The Fellowship Of The Bling

I’ve discovered a way of becoming a successful author, and that is simply to give your book a title that is very similar to another very successful book. You see I thought I had bought this book:

But I had actually bought this book:

Some time ago I got one of those Amazon emails offering books at sale prices and thought: “I’ve heard of that, probably worth a go.” So I paid my 99p, downloaded to my kindle where it sat for some considerable time among all the other bargain books I haven’t got around to reading.

Then my wife read The Girl On The Train and said how good it was. She then watched the film on the plane and remarked how she didn’t like it compared to the book. All this prompted me to start reading it myself. It was only when I was about a quarter of the way through and we started to talk about it that I realised I was reading a completely different book!

I have to admit at this point that this may have coloured my view slightly, in that I felt a little bit conned. Having said that I did read it to the end and actually quite enjoyed it, in a light holiday read kind of way. All in all it left me a little conflicted so I looked up the reviews on Amazon:

So you can see that although it’s not The Girl On The Train it is pretty successful, in fact it’s sold a lot of copies, although how many were bought by people who thought they were buying something else is impossible to know.

Note:Spoiler alert

If I was to review Girl On A Train it probably wouldn’t be a good one. I know I said I quite enjoyed it, but on reflection it is a load of old tosh to be honest. It starts off pretty well with our heroine, Anne, investigating the suspicious death of a girl, Elly, that she happened to sit next to on a train. Turns out that Elly has left all sorts of clues that Anne tracks down in a kind of low budget Dan Brown Angels and Demons style but set in Brixton rather than Rome. Her motivation for this is that she doesn’t believe Elly committed suicide, and she knows about such things because her (Anne’s) husband killed himself 2 years previously because he was gay (!). It soon appears that the whole thing might be related to the abduction of Elly’s 2 year old nephew also 2 years previously. The problem is that it starts out a bit far fetched and then just gets more and more unbelievable. I’m pretty good at suspending disbelief but this had me going “Oh come on!” by the end. It also had a completely unnessessary section in the middle where the story up was retold from the point of view of Elly up to the point where she died. This added nothing to the book and felt to me like the author had just stuck it in to make the book longer. Also one of the characters does one thing that is completely out of character, the act simply does not fit with the way they are portrayed. The character is question, Lewis, comes in as a nice guy, a policeman who takes Anne for rides on his motorbike and gets her heart all a flutter. He looks after his drug addicted sister and is acting as stand in parent for his tear away 9 year old niece. Then it turns out he was Anne’s gay husband’s secret lover (what!) who raped Elly (!) because Elly found out he was gay and that was his way of shutting her up.

I didn’t get that bit either.

It turns out that Elly didn’t commit suicide, she was attacked by the niece with a stun gun that she bought off the internet and that made Elly fall in front of the train, and the gay husband didn’t commit suicide either, he just had an argument with Lewis, dramatically climbed onto a bridge in a kind of ‘if you don’t love me I’ll kill myself’ moment, and then fell off by accident.

So there you go. I’m now going to write The Fellowship Of The Bling so that loads of people buy it by accident and I make a pile of cash. I’ve already got the start.

“One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to…Hey don’t gimme that one ring crap! Nobody wears just one ring! I want at least ten! And a gold chain!”

 

Tuesday Review – Write, Publish, Repeat

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This was the right book at the right time for me. As someone who is about to embark down the self publishing road I was looking for something to help me plan my route through the complexities of this vast area and this book has really helped.

It is not a book about the technicalities of publishing, but then there’s plenty of advice about these out there. This book is more about successful approaches to self (or indie as they call it) publishing in terms of building readership and marketing. I liked the fact that it starts by stressing how indie publishing is for many authors better than traditional publishing but then really makes you think about what it is you want to achieve and what it takes in terms of dedication and hard work. This is not a book about tricks and quick fixes, it is a book for people who are serious about writing in the long term.

Of course there were some things that don’t work for me. For example the authors write very quickly and produce a lot of books, I write very slowly. But then you don’t have to do everything in the book, I’m happy to take the things that will work. For example the authors write series where each episode is a novella of maybe 20 to 30 thousand words. My novel is actually split into three books, so I could actually release them separately. That way I can set the first one as free as a way of getting people interested and I will have two sequels already written to follow it up. Plus I could then release the whole thing as one book but at a price that is discounted against the others. By the time I’ve done that I will hopefully be close to finishing the novella I’m currently writing so there will not be a massive time lag between releases.

So for me it is Indie publishing full steam ahead. I’ll let you know my plans in the near future.

Tuesday Review – One Hundred Voices Anthology

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Ok so this is not a review in the usual sense of the word, mainly because I haven’t read the whole of this book. In fact I have read only one of the 100 stories and that’s the one I wrote myself.

What I’m really reviewing here is the actual physical book and this is because my copy arrived last night and I feel very happy about it. There was a really special moment when I opened the box and I could just see a bit of the spine under the packaging which made me feel almost as excited as I did on my 7th birthday when I got my first action man.

So what is it like? It’s a beautiful weighty, papery, smooth smelling experience, that’s what it’s like.

I realise at this point that this post is a little self indulgent. You know what? I don’t care. It’s not everyday you see your name in print for the very first time, in fact it’s never going to happen again, so allow me this moment, if that OK with you.

Of course you hit like to buy it. If you like anthologies and you like short fiction then this could be the book for you. It’s the kind of book you keep around and dip in and out of when you have a few moments. It’s the kind of book I pick up when I’ve finished reading a novel and I want a little break before I start reading the next one.

Use this  Link and the discount code 100V70 if you would like to order a copy, particularly if you are in the US. In the UK you’re probably better off ordering it from Amazon.

Stay safe and be happy.

M

Tuesday Review – The Commitments, “Feckin’ Brilliant!”

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The Commitments at the Sheffield Lyceum on Saturday was, as I said in the title, Feckin’ Brilliant!

It’s a great show: funny and fast moving, full of eccentric characters and fantastic music. The plot is fairly simple, a group of working class north Dubliners put together a band to bring Soul to ‘the people’, but the witty interplay between the characters is a complete joy. It’s laugh out loud funny and the end is a standing ,clapping, dancing sing-along of a good time.

When Roddy Doyle’s original book came out in 1987 it was a big hit. I read it not long after and thought it was completely amazing. What struck me after watching the show is that both the musical and the film have a fantastic soundtrack which forms the foundation of the story, and of course the book does as well, it’s just that you can’t actually hear it. Which to me shows how well written the novel is. 

I think I need to read it again.

Tuesday Review – The Forever Endeavor by Chuck Wendig

Dale Gilooly has a problem. Well, Dale has a lot of problems. Addiction. Rent. A girlfriend he let slip away.But Dale has a solution. It’s a Box. And it will let him go back 10 minutes in time. Enough to fix his new mistakes as they happen. And give him an edge to fix the old ones that haunt him.

Oh, and one other problem: Where did these other Dales come from?

Walter Bard has a problem. Well, Walter has twenty problems. Each of them a body buried in a pumpkin patch. And… they’re all the same. Down to the teeth. 

But Walter has a solution. It’s his job. Solutions. He’s a detective, after all.

I loved this book for all kind of reasons. For a start it’s a fast paced, twisty, time travelling adventure that’s right up my street. Plus it’s well written and it makes you think. Oh, and it has some chapters named with lyrics from one of my favourite Talking Heads songs. All for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

Five stars from me.

Tuesday Review – The Naked Sun

The Naked Sun was one of my opportunistic purchases, 50p from a second hand bookstall on the way out of a shop. In fact it was another Asimov that caught my eye, the classic ‘Foundation’, which I’ve already got but I picked it up anyway and there was The Naked Sun underneath.

It was a book I didn’t recognise, even though I’ve read a lot of Asimov. Little did I know it was actually the sequel to The Caves of Steel, a book I read thirty years ago.

Like The Caves of Steel, this book is actually a detective mystery. It features the same detective Plainclothesman Elijha Bailey and once again he teams up with R Daneel Olivaw, a humanoid robot from the planet Aurora. The murder has taken place on the distant planet Solaria, where all the humans live isolated lives of privilege, with armies of robots taking care of their every need. The Solarians only interact remotely using “viewers”, amd to be in each other’s physical presence is socially unacceptable to the point that many are phobic about it. Which of course adds to the mystery, how can you murder someone without being physically present, especially as all possible remote methods would require the use of robots which cannot harm a human being?

I really enjoyed this book and it has encouraged me to go back and re-read some more Asimov. It was written in the 1950s but it still stands up today. Of course the technology of ‘viewing’ was unheard of then, today we call it Skype or FaceTime, and there is a danger that you can look at Sci Fi from the 50s and 60s on a superficial level and say it’s lost some of its speculative nature. But to do so is to miss the point. The big questions that books like this tackle are not about the future, they are about the human condition and that is as relevant now as it was then.

Lost Books – Software by Rudy Rucker

“I think you should kill him and eat his brain,” Mr. Frostee said quickly.

That’s not the answer to every problem in interpersonal relations,” Cobb said, hopping out.

― Rudy Rucker, Software

Lost books. These are the ones that got away. Usually I have a good memory for things I have read, but occasionally I find that while I remember a story, or even a fragment, I can no longer recall the author or the title. These are my lost books, but fortunately with the wonders of the Internet they are not lost forever.

In the case in point I was prompted by the book I am currently reading, The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov, to recall something I read a long time ago. The Naked Sun has many of same themes as the Asimov classic, I Robot, including the positronic brain and the Three Laws of Robotics. Thinking about this stuff brought to mind a novel I had read when I was at University which dealt with some related ideas but I couldn’t remember either the author or the name of the book. Eventually I managed to dredge up part of quote, something about killing someone and eating his brain. A bit of selective googling and I had it.

When I was studying Psychology I took a course on artificial intelligence, the point being that if you want to understand something, i.e. Intelligence, then thinking about how you could recreate it really helps. This was in 1989 and most of the stuff we take for granted now, the Internet, smart phones, etc., belonged firmly in the realms of Science Fiction. A friend of mine leant me his copy of Software by Rudy Rucker with the recommendation that I read it as part of the course. “This guy’s an actual computer scientist” he said. “He knows his stuff”

I thought it was great. I had read Neuromancer some time previously and Software felt like it was right in the same vein. These days you would say they’re both part of the Cyberpunk genre, but I never heard the word until much later. It’s a strange but compelling read, full of dead beat characters and dark humour. 
Anyway I read it, liked it, and gave it back. Never found out it was part of a trilogy until this week when I started looking for it again. Now I’ve found it I intend to read it again and then the rest of the trilogy.
Looking back at that period of time I realise that I had just started my first serious attempt at writing a book, a time travelling dystopian SF novel. I never finished it and it would be twenty three years before I tried writing again.