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.