About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Independent author and amateur beefcake

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hugh Howey and the Q and A

Ok, so I'm stealing a bit of his Molly Fyde thunder with the blog post title.  (PS, if you've read Wool and liked/loved it, check out his other books, Molly Fyde in particular)

Wow, my last post was a new years resolution?!  Ok, I have to do better than that.

Yes, I'm still writing.

Yes, I'm still having an editor look at some of my stuff.  (Said editor is quite booked so I'm having to be patient.)

And...Yes, I'm still hoping to make this blog a regular thing. (Kinda embarrassing to get back on here after months away and find that there's comments I didn't know about. Yikes!)

Well, at least I have a good excuse to blog about.  A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Kobo Writing Life.  Hugh Howey was going to be in town and the first fifty people who responded to the email would have a chance to meet him, at their offices, and ask him a question.  I thought I was too late, the email had a time stamp from three hours earlier. (Who checks their email that often anymore?  Unless for work, the rest of us expect news from txts or FaceBook, I think.)

Luckily, I made the cut.
Lucky because I got to meet the man who's changing the way books are sold and read and marketed.  Over the last few years, since that first Kindle was released, the market has found itself in the middle of a paradigm shift, of sorts.  The readers and authors seem to understand that the game has changed but the publishers and some of the retailers are still sticking to what they think they understand, from decades of experience.

In comes a group of writers who have chosen to self publish, Hugh Howey being among them.  What's remarkable is that these authors are doing so well without the big publishers that when approached by one of the big guys, the authors JD Ward and even Hugh Howey have been able to either flat out say 'no', JD Ward, or dictate the terms and conditions of their publications, Hugh Howey has published with Simon and Schuster but retains the rights to his book, himself. 

I got the sense that this was a different experience, even for him.  Sitting down with fifty authors, either who had self published or were still trying to get published the traditional way, to answer questions.

The crowd itself, was quite mixed, I found.  I had thought it would be full of Hugh Howey fanatics, if such a thing exists, but found, from the questions, that many were more intrigued by how he's gotten to where he is, more than they were with his writing. (Most however, were obvious fans, pulling books out of their bags to be signed.)   And, I think those people were the only ones who left slightly disappointed.  Their questions focused on marketing and how he managed to become a 'name' within the industry.  His answer?  'I don't like to market myself.'  I'm sure they weren't expecting to hear an answer like that.

That could be argued, I'm sure.  Since being in Toronto, on Monday, he did a reading and took questions in a library, Tuesday he was speaking at a writers expo and then Wednesday he was talking with us, at the Kobo HQ.  What he meant, he responded after further prodding, was that he never mentioned he was a writer, when talking with people, that he never pushed himself out there, instead, he let things form naturally.  People were able to understand him, first, as a person, and then, later, when they found out he was an author, they were more prone to read his work due to their association with him as someone they liked. (Granted I'm paraphrasing here, the video of the event will make it's way online soon, Kobo recorded it and will post in on their website once it's edited.  Once they do, I will link to it here.)

From the sound of it, his family did most of the promoting for him.  His father even went so far as to get him signings at the local Starbucks.

He said that his first book, Molly Fyde, was written for the express purpose of having it be written.  He only ever wanted to get it out of his head and onto the page.  But the flood gates busted and everything else kept pouring out.  His only reason for not taking a break?  He's afraid that if he does he will lose that momentum.  That the words will stop coming to him.

And thus I think we get to the secret of his success.  Be kind, be friendly, be honest, write lots, use your support group, friends and family, and just keep doing what you feel you've been made to do.  The rest will come.

PS - his favorite work, that he's written, is 'I, Zombie'.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Resolutions (New year and otherwise)

The last few years have had their share of ups and down and ups and downs and so on and so forth, or something like that.

My short story The Ghost Next Door is going out to be edited, I'm working on a super hero novel, told in three parts, that I find pretty interesting.  It's a general super hero story but I can't help it from being a purely "adult" novel.  Meaning, I guess, that characters get killed and people have sex, there's no cut away scenes where people die off page or couples 'do it' after the chapter ends.  I'm doing this because the story dictates I do so, you write and the story decides, most, if not all, the time.  Also it's a bit more realistic.  It's one of the reasons I love the George R.R. Martin books so much.  You might love a character but is it realistic that they would survive through so many different, life threatening, situations?  Probably not.  So he keeps it real and people kick it that you think shouldn't, due to the fact that they seem, seemed, like such an integral piece of the plot.

Though I haven't finished much in the last year, writing wise, it's still been the most productive bit of time I've spent at the keyboard.  Hopefully the next year will keep me on the uptick and things can move forward, another step in the direction of being published.

I sit here, watching the snow falling, outside, and the characters call to me, ask me to keep them active.  I will do so and hope that, in the end, their story entertains you, as well.  :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nanowrimo 2013 - Simmering

The simmering stage, that's what I call this.

It's once you've gotten past that first bit that you've imagined the novel started with.  The opening scene introducing your characters has been written.  You've gotten past that first painful bit where you doubt you ever had an idea that could sustain a novel.

Suddenly as you're writing a drop of new knowledge is dispensed.  His sister's an alcoholic?  Really, I didn't know that but it sure makes sense with the stuff I want to write later.  He's suffering from depression?  Wow, that's great because I couldn't figure out to take them to those darker places.  This is the stuff novels are made of.  Happy coincidences.  They happen in life and they happen in books too.

I'm a bit behind on my word count.  Only *cough* ten thousand words or so *cough*.  I've got time to catch up though and suddenly, with a few 'happy coincidences, things look much more possible then they did yesterday.  I have some facts to play with now and I'm sure they were just the tip of the iceberg. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day three of Nanowrimo 2013

This is the post that's completely unnecessary.  I should be pounding out the words on my novel instead of creating a post for a blog.  I'm struck, however, at how similar events play out.  Every year before it's around this time that doubts begin to grow.

Once the first idea get's pulled out of your brain, the opening scene that you've ran over and over, in a loop, on your minds eye, and it finds it's way into the digital ink that you're throwing down, you don't know what to do next.  Sure there's other scenes, further along, that you can't wait to write but you can't do it yet because you haven't connected the dots.  It's those lines between the turning point that eventually create the picture, when it comes to connect the dots.  So, here too, it's the moments in between those big scenes that you're drooling over that will give your novel it's definition.

I know a couple of other characters that will eventually play a part, I haven't figured out yet how they enter or leave the story, I just know that they exist in some of those scenes I'm waiting to write.  I also know some of the sub stories that bob and weave through the book but, again, I don't know what or how they involve themselves with my characters yet.

Maybe, I should call the book...yet.  There seems to be a bit of that peppered throughout what I've written in this post, so far.

The trick is plodding along.  Sometimes the most painful work is the best work.  I've noticed in other things I've written that, at the time, when I thought I was just getting a word count in and that the pages I'd written would eventually just get tossed out, upon second review it was some of the better stuff I'd done.

So here goes, back into that breach....

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nanowrimo 2013

Once again into the breach or something to that affect. (Is that the right use for affects? I shall google it toot sweet.....Apparently, I was wrong it's effect.  You can check out why, here.) Sooooo.....

Once again into the breach or something to that effect.  Nanowrimo is upon us and if you're not sure what that is, you too can google, I'm sure, it's the month of the year when I realize I'm not really a writer and I turn tail and run back under the covers to hide until it's over and I can go back to pretending.

Actually, things aren't that bad.  You wouldn't know that, since I never seem to post on my own blog, which exists so that I might reach potential readers.  I finished a short story a month or so back and it's heading out to be looked at by an editor before I put it onto kobo or amazon or something yet to be determined.  I've also gutted the first book I wrote, a zombie tale from the viewpoint of multiple characters, and have turned it into a series of shorter stories too.  One of those is novella length while the rest kinda remain at short story level.

This year, I'm pretty excited about my novel, a ghost story taking place in a hotel up in Alaska.  The tag line is...As the nights grow longer the bumps get louder.

Truthfully, I've already written about 500 words.  I know, I know, you're not supposed to write anything until Nov. 1 but I had to, the opening scene came bubbling up through the nether-regions of my mind the other night and, well, now it's been put down into digital ink.

I was beginning to get bogged down into the technicalities of it all, where does it take place, what gold rush town does it take place near but then I realized I'm the one writing it and I can fudge the numbers....a little bit.  I've traveled enough around Alaska, probably more than a lot of Alaskans have, to be honest.  I've been to Anchorage, Homer, Wasilla, Fairbanks, Seward, Aniak, Talkeetna and most of the smaller towns in between.  I muscled through two summers working at a Salmon Bake (exactly what you think it is, except we rented tent cabins and had a gift shop, as well.) at Denali National Park and I've drank a bulldog in a bar that Robert Service used to frequent and I've found myself in-between a Moose and her calf and lived.  The hotel and the small town that live in my mind are kind of an amalgamation of all those places and experiences.

So bring on November first.....I feel ready.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Almost Neil Gaiman Book Signing (here in Toronto)...

I had bought a ticket to see Neil Gaiman on his very last book tour.  He's in Toronto, tonight, for a reading followed by a signing but I'm at home, wishing I would be there.

Why you might ask, am I home?  Because I'm broke, in short.  Sure I have books by Neil Gaiman sitting on my bookshelf, that would absolutely love to be signed, but Chapters/Indigo have sent out an email stating that only books bought through them may be signed by Neil.  Since, months and years ago, when I bought the books, I didn't know that I would need the receipt, in order to prove where they were bought, my only option is to buy a new book, there, at the signing. 

Unfortunately this is rent week and it's been a heavy month with issues, no need to go into my finances here but know that I can count the dollars I have with the digits I possess. 

My option is to go to the reading and when he's done with the chapter, leave, since I'm sure there's no option to just stand in line with nothing to sign, or go and watch him read and then watch him do some signings for other people.

Instead I decided to go home and read, all by my lonesome. 

I'm just resolved, now, to never accommodate something like this, when I'm a published author, where people have to re-buy books in order to prove their purchase.  I'm sure Neil Gaiman doesn't have a hand in any of this and I'm not upset with him, just upset with the bookstores that have this type of attitude.

I saw Anne Rice, last year, and she spoke at the public library and allowed up to three books signed, regardless of where they were bought.

Oh, well.  Maybe I'll meet ya at a convention or something, Neil?  When I'm pushing my book, too.  We will see.

Friday, August 2, 2013

On Stephen King's writing and Doctor Sleep

I have to say I'm truly happy for Stephen King finding his way back with these last bunch of books.  I think, starting with Cell, King rediscovered his story telling gifts.  Not to say anything was wrong with some of the books before that but, it seemed, at some point during the nineties and early aughts he was just writing to write, as most of us wanna be authors should be doing. Over the last ten years we've received a bunch of new classics from the horror master.  It's really a golden age of King books we're experiencing now.  (Now if only CBS had stuck to the book with Under The Dome)

Now with Doctor Sleep on it's way, we get an excerpt...

Check it out....HERE

All I can say is WOOT!