Tag Archives: writing

Blue Defender – finally

Blue Defender CoverMy daughter has watched me writing up a storm for the last few years. Her question, why didn’t I write a story about her? Fair question. After all, shouldn’t she always be uppermost in my thoughts? How could I be writing about strangers?

A tricky thing that. How could it be done right?

Some writers I notice write real people into their stories. Clive Cussler mentions himself as a car collector or a marine archeologist in several books. One I recall the characters even had a conversation with Cussler. David Baldacci auctions off the privilege to have your name used as a character with the proceeds going to charity.

So, putting various concerns aside, I started writing. In secret. I did have one issue, being that I while I have a dedicated writing computer in a nook, I do spend some time writing on a laptop at the breakfast table.

Chances were, she would glimpse her name on the screen. So I changed her name in the manuscript for the duration of the writing of the book. Matti-Jay became “Bleu”, in part because I decided to title this secret manuscript “Blue Harvest“. Some of you may know that title as the secret working title of a well-known movie from last century.

So, in Blue Harvest, fifteen year old (yes I gave my daughter a few extra years – kids like reading about kids older than themselves) Bleu set about her adventures. When she was done, the magic of search-replace change Bleu to Matti-Jay.  The title became Blue Defender.

Next step: would she like it? To try it out, I formatted and uploaded it through my usual channels, and obtained a proof copy. When that arrived, it became our bedtime read for a couple of weeks.

I must have done a few things right, because the end of a chapter was frequently met with a “Keep going” (usually reserved for books like “Mortal Engines” or “Homeroom Diaries”), and the end of the book was met with “start writing the sequel now”.

That’s heartwarming for a dad, let me tell you. Better than any five star review.

Blue Defender is available as an ebook and in print through usual outlets. $5.99 for the ebooks. $14.99 for print.

Print

Amazon Kindle

Smashwords

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

Apple

 

 

Advertisements

Sunday Star Times short story contest – rules need an overhaul

sst-logo

Last year and the year before I posted about why I wouldn’t enter the Sunday Star Times short story contest. The same applies this year. Without going over the same old ground too much, it comes down to one clause in their rules (scroll down to T&C), where, by entering, you give them the right to publish your story “without fee”.

As I said before, writers get paid.

I write for the love of writing, but I also take myself seriously as a writer. I license my stories for remuneration. Kind of along the lines of how anyone with skills does work for remuneration. The bus driver, the plumber, the dairy owner where you buy your copy of the Sunday Star Times.

Goodness knows, most writers make little enough money as it is.

If you’re so inclined, by all means, enter. The entry details are here. Check those terms and conditions (I know we live in a world of clicking ‘agree’ to terms and conditions without having read them. Some T&Cs out there are as long as a few of my novels).

I would love to enter for the chance of winning. I know the thrill of winning a writing contest. I know the satisfaction of banking a cheque. But that clause is a step too far.

Of course many writers will enter the contest. The newspaper will find an excellent story and publish it and pay the writer the prize money (it’s pretty good prize money too). But then, the newspaper might publish some of the other entries “without fee”.

It’s simply no way to treat writers.

Bad Advice and knowing what’s coming next

blogtriteim1Seems to me that I’m spending all my writing time working to get over and unlearn all the bad advice from years (decades) of well-intentioned suggestions, poorly considered courses and lengthy apparently learned blog posts.
One thing that I just remembered was a piece of advice which went something like “Finish a writing session at a point where you know what comes next” and associated with that was one like “Stop halfway through a sentence. That way when you sit down again, you just carry on with that sentence”. The reason I remembered was because I finished up a writing session knowing absolutely nothing about what was going to come next.
Not a thing.
I realize that I’ve been doing this for awhile now. Stopping the writing session when I don’t know what comes next. Frankly, my writing is a whole lot more fun too. I remind myself that it’s no special jewel or flower. It’s just a story. Entertainment. And the first person I’m entertaining is myself.
Looking back, I’ve tried the ‘knowing what comes next’ thing and just found myself actually struggling to remember what it was I’d thought of when I sit down at the next session. What was it? She was running toward something, and what’s-his-name was doing that other thing, but what was the whole point? Or something like that.
And a half a sentence? Sheesh. I’ve always ended up just deleting the half and starting a new sentence.
Somehow, after years of angst with this, I’ve finally reached a point of just stopping. Stopping when I don’t know what next. Often times that ends up being the end of a chapter. I might type in “Chapter Twenty Three” ready to go for the next session.
Not one idea what that’s going to be.
I also realize that this does not exist in isolation. It’s paired with a whole lot of other things I’ve been learning, as I fill those gaps of unlearning.
One is cycling. I read back through the work as I go. That’s enough for a post of its own.
Another is ‘being there’. I spotted this in a short essay by James Patterson (at least that’s where I thought I’d seen it, looking back now, the essay I was thinking of doesn’t mention this). Reading through, that is, cycling back, I play at putting myself in my character’s situation. Attempting to ‘be there’. What’s her experience of the place? What’s his reaction to that last thing?
It turns out my subconscious is ready and raring to go. Those next lines and next events show up. I get out of my own way, entertain myself and let the story grow.
I don’t know what’s coming next, and the writing is a whole lot more fun.

Failing to success

 

Low memory small

Low Memory – image by Luca Oleastri

After writing about a novel a month for three months as part of Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge, I thought why not try for one more novel in the following month. With the challenge, there was some flexibility, in that up to half of the novel could be written in the previous month. The challenge  ran through June, July and August. I began the first novel on May 18th, and wrote about 14,000 words by May 30th. Less than half the novel. I finished the last of the three novels on August 22nd. So it took a bit over three months to complete the three.

 

I decided to have a go at writing a novel within a calendar month (yes I know about nanowrimo). I started Low Memory on September 1st. Come September 30th, I hadn’t finished. I’d written 53,000 words and the novel wasn’t finished. It feels like the story wants to be longer, so I’ll continue to the end. All three of the challenge novels were 50,000 words or under.

So I failed. Failed to write a novel in a calendar month. But guess what? There’s success in there. It feels like the novel will come to an end in the next few days. Probably close to 60,000 words. So, even though I didn’t write a novel in a month, I will have written a novel in around 35 days.

I’ll call that a success.

Three months down, three novels complete.

Ice Huntersglass baysmDeuterium shine small

I’ve done it! I’ve completed the challenge. Three months. Three novels.

I started in on Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge on May 18th. Under the terms of the challenge, I could write up to half of a novel in the previous month (as in, write up to half of June’s novel in May, half of July’s novel in June, half of August’s novel in July). I finished up Deuterium Shine on August 22nd. Three months and four days.

Two science fiction. One thriller. Obvious from the covers, I hope.

Two from series. One stand alone (Deuterium Shine, though that might need a sequel).

Short novels, I’ll admit (41,000, 45,000 and 50,000 words respectively). Most of my previous novels run to about 60,000 words. One or two have crept up over 80,000 words. Still, it’s 136,000 words for the three months, only around 1400 words per day (though there were a few side tracks in the novels I cut out, so still closer to my usual 1500 words per day actual writing).

Now to get them tidied, copyedited and out into the world.

Writing these has been the: Best. Fun. Ever. Right now I’m working on a few short stories, but I’m thinking I’m going to continue with writing a novel a month for the rest of the year. Might as well, since it’s, you know, so much fun. Who knows, I might complete a few more novels by year’s end.

Onward.

Images by; Algol (Ice Hunters), Claudio Arnese (Glass Bay), Savagerus (Deuterium Shine), all Dreamstime.

How Hard is Writing?

keysI write a lot. I guess that’s a given. I love it. Love making up new worlds and new places. Love playing with new characters, throwing problems at them and seeing what happens.

I study a lot too. I take courses. I attend workshops. I read ‘how to’ books.
One thing I’ve noticed in several of these is how the author or presenter suggests something along the lines of “writing is hard” (one author even had a similar phrase in bold type in the middle of the page).

I would counter that with ‘writing is fun’. Sit at a desk and play. Make up whole worlds. Crush them with asteroids or oppressive rulers or dragons. Build a family putting themselves back together after tragedy. Track down a killer. Have a struggling musician succeed after so many setbacks.
Warm the hearts of your readers.

I love it.

I love it so much that I write every day. Recently someone asked me how I have such discipline. My response? It’s about the same amount of discipline as it takes to draw a breath.

As long as it’s fun, I’ll keep writing. I hope that my sense of enjoyment comes through my books for my readers. Yes I would like to do this full time, and I’m not there yet. But even without that, I still get to have the best fun ever, every single day.

I don’t fret over the writing. I let it be. I write the best I can, with the skills I have. I work on learning new skills along the way.

And I keep having fun.

Because writing is fun.

(Oh, and the author who bolded “writing is hard”? They’re a far more successful author than I (my congratulations). But also, crucially, they’re a very good business person. The book with the phrase was about marketing for writers. Now to me, marketing is hard. That’s why I was reading the book. To learn something about marketing.)

Novel three underway, novel two passed in.

glass baysmbig sur cover sm

Once again I’ve been caught up in the writing and forgetting to post. I think that’s a good thing.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m taking Dean Wesley Smith’s three novels in three months challenge. Heading into the last three weeks now, with the third novel well underway.

I completed the second novel – Glass Bay – and got it turned in on time. It turned out to be the second of my Emily Jade thriller series. It’s been a couple of years since Big Sur came out and I was starting to wonder if I would find the next book in it (my thriller Taken by Surprise, from last year) has an appearance from Emily, but it’s more like a side book, with a diff103339c0684d4020197c34075c956ca076bdabdcerent lead character (I just noticed that on the cover of the two Emily Jade books I’ve got “Author of Taken by Surprise).

Once I have Mr Smith’s first reader notes back I’ll get it underway with fixes and tinkering and underway to a copyeditor. Hope to have it out before the end of the year.

And a funny thing has happened. Not only have a learned a whole lot about writing, but I’m having fun writing a novel a month. Wondering if I might try to keep it up as a challenge for the rest of the year. That would be fun too.