Tag Archives: dougie

How to bring your novel to life.

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boysOK, I own up. The title to this blog is slightly misleading because if you were expecting a writing lesson, you are going to be disappointed. In fact, to be perfectly honest anyone seeking a writing lesson from me is going to be disappointed because as I’ve written many times, I don’t actually know how I’m getting away with it so I am hardly qualified to advise anyone else!

No, the title to this blog refers to them actually taking on a three dimensional form in the actor sense. Because after what seems many years of what feels like post-Green Street herculean effort, it appears that one of my projects is finally making the leap from ‘almost there’ to ‘off and running’ with the announcement that Universal Pictures UK have signed as the distributors of my adaptation of Top Dog. Full details of that can be found here.

So, how did this happen? Well the truth is, like many of the events which form what can laughingly be called ‘my career’ it was down to moaning. And to a lesser extent, Twitter.

I won’t ramble on too much, but the short version is this. One day, as I was trawling Twitter in an effort to avoid actually writing, the name Leo Gregory popped up. Now Leo, as many of you will know, is the actor who played Bovver in Green Street and gave, quite simply, the stand out performance in the movie. He’s also a top bloke and so I dropped him a note and asked if he fancied taking a look at a project I thought he’d be perfect for.

Luckily, he agreed, loved it and so at the back end of last year, we met and chatted. Inevitably, talk turned to Green Street, the many imitators it spawned and the fact that in both our opinions, no movie thus far has actually failed to pull off the whole ‘hooligan’ ‘lads’ thing convincingly. This moaning led into discussions about my novels The Crew and Top Dog which in turn led to a meeting with the legendary producer that is Jonathan Sothcott  (which is a tale in itself). The rest as they say, is history.

Now, the point of all this is that like all writers, when I set out to create something, be it a book or a screenplay, it gets to a point where it takes on a life of its own. Up to now, I had always believed that there was only so much I could do after that point had been reached but this is clearly not the case at all.

Because as I have recently discovered, the key to success is moaning. And thankfully, it’s something that I’m not only exceedingly good at but which I also enjoy with a passion.

Happy days!

 

Why I love my readers (and why their reviews are so important!)

I love my readers.
I love my readers! Come on, give us a cuddle!

Over the last couple of years you might have noticed that the world of the ebook has changed publishing out of all recognition. This is particularly true for mid-list authors such as myself.

No longer under the control of editors or publishers we are now free to go it alone to write what we like and publish it when we like. Trust me, for all kinds of reasons that freedom is liberating!

For the reader, it has been equally revolutionary. Who would have thought five years ago that not only would there be a genuine alternative to good old paper but that there would be books available to download for free at the touch of a button!

But the rise of the ebook has added a new and very important element to the reading process and it is one which not everyone seems to have grasped. It is the power to review. Be it on amazon, iTunes, Goodreads or any of the numerous reader websites, if you enjoy or even dislike a book you are now able to tell the world.

That my friends, is power, real power. And I will tell you why.

As a professional writer of ebooks, whenever I release something new onto the market the promotion of that book falls not to the publisher as it used to, but to me as the author. As a consequence the normal routine is to bombard media outlets, social media, related websites and blogs in the hope that someone will help by providing some publicity.

This, as you can imagine, is an extremely important part of the publishing process because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good a book might be if no one knows about it no one will buy it! But this work can consume an extraordinary amount of time and whilst it can be fabulous fun, it can also prove to be both frustrating and soul destroying.

However, after a certain amount of time you have to get back to the actual process of writing which means that you have to let your latest stand on its merits and fend for itself. It’s at this point that all authors hope that their readers will kick in and take up the task of spreading the word on their behalf. Fundamental to that is the review.

From the readers perspective a review can have many functions but for the majority of authors reviews are promotional tools and in that sense they are almost unrivalled which is why we all ask, plead and even beg readers to post them. It isn’t that we want you to boost our self-esteem (nice though that is!) it’s because the simple truth of the matter is that nothing sells books like word of mouth and these days, that primarily means what readers have to say on the online outlets.

Of course there are people who would never review a book for all kinds of reasons. The usual three being ‘I wouldn’t know what to write’,’ I’d be embarrassed’ or ‘I can’t be arsed.’ But by thinking in this way they are actually missing out on what to me is one of the most exciting elements of the ebook revolution and that’s the potential for the reader to become directly involved in the publishing process.

Because when you download a book be it free or paid, you earn the right to have an opinion. And since your opinion is as good as anyone else’s, rather than keep it to yourself or simply share it with your immediate family why not share it with the global community? You don’t have to say much, just a sentence or two, but anything is better than nothing. Believe me, it can be a great deal of fun!

Equally and just as importantly, by posting a review on one of the online stores such as Amazon and iTunes –and this is the crux of the matter- you instantly become a part of the promotion for that book.

I won’t try and explain the mysteries of the various ranking systems and why every single review counts but think about it in its most basic sense; your glowing review could be the one which introduces someone to the delights of Billy’s Log or The Crew! Surely that has to be worth a few minutes of your time!

And speaking as an author, reviews have other benefits. One of which is that they help me to decide what to write next. For example, I had no idea that there was so much interest in sequels to both Top Dog and Billy’s Log but now, thanks to both the sales figures and the fabulous reviews posted by readers, I do. Which is why you will hopefully soon see both, possibly within the next 12 months.

For me that last sentence encapsulates why I place so much importance on my readers opinions. Because by posting a review and helping to keep a title or titles selling, they/you allow me to concentrate on the actual process of writing and turning out fresh material.

At the end of the day, I hope that’s what people actually want me to be doing as opposed to trying to climb up some journalist rear end in the hope

Me at work
What I would much rather be doing!

that they might say something nice about my latest. It’s certainly what I’d much rather be doing.

So please, if you have ever read a book and like it, take the time to leave a review somewhere or even mention it on Facebook or Twitter. As I have said a million times each and every one of them genuinely helps and as someone pointed out to me today, a review is a fabulous way of thanking the author for his or her efforts.

One final point on the subject of reviews and just to confirm the importance of what I’ve said above, could I say a huge thanks to all the people who have been posting such kind things on Amazon and iTunes lately. It’s because of you guys that The Crew, Top Dog and Billy’s Log in particular are selling so well and sitting at the top of their respective charts. I am both humbled and eternally grateful for your fantastic support.

sexy lads romance love
Billy's Log - autobiography?

Two quick things I would like to add, I’m aiming to have a new book online by the end of May or early June  (details here) and I have just agreed to take part in what I hope is going to be a fabulous new project aimed directly at lads everywhere.

Watch this space or keep an eye on my website for more details.

I Blame Telly. Really, I do!

It fucking doesn't!

In all the soul searching and hand wringing that has gone on since the riots that engulfed London, Birmingham and Manchester barely two weeks ago, little has been mentioned about what I regard as one of the major factors to have impacted on the fabric of British society over the last 50 or so years.

For whilst much has been made of the role computer games have played in the desensitisation of violence and the fact that music videos are increasingly portraying women as little more than sexual objects (and where are the feminists in that debate? Gyrating to Rihanna along with their 8 year old daughters perhaps?) little has been made of the most powerful medium of all, television.

Now I love TV. It is an amazing thing and the people who work within it produce some incredible programming. Yet as a weapon, it is unrivalled. For it has the potential to shape public opinion in a way no other medium can and only a fool would deny that it has certainly been wielded plenty of times over the years and for all kinds of reasons.  Some good, most bad.

Never is this more graphically illustrated than in the soaps. Soaps are different to all other forms of entertainment in that they are infinite. Characters come, evolve and go, storylines unfold and die but the essence remains constant. This is of course, one of the great attractions and for many viewers that essence becomes so familiar that it takes on a sense of reality. A place it stops being the product of some writers imagination and is instead somewhere where the characters change from jobbing actors into into real people who actually experience real things. It’s Truman in all but name.

The arguement often put forward in defence of this type of programming is that it’s art mirroring life which would be fine if they showed lives, communities and problems which were actually ‘normal’ in the sense that yours and my lives are normal but they do not. Instead they paint a warped and necessarily condensed picture of a drama. One where hatred, shouting, violence, criminality and dysfunctional families are everyday normality.

And if you’re 7 and your evenings involve sitting in front of some screaming banshee supposedly living in a Manchester suburb and your only datum point is a home life which isn’t that far removed from what you’re seeing on screen, it simply becomes an extension of reality. When that is so destructive (and so repetitive) it can only have a negative impact because if anti-social behaviour is something you witness on a daily basis and it is rarely if ever condemned, how can you hope to learn that it is unacceptable in the real ‘real’ world? 

TV... do your job!

Therefore, those who develop these storylines must be made aware that they too have a responsibility to society to portray life is it actually is as opposed to the twisted vision they trot out for us. Because whilst I’m sure everyone involved with Eastenders is happy to work there, I doubt any of them would actually want to live there in real life.

And that has to be the defining question all producers and commissioners need to ask themselves before they put their signature on that line to sign off that script. Because if it’s not good enough for them, why on earth should it be good enough for us?

The Safe Standing Debate

Safe Standing
Safe Standing

The other day, whilst listening to the great Adrian Durham on TalkSport I became slightly irritated.

To be fair, TalkSport tends to do that to me these days which is one of the main reasons why I listen to it so infrequently. Indeed,Durhamis one of only three broadcasters on the station whose opinion I actually put some value in

However, I digress. What caused my irritation was a woman who came on to take part in a debate on the issue of safe standing.

Now I have no firm opinions on this matter either way although I do think that the imposition of designated seating has had a catastrophic effect on the atmosphere at games and anything which would kick that into touch is alright by me.

Anyway, the source of my irritation  was a spokesperson (sic) for the Justice for the 96 campaign who came on and gave an impassioned plea which revolved around the idea that a return to any kind of terracing would be a huge slap in the face not only to the memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster but to those who continue to fight for justice.

Now as many people will know, I’ve written a lot about Hillsborough over the years and to say that my opinions have not always been universally praised would be something of an understatement. But whilst I have every sympathy for the families of all of the victims, the more I listened to her the more irritated I became. Primarily because she was talking complete and utter bollocks.

Every football fan knows that whatever the causes of the Hillsborough tragedy, it changed football forever and in all kinds of ways. Yet it is a fact that football is an evolutionary entity and to claim that a return to terracing would mean that 96 people had died for nothing is, as far as I am concerned, a genuine insult to their memory.

Because I’ve stood on terraces which were so steep that climbing up them almost required crampons and others which were so packed you could barely breath let alone fight. I’ve stood and watched games through steel bars, been crushed against fences and been treated like shit by policemen simply because I’ve had the temerity to visit their town to follow my team (irony alert I know!). Yet because of Hillsborough, none of those things exist any more.

But just as importantly, the simple fact of the matter is that if people want to stand at games (as they still do in the lower leagues and in parts of Europe) then they are going to, seats or no seats and laws or no laws -and let’s not forget, the 96 who died were, in the main, usually to be found standing on The Kop at Anfield rather than sitting in the stands.

So if we are now able to provide an environment in which the modern day football fan can stand both safely and legally, then we should do it.

For if Hillsborough is going to provide the game with a genuine legacy, safer standing should surely be it.

Feminists Suck.

Feminists should man up!
A Feminist

I won’t bother to list any of those here as some have already been tackled whilst others are on my ‘to do’ list. There is however, one subject I have been putting off tackling primarily because I’ve been wary of causing offence. But now, in the spirit of my new found approach of ‘not giving a toss’ (see previous blog) I am happy to turn my opinionated howitzer in its direction. That subject is women.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love women, really, I do. As I’ve said before, I think they are more fun, more supportive, usually more intelligent and generally better all round human beings than the average bloke. I’d even go so far as to say that if I had to list my top ten favourite mates and working colleagues, at least 8 of them would be female.

Yet in spite of that, in common with the majority of my fellow males, I find women totally confusing. Well, to be brutally honest, I think they are all barking mad.

In essence, that was the central theme of my novel Billy’s Log. Written as a response to the anti-male propaganda that was Bridget Jones’ Diary, I used it to try to convey the shear frustration increasing numbers of men had come to feel whilst trying to find a long-lasting relationship in the face of the feminist man hating onslaught that took hold of the UK in the early 90’s and which manifested itself most visibly in the horrific ‘laddette’ culture.

Much of Billy’s Log was based on my own experiences as a relatively shy and very average looking male but it struck a chord with a lot of lads who had been through similar experiences (and response to the recent launch of the eBook version has shown little has changed!). Unexpectedly, it also attracted favourable comments from a number of women many of whom told me that it had finally helped them understand that being a bloke isn’t always quite as simple as they had thought. 

However, this isn’t a blog about blokes, it’s a blog about women. And the older I get, the more it becomes increasingly clearer to me that much of the confusion which forms the core of the modern day battle of the sexes stems from one simple truth. For whilst women have quite rightly sought equality both in the home and the workplace, when it comes to their relationship with the male of the species they have never actually been able to come up with a true definition of what equality actually means. Or to put it another way, they have no idea what it is they actually want.

What this means in real terms is that they are, to coin a phrase, fucked. Because without that definition the only thing they can do is to aspire toward what men have. That’s fine if you think equality means being able to get shit-faced, vomit in the street and act like a complete twat every Friday and Saturday night but not so fine if you actually want to hang on to your self-respect.

But more importantly, what this also means is that in the drive to be ‘equal’ (whatever it means) too many young women have given up the one thing that defines their sex; femininity. I mean for gods sake, this very weekend London will see women protesting under the banner of a ‘slut walk’. If it wasn’t so sad it’d be funny.

For me, this self-inflicted demise of femininity has been an own-goal of Ryan Giggs proportions. Not least because it has completely baffled entire generations of men who now take their emotional life in their hands whenever they open a door for a woman or perish the thought, pay her a compliment! (and lads, just for a laugh the next time you are out, say something complimentary to a random woman. Trust me, it will freak her out) and as a consequence prefer instead to seek solace in the company of other like-minded and equally baffled male souls. 

The tragic but inevitable result of this has been that the art of courtship and romance has all but vanished. Indeed, to me one of the great ironies of the modern age is that single women spend their lives bemoaning the lack of romantic men when they are the ones who have scared them all off! Women of course will argue that until the cows come home but from where I’m sitting it’s a cast iron fact. And let’s not forget something here…. that word, equality. It works both ways remember. So lads, when was the last time your other half did something romantic for you? I’m not talking permission for the odd fumble (which they told us for years wasn’t what they actually meant by ‘romance’!) or the odd pack of Primark pants, I’m talking flowers, chocolates, tickets to football or even an unexpected pack of Bud! I rest my case.

And that’s the bottom line here. Equality might mean equal but when it comes to relationships too many women don’t actually want real equality at all. They want the pick and mix version. The one where they get the good bits such as the romance and the emotional support but without having to give too much if anything back in return.

women, know you job. It's cooking, kids and sex.
Happy Wife

Yet what the hell is wrong with the idea of a woman who actually wants to stay at home to make it a warm and welcoming environment in which to bring up her kids? Absolutely nothing, that’s what! Let’s be honest, can you honestly say that this would not be a better country if more mums did that? Bloody right it would. Thankfully there are plenty of women who are happy to fulfil that most important of roles and so shouldn’t one of the major aims of the feminist movement be to recapture the dignity of the housewife rather than continue to tag it as some kind of subservient occupation for women who aren’t clever or ambitious enough to want to do something ‘real’ and more productive!

Domestic slave

For as most blokes know only too well, the truth is that women actually hold all the power already. Be it in relationships, work or in the home. They’ve just forgotten how to wield it.

 

No More Mr Nice Guy.

As requested ...

The other day someone levelled an accusation at me. I have, apparently, mellowed.

Initially, I dismissed this outrageous slur out of hand but as they pointed out, my blog, which was set up for the sole purpose of providing somewhere for me to get things off my chest, has recently become little more than a cross between a glorified diary and a series of plugs. And to be fair, as I pondered this later on, I realised that my accuser was right. The question of course, is why?

After all, I pride myself on my love of moaning and as plenty of people can testify, it’s not like I moan any less these days nor is it for want of suitable subject matter! Leaving aside my personal and working life (if only you knew the half of it!) I only have to pick up any national newspaper or turn on TalkSport and I guarantee that within 30 seconds I’ll be off about something.

Equally, I have always loved sitting down and tearing into something or someone but it is nevertheless a fact that my enthusiasm for letting rip has indeed waned in recent months. Which brought me back to the question of why?

However, before I could even begin the search for an answer to this most simple of questions, it landed in my inbox courtesy of The Purple Diva. An amazing woman and a fabulous writer who does things with words the like of which I can only dream about. And it came courtesy of a simple URL. A URL which led me to what I can only term a proper full bore championship winning rant.

It was sent in January 2001 by the famous author Hunter S. Thompson to Holly Sorensen, then a Production Executive at an independent film studio, The Shooting Gallery and related to the adaptation of his novel, The Rum Diary, to which Sorensen’s studio held the rights. Things had not gone well and eventually, Thompson reached boiling point.

Read on…..

Transcript

To HOLLY SORENSON / Shooting Gallery / Hollywood / Jan 22 ’01

Dear Holly,

Okay, you lazy bitch, I’m getting tired of this waterhead fuckaround that you’re doing with The Rum Diary.

We are not even spinning our wheels aggressively. It’s like the whole Project got turned over to Zombies who live in cardboard boxes under the Hollywood Freeway… I seem to be the only person who’s doing anything about getting this movie Made. I have rounded up Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt, Nick Nolte & a fine screenwriter from England , named Michael Thomas, who is a very smart boy & has so far been a pleasure to talk to & conspire with…

So there’s yr. fucking Script & all you have to do now is act like a Professional & Pay him. What the hell do you think Making a Movie is all about? Nobody needs to hear any more of that Gibberish about yr. New Mercedes & yr. Ski Trips & how Hopelessly Broke the Shooting Gallery is…. If you’re that fucking Poor you should get out of the Movie Business. It is no place for Amateurs & Dilletants who don’t want to do anything but “take lunch” & Waste serious people’s Time.

Fuck this. We have a good writer, we have the main parts casted & we have a very marketable movie that will not even be hard to make….

And all you are is a goddamn Bystander, making stupid suggestions & jabbering now & then like some half-bright Kid with No Money & No Energy & no focus except on yr. own tits…. I’m sick of hearing about Cuba & Japs & yr. Yo-yo partners who want to change the story because the violence makes them Queasy.

Shit on them. I’d much rather deal with a Live asshole than a Dead worm with No Light in his Eyes…. If you people don’t want to Do Anything with this movie, just cough up the Option & I’ll talk to someone else. The only thing You’re going to get by quitting and curling up in a Foetal position is relentless Grief and Embarrassment. And the one thing you won’t have is Fun…

Okay, That’s my Outburst for today. Let’s hope that it gets Somebody off the dime. And if you don’t Do Something QUICK you’re going to Destroy a very good idea. I’m in the mood to chop yr. fucking hands off.

R.S.V.P

(Signed)

HUNTER

Upon reading this, I immediately realised what my problem has been. Instead of embracing the concept that my blog allows me the freedom to say pretty much what I want about what I want whenever I want, I had instead begun to follow the ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’ ideal.

More worryingly, that had also begun to spill over into my working life. My god, I have lost count of the number of times in recent months I have encountered either ineptitude, deceit or even condescension and instead of sending off a Thompsonesque style missile aimed directly at the relevant anus, I have sat back and done pretty much sod all. In essence, I had somehow become ‘nice’.

Fuck off

Well fuck that. No more doormat for me. Normal service is about to resume.

Be warned….

It’s true. I’m in love.

Yes, I have recently fallen head over heels in love. Such an admission is, I know, not exactly blokey and I doubt many people who read these all too infrequent ramblings of mine will ever have expected to view those words here but it is nevertheless, a fact. I am besotted.

I’d actually go so far as to say I’m happy which, as anyone who knows me will understand, is not a phrase which normally sits comfortably in my shoulders but hey, a good female can have that effect sometimes.

We met, like increasing numbers of people in these hectic times, via the internet and it took just one brief glance at her picture for me to know that we were destined to be together. Call it love at first sight if you like but within 48 hours, we were a couple and I know my life will never be the same.

The object of my affection? A 1997 Mercedes Vito van who I met via the petrol heads dating site that is the motors section of eBay. And I say who rather than which for a reason. Because my van isn’t simply a collection of metal objects thrown together on some assembly line in Germany and used and abused first by the RAC and then an electrician from Redbourn, she has a soul.

I know that because she’s already responding to the love, care and attention I have been pouring upon her. I’m not just talking stuff like the obligatory scrub up here, I’m talking proper maintenance. Oil & filter changes, sorting dodgy wiring and let me tell you, nothing helps forge a bond between a man and his vehicle like changing a dodgy driveshaft.

The result? Well at the risk of this sounding like a sexual metaphor, each time I climb inside her she seems more pleased to see me than the last time. She starts easier, runs more smoothly and little things that didn’t work when we first met have suddenly and mysteriously started to function. It’s like my own version of ‘Christine’ but without the brutal massacre of people who cross me (although I am hopeful that may begin any day).

As for me, well driving, which I’ve always loved, has suddenly taken on new levels of pleasure and I feel increasingly like Toad of Toad Hall as we bowl around the country together, windows open and without a care in the world. And let me tell you, having a mobile space the size of a garage available to you is even more useful than you can imagine! Oh yes, I am a van convert.

But equally, the fact that she only cost me £500 means that….. no, I can’t say that. Of course I care about her and in no way is she disposable!

Yet deep in my heart I know that even though we are still basking in the dawn glow of our relationship, one day it will end and she will shuffle off to the great big car park in the sky (or more likely, Africa via Tilbury Docks). And whilst I will be heartbroken for a time, I’m sure that eventually a new love will come into my life almost certainly via eBay dating and possibly even a slammed VW T4 with air con and some decent alloys.

But until then……. 

 

It’s me!

As you may or may not have noticed, the level of work I’ve been putting into my blog in recent weeks has slowed to what can only be described as pathetic.

In my defence, to say life has been manic of late would be an understatement as I’ve had various producers champing at my creative backside in an effort to secure either revisions or my services.

Not that I am ungrateful of course, but sometimes, I do wish I had half-decent time management skills or better still, the ability to say NO to people who are being, for want of a better word, twats.

Indeed, it’s fair to say that one of the worst things about being a writer is that you are usually the first link in the creative chain of a project and the last one to get either paid or recognised. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made the point to people that without writers, there would be no…… well, anything. Yet as a breed, we are quite possibly the most frequently shafted group within any creative field.

I’m not sure quite how we have allowed ourselves to end up like this but it is certainly something I’m keen to change even if it is only for my own sanity.

However, in the meantime I will do my utmost to update my blog on a more regular basis not least because I have a few things I really do need to get off my chest.

Oh yes……..

It’s me!

As you may or may not have noticed, the level of work I’ve been putting into my blog in recent weeks has slowed to what can only be described as pathetic.

In my defence, to say life has been manic of late would be an understatement as I’ve had various producers champing at my creative backside in an effort to secure either revisions or my services.

Not that I am ungrateful of course, but sometimes, I do wish I had half-decent time management skills or better still, the ability to say NO to people who are being, for want of a better word, twats.

Indeed, it’s fair to say that one of the worst things about being a writer is that you are usually the first link in the creative chain of a project and the last one to get either paid or recognised. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made the point to people that without writers, there would be no…… well, anything. Yet as a breed, we are quite possibly the most frequently shafted group within any creative field.

I’m not sure quite how we have allowed ourselves to end up like this but it is certainly something I’m keen to change even if it is only for my own sanity.

However, in the meantime I will do my utmost to update my blog on a more regular basis not least because I have a few things I really do need to get off my chest.

Oh yes……..