Monthly Archives: February 2011

Early morning thoughts…

It’s early morning, 5am to be precise, and my eyes ping open. I try to get back to sleep. I try to empty my mind. But it’s no use. My mind is full of junk.

First I’m thinking: Why did I buy that Kindle yesterday? I don’t really need it. I’ve got books on my iPhone and I haven’t read half of those. Then I’m thinking how I get the clothes my dad’s been wearing for the last four weeks (and which are beginning to really smel)l off him and into the washing machine.

I’m becoming a dab hand with a bottle of Febreeze. I spray it at the furniture like some fussy old maid, spray the carpet, even spray it at my dad, surreptitiously of course. Unfortunately, he needs more than a good spray. Maybe I could stand him outside for a while and let the natural breeze take away some of those odours. In the meantime, the cat looks at me like I’m an idiot and my father watches New 24 for more hours than is healthy for a human being.

The early hours are good for writing if I can’t sleep. Obviously, it’s not much good for writing if I am actually asleep. I might discover deep truths, or at least some fabulous lies. At the moment, though, I’m too busy obsessing over whether I should have bought the Kindle. My brain is saying: unnecessary expense. It says that a lot lately. Like a beeper going off. For instance, I have to buy a car soon. My brother-in-law has managed to purloin me an old Peugeot for not very much. Ideal for running around in, which is all I need.

But my brain has suddenly decided, after 40 odd years ofsublime indifference, that it suddenly likes cars and I’ve been looking at this red MG that looks kinda sexy…which I don’t need…not at all…but…mmmmmmm.

This has got me thinking, at five in the morning no less, that my life is full of junk. From the Kindle to the laptop I’m working on, to all the crap on my floor, including the electric toothbrush and the goddamn iPhone. It’s all junk. Realise this people, someone went out and actually invented Febreeze. Somehow, I’m not sure the Great Lord of Creation had that in mind when he zapped us with his creation stick.

And I hate to harken back to the old days, when life was simpler. But it was, wasn’t it?

When we lived in caves, all we had to worry about was getting food or keeping warm. Then, as if things weren’t just right, we had to go and do something stupid like evolve. Primarily, this involved finding new things to worry about. We started having conversations with our neighbours, actually talking to each other, building settlements, learning “new” skills, discovering art.

Cooking used to be about just getting stuff on a plate, now you have to create a masterpiece every time you go into your mass produced kitchen where pointless gadgets gleam and whisper: use me, use me, you never needed me before, but now that you have me, you need me, need me soooo much!

Here’s a crazy notion: Why don’t we stop evolving and producing useless crap that means nothing and go back to living in caves…

Why? Because it’s cold and damp and…yes, harsh. You don’t want to live in a cave. You want to lie in a nice warm bed with a nice laptop and a nice cup of tea in your nice house with your lovely two kids and cock-eyed spaniel that’s got a little snuffle and your fridge full of organically farmed beetroot and freshly laid eggs and meat cut into neat chunks by some faceless miscreant who, right this minute, is sitting up and wondering why he can’t get to sleep and what the point of life is…

Ah, five in the morning. A time to ramble about things inconsequential. A time to let all those thoughts out onto the page. A time rational human beings should be asleep.

Footnote: My dad has just got up to go to the toilet, farted loudly and gone back to bed. I bet he’s not thinking dumb things…

On Being a Writer by Adam J. Shardlow

The plus side of being a writer…

  1. Never having to wear a suit – As a writer you can wear whatever you like. Ageing shorts and t-shirt combo, distressed jeans coloured with last nights Chinese hoisin sauce, dressing gown that smells of sleep, Goofy slippers and bandanna. You can even do a Hemingway and go naked. This has the helpful economic advantage of keeping laundry bills to a minimum. Basically, you can wear whatever or as little as you like. No one will ever know.
  2. A short walk to work – You get up, breakfast, watch the news and then sit down to work. No having to step out into the wilds of the city streets, no having to deal with dawdlers and bus queue pushers, no having to spare change for the man with drool hanging from the corner of his mouth or avoid the water filled pot hole. You’re at work in seconds, dragging valuable time from the lack commuting that can be put into your current magnus opus. Valuable time that is yours to do with as you wish.
  3. At home during the day – You can order whatever you like and parcels will be delivered straight into your hands. No more worries that delivery companies will push those annoying little cards through your door telling your that you weren’t in (obviously) and your carton of brand new reading material has instead been left at a vast concrete hanger twenty five miles outside of town and you have two days to come and get it before it’s returned to sender.
  4. Time to yourself -You sit and reflect on your current work. You have the time to be creative, to move about your apartment deep in thought, playing creative mind games and dabbling with new forms of writing style and experimental artistic projects. Your time is your own to plumb the depth of creativity. You dictate what you work on and have the freedom to follow the creative flow.
  5. Your own space – You work at a desk in a book lined den. Your MacBook is set up and connected to the world. You have fresh coffee whenever you want it, warmed bagels for lunch. You can listen to your music, relax in your favourite chair and watch the sunset from the panoramic window before you, marvelling at its majesty, as your fingers tap away at those keys.
  6. Forging your own path – You write what you want to write. If you decide the world needs the first ever 1000 page fictional account of the life of a parasitic pinworm, then so be it. You can create works so challenging, so original, so daringly innovative, that your place in the literary canon will be secured for generations to come.
  7. Adoring fans – You have fans who visit your web page every day. They read your blog entries in minute detail and make insightful comments. They hang on your every Twitter and Facebook update, they send you gifts in the post. At signings the queue snakes around the block, each fan asking you in excited, nervous voices for your signature and photo. You give each fan as much time as possible, building your base, cementing sales and a world tour.
  8. Conventions – You get invited to writing conventions where you give inspirational speeches to the next generation, many of whom remember what you say and in turn become writers because of you. Being such a guru they ask you to write the introductions for their next book, your name and fame helping them to carve out lucrative careers.
  9. Agent lunches – Your agent takes you out for expensive lunches at fabulous London eateries to discuss your current work; how it will be marketed, showing you cover designs and giving you the tour details. All the bills are paid and they send you home first class.
  10. Film options – Hollywood, realising the golden egg that you are, beats a path to your door to option your entire back catalogue and turn them into blockbuster movies in which you have sensibly taken a percentage payment, meaning that you can afford to buy property in London, New York and Paris. This fame however, will never change you. You remain a dedicated artist, creating great works of literature.
However…
  1. Never having to wear a suit – You are sitting naked in front of a computer screen in the middle of the day and don’t give a damn.
  2. A short walk to work – You’re fat. You don’t get enough exercise. You barely leave the flat and have worn tracks into the carpet from using the office wheely chair as a convenient method of transport for getting to the kitchen.
  3. At home during the day – Morons and religious freaks, can rattlers and do-gooders, double glazing salesmen, drive tarmac-ing, collection agencies and pedlers. Each and everyone knocks on your door and expects you to answer and contribute.
  4. Time to yourself – You check Twitter, Facebook, web bookmarks, writing blogs and other sites less savoury to mention – normally every hour. You watch the news, then catch a comedy and remember that you recorded a film two weeks ago that needs to be seen. You do the washing, read a comic book, play the latest PSP release. You Skype, IM, text and take a long lunch. You do the ironing and clean the shower, make the bed and cook a meal for the evening and then wonder where the day has gone.
  5. Your own space – You haven’t seen anyone for two weeks. You could die and no one would know until your decaying body juices soaked through the floor into the flat below.
  6. Forging your own path – You haven’t been paid in six months. Your bank statements only come in the colour red.
  7. Adoring fans – Does your Mum count? Really?
  8. Conventions – You never get invited. You have to pay the entrance fee like everyone else and spend the entire weekend in the bar getting drunk.
  9. Agent lunches – You’re not convinced your agent knows your home telephone number and you’ve only met him once. You bought your own coffee.
  10. Film options – You have a Blockbusters membership card. That is as Hollywood as life ever gets.
More about Adam

Adam J. Shardlow is an author. He spends his day sitting in front of a computer making stuff up until his head hurts and he can longer see straight. Many say he writes works of fantasy, others say its science fiction, some shake their heads in irritation and give a long drawn out sigh before claiming the genre is in truth supernatural thriller, whilst one clearly mad individual with a long white beard and rolling eyes chants from a street corner that it is speculative fiction. Whatever it is, it’s his own style, and on these pages you can find some of his works. Others you will have to find in a bookshop. There is also a blog where he can bore you with all the mundanity and minutia of his life.

Visit Adam J Shardlow’s website.

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Dear Indie Author: Are alarm bells ringing?

There you sit, master or mistress of your own destiny, Indie author extraordinaire. You have five books on the Amazon bestseller list and you’re not doing too bad on iTunes either.

Then you wake up.

It’s just a dream. A damn dream! You wipe the cold sweat off your brow. Wait. You remember. It wasn’t a dream. It was real…but…but

People got greedy

Companies GOT greedy. That’s why it all fell apart. They wanted to increase their margins (whatever they are). They wanted to maximise profits. They wanted to…dare I say it…control their product.

Control you.

Really? Those nice people at Amazon? The lovely guys at Lulu? All those fine, upstanding bods at Smashwords?

You betcha!

People generally get very greedy, very quickly.

Ka-ching! There’s money in them there hills…

You see, there’s a big market out there in cyber world. And there’s a battle going on for its soul. Companies can both take a slice of Indie authors and the people who buy their product. They can begin to dictate, they can squeeze your differentials (oooh, matron…and no, I have no idea what that means either).

They can even crash and burn those bridges and leave you without a way to peddle your wares.

We’re ripe for the picking. We should be classed as vulnerable adults. It they can abuse us, they will. If they can keep us in line and make us behave, they will. Even now, some faceless corporate whore is plotting against the Revolutionary Indie Author Movement.

Those little beeps your PC makes? Maybe that’s Amazon trying a bit of mind control (well you did download that free hypnosis MP3) or iTunes putting out sneaky subliminal messaging.

Call me Mr Paranoia

The discussion point at the Feckless Goblin is this: Are the major players like Amazon and iTunes mobilising to slap us Indies in the face? Is our brave new world about to disintegrate around us? Is it all a dream?

Your thoughts, as always, are most welcome. Jot them down in the comments section below.

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Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing by Scott Nicholson

Because I’ve been both indie and trad, I’ve blogged this topic a few times but it always comes out fresh. I love every single aspect of my new business—writing, marketing, formatting, conceptualizing, accounting, networking—but you might not.

So maybe I can encourage you or scare you away, whichever makes you happiest. Because happiness is more important than book deals.

Self-publishing pros:

  1. You are boss. The mad scientist in your own lab, cooking up your Frankenstein monster. And you always get the creature you deserve.
  2. You keep all gross proceeds. Actually, you will be spending it on business investments, but instead of receiving 4 to 15 percent of list price, you will be earning 35 to 70 percent on ebooks and probably 25 percent on paper books.
  3. You choose the cover, genre, and overall presentation based on your understanding of your core audience.
  4. You have control of your content and can react quickly in a rapidly evolving landscape, without worrying about what’s best for corporate shareholders or a larger structure, only what’s best for you and your products.
  5. You write whatever you want.

Self-publishing cons:

  1. You are boss, but would you really hire yourself if you had to apply for the job?
  2. A hundred percent of nothing is still nothing.
  3. You may not understand your audience at all, or you may have no audience.
  4. You’re stuck with your content because no one wants it or buys into it.
  5. You may suck and never know it.

 

More about Scott:

Scott Nicholson is author of 13 novels, including the bestsellers The Red Church and Disintegration.

His new releases are the romantic paranormal mystery Transparent Lovers and the mystery Crime Beat.

He’s also a freelance editor and runs http://www.hauntedcomputer.com.

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Top Turd in the Pile Of Writer’s Poo! By Jake Bible

zombieapocalypse

Crazy title I know, but it actually explains how I decided to write my first novel.

There is a lot of talk lately about the quality of writing out there (print and ebook) and I now agree with it pretty much 100%.

But, If I had agreed with it back in Spring 2009 then I wouldn’t be writing this post, because I never would have even started my first novel, DEAD MECH.

Back in 2009 I received my first iPod. I was immediately looking for podcasts to listen to and started filling up that little sucker to capacity right away. During all my searches I found a bunch of free fiction podcasts (Pseudopod, The Drabblecast, Escape Pod, etc.) and in most of these podcasts were promos for free podcast novels.

Well, who am I to give up free stuff?
I downloaded several novels and dove right in. The interesting thing was that I was listening to the intros of the podcasts and many of the authors were getting publishing deals for their books. Some were small publishers and some were big New York publishers.

This intrigued me mainly because the whole submission process for getting your work published is what had always held me back. But, if I already had a loyal following and could show genuine interest then maybe a publisher would take a look at me, right?

Mediocre writing
The real butt kicker was that some of these writers were putting out mediocre work at best. Don’t get me wrong, there were (and are) a ton of high quality podcast novels out there. But, one writer in particular had a huge following and some amazing download stats for their work and I knew I could write better than them. I knew I wasn’t going to be Hemingway, but I could certainly put out some pulp better than that.

I set myself a goal to learn everything there was about podcasting, started writing my novel, recorded it as I was writing (don’t do this!) and within a couple months I was getting great feedback and large download numbers.

Flash forward to May 2010
One year after I started writing the novel, I had a publishing contract. And in September 2010, one year after launching the podcast, I had a published book in the market! Not too shabby!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I worked my butt off to make it all happen. I wrote a novel that had a great idea (giant battle mechs in a futuristic wasteland controlled by zombies), I also wrote it as a drabble novel (see my website for more details) which had never been done before and I had a TON of help from some really great people.

It didn’t just “happen”
But, without my goal of dominant mediocrity, I wouldn’t have even started down my path.

So, what does this have to do with you? Very simple: write your book, even if you don’t think it will be perfect or up to some super high standard you have set. Bring that bar down and go for it! Whether successful or not, you will learn so much.

There aren’t any valid excuses to keep sitting on your butt with an idea that’s just going to waste. The key is to be honest with yourself. Do you want to write a perfect novel or do you want to get your novel out there and into the hands of the masses?

You’ll probably suck, you’ll probably have your ego and soul crushed, but you never know until you try!

Stop being whiny little wieners and get your stuff written! There are no excuses in this world anymore! Reach for that fourth place finish!

You too could be the next top turd in the pile of poo!

More about Jake Bible:

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids. He is the author of many published short stories and the creator of a new literary form: the Drabble Novel. DEAD MECH is his first novel and represents the introduction to the world of the Drabble Novel, a novel written 100 words at a time.

Learn more about Jake and his work at http://jakebible.com. Links to his Facebook fan page, Twitter and his forum can be found there, as well as his weekly drabble release, Friday Night Drabble Party, and his weekly free audio fiction podcast.

Join Jake as he rushes the Amazon Kindle charts on March, 1st and tries to push DEAD MECH to the top! Info can be found here: http://jakebible.com/the-amazon-kindle-dead-mech-rush/

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10 preoccupations writers can do without….

Add up all your writing worries and you could, maybe, fill a 1,000 page novel with angst.

Writer’s worry about many things: When to write, what to write, where to write, why the hell they are writing. The list goes on. Is this character the right one to take on that character? Should he be a boy or a girl? Should I base the story in this town or that city? Have I killed off that shady character too soon?

Don’t sweat so much.

What’s my word count?

We all play this game. We have it in the corner of our PC and we glance at it far too often. We writers like word counts. As if it means anything. Words joined together make a sentence to mean stuff. Volume of words doesn’t mean spit.

My first draft sucks

Breaking news: Most first drafts suck. That’s why they’re first drafts. They’re usually followed by a second or third. No one has ever had a first draft professionally published. If they say they have, they’re lying. Check their work for plagiarism. Or just go at them with a fork.

Am I a plotter or a pantser?
I hate this question. Sometimes I plot, sometimes I just write what comes into my head and have a happy hope it leads somewhere nice. Those who are pro plotting say it stops your plot from getting out of hand. Pro Pantsers say that just letting fly makes their writing more inspired. Which ever one you chose, or if you want to chose both, do me a favour, be happy in your choice.

Spelling and grandma

Who cares if you can’t spell or only have the rudiments of grammar? That’s why god invented spell checkers and editors. Personally, I hate apostrophes. If I had a gun and I could see an apostrophe, I’d shoot the damn thing. People who sweat about spelling and grammar should get out more. What matters is your idea. What matters is your gift for transmitting that idea.

Writers write

I hate this dumb comment. It immediately makes me want to stop writing. It’s supposed to make things simple but all it does when a writer sees it is make them think about why they can’t write and then it makes them go and get a coffee and have sex with a badger. Saying writers write to a writer is like saying you can’t write, give up now.

Can I be an overnight writing success?

No, you can’t. Live with it. Self-publishing, Indie, the whole social media thing. It all takes time. Make the effort to learn all sides of your craft/business. Build slow. Gather knowledge. Think about what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can do it while you’re writing that great novel. It’s easy. You just have to connect. Don’t sweat, it’s not that difficult.

The muse. WTF is she playing at?

You sit at your PC, waiting for the words to come. You type, delete, type, delete. For two hours you try to encourage the muse. Then, when you’re in bed, she flits in and throws an idea or two into your head. The muse is a bitch. If I had a gun…yeah, yeah, yeah….

So your question for today is this: The muse does this because….answers on a postcard.

Is my novel really any good?

The $64,000 question. Unfortunately, it’s not for you to decide. Your peers decide. Those people out there. And they don’t care much about your feelings. You’re just as likely to get a good review as a bad review…you know why, because people are like that. If they were all the same, you wouldn’t need writers to explore the human condition.

My advice: Have the courage of your convictions and don’t get hung up on the reviews. Don’t get over excited by the good ones, and don’t sink into the pit of despond by the bad ones. Remain on even ground. After all, it’s only a book.

No, is it really, really any good?

Yeah, you may have inadvertently written a classic. It might even, in years to come, be used in schools like To Kill a Muckybird or Lord of the Fleas. Listen up: It’s beyond your control. Don’t sweat. Get on with the next book. If you’ve written a classic, when you’re dead they’ll engrave something on your tombstone about it.

And finally: Why am I doing this?

Because you’re a writer. And didn’t you know…writers write…

Got any neuroses you’d like to share with the Feckless Goblin. As usual, scamper over to the comments section and let us all know…

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