No, really! Look! Mwah hahahargh!
Category Archives: About My Writing
If I reach a personal milestone in my own writing it goes under this category…
Well here’s a bit of a turn up, Few Are Chosen is featured on the Indie Book of the Day site. You can see it here for the rest of today (Pacific time, which is probably until about this time tomorrow) and you can see the permanent entry here. And they’ve also given me a lovely badge which I will put on my sidebar tomorrow – unfortunately I’m out tonight.
So there we are, do go and check out Indie Book of the Day because they are clearly people of astonishingly fine taste and good discernment. Phnark… OK so I nominated myself but hey. I’m still excited and for those of you who are authors, too, I’ll let you know what the blip in downloads looked like!
See the lovely seal for my blog!
And the lovely certificate. Weeeee! Happy dance.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have been nominated by the peerless Irish Farmarette a.k.a. Lorna Sixsmith, author of Would You Marry a Farmer, and general Irish mover and shaker, to answer four questions and introduce you to three more authors you might like. I have chosen people with new books due out or out not so long ago. I am particularly impressed that I have managed to pick an Englishman, a Welshman and a Scotsman after being nominated by an Irish woman. There has to be a good joke in there somewhere – but I’ve also added Yorkshire woman to liven things up. Kath won’t be able to answer the questions – because hers isn’t that kind of blog – but as I loved her book she gets a mention anyway. We go from rookie author to seasoned best seller and the stages in between with this lot via four of my favourite blogs.
Right, let’s get started. Here are my answers.
1. What are you working on?
Two things at the moment. First the final tweaks and polishes to the last two books in the K’Barthan Trilogy but also a completely new thing provisionally titled Space Dustmen. I also have a novel sketched out which needs writing up: Saving The World Is Not For Girls, so I’m tinkering with that, too.
However, my seems to require something totally new – and at the same time complicated perhaps it misses the sophistication of a world as fully developed as K’Barth was by the time I was done – and is being pretty insistent. So I suspect I will also trundle off into space with Driff and his fellow space refuse collectors. It’s all very strange but you know how it is, don’t fight it, go with the flow. So I am.
Yeh… that’s three things isn’t it and I said two. Well, I did tell you I couldn’t count.
2. How does your work differ from other stuff in your genre?
Sometimes I’m not sure it has a genre. Well it’s a bit of a mash up but so are a lot of things. It’s probably the only work of petrolpunk, mwah ha hhaargh! Yeh! I made up my own genre for it because I’m not full of myself or anything (snortle). I do tend to find that a line repeated in several reviews of Few Are Chosen, the first book in the K’Barthan Trilogy is, “there is nothing else like this book”. Which is kind of cool. But basically, it’s a humorous science fiction fantasy action adventure with romantic elements in books 2 and 4 – not squelchy bits romance, just a bit of snog action – but there is a love theme… and I’m digging a hole here. Stop.
3. Why do you write what you do?
Because I can’t help it. I know…. but that’s the truth.
4. How does your writing process work?
A very good question. Do you know, I’m not 100% certain. I build worlds in my brain. I always have, and once I’ve exorcised one onto paper I find others are quick to appear in its place. Hence the difficulty I mentioned with the what I’m working on question. I’ve dumped K’Barth for now, so I contain the Huurg Quadrant along with the Threeps, their political and moral system and the viewpoint of a student in London. However, what was three lines of dialogue and a picture of an aeroplane is rapidly coming upon the rails and threatening to turn into my next book. Ahead of the one that’s pretty much already there.
Alright, seriously, the actual process? It goes like this:
- I have an idea. I hear a song or read a science article and that idea starts to ferment quietly in my mind.
- It gathers momentum and the idea becomes a little more than an idea. I start writing stuff down.
- The political system emerges. There is usually something standing in the hero or heroine’s way and it’s usually a slimy no-good politician.
- The characters begin to have names and personalities and I begin to understand the dynamics between them.
- I start to get the major scenes and I write them up.
- By this time, I’m absolutely agog to find out what happens next. So I start trying to work out how to connect them all together and why they connect. This is the point where there will be lots of angst filled posts on here if it goes wrong, because if it does, it’s like watching a film that’s really caught your interest and then, just as it gets exciting, being told that you won’t be able to find out what happens for 6 months.There is often a point, where I have to stop for some time, at about a third of the way in, to let the any plot problems my subconscious mind has forgotten to tell my conscious mind about to resolve themselves.Alternatively, I write several things different ways and end up having to bin about 80,000 words. I did that while writing One Man: No Plan and Looking For Trouble and binned at least 80,000 words; probably more in the region of 120,000. In short I have to sweat blood to whip it into some sort of shape – frankly it’s like having a terrible attack of
constipationer hem, I’m so sorry, “that bloated feeling”. You take some sennacot, sit down with a novel, heave and strain, go puce and then… There’s a bit of a Eureka moment, and, splash! It’s done.
OK now it’s time to single out three other
victi– lovely people to answer these questions. In no particular order, here they are:
Farmer, churchwarden, maverick.
That’s the best biog I’ve ever seen. But you may wish to know more, so here’s the longer version.
Jim Webster was born in Barrow in Furness on the 24th March 1956, the same day that Devon Loch fell at the Grand National and Dick Francis turned his attention to writing. With a teacher for a mother and a farmer for a father, Jim was thus able to read before going to school, could drive a tractor by the age of eight and was feeding calves somewhat earlier than that. Since then, he’s farmed, written freelance and acted as a consultant, sometimes managing to do all three in the same day. Jim is happily married since 1985; his wife Brenda and he have three daughters scattered about Northern England. He is immoderately proud of the fact that he has no CV, having been self-employed his entire life.
Jim writes a tip top blog about whatever pops into his head. His books are mostly fantasy, his current series based around the Land of the Three Seas, which are just ace. Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself here’s his amazon page.
However, Jim also writes science fiction and his first major release in this respect is Justice 4.1 the Tsarina Sector. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noticed he popped in here for a chat about it during his blog tour. Basically, I can’t give Jim enough plugs because I love his books. So do have a look next week to read his answers to the questions. Jim’s fantastic blog is here and the Tsarina Sector Facebook page is here. It’s also for sale on Amazon UK here and US here.
Will Macmillan Jones
Will Macmillan Jones lives in Wales, a lovely green verdant land with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by yelling loud encouragement at the TV when Wales plays international rugby. Having been an accountant for much of his working life, he now writes in a desperate attempt to avoid terminal atrophy of his brain. A fifty something lover of blues, rock and jazz, he has achieved a lifetime ambition by extending his bookcases to fill an entire wall of his home office.
Will is best known, or is he notorious, for authoring the renowned Banned Underground Series, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, myself – think Spike Milligan writes fantasy and you’re nearly there. However, he has recently unleashed his inner 8 year old with Snort and Wobbles which you can find on Amazon here or if you’re in the good ol U.S. of A, here. In addition, he writes horror. More on that story, soon but it’s not out yet so I have to keep it under my hat.
Will blogs about a whole plethora of vaguely connected stuff – rather the way I do – and you can find his blog here.
To quote his biography – Seumas Gallacher escaped from the world of finance five years ago, after a career spanning three continents and five decades.
As the self-professed ‘oldest computer Jurassic on the planet’ his headlong immersion into the dizzy world of eBook publishing opened his eyes, mind, and pleasure to the joys of self-publishing. As a former businessman, he rapidly understood the concept of a writer’s need to ‘build the platform’, and from a standing start began to develop a social networking outreach, which now tops 15,000 direct contacts.
He writes crime thrillers and the first two, the Violin Man’s Legacy and Vengeance Wears Black are impressively big hitters with more than 75,000 downloads to date. This, he tells us cheerfully, “blew his mind”. He released the third in what has become the ‘Jack Calder’ series, Savage Payback, late in 2013 and is working on the fourth, Killer City.
His blog is an absolute hoot and I highly recommend it. As well as being funny it’s wise, witty and peppered with some very pointy-brained advice. And it’s also written the way he talks, which is in Rab C Nesbitt-ese because he’s from Govan. You can find Savage Payback on Amazon here and on the US store here. Seumas has just released a book of advice; Self Publishing Steps to Successful Sales, which explains how he went from net virgin to social media guru and seller of many thousands of ebooks in double quick time. You can find his blog with information about the rest of his books and links to buy them, too here.
Kath Middleton – KATH ok, Googlebots? Not Kate.
Epic reviewer, kicker of monumental butt for quality independent fiction and now author in her own right. Kath is an Amazon top 1,000 reviewer, chicken mother, stone polisher and gardener she even breeds tomatoes…. oh yeh, and she writes books.
Seriously, I kid you not there’s not much she doesn’t do. Her official biography goes like this:
Kath Middleton is no stranger to the writing world, having had several of her short stories published in anthologies and many of her drabbles published online and in ‘Beyond 100 Drabbles’, a collaborative book alongside author Jonathan Hill. ‘Ravenfold’ is Kath’s first foray into longer fiction, a book which she describes as mediaeval noir. Her many hobbies and interests include reading, gardening, geology, archaeology, patchwork and quilting, and keeping chickens. And, of course, she continues to write. Watch this space!
In the few moments of spare time she has, she also keeps a blog, Ignite Books where you can find out what she’s reading. She has an eye for a good book which is handy. She won’t be able to answer the questions because she doesn’t write that kind of blog but I’m nominating her anyway because I want to give her book a plug.
Kath’s book is Ravenfold is the story of Fourteen year old Romelda Bolt who lives at a time when a woman is a man’s property. Her parents, promised wealth by a local lord three times her age, marry her off. A brutal and bullying relationship is born…
— Caveat, the whole point to the less is more bit of this post was that the prop under discussion was the one used in the actual series of Dr Who. It wasn’t. It was built by a fan. Looking at the equipment available to the BBC props department and a chap in a shed, the whole perspective suddenly changes. Basically, a 19 year old lad has made something, himself, that I thought was an actual BBC prop. So it’s more on the freaking awesome level than what I call it. So what I say about attention to detail still stands but actually, the example might just as well be made up. So there you are. Check your facts. All of them. Even the ones you don’t even realise need checking. —
This week has been half term so all meaningful work on K’Barthan things has dropped in favour of doing stuff with the ankle biter. We went to a sci-fi exhibition at the local museum, great fun, and opened with a host of look a likes, Dr Who, Darth Vader, a rather handsome jedi knight, a cyberman, Boba Fett and McMini was pictured with all of them.
Inside the exibition they had the actual control console from the Tardis. There have been several, anyone with kids who remembers the beebatron on CBeebies, or who has subsequently seen Cari and David’s Pop Shop will know what happened to the one out of the 5th Doctor’s Tardis. The one in the exhibition was the current one. Here it is. So what do you notice?
That’s right. It’s really shit. And close up, it looks like this?
So this is what amazed me; the difference between the way it appears on film and the way it looks close up.
On film: slick, sparkly and kind of steam punk with all that shiny brass and bits of 1960s telephones. Of solid, robust and more to the point cool.
Close up: shit.
And here’s the magic.
It doesn’t matter how hit looks close up because, it’s designed to be seen on film and the minute I take a picture it ceases to become a load of old tut and turns into to something else.
And what does this have to do with writing?
Well, my point is this. It’s easy to get hung up on world building and character back story when you write spec-fic. But what this teaches me, at any rate, is that the trick is not so much what you put in as what you leave out.
Yes, the Tardis Control Console looks terrible to the naked eye but on TV it looks bloody brilliant. Sometimes, less, or a hint, is more and the reader – or viewer’s – imagination does the rest. The secret is selecting the trigger details, the odd snippet here and there which people reading it will embellish for themselves. The real Gods are the writers who do that in a way that will have every reader seeing the same picture.
As the length of time between releases deepens I always begin to get twitchy. As I face the fact that K’Barthan 3 will not be out for Christmas, indeed, is unlikely to be out by Christmas NEXT year, I am close to a major freak.
Reading this and the reblogged post it contained made me feel better. Hats off to Mr Vernon for sharing some heartening stats and some sage advice. I may put the brakes on and start writing other stuff alongside my big stuff. Because I’m not really a one trick pony, which is one of the things that is making it so hard.
And on the back of that, this one, too…. Bottom-Dwelling E-book Authors RISE UP!!!. Oh how I aspire to sales like Frank’s.
So at last I’ve got the message. And the message is: chill. Quite easy that, today, here. It’s brass monkey’s.*
Sorry everyone, but One Man: No Plan is not going to happen in a hurry. But that’s because I want it to be good. And I’m sure both of you (and the dog) would rather wait and read something that’s the best thing I can write, rather than the quickest.
Yeh, I’ve just binned an entire plotline: 50,000 words, which is what I mean about it taking a while. Phnark.
Onwards and upwards.
* Yeh, I know, it looks odd but that apostrophe is right because the full phrase is cold enough to freeze a brass monkey’s balls off.
Am I going to eat it? You bet your arse I am.
Few things are lovelier, fried, with onions, bacon, a little potato and a touch of garlic and pepper. It’s actually a bit of a tiddler, they usually grow to the sort of size that would dwarf the toaster there in the background. Today I found three young ones and a biggie that had been squashed. I’ll never eat them all so I left the rest and took a small one. The biggie had gone to spores and I’m hoping the small ones I left will get to do that as well.
It came from a National Trust property near here. I found one there a few years ago, too, in the middle of a beautifully manicured lawn… which was quite bizarre. This one was on the other side of the estate, in a field.
It’s always exciting, finding one of these.
Hello everyone, the peerless A.F.E. Smith has interviewed me, M. T. McGuire on her blog. It’s a bit like that radio show with the records only with books, phnark. So, if you want to have a look see it’s here.
I hope you enjoy it.
OK… a good week, a very good week.
Second, I went to two book club meetings for feedback recently. I was worried they wouldn’t like it especially as one group had been fairly forthright with a previous visiting author. I got some fantastic feedback. There was a consensus that older adults find my covers a bit YA but on the other hand, one of them, a Librarian, has said she will recommend it to all the teenage boys who come in.
What interested me, particularly, was getting a different view of the book from people who might not normally read it. Lots of food for thought. One highlight was a lady who openly admitted that she loathed this kind of thing and wouldn’t want to read the sequel but still gave it 7/10 because ‘it was very well written’. Another said that it was hard work reading Few Are Chosen because the chases were so exciting that she was literally out of breath.
And yeh, some of them even bought the book.
So am I chipper? Yes. I am.
I don’t know where to start this morning. Two cool things happened in one day on Sunday. Eee – fans hand in front of face – I’m all teary just thinking about it. The thing is, they’re so different I don’t know how to marry them up into a coherent blog post. Never mind. When have I ever let that sort of thing stop me? Exactly. So here goes.
First up, The Wrong Stuff has won an award and trust me, nobody is more surprised than me. As you can see I’m proudly displaying my new badge from Indie Book Bargains in my widgety bit. Please do have a look at the site or click here, and scroll down… a bit more… a little bit further ….annnnd there!
That’s all I can say.
OK that’s the authory gubbins done… now here’s another important thing. Remember this post yep, that’s right, the cheery one. A few days after writing that I found out that one of my friends from school had had a heart attack and was in hospital in a coma – because life is always absolutely brilliant, around Christmas, isn’t it? The prognosis was not rosy although his Mum was convinced that he was going to make it and I have to confess that once I saw him, so was I. He is the most bloody-minded, pig headed person I know. Apart from me. I haven’t seen him for ages but he’s one of those people where that doesn’t really matter. My parents and I consider him pretty much family so I nipped home last weekend to say hello.
He’d made it to high dependency by that time and although he’d had a crap day the day before he was able to focus, communicate with blinks and he also managed the ghost of a smile and an eye roll when I told him he was the only person I know who is pig-headed enough to get better. He also managed an eye roll when I asked him if he wanted me to carry on holding his hand, seeing as my hands were disgustingly sweaty and covered in that gloop they make you put on them at the door (he blinked me a ‘no’ unsurprisingly). I left him some snurd cards – not that I’m an egomaniac or anything but actually, he’s a massive petrol head so he might like then.
Anyway come Sunday and his sister posts his picture on Facebook. He is sitting up, holding his head up and looking very lugubrious but also very much himself. Whatever the brain damage is, and we don’t really know yet, his intellect and personality are clearly undamaged. I would post the photo but he’ll fucking kill me when he gets better.
The link to writing…? Not a huge one, just that my current work in progress is not going well. In fact, it’s like pushing a giant rock up a hill but at the same time, while my normal cure for this would be to write something else, I can’t seem to leave this one alone. I suppose, when you know what you want to achieve, the steps towards it can seem very small and the goal a long way away. Perhaps the secret of attaining a difficult goal is not to evaluate your progress too often, or at least, if you do to look at how far you’ve travelled rather than the distance you have to go.
Over the past few weeks, it’s been hard to write in quantity because I’ve been worrying about people. And that’s fine. But it has occurred to me there are a lot of them in my life, right now, with much heavier rocks and much steeper hills than me. OR to put it another way, think I should really stop fannying around, get my finger out of my arse, and just write the bloody book.