Friday, September 19, 2014

Where Do You Find Your Ideas?



 
 
I was browsing the internet the other day, and saw this interesting article regarding the generation of ideas and how to get them out of your head and down on paper. I found what it had to say quite intriguing.

See what you think about some of the suggestions:
 
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By far the most common question asked of professional writers is where they get their ideas. We all like to think that brilliant, fully-formed story ideas just pop into the heads of our favorite authors. We imagine that if we could somehow learn their secret technique then we too could crank out bestsellers as effortlessly as they seem to.
The truth is that you have more great ideas than you could ever write. Really, you do! The problem isn't a lack of great ideas; it's that you haven't been taught how to free these ideas from your brain.
 
Where to Start?
Every how-to book on writing will tell you that you need to start with a solid premise, or story idea. What they rarely tell you is where this idea comes from in the first place. This is the cause of great frustration and confusion in beginning writers and has helped create the myth that you either have great story ideas or you don't. The core of this confusion is in the mistaken belief that the creation of a solid story idea is an event rather than a process.
Beginning writers believe that creating a work of fiction starts with a single event - a sudden burst of inspiration that pops a fully-formed story idea into their minds. This single event then leads to the process of expanding that idea into a finished work. The truth is that coming up with a full, rich story idea is itself a process. Knowing this is the key to generating more ideas than you could ever use.
The Secret to Endless Ideas
The secret to generating ideas is the same "secret" that solves every writing problem: writing itself. The old adage that "writers write" is true in many ways, and none more so than in idea generation. Sitting in front of a blank page and waiting for inspiration to strike is not a recipe for success as a professional writer. Great ideas come from the act of writing.
 
 
But if you don't yet have that great story idea, what do you write about? The truth is once you free yourself from the concept of story ideation as an event, and start to think of it as a process you'll be amazed at how much there is to write about.
You actually need very little inspiration to start writing. You can and should start with almost anything that you find interesting. Maybe it's a location that fascinates you, a character sketch, a clever
line of dialogue, or even a great title.
As a writer you will start to collect these story nuggets as you go through your daily life. You'll begin to notice when something you see or hear gives you that little tingle in the back of your brain that says there's something there worth exploring. Pay attention to this and jot it down in your notebook - you do have a notebook, right?
When you later sit down to write, start with these nuggets. Just pick one and begin writing about it - what it makes you think of, how it makes you feel, what questions it raises. And write fast. One of the keys to idea generation (and writing in general) is to write as quickly as you can. You don't want to analyze anything yet. You want a volume of words on the page.
If you find yourself writing about something completely different from the nugget you started with, just go with it. The idea is not to stress about structure, not to analyze where the story is going, not even to think about it as a story yet. You want volume, varied thoughts, and a wealth of possibilities. Don't make any decisions; just stay open and receptive to whatever comes. You will be amazed at what's in your brain just waiting to spill out onto the page.
How it Works
This process of starting with story nuggets and expanding them is the core of story idea generation. As you explore your story nuggets, start to ask questions and follow your answers wherever they lead. Do not try to force your thoughts into a story yet. Keep things loose and continue asking and answering questions. Feel free to backtrack and choose different answers.
And remember to write a lot. Volume is your friend. Ask a question, answer it, repeat. Keep at it for a few sessions and you will be amazed at the material you'll generate.
From these explorations a story idea will effortlessly begin to form - it always does. Your brain loves to put things in order, to relate one thing to another, and to do so in interesting and surprising ways. Your mind will simply not allow you to continue to think about this much story data without ordering it into something understandable. It's like magic when it happens, and it happens every single time.
By feeding your brain a fertile mountain of images, characters and possibilities it goes to work trying to make sense of it all. This process is the truth of where great story ideas come from.
A Bottomless Well of Ideas
You will probably find yourself coming up with multiple story ideas based on the same initial nugget. Great! Choose one idea to work on and work on it until it's done. File the others for later use.
When the pros say they have more ideas than they could ever work on in a lifetime they aren't showing off (well, maybe a little), it's simply that the process of working on one idea always creates new ideas.
That's the secret to a lifetime of story ideas. Collect story nuggets from your daily life, expand them into fertile story worlds, and then condense those worlds down to beautiful, rich story ideas worth writing about.
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There you go.
I don’t know about you, but I found the idea about writing fast quite radical. Don’t get me wrong, I like to generate volume, but, I’m also quite an analytical person who keeps checking his work a lot. I tend to skim through the paragraph I’ve just completed, to see if it flows and blends with what’s gone before. And I also tend to look for repeated words. I can’t help it. But that’s me.
Perhaps I’ll try to adjust my approach in that area, and leave the checks until it comes to the chapter check.
What about you?
 
 

 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Cambion Journals
Kiss of the Succubus

 
Having survived the double-cross planned by Samael, the demon king, and Fanon, his own spawn-father, Augustus Thorne is trying to come to terms with his lot in life. Both Fanon and Agamemnon lay dead. And good riddance! But the only woman Augustus has ever loved in his long and lonely life is gone–driven away by the very real dangers his lifestyle brings.
However, Augustus doesn’t have the luxury of dwelling on what might have been. An insidious new threat has emerged, one that exposes humanity to a danger, the likes of which they have never faced before. 
Surprisingly, Augustus discovers he doesn’t have to face this threat alone. Quite by chance, he stumbles upon a mysterious woman. Someone who appears to be the only other Cambion he has ever met?
Has he found a true soul mate at last? Or is she too good to be true?
Are other players involved who would still like to see Augustus Thorne dead? If so, what’s the connection?
Find out for yourselves as the story continues in:
 
The Cambion Journals–Kiss of the Succubus.

The Cambion Journals

Rage of Augustus

 
They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
Whoever they are, they’ve never met Augustus Thorne.
Born a Cambion—half-demon, half-human—and cursed with a terrible hunger he can barely control, Augustus spends his long and lonely life hunting and exterminating any Incubi and Succubae he can find. But no matter how many he destroys, he can always find room for one more. Especially if it’s the foul scum who raped his mother, Augustus’s own father, Fanon.
Driven by rage, his quest leads Augustus through the centuries and around the world until fate suddenly hands him his heart’s desire.
But things are not as they appear and the revelations Augustus uncovers are mind boggling. When he finally corners his father in London, events take an unexpected twist.
 Is revenge served upon a bed of scalding rage?
Discover the awful truth for yourselves in...
Book One of the Cambion Journals: the Rage of Augustus.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Do You Plan Ahead With Success in Mind?

 
I discovered an interesting article the other day about overcoming hurdles before you allow them to become a problem. That’s important, especially for a writer. If you wish to pursue a successful career, you have to approach your work with a very specific focus.
Look how this is highlighted in the information below:
The First Stumbling Block: Direction
In order to actually make this pursuit successful, you need to have remarkable clarity in two areas:
  1. You need to know your No End Path. This involves your passion, your unique gifts to the world and who you wish to serve.
  2. You need to know your message. Without a clear, concise message you’ll struggle to set yourself apart from the masses.
  3. You need to know with absolute certainty that the path you’re on is the right one for you.
Without a focused direction for your work, you’ll end up spinning your wheels. You need to know with absolute certainty that the path your on is the right one for you.
Your message is the fuel behind what you do; it’s a rallying cry for your tribe. It gets you excited, it’s magnetic and it attracts the right type of person.
These two things are critical to your success. When they work together, a beautiful symphony of passion and focus is composed.
If you don’t have this part nailed down, it’s easy to run in circles, stuck on a road to nowhere, never making any real progress with your business. Trailblazer solves that problem by giving you complete certainty in your idea before you start with a comprehensive idea-testing scorecard.
The Second Roadblock: The Roadmap
Direction without a well-illustrated map for how to get there is useless. When you’re clear about your world-changing idea, you need a structured plan to help you implement it.
You need to put a foundation under your castle in the sky. You need a practical strategy to accomplish your vision.
Mission One
Find your passion and your winning idea
  • You’ll find the match between what you love to do and how you can serve the world.
  • Craft a rocket-fueled message that propels you forward and attracts your ideal customer.
  • Identify your unique genius that gives you incredible leverage.
  • Test your idea with a proven scorecard that gives you confirmation on whether your passion is a deep-rooted interest and whether or not it can actually make money.
Mission Two
You’ll identify a clear outcome with your offer that makes people feel safe to invest.
  • Find the hidden desires that make your offer hard to refuse.
  • Create a comprehensive profile of the people that are actively seeking your “medicine” so they’re already receptive to your offer.
  • How to be confident in self-promotion without feeling like you’re selling out.
Mission Three
Build your tribe
  • Learn the #1 strategy for building your audience rapidly.
  • How to warm people up and get them to become loyal fans of your content.
  • Creating authority so you cultivate a high level of trust with your audience.
  • How to position yourself as a leader in your niche.
  • Follow along with a case study about how one Trailblazer built an email list of 1,000 people in just a week.
Mission Four
Verify the need
  • How to know exactly what your customer needs before you create something.
  • Setting up a feedback loop so you have an eerily accurate connection with what your people want.
  • Seeing the patterns in what people say and identifying their hidden desires that they’ll never admit but are critical for your positioning.
  • Identify an outcome that gets them to see a bigger vision than they thought was possible.
Mission Five
Crafting your product vision
  • A proven blueprint for creating a compelling product that gets people to buy (you can use this with every product or service you create).
  • A simple and painless method for outlining your product/service and creating it quickly with high quality.
  • How to easily create a sales page that isn’t cheesy and that your customer actually wants to read.
  • Productivity methods for staying on track while you build your empire.
Mission Six
The invisible launch
  • Learn to create marketing that’s so effective people never even feel like they’ve been sold to.
  • How to seed your audience so that they’re primed to invest with you long before you ever direct them to your landing page.
  • Drawing in your customers to your product narrative so that they’re anticipating your release (and refreshing the sales page waiting for it to become available to buy).
  • The one thing you can do to ensure that every product or service you create is successful.
  • Releasing your offer in a way that automatically sets you up for success with your next launch.
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So, there you go - some interesting pointers that will help you focus on specific aspects to make your writing more successful.

I know what I need to work on. Do you?
 


Monday, August 25, 2014

Fallen Angels

Prize Pack Giveaway

 
Entries are now open for you to take part in the Giveaway Contest for the latest book in the Guardian Series - Fallen Angels.
 
Fallen Angels concludes the first trilogy, and contains a number of revelations, as well as a great deal of heartbreak.
 
If you would like an opportunity of receiving a free signed copy of Fallen Angels - together with all of the items shown in the picture above - just enter the competition.
 
To enter:
1. Message me on Facebook
2. Use the Rafflecopter option below
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck to everyone, and, click away :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Point of Interest

Recently, George R.R. Martin appeared with fellow fantasy author Robin Hobb at an event in London’s Freemasons’ Hall. With over 50 books between them, each has a distinctive approach to writing. I thought it would be a great idea to share some of the highlights from a question & answer session with you, as their answers provide some great pointers for new and aspiring writers.

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On their first stories.

“I never finished any of my early stories. They were all beginnings, an endless number of beginnings.” – George R.R. Martin
“I was dressed up as a witch for Halloween, and wanted to write a story about my black cat before I went out trick-or-treating. I think it went out with the trash the next day.” – Robin Hobb
“The best writing advice I had was in ‘Heinlein’s Rules for Writers’ by (American science fiction author) Robert A. Heinlein. His first rule is that you must write, and I was already doing that, but his second rule is, ‘You must finish what you write,’ and that had a big impact on me.” – George R.R. Martin
“I had these cheap alien toys and I made up stories for them. They were space pirates. They didn’t have names so I made up names. These were the first stories I wrote. Even as a little kid I was thinking about torture.” – George R.R. Martin

On childhood.

“We never went anywhere because we had no money and we had no car, but I would look out the living room window and see the lights of Staten Island. It was incredibly romantic to me, like Middle Earth. Of course, the danger is you eventually get to Staten Island.” – George R.R. Martin
“I began reading everything in the family library. Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe. And of course, if you’re running out of books to read you can always read Shakespeare.” – Robin Hobb
“Reading. That was the sport I was good at.” – George R.R. Martin

On their first professional work.

“It was a story called ‘The Hero’ which I sold to Galaxy magazine in 1970, for $94.” – George R.R. Martin
“I began attempting to write for children under the mistaken assumption that writing for children was easy.” – Robin Hobb
“I was a journalism major, and I would take creative writing classes as part of that, but I would also look for opportunities to write stories for some of my other classes. So for my course in Scandinavian history, I asked if I could write historical fiction instead of term papers. Sometimes they’d say yes.” – George R.R. Martin

On writing.

“It’s different for every writer. It’s not a career for anyone who needs security. It’s a career for gamblers. It’s a career of ups and downs.” – George R.R. Martin
“Very little about being a writer is signing an autograph. It’s sitting in a room and writing. Getting it out.” – Robin Hobb
“I agree. The main thing is the stories. Ultimately you want to get back to that room, back to your people.” – George R.R. Martin
“I’ve been very lucky. There were times when I was afraid I would never sell another book, but I never doubted I’d write another book.” – George R.R. Martin
“It’s being ready to accept rejection. You can work on a book for two years and get it published, and it’s like you may as well have thrown it down a well. It’s not all champagne and doing interviews with The New York Times.” – George R.R. Martin
“It’s like chasing butterflies and trying not to crush them.” – Robin Hobb
“There’s part of me that loves words. But sometimes it feels like you’re trying to drive nails with your shoe.” – George R.R. Martin

On editing.

“The biggest doubts come in the five minutes after I hit send.” – Robin Hobb
“I enjoy rewriting much more than I do first drafts. Rewriting, at least you have something to work with. I find writing first drafts extremely difficult.” – George R.R. Martin
“When both my editors say ‘This is really bad, you need to change this,’ I ignore that at my peril.” – Robin Hobb

On killing characters and torturing readers.

“I could have written a story about a well-adjusted family. Ned Stark comes down to King’s Landing and takes over and solves all their problems. Would that have been as exciting?” – George R.R. Martin
“George handles this huge cast of characters so well. When I get beyond four or five characters, I think, well, there’s one way to simplify this story.” – Robin Hobb
“The way my books are structured, everyone was together, then they all went their separate ways and the story deltas out like that, and now it’s getting to the point where the story is beginning to delta back in, and the viewpoint characters are occasionally meeting up with each other now and being in the same point at the same time, which gives me a lot more flexibility for killing people.” – George R.R. Martin

On overcoming blocks.

“I will sit there and say, don’t do that, don’t do that, you’re going to make this story three chapters longer, and of course he doesn’t listen.” – Robin Hobb on her main character, Fitz.
“Thankfully, I have a lot of characters. So if I run into a Tyrion problem, I can write with Arya for a while. Then one day there’s a solution for the Tyrion problem, out of nowhere.” – George R.R. Martin

On what they’d tell their younger selves.

“Start writing sooner. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t hesitate.” – Robin Hobb
“I’d be anonymous. That’s what I’d do differently.” – George R.R. Martin

On A Song of Ice and Fire.

“I thought it could be a trilogy. It was initially proposed to be A Game of Thrones, A Dance of Dragons, and The Winds of Winter. There was a period when I thought I’d never get to A Dance With Dragons, because the second book became the third book, and then it became the fourth book, and then it became the fifth book. The tale grew in the telling. It’s all very well to discuss some of these things in the outline, but when you sit down to write it, other plots occur to you, secondary characters come in, you think of an interesting subplot. Suddenly the stew is much richer, but it also takes more bowls to fill it up.” – George R.R. Martin
On dreams.
“My dreams are the usual incoherent nonsense. Like most writers, at some point in my career I thought, well, I have these great dreams but I always forget them in the morning so I’ll leave a pad on my bedside table so I can write it down, and then you have some incredible dream and you write it down and the next morning you wake up and you’ve written ‘purple socks’.” – George R.R. Martin
On underdogs.
“Everybody has felt at one time or another that everyone else in the world had a better shot than they did, so when you engage that, you engage the reader, and I think you create a character that brings the reader more fully into the story.” – Robin Hobb
“I’ve always had a soft spot for the outsider, for the underdog. ‘Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things’, as the title of one of the (TV series) episodes goes. The angst that they have in life makes for more conflict, makes for more drama, and there’s something very attractive about that. My Game of Thrones is told by outsiders of both types. None of them fit comfortably into the society into which they’ve been born, and they’re all struggling to find a place for themselves in which they’re valued and loved and respected, despite what their society considers their deficiencies. And out of that, I think, comes good stories.” – George R.R. Martin
On names.
“Names are hard. I have a library of What to Name Your Baby books, and I’m always picking up new books, and books of baby names from other countries. I like cool-sounding names.” – George R.R. Martin
“I do know what’s been useless to me is the online fantasy name generators. I’ve tried those a few times, and they say, ‘Just hit this button and we’ll generate 50 fantasy names,’ and they all turn out to be ‘Grisknuckle’.” – George R.R. Martin
“A lot of fantasy names are too much. They’re too difficult to pronounce. I wanted the flavor of medieval England. I took actual names we still use today, like ‘Robert’, and in some case I tweaked them a little bit. I made ‘Edward’ into ‘Eddard’. If you look back at medieval times, no one knew how to spell their own names. There are a lot of variations that we’ve lost.” – George R.R. Martin
“There’s an old writing rule that says ‘Don’t have two character names start with the same letter’, but I knew at the beginning that I was going to have more than 26 characters, so I was in trouble there. Ultimately it comes down to what sounds right. And I struggle with that, finding the right name for a character. If I can’t find the right name I don’t know who the character is and I can’t proceed.” – George R.R. Martin
Courtesy of Buzzfeed.
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There you go...some nice little tips and insights in there. I found some of the answers fascinating, especially regarding what they’d tell their younger selves. Me? I’d definitely start writing sooner...
What about you?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Things I've Learned Since Becoming An Author

(And tongue-in-cheek bits about myself too)

 
This time around, I thought I'd share a few simple truths I've come to appreciate about being an author. Some of them, you'll be able to relate to instantly. Others? Well, they're just personal to me.
 
1. Find out what kind of schedule fits your temperament - and then stick to it.
I often see other authors talking about mammoth writing sessions they've enjoyed. You know, the ones where they've drained reservoir quantities of coffee from the national reserves and gone on to create a masterpiece. I've only ever tried that once, and didn't like it. But if that works for you, by all means do it. The important thing, is to find your thing...then stick to it. Regularity is the key.
 
 
2. I get twitchy if I don't keep to schedule.
 
Are you like that? Because of my lifestyle, I have to work to schedule. If something interrupts my creative time, I get all emotional. It consumes me. And while I don't go all "Bruce Banner" on people, I do get a bit...testy.
So, if you get disturbed - do what I do - make notes, jot down ideas, and gnash your teeth until you can get back to it!






3. Take Regular Breaks.
Me? I actually do something physical in between sessions. Jog, swim, exercise, a spot of housework. Whatever it is, it allows me to run things through in my head, so I stay eager to write.
 
 
4. Get used to indifference.
The glamor of securing that first contract soon wears off. When acquaintances see your not jetting off all over the world on incredibly important business trips, the novelty of your success drains away like water down a plughole. So don't go on about it. Let your work, family, friends, do the speaking for you, and you'll find the buzz about what you do never ceases to stop circulating.

 
 
5. Vodka fuels my imagination
It really does? Strange that, eh?.
However, I have to strike a balance. Too much vodka only ever fuels frequent trips to the bathroom and a tendency to sleep.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
6. Be honest with your publisher.
And work closely with your editor. You really will reap the benefits in the long-run. I've found it creates a much more productive and flexible working environment. Everyone is willing to help each other, and feel free to express ideas and opinions. (Remember, its your work that benefits).

 
7. I'm a hammer - not a tip-tapper.
How long does your keyboard last? I get through mine every 4 or 5 months. In fact, I beat my keyboards so hard, you can hear them screaming our safe-words as I'm writing my stories.
...Yeah, say my name!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
8. Don't forget advertising and promotions.
This is an area I really need to concentrate on. If - like me - you write with smaller, independent publishers, make sure you devote some of your time to raising the profile of your work. You already know how I feel about my schedule. If I'm not typing away, I feel like I'm being lazy. But, what's the point of doing all that work if people aren't aware your fantastic tales of the imagination are actually available to read? So, don't become too focused on spending your 'author time' writing. Make space for advertising and promotions too. You won't regret it.
 
 
9. It's Official. Manufactures DO incorporate Catnip in keyboards.
This is a phenomenon every author with cats will experience. You clear your head. You grab your tankard of coffee - or in my case, vodka. You flex those fingers...(The keyboard whimpers)...and as you take your seat, poof! Tiddles appears from nowhere to assist you in creating your masterpiece.
A cunning conspiracy? Are there, in fact, millions of authors out there plagiarizing the work of their fluffy, furry-purry friends? No. Quite simply, manufacturers have devised a cunning way to incorporate the essence of Catnip into the resin on your keyboard...just to annoy authors.
 
 
10. I can eat a whole cheesecake in one sitting.
What has that got to do with writing? Absolutely nothing, but I just thought I'd throw it in there as its my secret superhero ability, and I wanted you to know in case you're ever left with any delicious, sweet, moist and crumbly offerings you can't handle.
So now you know.
 
That's it for now - next time, I'll be posting a video of what happens when I say the word's, "No! Definitely not...I forbid it." To my wife.
***Warning - Will definitely contain scenes of extreme violence***