Sex, Death and Trains: All Yours For Nothing (still!)*

*Terms and Conditions apply: you can get a free copy of my first novel, The Darkness Beneath, by following this link - but hurry! Only the first 100 people to sign up can claim a free copy.

I Should Have Been A Dentist
No really, I should have been. Because pulling teeth is exactly what writing can be like at time. That and carving granite with a teaspoon.

A few weeks ago I decided that the last chapter of The Girl Who Dreamt of Water should have one final dream sequence that ties all the various strands and people together and allows them to come to terms with difficulties they've had and accept the things they'd not been able to accept before the final chapter pulled into the station. It would also allow me to have a really good time writing something that might be considered a little on the fantsatic side (my favourite form of writing).

But although you can see there's clearly a reason to do this, actually finding even half an idea to write about is a whole other thing. After some head bashing and wandering around with a large empty space in my imagination, I finally came up with .5 of an idea (variable by +/- 10%).

I was very happy with this until I started writing it and realised that all I had really was two sentences. And so began the long, long climb up from the bottomless pit of dispair into the land of the clueless.

This resulted in a the creation of a few short paragraphs that seemed to be repeating themselves.

So I swapped character in the hope that new blood would fire up the imagination engine and swing the floodgates of ideas open and allow a river of words to drip, flow and cascade out of my mind and onto the page. (let me know if any of these trips the 'Flowery' gauge...)

Instead, each word has had to be scraped out of my skull one by one by one. 

So, perhaps the problem/answer is:
A) I'm worrying too much about what I'm writing and this constant critique is getting in the way.
B) What I'm writing is crap and therefore...
C) It's a good idea, but I haven't quite hit my stride and need to keep going until I do.

I've no idea which is right myself, but I'm going with C my friend, 'cause I often find, that flying blind, will get you there in the end. 

Which is fine, but I am scared that B might be true and I sure as hell don't want to spend the few hours I manage to spend writing, writing rubbish. I'm expecting the dream sequence to top out at about 5-6k words - which is an awful lot of words to delete, especially as they are an awful lot of words that took an awful lot of writing in the first place. 

I'd be pleased to know how you deal with this sort of problem.

Euro Derision
Whilst a lot of us are quietly freaking out about the meltdown of the global economy, there is something that we should worry about more. And that is why the UK has once more failed to make it into the top ten of the Eurovision song contest. That said, we improved on last year's position by finishing second to last this time.

The reason why we fail is because we choose the most complete and utter shyte as our song. You can't blame Engelbert, he sang magnificently, but if you're drinking shit, your burps are always going to stink. 

And why am I bovvered by this? It's very simple. Various Britains have been responsible of writing some of the best pop tunes ever, and the general public have acknowledged this by buying these song in their millions.

So why is it that a country jammed full of top song-writing talent (Beatles, Bowie, Bolan, the Floyd, Kinks, New Order, Stones, Muse, Massive Attack to name but a few) can only be inspired to write the most bland, turgid and insipid MOR crap? 

Clearly someone's playing safe here, and it's failing big time. It's about time the real songwriters in the UK ripped the task from the cold, dead fingers the losers who currently organise it, and take one giant leap away from the cesspool. 

I don't care if we don't win, but I do care that we take pride in our magnificent songwriting tradition and give it our best shot.


Sex, Death and Trains: All Yours For Nothing (still!)*

*Terms and Conditions apply: you can get a free copy of my first novel, The Darkness Beneath, by following this link - but hurry! Only the first 100 people to sign up can claim a free copy.

Read All About Me, Read All About Me
Yes, when you've finished here and found yourself not sated, you can pop over to Raebeth McGees writing blog spot where there's a rather excellent interview with me (amazingly...)

I Know Nothing (But Fortunately Someone Else Knows Rather More)
I've recently hooked up with the chaps at 90 Days on Twitter (@90daysnovel). In a nutshell these are two brothers who together are writing a novel in, um, 90 days. As they say on their website:

"The challenge is to write, edit, format and publish an entire novel in just 90 days."

Which is a good thing in itself, but what I hadn't expected to find when I visited their site is all the excellent info they've published about indie authoring. It's must-read for all indie authors - and I'm someone who is loathe to use such a term (and especially loathe the double quotes that always hang around such expressions).

The question is, how on earth do they manage to write such in-depth reports AND continue with their novel? Do they never sleep?

Death By Taxes
Well, last Tuesday came and went and I'm still alive. Yes, I did visit the tax office but the people I saw there are just as anxious as I to come to a mutually acceptable and affordable solution. Although the outcome was fairly positive, it is the least worst possibility, so there will still be plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth, crying into my empty wallet and pining for all the goods I can see but no longer own. We're still waiting for the solution to migrate from possibility to actuality (via the gift of print), but this should happen this coming week.

In the upside I'm just about to start some freelance writing work which should help me pay the additional tax burden and allow me to update my CV with a new area of writing, Research and Development, for a company that is involved with the security of set top boxes. I can't tell you anything about the work, but some of it is so confidential I'll have to do the work in their office as it's not allowed to be leave the building, and definitely not via leaky old emails.

Dream Scene - Necessity Or Ego Massage?

I've just finished re-editing the final chapter of The Girl Who Dreamt Of Water, and only have one new section to write now (though there's still plenty of editing and re-writing to do). The main point of this section is to allow the two main characters to subconscioulsy examine and assimilate all the info they've recently aquired in the Big Fight scene, while spending the night in a cell in the local police station. 

The scene ties up all the loose ends of their thoughts and allows them to reach a new point in their relationship. Sorry to be vague, but I'm not going to spoil the ending for the sake of clarity. (Though I am looking for readers, so if you are busting a gut to know, please let get in contact.)

But there is another side to writing this, and that is that it will give me the opportunity to write another dream section (I'll stop short of calling it magical-realist but that's what I want to say), and the reason for that is that I REALLY ENJOY WRITING THIS WAY. To be brutally honest, although I love this story itself and have enjoyed writing it for several reasons, the fact is, I really love writing the more surreal/dream like sequences. Without these, I don't think I could have written it at all.

Yes, there it is, out in the open, my confession: what my book is about is not entertaining the reader - it's about entertaining and indulging myself. Actually, I'm not bothered if people think less of me because of this, because I believe (at the risk of dying in obscurity (which I obviously don't believe is going to happen to me)) that writers should write what's best for the story, not the audience. And often that will mean not being commercially viable as far the publishing world is concerned.

I think that as a writer I owe it to myself to write what I want, not what some potential audience or publisher wants. LIfe is too full of compromises as it is: why should I compromise something that means an demands so much of me? Of course I want commercial success, but I also want to write something that is beautiful in itself in the same way that visual artists create objects of beauty. It might seem arrogant to say, but I consider myself and all writers as artists just as much as sculpturers and painters are. And that means creating objects of beauty no matter the conditions and circumstances.

Sex, Death and Trains: All Yours For Nothing (still!)*
*Terms and Conditions apply: you can get a free copy of my first novel, The Darkness Beneath, by following this link - but hurry! Only the first 100 people to sign up can claim a free copy.

Rolling and Tumbling
Well I rolled and I tumbled, and I also ducked, weaved and bobbed through last week as I waited for my accountant to call with the exact time and date of the end of the world. Turns out it's 0900 next Tuesday. Which means that I've had another week of sticking my head in the sand and pretending that nothing-serious-is-about-to-happen.

So look out next week, watch out for jack-in-the-box highs and wrist-slitting lows: my rational self will be rationed for at least week, as will the few pennies left in my bank account. On the upside, you can sit back and watch me go into meltdown from the comfort of your own living rooms. Consider it a service and don't forget to send an occassional postcard to me at the asylum/debtor's prison.*

(* To be announced.)

Cover Story
I love book covers me, they're brilliant but creating them is a real art. Some book covers make me want to buy the book just for the cover but I have to say that far too many covers from indie authors are pretty amateur. Especially those that are only published as eBooks, and the designer (if that's not too grand a term) hasn't considered shrinkage. I.e., how small the text and images will be once the full size art work has been shrunk down to Kindle size.

Another major error is the mixing of fonts. It's not that you shouldn't, but I think the basic rule is that you shouldn't use more than two, and they should be simple enough to be readable after they've been put through the incredible shrinking machine. This also goes for the images used. Sadly, many of the covers I see are either the work of people who know nothing of design, or are the creations of people who think that Photoshop's main purpose is to create cutesy borders around terrible photos. To which they add the following across the bottom in some less than attractive and far too enormous font: © IamRubbish Photography. This is done because they make the twin mistakes of imagining they have an image worth copy writing, and that their work is so good they can call themselves professional. Wrong on both counts.

But I digress.

What you're here for is, apart from watching my financial implosion, is to find out more about what's happening with The Girl isn't it? Ok, ok, so here's the story. I realised the other day that to make one of the final chapter's last few scenes work, it has to take place in the dark. Not a problem really, just slide time forward a couple of hours and your done. 

Well, almost. We want dark but it's summer, not high summer but we're still graced with very long days. Darkness doesn't get out of his limousine until at least 2200. So the slide has to be by at least two hours, otherwise the cops are going to look very silly walking through the woods with their torches shining while the sun's still high in the sky. 

And yes, this is a love story/romance, why would't there be cops? 
Sex, Death and Trains: All Yours For Nothing*
*Terms and Conditions apply: you can get a free copy of my first novel, The Darkness Beneath, by following this link - but hurry! Only the first 100 poeple to sign up can claim a free copy.

You Have Friends!
Last week (and all of this so far) was not a good week as I had a cold and bloody awful toothache (and there's no past tense about either now, they are just less noticable). These forms of misery are not compatible and had to be fought of with Echinacea and pain killers. Something I try to avoid at all costs, but the combination of bastard irritations got the best of me. Which is why both my blogs are late this week.

On the upside, I had many good wishes from friends world-wide via facebook, which was very cheering - thank you all for your support!

Just When I Thought Everything Was Going To Change
It didn't. But not for a want of trying. We arrived at the tax office on Thursday morning ready to be hung out to dry only to find the appointment had been cancelled at the last minute.

Very sadly, a family member of the person we were seeing had died that morning. It's moments like these when you realise that the enormity of many problems we have are purley subjective. Not that that means anyone's problems are lessened because of it. But given the choice between death and taxes, I'll go for taxes every time.

Novel Two Finished!
Or is it? As all writers come to learn, writing is all about re-writing and although I have finished the main body of writing, there's still a ton of re-writing to be done. But that's the fun part! That's the bit I really enjoy, the carving of the real story from the thicket of my words. Removing the dross, the deadbeat, the dull and the screamingly hilarious attempts at saying something clever. 

Time to get the analogy machete out and send it slicing through the weeds of words and - oh, looks like I've started again.

The great thing about finishing the main body of writing is that now I can measure the time left on book two in months, rather than the end being in the dim and distant future, a time yet unknown to Man. After so much work over such a long period of time, it's great to start imagining that I can see the mirage of the finishing line.

All Change!
Another great thing that's happened with this book is that the very wonderful Nicoll Heaslip has come up with a much better name for it. The working title has always been Life Cycle, which is, let's face it, rubbish and only hints at what the contents are about. 

So, from this moment forth, book two is called: The Girl Who Dreamt of Water. Admittedly, this might not give you much of a clue about the story either, but it's so damned poetic that I refuse to call it anything else. So if you're confused by the title, you can read the first three chapters and sort yourself out.

And I'm very, very pleased to announce that she's also creating and designing the cover. Given how excellent the first one is, I can't wait to see the second. 

Looking back at last's week's moan about the Wall of Indifference, this week was totally different. When I announced on facebook that I'd finished the main writing of The Girl, I was awash with congratulations from so many friends, which was very cheering - thank you all!