Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter weekend

Hope everyone is enjoying their Easter break.

I’m making use of the extra time to do some writing, obviously.

Aiming to complete what I call “revision 1” of The Long Dark. In practice, a revision is actually multiple passes through the text looking at various aspects. After finishing the first draft I let it sit for a while, then begin with a complete read through as a reader, making notes of general impressions and areas that need tightening up or expanding on. This is at a high level, to get a feel for the story as a whole. More reads on the computer, making edits as I go, then print the lot off on paper and go through it again with a red pen. Now I’ve just got a few notes left to work through.

At the same time, I’m pushing the nonfiction Breaking the Block through the critiquing queue at Critique Circle.

Back in the real world, this is the time of year we are usually thinking of getting our deck cleaned up and in use. But, despite a brief spell last month, it’s not yet warmed up enough to be inviting. Maybe next month.

Instead, we’ve revitalized a part of the garden that’s been neglected for years. This corner sites behind the garage and deck, and used to be a rather useless patch of grass. Several years ago, we got rid of the grass, built steps, path, and retaining wall, and filled it with soil but never got around to planting it properly. Well, now it’s planted :)

Saturday, April 13, 2019


Goodreads is an online forum first and foremost for readers. Readers discuss, swap notes on, and review books they’ve read. The purpose is to inform other readers and to share reading experiences.

Of course, authors hang out there, too. Wherever there’s an audience of readers, there are opportunities for authors to engage and maybe attract new readers.

One of the discussion forums I follow posed a question about authors rating and reviewing their own books. I’ve seen authors do this ... give themselves a five-star rating and a glowing review. At one point, very early on in my time there, I had seen this so often I figured it was seen as an acceptable practice and (briefly) wondered about doing this for my own book (just the one out there at that time).

Then I started thinking how this would come across to a prospective reader.

How does it come across to me?

That stopped me in my tracks, because my gut reaction was that it was sad, tacky, and smacked of desperation. If you have a load of other people’s reviews then you really don’t need to add your own. It serves no purpose in terms of visibility. On the other hand, there’s nothing much sadder than a book with just one review ... from the author. IMO you’re better off with none.

Actually, I take that back. A sadder sight is a five-star review from the author standing out among a clutch of one- and two-star reviews from genuine readers. That says they’re not only desperate, but completely out of touch with reality.

What do you think? What crosses your mind when you see someone rating their own book on a forum meant for readers?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Brexit ... or not

This side of the pond, we have ringside seats to the surreal reality show that is American politics. While I’ve grown heartily sick of hearing about the Orange Toddler’s latest tantrums, the rest of my family back in Britain is equally sick of the even-longer-running drama of Brexit.

Some groups are pushing for a second referendum. “Let the people have their say,” they say. Opponents point to the fact that the people already had their say. Here’s where I think we get into slightly shady territory.

I remember reading about the shock when the result of the referendum was announced. There was disbelief across the whole political spectrum, and more than an unearthly hint of “What have we done?” I suspect a lot of people who voted to leave didn’t really want to leave at all. But they did want to send a message to the politicians that business as usual was not an option. It was a protest vote, something that many people felt was safe because there was no way it would actually pass ... until it did.

That’s the danger of protest votes, or of poorly-explained polls.

The time for a second referendum would have been right away, as in - this was so unexpected and has clearly taken everyone by surprise, let’s do the prudent thing and ask, “Are you sure?” That’s the common-sense response when you get an entirely unexpected answer to a question. Verify, to make sure the question was understood and the answer is genuine. Then move on.

But nearly three years have passed, we’ve passed the date when Britain should have by now been out, and we’re still no closer to having any clue how this will all shake out.
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