Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Getting Close

I've been trying to get the last of the edits done on Dark Pages Volume One. I'm down to the last three stories. One has gone back to the author and two are currently with the copy editor before they go back to the authors. I'm hopeful that one more pass by all concerned and we'll be just about done.

Blade Red press and I have moved onto cover design and the first mock up looks seriously cool. Stay tuned for more on that in the near future.

We've also put out the word to some exceptionally well known individuals (ie famous people) to have a read of the ARC and provide comments for the back cover. Everyone has been extremely kind with their time and I have my fingers crossed that the comments will be just as generous.

So we are moving along. I'm over my sty, the cricket season has finished (we lost the semi final), and I've got time and energy to devote to finishing this project off.

Watch this space for a launch date...............

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Taking Stock

Yesterday was my birthday. I can finally say I'm 21 again! That's not "21 (pause) again", that's 21 two times over...I'll take what I can get.

As with most birthdays, it was a time of reflection and celebration. Thank you to my friends and family for the celebration part - it was a good day.

For the reflection bit, I decided to go over what stories I currently have in the cupboard. Turns out there are only seven and two of those I promptly retired. So, only five stories on the back-burner waiting to be edited and resent out into the wild. Currently I've only got two stories in circulation. One has been out for nearly three months while the other has been out for nearly 18 months (it's sitting with an editor who is trying to get a project off the ground, and it was specifically written for that project so I'm happy for it to stay there for as long as it takes). Not exactly what one would call prolific.

And that's okay.

I was recently surprised to read another writer's blog who freely stated they produce three or four stories a year. Granted they have an almost 100% sell rate, but it's all about quality, not quantity.

There are individuals out there like Cate, Nat, Aaron, etc, etc (have a look at my blog roll, most of them fit into this category) who are able to write dozens of stories each year and sell at least 10 of them in a calendar year (and who don't skimp on quality), but you do not have fit into this mould to be a writer.

Writers write. It is the biggest truism I've found since I took up the pen. There are no additions, quantifications or qualifying remarks to add to it. It does not only include those who write novels, scripts, shorts, flash, or picture books. It does not include only those who sell to FTL markets, semi pro markets, or have gained a multi-million dollar book deal. The only requirement is that you write. Not even how often you do it, just so long as you occasionally visit the keyboard/pen/quill.

So, I'm a writer.

Many writers out in cyberspace preach the need for writers to network. Get out and socialise and create a web presence. They will show you figures which prove their argument works. And I agree with them - kind of. When you want to become known, when you want to spread the word about your work and help drive sales, then by all means the writer needs to be a large part of the advertising machine. I also agree that writing can be very isolating and writing social networks can help reduce that, but, in the end, you still need to write and nobody else can do that. When it's all boiled down, more often than not it's just you and a keyboard/pen/quill - it's a lonely vocation at times.

I suggest new writers join writing groups to start with. Learn as much as you can from others who have been around for a while. Learn about the submitting process, agents, technique, grammar, etc, etc. Take all of these lessons and continue to improve on that knowledge away from the group(s). Become self sufficient in knowledge of the basics so you'd be confident in passing that knowledge onto the next generation of new writers. Find yourself a select few friends who write and are willing (and are able to very competently) edit and beta read your work. Buy them chocolates and offer praise. Thank them every opportunity you get. You will not progress without feedback.

But once you've got a group of select individuals, do you really need to keep pushing the social networking scene? I haven't got books to sell. I'm nobody important. Who the hell cares if I have polished a short story and submitted it anywhere? Who cares if a market actually buys it? I know, my friends do, but because they are my friends they are happy to unconditionally support whatever I post on a blog or other social networking device. And I do the same in return - happily.

If I sell a manuscript, will the agent take into account how many short stories I've sold? Possibly but it won't be a big factor. Will they be concerned with how many followers I've got on my blog? Probably not, unless I'm selling a non-fiction idea which concerns my blog.

They are only concerned with the work they've brought. They are concerned with what I've written and how we can improve it to get a publisher interested enough to pay currency. Once a publisher is on board, then the other factors become bigger. But it takes a long time to get from acceptance of a manuscript by an agent to release of the first edition into bookshops. With the right marketing campaign and enough effort, and with a product to centre it all around - that shouldn't be a problem.

So I'm taking a lower profile approach. I'm not going to blog every day - probably not even every week. I will still read my Google Reader and lurker around other blogs. Occasionally I'll make a comment. I will announce any sales I make and announce when things are published.

The reason: I've lost something I had a couple of years back and I need to find it again. Without it, my love of the written word has diminished.

I was watching Goal II the other day with my wife. There's a line in it which struck a cord with me.

"You'd best be careful, lad. You've got so many things being added to your plate, you need to watch what falls off the sides." (or words to that affect - and said in a broad Newcastle accent).

I think something fell off my plate because I'm trying to do too much. So I'm going to remove everything and start again.

God, this has turned into a long waffling post. And all of it only to say that I'm not giving away my writing, I'm just doing the whole thing in a different way.

Watch this space...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Where Have I Been

It's been a weird time around here lately.

For those of you playing along at home, you'll be well aware of my lack of productivity of late so I'll not rehash over sad ground here, but things became a lot more difficult a little over a week ago. My left eye decided now would be a good time to develop a sty - but not just any old ordinary sty, this was a super sty that swelled up nicely and infected the actual eye as well as the the eyelid. The result was not very good vision especially when looking at computer monitors. I ended up not going to work (as I work in IT and looking at monitors tends to be a requirement) and not being able to do much at home. I've slept a fair bit over the last week or so.

I'm only now catching up on emails, Google Reader (170 unread!), and my editing duties for the anthology.

In the end, with cricket finals very much at the forefront of my brain and not being able to write, has allowed me to assess exactly where I'm at with my writing. I've not done a great deal for the past few months and I've always had a readily available excuse for that lack of productivity (anthology, illness, Christmas, work). In the cold light of day, not being able to write hasn't been a painful thing and I can't say I've overly missed it.

I'm going to back away for a time. I'll finish up the anthology, and I'll continue to make the occasional comment on other people's blogs so I'm not disappearing all together. If a story sells or one of the few I'm waiting on reaching publication happens, then I'll post comment here, but there won't be a huge amount of traffic happening on Musings over the immediate future (oh, reviews will still be linked to as and when I get to them). In the background I'll be playing with Inner Voice and, if the inspiration strikes, the occasional new piece, but I'm not holding my breath on that. I'm still intending on taking November off to write the second instalment in the Nathan Steele series so I'm obviously not giving it away completely. No doubt postings will pickup around here as I move into submitting IV to agents and hopefully travelling further down that road to a book deal.

Sorry, Mercedes, I'll have to take a rain check on that challenge. Once cricket season is done I may look at doing you a picture anyway ;c)

And for the one or two of you still interested, the minor round is now done for my cricket team. We finished second which gets us a home semi-final to be played over both days of this coming weekend (I will be a very tired and sore boy come Monday). On a personal note I'd like to thank the 21 (or so) players who have played for me this year. I can only choose 11 guys to take the field come Saturday and some of you who will miss out will be extremely unlucky, but your efforts and your attitude has been exemplary this year, and as captain of the B Grade, I truly appreciate what you've done in helping the team make the finals. For everyone else out there, please keep something crossed this coming weekend or send up a prayer, make an offering, or a sacrifice on our behalf. Thank you in advance ;c)

Well, that's pretty much it from me. I'll post the results of finals over the next week or two and update you on the progress of the antho but things will get somewhat quieter around here for now. For those of you who continue to follow this blog, thank you, for those of you who don't, thank you for the time you stayed. I wish all of you the very best in your writing endeavours.

This is not the end...only a pause in proceedings. I hope to see you on the other side of it.


Monday, March 1, 2010

For All You Sports Fans

It's the bottom of the ninth, two out, and scores are tied...whoops wrong sport.

We won our penultimate minor round game on the weekend and gathered enough points to move into second place. A win in the final game should guarantee us a home ground semi-final which was the real goal of second half of the season.

It would be nice to snaffle top spot and the possibility of a home grand final, but it seems the price of our mid-season aberration will be to play the GF away (if we get that far).

Congrats to Brett (Santa) for moving into top spot in the wicket takers list for our grade with another outstanding bowling performance where he picked up 5 wickets in the second innings. A big well done to Neil (Budge) for his seven wickets in the game and his contribution with the bat - man of the match stuff! Well done to Blue and Ernie for their runs and bowling performances respectively. Excellent fielding by everyone - a real team performance, especially the second innings.

Moving on...

This week we have our return match against the team who dealt us our major aberration mid-season. Time for payback. I expect every team member selected this week to bring their A game as we prepare for our run into finals, and, in the process, grind this weeks opponents into a barely recognisable puddle of, sorry. I got a little carried away there....

Welcome to March, the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere (yeah right), the commencement of the finals in cricket, the commencement of the Aussie Rules Football Season (real football - not soccer or that silly game where they all wear way too much padding!), the commencement of the F1 season, and, hopefully, the last days of my writing malaise. Can someone tell me where the first quarter of the year went?