24 November 2015

Ribbonworld... out of this world with Richard Dee

Please welcome my guest this week - fellow Devonian 
Richard Dee :

How on earth did I end up here? 
And why am I writing as Richard Dee when it’s not my name? 
And why write Science Fiction?

These are questions that I have asked myself many times, never really getting the answer. I guess that it’s just the way my life has turned out but if you had asked the twenty-year-old me what I would be doing now, I don’t think I would have even got close.

And is it all the result of random events or is there something else at work? Well we all have an opinion on that.

But if I hadn’t been eating homemade Focaccia at the precise moment when an Italian work colleague asked me where I’d got it, I wouldn’t be running an Organic Bakery. (Or getting up at 5am to do it, so it may or may not be a good example)

If I hadn’t hurt my shoulder doing something (I still don’t know what) I wouldn’t have taken early retirement and if I hadn’t had such vivid dreams that I just had to write them down I wouldn’t be an author.
And if all those things hadn’t happened, something else probably would have.

My wife must take a proportion of the credit (blame?) for all the things that have happened; after all it was her who said to me, in a throwaway sort of comment when I complained about being unable to find a book that made me want to read it. 
“Well why don’t YOU go and write one then.” she said.

Of course, she didn’t know that I had been having the dreams. But she soon did.
And it was her who suggested the name Richard Dee as being shorter and snappier than Richard Dockett. Not only did I agree but I thought that I could hide behind it if things went wrong.
 “Richard Dee? Never heard of him.”
As it turns out he is a much better author than me anyway so it was pretty inspired.

I wonder if all authors have this experience or can relate.?When I start to write my alter ego (Mr Dee) leaps into action and I can’t stop him. In a previous existence I spent a lot of time at sea and found it hard to write letters home, even after four weeks crossing the Pacific all I could manage was “err…… it’s been sunny, err……”

But, put Richard Dee in front of a keyboard and it all flows, he gets a picture in his head, like a film playing on a screen on the back of his eyes. All he has to do is type what’s happening and try desperately to keep up with the action. And like a film, things happen that you weren’t expecting, emotions are engaged and shocks have you running to hide behind the sofa.

When Richard Dee has gone home for the evening (or wherever it is that he goes) I read it back and often find plot twists and conversations that I don’t remember, or didn’t plan. Narratives go off in different directions and other stories suggest themselves.

Richard Dockett?
Or Richard Dee...?
I guess that might make me officially ‘weird,’ in some people’s eyes but like I said above “Richard Dee, that’s not me mate!” (Helen: no Richard it makes you a writer - I reckon we're all weird!)

I write science fiction because the idea of the future is exciting.
You can create just about any future you want, just as long as you can make things sound more possible then they are. 

I remember seeing the first Star Wars film in New York, (we happened to be there on the ship I was on when the film was showing.) and the thing that struck me most was the casual use of the technology. Previously in a lot of Sci-fi the technology was almost seen as a God, a perfect thing. Yet here in Star Wars it was scruffy, matter of fact and even vaguely obsolete. After all, our technology today is all of those things, yet to a visitor from the past its imperfections would be ignored and it would still seem miraculous.

And that is what I set out to do, create a plausibly imperfect future, where things break down or just plain don’t work. And where humanity is still potentially at the mercy of its creation, dependant for survival on its wits and that something will actually happen when the button is pressed.
I have taken a conscious decision not to include too much gratuitous sex and violence, if you read Asimov for example it’s always present but rarely described in any detail. Also in my first work, I killed a character and the feeling of remorse was tangible. I had created her; I had given her life and emotion; thoughts, deeds and every attribute. Now I had killed her and I felt bad about it. Although I do still kill characters off and still have sex and violence, I try to make it part of the story, appropriate to the situation rather than as a means to shock.

It’s also strange that Mr Dee never showed up in forty years of living in Kent, yet within six months of moving back to my birthplace (Devon) here he was. As if he was here waiting for me to be here to start work.

Of course all this is meaningless if Mr Dee’s output isn’t any good, and that I suppose is where the second part of his persona comes in.
I’m talking about the reviews that my (his/our?) work will inevitably attract, can I get less upset about the bad ones because they’re directed at him? I could get upset on his behalf. Will he get upset? Or will we eventually turn into a Jekyll and Hyde sort of relationship where I have to do what Richard tells me, with increasingly outlandish and bizarre results?

Or perhaps I’m really Richard Dee and the other Richard is HIS alter ego. Now we are getting weird.

Hopefully you can see why I write science fiction.

You can find me at 
on Facebook 
or occasionally on twitter @RichardDockett1. 

My latest novel; (or should I say Mr Dee’s) Ribbonworld, was released by Silverwood Books on November 2nd.

Buy on Amazon.co.uk  paperback    kindle
Buy on Amazon.com    paperback    kindle


"This fast-paced book has all the necessary ingredients for a first-rate whodunit -- with the added element of being set on a lonely, isolated planet where a local saying sums up the world's inhospitable nature: "You may use it, or live on it, and even make money from it, but never forget it can snuff you out without a second thought, or even be aware of your passing."

"Apart from the absorbing story, the believability of the setting, the interesting, intriguing characters and the thrill of the plot, the icing on the cake is the superb cover image! Love it!"

"...Richard Dee is proving to be very promising."

"Couldn't put it down."

And for interest - view Richard's video about being
 a Thames River Pilot on his Amazon author page

Buy an e-Bundle of Historical Fiction
for as little as $3
(two of my books included!)

17 November 2015

Making A Review Work For You

My Tuesday Talk Guest Kerryn Reid talks about 
Learning To Waltz - and how to make the best of those reviews!

First of all, I want to thank Helen for inviting me here to crow a little bit.
I am overjoyed to win the Regency category of the Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction and Romance! 
It took a very long year to get the final results, but it was worth it. 

This is just one of Chanticleer Book Reviews’ impressive line-up of annual contests. The prize package includes a nice blue ribbon, gold foil stickers, digital stickers to use online, and some other goodies. 

But best of all is one of Chanticleer’s coveted book reviews! Normally, those reviews cost money. My marketing budget is too small for that!
(Alas, that review is not out yet. With around 125 category winners in ten different genres, it takes a little while to write them all. See the full line-up.)

Writers write for different reasons. There are some, I’m told, who write purely for their own pleasure, with no ambition to be published, much less successful. That’s an attitude I envy; they’ll never have to stress about SEO, social media or their “internet footprint.”

The rest of us are more greedy. We want something to show for the tears we’ve shed over our literary children. Some of us set our sights on the validation that comes from acceptance by a major publisher. Some want to sell a million copies, or make a million dollars. Some yearn to reach the New York Times best-seller list or see their beloved story on the silver screen.

I assume there are others like me, whose biggest motivator is critical acclaim. There’s not much that makes me happier than a good review. Whether it comes from Chanticleer Book Reviews or an Amazon reader, it thrills me.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve submitted my first novel, Learning to Waltz, to eight or ten free review sites. Of those, almost all came through, and the reviews they posted were very complimentary indeed. The Historical Novel Society called it “stirring and intelligent… [an] extremely promising debut.” The Romance Reviews said it was “stunning.” And to top those off, the reviewer at Readers’ Favorite called the book both “perfect” and “flawless.” She’s wrong, of course, but I’m not complaining! How awesome to think that someone found it worthy of such praise! (Awesome in the old-fashioned sense of scary, too. Because Book #2 is misbehaving. Badly.)

I flew from Florida to Washington State to attend Chanticleer’s annual conference, where they distribute those pretty blue ribbons. (No, they did not pay my way, though the category winners received a discount on the conference fee.) Another awesome-in-both-senses experience, centered not on writing but on marketing and promoting books. We talked about reviews, of course, as one factor that can help drive sales. 

Many of the authors in attendance lamented the existence of “trolls” who get their jollies by bad-mouthing authors and books they often haven’t even read, posting atrocious reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Just because they can, I guess. 

I’ve been lucky there, too. The trolls must not bother with books below a certain threshold of sales. Because I’m sorry to say, great reviews don’t necessarily translate into great sales numbers. I hear 100 is a magic number on Amazon, and I’m nowhere near that. So it’s a good thing I care more about quality than quantity, right?

Well, yes. I really do. Most of the time. 


So how can an author put a great review to work? 

  • Copy the entire review to a Word.doc and create a snippet (excerpt) to use in promotions. Choose all the best parts!
  • If it is an editorial review, post the snippet in the Editorial Reviews section on your book’s Amazon page. (Do this through your book page at Amazon Author Central.) According to Kiffer Brown of Chanticleer, posting editorial reviews here raises your “Amazon love” quotient and SEO. In addition, booksellers and librarians use these reviews to make buying decisions. Some readers do too. (What is an editorial review? Chanticleer tells you. And for a more detailed look at how to make them work, see this.)
  • Post the snippet on your home page with a link to the full review, either on the original site or elsewhere on your website.
  • Do the same with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and whatever other social media sites you use. Also your writers’ loops.
  • Send the full review to your email list. Let them share your excitement!
  • Some reviewers post to Goodreads automatically. If they don’t, you can post one in the My Review section. Just list the review site at the top so readers know it’s not your review of your own book!
  • Quote a few words from your latest review in your email signature, along with a link to the full review on your website (or the original review site): “I can’t wait to read it again. A real gem!” Online Book Club
  • Create a Word.doc containing all those great snippets for easy access when you want one. Condense it to a half page, then pretty it up with clipart and insert one in each copy of your book at book signings. Maybe enlarge and frame it for your signing table.
  • You can list your book free on Storyfinds.com, along with up to five rotating review snippets. They run some fun, reasonably-priced promotions, too. And on ReadersFavorite.com you can paste in as many reviews as you want.
  • If it’s really an important review – The New York Times, say – read it from the rooftops! In costume! Then send out a press release.
  • Last, and definitely not least, thank the reviewer! Even if it’s a so-so review, the reader took the time to write it. A simple “thank you for your comments” is only polite. This won’t sell books, but it might build goodwill. (One exception: Ignore the trolls.)

If you’re lucky, these tips will bring you some sales. They won’t make a you a best-seller (unless it’s the NYT) – and if they do, I want to hear about it! In fact, I’d love to hear whatever you have to say. Comment on Helen’s blog or use the contact links below. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter, Seasons of the Past. Click here to read a sample issue. 

website: www.kerrynreid.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kerrynreid.fiction
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kerryn_reid
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kerrynareid

Buy an e-Bundle of Historical Fiction
for as little as $3
(two of my books included!)