SJB Gilmour Writes

…and rants and ruminates…

Month: March, 2014

Aaargh! All My Stars & Review Totals Have Gone!

Logged onto my Author Page to see if any new reviews had been posted, and got a shock.  They were ALL gone.  Panicked, I clicked on the individual books, and to my relief, found they were all still there, but it seems Amazon’s no longer showing them on Author Pages.  I checked out a few other authors’ pages and discovered the same thing.  NOT HAPPY.

lost stars

 

Sam

 

 

Another Writer In The Family?

It’s conflicting.  There are times I wouldn’t wish the life of a writer on my worst enemy.  Other times, I revel in being one and also wish I could do more of it.  When my eldest daughter came to me this morning, and told me she wants to write a book, I had to pause for a minute.

Sure, I’d support her and help her any way I could, if she wants me to.  Yes, absolutely, I’d encourage her to have a go, even if she runs out of ideas halfway through.  Oh, God, what am I doing to this poor child?  All that and more flashed through my mind, but my mouth began offering her praise and encouragement before my brain even kicked in properly.

Then she surprised me by interrupting me mid-babble.

Miss7: “I have the idea for the story, and I know what to call the title.”

Me: “Yeah?”

She then went on to tell me all about it, but then told me she didn’t know how to go about making a book.  So I sat down with her and began going through the steps.  First we discussed her ideas.  She had a title, a character, and ideas for him, and what he does etc.  I was surprised, and really chuffed.

Me: “Wow, that’s great!  Many writers take ages to come up with ideas.   We could make this a bit of a project, if you want.  You and I could work out what happens with each idea you have for your story, you could write it down, then I could put it into the computer.”

At this point, we got interrupted because it was morning and she was supposed to be getting ready for school, but by that time, I had scribbled down a few notes.  Now I’m putting together a corkboard for chapters and ideas in Scrivener so I can show her how it works.

As I sit here, trying curb my enthusiasm (don’t want to smother the poor kid), I know that while the life of a writer can be torturous, if my daughter decides she wants to write, I could not be happier.  Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted talks on education are echoing through my mind.  I must encourage this child to be creative, and nurture that spark within her so that it becomes a flame that never goes out.

Sam

Hey Huff Post! Here’s A List Of Lists I Actually Want To See.

I have a love-hate relationship with Huffington Post.  I love that it’s informative, but hate that it’s often as bad as trashy tabloids in its sensationalist way of covering things.  Really.  A celebrity wearing a sheer dress is hardly news, and the fact that she (or he) is wearing a dress, no matter how sheer or see-through, means it’s impossible for them to be “nude.”

I love the in-depth focus on subjects that interest me.  I check out the Books, Crime, Tech, and Weird News sections daily.  Kudos, guys.  Always something interesting there, especially author interviews, and industry analyses and statistics.  I hate the ridiculous amount of ridiculous (yes, I used that word twice in one sentence.  Reckon there’s a reason for it?) little lists that tell me what I’m doing wrong, what I should be eating, what I should be reading, why I’m this or that, et cetera, et cetera.  Jesus, you might as well put together a list titled “You are feeling too happy about yourself, buster.  Read this to take yourself down a peg or two.”

Well I’ve got a little list of my own, and it’s of lists I’d like to see that Huff Post doesn’t put up, or hasn’t yet to my knowledge.  And, they’re more likely to entertain and or inform me rather than just frustrate me or deflate my precious ego, or stress me out that I’m about to die of some weird cancer I never knew existed.  It’s a short list too, so don’t sweat.

  1. Books:  Just give me a list of top sellers.  I don’t care how you sort them.  You’re big boys and girls.  You’ll figure it out.  I know various other newspapers and news services can do it.  Surely you can too.
  2. Books:  This might be in the “Too Hard Basket,” – God knows, I’m waaaay to lazy to do it myself, and for some reason, Amazon deems itself too important to offer such a plebeian service – but I’d love to see a weekly list of new releases.
  3. Crime/Tech:  Scams are everywhere.  How about a list of scams, phishing emails, viruses etc that are doing the rounds?  Even better, a list of fixes or links to virus scanners that can help out those affected.
  4. Crime:  How about some stats on crime as it relates to current hot-topic issues?  Take legalized dope for example.  Any stats on what’s happening to the crime rate in Colorado and or Washington?
  5. Weird News.  Now I know weird stuff happens at random.  That’s part of what makes it weird.  But, sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s news, possibly because it seems to keep on happening.  How about lists of dumb crooks / weird deaths / strange marketing strategies and so on?

There.  That’s my two cents.  I still love Huff Post and will keep on clicking on it.  Sometimes, I’ll even click on those lists.  If they’re not likely to make me want to play in traffic, that is.

Sam

PS:  If you’d like guys, I could always try my hand at doing a list or two like that for you, but I want a bowl of green M&M’s and a case of Perrier.

Twenty Questions – Teri Fowler

20 Questions for Teri Fowler

Hi Teri!  Just leave your details with the nurse and follow me to examination room 13.  Sorry about the robe.  I’ve never understood why they’re so breezy back there.  Now, before we begin, I just have to check a few boxes…

Your Author name, just in case it’s different from what’s up there in the title of this post:  Teri Fowler

And you’ve got your bio there, I see.  Can I have a look?  I live in a beautiful part of the Southwest of England. My first experience of writing was creating what is known as ‘fan fiction’ on the Internet forum of one of my favourite artists. Lots of my readers gave me really positive feedback and encouraged me to write more and take things further. Without them, I would never have had the confidence to submit a manuscript. I enjoy the process of writing and creating characters I would like to meet and situations I would love to be in.

Age:  44 

Country of residence:  England

Marital status:  Happily separated! 

Known allergies:  BS brings the bitch out in me 🙂 

Latest release:  The Submission Sessions

Current Work(s) In Progress:  Shades of Love 4 – an I/R erotic romance 

Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the 20 Questions.  Don’t worry, this won’t hurt.  If you’re good, when we’re done, you can have a lollypop.   Let’s start with a few basics.

Plotter or Pantser?  If plotter, describe your process.

I’m a ‘moody’ pantser. In other words, I have to be in the mood to write.

2 I tend to write sporadically, randomly juggling my writing around work, family and various procrastinations.  How structured is your writing time?

My writing time isn’t structured at all. I just type when I get the urge and the time.

What writing software do you use?

Just Word. 

I have a small circle of beta readers.  How many do you use?

I don’t have any. I don’t have a problem with them, but writing has always been a solitary pursuit for me and I’ve never been in a group that offered to beta read or even suggested it.

5 Have you ever paid for beta reading?

See above

6 Have there been any scenes you’ve edited out because of a negative reaction from a beta, only to regret it once you released the work and got feedback from the public?

I’ve had this experience with editors, but only once that I can remember. It was a tiny scene about scuba diving, so nothing vitally important to the plot, but the editor thought it slowed the scene down, and I deleted it. I wish I’d saved it because it was lovely and taken from personal experience. 

7 What about proof-reading?  Ever paid for that?  If so, can you recommend anyone?

I’ve never paid for proof-reading as I’ve only ever been published through a full service publisher. I might be looking myself sometime soon as I have an idea for a series I’d like to self publish, so recommendations would be appreciated.  (Hmm.  I’ll ask around and see if any of mine want to take on extra work. ~ Sam.)

 Do you have any fantasies you’d like to put into your books but can’t because people might think you’re too weird?

I grew up reading (devouring) those bodice rippers that used to come with the Fabio type models on the cover? I loved them, especially the ones with forced seductions that the heroine just happens to succumb to willingly eventually, and I’d love to try and write one but I would hate to offend any readers, so I’ve shied away so far.

9 We all joke about it, even though we could probably get in serious trouble if a real person thought we were basing a character on them, but have you ever given a character in your work traits from someone you know in real life?

Oh yes! The first novel I ever had published had a weak, spineless, wanker of an ex-boyfriend in it. 

10 Don’t name the real-life person, but which character, in which book are you referring to?

Simon from For One Night Only (published under my other author name of Luxie Ryder) 

11 There’s all kinds of advice out there from various “experts.”  I ignore most of it.  Sometimes though, something rings true.  What’s been the most valuable piece of advice on writing you’ve ever received?

“Write. Start writing today. Start writing right now. Don’t write it right, just write it –and then make it right later. Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, because the process of writing is a long one. Be wary of “writing rules” and advice. Do it your way.” ―  Tara Moss *

(* Note.  I contacted Ms Moss’ representative at Harper Collins in Australia to verify this quote, but as yet I’ve not had a response.  My old journo training’s kicked in, so it’s “publish and be damned!”  If the above quote turns out to be incorrect, or Ms Moss and or her publishers, legal representatives etc have any objection, apologies in advance, and I’ll take it down forthwith.  ~ Sam.)

Okay here are a few hot-topic lit questions…

12 Writers reviewing writers – where do you stand?

I think it’s okay. Once you accept that opinions are personal, then it is impossible to take it personally if someone doesn’t like your work. The flipside of that is, you can’t take it personally if someone really likes your work either. A gushingly good review is no more valid than a mean-spirited one. 

13 Lots of writers claim the use of various intoxicants frees up their creative process, just as many others claim medication for psychological disorders hampers their ability to create.  Have you had any experience with either?  If so, can you describe it?

I really should just take my coffee via an intravenous drip as it will save me from endless trips to the kitchen, but I don’t use anything else. Except chewing gum, perhaps. I get through a pack of that a day. 

Let’s get back to some other random pieces and bits.  Some of these might sound weird or embarrassing, but trust me, this is the fun part!

14 When I rule the world, the first thing I’m going to ban is the wearing of pants down past underwear.  What would be your first decree?

I would force Governments to add one unit of their currency (a penny/cent/euro) to the basic income tax rate and make them give the money to the world’s poorest people in ongoing instalments as a regular and reliable source of income that will lift them out of poverty. 

15 Food off the floor.  10 Second rule, or straight into the bin?

In the bin. I’ve got a dog. God only knows where his paws have been! 

16 Scrunch or fold?

Fold! Are you insane?! Who would scrunch anything?? (You know I was talking about toilet paper, right? ~ Sam.) 

17 The rest of the family thinks you’re mad, but you swear this works.  What is it?

Saluting a magpie when you see one and saying “Good Morning/Afternoon,  Mr Magpie!” It’s bad luck not to do it. I don’t actually believe in it but I love doing it. 

18 We’ve all got funny little habits which we deem harmless but annoy the living daylights out of our significant others.  For example, I collect those little soaps from hotel rooms.  It drives Superwife up the wall.  What’s your most annoying habit?

Singing aloud to the songs they play over the loud speakers in shops, restaurants, etc. If I like a song, then I’m damn well singing along to it. I’ve got a voice that sounds like a goose farting in the fog, but that’s everyone else’s problem, not mine.

19 When I was at Primary School, I had a big book of facts which I loved.  Some of my less-bookish classmates thought I was a dork (they were probably right) for reading it, and took to calling me “Professor.”  Lucky for me that moniker didn’t follow me when I changed schools.  Did you have any cringe-worthy nicknames at school?

I am mixed race and got racially abused at school so I can’t tell you the worst ones, but the funnier/nicer ones were Big Bird, because I’m pretty tall, and Rizzo, because I had dark, wavy hair like the character from Grease.

20 Should vampires be allowed to sparkle?

Only if they’re FABULOUS! (That’s probably the best answer I’ve had yet to that question! ~ Sam.)

See?  That wasn’t so bad now, was it?  Keep that dry for a few hours and call me in the morning.  Now, before you go, where can we find you and your books?

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/teri.fowler.79

My blog – http://terifowler.blogspot.co.uk

My publisher website – http://www.evernightpublishing.com/teri-fowler

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Teri-Fowler/e/B00G9JTDV8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

***

There you have it, folks!  Teri Fowler in a nutshell.  If you’d like to step up and answer 20 Questions, some will be the same, some will be different (I like to mix things up from time to time), just let me know!

Sam

THE WRITING PROCESS BLOG HOP – Writers Reveal Their Processes.

The extraordinarily talented Nansi Kunze tagged me to answer a few blog hop questions.  You can read her responses to the same questions here.  Nansi’s books MishapsDangerously Placed, and Kill The Music are YA ripsnorters (that means really, really good), and worth checking out!

The previous writers to answer questions in this blog hop are Jennifer ScoullarKathryn Ledson, and Ellie Marney.

1     What am I working on?

This probably puts me firmly in the bonkers basket, but I’ve got three projects on the go right now, and they’re all different genres.  But then, I’m not sure if “sane” and “writer” can ever be used to describe a single person.

One WIP is a short I’ve just about finished polishing for my werewolf series, the Pack Coppernick tales.  This one’s dealing with a particularly dark member of Sarah Coppernick’s (the protagonist in the main series, The Adventures of Sarah Coppernick), friends, and so is taking a bit more time to get right.  I have to keep it still YA enough to appeal to the same readers, but also expand on this character’s dark side.

The second WIP is a gory cop V serial killer slasher called Swapper.  That takes me to some pretty dark places at times, so I can’t work on it too much for too long or I start looking at everyone and wondering just what my killer would do to them.  I’d prefer to save such looks for door-to-door salesmen and bank managers.  So, when I start using them with checkout chicks and co-workers, I know I need to put Swapper back in his cage for a bit.

The third is top secret.  I’m not even going to pub it under my own name.  All I can tell you is it’s not for the same readers as my YA stuff.

2    How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Well, being multi-genre, I guess that’s hard to answer, but I’ll give it a go.  My fantasy stuff certainly draws on classic mythology as well as the popularity of werewolves etc, only I’ve made werewolves the good guys.  In fact, they’re not even from Earth.  I’ve managed to create whole new worlds for some of these creatures – gnomes, elves, werewolves, goblins etc – they’re all aliens and only on Earth to either protect it, or avoid taxes on their home-worlds.

I also try to make them as Australian as possible.  I use the metric system, as well as local places and phrases.  I thought at first that might not go down too well with US and UK readers, but I’ve not had a single complaint about it yet.

My crime and other stuff is also Aussie, but other than that, I’m not sure I’m the best person to say what sets it apart.  Maybe my readers can?  (Like my not-so-subtle request for reviews?  Hint hint!  I’ll make it worth your while!)

3    Why do I write what I do?

Oh, man!   I write multi-genre because multi-genre ideas set up residence in my noggin.  Once those ideas start squatting in my head, they can make a right mess.  If I don’t evict them out onto the page, the roof will cave in and I’ll go bananas.

I think that leads to the real question: Why do I write?  The answer’s simple.  I don’t know how many artists in how many genres I’ve heard say the same thing.  It’s not about the money or the fame or feeding our precious egos – all that comes later, if we’re lucky.  No, we all write, create, paint, sing, sculpt and so on, because if we don’t, we’ll go fucking nuts.  It’s our own private form of therapy.  It’s not always effective, since again, many writers I know are medicated, or should be, but there you have it.

4    How does my writing process work?

I used to be a complete pantser, but now I have to plot things out, kind of.  I scribble out a brief outline of chapters and an overview of how I want the story to go.  Oddly enough, I often start at the end.  I know how the grand finale is supposed to play out, and I write my various characters, scenes, and chapters to head in that general direction.  They don’t always want to go where I want them to, so it can be a bit of a challenge at times.  It’s a bit like herding sheep…  …only I don’t have a sheepdog and I can’t whistle…  That’s not a very good analogy, is it?  Damn.  Why, oh why did I pick writing?  I knew I should have learned to draw.

Anyway, I used to use exercise books, post-its and other random pieces of paper.  Now I use Scrivener * and its corkboard facility, which is an absolute godsend.  I can plan stuff properly, and stay on track thanks to not losing my notes.  (* I don’t work for Scrivener, and I’m not receiving any form of payment from them.  It’s simply the best software I’ve come across.  It compiles to ebooks, its research, notes and corkboard functions are wonderful, and it doesn’t have all the extra cruft you just don’t use or need that MS Word does.)

Of course, that can change big time once I begin writing.  As I mentioned, my characters are a bit like a mob of sheep.  Sometimes, I need to corral them.  Sometimes, I need to let them wander.  When I’m doing that, I can only write one or two scenes at a time.  Since each character is different, and will interact differently with others I’ve created and the settings and situations into which I plonk them, often the outcome is a chapter ending or scene winding up completely differently than what I planned.  If I really like the way that turned out, sometimes I have to go back to my main outline and make a few adjustments.

Sometimes it’s fun to just let characters off the leash, I mean completely off the reservation, just to see how things go.  Find your character’s flaws.  You know, anger, greed, jealousy, stubbornness, etc, and let one or two take over, just as it happens to real people sometimes.  That can mean I’ll occasionally have to scrap large chunks of text, go back and alter course, and then start again, but it’s worth it.  Of course doing that can also affect my moods, but then my moods have always been kinda scrambled anyway.  I guess it makes me a character writer the way some actors are character actors.  I was going to say “stars” instead of “actors”, and though the lovely Nansi called me a gun, I’m far from being a star…  yet.

It also means there’s a lot of me in those characters.  We humans, we’re like vegetable soup.  We all have the same basic ingredients or characteristics, only in varying quantities, just like every pot of minestrone is different.  Sometimes it’s hard to write a character with high levels of personality traits of which I have only low levels, but if you can get into the zone; into that character’s head, you’re there.

Music helps too.  I don’t mean as a background music, although many writers I know say they need some music playing.  No, I mean individual songs or even soundtracks for certain characters.  This morning I was writing a scene, and an early Queen song, March of the Black Queen, seemed to fit this character the way The Imperial March fits Darth Vader.  Funnily enough, I seem to do this more with antagonists than protagonists.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because the bad guys are more fun to write.  Umm, don’t mention that to my shrink, okay?

All that leads up to a fairly solid piece.  Then I start editing.  I read it.  Then I read it again.  If it’s age appropriate, I read it to my eldest daughter.  If not, I read it out loud to myself.  Now that’s something I find very, very helpful.  Read your work out loud.  Even if it’s to yourself.  You might talk yourself hoarse, and look and sound crazy, but it really does help.  If you can’t speak the words you’ve written so that they sound right and make sense, then you need to re-write them.  For a full-length piece, that can take a week, at least.  When I’ve done that, I hand it over to a couple of beta readers, then I go and sit in a corner and rock back and forth.  The nervousness doesn’t wear off until I get the notes back.  Then I send it off to proofers, and wait again for all that lovely red ink.

Lovely?  Yes.  Lovely.  I want proofers and beta-readers to rip my stuff to shreds.  I may not act on every suggestion they make, but the more input I get before I hit “publish”, the fewer remarks about errors I’ll get in subsequent reviews.  There.  That’s my process.  Now that I’ve just read that, even though it makes perfect sense to me, to others it might be like The Doctor describing time.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

***

Well, wasn’t that fun!?  I should do this kind of thing more often.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even revive my 20 questions blogs again.  In the meantime, I’m tagging a great indy sci-fi writer called Catrina Taylor.  If you’ve not read her stuff, get out there and find her!  She’s on FBTwitterAmazon, and of course, her blog.

Sam

Police State – Disgusted Beyond Measure.

I…  I’m struggling for words right now.  Over dinner last night, Miss7 asked what was wrong with North Korea, and I tried to explain in the simplest terms that wouldn’t frighten her or Miss3, that sometimes, when governments or leaders have too much power, they don’t really help the people they’re supposed to be looking after.  We also had a chat about how challenging authority was good, and burning records and books was bad – Footloose was playing on Spotify, and Superwife and I were remembering the film with much fondness.  Then the conversation moved on to more pleasant things like the bug Miss7 found outside, and just how eager our whippet Devo would be to get his paws on our leftover sausages from that night’s dinner.

Then I logged onto my various social media and news feeds this morning and found this.  It seems protesting is now illegal in the state of Victoria.  I am disgusted beyond measure.

Sam

 

FREE!!!

Angela of Troy is #Free for your Kindle till March 13, 2014.

angela finalGrab it while it’s hot!

Sam