Star Quality

Star SymbolThose of you who know me will probably also know that, when it comes to my hatred of the star rating system on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads, I’m pretty humourless. I just can’t help it, you know. I try to see the funny side, I really do. The problem is that I loathe having to decide how many stars I think a book merits, not least because it’s such an unsophisticated system. How, after all, can something as complex as your reaction to a book be summed up by a row of asterisks? Continue reading

What’s in a Name?

464px-Inverted_question_mark_alternate.svgWell, quite a lot, it would seem…

I was recently talking to a self-published author who said that she didn’t like the term ‘self-published’. To her, it reeked of the snobbery and disparagement that has often accompanied any debate about – er – self-publishing, and which accompanies it still. She’d heard it used as a put-down just a few times too many, and to her it had become almost a term of abuse. She preferred to be called an ‘indie’ or ‘independent author and publisher’. Continue reading

Twitface and the Curse of Social Media

internetIf I weren’t a writer I’d probably be about the most anonymous person in the modern Western world. I wouldn’t be on Twitter and Facebook. I wouldn’t have a blog. I’d probably never even have heard of Pinterest or Instagram. In fact – oh, the irony! – if I weren’t a writer I’d probably just be … well, writing. But this is 2015, and it’s no longer enough just to write. Oh no: you have to loudly proclaim to everyone you encounter that you’re writing. Continue reading

A beautiful, perceptive novel: The Centauress by Kathleen Jones

91L-IxcUnbL._SL1500_‘The biographer, Alex thought, was always the observer, the outsider, the one whose job it was to be objective and impersonal. But how was she to do this in Zenia’s case, when she was getting more and more involved? Drawn into the story and in danger of becoming part of it? Wasn’t this what anthropologists feared? That the very act of observation affected the behaviour of those observed, the chain of events?’ Continue reading

A Brutal Truth

writer-wretch‘The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing: isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.’ – Robert De Niro

If you’re a writer – or aspire to be – I recommend you read this article, ‘The Truth about Publishing’, by author Ian Irvine. Irvine was writing specifically about traditional publishing (and the article was written in 2005, meaning that some of it is slightly outdated now), but what he has to say is also relevant to self-publishers. Whichever path you take, or aspire to take, much of Irvine’s article will probably apply to you. Continue reading

Clichés must die. Or must they?

At the end of the day...

At the end of the day… Image c/o Wikimedia Commons.

A wee confession: I have a soft spot for clichés (and before anyone points out that this too is a cliché, I know…). They interest me, not least because many of them are just so absolutely, effortlessly right. A howling wind? That nicely sums up the feral, primal intensity of the wind on the (also-clichéd) dark and stormy night. Stabbing somebody in the back is a vivid image of the painful brutality of betrayal. And thinking outside the box is sometimes the best thing you can possibly do. Continue reading