Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Shall we take the Volvo?

I'm grateful to Terry Deary. If you haven't heard of him, he's a writer who created the Horrible Histories.A few years ago we got a set of Horrible History CDs with a box cornflakes. We played them in the car on long journeys for a couple of years. Eventually the boys bought themselves the HH books and every time i went looking for them, i'd find them with their nose in a Horrible History.

Terry Deary got my boys reading. We didn't need to push them, hassle them, cajole them. They just started reading because they found something that interested them.

I still love Horrible Histories. My particular favorite bit is Stupid Deaths. Have a look on YouTube.

What is it about death that fascinates writers? Excluding the chick lit section, the vast majority of books in the library are thrillers or cop procedurals or horror or sword and sorcery, all involving mayhem and murder. My antihero was an assasin.

"Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job." This is a cracking line from when Terry Pratchett was still funny. Death is a reoccuring character in the Discworld stories and has all the best lines.

My favorite bit from Monty Python's Meaning of Life is the section about death. "How did we die?...But i didn't have the salmon mousse." Sorry, like many Python fans i like to quote the dialogue.

I suspect it's something to do with talking about the thing we fear. If we name the beast, it's not so frightening. When i had surgery a couple of years ago, i talked about it a lot in the couple of weeks before the surgery. It made me feel better about it.

It's a heavy responsibility, helping everybody face their fears. I'm sure we're up to the job.

Of course, i could be talking blox.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Polka dot pants

I've hardly read anything recently. Life has been hectic and my laptop takes a million years to boot up so all the books i've bought on kindle in the last couple of months (including yours, fellow authors) are largely languishing unappreciated. Somebody i know read Echo on his iPhone. We were a bit sceptical, but it worked for him - he could read a bit of book every time he had 5-10 minutes to spare.

My ipod won't do that since it had 50 minutes in a 40 degree dark wash - the apps work but the wireless appears to be gone forever and the battery life is now less than a mayfly's.

However, i'm fairly hopeful that i'm about to enter the 21st century and get an ipad. Because:

a) it's my birthday shortly
b) i've been muttering about it for ages
c) it's tax deductable
d) everybody else has one
e) my wife is getting a bluetooth hands free car kit
f) i really really want one


That's an aside really. I came on to write about E2. I'm in the middle of chapter 4 and i'm concious that it's a real frippery and doesn't move the plot on. But then there are chapters of Echo that are about people rather than plot development.

I should just plough on and let the beta readers decide if it stays. E2 is sooooo  much harder than Echo to write. I suspect it's a reaction to the teasing i get at work, particularly about the sex scenes and particularly particularly about the polka dot pants. i threw that in for a laugh and to try and add a bit of colour and humour, but hardly a day goes by when it doesn't get thrown into a conversation.

Beware sex scenes, murders and continuity errors. Also beware loose ends. The AltSpace monsters were intended to be a cameo, but i now have to think about where they can fit into E2/3. Hopefully it won't need a shoe horn

on an unrelated note, i had a conversation with a reader

"i'm reading your book."
"are you enjoying it?"
"i started reading and then realised, oh, it's science fiction" (i would hve thought the spaceship on the cover was a givaway)
"oh, sorry about that."
"and then there's all these murders." (read the blurb!- Echo murdered her way....)

Ashley McCook blogged about how hard the blurb was to write but how important it was when choosing a book. Unless, of course, the reader doesn't take any notice of it.

So, beware polka dot pants, they can bite you (hopefully metaphorically)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

How do you comfort the grammar police?

Give them a big hug and say "Their, there, they're."

I've been reading the hard copy of Echo and the typos are just flying off the page. I went through the e version, then printed it out and went through it again, although to save trees it was two pages per side, so it wasn't that big.

Everybody says you should get a professional editor to avoid these things but something like that would have been a massive outlay when i didn't expect it to get read by more than a handful of people.

A few people have expressed an interest in buying the actual book. It's slightly embarrasing when people are shelling out a couple of quid, but the paperback is £7.99 on Feedareed.com. If people want the book i'm going to have to go through it, make all the changes and upload it again. I can also re-upload to Kindle and list it for free for a week so that people who bought it can download a copy without all the mistakes (including one use of the wrong sort of their (there, they're). Not that i mind, but it's not as much fun as writing Echo2.

Having said that, Echo2 isn't much fun at the moment. I've just finished chapter 3 but there's a pressure for it to be as good as the original. Self imposed pressure, but still real. Echo was never meant to be read which allowed me to write whatever i wanted. I'd like to write E2 with the same freedom, but i don't think that's going to happen. I now understand the difficult-second-album syndrome that effects bands.

Does it matter if E2 is rubbish? Not in the grand scheme of things, no, but a remarkable number of people have said very kind things about Echo and i don't want to disappoint them with a disappointing follow up.

Anybody else have this problem?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cooler than Jean Claude Van Da**e's dangly bits

The postman brought me a package today. It was very exciting, not just because, in the digital age, i don't get much post (even the bills are online now) but because it was the size and weight of a book. A real book.

This one