Tuesday, 21 June 2016

SLS - a nasty chemical to know more about since you encounter it every day!

'SLS for short' - or SodiumLauryl Sulfate for long. If you have the suspicion washing your face is making your skin dry, or that shampooing is giving you an itchy scalp or making your eyes sting, or that cleaning your teeth is giving you mouth ulcers, SLS is the likely cause. Read this article on the ten top reasons to avoid using it and you will find it a bit scary. The most scary reason is that, whatever it's in, it helps other chemicals to penetrate your tissue; SLS is a penetration enhancer, meaning that its molecules are so small they’re able to cross the membranes of your body’s cells. Once cells are compromised, they become more vulnerable to other toxic chemicals that may be with the SLS.
Are you using it? Well not unless you use soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, detergents, mascara, mouthwash... the lists goes on.
Why am I bothering to write up on it? Because this knowledge might help YOU as it did ME! For many decades I have frequently had bad ulcers on the sides of my tongue. Even when they were not making it painful to eat they were sitting there dormant, waitint to pounce. Then I read an article, did some reasearch, read the article I linked above, and then went down to Tesco to look at all their toothpaste and shampoos for the dreaded ingredient. I had come to the conclusion I wanted to try a toothpaste without SLS in case that was the cause of my tongue (and mouth) ulcers. The results of that were amazing. The only toothpaste I found without SLS was a range from Sensodyne; I now use their ProNamel. And guess what! Within a week my dormant tongue ulcers had gone! After decades of haunting me! Gone! Point proven?
And if you would like to use a shampoo without it in (given it can permeate eyes, brain, heart and liver), then you might want to change from the usual ranges. Go for a kid's shampoo? Good try, but after checking every shampoo in the store I found it was in them all but one: yes products for adults AND children AND babies. The ONLY one I found without SLS was in a brown, pear-shaped bottle, callled Macadamia Oil by OGX Beauty Ltd (UK). (And it's nice  to use!)
So that's why I am going off-piste to tell you about SLS. Maybe, just maybe, this knowledge will help turn around someone else's health for the better.

Friday, 6 May 2016

If you can make your reader know how a character might react in a sitatuation they're real!

 Jennifer Lloyd - known as 'Jen' to her special friends, is the lead character in my new novel: 'The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd'.

Readers will really be able to get into her head because she is both protagonist and first-person narrator. And she's a very strong 25 year-old with fierce ambitions to set aside a troubled past - which included sexual abuse in a children's home - and make a name for herself in her new career as a television presenter.

Jen takes risks, and one of them was to say she had a Masters Degree in Ecology on a CV seen by her primary source of income: the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). She fears that if they discover this her career will be over. So she has a plan. Make herself famous and they won't want to lose her. And that plan? To unmask a murderer: LIVE on-camera!

Jen is just one of a number of very real characters, and this image is one I use on Twitter to introduce them - and to take people to the page on my website which gives you far more detail.

I believe in strong characterisation, and I will tell you more about Jen herself in a future post. But here is a brief rundown on those you can see in this picture.

Ami is Jen's best friend and confidant. She is Chinese and shared a room with Jen in the children's home. They've always been there for each other.

Digby is owner of the Dorset house and gardens attraction called Solent House and Gardens. His wife died under suspicious circumstances with the police believing he was her killer. But lack of evidence got him off. Yet his handman disappeared the same night - and a pet do there also died. Far too many coincidences, and the reason why Jen feels there is a huge story to uncover: one that will make her famous.

Susie is Jen's adored little poodle, Robin is Digby's son, Eric is Jen's boss, and Vera is Digby's housekeeper: very aggressive towards Jen's intrusion in the 'big house'. To find out more about them click here. It will show you how real these characters really are.

Strong characters are needed to engage a reader

 My latest mystery thriller is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Waterstones. Select your favourite online store here. It is mainly set in the real UK location of Christchurch, near Bournemouth. I've published a couple of walks in the area so you can walk in the footsteps of its protagonist and narrator, Jennifer Lloyd.

It's getting some great reviews so far, so that's a relief - after at least 18 month's work.

BookViral said it is: 'a fine melding of mystery thriller and contemporary fiction'. I agree it is a cross-over in that it offers far more character-depth than an ordinary thriller. That was my aim: to make it a really interesting read. I believe that while plot is the driver of a novel,  strong characterisation is needed to engage a reader - and hence make a novel memorable. The same review also stated it was 'exceptionally entertaining'. Again the aim!

So please check it out on my website to discover why it is already on the 'To Read' lists of over 500 people on Goodreads.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

'The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd' can now be pre-ordered from Amazon

An exciting day today. My upcoming mystery thriller, 'The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd, has just appeared on Amazon. Fullest details are on Amazon.com but it is also visible on most other sites including Amazon.co.uk. So it shouldn't be many days before you see stock available. The Amazon sites allow you to pre-order. They email you when it is available and only take your cash then. So if you want a copy, get your order in now: and that will expedite them getting in the stock and will mean a quicker delivery.

I can't wait for you to meet Jennifer Lloyd. She's been my preserve for far too long now. A constant companion.

To find out more about this novel, read pre-pub reviews, etc, vist my website at: www.iankingsley.com/books/jennifer-lloyd/.

If you enjoy reading this novel - and I've put a lot of effort into trying to deliver something entertaining and unusual - then please post an Amazon review afterwards. That would not only be very kind - it would be very helpful! I don't have a big publisher behind me - just an Indie - so your endorsement is the best kind of promotion I can hope for. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

When A Character Takes Over!

My third novel, a mystery thriller called The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd, was the most unusual writing experience I have ever had, and that's after decades of writing one thing or another - and of making a living out of writing. Why?

Firstly, it is first-person, from a woman's pont-of-view (POV). Yes, I have always been comfortable with scenes having female POV - although male is first choice, where this works best. But I have never before had the notion of using a female narrator for an entire book. (Thankfully, a female reviewer of 'Grave Concerns' said I created a 'charming young woman'. So that was a relief. Although, I should say, she is far from charming when push comes to shove!)

But even that wasn't the reason this was my most unusual writing experience. The reason is that Jen -  yes the titular Jennifer Lloyd - came into my mind fully-formed right from the  outset of the story idea. More than that, she virtually dictated the direct manner she wanted to be presented on the page. She comes from a broken background and is short of friends, and she wanted the reader to be her friend: a confidant to whom she can relate, speak, joke.

I could have tamed her, stood back and controlled her, pushed her around via third-person, but it is a real gift when a character comes to the fore like this, so I went with it. It proved to be a delightful experience, and it led to a great depth of  character.

Normally a novelist gets to know their characters gradually, as a novel progresses, so this really was unusual. My first (failed) attempts at writing novels when I was a teenager were beset by cardboard characters. I was plagued by not knowing how to make them seem real. In those days it seemed as if Sherlock Holmes' style observations - characteristations of a man with a limp, poor eyesight, and worse - were the things which distinguished character, but how wrong I was. I now know that it is their psyche which characterises them: how they think, what the want, what has moulded them...

I now like to allow my readers to peep into their heads to understand what makes them tick - or, at least, figure it out from their behaviour and dialogue. I believe each novel has taught me a little more about achieving this, and 'Grave Concerns', and the deep knowledge I had of its protagonist, feels like an achievement because of the intimiate involvement I had with its lead character.

When you boil it all down, you could say its all due to experience. But I think it's something more than that. It is a case of understanding how to understand (your characters)!

Friday, 14 February 2014

'IF' by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Having Faith... in Faith Itself

Christians can sometimes find faith difficult to sustain. It's easy enough to celebrate your faith when things go well, but what about when they don't? What about when you don't feel you're getting through to God?

As a Christian with a very strong faith, I believe that if things go wrong it's my fault, and if things go right, God has a hand. Some would say that is naive - certainly non-believers would. As a Christian you should know that God is only walking beside you when you are on the right path. But what about when it is difficult to know which path to take?

Just consider this for a moment. Put yourself in the place of a loving father (or mother, if you prefer). Your child has grown to an age where they understand right from wrong and need to make it a bit in the world on their own. You have given them guidance through their formative years, and they are venturing out in the big wide world. Do you believe that giving them advice on what to do at every step is the right way forward? Or do you think it might be better to encourage them to make their own decisions?

Now if God was visible next to you, telling you what to do all the time, would you be leading a life of your own? If he spoke to you so clearly you had 100% certainty he was telling you precisely what to do all the time? At first you might think that would be cool, but would it? How would you develop as a person - as a soul - if you did not have to work out anything for yourself? As a parent you want to see your child making decisions and celebrate when they are right, and your teaching has paid off, or perhaps give them a hint at your displeasure if you see them straying from the right path. That is what God is doing with his children: with all believers. He gives us guidance through the Bible. As believers, his ways are in our hearts.

In Old Testament times God was more proactive. People like Moses knew precisely what he wanted. Today God has stepped back. That does not mean he is aloof. It means he wants to see what you're made of. (Doubting) Thomas didn't believe what he heard from his close friends, the other disciples, about Jesus having appeared to them. He wanted to see for himself before he would believe. When he later saw Jesus, lo-and-behold, he did believe. He only believed when he saw the wounds in the resurrected body of Jesus.  So Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me you believe; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:26-30). John 20 ends by saying that 'by believing you may have life in his name.'

By retaining your faith you signal your belief to God. And when you retain it through difficult times you all the more strongly show it and get God's blessing as a result. God will be there to advise you when your faith is strong, your questions right and not just self-serving, and when you are wanting to walk along his path - although you might have to wait for him to be your guide if he does not think conditions are quite right for the journey. If he is not responding to you, ask yourself whether he is waiting for you to show a bit of initiative - while retaining your faith.

If there was 100% certainty in God there would be no such thing as faith. Everyone would believe in a visible God and do as he directed - mostly out of fear of repercussions if they did not - and you, a believer, would no longer be unique to him. If you are able, think back to the pride you have when your children do well,  make good decisions and set great examples - especially to their own children.

Now that God requires faith as evidence of believe, he knows his sheep: the ones who follow, in faith.     So do believe in Faith itself.


My novel Flying a Kite is entertaining fiction that is aimed at providing insight into faith for Christians who may sometimes wonder how belief in God can be upheld against the findings of modern science. It is also an easy-access read for non-believers, gently leading them to a position where they consider the concept of God and make their own decision as to whether the case presented by its protagonist makes logical sense in the modern world. Please read it. If, as a result, you think it would help others to develop their faith, then please write an Amazon review to attract more readers whom it may also help - and tell your friends. 

Please click the image below for more information, including a video trailer. Thank you!

Sorry I rarely post. But I do frequently tweet as @authorkingsley

I'm so sorry that I rarely post. But, this is to inform you, I do tweet several times nearly every day. Which forces me to get to the point in 140 characters!
However, I will try to post on this blog a little more. Starting today!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Defined: prologue, epilogue, foreword, preface, introduction, afterword, postscript, footnotes, end notes

There is great confusion between the names of material used to sandwich the main portion of a book. Here are some brief guidelines to distinguish between them. It is based upon my own research. Apologies for any errors!

A prologue or epilogue is only used in fiction. All the rest are names for different types of material used in either fiction or non-fiction. 

All these things are optional. None of them presume the need for any other.

Prologue. Only use a prologue in fiction. It comes BEFORE the actual beginning of the story to introduce characters or to explain past events or history that might need to be explained, or to generally intrigue the reader. It's a great place to provide information relevant to your story without have to go through flashbacks or torturous dialogue in your first few chapters. Keep it short. Bear in mind many people skip it!

Epilogue. Only use an epilogue in fiction. It comes AFTER the story in order to provide some conclusion when the story leaves something hanging. Don't include plot spoilers in case someone reads it before the story!

Foreword. A foreword (NB NOT 'forward'), are words BEFORE the main text which are NOT written by the author. Someone else tell readers WHY they should read the book. This is the place for a guest celebrity or author to praise and introduce the book. It should make an emotional connection with the reader. A foreword should always be 'signed off' by someone other than the author.

Preface. A preface explains HOW the book came about. It is similar to a foreword, but it is written BY the book's author.

Introduction. An introduction does what it implies: it introduces WHAT follows as a concise overview for the reader.

Afterword. An afterword is similar to a foreword except that it comes AFTER the main work instead of before it. Another purpose is to respond to critical remarks made about a previous edition.

Postscript. Seldom used today, a postscript provides further information about the preceding work, perhaps containing brief information about a sequel or related material.

Footnotes. These are used at the foot of a page to amplify topics raised on the SAME page.  They are linked to by reference numbers within the main text. Ensure they are on the correct page in the final printed work! If you need more than a couple on any given page, perhaps you should consider using End Notes instead. Too many footnotes become tiresome!

End Notes. These are used at the end of a book to amplify topics raised within the main body. They are normally linked to by reference numbers within the main text. They are less intrusive than footnotes, but are less likely to be read.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please visit my website, iankingsley.com to see what else I write!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Authors: Create a Simple Twitter Header to Look More Professional

Twitter now offers you the chance of upgrading the background image behind the header picture and profile description. Doing it makes your Twitter account look more professional. Check-out mine at @authorkingsley to see what I am talking about.

Just open your Twitter profile to Edit and you will see the 'Change Header' dropdown button offering 'Choose existing image'. OK, so you need to generate an image first. Here's how.

I suggest you go for the maximum size they allow which is 1252 pixels wide by 626 pixels high. Use whatever graphics program you are familiar with to set up an image, remembering that: a) the default white text of your profile needs a dark area for the bottom half of the image to be readable; b) your photo will be superimposed centre-top, and you need to allow for that. Be aware that Twitter automatically darkens the bottom of any image you upload so as to aid a satisfactory contrast between the superimposed profile lettering and your image.

Some people have managed to merge a head-and-shoulders into the profile full-face picture but the chances of you getting that to align well and look good are very small. So why try?

What I did on my page was to plant a book cover image on either side of the profile picture, each at around 300-350 pixels high. You could use a straight black background on which to mount them. I used a stars background to add a little more interest. Putting cover images is a great way of signalling what you are and what you have produced. You get a preview during the initial phase of uploading so, if things don't look quite right, adjust the source image. Be prepared to slide the book cover images around to look their best.

You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words - and Twitter will never let you have those!

That's it! Just upload that image and there you go. If necessary afterwards, change the background image to better match the header, via Settings > Design and then the 'Change background' tab. (You can also upload your own image here, but beware of getting too clever and presenting a busy-busy appearance which can be off-putting. I believe simple background images work best.)

Oh, and if you found this article helpful, please follow me on Twitter. And, as a fellow author, it would be fantastic if you re-tweeted the odd tweet about my books now and then. Thanks a lot!