This is a bit of a non post in some ways, it won’t tell you really what I have been doing or what I am up to but hopefully it will allow you to see I do have a plan.
In fact I have several plans but since some of them involve winning the lottery, marrying a millionaire wrestler or selling film rights to me book or all three I will stick to the ones that might actually be achievable.
The first is along side Voices there will be two other books out this year, Dragons Mark and the first part of the Queen of Ages Trilogy, Ascension. I have decided that as I like to write in different genres it makes sense that I find some way to differentiate between them so the fantasy/Dark Fantasy books will come under the banner of my Keys to The Castle books, then once I write in other genres I shall come up with a name for those as well, the idea for this is as I build up the home-made swag I can have some which relates to the general genre as well as the specific books.
The swag thing is still a side line, something to go along side the books, an added extra as you will, one of the hardest things is proving to be not wanting to keep it all for me as I make things up lol if you want a quick peek you can look at the Etsy store here or via the website there is still not much actually up there yet but I do have more waiting to go up once I take some photos I might even create a link page here at a later date.
I have recorded the vlog today and I discuss a couple of things on there but I know now that if I want to make changes to my life in terms of a career from writing then I have to make it happen no one will do it for me.
I feel really positive right now and I feel like even though other people might not see a lot happening at the minute that the future is looking bright.
First let me say what a wonderful time I had , and highly recommend if you get the chance to attend one of the Hourglass events you should. In fact next October they are going to be in Peterborough, The Darker Side of Fiction event is looking for authors and bloggers to attend so you should certainly consider it, I hope to be there as an author but if not shall be there as a guest so we can meet for a coffee or something a little stronger in real life.Check out the Facebook page here
Now back to the weekend just gone, I have filmed the before and a clip of the ballroom but not much on the night, I was too busy enjoying myself but I shall intersperse a few pictures in this post. So let’s start with a selfie…
The camera on my phone is not brilliant for photos in low light as the flash is on the rear facing camera only but I do like the rather gothic feel it gives this photo.
First thing to discuss is the stress of getting ready in a limited time frame, rather like leaving your novel until a week before a deadline it means you have to cut corners and are not quite as prepared as you would like. Okay the shortcuts taken in getting ready may be seen quicker but they are at least fleeting, whereas the cracks in your work can pervade your whole writing career.
The first thing I realised after leaving the house was I felt incredibly overdressed, another reason the arrive the day before and stay at the hotel next year but stepping out of your comfort zone is a good things sometimes and I definitely went with the old maxim of if you do not feel confident fake it, and so upon arriving at the hotel we entered the foyer and moved towards other masked and gowned people.
No the one slight negative I would say is that most of the getting to know each other seemed to have been done during the day at the actual signing, the evening event is more social and although I still chatted to a few people and met some amazing authors and readers, you feel a outsider, like you have been invited to a party but you do not really know anyone and they all know each other, it also does not help that no one looks like their author profile picture in the evening, I certainly don’t look like mine…
And no the cleavage is not that impressive in real life it was just the camera angle and the dress. The thing is unless you are really confident in yourself these events can be daunting, there were women of every age and shape there but you cannot help but to compare yourself and your dress choice to others, I still felt fine until we had official photos taken, one of which I shall be posting on the kitchen door to keep me out of it for the next year lol but seriously by the next one I attend I intend to have the most glamorous before and after shots ever.
This is the one and I know you are all going to tell me how good I look because you are all far to lovely to be realistic but seriously there is far too much junk in that trunk.
You are also treated to a rare photo of the daughter which she will probably demand I remove so enjoy it while it lasts, though as she does not read the blog she might not notice if no one tells her.
But anyway back to lessons learnt, and the fact is I learnt more about myself than anything else, about which of my insecurities are holding me back and make me self concious, that I really want to be parter of this type of creative community and that I need to really focus and stop procrastinating to make it happen.
I am my own worst enemy!
There was of course entertainment and I did do a little video of them so you will see that on Friday, we failed to win anything in the raffle and left before the disco was really in full swing (I had been at work that day) but here is a little food porn to excite the taste buds, I did not take a picture of the starter because basically I was starving at that point but I did take photos of the main and dessert…
I realised that when the last book launch did not go off how I wanted it to that I have become disillusioned and allowed it to effect my belief in myself, how can I expect anyone else to believe in me if I do not have it in myself. So next month I shall do the A – Z challenge again, at the same time I shall be reworking a couple of parts of Disintegration and Voices then I shall be back at the start of May ready to push both while working on The Dragon’s Mark, if I want to make this my career and earn an actual living from writing I need to push myself and find the faith in myself that I had at the start of the year.
At the end of the day yes, luck and fate play a part in success but we cannot complain if we fail to push ourselves and do everything we are capable of to achieve our dreams. Part of that means sacrifice, in my case spending less time chatting online to friends or wasting time playing games on FB when I could be writing, the morning after may not look pretty,
But it will be worth it to reach your goals and get the life you want, so I shall leave you with a final picture, until the next event, and know how incredibly lucky I am to know you all have my back and are always willing to gove me a shove forward when I feel myself falling back, I know I am already ahead of the game in that respect xxxx
I haven’t done an actual Award post for a while but this one dropped in my comments last week and I decided you know what lets go for it so…
I mean it has a dragon so how could I resist!
Here are the rules:
Thank the giver and link their blog to your post.
Pass the award on to other bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated.
Give 7 facts about yourself.
So first things first a huge thank you to Ravyn Whyt at Random Acts of Writing you can check out her lists here and learn more about her and the others she nominated.
Now 7 things about me that you don’t already know, well instead I decided to tell you seven thing I have learnt about myself through the self publishing process…
1) I could have a degree in procrastination, the closer I got to finishing the harder I found it to actually focus on the task at had.
2) Despite my bravado I have very little confidence when it comes to my own abilities and am actually now bracing myself for a stream of negative comments once people read my stories.
3) I realise the last one is irrelevant because I do not believe anyone will actually read my stories unless they know me and are trying to make me feel better.
4) I am becoming convinced I should go into PR rather than writing because I am pretty sure I can plan an awesome book launch if I put my mind to it but not as sure about producing the book itself.
5) Over the last twenty plus years I have suffered depression on and off, basically ever since post natal depression following my daughters birth, I am very good at recognising the signs of its approach and taking evasive action. I know compared to the black dogs that stalk others mine is generally more like the andrex puppy version but every now and again it grows fangs and turns into a huge hound, my grandmas death and the end of my relationship triggered that response. I know I hid it well and only a few people very close to me would have known the signs but while in its grip I found writing almost impossible, especially Voices with its obvious themes of death and afterlife, writing Disintegration became my therapy, and while I wanted it to be longer than it is, I had to accept some of my work in it was just not good enough. (Don’t worry the demons are back to chasing rolls of toilet tissue once more)
6) I have found an extra strength in admitting my failings to myself and accepting them and where previously it would have defeated me I have now learnt that because I cannot do something today does not mean I cannot do anything today and that I will not be able to do whatever I set my mind to tomorrow.
7) I make the mistake of looking at other people projects that diminish my confidence further simply because they are so awesome for example, this trailer is for my FB friend Claire’s latest project, it has absolutely nothing in common with my own stuff but I find my self thinking I will never manage anything this awesome
Now who to pass this to? Rubs hands together, lets see who has been quiet for a while…
Sorry I have not posted so far this week, but I promise I have been busy. I have read a few different blog posts and articles over the last few weeks with some really good advice about preparing for marketing your book once you actually send it out into the world. Some of it is perfect common sense when you stop to think about it, like using the same image of yourself across all your social media to make them more easily recognisable, yes I did have different pictures for everything lol. Other things have been more surprising…
First of all writing a bio! Apparently I should have two of these, one single paragraph one and one longer more detailed, or one long one that can be shortened so just the first paragraph needs using. Oh and it should be written in the third person, now if I went round talking in the third person they would lock me up so trying to write about yourself in it is no easy feat. It was also at this point I learnt about two other things. First the idea of a media kit available if anyone requests it, again it makes perfect sense, if of course you have the self confidence to believe someone will care, to have a nice file of bios, photos and reviews ready prepared for any local newspapers that decide they are interested but I think for most of us this is something for the future not something to worry about now, the second was having an designated email for websites. I use my gmail address for everything which explains why sometimes the computer screams when I open the inbox but the suggestion was that you should have one such as email@example.com sadly though I set up my website via Wix and they do not provide or support those types of email addresses so gmail will have to suffice even if some people may consider it slightly less professional.
Okay the final suggestion I read about was the importance of having a newsletter, there is a form for this for the website so I thought okay lets set it up…nothing is ever quite that simple. While filling in my details it required a physical address as well as email etc so of course I put mine in and thought nothing of it. Thankfully a lovely friend of mine was my guinea pig and signed up to check it all worked. Two minutes later she contacted me to let me know it actually gave out my address when she signed up, where I thought it was for there records it turns out they want to add a mailing address. For now I have altered it enough that though it satisfies the form it does not actually give my address out now. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind you lovely people here having it, just what happens if books start selling and lots of strangers sign up. I did have a quick look at the costs for a PO box or a private mail box, that costs about £120-140 and the Royal Mail one will not take parcels or letters from couriers apparently. Another option would be a mail forwarding service which was about half the price but I feel a little uneasy about stranger receiving my mail holding onto it then forwarding it to me but then again I guess that is just what the post office does. But again that is something to consider for the future when all the fan mail starts piling up (just kidding), but as with getting a Skype number to keep my home phone number and mobile private then I may have to look into option for a mailing address as well.
About the newsletter, well I have decided it will be monthly sent out on the last day of the month, it will have some exclusive content and I will try to do it so there are special give-aways and perks for subscribers, now it might take me a month or two to master the formats of it but if you are interested in signing up click here.
As you know one of the resolutions I made for my writing this year was to submit more, to take the plunge and put my work out for judgement and critique and not hide it in a file for the computer to eat.
So the other day when I received a tweet about a flash fiction comp I thought lets have a look. Up to a thousand words, well that isn’t a problem, no theme but when I looked at the back catalogue of submissions on the website it seemed pretty general literary stuff, okay not really my thing but I could challenge myself and give it a go. Deadline is Friday I got the tweet I believe just before the weekend but was busy but a thousand words a night to write, a night to edit and a night to edit again was doable. So you might ask yourself why I am in a quandary?
There is a fee to enter only $6 or about £4 nothing really, I can spend that on one magazine but there was something else that bothers me. The work must be unpublished anywhere else and if you submit it somewhere else and they accept it you have to notify them so they can pull it, okay far enough there is a $500 prize at stake but by submitting you are agreeing to the magazine having the right to print your story either on-line or in print. Now I would understand the winner, I would understand the short-list if they have one or runners up if they had those but it seems a little strange to me that you are literally paying to have your work possibly printed.
Now when you sign a contract there are clauses set out telling you exactly what you are signing away and for how long and that is what I don’t feel comfortable about this as there is nothing concrete. the wording is…
All submissions are eligible for publication by ***** ***** in print or on-line.
So it would appear basically you are giving up all publication rights and could not publish the work yourself even if you don’t win. The magazine is an on-line free magazine so I completely understand the need to charge an entry fee to be able to offer a prize but do I really want to give away a story without knowing exactly what I am signing away I am not so sure. Imagine if a later book became a best seller, can they profit from a story I would have literally paid them to look at? (Of course the chances of that ever being an issue are minuscule but nevertheless…)
I have started work on the story but still have not decided, what are your thoughts, have you ever entered writing competitions? Would that condition put you off as well?
There is a Kylie song which pretty much sums up how I am feeling at the minute in fact lets insert it here and you can listen while reading as long as you don’t get distracted by the hot pants…
Okay so now we have the music pumping lets crack on, first you will have noticed Monday remains book reviews but the TV post on a Tuesday has undergone a little transformation towards more of a writing view point. Here on a Wednesday I will talk about my writing in the previous week, so this week I would mention the fact I have been reworking the story which was rejected into a longer form for submission to a Sci-Fi market and that I have now moved on to reworking an old serial I posted on here to try to extend it with the intention of publishing it as a novella. I felt a brief break from Voices was needed for a couple of weeks while I get into the swing of my timetable/scheduling routine.
For those of you who want to see who I am doing with the resolutions I posted back in January the last months round up is published and you can read that here.
I feel I should briefly touch on that here I am a list addict I find I am more productive if I can see exactly what needs doing and what has been accomplished. Previously I seemed to have different lists all over the place but then I bought this…
I am loving it and although it has taken a week of two moving things round to find a way to make it work best for me I am really happy with it. At £17.99 it was not exactly cheap but it has some brilliant exercises in the front as well to help keep you mentally focused and motivated I just hope they make one or next year now, if you want a better look you can find it here.
Thursdays for now will continues as Throwback Thursdays partly because they are quick to post and secondly I have lots of old photos and as time goes on new photos become old ones, not sure I would continue it next year but for the rest of this year you get to look at my mug at least once a week.
Fridays will remain Vlog Time though I would like to improve these and add a little more in terms of content I also know a few people would like to see and hear more from the monster so maybe I will look at when I film them and see if that can be changed.
Saturdays will become a little more about me, once a month will be the Glossybox review, my friend Deborah gave me lots of grief when I stopped those before and as she has my phone number and knows where I work I better not upset her any more. I will use this day to talk about any days out I have had, plays I have been to etc. It may be in the form of a blog post or some video footage depending where I have been or most likely a mixture of both. I also listen to a lot of podcasts so I may discuss issues from them or the news at this point but I do not want this to get heavy and serious I would rather keep up with a light hearted tone similar to the one I used during A-Z.
Sunday will see the return of Sunday Story, at the minute I am aiming to post a flash piece or a character scene and keeping it under a 1000 words, half my flash fiction pieces seem to end up getting reused at a later date as the start point for longer pieces and that is a failing of my flash fiction writing that I can never tell the full story in so few words people always ask for more so we shall see what happens with them. I do think by having at least one separate piece to work on each week it will give me a break from my main WIP and take some of the pressure off myself.
Write back to writing now I hope you like the sound of the changes I am making and really hope you will all enjoy what is to come. And I want to say thank you to all of you for being there through the last few dark months, your likes, comments and support has meant more than you can ever know xx
Have you ever wondered what someone who didn’t know you would think if they investigated the titles on your book cases?
Now of course I am not suggesting I am up to anything dodgy other than injuries I may inflict on characters I create, but I have just been catching up on some true crime programmes I had recorded and it did make me stop and think, well that and the dog. The dog probably started it to be fair as once more it had managed to tangle its tail in the brambles at the bottom of the garden chasing fairies (must be fairies because I can’t see what it finds so fascinating down there) of course the first thing all self respecting dogs do when they have a bleeding tip of their tail, yup they come in and give it a really good wag. There were several rather interesting spray patterns across the lower part of the wall and I did joke with the other half that if I was to disappear at that very moment it would take forensics a long time to eliminate every canine blood splatter. With this amusing thought in mind I settled down to watch some TV, something I tend to do in binges rather than regularly these days, and after watching a programme on Broadmoor and one on Fred and Rose West I started thinking about something one of the officers in Broadmoor said about being able to tell by seven which children would end up there.
Now I am not going to start in depth nature vs nurture debates here or discuss biological and chemical factors that can lead to the types of crimes and illnesses they were discussing in the shows so don’t worry but what did raise my eye brow was the idea that interests can be indicators of predispositions to certain behaviours.
Then I looked at my book cases…
Then I cringed…
Then I realised if ever social services looked to closely I would have to pray they believed I was a writer and it was all research material.
The truth is my book shelves are probably not that different to anyone one else’s but I thought it would be interesting to consider what is actually one them. Okay we start of with the Classics, not much wrong there really of course there is lots of murder, child labour, prostitution and crime and that is just Dicken’s but nothing too graphic.
Next up we start getting more disturbing, yes it’s the kids books, now if you have not read them for a while I suggest you start revisiting the original Grimm’s tales etc! I remember my daughter reading the actual Children’s Classic of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Disney has a lot to answer for at this point as I never considered this as a book I need to check before she read, well let me tell you she had nightmares after reading the section where the blue fairy hangs Pinocchio from a tree and sets fire to him!
Then we start with the grey area’s all the Sci-Fi and Fantasy I have on my bookshelves, mainly the later, full of violence, some sex, magic, witchcraft and some rather unsavoury characters. Also in my case you can throw in a Spell book or two which can be taken either way as they are not black magic just things like spells for health and happiness, thankfully no voodoo or satanic content though there may be some who would argue if I was to say the spells backwards lol.
The area it looks really bad is the growing section of real life crime, and misery memoirs, and lets face it some of those can be very gruesome. There is something naturally fascinating about evil, it is something that few of us ever come into direct contact with knowingly but is always only a few degrees of separation away. Terrible tragic things happen on a daily basis and at first it is easy to dismiss them as just another news story but for literally hundreds of people it can be life changing, and I believe that is where our fascination lies. Yes, we wonder what makes people do horrible things, and we are interested in the crimes but I think it is the people that surround the crimes that hold more interest in many ways. The number of times we ask how neighbours did not know something was happening, how they covered things up, how no one picked up on clues which in hindsight always seem so obvious. The next door neighbours of serial killers nearly always describe them as quiet, and polite, obviously annoying the neighbours would not be a good mood if you have dead bodies under the bed but it is also the fact they look so normal. If you were to stop and think about it even if you have never personally come into contact with these sorts of tragedies the chances are you know some one that has a degree of connection with one. Everyone knows someone who worked for the same company as someone who knew a killer or victim, or went to the same school or drank in the same pub. I know people who know someone who survived been attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper, now of course in reality that means nothing but what it does do is make it more real. It brings it from the pages of a book or newspaper and makes it something normal and everyday but instead of normalising it, it actually makes it more intriguing. As writers we possibly concentrate more on the murders on the how’s and whys than the average reader but the fascination is there for all. The number of Crime Channels on TV and crime programmes be the fact, fiction or a mixture of both continues to grow and likewise the number of books published.
I am pretty sure my book shelves are pretty much like anyone else’s and that if I ever did anything wrong someone could read more into the titles than they really represent but I might just move the books on anatomy away from the real life crime section just in case…
So what do you think your books say about you, generally mine say I am a fantasist with a fascination for the pain and suffering of others but as I say I think that sums up most writers.
As I mentioned in a previous blog one of the tasks I have set for myself is to go through the blog and tidy up a few things, mainly missing items and half finished lists.
This will be an ongoing process, I know there are a few posts that I should go back and edit, correct a few typos and in some cases add punctuation to allow readers to breathe while reading. This will of course be long process, therefore I think that I may very well do a post such as this at the start of each month to allow anyone interested to catch up on the changes and updates.
I also want to pull together all the poetry and flash fictions to see what I have and possibly work on some of the requests for more I have had for some stories. In some ways I realise that I am useless at flash fiction in that the stories are very rarely self contained and complete judging by how many people request I add more to them but I do find them really good as testers for story ideas and a couple have already been worked on and expanded as part of Voices.
I am also in the process of sorting out my desk and the huge stack of notebooks that live there. I have a horrible tendency to start a notebook scribble in it for a few pages then get a new one and write in that but I am now trying to ensure that every collection or stand alone book has its own notebook for research, notes etc.
Right I shall now go carry on with the organising and writing.
I am a couple of posts behind so today and tomorrow will be doubling up on posts to catch up so apologies for double emails in your inboxs.
I decided today would be a good day to share with you some of the writing apps I use and my thoughts on them.
So first up we have Scrivener a tool many writers will be familiar with, I love using this especially in the early stages of writing story outlines as the corkboard feature is great for shuffling things around. I decided to show you a screen shot from my Voices manuscript and as you can see from the number of stories down the side it has evolved from ten stories to a few extra which is part of the reason for the delay, I did toy with doing it in two volumes but have so many other things I want to do I decided that I would rather do one decent volume then get on with other stories.
Next up from the same people who developed Scrivener we have Scapple, this is a new app for me and I only have the 30 day free trial at the minute until I decide if I really need it or not. I love mind mapping and it is a lot of fun to use one drawback is remembering to change the orientation for the paper if you want to print off your mind map and I will admit it would probably be just as easy if not easier to doodle on paper but this does have the advantage that you don’t have to struggle to make up what you wrote at a later date and you can move things around if you find one area becoming a little congested.
Next up Freedom, I decided to give this a go after hearing Zadie Smith mention using it, the concept is really easy it imposes discipline to resist the temptation of Facebook and twitter for you. I am trying this with a 5 day free trial, you set how long you want your internet blocked for and can schedule which days you would like it to run on then it stops you being able to access the internet for those hours. You can over ride the system by restarting the computer if you really, really need to but but I have to confess I am finding this one really good however remember to set your preference to allow you local network if like me you have a wireless printer otherwise that won’t work either.
The Magic Spreadsheet is the brainchild of Tony Pisculli and I know I have mentioned it before but it is worth another mention, if you have trouble getting into the routine of writing then this helps inspire and encourage you to form that habit. So far this year I have written every day even if only a few hundred words.
Evernote is an app I have but I really do not use it as much as I should. It is similar to an online scrap book where you can save images, websites, articles etc, it also now syncs to a desk top version which I have installed as I intend to start using it more now to tie in with the Freedom app so I can access research without needing the internet on.
Finally the last app I am using is Pomodoro which is aimed at helping you develop better time management, it allows you to focus on a specific task for a period of time normally twenty- five minutes although I prefer thirty minute sessions then a break in between each task to encourage you to get up and move rather than spending all day sat at the desk.
Well not quite or this post would have gone out at the right time this morning and as it is Monday it would have been a review of some sort, but today I started to feel like I was getting back into the swing of things properly.
I had intended getting stuck in today but I realised I made a major error, the alarm went off this morning and up a sprang, monster fed, scrubbed and dressed for school before I opened my diary to check something and discovered they didn’t go back to school till tomorrow! Plans for the day scuppered!
So instead the monster has done some cutting and sticking and watching Doctor Who while I have done something productive which didn’t require the need for me to give it my full attention. One of my resolutions is to start submitting more work to publications so I spent an hour today looking for magazines for possible submission to. And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised how many of them are actually paying markets, okay they are not going to pay the bills but even a couple of quid somehow adds to a feeling of validation. Now don’t get me wrong there are amazing magazines like Zest in which I have appeared that do not pay and that does not lessen the thrill of being accepted by them but what the paying market does offer you is the opportunity to stick that cheque (or printed off paypal receipt) right in the face of those family members who think you are wasting your time writing and don’t believe anyone would ever pay you for anything you write. To non writers paid for work has more validation regardless of the actually quality of the writing or the publication. I know we all say other peoples opinions shouldn’t matter but hands up if you can honestly say you have never been bothered by at least one loved one who has doubted you?
And speaking of family I spent an hour yesterday doing a little more research on my family tree, no new members but learning a little more about one I can put a face to…
This is my great, great grandfather John William Callis and I took a closer look at the information provided by the 1881 census records.
John was 17 and living and working as the servant for a butchers business. His boss was 25 and had a wife and three small children and they had a general servant, a woman age 20 who also lived there. You may wonder why I was interested in these other people who were unrelated to me but you will understand in a minute.
This picture is taken on the same road where he was living infact only a few door away from where the actual building would hae stood. Because I have found the images via google obviously getting pictures of the exact building is a little difficult, however based on the fact all these businesses look to be set out the same way and the buildings are consistent with the type of building you would expect for the Victorian Era I think it is safe to surmise that the one a few doors along from these would have looked the same. Most of the individual businesses only seem to have two windows at the front, here is the rear view…
Again it is not the right number for his home but as can be seen the back does not look any more spacious if anything it appears the houses possibly slope down at the back suggesting even less space. I would have expected the yard behind the butchers to have been paved with possible an out house or two but looking at the houses it is pretty clear how small they were and for so many people crowded in it is more than likely John would have slept on a pallet in the shop itself. The contacts he made there would see him in good stead in years to come, my grandma remembers that her grandfather always seemed to have meat to put on the table.
Sometimes it is good to look back and to reflect on the struggles, lives, loves and successes our ancestors faced to allow us to be the people we are today.