How Far Should We Go?

 

No, it’s not a question about bedroom antics – but I have written a few stories in that area.
Yes, it is do with journeys, but not merely in space, the final frontier – some of the journeys are much closer to home.

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How far are we prepared to allow our imaginations go?

A reader should enjoy more than one genre, even if they tend to lean more to a main one.
Yes, I’m a lover of adventure stories, and thrillers, but I’ve read and enjoyed romance, paranormal, horror, YA, sci-fi, dystopian, and a few more besides.

How does a variety of material reward me as a reader?

Apart from enjoying the variety, I believe it helps me to focus clearly when I return to the bedrock of my reading – the thriller, or adventure story.

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A creative writer ought to try something similar. In my humble opinion, a writer should occasionally get out of their comfort zone, and stretch. They should exercise the main accessory in the toolbox of their craft – imagination.

In the previous section, I mentioned being able to focus clearly on my return to reading thrillers or adventure stories. Switching genre also aids me as a writer.

How can altering my reading assist me as a creative writer?

Until recently, I looked upon Science Fiction as a genre beyond my reach, but one day when my caffeine levels were particularly high, it struck me that it had more to do with imagination than knowledge of the genre.

I will tackle any genre for two reasons.

1 – to find out if I enjoy the writing.

2 – to find out if I can entertain in that particular area.

In the same way a reader might choose to stick with what they know, so too can a writer, but if you’re a single-genre writer, let me, as a multi-genre writer put an idea to you.

Think about the excitement of setting up a new story. Now, imagine trying a new story in a genre you’ve never tried before.

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Let’s go full circle, and get back to where we came in to this article.

How far should we go?

In my efforts to push myself and to entertain those people kind enough to try, or continue to support my brand – I am prepared to go to considerable lengths.

My thrillers and erotica are laced with incidents from my life, some big, some small, but my latest venture has taken me to the stars … and I’ve landed characters on some of them.

The Welcome: and other sci-fi stories

This is not only my work, but includes the efforts of a handful of guest authors who have each been kind enough to indulge me by donating a story.

Why did I invite guest authors?

I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident to produce my standard 12 stories for a collection.

I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident in writing a genre I’ve only dabbled in previously.

My aim was to produce the best and most varied collection I could on such a wonderful topic. I want readers of this collection to sit back and think about the stories and the theories long after reading our efforts. I know that my guests would echo the sentiment that we want readers of this collection to truly enjoy the journeys.

I sent out an open invitation a few weeks ago, to give fellow authors an opportunity to join me in this venture. At the time of this article, two of my six guests are novice writers, and four are experienced writers, but all will have their own take on what makes a good sci-fi tale, and for me, that is the exciting part.

This book will have three key components, apart from the running theme of the genre.

1 – Six stories are penned by me.

2 – Six stories are penned by my guest authors.

3 – Three ‘bonus’ stories by me will be added at the end. These three extra stories are already featured in other collections.

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I will not be posting the guest authors’ names on the Amazon page when I publish, because this will connect us in the complexities of Amazon’s referral system. It’s not a topic to deal with here.

I decided it would be more beneficial to put those authors’ names where they belong – right there on the front cover, where I have my name. They will also be supplying personal contact information to be included in the book.

I feel that this is the fairest way to repay and market my guests.

How did I work out whose story goes where?

I considered the various hi-tech methods of dealing with this quandary, and in the name of fairness I’ve interspersed my work with my guests’ stories. I’ve placed the guest work in author / alphabetical order.

Whether or not you are a Sci-Fi aficionado, I would ask you to consider taking a look through your reading telescope at our joint effort when I publish – Sunday 20th December 2015. Perhaps having seen the sample in your telescope you’ll decide you’d like to take a shuttle to our many and varied destinations.

If you should decide to try our work, I’m sure I speak for all when I ask that you be kind enough to leave a review of your findings.

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As always, you have my sincere thanks for reading my thoughts, plans and intentions. All comments are ‘Welcome’.

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Book cover - You're Not AloneIncludes ‘Goals‘.

Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2Includes ‘Down to Earth

912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_Includes ‘Out of this World

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Come what? May …

Come what? May …

Well, it’s the month of May, and I’ve decided to try an experiment, as we indie authors are known to do on a regular basis. This particular indie author is always experimenting.

I’ve just returned with my wife from a week in the Netherlands. I would say Amsterdam, but we are in the habit of getting out and about, so although we spent a lot of time in the beautiful city in which we were based, as usual, we ventured further afield.

Delft - the Netherlands

Delft – the Netherlands

Anyway, I digress.

Whilst away, I spent at least an hour every day working on my latest novel. I wrote several new passages and reinvented one of my fictional abodes. I also introduced a new character for the team of bad guys, so I was pleased with my progress.

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What else came to mind?

What else indeed. There were four main things:

1. Like any indie author, constantly promoting their own brand, pushing their back-catalogue, their latest release, or keeping up with social networking – I lose a lot of actual writing time.

2. The result of the constant marketing activity may be tedious to the author concerned, but I believe that it is as we often refer to it – a necessary evil. I consider social networking to be a promotional activity, although to a lesser degree.

3. There are occasional comments on social networking sites that demonstrate quite clearly that there are some dissenters concerning the self-promotional posts. It may be one comment, or one comment that prompts others to voice an opinion, but they will always be there.

4. I wondered about ceasing my promotional activity for the remainder of this month. When I got home after my break, I checked social networking contacts and my Amazon sales activity for the most recent 30-day period.

There were some surprising results.

a) I had in excess of 90 Facebook notifications, (of which, at least 30 posts involved me). I’ll refrain from including Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, emails, etc.

b) In the week up to 9th May, I had a book on promotion; reduced to half-price – but it sold less than my other work.

c) In the month up to 9th May, I have only had two days where I have had no sales or lending.

d) My sales over the most recent two months are only marginally higher than my lending rate. Keep in mind, if books are borrowed there is still a royalty payment.

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My intention now is to concentrate on my writing for the remainder of May, which will mean 20 days without self-promotion. I am a member of the Independent Author Network so as part of their agreement with authors they will promote my brand occasionally on Twitter, but as I don’t believe Twitter is an effective platform for book promotion I’m not concerned about that area.

I will of course continue to pay one or two daily visits to social networking sites on the off-chance that there is a conversation in which I would benefit from taking part.

Instead of a regular update on the topic here on my blog, I’ll leave the next three weeks to run their course and then I’ll write a blog post to report on my findings.

Now at the risk of repeating the title of this article….
Come what? May….

As always, I appreciate any views and comments.

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You cannot be series …

Poetry covers compilation
Yes, the fourth word in my title is the proper spelling. It is not meant to be the statment made famous by tennis star John McEnroe, although I admit, I was tempted.
If you’re too young to remember, on more than one occasion the talented and quick-tempered Mr. McEnroe would challenge an umpire’s decision with a wild stare, whilst screaming,                   “You cannot be serious!”
As this post develops I’m sure that most of you guys will see that I could have gotten away with the tennis player’s outburst as my alternative title.

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I’ve noticed that there is a tendency these days for writers, and especially novices, to produce sequels, or even a series of books. Authors have various reasons for doing such a thing, and those reasons cover a wide spectrum. I’ll list a few reasons to help get my point across.
1. The writer wants to explore how far they can push a character whether it be in development or experiences and adventures.
2. The lazy or greedy writer, who simply wants to exploit the market, by producing several titles of very short works; calling them a ‘series’.

Why do I say greedy?
I’ve recently discovered an author who is publishing nothing more than long chapters and giving them the title of ‘book’. In this way he creates a ‘series’. Yeah, whatever.

How do I know that it’s greed?
If somebody has the audacity to consider such an underhand tactic, the least they could do is ensure that the ‘books’ are properly edited and formatted. In the case I’m highlighting, they are not.

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Some books lend themselves to the idea of a sequel, or series, simply by the nature of the original story, whilst others do not.
There is a train of thought that such a thing is easy to do, but in my opinion, in any subsequent books the necessary information must be drip-fed to the reader as the story progresses. It should not consist of massive chunks of force-fed back-story; which I’ve seen in some attempts at a sequel.

My opinion on what works and what doesn’t for sequels and series.

What works?
A series, whether it is 2 books, or 22 books, should have a constant aspect, whether it is in theme or character.
For example:
1. Each book has a different character, but the theme is the same.
2. A fresh case or plot with the same central character since the first book.
For example:
Private Eye, police, medical, adventure, espionage, western, military, thriller, seafaring, Sci-Fi, fantasy, paranormal … and on the list might go.

What might not appeal to readers after a couple of stories?
The certain knowledge that the protagonist is virtually indestructible – and it’s not Superman.

What doesn’t work?
In the right hands just about any genre is good for a series, but the decision to tackle this particular idea is not something that should be taken lightly.
Romance for instance could lend itself to a series if the basis of the stories was to take a fresh story from the point of view of various characters from one central theme.
For examples:
1. Stories detailing the love-life of the members of an office or other business.
2. Stories detailing the love-life of the members of a community. Now this could be a nice little earner if you were prepared to devote half your life to it. Instead of the community being a small village, how about telling of the romances onboard the cruise ship Laid Back Lady, which has 500 crew and 4,000 passengers?

Now there would be a money-spinner.

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To reiterate my point, we must all be aware of giving our customers value for money, so we must be conscious of providing a good product and not creating a ‘series’ out of nothing. In particular we should keep an eye open for those in our business who are prepared to undercut the readership, which includes us.

Integrity is a key factor when considering if a writer is writing a sequel, or series for the right reasons.
As always, I thank you for coming by and reading my thoughts. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

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