Second drafts are painful.

Laptop Keyboard

You know that scene you wrote?  Your favourite bit, maybe the bit that started it all?  Well that scene might just have to go.

It’s painful I know.

All too often you can find yourself tweaking and crafting an element of your work until you reach near perfection.  Sadly it’s such sections that often make your story drag.

I’ve followed the advice of wiser people and I shelved my novel for two months before revisiting it.  Approaching it as a reader, rather than a writer, gave me a whole new perspective on things.  That’s why I’ve just cut over two thousand words from the beginning of my work.

It’s not that those words were wasted, rather that they were excessive and did little to advance the plot, so for the sake of pacing they had to go.

I’m not worried.  There’s a subplot to be expanded on that should more than make up for the deletions; but those words were the first seeds I planted for this story and now it’s grown far bigger.

So I guess that’s the harsh reality, when the oak has grown who cares about the acorn?


A fictional conversation with the void

Last Lock In V5XL

OK it’s been over a month since I posted.

Ok, I know I said it would be out by Christmas but I’ve been busy.

Look I know it’s no excuse…

I’m sorry…

Well be like that then!  See if I care.

Sorry.  Please come back.

Look it’s here.  You can have it free for the next 5 days apparently.

Here’s the link: The Last Lock In

Would you mind leaving a review and telling others if you enjoy it?

Ok I’ll go and finish that novel.


Trust People.

So a little over week has gone by and things are still moving albeit slightly slower than I’d hoped.

I started this entry on my trusty old Samsung Apollo but after today I’ll be updating to a shiny new phone. I haven’t told my Apollo yet I’m just going to try and let it down gently…

In more relevant news my short story collection has a title and I’m already thinking about cover art. Now this is tricky; both title and cover need to be attractive to the reader. We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but let’s face it most of us do at some point in our literary lives. So I’m getting click happy with the camera and waiting for that bolt of inspiration to strike.

I know I’ve been lucky because I have a whole host of talented people around me so even in those moments when I’m thinking “stuff it that’ll do” I’ll know there’s someone around to guide me if they think I’m making the wrong call. In addition to my wife who has been my reader in residence, sounding board and moral support throughout the process I’ve had the guidance of an extremely talented and attractive young lady (married to my best man) who is a successful and established blogger and who has recently released her own superb short story collection on Amazon (Snapshots of a different normality a snip at 99p).  My brother in law runs his own graphic design consultancy and is also an exceptional illustrator(we’ve been talking about working together for a long time but now more than ever). All have offered help and advice throughout the publication process and their encouragement has kept me motivated when perhaps my spirits have flagged a little. I’d urge you to have a look at their work and I’ve provided the links below for you.

I guess my message this time is simple: there are people close to you who will support you and guide you.  Trust them and listen to them.

As for me I’m almost there, only life keeps getting in the way, so this week I’m unplugging Facebook and switching off twitter. Wish me luck!

The secret to achieving your dreams revealed

Following your dreams is, to be frank, bloody difficult. Most of us opt for the safe option of the nine to five; a beast which once it has its claws in you, is very hard to shake off. That’s the rut I was in until about two years ago I shared the first bit of writing I’d done in years with my wife who told me that she was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. To me that was a massive confidence boost and perhaps the kick up the bum that I needed to start writing more frequently. The second revolution was a technological one. Not long after I made the decision to write more I purchased my first smart phone; my faithful Samsung Apollo, an ‘entry level’ bit of kit which is still going strong. In fact I’m typing this blog on it right now…

I can’t lie to you this old phone’s very clunky and slow and running out of internal memory faster than a ZX spectrum with dementia but I write first drafts faster with one thumb than I ever did on a keyboard or with pen and paper. Doubtless some will insist this isn’t ‘proper writing’ but who cares? I’m writing for myself not them!

I have no idea if anyone will ever read what I write but (let’s be honest) of course I want to be read; that’s the whole point, I have a head full of stories and I want them to be heard. If people don’t like them it will hurt, but it’s better to have them out there for the world to see than stuck in my head vanishing with the slow creep of time.

A little while ago I was re-reading ‘The Salmon of Doubt’ a posthumous collection of works by Douglas Adams.  By 2001 Adams had created two successful series of books (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently), written a number of Dr Who episodes, plotted and scripted a couple of computer games and left a vast array of journalistic gems for the world. Then very suddenly he died. He was 49.

I remember at the time Adams death felt like a kick in the chest.  Like many of his readers I really felt that Douglas Adams was writing for me. We were great mates, we just hadn’t met yet. It’s clear from the snippets of the unfinished work in ‘The Salmon of Doubt’ that Adams had many fantastic stories left to tell and now they are lost. We can only hope he’s up there somewhere tapping away on his macbook creating stories that will last for eternity; but for us earth-bound souls those works are lost forever.

So my advice to you is go for it. Life is short and should not be wasted. Write, draw, dance, paint yourself pink and start a conga, whatever it is that you dream of doing, do it.  You might be a lone voice yelling into the wind but maybe, just maybe, there’s someone listening.

How to begin a story?

Well fingers crossed (and with a following wind) by Christmas 2012 there will be a link here to my first collection of short stories.  Provisionally titled ‘The Last Lock In’.  It’s a little darker than I intended but I hope you’ll enjoy.  In an English country pub a group of regulars swap rhymes and tales into the early hours. Here’s a sneaky peak of what’s in store…

Jamie leafed through his notepad, “most of this is work in progress” he said, against the noise of the back door being forced unsteadily open; “but there’s one that I’m quite happy with.”  He found the page he was after and looked up to make sure he had an attentive audience, before looking back down hurriedly when he realised every eye in the place was on him. He cleared his throat then began to read:

Seven figures in moonlit glade,

Seven hearts all touched by shade,

Seven secret whispered spells,

Seven fiends from seven hells,

Seven men of unfaithful thought,

Seven forms of women wrought,

Seven dancers grace the floor,

Seven couples on the moor,

Seven pairs of lips that kiss,

Seven moment’s sinful bliss,

Seven searing shafts of light,

Seven screams that pierce the night,

Seven scythes and seven hoods,

Seven smiles in secret woods.”

The room was silent for a moment than Matty broke the ice, “let that be a warning to men everywhere.”

Ted laughed “I’ll tell you what lad that’s not a bad rhyme though.  Got any more you’d like to share?”  Jamie shook his head and closed the notebook. “Like I said, they’re not ready yet.”

“What about you Ted” asked the barman, “I’ve heard you tell a few tall tales in your time.”

So begins the night of story telling, but who has the darkest tale to tell? The barmaid, the stranger, the lover, the landlord, gamekeeper, poacher, doctor, or the undertaker?

It’s almost ready and there’s a few more short stories in the pipeline that will be posted here first. So keep watching, who knows where this journey might take us all…