Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

February 26, 2016

 

Last week I received an e-mail from a writer in Israel. He had finished reading my latest thriller, A Dangerous Game, and said he hoped it would not be my last book. He then went on to take the book apart, saying he found the plot “interesting, even intriguing, but more than a bit implausible”. He pointed out the errors in my characters, none of whom escaped his criticism. But he did admit that he found my style and vocabulary “enviable and enjoyable”. It left me with a smile on my face. I answered his e-mail and thanked him for his opinion, which I valued, and wished him all the best in his writing career. It set me wondering about why we write and why we put ourselves out there to be lifted up or shot down. Writing, after all, is entertainment. Fiction is what fiction is: make believe and often implausible. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian, are all implausible but enjoyed by millions of readers. So am I guilty of using this as an excuse in my work? Most top writers are guilty of this. Many action heroes suffer life changing injuries but go on to beat the odds. The film makers indulge themselves with impossible scenarios like James Bond and the Die Hard films: all of these attracting huge audiences. But what of my style? My work? I don’t write to educate; to teach, to help or to instruct; I write to entertain. People will judge me on what they get out of my books. Some make judgments from an assumption that they hold a higher ability than the writer they are criticising. I had a three star review recently of one of my titles in which the reviewer said the book would have benefited from professional editing. What the reviewer didn’t know was that the book had been professionally edited. But I continue to write and to hope that one day I will reach the elevated position of a top writer. And if anyone asks about my sudden success, I will tell them that it took a lifetime to achieve. Along the way I have enjoyed the good with the bad, the highs with the lows, and still I plough on. At least the writer from Israel admitted he liked my book, my style and my vocabulary, which he found enviable, so I have that to hang on to.

My Facebook advertising campaign came to an end during the week. I am relatively pleased with the results, although I did not cover my costs. That wasn’t the objective; it was to act as a learning curve and perhaps propel me on to more efficient and profitable advertising. The campaign lasted four weeks and lifted my rankings from around 250,000 to 20,000. I am currently around 45,000, so not too bad. I am now in limbo — leaving nothing for a week to see if my rankings hold up. If not, then I’ll have to go back to Facebook.

I began jotting down some thoughts for another thriller. I have decided to go with Marcus Blake, the leading character from A Covert War. I can trailer it as a new, Marcus Blake thriller. I haven’t decided on the main theme, but I want to make this a kind of “creepy” thriller: test my skills with some darker writing. When you cast around looking for plot ideas, there are not that many out there; they’ve all been done. But it’s the way a writer spins a new story that determines whether it will be a success or not.

On the domestic front, Homebase failed to deliver the kitchen parts we’d ordered. They delivered some. This meant we had to cancel the kitchen fitter and get on the phone to Homebase. Our oven turned up this morning and we have been promised the work tops next week. Kitchen fitter can’t make it now until half-way through March. C’est la vie! Tomorrow we are off to the funeral of a dear friend of ours. But life goes on: I dream of selling loads of books. Pat wants a dog. We haven’t won the lottery yet, but keep trying. The world is falling apart, but I still keep writing. Who says there are not enough stories around?

And as a little rider, my book, ROSELLI'S GOLD has just been accepted by Bookbub for a feature deal on March 14th. This is the fourth book I've submitted in the last four weeks. I expected them all to be rejected, but this one more than the others because it only has six reviews. The book will retail at $0.99 for the promotion. It cost me £420. Last time I had one of these, I made my money back overnight, but it's more about the follow on sales, the rankings and the publicity. Wish me luck!

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I NEVER KNEW I WOULD BE A WRITER.