Saturday, July 12, 2014

Holidays

This is the week every year when my wife and sons go away with the inlaws and I have the house to myself. As has been the case for the last few years, this means some dedicated writing time, and today didn't disappoint. I've been beavering away at the latest draft of Shamblers for the past six months, and for a while there I was hooting along and it looked like I'd be ready for submission in no time at all. Then I hit a wall and for the past few weeks I haven't been able to get myself back into it again. Thankfully today I knocked off two chapters and that takes me to the half way point of the book. Tomorrow I'm hoping to do another and at least four or five more before the family comes back on Friday.

Part of the reason I've been a bit slack the past few weeks is I've been reading Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori Book 0 (yes, it's the prequel), Heaven's Net is Wide. I actually bought the book years ago for half price when Border's closed, but something about its sheer size and the fact it was in the literature section put me off trying it out until now. And I have to say, in the words of the young folk of today, it's simply awesome. Easy to read, difficult to put down, beautifully written all the way through. After a few duds on my reading list lately it's great to find that unexpected gem, even if it has seriously dented my writing time. At least I have a little extra time this week to catch up.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Time for a Jolly Good Moan.

Goodreads have this great idea where authors can list their books as free giveaways and people can vie to get copies. The idea is that authors submit their books in the hope they might raise awareness of their work and also garner a few more reviews than they might otherwise get. I've been involved in two giveaways now, one for Jeweller and one for Ghost of Ping-Ling. In both cases I sent out three copies of the books to various locations around Australia and New Zealand. For the mathematically inclined, that's six books.

Alas, my efforts have only garnered a grand total of one review, which is disappointing because Goodreads stipulates that by entering one of these giveaways you agree to write a review. We authors might be a generous lot but the reason we're willing to pay to send out books all over the place is not simply to give people something to read on a wet afternoon. We want reviews! We want feedback!

And yes, even bad feedback will do. Weird as this might sound, and I think I probably speak for most writers when I say this: our nightmare is not having people read our books and hate them. Our nightmare is having nobody read them at all. That's why we happily send out free copies of our books.  

So if you happen to be reading this and you were one of the beneficiaries of my giveaways, please, please, please take the time to read what you were sent, and even if you don't want to write an actual review you can at least give a star rating. I would really appreciate it. And no, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty. Actually, I am trying to make you feel guilty! Very, very guilty. I fear the only thing you can do to assuage such terrible guilt is scurry off and get reading and reviewing. Immediately!

And if you're reading this and you weren't the recipient of one of the giveaways, maybe you should have been! That's not to say you can't still do me a huge favour and give me a review. You can sign up on www.goodreads.com and do the deed. Go on, it'll make all of us feel good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Feelin' Philosophical

Well the dust has settled, the books are published, and in many ways I'm back where I was four years ago, trying to scrape together a novel and hoping it'll be good enough to get accepted. It's funny how the whole giddy ride of editing manuscripts and signing books and speaking at conferences seems like a distant memory, perhaps even a dream I had once that blurred into reality. At least I can look up at the books on my shelf and know it was real. 

And the writing goes on. I'm about to hit 50K words on the first draft of the new project. I've even managed to con a couple of beta readers into taking a look at it for me when it's ready. I'm happy to report that the excitement is still there, that wonderful feeling you get when you see a story begin to move beyond a few notes on a page into a living, breathing entity, with a life well beyond what you had originally envisioned. I'm looking forward to seeing where it ends up over the next few months.

It has zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.

But not quite how you're used to seeing them.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Plot Thickens

I'm in the middle of plotting a new story at the moment, using a whiteboard and notebook. I bought the whiteboard about two years ago exactly for this purpose, but so far the only people who've used it are my three sons, mostly to surreptitiously write rude words on when nobody's looking. I can't believe how useful it is to be able to set out ideas and sit back and look at them on a board, as well as to be able to easily rub them out and write new thoughts in. It gives a sort of bird's eye view in a way that staring at a page doesn't (for some reason).

So now I have the first germs of an outline. My next step is do something potentially a bit odd. At some point in the past I read some advice that went along the lines of this: if your story isn't worth telling in a pub, it's not worth telling. And no, the next stage in my plotting process isn't me going to the local pub and boring people senseless with my outline (although the idea is tempting). Instead, what I'll do is tell myself the story, out loud, as I would if I were in a pub, or around a camp fire, or wherever. I haven't done it yet, but I suspect it will be a useful exercise in testing the flow of events and the level of tension as the story progresses. If it's not, I've learned a lesson and nothing's been lost.

So if you live in Adelaide and you see someone driving down the road in the next few days talking to himself in an animated manner, with no blue-tooth headset in existence, it could be me. Please feel free to wave, and to offer any plot advice you may happen to have up your sleeve.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Not Dead Yet

Well my golly gosh it's been a while. So much for the New Year's resolution to be more consistent here and so forth. Anyway, here I am again as another year grinds rapidly to its conclusion.

And it's certainly been a busy one. By my count I've written two first draft's of two separate novels, plus 20,000 words of another, as well as 2 junior novels at 7,000 words each. None of them are finished, and I won't be submitting any of them anytime soon. Instead I'm busily plotting yet another story, which I'm hoping to be substantially into by Christmas.

Why so many different stories? It probably has something to do with the fact I have difficulty making my mind up. Or do I? No, maybe I don't. No, scratch that, I think I probably do. It also has something to do with the fact that the second book or series an author publishes is fairly important in the scheme of things for cementing a readership and a "brand", and to be honest I'm still trying to work out exactly what that brand is.

That's not to say all those other stories are wasted. At least one of them will be revisited in coming years, and elements from the others might turn up in one form or another. And even if I never use any of it, there's nothing like writing thousands of words for polishing up your craft.

And speaking of craft, I stumbled across (Ha! Not really, I found it by obsessively searching on Google) this excellent review of Jeweller of Rassylon this morning. There's nothing quite as gratifying for an author as when a reviewer 'gets' your story, as this lovely person certainly has.

Enjoy, and I hope it won't be months before I post another update.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Time is Ticking Away .... Tick Tick Ticking Away....

There's only about 7 hours left in the Jeweller of Rassylon giveaway (see widget on the right hand side of this blog). If you live in Australia and you haven't entered, you best get in fast (as the sales people say: "Hurry! Time is running out!").

I thought I should briefly explain why the giveaway is only for people in Australia. My aim in doing a giveaway is to raise a little bit of awareness of the book, but seeing as at this stage the book is only available in Australia in New Zealand, it seemed sensible to focus on that market only. And yes, I forgot New Zealand. I went to add it afterwards but Goodreads said I would have to restart the giveaway and I didn't want to do that. Apologies to anyone over the Tasman who missed out. I promise next time to include you! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Video Interview

I did an interview on camera recently at Pegi Williams Bookshop. You can see it here if you're interested. I push waffling to new limits, but it's a neat summary of my process of getting Blue Jade into print. Thanks to Rebecca and James for inviting me to come.