Month: June 2016

Wednesday Wing – Guard Against Your Amazon Reviews Being Removed #wwwblogs @TerryTyler4

Some great advice from @TerryTyler4 regarding the removal of reviews from Amazon.

Rosie Amber

This week on Wednesday Wing…

Writers/Reviewers: Guard against your Amazon reviews being removed.

Terry Tyler offers advice and thoughts on the matter.

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There has been much blogged about lately on the subject of Amazon removing book reviews. I am no authority on this subject, but believe their principle is to counteract the growing number of fake reviews; writers who cannot get them any other way (I will not go into the reasons for this right now!) have perhaps made use of the various sites around the internet that sell five star reviews. The owners of such sites do not read the books, but just post reviews. I saw one that had posted around a hundred on the same day, all of which consisted of the five star rating and one word, ‘brillent’, which I imagine was supposed to say ‘brilliant’; I suspect many of these sites are run by scammers…

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‘Silent Water’ by @JanRuthAuthor #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Silent Water Cover LARGE EBOOK copy

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Part Three of the Wild Water Series 
The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; a dangerous web of lies concludes a bitter-sweet end.
Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set and someone who’s broken all the rules. An unlikely hero or a misguided fool?
In this sequel to Dark Water, Jack and Anna must face the consequences of their actions. As the police close in and Patsy’s manipulative ways hamper the investigations, will Jack escape unscathed?
With her career in tatters and an uncertain future, Anna has serious decisions to make. Her silence could mean freedom for Jack, but an emotional prison for herself. Is remaining silent the ultimate test of faith, or is it end of the line for Jack and Anna?

This is the third in Jan Ruth’s ‘Wild Water’ series and Jack is back and in more trouble than ever. You do need to have read the first two books to really get the most out of this, but they are such lovely books to read that it’s really no hardship!

Set mainly in the beautiful Welsh countryside, the author does a fantastic job of making the reader feel that they are there in the mountains. The settings are beautifully drawn and show the love that Jan Ruth obviously has for the places she describes. But it’s not all picturesque mountains and beautiful scenery. Ruth can capture the essence of a wet, pre-Christmas weekend in a small town equally well.

The characters are realistic, warm (for the most part!) and definitely drawn from real life. Jack and Anna want nothing more than to forget the incident with Simon Banks and to move on with their lives, but as suspicions mount (fuelled by the fabulously portrayed bitter ex-wife Patsy) tensions between them fester and grow. And this time it’s serious, as not only is their relationship at stake, but Jack is facing the very real threat of being accused of murder. Added to this are the everyday trials and tribulations of coping with the inevitable problems children (of all ages) bring with them, and the stresses of dealing with an ex-wife who is still pulling all the strings.

Jack is such a likeable character, the real star of the books. His best intentions are often doomed to failure, and his frustration comes across really well. You desperately want him to succeed; to find the happiness he deserves, and it’s the mark of a talented writer for a reader to feel so strongly about a character.

As with the previous books, Lottie, Jack’s pre-teen daughter, is a joy.Funny, entertaining, outrageous at times, her fragility is evident behind the showing–off, and that mix of emotions is another strength of the writing.

This is a perfect book for a quiet day with your feet up – in fact I recommend the whole series.

4 stars

 

Street Art in Bristol

Edgar degas

We were in Bristol this past Saturday visiting the university as my daughter is thinking of applying there to study Veterinary Science. It’s only the second time I’ve ever been to Bristol, but on both occasions I’ve been struck by what a lovely city it is.

Without getting too political (I’m sure that anyone who knows me even a little bit will have no doubt as to my views on today’s referendum), the atmosphere in the UK over the last few weeks has been toxic to say the least. We seem to have forgotten about the many benefits of multiculturalism, indeed of culture, and it was lovely to wander through the streets of Bristol, seeing people of many different backgrounds, faiths and cultures. I’m not sure what the exact ethnic make-up of Bristol is, but like most cities, it has that wonderful metropolitan feel – that sense, often missing in small towns, that you can be who you are and no one could care less.

One of the lovely things about Bristol of course, is its connection with street artists, Banksy among them, and the opportunity to see some of their work. It’s quite astonishing to be driving or walking down a Bristolian street, to glance up and see a work of art – just there, accessible, free, as it should be.

I was particularly pleased to see the queen/Ziggy Stardust piece by Incwel. I’m a fan of one but not so much the other (I’ll leave  you to decide which) and I love this:

We also saw this beautiful work by artist JPS:

JPS @ Park Row 150808-1

urbanartalacarte.blogspot.com

Art has always been a comment on our times, a way of expressing ourselves, whether through painting, poetry, novels, and even, nowadays, through blogs. Regular readers and followers will know that my new book involves a girl with a passion for the French nineteenth century painter Eugene Delacroix, an artist whose work I adore. I’ve been very lucky to see some of his paintings. Another painter I love is Mark Rothko, who could be viewed as being as far from Delacroix as it’s possible to get. I’ve also seen some of his work, both in London and in New York.

What Delacroix, Rothko and, I feel, these street artists have in common, is the way they provoke emotion, the way they cause discussion, the way they draw attention, both to themselves and to the world around them. Art, particularly now, can be a provocation and a balm. It has always been a way of celebrating diversity, and culture, and humanity.

I’ll be keeping that in mind today.

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#writing a novel – Should you write for an audience? #wwwblogs #Iamwriting

It’s almost a year since I wrote this post – and I still don’t know the answer (and I’m still almost nowhere with the WIP!). So do you write with a specific reader in mind?

When I started researching and jotting down ideas for this post, I was pretty certain that the gist would be to help fellow writers to think about just who they were writing for – who their audience was. After all, what’s the point of writing if you don’t have an audience, people to read your book, to buy your book, to recommend your book to other people? That’s the whole reason we write, isn’t it? To share our stories with people who will enjoy them?

So I thought about the audience I’d had in mind when I began writing The Black Hours. And I realised that I hadn’t had anyone in mind at all. I’d simply had a story in my head that I wanted to write down. Yes, I wanted it published, yes, I wanted people to read it, but I certainly hadn’t thought to myself – this is a novel that will go down well with Mrs Smith at number 27, or the postman. Had I done the whole thing wrong? Should I have been thinking about my target audience before I began to write?

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As I so often do, I turned to Google to see if I had been doing things wrong again. And it turns out that apparently I have. There’s a raft of articles about thoroughly researching your audience. Some suggest visualising your book for sale and then analysing the people buying it. What do they look like? What are their hobbies? What do they do for a living?

Now, I do think it’s important to have your reader in mind when you write- at least to a certain degree – particularly if you are writing for children or young adults. But does anyone really work it out to this extent?

Yes, I have readers in mind when I’m writing, and yes I have my clients’ readers in mind when I’m editing – usually I’m thinking, will people understand that bit, will they follow that plot point etc. But when I write, and when I’m editing, the story comes first. Afterwards, I might think about who would enjoy it, what they would expect to see, etc. For example, with historical fiction, I know readers will expect the details to be accurate. And ‘The Black Hours’ is pretty dark, so my audience certainly won’t be readers of historical romance or chick lit fans. But the story comes first. Otherwise I’m writing to a formula, and surely that’s not great for me or my readers.

So, I’m left in a quandary really. And certainly no wiser than when I began to write this post. Internet experts say that I should have a target audience in mind, that it will focus my writing and increase my chances of success. After all, a publisher needs to know who to market to, and if I self-publish then I’ll need to sort my categories on Amazon. I can see the wisdom in that (although my WIP is set in three different times, has one real figure from history and one sort of mythological figure and a great deal of stuff about painting and Romanticism- not sure what genre I’m going to stick that one in). But should a story that’s going round my head change to fit a certain genre? Should I alter a character to suit some idea of a potential ‘customer’ in my head? Or should I be true to my story?

What do you think?

‘Flesh’ by @dylanjmorgan #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I reviewed’Flesh’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

It feeds. It grows. 

The small town of Vacant harbors a secret so terrifying that the local lawmen will do anything to keep it hidden—including murder. Something sinister stalks the surrounding woods, a horrifying creature thought to be only a mystical legend. It hunts at night, killing with ravenous voracity. Deputies Carson Manning and Kyle Brady are the harvesters: they find the victims, tie them to the baiting post. Sheriff Andrew Keller and Deputy Matthew Nielsen are the cleaners: they dispose of the corpses. But when Vacant’s townsfolk take matters into their own hands, nothing can contain the slaughter.

The deadly entity isn’t the only menace Sheriff Keller has to face. He has his own dark secret, a past he tries to hide behind frequent alcohol binges. Now that past has come back to haunt him and will throw him headlong into a traumatic situation that could mean life or death for him and those he holds dear.

I love a good horror story. I grew up devouring Stephen King books and I’ve never found another author that does small town spooky oppressive atmosphere, flawed but sympathetic characters and downright ‘bump in the night’ scares so well. So Dylan J. Morgan had a lot to live up to.

He has the small town atmosphere down perfectly. Vacant and its flawed inhabitants are compellingly drawn and easy to picture. I was torn between sympathy and frustration at Sheriff Keller and despised the deputies and the town mayor. Keller in particular was a complex character – beautifully done, he is the epitome of a man struggling to come to terms with his past, a man who knows his life has been a waste, who knows that he is weak, and yet still has that shred of humanity that has you rooting for him and wanting things to be alright.

The threat that the town faces is well -portrayed and satisfyingly scary, and the opening of the book is a real hook, paving the way for the gruesome secret at the heart of Vacant. The writing itself is technically flawless. The pacing is perfect, the dialogue authentic and the amount of gore pitched perfectly.

The only sticking point for me is the motivation of the ordinary townspeople. I didn’t quite buy that they would agree so whole-heartedly with how the police, preacher and major choose to deal with the threat to their town. These are nice, normal people. I’m not saying they can’t agree to it, only that I wanted to know more clearly why they had – why they were so convinced that this was the only option. There is scope perhaps for the religious element to be played up a bit more here. What Stephen King always does so well is make you believe that ordinary people can do dreadful things. And while this book was a compelling, competent and really enjoyable read, I didn’t completely believe it.

4 stars

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT FLESH by @dylanjmorgan #Horror #amreading

 

My review of Dylan J. Morgan’s ‘Flesh’ for RBRT. No hesitation in recommending this to lovers of horror and fans of Stephen King.

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs at Alison has been reading Flesh by Dylan J Morgan I love a good horror story. I grew up devouring Stephen King books and I’ve never found anothe…

Source: Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT FLESH by @dylanjmorgan #Horror #amreading

My A-Z of Books #IAmReading #wwwblogs

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I first saw on the lovely Shelley Wilson’s blog, although the idea originally came from the Perpetual Page Turner. As my Wednesday posts have been rather ‘ranty’ of late, I thought it was time for something a bit more positive!

Author you’ve read the most books from.

Either Hilary Mantel or Stephen King – which is a bit of a contrast now I come to think of it! Although they are both exceptional story tellers. I’ve also read a lot of books by Terry Tyler – her novels are pure ‘get away from it all’ reads, perfect for a holiday and a rare quiet Sunday afternoon.

Best sequel ever.

‘Bring Up the Bodies’ the sequel to ‘Wolf Hall’. Hilary Mantel again.

She’s an amazing writer, and I was lucky enough to see her being interviewed once. She’s incredibly intelligent and charming.

 

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Me and Hilary!

Currently reading.

‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ by Hubert Selby Jr. I’m trying to complete the David Bowie reading challenge and there are so many books on the list that I’ve always wanted to read. So far this is … interesting! last-exit

Drink of choice while reading.

A mug of very strong coffee if I’m lucky enough to be having a lie in and am reading in bed on a Sunday morning. Or a very large glass of red wine if it’s past 6pm. Oh alright, past 5pm.

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E-Reader of physical book?

Both. I was very resistant to eBooks but then once I realised I could takes hundreds of books on holiday with me without exceeding the baggage allowance I was sold.

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school.

There was definitely no one like Heathcliff in my Basingstoke comprehensive.

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No one looked anything like this at Brighton Hill Community school!

Glad you gave this book a chance.

‘Beltane’ by Alys West, for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I’m not keen on fantasy, but thought I’d give this a go, mainly because it’s set in Glastonbury, a place I’ve enjoyed visiting in the past. It’s a really good book, very well-written and lovely for a bit of escapism.

Hidden gem book.

‘The Meadow’ – James Galvin.

While Galvin certainly isn’t an unknown, I had never read any of his work until this appeared on my required reading list for my Masters in Creative Writing. I duly bought it and read it and it was then removed from the course! But I didn’t mind because it is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.


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Important moment in your reading life.

Reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ for the first time. I know it sounds clichéd but it really made me realise just how powerful fiction can be. And that you don’t have to write what you know.

Also reading with my children when they were small – just wonderful times.

Just finished reading.

‘Flesh’ by Dylan J. Morgan for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. It’s in the vein of Stephen King and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do like a good bit of horror!

Kind of books you won’t read.

Religious. Sweet romance. Westerns (unless it’s Larry McMurtry’s ‘Lonesome Dove’). Not too keen on fantasy or sci-fi either unless it’s extremely well-written. And please keep ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ well away from me. I much prefer this version:

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Longest book you’ve read.

War and Peace’. I still show off about it. It is absolutely a masterpiece though.

Major book hangover.

A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. I read it in one sitting when I was in bed with flu and sobbed and sobbed when I finished it. Just completely and utterly heart-breaking. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

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Number of bookcases you own.

Two. With many more books piled up everywhere and stashed in the loft.

One book you’ve read multiple times.

Wuthering Heights

Preferred place to read.

In bed if it’s cold, in the garden on the rare occasion when it isn’t. Or preferably by a pool in France!

Quote that inspires you/give you all the feels from a book you’ve read.

It’s not exactly inspirational in the usual sense, but it is just such a masterful opening to a novel:

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“So now get up.”

Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard. His head turns sideways; his eyes are turned toward the gate, as if someone might arrive to help him out. One blow, properly placed, could kill him now.

Blood from the gash on his head – which was his father’s first effort – is trickling across his face. Add to this, his left eye is blinded; but if he squints sideways, with his right eye he can see that the stitching of his father’s boot is unravelling. The twine has sprung clear of the leather, and a hard knot in it as caught his eyebrow and opened up another cut.

“So now get up!” Walter is roaring down at him, working out where to kick him next.

 (Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel)

And from ‘Wuthering Heights’:

“Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” 

Reading regret.

Being scared to read the classics when I was younger. I suppose I felt that they weren’t really for me, that they were something to read for an exam. Now I have less time to get through them all!

Series you started and need to finish.

I don’t really like reading a series. Too much commitment – too little time.

Three of your all-time favourite books.

A Place of Greater Safety (imho the best Hilary Mantel novel)

Wuthering Heights

To Kill a Mockingbird

(I’m going to cheat here though because I can’t possibly leave out Alice Walker’s completely wonderful ‘The Color Purple‘.)

Unapologetic fangirl book.

‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson. I read this on holiday, lying in the sun buy the pool in France. It was completely and utterly absorbing. I can’t believe some of the reviews – it’s as if these people have read a different book.


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Very excited for this release more than all others.

‘The Mirror and the Light’ – the sequel to ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel.

Worst bookish habit.

Not really listening to anyone when I’m reading, just nodding and saying ‘mmm’ in a vague way, even when someone’s trying to tell me something important.

Dropping bookmarks in the bath.

X marks the spot: Start on the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book.

Another Bronte.  Charlotte this time and ‘Jane Eyre’. I’m not pretentious (honestly) it just so happens that I have all the classics that I own lined up on the bookshelf together.

Your latest purchase.

‘Furiously Happy’ by Jenny Lawson. She’s just absolutely brilliant, hilarious and really inspiring.

I read ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’ recently and adored it. Can’t wait to start this one.

The lovely Jenny Lawson

You can read her blog here.

Zzzz-snatcher book (Las book that kept you up way too late).

‘Chasing the Scream’ by Johann Hari about the so-called war on drugs. Stunning and scary and should be compulsory reading. I hate the cliché but I really couldn’t put it down.

So there you have it, my A-Z of books.

 

 

‘1984’ by George Orwell #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview #DBowieBooks

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As books and David Bowie are two of the greatest loves of my life, I’m trying very hard to complete the David Bowie reading challenge that I discovered on the fabulous Scatterbooker blog. It’s a great list, eclectic and intriguing, and there are lots of books there that I read years ago or that have been on my ‘I really must get round to reading this’ list of books for years. One of the best and the most memorable and a book that I really believe everyone should read is George Orwell’s absolute masterpiece, ‘1984’.

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Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

‘Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four is perhaps the most pervasively influential book of the twentieth century.

There’s a reason that this classic appears on so many ‘must read’ lists. It is truly a masterpiece. And the themes it tackles are as relevant today as they ever were. I read it first when I was in my late teens, angry at the world (I still am!) and looking for answers (I’m beginning to think there aren’t any) and this was a revelation. Re-reading it all these years later, I was struck by how it rings true today and was completely inspired and awed by Orwell’s foresight, his intelligence and his skill as a writer. There isn’t much to say about this book that hasn’t been said before, so I’m going to let the experts convince you:

“”Nineteen Eighty-Four is a remarkable book; as a virtuoso literary performance it has a sustained brilliance that has rarely been matched in other works of its genre…It is as timely as the label on a poison bottle.” -“New York Herald Tribune 


“A profound, terrifying, and wholly fascinating book…Orwell’s theory of power is developed brilliantly.” -“The New Yorker 


“A book that goes through the reader like an east wind, cracking the skin…Such are the originality, the suspense, the speed of writing, and withering indignation that it is impossible to put the book down.” -V. S. Pritchett 


“Orwell’s novel escorts us so quietly, so directly, and so dramatically from our own day to the fate which may be ours in the future, that the experience is a blood-chilling one.” -“Saturday Review

I certainly can’t put it better than any of these more qualified and competent critics, so I won’t try. All I’ll say is that I agree whole-heartedly with them all, and I urge you to read this wonderful, terrifying, heartbreaking, and totally relevant book.

5 stars

24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear

Love this 🙂

Warning:Curves Ahead

This morning, as I was perusing my Facebook timeline, I happened upon an article that a lovely friend shared. It was entitled “24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30”, and it triggered Maximum Eye-Rolling from everyone who took the time out to read it.

Written by Kallie Provencher for RantChic.com, this “article” (I use the term loosely) highlighted things such as “leopard print”, “graphic tees”, and “short dresses” (because “By this age, women should know it’s always better to leave something to the imagination”). Kallie, it seems, has a number of opinions on what women over 30 should and shouldn’t be doing, having also penned “30 Things Women Over 30 Shouldn’t Own” and “20 Pictures Women Over 30 Need To Stop Posting Online”. (What is this magical post-30 land where women are suddenly not allowed to do or own so many things?!)

Motivated by Kallie’s “article”, I decided to…

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#BookReviews & Bags of Babble lead to success for @ShelleyWilson72

Rosie Amber

Shelley Wilson Brings Us All Inspiration.

Interviewed by Douglas McPherson for the June 2016 issue of  Writer’s Forum, Shelley is the first to admit that when she is nervous or excited she will babble away none stop, we love the enthusiastic babble. In the article Shelley tells us about how a blogging idea lead to her book. Today I want to remind readers about one of Shelley’s books and share with you Shelley’s experience.

“How I Changed My Life In A Year”

I read Shelley’s book in September 2014 and posted my review which Shelley talks about in the interview;

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Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Book Description

Straight-talking, honest and with touches of humour, Shelley Wilson shares her journey as she sets out to prove that being a 40-something, single mum with back fat and grey hairs isn’t the end of life as we know it.

From fighting flab to writing a 50,000 word novel in 30…

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