This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.
So, some of the predictions for 2013 state that the self-published author is going to rock the world in 2013 whereas traditional publishers are losing their grip on reality because they don’t want to change or, rather, make changes to their old ways of thinking and doing things and are thereby losing potentially brilliant authors in the process.
Narrow-mindedness is a dangerous thing, and unless one wants to grow old and die where one stands then a fresh approach is what’s needed – the strategy for writing and publishing can no longer languish in the cushy juices of yesteryear where things worked out perfectly for publishers because there was a lot of money and ereader technology was still in the birthing stage.
I don’t think I could have chosen a better time to become a serious author. Where writing is so subjective and landing an agent and/or publisher is nothing short of a miracle, becoming a self-published author has given me the freedom to create and express myself in a way I’ve always imagined it was supposed to be. The more blogs and articles I read about traditional publishing and, in some cases, the serious creative and expressive limitations placed on authors who have chosen that route, I thank my lucky stars that I never landed an agent when I went a-huntin’ in the beginning, when I was filled with happy imaginings like the mind-blowing excitement of a fat cheque arriving in the post for my book/s! Ah, the acceptance, the glory, the recognition … !
Nah!!!! Who wants that when half of the story was changed to fit the reputation and strict requirements of the publisher or edited to death to fit the style of said publisher? Who in heaven’s name wants to lose part of their soul just to earn a fat cheque? Do you?
Now, I’ve written in many blog posts how vital it is to express yourself – your true heart and spirit, and the very depth of your soul – as you sit at your computer and create your unique masterpiece. I have also made it clear that you need to continually hone your craft and that you need to keep learning how to write better, that this learning process never stops.
It is important that if you want to remain a self-published author then you must do everything within your power to ensure you become a really good one.
If we are to become serious competition for the traditionally (paid) published authors then we have to become as good as they are in our craft. This means our education must never stop and we must turn to those who have gained more experience and learn from them, get advice from them, and be willing to put aside our egos and ask for help when it’s needed.
I have learned so much from reading the works of other authors (good and bad) and I always take what will improve my writing and apply it, and I’ve learned what not to do, as well. A case in point is my tetralogy. Book 3, The Sword Bearer’s Awakening, is a much more technically mature book than Books 1 and 2. Not that the first two books are bad in any way, it’s just that with Book 3, as I now go through the editing process, I more easily identify ‘mistakes’ in phrasing or style and correct them so that the experience for the reader is a more flowing, fast-paced one and therefore a way more exciting one. I put the word ‘mistakes’ in inverted commas because they’re not really mistakes but more shifts and adjustments in the way I express the story that reads easier and makes the story and characters more emotionally engaging and thrilling. This I did not learn from a grammar book or from serious study, but from exceptionally talented writers that I admire, that write in a way I love, and whose style and technique I understand and can learn from.
The Revolution – Ask Yourself the Right Questions
I want to be one of the best self-published authors in the world!! Do you?
Who wants to join me? Who wants to become an author people hear about on the news and read about in other blogs, reviews, websites, interviews, Amazon updates and suggestion lists, Google/Wikipedia searches, Twitter posts and retweets, bestseller lists, Huffing Post/New York Times entertainment headlines, etc, etc?
Do you believe you can be such an author? Do you believe you are one already? Do you believe you have it in you to change the world … one reader at a time?
If not why not? What’s stopping you from changing the world of literature and blowing away the competition, or if you prefer a more subtle approach: What’s stopping you from joining those other self-published authors who have already rocked the writing world?
Do you pray and hope that your novel will get seen by the right people or are you actively going after those people and making them notice you? Have you investigated the best promotional and marketing strategy for your book or are you following the crowd and just doing what they’re doing? Granted, a lot of the latter works, but really only up to a point. Have you even actively pursued a marketing campaign? Are you willing to spend a little money, and if you don’t have money then have you investigated and searched for other inexpensive or free effective ways to market yourself?
Many experienced bloggers and writers have said many, many times that it takes more work to market yourself and your book than it does to actually write it. And that’s very true!
To be a self-published author you need a tough skin and you need the following characteristics: dogged determination to finish what you started; perseverance when things aren’t going as smoothly as you’d like; making time for marketing and only marketing; making time to study other authors/bloggers and learn from them; a lack of ego – that ego that blinds you to truths about your writing and makes you believe you don’t have anything more to learn(of course it is acceptable and harmless when you crow about your 5-star reviews ); a willingness to gain greater knowledge about spelling and grammar so that your book is easily and admirably comparable to a book that has been professionally edited because a publisher paid for it and not a financially challenged author; a willingness to ask for help – you are not alone; and the most important one for me: a belief in yourself that you can create magic and draw your reader into a world they will never forget.
You’ve got to proudly wave your flag on your mountaintop of faith – in your abilities, your passion, your love for storytelling, and your innate talent for creating with words. Then you’ve got to fight to stay there and put in the time and effort to make your dream come true.
Every single author I know has the same two-pronged dream: to make it to number one and to earn a living from doing what they love. But to make the dream happen we need to trust in the process. In the end, one way or the other, success is sure to come. Just remember who you are, what you can do, and that the magic is yours.
But even a magician needs to learn how to conjure!
The 2013 Revolution I want to start is this:
Let us, self-published authors, give the big publishers a run for their money! Let’s become so brilliant at our craft that we become sought after and hunted as opposed to us doing the hunting! Let’s not forgo quality for quantity, and pay attention to what’s good and excellent and as a result educate the readers and enable them to recognise excellence. Let us become creators of the highest order and not part of the mediocre masses that are only interested in churning out endless drivel.
Viva la revolucion!
Happy 2013 everyone! I hope you’ll join my revolution to be better and bigger and more capable in your craft!
Top image courtesy of bloodylery
Image of girl ‘Jaque’ courtesy of asterisc21
Last image ‘Magic’ courtesy of Gioradi
- Authors exercise their “write” to self-publish (cbsnews.com)
- Want To Self-Publish A Book? Guy Kawasaki Wants To Help (readwrite.com)
- New York Times Reviews Self-Published Book (forbes.com)
I’ve just been to see the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, and it was fantastic! The reason for my enthusiasm and excitement is that it reminded me of the first James Bond film I saw as a teenager with Roger Moore: the style, the story, the baddie and the circumstances James found himself in were all reminiscent of the ‘old’ bond movies.
Now, what I mean by the ‘old’ Bond movies is the way they made me feel about James and the way he handled himself and his dire predicaments. Personally, I’ve found the last few films a little prissy. James didn’t behave the way I expected or wanted him to; he was a little too soft around the edges, not gritty enough, not hard-assed and commanding the way I like him. In truth, he’s always been somewhat of a bastard regarding women and casual to the point of arrogance in the way he deals with his enemies. In real life I would be shocked with anyone who did what James did, but in the movies I can indulge my darker side and embrace the brutality of the hero that is 007 – he always takes care of the baddies the way I would want, and my thirst for revenge and justice matches his step by step throughout the movie.
In Skyfall the ‘old’ James Bond is back: he’s tough, he survives being shot, careening down a waterfall and nearly drowning, the usual hail of bullets, explosions, hand-to-hand fights (the fight scene on the island with the baddie, Javier Bardem, and his goons is simply spectacular!), nearly being taken out by a subway train and eaten by a giant lizard … The list goes on, and each time he’s cool, calm and collected the way I love him and expect him to be. I don’t expect James to be squishy and emotional – even with his women – and at the end of the film, when he does eventually reveal that he is capable of deep emotion, it is extremely appropriate and moving as it should be.
Throughout the film references are made to ‘the old ways’, especially concerning the gadgets, weapons, and, in one of my favourite scenes, when he goes to a storage garage and reveals an iconic car driven in at least five other Bond movies over the years, a silver Astin Martin DB5. The car still has its ejection seat and the machine guns hidden in the front bumper, and it’s a memorable moment in the film when he uses them to wipe out a bunch of bad guys. (Read here on how the car was prepared for the film). He gets given a tiny “radio” as he calls it that makes his location known to headquarters (MI6); all the technology is very low-key concerning Bond but very high-tech concerning the style of the film. They have to, after all, keep up with the times, but whereas it was always such a huge feature in past films, in Skyfall it is rather underplayed and the film focuses more on Bond himself.
But James is as I remembered him from Roger Moore’s and Sean Connery’s days: suave, sexy, dark, powerful, a killer, a lover, a little insane, and, of course, fearless – although in one line of the film he does say that (paraphrased) he knows fear in all its forms. He certainly isn’t tortured and full of angst – no sir, he’s untouchable and un-killable, the way we women like our men and the way you guys dream of being.
My point: the ‘old’ Bond always works best, and when it changed it lost its intensity and effectiveness, and, for me, its power and ability to keep me thinking about it and ‘feeling’ it long after I’d seen it. Even while writing this I still feel the excitement and wish I could be part of all the action and be as invincible as James!
I’ve read many blogs about style and how new writers struggle to find their personal style in the beginning of their careers. Some opinions I’ve agreed with and some not, but always there’s this underlying truth that always makes me relax and justify my faith in myself and my abilities.
Those of you who read my blogs regularly know that I am a great believer in writers trusting in their unique abilities and not doubting what comes to them without struggling or searching for it. Sure, we are all influenced by other authors whose works we love to read and we learn a lot from them, especially if they’ve ‘made it’. Personally, I learned from writers I admire like Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings, and even Clive Cussler, whose stories are fast-paced and gripping and the kind of books you don’t want to put down. Even though I write Epic Fantasy I never, ever waffle because I hate reading works that do, therefore part of my writing style is to keep the action moving and the excitement levels pumping constantly, and very rarely do I go into back-stories, although sometimes it’s necessary, but I keep them as short as possible because I know my reader will get bored like I do.
Again, my point is this: when you start writing for the first time – and even if you have been doing it for a while and you’ve lost the original and unique feel of your work – write the way you want to; write what comes to you without fighting with yourself, without trying to emulate someone successful that you admire. Everyone has a story to tell and only YOU can tell it YOUR way! Yes, you are going to be influenced by the authors you read, but tell the story with your own voice. Don’t use the same words and phrases they do because then you’re not being original, are you? And when your reader reads your work you don’t want them to compare you to someone else, do you? I certainly don’t want to be told that I write like Terry Brooks, but I do want to be told that my stories are as moving and memorable and exciting as his, yes!!
I often speak about the magic that comes from that place no one can explain or define whenever I sit down at my computer to write my books. I can’t tell you where my ideas come from and how scene by scene my story eventually turns into an entire book, it just does because I’ve learned to trust in what comes without questioning it or, worse, doubting it.
The trick is to be original – this I say believing that there’s nothing new under the sun – but you can write your story in a way that is completely original. Just remember, when you pour your heart and soul into something it can only be unique; no one else can emulate what you’ve created because no one thinks and feels and has the same life experiences as you, and that means you have to trust in what’s inside you, in what flows through you and turns into those magical words your readers will love. We all believe in our stories, that they are amazing tales filled with adventure and power, but to make it truly special you have to trust in your uniqueness – you have to be ORIGINAL!
That’s why Skyfall is such a fantastic film because the creators and writers and director went back to the old look and feel and character of Bond we all fell in love with – if you’re old enough to remember Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan that is Being original works! Keeping true to the style of the writer (Ian Fleming) and his vision is what made the 007 films so incredibly popular and the huge hits they were – until they (the well-intentioned filmmakers) started messing around by trying to become too ‘deep’ and contrived, trying to go with the times by being conscientious and touchy-feely! But with a character like James Bond IT DOESN’T WORK, so what makes you, dear writer, think that by changing your originality it’s going to work for you??
Stay true to yourself and believe that your own style will come with practise and as you develop and study your craft from the masters and from those authors whose works you love and admire. Never stop learning your craft, but be careful not to allow your unique style to be overpowered by anyone, even the masters!
I love hearing your opinions. Please share them with me by leaving a comment!
(Skyfall Images courtesy of Google Search)
- Product placement in pictures: Skyfall (brandsandfilms.com)
- Connery to Craig, 007 Style Mirrored Times: Peter Rainer – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
Yup, yup, yup, I did it! I beat the NaNo deadline by three days, and while the story is not yet finished I have an almost complete novel in my hands that I can publish around mid 2013 after I’ve published Book 3 in my Sword Bearers tetralogy titled The Sword Bearer’s Awakening.
Honestly, I wondered if I could put together an entire novel in one month when it took me three to five months to write the first draft of The Sword Bearers and The Sword Bearer’s Journey – for each book! As I said to one of the reviewers for my sci-fi short story, The Door, after she suggested I turn it into a novel ‘cause it had a tad too much detail for a short story, I am one for a lot of detail – not rambling, I must stress, because I don’t do that – but I like to make sure the reader doesn’t miss any vital information that, if left out, could spoil the story. When I took up the challenge to write an entire story in one month I almost gave into the little voice that kept reminding me how long it took to write my epic fantasy (I’m consistently producing one book a year)! But what excited me about NaNo was the possibility that I actually could do it. I wasn’t lacking for a fantastic idea (based on a very vivid dream I had) and I’m very good at “pantsing”, as people call it – writing off the seat of my pants. The scenes and characters always take care of themselves; without fail they are born without my conscious help and the story develops as if by magic. Yes, I had a rough outline and I knew my characters’ names and personalities, but that was all I had before starting. I knew how the story began and how it ended; the “in between” flowed from my mind through my fingers onto the screen in that process none of us writers can truly explain to a non-writer.
The result: Avalin: A Vampyric Legend, something totally unique in that I have not read similar ideas anywhere yet, and I can only hope it stays that way.
My experiment to fuse different genres actually worked – as I mentioned in my last couple of posts – and I believe I have produced a work of fiction lovers of romance, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and action will all enjoy. Of course, I will let you know when it’s ready for publication in 2013, so watch this space!!
Now that The Door is published and available on Amazon and Smashwords for you to enjoy, my focus is on The Sword Bearer’s Awakening. This is the third instalment of my Epic Fantasy and I’m thrilled to return to it after more than a month’s break. The characters are so much a part of me that I’ve missed them like I miss very close friends I haven’t visited for ages.
KC, the protagonist, and the antagonist, the arch demon Drakoor s’et, are headed for the Final Battle, a mighty confrontation prophesied about for centuries across the entire galaxy of N’varda and beyond. In this book KC, the Bearer of the Sword of Heaven, is trying to recover from a terrible loss that nearly destroys her mind and has shredded her heart, and as she struggles daily with the lust for revenge that consumes her every waking moment, she knows that her family are depending on her to protect them from the wave of devastation Drakoor s’et has unleashed on N’varda, for if she fails in her duty, if she fails to stop this great evil, then the Universe will forever be enslaved by the demon and his kind.
I hope I’ve whetted your appetite with that little peek into KC’s world. Book 3 promises to be not only about battles between worlds, with u’mans pitted against aliens and demons, but about the battle of the mind and heart, about right and wrong, about what each individual believes is happening in their world and in their heart. It’s about choices and the terrible or wonderful consequences that follow, and about the power of love, truth, trust, and the deep understanding of one’s self.
I think the most wonderful stories exist out there as a result of NaNo, and I can’t wait to read some of them. Allowing the magic to flow unfettered and unencumbered by too much thought or concern about detail and perfect grammar and spelling and just ‘letting go’ has produced those brilliant stories you hear about, the ones that will take people on journeys they never forget and, in some cases, never recover from.
Even in the editing and rewriting process may I encourage you to not mess with the magic? Don’t think too long or too hard about the ‘feel’ of it; just let it be and build around it with the knowledge you possess. If you sense that it is losing its magic then let it be for a while until it calls you back, and then continue slowly. There’s no rush, after all. You need to decide what’s more important: passion or knowledge, or a perfect balance of both.
Any NaNo tales? Leave them here!
- My Characters and I are One – a Journey into The Sword Bearers Series (moniquerockliffe.wordpress.com)
Writing a story and touching on so many different genres has been both surprising and intoxicating as I’ve learned just how much I am capable of achieving when I put all my energy and skills into making it work. Drawing in romance while so much horror is taking place, then interlacing it with sci-fi and urban fantasy, adventure, thrills and action, has been such fun, and continues to be as I rapidly reach the halfway mark of Avalin: A Vampyric Legend.
Having a week off (due to work) didn’t, thanks goodness, block my creative flow or ideas, and the story is, in fact, more powerful than it was when I put down my first 11 000 words. It continues to flow and weave and expand as I write every scene and every charged conversation, and all the fears I had about having enough to write has slowly dissipated as the word count grows.
My characters have come to life as I’ve created them one word, one conversation, and one scene at a time, and now they are truly alive within my mind and heart so that as soon as I sit down and write they grow and evolve effortlessly and powerfully. My vampyres are strong, wicked, and brutal, and along with these traits my two main characters also have a passion (some of their kind would call it a weakness) for human females, particularly for the main character, a beautiful, intoxicating woman called Avalin whom they discover holds the key to their race’s salvation. When they find her they are hypnotised by not only her physical beauty, but also by her humility, kindness, and insatiable passion, which the two main characters are only too happy to share with her. She teaches them about love and the fierce courage and determination of the human spirit and that vampyres don’t have to destroy humans in order to survive.
As the story progresses the reader discovers a place where great darkness, mystery, and fear exists on earth, where vampyres have been living for centuries, hidden and ever watchful for the answers they seek. They live out of sight, traversing our planet, looking for a way to make right the wrongs their kind has suffered for over a thousand years. Some of these vampyres are not capable of any form of passion and compassion because they believe all humans weak and pathetic and only good for breeding and feeding on. They don’t care who they destroy along the way, how many women they ravish and slay while they try to solve the riddle of their race’s gradual and inevitable demise – unless a miracle occurs, that is. But, fortunately, not all the vampyres are this cold and cruel; the two main male characters are considered mere youths by the elders (although they are both over nine hundred human years old) and incapable of having any kind of success in their search. But because of their willingness to be open to understanding humans, to listen and take the time to painstakingly research and follow their instincts, they soon discover everything they need to save their world from extinction.
Politics, scheming, vengeance, revenge, murder, lust, greed, the hunger for power and control – all of these traits are present in this predatory race, and so as it turns out vampyres are not so different to humans in this regard.
And in the centre of it all is a woman who has lost everything, who only wants to her life to end because her grief has become too much for her to bear, but then suddenly finds a reason for living again when two mysterious strangers enter her world of despair, bringing with them an insatiable hunger and a tale beyond her imagining.
As I said, so far I’ve managed to combine all these aspects smoothly with no hitches, so my conclusion, therefore, has to be that genre fusion does indeed work, and personally I find it makes for a much fuller, more intense story, and nigh impossible for the reader to become bored.
Now I do realise that most stories have a ‘main’ genre thread throughout the tale, but my experiment is to not focus on just one but give each genre equal time throughout. One or two themes might dominate a few pages or chapter, sure, but overall I don’t want the reader able to explain the genre of the book in less than twenty to thirty words.
As of this morning I’m at 20 399 words (and hoping to be at 25 000 by day’s end), and by the end of this week I will be well on my way to the finish line. I’m super excited about this book because I’ve been working on The Sword Bearers series for so long it felt welcome albeit extremely bizarre to suddenly shift focus and pace and genres to do Avalin: A Vampyric Legend. I’m loving every minute of writing, and I can’t wait to have a completed novel in my hands by the 30th of November.
If you have any thoughts on this, and if you’d like to share your NaNo progress, I’d love to hear from you.
‘Smoke Dog’ image courtesy of Darren Foster
- Does Genre Fusion Work – and is it Wise? (moniquerockliffe.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo 2012: NaNoWriMo Is Like Eating Pie (And Other Things I’ve Learned This November) (musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com)
- Day 17 | NaNoWriMo (wordobsession.net)
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