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.
As soon as your novel, poem, screenplay or artwork leaves your hand, it’s open to the interpretation of others. That’s just how it goes. And to a certain degree, that’s the whole point. Especially with books. How I imagine one of my favourite characters, Harry Dresden, is mine alone and will be subtley different from how others imagine him. It’s part of the fun of picturing things in your head.
The way that I’ve come across this kind of thing is in readings, workshops and at signings. People seem to really want to know what Greaveburn “is”.
There have been several theories offered to me:
1. Greaveburn is an alternate history.
2. It’s a parallel universe.
3. It’s an alternate dimension.
And, most recently,
4. It’s a post-apocalyptic city.
That last one came from a recent review by Scott Kinkade, which I won’t link to as it has lots of spoilers in it, but his theory is a good one, as theories go.
I’ve wondered whether to dispel these theories or just let people carry on, and I’ve finally decided to do the latter. What people get from the book is their own personal experience and I’m happy to have it that way.
But it points to something interesting in human nature, I think. The constant search for solid answers. None of the people who made these theories could just let Greaveburn be. It has to be something. Odd don’t you think? And worth bearing in mind when you write your own work.
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.
As I mentioned in my last post, I might be taking a hiatus from prose for a month or two but I’m still keeping the creative muscles flexed. I’ve mostly been doing this by writing haiku, which is my equivalent of a crossword puzzle or playing sudoku. I love these little fellas and I thought that I’d share some with you. Some are just random thoughts and images, others are around something I overheard on tv and decided to use it as a writing prompt “Looking for love in all the wrong places”.
That prompt has been good to me of late. While writing The Adventures of Alan Shaw, I’ve taken my first forrays into romance and it’s been quite a learning curve. The prompt has made me really think about romance from a realistic point of view; how imperfect it can be, how we can make mistakes so easily, how we can pick the wrong person or the wrong person can pick us. And so that’s a bit of explanation for when you get to those haiku (and the poems I might post later from the same prompt).
Anyway, without much further ado, here’s a few haiku!
MountainsPurple shards scratch pale scars in heaven’s belly. Winter’s grim revenge.
OverThis is how it ends. With a clash and a whimper. Unjust Finale.
CrushBriefest emotion; A crushing spasm of the heart. I wanted you.
NoveltyThere is a glow about you. Infectious to me. An autumn log fire.
LingeringSupple willow fronds; The knots made by our fingers. Tenderness and strength
Well, that’s a few for you. Hope you enjoyed them! I’ll be at Leeds Central Library tomorrow at a Steampunk event (See the Tour Deets page) so I hope you all enjoy your weekend!
Thanks for reading!
I still exist, although in some pocket universe only vaguely visible form your own.
In one sense I’ve been a busy lad, in another I’ve been a lazy bugger.
After the last few years of uni courses, novels, signings, finding a publisher, working and everything else, I’ve decided to take some downtime. I’m not really writing now that The Adventures of Alan Shaw is finished and handed in to Inspired Quill. I’m keeping my hand in by tinkering with some poetry and haiku but nothing constructive (or any good, if I’m honest :D). But other than that I’m giving my brain some time to calm itself before the next push on Alan Shaw part two.
And with that has come a huge lull in my blog posting. If any of you are sad enough to be waiting for my misguided ramblings (Eh, Pete? ;D) then I apologise. But I’m fairly certain I haven;t left a void in anyone’s life
The Deedworthy Adventures blog has been going well, despite the fact that I’ve only been editing the posts of others and not really posting much of my own work. But people seem to be enjoying the adventures of the Airship Deedworthy and the action is really hotting up over there.
At some point, if it’s requested, I might post some of the poems I’ve been working on (or at least the haiku), but I’ll warn you, if you like poetry, your eyes are about to be offended.
Hope all’s well with your little pocket universes, too.
Thanks for reading.
I’ve been a busy boy lately. In the last few weeks I’ve been to talk at my local college about writing, another workshop with a group of young writers, had a radio spot and I’m headed toward another event next weekend.
This all sounds awesome. Except for that I have zero confidence in public appearances and I’m absolutely terrible at talking to large groups of people. Small groups? No problem. Get me stood in front of a class or give me the need to be articulate in the slightest and I’m completely lost. That’s why I write things down!
^ That’s me looking a Goon at the college talk.
But lately the deep end of the pool has risen up to claim me. It started with a talk at Doncaster College as part of the Turn The Page festival run by local libraries. It seemed like a great idea. Go talk to aspiring authors, maybe sign some books, and hopefully not have a heart attack in the process. But it was oh-so-much harder than that. The college had the lovely idea of setting up the room in which I would be talking in a university lecture-style with me at a pulpit and host of faces staring down at me. I became acutely aware of how Loosestrife felt on page 3 of Greaveburn with all those students looking down on him (Which gave me a giggle as life started to imitate art). What made this particularly interesting and a real learning experience, was because most of the atendees didn’t have English as their first language, and as I talked I became acutely aware that either my accent or vocabulary wasn’t getting through. And so I had to change tack half way through and start re-planning on the fly. Yikes.
It was an absolute blast. I got a little adrenalin rush like jumping out of a plane without the parachute. But I survived it! Hell yes, I did. And I reckon I nailed it…or maybe not…
Anyway, the next event, on the very same day in fact, was a radio interview where I had to review someone else’s book as well. That part was kind of fun apart from when the interviewer started asking me historical questions about when the first dirigible was used and what the difference between an airship and a dirigible was. Just for the record, I am neither historian or engineer. But I am the King of Blag. And so I winged it. And I think I didn’t sound too much of a complete idiot so I’m chalking that one up as a win, too.
Don’t argue, just let me have it, ok? ;D
With that done, next came my talk with a local Young Writer’s group this week. As my girlfriend (scratch that, fiance, since I got engaged recently and completely forgot to blog about it. Naughty Craig) is an English teacher, I figured I would be prepared for talking to young adults (read: teenagers) by her stories and advice. Oh, how wrong can you be?
I had lots of fun and we talked about all manner of geeky things, but there was absolutely no order to the proceedings at all
Dear Lord, I’m not ready for children yet.
But they were brilliant, enthusiastic, and extremely insightful and clever. Much more than I was, to be honest. But I think I made them laugh a few times, which was good, and they seemed to really grab onto the idea of Greaveburn being inspired by a funky “cheese dream” which ended up being the catchphrase of the whole evening. So what did I do wrong? Plenty. Afterward I was acutely aware that some of the particularly astute members of the group were very quiet and overpowered by some who were louder and perhaps had a lot less insight. And I did nothing to help those poor quiet kids. To them, if they’re reading this, I apologise profusely. I’m still learning. And I hope you’ll contact me so I can maybe help you on a one-to-one basis as you deserve.
Anyways, what I’m getting at is that public appearances are full of pitfalls for authors. No matter the preparation, something will come up that you can’t account for. Expect the unexpected. And if all else fails, just relax and have fun. I certainly did, and maybe next time I’ll even be better at it. Who knows?
But if nothing else, I hope this blog post helps you to realise that someone else is always worse at public appearances at you. And that person will always be me.
Thanks for reading!
What is the benchmark for when you can finally call yourself an author?
It seems that anyone can put on their profile information that they’re a writer or an author, and that most of these people spend a lot of time complaining about how little of their time their professed title takes up. I never had that problem. Anyone who has been following my progress through the murky world of authordom will see that I’ve only just started to change my profile from “aspiring author” to just “author”. And that was only because my Marketing Womble, Leah, told me to do so. Otherwise I would have happily left it as it was.
Why is that? Performance anxiety perhaps. If I’m an author now, then that comes with all kinds of connotations. I should be professional, knowledgeable, prolific. I quite often feel like none of those things all at once. There’s still so much to learn, so much to do, so many more novels to write and characters to nurture, and I never seem to have all the time I’d like to fire off a few chapters or do all the little projects that I want to take on. But it has struck me lately that perhaps that’s what being an author is all about. The constant striving to be better. If that’s what being an author is, then I’m certainly striving my way forward.
I’m not saying that there’s a list of things that you must do to be an author/writer. Except perhaps one: write! But as I look back over the last few years I start to put together a few pieces of evidence that my low self esteem needs in order to prove that I’m becoming the author that I want to be.
I’ve had a book published (kind of an obvious one, I know), had several great signings, I’ve done workshops and talks in colleges and with writing groups, I’ve helped others to edit their own work, I’ve tried to impart a little knowledge on this blog to other aspiring authors, and I now have my second novel finished and submitted to my publisher (Inspired Quill) for the first round of edits. I’ve also helped to put together the literary area of next weekend’s Steampunk Doncaster convention, which was a great honour.
In short, I’ve been very fortunate and very lucky. That’s certainly how I feel.
But am i really an author yet? I suppose I may never feel like one, because I don’t know anyone who can describe to me what it feels like. Maybe I’m already there. Maybe I’m a mile away. Maybe I should stop asking stupid questions and just get on with the writing. But it took writing this blog post to realize that last option even existed. And so, with that in mind, I’m going to throw on my goggles, and enjoy the Steampunk Doncaster festival next week. Then I’m going to work on my comic book script, short film screenplays and other little projects while I wait for the novel to come back from the Editor. Then I’ll edit it…then it’ll be published and the whole signing/marketing awesomeness will start again. Then…who knows?
I think I’m trying too hard and not enjoying it enough. It’s time to have some fun. And perhaps bu myself a “Do not feed the Author” t-shirt.
What do you guys think is the point when you become an author?
Thanks for reading
If you read my last post, you’ll know what I’m talking about here, so I’ll keep it short. The Steampunk Doncaster event has an indiegogo page which we’re hoping will help us to make the festival extra awesome in June this year. If you hit the hyperlinks above, you can see the campaign itself, so feel free to share or donate or scoff and look at something more interesting.
What you WILL be interested in seeing is the outtakes reel of me trying to make that damned video with the help of Toucan Media.!
It certainly had me rolling, watching myself make cock-up after cock-up. Take a look:
And if for some reason that video doesn’t work, you can Youtube it HERE.
Let me know what you think! And don’t forget to share
Thank for reading.
I don’t do this often, or at all, but I need your help.
As some of you may know, I’m the literary co-ordinator (Man of Words) for my local Steampunk Doncaster Festival. This year, on the 15th and 16th and June, we’ll be holding our very first event.
We’ve already got a stack of brilliant authors (including Jonathan Green, Anna Chen and the graphic novel writing duo of Moore and Rappion), a stack of brilliant crafters and tinkerers and an exhibit stacked with artists and sculptors. We’ll be based in Donacster’s Deaf Trust building, a huge old place with lots of history, and the main aim is to bring something to our local area be it artistically, or in terms of tourism in years to come.
Basically, we want to give back to the area we live in and love.
But here’s the thing. We can’t do it for free. Being a poor starving author, and the rest of the teeam being similar creative types, we’ve poured as much money as we can into the festival to make sure it happens. But there’s only three of us on the crew and we can do no more than we already have. The Deaf Trust building, being a registered charity, has cost a small fortune in itself. And that’s why we need you to visit our Indiegogo campaign.
We don’t expect you to donate your life savings, or anything at all, for that matter. But every single hit, share, Like and Tweet we can get, spreading the word, is a massive help. And that’s where you guys come in.
If you need incentive, I look an absolute fart in the campaign video (well worth a chuckle, I assure you). Here it is!
That’s pretty funny, right? What a doofus.
Anyway, please hit the page there and share your little hearts out. And encourage people you know to share it, too. We want to make this thing grow, year after year, and get better and better, so every little helps.
Thanks for reading guys!
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.
This is going to be an unusual post, folks, for I have seen beyond the veil of this life and into what lies beyond.
Some of you may remember previous posts where I talked about Tarquin, my practical joke ghost from the place I work (which I can’t name for obvious reasons, but definitely isn’t in the NHS or anywhere similar). The joke was a simple one. I hung a sheet on a coat hanger, drew a ghastly face on it, and hung it in a dark room for a colleague to find. Nothing particularly inventive…apart from when it worked better than I hoped, he screamed like a petrified Possum and ran down the ward cursing my name. That one prank led to what was essentially war where he got me just as well on several occasions (damn him). Anyway, on the back of that make-shift ghost, I wrote the word Tarquin, because I love stupid names and…oh, I don’t care. But the name stuck. And every time something weird happens on the ward (usually the night shift) Tarquin gets the blame.
This led to a second prank where I photoshopped Tarquin on th dark ward and spooked everyone working nights so much that they went everywhere in paris for a fortnight before I let them in on the joke. Here’s the pic…
These…definitely not hospital wards…are old as time itself. They’ve been everything from mental institutions to infection disease hospitals over the hundred or so years that they’ve been around and, as you might expect, quite a few people have shuffled lose this mortal coil on the grounds. Older people in the area still refer to it as “the place where people go to die” despite the fact it hasn’t been that since the 60′s-ish. Anyways, you can imagine that if there was anywhere likely to be haunted, it’d be this place. And over the years (I’ve worked there twelve of them in one aspect or another) I’ve experienced some pretty weird stuff. Knocking on walls, buzzers going off in empty bays and toilets, there are older reports of people being held down in a certain room where they sleep. But nothing a sceptic like me couldn’t brush off.
Because I have seen Tarquin with my own eyes, and many-a pant was shat. It was dark, it was three in the morning, and I was tired (as you might expect). I saw a dark figure walk along the corridor with such normality and solidity that I thought it was a colleague and brushed it off. Except when no one came back from the dead-end corridor. And there was no one there when I went to check. And if there was, they had walked there in the pitch black because I had to use a torch to find the light switch on my way in. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Now join me, Merry Sceptics, in pulling this one apart. Ready…? Go!
Right, now tell me I’m crazy again when you find out that my other colleague was stood right next to me, and saw it too. She told me what she’d seen without me prompting her, and she saw exactly the same thing. A dark figure, like someone walking in the shadows of the corridor, striding along like they had a wind behind them. That was when I realised what had happened, and my bowels threatened rebellion.
We mulled it over the entire night, me throwing up explanations and then disproving them with some very simple tests. I even tried an EMF meter on the area we’d seen Tarquin in a truly scientific attempt. I only got a bloody result! I used the same EMF that as when I went on a ghost hunt recently and then I got no result. With Tarquin, I got a spike of 200-ish mG on a certain spot along his trajectory. When I tried again five minutes later…the same result. I did that three times just because I couldn’t believe it. And the last time…it was gone. It seems that Tarquin had been stood there laughing at us all along, and then got bored and buggered off.
Now, my friends, I know what this must sound like. There are any number of kooks on the internet claiming psychic powers and other freaky shit. The kind of people who wear bits of stone on a leather thing because it connects them to the earth or some other tosh. But this is me we’re talking about. Captain Cynic and his amazing powers of Piss-taking. And I swear to you, I can’t bloody explain this one.
Thanks for reading.
Well, this week I’ve mostly been relaxing. With the book finally out, I thought it a good time to take myself off and have some peace. Scotland was the destination, and more specifically, Comrie. Quiet, remote, quaint. And not a sniffle of phone reception to be had. Perfect.
We (me and Laura, that is) stayed in a little cabin just outside town with nothing but a unencumbered view of the countryside. We took walks up to the Devil’s Cauldron, a waterfall outside Comrie, and then climbed up to the Melville monument that looks over the town. It seemed like a good idea when we set off, but it was a loooong way up. However, when we reached the top, the view was totally worth it.
As always when we go away, I took plenty of reading material. I’ve been really getting into the Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman, so I took the next one of those, plus the next installment of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. But, I never got to that latter one. Instead, I read an ebook by one of my mutual Twitter followers called Pete Ford (aka @TheVirtualMcCoy). Reading someone else’s work is always dicey, I think. I don;t mind doing it, but I always feel wary in case the work they’ve poured their heart and soul into is…well…crap. Thank the Lord’s chin hairs, then, that Pete Ford’s Pavonis is a little slice of awesome.
I hope I can do the premise justice…
Pavonis is a habitable planet (M-class to you Trekkies ;D) which the human race have migrated to after Earth becomes poisoned by all manner of unsurvivable pollutions. Two hundred years after they land, and the people of Pavonis have lost their old technologies when a madman destroys the ‘libraries’, a collection of all of Earth’s scientific and cultural (and everything else) knowledge. And so, in an effort to survive, the Pavonis folk have to return to steam and hydrogen power to propel their xeppelins, carriages and seaskimmers. But that’s just where the story starts. It seems that some bright spark managed to smuggle a copy of the ‘library’ away and keep it safe. But the bad guys, and their sticky little fingers, want it. When our hero’s friend thinks that he has found the library, the aforementioned bad guys have him bumped off, and so our hero steps to the plate to figure out who killed his friend and colleague, reclaim the library, and kick some bad guy behind while he’s at it. Written in the first person perspective gives Pavonis a real retro Sherlock Holmesy feel to it, like the old memoir style pieces, with action and intrigue and soem great plot points and description. Basically, it’s ace. A really fun read. And it’s Steampunk! What more could you want!? Go get it HERE, among other places.
Anyways, so that’s what I read while I was away. I also plugged Greaveburn a bit more. I’ve added it to Book Crossing, a great site that lets your books roam around and people can find them ‘in the wild’. Brilliant idea. But while trying to find somewhere in Glasgow to put the book down, I came across the lovely people at Biblocafe in the West End. Not only did they take a stack of my cards to put on display, but they took the copy of Greaveburn and they’ll be passing it around their Indie Bookstore reading group before dropping it off wherever they like. How cool is that? Let’s hope they enjoy it and feel compelled to review…
Speaking of reviews…(see what I did there?)
Greaveburn got another good one. Here’s the watered down version, because it’s a long one:
Predictable is not a word that applies here. What I found particularly striking is that the characters are above all human…The ‘good’ characters have their faults–serious ones. The ‘bad’ ones are haunted by their failings and surpass themselves. Nobody is what they might at first seem; nobody is all white–but there are those that are solid black, through to the bone… The imagery is strong–heavy gothic architecture, steampunk machinery, and yet there’s the feeling that even a city like Greaveburn could have a Hogsmeade moment when Christmas rolls around…The pacing is good, the storyline solid. What really counts, as far as I’m concerned, is this: I had trouble putting Greaveburn down. I found myself reading at 2am and had to force myself to stop and get some sleep; the temptation was to read just one more chapter. I don’t come across many books that do that. Need I say more?
Awesome. Thank ya kindly! If they keep coming like this, my head’s going to explode! Well, that’s been my week, folks. Apart from preparing myself for the Weekend at the Asylum convention next week, I have nothing more to tell. Expect a blog post about what goes on in Lincoln while me and the IQ team are there. Fingers crossed I don’t make a fool of myself at the signing!
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.
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
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 »
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.
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.
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.
As the Indie Publishing Steamroller really gathers speed, we’ve started to see developments in the way books are advertsied. If they’re ever going to compete with movies or tv, for example, they’re going to need proper adverts that move and not just static images in a newspaper or on a website. And that’s where book trailers come in.
This phenomenon is turning into a real franchise with plenty of companies springing up in people’s garages who are willing to produce one for you. Let’s look at a few good ones while we’re here, eh?
Here’s one for LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfield which uses the illustrations in his book for an epic effect:
Or what about this one for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters,which still gets me howling with laughter:
These two were the exception to the rule with an excellent budget and proper backing, however, for the rest of us, there are some that are simple but effective:
And so the question is, do these things really work? Well, based purely on the amount of hits on Youtube, I’d say yes. We have to bear in mind that the forst two trailers were exceptional and/or very funny which increases the hit-rate. But if you can make yours intriguing enough, or funny or scary or anything else that people want to see (smexy?) then yes, the trailers work.
Now, as I’ve said for those of us with no budget at all such as myself, there’s ALWAYS a cheap option, and it’s very easy to make your own trailer. This is where I go all Blue Peter on you and tell you to go scrounge some empty toilet rolls, sticky backed plastic, ols washing-up liquid bottles and PVA glue…so go ahead, I’ll wait…
…got it? Good, now throw it away, what do you think this is, the 80′s?
Most of you out there with your brainstem jacked directly into the internet will have free software on your computer such as Windows Movie Maker which will allow you to make your own trailer. Most of you will have a mobile phone which can take video or photographs. And most of you have fingers with which to operate the aforementioned gadgets. Do I have to spell it out for you? Get out there and start taking some pics/videos/voice recordings. Get them on your computer and have a play around. It can take days, hours or minutes, as much or as little as you like, to create your own book trailer. And, just to prove it, I’ve made one of my own to show exactly how terrible the results can be.
I’ve cheated a bit here. I googled a lot of images to make sure they were appropriately creepy. I also downloaded the free sound file for the backing track. The movie maker “skills” are my own, of course. But I think you’ll get the idea of what I’m going for. And so, in celebration of me moving on from my old project, and with my next novel in sight, I’ve created a commemorative trailer for Not Before Bed before I finally stop bashing on about it. Here it is. Don’t have nightmares (yeah, right).
…Ok, don’t judge me.
Thanks for reading.
March 2, 2012 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: alternate history, author, book trailer, horror, indie publishing, leviathan, scary, sense and sensibility and sea monsters, Steampunk, writer, writing tips | 11 Comments »
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 »
Well, it’s finally that time I’ve been waiting for since November. The stars are aligned. In the dark treeline, the black mass is on the lips of the hooded monks. And on the central dais, hog tied and with fear in her eyes, is the sacrifice. We are about to invoke the spirit of The Editor…
Luckily for me, my Inspired Quill editor, Peter Stewart, doesn’t really need any of this. So, I send the monks back to their day jobs as civil servants, cut the sacrifice free and give her a tin foil blanket before making sure she’s home before 10 pm. The sacrificial athame goes back in the kitchen drawer with the spoons and pizza cutter.
The point of this elaborate introducion is this…
The edits for Greaveburn are finally back!
The last few months have been a steady stream of flop sweats and half-believed self assurances as my mind flits between ‘they’re going to tear my book apart and salvage its parts for the black market’ and ‘it’ll be fine, they like it enough to edit it, so they won’t be too cruel’. The former has definitely been winning in terms of brain space. In fact, when my inbox pinged, I froze. Do I really want to read this? Can I take the beating if the result is a complete rewrite/cutting of beloved characters/stylistic overhaul? The answer, as I’m sure you’ll guess, was ‘we’re about to find out’.
Email open, file downloaded, hovering of finger over OPEN.
Like some rabbid lipstick merchant had taken slashing across the pages, there was red text. EVERYWHERE. My heart sank. But I decided to read the actual words before checking the tensile strength of the light fittings for noose-application. And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. Hell, the comments are GOOD! Useful! I find myself nodding, whisking through the pages focussing on just the comments rather than overthinking what I’ll do about them. They all make perfect sense. Little things I’ve missed with grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, all easily fixed with Peter’s expert suggestions. A few little vocab comments where words could be changed for better effect.
And all of a sudden, I was at the end.
What the hell had I been worried about? This guy knows what he’s doing. I didn’t find a damned thing that I disagreed with or anything I couldn’t easily fix. There were just as many positive comments as negative (although none were really negative, more like necessary highlights). It may have been preying on my mind for the last few months, being the first and last things I think about on a day to day basis, but it’s all come out ok. To be honest, as I read through the suggestions and comments and tweaks, I realise that with Peter’s help, this novel has the potential to go somewhere!
I’ve always been told (as have you, for that matter, fellow Writer) that Editors are essential. They know their shit, if you’ll excuse the French. You should take their comments seriously and take them without offence or that horrible knee-jerk reaction that makes us scream “WHAT DO YOU KNOW!?” and stomp off to sulk. But you don’t really believe it until you’re on the receiving end of a bloody good Editor.
The point of this blog, dear friends, as well as to throw on the net whatever oddments cross my mind, is to teach. Looking back over previous posts, you’ll see all the mistakes I’ve made. All the assumptions and diversions that have led me not only down the wrong path but into the soul-sucking quicksands of Indie Writer Hell. And I want you to make these experiences your own. Learn from what I’ve done wrong and don’t bloody do it yourself (using Createspace if you’re not from America, for example. Waste of time and money, folks). But sometimes, just sometimes, I get to tell you about something I’ve done RIGHT. Not very often, mind. But here’s one of those times. Submitting my work for a proper read-through and commenting may just be the scariest and best damn thing I’ve ever done. INDISPENSIBLE is the word I’m looking for.
And now the hard work really starts. The revision stage. I’ve never hit this part before. Taking someone else’s thoughts on my work and moulding them not only as they suggest, but keeping with my own style and intention toward the novel. This is going to be a lot like a collaboration. I’m out of my depth again, folks. But I’m actually looking forward to it! Stay tuned for how well/badly this next bit goes And when all’s said and done, this has made me realise something which, at the back of my mind, I’ve still doubted; that Greaveburn is going to be a reality. These edits are going to sharpen it up, make it really rock, make it a book that YOU might read soemtime soon. With discussions on potential cover art going on (more on that in a later post), things are rattling along at an alarming rate. Sometime this year, my book, my words, my characters and plot twists and dark descriptions are going to hit the public. It’s fantastic, and I’m suddenly petrified all over again, with a big old grin on my face
Thanks for reading.
It’s been one of those weeks, faithful Blog-Readers. I never thought I’d say this, but it’s been a week full of interviews!
Thanks to Magda at the Bulletfilms blog, you can read one of them HERE. Telling you all about Not Before Bed, the upcoming release of Greaveburn and…oh yes, there’s an AND…little tidbits about my WIP and other random information that I’ve never put into interviews before.
But the interview, I’ve been REALLY excited about is my spot on my hometown’s local radio station, Sine FM. What I was expecting to be a quick “fifteen minutes of fame” turned into an hour long grilling about everything from where I was born to what my (estranged) father used to do for a living. Awkwaaaaard! Then, on to the principles of Flash Fiction and eventually back round to a brief mention of Not Before Bed. It was extremely fun, extremely nerve racking, and you can listen to the whole thing right here:
Tip: Listen to part 1, and skip the first ten minutes
But before you listen, I’ll give you a little context to some of the things you’ll be hearing. I wasn’t the only person on the show, of course. In the small 10ftx6ft room, there were 9 people. That’s right. Here’s a run down of who else was there:
- Craig McCann – Local lad and Olympic level fencer.
- Steve – Mortage Broker
- Another guy who’s name I forget – Tasked with finding Louis Tomlinson (another local lad and one fifth of One Direction) and getting him to come on the show.
- Andrew Isaacs - The show’s presenter
- “Negative Nigel” – Andrew’s co-host and apparently a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
- And two “Private Investigators” who’s real names we weren’t allowed to use on the show.
A summary: A sword expert, a martial artist, two detectives, a solicitor (Andrew), a man who stalks Louis Tomlinson and a writer of Speculative Fiction. Does that sound like the set up for a Miss Marple adventure to anyone else? It was a bloody dangerous room to be in, I’ll tell you!
Now, this is where the pressure started The “P.I.s” didn’t want to use their real names. And, since Andy thought that Writers have an inbuilt name-generator in their cerebral cortex, he gave me the task of coming up with a name for the female PI seconds before the show started. Asking her quickly what she was after, I got an unhelpful shrug and so I was heavily in the shit and expected to think of a name while balancing a ball on my head and riding a unicycle (or that’s how it felt). With nothing forthcoming from my nerve-paralysed brain, I went for the code-name Stiletto. I thought it was pretty funny. She, however, was not impressed hahaha. If you listen to the show, you’ll hear my explanation to the crowd of why I chose stiletto (double meaning, anyone?), and the awed silence afterward that I think proves that no one got it. Never mind
Anyways, since I’d already done my part, and Andrew had got me to mention my lovely partner, Laura, on the show as one of my prime supports to my publishing, it comes about that he chose her name to give to the female PI. So, if you listen to the podcast above, you’ll all understand the conotations of every time he calls her Laura Hall. Suffice to say, Laura herself (the real Laura) was highly amused that her name was used over and over again. She was pretty giddy about it when I got home and kept chuckling to herself.
It was a complete mind-f**k of an evening, and an absolute blast, too. I’m hoping I’ll get to do it all again when Greaveburn is ready to be released later this year. Who knows who I’ll end up int he roo with this time!?
Thanks for reading!
As you can see, my little blog has had a make-over. I’ve retro-fitted the whole thing with a slightly Steampunky edge in a homage to the recent acceptance of Greaveburn to Inspired Quill (IQ) publishing. In the true Steampunk tradition, I’ll no doubt be tinkering away at it for quite some time but the rivets and stanchions are there for now.
Speaking of Steampunk and Greaveburn, I’ve recently bought tickets to the Asylum Weekend Convention 2012 in Lincoln’s historic city. A whole weekend of ‘punkery with loads of great exhibitions, entertainments and of course the fabled Bazaar Eclectica where ‘punks fence their wares. I’ve been in touch with Tinker, the convention’s organiser, and he’s been kind enough to offer me a spot in the exhibition area. So there’ll be me (in my neo-victorian gear, by Jove!) and copies of Greaveburn for sale and even signing if you’re that way inclined.
But there’s more…the enthusiastic and very helpful Tinker has also offered me a spot on a panel, potentially alongside the likes of Robert Rankin, Toby Frost, Sam Stone and others! Of course, I accepted, but I’m PETRIFIFED.
It strikes me that the good thing about going nowhere with my writing is that I always know what to do. All of a sudden I’m very far from home with no map and the nagging sensation that I’m going to make an ass out of myself! Still…I’m excited enough that I’ve completely forgone sleep since signing to IQ.
In other news…I’ve re-released Not Before Bed in print (only from the american Amazon, I’m afraid) but it’s also now available for your Kindle (all over the globe). I know, the sensibility isn’t very Steampunk but than again neither is Not Before Bed. I think those short stories deserved one last flourish of attention before I pass it into the hands of fate entirely. While my Horror writing has served me well with some great publications that I’m very proud of and practice with submissions etc. I think I’ve moved on, now. Not Before Bed was an earlier me, one who was still finding his feet. Greaveburn is the next step in the journey, not away from those much-loved old stories and everything they taught me, but moving a little down the road to where there are whole new set of things to learn.
And I can’t wait to start!
Thanks for reading.
December 8, 2011 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: author, authors, automaton, books, clockwork, cogs, Craig Hallam, gears, gothic, horror, indie author, neo-victorian, short stories, speculative fiction, Steampunk, writer, writing | 4 Comments »