Just Finished…Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Uglies

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license – for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

The choice Tally makes changes her world forever…

Uglies, Cover

This was a well-written book, but I have to say I just really didn’t buy into the concept, story and characters as much as I thought I would. It felt like some things happened, just because they HAD to… I found it difficult to get beyond a superficial reading, just as I found the first half of the book (the ‘pretty’ focused part) superficial. Tally wasn’t my favourite choice as a heroine: she was fickle, easily persuaded, but then chose to be stubborn at the most ridiculous moments… I know ‘uglies’ were meant to have been coddled in their city life, but it felt very unrealistic to me. In general, I felt Shay was more committed and questioning than Tally. In a couple of scenes, I did really believe in Tally, particularly the one where she sits in front of the mirror examining the detail and imperfections of her face – that felt very ‘real’ and is something I imagine all teenage girls do at some point, criticising the reflection that stares back at them. But, for me it was one of the only scenes we saw any depth to Tally’s character. Beyond this, she was just a name to me, faceless rather than ugly.

The dystopian world around Uglyville and New Pretty Town (yes, those are names of places…) the former world of the Rusties, was more realistic for me and there were interesting elements: the parasite in oil that destroyed the old world; the desertification of huge areas, through GM crop mistakes; the Smoke was also reasonable for a survivalist camp. I enjoyed the second part of the book much more than the first and some of the characters introduced (such as David and his parents) we’re good.

Some things jarred in the narration for me: a description of Tally feeling like she was graduating from riding a tricycle to a motorbike… In a world that didn’t have motorbikes – how could that feeling being attributed to her character? The language of their world became hard going at times, everything pretty or ugly… And every name of a group: Smokies, Pretties, Uglies, Rusties… I would have appreciated some more variety.

Overall, it is a quick read and written well-enough to keep the story going. It just wasn’t realistic enough a world for me for a dystopian. If they wanted pliable citizens, why do they give the Uglies so much freedom? Why do Pretty Rangers help Smokies? Why do they allow law breakers back into their system, but are ruthless with the Smokies? It’s possible that all these questions might be answered in book 2, but as I already know that is set firmly in Pretty Town, I’m not sure I can face it… It’s what the future looks like if we all turn into the cast of TOWIE – so maybe it IS a dystopian nightmare :)

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Song on Sunday – Bang My Head

Oh, it’s been a long, l-o-n-g time since I posted one of these… At the moment, I’m listening to the same ‘soundtrack’ of songs that I’ve put together to compliment the book I’m working on. There’s a few David Guetta songs on the list, including this one, which reminds me of my rather sarcastic, mildly feisty heroine.

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Pin of the Week – 11: Quoting Songs

Firework

One of my (many) quotes boards is one that covers wonderful words from music and film… With this little one from Katie Perry’s Firework I like the image, as much as the words itself. Nice and inspirational, for whatever it is you need a little push on…

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Blog Advice 1: Increasing Your Traffic

mel:

Just spotted this fantastic post on increasing your blog following via The Story Reading Ape. It has some great, simple suggestions to get your new blog up and running, or for revitalising one that may have dropped off a little. Take a read and follow the tips you think sound best for you :) Maybe you could try the Sunday Blog Party today, I might…

Originally posted on Suzie81 Speaks:

imageOne of the most common questions I am asked by fellow bloggers is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult to provide a definitive answer to:

How do I increase the traffic that I receive to my blog?

Before I begin, I think that it is important to note three crucial points:

  • Building a following and, consequently increasing your traffic, takes lots of time and effort. You are extremely unlikely to receive thousands, or even hundreds of views simply by pressing the publish button.
  • Content is key. Well-written posts will draw new people in, and encourage them to visit again. Posting page after page of inspirational quotes looks pretty, but will leave your audience bored after a while. Be yourself, make no apologies and believe in what you are creating.
  • I am not an expert, nor have I ever claimed to be.

I know very little about SEO, so…

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The Rainbow Maker’s Tale – Grab a Free Copy this Weekend!

Click image to get your free copy.

Click image to get your free copy.

For two days this weekend – 21st / 22nd March – you can grab yourself a FREE e-copy of my latest book The Rainbow Maker’s Tale on any of the Amazon websites. I’m busy working away on my current project, Cirque de la Nuit, which I am hoping will come out before summer 2015, but in the meantime, if you’ve never read one of my books – why not give this a try? :)

The Blurb

“I wasted no time looking around the bland plastic space I had lived in all my life. There were no real memories here for me, no cherished moments or things to reminisce over: all that had stopped when I was eight years old and learned that life on the SS Hope was built on lies.”Outwardly, Balik is an obedient member of society on Space Station Hope: he follows The Council’s systems, excels at school and seems happy to follow in his parents footsteps…

Balik’s real life is filled with secrets he can share with no one. As he follows his suspicions about the space station into ever more dangerous territory it seems like his whole world will unravel around him. But, he doesn’t understand everything: things are wrong, he is sure of that, he just doesn’t know why.

When Cassie unexpectedly comes into his life, Balik struggles to find his balance. For years he’s investigated the oddities of the world he lives in, but Cassie makes him question things in a different way… Can he believe in this girl who seems so much a part of the system he distrusts? Would she put a stop to his plans to break out if she knew what he was really up to? Balik can’t be sure of anything – except the fact that he can’t leave her alone.

(Note: ‘The Rainbow Maker’s Tale’ is the companion novel to ‘Hope’s Daughter’ – either book can be read as the first book in the sequence).

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Book Trailers – Worth it?

Book trailers are a funny thing – I don’t suppose they really help you sell more books, like a film trailer might at the cinema, because you’re only likely to see them if you’re looking at the book already. Unless someone comes up with a good way of inserting them as a movie file at the end of your kindle book, in which case you could promote your other books quite effectively, giving someone a taster for what else you’ve written or the next book in the series.

Personally, I love trailers at the movies – I like the challenge someone faces of condensing into a few short minutes the best chunks of the story, the action, the emotion, to make us want to know more. They are cinematic versions of the ‘book blurb’ – but do you think they are more effective than an blurb?

I saw an interesting infographic the other day, which was showing the split of sales between traditional and self-publishing routes, rankings on Amazon Bestsellers Lists (the main ones were 27% Indie/Self-Publishing – 54% Small-Medium Publishers and 18% The ‘Big Five’ Publishers – if you’re interested). One of the key images the infographic contained was ‘The Top 3 Things That Sell Books’, which are the cover, the price and the blurb.

Now a book trailer wasn’t one of the things included in the Top 3 – it might not even make the top 5, who knows? This tells you, that you should focus a good portion of your effort into getting the right pricing for your book, a great cover (for people to judge your book by, obviously) and writing an enticing blurb to draw your readers in. You already have a lot to think about, don’t you, before even considering a book trailer.

I have book trailers for my main books that are available to buy, as well as a couple of ‘teaser’ trailers I did for some short ‘missing moment’ bits in the series, to help bridge the long gaps between the release of one book to another. (I’ve included a couple here, for you to see my attempts). I did them myself with a combination of stock footage, self-filmed images, and royalty-free music – they take some time and effort, but I also always loved messing around editing and making films from my own stuff anyway, so at least I’ve been able to put that to some good use.

Taking Flight – Book 1.5 (Teaser)

Outlanders – Book 3

You’ll see that I don’t have millions of YouTube hits on them – if I did, I’d probably be too busy writing my next novel, whilst sipping champagne instead of writing about writing here ;) What I have found a book trailer useful for doing is encouraging readers (mainly bloggers) to consider a read/review of my book. If you imagine, with the increasing numbers of indie authors, all looking for reviews and features on blogs to help promote their work and try to generate readership – when you send your request, with a blurb and book cover, with a link to a trailer they can quickly and easily get a feel for your writing, different to other requests they may get. You get a few more seconds of their time – you get to give some more information on your book and make it emotive – you get soundtrack, after all.

If you can get featured on a guest blog post, including your book trailer, may well make you stand out from the other features and offers you another route to readers that you might not otherwise get. On Goodreads you have the ability to include book trailers on your Author Profile, again, if potential readers are looking at what you do – it can help you showcase a different aspect of your work, over and above the blurb and cover image.

Overall, I think if you can create a decent quality trailer for yourself, then that is the best route with book trailers – it’s ‘free’ marketing, just takes a little of your time. If you’re having to pay someone to do one for you, I’d probably look at spending my money elsewhere – on the book cover, for example, as that will have a more immediate impact on your potential readers.

Still wondering whether it’s worth it – here are some further resources I’ve found on Book Trailers and how to use them effectively:

“15 Ways to Promote Your Book with a Trailer”

http://blog.bookbaby.com/2014/10/15-ways-to-promote-your-book-with-a-book-trailer/?utm_campaign=BB1443&utm_source=BBeNews&utm_medium=Email%20&spMailingID=47236878&spUserID=OTI1MTU2NjExMgS2&spJobID=542749990&spReportId=NTQyNzQ5OTkwS0

Previously, I did ‘Book Trailer Thursday’ meme on Aside from Writing, to showcase good trailers I’d come across – perhaps I will again, but if you want to check out some other examples, you can here:

http://asidefromwriting.com/?s=book+trailer&submit=Search

Thoughts on Book Trailers by Readers (at Goodreads)

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1685979-thoughts-on-book-trailers-by-readers

Never heard of Book Trailers – this is good overview article from David Albright explaining what you might expect one to be:

http://www.dalbright.com/blog/2015/1/6/a-sudden-light

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Pin of the Week – 10: Beautiful World

One of my largest boards on Pinterest is ‘Beautiful World’ – with images of all the fantastic places I’ve been lucky enough to get to in my life, but in general, places I hope I get to see someday. Top of the location pin list (at a quick glance) are Iceland and America. The landscapes in Iceland are just so unusual and extreme that it could almost be another planet altogether; with America, it is the diversity of the geography that gets it pinned so often.

Here’s one of my most recent pins: Horse Shoe Bend, Arizona – from a list of the ‘Top 27 locations in USA that tourists want to visit.” I guess by pinning it, that makes me one of them :)

Horse Shoe Bend, Arizona

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