Book Review-Life is Local by Des McAnulty

It’s not often I finish one book from an author and delve straight into another ( the last time I did so was with Jonathan Mayberry’s wonderful Rot & Ruin books)’ but as I enjoyed Des’s Novella “STRAIGHT” so much, don’t mind risking being labelled a fanboy when the writing is this good, and had time on my hands I went in with hungry eyes (not the Patrck Swayze sort). .
Now I’m not suggesting that McAnulty is anywhere near as accomplished as Mayberry, but in formulating flawed, weak very human characters whom he allows to grow, fail and shine throughout the book, Des shares some of Mayberry’s skill.
Presenting us with complex (in other words true to life) characters whom we like, dislike, love, hate and pity; Des skillfully peels away at his characters, exposing unsuspected depths in each one. He gives each characters motives without judgement, merely explanation and leaves it to the reader to decide on the characters’ worth.
Stubbsy is a fine example. Part Begbie, part Juice Terry, part Sam from Quantum Leap and the most complex character in the book. It’s ultimate hero for me, and I’m hoping for some early tales of the big man in future.

Des writes in the Scottish tongue (first person), in the style of Welsh I suppose, but switched between a very Scottish narrative and a more toned down version as suits the characters’ mental state at the time of the narrative. I’ve never been a fan of this in books and much prefer when writers keep the accented or colloquial phrases to the dialogue rather than narrative, but it never did Irvine any harm and it doesn’t detract from Des’s excellent story either. Merely a personal preference on my part. I think that Des is still experimenting with his preferred narrative and look forward to seeing how his work evolves in the next book.
Des’s book is reflective of the culture it is set in (North Lanarkshire) in that it’s rough, coarse In places, unpolished, unpretentious and beautiful in its heart and soul. It seems that Des loves and loathes his native county and presents it’s ugliness and beauty in equally engaging doses.
I loved this book. A little polishing of its charming rough edges from an editor would quickly make a very good book into a potentially great book.
I’d recommend this book to anyone with a heart and a soul, this fine story will enrich both further.

Book Review- S.T.R.A.I.G.H.T by Des McAnulty

Des McAnulty has produced  a rare treat with his Novella “Straight”. Scottish authors tend to fall into some pretty distinct categories. Either Irvine Welsh wannabe types or pseudo Brookmyre-ists with none of the wit, or talent of either. Not so in Des’s case.

Des manages to blend some entertaining and genuinely keen observational humour, in the mould  of an early Billy Connelly sketch (full of inventive and insightful knowledge and love of his local people), with some relevant, modern and touching social issues. That he pulls this off without descending into rant or preach mode is to his credit and wouldn’t have happened at the hands of a lesser writer. This skill with “I’ll laugh even though I shouldn’t humour” and too-honest description and understanding of people’s behaviour and motives  from a rookie writer can be seen in the books of John Niven, perhaps my all-time favourite Scottish writer.Des takes human weakness, pride, love, joy, failure and triumph and creates an alternative world that is at once darkly humorous, exciting, frightening, to be pitied and envied and is also utterly believable.

His characters are well defined and allowed to develop, but unhindered by a plodding back-story which  can be too frequently employed by other writers to fill pages with superfluous information.

Rather than spinning and stretching his tale Des has told exactly the story he wanted to with the entertaining concept of reversal of the “norms” of sexuality and not a page to spare. This is a perfect story to have as a novella and a clever decision on McAnulty’s part.
 Where other writers would have been tempted to force too many pages and produce a novel, Des has chosen instead to keep the story pacey, entertaining, and contemporary; page count be damned.
If I had to pick holes (and I am being picky) the book could do with spruce up in formatting (but that’s true of many Indie-published novels my own included before I learned how) and some editing assistance but this takes nothing away from a very funny, clever and engaging story from an author who I’m sure has much more to come.
I would certainly read more of Des’s work (already downloaded his full-length novel) and would recommend Straight to others.

Amazon: Field leveller or overlord?

Amazon kindle select has been a useful tool for me in my first few months in the indie-publishing world. But has now run it’s course in being helpful and turned the corner to become a hindrance.

For those who don’t know what select is, essentially it’s a 90 day programme that authors sign their books up for. We make our ebooks exclusive to Amazon and their lending service for Premium Amazon members. This means we cannot sell our ebook through any other outlet, including on our own websites.

In return we get 5 days of 90 in which we can offer the book as a free promo. This is really useful for getting the book linked to other books in the genre, getting on sales charts, and therefore more visibility, and getting readers who will hopefully review the book or try another title from the same author.

The usefulness of this free promo has recently been hobbled somewhat but as I don’t do algorithms and stuff you can find out how so elsewhere.

I’ve found the select programme useful up until now but things have happened that are making me remove my books from the programme.

I want to distribute my novel Bobby’s Boy elsewhere. Smashwords, apple, Barnes & noble etc. amazon will not let me do this while in select. I could live with that in the short-term, say 12 months or so, but Amazon have shifted the goalposts twice over in recent weeks.

Firstly they’ve prohibited soliciting readers for any author. Yep, we’re not allowed any promo anywhere on Amazon for our books or we get told to remove it or they’ll remove us. The books that make Amazon themselves money? Not helpful.

Secondly I get email after email from the masters telling me to make sure the content in my book belongs to me or they’ll pull it from sale. Essentially, because I promo excerpts from my books on my own blogsite and others (remember I can’t promo on Amazon) their net scanners/snoopers email me accusing me of putting stuff from the net in my book. “no it’s the other way round you clods”. Still I have to notify them of every site I post excerpts on to prove the book’s authenticity.

Whilst I greatly appreciate the forum and outlet that amazon gives authors I hate being monitored in this way.

Thirdly, reviews from professional reviewing websites are now being prohibited on Amazon. Friends and family in unlimited numbers can post as many reviews as they like, but genuinely impartial reviewers are being blocked as they are “professionals”.

Lastly: I recently secured a deal to distribute my novel in every library in North Lanarkshire (and the possibility of uk-wide distribution). A deal like this is huge for an indie-author but contravenes the Kindle Select agreement even though the books will be distributed for free by the libraries.

I want as many people as possible to read my books and a free outlet by the libraries is ideal.

So bye kindle select.