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.

2018-01-17 09.55.14
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.

2018-01-20 14.09.32

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…

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Breathing Again

Fixing All The Mistakes

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I’m still a big fan of candlelight.

I’ve been getting some feedback on the promo print of Emma’s Story I sent out to friends and family. Most of the ones I heard from pointed out the same few things – which means I really ought to fix them, right?

I’d written here instead of her (once), and there instead of their (also once). In two places I’d double up a word and written it twice in a row.

Then there’s my blessed little sister who’s got an attention to detail that’s out of this world. She sent me a list of over fifty different things I ought to review.

Some of these were obvious mistakes that I and everyone else had missed, and these were easy. Others were related to matters of style and those were more difficult. Do I change something to ensure it’s grammatically correct, or do I leave it as it is because it matches the feel of the story?

For the most part I stuck with what I’d written. Style trumped rigour – if that’s what you call it?

I’m still waiting for comments from one more person who said she had some suggestions, but other than that the content of the book is done. Once I hear back from her and review her suggestions I won’t change the text anymore.

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Yeah, I’m having a coffee again. A is for Alchemy, which is basically my second home.

The only other thing that remains is the cover.

That too is being taken care of, and it shouldn’t be too long until I have that sorted as well. Once I do, I’ll set up the print version of the book so that those who want to read on paper can do that.

Then there’s the matter of promotion, but that’s a different beast entirely…

Free Books?

I’m taking part in a giveaway on instafreebie.com. I’ve joined a group giveaway with a bunch of other authors in the hope of getting potential readers to download the free preview of the book, and in doing so also signing themselves up for my mailing list.

The giveaway starts on Wednesday and will run for a little over two weeks. I’ll write another post about it here once it’s begun. I don’t know if the other authors taking part are including full books or if it’s all previews, but I’m going to try and link and share it regardless.

It feels a bit weird to sign up for joining something like that without having a mailing list to share the promotion with. It’s like I’m basically freeloading on the others. I guess in the future I’ll ave to try and pay it forward to someone else who’s just starting out and don’t have a lot of subscribers on their mailing list.

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Birds over the river Lee the other morning. I pass over here every day on the way to work.
Fixing All The Mistakes

Start, and Start Over – Always

I’m done with the outlines. Twenty novellas prepared and ready to be dressed in prose. It’s a bit scary.

2017-09-18 19.20.22
Last night’s sunset, as I was walking about contemplating getting started on my new story.

I started yesterday. I wrote the introduction words, and I began writing on the first scene/chapter. This morning I continued on the same scene, and this afternoon I scrapped it and started over.

That always seem to happen to me for some reason. I start working on a scene, and I get to a point where it just doesn’t work and I have to scrap it and start over. It’s an awkward and inefficient way of figuring out what the scene is not supposed to be about.

Okay, to say it always happens like that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s often enough it’s familiar to me. Part of the process – if unwanted.

Either way, it’s done now, and the first scene is now taking shape for real, and it’s much better than the initial version.

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This may be my new favourite writing spot. A cafe in an old church with a little back yard with a big tree you can sit under. The canopy is dense enough to keep a light rain at bay.
Start, and Start Over – Always

A Pretty Silly Name

Currently the series of stories that I’m working on go under the title Werewolves On A Train.

I don’t like that.

It feels silly. Silly and cheap. It also sounds way too close to Snakes On A Plane, which I haven’t even seen. It’s got the wrong ring to it, and I want to change it.

Coming up with a good name for a series is difficult. Actually, coming up with a new name for anything is difficult. I’ve had to do it twice already:

  • Toini was originally called Toivo, and then I learned that Toivo was a male name, and it didn’t feel right for a female character anymore.
  • The Anfylk race was originally called Hobbits, but I changed that once I learned that the word hobbit is trademarked.

Both times were difficult. Just accepting that I had to change the name was hard. Coming up with a new name too, and finally getting used to the new name. All tricky.

Chances are I’ll keep thinking of my current story as Werewolves On A Train, or WOAT, for a long time after I decide on a new name for it. I guess it’s just how the mind works. We get used to things and we don’t like them changing.

So what other ideas do I have?

  • Dreamchasers. This is good in that it’s descriptive. Roy is chasing his dream of being with Toini. Alene is chasing a dream, even though she’s not quite sure what it is. It’s good in that respect, but as a word it carries a lot of expectations that just aren’t met by the story. I probably won’t go with this.
  • The Old Dog’s Last Hunt. This is a much more fitting title than the above, but it feels long and unwieldy. Roy is the “old dog” and he’s chasing something. Once he catches it he hopes to settle down and take it easy. The issue, apart from being unwieldy is that “last hunt” carries a certain finality. When a hero goes on their last hunt it’s not because he’s decided to stop hunting and settle down – it’s because he dies.
  • Dog and Fish. This is the hip and mysterious title. “Dog” is a reference to Roy being a werewolf, and that should be pretty obvious. What’s less obvious is that “fish” is a reference to Alene. She’s also a shapeshifter, but changes into a rainbow coyote which is a doglike animal with fish scales. It’s a mysterious title for sure, but that may not necessarily be a good thing.
  • EDIT: Lost Dogs or Lost Dogs’ Journey. This came to mind today, and while I’m not completely sold on it yet, it feels like it will work. In my mind, the word dog has grown to become word people use for therianthropes (shapeshifters/werewolves) in the setting of the story. It’s also god symbolically as both Roy and Alene are a little bit lost in the world. I’m liking it.

Those are the ones I could remember at the time of writing. I know I’ve had more ideas, but they’re either too similar to the ones above, or bad enough that I forgot about them (that’s usually how I treat forgotten ideas).

A Pretty Silly Name

Men and women?

I’m musing on gender issues in my stories again. I’ve had some issues with “bad” stereotypes in previous stories and I’m pondering whether I’m about to stumble down that path again.

I want my female protagonist to be rich characters with depth and personality, and with the strength to carry their own stories forward, like people in the real world. That’s my goal, and it shouldn’t be so difficult now should it – at least it oughtn’t be, but who knows…

As a way to develop my characters a little bit I did a series of behind the scenes monologues with them (here). I pretend the characters are actor playing themselves and I have them hold a monologue about their role in the story. It was good fun.

I started with Roy, as he’s the first one to show up, then Alene, and Toini last. Roy’s male, Toini and Alene are female.

All three monologues loosely follow the same pattern. The character introduces themselves and then they describe their place in the story. What I found is that both Alene and Toini use Roy as a way of defining their place in the story.

I like to think there are good reasons for this. It fits with how the story is laid out and designed. It just feels a bit off – on principle. I want my female characters to be their own people, and they are, but even then I ended up having them describe their place in the story using the male character as their point of reference.

Am I overthinking it?

Yes. I’d say I am.

Both Toini and Alene are their own people and they carry their own stories. They’re more than backdrops for Roy’s story – a lot more in fact – and they know it. This whole rant is more a reflection on the topic as such. Am I letting my female heroes define themselves by the male hero?

I hope not. I don’t think I do.

I think there’s probably a line between where you describe your place in a story in relation to the other characters, and where a women describes her place in life in relation to a man. It’s a thin line, and I may be skirting close to it, but I think I’m still on the “right” side of it.

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, or bonk me onna heid for being overly concerned with something that’s not an issue. Either is fine, really.

Men and women?

Room For Misinterpretation

I’m a little bit nervous.

For a few years I’ve been part of the article team on Mythic Scribes. It’s been good fun and I’ve learned a whole lot writing for the site. At first I was a bit nervous about people not liking what I wrote, or that they’d think it was stupid, or that I’d turn out to be wrong about something. That’s probably natural, and with time I got over it.

This time it’s different.

Previously, I’ve been writing articles about how I believe things work, and about how I do things when it comes to writing. It’s been quite factual, even if at a basic level. What I’m doing this time is much more personal. I’m writing about myself, and my goals and ambitions as a writer.

EDIT: The article in question is now live here.

When the topic comes up on the forums it always causes a bit of discussion – sometimes heated. The reasons people write are probably as many as there are writers, just as the way they do it. That doesn’t prevent people from having opinions about what ought to motivate others, and what oughtn’t.

It’s the art thing.

Why do you make art? What’s your reason? Who do you make art for? What do you want to say?

My concern with this article, and what I’m nervous about is that it’ll set off a discussion along those lines. Someone’s going to get the notion that my priority is to sell books, or that I think I’m not good enough, or that I should just follow my heart and write any way I damn well please.

So, to set things straight…

  1. My priority isn’t to sell books. My priority is to learn to write stories that people will enjoy reading. This goes hand in hand with a desire to sell books, but it’s not the same thing.
  2. I don’t think that I’m not good enough. I think that I’m not as good as I could be if I knew what I was doing.
  3. I am following my heart. This is what I want to do, and that is why I’m doing it.

That’s it really. I don’t feel like I’m flailing about blindly grasping at straws. I feel like I’ve set out to do something that I want to do, and like I understand the consequences and implications. I have a goal, I want to reach it, and I will.

And, well, that’s really all there is to it.

…it’ll probably take a lot longer than I want to though, but that’s another story.

 

 

Room For Misinterpretation

Unexpected Exploration

Please note: At the moment I’m mainly posting just to get back into the habit of updating my blog again – not because I have anything particularly important to share.

I don’t get lost.

I very firmly believe that I don’t get lost.

I may end up in locations that I did not plan or expect to end up in, and it sometimes comes as a surprise to me when it happens.

I may end up on places from where I don’t know how to get where I want to be.

It sometimes happens that I think I’m going in one direction when in reality I’m going in another.

It happens, but I don’t get lost, because I don’t feel lost.

I may feel stupid and embarrassed when it happens, and I may stubbornly refuse to believe it until reality finally catches up with me, but even then I don’t feel lost.

Obviously it helps to have a phone with gps and a map, but even without it I wouldn’t feel lost. I may for all intents and purposes be what is technically considered lost. Let’s define lost as follows:

Lost: A person is lost when they’re in a location they’re not familiar with, and when they don’t know how to find their way to a location they are familiar with.

At first I’d say that this happens to me all the time, but then I remember that there’s always backtracking. Much as I hate turning around and going back the way I came, that’s almost always an option.

For the most part, I don’t choose that option.

Like, tonight.

First though, some music:

Tonight, I went out running after dark for the first time in months. I dimly remember having gone on a night time run a few months back, but I can’t say for sure if that was before or after Christmas. It’s been a while. I’ve been looking forward to it.

In my previous post I mentioned how I’d gotten back into running again (jogging, technically – I’m not very fast), and how I’m really enjoying it.

With the shift I’m on it’s not feasible to go running in the late evening though. I have to get up early to go to work, and I try not to skew my sleeping pattern to much over the weekend. Most of my running happens in the afternoon or early evening, when it’s still light outside.

It’s nice, but it’s not quite the same as running at night.

I like to be out in the dark, all alone in the street or on countryside roads. There’s just me and the music. I love running with music. The set I linked above was put together specifically for night-time running.

The music is slow and steady. It’s dark and repetitive, with eerie noises, and with melodies that flow in and out of the soundscape. It starts out sparse and minimal and builds up over time. The music never goes too crazy, but the last thirty minutes are still a lot more energetic than the beginning.

I believe in running as a form of meditation.

It’s a way to set your mind free to wander why your body does something else. You don’t need to think too much when running and your thoughts can find their own paths to wherever they want to go.

Sure, it’s not like “real” meditation, but there are similarities, I think.

The music helps.

So, anyway, tonight I went out running. I had the opportunity and I took it. It was just as good as I remembered.

As I set out, I decided to take an old route I’ve taken before. It’s about ten kilometers, and it’s mostly flat. Easy.

Before I made this decisions, I’d been browsing the map and looking at potential options, bu eventually decided against any of them.

I should have stuck to that.

As I got to an intersection in the road I turned left instead of right. One of the routes I’d been looking at went down that way. I felt fine, and the running was easy, and I figured I could easily handle fifteen kilometers instead of ten. No big deal.

Unfortunately, as I should have learned since many a similar incident in the past, my map memory isn’t perfect. A little bit later on I took a left when I should have kept on Straight.

I realized about a kilometer later when the road didn’t cross over a highway as expected (it went under), and I stopped to check the map on the phone.

Yep.

Wrong turn taken.

I can’t turn back though. It’s not right. Demoralizing. Weak. Yes, I know it’s stupid, but I’m running for fun and it’s no fun to turn back. It’s like admitting defeat, and I’m too stubborn to do that, so I went on.

I had a vague idea I’d be on my way up towards the airport, which might be a nice good run. Turns out I was sort of wrong about that too. I got to a place from which I knew I could find my way to the airport, but not by a pleasant route. The roads too narrow and with too many hidden bends. It’s not safe for anyone on foot.

So I went a different way. I found a path along the highway which matched one I’d followed another time further along.

There were no lights.

Normally, I don’t have a problem with running in the dark. Even at night there’s enough ambient light from the city that you can see where you’re going. Usually.

Tall trees blocked out most of the light from the surrounding streets, and a high wall separated the path from the highway. I could only just barely tell my feet from the ground where I ran.

Yes, I slowed down quite a bit.

I’d never gone that way before. It was exciting, and a little bit scary – in the right way. After a while, and without incident, I emerged from the trees. There were more lights here, and there was even a lit tunnel under the highway.

The path I ran shared the tunnel with a wide stream.

As I entered, something in the stream splashed. Big enough that I heard it over the music, but fast and small enough that I never saw what it was. It was not a crocodile. There are no crocodiles in Ireland. Don’t be silly. Probably just an other, or a big rat. Definitely not a crocodile.

I think that was the most scary thing that’s happened to me in a while. Unexpected and unseen – a weird noise from outside the shelter of the music.

I’d been toying with the idea of joining up with another trail I knew that I’d be crossing later on, but I decided not to and went straight home instead.

I didn’t make the ten kilometers I’d planned originally, or the fifteen I’d changed my mind to. It doesn’t matter. Nine kilometers isn’t a bad distance, and it feels kind of good to tell myself I could have done twice that distance, and actually believe it.

I could. I’m in a good spot at the moment. Fit enough, and not injured. I could, but taking a wrong turn, and ending up in the wrong place kind of ruined the mood a little bit.

Getting to go out and run at night was great though, and getting to test out my night-time running soundtrack was fun as well. It worked really well, even if I didn’t even get halfway through it.

I’ll try again another time.

Unexpected Exploration