Learning. Adapting. Improving.

Wow… What a busy weekend! Saturday, I drove a Lotus Elige around a skid pan. The first few circuits were with an ex race-driver, advising me on where I was going wrong and coaching me on how to improve. I had a few spin outs at the start, but a few hours later, I was driving the car alone, drifting around the slippery track, in full control of the vehicle. It was really exciting and so much fun, I just wanted to keep gliding around the circuit (but I had to come off and make way for the next bunch of thrill seekers). The excitement of sliding around in a lotus was followed up by a trip to the movies to see the new ‘John Wick’ movie. Now anyone who really knows me, knows that I like a bit of action, and this film did not let me down. It was full on, edge-of-the-seat, stuff. Car chases, explosions and plenty of violence from start to finish. No deep plot, not much to think about, just a sit-back-and-enjoy-the-thrills kind of movie. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it!

Sunday was a little more subdued. I went to a writer’s workshop titled ‘From Character to Plot’, run by Louise Cusack. It was an informative workshop and really opened my eyes to the fact that, as a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), I do not put a lot of effort into my character development. To sum things up, I went from learning some advanced driving skills to learning some advanced writing skills. I think I even learnt a little about myself. I’ve come to the realisation that my love of action and adventure lends itself to a tolerance for undeveloped characters and plot.

Now, this leads me on nicely to my next point. As you know, I released The Crimson Guild back in March. Well the reviews are starting to trickle in, and guess what? They’re saying that they are enjoying the fast paced story, but the characters feel under-developed. In my opinion, this workshop could not have come at a better time. If I had completed it before I wrote this book, I probably would not have paid much attention to the characterisation content of the workshop. But having listened to feedback, I paid more attention to this content. As a result, I now have some new skills and I’m better equipped, so my commitment to my readers is to work on improving. I will certainly be putting more effort into my character development in future.

To those that have written reviews, thank you. It’s great to hear that people are enjoying my work, but it’s just as important to receive constructive criticism. If you’ve read The Crimson Guild, I’d love to know what you thought. And if you have not read it yet, but you’re interested, you can purchase a copy here.

A Writer’s Dilemma. What Would You Do?

picture-by-shannon-hauser

Picture by Shannon Hauser

For those that follow my blog, you may already know I have been working on a couple of things. Honestly, I can’t remember if I have mentioned it before or not, so you may not know. Anyway… I have a trilogy that consists of a short story, a novella and a novel. These are all written and currently being edited. I also have 2 short stories I’ve released and another 5 in various stages of being written/edited.

I have 2 distinct marketing plans for these:

1 – Release the novella and novel from my trilogy individually at a standard price, then release a boxed set at a reduced price with the short story as a bonus (this short story will be exclusive to the boxed set).

2 – Release the short stories one at a time with standard pricing and no promotion, then when I have 8 or so, release a boxed set. The boxed set will be heavily discounted in comparison to the cost of purchasing all the individual books.

My dilemma is, that now some of the short stories are out there, I really want to start promoting them to generate some interest. There are problems with this though. I don’t want to ‘rip off’ my readers by having them pay full price for individual books. Especially when I know a boxed set will be available for a much better price down the track. I could give free copies away, but then I will not get verified purchases for any reviews on Amazon (which apparently is a must for Authors if they want to sell books). I could make the books exclusive to Amazon and do an Amazon giveaway, but then I have to pull my stories from other places, which I can’t do for one of them.

So what do I do?  I don’t know. But I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you’re a reader or a writer. What would you do?

Is It Weird To Read In One Genre, Yet Write In Another?

How does this work? I love to read fantasy, give me wizards, give me elves, give me goblins, trolls, magic and medieval weapons. Link it all together with a good story and I’m in for the read. But, more and more I’m finding that when I write, I turn to horror. Why? I don’t know. I really don’t enjoy reading horror (unless it’s mixed with fantasy of course). So why am I writing it? It truly baffles me, but for some reason I enjoy writing horror. The first book I wrote was fantasy, and while I enjoyed writing some parts, I struggled through the rest. I’ve yet to release it into the world for all to read. In fact, I still haven’t had it edited. It seems there is always something else I have to do first. But, I have since written a couple of short horror stories, one I have already released and the other is coming out soon. So why do I struggle with fantasy and not horror? Is it because I like fantasy so much that I’m anxious mine might not be good enough? I’m not sure, but I know that after all the time and effort I’ve put into it, I need to get my arse into gear and get my fantasy out there.

Does anyone else have this problem or it is just me?

Thoughts on a Page – Looking Back at Whats to Come

Photo by Renaud Camus

Photo by Renaud Camus

Hello readers, writers, followers and those of you just stopping by. I have tried to get some reading done to meet my Goodreads writing challenge for the year. I don’t think I am going to make it, with seven books left to read in two and a half months, but that won’t stop me trying. As well as reading, I’ve been trying to get some writing done, the combination of which has been enough to see me neglecting my blog a little. Hence I thought I should post something a bit more substantial than another quote. So I got to thinking about what I have done that could provide some content for my blog and it struck me. While I was writing the other night, I thought I would go back and look at something I had written in the past and see just how bad it was, see how far I have come, and to take a look at the direction I’m travelling. I turned to a short story called ‘Low Life’ that I wrote for an anthology called ’18’, published in May 2014. I have not read this piece since its publication and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. I actually enjoyed it. It wasn’t written as well as it could be, and in hindsight, I would make a few changes if I were writing it now, but that’s the beauty of it. I can see my mistakes and I know I wouldn’t make them now, that tells me I have improved. I have come a fair way since then, not just with my writing, but also with my knowledge of other things. Things like editing, marketing, formatting and more. I can look back and be proud of how far I have come. I may not have made good use of all that knowledge yet, but I have a better understanding of how to do things when I am ready to do so. Who knows, if I look forward a year or two, I could be writing another post like this one, looking back at what I have accomplished through hard work and persistence. And maybe I will have finally published a novel. So to all the writers out there, maybe you should go back and see how far you have come, then take a look at where you are going, where you want to be. There’s only one way to get there, keep working for it and never give up on your dreams.

Can We Apply Coaching Techniques To Our Writing?

Photo by Renaud Camus

Photo by Renaud Camus

Continuing on from my post “Thoughts on a Page – Are You A Courageous Writer”, I have been reflecting on my coaching course and think I have another learning that can be applied to my writing. When you coach someone you are trying to get them to realize their own potential. It is not about giving them the answers, it is about getting them to work things out for themselves by asking open questions. For example, a coaching session might go something like this:-

Coachee: “I don’t know how to write this paragraph.”

Coach: “What is it that you’re struggling with?”

Coachee: “Well, I don’t know how someone would act under the influence of alcohol.”

Coach: “So what can you do to understand how someone would act under the influence?”

Coachee: “I could get drunk and see how I act.”

Coach: “You could do that… what other options do you have?”

Coachee: “I could go to the pub and watch other people that are drunk.”

Coach: “And what else could you do?”

Coachee: “I could research how people behave when drunk on the internet.”

Coach: “You have some good ideas, which one do you think is your best option?”

And so on…

I got to thinking, how can I apply this to my writing? The answer hit me straight away. I could ask myself questions. If it’s something that I am struggling with, I could do something like the above, but I can also look at it from my characters point of view.

“What would my character do in this situation?”

“What else could he/she do?”

“If they could do one more thing, what would it be?”

“Are those all his/her options?”

Or how about from a plot point of view?

“What would happen if I took my story in this direction?”

“What else could happen?”

If something even worse happened, what could it be?”

Only by exploring the options, can we choose the best course of action. It may be the best course of action for our character or it may be the best course for our plot. One idea may lead us to another better idea. I’m not sure how well it will work, but I am going to try this in my writing. Why don’t you give it a go too? And please, let me know how you fare.

Thoughts On A Page – Are You A Courageous Writer?

Photo by Renaud Camus

Photo by Renaud Camus

I spent a day in a training course about coaching last week and It always surprises me just how much I can relate back to my writing. In this course I covered Managing with avoidance and Managerial Courage. As the topics suggest, one is about avoiding issues and the other is about being courageous and confronting them. I think this can translate to writing, i.e.Writing with avoidance or writing with courage. I think sometimes we are scared to write what we really want to, through the fear that our readers will not like us. I also think this holds us back, because unless we are courageous writers, we will never truly find our own ‘voice’.

What do you think, does courage help your writing?

Thoughts on a Page.

Photo by Renaud Camus

Photo by Renaud Camus

Sometimes I feel like I’m pushing forwards in leaps and bounds with my writing, and then there are the times when I feel like I haven’t done a thing. I fall into the later of the two scenarios at the moment. I know what to do, I know how to do it, I just can’t be stuffed doing it right now.

I come home from work, cream crackered after sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours. I force myself to sit at my home computer for a few hours more. There are distractions everywhere, pulling my attention from the task at hand – my writing. Then there’s the ‘work’ us authors do. The blog posts, the e-mails, FB, reading, critiquing. It all takes us away from our writing. I seem to be constantly asking myself, “Am I making excuses not to write?” I know the answer to that question is yes, sometimes. Other times I’m just too tired and can’t concentrate on my writing.

I find I have so much going on in my life at present that I have to use my writing time to do other things. I’m still trying to sell my old house. I’ve been talking to another agent to try and shift it, it’s been on the market for nearly 3 months now and still hasn’t sold, in what I’ve been told is a hot market. I need a new car, the old one is constantly threatening to break down on me, it takes 4 or 5 attempts to start most times.

These are all first world problems, I know, and I’m not complaining about it. I’m just thinking that I may need to prioritize things and get them sorted, maybe put my writing on hold and stop beating myself up over the fact that I haven’t written anything today. But then there will always be something that needs doing.

How do you do it? How do you keep doing your thing when life takes over?

Thoughts on a page

Photo by Renaud Camus

Photo by Renaud Camus

When I first started to write a novel I had no idea of the skills and mechanics involved in creating a good book. I was blissfully ignorant about the amount of thought and effort that really went into creating a great story. Fortunately for me, I had a belief. I believed in myself and I said “I can do that.”

Whether we are writing for the masses or our own private pleasure, I think we must all believe in ourselves. I would like to reinforce that by saying “If you are doing it, it’s because you can.” The skills and techniques of writing can be learned, but the hardest part of writing for many of us, is actually sharing our work. Our writing is not just empty words on a piece of paper, it is a glimpse into our soul. We need to let go of the fear of showing people who we are and what we believe in. If we can master that, then we can truly create an amazing story.