100 Days to Be Happy: Writing

writers manifesto

I suppose you’d think this would turn up earlier in my countdown, but strangely it wasn’t the first thing that I thought of when I thought about things that make me happy.

Possibly because at the moment, my writing is causing me a little stress.

Yes, I understand that you’re shocked at such an occurrence, but between having to manage with the new baby, the financial pressure the family is currently under and our lack of space issues, the word flow has been dammed. It has slowed to a minute trickle, where I am unlikely to write any more than 200 words on whatever it is I am working on that day.

There’s also the sales thing.

That isn’t going so well. Possibly because I don’t really have the energy to write much, let alone market it all…

Anyway, let’s look at the positive side of my writing. Here’s five things that I love about writing:

1) Since I started writing, I’ve met some wonderful people on the Internet.

Some of them I’ve even talked to on the phone or  in person. And they’re all writers, readers, cover designers, artists, musicians, photographers – they’re all creative people with whom I share an interest in.

2) Writing has taken me places I never thought I’d go.

I’ve travelled to the darkest recesses of my mind writing horror stories and I’ve created whole new worlds for stories to take place in. My YA stories have explored regions of emotions that I thought left behind in my childhood / teenage years. The whole experience is one of wonder.

3) Publishing my own work has been an enlightening experience.

Before I started writing, when I was just a reader, I never realised quite how much work goes into producing an actual print book. It’s not as easy as it seems and really is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done.

4) When I was a kid, I never thought I would ever be an author.

I was told it wasn’t a good career choice, its was a pipe dream and that I should look for something to target my learning toward that would bring in a steady income.
Yet here I am. I ended up being a Teacher but I have also published eleven books so far.

5) Its expanded my mind: I never realised how many types and styles  of writing there actually are!

As a Reader, you don’t tend to think about point of view, genre  or form. It’s a story and you’re reading it.
As a Writer you have to think about these things in order to get across the story in the way you want it to be read. You don’t tend to think about it too much – unless something goes wrong and you have to change something. That’s an exciting prospect – you are completely in control of the story… well as long as your characters cooperate!

There are pros and cons to being a writer – the long hours and insufficient remuneration are definite cons, but I went into this intending to learn my craft and over the last five years, I have learned and experienced so much more than just the downside. I’ve found happiness and peace doing something I really love to do.

* * *
Breaking News

Season 5 of Choose or Die is upon us.

For those of you who don’t understand what CoD is, have you ever read a “Choose your own Adventure” book? You know, those books where you read a chapter, then have to make a decision, turn to the page number the decision tells you and find out what happens next? There’s usually more than one story involved in them…

Well Choose or Die is a bit like that. You read a chapter, then you vote for the direction the story is going to take. The winning choice becomes the next chapter, the other two take great delight in killing the character in the most inventive way possible.

So to get involved, pop over to the Choose or Die website (link below) and pick the story we writers are going to tell. You, the reader have the control of the story at last… or do you?

I dare you to come and find out.

http://chooseordie.blogspot.co.uk/

Wool, Grapefruit and the World…

You do strange things when you’re pregnant.

I just spent three quarters of an hour trying to section a red grapefruit because I was fed up of having to dig the sections out and leaving so much fruit behind… I guess I thought that sectioning it would be easier; peel the fruit, cut out the sections and eat.

Hah!

Anyway, it occurred to me while I was sat eating my hard won grapefruit segments that the actual fruit is made up of all this little bubbles of juice that burst when you bite through them. They’re sweet with a sour after-taste and oddly compelling.

 

Writing is like that. Well actually, Reading is like that, not writing exactly.

I read “Wool” by Hugh Howey yesterday and it is the first SF book that I’ve read that has made me think in terms of the words I was reading. Each word was like a bubble of grapefruit juice, soft and elongated on my tongue and each time I read and understood what he was saying, the taste of grapefruit juice built up; sweet, sour and oddly compelling.

I had “Wait” by Take That playing while I was eating and the song seemed to fit with both what I had observed in the grapefruit and through reading “Wool”.

The lyrics that really stuck were:

 

Free your soul to me,

Words can set us free.

 

It’s true. Words can set us free; we just have to have the courage to say the right ones. They are the ones that hurt, the ones that highlight the problems in our world in such a way that we have to deal with them.

 

Reading “Wool” was a sweet / sour experience. On one hand the story was incredibly compelling and interesting. You wanted to see what happened to the characters next and it was difficult to think about mundane things (like washing up) while you read each chapter.

But about half way through the book something happened. I realise that whether he had intended it or not, Hugh Howey was commenting on what was happening in the world now. And that his vision of what the future could hold was a real possibility.

That’s scary.

Why?

Well think of it this way. It’s 2013. I’ve got two children (one 12, the other 8) and a third one on the way. If I think about what is happening in the world now, there is a very real possibility that their future, the one that I may never see, will be an ugly, regimented world where food and energy are rationed down to what you can afford to buy.
There will be a need to limit the population; whether that’s because of the food shortage, space shortage or whatever, so the joy of being a parent will be limited to those who either can win / buy the right or those who are considered so essential to the running of the world that they have to continue their line.

It will be a world of sacrifices with most people just trying to live in it the best they can with the hope that their children (if they have them) will have a better world in the future.

And that scares me.

It doesn’t matter what the energy companies say, fossil fuels (even shale gas) are finite. They will run out. The population of the world is expanding and instead of helping the Africans to improve their land and grow crops to feed themselves and maybe others, we are helping them to fight each other through the Arms Business.

It’s all so backwards.

 

I don’t care about money. Actually, that’s not quite true… I do care about it, but not in a materialistic way.

I’m forced through circumstance (lack of full time teaching jobs in my area, being unable to drive and a son who needs more than usual maternal attention due to being Aspergers) to remain a stay at home mum. So I write books, publish them myself (as best I can) and volunteer in the community as a Guider.

My partner, having been thrown out of one industry for being Dyslexic and undiagnosed Aspergers, is changing career to one that suits him as a person and looking for work. Unfortunately, it’s one of those careers that (like writing) is very difficult to get into without a lot of experience. Which he doesn’t have, despite being talented at his chosen career.

I care about money because we need it to live; you can’t buy food or energy without it and the prices are getting higher every week as the more materialistic of the human race try to pull as much of the world’s money into their personal accounts.

My writing makes a little bit of money. The rest (because of the aforementioned circumstances) we have to get through the benefits system. Which people higher up the money chain are trying to pull out from under us because they think that we don’t deserve it or that we are taking too much from the country and not giving back at all.

It’s a grapefruit juice bubble existence.

Sooner or later (the latter please!) it is going to be bitten into and who knows what comes next?

 

I’m not sure that I am making any sense at the moment – blame it on Sprog, he/she seems to enjoy making me write oddly – so I will leave you with this:

 

Read “Wool” by Hugh Howey.

Enjoy the words as they burst on your mind, revel in the wonderful story, then think about what he is telling us about our world.

 

And when the next chance comes for you to vote in an election of some sort, consider what the party you are going to vote for would do with the country you live in.

Would they make it better for everyone or just for themselves?

Free Book for helping me with a little experiment…

I went to the Cardiff International Comic Expo today. I went because I love comics, I adore anime and Art of all sorts floats my boat… this expo had it all…

…including three fellow authors –

A Trio of Talented Horror Authors...

A Trio of Talented Terror Taleists…

Rich Hawkins, Craig Saunders and Adam Millard. I chatted to them for a while – shop talk mostly – but while I was wandering around later it occurred to me… I’m a writer. Sooner or later I am going to have to try and build my following up and that’s going to require marketing.

I am terrible at selling myself or the things that I produce. I get tongue tied when I talk to people in person (hence why I talked shop with Craig et al – it was all I could think of to say!) so the idea of actually sitting behind a table and trying to persuade people to buy my books?

We are talking nightmares here… serious ones!

Anyway. I have a lot of books on e format and only one in print. I’ve always been intersted in using technology to my advantage, so I realised that as well as print books, I could offer e-books.

Through QR codes. Here’s some info about them, just to bring you up to speed – if you didn’t already know it!

What’s a QR Code?

The history of QR Codes

The QR Code was invented for the automotive industry. Toyota asked their supplier Denso Wave to develop a barcode for safely and easily identifying components. QR generators were originally used in industry. Because of the outstanding error correction performance (they can be read even if up to 30% of the surface are destroyed) and a lot of applications, the QR Code quickly made its way around the world.

How to use them:

QR Code reading apps are available for almost every smartphone with a camera (e.g. iPhone, Google Android, Blackberry, Symbian). The graphic can also be scanned and decoded with older mobile phones with a camera – there is free software (e.g. i-nigma) even for less widespread platforms.

Read QR Codes—recommended software/apps

There are plenty of free QR Code readers on the market. Here are the best ones (from our experience, but we’d like to hear your opinion):

Android
iOS
Other mobile systems

Information from – http://goqr.me/

 

Now you’re all up to speed, here’s my idea.

As well as print books, I have cards with QR codes on them. The QR code gives the purchaser a code for somewhere like smashwords that allows them to download the book instead of having to carry a print copy around with them. The card also allows me the chance to give them a dedication / autograph that they can keep.

Having decided this I decided to play around with the code idea… I went to the site that I got the information on the codes from and created a code that had the information for a free copy of one of my books.

And as I’m a nice person, I thought I’d share the code with everyone who reads this blog post…

qrcode

 

Just Scan the code with one of the apps from the info above (you’ll need something with a camera or a smartphone) and you can pick up a free book. I’m not telling you which one though.

One thing I would like you to do though.

Come back here once you’ve tried it (ie: downloaded the book) and comment below – I need to now how popular this idea could be.

Ta muchly peeps!