Tag Archives: blogging

Welcome to the Deaf community – What took you so long?

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As I sit here typing this, I am getting used to the sounds of my typing and all those other sounds around me, as they’re coming to me via my new hearing aids. Yes, I discovered two months ago that I have a hearing loss and having lost all of my upper range.

The strange thing is that before the hearing test, I had no idea that I had a problem. I had assumed that people these days mumble too much, that TV has a poor sound quality as standard and that everyone struggled to hear in crowded places like railway stations and coffee shops.

Asking people to repeat things that they had said was so much a part of my everyday conversation, that I had ceased to notice and my family had made it into a joke.

Being told that I had a disability was a shock and I found it hard to take in at first. Even attending my first audiology appointment, I thought that I might have a slight problem, I even allowed that one ear could be at fault, but to discover that my hearing was serious enough to require my wearing two hearing aids, was a complete surprise.

As I come to terms with my new hearing aids, I wonder just how many years I have really needed them and simply didn’t realise? One in six people have a hearing loss issue. When you think about that it’s a staggering figure. Even more surprising is the fact that of those about half will have no idea of the fact.

This problem is such a national one that The Royal National Institute For Deaf People (RNID), who have been established as a charity since 1911 recently changed their name to Action On Hearing Loss, as a way of attracting more people and in doing so, help them. It was the charity’s website which gave me my first indication that something was amiss where my hearing was concerned.

The Action On Hearing Loss website  has an online hearing test and at the end of this will advise you to see your GP if there is a problem. I took the test twice and thanks to their advice, my GP’s referral and two great audiologists, I can sit here and listen to so much more than I could just a few days ago.

I can tell the real difference when I turn the aids off and the world becomes warm and fuzzy and loses its top notes. Fellow musicians will only need to think of turning off the treble on the amp, that’s my hearing without aids and it makes a big difference to every single conversation, TV show and piece of music I play or listen to.

Are the hearing aids perfect? No, I find them strange, it’s like having two earpieces in, not just for an hour or two, but all day and it feels wrong. Is the sound natural? Not quite, no, my brain has got used to a certain way of hearing and filling in gaps, things are odd. Hearing aids in no way give back hearing, but they do help and are worth the effort needed to use them. The sound is electronic, how could it be anything else, but the result is wonderful. If you have thought that perhaps you might have a hearing problem, my advice would be to go along to the website or to book a hearing test, because in this situation ignorance really isn’t bliss.

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An old fashioned wartime thriller FREE today only on Kindle

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If you like an old-fashioned wartime thriller without sex and too much violence, this might be right up your street.

The second book in my Harry Royle series is FREE all this weekend. It is book two, but can be enjoyed as a standalone read.

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Glass in its myriad forms

 

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I have been very busy writing brand new short stories for my forthcoming collection Twelve Shards of Glass.

I decided that instead of simply collecting a number of existing short stories together, giving the collection a name and putting it out as a book, I would do something more interesting.

Twelve Shards features twelve brand new stories, each with a connection to glass in some way or other.

Now you might think that this hasn’t given me much scope, but you would be very surprised at just how many different uses glass is put to.

The stories range from the mysterious to the comedic and so much more in between. The experience has been so interesting, that I’m intending to theme future short story collections too, though with different themes of course.

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If the eye is the window of the soul, what is a book cover?

An author might spend many months or even years working on a book. Didn’t Emily Bronte take thirteen years to finish Wuthering Heights?

Say what you like about Emily, she certainly had staying power. I digress, sorry, back to my point.

Having worked hard and any of my readers, who has written or is in the process of writing a book, novel or non-fiction, will know just how hard it really is.

You can forget these ‘How to write’ books that tell you that it’s simple, just sit down, plug into your Muse and away you go. No, not quite.

The writing has to be backed up by good quality research, even fiction, especially fiction if readers are to believe in its truth.

After the book is finished, comes the proofreading and editing, a huge task, even with a small book.

Along the way there are so many choices, what needs to go in, what should be left out? In order to let the work breathe and in doing so benefit the book.

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When it’s finished, being a book, it will need a cover. And here all too often is the big problem.

Why do so many people who have worked so hard and for so long, throw any old image on the book and call it a cover?

In this time of E-books, especially when it comes to Amazon Kindle books, covers are not just important, but vital in getting your work noticed.

I have seen books in the crime and thriller sections, which feature obvious pictures of pets. I’m not kidding, dogs and cats and a title and author name.

Remember that if your book comes out on Kindle, it will feature on The Kindle Carousel, once downloaded. The quality of the cover along may decide on that book being flicked past, deleted or opened.

When it comes to my hard work, I mock up all of my covers first and then send them to a designer. My book represents not only my hard work, but also my Author Brand.

I want to be able to stand behind each book proudly. I also want them to look good as both thumbnails and full size.

In an Amazon search, potential readers must be able to read the title and see the cover image, at least reasonably enough to decide if it might be of interest to them.

Remember that they’ll only get to read the blurb, as amazing as it might be, once they click through from the thumbnail.

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I like to have my covers before my books are written. That might seem odd and maybe it is. To me, it helps keep me on track.

It also holds me to account, because if the cover exists, the finished book has to follow. My thinking is like that great movie with Kevin Costner and Burt Lancaster, Field of dreams.

The quote from that movie was

‘If you build it, they will come.’

Now if you missed that one and I’d be surprised. The theme of the film was about believing in yourself and knowing that if you do what is right for you deep down in your heart, everything will work out.

So my covers are like that, I get them and the books will come. It works for me, but we’re all different and that’s what makes life so interesting.

 

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Amazon Top One Hundred Author: Crime

Last night I discovered that I had not only entered The Amazon Top Hundred Best Sellers, in Crime. I was number 30. That was amazing news, better still was this morning when I looked and my book A Question of Honour was now at number 19.

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I want to say a huge thank you to all of the readers who have chosen my book because we all know that the choice these days is somewhat on the large side.

I am very grateful for all the support I’ve received and would like to say to anyone who is struggling with a book at this time, don’t give up on your dreams, it’s hard work, but the feeling is so worth the effort you’ve put in.

The writing Business 

A piece of advice for anyone who has a book currently hidden in the dusty dark online shelves of Amazon and is wondering whether to hurl a curse at the annoying person writing this. Stop and consider the following.

Writing the book is only half the story, the rest is the invisible work behind the scenes, advertising, and marketing.

Yes, I know that as a writer, we like to think of ourselves above such things. We are artists, creating from a blank canvas. Hmmm yes, and no.

Yes, we are both of those things but we also happen to be involved in an industry which is very over populated. There is so much available for the reader to choose from now.

These days Amazon has become like Willy Wonka for readers and I should know, I’m a constantly hungry reader myself.

Writing is two things, an art form, and a business. You can argue, but it’s an argument already lost. Well, it is if you think about it.

It has always been a business, the only difference being that publishing houses did the business side of the work, leaving the writer to create.

Those days have gone and not just for the Indie author either. Publishing houses these days are too busy and with cutbacks right across the industry, they now expect their authors to pull their own weight, in a business sense.

The Writing business should read, the writing Business. As always just my viewpoint, but an opinion based on personal experience and results.

 

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Stories with a twist

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I have always loved those short stories with a sting in the tail. Even when I was young, I couldn’t get enough of them, the more I read, the more I felt a deep hunger for more.

Down the years, I must have read thousands, considering I started in the 1970s. Not so long ago I realised that in all that time, considering I’ve been a writer for thirty years or so, in that time I have only ever written one or two myself.

It is for this reason that I decided that it was high time that my own fund of tales came out into the light.

I have had so many great story ideas, which just don’t have enough substance for a full-length book.

Having recently worked on two novels and another in the pipeline, working on these short stories for my Twelve Shards of Glass collection, seems like a blast of fresh air.

The sheer bliss of being able to sit down and work within a smaller, yet perfect environment, with no chapter  cross checking to worry about.

It is often said that The Short Story, as a work of fiction is very different from The Novel, well as a writer of both, I disagree.

I know this is only my opinion and I do honestly offer it, as only that. I consider the short form to be in essence a microcosm of the novel’s macrocosm.

Both forms can offer the same truth, depth, scope and vision, but one in miniature. The short form could be a portrait, up close and personal while the long form is the landscape opening up wider possibilities. Just my thoughts.

 

 

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Still free, for those who enjoy a wartime read

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My book, A Question of Honour, is still FREE to download on Amazon Kindle, at all Amazon stores worldwide.

It is 1938. Sergeant Harry Royle, on the eve of becoming an officer, is framed for murder and forced to run. Royle forced into hiding, friendless and lost, as hunted, he runs from place to place. Manchester, Cardiff and York, are but stops along his journey. A journey which eventually takes him to the brutal streets of London’s gangland Soho, where he finds friendship, comrades and a hope of redemption, in the twilight world of smoky jazz clubs and those who live in the shadows. Harry’s story is told against a backdrop of wartime cities, daring prison escapes and stolen moments of happiness. It is one man’s truth and his battles with an unjust world, a world populated by those who live by their own rules and who would stop at nothing to keep him locked away and his true story untold.
UK FREE Download                                  US FREE Download

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