Sunday, 19 April 2015

Small stories and progress

As I mentioned in my last blog post, after around a year of difficult writing and lack of direction I've finally found myself getting things finished, and enjoying the process a lot more.
Here's a list of recent events, including details of freebies.

Two of my books (The Real Thing, Shred) are now permafree on as well as on B&N, Itunes etc. Here are the links:

At the moment they still aren't free in the UK, but my fellow Brits can pick them up through Smashwords.

I've also released a short story titled The Pattern Ends. It's loosely horror/metaphysical, a 5,000 word treat for a long lunch break. It's free on Smashwords (, and should soon be free on B&N and Itunes. I will work on amazon soon.

I am not releasing these stories for free because I don't value my own work. I recently read through The Real Thing again and really enjoyed looking at it with the fresh eyes of forgetfulness. I'm doing it as a way to draw people into giving my writing a shot who might not have done so otherwise. I know I barely register on the scale of writing, but still hope to one day, so I'm trying to show you lovely people what my writing is about before you decide to part with your money.

My long short story/short novella A Fresh Start will also be released in the not-too-distant future, and I will be releasing it as "pay what you want" through Smashwords as an experiment. Maybe people will pay, maybe they won't. Maybe no one will read it, but I hope they do.

If you like my stories, please consider reviewing them, on whichever site you prefer. A few words of your own in exchange for mine is more than fine by me, as every positive review gets more people interested, and every negative review gives me pointers on how to improve.

I'm currently deep into writing a story that I started last year and drifted away from, but have recently re-discovered (along with an almost complete story plan, always nice). I hope to get it finished within the next three months, and am hopeful that it will be one of the better stories that I have written. It's quite different to my usual genres, so we'll have to wait and see.

As this post is (loosely) about trying new things, I thought I'd leave you with Neil Gaiman's brilliant speech to The London Book Fair in 2013. I think I've shared it before on facebook, but another go won't hurt. The guy is a great human being.

I'm off to be a dandelion.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Art Of Writing Without Writing

First off, I don't have any reason to look as sassy/smug about my writing as Bruce Lee is about his Jeet Kun Do, I just liked the way I could mulch up his quote.

Now that's out of the way, what exactly do I mean by "writing without writing"?

Well, this will all come as little surprise to seasoned writers out there, but I'm still cutting my teeth after only three years of wrestling with books, so it was something of an epiphany for me when I realised that to truly improve in style, and to craft a decent narrative, I had to spend more time not writing.

Whoa, that's cray-cray, you might say!


Writing has gotta be 33% thinking, 33% reading, and only 33% getting stuff down. And 1% coffee. 

I used to be a voracious reader (oh yes) before I started writing seriously, but once I'd started I got 'the nerves', and found that no time was enough time. Writing makes me restless, and now that I've taken the plunge I find it hard not to measure anything I do against time-I-could-have-spent-writing. So books went out of the window (not literally, I'm not a monster), as did relaxing. I've lived on my tiptoes for three years, bouncing off walls until I could get down to a screen, and after a while I found that I began to freeze. Where once words were easy (even if they weren't polished) now I couldn't even get a few sentences down without getting 'conga face'.

Whole mornings devoted to writing would produce less than 500 words. I felt like I was flushing my life down the toilet.

So this month I've finally decided to try something different. I've started reading again, sometimes even between 3 and 7 am (the golden hours when the kids are asleep and silence is possible). When I write in isolation, I lose sight of right and wrong. I second guess everything, revising and cutting until there is nothing left but ashes and dust. ASHES AND DUST. By reading the sentence structures of other authors, and analysing plots, I found that I could judge my own work far more easily, and objectively. I also lost the 'first draft fear', and let myself get some stuff down with the view to honing it later, which is a whole lot easier than trying for perfection straight away. It's like crafting a marble statue - you get the vague shape first, you don't go straight for the ball sack. (Disclaimer - I have no idea how to carve a marble statue. And not all of them need ball sacks.)

I've also allowed myself to think of time with my family as a positive for my writing rather than a negative, which is a small thing but it makes a big difference. I love my family dearly, and whenever I was with them and wished I was writing, I would feel guilty for even thinking it. Whenever I was writing and could have been with them, I felt guilty. Whenever I spent an enjoyable day with them and neglected writing, I felt guilty. I basically felt guilty whatever I was doing. Now I use the few seconds when my kids are off on the swings or scooting around the park as a chance to think about my plot, mulling over details and logic until my plot humps iron themselves out. By doing this I have managed to finish a short story that has been on my hard drive for a year. It's vastly different in tone to my original idea, but I like it, and more importantly, it's finished (well, almost. Always room for more drafting). I've also made sure that my mind goes over plots while I'm in the shower or cooking, rather than slipping into stressing about work, or money. Plots I can figure out, life is more of an issue, so lets get some small victories!

By doing all this, I have managed to get above 2000 words a day on a regular basis, which I haven't done since I finished Cuts Of Flesh.

In conclusion, I've devoted less time to writing, and got more done. Win-win.