How I Started Off As An Author

How I Started Off As An Author

A friend of mine last week suggested I might let people know how I started off as an author. I’m dubious myself as to anyone will have an interest/care/ever read this, but here goes…

One of my earliest memories of writing was as a child in school, taking a story idea in a project I was doing with a friend, and being told halfway through that I really needed to make it simpler…at twenty five pages (yes, twenty five whole pages!) it was quite a bit longer than anyone else’s in the class. Got a gold star, mind.

In my early teens I started a fantasy novel (by this point I was addicted to the novels of David Gemmell, David Eddings, Raymond E Feist, Katherine Kerr and of course, the late, great Terry Pratchett),and I think I actually managed to write about twenty thousand words or so before being distracted by the things that teenage boys get distracted by…that novel probably died along with the hard drive of the Windows 3.11 computer it was written on. Although now I think about it, there may have been some legs in the storyline, I might revisit that at a later date.

I remained a voracious reader, but didn’t write again until my early twenties, when I managed to complete a novel, A Coward’s Tale, again a fantasy novel, one where the main protagonist was a coward. Imaginatively titled, eh? I was fairly proud of this one, but in hindsight it was really not that good. Great practice, though, for the hours and hours and hours of dedication needed to actually sit down on a regular basis and complete a whole novel, start to finish.

Finally, while on holiday quite a several few years ago, I was lounging by the pool and came up with the basic idea for my first novel, Realmborn. A young man, on holiday, whisked to an alternate dimension, of which it turns out he is the long lost king and only chance of survival against a ruthless alien enemy…I scribbled down the basics, and when I got back home I wrote the first chapter. I then wrote down some notes in CAPITAL LETTERS underneath for the next chapter. And then some for the next. And the next. Before I knew it I had worked most of the night, but I had a whole storyline in note form, all built off the basic concept I had come up with by the pool. My mission became to expand each section of notes into a chapter, occasionally adding more notes as ideas occurred to me, but basically sticking to what I had written down.

Took me just shy of six years. In my defence a lot of life occurred in that period, including parenthood for the first time, and Realmborn was put to one side for quite large periods of time. But never forgotten, not completely. I came back to it with a passion a couple of years ago, stuck to it, and created a true fantasy epic, 220,000 words and a book big enough to serve as a weapon in the case of a home invasion.

I tried the literary agency route but, as any aspiring author will tell you, it is notoriously difficult to get published that way. Then someone suggested I try self-publishing on Amazon.  investigated, found out it was actually fairly simple, and not only that there are companies out there who will help you do the legwork, and then help market the book for you…for a price. I paid that price, and I am so glad I did. Realmborn made back the initial outlay within two months, and now a year or so on has done well enough that I have taken the plunge to focus on writing full time, and am hoping my second novel, Silver Soldiers, will do as well. If it does I have a third novel almost completed, a sci-fi actioner called Metal Blade, almost ready to go, and will release that on an unsuspecting world soon.

Having found my voice (that sounds really pretentious, sorry, I don’t know how else to say it) with Realmborn I found that the entire writing process had become easier. Same basic principle, come up with a central theme, idea or character (the main character in Silver Soldiers was dreamt up while I was out running), write the first chapter, complete the rest of the novel in note form (in CAPITAL LETTERS of course), then flesh it out chapter by chapter. Sounds simple, requires quite a bit of dedication and midnight oil burning, but so far I have felt that intense feeling of achievement at having created something real twice over, so as far as I’m concerned it is well worth the lack of sleep it brings with it. And I look forward to that sense of achievement for a third time soon…then a fourth and a fifth, and so on and so on until I run out of words or people stop wanting to read them.

Of course, this whole model kind of relies on people buying my novels, so please do feel free to, details on the relevant pages on this website. Go on, they’re pretty good, promise!

I hope if anyone with a passion for writing who has read this finds something useful in it, if not at least entertaining, and I thank you all for your attention and interest. Going by the stats on my previous few posts, all five of you.

Right, chapter 19 done, blogging done, time for a beer.

Stay Frosty, People.

Planning for the Future

Planning for the Future

When I was leaving my job I was fortunate enough to have a really good group of friends there who made my parting gift something suitable, appropriate and thoughtful, a beautiful, leather-bound, cotton paged notebook for me to use in my new career.

As you can see I am yet to write in it, partly due to the breakneck pace at which I’m writing at the moment, and partly because when I do write in it I want to make sure I get it right. This is not the sort of book you want to just scribble in!

I do have a plan, though. My plan is to put an idea for a novel on each page of this beautiful tome, and a tick next to each when I’ve written them. So far I can very definitely write the first two pages (including a tick) with the details of my first two novels, and the third page can be filled out as the next book is already 50% completed (and mapped out in note format all the way to the conclusion) and I can put ideas down for at least another four pages/books that are my next projects. But what really excites me is the idea of coming up with something and then immediately getting it down on paper. As opposed to what I’ve done many times in the past, had an idea, thought it sounded really promising, then forgotten about it a week later when I tried to recall details…

Generally I have a single idea, a good character, or a particular situation, or a finale that I think would be amazing to write, and I build the rest of the book around that. Adding in supporting characters, a villain, a quest/mission/objective, fleshing out the original idea until it is a real story. I’ll write the first chapter, or sometimes the first two or three, and then add in the rest of the story in note format in sections written in CAPITAL LETTERS underneath. I then flesh out a section at a time from notes to prose, sometimes changing things as I go, but mostly sticking to the notes I’ve written.

An architect rather than a gardener.

So from now on I fully intend to write down each and every promising idea that pops into this old noggin of mine, and I will strive to turn each and every one of them into an entertaining page turner. And when each of them becomes a bestseller (as they obviously will, he says with a confidence borne of sheer delusion) I am going to go back to my old colleagues, and take them all out for a celebratory drink. Watch this space, I’ll hopefully be able to show that I am filling those pages very soon.

Oh, and a friend of mine suggested I bore you all with y process/journey as a writer, which I will make the subject of this online ramble in the next few days.

Stay Frosty, People.

To procrastinate or not to procrastinate, that is the question…

To procrastinate or not to procrastinate, that is the question…

…whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous dedication, or to take arms against a sea of distractions, and by opposing, end them.

OK, I’m no Bard, but I think that sums up my day quite nicely. I did spend a great deal of my afternoon and evening attempting to ignore all the little things that can get in the way of powering through and reaching the goal you’ve set yourself.

There was washing up to be done. Would my mind be more at ease and creative if this minor chore had been taken care of? I’ll never know how creative I would have been if it wasn’t done, because I did in fact scrub those dishes, telling myself I was thinking of a good opening while I scrubbed…

OK, sat down, ready to write. Wait! I don’t have a coffee! Must have a coffee by my side to write. Back to the kitchen I went.

One of my best friends called. Do I ignore the call, and appear rude? No, no, that would be unthinkable. Can’t be rude to one of the people who always faithfully buys a hard copy of my books (and has in fact done so for my recently released Silver Soldiers, so I’m glad I took the call). Still, another twenty minutes of potential writing time gone.

Three paragraphs in, I look up, wondering how to start the next paragraph. I see my guitar. Realise it has been a while since I played…one or two songs can’t  hurt, can they? Might even get the old creative juices flowing, art feeding art and all that. Another forty five minutes disappeared.

Right, time to get serious. An hour of solid writing occurs, I am flying, I am dedicated, I am a writer! Of rubbish. Reading it back I realise it has the wrong voice for the character whose point of view I am trying to portray. In a fit of pique I select the last hour’s work and press Delete.

Stop. Pause. Take a breath. I stepped away, moved to a different room, got my mind a thousand miles away from futuristic bounty hunters, assassins and the sudden absence of sharp, witty dialogue in my brain, and smiled for the first time that afternoon. Afternoon became evening, and suddenly there it was. The opening lines I’d been looking for, the voice of the character I wanted to come alive on the pages, the humour and “me-ness” that had been missing from y previous hour’s distracted work.

The chapter flowed, and I maintained my Chapter a Day work rate. It was a close run thing, though…

Today’s reward went to my frequent writing companion Wade, pictured above. He told me to take a break, and he was right. Actually what he said was “let’s go the pub and sort all this wordy stuff out when we’ve had a few, yeah?”, but I got what he meant. Sometimes it’s ok to walk away from your beloved project and relax for a bit.

I think I’m learning as I go, with this whole authoring thing. And what I learned today was that sometimes, no matter how hard you push yourself, you should just step back and allow the procrastination to happen. You’ll feel better for it. And the dishes will be clean.

Till next time, Stay Frosty, People.

Hey look at that, 2 days in a row…

Hey look at that, 2 days in a row…

OK, so I did it, I managed to not shut my tablet down after finishing a chapter, remembering to leave it on to update my blog. Hurrah, well done me!

13 days, 13 chapters, somewhere between a third and halfway through my third novel, Metal Blade. There are times when I find myself wondering if pushing myself so hard will be worth it, if anyone is ever going to read my novels, and on such occasions I try to remind myself that they already have. My first book, Realmborn, did pretty well, and got some really positive comments from readers across the globe, but was it a fluke? Having launched my second novel, Silver Soldiers, onto an unsuspecting world a few days ago I have been increasingly dispirited to see only a few electronic versions of this work I am so proud of flying off Amazon’s virtual shelves…it’s been disappointing to say the least.

And then today I received my first review for Silver Soldiers from someone I don’t know/am related to, thankfully it was a very positive one, and suddenly faith was restored. People will read it, they will leave reviews, and it is very definitely worth me persisting with my breakneck pace as long as the quality doesn’t deteriorate.  And so I am rewarding myself, this time with a glass of wine (no, my rewards to myself are not always alcoholic beverages) and an episode of the Walking Dead. I am assuming that if I continue to burn the midnight oil at the rate I am going then I will run the risk of looking like something Rick Grimes might stab through the brain, but I will also potentially finish novel number 3 by the middle of April…I think it’s a risk worth taking.

So, wine and zombie TV for me, hope everyone else out there has had as productive a day as I have.

As always, Stay Frosty, People.