Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Adventure Begins Tomorrow

By my laptop's clock, it's 21:28. I'm tired, it's not even late... though I haven't had tea in hours. That might explain it.

Tomorrow, the adventure that is Balor Reborn begins. I'm nervous. I'm excited. But I'm ready. I have a kettle in my room, a supply of biscuits and water, and the plan of the book. My room is clean, my chair is comfortable, and I have warm-up techniques in place.

I still get to be scared, though. I'm reserving that one.

Today, I wrote a lot of Haiku. You can find them on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. I won't bother you with them here. However, they proved to me what I needed to know:

1) I can use them to get words going through my head and,
2) I can write on command when I need to.

Obviously there's a very specific requirement for Haiku, but that doesn't mean they didn't help. They helped to entertain, too. People found some enjoyment in them, and it meant that I felt like I was actually doing something today. See, I was concerned about that. I didn't want to do something that would so obviously exhaust me the day before I set out to write. While I may be tired right now, that's from everything today building up.

I'm hoping I'll be fine. I'll be reading over my plan tonight, and getting the webcam all set up for tomorrow. Then it's simply a matter of trying to sleep. My friends have been incredibly supportive, so that has helped.

Okay, I need to get away from the laptop. Long day ahead of me tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

T-Minus 1 Day

Back in April, I sent an email to three friends of mine - Messr Shanley, Mille Oz and Mille McQuaid. I had gotten an idea, and I wanted their feedback on it before I really got down to doing anything about it. Since then, I've released the press release, planned the book and begun a series of competitions.

And, you know, I've gotten a lot of exciting news since I started all of this that I'm not sure I can share publicly just yet.

However, from those early, out-of-the-blue ideas, I suddenly find myself with a day to go before I start writing Balor Reborn. A day. Tomorrow. Then I'm to be writing the book, on camera, and that kind of freaks me out. It's too late to back out, too. I don't plan to, mind you, it's just that I can't.

This is a good kind of fear, though. If I wasn't feeling this, I don't think I'd feel the excitement of the project when it comes to actually writing. I'd be sitting down, doing all the same things I normally do. Instead, I anticipate I'll be nervous waking up on Thursday morning. My stomach will be in bits, but I'll try have a cereal. I'd have to.

Then, I'll be sitting down at the laptop, ready to go, and getting the live show set up. I'll have my bathroom-break sign at the ready (seriously), a cup of tea by my side, lunch packed, and then I'll be live for the day.

I'm hoping I can write to a pace that would allow me to work from ten until six for a maximum of three days to get the first draft done. With the book cover and trailer to come after that, that's another day gone. Then I'll be editing, doing the most extensive work in my life for a prolonged period of time to ensure it's down to a tee!

The final day, I want to have a launch party while I make the book available for purchase. I'll have the trailer online, the cover available to see, possibly even a free sample for people to read. I'll go through my answers for the competitions I'm running...

And that's way ahead of schedule. That's the fun and exciting day I have to look forward to, that won't happen that way if I don't do the work. And that terrifies me. This whole thing terrifies me. I reckon I'll be boring on camera. I may end up listening to music through a headset and singing along badly to it. If that happens, I apologise. But I'm sure it'll be more entertaining than me sitting there going insane, right?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This Bloke Called Balor

So, next Thursday (July 26th) I'm sitting down to write a book, on camera, for a week. I have that one, terrifying week to write, edit and publish the book. That'll be fun, right? I have one thing to help myself: a plan. The book is called Balor Reborn, bringing an old Irish myth to the 21st century.

But who is Balor?

Way back when the Tuatha de Danann were around keeping peace in Ireland, there was a bitter old king, Balor. He had one eye, poisoned, so that when he looked people, they had a tendency to die. He was also a giant. That gave him something of an unfair advantage in fighting the Tuatha de Danann, because not only did he have the world's greatest Death Stare, he was also much bigger than them.

The legend says that only his grandson could kill him. Since his daughter wasn't especially happy with his tyranny, he had her locked away the moment she became pregnant. When he wasn't looking, the Tuatha de Danann sneaked into the tower where she remained captive, took her son to safety and named him Lugh.

Balor was furious, but he was sure he would be fine. Babies can't last alone in the wild.

Many years later, when Balor was getting on a bit, he made a march into Ireland, through Ulster. He had a team of men to open his eye, with giant hooks going through his eye lid. When the Tuatha de Danann tried to stop him invading, they opened Balor's eye. One look, and many of them died.

Naturally, the Irish defenders were terrified. What could they possibly do to stop Balor?

As they were about to give up hope, a man by the name of Lugh appeared. None of the Tuatha de Danann that remained knew who he was, but he seemed confident as he approached the battlefield. With a spear in hand, he came close enough for Balor to ask who he was. Lugh, not knowing he was related to Balor, answered that he was a warrior. Balor had no reason to fear him, and ordered for his eye to be opened once more, aiming his gaze on Lugh.

The young Irish hero was too quick for him. With a strong arm, he threw his spear right into Balor's eye, tearing it all the way through Balor's head. Before the eye lost its power, its gaze fell upon Balor's army, killing thousands in an instant. With the giant king dead, and most of his army fallen, the country was saved.

It's there that I take up the story. I figured, this Balor guy must have been pretty annoyed, right? I mean, he was supposed to be invincible, but then this kid with a spear came along and ruined his plans. In modern day Ireland, a storm kicks up and Balor makes his way back. His spirit embodies a power magical item that grows from a widower's grief. Balor is reborn, and the old Irish gods are nowhere to be seen to stop him.

In two weeks, all things going according to plan, the book will be available to read. Will Ireland last, or will a new hero step up to face Balor of the Evil Eye?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guest Post, by Ian Mac an Ghaill: Words, Worlds, and Gaiman

Today, I've got the pleasure of hosting a guest blog by my terribly literate friend, Ian Mac an Ghaill. He's an aspiring author, something of a genius, and while you won't hear it here, he has one of the coolest voices in the world. He's currently working on his first novel.

I'll pass you over to Ian as he talks about words, worlds, and Gaiman.


I’ve been telling stories for longer than I remember.

That is a story in itself; told in the first person, present perfect continuous tense, establishing the embryo of a plot (protagonist tells stories) while giving some information about the character (given to reflecting on previous and current actions) and referring to the limits of the protagonist’s experience. It is not a very sophisticated story though. I could not fill 1000 pages with it (unless I wrote each word to be REALLY BIG). It’s also a true story, an autobiography.

When I was very young I decided to write a book. The book had 3 stories (3 that I remember, in any case). I wanted the story typed, like a real book. I think that I was writing by that stage but I can’t be sure and for many years my writing was largely illegible so this may have been common sense on my part. Anyway, I told my stories to a tape recorder and my Dad duly typed them up on a typewriter. Each story was about a paragraph long but the book contained several more pages of illustration (I may add that a face made up of a crude circle with dots for eyes and a line for a mouth was the pinnacle of aesthetics in these illustrations) and I was delighted with what lay between the cardboard covers.

This was my earliest independent attempt at writing a work of fiction. I believe that I have improved since then. I have at the very least written longer works with more complicated vocabulary, whether they are actually better or not is subjective. The longest piece I have ever written is just over 10,000 words and arose as a kind of ‘Marvel’s Spider-man/David Gemmel’s Drenai’ fanfic hybrid but most of what I write is between 1000 and 3000 words. Most of my story-writing has been for essays at school but I always harboured the desire to write an epic.

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Rowling’s Harry Potter, Nix’s Old Kingdom, Colfer’s Artemis Fowl; these were the fictions I wanted to emulate. With one exception (noted above) attempts to do that tended to fizzle out, wasting away because I lacked the necessary craft and diligence to nourish them; my enthusiasm wasn’t enough to sustain them. I never gave up on my ambitions but I stopped trying to make novels appear through sheer force of will.

Then I discovered the stories of Neil Gaiman. I had been in the habit of only reading long fiction; the longer the better and the bigger the world, the more I wanted to know about it. I changed the way that I looked at reading and writing. That seems a grandiose and yet pointless statement; everything that I read or write changes how I read and write but Gaiman’s writing stands out to me as the catalyst for a new reaction to how I understood stories.

He used language in such interesting ways that I could not do other than notice. He even changed writing-styles within stories. Word-choice and sentence structure suddenly came into focus for me in a way that they had not before. For some reason the importance of language and style in writing had not quite clicked with me in the same way before.

There is a reason to choose the word ‘rob’ over the word ‘steal’ or ‘eldritch’ over ‘strange’. ‘Déja vu’ means ‘already seen’ yet English writers often use the French formulation. Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy were both writers of fiction in 19th century Russia but they wrote very differently. Having said that, maybe Dostoyevsky writes exactly like Tolstoy and the exactitude is lost in my English translations.

I also started reading short fiction, which gave me a better idea of how to pace and structure narratives. I changed the way I approached my school essays (they were now short stories, not stories cut short) and writing short stories changed how I approached longer ones. I am in the process of writing a novel at the moment (not as far as I’d like to be, unfortunately) and I write each chapter as if it were a short story by itself. If nothing else, this makes each foray into writing seem more manageable.

That is the story of how I write stories and how I came to write them in the way in which I do. This may or may not be of any use to anyone and what works for me will most likely not work for anyone else in exactly the same way. I don’t know of any infallible rules for writing and I do strongly believe that there are none.

Joyce’s Ulysses proved that you don’t even need an easily intelligible language or much of a plot. I obsess over synonyms and the mechanics of wording. You don’t have to. You can just write the first words that come into your head. J.R.R. Tolkien was marking exams when he wrote “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” and he had no idea what he meant by writing it.

Write what you like or write what you feel compelled to write. Break whatever rules of writing seem necessary. Write.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guest Post, by Shen Hart: Bringing Your Characters to Life

A good friend of mine from Google+, Shen Hart, is here today with a post about bringing your characters to life! I'm extremely grateful to Shen for putting the time into writing this, in the midst of a day job and running a new writing group, Literary+. You can find out more about both Shen and Literary+ beneath her post.


Bringing Your Characters to Life

Your story is nothing without your characters. It cannot happen without them. Therefore, it's rather important that you write characters with depth, feeling. You need to bring them to life. Of course it's entirely up to you how you view this, some people may prefer to think of themselves as a puppet master, others as a director. Whatever works for you.

The key part, in my mind, is knowing your characters inside out. You need to look past their rough physical appearance and favourite fruit. What is their history? What's that one thing which keeps them up at night? To really bring them to life, they need to be real on some plane or level of existence. You're probably thinking 'but the reader doesn't give a damn what happened on Bob's fourth birthday'. Yes, you're probably right. However! You need to know that his fourth birthday party was the time when his relationship with his father started to twist and falter. It was in that moment, that things changed. That, is the reason that Bob is about to start the zombie apocalypse.

What is my actual point and methodology here? Stop thinking of your characters as just words on a page. See them as people which you need to know inside out. They can be your best friends, your arch nemesis, whatever role they need to fill in your life. Treat them like a psychology project. Personally, I do it like this: I'm a very visual person. So I choose a character, form the scene in my mind then press play. I watch it like a movie. I see every little detail, the slight shift in weight, the glance over at the faded photograph. I hear that rise at the end of the last word, the change in breath and skipped heartbeat. Then I poke. I square up to them and demand to know why. Sometimes I prefer more... torturous methods but that's for a different post.

The summary here? Get to know your characters on every possible level. Understand what makes them tick, why they're like that. That will bring them to life and make them leap off the page and grab your readers


About Shen:

Shen Hart is a passionate, hot-headed English writer. When she isn't torturing her characters in deviously dark manners she spends time with her horses. She has a penchant for twists and has been called 'cheek incarnate' on many occasions...

Shen founded Literary+ as a combination of her desire to help fellow self-published authors and her love of marketing and challenges. 

Shen blogs here:

About Literary+:

Literary+ is a writer based project brought together and lead by Shen Hart. It brings together passionate, quality self-published writers to help each other promote their work, bringing more readers to every member. It was sparked by the simple fact that there are many top quality self-published authors being over-looked because they do not have the time and resources to efficiently and effectively market and promote themselves. With ambition and passion, Literary+ will take its members to the heights they deserve through a tight-knit community of like-minded writers.

You can access the Literary+ website here:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Day to Myself

In a normal day, I tend to want to do something productive. You know, like write an article or work on a chapter of a book. Today? I woke up after sleeping through the night without waking once, for the first time in at least three weeks. I didn't just sleep - I had a lie in! And it was then that I decided today would just be for me. No studying extra material, no writing things I didn't want to write, no forcing myself to do anything.

This? This is just for kicks. I call it celebrating the little things in life. A day to myself doesn't come very often. I don't let it. I have too many things to do to really afford days like this very often. It was a relaxing day, if not a little boring.

To sum it all up, when I woke up later and had my breakfast, I just played a game on my DS. A Game Boy Advance game at that. It's old school. I drank tea, and I talked to people on Facebook about comic book adaptations, and that was all there was to it.

It was the most easy going day of my summer. No travel, no time scales, no doing things for people that didn't need to be done, strictly. It was nice.

Of course, I missed working on things. I'll be trying to catch up tomorrow. As it is, I took the time to write an email to send out to my list later tonight, just so I feel like I've done something today.

Tomorrow, I've got a whole load of things to do to catch up on the week. Some fiction, some non-fiction, a review, some prep-work. Basically, my whole day is going to be spent working, unless it's not.

Confusing? You betcha!

I'll probably write an article explaining that fully... basically, I take breaks. I have to. My brain won't let me keep working and switching tasks around all day. Even my weird brain doesn't allow for that. No one's does. It's that simple.

Anyway, this has already felt like work. You may hear from this blog again tomorrow, if I actually find the time. In the meantime, take care!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Warning for Facebook Users

Recently, Facebook decided to make a change to everyone's profiles: they have a shiny new email address, Immediately, I was against this decision. It removed my personalised email address from my profile - my address that I wanted - to a specific Facebook one I'm never going to use.

Articles are now popping up all over the Internet about what a bad move this was on Facebook's behalf. Why?

People are losing valuable emails. Thanks to Facebook applications and syncing with Contacts on phones, every single owner of a smart phone who's allowed this has lost the email addresses for their friends, family, co-workers and clients. They've been replaced with the Facebook addresses.

An even bigger problem? Facebook didn't tell people. They just did it.

Worse still, the emails don't come in as regular mail. Unlike messages sent on Facebook, you don't get a notification for these emails. Instead, you need to go to:

That page will give you any and all emails sent to your email address. However, it will also give you messages sent by events, pages and groups. Everything has been thrown into the Other folder.

You can change your email address back by going here: or by going to your profile, going to info, and clicking Edit on the Contact Information section. A word of warning, though: this won't guarantee that people's phones will be updated in the same way.

Spread the word about the dangers of the new email addresses. They're inconvenient, and if you do business through your phone and/or through Facebook, you could be losing out on more than funny emails from family and friends.