Sunday, January 31, 2016

A new project for a new year

With the Critique Survival Guide now out in the wild, it’s time to turn to new horizons. I can finally get back to a project I’ve been longing to work on for ages - a sequel to Ghosts of Innocence.

I keep a small document where I summarize progress of projects through various stages of production. It was a shock to see that it’s been over six years since I last looked at this one. I had started it, drafted some scenes, made some notes, then set it aside to polish and publish Ghosts, then write and publish Tiamat’s Nest.

This is an exciting stage of a book. At the moment I have a lot of scattered characters and events but only the vaguest sense of direction. Looking back on my old notes I’m refreshing my memory on loads of ideas and plot twists I’d completely forgotten about, which is a strange feeling. At the same time I realize the whole story badly needs a strong boot up the ass. The high level plot and conclusion had always felt weak to me, which is one reason I set it to one side all those years ago, but I’ve now got some ideas on how to up the stakes to a more satisfying level.


Friday, January 22, 2016

The Critique Survival Guide

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/609502

Is now published.

For free!

Right now it’s available in all popular formats (Kindle, Nook, Apple etc.) on Smashwords, and is finding its way out to other online stores.

It’s also up on Amazon but they don’t allow for free books so it’s priced 99 cents (the minimum I can set there). Apparently if enough people report that it’s available free elsewhere Amazon might get around to price matching in their stores. I would welcome some help there (hint, hint)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Writing goals

*Peers out from under rock*  Is it safe to come out yet?

I don’t do New Year resolutions, and I’m not usually one for reminiscing on the year just gone, so I generally leave the blogging stage to those who like to do either or both at this time of year.

In my recent blog visits, I saw a lot of people talking about goals. This is not a post about my goals, but about goals themselves.

We hear a lot of advice about goals. Everyone says you need to set goals. If you don’t, how do you know when you’ve succeeded?

True enough. Trouble is, goals are tricky little beasts. Done right, they can motivate - which is the whole point. But done badly they can easily have the opposite effect. A poorly-considered goal can leave you feeling crushed and defeated.

No, I’m not going to start talking about SMART goals because that’s been done to death by people far more able than me. Instead, here are a few Alka-Seltzers for those January hangovers of missed targets and failed resolutions...

Know thyself: 

Some people see an impossible goal as a challenge, something to conquer. For these heroic folks, a really way-out sheer cliff face of a goal towering impossibly overhead will inspire them to efforts beyond their wildest dreams. For others, it will just give them a nosebleed.

Where do you see yourself? Choose level of difficulty accordingly.


Look beyond the goal to the outcome:  

A goal is just a means to an end, not the end itself. So, maybe your goal is to write every day. 15 minutes? A thousand words? A chapter? It doesn’t matter, that’s a measurable goal you can tell easily whether or not you’re hitting it. For some people that is enough. But if goals as such don’t inspire you then lift your sights and ask yourself why you set that goal. What is it leading to? To have the first draft of your novel by June? To have four books of a series published before you retire from the day job? To develop writing as a habit so you can overcome writer’s block more easily? If the goal itself starts feeling like drudgery, one foot in front of the other, then focus on the light on the horizon instead.

This is good for inspiration, but more fundamentally, if you have a goal but haven’t a clue what it’s leading to, then what’s the point of the goal?


Choose goals that support your outcomes:  

Related to the previous point, a goal should support the eventual outcome and not lead you away from it.

Some examples are ridiculously obvious. If your eventual aim is to finish that first draft of your novel, then setting yourself a goal of spending more time on Facebook is unlikely to get you there. Instead, setting aside an hour a day for writing sounds more like a good idea. That only works if that hour is actually used for writing. And for writing your novel. It does no good if you spend that “writing” time on endless research, or drafting and redrafting the same chapter, or writing blog posts.


Remind yourself who’s boss:  

For whose benefit are you setting goals? Who’s in charge of your life? Goals are meant to challenge you to succeed, but they are not meant to rule your life.

On the one hand, goals that are too tough, or that become unachievable as a result of unrelated events in your life, will crush you if you cling to them too tightly. Yes, they should stretch and challenge you, but not to the detriment of your health and sanity.

On the other hand, goals that are too easy will hold you back - the opposite of their purpose - if you just keep plugging away at them regardless just because that’s your goal.

Recognize when goals aren’t working and know when it’s time to revise them. Remember who’s boss.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lunching on leftovers

Sitting at home nursing a cold. Probably didn’t do myself any favors struggling into work yesterday, but I was stubbornly determined not to kick off 2016 on sick leave even though I’ve been fighting off this darned bug since Friday.

I don’t know why, but I usually feel much better after a morning’s sleep (why can’t the overnight variety work the same wonders?) and am now foraging.

Mmmmm...leftovers!

We love leftovers in this household, but this time of year especially ’Tis the Season of Leftovers.

Yes, the Christmas turkey did its traditional triple-duty, reincarnating itself with fries and salad, then as turkey noodle soup, but that’s long gone.

The remains of the New Year’s Eve Chinese vanished the following day (that never lasts long) and it looks like Ali’s taken the last of the chicken curry I cooked on Saturday. I always go out of my way to do extra these days. Should have done one more portion. Oh well...

The New Year’s Day ham reprised turkey’s act - fries and salad, then soup. There’s still ham and potato soup left but that is doing nothing for my taste buds right now.

Aha, a little bit of ham left over for sandwiches.

Screw sandwiches! Ham, egg and potato patties it is.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A writer’s Christmas wish list

Dear Santa,

I’m sorry I trashed a planet and killed all those people. I know it wasn’t very good of me and I’m probably on your naughty list, but I’d like to make a special wish list for writers everywhere.

I know you and the elves do a lot of reading up at the North Pole, in between toymaking and annual deliveries. So, if you enjoyed a good book, the best gift you can give any writer is to lead others to discover them.

Here’s a few gift ideas...


Reviews: Reviews on well-traveled sites like Amazon or Goodreads are vital for getting work noticed by a wider audience.

Social media: For example:
Right now I’m reading Revenant by Kat Richardson and really enjoying it. I’ll have to look out for more of the Greywalker novels.
There, that was easy, wasn’t it?

Word of mouth: Do you know a friend, relative, or work colleague who you honestly think would enjoy that book you just finished? Don’t keep it to yourself, mention it!

Posters: Do you have somewhere at work, at your local supermarket or bookstore or gas station where advertising is OK? Try contacting the writer and see if she has a promotional poster she can email you.

Libraries: Ask your local library to stock that book you enjoyed. All libraries I know of welcome suggestions from their community to add to their shelves.

I don’t do resolutions, but my promise for 2016 is to do more to help other writers along. I hope that makes up for at least some of the grisly deaths I’ve caused.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Book blast starts at midnight


http://www.freebookblast.com/

The page at http://www.freebookblast.com/ is now live. Books should be available free from midnight to midnight on Saturday, though exact times may vary depending on Amazon.

Check it out and pick up some free e-books. I counted 67 titles available!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Support Indie Authors - free book blast

It's the season of giving, and the good folks over at Support Indie Authors, a Goodreads group I joined this year, are hosting a free book event.

On Saturday, the 19th of December, forty authors will be offering more than fifty books in a wide variety of genres absolutely free! What better way to de-stress, decompress, and take a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays than to curl up with a good book? All of the free books will be listed on the official Book Blast website:

www.freebookblast.com

As is our tradition, each of the authors participating in the book blast has told us a little about themselves. Each name links to the author’s Goodreads profile, so feel free to give them a follow if you like what you see. Below are interviews for ten of the forty participating authors. At the end of this post are links to three other blogs with the additional thirty authors. Please be sure to visit each and thank you for continuing to #SupportIndieAuthors

Now for the first ten authors:

Name: V.M. Sawh
What genre or genres do you write in?
Historical, Western
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
CINDERS is the classic tale of Cinderella given a murderous Gothic twist. HONTAS is an ass kicking, bounty-hunting Wild West Pocahontas. Both are part of my Good Tales For Bad Dreams series of re-imagined fairy tales.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
I actually like the combination of gingersnaps and coffee crisp hot chocolate. Apple Cider is also quite nummy.
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
I would like to highlight the SPCA, as I feel animals are often the forgotten victims when hard times hit. The SPCA is there not only to provide education, insight and help for owners of our four-legged friends, but also helps save lives through adoption. I strongly urge you to consider adoption if you're looking for a pet companion. You could be saving a life. https://www.aspca.org
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?
Website: www.supportindieauthors.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VMS_author
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmsawh/
Other: https://www.pinterest.com/VMsawh/

Name: Eugene Linn
What genre or genres do you write in?
Science Fiction
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
An ET spacecraft headed for Earth and mysterious red dots that baffle even world-renowned scientists provoke violent outbreaks around the globe—will humans destroy themselves before the aliens even arrive? Red Dot is a thought-provoking sci-fi thriller complete with a remarkable cast of characters and an intriguing portrayal of alien life. Expect the unexpected and you’ll still be surprised.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Cranberry salad
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
Red Cross. I'm in the Philippines, and the Red Cross has been a big help for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. http://www.redcross.org
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-Dot/1028047867229514

Name: Miss D
What genre or genres do you write in?
Urban Fiction based on true story WITH profanity AND sexual content
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Naughty
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Corrupt: Rise To Power was inspired by the Tavon White Baltimore City Detention Center scandal of 2013. I am a Corrections Officer in Maryland and used 1st hand info which makes the events in the book very authentic. It is my 1st urban novel and very graphic.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
My favorite underrated holiday treat is a new pair of flannel christmas pajamas and fuzzy slippers. Great for late night writing sessions.
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
My favorite charitable organization is the Salvation Army. They are always lending a hand to families in crisis situations. http://www.salvationarmyusa.org

Name: Patricia Loofbourrow
What genre or genres do you write in?
Science Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, steampunk neo-noir
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
My novel is about a female private eye in a neo-Victorian domed city split between four crime families. She runs her business in secret because she's married to one of the mob bosses and the Family frowns on this sort of thing. In this first book of the series, she's trying to find a missing child, the little brother of her best friend (who was murdered in front of her ten years before).
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Canned whole berry cranberry sauce
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for people who don't have one. https://www.habitat.org
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?
Website: http://www.jacqofspades.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jacq_Of_Spades
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheJacqOfSpades
Other: http://red-dog-conspiracy.tumblr.com/

Name: K.B. Goddard
What genre or genres do you write in?
Horror, supernatural
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
An homage to the classic ghost story. My book is a collection of six short stories set in the Victorian era. Victorian inspired ghostly goodness.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
I'm not sure I have one! Possibly rum sauce for the Christmas pudding.
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
Crisis do wonderful work for the homeless especially at Christmas. http://www.crisis.org.uk
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?
Website: https://kbgoddard.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kbgoddard
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kbgoddard
Other: http://kbgoddard.blogspot.co.uk

Name: Susan Stafford
What genre or genres do you write in?
Mystery/Thriller
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Trouble in the Keys is a murder mystery that takes place in Key West. Desperation and curiosity have Liz and Maggie searching the island and making inquiries that don't always end well.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
fruit cake!!
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
St. Jude's Children Hospital in Memphis https://www.stjude.org

Name: Alp Mortal
What genre or genres do you write in?
LGBTQ
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
In Delayed Reaction - Andrew is waylaid by a snow storm; his flight is cancelled and the only hotel in town is full. An old motel on the edge of town looks to be the only choice. He meets Morgan in the hotel's reception; together they drive to the motel - their worst fears are realised but at least it has vacancies.
In A Dog's Life - Orion is an escort at the pinnacle of his career. He meets Stephen who is also an escort during a weekend in Nice. Is it time for them to give up the dog’s life and re-discover the joys of sex without the pay-off?
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Walking on the beach after lunch
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
Saint Catherine's Centre in Ventnor Isle of Wight. A residential school and respite Centre for children with learning disabilities, funded entirely by donation. http://www.stcatherines.org.uk
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?
Website: http://alpmortal.weebly.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/carterseagrove
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecarterseagroveproject
Other: http://www.amazon.com/Alp-Mortal/e/B00BJ5FH7Q

Name: Ian S. Bott
What genre or genres do you write in?
Science Fiction
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Sci-fi action adventure. One book is a far-future tale of planet-wrecking revenge. The other is closer to home, our own civilization stealthily corroded by the technology on which it depends.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Good old-fashioned British Christmas pudding, with brandy butter and cream.
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
The local food bank, which is run by the Lions Club.
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?
Website: http://www.iansbott.com/
Other: http://www.thebaldpatch.blogspot.com/

Name: Susan Catalano
What genre or genres do you write in?
Fantasy, Historical
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Merry Chalmers is an accused witch who leaps from the 17th century into modern-day Salem and embarks on a race to save both herself and the man she loves from the disastrous fate history holds for them.
The Timeless Ones is the first of an exciting two-book series. The sequel, A Necessary Darkness, is due out early 2016.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Lebkuchen - A german gingerbread dipped in chocolate
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
Blues City Animal Rescue - This organization is filled with some very special people who rescue dogs from high-kill shelters and foster the dogs in their homes before sending them off to their new families. We were fortunate to adopt our amazing, wonderful pup, Finn, who was found at a construction site at approximately 5 months old. We are still in touch with his foster family. https://bluescityanimalrescue.wordpress.com
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?
Website: http://susancatalano.wix.com/susancatalano
Twitter: https://twitter.com/scatu2
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimelessOnes
Other: https://www.pinterest.com/knitcat1/the-timeless-ones/

Name: Shari Sakurai
What genre or genres do you write in?
Horror, LGBTQ
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Demon's Blood: Japanese vampire Kokawa Taku and his English lover, Thane Bremen, were forced to flee their home in Tokyo after being discovered by vampire hunters and have resettled in Norfield, England. Ever since Thane has been haunted by the events in Tokyo and suffers from reoccurring nightmares. Yet unknown to Thane there is more to those events than he is aware of, and as a consequence Taku is struggling against something much darker, something that could ultimately destroy him.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Candy canes! They're really yummy but many of them just get left hanging on the tree as decorations for all of the holiday season!
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
The Blue Cross is an animal charity that finds homes for unwanted pets and also provides veterinary treatment to pets whose owners are unable to afford to take their pets to private veterinary clinics. https://www.bluecross.org.uk
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?
Website: http://www.sharisakurai.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ShariSakurai
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharisakurai
Other: http://sharisakurai.wordpress.com

And you can read about the other thirty authors giving away books at:

http://www.invertedworlds.com/the-ghost-of-christmas-book-blast/

https://annalsofgentalia.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/the-ghost-of-christmas-book-blast/

http://brkingsolver.com/author-s-blog/item/book-blast-interviews?category_id=3


Happy reading!
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