Plans for the Future

Or is it really that time again already. Another year has flown by and I am still no further forward then I was last year. A large part of this was my own fault. Losing files is inexcusable. It took me a while to forgive myself.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to blog every book this year. I got fed up with it towards the end of the year and it was never really what I wanted the blog to be about. It was supposed to be more personal – about my journey as a writer and a person. It has been helpful to do these last few years when I have been going through a lot of personal things and it kept me blogging but now it is time to get back to what this blog was originally for.

I have signed up to do the Eclectic Reader Challenge again and I am looking for another challenge to take the place of the TBR Challenge. I have looked at a few but have not yet made up my mind – any recommendations would be gratefully received.

After the stupidity of losing the final version of Choose Yr Future, it was a while before I could bring myself to rewrite the parts that I had lost. Some of which I had paper copies of but some had been written straight onto the computer so I had to hope that I was getting it right. In the meantime, I was writing but I was working on other projects – the next novel, The Practise of Deception and a number of new short stories.

Now I am at the stage I was at before I lost the file. I have a finished version of Choose Yr Future which has been redrafted and edited. I suppose the next step is beta readers so I need to discover the best way to do that and also the best way to publish. There are a lot of possible platforms for self publishing if I decide to go that way again. Again, any advice would be gratefully received.

 

So I can call myself a writer now….

So it is out in the open now. I have written a novel and it is out on Amazon. A wider circle of people now know. I can safely say to be people that I am a writer. They can ask that question and I can say ‘Oh, a novel.’ Previously, I always avoided using the word writer. Even though every spare second was spent writing. Anyway, I had an real job. And that was what I gave as my occupation if anyone new asked. It would have been pretentious to use the word writer before this point. And a little embarrassing. I’m not sure why I thought that I needed the solid proof of being published but otherwise, I think, it would have seemed a little too much like intellectual masturbation.

I was always writing though. I think that as I have not previously mentioned it, people think Shattered Reflections appeared fully formed in the months since I have been unemployed. However, this is a work that has been years in the making. Writing sentences, paragraphs whenever I had the chance: on the train to and from work, when I had finished planning lessons, instead of reading in bed at night, while I ate my breakfast. Notebook upon notebook which then had to be typed up, checked and checked again. Without the last months of employment freedom, I would never have managed the final steps but the actual novel was virtually finished by then.

But now I am getting used to saying it. Although still with a small feeling of silliness. As if it is still not quite real. Perhaps because I am not making very much money from it at the minute which means I will have to get a ‘proper job’ when the money starts to get a bit low. And I’m getting used to the ‘oh I’ve always thought I would like to write a book but I wouldn’t know where to start.’ Well, you just start. For me, there was never any choice but to write. I’m not expecting to become a best-seller or make millions. (I mean, it would be nice, obviously but it is not my main motivation.) Regardless of how many copies I sell, how much people like it, I will always write because I have to and because I enjoy it.

Strange Days, Indeed

I wasn’t really sure it could get any stranger. The whole process of publishing Shattered Reflections has seemed surreal. But now that it is out in the world, potentially being read right now, I have to admit that it feels a little bit weird.

Part of it is nerves, undoubtedly. Obviously there has been feedback, checking and what have you before but this is different. For a start, people will actually be paying for it. Previously, it didn’t seem quite real.

Everyone close to me has been superbly supportive. Immediately, people are buying the book, liking my facebook page and I am hugely grateful to them. But it does make me nervous, people I know reading it. It is rude in places, violent in others with a fair bit of bad language thrown in for good measure. I’m not sure I want people who know me to be able to see into the darker reaches of my mind.

My book. My novel. They are exciting words, good words. Not like the words what next. They are frightening, difficult words, no fun words. But they are the ones that I will be working on over the next few weeks.

Shattered Reflections: Now on Amazon

At last. Shattered Reflections is on the shelves in Amazon (Is it still a bookshelf if the bookshop is virtual?) and will be available on Kindle in the next couple of days. It is both exciting and absolutely petrifying. I feel like it is the most amazing and the most stupid thing I have ever done. It’s like letting people into a corner of my mind – a pretty scary place at the best of times.

It is strange for other reasons as well. I will never have to edit or re-read this book. It is finally finished. Over. It is out of my hands. I will never have to think about the characters again and as I have grown quite attached to them over the years, this makes me a little sad. It feels like having a friend move to the other side of the world – I may have occasional contact with them but, in fact, they don’t belong to me any more.  I have to hope that people enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

Now I have to decide which of the myriad scribblings which are currently waiting patiently in the draw of my desk I should start work on now. A whole new set of characters to get to know and develop. Of course, there is the matter of promoting this book and I know that this will take up a lot of my time but that seems more like work. Starting a new writing project is definitely a pleasure.

Check out Shattered Reflections on Amazon here

I ain’t thick, don’t treat me as though I am.

As ever, I find myself out of step with fashion. just another craze that is beyond me. So much cultural nonsense that I just don’t get. Following on from X Factor, Big Brother, TOWIE. Why is it that I feel my intelligence is being called into question on a daily basis? And yet, reasonably intelligent people seem to find these things unproblematic. I find myself, more and more, listening to little bands, local bands, watching art-house movies and avoiding the TV all together.

This particular rant started a few weeks ago and has been running through my head since then. It was startled into life again today as I was listening to Jeffrey Lewis’ version of I ain’t thick, its just a trick and suddenly I was feeling all riled up so here it is.

It all started when I decided to read 50 Shades of Grey. I know, I know, what exactly was I expecting. (I know a snobbish part of me was already hoping it would be a bit rubbish as anything that popular should be.) But I wanted to understand exactly why it was so popular and, of course, if you haven’t read it then you can’t really moan about it. So how exactly did this tame tale of an irritating sadist and a pathetic masochist become the publishing phenomenon of the year? It’s hard to know. Are there really that many bored housewives out there? Of course, it’s the hype. I would never have read it otherwise, that is certain. At least I can say I bought it in a charity shop so someone needy at least benefited from my purchase.

I have to admit – and I’m comfortable with my intellectual snob status, so feel free to use that label – that I find the popularity of this book depressing. Just like I find the popularity of TOWIE depressing. The plot is basic and obvious. The characters are annoying stereotypes. However, I have to also admit that the popularity of this book is proof of the power of the reader. Proof of the power of the e-book. All to the good then, when, in the next few days, my book hits the e-shelves.

So on the one hand, 50 Shades of Grey makes me feel more confident about the possibilities for my book, Shattered Reflections. Don’t get me wrong, I do not expect to become the next big thing. I’d rather have lower sales and better reviews anyway. On the other, it has helped to contribute to the snobbishness already surrounding self-publishing. When I was wavering over whether to self publish or not, this is the factor that I found the most difficult to deal with. The idea of no quality control.

Still, ultimately I think it is a cause for celebration that something could be carried along by word of mouth and that there is a whole world of publishing outside of the big six publishers. Just like with music and film, I think I will be investigating it a bit more closely.

Kindle is the future… apparently

Well, this is it, a sight not often seen. I am about to eat my words. It’s not often that you find me changing my mind about something. I’m nothing if not stubborn. In fact, bloody minded would probably be closer to the truth.

I’m going to blame my age for my resistance to all things new and technological. I was one of the last people of my friends to really take to using CDs, insisting on buying vinyl long past the point it was strictly necessary. You can still find me skulking around record fairs on occasion, coming out with bags full of delightful LPs. (The only difference being I now play them on a USB record player which means I can listen to them on my I-Pod. I’m not a complete Luddite.) And I do download music. It’s good because it means that I don’t need to leave the house or deal with other human beings, something I find less and less pleasant. (I blame my age for that as well.)

So, when  the Kindle first came out I was pretty vocal about the fact that I wouldn’t be getting on any time soon. Why anyone would want a cold, heartless machine in their hands when they could have a book that was resonant with the history of all the other hands that had held it and drank in its magic was beyond me. And to a certain extent, it still is. I love my bookshelves and I like to think that people get a fair impression of what I am like from them. No one is going to get that from looking at the screen of a kindle.

However, there are a few reasons for my change of heart. The first is, of course, the fact that my book will be published on kindle. I cannot be snobby about the very platform that has afforded me this chance to publish. Also, I have discovered the amount of people who are publishing in this way and am interested in seeing what sort of things are being published. I’d hate to think I was missing out

So, I have taken a deep breath, ordered a kindle from Amazon. In fact, I am actually quite excited about the idea of being able to have a book in front of me in minutes. And I will still buy books, I guess. After all, I still buy vinyl and CDs as well as downloading stuff. It’s not the end of the world for books just yet.

Hello world!

I have never been so nervous. This is the start of something new and I feel the usual amounts of trepidation that you feel when you put a new project into motion – will it work, will I be able to do it, will people care, read, be the least bit bothered about what I have to say. Not only that but I will be allowing people to read what I have written, something that I previously only allowed those the closest to me to do. If the people who might read my work were sat in front of me, armed with red pens in order to correct and change, I could not be more anxious.

I have been writing for years now. In fact, as long as I can remember I have tried to put stories together. It stresses me out when I cannot write and if I’m not actually writing, chances are I am thinking about what I could write. It seems about time to try and actually see if what I have written is good and to get myself some readers.

Having recently become unemployed, I decided that it was time to have another try at getting published. And this time I was determined not to lose heart, give up or become depressed by the rejection letters or – in some ways worse – good but we can’t guarantee a market so no type letters. Publishers are as cash-strapped as anyone at the minute so of course, it is not a good time to be trying to get started. Nevertheless, I was determined that this time something was going to happen.

Things have changed a lot since I last tried to get published about 10 or so years ago. My teaching career had taken off and teaching being what it is, I had little time for writing or to put in the hours it takes to find an agent or a publisher so it all went on the back burner. Now I’m back and there is a whole new way of doing things. I have to admit that I was a little bamboozled. Where to start, what to do first, I’m still not sure if I’m taking the right path. I’d welcome advice from anyone who has been down this road. I look at my computer and I sometime just want to scream “Help” at it. And of course, it just sits there smugly, unaffected by my panic.

Other days are more productive and I have found some sites (www.authonomy.com, for example) where I have posted my writing and where comments have been good and that has helped a lot. I’m learning how to share my work through facebook and twitter and try not to sit anxiously checking for notifications when I have done. Most excitely, I have decided to publish through Createspace and Amazon and am currently waiting for the proofs so I can check them. Excitement and anxiety fight with each other for supremacy on a daily basis but now I have started down the road there is no turning back. Which is good because I am nothing if not a coward.

So, I will be keeping everyone updated of my progress through this blog, both with Shattered Reflections and with new projects that I am working on.