My next significant car was one I regard as my first ‘sensible/adult’ car. The first of only a few which could be classed thus.
When I say ‘sensible and adult’ I mean a four-door saloon. A large family car with plenty of boot space. (That’s the trunk to my American friends.)
That this model boasted a 2.9ltr, 24valve, V6 Cosworth engine was just a simple little bonus.
I loved my Maroon coloured Ford Granada Scorpio Cosworth. It possessed all the best luxury mod cons of the time; quick clear windscreen, electric controlled seats – heated front & rear, electric reclining rear seats, heated wing mirrors, a trip computer, abs and so on. In fact, Ford threw every luxury they had into this big beast of a car, which could accelerate to 60Mph from standstill in around 8 seconds, (quite a feat for a car of that era) and keep going to 140 MPH. I can vouch it could easily do that figure without panting… not on a public road, of course.
I could often be found relaxing in the deep leather armchair style seats, moseying along comfortably at 100MPH while steering with one little pinkie finger. It really was like the lounge of a ‘gentleman’s club’, but on wheels.
What was there not to love?
Now, this is where I associate this car to that of being an author.
You see, it is all to do with speed and luxury combined.
When I purchased my Granada Scorpio, I did so as a part exchange using the vehicle I was driving at the time… one which was so clearly insignificant to me I forget it entirely, except it was blue… possibly a Vauxhall or another Ford?… as part payment. The rest of the cost was handed over in a single cash payment.
As you can tell from the above, this was not a main-dealer purchase, but a small car dealer who specialised in Ford motor vehicles, particularly the performance models.
The Scorpio was not new, not even one which could be considered low-mileage. The rear wheel arches were showing the firsts specks of rust. (It was the poor quality of the bodywork which was the eventual demise of this range of Fords.) But it was what I could afford at the time. The few pounds I paid gave me comfort, luxury and satisfied my need for speed.
I think this is the same for us authors.
We may not be able to invest in the newest, latest, all singing all dancing computer, whether from a fruit company or a replacement glazing manufacturer, but we all should have the most powerful, fastest machine we can lay our hands-on.
The reason is, no one wants to wait too long for the processes to take place, the loading, downloading, deleting, moving, sharing of files. Neither do we want to be left hanging while surfing and researching, selecting and storing images, research papers or historical records.
We also need space for our cover images, marketing and promotional material, let alone sales records and accounts.
So, all in all, the computers we need… and I say NEED… must do far more, far more efficiently and comfortably than many are truly able, especially those which come weighed down with Bloat Wear, regardless of what the spotty youth on the shop floor may try and fob you off with, particularly when he finds out you have no idea what TWAIN, Crapplet, Thunking or Blob means when speaking tech-geek.
My advice, if you can upgrade, do.
As when I purchased my Scorpio, you do not need to buy brand new from a main dealer, from a bright and shiny store in a plaza, or an out-of-town shopping complex.
You could do what I do and have someone build you a bespoke system.
I use a local, well respected, tried and tested, computer repair and solutions company which has been serving the local community for many years, at least twenty to my knowledge… when I say ‘company’, I mean son, father and aunty, along with an odd friend, (who may have popped in for a cup of tea several years ago and never left,) who inhabit a small hovel, one which is almost underground, in a side street in my town.
They rid my machines of all the unwanted ‘bloat-wear’ freeing up many gigs of space, add or alter all those PC boards and ‘silly-cone’ bits n bobs, (upgrading maths coprocessors… I overheard that one once… maybe in 1992?), to create a fast machine with an amazing capacity for storage and memory.
My ‘big machine’ (one of those the above people worked their magic on) has such processing power, that for five years we ran the entire UK’s outsourced agency for a major insurance company from home. The system ran a triple screen set up, national communications and real-time monitoring, along with the daily business.
Now, I don’t expect you to need or want such a server in your home, but it does give an indication of how far you could go if specify bespoke.
This laptop, the one I am writing this very post on, says it is a ‘Compaq’, a brand which was absorbed by Hewlett Packard some time back. About the only original thing left is the casing itself. (No one wants to steal an ‘ancient’, well-worn looking laptop).
In it, I now run an Intel Core i9 with associated upgrades. All engineered for a fraction of the cost of going to PC World and buying a slower, less luxurious laptop.
Have a think when you’re ready to move on or renew your hardware. Can you get the performance of a luxury brand for the fraction of the cost?
Unless, of course, you prefer style over substance, why not check out your own ‘local’ computer man. Just make sure they have a good (& long) reputation and proven experience.
Okay, time to stop writing this post and get back to writing my books.
Catch you next time…
Just before you go, pop over to my author website and have a mosey around. I am sure you’ll find a book or two to tempt you.
I struggled to come to a decision about which car to include next in this series of posts.
I wanted to mention one which played a significant part in my life and that was proving difficult because, as I have said, I spent many years at sea and moving from one shore base to another when at home, so there was little point in owning a vehicle to leave it sitting idle for several months on end.
Which means I skip several years or so, until 1975/78 (ish), to continue these blog posts. Also, I am not writing about a car, but a Motorcycle.
You see, with me being away so often and for so long, I deemed it easier for storage and running costs, to buy an easily maintainable and reliable motorbike. Nothing fast or fancy, simply a small bike I could run errands with, pop down to the beach or for a run into the countryside, do a little shopping, commute and so forth.
£300 bought me a one-year-old Honda CB 200. A bargain.
For those who don’t know this model, it is a four-stroke, twin-cylinder, OHC, 2 valves per cylinder. 196cc, air-cooled, coil ignition, 5 speed, chain-driven, electric start, 124 mph high revving but very reliable roadster.
Now, back in the day, it was legal to ride up to a 250cc motorcycle without passing a motorcycle driving test. All you needed was to have ‘L’ plates displayed and off you went. That is precisely what I did.
After a few ‘test drives’, over the weekend; when I took the bike to the garages situated at the rear of my house, where I self-taught myself starting and stopping, getting used to the throttle, gears and breaks, I took the bike out onto the local roads in the part of the city I was living in. All was well and went without incident.
My next journey was one of around thirty-five miles. This involved driving out of the city, along a major route, skirting two towns and two villages before heading out into the countryside, along some narrow and twisty country lanes to a military installation, which never officially existed, at least not until it was decommissioned and sold off to a housing development company.
Anyway, this became the regular journey I made for several months, most times twice a day – there and back. I only had two incidents, both minor.
I only mention the first of these so you can laugh at me.
It was during a very cold and icy spell in December. I rode the bike that morning very cautiously, with due consideration for the weather conditions. It snowed during the night, a layer of fresh powder laying atop yesterdays melt, which was now a hidden sheet of ice.
As I approached the last couple of miles I needed to decide which of the possible two roads to take. Neither were main routes.
The first choice was to stay on the larger road and hope I could climb the steep hill and negotiate the final part, which was little more than a rough track.
My second choice was to use the smaller, twisting lanes. The advantage was, although longer in distance, this route skirted the hill, which I was concerned about due to the ice and only having two wheels.
I went with my gut instinct and took the back roads. I made the right choice, as I later learnt the hill route was closed due to the ice making it impassable. However, this also meant all the traffic heading west was diverted along the narrow lanes in the direction I was heading.
While I intended, when taking this route, to creep along at my own steady pace, I now had vans, cars and trucks moving far too slowly as they jostled to pass one another. I was managing fine, keeping a measured distance from the vehicle in front, until the whole line of traffic came to a halt.
Now, the bikers among you will know, once you come to a complete stop the rider must also contend with the weight of the bike along with its balance. To do this generally means taking the machine’s weight by bracing it with a leg. On ice, on a cambered road, this means the bikes centre of gravity alters, the tyres no longer have any grip and, on this occasion, neither did my well-placed boot.
The outcome is the bike slid out from under me and I hopped a couple of times before slipping and falling flat on my arse.
Righting a fallen machine on sheet ice is no easy task either.
Thankfully, the driver following me was patient. He smiled and nodded, letting me know he would wait for me to pick the bike up and get moving again and not mow me down. Although he declined to get out from the heated comfort of his car and help.
Personally, I think he found it the whole episode amusing and would, once at work, tell the tale of the biker taking several attempts to pick his bike up and then mount it and ride on. For myself, I felt I was auditioning for the Keystone Cops, stand up, grip the handlebars, pull, fall over. Do the same and with the bike halfway upright, the back wheel decides to slither off in another direction… and so on. All in the middle of a road with halted traffic, the drivers watching in amusement tinged with some annoyance of being delayed further. I admit it was one of the few time I have ever felt embarrassed.
Eventually, I managed to get back on the bike and complete my journey… but only in 1st gear. When the bike toppled the gear lever was bent upwards. meaning I could not select any other gear. Later that day, armed with a house brick and a hammer, I managed to straighten the lever, the intention to replace it once home.
I never did… because it worked better than before. The gear changes were easier, sweeter and more precise. This Luddite type repair proved effective enough to last the entire next few years I owned the motorcycle and, possibly many years after.
That’s the end of this week’s story.
So, I hear you asking, what has all that to do with writing?
Well, quite a lot really. I believe this tale proves at least two points.
The first is, many, probably most of us, are not trained writers. We have not a master’s degree in English literature, nor do we hold any journalistic diplomas. But we are writers and authors, professional ones at that and some of us hold a wealth of knowledge which simply cannot be taught in a classroom.
Just ‘doing it’ is very much how I first learnt to ride my motorcycle and then the following experience I gained from riding in snow and ice. I am now, by the way, an ‘A’ class driver (I have the certificates to prove it!)
So, achieving a high, professional standard of authorship is, I believe, within almost anyone’s grasp so long as they are willing to take the opportunity. Accepting they will fall off now and again but will get back on and complete the journey.
No one said it would be easy, comfortable, or without incident, but by golly, it is an awful lot of fun.
My second point is this; not everything in this world needs to be brand new and shiny. Often imperfect is as good, if not better. As was my Luddite repair to the gear lever.
Too often authors strive for literary perfection. While I’ll not say this is wrong, I do think the telling of a wonderful and captivating tale, one which connects to the reader drawing them deep into the (un)reality of your fantasy world, is far, far more important than having every genitive case or article in a perfect place.
“Jeffery Archer’s agent once told him, (in reference to Kane & Able); you will never be a great literary writer, but you can tell a damned good tale.”
For those of you who may not know of Jeffery Archer, he was a British Conservative politician, who fell from grace and was sentenced to four years in jail for Perjury. He is a survivor of prostate cancer.
Archer was almost bankrupt when he wrote his first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, in the autumn of 1974. This was followed by Kane and Abelin 1979, his best-selling work to date. Many of Archer’s works were adapted to radio, television and films.
To date, Archer has written 36 books; his international sales are estimated to exceed 330 million and have generated him more than £250 million GBP.
So, I guess writing a damned good tale is where my focus is, maybe yours should be too?
These stories explore the depths of human character, the quintessence disposition of living and of life itself. Questions we shy from, the ones we are afraid to ask ourselves are unearthed, revealed, brought screaming into the daylight of recognition.
The prevailing factor is, they are written with consideration for our fragile human propensity; the fears, the dreams and wishes, the uncertainties and self-doubts we all carry inside ourselves, the human elements of love, of life and of survival.
This is a collection of poignant, emotive, yet entertaining stories everyone should read, at least once.
Sort of following on from my previous post, ‘a Bit about Indies and Readers’, this article delves into the terms ‘Indie authors’, ‘self-publishing’ and ‘Indie publishing’ and is aimed at clarifying them… sort of.
“Five years ago, self-publishing was a scar. Now it’s a tattoo”….Greg White, Bloomberg News, 2016
Let’s not beat about the bush. I’ll get straight to the point.
This is the generally accepted definition of self-publishing.
Self-publishing is the publication of media by its author without the involvement of an established publisher. In common parlance, the term generally refers to physical written media, such as books and magazines or digital media, such as e-books and websites. It can also apply to albums, pamphlets, brochures, video content, zines, or uploading images to a website.
However, in recent years the use of the term ‘Self-Publishing’ has faded in use, along with its sister idiom, ‘Desktop Publishing’. Both have been superseded by the phrases, ‘indie author’ and ‘indie publisher’.
While both are often used as interchangeable titles, indie authorship and self-publishing are not quite synonymous.
Here is a breakdown of current publishing possibilities:
Authors do not pay any publishing-related expenses.
Well-established publishing firms include those often referred to as the ‘Big Five’: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan. (Including their dozens of imprints.)
These large publishers historically prefer authors with mainstream appeal, particularly celebrity or ‘brand-name’ authors. Partly, this is to guard against ‘risk’, all of which the publishers bear.
Typically, they offer advance payment and, on occasion, authors receive a slice of the book profits by way of royalty. Frequently, whatever the publishers offer is based on a two to three book ‘deal’, tying the author to the publisher for a period of time.
Publishers own the rights and control most aspects of publication, especially the design of the cover and the choice of a title.
Mainstream publishers can get books into brick-and-mortar bookstores, with whom they have a historic relationship, as they do with prime book distribution organisations, national and independent libraries. The large publisher relationships with other media and the press often ensure reviews in mainstream mass media.
However, many established authors now chose to independently publish. This is one reason;
“My first book went through so many different changes that when it released, I no longer felt like it was the story I originally set out to tell.”Author Sarah Grimm, on why she chose self-publishing.
Many mid-size traditional publishers offer the same or similar arrangements as the ‘big houses’.
It is harder to categorise smaller and independent presses as these vary from well-established boutique presses to ‘mom-and-pop’ start-ups who have little experience.
Many of these smaller publishers accept first-time authors, often they do not require agents to approach them but are open to ‘unsolicited’ submissions.
With the smaller presses, authors may not receive an advance, or they may get a lesser amount than with a ‘mainstream press’, but often they receive a larger share of the profits.
It is harder for smaller presses to get books into bookstores. Which can depend if they specialise in a certain area of publishing.
As Judith Briles said in a 2014 article on the topic,
“Small presses make their profits by selling books to consumers, rather than selling services to authors or selling a small number of copies to the author’s friends.”
There are intermediate arrangements between traditional and self-publishing in which both author and publisher bear some of the costs of development, sometimes called ‘cooperative publishing’.
A hybrid publisher may offer selected services to help an author get a book published, such as story editing, copy editing, proofreading, marketing and public relations, and promotion through social media and search engine optimization strategies.
Many of these firms have their own online bookstores.
It is important for authors considering a hybrid approach to fully understand which services will be included and at what cost.
It is also advisable to seek legal advice regarding understanding the technical and implicit terms of any contract.
Some hybrids offer less-than-ideal contracts, which make it hard for an author to exit the deal later. They can also take a disproportionate share of profits; one adviser suggests it’s ‘buyer beware’ when engaging such firms.
With this model, the author funds the publication of the book, (and absorbs the risks), sometimes spending thousands to get the know-how and editing skills of the publisher.
The quality of the services offered and the terms of contracts vary widely. As a rule, royalties are less than true self-publishing but more than traditional publishing.
Hybrid Books rarely get into bookstores. Authors should try to keep as many rights with as much flexibility as possible. Some firms are nothing more than funky assisted-publishing services which overcharge.
Vanity press… (Some Hybrid publishers fall into this category)
The term ‘vanity press’ is considered pejorative since it suggests a person who hires such a service is unqualified or unable to have their book succeed in the market, and as such the author is printing the book only out of vanity.
Users pay to have their books published.
While a commercial publisher’s market is the book-buying public at large, the vanity publisher’s market is the author.
Some authors buy substantial copies of their own book, which are then used as giveaways or promotional tools.
In this business model, there are often elements of fraud; which is why some vanity presses masquerade as legitimate publishers, pretending to be selective and choosy in their book selections.
They prey upon a would-be author’s desire to be published.
If a vanity press charges a higher amount to print a run of books than a regular printer, it can be an indication of deception and fraud.
These are businesses who charge fees for various publishing-related services such as formatting, cover design and copyediting.
They make their money from these services alone.
Authors retain the royalties and control over editing and cover design and title.
These businesses can be helpful to those starting out in publishing as the author can learn the process from experienced people.
However, a word of caution.
Where the company’s profit comes from can be your first clue into what sort of company you are dealing with.
Companies which offer further services to assist the author with publicity and marketing are generally not a good deal, although there are exceptions.
If you do decide to go down this route, seek advice and recommendations from established authors.
Note:Organisations which have pushy sales tactics along with companies who masquerade as traditional publishers by having authors go through an elaborate process to make them think, or at least feel, as if they are being accepted, where the author pays to have the book published and/or sacrifices an inordinate percentage of their royalties for the privilege, should be given a wide berth.
The author controls the entire publishing process from start to finish.
They can hire freelancers to help with wherever, and whenever, the author requires. Such as cover designers, copy editors, story editors and with formatting.
It is necessary authors thinks like an entrepreneur and ensures their finished book is a professional, high-quality product.
All profits and rights remain with the author.
Except for a few independent bookstores, authors will find it difficult to have their books displayed within physical bookstores and major ‘bricks & mortar’ retail outlets.
Indie authors are pretty much restricted in offering their books via online platforms, personal and local social networks, visiting book fairs, conferences, organising book signings at selected venues and finding other ‘creative’ methods of distribution.
Why might an established mainstream author choose to indie publish?
Perhaps author James Altucher can give an indication. Here he describes working with an editor in 2013:
“Nils and I went back and forth on more than 15 different rewrites for my book. The difference between the original version and the final version is like the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.”
“Indie authorship and self-publishing are not quite synonymous but an independent author will have self-published at least one book.”
Indie-Publishing… which is increasingly becoming the first choice for writers.
As self-publishing loses its stigma and its benefits via technology become more apparent, there are more instances in which new authors choose indie publishing as their primary route, as well as established authors leaving traditional publishers.
There are now greater instances of indie-published authors selling their books in major retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, Target, and Walmart, than ever before.
Partly this is because…
“Authors are no longer bound in their storytelling by what the traditional publishers think the market can bear… Instead, because we can go straight to the reader now, we can write exactly the books that we want to write and exactly the books that our fans want to read. We don’t have to worry about whether an agent can sell the book, or if an editor and publisher want to buy the book, or if a retailer wants to stock the book. Personally, I think this new open market can – and does – make for much more interesting storytelling.” Novelist Bella Andre in the Washington Post, 2015
The terms “Independent publishers” and “indie publishers” were until recently associated with small presses, to identify them as separate from larger, traditional book publishers. Over time, authors who wanted to maintain complete creative control over their books began to create their own small presses, which nowadays simply involves starting a business and little else.
Being a small press or an independent book publisher does not mean having a printing press in your basement. The rising popularity and ease of access to print-on-demand (POD) through such outlets as Ingram Spark and Kindle Direct Publishing have served to increase the number of indie publishers.
Of course, when mainstream publishers like Penguin announce their own self-publishing arm, it can be difficult to know what the hell is going on…. Except that we true indies now have them on the run… sort of.
“With self-publishing you don’t waste your time trying to get published, which can take years of query letters and agenting, and all this stuff. You go straight to the real gatekeepers, which are the readers. If they respond favourably and you have sales, you can leverage that into a writing career. If they don’t, you write the next thing. Either way, you’re not spending your time trying to get published, you’re spending your time writing the next work.”Hugh Howey, author of Wool
The real definition lies somewhere in between… sort of… and it’s not just semantics.
To end this rambling, here are few facts for you to mull over.
Historically, while most novels were distributed by established publishers, there are many authors who chose to self-publish, or who chose to start their own presses, such as John Locke, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Martin Luther, Marcel Proust, Derek Walcott, Walt Whitman, Janet Evanovich, Colleen Hoover, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe… along with Mark Twain, who also started his own printing company.
In 2010, according to a different analysis, there were 4.2 million new titles published. Much of the growth in new titles is because of indie-publishing.
In 2011, indie-published books made up 43% of all print titles, helping to increase overall growth of print production, according to Bowker market research.
Neither of the above figures relates to eBooks, whose increase in number were ‘radically higher’ due to independent publishing. (Bowker).
Some people say,“I only want to read books by professional authors because, in my opinion, they are far better quality compared to indie-published works.”
Others say,“People publishing through the big five primarily write useless, commercial drivel that the publishers demand, as it sells well. They are not real authors. It is the indie authors, the ones who are doing it for the love of writing, the ones who create original works that I love. They’re real authors.”
Being indie myself I must agree with the last statement.
As in most creative arts, such as music and film, original works tend to be far more creative, intriguing, thought-provoking and, let’s face it, enjoyable than mass-market efforts designed to create maximum profit by appealing to the lowest common denominator.
I am an ardent Indie Author who has written and Indie Published a large number of titles, in Hardcover, Paperback and eBook formats.
My books include a children’s tale, a glossy, music legends, coffee-table book; non-fiction books; semi-fiction stories; short story collections; poetry, and fictional novels.
Oh, and two special books just for Indie Authors & Publishers, both of which are waiting for you to download right now.
Many, if not all authors know writing is never straight forward; I am not talking about the technical aspects or grammar, but about finding the time to write when your mind is focused, when it is in the ‘zone’ for ‘that part’ of your story.
The Holy Grail of writing is when your thought processes are at a peak and you have the time, the undisturbed, uninterrupted time, to transcribe your contemplations cohesively into your manuscript.
Finding this Holy Grail has been an elusive search for me over the last year or so, regarding the novel I am currently working on.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking of writer’s block, that is something I do not suffer. It is also nothing to do with finding the time; I have written and published three books in the past year and I am working on three more as I write this.
I am speaking purely of the mental alignment of skills, mindset and time when in search of perfection. (Although we shall never attain such it is always good to have it as a goal.)
I should have published my story, ‘FLOYD‘ several months ago but I am still working on it in short dribs and drabs. I never seem to have the right mental disposition and the amount of time I need together; hence the book is half drafted and half a jumble of odd notes, part paragraphs/chapters and such.
By the way, I am not downhearted and this is not me moaning, although it may sound that way! It is just me clearing my head by sharing my frustration with you.
It is, however, a frustration I bought upon myself by having several projects on the go at once… and then tasking myself with more. Which makes it even more frustrating.
I doubt if I shall find much time to continue writing FLOYD before December… oh wait, then there is Christmas and family, followed by New Year and Friends… so, maybe I can continue in earnest come mid-January, or maybe February or…
In the meantime, I would love to know your views on this (first draft) excerpt from FLOYD. It is (at the moment) the start of the opening chapter, or at least somewhere very early in the story, as it sets the scene, a sort of preamble to introduce Floyd himself and the background of his, let’s say, delusions and future actions.
Oh, FLOYD is a revenge story, in the blood-bath slasher genre. It is not for the queasy… although this section does not contain any of the gore… that comes a little later, but it comes in big bucketfuls. 😊
FLOYD – an excerpt.
Floyd jumped out of bed with a start, uncontrollably staggering two steps backwards. In that half-awaking instant, Floyd saw his wife, Molly, lying with her hands above her head, wrists bound and fastened. Pools of blood soaking into pristine white bedsheets. The fear in her eyes sent shivers running down his spine and a cold sweat to form over his skin.
This dream happened every night for the past four weeks. But tonight, was the first time he saw anything in full colour. The other times it was blurry monochrome, or just a voice, a sweet, lilting voice whispering to him. Tonight, was different, it did not simply wake him but startled him into jumping from the bed. He could feel his heart pounding.
At first, Floyd thought the voice echoing in his head was nothing more than a remanence of a dream as he woke. He let it go. Tried to forget it. But the whispering came back night after night. First a giggle, then a sigh, which faintly smelt of spearmint, before turning into those softly spoken words. A voice so close he could feel lips brushing his ears as she spoke.
“Kill the bitch.”
“That’s the way.”
“Did you see the surprise on her face?”
Tonight, Floyd did not hear her voice; but he knew she was there, watching him. Smiling.
He blinked twice, shaking his head to clear the image from his mind.
Molly pushed the quilt away from her face exposing a tousled mess of blond hair. She half-opened one eye and, disgruntled, wearily mumbled, “What are you doing? It’s the middle of the night.”
Floyd slid back under the cover and snuggled close to Molly. It was a dream. It was just a dream he told himself as he shut his eyes. Her body was warm and comforting, but it could not dispel the dark foreboding lingering within his mind.
She groaned, slurred something unintelligible, turned, moving away from him. Floyd lay quietly on his back, willing sleep. Each time he began to drift off he was jerked awake by the vision of blood and the scent of spearmint. Sleep was fugitive.
At three-fifteen he carefully slid from under the covers, trying not to disturb Molly and crept downstairs. By six-thirty Floyd had drunk two pots of tea and re-read yesterday’s newspaper, twice.
When Molly eventually arose, he was grilling bacon for breakfast.
“I couldn’t sleep, so…” Floyd gesticulated towards the grill with the tongs in his hand.
Molly tore off some kitchen roll. “Put mine in here. I must dash, busy, busy day ahead. I’m not sure when I’ll be home.”
Floyd gave her a quick peck on the cheek as she headed for the door. With a half-hearted wave, she left, hooking the door closed with her foot. He watched from the window as she drove her Range Rover off the drive and along the street until she was out of sight. He felt a certain disappointment wash over him. He was hoping to talk to Molly at breakfast this morning about his recent feelings, his nagging doubts which were growing daily.
Floyd looked at the clock, six fifty-five. The house seemed exceedingly quiet; which, on consideration, was rather strange, because from three-fifteen this morning he sat alone, the only sound the rustling pages of the newspaper. The house was no quieter now than then but somehow the silence was louder.
Being alone in the house was something Floyd was becoming accustomed to. Since Molly moved companies she had become…become…now, what was the word…fixated? obsessed? with her job. When he commented on the amount of time she was spending working, Molly said it was a thing called ‘commitment’.
Whatever it was Floyd felt it was pushing them apart, an inexorable drifting kind of parting. One which was almost imperceptible day by day. But when he looked back over the months, the changes were there, noticeable, obvious, definite.
Molly generally ignored him now; she was always on the phone or laptop when she was not working late, or early, or both, or at the gym or the hair salon, or having her nails painted or legs waxed.
The main thing which irked Floyd most was none of this, not one little iota was for his benefit. It was all for her work. All those new suits, the blouses, the stockings and shoes.
Once, not so long ago, when Molly slid into a pair of stockings it was to tease him, to excite him. It was a signal sex was unquestionably on the agenda. Not any longer. It seems stockings were de rigueur in Molly’s new corporate world.
Several weeks back Floyd began wondering if she was having an affair. Maybe a seedy sexual liaison with someone from her company. He followed her one morning; sat the whole day outside her office building.
When she left the office in the evening, he followed her. She did not do anything other than visit the hair salon.
Which was a problem for Floyd.
Not that he wished for his wife to be having an affair, but because it left him with a dilemma. What changed between them? Why was Molly so distant? What, if anything had he done…or not done? These were unanswered questions; questions he wanted to broach this morning over those freshly grilled bacon sandwiches.
Floyd glanced at the clock again. Five minutes past seven. His first appointment was at nine-thirty, so he needed to leave the house around eight o’clock. As he threw his bathrobe onto the bed Floyd flashbacked to his dream: Molly spread-eagled, bound on the bed. Eyes staring in terror. He looked down at her.
He shivered. It was all too real, unlike any dream he experienced before.
While you wait for me to finish writing FLOYDI have many more books I am certain you will enjoy. Have a browse around my WEBSITEor check out my Electric Eclectic novelettes HERE.
This is a question I asked myself while pottering about in the garden.
It may seem like a simple question, one which has a very simple answer; the likes and the things we do listed, almost ‘bullet-pointed’ as a reply.
That’s fine, for most people.
But I am an author, a writer. To me, even those simple answers have hidden depths, more meaning and a thousand stories each to be told.
Here is where my writer’s mind went after I asked myself that question…
I know what I do, but I wondered if that was ‘just me’?
You see, I love travelling. I love to explore other countries, sampling their food, their culture, being amazed at wonderful vistas, cascading waterfalls, crazy cities, wild traffic and such.
I also like to travel around Britain, the place I live. So far, my favourite areas are the Highlands & Western Isles of Scotland.
The Llyn peninsular in Wales gets better and better the further west you travel. The very best being Aberdaron and Bardsey Island.
I reside in Yorkshire, the county known as ‘Gods Country’ for its stunning landscapes.
I originate from the south and was lucky enough to have lived in Kent, called the ‘Garden of England’, which kind of speaks for itself.
All in all, I love nature; landscapes, coastal areas, animals, plants, and grand views. I like red wine, cold beer, fine whiskey, food and some good company.
To my mind this is what home is all about, making a comfortable place with hints, reminders and touches of all the things you love. Pictures and photographs of loved ones, trinkets and ‘tat’ from all those places you have visited; be it a foreign country or the local park, it’s those little inconsequential, yet sentimental items, like a shell collected from a beach, a pebble from a mountain path or a serviette from ‘that’ café.
In a way that is what our homes are for, storing and sharing all those little things which bring back the memories from a life well lived.
We can also make our homes reflect the things which make us… us. Especially, at least for me, in the garden, the garden in which I was pottering when I first asked myself the question I am writing about now.
In this instance, I have ninety per cent completed a project I started about three weeks ago.
In one corner of my garden was a derelict, rotted and neglected raised ‘deck’. I built the deck about ten years or so ago from reclaimed scaffolders boards and, I must admit, was proud of the outcome.
The said deck, (holding tables, chairs, potted plants and lighting), hosted many ‘al fresco’ lunches and dinners, served as a ‘buffet’ table during garden parties and barbecues it even became an improvised office for my writing on the days the sun shone and the rains held off.
But, as many structures constantly exposed to all weathers, it slowly degenerated, until it was little more than a rickety load of planks balancing precariously on a few rotten cross-members.
After laying unused and unloved for so long I decided to rip it up, replacing it with raised-bed vegetable plots and a small seating area.
Partly this decision was to do with the ‘stuff’ I wrote about earlier, the travelling to places, the sampling of food and wine and such like.
You will see in the following photographs I have placed my potted vines along the wall. These have never produced any edible grapes or enough to make even a single glass of wine, not here in England, not with our weather. But they do grow some large and tender leaves which are perfect for making dolmades, one of those foods I first ‘found’ on my travels many years ago.
I have made one deep growing bed and two shallow beds. The idea is to grow ‘root’ vegetables, such as carrots, parsnip, onion and sweeds in the deep one, leaving the shallow beds for the vegetables that grow ‘upwards’; beans, peas, sprouts, lettuce and so forth… once the soil has been delivered, which is about all I need now to complete my task, hence it is only ninety per cent complete.
I already have an area for soft fruits and yesterday harvested a bumper crop of particularly sweet and sticky Gooseberries, the ‘Brambles’ (Blackberries) are beginning to set fruits and so still have many flowers.
This then, is my answer to my own question, “what do writers do when they are not writing?”
For me it is often gardening, but not simply for gardening’s sake.
Its for relaxation, creativity, frugality, satisfaction and for good food, healthy unadulterated food which I and or my wife will turn into some amazing dishes or preserves; some that will bring memories of a time, a trip or a place, flooding back, or maybe excite us, as we look forward to the next travel experience we have planned.
These are the sort of things I do when not sitting alone, isolated, eyes glued to the screen and scribbling away like a manic… I’ll let you finish that line!
However, I am curious to know what you do when you are not writing, please, let me know so I can be sure it is not ‘Just me’.
Keep Happy, Paul.
Don’t forget to visit my website,http://bit.ly/paulswebsitewhere you can find my latest books, including my Electric Eclectic Novelettes.
Once we have learnt about something, once we consider we understand it, think we have mastered it, we like to run with it, to keep it.
We are often loath to stop, to give it up… to alter anything.
Many of us are resistant to change, of losing the little comfort zone we made for ourselves. One can liken such to the reluctance of a child giving up a blanket, or a soother.
If we do make the move, we find it easier to be weaned, to slightly adjust, little by little, so we don’t notice the change, or at least that is how we convince ourselves.
The problem is, by the time our situation has evolved in a way which assuages our reluctance, we find we are far behind the madding crowd, so far behind we have little chance of catching up.
In these days of high tech communications and internet connectivity, it is now more obvious than ever before.
Only the fearful and desperate cling to what once was,.
Only the backward and slow reminisce and wish for those ‘good old days‘ when a Facebook post actually reached ALL your ‘friends’ and not just the 3 to 10% they do with today’s algorithms.
The same is true of your book promotions. This is why your sales do not exceed the minimal expectations you tell yourself are reasonable goals, let alone your wishes and dreams to become a consistent bestselling author.
To give away a book for free is an archaic, outdated and outmoded marketing model. One which no longer holds any credence, but one which so many still cling to with dying hope, like a gambler sliding deeper into depressive debt.
Paying another organisation to give your books away is a sign of utter desperation. A despondent cry for help, for someone, anyone to read your story.
In reality, it is authorship suicide; one you may never recover from financially and one which could leave your reputation in raggedy tatters, before you even start.
Book launches and parties no longer pull the crowds. They are a nice way to spend a few extra hours chatting with those you regularly talk to every day; to hear them say nice things about you, your book and “what a marvellous cover” you have.
But such events no longer attract readers. They have been overdone and done over, like an ancient, wrinkled whore, they no longer hold any attraction whatsoever.
Thunderclaps, Headtalkers, Daycause are little more than a (mostly) unseen flash-in-the-pan. A quick blast of tweets and public post which disappear down the scrolling stream faster than Usain Bolt running a hundred meters.
Authors, you NEED to find new ways to promote your works, ways which offer longevity rather than the promise of making a ‘quick buck’ or selling a few more copies of your latest tome overnight… for one night only.
You need to find a simple, ongoing promotional aid which is always working for you, even when you’re not working.
A low-cost way that won’t break the bank, or better still, a way which will pay you a return, a royalty, on your promotional material.
Now wouldn’t that be wonderful…
If only such a thing existed…
Well, such a thing does exist, but only for those who are prepared to move forward, to see the changing lights (mostly red ones) as social media platforms are brought to task and the hyper highway of freedom and unlimited possibility become more crowded, slower and, well… limited.
Even more so now Google plus is/has shut its doors. MeWe and Pluspora just don’t have the numbers or, as yet, the financial backing to grow fast enough or fight hard enough to take on the big boys… at least for now.
A small, but growing group of indie authors, are moving forward into the new dawn of altered perception, of interweb reconstruction and publishing future.
It is a group which, (at present), still has its doors open to welcome a few more indie authors inside. Authors with great tales to share, who are well crafted in penning a wonderful story. Authors who are serious about writing, about selling their books, about being authors.
So, what is this group and who are these indie authors?
Simple, we are Electric Eclectic. The book brand which is sweeping the internet.
This year 2017 has seen some seismic shifts in the publishing and advertising industries as major issues such as transparency (Note Facebook revealing their loss of Data a short while ago. This note added April 2018) and brand safety have taken centre stage. Next year is shaping up to be no different, as the industry looks ahead to key issues which will dominate the news agenda over the next 12 months and beyond.
“GDPR will hit in May 2018 and with just seven months left to be ready, many within the industry are only just learning about the implications. People are spending more time online across a wider array of devices and are becoming smarter at consuming online content. Consumers are hungry for real content and will be looking for ways to cut out fake news and time-wasting content by seeking out better quality content providers and starting to pay to access the best content.
2018 will continue to deliver opportunity; we all need to think about building interactive audio relationships via Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice controlled devices, and how virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR and augmented reality via the latest generation of iPhones will affect the way we communicate brand messaging to our audiences in new and innovative ways.”
“Native advertising has rapidly gained momentum this year and will continue to do so in 2018. With native ad spend expected to reach more than €13 billion across Europe by 2020, it is safe to say it is no longer just a buzzword, but an essential part of the marketing mix that is finally getting the recognition it deserves from the industry.
“As publishers look to focus on brand safety, transparency, and the user experience, I expect we will see more of a migration to native as developments in creative technology bring more flexibility. By harnessing the capabilities of programmatic, the scale and efficiency of this flourishing format will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Electric Eclectic books incorporate aspects of Native Advertising in their marketing strategy assisting indie authors book sales. The amazing thing regarding Native Advertising is most people will not recognise or notice it occurring because it is an almost subliminal method of carrying your brand message.
THE CONTINUED RISE OF INDIE AND HYBRID PUBLISHING
Traditional publishers may offer prestige, but also limited creative control and royalties. In recent years, independent publishers have accounted for an ever-larger share of the market, with the help of high-quality cover designs, writing, and marketing plans.
Last year, data showed for the first time the share of self-published books and books published by small publishers, at 42 per cent, was larger than the market share of big-publishers, at 34 per cent.
Ascendant is the phenomenon of hybrid publishing, which includes a variety of publishing models which straddle a middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Veterans of traditional publishing have left behind their larger companies to bring top skills and experience to the world of independent publishing.
More and more authors are opting for hybrid publishing, which allows them to hold on to creative control and royalties while benefiting from the best of the traditional publishing world.
LONGER SHELF LIFE WITH EBOOKS WILL MEAN INCREASED COMPETITION
With the rise of digital book listings, we are seeing a change in the lifecycle of books. When keeping books available depended on a limited quantity of physical shelf space, it meant books that no longer sold well were removed from shelves as soon as possible.
With digital retailers, there is no such premium on shelf space. With books remaining discoverable indefinitely, authors and publishers may want to take a fresh look at “legacy titles” – books published in the past that are no longer a focus for your attention.
Consider reinvesting in a new cover, book description, and marketing resources to revitalise these titles.
Remember, in this age of digital ebooks and kindle, the more books you have available, the better chance you have to grab your share of the crowded eBook market.
This is one reason you should have a minimum of three marketing branded books working for you and all your prime titles. Electric Eclectic (part of CQ International) is the fastest growing and most inventive brand. Take a peek at their Website.
MORE BOOKS, STAGNATING READERSHIP
According to Pew Research Center, about 73 per cent of Americans read at least a book a year.
This is a figure which has remained stagnant since 2012. Meanwhile, the number of books published in the US has grown exponentially since 2010. Self-published titles have grown from 133,036 in 2010 to 727,125 in 2015, an increase of 446.5 per cent. (latest full figures available.)
Getting your books to readers has, therefore, become an increasing challenging.
Authors need to work towards “discoverability”, working to develop their own audience as an author and creating strong brand marketing for their books.
Many self-publishing authors also face criticism for poor editing and packaging – with more books on the market, the pressure to create and maintain high-quality presentation is becoming paramount. Pay special attention to your design choices; editing and marketing can help self-published books rise above the rest. But a great cover is your first opportunity to attract readers to your book. A professional cover will help you gain sales. Check out PeeJay Designs by Paul White. They offer a professional, but friendly and communicative service HERE
AUDIOBOOKS ARE GROWING
Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the publishing world.
In 2015, the audiobook industry was valued at 2.8 billion dollars. 43,000 books were released that year alone, compared to 36,000 in 2014 and just 20,000 in 2013. (Latest full figures available.)
Since audiobooks do not follow the same agency model as eBooks, publishers have been more willing to experiment with distribution models for audiobooks. In particular, subscription models, such as that of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited platform, are on the rise. In a similar approach to Netflix or Spotify, the service offers unlimited access to 2,500 audiobooks.
While the cost of creating an Audiobooks is higher than most forms of book creation, including many hardcover formats, it is one of the publishing trends to seriously consider.
As with all relatively new markets, audiobooks platforms, production and distribution methods are only in their infancy, so invention and initiative are prime.
PUBLISHING TRENDS 2018 – SUMMARY
The publishing trends of 2018 are likely to follow the broader patterns seen throughout the decade; the rise of small publishers, digital platforms and new formats.
In other ways, the publishing world will continue to see a backlash to traditional, restrictive and controlled marketplaces during in 2018.
Keeping an eye on such trends can help publishers and authors get a sense of where things are headed in the years to come. The future will be about development, choice and ‘canny’ marketing.
The data reveal what some might consider a surprising generational pattern in book reading.
Young adults, those aged eighteen to twenty-nine, are more likely than their elders to have read a book in the past twelve months.
In 2014, there were more hugely successful movies based on young adult books than ever before. Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, and The Book Thief all appealed to a younger audience and may be causing this surge of interest.
We’ll have to wait to see if this is a passing phase or a longer-term trend.
The survey also noted women are more likely to be the book readers in a household. The average woman reader read fourteen books in the past year, compared with nine books for men.
In 2014, Pew reported that 50 per cent of Americans have a dedicated handheld device, either a tablet computer like an iPad or Kindle Fire, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook, for reading digital content. This is up from 43 per cent in September 2013.
While tablets are still the most popular electronic way to read digital books… at present, last month The Wall Street Journalpredicted they may be pushed aside by smartphones in the coming years.
In the first three months of 2015, 41 per cent of ebook buyers read digital books primarily on their tablets, according to the newspaper (citing Nielsen data), and 32 per cent read ebooks primarily on their e-readers. However, the publication also reported on a Nielsen survey from this past December that found 54 per cent of ebook buyers read on their smartphones at least some of the time. In 2012, that number was just 24 per cent.
Fortune cites reasons for the adoption of reading via smartphone:
“Convenience, of course, as well as ramped-up technology that makes reading on mobile phones a more pleasant experience. Smartphone screen sizes, too, are getting larger.”
Okay, that will do for today.
There is a mass of indicators which will need your careful consideration when deciding which tactics to adopt in your overall marketing strategy.
Chose carefully and wisely, invest well and reap the rewards.
Thanks for reading another of my rather out-of-character serious postings… my normal, regular Ramblings shall resume shortly.
In the meantime, take a look at the latest Electric Eclectic Novelettes HERE
Like many writers, I have a store of part written works. Literary orphans, many of whom deserve better parenting than I have given.
Some, are first drafts of short stories, ones which need attention before I could possibly allow others to set eyes upon them.
Some, are beginnings of new books and novels. Many are several chapters – or more – in length. A few far longer, yet abandoned and gathering dust in the archives of‘I’ll take another look at it, soon, one day, when I have time, sometime.‘
Some, are mere scribblings, outlines of thought, rough drafts of similar concept, or of unjointed notes, sort-of-bullet-points, fleeting notions.
Occasionally, I have pulled the odd page from the depths of neglect. In a few instances, I have reworked such a piece, even developed it into a viable story.
But those times are seldom.
Generally, when I unearth an old unfinished, partly written, abandoned tale, I quickly scan it, faintly recall its birth and return it, with a promise of coming back and spending some time with it ‘when I can give it the attention it deserves.’
Which is probably, almost certainly, a long way off from this current day, like… never.
We make the excuse of having more pressing and urgent tasks as current commitments. We enjoy the conception of creation, of having new babies in the making and we look forward to the birth of our next.
That is if they reach as far as the publicatory birth. If our current focus is not waylaid or distracted by another fancy, another attractive proposition of literary lust which causes us to forsake the unborn penned pages, formed only weeks ago, during our crazed desire to conceive another narrative fable.
We, as writers, are not good role models for caring and nurturing our creativities.
This is, as you can tell, one of the ‘things‘ which I have been silently musing over during the past however-long it has been.
I wanted to understand why I could not simply open a file, drag out the unborn foetus of past indulgence and continue writing where I had left off. Even a re-read and re-write, rather like a genetic splicing of characteristics, to take each past, abandoned child of mine, from infantile scrawling to full-blown manuscripted beauty and let them loose in the world.
So, I tasked myself to do precisely that. To wrench open the doorway of dusty archives and let the light flood in.
I was astounded by the mass of unloved writings huddled in the dank corners of my RAM. However, I was determined to make amends for the neglect suffered by these poor, unassuming, word documents. After all, they never asked to be created.
One by one I read the works.
By the time I reached mid-way point of the fifth part-work, I had my answer.
It is all to do with mood, muse and moment. At least it is for me.
Allow me to explain…
As I said earlier, literary lust and crazed desire set us on a special relationship in the attempt to conceive a beautiful outcome, a desired work of the bestselling nature.
While our mindset is concentrated, focused on a single relationship we flourish, some of us are capable of holding two, maybe three such affairs on a steady and productive track.
But each and all of these are balancing on a knife-edge of frustration, distraction and boredom. Unable to help ourselves, our minds are constantly on the look-out for other attractive propositions and exciting ventures.
Therefore, once our muse is diverted, the love for what is under our fingers wanes. Rarely is it lost, just lessened. It diminishes, at least for the present.
Then, one day we find these lost loves or that which we once begat from such a relationship; they reach out, arms feebly grabbing for our attention.
But are we ready to take them to our bosom once more?
Most time, the shame is, we are not. We are not ready or willing. So, we slam the door in their faces, committing them to the darkness of closed files one again.
Why are we so cruel in our neglect?
The answer I have found is that mindset I mentioned earlier. To pick-up and move forward from our past indulgences, we must rekindle the fondness we felt before, relight the old flame of particular creation.
Without us being ‘in the zone’ with regards to each individual story, we shall never see them grow into the works they surely deserve to be.
Maybe, to assuage your guilt, the shame and self-reproach I have now raised in your heart and mind, because of your own wicked neglect over your part works, maybe you should unlock the archive doors and take some time with your unborn literary children.
Bring them out of the shadows, let them dance in the sunlight of new development and re-writing nirvana. You never know what wonderful orphans you may have forgotten.
If you are looking for somewhere to home your orphans, then Electric Eclectic could be exactly the place you need?
Show your love; release your orphaned, lonely, short story(s) as an Electric Eclectic book(s) and let them help you gain readership and royalties.