Monday, January 30, 2012

Update

First up, I've completed this months task for write1sub1. I wrote a new short story entitled Jurors and have submitted it to Electric Spec.

For those who don't know, the W1S1 is an idea based on a piece of advice given by Ray Bradbury, which I will paraphrase. 'Write one story a week for a whole year and send each one to a magazine. Most of them will be rubbish, but you won't write 52 bad stories: it's impossible.'

In 2012 I've taken the monthly challenge as I know I won't be able to keep up with the weekly one and I'll keep you up to date with my progress.

In other news, I'm going to be interviewed on the radio, blogtalkradio to be more specific. The event takes place on 19th February at 6.30pm EST and the lady interviewing me will be Dolores DeGiacomo, a life coach based in New Jersey.

We will touch on my novel, but the interview will be about my life and how I've overcome the various disasters and problems that have stood in my way (and there have been more than a few). So to find out about about me and my past, this is the place to be. If you can't listen live, then there will be a podcast available afterwards, to which I shall point you, but you will listen to the broadcast, won't you. Yes? I knew I could rely on you all.

See you on Wednesday.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Fun

It's Friday (I keep typing Firday and correcting it), so it must be time for some fun.

First up is Oddbox. This week how not to spell Shcool...on the road outside a school, the cutest baby Aardvark you'll ever see, the grossology exhibition about farts & vomiting and what happens when you let a BBC reporter loose at a toy fair. Nice.

From elsewhere comes news that Canada has put its first man into space...albeit a lego one while in entertainment news, Star Wars has been remade...by amateurs. Fans have submitted their own versions of fifteen second chunks of the film and it's all been sifted and collated into a ripoff tribute to the original. Among the stars of this new version are various household pets

My favourite headline of the week from Newsbicuit: 'Maternity unit say staff shortage is causing a midwife crisis'. Second place goes to: 'Huge solar flares threaten Earth with 70s fashions'.

Picture time.








Finally, some fantastic 3D pavement art:


and see if you can spot the design error in this picture.


Th-th-th-th-that's all f-f-f-f-f-folks!!! Have a great weekend, and on Monday I shall tell you about my possible upcoming radio interview.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marketing And Overcoming The Fear Factor

When someone tells you your book needs to be publicised/advertised/marketed, what's your first reaction? Mine is, 'I don't want to get into people's faces with this or upset them'.

Over the past few months I've done a lot of thinking about advertising and come to the conclusion that there are two types of adverts. The first type tells you about the person/company, what they do/sell and where to contact them. It's not an in-your-face pressure sell or an ego-trip, just a note to remind you they exist.

The second type of advert threatens you with being ostracised from society if you don't buy this stuff or patronises you because you don't know about it. And if that's not enough, it goes on to say that ALL your friends will want one and you're odd/stupid/smelly if you don't get one too. It's what I normally think of as advertising, as it's the kind I see most often on TV, at the cinema, on hoardings or hear on the radio.

The first type is found in parish magazines and local papers and is the style of advert I run for my PC business. So, I thought, why not use that style for my books? Why not become a 'first' advertiser.

To that end I have placed an advert on the right for my latest novel, and the publishing co-operative it was issued through, as well as including a separate page on this blog.

If you don't buy the book it won't leave you an outcast or cause you to tumble headlong down the social ladder. Nor will the lack of a purchase reduce your IQ or cause you to suffer from BO or halitosis. It's not a threat of social exclusion, it's a note from me to you to let you know what I do.

If you're worried about 'marketing', then become a 'first' advertiser. Leave people a note on your blog, on a website or in the local paper. You don't have to become like Uriah Heep and be 'ever so 'umble', just be yourself.

Take the fear out of marketing. Leave a note.

Monday, January 23, 2012

WIP And An Award

I have been given an award: the Versatile Blogger Award.


It is with great pleasure that I accept the award for being a versatile blogger from Nick Wilford on his Scattergun Scribblings blog. I'd like to thank all those who made me what I am today...I'd like to but I won't, I'm mean and horrible like that.

As a recipient of that award I am duty bound to do the following:

1. In a post on your blog, nominate up to 15 fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.


Here are my nominees:
1. Caitlin at All about growing up and becoming a famous author. It makes me smile and gives me pause for thought.
2. Milo at In Media Res. For giving me a lot to think and laugh about, especially Coyote Cal.
3. Valentina at Letters from Valentina Hepburn. It's varied and interesting.
4. Lisa at Lisa Shafer: A Writer's Blog. This woman has me laughing out loud and her photostory competitions can be a hoot.
5. Nicole at Peace, Love, Nicole. For writing a life blog that is not only varied and entertaining, but also interesting and honest.
6. Ted at Ted Cross Blog. Not only an author but a diplomat. His stories about his travels around the world are fascinating to read as are his pieces on his writing.

I now have to give you seven random pieces of information about me:
1. My kids call me Baldatron. A confluence of having a bald patch and them watching Transformers far too often for my own good.
2. I HATE music in shops and eating places. It's way too loud and instrusive.
3. I graduated from University at the age of 34 with a degree in History and German language, then used that to get a job as a computer programmer.
4. I used to collect compliment slips.
5. One of my dreams is to have my own library.
6. I home educated my two eldest children through their teenage years.
7. I love baking cakes as I get to eat the leftover raw cake mixture, and there's always lots leftover as I seem to make too much each time. I also eat raw pastry.

Well, aside from telling the nominees, that's my award speech completed. Now, on with the play.

------------------------------------------------------------

I haven't come up with a title for this play yet, so I'm open to suggestions. You can read scene 1 if you want to get in the mood.

Scene 2

Margaret and the girls enter stage right.

Elena: My feet hurt

Elizabeth: Stop complaining.

Margaret: We're here. The village is just beyond the edge of the forest. We should start seeing people now.

Elena: I'm hungry. We haven't eaten for three days.

Margaret: We ate this morning.

Elena: Not much.

Elizabeth: Would you rather be back at home, well fed and dead?

Elena: No

Elizabeth: Then stop complaining.

Elena: But I'm...

Margaret: Stop it, both of you. (She beckons them close and hugs them) That village isn't our home anymore, this one is and we're nearly there. Elena, your grandfather will give you some food and somewhere to rest. And both of you: we'll start anew here.

Elizabeth: What if grandfather's dead?

Margaret: He wasn't last time I heard news from the village.

Elena: That was when I was born.

Elizabeth: That was a long time ago, mother. He may not...

Margaret: STOP IT! There's nowhere else for us to go. IF he's not alive, then I don't know what we'll do. I'll have to find somewhere for us to work. I don't know everything I'm just doing my best.

The girls hug their mother and together say, Sorry.

As they stand there a man walks on from stage left.

Man: And who would you three be?

The three of them turn round to face the man.

Margaret: My name is Margaret and these are my daughters Elizabeth and Elena. We've come to see my father, Harold Blackman. He is, was, the local blacksmith.

Man: Harold. I take it you're his daughter. You left some years ago to marry a man called...what was his name...Peter?

Margaret: Philip. Philip Thompson.

Man: Ah yes. You were his only daughter. His only child. And you left him.

Margaret: You look familiar.

Man: Older certainly, but I don't think I was familiar.

Margaret: Albert? Albert Potter?

Man: No. That was my elder brother.

Margaret: Oh. Does he still live here?

Man: In a way. We buried him four years ago. You can visit his grave in the churchyard if you want.

Margaret: I'm sorry to hear that.

Man: He wasn't best pleased when you moved away. He wanted you for his own.

Margaret: I know, but I wasn't...

Man: You didn't want to marry a lowly farmer.

Margaret: No, I...

Elena: Is my grandfather alive?

pause

Man: No. He died nearly ten years ago. His apprentice took over the smith. He may still have some of your father's things, but I doubt it. (He starts to walk off, stage left, then stops) A lot of people remember what you did Margaret. Without your father here, you may find it difficult to find anyone to take you in.

exit stage left

Elizabeth: Mother. What do we do?

Margaret: We carry on. What else can we do?

Elena: But mother?

Margaret: But what? Do we have another choice? Do you know somewhere else we can go? (pause) Let's hope that he was wrong about the village. Let's hope that someone will help us.

they exit stage left

------------------------------------------------------------

As always comments are welcome. I have a few ideas to improve the scene which I'm working on, but would appreciate any input you can give.

Have a good start to the week, and I'll see you on Wednesday.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Fun

First up is oddbox. This week, snow in the Sahara, a breakdancing bricklayer and an ice sculpture competition in Moscow.

From elsewhere on the BBC, there's news that Ancient Peruvians ate popcorn and some amazing 3D pictures of the Earth.

From the blogshpere, my favourite blog of the week comes from 'Chandara Writes' and has some spectacular space photos.

Two other blog entries gave me pause for thought this week. One, from 'Say This Write', is about pointing the finger at others, while the other comes from 'Saucy Lucy Wisdom' where she writes about encouragement.

Picture Time.









See you on Monday, where I shall be accepting an award and posting scene 2 of the play what I is writing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Write To Your Strengths

My last post garnered a couple of responses along the lines of 'I find description hard'. So do I, which is why I decided to write something that didn't require description in any detail.

If you find someting hard you have two options: practice or work around it. If description is hard for you, try scriptwriting. It's not as if there's no work around for scriptwriters. The BBC actively encourage people to send them scripts, especially unpublished and amateur writers. There are also a large number of production companies seeking out scripts for radio, television and film, which a Google search or flipping through the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook will find for you.

If scriptwriting isn't your preferred form of writing, then how about non-fiction. For all the acclaim Isaac Asimov won for his fiction, he made more money with his non-fiction work. Novelists can also be found writing non-fiction articles, and not always about writing. Douglas Adams, the creator of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, wrote extensively on new technolgy and ecology.

Another alternative is to work with another writer. If you're not good at description, but good with dialogue, why not write together? You could sharpen up their dialogue in the pieces they write and they can help you with the description.

In short, if you find an aspect of writing hard, there are more opportunities than you think to help you either overcome the deficiency or ignore it altogether.

Monday, January 16, 2012

WIP Update

A slightly different WIP update this Monday: I'm posting part of a play.

In the last writing update I gave two weeks ago, I mentioned a play. Well, here is the first scene for you to peruse and comment on.

*************************************

Offstage, men and women are shouting. 'Get them' 'over here' etc as they chase one woman and two teenage girls they've accused of murder.

Enter stage right, Margaret and her two daughters Elena and Elizabeth, who are the subject of this chase


Margaret: Over here girls. Now

They hide at the back of the stage and cover themselves with a large, dark cloth that Margaret is carrying. On comes a man, out of breath, talking to someone offstage.

Man: I'm sure they came this way.

Offstage: Can you see them?

Man: Not yet, but they've got to be here somewhere. (He continues searching while he and 'offstage' talk)

Offstage: Well if you can't see them, they can't have gone that way. There's no way they could've crossed that field that quickly.

Man: Listen, I saw...

Offstage: Look, we need to get to them. They killed Partridge and they couldn't have gone that way. We'd have seen them.

Man: (Sees the cloth at the back of the stage) What's this?

Offstage: A distant shout of 'Found them' followed by 'Come on Adam, someone's got them.'

Man: (Rushes off) Great. I haven't seen a hanging in years.

Offstage: We've got to have a trial first.

Man: (now offstage) That won't take long.

Long pause

Margaret: (slowly looks out from under the cloth) They're gone.

(All three stand up)

Elena: Why do they think we killed father?

Margaret: Because we're foreign.

Elizabeth: We're not foreign, we come from Cambridge.

Margaret: To these villagers, that makes us foreign. They don't like non-villagers. I warned your father but he wouldn't listen and look what's happened.

Elena: What do we do now?

Margaret: I don't know. But we have to get away from here.

Elena: Where to?

Margaret: (Thinks for a moment) To your grandfather's village. We'll be safe there.

Elena: But that's miles away.

Elizabeth: Then the sooner we start the better.

Elena: My feet hurt.

Elizabeth: If those men and women...

Elena: And children. I saw Samuel Parker in the mob.

Margaret: If anyone catches us, they'll kill us. They'll hang us. Sore feet or not, we have to go. Now.

exit stage left

*************************************

Any comments you'd like to make about this opening are VERY welcome, whether it be critical or praisworthy.

See you on Wednesday.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Fun

First up it's Oddbox. This week, no pants day, an ENORMOUS toy car track and surviving a bungee jump...when the string breaks...over the Zambezi...with Crocodiles in it. YIKES!

From elsewhere on the Beeb, the story of man's predictions made 100 years ago,some of which came true, not forgetting a new technology prize: $10m to invent a medical tricorder.

Picture Time







This young man can still smile, despite the problems.


Kinda puts the world in perspective.

And finally, Everytime I hear this song I think about sportspeople, CEO's and politicians.



Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Too Focused?

In the past three days I have updated/edited the first three chapters of my new novel. On top of that I have written the first scene and the outline of a play and the first chapter of another novel in a different style to the one I had origianlly planned. Is this distraction a good idea?

Yes. It gets it all out of my head and onto a page so I don't have to remember anything.

By writing all this stuff down, it has freed me from a lot of worry about those stories and ideas and left me to concentrate on the main task, which is writing the new novel. It's something I heartily recommend for anyone who suffers from this overload of ideas.

In the past I have written down all the comedy material I had swimming around my head for a standup routine (no I haven't performed it yet). In a folder on the shelf to my right are pieces of paper on which I've written ideas over the past ten years which I may well go back to at some point.

In short, don't worry about being distracted by other ideas, just write them down and get on with your WIP. There is such a thing as being too focused.

See you Friday.

Monday, January 09, 2012

WritingRaw

Not a WIP today, but an appeal.

WritingRaw.com is a writing website whose aim is 'to serve the literary community with the opportunity to have their work online and out in the world'. In the past year they have had several problems with a lack of material and the January issue wasn't emailed out for this reason.

Here's the email I and other subscribers received from them.

.........................

People would like to know what has happened to the January issue of WritingRaw.com. The answer is easy, but quite sad too. We did not get enough submissions to put together a new issue. Fiction-wise we did but there were only 6 poetry submissions, 2 for the contest, and some of the people who were doing columns were not able to do them for January. I am again lost on how to proceed with the site. Without submissions there is no point – unless I can figure out a way to redevelop the site into something that does not require submissions. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I believe in what we are doing, and believe in all of the authors who have appeared on WritingRaw.com, but it would seem that an online literary magazine just does not work. Am in the process of discovering how to continue with the material that I do have… Again, any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

.........................

I will be sending my feedback to them in the next day or so.

Sites like WritingRaw that do not charge for their content, or pay, are getting rarer, but without them new writers will find it harder to get 'out there'. If nothing else, they give the writer a feeling of hope that their writing isn't total rubbish.

Some sites will die out as part of natural wastage and this may be the case with WritingRaw, but as it is the site that has given me a column and published a short story for me I do feel an affinity to it.

Give it a look over, and see if it appeals to you. If not, tell them why. If it does, send them something.

See you on Wednesday.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Friday Fun

First up, an old favourite: Oddbox. This week, the best christmas present ever (I defy you not to weep), how to give CPR without kissing and an ice hotel.

Newsbiscuit has had some interesting stories over the past few weeks. From a writer's perspective the most grin-inducing was the number of da vinci code rippoffs would top 3 million in 2012. From the world of international relations, there are rumours that the axis of evil is to seek new members after a terrbile year.

Elsewhere, some good news when one Swedish woman found her ring after 15 years...attached to a carrot. There's also '100 things we didn't know until last year'. On the list is the snippet of information that the male water boatman insect sings with its penis.

Picture time.





And finally, one of the breatest versions of 'Rawhide' you'll ever hear performed by a Scottish band called 'The Chaps'. Sadly it wasn't a hit first time round, but deserved to be, so let's get this thing going viral.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

My Blogging Rules

As a writer I have some rules that I (almost) follow when writing my blog. Not for the sake of it, but because this is more than a personal diary, it's a focus on and promotion of my work as well.

Different writers will do different things with their blogs and this is NOT a critique of the way they do things, it is only what I do and why.

1. Always respond to comments. I think it's bad form when you have a 'professional' blog to not respond to every comment, even if it's just a thankyou. If I had over a hundred responses it may not be practical to respond to each one, (though I'd like the problem) but even so, thanking everyone for responding with a single comment at the end is not an unreasonable goal.

2. Be regular. Monday I give an update on my writing/acting/publishing. Wednesday is for tips/hints/ideas about writing. Friday is for fun and some random thoughts. I rarely post at the weekends, but when I do it's with something personal. I have some readers who only drop by on the day they're interested in, so keeping to that routine is helpful for them. It helps me too as I always know what I'm going to write about a couple of days in advance.

3. Keep it short. Although long blogs can be interesting, they can also be dull. I prefer to keep my entries shorter than I am so they are easy to read and, hopefully, to remember.

And that's it. Three guidelines to help me every week. Which has left me curious about your own guidelines.

Monday, January 02, 2012

And So It Begins

A New Year and a new novel, which I'm planning to launch in November.

I've been examining my writing style over the past few months and come to the conclusion that I don't write anything. Confused? Let me explain.

I don't write straight comedy, if that's not an oxymoron, but the novels aren't thrillers or SF/F either. They seem to be a mix of the three. While comedy novels have an element of the thriller about them (who did what to whom and why etc), they don't take the situation seriously, even when someone dies. I do tend to take it seriously, so it's not straightforward comedy writing.

Neither does my work come under the thriller heading as there is too much comedy in the writing (it makes me laugh anyway). There are also elements of SF and some fantasy too.

It's a bit like mixing Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Jim Butcher, with a dash Stephen Hunt, Gail Carriger and Douglas Adams mixed in...according to my rather large ego.

In effect I don't write anything as I am not classified. Certified maybe, but not classified. Is it arrogant to think I write my own genre? I aim my work at the SF/F Comedy market as that is the genre it fits in most easily, but I know in my heart that's not where it belongs.

Still, I have written the first draft of the first three chapters and it's looking good. 'What's it about' I hear you ask? As you ask so nicely I'll tell you.

Adam, a 700 year old wizard (give or take a few decades), knows that his replacement is due to arrive soon. It turns out to be a fourteen year old orphaned girl, who, depiste appearances, is quite willing to learn from Adam, especially as she likes his burgers. Every time a new wizard or witch comes along there are other wannabees ready to usurp the role and all have a perfect record of failure. Not that it stops them trying of course, and the current usurper has his sights set on world domination. First of all, he has to create an army of henchmen and women (no sex discrimination here), take control of Hitchin and avoid being arrested by the police for circulating fake Euros.

I have no idea what's going to happen as I haven't written it all yet, but Adam will win, the usurper will die and his henches will either die or be released from their magical bonds. Along the way there will be an unlikley heroine in the shape of a social worker called Carol and a likely villain in the shape of a social worker called Becky.

With that I wish you adieu and I shall see you on Wednesday.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Hope

It's 2012 which means a new year and a new hope for the future. To that end, here's a song that I play on my mp3 which made me cry recently as it accurately portrays my feelings towards my past and towards my future. I'd never felt that way before when listening to this song, though given the tears I've been crying over the last month or so, I can't say I'm surpised.



I'm not a fan of Geri Halliwell as a person or a singer, but she hit the mark with this song and I'm grateful for it and I'm glad I judged the song and not the singer.