Wilkie Martin - Surviving Publication


Author of the unhuman series of addictive comedy cozy mysteries set in the Cotswolds. This documents my encounters with publishing and includes things I hope will be useful later. It also covers some local writing competitions and reviews some writing events.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Graffiti Magazine Short Story Competition - closes 31 December 2017

Graffiti Magazine is produced by two members of my writing group, Catchword. I once had a page on my website with details of some local #writing #competitions, including those in Graffiti Magazine, but since my website was redesigned this page has now gone. So, here are details of the latest short story competition.
I am not involved in running it, and although I have occasionally acted as a judge, I am not judging  this one. If entering please send entries to the postal address given.




SHORT STORY COMPETITION  - TALES AFTER DARK
- Closing Date 31 December 2017

What goes on out there when the sun goes down?

1. Closing date 31 December 2017. Entries must be in English and be the writer’s own unpublished work. They must not be on offer for publication or entered in any other current competition.
3. Maximum length 1,500 words.
4. Each piece of work, with its title, must be in clear type on one side of A4 sheet(s).
5. The name and address of the writer and the titles of all entries should be typed on a separate sheet of A4 paper.
6. The prize-winner will be notified by post, if SAE provided, or by email if email address is provided.
7. Entries are only accepted by post. Please keep a copy of your work, as entries will not be returned.
8. The fee is £3 per story. Cheques/Postal Orders in sterling only, should be made payable to:

Catchword Writing Group

9. All entries that arrive on time will be considered by the adjudicator, whose decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into concerning the result.
10. Competitors wishing to be informed of the results should enclose an SAE marked ‘Results’ or provide an email address.
Send entries to:
Graffiti Magazine Writing Competition
C/o 33 Sandford Leaze
Avening
Glos
GL8 8PB
United Kingdom
Prize: £100 The winning entry and short listed stories will be published in Graffiti magazine.

Contact Graffiti Magazine

To contact Graffiti Magazine: graffiti.magazine@yahoo.co.uk
See Graffiti Magazine on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rona.laycock.5
 

You can subscribe to Graffiti.

For details contact : graffiti.magazine@yahoo.co.uk

 Don't forget to use the correct competition address above and send entries there and not to me.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

How to Write a Book Review

5 large gold stars

Like many people, I tend to read a selection of reviews before deciding whether to buy a product or a book. Also, like many people, I actually write reviews infrequently, and I write fewer now than I used to. Partly this is because my partner once told me off when I was thinking of posting a less than glowing review of a book by a well-known author even though I 'd given up on it at about half way! Perhaps another reason I don't write so many reviews is that I now know what it's like to be on the receiving end! Either way I do know they are very helpful for an author and for the purchaser.

Here are the topics included below:
Do reviews matter? And what does it mean to the author?
What can I say in a review?
How long does a review have to be?
What shouldn't you say?
Where do you write reviews?
How do I add a review?
Find where to add the review
Add the review
Can I change my review?
What is 'Verified Purchase'?
How will my name be shown on my review?
What does 'Amazon Customer' or 'Kindle Customer' mean?
What does 'VINE VOICE', 'TOP 50 REVIEWER', 'TOP 100 REVIEWER' 'TOP 500 REVIEWER', 'TOP 1000 REVIEWER' mean?



Do reviews matter? And what does it mean to the author?

As I read and depend upon the published reviews of others when I make my decisions to buy, I think they matter. Having them makes it more likely that people will take a chance on an author when they come across their books for the first time. Once a few reviews are available, a book gains (or not!) some of the social proof that is important in today's online world. An online review is the equivalent of a personal recommendation from a friend.

Reviews are also often a prerequisite when setting up book promotions since many of the best promotion websites and newsletters require a minimum number and a minimum average value on a book before accepting them for a promotion. The promotion sites also use reviews as they only want to recommend readable books to their subscribers.


What can I say in a review? 

Say something about the book? Was it good quality? Did it meet your expectations? Did you like it? Would you read something by this author again? Would you recommend it to a friend?  What made you get it in the first place? Was it a gift? And did you enjoy it? Was there a character in the book you particularly liked?

Suggestions for reviews:

'I really enjoyed this book'
'The perfect book for a summer evening'
'An enjoyable holiday read'
'Just the light funny read I was looking for'
'I have no hesitation recommending this book - 5 stars'
'I'm rereading it now I enjoyed it so much'
'I've brought all the author's other books after reading this'
'I can't wait for the next book'

Have a look at what the other reviews say - if you agree with them then you can write the same or something similar. Or if you disagree with a particular review say the opposite.


How long does a review have to be?

They don't have to say much at all. Anything from 4-5 words to 100's of words if you feel so inclined.


What shouldn't you say? 

Unless buying direct from the publisher, it isn't helpful to others to say that a book was delivered quickly or not as this doesn't say anything about the book itself.

Try not to make the review just a plug for a book by another author as this affects the reputation of the author you mention and doesn't help them. This type of review even has a name - 'sock-puppetry'.

Remember that the description or price of the book, or the details in other reviews, can change, so if you refer to them include the parts you agree or disagree with.

And remember that authors have human feelings!


Where do you write reviews?

Most online retailers allow you to add reviews to listed books. And online library services such as Goodreads also have review options. Write a review in the same place as you buy or list the book.

Find the book you want to review and then click on the option to write one.


How do I add a review?

This is for adding a review on Amazon, although other places will be very similar. First logon on to Amazon.

Find where to add the review

1. Find the book you want to review.

2. Scroll down to the bottom of any current reviews .

3. Click on the button 'Write a customer review'.

Amazon's Write a customer review button

Or

4. Find the book you want to review.

5. Click on the '## customer reviews' next to the star rating to the right of the book.

6. Click on the button 'Write a customer review'.

Add the review

1. Tick the star rating you want to give a book.

5 blank stars

1 star - I hate it
2 stars -  I don't like it
3 stars - It's okay
4 stars - I like it
5 stars - I love it

A star rating of 3-5 is a positive review, and a rating of 1 or 2 stars is a negative review.

2. When you've ticked one a box will appear under them. This is where you enter your review.

Amazon's write a customer review box


3. When you start entering some text in the first box, a second box will appear. This is for the 'heading' and is the text that appears in bold at the top of the review. Select a few of the best descriptive words from your review and copy them into the heading. Or you can just say give your number of stars in text ' 5 stars' etc.

Amazon's write a customer review box with heading box

4. Select 'Submit'. You've now added your review.


Can I change my review?

Yes you can edit your reviews. They are linked to your Amazon account and available under 'Your Account'.

1. To get to them go to the top option 'Your Account' on the right the drop-down list under your 'account & lists' (under 'Hello').

Amazon's menu options under accounts and lists

2. Click on 'Your Account'. Then in the account options select 'Profile' from 'Ordering and shopping preferences'. Your existing reviews are listed when you option your profile.

Amazon's options under your account


Or

4. Get there direct by clicking on these link (if you are logged into Amazon)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/cdp/member-reviews/
https://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/

5. Scroll though to find the review you want to change.

6. Then just under the review you find the option to 'Edit review' or 'Delete review'. Either Edit then Submit your review (as above) or Delete it.

Amazon's buttons to edit or delete a review



What is 'Verified Purchase'?


Amazon's verified purchase text


Sometimes a review has 'Verified Purchase' next to it and sometimes it doesn't. 'Verified purchase' means that the reviewer brought this book using the same account as the review is written with. If the 'Verified Purchase' is not next to the review then they either brought it with a different account, had it as a gift or received a free review copy. If it is a free review copy then the review will often say so. 'Verified Purchase' will be added automatically if you brought the book using the same account.


How will my name be shown on my review? 

Amazon review title example

You can choose the name you want used as the 'By' information next to all your reviews by setting up the name in your profile.

1. To get to your profile go to top option 'Your Account' on the right the drop-down list under your 'Account & Lists' (under 'Hello').

Amazon's options under accounts and lists

2. Click on 'Your Account'. Then in the account options select 'Profile' from 'Ordering and shopping preferences'.

Amazon's options under your account


Or

4. Get there direct by clicking on this link (if you are logged into Amazon)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/profile
https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile

5. When on 'Your Account' 'Profile', select 'Edit your profile'.

Amazon's edit your profile button

6. Edit 'Your public name', this is what is shown as 'By' next to your review. Set this to anything you like - use a pseudonym if you wish.

Amazon's your public name field

7. You can also enter biographical and other information which will be shown to anyone who clicks on your name next to your review. If you want people to contact you to ask you to review their books or other products, then enter your contact details and give some information about the sort of things you would be interested in reviewing in the 'Bio'.

Amazon's edit your profile screen


8. To change how much information about you is made public, click on the 'Edit privacy settings'. Tick 'Reviews' under 'Public Activity' to make your reviews public. and tick or untick the other options to make your other activity public if you want to. Click on the 'View your profile as a visitor' text at the top to see how your information appears to other people. Click on the 'Save' button'

Amazon's profile privacy settings



What does 'Amazon Customer' or 'Kindle Customer' mean?

Amazon customer text

Kindle customer text

This means the reviewer doesn't want to show their name or has not setup their profile information.


What does 'VINE VOICE', 'TOP 50 REVIEWER', 'TOP 100 REVIEWER' 'TOP 500 REVIEWER', 'TOP 1000 REVIEWER' mean?

Amazon badges for top reviewer and vine voice


When you write a review on Amazon you will receive an Amazon reviewer ranking. When you write more and more reviews or when your reviews get a 'like' then you move up the rankings. If you write a lot of reviews and get into the top 1000 or above then you are awarded a reviewer badge automatically. Provided you haven't un-ticked the option to show 'Top Reviewer Badges' then the badge will appear automatically next to your name.

A 'Vine Voice' is someone in Amazon's Vine programme, where they receive free products and as a part of this programme have to write a review for those they receive.



I hope the above is helpful and encourages you to write your first review.

Thank you if you are a reviewer, or if you are now going to write your first review. Reviews really do make a difference.


Thursday, 30 March 2017

#BookTrailers For #CozyMystery Inspector Hobbes and the Bones by Wilkie Martin

Certain trouble lies ahead for Andy Caplet. Is the apparently charming young woman who attempts to seduce him merely setting him up for blackmail, or is something even more sinister afoot? Inspector Hobbes certainly believes so, and, though he's not the sort to worry, he is getting worried.

Inspector Hobbes and the Bones, the fourth in my comedy cozy mystery crime fantasy series unhuman, was published in December 2016. I have recorded 5 short extracts from early on in the book as booktrailers and all have now been released. I hope you enjoy them.

I've also recorded short extracts from the previous books in the series, which you can find on my youtube channel @wilkiewrites (or on my website / facebook), And if you have a daft sense of humour you may also enjoy my silly poems - also on my youtube channel,

Inspector Hobbes and the Bones, and all my books are available on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Nook etc in ebook, They are also available as paperbacks and hardbacks.

Ebook Shop Links:




#Booktrailers #cozymystery Inspector Hobbes and the Bones by Wilkie Martin

1.       Andy and Hobbes meet a distraught Skeleton Bob and learn of Crackling Rosie’s sad fate






2.       Andy battles a tree






3.       Hobbes sends Andy to retrieve a boat





4.       Andy rescues a boy from the flood





5.       Bob and Fenella have a bust-up at home






Click to read a sample and see other shopping options





Related Posts

Talking Names from Inspector Hobbes and the Bones and Others 

First #BookTrailer for #CozyMystery Inspector Hobbes and the Bones

Excited To Have New Covers For My Unhuman Series

Read Free Book Samples Of Humorous Unhuman Mysteries

What's in the Blood?

#Blog Alan Titchmarsh was my inspiration for writing Inspector Hobbes and the Blood

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Graffiti Magazine Flash Fiction And Poetry Competition - Closes 31 May 2017

Graffiti Magazine is produced by members of my writing group, Catchword. I used to keep a page on my website where I included details of some local #writing #competitions, including those in Graffiti Magazine, but since my website was redesigned this page has gone. So here are details of the latest competition. I am not involved in running it, and although I do occasionally act as a judge, I am not the judge on this one. If entering please send entries to the postal address given.

Graffiti Magazine Issue 21 Cover



FLASH FICTION COMPETITION
- Closing Date 31 May 2017

1. Closing date 31 May 2017. Entries must be in English and be the writer’s own unpublished work. They must not be on offer for publication or entered in any other current competition.
3. Maximum length 500 words.
4. Each piece of work, with its title, must be in clear type on one side of A4 sheet(s).
5. The name and address of the writer and the titles of all entries should be typed on a separate sheet of A4 paper.
6. The prize-winner will be notified by post, if SAE provided, or by email if email address is provided.
7. Entries are only accepted by post. Please keep a copy of your work, as entries will not be returned.
8. The fee is £3 per story. Cheques/Postal Orders in sterling only, should be made payable to:
Catchword Writing Group
9. All entries that arrive on time will be considered by the adjudicator, whose decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into concerning the result.
10. Competitors wishing to be informed of the results should enclose an SAE marked ‘Results’ or provide an email address.
Send entries to:
Graffiti Magazine Writing Competition
C/o 33 Sandford Leaze
Avening
Glos
GL8 8PB
United Kingdom
Prize: £50 The winning entry and short listed stories will be published in Graffiti magazine.

NEW POETRY COMPETITION
- Closing Date 31 May 2017

The challenge is to write a sonnet, which may be on any theme you care to choose. 
1. Closing date 31 May 2017. Entries must be in English and be the writer’s own unpublished work. They must not be on offer for publication or entered in any other current competition.
3. Maximum and minimum length 14 lines.
4. Each piece of work, with its title, must be in clear type on one side of A4 sheet(s).
5. The name and address of the writer and the titles of all entries should be typed on a separate sheet of A4 paper.
6. The prize-winner will be notified by post, if SAE provided, or by email if email address is provided.
7. Entries are only accepted by post. Please keep a copy of your work, as entries will not be returned.
8. The fee is £3 per story. Cheques/Postal Orders in sterling only, should be made payable to:
Catchword Writing Group
9. All entries that arrive on time will be considered by the adjudicator, whose decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into concerning the result.
10. Competitors wishing to be informed of the results should enclose an SAE marked ‘Results’ or provide an email address.
Send entries to:
Graffiti Magazine Writing Competition
C/o 33 Sandford Leaze
Avening
Glos
GL8 8PB
United Kingdom
Prize: £50 The winning entry and short listed poems will be published in Graffiti magazine.

Contact Graffiti Magazine

To contact Graffiti Magazine: graffiti.magazine@yahoo.co.uk
See Graffiti Magazine on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rona.laycock.5
 

You can subscribe to Graffiti.

Postal subscriptions in the UK:
Single issue £3.50 (inc postage)
Cheques/postal order made payable to Catchword Writing Group to competition address as above.
Overseas subscription details on application : graffiti.magazine@yahoo.co.uk

 Don't forget to note the competition address above and send entries there and not to me.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Talking Names from Inspector Hobbes and the Bones and Others



Writers in the Brewery invited me to speak at its February meeting at New Brewery Arts in Cirencester, and I was lucky that fellow local author Richard Hensley (a writer of epic science fiction) volunteered to record the event. After a little editing to remove some background hum and hiss the audio is now available below and on my website. The talk included a QnA at the end (starting at about 33 mins). The following is a summary of much of what I mentioned.

Names

Names are an important part of a book and I base the ones I use on something that means something to me or helps to inspire me:
  • I used the name Hobbes since it has connotations of hobgoblins, Hobbs End in Quatermass and the Pit, where all the weird goings on happen, and also gives a nod towards Thomas Hobbes the philosopher (who was not a handsome man). In addition it suggests 'hub' since the stories revolve around Hobbes, and the name has a similar root.
  • Andy Caplet was inspired by seeing a photo of André Caplet and fellow composer Claude Debussy, in which Claude came across as large and confident and André appeared small and insignificant.
  • Mrs Goodfellow comes from the name of a sprite or spirit in Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Mrs Goodfellow is a good cook and coincidentally there is an old American cookbook by a Mrs Goodfellow. Although it is possible I heard about it when I briefly worked in the US I don't remember it.
  • I describe Hobbes as unhuman, since he isn't quite human as we understand it. I chose that word since inhuman suggests cruel or nasty which he isn't (normally).
  • Inspector Hobbes and the Bones like my other titles, has more than one meaning. The story does contain real bones, but also reveals a little of what goes on under the skin of the town of Sorencester.
  • The names of the Elwess (Matilda, Hilda, Aubrey and Alvin) come from English and Scandinavian Folklore and suggest mythical beings - sprites and elves and suchlike.
  • Solomon Slugg was actually a real name that I came across at the Rifles Museum in Salisbury. I thought it too good to waste, and invented a whole family of Sluggs.
  • Mrs Nutter is as the name suggests! She doesn't think much of Andy.
  • The place names in Sorencester are often corruptions of place names in Cirencester, and Sorenchester is of course a terribly twisted version of Cirencester.

Hobbes

My initial idea for the monstrous Hobbes came from seeing an Alan Titchmarsh programmes in which he had himself made up as a Neanderthal and walked around London, barely getting a second glance. Although I don't see Hobbes as Neaderthal, I do have him as someone from a distant offshoot of the human tree. A police uniform would be a great thing to hide behind until an unhuman could be accepted as a fixture in a community.
I was also inspired by Sherlock Holmes where Conan Doyle used a narrator to describe Sherlock since it was difficult to get inside Holmes's head as he is so different. Sherlock Holmes is why I use a narrator and a housekeeper.


Andy

Andy is partially inspired by Nigel Bruce's version of Dr Watson from the older Basil Rathbone films.
Andy is taken in like a stray, in the same way as Dregs the dog.
Andy is forced to help rescue people.

Writing

Write about what you know is good advice (although you do not have to have known it for long), which is why I base the Hobbes stories in Sorenchester, a strangely distorted version of Cirencester. I don't plot beforehand, but have a start point and an end point in mind and let the characters map out the direction the story takes to get there. When I have the first draft, I read it through immediately, changing any obvious mistakes and adding changes including some of those suggested by my writing group and by my partner. If time is not too pressing, I then like to leave it a while before editing and rewriting in earnest, making sure everything is consistent, that the story hangs together and that the writing flows. It takes many rewrites before I am more or less satisfied. I use a real calendar for checking dates, days of the week, lighting up times, stages of the moon etc. In editing, some parts are expanded, some are removed and some shortened. The first book lost its first 2 chapters, which were when I was writing my way into the book, and one in the middle which slowed things down too much. I wish I could write faster: I can't match Alexander McCall Smith's output of 4-5000 words a day. If I can do half of that I'm very pleased. I do however have the same cover designer.

Inspector Hobbes and the Bones

As well as being about the weather, this book was inspired by themes of immigration. All of us are either immigrants ourselves or have ancestors that were (sometimes many generations ago). In this book Hobbes has to police some new dangerous and mysterious arrivals.It also features the events that occur to the hapless Andy, who early on gets punched, is nearly run down and is shot in the buttock with an air-rifle.
The book deals with floods, identity theft, corrupt politicians, the seedy underbelly of the restaurant trade, dangerous animals, blackmail and is a humorous story with a hint of fantasy.
Some of my recurring characters also comes into it -  including little Billy Shawcroft, and 'Skeleton' Bob Nibblet (who is not an actual skeleton, as some of my reviewers have thought).

New Book

I'm working on new book, provisionally entitled Razor. It is about a suicidal man's struggles to achieve an heroic death. Although it is not an Hobbes book, it is set in the same world and some parts are in Sorencester. It has a cast of new characters. I do intend to write further Hobbes books at some point.



QnA

How much of yourself do you see in your characters, and which characters?
Quite a lot of  me is in Andy, mostly the worst bits. He has too many negative aspects, but will come through in the end if pushed. I'm not easily pushed but am easily led. Andy is an amazingly clumsy chap to whom odd things happen, and surprisingly many of the incidents I write about have been inspired by reality - either things that have happened to me or to someone I know. There are many more true stories I could use but they may not be believable.
Hobbes has aspects of my grandfather - gruff and kindly. A father figure for Andy.
Mrs Goodfellow is a good cook because I like to think I am one.
There is a bit of myself in all the characters, even though overall none of them is like me.
I do distinguish myself from Andy though as Andy drinks lager which is something I would never do. Hobbes is a tea drinker something I share with him.

When you said he is unhuman. What do you mean by that?
He's not quite a human being. He's gone down a different path of the evolutionary tree, though there is probably a common ancestor somewhere.

How is this revealed in his character then?
There are various weird parts of him. Where most detectives follow visual clues, Hobbes follows nasal ones. He sniffs his way. He has an acute sense of smell. He is enormously powerful and bulky and being all muscle, he doesn't float. Instead he just walks along the bottom and hopes for the best when he is in deep water.

Did you think about all these characteristics before, or did they just kind of develop?
A lot of them were there before, but some of them developed. Sniffing, powerfulness, strength were all there from the start, but some others did develop as it went on including his method of de-stressing by crunching up raw bones.

Does this impact on people around him then?
To an extent yes, though some of them aren't human either. Most are quite well behaved. There are even a couple of ghouls in one of the other books. They live on bones and keep opening up graves. Hobbes lets them get on with it as long as they clear up afterwards.

You don't describe it as fantasy do you? But is has that tinge in it.
It has a tinge to it yes. On the surface everything is normal but there is a thread of fantasy that runs through it.

Isn't that quite difficult though?
It is difficult to get the balance right. I do think having a completely normal surface and setting it in a twisted version of Cirencester helps, because I can feel what is going on there and know what is real. I can then twist these little bits through the story.
It's a bit similar to John Wyndham - he used to always do that, to keep the normal situation in a normal society and then add something extraordinary to it. I think that is what I was trying to do.

Does he get more unhuman as things progress or does he stay the same?
He stays much the same. Although now and again little bits, new little oddities will turn up. Like when Andy is ill in bed and he sees Hobbes's face in the window upside down.

Does it relate to the moon? 
No, Hobbes is always the same.

I'm thinking werewolf.
No, although werewolves do come into Hobbes and the Curse. They are actually quite friendly, although both Dregs and Andy catch fleas off them.

Do you understand him, because you said Andy doesn't understand him?
I understand what he is doing. If you watch an animal you can describe what it is doing but you can't say what is going on in its head. It is the same with Hobbes. I can describe him but not what he is thinking. Andy will put his own interpretation on how he thinks Hobbes is thinking.

So do people interpret him in different ways then?
Mostly it seems to be very similar. People have their own image of him and it tends to gel and to be quite consistent. Occasionally people have different ideas such as 'Skeleton' Bob being a real skeleton.

Have you got any actors in mind for the film or television version?
That would be great. No, I haven't really. There was a guy called André the Giant, he would have made a reasonable Hobbes. As for the others I don't really know. Maybe Martin Freeman as Andy. It is a hard question as I have my own impressions and it is difficult to put that onto actors

Do you like him? Or are you going to be like Conan Doyle and kill him off?
At the moment I like him. It is a point, because he has been around for a long time and probably should have retired about 60 years ago. At some stage, if I keep on writing him, and I do intend to at some at point, he may have to retire. Although he is powerful he is also quite vulnerable. He's not immune to getting shot, and in this book shows he can't cope with deep water - he just holds his breath and hopes for the best. In his way he is quite selfless. He is there to protect the public and his values were drummed into him by his adoptive parents, who were human. Hobbes and the Gold Diggers has more about his background, where he is from. There was a tribe of his people living in the Blacker mountains, which are like the Black mountains but a bit further away.



Listen to the recording here:


(If the audio play bar does not show then I'm sorry but your browser doesn't support the version used. See the one on the website or the direct link below.)

Or the recording is available here http://www.wilkiemartin.com/InspectorHobbesAndTheBones.html