Kindle X-Ray and the Future of eBook Publishing: An Author’s Perspective by Jim Lowe

I was asked to contribute an exclusive blog by Jeyran Main. Her website has 3600+ followers and has received over one million views. It was published today and in my guest blog, I discussed the X-Ray feature on Kindle and other potential future developments! 🙂

Review Tales

Kindle X-Ray and the Future of eBook Publishing: An Author’s Perspective by Jim Lowe

I used to write poetry with a fountain pen and notebook. There was no thought of reproducing this work for the masses, it was a simple act of playing with words, trying to create my own little works of art. If it didn’t achieve anything else, then I would be left with a diary of my emotions.

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Ad Copies, Blurbs and Selected Reviews for Future Use.

There’s nothing much to see here – unless you have a thing about lists. I am gathering together all the things I use for marketing all in one place.

Everything I am putting in here is likely to have the word current preceding it, as it will change as I try out new combinations for future ad campaigns until I find what works best.

Strangely enough, even the book covers are here as they are web links and not just photos.

Paperback front cover of the New Reform Quartet.

Talking of something as dull as links, I will also be noting the sales links in different formats, as sometimes a site will request a long link, as opposed to a tiny URL as these can be temperamental in some circumstances – but they are more ascetically pleasing.

I need two types of Ad Copy. The first needs to be concise as the number of allowable words is severely restricted. In other situations there is room for more descriptions and a call to action – you know – buy it today!

So here begin the listings – you can’t say I didn’t warn you!

AD COPY VARIATIONS

Short Version New Reform Quartet Box Set.

Is enough, ever enough? In a world where you have it all, what would make you want to give it all away?

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

The New Reform Quartet brings together all four books in the series.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

Blurb for the New Reform Quartet Box Set.

Is enough, ever enough? In a world where you have it all, what would make you want to give it all away?

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

The New Reform Quartet brings together all four books in the series.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

After the explosive emergence of the New Reform ultra- libertarian movement, four families find their lives irrevocably altered.

The O’Neills are gun runners and loan sharks. The Reptons are a family of minor aristocrats with a deep history of political activism.

The Spicers are enablers and fixers for New Reform, and the Gardners are an ordinary working-class family whose lives are stretched to breaking point as they unwittingly find themselves at the heart of the action.

Some will risk their lives to avenge the terrorism that brought New Reform to power, while others will gain everything they could ever have wished for – but will they give it away to be truly free?

Buy the New Reform Quartet and experience this mAD world for yourself today!

Kindle Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B089G9P8J7/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

Paperback Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Reform-Quartet-Complete-Four/dp/B08CPHFTP3/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kindle Tiny URL: https://tinyurl.com/yxggr32g

Paperback Tiny URL:https://tinyurl.com/yyepqj4n

Audible Link: TBC

One of the advantages of self-publishing is you can be nimble and change Ad Copy at will, so if a wording for a campaign hasn’t worked, then you can keep changing it until you find something that does. The disadvantage is that traditionally published books have a whole team pouring over the marketing and more often than not, get it right the first time, after all, there is a helluva lot of training, expertise, and experience coming to the fore, and they know the nuance and effect that even changing one word in a campaign can have.

Even reviews – I’ve had the full range from 1 star to 5-star reviews – tend to be scattered around the internet. Some might be on the Amazon USA site but not on Amazon UK. The same situation applies to Audible. Then there might be reviews on Goodreads that cannot be seen elsewhere, or on other less well-known places.

NEW REFORM QUARTET BOX SET REVIEWS

Kaurie Albert

5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful and Philosophical

Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2020

Verified Purchase

I didn’t know there was a series out there that combined page-turning thrills with philosophy. The New Reform Quartet examines how the beliefs and mentality of the people in a country can create deep changes in governing and in individual lives. Each character is well rounded and complex–no straightforward motivations or simpletons in this story. We get to know the characters through their backgrounds, their family history, their (most often) traumatic or unsatisfactory childhood. Not one is fully good, and most are not fully bad–with the exception of a certain red-clad woman. I found myself rooting for assassins and hackers, surprisingly for an aristocratic and narcissistic lord at one point. The New Reform Quartet shows the enormous impact the internet/social media/influencer types can have on people, on the governments, and how hacking truly is the most effective skill to have today. Trevor and Heather, despite being a little wicked, are excellent and complicated characters and the descriptions of their creations are an impressive piece of writing. I never thought I’d be into reading about hacking, but Jim Lowe is fantastic.

I loved the interconnectedness of this world and the characters, and how somehow everything kept coming back to Tatum O’Neill. A girl who never thought she could have such an impact, whose humble and terrible beginnings turned into something extraordinary. Tatum and the Gardner family loop together in fascinating ways, the significance of 142 passing through the generations. And I never really knew if it was belief and obsession with the number that caused it to perpetuate, or truly some kind of strange family curse. It’s a combination of violence and brutality, art and politics, the humane and the inhumane. Jim Lowe has invented a masterful series.

Heidi Austin

VINE VOICE

5.0 out of 5 stars Four windows into an unexpected world…

Reviewed in the United States on August 25, 2020

Verified Purchase

I decided after I got into “Game of Thrones” that I would never start a series until it was finished. Waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish his series has been agony. That is why I was so happy to pick up Jim Lowe’s complete four-book masterpiece. Each book is populated by characters who exist on a non-linear timeline. The books center around Tatum O’Neill – a girl growing up in the late 1970s who is obsessed with the punk rock culture. Her mother is a clueless homemaker, her father is an arms dealer who doubts her ability to do anything except make tea, and her brothers are cruel. The first book primarily deals with Tatum’s journey as she runs away and finds her way to the Wexworth House and their non-violent organization that rescues women and girls kept as prisoners in violent situations. Tatum is groomed by the administration; however, her duties run parallel to her father’s underhanded dealings to the detriment of everyone involved. The next three books have so many twists and turns to the plot that I never saw coming. It kept me on my toes and reading late into the night. These books read like a true television series, only you don’t have to wait a week to see what will happen next. Lowe’s writing does remind me of a tightly woven television script; each chapter pans in and out of the action slowly tightening to the mini denouement. After getting to the end of the four books, I felt a sense of completeness. All loose ends were tied up – if not to my liking, at least I know that all of the characters that I have lived with for a time were going to be okay. Also, when I read a great book and begin to pick actors for the various characters, then I know that this is a great book that I will be thinking about long after I read the last page.

JAMIE

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars

Reviewed in the United States on August 19, 2020

Verified Purchase

I recently came across an interesting sci-fi mind bending series of four novels by Jim Lowe called The New Reform Quartet. It covers the span of the early 1980s to the present day and the future. The characters involved are the family members from 4 different families who are left after a dystopian world is created.

The author does some really amazing things in these novels. One thing he does in certain points is he will overlap time periods for emphasis or to highlight cause and effect, instead of letting it play out linearly.

He is incredible with characters. He gives us who dynamic characters and shows us why they are the way they are. Many of them we see grow up, we see what influences them, and how they chose to become who they are. It is some of the most brilliant writing I have read.

I adore the character, Tatum. She used a simple trick or game she used to play to eventually become a professional who changes everything.

I also loved the four window concept and each book being a window—the first being how the public sees you. The second being the thoughts we are unaware of. The third being our innermost private selves. And the fourth is the unknown, that being the things we don’t know about ourselves.

If you like Sci-Fi, Black Mirror, twists and turns, psychology thriller, an amazing ending then this books for you. Also, all four full-length novels are sold together for under 10 dollars. These are definitely books you want in your library.

the-librarian

5.0 out of 5 stars Really fun series!

Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2020

Verified Purchase

*The New Reform Quartet* is a thriller, quasi-dystopian, science-fictiony story. While it does not neatly fit into a specific genre, it is entirely enjoyable, unique, interesting, and an all-around fun read.

I had no idea what to expect going into this one—I was completely blind like I am wont to do when reading a book by an author new to me. The story was all the better for it. I loved the characters, the development, the arc, the themes, and the way things are tied together. If you are a deep science fiction reader, you may find some of the scientific liberties and leaps too much, but they did not distract me at all from the fast-paced, thrilling plot.

In general, I love book series—I tend to read a lot of fantasy tombs with a minimum of ten books. So I loved that this was a series—it was the perfect length and let me settle in with the characters and plot and enjoy the ride more. It was not at all drawn out nor ever felt like it was just trying to fill space. It is a tightly written narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat and holds your interest the entire time.

I loved this series and would highly recommend it. It is a fun and interesting mix of genres and all-around a thrilling read.

Brandy M

5.0 out of 5 stars Great deal!

Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2020

Verified Purchase

This is an amazing deal, and you will regret passing it up. I am a fan of black mirror and had to look up Babylon Berlin, and once I did, I was even more interested in reading this. Seeing that it’s four different books in a collection for that price makes it a must buy. This would be my first dystopian thriller, and I am impressed with how it turns out.

I think it was clever and creative how the author has the settings from the past time frame and brings it up to the present. You start already feeling for the character the moment you begin to read. Your heart goes out, and you wish you could do something. You feel for Tatum as she made that shot proclaiming the job was done. I think what had me racing was the conversation with “Joseph” and Nadie. I wasn’t sure how she would take it. Would she understand, or would she flip out? Him even deciding to tell her had to be hard enough. Seeing the peace and happiness Bob had with Millicent while they were watching tv was a heartfelt, loving moment for me. I appreciate it ending the way it did. Seeing them leave on mutual, peaceful terms was a relief.

Overall, great read, it will keep you interested and glad you got it in your library.

Having them in one place means I can keep trying to find new combinations of hooks and tag-lines, without having to remember where they were. Even 2 and 3-star reviews might contain a nugget to be used. It’s the same thing that movies do with their posters.

Having some reviews available also allows me the opportunity to keep things fresh.

NEW REFORM – BOOK ONE OF THE NEW REFORM QUARTET

The paperback and Kindle edition of New Reform – Book One of the New Reform Quartet.

AD COPY VARIATIONS

Short Version of New Reform – Book One of the New Reform Quartet.

Some people want to build an empire, but all she wants to do is kill.

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

The Audible cover for New Reform – Book One of the New Reform Quartet.

Blurb for New Reform – Book One of the New Reform Quartet.

Some people want to build an empire, but all she wants to do is kill.

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

After the explosive emergence of the New Reform ultra- libertarian movement, four families find their lives irrevocably altered.

The O’Neills are gun runners and loan sharks. The Reptons are a family of minor aristocrats with a deep history of political activism.

The Spicers are enablers and fixers for New Reform, and the Gardners are an ordinary working-class family whose lives are stretched to breaking point as they unwittingly find themselves at the heart of the action.

Some will risk their lives to avenge the terrorism that brought New Reform to power, while others will gain everything they could ever have wished for – but will they give it away to be truly free?

Buy the New Reform Quartet and experience this mAD world for yourself today!

Kindle Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07VY5NZ1X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i3

Paperback Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/NEW-REFORM-BOOK-ONE-QUARTET/dp/1087236614/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kindle Tiny URL:https://tinyurl.com/y46f3ag3

Paperback Tiny URL:https://tinyurl.com/y46f3ag3

Audible Link:https://tinyurl.com/yygv8zvs

New Reform – Selected Reviews

Maria M5.0 out of 5 stars 

Thought-provoking thriller

Reviewed in the United States on October 21, 2019

I thoroughly enjoyed this well-woven plot that revolves around pressing themes such as political radicalization and information manipulation. Identities, loyalties, and vulnerabilities get skilfully portrayed as susceptible and confused youngsters endanger themselves to vent frustrations and feel that they belong to something. Protagonists Tatum O’Neill and Jack Gardner have multilayered and nuanced personalities, and the plot is gripping. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy thrillers with a touch of politics.

Kindle Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars 

wonderful

Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2019

I won this book through Goodreads.com and wasn’t sure if I would like it . I didn’t — I LOVED it!

Aaron Advani rated it 5 stars. (Goodreads)

This is really good, it’s dark and edgy, and it’s different.

This is not going to be for everyone, but I loved it, the story is great, the characters are strong and come alive on the page.

The intricacies that Jim has woven into his plot are sublime, it takes you one way then another just when you think you have a handle on where it’s going.

So many books today you know how they are going to end even before you get halfway, this is not one of them.

Jim, I salute you and if you decide one day that you’ve had enough of the day job you have another career already and waiting.

I look forward to the next instalment.

Claire rated it 2 stars (Goodreads)

I purchased this book after winning a copy of book 2 ODC from Goodreads. I wanted to read the first book in the series in case I needed background information on the characters or plot. This wasn’t really my style or typical type of book I would read, but it wasn’t bad. The first half of the book left me thoroughly confused. I had no clue what was going on, couldn’t connect with any of the characters. It was really a challenge for me to keep moving. Once connections started being made, the story made more sense to me, and it definitely moved along quicker, and I found it more interesting. Despite the initial confusion, I did like the author’s attention to detail. Sometimes I felt like it was a little too in-depth, but again, it might just be because this isn’t my usual choice. 

Official Review: New Reform by Jim Lowe

Post by mmm17 » 17 Oct 2019, 16:17[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “New Reform” by Jim Lowe.]
Book Cover


4 out of 4 stars


Share This Review


At the beginning of New Reform, written by Jim Lowe, a non-identified character wonders: “Am I a terrorist?” Throughout this well-woven plot that involves political radicalization and information manipulation, readers get to follow the chain of events that led to this moment.

Tatum O’Neill and Jack Gardner grew up in Arlington, a small village in England, and they both come from dysfunctional families. Tatum’s father is a cold-hearted arms dealer with links to the Ulster Freedom Fighters in Belfast. Patrick, her oldest brother, aka Killer, is a football hooligan and a neo-Nazi. Shortly after turning sixteen, Tatum flees her abusive home and leaves for London with her rifle – a birthday gift from her father. She gets recruited by the Sisters of Mercy, a paramilitary group with ties to British intelligence (MI5 and MI6).

Jack’s alcoholic mother abandoned their home when he was twelve. His father committed suicide a few years later, and the tragic events made Jack an angry and aggressive teenager. The stable elements in his life were his girlfriend Caitlyn and a job as a professional newsagent. The protagonists’ paths cross when Wendy, a friend with a shady agenda, introduces them.

I enjoyed how the author developed secondary characters, especially Martin Whitehead and Tony Spicer, who play crucial roles in the plot. Martin is the owner of a marketing company in London, mAD, in tune with a far-right campaign and movement called New Reform. Tony is his loyal right-hand man and lifelong friend. All these intricate political ingredients culminate in a terrorist attack, but no spoilers are allowed!

What I liked the most about the book was how the story revolved around the themes of identities, loyalties, and vulnerabilities. I appreciated the portrayal of how susceptible and confused youngsters can endanger themselves to vent frustrations and feel that they belong to something. In my opinion, the development of multilayered and nuanced personalities, especially as the protagonists get older, got brilliantly done. The author masterfully unfolded the impacts of their predicaments.

Additionally, I was highly impressed with the author’s writing style as he conveys Jack’s confusion. For instance, the character worries about having a German Jewish extended family after he gets involved with a far-right movement called the Arlington Faction. This group of thugs also has the O’Neill brothers as members. But Jack doesn’t quite identify with them and soon starts leaning toward left-wing groups. Lowe describes Jack’s opinions as “serious enough for him to hold them for at least a month or so.”

Lastly, I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. It seems professionally edited. I did not find any errors in it. The way the author pieced together an initially scattered plot was absorbing and kept me hooked. I felt like I was solving a puzzle. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy thrillers with a touch of politics. It does entail a fair share of violence and profanity, so if you feel uncomfortable with such aspects, you should probably steer clear of this one.

AUDIBLE UK CUSTOMER: 5 stars

Both twisted, and twisty – brilliant!!!

It’s rare that I’ll call a book “unputdownable” (I’m not even sure that’s the right term, for an audiobook – but you get my drift) – but this book grabbed me from the start and refused to let me go. It’s compulsive and brilliant – a wild, twisted journey through an alternative version of the world we live in today. I loved it – so glad it’s part of a series too!!! Can’t wait to see how it turns out…!

Audible usa customer – cora 5 stars

Round and round

What an excellent story, a story of excitement and family and love and finally, destruction. Karma at its fullest. I look forward to the next two books which I received for free by Jim Lowe. I recommend this book to everyone in the next two of the series also—great writing, great narrator.

AUDIBLE USA CUSTOMER – RayC 4 stars

Worth a read

New Reform. I received a free copy of this audiobook at my own request and voluntarily leave this honest review.

Here goes. I found the book lacked the polish we’ve come to expect. It is raw and emotional, and that is its strength. A good plot that had many threads. Be warned that there is some bad language in the book. In context, the main characters are young people with poor education.

The book would have benefited from a professional narrator. The author tried, but in my opinion, he is an author first.

Definitely worth the time to read.

THE ODC (THE ONLINE DEATH CULT) – BOOK TWO OF THE NEW REFORM QUARTET

The paperback and Kindle edition of the ODC (The Online Death Cult) – Book Two of the New Reform Quartet.

AD COPY VARIATIONS

Short Version of the ODC (The Online Death Cult) – Book Two of the New Reform Quartet.

Some will give their lives to a cause, but he will kill to be a star.

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

The Audible cover for The ODC (The Online Death Cult) – Book Two of the New Reform Quartet.

Blurb for The ODC (The Online Death Cult) – Book Two of the New Reform Quartet.

Some will give their lives to a cause, but he will kill to be a star.

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

Bob is bored. Denise is a psychopath. Brandon craves celebrity. The Online Death Cult is open to recruits. What could possibly go wrong?

Buy Book Two of the New Reform Quartet and experience this mAD world for yourself today!

Kindle Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B083NYQFZD/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

Paperback Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/D-C-Online-Death-Cult-Quartet/dp/1657938662/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kindle Tiny URL:https://tinyurl.com/vlwmnmn

Paperback Tiny URL:https://tinyurl.com/vlwmnmn

Audible Link:https://adbl.co/2IlsdOz

The ODC Selected Reviews

Aaron Advani rated it 5 stars (Goodreads)

The second book in the quartet does not disappoint, it’s as edgy as book one, and for this, it’s not going to be for everyone, but that’s what makes it so good.

It’s not my usual style of reading, and it’s a refreshing change to delve into this mad world.

Can’t recommend this highly enough.

Claire rated it 3 stars (Goodreads

I received this book free from a Goodreads giveaway. I purchased book one in the series to read first, and I’m glad I did. While I struggled through book one, I have to say, I enjoyed O.D.C. much better. It was definitely an easier read and having read the first book, I knew the characters and their backgrounds and enjoyed getting to know them further. The series definitely isn’t for everyone but has some interesting themes that I feel are relevant to government issues today.

audible uk customer 5 stars

Oh my god that ending!!! Gripped once again

This is the second book in the New Reform series, so if you’re just discovering Jim Lowe, go back to New Reform and start there – you will NOT be disappointed! Pacy, twisty, with both depth and humour, this series is SERIOUSLY brilliant – with an ending you will NOT forget. All I can say is… Read it!!!

Audible usa customer 5 stars cora

Wild ones

This story is quite unbelievable, but it could be very real. Could this really happen, oh yes, it happens a lot I am sure. This is one of a three-book series I received for free on Facebook from author Jim Lowe, read him, what a great author.

WITH TWO EYES – BOOK THREE OF THE NEW REFORM QUARTET

The paperback and Kindle edition of With Two Eyes – Book Three of the New Reform Quartet.

AD COPY VARIATIONS

Short Version of With Two Eyes – Book Three of the New Reform Quartet.

Dystopia as seen through the eyes of the beholder.

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

The Audible Cover of With Two Eyes – Book Three of the New Reform Quartet.

Blurb for With Two Eyes – Book Three of the New Reform Quartet.

Dystopia as seen through the eyes of the beholder.

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

Nadie is an old woman who learns of a terrible secret from a world away from her home.

Samii is a vlogger working hard to grow her subscriber numbers.

When their paths cross, it sparks a phenomenon that releases the power of faith and an existential challenge to New Reform.

Buy Book Three of the New Reform Quartet and experience this mAD world for yourself today!

Kindle Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Eyes-Three-Reform-Quartet-ebook/dp/B087LSWZS3/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Paperback Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Eyes-Three-Reform-Quartet/dp/B087LG8RHY/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kindle Tiny URL:https://amzn.to/35ahJfk

Paperback Tiny URL:https://amzn.to/3aQ3vSg

Audible Links:https://tinyurl.com/y2rlgn3k

With Two Eyes – Selected Reviews

audible uk customer 5 stars

Brilliant addition to the New Reform quartet!

I’ve been following Lowe’s series since the first book, New Reform, appeared last year – the other two books so far are unlike pretty much anything else I’ve ever read (though if you enjoy dystopian, alt-history thrillers, they’ll absolutely be your vibe) and this third book is no different. It’s a change of pace from the former two, focusing on three women whose journeys intertwine with the brilliant plotting and expect-the-unexpected twists I’ve come to expect from this author. I LOVED it – so, so gripping and brilliant. I can’t wait to see what Lowe does next!

Audible usa customer cora 5 stars

Amazingly sad

With two eyes, this is the third book of the reform series and by far the best. Oh I like the other two, they were exciting crazy weird but this one tore up my heart it was beautiful and it was sad. I would recommend this book to anybody wanna know it’s beautiful. Great job Jim Lowe, keep them coming.

FOURTH ROOM – BOOK FOUR OF THE NEW REFORM QUARTET

AD COPY VARIATIONS

Short Version of Fourth Room – Book Four of the New Reform Quartet.

Is enough, ever enough? In a world where you have it all, what would make you want to give it all away?

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

The Audible cover for Fourth Room – Book Four of the New Reform Quartet.

Blurb for Fourth Room – Book Four of the New Reform Quartet.

Is enough, ever enough? In a world where you have it all, what would make you want to give it all away?

Babylon Berlin meets Black Mirror.

This complex dystopian thriller set in the fictional English north-western city of Arlington spans the decades from the 1980s to the present day and beyond.

After the explosive emergence of the New Reform ultra- libertarian movement, four families find their lives irrevocably altered.

The O’Neills are gun runners and loan sharks. The Reptons are a family of minor aristocrats with a deep history of political activism.

The Spicers are enablers and fixers for New Reform, and the Gardners are an ordinary working-class family whose lives are stretched to breaking point as they unwittingly find themselves at the heart of the action.

Some will risk their lives to avenge the terrorism that brought New Reform to power, while others will gain everything they could ever have wished for – but will they give it away to be truly free?

Buy Book Four of the New Reform Quartet and find out how it all ends today!

Kindle Amazon Long Links:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fourth-Room-Book-Reform-Quartet-ebook/dp/B089FJS46T/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Paperback Amazon Long Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fourth-Room-Book-Reform-Quartet/dp/B08CP7JJQ4/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kindle Tiny URL:https://tinyurl.com/y6gaz87f

Paperback Tiny URL:https://tinyurl.com/y6qaus84

Audible Link: TBC

I’ve completed the paperback and Kindle version of my project, and as I write, I am waiting for the last individual book of the series to travel, glacially, through the Audible Quality Assurance system. After that, I will be working on remastering the box set addition, and sending this on up to the overworked people at Audible. I think their collective minds may well melt when they receive my 45+ hour file to check – the estimated release time for that monster will probably be around 2030!

By then I’ll probably be into a whole new marketing campaign – and at that point, I’ll give myself a pat on the back for having the foresight to pop everything I need into this handy little blog.

JOIN AUDIBLE TODAY!

Try Audible for the UK from the link below:

https://adbl.co/2ToFlrc

Try Audible for the USA from the link below:

https://adbl.co/2wfAMrn

Try Audible for Germany from the link below:

https://adbl.co/2IbZETj

Try Audible for France from the link below:

https://bit.ly/39bknmk

A Multimedia Introduction to the New Reform Quartet

I have completed the Kindle and Paperback project of my four-book series of novels under the banner of the New Reform Quartet.

As I write, the Kindle box set edition has launched alongside the doorstep sized Paperback – all 775 pages and 360,000 words of it.

I have an offer coming soon, from the 17th August 2020 in the UK and USA where for one week the four individual books in the series will be 99p or $0.99 as part of a Kindle Countdown promotion. Time Zone differences will vary.

This blog is a personal introduction to the series, and in the times we live in, I have put it in the various formats which book consumers expect today. I have made a video, with the audio introduction which will be included with the Audible box set which will be ready by the winter of 2020.

I hope you find it interesting if only to see the lengths that authors will go to to get their labours of love out there.

The YouTube version of the upcoming addition to the Audible box set.

An Introduction to the New Reform Quartet

I was seventeen years old, and it was a Wednesday. The exact date was 6th of December 1978. I had an overwhelming desire to write poetry – which was odd for me, as I didn’t read poetry, and whenever I had to study it at school, I never cared for it – I didn’t get it.

I spent a lot of time alone after being thrown out of the home by my mother’s live-in partner – the latest one, at sixteen. He was a member of a gang in my hometown, and he was well known for his violence. I annoyed him by being there, I was in the way. In the run-up to my unceremonious eviction, the leader of his band of brothers had been stabbed to death by his own daughter.

Fortunately for me, I had a job, and I found a landlady who would turn a blind eye to my age, and she let me rent a one-room bedsit from her. At least I wasn’t homeless, just as well, nobody came looking for me.

I was angry and brooding. I tried keeping a diary, but I wasn’t disciplined enough to keep it going. The entries were hard-edged and made of concrete and steel, probably because I was currently an apprentice at an industrial pipe-makers.

My poetry books from 1978 – 1983.

On that Wednesday, and for the next two days, I turned these diary entries into my first epic poem. Of course, it was terrible (all amateur poets use this disclaimer), but I was on a natural high while I was writing it. I couldn’t sleep because of all these incredible ideas I had.

The obsession for writing poetry continued for the next four years until I was told that my Father had committed suicide in January of 1983. This coincided with the ending of a three-year relationship – entirely my fault – at the same time. As you can probably guess I was not easy to know. I was obsessive, I drank heavily, gambled and had strong opinions on everything. My saving grace was that I was equally obsessed by working hard, and luckily for me, this hadn’t gone unnoticed.

By now, I had gone from an apprentice draughtsman – until I was made redundant, to a job with a national retailer on a Railway Station and then into a High Street store – what luxury – uniforms and shop central heating! By day, I was working full-time in the store, with great staff and my future wife – and at night, I worked in a bar. It wasn’t unusual for my nights to end at 2 am, and my working days to start at 6:30 am. But I never missed a shift.

When my Area Manager – a man I envisioned working in a golden tower – heard of my father’s death, and then that I lived alone, he arranged – unbeknownst to me – for the manager of another store to take me in with his family for a month, under the guise of giving me management training. On the last night, he told me the truth. He liked me and my work and didn’t want to see my life ruined by this event.

The kindness of these men, who were virtually strangers to me, completely upended my views on male relationships, and made me realise what my own father hadn’t been able to give me, and what a good father – a good man – could be.

I returned to my bedsit. I gave up drinking for five months but continued writing what turned out to be my last book of poetry. It was a searing look at myself and my relationship with my Father but still with a strong sense of masculinity – toxic or otherwise. It ended with my Father, as a fighter pilot, high on octane fuel, dropping bombs on his family, while I watched on from an empty field as he aimed the plane at me, but he missed and crashed and burned, leaving his wreckage all around me.

I had a choice – I could be a part of this wreckage and use this as an excuse for any bad behaviour I set my mind to in the future. Or, I could take the pain and grief from this and rebuild my life.

On Sunday 18th September 1983, I wrote the final chapter of my fourth book of poetry. The final chapter was a sea-shanty in my mind, but later, when I revisited it, I recognised it as a mantra:

The lifeline lives

On scalded hands

Repairing the damage

With material from the wreckage.

I didn’t write another word of creative writing until June 2014 – thirty-one years later.

After reading a book by the singer-songwriter Roy Harper where he deconstructed his songs and explored their meanings. I thought – for the first time in years – of my own ancient poetry books. As I opened them, I was struck by the fact that I barely recognised that angry young man, now. I was a happy family man, whereas this guy was raging at the world. But when I read the last book, it was clear to me that it was a textbook case of someone writing through their grieving process.

 I never considered myself one of those people that had a book in them. Something like that would take far too long. But as I was writing again, a novel began to emerge. At first, it was based on events from my life (as most first novels are) – but as other characters appeared and evolved, I got more and more excited. I knew my own life too well. But I didn’t know these people at all. Over time, I shrunk my own life story almost to nothing, to give room for these new characters to take over.

Still, I found the more I wrote, the more patterns emerged. Over time, these developed into four distinct themes – four windows – through which I viewed and shaped the series. From the outset, I was writing fiction, so I didn’t have to be scientifically accurate, I chose not to over-research, but instead to take my own skewed understanding of the things I had been taught.

The first rotten window frame I retrieved was Johari’s Window. I put it up against the concrete wall, where the original brickwork had crumbled away and tried to remember. There were four windows into how we are perceived. The first was the public version of the character. The second was how that person was viewed by others – of which they were unaware. The third was the private, innermost and intimate thoughts of the person of which nobody else knew – the secrets we keep. The fourth and final window was that of the unknown, where we only find out what we are truly capable of when placed into extraordinary circumstances.

I pulled out another window frame, the glass smashed, though some of the original paintwork remained. This was from one of the most precious periods of my working life, and that was about inspirational leaders – archetypal Good Kings, Warriors, Great Mothers and Medicine Women (where I fitted the most).

The third battered window was the Conscious Competence learning model. In the first window, you are bad, and you don’t even know it. Moving through the second window, and you are still bad, but you are becoming aware of it, and you begin to work on your flaws. By the time of the third window you are good, but you are still mindful that you are working hard at it. When you reach the fourth window, your excellence is a habit, and you just do it – you are not even aware of it anymore.

The final frame was the most personal. I analysed my own father’s disappearance from view and the stages it took. At first, he was present – in my early years, an active participant in the family unit. In the second stage, when he was drinking heavily but still at home; he was detached but still a presence. By the time I viewed him through the third window, he was absent. He had left home, and he had left me behind. By the fourth window he was lost – he had taken his own life and threw it away.

With these four windows in place, I kept rearranging them, putting different ones on top of one and other, or turning them around until something appeared in the gaps.

I love big ideas, and these books could easily have drifted into a high concept attempt at a literary novel, but I wanted them to be action thrillers, so I have plotted them tightly, and by the end of book four, I have tied up the significant plot strands and character arcs. I haven’t left anything dangling to encourage another book in the series, after all, a quintet into a quartet doesn’t go.

And so, I hand you over to my characters – who took over this book in the first place and are itching to do so now. The film is about to start, the Art Director is summoning the next set of transitions, and I’m beginning to dissolve.

This is the last you’ll hear from me.

Heather and Trevor settled back into each other on the sofa, they had flicked around the channels on the TV and Heather had picked out a new box set she fancied watching. She said, ‘Let’s watch this – it looks like it’s up our street.’

‘What’s it called?’

‘The New Reform Quartet.’

‘Sounds a bit posh. Are you sure? What’s it about?’

‘It says it’s an action thriller, one of those alternate-history things. It’s got a dystopian vibe to it.’

‘Any zombies.’

‘No, babe.’

Trevor laughed, ‘Tell you what, if the warnings are good then we’ll watch it.’

The screen announcer said, ‘The following programme contains violence, bad language…’

Trevor said, ‘Sounds promising.’

‘Scenes of a sexual nature and flashing images.’

‘Woohoo! Full house.’

Heather dug him in the ribs, ‘Let the credits roll babe, I’m going to get some ice-cream, do you want some?’

‘Yeah, go on then.’

Heather went to the kitchen, grabbed a couple of tubs of ice cream from the freezer, then picked out a couple of clean-ish spoons from the drawer. She wandered back to the living room and flopped back down next to Trevor. ‘Did I miss anything, Babe?’

‘They had this eerie, or maybe it was a dreamy piece of music for about a minute.’

‘Who was it by?’

‘Becky Rose – 1:42 am – have you heard of her?’

‘Can’t say I have, babe. Anything else?’

‘Not much. The music changed to some jazz music, and it showed a weirdly dressed woman wandering down some deserted city streets.’

‘You of all people are criticising her dress sense.’ They both laughed loudly.

Trevor was just about to continue the joke when Heather put a finger to her lips, ‘Quiet now, babe. I want to watch this.’

Writing Your Book Is Just The Beginning.

This post started as just a placeholder for some of my marketing bits and pieces, but then the urge to write something about it struck again.

When you set out on your journey to write the book you’ve always had in you – it all seems so simple – just pick up a pen and tell your story. What you don’t realise at this stage is all the other stuff you are going to have to learn if you want it to look reasonably professional – and heaven preserve us – all the marketing work to put it – out there.

You find yourself scrabbling around the internet to learn about structural editing, copy editing, formatting – all the while wondering where this or that is on the Word document menus – and then you realise that all the answers are different for the various versions of the program.

Eventually, you complete something which looks like a finished manuscript, but there is still much to do. If you haven’t got money to burn, you’ve already got this far on a DIY approach, and this has now become a personal challenge not to let anything else stand in your way to publication.

Now it’s cover design, and that means photoshop. If you thought some aspects of Word are obscure, then try just having a go at photoshop. You either give up inside the first hour or spend days trawling through YouTube videos before you get remotely near a cover that you like.

By now, you’ve watched all the experts on YouTube informing you that you should give up now, as nobody will ever buy a self-published novel unless you pay hundreds of pounds on editors, proofreaders, beta readers and anything else you can think of. All these self-help gurus are doing to you at this point is stating that either you’ll speculate to accumulate – leaving you a mountain of debt on the project to recoup first – or, publish your novel, without using their help but don’t expect to sell any. I made the decision that if I didn’t invest much then, I wouldn’t have to recoup much, thereby the chances of making a profit would be much higher. The self-help experts who want your money, work on turning your own dreams against you, by inferring that you are doomed to fail without investment. Having said all that, there is plenty of help and advice out there from fellow authors and self-publishers.

What happens when you give up the part of your inner writer that wants to make millions is that you become free. The pressure is off, and you become absorbed in the act of creating – and finishing – something. To somebody who becomes over-enthusiastic, about anything – this makes me very happy, and endows me with a can-do attitude. Just as well, seeing as I started writing the New Reform Quartet in 2014, finished the last book in 2018 and now it’s halfway through 2020, and I’ve only just released the third book in the series, With Two Eyes. It’s all of the above that has added all that extra time to the project.

I wrote an earlier blog on producing my own audiobooks previously, called ‘Why Audiobooks?’ What I didn’t mention, was the cost to me if I had handed my books over to a narrator/producer to do it for me.

To choose a narrator via Audible, it would cost £100 per hour for a novice narrator, £200+ for an experienced one. Maybe, that doesn’t sound a lot, but all four of my novels, would end up being around 45 hours in length – I’m sorry, but I haven’t got a spare £4500 – £9000 to spend.

So, I did it myself. It was a business decision, to a certain extent, like those management tasks they would play on the Apprentice show. Do you gamble to make sales higher than your costs – or do you keep your costs minimal, thereby almost guaranteeing a profit? As it happens, my most profitable areas have been my audiobooks – not enough to give up the day job – so – I didn’t give up the day job!

Here are my audiobook samples that I have promoted on Facebook audiobook pages and on my Amazon author pages. Fortunately, I already knew how to put YouTube videos together!

There are several themes and threads through the four books, one of them is the use of all the song titles which were performed by some of our very fine local musicians from the Hereford & Worcester areas, as chapter headings.

This idea came from my love of Frank Zappa’s music. He had his Conceptual Continuity Clues through all of his 70+ LPs, where each would have a lyric or musical motif from a previous album. Therefore, I wanted all the works from the video project from the 142 Sessions to be included in these books.

On a previous blog, ‘Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas From?’ I went into exhaustive detail on the birth of the 142 obsession.

A 142 Sessions promotional video.

The other route left to me was to try and get an agent, to save me from all this work. I did try it. I wrote to eight agents, I didn’t receive a reply from three of them, but the other five all sent me encouraging responses, but ultimately, they were rejections, nonetheless.

Andrew Marston interviewed me about On The Record and the 142 Sessions.

There are lots of excellent reasons to write a book. When you’re creating something, it keeps your mind firing with positivity. When you complete a book, it gives a fabulous feeling of job satisfaction, because it’s hard writing all of those words and completing the editing, cover design and marketing your work. There is a sense of legacy as well, in this day and age, your words and your voice – in the case of audiobooks – are something that your grandchildren (as long as they are over eighteen) can access, long after you’ve started your story in the next world.

Why Audiobooks?

There’s a boom in audiobooks going on at the moment. You may not have noticed that yet, because it started in the USA first, but it is now spreading to the UK. There are even adverts on mainstream TV for Audible.

The main reason for this is the development of new technology. The old cassette tapes are pretty much defunct. There is still a small market for CD audiobooks, but these are dying out as they are clunky to use, and you have to remember where you were up to, and as for portability, even the old CD Discmans are virtually obsolete – who would have believed that only a few years before when this was considered cutting edge technology.

Streaming has changed the TV market, and now it has had a dramatic effect on audiobooks.

If these developments have passed you by, then I’ll try and bring you up to speed – and maybe take a peek into the future – I’ll have a bit of fun with that at the end!

I’ll give you an example of what you can get and how you can use it – for one Audible credit (typically, you get one per month for £7.99, and on signing up they usually offer a free book for joining – not unlike the Book Clubs of old) I decided that I would like to listen to one of my all-time favourite books, The Stand, by Steven King. This audiobook is 45 hours long!

There are no physical storage space restrictions with streaming. In the past, audiobooks were abridged, but not anymore. How much would a 45 CD Box Set have cost? You don’t even need a special music player anymore – you can get them with an app on your phone.

As you listen, you can speed up and slow down the narration, you can skip back in chunks of thirty seconds at a time if you missed a bit, or want to play that vital clue back, but crucially, it will always remember the exact time you last switched it off.

So far, so obvious, but the technology is moving on all the time and merging with other platforms. Audible is part of the Amazon empire, which also owns the Kindle Ebooks platform. Together, they have developed something called Whispersync. This links the two technologies together.

Let’s say you are reading your book on your Kindle, or Kindle app on your device before going to sleep. The next morning as you are commuting to work, you put on your Audible – and the narration picks up from where you left off with your book the night before, and later that night, your Kindle picks up from when you switched off your Audible book.

As an author, this does lead to an extra level of detail in the editing process, as to enable Whispersync to work for my books, there had to be a high level of accuracy between the printed and spoken word.

Whispersynch also leads to other uses that may not be obvious at first. For instance, you can read on Kindle and have the Audible narration shadow the text at the same time. This has the effect of having the book read aloud for you. This can be useful if you have young children – it’s a bedtime story. Also, the book can be cast to a TV screen with big print (think karaoke machines) for you to listen, read and watch the text being read, maybe as a family.

I was surprised that I had sold some audiobooks in Germany, and I wondered whether this is a way for students learning English in a conversational tone – I did laugh to myself when I thought about how I was probably teaching them how to say English swear words correctly!

At this point, there is a debate about whether listening counts as reading a book. My personal view is that it does, the two together complement each other. I loved reading the Stand, and I enjoyed listening to it. The difference isn’t an intellectual one, it’s a personal one. When you read, it’s your voice in your head that reads it, whereas when you listen, it’s the narrator’s voice, and then it becomes a question of taste. I would argue that it is a different skill in listening than reading. I love books, but I’m a fanatic about music, and I feel that listening to books mirrors my detailed listening to music.

There were many reasons for narrating and producing my own audiobooks – cost being an important factor. I like big projects, writing a quartet of novels was great and kept me out of trouble for five years, but then what? Well, recording them would be a challenge and a half. I already had some limited experience with Garageband through my years of Youtubing, but that was filming and recording other people’s performances, this was exposing myself to the world.

Funnily, exposing my voice to the world wasn’t nearly as scary as it was to make my audio project subject to scrutiny from family, friends and colleagues. If I knew my next-door neighbour was writing about murder and violence, I’d probably think he/she was a bit weird, but if a complete stranger from the other side of the world wrote it – I wouldn’t give it a second thought. Therefore, I decided that my ideal reader/listener was going to be a complete stranger.

I did worry about my dialect, after all, if someone spoke pure Geordie into a tape machine and played it back, they would understand every word – but would someone in Kentucky? I had to be aware of my own accent and to try and ensure my diction would be as clear as I could get it – but still, there wasn’t any guarantee that my midlands accent would travel.

The final decision to record them all myself – was about the completion of the project, and a little more grandly – it had become my passion, my little labour of love.

And finally, future-forward or pure fantasy?

As I was recording these books, I wondered where audiobook technology and AI (Artificial Intelligence) might head next. I dream affordable dreams! One of them would be on the recording side. I thought wouldn’t it be marvellous if I could change the voices of my characters to those of world-renowned actors. Ooh, I could have Al Pacino for him, and Meryl Streep for her. Imagine I could licence their voice samples to replace the dialogue, or narration on my very own book. But what about listening? I could pick an audiobook, and maybe, there would be a character list that I could populate with the actors/narrators of my choice – Homer Simpson as Oliver Twist might be fun!

At first, AI would struggle with the cadence and emphasis of the author’s work, but if you could overlay the actor’s voice and keep the original narrator’s own emphasis and intentions? Now where’s my James Earl Jones plugin?

If you want to try Audible for yourself, then follow the links below. Happy listening!

Audible in the UK.      https://adbl.co/2ToFlrc

Audible in the USA.   https://adbl.co/2wfAMrn

Audible in France.     https://bit.ly/39bknmk

Audible in Germany. https://adbl.co/2IbZETj

Finishing Touches Prior to Book Launch

From 2014 to 2018 I wrote four books, for a series eventually called the New Reform Quartet.

I published the first in the series, New Reform, in August 2019 and I’m now gearing up for the launch of the second book called The ODC (The Online Death Cult) in February 2020.

There were a several reasons for the five-year delay, and I don’t regret the wait now that I’ve seen the distractions there would have been between books.

You have to learn Photoshop if you want to design your own cover!

Holding four books in your head is difficult enough without thinking about cover designs, blogs, marketing and audiobooks. If I had have done them as separate completed projects, there was a danger that I might have literally have lost the plot.

Pick up ideas from other books, like placing images from other books you have published. This cover is waiting for the barcode which I will obtain when I upload to Amazon.

The other useful outcome from waiting is that now I research an aspect of book publishing one at a time. This means that if I have got to grips with Photoshop or Adobe Spark (Facebook banners, etc.), then I can complete all of these in advance. I have all four covers pre-designed, which actually turns to eight if you add on the Audiobooks.

The Audiobook cover has to be designed differently.

One advantage of Self-Publishing (there’s not many) is that you can think on your feet and change things that aren’t working, or unexpected positive learnings. The first edition of New Reform deliberately had Nazi-themed colourings – red and black. This didn’t sell as quickly as I’d hoped as it narrowed the book’s appeal.

I work in a book shop, which is handy! I checked the fonts and colours of other thriller writers and gave it a teal and orange makeover, and I used more fonts. The other thing that had happened is that I had picked up some positive reviews, so I included these quotes and reworked the blurb.

After this, I picked up a number of female readers, to my surprise, as my initial readership I was aiming for was older males.

By the time you release book two, you are thinking about branding.
Book One needed a redesign to fit in with Book Two.

This meant I returned to my pre-designed covers for the forthcoming books and changed the fonts and colour schemes to match.

Audiobook requires a lot of learning of new and sometimes alien skills!

Changing covers is one thing, changing the text is another. Self-publishing is flexible, which means you can even alter the text in your book at any time, even after publication. However, making your own audiobook means the text has to become more or less fixed.

My audio recording set up.

Recording your own audiobook does make the editing much sharper, not just because you are looking to finalise the words, but also because if you are self-narrating, you spot the tongue-twisters and where the dialogue sounds unnatural when it leaves the page.

Narrating, editing and mastering – there’s a lot to learn.

Like the cover designs being easier to do four at a time (you’ve got to grips with Photoshop at this moment), so the recording of the audiobooks is the same. You have consistency with the equipment, your voice and the mastering process. However skilled or unskilled you believe you are, if you are lucky enough to get listeners, they will appreciate a whole series having the same overall feel.

Recording brings a new round of editing.

I didn’t plan it that way, but I’m glad I didn’t write and publish the first book immediately. Even as I was writing Book Four, there were still plot-lines I needed to amend through the previous books.

New Reform is out now on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. The ODC is released in February 2020. Books three and four will be released in August 2020 and February 2021 respectively.

Links will be available on jimlowewriting.com but also, search Amazon for the New Reform Quartet, and they should magically appear.

Dove Winters Interview With Jim Lowe

DOVE WINTERS

“Questions That Matter” Author Interviews

Questions that Matter with Jim Lowe

NOVEMBER 8, 2019 ~ DOVEWINTERS

NEW REFORM: Book One of the New Reform Quartet by [Lowe, Jim]

I asked the questions that matter of Jim Lowe! But first, the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07VY5NZ1X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

Now, let’s get to know Jim!

Come on down, Jim! What would you tell your younger self?

You’ve got it all wrong – you don’t know it – but you have.

You will keep looking toward the next landmark birthday thinking that life probably ends at that point, but every time you reach that big birthday, you keep finding something new to get into.

You don’t have to be so opinionated about EVERYTHING.

Here, here! Which Beatles song describes you?

The Fool on the Hill

I feel that I’ve never been at the centre of things – I’ve always been on the fringes. I’ve seen some very dubious behaviour.

At the time, I didn’t realise that I was taking thousands of mental notes for ideas for writing in the future.

A man of a thousand voices! Do you know what your name means?

I was concerned about what the name Lowe would mean – for obvious reasons!

In the end, it meant, small hill – not very inspiring. European countries have it originating from wolf or lion – I can live with that.

Fool on the (small) hill! Which is your favourite way to dance: with others or alone?

Alone – definitely! If a piece of music absolutely reaches me, then I’ll happily freak out to it in my bedroom (that’s where the hi-fi is), but it can become embarrassing when my wife pops her head around the door and asks me what I’m doing.

Never apologize for dancing! What is one of your favourite quotes?

Frank Zappa was asked, during a loss-making tour, why he continued to take an orchestra with him:

‘Some of my contemporaries like to stick their money up their nose. I prefer to stick mine in my ears.”

Excellent quote! Name five things you would take with you during a zombie outbreak?

A phone with a lot of memory, charger and power banks. I only want it for the music player, everything else will stop working anyway.

Deodorant – I don’t want to smell bad, for that matter, I’ll pack a change of underwear!

Comfortable shoes – I’m likely to be doing a lot of running around.

A Guidebook, maybe, the Rough Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. I’ll order it on Amazon before all the workers are eaten.

Stationery – I will be first on the market with ‘How I Survived the Zombie Apocalypse’ in the post-apocalyptic era – I’m sure my optimism will see me through.

I’m sure Amazon will have workers even during the apocalypse. Where else would we get our machetes and zombie-repellent? You’re on the team! What is the meaning of life?

Aiming low, and always being pleasantly surprised when you achieve it.

I agree with that! Thank you, Jim, for taking this quirky journey! Support Jim by checking out the links below. Then, ask the fool on the hill for directions and join us for another new author!

https://jimlowewriting.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jimlowewriting

https://www.instagram.com/jimlowe142/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/580364.Jim_Lowe

Twitter: @Jameslowe05

Happy reading! 🙂

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Questions That Matter Interview By Dove Winters with Jim Lowe

Here is a deliberately light-hearted and quirky interview I had with Dove Winters.

https://dovewinters.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/questions-that-matter-with-jim-lowe/

How Do Writers Come Up with Ideas?

Whenever somebody creates something, out of nothing, whether that be an artist, musician or writer, the most common question they will be asked is ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

How Do Writers Come Up with Ideas?

man looking up with idea light bulb above head

Whenever somebody creates something, out of nothing, whether that be an artist, musician or writer, the most common question they will be asked is ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

Experienced and famous creatives, will have been asked this question so often, that this cliché would be greeted with some inward eye-rolling, before answering with something along the lines of, ‘Oh, it just comes to me.’

I’m new to the marketing games we self-published authors we have to play. However, when I was first asked, ‘Where do I get my ideas from?’ Initially, I was delighted – someone was interested in my writing – great! I wasn’t famous, I had time to give this simple question a thoroughly thought out and insightful answer, but I struggled to come up with anything to add to the answer above.

But it did make me think.

In those frustrating hours in the dead of night, when I should be getting a good night sleep ahead of a hard day’s work that waited for me. All my mind wanted to do was figure out the pathways back to the first seeds of an idea.

The trouble was, whereas before, I had an answer that was too brief, maybe, even a little glib, now I had an answer that I could never use in polite company because it was far too long, and would have given the poor questioner the impression that they were talking to a man on the edge of madness.

I wanted to do something to make the lost night’s sleep worthwhile, so I thought I would write it down. I went into this believing that ideas were created in the here and now – the thunderbolt, or light bulb moment. What I discovered, for me, at least, was different. My ideas were in a pool of long-forgotten moments, that were always there, they were just waiting for me to fish them out.

The first fish I caught was a trout.

The idea I chose to explore was a mysterious thread through the New Reform series of books of the number 142. I published the first novel in August of 2019, and yet this idea went back to December 2011. Not only was this, eight years, before publication, but three years before I even considered writing a novel at all.

I was a big fan of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. Also, I devoured music biographies, and was utterly engrossed by the memoir by the drummer of the band – he was so much more than just the drummer – Through the Eyes of Magic by John Drumbo French.

A lot of music biographies leave me cold, once they move into the I’m now a big star phase – you know, the groupies, the drugs, the trashing of hotel rooms and ‘Oh, did I tell you how I met, Tony Blair, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan (delete where applicable), but this was different. With John French’s memoir, I had found the Dead Sea Scrolls of music writing.

The 864 pages of smallish print went into infinite detail of not only the cult conditions he was enduring, but also, the inspiration, and the construction of every single track the band made. I read music biographies to find nuggets of inspiration, with this book I hit the motherlode.

John “Drumbo” French on his experiences of living with the cult-like conditions, with Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart.

I was already absorbed in the book, but then on page 805 I came upon the track notes to My Human Gets Me Blues from the legendary Trout Mask Replica album. I’m not a musician trained in musical notation, but I was intrigued by his description of the musical interplay between the musicians at 1:24 minutes into the track.

He described how the band members were all playing in different time signatures, but how they intricately locked to give the impression of being on a roundabout, with the slower rhythms at the centre and the faster ones flying around the outer circles.

I realise that this is 1:24 and not 1:42, but events seem to lead up to an idea.

I played the track repeatedly, in much the same way as I used to try and view those old Magic Eye pictures, where if you looked long enough, kinda sideways, an image would appear in 3D, as if you were looking through the eyes of magic – you did see what I did there?

Over and over, I played the track but then the section just after this, at about 1:42 – this would eventually embed itself in my brain at exactly 1:42 – fiction is not fact – fact!

This 1:42 lyric stated: You were afraid you’d be the Devil’s Red Wife.

I thought, ‘Who on Earth is the Devil’s Red Wife?’

I picked up my diary and decided I needed to do some research. Even the internet back in 2011 had very little, so I began digging more in-depth, and the obsession was forming. I found something about an eastern European folk tale about an old woman gazing upon a pair of red shoes, in a shop window, when Satan offered her a bargain. If she could break up a young couple who were obviously so in love with each other, then he would buy her the red shoes. She went to work and succeeded in splitting up the lovebirds. But the ease in which she did it, made even the Dark Lord himself afraid of this old woman.

My thought was, ‘How did Don Van Vliet, a musician from near the Mojave Desert have this kind of knowledge?’ My mind was utterly blown!

142 was now a number my mind was seeking out in every variation. It was a made-up obsession to test out my subconscious and unconscious mind. I started to notice the number in some bizarre places.

Holy cow! Where did that come from? I bet I was the only guy on the planet compelled to take a photo of a cow on Sky News!

I decided that this was my art number and began to put it into stuff I was working on. The strapline for my YouTube channel became, what you lose on the roundabouts, you gain on 142 swings to the left.

I got into YouTubing by accident – always seems to happen to me. My youngest daughter had her very first gig at the Spread Eagle open-mic night in Hereford. My wife had taken her camera and camcorder along to film this for the family when she decided she couldn’t do both. She passed the camcorder to me. I was, like, ‘Where’s the power on button? How do I use the zoom?’ Over the next five years, I filmed over 200 local bands with 1300+ videos with nearly 300,000 views.

During this period, I conducted a series of interviews for the my channel called, On the Record. I wanted to capture all the different professionals, musicians, enthusiasts and audience supporters. The people who make it happen and help it to thrive.

One of these interviews was with James Gwynne, a singer-songwriter and local promoter. He mentioned how he loved the YouTube channels that promoted quiet acoustic music within an overall theme. He discussed a channel called the Mahogany Sessions, and I said that we should try and do the same and collaborate on the 142 Sessions. I would be the filmmaker, and he could arrange the performers and the venue.

The 142 Sessions would have visual references within this working-class pub, the darts would score 142 on the dartboard, the clock would be stopped at 1:42, and the performers would take a book – there for decorative purposes, probably from a car boot sale – and read aloud whatever was on page 142, before performing two original songs of their choice.

The only exception to the original songs, was where I tasked my daughter with learning My Human Gets Me Blues and that the only time I wanted her to turn to face the camera was when she sang the line, you were afraid you’d be the Devil’s Red Wife.

BBC Introducing gave the show a lot of coverage, with an interview with myself, and many of the acts had their songs played.

I needed something new to get stuck into. I re-visited the dark poetry I wrote between the ages of 17 and 23. I thought that decoding them of their deeply personal, private and deliberately obscure words, would keep me occupied for a while – there was lots of this stuff. I gave up poetry after the final book had worked through the confusion and grief of my father’s suicide.

I was in a good place – I can deal with this now, after all, I’m a different man nowadays.

I recalled why I wrote poetry back then. I equated this with my sportiness – I played football and trained hard, I could make the sprint across the pitch, and walk back forever – no problem, but ask me to run long-distances – no chance. Poetry was a sprint, novels were long-distance.

The old poetry stirred up the old waters, and new fish began to appear, and then I had an epiphany, I could write a novel, if I thought of them as being a series of sprints, rather than a marathon.

It goes without saying, that one of the threads had to be on the theme of 142. This is not a plot spoiler, it’s merely the seasoning, but it does run through the whole series of the New Reform Quartet.

You’d have guessed that a character called the Red Wife would be in the book – and you’d be right. However, she didn’t come to me until I’d written two thirds of the first book. This demonstrated to me, that my mind was closed off to her, until she was fully formed enough for it to send her up to the surface.

Available from Amazon and Audible

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If you were talking to me in a kitchen, at what point would you have made your excuses and left? Answers, on a postcard…

If you’d have stayed this far – maybe you were avoiding somebody in the living room – then I’m guessing by now that you’d want me to come to some kind of conclusion, about where writers get their ideas from?

Well, I think that other well-known writer’s advice cliché comes into play, write what you know and what you know better than anything is yourself.

I don’t go to the blank page and hope for ideas for creative writing because the blank page has nothing inspiring on it. The best ideas are probably in my past, but I wasn’t paying attention.

I believe, the ideas pool of the mind is unfathomably deep, I now peer into the water, and wait for something to surface. When it does, I pop it into my net, and if I think I’ve caught it before, and thrown it back in, I take another look, as it might have grown since then.

Finger touches surface of mountain lake