Monday, 30 November 2009

Where to hide a gift

This blog is not about writing... well, actually it is because I'm writing it. So there.

I want to give my husband a gift but I need to find a place to hide it from him. So I was thinking...where in the house could I hide this gift? (which will remain secret in case he actually reads this blog...which I think he doesn't.)

Then it came to me... I should hide it where he never looks.
Here is my list:

1) In the fridge behind the milk.
2) With his car keys or with his wallet. (He can never find those items.)
3) Right in front of his face. (Though, that might get painful holding it there for that long.)
4) Beside any button on the actual telly. (Not beside the remote control though, he'll find that even though he'll waste 15 minutes of his life searching for it and I miss the murder once again on Law and Order... damn him.)
5) Beside the broom or mop.
6) In the garbage bin where he's suppose to place the bag sitting inside the house beside the door, smelling up our front hall. (Which reminds me...)
7) In a pot on the stove. (I was going to write that one but occasionally - around dinner time - he goes to the stove, lifts the lids on the empty pots, and asks 'what are we having?' I get the hint.)
8) Beside me. (He only comes round when he's horny and in that case, he still won't notice the gift.)

If you have any ideas...

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Self Publishing

I think I would like to talk about this debated topic today. Should you self-publish? My answer: Maybe.

I self-published my first book for many reasons.
1) It's not in a usual format, it's a novel written like a script. Would it have mass appeal (especially with publishers)? Maybe not.
2) It's my first book. It's difficult to find a publisher for a first book and I wanted to see it in print. I wanted to be able to put it on my bookshelf.
3) I honestly didn't want to shop around for editors and then agents and then publishers. Not for a book I think would be rejected anyway. I wrote the book for me, it was a story dear to my heart and I had no choice but to write it.

Was I happy with my decision? Absolutely! 1,000,000%. Actually, after going through the whole process, designing my cover (which I loved doing and it looks great) and preparing it for printing, I decided I might consider the option for the rest of my books.

Besides, my book is sitting on The only place I, and a few million other people, buy their books.

Also consider this:

Fast-forward to the early 21st century: the publishing industry is in distress. Publishing houses--among them Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Doubleday and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt--are laying off staff left and right. Random House is in the midst of a drastic reorganization. Salaries are frozen across the industry. Whispers of bankruptcy are fluttering around Borders; Barnes & Noble just cut 100 jobs at its headquarters, a measure unprecedented in the company's history. Publishers Weekly (PW) predicts that 2009 will be "the worst year for publishing in decades."

I think publishing the old-fashion way will be gone soon. I think people will read on computers, cell phones, mp3s. Anything but paper.

But, large publishing houses do exist. And if money, fame and large contracts are your reasons for writing...go that way. But, the self-publishing route is here now without the stigma and I think it's here to stay.


Saturday, 28 November 2009

A damn good opening - How-to

At a bookstore, I'm always on the lookout for new authors, especially those who write series. Like many buyers, I walk in and peruse the section (mystery mainly) for un-read books. I skim the back and then read the first few paragraphs of the prologue or chapter one. If I don't like what I read, I put the book back and move on.

This is common. I doubt I'm the only one who does this. Hence, the importance of 1) a great opening and 2) a great back cover.

Really, if you don't have a great opening, it won't get past the editors or the agents or the publishers, never mind the readers.

So what can an author do to increase his chances in this dog-eat-dog publishing world?

To sum up, you want the reader to ask one question: What happens next? Damn it, tell me already!

1) Begin your story at an important moment in time. Many mystery writers begin with the murder.
2) Cut that crap out! That means, no background. No un-needed words. No long-winded descriptions of anything. Period.
3) Dramatic tension. Make sure that your chapter is enthused with dramatic tension. This could be the promise of conflict, or by hinting at a mystery, or emotional turbulence.

Keep the first chapter short. If you look down at your word count and it says 1000 and you're 1/4 or 1/2 way through, it's too long in my opinion. Make sure it has enough conflict in as few words as possible.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Funny Terrible Bad Opening Paragraphs of Novels Contest

Because I review chapters from new writers everyday, I come across some really bad writing. What I find difficult is when the new book I'm reading has a really terrible opening paragraph or line. So, I thought I would look for some advice on what makes a good opening paragarph. Instead, I found this article online. It's from a 2006 writing contest. These paragraphs are some of the opening paragraphs from the entries.

Now you can know what NOT to do... (Source here)

The McCain boys strode off proudly to fight in the Civil War, one for the Union and one for the Confederacy, neither of them giving a single thought to who would play them in the television movie of their story, which would be decided more than a hundred years later by 20-something casting agents who kept gettingthe Civil War and World War II mixed up.
Carmen Fought
Diamond Bar, CA

When Debbie decided that Salt ‘n’ Pepper Beard was the most attractive pirate on the ship, she realized that choosing him was due to the advice of Sylvia, her new Life Coach, to be realistic about her own age and to open herself up to romance where it lay, unlike the troublesome past where she would have wished that only the younger pirates take advantage of her.
Jim Guigli
Carmichael, CA

If Gilbert had known then what he knew now, he would have seen that the dilemma facing him–to do a good deed for the wrong reason or to do a bad deed for the right reason–had long ago been shown to be two sides of the same coin by the philosopher known as Theragora of Crete even though he was not from Crete at all, but from Malta, which of course was not called Malta when Theragora was there.
Hubert Kennedy
Concord, CA

The king’s men breathed heavily under their thick black hoods as they secured the wrists and ankles of prisoner William Tumey of Kent and as the rack’s handle began to turn the ropes tightened and William’s limbs were slowly stretched in opposite directions until his spine began to pop much like a bag of Redenbachers in a microwave and for something like the time it takes a hummingbird’s wings to complete one cycle William smiled and euphorically languished in perfect lumbar alignment.
Daniel Kern
Boise, ID

A single sparkling tear fell from Little Mary’s cheek onto the sidewalk, then slid into the storm drain, there to join in its course the mighty waters of the Los Angeles River and, eventually, Long Beach Harbor, with its state-of-the-art container-freight processing facilities.
Bill Mac Iver
Berkeley, CA

Her angry accusations burned Clyde like that first bite of a double cheese pizza, when the toppings slide off and sear that small elevation of the oral mucosa, just behind the front teeth, known as the incisive papilla, which is linked to the discriminatory function of the taste buds except, where Clyde was concerned, when it came to women.
Pamela Patchet Hamilton
Beaconsfield, Quebec

It had been a dark and stormy night, but as dawn began to light up the eastern sky, to the west the heavens suddenly cleared, unveiling a pale harvest moon that reposed gently atop the distant mesa like a pumpkin on a toilet with the lid down.
Gerald R. Johnson
Vancouver, WA

Lisa moved like a cat, not the kind of cat that moves with a slinky grace but more like the kind that always falls off the book shelf when he’s washing himself and then gets all mad at you like it’s your fault (which it wasn’t although it probably was kind of mean to laugh at him like that), although on the bright side, she hardly ever attacked Ricky’s toes in his sleep.
Debra Allen
Wichita Falls, TX

He rose quickly when she entered, not like the flag being raised at the American Legion in a jerky fashion, but more like the light red Creme Soda in the straw of a teenage girl or boy on the back porch of his mobile home late in the evening.
Ron Bird
Lakehills, TX

The nervous and untried exotic dancer seemed to cling protectively to her brass pole like the edge of a roll of plastic wrap when you are looking for the beginning of the roll and it seems like it’s healed up or melted into the rest of the wrap until finally you just give up and use foil or wax paper instead.
Dwight Jenkins
Sun City, CA

The steam rose off his sweaty red flannel shirt like cotton candy on a cardboard cone, if cotton candy were transparent in a misty sort of way and didn’t actually stick to its cone, but instead rose upwards something like steam rising off a sweatyflannel shirt in the twilight of an early winter Vermont afternoon.
T. Edward Lavoie
Essex Junction VT

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Great online resoarces for writers

I thought I would compile a list of some of the great websites I use when writing my novels:

1) - I use this a lot. Why? Because of a new thing called 'street view' I can walk the streets of various cities. I can look around, look at the buildings, the trees, the architecture. It's a wonderful way to know what your characters are seeing. I choose a street and zoom down and describe it. I don't have to put on my jacket and actually go there anymore. I can finally be the recluse I've always wanted to be.

2) - This is, of course, an obvious one. But I also do a lot of picture searching. For instance, sometimes I have a minor character come up and I want to give him/her a face. So I will type something like'Carl' or 'Carol' into the search bar and search the picture results for someone I can use as a character. That way, when I describe a character, I have something concrete in my mind.

3) - This site is a real estate site. They sell, let, and buy properties and you can see pictures and 360 degree views of various properties. Why do I go here? I find houses or flats that my characters live and and use it for description. Do you see a theme here? I have issues with description and like to see what I need describe.

4) - If you don't know what these are or don't use them, you should.

5) - a writing community is very important. You should get feedback on your chapters or stories. Sometimes writers get in the habit of loving their work too much, we all need to be brought down to earth on occasion. This site is great. I have been with them for over two years and my writing has improved ten fold. The key is reviewing... NOT GETTING REVIEWED. I mean it. Reviewing others work is so important. No better way to see what is wrong with your work than noticing what is wrong in what you read of others. Plus, the more you review, the more reviews you receive.


7) wikipedia - If you can't find it here, it probably doesn't exist.

8) - Some people like quotes. Some people put them above every chapter.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Novelists: Write what you know?


It makes sense, doesn't it? That's why, as a mystery writer, I've had to commit some pretty gruesome murders...oh wait, someone's at the door. Police? What do they want?

(nine hours later...Thank god for bail.)

So to put it another way, NO! No, you don't have to write what you know. I have never murdered anyone, or had my son kidnapped or dealt with a serial killer, or worked for MI5.

In fact, I highly doubt any of the science fiction writers out there have written about anything they've experienced personally. The more imaginative, the better.

However, that being said, it's vital as a writer to do research (I will blog on this subject tomorrow.) To be as accurate as you can, it's important to find out more information and we have a great tool for that...THE INTERNET.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Personality Profiles

Recently, I submitted to one of those Myers-Briggs personality tests. I actually found it quite fascinating. Anyway, I apparently am an INTJ and when I read the information about the personality type, I found it quite accurate.

 I'm 100% introverted which is not unusual for writers. We tend to be... well, I tend to be.

I'm 12% intuitive. What that means, I'm not quite sure. But, I guess I'm only 12%. Intuitive people are those who easily think "outside the box". While a sensing person reasons from Point A to Point B to Point C and so forth, an intuitive person can go from Point A straight to Point F without any trouble. 

I'm 36% in the thinking category. And, apparently, that doesn't mean I think 36% of the time.

I'm 56% judging. People with judging temperaments are not necessarily critical. They just like to have things decided and acted upon. They evaluate, make their decision and go on. If they have to rethink something, they will, but they don't like waffling or bullshit.

A distinction between perceiving and judging:
Perceiver: We haven't had peaches in three months.
Judger: We should have peaches for dinner.

 I found this about the INTJ and it's bang on. Link here.

We’re smart.
37% of INTJs have IQ’s that place us in the top 2% of the general population. We are visionaries, strategic (and compulsive) planners, big-picture thinkers, complex problem solvers, adept decision makers, conceptualists, theorists, and pattern recognizers – in short, we are “masterminds” [insert evil mastermind laugh here].
We don’t do feelings.
We use critical thinking, reason, and logic. We have a tough time with people who make decisions based on emotions, and we can often come across as blunt and cold because we ignore the feelings of others. But on the plus side, we take criticism well since we have no feelings to hurt.
We live inside our heads.
We frequently zone out. We get lost in thought and spend much of our time inside our heads. If our immediate reality becomes boring, we will retreat into our minds, and you might have to shout our names repeatedly to get our attention so we will come out again. And no, sorry, but you can’t come into our heads with us. You wouldn’t last five minutes there. You’d be driven insane by the nonstop cacophony of overlapping voices madly free-associating from one idea to the next.
We are self-confident.
No type is more self-confident than the INTJ. We have a very keen awareness of our own knowledge and abilities, and – more importantly – of the limits of our knowledge and abilities. Consequently we can come across as arrogant sometimes. This is your problem to deal with, not ours, since it is a problem of erroneous perception (yours).
We are aloof.
Because we are somewhat detached from reality, because we are introverted (we find interacting with people to be tiring and tiresome), because we are very private, and because we are impassive, we tend to come across as rather reserved and aloof. Okay, we actually are reserved and aloof.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I find an INTJ?
A: We INTJs are über-introverts, so we prefer asynchronous and semi-anonymous forms of communication. We get most of our socialization through internet forums and Usenet newsgroups. Look for us there.

Q: How can I break up with my INTJ?
A: Tell us the truth. We'll reply, "Sure, why not?", and go on with our lives

Q: My INTJ just told me I’m retarded. Should I take offense?
A: You probably are retarded, by our standards. But don’t take offense. Our standards are so high that even we don’t meet them. We judge ourselves more harshly than we judge others.
Q: My INTJ isn’t sensitive to my feelings. Should I take offense?
A: We aren’t even sensitive to our own feelings. Why should we be expected to be sensitive to yours? We won’t even try to fake it. Insincerity is a pet peeve of ours, and anyway, it would ruin our reputation if we ever showed emotion.
Q: Why doesn't my INTJ ever show emotions or feelings?
A: Because he doesn’t have any.
Q: What are the pet peeves of INTJs?
A: Thanks for asking. Our pet peeves are:
* We dislike surprises.
* We hate having decisions made for us. We’re INTJs; nobody is more qualified to make decisions than us.
* We dislike getting gifts, as it burdens us with the need to reciprocate.
* We hate small talk, gossip, and relationship/people talk. Really anything mundane is beneath us.
* We get particularly annoyed by attacks on our intelligence, competence, and integrity.
* We hate it when people try to manipulate us.
* Insincerity and lying.
* People interfering with our alone time.
* People who are chronically late.
* People who talk incessantly. We will just engage our “nod and smile” autopilot and mentally go somewhere else.
* People who are stupid, arrogant, opinionated, and/or closed minded.
* Crooked/badly placed pictures.
* Superficiality (body piercings, pimped out cars, brightly colored anything).
* Salespeople. INTJs are immune to emotional manipulation and have zero tolerance for lines of bullshit.
* Incorrect grammar and word usage.
* People who waste our time (see Salespeople, people interfering with our alone time, etc.).

Q: Why can’t my INTJ remember anything?
A: This is normal. Most of us INTJs are very forgetful. We have too much going on in our heads at any time to remember a lot of new stuff. Also, we zone out and go into autopilot mode quite frequently. We often won’t remember where we put our car keys because we weren’t “there” when we did it.
Q: And sarcastic as hell, too.
A: Sarcasm is a free public service we provide to those within earshot. No need to thank us. We also do irony, hyperbole, word-play and puns, one-liners, quick-witted observations and flippant remarks, and abstract and deep philosophical insights on nonsensical themes. Our sense of humor tends to be dry, warped, and morbid, and not everybody "gets" us.
Q: Why is my INTJ so… well, so freakin’ WEIRD??!?
A: It’s probably just a side effect of the way our brains work. Many of us tend to be rather obsessive-compulsive, for instance ordering our cd’s, dvd’s, and books by genre then alphabetically (by title for dvd’s, by group then title for cd’s, and by author then title for books, except for series which must be kept in appropriate serial order). Most of us have other quirks as well, e.g., always eating M&M’s in a specific color order, naming our children in alphabetical order, etc. It’s a small price to pay for genius, really.

Take the test.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

It's that time again!

Well, it's time again to submit. Every year, I enter one of my mystery books in the Dagger Awards, a prestigious award for best mystery or crime fiction. It's a British award.

I haven't won yet but, I have to try.
What to write: (This advice is actually for any writing fiction.)

The Chapter(s)

Leave ’em hanging

We used to describe the 3000 word opening as the ‘first chapter’, but a lot of authors write chapters which are substantially shorter than 3000 words. To clarify: you should send in as much as you can within the word limit, but send chapters not chunks. The point of a chapter is that it has a clear structure, and builds to a dramatic conclusion of some sort. The same should be true of the entry as a whole, however many chapters it is. Don’t let it dribble out on the 3000th word: build to a cliffhanger or climax which leaves the reader desperate for more.

Cut to the chase

If you are writing for a competition like the Debut Dagger, try to have a significant scene. That doesn't mean you have to have a body on page one, but if you have ten or twelve pages to play with, make sure you use them. One of the beauties of fiction is that you can skip over all the boring bits of life: taking the long way round slows things down for your reader, and doesn't make best use of the limited space you have to impress the judges.

Hoard your characters

Characters are the key to the story: if the reader doesn’t care who people are, he won't care what they're doing. Try to give each character a solid introduction, and don't overload the reader with too many characters at once. As the author, you've probably spent months or even years with your characters and you know exactly who they all are, but the reader doesn't have that advantage. This is particularly true for the Debut Dagger, when the judges are having to meet whole new casts of characters at bewildering speed.

Build Tension

Many of the entries that work best grip the reader with a genuine sense of tension. This isn't just about overt danger or violence: it's amazing how dull a gruesome murder can be made to seem if it's written badly. Effective tension comes from a sense of menace and anticipation, built up with mood, little clues and tell-tale signs.

Beware the malapropism.

Typos are bad and you should strive to eliminate them, but if a few typos could ruin a novel then most bookshops would have empty shelves. Far more dangerous is using a homonym or near-homonym to unintentionally hilarious effect. Two examples we’ve come across (in strong entries) were the man being chased through the supermarket who hid in the 'isle of crisps', and the 'burlesque policeman' who walked into the room. Both of these made the readers laugh out loud, breaking the tension of otherwise good scenes.

Avoid cliché

There are any number of clichés associated with crime fiction – grizzled cops, hard-boiled PI’s, sexy dames and psychopathic villains, to name but a few. Part of the fun of working in the genre is being able to play with these stereotypes, but you’ve got to do something new with them. One year an editor made the plaintive - or pointed - observation: 'Why are all innocent female victims invariably blond and beautiful?'
The warning against clichés applies equally (or even more) to language. Unless you're writing for a tabloid, avoid really common terms: 'emotional rollercoaster'; 'heart-stopping surprise'; or, a pet hate, 'feisty'.

The Wow Factor

It seems fitting to leave the last word on this subject to another one of the judges. For any chapter to count in a competition like this, the reader must put the material down thinking ‘Wow!’; and then, ‘I need to read more’. It's not enough for the reader to want to read more, they must put the excerpt down feeling they need to know what happens next.
It's only 25 British Pounds.
If you want more information about how to enter both online or by mail, check this link.

Friday, 13 November 2009

For Fans of Jane Austen

I noticed this article from BBC News. Well, I love Jane Austen so... Sources: here and here

Rare Austen letters cause excitement

By Claire Prentice
BBC News, New York
A major Jane Austen exhibition, which has opened in New York, is creating a huge stir among fans and cultural commentators.
More than 100 items, including rare manuscripts and letters written by the British author to her family, have gone on display at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan.
"You can really get up close to the letters - get your nose in," says Morgan curator Declan Kiely.
"You feel you are getting to know Austen even though she is unknowable in some respects."
The letters - which is the largest collection in the world - are full of the author's famous stinging wit and her spirited sense of humour.
In one, written to her niece for her eighth birthday, Austen wrote each word backwards, creating a puzzle for the young recipient.
Only a small number of the author's personal letters have survived, and opportunities to see them in public are rare.
"There have been so many Jane Austen adaptations over the last 20 or 30 years. It seemed like a timely moment to show this collection," says Mr Kiely.

'Thoroughly modern'
Nearly two centuries after her death, Austen is more popular than ever, thanks in part to numerous book, TV and film adaptations of her work.
These have starred a host of Hollywood actors including Colin Firth, Anne Hathaway and Kate Winslet.
In October, BBC One screened a new version of Emma, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai.
A highlight of the exhibition is the only surviving and complete handwritten manuscript of one of Austen's novels, Lady Susan.
Composed in 1794-95, the story is a dark, satirical novel about a widow, determined to find a husband for herself and her shy daughter at any cost.
"We are very excited about Lady Susan. It hasn't been shown in public for many years," said Marsha Huff, President of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
"Austen's themes are universal, her characters are believable and her heroines are thoroughly modern.

There's no doubt people will still be reading her 200 years from now
Marsha Huff, President of the Jane Austen Society of North America

An unfinished manuscript of The Watsons is annotated with detailed revisions.
It is the only surviving Austen manuscript which shows her work in progress.

Poignant letter
Other exhibits include a note in which Austen lists the amount of money she has made on each of her novels.
In another, she has written down her expenses, which included clothes, stamps and meat from the butcher.
But, perhaps the most poignant is a letter dated 20 July 1817, written by Cassandra to Fanny Knight - Austen's beloved niece - reporting the author's death.
"I have lost a treasure, such a sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed," it read.
Some of the letters on display have pieces cut out of them, most likely to be passages relating to health and other personal matters.
The Morgan's curators speculate that they might also have included criticisms of people the author knew.
"Jane Austen was like a guided missile of social satire. She was very frank which is why so many of her letters were destroyed or excised [by Austen's family]," explains Mr Kiely.
"She writes in one about people's fat necks and about people she's seen at parties.
"In one, she writes about women she's seen out in Bath wearing these elaborate hats topped with grapes and strawberries," he added.
Written at a time when paper and postage were expensive, the letters are also remarkable for their economy, with Austen cramming as many words as she could into each page.
In some letters, she used cross-hatching, whereby people at the time wrote both horizontally and vertically on the same side of one page to save money on paper and postage.
The organisers of the exhibition have also commissioned a documentary film about Austen's continuing influence, which features interviews with Fran Lebowitz, Colm Toibin and Cornel West.
A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy opens at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York on 6 November and runs until 14 March.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Writer's... uh, block. That's the word.

I hear writers complain about this malady all the time. They ask me if I suffer from it. No, not really. If I'm not writing, it's not because I'm stuck for ideas or words. It just boils down to the fact... I'm lazy.

There is a big debate as to whether this is a real condition or not. Many writers say no. "Aspiring writers chalk up their difficulties to writer’s block as if that’s an appropriate excuse for not doing their work. But it’s not. They let this thing called writer’s block prevent them from their goals and aspirations of publication for days, weeks, months, or even years. But they don’t have to." (Source)

I agree.

Maybe one of the reasons you can't write is because you have a really bad idea to write about. The cure? Think of something better. Step away from your computer for awhile and get a change of scenery or better yet, mindset. Don't use "Writer's Block" as an excuse.

And above all, DON'T stop writing. Even if it's this: The cow jumped over the moon. Because it may turn out to be the best novel you've ever written. Hell, I may start my next book with that line.

Start by typing a word. Black. Add another. Black cat. Then another. Black cat blues. Make it your goal to write 100 words a day until you get up and running. And the words can be just plain gibberish for all you care. Gibberish for a few days and until you get your head in gear is better than being stuck in the wrong mindset.

Here are some quotes from other writers:
  • "People have writer's block not because they can't write, but because they despair of writing eloquently."
    (Anna Quindlen)
  • "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word."
    (Margaret Atwood)
  • "Don't get it right, just get it written."
    (James Thurber)
  • "What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, 'Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'"
    (Maya Angelou)
  • "I set myself 600 words a day as a minimum output, regardless of the weather, my state of mind or if I'm sick or well."
    (Arthur Hailey)
  • "All through my career I've written 1,000 words a day--even if I've got a hangover. You've got to discipline yourself if you're professional. There's no other way."
    (J.G. Ballard)
  • "I write 2,000 words a day when I write. It sometimes takes three hours, it sometimes takes five."
    (Nicholas Sparks)
  • "I have to get into a sort of zone. It has something to do with an inability to concentrate, which is the absolute bottom line of writing."
    (Stephen Fry)
  • "My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline. If you really want to write, then shut yourself in a room, close the door, and WRITE. If you don't want to write, do something else. It's as simple as that."
    (Mary Garden)

Sunday, 8 November 2009


One thing I'm proud about is that I picked up writing when I was young. I mean, serious writing. I know writers that have decided to finally write that book once they retired. Everyone of them regret waiting so long. Sure, there are reasons that people wait, they have children, family, they have to work full time to support themselves and their families. All noble causes.

But, does writing a book take that much time?

How long have I been writing? Let's see, this will take some math. I'm thirty-three now, I started three years ago. Wait, no math at all. God, I'm really tired.

Okay, three years. Now, in that time, I have written three full books, one half, three short stories, and a few poems. Before that, nada. I have one published book and one published short story that I am (and my family) extremely proud of. And, I am working on getting my next book published. I can use that self-esteem the rest of my life.

Now, you may be wondering, how much of my precious life has that taken up?

Surprisingly little.

Once you have a great novel idea, it only takes about a month of writing everyday (10 minutes/100 words) to get into the habit of writing it. That's like a daily blog. Once you get into the HABIT of writing, build up the number of WORDS you write a day. 100 --> 300 --> 500 --> 1000... that should take a month or two. For me, it takes about an hour or two to write 1000 words. Tops. And for most novels, I only write from 1000-2000 words a day because I have a family to take care of -- that's two hours a day (and I do it at night when my kids are sleeping.)

For an average 90,000 word novel, that three months. If you're like my family, you probably spend that much time a month on Facebook's Farm Town.

So, to sum up, START WRITING! Don't wait. You may regret the 90 hours you played FarmTown this year, but you won't regret the 90 hours it took you to write a book.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

An idea on advertising...

I rode the bus today. Something I like to do every once and awhile. It's amazing what kind of personalities you see and can use in your writing.

Anyway, along the bus stops, there are free daily newspapers that the poor riders can pickup and mindlessly read while pretending they are not worried the person next to them will rob them. That being said, I picked up that daily paper and read it. It's not a large newspaper but it is widely circulated. People who ride public transport -- read. And almost all, read that daily paper.

That's when the idea hit me.

Recently, I read work by an author who wrote short short-stories about her car. She asked me what she should do with them.  I gave her a few ideas: contests, self-publishing, etc. Today, I thought, why not publish them in the paper? Now, they may not want to waste space publishing them in the space they use to write their articles ... but what about writing them in an advertising space.

I don't know what it costs to advertise in these papers but if you have a novel out already and you want to get your name out there to a greater number of people, advertise your book by way of an excerpt from your book or a short story or poem you wrote.

Anyways, these are just ideas.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Writer's Bubble

The last few days, I have been on "vacation." I use quotes because I'm visiting family and really, that's never a vacation. Hellish really. You are hit, once again, with why you live two thousand miles away.

So, I find myself wanting to enter my writer's bubble. It's a writer's escape, somewhat like the reader's escape in the form of a book but in my case, I'm writing it.

I can't speak for all writers but I know many who feel writing is all consuming. For example, if you're writing and your son or daughter comes in the room and you stare at them for a minute wondering which character they are and why they're appearing in the this chapter... you're in your bubble. If however, after a half hour, you still don't recognize your kin, seek psychiatric help. I have to admit, sometimes I scare myself.

I do take consolation in the fact that if ever I am locked in some sort of prison (not that I'm planning it) I think my mind would take over and the bubble would come to my rescue. I would eventually be officially nuts. But, I think my characters would keep me company.

Now I know many of you reading this will be wondering what the hell I'm on about. And, honestly, I think it's difficult to explain if you have never lived it. How the story you're writing is so exciting, the characters so real, the dialog more interesting than any you could possibly have in real life, you start living it... if only in your mind.

The writer's bubble. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.... please don't pop mine.