Review Experiment Part 2

I did it, I have self published Ward Five to Kindle and paperback. Why? I hear you ask, It’s simple really. It is the best way of gaining reader feedback and exposure to a wider audience.

In January of this year, I had the best positive feed back I have had since I almost had a screenplay made for television when I was eighteen that sadly fell through due to funding. I had an offer from a publisher!

The offer, to start was a partnership offer, through my research this seems quite popular nowadays, in the ever changing world of publishing and the accessibility of peoples works. This approach makes sense to me, it means you take on some of the risk in costs whilst getting started. You are then released in a smaller area to gauge the audiences appetite and you build from there. The feedback I received from this publisher regarding the story of Ward Five was invaluable to me but the unfortunate reality was, it was badly timed, January was a busy month. My partner and I became parents, the car died and needed replacing. Actually, the car died on the way to the hospital when my partner was in labour but that is its own little story! And it meant i found myself in the situation where i just couldn’t realistically find or commit to the proposed fee, which in fairness appeared quite reasonable. So I had to decline the offer.

I started thinking, if i could get one offer I could get another but one of the things publishers seem to want is a crystal ball prediction that they’re on to a good investment. I can’t give them that, surely no-one can, but what if, I could at least build upon my small data set of feedback that I had gathered from my first review experiment. What if i could gain enough input from real readers, real everyday people, not just a person sat in an office projecting personal preference on to a manuscript. Hence reason 1 as to how I ended up pursuing another self published project.

Reason 2 is a little more personal and is kind of two fold. I never self promote to people I know, it’s this little hang up I have, I get embarrassed and don’t want to look like an idiot to people who matter to me and in some cases to people who don’t even matter to me, it’s one of my vulnerabilities where peoples opinions mean something. So, for the most part, I keep it hidden and don’t talk about the passion I’ve had since I learnt to read and write. I envy friends of mine who share their passions so energetically, positively & confidently. I think of one in particular, who is a great musician and likes to share his new compositions with me to get an opinion, he does Instagram live sessions singing his own material and no he is not famous or a professional, although I believe like me with writing, that would always be the dream. I admire him for that confidence to be able to put him and his work out there in the ways he does, I wish he could bottle it and sell it to me.

And then, there is my sister who has struggled immensely with Anxiety and then this week, she posted this on her Instagram

For those that are now squinting at their screens it reads:

“The brightest star in the room can be the one who hurts the most. Since January I have struggled with my panic attacks more than ever I have had therapy, missed endless days of work, scratched my face and stomach to shreds trying to breathe. Yet still I had an interview got a promotion throughout all of this. I’ve shown the world how I love to sing and if you don’t know me personally you would have no idea. Remember the biggest smiles can hide a thousand fears”

You will also notice that there’s hashtag #mentalhealthawarenessweek which links me to the second part of my reason two. It is the main theme that runs through this story, it affects everyone you know and everyone you don’t and in this weird point in history whilst we’re all in lock down it is affecting everyone in the most profound ways. So, Mental health awareness week in the UK seemed like a no brainer to me, to attempt to both over come my own fears and anxieties and share this story in this way.

So please have a read, write a review. It is only

Available on Kindle and paperback right now!

The Review Experiment

20191106_180755I’ve had a finished manuscript for a very, very long time now. I have literally just been sat on it debating its future.

This piece of work is different, it means something different to my previous attempts, it’s in a style I have never attempted before and in a genre I’ve never dared dabble in. I feel like I have more of me riding on this than my previous attempts, because of this, as discussed in a previous post, I had toyed with the idea of a pseudonym. It was a serious consideration, if this meant more to me and my previous attempts were failures, why would I take the same chance with this one and put my name against it to open myself up to the ridicule and embarrassment.

I decided I could use, that ridicule and embarrassment as a tool, as I believe i20191106_180802ts meant to be. Aside from what I felt about the experience there were valuable lessons learnt by those previous attempts and fundamentally, I had always declared that’s what I wanted from my self publishing experiment. To understand and learn the process of publishing a book. I did that.

It occurred to me, if the purpose was to learn from the process, what I should be doing now is gathering data, to hone my own process. That’s when I had an idea for a little experiment. What if I could make my work better before I took it to the masses?

When you go shopping for a book, you always see quotes from other authors, on the cover, complimenting the novel. A little sound bite from world famous authors telling you how amazing they found the story or the writing or some other marketing ploy to draw you in. To make you think, “Wow JK Rowling thinks this book is amazing I should read it.”

20191106_180824Now, I admit, I to am drawn in by this marketing technique and if I’m honest most of the time I enjoy the book but the rest of the time I think was that person on drugs when they read this, it’s rubbish! As I have also discussed in a previous post, everyone has different tastes, everyone is looking for something different and everyone interprets something to meet their own narrative at that point in their life. Admittedly I would be less interested, as a reader, if, on a book cover I saw, “amazing, intricate story, it had me on the edge of my seat – John Smith from Skegness” BUT as an author, I am interested in what the general public think.

This got me thinking, what if I could acquire some honest reviews of my material before it was even published. What if I could get some worth while feedback to give me an indication of whether it was a hit or miss.

That thought led me to this, The Review Experiment. It’s not hard, it’s not complicated, it’s just to gather data. I have printed 20 proof copies of my new work, Ward Five. I will be conveniently leaving 20 copies in places where people may happen across it.

All I want the reader to do is 3 simple things:

1 – Read It

2 – Pass It On

3 – Leave Feedback.

I will run this for 6 months and after that I will collate all the feedback, take it all on board and make a decision on what to do with Ward Five.

So, I need your help, if you come across a copy I would be so grateful to receive your opinion. Watch this space for some direct quotes and the results of my little experiment.

HAPPY READING

Can I hide from me?

pseudonyms-wordplayI did something brave at the weekend, well, brave for me. I gave a friend my recent work to read. Obviously People read my work all the time, when I submit to agents for example but they are strangers to me. Their negative or constructive feedback can’t hurt me in the same way as the people I know and have respect for.

Being naturally paranoid, makes me very closed off from sharing with the people close to me, my friends. It’s the fear of judgement from people whose opinion matters to me. You should think that they are the people I should feel most comfortable with but that’s never been the case, I can give speeches in front of a room of strangers with no issues what so ever, you put me in a room with colleagues, friends and family, I fall to pieces.
This has caused me to think further about the concept of writing under a Pseudonym. I’ve always been intrigued by authors who write under a different pen name. Why do they do it? What’s the benefit? Do they like the anonymity? Does it protect them from feeling vulnerable? Would it have stopped me feeling so hesitant about self publishing had I had written under a pseudonym with my first book?
I recently started to build a persona I would write under should i choose to make the decision to go down the Pseudonym route. It’s a strange concept because right now, I can become anyone, it’s like I’m writing my own character in to my own story, it’s quite an exciting concept. At the same time there’s something nagging at me, although this is fun, I am hiding from what makes me vulnerable, which is why I carefully considered handing over my work to a friend. It becomes a question of trust, a person can hold a lot of power over you when you expose yourself but I guess that’s what we do every time we lay down words to page, writing exposes us. It exposes your desires and demons, your dark side and your inner hero.
These doubts and hesitations are surely the things that ordinarily a person would take and use, to grow, to build on confidence and skills. Realising where your weaknesses are and accepting them does not make that a weakness in itself. Right?
To be honest as I self published a book to understand the process of doing so, publishing under a pseudonym sounds like something I would do as an experiment, just to see, how different it is. I don’t mean different in the physical process I mean different psychologically as a writer, that could be a fun. Maybe I’ll try it with my next one. How else do I get answers to my questions. If anyone out there does have an opinon on this, or does write under a pseudonym please do contact me, I’d love to pick your brain.

It’s started….. the nerves

BLOG 1I’ve done it, I’ve started the, approaching agents process. It’s strange, I feel incredibly sick!! I actually feel like I do before a job interview. Which is crazy because I’m not going for an interview. I’m not talking directly to these individuals. I’m simply sending a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters of my new project, Ward Five. (I know, I’ve revealed nothing about it to you guys until now and for now that’s all you’re getting, the Title!!)

So why do i feel so nervous? If I had to guess I would say it is because of the nature of the work. It is not Fantasy/Sci-fi which we all know I geek over as a way of life. It is just normal life stuff, no other worlds, no special powers, no weird creatures. Just regular human beings, a drama I guess, very different to my self published works of The Break and Concordia. They were an element of my imagination and fun; Ward Five is my heart.

I would say the experience of self publishing has taught me a significant amount, not only about the process of publishing but about my writing. Ward Five has allowed me to use a different voice for the protagonist that i would never has normally have chosen. It allowed me to know them more and this has made me a better writer. Even I see, not only a new style to my writing, but a higher quality.

I will revisit fantasy again at some point but I thought to be a good writer, you should be able to explore different genres and different styles. Find your own voice as well as your characters.

I think that’s why I feel nervous putting it out there to be judged by agents because it means something to me and it should. Everything that makes you feel passion, should mean something to you.

I just wanted to update you all on where I’m at. Watch this space for more updates, maybe even a snippets of Ward Five or maybe just ranting and off loading about all the rejections that inevitably come with this process. There’s going to be some some blood and tears on the way folks.

As always thanks for reading!!!

Pitch & Put

OK, Hello there guys, it’s been a long time.

We have loads to discuss, don’t worry I haven’t been Procrastinating that much! I have in fact been a busy little Bee. I’m currently putting the finishing touches to the sequel to The Break before it gets whisked away for proof reading and editing, with, I might add, a much more reliable person. I still get angry about all the mistakes in The Break but hey it’s all a learning curve and thankfully it hasn’t affected the narrative and you guys have all loved it, (So you tell writingme anyway and that actually makes me ecstatic!!)

I’m also working on a New project which I am about to start pitching to agents and publishes. Don’t worry I’m not abandoning my Indie roots but I thought I would give it a whirl! The new project’s current working title is “The Jenson West Journals” and that’s all I’m going to tease for the time being but watch this space!

Finally I also have a third project on the go, something completely different. For those of you who have known me for many years or have actually read my rantings on this site you will know that many many moons ago when one was a mere teenager I had some success with a screenplay, sadly this never amounted to anything but I originally started seriously writing by writing Screenplays.

Its funny what stays with you over the years but the reason I started off writing scripts and screenplays came from something my English teacher said to me in Year 9. Her name was Mandy Barfoot and the assignment she gave was based on the book we were studying at the time, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we had to take a scene of the play and re-write it in modern day English an assignment which prompted my love of Shakespeare. Incidentally, My Favorite became Macbeth, which I’m sure will surprise nobody. Insanity, blood, guts, medieval battles, witchcraft lets face it it’s got it all but I digress!

So I spent ages on this assignment and when the day came to get our grade for it I did pretty well and Miss Barfoot turned around and said to me “Well Done, that’s the best piece of work I’ve seen from you, have you thought about writing more scripts” And that is how it started, so It seemed a natural progression from that one inspired sentence to the success I nearly had with Channel 4 when I was 18 years old.

So yes you’ve guessed it my third current project is script based but not for the screen. I keep telling anyone who will listen to me, I’d love to be in a musical, I love them, I can’t help it, it’s my guilty pleasure! So I thought I would try my hand at writing a musical, don’t ask me how it’s going though as I’m only in the beginning stages I’ve pretty much sorted out the narrative it’s figuring out the rest now, mainly being the music side of it!!

The problem with starting lots of different projects is time. I don’t know about anybody else but when I feel inspired I want the finished product in front of me NOW, NOW, NOW. I tend to work really quickly and then when I look over it at a later date think what a pile of …… (Please insert word of your choice!) and that’s why I went back and re-wrote the first half of The Sequel, working title of which is still, Concordia, at the moment. So because I was so eager to continue the story, the ideas that came out on the page were a little mismatched to say the least!

So the next thing I really need to start seriously considering is a cover for Concordia, I still love the idea I cover DSCF3985design something myself but my artistic skills are seriously lacking. So I guess it’s between do I look for a graphic designer and do something digital or should I look for an artist/illustrator and go with something more intricate.

So I’ll leave you with this question, what do you look for in a book cover? I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover but let’s face it it’s the first thing that catch’s our eye, not the synopsis, not the title but the design.

First Draft Entertainment

Hello there, trust me when I mentioned in my previous blog that after completing my first draft of the sequel to The Break I was going to have a break from writing before going back to it, I didn’t actually mean I would also be having another long break from blogging also!! Seriously I don’t know how some of these guys who I follow do it. Some post everyday, some can post twice a day, I know I blogged about time management but considering the crazy distractions over the last couple of months I have to admit no amount of time management can help you plan for spanners in the works. So from illness & home improvements to a fourth birthday celebration and a new born niece things have been a little mental.

However, I won’t lie mental has been a wicked distraction as it has only been in the last few days I have managed to break out that first draft. I love reading my first drafts I find it incredibly entertaining, so far I’m only a third of the way through and I’ve already decided to ditch the entire first chapter and decide to not kill off the person I’d killed off and kill someone else instead!!!

One of my favorite things to do when I’m ripping apart a first draft is invent a sound track, certain songs just put me in a certain mood for writing specific scenes. In fact I thought it would be an awesome idea to add to the Book’s with extra’s plan, for those of you who haven’t been around, many moons ago I asked why don’t books have have extra’s like DVD’s & Blu Rays So why not a sound track aswell, it would be so cool to realese the sequal of The Break with a sound track of music which lent to the inspiration of certain scences…. How Cool???? Maybe it’s just me!! Besides that just opens up a whole load of copyright issues which I could tell you right now I couldn’t aford to licence!!!

So we have a few new characters floating around in the Sequel, six in total to be precise, obviously characters that play a key role in the narrative not your average coffee shop owner!!!!!! As you know I was rather concerned previously about enjoying writing the new characters too much that I would gradually focus more on them than the ones that the story is actually about. I no longer have this worry, after now completing the first draft I found that the balance just comes naturally. I think it comes from knowing your material, especially since the sequel visits a completely fictional environment, as the place is unfamiliar and the reader can’t relate to it you find yourself using your characters more effectively than just telling the story so the challenge was never introducing new characters the challenge became introducing the new environment but by using the charcaters I was able to interpret that world from my own head through them to you!! I’m sure when you read it you’ll no what I mean!!! But don’t get your hopes up we’re a long way away from publishing still.

I’ve been thinking about the cover and as you know I keep going on about wanting to learn to draw and keep saying I was going to post something to show you. This is so not going to happen people!!! My drawing skills are reminisent of something I did in Primary school age 6!!!! So naturally I will be hiring a professional!!!
So on that note I’m off to do some more re-writes providing the sun doesn’t come out and I get distracted by the garden again!!! Just wanted to let you guys know I’m still alive!! and the sequel is still in the works!!!

Doesn’t Time Fly

My new view from our bedroom window!

I’m back people and I must say it doesn’t feel like it’s been nearly a month since I warned you all I would need to go radio silent due to the big move, which did not go as planned but we’re in now that’s all that matters, so people keep saying, I say, how do you sue a solicitor but that story is for another day! On a more positive note I’m now surrounded by the most inspiring scenery, I’ve seen my first barn owl that wasn’t in a book or on TV, in fact it likes to land on our back fence now and again!!! and I’m loving the rural life, I can’t wait to own chickens once the jungle of the garden has been sorted!!!

It’s very strange in this day and age not having the internet around all of a sudden, I mean I’ve been able to check my e-mails on my smart phone (modern technology amazes me!) but it hasn’t been the same to just sit down at the computer and surf. I do however find it disturbing how much we rely upon it, it has quite obviously become part of everyday life. We ended up using a family members computer so we could set up all our utility bills online for the new house. This was because it was the fastest way to do it, when we phoned these places you had to go through a zillion automated messages, press 1 for this press 3 for that by the time you’d finished punching in numbers you were left on hold for half an hour before you could speak to a human being, yet on the internet we’d set up all our utility bills in 20 mins. It’s almost like the company’s don’t want to speak to you anymore and set up all these barriers to force you to do it online!!

It wasn’t like I didn’t have plenty of distractions to deal with in my absent weeks from the blogging world, there was Wimbledon, where I cried when Andy Murray made it to the final and cried some more when he lost to Federer in the final. Yep I admit I cried at sports, is there a group I can attend for this??? Well there’s still the Olympics and next year’s Wimbledon!!

However as I set up this blog to promote/discuss my writing projects I guess the biggest thing I should share with you all is I now have a completed first draft of my sequel, granted it’s a little all over the place as first drafts tend to be!! but now I’ll just do what I always do put it away for a few weeks and go back to it with a fresh head ready to rip it to shreds!! I think the most difficult stage of any writing project is to be able to go over that completed first draft and be objective, I mean you’ve spent weeks and months creating this baby you’ve poured your entire soul into it and then when you re-read it in full you realise, actually chapter 6 is crap, I don’t like how that character got from A to B in chapter 12, why did I write character X into the story she has to go she’s useless and also to think about the reader as opposed to how you read it. I find this the hardest because its hard to get the balance between being a little cryptic to keep your audience intrigued and making it way to over complicated that it confuses your audience, alternatively you’ve dumbed it down so much you realise you’ve written a book for primary school kids!!!!! I’ve also managed to gather some great material for the book with extras idea I had a while back, I have several alternative endings I would like to try out so naturally they’ve all gone in the folder for that project.

Anyway, naturally now I’m back and I’ve finished my first draft, you can expect to see more posts ranting about similar things from the beginning of the year, I need to start thinking about cover design and most importantly who I can go to for editing this time around so I don’t get conned again as I did with The Break!

Jubilee Weekend!!!

Well I guess being English I should really blog about this Jubilee Malarkey!!!! But that’s what every Brit is probably doing today and while I appreciate that HRH Queen Elizabeth II has the second longest reign of any Monarch (the longest belonging to Queen Victoria) and she is the Queen of my home country, I am personally getting a little vexed by all the hype all the chatter and all the bloody random merchandise (NO doubt my mother has already purchased her tea towel!!!!) and then this got me thinking again about my little book merchandise query, which led me back to the idea I had about Books with special features. This concept has now piqued my interest so much so that I have become more consumed by implementing this idea than working on my current project. This, I may add is also a great distraction as this weekend seems to have sparked a lack of motivation to work, 4 day weekends make me lazier than normal!!

I forced myself to re-read The Break recently for the first time since I published and since I was informed the editor I’d hired had messed up but since my first review came back positive I though I’d brave it and as I was reading and highlighting all the fresh mistakes myself I kept thinking about this special features idea. How would it work? I mean what sort of format would it be in? would it simply be a case of re-publishing the story and adding notes about the chapter/characters or how certain scenes came about??? No that sounds pretty boring. I still have laying around whole chapters which weren’t just re-written but binned completely because I took the story in a different direction, I deleted paragraphs at a time of characters that never made the final cut, maybe I should put all that work together maybe I could release it as like a book of notes but then who wants to read someones notebook??!! Maybe I could combine the two ideas? Who knows but I do really like the idea of sharing things that never made it to the finished product with the readers because lets face it, if people like what you didn’t then that’s the start of a whole new project is it not??? Or is that a cheap get out of jail free card for a next book idea!!!!

Well I have to admit both this idea and my current project are currently on hold this weekend, we very rarely get to enjoy a relaxing four day weekend, so firstly thanks to The Queen for adding an extra bank holiday to the calendar this year!!! Thanks to ATP for putting Roland Garros on so it clashes with a four day weekend (will not be moving from in front of the TV!)!!! Thanks to the USA for exporting Budweiser to the UK however I will NOT be thanking the Great British weather!!!!!!!!! So although I will not be completely lazy with my projects this bank holiday I will be looking for other peoples opinion on how to pull off this new idea of a Book with DVDesq Special Features so if you you have any ideas of what you would like to see or you’ve always wondered how authors arrive at a certain point or how they get there character ideas let me know and I’ll see how I can work on presenting that info, the thought process is now in your hands!!!

The First Review Is In!!! (and it isn’t all bad!)

OUT NOW!

Well, well, well, my first review is in my friends and I was pleasantly surprised, strike that I’m bloody ecstatic!!! Especially after my mad panic when I realised the person I had hired to edit/check grammar/sentence structure etc was actually an idiot and I probably could’ve done a better job myself, to re-cap on the full rant click HERE!

Obviously I’m not an idiot (Depending on who you talk to!!!) I realise to counter act the good means a bad review is just around the corner but as I said it’s my first so I’m going to enjoy this happy feeling for as long as possible and continue to grin like a lunatic!!!
“The Break by Kerry Stanley is a novel which breaks all genre barriers. To begin reading the book, one might wonder whether it was a love story, mystery, romance, or thriller. As it turns out, the story is all of these. Although the story in written in present day circumstances, the style of writing is much like what one might read one hundred years ago – descriptive, dramatic and heavy on the emotions. The main characters are three incredibly strong women who are fighting evil. Each has specific powers, which will assist them and their companions in time of crisis – sort of like real life Power Puff Girls.
The main goal of the women, especially Annabelle, is to prevent a gateway, the Break, from opening into this orld which would allow death and destruction masked as natural disasters to occur and the travels of unsavory characters into our system. All three women themselves are from another world but have the characteristics of this one. The story begins with background on most of the characters and Anabelle’s protected life overseen by Jessica becomes clear. We are uncertain where the story is headed but the intrigue is there. At first thought, it seems to be a mystery – and it is. Characters such as Rose begin appearing in the story who were thought to be dead, or Christian, Anabelle’s adopted brother, who was believed to be on their side of the battle against adversity.
 Rapidly the novel turns into a thriller with many twists and turns – the supernatural powers of the young women come to light as they face enemy after enemy. How the women fight the evil forces, which threaten the world, is unique and forceful. As abruptly as the book became a thriller halfway through, it becomes a love story as the book begins to wind down. The growing attraction between Annabel and Jessica is revealed – very unexpected but not inappropriately portrayed. The story ends with many questions left unanswered and battles still to be fought and won but this endings purpose is made clear when a portion of the sequel, Concordia is made available for review at the end of the volume. It is clear that this story, although not perfect in style and structure, would make a wonderful movie. The main characters make Charlies Angels look like Josie and the Pussycats – it is a story that keeps moving and definitely would keep an audience, as it does the readers, on the edge of their seats waiting for the next shoe to drop.” – GoodbooksToday.com Reviews
So if this as piqued your interest further and want to know where you can purchase a copy of The Break just follow this link

A 5K Run for The C Word

Well I did it people, I participated in The Race For Life 5k charity run at Burleigh House in Stamford and I was so not prepared for it. I was certainly not prepared for it Physically, I manged four weeks worth of training in January, sat on my ass in February, managed a week in March and April and doubled my body weight in the first two weeks in May, yep I managed to put on more weight for the Run but it didn’t matter nobody cared how fit you are, whether you ran, jogged or walked we were all there to take part in something so overwhelming I can say in all honesty I was certainly not prepared for it mentally and emotionally. Thousands of women from across the county all brought toghther by one cause because everyone had in some way been touched by Cancer. That’s right the big ‘C’ word, everyone thinks it, everyone worries about it but nobody dares talk about it because if you ignore it maybe it’ll go away, maybe it’s not happening to you or your family member or your friend or your friends family member but it IS very real. An announcement was made that a lady particpating today had just had the all clear on Friday, this sent goosebumps running down my spine and tears well up in my eyes, I don’t know this lady but I felt so happy for her good news I wished I could find her and give her a hug, instead I participated in the run to show my support.

The course itself was a test of indurance the ground uneven, windy and hilly but it wasn’t about who finished first, who was in the running, jogging or walking group people laughed and people cried there way around and it was the most fun and the most eye opening experience I think I’ve had, 3000 women, a sea of pink to beat Cancer.

For all you UK guys I would urge you to find your nearest Race For Life event today and sign up, it’s the best thing you will ever do.