Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dark Steps reviewed at Sabotage (or, 'on being reviewed')

My collection of short fiction, Dark Steps, has been reviewed by Ian Chung for Sabotage. Like all the best reviews, it isn't a breathless love song to the book, neither is it a hatchet job. Ian has written a balanced, fair review in which he, knowingly or otherwise, adheres to the 'feedback sandwich' approach of couching constructive criticism within praise.

Of course all such critiques are subjective. I don't necessarily agree with everything Ian says, but equally he does raise some interesting and valid points. And no, I'm not just talking about the discussion of things in the book that he likes.

Now being the author (and, for Dark Steps, editor, cover artist, agent, promoter, manager, chief cook and bottle-washer), I am naturally going to cherry-pick the best bits out of the review, and use them whenever and wherever I can. Things like:
When the techniques [narrator-reader gap and ending with a twist] succeed, the outcome is masterful.
And:
...the surprise reveal ... forces the reader to rethink the significance of everything that has just been read.
And I'm going to ignore some bits too. You can cherry-pick those for yourself.

All in all though, Ian's review makes for very interesting reading, and I am grateful to him and Sabotage for its publication. Have you read Dark Steps yet? How does the review equate to your impression of the book? I'd love to know. You can comment below or after the review itself, which you can find here.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

25% off at Lulu

Until 28th November you can get 25% off site-wide at Lulu... and that means you can pick up a paperback copy of Dark Steps for the tiny sum of £2.36 plus postage. Bargain! Just enter the promo code CYBERWEEKUK305 at checkout and Bob's your uncle.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The thing about writing is...

I know not all writers will agree with this view, but sharing something you've written with the world is hard. No, not brain surgery hard, or rocket science hard, but emotionally hard. You invest time, effort, energy and yourself into something, struggle to find the time and words to get it down on paper, and then have to sit back while others decide whether it's any good.

There's a line in the excellent Black Swan Green by David Mitchell that captures it perfectly. Our protagonist, Jason, has just shown the eccentric Madame Crommelnyck some of his poetry. And this is his reaction.
I felt giddy with importance that my words had captured the attention of this exotic woman. Fear, too. If you show someone something you've written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin and say, "When you're ready."
And that's exactly how it feels, for me at least. Sticking your head up above the parapet in the full expectation of being knocked down.

Publishing Dark Steps was therefore a big thing for me, a literal dark step into uncomfortable and scary territory. So far, the reviews have been kind. And I'm actively searching for book review websites and blogs that will publish a review of my little book. It's hard though - lots won't take what is, effectively, a self-published book. Others are so swamped with submissions that they've temporarily closed their doors. Others will write reviews for money, and I'm definitely not going there. I have a couple of irons in the fire though, so hopefully something will come good. I need publicity, and reviews can only help!

But back to the Black Swan Green quote. I am a one-man band. I don't have someone to prepare artwork, or edit, or proof-read for me. I don't have an intern tweeting on my behalf. I don't have an agent or a publisher or even someone doing my marketing and publicity. I have to do it all myself. This is difficult, and actually impacts on writing time, but more than that, if showing someone something you've written is handing them a stake and lying prone for them, then trying to do your own publicity is forcing a mallet into their free hand. Go on, world, knock yourself out!

The point of this post? I don't know, really. I do know that Black Swan Green is an excellent read, and I'd recommend it to anyone, especially if you were twelve or thirteen around the time of the Falklands War - you'll love the cultural references. Beyond that... well, I've tried all kinds of things to promote Dark Steps, really forcing the mallet and stake into your hands. I haven't had the success yet that I'd hoped for (and I had very modest expectations)... but then I haven't been staked through the heart either. Yet.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

I don't know anyone that uses the Diesel e-books store but...

...if you do you'll be thrilled to learn that you can now buy Dark Steps there. Here's the link. Now go, Diesellers, and buy!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

So, you've got a Sony e-reader, eh?

Then chances are you've paid their e-bookstore a visit or two. Okay, yes, I know the UK version was supposed to launch in October and today's the first of November and it's still not there. But the US version persists. And now, finally, Dark Steps has appeared there - here it is.