Friday, 21 October 2016


Watch this space for details of a new website.

Once notified, you will be able to follow, if you wish.

The website will concentrate upon:

  • Helping readers find interesting and entertaining books.
  • Providing authors with tips on writing, publishing and marketing.
It should not be very long before the website is up and running.

Monday, 3 October 2016

No Posts - Part October 2016

Monday 3 October 2016

I apologise in advance that for the next two or three weeks there will not be any new posts.

There are a number of matters requiring my attention. I have concluded I need to apply the majority of my attention and time to them for now otherwise nothing will be properly and fully completed.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Do Memoirs Have to Be Factual?

An odd question? Perhaps.

Before continuing, just a quick word regarding modern day definitions. I have noted people now frequently use the term ‘memoir’ to include autobiography and biography as well as memoir. The difference? Autobiography is where the author is telling their own life story. Biography where someone recounts the life story of another person. Memoir is, as a rule, where the author records a series of events they have experienced (e.g. selected occurrences rather than a life history). Personally, I still favour the use of all three definitive terms but readily acknowledge, and accept, others may prefer to simply refer to all of them as memoirs.

Back to the question posed. If you are going to refer to your book as a ‘Memoir’ then there is no question the answer is a resounding YES. It would be misleading and unfair to readers if everything shared in the book were not true. The fact they have selected the book is indicative of their desire to read about true life events rather than fiction.

Is there an alternative to writing a factual memoir? Yes, such books are, these days at least, usually referred to as ‘Biographical Fiction’. There can be no mistaking the intent. A reader selecting this genre will be looking for an entertaining read that has elements of truth or is partly based upon truth. The term itself should avoid any misunderstanding as to a book’s content.

‘Biographical Fiction’, autobiography and memoir are included by default, is not a new concept. In the past such books tended to be simply described as ‘Fiction’. Charles Dickens’s book ‘David Copperfield’ is well known for the fact that he based parts upon his family experiences. For example, the character of Mr Micawber is based upon his own father. And, of course, we cannot miss the similarities between David Copperfield’s and Dickens’s struggles to eventually become successful authors. This is certainly only one of many examples that may be found in past ‘classical’ writing. Many established authors very evidently drew upon their own experiences and observations for the creation of characters and situations in their stories.

Why do some authors opt for biographical fiction rather than autobiography, biography or memoir? Do they consider the truth would be insufficiently interesting or entertaining for a reader? Do they feel their life story needs enhancing? Do they wish to conceal some facts? It could be for a variety of different reasons; I am sure you could come up with many more. Why did I opt for this format in one of my books? Up to that point I had primarily written autobiographically with some biographical content. However, when it came to my maternal grandparent’s dramatic experiences I considered it would make a far more engaging read if these events were interspersed, or enhanced, with some fictional drama. Nonetheless, I believed it important these should draw, and guide, the story into the realities and truth of what actually occurred. There were primarily two reasons for my decision. First, though the events would in themselves make for an interesting read, to simply record them alone would have resulted in a rather short book. Not a fault in itself but I felt the story deserved to benefit from being encompassed in a full length novel. Second, I do not have all the factual details and had to surmise some of the occurrences from snippets of conversation and the few accounts presented to me. I therefore felt the need to use my imagination, not in total wild abandon but partly based upon what I knew of the participants. My book ‘Peter’ is the result. I estimate approximately one third is factual with the remainder being guessed at or totally fictional in order to bring the events to a conclusion. By the way, the end result is factual.

So how do you go about developing a biographical fiction book? I must point out I am not a trained professional. The suggestions that follow are purely based upon my own writing and reading experience.

Obviously, first decide upon which events or lives, if you plan to write a full epic, you wish to base your story. I suggest before launching into it, you carefully consider which format will best support what you want to share. It is easy to get carried away with the idea of writing a bestselling novel when in truth a memoir would suit the matter better. Once you have selected the event(s) you will need to determine exactly what you want included and, perhaps more importantly, what you do not want to include. Subsequently the usual story format should be considered e.g. beginning-middle-end. If possible, I suggest you open, and end, with something based upon fact. After all, our experiences, if worth sharing, do have a start and end which, in themselves, we consider merit the telling. Of course you may enhance these with some fictional content but it would help if the essence is based upon truth.

Once the beginning and end have been defined you will have to turn your thoughts to the middle, often the bulk of a book. Though much of this will undoubtedly be fictional I suggest it would, again, be best if some of it is based upon fact. Having suggested all this, it may be the story you are telling has sufficient truth to carry it through the whole length of the book and that you are simply choosing to add some fictional detail to make it an easier, or more entertaining, read.

One word of advice: when adding purely fictional elements ensure you carry out all necessary research. Make sure of your facts. Imagination is fine and yes you can let your mind fly where it wants but you also need your book to have the sense and feel of authenticity. For example, in my book I needed to refer to various medical conditions. I could have simply run off and written my ideas of how I thought, or assumed, these conditions effect people. That, as I discovered, would have been a very big mistake. I sought information from medical books and on the internet and am very glad I did. It turned out some have symptoms I could never have guessed at. I also had to research other topics, such as secret societies, the occult etc. It really was all very interesting and I did have to fight the temptation to immerse myself in research and consequently fail to get the book completed. End result? Hopefully an interesting, informative, entertaining read.

Just to harp back to Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. I enjoyed reading it and wonder if part of that had not been due to the fact I had known part of the story is based upon truth. Of course the same may apply to many other books but I am not here to discuss English Literature.

I hope you have found my thoughts and ramblings of interest and help. Writing is a privilege as well as a joy and sharing stories, true and fictional, is exciting. Please write in whatever style suits you best but bear in mind the reader’s experience and do your utmost to make this the best possible. Never know you may end up with a committed readership and fan base. I wish you every success.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Author Website - What should it contain?

General and widespread advice to author’s is to have a website even if you do not wish to blog. Whether you should have a blog or not is a different topic and one I do not intend to deal with in this post.

So, if you accept the advice and decide to set up a website, what should your author website comprise? Please note, as an author, I am writing from that perspective nevertheless, I suggest many of the aspects referred to here would apply equally to any other kind of website.

There is a considerable amount of detailed advice about but, for this post, I intend to primarily deal with the top-level aspects otherwise it will become endless. One thing to note: it is consistently suggested the home (front) page of a website should be static e.g. not change on a regular basis. The idea is for it to contain sufficient upfront information for a reader to quickly gain some understanding of who you are and what you do. After that there are ‘pages’ which contain a variety of additional information and details. As already stated, in this post I intend to deal with the general aspects rather than go into excessive detail. So here goes.

Author Biography - Many readers like to know something about the author as a person. Share a little about your background; where you come from; who your ancestors were/are; how you came to wright; your interests and hobbies; etc. How much you share is up to you; you may consider it desirable, for a variety of reasons, not to share all details. For example, for the protection of others, whether they deserve it or not, I retain anonymity (bear in mind a lot of my writing is autobiographical/biographical). You may also wish to steer away from topics which can be controversial or tend to polarise people e.g. politics; religion; ethnicity, etc.

Book Page(s) - Some recommend a ‘Landing Page’ for each and every book. I have to say, unless you really are a bestselling, well known author, I consider this to be a little over the top. For most of us, a single ‘Books’ page should be sufficient. This would contain the cover image for each of your books; a synopsis of each; extracts from any reviews; links to purchase sites or a ‘buy’ button if you intend to sale direct from your site.

Contact Details - An e-mail address reader’s may use or, if you have a more versatile site, a contact form. Remember this information will be publicly viewable so ensure any e-mail address you give will not compromise any you use for personal or other business purposes e.g. banking, legal dealings etc.

Call to Action - What is meant by this? In the majority of cases this is related to the utilization of an e-mail capture system. This enables readers to sign up for receipt of an e-mail each time you have something to share. Be sure to only use these for the communication of valuable, relevant information otherwise you may be accused of spamming. Please note this is different to the ‘follow’ option most website hosts provide. Having an e-mail capture facility means you WILL e-mail the individuals who have signed up as advertised e.g. you may have stated it to be a weekly, monthly or an ‘as and when’ e-mail.

Social Media Buttons - Buttons enabling readers to follow you on Facebook and Twitter, if you have them. It is strongly recommended by most you do. Of course you should also include buttons for other social media you may utilize e.g. Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest; Instagram; Google Plus; the list can go on though you should try and avoid the temptation to spread your resources to wide. It all takes time of which no doubt you already have little enough of.

Interviews and Articles - If you have been fortunate enough to have been interviewed or have written or contributed to articles, provide links so your readers may enjoy them. These would also, probably, provide them with a greater insight into who you are. For some the more they know about you the better.

Calendar - Publication dates, if you are someone who sets these prior to actual publication. Dates and details of any public engagements. You may even wish to include dates for up and coming pre-planned posts. Of course, if you are not someone who pre-plans it would be best to omit having a calendar: it would not look professional to have one without any events in it.

Blog Page - I have already said I do not intend to discuss the topic of blogs in this post however, for many of us, blogging has been and is our primary channel for publicising our work. Of course you do not have to blog but if you decide it is for you then it makes sense to combine your blogsite with your website. Doing so will provide your readers, followers, fans with one comprehensive site rather than them having to remember or follow multiple ones, which, in these, for most, time constrained days, can be tedious. In fact, they may tire of it and cease following all or some of them.

Media Page - This sounds rather grand for most of us nevertheless, the idea may have merit for some. Again, I think this really more something for those who have been fortunate enough to be identified as a bestselling author. As the title implies, this page is intended to contain information the media may use. Among other things to include, if you do decide to have such a page, should be good quality images of your profile and book covers. It is highly recommended your profile photograph be ‘professional’ e.g. not a general, homely, family one. Other things recommended for this page: author bio (again) but preferably not too long, 150-300 words or less recommended; book descriptions and buy links; reviews; contact info (again); book trailer, if you have one e.g. iTunes; how your book(s) relate(s) to current issues; extracts/sample chapter(s). I could go on and on. As said, I doubt this page, at least in the full state suggested, is really appropriate for most of us. If I think it will be of interest to my readers, I may try and expand upon ‘media pages’ in a future post.


Without question I agree with all the advice recommending an author have a website. To date I have relied upon blogs for the purpose of communicating with readers and contacts but now appreciate I could do with something that will, hopefully, be more professional. Besides wanting to communicate with them I really do want my readers to have an enjoyable and informative experience.

Naturally, when first setting up your website, it is not necessary to include everything at once. You have the facility to update and enhance your site over time. But I suggest you do include author biography and book(s) details as soon as you are able.

I must make clear many of the comments and observations above are my own. Yes, naturally, I have taken on board a lot of the advice given in various places nonetheless, I have made a point of including my own observations. I hope you have found this post of interest and assistance.