Tuesday, 27 March 2012

What I've been up to lately

Lately I’ve been beavering away on my debut novel “The Ironmonger’s Error”. Because I’m trying to get it finished I’ve been fairly quiet on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. I have even been so dedicated to getting the first draft finished I have only undertaken one other piece of writing.
The other piece of writing was a short story which I have submitted to Matt Hilton for his forthcoming anthology Action – Pulse Pounding Tales (Volume 1). More info can be found via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ActionPulsePoundingTales but let me just say that the whole idea is to recreate the action heroes of the seventies and eighties with their bristling moustaches and absolute invincibility. I had a great time writing my entry which pushed the boundaries for the suspension of disbelief to almost but not quite breaking point. Before writing this post I sent off my effort and I’m waiting for word back with the usual nerves associated with such processes.
To my mind this is akin to submitting to an agent despite Matt being a friend, as I have to earn my place to join him and the other authors involved in the project. Submissions don’t end until the 31st of April so there’s plenty of time for those with a story to submit. 

I know that some of you are remembering that I’ve recently had Star Struck Shooter up at ThrillsKills’N’Chills and The Golden Shot over at the Flash Fiction Offensive. However these stories were written a few months ago and left to hibernate before editing and submission. 

With regards to the novel I have added many a thousand word and have reached the top of the rollercoaster. Now I’m beginning the descent into the final denouement although it seems to be getting ever further away. Every time I write a scene another idea grabs my brain and the book becomes that little bit longer. Fortunately though I have the plot worked out in my head apart from one side issue which I have yet to find a way to work into proceedings.

After the first draft of the novel is done then I’ll be back noisier than ever with a whole range of short stories which have been asking me to write them.

Monday, 19 March 2012

My transition from being a Reviewer to being Reviewed

For two and a half years now I have been a book reviewer for the very well respected www.crimesquad.com during this time I have made friends with a lot of authors both face to face and via the world of Facebook. I have also been very fortunate to meet and interview some of the biggest names in crime fiction.

There has been a constant stream of excellent books appearing in my mailbox and whenever I get talking with aspiring authors and they find out I’m a reviewer, it’s only a short time before their precious book is being pressed into my hands along with an impassioned request for a review.

As a reviewer the instructions from my editor are simple. If you like the book – write a review. If you don’t like the book – then don’t write a review. If you have nothing nice to say- then say nothing.

Crimesquad.com is a place where crime fiction in all of its sub genres is championed. All the reviewers are fans of the genre and understand what makes for excellent crime fiction.

Suddenly I was on the other side of the fence. My own precious book – Eleven the Hardest Way – was up for review.  Not only was it being reviewed by Crimesquad.com but also a friend who reviews for our counterparts over at Shotsmag had also requested a copy.

Shine a light, this was serious now. The two biggest review websites for my chosen genre were reviewing my work. I had only been writing for three months and here was my first effort receiving the most intense scrutiny.

Was I nervous? You better believe I was. I know I said earlier that Crimesquad.com are not the kind of reviewers who put the boot in. but what if the reviewer didn’t enjoy it and said nothing. Oh the ignominy. And what about Shotsmag? I didn’t (and still don’t) know their editorial policy although the reviews I have read are all fair and balanced.

Is this what authors go through every time a book is submitted for review?

I was nervous, irritable and on more than one occasion an enquiring E-mail was written and then deleted when a rare strength of character appeared.

Then I got to thinking about the many E-mails and conversations I’d had with authors who knew I would soon be reviewing their work. Most of them would always say something along the lines of “please can you let me now how you get on with my book”. There have been one or two occasions when I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the first to read a book outside of the publishing houses and agents circle. I actually E-mailed the author of one of these and he was delighted to hear I’d enjoyed his book and admitted relief to hearing that it was as good as previous efforts.

Until my book was reviewed by these two very influential sites I never truly appreciated the power of reviews. Now I am fully aware of the influence and as a case in point I watched my own Ebook jump 42,000 places overnight when the two reviews came out.

I have learnt just how nerve wracking it is to have your book under review and I will always try to contact authors wherever possible, to say a couple of nice things about their book and chase away the butterflies I know they have. Of course I won’t share the review with them. I’ll just give them a taster of how I found the book.