Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first It's All About You! And we're kicking things off in grand style with Maureen Hovermale, who I've known digitally for a couple of years now thanks to Libboo.com, where we worked on the world's first crowd-sourced novel. She's good at a lot of things and is an excellent writer too. But don't take my word for it, check out the links at the end to see for yourself.

IAAY will be published every Wednesday until the end of time or the 12th of never (whichever comes first), so there's plenty of time for you to join in too! Contact me via the comments or via Twitter: @mickdavidson.

It's All About Maureen Hovermale
It's All About Jane Austin
My mother is armpit deep into genealogy.

Why bring this up now? Because my great-great-great whoever was part of the Revolutionary War here in the good ol' U.S.A. (Now hold on, I'm getting to the point.)

Seeing how I'm in love with British literature, I'm a bit afraid that the old fart will haunt me as this could be construed as Tory-like behavior. I know hundreds of years have passed, but you've got to understand that my mother was very disappointed I married a 'German' even though he was born in Kentucky. It seems grudges are held that carry  over generations unfortunately.

I'm so in love with this literature that I took bad marks for spelling favorite 'favourite' and color 'colour' in grade school. I argued that my heroes used such spelling and came from an older society than ours so therefore I was right, but the teacher obviously was an eyebrow raiser on Tory-like behaviour (ah see?), too. Either that or she had a penchant for red ink and a proclivity to use it on me.

So onwards to what Mick was really wanting me to do. I...ah...tend to deviate.

A passage from the first Britbook I read and therefore deeply ensconced into my heart (which doesn't count against my word count you lovely man thanks-for-that):

"Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley's attentions to her sister, Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest in the eyes of his friend. Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticize.
But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect
symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing;and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. Of this she was perfectly unaware;--to her he was only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere, and who had not thought her
handsome enough to dance with.

He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with others. His doing so drew her notice. ..."

(Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)

Ah...seduction however subtle makes no never mind. Here were my ten-year-old hormones waking up to the idea that intelligence is the most desirable foreplay to the secrets I already wanted to discover. Indelibly I was marked and Jane, oh Jane...I love you for it despite your choice of color in coats. Red or not, you're true blue to me. ;) By
the by, if you'd like to read more about her Jane Austin is a wonderful place to visit.

Ah so onwards to me eh?

It's All About Me

I write. Every. Single. Day. I sometimes post it and then change my mind and take it down. I'm never satisfied - I want perfection or at least something that won't make me cringe ten years from now. Perhaps it is Jane's example that I hold myself up against. Perhaps I'm never drunk enough to push the publish button.

Regardless of my carrying fruit juice in my gut instead of alcohol these days, Mick is a good mate and so I offer up an excerpt of the novel I'm currently working on:

The Eternal Observer adjusted the dog under his armpit and took count of the survivors.
It didn't take him very long since it was himself, the dog, and the writer. This was expected as the pen is mightier than the sword. The man had parried well with the seven-headed hydra, dotting eyes and summing things up.

The writer brushed the hair back from his brow and tried to look scholarly, "Why do you think it took the girl?"

Frank didn't take his eyes off the horizon, "They. It's a they not an it."

"It is a single being. Therefore it is an it."

Frank still didn't take his eyes off a point in the distance, "You're a grammar Nazi then?"

The writer looked shocked, "Well...I wouldn't say Nazi."

Frank nodded, "Grammar Nazis rarely do. Regardless, it's a they."

The writer began to argue the points of how Frank had referred to it as an it while referencing it as a they, when Frank looked all around them looking this way and that.

When Frank was satisfied, he smiled and calmly stiff-armed the writer off the iceberg.

Buford looked at Frank and Frank shrugged, "No one saw and I didn't have time for his singularly dogged structure."

The dog made certain to stay silent since he wasn't sure if Frank meant dogged as referring to himself as well.

"With Old Man Time out of action, we've got to get that girl." Frank looked down at the dog, but the dog said nothing. "Oh for the love of Pete and crisps, I didn't mean you and the writer was already dead. It's not like I killed him."

The dog still didn't respond because the man had looked quite hale until his icy plunge.

There. Now it is posted somewhere I don't have control over. I do reserve the right to try and bribe Mick later on though. Ah what the hell, I'll finish the book. It would be easier since we all know my chances are slim what with Mick unwilling to share even popcorn.

So about this burgeoning book of mine...well, it's a round about story like most beginnings are. It stemmed from my inclination to browse about places poking pieces out of here and there. I'd been asked to write a chapter for a project called Grim5next where we were supposed to bring the world to the brink of destruction and then rescue it in a flurry blurry of awesome unbelievables. My twisted mind went...hmm. 'Everyone is being so dystopian and leaning towards religious concepts, so I believe I'll insert me some overdue humor.' I went about reading articles on Schrödinger's cat since it seemed parallel to the premise (is it alive or is it dead?), found information on Richard Feynman (who is another hero of mine and was an avowed atheist. I mean, how polar opposite a viewpoint could I pursue?). I then proceeded to write a chapter throwing puns and double entendres around like you can't believe.

It was well received but after I wasn't able to bring Mick on board, I thought well I'll just finish this puppy myself and give them something different. Mick and I go back to Paradox times at Libboo and well it just wasn't the same without him.

So there you have it. A writer's attempt to emulate another while keeping their own voice. This passage I've given you leans more towards another book-maker-love of mine though: Douglas Adams. Now that's another story entirely and one that perhaps I'll go into when y'all wake up and I've got you drunk enough.

When I'm not writing or fighting the jungle-lawn out my window, I'm procrastinating doing something productive on the web and can be found here:

  • @zencherry on Twitter
  • My blog: The Zen Corner
  • World Literary Cafe - where I interview authors on WLC
  • Facebook - somewhat censored since my mother is a friend.
  • Pinterestwhere I have gads of links to things I probably won't have time to do since I'm busy ah...being productive and not in any way procrastinating.

Cheers, ciao, and Cheerio cereal, 
Maureen Hovermale (aka the weird lady writing scenes and snickering over there).

OK, so my first novel, The Darkness Beneath, has been on Amazon for the last week or so and I've gotten over the mild adrenalin rush that warmed my ego for a while: what now?

What now is, of course, the Great Marketing Push. Or rather The Rather Feeble Marketing Push. 

I know that as a self-publisher I have to get out there and smack the marketing baby all over the park and try reach as many potential readers as possible. And I've been doing that, but in reality it's a slow train to ride and it's one that you have to jump on every day without fail. I can live with the slow, slow build up to ever-lasting fame and fortune (who'd be a writer?), but the continuous effort to market my book is probably harder than writing actually is.

So, my fellow self-publishers, how do you deal with that? Do you have any methods or processes that you use to keep yourself on track? For example, do you set yourself targets or goals of any sort, and if so, how do you stick to them and do they work?

Friends and Spamily
I'm also very wary about hassling friends and family: I've told all my Facebook gang about it three times now: doing more makes me feel uncomfortable, and I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of the same thing, so I'm reluctant to keep banging on to them about it. And just because they're my Facebook friends, it doesn't mean more than a few are my natural audience, at least for this book. 

To the Twitter End
Twitter is a bit easier because it's slightly less personal, plus I know that anyone who's interested might RT me to their followers. This is a potential market of 100s of 1000s of people, something I can't ignore. But even so, I still feel that one tweet per week is enough, or is it? Some people never stop banging on about their books, like on a daily basis. I ignore all such tweets, but I don't mind that they do it, I just don't feel comfortable doing so myself.

Writing V Marketing
It's a double-edged sword: why do the first and not the second? If you are serious about the former, then you can't avoid the latter - it simply isn't professional is it? I am fortunate in that I have the Libboo team behind me. At least their subtle prodding and regular emails keep the marketing monster in my mind - my efforts would be nowhere without them.

Personally, I'd rather be away with the fairies, ghosts and lovers that live in my writing: and as all writers know, life isn't long enough to write all the stories we have typing away inside us already, so losing time to other activities is a difficult choice. 

Marketing is really a full time job (on top of my real full time job and other commitments), so even if you give it a maximum of 50% of your writing time, that's a huge chunk of writing time that's being devoured by the marketing monster. (BTW, I'm not against marketing or doing it - I'm just coming to terms with it.)

How does one find a balance between the time spent writing and the time spent marketing? Finding a balance is essential, because with that I'm just osscilating, prevaricating and going nowhere.

Ego O'Clock
Then there's the ego: a powerful and dangerous weapon that may well be the driving force behind why we write in the first place. Yes, I do think my work is good, but I could be delusional. I'd been writing fiction of various sorts for 20+ years before I felt confident enough to start trying to get it published. And I've been writing professionally for 20 of those years as a journalist and technical writer so I'm no wallflower when it comes to writing and being published. 

But still I wonder if I'm not kidding myself about my abilities. (And despite numerous compliments from my readers of the 'It's a real page turner' variety. See my reviews for evidence.) We have to question what we do as writers otherwise we run the risk of writing rubbish (and allow our skills and imaginiations to stagnate), but there comes a time where, if we want people to take us seriously, we have to take ourselves seriously too. We have to stand up naked in front of the world and demand it takes notice of this great work we've laid before its feet. And that is a bloody hard and confrontational thing to do.

Thanks to all those readers who made the arduous journey to the end of Part II of 36 Hour Slingback - which may have been a bit on the long side. The upside is that at least there isn't a Part III.

As you may have guessed from the headline, I'm going to have something published. The something being my first novel, The End: The Beginning, in ebook format. This will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble by the end of this week. The link here will take you to chapter one.

I've very happy with this development, even more so as it came out of the blue

One of the problems writers have is getting our work seen by anyone. Visual artists at any level can have an exhibition, but we can't. When our work is finished, it is sent of to publishers and literary agents where it languishes in slush piles, dusty and almost forgotten. And when it is read, then it's only read by one pair of eyes. You can send it to more people, but even then it's not being seen by more than a handful of people.

So we work on our own and then when we finish, most of our work is buried before it is born. If there's one thing you can say about us writers, it is that we must be fantastically optimistic and strong willed to keep going. Who else spends so much time working on something they know may never see the light of day, and then repeats and repeats until they succeed, or die?

Liberated by the Libboo Project
The fact that my story is now going to be blinking shyly in the spotlight is due to it being part of a experiment being run by those fine people at Libboo.com, people who just cannot stop themselves from wanting to do things differently. These are the same lovely people who brought you the first ever crowd-sourced novel, PARADOX, which was based on a first chapter written by the bestselling author Richard Wiseman. I somehow managed to be part of the team that wrote this book, though my input was minimal. A large part of the work was done by Maureen Hovermale - who is an excellent friend, writer, editor and motivator.

Libboo are now running a wholly different experiment where an author groups around themself a team of people who work together to publish and promote the author's book. I now have such a team, and it is they who are responsible for recreating my work in ebook format and for getting it onto Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

Now all we have to do is promote the hell out of it - hence this story and the whirlwind of activity on Twitter and Facebook.

But wait, you too can also play a part in my slow but certain rise to fame and fortune (and you do want me to be famed and fortuned don't you?). 

All you have to do is contact as many people as you can and tell them about my book, what a brilliant read it is and that at only $1.99 it's so cheap they'd be rather silly to pass it up. If you're unsure about how to do this, start by telling all your Facebook friends, then ramp it up to coffee mornings and garage sales, then spin it out to your local television station and newspaper. Simple and almost effortless.

Remember, what we're trying to create here is a ground level buzz that will swell to a crescendo of jingling tills and the sound of my wallet stretching itself around my unfeasibly large fortune.

Thanks awfully...