Books vs Ebooks. The eyes have it

The debate pages, sorry, rages.

Will Ebooks spell an end to traditional hard and paperbacks?

There's compelling evidence from the high street that they will. Music stores closing down. Bookshops disappearing from the scene faster than a murder victim in an opening chapter. People wandering around, heads buried in their phones and kindles.

But I say all's not doom and gloom for the traditional book. There's life in it yet, and here's why.

Screen fatigue.

Not an official medical condition, but one that will be familiar to anyone who works with computer screens all day and experiences the accompanying tiredness of eye. The strain. The flickering eyelid. The watering as the pixels burn into the retina.

We all need to give our eyes a break. Staring at a screen for eight hours at work and staring at a screen to and from work can't be good for us. Moderation and all that.

Paper based books are the answer. Easy on the eye.

There will soon be a backlash, mark my words (on a piece of paper, not a screen).

I'm no doctor, but there'll soon be health gurus out there calling for people to restrict their screen exposure. 'Eight hours a day, max,' they'll say. Or Des, if you're not called Max.

'Read a book,' they'll say. 'One where you turn the pages not flick a button. Choose paper not pixels!'

Some will heed the advice. Many won't.

It will be a few years before we discover the true damage all this screen exposure is doing to us. Let's hope there's still some bookshops around then to save us...

EXCLUSIVE! First ever published excerpt from my forthcoming novel 'A Dead Chick And Some Dirty Tricks'

Camballi turned and surveyed the ensuite. Shiny white handlebars were screwed onto the wall near the toilet and sink. Emergency cords dangled like streamers from expelled party poppers. Various bins for specified items of waste littered the floor, and notes about the importance of washing hands to combat the spread of deadly germs were plastered to the cistern and storage units. None of it was news to Camballi, but after sitting down, he read all there was to read. Twice.
Afterwards, and with some trepidation, he approached the sink. He turned on the taps full blast and slowly moved one hand under the cold, the powerful water stirring nerves that had been dulled by his recent inactivity. He pushed the plug into place and muttered a quiet prayer as the sink filled, his eyes clenched shut.
He looked down at his hands as he slowly submerged them in the clear, tepid water. He quickly lifted them out and squeezed liquid soap out of the vial screwed to the wall and dipped both his hands back into the sink, rubbing them together. The water felt mild, revitalising, the soap frothing bubbly smooth.
Then something felt wrong.
Camballi tried denial, but he knew it was happening.
His heart began to race. He wanted to stop rubbing his hands together, to scream ‘no’, to run out of the room, away, away. But Rodwell was out there. If he saw… it was too soon for him to see. He wasn’t ready.
The water cascading over his hands was no longer revitalising, the bubbles no longer softly innocent. He daren’t look down into the sink. He could feel something fleshy in there. Something alive.
A hard, sharp fang punctured his right index finger. Instinctively he recoiled, suppressing the urge to yell out in pain, pulling his dripping hands out of the water. A set of gleaming white claws lashed out from under the soapy surface, followed by long narrow teeth that tried to sink themselves into his wrists. Camballi wrestled the beast, pulling it out of the water and holding it at arm’s length as it made several attempts to scratch and bite his face. Long, thick, powerful hind legs kicked out as the beast tried to free itself from Camballi’s clutches. Camballi summoned the little strength he possessed and plunged the beast back into the sink that was still filling with water and on the brink of overflowing. The blood from Camballi’s split finger dyed the water red. Undeterred, he battled to keep the beast’s head under the surface.
But its thrashing body was too big for the bowl, its will to live too strong.
As deep red eyes bored into him, teeth snarling with intent to sever his jugular, Camballi held the scrambling, dripping beast above his head, its long feet kicking air. With a wrestle and through gritted teeth, he gripped the beast’s neck, sustaining scratches to his forearms as he manouvered his fingers into place.
Camballi uttered a quiet prayer then twisted his hands with the skill of an experienced huntsman. The snap was audible, but not loud enough to alert Rodwell in the adjacent room. There were no squeals. The hind legs kicked air for a couple of seconds before the realisation hit home that the rest of its body was dead.
Camballi felt its life evaporate in his hands.
He held up the limp corpse to his face, its spiky ears features kids might find cute in another context, its deep red eyes the sort of thing they’d find horrific in any context.
He tipped open the pedal bin with his foot, pulled out the plastic liner bag and stuffed the corpse inside, tying it air tight. He unceremoniously dropped the bagged beast inside and released the pedal. He had no idea how often the bins were emptied around here, but figured it wouldn’t be long before the corpse was discovered or started to betray its presence through the stench of its decay.
Camballi knew he needed to get out of Turpenton General, and soon.
‘You OK in there?’
Rodwell tapped on the other side of the door. ‘It’s just that you’ve been a while. I know these things sometimes take time, but…’
‘I’m fine, thanks,’ said Camballi. ‘I’ve had a lot to do.’
Rodwell thought that sounded reasonable and moved away from the door.
Camballi wrapped a plaster around his wounded finger and made sure his smock covered the scratches on his arms. He looked at himself in the mirror, his face more pale and gaunt than he remembered, a world away from the expensive promotional shots of him and Lucille that had been spread across the newspapers. He resisted the urge to lift his smock and inspect the damage to his stomach. He knew there’d be little to see save blood soaked dressings, and he could feel where each of those were, the wounds smarting.
Enough of the self-pity. It was more important not to leave a trace of what had happened in here. He was well versed in covering his tracks, in muting the sounds, stemming the blood, disposing of the evidence. The worst thing Camballi had to deal with, and something he couldn’t clear away with ease, was the guilt of the dead beast’s soul preying on his mind. And today’s casualty wasn’t alone. Camballi had the blood of hundreds on his hands. 

How To Turn A Bad Book Review To Your Advantage

I'm talking really bad.
Like one star out of five.
Like they would have given zero stars if that were possible.
Like they've said a child could have written better.
Like even though they got the book for free, they still thought it was still a waste of money!

As you might have gathered by now, one of my books has been on the receiving end of such a review.

My first reaction when I read it can't be reprinted here.
To put it politely, I wanted to find the reviewer's email address and message them a carefully worded explanation of the story they so despised and so 'didn't get'.
After that rage subsided, thoughts turned to damage limitation.
This novel only has one other review on Amazon, and that was a glowing 5-star one.
Now, in one fell swoop, my average rating had halved.

Then I thought, hold on, could I make this work for me?
Someone really loved the book, and someone else really hated it.
So far no one had said it was just OK or ho-hum.
People either loved it or hated it.
That was something to cling onto.
That's how I could promote this.
You'll either love it or hate it.
(I even considered calling it the Marmite novel, which only readers in the UK would get).

So that's how I'm currently promoting Last Night At The Stairways, and currently sales are as steady as they were pre-terrible review.

Maybe there's a way you can make a bad review work for you.
Either way, us writers know we've got a few more heading our way, however great we think our writing is.

Just don't let them put you off writing and promoting...