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Another writer in the family

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erinbookLooks like I’m not the only writer in my little clan. My daughter, who started showing a huge reading and writing interest from quite an early age (She reads far more than I do) has managed to write her own book. It’s a short story anthology grouping some of the little gems that she has written over the last year or so.
Hey, maybe I’m not destined to be a famous writer, but the FATHER of one?
How cool would that be?

And no this isn’t available publicly. Signed personal copies only to friends, family and teachers at her school. She’s only nine and she is no way ready for the harshness that is indie publishing.

New Year. Strange day. Late news.

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And so this has been the strangest day of my life so far.
The kiddies are out with grandparents, and I just sat all day in front of my computer, tapping out new words added to the new “Thrownaway” (Tentative title) serial novel, and it’s coming along very nicely.
My first official day, at home, as a full time writer.
Cripes. This is weird as hell. Fun. But very, very strange.

Anyway. I suppose a new years update is due, like, five days ago. So I’ll do that now.

“Arisen” readers – don’t fret! We’ve taken a short while (until March I think) off from the series to work on other stuff, just as a short break, but realistically to put together our ideas and brainstorm for what is effectively the second half of the series. We know where it’s going, sort of, and we know what’s next, sort of, and you’ll get the next book in a few months.

“Displaced” readers – You’ve waited ages! Well, the good news is I’m basically half way through the next book, and halfway through another “next” book. The bad news is I’m not sure which is really “next”. As soon as I sort that out I’ll finish and publish the next in the series. Again, like Arisen, just a few months away.

My new project – Tentatively called “Thrown Away” is set a few hundred years after major disasters (of a currently unspecified kind) destroyed the world as we know it, except that it was the world a hundred years from now. Ruined cities cover the planet and are magnitudes bigger than the cities we know today. And it starts with one man, a loner by nature, meeting a little boy desperately in need of help.
It was inspired one day, not too long ago, by me standing in front of my son, telling him off for drawing on something he wasn’t meant to draw on, and then realising that it was in fact me that was the bad one, making a big fuss over something really not that important. An hour later (me and son now happily sitting next to each other playing plants vs zombies and the telling off incident forgotten) and the same image re-appeared in my head, fully fleshed out, but in a totally different setting, and one that really brought home to me how futile the whole thing is, or was, and how it is so easy to forget what’s important, and that we should think before it’s too late. I had to write it. So I have been.

Other news!
I’ve signed with Podium Publishing to do audio versions of Arisen, which is wicked. I’m dead excited about this.
Also we’re currently in discussions with a paperback publisher about a possible deal there. No further news on that until something is solid!
I’ve also got a Dark Fantasy collaboration project planned with a very cool writer, for later in the year.
And lastly, yet another secret, secret project that is so secret I’m not even meant to tell you it’s secret.
More soon.

James herbert

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jamesherbertcreedThere is a row of books on top of one of the shelves in my little library (it’s actually not that small any more) that I’ve owned for a very, very long time. They are all paperbacks and all dusty, discoloured and cracked and that’s just how they should be considering how many times I’ve read them.

The shelf is right at the top of my horror collection, and every book on that shelf has the name James Herbert on it.

I often attribute the beginning of my interests in writing to “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson, and that would be the first book that struck a note, but it is by no means the only one.

I haven’t read a James Herbert novel for a good few years, but I do have a brand new copy of every unread release sitting on another shelf (my “unread” shelf) just waiting for me. One day I will read them all.

You entertained millions with your crazy stories and influenced many to take up the pen and follow you. It’s sad to look at my book shelf and think that there won’t be another book to add to it.

RIP James Herbert.

This time it will be different.

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Last year I was absolutely rubbish.

I published so little during that twelve months that I’m disgusted with myself. I can’t even give a good reason as to why it happened. I released only one book myself – the third book of the displaced, and a co-authored two other books with Michael Stephen Fuchs. Now, I’m not saying that I’m unhappy with what I did manage to write. I’m pleased with the third DotD book, and VERY pleased with the Arisen series so far, I’m just incredibly disappointed with myself for not finishing more.

I started and did not finish seven other books in 2012. They are all still sitting there waiting for me to go back to them, along with about two hundred others that I’ve accumulated over the years and also left unfinished, so I haven’t really lost a lot of time, but I made a decision at the beginning of last year that I would put out more books than ever, and didn’t achieve that. That needs to change this year.

Ironically enough, the amount of sales success I’ve had from what I did finish has been phenomenal. The Diary series continues to sell well, and Arisen book sales are way off the clock, having hit the best-seller lists and stayed there, and are STILL there.

So this year I’m going to get my head into gear.
This year we will see Arisen 3 (I’m just about to get rolling on that and Michael is already a leap ahead of me), and also at least book four of the Diary series, hopefully five and six as well. This depends on whether other books demand to be written first.

I also have a new novel to write, which may or may not be published by a traditional publisher. No more details here yet, but you’ll get to read it regardless.

I’m not going to be daft and put some prohibitive and over optimistic word count per day over my head, but I’m determined to get back to being prolific, as I was in 2011. No, I don’t think I can hit the same level I did that year, but damn it, I can try.

The end is not the end.

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Just a few answers for the people who have asked, and I’m surprised at how many of you there are now!

The Corridor IS the last the current Diary of the Displaced series, but I never said to anyone that we would never be hearing from James, DogThing and friends ever again. I’m far too invested in those characters to just leave it at that.

I already have some ideas for a second series, but that is all at the moment. I need more than just an idea to open a new word document and start typing.

Plus, I have a collaboration project in the new year, with a very good friend and one of my favourite authors – Michael Stephen Fuchs – http://michaelfuchs.org/razorsedge/. I’m very excited and nervous about this, having never written with someone else before, and to working with someone so talented, and the book we are going to write is something quite out of both of our comfort zones. Basically take the zombie apocalypse and add in fast action, deadly and adrenaline rush special ops comabt. Yeah, Delta force and the SAS are gonna take on the zombies! It was an idea/plot I had a while ago and I knew that the action scenes would require a little more than my writing skills when it comes to combat and certain elements of fast action thriller. So, I threw the question at Michael, who writes techno/modern warfare thrillers (they are awesome, did I mention that?), expecting a polite, “You’re a mate, but” answer. But I was surprised when he said, hell yeah, why not? This should be fun.

I never write one thing at once, that is why even a 50k novel that should be written in a month, often takes three. During that time a lot of other stuff gets written.

There are about ten unfinished novels, over a hundred unfinished short stories, and the Joe Dean series, all of which in my opinion deserve to be finished, added to, published etc.

On top of this, there is The Riverfall series, The Whispering Coast Series, and two more “maybe” series that I will be looking at launching in the new year/soon. They are “maybe” because they are out of my normal genre, so I’m still considering them.

All in all I have a whole heap of fun stuff that I want to write.

Somewhere in the middle of all that lot I will spring a new series of James & DogThing books upon you, I promise I will, but I don’t know when.

There is also a follow up tale to “At Last, Goodbye.” It’s part done.

There is also a story narrated by Bailey, Joe dean’s friend, that is also part done.

And lastly, I also have a story that is unfinished that has the maw as the only characters, yes, a story narrated by a maw. And it may or may not be set in a rather dark place at the same time that a certain man was trying to survive on fizzy coke and mushrooms, and it may or may not be narrated by a particularly young maw that a lot of you are fond of…coming soon.

The 10,000 word day (unfortunately not mine!)

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Zoe winters has posted (and recently updated) a blog post about achieving what a lot of people consider to be “the impossible”, as in a 10,000 word day. Yes, ten thousand written words in one day…

The most I’ve ever managed so far is 4,500 words in a single day, and my brain was so befuddled that I had to go and lie down for half an hour before going to the pub (my family was away for the weekend).

Have a read of the article. I plan to increase my words per day in the new year, but I’m not quite ready for that!

http://zoewinters.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-10000-word-day/

I wonder what H P Lovecraft would have thought…

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When I was about eight years old a very good friend of mine introduced me to a game called The Call of Cthulhu. A roleplaying game using the cheapest 4k monitor. For those of you that don’t know what one of those is, I suggest you go look it up.

At the time I had become an avid reader, but it was limited to kid’s books and comics. I hadn’t yet ventured into the world of adult novels. I was only eight.

Anyway, this friend probably didn’t realise it at the time but he introduced me to something that would shape my interests for years to come, to be honest it was that introduction that was the first step towards the day when I started writing my own stories.

I was still in junior school, and another friend at school had an older brother in the high school next door. We used to sneak out there during lunch breaks and wander down into the town with them. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be out of school, but you know how it is, that made it all the more exciting.

Well, we’d wander into the town and hang around in the churchyard, and one day when we were there I noticed that just across the way was the library. I hadn’t been in there before (that I could remember) and told my friend I’d be back soon.

I wandered into the library and went up and down the aisles. I must admit I was looking for comics, of which none could be found, but what I did find was a whole section on horror books, and smack in the middle was a bunch of H P Lovecraft novels. I remembered the name being mentioned by my Call of Cthulhu playing friend and decided to have a quick look.

I didn’t have a library card with me at the time (had one at home, though), ┬áso I sat in an alcove reading one of the books for about half an hour before realising I was probably very late getting back for school.

The next day I took the library card with me. It took me hours to find it in amongst the junk in my bedroom. At lunch, again, I headed into the library, and ten minutes later came out with five books. Four of which were H P Lovecraft, and the other was the book sitting next to them on the shelf. “I am legend” by Richard Matheson.

I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you how fast I devoured those books. Anyone who is a fan of either author knows exactly what I mean by that.

That was my introduction to horror, to Cthulhu, and the start of a reading addiction that has spread out into many different authors and genres, but I always go back to those first two. If ever I’m short of something to read I go to the Lovecraft books on my shelf, or the Matheson ones. They never wear out.

Not long ago, I sat with my wife watching a new film (at the time) ΓÇô Cloverfield. I’m quite the J J Abrams fan and that was the newest thing he’d released.

I’d seen the trailers and followed the build up to the release, but daft as it may seem I hadn’t seen the Lovecraft influences in it until I actually watched the film. Now, Abrams has openly admitted to being a Stephen King fan, and King has always spoken highly of Lovecraft , but it wasn’t until I walked away from that film and started thinking about it and realised just how profound an influence Lovecraft has had on so many people.

Think about it. How many horror writers do you know of that list his name as their biggest influence? Is that nearly all of them? If not then look at what their influences are and you’ll find a list of writers that were.

How many of those writers wrote books that were turned into the films that we watch? And music ΓÇô yes even music. If you are a Metallica fan then you you’ll know which songs I’m talking about. Cripes, Lovecraft was even on scoobie-doo once.

This guy wrote a whole bunch of strange tales that were slated at the time as crazy, but his words touched those who have influenced culture and media ever since. It makes me wonder what he would make of it all. I mean back then, when he was writing his stories, he would have no idea of how much of an influence he would have on the lives of future generations.

Back then, when I was eight and reading his books for the first time when I probably shouldn’t have been. I thought they were crazy. I still think they are, and I think a lot of the books and films written by writers who grew up on his writing are pretty mad as well and I love them for it.

I wonder if Lovecraft would think they were crazy too?

And to think that I nearly stopped writing!

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I’ve written all my life, to some degree. Fantasy, scifi, horror, romance, comedy etc. Yes, I’ve written roughly thirty unfinished novels in pretty much every genre that exists. I never took it seriously, you see, never thought any of it was any good. Until 2007.

I started writing the original Diary of the Displaced that year. I wrote what was to become the first eight “episodes” in about 2 months and put them up online for anyone and everyone to read. I also sent out about thirty emails to publishers and agents at the time spouting about how I was writing this book, and would they be interested in taking a look at it. I guess at the time I failed to look at the guidelines for a lot of them, I was all too excited about what I was writing.

Of course, what this resulted in was a year later and I’d recieved no replies at all. I also didn’t pay attention to the stats for the website that I created for the book, otherwise I may not have given up. After about a year of what felt like “nothing” I did what so many others have dones. I gave up. I lost heart. I’d written some more of the book, but I never bothered to put it online. What I originally thought was a cracking idea for a novel – maybe even a series – can’t have been that good.

I also stopped writing for the first time in my life. The writer’s career, that dream, was officially over.

Until november 2010.

For two years I hadn’t written a single word. Nothing. Nadda. I didn’t have it in me any more. Then, one day in November, I got an email from my webhost provider saying that www.diaryofthedispalced.co.uk was now due for renewal after two years. Had it really been that long? I went onto my hosting package client thingy and was about to click on the “Don’t renew” button.

Something stopped me. To this day I don’t know what it was. Maybe curiousity.

I went into my email program and looked into the accounts. I’d never even added the email address there. I’d never collected the email from my diary of the displaced email account. oh, well, I thought. May as well have a peek at it before I get rid of the domain name. I’m not paying for something I’m never going to use.

So. I added the details for the email account, after faffing around because I couldn’t remember the password, and finally hit “send and receive”.

Nothing happened. The little indicator for how many email were being collected just sat there frozen. Sigh. Oh well. I went outside for a cigarette and came back five minutes later. Maybe the program had frozen?

No it hadn’t it was on 10% collected, after five minutes. And the inbox said 2100 unread messages. Spam? must be spam I thought. Crikey can you really pick up that much spam on an email address over 2 years?

Turns out most of it was spam, but nearly 4000 of the 20,000 ish emails were from folks saying that they liked the book. When was the next episode coming out? Are you still writing this? Have you vanished? hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people had emailed me over the two years since I posted those first episodes.

Some people had been waiting for two years for the next episode!
(Is it too late to apologise to them now?)

It’s strange (actually no it’s not) how something like that can imediately switch the writer in you back on. From november 2010 to May 2011 I finished that book. The first book I’d ever completed in my life. These days I write about two to four pages a day (ish) and I’m now writing my sixth ebook, and I’m we’re still in 2011. In five days it will have been six months since I released the finished version of my first book. Just six months.

I do wonder if things would have been different if I hadn’t given up back then. If the lack of response from publishers and agents hadn’t put me off (How many writers stop writing because of that?), how many books could have I written in those two years? I also wonder what would have happened if I’d never collected those emails.

I guess I forgot what really mattered and was so wrapped up in my rejection from those in the business that I forgot that they actually stand for nothing without the people whose opinions really matter. That would be the readers. I’m so glad that this digital ebook boom has opened the doors that the gatekeepers kept shut for so long. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not bitter about the rejections – at least not like I was a few years ago – they are just business people looking for what they can sell. No different to any other business, I guess. I don’t really give them much of a passing thought these days and I think that in some ways I had some lessons to learn. I just write the stories, design the covers, and them put them online and two days later anyone that wants to read them can. Job done.

How to get that novel written (how I do it)

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A lot of folks have asked me how I manage to write as much as I do whilst juggling a day job and a family. Well, here’s the thing. 60k words or 90k words or 20k words for a novel or a novella sounds like one hell of a lot to write and I think a lot of folks get put off by the sheer volume that is mounted in front of them. My kids do exactly same if you put a huge plate of food in front of them. They’ll pick at it, but not eat it all. Of course, if I put a tiny plate of food down in front of them they will eat it all and ask for more, resulting in the big plate getting eaten.

Um, yeah, so, my really life changing advice for writing a novel is to eat like a kid.

Ahem.

No, really. It sounds daft doesn’t it?

Let me show you what I mean in a way that actually has a result.

I want you to sit down and write 200 words. Right now. Don’t think about it.┬áOpen “Word” or grab a pen and write 20 lines of absolute rubbish. Doesn’t matter if it’s dazzling prose, or if its utter trite (Some people say that’s what I write anyway so if it works for me…)

Don’t continue reading until you have done that.

Okay? We now have 200 words on screen or on a piece of toilet paper, or wherever you put it.  How long did it take you? Ten minutes? Five Minutes? Twenty?

Here’s the fact.

If you do that every day, this time next year you will have written enough for a 300 page novel.

200 x 365 =  73,000 = 300 (ish) page novel.

Or 3 novellas. Or a short novel and a novella.

This is something you have to do every day, including your birthday and Christmas, otherwise you will get out of the habit.

Dealing with the other issue – continuing the novel.

It’s sometimes hard to pick up where you left off. Actually, it’s always hard to jump back into that frame of mind in an instant, and how you are going to do that is by not finishing what you started each day. Yes, ignore all that “Finish what you start” stuff. You’re going to finish what you start by not finishing it every single day.

Leave your writing in mid-sentence / mid-paragraph. Leave it hanging. Try not to leave it sitting there waiting for you on at the start of a new page or a new chapter. If you leave it mid-sentence you will be in a much better place to get into your “writing mind”, because you already knew what you were going to write next, and finishing that sentence or paragraph should be enough to drag you into your writing “place”.

To give you an idea of how writing just a little bit a day can soon add up. This blog is just over 550 words long and it took me five minutes. I don’t blog every day, but if┬áI┬ádid I would have clocked up 200,000+ words every year. or three novels worth (Or ten novellas).

This works for me, working 50+ hours a week for a paper writing service, being a husband and a dad. It can also work for you.

So, to follow my own advice I’m going to finish this blog in mid…