Whilst I only consider my writing as a bit of a hobby that I would like to make some money off of, I am noticing that the only way to get anywhere is with endless self promotion. I do not want to appear pushy but it seems you have to shove your work under everyone’s noses, whether they want it there or not. It is a constant; look at me, I will read your stuff in the vain hope you will read mine and have I told you I have written a book (what only about a thousand times)? In an area that is so crowded, it feels like I am the proverbial plate spinner and have to keep running back to each plate to give it a quick spin, not being able to stop to reflect on where I am. The interconnection of different sources and being able to post in one place and it then appearing on multiple platforms does help but it also feels like a hard slog of repeating information. On the back of all this I have decided to create a new platform in which to promote myself, well actually it is the obvious one. Basically to add to Twitter, Shelfari, Wattpad, Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing and this here blog I have created my own facebook page. This can be found here. If you want to like it then please do, although I should say I wont be offended if you don’t. It may be a case of seeing my post in multiple places as when I tweet it appears on facebook and when I update my status on Wattpad it tweets then appears on facebook and when I review on Shelfari it….oh you get the picture. Right, I am now off to think about where to promote next; Independent Author Network, Whizbuzz, Author Marketing Club? I think I’m going to have to make a list of websites, usernames and passwords before I go a bit made and start shouting at crocodiles! What? There are no crocodiles in England? It’s started already!
Whilst surfing Twitter the other day I came across a new campaign run by Waterstones to get people into reading by sharing their experiences of fantastic books. This could be seen as rather commercial as it is by a bookstore but I think it is a great initiative. Books are powerful tools that allow us to escape the real world and build upon our imagination. They also give us the opportunity to learn things and change the way we think. The Book That Made Me campaign is not just about the first book your read or the one you really loved the best but the one that has made you who you are. I could talk about my love for James Barclay books or the brilliance of Terry Pratchett who first got me into reading as a hobby rather than being forced to (he didn’t come round and beat me around the head till I started to read, it was his books!). One book, however, made so much of an impression on me I feel it changed my whole life. That was a book by well-known TV presenter and author Danny Wallace. The book in question is Yes Man, if you have not read it then I highly recommend it. It is nothing like the movie of the same name with Jim Carrey, in fact only the premise is copied in the film. The book is based on a true story like much of Wallace’s work. He and Dave Gorman are known for their boy projects where they follow through on strange ideas such as finding fifty-two Dave Gormans (sorry, fifty-four including jokers!) or creating their own country. In this case the boy projects had got Danny into trouble and he had split up with his girlfriend. He was constantly saying no to everyone and hiding away in his flat becoming more and more unsociable. When on a bus he met a man who simply said to him, ‘you should say yes more.’ The book then follows Danny as he decides to say yes to everything. This leads him into trouble as well as some really exciting adventures. It shows how your whole world can be turned around by being more adventurous and simply saying one word. I know that saying yes to everything is silly but in the end it all works out for Danny and starts an amazing new chapter in his life. At the time of reading I was suffering badly with anxiety disorder, I did not want to travel far or leave the house much. I had managed to get myself to university but was nervous about the whole situation. There were so many times I said no just to be safe and missed many opportunities.
The book changed my outlook on life, it got me to think about situations and say ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ I stopped beating myself up when I said no as I started to think, ‘am I saying no because I am worried or do I really not want to do that?’ It pushed me to think about what I was actually thinking and know that if anything bad happened I could cope. After reading the book I easily got a first in my degree as I knew that is what I wanted. I started going out more and enjoying life. I had always wanted to travel but had only been to England and France, anxiety stopped me heading off my island of Guernsey too many times. Since reading the book I have also travelled to the Czech. Republic, Italy, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Belgium, Croatia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. I meet my wife at university and it was the idea of saying yes that helped me. I would never have approached a girl I did not know before. So here I am married, a child on the way, almost completed a Master’s Degree and am living miles from where I was born. Not all of this was down to reading Yes Man but it was definitely a large push. Even now I look back and think about where I came from and where I am now. I do not ever want to be in the position I was when I was signed off work, panicking multiple times a day and constantly shaking. Willpower and determination were characteristics I had that helped me through but I do think the experience of reading Yes Man was a massive help. I can still see the cover when I make a big decision even now. So Danny Wallace I thank you. Right I am now heading to The Book That Made Me website and submitting my story. Why don’t you submit yours?
Whilst I watched a lot of Trek when I was young, I was never really a massive fan. Wars, yes Wars is where it is at. I fell in love with Vader, Chewbacca and R2 when I was younger and in the Trek vs Wars debate I always came down on the Wars side. For me Trek was too much talking and stories quickly wrapped up in the last five minutes of a show. Wars was expansive, intriguing, full of battles and big set pieces. It had a villain you just could not hate and was far far cooler. Despite the debacle of Episodes 1 and 2 (I love the clever story of Episode 3 and the dark moments such as Anakin killing young ones and order 66 so will not have a bad word said against it! Ok the acting was terrible, you can have that!) I have never lost my love for the saga. Trek, on the other, I discarded some years ago like some child’s toy found at the bottom of a draw when finally moving out of your parents home, feeling myself to old and mature to watch. It didn’t give me that childhood charm like Wars. Recently, however, I was invited to go see Star Trek Into Darkness with some friends. I don’t visit the cinema much so though, ‘what the heck, I’ll give it a go!’ I decided to pop the first Star Trek reboot on high priority on my LoveFILM list to make sure I had seen the prequel. Late one night I watched it and thought it to be decent viewing, nothing special but better than the Star Trek I had watched as a kid. Now mildly excited I went to see Into Darkness. Now that was a much better film. It had the morality and discussion of the series I had fallen out of love with, but also action and excitement with enough comedic elements to keep it fresh whilst not being over the top. But there was one scene, only a little scene, but a scene all the same that got me more excited than I could thought I could be. At one point Scotty is given some co-ordinates and takes a shuttle to check them out. As he flies round a small moon we get a shot of a planet, a planet that looks like Tatooine. It made me think, ‘this guy is directing Star Wars as well, I hope it’s this good!’ Into Darkness had dark elements as well, double-crossing and breaking of rules by a rebel with a cause, a just and right cause. What it got me thinking then was, does the improvements in the new Star Trek films bode well for the new Star Wars films as J.J. Abrams is directing these too? He also directed one of my favourite US series, Lost. Well the pilot episodes but those were some of the best. If Abrams can keep the dark feel and stylised visuals he has got with Star Trek then at least the films will look good. Acting in the new Trek is good as well so hopefully we wont get any of that horrendous Portman and Christensen false love stuff that makes you shudder with every syllable. The only thing then is the script, with what has been learnt about comedy from Jar Jar Binks then we can only expect this to be improved. As it is written by Michael Arndt, the likelihood is that it will be pretty good (well I am only really saying that from watching Toy Story 3 and Brave!). All in all those Disney concerns might be being pushed to one side and if Star Trek is anything to go by then the other Star franchise should, hopefully, be reborn successfully this time.
Before getting started on this post I would just like to point out that I do not dislike American TV, some of my favourite shows are American (Lost, Once Upon a Time, The Mentalist, The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead). This post is simply about the way that British and American TV does different things. Whilst I think some shows over here could do with the big budget American twist, some shows are decidedly less because of it. Dr. Who, in my opinion, is one of those shows. I understand that it is now extremely popular with our cousins across the sea but it is a British institution. There are some slight annoyances with the American way of doing things that I feel do not fit with Dr. Who. Firstly is the idea of splitting a series (yes it is a series, not a season!). It frustrates us Brits, we don’t mind a series finishing on a cliff hanger but to stop it half way through for no apparent reason seems silly. I understand that Amy and Rory going was a big thing, but to stop there was not right in my opinion. We did not need a Christmas special then, surely Clara could have been woven into other stories. That may have added more mystery and you could have had many adventures where she turned up before becoming the Doctor’s assistant thus building more intrigue into her character. The thing, however, that I find American TV shows like to do is create self-contained stories with a nice start, middle and end in one forty-five minute show. As you can see from the American shows I love, these break from the mould and have more of a continuing saga feel about them. Dr. Who was always a saga type of affair, the classic series had stories in parts and the new series had some one-off stories and some multi-part tales. Quite often there would be a strand that wove them together. Whilst I do think these strands have become a bit shoe-horned in these days and I like some one-off stories, too many pass quickly without being noticed. Many classic American shows build up the tension and drama then in the last five minutes of the show everything resolves itself and is back to normal ready for the next episode. This is one reason I fell out of love with shows like Star Trek and The X-Files. Dr. Who seems to have fallen into that bracket a lot, a bit of peril, the story starts to get going then suddenly there is something that solves the problem and in a few minutes we are back to normal. I am not saying this is always bad but it does start to make things predictable. Episodes such as Cold War, The Crimson Terror, Hide and Nightmare in Silver all seem to end just as they were getting good. Why did we not have any two-part stories? Whilst I still love Dr. Who I am starting to grow a little discontented and am concerned it may end up being one of those shows I lose interest with. The good news is that the last episode of series seven was a cracker and I am looking forward to finding out who John Hurt’s character really is. Let’s just hope for some more of this in the 50th Anniversary special and beyond.
To all my fans, yes I am talking to both of you (ok so one of them is me, but does that not count?). I just wanted to post a quick message about writing, or rather lack of it. I am really wanting to get some more words down but after writing Lasia’s Fate and publishing Captain Caleb I am having to turn my attention to that horrid place where no writer really wants to be…..The Real World. You see, whilst I aspire to be a popular author, like all artists I need to make a living. As a teacher that means that some periods are more stressful than others. In the UK it is exam and coursework season which means that I have to spend extra hours getting young minds to get that bloody coursework done on time….sorry I mean shaping their futures and moulding their minds! As it is coursework time it also appears that I have to hand in my Master’s dissertation as well. On top of this my first child is due late July and my wife has the annoying habit of making me sort the nursery or go baby shopping at least one day each weekend. Ok, so I actually love that, I really can’t wait to be a daddy. All in all this means I have little time at the moment so you will have to content yourself with what works I have online at the moment. In a more positive tone, I have ideas for another three books. As per usual these cover different age ranges and different genres. I am not one of these people who likes sticking to one area, I feel it is like say ‘I am watching TV tonight but will only watch programs that contain spaceships or swords or gruesome murders.’ We don’t just like one thing so I write about lots of different areas. Maybe it is because I can’t focus on one thing, maybe it is because I do not want to limit myself or, much more likely, I am a jack of all trades and master of none. Anyhow, enough of that, just want to apologise for the lack of work that will be coming your way for next couple of months.
I have been wanting to release Captain Caleb for a while as a lot of work went into it and I am rather impressed with what I did. I created it for my nephew though and wanted it to be special. However something happened that made me think I could release the book on Kindle and still keep it special. My nephew’s dad, Sam Edge, has decided to take part in the The Great Northern Paddle 2013 and in the process raise money for the Calvert Trust who help make disabled people’s lives better by offering outdoor activities. To help him I am releasing Captain Caleb as an ebook for a limited period of time. All royalties I make from this will be donated to Sam Edge for his challenge and thus go to the Calvert Trust to help their excellent work. I have got a lot of positive feedback from the book so it is an absolute bargain at only £1.98. I will make about £1.30 off of every book and 100% of this will be donated. You will also be doing me a favour as it will raise my profile as an author. That’s three great reasons to buy then, raise money for charity, get a great book and further my career. You can buy it from the UK Kindle Store or American Kindle Store. If you are one of these cynics who thinks, ‘I don’t want to raise his profile but I do want to give to charity,’ then just head straight to Sam’s Just Giving page and donate there. Go on, you’ll feel good about yourself!