The worst thing that can happen to a writer

July 6, 2020

The worst thing that can happen to writers is that nobody reads their work.  I used to get upset when I found some of my books were being pirated, but then I realised that I was getting free publicity.  Many readers, when they finish a book they have enjoyed, pass it to friends or family members.  The book often ends up in a second hand or charity shop.  Authors have no choice but to accept this, but what is unacceptable is that there are unscrupulous individuals out there who exploit the endeavours of an author for their own gain.

Sometimes a reader will not like a book and may leave an unfavourable or even a bad review.  It happens as a writer cannot please everyone and hopefully those occasions will be very few.  But at least this person will have read the book.  Of course, if it happens too much then the author must seriously rethink how they go about their trade.  A new author or even an establish author will give away free copies of a new book in exchange for a review.  It is very unusual for a reviewer to take advantage of this and sell the book on, but it can happen.

I have been surprised to find some of my books for sale online for far more money than they are advertised by my own website or reputable book stores.  There is a market for early editions, especially those signed by the author.  Some early copies of my first books, complete with typing and formatting errors, have even ended up online for exorbitant amounts.  There is nothing an author can do about this.  But it is publicity and how much income authors can loose must be offset against the free publicity they get.

Most authors earn little from selling their work.  I know very few who earn a living from their writing full time.  They write because they enjoy their craft, but above all they love to bring enjoyment to readers.  The best thing that can happen to a writer is when a reader who you have never met picks up your book and writes to you to say how much they have enjoyed it.  Those are the moments I savour.

Keith Jahans


Book Excerpt ‒ Cogrill’s Mill by Jack Lindsey

August 15, 2019

He stood glumly on the pavement and stared at the shop window.  It contained prominently displayed photographs of weddings as well as portraits of an assortment of people, children and domestic animals.  He agonised for ten minutes and then with great determination strode to the door, opened it and walked inside.

A bell sounded as it swung shut behind him.  The shop was deserted.  In front of him was a small counter, behind which was a stack of filing cabinets.  He approached the counter and looked around him.  More photographs, similar to those in the window, adorned the walls.  To the left of the counter a small door led to a back room and to its right, a wooden flight of stairs led upwards.  There was a clatter of feet on the stairs and a very pretty golden-haired girl descended.  She stepped behind the counter.  “Can I help you?” she asked in a polite soft voice.  Her eyes were bright blue and her smile sparkled.

George was mesmerised by her beauty but he managed to summon up some words. “I … I wish to speak to Mr Gloam,” he stammered.

“There is no Mr Gloam,” she replied.

George was confused but he blustered on. “The sign says V. Gloam.”

She nodded, still smiling.  “That’s me … Victoria Gloam.”

“I was looking for Victor Gloam,” George continued.

“Victor Gloam was my father. He died two years ago.”

George felt a surge of relief.  “Oh really,” he breathed.  Fate was on his side again.

The girl’s smile changed to a frown.  “Well there’s no need to look so pleased about it,” she said.

George’s face reddened.  “I’m extremely sorry, I didn’t mean …”

“What did you wish to see my father about, Mr … er … um?  What did you say your name was?”

“Oh, er … um … Smith,” replied George and added hastily, “I was asked to look your father up.  I’m sorry to have troubled you, good-bye!”  He turned quickly for the door.

“Good-bye, Mr Smith!”  Victoria Gloam called after him.

Once outside, George hurried across the road to a telephone box.  Life was pleasant once more. He could hardly contain himself.   He snatched open the door, grabbed the telephone receiver and quickly dialled his aunt’s number.  His call was answered by the butler. “Hello, Gumage,” said George, “is my aunt there?”

“I will see if I can find her, Master George.”

Some moments passed and then Aunt Jane’s harsh voice sounded at the end of the line.  “Hello, George,” she said.

“Hello, Aunt Jane!” George said breezily.  She would be pleased that he had acted so speedily and successfully.  “I’m calling from Tidburn!”

“Oh yes.”

“Yes.” Then George remembered to lower his voice and tried to sound not so joyful.  “I’m afraid Victor Gloam is dead.”  There was silence at the other end of the telephone.

“Did you hear me, Aunt Jane?” asked George

“I heard you, George.”

“So I can’t give him half my inheritance.”

“I realise that, George.”

“Well, I thought I ought to let you know as soon as possible.  Now I had better be going as I am phoning from a call box and I haven’t much change.  Good-bye, Aunt Jane.”

“George!”

“Yes, Aunt Jane?”

“Did he leave any family?”

George felt his heart sink. “Family, Aunt Jane?”

“Yes, George, a wife, children.”

George began to stammer. “I’m … I’m not sure.”

“What do you mean, you’re not sure?”

“I’ll … I’ll have to check.”

“Well make sure that you do, because if there are any relatives then they’re entitled to get what should have gone to Victor Gloam.  Is that clear, George?”

“Yes, Aunt Jane,” said George sadly. “Good-bye.”

“Good-bye, George.”

George slowly put the receiver down.  Well that was that.  He would have to see the girl again.  It was now clear that his quiet comfortable life would definitely change.  Well, it could not be helped.  He crossed the road and entered the shop once more.

http://peatmore.com/cogrills.htm

Photograph : 123RF konstantin32


Independent Book Seller Needs Help

April 12, 2019

I received the following message via Linkedin and am posting it below as an example of the challenges faced by independent book sellers.

Keith Jahans

 

Jim Hart 1:09 AM

Keith, thank you for being part of my LinkedIn circle. You are one of an

exclusive group who value the written word, art, learning, and

community, a group of thinkers, creators, doers of deeds.  I value and

respect you and your connection.

Connye & I founded The Published Page Bookshop for and because of

people like you. For decades we have worked to build a truly unique

“old school” bookstore, where creativity, passion, ideas, and

excitement flow from the shelves and fill the air. Where new authors

are introduced to the public, and old treasures are preserved and

shared with new generations, a place of community. I think we have

succeeded. You can see far more of our shop in pictures and videos by

clicking on the link below.

But our wonderful shop is facing a crisis. Unless we can meet our

mortgage holder’s demands, we are in eminent danger of foreclosure,

and closing the doors of this wonderful bookstore.

Your contribution of $5.00 will help us keep the doors open.  And if

you can share this request with your own friends and acquaintances,

thank you.

We believe it is important to have physical bookstores, where

neighborhoods meet, where children discover the love of books and

reading, where authors and poets can meet and interact with their

readers, where literature and culture fill the air.

If you believe in these things also, we would love to have your help

keeping them alive. Connye and I have invested everything we have

toward those goals. We think they are worth fighting for, and hope you

agree.

Far more information about our shop and about Connye and me is shown

on our GoFundMe page:

https://www.gofundme.com/ThePublishedPage

If you would like to discuss this in person you can reach me by email

at jimhart@publishedpage.com

My personal cell for text or voice is 817-217-0656

Connye & I both hate to ask for help. If we didn’t believe this shop

was worthy of being saved we would not ask. If you can help, thank

you.

Blessings,

Jim Hart, Owner


Games in Fiction

April 5, 2019

I have played games throughout my life.  I think that this is the same for most people.  I have also followed many sports which is true for many people but not all.  Nowadays there is too much money invested in some sports but those sports where it is invested are very selective.

A great deal of invested money is derived from gambling but those that invest do so to make money and are not interested in sport.  Some sports have become so money orientated that winning is the be all and end all.  I used to follow rugby football but I do not now.  The players are so big and bulky that the small fast players I liked to watch in the 1960s and 1970s are no longer evident.  There seem to be more injuries these days because as they crash into each other more players are hurt.  There was a time when sport was an enjoyable social pastime but sadly this does not seem as apparent as it used to be.  But despite this the elements within it still make good story telling.

Whether the game you indulge in is sedentary (Board games, video and computer games) or physically active (football, athletics etc.) the intrinsic element of competiveness is stimulating.  I included some of these elements in my novel, Gifford’s Games, written under the penname Jack Lindsey and hope that I have produced a narrative that is enjoyable to read.

 

Keith Jahans

The ebook is available at http://amazon.com/dp/B00K2ACUOW and
the paperback via http://peatmore.com/giffordsgames.htm


Putting emotion into Fiction

March 11, 2019

A good way to grab readers’ attention is to tap into their emotions.  One way is to include humour in a narrative, even if you do not set out to write a funny story.  I have written two humorous novels under the penname, Jack Lindsey and hope those that read them found them entertaining.

I have also written two thrillers under the pennames of Luke Johnson and Keith Jahans (my real name).  By using these names I could distinguish between my comic writing and these last two novels.  But there was a great temptation to insert a little humour into even these, which I did sparingly as I think, in the instances where I used it, it served to flesh out some of the characters and to relieve tension to give the reader a chance to draw breath.  This device is used by some truly great writers and arguably the greatest writer of all, Shakespeare, used humour in his tragedies (The grave diggers in Hamlet and the porter in Macbeth).

Making a reader cry is the hardest emotion to evoke.  I have experienced this when watching movies directed by expert storytellers.  I was moved to tears by the impending possible death of Spielberg’s character ET who was not and did not even look human and did not in the end die.  But I have rarely experienced this emotion when reading novels.  But perhaps this is just me.

A few of my readers have contacted me to say that they were upset about the death of two characters in my first novel, Cogrill’s Mill.  But I think this may be because they thought that I had wasted further comic potential of characters they had grown to identify with rather than morning their loss.  This was a surprise in what I had planned to be a comedy and not a tragedy.  But I suppose this only serves to show that a writer can forget that comedy often turns out to be tragic.

Keith Jahans


Genera/categories

February 27, 2019

Deciding on which genre or category your book fits into can be a difficult decision for any author.  Of course the easiest way is to decide this before beginning writing but it is not always that easy as the book evolves during its creation.  Yet this decision is important for anyone who is serious about its marketing as it is the means by which any bookseller, librarian or online marketer places it on their shelves.

The largest online seller is Amazon and, if you use this outlet, it will place a book into one of its categories if you decide not to do this yourself when completing its online submission form and sometimes it can get this wrong.  The best way to seek this out yourself is to search for a book which is similar in subject matter, style and tone to your own and look at the category Amazon fits it into or how other booksellers and libraries place it in their catalogues.  Concentrate on those which top the best seller lists and try to identify the key words used in searches.

This method is not necessary foolproof as I have found that sometimes Amazon alters the categories even after you have listed them using its KDP direct website.  It may have even found a better slot than you first envisaged so make sure you keep this under review.  Amazon allows authors/publishers a chance to choose two categories for its KDP publications so it is better to slot your book into two different subgenres to help prospective readers find it (see example below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This comedy thriller ebook is available at
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K2ACUOW.
The paperback can be found via
http://peatmore.com/giffordsgames.htm

Keith Jahans


Book Excerpt – Magic Bullets Prologue

January 3, 2019

The bullet crashed through the plate glass window and into the customer’s forehead.  It smashed through his skull and embedded itself in the wall behind him.  People screamed as the plump middle-aged man was flung off his chair away from the table where he had been dining and the shooter stepped through the shattered opening into the restaurant.
    He had not wanted to waste bullets by spraying rounds indiscriminately so he had set the Kalashnikov rifle he was holding to fire single shots.  These were to be surgical killings and he wanted to shoot dead all who crossed his path.  His feet crunched on the broken glass as he trod carefully forward and shot a woman, sheltering beneath the table in the back of the neck.  A man who looked like a waiter made a dash for two double doors and he shot him in the back before he could reach them.  Some people ran, but those who were not quick enough or those who cowered on the floor he shot one by one.  Dark blood flowed with food, drink and broken crockery among the unturned chairs.

http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Books – The ideal Christmas presents

December 12, 2018

One of the most enjoyable experiences anyone can have during Christmas is to receive a book as a present.  A hardcover or paperback book is an ideal shape to be wrapped and, if the giver is tuned in enough to the tastes of the recipient, when the wrapping is opened it is certain to delight.

It is a gift suitable for all ages.  Small children love turning pages to admire pictures and be read to by an attentive adult.  Those of us who are older can curl up by a fire or somewhere warm knowing that someone close to us has been thoughtful enough to bestow such a delightful personal gift.

So when out shopping for someone close to you at this festive time of year your first thought should be to buy a book.

 

Keith Jahans

http://peatmore.com/jacklindseyholidaydeals.htm
http://peatmore.com/thrillerholidaydeals.htm


Villains in Fiction

November 30, 2018

Just as every book needs a good hero, the same book needs an even better villain.  Good heroes linger in the memory long after the story has finished, but what makes them memorable are the actions of the villain and I give and example of those encountered by one hero below.

James Bond is probably the best known thriller hero but what makes him so good is his confrontation with a really nasty villain and he comes up against some very unpleasant ones.  Most come across as deluded madmen who seek to dominate or destroy all that is good in the world.  But my favourite is one of the most unexpected, an evil woman called Rosa Klebb, who appears in the novel and later movie “From Russia With Love, and trys to kill Bond with a poisoned blade in the toe of her shoe.

I try to portray the villains in my books in the same vein.  In the novel “Magic Bullets”, a few characters appear to the hero as people who have harmed him or hindered his progress in some way but turn out to be “good guys”.  The real villain starts out as being entirely opposite but towards the end of the novel turns out to be entirely despicable.  In this way I hope the various twists in the story serve to keep the reader on his or her toes.

Keith Jahans

http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm


Book Excerpt – Victim of Compromise by Luke Johnson

November 27, 2018

The naked body of a young woman lay face down on the double bed like a discarded doll, a towelling cord wrapped tightly around her neck.

            “Dressing gown cord,” explained Donovan.  “The ‘otel supplies gowns for their guests.  The room’s been checked and photographed.  Mr Wallace said everything should be left as it was found till you arrived.  The doctor’s been and gone, and Forensic are waiting to move in when you’ve finished.”

            Ray had no idea why he had been summoned.  He had only received news of his promotion a month ago and was due to take up his new post in the Serious Crime Squad in two weeks.  The previous night he’d been out with the lads from the Flying Squad celebrating his promotion.  The evening had started well, then some bastard had put something in his drink.  Now his head was pounding and his tongue felt like an old dish-rag.  He had no track record of leading a murder inquiry.  However, investigating a suspicious death was part and parcel of police work, and he’d seen far too many corpses in his career – more than he cared to remember.  At least this one was relatively fresh and thankfully there was no blood.

            “When was she found?” he asked

            “About nine o’clock this morning, by the cleaning maid.”

            Ray looked at his watch.  It was one p.m.  He bent over the body, hoping he gave the impression he was an expert.  The girl was a brunette with short straight hair, cut in a bob, and may have once been pretty, but the blue and swollen face had changed all that.  He checked her fingers.  There was a silver ring containing a semi-precious stone on the right hand.  Her left hand showed no sign of jewellery, past or present.

            “Has her next of kin been informed?” he asked.

            “Yes, sir.”

            “Was she married?”

            “I don’t think she was.  We’re checking ‘er background – boyfriends etcetera.  The room was registered in the name of Mr and Mrs Roberts.  The receptionist says the register was signed by a man who was probably in ‘is forties.  She thinks she recognised him from somewhere but can’t think where.”

            Ray straightened up, glad that the examination was over and he had not felt sick.  He surveyed the scene.  A pile of clothing lay in an untidy heap on the floor.  His eyes registered a smart-looking black dress, black tights, black bra and pink panties.  He knew better than to touch anything.  They were in a double bedroom, expensively furnished with oak panelling, matching furniture and a marble en-suite bathroom.  In the bathroom, the towels were neatly folded and it looked unused.  The weather outside was hot, the hottest spring ever recorded, but both rooms were cold and he found himself shivering.

            Donovan noticed.  “I turned the air-conditioning up.  The doc suggested it – we didn’t know when you’d get ‘ere.”

            Ray nodded, relieved that it wasn’t the proximity of death that chilled the air.  He spoke quickly to maintain his air of professionalism. “Okay, tell me what you know.”

            Donovan opened his pocket book.  “The victim, as yet not formerly identified, is thought to be Mary Rayner, a twenty-two-year-old white female – up until the end of December, last year, she was a Detective Constable here at Wellstone.”

http://amazon.com/dp/B005HFLB4C


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