Sixth review for the Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Book

Katherine has read, I think, everything I have written and is always generous with her time, giving very useful feedback and writing reviews for me on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. I still use her early reviews for ‘Alfi Beasti, don’t eat that!’ and the ‘Going Out in the Midday Sun’ trilogy, and in fact for most of my books as she has a knack of, without waffle, creatively encapsulating the elements of the writing.

 

“If you found a book that contained your entire life from beginning to end, would you read it?”

Such is the dilemma, one of many often posed on the internet, which is faced by the protagonist in ”The Hundred and Fifty – Eighth Book”.
 
Hamish, a Bloomsbury bookseller, stumbles upon the red leather bound volume during a quiet morning at his shop. On opening the first chapter it seems that the narrative bears an uncanny resemblance to recent events in his life.  From this mysterious beginning, the reader is propelled into a fast paced and curious romp through 1980’s London, where it soon becomes clear that there may indeed be more than one version of this book.
 
Hamish’s adventures are deeply rooted in the era and place.  The sights, sounds and smells of 1980’s London are beautifully evoked by an author who clearly knows her patch and the setting is further enhanced by her own atmospheric drawings. Ms Hardy has a strong eye for detail, for the small everyday things that are easily overlooked but are very evocative of a time or place.
 
The characters are so affectionately depicted that one feels they must be at least partly based on real people of Ms Hardy’s acquaintance! I particularly liked Hamish’s mother and Evan, the Yorkshire chapters in which they feature forming a poignant contrast to the rest of the narrative.
 
This is a cleverly woven and most enjoyable tale. “To whoever picks this up” hang on to your hat!  You are in for a colourful and intriguing ride!
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Giveaways

Is it worth doing? I dread to imagine how much money I must have spent over the years handing out various tomes in the hope that people would read, enjoy and give (hopefully) constructive criticism. Yes it is worth doing – essential to my mind, and as much as possible. How else can you glean information as to whether you are rowing down a flowing river of possibilities or stuck in a swampy ditch with a defunct outboard motor?

So, what about throwing stuff out there into the wider world: not just friends and acquaintances? Goodreads Giveaways . . . having thought about it a few times I decided to give it a go with Hoxton – a tad stupid as these are hard-backs and the outlay of sending five out there was not inconsiderable – at all. I did it, received an email disclosing the fact that over a thousand folk had bid (quite encouraging in itself) and then the addresses of the winners. After reading a forum or two, I had pressed ‘worldwide’ including Tibet, Siberia, the Congo et al, (you never know, could be an English speaker keen to read about Dystopian London, in Tibet). Three winners were in the UK and two in America . . . one of the profiles revealing the somewhat invisible person had marked something like 8,000 books to read, no stars and no reviews. I protested in an email to Goodreads but it was just ‘luck of the draw’ and that copy is probably in a boot-sale pile – shit; the rest? God knows, but, yesterday I checked the site and there was a lovely review from a young woman ending with ‘It is an amazing book and I loved it’.

So, worth it for one review? Possibly not but that one review has prodded me into doing something with Hoxton – currently rather abandoned on the writerly back-burner. Cover to be done, corrections to correct, self-publish and promote.

 

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rough for a cover

 

 

 

 

Introduction to Kate A. Hardy

Hello.

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A small biography:

At various times Kate has been a bookshop assistant, DJ, estate agent blurb writer, Mars- Bar factory worker, gardener, sous-chef, barmaid, architectural impressions maker, chip shop worker, and photographic stylist. The latter requires a sub category of just about anything imaginable: detective, taxi driver, model maker, inventor, bullshitter, diplomat, location finder, robber, dog trainer and actor.

She now spends as much time as possible writing.

Work to date:

Mister Mint and the Monster – self published in crayon and pencil in a lined exercise book around 1968

Big gap

‘Alfi Beasti, Don’t Eat That!’ written and illustrated by Kate. Published by Puffin books, 2004

Trilogy of novels: Going Out in the Midday Sun, Staying Out of the Midday Sun and The Mad Dog Café. Started in 2010, finished 1015. Now out on Amazon in paperback and as e-readers

The Hundred and Fifty-Eighth book, The Couch, Rose. Short stories taken for publication by ‘Cracked Eye’ 2015

The Hundred and fifty-eighth book made into an audio-story, read by Anton Lesser

Collection of short stories – Dog, and other tales, completed and will be available as a hardback soon.

Current work:

Series of Novels set in 2090, in ‘Londonia’ Might be classed as Dystopia, but I would like to create a new genre – Dyst-hopia: post-apocalyptic but not utterly doom-laden.

First Book, Hoxton has been completed and is currently being considered by an agency. Second book, Smithi has been finished to editing stage. Another two books are at planning stage.

Sketch from Hoxton

Hoxton cover copy

A couple of comments from readers of Hoxton.

How lovely – how clever! From the quirky title onwards the reader is in for an edgy, spookily realistic adventure set in a dystopian London of the future.
Despite there being many versions of possible future worlds, your vision ranks as one of the best I have come across. It really holds together well, in all its gruesomeness.
You write extremely competently and nothing disrupted the pace and my enjoyable read. You have a solid style, an imaginative turn of phrase and a quietly irreverent sense of humour.
The imagery you conjure is brilliant – rather Joanne Harris in places – and we all admire her writing, I think – and then again a little Cloud Atlas in the use of the altered language in David Mitchell’s dystopian world. But in and of itself, it is very individual, very Kate Hardy!
 
 
Liked this very much indeed. It’s very hard to put a new slant on dystopia and at the same time not stretching credibility too much. Excellent work.
I like the originality, the new vocabulary, the general thrust of the plot, the realism, the stuff about IKEA and Thirty Shades.
This is really something else. No surprise to see that you’re a published author. If your agent doesn’t get you a TV or film deal for this . . . get a new agent!

Peer reviewing sites

My last post here was about Youwriteon, and this one is about Youwriteon.

I suppose most of us writers have gone through this route; or if we haven’t, we should.

When I had finished ‘Going out in the midday sun’ I was happily sending out the first three chapters to agents, vaguely keeping an eye on the rejections and wondering what to do next. Then I discovered a whole other world out there, totally by chance. The peer reviewing sites. Youwriteon looked quite friendly with its pink and beige site, so I duly loaded up the first seven thousand words, not really knowing what the site was about. Amazing . . . people read the words and sent back reviews: some pathetic, some enlightening.

A couple of weeks later I logged on and found I was in the Top Ten; I hadn’t even noticed there was one. Then I was hooked. It became a sort of neurotic game: logging on rather too often to see if someone had ‘booked out’ my chapters, and doing rather too many reviews in an addicted fashion. The book hovered around in the top ten for a couple of weeks and then someone ‘sunk it’ with a very good, probably accurate in many places, review, and I was mortified. Then comes the point where you have a lot of reviews and the annoying pointless sniper attack ones start to weigh against the good ones, moving the book down the charts.

This is probably the time to re-load the book with its alterations and get new reviews, or forget it and take the advice and suggestions that were valuable. Easy to say . . . just another — shit, a stupid write up where someone has filled their statuary hundred words and given you two’s out of five’s.

What the site, and presumably others are good for:

Totally and unbelievably useful as a sounding board and general leveler: is your stuff as good as you think? How can it be improved? People out there don’t know you — EXPOSED, you are; how does the work stand up to public scrutiny?

I found it to be an inspiration to write more, push myself, experiment. Also, critiquing other people’s work is useful: annoying sometimes, but on the whole, rewarding, inspiring and a great learning curve. Without the site I probably never would have found the enjoyment in writing short stories which are to my mind such a brilliant tool for playing, trying ideas and prodding the grey matter.

I’ve learned SO much about grammar — a weak point for me having fallen into the 1970’s comprehensive system. Still learning!

My short story that was at number one, did make it through into the ‘best seller’chart and at that point I did breath a small sigh of relief, so perhaps the competitive thing would still be there if it hadn’t have gone through — difficult to say.

What they are not so good for:

Well nothing really; it’s just how YOU use them. Load up the stuff, take the useful crits (sometimes fantastically detailed, thoughtful and SO valuable) ignore the stupid ones (I just had one that praised me very highly, then said at the end, ‘I wish I had given you higher marks as you are obviously a very good writer’ then proceeded to award me dismal marks — useless on all counts.) celebrate if you get high up in the charts, but remember it’s not the reason you have put the stuff up there.