Writing & Indie Thoughts
I wonder if Kathy Reichs still does such prosaic things as washing dishes. I’m sure Stephen King doesn’t mow the lawn. Robert Rankin’s capable of anything I imagine. He’d more than likely happily wash a pile of greasy pans wearing only a rubber apron and a pink floral shower cap. That’s one of the reasons that I’m so partial to him as a person as well as respecting him greatly as the author of some of the craziest books I’ve ever read. I certainly have to do an inordinate amount of prosaic things though. Just lately it’s been zooming around trying to save things from water damage, and drying out soggy corners to prevent mould. The biblical proportions of rain we’re having has uncovered quite a few leaky bits in the roof. So once again the dream of a romantic corner in an attic somewhere creating fantastical tales takes a back seat to manual labour. I’ve pretty much given up on apologising for always being late for everything too. Anyone who knows the sorts of things that come my way would probably be more surprised if I wasn’t late.
I’m getting African Me & Satellite TV ready for publication on the 31st March. My hero’s diaries need to be filled out with a few poems. That’s just the kind of guy he is. Even though I love poetry, and actually furtively stalk quite a few modern poets, unbeknownst to themselves of course, I’ve never actually had a proper try at writing any. When that sort of thing was happening at high school I was a lot more interested in a gorgeous rugby playing, two legged, poem called Michael, if I recall correctly. It’s a miracle that I passed English at all. So, just as soon as I’ve washed the dishes, fed the feathered horde, bleached a couple of suspiciously mouldy looking walls, and caught up with my beloved social networking, I’ll dig out my mauve beret, find a suitably stubby pencil somewhere, and see if I can wax poetic on the bench near the birdbath under the coffee tree. I’m doubtful of a satisfactory outcome though, so I’ll probably just tiptoe around the web as well, and see if any of my favourite poets would be gracious enough to give me some tips. Much as I love them, some poets carry an air of brooding danger about them, and can seem a little intimidating to us mere mortals. Whether this is cultivated or something particular to the general genetic make-ups of bards I don’t know, but I’ll take care nevertheless. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite poems to be getting on with, and another famous writing, which, whether poem or not, is one of the most beautiful things you could ever read, and an awesome credo to try and live your life by.
Till next time friends. xxx
How Do I Love Thee?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight.
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use, in my old griefs,and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
Today is the wonderful, soppy, and slooshiest day of the year, as I imagine you might already know – Valentines Day. And yes, I am a romantic soul. I can indeed sloosh it up with the best of them, and wax lyrical for hours about all sorts of heart-palpitating and blush inducing things. Today though, I think I’ll stick to my most ardent passion. Books. What a surprise, you say? Well.
I’ve heard that Amazon has the rights to sell second hand e-books. They haven’t actually decided to exercise this right yet, but already there is much noise about the concept. Some authors are most indignant, considering the fact that if readers can sell their books at much lower prices than the “new”, this will mean rather large drops in their overall book sales. Readers on the other hand, say that if they have paid good money for a book, e or otherwise, it belongs to them, and they should be allowed to do with it as they wish.
From my point of view, I don’t believe that this will be a terrible thing. I’ve spent many hours of my life in second hand bookshops, before gleefully scurrying home with piles of newly bought books to read. Books that I would not have bought as new. Not because I’m a tightwad in any way, I hastily add. Some of these books I would never have come across, because they weren’t in the Top Ten section of new books for sale. Others because I didn’t “know” the authors, and I would rather spend the big bucks for a brand new book on one of my old favourites.
These battered old second hand books gave me many passionate new loves. Now I buy every single new book put out by quite a few authors that I would never have looked twice at in the new books section. This seems like a situation where everyone wins. Writers have new readers to adore them. People who for one reason or another don’t, or can’t afford to buy new books, get to read new authors, and of course fall madly in love with them. So, I for one, am most certainly feeling the warm glow of stocking my kindle up with new writer guys to get all hot and heavy with. Bring it on Amazon!
So. In the spirit of all this slooshing, and being a little too far away from all my friends for chocolates, sort of thing…. I am of course giving you my short stories again today, if you don’t already have them. From around 00:01CMT – 14th February. And if you feel a slight warming of the heart when you read them, you might very well just fall in love with Shadow People too, which is still far too fresh and nubile to be overly free right now. But that’s the whole point of this kind of loving. Isn’t it?
Till next time friends xxx And today of course, I have to say,
I can’t say that January 2013 has been my favourite month. In general, it’s been just a little rough. I had expected to leisurely edit and perfect my sci-fi/fantasy novel, Shadow People. Instead it was a month of serious illness and other unexpected evils. On the plus side though, I’ve made the most amazing new friends, and learned that most people in the world are most cool indeed. I’ve found that friends of old are more than rocks. I send much love to you guys. I lost my beloved turkeys in a devastating way, and have only lately been able to look my three little survivor chickens in the eye. But all in all, I think I’ll be just fine.
Shadow People will be live on Amazon for your reading pleasure from around six in the morning, Zimbabwe time – that’s the only time I know really. It was published while the mystical words, “Dear God, please don’t let there be any typos.” were recited most enthusiastically. I really hope you like it. I will say that there is no doubt in my mind that Shadow People will carry on. Natalie has much to do yet, and the universe really needs a lot more work. I find myself unwilling to leave the beautiful Lapillus and her inhabitants, so book two is already semi-formed.
In this celebratory state of mind, I would like to give my friends my other two short tales on Amazon. They will both be free on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th February. Not necessarily science-fiction/fantasy like Shadow People, but I hope you will enjoy them anyway. I apologise for my two day absence friends, and thank you for letting me back in.
Join our fantastic community on Google+
Free for you on Saturday and Sunday are:
And if you’d like to read Shadow People…..
Till next time friends. xxx
It’s finally happened. I asked my computer a question it couldn’t answer. Rather, I googled a question that answered most unsatisfactorily. What I want to know is, what would actually happen if an alien-ish spacecraft landed on the Whitehouse lawn? I promise that I haven’t been relieved of my very last marble. It’s just that I’m writing a scene where that happens. I was about to Google and ask about the whole security setup there, as you do, then it occurred to me that that might upset people. To be honest, knowing the sorts of things us scribblers get up to, more than likely the Chief of Security for Alien Spaceships Landing in the Rosebushes would just say, “Aaah. Another one of those weird writer people again.” And ignore me completely. But on the off-chance that they might think I was trying to figure out a way to come for tea and crumpets with the big guy, I changed the wording. I’m thinking I should just make something up in this instance. Considering some of the aliens in my worlds, it’s probably better that I don’t give them the lay of the land. You never know who eyeballs your blog posts these days. I saw the video of that snake-eyed television presenter. I’ve probably said too much already. Anyway.
Apart from slowly catching up in general with various projects, I’m working harder than I knew I could getting Shadow People ready for its zero birthday on the 8th February. January was pretty much a write-off as far as work was concerned, so I’m pleased with myself right now. I’m actually really enjoying reading it as I check for typos, and thinking that one or two other people might too. Getting ignored for a few weeks seems to have made it easier to edit. When I read that Stephen King writes a story all the way through, and then puts it aside for seven months before editing and publishing, it didn’t really make sense to me. Surely it’s better to edit when the story is fresh in your mind? Looks like our Steve is right again. Right now though, I’d better get back to figuring out whether to wait politely for the aliens to exit their ship, or blast the little buggers for squishing the hydrangeas.
Till next time friends. xxx
I’m trying to tidy up the mess I’ve made of my desk these last few weeks. A proper mess it is too. I’ve put hundreds of notifications in a terrifying selection of “To Do” files on my computer, and left little scribbled notes to myself all over the place. I’m trying not to look at the 2 891 Unread Emails notice, although I’m guessing that they’ll just have to stay that way for a few more days. From a very wobbly start to the week, I finally seem to have my brain back to firing on most of its cylinders, and these little notes that I kindly sent to myself are looking more like the rantings of a crazed stalker than little old me. Most of it’s in red pen too. Very threatening indeed. A lot are mercifully illegible, but there are quite a few good story ideas in there. I’m not sure if they’re actually meant to be story ideas, because I honestly can’t remember writing them. It’s just safer to assume that they are, and avoid future therapy.
There was a dour and frightening epistle, which I’m guessing was meant to be my short story for our anthology group. That headed off to its rightful place in the bin on top of a dodgy tomato. There’s a dreadful attempt at poetry that also joined the tomato, and a sketch of what looks like a doughnut. There are two fairly lucid outlines though, that I’ve popped onto my computer for future use, so the weeks haven’t been a total write-off. Now to catch up with my social networking, and hold thumbs that life goes quietly on until after Shadow People and African Me are launched. You never know around here.
It’s funny though, that even though I couldn’t do silly things, like walk to the kitchen in under half an hour or keep both eyes open at the same time, I just carried on with the scribbles. I guess that must make me a writer. An author friend on Google+ was telling me that right in the middle of anaphylactic shock, on a gurney in the ER, all she could think of was to tell her husband to take notes, because there was something she wanted to write about if she made it through. The actual imminent possibility of actually dying didn’t occur to her – just the story. I think when writing is in your blood, you can never stop. It’s all consuming, and every little thing ends up on a page somewhere. We write not only to tell our stories, but sometimes just to share our joys or sadness. And sometimes to exorcise our demons. Write on my friends! We are a lovely, crazy bunch, and I’m off to dive back into the fray.
Till next time friends. xxx
A writer’s style is unique, and has to be maintained. Or does it? I was a little surprised when I first found out that Richard Bachman and Stephen King were one and the same person. When I looked at the books again with that knowledge, I picked up a few similarities, but I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been told. I’ve found books written by other authors that I think could have been written by me, so similar is the “style”. Jilly Cooper’s shorter stories are not at all the same as her biggies, like Riders and Rivals. Should she be criticized for playing with her style? If an author writes a horror story, is he not allowed to go on to write a romance?
There are some very fixed opinions about writing these days. How about the dialogue? That seems to be shouted the loudest. Stick to loads of dialogue, and your book will sell millions. Why do I have to have everyone chatting their heads off all the time? What’s wrong with descriptive writing? I like reading descriptive writing when it’s well executed. And God forbid trying to be poetic in any way. Nope, stick to the dialogue.
As far as genres and styles are concerned, I have no intention of ever restricting myself. Why make writing stories a terrible mission, trying so hard to stick to these so called rules, that creating a tale stops becoming the joy that it should be to do? All I’m getting from hearing these things, is that if you have your characters all jabbering away madly, make sure that you use very simple English – readers these days don’t understand big words apparently, and trust that readers are really good at guessing what you actually mean, or what anything looks like, you will have everyone love your books, and sell loads, regardless of anything else. As an avid reader myself, I find that incredibly insulting. If any of that were true, then Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World wouldn’t have made a penny, and from what I’ve heard, it’s doing alright.
My short stories were written very specifically to be whimsical and dark. Brothers Grimm meets twenty twelve. There are long sections of descriptive writing in both of them, but that’s the whole point of the exercise. It didn’t happen accidentally. They’re supposed to resemble dark fairy tales for adults. I like to think that most people who read them will get that. African Me is modern, and does actually have a lot of dialogue. Not because I concentrated on not being descriptive. It just happened that way. Shadow People is completely different again. How would you describe alien worlds and beings with dialogue?
“Hey, the sand here is green, and sort of glittery.”
“Yeah, wow. And that demon over there is really tall and scary looking.”
“I see that there are two suns here also.”
“And a spaceship even.”
Trust your own instincts with the way you write. There are as many different readers as there are genres and styles. Obviously you are going to get things wrong. Some will love you, and some will not. Fix what you believe is wrong, but never be dictated to. I have a lot to learn before I find my “style”. I know I have to work on not writing sentences long enough to wrap houses in, and I tend to use too many ands, and, and…
It’s important to spell correctly. I won’t argue with that. I did use rubinesque at some point though. That’s not a word apparently, but to me it conjures images of buxom ladies eating grapes, so there it is. There are certain grammatical rules which have to be stuck to. But then again, the object is to enter the story, with a good novel, and not just read words in front of you, so bend the rules a little if it works. Write because you love it, and write the way you love to write. There are no guarantees that anyone will like what you do, but then again there are no guarantees that they won’t.
I am still lagging sadly behind with my editing of African Me. Well maybe not sadly. Now that I’ve taken to not restricting myself with dates and times, I’m enjoying the process, and starting afresh on the cover design. Creativity can’t live side by side with stress, I don’t think. Maybe there is something to be said for the Yogi belief that if you accept whatever comes your way with equanimity, it will always turn out well. In the end, that is. I hope.
I’m managing to keep up with my daily word target for the NaNoWriMo, and I’m happy with that. At the end of the process, I want to have a fairly clean story, that can be edited in a week or two, so I don’t want to write reams of rubbish that will need major surgery. Shadow People is about as far away from my usual scribbles in content as it could be. Who knows? Maybe that’s a good thing.
I am bonding with my new laptop. I found it slightly threatening, and smug, to begin with, and I can’t bang away at its little keyboard, as I do with my desk dinosaur, but we’re making friends slowly. Apart from when it was setting itself up, and showed me my own, first thing in the morning face, to test its camera. Frightening! Certainly not the sort of thing I want to see before I’ve had my tea. I quickly threw a cloth over it, just in case it was broadcasting this terrifying dandelion looking thing to all my friends out there in cyberworld, but nobody has unfriended me yet, so I’m hoping I’m safe.
My new baby weaver, Kewpie, has sorted out his limbs, and is doing well now. I’ve managed to remove, with olive oil, the concrete-like piece of porridge that had been clinging to his chin, and making him so closely resemble Ramses II. He’s looking pretty cute now, and trying to copy Jelly’s singing. My parrots are not at all amused. They don’t approve of all the noise, or the flinging around of bugs. They prefer a nice civilized breakfast of bacon and toast. Bugs give them the willies.
We are fairly new to this area, so the ways of nature in the different seasons here are all yet to be discovered. This morning I woke up to what sounded like fairly heavy rain on the roof. I was very pleased. We’ve had our first rain, but could definitely do with more, to push the green shoots up faster through the fire blackened fields around us. I then discovered several wee beasties clinging to my hair, and scratchily snuggled up against me in my bed. I deserve a medal for not running screeching into the hills. I quietly headed off to the furthest bathroom from the bedroom, just in case a scream would, in fact, be necessary. I have been writing about otherworldly creatures for five days now after all.
On closer inspection, I found that these were rose beetles. Not so terrifying maybe, but tenacious little sods. It was them hitting the roof that made me think it was raining so hard. I couldn’t get them all out of my barnett before my bird family awoke, looking for their breakfasts. My parrots took one look at my writhing head, and headed for the pelmets, totally grossed out at the creatures in my hair, but my two little weavers went to work, helping me get them to unclamp their powerful beetle legs. Interesting start to the day, and inspiration for a world of bugs, I’m thinking.