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review 2017-09-13 11:44
The characters felt stilted and unnatural.
One Hundred Days - Mark Morey

One Hundred Days is a partially fictionalised account of how Australians were part of winning World War One.

While I found the story to be intriguing and providing some new concepts and ideas about how the Australians were involved with the war, the writing lends itself to a war strategy book, more than a fictional story. 

The characters felt stilted and unnatural. Less like characters and more like people represented by a number of pieces of factual information. For example, each person is introduced by their name, then their physical attributes rattled off in a list-like manner. Hair, eye colour, height and weight (especially when it came to the soldiers). And all the women had meaty/fleshy arses - which annoyed me too.

It was obvious to me, from the writing style that Mark has spent a lot of time working in the IT field, the way sentences were structured and the story flowed, was like a simplified and basic version of something far more complex. Like an IT person trying to write an 'IT for dummies' version of some complex IT issue. This is how the story of One Hundred Days felt. All facts, little emotion, simply written - almost in bullet point (pun not intended). 

This withdrew me, as a reader, from this story. It presented the tale in a clinical and unemotional way, which meant that I felt nothing for the characters. There were points in this story that should have come across as harrowing and highly emotionally charged, but alas, I felt little for the characters and had no emotional connection. 

The writing style aside, this book needs a serious edit. There were a large number of easily fixable issues (a lot listed below), but the one thing that annoyed me the most, was the overuse of the word 'and' to link two otherwise separate ideas together. This was done a lot in dialogue, but it also happened in the other text too. This was most annoying because it made the writing feel strange. People just don't talk like that.

An example from 9% through:
They reached the steps of Flinders Street Station and Alec kissed Dorothy's cheek. "Goodbye sweetheart and thank you for coming out with me."
"Goodbye sweetheart," she said. "Thank you for the evening and I really enjoyed being with you."
Alec stood at the base of the steps and watched until Dorothy disappeared out of sight. It was truly wonderful to have her as part of his life, and maybe one day they could marry. Alec was sure that would happen, and then he would be the luckiest man in the world.

Overall, this was an interesting look at how Australia played its role in WW1, but with little emotional connection with the characters and fundamentally flawed writing, I just can't give this any more than 2 stars. With a good edit, this could be a good addition to war history books, but as it is, it needs a lot of work.

The things I noticed:
9% - ...the war will be over before your (you're twenty-one.
- Then he was then free to go. (Excessive overwriting including dialogue with excessive use of 'and' instead of shorter sentences.
19% - After a week of fine of (delete of) weather....
24% - behind the (delete the) Billy still holding the...
25% - and he was (too) embarrassed (to) recount...
- Repetition of parade ground training came to some use.
30% - ...identifiable (by) their untidy clothing, Random lines and paragraphs from here are bolded text.
32% - ...you seem to be over (t)he worst...
34% - ...eyed the pile (in) his locker...
44% - ...that was bad lack(luck) for Charlie...
46% - ...Martin wondered (what) he was going to do...
68% - The(y) picked him up...
71% - ...cripples/. (Remove /)
81% - the text is italicised for a number of pages when Simone and Martin talk of their histories.
- ...I lived there for four yea(r)s...
89% - I didn't understand." He said in French. (")I really speak English." 
91%- ...the front net(not) yet tested...

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review**

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text 2017-07-09 10:13
Survey results on self-publishing self-evident, self-serving

I've just completed comparing the results of three survey's recently sent to me regarding self-publishing and self-published authors to see what the take away is (if there is any).

 

All three of these surveys were undertaken by companies that are, in the most part, dependent on authors like me who use their platform or services to self-publish their writing.

 

The survey sample is skewed since the respondents are, in some form or another, clients of these three enterprises. They either publish and distribute their e-books with Smashwords, advertise their e-books on one of WrittenWord Media's four sites, or possibly are doing all the above as well as contracting editorial, graphic design and marketing services from BookBaby.

 

The findings provided here are likely their optimistic interpretations.

 

Experience counts (maybe): Successful authors (in terms of book sales) have more writing experience. They spend more time writing and subsequently have more books available in their catalogue. They also contract more professional services, particularly editors and cover designers.

 

This, of course doesn't answer the question of how they became successful? Did they achieve success because of all these things (experience, time, hiring professionals), or once they achieved some success were the the able to spend the time, develop the catalogue and hire the professionals?

 

What to write. Fiction sells better than non-fiction and romance (especially contemporary, paranormal and erotica) sells far better than any other genre or literary writing. Under served markets include the romantic subgenres New Adult, Contemporary and YA.

 

How long should your book be? So much for all those pundits who claim novellas are all the rage because they can be read in one sitting or during a commute. Best sellers, again according to Smashwords, average ninety-two thousand words.

 

Book Marketing. Offering your e-book for free draws thirty-three times more then priced titles, but what's the upside to offering your books free?

 

Okay, so money doesn't matter to you, it's about making that reader connection, about putting forth your view of the world. Does offering your work at no charge achieve that? How many free books actually get read?

 

Not very many has been my experience both as a writer and a reader.

 

I've had hundreds of my books downloaded free and it's resulted in an insignificant number of reviews. On the other hand my ibook library is filled with books I've downloaded free and have yet to read.

 

See what I'm getting at. There's no downside to clicking and getting a book free.

 

This might explain why over sixty-one percent of published authors have asked friends or family members to review their books.

 

However, if you're writing a series, and series are more than likely going to generate best sellers, than offering the first book free is a good marketing ploy.

 

Speaking of FREE E-BOOKS. I'm participating in Smashwords Summer Sale and until July 31, 2017 my entire catalogue, eight novels and two plays are either FREE or 50% OFF. Go to https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin

 

What's the right price for an e-book? So if you opt not to offer your books free how much should you charge? Interestingly, e-books priced at $3.99 and $4.99 did better than those priced less - or more, at least on Smashwords.

 

In the end it was a lot of reading for very little worthwhile information, most of which was self-evident if you really think about it.

 

Here's how the sage folks at WrittenWord Media summed up the findings from their survey.

 

Indie publishing is a viable path to success. Many indie authors signed traditional publishing deals on the strength of their self-published books and many traditionally published authors are becoming indie authors because of more control and higher royalties. Hybrid publishing gives you the benefit of both paths.

 

This rosy prediction in light of the fact that 727,125 ISBNs were assigned to self-published titles in 2015, representing 625,327 individual indie books*.

 

Well, really, what did you expect them to say?

 

These surveys would have been more credible if they'd had similar terms of reference. WrittenWord Media considers a "successful author" as someone who makes $100,000 or more in a single year from book sales. Book sales of $500 or less categorizes you as an "emerging author".

 

At BookBaby you're a successful author if you've earned $5,000 or more annually from book sales. Those who earned less than $100 were labeled "lower earning authors".

 

Huh?

 

We definitely aren't comparing apples to apples here. How can one company consider a successful indie author as earning $5000 a year while another has it pegged at $100,000?

 

But it gets even weirder. Of the forty-three hundred authors who completed the BookBaby survey a little less than five percent fell into the category of the "high achieving group" earning $5000 or more.

 

If only about two hundred BookBaby authors earn $5000 or more how many WrittenWord Media authors earn over a hundred grand?

 

Or put another way, how can twenty successful BookBaby authors only be equal to one WrittenWord Media successful author?

 

See what I mean? It's like they're comparing different species.

 

The take away? Only that I now know how to categorize myself. I'm a "lower earning emerging author".

 

And on that we all agree.

 

Stay calm. Be brave. Watch for the signs

 

*According to Bowker, the exclusive U.S. agent for issuing International Standard Book Numbers.

 

Smashwords   http://smashwords.com

BookBaby   https://www.bookbaby.com

WrittenWord Media   https://www.writtenwordmedia.com

 

My Amazon Author Page   https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

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review 2017-04-14 14:58
Book Review: Engella By Paul Ian Cross
Engella - Paul Ian Cross,Alison Rasmussen

Title: Engella

Written By: Paul Ian Cross

Illustrated By: Alison Rasmussen

Series: The Engella Chronicles

Categories: children's fiction, kid's book, adventure, future, past, time travel, science fiction.

Read: 14th April, 2017

Rating: 3 / 5

Obtained: Amazon.com.au, Smashwords

Crossposted Review to: Goodreads, Amazon.com.au, Smashwords, Booklikes.

 

We first meet Engella in New Shanghai. The year is 2074 and she's living on the streets. She's on the run from the authorities and, when she's about to get caught, she activates a device which launches her through time. She finds herself in Scotland, the year being 1998. Annys is an elderly lady, walking her dog, Rupert. She takes Engella into her home.

 

Both Engella and Annys are reasonably interesting characters. There's obviously a lot of back story to either of them. However, seeing as it's a short story, it feels like a lot of details are missing or simply crammed in, without fully explaining points to the reader. For example, when Engella and Annys meet. Annys simply accepts Engella into her home and they have an in-depth conversation. This would be a fantastic opportunity to introduce us further to either character. However, the author skims over the events and it feels like it was kind of a wasted opportunity. The same can be said of the rest of the story. The setting and scenes, for example; I don't think we get a reasonable explanation as to why either Engella is being chased by the authorities. It's also a bit mystifying as to why she has some sort of time device; I think they ought to go to highly trained people and not teenagers. Especially considering the effects of time and how it might change future periods if someone were to change the past. However, I suppose a lot of that might be a bit too complex for a kid's book.

 

Another thing I've been considering is that there's nothing really special (for lack of a better word) about either time area. We visit both New Shanghai or Scotland in the book, but I don't feel like there's much to take in at either location. We don't get to take in much scenery and the author doesn't give much explanation about the qualities of either place. I feel like this is difficult to explain. Think about if you were to travel to appear in a random city, in any time period, and find yourself in an alleyway. What year is it and what city are you in? Can you tell this from your surroundings? It wouldn't always be likely. The same if you were to appear on some random beach; you mightn't be able to tell the year you are in. I feel like this is where the time travel aspects fall short. In both these cases, we know we're in a certain place and in a certain year. However, if we weren't told such things, it mightn't be obvious. If the author skipped telling us the date and place, it could even be the same year, in the same city (possibly connected to a beach), where Engella comes across a Scottish person.

 

The illustrations are by Alison Rasmussen and very well done. They're very detailed and obviously took a lot of effort on her part. The first is the cover image and I like the delicate colours. I also like the simplicity. The second is of a cat; it's my favourite of the drawings as it's very adorable. A third is of Engella and a fourth image is of Rupert, the dog.

 

It's a fairly original book, but I think we miss out on a lot of the important back-story and details. It has a great premise. I think it would get a lot of kids interested in time travel and science fiction. It's a short story of only ~3,700 words. However, it ends sort of abruptly and will be continued in the autumn of 2017. I don't think I would necessarily buy the next story in the series; it's just a bit too short and doesn't have a proper conclusion. Plus, I would likely then need to pay for the story after if it also has a cliff-hanger ending. I might consider purchasing it if it were novel length.

 

I obtained free copies of this book from Smashwords and Amazon.com.au. This is an honest review.

 

You can get your own copy of the book from these sites (as of right now, 14/04/2017): Amazon.com, Amazon.com.au, Smashwords, PaulIanCross.co.uk (the author's website).

However, please be aware that this is likely for a limited time. Please double check the price before purchasing!

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1971314301?
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text 2017-04-12 07:09
"Smashwords Questionnaire / Interview"

I asked a friend to come up with some questions for my 'Smashwords Interview' and these are what he came up with. I've written my answers to each of them. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/reneepaule

 

You have written five books - one for children - and have a sixth in the pipeline on the human condition. What drives you to write?

 

What makes a flower grow, a heart beat or the sun shine? I don’t know the answers to these questions or to what drives me to write. I only know that I’m driven and that the ‘drive’ grows stronger with each book.

 

Many people who read your books are looking for answers yet your books provide none; isn’t this rather a contradiction to being a self-help book?

 

No it isn’t. If I provide answers to questions people have then some of them will listen to me and I may be wrong - it has never been my intention to become a ‘guru’. Self-help means just that; we need to help ourselves and not rely on others to find solutions for us - which leaves us none the wiser; our strength can only be found within. We must look for our own answers and I can only show you how I’m looking for mine. Having said that, I actually have no answers - just fewer and fewer questions and this has made my heart less heavy to lug around.

 

What age group are your books aimed at, if any?

 

When I wrote ‘On The Other Hand’ I thought my audience would be in my own age group (over 50s). I was surprised to discover that younger people like them very much too, so my answer is from around 15 or so upwards.

 

Why did you start to illustrate your books after ‘On the other hand’ and how did the idea of ‘Dilly’ come about?

 

I never thought about illustrating ‘On the Other Hand’. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know I had the ability to draw so it never occurred to me - I wasn’t artistic in my youth. When I was writing ‘Just Around the Bend’ an idea popped into my head of a ‘thought bubble thinking’ and I decided to draw it - it was just a bit of fun. From then on Dilly - a thought form that thinks - became a character in his own right and he was good at demonstrating points that I made in the text. I use ‘he’ when I talk about Dilly but I really don’t think of him as either masculine or feminine - it’s just for the sake of convenience.

 

You do your own illustrations; how do you decide what aspect to illustrate? Your earlier books have fewer illustrations than ‘Stepping out of time’, which has 27; one short of the previous two books put together. Why is this?

 

Sometimes the Dilly illustrations pop into my head before I’ve even written the point I want him to demonstrate, and sometimes the ‘point’ comes first; I have no hard or fast rules about this and let the illustrations develop as and when they want to. For this reason I can’t really answer the second part of this question. I can tell you however, that the images for ‘Stepping Out of Time’ came to me so quickly that I began to wonder whether my next book would be in comic strip format - as it turned out it was to be a children’s picture book.

 

Why did you write a children’s book and do you have plans to write more of them? Again, an idea just came to me and I shared it with a friend and we decided to write and illustrate this book together. Yes, I have plans - and ideas - for more. Our children need to learn to think independently (outside the proverbial box) as much as we do. They learn from us and will become the future leaders of our world, so it’s important that we teach them not to be afraid of it.

 

The latest book you are working on; is this in the same tone as your previous books; will it have more or less illustrations?

 

I don’t believe that my tone changes, so my answer to the first part of this question is ‘Yes’. To date, I’ve not yet made any illustrations for it or designed the cover, so I can’t answer the second part of this question yet.

 

Is there much more that you can write about on the human experience before you run out of ideas?

 

I’m far from short of ideas. If anything, there’s a problem writing them down fast enough before I forget. Because the genres of my books are ‘self-reflection’ and ‘observation’ it follows that my ideas will only run out when I do! But, who is this ‘I’?

 

If you had to sum up your books in a ‘Hollywood pitch’ for example, ‘Sci-fi Meets Supernatural’, how would you describe it?

 

‘Beds of Nails and Other Comfortable Places’.

 

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

 

I can’t answer that question - I may not be around.

 

Your books have no mantras to repeat, no exercises or meditations to perform and no means of tracking progress made; in fact, on the face of it there is nothing for the reader to do. How do your books work, how do they help people who read them to help themselves?

 

Oh but they do have a mantra to repeat - ‘Who am I?’ Ask it and keep asking it. There are three ‘do’s in this question and this ‘doing’ has got us into enough trouble already. There really is nothing to ‘do', as such. We make life so complicated when it should be simple. My books aim to help people to think differently and to let go of all that holds them back from being the best person they can be - from becoming a responsible and mindful person in society. I’m told that my books are both a mirror and a lens, and I believe that to be true. If my books teach anything at all then they teach us the truth about ourselves - steering us inwards - and this is all too often a difficult place to visit.

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text 2017-03-08 05:36
Smashwords "Read an Ebook" Week

Whenever this time of year rolls around, I always end up clicking through page after page of books, hoping to find a few potential gems for free or cheap. Never mind that I have plenty of e-books to read, and that I still haven't gotten around to reading most of the stuff I've downloaded in past Smashwords sales.

 

So far, I've come across a set of books that made me think of Murdoch Mysteries (all free - confusing series numbering), one collection of sci-fi stories I'm mainly getting because one story features an AI (free), and J.J. Chow's mystery Seniors Sleuth, which contains this bit:

"Winston swiveled in his black mesh computer chair and surveyed the office. Not a bad look for the mother-in-law unit. With no wife and family to speak of, the spare room used to be his man cave. But he had swept all the consoles and accompanying video games into the main house in preparation for his new business, leaving only two electric blue inflatable chairs. They would serve as seats for his future clients, but he had made them classy by draping them with faux leather throws."

 

That last sentence makes me want to give the book shot.

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