Saturday, 22 June 2013

The first year review!

My first year of public writing.

(Well, it's been thirteen months... but I was a bit tired).

Well it's certainly been a mixed bag of a year!
It started with the release of The Binary Man (a cyberpunk/semi dystopian adventure) in May of 2012. The book had been languishing on my computer for two years in a seriously un-proofed form, a situation that I have only recently 100% percent rectified (thanks Kathryn!). It did (and continues to do) surprisingly well for a first book.
Bouyed with the small (and friend supported) success of the book I decided to throw myself into writing a second, which turned into Heal The Sick, Raise The Dead. This one was much more bleak in tone, dealing with an unreliable narrator during an undead outbreak. The book has received generally more favourable feedback than the Binary Man but far less sales. I have no idea why this is. It could be the subject matter. Still, I'm happy with how it turned out, though I may amend certain parts in a 'Director's Cut' style at a later date. The highlight of the project was getting a professionally produced cover from Jody Whittle of He's worked with Alan Moore, so I have too... by proxy. I have. All right, I haven't.
Next up was my Cuts of Flesh series, which I wrote as a way to tie a few different stories I've had knocking around together with the same protagonist. I decided to release it as an ongoing series despite the fact that I hadn't thought of an ending, a mistake I will NEVER repeat. I found myself tied to details that I wanted to change simply because I had already published them, and such restrictions slowed my writing to a crawl that lasted for months until an amazing holiday in Japan unclogged my idea bung holes (they exist) and I finished the last three parts at a breakneck pace.
In between I also wrote a few short stories (Just One Day, The Uncanny Mr. Bones and Words) as a way of distracting myself from Cuts of Flesh. Just One Day was the breakout hit, getting a lot of good reviews and also making me a bit of money. I had no idea that anyone would buy a short story of 12,000 words but clearly some people will!
I also decided to join in the NaNoWriMo event in November, scraping another cyberpunk novel The Real Thing from my sleep deprived mind and writing 50,000 words in November. I finally worked up the courage to look back over the draft recently and it was better than I remember so I released it on amazon. I think my exhausted mindset at the time made it seem more shaky than it was. I need to give up coffee but it calls me back every day...
The best part of the year by far has been getting to know some great people, three of which stand out above the others. 
Ethan Spier was the first real contact I made and his help and advice has been invaluable over the past year. He is a talented (and successful!) author whose book Kinesis has been at number 1 in the amazon sci fi adventure chart for an age. Check out his stuff here
Kathryn Perkins is a wonderful person who is single handedly proofing and editing my entire back catalogue as we speak. She is a great source of support and re-affirms my faith in human kindness on a daily basis. She is also a talented artist and sculptor, and her custom guitar pendants can be bought here
Last but in no way least is George Hodan, a photographer with an amazing eye whose pictures I often use for my book covers. He has won several awards on and deserves all of his success and more. Check out his pictures here
There are many others that I've got to know through twitter and facebook, far too many to name, but rest assured I read and appreciate all comments and reviews.
This year has been fraught with self doubt, frustration, joy and a lot of hours of graft. Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and though I have made some mistakes I hope that I will learn from them and craft a smart marketing strategy to go along with my hours and days and weeks spent on writing.
As for the next year, I think will be a tough one, but hopefully rewarding. My goal for now is not to make money (that will be a long way off, if it ever happens) but rather to get better at constructing my stories with the aim to getting something published, indie or otherwise. To do this I need feedback. I value honesty above all else and have no problem with constructive criticism of my writing. My writing is a lifelong passion and a lifelong project. Let's see what part two brings.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Bring the bile!

A friend of mine, who has always been very supportive of my fledgling writing attempts, told me tonight that he hates something I've done. This is not just in passing... he really hates it. He loathes it. He hates every aspect of it.
This is a refreshing thing to hear, as I've found that during the past year (it's pretty much a year to the day since I released The Binary Man and began writing myself into a caffeine haze) I've received occasional lukewarm reception, occasionally good, but rarely any criticism. 
This is actually more depressing than it sounds, for two reasons. 1: I always want more feedback, and 2: there are a lot of things I've done wrong. I know it, whoever reads this occasional blog knows it... most likely anyone who stumbles across my stuff on amazon knows it. My stuff is poorly proofed by myself due to my soft brain. My plots aren't always planned well. My dialogue can be stilted and cliched. My characters can react unrealistically at times.
I'm trying to address all these things and I hope I'm slowly improving. I have met a great person who as I type is probably hard at work editing my back catalogue for the peculiar blind spots I have for my writing. I take great pains to make sure my dialogue sounds realistic without falling into the trap of actually being realistic with all of its false starts and snatched sentences. Planning plots... well, I must admit that apart from a vague outline I nearly always wing it based on how the characters fit within the setting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I could spend a lot more time redoing and refining my stuff but I admit that I am actually enjoying throwing my words out and seeing what sticks.
The point is that from a writing point of view I'm still an infant. I'm one year old. And just like a child, sometimes I need to have the rules explained. I need to know what to avoid, I need to know what bits I'm doing right so that I don't lose focus on them and I need to know when I'm about to drop off into a chasm of crap... well, that last one is a little more figurative but you get the idea.
Please, tell me which bits of my books are crap! I've said it before and I'll say it again, I want to know!
Think of me as a public project. Get involved. I'll always listen.