Saturday, 29 November 2014

I think I've finally crashed into a wall

It was bound to happen. Despite all of my best plans, I knew I was never going to be able to avoid it.

For the last couple of years, I've been so organised. I've kept a constant backlog of potential topics for this blog. This meant that whenever I sat down to post my latest entry, I always had a broad range of topics to choose from. None of this "oh no, what am I going to write about this week?" I was prepared and organised - totally on top of everything. Sometimes, I even got to the point where I was as much as two months ahead of myself.

Except that it couldn't last.

Gradually, over the last couple of months, I've seen that list of topics shrinking. Occasionally, I'd somehow manage to pull another topic out of my hat, giving me another week's grace. But those were the exceptions. Over most of the last few weeks, that list of topics has been whittled away until I finally found myself in my current state. So now I have to face the brutal reality.

I have absolutely nothing to write about today.

How could this have happened? I've always prided myself on my organisation, and my ability to be fully prepared for all eventualities. How could I have let myself slip to such a sorry state? How could I have remained a spectator, watching rather than acting as my list of blog topics dwindled into nothingness?

Whatever the case, I'm in big trouble. I need to think of a blog topic and I need to think of it quickly.And given the state of my mind at the moment, that's probably as easy as shooting an elephant with a rubber band.

Hang on, what's going on? My blog is full of words. How on earth did that happen? Here I am, one second lamenting the lack of inspiration, the next second finding that somehow a blog post has magically appeared.

Oh well. I suppose I've staved off disaster for another week. Tune in next week to see if I've actually figured out whether I have something to say.

Thunderclap alert

Before I sign out and start desperately thinking of my next topic, I just want to alert all my fans out there (or should it be, fan out there) about my Thunderclap campaign. It's simple and painless. All you have to do is go to and select one (or more) of the support options available.

What that means is that on the selected day (December 14) an update will appear on your FB timeline or a tweet on your Twitter to support my special sale for Thomas and the Tiger-Turtle.

Costs nothing. Takes less than a minute. I'd love your support.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Leaving the zeitgeist for somebody else

Don't you love that word, zeitgeist?

To be honest, I'm never quite sure if I've pronounced it correctly. Is it more like zitegist or zeetgeest? Or zitegeest or zeetgiste? Oh well, as long as I don't have to say it. I know how to write it. And I think I have a rough idea of how to use it.

It always seems to be like a compliment that people pay to writers. Especially writers who are new and hip and happening. I suppose it must be one of the biggest accolades that any up-and-coming writer could receive - that they've really captured the spirit of our times in their writing - they've really captured the zeitgeist.

It's a funny kind of thing. Who decides what the spirit of our times is in the first place? Who has the faintest idea what this zeitgeist thingy actually is? I know I don't. And I'm not even sure that I want to try.

I sometimes feel like I'm working a bit out of time. That my stories exist outside the era that I'm working in, beyond any particularly modern influences. I know that's not true. We're all influenced by the here and now, and the things that are happening around us. But I often feel like I'm in a bit of a bubble, protected from some of the dominant aspects of culture that seem to be a big deal for most other people.

Do I have a problem with that? Not at all. Maybe I'm never going to be acclaimed as the "it now" writer who is capturing the spirit of the times, but so what? Times change. Spirits change. It's easy to be left behind. I like to think I'm creating stories with more of a timeless nature. Hopefully, people will be able to come back to them years later and not find them dated or linked to a specific time.

So I'm off now to write another story which, I hope, will live on for a long time after me. As for capturing the zeitgeist? Well, I'm more than happy to leave that to somebody else.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Only for kids? I never can tell

I really enjoy writing stories for children.

It's great to write stories for an audience that is endlessly imaginative. An audience that is more than happy to suspend belief, and take in the most amazing and outlandish events. An audience that doesn't have that jaded, "read it all before" feeling that can be an issue for adult audiences.

I also love working with illustrators. It's an amazing feeling to see the characters and events in a book come to life before your eyes. Characters and events that I've often seen only vaguely inside my mind, now taking on a life of their own.

It's funny though, because when I first began writing, I never saw myself as a creator of children's tales. My main influences were more about humour, particularly via writers such as Douglas Adams and the Monty Python crew. Sure, some of their stuff could be seen as suitable for younger audiences, but a lot of it definitely isn't.

I certainly didn't begin with a conscious effort to write children's stories. My first stories were meant purely to be stories that I hoped would make people laugh. It was only during a short story writing class, some years after I'd first began writing, that I realised I might be good at producing stories for a younger audience, purely by accident.

I'd submitted a story about a king who didn't get any respect. Nobody listened to him and everyone else in the palace walked all over him. I liked the humour of the role reversal, where someone who should have been the centre of attention and reverence ended up getting none (though I have to admit that more than a bit of it was based on my own experiences). Of course, a story where the main character gets walked over all the time would be pretty boring after a while, so I made sure that my king found his own ways to enjoy himself.

I was quite amazed when I got feedback from the class. Everyone was saying what a wonderful children's story I'd written. I even got compared to A.A. Milne. People actually seemed quite touched by the story.

And here I was thinking I'd just written a funny story. I had no idea that it might be suitable as a children's story. But it did make me think. Maybe writing for children was something I could do.

Now some things have changed. I definitely think of myself as a writer of children's stories (amongst many other things). But other things are still the same. Ultimately, to me it's mainly about the story. Is it for kids? Is it for adults? I'm never completely sure.

I just want to write the best stories I can.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

New Awesome Indies anthology - Awesome Allshorts

Last week, I told you about the changes the Awesome Indies people have made to their website. This week I have some more exciting news from this group which is a great supporter of independent authors.

Today marks the official release day of the very first Awesome Indies short story anthology, titled Awesome Allshorts. 21 different writers have all contributed stories. And guess what. One of those writers is me.

21 different stories means lots of variety and lots of different voices, so surely there'll be something for everyone. And the best bit is, because these are independent authors, there are sure to be fun surprises beyond the tightly-defined genre boundaries of the legacy publishing world.

So once again, I'd like to offer a big thanks to Tahlia Newland and her team for the work in preparing this anthology, and also for considering that something written by little ole me was considered as suitable company for some of the other fine writers featured.

So (as a great Australian once said) do yourself a favour and check out the Awesome Allshorts. You can find information on where to buy an ecopy at the Awesome Indies website, and it will appear in paperback form shortly.

And even better. If you buy a copy today, the Awesome Indies have a special offer where you can pick up a free copy of an Awesome Indies certified novel. Check out all the details of the special offer here.

Hope you enjoy. I know I did.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Awesome Indies site relaunch and special sale

Today I'm pleased to announce some exciting news from my friends at the Awesome Indies website. After lots of hard work from Tahlia Newland and her team, they've now relaunched the site with an exciting new look and some great new features.

The new look site will be set up as a shop with purchase buttons linking to all the major ebook sales outlets as well as the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide) for those who like paperbacks. In addition, all Amazon and iTunes links will be global links that will automatically send customers to their local store – no more ending up in the wrong store. And those with reading devices that take epub files will find plenty of books for their devices on the new site. 

Books to suit all tastes will be easy to find by searching categories and tags. And books can be listed in more than one category, making it easy to see exactly what mix of genres you’ll find inside. Books will have their own product page with a great deal more information about them than on the old site, so you won’t have to leave the site to find the information you need to make your decision. Reduced books will appear on a sale page and in a featured spot on the front page, making the bargains easy to find, and a streamlined menu will make negotiating the site a lot easier. 

To mark the opening of the new site, the Awesome Indies are having a sale. Over 50 books priced at less than $3, many of which are rarely discounted, will be on sale for November 1st and 2nd. Plus a lucky winner can win a Kindle Paperwhite ereader. The giveaway closes at the end of the weekend, so make sure to visit Awesome Indies Books next weekend to see the new site, show your support and pick up a bargain.