Are there only two types of writers?

I was asked a great question from a wonderful lady to go on her own blog. She asked me about how some authors seem to set off to write a story, then somehow during the process the story can take on a whole new personality somewhat different to what the author had in mind. She asked me what my take on this was when I write? This was my reply.

Oh and by the way check out her blog it’s really good. It’s http://www.lindasbookbag.com

To me there are two types of writers. No matter what genre a writer may choose, whether it’s romance, a crime novel or even fantasy most novelists chose to write in two different ways. The first group could be described as the ones who simply sit down and write by the seat of their pants until their novel is complete.

Now I must admit I’m completely in awe of these authors. I believe Ian Rankin is one of these types. I’m sure I read somewhere that he goes off to his house on the north east coast of Scotland, sits down and simply writes until he has his first draft complete. No planning ahead, nothing. Apparently he doesn’t even know how the story is going to end or even who the guilty party is until he gets to the big reveal. This, he says, keeps the story exciting and it also lets the creativity of the writer flow.

So all in all I’m not going to disagree with the man. I mean let’s face it he’s one of the biggest and most successful writers around with millions of fans, so really he can’t be wrong, can he?

Anyhow, I’m going to put my hand up and say I have tried this approach to writing a number of times and failed miserably. The problem is for me I just to get into a story only to find I just grind to a halt as my story runs out of steam.

Because of this I have made the decision to join the ranks of the second group of writers. This second group being the ones who plan their work from start to finish trying to keep within the so-called narrative ark.

So this leads onto my book, The Burden of Truth and how I planed it. I will also tell you how, quite often my best-laid plans do not work.

When I first sat down and decided to write my novel I asked myself, What do I want from all of this?

The answer I gave to myself was probably what many authors would answer anyhow. Interesting characters, great settings, and a good strong plot with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader interested. So really no surprises there.

With this in mind I started on planning my novel and after two months of hard plotting I finally had a good idea of what I wanted to put into my book. Everything was worked out from the layout of the chapters to what the characters were going to do and even how they were to interact with each other. Everything was sorted from page one right to the end.

Now, with this plan all laid out I sat myself down and started to write, and all in all I was quite happy on how it was going at the start. Now I can’t really say how far into the book I was when I realised this happiness was somewhat dissipating rather quickly. Deep down I knew the book was not working. It needed more; as a matter of fact it needed a lot more. I knew deep down this story did not have a heart never mind a message.

So once again I looked at the plan. I also started to think again. Why was it not working and how was I going to add that little extra and make this story work and give it the heart it needed?

Then it came to me; the protagonist Brent. He wasn’t developing as a person. He was not moving on with his life in the slightest. Perhaps he was just going through the motions of life but not moving on with it. Now I knew where I could give the book some heart but the question was, how?

So there I was once again with my thinking cap on. Where can I get this heart? Then it came to me; Shantie! She’s one of the characters who Brent meets just after he has caused a bit of trouble so to say. Now let me tell you a little about Shantie. She’s a beautiful half English, half Indian lady who was brought up in the town of Bodhgaya in India. The town where the Buddha gained enlightenment. It was here where she learnt many Buddhist teachings from the monks around her.

Now I had an idea. Perhaps she could somehow pass some of these teachings over to Brent. With this he would have the chance to build and develop as a character.

Now I was happy again. Now I could move on and finish the story and give it the heart it deserves. However, to finish the story, I had to start again right from the beginning. Because I had made these changes to Brent’s character the original plot fell apart. Anyhow, I knew it was going to be a lot of extra work but I didn’t mind though because it was what I wanted and so it was, a year and a half later I had my first draft copy and obviously nothing like the first plan.

However, all in all I’m quite happy of the end result and I think my readers are too, even though the story took on a totally different identity as I expected.

Take care all and don’t forget. Live, laugh and love.

 

 

 

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What reviews mean to me.

Ok, hands up this time. In all honesty I can’t say this question was asked of me directly but more of a general question put to the authors of a Facebook group I belong to.(TBC. The Book Club.)

Anyhow the question was. Why does every review matter to an author?

So, after a bit of thought here is my answer.

Ok the first thing that came to mind was. What is the purpose for a review?

And I guess the answer to this, is to inform the general reading public what the reviewer actually thought of the book. Generally it is for the review to inform the reader if they thought it was good read, or in some cases not so and then to recommend it or not. That really is it in a nutshell and if it is not a personal attack on the author I would say this really is quite fair.

However, this is the purpose of a review but the question was. What to reviews mean to an author?

Now let’s have a think. Ok the obvious answer to this question has been mentioned many times before and that is they help boost book sales. Of course this is correct and the more reviews you get it is better because Amazon and others will help push your book through E- Mail advertising and the rest of it.
Then stating the obvious, the book goes higher in the rankings and at the end of it all, that’s great.

However, I must say not every author said this as you will see if you do read the Facebook post. Many authors did say they read the reviews for feedback about their work. Others have said they help them keep in touch with their readers and help to understand them more. To be honest I agree with all of this and many other answers of the authors gave out.

However, what does a review me to me personally? A review to me means all the the above and much, much more that that and I’ll tell you why.
We all know that every now and again book sales dwindle and rankings plummet. More so for the indie author and of course this happens to me as it does to every other author no matter what their status as an author may be. By the way I should point out that there is no way I would consider my status to be anywhere near high.

Anyhow, in my opinion the problem is that some sales dwindle way before their time is due. Especially for some indie authors and when this happens doubt about your work starts creeping in. You start to think your work is rubbish and only a few people are reading what you have spent years and years to cultivate.
Then of course many authors then ask themselves the questions. Has it all been worth it? Shall I carry on? Theses and other negative questions really do creep into your head.
Of course this is where frustration starts and when this happens it does bring you down a bit. By the way I know about this, also I have spoken to many other authors who admit to suffering from these feelings.
So what do I do when this happens to me? Well, sometimes I go and read some of my reviews and I’ll tell you it not half gives me a massive boost.
I guess I’m blessed in a small way that quite a few people have read my book and enjoyed it and have left some cracking five star reviews.
However, there are many authors out there who have written some great stuff, and because of this their work has deservedly sold quite well.
Now the problem is because some of these authors have just started out, many of them have very few reviews to look back on. As I said its not because their work is not up to standard, quite the opposite, it’s very good. It’s just that their readers, even though they have enjoyed the book still haven’t left a review stating they have.
So what I’m saying is if you have read a book and enjoyed it, the best present you can give that author is to leave a review. It needn’t be a lengthy review, perhaps just a few sentences will suffice.
Not only will it help the author get more deserved sales it will also give him or her just that little boost, just to let them know it’s all been worth it.

And that is what a review means to an author.

So go on, leave a review and make an author happy.

That’s all for now folks. Take care until the next time.

A Special Thank You.

Well, the other day I got the shock and surprise of my life and I’ll tell you why.

 

Every now and again when talking to various writers I have heard something like, “Wouldn’t it be such a thing if you were on the tube and you saw someone reading your book.” Or perhaps you are visiting someone’s house and you see on their bookshelf a copy of your latest novel. Now I would imagine if this were to happen the feeling would be absolutely fantastic.

Now, this hasn’t happened to me and let’s be realistic it probably won’t but if it does I can’t really see the feeling being any where near than what I felt yesterday when I was quite happily sitting at the kitchen table reading Desperate Measures by Angie Smith.

At about three-quarters of the way through the book I could not believe what I read and believe me I nearly jumped out of my skin.

“I see you’ve stolen her Kindle.”

“She loaned it to me, besides, she won’t need it now. Anyhow, I’m reading Peter Best’s, The Burden of Truth. It’s an amazing book, you’d love it.”

To say I was stunned when those words leapt of the page at me would be the understatement of the year without a doubt. With this I want to say a big thank you to Angie Smith. I have never been so honoured in my life.

Thank you so much.

Another great question!

What was the idea behind the dominos on the book cover of The Burden of Truth?

When The Burden of Truth was just about all done and dusted as a novel, the time had come to think of the cover. I remember this time very well indeed. All the re-writes had been done, all the required edits had been made, proof read and everyone was happy. The only thing left to be decided was the final cover version.
At the time I had a few ideas floating around in my head and even had a few draft copies made. All in all I was very pleased with what had been produced and I had a good feeling about them. Problem was, every time I looked at them I wasn’t one hundred percent happy with what was in my hands. However, what was good I knew exactly what the problem was. They looked good but did not portray what the story was about. All in all what I had produced was two covers that looked very artistic and that was about it.
Anyway, I showed them to my daughter and she loved them. However, she said the same as what I was thinking. She also said that they look good but don’t say anything about what is in the book.
So I said to her, “Well, what do you think would be a good idea for the cover?”
Instantly, she came up with the idea of falling dominos. As soon as she said that I knew exactly what she was thinking.
Now then, If any of you have read my novel The Burden of Truth, one of the things I hope you have noticed is there are one or two messages hidden between the lines. One of these messages centres around the subject of karma.
Now, a lot of people are under the general impression that karma means if you do a good deed for someone then something good will happen to you in return. Now I am not saying that this is incorrect as over the centuries karma has been discussed and interpreted in many different ways. Also I’m sure that many will say this is a correct statement. However, as I said there are many other interpretations.
One of these interpretations is that, actions have consequences. Or in other terms, for something to happen then something beforehand must happen.
I know this is a simple statement and fairly obvious. However, if you delve right into the meaning behind this statement and I mean deep down into the nitty gritty of it all, it can have some far reaching complications, believe me!
In The Burden of Truth I just dip my toe into what this statement really means. However, if you read the story and spot the messages running through the lines you might just get an idea of what this statement means.
My young daughter, who has taken a great interest in the story picked up on this and said a picture of falling dominos would show the version of karma that is in my book. One domino falls and the reaction is, it knocks over another and so on and so on. Actions have consequences!
Instantly I knew this was a great idea and so the next day there I was working away with my camera and lights etc. A few hours later with the help of Photoshop I had some more draft covers and boy was I pleased with them.
So to cut a long story short a few weeks later I had in my possession three potential covers all with the domino theme. The problem was I was still not sure which one I was going to use, even though I was leaning towards a particular favourite.
Again my daughter came up with an idea.
“Put it to the vote,” she said. So that was that my new task ahead! I asked everyone who had already read my book as well as a few selected others which cover they thought would go best with the story. Almost everyone said the the one that was my favourite. As luck would have it, it was my daughter’s also. So that was that. Decision made!

What a great question! If I were to read The Burden of Truth what would it give to me?

If I were to read The Burden of Truth what would it give to me?

Well another good question; actually a great question!

Really the first thing I should say about this question is that it is very difficult for me to answer! The reason being; we all know that every person who reads has their own personal preference when it comes to picking a book. Each and every reader has different likes and dislikes and not just genre. Some readers love getting to grips with a good plot whilst others fall in love with certain characters. The point is; all readers look for, and get different things out of a a book. Any book, not just this one.
So! If I can’t answer what a reader will get of of this book, the best I can do is re-phrase the question to… What can I hope, The Burden of Truth will give to a reader.
First thing I would hope for, of course would be that the reader would receive many hours of entertainment and enjoy the book. Now I’m not trying to be boastful but I have been told by others that my novel is… ‘Well paced with interesting characters. I have also been told it has an interesting plot with more than its fair share of twists and turns, dramatic and full of suspense.’ As I said this is what has been said to me in the past.
The thing is, I know, just as well as you all do, just about every author in the world would say something positive about their novels. However, the question has been asked so I feel compelled to answer it. So, what do I hope readers will get from The Burden of Truth? Answer; enjoyable entertainment!

However, that’s not all; not by a long chalk!

When I first set out to write The Burden of Truth I wanted more than just a story. I wanted more than readers to read it and say, ‘Hey, good book, interesting plot.’ Then leave it at that.
What I wanted was the reader to think about this book for a long time after reading it. I wanted this novel to get under their skin so much they think about its contents for a long time afterwards. That is why there is nothing that pleases me more when other readers go just that little deeper and tell me other aspects to the story that they loved.
So to answer the question further; what else do I hope will the reader get out of my novel? Well, really it depends on how far the reader wants to delve into the book. If the reader wants to delve a little deeper and finds and understands the message of the story then obviously I hope the reader may get a bit more out of it. Let me explain.
There are many messages within the book, that is plain to see when you start getting into the nitty gritty of it. However, some are hidden between the lines. Ok, I admit there’re not very well hidden as really I don’t want the reader to work that hard. I’d rather have the reader enjoying the book instead of working through the book trying to analyse every page looking for a remote message. I know others authors think differently and will disagree with this. However, this is the way it think it should be; certainly for this novel anyway.
Now then, if the reader does wish to delve into the book and discover the hidden messages and understands them and to a certain degree acts on them; possibly he or she may well gain something just that little extra out of the story. It could be that this little extra may be that the reader may just get that little more out of life itself! Perhaps; perhaps not only time will tell on this one.
To explain this a little further, I’ll tell you a little about the book. Hopefully, I don’t think I will spoil the plot so much if I tell you one of the characters gets into a bit of trouble right at the start of the book. Later when things have died down a bit he decides to look at his life and with this new outlook he starts trying to live his life to the full. As the story moves on, hopefully you will be dragged into his thoughts and actions towards his quest. He learns many lessons of life from others he meets on his way. Some wise, others not so. So perhaps this is the answer to the question! What do I hope readers will gain from reading The Burden of Truth? A few lessons about life!

Best leave it at that for now, take care all LLL.

Bot Front cover

Inspiration from the mundane. Who would have thought it!

Have you ever been inspired by mundane things?

Well this is a question I didn’t expect I was chatting to a few of my friends the other day.
I often get asked about inspiration in general but I certainly can’t remember ever being asked if I get inspired by anything mundane. However not to be outdone I did actually think of something and the answer I gave back was of all things; a garden gate!
Anyhow this answer was received with a bit of a disbelieving laugh from my friends. However in a way it’s true but I must admit it wasn’t just an ordinary gate, it was a rather nice wrought iron gate, but it did open up into a rather nice garden.
Ok, so I’ll tell you a bit about this gate and how it made me think about things. At the time I first saw it I was immediately intrigued by a rather large symbol on the front.  Hopefully you can all see the attached photo and see what I mean by this. Now I will admit I did have an advantage and I did have an idea what this symbol meant as I had seen it many times before. It’s the emblem of the Western Buddhist Order.
However, it was when I looked at this gate I started to look a little behind the meaning of the symbol and what the shapes and icons mean.
By the way I should point out I was reading Dan Brown’s, The Da Vinci Code at the time. For those who have read this book will know that Professor Langdon’s job was lecturing symbology. I’m sure you all know this means looking into the meaning behind symbols and what they stand for. So it was probably the influence of this book that made me look a little harder into the meaning of this symbol sitting proud on the garden gate.
Now at this time I was plotting my first novel, The Burden of Truth. At the time I needed a certain something in place to make the story work just that little better than what I had already in place. I needed something just that little bit extra; something not too out of the ordinary but still interesting to round the story off. Happy to say I did have a few ideas but somewhere in the back of my head I was still not quite sure about them and how they would work out.
Oh yes, another thing I should mention is that when I first saw this gate I was with a Buddhist Order member at the time so I was extremely lucky to have her explain to me all the intricacies of the symbol. She was great and it was when she was explaining all of this I came up with an idea!
Now this is where I have a problem because I would love to carry on and explain what and how this idea manifested into my novel.
The problem is; if I do then that would blow the hole story and spoil the ending for those who haven’t read it yet.. So really I do have to be careful here and not say much more about this so called flash of inspiration. Well at least for now because it really would spoil the twist. But what I will say there is something else apart from the symbol in the middle caught my eye.
If you all look down towards the bottom of the gate you will see some shapes painted gold.
I can tell you these are vajras; again a part Buddhist symbology. In the second book of The Sandler trilogy a certain vajra goes missing. The idea for this plot-line also came from this gate.
So there you have it. Have I ever been influenced by something mundane? A garden gate!

Garden gate

The argument continues. (But this time with science.)

Ok I’ve just been asked the question from what seems to be one of my younger readers. “What do I prefer, a proper book or do I prefer to use a Kindle?”
Well this is getting to be an age old question that many readers have asked each other probably since the Kindle was brought out in 2007. And it looks like since its birth there seems to be many arguments for and against the Kindle.
Now I remember a few years ago I was asked this and the answer was that even though I still buy some books my preference is indeed the Kindle.
I also followed up my answer with my reasons stating what I’d thought then were the great advantages of the Kindle over real books.

Now then, when I think back, about five years ago I was given a Kindle as a present and I loved it. And to be honest even today I still do a great deal of my reading from the same Kindle. I must say I have spent many a happy hour reading this way and I guess I love the practicality off it.
Now, I am quite certain many of the pro Kindle supporters can rattle off some great features that this device has to offer. I mean I’m sure you all are well aware you can store hundreds of e-books and it only takes a few clicks here and there so you can have almost any book you wish within a few seconds. And I’m also sure that all of you know all about the many other features the Kindle has to offer. For example my favourite, the look up feature is quite amazing. Highlight a word then a couple of clicks and bang; all of a sudden you are faced with a wealth of information on the subject. All of these and others make the reading experience so much better.

So there you have it; the Kindle is much better!

However, on the other hand there are many other readers sitting on the other side of the fence shouting at me and saying something like, “Hey, there are some great disadvantages associated with a Kindle. A Kindle cannot replace the enjoyment of browsing through a bookshop searching for your next read. A Kindle cannot cannot replace the feel and smell of a new book, or an old one for that matter. And it’s simply just not the same in the winter sitting by a log fire reading from a Kindle.”

So there you have it again; real books are much better!

So now I’m starting to give this question a bit more thought as I do agree with the second lot as well. All in all I must admit I still love to have a real book in my hand if the truth was known. So with this little thought in my head I’d thought I would do a count up of the books I have purchased over the last year or so. In all honesty I was quite surprised that I have indeed bought more physical books than e-books. Not only that, I have also read a good few of the unread paperbacks that have been on my bookcase for the last couple of years.
So does this mean the answer to the question now must be that; I have done a u-turn and now I prefer physical books against the Kindle.
It certainly looks that way as the percentage of books read was something like 70%-30% in favour of physical books. So there you go, the question is now answered, I can’t deny the figures and it looks like my tide has turned and I’m starting to read real books again.
However, what is much more interesting; it looks like I’m not alone! I have just been informed (Via Facebook so it must be true) that nationally the trend is turning back away from e-books. For the last few years e-book sales have been on the up but now it looks like they have steadied and the sale of physical books are now starting to rise. So all in all I guess that really is good news all round; especially for the small high street bookstore.
However for some reason or other I have the feeling it is a little more that what we have mentioned above. I was wondering what this could be. I then came across an article that showed a little about peoples reading habits when they read from e-readers. Basically it says as the title of this article suggests; Science has some great news for people that read real books.
So have a look and see what you think about this. I have somewhat shortened the article and just mentioned two of the main points. However if you want to look at the full article I have left a link for you to follow at the end of this post.
Anyhow it seems that a researcher named Anne Mangen from Norway’s Stavanger University carried out a study that showed readers who read from a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering the order of events of a short mystery story than those who read a print version.
Now I must admit I can’t recall ever having this problem with events, however I noticed that I sometimes I have to go back and look up some names of characters every now and again whilst using a kindle. Not so much the main characters but some of the sub characters. In addition to this I have also noticed I do tend to press the back button to recap on various parts of the novel.
Anyhow It turns out that when we all read from a Kindle we read in a sort of F pattern. This means that we read the top line of a page and then scan through the rest of the text concentrating on only the left hand side of the page and skim reading the rest of the text.
So that’s another big point for the real book side to shout about. Now here’s another. It seems that readers from e-readers somehow lose their empathy. The study showed that these readers who read an upsetting story were less empathetic and experienced less immersion than those who read on paper.
Now if all of this is true, and somehow I suspect it is then it all boils down to; we don’t concentrate when we read from a Kindle as should do, and we lose the ability to think deeply.

Once again guys just my take on this but it’s has made the decision just that bit easier for me. More real books for me it is!

Take care all.