Who are you?

Picture by Agustin Ruiz

Picture by Agustin Ruiz

When you blog on a regular basis you get to a point when you wonder what the hell to blog about next, at least I do anyway. So I got to thinking, what haven’t I blogged about that I should be sharing with you, the ones who follow my blog and make it worth while. And it hit me that I really haven’t blogged much about me, the things I do, the things I like, etc… I mean sure, I’ve told you I write, my whole blog is based on that piece of info, but what about all the other stuff? So here is a little about me.

I was born in Australia and raised in the UK, returning to the land down under at the age of 28. I love martial arts and watch UFC, until… well until the next fight night or main event. I grew up watching the likes of Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagles Shadow and Crystal Fist. Jackie Chan is one of my heroes, along with Bruce lee, Jet Li and Donnie Yen.

I have dabbled at being a DJ and played a few parties back in the day (not that I was any good at it, but I enjoyed trying to mix it up on my techniques 1200 SL’s) and I still love music. While on the topic, I have quite an eclectic taste, listening to anything from Blues to Alternative rock. I love Soul, Trance & Rap among other genres. When it comes to music, Eminem is one of my heroes. Which is funny because when I was really into rap I never liked his music. I only started listening to him when he went more commercial and then I had to go back and listen to all his older material, but he truly is a wordsmith and I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.

What may come as a surprise to you is the fact that I never used to read at all. I was always a ‘movie kind of guy’  which you would guess if you saw my DVD collection. Then I started writing and found that reading is a pre-requisite. So I started and haven’t looked back. My biggest problem now is time, I am constantly juggling (as many of us do) to fit everything into each day.

And that’s a little glimpse into my world.

So how about you, what paths have you walked?

Spotlight on the Author – Kirstie Olley

Photo by Pedro Moura Pinheiro

Photo by Pedro Moura Pinheiro

Today’s Spotlight shines brightly on a young, talented author by the name of Kirstie Olley. Kirstie is an author friend that I rub shoulders with at my writers’ group. She is vibrant and energetic, so much so, that I often wonder how much coffee she consumes before each meeting? But then I think – Nah, that’s just how she rolls!

Kirstie has a fascination with Manga, Fantasy and Goldfish. She adores Pokémon and My Little Pony and you can usually pick her out from a crowd, just by looking for the girl wearing the ‘Dr Who’, ‘Pokemon’ or ‘How to train your dragon’ T-shirt. She’s a Spec Fiction writer, living in Brisbane and she has a true passion for her craft – as anyone who spends five minutes talking to her about writing will tell you.

Kirstie loves to write the likes of modern fantasy or fairy tales with a twist, in fact, I think she just loves to write. Her most noted stories to date include:- Stolen Hearts, Short Circuit and Nightfall.

If you would like to find out more about Kirstie and her stories, just follow this link – http://www.storybookperfect.com/

Writing Challenges – What Drives Us?

A big hello to my blog followers out there, and thank you for your continued support. Well, it’s highly likely you are aware that November is National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNoWriMo. (Okay, so I haven’t officially registered for NaNo as I am busy compiling the Beta read feedback on my novel. I do however have a plan to do an unofficial NaNoWriMo with another writer friend in December, so I thought maybe that would count for something). What you will not be aware of is that Bob Clary at Webucator has asked me to write a post in honour of NaNoWriMo. Now I’m no expert on the topic, so to aid me in this task, Bob has provided some questions for me to answer. Here are my responses:-

  • What were your goals when you started writing?

Honestly, I didn’t have a goal. I remember when Harry Potter was released and took the world by storm. I read the first book and (ignorantly) thought, I could do that, how hard can it be! (Oh how naïve was I). But, it was a fleeting thought and I forgot about it and carried on with my life. Some years later, I found myself in a high pressure job. I would come home and jump on my computer to unwind; I’d play games or chat to friends online. One particular night I didn’t feel like gaming, nobody was online and for some reason I remembered the gauntlet (you know, the one I stupidly slapped the face of J.K. Rowling with before throwing it at my feet). So, thinking I should at least make an effort to redeem my honour, I opened word and started writing. I’d always enjoyed creative writing at high school, and when I started writing that night, I realized just how much I enjoyed it. After getting through several scenes, I set my first goal – to ‘really’ write a book. I have come a long way since that night and to cut a long story short, I ended up with a novel. I closed word feeling a sense of achievement and forgot about it.

  • What are your goals now?

The funny thing about goals is that when you set one, you find you set many more, and sometimes they change. Amongst my many current goals are:

  1. Continue learning the craft of writing,
  2. Continue to build my online presence and a following via my blog,
  3. Write a prelude,
  4. Write a sequel,
  5. Continue to build the foundations for my writing career – ie. get my ABN, get my EIN, etc…
  6. Publish (starting with the prelude).
  • What pays the bills now?

Currently, it is my full time job, leading a team of people for an Australian company.

  • Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?

My motivation to keep writing is really the enjoyment I get from it. I am the sort of person that needs to be doing something all the time, I get bored if I do nothing. Writing a novel is so much more than I perceived it to be. There are techniques and rules, research and writing, editing and more editing. There is a business aspect with marketing and publishing, etc… There is even – contrary to popular belief – a social side to writing, if you are brave enough to join a writers’ group. For me, all this keeps my mind active. I am continuously learning new things, continually improving and enjoying the challenges as much as the artistic creation that results from all my hard effort.

  • And optionally, what advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?

My advice:

  1. Read – read novels, read books on writing, read books on creating characters, read about publishing and marketing, let your brain soak it all up and learn.
  2. Join a writers’ group – Not just to learn or for the social aspect, but also because the contacts you make within a writers’ group are priceless. You will build a network of friends with a wealth of knowledge and experience that will support you, help you and encourage you.
  3. Believe in yourself and never give up!
  4. Amid all this, don’t forget to write.

Why? Because it works for me.

Need Something To Fill Your Writer’s Toolbox?

Photo by Matthew Allard

Photo by Matthew Allard

I have been writing for some time now, reading books and blogs, participating in writers’ groups, studying books on writing, etc… For a long time there was one thing that I was not aware of. In all likelihood people probably assumed that I already knew about it. I didn’t, but if I had, I believe I would have found it useful from day one. ‘What is it?’ I hear you ask. The answer is that there are programs out there specifically designed to help writers, write.

I stumbled upon this revelation while following links through blog posts. Once I knew about it, I started asking around and found several people I know use a program called Scrivener, which they inform me is available to purchase at a very reasonable price. I like to try before I buy though and I have not yet used Scrivener. I have however come across a free program called YWriter which I am currently trying out. I have no affiliation with this program or its designer, so I am not trying to pitch for sales here, but from what I have seen of it so far, it will be a very useful tool for my writer’s tool box.

I don’t know if you have something similar that you use to help with your novel writing projects, but in case you do not, I thought I would share this information and let you decide if you want to take a look at it yourself. I am not endorsing this product as I have not used it extensively, I am merely letting people know there are tools out there that may be useful to them. Whether you choose to use them or not is totally up to you, either way, I wish you good luck with your writing endeavours.

All The Words…

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
– Somerset Maugham

Grit those teeth and flex those muscles, it’s time to face the feedback.

Picture by Badda Bing

Picture by Badda Bing

It’s now come to that time when my beta read feedback has started to roll in, and yes, it is scary! It is one of those bitter sweet pills that you know you have to take to get better, but you just can’t force yourself to swallow. The thing is, you put so much into writing a story, that you need to have broad shoulders when it is criticised. It hurts to hear what people have to say when it isn’t all good. You need to steel yourself though, because getting the feedback and honestly analysing what is being said, is critical to making your story, a great story.

I have to admit, I couldn’t help myself…I had to go through some of the responses while I await the final few to be returned. The key for me, is to keep an open mind and decide if I agree with the feedback or if I think it is just the readers preference. I particularly look for similar comments that appear from different people, as these are the easy ones to identify as issues to be looked at (but I note, this is easier to do once all the feedback is returned). Once I have read the feedback I’ve received, I find it easier if I put it aside, let it sit for a week or so while I stew things over, and then I can return to it without the same emotional response and a clearer mind.

After reading the feedback I have so far, I know my novel is still not ready to be released. I was hoping to publish before Christmas, but it isn’t worth publishing something that isn’t ready, so, I sat down and had a think. I have considered if I should spend the next few months completing the final draft, or if I should get on board with NaNoWriMo this week and use it to start the second book in the series. I think Nano may be the better option, because I would like to be a substantial way into writing book two when I publish the first book. I don’t want to keep people waiting too long if they like book one.

What do you think? Any advice for a new author?