Readers – how do reviews influence you?

Similar to a post I ran a few years back – but have the results changed?  As a reader how influential are reviews to you? Do you read them all then decide? Do you just read the top few? The negative ones?

Feel free to comment at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Readers – How do you find your books?

As an author I am intrigued to know how readers tend to find most of their books? How do you know a particular book is out there? After all, you could spend the rest of your life scrolling through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, I-books or where ever and still not find all the books.

As a reader, I tend to find books via Facebook these days, or knowing the genre and hopping about on Amazon until I find something which takes my fancy (actually I do that FAR too much – which is why I have a humongous to-be-read list). Occasionally I’ll read recommended books, or see something in a bookshop (yes I still go to ‘real bookshops now and then).

I’ve been told Twitter is the best way. So is Facebook. Pinterest. Linked In. Tumblr. Reddit. Goodreads. Blogs. All of these. None of these.

Go for it and answer the poll. There are no wrong answers.

KDP and Publishing – a Noob’s Guide Part 3

It never ceases to amaze me how people (often quite intelligent people) don’t bother to read things beyond what they want to see. Where I work (won’t mention the name) I’m forever yelling things like RTFM (read the f*cking manual) as no one has bothered to read past the first line of the email telling them what is needed, and more importantly how and when. And public wise – honestly – read the bloody info!

KDP-wise – check out the forums BEFORE you ask that question that has been asked a thousand times before. I’ve said it before READ THE FAQ. PLEASE. Years ago when I ventured on the Lulu forums as a noob I got totally roasted as I asked noobie questions and certain folks there really were NOT helpful. Anyway general the KDP folks are but it becomes very tedious with newbies asking the same questions as the person 30 seconds before.

Also if you want advice – then don’t fly off the handle if you’re given it and don’t like what you’re told. There are hundreds of threads asking about why books don’t sell, why the reports are ‘lying’, why the big bad Zon are diddling hardworking authors out of their money and mostly it’s bollocks. There are a number of active forum members who are happy to offer advice, point people towards the relevant FAQ area and try and help, but bitching to them as they’ve told you your book needs more work, or you haven’t registered your bank account etc, and getting snarky is likely to piss people off and remove said advice in the future.

So why isn’t your book selling? There are millions of books available on Kindle, and thousands more are uploaded every day. Why should anyone look at, or even find your book, or mine for that matter?

Reasons:

Promoting and marketing are not Amazon’s job – it’s yours. And it’s hard work, it takes time, patience and a certain degree of luck. There are tons of threads asking for advice on how to go about this. What works for one person might not work for another so there is a lot of trial and error. Here are some of the tactics I use and have used but there are plenty of others:

Author interviews. Get yourself on blogs and spotlights. There are hundreds if not thousands of blogs that will offer interviews, features and spotlights either free or at low cost. (This one for a start).  Obviously, there is some effort in this – you have to search around to find suitable blogs – genre related is better but some people do offer to any genre. Ask the host what their following is – what you get – especially if you are expected to pay.

https://princessofthelight.wordpress.com/ – is a great promotional site. The hosters are friendly and although the author does have to pay, it’s worth the money. At roughly $11.50 a shot, it’s within the budget of newbies.

Get your own blog/website. Currently, we are working on a website to companion the blog and promote my books. It’s useful to have a website – especially if you have more than one book. You can pay, or try and make your own for low cost  Try WordPress.com, Wix.com or squarespace.com. I think a blog of some sort is a must. For a start it allows you to network – and this is really important. Generally, indie authors are a supportive lot and will reciprocate.  Also, a blog is a space for readers and followers to get to know you (ditto author interviews). It’s not just about the books.  Some people say it takes time away from writing – well yes and no. It does take time away from stories but you are still writing, and honing skills. It makes you think about what to write, who your audience is, what is interesting, what isn’t. Of course, many bloggers use their space to share research or topics that interest them. I’m big on research and I think this also gives the reader some confidence that the author knows what they are talking about.

Facebook: It’s worth getting an author/book page on Facebook.

Here’s mine https://www.facebook.com/LightBeyondtheStorm

Recently I took a foundation diploma in social media marketing and one of the modules dealt with Facebook and ads. I haven’t used a paid ad there yet (I may next year) but there are plenty of free groups that allow promotion. Some people say FB isn’t a good platform – I disagree. I’ve bought books directly from FB promotions and I’ve made good friends and good contacts from FB.

Twitter: I wasn’t a fan of Twitter and held off getting an account for some while. Does it help? Yes, I think so. It’s a good platform to get the word out.

Why else might the book not be selling?

It’s crap. Of course ‘crap’ is a relative term but generally, I mean it’s badly formatted, badly written and well, bad. We’ve probably all seen them: those books in which the English language and grammar are distinctly lacking and a plot is absent or scraped from the internet. Now every author thinks their book is great, but it’s worth making sure it’s well written, formatted properly and (preferably) edited.  Do you have a decent cover? A decent synopsis?

KDP don’t have a quality check – that’s your job as well, at least in part. Formatting guidelines can be found here: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A12NQC9HQPI9CA

I find formatting for Kindle a lot easier than the other formats but with a decent knowledge of MSword it’s not that tricky. If you don’t have a good grasp you may be better to hire a formatter. (That might be a service on offer from us next year) or search the interweb for sites.

It’s worth remembering it takes time to build a following. Very few indie authors release a book and it’s a best seller in a week. It can take years.

There’s a particular poster on the KDP forum who tells newbies to write what sells. If you’re like me you can’t simply sit down and say ‘ah romance is hot this week – I’ll write a romance novel’. Well, I can but no one would want to read it. Besides what is popular changes. Tastes change.

It annoys me – substandard ‘popular’ trash uploaded quickly with no care for the reader. There’s a reason indies have a bad rep. Grr.

What I’m rambling about is basically – it takes time, patience and works to sell books. The writing is easy (sort of). Do the best you can with the resources you can spare.

KDP Support Contact https://kdp.amazon.com/contact-us

Returning Author – Tori Zigler

I’d like to welcome back author Victoria Zigler, or Tori, if you prefer.

Please recap briefly about your books:

Most of my books are fantasy stories, fairy tales, animal stories, or some combination of those, but I’ve also written books in other genres too.  Regardless of genre though, my stories are aimed at children.  I happen to know that some adults have really enjoyed them too, however, and I’m not just talking about adults who are family members or friends either.

Not all my books are children’s stories.  I also write poetry, which is generally suitable for any age level, and has also been enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Plus, I have a fantasy story published in the “Wyrd Worlds II” anthology.

What has changed since you last visited? Tell us your news!

The last time I was interviewed on here, I was about to release the final book in my “Kero’s World” series, and had ”Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie” due for release the following month.  Since those titles came out, I’ve published another 14 titles.  Two are poetry books, four are the books for my “Zeena Dragon Fae” series, and the others are more stand alone stories.  My most recent releases are a poetry collection called “The Ocean’s Lullaby And Other Poems” which was released in early July, and my first ever science fiction story “Jeffrey The Orange Alien” which was released in late August.

Also, at the time my last interview went live, I was only doing my books as eBooks, but now I have them all available as paperbacks too.  The eBooks are still published via Smashwords, and distributed to all eBook retailers Smashwords distributes to (such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, etc) so are available in multiple formats to work across a variety of eReaders and other devices.  The paperbacks are published via CreateSpace, and distributed to all the retailers CreateSpace distributes to (such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc).

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?

Yes, I do.  For some reason, people got it in to their heads that self-published translated in to “not good enough to be published” – despite the fact that there are many reasons why a traditional publisher might not want to publish something, and most of those reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the work in question.  Unfortunately, the fact that some self-published authors put their work out in to the world before it’s really ready (in other words, before it’s been properly edited, proof read, etc) has led to some poor quality work being on the market, which has only served to encourage this view.  Opinions are starting to be swayed by some self-published authors who have managed to make it big, and show the world that a self-published book can be as good as a traditionally published one for quality, but I think it’s going to be a while before everyone is willing to accept this new viewpoint – if they ever do.

Do you read work by self-published authors?

Yes, I do.  I also accept books from them in exchange for posting a review.  Personally, I don’t care how an author has published their work.  If it sounds like a book I’ll enjoy, I’ll read it whether it’s self-published or traditionally published.  I use the same criteria for deciding if I want to read a book regardless of the publication method, and don’t give the method of publication a single thought when rating or reviewing a book.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?

Reviews are very important.  They’re useful for authors sometimes, because some contain helpful information on what an author could have done to improve the story, which can potentially help to improve the author’s next piece of writing.  However, reviews are mostly important for other potential readers, since they tell those readers that someone has read the book, and give some insight in to what they thought about it.

Authors can “like” a review, or thank a reviewer for a good review, if they really insist on interacting with reviews.  But that’s it.  An author should NEVER comment on negative reviews, especially not to disagree with the reviewer.  By all means read them, and privately take note of any constructive criticism contained in them, but don’t comment.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors?

I don’t see anything wrong with author’s reviewing work by other authors.  I’m an author, but I was a reader first, and the same is true for all authors, which means there’s no reason an author can’t assume the role of an average reader while enjoying the work of another author.  Plus, it’s a bit silly to exclude someone from being allowed to review a book just because they’ve written one of their own.  As long as an author leaves an honest review, and isn’t leaving a good review on the work of another author just in hopes of getting one in return, or leaving a bad review because they got a bad review from that author, there’s no problem.  I mean, there’s nothing wrong with author’s doing review swaps, as long as they’re done with the understanding that the review should be an honest one based on your opinion of the book in question, rather than one based on how good or bad the review the other author gave you was, if you know what I mean.

I quite often review books, and rate those I don’t review.  Whether I’ve just picked up a book randomly, or have been given a copy by the author or publisher (or both, in the case of most self-published books) in exchange for a review, I always try to be honest in my reviews and ratings, whether the author has reviewed my book(s) or not, and regardless of how good or bad any review the author left for me was.

Looking back what do you wish you’d known when you started writing?

Since I started writing as soon as I learned how to, I don’t think there’s anything.  Honestly, I don’t remember much from the time before I started writing for pleasure, since I learned to read and write early, and was quick to learn the pleasure of writing.  Plus, I think you learn more about writing by actually doing it, and never stop learning.

Although, if you mean before I started writing professionally – in other words, before I started publishing my books back in 2012 – the answer is different.  The thing I wish I’d known then was that an already established online presence would help my writing career, rather than hinder it.  I’m not really sure why I got it in to my head that continuing to blog would take too much time away from my writing.  After all, I’d been blogging regularly – usually at least once a day – for about six years when I published my first book, and had been doing plenty of writing in that time, even if I wasn’t mentioning most of it on my blog.  But I became convinced for some reason that if I wanted to make a career out of writing, I should stop blogging publicly.  I still kept my blog, and posted a few things on it with it set to “private” just for my own benefit, but I stopped allowing others to see my posts, and stopped visiting the blogs of my friends.  Huge mistake! Not only did it cost me several really good friends – friends who I miss, because they were a great group of people – but it also meant I lost several potential opportunities for sales, as well as potential people who might have helped me to spread the word about my books.  I only had my blog private for about a year, but that year was enough time for me to lose touch with most of the people who had been regular readers and commenters on my blog, most of whom still don’t appear to realize I’m blogging again, even though I’ve been doing so for around three years, and am doing so on my original blog, which I’ve now made public again.  I’m trying to reconnect with as many of the people as I can.  Not just for the potential networking opportunities, but also because I miss them.  Unfortunately, success on this front has been limited.  In short, the choice to stop blogging publicly was a bad one, which I regret, both from a personal and professional point of view, and if I’d known then what I know now, I never would have even considered stepping away from the blogging world.

Do you have any unpublished novels under the bed/in a folder anywhere which you thought were awesome at the time, but now will never see the light of day?

Nope.  I mean, I did have some stories that were… Well, let’s just say they needed a lot of work.  I also had several poems that needed a little work.  But I hated to see them go to waste, so I took the time to rewrite them, and later edited and published them.  All I have unpublished now – that I have copies of, anyway – are poems I’ve written since my last poetry collection was published (which will go in my next one) and the stories I’m in the process of writing.  There were probably others that I didn’t get to re-write, but no copies of them exist anymore, since they’ve been lost in moves and computer crashes, and I don’t think it counts if the only record of them is a vague memory I have of having written other stories and poems.

How have you progressed as a writer since you started?

Since, as I said when answering a previous question, I was really young when I started writing, I would hope I’ve progressed a lot.  I know my grammar skills have improved, I’ve learned more about sentence structure, I’ve learned about different poetry styles and tried a couple of them out, etc… All the stuff you learn as you progress with education.  Beyond that, I’ve learned not to assume that because I know something my reader will.  In my early stories, I often assumed I didn’t need to describe things because I knew what they were, but I now know descriptions are important, and not everyone will recognize even some everyday items I take for granted, since different places have different names for some of them, and others aren’t actually available in other countries.  Luckily, I learned about this before starting to publish, so have done my best to take this in to consideration in my re-writes, as well as in my newer stories.

What aspect of writing do you least enjoy? Why might this be?

When it comes to the actual writing process, there’s nothing I don’t enjoy.  I enjoy research too, since I enjoy learning about different things, and if it wasn’t a topic I was interested in I wouldn’t be writing about it, which would mean I wouldn’t be researching it.  The only part about being an author I don’t enjoy very much is the marketing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love connecting with my readers on social media and such, but I hate the part where I have to spend ages doing the posts that are essentially just different ways of saying “please buy my book.”  Unfortunately, since I want to be able to share my stories with the world, I have to do that part as well as the writing and research.  I try to focus more on finding interesting things to share and post about, as well as interacting with others in places where I might get sales, rather than actually posting “please buy my book” type messages, which makes the marketing stuff a bit more fun.  It’s probably more fun for potential readers that way too.  At least, I hope it is.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?

The last book I finished reading was a children’s story by a fellow self-published author.  The book’s title was “Oh Grandad!” and the author’s name was Stephanie Dagg.  It was, as I said in the short review I put up for it on Smashwords, an amusing and fun read.  Actually, all the stories I’ve read by Stephanie Dagg have been entertaining and enjoyable reads.

Do you have a favourite movie?

“Practical Magic” and “The Craft” are my favourite movies.  However, I’ve been a bit obsessed with the movie “Frozen” since I first saw it towards the end of last year, so I might have to add that one as a third favourite from now on.

What are your plans for the future? When will we see your next book?  Tell us about it.

I’ve got my first ever historical fiction story due out in October, which is a story based on the Battle Of Hastings.  I’ve already written several new poems towards my next poetry collection, so I’ll hopefully have a new poetry collection out next year too.  I’m also working on a couple of other stories, one of which is a Christmas story involving a giant, the others I can’t tell you more about just yet, because I don’t know much myself; I’m a pantser, and I’ve not long started working on them, so right now I don’t know exactly where they’re going, nor even exactly which genre they’ll all be in as it stands at the moment.  Like I said, I rarely know much at this stage myself.  One time, for example, I had a story I thought was going to be a mystery, only for it to turn out to be a fantasy.  Anyway, I’m not yet certain what the future holds beyond that.

If you had to pick five books to have on an island which five would you pick?

I’d rather not be limited on my choice of books, but if I had to pick, I’d want “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgeson Burnett, “Matilda” by Roald Dahl, “Strings” by David Estes, “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and something that will be useful for telling me how to survive while waiting to be rescued.  Either those five books, or just that last one, plus my Kindle and some kind of solar powered charger, that way I could have the time to read all the books waiting on it for me to read them.

How do you think fantasy is portrayed in the media?

Though it’s not always the case, for the most part, from what I’ve read and watched, fantasy is generally portrayed as being a mostly male dominated genre, with vicious dragons and weak women making regular appearances, while mighty men rush in to save the day.  I want to see more vegetarian dragons and strong female characters, maybe with some men needing to be the ones rescued for a change.  Not just in children’s books and movies, but in general.

 

Links etc.

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk

Magic in the Middle Ages – Course Review

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#Coursera #Fantasy #Medieval

https://www.coursera.org/learn/magic-middle-ages/

3.5 stars out of 5.

I’d been looking at this particular Coursera Course for a while, as it looked pretty interesting and good research for the books.

Here’s the summary from the Cousera website About this course: Magical thought has always attracted human imagination. In this course we will introduce you to the Middle Ages through a wide conception of magic. Students will have an approach to medieval culture, beliefs and practices from the perspective of History and History of Science. Popular magic, as well as learned magic (alchemy, geomancy and necromancy) will be addressed. Moreover, we will also deal with how eastern practices and texts influenced western culture. In July 2016, the course will contain a brand-new module devoted to astrology. Magic in the Middle Ages offers a captivating overview of medieval society and promotes reflection about certain stereotypes associated with this period.’

So did it fulfil this? Yes and no.

Let’s start with the ‘yes’. There was a lot of information to be learned in only 5 weeks – personally I would have liked another week or so. That said I was actually doing another, totally unrelated course at the same time and probably didn’t do this justice. The lectures were taught via video (and I’ll cover that later), with transcripts available, plus some selected reading, tests and two short assignments.

Each week covered a slightly different topic:

Unit 1 – Introduction to Medieval Magic

Unit 2 – Magic and Heresy

Unit 3 – From Magic to Witchcraft

Unit 4 – Magic in Islam

Unit 5 – Astrology and Geomancy

Of these the first three were the most interesting, although it was also interesting to see how Islam viewed magic – as opposed to the far more negative view of the Western Christian views. This particular module was probably the trickiest (not least because of the more unfamiliar names and terms) and I think more time could have been spent comparing the different cultural and religious outlooks, had the course been longer.

Magic permeated the Middle Ages, be it ‘healing’ magic, natural magic, or the more sinister type. In many ways it ran alongside religion, although it goes without saying that the religions of the day weren’t happy about it.  To us, in the modern world, much of it seems really odd, and for many secular societies or individual the whole concept of magic and religion is very outdated. Yet it was important to those who dwelt in a world not ordered by science and technology, where seasonal changes, illness, and belief could literally be a matter of life and death.  Magic was a way of trying to control what was often uncontrollable, to even the odds in a dangerous world. Religion and magic shared many aspects and Christianity itself (and Islam) hold many magical elements – including miracles, foresight and much more.

The topics were certainly engaging and thought provoking – especially the fact that many suffered imprisonment, torture and death for ‘heresy’ simply because of malice, ignorance or wishing to maintain older beliefs.  If the ‘magic’ wasn’t of the right sort, then people suffered. It was interesting to see the differing types of magic, and practitioners – from the wealthy intellectual court astronomers and magicians to the simple ‘cunning folk’. This builds on past study, at least for me. I’d agree it’s a good foundation for further research.

Was it useful  for writing fantasy? Yes, I think so as it gave a broad outline of medieval magical ideas to build on, and the prejudice surrounding them.

So the ‘no’.

The sound quality was bloody awful. The mix of tutors were all heavily accented and the recordings were of poor quality, with echoes, background noises, random volume changes and at one point a random question about King Arthur popped up on screen and froze the vid until it was answered. I found it far easier to just read the transcripts, but even then they were a little choppy.

As you’ve probably guessed I feel that the course should have been a bit longer – everything was a bit rushed. To be fair I didn’t utilise the discussion forum much.

The second assignment was a bit confusing – the grading questions were different to the points asked for discussion.

Overall a 3.5 for this – mostly because of the awful technical issues. Clean up the sound quality and this would be an engaging course.

 

Monsters and Myth – part 1 – Cyclopes

Fantastical creatures have featured in mythology and storytelling since people first sat around the fire and told of great beasts and wicked monsters. They are at the core of our cultures, from great dragons, to hydra, to sea monsters, mermaids, fairies and pretty much everything you can think of and some you wish you hadn’t.  Many  were humanoid, some carrying more arms, legs or eyes and some less. Some weren’t – lizards,  half birds, half lions, creatures which look they they are made up of left over bits of other animals. The unnatural zoology was vast.

Of course many still feature in modern fantasy – dragons, fairies/feyfolk, unicorns, shapechangers and more.  Paranormal fiction is extremely popular – with the vampires/werecreatures etc as the heroes. But what of the lesser known creatures? The nightmare of our ancestors?

The ancient Greek heroes fought and slayed everything from Medusa, the snake-haired woman whose gaze was petrifying, to one eyed Cyclopes – the offspring of mighty Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, (Homeric tradition) or second generation gods – the spawn of Gaea and Uranus (Hesiod). They were giants, builders and liked to snack on mortals (and demi-gods) who strayed into their path. Some were famed for working for the lame god Hephaestus, and some such as Polyphemus were shepherds. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus).  Today I am going to focus on these creatures.

The Greek deities were a paranoid lot (with good reason for the most part) and the Cyclopes were imprisoned by Uranus who was afraid of their power. To be released again by the Titans and Chronos in order to defeat Uranus they were later imprisoned again as their power increased, only to be released by Zeus so they could help him overthrow the Titans. (Yes intrigue and double crossing was the staple diet of the Greek immortals.)

One eye had been traded in order that they may see into the future – but as such bargains often turn out – the small print was overlooked and all they could foresee was the day of their death.

Odysseus blinded and tricked Polyphemus, who had it must be admitted eaten several of the trickster’s friends – who in turn were trying to steal some of the giant’s provisions and had found their way into the cyclop’s den.

Getting the cyclops tipsy Odysseus thrust a burning, sharpened stake into the monster’s eye – then cried out his name was ‘No one’ or ‘Nobody’ (depending on the translation) so when the cyclops staggered outside crying ‘Nobody’ blinded him the other giants thought him mad.

Of course Odysseus being Odysseus couldn’t resist letting Polyphemus know who it really was once he was safely back at sea. Telling him it was ‘Odysseus, son of Laertes of Ithica who has blinded you’. This was not among Odysseus smarter plans as this particular cyclops was the son of Poseidon who was rather annoyed and send the great hero’s boat in a rather roundabout way home…

The story reappears in later myths – Virgil tells the story from the perspective of a seaman of Odysseus’ crew left behind (Aeneid) and Aeneas and his crew see the blinded giant and his companions and beat a hasty retreat.

Later mythological writers, including Ovid, speak of the love affair between Polyphemus and the sea-nymph Galataea – with a greater or lesser tragic ending (she loved another).  And Wilhem Grimm collected tales and retelling of one-eyed giants from Serbia, German, Finnish, Romanian and Russian mythology.

In the Renaissance composers brought the tales to opera. Giovanni Bononcini, Jean-Baptiste LullyJoseph Haydn  and George Frideric Handel composed works around the story of Polyphemus, Galataea and Acis, her lover (whom Polyphemus kills). Artists and sculptors too have used the cyclops and his tale as a basis for their work. Interestingly too the Scottish Rite Freemasons have Polyphemus as a symbol for civilisation that harms itself using ill-directed blind force.

Origins – Othenio Abel in 1914 argues the origins maybe from prehistorical dwarf elephant skulls – with a big central hole for the trunk, which of course would be gone by the time the fossil was found.

Cyclopia – is an uncommon but real condition is a ‘rare form of holoprosencephaly and is a congenital disorder (birth defect) characterized by the failure of the embryonic prosencephalon to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

Often the nose is missing or is non-functioning and appears ABOVE the single eye-socket. The foetuses usually abort or are still-born, however some living cyclopic animals have been recorded, although they rarely survive for long. Causes can include toxins such as cornlily or false hellebore Veratrum californicum – which resembles Hellebore, which is given as a natural remedy for vomiting, cramps and poor circulation. White Hellebore, which was cited by Hippocrates, also contains teratogens  which can cause the deformity. Genetics too can cause the condition – the Sonic the Hedgehog gene regulator (yes really) can suppress a particular protein needed in eye development in early embryos and cause the mutation.

So misunderstood fossils or deformities could have created a myth, which in turn became the story of one-eyed giants.

Sources:

http://www.theoi.com/Gigante/GigantePolyphemos.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Cyclopes/cyclopes.html

http://www.greek-gods.info/greek-heroes/odysseus/myths/odysseus-polyphemus/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus)

Mutants: On the form, varieties and errors of the human body. (c) Armand Marie Leroi 2003

The Odyssey of Homer (various translations)

 

 

The Importance of Research – Lorna Collins – Guest Post

Welcome back to Lorna Collins who discusses the importance of research, and how she goes about it.

*Name: Lorna Collins

Does a writer always have to do research?

Yes. Regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or historical or science fiction, it is absolutely necessary to do your homework.

How do you define research?

Research may involve fact checking, authentication, or delving into a time period. If you write about real locations, you must know everything about them. Even if you create a fictitious location, as we did with Aspen Grove, Colorado for our romance anthologies, we had to know what the area around the mountains of Colorado looked like. Our little town was also a silver mining town, so we had to research what those were like.

Yes, but if you’re writing fantasy or sci-fi and creating your own world, no research should be necessary, right?

No. Even if you create your own world, all physical attributes must be explained rationally and consistently. Know what others in the field have written, and ‘piggy-back’ onto their ideas. My husband, Larry, writes sci-fi, and it is all based on current scientific research and innovation.

What are you working on at present/Just finished?

We are currently writing the sequel to The Memory Keeper to be called Becoming the Jewel. We left the first book at the end of the 1800s when Mission San Juan Capistrano was in ruins. In this next book, we’ll tell the story of how it became the “Jewel of the Missions.”

We are also writing the third in our mystery series, Murder with Honor.

I am working on another ghost story called, Sophia’s Garden. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

*Tell us about your process for research.

In the Digital Age, there is no excuse for failing to do adequate research. Some of the resources I use include:

  • Online Research. Wikipedia is a good place to start, but I don’t finish there. I take each element of the story and search on it until I have a complete grasp of the subject matter. Google maps and Google itself are great places to start.
  • Go to the Source. When we were in Colorado in 2012, I visited both Idaho Springs and Georgetown, the two cities we used as the inspiration for Aspen Grove. We went to the Chamber of Commerce and bought locally written books about the history of the towns. We learned a great deal of new material we subsequently used in our books. In addition, we visited the gold mine in Idaho Springs. We asked how the silver mining process would have differed from the one for gold. We were told they were essentially the same. By the time we left, we had a much better feeling for our town and its roots.

    We also write our contemporary cozy mysteries in Hawaii. Before we start a new one, we take a trip. (I know it’s rough, but we have to do it. On one trip, we discovered a restaurant we described in our book had moved. We were able to change the location before the book went to press.

  • Ask an Expert. I learned from a dear friend and fellow mystery writer that everyone will talk to you if you say, “I’m a writer, and I’m trying to get the facts right.” If you have a question about a police procedure, ask your local police, If you have a medical question, ask a doctor.

    When we wrote our historical, we enlisted the local Indian storyteller, the official town historian, the historical society, and a number of long-time residents. They provided extremely valuable details we couldn’t have found otherwise.

  • Librarians are still great resources for research. They are there to help you, and they generally enjoy the research. Ask for help.
  • Your Friends. Let them know what you are writing about and what you are trying to find out. I have been amazed at how simple mention to friends has resulted in tremendous resources I never would have found on my own.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? 

I’ve always loved learning, so the research process is an opportunity to learn new things. We spent two-and-a-half years researching The Memory Keeper. Because the history of San Juan Capistrano is so well-known and venerated locally, we had to be certain we only included verified incidents. In a number of cases, we obtained several sources before including a fact. The book is now sold in the store at Mission San Juan Capistrano and at a gallery in the Los Rios historical district. The local families and experts have all embraced the book.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.

For years, I never told anyone I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year award as a senior in high school. I was an academic, after all. I won several college scholarships. The award seemed trivial at the time. However, I more recent years, I have become proud of the achievement. I still have the pin mounted in a shadowbox, along with other memorabilia. Whenever I see it, it makes me smile.

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

My husband, Larry K. Collins, and I write both together and alone. After fifty years of marriage, we figured out how to do it.

We were both members of the team that helped to build theUniversal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka. Our memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and chosen one of Rebeccas Reads best nonfiction books.

We have also co-written two cozy mysteries set in Hawaii: Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise, the latter a finalist for the EPIC eBook Award for mystery. We are currently working on more in the series. The Memory Keeper, is our historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano.

I co-authored six sweet romance anthologies set in the fictional town of Aspen Grove, CO: Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, An Aspen Grove Christmas, The Art of Love, …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe, and Directions of Love, 2011 EPIC eBook Award winner.

My fantasy/mystery/romance, Ghost Writer, launched Oak Tree Press’s Mystic Oaks imprint. It combines elements of fantasy, romance, and mystery. It’s a beach read with a dog, and a ghost.

In addition, I am a professional editor.

Where can we learn more about you?

You can find out more about me at our website: http://www.lornalarry.com

Follow my blog at: http://lornacollins-author.blogspot.com/

Social Media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorna.l.collins

Twitter: @LornaCollins

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lkcollins75/

LinkedIn: Lorna Collins http://tinyurl.com/nunt9no