Here's the thing! Book titles are not copyrighted. So yes, I know Steve (King) wrote something along those lines - On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft - I've even got a copy somewhere under a load of boxes in the cellar (only kidding Steve - I ain't got a cellar). Anyway, I realised that I've been bleating on about marketing, promotion, sales, the few people who own a Kindle, etcetera., but... I've said nothing about writing. You'd expect an author to wax lyrical about his craft, wouldn't you? Well, here it is - my thoughts on writing. It's a general overview, because I'll write some more blogs on specific elements of the craft - don't want to put all my eggs in one basket - translation of the idiom here!
So, when I began to write, I read a few books and put mechanical pencil to paper (a bit like building a flatpack without reading the instructions). Well, I was still teaching then, so writing/reading time was limited (but I went on holiday to Turkey - phew it's hot out there! - where I started writing my first book and lay on a sunbed by the pool for two weeks writing - and, of course, drinking beer!) Needless to say, it wasn't the best book that had ever been written). Well, I thought it was (you do don't you?). Some agents didn't though (probably about a million!) Anyway, one day I was riffling (don't you just love that word?) through some magazines in a Charity book shop when I came across a bunch of old Writing Magazine and bought them for a song (I think it was My Way by Frank Sinatra!). I didn't even know that such magazines existed (I know, call me a bonehead - quietly!) So, I devoured all of them and sent off my subscription to get more. That was three years ago, and I still receive them every couple of months. Definitely worth a subscription because there are actually two magazines in one - Writing Magazine and Writers' News - and they're chock full of goodies such as special features on writing, words, grammar; interviews and profiles of real writers (yeah, that doesn't include you and me); how to's about fiction; poetry; freelance writing; novel and short story competitions; letters... I'm sure you get the idea, and no I'm not getting a cut of their revenue for saying how wonderful they are - I wish!
So, inside the pages of these magazines are a potpourrie (don'tcha just love that word?) of links to follow up, and one such link led me to YouWriteOn (YWO) an online peer review site. There are a few of them about, and I've tried a couple, but if I'm being honest - which I usually am - it's the best one of the lot. Not least because I'm a member, but also because it's run by an enterprising and very helpful young man called Edward (Ted) Smith. This is the way it works: You upload the start of your magnus opus (7,000 words I think it is now), or your short story; you review other people's work (for which you get one credit for one review) and someone then reviews your work (yes, there's a chart which caters for the competitive minded, but that's not the deal here). The people on this site will teach you how to write properly, how to develop an armoured skin and accept criticism, how to critique other people's work (and therefore your own); and... I'm sure you get the picture! There's also a message board comprising lots of interesting discussions, and where you can make a bucketful of friends. Also, I get my dead tree publishing done there - for price and quality they're the best - take a look at my dead tree books: Warrior: Scourge of the Steppe, A Life for a Life, and Untended Treasures. Don't just believe me though, here's a review of the site by Phoebe A Durand from Associated Content at Yahoo. If you do nothing else in your sad life join YWO today, and upload your magnus opus.
Now, you'd think that once I'd given and received a million reviews on YWO I would have been snapped up by the first agent/publisher that came along! Unfortunately, times are hard for agents and publishers (altogether now... arrrgh!), and they didn't feel confident enough that they could place my work (standard rejection letter), so I did more self-training and read some more books. I can heartily recommend these: Hooked by Les Edgerton - a book about beginnings; Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella; Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress; The Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld; Plot by Ansen Dibell; Description by Monica Wood; Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N Edelstein, PhD; Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle; Make a Scene by Jordan E Rozenfeld; Conflict, Action & Suspense by William Noble; Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell; and Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress. This list is neither exclusive nor exhaustive, but I found (and still do find) these books useful in helping me to master the craft. If I had to choose one to recommend to you - I couldn't - it would be two: Hooked and Crafting Scenes.
So, there I was, a graduate of a whole series of books on creative writing - a well-read master of my craft! I put my first book aside (as you do) and set to writing another one, then another one, and... I've now written 11 in total with more on the way. I sent some of them to agents. Only one peaked their interest, but alas it was not to be. Another book was accepted for publication by a small press in America, but the lead in time was 18 months - too long. I published all 11 books myself as ebacks on Kindle six weeks ago (they're the ones on the right - I think it was the right decision, but only time will tell.
I write in a number of genres, and maybe I should have used a pseudonym for each genre! I don't know - a lot of authors do, but I wanted to use my own name (I wanted to become famous as me not as a pseudonym, but that's another blog). Are readers confused by an author writing in different genres? Personally, I prefer to know what else an author has written even if it is something totally different. Using a pseudonym feels as though the author is trying to fool the readers! Oh well, maybe another blog.
So, I keep writing, I keep reading, I keep learning. Always willing to listen to well-reasoned criticism, and hope readers who purchase my books are enjoying them. A couple more reviews wouldn't go amiss. I'd like to submit to review sites, but you have to wait about 3 years for your book to reach the top of the pile - sigh! It reminds of the slush pile.
Oh, I nearly forgot about all my other vices! Well, let's see, I can't smoke since my heart attack; I can't remember the last time I had a pint of Guinness; my wife says retired people don't have sex (I bow to her wisdom); I do eat the occasional truck-load of chocolate; I love serious murder mysteries and science fiction on television; I love the peace and quiet of no children; I open my laptop up at 5 in the morning and don't shut it down until about 9 at night; I love my five Shitzhu dogs (my babies); I love to... You can see that my other vices are fairly pedestrian, but what did you expect? Just because I write about serial killers it doesn't mean I am one... does it? Don't even answer that because I know where you live...
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.