A Village Is Blind Under The Stars

My father, who enjoys messing around with brushes and colours, made this painting of a scene from my book Emma’s Story:

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A single light burns at the top of the hill.
A village is blind under the stars.

The cover image of Emma’s Story was painted by a friend of mine. You can read more about it here.

After I got the cover and showed it off, it struck me that it would be fun to have some more images from the story to share. It’d also be really fascinating to see how others imagined it.

I’m not sure how many of my friends who read the book are into painting, but I know my dad is (he counts as a friend too), so I asked him. Turns out he was more than happy to help out, and you can see the result above.

What amazed me was that I was able to tell right away which scene it was he’d painted. All of the details add up, and it’s actually really close to how I imagined it myself. Most likely this is what I’ll see next time I read that part.

I hope those of you who’ve already read it will be able to recognize the scene though, but perhaps the caption gave it away?

The scene is from very near the end of the book, so to avoid giving away any spoilers I won’t be going into details about it – other than what you can see for yourself.


In other news, I’ve brought the price of the ebook version of Emma’s Story up to the full retail price ($2.99, £2.49, €2.99)  instead of the cheaper launch price. Sales dropped off after the first week, and I figured everyone I know who wanted the book would have gotten it by now.

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It’s cheaper than a coffee and a brownie too.

I’m unlikely to do any more promotion of the book for the time being, and anyone who finds it will have heard about it through word of mouth. My thinking is that if you get a recommendation from someone you probably won’t be too fussed about whether the book is 0.99 or 2.99.

Sure, it’s three times the price, but it’s still cheaper than a pint of beer, and it’ll take you longer to read – and hopefully it’ll bring you more enjoyment too.

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A Village Is Blind Under The Stars

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.

Canned Wisdom – Introduction

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

Cover Reveal

Front Cover - OnlineTwo posts in a day?

Yes!

The paperback  version of Emma’s Story went live on Amazon (US, UK) just a few hours after the previous post. As promised, it’s time to share the cover image.

It’s painted by my friend Åsa, and she did an amazing job of it despite all of my contradictory suggestions and ideas.

In the end, this image fits two of the most important elements of the story: the bear looming ominously in the background, and Emma racing through the forest in her horse-drawn sled.

I’m trying to describe the feeling of looking at this image and I’m having a really hard time finding the words. It’s the cover image for my first book. I love it, but I’m also a little bit overwhelmed by the whole thing.

It’s finally happening. I published a book. It’s unreal.

I will probably have to sit down and have a proper think about it over the next few days and then write a better, more thought-out post about it later on.


Lastly I’d like to point out that the image in this post is the original one I uploaded for the print version. In the preview on the Amazon store page it looks a bit washed out, and it’s in lower resolution, but once it’s printed it should look more like this.

It’s so new I haven’t even received my proof copy yet.

Edit: I also added an entry for my book to goodreads.com, here.

 

Cover Reveal

It’s Begun

Yesterday was my last day at work for quite a while. I’m taking an extended leave to focus on my writing. Twelve weeks. Starting today.2017-10-01 12.18.33

It’s scary. I’m nervous.

Actually, I’m feeling kind of fine right now, but if I sit around and think about it for too long I get anxious and nervous and worried. I’ll try not to do that and instead get on with the writing.

I’ve got a pretty good plan and I believe I can stick with it. I’ll strive to beat it, but it won’t be by much. Write the first three novellas in my series, and publish an older one that’s already written – that’s the plan.

Originally I’d planned on starting to publish the series as well, but then someone pointed out that Christmas is coming up. Supposedly, launching as a new and unknown author during that period is difficult and expensive. I don’t recall the exact details, but it made sense at the time, so I’ve decided to put publishing off until January.

This gives me more time to write, which can only be a good thing, right?

To celebrate my last day at work I went to an arts/poetry event/party last night. I’d written some words of my own for the open mic part of the event and that’s what’s in the picture here in this post. I tried to sum up what I’m feeling and how nervous I am about this whole thing.

Hopefully it’ll be fine. First though, breakfast.

It’s Begun

Me, On A Stage

Today, for the first time ever, I stood in front of an audience and read a poem I’d written. It was also the first poem I’d written.

And by “first poem I’d written” I mean the first one I’d written on my own initiative, for myself, with the intention of trying to say something. I’ve written poetry in the past, back in school, and once or twice for a song-book while at uni, but not like this.

This was, for want of a better expression, for real.

It was really good fun. I’d do it again. I was nervous as a really nervous thing, and afterwards I had to sit down, take a few deep breaths, and drink real deep from my pint – and even then it took me a while to calm down.

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I’ve thought about poetry for quite some time. Thought it’d be fun to try. Thought I’d enjoy it. But until now I’ve not done more than thought about it. I did that book, and it’s in the poetry category, but it’s not quite the same. It doesn’t work off the page. The small black words and the big white paper is a part of the experience. It doesn’t work when read out loud – other than as a series of silly puns.

This was different.

This was me standing in front of a group of people, most of whom I’ve never met before, and reading a poem I’d written. I really really enjoyed it.

And what about the poem?

I didn’t have much time, and I didn’t quite know what to do, so it’s a poem about me standing in front of an audience and being nervous about it – which is what it was. It worked really well, but I don’t think I can ever do this one again.

I’ll write another one for next time. I’m so looking forward to there being a next time.

Me, On A Stage

This Thing With The Flowers

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. This sort of related to that, but not entirely.

Over the last few years I’ve become aware that in some cultures it’s a big thing to give flowers to women on International Women’s Day. I first came across this two years ago, and then I wrote this post. It contains some examples of different views on the giving of flowers on International Women’s Day.

For me personally, it seems really wrong to “celebrate” the day by giving flowers to women. It feels contrary to what the day is about. However, I really like the idea of giving people a little something to show them I appreciate them. I think that’s a nice thing to do.

I can still do that, right?

This year, I’ve spent most of the day after IWD drawing little flowers, taking pictures of them, and sending the pictures to people around me that I want to show some appreciation for.

I drew you a flower, because you’re good people, and I felt like it.

In the end, I’d made twenty five flowers that I’ve sent out to friends of mine. You can see them here, although I did blur out the names – just in case.

These are in chronological order, and as you can clearly see, my drawing skills improved with practice. Don’t worry if you can’t draw though. It’s not about how it looks; it’s about doing it yourself.

Give it a try. Send someone a flower.

For the Ladies?

Originally, I drew flowers only for women I know, but then it occurred to me that I have male friends who’s company and existence I appreciate. I should try and do something for them as well.

At first, the thought of drawing flowers to send to guys seemed a bit weird to me. Who am I familiar enough with that it won’t be awkward? I mean… It’s not like… You know… Whatever…

Equality, right? I can send pictures of flowers to my male friends if I want to.

Seven of the flowers above were sent to men I know. It would have been cool if the split was fifty-fifty, but it didn’t happen, and now I’m tired. It was tricky coming up with male friends I was comfortable sending the pictures to, and I didn’t want to just force it to meet some quota. Then again as I’m writing this, names keep popping up.

How to draw a flower?

It’s easy:

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The tricky part is actually sending the flower to someone when you don’t quite know how they will react to it. So far, the reactions I’ve had have been positive, and in all honesty I expected most of them to be, but I was still a bit nervous in some cases.

Then again, comparing the first flower I drew this morning with the last few it’s kind of obvious that improvement comes with practice. That said, I did draw the most “important” one first.

This Thing With The Flowers