Friday, 27 November 2015

A foray into social media

A year ago I had no idea what a twitter or a blog was - ok, I heard of them. I'm not exactly living in planet Zod- but I wasn't sure how it worked, nor did I think I would like it. How wrong I was. I have come to love blogging and following people on twitter. This is a short blog really to say that if anyone wants to follow me on twitter, they can @AuthorGrainger.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Goal setting when writing a book

  Let me tell you that completing a book is no easy feat - getting started is just as daunting as getting to the finished line. For most writers, it is like slogging a heavy sack over ones shoulder, especially if it's your first attempt to write a book. 
   Some people write a book, do well, then fizzle out. There's a number of reasons for this: a lack of planning, self doubt, and a lack of motivation. There's one way to tackle this problem of not finishing this book, and it isn't by hiring a literary fairy Godmother to turn your book into a well-read, complete book. She might be able to turn pumpkins into carriages, but I am afraid you have to finish the 1st draft by hard graft yourself.
    And one thing that will insist you in completing a book is by setting a goal. Trust me it works, and this is from a guy who spent four years writing a book; in most of those years I wasn't productive and I spent most of my free days lying in my bed waiting for Cleopatra to feed me grapes ( she didn't arrive  by the way). I tried to get back into my book, but I just kept on saying to myself, "I'll start it in a few minutes," but I just kept putting it off, and ended up writing nothing.
   But when I did, eventually, I got into a flow, and one thing that helped me to complete the 1st draft was by setting my word count and also booking a time with yourself to complete that word count. I work full time so it was important for me to put some time aside to fulfil a standard word count I set for myself. For example, I had chosen the mornings before work and after work in the evenings. I placed an hour aside for each allocated time, and told myself that I have got to write a certain number of words. In my case, each days word count was 900 words - give or take I had to reach that number. So I aimed for 400 in the mornings and 400 in the evenings, but most times I was going over that time. Morning time, especially after you've just got up, was the best time for me and I easily completed 900 to 1000, so by evening time I would write much more, notching up to 1,500-2000 in a day. Eventually my new word count standard became 1,400 words per day - and that's how I completed the first draft of my book.
   So my advice is: set a standard word count number; start low, let's say with 500 words per day, and I'm sure you will supersede that number as you rattle along; whatever number is your everyday word count becomes your standard word count and hopefully that standard word count will be passé as you end up with a new standard word count.
   What also helps is by silently setting the finish date of your 1st draft. For example, with my last book I promised myself that I would complete the 1st draft in four months time, so I was under a personal deadline. I did meet that deadline by the way. It's actually the first thing you should do before setting a word count per day or allocating time. It puts a little pressure on yourself - it's like a silent promise to get the job done. A challenge. If you don't meet that deadline, then you just stretch it to another month or so. Look at professional authors tied to publishers' contract where they have to meet the date - they can't afford to miss days, and most times they complete the deadline. 
   And you can goal set with any part of your writing, from concocting the idea to researching it and actually starting the book. 
   I'm not a so-called expert on writing but what I shared is what I feel helps, and that's by experience. I have completed two books and I am writing a third. But everyone has a different way of working but setting goals is a good way to reach that finished line. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

More fun in Adult Fiction

   In my view, especially as a person working in a library, I can see that most of the books in the crime and thriller section are quite simply gloomy and very topical. Crime fiction is one of the most popular fiction, and has endured its popularity for many years, mainly because people like a mystery to be solved. Now I'm not bashing crime fiction,  but it is just a bit too topical, overly grim - too much like reality, so it is hardly an escape. I can understand that people like their fiction served hard and gritty, showcasing the brutality of life, but where's the pure fun in fiction?
   I particular love old style mysteries like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers where detecting was fun, but now reality is so much to the fore. To me, Alistair Maclean, my forever favourite adventure thriller writer, is another example of weaving fact with fiction and at the same time giving you fast-paced escapism. Heroism was at its best, now they are seriously flawed, and highly cynical.
    That's why I thrive to make my adventure thrillers fun - sure, there might have serious moments but the whole point is too entertain and escape. I believe a lot of people want this, rather than just read ultra serious books merely mimicking the headlines. Books can be topical, but fun too.
    I believe that YA typifies that fun and escapist element, and has less cynicism. Sure, its market is different, but these books are pure escapism, and that's why some adults read YA. In the library I work at, I have seen plenty of adults borrow them, and I'm not too surprised when I learn that it's for them and not for their children. One example sticks out in my mind is when a lady came in and borrowed a handful of YA books. She told me that she prefers YA books for the very reason that they are fantastical, light, escapist and she found AF was too dark and gritty.
   There's room for all types of books but I would love to see more fun and entertainment in books.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

An introduction

It's hard to write your first blog, but I'll start with a short introduction. I am an aspiring author, well, they say you should call yourself a writer regardless of whether you're published or not, but we will stick to the word aspiring, at least in terms of wanting to be published. I have been writing since eleven years old after reading a western by J.T Edson, and since then I have read numerous books over the years, ranging from horror, old-style mysteries, thrillers, and action-adventure fiction, which I'm now writing.
   I feel my writing has improved since I was in my thirties (I'm now 42), and have shouldered on trying to get an agent, with no luck. Fifty odd rejections so far and I'm still rolling with the punches. I am writing the second book in an archaeological-based action adventure, on the lines of Matthew Reilly, Andy McDermott, and Clive Cussler. It's got plenty of adventure, humor and adrenaline-packed action, so much so that I've taken a breather for a seconds while tapping it out. I'm halfway through the 1st draft, so thing's are looking good.
   My first book in the series will be hopefully out in next April via Amazon, if I don't get an agent by then, which, judging by my literary crystal ball, looks very slim. Anyway, I'll sign off for now - got to return to my writing.