Monday, 5 November 2012

Social media - tool or a trap?


After I published my first book, I investigated several ways of marketing it. One of the first suggestions I was given was social media. I was never a Facebook fan, and I didn't want to begin. So I turned to do other sources. I began to sign myself up on to writers forums, Twitter and Google+. I immediately found a number of people willing to share their circles with me. I instantly became part of a writing community.

I spent a week there. Watching. Reading. What were the writers, who were just like me, talking about? Very little actually. Mostly I found collection of anecdotes, new asinine discoveries from various strange parts of the Internet or just general postings regarding trivial activities in their lives. You could spend hours, trying to find some gem, some insight, but I don't think that it is worth it. Not for what I am trying to achieve.

From what I have seen with social media, it's nothing but a massive distraction. It's a kind of vanilla voyeurism. As bad and addictive as an online computer game; you know the type, the ones that destroy lives. Or maybe like some inane reality television show people rush home to and avoid talking to their family to watch.

You know it's funny because in my book the rulers of the world use distraction to keep people away from the path of self discovery. They use distraction in all different forms, be it religion, politics, sex or the media. It's a great illusion to keep people from finding their true potential. From actualising their dreams and ambitions. To become who they really wanted to be, if they just focused.

So, once again, I return to the advice that holds true in my mind; write as much as you can. Quality comes from quantity. The more you're write, the better you get, and the more inclined people would be to read your work because you provide choice and people see that you have experience.

I can't be distracted. I have too much that I need to do. So that I can be, who I want to be.

Social media, is a trap. A trap of distraction. And it's not for me.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

300,000


300,000. That's not the number of books that I have sold, that is the ranking my novel is currently sitting on the Amazon website.

It's very daunting, and somewhat depressing to see a number like that. I know that in the month that I published my first novel, 10,000 more books were self-published by authors trying to have a go at writing.

I have joined forums, I am doing social media, and I lurk on writer's blog that all say the same thing. Writing is a long hard game. And most say, don't expect to make a living from it.

I listen to a lot of things — but I refuse to 'hear' that.

In a bit over two years my wife will finish her Ph.D. in literature. At that point, if I have not been able to make reasonable money from this writing gig — then I will have to do the unspeakable. I will have to go and get a job.

That threat to my lifestyle is motivation enough for me to work as hard as I possibly can and get as many books as I can in the time period that I have left. I believe that three a year is possible; maybe even four (once my little girl gets into pre-school).

I have an endgame. And the timer is ticking down.

The good thing about this blog is that I will be able to look back at it in years to come and see if I was right.

So future self — did I make it?

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

New Version 1.01

After some great feedback I decided to make some changes to the novel and remove references to children begin used as 'sacrifices' that seemed to be the sticking point for people.

My intention was to invoke an emotive response from my readers and so they could identify with Cloudy's new role. The effect worked, but in a way that was detrimental to the rest of the story. Ah, the wisdom of hindsight. It has also shown the importance of Beta Reader in this process.

There is still violence and blood sacrifice to demons, it's just the the victims are now over the age of eighteen. A far more suitable age to have a blade raked across your throat it seems....

So if you bought a copy before, email me and I will be happy to send you the revised Ver 1.01.






Monday, 22 October 2012

Price Point


I have joined a couple of forums where writers of eBooks hang out. It is inspiring. It is depressing. The path I have set out on is not going to be easy. There is a lot to learn – especially about the business end. The pointy end. Publishing.

After reading a dozen excellent debates and looking to experienced writers for advice, I have decided to set my novel’s price to the seemingly acceptable price point of $2.99.

Ultimately, I just want people to read my work. The research conducted by some established authors shows that people are willing to pay $0.99 for a short, $1.99 for a novella and $2.99 for a full-length novel.

So, if that price point is right for you, let me know. Perhaps I will find out by looking at the numbers. I’ll let you know what happens.


UPDATE:


I spent some time rewriting my book description to make it more edgier and intriguing. Enough to tempt people to just take a look inside and see if they like my ‘voice’? Only time will tell.

It’s come up pretty well.

In fact, if I didn’t write it, and hadn’t already read it a gazillion times during the editing process – I’m pretty sure I'd buy it!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Destinations of the Imaginaut


Imagin•aut    [Im-ahg-in-oort]

noun
- an adventurer who travels to the inner realms of one’s own thoughts and dreams or the like.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


In the process of world building for a story, you must become an Imaginaut. You explore the wild creations and vivid imagery created within your own mind. It is limitless and has no boundaries or constraints. Anything is possible.

You stop to admire the flowing forms in the perceived reality of the ultra-world. With a whim it changes, it adapts, it morphs into the shape molded by desire. Then, you solidify what feels right.

Yes, that is what I want it to be. That is the way is must be for this to work.

The fuzzy sketch becomes outline and from its conception, foundation is born; a sturdy place to build upon. More ideas flow, which add color and detail to the construct. Suddenly all the senses become entertained. New sounds are heard, strange texture felt and exotic tastes tantalized... and soon after that, emotion follows.

The world manifests and it becomes real.

As an adventurer, the Imaginaut explores the new world; astonished at the breathtaking beauty and wonder of the detailed creation. However, like all great things that stand tall in the brightest light, there are shadows. The Imaginaut perceives the darkness and feels compelled to investigate. How deep can the can darkness go? How far do we dare venture into these places?

We know what we encounter it is NOT real. It is only imagination. It is only thought, explored.

The question for the Imaginaut is - Do you risk bringing back what you have seen? 



Sunday, 7 October 2012

Criticism


It is inevitable. You cannot please everyone, nor should you want to.

The Elemental Cloudy is a story about a young man who hunts demons (though I have termed them the Ethrane). These demons are malignant and vile creatures and they feed on the life force energy of humans. The Ethrane have servants on the Earth that entice them into the world through blood sacrifice.

Warning: 
There are scenes in the novel that some readers may consider offensive. That was my specific intention. I make no apologies for that. The imagery portrayed is written in such a way as to build emotion in the reader to ‘feel’ what Cloudy felt when he was witnessing such atrocities. Utter contempt and aversion towards the beasts that rise from the foul dominion. I felt the need to create a realistic motivation for Cloudy. I could not think of a better motivation that would drive me to become ... what he becomes.

In general, what is offensive is purely subjective. Used in context, we see it daily throughout our lives to bring attention to that which we do not normally think about; or want to think about.  

This series of novels in The Final Insurrection does not dwell on the terrible things done by the demons, but on the characters that resist their influence. The war against the Ethrane is nasty business. They are not ‘fluffy bunnies’, and neither are the people who fight against them.

I just thought you might want to be aware of that. 



Friday, 5 October 2012

The long game


I have had seven(7) sales now. I know they are mostly family and friends supporting my venture. Many thanks to you all; it makes me feel good. I am a published author now. Those sales make me a professional; albeit that I have made more money in five minutes washing dishes in a restaurant.

I know that Indie publishing is a long process. The race is a marathon; it is a journey of a lifetime. There is no real marketing I can do that will make me stand out of the crowd. I am in the ‘noise’, and with just the one title, that is where I will remain unless extraordinary luck changes my fate.

The 1st novel is the planted seed. If you have ever plant a seed, you will know that it takes time to germinate. It has to have the right conditions; it has to be in the right place to grow. Once the little emergent seedling breaks through the soil, it sits there for such a long time. Doing nothing. Well, we cannot see it doing anything, but I am sure beneath the surface a lot is going on. Roots are spreading; seeking water and nutrients vital for growth.

However, for the longest time, seedlings just do nothing... much.

You cannot rush them. If you water them too much, they die. Too much sunlight, they die. Too much plant food, they die. The seedlings need to be left alone and given time to do their thing. But, eventually they do begin to grow. Every new leaf becomes a new power source, a collector of energy from the radiate sunshine; and then growth becomes exponential.

Novels planted in the ‘noise’ of the Amazon eBook lists are like the seeds. A farmer does not stop to watch the single plant. Hoping and waiting; expecting all the bounty from his harvest to come from the one source. They plant many, and they plant different types to cater for the various demands of consumers.

The Indie author has to keep planting. Drop the seeds into the potentially fertile ground and keep moving. Of course, you have to do the best you can to give the seedling the best start. The seeds have to have come from sturdy stock, a good quality variety that will produce a result that will be appetizing to the consumer. You cannot pick it too early, or try to disguise any blemishes. The savvy consumer will always know. You might as well spend the time producing the best quality rather than wasting time marketing a bad one.

I imagine that being an Indie author, my chosen career path, is NOT for the impatient. Neither is farming crops. So how do I keep going, after seeing only 7 sales? How can I be expected to keep churning out the books, that take so much of my time and effort for such little return?

Because eBooks are forever. My children will benefit from what I do today. It’s a long game. I’m happy to play this one because I have confidence from knowing the universal truth – it is from the little things, that big things grow.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Day One

Well I have two sales. Woohoo.

$4.99 x 2 = $9.98

-30% Amazon cut 

Total: $6.99

Estimated time to write, edit and format: 300 hours. (not including the 40+ hours for other eyes)

Hourly rate to date:  $0.0233 per hour. That is seriously odd when you look at it like that. Talk about a labor of love. Got to get that production time down to 200 hours. Then I'll be making the big money.

My novel is currently sitting in the Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,687 Paid in Kindle Store

I am officially buried deep within the 'noise'.

But you know what?        I'm there.


Monday, 1 October 2012

Uploaded to KDP

Well, well, well.

It's done. I have just pressed the "Upload and publish to KDP" button.

The novel is "in review" within the Amazon system for about 24 hours and then it will be available for download.

It's kind of surreal. Anyway, just thought you'd want to know. Better get onto book two I guess.









Update:

I have just checked my Amazon KDP account and the novel has moved from a "In Review" status to "Publishing". Apparently there will be another 12 hour delay before it actually becomes available for purchase.  

Update#2:

It is up on UK site. The US site is playing 'funnies', but it should be up in the next 12 hours.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009KSXQ04

Pretty cool!

Update#3:

It is now available on the US Amazon Site.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009KSXQ04

Woohoo!!



Friday, 28 September 2012

School Holidays and the grinding halt

The final read through is progressing at an agonizingly slow pace. School holidays has not made things any easier. Back to the days of the thousand "Daddy's".

The process of writing this novel has taught me many things and hopefully the next novel will be far more efficient in its production. This final phase has been very hard indeed. But, as they say, the wisdom of hindsight allows for reflection and change.

All the Indy author blogs I lurk around all say that beyond all other forms of marketing, the best is to just keep writing good novels. They also say you have to have regular installments for your fans/readers. Three or four a year, they say. Keep them coming or you will get forgotten.

I'm sure they would also agree that the first novel was also the most difficult, but once you develop a good production system, your efficiency can increase and those levels of outputs become achievable. That's what I'm hoping anyway. What I do know, I won't ever make the same mistakes. Just new ones :)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Unconfirmed leak

Sources close to the author have told, Of dreamers and storytellers, that sometime over this coming  weekend might actually be the launch of the long awaited novel, The Elemental Cloudy.

This is, of course, unconfirmed information and the author, T.L.S Clarke has declined to comment, sighting the general rumor mongering of the internet as the origin of this disclosure.

When pressed further, however, he did not deny the rumor. 

Interesting stuff... we'll keep you posted.

Update:

In an effort to squash the rumor, the editor of the novel has been quoted as saying, "Given the two dozen under graduate assignments I have to mark, I can't see any way the the novel will be released this weekend. There is still the final read through to be completed."

Back to... "Coming Soon!"


Update #2:



The final manuscript is printed. 1.5 spacing, 12 point, Times Roman Numeral. 460 pages....... the horror.

The 'editor' sneaked in 7 chapters this weekend. (I'll have to buy her something nice.) The final read through is much faster, but she is still picking up bits and pieces. Hats off to the editors of the world. You are fundamental to the process.



Monday, 10 September 2012

Cover Artist

Editing is going well. I had a power weekend, and we're almost there. I won't cry again. I know it made you feel uncomfortable.  I have just got the last 3-4 chapters to finalize with my editor (wife). Then one final read through. (which I am doing on my kindle, so I know what it will look like when you read it) and next weekend I press the upload button.

Maybe we can return to Imminent?

No? Okay, still   --   Coming soon.

Anyway .... out of interest, I wanted to show the process of how the cover design for The Elemental Cloudy came into being. The genre for the novel is - Contemporary Urban Fantasy.

The main protagonist, is a young man called Cloudy Radford. He is your typical twenty something who gets put into an extraordinary situation. He is recruited to hunt demons.

As part of his initiation, Cloudy is given a weapon. An ax, called the Executioner. It has been crafted from a substance that is from another universe, and it plays a pretty big role in how he is able to defeat the demonic beasts that he faces.

With that in mind, I found some imagery from the internet and put together a mock up. Pretty basic, but it gave me a visual of what I wanted to achieve.



So one of the themes I wanted to get across from the cover, is that Cloudy is a normal guy. He isn't all muscles, but has the body of someone who has developed their body through a sport or exercise, not at the gym posing in a mirror. He has the body of a swimmer or an athlete.

When the time had come, (and I had saved some money, being the poor house husband that I am) I went looking around a website called Deviant Art. There are some incredible artists there. Sometimes I just go there to get a desktop background.

I initially found an artist from Indonesia, but as it turned out, he had a contract with DC Comics and could not take on any extra work. At least I had an eye for good talent.

Then I stumbled across, Kamikazuh, an 18 year old, self-taught artist from Finland. A young man named Mika Harju

I think I had found my man. 

I approached Mika for the commission, and after a few emails of negoication, a deal was struck. I gave him a design brief, which stipulated my need for the imagery of the cover to represent Cloudy in an Urban environment holding an executioners ax. Cloudy had to look tired, with an expression and posture displaying a feeling that he doesn't like what he does. Actually he hates it.

I sent through my mock-up, for a visual primer of what I wanted, and placed an extra emphasis in the ax design. Dig deep Mika. This ax is used to kill demonic entities. It has to be HARD CORE!!!

He sent me through these:



Wicked!! I was very happy with the initial concept and thought he nailed the design brief pretty well. We had a bit more of a chat, and then he came up with:



Wow! Very happy -  though I still was um, and er about the ax. I wanted it to be more of the cresent shape that would be unmistakably an executioners ax from the by gone era. I also loved the idea of the city scape in the background. It spoke of the urban aspect of the setting. Mika also came up with the concept that the ax was transparent. LOVED IT!! I even altered description in the story to suit. 



The final product. The size here doesn't do the detail in the artwork full justice. (check out

Mika has sent me through print quality file sizes that will allow for Print on Demand and some vanity posters I am doing for family and friends. The thing with cover design for Amazon Kindle titles, is that the cover also has to look good at the size of a postage stamp. (which is thumbnail size for browsing titles on Amazon) I think this one will stand out. It would catch my eye. You?



I will say, that Mika has excellent prospects for a commercial future. Not only was he able to answer my brief, but he added value. He was prompt and professional; a pleasure to deal with. I have every intention of working with Mika on my future projects. So, if you're every thinking of getting a book design done or wanted to commission a piece of art. Mika Harju could well be your man. It only takes an email to get started.

And Mika, good luck to you my friend. Kiitos kaikista ponnisteluistanne. Olet ykk√∂nen. 


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Imminent - can this word be used prematurely?

Um...... yes.

Let's just call it - pretty soon now, with a caveat of 'soon' as being defined as a purely relative concept of time that is directly proportional to ongoing external influences and factors that continually effect deadlines.

Are you buying that?

<Bawl> I'm in editing hell. <sniff> <sniff> I'm wondering if I even have a basic grasp on the English language.

<sniff> The release is still a couple of weeks away. I'm getting there. <sniff> It's the children! (can I blame them? Yeah, parents out there will accept that.)

If you are ever thinking of writing a novel, be under no delusion as to how intensive and time consuming editing can be. Not re-writes. Just finding little tidbits that your eyes gloss over. You read words that simply are not there. You skip over obvious errors, like your mind somehow compensates, and automatically replaces the word.

But, as I keep telling  myself as I read through my prose for the brazillionth time, all 140,000 words:

It. Is. Worthwhile.

You know I am doing it for you too! So be patient. <bawl> My eyes are bleeding brain fluid.






Sunday, 2 September 2012

Imminent Release - The Elemental Cloudy

Finally. The day is almost here. The release of the novel is imminent!

I thought I'd give you sneak peak at the cover and the book description. I know how much you have been hanging out to see what all the fuss was about. There is still a little bit more 'final editing' to do before I can upload onto KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Will I make the deadline? Hmm... To be honest, I actually had to have a day away from the children on the weekend. They can .... be.... exhausting.

So, anyway, that forfeited the dedicated day my wife would have spent working her way through the final chapters. Oh well. Another week won't be so bad. We've all waited this long. You just can't rush art!

Here's the teaser....

• The Elemental Cloudy • 

Available mid-September on Amazon.com 

Book description:

When a freak accident almost kills apprentice chef, Cloudy Radford, he finds himself at the precipice of death. There, hanging by a thread, he is offered a choice by ancient interdimensional entities known only as Bagnia. In exchange for his life, Cloudy must agree to serve the Bagnia, and become a hunter of the vile and malignant beasts that have plagued humanity since time immemorial. Monstrous abominations, summoned from the pits of hell itself, they are called Ethrane. But to Cloudy, they have always been known throughout the ages as — Demons.

As Cloudy struggles to confront his own fears, a dark and sinister parallel world is revealed to him. Soon, he finds himself embroiled in a veiled, never ending war that claims the souls of humankind as the ultimate prize.

The Elemental Cloudy is a full length novel of approximately 140,000 words.



Friday, 31 August 2012

Z Minus 11 days

So it looks like that I am still on track for the timing of the release date of the novel. I know I said it was going to be early in September, but editing is just taking time. My research into various self editing techniques has led me to a great concept that I have been using.

Reading backwards.

No, not sdrawkcab gnidaeR literally.

By starting from the end of each chapter and reading the paragraphs in reverse order, I have found it stops me getting absorbed with the continuity of the story. It is enough to be able to then focus on the more technical aspects of the prose. And - it really works. That, and reading out aloud.

Of course, my wife still finds silly mistakes that only staggers the mind how I could have missed them. It is point in case why self-editing is never not enough for the indie writer who wants to stand out as professional. You have to have another pair of discerning eyes reviewing your work.

Anyway. Less than two weeks to go..... woo hoo.


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Z minus 17 Days

Getting close now.

I just got through the final artwork and I must say that I'm impressed. It's the first piece of commissioned work that I have ever had done; it won't be the last. There is so much talent out there and if you want something in particular I would highly recommend finding an artist to do it for you. I'm even thinking of commissioning some illustrations of my children. Not only can you get a great artistic rendition done of your child, but you can put them in a surreal environment for a bit of fun. It's more than comparable to the cost of getting a photographer to take some shots in a studio. If you've ever gone through that process then you will know how heart clutching the experience is as soon as you hear how much they want to charge! Yeeeeouch. I can buy my own digital SLR for that. A really good digital SLR with all the bells and whistles. It might take a thousand shots, but one is going to be close enough to what the professional can give me. Plus I get to keep the camera.

My beautiful wife is slowly progressing through the editing. She has so much on her plate; tutoring at the Uni, marking essays, research assistant work, PhD to write... then there is the children ... and there is... me.

She is the voice of temperance. She says, I have to get it right. I don't want to have people complaining that there are errors and typos that should have been corrected. Quality is essential. I have to stand out from the masses that are throwing up $0.99 unedited drivel.

So, still a couple of weeks.

In case you were wondering, I've started on book two. Outlining the chapters and scenes. Working on the end first. Sounds strange doesn't it, but if you don't have the end worked out then how can you have a beginning? 

"Just start writing and see where it goes...."

Pfft - yeah right. That sounds like a perfect formula for wasting time. Mine and yours.

You see, I know what you want. You want a story. A good story with characters that you feel for and engage you throughout the time you spend with them. An escape that inspires you to think, dream ... and wonder.

I know this to be true, so that's what I am going to keep giving you.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

109 views and counting

Here's something funny.

I started this blog as a bit of a journal to document how I went about writing my first novel. I have only told a handful of people, but I have now had over one hundred views.

An interesting social experiment, because more than half of my traffic comes from outside of Australia.

The U.S, U.K, Russia, Germany are the main points of origins although there are views from some other European countries and Asian ones too.

It is hard to know if you stumble here and immediately surf away or that you stop and actually read my words. Either way it's interesting that my blog is found among the masses.

The genre of my novel is defined by Amazon as - Contemporary Urban Fantasy.

When I publish in two weeks, my novel will be 1 of 36,000+ in that genre alone. That's a small needle in a big haystack to be sure. However, 109 views and counting tells me that even without advertising or publicity, I can still be found. Then, hopefully, when people begin reading my story I will get noticed and then the organic nature of the internet will take over.

We'll see I guess. I'll let you know how it goes.


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Z minus 28 days

Final draft completed! At about five fifteen this morning I finished the novel. Word count - 139,308.

Fortunately I have been editing along the way so the final manuscript won't change much in length. Two weeks of fixing corrections that I am sure my wife will find, even though I have read it a dozen times and I anticipate a soft launch in September.

I have been communicating with my artist in Finland and have been sent the preliminary artwork. I am very happy with the result.  I'll post the sequence when I get closer to the launch date.

Not long now....





Thursday, 2 August 2012

Z minus 41 days

I have just commissioned an artist to begin work on the cover of the novel. A very talented young man who's work I discovered on the Deviant Art website. It's a site where artist are able to showcase their abilities and pimp their considerable talents to those that can find them. Don't you love the international community that is the internet. I mean, who would have thought I would engage an artist from —Finland! Twenty years ago, improbable. Yesterday, a few clicks, some emails, a transfer of funds and its on.

You must be getting excited. I know I am. So close now.

My wife (doing a PhD in Literature) has commenced her final run through and I expect edits to continue over the coming few weeks. It's important that it is polished. As a debut novelist, publishing on the Amazon Kindle store and trying to be noticed among the thousands of others, I can't allow simple errors to get through. It has to be professional and free from any distractions.

Is their anythng more annoying then sloppy i editing?


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Z Minus 50 Days


Guess what? The title of the blog entry says it all. Conservative estimate. 50 Days. I have one more chapter to write and then the epilogue which is quarter of a chapter at best to wrap it all up. 

I want to spend 3 full weeks on the re-read and final editing - and its done. I finished. It actually happened. My first novel will be completed and uploaded onto KDP for the world to see. 120,000 words. Then straight on to number two in the series.

It's the 1am starts 5 days a week that has done it. Sure I have to go to bed by 7pm each night but it hasn't been too bad. It has given me 5 to 6 hours each morning (before the children start the days of the thousand daddy's), plus my full day on Saturdays and I have smashed through the last chapters. I am really happy with the results.

Another amazing turn for me was the use of — get this — writing chapter plans and scenes in long hand. I know, can you believe it? Me. Keyboard boy. Of course I have to block print everything because otherwise I can't read my own hand writing (it starts looking like a MD's prescription after about three lines) but I have been able to do it. And its worked! Hah!

Z Minus 50 days. It's on. I'll give you an update when I have done the final draft.



Monday, 25 June 2012

Habit


Recently I discovered a word that I really like. It is not real word; well not in the sense that it has been universally accepted and put into a dictionary somewhere or recognised as a functional antonym.

Pronoia

-the suspicion the Universe is collaborating on your behalf.

I like to think thats the way I feel most of the time. I have plently of anecdotal evidence that proves beyond conincidece that pronoia is real. It is actually happening.

But.

Sometimes I also feel like the universe is working against me. Do you ever feel that? It conspires with malicious intent to put blocks in your way. Subtle, insidious. Like it's watching your progress. Laughing at how you react to the next obsticle; it's single focus to quash your dreams and hopes.

Hmm. That antonyn I was talking about - Paranoia.

Nah. You're right. I'm not buying it either. Maybe I'm just not on the right drugs. I'll stick with Pronoia. The universe may well be making it hard for me, but I'm still at optimist at heart. I always try and switch it around and look to intellectual anaylsis. There is always a reason. What does it want from me?

Then I have an epiphany - Habits. Namely good habits. I believe they are to be approached like learning a new skill.

So this is what I have been thinking about since the last time you bothered to listen to my rantings. The thing I realized about good habits is that it takes conscious thought and self control; you really need to think about them before you get the result and always it seems that good habits take time. But just like learning any new skill they eventually become a subconscious action; like a muscle getting memory of a particular movement and finally getting used to it. You dont have to think about it any more, it just sort of happens.

Bad habits are easy to fall into to because they revolve around instant gratification and satiating desires of the flesh. Think about it for a few moments.

Every.single.one.

Inaction is also a bad habit because your body will always opt out for relaxation. Doing stuff is too hard. Lets just sit here and do something passive. Nothing sounds good.

Bad habits come easily because they require no thought. Like falling, you just step off and let gravity do the rest for you.

However, to break bad habits you have to really think about it.

To create good habits you have to focus your will. You have to build them upon reinforced foundations. Making them sturdy enough so you cannot fall again. Good habits let you reach heights that let you see that its much better up here than down there.

But it's subjective. No one can really for you to do it. You have to come the great realisation yourself.

Bad habits are an enemy, but like winning any war, victory is based upon a success in the smaller battles. Take on one at a time. Defeat it, and move on. Clear the path for your good habits. Allow them to become focused obsession. Powerful. Unyielding. To become better than you were. No excuses. If it's going to be, then it's up to me.

I want to write for a living dammit. Not copy writing for small businesses or blogging and hoping for advertisement dollars - I want to create worlds, characters and stories. I want people to immerse themselves in my novels. To escape, enjoy and enchant.  I am determined.

Three a.m starts, in fact 02:45 am is my alarm. It gives me time to have a shower and throw down two espresso coffees ready for keyboard time. Children are asleep. Peace.

Oh no. The internet! Talk about a bad habit. It's a freaking mind trap. It's been likened to a slot machine. You search for something or haunt particular websites hoping for new information. You don't know what the information will be so that keeps your interest. Like a surprise. Oh, what fun!

You press the button, your brain gets a stimulus... ahhh feels good, but it's useless for you to the point of being bad.

Gotta smash that one into dust.

On goes the internet blocker. I had to find a good one. Hell I use two, just to make sure. I'm one of those computer people that know enough to be dangerous and I can work around some of the more simpler ones. Some just insult my intelligence. One I found forces you to restart your computer to get internet access again.

Oh, what a hassle. Moving my mouse to click on this reset button is killing me. The computer is going to take a good thirty seconds to reboot. What an incredible productivity tool! I'll have to tell all my writing friends about this one. I'll even put up a testimonial. Ten dollars is a cheap price to pay for such freedom.

Pfft.  

Nope, no me. Until I break the habit its forced cut off. No work arounds. Zip, zero. Cold turkey (actually the name of the software.) with a touch of temptation blocker.

Sure I need to research. But I set aside time to do that. Thats called detail, worry about that at say edit two or three.

So it begins with 3 a.m starts. And writing. Novel, blog, journal. Write. In twenty one days, it will seem that I have been doing it for a lifetime. It will seem easy. A massive hurdle to overcome. I will do this.

Then all that is left is be good at it. But I'll need to take the plunge and let you decide that one.

You're the reader. That's your habit.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Momentum


For me, the greatest block to my personal success, is the loss of momentum.

Sure I am trying to be the happy househusband; with all the various duties that entails - including two children under six and a wife who does not drive a car. Without a doubt, they get in the way of what I am trying to achieve with my budding writing career. However, I can never really use them as an excuse because I know that line of thinking is only a surrender to procrastination and bouts of C.B.F Syndrome ( a debilitating condition I suffered through most of my teenage years and extended into my tweens to some extent.)

What is this, C.B.F Syndrome?

You know exactly what I mean - so don't kid yourself.

C.ouldn't
B.e
F.ucked

Syndrome

It affects most of us and can only be eradicated through restorative boosts of sheer willpower and the overwhelming urge to fulfill and succeed in all of your desires.

That said, I LOVE writing stories. Developing characters and engrossing myself in the creation of entire universes is where I am most happy. When I get going, I surge forward; I reach milestones and I feel good about the future. I have - momentum.

However so many factors, which I have convinced myself are merely functions of the universe testing my resolve, become blocks to my momentum.

I happened upon an analogy to this recently while I was driving. A large truck, eighteen wheels and as many tons, was thundering along the road towards the sudden rise of a hill. That truck, that speed, that weight - it has good momentum, an easy climb. Then some numb-nut decides to change lanes into the path of the hurtling mass. Silly yes, but not illegal and a considerate action for the old rusted four cylinder that would inevitably slow those in the fast lane while on their ascent.

I could hear and even feel the truck's engine howl as the driver rapidly changed gears down to compensate for the sudden block to his clear path. All that lovely momentum suddenly lost and the cursing driver was forced back to a low gear and now faced a slow tedious crawl up the hill.

Ironically, all that halts my momentum are those whom I love so much. It is their futures that ultimately drive my will to achieve. But the load I carry and the very momentum that I require for the task is being blocked, albeit unintentionally, by the very ones whom I am doing this for. Such a delicate and frustrating paradox.

So I curse and swear inside the cabin of my truck, and shift down several gears to once again crawl and plod up that hill. But hey, it's sure looks good up there, on top of the hill. Hell, even half way up I figure the view is going to be breathtaking. I find a kind of solace in that hope; in that dream. It grants me fortitude and endurance. It affords me courage.

I figure the bravest thing about being a father and a good husband is to do what you have to do without anyone needing to know. You don't seek validation or tally scores to be kept for future reference. They don't need to know. Is that not why we love?

Of course —  you now know; but I'm sure that these words are just an expression of what you have already felt. Besides that, ranting to you my friend, doesn't count.

So I will boldly continue my plod, head down, always rethinking and reworking strategies that will enable me to go over, under, around and even straight through any blocks that threaten to slow my momentum. Because if there's one thing I've learned about momentum, if you've got enough of it, there ain't no stopping it.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Process


A dozen false starts. Tens of thousands of words deleted in a ruthless, swift click of the mouse. (And empty the trash, just to make sure.) All that work is never wasted though because it was used as the foundation for the next model, the new edition, the more coherent iteration.

Organically developed over than span of years, the story comes together in the world that is given form; stitched together with ideas, dreams and imagination. New directions are taken because of the characters personality traits. Morals and dogmas. It's what defines them and decides what actions they take in a given situation. Finally a trail is formed, winding through the newly created universe and solidified as the storyline. Now I put the characters in and — watch what happens.

I am not a subscriber of the "write it all down and then edit" way. If a story is a collection of scenes in sequence, then I tackle each and every one as an individual. I start with a sketch, a basic framework; outline and raw dialogue. Then I return to the beginning and build. The words become voice, the scene comes alive when given detail. The prose flows easily from the tongue as I read aloud, a way to ensure sentences and structure that is easy to you, my audience, to read and understand. The story must move forward. I want you to enjoy yourself, to be entertained.

I write in a very simple program called Darkroom. It is basically Windows Notepad with a black background and green text. No distractions. No auto-correction, auto-formatting, auto-styling or pop-up paper-clip that wants to anticipate my requirements. It's old school  —  well old school enough as it reminds me of the first word processors on computers that barely deserve the title. I guess I could use a typewriter but typewriters were before my time. Just.

I then rebuild directly into an HTML editor. I do this because uploading onto Amazon requires the final product to be formatted and compiled into a .mobi file. This method ensures that final product will look how I want it to be displayed on your kindle. Although compiling it through the Amazon provided Kindlegen software has to be done at some stage, I might as well do it as I go along. It gives me a chance to read the partially written novel on my own Kindle. For some reason it reads differently. I am able to see mistakes to be corrected that I had not seen before.

Writing a novel is a very, very long process. It has been said that a big job, is merely a number of small jobs put together. The novel is no different. Small iterations, completed to satisfaction. Sure, there will always be polishing to do, improvements to be made, editing notes to apply  —  but I will say that the method described above is actually working for me. It's a process.

Monday, 30 April 2012

The Beginning


I consider a genre novelist to be an entertainer — and that's what I plan to do. Weave worlds in my imagination, give life to solid characters and craft them into stories that will ultimately entertain people. Enough people that is, so that I can do it for a living and support my family. That's all I really want; anything else would be cream on top.

You see, I'm going to make a serious go at being a genre novelist and I want to do it full time.

I'm almost there — my debut. It's 75% done. Edited as I go and carefully eyeballed by my wife of seven years who is herself, midway through a PhD in Literature. My work is not her genre at all but she says that it flows and works well enough for her to have confidence in my abilities.

We have two children - I look after them most of the time as a stay at home Dad. I must say, it has been quite a challenge. (As I wrote the previous sentence my three year old daughter just came into my study to ask for assistance in the bathroom.) Writing with children is almost impossible. Almost. You just have to find new ways. Mine is 3am starts. Strong coffee, industrial strength ear protection and a dark room where I can get lost inside my imagination. I get maybe three or four hours before it begins. It's not hard, raising children, just relentless. I swear to you that I must hear the word "Daddy" 1000 times a day. Dawn till Dusk - 7 Days a week. It's on. Children under five. I know your smiling, if you've been there. You know. If you haven't, well lets just say it's something you just have to experience. Then you'll understand what me and the other one is snickering about. My children, in particular, are so pervasive they even interrupt my internal dialogue. I might be imagining a scene in my head while doing the dishes (I can't actually write, fingers to keyboard, while they are conscious.) It's going really well, but like stacking a house of cards, it's a fragile and delicate process. I have to remember all this, down to the inflection in a characters voice. It's pure brilliance.

 "Daddy - have you seen my fluffy dog?"

Argh. Even the shrill pitch of her sudden voice has startled me. <-- Poof --> it's all gone.

At least my boy goes to school now. Six hours of semi-respite. Only 500 "Daddy's". Still have 20 months until the girl goes too. I shouldn't be counting that down - but I am: 634 Days or 15,200 hours. Hmm - 20 months still sounds easier to deal with.

I check out the bios of various Authors to see how they do it. Most of them live with a very supportive partner and some sort of cute animal that keeps them company. No children. None of the successful authors - or even mid-listers seem to have children. I completely understand why. If you want to be a novelist, and do it for a living, then children might not be for you. But there are successful exceptions to the rule and I plan to be one of them.

I'm forty now. I've done a dozen jobs, mostly in creative arts or in some other role that can use my abilities as a communicator but I've also had my fair share of mundane and menial. You know the ones. They appear in the resumes of starving artists, musicians and actors. I've done those too. I could just never seem to stabilize in a single career. Find your passion, they would say. Well my ultimate passion is — dreaming! They say it is a bit hard to make coin doing that. Hmm, perhaps.

I love playing with my imagination and the concept of writing it down and selling it as entertainment has always held the great promise of a "lifestyle of choice". How hard could it be? We both know the reality of that is, well... difficult. First of all  — you have to be good. (Let's move past that foundation for the moment, in the interests of progression) Then you have to chase an agent who would in turn have to chase a book deal. Then you have to sign your rights away for a meager advance, wait a year or two for income. The whole process is insufferable, it takes so long. I just can't wait. I have a family to support.

But... (cue the slow building inspirational music of your choice)... A glimmer. A hope. I begin to hear rumors on the internet. There are those who are leading the way to a new path. I hear a name whispered. Konrath — J.A. Konrath. He speaks of a new sorcery, the power of self-publishing. Not for vanity, but for mass consumption. How can this be? He is called a heretic by some. His words are poison in the minds of new authors who wish to publish. Heed them at your own peril, I am warned. But his words intrigue me, like a sparkly lure, I'm hooked, awed by the possibilities. I hear names like Hocking and Locke. They have used the power themselves. And it is good. Then I understand. Amazon Kindle. e-publishing. I too can have the power. Now all I have to be is — good. Apart from that, nothing and no one can stand in my way.

He shows me, that it can be done. It shall be done.

Five and a bit chapters to go. Final edit and proof reading by the love of my life. (Handy having her by my side; she marks undergraduate essays and is heavy with the red pen. She is ruthless with me, especially if I tick her off prior to a reading. The things I do to ensure brutal honesty.)

Lets say by July this year I plan upload my debut creation to the Amazon Kindle network. I'll press the "go" button and watch. I am Indie published! (It's only taken about ten years.)

Of course I know that is only really step one in a long journey of self promotion and marketing. Advice has been to increase my digital footprint well in advance to the launch.

Blogging... that's one. (But don't expect a daily entry.)
Facebook. <groan>.
Twitter - probably not.
My own website. It will come. Small steps.

This blog is more about the journey. A dialogue of how it all happened — and where it all began. 

Anyway, in case you were wondering, I'm not going to tell you what my novel is about. Not yet at least. You'll have to wait and see. But it is coming. And because you are here — you will have known it, from the beginning.