Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pseudonyms for anonymity?

The war of words (and petitions) still rages on social media and the Amazon forums - Should people be allowed to use made-up names?

Firstly, why would someone want to use a made-up name? There are a number of possible reasons, here are a few:

1. They have a completely stupid real name and they don't want their online buddies to laugh at them.

2. Whilst using their real name previously, they have found themselves the target of nasty individuals for whatever reasons.

3. The person wants to be a nasty individual and abuse decent people whilst hiding behind that made-up name (so he/she is harder to catch)

4.  An author uses a name that either sounds more 'authory' or is better suited to the genre in which they are writing. (John Doe isn't nearly as interesting as Jonothan Deer)

5. An author chooses a made-up name to hide their real identify for countless reasons (a kindergarten teacher writing erotic for example).

6. An Author/reviewer/reader/blogger etc etc wants to keep their on-line identity separate from their real world private life (again, for countless possible reasons).

I've written a number of books now:

Russian Redemption  - A dark and disturbing story that includes some graphic and offensive violence.

Fated Encounters -  A raw and tragic romance story

Invictus Part 1 - Introducing Richard - A thriller full of Intrigue and action

Elementals - A YA story of fantasy and adventure. Sort of Harry Potter meets Bilbo Baggins meets Indiano Jones. (To be published)

Cannibis Island - Political thriller where American politics meets Mexican drug dealers in a mutually beneficial pact, with a twist. (To be completed)

As you can see I'm writing across a number of genres. I really wouldn't want a youth reading 'Elementals' and then picking up Russian Redemption just because it's by the same author. So, being the super clever and cunning person that I am, I selected an alternative identity, disguised my authors name; I went from Andrew J Wilson to A J Wilson! Pretty good eh! And, with the YA side of things, I'm contemplating Andy/Andi Wilson - what's your thoughts?

My point is that there can be legitimate reasons for using a pseudonym, (a made up name is a made up name whatever you call it).

Regrettably the world has its fair share of weirdo's, they are out there. The invention of the internet and social media allows these strange people to be anything they wish they were in their real life. And yes, some of them are extremely dangerous; health and wealth can be adversely affected by these people IF you let it.

So, the argument that pseudonyms/anonymity should be banned will in fact harm more people than it helps (in my opinion).

AND then we have the hypocrites, of which that same famous author referred to in an earlier post is an outstanding example: Ms Rice professes to champion the removal of anonymity on the Amazon forums (but it is ok for Authors to use pseudonyms),YET she has embarked on a whole new crusade against Facebook because they have removed one of her many disciples for using a fake name - Granny Goodwitch. Y'see Facebook aren't too struck on anonymity, they much prefer their accounts to be real names - the same as Ms Rice wants on Amazon - Is it just me on is there a sense of 'dictatorship/ rich and famous author throws hissy fit and demands her own way' about this?

I don't think it really matters, Ms Rice doesn't seem to be getting her own way with many things lately, something that seems to be gnarling at her ego. Kind of reminds me of my Nan, a sweet old woman, but as the marbles started to escape from the bag she turned nasty, twisted and vindictive. I would go as far as to say that she became quite delusional in the latter stages. No doubt the signs of an illness that she never lived ling enough to have properly diagnosed.

Anyway - lessons? Anonymity has many positive functions, and a few negative. And remember, no matter how rich and famous you become, you don't actually own the world.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

USA 50 State Challenge update - 

So, nearly 16 months ago I launched a fun challenge to see if I could get at least one person from each of the 50 States to visit my website  I seem to recall that I thought it would take around 12 months to complete - oh well.

It has been a little up and down but now there are only FOUR States left:

North Dakota
South Dakota

So, if you know anyone on any of those States ask them to click onto my website, just to say hello, then at least I can cross it off as completed.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why is a person bullied on the net?

On my travels around the forums I occasioned upon a post with a link the blog of a very well known author, John Scalzi. 

Two points to make before you read on:

1) I have no link or relationship with John Scalzi, he doesn't even know I exist.

2) In my opinion 'bullying' on the internet is just sooooo yesterday! It seems the whole world is being 'bullied' - so much so the use of the words 'bully - bullied - bullying' have become fashion accessories - sorry darling, you're just not part of the in crowd unless you've been bullied. 'Bullied is the new popular! Seriously, if governments could find a way of taxing just that one word..... well, you get the idea. Make no mistake, I am not belittling those unfortunate individuals that have truly suffered at the hands of the halfwits, but it seems like everyone wants to claim 'I've been bullied.' 

The wonderful thing about the internet is that with the press of a single button you can disconnect. It's not like being in a playground where you are surrounded by the bully's gang, unable to escape, forced to endure the onslaught of unpleasantries, nope, not at all - just one button push and it's gone. The definition of being 'bullied' has gone through such a series of downgrades that, according to some, a simple non-complementary term, or even a simple difference of opinion qualifies as 'bullying' - complete crap, 

Anyway, back to John Scalzi - I've never read any of his books, I only know what I've read about him on the internet but I love his honesty, I think he would be a great dinner guest, (and by that I mean a McDonalds with a group of mates) - here is an exert from his blog, and I have to say...... I couldn't agree more!

Bettie Pager asks:
Generally, bullies bash people to get particular reactions — they want to shut down others’ voices or at least scare them. But, at least from the outside looking in, the only affect the Mewling Manlings/Rabidly Sad Puppies/etc. have on you is an occasional volley of very well-crafted snark. Given that they don’t seem to be getting what bullies generally want out of you, why do you think they keep at it?
Well, with regard to the Puppies specifically, I don’t think they’re trying tobully me. They just like to use a fictional version of me as a poster boy for Everything That’s Wrong With Science Fiction, and occasionally the poster boy for Sure We’re Doing a Shitty Thing But This Guy Kinda Did It First If You Squint Real Hard, and always as the poster boy for WAAAAAAAAAAAH SCALZI WE JUST HATE YOU SO MUCH AND WISH YOU WOULD DIE. Which is different than bullying. There’s not much to do but snark on that, honestly. They keep at it, I suppose, as a community-building activity. Which, you know. I guess is nice? None of their rationales for slating holds up to even casual scrutiny but at least they’re united in their dislike of me? Bless their little hearts. I wish them joy.
Which is not to say that occasionally someone on the Manly Men Who Manfully Man Mantastically spectrum won’t occasionally try to get in my face (online) in an attempt to intimidate me. In which case a little condescension followed by judicious application of the mute button is the usual order of things. I suspect some of them might consider ignoring them “running away,” but then they would, wouldn’t they, the dear, sweet lads. OH YOU CAN’T TAKE IT CAN YOU? Sure, I can take it. I just don’t have to take it, so I don’t. Life’s too short.
But note well that a) as a well-off straight white dude, I find it very easy to condescend to, and then ignore, all manner of schmuck, b) as a well-off straight white dude who can condescend and then ignore, I am a low-value target for bullies. The bully pathology is “punch down, suck up”; that is, harass and threaten people they believe are lower (or should be lower) on whatever fucked-up social hierarchy they subscribe to, and then run back to people they see higher up on the hierarchy for head pats (this is why bullies on Twitter often “@” who they see as higher-value bullies when they try to crap on someone).
For lack of a better way to put it, for their pathology, bullies get a lot more mileage out of other people than they do me. And alas for those other people, it is more difficult for them to wave off attempted bullying, both in terms of its seriousness, and its volume, than it is for me. My ability, and luxury, to point and laugh at, and then ignore, the sad little dudes who try to pull this crap on me, should not be construed as me suggesting this sort of nonsense is not a real problem for others. It is, and it needs to be dealt with.

Monday, May 11, 2015

What's your thoughts?

I'm sat at the dining table, all the tools of trade strewn across the varnished pinewood; laptop, notepad, 3 different coloured ink pens, some fact sheets constructed from various internet sites, a brief loose map of the story backbone and.... a cup of tea. The basic component parts to my writing position. With the exception of Barney, our rescued multi-bloodlined, faithful hound, (a 'mongrel' by any standard), the house is empty, and peaceful. I'm not one of those authors that demands complete silence, or locks themselves away for weeks at a time in order to scribe a story but I'm making the most of this opportunity.

So, screen up, glasses pushed up on top of my head and let's get to it.

At this point I have three books published, with a further six now waiting to be completed, or waiting for finances to avail themselves facilitating progress through to editing.

I am, without doubt, my own worst critic; I write great stories, or at least they always seem 'great' to start with. A few weeks after finishing the story I'll reread it, they just never seem quite as good as I remembered, and that's when the red pen comes out. I've also noticed a distinct 'pattern' to my writing; I love to jump around, weaving a dozen plots at a time, gradually meshing them all together for the final scene, it's just the way my mind works. But that's not the pattern I'm referring to. I'm one of those authors that seems to like to start the story quietly. I would liken my style to music masterpiece 'O Fortuna' (Carmina Burana) - gentle introduction, draw the reader in, gradual build then BOOM! and hold that pace until the end.

It's that gentle start that is bothering me. I've read many blogs and articles around the merits of the 'BOOM' start, straight into the action, then reveal how the characters arrived at the scene retrospectively. Remembering that Amazon has a 'Look inside' feature which allows the would-be purchaser to view the early words of a book, I can see where this sort of beginning can act as a good hook, a very valuable opportunity to tempt the reader into purchase... so why don't I use this technique? Dunno. I delved deeper into my brain in search of a plausible explanation and believe I have uncovered it...

As I was growing up my reading preferences including story's like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe series, The Hobbit, and naturally the Lord of The Rings. I then moved to Sven Hassel and David Eddings, before spending a while in the wilderness of Autobiographies - Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Robson, Lady Diana, Brian Clough, Sharon Osborne (the 1st one), Billy Connolly, Michael McIntyre and a few others. It seems that (unsurprisingly) my writing style reflects my reading preferences. Does that make me old?!

Maybe I need to try the "Boom' start, see how it goes. Every book I've read seems to have that fill-in chapter or two - the information dump, or scene setting, painting the picture, too much detail that slows the tempo but increases the word count. And there it is! There is the point, or the maybe the problem? My story's seem to be quite polarizing; people seem to love them or 'did not finish'. With some it is the frantic and exciting pace that absorbs them, that they love - yet others complain that the characters aren't 'developed' enough. If I slowed the pace to give depth to more characters those that love the pace would probably become the complainers, and the complainers would become the advocates. Tough decision eh?

Actually, it's not, I write the stories as they come. I tend not to conform to the traditional, and I don't write for the masses. It is still early days, and I'm still learning my craft (so to speak). I've learned that I love to write, I'm just waiting to find the right niche, those people that will read my books and enjoy the way I write - it's fun to be different! (Providing your living doesn't depend on it).

One thing that Amazon has definitely done is to have prized away the power and control of the big publishing houses. They (the big five trad publishers) no longer dictate the reading material available to the masses. People can now try new things, explore new genres and styles, experience authors that they would never have been exposed to had it not been for Amazon and the Indie Author/ Self publishing opportunities. That has to be a good thing yeah?!

Friday, May 8, 2015

If people ignore the warnings..........

Here's a thing, in the world that I live in (and I think this is the same for 95% of the worlds population) if I see a sign that reads 'Warning! Bridge out ahead', probably accompanied by a pictorial representation of a little black car driving off the end of a solid black bridge painted inside a red bordered triangular sign standing erect on the roadside, I would consider my route very carefully. It seems reasonable to me to believe that to continue driving on said road will result in trauma, or possibly death. Should I be surprised if, ignoring the warning signs, I end up sat behind the steering wheel of my little car as it sails through the air into a ravine, deep gully or onto the freeway underneath? And who's fault is it? 

What's my point? 

Russian Redemption, my first book, carries a number of warnings:

"An Adults ONLY story that contains some graphic and shocking violence coupled with intrigue and conspiracy, it is a portrayal of life and death in war-torn Russia, the depths of depravity a human can sink to, and the cruel mind games played by those in power. It is also a look inside the Kremlin and the NKVD in the time of Stalin, and into life in a USSR the early "Russian revolutionaries" would never have imagined."

Described by the Wishing Shelf Awards as "A dark, horror-filled look at Russia in 1941. Powerfully written and fascinating."

Some of the reviews highlight the nature of the content as well:


"A Novel of Brutality and Cruelty"

All of this and yet still the Sunday School teacher type choose to read it and are shocked to the point of being "so disgusted I couldn't read another word...". I'm not surprised! Why the bloody hell would you choose to read a story that is clearly beyond the moral tolerance of someone that believes the sky is blue and the clouds are made out of candy floss?! People that live in a bubble where the sun always shines, flowers bloom and the dark side of humanity is denied an existence.

I don't want you people reading "Russian Redemption" - I don't want to be responsible for introducing you to the reality of war; the violence and the violations of the horrible side of sub human existence. And I sure as heck don't want you bleating about how shocked and mentally scarred the story has left you - It's supposed to!!!

What's prompted this reaction? I got an email this morning in response to a review request submitted to a 'Review website' on 22nd August 2013 - just one line, 'Sorry.... 2 people tried to read it but couldn't so there is no review for you..' type email. It took nearly 2 years for that!

I don't really worry about reviews too much - I know that positive reviews can certainly help sales,of course they can, but I also know that the Amazon review process is so flawed it's pretty pointless to a degree. And, of course, a review is very subjective, very personal. But seriously folks, if you don't like blood, gore, perversion, rape, intrigue, violence or people dying PLEASE DO NOT READ 

Thank you.