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General Galtieri – my part in his Falklands downfall.

Falklands, Britain, Thatcher, ArgentinaI am a Falklands Veteran. Yes, that’s right, 39 years ago I was one of those brave souls who headed south to drive the invading Argentinean scum from our land.

However, I have a confession to make. You see I wasn’t one of the amazing Para’s  who yomped across the Islands carrying a weight akin to a medium sized child on  their backs, nor was I one of the sailors who spent their war bobbing up and down  on waves which, from the films I’ve seen, gave them a ride like a non-stop trip on  the Big One at Blackpool.

No, my war was easy. More importantly, it was fun.

You see as a member of her majesties Royal Air Force, my war was spent on the relative luxury of Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island which, for those that don’t know, is a pile of volcanic rock in the middle of the Atlantic. Being close to the Equator, it’s also quite warm. Well, very warm.

Now I won’t go into what my actual job was (I’d have to hunt you all down and kill you) but after a very exciting flight down, most of which was spent in the cockpit of a VC10 talking UFO’s with the crew –well at least those who were awake-  it involved a lot of sitting around and waiting. Now this sounds fun and to be honest, as someone who does pretty much that for a living now, it generally is. But when you’re at war and both chaos and uncertainty are all around you, you do kind of get caught up in things and so in an effort to do my bit, I ended up working with the American Fire Crews who, it’s fair to say, pretty much ran the Island. As a result, I would be tasked with all kinds of odd things from dragging extremely stubborn donkeys from the runway with a Landrover through to Ascension Island Falklands War, Harrier, Royal Air Forcesorting through the endless pallets of gifts which had been sent down to the Task Force from the fabulous people back home. Gifts which included everything from beer and fags to hard core porn!

And when I wasn’t doing that, I spent my time doing everything from swimming with what I later learned to be sea-water Piranhas (yes, really) and trying to break into the NASA station in the middle of the Island through to being spied on by the SAS. And that really is a tale!

I was also prone to playing practical jokes on people. Jokes which included placing a huge land crab in my bosses sleeping bag which he only found when he climbed into it after a 24 hour shift and scaring the shit out of the intelligence officers by hiding in their porta-loo in the middle of the night and screaming ‘BOO!’ when they pulled the door open. Trust me, the impact that can have when you’ve been told to expect an Argentinean Special Forces attack is quite dramatic!

Of course, things changed dramatically when rumours of the Vulcan raids began to break -and I cannot even begin to describe what it was like to be involved with those- and once our fabulous soldiers had actually landed and the fight to reclaim the Islands began, even those of us thousands of miles away felt like we really were at war. Which of course, we were.

And then the losses began, and when the injured started to drift back I started to actually understand the realities of war for those who had been on the front line. That really was an experience I will never forget nor is it one I would ever want to repeat. Humbling doesn’t come close.

A Vulcan. Given the lack of Victor tankers in this picture, I suspect they might have been 'orf somewhere!
A Vulcan. Given the lack of Victor tankers in this picture, I suspect they might have been ‘orf somewhere!

Victories were of course, celebrated in time-honoured style but oddly, the actual surrender came as something of an anti-climax. But whilst I remember exactly where I was when I heard it, nothing much changed for me, at least not initially. My job, such as it was, continued whilst supplies still had to sorted, planes still took off and landed and donkeys still had to moved!

When troops started making their way back it actually became even busier and in fact one of my most emotional periods of the entire war came when a Hercules full of Harrier lads landed en route back home. Amongst them were lads I knew personally having worked with them on 4 Squadron in Germany only months previous.

Then out of the blue came the news that I was to go home. In fact, I was the first RAF serviceman on Ascension Island to be told that their job had been stood down which is something I’m quite proud of. Within days, I was geared up to head back to the UK, thankfully, on the very plane that the new (and first) Station Warrant Officer arrived on and those of you with experience of the RAF will know what that means!

My arrival back at RAF Brize Norton was unintentionally hilarious as I flew back with a group of those special men from Hereford who had no intention of hanging around for the elaborate ceremony that had been organised to welcome back the other soldiers on the plane (Cue potentially very violent stand-off!). This being followed by a three-hour wait for a car to take me back to Abingdon and a row with the orderly Sergeant who refused to take my rifle off me. Hence my having to sleep with it in my bed.

And that was that. Not for me the civic receptions nor the big parades but I cherish my South Atlantic campaign medal and am as proud of that as I am of anything I have ever done before or since.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. War may be hell for some but for many it’s also where they feel more alive than you can possibly imagine. Even those of us who played only a minor part.

argentina, falklands war, thatcher, royal airforce, nimrod, vulcan, harrierTo all those who lost loved ones or who have endured untold suffering since 1982, please do not think for one second that I am trying to belittle what you have gone and are going though. Nothing could be further from the truth as I am, and continue to be, in awe of you all.

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordAll of my books, including the comedy Wings of a Sparrow  are available in ebook and paperback format from either Amazon or iTunes.

The audio version of In The Know is also now available to download and joins the ebook, paperback and movie to make the clean sweep of all platforms! Not too shabby if I say so myself.

With my latest venture, Red Bus Movies, now up and running, work continues apace on a variety of movie projects including a brand new comedy I’ve written with my We Still Kill The Old Way co-writer, Gary Lawrence about a group of very special old ladies. More on this very soon.

 armed forces, hooligan, british film, top dog, green street, self publishing, manchester united, liverpool, sex, maggie thatcher, veteran, UKIP, tory Argentina

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So your novel has been optioned. Now what?

 A cautionary tale.

Hollywood has come calling, or maybe Pinewood but who cares? Your novel, your baby, is heading for the screen.

What happens next is entirely down to one single thing; budget. The best case scenario will involve huge option payments, a steady stream of expensive lunches in exclusive Soho clubs and for the lucky few, business class flights to Hollywood. The more likely scenario will involve coffee’s in dingy Starbucks, lots of phone calls and a significantly smaller option fee. In some cases, there may well be no option fee at all. At least not one worth of the name.

I’ve had both those experiences, many times in fact. But whilst the latter may not be the experience of choice, it never detracts from the excitement and nor should it. This is the dream.

It is worth noting however, that it can all end in a heartbeat and  there will be nothing you can do about it. Honestly, if you think getting a book published is hard work, try making a movie. It’s like juggling fish in the dark.

However, assuming that things unfold as you hope they will, one of the first issues you’ll encounter is the adaption process and I thought it might be worth looking at this particular aspect. For as someone who’s trod that particular path, it’s one that not many authors tend to consider.

In many, if not most cases, the decision of who will adapt your novel will be taken out of your hands anyway. The producers will have a list of screenwriters in mind and whilst they may well ask you to meet with them, it will be as much out of courtesy as anything else.

In this case you only have one choice which is the infinitely more sensible one of taking the money (as much as you or your agent can get upfront) and settling back to enjoy the ride.

There will however, be times when the opportunity to write the adaptation will be handed to the author themselves. Tempting though it is to bite their hands off, I would urge anyone considering accepting such an offer to think very carefully before agreeing to take it on.

It should be fairly obvious that screenwriting is a very different discipline from writing for publication and it brings with it very different challenges. Many of these centre on the fact that film making is a collaborative rather than a solitary process and that ultimately what ends up on screen won’t be your vision for your story, it will be the directors.

What that means in real terms is that whilst the director will work with you to get the best from you that they possibly can, the harsh reality is that if you can’t deliver what they want they will replace you. In fact that will be written into your contract. Whilst it’s not happened to me -yet- I know others it has happened to and in every case it had a huge impact on both their pride and their confidence.

Even if you do deliver, it’s important to understand that as the first link in the creative chain, your role, whilst vital initially, will rapidly reach a point where it is all but dispensed with.

This can be tough to handle, very tough. Not least because if you’re not careful, watching others make changes to your work without any input from you can very quickly start to feel personal. When it’s your own adaptation of your own novel, those feelings can be magnified ten fold.

And those changes will come thick and fast. If you think that your first efforts will be anywhere near close to a shooting script, think again. The screenplay I adapted from my novel Top Dog, which we filmed in 2014, went through something like 11 rewrites. Each one the result of input from various involved parties with far more power than I. I even had to change the ending and if you know anything about me, you will know how important those are to me!

Indeed, the list of factors that might have an impact on your script would fill a lengthy volume. One of the strangest I encountered with Top Dog was the casting. For with the original book being a sequel, my central character was like an old mate. Yet when the actor Leo Gregory was cast in the role, as good as he is he could not have been more different from the image I’d had in my head for over 15 years. That was a huge and quite difficult mental adjustment to make. One made all the more difficult because the pressure to get into pre-production was already growing.

Eventually of course, you will deliver a script that everyone is happy with but then will come possibly the most difficult part for you as a writer. The part where you have to relinquish even the last shred of what little control you actually had.

From that point on, you will have no input whatsoever save for the occasional short rewrite to suit a demand from the director or producer. You will certainly have no right to make any changes yourself or discuss anything relating to the script with the actors even if they ask you. In fact interfering with anything on a set can have huge and usually unpleasant consequences. A lesson I learned on my first feature, Green Street, which resulted in me being banned from the set altogether.

As a consequence, you’ll have to sit back and watch actors perform scenes and deliver lines in ways that are nothing like how you imagined them when you committed them to paper. For many writers, that can be toughest and most frustrating time of all. Indeed there are plenty of screenwriters, even well established ones, who will never venture anywhere near a film set for that very reason.

So is it worth adapting your own novel for the screen? Of course it is. As soul destroying as the film business can be it can also provide amazing and unique experiences. From playing football with Elijah Wood to watching highly choreographed fight scenes unfold before your very eyes, film sets can be glorious places. There will also be occasions where the actors will replicate your version of your script down to the very last vocal inflection. Trust me, those albeit rare moments will make any amount of pain and anguish worthwhile.

It can also do wonders for your ego, your status, your future and your bank balance and if you think seeing your book on the shelves in Waterstones is a thrill, wait until you see you name on a film poster on the underground.

Just make sure that if you do venture into the world of film, whatever path you take, make sure you take every step with your eyes propped wide open.

@dougiebrimson

Dougie Brimson has written three award-winning feature films (Green Street, Top Dog and We Still Kill The Old Way) and is the author of 16 books including the best-selling Billy Evans gangland trilogy. His latest thriller, In The Know, was published by Caffeine Knights in May 2020.

His next novel will be his first military thriller and will be published in Spring 2021.

All his previous books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

*A version of this article was first published in the Crime Writers Association magazine, Red Herrings.*

Why ‘write what you know’ is the best advice you’ll ever hear.

football. soccer, writing, screenwriting, author, indie, film, screenplay, hooligansIn terms of advice handed to potential scribes, be they of the book or screenplay variety, ’write what you know’ is fairly standard fare.

Ironically, it’s a piece of guidance which is often ignored by those starting out on the rocky road of penmanship but the reality is that there are very sound reasons why it should be at number one in the newbies ‘take on board’ list.

Not only does it save both time and money on research, it side-steps potentially catastrophic flaws of the kind which will not only undermine the credibility of the book or film, but which will come to haunt you forever. And yes, that’s the voice of experience talking.

But more importantly, if you have extensive experience of something it stands to reason that your intimate knowledge will impact on pretty much everything you commit to paper. Be it in the language used, the authenticity of locations or even basic detail of the kind which will turn a good read into a great read. Thus, with all this stuff coming naturally, all of your time and effort can go into learning about plotting and character development which is, to be fair, where they should be going. At least initially.

I, of course, have followed this nugget of wisdom religiously and continue to do so. I write about football, hooliganism and blokey things because I know about football, hooliganism and blokey things and whilst I’m fairly certain that my output won’t cause any ripples at either BAFTA or the Booker Prize, if people like what I’m doing enough to buy or watch it, that’ll more than do for me.

There is however, one other subject I have in depth knowledge and experience of and that’s the military. Indeed, I’m often asked why, having served eighteen years in the Royal Air Force, I’ve never written anything remotely connected to Her Majesties Armed Forces.

Well, I can finally announce that this glaring oversight has at long last been addressed for I currently have not one, but two military themed movies in development.

As is usual with these things, I can’t say too much about either project other than to tell you that both are very different in tone and subject matter and they are also way past the second draft script stage with one actually very close to receiving the famous green light. In fact, some of the feedback on this particular script has been without question, the best I’ve ever received so I’m obviously quite excited about it.

Anyway, if all goes to plan a deal to take it into pre-production will be concluded this week and then it’ll be all systems go. Literally!

Dougie Brimson has written three award-winning feature films (Green Street, Top Dog and We Still Kill The Old Way) and is the author of 16 books including the best-selling Billy Evans gangland trilogy. His latest thriller, In The Know, was published by Caffeine Knights in May 2020.

His next novel will be his first military thriller and will be published in Spring 2021.

All his previous books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

*A version of this article was first published in the Crime Writers Association magazine, Red Herrings.*

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The business of writing: finding motivation.

write,writing,screenwriting,screenplay,author,hooligan,football,soccer,independent film,When asked about writing, author Neil Gaiman once famously said, “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

He is of course, spot on, well, almost. You see for me the hardest part of the writing process isn’t the actual creativity element, it’s the physical one. Or to be more specific, the act of dragging myself to my desk and actually sitting down at my computer. This is a torture I have to endure on an almost daily basis.

I blame my father, and the military. You see despite his undoubted talent as both a musician and comedian, my dad was staggeringly lazy and this is one of the many bad habits I’ve inherited from him. It began whilst I was in the Royal Air Force when much of my time was spent employing the ‘minimum input, maximum output’ approach to service life and to be fair, I was bloody good at it. Just ask anyone who worked with me.

Inevitably, this lifestyle has also infected my career as a writer although even I know that it’s a luxury I can ill afford. If I don’t write it, it doesn’t get written and if it doesn’t get written, I don’t eat or get to go to *football/stock car racing/cinema/restaurants *delete as appropriate.

As a consequence, most mornings I have to force myself away from the sofa and the delights of whatever movie I recorded the day before and go through what is an increasingly defined ritual to begin my working day. I won’t go into it all as it’s starting to get a bit OCD like, but it is safe to say that both coffee and Solar Radio feature as prominent kick starters in my motivational process!

Occasionally however, I don’t have any trouble getting to my desk. Indeed, sometimes I can’t actually wait to get started and when I hit that point, I know I’m onto something solid. Thankfully, I am there right now. Not once, but twice.

The first project I’m excited about is my next book which will be my first military thriller. It’s actually based on a script I wrote a couple of years ago which is currently in the process of being financed and is a truly cracking story set around the RAF. And that’s all you’re getting for now.

The second project I’m working on is based on another screenplay I wrote a few years ago, this one for a potential TV series. Sadly, despite some initial interest it fell by the wayside as so many projects do. However, one of the things I loved about the script was the central character and so did a producer friend in the US. So when she was recently asked by a Hollywood studio to pitch a new movie project within the same genre as my comatose show, she immediately thought of my creation. One thing led to another and we’re now at the point where the green light is beginning to flicker.

It’s all very exciting and hopefully, I’ll be able to pass on the details soon.

Speaking of likeable characters, you may or may not have noticed that my favourite anti- hero has returned with a vengeance (literally) in the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy.

To say In The Know has been well received would be an understatement with 5* reviews across the board both on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s also sold out the first print run which is fantastic (new stock is on the way as I type) so can I thank everyone who’s read it so far and taken the trouble to post a review.

Oddly, given that it’s a trilogy and all three books have already been published, I’m already being asked when the next one is coming. I actually have a few ideas for Billy including a prequel, but like all things, it will be wholly dependent on how well this one does sales wise. Mind you, a film adaptation would certainly help and that may well be in the mix already.

Watch this space. And please, stay safe everyone.


football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watford
Just in case you didn’t know already, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes


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Everything you wanted to know about being an author (but were afraid to ask).

As I sit here pondering my navel during the madness of this lockdown and doing pretty much anything I can to avoid actually writing, I often stumble across things which not only make me laugh, but strike a chord. One of the most recent items to achieve this double whammy was an old blog I read entitled ‘Everything you wanted to know about being an author (but were afraid to ask).

The reason this caused such mirth in Brimson Towers was because this last week I’ve received not one, but two emails asking me about that very thing. Now in both cases, given that Matt Haig, the author of said original blog, is a far better and more accomplished writer than I will ever be and had pretty much said everything I would have said and more anyway, I simply passed on the link and wished the individual well.

However, as I mulled it over whilst standing in line at my local Co-Op yesterday (I needed Mozzarella, seriously) I decided that if I was going to accurately apply this excellent list to my own writing life and process, it would need a tweak or two.

So what follows is a bastardised version of the list in question. I have included the original in italics for reasons which will become obvious and hope that Mr Haig will accept my apology for brutalising his excellent efforts which, if you would like to read them, can be found here: 

1.     We live on toast. And cereal. And caffeine. And wine. But mainly toast.   Since I am banned from eating bread due to my lard arse frames dislike of wheat and rarely drink alcohol of any description, I only survive at all thanks to a daily plate of eggs and bacon, this being supplemented by a ready supply of Bourbons. On reflection, this could explain my aforementioned lard arsed frame.

2.     By the time our book comes out, it feels like a childhood memory. But more distant.   As a writer who is intent on spewing out books and screenplays on a scarily regular basis until such time as readers finally suss out that I am a talentless hack (a fact I am already well aware of), I am no longer hindered by the agonising time it takes publishers take to get books from emailed file to the shelves of Waterstones. Hence, when a book is released into the marketplace, or as I prefer to call it, Amazon, it is still scarily fresh in the memory.

3.     Our daily word-count was approximately three thousand words higher before the arrival of Facebook and Twitter.   Absolutely true. Indeed, there is a whole heap of irony to be found in the fact that whilst the world wide web provides the engine for what passes as my writing career, it also does all it can to slam it into reverse on an almost minute by minute basis. Proof of which can be found by looking at my Twitter and Facebook timelines.

4.     At parties someone will always say, ‘So have you written anything I’d have heard of?’ Or, ‘How are the books going?’ Both questions end in awkward silence.   Again, absolutely true although the reality is that I rarely get invited to parties. In fact for rarely, substitute never. I suspect people assume I will turn up, get pissed and wreck the place. This being as far from the truth as you could possibly get.

5.     If we were number two in the bestseller charts, the only book we would ever be thinking about is the one selling more.   Partially true. Well OK, mostly true. Although in some instances, I do look at who is languishing below me and mutter a smug ‘take that you fucker’ to myself.

6.     We never know if the book we are writing is the right one until we have written it. And even then we are not sure.   In my case, I know it’s the right one because I ask my readers in advance and they tell me what they want. That’s the joy of being an author who actually talks to the people who buys his books.

7.     It is harder to make friends after you become a writer than it was before. But way easier to make enemies.   True and very true.

8.     People think you are automatically a bit weird. (Or is that just me?)   No, it’s not just you. Although in my defence, I am actually a bit weird.

9.     We need editors ‘like a fat kid needs cake’ – to quote that sensitive literary soul, 50 Cent.   This is golden rule number 5 in Doug’s golden rule book of writing. It is so, so true.

10.    The best day is when we get to see our book cover. Unless we don’ t like the book cover in which case it is the worst day.   Being an independent author, my publishers involve me in developing covers from day one and often I have the final say so this isn’t the case for me. My best day is usually when I write ‘the end’ and the worst is when I realise that it usually isn’t.

11.    ‘Royalty statement’ is Latin for disappointment.   Thanks to the web, I see my sales figures on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they are orgasmic, other times I want to kill myself.

12.    We get stomach pains every time another writer wins something. (We have continual stomach pains).   Not only have I never won anything, I’ve never even been nominated. Come to that, I’ve never even been invited to anything where any author won anything. My stomach pains are entirely due to my Bourbon intake.

13.    We all want to be Hemingway, minus the suicide part.   I’m quite happy being me.

14.    We would probably all be writing poems, if people actually bought poems.   If I could earn a living writing football chants or perhaps greeting cards for lads, I’d be happy with that. Who wouldn’t?

15.    We spend a lot of our time going on five hour train journeys to events where eight people turn up (and only three of them buy the book).     The only events I get invited to involve either court or family and generally speaking, I tend to avoid both of them like the plague anyway.

16.    We chose not to choose life. We chose something else.   This is true. It’s called solitude.

17.    We are generally quite bad at dancing.   Untrue. I have the moves! Or at least I did before my back gave out.

18.    In most cases, the person we don’t like more than any other just happens to be another writer. But then, the person we admire most is one too.   This is true. Although in my case it is more to do with personality than the nature of their output.

19.    We may have our name on the front of a book but we always feel slightly outside the publishing industry, looking in. Like Keats at that metaphorical sweet-shop.   True. Despite my success I exist firmly on the outside of the publishing industry and always have. I fear that is unlikely to ever change.

20. If we were a neurotic wreck before we were published – and we were – we remain one afterwards. Our brain chemistry doesn’t fundamentally change.   This is absolutely true although my worst insecurities tend to be more about my other writing life. Screenplays are genuinely terror inducing.

21. If we get good reviews, we want good sales. If we get good sales, we want good reviews.   I want both. Is that too much to ask?

22. We are happy for five whole minutes after a book is sent off. Then we realise all the mistakes we made.   True. Although thanks to the magic that is the eBook, we can if need be, continually edit!

23. We start off wanting to be published. We get published. Then we want a nice review. We get a nice review. Then we want an award. We get an award. Then we want a film deal. We get a film deal. Then we want a film to be made. And so on. For ever. (We are never happy).   Well as previously discussed, I know I’ll never earn any kind of award although I have had a movie and plenty of film deals. Another West End premier would be nice though, I wasn’t actually invited to the first one… (long story)

24. If someone reads our work midway through the writing process we need them to faint in awe or it goes in the bin.   People are constantly reading my work at every stage from one-line idea to final manuscript. As a consequence, if they are happy, I am happy. If they’re not, I listen to what they say and change things until they are. They are legends!

25. We are a little bit lonely.   True. Thankfully, despite coming from a large family, I have always been a bit of a loner and my favourite company is er… me. That has stood me in good stead over the years.

26. Bad reviews are always taken personally. Always.   Totally and absolutely true.

27. Writing a novel is like a relationship. During the early stages every other possibility looks incredibly attractive. But commitment pays off.   True. And since manuscripts, like screenplays, are always females, there are occasions when you get to the end and are glad to see the back of her.

28. We rarely write in coffee shops.   True. Instead we watch and listen and use the fact that we are writers as an excuse for loitering. Or is that just me?

29. Writing is heaven. Re-writing is hell.   Oh god yes.

30. We are rubbish at other jobs. And DIY. And most other things too.   I was an engineer in a previous life so I can do pretty much anything. The biggest problem I have is getting myself motivated to actually do it whatever it is that needs doing.

31. We say the wrong things at parties.   I refer the honourable reader to the answer I gave some moments ago. I don’t get invited…

32. The definition of discomfort is the moment after your mother reads your semi-autobiographical novel.   Substitute ‘mother’ with ‘daughter’ and you’re about right.

33. There is no praise more treasured than that of an author you worship.   I wouldn’t know about this. It’s never happened.

34. The best book we have ever written is the one we are about to write.   It better be!

35. The best ideas we have are the ones that arrive accidentally.   True. In fact the idea for my next book actually arrived thanks to an accident. I was in hospital with my wife who had broken her arm when the plot came to me!

36. There is no email in the world nicer to receive than the one from a reader who has been moved by your work.   Oh yes. Thankfully, I have had many of those over the years and each and every one is valued.

37. We know, in our heart of hearts, that we have the very best job in the world.   The truest of all truths.

So there you have it.

Finally,  I’m happy, if not delighted to announce that work is currently well underway on my 18th book which will be my first military based thriller. However, before that, in a little over three weeks in fact, book number 17 hits the shelves. The third book on the Billy Evans trilogy, it’s entitled In The Know and is, if I say so myself, a cracker.

 

You can pre-order it, as with all my books, my clicking on the following links. Amazon  iTunes

@dougiebrimson

5 ways to handle bad reviews.

author,writing,review,amazon,ebook,self publishingFor any writer, be it of book, script, article or blog, reviews are not just important, they are vital.

Like it or not, good reviews sell books. 

However, as much as we’d like every review to be a glowing endorsement of our creativity, the reality is that if someone buys a book they also purchase the absolute right not to enjoy it. And alongside that comes the option to hit the internet and slaughter both the work and the author if they feel disappointed or worse, cheated.

This is obviously great when it happens to a rival but when it happens to you, and it will, it hurts. Bad. After all, if you’ve put your heart and soul into writing a book, having the former ripped from your chest and publicly stamped on is not exactly a barrel of laughs.

review,author,selfpublishing,amazon,writing,ebook
Just one of many I’ve had over the years.

Yet the sad fact is that no matter how good a writer you are, bad reviews are an inevitability and dealing with them goes with the territory. 

So how do you do it?

  1. Accept them for what they are: an individual opinion. Yes, they’re tough to accept and trust me when I tell you that a bad review can eat away at you forever. However, if you’re happy to wallow in the affirmation of a 5* review, you’re got to learn to take the 1* criticism.
  2. Never respond. Whilst it’s always tempting to rip into a bad reviewer like a rabid dog, leaving aside the fact that it’s bad manners, it’s also inviting trouble. Trolls love a good author spat and if they get hold of you they can do more damage to both your book and your career than you can ever imagine. Don’t give them that opportunity.
  3. Develop a thick skin, and fast. The more books you produce, the more negative reviews you’re going to get. Conversely, you’re also going to get more positive reviews so keep re-reading those to balance things out.
  4. Be honest. Reviews aren’t just feedback, they’re market research. If you’re getting more bad than good, it might well be that there is actually some truth in what’s being said. Good reviews will always tell you what works, bad ones will often tell you the rest so utilise both as learning tools and use that information to help you make your next book better.
  5. Enjoy them. Even a bad review means that someone has read your book, YOUR book! Be proud of that and remember, not only does each and every review push your book up the amazon rankings, it also means income. Why do you think authors are so desperate for them? Even bad ones.

writing, hooligans, author, footballOn the subject of books, I’m delighted to announce that the third book in The Crew/Top Dog trilogy will be published by Caffeine Nights in May 2020.

I’m not going to give too much away about the plot other than to say that the central character gets involved in even more dubious activity than previously. And if you’ve read the first two books, you’ll know that bar is set pretty high!

I can also announce that I’m currently working on a project for Netflix, but that’s all you’re getting!

Exciting times.

@dougiebrimson

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

self-publishing,author,writing,amazon,kindle,independent film,ebooks,

Why no writer should ever fear a blank page.

writer, writing, author, screenwriting, film, movie, hollywood, football, soccer
Ever since I’ve been writing, two things have regularly been thrown in my direction.

The first is that at some point all writers experience writers block, the second is that the blank page is a terrifying thing.

I’ve written about writer’s block numerous times before so I won’t go over that again (however, to paraphrase it for any newbies, in essence I believe it’s a myth designed to excuse one of any number of basic failings) but the issue of the blank page is something I’ve rarely discussed. As I sit here facing a new one today, now seems as good a time as any to tackle it because the explanation is relatively simple.

You see loathe was we are to admit it, all writers believe that somewhere deep inside us is the ability to pen a booker prize-winning novel, a ‘Harry Potter’ style literary phenomenon or an Oscar-winning screenplay.

The blank page signifies the opportunity to commence the creation of that particular creative journey and like any opportunity, there are two ways of looking at it. You can either be pessimistic or optimistic. Which one you choose, or rather which one chooses you, is wholly dependent on the type of person you are.

The pessimist will type those first few words already believing that this new project won’t be the big break they have been dreaming of and instead, even as they sit there hammering away, they will fairly quickly be enveloped by that awful sense of hope evaporating.

And as that hope rolls away, it will be replaced by the standard writers fears of exposure, of failure, of making yourself look stupid and possibly worst of all, of being boring. Who on earth would want to risk any of that let alone willingly put themselves through it?

Yes, all of that and more lurks on that single A4 page or blank screen filled with nothing but white. Having written 16 books and numerous screenplays, I can state that with some authority.

Thankfully, having been writing for some considerable time now I tend to be far more optimistic and far from fearing the blank page, I love it! For one very specific reason: it signifies power. Power to create anything I want to create be it non-fiction, fiction, thriller, comedy, male, female, sex, crime, football… anything.

A blank page gives me freedom to develop characters and make them do whatever I want them to do be it good, bad or even evil. I can make them love, hate or even kill them off, horribly if I want. And all of that comes from nothing other than my imagination. How can anyone not find that exciting?

That, in essence, is exactly what I’m facing at the moment. For having just completed work on the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy, today I start work on a new novel.

It’s a thriller I’ve been planning for a while and having read over the numerous notes I’ve made over the last few years, it’s going to be great fun to work on.

Blank page… don’t be frightened of it, love it. It’s everything any writer could ever want.

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, burlesque

Despite being over 18 years old, The Crew and Top Dog continue to sell well with the former continuing to inhabit the #1 slot on its Amazon chart. Indeed the new book will bring the character of Billy Evans right up to date and if I say so myself (although I don’t because my beta readers have told me) it’s a cracker. I’ll have news of publication dates as soon as my publisher lets me know!

Finally, thanks to everyone who continues to contact me about Wings of a Sparrow which also continues to do well in both paperback and eBook formats. Having recently sold the film rights, I’m seriously hoping that we’ll soon see it make the leap to the big screen.

screenwriter, screenwriting, author, self-publishing, green street, top dog, british film, gangsters, the krays, hooligans, collymore, troll, trolling

 

Why writing your endings first can solve your plotting problems.

panster, writing, screenplay, authorThe other day, I mentioned the subject of pantsting and have had a number of mails asking me what it’s all about.

In essence, pantsting is a method of writing where you put together the very basics of a plot and then just run at it. Or to put it another way, you write by the seat of your pants.

This is generally the method I use for all my projects be they book or script because as I have previously mentioned, the majority of them are sparked off by ideas I’ve had for dramatic endings. As a consequence, everything else I’ll pour into a story is about getting the characters to a point I already have firmly fixed in my mind (or indeed, will almost certainly have developed and written to the point where it will remain pretty much untouched right through to the end of the process) and so I can make their journey as simple or as complicated as I want.

Of course, as the journey unfolds and my characters begin to take on lives and personalities of their own, I will invariably get to the point where I’ll have to go back to the beginning and start again but this isn’t as bad as it sounds. For by the time I’ve finished what would be classed as a first draft, I’ve probably rewritten most of it at least three or four times and have characters which are reasonably well formed.

That usually means it’ll be good enough to send to an independent reader for some feedback and for someone like me who hates rewriting scripts without notes, that really is a god send!

But, as mentioned previously, no matter how many rewrites I go through, the ending will always remain pretty damn close to the one that originally sparked off the idea. For as anyone with any sense knows, when it comes to thrillers, endings are always the most important part of all!

After all, they sell the next book.

On which note, the third book in The Crew/Top Dog trilogy will be released in May 2020 and entitled In The Know.

It’s a hairs breath from being finished and it’s a cracker, even if I say so myself (which I don’t, because a few people have already read through the opening chapters and they’re saying that as well!)

 

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolIn the meantime, my numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

@dougiebrimson

Trolled on Twitter? Sorry, it’s your own fault.

twitter, troll, trolling, writer, green street, top dog, As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I am a huge fan.

To me it’s a great source of both news and amusement as well as being a fantastic way to promote my books and well, what I do. Most importantly for me at least, it’s a great way to interact with both readers and football fans and it’s fair to say that I’ve made some great mates though twitter with I hope, many more to come.

However, I’ve also encountered some proper dicks over the years and received more than my share of abuse from all kinds of trolls. In recent months for example, besides the usual ‘shit writer’ fair I’ve been accused of condoning child abuse, being sexist, homophobic and racist amongst other things. None of which is particularly nice I’m sure you’ll agree but, and this is the crux of this whole matter, I know how to deal with it. And by that I mean me. Not twitter, not my ISP and not the police, but me.

And at the heart of that is one simple statement, ‘it’s not personal, it’s Twitter’.

The day you start screaming blue murder about something mean said about you by some anonymous idiot on a social networking site is the day your life begins to spiral out of control. No, it’s not nice to be accused of being a Nazi and I’m fairly certain that it’s not nice to read that someone wants to rape you or burn you alive but by reacting, you do exactly what the person who wrote it wants you to do. You give them power by taking them seriously.  And power is all they’re after.

This is where people are getting it wrong when they claim Twitter should be clamping down on trolls because Twitter doesn’t have to. You do, as the individual. It’s called taking personal responsibility.

Would you walk down a dark alley in  a dodgy area in the middle of the night? No. Would you leave you front door wide open if you went on holiday? No. You take appropriate action to protect yourself.

So why don’t you apply that same thinking when it comes to social media?

Ignore, delete, block. Those three words should be beaten into the brains of everyone who uses either Twitter or Facebook because those three actions place you totally in control of what appears on your feeds.

And if it’s not on your feed, why do you care? Seriously, why?

Social media isn’t like real life. If someone is bad mouthing you to colleagues at work, there are processes in place to deal with it. If you’re having trouble with neighbours, then you tackle it face to face or if it’s beyond that, involve the authorities.

But social media is nothing more than simple words. And unlike sticks and stones, they don’t break bones.

Yes, of course there are exceptions just as there are to every rule and yes, there will be instances where Twitter PLC or even the law should and must get involved. However, in the main it’s a personal choice to react, ignore, delete or simply hit either the mute or block button which Twitter already provide for you to use in just such cases.

If you don’t understand that and don’t accept that in many ways, Twitter is the greatest manifestation of free speech we have, then rather than scream blue murder about the need for censorship (yes, censorship) why not take total control yourself and employ the ultimate sanction, delete your account.

Because you do actually have that option at your disposal and speaking as a Twitter fan, if you do indeed think that social media is there to serve you and not the other way round, then I’d urge you to do just that.

I for one won’t miss you one bit.

@dougiebrimson

crew, violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, necrophilia,
The Crew. Still #1

I never get bored of saying this, truly, I don’t. A huge thanks to everyone who is keeping The Crew at (or very close to) the #1 spot on the Amazon and iTunes sports charts. We’re now approaching the end of our 10th year at the top of the tree which however you look at it, is quite something.

Top Dog is also sitting pretty as are most of my other titles which proves what I said years ago, that if you give people what they want as opposed to what you hope they might like, they’ll buy it.

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

beer, lads, women, men, relationships, sex, love, romance, author, screenwriting, ebooks, self publishing, indie film, football, twitter, trolls, trolling, facebook, social media

 

 

So, you want to be a writer.

When I first started out on what is laughingly called my writing career, I imagined that at some point, I would end up sitting somewhere warm doing pretty much sod all whilst my bank account was being drip fed a steady stream of royalty payments.

This money would then be spent fuelling my passions for motorcycles, stock car racing and Adidas Gazelles with the remainder being wasted on expensive holidays and flash restaurants. Sadly, it has not turned out like that.

Instead, like most writers battling against the combined curses of mid-list anonymity and the explosion of electronic publishing, I find myself working long hours developing new projects whilst waiting for decisions from people who are either barely qualified to make them or are simply too terrified to. These days, saying ‘no’ is both easier and safer than saying ‘yes’ or even ‘maybe’.

Given that I am keen to eat once in a while (well, this belly doesn’t maintain itself!) what this means in real terms is that since time is one of only two tools I have for the generation of income (the other being what could jokingly be called ‘talent’) it has become an extremely valuable commodity. One which once consumed, is irreplaceable.

I mention this not in an effort to elicit any kind of sympathy but for a very specific reason. For I recently read an amazing article by a best-selling American writer called Leslie Banks in which she talked about the demands placed on a writer’s time and in particular, the value placed on that time by other people. And what she says is correct.

Abso-fucking-lutely correct.

You see, like most writers I receive a steady stream of unsolicited mails from people asking for either help or advice and in the main I’ve always welcomed these and been happy to help if I can. After all, we all started somewhere right?

Recently however, increasing numbers of these mails have gone beyond simple questions about the basics of writing or publishing into requests to critique whole manuscripts, help find an agent and/or publisher or even come on board to help develop a project from scratch. This would be fine were there ever the offer of any money to carry out this work but this is rarely, if ever the case. Remember that, because I will return to it in a moment.

I’d also ask you to consider another point raised by the fabulous Ms Banks. For like her I rarely read anything else whilst I’m writing because I have learned from experience that if I do, I tend to adopt that authors style in my own work. But equally, whatever I’m reading sinks into my brain and on one occasion, something actually fell out of my subconscious and made it onto a page I’d written. Thankfully, I caught it whilst editing but supposing I hadn’t noticed it and it had made it into print only to be picked up by some eagle eyed reader who went on to point it out to the offended author. Can you imagine?

Indeed, with more and more people paranoid about the theft of ideas, it’s only a matter of time before a writer is dragged into court and accused of ripping off a plot line.

Now, put all this together and you might start to understand why more and more writers are not simply reluctant to respond to requests for help but are becoming increasingly angry about them. Because when that mail drops in my inbox what it’s actually asking is “Dear Mr Brimson, can I take advantage of your 20 odd years worth of experience and a shed load of your time to offer you the opportunity to risk getting sued to shit and back? Oh, and can you do it all for free?”

Not exactly the most attractive proposition and in all honesty, it’s actually quite insulting. After all, would you go to any other experienced professional and ask for their time free of charge? What do you think a lawyer would say to that? Or a plumber? What would you say if I came to you at your place of work and asked for something on a non-existent account? I rest my case.

So the bottom line is this; if you want to be a writer, then write. And if you want to be a published author or a credited screenwriter, then as you write, learn. Learn about the delights of plotting, the fineries of character arcs, the stress of editing, the nightmare of pitching, the complexities of contracts, the (occasional) thrill of PR, the gut-wrenching pain of rejection and the never-ending irritation of waiting.

But if you want to circumnavigate any of that and take advantage of someone else’s experience, then be prepared to put your hand in your pocket. It might cost you in the short-term but it will almost certainly save you an awful lot of both angst and time in the long terms.

And as Leslie Banks says only too well, time is money. My money.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

screenwriting, author, publishing, british film, football, soccer, sport, politics, work, green street, gang, hooligan,