Monday, January 31, 2011

Another Step On The Ladder

Short post today, but a happy one.

I've had another short story published, this time in a different emagazine.

This year I set myself the goal of getting work, either fiction or book reviews, into another magazine aside from Hub. This was quicker than I expected.

It's available at Writing Raw.com and is called, 'It Can Be Done, It Should Be Done'.

Have a read and let me know what you think.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Q & A

More about me...OK so I'm being self-indulgent this week.


1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously so that you could be anonymous now?
Not anonymous and glad of it.
2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.
I'm not stubborn and you can't make me.
3. What do you really see when you look at yourself in the mirror?
A mental and emotional wreck who's trying to piece his real life together before leaping into another relationship...and slowly succeeding.
4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?
Tea. In fact, it's my favourite drink all year round. In the summer I like fruit teas more because they turn into fruit juice when they go cold.
5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Anything I want. Sit in silence, read, watch a DVD, let my body relax, play a PC game...anything that I'm in the mood for.
6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life?
Become a professional actor/comedian.
7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?
I was the quiet one that got bullied a lot and shrugged off by the teachers who told me that I need to toughen up.
8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?
A sunrise.
9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?
It's not easy, but I still do it. Good people will not object and thank me as it helps them. The idiots I just ignore.
10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
Read a book. I prefer to talk to people face to face, preferably over tea and biscuits.

I stole this from JJ in LA, who stole it from someone else, so feel free to steal it from me and let others steal it from you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

7 Random Facts About Me.

1. I have performed stand-up comedy. It was a long time ago and for a church function, but I was the only one brave enough (or stupid enough) to do it for the show. I was received with rapturous apathy and went off to rapturous applause. Lesson learned? Save your best jokes till last.

2. I can iron clothes: I just choose not to.

3. I hate wearing ties. Why does anyone choose to go out with a noose around their neck? The history of the tie is also quite interesting. It developed from the cravat which was a fashion style invented by the Prince Regent in the early 18th century. He developed it in order to hide his syphilis marks. Remember that the next time a vicar tells you you're under dressed.

4. My favourite sandwich is HP Sauce with Cheese and Onion Crisps.

5. I suffer from Asperger's Syndrome...or rather, everyone else suffers from my Asperger's Syndrome.

6. I used to be a member of Mensa. I only took the test in order to find out if I was 'clever'. It was a big boost for my morale.

7. I sung in a choir for two years as a first bass. In that time we performed for the public several times as well as the church.

Over to you fellow bloggers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

You Know You're A Real Writer When....

You can delete whole scenes and not worry about it. Or change the first chapter around, or change the order of chapters, or delete a well-crafted scene that you love.

You do these things because you know they are the right thing to do in order to tell your story.

This morning I had a brainwave about my WIP. I was having trouble with the sequence of events and then it dawned on me: the ending is near the beginning.

The big squaring up between the two main protagonists happens too early and should be at the end. It won't change the final two chapters, they haven't changed in anything I've done as they seem to be the best place to have them and the best way to end the book.

I now know (until the next revelation) that this showdown should not be the prelude to the second half of the book, but the final showdown itself. Then I can wrap things up in the last two chapters as intended. The showdown that is currently at the end can then be moved to where it more logically belongs: the middle.

It means rewriting parts of the book and changing the order of things, but that's what needs to be done.

Now I KNOW I'm a real writer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Uh-Oh


"A smart person learns from their mistakes. A wise person learns from the mistakes of others."

Some people, ah-herm, learn the hard way. Others don't. Over the past few years I've learned to watch and listen to the mistakes of others as well as their lessons.

For me, the biggest lesson of the past couple of years that I've gained from blogs, books and listening, is that there is no one way to write. Everyone has a different method, albeit there are similarities between some, and they are all correct for them.

What lessons have you learned from others?

(In case you're wondering, my method of writing can best be described in one word...chaos)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Take It Away

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

How much of what we write could be taken away from the story and still make sense? Probably quite a lot if the truth be told. It's why I like the writing of Mitch Albon.

I took a chance on one of his books last year and have not regretted it. They are sparsely written but have so much story in them. His sparse style is one that every writer could learn from.

How much of what we write should we take out? Having looked at the relative length of the chapters in my WIP, I have come to the conclusion that the first chapter is too long. This is something that is backed up by some comments received in feedback. Interestingly, I already know which bits can be cut out.

What of your WIP? What could you cut out, however well it's written, and the story still make sense?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quote...Unquote.

It's Monday, so here are a few quotes to start the week.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So does falling down the stairs.

Do one small thing immediately. Often that is all you need to get started.

Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer.

Some things are true whether you believe in them or not.

A person can fail many times, but they aren't a failure until they blame someone else.

And finally...

Whose fault is it that we have a blame culture?

See you on Wednesday.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Kind Of Book

A great book you read more than once
A good book you enjoy and learn from
A mediocre books leaves a taste
A bad book you don't even finish

Discuss.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Unexpected

Sometimes, the unexpected happens.

This afternoon I had a phone call from the BBC (yes THAT one). Would I take part in a radio show about how inflation is affecting people.

Why did they call me?

Four years ago I took part in a debate on home education on Radio 5 as I home-educated two of my children. As the reporter was leaving he asked if I would mind being on a list of people they could contact for any future home-ed slots, to which I agreed.

I hadn't heard any more from them until today.

Because of the change in my circumstances between then and now (they were looking for a family and I am now divorced) I won't be taking part. But they will keep my name and number for future reference for anything else that they feel I could contribute to.

The point of this? You never know where your contacts will lead you. A person you swap numbers with at a convention may call you in a few years time with a proposition. A relative may recommend you for doing some writing for the business they work for.

The unexpected can happen at any time.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pick Your Goals

All resolutions go through difficult patches. How we face those patches defines us and shows us what kind of people we are.

Like many people, I set myself the goal of writing every day, as well as several other goals. The only one I've kept up is writing, but I'm not disappointed. What I've learned, or re-learned in this case, is that it is unwise for me to start certain things at this time of year.

I get miserable in the British winter, partly due to the lack of sunlight, so trying to do anything is more difficult than normal. After the last of couple of years it's even harder.

Writing is, for me, as much a pleasure as a career, so it is not too difficult to get going. Exercise always reminds me of school PE lessons which were, for me, utterly humiliating. I have now remembered why I don't start exercising in the winter: bad memories and the winter.

So I have taken a realistic approach and ditched all the goals that I know I won't reach, put to one side the ones that I know I can reach later on in the year and focus on what I can do now.

The result is better writing and more goals met.

I've planned the year ahead with more care.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Hard Work?

Chapters 1-4 have been sent out for review and chapter 5 is underway.

I have more to do on chapter 5 than I realised. I left it in a draft format with a rough idea of what the chapter's about and some introductory text. I've pulled it to the halfway point and have had an uptight historian collapse to the floor because of a muscle relaxant after being told she has a daughter.

I'd forgotten how much fun writing can be if I let it.

Too often I read blogs about the hard work that goes into writing. Yet what they're really talking about is the hard work that goes into getting published. Writing itself, like any other job, is only a chore if you don't like doing it.

Let's face it, who would seriously choose to be a writer unless they enjoy it. The pay's lousy even if you get paid at all. As for the hours....

I'm writing because I enjoy it. I write in a style I like and the stories I like. I will hone and craft them until they are publishable and will accept all critiques that help, but this isn't hard work. It's enjoyable work that I want to succeed at...even if it kills me.

I've also started writing down the comedy routines that have been flashing around in my head for the last few years. No doubt, some will turn out to be awful, but there are some gems in there. Enough to build a 20 minute routine? Probably not, but I have at least taken a step towards another goal.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

So Far....

I remember reading a prayer years ago that went something like this.

Dear God. So far today I have not insulted anyone, lied to anyone, cursed or used your name in vain. I haven't coveted anyone's possessions or disrespected my parents. However, I'm about to get out of bed and will need your help for the rest of the day.

That's how I feel half way through the first week of the year.

Moving on, it's been a busy, but productive, day so far. I've continued with my goal of reading one B.E. per week and am achieving it with time to spare. I've also reread three chapters of my novel and done some basic editing of them, chapter 4 will follow later.

As I have all three boys with me at the moment I've also taught my middle child the basics of computer programming as part of his home education. The youngest is off school (suffering from new-year-itis), so is at home and the eldest doesn't restart college until Friday.

I have also written some more comedy outlines in my S.U.B. and have starting plotting out a video for a song. It's something I have been considering for a while and have decided that I'd better get on with it. I shall be doing all the drawings myself for this, so I have no idea how well it will turn out.

After I have edited chapter 4, I intend to send it out for critique to my writing circle and get some feedback. Whilst they are looking at it, I'll get on with chapters 5 & 6. When I get to 7, I'll be writing it from scratch, but I will have got some momentum going.

Happy writing, happy living.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Starting Again

Another new year, another new chance. That's what we always say.

In reality, every day is a new chance to start again. The advantage of a new year is that we get a new calendar a new diary and, after christmas, some new things, all of which scream at us that there is something different this time.

We've had a long holiday, a time with friends and family and we're refreshed...well kind of. The end of year holiday is like a long sleep at the end of a hard week, one we all need.

It's the first Monday of the year and I have kept four promises to myself:
- Blog on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
- Start on a comedy book for a stand up routine
- Continue with the novel
- Make a list of things to do
I've also done some physical exercise and will try to continue to do so.

Time will tell if I can keep this up.

The future beckons and the past is unchangeable, set in stone. To that end I'm reminded of a song by OMD called Walking On The Milky Way, especially the lines about the past:

As time goes by reality
Destroys your hope and dignity
There's nothing left but shadows on the wall
But just remember who you are
And where you've been you've come so far
And never ever let them see you fall
I don't believe in miracles
I don't believe in truth
I don't believe that anything can recreate your youth


We're starting again every day. Let the future commence.

OMD: Walking On The Milky Way

Steve | Myspace Video