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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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Lightning in a bottle February 5, 2013

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When I am inspired to write, by gum I am inspired to write. I am into dreaming, remembering my dreams and interpreting them from time to time. I love dreams, and hate them too. Last week I had a night terror about a gang of kids trying to kill me in a gym locker room. I ripped myself out of that dream and refused to go back to sleep because I knew I would go back into the same place and get beat on. It is also in my dreams that I get to hang out with my best friend, who passed away a little over 4 years ago. And yes, we were hanging out on Sunday night. He was drunk trying to get me into a night club, but because my clothes weren’t right, I was not allowed in.

But that is not what I was talking about. Both on Saturday night and Sunday night I had epic dreams. One involved being immortal, buried alive and then chasing the guy who tried to murder me 5000 years into the future, traveling at the speed of light to other planets and such. And the other dream was an alien invasion, survivalist, time-traveling dream. Both were awesome.

On Sunday morning I came to my computer and wrote my dream down. In 10 minutes I had 1500 words written down.

On Monday morning, same thing, I transcribed my dream down. Again, 10 minutes, 1200 words.

I am blown away by being able to crack out 1500 words in 10 minutes!

And then I look at my novelling, and how it crawls along at sometimes 2000 words a day. I have written for three days straight, but the impetus of the novel has totally dropped off. I think I need to spend a day doing nothing but novelling, away from the internet. Or, get the work writing done in the morning, and then take the afternoon off. See if I can repeat those epic stats of 1500 words in ten minutes. 9000 words in an hour? Damn.

I know I have had moments of inspiration where I have written LOTS. I would love to be able to bottle those moments, or some how put myself into those moments. Perhaps there is.

Or, perhaps those moments of inspiration are for dream recall, poetry and short stories, and I should keep the novelling as though I am running a marathon.

 

Food for thought. Olympics+Day+9+-+Athletics

How to conquer self-doubt October 6, 2012

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This article appeared in my content feed today:

how-to-conquer-self-doubt-and-just-write It is a guest post by CC Hunter. It has 5 points which make sense, and of which I would like to comment. Now, I have seen many other ways to conquer self doubt, and gosh knows I have it in spades. I am a professional writer now. Before when I was a wage-earner, and wrote nanowrimo novels only, if I wrote something bad, and no one liked it, that was okay. Hurtful, but okay. Now, I worry that if someone doesn’t like my work, I won’t get them again as a client, and it will cost me money, hurt my professional reputation, and a bad word will be spread about me. Self doubt? Oh hell yes.

So, let me look at these 5 tips.

1. Be Aware or Peer Pressure.

“…If you’re hanging out with negative people, people who have lost their ability to chase their dreams, you’re at risk of becoming just like them..”

Now, while I witness this in other people, other writers, I can say that, surrounding me, are remarkably positive people. I have friends around me who cheered loudly when I chose to become a freelance writer, as if- yes this is what you are SUPPOSED to be doing. I had so many people cheer me on when I self-published my book as if- yes, this is what you are SUPPOSED to be doing!

I have professional mentors backing me up, wanting me to succeed, helping me along the way. I have people who are testing the waters with me, using my services on small jobs. I have been called- ‘enthusiastic’ which, I frown at and think- compliment? But then, enthusiasm is better than professional complacency, I figure.

I am surrounded by people who support me, encourage me, smack me over the back of the head when I doubt myself, tell me that i am skilled, and talented, and not just to massage my ego. I am thankful to all of them, and I have told them, I think. If not, hi. Thanks peeps 🙂

2. Ward off the message that you don’t know what you’re doing by continually growing at a writer.

I said when I started my professional career that I have known the craft of writing for many many years, but now I am learning the BUSINESS of writing. I can see in myself that, jobs I had at the start of the year, if given the chance to do them now, I would do a better job. I am lucky in that I have the chance to grow my writing career inside the comfort zone of a business networking group, rather than throw myself on the knives of pure capitalism where, if you’re learning, you wont get much repeat business.

But, I do grow as a writer. I do not think anyone will ever be fully developed as a person, as a creator, as a dynamic being. You always have something to learn, some way of growing. I am willing o learn, willing to grow, willing to listen to people when they say- I’d like you to say this, or this, with your writing.

3. Mentor someone else

I don’t know if I am specifically mentoring one person, but I do put on the elder hat when I am in the Nanowrimo forums. I am not the oldest person participating in my region, but I am the longest serving Melbourne member. I offer writing and creative advice, ask questions and the like. I find myself answering questions about how to plot or plan, by showing how I do it, my “railway line” technique. reassuring people when they overly complicate things. I speak with a voice of authority and experience because, while I may have only published this year, I have successfully written 9 novels prior to that.

And when it comes to professional work, I seem to be taking on the role of a mentor. I have been having a conversation about how to quote for a job, how to be strong enough in yourself to quote what you’re worth, and not what you think someone will pay if you beg them because you REALLY need the money. In this example, I found a website which displayed editing rates of academic writing. I figured out a rate for a client, and dropped $20 off it. That way, if the client questioned why so much, I can show them what the market is charging, and how I am cheaper than the market because i want their business. I passed this knowledge onto a friend of mine who wants to be a freelance editor and writer, but is still too afraid to boldly charge higher due to self worth. I figure, if you have the social proof of a price, and can beat it, then that’s one very good step forward.

I want to help others. I have so many people helping me, I want to pass it forward.

4. Be leery of ruts.

I have these. I get in a funk and can’t write. I get them when writing supporting documentation for myself, the kind of writing which might not lead anywhere but I have to do them anyway. The suggestion is you should write something else, another genre, another form. Go write by hand, perhaps read something. But me, I sometimes feel- if I am not writing, I am not working, and I need to work to get paid, but not all the writing I am doing is paid work  etc etc etc. See where that leads?
5. Accept that sometimes you are going to fail.

This is a hard one to accept. With the economic situation, failing really isn’t a great option. I fail, then it gets tough. However, to learn, you need to fail. You find out what didn’t work, so you can make it work next time. It is how you accept failure as well, which makes you strong. Accept responsibility, if you can, and then control how YOU will not fail the next time.

When you talk about self-doubt, failure is the strongest poison there is. Doubting yourself to begin with, and then failing? It is a real bad mix. And you need to be willing to listen to, and believe, when your friends, your mentors, people who truly care about you and your work, tell you that you are good enough, that you are not a complete failure. They sometimes know more than you do.

These are only 5 suggestions and 5 items of self doubt. There are more, I know. But it is good to start with a small number, conquer those, and then work on the bigger picture.

 

The Month of Plotting and Planning- 2012 October 3, 2012

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October has arrived, and in my world, this makes it the month of Plotting and Planning. The month I spend preparing myself to jump back into next month, National Novel Writing Month.

This years planning involves plotting 3 story arcs. The Cornwallis has headed out of the Realm and headed south into the desert lands, where slavers rule the markets and nomads ride on magnificent prehistoric beasts. Meanwhile Navarr and Mizzell are living in in The Glade, with Mizzell’s great grandmother. How did she get from her world to ours, I wonder….

And in the big city, the Cabal who control Lenzell and Associates are licking their wounds- they lose their hunting party right before they need them the most; Mizzell has escaped their grasp and they are on the verge of civil war with the Royal Family. Luckily for them they have new technology and a new line of Golems to bring to market. But where is this new technology coming from?

So, I have 1 out of those 3 story lines pretty much plotted. So I will work on the other 2.

And I am drawing a map. I drew one last time, for personal references. After talking to other people, they felt, and so did I, that I didn’t need a map. The story can take you through the world without having to plot it on some hand-sketched map stuck at the front of the book.

I am also trawling the internet for imagery, pictures of places, characters, vehicles, things, guys riding giant lizards, all of which will inspire me and make me remember what characters look like.

I need to finish off some formalised work before the end of October, so I can have some paid work to coincide with my novelling.

I enjoy November. I think I enjoy November in the same ways that I enjoy Thursdays. I Thursdays because at the end of the day I knew the next day would be casual friday where, even though I was working, it was casual, I could wear jeans and people seemed more relaxed and playful. So, Thursday was the day before the relaxed day before the weekend.

November feels like that. December you tend to switch off and relax in the summer sun- parties galore. But November is a month leading up to it. Its building in its playfulness, but is still work related. I don’t know if that explanation was very clear, but it made sense to me.

I think getting more into the creative writing might just get me into here more. I should be more disciplined.

A baker’s dozen June 18, 2012

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I have been counting down to the end of June. At the moment, it is 13 days until July. I have been doing this through the profile picture on Facebook. So far, only 4 people have asked me what it is I am doing. I might have to make it more obvious.

So, 13 days until I launch my book. Is it finished? Gosh no. I will read it in the coming months and years and think- wow, if only I added that. Perhaps I needed to add a scene with a city square so I can include it later. Oh, wouldn’t it have been awesome if I had thought of that…  And it is not finished in the sense that I am just going through the final editing notes. When your editor suggests you write MORE because she wants to see MORE description, well, who doesn’t like to write more? I have this world lavishly coloured in my imagination, and now I get to dip the paint brush back into my mind and dab it on the page again? I just might do that, thank you very much!

So, with the creative side of the book coming to an end, sadly, I am now shifting to the marketing and selling of the book, which is fun in a different kind of way? How do I represent it on the web? How do I get the message out? How do I get the message to lots of people? Where do I sell my book and what do I need to sell my book? So, I am getting the talented  to help build a landing page for my book which ties in thematically with the feel and look of the book as it is now. It will be hosted on my website and then direct you to where the book can be sold. I am also thinking of getting other marketing material from her, but we will see how far the coin stretches.

I am also re-launching myself as a professional writer. I am re-branding myself. While I am, indeed, Matthew Farmer, Copy Writer, I am much more. I have edited and helped re-write a website or two, I have audited a website from a content point of view. I have written a tender document, helped with presentations and report writing, which is much more than ‘just’ copy writing. So I am re-branding myself to reflect this. I am hoping to do this on the 1st of July as well.

BIG DAY, huh?

There will, of course, be related marketing surrounding that, with new business cards, a new-look website and such; promotional and thank you gifts, of which I have been given some great ideas. But, as you know, marketing costs money, but you have to spend money to make money. Well, we will see.

It has been such a busy month, with just under half of it to go. I am going to be full of nervous energy in the coming weeks, and during July it is going to be crazy!

I like this kind of crazy.

No 1 on my to do list- complete all of my to do list. June 3, 2012

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I am terrible at to do lists. I am great at making them, but then ticking all of the boxes? Not so good. Number 2 on my to do list is finish editing my book. I’ve now got the detailed editing notes for Act 3, and I am going through it. Some macro stuff to come, with a bit of re-writing (being told you need to write more descriptions? I like that kind of advise…) So, I will get this book finished and ready to launch. Yes I will. I think I have tried twice to get it to launch and STUFF has happened. Paid work demanding my time, preventing me from doing editing work. Computer issues, sickness, gobbledocks . It is annoying me, I will admit. I WANT to get this thing out there, but I don’t want to get something out which is flawed.

But then, as a writer, you are always thinking of ways to improve what you have, make it better, just add a little bit more. So, once the micro and macro is done, and a few other dot points on my list is done, the book will be released unto the world!

Alongside the novel, I am also re-branding myself. In a discussion earlier this year with a breakfast group I am a part of, I talked about the concept of me as a writer, as a business, as a product. While I am a writer, I am THE writer, advice from others is to brand myself something larger, so I have room to move and grow. A lot of thought and imagination has gone into this, and I am in the process of doing so.

Re-branding is not just a case of- think of funky name get a logo and WaheY! I have used 2 sample groups to test out names, a graphic designer helped with logo concepts. I am now going to re-do some of my website to match the band, new business cards, all of that.

And then there is my newsletter I am slowly putting together. Yes, I am going to launch a newsletter. It will be all about writing. I can hear a few claps in the audience, but not much else. But writing is so much, there is so much of it in the world that sometimes even I forget that SOMEONE had to write that. Even the spam messages I get for my blog, somewhere, someone had to write that. So, I want to highlight my writing, but I also want to show what other forms of writing is out there, news about the industry, movements and opinions about writery stuff.

But, all in good time.

Right now, the next thing on my to-do list is some shopping and some lunch.

The Editing Calm before the Published Storm May 21, 2012

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I have been a tad remiss in blogging. My apologies. Hectic week. They say freelance work is either famine or feast. I had one of those weeks of feast last week. It has calmed down a bit, and this upcoming week looks only slightly full.

I am into the last bit of editing my novel. Again, there have been delays getting the editing done. Technology, DARN YOU! But I have most of the notes back now. The editor gave me line edits, she read through the book, finding words to change, punctuation and grammar errors. I was amazed! She read it that closely? I thought this because I have read it so many times it is just a blur. I know when I read other people’s works for editing I read it as close. I was just, kind of excited that someone read my whole book, THAT closely. AND liked it! 🙂 I like that.

So, yes, the book has come to a crawl while I go through the editing. But when it comes out the other side, it will read so well!

And then you can read about it here –> . There is going to be a week in July – 2nd through to the 8th, where each day an indie author is going to be featured. Because I love Thursdays, I will be featured on Thursday, July 5th. There will be copies of my book to give away, and an interview with me!

A big thanks to Sarah Billington

and Clair Frith

for this opportunity.

I said a couple of blog posts back that I would share some pages, blogs, which I have found interesting and worth while. So, here is some links for y’all:

Rachelle Gardner’s 7 Bad Habits of Successful Writers. In a nutshell? Sort of yes, yes, not yet but possibly yes, not yet but hopefully no, yes, yes, yes and yes.

The Guardian has 10 Rules for Writing Fiction. I don’t like rules for writing fiction. Guidelines, sure, advice, certainly, but rules? You show me one rule for writing and I will show you a famous author who broke it. I like Neil Gaiman’s first rule of writing- Write. (Okay, my last comment, I cannot find you a famous author who has broken that rule)

And I was going to link The Write Scene? But apparently my internet cannot find their internet. So I will leave you with those 2 sites.

Enjoy!

The Act of Method Writing May 3, 2012

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You have all heard of method acting. If an actor needs to portray an emotion in a scene, and they need to sell the emotion, make it believable, then that actor remembers a time when they felt that particular emotion. They put themselves into that head space, relive that emotion as vividly as they can, and then bring it out into their performance.

The same method can and should be used when writing. Sure, I don’t know what it is like to be in a sword fight, battle dragons or fly a spaceship, but those things are decorations hung upon the characters; shiny baubles that a character who has invested emotions, uses to complete, stuff. Awesome spaceships and sword fights are not what should grab the reader by the mind and heart and hook them into your world. Unless that space ship is the Millenium Falcon, and the sword fight is from The Princess Bride.

While no story is original any more, and if you break every story and movie down you can get to the seven basic plots, or 36 dramatic situations, or look at them from a mono-myth point of view, it is invariably the characters who keep you wanting more. I wanted to be Indiana Jones, he was so cool, suave and didn’t take not s…tuff from sword wielding bad guys. I wanted to be as hard-core as the Colonial Marines from the movie Aliens, or the nobody who done good, like Luke Skywalker, Alex Rogan or Tristan Thorn.

And in the same way, a part of me wants to be the characters in my books which I write. I invest a part of me into making the characters someone who I might want to be, so they feel more than just a cut out waiting for the token good guy or bad guy to put them down. I know some psychologist could have a field day with that admission, but I am quite sure that all the successful writers, and all of us who are not (yet) successful, and who write for the love of writing, we create worlds and characters whom we would want to be, where we would like to live and have adventures.

So then, it is the next step to give the characters and worlds you have created, that extra part of you. If you want to put the character into a situation and have it carry weight, emotional investment, if you want the reader to care as much as you, then you really do need to rip that heart off your sleeve and put it on the page for a moment.

There have been times when I have written that I am teary eyed afterwards. In my science fiction series, yet to be published, there is a scene where I kill off two characters. I do it in suitably spectacular fashion by having them trapped in a space station which crashes to the planet below, but the scene takes place inside, with just the two of them, together.

The two characters are, of course, in love. He is an ex-history professor from a prominent university. (He is named after my best friend, a little tribute I gave to to my friend, since he complained he would never be in a book or film). And she was an old student of his, now a notorious space pirate and wanted in more systems than she has fingers on her hands. But for that scene, I had her say things to him, which I never actually got to say to my friend. My friend tragically passed away, well before his time was due, suddenly and without warning. I took myself back and thought- what would I have said to him, if I had known? And so, I put that into that scene. Polished and edited, of course, but, not by much. It was the first time, I believe, that I had ever done that. Ever remembered an emotion, a time when I was in that space, and put the words onto a page. There is, of course, many things you never do get to say to someone before they pass, but in some way, I got to say a few of them in a book, which was nice.

Not many people have read that scene, and that is a deliberate thing, since it was hard for me to write. But those that have, commented to me that they too, felt the loss of the character. It stands as one of the best things I have written.

Last night I finished re-writing my novel. I made the final scene raw and emotional, people dying, fighting, surviving. It was a real head spin to write. I deliberately stayed up late, deliberately was over tired, and sick with flu, but it got me into that head space. And, it was easier this time around than last time. I could put myself into the space of someone deeply in love, someone losing a friend, someone afraid of death. All of those emotions, in the one scene. Of course, knowing I went there while writing, I hope that when it is read the reader feels the same. I hope the reader can feel the love between the two main characters. I hope they feel the loss, the fear. If they do, then that is a win for me.

I am 10 novels into my writing career, and I am just learning to not be afraid of method writing. I am learning to have the courage of putting more and more of me on to the page. It is a scary things, but I do encourage people out there to not only imagine, not only create, but to feel, when you write.

Act 2 re-written and being reviewed March 10, 2012

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I has been a full-on week for me. Novel work, copy writing work, an education about what happens when a client isn’t happy. All good stuff really.

I finished Act 2 re-write this week. It felt more like a first draft, maybe version 1.2, rather than a full version 2.0. Some tweaks to the plot and story in Act 1 flowed through to Act 2. My main characters (Oh! I can name them now! You all have downloaded Act 1, so you know who I am talking about!), Navarr and Mizzell no longer pay their way on board and are chummy with everyone. As you know ;), they fell on to the ship, well, you don’t know that, but hey, it isn’t such a huge spoiler. So, they are not automatically chummy with the crew. But, through their actions, particularly Navarr, they become friends with a few of them.

This is important since it is Navarr’s journey I need to focus on. It is his development as a character, going from meek little office boy to a man of the world, with a woman! Just a little bit of cheese cake there.

Another piece of advice I followed was not introducing so many characters. I know who all the weird and wonderful characters are, I invented them, I found imagery to best represent them, I wrote down some details for them, all for me. So I know them all. But as a reader, another name can over load the brain. Hard to keep track of the main story elements if you need to remember all those names. I know that when I read epic fantasies, such as Feist’s Magician, and the Game of Thrones, having to reference that glossary of names at the back, takes me OUT of the story.

So it was good to get Act 2 in the bag, for a brief while at least. I will get it back in a week with ‘suggestions’, I know it. It also gives me a good idea on the time line. I might have to push the full release date back a bit, but this is okay. I have a plan and there is a time critical element that I cannot control. And yes, I am being very vague here. 🙂

The Creative Penn released a blog post back on the 4th of March- The 7 Worst Mistakes of Indie Authors and How to Fix Them. I am keeping a keen eye on anything which talks about indie authors of late. A friend of mine, Catherine Gracey, blogged about how our friend Scarlett and myself, have been inspiring her on her journey of being an author – blog poster here. It is fantastic to know I am inspiring a fellow writer to rethink her journey. I am finding that is it a very supportive group of people I am getting involved with. Catherine and Scarlett are there to bounce ideas off, and to edit. I throw thoughts at Sarah Billington who is much farther down this indie publishing route than all of us, and yet is quite open and friendly for chats. I throw shout outs to these people where I can, and in return they share the love back. It is great.

So, back to the Creative Penn. They say it is best to learn from the mistakes of others, so I read this article with a keen eye to my own progress. I will address all seven items in this list for you all.

1. Know myself? What am I doing? Why am I doing this? I consider writing to be my best talent. It is what I am best at. Now, I can be great at customer service or communication or knowing the rules of basketball and blowing my whistle, but writing is something I enjoy and something I am good at. It is why after so many years I have leapt before I looked into the world of freelance copy writing. It is also why I am self-publishing a novel. I have said for a long time that I wanted to be a published author. I have said for a long time that – I will just re-write this and then send it off for publication, without actually doing anything with it. Hello, I have a 5 book epic sci fi series sitting there wanting love…  So, for number 1? I am doing it, not to make money, but to get it out there. So many people want to read my work, so I want them to read it too. I am also really enjoying taking my writing seriously. Marketing myself, getting an ISBN, a cover artist, real editing from friends. I can make some pocket money off it, sure, but the whole process is fun and exciting for me.

2. Being a writer, being involved with NANOWRIMO, I know professional editors. And, I have asked that they don’t be nice to me because we’re friends. I have even offered payment. Of course there have been ‘mates rates’, but it is legitimate. It feels good to say- I had a meeting with my editor today. It is also good to get a fresh set of eyes on the manuscript.

3. As I have shown you all in earlier blogs, Scarlett Rugers designs has done a fantastic job in designing my book cover and additional web banner advertising. Another sign I am taking this seriously. I could have scoured free photo sites and mocked something up, but I doubt I could have achieved anything like what Scarlett has.

4. This is why I am only doing e-publishing first off. It is cheaper for me and I don’t have to have a pile of books in storage waiting for sales. I would love to have books, in hand, which I could sell and sign and give to people. It is something I will consider, but yes, did not chose the print then sell path purely for this reason.

5. The cover design was part of a Nanowrimo promotion. Smashwords is free, the editing I can pay for in chocolate. I am definitely all over number 5.

6. My marketing for the free Act 1 release included emailing my friends, flooding facebook, to my friends and asking them to tell their friends. Posting on my blog and twitter, and again, getting my friends to re-tweet. A web banner on the bottom of my email and sticking the web banners wherever I could. Very little marketing for the free download.

7. Well, I am focused on this one book, currently, because it is the current book I am writing. I already have book titles for the other two books in the series, and I have a vague story arc, so there will be a trilogy. Hoping 2nd book in the same year, but possibly 1 book a year. It depends how much I can cram into my life and earn money.

And now I would like to leave you with a quote from a friend who read my book. I like it. It is honest and positive and amusing:

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 😉

The end of another writing year…. obligatory review! Part 2 December 20, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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Wow. I was going to write just one post for my writing year in review. Seems this has been a bigger year than I thought and I need to split it into two! This is, of course, a very good thing.

So, my creative year. It began with me writing and finishing my epic sci-fi series, the final book – Crashing Wave. Without the madness of Nanowrimo, it was actually a struggle to complete this. Looking back I have come to realise that what happens in your every day life, your 9 – 5, can affect how you write creatively. I have learned that it is the first 5 minutes of writing which is the hardest to achieve. Once you break through that 5 minutes, then you have the momentum to continue. I have learned that once you hit 20 minutes you tend to lose that momentum, unless you get totally focused.

As such, it was a huge struggle for me to get the last bit of the series completed. Compared to Nanowrimo this year where I completed a 94k word novel in 30 days, it took me almost 5 months to write 15k words to complete the novel. However, I now know what drives me to write, what I need to do to make myself write, and I am quite sure that in the new year I will write more than 1 novel during the year. Especially if the popularity and sales motivate me. But more on that later.

To motivate me I had a friend create a book cover for the first novel in the series – Bow Shock. You can find the cover here – Scarlet Rugers. It is in the Book Covers section of the website. When it comes to cover art, for me, I like minimalist designs. I don’t like having characters on the cover, or would prefer not to have them. Rather than the reader imagine their own image for the characters it is telling them- this is what they look like. It ties up some of the imagination which could be better used in reading the story. You have to remember the book cover whenever those characters are in scene because the cover has told you what they look like.

When I was writing the books, on the Nanowrimo site, you were allowed to have banners in your profile advertising your books. Mine were incredibly simple, just a planet, a star field, and a line showing movement. I believe Scarlett has taken that simple idea and enhanced it in a very clean way. It was fun working with her as well, she would get excited, show me an idea and before I had said anything she would say- wait! What about this?! I like those people who are passionate about what they do.

During the middle of the year I stopped writing creatively. Work stress, life stress, and a want to concentrate on getting my copy writing business precedent. Sad, I know. I did have the seeds for a novel idea in my mind, don’t worry about that. a Magic Steampunk adventure! However I was waiting until November to write it. I know in myself that I need that surge of novelling energy to get me going.

And so, October rolled around, my month of plotting and planning. I started doing the 30 days of world building, but stopped. I already had a plot, and a direction. The exercises did help me out, I will admit. Thinking of weather as a driving force for plot was good. Trade winds would determine the best routes for sky ships to sail. And they would change with every season. The geography of the world would affect the winds as well, so I needed a map. And rather than just having mountains here and there, think about how they are made. The Himalayan mountains are created by continental plates colliding, so, when looking at my map, and mountain ranges, I imagined them to be the edges of plates, which helped sculpt the coast line etc. So these new ways of thinking about world building and how the land would interact with my plot was great. However, there were things left out, things I didn’t consider, due to not being relevant to my story.

I knew what the political situation would be- Royal Family. I have not yet decided on a religion for my world, however there re druids and people with certain elemental aspects in their system. So it may lean towards a pagan pantheon. But then, it might clash with the different schools of magic. It might clash with the idea of people from another realm. It was a very tricky decision, so in the end I chose not to have religion and spirituality that major in my story. And I don’t believe it has harmed the story at all.

So, November. Nanowrimo. Writing a novel, while also trying to be a professional copy writer. I had a GREAT day during November. I spent a day creating the first BNI newsletter AND I wrote 5000 + words of my novel. This day showed me that I can focus and be focussed. It showed that both of my writing loves can live side by side. I can write novels, and copy write, all at the same time. This bodes so incredibly well for my future.

During Nanowrimo I updated my Facebook paged daily with word counts and an exciting commentary on what my characters had been doing. This generated a LOT of response from people, a lot of excitement, and a lot of requests to read the story. So I came to a decisions. Currently I have 4 beta readers going through my work and should be giving me feedback by early January. T hen I will re-write and edit, and publish the book on Smashwords come Valentine’s Day. Once again Scarlett is creating the cover art for me, with some web icons to help with sales.

My first published novel. Wow. This is going to be exciting. I am opening myself up to people saying- wow! To people going- it’s just the same as….  Opening myself up to people to say- this is the worst thing I have ever written. Ah well –