Canned Wisdom – Introduction

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Today was a beautiful, but cold day.

In the writing communities I’m part of, the discussion about The Rules of Writing, keeps popping up at irregular intervals. The general consensus at the moment seems to be that there aren’t really any rules, but that there are plenty of advice of varying quality.

The way I see it part of the issue with a lot of these pieces of writing advice is that they’re summed up in short catchy phrases that cut out a lot of the nuance.

The most common example of this is probably Show, Don’t Tell. It’s not a bad piece of advice as such, but there’s a lot more to it than what’s said in these three word. For starters, it doesn’t tell you why you shouldn’t tell, and it doesn’t explain what’s meant by show (or tell).

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I went for a walk…

That isn’t something I will go into any detail about today. It’s just an example to illustrate the problem with The Rules of Writing.

I’m bringing this up because I want to do a series of post with my own take on some of the more common writing rules. It stems from something I’ve done on instagram for a few weeks, where I post pictures with a few words on writing written upon them

Again, these are short sentences, just like what I said was part of the problem. What I’m trying to do is phrase my advice in such a way that it requires the reader to stop and think about it.

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…and I saw some horses.

The pictures are nice (even if it’s me saying so myself), but instagram doesn’t really leave much room for elaboration, and I often find I’m fond of elaborating. To this end I’ll begin sharing my advice-images here on the blog as well.

I’ve decided on the title Canned Wisdom for this series, because in a way that’s what it is. Each image is a can that holds a little bit of wisdom. It’s small and easy to grab hold of, but it’s also a can of worms in that once you’ve opened it, it’s hard to put all of the contents back inside.

To start with, here’s a piece of rather generic advice. It’s not related specifically to writing, and it really isn’t particularly complicated – at least not in the way I just described above. It’s an example of what I’m doing though:

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I’m well aware that there are countries with very strict censorship laws, and where art is forbidden or restricted.

That’s it.

When I first posted this, I made sure to point out that this advice is to be taken in the context of impostor syndrome, which is something I was reflecting on a lot at the time.

This is for those of us who want to make things, and who can make things, but who worry that we’re not doing it right or aren’t good enough, or that others will think we believe we’re better than them.

In short, it’s for those of use who worry and overthink, and who let that worry be an obstacle we struggle to overcome.


There is also a certain symbolism in putting this text on top of a picture of a cup of fancy coffee, but that’s a different topic of discussion.

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Canned Wisdom – Introduction

Poetry As Promotion

A while back I wrote a poem to go with my book Emma’s Story. As part of promoting the book I turned the poem into a slideshow and shared it on instagram (I even paid a few Euro to promote it). I’m quite happy with how it came out so I wanted to share it here too:

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The poem tells of the events of the story from an outside perspective and from the angle we expect that kind of story to be told. Then, towards the end, it turns around and says that the story’s really told from a completely different point of view.

When I originally wrote the story, I didn’t want it to be a subversion of the traditional fairytale. I didn’t even think about it, and it wasn’t until after the second draft that I realised I had. That’s probably just as well. If I had actively tried to subvert the trope the story would have been very different. Most likely it would have been worse too.

Front Cover - OnlineNow it’s really just a story about a young woman facing a difficult decision, and not about a supporting character in someone else’s adventure.

However, from a certain point of view the story really is about the fair maiden that the hero wants to win the heart of. Only, it’s not really told as such, and if anyone tried to call Emma a fair maiden to her face she’d probably punch them…


In other news, I’m not getting rich, and I won’t be able to quit my day job anytime soon, but I have sold a few copies. It’s not enough to make back what I paid in advertising, but it’s more than enough to be encouraging.

I’m happy with how I’m doing, and I’ll do better next time.

Poetry As Promotion

It’s Alive!

My book (Emma’s Story) is now fully released. Yesterday the ebook version finally went live on Amazon. It can now be purchased for kindle, or read for free through Kindle Unlimited.

Before I tell you about it, I need to share this link with you though:

Free Kindle Books & Tips.

I’m featured on their list of New Releases for the weekend (even though the book isn’t actually free). My book is the second one in the list so it’s in a good spot for visitors to the site. Check it out, and have a look at the other new releases as well. The link to purchase the book is on that page (so I’m not including it here).


Now, about that release…

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Paper crane in a window covered by condensation.

The release was, I’m somewhat surprised to say, not that big of a deal. I expected I’d be a lot more nervous and that I’d be freaking out and refreshing the sales dashboard every thirty seconds to see if someone made a purchase. It didn’t happen like that at all.

Instead, everything just progressed much as expected. The book became available, and the pre-orders showed up as being delivered on the dashboard, and then two more sales showed up towards the end of the day.

It wasn’t quite an anti-climax, because this was what I’d reasonably expected. Sure, I’d hoped for miracles, but I haven’t really put in enough work for any of those to happen. Instead, everything just worked the way it was supposed to.

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This morning’s coffee. It is, unfortunately, gone now.

However, what turned out to be really nerve wracking was sending out my first ever newsletter. Through the free book giveaway I took part in during January I’d amassed a small number of subscribers, and now that my book was released I had to tell them about it.

That was scary.

I’ve never done anything like that before, and not only did I have to worry about promoting my work to strangers I’d never met, I also had to figure out how to make a newsletter.

Fortunately it wasn’t very complicated once I set my mind to it, but it took some tinkering before I got it right. Last I checked, no one had unsubscribed from the list, so I can’t have messed up that badly.

According to the mailer-report someone even clicked one of the links in the mail. :D

It’s Alive!

Someone’s writing in my book

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This is it. Very plain and very simple.

A few years back I made a book that’s a collection of Valentine’s Day cards I’d created. I’ve not marketed it at all, and while it’s for sale it’s not something I ever expect to make any profit on. It’s purely a personal project that I’ve made available to the rest of the world in the hope someone might find it and enjoy it (info page here).

It makes for a great gift once in a while – someone I know gave a copy to a friend for a wedding. Stuff like that.

The layout of the book is very simple, with a little bit of text and a whole lot of empty white space. I have a few copies for sale at Alchemy where I go for coffee regularly, and one of these copies is for customers to write and draw in.

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Compared to most other pages in the book, this one has a lot of text on it.

I rarely see it happen. It’s been ages since I saw someone even just pick it up to look at. Still, over the years that copy has filled up with scribbles and drawings and notes from people stopping by at the cafe.

Sometimes I have a look through it myself just to see if something new has been added. I think pretty much every single page has had something drawn or written on it now.

And then, this very morning, when I step in to the cafe someone’s sitting there right next to the door drawing in my book. It’s a strange and wonderful feeling. I didn’t expect it at all, and it really made my morning.

I didn’t talk to the person, as I don’t want to ruin their moment, but I can’t help but glance over once in a while. I try not to, because I feel a bit like a creepy stalker when spying on people, but at the same time it’s difficult not to.

I hope they’re enjoying my book.


Also, as I’m previewing this post to make sure the writing is passable, I notice the person on the table next to mine has picked up one of the other copies of the book – one not for writing in. They flip through a few of the pages and then put it back.

It’s not for everyone.

Someone’s writing in my book

My Book is Done

Front Cover - OnlineTo be honest, the book’s been done-ish for a while now, and the paperback version has been available for purchase for over a week. However, it’s not until last night that I uploaded the last and final version of the book, both for the ebook and paperback versions.

I sent out print copies of my book to friends, family, and beta readers. When my friend D got hers she tore into it with a vengeance, and she discovered plenty of things I’d missed. I thought my sister had caught it all when she sent me a list of well over forty different things she wanted me to consider.

Turns out that wasn’t all of it.

D identified an issue with my comma usage that both I and my sister had missed. She also located all instances where I’d got my commas wrong throughout the entire story. That’s a whole lot of work, and I’m both impressed and grateful.

I’d have been happy releasing the book in the state it was in, but now that I got these issues pointed out I went ahead and changed most of them. In a handful of places I kept the incorrect punctuation for artistic reasons.

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This picture is just here to add some life to the page. It’s got nothing to do with my book.

There were other issues as well, but I won’t bore you with the details. The main point is that I’ve now fixed or considered all of the errors that were pointed out to me, and that I’ve uploaded the final version of the story.

Then, once that was done and the paperback version had cleared the review, I uploaded it again because of a typography error on one of the first pages.

That’s the last of it though. This time I really believe I won’t be making any more changes to the book. I may change the category keywords or the blurb, but that’s another matter.

The final (!) version of the book can be found on Amazon here (US) and here (UK)

My Book is Done

Last Chance for Free Books

The free book giveaway I’m taking part in ends today. There’s a total of 35 books taking part and you can download them for free from this page. Some of the downloads are previews, like mine, while others are complete stories. There are even a few story collections.

Go ahead, get it while it’s still there.

EDIT: Looks like the creator of the giveaway forgot to set an expiration date so it’s still going. I’m taking my book down on Sunday the 28th though.

If you’re just finding my blog for the first time, my book is called Emma’s Story and it’s the one with the trees and snow on the cover (see below). It’s not the full story though, just the first four chapters. I’m hoping it will be enough for readers (that’s You) to get a feel for my writing style and to get an idea of what the story is about.

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The style is probably a little bit out of the ordinary, and not everyone will like it. The narration switches back and forth between two different kinds of voice. There’s a close third person voice written in past tense, and there’s a distant omniscient voice written in present tense.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, download the free preview and check it out. You’ll either love it or hate it.

Obviously I want you to like it, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. In that way, I’m kind of happy I was able to give the book away like this. It’s an opportunity to show off the story to potential readers without them having to make a commitment to buying it.

Imagine you buy a book you think sounds interesting and then the style it’s written in just doesn’t work for you at all. One of my beta readers told me the style felt condescending to them, and they’re probably not the only one. Other beta readers really enjoyed it though, so I kept the style the way it is.

If you already checked out the preview, or if you’re curious about it after just reading about the different styles. Let me know in the comments.

If you need a little more convincing, here’s the full blurb from the book’s pre-order page on Amazon:

Emma wants what all young anfylk women want, a burrow in the village and a family to fill it with life – and she could have it. Her best friend Torkel has proposed. He’s the only one for her and he’s first in line for the only available burrow in their small hillside village.
It should be easy, but it’s not. Torkel is a dreamer and a scoundrel. A self-styled huntsman and adventurer, with no real grasp of what it means to be a father and a husband.
But time is ticking, and the longer the burrow lies empty the weaker the village’s spirit gets. When an angry bear comes down from the mountains to terrorize their forest the villagers are unable to ward it off on their own.
To seek aid, Emma must travel farther than she’s ever been on her own before. A journey in search of the help her village needs, and the answers her heart desires.
While she’s gone, Torkel has his own ideas for how to impress Emma and make her like him enough to be his wife, completely missing the point. There’s a reason she has a hard time making up her mind…

Okay, so that’s a bit of a chunky blurb, but it does sum up the essence of the story in an honest way without giving away too much.

 

 

Last Chance for Free Books

Breathing Again

It’s been a strange week. I published a book.

I’ll talk about it, but first a soundtrack, in case you’re not already listening to something:

Like I wrote about in my two previous posts I got the final cover image for my book. I spent the remainder of the day tinkering with the layout of the print version, and then, at two in the morning, I accidentally published it – two weeks earlier than planed (link).

In all honesty, it was a little bit overwhelming.

I didn’t expect the print book to go live right away, and I wasn’t mentally prepared for it. In a few years, or maybe even months, I’ll look back upon it and laugh, but right when it happened it was really rather stressful. All kinds of questions I hadn’t thought about and didn’t have answers for rushed through my head.

Was this good or bad? Did I do something wrong? What happens now? How is the print quality? What if I made some horrible mistake and have to make changes? On top of that there was that weird mix of panic and joy, worry and pride that comes with creating something of your own and putting it out for the world to see.

It’s a cool feeling, but it’s scary.

Our Slef
The ebook version still isn’t released until February though. That didn’t change.

I’ve had some time to calm down and think things over and collect myself now. I also have the next week off from work to chill and do some writing. I really need to get back into actually writing and not just worry about publishing and marketing.

Yes, it would be cool if it sold really well and I got rich from it.

No, I don’t realistically expect that to happen.

Yes, I have completely unrealistic expectations

No, I’m not going to stop dreaming.

However, I’m going to be aware that my expectations are way out of whack and I’m going to be ready for the disappointment when things don’t go as well as I hope. It’s part of life. I can’t let my setbacks put me down, and I can’t rein in my dreams.

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Wednesday morning when I got to work I discovered I’d put on different shoes.

I also took off work today and tomorrow. I’m feeling a bit under the weather – not enough to call in sick, but I really want some peace and quiet for a bit. I’ll try and tap out some words today, have a drink and some snacks and try to just enjoy the process of making shit up.

Then tomorrow I’ll try and get serious about the writing again. I’m close to finishing the second draft of part two in my Lost Dogs series. The current chapter needs a near complete rewrite, and will require a few changes to part one as well as some changes to earlier chapters in this part, but I believe the story as a whole will benefit from it.

After that, the next one and a half chapters will probably just need a little bit of editing and then that draft is done.

Also, time to start playing around with cover images for the first book. I really have a hard time figuring out what to go for there. It’s about a werewolf wrestler in a great city just where the desert meets the sea.

I guess I’ll just have a cup of coffee instead.

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Also, I got the proof copy of the book today. Three of my friends already got theirs on Thursday. The colours are slightly washed out, but overall I’m happy with the book. It feels good to hold, and the pages are easy to read.

I could have reduced the font size a little and probably reduced the number of pages by a bit. The book would have been cheaper, but not by much, and it would have been thinner, which would have made it feel cheaper too. In short. I’m happy with how it turned out.

I won’t read it again though. I’ve read it too many times already!

Maybe I’ll read it tomorrow…

Breathing Again