Why I write

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I have friends who just don’t get it. They don’t understand why I am prepared to sacrifice such a huge chunk of my life to writing.

‘You should come out more at the weekends and do stuff’ they say. ‘You need to expand your social circle and meet more people. It’s not healthy spending time cooped up indoors writing’.

For the record I think my social life is fine. I have plenty of friends and I generally dedicate one day of my weekend to seeing them or family and one day to writing. Truth be told, I could do with a few extra days in the week to fit everything in.

For those in any doubt, this is why I write.

Firstly, the boring reason. I write for added security.

I have a day job, but it’s one that pays barely enough to cover the bills. I live in a tiny one bedroom house and drive an eighteen year old car that keeps threatening to die on me. At the moment I have no future financial security. Until this year I couldn’t even afford to pay into a pension and I permanently live in my overdraft.

This was never the plan and it would be nice to look forward to a future where money wasn’t such a worry. No different to a million or so other people I expect.

Writing gives me a chance to have that added security. Okay, so I’m never going to make it on to the rich list alongside JK Rowling and James Patterson, but while my books are selling my income does receive a tiny boost and the more I write, hopefully, the bigger that boost will be.

The second reason I write is because I love it.

Telling stories is what I do. It’s what I have always wanted to do, it’s what I am good at, and no other job on the planet will ever give me the same buzz or satisfaction.

I love creating characters, fleshing them out into real people, building twisty tales around them, and trying to grab readers in those first few pages before dragging them on a rollercoaster adventure that climbs and climbs and climbs before an exhilarating drop back down to the finale.

I remember being in my early twenties and telling people I wanted to be an author. Most of them used to smirk, some politely humouring me. Writing was a career like singing or acting. It wasn’t a job that people in the real world got to do.

Well, guess what. I believed in my dream and I persevered, and eventually it came true. And if anyone thinks I am going to be complacent and assume the hard work is done, then you’re wrong, because now I have that dream in my grasp, I’m never going to let it go.

In fact, I’m just getting started.

 

 

And I’m done, done, on to the next one

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Dead Write is on sale.

Months of writing, panicking the story wasn’t coming together, that my characters might come across as vacuous or unlikeable, that the twists wouldn’t be as clever as those in Dead Letter Day, editing, choosing covers, writing blurb for the cover (always more difficult, in my opinion, to do this than write the book) and now the anxious wait to see how it sells and find out if my readers enjoy it.

Early feedback seems to be positive from the few who have already finished the book, but there are still plenty more to go, and refreshing the Amazon page hoping to see that new reviews have appeared is like having skated in the Olympics and waiting for the judges scores. I quite like that analogy given my complete lack of poise, grace, rhythm, coordination and actual skating ability.

Now is the time for promotion. Trying to make people aware of Dead Write’s existence, and to give my novel a try, without forcing it down their throats and annoying them by relentlessly saying ‘buy my book, buy my book’. And all the while my mind is thinking ahead to the next story.

The most exciting part for me of writing a book is getting the words down on the page and feeling the novel start to take shape. Preceding this is usually several weeks of developing and plotting, hanging out with old characters and deciding what paths they are going to take, while meeting new ones and learning all about them.  And this is where I am at now.

Most of my days are spent with my characters and they are nearly in place. My dilemma now is building a story for them that will live up to the first two books.  I have so many ideas and have explored several different plotlines. None of them are quite right yet, but the story will come, and if you see me wandering around with a completely vacant look on my face, in a world of my own, I’m not ignoring you, I’m just very busy figuring things out.

Followers of my Facebook page, be prepared for many questions over the next few weeks as my dark and devious mind goes into overdrive.

 

Interview with Paul Beaumont, author of A Brief Eternity

 

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I have been very fortunate to connect with a fantastic and supportive group of authors over the past year and my plan is to introduce them to you in a series of weekly interviews.

First up is Paul Beaumont, whose thought provoking and extremely funny first novel, A Brief Eternity, was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize.

Take it away, Paul.

Can you tell us about yourself in 100 words? No more and no less.

To my general astonishment I find myself in my mid-fifties and enjoying my first proper adolescence. My teenage one was hijacked by God, who made me become a Christian but who, like Bad Santa, failed to deliver His Presence. I am a slow learner and it took me 25 years to leave my Imaginary Friend. At about the same time my wife left me, I lost my job and I had to sell the family home. What else could I do but become a writer?! In real life I work in the renewable energy sector, saving the planet. Go me!

Why did you decide to become a writer?

To impress my wife. We were going through a rocky time in our marriage and everyone knows that women cannot resist a writer, right? Well, that turns out not to be the case, as it happens, but once I had started writing I enjoyed the story so much I had to keep going. In the end, I created a book that a publisher was delighted to publish, but I’m now a bachelor, so I guess I won the battle and lost the war, in some sense at least.

Tell us about your book.

The Old and New Testaments are simply crying out for the sequel to make the trilogy complete, aren’t they? In spite of the fact that they have sold pretty well, God doesn’t seem interested in doing the job, so I’ve stepped in with my debut novel, A Brief Eternity. The book begins with the Rapture and the Second Coming, as you might have predicted if you know your Bible. Our hero, Jerry, is amazed to find that Heaven is real, and mortified to discover the same is true of Hell. Jerry’s life in Paradise has its good moments, but slides inexorably towards misery when he realises his girlfriend, Rachael, has been sentenced to an eternity in the Underworld. He makes it his mission to rescue her, a feat that will merely involve out-witting an omniscient, omnipotent God and all his angels. The story is, I hope, both thought-provoking and entertaining; it’s certainly a lot funnier than anything God ever wrote and has already received some great reviews.

If you could find out the answer to one of life’s mysteries, which one would you choose?

What triggered the Big Bang and how did the first self-replicating molecules self-replicate? (Strictly speaking that’s two questions, but I’ll get away with it because I’ve only used one question mark!)

Tell us about the authors who inspire you?

Philip Pullman, Christopher Hitchens, AC Grayling, Markus Zusak, Garrison Keillor, Ben Elton, Voltaire, Jean-Paul Sartre. Basically, anyone whose writing is either clever or funny, and preferably both.

How did it feel when you first saw your book published?

Enraptured!

What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

Well, being short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize was pretty cool; and receiving the e-mail saying “Yes” from my publisher was very exciting; but nothing beats the book launch party for A Brief Eternity. Fifty lovely, interesting, kind people came and made it the best book launch party I have ever been to. OK, so it was my first book launch party, but it was still the best!

What words of advice would you give to any budding writers out there?

Write something good, then find a publisher who is sympathetic to the genre. If no-one will publish it for you, publish it yourself. Don’t give up.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

Distraction activity. Read what I wrote yesterday. Fiddle with it. Distraction activity. Start writing new stuff. Distraction activity. Have lunch. Review new stuff; consider it rubbish and delete. Un-delete. Distraction activity. Decide new stuff is OK and write some more. Write something really funny and celebrate with well-earned distraction activity. Review new new stuff and realise it’s not so funny after all. Delete. Distraction activity. Un-delete. Have dinner. Decide new new stuff has potential after all and develop it. Get in groove and write undistracted for an hour or less. Distraction activity. Wrestle with new new stuff in order to avoid the guilt of an entirely wasted day. Eventually produce new new new stuff, some of which is OK. Pour glass of wine as it is now the early hours of the morning. Read through the day’s output. Resist temptation to Delete All; it’ll look better in the morning. Sleep.

What would you do in life if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Be a stand-up comedian

Share one quote, or saying, that keeps you going in life.

Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end (Woody Allen)

What would be the perfect day for you?

Seeing my kids; playing tennis; reading something clever and funny; writing something clever and funny; watching a play; having a dinner party with clever and interesting guests.

And the cliché question, four guests at your dinner party (dead or alive), who do you choose?

Brian Cox (the physicist); AC Grayling; Tim Minchin; Woody Allen

 

To find out more about Paul, please see the links below.

 

Web-site: http://paulbeaumont.org/

Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/paulbeaumontauthor?ref=hl

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brief-Eternity-Paul-Beaumont/dp/1908675217/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387638599&sr=1-1&keywords=a+brief+eternity

 

 

Writing versus Social Media

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I have been very bad of late, ignoring my blog in order to work on my book.

For a while I tried to juggle both, wishing there were more hours in the day, but this took a toll on my writing and eventually I had to commit myself to finishing the novel, with my only social media coming in the form of brief Facebook posts on my author page.

As I hurtled towards the finishing line I even turned my back on Facebook and was reminded of the importance of daily interaction as I saw my ‘post reach’ tumble from the 1,200 down to just 500. I need to build this back up while editing Dead Write and also to start engaging on other sites, getting the word out about the new book, in order to give it the best chance possible.

It really is a chicken and egg situation and I know I am not alone, with every other author experiencing the same dilemma. Writing is the most important thing, right? This is your product and it is what you are trying to sell. It has to be good, the best work you can produce, and it takes time and concentration to get it right. But without social media, how will the finished article reach a wide audience? You may have written the best book in the world, but what is the point if no one knows about it?

I don’t regret the time spent working on Dead Write. It is currently with my test readers and the four who have finished it so far all think it is better than Dead Letter Day, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

So I will edit and send the manuscript off to my publisher, and I will become a social media whore for the next few months, trying to get my face and name everywhere. I played the game once before with moderate success and this time I want to spread the word wider, get my book on the map.

Love me or loathe me, expect to be hearing a lot more from me over the next few months.

 

Why indie writers make me smile

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There have been many highs since winning my publishing contract. Seeing my book in print for the first time, stumbling across someone intently reading it, getting it into the bookstore, almost breaking into the top 1,000 club on Amazon and the emails and reviews of praise are the most obvious ones, but another and more constant high, has been the friendships I have struck up with some of my fellow indie authors.

I don’t get all indie authors. Some seem so far up their own book’s ass, they have no time for anyone else, and their persistent pleas to ‘buy my book, buy my book’ get extremely irritating.

Then there are those authors who because they are now published, seem to think it’s their God given right to be nit-picky critical with every book they read. Again I don’t get this.

Anyone who has written a book knows exactly what goes into it; the blood, sweat and tears, the frustrating moments when you doubt yourself and don’t think you will get to the final chapter. Our books are personal, they are the thoughts and daydreams in our heads and we are exposing them, putting them down on paper for everyone to read and desperately hoping we don’t get ridiculed.

Any writer who says criticism doesn’t hurt is lying. It hurts like a bitch. And that is why I don’t get those writers who seem to enjoy digging the boot in, because they know this better than anyone. Leave the negative reviews to the critics and the non-writing readers. If I love a book I will review it and say so. If I don’t like a book, I will keep quiet. So many people say they are going to write a book and don’t get around to it. I figure anyone who actually goes through with it deserves my respect, and there are so many different genres and writing styles, just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not good and won’t have its fans.

Fortunately I have connected with a number of very lovely indie authors over the past few months; genuinely nice people who are happy to share their experiences and swap feedback. They are always there with a kind word or a joke when needed and so supportive, and I really love sharing the publishing journey with them.

I am hoping over the next few months they will all agree to be interviewed here on this blog. I have read a few of their books and love that they have taken me out of my comfort zone, away from my usual genres. I feel privileged to be connected with such talented writers and look forward to reading more indie books in the months to come. This publishing lark works so much better when we all pull together.

Fellow indie writers, I salute you.

 

 

 

Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Don’t you forget about me.

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Everyone needs to recharge their batteries now and again and I have just returned from ten gloriously sunny days on the Spanish island of Menorca.

Before I departed England, I made a conscious decision to switch myself off from all social media. No Facebook or Twitter posts, no blogs, no book promotion at all. I knew my pages would take a hit. After all, out of sight is out of mind, and a week and a half is a fair amount of time.

I was right and on return my Facebook author page, where I am most prolific, and where it is easiest to analyse viewer statistics, had dropped by over a 100 regular viewers to just 6. Proof perhaps to those who think they can write a novel and sit back for an easy life, that if you want your book to sell, you have to be marketing on a daily basis, making the public aware of your existence.

By that, I don’t mean shamelessly self-promoting your book on every web page going, but instead building up a presence as you, the author, and engaging with your audience through entertaining posts. There is nothing wrong with an occasional polite and gentle reminder of your product, but keep ramming it down your audience’s throats and they will soon grow sick of you. Instead tell them how things are going with your current book, give updates as to what you are working on at the moment and mix things up with a few witty anecdotes from your personal life.

So readership of my page has dropped and over the coming weeks my job is to try and get this back up. I don’t regret my decision to switch off. I needed a break, to forget all things Dead Letter Day related for just a little while, and spent my ten days lazing in the sun and catching up on reading.

I used to be a voracious reader, but between writing, promotion and a full time job, I’ve struggled to complete more than a couple of books over the past six months. While on holiday I had time to immerse myself in four excellent novels (two by established authors, Karen Rose and Nora Roberts, and two debut novels by Megan Denby and Phil Simpkin) and I was reminded of the importance of reading to an author.

When I wrote Dead Letter Day I was probably averaging twenty books a year and I fully believe that reading makes you a better writer; not in terms of plagiarism, but because it helps unlock your mind and gets your creative juices flowing. And I can’t wait to get back to working on my new book.

If you are interested in checking out my holiday reading, please see the links below.

Karen Rose – No one left to tell

http://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Left-Tell-Karen-Rose/dp/0755373960/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373192615&sr=8-1&keywords=no+one+left+to+tell

Megan Denby – A thistle in the mist

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thistle-Mist-Megan-Denby/dp/1482699168/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373192648&sr=1-1&keywords=a+thistle+in+the+mist

Phil Simpkin – Jack Ketch’s puppets

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jack-Ketchs-Puppets-Introducing-Borough/dp/1482712008/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373192680&sr=1-1&keywords=phil+simpkin

Nora Roberts – Black Hills

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Hills-Nora-Roberts/dp/074992893X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373192717&sr=1-1&keywords=black+hills+nora+roberts