Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Doing It For Fun?

It's sometimes hard to explain, to a non-writer, why I write. The confusion generally comes when the non-writer discovers I am not a full-time writer. "So it's a hobby," they say. "You do it for fun."

I can't explain that it's not a hobby - more a need. And most of the time, it's not fun. It's not fun to experience the crushing self-doubt that arrives on a regular basis and convinces me that every word I've ever written is complete rubbish. Or that feeling of rejection that comes with every email beginning, "thank you for sending us your manuscript. We regret to inform you that it will not fit our list at this time." Or, for me, getting up at 5:20am to write before work when really I'd much rather have an extra hour in bed.

Generally when such conversations come up I have to start by explaining that much as I would love to write full time, it's not economically feasible. It doesn't help that these conversations are generally with people who are not only non-writers but pretty much non-readers. They might have read Harry Potter, or Fifty Shades of Grey. So they think 'writer' and JK Rowlings and EL James spring to mind. And they're rolling in it, so all writers must be loaded, right?

My last royalty statement was for all of £5, and that represented a year's worth of sales. I am so far away from being able to make money from the writing that it seems an unobtainable goal. Giving up the day job is simply not an option because I have no other form of income.

At times I get completely overwhelmed. I leave the house at 6:20am so I can write before work. I generally don't get home before 7pm. I have French lessons and bass guitar lessons and admin stuff to deal with like emails and blog posts. And this is before we get to household stuff - laundry and remembering to pay the credit card bill and so on. Sometimes I get to a point when I feel I just can't cope with it all any more.

Logically, the thing to give up is the writing, because I kill myself trying to do it for no apparent reason. But even the mere thought of doing so makes me die inside.

And that's really why I write. Because I need to do it to keep on living. Not writing is as unthinkable to me as not breathing.

It may be I never manage to make enough money from the writing to give up the day job. But I will, somehow find a way to fit it into my life because there's just no other option.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Monthly Round-up: April 2017

Time, as they say, waits for no one. A third of the year has already gone. However, the best thing about this time of year is that I actually see my house in daylight during the week. Technically, it's spring. But I think someone forgot to tell the weather that, as the temperature in the UK has been more winter-like the past few days. Some places even have snow. Anyway, enough about the weather. On with the news.
OUT NOW/COMING SOON
Seven years ago this month, my first novel was published - SUFFER THE CHILDREN was released in e-book format by Lyrical Press. It marked a major turning point in my life, fulfilling a dream that I had chased for thirty years. And now the book is available again, from a different publisher. If you haven't yet read the book that started it all for me, you can buy it here from MuseItUp Publishing.
Coming up to the present day, I have been in touch with my editor and the edits for SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the new Shara Summers novel, will be underway shortly. I'm still optimistic for a 2017 release.
PUBLICITY
I've been a bit quiet on the publicity front of late. It's now been nearly a year since anything new came out, and I always feel it's difficult to plug a new book when it's not really new at all.
I did run another Goodreads giveaway for THE WHISPERING DEATH, however, that finished on 15 April. The winners were: Rachel Sanders in Sutherland, and Adam Bradbury in Surrey. Their prizes were posted last week, and indeed should be in their hands by now. The plan is to run some more Goodreads giveaways between now and October, so if you're still interested in winning a copy of this book, keep an eye on the Goodreads page.
I'm a bit light on the convention side of things this year as well. However, that's largely because I'm going to Bouchercon in Toronto in October, and not only is that a con that requires an international trip, it also clashes with most of the other cons I generally go to (FantasyCon and Bristol Horror Con, to name two). But I've been wanting to do Bouchercon for years, and with it being in Toronto it gives me a good reason to go visit family and friends in Canada at the same time.
WORK IN PROGRESS
The new horror novel, OUTPOST H311, is going well. I've agreed a deadline with my publisher at KGHH on this one, and it's full steam ahead.
That's it for now. I've got to get on with the writing!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Are You an Yin or Yang Author?

Cover of How to Write a Movie in 21 Days
I've been using Viki King's How to Write a Screenplay in 21 Days as a way to jump start my latest screenplay. I'd been having trouble coming up with a plot and figured this book, which I'd had for years but hadn't used, might be a way to approach my writing from another angle.

Finished the first draft last week.

Anyway, during my reading, I came across what she describes as Yin or Yang writers. For example, she asks how do we see ourselves? If we tend to be more rational, interested in world affairs, and such, we could be considered Yang. If we're intuitive and see life through personal experiences, then we're probably Yin.

So what kinds of stories would a Yang author write? According to King:

"Your script structure probably hinges on external events and actions. It's in the mystery, thriller, or crime-action-adventure genre."

Whereas, with Yin authors, King goes on to say, "Yours is probably an inner story. The character is on a journey of self-discovery. Themes are love and personal growth."

Of course, there are those who combine the Yin-Yang aspects. It's sort of like saying one is either a pantster or plotter, although many writers fall somewhere in the middle. While this screenplay is a suspense screenplay, the main character is on a journey of self-discovery while on a literal journey to save her team.

Knowing I lean more toward the Yang style of writing also explains why I have an easier time writing horror, suspense, etc. and struggle with romance or more personal stories. Not that I won't write or read them, but now I understand it's part of my mindset why I write the stories I do.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Authors, keep writing the stories you love.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Monthly Round-Up: March 2017

I realise I missed February's round-up, which is a bit remiss of me. I lost quite a lot of March to a lingering virus that turned into a sinus infection. Happily, after over two weeks of feeling terrible, I am feeling good again.


OUT NOW/COMING SOON
No further news on the third Shara Summers book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, which is meant to be out this year. However, if you have not yet met Shara Summers, you can pick up the first book, DEATH SCENE (in all e-book formats) directly from MuseItUp Publishing's online store.


PROMOTION
I'm running another Goodreads giveaway for THE WHISPERING DEATH. If you are in the UK and like horror, you can enter now to win a free copy of the paperback. Contest closes on 15 April.


This weekend I'm heading off to the SF Weekender in Wales for a few days of sci fi geekery. And I'm doing a couple of panels for the writers' track as well.


WORK IN PROGRESS
The virus left my brain feeling too mushy to write and I lost a couple of weeks of writing time. However, I'm back on track now and work on the new horror novel continues apace.


That's all to report for now. Catch you next time!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Where'd I Put That Darn Idea?

Dime image courtesy of Morguefile.com
Ideas. A "dime a dozen," as some people would say. Not copyrightable unless presented in some tangible form: treatment, synopsis, novel, screenplay, etc. (But I'm not going to get into legalities here. I'm not qualified.)

What I am qualified for is being someone who often struggles to come up with ideas for stories. Or, I do come up with one, and upon further examination, realize it's the dumbest thing ever. Back to the proverbial drawing board. (On those days, I think maybe I should trade in my keyboard for my Wacom pen and pursue an art career. But then I look at my artwork and reason pats me on the head.) Don't worry, I'm not giving up on writing. I don't really know how to do anything else.

I've been needing to write a new feature-length screenplay. Winning first place with a short and a feature is great, but an author doesn't live by two winning screenplays alone. And, since there's a writing challenge coming up next month, I need to find a new idea for a novel. (This while revising an older one.) While I do have a one-page synopsis for one, and I do want to write it, part of me wants to write another one based on a documentary series I've been watching. I'll probably write the former one, since the latter, a historical mystery, will require research.

But didn't I say I needed to find ideas for stories? How could I say I had a couple of ideas then? (To be honest, the synopsis was written a while ago.) I guess, for me, ideas come organically from my experiences. Like the documentary, which reminded me how much I loved the subject and inspired the current plot idea.

Ideas have also come to me in song lyrics and in paintings. There's no consistency, and what worked before may not work again.  Ideas are mercurial like that.

What about the screenplay? That was a bit harder, since I knew what I wanted to write about, but didn't have enough information about the organization to write a plausible scenario. But then I got the idea of how to work around that while doing some of the exercises in Viki King's How to Write a Movie in 21 Days. I'd bought the book when I was first learning how to write a screenplay, but had never used it. This time, I thought it might be the jumping off point I needed. And it seems to have worked. I don't know if I'll do every exercise in the book, and I'll probably write the script in less than 21 days, as soon as I get my characters developed.

And did I mention how difficult it can be to create a well-rounded character? But that's a post for another time. :-)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Character Occupations


One great thing about being a writer is being able to create characters with different occupations, including some I would've loved to pursue, had I the opportunity.

Like many authors, I've held several jobs: telemarketer, receptionist, secretary, bartender, artist model, security guard, substitute teacher, server, and probably a couple more I don't remember. But I wanted to be an author since I was in middle school, when I bought a blue notebook and penned my first novella.

I also wanted to be a private investigator growing up, as well as a doctor and pharmacist. My mother was a nurse's aid and I read her medical books. Sadly, chemistry proved my bete noire. I suppose I would do better now, given my life situation is less stressful than in the past. Suffice it to say, though, we all have our educational strengths. Mine is English, while my husband's is science and math. Our daughter took after him. It all balances out.

Over the recent years, I've sometimes wished I'd gone into forensic science, either forensic pathology or computer forensics. That, or become a homicide detective. The reason? To help solve murders and other crimes. Crime scene investigation has fascinated me for years, as my bookshelf can attest.

I've written a couple of homicide detective characters. Been playing around with creating a private investigator and writing a series of tongue-in-cheek novellas. Other characters I've been working on are NTSB investigators, a US Postal Inspector, and a former Secret Service agent. Not an exhaustive list, to be sure. And yes, there are a couple of characters who work as doctors.

Like actors can play various roles, so too can authors live vicariously through their characters. Even better if the author has similar experiences for real world comparison, but for those who don't, creating a fictional world is one alternative.