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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.

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Adventures in Writing – my Western, part one.

Writing during the summer months usually finds me accelerating my output, embarking on new projects, finishing off old ones.

This year is no different, despite soaring temperatures causing the entire process to be an arduous one!

With July barely half way through, I’ve completed the final edits of my novella ‘Fallen Past’, and the first adaptation for a television serial of my book ‘Roadkill’. With both of these out of the way, I can put my energy into writing biographies for famous Vikings, which I’ve been invited to do for an artist friend of mine (more news of that when it is done) and starting a new novel, in a genre I have always wanted to try.

The Western!

I reckon (notice the easy way in which I slip into Western-like parlance!) I should keep a log of my progress, so here it is.

DAY ONE

Writing first few chapters. In a deadbeat town in the Utah of the 1850s, a retired army general is embroiled in a bank robbery and is shot. As he lies bleeding, his daughter is abducted. US Marshalls, summoned to find the daughter as our good general is a hero of the Mexican War, are waylaid and killed, possibly by Indians. The Pinkerton Detective Agency over in Illinois, charged with finding the missing girl, send Officer Simms  out across the Territory to find her. Simms knows the general, served with him in the War. He’s the perfect choice. He’s also a killer, which might help.

But he’s travelling to a violent, unpredictable land. An added terror is the land is gripped by the worst drought in living memory. This does nothing to lighten Simms’s mood. Soon, starving Indians, merciless bounty-hunters and other, even more despicable individuals punctuate his progress. But he can handle it. Simms is tough. The toughest there is. Utah may be about to find itself pitched into all-out war, but none of this matters one jot to Simms. All he cares about is the girl.

But will he find her alive?

Well, okay, I’ve put down 8,000 words so far, which is about a tenth of the way through, which isn’t bad for my first outing. I might have it done in less than two weeks at this rate! More of the same tomorrow, because when a story takes hold, there’s no way I can shrug it off.

I’m not sure if it will be successful. I don’t even know if a publisher will accept it. Westerns aren’t the most popular of genres, but I don’t care. I’m past all that now. I write for myself, what I enjoy. This used to be my benchmark, and so it is again. I’ve discovered in this business, publishers don’t really give a damn. Not many others do either, and I can’t blame them. It is impossible to make yourself known in this business nowadays, so what is the point in killing yourself in trying. That’s my motto now. I write, for me. If someone else likes it, that’s a bonus. The world is awash with books, a lot of them are pure bilge, and authors battle like demented insects around a light bulb, all of them jostling for the best position. I see it and read it all the time; Twitter and Facebook alive with adverts and posts screaming out why you should read such-and-such book. I steer clear of them all. I suspect people do the same with mine, because yes, I do indulge. One of my publishers tells me to, even though it’s all a bunch of crap. Anyway, I digress. This book is going to be great fun. Great fun to write, hopefully to read.

Next time, I’ll detail subsequent chapters.

Stay tuned and thanks for dropping by.

If you are in the least bit curious as to what I do, please visit my website where you can find out a lot more about me, my work and where to buy copies of my book! If you like spies, adventure and Vikings, you’ll like my books. I write thrillers, historical and contemporary ones, and now Westerns! Yeeha!!!

www.stuartgyates.com

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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 – 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.

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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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