Archive for the ‘Creative Writing’ Category

The 7 ways of the tale teller
May 23, 2013

sevenDid you think there were more? Well of course there are as many ways as people but a little bit of delving around reveals a strange and perplexing truth about storytelling – all the stories anyone ever writes are based around one or the other of the following seven themes:

1.       Overcoming the monster :dagger

Think of St George and the dragon, The War of the Worlds – and so topical now – Dracula and his gluttonous vampire army. Monsters represent our fears – dark and dank, and that we have to beat to achieve happiness. So of course that is why we are buried under a ton of vampire and werewolves  YA (young adult) fiction at the moment. What more dank and drear source of fear is there than adolescence?

 colours2. Rags to riches:

Oh easy, I hear you say – I’m getting the hang of this now. Cinderella, right? Well, yes, of course – and The Ugly Duckling, Jane Eyre, Slum Dog … it crosses all genre, cultures and  centuries. It gives credence to our belief in ourselves – we may start out mundane, poor, struggling, but we can – through hardship and trial, achieve the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and return home – bad boy done good etc. It may sound trite, but seeing the underdog triumph does us all good and gives us hope – so we love to read about it too.

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3. The quest:

Another very topical one here – Lord of the Rings is the best and most spectacular example of this – and it’s an epic journey too, but you could go for Watership Down, or Raiders of the Lost Ark as well. There must be a hero, a lure or pull to an all-important goal and thrills, spills and almost death along the way before success brings the conquering hero home again with their spoils. Uplifting, inspiring, escapism – wonderful!

4. Voyage and return:

The Wizard of Ox  – I had to have that one as it is the production my daughter is dancing in this summer, Alice in Wonderland, The Time Machine … Traveling out of everyday surroundings, the hero(ine) and the group of people traveling with them have to cope with the strangeness of another world, face shadowy threats  and make a thrilling escape back to a normality they now appreciate where they had found it boring and mundane before  – ‘there’s no place like home…’ (And of course there isn’t!)

5. Comedy:shoes too big man

Bridget Jones had us laughing all the way here and back with her, and then – if you’re a Shakespeare fan, so does The taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream etc . It’s all good clean fun where the central character is blinded to the reality of things by their ego, short-sightedness, one track mind, whereas the reader/audience sees the wider picture and the humour lies in seeing the two juxtaposed. Of course our hero(ine) sees the error of their ways and All’s Well that Ends Well but not before they’ve been led a merry dance along the way. The end result is self-knowledge and reconciliation where there was harmony and unrest.

6. Tragedy:

Ironically the same as comedy – and essentially the same as all the other story lines ultimately, where there is a problem to solve, ordeals to overcome and a journey in search of the goal – but rather sadly, the outcome will involve – for some of the characters, at least – death, destruction or disaster. And if you’re watching  a Jacobean tragedy the body count on  stage will probably be higher than the numbers in the audience (I love a bit of blood and guts!).

And finally there is…

daffodils7.  Rebirth (as one would expect after death, destruction and disaster):

Again a journey to achieve self-realisation, but the enemy is often – at least in part – from within. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Secret Garden are all based on rebirth. Often there is a direct confrontation between dark and light to achieve self-understanding and healing.

So let me think which of these I have written so far.

front cover CM

Chained Melody has to be rebirth, with an element of tragedy involved too. Someone or something has to fail, suffer or be lost in order for self-knowledge to enable the two main characters to achieve their form of happiness.

Web Web cover design - draftis dark and dire at times, and funny and lighthearted at others, but its message is all about seeing oneself and others clearly and putting that understanding together to create a whole. Two of the characters are so immersed in their own machinations they fail to see the most dangerous aspects of the whole until it is almost too late, and the other character is dark, dark, dark – confronting themself, and allowing the darkness to take over… It has elements of a tragedy too but is again a journey towards rebirth for my two dipsy daisies in it.

Then I have left to consider Falling Awake Falling awake draft cover design 2– which is definitely all about overcoming a monster – but defining the monster is as intriguing as finding out how it is overcome – or is it? And Patchwork People, which I have just started, is a quest, pure and simple.

Job done.

Web will be released in the Autumn, Falling Awake Spring 2014 and Patchwork People towards the end of 2014 (unless I get lost on the quest).

Which one of the 7 are you working on?

Follow me on twitter @Storytellerdeb

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeborahMartin.Author

Or find me on my website: www.debbiemartin.co.uk

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His, yours, theirs or Gods – picking a POV.
April 28, 2013

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‘I wandered lonely as a cloud …’ (William Wordsworth)- 1st  person POV

 

 

‘He rammed the dagger hard under his victims ribs and watched the blood ooze stickily over his hand …’ (Debbie Martin) 3rd person POVdagger

 

And the tricky question is – ‘to be or not to …’ No, the trickier question still is ‘which POV to use?’

 

There are in fact several on offer – the five types of point of view (POV) are:

1. 1st Person Point of View – the person telling the story does it through their own eyes ‘I’. It allows the author to develop the inner workings of their characters mind and emotions in fine detail, but can be hard to pull off unless the character is completely ‘real’. Wonderful for psycho’s and deeply philosophical themes as you can really delve into motivations, but be careful not to get caught up in too much tell and not enough show..

2. 3rd Person Point of View – the characters actions are reported ‘he/she/they’ but can be expanded on by some explanation of why they do what they do… ‘she stole him. She thought Carrie must have known that she would steal her lover. Why wouldn’t she when she’d always been a bitch to her? It was just too easy not to …’ This POV reports fully, and has the advantage of being able to comment on the motivations behind the characters actions but is not ‘inside the head’ of the character as one could be when writing in 1st person POV. A useful mix of show and tell.

3. 3rd Person limited POV – the characters actions are reported but without the advantage of examining why they do as they do. The author has to really concentrate on showing why, rather than POV confusiontelling. ‘She stole Carrie’s lover. She’d always been a bitch towards her in the past …’ (but why had she?)

4. Omniscient Point of View – everything is revealed to the reader but not to the characters – often by a narrator, so the reader knows why everyone does everything, but the characters don’t. It’s rather like standing on the top of a tall building and watching the people scrabble around like ants below – you know who is about to be squished and who run off with the big crumb some other human dropped, but they don’t.

5. Limited Omniscient Point of View – like the characters, there are hidden parts of the story that the reader doesn’t know either  – a lot like real life, actually!

Once you’ve picked your POV, the trick is to stick to it – or rather, the trick is not to get unstuck by it and find you’ve switched POV half way through, without realising it…

‘He watched her approach from a distance, marvelling at the easy way she picked her way through the molehills that had erupted overnight on the smooth green lawn. She was slim and lithe, the way he liked women to be. The old fat woman who ran the site office disgusted him with her rolls of fat. This woman enchanted him.

She in turn was amused by his close scrutiny of her, wondering if he watched all women as closely as this…’

confusionIn the first paragraph, we are in 3rd person POV, which is fine.

 

In the second paragraph, we are also in 3rd person POV – which is also fine – but it is a different character’s 3rd person POV. Whoever you start with, stick with them; and whichever POV you are using, keep within it. Consistency is key.

 

I used 1st person POV all the way through in my novel Courting the Dark, which is due out in July. The twist though was that I have three heads I jump into to tell the tale – and one of them is very sick indeed, but the others don’t know that – and neither does the reader know who it is either! If you are telling all in 1st person POV, remember to also keep your reader hooked along the way. They either have to absolutely love and identify with the character your writing as, or be fascinated to know what is going to happen next despite being already in their head …

A little on characterisation  coming up next time …

Follow me on Twitter @Storytellerdeb

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/DebbieMartin.Author

or via my website: www.debbiemartin.co.uk

 

 

 

14 ways to turn a true tale
April 9, 2013

Style is a tricky tale. It’s not the letters and words that count, it’s the way you put them together – a bit like size not mattering. What’s even more difficult is that appreciation of style is completely subjective – what one person likes another hates. The most important aspect of style is finding the one YOU like.

quillSomeone once told me never to compromise myself or my values as whilst someone might detest me for my principles and manner of delivering them, someone else will love me and it whilst the person who loves me will read avidly and delightedly whatever I write, no amount of persuasion will coerce the detester to read the detested.  So what useful tips are there to be passed on about finding YOUR style? Here’s a flighty fourteen that I can think of, but there will be many more if you regularly listen to other writers views on writing and styling, starting with possibly the most important:

  1. Be true to you – be authentic. No –one else is you, and no-one else will express themselves like you so be you and be proud of you, whatever your thoughts, ideas, use of language or tone. You are unique: revel in it.
  2. Don’t worry about going over the lines. When we were children we learned how to carefully colour inside the lines and follow the required rote in class. Individualism is all about throwing away the rule book and devising your own so don’t worry if you express yourself differently or unconventionally. It is that too, which makes your writing unique and fascinating.
  3. Give your ideas room to breathe. If you cramp yourself up in either thought or response, you can never let anything grow and develop. Be prepared to let your mind and imagination wander, examine new and unexpected possibilities, learn new skills and question old ways. Open your mind and your style will follow.
  4. Say it aloud. When you read something aloud you have to out in the breathing spaces and intonation. If it doesn’t flow, make sense or has little impact, reading aloud will highlight the defects very quickly indeed.
  5. Tread the hire wire without a net. If you want to be fresh and inspirational, you have to be prepared to go out on a limb, examine ideas or concepts you may be uncomfortable with yourself, experiment with styles and words and content you might otherwise fight shy of. Don’t. Embrace a challenge and ‘blow the ****** doors off’!
  6. How do I ‘sound’? It isn’t only what you say it’s how you say it, so say it in a way that is both easy for you to express and for a reader to read. Your tone is as important as your content and style. If you moralise, you will potentially antagonise. If you judge, you will potentially alienate and if you don’t approach the issue with equilibrium, you will miss valuable aspects and opportunities to engage your readers.
  7. pen and bookDon’t worry if you aren’t the first. Plagiarism is word theft, but our ideas are nevertheless all the aggregates of every book we’ve read, film we’ve seen, discussion we’ve had or experience we’ve shared. Don’t be afraid to use these influences to bring your writing and your ideas to life because the take you have on it will be yours alone, and therefore, no matter how many times it may have been considered before, your treatment of it will be brand new.
  8. Write every day. Practice makes perfect, and more writing will encourage more writing – simples.
  9. Believe in yourself, because in order to write you MUST. You are the centre of your writing universe and in order to engage your readers, they have to believe that is so too.
  10. Don’t drivel – know what you mean and your reader will too. If you’re not clear on anything, research it until you are. Your reader needs to respect you and your information must be accurate.
  11. Study yourself know who you are so you can express yourself openly, honestly and with clarity. If you don’t know your own mind, no-one else will either.
  12. Write with passion. Become an artistic beast, not a domestic pet and express yourself freely. Don’t be prim, or proper, be bold and bad – readers want to read something inspiring and riveting- grab them, hold them and take them with you.
  13. Know your own values – much like knowing yourself, but values are the outward demonstration of your inner beliefs and they need to be apparent in your writing for your voice to be authentic and your writing to be credible. Take some time examining your belief systems and values so you know what it is you are subconsciously or consciously interpreting through your writing.
  14. 14.   Don’t follow the crowd – be unpredictable. You are, after all, aren’t you? You’re a writer …chinese writing

And if you want to try a bit of fun, see which writer you write most like here:

http://iwl.me/

and check out another useful blog/handout here (if you ignore the Americanisms):

http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/style/

Follow me on Twitter: @Storytellerdeb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DebbieMartin.Author

Website: http://www.debbiemartin.co.uk

 

Finding a style
April 9, 2013

Writing style:

What is it? Is it genre-specific – a certain format that stamps the writers presence on their prose? Is it content specific – dependent on what you are writing about? Or is it all down to intent? An underlying principle that delivers a specific impact aside from the words it is conveyed through.

Probably all of these- and more. Style is a writer’s personal signature created through their collection and use of words. It seems easy, when we refer to a writer’s style, to assume that as soon as anyone starts writing, they immediately adopt their personal style and that’s it.

Child writing Of course it’s hardly that simple. Personal style is something that develops over a period of time- like the way children grow. The five year old shows only the tantalising whisp of the promise of the adult they will become. Professor Winston, in his documentary series of ‘7 up’, ‘14 up’ and so on tried to demonstrate how the adult-to-be was clearly present in the child, and in as much as he could indicate certain traits in  them, but it was very much down to the experiences they had and the opportunities that came their way that shaped their future. It’s the old nature/nurture argument. We have latent abilities  but we have to do something with them to develop them into skills, so writing style doesn’t automatically flow from the first piece of prose we write, it grows from practice and experimentation.

How to?

Trial and error, experimentation and repetition, and wide reading help, but in the end it will be down to time, volume and feedback that will ultimately develop the style you stick with – how you feel about it, how well it delivers the message you want to give, and whether your readers get that same satisfaction and understanding from reading it in that format. That is where writing exercises and prompts and subsequent feedback and critique has most value.

To play around with possible forms, look at a variety of writing styles amongst well-known authors – the flowing-thought style of Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar , the densely descriptive and somewhat turgid style of Hilary Mantel (Bring up the Bodies), the pacy style of Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine (most recent – The Child’s Child)  or the almost conversational style of Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending). These are just a few ideas – pick a favourite author, or a new one you’ve not read before – or one that is a current award winner – of the Costa etc. Now, try out writing in their style and see how it fits with you. Take any piece of prose – it can just be taken from a newspaper article, if you like, and write it in the style you’ve chosen.  How does it fit with you? Are you happy writing in that style? How have you instinctively modified it? Do you like reading that style of prose?

writing 4

 

writing 3

 

writing 2

 

 

 

 

 

Now turn it around and take a section from one of their books and try paraphrasing it into your words. What comes out the other end? It will almost invariably be the style you instinctively slip into and that will form a basis for how you style your future writing, although you may adopt several styles depending on the work you are doing at the time. For instance essays and academic articles will almost certainly have a more literary and formal style, magazine articles more conversational and fiction may have any style you like to adopt as long as it melds with the genre you are writing in. After that, it is a case of write, write, and write, and you will hone your style more and more; and invite feedback and positive criticism whenever you can.

Do not take criticism personally; take it as a means to improvement, after all, the most successful style – however it is formed – is the one a reader wants to read.

Follow me on Twitter @Storytellerdeb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DebbieMartin. Author

Website: http://www.debbiemartin.co.uk

Do you have an evil twin?
December 29, 2012

Do you have an evil twin?

You know the one that eats the packet of biscuits when you’re on a diet, or flirts with someone’s partner at a party, or secretly uses the credit card you’d hidden at the back of your purse when you know the credit balance is already too high, or eats the last rolo … the bad side

Yep, that’s the one. It’s your alter ego. The one you really don’t want to admit to but who is there with you, every step of the way, dogging the nice, kind, principled things you do with the mean little comments about what you’d really like to do…

Now that sounds bad – and a little weird, but actually its ok for us to all have that BAD person inside because comparing like with like doesn’t work, but comparing good with bad lets you see what is really the right thing to do and what really is not! Good and bad luck work the same way. If you didn’t have bad things happen to you occasionally, you wouldn’t be able to leap about in quite the same way when something good pops up. If it was all good, there would be nothing different to notice would there?

So why do we have a good and a bad side? Freud, Jung and a whole host of others psychs have plenty to say about it. Maslow is famous for proposing that human motivation is based on a hierarchy of needs. The lowest level of need is physiological and survival needs, such as hunger and thirst. Further levels up include belonging and love, self-esteem, and finally self-actualisation.

Self-actualisation, hmm – what the ****** is that? Well the nearest in layman’s language to it is

  • the discovery of one’s vocation or destiny,
  • the realisation of life as precious,
  • acquisition of important experiences,
  • being able to developing choice,
  • and having a sense of accomplishment.

Ok, what has that to do with good and bad? Well, the crux of that is as we approach a new ‘New Year’. Are your choices and your 2013 going to be ‘bad’, or ‘good’? Is your alter ego who grumbles about everything, criticises everyone, refuses to do anything new, and is dissatisfied about life in general because it is all ‘bad’ going to take the first step into 2013, or is your ‘good’ persona going to beat it there?

midnight approachesWe are all about to face the New Year’s resolution crisis point any day now in a time when the economy is in recession, businesses are failing and everyone is finding it tougher and more depressing than any time since the 1930’s. Those New Year choices will take you at least a year forward; maybe much further, so don’t let your alter ego keep you in the old ways of 2012. Be pro-active if you haven’t, brave even if you don’t think you are, optimistic even though you’re not. It’s not surprising to know that ‘self-actualisation’ is in your hands, and so is the fate of your evil twin …

I have given life to two evil twins in Courting the Dark which is coming out next year. One of the characters is my weak and silly side, and another is my very wicked one. Now you have to read the book when it comes out to see what they’re like, don’t you 😉

Come and read more on www.debbiemartin.co.uk

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Interview with the Author
November 21, 2012

I’m being a bit of a narcissist here but I was very flattered to be interviewed the other day and here is the interview report:

Interview with Debbie Martin, author of The Strategy

Tell us about The Strategy.
A bit of fun, with a serious purpose. If you’re single and don’t want to be, how to make the most of ALL your opportunities to meet a mate and make it last – without going online or embarrassingly trying to sell yourself via an introduction agency. What am I talking about ? The Strategy: Single and Don’t Want to Be? All the directions and none of the detours … Now out on Kindle for a teeny tiny £2 and yet containing so many ruses, surprises and clever tips – right down to how to respond to a text for maximum attraction – and from some of the most up and coming dating guru’s too.

What genre is it?
Dating and relationship/self-help.

What would you say if someone asked what makes you an expert on this subject?
I found myself single again over 7 years ago and in that time have tried more or less everything there is – introduction agencies, blind dates, speed-dating, internet dating and ‘singles’ groups – in the misapprehension that you HAVE to be in a relationship. Of course you don’t – we would all just prefer to be, and for many, it is the difference between contentment and dissatisfaction. My experiences have led me to believe that the old fashioned way of things actually work best – meet, befriend and then get intimate. As a result I now also run a singles social events group on the south coast of England with over 2000 members and we socialise. Of course some date too, but they are dating people they’ve already got to know and liked first …

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Young, old and in between, as long as they’re single.

Aren’t the techniques a single 20 year old needs to employ different from those a 40 year old might use?
In many ways, no; you have to be able to make contact, flirt, interact and sustain a relationship in exactly the same way but possibly the venue and environment that a 20 year old does that in as opposed to a 40 year old differs sufficiently to make their behaviour different.

For a 20 year old a relationship can start and end in a night and they are still testing the waters with love and dating so their relationships are often more experimental and more casual. For a 40 something, the element of security and reliability is more important, so their approach will be more qualitative than quantitative. However, all the techniques in ‘The Strategy’ would work for either age or sex.

People sometimes say that if you go out looking for love that is when you are least likely to find it. Is that a nonsense?
No, I think it is true. When you aren’t seeking to impress or put on a show, you are your most natural self and you are far more likely to attract someone who is interested in the real you than when you are putting yourself on display. Think of all your friends – how did they become your friends? Because you went all out to convince them? Or because they simply got to know and liked you for who you are? The same applies with romantic relationships.

There are more singles out there than possibly ever before in human history. Are we just forgetting skills that came naturally to our forebears?
There are several reasons for the numbers of singles out there now.
• Firstly there is choice and independence. Women are not now expected to marry and settle down. They can – and sometimes do – choose to put more into their career than their relationship potential.
• There is no longer the same expectation that marriage is for life and you have to stick it out whatever. If it goes wrong, couples now choose to separate and try their luck with someone else.
• The internet. Yes, there is no doubt it has affected our people skills. Whilst we think we are getting better at them, we are in fact getting worse. How many Customer Service operatives do you find rude and abrupt, rather than welcoming and helpful? How many people spend more time texting than talking? How many people opt to send an email to a phone call because it can be winged off immediately and the answer left in abeyance until it suits to reply? How many internet daters do you hear complaining about being ignored, cut off dead, two-timed or made to feel of less interest than the other ones on their prospective dates list simply because they ARE on a list? Unfortunately the internet – for all its usefulness and expediency in current society – does create an artificial barrier between people which makes it easier to treat each other with less humanity, courtesy and care than if we had to deal with those same people face to face. Consequently our communication and people skills have become less sensitive and empathetic since the internet has connected us globally. If you had to talk to someone face to face and tell them why you had ignored their invitation to chat, would you ignore that invitation quite so readily…?

But we find our books, our music, our groceries, our friends online – so why should our life partners be so different?
Because life is lived in the real world and whilst the internet is part of our real world, people and relationships are what add the star quality to it. Books, groceries, music are all commodities. Friends and lovers are not. And although there are now dating sites online where you can have a virtual relationship with an avatar of your choice – do you really want to?

I will just round off by saying that I had a lot of fun internet dating and I tell some of the funny stories, but also one or two more disturbing ones in my book Are You The One?

Is it true that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to meet your prince?
Apparently we have to meet at least 17 people before the odds are stacked in our favour of one of them being attractive to you. OK, 17 people – that’s not so bad, but of course, whilst they might be the one out of your 17 that you find attractive, you might not be the one in their 17 that they find attractive – and so it goes on. I’ll leave you to calculate the odds of success…

You write fiction as well. Does writing non-fiction require a different skillset?
Writing fiction is totally different in terms of content, but the discipline is the same. You have to have a plan, try to stick to it and write a little every day or every time you’d planned to write. Sometimes you get stuck – the archetypal writers block, but the more you write the easier it is. If I get stuck I tend to leave it to distil a little and a few days later a new idea or a new twist on an old idea will pop out like a sausage out of the sausage machine – quite amusing really. Fiction is my real love and I have too many ideas usually. I often have at least 4 or 5 novel ideas simmering away at any one time but I only work on one idea at a time. I am just completing my third novel which includes a throwback to the Salem witch trials, but already have the ideas and even some of the sentences forming for the second book in my box of darkness trilogy, the first of which, ‘Courting the Dark’, should be out next year. It will have to wait until after Christmas though when I have planned to have the first draft of the Salem book completed otherwise they will cross-fertilise and become confused.

My first novel will be published in January 2013 – ‘Chained Melody’, an unusual love and life story, and it will be available on Amazon and through my website so watch this space for it and many more.
Fiction tends to be more methodical in that there are a set of facts, principles and ideas that you want to get across in a coherent whole, but whilst also making it entertaining and engaging and that can be more difficult than writing fiction, which is naturally more interesting because it involves applying imagination, but that also makes writing a good non-fiction book a challenge, and I love a challenge!

How long did this book take to write?
About 3 months.

And what was the most challenging part of the process?
Actually, marshalling all the information – there is a lot of it!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
A child almost of the sixties, I’ve experienced a variety of careers and life. Now widowed, with two teenage daughters, living in a thatched cottage in Hampshire, I run a small social events business, work as a business event co-ordinator for the University of Winchester and have discovered I love writing. My first two works are non-fiction, the third a novel, which is coming out in January, 2013.

Have you got a blog where readers can keep up with your work?
Yes https://debbiemartin.wordpress.com/

And where can we buy The Strategy?
Amazon or via my website.

What’s next?
My novel, Chained Melody is due out in January 2013 and novel number 2, which is going to be the first in a trilogy – Courting the Dark will be following later on in 2013.

Thank you Indie Author Land

Please do follow me on Twitter @StorytellerDeb for my writing

@SocialsingleDeb for Singles that Mingle news

And come and like the pages on Facebook for special offers and news coming soon:

My writing page :          http://www.facebook.com/DebbieMartin.Author

Singles that Mingle:     http://www.facebook.com/singlesthatmingle

E-pub mania
August 13, 2012

A fascinating consideration here of the possibility of the e-publishing bubble expanding and then imploding, leaving us all with egg on our faces  and no books on the shelves:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/30/self-e-publishing-bubble-ewan-morrison

Will it happen?

Who knows.

Trends are often bucked and unexpected successes rise from nowhere – look at the 50 shades saga. Bad writing still makes millions if there are buyers for it. For myself, and the many thousands of other unknowns, debut, budding and serious writers, e-publishing still represents an opportunity to get our work out there. It was said in a recent documentary on 50 shades of grey that no author having a book published over the last few months will have stood a chance of making more than a 100 or so sales because the world and her husband is too mesmerised by the flicking whip of Ms James and her Mr Grey to even notice the real stuff there is around to read. It’s a sad indictment of our modern sheep-like mentality that values the cheap thrill above the intellectual stimulant, and the publisher that prefers the buck to the brain, so, I will continue with my brief summary of how to e-pub, and then go back to my relative anonymity of one traditional publication and one about to be self-published. I wonder how the next ones will appear for the world?

Probably one of the best reviews of available options is here from David Carnoy of CNET :

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-18438_7-20010547-82/how-to-self-publish-an-ebook/

At the end of the day, the choice is yours, but with one BIG homily to note. Wherever you publish, whatever you publish and however you publish – do NOT expect to be the next millionaire. Be pleased to have birthed your baby and enjoy the next things you write. At the end of the day, if you write as a vocation – and that differentiates the real writer from the commercial vulture – you write for the sheer joy of expressing yourself, and e-publishing gives other people a chance to share in that  – ENJOY!

Follow me on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Debbie-Martin-author-and-writer/290947497649847

and on my website:

http://www.debbiemartin.co.uk/

Where you’ll find lots more to read and information when my books are published.

Debbie Martin

Lured into the red room of pain …
July 30, 2012

Last night I got lured away from the Olympics and onto Channel 4 to watch a documentary on the rise and rise of ‘50 shades of grey’. Now I have steadfastly refused to read this literary masterpiece because, having read the first page and a half on the Amazon preview when I was in the stage of maybe I ought to find out what this is all about, I realised that I couldn’t read even more than another word of it. I openly admit here that I do not ever intend reading it – why would I want to waste any more moments of my time on it? The documentary confirmed everything I always thought but with a little more detail.

Its genre seemed to be encapsulated by the wonderful description by an interviewee of it as ‘Wuthering Heights with whips’ or ‘Mills and Boon with bondage’. The very thought turns me off, not on. Another comment – ‘I don’t know any women who want to be anally fisted before bedtime’. Actually neither do I! I listened with interest to the reviews of the language used to portray these dramatically charged sexual scenes and laughed: ‘he touched me down there’ and ‘my private bits’. Is this an embarrassed five year old straying into the world of pornography or an adult? What sexually mature woman do you know who refers to her vagina as ‘down there’? My Auntie Mable did when she told us about having to see the doctor on a personal matter, but my friend Mandy would call a spade a spade, or a fanny a fanny. I can think of a whole dictionary of suitable words, although I won’t as I’m not a porn writer. Couldn’t you have researched your vocabulary better, as well as the sexual proclivities of the submissive society, EL?

And so she came, and came and came … ad infinitum, it seems. Is this what relationships are all about? I’ve been labouring under a misapprehension all these years … Indeed Pamela Stephenson – who now describes herself as a ‘Sexologist’ – wow, when did YOU come (pardon the pun) by that trade Pam? The last I heard you were a comedienne, but I’m digressing; Pammy commented that plainly Anastasia (more on the names later) was faking as no woman comes that often. Now that would be interesting to open up for discussion, but I imagine Cosmo has already been there.

Interestingly the real BDSM devotees that were interviewed on the documentary dissed EL’s version of it all, saying that no true BDSM relationship would countenance the submissive partner being spanked until they actually needed pain killers – as Anastasia does on one occasion. Apparently, the role allocation is also unrepresentative of the BDSM community – generally it is the woman who is the dominatrix and the man who wants to submit. The theory that was being expounded by several of the interviewees was that women respond to the content of 50 shades because, in a society where women have to work hard to be independent, organised and competitive in the boardroom, they relish the idea of being able to relinquish control in the bedroom. Maybe – but relinquishing control only occurs happily in a relationship where trust, equality and tenderness are paramount, not submission and control. Any general or BDSM relationship exponent would tell you that.

So what genre would I describe this 50 shades of something as? Well, if agents and publishers go on so little as the first page and a half and a brief synopsis, so will I: first the names. Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey – apart from suggestions in the documentary that the male protagonist’s (I can’t believe I’ve called him that) name was derived from a film already made, aren’t they pure Mills and Boon nonsense? Then there’s the coy, twee language; ‘the ‘down there’ and descriptions like one of Anastasia’s orgasms (who knows which one …) ‘shattering her into a million pieces’. Christian’s cock is Anastasia’s ‘very own Christian Grey popsicle’. I can only use teenage speak to respond to that – OMG – really? Pathetic (the language, not the cock – that is said to be HUGE). And intelligent women and men all over the world in their millions are reading this? I can’t actually decide on the right genre now I have to, maybe we should create another one – although I don’t want to be insulting.

So, some of you reading this will say ‘she is just jealous of EL’s success’. Not at all. As an entrepreneur myself – as well as a writer, I applaud anyone who makes it big with an idea. Well done for the achievement EL – and I wish you many more millions of success – although what you are going to do with it beats me. The dumpy little housewife/mum who was being interviewed on American TV in the documentary claimed to only want a new kitchen and to have bought a new Volkswagon car with it so far. She steadfastly refused to admit whether she had actually tried out the many forms of spanking, bondage, whipping, nipple clamps – BDSM in its entirety, in fact – simpering that the internet was a very good research tool…

No, what I object to is this: women suffered and fought, were killed and maimed to give other women equality. We now claim to be working hard to achieve and maintain that in our society. We deplore any kind of oppression or abuse and yet this trilogy of books is glamorising – even glorifying the submission of a vulnerable woman – still a virgin at 21 so naive and unwordly in the extreme, and the media and the publishing world are promoting it – all for the sake of the big bucks; cynicism and betrayal in the extreme. Betrayal? Well, not only is it a betrayal of the great women in our history who have fought for us to have the right to say no and be believed – the suffragettes and the women who have forged a path for us to follow at their own personal expense, it also thrusts a pile of badly written sloppy porn on the reading public at large, when there are hundreds of thousands of unknown TALENTED authors out there, struggling to even be read by an agent or a publisher. They are the people who have talent pouring out of them, but they do not write what purports to be sexual fantasy, they do not write sensationalism, they write eloquent, well thought out, meaningful pieces that have something to say to the soul.

If you want something really useful to do with your millions EL, since you don’t seem to have the vision to think of anything better than a new kitchen or car, do something to help the struggling debut authors to be acknowledged and give the reading world a chance to read good fiction not mediocre porn.

Back to the real world next time and the rest of the E-publishing review …

Follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Debbie-Martin-author-and-writer/290947497649847

and on my website: www.debbiemartin.co.uk

Where you’ll find lots more to read and information when my books are published.

Debbie Martin

Self-publishing palaver
July 19, 2012

Self-publishing.

The future, so everyone says, so I’ve decided to try it out with my second dating and relationship book. The first was published the traditional way last February and you can have a lag on me with it here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/humorous-journey-through-internet-dating/dp/1780921144

But this time, I’ve decide to try out the megalomania route (total control!) and self-publish  – so here we go: the first book I have to try to upload on to e-book and Kindle myself- yikes! How is a non-techy going to cope with that, I wonder?

Best to write myself a step by step guide …Then I thought maybe everyone else might find that helpful too, so here goes with Part One: Kindles.

Part two will appear next week when I hope I have the cover design back and can complete the full works (unless I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer frustration of failed formatting when Word wants to do something opposite to what I want).

Typesetting basics: Kindle

In your word document, use:

  • A common serif font like Helvetica or Book Antiqua Times New Roman and Century are also recommended by some.
  • Use 11 or 12 point single space regular as a minimum. Use 18- 20 point for headings. Remember that readers can make the font bigger themselves when reading.
  • Put a single space after a full stop.
  • In dent paragraphs with em dash or 5mm.
  • Don’t have a blank line between paragraphs.
  • If using  dash, use space en dash space.
  • Avoid ‘widows and orphans’ (the stray word left flowing onto a new page all on its own – ahh!) by editing carefully.
  • Spaces sections with a blank line   or a blank line ornament  blank line e.g

*

  • Page numbering isn’t needed, but for reference purposes , centre a footer staring at the first page of the body of the text numbered at the first page following on from the title pages –e.g. maybe this might be 7 by the time the title etc  pages are passed/
  • No headers/ footers or left/right paging are required.
  • Drop the chapter numbers and title a few lines and use 18-20 point regular or italic but not bold.
  • Use hard return to ensure lines c don’t concertina (shift return).
  • Typically, you need         –      A cover

–          A title page

–          A dedication page (possibly)

–          A cover page

–          A copyright page

–          A contents page

–          A map page (possibly

Now you see how you may have reached page 7 before getting to the guts of the book for     the page referencing above.

  • Convert to Kindle using the app if using Indesign (on Amazon).
  • Download Kindle onto your computer and trial your layout.
  • When the layout is good, upload it, check it again and then publish it.

To publish on Kindle you will need:

  • The set up an agreement with Amazon.
  • Choose the royalty level in three currencies.
  • Follow the options and agree the contract.
  • Publish and wait three days for amazon to do their stuff.

Promotion and pitching:

Pitch your book at a lowest price possible as there’s more opportunity in gaining large numbers of very low priced sales than less numbers of higher ones. Amazon will give you the opportunity to have freebie days too – when anyone can download your book for free. Don’t worry that you’re giving it away. The more people who get it and like it, the more sales you’re likely to make later.

Some other tricks:

  • Get people to rate it for you. The more often it’s rated at 4 and above, the better it’s odds in the algorithm that Amazon applies to ‘recommend’ it to purchasers of other similar books. This is based on sales and ratings. The more of each, the more Amazon promotes it for you – neat – huh?
  • Ask everyone you know on Facebook to buy it.
  • Have a twitter account active and promote it on there – especially on the freebie days.
  • An editor/copy editor are a must: what you put on there is the finished product, so make sure it is finished to a high standard first.
  • ISBN’s – all major book stockists recognise self-published ISBN’s and won’t touch them. Save yourself some money and don’t buy one unless you’re determined to see this book in print too.
  • Set your price low. The mentality of internet sales is low price = bulk sales.

So, now it’s time for me to have a go! Next week I’m going to turn it into an e-book, rather than a Kindle so it’s available for free download to my lucky Amazing weekend attendees:

See www.singlesthatmingle.co.uk for all the information about this – 9th to 11th November.

Now that was all very serious stuff wasn’t it? And not a creative bean in sight, so now I’m going to write some more of Chained melody, where the plot thickens …

More to follow next week …

Follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Debbie-Martin-author-and-writer/290947497649847

and on my website:

http://www.debbiemartin.co.uk/

where you’ll find lots more to read and information when my books are published.

Debbie Martin