Writing – what are you willing to sacrifice …?

Yes, it’s been months since I wrote anything here.  I know.

And I have no great announcements to make – aside from the fact that my Uni coursework actually put me off writing.  This is strange for a course that is meant to teach me about writing – the fact that my heart isn’t in the story has had something to do with it too.  In an effort to write something ‘literary’, I created a post-modern examination of gender roles, and the differences in generations from Eighties Britain and Noughties Britain … (I know it sounds crap, but bear  with me.)  I did this by sticking a 24-year-old man in a hotel room with a forty eight year old woman … and just seeing what happened.

They start telling their life stories, while he tries to get her into bed … and that’s where it gets complicated.

The whole idea of the coursework is STUPID.  Eight thousand words of text, plus a letter to an agent, and a synopsis.  I don’t have to epublish it, or tout it on the internet …   I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO FINISH IT!  The constant advice to any first time author is to finish a first draft, and THEN edit … but this coursework ignores that, and makes me polish a first few chapters for nothing other than to check I can string a few sentences together.

Given that this course lasts two whole semesters, wouldn’t it be or realistic to actually write a whole damn novella … and teach the misguided students to actually finish something …

This whole process has drained any joy I get from my other writing … like the fantasy novel I was trumpeting a few posts ago.  I’m stuck on the 45 k mark, and can’t quite get that push to plunge back in.

Maybe I have learnt my lessons too well, and just want to polish the first few chapters and then give up!   I hope not!

Anyway, rant over.  Going to bang my head against a wall, until my head stops hurting!

Posted in Confessions and other lies, Motivations | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Flash Gold Chronicles by Lindsay Buroker

In my never-ending bid to not hate those who are doing what I want to do, and actively applaud good indie-writing – I present Linday Buroker’s Fantasy-Steampunk The Flash Chronicles.

There are two titles thus far, the eponymous Flash Gold, and Hunted – both of which follow half-breed tinker and artificer Kali McAlister, as she survives a slightly different American gold-rush frontier.

And Kali has problems.  She is sharp-tongued, tomboyish, and all she wants to do is invent things, while other women of the era either marry young or belong in a bordello.  She dreams of building an airship of her own, to get away from the frozen wastes of the Yukon.  But her long-dead father, a legendary inventor and magician, invented Flashgold, a substance that can be used to power engines and machines, which, of course,  makes it very valuable.  Though she doesn’t know how to make it, she does have a very large piece of it – and before she knows it, she has a price on her head.

And then enter Cedar, a big man looking for a job – with a shiny new rifle over one shoulder, and a Japanese katana over the other …

It has all the requirements for a bodice-ripping romance, but it’s anything but that.  Both stories are exciting, frenetic adventure romps, which manage to keep the reader guessing all the way to the end.  Buroker writes confidently, with a good voice and attention to detail.   Kali is a believable, likeable and plucky character, who doesn’t fall into the MarySue trap, yet is resourceful and lucky.   Cedar is taciturn, good with his weapons, and isn’t the stereotype he could have been in less experienced hands.

The first story features a sled race, the second has a  – well, it has a steamdriven bike, a magically powered drill, and an intense little scene in a Welsh sleeping bag!

Her blog has a wealth of information for the aspiring e-author (if that’s actually a word), and the next instalment in the Flashgold series comes out soon.   My finger won’t hover over the buy button for very long!




Posted in Jealousy/inspiration, Reviews | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Writing and commerce

Somewhere in the UK at the moment, someone is celebrating a £46 million Eurolottery win.

Did you feel it – the brief twinge of jealousy?  That someone is set for life, lucky beyond their wildest dreams, never to have to worry about a day’s work ever again, and able to indulge in their fantasies for the rest of their lives.


And it’s the same feeling when we read about success in the publishing world.  Amanda Hocking got her big fat legacy-publishing deal, J.A.Jonrath is selling ebooks by the proverbial bucket full.  Many authors you’ve never even heard of are raking in the cash, living it large, successful in their chosen sphere.

And, despite all out protestations that it’s about the art, about telling the stories, touching people’s lives etc – that’s where we all want to be.  Successful, wealthy, and still young enough to enjoy it.  Deny it all you want, unless your aim is to give all your royalties to charity, that is why you are doing this.

Of course, these paragons didn’t get there without an awful amount of work and skill.  They all went through their cold and lonely times, when doubt could have won, when the need for a proper job could have trumped their hopes.  They are there through their grit and determination, their ability to see a hole in the market, their – for want of a better word – balls of steel.

But (we are told) the business model is simple to reproduce – if we are any good – if we can show the same amount of obsession – if we can build a web-presence no-one can ignore.  Then, we too could be part of this new wave of publishing, this tsunami of creative commerce.  We, the new entrepreneurs of the 21 century.

This greed is present in any commenter who mentions their book in a comment, in the twitter-marketing barrage you get when you follow someone new.  Usually with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and the effectiveness of a seventeen flyposters all on the same wall.

And then there is epublishing’s own support industry.  The services offered the aspiring writer are nearly as numerous as the writers themselves.  A whole new income source has opened for graphic designers, freelance editors, multimedia advertising, writing coaches.  They are there to support and feed on our desire for success.  We are the dreamers, but they do the gruntwork.  They get paid by the hour and will probably have a steadier income than any of us ever will.

Unless we win that lottery ticket, of course.

This post was inspired, in part, by my putting my money where my mouth is.  I commissioned some cover art for a fantasy book.  One that I haven’t even finished writing the draft for .  My chosen artist, Ravven, was a delight to work with, is really good at her job, and I now have that cover to stare at whenever I feel like it’s just a big bloody waste of time.

The scary part is that I could just have wasted some money on a book I will never finish.  Even if I do publish, I still have to sell X number of copies before I breakeven.  I have many other things to do, which will cost me a whole lot more. And every time I spend, I put my breakeven tally that little further away.

Suddenly, I have bought my way into a risky venture, one that may not pay off.  One that may fail, languor, die.

Accidentally, for good or ill, I am an entrepreneur. And I stand a far bigger chance than buying a lottery ticket.

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A letter to Facebook …

Hi, remember me?

Erm … I gave you up two weeks ago …

I’ve not missed you, you know, not at all – okay, that isn’t entirely true.  When its quiet, the kids asleep and there’s nothing on T.V. I might think fondly of our time together.  My Bejeweled Blitz high scores, my Zynga Poker addiction, even all those lolz pictures.  I miss stalking friends, to avoid actually talking to them.  I miss the way you used to slip into my subconscious, as a time killer, a distraction as powerful as any opiate.

But then I remember – how it seemed everyone was having more fun than me.  How people would share better pictures, links, YouTube posts, etc.  I remember folding another hand, thinking, ‘I’ve just wasted an hour of my life on busted flushes.’  I remember trying to come up with funny/deep/shocking status-updates, and the tumbleweed silence that follows.  I remember reading everything since the last time I’d read everything, and then … not knowing what to do.

Since giving you up, I have discovered time.  Time to pace, thinking about twisting plotlines.  Time to re-edit an old story, and duptrope it on the same night!  Time to actually write.  Since giving you up I have written 20,000 words, which is more than I’ve written in the last six months, when you were permanently plugged into my brain.

You made me forget I was a writer – you pretend to be a social media, but you’re more like an amusement-arcade/grapevine/cul-de-sac.  I may fall off the wagon on occasion, but I know I can do without you now …

Besides, I’ve now got Twitter! 🙂


Posted in Confessions and other lies, Motivations | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Personal epiphanies and spare change

Quite a long time since my last post … the stats have flatlined, and I’m sick of staring at the same blog post al the time!

Since that last post I’ve started a new book, (again) and burned my way to 12 thousand words.  Cause its a fantasy book, having shucked the straightjacket of contemporary literary snobbery against anything remotely genre.  So there.

After plotting it out, setting the characters ,imagining the settings, and writing three chapters and a prologue, I ground to a halt.  Then two whole days of mopping about, complaining  how hard it was to be a writer.

And during a walk through town, I realised that I’d rather be writing. I had money to burn, and every game, book, DVD box set, almost anything, would just get in the way of my writing, so there was no point buying it.

And that’s the personal epiphany, I guess.  I bought as hat for £4, and a coffee.

The change that came over me for that three-day writing sprint (for me anyway) was profound.  It’s so much bloody fun.  Granted I haven’t started pulling out my hair over the editing and polishing process yet, but still, it’s so much fun. While writing the moribund ‘literary’ novel for my course, I would pace my livingroom, looking for ‘issues’ and ‘dissonances’ to layer into my dialogue.  Very worthy, but not much fun.

And that’s the spare change.  I’ve changed the reason I write, somehow.  Because it’s fun.


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The One Million Words conundrum …

This one’s a bit of a headfrak.  One million words … really?

The theory is, (by whoever) that a writer needs to write a million words before they are any good.  This is a rule made for breaking of course, as all rules are.  Many first time authors get their breaks, and we’re all left envious from the sidelines, wondering, hold on, what about the one million word rule?

But a million words?  I really don’t thing I’ve cracked that milestone yet.  Maybe half a million, two-thirds … How does one go about counting all the words one has creatively written over a whole lifetime, like all those ones I had on the green-screen word-processor that is now rotting in some rubbish dump?

And then there’s the Meta-answer?  Is the number just a symbol?

Of course it is.  It’s the hill to climb, the novel unwritten, the lessons learnt.  Ability isn’t measured by success (whisper-whisper Dan brown)  But just like they say in Throw Mama From the Train ‘A writer writes. Always.’  Which does suggest that a million words should be quite easy, over a whole lifetime

Learning these hill-walking tricks, survival techniques, guideropes (and just to exhaust the simile), pitfalls, is what the million words is about.  Kicking some literature butt.  Pulling on tour boots again when you dont want to, when its cold, when there are other things to do … Putting one letter in front of another until you get to the end of your endurance.

And then doing the same again a day later.

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My first Amazon KDP experience …

Inspired, (and procrastinating) as I am, a wander through the blogosphere turned up this little gem, and while trawling through this mountain of other diamonds, I found this.  So I got thinking …

That’s usually where the trouble starts …

In his Challenge, he intends to anatomize the experience of writing a short story, picking the cover, formatting and publishing it, and all   within days!!!  It can’t be that easy, can it?  So I went to find out.

As devoted readers (so far … one) will know, I have been using Scrivener with great delight, and that wonderful writing package has a .mobi compiler.  In other words, it prepares the manuscript in the form that Amazon wants.  And there’s me thinking it was expensive!

So I did that.  And then I went to Amazon KDP, opened an account, and within 30 minutes, my wonderful, (coverless) short story was in their queue, to be published within the next 12 hours.

Wow.  Forgive the vernacular of the younger generation, but squeeee!  For a kid who dreamed of publication way back when they were ten, to just do it that easily … Well, I did a little dance on my way to my next coffee!

I’m sure other people have their gripes, burning brands, resistance vs. the evil empire about Amazon, but so far, I do not.  I am basking in the warm creative glow, still shrouded in the innocence of a n00b.

Now I just gotta finish something! 🙂


Well, when we gripe, we get up early in the morning to do so.  Went to KDP this morning, and my opus is in draft version.  Any attempt to find out why results in failure.  Republish, and wait another twelve hours ….

Makes me want to join the Rebellion … really, it does!


Right, I know my dad’s lightsabre is in here somewhere …

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