Welcome. Whether you read, write, or both, you'll find something here. Free reads, book reviews, writing contest details and links, and much about the writing process. By all means comment; I'm always interested in the views of readers and writers. Follow the blog and connect with me on social networks; the more, the merrier.
And, if you'd like to send me a personal message, contact me here
And, if you'd like to send me a personal message, contact me here
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
If you’re a regular visitor, you’ll know I’ve been signalling the approaching publication of my epic fantasy here from time to time. We now have a launch date.
On Sunday 30th March, Fantastic Books Publishing will launch A Seared Sky: Joinings, which is the first book in the trilogy. The picture is a hint at the cover.
There’s a launch party on Facebook. If you’d like to attend, click here and you’ll be whisked off to the spot, where you can investigate and add your name to those attending. The more the merrier. By the way, this is a virtual event, happening online, so you don't need to worry about your geographical location. But, for those of you who choose not to do the party thing, I’ll be adding links later on to guide you to places you can buy the book.
Over the intervening weeks, I’ll be posting bits and pieces relating to the book, so watch this space.
In the meantime, I’m aware that many readers have invested in initial books for trilogies only to discover that the author has run out of steam. You won’t have that problem with my book. I’ve already written all 3 volumes and edited the first 2. And, I’m currently doing the penultimate edit of book 3 as each chapter comes back from the beta readers. Fantastic BooksPublishing, of course, do the final edit prior to publication.
Monday, 3 March 2014
Looking for fantasy, I came across this book via a recommendation, and I’m glad I did. Lilleyn Kaye is a new author to me and I’ll certainly look out for more of her work. In this tale of witchcraft and love, she sends the reader on a journey with plenty of twists and turns.
Those familiar with my reviews will know that I’m very keen on good characters. In Ari, Sira and Dion, this writer gives us well-rounded characters with their flaws and idiosyncrasies; people we can relate to and empathise with. But, in Claudia and Edward, she gives us a pair of the most wicked individuals you could ever wish to find on the page; I can only hope never to meet such evil in real life!
The theme of the book allows for plenty of sex, but this is neither intrusive nor excessive, as it’s an essential component of the story. In particular, the sexual awakening of young woman with no experience is handled well, illustrating the theme of the corruption of innocence without straying into prurience.
The story is well written and paced, taking the reader through events that slowly build into a nightmare experience. The final third of the book is fast-paced and tense, culminating in a denouement that is both inevitable and satisfying. Have your tissues handy.
A fantasy romance with edge, this is a book that will hold your attention and reward your time with a story well told. Fully recommended.
Sunday, 2 March 2014
Saturday, 1 March 2014
February has been a full and interesting month. I’m fortunate to live in a part of the UK that rarely has heavy rainfall, so no flooding here: the eastern half is much dryer than the west. But we’ve had our share of high winds and a few very wet days. I had to spend an afternoon repairing wind damage to the cladding at the eaves; just grateful it’s a bungalow!
My wife was invited to take part in a TV quiz programme, and that took us away for 4 days down south, which made for an interesting interlude. I’d never been to Borehamwood, home of Elstree Studios, before. And, as Sunday was a day off, we took a trip up the road to St Albans; an interesting old town. As always, when I visit new places, I contributed reviews of the various places visited on TripAdvisor, since I use such reviews to make my own selections and think this is a useful service for other visitors. (You'll find my reviews under my real name, Stuart Allison, should you be curious).
Our daughter had a couple of day-long interviews relating to her future studies, so another 2 days out. Only one, in York, resulting in further reviews, since the other didn’t necessitate a stay.
So, what have I managed during this truncated period? 4 books read and reviewed; I’m halfway through a fifth. 7 blog posts written and edited and 5 posted (the other 2 were guest posts on other people’s blogs, one of which hasn’t yet appeared). 2 short stories written and 3 edited. One of these hasturned into a sci-fi novelette, so I’ve done the 8 character sketches for that and made a few notes. A bit of further research and I should start writing it shortly. Had a couple of research sessions to bring the Writing Contests page up to date, and actually entered 4 of the contests myself. And I also contributed a new short piece to Readwave. But, most of the time has been spent editing volume 3 of the fantasy trilogy. For the technical aspects, I’ve been using the very comprehensive online editing suite, ProWritingAid, which I fully recommend. Managed 11 chapters, since the process is a deep edit, requiring some beta reading. Book 1, A Seared Sky: Joinings, is due to be published by Fantastic Books Publishing very soon. But that’s a topic for another post. Watch this space!
Quite a busy spell all in all, and relatively satisfying from a writer’s point of view. How’s it been for you?
The chart, explained:
Writing - initial creation of stories, blog posts, reviews and longer works.
Editing - polishing of all written work to make it suitable for readers.
Research - discovery of info for story content, market research, contests and blog posts.
Reading - books and writing magazines.
Admin - story submission, blog posting, marketing, organisation, tax, and general admin tasks.
Friday, 28 February 2014
What is a meme? There’s a great explanation on the inimical Wikipedia here. But, in short, for our purposes, it’s a message conveyed via the medium of a picture with words added.
So, what’s it got to do with writers?
Essentially, of course, your book cover constitutes a type of meme. But it’s in the area of promotion that these devices really come into their own. It’s long been the case that visual messages create greater interest and more responses than the written word alone. In the visually biased world we now inhabit, this has become even more the case, and promises to be increasingly so into the foreseeable future.
The idea is that it’s more effective to produce a ‘poster’, with relevant background picture and your words applied, than to simply quote the words in a tweet or short post.
A lot of writers employ cameras to collect information and records for their writing. It’s a fairly simple matter to use the same equipment to collect images suitable for backgrounds for memes. For those who don’t own or use a camera (and don’t forget most mobile phones now contain a camera, as do tablets) there are a large number of sites where you can use images taken by others. On most of these you can make unlimited use of pictures for a small fee and limited use for free. Don’t be fooled by the many claims that all images are free. Almost without exception, such images are either very small or bear a great big watermark. ‘Free’ for this purpose, generally means they are ‘royalty free’; in other words, once purchased, they can be used commercially. Pricing is from around £2.00 a picture, depending on image size. Make sure you read the licencing agreements before you use them. I’ve made use of some of these images for my book covers and they represent a very worthwhile investment. I list some of the sites at the end of this post.
So, how do you apply words to a picture? MS Word allows you to do this in a very basic way. You ‘insert’ a picture in a document and then set the text so that the picture is ‘behind’ the chosen text. However, this is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons; mostly, it’s very limited and not easy to manipulate. Most ‘Painting’ applications will allow the placing of words over or within an image. They also tend to be fairly limited and not particularly straightforward, however.
By far the most effective way of applying text to a picture is to use image manipulation applications,
But, don’t despair: you don’t need a complex program to produce your memes. Below are some of the applications offered, free and online, that I’ve tried out for you. In each case, I used my own images, but all these sites have libraries of pictures you can use as part of the application. I used Fotofelexer to produce ‘We Travel this road…’ and ‘Breaking Faith’. Picmonkey was used for ‘If we stop..’ And Ipiccy produced ‘Life is…’
These I found easy to use, but each works in slightly different ways, so you’ll need to give them a try to find out which one suits your particular working methods.
The accompanying posters are memes I produced specifically for this post and each took me only a few minutes. Many of the sites have bells and whistles to allow you to ‘jazz-up’ your creations, should you feel so inclined. My advice is to have a go and see what you can come up with.
And, what to do with these wonders once you’ve produced them? Well, you can Tweet them on Twitter, add them to your blog/website, make them part of your Pinterest collection and stick them in albums on your Facebook and/or Google+ author page (what do you mean, you haven’t got one?). Obviously, make sure there’s a buying link to those that promote your books. As for the words you use to apply to the pictures, you have a choice of your own pithy sayings, excerpts from the text of the book and, of course, those wonderful words of praise from your reviewers (make sure you credit them, of course).
Have fun and scatter memes all over your world. You never know, you might actually attract some readers and maybe even sell some books!
If you’ve found this useful, stimulating, interesting or experienced any other positive outcome, please use the ‘share’ buttons at the foot of the post to let others know about it. It took me a lot of time and effort to produce this post. Thanks. Oh, and by all means comment, but bear in mind I’m no expert, so I may not be able to answer technical questions!
Photo editing sites:
http://pixlr.com/editor/ Too much like Photoshop
http://fotoflexer.com/app/index.php?integration=upload Easy to use and comprehensive
http://www134.lunapic.com/editor/ Difficult – can’t copy and paste a block of text
http://www.picmonkey.com/ More variety available if you upgrade at $4.99/month or $33/year
http://ipiccy.com/ Useful and comprehensive.
Sites where you can get pictures:
http://www.dreamstime.com/ 21,500,000 images – small charge and some free. I’ve used this for covers.
http://www.shutterstock.com/ 30,000,000 images – small charge, some free
http://www.istockphoto.com/ V large selection – small charge, some free
http://www.thinkstockphotos.co.uk/ V large selection – small charge – some free.
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ Large selection – small charge, some free.