Onward and Upward

Essential Writing Support

It’s a sunny day here in Luxembourg. The heatwave has eased, the rain has stopped, and it’s perfect weather for sitting out on the patio and pouring thoughts and words into my laptop.

I started looking through my Scrivener folder of “Unfinished Works“. More accurately, it should be called, “Started and Stalled“.

Some authors struggle to find ideas. I’m of the other type: story ideas constantly tumble through my mind, especially when I’m in the middle of redrafting a story. (I HATE redrafting.) So I type out a few notes in my “Unfinished Works” folder and get back to the task in hand.

(It also happens when I’m swimming, which is a terrible time to get an idea as my iPhone is not waterproof!)

Every now and again, I look through my Unfinisheds to see if there’s anything worth developing. It’s usually an unfulfilling task. I find sketches, first lines or paragraphs, or even whole chapters that lead nowhere I can follow – yet. Worse, I find the plots of movies and novels released AFTER I noted down the original idea. I really wish I had one of those author mind-reading gadgets!

But sometimes I strike gold! Today, I managed to fill out and reach a (to me) satisfying conclusion for two short stories. (Now I have to do the redrafting…) Major sci-fi authors have advice…

  • Golden era writer Isaac Asimov’s advice was to finish what you write, submit it, write another. He also advocated writing every day, whether you feel like it or not.
  • Ray Bradbury wrote a story every week on the basis that you can’t write fifty-two bad stories in a year. (Hmmm… not too sure about that applying to everyone!)
  • Stephen King promotes writing for four hours every day and reading for the same amount of time. (Not easy if you’re holding down a job with a commute…)

As for the authors without storyline-polluted brains, I do sympathize.

In FaceBook’s many writing-related groups, I often see posts from would-be authors asking for plot ideas or even character names. Without an overview of the story, this is impossible to provide as a character’s name should fit the:-

  1. historical period (and social class)
  2. culture (and age of the character in that culture as popularity changes)
  3. geographical location
  4. gender (usually)
  5. etc…

And (of course) it should match the tone of the story and hint at the character’s personality. Ariel “BuzzBrain” Starfighter is a different starship captain than Kurt Stone and in a different type of story.

Picasso said, “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” So steal an idea from a successful novel/movie/TV series and write it your own way. After all, the “Shades of Grey” series began as “Twilight” fan fiction, and “Fifty SHEDS of Grey” was a modestly-successful parody.

Anyways…

Back to redrafting… YAY!

Hmm… or maybe I’ll take my own advice for once? I’ll rework in my own way those stories copied in advance by other famous writers! Onward and upward!

Meanwhile, whatever you’re reading right now – ENJOY!

 

Mid-Year Thoughts

Here we go again, sliding past the year’s halfway point – the longest day (or the shortest day if you’re Down Under).

The Earth just clocked-up another 470 million km (282 million miles) – a half orbit of the sun – since a cold and snowy December 31st. And what’s changed? Continue reading

Final Flight and Win-A-Kindle

 


 I’ve finally had to admit it. I’m over-committed.

I never planned to spam my blog followers with daily ramblings. Twice or thrice a month would suffice. But I’m down to one post a month.

So I changed the tagline in my posts to “An occasional blog”. Truth is good. (Unless, of course, you’re a politician of any persuasion.)

So why am I swamped? Continue reading

Struggling Author


It’s been a long month.

Apart from the usual writerly stuff (you know, the stuff a writer thinks s/he’s going to be doing like… er… writing) authors across the world have been struggling with Amazon‘s widespread and apparently random deletion and blocking of reviews and trying to navigate the European Union’s new GDPR law.

Read on… Continue reading

Happy News/Strange News


Happy News #1

Had a great time at the UK’s annual Sci-Fi and Fantasy Convention (Follycon) in Harrogate. Met some old friends and made some new ones. Learned a lot and had a few new ideas sparked. Delighted to say that my friend David Allan got his first publishing contract. Congrats, David!

Happy News #2

The final part of my sci-fi trilogy (Janus Arrival: Journey’s End) was released on April 1st and sales are very satisfying. I’m already at work on my next book. Continue reading

Back Home


Turning Worlds

So much catching up to do now my I’m back home! The world just keeps on turning, even if I’m not watching it. (Quantum physicists are invited to comment below on that observation.)

Distribution Channels

My novels’ distribution network continues to grow effortlessly! I use the Mention app to notify me if my name or my book titles appear on anyone’s web pages. No, it’s not an ego issue, it’s… professional… market awareness… all that stuff.

Anyway, Mention notified me that while I was on vacation, Continue reading

Road Trip, Trilogies & Good News


Some of you might have noticed a long silence from me.

Many will be grateful.

But now I’m back!

I just spent the whole of October on a road trip covering New England in the Fall and a batch of Canadian cities. Exhausted!

If you want to visit New England in the Fall, you just have to go in the Fall. And I highly recommend it. Stunning views!

Do note, however, that half the small-town New England service industry shuts down after Columbus Day. October is “out of season”. Er… “New England in the Fall”… Fall? You know, that period just AFTER Summer? A period that usually includes October? Ah, well. It’s their cash flow.

Anyway, it’s hard to blog while driving or striding through russeting forests. (Yeah, I made that word up.) So I took a blog vacation.

On my return, I had to catch up with all my snail mail (yes, people still use that in Europe, especially governments and other people wanting money from you). Then I surveyed my “TO DO” list. It was too long, so I set it aside and took up my “REALLY URGENT TO DO” list, which was a little shorter.

First up has to be a final revision of the last volume of my Janus Paradisi TrilogyJANUS ARRIVAL. I hope to send it out to beta readers in a couple of weeks for editing and publication towards year-end.

Yes, I know Christmas is a lousy time to publish, but part two came out in April and I owe it to my existing readers to bring the saga to a conclusion soon. It will help them sleep at night, without worrying about how my oppressed characters are faring, out there in the deep beyond.

GOOD NEWS!

While I was away, I found praise winging my way on the InterWebs!

First up: A full-page article from Scifibook Review

If you like science fiction, you should be reading Sheron’s blog. I was delighted to see such a respected reviewer commenting favorably on my work. Many thanks!

Next: Another couple of particularly glowing 5-star reviews on Amazon. Writers love reviews, even if they aren’t all 5-star, so do a writer a favor and post a review of the best book you read this year, no matter who wrote it. Thank you on their behalf.

Oh, and a belated Happy Halloween to you all.

Whichever way you consumed your pumpkins (in coffee, beer, cheesecake, soup, sandwiches, cupcakes…), I hope you enjoyed them!

PARADISI CHRONICLES & NEWS


NEW MUST-HAVE PARADISI CHRONICLES RELEASES (details below)

As my regular readers know, my JANUS PARADISI series takes place in an open-source sci-fi universe. A what?

Essentially, a group of authors agreed on the backstory and main features of a time and place where all action will occur, then write their own stories within those parameters.

These stories can be from any sub genre (hard sci-fi, space opera, fantasy, romance, whatever), as long as they stick to the overall parameters, such as planet names and environments, technology, history, and so on. They can use other writers’ characters (with permission), usually giving them walk-on parts, or referring to great events in other writer’s stories. Continue reading

The Price of Fame

Beware Book Pirates!

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been running an Instafreebie promotion (where science fiction readers sign up to my newsletter and receive a free copy of my novel, “FACES OF JANUS“).

Then Google Alerts notified me that the novel was available on a few pirate sites. I checked and found that one site claimed not only to have my novels but also every anthology I ever was published in. Some charge for their copies (and keep the income). Others hand out copies for free. Forever.

I explored a few pirate sites’ extensive book lists. Some of these pirates claim to have as many ebooks as Amazon! Most likely, these were cover shots only and downloaders would get a nice virus instead of my book. (Be warned!)

As my free offer was limited in time and scope, I was at first unhappy about this. But I decided to ignore it, because… Continue reading

Snippets

KINDLE/NOOK AND NOVELS GIVEAWAY COMPETITION

The contest I announced last week is now over and the winners’ names will be released next week. So keep those fingers crossed.

REVERSALS

(Apologies to followers who received a draft copy of this post, sent in error last week. And this contains an update.)

It’s well known that book reviews are important to readers making buying choices. My two Janus Paradisi novels enjoyed a straight flush of 5-star reviews and I was a happy man!

Of course, I’m eager for more reviews and took a look to see if I’d garnered any. I found the opposite: a whole bunch of reviews had vanished.

Of course, I queried this with Amazon: no reply.

I queried again: no reply – for a few days.

Then came the good news: Amazon reinstated those reviews after investigating. Thank you, Zon!

I want to make it clear that I strongly approve of Amazon’s campaign to stamp out fake and bought reviews that boost a rich author’s lousy book to top position, misleading book-buyers. I guess I was just collateral damage, but anyways, Amazon refunded me the stars and so now I’m happy again.

An author friend suggested I’d drawn attention by being a new author with 100% 5-star reviews. So now I’m hoping for a few 4-stars… although it feels odd to be wanting worse reviews to enhance credibility and sales.

Ah, well. Such is the modern world.

SUCCESS STORY: DAVID BRADLEY

I had to mention this. You have to hand it to this guy: following a long list of acting appearances including the Harry Potter movies, Captain America, and Broadchurch, he’s been in both Game of Thrones and Dr. Who.

Well done, that man! And he’s from Yorkshire! Just like me.

So we’ll be looking for his appearance in Westworld soon?

Happy reading, until next time.