Plot Twist!

The last article I wrote got me thinking. I may be getting in my own way.

When I came up with the idea for Monolith, it was to create a high-quality product that would serve as a flagship title for a new era of independently published books that stand out from the crowd of cheap, poorly written stories that have flooded the marketplace.

The story I was originally going to write for the Monolith anthology wasn’t good enough, which is fine. I don’t want the team to compromise the quality of the book by accepting sub-par work just because it was written by the boss. I don’t want to embarrass the Creative Writers’ Press brand.

I’ve already started the rewrite, but since we’re short on Sci-Fi, I’ve also started another short story that I don’t feel great about. The way I’m going about this is starting to feel like a bad return on the time and effort I invest. Almost as bad as when I was trawling the internet looking for writing opportunities that didn’t suck. It will be even worse if Monolith fails to sell.

I may not like the fact that Candace writes to the market instead of writing from her heart, but I can’t deny that it gets results. Her advice, along with the video she recommended, made me wonder if I could self-publish some of the rejects, many of which were always intended to be the first in a series, and build up an income from it.

With that in mind, I’ve removed The Haunted Story from this website but left the place-holder open so that I can share the links to each story as they go live on Amazon. If it seems to be going well, I’ll do the same with The War on Magic. If I manage to actually build up an audience, I may even sell Hermes925 this way too. Despite my passion for the story, I still don’t feel like it’s ‘good enough’ for Creative Writers’ Press.

This is a sharp change of direction for me, but if it actually leads me to my goal of becoming a full-time writer, I’m willing to explore it.

 

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Opportunities for Growth

For those who read the previous blog entry, Unexpected Hope, yes I did bump into that lady again. I gave her another one of my business cards the very next day and I even saw and spoke to her again the day after that. She promises to email me. If you happen to be reading this, I’m still waiting 😉

In other news, the Creative Writers group is going extremely well. We had had a few fires to put out because too many people were joining that didn’t really belong there. I had wondered for a while how I might be able to make sure that everyone understands the ‘spirit of the group’ when I know that only a fraction of the members will ever read the group description or the pinned post, and join based on the name of the group alone.

I don’t remember now which of the other group administrators reminded me that you can set three questions for new members to answer. I’ve seen too many groups misuse this feature. They’ll ask a confusing question such as ‘Do you promise to follow the group rules?’, when the rules are only accessible after you’ve been accepted. I didn’t want to make this same mistake.

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I had posted a rant to the group after I had kicked out the trouble-makers to try and make sure we didn’t have similar trouble again:

“Creative Writers is a community of writers, wordsmiths and storytellers. We know the power of words. Some words can cause discomfort, and some writers are skilled at deploying these words for maximum effect.
If you plan to drop a verbal bomb in the group, please include a trigger warning out of respect for your fellow writers.

“If you happen to see a word or phrase that offends you, please remember we’re writers. We use words to illicit an emotional response. By all means, correct their grammar and punctuation, but demanding censorship goes against the spirit of the group.

“Having said that this is not the place to discuss religion or politics. You can submit any piece of writing for critique but bear in mind that we deal mainly in fiction and your opinion may be analysed as such.

“We are here to become better writers. To help each other, support one another and learn from each other. Competitiveness and attention seeking behaviours disrupt the spirit of the group and will not be tolerated.”

I boiled this rant down to the following three questions (I copied this from a membership request, so it also includes the answers I’m looking for):

  • Do you understand that this is a place for fiction, and not religion or politics?

    Yes 🙂

  • If you post anything that could be deemed offensive, are you willing to include a trigger warning?

    Yes.

  • Are you looking for a supportive group of fellow writers, willing to help others grow and develop your own craft?

    Yes!

As long as the member answers ‘Yes’ (or some synonym of it) for all three questions, they’re in. If they only answer one or two of the questions, or they reply ‘no’ (or some equivalent response), they are declined. People who still haven’t even answered the questions are declined after a six-hour window of opportunity.  Despite this hurdle, membership continues to increase at a rapid pace.

It seems like we’ve regained the ‘spirit of the group’ I had established when I took over. Finding a way to quit the day job and do this full-time isn’t so pressing anymore. We’re still creating a Kickstarter page, but the focus has been switched from payroll to our product. Which is only right. We’re asking for £3,000 to cover production and marketing of the Monolith Anthology.

 

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We’ve gone back to this cover

 

My original plan, after all, had been to produce Monolith for as cheaply as possible so that all the writers and other contributors can get a fair share of the profit. If I could do it without putting any money in, I would, but my team tell me that this is just as unrealistic as hoping to raise enough cash to pay each administrator $5,000 per month for 6 months! They make a good point.

With all the time effort and passion I’m putting into the Monolith project, including the Creative Writers group and Creative Writers’ Press, I worry that Laura, my girlfriend, is getting neglected. To that end, I’ve been asking her what she’s really like to do with her life. She said she’d like to travel more. At first, this answer made my heart sink when I realised that it would be a long time before I could afford to buy flights and hotels all over the world. Then I watched this video:

I often watch TED videos while I’m working on Monolith, to keep me motivated. This video helped me to realise that travelling the world doesn’t need to mean expensive hotels and flights to every destination. You can travel on a shoestring if you don’t mind roughing it a little, and I have a tribe of over 7,700 Creative Writers to ask for help.

We’ve already had members offer Laura and I a place to stay in Holland, Iceland, Pakistan, Canada, South Africa and several states in America. I don’t have a lot coming in from Patreon subscriptions, but it would be enough to keep my phone data active, and as long as I have power and internet access, I can write anywhere. If it gets too hard I know my family would welcome me back.

We’re not running off immediately (much as I’d like too) we’re currently aiming to start our adventure next year after Monolith has launched, which will hopefully provide an additional trickle of income. In the meantime, we’re going to save up and do our research so we can do this as safely as we can. It will still be risky, but it’ll be a great adventure, an amazing experience, and I’ll have some great stories to tell. I may even end up with my own TED talk!

 

 

 

 

 

Time To Write

I know I’m not the only writer that has this problem. You get up ready to write, pull out your notebook and pen or turn on your computer (or both) determined to work on a story that you know has to get written. You know exactly what you intend to work on, but the words just refuse to come.

This is especially frustrating if you know that this is the only time you’ll get this week. The rest of your schedule is filled with prior commitments. Work, family. friends, other writing projects, classes, housework, etc. All vying for attention while the one thing you’re trying to pay attention to refuses to cooperate.

You may be trying to keep to a deadline, a schedule, or a promise, but you just can’t focus. You try to read over your notes, scan over the last thing you wrote, and get into the mindset of your characters. You find yourself just staring, your mind wandering to other worries.

Sometimes I can get around this by working on something else, or updating this blog. Other times I can post a question on Facebook to my fellow writers to figure out what direction I need to take the story in. Most of the time just forming the question is enough to get me going again.

Right now I’m supposed to be proofreading and editing the short story I’m working on for UbiquiCity, the RPG sourcebook I’m contributing to. I have already fixed a lot of it, but I know it needs more. I keep meaning to find the time to read over the stories that have been submitted by the other writers to make sure that my descriptions of the City are consistent, but I keep having the same problem I’m having with my own work. I’m just staring at the screen.

I have four days until the writers meet up again. One of those days I have to be out of the house for about 10 hours for my day job, and on another I’ll be doing the update for my Facebook RP group the City of Gate. I’ve had all month to do the rewrite and I’ve spent maybe 2 days actually doing it. The rest of the time I’ve been working, sleeping, doing not enough writing and spending too much time discussing a new project.

To be fair the new project is very exciting. A series of short-story anthologies called Monolith. The Creative Writers group is now up to 343 members (and probably more by the time you read this) and a lot of them are pumped about writing something for book one. I don’t expect each book to make much money, but the more books we publish, the more the royalties will add up.

Working on Monolith will also give me invaluable insight into self-publishing and allow me to make use of some of my accumulated knowledge on sales, marketing and entrepreneurship. At one point I thought I’d use these skills to attain a corporate position of some kind, or start my own business, but it feels right to apply it to creating a series of books instead.

If you think you might be interested in contributing a short story, please do. You can get more info about it on the pinned post of the Creative Writers group. Eventually there will be a dedicated website to go with the Facebook page I’ve made, but for now there’s a link at the top of this page for submissions. You have until June-August to get it in, so that should give you plenty of time to polish it up and make it awesome.

I should get back to the UbiquiCity story I’m supposed to be writing. If not, then I should at least be working on The War on Magic, City of Gate: Chronicles, Hermes925, or The Haunted Story. I may have too many writing projects!

If you happen to be someone that likes to invest in entrepreneurial new writers, you can do so either on my Patreon page, or by selecting one of the Paypal subscription options below. You’ll get updates on my writing projects and free copies of every book I’m published in if you do. Have a great day 🙂

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Let’s Try This Again!

I’m feeling a little nervous. I start a new job on Thursday working in a bar. It’s in the same hotel my girlfriend works at. The Whitewater Hotel. It’s in a beautiful part of the Lake District with a river running right past it. So far every employee I’ve spoken too seems cool. Even more reason why I’m a little anxious.

It would be nice to have a bit of an income coming in again. When I worked at The Brown Cow I was saving up quite a nice little pile of savings. There were several other things about that job that would have been perfect. It was only a short walk from where I’m currently living. It helped keep me fitter because I was doing more physical work and walking home uphill.

Unfortunately, there were quite a few aspects of the job that sucked. The owner was unapologetically exploitative. He once told me that when we took the job we agreed to minimum wage, in return he expects us to work hard for him, and if we’re not willing to put all of our effort into making his business a success we should leave. He also never complemented anyone for their hard work, only berated them for what he decided they had done wrong, badly or missed entirely.

It seems that all the other employees felt they were being mistreated also, and took every opportunity to complain. At first, this gave me a feeling of solidarity. Us versus him. However, this solidarity meant that they all continued working for him, complaining behind his back, and doing nothing to improve their situation. Nevertheless, it made sense to at least work there through Christmas, and hope the increased tips would be worth the environment of resentment I was working in.

I couldn’t hack it though. The staff all had a tendency to insult each other affectionately, and once I was on ‘their side’ they began to do the same to me. One of whom would imply that I was sexually promiscuous and stand way too close to me. I’m sure he actually grabbed my arse once. The day I quit I was going to confront him about it. I spent the short walk going over it in my head, what I was going to say, how I was going to say it. Then I started to imagine what he might say back, and about the fact that I would have to talk to him in private. I walked in and he was wearing a Santa’s Elf costume, and every fibre of my being told me I had to leave. So I did, and I have never gone back.

I took this opportunity to write my arse off! I was hoping that I’d be able to get my writing career off the ground and establish a stable income before my money, and my family’s ability to help me, ran out. I knew going in that it was unlikely and would require an awesome combination of effort and dumb luck to pull it off. I’m also willing to admit that I was so upset by my last experience, that I am dreading having to work with people again.

I hope they’re cool.

I will find time to write no matter what. I’m willing to admit now that claiming that taking a second job (I’m still a Writer) would leave me with no time to write was an excuse. In truth, I just don’t want to have to deal with jerks, morons, drunks and pervs again. Like I said though, so far they seem pretty cool. The atmosphere of the hotel seems great too. They even let staff use their smartphones when it’s quiet, so I’ll be able to write down ideas and develop stories during my down time.

This could be perfect. Getting paid to work behind a bar (which can be fun), in beautiful surroundings, and still able to scribble. Plus I’m only working there 2-3 days per week, so that will still give me plenty of the week left to work on the UbiquiCity project, Hermes925 and Before the War.

I’ll find out soon enough. Getting anxious about it won’t help anything. Even if it turns out to be horrible it will still be a valuable experience, and you don’t level up without gaining experience.

I’ll be using the income to help my girlfriend save up for the deposit on a house to rent, to help pay utilities and groceries, and I’ll also be creating a marketing budget to promote Hermes925, and a self-publishing budget. I’d still rather publish through a traditional publisher that will do all the marketing and distribution for me, but I’ll increase my chances of getting picked up if I already have a following.

Please help me save up faster by visiting my Patreon.com page and becoming a patron, or choosing one of the Paypal subscription options below. All subscribers will get a weekly newsletter keeping you up to date on all my work in progress, and I’m working on ways to improve the higher level rewards beyond personal holiday greetings and personalised short stories.

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Thank you and have a great day 🙂

On Success

I was challenged by the rising Facebook star Chris Forbush to write a blog article about success. In fact, the challenge was open to anyone who read the post. What he actually said was:

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As you can see I told him my life isn’t a success story yet, which isn’t entirely accurate. I’ve succeeded at quite a few things in life. I’ve survived school and several different jobs. During my not-so-successful marriage in the US, I learned that I was holding myself back and putting my own desires on hold. By the time I’d come back to the UK after my marriage crumbled,  it didn’t take me long to realise that I wasn’t going to find success following a traditional career path.

When I was a child I couldn’t make my mind up what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote about being a fireman, or a spaceman, a robot, or a wizard, a pirate, or a palaeontologist, an inventor, a scientist, or a knight. Even as an adult I would agonise over my life choices and write about ways I could achieve my goals and find happiness. It was only in the last few years that I realised I’d been a writer all along.

 

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This rat doesn’t like to race!

 

Even then I didn’t take the plunge to becoming a full-time writer until this year. I came back broke so I moved in with my Grandparents. I was trying to hold down a part-time job to bring in some money while I wrote, but I found the work and the people I worked with to be exhausting. I didn’t come home motivated or inspired. My mind was occupied with gossip and criticism. It wasn’t worth it.

I’m lucky to have family that are able to support me while I make a real go of this. I can write and look for additional opportunities to get paid for my writing without having to worry too much about keeping a roof over my head. I can’t just kick back and relax, they’re not made of money. I know that their budget has gotten a lot tighter because of me. My next ‘success’ will be when I start to receive paychecks for the stories I have submitted and will yet submit.

 

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It’s coming, I can feel it!

 

It would also be nice if I had a few more paying subscribers to my blog, but so far my attempts to encourage followers to pay even £1 per month have fallen flat, but I’m still determined to make this work. So in addition to writing and looking for publications that pay for submissions, I’ve created a version of my WordPress website in Blogger and I’m also going to share my work on Patreon, Wattpad and CoPromote to try and increase my exposure. This should dramatically increase the chance that clients and patrons will find me.

I will, of course, continue to share every article I write on Facebook and Twitter also. Including every future entry of the Sci-Fi story I’m writing, Hermes925. If you like Sci-Fi (with a little fantasy and dystopia thrown in), feel free to read the story from the beginning via the Wattpad page or the WordPress Page. If anyone can tell me how to add ‘next page’ and ‘prev page’ on WordPress, I’d love to hear from you.

In addition to spreading myself across the internet as far as I can think of right now, I’ve also submitted a short Ghost Story to a publication which won’t want it published elsewhere if they accept it (so read it while you can), an ezine called Diversions from Drudgery is going to serialise Hermes925, and I’m working with a team of writers to produce short stories to include in the sourcebook for a futuristic roleplay game.

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I have quite a few irons in the fire, and I honestly feel that success is just a matter of persistence and time. Though, for the sake of my family and my girlfriend, I hope it’s sooner rather than later. If you’d like to help us, you can either subscribe via small monthly payments, make a single larger donation, commission me to write you a story, impart your expert advice, or share my work with those you think would appreciate it. I’d be very grateful no matter which of the option(s) you choose.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep working toward my goal every day. I hope to begin reaping the fruits of my labour soon, but I expect there’ll be plenty of anxiety and disappointment on the way. I’ll try to avoid them by talking to readers, publishers and other writers to learn the secrets of success. I’m looking forward to hearing from you, for any reason you like, but particularly if you can help me achieve my goals.

Thank you for reading, and have a great day! 🙂