yeah, well with that I’m not even going to get into the Civil Service. So…my choices were limited, hers will not be.

I wrote a book over the summer. That’s quite an achievement, even if I say so myself. 65,000 words. A Western. I’ve always wanted to write a Western and it simply flowed out of me. I had to change the title a few times, but in the end, I went with ‘Unflinching’, a little like ‘Unforgiven’, but nothing like the same story. Set BEFORE the American Civil War, in 1857 this book tells the story of a Pinkerton Detective who sets out to find the kidnapped daughter of a general he served under. In the Mexican War. It is gutsy and full of violence. Which is how Westerns should be. I loved writing it, I hope you love reading it.

cover draft

The very wonderful cover of my soon-to-be-released novel ‘Unflinching’, a Western set in 1857 America.

Publishing a book is always fraught with problems. Small independant publishers do go out of business. They cannot survive in this cutthroat world, so where does that leave us poor authors? Do I self-publish, or find another publisher? I think my publishers are very good, although I was let down recently by some mistakes in the editing process, mistakes which were panned by a reviewer! Rightly so. Anyway, I got in touch with the publisher and we have worked together to iron out all the errors, of which there were not many, to be fair. I suspected there might have been a faulty with the reviewer’s E-reader. It does happen, because some of the things she said simply didn’t add up when I went through the manuscript. Anyway, it’s done… Another book of mine had a tiny mistake. The name of one of the characters changed towards the end, This was another publisher and their response was very different. They won’t make the changes! So, I am going to withdraw my book from them, close the contract, go with someone else. There a lot of good publishers out there…but there are plenty that aren’t. It is so difficult to find the right one, isn’t it. To self-publish sometimes seems like the easy option, but I’m still convinced to try and get picked up by one of the big publishers is what it is all about. So, that’s what I’ll do.

Did I tell you I completed the first parto f a TV adaptation of one of my books? It was such hard work, but I’m hopeful I’ll be rewards when it is put out on our TV screens!!!

Summer is over and it has been busy. Western, TV episode, and another book also completed. I’ve struck a deal with a publisher to publish 4 of my books. Sounds good. Well…we’ll see. I’m very pragmatic about the whole industry now. Like I say … We’ll see. I think that is the best policy.

Wait. Keep an open mind. And, as it turns out … Nothing to say this month? Well…quite a lot in the end!

Keep reading people.

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under fiction writing, Westerns

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.

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Adventures in Writing – tweet, tweet ter-woo!

You know, I’ve just posted something on Twitter. I go to look, and it’s not there. Well, it is, but it is already superseded by about forty or more tweets from others. This got me thinking. In order to READ all of these Tweets, you’d have to be on the internet 24/7. For most of us, this simply isn’t feasible.

So…I tried to work it out. All my efforts to post earth-shattering, informative, philosophical, newsworthy Tweets…

Is it really worth it?

I began to think about myself. I’m not unique, different, in any way out of the ordinary. How much of my day do I spend on Twitter? It didn’t take me long to find the answer.

About ten minutes.

In that time, am I likely to take notice, spot, discern, know about the world’s next great book?

Answer…

No.

We are all programmed to believe that having a ‘presence’ is absolutely essential in this hyper-spaced-out-world in which we live.

Is it?

What does it mean if we have 108k followers? I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes I think it is worth revisiting. I use the above figure as an example. Here’s why.

Today I received an email telling me I have another new follower on Twitter. Not a company giving me access to thousands of e-books, or a travel firm, or fashion house, but a real person. Youpie. I investigated. This person follows some 23k people. That, in itself, is something of an achievement. Where does he find the time? Then, his followers…108k. I had to look again, One hundred and eight thousand followers! My God, who is this guy? Some sort of Mahatma Ghandi, a man of world-renown, the next President?

No. He’s just a guy. From Merseyside. And he’s written a book. And he has 108,000 followers.

What the hell is happening? Am I the only one who thinks all of this as simply some massive con? I think I am. People bombard me with all sorts of put-me-downs after I post such ideas. They lambast me, insult me, tell me I need to wake up, get real, join the real world. Really?

Sometimes, being a lone voice, is kind of deflating, but it can also do wonders for the spirit. Think of how many great men and women have been ridiculed for their views, only to be revered later when people realise the truth of what they said. Crying in the wilderness is actually a good thing. Just because a thousand people tell me I’m wrong doesn’t actually mean I’m wrong.

And then…joy of joys … as if to confirm thing, I receive an email from someone inviting me to be their follower on Twitter. Someone … or something. They ‘sell’ reviews. For a small payment I can purchase ‘good’ reviews.

Now this really got my blood boiling.

I do not want to buy ‘good’ reviews. If I’m going to buy reviews, I want them to be ‘honest’. And I receive an email from Amazon telling me that only when you have received 50 reviews are you going to be taken seriously. Fifty? So, the pressure is on. We have to have that magical number, we have to break through the barrier, get ourselves noticed, win the accolades, the sales, the acceptance. Fifty. And, guess what, Amazon can help. Yes, they really can. You can get onboard and ‘buy’ the required number of sales to be regarded as a best-seller! Just imagine, having that accolade on your book cover. ‘Best-selling author bla-de-bla’ comes to a village hall near you to talk about how wonderful it is to be a star. Famous. Rich. Mm.

I’m being cynical? You think? I know James Joyce did it. He bought 200 copies of Ulysses I think it was, to give away to his friends. That gave him something of a kick-start, but what is being proposed today is very different. As long as you keep spending your money, you can buy your way to success. Well, I’m of the school which believes talent, creativity and the ability to craft a damn good story is of far greater importance. We all need to promote ourselves in the best ways we can, but this buying your way above the masses … Well …

I’m simply and honestly disgusted. This is all a sham. We are living in the era of the biggest publishing con there has ever been, and we all contribute, we all buy into it, even me. Because the pressure is on to sell, sell, sell. Honesty and talent no longer have a place. We must sell, by hook or by crook, and to hell with everything else. Listen to Amazon, if you don’t believe me. Or Bookbaby. It’s easy. Anyone can do it … just keep reaching inside your pockets.

Beam me up. I’ve had enough.

I’m going back to my keyboard, find happiness in the worlds I create, and keep submitting. I believe, in my simple innocence, that good writing will forces its way to the top. People like good stories. They simply need to know I write them, that I exist. But I’m not going to buy my way into the consciousness of prospective readers. Besides, I can’t afford it. So, there has to be another way. Surely.

Thanks for dropping by. You can find out about my books on my website: www.stuartgyates.com. Come along and visit me, pick up a book, enjoy. But whatever you do, keep reading.

Leave a comment

Filed under fiction writing

Adventures in Writing – a personal journey by Stuart G Yates

Something happened to me the other day which has happened before, and will no doubt happen again.

The publisher of my novel ‘The Story of Don Luis’ folded.

This meant, of course, that the book came off the shelves at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc,etc, and the rights reverted to me. The initial shock gave way to a kind of simmering optimism. I now had choices, real choices. Should I submit it again, to another publisher, or take the plunge and self-publish?

I’m still debating.

The thing is, I began to write a follow-up. I won’t use the word’ sequel’ because it isn’t. It is a stand-alone story about Don Luis getting himself involved with solving a murder. I’ve always wanted to write a ‘whodunit’ ever since my first outing when I was 12 and wrote one for my Nan (see an earlier blog of mine which details all of this). Well, I wouldn’t call this your typical Agatha Christie-type work, but it is something of a mystery. And I’m loving writing it. However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

There is a scene in the book in which the villain (there’s always got to be a villain, right?) shoots at Don Luis from a distance of over 200 paces. Now, this may not sound a lot, but actually it is. Try it and see. We’ve all seen Usain Bolt cover 100 metres in way under ten-seconds, but have you actually seen a 100 metre running track? Well, double it. That is long!

So, the problem I had was this: was there, in the Seventeenth Century , a musket capable of shooting someone over that distance. Naturally, I did the Internet surfing thing. I read about the Afghani Jezail, a beautifully carved musket of exquisite craftsmanship, with a range of over 250 paces! Success…or perhaps not. Because the Jezail was used in the 19th Century against the Brits during the Victorian Afghan Wars. Had it been around earlier than this? Well, I didn’t know. So I got in touch with the British Museum. They didn’t know. Then I contacted the Leeds Armouries, and they didn’t know, but they put me onto someone who might…but they didn’t. So, I was put onto someone else…and I’m still waiting.

This is what makes writing so exciting and interesting for me. It may start out as mere imagination, but fairly soon – if you have set your story in a historical period – the facts have to be checked out. I can’t wait to learn if this gun was around 350 years ago. If it was, then that is great…but what if it wasn’t? Well, I’ll have no choice but to do some serious re-writing!

 

You can visit my websites and discover more about my books and links to purchasing them.

For Stuart G Yates (thrillers and adult fiction) visit www.stuartgyates.com

For Glenn Stuart (for YA paranormal mysteries) visit: www.glennstuart.co.uk

Thanks for dropping by, and keep reading!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Adventures in writing…a personal journey by Stuart G Yates

I came off my motorbike about 2 weeks ago, mangled my knees and smashed my shoulder. The shoulder is getting there, but my knee…I can hardly walk!

Still, as I am off work, it has given me the chance to catch up on all sorts of business that required my attention.

Like web sites.

We are always told, as authors, that we need to establish a presence on the Web, build a web site, have a blog, develop social networking. I am now of the mind that I don’t believe much of that works. The only thing that generates much interest is this blog. Very few people so much as look at my posts on FaceBook. And as for book promotions, the best place to buy a book, for me, is still in a bookshop. It would be interesting to see how many of you agree.

I love book shops. I remember when I was a boy, every Saturday morning I would wander up to my local town-centre and go to the bookshop. It was called, conveniently, ‘BOOKLAND’ and I would spend hours just browsing through the titles. More often than not I would buy something. I always longed for a library of my own and my dad, who was amazing at making anything out of virtually nothing, built me a splendid bookcase. Empty shelves stared back out at me, and I knew it would be a long process to fill it up. But fill it I did.

Do you remember those adverts that graced the back covers of Sunday supplements, for ‘World Books’, or ‘The Literary Guild’? You could buy six hard-back books for about two pounds, and then you had to become a member and choose a book a month. I bought some amazing books from them. I still have most of them. ‘The Washing of the Spears’, ‘Trafalgar, the Nelson Touch’, and, of course ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’. Most of us must have that, I shouldn’t wonder, despite most of us never reading any of it!

Well, my library grew. I bought a wide range of books, mainly fiction but with plenty of history thrown in for good measure. I seem to recall I had a lot of John Creasy. No idea why. I doubt I ever read a single one, but I wanted to, so there they would stand and I would stand, and look, and feel my heart swell. My library. Wow.

Now, sadly, it is increasingly difficult to do all of that. Perhaps, in a generation, nobody will possess their own, private library. The age of the download is upon us, as well we all know. So where do we go to find our next book? Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads? There are a plethora of sites nowadays devoted to recommended reads. But none of them, sorry to say it, can replace the smell, the ambiance of a lovely bookshop. I still believe this is the best type of marketing. To see your title on a shelf in a bookshop…WOW! The joy of picking up books, flicking through the pages, reading the blurbs, being enticed by the covers…how can you beat that? And yet, when I asked my daughter, who lives on Merseyside, to find an independent bookshop that might be willing to stock my books, she couldn’t find ONE! NOT ONE! I couldn’t believe it.

So, imagine my joy when, last year when I went to Burgundy for a holiday, I visited a tiny little place and it had not one, but THREE bookshops! And what wonderful places they were. Small, cluttered, thousands of books piled up to the rafters together with greetings cards, wrapping paper, pens and pencils, etc. They even had a ‘foreign titles’ section. I was blown away. The French love their books, and they have a wonderful approach to their reading – they still buy REAL books! Those bookshops are flourishing whilst we, in the UK, allow our shops to die. It’s the same with everything, as we see from the news. Shops we have grown up with, disappearing one by one, unable to compete in the instant, sanitised world of internet shopping. Soon there will be none left. It’s all somewhat depressing.

I don’t know what will happen, and I am in no way decrying the rise of the digital book, but I rarely, if ever, go on sites to find a new read. I go to a bookshop. Here, where I live, in Spain, I would often go to the English Bookshop, and have a really good browse, more often than not picking up one of their ‘on offer’ titles (as new books are simply far too expensive now). Imagine my horror when, only last month, I went to choose a book and…The shop had gone. Disappeared. POOF! Yet another victim of the crisis…or, perhaps, the rise of the digital market?

Who knows?

Well, I mustn’t complain, because my own books are offered for sale on all the mobile devices. And for the moment THE STORY OF DON LUIS is FREE on Kindle. So, I mustn’t be too negative must I? No, I’ll leave that for something else.

In the final analyse, I don’t suppose any of it matters as long as people reads. That is the important thing. My school has recently purchased a stack of Kindles. Perhaps that is the way forward? If the by-product is that young people become excited about reading, then perhaps it really is a good thing. And they do seem excited when they pick up that slim machine. You can see them, their eyes glowing with expectation. It could even cause them to be more adventurous in their reading choices, to hunt out classics that they may otherwise have overlooked, for any number of reasons. Buying ‘War and Peace’ and feeling the weight of it in your hands is extremely daunting, but you don’t notice that on an E-reader. Big books, little books, it makes no difference to the machine itself. But if more people read because of that…then…Hallelujah!

You can visit my website which has details of my published books, where to get them (sadly, not in Bookshops) and of the FREE OFFER for Don Luis: www.stuartgyates.com.

And a friend of mine has dipped her toe into the publishing world, and written a very saucy book, loosely termed erotica! And that too is FREE. Seems to be a trend, and not a bad one at that. Give her book a try by visiting her website: www.gsstewart.moonfruit.com where you will find all the details. It is raunchy however, so be warned.

Thanks for reading!

 

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized