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TRC Christmas Fair

I often join in with TRC events to help them raise money so no surprises that I’m mentioning them again (seriously, they’re awesome).

This Christmas they are doing a craft fair sort of thing in Bath and I went to the same event last year and it was amazing! The venue is new but the crafters are really really good (one of them made my tardis journal for me).

And, on top of all their usual awesomeness, I’m also going to be there signing print books, including the new Sherdan series.

A percentage of everything¬† the stall holders sell will go to the TRC so it’s a great way to do some Christmas shopping and give to charity, all at the same time.

And yes, I am doing this in the middle of also trying to do 60k for NaNoWriMo, which just makes it all the more epic. You never know, if you come along you might even get to have a sneak peak at the book I’m writing!

Gaming Apps

These have got to be some of the biggest distractions in the modern world. It’s so easy to think ‘I’ll just play this for five more minutes’ or ‘I’ll just do one more race’ and over an hour later you’re still not writing but playing apps on your phone or tablet.

Despite knowing this I don’t avoid apps very well. Mostly I really love them and it’s entirely because it is a great breeding ground for the indie artist in the gaming world. So many indie makers have had hits with apps. Angry Birds and Temple Run are just a couple, and it’s amazing.

Being an indie in the writing world, I have a lot of respect for indies in all types of creative career. I support so many more indie singer/songwriters and I love supporting indie gamers. The internet has really made it so easy for indies to thrive and for that I am truly grateful. What’s also great is the lines are blurring between them all.

I rarely know if I’m playing an indie app or a big makers app. I just browse and find the ones I like and if I keep coming back to the free ones I buy something from their in game store to say thanks for amusing me for so long. It’s brilliant.

Now I just need to figure out how to play apps and write books.

Ideas, Inspiration and The End of the World

At the moment I’m trying my best to get The Fire of Winter finished. I originally expected it to be about 100-110k long. Definitely the longest I’ve ever written but it just keeps getting longer, as you can see from the progress bar, I’m now estimating a good bit more.

The biggest problem with a book this long is my ideas and the research I need to do. So far this year I’ve had nine new ideas, several of which are the beginnings of a dysotopian world which lends itself very well to a series of stories. These are some of the most exciting sorts of ideas because they have the fun world building around them as well as the ideas themselves.

I’ve also read a lot of really good books lately that often make me want to try to write something similar. I’ve said before that the Sherdan series was inspired by the tv series the 4400. It also has political conflict in it that can be similar to the political strife in the Game of thrones series and I love loads of the characters in that. All of it serves to make me rather distracted from my current writing task.

For research I’ve also been studying the biblical end times prophecies (not an easy thing to do) with the help of a friend and it’s very distracting. I’m just aware it would be quite a lot of time out of writing if I don’t at least start studying it before this current book is finished and I want to write the next, but mostly it’s just making me very eager to write book three in the Sherdan series before I’ve even finished the current book.

Also I’m tweaking book two in the Sherdan series and having it proofread to get it ready for launch in about 5-6 weeks which makes me want to delve into the world of Anya and Sherdan again. Hopefully soon I can.

 

Holiday, Birthdays and Wedding Anniversary

Yup, all those are pretty much current right now. As I said last week it was my birthday, It’s also been my husband’s birthday and yesterday was our wedding anniversary. We decided we’d be on holiday for all of them this year so this won’t be much of a blog update I’m afraid.

I’m in the Lake district in the UK for two weeks and have been enjoying some time off writing immensly. I’ll be back to it soon, but in the mean time I hope everyone’s good and has lovely holidays coming up soon too!

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Calling vs Career

This has been a pretty hot topic in my life recently and I’ve had a lot of people giving me advice on what to do in certain situations regarding writing over the last few months. After a while I realised that, whenever I got two opposing sets of recommendations for what to do and how to do it, it always came down to whether I approached writing as my calling or my career. I’ll start by defining what the two are.

Calling, according to my understanding of it, is what you feel you are meant to do with your life. In some ways, your reason for being on the earth. It’s the things you can do from your unique blend of skills and life experiences to make the world a better place. I believe my calling is directly related to being put on earth by God for something He’s decided he wants me to do. There are some things that are generic in that. The bible lists a bunch of things every follower of Jesus is meant to do, like ‘Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.’ But in essence, I also believe I’m meant to tell stories in one form or another for the foreseeable future.

Career is more of a financial thing. It’s the success and financial reward an occupation brings. Having a good career is when we reach the top of that paricular occupational ladder and earn a larger amount. It’s very much about the stability it brings to life and how other people measure us against each other. When you have a career you know what you’re doing between 9am and 5pm on week days (mostly anyway) and you know what to put on that occupation slot of all those official forms.

Personally I couldn’t care less about my career. I really mean that. If I make money, great, if not, well I still intend to keep writing and telling stories. Some of it will be easier to do if I earn money but that’s only because it takes money to make some of the stories and do some of the ideas in my head. That doesn’t mean I won’t be sensible and try and make money but it does mean when it comes to a decision where one option is about following my calling and the other about following my career, I will pick calling.

A great example of this is writing in more than one genre. You’ve probably noticed I do this. I’ve got two novels in historical adventure, a novel in sci-fi, which is the start of a series, and several fantasy shorts with a series in that genre on the way as well. That’s three genres. This is considered a bad move in terms of a career as a novelist/author.

Readers like to know what they are getting. The quickest way to build a loyal fan base and sell lots of books is to write in one genre and deliver one style of book again and again. Everyone who likes my work can then buy everything without having to worry that they might not like it, and I can ensure every new book sells better than the last (as long as I don’t royally screw something up).

Writing in more than one genre leaves fans unsure about each purchase and even a little confused sometimes. They need to check what genre it is before they buy and while they love one of my books they may only like elements of others. I know this happens because I had a conversation, only last Sunday with a fan. He loves fantasy and tried my sci-fi book because he liked the fantasy stuff. He didn’t like it as much and he won’t even touch my historical adventure novels. To him I’ve wasted my time writing those (he didn’t actually come out and say that last bit and I’m not sure he’d even go so far as to think it, but it’s essentially true).

But the problem is, a lot of my story ideas are inspired by some kind of revelation and often they only fit in the genres and scenarios they came to me in. If I choose to write in only one genre, I wouldn’t be writing two-thirds of the ideas that come about as a result of storytelling being my calling.

When I pick a new idea, the first a formost decision is what ‘feels’ like it needs to be written next. Which one is it the right time for, regardless of how it fits with what I’ve already got (sometimes I get a nudge one way or another and sometimes I don’t but I always check before deciding with any other method). For now, both my sci-fi and my fantasy feel like they need to be written. There’s lots of great ‘moments’ in those characters lives that keep bugging me to be told. So I imagine that for the next little while I’ll be alternating between those two series. But that doesn’t mean I won’t ever write another historical adventure. I’ve got some more ideas for them, just right now they aren’t bugging me to write them.

So I’m writing in more than one genre and I’ll continue to do so despite the fact that this decision is proving detrimental to my career, at least in the short term, because for me, telling stories is about so much more than how many I can sell and how much money I can make. It’s about telling the right story at the right time so it’s relevant to my readers, no matter how few.

Writer’s block

I’ve been asked quite a few times what I think of writer’s block and how often I get it so I thought I’d post about it on my blog.

I don’t actually believe in writer’s block as such. I actually just think one of two things happens. We either get worn out creatively and need to recharge our memory banks with experiences or we get distracted too easily. Both can slow down a writing schedule alone but when both strike together it can pretty much kill a well planned schedule. I know that from first hand experience. As I write this I’m actually struggling with both. My creative capacity feels dry and I just don’t seem to have any motivation to ignore the many distractions trying to get my attention.

Today I want to talk about ways to refill that creative well and get the new ideas and juices flowing again.

The first thing I try when struggling is a good old fashioned walk. I know where all the good walks are near my house for good and bad weather. I also find walking to a coffee shop can help but sometimes it’s just good to get out the house and let the brain dwell on anything else it might want to process before it can get back to my complicated plots and character’s lives. The sunshine is also really good and stops me appearing quite such a pasty faced geek.

If that doesn’t work I’ll take a day or two off and indulge in all my hobbies. Anything that might put ideas into the pot, like reading books, watching films and playing computer games. It’s important that there is inspiration coming into the mix and fresh ideas so I usually find this is a good time to read, watch or play something a bit more out there and different to my usual fare.

If that still leaves me feeling uninterested or uninspired I switch to one of my other creative pursuits. Either clothes design or drawing or anything else that’s different enough I can get the pressure off and try and create without deadlines or need for it to be any good. If pressure or worry about something not being good enough has been the killer of my creativity then this works a charm.

Finally, if I’m still struggling after all that I’ll consider my options carefully. I may just need some more time off because it’s stress that’s caused the problems. I may just need to recharge and talk to people, or I may need to just give myself a good kick up the butt and get working again. Very very occasionally I might need to stop the project I’m struggling with and come back to it a few months down the line. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right.

Either way. It usually get’s resolved eventually. Now I’m off to play some games…

Regrets

I recently read a blog by author Bobbi Holmes about death and she mentioned that it had made her wonder if family of deceased authors read the books they wrote because they realise the author has left something of themselves behind.

It made me think, especially about the idea that something of us goes into our art, and that it’s an important part of us. My words have me in them, and anyone who reads them is connecting with me, even if they are the other side of the planet.

As a writer I know it means a lot to me when people I care about take the time to appreciate my art. There’s very little that says I value you more than someone taking the time to read something I put hours of my time, countless emotions, and a small part of some vulnerable inner place.

I sometimes wonder how many people realise that something like this goes into the creative process and I wonder how many realise it too late. I Know if it was me I would struggle with feelings of regret. I would regret not reading while they were alive, and I’d regret not telling them if I appreciated it, but most of all I would regret how I hadn’t let them know I cared, that I wanted to get to know them.

So today I want to remind myself to appreciate the creativity of the people I care about, to do something that let’s them know I care, to take an interest in them and try to ensure that when they are gone, I’ve one less possible regret.

Moving House

Yup, that’s right. I’m on the move. Well, hopefully.

At this point we’ve had our chain completed. We’ve accepted an offer on our flat, made an offer on the house we like and they’ve also now found somewhere they’d like to move to. So solicitors are all churning through paperwork.

Thankfully, we’ve got an amazingly short chain so it bodes well for things being speedy, something we’d really love. The shorter the interruption the better.

It does mean we’ve already packed up a chunk of our lives into boxes. Nothing too major yet but we wanted to get started. Anything we don’t think we’ll need or use is being put away in brown containers until we get to the other end.

While I’m really looking forward to the new house (I absolutely love it, and no, it’s not the one pictured here. This is just one example of the quirky kind of thing I like, although out of my budget this time around) I’m not looking forward to the interruption this will bring to writing. But it will mean I’m in a cheaper area, have more space, and I’m significantly closer to a coffee shop to go write in. I will, of course, have to find one I like but I’ll be closer to several options so it’s a good start.

I wonder what the cat will make of it all!

I updated this blog on March 1st, with extra information regarding chain etc as on the time of writing things weren’t as far forward as they were on the date of publication. Everything should be correct as of now.

Charity Abseil: A Distraction

My usual distractions from writing usually include games, deep philosophical thoughts and conversations with other people on the internet (usually facebook).

This one is a little out of the ordinary. Saturday the 9th of february I’m abseiling about 200 feet down Avon gorge in Bristol for the Trauma Recovery Centre in Bath.

I’ve mentioned these guys before as half of the rights to Innocent Hearts was given to them as well as 10% of all my fantasy works going forward. If you want to know more about them, and all the wonderful things they do, their website is here.

I’d really love it for those of you who have some spare cash to sponsor me here and help me aid them in continuing their work. I’m really rather nervous about doing this and if every one of my regular blog readers each gave only ¬£2 I’d hit my target with ease. It really is an amazing cause!

Entropia Land Deeds: A Year’s Worth of Investment

Just over a year has gone by since Land Deeds were introduced to Entropia. I’ve had one since the beginning and kept track of the returns. I did a post a while back on the early returns so I thought I’d post about the first year’s worth of investment.

In the first 52 weekly payments I received 241.81 Ped back or $24.18 which was an average of $.465 per week. It’s not quite as high as the initial amount I estimated in my two month post. It seems the first two months of the year were the best as I’m finding it’s picked up a little since then as well.

I initially predicted that the deeds would all be sold out within about six months and they are now all pretty much gone. The Planet owner kept a few to give out as prizes here and there but the vast majority of the 60,000 are now in the hands of others and interestingly I think about a quarter of them are all owned by one person, although one unnamed person. The resell price has also increased around 15-20% which I expected would happen, so my deed is now worth at least $115 so my total increase on the worth of the deed as well as the pay is at least $39.18 and is of course a 39.18% return.

At the end of two months I predicted that I would have my $100 back from payments by 20th April 2015, that’s now changed to 18th January 2016, which is unfortunately quite a bit later but I’ll actually have more than doubled my money by then if the deed value holds at $115. So a new estimate based on the new deed value of having a total of $200 value (deed resell value + revenue received) is 1st June 2015.

Although that is still after the initial estimated date, Mindark, the people behind the platform, have been putting extra effort into increasing marketing and new players to entropia, specifically planet calypso and have recently informed the community that the number pf players is growing. As they continue this into 2013 it may well see the amount per week grow again and these numbers may well improve. It definitely doesn’t look like they will decrease any further.