Episode: an update on this wretched book I’m trying to finish!

Yeah, I know it’s a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been trying to get my sixth book finished!

In January 2015, I started Episode, a sort of, but not quite, loose sequel to Epiworld, again with the theme of time travel using the medium of epileptic seizures. This time the main protagonist is a teenage girl, Alisha (she was Alice but now she’s Alisha), who meets Travis from Epiworld when she is taken back in time to Ancient Greece by Iris, Messenger Goddess of Rainbows, who has been sent by Selene, Goddess of the Moon, whom the Greeks believed bestowed the ‘madness’ of epilēpsía, to escort Alisha to the ancient world to help complete a particular task.

The Roman equivalent is Luna, as in lunatic or loony and all that sort of thing. I know people with epilepsy aren’t loonies (present company excepted of course!), but anyway, there’s the connection with Selene and the Gods in general: they need a God or Goddess to explain everything good or crap that goes on in their lives!

I’m happy to report that I’m just about finished, there are another four chapters or so to go; but – and this is really annoying – it won’t be published in 2017! There’ll still be a fair amount of editing to do, because despite what I said after Epiworld, I’ve again written it in the first person present from Ali’s point of view (I did try to write it in the past tense, didn’t feel right, then with Travis telling the story, but that didn’t work, either) and overall it’s a more complex story. The research I’ve had to do has been a right pain in the arse and trying to keep everything tied up has been daunting.

With any luck it’ll be ready for publication in the New Year. Urr! Then there’s the usual fight with Him Indoors over designing the cover. Double urr! Why do I bother? Well, the only reason I can think of is it keeps me off the streets.

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The film of the book or the book of the film?

[Yeah I know, it’s been a while since I blogged. Sorry! Went on holiday, then my laptop broke and other stuff was going on]

So…the film of the book or the book of the film?

We all know the answer to that one: it’s the book first, then the film or TV series, but what if you haven’t got round to reading the book and they make the film? There’s a dilemma! It’s got rave reviews, tipped for Oscars or BAFTAs, but you feel you can’t see it until you’ve read the book first; then what if you’ve read the book and you see the film or TV series and you think ‘What a let-down!’

It’s a pickle, all right. Most people believe that dramas and films don’t do justice to the books and for the most part they’re right. I’ve read lots of books that have been turned into dramas. Sense and Sensibility is a favourite of mine. I read the book first and noted the omissions from the dramatisations: the younger sister Margaret was missing from the 1980s TV drama and Lady Middleton from the film version starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. I read Gone With The Wind before seeing the famous Clark Gable/Vivien Leigh film and noted omissions there, but I thought it did pretty well in getting as close to the book as possible. I didn’t know anything about the American Civil War until I’d read it and I was very impressed with the historical account. I’m glad the Wuthering Heights film ended with Cathy dying. To me that was the natural ending. What was the point in the book banging on about Heathcliff’s and Cathy’s kids? None as far as I could see, so yeah, I thought the film was better!

But I believe watching the dramatisation first inspires people to read more. There are 12 books in the Poldark series: I want those for Christmas this year! I want to see if George Warleggan is as much of a git on the page as he is on the telly and if Demelza really does punch Ross into the middle of next week when she finds out he’s been playing away with Elizabeth!  I’ve been inspired to read The Count of Monte Cristo, North and South, Wives and Daughters, Cranford and many other books I might have got round to reading eventually, but not so readily if it hadn’t have been for watching them first. I’ve struggled with Dickens’ novels, however, although I loved the story of Oliver Twist and Great Expectations on the silver screen.

There’s one book I might never get used to, though, and that’s Far From The Madding Crowd! I have painful memories of snoring through that at school!

So don’t feel guilty seeing the film or TV show first and thinking, ‘Now I’d like to read the book!’

 

 

 

 

My review of Mary Barton: a Tale of Manchester Life

Mary Barton

‘Mary Barton’ is reminiscent of Gaskell’s novel ‘North and South’, following the theme of the lives and loves of the characters who lived during the industrial revolution in the North West of England, but whereas ‘North and South’ was set in the fictional town of Milton, based on Manchester, ‘Mary Barton’ is actually set in Manchester itself, where Gaskell lived for a time. Like ‘North and South’, it is a difficult, slow read, with a lot of characters it is difficult to keep track of and some you find it hard to sympathise with; like ‘North and South’, the author keeps faith with working-class local dialects and colloquialisms of the time, and these are also difficult to read.

The main protagonist of the book title, Mary Barton herself, comes across as a colourless character, shunning the attentions of a young man of her own class because she believes herself to be in love with the rich son of her father’s mill boss, until something happens which makes her suddenly – and I found this a bit startling – realise she loves the former after all.

Not her best work by any means.

This review is available on Goodreads and Amazon.co.uk.

Did physical books ever really go away?

Apparently, the physical book is back, but it did ever really go away? In 2016 sales of children’s books rose, as did non-fiction, in hardback and paperback. Readers have given their reasons that they love the smell and feel of a physical book and that eBooks don’t give the same pleasure.

Everyone knows their pros and cons of eBooks and physical books and here are mine:

Physical book pros:

  • Picture books with beautiful illustrations that engage a young reader and allow them to read along with Mum or Dad. They can feel the pages and point to the pictures and this helps them to appreciate a good book
  • Technical illustrations or diagrams easier to follow for non-fiction readers
  • Using a lovely bookmark!
  • Cover design (like an album cover; when LPs gave way to CDs and iPod downloads the world bemoaned the loss of the album cover, an art form in itself, so it’s great LPs have come back!)
  • Books keep libraries and bookshops in business!
  • When you’ve finished with your book you can pass it to a friend, donate it to a second hand book sale or leave it in a hotel library for another guest to enjoy
  • They look good on a shelf!

Physical book cons:

  • How many books do you take on holiday and will they weigh down your case?
  • When the spines come apart, your pages come loose and you end up having to wrap an elastic band around to keep all the pages together! (happened to me loads of times!)
  • They can collect a lot of dust
  • They are more expensive than eBooks because they cost more to produce
  • Costs of self-publishing

eBook pros:

  • You can take a whole library of eBooks on holiday with you without stuffing your case full of trashy reads and being told at the airport that you’ve gone over your 20 kg case limit
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to operate
  • eBooks give self-published authors the opportunity to publish their own books at no cost (after paying for editing and proofreading)
  • Books are instantly downloadable, you don’t have to drive to a shop or pay for shipping
  • Generally cheaper to buy than physical books
  • Gives the reader a choice: physical or eBook?

eBook cons:

  • You might not have to weigh your case down with paperbacks, but if you forget to pack your charger…!
  • eReaders are generally still in boring black and white with no colour, unless you use a tablet, so they’re not really much use for picture books or non-fiction where you want to see colourful pictures
  • There’s nothing attractive about an eReader with a cracked screen
  • Drop it in water and it suffers the same fate as your mobile phone if you drop that in water
  • You can’t borrow an eBook from a library or buy from a book shop
  • One eReader on a shelf looks pretty lonely!
  • Doesn’t have the feel or smell of a physical book
  • You can’t share an eBook with a friend (not legally, anyway!)
  • You can’t gift a Kindle book in the UK!

Nah, I don’t think physical books ever really went away. Read the news report here.

The curious case of the man who corrects grammar mistakes in the night: the Apostrophiser!

Here’s a tale that will warm the hearts of writers everywhere, and it’s a true story!

In Bristol in the UK, there’s a man who goes round at night correcting the dreaded apostrophe mistakes made on shop signs in the city. He has made a tool for this purpose, called the ‘apostrophiser’, a very large pole that either places an apostrophe after the ‘s’ where it should be and can take out the ‘s’ where it shouldn’t be.

This guy has been dubbed the ‘Banksy of Punctuation’ and has been doing this incognito for thirteen years! Only his family knows who he is. Does he have too much time on his hands? Maybe, but I know it drives me mad to see apostrophes in the wrong place, nor would I stay in a hotel or B&B where I see ‘accommodation’ with one ‘m’ on the door, so good on him, I say! 👍

What’s the irony of this story? There’s no such word as ‘apostrophiser’! 😂

Full story in The Guardian.

Amazon Dis-Advantage!

In October 2016 I wrote Why I joined Amazon Advantage. To recap, I did so because I found out that Amazon wasn’t taking the feeds from Nielsen Bookdata and showing my books in their correct subject categories (Amazon call these browse nodes).  They were just showing up on the Amazon catalogues dumped in Children’s Books or Teen Fiction General. That was no good; who would find them there? When I asked Amazon, they replied the only way to sort this was to join Amazon Advantage and input the subjects myself.

Oh, and by the way you have to do it for each individual Amazon by country so naturally I began with Amazon.co.uk.

And the trouble I’ve had!

You have to add your items and input your prices and subjects, but one thing I noticed was the subjects the books should have had listed were already there. So why weren’t they on the catalogues? Anyway, I set about inputting them again. I had to wait 7-10 days for the changes, but…

  1. None of the new prices I input were ever saved despite my asking numerous times. Oddly enough pricing was one thing they did take from the Neilsen feed, so I’ve had to go back to Lulu and change them there so that they will feed that info to Neilsen (and that’s another story!) That’s probably going to be a problem with Amazon.com. I added the titles onto that Advantage programme before I wrote this post and I sorted out the prices. I wanted the prices to be cheaper and more consistent, all ending in .99.
  2. For some reason I had problems with the subjects for Goalden Girl and Goalden Sky. Amazon didn’t seem to like putting Football with Sports & Outdoors, even though this was available to choose on the Advantage subjects. Anyway they’ve managed to salvage something after loads of nagging by me, but I don’t relish having to do this all over again with Amazon.com!
  3. Goalden Sky continually drops off my active items list. God only knows why!
  4. When stock runs out, I have to send copies of my books myself to Amazon (including overseas). What happens if I snuff it??? No one will ever remember me and my books will be continually out of print! 😭
  5. Once you’re in the Advantage programme, can you opt out of it, and if so do you lose all the changes you made?

I’m beginning to regret ever joining Advantage. I think it sucks personally…🙄

My Review of Little Town on the Prairie

 

Laura is fast approaching womanhood and her family is settled in the town of De Smet in South Dakota. She’s back at school with her friends, but her sister Mary has gone to college to learn to cope with her blindness and Laura is lonely without her. Although she’s not keen on becoming a teacher, her goal is to get her teaching certificate so she can earn enough to help keep Mary at college. She is studying hard, but there are distractions: as well as socialising, there’s the reappearance of an old adversary, Nellie Oleson, and the new teacher has taken a dislike to her. Also, she’s attracted the attention of Almanzo Wilder, even though she’s only 15.

Overall I enjoyed this book. The reappearance of the repellent Nellie Oleson is reminiscent of Laura’s encounters with her in the TV series Little House on the Prairie, but I would have liked a bit more nastiness from Nellie! There are major flaws, however, not least the minstrel show performed at one of the ‘Literaries’ and the racist language around that, and Almanzo Wilder’s sister is the new teacher who dislikes Laura, but it doesn’t come up as a topic of conversation between her and Almanzo and Laura seemingly forgets the connection. Finally, the way in which Laura gains her teaching certificate comes across as unrealistic.

Review available on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads.

 

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