It seems a lot of my recent posts have been apologising for not being around very much. This one will be no different, it seems.
Still, I’m sure you lovely folks don’t exactly live your lives waiting for me to post my next little ditty, so no harm done.
Anyways, I hope you’re all well! It seems that this year has moved along at break-neck speed and I can barely turn around without whole weeks having scurried by. The Steampunk season, as it seems to be to me, is coming to a close, I think. At least in the North. Howarth has a charity Steampunk event in aid of cancer research this weekend which I’ll be attending and hopefully doing some good there. Leeds has its usual Christmas Market coming up as well as an event on the 29th of November (which I can’t remember where it is at the minute but I’ll be there, anyway). There is also a Steampunk craft fair in my own fair Doncaster on the 1st of December which you should all try to get to. It’s their first time so it’d be great to show them some support. I’ll certainly be there if only because it’s above the Salutation pub and the bar will be only a few steps away
And that will no doubt be very much done and dusted until after Christmas, I imagine. At least in my neck of the woods. But with a new year will come a lot of new, fun stuff. I certainly can’t wait for you all to meet Alan Shaw and join in on his adventures. I’m so excited that a wee just a little every time I think about it. I have reports from my excellent editor, Peter, that it’s well underway and the lion’s share of the edits might be done by the turn of the year. I’m really looking forward to reading his comments, as he always has a great insight, especially as a fan of Steampunk himself.
Other than that, I’m off to try and catch up with some more uni work. I seem to constantly be on the back foot this year and I need to get that sorted out.
Anyway, salutations, my friends.
Thanks for reading.
Someone once said to me “is there anything you don’t do” when I said I’d have a go at pretty much anything when it comes to my writing. Screenplays, comic scripts, prose, haiku, I’ve had a bash at it all. With varying degrees of success (mostly varying into the “that was abysmal” area of the gauge). But one thing I’m really quite terrible at is poetry. I don’t think I’ve read enough of it, or know enough about it, to have a decent idea of what makes a poem good or how one works and another doesn’t.
But… (you were waiting for the “but” weren’t you?)
Despite all that, I kind of enjoy writing poetry. Especially when i’m having a blank spot with my prose. It’s a great way of making your brain take a step back and do something different. And I find that even thought my poems are pretty damn terrible, the occasional line comes out of them that I can then use in my prose later.
And so, because I love you all (or hate you, depending on your perspective) I’m going to subject you to….I mean…let you read some of my poems! These should come with a government health warning, so remember to ward yourself against the dark arts before you read on.
A TreeIn coldness I’m naked, In heat I’m stifled with clothing. My feet are bare in the rain, My skin splits int he sun. I eat nothing, Say nothing, And watch politely as you roll and screech and chew at my feet.
The FenceThey said the grass is greener. So here I am, to find out; To frolic on your rockery; To peep inside your potting shed. I hopped the fence, landing bare foot on your lawn, And marveled at the greener than green, the new scented breeze. But now I’m ready to go back home to familiar soil, I see that on this side the fence is higher from the ground.
Short sightedI don’t want to know every hammer that forged you, only to study you as you are. Let me admire the scar as part of you. the strike of an expert chisel Rather than some half-remembered story. I’ll trace the coloured lines across your skin Not questioning what whim of inspiration decorated you. You were born with them, Only moments ago when we met and nothing you have done matters now. With no past to spit at each other, no future to plan, or weighted expectation, we’ll exist only in this moment and those like it.
Well, I hope you enjoyed them, or at least didn’t pluck your eyes from your head in disgust. Any comments, as always, are most welcome.
Thanks for reading.
That’s right, it’s finally official. Just about every waking moment of my existence has become embroiled in some kind of cog-based awesomeness in one manner or another.
The Steampunk Doncaster festival continues to grow at an exponential rate (and there’s still room for more to get involved!), particularly my own section, the Litarium where we now have not only a stack of author signings and workshops, but graphic novelists, poets, competitions and the like going on. Brilliant!
We’ll also be shooting a video for a kickstarter campaign which might help us cover the costs of some of those brilliant things that’ll be going on. As Steampunk Doncaster is a non-profit kind of thing, we’ve begged and borrowed all we can so far, but to make it extra special I’m afraid cash is necessary; if only for posters, leaflets and to get our hands on some cool prizes for the competitions. So keep your fingers crossed, everyone,a nd I’ll post the vid as soon as it’s done.
Elsewhere, work on my next novel continues. The Adventures of Alan Shaw has almost had its first full edit and will soon be ready for consumption by Inspired Quill and a few trusted honest folk to let me know if it’s utter tosh or not.
And I’ve been making things again! As always, with festivals and the like coming up, I’ve been tinkering with some doodads for my outfit including some elbow pads (I’ve torn too many shirts falling off my velocipede) and a sidearm just in case things get a little bit hairy…
I’ll show you the final result sometime later in the week, I hope. Any ideas on improvements that you gusy might have are more than welcome
I’m also gearing up (hardy har) for my appearance at the Doncaster Turn The Page literary festival next week where I’ll be expected to string together coherent sentences for a whole hour infront of a crowd. Trying to figure out what people will be interested in hearing about from a little squib like me is baffling and I’ve had to turn to Twitter for suggestions. But not much has been forthcoming. Again, any suggestions are welcome! Otherwise the festival may be the last place I’m ever seen alive.
But that’s about all for now. Not a long post, but a succinct one, I’m sure you’ll agree. See you all soon!
Thanks for reading.
It’s been insane lately. And brilliant.
I’ve mostly been working on contacting authors for the Steampunk Doncaster festival in June this year. As regulars will know, I’m the festival’s “Man of Words” which mean that I’m organising everything that goes on in the Litarium, a section of the fest devoted to words whether they be written, spoken or performed.
And the interest in attending the event has been brilliant so far. In fact, we already have several authors confirmed. Among the brilliant talent we have attending are L.M. Cooke, author of the Automata Wars novels, Meg Kingston who has written an intriguing premise with Chrystal Heart. Anna Chen, poet of the renowned Opium Wars saga will be performing her work with the aid of a guitarist. As well as all these authors doing signings, talks, and other activities, we’ll also be hosting a discussion by Allegra Hawksmoor of the eminent Steampunk Magazine!
Not only that but we have copies of a true Victorian classic called Hartmann the Anarchist. Written in the 1800s, Hartmann may have been the first book ever to use dirigibles in a science fiction story! There’ll also be fiction competitions for adults and children, and a Limerick jam just for fun where people can turn up and share their humourous or interesting little ditties with us. I can’t wait for that bit.
And it continues to grow. Other areas of the festival have artwork, displays, a HUGE trader’s market and other fun stuff going on.
So that’s what I’ve been up to recently. As well as the usual uni assignments, day job and trying to find time to write. Which brings me to my next announcement. As part of the Steampunk Doncaster event, a new blog has been launched. Starting as a bit of fun, the idea for the blog soon grew and grew until we now have a fully-functioning serialised story being posted on a weekly basis. Following Her Majesty’s Airship Deedworthy, the story will chronicle the adventures of the crew, including interviews with the airmen and women, and lead up to a landing in June in Doncaster just in time for the festival…unless their adventures take them elsewhere.
As you might of guessed, it’s me who’s writing the story, and I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m not planning ahead, not thinking about a plot, I’ll just see how it turns out each week and hopefully it’ll be a rip-roaring good adventure! The first installment is already up there, so go take a look and let me know what you think
Hope to see you there!
Thanks for reading.
Hi everyone. Hope you all had a good festive period. Mine was quiet as I was working the night shift and sleeping the rest of the time, but for an old Scrooge like me, that’s no big deal.
In writing news…
With the first draft of The Adventures of Alan Shaw in the bag, I’m going to let it simmer a while, which means I’m at a loose end. And so, a few little side projects have sprung up for me to tinker with. Firstly, I’ve decided to try something completely new and out of my realms of experience in writing a graphic novel script. The basic premise can only be described as a cross between Evil Dead and Hellraiser, and who knows what means, right? I had the idea originally as a horror movie screenplay, but I just can’t make the jump to the writing style and all that formatting etc. Not yet, anyway. I’m afraid the project doesn’t have a title yet (Let’s just call it “the comic” for now) but I’m enjoying it. Thinking of how to move the action along in snapshots instead of in prose is proving a challenge and it’s keeping me entertained. Also fitting the story to the set boundaries of what would fit into a single issue of a comic, and then the story arc into a graphic novel’s length is a tough one. I’m jut winging it so far. We’ll see how it goes.
Also, I’m working on my non-fiction a little more. Some of you may know that I’ve written movie reviews for a long time now, for all kinds of different websites, and that recently ishitonyouraocalypse.com has taken me in to do exclusively horror-based reviews. Since I’m a huge horror fan, this is pretty much an invitation to disaster since I’ll just end up watching even more films than ever before. I’ve also taken a complete tangent away from that and started to use my nursing experience to write opinion articles. Coming up with ideas is really challenging, and I doubt they’ll ever get published because they’re a tad…unusual. But they’re great fun to write. I think I might be pitching the concepts a bit high, though, since my first one was about nurses having an existential crisis in the current NHS climate. I might want to break that one down a tad.
I’ve also been editing, as I may have mentioned before, someone else’s novel. And THAT’S an interesting experience. It’s so hard to edit your own work, to see it objectively rather than as your little paper baby, but editing other people’s is pretty fun. I’m mostly sticking to grammar and punctuation at the minute, but keep branching out to suggestions on how to enhance theme, character, dialogue and all those other lovely little nuggets that make a good story. I think I could do this full-time. Definitely. In fact, I’ve been looking into it. What do you guys think? Would anyone be interested in my opinion on their work? Or am I getting ahead of myself? With one published novel and a flurry of short stories, I’m hardly Stephen King. But even if I haven’t won the Booker Prize, I do know a hell of a lot about writing. I think I might even know more about that than nursing, which is potentially quite scary…
And so, as you can see, I’ve been busy. I’ve also been reading for my uni course, a load of T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf at the minute, which is kind of interesting and it’s leading me toward reading things that are more up my alley. I’ll leave it there, because I feel a subsequent blog post coming on.
Thanks for reading.
January 19, 2013 | Categories: author, epublishing, horror, learning, Literature, Movie review, studying, Work in progress, writer, writing | Tags: reading, Studying, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, writing | 3 Comments »
Hi everyone. Sorry I’ve not been around. I think I only missed one week’s actual blogging, but I’ve been slacking off for longer than that. Or, should I say, I’ve been busy. Busy busy busy.
Last week, for instance, I went on a ghost hunt. You heard. Me and an intrepid group of friends went to Knottingly town hall throughout the night to experience some ghastly goings-on. It ended up being extremely fun, and a little bit pants. But that was part of the fun. Wandering round in the dark with just our little group, torches in hand, creeping along like the Scooby Gang, was the best part of the evening. Although my inability to explain the table tipping comes a close second. If it wasn’t for the mediums and their total disregard for the laws of physics, I’d have been even happier (One fo them said that the grainy effect you see when you’re in the dark is “seeing the energy of the world”. Nothing to do with photoreceptors, apparently). But, I had my trusty talisman to protect me:
And this little group of gems to act as ectoplasmic cannon fodder should the proverbial shit “get real”:
Other than that, it’s been business as usual. Plugging Greaveburn, looking for places to do signings or just to turn up and do a jig (I’m quit the Jigenator, when I need to be). I’ve also applied for a couple of jobs totally unrelated to my current Nursing career. Gasp. That’s right, folks, I’ve gone for writing jobs. Jobs that will mean that I write for a living as well as for fun. This could be either empowering or catastrophic. I’ll let you know how it goes. Cross your digits for me.
Other than that, it’s been full steam ahead (pardon the pun) with my next novel. As some of you may know, it’s being tentatively named The Chronicles of Alan Shaw (or just Alan Shaw for short), and it will be my first forays into Steampunk when I actually know that it exists. Unlike when I wrote Greaveburn and I had no idea. I’m not saying that I have any more of an idea now, but at least I’m going in with my eyes open and goggles firmly in place. Anyway, new project, new writing-high. It’s going well. I’m approx 75k words in, and only half way through as a rough estimate. It’s going to be an epic, I hope, with lots of juicy tidbits and complications and (without giving too much away) tie-ins, hopefully. We shall see…
Ooooh, let’s see…what else? I’ve been introduced to David Lynch films by the aforementioned James. I know, I know. Where have I been, right? Apparently buried under a laptop-shaped rock. As we finished our ghost hunting endeavours at 4am, we decided on a movie marathon the next day which consisted of Lost Highway, Hook, The Crow, and Monsters Inc. Quite the eclectic mix there, but it was a blast. There was Haribo and pizza, and many-a discussion about what Lost Highway actually meant. I don’t think we got very far with that last part. But any excuse to watch Bill Pullman play an adult character is fine by me (We shall not forsake thee, Bill, for the crimes of Casper).
And that’s just a few reasons I haven’t been around. Others include decorating and starting my next Open University course, but they’re boring ones.
Don’t forget, folks, that the Greaveburn Competition closes at midnight tonight. There have been some great entries (even a saucy one) and I’ll post the winner next Saturday. If you’ve been slacking and haven’t entered yet, get on it! A few late entries will be forgiven because I’m not a totalitarian author by any stretch of the imagination, so there’s still chance.
Have a good week!
Thanks for reading
As we all know, sometimes you pick up a book/kindle/newspaper or whatever, and those words on the page just hit you. They soak into your blood, firing neurons of imagination and hooking you like literary crack. Sometimes it can be just a little snippet. The first line or a little description, perfectly written. Here are some of the snippets, quotes and excerpts that get my brain making that happy little noise inside my cranium. Enjoy!
William Hughes Mearnes – Antigonish (1889)
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…
When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)
Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away
There is just something about this poem that reaches down into the animal part of my psyche and tells me to be utterly afraid. The first and last stanzas are often used in isolation and they’re the most evocative, but I think the whole poem really needs to be read with the lights on. And with this one in mind, there’s a quote from the eminent Stephen King which I think sums up that animal compulsion which gives the unfounded fear of the dark which we all have:
The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.
We’ve all been there right? We’d like to think that it was back when we were kids, with the covers over our head, trying to breath quieter so the thing wont get us. But you and I both know it was far more recent than that…
Anyways, on the back of Stephen’s awesome quote, I’d like to share one of my favourite lines from a book. The opening of The Gunslinger, which I think is a brilliant piece of understated genius:
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
They always say that you should try to intrigue your readers in the first few pages of any book. With this opening line, Stephen (I like to pretend we’re on first name terms. It’s creepier) managed to make me think “Shit, who is he and what’s he done?”. Good work, King, good work.
I know I seem to be obsessed with Dark Towers (and I am, no doubt about it) this description from one of my favourite books, Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan, may have been one of the most influential sections of literature to ever grace my brain:
This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven. At night the owls made of it an echoing throat; by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow.
Yowza. Creep-tastic! I want to go and read it all again now. It’s officially back on The List.
But I’ve been a bit dark so far so I want to share some Pratchett with you. However, as it turns out, everything he’s ever written (particularly in the Discworld series) is absolutely hilarious and I’m struggling to not only hold my stomach while reading, but to pick from the plethora of geniosity that is Pratchett. So here’s just a couple to tide you over. Hope you haven’t had recent abdominal surgery, because you’re about to burst your stitches:
“Sodomy non sapiens,” said Albert under his breath.
“What does that mean?”
“Means I’m buggered if I know.”
“I’m not going to ride on a magic carpet!” he hissed. “I’m afraid of grounds.”
“You mean heights,” said Conina. “And stop being silly.”
“I know what I mean! It’s the grounds that kill you!”
- Rincewind and his unquestionable logic (Sourcery)
Well, that’s it for now, folks. I hope that’s given you a little insight into what has made my brain tick over the years.
Thanks for reading.
Hi everyone. This is a first for me, the blog and the world at large. This is my attempt to go all multimedia on you and so I hope it works. As some of you may know if you saw the Midweek Announcement post earlier this week, I have had the very unexpected honour of having one of my short stories from Not Before Bed read out on my local Doncaster radio station Sine FM. The Book It show have been good to me of late. Not only will they be airing an interview with myself about the release of Greaveburn on their next show, but they jumped in early to ask me if I minded them reading one of my short stories out on air. Of course, I snatched their proverbial hand off. Of course I didn’t mind! Now, I think you should hit the earlier link to listen to the whole show. Sheila North, who does most of it, has a lovely American accent with a very calming influence. But, for the sake of the blog I’ve cut to the juicy bit and just edited the story for the file below. Have a listen if you have a few minutes to kill.
(EDIT: The link has now been fixed!)
Yes, writing a book is a damn good start. It’s the ONLY start, in fact. But what comes after that? I don’t know about you, dear readers, but when I was feverishly typing well into the night, pulling out my hair when characters didn’t do as they were told, yelling EUREKA when everything starting coming together, I didn’t really consider what would happen afterwards other than “I want this to get published”. Such a simple dream, right? Well, it’s no easy task. I’m not going to bash on about how to get yourself an agent/publisher (I honestly believe that there is no one on the planet or in this dimension who can truly tell you how to do that, only tell you what NOT to do). And I’m not going to profess to understand all the ins and outs of publishing, marketing and selling books to you. The point of this post is to show you all the stages that I’ve come across in going from accepted draft to book-in-the-hand, and hopefully shine a little light on how complicated getting a book in print really is.
The irony of this stage is that it comes at the very beginning of your Book-Having journey, at a time when you’re still bouncing around the room at the idea of being accepted for publication, quaffing ale in celebration (I always wanted to quaff) and giving yourself a hearty pat on the back. It also happens to be the time when you need to be the most level-headed and thoughtful. Read it. Read it again. Email your potential publisher with questions. Read it again. No, really read it. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
Important things to note:
- Does it mention how much input you’ll have in the editing process? No publisher will relinquish the final word on decisions about your book, but somewhere in there it should mention negotiation and your creative right to withdraw should you be displeased with the path your novel is taking. It’s YOUR novel. You should be able to run away if you’re not happy with what’s going down.
- Does it tie you into a deal for your next few books? This is a mixed blessing. If they’re willing to sign you for the next few books, you have some solidarity for your next project. Just also be aware that this clause means you’re going nowhere. If you’re unhappy with the publisher for any reason over the course of this whole process, you might still have to submit your next book to them for consideration, even if you don’t accept the further contract in the end. This can be VERY restrictive for your future projects, or support them. Think about what it means to you.
Other than that, remember that a contract ties the publisher to you as much as the other way around. If they’re willing to sign you, they have faith in your work as a marketable product. That’s a bloody good thing. Go back to quaffing ale! WOOHOO!
Every author’s nightmare, the edits come first and so are gotten out-of-the-way fairly early on. Your publisher will assign you an Editor/Project Leader at this point. Get to know them. Give them a list of questions. Tell them what you were aiming to do with the book; subplots/subtexts, themes, character developments. That way, when they read your novel, they’ll know what you were aiming for and be able to pull at those strands, giving you an idea of if you’ve succeeded or not. Then any good Editor will tell you what areas to develop and possibly suggest how you might go about it.
They WILL ask you to rewrite. No-one’s novel goes through unscathed. This might be YOUR fifth draft, but it’s only the first as far as they’re concerned. Expect things to bounce back and forth a little. This is where your ability to take constructive criticism really needs to shine through. There are so many writers out there that bitch and whine at the slightest negative comment. You’ve met them on forums, Twitter, Facebook. You’ve thought “what a douchbag”. The Editor will be thinking the same thing. Don’t be that douchbag. Ask questions in order to clarify what they want you to do. You ARE allowed to negotiate. Maybe suggest other ways of making a similar plot/character change if you have another idea. But in the end, they generally know what they’re talking about. Unless it’s absolutely imperative to your novel, don’t be precious. What’s that famous bit of advise we’ve all heard a million times?
“Murder your darlings”
Now you’ve gone through the scary bit, we get to the utterly cool part. Don’t lie to me, you’ve imagined what that book cover will look like ever since enumerating the first chapter. Your publisher will have their own ideas, but that doesn’t stop you making suggestions. If they’re any good, they’ll ask you what you think, anyway. Look for artists yourself. It doesn’t hurt. The publisher might have their own cover artists on hand already, but getting some ideas from elsewhere is helpful. Find a few different things you like, drop it in their inbox (in a purely platonic sense). Why not?
The prelims (preliminary designs) will come back and you’ll probably pass out from excitement. Dust yourself off, splash your face and have another look. This is what people are going to see ON SHELVES. Squee! (Quaff quaff)
The cover is the face of your book. Once you’ve calmed down a little, think about what the image says about the content. Again, your publisher will have already thought about all this and taken it into consideration. But you have a duty to consider it too. The main point I’m making throughout most of this post is that you shouldn’t sit back and be quiet once you’ve “finished” your writing. You know the content of your novel better than anyone else, without exception. It’s your baby. Make sure you don’t regret any decisions so that when the release date comes around, you can beam with pride and oil your oversized head rather than fretting.
You’re already doing this. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Gods only know what else. You’re selling yourself as an author and a professional. But your Marketing Womble (some don’t like being called that. I wouldn’t suggest it unless you’re pretty confident in their sense of humour) is about to take that and hopefully blow it off the charts. Listen to them. It’s funny really, because as Writers we constantly paw over our wording, hidden meanings, trying to get across out ideas in the most succinct and effective way possible. So why do we tend to suck at writing about ourselves? Your bio needs to be as good as Chapter 1 of your novel. Maybe even better. You’re a writer. That makes you creative, interesting, intelligent, maybe a little eccentric (I don’t feel a single one of these things apart from the latter, but readers will kind of expect the others, too). Make sure that all your social networking reflects what an utterly fantastic human being you are behind that keyboard.
Your Marketing Womble will be compiling a press release pack. This is everything about you and your work in a neat little package. Work your angles, but make them obtuse (see? I did maths at GCSE!). For instance, while I’m trying to sell myself as an author and my novel is inherently a Gothic Steampunk story, that doesn’t mean that they’re the only niches I should appeal to. I’ve hit the Steampunk circuit about as hard as it’ll take, and the Goth scene, too. But I’m not restricting myself too much. Readers of all kinds of Speculative Fiction will be interested in Greaveburn (honestly, they will!) so similarly, make sure you tell everyone about your novel, not just the little nuggets of folk who are expressly interested.
In addition to that last point, remember that unless you’re a super-selling author, you’ll have a day job, too. I’m a Nurse, for example. So make sure that other people in your profession know what you’re doing. They’ll be interested. Who doesn’t have a day job and secretly harbour some other ambition, be it Rock Star, Writer or Athlete? Be that person who did what they want to do, and be as inspiring as you can be.
Now, as you all know, I’m still moving toward this point myself, and so I can’t go into detail about exactly how scary/brilliant the signings stage might be. Expect further input at a later date including photos and rants (and weeping fits when I make an ass of myself). What I can tell you about is interviews. Petrifying. Utterly petrifying. I made a major mistake here, folks, so pay attention and don’t do it yourself. DO NOT do radio interviews first. You’re live, recorded, and if you’re anything like me, you’re nervous as hell. Recipe for a big Disaster Cake with face-palm flavoured icing. Written interviews with newspapers/blog tours etc. mean that you can hone your answers so you don’t sound like an ass. Don’t get yourself into a situation where you’re live on air and the radio host puts you on the spot with a ridiculous request such as “come up with a codename for our other guest who wishes to remain anonymous…NOW! QUICKLY! THREE SECONDS TO GO!” (actual example). Hideous. I still have night-sweats. This is a pretty extreme example, but another is when people ask me what Steampunk is. As anyone who is into the genre knows, there is no succinct answer to that. Try not to ramble.
I could go on for ages about stupid things I’ve said or done on air. One was comparing a really irritating and obnoxious co-presenter as a zombie Bernard Manning LIVE-ON-AIR. I thought it was hilarious, and as it turns out, so did a lot of people who contacted me after the interview, but it was a huge risk. Have more control over your mouth than I do! Another example is how I’m so nervous that I start to answer a question without knowing what I’m going to say, and then in my rambling, forget what the original question was. I’m chuckling as I type this, but I could cry when I do it If you want a gret example of this, tune in to the July edition of the BookIt show on SineFM and listen to me make an utter fart out of myself while go from discussing Steampunk, to the fashionable benefits of plaid in five seconds flat. Hilarious. And pathetic.
Well Folks, that’s all we have time for this week. As always, I hope some of this has been informative/useful. Happy writing!
Thanks for reading.
Hi everyone. Today, we have part one of Lea’s story. Not only is she an up-and-coming marketing genius, but she’s the marketing genius behind the release of Greaveburn! In today’s post, she shows us that Marketing is like any other job, and astoundingly similar to making a break in writing. That is, it’s damn hard. Take a look at what she’s been up to since she graduated:
Finding the Right Path to Go Down
This July will be my third year since graduating. What have I done with this time? Well, on the face of it I have simply been working in a shop, keeping my head down, waiting for my life to start. And, to an extent, for some of the time I probably have done a bit of this when I’ve become disillusioned with how damn hard it is to get to where you want to be in life. Throughout school, college and even university itself we were all told that degrees are the keys to success, the door opener, the life starter: but that has proven to be far from the case. I can’t tell you how many jobs I have applied for across how many industries. Most of those job applications haven’t even resulted in a “thanks but no thanks” email. In part, it’s because my CV needed rewriting. It was also due to me not really having decided where I wanted to go in my career. I also found that I quite enjoyed the job that I had fallen into after I left university and was unsure as to whether that meant that this was where I was meant to be.
The role I am currently in doesn’t require a degree at all. However, would I have brought the same thing to the role if I hadn’t done a degree? Maybe, maybe not. It’s no secret to my employers that my current job isn’t my “dream job”, but they do know I appreciate the opportunity to simply have a job – very much – and have given it my absolute all.
This job has allowed me to grow as a person and I have been able to figure out what it is that I am really good at and which transferable skills and passions I have that would actually lead me to a career. It finally dawned on me a couple of months back the things that really make me tick at work:
- Planning and leading promotional events
- Working with local businesses and media to promote and improve events
- Writing copy, my own blogs and promoting this via social media sites
- Working with my team to create a real buzz and atmosphere about the things we do everyday
- Coming up with creative new ways to promote new products and engage customers in these products
The things I love doing at work do, actually, translate into a job role and are in many a job specification for people in the marketing/events/pr category. It helps a lot that a more positive outlook led to greater productivity on the creative writing front: disillusionment can be a little bit of a block to writing. A good friend of mine used WordPress to publish her creative writing thoughts in the form of a comical run through of her life via blog and she seemed to take a real sense of achievement from this so I figured, maybe, this could work for me too. It helped that I had written a couple of brief focus features for the Kent Messenger as part of my promotional work in my current role and had received some fantastic feedback on these: getting someone to read something you want to publish before you do so is crucial. Now, I’m not saying blogging is the cure to all evil but it really has had a pretty profound effect on me. My blog “It’s A Wonderful Life” on WordPress isn’t ever going to win any prizes but it has:
- Helped me to improve my writing/editing skills
- Improved on my self-promotion skills
- Illustrated the importance of social media in promotion
- Connected me with some really great like minded people – as well as some really great, not so like minded people – WordPress provides a floor for discussion like I had never seen before
From the success of my WordPress blog came my KentOnline blog – expanding my audience and the opportunity to network and receive feedback on my work. Ok, so three years down the line from graduating I have finally figured out which career path is right for me, now what? Well, a whole lot of research was what came next: what qualifications or experience would I need to bag myself my dream job? I found that, much like everything else, marketing has gone digital – in a major way. I was going to need a strong online presence and a professional digital self. I created an account on LinkedIn and started using Twitter to engage in conversations with and about my chosen field. I signed up for online webinars which I watched in my own time and joined online groups to keep abreast of the latest updates in the industry. I also signed up to receive as much free relevant reading material as possible. I bought myself an incredibly easy to read and insightful book on marketing based on the recommendations of one of the staff at Waterstones “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” written by David Meerman Scott. Reading this book has made me realise that the skills needed to be a successful marketer are certainly transferable and I just need to make sure I maintain my focus as well as an open mind to new opportunities.
That’s it for today, folks. Come back tomorrow to see how Lea manages to juggle her internship with my Publisher, Inspired Quill, and life in general.
Thanks for reading.
I’ve been promising this to you all for a loooong time now. But I’ve finally put the finishing touches to my Steampunk costume for the Weekend at the Asylum convention in Lincoln. And so, since I owe you loverly readers a huge thank you for supporting me over the last couple of years, for buying your copies of Not Before Bed, for commenting on here, retweeting on Twitter and ’liking’ my Facebook page, here is your reward…
You get to see me in a bowler hat…
So what do you think? Punky enough for ya?
I’m a tri-virgin when it comes to cosplay, conventions and book signings, so the Asylum Weekend should be a really…interesting…experience. I’m so nervous about selling and signing Greaveburn, it’s unbelievable. But hopefully, surrounded by my fellow Steampunks, I’ll feel right at home in my costume.
In other news…work on the cover art for Greaveburn has begun. In the course of a couple of days our cover artist, Ravven Kitsune, has managed to go from my sketchy brief to a piece of work which is truly breathtaking. When I saw the prelims, I made a little squee of excitement. I can’t wait to show it to you all. Watch out for the big reveal coming VERY soon!
Thanks for reading.
Oh yes, it’s the weekend, and we all know what THAT means. It’s blog post time! I figured I’d do a general catch up post this week since I’ve been attempting to be useful with my post subjects lately and I don’t think it suits me
First of all, lets drop in on Greaveburn. The edits are pretty much done now, I think. My marketing Womble, Lea, is doing the last read through (first read for her). So I should have a polished final product and some juicy comments on the content headed my way pretty soon. Hope she likes it. Hell, I hope YOU LOT like it, too. But we’ll cross that Rickety Bridge (check Greaveburn out to explain that reference) when we come to it.
We’re still looking for a cover artist as far as I know. The last couple of people who were slated for the cover haven’t come through with a product. Who knew that this could be the hardest part of getting a book out? At first I thought it would be the writing, then the editing, then the finding a publisher, but al that pales into comparison to getting someone to do a suitably creepy image for the cover. We’ll keep at it, anyway, and you loverly readers will be the first to find out what it looks like when we’re done. But that aside, I think we’re still on for an August release date. Every time I think about it, I get this odd mix of sensations. Pride, excitement, finger-knawing fear, performance anxiety. You name it, I’ve got it.
In other news, the marketing drive has begun. I’m hitting Twitter pretty hard with teasers, you might have noticed an uptake in the posts on the blog of late and (insert drum roll) I’ve started a Facebook Page! I’ve avoided doing it until now but the time has finally come. It shows my timeline from first pen on paper to present day, trials and tribulations, blog posts and the few successes I’ve managed to scratch together along the way. It’s worth a quick look if you have time. Lots of pretty pictures etc. And if you feel inclined, please Like it. I don’t want to be a Like-whore, but every little helps in getting Greaveburn noticed. It’s much appreciated, as always.
What else? Well, the writing has taken a back seat at the minute as I’m revising for this year’s OU final exam. The last time I did an exam was…dear lord, about a decade ago. I’m pooping the proverbial bricks. I think after this I’ll be sticking to making things up.
My Steampunk outfit for the Weekend at the Asylum convention in Lincoln is coming along nicely. Got my goggles this morning. For a budding Steampunk, this is a very important time. Think about the first time a Trekky gets their pair of plastic Spock ears and you’re in the right arena. I’m starting to really look forward to this convention and meeting all the awesome folks there. Expect photos. Lots of photos. Preferably without me in them!
This has been a brief but wonderful interaction. Expect greater things next week, folks. I’ll think of something…
Thanks for reading
With Greaveburn on its way Inspired Quill have seen fit to assign me my own Marketing Womble, as I like to call her. (Hi Lea! More from her soon!) And since we’ve been working together on our plans for world domination, it’s got me to wondering how I ever managed to do all this myself with Not Before Bed. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure. But, in an effort to help you lot do the same (while avoiding my mistakes) I thought I’d do a rundown of the steps I took in getting NBB to where it is today. So here we go:
1. Your writing persona
Whether we like it or not, our work as writers/artists/whatever-it-is-you-do isn’t just read/viewed in a vacuum. How you come across is vitally important to whether you’re accepted or not by readers, agents and publishers alike. With this in mind, we need to start thinking about your writing persona. By this, I don’t mean dressing in black, wearing a beret and dark glasses to all your public appearances (although, if that floats your boat…). What I mean is the image you generate; mostly online. We’ve all been bitten by a badly worded email or forum post before. Typing in capitals is shouting etc. And as writers, we REALLY have to be careful. Not only do people expect eloquence and perfect grammar, but think about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Humour, especially, is a mine field online with all kinds of interpretations going wrong with the simplest of statements. Be careful! Because these people don’t know you’re generally nice and generous and utterly wonderful. All they see is your words. And grudges are borne easily. Also, with this in mind, think about what you want people to know, and what people NEED to know. Do you want to be complaining about your unrelated day job to potential readers? Do they need to know about your cat’s bowel operation? Probably not, no. And that leads us on to…
2. Social Networking Sites
This is the true necessary evil of creating your writing persona. Your Twitter, Facebook and whatever-else are how people interact with you. Be tactile! Talk and tweet about subjects around your work, and people will find you. With that comes a simple suggestion: Dont just plug your book, over and over. No one likes a plugger The counter to my Pro-networking argument is that you are a writer, so don’t let social networking distract you from actually creating. It’s shiny, and interesting and enthralling. Don’t get sucked too far in!
3. Spread yourself around
Yes, you literary hussy, spread yourself around. If you’ve networked properly, you should now know lots of like-minded people. Be polite then…ask favours. Will they guest post on your blog? And don’t forget to offer to reciprocate. It’s this part that’s particularly important. Getting on other people’s sites and blogs gets you seen. Go for it!
This can be a real-time consumer, so picking a few forums and making a good impression is often more beneficial than just dipping in and out. People need to get to know you (or your persona) if they’re going to take an interest. The same stands as before. Don’t just plug your book. Pick threads that will discuss topics around your genre/content and insinuate yourself into them. Remember, if no-one’s talking to you, don’t fear. Forums can be cliquey. Dont be afraid to drop the forum and move elsewhere. Bonus Tip: Goodreads forums are generally full of very polite, nice folk who love to read. Start there!
5. Money, money, money
Do NOT pay for someone to do this lot for you. There are too many “pro” marketers on the net who actually work in Kwik Save as a shelf stacker (slight generalisation). This is nothing you can’t do yourself.
6. Beg, borrow, steal
That’s right. You’re an amateur writer. You need help to get your career into the big time. No author is an island, as they (don’t) say. So ask for help. Beg favours. Most people will be only too happy to help. Which leads us into…
7. Act like a Big Shot
Got your book out? Then hit the locals. Newspapers, radio shows, libraries. Make your own mini-tour in your local area. Local interest can go a long way toward helping you. Write horror? Do it at Halloween. Romance. Valentine’s Day is the time for your tour. Erotica? Well…anytime is good for that! ;D
8. Speculate to accumulate
It don’t have to spend much to make it look like you are. Vistaprint.com will sort you with professional-looking business cards, posters, leaflets etc. for your mini-tour. There are even banners and T-shirts if you really want to go for it. And a Goodreads giveaway is a great way of getting enthusiastic readers who you can be sure will review afterward. The giveaways are very easy to do with the website doing all of the hard work. All you have to do is turn up, and then distribute afterward.
9. The Golden Tip
Your work is you. Be careful. Double check. Use Beta readers. Get your mum to read it, if you like. But don’t put out a sub par product. The excitement can carry you away, rush you. Don’t let it.
I hope this lot will help you out. It certainly did for me. Anyone else got any tips to share?
Thanks for reading.
I’m going to warn you, this review is seriously biased. I already love Neil Gaiman’s work. Neverwhere is one of my personal favs and I think I’ve read his short story collections Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things have been read and re-read until the ink’s worn off the page by the passage of my gaze. BUT I’m not a fan of American Gods, don’t judge. And so, The Graveyard Book could still go either way.
To start iff with, the book is about a kid growing up in a graveyard, the first few pages are about a seriously creepy murderer called Jack, and by the ned of the first chapter, a small child has escaped on wobbly feet and been taken in by ghosts. I don’t think there are any real spoilers there, but I just wanted to highlight how much great work is crammed into each and every chapter of The Graveyard book. Gaiman’s signature villains are in there with their odd names and overly-polite dialogue (a la Mr croup and Mr Vandemar from Neverwhere) which always give me a case of the willies. And the individual adventures of Bod (short for Nobody) and his undead friends are never formulaic or boring. In fact, they’re downright quirky. Good old Gaiman, you can always count on him for a bit of quirk.
What I really liked (and again this is bias on my part) is how the novel is split up into seperate stories, often a year or two appart, so that you get to see Bod grow up and learn his lessons. In that way, you really get a feel for the character and I seriously hope that there’ll be a sequel from his latter years. But more than that (here comes the bias) it let me know that it’s ok to write a book with this format. Which is good, because my WIP, The Adventures of Alan Shaw uses the same approach to show the protagonist growing up and having his adventures. And, to be honest, I’ve been worrying that it was a bad idea.
But back to the book. It was another one that I inhaled in the course of a day or so. It’s so easy to read, since it’s aimed at a younger audience, but it’s in no way patronising or dumbed down for the kids. The perfect mixture! Kids thrive on mystery and wierdness and they’re sharp enough to figure out what’s going on without a great big neon sign. YA authors, take note! Do it like Neil does (in my head, we’re on first name terms). Basically, an all-round good book, a satisfying read and intriguing hope-for-a-sequel premise. Good times.
And so, Mister Gaiman, not only thank you for a great read, but thank you for saving my literary ass at the same time. Seriously folks, how good is this guy?
Thanks for reading.
It strikes me that I don’t talk about my writing process very much and, contrary to popular belief, I do have one. While I do most of my plotting in my head, only setting it down in notes when it’s exceptionally vivid to me, the rest of the idea-to-page process is pretty normal. One of the things I think are incredibly important, possibly beyond all others and especially for writers of Speculative Fiction in all its glorious forms, is research.
If you’re going to make your story/novel/flash fiction/novella as realistic as it can be (and by realistic, I mean believable despite the wierdness) then research is where it’s at. As an example let’s use my current WIP, The Adventures of Alan Shaw. This is a very different beast to Greaveburn. Alan Shaw is an Alternate History/Steampunk novel based in the very real Victorian era of England, albeit with some technological flights of fancy. But in order to make my Neo-Victorian elements work, I had to understand what the victorian era was really like. If I had a motto, it’d be:
Learn the rules before you break them.
And so I do research. A lot. Of course, the internet is your friend. There are sites or wikis on every subject known to humankind somewhere in the unending virtual vaults. But call me old fashioned, I still like my books now and again.
As you can see, there’s quite a mix in there. Let’s break down what I think is important about researchas the groundwork for your writing:
1. Know your genre
When writing Greavburn, I had no idea that I was actually working on a Steampunk novel. I was aware of the Gothic literature sub-genre and loved its aesthetic. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake is one of my favourite books, and that was the kind of grand darkness I wanted to instill in Greaveburn. But Steampunk wasn’t even on my radar. And so, when I discovered that it existed, and that Greaveburn fit the bill, I panicked. What if someone had already done what I had? How restrictive to Greaveburn’s reception would that be?
I learnt my lesson for working on Alan Shaw. I’ve read James Blaylock’s Homunculus, J.W. Jeter’s Infenal Devices and pretty much memorised The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer and co. And now I can confidently say that I know what to do and what not to do, what’s old hat and what’s relatively new (hey, that rhymes. I should write that down). Knowing your genre makes sure that you hit your demographic while avoiding any “it’s all been done” style comments.
2. Go simple
Finding reference books that are quick to read, while still being representative of the subject you’re researching, can be a real struggle. People love to bash on about their expert subject to the point of mind-numbing boredom. But you dont need a huge tome, reaching 3000 pages across four volumes about Victorian London by Lord Cyril Fanthorpe the 3rd esp. to know your stuff. In order to make your story realistic, all you need are the little touches. Those little details make the difference between just some woman in a dress and a young governess wearing a crinoline pinofore. You never have to mention it again, but that’s the kind of period detail that shows you’ve put the effort in.
But as I was saying, there’s an easy way to find those things out. Go for children’s books. They’re brilliant! They have pictures to help get the right feel in your prose, they hit only the important topics and give you great overview of any subject. The Eyewitness series is brilliant for historical stuff, if you’re interested in that stuff.
3. Get your facts right
If you’re writing about a certain place, be it a city or town or foreign country, get your facts right. Never forget that your readers know their stuff. Don’t think you can flim-flam them with sweeping references to places. With Alan Shaw, I have to evoke an image of Victorian London that rings true to someone who’s never been to London and someone who walks its streets every day. Google Maps can take you anywhere you need to go, and even tell you the quickest way for your character to walk/drive around their environment. You dont have to give an itemised list of corners turned between your Detective’s home and the mortuary, but it helps if you know how long it would take and what’s in between so you can describe it if need be.
While Google Maps is great for the present day, historical settings pose a little more of a problem. And so I got myself some maps:
They came in four pieces, originally, but with a little industrious folding and one of those frameless plastic frames (contradictory, I know) I now have an easily accessible map of Victorian London. What’s better than that, with the plastic covering, if you get some dry-wipe markers, you can plot routes, circle areas or points of interest to your heart’s content without ruining the source material for later use! (This is an Art Attack!)
4. The Counter-argument
Just remember: There’s another side to research. Don’t get too bogged down with it. Learn what you need and move on. It’s a tool to help you write, it’s not words on the page.
Well, folks, that’s it for now. I hope this post has been as useful to you as my researching endeavours have been to me. If you have any researching tips of your own, then feel free to share. I’m always looking for new ways to do what we do.
Thanks for reading!
April 28, 2012 | Categories: author, flash fiction, horror, indie author, short fiction, short story, steampunk, writer, writing, YA | Tags: author, creative writing tips, Gothic literature, horror, J.W. Jeter, James Blaylock., mervyn peake, speculative fiction, Steampunk, Tips for writers, writing | 8 Comments »
My trip to Budapest, although only a few days, was the most surreal experience of my life. As some of you may know from my going-away post, I did absolutely no research about the city before going there. It was a literal out-of-the-hat type holiday. I didn’t know what places of interest to visit, what historical sites were there or any of the history of the country. I especially didn’t know the language. But when I got there, I realised that I DID know the city. In fact, for the last three years, I’ve been visiting Budapest in my head without even knowing it. Because, as I walked the streets, I realised that parts of Budapest were exactly how Greaveburn to look! I don’t just mean in a similar-kind-of-way. I mean in a This-is-what-was-in-my-head kind of way.
Here’s a gallery to show you what I mean, the captions, of course, are which Greaveburn buildings I relate to the real ones:
That’s only four pics, but I’m afraid they’re quite high res and I can’t fit any more on. Maybe I’ll do another gallery on a separate page later on.
Anyway, you get the idea. And with the edits for Greaveburn coming back from Inspired Quill for the second time, everything’s starting to feel just a little too real. We’re getting closer and closer, folks. The time will soon be upon us. I may sound calm right now, but expect some serious panic-posts very very soon
Anyway, now that I feel I’ve visited some of the places in my head, and that I may well be living in the Matrix, I’d like to suggest Budapest for your next trip. If you like to relax, but in a city environment, I can’t think of anywhere else I could suggest. It’s peaceful, despite being a big city. No one rushes around. The food is great. The exchange rate right now is pretty damn good. Just avoid the Austrian beer. NOT good. The local brew, Dreher, however, is great.
While we were there, we poked around just about anywhere we could. Especially in search of a good bar. But our strangest discovery was a little place called Verne’s, named after the incredible Jules Verne. And outside Verne’s, I found something that made me feel completely at home; a piece of Steampunk awesomeness:
Great isn’t it? I dropped a Greaveburn business card into it for some unsuspecting Hungarian to find. Who knows? I might get a following over there! (I’m not holding my breath hahaha).
As always, I’d like to apologise for how long it’s been since I’ve posted. I know I’ve been slacking off. But, as you will soon see, it’s all for a good reason. The next time I post, I hope, it’ll be to show you my Steampunk costume for the upcoming Weekend at the Asylum Steampunk convention. I intend to look utterly ridiculous, and I can’t wait! Keep your eyes on this spot!
Thanks for reading.
As you lovely folk are reading this, I’m taking a trip. I know, it’s just another reason to be separated from my laptop and doing NO writing whatsoever, but I think this might have some great research potential. You see, dear friends, I’m off to Budapest today.
I know NOTHING about the city. Nothing at all. And I think that’s why I’m so excited. New York last year was incredible and I can;t wait to go back, but one of the main problems was that I knew too much about it. Being the utter Film-Geek that I am, I knew where all kinds of movies were shot and OBVIOUSLY had to visit them, then hitting the tourist attractions because there’s a compulsion to at least see the big stuff. And then I absolutely had to see the National History Museum. It was great, but there was a lot of pressure to run around and not much time to chill.
Budapest should be the exact opposite. There’s no pressure to see anything or be anywhere, nothing I really must see. And so it’s going to be an utter chill out. More than that, I have a real love of going places which have a completely different culture to ours. Again with New York, it was great, but the culture is so similar, and the language identical, that I didn’t really feel like I’d left home at all. It was lovely and warm and cosy and friendly. Now and again, I like a bit of cultural and linguistic discomfort. I like struggling to get by. It makes me feel like an explorer, if only in a diluted way and for a few days.
And then there’s the research. Being in such a wildly different place with its own architecture and styles (and from what I’ve seen, quite a gothic style) will be a great boost to my creativity, I’m sure. Alan Shaw’s next adventure might even be based there. Who knows? We’ll just have to see. But you know I’m a sucker for a gothic facade and a network of alleyways. they make me go all gooey and goosepimpley Expect dark things to be walking abroad when I return.
Another reason for going somewhere different is to drop off a whole bundle of my writer’s business cards. Lets see if it works! By this time in a month, I might have a whole new bunch of Hungarian readers! Probably not, though…
Anyways, folks, I’ll see you when I get back, and regale you with tales of Hungarian adventure. I hope you all enjoy your week!
Thanks for reading.
This should start with an apology. I’ve not been around of late, and for that I am deeply sorry. This poor blog has been neglected and, by extension, so have you. Since I’ve been slacking off I figure you all deserve an explanation as to what it is that’s keeping me from your loving embrace.
Every aspiring author, and probably some established ones, will know exactly how distractions can have an effect on your productivity. And they can be anything at all. Family responsibilities, the day job, and any number of variables. But we’re talking about what has kept me from you specifically. Here are my greatest distractions over the last month:
I’m a major Book-geek. And it’s one of the many factors in my geekdom that I’m particularly proud of (Unlike my hatred of people spelling Spider-man without the hyphen). And apart from my enjoyment of a good, engaging book, there’s a deeper philosophy to this one. I firmly believe that in order to be a good writer, you have to be an avid reader. Anything will do. Not just in your favourite genre, but outside of it, too. The best novels you will ever read won’t fit into a genre at all, but straddle several. How can we, as writers, do the same thing if we don’t assimilate all the books we can?
Exactly, you can’t. And recently, I’ve been reading all kinds of stuff. My fellow Inspired Quill author, Matthew Munson has released his debut novel called Fall from Grace. Read it. The increasingly-popular Hunger Games. Read it. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Read that too. And it’s been great to give myself time to read again. I’ve missed it with all the work I’ve been doing lately.
As some of you will know, I’m curenty taking two Open University courses with a view to getting my English Literature degree (to accompany my Nursing degree. I know, I’m mad right?). And since I’m doing two courses at once, and we’re getting toward the end of the year, the ante has been appropriately upped. this month alone I have three assignments due in. One hs just been submitted. two more to go. Bad times. Or good times, depending on your perspective. Learning more about Literature and the Arts in general has caused some great flashes of inspiration. New stories, characters, places and scenarios. All kinds of juicy stuff. The ideas are coming faster than I can scribble. And I love it. But it still keeps me away from the blog. And so does…
I’m not a massive gamer. I avoid TV as a rule (although I watch loads of movies). Things like this just seem to be waste of my brain, which is very easy to overpower and needs regular oiling and periods of rest for cooling before it overheats. But now and again I need something nice and brainless to give myself a break. Something to help switch off. And MMORPGs are the way to do that. This may be controversial, but I dont like WoW. There’s too much of a hard-core people-without-priorities or eyes that can withstand sunlight feel to it all. And so I play Runescape. Sure, the graphics are shoddy, but it’s huge, diverse, and easy to play with only half a brain. You can also dipp in and out of it as you see fit. The fact that it’s a fantasy world like the ones I love to create is just a bonus
And then there’s the worst distraction of them all. That essential evil…
Twitter is my choice of poison here. I love it. Short, punchy, regularly hilarious, and everyone on there has been so good to me since I hit it with my writing presence, I can never let it go. Unfortunately, it can also be so immersing, and the sense that you’ll miss something so strong, that it can eat your day in a single swallow.
And somewhere in between all these things, I’m supposed to write the next novel…
and eat, presumably.
Such is the curse of the modern writer, I suppose. But I wouldn’t sacrifice any one of these for another so I’ll just have to learn to juggle. Anyone have their own distractions that they can’t/dont want to avoid?
Thanks for reading
April 5, 2012 | Categories: amateur writer, indie author, kindle, writing | Tags: debut novel, english literature degree, gaming, haruki murakami, hunger games, Inspired Quill, kafka on the shore, writing | 8 Comments »
With one thing and another, editing Greaveburn and working on my Open University assignments, I’ve not had much time to write lately. The problem, of course, is that my current WIP isn’t going to write itself either. I think there might have been an issue around my character development that I haven’t been confident enough to tackle just yet. My main character (Alan Shaw, see the WIP page for more) has to fall in love with another character; enough to get hurt later. Now, for regular viewers of this particular blog channel, you’ll know that romance isn’t exactly my forte. Creepy beasties from the netherworld, fine. Falling hopelessly in love, not so good.
And so I’ve been putting it off, telling myself that I need to think about it more. That I don’t understand how to write simple romance, never mind the complicated love/hate divide necessary for this part of the plot to really work. What’s an author’s favourite word? Procrastinate! So the assignments and Greaveburn work has been a happy distraction. Until last week.
Finding that I hadn’t taken my alloted amount of holidays this year, and that I have to take them by April or lose them, I ended up with Monday through Thursday off last week. Laura was at work all day. I had just finished the latest round of assignments and no more are due for a couple of weeks. Basically, I was in the perfect position to get some serious writing done. All I could think was “shit, I’m going to have to write that romance section”.
So, I set my jaw, opened my notebooks to the copious amount of research and plotting I’d done over the last couple of months when nothing else was forthcoming, and started to type…
And, as always, I was proved wrong by my own lack of confidence.
My fingers couldn’t type fast enough. The images were coming thick and fast, the dialogue made sense. What my main character found compelling about his love interest was the very thing she hated in him, but they have so much in common despite wildly different cultural and social backgrounds. Where was this stuff coming from!?
Suffice to say, by the end of the four days, I hadn’t exactly broken any word count records, but a good chunk of work had been produced. And, when I read it back, it was actually ok! I’ll leave the final decision as to whether it works to you lovely readers when The Adventures of Alan Shaw (working title) is released eventually finished. But for now, I’m happy with it.
The next step…ripping out my main character’s heart. Now that I can do!
Thanks for reading.
That’s right, kids, I don’t just write short stories. And, to be honest, I avoid poetry like the plague. But Haiku are nice little snippets that I can get really engrossed in. Sorting them into syllables is like a little creative writing brain-teaser. A crossword for authors, if you like. And so I can’t get enough of them! Now, I know that traditionally, haiku are supposed to reference a season at some point, and theyre supposed to follow the 5/7/5 syllable rule, but some of these don’t. What can I say, I’m a callous, literary rebel. But anyway, have a look. I hope you enjoy them.Meteor Shower Sparks shed a trail. Atmospheric Grinder. Wormwood coming home. The Beautician Above a crest of plastic breasts and Matalan tan, not much goes on. Guitar Poor dusty Fender, Missing a string, out of tune. I’ll pick you up soon. Made-up words If there is one thing I absitivley hate, it’s comboined words. Woman on the train New haircut, old face. New bagm new shoes, new coat. Same old face. View from a frosted window Trees expose themselves, despite Winter’s bitter bite. Rough, naked skins.
That’s enough for now, I reckon. Hope you enjoyed them.
Thanks for reading.
With things really starting to spark off with Greaveburn and my next novel underway, I’ve been thinking about how long it’s taken to get here. It’s been a long process with lots of hard work and plenty of setbacks. There’ve been things to jump over, scuttle underneath and generally steamroll through at times, but in the end, I think it’s turned out pretty well. Some of the scars are even starting to heal. But my nostalgia took me back to a simpler time when I first put pen to paper with a vivid image in my head and a character with a story to tell; way back when I was still in school with a haircut like a pineappale and NHS glasses (I’ll show you a photo one day if you’re good). And, since I was bored, I broke out my Photoshop (you know how much I love it), and thought I’d share with you the result. And so here it is, a history of Me, a timeline of how I went from that spotty little toerag to a larger Pseudo-writer toerag you now know:
A real tear-jerker, eh? I’ve decided that Alan Rickman will play me in the movie. He looks nothing like me, but he has such awesome sarcastic delivery. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little forray into my seedy past. There’s a lot left out of this little infographic for the sake of your sanities, but I hope it’s been at least mildly amusing. See you next time!
Thanks for reading.
Thanks to the very kind H. Conrad Miller, Not Before Bed has had another great review! Take a look:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A great collection of horror short stories ranging from Lovecraftian to werewolves to that thing that goes bump under your bed. Each story is finely crafted by Craig Hallam in an enjoyable and easy to read way while still having each story have it’s own voice and feel. I think that is one of the most remarkable things about this collection. While it is easy to see how all of the stories came from one author, each story was told with a voice all it’s own that was perfect for that specific sub-genre of horror.
Craig out did himself with his variety of stories. The dark sci-fi in Mandy in the Jar-O have an alien abductee’s horrific realization that her wildest dreams of being wanted are not so wonderful. The Lovercraftian tale of Albert that has little dialogue but such gripping description that every pool of water larger than the size of a drop suspect from harboring tentacled elder gods. These stories have the ability to catch and hold a reader’s attention. After every story I was left asking “When can I read a full story about this?”
I highly recommend this to anyone who loves horror. But I especially recommend it to anyone who wants to look into horror for the first time. It will give you a great primer for the genre and help you find a niche inside of it you will like.
Good job Craig
Well, I could hardly have asked for a better review than that! Let’s hope that it hitting Goodreads and the web in general gives Not Before Bed another little jolt of downloads. I think this is probably the appropriate time for me to give you some updates on the collection itself, too.
Since moving the collection from Smashwords to Kindle Direct Publishing, I’ve forced myself to NOT constantly check how many downloads I’ve been getting every month. And, because of that, I actually forgot to check altogether. Until today. And so, I can now inform you all that in the last year Not Before Bed, Amazon and Smashwords combined, has had a staggering…
I have no idea how this happened, but July last year showed a massive surge which then frittered out to just a few a month. And since I’ve only been looking at the last few months, I almost missed the huge 12,000ish downloads from middle of last year.
I think this causes for a huge thank you to everyone, whether they’re reading this or not, who has taken the time to download Not Before Bed. I never thought my shoddy little short story collection would be such a (relative) hit. I have no idea WHY this happened, but I’m not going to argue. If I can get but a portion of those downloads for Greaveburn, I’ll be a very happy camper. Special thanks, of course, go to those who went the extra mile to review it, too; you’ve all been extremely supportive and helpful in your feedback.
And with that, I think it’s time to put Not Before Bed to….well, to bed. It’ll still be out there to download for all those people who still manage to stumble onto it. But for me, it’s been a great experience that’s over now. I’m going home to concentrate on the next project. From here on in, it’s all about Greaveburn’s release later this year. And so, I’d like to bid a final thank you to everyone who made Not Before Bed a huge personal success. Stick around, there’s more writing to come!
Thanks for reading.
February 29, 2012 | Categories: amateur writer, author, epublishing, flash fiction, ghost story, horror, indie author, kindle, short fiction, short story, steampunk, writer, writers, writing | Tags: alien abductee, author, conrad miller, ebooks, elder gods, flash fiction, Goodreads, horror, kindle, Kindle Direct Publishing, monsters, not before bed, short stories, the supernatural, vampires, werewolves, writer, writing, zombies | 8 Comments »