Choices and Decisions

We must eat and drink simply to survive, and that, of course, is the most important decision we all make—if we are to exist. After making the choice to go on, the quality of our life is next and that is improved by shelter, and fulfilment, which may or may not include companionship, with due respect to Mr Maslow and his Theory

From the moment we wake up every day our life is filled with making decisions based on choices … selecting which direction to take.

When a creative writer develops an idea and produces the cast for a story, the entire process from those early ideas right through to the publication of the book is filled with choices. Within the story, each character must make decisions. Those are designed to produce the various incentives for the character and action to move forward, and to maintain the reader’s interest. If you’re still reading, my choices for this post are working, so far.

For an author, while the internet is a wonderful source of information, and a valuable marketing tool, it can be a distraction, cause laziness, and among other things, at worst, deplete self-confidence. In terms of ‘research’, we authors now have an incredible volume of information at our fingertips, but we must be wary and professional. Google, Wikipedia and suchlike, with respect, are not factual deposits of information on all that ever was, is, or will be. We must be prepared to make some effort (apart from producing our stories), by reading widely, and utilising multiple sources to corroborate and balance our information.

Smoking, alcohol, and drugs are addictive and harmful when overused. Social media too, is habit forming, and while we have the choice to join a site, a group, or actively partake in discussions, it is easy to be drawn in. ‘Click-bait’ is the phrase used to tease someone into reading an article, post, or whatever in media. We are all susceptible to being ‘caught’ and as we delve deeper into the article, the active thread of comments, or information, we invariably find ourselves going down a rabbit hole. Personally, I feel guilty and cheated in equal measure when I realise I’ve spent half an hour or more on social media … and gained nothing of any benefit.

Are you susceptible to the lure of a literary or graphic hook?

When you saw the title of this blog post, what was it that captured your interest?

Did you have concerns about how far you might read, and how much time might be spent on it?

Those are not trick questions. Any intelligent species naturally strives to explore, especially with the intention of improving understanding, or position within their group. It stems from a desire to benefit.

I’ve just returned from two weeks holiday in the Netherlands. My wife and I enjoyed a break in our caravan, based in an excellent campsite which unlike many, doesn’t have internet access. I don’t intend to detail our activities, but suffice to say, apart from booking our ferry crossings and our pitch, I had no need of internet. If we wanted access, a walk into the nearby small town to a cafe was all that was required of us.

Did I make any good decisions about my writing while away?

Earlier this year, I was having difficulty developing Crusader, my latest crime thriller, so I opted for working on Selena: Sea Nymph, my first sci-fi fantasy. Over recent months, apart from when on regular trips in our caravan, I’ve made progress with Selena, but I needed a break from the story. I arrived in the Netherlands having made the decision to only work on Crusader.

It was a good choice, and within a couple of days I was at peace, unlike many of the characters in my new crime story.

Did I make any other decisions related to writing while I was away?

Yes, and as I tend to do, I experiment with ideas and implement them without bells and whistles. In other words, unlike some folks, I don’t usually advertise my every intention on social media or elsewhere.

Over the past few months I’ve reduced the time (and energy) expended on social media. Apart from slowly withdrawing from the daily, mind-numbing frustration of some of the posts and comments (in a variety of internet locations), I’ve also left several groups.

Having made progress with my plan, in the coming months, I intend to reduce my ‘social’ media activity to the minimum. To aid me, I’ve already made my choices regarding websites, and groups on those sites, and it’s a short list. Within the sites and groups I will also be reducing my ‘friends’. I intend to remain a part of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group (IASD), but will soon relinquish my admin role.

I haven’t lost faith in my ability to write, however, writing is a passion for me, so the stresses of marketing, monitoring sales, and reaching ‘targets’ are not concerns. Whether or not my work is selling is in the hands of those who see what I produce, and they will decide my level of success.

In a brief visit to Facebook on my return I was delighted to learn that not one, but two of my titles had received a Reader’s Choice Award in the Connections eMagazine, a superb platform for authors. Codename: Foxglove achieved a Silver in the Thriller/Suspense category, and Amsterdam Calling achieved a Bronze in the Romance category. In the time-honoured tradition, I’d like to thank … Melanie P. Smith for her tireless energy supporting fellow authors, and also all who voted for my work. Congratulations to all of you who were honoured by an award.

For many folks it takes a long time to find a balance, but in my case, pleasure and relaxation come before stress, and any personal fulfilment or success is derived from an occasional positive comment, or review. If I entertain one person with a story, I’ve been successful, and the level of my success is increased exponentially by the number of people entertained.

Is there a difference between choices and decisions?

I think of choices as the options we perceive on our journey in life, and our decisions create the ongoing route we take. A crossroads is often used to depict this but I chose a picture I took in woodland recently. Our options in life are not always clear-cut and definite as in a relatively simple crossroads. We must occasionally be prepared to venture along a route which is not staightforward.

Thank you for taking the time to read this brief distraction, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Amsterdam Calling – with options

There is no excuse for not reading certain books and Amsterdam Calling is now included in that ‘certain’ category. It matters not if you use a smartphone, eReader, computer screen or prefer to handle a physical book — the options are all there. If you have a Kinde eReader you can even read the book for free on Kindle Unlimited.

As the author it’s not for me to say whether it’s a good story, but here is the selection of review excerpts I’ve included on the back cover. I’m delighted to say that the reviews are by three exceptional authors: Lesley Hayes, Patrick Christopher Power, and Barbara Fagan Speake.

Research in Amsterdam

The seed was sown by my distant friend and fellow author, Carmen Lopez. She suggested my knowledge of Amsterdam and its many attractions would lend itself to a good story. In the latter part of 2012, the first notes were made, hundreds of photographs perused and a simple plot devised. A few weeks later I had the makings of a thriller, but as an author will tell you, strong characters have a way of messing with your head; and your story idea.

By the spring of 2013, my tale was a romance with thriller undertones, so thanks for that, Dan and Crystal, (the main characters).

The final version took a year of rewrites, double-checking of facts, emails to businesses and reaching up to pull out hair that was no longer there. Amsterdam Calling was no longer one of several optional title ideas and a hard-fought manuscript. By the summer of 2014, it was an eBook.

This year, having revised all of my books at least twice I was prepared to do so again, starting with Amsterdam Calling. After all, the paperback version was going to be more expensive and I wanted them to look professional in every respect. My aim was to deal with formatting so I purchased the Vellum program. I asked Aimee Coveney a professional cover designer to deal with the solution for the exterior of the paperback. I gave myself a target of four weeks for completion, and that was how long it took.

*

It was halfway through my final year at school, in May of 1966, the Beatles released what was to become one of my favourite tracks – Paperback Writer. I recall there was a big football tournament on TV at the time, but it took second place to my loves of music and reading. It would take a little over fifty years before I fulfilled my dream and published a paperback.

*

My creative writing commenced in earnest in 2007, so I spent ten years working at my craft and only publishing eBooks. For the past two years I’ve suggested I’d get into paperback versions of my books, but each time I’ve started work on the project it’s been postponed to write more stories.

To see this story in paperback is a thrill, and sales are being made which is heartwarming, but unlike many authors, I have something else which will give me a buzz. In the summer I’ll be heading to Amsterdam, so I’ll be taking a few copies of the book; gifts for people who gave me permission to use their enterprises in the story.

I’ll leave you with useful links in case you’re one of those yet to find a comfortable way to read this story:

Amazon Preview/Buy      Amazon Paperback      BookLinker Global

You’ll notice in the graphic of the paperbacks, I finally have the excuse to make bookmarks. They’re double-sided and laminated, which means anybody who uses one won’t forget what I write and where to find my books.

As always, thank you for reading my post, and those of you who do; my books.