Inspiration

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“Ideas are like rabbits, you get a couple and learn how to handle them and pretty soon you have a dozen. –  John Steinbeck.

Inspiration is a funny thing, it can strike when we are least expecting it and it can lead us in directions that we could never imagine.

Way back when I was still employed, I was sent by my boss on a course in Portsmouth for a week.  Before I went; people who had already been on the course warned me that the hotel was not exactly five-star accommodation.

And when I opened the door to my room, I could see what they meant, it was the sort of place, I thought to myself, where you would not be surprised to find a body in the bathroom.

At the time I had one book published and to be honest was a little unsure where my writing journey might take me.

The body in the bathroom idea stayed with me and I guess my subconscious must have worked in it because I found myself wondering what I would do if I had opened the door and actually found one, what would happen? Why was it there? and what it could mean in terms of my future actions?

From there it was easy(?) to develop the idea for a book, to use it as a starting point for an adventure and Ribbonworld was born. Ribbonworld gave me the idea for a yet to be published sequel, using the same characters and the unfinished business that always seems to exist in any book. The undeveloped plot strands, the back story and the characters that pass through the plot all have stories to tell, sometimes hinted at, sometimes worthy of a more detailed examination.

I wrote the sequel and what do you know? by ending it where I did, although it’s a perfectly sensible place to end that particular tale, it sets up the third book in what is rapidly becoming a series.

And the same pattern continues, people asked if there will be a sequel, you think about it and ideas flow. Or perhaps you do a bit of research, invent a back story and realise it has potential. Before you know it, a whole new world opens up.

And that’s where the quotation at the start comes in, you have one idea and before you know it, there are a hutch full, it’s almost as if once you start exercising a creative muscle, it develops and grows stronger on its own.

Find out about the body in the bathroom at myBook.to/Ribbonworld

Indie Author Tips

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Hi everybody, today I have a few tips for authors who exist in a community of the same. The reason I’ve done this is because often, in some circles, authors would rather lie to somebody to receive positive feedback than tell others the truth about their work and help them progress.
When you’re an indie author you’ll be given lots of opportunities to review other people’s work in exchange for them doing you the same service. While I do not condone lying to the people you’re helping out, and believe you should maintain a good level of integrity we do absolutely believe that there is a certain way to review a product.
For example, a book you have read is terrible and you in no way want to be advertising the product as good for fear of losing said integrity, but you also want the author to come away from your exchange happy and with an understanding of what they can do to improve their work. In this instance you should pick at the parts of the book you did like; i.e. strong character development or a plot device that worked really well, or even the potential for an amazing story. Make sure the elements you pick out are genuinely strong points and tell people that this is what worked within the story, and give the author the same feedback, but make sure you do it in a friendly and supportive way. In offering this positive feedback you are always going to stroke somebody’s ego and that’s a far better way to review a bad product than by slating its worth. People don’t take kindly to being stomped on and we absolutely understand why; there’s never a need to diminish somebody’s worth or their work because you didn’t like it, and the author in question will always come away a lot happier with positive and constructive criticism.
On the flip side of this however, there is, of course, those authors whose work you did enjoy in some format and these are the authors whose work you need to push in every way possible. To collaborate on advertisements with other authors with a high calibre of work will give you a good name, and other authors who want their work reviewed by you so they may receive some of your flattery will, therefore, offer to review your work, thus promoting you further, and so on and so forth. What a lot of independent artists don’t like to admit is that their product will not reach mainstream success without the help of fellow authors, if at all.
So when going into you writing career, make sure to bring plenty of positivity and a touch of grace with you, because it’s better to be a friendly advocate for somebody’s work as opposed to being superfluously unkind. It’ll make a better name for you in the long run.


My other point today is that sometimes you will have to shamelessly promote yourself sometimes and, again, it’s important that you do it in the right way. Some things you shouldn’t do: beg, reason, humblebrag, exclaim repeatedly all over social media how great your book is, lie, or annoy the hell out of people with repeated posts. No. You should find Facebook pages/blogs/twitter profiles to review your work and post it, so you can share it with an honest opinion from a consumer onto your social media accounts as an author. Believe me, the only thing worse than a badly written book is a badly written book being promoted by a narcissistic social media aficionado. Less is usually more in this instance.


I hope these tips help some of you in the coming months of your careers and look forward to having you back to the site next week. But until then, take care and many thanks!

 

My Favourite Promotional Tips

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The Noble Art of Steampunk

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Hello, everyone. As promised I have an article for you today on the noble art of steampunk, a concept that is equal part aesthetic, ethics, and no small amount of gears. I have written in this genre myself in one of my books The Rocks of Aserol, and found it to be stylish fun. In this article, I will focus on the various concepts that make it so much fun to write in. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a few bits that stick out.
The style: Steampunk as a genre has inspired an aesthetic style that has gone far beyond the covers of the various books written about it. If you go to conventions today you will be hard pressed to find someone not dressed like they’ve stepped right out of an alternate history London, complete with the manners and the accent. This is a genre that comes to life as you write it, and to be part of such a passionate community when you’re writing about it is what makes steampunk so fun. In your books when you describe your setting and characters it might seem superficial to worry about what they’re wearing until you realise that the clothing isn’t just for style. Goggles are a standout accessory for many characters in this genre, but in a world powered by coal and steam they aren’t just for show but they also have a practical purpose like keeping coal dust out of people’s eyes. This is where style meets storytelling because the style is such an integral part of the setting that you can’t just paint over everything with a steampunk brush, it’s got to be part of the world you’re writing about.
The philosophy: although there is a lot of leeway with this subject when writing, usually steampunk draws from the old Victorian period of intellectualism, and it’s often during this time that most stories are set. This was a very interesting time, and I can see why it inspires so many stories, especially with the backroom politics and the grimy underside of this period. Manners, intellectual pursuits, quiet scheming, patriotism, and the forging of an empire through steam are just some of many tropes that define the genre, and each and every one can be told from many different points of view, and make many different stories as a result. It’s always interesting seeing a city from a character’s point of view, and then to see the same city in a very different way from another character depending on their job, social status, and income. Most stories balance between dystopia and idealism and every story can be subtly different depending on the alternate world that’s been created.
The romance: when I speak of romance I refer to the rose-tinted glasses through which people often view ‘the good old days’. A lot of us, even younger generations, have a romanticised view of life in the Victorian era, and many of us take a lot of enjoyment strolling through the streets of old London, or other such cities, in this era. You need an audience for books to be successful and the fact that so many people enjoy this genre means you will always have an audience as long as you can summon up the romanticised image that people have in their minds.
Writing this has reminded me just how much I enjoyed playing in this genre, and I’m looking forward to returning to it even more. I would love to hear from you if you have your own favourite moments from steampunk, it’s always nice to chat.

The Review Process

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Building Your Story from Scratch

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Hi there folks, today I’m back with a post about building your story and how to work out the details of your story before you actually begin writing that. I’m going to list several points and hopefully they’re helpful for you.

So, let’s get started…
 
1. Make a Plan!
So as tempting as it can be, you should not just start writing your story without any notes or an idea of where you’re going with it. Write a basic plan of the plot points and how the story should move forward. This is useful because it keeps a track of all your ideas and it can be revised through the writing process.
 
2. Establish the Basic Rules!
Any universe you write will have unique rules, no matter how big or small. Ultimately you’re going to need to know all the limitations of them and to stay within them. Set these out early so you can stay true to your original idea.
 
3. Research the Genre!
So it helps greatly if you know what popular and overused tropes exist in your universe (example: quaint farm boy saves the world/universe. As happened in Eragon, The Hobbit, etc.), because people buy certain types of stories, but also get bored very quickly with the same thing. And as well as that, each genre includes different themes entirely. While in fantasy characters wouldn’t be found far from a source of magic or a blacksmiths town, in romance you’d expect coffee shops and the theatre. While this sounds simple, in practice it actually becomes a lot more difficult, the more work and detail you attempt to add. So research, you’ll be better off for it.
 
4. Write a Draft!
A brief outline written in the form of a story with the correct plot points will help you to realise what parts of your story don’t fit or need changing. As well as this it gives you something to follow while you write your story fully and will shape your idea of characters and locations far better. Do take into account that by a ‘brief outline’ I mean anywhere from 15,000 – 30,000 words. It should resemble a novel but not be nearly coherent enough to release alone. It does make all the difference.

5. Do Not Pre-Edit!
Finally, you should pay great attention to what you’re writing and annotate what needs fixing. But don’t fix it as you go. By the time you’ve finished your story you’ll find plenty of things throughout that need changing and often they will affect other things earlier or later in the story. You begin to lose track if you try to edit from the middle onwards. Definitely, don’t do the editing until after you’ve finished. The bonus to this is you can do one run through for the edit before handing it off to beta readers, as opposed to editing different sections over and over again until everything is coherent. And chances are, working that way, things won’t be coherent.
 
Hopefully, this has helped you, and I appreciate your time at my website. They’ll be another post this time next week with a similar theme, so come back then if you found this helpful. Have a great week folks.

 

Myra has landed

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I received two boxes from Ingram this week, 50 pristine copies of Myra have arrived. I’ve been busy sending out pre-orders, but I still have a few copies left if anyone’s interested.

The cost is £7 including U.K. postage, you can buy with this link,

 

I’ve also been delivering stock, here’s the view in one of the places where my work is available, the Funky Aardvark in Teignmouth after I had re-stocked the display.

 

 

and better still, I met up with the amazing Vicki-Lea Boulter, the genius behind the cover art. Tea was consumed and new projects discussed.

And the final piece of news, the official launch will be on March 15th at East Town Cafe in Crediton. See the event on Facebook. I will be there from 10 am until 2 pm and will have all my novels available at a special price. There might also be a short story for you. Andorra Pett may put in an appearance as well.

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