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Happy New Year! January 18, 2014

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Matt F Alleyway_photo VandalAnd I do hope it is a very happy and successful one for you all.

I have been a little bit lapse in this blog. And by lapse, I mean that apparently my last post was June, even though a birthday post was written, but seemed to not have been published. So, 6 months have passed by without an update here. How is this possible?

I will put the initial blame down to a lack of organisation and discipline. My workload picked up significantly in the second half of 2013, and I prioritised doing work for clients, obviously. This involved content research, gathering and writing up of stuff. I was also concentrating on marketing and managing all this work, keeping on top of my business blog, which slid by the wayside as well.

And so, the priority for this blog slid to the bottom of the pile. Which was more important to me? Writing for clients which pay me, followed by trying to build ME as a brand, and then a blog where i rant a little bit, I play a little bit more? I talk about writing and things which are not purely business based? It turned into a guilty pleasure, of sorts.

And then there was the fact that this blog wasn’t the only thing which was let to slip. Reading. I didn’t read a book, not a one, in the final 6 months of the year. Except after Christmas, but I’ll speak about that later.

So, what things have I been doing for the past 6 months? Let me look at my novels. Much like this blog, writing my novel slid down the priority list. That thought process of – this writing is not making me money! I kind of forgot what writing is to me. I love writing first, and am lucky to be able to make some coin from it. So I need to remember that I am allowed to write and not make money. Writing is important to me, first and foremost.

So, I did eventually finish writing book 2 – South of the Border. And as with all good middle books of the trilogy, i left the characters beaten and bruised, kidnapped, stolen, and near death, so you are going- WHAT!!! And craving book 3. I am currently re-reading through SOTB before handing it off to my editors. And then the re-write. Ugh.

2013-Winner-Vertical-BannerBook 3! Of course, Nanowrimo came around, and so I started on Book 3. As will 2012, I struggled to write masses of words. I checked in at 51k and “won”, but I am only 1/3 of the way through the book. It is going to be huge. I already worked through one battle and conflict, I now have to place the pieces on the board for the next one, free MC1 from being tortured, ramp up the aggression between rebels, The Children, who are little robots, the Royals and then Lenzell and Associates. And THEN throw in a surprise attack. AND THEN wind it all up nicely with happy endings and those damn open-ended problems which leave the possibility of another movie. You know how it goes.

I also wrote a short story last year. I can’t find the link, gosh darn it, but it was about Death, cooking a chilli con carne, for War, who bragged he could eat anything with spice. So Death made it with the ash from a Phoenix. HA! Cop that War… it was the first short I had written in a while, and was fun. I want to do more of them. I’d like to organise a writing group, but, organising anything which involves people is a little tricky, I have found.

I began working on a revamp of my website with two of my good friends. There is me, the copy writer, my friend Craig, who is a graphic designer, and designed my Wonderdog Logo, and there is my friend Brodie, who lives in the UK, and is a WordPress hacking fiend. The three of us spent time on Skype together one night, working on my new site. The dynamic we have, I totally believe the three of us could work together helping people get online with design, words and so on, and make a lot of money. However, what would normally take a week, may take us 2 weeks, because we just fart-arse around too much and have too much fun being silly.

But this idea of helping others be successful in business was a growing theme in the second half of my year. I approached a good friend of mine, and my business coach, with a plan to help people who have an IDEA, but not the know how of how to be in a business, to be a business. He thought my plan and proposal was pretty good. He then spent a couple of months throwing stones at it, and discovered he could not poke any holes in the idea. He loves it, which makes me feel pretty special. Someone I respect highly, thinks one of my ideas is good? We just need a fecking NAME for this venture, so I can start working on it more.

But this need to grow, to move, has been with me since earlier in 2013. I am a member of BNI, and I will say that if it wasn’t for this organisation, I would probably be back in 9-5 work, not freelancing. However, trying to get the members to move, to think excitedly, to DO something, to get organised into POWER GROUPS, has been difficult. Sometimes described as trying to herd cats, sometimes as glacial. It was this frustration which lead me to my Business Coach to start this idea, which is essentially a Power Group working together.

shutterstock_123153736My frustrations are also the reason I have become quite good friends with a client, and member of the group, who wants to shake things up ad get things moving as well. Despite my long hair and out-there kind of attitude, I am not always extroverted in situations such as BNI, or other GROUP situations. Simon is. We both have clicked in regards to what we want to do, and I have become his ‘partner in crime’ as I like to put it, in getting things rolling.

While it may sound malicious and such, it really isn’t. What we want to do is to work on our businesses, and help others work on theirs. We want to not only find people who need us, or our professional contacts, but also look beyond that, and see who knows who. Do you know 5 people, who know 5 people, who may want to know about Social Media? There’s 25 people who may want to know more. Lets have a lunch, listen to what I have to say, and see what we can do together.

It is the combination of these two gentleman which is making me feel like I can go forth in the new year, with a RAAAAAAAWR attitude. If not everything works, that’s okay, a lot of stuff WILL!

Another little project I have started, and am quite proud of, is my jewelry store. Someone showed me a while ago, how they had converted, or re-purposed, a Star Wars toy into an earring. It was the right size and looked freaking awesome. A couple of years later, I was sitting here and thinking- I want to get crafty. I want to do something, creative, buildery, or something. I would like to learn to mod and paint nerf guns. I’d love to build those secret books and so on. And then I remembered that Star Wars toys.

Bought me some, worked on them, and many friends said the same thing- OMG they are AWESOME! So, I came up with a name, and now have an online store and Facebook page.

The name of my store is Meraki Cosmogyral. I can hear many people saying- what? It is two separate words which describe me so well, and what attitude I bring to this venture. Meraki – (v.) to do something with soul, creativity or love; to put something of yourself into your work. Cosmogyral – (adj) whirling around the universe. For me, just seeing those words, together, gives me a smile. I like the idea that we’re going WEEEEEE around the universe. I like that.

What it means now is, I get to wander around toy stores, looking for things to make into earrings, key rings, or charms for necklaces. And friends find things and are thinking- Matt could use this too! I love when my ideas get others thinking as well.

Meraki Cosmogyral Store Envy

So, 2013 was a great year for me, even if I didn’t keep up with the blogging. As a Freelancer, I finally broke even, and have been able to work, and buy stuff, for a good six months. I am growing, as a business person, making great connections, finding more and more clients, growing in confidence.

What is in store for me in 2014? Having more clients and having them for longer. Getting the process down so I can slot a client into a program, create content, spread the word, build their brand and make them known. Release book 2. Collaborate with people to help others grow their businesses. Educate people more, through presentations, courses, and so forth.

I am really looking forward to 2014.

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Looking back on 2012… December 31, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
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It is the end of the year! It wasn’t the end of the world, which is a good thing, because I know the next year for me is going to be awesome, and it would be a shame if it had ended.

And the year 2012 has been alright for me too. I will try to be chronological, but that goes against the logic of my brain, and I can’t remember everything anyway.

In January I was riding high on the fact I had a 94k word novel. I was determined to release it by February 14th! I had artwork designed with that very thing in mind. I had editors read it, but dear me, I underestimated the length of time required to edit, re-write and get it polished! So, I compromised and had Act 1 ready to go on February 14th as a tease. I got a LOT of good responses from people who read it.

But what I liked a lot was Scarlett Archer telling me that I needed to re-write this, that I NEEDED to finish the story, because it was a fantastic story and people needed to read it.

What I also learned so early in the year was that sometimes you needed to gut your work, admit that something didn’t work. Even if it is many words of text, you have to make the hard choice to edit. In Act 1 of my story – The Girl From Out of Town, Navarr and Mizzell originally go to the Royal Ball, upon invitation from the Prince. While there they are found by agents of the Cabal, and there is a fight, a chase, and it heads to the docks where they hide, and then convince Truen to let them on to his ship. It got my characters where they needed to go, but it just didn’t work. Cutting that all out, making them go to the ball at Navarr’s work, where they get discovered and flee, then a major fire fight at the docks in which they are flung, near dead, onto a fleeing ship? Far more cool.

2 complete re-writes, consultation with a genuine cover designer, who now works for Amazon (I know someone cool in the book world…), IT troubles with both Smashwords and Amazon, but, I released my first novel to the world, on July the 3rd. It was meant to be the 1st, but yeah, IT issues. But…. PUBLISHED AUTHOR! I think I am supposed to get a tattoo now. Sales have not been as astronomical as I thought they would be, but they are there. People I know, and people I DONT know are reading my book. That is a very cool feeling.

Professionally I re-branded myself from Matthew Farmer – Copywriter, to Wonderdog Writing Solutions –> Print

I discovered trying to explain “copy writing’ to those who were not too sure was not as easy as I thought. However, a writer? That made more sense. Do you write this? Yes, yes I do. Do you write tenders? Yes, a successful tender for l-markperry, if you don’t mind. Do you write brochures? Yes, indeed I do, how about this noni_young_logo, or this cvc logo small ? Have you written a book? Yes I have –> mattfarmer_gfoot_front_final_2.

I gained a Business Coach, who is making me see writing as a business is not as scary and hard as I thought, all I need is a direction, a goal, a dream, and to stick to it.

Through this year I have discovered there are more people out there struggling as a writer than I thought. More people who are scared of it, and yet, give it a go anyway. There are people out there who are braver than me and publish themselves, put themselves into the glare of the internet, with abandon! And then there are those who should be doing it, but don’t have the courage.

The second kind of people? We have found each other, formed a support  group, and are going forward, with pom poms and cheering from the rest of us!

I have found a “partner in crime” for my writing. We are going to collude and champion each other, keep each other honest and on the path of the quill and ink.

I have also discovered that I still enjoy writing. I am not writing creatively as much, not so much prose, but that is because I am being creative with my writing in a business sense. The new year is bringing me a swathe of websites, articles and brochures to write, and I must be differently creative for each one, for each client. How can I best express to customers the value of this company, and this company, and this one over here? Three different entities, with 3 different styles of language, all wanting to say the same thing – in the field of X, I am an expert, and you need to do business with me.

I enjoy the challenge of a creative writing assignment, amazing people with it, and then being able to move on to something completely new.

And I am enjoying that my writing is going to take me somewhere. It is going to take me to America. It is going to take me into a creative office space. It is going to take me to different offices, cafes, groups of people. It is going to take me to different opinions and views from people. And, just as importantly, my writing, with prose and novels, is taking me into the skies and beyond.

The biggest thing I discovered about myself this year, is I enjoy being a writer. I cannot do this alone, no writer can. I have the support of a loving wife, and friends who champion me, and believe that I am a good writer, and not in the way of patting me on the back because I am their friend. But because they truly see value in what I produce, they see merit in my advice and my views on writing, and on story.

I believe 2012, for me, was the year I truly believed that I will always be a writer, and 2013 is the year my writing will be bigger, better and take me to more places than I could imagine.

 

2012 in review December 31, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 940 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My Ideal Working Day – version 1 December 11, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
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In my professional writing life, I am lucky enough to have the services of a Business Coach. He is helping me think of ways to market myself, to come up with business goals, and to visualise where i want to take my writing business and my writing career.

One of the homework exercises he had me do is a three page, hand-written, description of my ideal working day. He explained that I can be as fantastic as I want to be. However, when I wrote mine, I was much more grounded in the every day life, with no fanciful dreams, no unicorns or flying cars. And yet, at the same time, my ‘ideal working day’ seemed completely and entirely possible, to me.

It is called Version 1, because in 2 weeks, or 1 week, I get to write version 2. And then version 3. Plus, I get to write a entire week of ideal working days, which will include one full day for writing novels and being creative. AND allowing time to read.

But now, without further ado, I present to you my first version of an ideal working day. On reflection, it is quite busy, and you would think that an ideal day is working for half of it, and then sleeping the other half, like a cat.

office

My ideal working day, version 1 – Wednesday 5th December

I wake up around 6.30am. I get out of bed when my wife does, and head into the kitchen. Toaster on, kettle on.

I make one slice of toast for my wife, knowing she will buy more breakfast when she gets to work. I make her a cup of tea and a coffee for myself. I make her lunch and put it into the Adelaide Crows lunch box because, despite saying she will buy herself a new lunch box, she still hasn’t.

I put a load of washing on, do some tidying up and see my wife off at the door. I then put on a DVD and hit the exercise bike for an hour.

After the bike I am back in the kitchen for breakfast and another cup of coffee. Then it is a shower and start the day.

I head up stairs to my office. It is a room on the top floor of our house, with a balcony and outside stairs, so clients may visit me without going through the house. There is a tiny kitchenette with coffee and cookie facilities, a sink and a bar fridge with essentials.

It is a good sized room, painted in light colours. Being on top of the house there are windows showing many directions, letting in light from wherever it may be shining. Book cases fill in most of the spaces between windows, although there is some room for art, paintings and photos my wife has taken and I have framed. And a framed collection of novel covers.

My desk is an l-shaped desk with filing cabinets behind and on the wall, for clients, and for creative ventures, such as writing clubs, or short stories, magazines and other submissions. On my desk are three monitors for my computer, an ergonomic keyboard and many-buttoned mouse.

In the middle of the room is a couch and some couch chairs around a coffee table. A meeting place, the couch is long enough for me to sleep on it if I have late sessions writing.

I turn my computer on and have the emails download. I check the analytics for my website and two others I have written copy for, building a case study for a new product I am writing up. Before and after stats for website traffic, based on Facebook & LinkedIn campaigns I have run for clients, and web-copy I have re-written for them.

Being Wednesday morning I have social media work to do for two companies – a Business Coach & Inspirational Speaker, and an Office Furniture company. I start with the furniture company for the first hour.

Over the weekend there was a furniture conference in the US. I have a list of office furniture which was displayed, with reviews and images. I had sent these to my client asking which ones they would be importing. There is a reply from the client telling me which ones to expect and when. I begin writing up some mini-articles about the furniture, linking to the reviews and have them scheduled to appear over the next week.

During the weekend I monitored hash-tags and re-tweeted on behalf of my client. These have produced some feedback which I reply to. I had also made internet-friends with a journalist who was doing some work at the show. He has let me use his material on my client’s social media portfolio in exchange for by-line credits and a link to his blog and website.

When the first article is posted at the end of the hour, I make sure I share it with my friends, and some contacts who have purchased previously from my client. I drop onto some Facebook walls of clients and let them know there is a preview of new stock. This begins to drive traffic to my client’s FB wall.

The next hour I spend on my Business Coach client. He is a voracious reader and likes to read books relevant to his field and review them. It is one of the ongoing themes of his wall. He gets a lot of likes for these. I sometimes have to edit the reviews down, but more recently I have convinced him to install a blog on his website so we can preview the book and send people to his site to read the full review.

Last week one of the authors saw the review of his own book, and now they are Facebook friends. There is going to be an interview later, and possibly some signed copies of books to give away.

After updating his calender, posting some testimonials and such, I turn my email back on to check for more work.

There is a couple of emails requesting articles. One in particular relates to the recent popularity of independent book stores in light of the big chain book stores falling down. I accept that article request. I search for some articles on the subject, find a blog post or two, some passionate rants about it, and I call a couple of book store owners I know and ask if I Can interview them later today. They both agree.

I have also received an e-book review request. I am a member of a writing and editing group who read, review and rate each others work, and help with marketing each others work.

An old client has emailed me asking what is required to add a blog to his website, and add this to his portfolio.

I open his file. He is a Landscape Gardener who works very closely with a builder. I have written some flyers and contributions for an industry newsletter. I have suggested to this person in the past, to keep a diary of jobs – photos, some rough notes, which I can embellish and make more prose-like. I also suggested that, for a discount on his fee, he gets one of HIS clients to do the same. An awesome testimonial of what he is doing. In one instance he even produced a photo-book for a client of his. Awesome experience.

I suggest he comes around after work, to talk about adding the Blog to the portfolio he has with me.

It is around lunchtime. I make a sandwich and get another coffee, then look through the ‘possible work’ file I have. This includes publishers and what they are looking for, upcoming writing contests and anthologies looking for content. One anthology is looking for ‘happy cyberpunk’. This intrigues me and I look into it more. A request for a happy story set in the world of VR, cyber-tech, near future setting.

I grab a note pad and pen and start doodling ideas. I use the notion of ‘punk’, being against the ‘man’, and think of a cyber revolution. Or a take over of an evil regime by virtual means. I think of a place like Second Life, a place where people actually work. They are at home, plugged in, and work in a virtual office, but on a larger scale, and how their minds can be freed. It is starting to feel a little bit like the Matrix, so I scrap that idea.

Then I think about over-throwing a country. I need an evil dictator. Former Soviet Union or Africa? I flip a coin, it lands heads- Africa. Google Maps gives me some West African nations. I choose Togo, sine it is a short name. I do some research, figure out some simple methods of over throwing the government through the use of technology – emptying bank accounts, taking over infrastructure etc.

This takes me a relaxed hour. I am sitting in my comfy chair writing notes, thinking up character names, hacker handles and such. I check the time, its nearly time to go out and interview book store owners. I ring my wife and have a chat, finish my lunch and then head out into the world.

My first interview is with the owner of a science fiction/fantasy/horror book shop and comic store. He is located in a shopping mall but is surviving quite well. It is a casual interview, talking about why he runs this particular kind of book store etc. During the interview one of his ‘neighbours’ from the shopping mall comes in to say hi. I introduce myself as a copy writer and professional writer, and he asks the difference.

“As a copy writer I can produce the copy for one-off products such as DL Flyers, catalogues, newsletters and so on. I can help with an integrated portfolio of branded social media content, dynamic web-copy, blogging and other social media. As a Professional Writer, I write books, novels and short stories, articles, and I consult and audit web pages and edit documents for clients.

The visitor, Andrew, mentions he Doesn’t like his website. It reads poorly. I hand him my card and I say I will look at his website and give him a free appraisal by Friday. He gives me his card and I notice that where his website is listed, there is “.home.html” is added in pen. I immediately tell him that is a problem which needs fixing. He knows, he is just trying to get rid of the last of his business cards. I tell him- my first impression? It is very amateur, and I wouldn’t go looking. I don’t care if you’re trying to get rid of the cards, you’ve just had a poor impact on me. He agrees, and then leaves us to finish our interview. I know by the end of the week I am going to have a new client.

I leave for the second book store, calling him to apologise for being a little bit late. While I am driving a Real Estate agent calls me and asks if I could see a house with him tomorrow and write up a side bar ad, a quarter page ad and a blurb for websites. Sure, tomorrow morning, see you then.

When I arrive at the book store, the owner introduces me to a couple of kids as the writer of those books over there. They each buy a copy and ask me to sign them. We get chatting about how to write, what am I writing now, and so on. It is not until the store closes that I get to interview the owner.

I rush home from the book store so I will be available for the 6.30 meeting with my landscape gardener client. I meet my wife, tell her I have a client, which means we will HAVE to have take out Thai food for dinner.

The client arrives soon after, sharing photos from the day. My suggestion to let the people he is working for take pictures and write about him, is providing some great feedback, and referrals for more work. He is becoming quite busy!

After the pleasantries he asks if I can write the blog for him. I suggest a weekly blog article by me, but he can update with pictures as often as he likes, link to Facebook etc. I also suggest pitching some ideas to some magazines, take the blog content and making them reach a wider audience. He asks if I Can do that? Yes I can.

He leaves after an hour or more. 8 pm and I am reclining on the couch with my wife, eating re-heated Thai food, watching some movies.

A week in the life of a published writer July 10, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
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Good evening. It has been just over a week. I remember it was very late on a Monday night that I finally managed to get my book up onto .

 

Later that same week I managed to get my book into the .

 

I was mentioned in a blog –

 

 

And another one –

 

Friends have mentioned me on Facebook, in emails, meetings, newsletters and such. It feels strange being the centre of attention, to be totally honest. Being congratulated on publishing a novel feels strange. I am not trying to sound arrogant or unwelcome to the attention, it just feels strange. I don’t think it has sunk in yet.

A friend said to me during the week- “You’re now a published author!” This hasn’t sunk in. It didn’t bounce off me and not leave a mark. I think it hit me like I was made of foam. An indentation has been left, but most of it bounced off. It doesn’t quite feel real.

Writing is what I do, what I have done for so long. Now to be published, feels strange. It has been something I have been avoiding for so long. There would always be one more re-write, or I was still editing, or the belief the book was not good enough. Or I should try and send it to publishing houses, agents and such. That doing it myself wasn’t worthy. All these silly notions in my head.

And now here I am, with a book released into the wilds of the internet, for a week now. And you know what? The world hasn’t ended. No monsters crawled out from beneath my bed. I have developed an unhealthy habit if checking emails for the ‘another sale’ subject line. I may need professional help for that.

So, now what? Well, now I must market my book. I need to get the message out there to people I know, to people I don’t know, that this is a good book, and they should buy it. And it is, its a good read. 97 000 words, so it isn’t a book you’re going to buy cheap and be done with in an hour. It will take you longer to read, time to invest in the characters, in the story, and care about what happens next.

So, the next steps? I need everyone I know to tell their friends! If you’re reading this, grab a free sample, read that book, tell all your friends. 🙂

I am looking into , and I am looking at print-on-demand, through .

Lots to do!

In the mean time, visit my website, grab a copy of my book from either Smashwords or the Kindle Direct store!

What’s in a genre? What’s in a name? March 18, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized, writing.
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I have been receiving positive reviews this week. Two people posted reviews in Smashwords, I received a comment from a friend through email, which was funny and honest:

I will admit to starting to read the book out of ‘politeness’ (I said I would, so I was) and I really got into it. Don’t tell me that I have to wait for the rest (I was intolerable when the Lord of the Rings trilogy came out – I had to wait a *whole* year to see the next instalment!!! Now the Hobbit looks like it is going to do the same thing – Agggggg!!!!)

You should be really proud of your book – It is definitely publishable material (in my humble opinion!). Try to remember us little people when you get famous 😉

And I was chatting to my old university and writing friend, online, about the book. She is notorious for wielding the red pen with abandon on my work. And while she says there are some niggles still there for her (it wouldn’t be her if it she told me it was utterly perfect), she was extremely happy with what I produced from the original. It read clearer, motivations for characters were clearer and stronger.

However we did get into a discussion as to if my story was true steampunk or not. I say it is magical steampunk, but when it comes to categorising, that doesn’t fit too well. ‘TRUE’ steampunk…. is it Victoriana? Gentlemen in suits with top hats and ray guns, riding steam-powered machinery, with their ladies by their side, silken gloves, corsets and ray guns as well? Or is it the wild west frontier, of an alternate history, with automaton horses, ankle length coats, cowboy hats and goggles and six shooters with dials and gauges stuck on the side?

I have mentioned before that I like the genre of steam punk as it is new and emerging and can encompass so many different things. And yet, it seems those differences which makes other people claim- no that is not steam punk.

My friend and I settled on the term magitech. I like that word. It tells you there’s magic and there’s technology and somehow they are linked. However, it’s not a term people would go searching for, and hence that may impact on sales. So while I agree my book could lean towards this new word, I have labelled it ‘steampunk’ because that is what people will search for.

I do not think this is me selling out. It is going to be hard enough to point people in the direction of my book when it goes on sale. I don’t want to further hamper those efforts by calling it something that not many people have heard of before. Now, when I become popular and well known and people begin to buy my books because of my name, then I will have no problem saying it is colourist theory futuristic interior design retro punk. A new genre! As long as it is a strong story no one will really care what genre I call it. They will be searching for my NAME, not a genre.

Case in point. ‘Perdido Street Station‘. When I first encountered this book I did not know what steampunk was, not really. I had heard rumours. But I was told this book was really good steampunk. So  I read a book which had artificial intelligent junkyard robots, remade prisoners blended with machinery, often in twisted and horrible ways. I read a story about weird and wonderful creatures, an insect-headed woman having a perfectly normal relationship with a human. A blend of magic and technology. And I loved it.

And then I find out that it is not ‘true’ steampunk because it doesn’t have a Victorian feel to it, or is not set in the new west. There is a lot of internet rage over this, and it is rage I am going to avoid. I have heard this book described as ‘urban-gothic’, ‘dark urban fantasy’, ‘weird fiction’ and ‘science-fantasy’. So which box of genres does it go? Or has it created its own new box?

I know that genres were originally invented so book stores knew where on the shelf to place their books, and how to point customers to them. And this idea of genre has become a part of us over the years. Think of this scene- a man about to go to work, is in a diner having coffee and pan cakes. He has been flirting with the waitress for a few weeks now. She knows it too, and she thinks he is cute. This time as she hands him the bill, she puts her number on the ticket and gives it a kiss, leaving lip stick marks. So, this is a romance story, yes? Boy meets girl and romance ensues? It would go there on the shelf with other romance novels.

The next scene shows the man stepping into a mining vessel and launching out to mine the ice rings of a gas giant planet in a far away in a binary star system on the edge of human settled space. Now it is science fiction, and goes on another shelf. Even if this mining ice thing is a just a small part of the story, and it focuses on the building relationship between these two people and the trials and tribulations they have, this book is now science fiction. Because it has space ships.

I accept the need for genres. It gives the book an anchor, a starting point from which to grow. When I started to write ‘The Girl From Out of Town’ I said to myself that I wanted to write a steampunk novel. And while I stuck to some conventions- the mechanical golems are powered by steam, there are sky ships which also have steam engines to power jets, the story which grew naturally, had dragons in it. It had magic in it. It was set in my own created world. It had dimensional travel and demons in it. And yet I still consider it steampunk, although now I may be leaning towards magitech.

But Steampunk works for now. People can search for it and go from there. It is a good STORY, which is what it should be first and foremost.

Interview with Cover Artist & Graphic Designer- Scarlett Rugers February 22, 2012

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You have all seen, by now, the wonderful cover for my debut book. It was designed by a friend of mine- Scarlett Rugers, from Scarlett Rugers Design. I interviewed her, briefly, and wanted to share her words with you all.

1. When you hear the word ‘Steampunk’ what comes to mind?

Cogs and wheels and goggles. I have a love-hate relationship. It’s such a beautiful genre, and yet so easily pigeon-holed. Having said that I haven’t exposed myself to a lot of Steampunk literature so maybe I should to see how far and wide the genre spreads. I hope it’s a field that continues to evolve.

2. How did this impression of ‘Steampunk’, which you have, influence the cover design of my book?

I wanted to try something new that still gave the sense of Steampunk without the ‘cogs, wheels and goggles’. To get out of that stereotype without shedding its identity. I resourced things like typography, use of colour, atmosphere and textures to try and bring it together.

3. What was the process involved in this cover? In other covers you have designed?

If you have a book- I want to read it. The whole reason I’m in this field is to interpret to the best of my abilities the most wonderful cover for your story. To give a whisper of what it’s about but still keep it a secret until the first pages. While I’m reading you’re filling out my questionnaire which tells me what you want for your cover!

After reading it I brainstorm. I get familiar with the styles of other books/designs in the same genre. I look at the standards and the covers that have broken all the rules. I gather ideas and pick the best ones and pitch them to you. When you find out which works best for you the next step is resourcing images (if necessary), or fonts. Bringing it all together digitally and then sending it to you for your feedback.

It’s a bit of back and forthing to get the cover just right. If you’ve decided to go with a front and back for the book then we move on to the blurb (which you provide me) and any other bio info etc. After that it’s all up to you to publish it!

4. What is it about you and your cover designs which can set you apart from the rest, and would be a great advantage to other authors out there? 

You’re a writer, I’m a writer. That’s the first difference. I’ve been writing over fifteen years now and designing for six which gives me that insight in to what the author really wants. I can draw from the writer’s perspective and unite it with a designer’s eye.

Secondly I’m passionate. I have a deep love for book design and take great pride in my work. I feel my work speaks for itself and looks professional; the feedback I’ve received is that it’s the quality you would see in a book store and I think that makes all the difference. The quality of the work produced and the intimate details that I go through with my clients to ensure they get exactly what they want.

5. Do you have a favourite genre you like to design covers for?

I’d have to say no because each book has its own personality. Each story is a new discovery, a new adventure. I love trying new things so when my clients give me the opportunity and flexibility to try out different concepts it really excites me! I approach each book individually and recognise it for its strengths, and uniqueness.

6. For an aspiring indie author, what else can you offer them besides a book cover?

Encouragement! I know what it’s like to be hesitant to approach someone to ask for work, and you don’t really know what to expect. It ads a level of anxiety that isn’t needed at all. I’m very patient and open, and I don’t expect you to know how it all works. I know you’ve worked hard to come this far and I’m here to support you and give you that last leg up before the final leap in to publishing.

Product wise? I offer additions like Facebook Banners and website banners to promote your book. It’s always nice to be able to spread the word of the good news- you’re now published! Separate to book covers I design websites, business cards, stationary, brochures, posters, or anything else you need designed.

7. Do you have some favourite book covers out there? DO have a favourite book cover artist?

One of my favourite covers was the editions of Stephen King’s The Dome. There is one edition that has profile images of particular characters looking up. I also love the mainstream cover of the huge dome and the plane crashing in to it over the town.

http://thewitcontinuum.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/stephen-king-under-the-dome.jpg

http://www.fixabook.com/wp-content/gallery/covers/under-the-dome.png

I also absolutely love the series of books designed for Vladimir Nabokov, designed like glass boxes:

http://bookcoverarchive.com/Vladimir_Nabokov

As for designers there aren’t any specific book cover artists that I adore. It’s more a great use of typography is something that attracts me, or beautiful photography. I’m totally addicted to http://bookcoverarchive.com!

9. Where can people find you to enlist your services?

Scarlett Rugers (writing as Scarlett Archer) has just released a book 1001 First Lines which is now available at Amazon! You can purchase a paperback, .lit, .epub, .mobi and PDF versions here: http://www.1001firstlines.wordpress.com.

She has been writing for over fifteen years, completed over eleven novels, and her main drive is in speculative fiction or its contrasting opposite romantic comedic novels. She has a passion for studying the art of story telling and is a grand lover of movies. Her focus in work is book cover designs which enables her to put all her energy in to the area she loves most- literature. You can get in touch with her about getting a book cover designed for you at http://www.booksat.scarlettrugers.com

Novel Cover Art released! January 27, 2012

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I had an exciting week this week. I am finding the re-write to be less and less challenging, and I received the cover art for my novel!

Re-writing the novel is a grind, I will not say otherwise. The bliss of first draft creation is replaced with going over the same creative path as before, and honestly, it is not as much fun. But then again, I am writing with much more awareness of what I am trying to achieve. I’ve re-written novels of mine before, but not with as much focus as this. I am aware of the language foibles of my male lead, I am shifting the motivations of my female lead; the Prince is more mysterious and does not waltz into the apartment to share dinner with them. It feels like a more mature novel, to me. One of my beta-readers said to me- it feels like a Nanowrimo novel. Now, to me, it is feeling more like a real novel, rather than a Nanowrimo novel. I never really knew the difference until now.

The Sci-fi novel I had assessed and deconstructed started to feel that way, but there was very little major reconstruction. I had managed to hit all the good points solidly enough on the first pass through that I was just rearranging and polishing. This, my current work, feels like I have taken a good story in a comfy tracksuit, and changed it into a good story in trousers shirt and waist coat. Top hat and goggles optional.

I am currently most of the way through chapter 4 on my re-write. Chapter 5 looms as the big challenge. It is the end of Act 1 and a lot happens. I am shifting locations, so the party is no longer at the Royal Palace it is now at my male lead’s work, which is the den of all that is evil in the world. I may have embellished that slightly. It just put a lot more pressure on the action, a lot more danger on the characters, a lot more opportunities on me as a writer to fkshtup. I should have it done by next week. That gives me a week to get a quite read through and line editing and then change it into Smashwords and up for the world to see! Now, that is going to be scary.

Another thing I have noticed this week is my itch to be writing when I am going somewhere. I had to go out a few times, and each time I did I was thinking to myself- no, I have to be writing. I am onto a good thing, I have to get my characters to this point. My whole weekend this weekend is taken from me by a basketball tournament. If I am not too tired by Sunday night I will try to get some writing done then. But I am little flustered to think- I wont be writing this weekend?

This is a good thing. To know that I am craving the need to write, for me, is a good thing. I want to feed this craving. It is a feeling I need to have for the rest of my life.

And now on to pretty things. I have employed the fantastic services of Scarlett Rugers Design for my novel covers. Now I was attracted to her thanks to her 15 covers for $15 promotion, but I have seen her work and was eager to use her anyway. She presented me with the cover :

And she has given me some online banner ads for Facebook and forums :

These have excited me and I am now under pressure to produce a novel worthy of these covers!

Creeping Closer To November. October 18, 2011

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Traditionally, for me, October is the month of plotting and planning. It is where I flesh out the characters, the situations, the plots and locations for my November Novel through the National Novel Writing Month.

I am a little bit behind schedule, but I dont mind. I have a meta plot, starting here, going through these locations here, and ending there. It needs some refining, not so much, as I do enjoy the wriggle room while I write, but sure, a little refining.

I have created some characters. I surfed the web for pirate crews and shipping manifests, and created my air ship crew. Still don’t have a name for my Captain yet. But that will come. I started creating the Cabal which controls the evil organisation and I started creating the Royal Family.

What I have discovered is, that while plotting and planning, more ideas have sprung forth. So, Royal Family. I decided that politically, my land will be under the rule of Royalty. This gives me the chance to have a Royal Navy, Royal Army, knights and fiefdoms and political intrigue and marrying for favour. I have thought that one of the young members of the Corporate Cabal might be wooing a young Princess with hopes of combining his industrial might with Royalty, to be the ultimate ruler! (That needed an echo effect)

I have also thought of introducing a Royal Spy Service, run by the youngest Prince. See? Ideas just grow just by having a King and  Queen and their children.

And the Cabal? Five people, or rather four people plus a special member, each with their own school of magic, which fits into my world. So I have now defined the magic I am going to use, and how common some are, how some people think Divination is just tea leaves and entrails,card tricks and flashing lights; Sorcery is alien and evil; Sigil Magic is ‘just writing’. Hmm..I’ve heard that argument before, about professional writing; about copywriting. I guess I can ‘write from experience’ there . . .

I still don’t have a map. I sort of do, started drawing one in pencil. But I found some great ones online, so I will be ‘referencing’ them instead 🙂 I know locations. The city is a location, not named yet, but its a location. It is built in the floor of a massive crater, and the smaller crater just to the west is where the well-to-do people live. And there is a smaller chain of craters heading west. There is a Monument Valley style environment, and a frontier mining town, and mountains with snow on them. I need some sort of reference material, since wind directions and weather patterns become important in my story. I still have 2 weeks…

The big thing is, I don’t have a title for my novel yet. I have no idea what to call it! I know it can have a working title, but I don’t even have that.

So, what I have left to do is- finish up on the characters, what they look like, who they are, what their names are. Come up with some ship names, place names and street names. Think of some business which would be around in my world, such as Cartography and Map shops. I saw on the other day and thought- with a wild frontier, this type of service would be invaluable! A novel title. Should be a piece of cake.

And so it begins…. June 22, 2011

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I have heard many people bag Babylon 5 as a TV show. But I liked it…

Tonight was the first webinar/coaching call for my Copywriting Dream Team. This is going to be 12 months of coaching, homework, assignments, growing, learning and doing. I will be setting goals, agreeing to contracts, telling people I am going to do something, and then doing them because I told someone I was going to do them.

I am looking forward to this. I believe it is a positive step forward, it is me taking some control in my writing life and making it happen. When I say take control of my writing life, I do have control of my writing, but I mean more of the writing life which pays the bills.

I do write, and my writing life currently involves heated boardroom discussions on a hollowed out moon which is a Corporate Headquarters for the Evil Corporation; mapping lands and designing flying dirigibles and the anatomy of dragons; editing a novella for publication; writing witty repartee on facebook. oh ha ha ha ….

No, the writing life i want more control over is the paid variety. I want more copy writing. I know I am good at it, I just want more of it. I want to have more control of what I can write while at work. Currently it is a lot of- if you have further queries….

Being the first call there were things to set up and establish, things to admit to yourself, and to the group. The #1 thing I said I wanted to gain from this group, this year, from the coaching was to feel legitimate, to gain confidence in meeting people and clients, and writing to the strict guidelines of what a client wants, but to stretch my creative brain while doing this.

I think this is one thing I truly love about copy writing, that you can be creative, and have to be creative, but you are given strict guidelines, usually, in which to work. Your wild and crazy imagination is given a focus, is given direction. I think this is what I need. I know my mind can go in crazy places. Just the other day a fellow employee me told me he always enjoyed the strange places my train of thought took me. Last week it took me to stops including what parts of a dragon’s body would be useful.

So finding some rails to guide this crazy train of thought I actually find very productive, an efficient use of my energy if you will. The excess energy could power a light bulb 🙂

So, my homework for now is to buy a hard cover A4 note book for the Dream Team. This is going to be tricky. I am a stationary geek. Do you know how many AWESOME hard cover a4 books there are out there? Oh no! Matt, why did you not do your homework this month? I couldnt afford ALL THE BOOK! … tee hee

In this book I am going to write my goals, write down how much the course is costing me and then tick off each job I complete and then pay off my course.

There is some reading involved, some chapters from the copy writing manual sitting on the shelf over there, and to think of 2 good questions for next time.

Wow, what questions to ask….