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***

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sharing My Process


I've been asked to share a few ideas about my current works, and how my creative process impacts upon my schedule. You won't find anything sage here, but I do hope you discover something useful.
Here it goes:

What am I working on?

I'm very focused and like to concentrate on one main project at a time. So, at this moment, I'm entering the final stages of the first draft to Phoenix Rising, the fourth tale of the Guardian series. It's an important step, because this book links the previous trilogy into the new one, and I have to ensure the two blend together smoothly, whilst setting the scene for the concluding chapters to their story.

Saying that, I'm also laying the foundations to what will be an entirely new venture. World building is a very important aspect to my process, and I take my time with it. As to what the new project relates to? Watch this space...more exciting news later this year, perhaps next year.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I usually stick to two main genres. Science-Fiction and Paranormal/Fantasy. However, I approach both with a similar attitude. I like to make what I write believable. To do that, I do what I touched on above. World build. I'm an advocate of the axiom...if you do your homework, & base your characters and the story's setting on a thoroughly researched foundation, then it shines through. You give your heroes and villains a history that makes a huge difference, and this allows you to add all sorts of twists and turns as the tale develops. I truly believe the reader will notice that and appreciate it.

I also like to send a message through the pages of my work. What that message is, differs with each story, but will often touch on issues such as, morality, equality, diversity, etc. and the consequences of pushing things too far.

Why do I write what I do?

Conditioning. It is often said, you should write what you know. While I do this within the context of my work, (especially in relation to the science involved, or combat principles in fight scenes), I also apply that focus in the actual genres themselves.
I grew up in the 1960's. Think of what took place at that time. The space race. Endless Gerry Anderson sci-fi shows. (Supercar, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, Stingray, captain name a few.) Think of the other shows on primetime TV: Dr Who, The Champions, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, Time Tunnel, The Invaders.
Those shows only got more sophisticated as the decades passed...(Gosh, I feel old) :(
Is it any wonder such things strongly influenced the corridors of my imagination?

How does my writing process work?

I'll simplify this, as its quirky.
When I come up with an idea for a novel, I allow it to bounce around inside my head for quite a while. I actually allow it to develop there, and sometimes play things through to a conclusion before I put anything but the vital points down in writing. I even shuffle things about mentally, try it again, and only when I come up with something that really begins to flow, do I start to make notes.
By that stage, I can lay the foundations for the world building aspect.
Then I come up with a written outline. How I want the story to start. Where I'd like it to go before we arrive at the conclusion. Then I refine the points that need polishing...and off we go.
But, I allow enough fluidity to let the story flow where it needs. I've seen the value of this a number of times, now, as each story takes on its own momentum, and leads me where it needs to go.
I do semi-edit as I go through, as it allows me to ensure I've kept important plot points/twists where I need them, and then I apply another, more thorough edit once the 1st draft is completed, prior to sending it to beta-readers.
When it comes back, I edit again - and then I send it off.

There you go. As I mentioned, it's nothing magical, but its a method that works for me. I hope you find something useful within it to help you with your own development.

Perhaps you might also like to check out my friend's blog:
Where they describe their own process.

Until the next time...
Have a most excellent day.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Expo Tips

I know a great many of you like to attend Expos and book fairs, not just to enjoy the event itself, but also to promote your own work. It's something I'd certainly love to get the opportunity to do if they had that kind of thing, way over here in Greece, it is...all I can do is stare across the ocean in envy, stick my bottom lip out, and sulk.

Anyway, for those of you who are able to enjoy the luxury of an Expo or two, I came across an excellent little article on the Writers Network, that you might find useful. It was written by a guy called, Ron Knight, who made some excellent suggestions as to what we could all do to make our work stand out that little bit more, and especially if you actually get to attend these events.
Here it is...see what you think.
I just attended a book fair in Venice, Florida that had 56 authors selling their books. Here are some things I noticed:
1~ About 20% of the authors were sitting. The problem with that is it makes the author look like they aren’t passionate about sharing their story. Of those 20%, only half stood up when I spoke to them. This is a big mistake if you want to sell books.
TIP: It can be exhausting, but you must stand and greet each potential reader. You only have a few seconds to make an impression.
2~ Only 2 authors stood in front of their table, rather than behind the table. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that I spent a few extra minutes listening to those 2 authors pitch their books.
TIP: Standing to the front/left or front/right of the table shows confidence in what you’re doing and you will engage in more conversations.
3~ Only 50% of the authors had either a bookmark, or business card with their contact information. Of those, 20% had cheap looking bookmarks or business cards that they obviously copied off their printer and cut out.
TIP: Most people will collect bookmarks and decide later on which books to purchase. This is essential for every author to have. Of those that had bookmarks or business cards, only 20% provided an email address. For some reason authors aren’t including their email addresses, but I’m not sure why.
TIP: You never know who will be stopping at your table. It’s important to have all of your contact information provided on a professional bookmark, or business card, which includes all of your links AND your email address.
4~ Only 2 authors provided an extra activity to do at their table.
TIP: If you provide some sort of simple game where you can win a free prize, this will build a crowd around your table and keep people near you longer.
5~ Only 1 author gave away a free pencil. (On that pencil was their book title and website.)
TIP: If you give away a pencil, or some sort of small prize, it will be a promotion that lasts even longer than a bookmark.
6~ Only 10% of authors pitched me on their books in less than 25 words.
TIP: The most difficult thing for authors to do is pitch their novel in one sentence, but it’s critical to have that pitch ready. Perhaps you can pitch your book the same as the film industry pitches a new movie. “My book is like Die Hard on a bus!” Or, “My book is Blade Runner meets Field of Dreams.”
7~ ZERO authors gave away an excerpt of their book.
TIP: Even if you sat down behind your table, didn’t give away bookmarks or business cards, didn’t provide an extra activity or handout free items, or didn’t pitch your book, there is one slam dunk way to get anyone excited about your story…give them an example.
Professional Excerpt Tips:
8~ On the top left corner provide a black and white photo of your book cover, or some sort of image that relates to your book.
9~ Provide the first chapter of your book, or whatever fits on a 9×11 sheet. On the back, (Or if you have room on the bottom front page) provide your links and email address.
Your story is amazing, so people will purchase your book before leaving the event, or purchase your book using one of your links. There’s no better pitch than your writing.
Bonus: Spend a little extra money and printout another sheet that provides 10 tips that benefit your target readers. Staple that tip-sheet to your excerpt.
For example, if you write teen books, provide 10 tips on how to survive high school. If you write inspirational books, provide 10 tips on starting off the day with a positive attitude.
10~ Zero authors sold something other than their book.
TIP: The book fair was outside in Venice, Florida. If an author sold waters for a dollar, they would have made a killing. Also, authors should sell wristbands for a buck that have the title of their book, or a catchy phrase based on their story.
Your book is the gateway to all kinds of success, but it starts with YOU…
Ron Knight
I don't know about you, but I found some of Ron's advice intriguing. I've done small publicity events here in Greece...and I don't know if it was the informality of the affair that helped...but thankfully, I naturally did some of what he suggested. I stood round on the other side of the desk. I socialized. Had a little competition, had cards and flyers made, etc.
But other aspects?
Having a one sentence blurb prepared? Fantastic!
Having excerpts of your book - or even a print out of your 1st chapter? Canny idea!
Other little gimmicks with the title or the emblem of your book?
Look at this.
My regular readers will know what these two symbols represent. Imagine if I had then transposed - as he suggested - onto wristbands, magnets, pens etc. Simple and effective.
I think I'm going to start doing this...and tell you how it goes. :)
That's all for now. I hope YOU found something within this item that might prove useful.
Until the next time, have a great day...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Poetry Acceptance

Hello again,
I'm proud to announce the latest release from Shoe Music Press,
Penny Ante Feud 14 - The Fires of the Earth / The Dying Word.
Penny Ante Feud is a quality press who only accept one - just one - submission from each of the applicants who strive to encapsulate their thoughts and emotions in a way that describes this most desperate and perfect act.
I am delighted to say, my submission, Virtual Reality, will be part of this thought provoking collection.
If you've never read poetry before...try this.
You won't look back :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kiss of the Succubus - Prize Giveaway Winners.

Well, my Buy the Book Tour is over, and so is the period for entering the grand giveaway for the great prize pack below.
In all, there were just under a thousand entries. A couple of hundred on Rafflecopter, and, the rest by way of messages to my FB page.
(That's why I've been a little slow in announcing the winners - it took a long time to separate the entrants from all the other messages).
Thank you so much to all those who were kind enough to enter and make this event so special.
My wife, Annette, acted as the adjudicator, and I'm pleased to announce that the
1st place winner of all of the items shown above
 (Which include signed copies of Rage of Augustus AND Kiss of the Succubus)
Lori Franklin Hopkins
Congratulations Lori, a message is on its way today to arrange your prize pack.
and recipients of an eBook version of either Rage of Augustus, or Kiss of the Succubus,
(Your Choice)
Joseph Hawkshaw
Alice Robertson Clary
Very well done to Joseph and Alice. Likewise, a message is on its way to you to make arrangements to collect your eBooks.
To those of you who missed out this time, don't worry.
Another giveaway will be running later in the year in conjunction with the release of
Fallen Angels - Book 3 of the Guardian Series
For lovers of the Cambion Journals...don't worry, the third instalment of this dark tale,
Embrace of the Incubus
isn't too far away.
Thank you to everyone - again - who made this event so special.
Have a great day - Andy

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thank You

Well, we've reached the end of my week with Buy the Book Tours, and what a week it's been.
Do you remember some of the stops?
 Here's a review of the sites who kindly promoted Kiss of the Succubus:
"Thank you" to everyone who helped the week go so well. Your support was much appreciated.

And of course, A special "Thank You" goes to Buy the Book Tours, for arranging such a fine schedule.
Remember, the Grand Prize Giveaway runs until Monday morning (23rd), so seize the opportunity to grab a last minute chance to be a Winner.
1st Prize is a signed copy of Kiss of the Succubus, along with all the goodies shown in the picture above.
There will also be two runners-up prizes of an ebook version of either Rage of Augustus (Book 1 of the Cambion Journals) or Kiss of the Succubus (Book 2)

You can enter by sending me a personal FB message, or, by clicking on the Rafflecopter option below.
Don't miss out now.
Have a great day everyone,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kiss of the Succubus Bookmark Tour

Final Day
Well, the final day of my journey with Buy the Book Tours has arrived.
I hope you've enjoyed what we've done during the week, and found the posts both informative and stimulating.
Today, we're stopping by at:
Christine's Words
where we'll not only be enjoying a spotlight session, but also looking into the value of a good routine. Something that was brought home to me again only recently.
Details of the Grand Prize Draw are also contained on the links, and as you can see, there's only a few days left to enter.
Along with a signed copy of Kiss of the Succubus, one lucky winner will get all this!
Wouldn't it be great if that lucky winner was YOU?
Have a most excellent day.

Andy :)