Saturday, 30 November 2013

Everyone is an expert - except me

It always amazes me how much other people know.

And these people must know a lot, because they're always making sure everyone else knows about it. They're always talking about how they do this or they do that, or (more often) they've done this or done that already. And really well, to boot.

Not only are they telling everyone else what they've done, but they're also giving incredibly useful advice on what everyone else should be doing. They're busy writing up top ten lists of all the things that people need to do, or all the ways other people have already stuffed things up.

I wish I could be like these people. I'm in awe of these people. They know so much, and they're so willing to share this knowledge around. Unfortunately, there's no way I could possibly do this, because I'm not really an expert on anything. 

I suppose I could try. I could try to write out a top ten list about...something or other. But who would pay attention? Who would possibly want to follow my list of directions, especially as I'd pretty much be making them up as I went along? There just doesn't seem to be any point at all.

It's hard work being inexpert in a world of experts. When people know so much, and are so keen to let you know about it, you barely want to open your mouth or put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). You're always way too afraid to reveal your ignorance, and your complete lack of expertise about anything much.

I suppose I could say that I'm an expert in lack of expertise. I could write out a top ten list of how not to be an expert. But nobody would want to read that, would they? 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

My editor is ace

I'm working on editing at the moment. It may not sound it, but it's actually pretty exciting, because it means that I'm on the home stretch.

The work in question is the latest in the strange adventures of Neville Lansdowne. Recall that he fell off the world in Doodling and he pushed the world out of shape in Scribbling. Now, in this latest novella titled Scrawling, Neville is off on a whole new adventure with a bunch of strange new companions. Stay tuned to find out more soon.

In the meantime, I'm working on fine-tuning the manuscript into shape. The best possible shape. And for this I have to give a big thank you to my wonderful editor, Cathy.

She's been really amazing when it comes to helping me put the finishing touches to my work. It's really interesting how I can read something repeatedly and think it's clean and tight and just right, but once she's gone through it, she can point out all these spots where things are actually not so tight or clear, or could be worded better. Not to mention those pesky little typos I never seem to catch.

I really feel that she's made my a better writer. She's helped me to identify the common errors that I make, and be more prepared for them. She's alerted me to the words that I tend to overuse and overuse and overuse, helping me to be more varied in my use of words. She's pushed me to find better and clearer ways to express myself. Hopefully the results will be plain to see once Scrawling is released (either later this year or early next).

So I'd like to end this post with a big thanks to Cathy for the work she's put in to help me with my writing. As an editor, she's really ace!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Guest post - Tim Flanagan

It's always a pleasure to have guests here at Dag-Lit Central. Today I'm pleased to have Tim Flanagan here, talking about how to visually involve the reader.

Stand above the crowd - visually involve the reader!


How can you create something that stands out from the crowd? Especially when the number of books increases on a daily basis.

Well, for my latest book I decided to create something that was not only a journey in words, but also a journey for the eyes. I have always written in a style that is particularly visual, so it only seemed natural for me to one day get those words converted into pictures. But not in the form of a graphic novel. I wanted the pictures to not only illustrate a story, but also feed the imagination of the reader, take them into the story and involve them. If you want to coin a word that is used a lot these days - I wanted the pictures to be interactive with the story and reader.

Sometimes book illustrations can be too sterile, like they are looking down on a scene from above, making a statement that the viewer is nothing more than a silent observer. Thinking back to my childhood, I enjoyed regular comics, but the ones I loved most of all were those that had additional things happening on the page, other than the story. The Where's Wally books are popular with children, not because they are amazing pieces of art, but because they involve the reader.

I came across an illustrator on Twitter who liked my writing and was working with children at the same time that I was. In fact in the same week we were both talking to local school children to inspire them in writing and artwork. We talked about working together and began bouncing ideas around. I resurrected a story I had written several years ago about an eighteen year old detective, rewrote it and presented it to Dylan. We took each chapter separately, breaking down ideas for illustrations and colour scenes for him to work on. In the end we had too many illustrations and had to cut quite a lot for the final book, but the important ones were always going to be the colour full page scenes. These were the ones readers can glance at to supplement the story, or study to find the extra information and additional jokes that are added in the background that the main characters are oblivious to. These are the sort of pictures that I loved as a child that would make me get my pens out and copy.

The Curious Disappearance of Professor Brown is aimed at middle grade and teens, perfect targets for the illustrations. Working on this project with Dylan is only the beginning; we have other ideas for the future. The style of writing and illustrations set our book apart from the other reading material for young adults creating an individual brand image that is easily recognisable to readers.


The Curious Disappearance of Professor Brown, or The Pumpkins of Doom. 


Eighteen year old Lawrence Pinkley is Whitby's greatest Private Detective. In fact, he's Whitby's only Private Detective.

Pinkley's skills are called into play in the first case of a reluctant career.

One night, in a high security laboratory, a scientist mysteriously disappears, leaving behind an overly nervous assistant and a trail of pumpkin juice. Pinkley is hired to investigate the disappearance by the professors beautiful daughter, forcing him to quickly learn the skills he needs to solve his first major crime.

But every move Pinkley makes is being watched.

As he blunders from one clue to the next he stumbles across secret messages, talking pumpkins, the Russian mafia, and hired hitmen. His life now depends on him solving the case. Not to mention the future of mankind!


Available from Amazon.

Tim Flanagan - profile Info

 

At some point in Tim's childhood, he was abducted by aliens and sent on a voyage of knowledge and discovery across the universe. Eventually the aliens realised how pointless this was and, as a failed student, he was returned to Earth and left with a family who brought him up as a human bean. But, the persistent memories of new worlds, dragons and other creatures, continued to knock at his frontal lobe, desperately trying to break out.

To avoid making a mess and calm his imagination, Tim began writing as a way to communicate with Earthlings. Fuelled by Chilli and Nachos and a bottle of wine, Tim manages to balance a love of loud rock music and fast cars (preferably red!) with emotional chic flicks, smart leather shoes and a well tailored suit. He has successfully infiltrated the humans and hides behind the fa├žade known as a family. He learns from his children, but is regularly told to stop acting like a child by his wife.


Naturally shy and unsociable by nature, he is selective of the human company he keeps, preferring to be around old books, bonsai and art. He cries at 'It’s a wonderful life' but sulks if fed evil vegetables disguised as Parsnips or Peas. He is bored by mundane conversation, excited by architecture and castles and fuelled by Caramel Latte Macchiato's.


Occasionally, he likes to catch up with old acquaintances on Tatooine, Westeros, and Middle Earth, and stare at fantasy and concept art as if it is a window to his childhood adventures. He is always trying to learn lessons from the masters; Mr Charles Darwin and Mr Lionel Ritchie, about life and love. Tim's galactic mission is to translate his brain activity into a language that inspires and entertains you, transports you to different worlds and grants you an audience with the characters you have dreamt about, but never dared to remember. All of this in an attempt to redeem himself with his childhood alien abductors and travel the stars once more.


Bibliography


The Moon Stealers and the Quest for the Silver Bough (Book 1)
The Moon Stealers and the Queen of the Underworld (Book 2)
The Moon Stealers and the Everlasting Night (Book 3)
Book 4 coming out end 2013

The Curious Disappearance of Professor Brown - 15th Nov 2013


Links


My blog is the best place to get an insight into my mind. There are various posts and videos that have nothing to do with writing, sometimes just things that made me laugh or made me think.
http://www.timflanaganauthor.wordpress.com

Social Media
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/timflanaganbooks
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/timflanauthor

Join my mailing list. I don’t do spam so will only contact you when I have a new book release.
http://eepurl.com/AF_ur

Links to books
The Moon Stealers and the Quest for the Silver Bough (Book 1)
The Moon Stealers and the Queen of the Underworld (Book 2)
The Moon Stealers and the Everlasting Night (Book 3)

The Curious Disappearance of Professor Brown

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Too many passwords

Modern life is hard work.

So many things to negotiate. So much you need to know. So much you need to remember. Sometimes, I'm not sure how I manage to cope from day to day.

I'll tell you one of the things I find hardest to deal with. Passwords.

There was a time when passwords were kind of cool. Passwords could get you into secret clubs. In stories, characters would use passwords to join gangs, or gain access to hidden treasure. But these days, passwords are everywhere, and you don't use them to gain access to anything cool and secret. You need them to pretty much do everything.

At work, you can't do anything without a password. You need a password to access your files. You need a password to access your mail. You need a password for admin stuff, like putting in leave. Sometimes, you even need a password just to access the internet.

And outside work, it's just as bad. All those social networks each need a password. One for Facebook and one for Twitter. One for Goodreads and one for Google. Not to mention the ones that anyone foolhardy enough to be a writer has to have, like Amazon and Smashwords.

Then there are the essentials. Banking. Home networks. Hey, I even have a password so I can pay for public transport.

It's driving me bonkers and I can't take it anymore.

Part of me wants to be done with the lot of them, and just use one password for everything. But then people tell me that's a really bad idea. Something to do with security, apparently. I suppose I can see their point.

So I guess I don't have a choice. All that brain power I'd really love to use for creative stuff, for making things up and solving problems, is just going to have to be roped off for the absolutely uncreative but utterly necessary task of remembering my passwords.

Modern life really is hard work. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Walking on thin ice

I always feel like I'm walking on thin ice.

No, I'm not some sort of ice-skater. Hey, I live in Australia, where ice is actually in short supply. We have a couple of skating rinks, but believe me there's no risk of falling through into freezing water below.

I'm talking more about the general business of life. I always feel that as I go about my day-to-day business, I'm that close to stuffing up big time and making a big mess out of everything.

It feels like that in all aspects of life. My work. My relationships. My writing. I often feel like I don't have any competence in any of them. I'm just living a complete sham, constantly covering up and trying to hide the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing.

And I always feel like I'm about to be found out. The next thing I do at work, or the next thing I say to a family member or friend, or the next thing I write, will finally reveal my secret and I'll be well and truly revealed to all the world.

For some strange reason, it hasn't happened yet. Occasionally, there'll be near misses. I'll say or do something that will make people give me funny looks. Or something I do will create some sort of ruckus. Sometimes I'll quickly take responsibility and fix things up before they get out of hand. More often, I'll cover up, or just get myself out of there before I can be blamed.

But I know my luck can't last forever. Eventually, I know all will be revealed. Then the ice will crack and I'll fall down into the freezing water (metaphorically of course).

Hope I'm wearing something warm.

Have a great week -  and please don't tell anybody.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Things get awfully tangled sometimes

I like to think that my life is one long learning journey. I like to believe that every day I am learning something new. Something that I can make use of, to change the way I engage with things in a positive way.

I'm not sure I always manage to live up to that ideal. Sometimes, I even think I might be going backwards. But wherever I go and whatever I do, there is one thing that constantly hits me.

Gosh we humans are good at complicating things.

It happens all the time. You start off with the best of intentions. You have a clear goal and a simple plan. And then what happens? Things get complicated.

Sometimes it isn't just you. The more you involve other people, the more you know things are going to start getting tangled up. But other times, you can't actually blame other people. It just seems to happen that way. Everything seems clear and simple, until suddenly it isn't.

Of all the lessons I've taken from life, I think this would have to be one of the biggest ones. It's had a massive impact on the way I try to live my life from day to day. I'm constantly telling myself, "Keep it simple. Don't try to complicate anything." Because I know that no matter how simple I try to make it, it won't stay that way for long. But at least if I try to make it simple at the beginning, I can limit the extent of the complexity that will eventually overtake it. 

I think this is one of the big factors with my writing as well. I try to keep my stories as simple as I can. That's partly because I know that somewhere down the line they're going to get much more complicated, and I'll need to figure out how I can manage that. But also because they help to accentuate that message back to me. I think one of the main goals of most of my stories is to try to show the simplicity that lies beneath all of the complexity we create, for example using insects to demonstrate the absurdity of modern political processes in my novella Flidderbugs.

Anyway, I think I better quit this before it starts to get way more complex than I can handle. Hope you have a great (and not too complicated) week.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Awesome Indies Halloween sale - Day 3

aia_halloween

Today is the last day of the Awesome Indies Monster Sale. Make sure you visit and support the indie authors who are doing it well. Just click on the badge below.
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For the final day of the party you have a chance to win one of 14 paperbacks that are up for grabs, as well as pick up some freebies. So if you're interested in paperbacks, don't miss this great opportunity.