Monthly Archives: October 2012

…t’was a storm and darkly night…what?…Cliches?…Moi??…

…my brain is certainly acknowledged to be mangled beyond recovery by those nearest and dearest to me, (and by Matron, God bless her syringe)…but every now and then comes a pinpoint of light at the far, far, far, far, far end of that dark, dark, dark, dark tunnel of comprehension…in my opinion, I never, never, never, never, never overuse words…nor, it must be said, do I employ cliches at the drop of a hat, that straw that breaks the camel’s back, gilding the lily, overstepping the mark,  or overstaying my literary welcome…as I say, cliche-less to a fault…my writings exhibit flawless, unencumbered, free of, not laden with, burden-free of redundant use of language…Scribbling, scrawling, penning, scrivenering without the use of ‘-ing’ words at the beginn-ing of sentences is a hallmark of mine…well, I think you get the picture…I possess the uncanny ability to incorporate ALL of the weasel-word-y, appalling traits of the nouveau-novelist…however, all is not lost…that God of Authors who beams benignly over our collective dictionaries has presented me this week with access to something  I want to share with my fellow quill-scrapers…a friend of mine, Jim McAllister, (who’s almost finished his superb debut novel —-watch out for his name soon), sent me the link to a self-editing critique software programme called AutoCrit… It identifies all the cr*p exemplified above—-overuse of words, redundancies, cliches,  starting sentences with present participles,  grades the readability levels and so on…If I give my friends on here nothing else  for the rest of my writing career, please take this advice, buy and download this software NOW…you’ll be amazed at how instructive and helpful it is…I have spent the last week using AutoCrit on my Work in Progress for my upcoming third novel, SAVAGE PAYBACK, and am truly astounded at the improvements it’s made for me…AND NO, I’M NOT GETTING COMMISSIONS from AutoCrit for this shout out, they don’t even know I’m doing this…so, no bullsh*t, try it guys and gals …here’s the link  :

https://www.autocrit.com

…now back to my meandering… where did I leave my participles, Matron…?

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…small but perfectly formed…ambition should be encouraged relentlessly…

…on my library shelves, adjacent to a well-thumbed Webster’s lexicon and the Idiot’s Guide to Learning 3 Chords for Guitar (Spanish, the plonking use of, for), sits my collection of Master Steinbeck’s best, a miscellany of Chuck Dickens’ works, and sundry other superb proponents of the scribbler’s art…Pride of place, however, is steadfastly reserved for just about everything imaginable written by and written about, Sir Winston S. Churchill, including his rather splendid four-volume offering , ‘The History of the English Speaking Peoples’, for which  he knobbled (Nobelled?) the Award of the Nobel Prize for Literature…Why, I hear you ask, is Master Gallacher rabbitting on about his bookshelf population, and particularly a long-deceased British Prime Minister?…quite simply this—the finest phrase to come from ANY statesperson’s mouth belongs to old Winnie…NEVER EVER GIVE UP… I’ll say that again for those of you snoozing at the back, there…NEVER EVER GIVE UP…I have tried all my life, and not always successfully, to follow that dictate…but I’ve found that when I DO stick with something I believe to be worthwhile, the payoff is incredible gratifying…Relevance, Master Gallacher, relevance??… get on with it … The relevance is this…having bumbled my way into this curiouser and curiouser labyrinth of self publishing author-dom, there have been many (call that hundreds) of ‘crossroads’ , moments, any one of which could easily have meant just packing it all in and doing something simpler, like climbing Everest backwards, or finding an honest politician…but Winnie’s growl kept rumbling away in the background there…and I’m delighted it did…to date, the trappings of being a writer include eyebags under my eyebags under my eyebags, insane mental committee meetings in my sleep of characters from my novel, (yes, Matron, I KNOW you record these), and an irrational but very tangible love for each and every one of the fabulous internet relationships I currently enjoy bantering with…step by faltering step, the masochistic manuscript marathon has led to Kindle best-selling success, and this month, seeing my beautiful little printed offspring decorate the commercial bookstores in Abu Dhabi…where it leads next only a band of gypsies with a dozen crystal balls could possibly foresee… and here’s the rub…I don’t care where it is, just so long as it IS…all of you intrepid fellow quill-scratchers out there will know the feeling… I exhort you to imagine a deep, gravelly, throaty, cigar and brandy-edged bass voice in your head, muttering…NEVER EVER GIVE UP…I know Matron.. I know..yes,..I’m getting back to bed now …

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…no apologies for my first short serious piece… you”ll see why…

…I’m a believer, but not of the Catholic persuasion, and a couple of nights ago, I attended a Mass for a dear friend and former colleague who’d passed away suddenly a few days earlier. The St Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi, here in the crossroads of the Middle East, was filled to capacity with a congregation made up almost entirely of Catholic faithful from the sub-continent of India. The Mass was led by an Irish Priest, attended by a Filipino gentleman who offered the readings. During the service and invocated prayers, from inside the cathedral we could clearly hear from outside the Muezzin, the person who calls the Muslim faithful to prayer, doing his duty from a minaret on a nearby mosque. It struck me very forcefully that here indeed was the melange of religion and freedom of prayer in all its forms, right in the heart of the capital of the United Arab Emirates. There were black, brown, white, and arabic believers, all in close proximity, doing what the rest of the world could perhaps be well advised to consider replicating… put aside all supposed differences and live in harmony.. It was a beautiful moment for me, and will be a cherished thing for me to take away if and when I leave this country ..may your Gods be with you all….Thank you for reading this far…

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…that’s what friends are for, yer Grace, innit?…

ALERT ALERT ALERT —This blog post comes with a ‘look out, he’s getting a bit philosophical’  warning.  My usual feeble attempts at levity in these missives will be marginally subsumed today. My great friend, and unbelievably talented wordsmith, Jay Squires, has posed a question which I think may interest many of our writing fraternity and sorority at large. The conundrum of free promotions on the KINDLE SELECT PROGRAM. Are they worth doing? Should we give away freebies? Do money sales increase as a result? Here’s my ‘umble take on it to date, and I emphasise, this is only MY personal experience .. it may differ from that of others.
Hi Jay
I’ll be glad to share with you (and any of our great writing family friends)  how it’s working for me.
From the outset, and as I continue to hammer on about in my blogs, the promo sequences are just a PART of the overall BUSINESS CAMPAIGN
to get the world to know about the books. The ‘BUILDING THE PLATFORM’ that I screech about constantly, I learned from the great advisory blogs of
Rachel Abbott (worth looking back over her stuff on her website, too).
The key word for me at any rate is ‘awareness’. Giving away books free on Kindle only costs me the potential sale to someone who MAY have paid money for it
(but in reality probably was unlikely to pay).  In effect that costs me nothing.The hope is that FUTURE sales can get generated from the continuing writings
(The third book is now 18,500+ words of Work In Progress).
Now, to facts….numbers of sales…in the four Kindle Select Program promo sequences  I’ve done in the last twelve months, the total FREE downloads between both books was about 21,500+.
Total OVERALL downloads between both books is now 45,000+ , so just better than about 1:1 ratio of  money vs freebies. (and, I dare say, considered ‘best seller’ numbers)
I’m content with that. As for spikes in sales afterwards, in honesty, they’re not spectacular. Some yes, but not greatly significant. I think regular sales
are sourced from getting to be a household name like Child, Macbride, Baldicci, and so on, and we know that takes years to establish, if at all.
As a relative baby in all of this, I believe that my own regular sales are a DIRECT RESULT of two things :
1. REGULAR ‘PAYING IT FORWARD’… doing ReTweets and FaceBook sharing of other people’s efforts, including doing Amazon reviews for them (honest reviews at that,—puff pieces
can ultimately be more harmful if the reviewed work is substandard).. being helpful to others is incredibly fulfilling and in itself generates enormous good will.
2. BEING ACTIVE REGULARLY IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS, (but NOT spamming), to the extent that relationships build up and get sustained. You’ll have seen my weekly
AWARDS lightheartedness. I keep a sheaf of hand-written sheets by my desk and I write down the names of EVERYBODY who has mentioned me in a positive way, or RT’s me etc, and they are on my
TweetDeck filter list as Favourite Guys and Gals. I change the Awards name each week, e.g. ‘Mega Mates Awards’, ‘Best Pals Awards’, ‘Great Buddies Awards’, to try to
keep it fresh. It’s my sincere way of saying THANK YOU to all who’ve been helping me along this fantastic trip. That Awards tweeting exercise I spread out over a day or two, usually Thursdays and Fridays.
These are not done automatically. I type out every name, every week, and that keeps my relationships fresh in my head. (That special list exceeds 300 names now!)
It takes the place of the FFs, and people tell me they love it, as it guides them to new worth while followers too.
Ancillary to all of this. I now have agreement from all of the three major book distributors in the United Arab Emirates to carry my books, including at their airport outlets. I hope to see that
expand across other country outlets and airports across the Gulf.
Now that I’ve responded to all of this. It’s gonna be my blog piece today!!
I hope that’s of some help, my friend.
Yours aye,
Seumas Gallacher
Anybody else out there wanna share their experience with this stuff, positive or otherwise, let’s share it, guys and gals ..
Cheers, I’ve gotta get back into bed before Matron brings the syringe …

 

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…bunfight at the B.O.—O.K. Corral…oh, how I wish…

…October 26th it was, 1881…  ah yes, I remember it as if it was only 131 years ago…the Mother of all gunslinger shootouts, and the spawner of a hundred legendary movies…I think it was an argument over lipstick colours if I’m not mistaken…suffice to say, things had to be settled one way or the other between (for 2), or among (more than 2)  competing parties…pretty much as I envisage similar hostilities on the approaching anniversary date, October 26th, when there may well be a vying for the prize of bringing the B.O.—O.K. s of Master Gallacher to the public arena, other than through the invisible miracle of the Amazon Kindle internet …this incredible self-publishing journey lurches forward in its next gyroscopic arc…this week, for the first time, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY and VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK appear in paperback form in one of the large local book distributors here in the United Arab Emirates…but, better still, there’s another TWO  ( yes, Mama another TWO)  of said distributor  breed engaging in earnest negotiations with yours truly to have them populate the shelves of book outlets at the airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai…is there no end to the joy!.. fast forward in time in Master Gallacher’s famous time machine…sitting in the swankiest of suites in (let’s say), the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair, (we don’t do poor) whilst the buyer combatants from the five biggest publishing houses on the planet indulge in the Bunfight of all Bunfights.. the Bidding War to end all Bidding Wars…to win the world-wide rights to my books  (plus translations into Sanskrit and Martian)…hey, is that Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday I spot from the side  of my eye?…surely it’s not that big a deal, or is it ?….ah, a man can but dream, eh, Matron? what did you put in the cocoa just now …I can see Jack Reacher begging his director to play the part of Tom Cruise, and Tom Cruise pleading to play the part of the author, but he doesn’t have the accent right…I feel so sleepy…so sleepy…so…

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…oh, cruel dagger, if you prick me do I not bleed?…Guest Blogger Richard Stephenson on negative reviews…

“Collapse” is Book One in a four part series. Book Two of the New America series – “Resistance” will be released in summer of 2013. “Collapse” can be found exclusively at Amazon in ebook and paperback. You don’t need a Kindle to download it. The Kindle App can be installed on your PC or smartphone.
        

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Criticizing Me!

Okay, we need to talk.  Gather round my fellow indies, this is a safe place. A happy place.  Relax and take a deep breath.  Pull up a chair, some stale coffee is on the back table but the doughnuts are fresh.Whether you are new to the self-publishing biz like me or have come to accept rejection and criticism like a pro after years or decades of writing, let’s be honest with each other – criticism hurts.  If you’re like me, your writing is a very intimate part of your soul.  You open up your very being and put pieces of yourself on the page.  In the simplest terms, you make yourself very vulnerable.

I knew going into this whole thing that Collapse would not be everyone’s cup of tea.  People’s tastes are particular.   I know my tastes are particular.  I’m a huge fan of the TV show Game of Thrones, however, I can’t stand the books.  I find them difficult to follow along with the dozens of characters.  I tried to read the first book and had stop about a quarter of the way into it because I just didn’t like it.  I think Martin is a fantastic writer, I just don’t care for his books.

Do you remember your first negative review?  I know I do.  The funny thing about it – it was a three star review.  The reviewer was not kind, claiming that my writing style was horrible and that my dystopian thriller was aimed at twelve year olds.  Not sure how a book with graphic violence and language, a racist skinhead, and the victim of Richard Dupree’s crime was material aimed at twelve year olds.  That particular review bothered me a lot.  It raised my blood pressure and upset my stomach enough to warrant some pepto.  Then another negative review, another three star mind you, came just minutes behind the first one.  This review made the claim that Dupree’s escape from the courthouse was lifted completely out of Silence of the Lambs.  This upset me even more because I couldn’t see the parallel at all.  Dupree didn’t cut someone’s face off and wear it as a mask or dress up a corpse in his own clothing to confuse his captors.  I chomped on some more pepto tablets and realized I had a serious problem to contend with.  If three star reviews bothered me so badly, how on earth was I going to cope with one and two star reviews?

Then I got my first two star review.  My stomach started churning and I could feel my heart pounding.  My hand was actually shaking when I clicked the mouse to see what horrible bashing was in store.  Was a grown man about to cry?

It didn’t bother me in the slightest.  In fact, I had nothing but respect for the reviewer’s opinion.  Collapse was just not his cup of tea.  He was expecting a different type of book.  He thought the book would be geared more towards survival fiction in the same vein as James Wesley Rawles Patriots.  He also wasn’t fond of the main characters.  I totally get that.  To each his own.

Did I write this blog post to garner your sympathy?  Am I fishing for your complements to boost my ego?  Not at all, far from it.  Well then, Mr. Stephenson, what is your point you may ask?   I hope that by sharing my experience that other indies will learn the simple fact that you are going to get a lot of negative criticism.  That fact might be obvious to everyone, you might even be waiting on your first negative review at this very moment confident in the fact that you are prepared for it.  I thought I was prepared and ready, but I was not ready for criticism that just defied logic and reason.  I was prepared for criticism about a great many things.  Towards the end of the book I wrote a love scene that I knew would offend some people, I was prepared for that.  I wrote several scenes containing graphic violence that I knew would offend some, I was prepared for that as well.  Much of Collapse requires the reader to suspend belief as a lot of fiction does, I was prepared for people to not being able to make that leap.

What I was not prepared for was criticism that, in my opinion, came out of left field and just flat confused me.  I had to fight the urge to leave comments on those reviews and engage the reviewer in debate, explaining my side of things and hopefully change their mind.  I decided against it because in my experience, once someone has made up their mind about something, it is often an exercise in futility to make them agree with you.  It often makes the situation far worse and in my opinion, is just not worth the time.

My advice, prepare yourself for anything.  Get ready for criticism of all types -constructive criticism that is tactful and polite, criticism that makes you ask yourself “Did this person actually read my book?”  Be ready for criticism that is harsh, rude, and even says your writing style is terrible.

Even better, if you can resist the temptation, don’t even click on the ones and twos.  ;)

SEUMAS :Thanks, Richard. Brilliant post.Great advice, that man.
Follow Richard’s excellent blog on   http://rastephensonauthor.blogspot.co

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…for all the true buddies out there, my Guest Blogger, Jody Ballard…

No plaudit for the merit of a good  ‘buddy’ system could be better expressed than the blog post below from my dear friend and writing companion, Jody Ballard. She, who constantly compresses five days of social and business events programming into one, and wonders why there’s no time left to do everything else she wants to do in a 24-hour spell… She, who reflects the truism, ‘Ya can take the lady outa Montana, but ya can’t take Montana outa the lady ‘,…read and rejoice in her wisdom…(oh, and I paid her to say all the nice bits about me…)

JODY BALLARD

As a guest blogger, I understand it is customary to bla bla bla or blog blog blog about myself. I am supposed to discuss my private practice as a relationship therapist, as well as my other life as a novelist. As a responsible blogger, I should announce my soon to be released first novel, THE SMELL OF MUD,  (wonderfully readable and erudite, if I may say so myself). But being a bit Bohemian and anything but mainstream, I would rather blog about my daily writing office mate where we convene in the windowed corner of a hotel lobby. I am introducing him from my perspective to the virtual world in much the same manner as I introduced him to the ladiesʼ groups of Abu Dhabi. Are you ready cyber world for the true nature of Seumas Gallacher? Prepared for the reality of it? I know his secret! The secret of what lies hidden beneath the kilt! …..oops no, no donʼt let yourself slide to the Fifty Shades mentality…..be good and keep reading.
Those who follow Seumas know his genre is Crime Thriller and he does a marvelous job of it. He entices, intrigues, shocks and amuses. He can keep a reader riveted just to see if he can manage to kill eight more people on the next two pages and make you grateful they have vanished from the book. For those who follow his blog, you know he is witty, clever and loves a good turn of phrase. His secret is a shift of paradigm, I am not sure how it will settle in the tweeting world. Okay, enough, here it is………

SEUMAS IS A SOFTY. Beneath the kilt and the Braveheart bravura  lies the softest, most tender of hearts. When we first met, I thought, okay, interesting man but he’s a banker, a trouble shooter, logical, systematic, timely and very organized. I fashion myself quite the opposite. I am a therapist by trade and an artist in my soul. I am an independent-spirited and  ʻdonʼt fence me inʼ kind of gal. So initially his most redeeming qualities in my view were his sparkling mischievous eyes and his VERY Glaswegian accent. I had to listen closely to his words to understand and months later, Iʼm very glad I did.

Today this combination of traits are qualities I appreciate much more as I see them working to help me systematically move through the world of writing, editing and hopefully publishing. YIN – YANG, BLACK – WHITE, ABBOTT – COSTELLO. Seumas and I are almost polar opposites, but we differ enough to be able to augment each other in clever ways. This has proven to be a wonderful formula for enriching our lives and our writing. Just this last week, Seumas asked me how many more times he might need to remind me to get my calendar in order and schedule social networking, and the business of marketing my novel. Seumas, who unlike me, actually wears a watch and always shows up on time with the right equipment, is correct and Voila! My guest blogʼs finished and word-smithed! My contribution to this system is to reinforce all the touchy-feely sides of novel creation, character development, the internal and external psychological reactions to events……… Together we are able to give feedback to each other and collaborate in a way I would never have been able to had I found someone who merely replicated myself.

Therefore, my not so embedded recommendation is for authors to find an opposite, to celebrate diversity, and together write exponentially better for having combined skill sets. No one is an island, no one singly possesses all the qualities needed to survive and thrive in this authoring world. Pair with someone very different from yourself or just seek out that person at the next reception who appears to think differently and your world will expand. Wrap your mind around those things you have avoided or considered mundane. My world is organized (today anyway) and I thank my book-end for this.

I would love to hear your ʻauthoryʼ ideas. I am @relatetojody or http://www.stratwellsys.com. I appreciate your taking the time to read this blahg, blahg, blahg. Remember now that you know Seumasʼs secret and be gentle to his tender heart.

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