Friday 30 December 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Roll on 2012 With 'Pride'

As I sit here and reflect on the year gone by, I think of all the things I've accomplished and all the things I haven't. As everyone, I started 2011 with a game plan. I finished a novel, Kiss of the Gypsy; I was going to edit it and I was going to start the hunt for a publishing agent with the view that by this time I would be a step closer to published success.

Did I succeed?


I edited, I hunted, but then realised that it was still missing something and so it's been put on the back burner to ferment and develop that spark it needs. I never forgot about it, in fact I can see it beginning to smoulder - but it's just not quite ready to be continued yet.

In the meantime, as I sat, watched and hoped for that kindle to light itself, I started another, Lady of the Seas, the fourth in my Fantasy series. It was developing rather well and I was feeling really pleased, but after 36,000 words I put it on hold to write another. On November 23rd Son of Jack was published on Amazon for Kindle, leaving me free to continue with my original, Lady of the Seas.

And so I reflect:

Have I reached the goals and successes I set at the turn of 2010/2011? No. But I have reached other successes. I'm published - albeit not the way I wanted, but I have, to this date, made a grand total of TWO sales; I have yet another finished novel under my belt to add to my list; I've given a talk on the craft of writing to a class of ten year olds with the possibility of being asked to go back sometime in the New Year, AND, with all the writing hours accumulated throughout the year, I've developed more confidence in what I do and what I produce. I think in our line of work, this last is the most important. You can't find success if you don't have confidence in what you do.

So, I may not have reached my original goals, but I've accomplished new ones I never foresaw this time last year, and I leave behind 2011 with a feeling of pride - as we all should. I've read too many blogs to remember this year, but I do know that everyone of you have dedicated many - MANY - hours to your writing. Some have even seen the successes I dream of. And so to all of you - those who reached their goals and those who have not - well done. Don't ever let the feeling of failure engulf you. In this business, it's all experience; we learn from experiences and the more we learn and embrace, the closer we are to those goals we dream of.

May 2012 bring many more hours of wonderful writing.

Speaking of that feeling of Pride, I've chosen a piece from Marta Dahlig's Seven Deadly Sins collection (Pride) for the last Pic of the Week for 2011.

Have a wonderful turn of the year, people. It's been a good one, so let's have another!!!

Friday 23 December 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Merry Christmas

With the help of my niece I've decided to go with this picture. My 10 year old niece fell in love with it, seeing as she loves horses, and given it's Christmas theme, I thought it apt.

So to all, enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas!!!!

Friday 16 December 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Tomasz Chistowski

Before we move on to Pic of the Week I'd like to thank all those who wished me luck for giving a talk about the joys of writing to my niece's class on Wednesday. It went really well. Like most of you said, the kids were interested and were completely engrossed in what I had to say.

To begin with I gave a little talk about my writing career to date; I took in the very first novel I ever wrote and was rewarded with oohs and aahs, then I compared it to one of my last novels (180,000 words and yet to be edited) and the oohs and aahs were replaced with gasps of astonishment and awe. After that my mind done a blank on me. All the points I had arranged to discuss disappeared and so we moved on to question time. I was there for an hour answering some superb questions about writing, and I could have stayed for the rest of the afternoon had the teacher not had other plans for her class.

It went really well - and my niece had a proud grin from ear to ear the entire time, bless her - and rumour has it I may get asked to come back sometime in the new year to speak with their other class of 10 year olds. I said that as long as they have questions it shouldn't be And so it begins...

Public speaking can be terrifying for those who don't often do it, but the more you speak, the easier it gets (I learnt that from my days of theatre work). Having a low self-esteem, being self conscious about your appearence or the way you sound, such as Dark Conteur and Michael Offutt brought up, can hinder most people. I suffer with both these. I admit to be being on the cuddly side (years of sitting at a computer desk instead of working those muscles) and my voice sounds far younger and immature than I actually am. I also talk too fast, a trait that has carried through most of my family, and this often leads to me stumbling over words when nervous. These elements make public speaking very difficult, but if you remain calm, relaxed and take deep breaths, chances are you'll do just fine.

I still get nervous though... ;)

Anyway, Pic of the Week. I had a pleasent shock this morning when I woke. I looked out the window and everything was white. We had our first dose of snow this season, and that cold, fluffy white stuff has inspired this week's choice.

Introducing Tomasz Chistowski from Poland, a chance find and an artsit I'm sure we will be returning to in the future.

Enjoy and have a fab weekend...

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Public Speaking . . .

When you get published (yes, that's WHEN. You have to keep pessimistic in this game) and if you're lucky enough to have gone the traditional route with an agent and publisher, it will fall on you at some point in your career to do some public speaking. This can include book signings, lectures, conferences, etc, and all goes towards promotion for your book. Most publishers these days expect it from you. When it comes to marketing, you have to pull your weight, too.

Well, even though I've cheated and only published one book on Amazon Kindle (go buy ;D ) my public speaking days are starting tomorrow. I got asked yesterday if I could attend my 10 year old niece's school and give a talk to her class about writing and about how, even if someone says that their story is rubbish, they shouldn't give up. I mean, where would we be now if we all quit after our first writing failures?

At first I was worried that my niece had made me out to be an international best seller to her teacher (one can dream, lol) but when my sister intervened and explained who I was, she was still more than happy to have me. Turns out I'm a perfect candidate to talk about not giving up - after writing 16 novels and only having one

Anyway, I shall let you know how I get on later (for some unknown reason, I feel more nervous talking to this bunch on 10 year olds than I did talking to adults at our book launch. Is that normal??).

Friday 9 December 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Carina Nebula

On This Day, December 9th 1965 the Kecksburg UFO Incident occurred. A huge fireball was witnessed by thousands as it passed over at least six U.S states before presumably crash landing in Pittsburgh. Of course, eye-witness accounts tell one story and official accounts tell another. Who knows what the object was.

But because of this, I've decided today's Pic of the Week should be space themed.

I'm so intrigued with the wonders of the universe. What's out there? Is there life? No one knows. But the recent discovery of Earth-like planets is slowly leaning the argument towards the 'yeeeeaaaaahhh...there could be' side. I believe there is. There's so much going on out there that I find it hard to believe we are the only inhabited planet. I'm not talking 'little green men' who like to abduct people and stick places, just the idea that somewhere out there in the dark yonder is another planet with content little beings blogging away - or maybe not.

Anyway, today's Pic of the Week isn't the usual work of art I normally post. It's a photo of the Carina Nebula taken by NASA back in April 2010 and displayed in their Astronomy Picture of the Day gallery. I think this is amazing, and the idea that it's still brewing up there is phenomenal.

Check out their Website for the scientific jargon that goes with it.

In the meantime, enjoy and have a fab week.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Opening Sentences . . .

A friend of mine brought up a subject last night regarding opening sentences. He wanted, in our opinion, an example of a bad opening sentence. Of course, off the top of our heads we couldn't think of one - but a few good ones did come to mind.

The opening sentence is usually the hardest part to write for a writer, especially a noob who is sitting at their desk with a blank page, wanting to start something that'll make them their fortune (they'll find out the hard truth in their own time). They can envisage a whole story before their very eyes; they know their characters, know their setting, know their predicaments - but what words do they use to introduce them all? How do you write that all important first sentence?

There are many ways you can start a book off. This all depends on your story and how you want to tell it. For me, I like sentences that drop you in it. As soon as you open the first page, you're chin deep in action. With many action scenes, one of the best ways to keep the tension is by using short sentences, so my opening sentences are pretty short.

“Get those god-damn sails in!”

These are the very firsts words to my current WIP. It's an order so instantly you know you're smack bang in the middle of something. The use of the words 'god-damn' kind of indicate the speakers frustration, and the exclamation mark tells of the order's importance (at least that's what I hope it portrays).

For me, I like the shorter opening sentence, but lets look a random few from some randomly selected and successful authors:

1: A whispered name.

A ghostly whisper fit for James Herbert's novel 'Haunted'.

2: The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp.

Okay, it puts you in the middle of something ferocious, but the opening sentence to Robert Ludlow's 'The Bourne Identity' is a tad long for my preference. Fantastic read though.

3: The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

A fantastic opening to one of my all-time favourite reads, 'The Dark Tower' by Stephen King.

4: I am the vampire Lestat.

Anne Rice's character introduces himself immediately in her novel 'The Vampire Lestat' - another good read.

5: Norma ran.

Instantly you're thrown into the action in Rod Rees's first novel 'The Demi-Monde: Winter (yet another good read. Go check his blog out).

6: There was a smattering of applause as Malcolm Fox entered the room.

Hmmm...what has Malcolm done to warrant this applaud. Ian Rankin's 'The Complaints'.

7: A killer stalked the shadows.

Is he? Who is he and will he succeed? Jon Sprunk's 'Shadow's Son'. Can't wait to finally read the sequel, 'Shadow's Lure'.

8: Once...Upon...A...death, when life for Thom Kindred was fading fast and his inner eyes, the eyes that focused from his soul, were already dazzled by the shining way ahead (was the brilliance approaching him, or was he approaching it? he wondered in a curiously detached way), when his twenty-seven years apparently were drawing to a close, something occurred that halted the untimely rush.

Hmm hmmm...never noticed this when I read James Herbert's 'Once'. Despite thoroughly enjoying the read way back when I read it, I never realised how long this opening sentence was.

James Herbert is a successful author of horror and well established in his field. The fact that opening sentences like these get published every day proves that I'm speaking of personal preference here. If you've started your novel with a gripping sentence that is as long as your arm, great - if it works. But I still prefer the shorter stuff...

Friday 2 December 2011

Pic of the Week . . . On This Day

I was struggling for a theme for today's Pic of the Week, so I thought I might introduce an 'On This Day' theme, just for those Fridays when I'm stuck. Today is just one of those days - so here goes with the first 'On This Day'.

It was on this day (December 2nd) in 1804 that Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of France, the first Emperor France had seen in a thousand years. Now, Napoleon isn't the inspiration for today (don't panic), but the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the place where he crowned himself, is. This reminded me of the Disney film 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'.

I admit, I'm a sucker for Disney, and the 'Hunchback' is one of my favourites. The whole Gypsy culture from it actually inspired a hell of a lot for my last novel 'Kiss of the Gypsy'. It's got a lot to answer for.

Anyway, I've just discovered that the film - even the ones made as far back as the 1960's, is completely different from the original book written by Victor Hugo. Apparently (and don't take what I say as gospel. I haven't read it) Esmeralda is hanged at the end and Quasimodo then lays next to her body, refuses to leave her and starves to death. It's all very tragic - and a far cry from Disney's happy ending.

So, today's Pic of the Week is a piece inspired from the film. What drew me to this picture is the bold colour that surrounds Esmeralda and her gypsy life, as opposed to the dullness of everyday Paris life.

And that's enough waffling from me. Here's the pic.