Friday, 28 September 2012

Reviews of 'Cawnpore'

Following my post with some short reviews of The White Rajah, I thought I'd post some of the comments about Cawnpore. Most of the reviews are quite long, so I'm just putting some excerpts. Do you think any of you can come up with a comment about the book in less than 50 words?

Evocative and haunting. I couldn't put this book down. Not only is it a solid account of the tragic events at Cawnpore, it's a rattling good adventure and a gentle, understated love story. It's one I'll return to. 
               - Goodreads

In short, this is a fine work of historical fiction, faithful to the events but able to reveal far more about them through the interpolation of self reflective fictional characters.                                                    
 - Goodreads

It has a personal narrative that moves beyond the preconceptions of LGBT fiction and approaches that ranks of Sarah Waters in storytelling.                                                                                                
 - Goodreads

This is a very well presented book; I can find no errors. The author has researched this subject well and obviously has a fondness for this era of history. For anyone who has a love for this period, Cawnpore is probably one for you.                                                                                      
 – Historical Novel Society

Overall, I found the story compelling and a surprisingly easy read given the difficult and multi-faceted subject matter. The author expertly dissects and lays out the intricacies of the complex interactions between the British Raj and East India Company with the locals; the simmeCaring tensions between them are well written as the convoluted social-polical structures of the Local Muslim / Hindu populations with the religious differences; the caste system and the contentious doctrine of lapse are well construed.               
– Amazon

And, from a blog posting I saw only this morning:

The very best historical fiction involves you in its characters' stories whilst teaching you about the historical background in a non lecturing way. Cawnpore does exactly that. I knew very little about the Indian Mutiny and had not even heard of the siege at Cawnpore so I have learned something while enjoying the story.  The narrator, John Williamson is in a unique position to see the conflict from both sides. This is done very cleverly by the author and the narrative had me hooked from the very first page. The character of the narrator comes through very strongly. He is every inch the formal Englishman and he writes in a very formal unsentimental way, yet we still see the strength of his feelings and the inner turmoil as he is forced to decide where his loyalties lie. There are no flowery descriptive passages, but the scene is set skilfully. As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed this novel. Highly recommended. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Reviews (again)

A couple of months ago, a friend said that I should get more reviews of my book. "All you need is a couple of hundred reviews and you could be just like Shades of Grey." 

Well, yes. Yes I could. In fact, if everyone who had promised they would write a review for me had actually done so, I'd be well on my way there. 

There's all kinds of reasons that people don't write reviews. Some people find that the technology defeats them. They just need to go to Amazon, find my books (they're HERE and HERE), and click on 'Write a customer review'. (It's at the top of the 'Customer Reviews' section, just after the author information.)

If you want to post a review at Goodreads as well, that would be nice.

A lot of people, though, say that they have no idea how to write a review. It only needs to be twenty words. Here's some examples of short reviews of The White Rajah that people have posted.

I was really surprised how much I liked this book  as it is not my usual type at all. The main character James Brooke really lived and this fleshes out his extraordinary thrilling and deeply moving story in Borneo .It is excellently written and very highly recommended.

Read this book whilst on Holiday in Mexico. Whilst not an avid reader and certainly not my favourite genre of novel it had been recommended to me. I found this book a splendid read, extremely well written and researched. A thoroughly absorbing read which left me wanting to read more about this extraordinary man. If in two minds whether to purchase it buy it you won't be disappointed.

Ripping yarn. A fictionalised account of the life of James Brooke who had a key role in shaping the trading port that is now Kuching, the capital of Sarawak in Borneo, Malaysia. I read it prior to holidaying in Kuching and it made a very entertaining and informative prelude to our travels. Worth reading regardless, but a great way to get some context if you're travelling to Borneo.

I loved this book. At first I was wary since I don't usually read naval stories. While the story does have a naval backdrop, it's really about power, revenge, politics, and love. When I finished the book, I wished there was a sequel!

PLEASE post reviews. They make such a difference.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

An unashamed plug for someone else

Michael Timothy is a fellow skater and, more importantly to you, an excellent musician. His debut CD has just come out.

There's lots of samples here. Give it a listen. And if you like it, buy it. (But only after you've bought my books.)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Beware of imitations

'Cawnpore', a novel by Scott Rhymer, has just been self-published. It will shortly be available on Amazon. Please note that this is NOT my book. 'Cawnpore', published by JMS Books, appears under my own name: Tom Williams. You can buy it here (or here, if you're not in the UK). 'Cawnpore' is also available as an e-book.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

An Author's Life

So the summer holidays have ended. With the rain finally stopping (more or less) and the sun coming out, we've been getting out of London as much as we can. This was Cornwall. Who knew that England could be so beautiful once the sun shines?
Cliff walk, near Penzance.
Anyway, now that the fun is over, I have to get on with this "trying to make it as an author" business. Gosh, it's complicated. It makes me almost pine for the straightforward awfulness of the years I spent doing (sort of) regular work.

I always wanted to write a novel and, back at the end of 2010, The White Rajah finally saw the light of day. It was published by JMS Books, who are an independent (read "tiny") publisher in the USA. This meant that, though JMS did a really good job on producing the paperback and getting the e-book onto Amazon and zillions of other websites, there wasn't any marketing budget and you're unlikely to see it in a bookstore. (Though some really well-known stores, like Foyles, do stock it.) Still, despite not a lot of people hearing of it, The White Rajah got decent reviews including coverage in The Bloomsbury Review. JMS were pleased enough to ask for a sequel and so, at the end of February this year, they published Cawnpore.

Meanwhile, I was working on revising a book I started ages ago. Called His Majesty's Confidential Agent, it's a very different kettle of fish from the two novels published so far. Publishers who turned down The White Rajah said they thought it was "too difficult" and my agent (yes, I even had an agent before he decided to represent people whose books would be easier to sell) suggested I do something more cheerful. I had thought of advertising Cawnpore as "will make you cry or your money back" so you can see that it wasn't quite what my agent had in mind. Instead, I wrote another book, set about fifty years earlier and featuring a dashing hero who duels with evil villains, wins beautiful ladies and finally puts Johnny Foreigner in his place. It's based on a true story and it's a lot of fun and pretty sure not to make you cry. All I have to do now is to find a new agent who thinks there might be room for it in a world where any novel not including sado-masochistic porn seems to start at a marked disadvantage.

What people fondly imagine writers do is write their books, but it doesn't quite work like that. The books I have out already won't sell themselves, so a lot of my time is spent trying to help them along. Much as I enjoy chatting to you, dear reader, the principal reason for this blog is to encourage you to read the books and, if you've read them to review them and tell everyone how wonderful they are.

Besides writing the blog, I chat to other writers online and try to learn from them. Some, like S A Meade, have been kind enough to support my book and I try to return the compliment from time to time. I pester libraries and I turn up at any book groups that will have me.

Besides trying to sell the books that are already out there, I'm trying to find an agent for His Majesty's Confidential Agent. That's a soul-destroying business, involving researching possible agents, writing desperate letters begging them to look at your masterpiece and then waiting two months (more if they're busy) before getting a reply that starts, "We are sorry that we are unable to respond individually..." Actually, I have begun to get personalised rejection letters, which is a definite step up the food chain. But my research suggests that on average successful authors (ie those who eventually get representation) can expect to be rejected by around 40 agents before they strike lucky. And, after each rejection (besides the deep depression and suicide attempts), the synopsis and the covering letter are tweaked, the sample chapters are re-read and edited (again) and a virgin is sacrificed at the full moon (increasingly tricky, given the times we live in).

Meanwhile, I am researching another book. I often think I should have gone in for crime writing or vampire tales, where you don't have to spend forever reading accounts of life in the Far East under the Raj or checking the uniforms worn by the Native Infantry on the North West Frontier. At least if I was working on Twenty Shades of Magnolia the research might be more fun. I'm looking at two possible areas. There's Britain in around 1860, if John Williamson is given another airing, or the Napoleonic Wars, if I'm going to start a sequel to His Majesty's Confidential Agent and cross my fingers that the first one sees the light of day. Both periods have a lot to offer and I'm torn. Of course, I could just write something completely different, but the commercial reality is that series sell and I don't think I could bear to be hawking two different novels around agents at the same time. Do you, dear reader, have any suggestions? Spying and skulduggery in the world of Trafalgar and Waterloo, or dirty deeds in Dickensian London? Let me know if you have any preferences.

So, there we are: the life of a modern author. Next time you say, "That must be fun, just sitting and writing your books all day," don't be surprised when you are stabbed with a quill pen. The Mystery of the Critic's Pen. I wonder... Let me just check what kind of quill they wrote with in 1862.