Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Monthly Round-Up: February 2016

February is nearly over, and it has one extra day than usual this year, with it being a leap year and all. The days are gradually getting longer and it's now still light when I leave the office at the end of the day. It's still dark by the time I get home, mind, but you can't have everything.

On with the news.
No more news on a fixed release date for SUFFER THE CHILDREN, but it is meant to be coming out in Spring. Which means some time in the next three months. I'm expecting it to be around mid-May.
I've had two guest appearances this month. The first was on Amy McCorkle's blog 'Letters to Daniel'. The brief was to write a letter to a hero who has changed your life in some way. So I wrote to Stephen King, who turned me on to writing horror.
I then had a guest post on Lay Lalone's blog about why you shouldn't listen to your English teacher.
SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the new Shara Summers book, is nearly finished! I know I've said that a few times, but this time I am confident I'm on the final draft. Now I just want to get the damn thing finished and submitted, so I can get back to writing the new horror novel, which has been languishing in a 'barely started' first draft stage for ages.
I'v got a busy month coming up in March, including my first convention of the 2016 season, the Sci Fi Weekender in Wales. Join me next month for the low down on how it went!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Ten Commandments of Writing #7: Thou Shalt Not Write For Fame and Fortune

There's this misconception out there that writing is a glamorous life, and that writers just rattle off a novel and sit back and let the money roll in. This misconception is enhanced by the media, which focuses on writers like J.K. Rowlings, E.L. James and Neil Gaiman, and how much money they've made.
It's true that all of these people have made a good living from writing, but sadly they are the exception, rather than the rule. The BBC published an article in 2014 stating that the average full-time writer was now earning £11,000 a year, which was well down on the last survey done nearly ten years earlier. Significantly, the same article also points out that the number of UK writers working full-time had also dropped quite dramatically - from 40% to 11.5%. Every time I get a royalty statement, I get depressed. If I were to add up all the royalties I've received since my first novel got published six years ago, it still equates to a sum that's less than what I earn in a month in the day job.
I know a lot of writers for whom writing is their full-time job. Most of them have a supplementary income, whether it be their partner's income, running writing courses, or something else like an inheritance, investments or rental income. Not many of them would describe themselves as 'well off'. Most are just about managing to get by.
Whatever your reasons are for writing, you shouldn't be doing it for the money. By all means fantasise about being a full time writer, and maybe you might be able to make it work, but don't go handing in your letter of resignation to the boss as soon as you get that first novel contract.
So there's the myth busted about the fortune. What about the fame? There's a famous quote out there - and I don't know who it originated with - that says that it takes twenty years to become an overnight success. There are a lot of writers out there, competing with a limited reading public. I have a fantasy that I'll meet someone at a party one day and upon hearing my name they'll say, "oh yes, I know you. I've read one of your books." It hasn't happened yet. Maybe, if I keep on churning out the novels, I might get to that point by 2030. By which point I'll be almost ready to start drawing my pension!
Write because you want to, write because you need to. But if you want fame and fortune, marry a footballer or a supermodel instead. It'll be far less painful in the long run.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New Year, New Laptop

Recently, I encountered an author's worst nightmare. Okay, maybe not worst, but one that probably ranks in the Top Ten.

My laptop died. I mean, literally. I had taken it to the library, and, when I returned home, I plugged it in to charge the battery. Everything seemed fine. So I went upstairs.

When I returned to my office, the screen was black and the power was off. I disconnected the adapter and tried turning the laptop on with only the battery. No luck. No luck, either, removing the battery and only using the adapter.

The DH took the computer apart, and we determined one cause to be the voltage regulator. Repaired it, but there seemed to be other issues, and we finally decided -- after a few days of troubleshooting -- that it was time for a new PC.

Now, a lot of people would be excited at the prospect of getting a new PC. I like my laptop. Have had it for six years. But I've accepted I need to say goodbye. Hopefully, the hard drive wasn't damaged, so I'll be able to transfer the files.

I'm not worried about losing files, since I store most on Dropbox, OneDrive, or on a secured personal storage cloud.

Needless to say, this incident has temporarily affected my writing. For the first time in a few days, I'm finally able to get back to my revisions. Part of it was the troubleshooting and doing research on computers. The DH has decided he's going to continue experimenting with the DOA laptop.

Meantime, I'm looking forward to the new one coming in. Not looking forward to putting the programs on, but it could have been a lot worse.