Video Blog (or “Vlog”, coz’ I’m lazy!)

Hey guys.

I thought I’d drop a link to my first ever Video Blog on YouTube. If you want to watch it, go ahead and click the video below! In it I talk about my new book (All Inclusive), its release date and other fascinating, heart-stopping revelations that you won’t find anywhere else!

I’m probably gonna do a lot more of these, even though they take longer to create than a standard blog post, but seeing that everyone is so obsessed with YouTube and the people on it, I thought I’d become one of them!

I’ll make sure to post the videos here when I publish them, so you don’t miss the amazing, uber original, never before seen video content!

Hope you enjoy,

Lots of love,

Luis!

Give Up the Day Job & Chase Your Dreams!

Life’s too short to be a wage slave…unless you like that sort of thing.

 

man-phone-elegantMoney makes the world go round, but dreams are the glue that bind us…

Success is a funny thing. It can be quite elusive. It can also be jaded, like an ex-lover that you used to enjoy tumbling around with. And just like that ex-lover of yours, the way you saw him/her was as clear as day at the time of courtship. But then something happened. Life got in the way. It has a habit of doing that. It’s a mightily intrusive habit, but it happens pretty much every single day.

Usually, before life decides to slap you in the face, and distract you from the true meaning of your existence, you have a pretty good idea of where you are at. Because quite frankly, you’re no dummy. You know yourself better than anybody else. Sure, not everything is perfect, but then again, what is perfect?

That lover of yours used to be. Until you let that nagging voice in your head tell you otherwise. What started out as quirks and blemishes on their otherwise perfect persona soon transformed and manifested into an annoying grievance that you could not stomach any more.

You also ended up letting the nagging voices of your loved ones overshadow your true feelings toward that ex of yours. Before you can say Charlie Sheen, both of you have split up and moved on to the next distraction of life.

Thus goes the usual pattern of modern day living. I know what you’re thinking though. This was supposed to be about quitting your day job and chasing your dreams, wasn’t it?

The more observant of you out there would have clocked the fact that I’m talking in metaphors. The truth is, you can use the ex-partner metaphor in all manner of things relating to us and our deep-seated desires.

We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we are all imperfect. It is that imperfectness that leads to regretful decisions being made. Decisions that the majority of people will end up regretting once they’re facing their mortality seconds before they leave this earth for good.

I’ve always been the sort of person that threw caution to the wind. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that I’m quite lackadaisical when it comes to commitment and discipline. It was this laziness, as some of my friends and family saw it, that led me to start a career in self-publishing.

The truth is, I never felt as if I could stomach going to a 9-to-5 job five days a week and only having the weekend to live my life as I saw fit. Unfortunately, a lot of us are left without much of an ultimatum. It’s either work the 9-to-5 or starve.

Most people obviously choose to eat.

I didn’t though. I chose to take a risk. Five years ago, I decided that I was going to become a best-selling author. I started plugging away at my first novel. After around 75,000 words, I self-edited it and released it into the wild.

Two things happened. One: I got loads of bad reviews. Two: I made £10 in my first month. Now, most people in my situation would have probably become a little disheartened upon reading such scathing reviews of their work. But I was blinded by a vision that I’d had. A vision that I could make money doing something I liked.

So I continued. I wrote and wrote and wrote, never stopping and never giving up. Something strange happened. That £10 a month soon turned into £100, and then £1000. It was incredible to think that at any given moment, there was most likely somebody reading one of my stories.

I couldn’t quite believe it. I’d made it. I’d managed to make something of myself. Self-made, self-driven. But then the metaphorical ex-partner entered my life. Life itself was about to smack me in the face. I’d grown accustomed to a certain amount of success. And in a way, I became jaded.

Complacency manifested deep within me. I began to lose sight of why I even began writing in the first place. It was so I could be free. Free from oppression. Free from the unknown. Free from the man. But I became a prisoner in my own bubble. A bubble that was about to burst because of my own doing.

Two months ago, I was in crisis. My usually stellar sales had dropped. Dramatically. As usual, life was here to throw its weight around. It was here to remind me that dreams are just that — dreams, nothing less, and more precisely, nothing more.

I began to listen. And then I began to lose my grip on my future.

The nagging voice was louder than it had ever been before. I was listening to it. Taking in everything it said. Until it told me to give up. To throw the towel in. To start blaming other people for my shortcomings.

And that’s what I did. I gave up on hope. I gave up on making something of myself, even though I’d lived through success already. I’d seen what determination could do. I saw what saying yes to your dreams could accomplish. And then I threw the towel in because I was scared of losing everything.

Panicking, I did something I thought I never would. I decided to get a “real job.” I hoped that this would solve my problems. I was only seeing things in financial terms. Now, don’t get me wrong, when you’re scared whether or not you’re going to pay the rent, thinking money makes sense. But that’s all I was thinking. And as many of you know, that’s all that people measure success by these days.

Money is the bar. And we all reach for it on a daily basis. Most of us shoot way past it, missing it entirely. Some of us are lucky to get a goal in once in a while. But to use another metaphor, it’s not just the bar or the goal that’s important.

It’s the ball. It’s the player. It’s the pitch. It’s the stadium. It’s the league.

It’s you.

Just because you don’t always score doesn’t mean that goals aren’t worth pursuing. And I’d lost sight of that. I transferred myself off the pitch and onto the bench, ready to wait in line like everybody else for their turn. But once you’re on the bench, it’s hard to get off it. Because there are 11 other blokes stealing the spotlight and controlling the game.

You’ll end up waiting for one of them to get tired. But even then, if you make it back onto the pitch, it’s just for 10 minutes or so. And then it’s the end of the game. And you’ll be back on the reserve team.

That’s what happened to me. I lost sight of the goal and the game. I got scared and threw away my freedom to chase my dream. And it’s a dream that I built from nothing into something truly magnificent. I was able to pay countless rent checks and food bills with my dream. The moment I began to lose sight of that is when things took a turn for the worse.

When you start thinking in terms of pounds and pence, you risk losing sight of what really matters; progression. Think of life like a video game. You’re the main character. And the aim of the game is to get to the boss level with all of your health intact.

There may be a few health potions on the way, but resources are scarce. Decisions need to be made. Do you turn left or do you turn right? Do you take the shortcut through the haunted forest, or do you trundle across the bridge where the mutant trolls are hanging out?

These are the decisions that all of us have to make.

Are we in control of the game, or is Player One away from the keyboard taking a leak?

I’ve spoken a lot about metaphors in this post. And for the more impatient people out there reading this, they’re probably expecting some sort of big reveal to cap off this article…well, sorry to disappoint. I’m gonna keep things pretty elementary. There’s only really one point to this post, and it’s not about gaining contact with your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s about taking risks and not allowing things to become “ex” in the process.

Remember that success comes in many forms. But the easiest way to decipher whether you are successful or not is if you can’t help smiling knowing that you’re one of the lucky ones. Shoot for that feeling. By whatever means necessary.

It’s up to you to make it to the boss battle in one piece. Before you know it, it’s game over and there’s no respawns.

Don’t be caught with your pants down. COMPLETE THE GAME.

 

Dealing with criticism: the wonderful life of an indie author!

 

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Hello dear constant reader, and a big shout out to all the aspiring authors out there!

My name is Luis Samways, and you may remember me from such books as Stasis and the Frank McKenzie mystery series, among many others (nearly 30 novels!).

I’ve been doing this writing thing for a long while now. And the one thing that I’ve learned from my time at the grindstone is that criticism will be a big part of your career.

It’s been a big part of mine… that’s for sure. 

Let me get one thing straight, first; writing books is difficult. Putting your work out there for others to read is one of the bravest things that anybody can do. Because we all know that when we create something, we made it with the intention of either entertaining somebody, or shining a light on our own personality through the characters in what we’ve just written.

And when somebody comes about and reads your book, then leaves an unfavorable review on Amazon, or any other book website, it can get you a little bit down. Trust me, I know from experience. I myself have received plenty of one-star reviews. Some of them the most scathing put-downs I’ve ever received. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it feels like I’m back in high school, and I’m the nerd kid that the popular kids use as a punchbag.

That’s what it feels like to get bad reviews. Well, that’s what it feels like at the start. You end up investing so much time in the characters in your books that you begin to lose sight of what really matters. Yes – it would be nice if people were a little bit more gentle when it came to the critical nuances of one’s work, but at the end of the day, all readers are different.

And all of their tastes vary significantly.

To quote that famous saying; one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. And I’m just grateful that my trash can sometimes be viewed as someone’s treasure. That’s the position that I take on critical reviews these days. Obviously, when a book receives an abundance of critical reviews, stating the same things, punctuation, spelling, grammar, or maybe the story wasn’t all that and was missing a few things, then one does need to take the steps to rectify one’s own writing so that it doesn’t occur again.

But then again, you cannot please everybody all of the time. And that’s one thing I have learned greatly from this journey of discovery that we call being a self-published writer in the modern age of the Internet. For a long time, I took all bad reviews to heart. And to be honest, I still do. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t read new reviews when they pop up. I tend to gloss over the good ones because it’s the bad ones that really get me thinking. But that’s normal. It’s normal to be a little neurotic when it comes to one’s own work.

After all, it’s our babies that we put out there into the universe. Our babies are precious to us. And when someone doesn’t like our babies, calls them ugly, stupid, useless and a waste of money, then it can affect our self-esteem. But I’m here to tell you that if I, Luis Samways, can survive the barrages of negativity that has come my way since starting this career of mine, then anybody can.

I’m probably what people would call a polarizing author. My books tend to split opinion down the middle. Some people love it, and some people hate it. But, and this is a big but, people are talking about my work. And that’s what counts. Because that’s half the battle when it comes to becoming a writer. Getting people to recognize you, your work, and what you stand for. Sure, I’d love to be universally loved and adored like George RR Martin, but at the end of the day, some things just aren’t meant to be.

So if I had any advice for you aspiring authors out there, it is this: grow a thick skin. Because you are going to need it. The world is a cold and unforgiving place. And the Internet is -100° of ice-cold digs, digs that get under your skin and make you question whether or not you are doing the right thing. But that’s a good thing. It’s good to always be kept on the tip of your toes.

I know plenty of indie authors that get better reviews than me, but they lag in the sales charts. Why? Because there are people out there that don’t feel strongly about their work. And feeling strongly about an author’s work doesn’t necessarily only mean that you like their work. To feel strongly about an author’s work in a negative light is also a good thing. Because it starts a conversation. A conversation between readers. A conversation that you are the subject of.

And there’s nothing better than seeing fans of your work defend you against your detractors. But also, there’s nothing better than seeing your detractors rip you to shreds, just to see your ever faithful readers assemble for the good fight, ready to defend your faults and flaws.

So, if I’m ever to give any advice other than just getting a thick skin to any authors out there, I’d like to also add this to the table: it’s a good idea to embrace what you are. Embrace your faults and your flaws. Embrace what people say about you. And learn from the mistakes that you make. That’s what I did, and that’s what many before me have done.

We don’t have to deal with rejection letters anymore from the publishers and gatekeepers. But, rejection still exists. And it exists within the bowels of Amazon’s review system. So one needs to come to terms with that fact. And once you do come to terms with the truth, then and only then can you enjoy your life as a writer.

Because it’s a tough one. And it can be a lonely one. But it’s also fulfilling one. It’s a life where you can bring joy and anger to a bunch of voracious readers on the Internet. And in return for that anger and that joy, you can get paid handsomely for your efforts. But it’s not only about the money. It’s about knowing that you tried your best, and made something that was worth making. Even if in the long run, a few people disagree with your creative decisions.

Keep on fighting the good fight people. Keep on following your dreams. And above all, keep on writing.

Luis out.

The power of surprising your readers!

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The power of surprising one’s readers is a skill that every writer should be familiar with. Part of the difficulty in writing a novel is that it’s a long and sometimes arduous process. Once you’ve written sixty or seventy thousand words, you’ll most likely be spent. (I sure am!)

When you finally sit down and start reading your book, you’ll notice either one of two things; you made it too predictable, or you put so many plot twists in there, that you’re even surprising yourself!

So, what do you do? Do you settle for a well-structured plot, one that makes sense? Or do you go balls to the wall, and throw a tonne of false twists and turns in, trying to keep your readers guessing?

Well, I guess I’m an in the middle type of guy. When I started writing books for a living, I was the opposite. I was into throwing a tsunami of twists into my books, sometimes just for the hell of it, and the results were sometimes a little underwhelming. (Or overwhelming, depends how you look at it.)

After doing this for a while (nearly five years) I’ve come to the conclusion that surprising your reader can come in many different forms. It doesn’t have to be related to a plot twist, or an unsuspected character reveal. It could just be the setting of the book or the mentality of the main character.

I for one get excited when reading a book that comes a little out of left-field, where the whole plot and storyline are kind of wacky, where it hasn’t really been done before. I know that there are plenty of people out there that believe that there is no such thing as an original thought, but I disagree. Most things in life, including stories, film, and music, are things that influenced us in some way.

But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t original. Just because Godzilla was made before Cloverfield, doesn’t mean Cloverfield isn’t its own beast in its own right! So surprising a reader doesn’t necessarily have to be about something super original. It could be the fact that your book isn’t just another Billionaire Romance novel! That in itself is probably a big enough twist to get your book noticed by somebody, hahah!

For anyone out there that’s struggling with the idea of filling your book with surprising twists and turns, here are a few pointers, things I use when I start writing a novel, things that help me determine whether or not my book will stick out from the rest.

  • A novel needs to have a killer angle, and whilst most writers tend to think that the angle must be plot specific, only true writers know that it can be as subtle as the way a character speaks, or interacts with the world, thus changing a reader’s mind on something, or even securing a bond between the reader and the character.
  • Plot twists should not be forced. They should surprise you as much as they surprise whoever is reading your novel.
  • Manufacturing a twist just to breathe life into a bloated story won’t cover up the fact that the reader had to sit through 400 pages of shite before it got good.
  • Plotting has to do with pace, and pace doesnt always mean fast, it’s good to slow down once in a while.
  • Pushing the envolope so to speak will help manifest a story that is already full of interesting and surprising scenes. Going for a plain old murder mystery isnt enough, you need something special, and if it isnt special, then you need to make it so.

I hope these tips will help any of you looking to inject some life into your novels, but as ever, everything is subjective, and if you think I’m just talking crap, then that’s fine.

You wouldn’t be the first to say so!

Until next time,

Much love,

Luis.

Another New Year, another new website!

Hello, dear readers!

As the more observant of you can probably tell, I have moved my website to a new hosting service (WordPress.) The reason I’ve done so is that I’ve become a little disenfranchised with my previous host. The features just weren’t there to bring a good web experience to my readers, so I decided to ship everything over to my old blog.

I’ve re-routed the domain name so anybody looking for my previous website will land on this one instead. The place is looking a little bare at the moment, but I’m hoping to rectify that soon. I’ll be regularly blogging on this website, and will soon enough be posting writing tips for all you aspiring writers out there.

For the longest time now, I’ve wanted to expand my online platform a little. But I’ve been too focused on the whole writing novels thing to blog or just chill out on my website. This year I’ve decided to be a little more open about my process and begin experimenting in different ways, hopefully entertaining you along the way.

I’ll also be diving into the world of Wattpad soon, and hope to bring my long-time readers some interesting content, for free.

Besides from the new blog and website move, I’ve been on a break from working for a while (through the Christmas period) and ended up taking a month off (alright for some, I know!)

But now I’m back on the grind, and working on a new novel (possible series) that will hopefully be published by a real publisher! (Naming no names yet, but if all goes to plan, then the book will be my first ever properly published novel, obviously if it doesn’t end up getting published “properly” then I guess I’ll just have to self-publish!)  Nothing wrong with that, self-publishing has afforded me my living, so I ain’t complaining.

I’ve got a slew of content lined up this year, and have also got a few non-writing related side-projects I’m working on. When the time’s right, I’ll let you lovely folks know, but for now, I’m afraid I’ve got to get back to tapping on the keyboard!

I hope you all had a great Christmas,

Much love,

Luis.

Productivity in the workplace

Hello everybody,

Luis Samways here, uber best-selling crime author (maybe not uber, but at least semi-uber), and I’m here with another blog post! I kept my word guys, this is my second blog post in a week! Not, a month or a year, but a week! Out of all my achievements as an author (uber status being one of them), I am more proud of the fact that I am managing to actually write a blog post! Sounds silly doesn’t it? But you’d understand where I’m coming from if you spent as much time surfing the internet as I do when in reality I’m supposed to be slamming words down on the page so I can keep my deadline, or Amazon takes away my pre-order capability for a year! (Wow, that was a long sentence, good job my editor cant see it or she’d be charging me double!)

Anyway, I suppose we should get to the meat and potatoes of this post. I’m here to talk about productivity and how, if you’re like me, can you knuckle down and get some work done? Also at the end of this post, I’ll give you faithful readers a quick update on which books of mine are out and what’s coming next.

So, five tips on productivity. Bullet point style!

  • Turn the damn internet off whilst you are working on your books, or like me, you’ll end up updating your blog when you should really be hammering down some storytelling bro!
  • Give yourself a target and hit that target. Be it 1000 words, 2000 words or even 5000 words. (I try and hit 3000 words a day. But in the end, what matters is that you’re writing, so any target reached is something to be happy about!
  • When you’re stuck and get writers block, don’t switch on YouTube to watch cat videos, instead read something that will inspire you!
  • Don’t spend half the day checking your KDP account for sales, borrows, or freebies. I do it all the time and it’s silly.
  • At the end of a hard writing session treat yourself with something nice. If that’s watching a movie or playing some PlayStation (I play games to wind down). You need to reward yourself for your hard work. No need in burning the batteries out and having no fun!

So there’s my tips for productivity today. You never know, might make this into a series, go a little deeper. I would stay and chat some more, but I have work to do and just realised that the 500 words I used to write this post could have gone into Wide Awake!

But as promised, here’s a quick update on what’s out from me and what’s coming next.

JUST RELEASED (WELL, SORT OF)

15 SIGNS OF MURDER – my new boxed set on kindle. Has fifteen of my books in it. It’s quite massive and is available for 99 cents. If you’ve read any of my other boxed sets (including 12 Rounds) then you would have read a few of the books in 15 signs of murder. Bear in mind though, even if you’ve read 12 rounds and haven’t picked up any of my other books, then 15 Signs of murder contains three novels to read with a saving of five bucks compared to buying those novels separately! I’d say that’s a good deal!

Update on progress on Wide Awake:

I’m 30k ish words in and am feeling it. This one is a bit of a slow-burner. Not used to building suspense, but I hope it comes out well and people enjoy it! I should hit the target no problem, but I’m thinking this one might fall shy of 200 pages. I cant force content if it isn’t there. Hopefully people wont notice!

Anything else?

Nah not really. Peace be with you and I’ll catch you soon. Don’t forget to check out my website if you’re accessing this blog on luissamwayscentral!

Peace!

Links:

15 Signs Of Murder US

15 Signs Of Murder UK

My Amazon.com author page

My Amazon.co.uk author Page

Wide Awake Pre-Order US

Wide Awake Pre-Order UK

www.luissamways.com