Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Social Media and a Novella

While my edits are being passed through the strainer for 'A Swamp of Bones,' I've taken a day off to look at my social media. Sadly, it's a struggle and I don't know why but I'm reluctant to put myself out there. I've only recently started being active on twitter and this blog is still so new! But if I'm serious about writing I know it's something I'm going to have to suck up and do.

Goodreads is a site I've heard bandied about, an addictive site where you can grade all the books you've read. It's been fun rediscovering some I'd forgotten about! I don't quite understand how the interfacing works yet but since I'm still trying to get my author page set up I've resigned myself to waiting this one out before it bears fruit!

Kindleboards, another one I've known about, though only vaguely. It's a great community though I know I've only scratched the surface of what everyone has to offer there! I was initially worried it was some big marketing spam site and there is that but there's much more going on as well.

CritiqueCircle. I came across this one purely by accident, clicking through someone's blog. It's not a social media group but I think it will potentially be even more valuable. It's a website dedicated to providing detailed critiques. It has a great system set up so that everyone participates equally. I'm looking forward to seeing what more can come of this site since I've already read and critiqued some absolute gems!

While this has all been going on, I've been planning my next stories. There are a few shorts on the go and another novel but I've been most interested in a novella I've just thought up. There are characters in 'A Swamp of Bones' who don't get as much time as I'd like them too. I know that must sound funny since I'm the one writing it but side characters are just that, on the side. And there's one who's story I really want to delve into so I'm hoping to get that written and out in another month or so, life willing!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Swamp of Bones

Still working away on the first novel. I have the ending fixed in my head which is a big step closer to finishing it! It's taken so many twists and turns from its conception. Has also turned into a zombie novel... I've never been too big on zombies before but it's been fun mucking around with them, especially since they're more harmless than some other varieties I've read! Hoping to have the whole thing up before April 1st.

Friday, 16 March 2012

17th of March

In honor of my dad's birthday, I'm putting up a free story to celebrare someone with no Irish blood in him at all. It will only be free until the 18th of March. Essentially it's a St. Patrick's day freebie. Because it takes so long to get things going on Amazon, especially freebies, it will only be free on Smashwords. You can download it from there or just read it from the site. Clicking on my Smashwords link on the right side of the blog will take you there. It should be easy to spot!

A St. Patrick's story where one good coat and the revenge of a flower cause misery to a prankster in the hills of Ireland. The story is called Leipreachán and I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Goals 2012

I know I've missed New Year's Resolutions by a couple of months but having goals is a concrete way of measuring my progress. There are two writing goals which I've been thinking a lot about recently. The 10,000 hour mastery and the 1,000,000 word wall. The first is simply impossible to do in the space of a year so I can't really set that goal and I'm not actually too certain how I'll measure it. I did think to try to measure it by word count per hour but I've just discovered my word count per hour is very fluid at the moment. So I've aimed for the latter as something that I hope is reasonable enough to be able to do but also challenging enough to make it a worthwhile goal.

50 short stories is a totally arbitrary number I've pulled from the sky. But it is roughly 1 short story a week which I would hope to be doing anyway. However, as I've been delving into the heart of 'Swamp of Bones', which is getting longer and longer and looking to end up being even longer still, short stories are a struggle. I've had to fit them around the chunk of my writing day almost like a hobby. It's a peculiar feeling but it means that less is getting done and I'm not 100% sure I can make 50 short stories this year. I've only got 7 up now and its the middle of March.

4 novels is also potentially a failure waiting to happen. While I'm doing well enough on that goal at the moment, life is an interesting and untamable beast. So much has changed in the last six months that I can't even hope to predict what might happen in the coming six. But having four novels out by the end of the year seems like a good thing to do. If only I could tear myself away from the internet to do it.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Nameless Characters

I'm trying a new writing style in short stories which has always fascinated me. Characters with no names. The next collection I put out will be made up of six stories where none of the characters have names. Can people connect with them if they don't have names? I think people can. It also adds something to the story, trying to create someone or something that the readers can empathize with or at least be interested in. I'm also surprised by the amount of interest readers are showing in these stories.

While I say I'm writing a 'new' style, when I look back over my work, I've realized it's something I've been doing for a while. This is just the first time I'm actively and consciously deciding to leave names out and it's an interesting challenge. And it's a lot of fun.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Hater's Gonna Hate

Since I’ve started writing and indie publishing, I’ve spent most of my time around people who are excited for me. It was a big decision to make, to leave the 9-to-5 behind and take a risk. But the support has been amazing and slightly unexpected. I’ve also spent a lot of time researching indie publishing and because of that, reading a lot of material which sheds a favorable light on it. So I thought it had become widely accepted.

But since I emerged from that cocoon of people who care and support me, I’ve seen that this isn’t the case. There are people who are interested and excited but more commonly I’ve spoken to people who are condescending and rude about it. They laugh or mock or question me relentless about my life choices, eagerly waiting to hear me try to defend myself.

 All too often, I do try to defend myself. The first time it happened, I was upset about the reaction I got to my harmless answer about ‘What are you up to?’ I spent half an hour explaining why it was viable but still couldn’t convince the skeptic. Since then, I’ve learned it’s easier to avoid these horrible conversations altogether.

 Instead of my previous attempts to answer with some honesty, I’ve now taken to saying ‘nothing’ when asked what I’m doing now with myself. Surprisingly no one’s asked me to defend that answer. It seems that me lazing around and doing nothing is better than focusing my attention on something I care about.

 And while I do still get upset when people think they’re in a position to judge, it dwindles with each occasion. I’m not about to question people's decision to take a nine-to-five or the degree they chose to do in college or their life choices if they're harming no one. So it's hard to have to stand and listen while they think they can question me. But as a friend told me in response to my bewildered anger, 'Hater's gonna hate.' Indeed.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Writer's Block

Reposted as something that can be reblogged. ON WRITER’S BLOCK.

I’ve seem to be hitting writer’s block far too often now. My grade in my creative writing class is suffering because i don’t turn in anything because i’m never really satisfied with anything i do. all my good ideas seem to turn into bad ones once i write it down. How do you get pass writers block?
You turn off your inner critic. You do not listen to your inner police force. You ignore the little voices that tell you that it’s all stupid, and you keep going.
Your grade isn’t suffering because your writing is bad, it’s suffering because you aren’t finishing things and handing them in. 
So, finish them and hand them in. Even if a story’s lousy, you’ll learn something from it that will be useful as a writer, even if it’s just “don’t do that again”.
You’re always going to be dissatisfied with what you write. That’s part of being human. In our heads, stories are perfect, flawless, glittering, magical. Then we start to put them down on paper, one unsatisfactory word at a time. And each time our inner critics tell us that it’s a rotten idea and we should abandon it.
If you’re going to write, ignore your inner critic, while you’re writing. Do whatever you can to finish. Know that anything can be fixed later.
Remember: you don’t have to brilliant when you start out. You just have to write. Every story you finish puts you closer to being a writer, and makes you a better writer.
Blaming “Writer’s Block” is wonderful. It removes any responsibility from the person with the “block”. It gives you something to blame, and it sounds fancy.
But it’s probably more honest to think of it as a combination of laziness, perfectionism and Getting Stuck. If you’re being lazy, don’t be. If you’re being a perfectionist, don’t be. And if you’re stuck, figure out where the story went off the rails, or what you got wrong, or where you need to go deeper, or what you need to add to make it work, and then start writing again.

Original found here: http://tmblr.co/ZvoEtwHZU8ZN

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Swamp of Bones

Once I started getting into 'A Swamp of Bones' I remembered my favorite thing about indie publishing so far. I intended it to be a short story but as I got writing I was interested to explore where else it could go. So instead of keeping it short, I'm going to spend longer with it and see where it goes and how long it ends up being. It's great not to have to aim for a word count or keep it within a length. A story can be short story, novelette, novella or novel length and it'll be interesting to see where this ends up.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Excerpt: A Swamp of Bones

      Excerpt from my next short story 'A Swamp of Bones'

   She stood in the middle of the swamp, her bare feet squishing through the ooze and slime that water had made from the dirt and earth and blood. She was blindfolded and holding a stave, the hood of her sweatshirt pushed back so she could hear. She never knew where they would come from but she always knew where they would end up.
      There were different kinds of them and some were more dangerous than others. A wicked blade was attached to one end of the stave and it had taken her a while to learn how to use it without cutting herself. They didn’t believe in easy training. There was no training but the fight.
      Which is why she was standing in the swamp, her muscles tensed and her ears straining. In the swamp there was only one enemy and it was best not to look on their faces, or what was left of their faces. She was protecting the band while they foraged. Guards were posted, some sweating nervously. It didn’t take much to be promoted to guard, too many died for the leader to be picky. She wasn’t even the youngest though she’d been guarding the longest.
      Many of the survivors who ended up in the camp survived by accident. She had survived due to design. She was born after it had started and the world had broken into feral bands and camps, struggling to stay alive. She was born a survivor and she’d been raised on blood and violence. 

Some great places to start

As a writer who has only recently started going indie, there was a lot of research to do and I'm still at the bottom of a big learning curve looking up. So advice or opinions coming from me aren't the best place to start if you're thinking of going indie. There are a lot of long term writers who have helpful blogs. What I've found best is to sample all of them, look over their own advice and then decide what will work best for you.

Smashwords has a great article on marketing with the e-book:

And there are several big blogs that can help you find your own success:

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/ - Dean's blog had several great and I mean excellent series about going indie. He teaches you how to do it smart and also spends a long time debunking writers' myths which is a big eye opener. Or at least it was for me!

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ - Konrath's blog is big in the media and it's name alone says a lot: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. A lot of people don't like his irreverent tone but he does have some good stuff to say. Regardless, I've personally found it less helpful than Dean's blog.

http://kriswrites.com/ - Kris' blog has two running series worth a look. She has a surviving freelancing series for those interested in being a freelancer, not just a writer, and a business series which I admit I haven't delved too much into just yet.

I'm sure there are many other blogs and sites out there but these are the three I've found helpful so far on the new phenomena of e-books.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Indie Publishing

I've been reading a lot about indie publishing from personal interest. There are a lot of naysayers and a lot of yaysayers and it's easy to get demotivated. In one day I can go from the extreme of wanting to finish the book or the story that I'm working on to deciding I just might not be good enough.

But as everyone does keep saying, or at least the people I'm listening to, every person's journey is different and you need to find what works for you. What works for me is reading less of Konrath and Hocking's blogs, maybe a bit more of Dean Wesley Smith's but only because he's encouraging slow growth. We don't all need to be overnight successes. And those of us without extensive backlists broken over legacy publishing, it'll take a bit longer but if you focus and write, eventually it will come. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway!