The end of a dry spell?

Over Christmas 2014, I was feeling quite down; partially because of the weather and partially because it didn’t look like anyone liked my writing anymore. It set off a case of “Writer’s Doldrums” and in keeping with tradition,  I self medicated with chocolate, wine and duvet days.

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Yes, I know it says Nanobug, but I changed it to Nanobot…

Then came January 2015 and I resolved to try and pull meself out of the doldrums and get on with the business of writing. Before Christmas, I’d putThe Necklace of Harmony“*  permafree on Smashwords and 99c on Amazon (because unless you’re in their special club, you can’t do free…) so after I sobered up, I went and checked the stats…

Smashwords sales Jan 2015

This was on Smashwords…

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found on Smashwords, even more so because my Amazon sales had flat-lined.

The thought that people were actually, willingly, downloading my little collection of stories, made me feel a lot better. So I started an attempt to finish “Night of The Nanobot”** , my on/off science fiction fantasy story.
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I posted each chapter up on wattpad as I went and posted about it on Facebook, Twitter etc… and I started getting reads! I even had a couple of votes, which while it didn’t catapult me into Watty Fame, did feel rather nice. It was encouraging.

So I ploughed on and eventually on the 4th of February I typed the final full stop. That one is going to be passed into the gentle hands of my alpha-readers and I’ll get on with something else.

I popped in on my published books recently on Amazon and came across this on “The Heir of The Dragon.” – 

 

5.0 out of 5 stars A Darkness in Te Ling, 24 Oct. 2014
By
Te Ling is a city like no other. Certainly it has all the usual sights and sounds of a modern metropolis – the crowds, the tourists, the businesses, the hustle and bustle. But the real life of the city is hidden, and the real rulers of the city lurk in the shadows. Under the Treaty of Te Ling, Vampires, Werewolves and Humans live in an wary but beneficial alliance.Until two outsiders arrive. They are hunters, and their prey is The Black Dragon – Vampire Lord of Te Ling.Against this rich and exotic background, the author weaves a fast paced and absorbing tale of love, blood and intrigue. More than just another ‘Vampire / Werewolf’ story, this has serious depth, a lot of action, and a brilliant twist in the ending!

I couldn’t believe that I’d missed this one. Heir is one of those stories that doesn’t get a lot of press and lo, someone had actually written a review of it! I had a mad case of warm fuzzies, I can tell you!

I was trying to decide what to do next. I can’t do anything to “The Tower and The Eye” until my editor has read them and given me a list of what needs changing. I thought about sorting out “The Dragon’s Pendant” but my beta-reader is currently in the throes of sorting her own writing out for publication, so I doubt I’ll be doing that any time soon.

I went back to my work-in-progress folder and took a wander through the fantasy section (a change is as good as a rest, as my Nan used to say) and came across the Japanese based world of “Yumi’s Story” and “The Ballad of Pigsnout the Wanderer”  from the Quargard Realm. Both of these stories draw me, but in the end, Pigsnout won the toss and that’s what I am now working on!

This post might sound like I am rambling and boasting, but it actually has a point. At Christmas I had reached the point of Writing Suicide – that of stepping away from the keyboard and never doing it again. Then I was talked round by my partner who said, quite wisely for him, that I should give it another year and if it still didn’t pick up, then I could give up.
The encouragement I had got from the sales on Smashwords, the reads / votes on Wattpad and the review that I had obviously missed; coupled with several rather nice private messages from a new reader, pulled me the rest of the way out of the Doldrums and into the feeling of “yes, I can carry on with this…”

Reviews are important to Indie Writers; even the 1 stars, which can at first glance see nasty and vindictive. They tell us that people value our work. That we have been noticed for whatever reason and that we are affecting those who read our work in whatever way.

Of course, increasing sales are good as well, because… this might seem a little mercenary of me… we need money to be able to pay the bills and continue to do the thing that we love best – create and write stories for readers to read.

In my case, the money from my books is going straight into my moving fund to get my family into a safe, secure house with a roof and enough space for my Aspies to feel happy and calm in… but that’s a totally different story really.

Right then, I’m off to do more wordsmithery and World Creation…

Peace and health to all who pass through!

M

*This book is still permafree by the way, so if you fancy a read, feel free to boost my ego a little more and download it!

** If you decide to follow this link and read what is up on wattpad, be warned – I stopped posting before I got to the end of the book. Also, the wattpad version will only be up until the end of february.

Some thoughts about Guns…

TOH is playing Watchdogs. For the most part, he likes it because you can sneak around playing the game without hurting any of the civilian characters that are wandering around the city.

There are puzzles and you can choose the way you play so that you become a Vigilante rather than Terrorist (the opposite end of the reputation bar.) You can protect civilians, stop them getting hurt and attacked.

The story line is quite an interesting one. It looks at the way that information is used in the real world and just how much information everyone puts out there that can be twisted or used to hurt. It’s a scary concept, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

Like with many of the games now, you get digital trophies for certain things – for example, the number of police scans you evade. Most of these are easy enough to do without hurting anyone. However,  TOH being who he is, likes to get all of the trophies, and there was one that he couldn’t figure out; you had to escape a level 5 police scan.

So he went online and googled the problem. He was not happy with the result, but try as he might, it was the only one he could find. So he did it this morning before he went to work.

He took the character to a crowded place, pulled out a machine gun and let rip. It must have killed between 15 and 20 civilian characters before the scan meter was at level 5. The noise was horrendous and it attracted both my attention (and made me muck up the pattern I was knitting) and the baby’s attention (she’d been playing with her ducky ball).

It was realistic and I started having a panic attack. I picked up the baby and cuddled her away from the noise.

Now I can think logically about it, it wasn’t what was on the screen that was panicking me. It was the noise. The realistic sound of the machine gun he was using on the game. It took me back to a particular incident that shaped my life without me realising it.

* * *

When I was 16, I was in the Air Training Corps. It’s the cadet branch of the RAF and I was seriously considering a career in the RAF at the time. One of the last events I went to was a joint exercise with the local USAF base. The Military Police there had put on an exercise for the local ATC units complete with full military training gear. This meant we were wearing the laser vests that they used and carrying blank adapted M16’s with laser equipment to “tag” the vests.

And yes, you read that one right. They were allowing teenagers to use M16’s. There were also two M60 ‘s set up the same way, one for each team. We were given the guns and put through training exercises – stripping, cleaning, reassembling in a set time, practice on a range with live bullets and on a stationary dummy wearing a laser vest with blanks in the gun.

All stuff we had done before at ATC with the 302 rifles we’d used for ages on our range.

We also were given a small strip of ammunition and allowed to shoot the M60. This was to show us how the rifle worked and make the point that the only people big enough to carry the things were two of the biggest boys I had ever seen in my life… and I wasn’t a small, dainty little girl.

Anyway. It wasn’t the experience of shooting the M60 that did the damage. That was funny because the gun moved me back in the heather by about 3 feet. It wasn’t even the “capture the flag” exercise we played next, albeit with the M16’s on our shoulders. We’d done that before with LR98’s and laser equipment on a RAF Base.

It was the Night Exercise.

We’d been told that we were being treated like Military Academy students and that when they were on exercise, they carried their guns at all times. So we had to. I literally slept that night with an M16 next to me. We were all in one camp, both teams together.

I say slept. Others slept. I didn’t. I couldn’t. The gun felt as hard and dangerous as a knife and while I knew it was loaded with blanks and the safety was on, I was terrified that it was going to go off in the night.

I fell into a half doze about three in the morning when my body refused to remain awake any longer.

At dawn the camp was attacked.

I lay in my tent, my hand on the M16, frozen with fear as an M60 opened up out in the woods around us and blasted us. Everyone’s laser vests started screaming at us and while some of the boys managed to rally and fire back, the rest of us lay there, scared out of our wits.

They were trying to make some kind of point apparently, because they’d noticed that some of the boys had got rather cocky, trigger happy and were being reckless. Our Officers had agreed and were joining in.

That noise has lived with me ever since.

I managed to complete the event without being hurt (normally I got an injury of some sort), cleaned and returned my M16. I even got a commendation for being able to complete the entire 1 mile obstacle course within a decent time.

I quit ATC  not long after that. My excuse was that I wanted to concentrate on my exams. The real reason was that I realized that the RAF wasn’t for me. At the time I didn’t want to think like that and I was being encouraged by my teachers to choose that career, so I acted out the charade a little longer and then when I got to University, I changed direction.

This morning, it was that noise. The machine gun going off on the TV that sent me straight back into my 16 year old self lying on the ground, listening to the M60 shoot over my head and the laser vest’s warning screaming in my ear.

I know now that should I have to, I can pick up a gun and shoot someone with it. To protect my life, to protect my children, to protect TOH, I will do it. But I’m scared of them, of guns. I’m scared that I found that in myself. I’m scared that I could kill another human being.

And I’m scared that all the war and violence that I ducked out of by not going into the RAF might actually happen over here. That I might actually have to pick up a gun to defend my children.

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/