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By James Minter, Jan 16 2018 11:15AM

The day I sat down to read this book, quite by chance I observed two entirely unrelated events. One was a TED Talk by Iain McGilchrist, a Fellow at All Souls college, at the University of Oxford: discussing what’s happened to our soul or spirit. And the second, an event on a TV show for pop-star hopefuls. One contestant, a lady in her early thirties, had been driven for as long as she could remember to become a singer. So much so, when she was 9-years-old, she had made up her mind to seek a place at a school specialising in music education. She worked hard and won a scholarship. At the school, she achieved a great deal, but her success was in opera singing when she really wanted to be a pop singer. However, she stuck with opera to please her teacher, her parents, grandparents and other family members. In other words, she lived the life they wanted for her, not the life she was supposed to live. It was only on the death of her younger brother did she realise, in the words of Heaney, “You see, a life doesn’t last forever, and then you become dead.”. At the moment she promised herself to switch from opera to popular music-her lifelong dream-and competing for a place on the TV show was her starting point to start living the life she was supposed to live.


“A Yorkie's Tale” operates on a number of levels – for a child, the beautiful illustrations will engage their young minds as well as the array of diverse characters which populate the story – a rat, an owl, a possum, a parrot and many more – plus it’s a well-written to boot. For the adult reader, woven into the plot are messages we all need to remember. For example, we all live in our own world, but actually, there is a much bigger world out there – we have so much to learn and experience. Equally, it’s not about how we look on the outside, but what’s important is who we are on the inside: our spirit or soul. As Heaney says, “It’s the spirit that puts the light in your eyes and the love in your heart.” This is what McGilchrist explored in his presentation.


Heaney also recognised that leaving the familiar is always uncomfortable but a discomfort which has to be borne to find the life you should be living. This is shown, in the above example, by the hard decision the promising pop star had to make and relay to her family and teacher. But notwithstanding, it’s a complicated world, meaning that what is good for one is not necessarily good for others.


Heaney doesn’t make light of deciding to live the life you’re supposed to. He recognises it’s only the start, and nothing is easy. Our chosen path can lead to uncertainty, to moments of doubt and even regret. Being strong is necessary. “The road you are on, the quest undertaken, immovable obstacles seem placed in your way. Ne’er turnaround now; to learn, you must stay…or the truth you shall miss.”


“A Yorkie’s Tale” is full of great life lessons we all need to absorb or be reminded of. To treasure friendships; the importance of generosity and kindness; take nothing for granted and look for the richness of the world in which we live; joy and contentment can be discovered almost anywhere; and that latter exist as much inside us as outside.


Heaney continues, we should not fear death since our mortality urges our spirit to seek out what our lives mean, and living the life you’re meant to live is about embracing the totality of the life you live.



By James Minter, Apr 28 2017 09:24AM

Self-publishing is now a very accepted way to bring your novel to market – even the most successful authors like JK Rowling are using this approach. However, writing a novel to the standards demanded by readers is, in many writers minds, the biggest and principle issue they face. As a self-published author of twelve books, believe me when I say that writing an attention-grabbing story, though significant, is only one step to becoming a successful author. The demands of the self-publishing process are high, complex, time-consuming, frustrating, bewildering and at times, make you question is it all worth it.

Any author going down the self-publishing road needs all the help they can get. As V.V Cam says in her introduction, there is a heap of information out there on the internet, but what she has done is make a good attempt at bringing it all together into a single place. By doing so this she’s made the information more accessible, as well as presenting it in a logically structured style – you only need to read the Table Of Contents to see that. Moreover, it is heavily spread with her own hard-won knowledge and experience gained by going through the process with her husband’s book. That’s why I love “How to…” books. They capture hard-won knowledge and experience and make it available in an easily consumable form so saving you making the same mistakes or going off tangent.

People write for many reasons, but not everyone attempts to publish their work. A useful device V.V Cam employs throughout the book is self-assessment questionnaires. In chapter two she offers one appropriate to answer the question – is self-publishing right for you. I recommend you complete this since you will better understand why your writing and if you’ve the time/tenacity/money to bring you book to the general public.

Self-publishing is a big, evolving process, and a guide such as this cannot be complete or totally up to date. As with all eBooks, it can constantly be corrected, amended, or added to. V.V Cam makes a good use of live links to allow the reader to explore some of the software products and tools she mentions.

I’m a visual person, and for me, I would like to have seen a diagram covering the whole process. That way each chapter could reference the diagram as the book unfolds so you can monitor your progress. By its very nature the publishing steps are interrelated, and on a few occasions reference is made to an item like ISBN’s or Tax Identification Number but not discussed until much later. Also, some recommendations like grabbing your Author page on Goodreads and Amazon were weak suggestions rather than being presented as a must do. Additionally, I felt chapters 6, 7, and 8 were rushed/sketchy and needed more attention.

In conclusion, a book worth purchasing but there are gaps, but in fairness writing the definitive guide would be near on impossible.



By James Minter, Jan 9 2017 11:49AM

I really like this Author and what he has to say. He can be counted on to give great stories and examples of what needs to happen to become more creative. There are lots of learnings, and I feel he’s really on my side, and perhaps even understands me a bit!


It’s always reassuring to be given examples of how others who have come before, have struggled with the same issues I have, and it inspires me to become better than I perhaps thought I am.


This is book 3 from Collins on the Power of Creative, and it contains many nuggets of information. However, I feel he does himself an injustice since they should be pointed out to the reader, not simply embedded inside paragraphs. I believe this book would have more impact with better formatting. Having said that, it is still well worth the read.


The author provided me with a copy of the book for the purposes of reviewing it.

By James Minter, Dec 30 2016 06:29PM

Based on the premise we, as authors, need to find our audience, and Goodreads is a free platform with over 50 million subscribers worldwide, it’s a potential goldmine for writers to connect with readers – but of course, it’s not without hard work and commitment. Drozdowich, in this second book on Goodreads.com, focuses on the need to network. Actually, this book comes as a responses to her first book- The Ultimate Goodreads Guide for Authors - and the fact the visual (screenshot) approach didn’t work across all reading devices, and that in the intervening years Goodreads has changed.


Drozdowich has dropped the embedded graphic approach and instead included links to screencasts – a free series of mini-courses which contain the visual elements supporting her narrative. A great feature of eBooks.


The written content provides a succinct yet worthwhile introduction to each feature of the Goodreads platform, and is ideal for both novice and seasoned users. Well researched and written, it’s a useful time-saver for us hard pushed writers…


Watching the free screencasts is essential - especially Networking 1 and Networking 2 - to find hacks or how-to-get-the-best-out-of-Goodreads from a networking point of view.


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