Monday, 11 November 2013

Are you all Wordle'd out yet?

Dunno about you, but I'm still in the first tingly-all-over stage with these things. So much so that I've spent at least two whole days mucking around with them. Here are a few that haven't made it to the cutting room floor yet  - any opinions/preferences?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Adult, Young Adult or both?

One of the amazing comments from the indiePENdent reviewer suggested thar Archer is a book that can be enjoyed by adults and teens alike. The stats from the Helix review certain seem to back this up. As do the following comments from a variety of readers:

Comments about Adult and Teen Readers
“Jacky loves to experience the world through the wondrous eyes of a child where anything can happen, where the fantastic mingles with an emerging reality. She cares about the characters in her book and I think she writes her books FOR the children too, like a gift to them. ... The tempo of Archer pulls me along as if I am flowing down a river upon a strong current. I couldn't jump out of my canoe in the midst of a chapter even if I wanted to.”

 “Although targeting a teen boy audience, this story felt just right for me too, and would be right up the alley for many adults who read classics. This is a well-researched slice of Medieval life and even includes a glossary! I encourage anyone with teens who are interested in Medieval times and legends to pass this on to them.”

“Archer is cool. Your fanbase is leaning more towards the Rick Riordian portion on the great bookshelf of life, but, I read him too. And am quite proud of it. A good book is a good book, no matter what the age range. I love jousting so having it in your story immediately gave you high marks in my book. You made it seem so real and I love the way Finn has a mental connection with his horse.”

“While this reader typically consumes books slowly and methodically, I was taken in by the story and could not put it down, resulting in finishing the book at one sitting. I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys a well spun tale, with no grammatical issues. I would also recommend this book to any young adult seeking an adventure like none other, or at least like none other that I have read.”

“Archer, the title character, is an orphan with a lot on his mind. This character and many of the others around him are nicely drawn with more detail than I think is typical of books aimed at middle school and high school students. This is all the more reason they should read it. As a parent of two who are now grown and gone, I strongly recommend that parents and teens read the same books and talk about them. This is an ideal book for sharing in this fashion.”

Comments from Adults
“I've read quite a few fantasy books in my life. I've read quite a few Young Adult books as well. Sometimes, straight fantasy books are too involved and long winded. Archer by Jacky Gray, was not one of those books!!! I must have said, 'one more chapter' about 20 times!! I couldn't put it down. Archer was such a well developed character and Ms. Gray's writing style was nothing short of amazing!”

“Archer is a great read, that once I started I just had to keep going. As a medieval re-enactor myself I found Archer very close to heart with what I do as a hobby. Jacky has achieved a great sense of being in the setting of a Medieval village and the events leading up to Archer's graduation.”

“Anyone who promotes Archery in any of its forms is to be congratulated in my book and I think somewhere along the way Jacky must have got caught up in the sport judging by the passion of her writing. I thought the sword and buckler bout between Finn and Archer was incredibly well done, a very engaging piece of writing.”

“Archer is fascinating and captivating! I love the way the characters, scenes and general description of Archer's world is portrayed so eloquently. Jacky Gray not only tells a wonderful tale; she manages to capture the sounds, smells and emotional energies of his world.”

“Archer is a tale spun in the days of the knights, but takes a different twist than traditional knight’s tales. Ms. Gray brings to the reader a new world filled with authentic traditional language, giving a sense of travelling back in time. This is not a book filled with fluff and half masked characters.”

“This read perfectly, as an action adventure story should. The plot pacing moved quickly, and the excitement of tournament was written so realistically that I could hear the hush and roar of the crowds as if I was there too. I also enjoyed the main character, Archer, he was likable and very much the classic story hero.”

“I know the exact feeling Archer and Finn feel after the impact, I've done competitive contact martial arts for almost twenty years and I can tell you, I really love the detail you put here. It connected me to the characters in a visceral way.”

“Jacky has nailed the character of a medieval archer; the books are a thrilling blend of action and rich historical detail.” “I enjoyed 'Archer', an engaging story whose Pagan spirituality is gently and attractively presented. Jacky has produced a credible parallel universe, a combination of the English middle ages blended with modern-day England in realistic and well realised settings.”

Comments from Not-so-grown ups
“Archer was amazing! I couldn't put it down. It only took me two days to read it when it normally takes me a week. Archer is a unique book there is none other like it. If I met Archer I would have a lot of questions to ask him about what it is like to live in his world. I love the way the girls get to do archery and the rings and I would love to do all the drama bits. I like the way that everyone's talents are recognised, nobody tries to take the mick.” 

“My mum was planning to read the book before I did but I insisted on reading it first so she has to wait. So far your book has been one of the best I've read in years. I'm looking forward to your next book.”

“Archer takes you into his world and you can feel the atmosphere of his surroundings.”

“An exhilarating story that sucks you in so it feels like you’re actually there. Pure genius.”

“The action scenes are so exciting it’s like watching a film.”

Mmmm - now if only I can think of some way of getting this kind of feedback out to a wider audience. Any ideas, dear readers?

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Lulu Helix Review - Book Genome project

The good people at Lulu were offering a book review at a massive discount (40% off). I was very pleased with their detailed analysis of Archer compared to other young adult novels (specifically Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials"). If anyone knows of another YA book that Archer most resembles, I'd be pleased to hear it.

Anyway the stats went something like this:
Archer YA HDM RA Range
Motion 61 59 61 68 46-72
Density 40 26 27 47 10-42
Dialog 68 65 74 60 51-79
Description 34 35 41 38 21-49
 HDM is His Dark Materials, RA is the Rangers Apprentice series by John Flanagan - apparently Archer's scores most closely match 4 of this series of books. Not one I'd come across, but guess what I'll be looking for to read next?

Just to explain the metrics: 
Motion is the description of physical motion in a scene, for YA books this ranges from 46 to 72% of the book (average 59%). Archer scores well on this.
Density is a language complexity measure (sentence structure, vocab breadth etc) - Archer is right at the top end for YA making it a challenging read.
Dialogue does not include internal monolgue - Archer is on the high side for this (no kidding! - it comes from my being an Air sign - we lurve to talk).
Description needs no explanation - I'm pleased to see Archer is just below average - my eyes glaze over when there is too much, I figure many YA readers are the same.

The analysis also included some stats about word/sentence/paragraph and book length compared to averages for YA and all books. I'm happy to say that Archer generally comes smack bang in between the two, backing up a number of comments from people (see next post).
YA Archer Adult
Book length 49,296 54,813 82,112
Paragraph 38 54 72
Sentence 13 17 17
Word  4.2 4.3 4.5
Unique Vocab 4,853 6,060 7,555

The DNA analysis suggested the major themes were: Medieval Weapons & Armor, Strategic Planning / Conflict Management, Crowds/Audience, Horses, Music/Performance, Expressions of Emotion and School/College environment. I'd agree with these, but was surprised there was no mention of ancient festivals/enchantment or wood-working/crafts.

The other thing they did was to create a highly skewed frequency density chart (Wordle to most of us) for the most unique words in Archer compared to other books on the market. Here is their version:

I was surprised by a number of their choices (instant, despite, boy, rest, girl, start, break, point, round) these did not feel at all unique, but it gave me an idea. I've been playing with one or two Wordle look-alikes - watch this space.

The upshot is, I would recommend this analysis - even at the full price of £34.99 (approx $50) this is pretty good value and gives some good marketing ideas as well. They also do a lite version at £19.99 (approx $30) with no DNA or comparible titles analysis, but well worth getting if it's all you can afford. You can find it here:

Good Luck

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Best Holiday Evah - Bar none!

Apologies for the dodgy puns, but it is who I am. Yep, that really was me snuggling under a duvet in the first class cabin, sipping champagne and feeling grimier by the second as the harrowing tale of Les Mis unfolded.
I reckon everyone should travel first class once in their lives if they can - a huge thank you to Sam and Barry for making it possible. And here's what else they gave us :

Yep, Barbados really was a perfect piece of Paradise - and a virtually private beach with a mill-pool sea 500 yards on from fun filled body-surfing breakers. All one needed was a Pina Colada or the best Rum Punch on the island - oh the lengths we went to on the quest of that little gem! Sheer Bliss!